DeVon Franklin — best known for producing the films Miracles from Heaven and Heaven Is for Real, and co-authoring the New York Times bestselling book The Wait — is a bit of a unicorn. He’s not only a top Hollywood producer, he’s a renowned preacher. He’s a recognized authority on faith and the entertainment business, not necessarily two subjects that you’d expect to see together. He discusses the blending of the two in his first book, Produced By Faith and his recently released title, The Hollywood Commandments.
Franklin seems to be winning everywhere: He’s the successful CEO of Franklin Entertainment, a production company in conjunction with 20th Century Fox, a bestselling author, a TV personality, a producer and a sought-after speaker. Beliefnet called him one of the “Most Influential Christians Under 40,” Variety magazine named him one of the “Top 10 Producers to Watch,” and Ebony magazine has named him one of the “Top 100 Influential African-Americans in America.”
Since so many beginner entrepreneurs, authors and speakers I work with struggle to combine multiple passions and messages into one brand, I could not wait to ask him how he does it all. Here are my top seven commandments on how the rest of us can follow his lead and weave together multiple passions into one successful business.
Thou shalt pay your dues.
Some may be tempted to say that Franklin is successful thanks to his proximity to Will Smith, because he started his career within the company that manages Smith. However, Franklin started there as an intern, waiting on the firm’s assistants. In other words, he was at the very bottom of the bottom. It took years before he actually had a relationship with Smith himself.
When I asked Franklin about his start, I love how he explained the phrase we’ve heard before about “taking the stairs” to success: “I pray that people don’t have overnight success, because if you get it overnight, you’ll lose it overnight. Taking the elevator to the 20th floor takes no energy, takes no effort. However, if you need to manage life on the 20th floor and you haven’t taken the steps, you might get here; but you’re not going to know how to manage it.”
He went on to explain that the process it takes to work your way up builds not only your character, but your actual capacity for managing life on that top level. Plus, getting there is not the goal, is it? It’s staying there.
“Your ability to maintain what you obtain is critically dependent on the process you went through to get it,” Franklin said. “I would never be able to do and manage what I have now if I had tried to shortcut the process.”
Thou shalt learn to be patient — very patient.
“It took over 150,000 hours, over 6,500 days from the day I set foot in Hollywood to finally getting my production company. That is 150,000 hours of showing up, serving,” Franklin shared.
He understands the frustration of feeling stuck, and he offers a great solution for those moments. Realize that the frustration is wasted energy and wasted time. Shift your attention immediately onto what you can do right then and there to be productive and create results.
“If you really want to maximize your time, fix your focus. Think about this. Every time I’m frustrated, ‘Okay, what can I focus on that can actually be productive?’ If I can focus on something productive, what’s going to happen? I’m going to feel better. Because what I focus on creates how I feel.”
Thou shalt learn to let go.
In the last few years, within the entrepreneurship and personal development space, there has been a growing focus on letting go: “Let go and let God,” “the universe has your back,” etc. I don’t’ know about you, but this can be a frustrating idea because I love to hustle. I love to solve problems and produce results — when do we push and when do we release?
“Your prayers alone aren’t enough. I talk about the concept of praying and preparing,” Franklin said, explaining his mindset. “I don’t work to make things happen. I work because I believe things are already happening.”
He explained if you start to think, If I don’t land this sale, if I don’t make this deal, everything will fall apart, you have a lack of belief, and belief is necessary for success. He reminded that desperation is like bad cologne. The moment you walk in the room everyone smells it and no one wants to go near it.
“[Think], What can I actually do today and am I maximizing where I am? Once I actually look at where I am and I say, ‘Yeah, I’m maximizing where I am,’ great. Then I’ve got to relax, to pray, to have faith and to trust. Am I doing the work? Yes, but am I doing the work to the point of losing my mind? No, because when I actually sit back and I rest in the confidence of who I am and what I’m doing, more opportunities come.”
Thou shalt be your authentic self.
Franklin doesn’t deny any part of himself in order to succeed and he says you shouldn’t either because “your difference is your destiny.”
“Too often we try to become a version of what other people want us to be. As a result, we diminish the destiny we were created to achieve. For me, [it’s] owning my authenticity, owning the fact that I am a Christian. I’m a person of faith. Owning the fact that I love Hollywood.”
He went on to quote a phrase he’d once heard from another preacher. “‘When you are rare, you are rewarded.’ It’s important to hone that rarity, hone that difference — it will lead you to your destiny.”
But, thou shalt focus on one passion first.
Herein lies the rub, multi-passionate reader. Be authentic, yes, but build a foundation first. What do you want to be known for first that will set you up to explore all of your other passions? That is your tree trunk.
“We all have different gifts … we’re really broad and unfocused,” Franklin explained. “If you’re unfocused, you’re not going to be able to hone your energy, your time, and then zone in on what are the opportunities that are going to help you build who you are and become who you need to be. It’s like the tree. If the tree does not have a trunk, there can be no branches.”
Franklin’s trunk was entertainment. He knew at an early age that he wanted to be in the entertainment industry — even though he also felt called to preach, write, etc. — so he moved to Hollywood, started his film degree and got an internship in the industry. Later, an established influence in the industry, he began writing about his faith and making faith in entertainment part of his platform.
Thou shalt prepare for conflict.
Even though it seems like all Franklin does is win, win, win, no matter what, he said that is untrue. For example, a popular Bible app wouldn’t work with him on a devotional series to go along with The Hollywood Commandments. His upcoming animated Christmas film, The Star, isn’t supported in some Christian film festivals because of its celebrity cast members. Franklin asks, when have we ever seen someone operating in their destiny who did not receive conflict along the way?
“If I’m getting conflict, then that means I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to do. It keeps me hungry. Oh, okay. Y’all don’t get it yet. I’m going to keep going.”
Franklin understands the temptation to obsess over likes and shares and follows, but believes using our gifts as a way to receive praise sets us up for “massive disappointment.”
“People are fickle. They are. Some days they love you, some days they don’t. I have found that if you just stay consistent and you embrace the conflict, and you keep moving forward, the right things happen at the right time …. Too often, we get discouraged by a ‘no.’ A ‘no’ only sets you up for the right ‘yes,’ but you’ve got to remain persistent and consistent in order to get it.”
Consistent, he added, not for weeks or months but years.
Thou shalt focus on your intentions and your audience.
It’s not about followers, but at the same time, we need ears and eyeballs to pay attention to us in order to gain new clients, share our message, etc. I asked him, how do we focus on growth and success but keep our ego at bay?
“You’ve got to look at intention,” he answered. “Ask yourself, Why am I doing this? Why am I fighting for this piece of publicity? Why am I fighting for this notoriety? What is it actually here to do?
“If the answer is just, ‘Hey, I want to be known,’ that might be just ego. Everything I do is geared toward whoever is receiving what I’m doing, to help produce a moment, an urge, a desire to do something different and positive in their life that they otherwise may not have done had that they not had that moment. Everything I do is knit by that.”
He broke down a lesson he’d heard in a sermon that explains this brilliantly.
“What do we do with the fruit tree? The tree produces a fruit. We go to the tree for the fruit. Now, does the tree say, ‘Look at me. I’m the tree.’ No. Nobody cares about the tree!
“Your [work, the gift you produce out of your talents] is really precious. The more that I just honor myself, the less the gift gets a chance to put front and center. The more I’m saying, Yes, this is the gift I’ve been given, and I want to give it, the better I feel; and the more I believe I can actually help people.
“It’s not about me, the giver, it’s about the gift.”
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How to Stay Calm Under Pressure
He started playing poker at 18 and was winning championships by his early twenties. Despite millions in winnings, world recognition and playing at the high roller tournaments, Fedor Holz is leaving professional poker at age 24.
He’s focusing his energy on creating easy-to-access training on high performance mindset tactics. And I was fascinated to learn why.
When I met Fedor a few weeks ago, he had just finished in the top rankings of a huge high roller tournament in Vegas. But instead of talking about poker, we mostly talked about how he stays grounded when so much is at stake. We also discussed how he learned to honor his decisions, even when they turned out to cost him a game.
I loved getting Fedor’s perspective on what it takes to become great at a specific skill, but he was also honest about what it costs. I was especially interested in what he said about the skill of removing emotion from actions and how that can turn out badly in the rest of a person’s life.
Whether you’re interested in poker or not, you’ll learn valuable insights about performing at a high level in anything in Episode 544.
This story originally appeared on Lewis Howes
Why Kicking Out Counterfeit Crooks on Instagram Is So Important
Would you spend over a thousand dollars on a pair of sneakers? There are plenty who would — a pair of Adidas Yeezy’s comes with a price tag of $1,000 or more. For those who are less flush, the market has become flooded with knock-off fakes. These are promoted via comments and sponsored ads on sites like Facebook and Instagram.
When Kanye West tweeted “you probably got bootleg Yeezy’s on right now,” followers responded in typical Twitter fashion, with a torrent of abuse from all angles, but when it came to real brand loyalty, sneakerheads were split. Die-hard fans rebuked the fakes, though others have been tempted by prices as low as $99.
A year later, these social commerce scams are running riot online, fueled by social bots and a growing underground counterfeit economy, hijacking brand advertising efforts. Andrea Stroppa’s “Social media and luxury goods counterfeit“ investigation revealed that 20 percent of Instagram posts for luxury brands feature counterfeit or illicit products.
At BrandBastion, we conducted an investigation into Instagram counterfeiters to examine the risks brands face on social media and what they can do to fight it.
Social media’s safe harbor for organized crime.
The luxury online retail market is estimated to reach $41.88 billion by 2019, according to Bain & Company. It’s impressive, but just a fraction of the booming business of the $461 billion global counterfeit goods market funding large-scale criminal operations. Stroppa’s investigation explains how exploitative practices force women and children to work in inhumane conditions, in turn powering illegal gangs, dictatorships and global terrorism.
Organized crime has entered the digital realm, with counterfeit trade visible on the most popular ecommerce platforms and social media streams. These operations are largely based in China, Russia, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Ukraine, though technology allows them to target global audiences.
In the U.S., the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) mandates that so long as platforms have an effective takedown system, they are not liable, putting pressure on brands to protect themselves. Until now, this has mainly impacted selling tools such as eBay, Alibaba and commerce-friendly social network WeChat, to the detriment of luxury brands like Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton and Gucci. But digitally-savvy fake sellers have graduated from basic host services like eBay, finding global reach and big profits as commerce takes off on social media. Complete with new mobile-oriented features like Instagram’s Shop Now and Buy buttons, these networks are becoming serious selling tools for counterfeit criminals.
As online sellers invest in social growth tactics, the frauds are hot on their heels, armed with ad campaigns and bots, retargeting their users and flooding sites with illegal goods. This social media safe harbor creates a playground for fraudsters using aggressive tactics, even hijacking a brand’s own social media posts or ads to target audiences with counterfeit copies.
The Instagram comments scam.
BrandBastion examined a sample of 36,000 comments from the Instagram posts of 12 top luxury brands — Salvatore Ferragamo, Manolo Blahnik, Marni, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Fendi, Jimmy Choo, Burberry, Balmain, Versace and Dior — with a combined reach of more than 62 million followers.
One in 18 comments included a serious threat for brands. Major dangers included 729 (2.03 percent) comments leading to direct counterfeiting from some 94 counterfeit sellers; 1,013 comments (2.81 percent) contained spam and scams; and 208 (0.58 percent) had brand attacks from avid activists, at times launching brand boycotts. Some retailers fared worse than others; 8.27 percent of Saint Laurent comments contained a brand threat. On the other end of the scale, Dior had 3.37 percent brand threats, though with a significantly larger following and greater posting activity.
Counterfeiters borrow images scraped from online searches, newly embed fresh information to appear unchanged, and, armed with purchased fake followers, they often appear legitimate. Fraudulent accounts post comments such as “Check out my page Got All Designer” along with contact details, such as instant messenger chat IDs, enabling encrypted conversations with so-called “salespeople.” The OECD reported that sellers post these goods via complex routes, preying on transit hotspots from “countries with weak governance and widespread organized crime such as Afghanistan and Syria.”
Fighting fire with fire.
Instagram is cracking down on fake accounts, purging millions of spam and bot accounts and using proactive tools such as spam detectors and blocking systems. But by cloning and replicating content, fresh accounts pop up every day. This proliferation of content keeps moderators busy in a cat-and-mouse chase. Meanwhile, the responsibility of tackling new social media fraudsters largely rests on law enforcement agencies, brands and innovative technologies.
A digital ecosystem to target counterfeit sellers is in early stages. Informal name-and-shame accounts on Instagram, such as @fake_education and @yeezybusta reveal identified fake sellers. Online community forums like Scamadviser, Realscam and Scamwarners allow both retailers and consumers to name and shame known offending domains. Flipping community activism on its head, third-party services and blockchain technologies, such as startup Blockverify using the bitcoin currency infrastructure, also verify goods and track sales.
The downside is that lack of formal regulation facilitates a free-for-all of independent forums and competing businesses. Moreover, uneducated consumers are often not deterred by fake labels and are unaware of real threats from criminal operations. One in four consumers report purchasing counterfeit products online — and these forums can even aid their search for fake products.
Brand managers need to be able to monitor new social media accounts using keywords, images, handles (or account names) and trending hashtags to uncover brand violations. New accounts often have similar names, posting behaviors and messages, and third-party forums also provide new leads. It’s important that brands also have community moderation checks in place when it comes to their own content and community engagement, to ensure that sellers aren’t getting a free ride through hacking their own ads and posts.
As fake sellers adopt new technology to mimic and automate brand posting behaviors, artificially-intelligent moderation tools help businesses to uncover the crooks. It’s a battle of the bots, cross-referencing masses of data and identifying trends in order to uncover new threats and scams.
Counterfeiters that have traditionally focused on luxury brands are branching out to all industries. While footwear is the most frequently copied, fraudsters plagiarize anything from high-fashion handbags to popular wines, automotive parts, chemicals, medication and even fresh fruit. With brands like Adidas, Louis Vuitton and Chanel fighting fakes and launching high-profile courtroom disputes, it draws attention to the crisis. Declaring war on this criminal activity, intelligent technology and anti-counterfeit partnerships seek to take control, cleaning up social media and kicking out those counterfeit crooks. It’s a new wave of rebellion against organized crime masquerading as luxury produce and trusted household goods.
6 Fatal B2B Sales Mistakes You Must Avoid
B2B sales can be incredibly rewarding and lucrative — if you know what you’re doing. Unfortunately, most salespeople in this field make the same few mistakes again and again. When everyone around you is making the same missteps and blunders with B2B selling, it can be extremely difficult to know how to fix your approach.
If you’re looking to overhaul your strategy for B2B sales so you can start to crush your competition, it’s time to start actively avoiding the most common B2B sales mistakes out there today. Here are the six fatal B2B sales mistakes you’re probably making:
1. Selling to low-level buyers.
It may be easier to get in front of buyers and purchasing managers than C-suite prospects, since you never have to deal with a gatekeeper in order to reach them. But those low-level buyers don’t have the power — or the budget — to tell you “yes.” In fact, they’re only really good at telling salespeople “no.” You won’t make money selling to low-level buyers in B2B sales, so make a commitment to seek out high-level decision makers who can actually say “yes” to what you have to offer their businesses.
2. Highlighting your product’s features and benefits.
There was a time when prospects cared about the features and benefits of your product. But they simply don’t anymore. Prospects today only care about the results and outcomes you can create in their world. More specifically, they want to know how you can solve their key challenges and deepest frustrations. Instead of highlighting your product’s features and benefits when selling to businesses, focus on specific outcomes your product or service can help your prospects achieve.
3. Giving proposals with only one option.
One of the biggest mistakes salespeople make in B2B sales is putting together single-option proposals. There are two major problems with these proposals. First, they don’t provide any context, which compels prospects to shop around to determine the value of your solution. Second, customers who really want to invest in a premium option will be limited to a lower-tier solution. Instead, provide a three-option proposal — ranging from the lowest end option that will still solve their problem to a higher end option with the most value — to boost your average sale size and the number of deals you close.
4. Relying solely on the phone and internet.
There’s been a big movement in B2B sales towards selling online and on the phone. In some cases, this can be efficient and helpful, but if you’re selling an expensive, high-end product or service that requires a serious investment, you simply can’t skip out on meeting face to face. Hop on a plane if that’s what it takes to sit across from a valuable prospect. You’ll increase your close rate many times over, and being able to close big deals at huge companies is well worth the cost of travel.
5. Failing to clarify your value proposition.
Every time a B2B prospect asks what exactly it is that you do, you should have a quick and rehearsed response that succinctly describes the value you create. Clarify, script out, and memorize your value proposition. This is the only part of your sales presentation you have to memorize, so there’s really no excuse for hazy, rambling answers to this question.
6. Rushing to offer deals and discounts.
Low prices only attract bad prospects in B2B sales. Your ideal customer cares about value, not price, so quit offering deals and discounts. It only lowers your value in the eyes of your prospects. Instead, focus on the value you create, and be proud to offer the premium solution on the market. This attitude will attract the type of customer who values you for years to come.
Which of these mistakes have you been making in B2B sales? How will you correct your mistakes and start crushing your sales goals? Check out this free Ultimate 3-Step Prospecting Call Template for more powerful sales advice.
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