Be Careful – 20 Years Can Go By Before You Know It

Be Careful – 20 Years Can Go By Before You Know It

What were you doing twenty years ago?

Can you remember?

If you were with me twenty years ago, almost to the date, 1996, you would have found me in Hawaii.

I was attending a week-long event with people from all around the world.

But I almost pulled out at the last moment and not attend!

Back then I was a young man with lots of dreams but no confidence.

Yet there I was, about to climb a pole where the objective was to jump off at the very top!

As I started to climb the pole I could feel it swing further and further around.

The higher I got the more it swung.

My hands are trembling from fear.

Then I hear a deep rasping voice below…

“What would you do if you knew you could not fail?”

I looked down and could see the big man himself, the giant both in stature and in heart – Tony Robbins

If you don’t know about Tony, he is the world leading performance expert.

He has coached business and sports people, even leaders of countries…

And now he was at the bottom of my pole cheering me on.

“Ross McKenzie think about this as your life – this pole is your life, do you step up, or do you sit it out?”

“Only you can decide!”

“Think about what does this mean for you!”

You can imagine what that might have been like!

I felt a greater sense of purpose than I had ever felt before.

I was in a peak state to conquer my fears!

For me, this was about stepping up, to overcome my fears and my doubts.

Just thinking about that time twenty years ago, makes me emotional.

Because I know how close I was to sitting on the side lines of life all those years ago.

Are you sitting on the side-lines of your life right now?

What will your life look like in twenty years’ time?

Will it be different to what it is now?

The decisions you make can put you on a different path.

A different destiny.

I made a decision that day to step up which changed my life forever.

Now looking back, I can appreciate what Steve Jobs meant when he said…

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward you can only connect them looking backwards”

It has not always been easy.

Road blocks have come my way.

But I also recognise that compared to most people on this planet, I have been incredibly blessed.

I also know I have not always made the most of what I have had.

But here’s what I have learned…

No matter where you are today or what resources you have or have not.

It is the decisions you make that will ultimately define who you are.

Whether that is in your personal life, professional life or businesses.

Decisions are the conduit to destiny.

How will the decisions you make today influence who you become in 2036?




noun: decision; plural noun: decisions

a conclusion or resolution reached after consideration

“I’ll make the decision on my own”

1425-75; late Middle English decisioun < Middle French < Latin dēcīsiōn- (stem of dēcīsiō) literally, a cutting off, equivalent to dēcīs

How To Set Your Business Up For An Expedition

If you were about to set off on an expedition, like those early adventurers and mountaineers did, would you agree that you would have started off with a clear objective and a plan to get there?

Imagine the expeditions to climb the summit of Everest?

Do you think these teams of climbers would of just packed a few items and then went off to Nepal and just “wing it” on a hope and a prayer?

Well of course not.

Methodical planning, preparation and of course team work took place for years as well as practice summits, before attempting the big one.

What about in business?

What about your business?

Sadly, though, many businesses do indeed start off with just hope and a prayer.

Some succeed.

Others fail.

My view is that the more methodical you can be, like you are planning the type of expedition to scale Everest, the better the odds of succeeding will be for you.

Do you want to improve your odds in succeeding?

You see in business today, when you are starting off on your expedition to conquer the world, there are many things you need to pack into your back pack.

However, we can initially condense this inventory to just four essential items…

The first of these, when you have this one, you will be 100% focused regardless of what life’s distractions may throw at you.

What I am referring to of course is the importance of clarity in what you are pursuing and why you are pursing it, in other words, your ‘life’ objective.

For the early Everest expeditions, there was no ambiguity. It was the summit of Everest period!

Even in blizzards, deep crevices or extreme discomfort from the natural elements, the summit was always in sight.

What is your summit that you want to climb?

Have you defined that sufficiently?

The next thing you need to pack in your back pack when starting your business is to know what resources you currently have and how best you can utilise these to achieve your ultimate objective.

In essence what I am referring to is the importance of you identifying your expertise.

What is it you or your business will convey to the world as you climb your summit?

Are you the solopreneur, a team of high achievers, the underdog, or something else completely different?

How will you be different to those who have gone before you? In what way will you make a difference for those you will follow you?

Once you have achieved clarity on your purpose or objective and defined what you stand for, then the next thing you need to pack in your back pack is very critical.

This is about reaching out to the right people in the most appropriate way.

For the Everest expeditions, the local Nepalese Sherpas were and still are critical to success in reaching the summit. No more evident than that is the fact that it was Hillary and Norgay to be the first to reach the summit of Everest together.

On 29 May 1953, Edmund Hillary from New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay, a Nepali Sherpa climber from Darjeeling, India reached the summit of Everest at 11:30 am local time via the South Col Route.

For business, it is a team sport, but I am not just referring to your employees or partners.

How are you helping your customers achieve their goals?

You can only do this if you know them, their aspirations, skills and capabilities and then work with them as a team, to achieve your shared goals mutually together.

So this third item is about knowing your customers so intimately there is rapport and comradeship from day one.

Finally, of course what you need to pack into your back pack as well are the tools that will solve your hurdles or problems along the way. Tools like rope, climbing crampons etc.

Now it is of course a reality that you will not always have all the tools required on your expedition to solve your problems and importantly your customer’s problems.

Sometimes you will need to improvise and adapt both to their needs, the environments needs and to your needs.

Either way, you need to be clear of the solutions to solve problems.

While climbing the real Everest is beyond most people’s reach, it can still be the metaphorical Everest. Meaning, the Everest of the business world within your particular niche or market segment.

So if you are to scale this “Everest”, then make sure you pack these four essentials in your back pack before you commence your expedition…

Clarity Of Purpose

Your Expertise Defined

Client Needs Identified

Solutions To Solve Your Client’s Problems

How To Keep A Small Business – Small (Do Not Do This)

How To Keep A Small Business – Small (Do Not Do This)

Honey I shrunk the kids!

Do you remember that movie when the inventor Wayne Szalinski accidently shrunk his kids from one of his mad experiments?

Well I do, but more so because that same phrase was once used here in Australia to describe how one particular CEO greeted his wife, but instead of kids it went something like this…

Honey, I shrunk the bank!

No doubt you have heard jokes also like “how do you get a million dollars… you start with 10 million dollars and buy a boat”!

I know it’s all funny sometimes, reality can be, but the truth of the matter is it is serious.

There is an epidemic of business failure around the world and I believe much of it can be avoided.

Strangely though for many business people they are caught in a particular paradigm or set of beliefs about themselves, or what is required for their business.

Take for example a recent presentation I attended with small business owners and budding entrepreneurs.

When the conversation of the presenter shifted to discussing the importance of having a strategy, there were some whispers in the audience saying it was getting too corporate!

Well I am not a mind reader in what this man was actually thinking, but here is my take…

This individual was so convinced that strategy was only for large companies and not necessary for him.

He felt he was “hands on” enough that whatever needs to be done will be done and if something comes along, then he can handle it.

Well here is my message to him…

You can’t handle the truth (and I am saying it in the same way as Colonel Jessep did to  in A Few Good Men)

Thinking like that will keep you as a small business.

You will not grow.

A small mind is not for small business, or any business for that matter.

You need to be strategic in your thinking, even if you are hands on in your execution.

And you can do both because it is about learning a few skills and using s few appropriate tools.

But here’s the thing.

When you do this. I mean when you start becoming more strategic in your thinking and your decision making. Like looking beyond the monthly invoice cycle some really good things start to happen.

You start to feel more empowered.

You can see direction towards longer term goals. While along the way you and your team are being motivated as you tick off milestones.

So, if you want to build a larger business (and that means different things to different people), then you must learn to become more strategic in your intent.

After all, this is about your why and your purpose in the long term.

Is Your Business Being Defined By Moore’s Law?

The Startup Business - Dr Ross McKenzieIn this week’s Economist there is a discussion around the end of Moore’s Law.

Moore’s Law, if you are not aware, is the concept developed in 1965 by Gordon Moore, (who would later go on to co found Intel) where he hypothesised that the number of electronic components which could be crammed into an integrated circuit was doubling every year.

The Economists suggests, with great detail of course, that this phenomenon is slowing down. It is though we have reached the most optimal point.

Now Moore’s Law has often been used broadly in any form of endeavour or innovation. It’s like it has become the common law of business where year by year you have to keep improving.

I recall my experience in corporate environments where the mandate would be communicated each year to take out 10 to 15% in productivity.

I am sure many of you looked forward to those mandates being cascading down through your organisation!

We would look at the typical levers, fixed cost, variable costs, capex, opex etc etc.

We would also pin our hopes in business process re-engineering, straight through processing, centralisation, shared services, outsourcing, offshoring, lean six sigma, agile etc etc

Downsizing became right sizing and right sizing became… well you get where I am coming from!

But in reflecting upon The Economist’s article today about Moore’s Law, while this may hold true in terms of potential capability (until the next breakthrough of course), it is not true in terms of “realising” this capability.

Let me explain…

I am writing this article on my old trusty Dell 17” laptop. I purchased it for AUD3195 back in December 2010. At that time, it was top of the range. It has served me well and while it is relatively large with the 17” screen, it has travelled with me from London to Phnom Penh without a hitch.

However, I have determined it is time to upgrade and I am again looking at a top of the line laptop – perhaps one with gaming specs. Not that I am a gamer, I just think I need it.

I will say that again…

I just think I need it!

You see, the question really is, did I use the full potential of my last laptop?

Possible I did not, but now I want it faster again.

So here is the question we need to really think about…

Are you making the most optimal use of what you have today?

If you introduce new capability or technology, how likely will you make use of that in an optimal way?

Now do not get me wrong, we need increased capabilities in most areas and there are people who are continually pushing their boundaries and limits to the resources they have around them.

But here is the thing.

After more than 25 years in business my conclusion is that seldom do we, or as businesses collectively and fully make use of the resources that we have readily available. Whether this is technology or people.

So today I would like to propose a new law, let’s call it McKenzie’s Law!

McKenzie’s Law states that a business’s success and long term sustainability is in direct correlation to its level of utilisation of its current resources.

In other words, whether you have been in business for a while, or just starting off, do not under estimate what you already have.

Too often we are looking at he next bright and shiny object, or worse, delaying action because tomorrow there is something even better yet to come.

Get out there!

Make a go at what you have today.

Push your boundaries.

Because I am certain that if you do this, you will be around for a long long time – may be to a point where McKenzie’s Law is no longer an untested hypothesis but in fact a natural law!

Do You Know The Big Picture?

The Startup Business - Dr Ross McKenzieDo You Know The Big Picture – Or Are You Just Crossing The Road Texting?

OK, probably an unfair analogy, but yesterday I thought I was about to see a tragic accident.

You see, I was waiting to cross the road at a busy intersection.

While standing there, the pedestrian crossing light flashed and made the sound for the other street, signalling it was safe to cross.

However, standing next to me was a young man deeply engrossed in his smart phone.

Without looking up, he proceeded to start crossing the road – but it was actually still “don’t walk” on my side and he was about to walk in front of a bus.

Maybe that was his plan – I hope it wasn’t because I called out to him and he was able to step back in time.

Now I am not the hero, because about five other people standing with me also did the same and called out to him.

As to our new friend, he sheepishly stepped back onto the foot path and proceeded to look at his smart phone – and no, it wasn’t Angry Birds or Candy Crush!

The lesson of course is that are we so engrossed in the day to day that we miss what is happening around us… the big picture.

In this case with our friend, the big picture was the disaster about to happen.

Over the years in my time working with various businesses and startups, I have seen similar things like that happen.

A typical one is cash flow, or should I say cash drought.

In these circumstances the entrepreneur is so passionate about their idea, product or service that will disrupt or transform the market, that they forget about their finances.

The disaster waiting to happen of course is that they will run out of funds and never get to launch – potentially giving up in disappointment and becoming one of those dreaded business statistics on failure.

The other side to the big picture are the opportunities that are being missed.

All too often we do not see what is actually around us or in many cases in front of us and it is only when we stop and really open our eyes that we see.

After all, do you think it is possible for example, to make money when the share market is on a downward direction, or the property market has slumped?

Well of course it is possible, it just might not always be obvious.

So let me ask you a question…

What is the “big picture” in your life right now?

Can you “see the forest for the trees” as the saying goes, or can you only see the twigs on the ground?

Are you so caught up in the doing that you are unaware of what is happening around you – busy making a living but are forgetting to live? Or as that great line from the movie Shawshank Redemption…

Get busy living or get busy dying

Recently I had an opportunity to meet with a young couple, both entrepreneurs with some great ideas.

I suggested that they go away for a weekend together.

Slow down.


Share ideas.

Because by doing this, by reflecting on where you are and then contrasting this to where you want to be starts to give you not only the clarity of what to do, but the important why you are doing it.

I will get back in touch with them shortly to see how they are doing.

But what about you?

What do you need to do today to be able to see the big picture?

Do You Want To Know About My 5:00AM Epiphany?

The Startup Business - Dr Ross McKenzieEpiphany

(1) : a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something (2) : an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple and striking (3) : an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure

I went for my 5:00AM walk – this time at Surfers Paradise at the Gold Coast, which is in Queensland, Australia.

It’s a great time to be out walking.

Not many people are about and I have the whole beach to myself.

Also the surf was huge because of cyclone Winston that hit Fiji (by the way, any support you can give the Fijians, please go to –

As I walked along the beach, I reflected on the last two days of an event I attended, hosted by my mentors and friends, Steven and Corrina Essa.

The focus of this event was around launching a 6 to 7 figure global online business.

Now Steven and Corrina are serious operators and they have been doing this for a long time and have established a global business as a result of their hard work, passion and focus.

Also people who work with them, come from all sorts of backgrounds – many who have overcome great struggles that life had thrown them.

Of course like any business, not everyone is successful, but as I walked along the beach this morning and reflected on what I learned over the weekend, something obvious and simple, but profound shouted at me.

Sustainable success by any definition, comes from helping others.

Another way to explain this is that if you are only being self-centred by focusing on what you want and obtain personally or selfishly, your vision is much much smaller.

As a result of this, metaphorically, you begin to live in a very small world.

However, when you realise that sustainable success is about reaching out beyond your own ego and needs, sometimes being vulnerable, by helping others, then your life expands.

You see, when I think about my entrepreneurial journey, what I thought was important in the past, no longer is and there are other things which drive me today.

This change has come about by spending time with people like Steven and Corrina and also when I made the specific decision about the three core values which guide me and my businesses and go the heart of why I do what I do, today when I am teaching my students or consulting my clients…

Learn, Lead, Legacy

What these simple words mean to me, is that life is a journey in which we must continue to learn and grow.

However, it is also about what we do, our deeds and actions.

To me this is about stepping up. About leading.

Not everyone will resonate with you or your business and what you stand for.

That’s OK.

But the important thing is that you stand for something and if that is about helping others then you will be building a Legacy and creating sustainable success.

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