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Rethinking Retirement

21 Mar

Retirement to most people today means the end of working a job and living off of portfolio income (401k), a pension and social security. This concept, which is fairly new, is already obsolete. To understand this let’s examine its origins and progression.

Traditionally, in early America (from its founding until the mid 1880’s), when a family member was too old or physically unable to work, the other members of the extended family took care of him. However, four important demographic changes happened in America beginning in the mid-1880s that rendered the traditional systems of economic security obsolete: The Industrial Revolution, rapid urbanization, the disappearance of the extended family and a marked increase in life expectancy.

The Industrial Revolution transformed the majority of working people from self-employed agricultural workers into wage earners working for large industrial corporations. This meant mass migrations to urban centers where the work was to be found. In the crowded urban environments, family sizes were forced to get smaller. The cost of housing, clothing and feeding an extended family (grandparents, parents and children) was undoable in the new economy. This fostered the creation of the “nuclear family” (parents and children only) which most of us are accustomed to seeing today.

The final significant change happened in the early decades of the 20th century. Better health care, sanitation, and the development of public health programs, led Americans to live significantly longer. Between 1900 and 1930, average life spans increased by 10 years. This was the most rapid increase in life spans in recorded human history.

The net result of these historical demographic and social changes was that the traditional strategies for the providing for those no longer able to work quickly dissolved.

The decade of the 1930s found America facing the worst economic crisis in its modern history. Millions of people were unemployed, and the majority of the elderly lived in dependency. The traditional sources of economic security: assets, labor, family, and charity had all failed. Radical calls for action were being made by the public. President Franklin Roosevelt responded by signing into law The Social Security Act on August 14, 1935 to pay retired workers age 65 or older a continuing income after retirement.

Fast forward to today… Four major demographic changes have made that system obsolete as we emerge from the second worst economic crisis in US history. Change from the Industrial Age to the new Innovation Age, globalization, further dissolving of the nuclear family, and another marked increase in life expectancy.

The loss of manufacturing jobs, the increase of exportation of jobs, and importation of goods from the global economy has changed the face of the job market forever. Companies no longer promise work until retirement and a pension plan for your twilight years. Nuclear families have gotten even smaller and young people are more detached from their parents as this society celebrates individuality and independence over cooperative living. Finally, as medical technology improves, people are now outliving the age for which social security, their pensions and portfolios were designed to last.

The solution… the whole concept of retirement should be reevaluated. You only retire from a job (earned income) – especially a job you don’t enjoy. There is no retirement from passive income sources. With passive income sources that pay dividends (real estate, securities and business ownership), you work hard to acquire the asset and then it continues to pay you continuously until the market changes and it can no longer provide positive cash flow. You don’t retire; you simply shift your resources into a new cash producing asset.

The Popcorn Effect

18 Mar

I often get asked by people that are new in business how to remain profitable in a down economy. To answer that question, let’s take a lesson from the Great Depression. Prior to the Great Depression movie theatres were luxurious buildings with grand, elegantly designed lobbies that rivaled the fanciest opera houses. What people do not know today is that the richly designed lobbies did not include concession stands.

What changed? The decade of the 1930s drove most Americans into dire financial straits.  People could no longer afford the relatively high price of a theatre ticket and movie houses were closing in droves. Some innovative theatre owners discovered that if they lowered the price of admission and sold an inexpensive snack, more people would come.

What was the solution? Popcorn! Popcorn is very inexpensive to make. The popcorn that you pay $5.00 for costs the theatre only 50 cents to make. The popcorn is served in an overstuffed bag or gigantic bucket to make the perceived value greater than it actually is. They also discovered that the more salt that you add to the popcorn, the larger the drink people will buy. To this day, far more money is made at the concession stand than on admission tickets (billions of dollars).

To thrive in business in today’s economy, you have to find your popcorn. You don’t have to try to create a totally new industry. You have to find a way to extract maximum profits from a market that people already have an affinity for. You have to find ways to overcome the financial barriers that would prevent people from buying, draw them in with perceived value, and make them feel comfortable with upsells, cross sells and side sells. They have to feel happy spending more money on your popcorn than the cost of admission. 

Use Craigslist to Build Business

4 Aug

Ask an Expert: Craigslist can build business

By Steve Strauss, for USA TODAY

Q: Would you know of any cheap and easy ways to get more business? My tried-and-true strategy seems to have hit a dead end and I cannot afford to spend much time or money figuring out something new. — Peter

Ask an Expert

By Steve Strauss

  • Zay Lopez, left, answered a Craigslist ad in Grand Junction, Colo., and within an hour of meeting Bob Beasley, sold him his tractor and was offered and took a job to farm 3 acres for Beasley.

    Christopher Tomlinson, AP

    Zay Lopez, left, answered a Craigslist ad in Grand Junction, Colo., and within an hour of meeting Bob Beasley, sold him his tractor and was offered and took a job to farm 3 acres for Beasley.

Christopher Tomlinson, AP

Zay Lopez, left, answered a Craigslist ad in Grand Junction, Colo., and within an hour of meeting Bob Beasley, sold him his tractor and was offered and took a job to farm 3 acres for Beasley.

Sponsored Links

A: I do, and let me share a little story first by way of background: In 1995, Craig Newmark created an email distribution list in order to share local goings-on in the San Francisco Bay Area. It proved popular, and before long, Craig found that people liked to use the distribution list for things other than social event posting, specifically, they would use it to post job listings. No dummy he, Craig soon added the category “jobs” to his email list. Soon thereafter, Craig decided to take his popular list to the nascent Web.

Craigslist was born.

By the year 2000, the site had grown so rapidly that Craig had a team of employees working on it with him and today, according to the web site, “Craigslist is responsible for getting an amazing 20 billion page views each month. That is good enough to crack the top 25 (sites) worldwide and the top 10 in the United States.”

So I have one word for you if you want a cheap, easy, and effective way to build your business: Craigslist.

There are many ways the site can be of use to you, but here are a few of the main ones:

Sell: I have a pal who recently started a mobile notary business. He gets all of his business by listing his service every three days on Craigslist. That’s it. (Tip: Because there are so many ads on Craigslist, redoing your ad with some regularity keeps it near the top of the listings.)

Think about it: Who reads the classifieds? Right, people looking to buy stuff right now. So list your service or products and get in front of that valuable audience.

Get Gigs: There is a small category listing, almost easy to miss, under the major “Jobs” listing, called Gigs. Gigs list people looking for help in a variety of categories: Labor, talent, creative, writing, computers, etc. By scouring this listing regularly, you can find work. (Note: Gigs listings are free to post, so it may take a bit of work separating the wheat from the chaff in this area.)

Respond to proposals: When I was looking for a Web developer to develop a new site for my business, the first thing I did was place a Craigslist ad in the Jobs section under the Web/Info Design category. I received a slew of qualified developers wanting my business. When I needed an assistant, my first stop was a Craigslist ad (Note: four years later, I am still working with my incredibly talented Craigslist find, Vivian.)

So if you need work, if you want to find proposals to respond to, if you need business, then the first place you should look everyday is the appropriate Craigslist listing.

By the way, that word “appropriate” is critical. You may think that the right category listing to find work for what you do is, say, Marketing and PR. But it may also be that your gig is waiting for you under Administrative, or Media, or TV and Film. Be expansive in your search.

Get Help: By the same token, finding qualified people to help you complete your projects and thereby help your business grow is easily done via Craigslist. Yes, a job listing cost $25, but that is a bargain compared to the many qualified applicants you will encounter as a result. Also, because t does cost to post here, the posts tend to be legitimate.

Search: The Craigslist search function is robust, and one benefit of it is that you can turn any Craigslist search into an RSS feed by clicking the orange RSS button on the bottom right of your search result. Another option is to use your mobile to keep up with your search. Apps such as Craigslist Mobile and Craigsnotifica give you instant updates.

Today’s Tip: Doing what I do, the nature of the beast is that a lot of books about starting a business come across my desk. But recently, one came in that stood out above the rest. “Heart, Smarts, Guts, and Luck,” by Anthony Tjan, Richard Harrington, and Tsun-Yan Hsieh, gives you what you really need to succeed in business: Entrepreneurship tests, real world stories, workable strategies, and lots more. Maybe the subtitle of this excellent book says it best: “What it takes to be an entrepreneur and build a great business.” Check it out.

Ask an Expert appears Mondays. E-mail Steven D. Strauss at: index of his columns is here. Strauss is a lawyer, writer and speaker specializing in small business and entrepreneurship. The latest of his 17 books isThe Small Business Bible, now in its third edition, and he does a weekly podcast, “Small Business Success Powered by Greatland.” Website:; also on Facebook. Follow him: Twitter@stevestrauss.

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Consumers Cutting Back? Are You Kidding?

8 May

By Peter Coy on May 07, 2012

Corrects Thornberg’s first name in 3rd paragraph.

Conventional wisdom says the economy is weak because consumers, constrained by excessive debt, are cutting back. That is wrong on two counts. I have a chart for each.

As the first chart shows, Americans aren’t cutting back a whole lot. Personal consumption as a share of gross domestic product is floating along at the highest it has been since at least 1948, at 71.1 percent. For comparison, it was way down at 62 percent as recently as the early 1980s.

This inconvenient truth—inconvenient for the “Americans are retrenching” camp, anyway—was pointed out to me by Christopher Thornberg, the founding partner of Los Angeles-based Beacon Economics. He and I were guests on KQED’s Forum radio program on May 4, along with Laura Tyson, the University of California-Berkeley Haas School of Business professor who was President Bill Clinton’s chief economic adviser. Here’s a link to the Forum podcast.

Personal consumption includes spending on imports, by the way, so some of the dollars leak overseas. It also includes almost all health-care spending, about half of which is under the control of the government, as my ex-boss, former BusinessWeek Chief Economist Michael Mandel, always likes to say.

It’s not that consumers are on a shopping spree. It’s that the other sectors are even weaker. Investment is sluggish because businesses are pessimistic about growth; direct government spending (not including transfer payments such as Social Security) is lagging because state and local governments are cutting back; and net exports are negative (i.e., we’re running a trade deficit, albeit one that has shrunk a bit).

Bottom line: As weak as they are, consumers are the engine of this sluggish recovery.

The second chart shows a key reason consumers are not cutting back: They don’t need to. This shows the Federal Reserve’s measure of financial obligations. It’s defined as the ratio of debt payments and other fixed charges to disposable personal income. The fixed charges include car lease payments, rent, homeowners’ insurance, and property tax payments.

Extremely low interest rates are making Americans’ debt sustainable. The burden will increase when rates start to rise, but presumably that won’t happen until the economy is getting stronger and incomes go up.

Says Thornberg: “There’s this ongoing argument that we’re in a painful period of deleveraging. No, we’re not, because there’s no reason at these interest rates for anyone to have to deleverage.”


3 Simple Rules for Investing

30 Apr

Published on Mar 12, 2012 by InsidersGroup

Heru Ur Nekhet, financial strategist/founder of Insiders Group Inc and author of Recession Driven Riches, answers your financial-based questions with actionable solutions.

Heru Ur Nekhet, CEO of Insiders Group Presents at Historic Event at National Black Theater, Harlem, New York on Sunday, April 29, 2012

25 Apr

Heru Ur Nekhet – Financial Advisor, CEO of Insiders Group, Inc. is a Guest Speaker & Presenter this Sunday, April 29, 2012 at “The Man Heal Thyself Family Day” at the National Black Theater, Harlem, NY.

Heru Ur Nekhet has been a financial leader, teacher and an exemplary example of a family man in the City of Wellness and The Queen Afua Wellness Institute community for over 20 years. He has been invited to this historic event to present and speak. He presents in the first half as one of the Teachers for the Man Heal Thyself Training and as a Financial Specialist in Wellness Entrepreneurship where he will offer his training in newly COW University.

Global Nation of Wellness Presents …

National Black Theater
2031 5th Ave New York, NY

Sunday, April 29, 2012
3:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Doors open at 2:30 PM





NICHOLAS: BROOKLYN 718-858-4400, MANHATTAN 212-289-3628

Latest Video Interview (3/27/12) of Heru Ur Nekhet of Insiders Group

2 Apr

Author and financial strategist Heru Nekhet responds to the latest viewer questions about how to choose the best strategies for real estate in the current economic climate.


See more about Mr. Nekhet at and

Boost Your Career with Social Media: Tips for the Uninitiated

11 Mar

11:55 AM Tuesday December 20, 2011
by Amy Gallo

You’ve heard the horror stories: a job applicant gets turned down because his potential employer discovered his objectionable tweets, or saw pictures of his keg party on Facebook. There is a lot of advice out there about keeping your online activity from hurting your career. But there’s a flip side. When handled correctly, social media can help you professionally. You can use it to enhance your personal brand, establish yourself as an expert in a field, or demonstrate fluency with all things digital. The key is to be proactive about managing your activity and image.

What the Experts Say
It used to be that people were deemed to be experts based on their titles, years of experience, or length of their CVs. While those things are still important, especially in some circles, they’re no longer the only ways to show credibility. “Status is much more democratic now. Expertise can be noticed more easily,” says Soumitra Dutta, a professor in business and technology at INSEAD, author of “What’s Your Personal Social Media Strategy?” and coauthor of Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom: How Online Social Networking Will Transform Your Life, Work and World. Social media allows anyone to put their ideas out there and to gain respect, notoriety, and a following. “The opportunity to reach people directly is powerful, and still underexploited,” says Dorie Clark, a strategy consultant and author of the forthcoming book What’s Next?: The Art of Reinventing Your Personal Brand (Harvard Business Review Press, 2012). To make the most of social media to further your career, you need to make a conscious choice to use it for professional purposes, understand what your goals are, and then actively manage your digital footprint.

Put your professional self online
Most people have dipped their toes into some form of social media. If you’re already out there, it makes sense to think about how professional contacts, especially potential employers and current colleagues, will see you. “More and more we have to realize that there is no such thing as private space online,” says Clark. Dutta concurs: “Privacy today is something you have to work hard at. You have to assume your actions are public by default.”

Commit to using social media for more than personal reasons. This doesn’t mean you have to start a whole new online persona. Some people are comfortable with the blurring of the professional and personal boundaries. Others find it difficult. Decide which social media channels you’ll use for what purposes. For example, Clark makes this distinction: She uses Twitter and LinkedIn for professional reasons and does her personal interacting on Facebook. Dutta says it’s a personal choice that each person needs to make. The key is to think about what people will see when they look you up in each space.

How it works
When it comes to advancing your career, there are three things social media is particularly suited for:

  1. Building your personal brand. “It gives you a great opportunity to brand yourself, especially to internal colleagues and external peers,” says Dutta. When people peruse your social media activity, they get a sense of what you’re about. The more you comment on or write about a certain area, the more likely you’ll be affiliated with it. Clark points out that social media has an “echo chamber effect” in which even a small amount of content can go a long way toward establishing you as an expert. It is a medium that doesn’t require credentials to prove your credibility. Dutta says that if you are passionate about a topic and argue your perspective in a compelling manner, you can begin to generate a following. Even if you aren’t trying to be labeled as an expert, contribute to discussions you find interesting, are related to your industry, or you simply want to be part of. “Social media can be a way to demonstrate your familiarity with a field,” says Clark. “If you blog or tweet about a topic it shows that you’re in the game.”
  2. Demonstrating your proficiency with all things digital. “It shows you’re up on digital trends, which are affecting every company,” says Clark. Employers are increasingly looking for this competency in potential employees. She also points out that this may be especially important for baby boomers: “If you’re over 50, companies are worried that you won’t be able to use social media and other digital tools.”
  3. Learning from your digital network. By design, social media is a conversation. When you post information, people like, comment on, or forward your thoughts. This means that not only can you put ideas out there but you can learn a lot as well. “You have to be open to a two-way dialogue and hearing other people’s points of view,” says Dutta. Becoming part of an online community is a great way to identify and follow trends in your areas of interest. You can also turn to your network with specific questions about your field or even a job search.

How to start
Once you’ve committed to using social media for professional purposes, it is easy to get started. Here are three things to do:

  1. Figure out what space you want to play in. Before you join the conversation, think about what topics you want to be associated with. “You need to ask yourself, what you want to be known for? What are you passionate about? What are your distinctive views?” says Dutta. Find the forums where other thought leaders are talking about that topic. While it is more manageable to focus on a particular subject or two, you can also dabble. “You can work hard to showcase you’re an expert in a certain area but participate in other conversations too,” says Clark. For example, if you’re in sales, you are likely to have a depth of knowledge in that area, but you can also show that you know something about marketing or finance.
  2. Establish a presence. Give people something to see when they look for you online. One of the easiest ways to do that is to set up a LinkedIn profile. Make sure it is robust: fill out the experience and specialties fields. Provide links to your other social media activity. Then, consider setting up a Twitter account if you don’t already have one. Clark suggests that you commit to posting to it once a day, even if it’s just a retweet.
  3. Generate content. To truly establish yourself as an expert, you need to create a following. Create content that people want to share. “If you want to drive home that you have expertise, post articles that show, don’t tell, you have expertise,” says Clark. If people find your opinions and perspective interesting, they will do a lot of the work for you. Clark says the goal is to build an army of ambassadors who pass on your content to others. “You lose credibility with people if you show you’re blowing your own horn. You need other people to blow the horn for you.”

Play by the rules
While social media has very few rules, most companies do. Before you begin tweeting about your work or start a blog showcasing your expertise, be sure to know your company’s policy on social media. “You may not be able to talk about certain industries or what you do for the company,” says Clark. Adds Dutta: “When you’re part of an organization, you are already ascribing to rules and values. In the online space, it’s important you don’t violate that,”. If you are banned from mentioning your job or company, you can still accomplish the goal of demonstrating proficiency in social media by blogging about other things you care about, such as baseball or cooking. While not strictly professional, it might just cause a boss or recruiter to take notice?

Principles to remember


  • Consider what potential employers or colleagues will see when they find you on social media — you don’t want them to see nothing
  • Decide which social media channels you’ll use for professional purposes — it’s ok to mix personal and professional
  • Create content that others can forward, retweet, or repost


  • Say you’re an expert — show it by posting compelling content
  • Limit your social media activity to one topic — participate in many conversations so you don’t get pigeonholed
  • Inadvertently violate company policy — check what rules your employer has set around social media

Case study #1: What boundaries?
Dany Bourjolly Smith, the director of human capital management at Ross Technologies, an IT solutions firm based in Baltimore, first started using social media back in 2006. She had a basic LinkedIn profile but rarely posted any content related to her work. In 2007, while she was a recruiter at another firm, she needed to hit an ambitious hiring goal within six weeks. To succeed, she thought, “I have to fire every engine I can think of.” So she turned to social media to find candidates and was able to fill the positions within the deadline. Many recruiters use social media to find job seekers and build a pipeline of candidates but for Dany it’s more than a tool to do her job. “It is an opportunity to brand myself as an effective talent acquisition professional,” she says.

She is an avid user of Facebook, where she has over 1,700 friends, and her status updates are often a mix of personal and professional. Originally she used the updates to share many of the humorous things she saw and experienced reading thousands of resumes and interviewing hundreds of candidates. Her network responded well, asking questions and requesting more. She realized that inherent in those entertaining posts was valuable advice. She now prefaces some of her posts with “Recruiting Tip:” and offers tactics, strategies and guidance for people in her network who might be looking for a job. Dany sees her activity on Facebook as a way to further her personal brand, which she summarizes as “I connect people”. “Without social media, I might not have established myself as a thought leader,” she says. She may also not have gotten as far in her career. Her current employer, the founder of Ross Technologies, saw what she was doing on Facebook and recruited her. He gave her an offer she couldn’t refuse and the opportunity to run her own division.

Case study #2: Social media as a reference check
As the owner and managing partner of Avakian Consulting, Joel Gagne helps school districts and municipalities communicate with the public. It is important that potential clients see Joel as adept with various forms of social media. Therefore, he regularly publishes content that shows his familiarity with the medium as well as his expertise in communications and marketing in the public sector. “It’s about putting myself and the company in a position of being an expert,” says Joel. While he rarely attracts new clients through social media (most of his work comes through referrals), it elevates his profile with potential clients who seek him out. “It becomes an extension of our credentials,” he says. Joel sees his social media strategy as a three-legged stool, with the blog being the center and Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube as each of the legs. In each of these spaces, he posts content about communicating effectively with public constituents. Joel says that his social media presence often serves as a reference check. Prospective customers learn more about what Joel does and they get a taste of what it’s like to work with him. “Potential clients get a better understanding about my business and whether there’s a fit,” he says. Clients are checking that he has a distinct perspective on or experience with the issues they care about.

2012 Assessments for Recession Driven Riches

30 Dec

This article is an excerpt from the book, Recession Driven Riches by Heru Ur Nekhet, national Renowned Rags to Riches Guru.

Chapter 5
Make An Honest Assessment Without Judgment

“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.”
-Will Rogers

“Don’t succumb to excuses. Go back to the job of making the corrections and forming habits that will make your goal possible.”
-Vince Lombardi

Despite the appearance of wealth created by the mass accumulation of material goods during the last boom (homes, cars, electronics, clothes, etc.), most Americans got into the habit of living on borrowed money. Still in denial and oftentimes overwhelmed by the gravity of their financial situation, the majority of those people now find themselves deep in debt with no feasible plan to get their heads back above water. Proper realignment requires you to perform an honest assessment of your current skills, confidence, resources, mental and physical health, time management, asset values, and soundness of potential business ventures or investments. It is easy to minimize or exaggerate your financial situation if you are judgmental about how you got into the situation.

In order to effectively create a plan of action to fix your current situation, you have to know exactly how much income you have from all sources (job, investments, business, etc.) as well as exactly how much money is being spent in that same amount of time. It sounds simple, however most people never take an accurate accounting of how much money passes through their hands each month or year. Be careful not to overlook any income or expense no matter how small it might seem. Even the small expenses add up over time. If you don’t want to use the old fashion pencil and paper method to create a balance sheet, you can use an online expense tracking website such as or

It is important that you also check the current value of any assets that you currently own. These assets include your home value, investment property value, securities (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, IRAs, etc.) and any other holdings you might have. Oftentimes we invest in assets and just forget about monitoring them to make sure they are still worth keeping. For real estate values you can check or For securities you can check to see if they are profitable. For other assets such as gold or silver you can go to, but for collectables you should get a professional appraisal.

How do you know if an asset is worth keeping? The answer is simple, if it is currently performing at a rate of return that meets your current needs, then it is worth keeping. If it is no longer performing to your standard and the prospect of a turn around is not imminent, then cut your losses and get rid of it. Let’s start with your home. If your current home value is less than the purchase price, then you are paying on a mortgage for the next few decades far more than the price will ever be again. You are financing something that will probably never be worth what you are paying. This raises a couple of issues. First, it will never gain equity so you cannot borrow against it. Second, you will never be able to sell it and recoup the money you put into it. If you have no desire to ever borrow against it (refinance) or to sell it, and you have no desire to take advantage of the fact that you can now get more home for less than what you are currently paying, then you don’t have to do anything. Enjoy your overpriced home.

After taking an assessment of your current assets, you must seriously evaluate what resources you currently have to work with. These resources might include cash reserves, creditworthiness, insurance, professional advisors (accountant, broker, financial consultant, attorney, etc.), support from family or friends, knowledge, skills, etc. If you find that you are lacking necessary resources, then part of your realignment plan must include gathering needed resources.

Some Things to Assess

  • Debts – credit cards, loans, mortgages, etc.

  • Investments – real estate, stocks, bonds, IRA, TDA, 401(K), bank account, Certificate of Deposit (CD), gold, collectibles, etc.

  • Asset Values – real estate equity, gold appreciation, stock prices, collectible value, etc.

  • Income Sources – job, business ownership, dividends, rental income, etc.

  • Relationships – partnerships, family, friends, dependants, etc. Are they supportive or detrimental?

  • Skills – relevance and market value of skills, obsolescence of skills, etc.

  • Resources – time, cash flow, credit, partnerships, professional team, etc.

  • Expenses (liabilities) – basic living expenses, appropriateness of expenses, where and how to minimize expenses, etc.

  • Insurance – appropriateness of coverage, lack of coverage, excessive coverage, cost of coverage, etc.

  • Taxes – appropriate shelters, deductions, structure, etc.

  • Information Sources –news sources, opportunities, networking events, clubs, organizations, advisors, mentors, etc.

Get You Copy of Recession Driven Riches Now at

Business Lessons from Steve Jobs

10 Nov

There’s no doubt in my mind that Steve Jobs was a true innovator. What lessons can small-business folks like me learn from him and apply to our businesses day to day?

Yes, Steve Jobs was a great innovator and there are several lessons we can learn from him. As I wrote on, innovation doesn’t necessarily mean invention. Too many people think only creation equals innovation — but reinvention can be just as innovative. Indeed, Jobs was an inventor, but you could argue that his true genius was in re-creating.

Jobs was also a visionary. This trait can help turn an ordinary business plan into an extraordinary business. The key to growth is to think about what your business can be, not what is. Jobs once told technology journalist Walt Mossberg that he saw Apple as a digital products company, and not as a computer company. And part of having vision is anticipating customer needs. Jobs wasn’t reactive; he was proactive, getting customers hooked on products they didn’t even know they wanted.

Remember Apple’s old marketing slogan: “Think Different.” Obviously, Jobs thought differently. And according to Hal B. Gergersen, a professor at the European Institute of Business Administration and co-author of “The Innovator’s DNA,” part of Jobs’ extraordinary success came from him being a “disruptive innovator.” The book pinpoints five traits disruptive innovators share: “questioning, experimenting, observing, associating and networking.”

In particular, Gergersen told The New York Times that associating is about making “intellectual mash-ups” — that is, getting inspired by ideas outside your industry.

Jobs excelled at that. Carmine Gallo, author of “The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs,” says Jobs strolled through the Macy’s kitchen appliances department when creating a computer “people would want in their homes.” And his biographer, Walter Isaacson (“Steve Jobs”), told “60 Minutes” that traveling through India (while on leave from his job at Atari) “informed [Jobs’] design sense … that notion that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Perhaps the most important lesson we can learn from Jobs is persistence. After getting fired from Apple in 1986, Jobs rose like the proverbial phoenix. Heed the advice he gave in a 2005 commencement address at Stanford: “Getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything … . Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.”

And in what can perhaps be considered an action plan for entrepreneurs, Jobs advised: “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition … . Be curious, experiment, take risks … . Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

— Rieva Lesonsky