Category Archives: learning

Recommended reading

For entrepreneurs

In the recent 2020 Edition of DON’T DO IT THE HARD WAY, I included my updated list of recommended references and books for entrepreneurs, to manage themselves and their businesses better. (See Part 6. Page 231)

The full list is available at below:

In order to help you be better as an entrepreneur, leader, manager and human being, I recommend the following authors for more ideas, information and inspiration. In my opinion, they are among the best at providing thoughtful insights and powerful advice.

I recommend that you make time for them in your process of continuous learning and improvement. Make your own selection from the list below, then find them online, follow them and read their work.

Management Gurus with advice for entrepreneurs

Here are some of their good books and a few memorable quotes:

Tom Peters

In Search of EXCELLENCE, 1982

“There is no more important trait among excellent companies than an action orientation. ... if you've got a major problem, bring the right people together and expect them to solve it.  They do, somehow, have the time." 

"Excellent companies are a vast network of informal, open communications. Forget the MBA - Masters in Business Administration – and remember the MBWA – Management By Walking Around."

Thriving on Chaos, 1987

"A well-handled problem usually breeds more customer loyalty than you had before the negative incident."

“Measure! And reward on the basis of the measures."

Henry Mintzberg


“Leadership has pushed management off the map…. Now we are overled and undermanaged.”

“Strategies are not immaculately conceived in detached offices. They are learned through tangible experiences.”    

Harvey Mackay

SWIM WITH THE SHARKS without Being Eaten Alive, 1988

"A goal is a dream with a deadline. Write it down" 

"Dig your well before you're thirsty"

"You'll always get the good news; it’s how quickly you get the bad news that really counts."


"Do what you love, love what you do and deliver more than you promise."

"You're a lot better off being scared than being bored."

Jim Collins

Built to Last, 1994

"Visionary companies almost religiously preserve their core ideology. Yet, they display a powerful drive for progress that enables them to adapt and change without compromising their cherished core ideals."

"Good enough never is. For these companies the critical question is – How can we do better tomorrow than we did today?"

From Good to Great, 2001

“Good is the enemy of great.”

“Confront the brutal facts, yet never lose faith.”

Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman

First, Break all the Rules, 1999

The one insight that we heard echoed by tens of thousands of great managers: People don't change that much. Don't waste time trying to put in what was left out. Try to draw out what was left in. That is hard enough."

Seth Godin

The Bootstrapper's Bible, 2004

"In advertising... persistence is the secret to success."

"In choosing partners remember: Ringo was the luckiest Beatle... a mediocre drummer riding on the backs of three musical geniuses."

Guy Kawasaki

The ART of the START, 2004

"Build a business to make meaning (the money will follow).”

“Have a mantra, not a mission statement.”

“Advertising is what you say about yourself, PR is what other people say about you. PR is better.” 

For some alternative points of view:

Michael Gerber
The E-Myth

Gerber claims he originated the cliché: Work on your business, not in your business. But his over-worked theme is a useful reminder to develop your business organisation and processes so that it can run without you in it every day.

Bo Burlingham
Small Giants

An interesting study of small eccentric companies that decided to succeed by staying small. The conclusions are a stretch to fit the hypothesis that small is better, but worth reading to remember to build your business for yourself; not to chase some dream of global grandeur.

And from an entrepreneur of two hundred and fifty years ago: Benjamin Franklin

Perhaps best known as an American statesman and scientist, (he signed the Declaration of Independence, flew a kite in a lightning storm and has his picture on the U.S. $100 bill), Ben Franklin was also a very successful entrepreneur. A printer by trade, he launched several businesses and introduced the concept of franchising to his printing shops. He was successful enough to retire at age forty-two.

He was also a prolific writer and intelligent observer, analyst and commentator on business and life. It is worth considering Ben Franklin's 12 Rules of Management by Blaine McCormick, 2000.

In summary:

  1. Finish better than your beginnings.
  2. All education is self-education.
  3. Seek first to manage yourself, then to manage others.
  4. Influence is more important than victory.
  5. Work hard and watch your costs.
  6. Everybody wants to appear reasonable.
  7. Create your own set of values to guide your actions.
  8. Incentive is everything.
  9. Create solutions for seemingly impossible problems.
  10. Become a revolutionary for experimentation and change.
  11. Sometimes it's better to do 1001 small things right rather than only one large thing right.
  12. Deliberately cultivate your reputation and legacy.

More Reading for your personal management issues:

To do better in life and manage yourself past the entrepreneurial challenges, these are my recommended reads for personal self-improvement.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey, 1989

"Begin with the end in mind."

"Seek first to understand, then to be understood."

More spiritual than you might expect, but some great insights and tools for personal management.

The 8th Habit, Stephen Covey, 2004

A follow-up book presenting the values of principle centered leadership.

Awaken the Giant Within, Anthony Robbins, 1991
"It is the small decisions you and I make every day that create our destinies."

"It is not events that shape my life and determine how I feel or act, it's the way I interpret and evaluate my life experiences."

The original concepts that launched Tony Robbins and the self-help industry.

The Intelligent Investor, Benjamin Graham, 1973
From the professor who taught Warren Buffet how to grow his investments to be worth billions. Buffet calls it "By far the best book on investing ever written."

The Wealthy Barber and The Wealthy Barber Returns, 

David Chilton, 1989 and 2011
An easier read than Benjamin Graham and a great basic handbook for personal financial management. It should be required reading for every high school student and every investor paying someone else to manage their money.

Any of these books will help you focus on the fundamentals and achieve more successful approaches to your personal growth and development. It's worth finding the time for them.

And if you have others to recommend, I would be pleased to hear from you. Did I miss any of your favourites worth re-reading or recommended for sharing?

And for something new and different, take a look at the Self-Help Bonanza Book Promo for your choice of free new E-book releases from expert writers. Limited time offer, expires April 25th. Tips and tactics to do better in life, business, and relationships. Including my two books for entrepreneurs. Share with a friend who wants to be better, do better.

Be better. Do better.

Del Chatterson, Your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship at: 

Read more of Uncle Ralph's advice for Entrepreneurs in Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.

 Read more Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs


Where did that come from?

Explaining sales is hard to do

As a wise marketing agency executive once said, “I know that half of our advertising works, I’m just not sure which half.”

I have the same impression of my own efforts at sales and marketing. Something’s working, I’m just not sure what.

So how do you keep doing what’s working, if you don’t know what’s working. You keep pushing, testing, monitoring and adjusting to continue getting better results. It will never be a straight line between cause and effect.

When you toss a message bottle in the ocean the ripples ricochet and send it in many different directions. It may touch the shore miles away or bump a passing boat at sea before it’s picked up and the message is read. And that person may not even care. Will they toss it back or send it to someone you intended it for? I hope you threw a lot of message bottles into the ocean. (It’s a metaphor. Please, no more plastic bottles in the ocean.)

It’s worth remembering the mysterious magic of The 4Ps of Effective SalesmanshipPatient, Persistent, Polite & Persuasive and applying those principles yourself.  They still work for me.

As you may have noticed, I’ve published several books recently for entrepreneurs and about entrepreneurs and I’m trying to follow my own advice. Be Patient, Persistent, Polite & Persuasive in applying the sales and marketing tactics that are most appropriate to the product and the target customer/reader. But it's strange how sales work.

Here’s an example.  My royalty statements recently showed a sale of 152 E-Book copies of my novel, Merger Maniac. That was unusual, so I drilled down into the details.  Apparently a bookseller in South Africa bought them from my U.S. distributor for re-sale to an online education site in the U.K. I hope they didn't think it was a text book on mergers. It’s a novel! About crime and corruption in the international computer business of the 1980s. I haven’t seen the reviews yet. And I haven’t been able to track down the buyer or the 152 new readers.

So I don’t know what buttons to push to make it happen again. I’ll just keep pushing the same buttons and hope I’m hitting the ones that seem to be working. Reviewing results and tracking down the details to improve performance wherever I can.

You should continue to apply the same tactics to your own sales and marketing efforts.  And enjoy the results even if you can’t explain them.

Be better. Do better.

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship at:

Read more of Uncle Ralph's advice for Entrepreneurs in Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.

Read more articles at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs


Do-It-Yourself Business Plan? Yes, you can!

What? Why?

What is a Business Plan? What are the results you  want?  

Good questions. Here are my answers.

A business plan is a document that describes your idea for realizing a business opportunity. It describes the market need that you have identified and the proposed strategies and plans to turn your idea into a profitable business.

The business plan is a communications tool to be used with all the prospective participants in your project. It will identify and confirm the business opportunity, define your proposed business model for responding to that opportunity and describe the strategies, operating plans and financial results that you expect.

It is not exactly a sales document, but it will be used to sell your concept and approach to convince sources of financing and strategic business partners to participate in your plan.

An acceptable Business Plan will include a detailed and comprehensive description of the planned project or new venture with extensive financial analysis and projections, plus supporting material that might include executive profiles, product brochures, facilities plans and market research studies.

The three key components in a Business Plan therefore, are:

  1. A clear, persuasive description of the business opportunity and your strategies and action plans to respond to it.
  2. A complete detailed set of financial projections confirming the investment required and the expected future profitability.
  3. Supporting documentation that confirms the objective research and analysis for the conclusions, proposals and projections shown in the plan.

The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans will explain:

  • How to prepare all the elements required for a complete business plan package
  • How to get the most out of the process
  • How to get the results you want.

Why Do You Need a Business Plan? It has a purpose. 

The most common reason for preparing a business plan is, “because the bank asked for one.” That is probably why most readers of this Guide are here. And that is obviously a legitimate reason for doing one. But why is the bank asking for one? And do you need one for the same reasons?

The answer is as simple as the familiar cliché: If you fail to plan; you plan to fail.

It’s hard to know where you’re going and how you’re getting there without a plan. It’s even harder to manage your progress if you haven’t defined your destination and set the milestones to monitor along the way. What route are you taking? What type of vehicle are you using? Who’s driving and who are the passengers? Why?

The bank, and any other investor or business partner, wants the answers to those questions to assess whether or not you are likely to succeed and whether or not they want to support you.

You need a business plan for all the same reasons.

Every business needs one, from the start-up to the exit.  

Documenting a Business Plan is an extremely useful process to focus the owners and the management team on their business model, strategies, and operating plans. The process will force consensus and decision making that might otherwise be neglected. It requires issues to be resolved and the conclusions to be documented after testing alternative solutions and their financial consequences.

A well-documented business plan will help you communicate the most important elements of your strategy and plans to the people who need to know them the most. Including you.

Maybe you’ve been successful in business for many years and never had a business plan. It's still a good idea for all the same reasons.  And now is a good time.

Maybe you’re ready to exit your business. Even better. A solid business plan will be the most important document you have to support the value of your business for sale or transfer to a new owner.

The greatest value of a business plan, however, is always in the process – involving your management team in a thorough examination of your business; its purpose, its strategies and its plans to ensure success. When it’s completed, all the key players will be more knowledgeable of the issues, the opportunities, the risks and the alternative paths considered and the reasons for the choices that were made; before committing to the final plan.

For a small business start-up, that management team may only be you. Maybe you’d rather keep your plans to yourself. But the business plan is still a valuable exercise. It forces you to answer all the questions that you should ask yourself and that will certainly be asked by the next people to get involved.

With a well-documented business plan you will be better prepared to meet all the challenges and more likely to succeed.

Be better. Do better.

And take care of yourself,

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

 Learn more at:

 Read more in Uncle Ralph's books of advice for Entrepreneurs: Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.


Learning & Storytelling - Presentation/Seminar including Author Sale & Book-signing.

July 11th, 5-ŕ-7 Bureau en gros, @ St. Charles & Transcanadienne, Kirkland, QC.



Which do you prefer - Fact or Fiction?

 Business text book or crime fiction with an entrepreneur as hero?

Entrepreneurs learn best by sharing stories - Fact or Fiction?  A boring business textbook or a crime thriller with the entrepreneur as hero?

What are the differences between my business books and the crime novels?

Real-life stories:

  • More facts!
  • More details
  • More useful to understand and apply the strategies, tactics & techniques

Crime Fiction:

  • More fun to read and to write!
  • More creative ideas and inspiration
  • Easier to remember the guiding principles
  • Introduces a new and wider audience
  • Allows more subtle cheerleading for entrepreneurs and the promotion of Enlightened Entrepreneurship

Everyone learns by sharing stories. But the choice of fact or fiction is all yours.

You're welcome to join the seminar on July 11th. All the books are available online or at your favourite bookstore. Please have a look, then try, buy, read, review and share with a friend.

Thank you!

Christmas Shopping Lessons for Entrepreneurs

Ho! Ho! Ho!

I’ve always said I never wanted to work in retail. It’s hard work and unreasonable hours. Customers expect too much and are willing to pay too little. Employees ask too much for doing too little. And both groups are probably stealing from you.

It’s a harsh judgement based on limited evidence, I know, and my recent Christmas shopping experience has given me new insights and a new respect for retail.

You may have noticed, my latest entrepreneurial adventure is writing fiction. It has been an interesting and challenging process and forces me into doing retail. There’s no point in writing the book if you don’t sell a few.  So, after the writing comes the marketing and selling part of the adventure.

At a recent book-signing and author sales event in the local shopping centre, I learned some useful general principles from the Christmas shoppers and the bookstore. Here’s what I learned that’s worth sharing:

  • The customer in the store is still the best source for market research and feedback on your product, price, packaging, and positioning.
  • Retail sales people do best if they like the product they’re selling and they’re supported by effective tools for making the sale.
  • Direct contact face-to-face with customers is still more immediate, more effective and more valuable than the filtering and anonymity of on-line selling and social media contact.
  • Price is not that important, as long as the product, packaging and positioning are aligned and consistent with it.
  • Shelf space is very important. It makes awareness unavoidable and confirms that sales are expected in large quantities for added sales pressure.
  • Proximity to direct competitors significantly aids positioning and awareness of your alternative.
  • People do judge a book by its cover.

Enjoy your holiday reading and learn more.

Be better. Do better.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Expertise or Opinion

Which is it this time?

If you ask for an opinion you’ll get one. Almost nobody can resist giving you a response.

They’re flattered that you asked and they don’t want to disappoint you. Apparently, you think they’re an expert in the subject. Or at least you think they might have an intelligent, insightful opinion.  Nobody is going to tell you you’re wrong, on either count.

They’re thinking, “Yeah, I’m sure I can come up with something useful.” They’re never thinking, “But I’m an idiot. I know nothing and have no opinion on the subject.” Have you ever heard that answer?

But it can be dangerous to ask. What if they’re adamant about a really bad idea? Now you have a problem.

It’s best to preface your request with the caveat, “I welcome your input, but please don’t take it personally, if I choose to ignore it.” Much better than having to respond with, “That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard.” It’s hard to recover from that conversation.

So, carefully ask the question and clearly distinguish between a formal request for expert advice and a friendly exchange of personal opinions. Confirm your expectations before you ask. It will be easier to know what to do with the response.

Be better. Do better.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

What did you learn today?

You don’t have to be in school to learn something every day

????????????????????????If your goal is to get better and do better, then you should be learning something new every day. You don’t have to be in school to be learning.

There are many alternative learning strategies and they can all make a difference. Read a book, take a course. Go to a training session, workshop, seminar or conference. Share stories with other professionals, entrepreneurs, friends and associates.

You can extract lessons from everywhere and everything that’s happening around you, as observer or as participant. Lessons on leadership, management, operating effectiveness, personal relations, salesmanship, marketing or customer service. Most of the valuable lessons are free!

Even during the periods when you’re relaxing, enjoying the recreation or entertainment, pay attention to the strategies, tactics, behaviour, results and consequences.

Maybe you’ll notice like I have, for example, that business is like golf. (See my Blog: Business is like golf) The game of golf frequently reminds me of the important basic principles for success: have a strategy and a plan, execute well, stay focused and avoid mistakes.

So back to my initial question, what did you learn today?

Be better. Do better.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Check out Uncle Ralph’s books:"Don't Do It the Hard Way" and "The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans" Both are available online or at your favourite bookstore in hard cover, paperback or e-book.

Lessons from the Masters

Business is like Golf

Masters 2018Four days of exciting Masters Tournament golf in the 82nd year of its memorable history at the beautiful and challenging Augusta National Golf Course also delivered some lessons for us all.

The winner of a suspenseful round on Sunday for the Masters trophy, the traditional green jacket and $1.98 million in prize money was 27-year old, Patrick Reed. He prevailed with four excellent rounds against strong challenges from the best young golfers in the world, Rory McIlroy, Ricky Fowler, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas and against the nostalgic hopes of the over-40 previous Masters winners Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Fred Couples and Bernhard Langer.

Here’s what we learned and why business is like golf:

  1. Young, new competitors are still most likely to win. Seven of the top ten finishers were under thirty years old. Younger, faster, stronger, and just as talented and tough, makes for very challenging contenders.
  2. Veterans can still do well.  If you stay fit, use current technology and maintain your commitment to getting results, then you can also share in the rewards. You don’t have to be best. Third place was worth $748,000. Four players, including two veterans, tied for fifth and won $386,000 each. Tiger Woods was back, but not at his best. He finished strong and remains a threat to the young guns.
  3. Consistent high performance is necessary to prevail.  Jordan Spieth had two record-breaking rounds and two ordinary rounds, he finished third. Rory McIlroy started in second place on Sunday, but lost his touch on the greens and finished fifth.
  4. Not every shot will be a good one.  It’s how you recover from your mistakes that matter. Fifty yards off the fairway and under the trees? Then hit it from the pine needles down the fairway and close to the pin.
  5. Even the good shots may end up badly.  A beautiful long curling 200-yard shot lands in the centre of the green, then rolls off the edge and into the water. Drop another ball and carry on.
  6. A good attitude, plus talent and hard work are necessary, but a little good luck also helps. Reed chipped too hard from the edge of the green and the ball was going fast across the green toward the water, but hit the flagstick and fell in the hole. Exactly what he intended!

Remember: Business is like golf.

Be better, do better.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Read more articles like this one at: Business is Like Golf Blog


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Check outUncle Ralph’s books, Don’t Do It the Hard Way and The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans. Available online or at your favourite bookstore in hard cover, paperback or e-book.




Summer jobs

What did you learn?

It’s time to get back to school soon and the kids are enjoying the last few days of their summer jobs. Remember those days yourself?

Summer jobsFun in the sun, hanging out with friends, pool parties, BBQ and beer, working on your sun tan and hitting on the other cute kids. Is that what you remember?

But it was not all fun. It was a job and it may have involved garbage collection, cleaning toilets, digging ditches, mowing lawns, making beds, hauling heavy loads or serving hostile customers. All while avoiding boredom, exhaustion and a demanding and difficult boss.

But there were important life lessons learned.

Simple lessons, but important:

  • Show up on time, work hard.
  • Focus on the task at hand.
  • Be responsible for your actions.
  • Pay attention to the customer, the boss and the environment – in that order.
  • Use the right tool for the right job, be aware of safety and security issues.
  • Get your priorities straight – personal, work, family and social.
  • Better performance leads to better jobs.
  • Save your money.

Let’s hope these kids are learning them too. They will be better employees, bosses and entrepreneurs, if they learn from their summer jobs.

Be better. Do better.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Visit or contact DirectTech Solutions at for assistance on your strategic business issues, growth and profit improvement plans or your exit strategies.

Join our mailing list at for ideas, information and inspiration for entrepreneurs.

Read more articles at:Learning Entrepreneurship Blogs. 

Click Here to check out Uncle Ralph’s books, "Don't Do It the Hard Way" and "The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans" Both are available online or at your favourite bookstore in hard cover, paperback or e-book. 





Who are you listening to? Why?

Only very smart people. Because they agree with me.

But are you learning anything new?

Do they make you think or act differently?

That’s how you can tell if you learned anything.

It doesn’t seem to matter which mainstream news source we read, watch or listen to, they all seem to agree on what is important to us and what we should be angry about. Then theybad news insist on pushing the same story and analysis, over and over for days, with too much mind-numbing repetitiveness.

Whether it’s current affairs, politics, sports or business, it is hard work to dig deeper and get the whole story or find any thoughtful and perceptive analysis that goes beyond the initial impressions. But we need to do it, if we really want to have things change.

We need to be less passive and more selective in where we go for news, information and analysis. That means avoiding the easy choice of following those sources and analysts that we agree with or we have something in common with.

It also requires making an effort to listen to people that you don’t like or don’t agree with and avoid simply dismissing them as ignorant or evil. That’s not easy either. Especially when the tactic is so widely used to effectively stop discussion.

Remember: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey includes “Seek first to understand before seeking to be understood.” That is a much better process for seeking compromise and achieving agreed solutions.

Keep on the path for knowledge and wisdom and continue to learn, make changes and make a difference.

And thank you for including me among your resources.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Read more at:Learning Entrepreneurship Blogs. 


Join our mailing list for more ideas, information and inspiration for entrepreneurs.

Click Here to check out Uncle Ralph’s books, "Don't Do It the Hard Way" and "The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans" Both are available online or at your favourite bookstore in hard cover, paperback or e-book.