Dan Lok

Blue Ocean Strategy: The Art of Innovating A Sustainable Competitive Advantage In Your Market

With hundreds of thousands of new businesses starting up each year, is it possible to break free from your competition?

No business wants to be in a Red Ocean, fighting against cutthroat competition that turns the water bloody red. Every industry, all your competitors, are in the Red Ocean, like shark infested waters where everyone fights for the same prey.

Instead, we all prefer the Blue Ocean… calm, peaceful…and the only business of its kind in that market. Ideally, every business wants to be in the Blue Ocean, but what must your business do to be in this uncontested market space?

Before I share the business model that will differentiate you, let’s take a look at a recent phenomenon that disrupted the marketplace. Uber.

Taxis have been around for a long time as a public transportation option. There are many cab companies. Each one tries to stand out by saying, “I am better than everybody else. My services are better than everybody else’s.” But there’s one problem.

These statements may or may not be true and consumers become confused. They’re skeptical because they don’t know what is good and what is not so good. Just because you say you’re better doesn’t mean you’re better.

Then Uber comes along and introduces the concept of ride sharing services. They completely change how we pay for cab fares. No more tipping or carrying credit cards or cash. No more wondering exactly where your cab is.

There are good and bad points to this disruption, but that’s part of capitalist society. For Uber, competition becomes irrelevant. For taxi companies and drivers, they lose market share. So what can your business do to move yourself to an untapped environment?

There are three models you can follow. To be different, to be a giant in a vast blue ocean of customers, you must follow the third type.  

Watch this video about how the Blue Ocean Strategy makes your business stand out.

1. Me-Too Business

In the first kind of business, the Me-Too Business, you are the same as everybody else. If you’re put next to the competitors, your message and products get swallowed up before your consumers can tell the difference. You look like everybody else. You provide the same product and service.

For example, there are over 35,000 health clubs in the USA, and at least ten, maybe more, major health club chains, each with 100 to 2000 locations. How can a customer decide to choose your club instead of someone else’s?

Maybe you tell them about your features. Does your location have a workout area? Group exercise classes? Personal training? Not surprisingly, most health and fitness clubs have these exact same features. You need to do more to stand out.

2. Me-Better Business

In the Me-Better Business, you’re better than everybody else. Maybe you’ve been in business longer than your competitors, maybe your packaging is better, or your warranty or your technology is better. It doesn’t matter. In the Me-Better Business, you’re the one saying you’re better.

Your health club is better because there are so many locations that a member can work out anytime, anywhere. Your club has the best equipment and programs for losing weight. Or, your club has more equipment and personal trainers. These are the reasons why you say your club is better.

How can you get your customers to say your club is not only better, but the best because you are different?

3. Me-Only Business

The Me-Only Business is where you want to be because you are the only person in that space that does what you do.

In the 1990s, a women’s health club broke into a market already saturated with health clubs, but it realized there was an untapped market in the fitness industry. At one end, there were high-end, full service health clubs. At the other end were home exercise programs that required little or no equipment. This club found a Blue Ocean somewhere in the middle.

It was different from a typical health club because machines were arranged a circle in groups of ten so members could talk and support one another while working out. The nonjudgmental atmosphere included the lack of mirrors on the wall. Most importantly, the company, Curves, offered value at a lower cost.

It also created a new demand for fitness consumers. And it wasn’t the only company to create new demand in the last decade. It’s possible to find a Blue Ocean in a 200 year old industry that has entertained generations.

It’s a Blue Ocean for a Me-Only Business

Creating A Blue Ocean In A Declining Industry

If you’re thinking you can’t find a Blue Ocean for your new business, think about the challenges Cirque du Soleil had in a declining, centuries old industry: the circus. Children wanted to play video games, and people protested animal rights. So what did they do?

Let’s start with what they didn’t do. They didn’t cater to the traditional end users, the children. They appealed to the traditional purchasers, and charged a lot more for an entertainment experience. Adults and corporate clients who enjoyed the theatre, ballet, Broadway shows, and opera now had another option, but in a circus setting.

Cirque now had an uncontested market space and they had eliminated costs. No more animals to feed and multiple performers to transport. People now came to the circus instead of the other way around. And they were now catering to upscale audiences.

Discovering a Blue Ocean is possible, whether you’re in an old market, or a new one. In the case of iTunes, they entered an existing market and created a new one.

Creating A Blue Ocean By Competing With An Existing Market

Now how does a company create its own market by competing with one that already exists? It can, if the current market is entirely illegal.

In the late 1990s, file sharing programs enabled the illegal downloading of digital music files. A demand for MP3 players to play mobile digital music was answered with products such as Apple’s iPod. After making an agreement with five major music companies, Apple’s iTunes offered à la carte song downloads.

Consumers no longer had to buy an entire CD for one or two songs, which was previously a major annoyance. They could get the specific songs they wanted and recording companies could have the copyright protection they wanted. It was a win-win that started a new trend.

Fast forward to today, when millions of songs, movies, TV shows, books, and podcasts are now downloaded on iTunes. Apple has been dominating this Blue Ocean for more than a decade.

Now I’ve shown you examples of how companies have created their own Blue Ocean, by breaking free from tradition, like Cirque du Soleil did, or by creating a demand, like Curves did. But what if you’re a small company, or a micro business, or sole proprietorship? How can you disrupt the marketplace?

Dan Lok’s Blue Ocean Strategy

I’ve started a lot of businesses in my career. Some were Me-Too. I mowed lawns, fixed computers, and operated just like everybody else with a single employee company.

I’ve also had Me-Better businesses in which I was striving to have better marketing skills, management skills, better service, or better products.

But where I found massive wealth was the Me-Only Business. That’s when you’re the best one in the world at this one thing that only you can do. You may not get there overnight, but you can get a bit closer over time. How I created a Me-Only Business was by creating a certification program.

I founded the High-Ticket ClosersTM Certification Program which graduated thousands of students worldwide in its first year. The concept of a salesperson wasn’t new, but the term “High-ticket Closer” to describe people who close deals for premium products wasn’t familiar to most people. That put me in a Blue Ocean.

Your business idea doesn’t have to be revolutionary. You just have to give the marketplace that perception. That perception they have becomes the reality if they perceive you as Me-Only.

Once you’re doing something nobody else is doing, then you have dominated the marketplace and you have applied the Blue Ocean Strategy.

So, think about how you can find the Blue Ocean and dominate it.

How could you apply the Blue Ocean Strategy to your business? Comment below.

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The One Word That Makes People Millionaires: Leverage

There’s one word that’s making people millionaires and billionaires, and it’s not luck, timing, attitude, or mindset. It’s something more measurable than that, and it’s called leverage. It’s how the rich get richer.

Even if you don’t consider yourself wealthy now, you absolutely must understand how it works if you want to get ahead in life.

Time Equals Wealth

I want you to imagine this. If you had $86,400 in your bank account and someone stole $10 from you, would you throw away the remaining $86,390 while you chased that person? Or would you say forget it and move on?

Now imagine there is a bank account that credits $86,400 to your account every single day but there is one catch. It carries no balance, so at the end of the day, the balance is zero. Now what would you do? You’d withdraw every dollar everyday, wouldn’t you?

Well you know we do have that bank account. And that bank account is called time. Every single day you have 86,400 seconds deposited to your life. How would you spend that time? It carries no overbalance and it doesn’t allow any overdrafts.

You’ve heard of return on investment – ROI – but here is a more powerful concept – ROTI – return on time invested. Most people when they think about that one word that makes people millionaires and billionaires, what comes to mind is “you got to work your face off.”

Hustling is a given. You need to hustle just to get your foot in the door. But that’s not the one word that makes people millionaires and billionaires.

Leverage is the word that makes rich people richer. Imagine yourself lifting a big, heavy stone with two hands and it doesn’t even move. You tried your best. However if we use a long pole as a leaver, we can lift that heavy stone with the same manpower. That’s leverage: maximum productivity with minimum effort.

There are many forms of leverage. I’ll give you four today.

Watch this video about the four forms of leverage.


1. Financial Leverage

The first kind of leverage is financial leverage. The idea behind this is you are using other people’s money so you aren’t limited by the size of your own pocketbook.

Imagine you are buying a piece of real estate. You borrow from the bank and put down your 20% down payment. Then you borrow the rest. It could be 80% from the bank. That’s money leverage.

You’re using the bank’s money to create more wealth and to build your business. Here are some other examples. Borrowing money from the bank so you can buy new equipment for your business. Borrowing from an investor to get funding. Debt leverage, is one form of financial leverage.

2. Marketing Leverage

Marketing leverage is when you can control and generate your profit increases using no cost or low cost marketing.

Imagine running an ad on social media and you create the ad once. That ad is seen 24/7 by anything from ten thousand to a hundred thousand people. Even though I’m not there “marketing and selling” all day, my ad is working for me. I leverage marketing while it’s being viewed by possibly millions of people. 

3. Social Leverage

Social leverage is hiring people to do tasks. Your time and your hourly rate is worth X amount of dollars so you hire someone. You can’t outsource but you can delegate to someone whose hourly rate is a bit lower than yours and they can handle certain tasks.  

Hiring team members that share your passion and dedication to your business is your ultimate goal. You can leverage their loyalty to your mission and grow your business together.

4. System Leverage

Lastly, you have system leverage. The advantage of leveraging systems is you can get more done with less effort.

For example, I’m using the QuickBooks software to manage my finances and do my bookkeeping. That’s a form of system leverage. Or if I’m using an email system that allows me to craft one email that goes out to two million people. I’m leveraging technology to grow my business.

Leverage Equals Wealth

Millionaire and billionaires have used different forms of leverage in terms of finance, people, marketing, and systems. Their level of affluence opens more doors for them because more money making opportunities come to them. They have a strong desire to generate more wealth, and they don’t waste time looking for opportunities.

If you want to increase your money or grow your business, learn to leverage. Leveraging is how you can gain momentum and gain more success at a faster rate.  I also show another way to increase your income in this article.

Which type of leverage you used to increase your income? Comment below.

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8 Golden Rules of Effective Delegation And How To Delegate To The Best People

The mission driven entrepreneur, working as a one-man or one-woman show, will not survive unless he or she learns the golden rules of delegation.

If you’re a fledgling entrepreneur, assigning tasks to other people is a critical part of growing your business. It’s a dream to believe that you can handle all aspects of your business yourself. You can’t work alone – you need other people. If you can’t trust anyone other than yourself to do the work, then you will be working endlessly on the hamster wheel for a very long time.

So how do you begin to delegate tasks, not just to other people, but the best people? As an entrepreneur, it’s natural that you want to develop a wide range of skills. But as you work on your business, you’ll realize there are aspects you hate and aspects that you just weren’t born to do. Delegate those tasks to someone else first. If you aren’t good at accounting, hire or outsource an accountant.

When you have a set routine for the everyday tasks for your business, delegate those tasks too. In one sense, you are clearing your desk of all the clutter. When you aren’t focused on the day to day survival of your business, you will have the energy and time to see the big picture and to think about the bigger questions. Where is your business headed? What are some current challenges you need to overcome? What’s the next step to growing the business?

But until you start to delegate, you won’t have the mental and time capacity to work on the big picture and jump off the hamster wheel.

Here are eight golden rules of effective delegation that will make you a great leader and free up your time for other aspects of your business.

Rule 1: Clarify The Task In Your Own Mind

Clarify what the task is before you ask someone to complete it. There are some important questions to ask yourself. When you have the answers, then delegate the task. You can envision the task in the following way.

1. Who will do the task?
2. What is the deadline?
3. What exactly needs to be done?
4. What is the desired outcome?

After you have the answers in your mind, or written down, then assign the task. Be clear on what exactly needs to be done, such as the entire first draft for a Facebook ad, or a completed inventory of your products for that month. Also be clear on the outcome, such as completed inventory in a spreadsheet that will be presented at the next meeting.

Rule 2: Delegation To The Right Person

Now that you are clear on what needs to be done, your next step is to choose the right person for the task. The best person to choose is someone who is brilliant at doing that type of work. It might be someone you’ve hired for your team, or someone you are outsourcing work to. Here are some more specific tips for making your selection:

  • Delegate to someone who is task-focused and explain why this task is important
  • Delegate unusually challenging tasks to someone who has lots of experience and would like something different than the usual routine
  • Delegate routine tasks to someone who is extremely organized

Rule 3: Always Have A Deadline

If you don’t set deadlines, nothing gets done. It doesn’t mean your team is lazy. Sometimes they have so much to do that they need deadlines to help them prioritize what is more important. The deadline should be challenging but realistic.

Stretch the abilities of your team to see what they can do, but don’t ask them to do the impossible either! If I am working with a new person, and I need something done within two weeks, I tell them I need it in a week.

I want to see if the new person can get the job done and find out early on if they can work under pressure to complete urgent tasks.

Rule 4: Communicate Orally And Write Your Plan Of Action

Sometimes I only give the core structure of what I want and I let my mentees figure out a plan of action. I let them make their own mistakes. By making mistakes, they learn their lesson. If I watch them too closely, they won’t be able to grow.

So communicate your plan orally to your team and let them decide on what to do. To check on their progress, ask them to write progress reports. You can have them report once a week on Monday, or daily at the end of the day. The frequency depends on the person’s skills and their needs.

Clear communication will look like this: message sent to get the task done, message received by the person doing the task, and message acted upon, or completed.

Rule 5: People Don’t Do What You Expect, They Do What You Inspect With Respect

You may be clear with your expectations, you may be choosing to delegate to the best people for the job. In the end, people don’t necessarily do what you expect them to do. That’s the tricky part about delegation. They do what you check up on with extra attention. So what you inspect, they do with respect.

It means you have to follow up to make sure the task gets done even though it’s not your job.

Rule 6: Delegate Responsibility And Authority

As an entrepreneur, you may be willing to delegate responsibility but you may find it much harder to delegate responsibility and authority. You don’t want to give up authority because you fear loss of control.

You will ask someone to do a task but require that person to run everything by you. In that case, you are micromanaging. You need to be able to give other people some authority, even if it means letting them make mistakes. It’s the only way they learn and the only way you get off the hamster wheel.

Mistakes are okay as long as they don’t kill the company. Only incompetence is not okay. You may be wondering what the difference is between the two. Let me share a quick story.

The C.O.O. at my mentor’s company made a mistake that cost ten million dollars. My mentor had a meeting with him about the mistake. The C.O.O. thought he was going to be fired but my mentor said he had just invested ten million in the guy’s education. He kept his job and made sure he never screwed up again. The C.O.O. was extremely loyal and over time made my mentor one hundred million dollars.

So if you are afraid to give other people authority because you fear they’ll make mistakes, you need to let them make the mistakes. Otherwise, they won’t learn, and you will be very busy micromanaging your team.

Rule 7: Give Praise, Feedback And Additional Responsibilities At The End Of The Project

So the project has come to an end and you delegated tasks to other team members. At this point, you want to provide feedback on how they did. You want to be a coach and mentor.

Whatever you do, don’t yell at them. Praise them for what they did right and then give feedback on what they can do better. That’s how they learn.

Also, give them additional responsibilities for the next project. By delegating more tasks, you free up your time for other aspects of your business, and your team grows in experience.

Rule 8: Don’t Be A Perfectionist

If you are too much of a perfectionist, you will be the runner of a marathon who never leaves the starting line. You will never get anything started or finished. Your projects will never end because you are going crazy with the details.

Effective delegation is about progress, not perfection. Start your project, and do what you can, but don’t get stuck on all the small details of what you need to complete.

When you go to the bank, the teller or the bank machine isn’t going to ask if you completed your work perfectly. Your cheque just goes into your account.    

In the big scheme of things, if I’m facing a business problem that I find overwhelming, I look at this photo on my wall. It’s a picture of the universe. When I look at it, my stress disappears because I realize… I’m just a molecule. What’s the big deal? Nothing matters. I’m only here for 80 years. And then I’m not that important anymore. No one is that important. So don’t place so much importance on yourself to finish things.

Those are the rules of effective delegation. Now that you know them, here are three quick tips on how to find the best people to share your work projects.

Three Tips For Effective Delegation To The Best People

Tip 1: Respect them

Work together as a team and respect the people you have delegated with tasks. You can set high standards and expectations and be tough, and still have respect.

In some areas, their expertise will be better than yours which is another reason you should not be afraid to delegate. This is how your company will grow.

Tip 2: Pay them well

If you pay them well, you will have the best talent. If you can’t afford to find good people maybe your business model needs to be changed.

One Christmas I sent my contractors a bonus through PayPal. I got an email from them thanking me. The bonus moved me up on their client list. I want to represent 40% of their business so when I want stuff done, it gets done.

Don’t delay paying your team members and contractors. If you want to stand out with your clients and contractors, this is one way to do it. They should be making you returns because of how you treat them.

Tip 3: Praise them

I praise team members and contractors and anyone else if they do something well. Don’t just say, “Good job.” Be specific with your praise, such as telling them that you liked how they handled the situation and you appreciated the help.

Those are three tips for delegating to the best people. If you want to grow your business, then overcome your hesitation, and start delegating tasks to free up your time.

Summary of the 8 Golden Rules of Delegation

Delegating to the best people is key to getting yourself out of that hamster wheel and building a successful business. Richard Branson of Virgin Group says that if your team understands your vision and they work autonomously, “You’ll find that you have more time to focus on the big picture and achieve the things you need to do to make your product or service stand out.”

So here again are the 8 rules of delegation. You can also watch a recap of these rules of delegation and tips on how to hire in this video here.

Rule 1: Clarify the task in your own mind

Rule 2: Delegate to the right person

Rule 3: Always have a deadline

Rule 4: Communicate orally and write your plan of action

Rule 5: People don’t do what you expect, they do what you inspect with respect

Rule 6: Delegate responsibility and authority

Rule 7: Give praise, feedback and additional responsibilities at the end of the project

Rule 8: Don’t be a perfectionist


Have you started delegating? Comment below.



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How Building A Virtual Team Lets You Build A Successful Business Without Leaving Home

Virtual teams are the future of sustainable businesses, as this is integral to building a successful business from home. The remote business model dramatically reduces your needs for costly office space and office supplies, while increasing the range of talent. Any successful business leader understands the importance of limiting their overhead in order to be more profitable. Building a virtual team is one of the most effective ways to reduce your overhead, and with the right kind of people, your business could become unstoppable.

A virtual team is a remote team that is often geographically dispersed. Without face-to-face interaction, a virtual team relies on organized digital communication, with information being shared and distributed electronically. This type of remote business model can be extremely successful.

A 2017 report by Gallup found that employees who spend some time working remotely have higher engagement than those who don’t ever work remotely, and remote employees reported having a clearer job description and more motivating metrics. The report also noted that the percentage of employees who work remotely is rising each year, and that the desirable flexibility to work-from-home is consistently a major factor when talented employees are deciding whether or not to accept a job offer.

Another factor that virtual employees consider is the flexibility to work the hours during which they feel most productive. It’s not just about having the freedom to work from home – it’s also about being freed from the confines of the traditional 9 – 5 work schedule. For example, it’s very common for millennials to have a late chronotype, where they’re more productive and creative at night. It’s therefore undeniable that giving virtual team members the freedom to choose their own work hours will only increase your team’s productivity.

Now, you might assume that building and managing a virtual team will come with dicey challenges. However, it’s all about who you hire and how you motivate them. It all comes down to hiring exceptional people, because the best team wins in business. The quality of your team is more important than the quality of your services, as even a great business model can fail if its team is lousy. If you want to know how to successfully build a virtual team full of awesome people, start with deciphering the types of employees you should be seeking.

What Should You Look For In A Virtual Team Member?

Who you hire matters, and that’s why I’m going to tell you about the three types of employees to watch out for. Maybe you’ll be able to guess which type of employee is the type you want, but either way, let me explain each type:

  1. The Grunt
  2. The Mercenary
  3. The Patriot

The Grunt

The Grunt is the type of employee who does the bare minimum, and they’re okay with being a mediocre employee as long as they can do their job and go home. Doing the bare minimum is doing just enough work to collect a paycheck – just enough work to not get fired. In other words, they just barely meet your expectations. It would never cross a Grunt’s mind to go above and beyond, or to exceed your expectations.

You’ll know you’re interviewing a Grunt if when it’s their turn to ask questions, all they do is ask about money instead of demonstrating an interest in the company. They’ll ask how you calculate overtime, how many vacation days they get, and how many hours they’ll have to work.

Some types of businesses have certain very basic positions that are okay to hire a Grunt for. But you don’t want too many Grunts on your team. It’s easy for an employee to do what they’re asked, but you want someone who does what they’re asked and more. That’s why you don’t want to hire Grunts.


A Mercenary is very transactional employee. They work for money – that’s it. Money is their main motivator. So much so, that if they ever got an opportunity to make more money elsewhere, they wouldn’t think twice. They’d take the other job regardless of what type of company it was. There’s rarely any loyalty with mercenaries.

You’ll know you’re interviewing a Mercenary because they’ll mainly be interested in how the bonus structure works and how much money they will make. Some business leaders are okay with having Mercenaries on their sales team. A lot of sales guys are Mercenaries, and because money is their motivator, you can count on them to go in for the kill. While it’s fine to hire a Mercenary for a sales role, there aren’t many other positions you’ll want to hire a Mercenary for.


Patriots are motivated by greatness. This means that they’re motivated by something greater than money. Yes, they want to make money, but being part of something they can be proud of motivates them much more than money does. Having a sense of purpose and being part of an inspiring mission excites them more than their salary ever will.

You want the most amount of Patriots on your team as possible, because Patriots will help your business be its most profitable. They’ll want to contribute to your company’s growth, because being part of something remarkable makes them feel remarkable. They don’t just want to get paid and go home – they want to make a difference. Having a team of Patriots ensures your business maintains a growth-oriented culture.

You’ll know you’re interviewing a Patriot because instead of asking what the compensation structure is, they’re more likely to tell you about an idea they have that could take your business to the next level. When you hire a Patriot, they’ll consistently bring you ideas on how to improve the business, as they’re driven by achievement. Patriots share the company’s goals, and they find fulfillment in being be part of something larger than themselves.

When a Patriot feels proud to be on a winning team, they’ll be loyal and passionate about the company’s growth. They’re the dedicated and dependable type of employee who actually cares about the success of the company. Yes, some employees actually care about the business’ bottom line. This is a quality you must seek out, because it can’t be taught, and most employees don’t care very much about the company they work for. Patriots truly care, and are proud of what they’re part of. They get off on doing great work and making the company better. They’re hungry for greatness, and any way they can associate themselves with it.

Patriots are much less likely to nickel-and-dime you. They do expect a fair compensation, but they won’t make a point of mentioning that they worked 15 minutes overtime.

At the end of the day, you’re looking for a team of people who are loyal to the brand, and care about your company’s success as much as you do. Those types of employees do exist, so it’s all about finding them.

How Do You Find Patriots?

Be very specific in your job description. Make it clear who you don’t want. Explain the results you’re looking for and the exact qualities you’re looking for. Paint the picture of a Patriot in your job description.

You can find Patriots by paying attention to the questions asked in the interview, by noticing how passionate they are about your company, and by trying out what’s called a “Difference Test.”

A “Difference Test” is when you ask the candidate to do something out of the norm, to test their dependability and their loyalty. Pretend you want to do an initial phone interview at 4:00 AM their time. See what they say. Tests like these can really help you to weed out the flakes and find the Patriots.

What’s The Best Way To Reward Virtual Team Members?

You want to reward great work in order to keep it coming, but your virtual employees will respond differently to different types of rewards. Mercenaries and Grunts want tangible rewards such as extra pay or a cash bonus. Patriots feel most rewarded when an idea they came to you with actually improved the business, and they’re recognized for it.

In general, recognition and acknowledgement are the best ways to reward your employees. You can still implement tangible rewards such as bonuses if there is a clear system in place. Bonuses can’t be handed out at random. It should be very clear exactly what is expected of their performance to get the bonus.

Managing a Virtual Team

Virtual teams are often the most talented, and with the right people, your business stands to benefit greatly from a virtual team. The talent pool grows when your search for the perfect candidate is no longer restricted based on the talent available in your area. No matter how talented your team is, however, structuring your interactions is still crucial. Communication tools can be used to maintain order and systems.

Managing a virtual team doesn’t have to be complicated, even if each team member lives in a different part of the world. You can use digital tools such as Trello, Loom, Asana, Telegram and Slack to delegate and manage projects.

It’s not difficult to build trust and loyalty with a virtual team, either. The team will be loyal if they genuinely love what your business is all about, and they’re proud to be part of it. To maintain commitment, you can video call and chat with team members one-on-one over the phone. During these one-on-one chats is when you will give them recognition and positive acknowledgement.

Building a devoted team requires that you hire for roles – you don’t hire for tasks. When someone has a ‘role’ it means they’ve been entrusted with a ‘part’, and that’s how you instill passion. That’s how you encourage a more meaningful contribution.

Are you going to build a powerful team? What questions do you have about team building or hiring the right people? Comment below.