Why You, and Everyone in Your Organization, Should Think and Act Like a Business Owner

Leadership Speaker Mack Story

Note: The principle of thinking and acting like a business owner applies to everyone in any industry at any level. And, it’s the secret to success!

The following is an excerpt (Chapter 7) from my newest book, Blue-Collar Leadership: Leading from the Front Lines. Click here to order the book. 

This entire book was written as a resource for developing the entry-level, front line, blue-collar workforce. In it, I help them understand why they should lead themselves well and how to lead themselves well. My goal is to leaders help their team members think and act like a business owner. When they do, everybody wins.

Chapter 7



When you take charge of your life, there is no longer need to ask permission of other people or society at large. When you ask permission, you give someone veto power over your life. ~ Albert F. Geoffrey

I’m about to share the inside scoop with you: the secret to success. As you read this chapter, keep the chapter on common sense in mind. Actually, you need to keep that chapter in mind throughout this book, but especially here because uncommon sense is needed to get the full value out of what I’ll be sharing.

Who do you work for? Think about it. Understanding your answer matters, and it matters a lot.

When I’m speaking to groups on leadership, one of the questions I often ask them is, “Who do you work for?” Immediately, people begin to shout the name of the company where they work. Some with great pride and others simply because they think that’s what I want to hear.

It’s always instantly clear to me they haven’t thought much about the answer to the question or the impact the answer has on their choices day in and day out while they’re at work.

I believe this will most likely be an eye-opening and key chapter for you as you begin to see things differently.

Once the shouting dies down, I follow up saying, I didn’t ask, who is paying you to work? I asked, who are you working for?”

Someone else is always paying you to work, but you are always working for yourself. This is true whether you own your own company or whether you work at someone else’s company. If you weren’t working for yourself, you wouldn’t expect to be paid.

For some reason, it’s easy for others to see that people who own their own business are working for themselves, but so is everyone else when you really think about it. And, you really need to think about it.

When people understand they are working for themselves, they have a different mindset. They see themselves as the business owner and everyone else as customers, potential customers, and/or as potential advertisers telling others about their business through word of mouth referrals. Everyone agrees word of mouth is the best type of advertisement.

They expect to serve the customers who are paying them to work, not be served by them. They care what customers think about doing business with them. They intentionally do a better job because they know it matters. They care how they make their customers feel because their customers will determine how well their business does in the future. Will it grow or will it slow? They want more business and as much positive word of mouth advertising as possible. Who wouldn’t?

You most likely work at a company owned by someone else. However, if you accept a payment for the service/labor you provide, you are definitely working for yourself. Let that sink in for a minute.

You are in business for yourself because you are working for yourself. Your product is physical labor mixed with shared ideas.

For many, this is an odd way to look at yourself and your job. No matter how odd it may seem, if you apply uncommon sense, it is crystal clear. As a result of this new discovery, your view on everything about your job and those you work with should be reconsidered. What needs to change?

The lessons in this book will now be even more important. That’s a small example of how being aligned with the proper reality can change your thoughts. When your thoughts are aligned with reality, you are much better positioned to build stronger relationships and achieve amazing success.

If the light bulb hasn’t gone off yet, let me help you. What this means is everyone you interact with at work is either a customer, potential customer, and/or a potential advertiser spreading either positive or negative word of mouth advertisement about your business: YOU.

To generate good profit, it’s critical not only to understand but to anticipate what customers value, their expectations, measures, incentives, needs, alternatives, and decision-making processes. ~ Charles G. Koch

This also means your boss is your #1 customer. He or she can help you or hurt you the most.

Do you treat them as your #1 customer? If you do, things are probably pretty good for you. If you don’t, anyone with common sense will know things may not be so good.

What type of word of mouth advertising is being spread about your business (YOU) throughout the organization by your boss and all of the other people you work and interact with?

All of those people will talk to others about you and how you serve them as customers, just as you do to others. When they are interacting with you for any reason, they are your customer. Just like when a business owner provides complimentary service and hopes the non-paying customer will, at a minimum, give positive word of mouth advertisement, this is what happens every day on the front lines. People talk about other people.

How you serve your paying and non-paying customers has a major impact on your promotions, your raises, your influence, your options, your growth in the company or your termination from the company, and ultimately, your future working in other departments or even other companies.

How you operate, your business, matters. And, it matters a lot!

The key to moving beyond average is doing what exceptional people do, not wanting what they have. ~ Mack Story

You’re perfectly positioned to get to the next level

I wish someone would have given me this book nearly 30 years ago when I started my career on the front lines. It would have changed my life then. It can change your life now.Blue Collar Leadership Cover picture

Separate yourself from the crowd quickly by learning how to master the traits High Impact leaders value most. You will learn how to get noticed for the right reasons and how to get promoted for the right reasons. You will learn how to become recognized as a front line leader worth following, and you don’t need formal authority (position) because you will develop something better: moral authority (influence).

Note: The following is an excerpt (Chapter 3) from my newest book, Blue-Collar-Leadership: Leading from the Front Lines. Order now by clicking here. I’ll be posting the first 5 of 30 chapters as a short series.

Click here to start with Chapter 1

Chapter: 3



“An educated person is not the one with the most knowledge, an educated person is the one who is willing to reflect, evaluate, and modify his most cherished beliefs when a new idea comes along.” ~ Christian Simpson

There’s a story about a tourist who paused for a rest in a small town in the mountains. He went over to an old man sitting on a bench in front of the only store in town and inquired, “Friend, can you tell me something this town is noted for?”

“Well,” replied the old man, “I don’t rightly know except it’s the starting point to the world. You can start here and go anywhere you want.”

The same is true for you and me. No matter where we are, we can start and go anywhere we want. Will it always be easy? No. Will it always be possible? Absolutely, if we’re willing to pay the price.

Obviously, very few people start at the top. But, we don’t all have that in common with those lucky few. However, what we do have in common is this: If we want to move forward from wherever we are, we all must start.

“Most people fail in the getting started.” ~ Maureen Falcone

I agree, some do “fail in the getting started,” but I think the bigger issue is failing to keep going once you have started.

If you’re on the front lines like I was when the engineer believed in me and inspired me to get started again, that’s where you start if you want to get to the next level and beyond. You’re in the exact place you need to be. You’re at the starting line. Getting to the starting line in life is easy. All you must do is step up. Then, you must choose to run.

It’s much easier to go from failure to success than it is to go from excuses to success.

This book is going to help you think in a way that will allow you to get started or, if you’re already started, keep going. It will also accelerate your thinking.

You had to get started at some point to be where you are. It didn’t just happen. You didn’t end up there by accident. Like it or not, you ended up there by choice.

If you want to move up in the company or move forward with your life in general but feel stuck wherever you are, I’ve got good news. You haven’t run out of choices. You’re simply not making the right choices.

Why? I have no idea. Only you can answer that question.

When you think of why you’re stuck, don’t make excuses. Excuses are like exits when you’re traveling along the highway to success. Excuses don’t take you where you want to go, they take you someplace you don’t want to go.

An excuse is simply a choice not to do what you know you should do.

I want to give you something to think about whether you’re stuck or not. If you’re not stuck, use it to help someone that is.

Most of the time people quit growing and going when the price gets too high. Many people are not willing to part ways with the toxic people in their lives or sacrifice their time and/or their money to continue moving forward to the next level. Growth usually requires a lot more time than money, so not having the money is just another excuse. And most often, it’s not even about our time. It’s about our choices.

Before you get too deep into this book, I want to help point out a few key choices I hope you will make as you’re reading and thinking your way through it.

I encourage you to look at this book as a tool, not a book. A tool you can you use immediately to identify areas in your life you may need to change. A tool you can use in the future when reflecting on changes you have already made or changes you weren’t ready to make initially but will be ready to make eventually.

Whatever you do, DO NOT GIVE IT AWAY! I made that mistake when I first started reading leadership books. I didn’t realize the value of keeping them and revisiting them, especially my highlighted key points. Today, no one gets any of the hundreds of leadership books I’ve read. I may give away new ones, but not the ones I’ve read and marked up.

You should personalize this copy by marking it up in a meaningful way, underline key points, fold the pages when something on a page really has something meaningful you want to revisit and reflect on. And most importantly, write down some of your own thoughts about what you are reading and what you may need to do differently.

Once you’ve finished it, if you know someone else will benefit from reading it, and you believe in them, show them by buying them a copy as a gift, but don’t give them your copy. Sure, they could read it and give it back. But, to get the most out of it, they will need to personalize their copy, make it their own just like you, and be able to reflect on it later.

Have you ever wondered why people don’t do the things that seem to be common sense? Things like we’ve just covered like get started or keep going. It seems like common sense to me.

“If we refuse to become a leader because we don’t believe we can get to the top, we are limiting ourselves from reaching our potential; and we are limiting the impact we can have on others.” ~ Ria Story

Live with Abundance. Achieve Success. Choose Significance. Leave a Legacy.


As you may know, I write a lot of blogs and post a lot of quotes to help motivate and inspire others to be more, do more, and have more with the hope, that in time, they will serve more by first becoming a more effective leader of themselves with the intention of becoming a more effective leader of others.

I recently shared these thoughts:

“Live with abundance. Achieve success. Choose significance. Leave a legacy.”

Shortly after I had made the post, I received this comment:

“This is a great mindset, but I would appreciate it if you could develop this further for us. We all want abundance, success, significance and to leave a legacy. What we often lack is the road map. We have the ‘what’ and not the ‘how.'”

I could easily write a complete book, a road map, to answer this question. However, I will attempt to keep it relatively short while adding links to support this lesson. I’m going to share more information about the “how” relative to each aspect of my original quote.

Live with Abundance

Abundance is about understanding the big picture and knowing there is plenty of everything for everyone. We must understand resources and recognition are truly abundant and unlimited. In order to understand abundance, it may help to first understand the opposite: scarcity.

When I have a scarcity mindset, I believe what I want and what I desire is limited.

In other words, there is only so much of what I want such as love, money, recognition, praise, credit, etc. to go around. When I live out of scarcity, I think that if someone else gets what I want, there isn’t any left for me.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. However, if you believe this, you will, in fact, have less. Not because there is less, but because your selfish character will attract less. As a result, you are providing the evidence to support your belief.

When I live with abundance, I believe there is enough of everything for everybody. As a result, my character reveals my beliefs in a way that can be validated by others through my actions. I am not selfish. I am selfless. That is not something I say; that is something I am.

When I live with abundance, I don’t go through life seeking only to win. I actually grow through life seeking to win while also helping others win. Not only do I know I can win, but I also know you and everyone else can win. We can all win. Therefore, my challenge is not with you. My challenge is within.

No one can stop me from winning, but me. No one can stop you from winning, but you. Anything else is simply an excuse.

Here’s a simple example of abundance to help you understand. I write a lot of blogs with win-win in mind. Sure, I win by expanding my network, demonstrating my competency relative to my expertise, and occasionally receive the opportunity to serve others professionally. The reader also wins by receiving value through free content, by being valued as a person with greater potential, and by being helped and developed by a stranger that believes in them with no expectations or strings attached.

At the end of each blog post, I add this note, “I believe in abundance and write my blogs to help others become more effective and successful.”

This demonstrates an abundant mindset. A scarcity mindset wouldn’t put out free content much less give you permission to share it with the world. This is not all the content I have. I read and grow daily. I will always have more content.

My content is not limited unless I limit it. My knowledge is not limited because I am not limited. However, if I was resting on what I have done in the past with no desire to grow and become more on a daily basis, I would be hoarding my knowledge because that is all I would ever have.

That wouldn’t be your fault. That would be my fault.

Achieve Success

An abundance mindset will allow you to achieve success. Actually, living with abundance provides the foundation for success. People with an abundance mindset attract and are attracted to others with an abundance mindset. Together, they can achieve great success.

There are two keys that will allow you to achieve success.

The first key to achieving success is to work on your own personal character development. Who you are will determine who you will attract. Who you attract will determine your level of success.

If you want to achieve a higher level of success, you must develop a higher level of character. It’s that simple! Your character development will allow you to move beyond manipulating others to achieve success. High levels of success only come when we begin to motivate others in a way that inspires them to choose to help us achieve success.

The second key to achieving success is developing our competency relative to our passion and our purpose. We must follow our passion to find our purpose.

Whether we choose to continuously develop our competency or rest on what we have accomplished in the past is also based on our character.

It takes a higher level of character to continuously invest in developing ourselves.

It’s a lot easier to settle than it is to continuously stretch. As we continue to develop in our areas of passion, we will become more energized, motivated, and inspired. As a result, we will become contagious to those that believe what we believe and want to achieve what we want to achieve. Our influence with others will increase significantly.

I’ve written an entire book, Defining Influence, to help those that want to achieve success understand many of the foundational elements of character development.

High Level Character + High Level Competency = High Level Success


Choose Significance

Significance is a choice that only successful people can make. Why? Because significance is about helping others achieve success. It’s not about me. It’s about we. However, it does begin with me.

If you haven’t achieved success yourself in a specific area, others are not likely to seek you out to help them in that area. Even if they do, the odds you can actually help them achieve success in an area where you haven’t had success yourself is very small, if at all.

You may have achieved success in some areas while struggling in other areas. Success is very dynamic. For instance, someone may have achieved tremendous success in their personal life as a parent. Yet, that same person may have struggled tremendously in their professional life at work.

In this case, the person would be very well positioned to help others achieve success as a parent. However, relative to their area of expertise professionally, they wouldn’t be of much help to anyone because they haven’t achieved success in that area themselves.

Choosing significance also requires a much higher level of character development than achieving success.

Why? Because it’s no longer about your success. It’s about helping others become more successful. Success comes with a high price. However, significance comes with an even higher price. It’s easy to pay the price to achieve success because you win. But, paying the higher price for significance, which means you are paying more to help others win, is not something that most successful people are willing to do.

This blog post is a simple example of success versus significance. Many very successful people have the ability to write blog posts, books, etc. relative to their area of expertise but choose not to do so.

I had to pay the price to achieve success relative to the leadership content I write about by reading, learning, and applying what I’m sharing with you here in my own life. But, by choosing to invest nearly four hours of my time today thinking and writing this blog post to help you, I’m required to pay an even higher price to help you.

I’m giving you and others four hours of my most valuable resource: my time.

By choosing to invest time helping you, I’m sacrificing the time I could be investing to help myself. Additional reading for myself during these four hours would be about achieving additional success. However, writing this blog post for you is about helping you achieve additional success. By making this choice, I’m choosing to be significant instead of successful.

Leave a Legacy

Significant people are the only ones that will leave a legacy. We can only leave a legacy through others.

By choosing significance, my intent is to leave a legacy through others. If I would have continued to only worry about what I had and what I wanted when I was focused on success, I would have never been in a position to choose a life of significance. I would not have the opportunity to leave a legacy.

Leaving a legacy is not about leaving something for others. Leaving a legacy is about leaving something within others. When we repeatedly choose significance, we are making our best attempt to leave a legacy within others.

Leaving a legacy is not truly determined by us.

We have only left a legacy when those we have influenced along the way choose a life of significance and continue the cycle.

Leaving a legacy is about inspiring others to choose significance. Motivation comes from the outside which means we or others must be present to stimulate action. But, inspiration comes from the inside which means others will take action based on what’s already inside of them, not because of who is standing beside them.

When others are acting because we influenced and inspired them, we are leaving a legacy.

We don’t really ever work on leaving a legacy. We first must work on living with abundance. Then, we must work on learning to achieve success. Next, we must work on making intentional choices to become significant. And finally, if we do it well enough and we do it long enough, we will be in a position to leave a legacy.

“Humility means knowing and using your strength for the benefit of others, on behalf of a higher purpose. The humble leader is not weak, but strong…is not pre-occupied with self, but with how best to use his or her strengths for the good of others. A humble leader does not think less of himself, but chooses to consider the needs of others in fulfilling a worthy cause. We love to be in the presence of a humble leader because they bring out the very best in us. Their focus is on our purpose, our contribution, and our ability to accomplish all we set out to accomplish.” ~ Alan Ross

If you enjoyed this, you may also enjoy Be a Game Changer: the world has enough followers.

Note: I encourage you to share my blog posts with others if you find value in them. I believe in abundance and write my blogs to help others become more effective and successful. Click here to receive a free download of “Get Out of the Way and Lead” and to subscribe to my email list to receive periodic leadership lessons.

Make an impact!

Mack Story

My passion is helping people understand what’s common sense isn’t always common practice. I help leaders at all levels develop 360° of influence. The result: they take more responsibility and lead with speed.

The Key to Leading in a Negative Environment


Would you mind writing an article about how to thrive as a leader amidst tides of negativity?” This is a question I received a few weeks ago in my LinkedIn inbox. I hope this post adds value to the person that asked me to share my thoughts on this issue and others that may be in the same situation. I get some form of this question almost weekly from someone.

My reply may not be what you expect. Most often, people that ask this question are searching for practices, but they should be searching for principles.

Practices apply in certain situations. Principles apply in all situation.

For more than 10 years, I have thrived as a leader among a sea of negativity. I’m often sought after for cultural transformation and to professionally lead teams through challenging processes. I usually know nothing or very little about what the teams are actually doing or planning to do. What I do know is how to motivate and inspire people to achieve great results. I recently calculated that I have spent over 11,000 hours leading cross-functional teams through change. Change that most didn’t ask for and most didn’t want. Teams that often didn’t know each other or me. Teams that were often made up of some very negative people.

When a leader is challenged to lead (influence) in a negative environment, they have three options:

  1. Step up. To do so, you must have already made a large investment in personal character development. You must also be the top leader or have leaders above you with the ability to lead at or above your level. If you and your leaders, if applicable, have paid the price, you will be able to effectively deal with any negativity you encounter. Either by changing the people through growth and development or by changing the people through removal and replacement. The leaders that are able to step up never ask me the question that started off this lesson. Why? They already know the answer. If you can’t improve the team and/or your environment, you’re not leading. You’re being led.
  2. Step aside. This is typically what happens when a leader hasn’t done the character work that will allow him/her to lead among a sea of negativity but wants to remain with the team because they don’t have other options. The leader simply steps aside willingly or is pushed aside unwillingly when the real leader, the person with the most influence regardless of rank or title, begins to lead the team. Understand, this influence can be positive or negative. Often, the person with the most influence is negative which influences those around them to also choose to be negative.
  3. Step out. This is typically what happens when a leader has done the character work to lead in a negative environment but has a leader above them that has not. When this happens, the leadership above is undermining the leadership below. High level character development means you have the courage to do whatever it takes to make any situation better. In this case, you can’t make the current environment better because of poor leadership above. However, because of your personal growth and development you have created options and have the courage to act on those options. The result: you change your environment by changing your environment. In other words, you join a new team that doesn’t attract or allow negative team members to contaminate the team.

Strong leaders step up. They are ready. They are positive. They have strong character. They are in a position to make it happen and do make it happen.

Weak leaders step aside. They are not ready. They are negative. They have weak character and blame others for their inability to cope with reality. They are in a position to make it happen but cannot.

Trapped leaders step out. They are ready. They are positive. They have strong character. They are not in a position to make it happen, but they want to make it happen. So, they find a place where they can.

The answer to the question: “How do I thrive as a leader amidst tides of negativity?”

The key to dealing with negativity at any level is character development at your level.

To thrive as a leader in a sea of negativity, you must either step up or step out. The answer to how you thrive in a sea of negativity is found within, not without.

Character is developed daily, not in a day. Everything we cannot effectively deal with can be traced back to a lack of character on our part. That’s not someone else’s fault. That’s our fault. Dr. Henry Cloud, author of Integrity, put it this way, “Character is the ability to meet the demands of reality.” He also added, “Integrity is the courage to meet the demands of reality.”

Note: I’ve written two books and over 100 blog posts that will help you develop your character and your ability to lead.

When you are surrounded by a sea of negativity, it’s always rooted in a lack of leadership. Where leadership thrives, negativity cannot survive. Negativity cannot thrive in an organization that is being led well. Likewise, negativity cannot thrive in an individual that is leading themselves well. Everything rises and falls on leadership. This includes negativity.

Here’s an important question. Which leader causes the negativity in an organization? Sometimes, it’s a leader above us. But, most often, it’s the leader within us. Here’s the most important question. Which leader can we directly influence to address the negativity? It’s always the one within us.

When we think our problem lies outside of ourselves, that very thought is the problem.

Why? Because if nothing “out there” ever changes, we will always have a problem. But, if we think the problem lies within, we have total control and can find a solution to our problem. Now, we simply must do what it takes in order to work and live in the environment we prefer to be in.

Relative to this lesson, if everyone “out there” remains negative, and all we do is blame them and try to fix them, we are in for a miserable life and/or a frustrating career. But, if everyone “out there” remains negative, and we take responsibility for developing ourselves and focusing on our mission, we will create new and better options for ourselves. We may, in fact, influence them to change as a result, or we will develop ourselves to a level where positive people and teams want us to join them.

When dealing with negative people, it’s always nice to have options. When dealing with positive people, it’s still nice to have options.

Be intentional. Develop yourself by developing your character.

Note: I encourage you to share my blog posts with others if you find value in them. I believe in abundance and write my blogs to help others become more effective and successful. Click here to receive a free download of “Get Out of the Way and Lead” and to subscribe to my email list to receive periodic leadership lessons.

Make an impact!

Mack Story

My passion is helping people understand what’s common sense isn’t always common practice. I help leaders at all levels develop 360° of influence. The result: they take more responsibility and lead with speed.

2016 is coming! It’s time to get off the fence and prepare to make it happen!


Pause and Think:

What would change if you had more influence? At work? At home?

“There are leaders and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or influence. Those who lead us inspire us.” ~ Simon Sinek

Leadership is Influence

Do you believe the person with the most influence, in any given situation, at any given time is the leader of the group? Notice, I didn’t ask if the person with the most power, the highest rank, or the biggest title is the leader of the group. Think about the question deeply for a moment.

Forget all the questions that may be popping into your mind as you consider your answer. Keep your thoughts simple. If you have the most influence among a group of people, are you the leader of the group? Yes or no? Without a doubt, the person with the most influence is always the leader.

Do you believe you will be better off with more or less influence? Personally? Professionally? What would change in both areas if your influence increased?

My mentor, John C. Maxwell said it best, “Leadership is influence. Nothing more. Nothing less.” The person with the most influence is the leader of the pack. The word influence can be used in place of the word leadership at any time. They are synonyms. Train yourself to use them interchangeably. But most importantly, when you speak with others, be sure to define leadership as influence to help them better understand they too are leaders, regardless of whether or not they have a formal position.

My belief that everything rises and falls on influence led me to write an entire book on influence, Demystifying Leadership Series: Defining Influence. In Defining Influence, I help the reader discover many principles of influence and fully understand that everyone has influence. Therefore, based on my belief in John C. Maxwell’s definition of influence, everyone is a leader.

The question is not, “Are you a leader?” But rather, “What kind of leader are you?” And most importantly, “What type of leader do you want to become?” How far do you want to grow?

Are you intentionally working to increase your influence? Should you be?

What would happen if your influence increased in every situation? Would your life be better? Would the life of those around you be better? Would you achieve better results? Would your income be more likely to increase? Would you have more options?

Increasing your influence always increases your options.

Consider the last time you were mad, sad, upset, or frustrated at home or at work. Was it because you had too much influence or not enough?

Consider a time when you needed help with a project and couldn’t get it. Was it because you had too much influence or not enough?

I believe everything we ever achieve will be based on the amount of influence we have with others. However, I also believe in order to develop our influence with others, we first must influence ourselves. We must lead ourselves well before we can lead others well. If we want to lead better, we must be better. We must become higher level leaders than we are today.

Note: I encourage you to share my blog posts with others if you find value in them. I believe in abundance and write my blogs to help others become more effective and successful. Click here to receive a free download of “Get Out of the Way and Lead” and to subscribe to my email list to receive periodic leadership lessons.

Make an impact!

Mack Story