Free New App on the iTunes App Store

from Mark Thompson and Brian Tracy
Now Build a Great Business!

No matter what industry you’re in or what economic conditions you are facing, you can still build a phenomenally successful business. Executive Coach MarkThompson and International Success Expert Brian Tracy reveal seven powerful principles that will change your business for the better in a brand new FREE app based on their bestselling book Now Build a Great Business.

Now Build a Great Business App sample screens.

This app contains seven chapters that teach people how to:

  • Attract and keep great people — build peak-performing teams.
  • Develop a great business plan — structure your business to maximize every resource.
  • Offer a great product or service — identify exactly what your market needs.
  • Deliver superior customer service — make service your key competitive advantage.
  • Create a great marketing plan — position your business as the preeminent provider.
  • Perfect your sales process — motivate customers to buy again and again.
App features:

  • Seven inspiring, thought-provoking chapters about building a successful business.
  • 50+ action exercises to help users apply the seven principles to their own businesses.
  • Personal journal to record thoughts and experience.
  • Community discussion after each chapter.
  • Narration by Mark Thompson and Brian Tracy for all seven chapters.This free app allows access to a portion of the content. Additional chapters and narration can be unlocked via in-app purchases.

Visit the iTunes App Store to download this app for FREE! Column: How Top Leaders Handle Setbacks and Criticism

Executive Coach Mark Thompson shares lessons from America’s most successful executives on how to gracefully survive a professional drubbing.

Mark Thompson in Inc.When it became clear this spring that Alan Mulally, Ford’s CEO, wasn’t going to be selected for the top spot at Microsoft, the software company’s stock took a hit. You might think Mulally’s ego would take one too. As it happens, he took it in stride. (Ford showed their love by awarding him another $14 million in stock for the company’s prior year’s performance. And now that he’s announced his retirement this summer, there’s an epic line of companies hungry to recruit him.)Mulally wasn’t always in so much demand or as sanguine in the face of rejection. When Mulally was Boeing’s president, it was widely expected that he would be made CEO after a decade of successes at the company. He led the development of the 777 and shepherded the aircraft maker through a vibrant recovery from the financial wounds inflicted by 9/11 (the terrorists used Boeing 757s and 767s in the attack).

Mulally admits that when Boeing passed him over for the job, he was briefly devastated. But he quickly recovered because, he says, “a bad attitude simply erases everyone else’s memory of the incredible progress achieved.” He did not want to tarnish all “the great progress we had made” by becoming that bitter guy. He chose, instead, to remain a proud and gifted leader – albeit one who had suffered a professional setback. He was promptly recruited by Ford to re-ignite another iconic American manufacturer.

Legendary leaders like Mulally have three coping mechanisms that help them get through times when criticism, failure or disappointment threaten to rob the mojo that made them successful in the first place.  (more…)

Read the rest of Mark’s column on

MY AFTER WITH MAYA: The Seven Sacred Promises

“This life, this experience is our one time to be ourselves.
It’s amazing. It’s such an incredible gift.”
– Maya Angelou

Several years ago, Maya Angelou reluctantly invited me to her home for a public broadcasting interview. I say “reluctantly” because at the time, I was the executive producer of and the Schwab CEO series, so Dr. Angelou’s office wondered aloud why a business geek like me wanted to get a front-row seat with Maya to discuss her life and existential poetry. I had been broadcasting interviews with billionaires like Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, and it was time to break out of my comfort zone to interview this remarkable literary pioneer and leader.

On the day I arrived in Wake Forest, NC – Maya had cancelled all her meetings because she wasn’t feeling well. Since I had already made the trip, I told her office that I’d be happy to sit outside her home on that blustery fall day and wait – and if she were feeling well enough anytime that day, that I’d be there and she could allow me the interview if she wanted to. Finally, her assistant took pity and let me wait in her living room, where I could smell freshly-baked cookies, coffee and comfort food. She had a 12-foot picture window looking out to the fall trees, where brilliant yellow, orange and red leaves swirled as though in an aquarium.

An hour later, I looked up to see Maya – a majestic six-foot Amazon – enter the room. She shook my hand and settled into her favorite chair to chat. We talked about kids and love and life, and the 20-minute interview slot turned into four hours of laughter, deeply moving conversation, and lessons that I’d never forget. I think we healed each other that day.

The resulting program was called “Seven Sacred Promises”, and if you’d like to listen to the interview or read a copy of the transcript – you can find one of the chapters at

Here’s an excerpt from our conversation: “This experience, this life, is our one time to be ourselves. It’s amazing. It’s such an incredible gift. The present is a present; it is a gift. To not try to live fully is to say to the creator, ‘I really don’t appreciate this incredible cornucopia. I’m not going to enjoy color, music, or order, or disorder. I just refuse.’ It’s amazing that the creator doesn’t just bump you into being a non-entity.”

“By the time my son was 7, I taught him that there was a place inside himself, so sacred, that no one had the right to walk in there. Nobody. No mother, father, no wife, husband, no child. Because that maybe the place that you go to meet God when you die. That place must be pristine. And it is your responsibility to keep it pristine. So if you don’t, if you allow any brut to come in trashing that place, what happens to you? Where do you go for solace inside yourself? Can’t do that. There is something so sacred in each of us.”

Maya told me that there were customers who would come into her Grandmother’s store and complain about everything. “When that person would leave, she would call me. ‘There are people all over the world, white and black, rich and poor, going to sleep when that person went to sleep. They will never wake again. Their beds have become their cooling boards, their blankets have become their winding sheets and they would give ANYTHING for just 5 minutes of what that person was complaining about.’”

What I wouldn’t give for 5 more minutes with the late, great Maya Angelou. I’m so thankful for the gift of the time I shared with her – and her spirit will live on in her words for the ages. Rest in Peace Maya.

Listen to the rest of Mark’s interview with Maya Angelou:

BECOMING A VALUED PLAYER: Free AMA Webinar with Mark Thompson, Bonita Thompson and Q&A with Sir Richard Branson


Executive Coach, Keynote Speaker and NY Times bestselling leadership guru Mark Thompson and NYT Bestselling Author Bonita Thompson delivered this free American Management Association Webinar, that included a Q&A with Sir Richard Branson.
Originally recorded on April 16, 2014.

Follow Mark on Twitter @SuccessMatters



Spring is a time of renewal and rebirth – and the perfect time to renew your commitment to achieving long term goals or even to reinvent your business. No matter what your circumstances, you can always commit to taking positive steps in a new direction. Mandela taught it best in 5 lessons he shared with me in a conversation at the World Economic Forum about the strategies and attitude that it takes to achieve “impossible” goals…

“I am the master of my fate, the captain of my soul.”

1. You don’t have to be perfect to make a difference.

In the years before Mandela, an activist lawyer, had been sent to a death camp, he was zealously over-confident about his mission to end apartheid. Although Mandela initially advocated a peaceful solution, he eventually took up arms when the path of peace appeared to be a dead end. In 1964, he was convicted of conspiracy and sabotage and sentenced to life imprisonment. They sent him to a lifetime of hard labor to break his spirit.

After 27 years in captivity, Mandela had every reason to have become the worst man on his continent, but instead he accelerated the peaceful reinvention of his nation. The fact that he didn’t start out as a saint, with neither perfect grace, nor humility, before his long walk to freedom, makes his journey even more useful and inspiring to the rest of us. That’s the Mandela Effect.

As Richard put it, “When you can create enduring impact not because you are perfect or lucky, but because you have the courage to build a different future rather than dwell in the past”. The secret to lasting success – of whatever kind – is to create a life that matters for yourself and those you serve.

2. Being persistent does not mean being inflexible.

“Do not judge me by my successes”, Mandela admonished. “Judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” It was always about finding a new route down a winding road, he said.

It’s horrifying to imagine the decades he suffered in a cramped cell every night. From dawn to dusk, he dragged stones in the blinding heat. You can’t steel yourself for year after year dreaming that hopeless circumstances will change, he said. You have to change the way you deal with the circumstances. Being flexible in finding a new door every time the last one slams shut is the difference between those who find their way and those who remain lost, he said…

Read the rest of Mandela’s 5 lessons on Mark’s blog post on’s-five-strategies-from-davos



If you could ask Sir Richard Branson any question…what would you ask? Here’s your chance to ask Sir Richard Branson your best question about life and work.

If your question is selected, you’ll get a free book from Richard and Keynote Speaker & New York Times bestselling leadership guru Mark Thompson—who’s hosting the free American Management Association Webinar on April 16 @ Noon EST.

Send your questions to Mark on Twitter @SuccessMatters by April 3 to win your free book!

Sign up for the Free Webinar on the AMA website:

Sir Richard Branson and Mark C. Thompson


What You Will Learn
Practical Tips and Tactics for Becoming an MVP at Work and in Your Personal Life

With the growing trend of distraction and dysfunction in the workplace, more people are seeking to be the valued team member they feel they should be. Consultants and authors Mark Thompson and Bonita Buell-Thompson, along with researcher Clifford Nass, have assembled new, clear strategies for anyone wanting to become a truly valued contributor both at work and in their personal lives. This webcast will present recent study data and lay out the tactical, practical steps required for this type of change.

Sir Richard Branson will be a special guest on this program, answering questions program registrants have submitted in advance. Topics to be covered include:

  • The Myth of Multitasking
  • The Power of Reciprocity
  • Removing the Distractions

Sign up for the Free Webinar on the AMA website:

Reminder for Your 2014 Goals: “The purpose of your success is to serve others. The purpose of your life is to love and be loved.”

Watching Ford CEO Alan Mulally on CBS This Morning talking about his greener, stronger truck reminds me of a rare intimate interview I had with Alan in his Detroit office. He shares a valuable insight at the end of this two minute clip from our interview: …”the purpose of our success is to serve others because that’s the ultimate reward. The purpose of life is to love and be loved…”

Alan Mulally with Mark Thompson

That’s not the first thing you would have expected to hear in the corner office of one of the world’s largest companies, but a great way to remember why we do what we do!

Mark’s Interview with Alan Mulally on Leadership and Service:

A note Mark received from Alan Mulally after the Colbert interview:

:))) … thank you Mark!!

PS – Ford fun for you!

“Colbert was terrifying!!…..:))))”
Alan Mulally on with Steven Colbert
Wonderful history of Mustang with Jay Leno!!

What Amazon’s Jeff Bezos told me about How to Create a Business that Grows Faster & Bigger Than Any Competitor: Three Essentials to Success

Landing in Brazil this week, I peered out the window at the world’s largest river—the Amazon.  It’s home to the planet’s most diverse ecosystem and the greatest single source of oxygen and fresh water known to mankind. As I thought about my upcoming keynote at the International Forum of Management Strategy and Innovation, I remembered my late night interview with Jeff Bezos as snow fell outside in Davos, Switzerland, at the World Economic Forum.  Bezos wanted to create the world’s biggest and best supermarket, and the massive Amazon River was the only word that could even start to embody the size and scope of his ambitions to re-invent the retail world as we know it.

You’re a Cause AND a Company

“You can’t ‘persuade’ people to believe in you. You have to prove it with actual results. Sounds obvious, perhaps, but too often brands because they think they can just market your way to a real reputation. It’s steak AND sizzle, isn’t it!”  Bezos let out his trademark laugh/guffaw, and slapped his hand on the table.

That’s why Amazon was unprofitable for the first 5 years, and even though the investors were screaming for an exit, Bezos stayed the course and remained devoted to his vision. “It took us awhile to figure out how to get every detail right, and once you think you’re good at it, check again!  You’re dead if you think others around you aren’t getting better at it too!  We’re still figuring that out now with fresh groceries.”

This practice is a mix of “Fanatic Discipline” and “Productive Paranoia”.  I’d never suggest becoming so paranoid as to abandon your ambitions, but what our research showed about the most Admired, fastest growing companies is that they never took success for granted–their paranoia led them to be productive with daily improvements in a fanatically disciplined way.

As Bezos told me, “Amazon had to invent our brand for the first time. (And we’ve never stopped reinventing it!) In the beginning, we had to demonstrate we could actually beat (or match) conventional stores in three ways that you can’t fake.”

“Think about it, this was a time when people still doubted the safety of online purchases,” Bezos giggled. “Can you imagine a day when customers said, you do NOT have to provide these 3 essentials for long term success?

1) higher quality AND selection
2) faster delivery
3) greater value as the customer defines it — which is not always the cheapest product — but the one that meets or exceeds your expectations.”

“People don’t say: I wish you’d deliver slower and charge more!” Bezos smiled.

I celebrated Jeff Bezos’ never-ending ambitions — from Amazon’s start as an online bookstore to becoming the world’s largest retailer — during my keynote at an Expo2020 Innovation event in Dubai this week. I was honored to be there with my clients from Schwab, Coca Cola, Cisco, Hershey’s, Virgin, Rolls Royce and others.

One of the most critical distinctions between growth companies like these and other companies is the difference that their leaders make in creating and sustaining a growth culture. Jeff Bezos did it with humor, consistency and an undying devotion to learning from customers that continues to drive Amazon’s growth today. In contrast, Steve Jobs lead with the inspiring brilliance of an inventor and the intimidating emotional demeanor of a mad scientist! No two organizations or leaders will have exactly the same recipe for success, but those who encourage productive paranoia and build a culture of listening to and learning from customers are able to sustain growth and achieve lasting success.

For more insights, tune in to the podcast of Mark’s Oct. 22nd interview on the Dubai Eye “Business Breakfast” radio news show.

Four Key Traits of the Most Admired Organizations

Four key traits are common to all of the Most Admired Organizations from our study of over 27,000 organizations in 110 countries –a commitment to “fanatic discipline”, “productive paranoia”, creativity, and ambition were essential to long term organizational success.

First, and most importantly, Most Admired organizations exhibit “fanatic discipline”. Jim Collins describes fanatic discipline as a consistency of action and a willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve a great outcome. In Most Admired organizations, this discipline is applied to achieving a deep level of customer intimacy – where you understand not only how your products are used, but truly how they integrate into the lives of the people who use them. Steve Jobs didn’t invent the PC, the mp3 player or smart phones – rather, he reinvented these ideas and made them accessible in new ways. He created products that became a “compelling lifestyle experience” by continually asking, “How are we going to become a part of our customers’ lives?”

The second trait is “Productive Paranoia”. This is not a paranoia based on fear or hiding from reality – instead it is the willingness to look at your competitors and what they are doing right. It is essential to know that while you don’t want to be your competitor, you must understand what draws some of the market to choose your competitors. In most industries, billions of dollars are being spent among a number of competitors and it is imperative to understand what your competitors have going for them as well as their potential weaknesses.

Creativity – it is a given, almost a cliché, that every employee in a Most Admired company is expected to innovate and be creative – but in this case, I’m talking about ‘empirical creativity’. What is empirical creativity and how do you achieve it? Gaining an intimate understanding about your customers leads to developing more creative solutions for them. You can’t be afraid to ask – to admit that you don’t already know everything. You have to allow your customers into the innovation process with you. You have to understand their definition of success as well as your own. The humility to ask and listen leads to greater understanding of your customers, more creative solutions, and longer relationships. The organizations that know more about their customers win their customers’ loyalty.

Finally, another key factor is ambition – a continued sense of “staying hungry” even after achieving great success. Ambition in this sense is key to what Jim Collins calls “Level 5 Leadership”.  Level 5 leaders are those who reject the “Tyranny of the OR” and embrace the “Genius of the AND”. The Most Admired leaders are AND thinkers. What can we do to grow AND increase quality? What can we do to be ambitious about our brand AND be humble enough to listen? The Most Admired leaders know that long term success requires both ambition and humility.

Organizations that continue to think this way – who are disciplined, assertive and continually set “Big Hairy Audacious Goals” are the ones who go on to become #1 in their industries. They don’t rest on their laurels after achieving their goals, they set new ones. Those that don’t continue to set new BHAG’s to accelerate growth lose their mojo and their leadership positions. In the thousands of organizations that we studied, the companies that didn’t set new goals and tried to coast were out of the pole position within 3-5 years, and often out of business in 10 years. “Accelerating growth” turns out to be a critical core competency of the 10X and Most Admired organizations.

Fanatic discipline enables you to continue to deliver great products of high quality and productive paranoia keeps you aware of the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. Ambition ensures that you continue to innovate and not rest on your laurels. Humility allows you to listen and develop a deep level of customer intimacy where customers feel more like partners knowing that you are committed to their success as well as your own. A commitment to all four of these key factors of Most Admired organizations leads to 10X performance and long term success.

Three Things You Can Do Today To Be More Valued & Admired…

Most people can’t recall ever feeling “overvalued” in their lives, can you?  Even the world’s most successful people—like Charles Schwab—remember plenty of times that they haven’t felt valued. Here are three things you can do today (and a few things he had to do) to build a great company!

1. Do your Values-based Homework: When we explored the idea of being admired in our research, we realized that while people are usually quite clear about their own values and what they admire, they rarely know much about what the people surrounding them value most.  It’s ironic:  How can you be admired and valued by those around you if you don’t know what they value? When we asked people nationally in our research whether they felt fully valued – overall, people gave that about a 4 or 5 on a scale of 10. The next natural question is, “How well do you know what the important people in your life actually need and value?” This reveals the disconnect. The respondents gave this only about a 2 or 3! We all expect to be admired and rewarded for our contributions, but we haven’t stopped to consider those who are most critical to us in our lives and whether we know how to be relevant and valuable to them. So in order to become more valued and admired, it’s imperative to ask, “How can I be more valuable to my MVPs?

2. Create your List of MVPs. Being admired is really something that each of us can take on as a mission in our work and personal lives, and it starts with understanding the “MVPs” – Most Valuable People – in your life. Who is it that really matters to you in your life and work? Think about that short list… Who is making you valuable at the office? Who supports you in your mission each day? Who are these people in your personal life? That list may include people that you report to, those who work for you, a team that supports you, your family or friends – it’s the people who enable you to do what you do and be successful. In other words, who would you like to be valued by? And what do these people need from you and value most?

3. Be Relevant. It’s important to understand your MVPs – their motivations and their definitions of success – in order to be relevant and valued in their lives. We often act in alignment with our own personal values and expectations without finding the common ground between our values and the needs and values of the most important people in our lives and work. These questions are pertinent whether you are talking about your relationship with a boss, your company’s customers or your kids. It’s a transformational concept – when you understand what you admire vs. what the MVPs in your life value – and that you understand both the overlap and the differences.

Mark Thompson and Chuck SchwabI had an amazing day last week – I rode with my mentor Charles “Chuck” Schwab, who I worked with for over 12 years in the early days of Schwab when the company was growing rapidly and we took the company public. I was accompanying him on his private jet to visit locations where he has been highly involved in museums and arts education – a cause that is important to both of us. I’ve also spent time with him on causes like dyslexia – another common cause which we are both passionate about. Chuck is dyslexic – in fact, he was almost kicked out of college twice. He had incredibly difficult challenges early in his career starting businesses and keeping them afloat until he realized that the key to his success would be reaching out to others who had strengths that complemented his weaknesses.

Many entrepreneurs think that they are brilliant at everything and can do everything. He admits that even though he thought that he was a pretty bright guy, it was humiliating to nearly get tossed out of business school. As a dyslexic, you realize very quickly that you need to surround yourself with a great team in order to get everything done. It’s a reality check that everyone learns in business at some point – unfortunately, it’s not until we have head handed to us or we are humiliated in a difficult situation that we realize that we really can’t scale something on our own.

Chuck decided to figure out the MVPs that he would need – he assessed his own skills and those that he would need to add to his team in order to be able to scale his business quickly. When he opened the doors at Schwab, he knew that he needed people who had a passion for the things that he was not good at and to give them ownership of those aspects of his overall vision. And under his leadership, each of us felt that we were an integral part of the success of the company, and Schwab has grown to become one of the largest and most ADMIRED companies in investment services.

Each of us has to figure out who our MVPs are, what they value, and what would really “flip the switch” and make them want to own and grow a business. This is when the magic happens – when you find other people who share your values and vision and are willing to join your cause. It’s what enables an entrepreneur to scale a business, or enables you to create a family and positive life together with others. By identifying your MVPs, understanding their values and criteria for success, and giving your MVPs “ownership” (whether it’s tangible or metaphorical ownership) – not only will they feel valued and rewarded – you will become more ADMIRED as well.

Listen to Mark’s entire interview at “Money for Lunch” on BlogTalkRadio.