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To find out more, go to www.hachettespeakersbureau.com or call (866)376-6591.Unless otherwise noted Scriptures are taken from the Holy Bible, NewInternational Version®, NIV®, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica,Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible,English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishingministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.Scriptures marked (KJV) are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.Scripture quotations marked (NASB) are taken from the New American StandardBible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.Scripture quotations marked (NKJV) are taken from the New King JamesVersion®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rightsreserved.Scripture quotations marked (WEB) are taken from the World English Bible.Library of Congress Control Number: 2017945957ISBN: 978-1-4555-5390-7 (hardcover), 978-1-4555-5388-4 (ebook), 978-1-4555-8404-8 (international trade), 978-1-4555-8219-8 (large print), 978-1-5460-2716-4 (signed edition), 978-1-5460-2715-7 (B&N signed edition), 978-1-4789-4532-1 (South African trade) E3-20170824-JV-PCContentsCoverTitle PageCopyrightDedicationIntroduction: Cleared for Takeoff!PART I EXPAND YOUR VISION1. Ignite Your Flight—Putting Vision in Motion2. Winds and Trends—Know Your Conditions3. Damsel, Arise!—When the Wind Is Blowing Your WayPART II BUILD YOUR WINGS4. It Takes Two—Inspiration and Innovation5. Flight Plan—Your Blueprint for Success6. Invisible Wings—Riding the Winds of E-CommercePART III CLEAR THE CLOUDS7. Flight Crew—Assembling Your Dream Team8. What Goes Up Must Come Down—Entrepreneurial Leadership9. Fail Fast and Crash Last—Entrepreneurial LeadershipPART IV SOAR TO NEW HEIGHTS10. Growing Forward—Minding Your Own Business11. The Miracle of Marketing—Burning Your Bushel to Fly Higher12. New Frontiers—Creating Your LegacyAcknowledgmentsAppendix: References and ResourcesOther ResourcesAbout the AuthorAlso by T. D. JakesNewslettersTo the more than ten thousand former inmates who have successfully graduatedfrom our Texas Offenders Reentry Initiative. Your strength, determination, faith,and dedication exemplify what it means to build a new life and mount up onwings like eagles. May you continue to soar even as you inspire others to followyou across the sky!INTRODUCTIONCleared for Takeoff!If we worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true really istrue, then there would be little hope for advance.—Orville WrightYou never forget the first time you fly.Racing down the runway in a huge metal cylinder with wings, you gasp asthe plane surges and lifts and you realize that the two-ton machine you’re in nolonger touches the ground. Through the porthole window, you watch as theterminal, parking lot, trees, lawns, houses, parks, businesses, cars, and highwaysrecede until they become as small as children’s toys littering a quilt of gray,brown, and green.Then you can no longer see what is beneath you as the plane climbs higherand higher into an expanse of blue embroidered with white. You smile toyourself as golden strands of sunlight filter through the clouds like giant handsfingering the endless silk of the sky. Your mind marvels at the fact you arethousands of feet in the air even as your stomach lurches to remind you it prefersthe solid ground below.The only sounds are the drowsy hum of the plane’s engines and your ownheartbeat drumming a rhythm of equal parts terror and exhilaration. You wonderif this is how a bird feels as it soars high above the earth, never looking back atthe branch from which it departed, only ahead toward the distant horizon. Youknow you will never forget this experience and all its sensations of delight andwonder, anxiety and fear.Perhaps your first flight was not as magical as my own, but I bet it was just asmemorable. I was young, probably around eleven or twelve years old, and flewby myself from Charleston, West Virginia, to Cleveland, Ohio, where my fatherwas receiving medical treatment for the kidney disease that would eventuallyclaim his life. My mother was already there and would be the one to pick me upon arrival. Even my concern for my father’s health could not dampen the thrill Iexperienced flying that first time as a child passenger.That excitement had been ignited in me years earlier when my father woulddrive our family up the hill toward the airport for one of life’s simple andabsolutely free pleasures—watching the planes come and go. Summer daysespecially we would drive up and park where we had an optimal view of theCessna jets with their wealthy business travelers as well as the commercial 747sshuttling assorted passengers through the friendly skies. The red-orange sunwould be descending in the afternoon sky, heavy from the weight of its ownsweltering heat, and we’d have all the windows rolled down to catch a breeze asmy siblings and I laughed and pointed out specific clouds to each other—acamel, a roller coaster, the face of one of our aunties—while waiting for the nextplane to land or take off.We couldn’t afford the trips to the Florida beaches or vacations to the GrandCanyon that my classmates would boast about the rest of the summer. But wehad the next best thing, stimulating our imaginations more than any visit toDisneyland, driving up that hill by the airport before or sometimes after dinnerfrom time to time. As we sat in the car or ventured out on the lot to get a closerlook, we would imagine we were on those planes, going God knows where, tosee God knows what!Defying GravityFlying for the first time is a lot like creating your own business, launching astart-up, or establishing a nonprofit organization. Undertaking such venturesrequires overcoming the inherent fear of leaving the safety of solid groundbehind, defying gravity, and embarking on a journey of unexpected variableswithin predictable patterns toward a deliberate destination. In other words, bothrequire a little bit of crazy and a whole lot of courage!Sitting there as a kid and watching planes fly in and out, I loved listening tomy parents tell us how their parents grew up during a time when all they couldsee in the sky were birds and clouds, occupying space where people could notgo. My mother was born in 1926, and while I’m not sure when her mother wasborn, I suspect it was around the time the Wright brothers first successfullylaunched their fixed-wing aircraft at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1903. Whydo I suspect this? Because my great-aunts were afraid of flying until they died!I wasn’t afraid so much as I was curious. Even as a kid, I couldn’t help butwonder what Orville and Wilbur Wright must have had on their minds and intheir hearts that caused them to build a machine heavy enough to hold humanbeings and yet light enough to fly through the air. What compelled them toutilize scrap materials from a bicycle shop to build wings that would foreverchange the world? What drove them to try and fail and try some more and tokeep trying time and time again even when the wind was against them?Whatever it was, their passionate pursuit of innovation transformed inspirationand perspiration into aviation!The Wright brothers knew the laws of gravity worked against them. Theyknew that people thought they were crazy for even trying to create a flyingmachine that could soar through the skies above everyone else. However, theydefied the odds—and gravity—by refusing to give up until they discovered newlaws, principles of aerodynamics that enabled a craft of a certain weighttraveling at a certain velocity to gain momentum and catch flight. These pioneersof the skies created a new normal, a paradigm shift so life-changing that ittransformed the way we travel, transact business, and conduct warfare.Now maybe you aren’t interested in building a flying machine. But inessence the Wright brothers’ endeavor is the goal of every entrepreneur. Whatdo you need to build in order to get up there into the sky of economic viability?How can you take what you have and escape the gravitational pull of a salarythat limits your ability to escape from living paycheck to paycheck?At the end of the day, the same innovative, relentless tenacity that fueled theWright brothers determines the direction of your own dreams. It is the power ofone transformative belief held firmly in place, the daring idea that says justbecause I haven’t seen it modeled in my past doesn’t mean that I cannot createsomething that changes the trajectory of my future. Simply put, it is the power tomake the seemingly impossible become your new reality.When I stood in the parking lot watching the planes soar all those years ago, Iwondered if I would ever travel beyond the confines into which I was born byembarking on a flight that would carry me off to new, exciting adventures and alife defined by limitless possibility. Could I create my own flying machine thatwould enable me to soar into a future with more options and opportunities thanthe ground beneath my feet presently offered? Standing out there as a boy Iknew that someday, some way, my personal vision of what I could do wouldbecome a reality. I would build something that would transport me beyondwhere I stood into the place where I, too, could mount up on eagle’s wings withthe help of the Lord.I knew I could build my vision from the ground up and find the power tomake it soar, and that has made all the difference!Get Your Vision Off the GroundYou, too, hold within your hands the power to soar.You may not have known it and believed it at an early age like I did, but itremains true nonetheless. You don’t have angel wings sprouting from yourshoulder blades, possess superpowers like many heroes on our movie screens, orown a Cessna aircraft, but if you have the desire for advancement in your lifeand you’re willing to risk the familiar comfort of where you are for theadrenaline-fueled thrill of where you want to be, then you can fly. Flight ispossible even for those who are emotionally, financially, and creatively fatigued.You can take your vision, build it into something remarkable, and reach heightsyou could have never imagined.If you doubt my faith in such flight for your own life, then consider the wind—invisible yet powerful enough to level buildings. Even as it provides lift forplanes weighing thousands of pounds, wind has no color, no texture, no visibleshape, and no sentient intentionality. As a force of nature, wind is easier todocument by its external effects than by its inherent attributes.Likewise for a person rising from where they are to where they want to be:their ascendancy on the outside must begin with the transcendence of a personalvision for what they can be on the inside. As surely as wind moves a 747, achange in your life’s perspective cannot always be conveyed adequately bylanguage. But its effect could have immediate as well as generationalconsequences on your ability to reach new heights beyond your presentwingspan.And that’s what this book is all about.I will share many tips as we prepare for this journey. My hope is that theywill be valuable whether you are new to this whole entrepreneurial process orwhether you are a venerable veteran of catapulting new endeavors into the wildblue yonder. I do not know everything about being a successful entrepreneur, butwhat I do know I humbly offer you within these pages. Your business plan—whether conceptual or concrete—will serve as your flight manual for gettingyour vision off the ground and sustaining a successful flight toward a divinedestination beyond your imagination.From the Control TowerYears ago, when I was much younger, I worked for the now defunct PiedmontAirlines in the baggage claim area. It was merely a summer job, but after myearly years of gazing at planes from the parking lot, I got a much closer look athow they operated. I quickly learned that a landing plane receives directions andguidance from the ground crew. Waving a brightly colored flag or illuminatedbaton, these team members guided the pilot to park the plane at a specific gate orin another area designated for passengers and baggage to be unloaded.Learning these signs was requisite for any full-time airline employee workingon the tarmac, and obviously the pilots had to understand what the signals meantin order to comply. But I also recognized that when it was time for a plane totake off, no such ground signals were available or implemented. All directioncame from the lofty pinnacle of the control tower tasked with navigating thepilot through the maze of other flights taking off and landing. The pilot receiveddirections transmitted by a voice within his headset. No matter how experiencedthe pilot may have been, he was unable to see all the other aircraft lurking in theclouds, circling the airport, or preparing to land. This kind of guidance was givenby the informed person in the tower, someone with the ability to take intoconsideration comprehensive information that wasn’t just privileged but wasalso critical to increase safety and to avoid calamities.Like a veteran air traffic controller, I want to do the same for you. I want tohelp you avoid the dangerous liability of not clearly seeing information thatcould drastically change the outcome of your smooth takeoff into unknownskies. Here are a few tips that are designed for the benefit of increasing thelikelihood of success and to diminish the likelihood of casualties and collateraldamage associated with getting your new venture off the ground. From my perchof many decades of living, working, and thriving as an entrepreneur, I hope toprovide some vital information to help you gain velocity as well as offerdirective guidance for avoiding potential disasters that could cause you to crash.A Bird’s-Eye ViewThere is no easy formula for entrepreneurial success, for part of the joy inherentin flight is building your own wings from scratch and discovering newdestinations. But over the years I’ve identified an adaptable and progressiveprocess that will focus your energies in the most productive ways for thesustainable flight of your new venture. For the entrepreneur already airborne, Ihope to introduce concepts that will enable you to become more streamlined andto increase your momentum by decreasing the excess baggage impeding yourascent. Some steps in the process may be familiar while others may surprise you,but I can guarantee that all of them will challenge you, inspire you, and elevateyou beyond ground level.Here is a bird’s-eye view of our journey together.1. CATCH A VISION OF YOUR DESTINATIONWe will first explore how to turn your flights of fancy into fights you canwin in the battle to get your vision off the ground. We’ll discuss how toconnect to your passion and how to identify your motives for wanting tosoar as a new business owner, discovering along the way why the time hasnever been better for female entrepreneurs to take flight. Next, I will guideyou in identifying a problem that intersects with your passion, because nomatter how gifted and enthusiastic you may be, if there is no market forwhat you want to offer you’re doomed to spin your wheels on an endlessrunway of frustrating futility. Digging deeper into your desire to be anentrepreneur, we will examine the commitment required if your vision is totake flight.2. BUILD YOUR WINGSTaking action to turn your dream into a flying machine requires a strategicflight plan and the resourcefulness to use the materials available to you. Aswith building a plane, most entrepreneurs start with pieces, parts, andpotentials. Your proficiency at fusing these fragments creates theuniqueness of your brand and hastens your goal of operating at higheraltitudes than your past experiences have propelled you. While imitatingthose who have gone before you is crucial to your success, knowing howand when to innovate and blaze your own trail is just as vital. And if you’regoing to construct an aircraft capable of sustained flight, you need a flightcrew of kindred spirits willing to build, bond, and board this new venturewith you.3. CLEAR THE CLOUDSDefying gravity and getting off the ground is only the first step insustaining a long, smooth flight for your new business. Understand thatbetween liftoff and stability, you will experience a certain period ofvolatility that’s inherent with growth. As you learn to anticipate turbulenceas part of the process, you will discover that rough air is always an attributeof ascension. Your ability to anticipate that turbulence rather than be rattledby it is an important part of flight. Experience reveals that what may seemgut-wrenching at first is merely a sign that you’re at a higher level. You canrelax in the midst of those bumps and explore new routes both above andbelow your current altitude, where your business can enjoy smooth sailing.Learning early on from small mistakes often determines the differencebetween your business’s ability to survive a crisis and the likelihood that itwill crash.4. SOAR TO NEW HEIGHTSThriving and growing frequently require adapting to new conditions,adjusting your flight plan, and even changing course for a new destination.While refueling your engines and maintaining the body of your businessmay seem obvious, you may be surprised how many new ventures fail intheir first year because of easily avoidable mistakes and misperceptions. Nomatter your venture’s focus, once it’s airborne you can break the barriersbeyond previous possibilities if you’re boldly willing to go where no onehas gone before.Kiss the CloudsWhatever your business may be, it will never work if you can’t get it off theground and into the air. It is my hope that I can share tips and tools with you thatwill help you build the internal fortitude necessary to get your dream off therunway and into the air. Guiding and assisting you to the best of my ability, Iwant you to experience the exhilaration that comes only from watchingsomething you’ve created from scratch catch the winds and trends of sustainableflight. There’s no greater, more satisfying feeling in the world than giving birthto a dream with strong wings.If you’ve never done this or if you have done it many times before, you knowthere are risks involved. But with any endeavor of value, risk is requisite forreaping rewards. Yes, there will be a wave of anxious fear, which is a healthycaution. Just imagine what the Wright brothers must have felt as their craft leftthe ground and kissed the clouds! Surely it was a heart-racing, head-spinningmoment of jubilation unlike any other. And you can feel it, too—that thrillexperienced by every visionary when their abstract ideals and figurativefantasies materialize and take flight.So buckle up and fasten your seat belt because objects and ideas overhead aredefinitely about to shift! Whether you are twenty-six or sixty-six, this feeling ofliftoff makes the hair on your head or the sweat on your bald spot tingle!Already you can start to feel yourself break away from the gravitational pull thatkeeps gazers on the ground. Your feet are itching to rise into the air and ascendas you make your vision a reality! This is the pivotal moment of decision thatcreates the exhilaration of entrepreneurs, a high that is beyond anything you’veever experienced.Are you ready? Are you willing to leave the safety of where you stand now inorder to soar in the limitless skies above? Then turn the page, my entrepreneurialfriend, and let’s get started—you have been cleared for takeoff!
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