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When we graduate from school the temptation is to believe we will no longer be graded on our performance. However, the reality is that upon commencement is when the real grading of our performance begins. It can seem as if we’re being continuously evaluated, or graded, by employers, customers, co-workers, family etc.

There is no doubt that assessment is important and, when done correctly, can provide positive feedback and benchmarks for our professional development. Done incorrectly, feedback from the stakeholders in our lives can be painful and detrimental. It can also lead us to assess our own performance too harshly.

I always found acronyms to be a useful instructional tool. One I use to help early stage entrepreneurs stay focused is G.R.A.D.E.S. Following six simple steps can assure that we are making the grades in our personal and professional development.

Regardless of what others may think, following these steps will lead to success. I have dedicated my career to the study of the entrepreneurial mind and these steps are both supported by research on the traits of highly successful people and my own personal and professional journey.

G = Gifts. Build your career around your God given talents and passion. In other words, do what you’re meant to be doing. I am not a theologian and I cannot quote religious texts chapter and verse. But I know this: The same omnipotent force that created the moon and the stars also created you. Trust in the gifts you’ve been given. Have faith and do what is in your heart.

R = Research. Building a career around your gifts is the first step, but talent alone is not enough. Research separates ideas from opportunities. Management, marketing, psychology, economics….all the things you need to know to assure success are sciences. Think like a scientist. Research topics before delving into them and you’ll find mistakes will be avoided and opportunities will be identified.

A = Action. The universe rewards those who take initiative. There are far too many people in the world who believe commenting on, and complaining about problems is an important contribution. It isn’t. In fact, complaining generally makes the problems worse. Take action every day and you’ll be amazed at what can be accomplished.

D = Diversity. See as much of the world as possible. There is 1 of you….6.5 billion of everyone else. The more international experience you have the richer you become. People can view travel one of two ways: As an expense or as an investment. I encourage everyone to view it as an investment.

E = Education. Ben Franklin told us that “education is the investment that pays the best dividend”. Truer words have never been spoken. We know conclusively from various data sources that education creates access to opportunities and increases earning power, but it also makes you a well rounded person. In a classroom, online or traditional, you can share your knowledge and insight with others. Your knowledge is a wonderful gift you can share. Also, when we learn new things we get closer to reaching our full potential.

S = Support. It’s amazing when we consider how many people come into our lives. My advice is to surround yourself only with those who believe in your vision. If someone close to you doesn’t support your dream simply move on without them. Don’t let anyone, even well meaning friends and relatives, get between you and your destiny. There are many people who want to succeed….join them.

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I grew up working in a family food service business and launched my own business in 1992, at the age of 23. My first venture was a contract manufacturing company where I outsourced the production of family's recipes to large manufacturers who made the products to my specification. I then sold the finished products to supermarkets and restaurant chains throughout New England.

In 1995, I rolled the profits from that venture into my own manufacturing business. However, I soon learned that I did not really have the passion (or skill set at the time) to be an effective manufacturer. One lesson I learned from my mentors is: You have to love what you do. So, after a few years I moved into the consulting area. 1998 saw the formation of my first service business. My company helped restaurants develop new revenue streams, launch new products and enhance marketing efficiency by reducing waste.

In 2000 I was offered a VP position for a new brand oriented product line and within 11 months I helped the founder, a then 21 year old college student, place her products in over 350 stores (using many of the same techniques used I used in my first venture). After earning my MBA in Global Economics (with a Marketing specialization) I accepted the position of Entrepreneur-in-Residence for my alma mater, Johnson & Wales University. I continued my educational journey by earning a Doctorate in Business Administration from Nova Southeastern University.

I have designed undergraduate, graduate and doctoral courses for accredited colleges in Asia, Europe and throughout North America. I enjoy traveling with my wife; helping entrepreneurs; and writing. I'm working on my third book at the moment, and have published about 20 scholarly papers in journals and conference proceedings since 2007. I am currently president of Kenney College, a specialized graduate school offering a MBA with an Entrepreneurship specialization.

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This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Spot on! I felt like I was reading the computer screen on the inside of my brain!!! Now you need to do the video/vimeo/youtube and post it everywhere….! Ken Proudfoot

  2. Nice use of an anagram. I like using words and doing that as well. It forces us to use our imagination in a very creative manner. You research your memory for diversity in coming up with an educational message that supports your gifts. Then you can take action on those new thought patterns. Hey – that was fun using your definitions for my comment !

  3. This is powerful stuff. I recently resigned my job. I was working myself to death in a job I hated with every fibre in my body. I am positive that I will be able to put the same amount of effort into something I really have a passion for. I feel light and reliefed. I am positive that I will make the grade. Very powerful advice. Thanks a lot Matthew Kenny.

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