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As a successful entrepreneur, Blake Mallen has built billion-dollar brands from the ground up in the health, wellness and lifestyle categories. He had no formal education in business or entrepreneurship; his college focus was on becoming a prominent attorney. But one defining day while interning at a law firm, Mallen was asked why he was working so diligently on getting the grades and building his resume. His response: “Well, isn’t that I’m supposed to do?” It was in that defining moment when Mallen realized that what he had been told all his life he was ‘supposed to do’ was not what he felt he was ‘meant to do.’ He had been following society’s prescription for success (“the script” as he calls it), which kept him stuck following a path of ‘supposed to’ and prevented him from ever even looking for his ‘meant to.’ That realization shifted Mallen’s mindset, starting him on the path to entrepreneurship. And now, nearly 20 years later, as noted in his popular TEDx Talk, he’s on a mission to help people shift their own life script and pursue their full potential.
Part of making that shift is addressing the mindset towards one’s career. Mallen sees true “freedom” as an important key to unlocking potential. Financial freedom, emotional freedom, or creative freedom only happens when someone feels truly free to think and do what they want, which then starts them towards discovering what they really do want. And today, as more and more people are choosing entrepreneurship as their path to achieve that kind of freedom, Mallen believes that simply deciding to become an entrepreneur does not immediately mean you think like one.
We talked to Mallen about the types of mindset shifts he advises every aspiring entrepreneur to make to discover and realize their potential—not just in business but in life. Having inspired hundreds of thousands of new entrepreneurs over the last 20 years through his companies, and personally mentoring many into phenomenal success stories, Mallen describes seven of what he calls, ‘entrepreneurshifts,’ that are essential to embrace in order to become the entrepreneur you’re meant to be.
Shift 1: Paycheck to Purpose
We need to shift from paycheck to purpose, according to Mallen, which means changing the mindset from ‘we’re doing this just because we’re making money,’ to ‘we’re doing this because of a higher purpose.’ He explains that most people are used to going to work every day—while mentally separating their ‘job’ from their ‘life’. But Mallen believes that as an entrepreneur, it’s all one thing. “When you’re working to pursue your purpose, there’s no such thing as a separation between job and life,” says Mallen. “Successful entrepreneurs shift from thinking about ‘what they do’ to focusing on ‘who they’re becoming’ and then ultimately ‘why they’re here.’ Chasing purpose instead of a paycheck will shift your lens from something you ‘have’ to do, to something you ‘get’ to do.”
Shift 2: Conformity to Creativity
In his TEDx Talk, Mallen introduces the idea of a proverbial ‘Script’ that prescribes the sequential steps (get good grades, attend a good college, get a good job, etc.) people need to follow in order to achieve success. This script evolved from the factory work script nearly a century ago that taught people to follow rules and conform. Mallen notes that most of the educational system, and even the corporate system, that still exist today were created in that system. “It’s why we’re taught growing up not to act out or get out of line, and to instead follow the rules, wait our turn, stay inside the box, etc. Entrepreneurs need to break from conformity and strive towards creativity. They need to make their own rules. My personal belief is that every human being was created to create, and that a key reason why so many people are unhappy or unfulfilled today is because they got stuck in a script without the freedom to create.”
Shift 3: Security to Opportunity
Seeking security and seeking opportunity are two very different things, according to Mallen. He explains that we’re taught most of our lives to seek security, which typically means getting a steady job working for somebody else. Two decades of business experience have taught him that security is more about one’s personal development, skills and leadership. “Successful entrepreneurs don’t have the traditional mindset that security means getting hourly wages for hourly work; they know that building brands and launching products might mean a lot of hard work and long hours with no money in the beginning,” he says. “But, they focus on the opportunity and work towards profit instead of wages. They know that investing in personal growth, skills and teams will not only eventually lead to income that equals time and effort, but over time creates exponential revenue growth.”
Shift 4: Acceptance to Desire
Mallen believes that most of us have been taught to chase approval from others. “We’re conditioned to measure our own value by other people’s opinions. It’s one of the reasons why social media is so addicting today because we measure our achievement or status by the number of likes, follows and comments.” He advises entrepreneurs to shift from seeking acceptance, to focusing on desire. “Your motivation has to come from within, not outside; what you perceive as your value has to shift from what other people think, to what you think of yourself. One of my favorite books is Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. In the first chapter, he talks about the importance of “burning desire.” I believe that finding that desire—your ‘Why’—is enough to move you forward, regardless of what anybody says. You’ll become a better entrepreneur, but also inevitably a happier person.”
Shift 5: Perfection to Progress
For Mallen, perfection can be the antithesis of progress. “We tell ourselves we need to know everything before we teach others. We think we need to master something perfectly before we take the next step,” he says. “For example, ‘once I lose the weight or have the time or become an expert, then I’ll do this and that.’ It’s an all-or-nothing approach. These are just lies we tell ourselves to make us feel better for not doing the work we know we need to do.” Mallen explains that taking a step forward, any step forward, is better than no step at all. The problem with perfection is that it conditions people to fixate on weakness.
“If we’re not as good as others in something, we feel we’re not good enough. Meanwhile, we forget our strengths, talents and strengths,” he says. “Successful entrepreneurs know they don’t have to be perfect at everything and find partners and teammates with strengths and skills that fill in the gaps. Shifting to a progress mindset means not trying to fix weaknesses and instead leveraging strengths. Progress means making lots of mistakes, which is awesome. The faster you do it wrong, the faster you learn.”
Shift 6: What can I get, to What can I give?
For Mallen, money is an energy, and the way energy works is that if you focus on giving more, you will receive more. Conversely, focusing on receiving more can mean never receiving what one is looking for. Success comes by shifting from ‘getting’ to ‘giving.’ “Think of giving as adding value to someone or something,” he says. “How can we add value to people? Teams? Others’ goals? Create more value and impact, and it’s impossible for that to not come back in return—and even tenfold.”
Shift 7: Where am I now… to where am I going?
Mallen would tell you that while entrepreneurs can appreciate the present; they focus on the future. “Great entrepreneurs focus on who they’re becoming and the life they’re going to have. They have a clear vision of who they want to be and the lifestyle they want. It’s not about today and their current situation—all that matters is where they’re going and their belief and confidence they’ll get there.” He adds: “Decide who you will be in a year from now and become that person today. Then don’t be afraid to say, “Here’s where I’m going; follow me.”
Entrepreneurshifts don’t happen overnight, Mallen notes, and they’ll take time, but once you are aware of the shifts to make, you can start working on them today. After all, the world deserves to meet the entrepreneur you’re meant to be.
To help more people become aware of these shifts, Mallen launched in 2020 during the pandemic crisis a podcast series, ALIVE by Design, created to wake people up to their purpose, passion and potential in order to shift from ‘being’ alive to ‘feeling’ truly alive. The chart-topping ALIVE by Design podcast is available on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Google Podcast.