Monthly Archives: March 2016

How to Add an Hour to a Day with Only One Small Change

“Most people spend 90% of their time on what they’re NOT best at and what they don’t like doing — and only 10% of their time on their best and most enjoyable ability. Geniuses delegate the 90%…and spend all their time on their ‘unique ability.’” – Kekich Credo #66

How to Add an Hour to a Day with Only One Small Change

By Neil Pasricha
I got my first office job in my early twenties.

For four months between school years in college I held the sexy job title of “summer intern” at a big consulting company in a downtown highrise. Casey was my boss and the head of the project I was assigned to for the summer, which was for one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies.

One Monday morning, I was sitting in his glass-windowed corner office with the rising sun beaming onto the desk between us. More than three months of late-night stress and working on weekends had finally rolled up to right now.

We were minutes away from our big presentation.

Casey’s sense of humor had carried me through all the challenges and Chinese take-out boxes leading up to today, but he had just asked me a last-minute question that made me snap. My nerves were frayed. I had no energy left.

“Why do we have an assumption in here instead of an actual figure?” he asked.

“Because Roger didn’t write back to my three emails asking him for the right number and he never gave us a number where we could call him. I tried his assistant twice and never heard back, either. It’s like he forgot we existed. You know that.”

Roger was the highly touted CEO of the oil and gas company who everybody looked up to. He was highlighted in flashy magazine articles and known as a people leader who espoused work-life balance while nonchalantly beating his numbers every year. Meanwhile, employees at the company told us he ate lunch in the company cafeteria, drove a beat-up truck to work, and had dinner with his kids every night.

The man was a legend.

After our introductory meeting three months back I wrote Roger an email summarizing our meeting and next steps. He didn’t write back. I then took my laptop home every night in case Roger emailed with an urgent question or request. I checked email every half an hour just in case the CEO of the company ever emailed late at night asking for a project update the next morning. Just so if he ever needed something, anything, I’d be there.

But…there was nothing. In three months of working for him he didn’t write me a single email. He didn’t write Casey any emails, either. We dropped a few questions along the way but never heard back. And I had just told Casey my messages to his assistant weren’t returned, either. Now suddenly it was time for our big presentation and Casey was questioning why I didn’t have certain numbers.

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I steadied my nerves as we stepped into the boardroom where Roger was sitting and chatting with our company president. He smiled and got up to shake our hands and thank us for the work we’ve done. “I’m so excited,” he said with a big grin. “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate how hard you’ve been working. You guys are geniuses. I’m going to learn so much from this chat.”

The anger I felt about his unresponsiveness suddenly melted. I felt like a million bucks.

We jumped into the presentation and had a great discussion. It was casual, engaging, and open. He loved it. And I couldn’t believe how relaxed everything felt. He was talking to us like old friends. After the meeting was done there was so much trust between us. So as we were packing up, I thought about it for a split second, and decided to ask him one last question.

I couldn’t help myself.

“Roger, thanks so much for today. We had trouble checking some numbers by you in advance. And I know we didn’t hear from you on the additional questions we had. So, just for my own learning, can I ask why you don’t write or respond to emails? How do you do that?”

His eyes opened a bit and he seemed surprised by the question. But he wasn’t fazed.

“Neil,” he said, “there’s a problem with email. After you send one the responsibility of it goes away from you and becomes the responsibility of the other person. It’s a hot potato. An email is work given to you by somebody else.”

I nodded, thinking about all the emails I got from Casey and co-workers.“I do read emails, but the ones looking for something are always much less urgent than they seem. When I don’t respond, one of two things happens:

  1. The person figures it out on their own, or

  2. They email me again because it really was important.

“Sure, I send one or two emails a day but they usually say, ‘Give me a call,’ or, ‘Let’s chat about this.’ Unless they’re from my wife. I answer all of those.”

I was very confused.

How was the CEO of a multibillion-dollar company with thousands of employees not emailing?

He paused to look at me and sensed I didn’t get it.

“You know what,” he continued. “Since I don’t write many emails, I don’t receive many either. I probably only get five or ten emails a day.”

Five emails a day? Here I was working at a consulting company writing emails morning, noon, and night. It was the same for everyone. “My inbox has seven hundred emails,” my coworkers would say and sigh. “I did emails all Sunday afternoon.” There was no way around it. After all, our bosses sent urgent emails at 7:00 a.m. Saturday, late Sunday afternoon, or 11:00 p.m. Friday. I knew this was common in my company and others. McKinsey had even reported that office workers spend on average 28% of their time answering email. Almost a third. And Baydin, one of the world’s largest email management services, says the average person gets 147 emails a day. We were all attached to our cell phones and computers, firing emails around, working hard to get everything done. It was part of the job. And we all wanted to do a good job.

Suddenly it started to click why Roger was known to come to have lunch in the cafeteria with employees every day and drive home for dinner with his family every night.

He didn’t respond to hot potatoes.

He didn’t write back to emails and create email chains.

I looked up at Roger again, and he continued.

“Most of the time Neil,” he continued, “people really do figure it out on their own. They realize they know the answer, they keep on moving, they develop confidence for next time. They become better themselves. Your assumptions in the slides today weren’t perfect, but they worked perfectly well and you learned by doing them. Don’t get me wrong. I sometimes walk over to chat with a person or pick up the phone. But if I wrote back to the email, I’d be sending a hot potato. And nobody wants to be asked by the CEO to do something…never mind on an evening or weekend. Why? Because people would drop everything to reply. And they would expect me to reply to that. Basically, if I sent an email, it would never end.

“So I end it.”

How to Protect Your Most Valuable Asset

You have only one brain. And it focuses on only one thing at one time.

Your brain is the most incredible and complex object in the universe. We have never seen anything like it. We barely understand it. We use it, but we don’t know how we use it. When we kick, we pull our leg back and swing it forward. When we think, we just think. As Cliff once said on Cheers, “Interesting little article here.

It says the average human being only uses 17 percent of his brain. Boy, you realize what that means? We don’t use a full, uh…64 percent.”

Your brain is capable of infinite possibilities: producing great works of art, building businesses, raising children. Brains made The Starry Night and the Great Wall of China. The Beatles and the Bible. Brains made planes, trains, and automobiles. Brains make your life what it is and die when you do. The good news is for no money down, no annual fees, and no monthly interest, you get one free copy of the universe’s most complex and powerful object. It’s yours for life! The only bad news is there is no warranty, it requires daily charging, and even the longest-lasting models in the world last only 40,000 days. (The average model lasts 25,000 days.)

Roger was the smartest guy at the company. No doubt about it. In the years since, he’s gone up and up and up. All while eating lunch in the cafeteria every day and dinner with his family every night. I had worked with Roger only three months when I learned how to add an hour to the day with only one small change.


Block access. Protect your brain. Guard it. Remove all entry points to your brain except a single one you can control. In addition to Roger’s approach to email, I learned later that he didn’t have a desk phone, personal email address, or any social media accounts. Fuel your brain and let it run wild by removing access points. Close the doors and lock the windows, but answer the bell.

What’s the bell? It’s your #1 top priority. What was Roger’s bell? Emails from the chairman of the board and his family. Not voicemail, not texts, not anything else. Have you ever shopped in a small town convenience store where they have a little bell on the front counter? They are busy stocking shelves. They are busy unpacking boxes. They are busy placing orders. But when you ring that bell they are right there, right away. That’s what it means to close the doors and lock the windows but answer the bell.

Let your brain produce great work, savor space, and power your biggest ideas, most passionate efforts, and greatest accomplishments.

Adapted from the book The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha.

About the Author: Neil Pasricha is the author of the blog He is a Harvard MBA, a Walmart executive, a New York Times–bestselling author, and a husband and father. His Book of Awesome series has sold more than one million copies and his 2010 TED talk remains one of the most popular of all time. His newest book, The Happiness Equation was released on March 8.


Tomorrow is not promised


Tomorrow is not promised

By Javis “Jay” Brunson @JavisJay

Have you ever found yourself putting off today for tomorrow?

If you answered “Yes”, then I ask you to think on this, “Tomorrow is not promised.

The songThe Cat’s in the Cradleis told in the first-person by a father who is too busy with work to spend time with his son. Each time the son asks him to join in childhood activities, the father issues vague promises of spending time together in the future. While disappointed, the son accepts his excuses and yearns to “be like you, Dad.” The first verse tells of his absence at his son’s birth and walking, as “there were planes to catch and bills to pay”; the second verse relates the father buying the son a baseball as a birthday present but likewise declining to play catch.

The final two verses reverse the roles. In the third verse, the son returns home from college and his father finally has some time to spend with him. Instead, the son just wants to go out and asks the father for the car keys. The fourth verse advances the story quite some time, when the father is long retired and his son has started his own family some distance away. The father makes a phone call to his son and invites him for a visit, but the son has his own issues with his job and his children are sick with “the flu.” He tells his father he will visit him if he “can find the time” and says “it’s been sure nice talking to you” before he says goodbye. The final two lines of the song reflect the father’s observation of what has happened:

“And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me, he’d grown up just like me.
My boy was just like me”

Tomorrow is not promised. Enjoy life today.

Spend Time with A+ People in Other Industries

Hunter Walk

Advice for folks in tech who are at the beginning or middle of building their careers: Focus on weak ties. Once you’ve got let’s say ~100 diverse relationships within the tech community you’re probably a single hop from most people you don’t already know. At that point I think what really benefits you – in terms of new ideas, expanding your perspective, and accessing new talent pools – is to spend time with extremely impressive folks in industries outside of pure tech, the 1% most talented people in their industry, not yours.

From my experience you’ll find that many of them are open to chatting because they’re happy to talk about what they do and want to learn more about technology. So the quid pro quo is that you go to their office, or set up a call, and say “hey, if you’ll give me 20 minutes to talk about what…

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Good CEOs Do Just 3 Things

To me, business isn’t about wearing suits or pleasing stockholders. It’s about being true to yourself, your ideas and focusing on the essentials.” — Sir Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Group

Good CEOs Do Just 3 Things

By Mitchell Harper

Fred Wilson’s now classic post What a CEO Does, argues that a CEO really only needs to do three things:

  1. Sets the overall vision and strategy of the company and communicates it to all stakeholders.
  2. Recruits, hires, and retains the very best talent for the company.
  3. Makes sure there is always enough cash in the bank.

At first glance, you might think this is an overly simplistic way to look at the role of a CEO in a fast growing company, but when you think about what you spend most of your time on, your activities probably boil down to one of these three things — or at least, they should.

From my experience building companies over the last 15 or so years, I want to share a few tips to get better at each of Fred’s three things. It’s important to keep in mind that like anything, the more you practice, the better you’ll get — especially if you’re a first-time CEO.

Setting the vision and strategy

  • Don’t assume everyone in your company knows what’s going on inside your head — they don’t, so you have to communicate your vision and strategy until your employees (not just your leadership team) are literally sick of hearing it and can recite it back to you.
  • When communicating your vision and strategy, don’t just talk about numbers and products. Tell your people why your vision and strategy are important to you, them, your customers and investors and show them how their role fits in.
  • You understand the market, the competition and the rate of change better than anyone in your business — that’s why you’re the CEO, so you need to keep that in mind and realize that while you live and breathe your business, not every single one of your employees will.
  • It’s best to have a regular cadence of all-hands meetings where you constantly discuss your vision, strategy and progress. This is especially important if you’re growing fast and/or hiring new people regularly — you want everyone in the company to be aligned and nothing does that better than hearing from you, their CEO.
  • Try your best not to flip-flop between strategies too often. It’s inevitable that the market will change and you’ll want to zig instead of zagging, but try to limit a complete change in strategy to no more than once a year. The bigger your company is, the harder it becomes to turn the ship to go in the direction of a new strategy, meaning additional cost, complexity and confusion for your employees.

Recruiting the best talent

  • It’s best to be actively involved in the recruiting process for roles you determine as critical. Whether that’s making the initial contact, jumping on a plane to meet a candidate, or conducting the final interview to sell her on your vision. Don’t delegate everything to your team. The best candidates are in high demand, and getting face time with you can be the deciding factor in where they go to work.
  • Plan your new hires at least two quarters out if possible. There’s lead time to find amazing people, regardless of whether you have a strong network or not.
  • The best people don’t take a new job because you have a great kitchen or a chef — they want to work in industry-defining companies with a big vision and huge potential upside where they can make an impact. Sell that possibility aggressively.
  • As Ben Horowitz mentions in his excellent book, The Hard Thing About Hard Things, try to find someone who will be good for the next 18 months of your company’s growth. In 18 months you’ll be a completely different company, so there’s no point thinking too far beyond that.
  • Focus on the person you’re hiring more than their resume. What makes them tick? What are they passionate about? Are they humble despite huge success in the past? What do they value and how do they handle tough situations? Skills can be taught, personalities cannot be changed.

Having enough cash

  • If you raise money, it should last at for at least 18 months of bad times. In other words, if everything went to hell in a hand basket, have enough cash for that scenario, not the perfect scenario where your sales grow 500% in the next year.
  • There’s a fine line between fast growth and spending too much money. You can grow fast while keeping your cash burn in check and it’s better to grow slightly less than having to fire half of your people because you’ve overspent and can’t raise another round of funding.
  • Most fast growing companies spend a lot of money on sales and marketing without first proving ROI. Instead, test multiple channels with small budgets and when you’ve found a strong ROI (ideally 3x or more), scale that channel aggressively.
  • If your goal is to build a big business that can be acquired or taken public down the track, focus your remuneration more on equity than cash, especially for executives — you want them to be aligned around creating future value which they can share in.
  • The earlier you can understand where you’re cash efficient and where you’re not, the sooner you can fix those leaky funnels and spend your cash more wisely.

Of course, there’s a lot more to building a fast growing company than just Fred’s three points and my tips for each, but hopefully you find them useful.

About the Author: Mitch is a 5x founder and his companies have generated over $200M in sales. At he teaches startup founders how to scale their companies faster by covering topics like productivity, hiring, marketing and raising capital. Follow him on Twitter @mitchellharper.

A Guide to Postmortem Parenting

A Guide to Postmortem Parenting
by Will Bonner

If you want to use your money to hold influence over your children’s lives after yours has
ended, then this essay might be of interest…
Maurice Laboz, a Manhattan real estate mogul,
died recently, leaving $20 million to his two
His will is an interesting case study in
postmortem parenting…
The girls — Marlena, 21; and Victoria, 17 —
will inherit $10 million each when they turn 35.
But they can get some of that money sooner if
they meet certain conditions set by their departed
Here are the terms according to the New York Post:
• Marlena will get $500,000 for tying the knot,
but only if her husband signs a sworn statement
promising to keep his hands off the cash.
• She nets another $750,000 if she graduates
“from an accredited university” and writes
“100 words or less describing what she intends
to do with the funds” — with the trustees
appointed by her dad to oversee her money
responsible for approving her essay.
• Both daughters get a big incentive to earn
decent salaries by 2020. Each young woman
is guaranteed to receive an annual payout of
three times the income listed on their personal
federal tax return. In a not-so-subtle nod
to the taxman, their checks will be cut every
April 15.
• If the daughters have kids and don’t work
outside the house, the trustees will give them
each 3 percent of the value of their trust
every Jan. 1. There’s one catch: The money
flows only for a “child born in wedlock.”
• The sisters could earn the same amount being
“a caregiver” to their mother, Ewa Laboz,
58, whom their father was in the middle of
divorcing. She got nothing in the will and
has indicated that she will contest it.
On the face of it, these conditions are perfectly
reasonable. And it seems that the girls will get
their $10 million when they turn 35, whether they
comply with these terms or not.
But the marriage and college graduation
incentives apply only to the older daughter,
Marlena. It seems the younger daughter’s marriage
and college education are not subject to the same
terms, meaning she is not in line for these specific
monetary rewards.
Perceived inequality, even regarding some
minor thing, is big trouble when it comes to
inheritance issues.
But successful, type-A wealth creators are used
to getting their way. In death, as in life, they won’t
hesitate to punish the people, including family
members, who they feel wronged them and reward
their favorites…
Maurice Laboz did not offer equal incentives
to both girls.
Didn’t he want the same positive outcome
for both his daughters? Did he favor one girl
over the other? Or did one of them need more
encouragement than the other? The girls will
probably be asking those questions their entire lives.

to be continued

How to Hire — and Fire — the Right Way

“A company should limit its growth based on its ability to attract enough of the right people.”  — Jim Collins

How to Hire — and Fire — the Right Way

By Greg McKeown 

Alot of start-ups hire fast and fire slow. A bias for speed combined with the pressure for high growth drives many leaders to be quick to hire (“We need to fill this role now!”) but slow to remove under-performing employees because they’re busy and would rather put off the awkward, hard conversations. It can lead to what Guy Kawasaki, when he was still at Apple, called “the bozo explosion.”

This dynamic led one Silicon Valley company through a season of undisciplined growth leading up to a massive lay-off. It was the organizational equivalent of open heart surgery: instead of having the daily discipline required to maintain a lean and entrepreneurial team, leaders waited until the organizational arteries were blocked and major systems were failing before putting the whole company into trauma through massive, corrective surgery.

Contrast that behavior with that of a 700-person company with more than a billion dollars of annual revenue. That’s a staggering 1.4 million dollars of revenue per employee — a ratio that has been achieved carefully, by design.

I recently worked with the CEO and her top 35 executives. They want to scale while maintaining their lean and entrepreneurial edge. As I introduced the idea of “hire slow, fire fast,” I thought it might seem a bit provocative. But no sooner had I mentioned the idea, than the CEO interrupted enthusiastically. She said, “We have had that idea for a decade!” She pointed to one of the other leaders in the room and said he had learned it from his father, who had run a thriving company through the Great Depression. The principle has been key to the company’s success.

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In a time of massive youth unemployment around the world, the principle of “hire slow, fire fast” may seem insensitive. However, for three reasons I would argue this approach is more compassionate than the alternatives.

First, it doesn’t serve the world to create bloated, bureaucratic companies that will slowly die. We need healthy, growing companies capable of sticking around for the long run.

Second, it isn’t compassionate to keep one person — but make their whole team struggle as a result. We need teams in which everyone can trust each other to do a great job. If “hire slow, fire fast” sounds harsh or mercurial, consider how harsh it is to allow a whole team to be held hostage by someone who should not have been hired in the first place. And while we’re on the subject, lacking courage is not the same as having compassion.

Third, trying to force someone to be something they are not is neither sustainable nor humane. It doesn’t serve people to keep them in the wrong role, giving them the same negative feedback week after week, month after month, year after year. Their one wild and precious life, to use Mary Oliver’s term, is worth more than that. Of course, if the right role can be found within the company it should be. But when someone is truly a bad fit, reassigning them is not the answer. This just moves the problem to a different part of the building.

To “hire slow, fire fast,” start by being absurdly selective in who you hire. Mark Adams, the Managing Director at Vitsoe, the worldwide licensee of Dieter Ram’s furniture collection, approaches hiring with incredible selectivity. What he wants to discover is who is a natural fit. In addition to multiple interviews, he and his team have prospective employees come and work with them for a day. No commitment has been made on either side; it’s just a chance for each side to see each other as naturally as possible.

For instance, recently they had a prospective employee help with a shelf installation. He knew how to do the job. But at the end of the day, he threw his tools into a box instead of carefully putting them away. When they shared the experience with the CEO, everyone agreed this was clearly a reason not to make the hire.

That might strike you as so pedantic you’d rather not work for such a company: but that is the point. Your criteria for selection should be so extreme many people would rather not work for you. You’re trying to attract the right select few, not the masses. Mark believes it is better to be shorthanded than to hire the wrong person.

To make this approach work, you also have to fire humanely. This may seem like a contradiction in terms, but by “firing” I don’t mean the traditional, disgusting practice of marching people to the door in humiliation. It doesn’t mean taking people we have worked with and suddenly throwing them out as if they are criminals. We can do this in a humane way.

When one leader in Silicon Valley realized she had made a hiring mistake, she could have tried to hide her error and tried to force the fit through endless rounds of feedback and a painful performance improvement plan. But that’s difficult in a case like this, where the problem is a basic personality clash: the employee was simply more aggressive than the company culture and it felt abrasive to everyone on the team. So instead, after just two weeks of seeing the effect the new hire was having on her team, she took her aside and said, “I don’t think this is a great cultural fit for us. Let’s not try to force this. You are talented and capable but this just isn’t the right fit.” It went so well the whole team, including the person who’d just been fired, went out together for drinks that night. The company then provided career coaching for free to help her find a better fit elsewhere.

If we “hire slow, fire fast” we can increase what Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, has called the “talent density” of our organizations. It is not easy. It takes having hard conversations. It takes leadership. Still, if we can do it then, ultimately, people, teams and organizations win.

About the Author: Greg McKeown speaks on living and leading as an Essentialist. In this pursuit Greg: Writes a blog for Harvard Business Review. Serves as a Young Global Leader for the World Economic Forum where he has been both moderator and panel member. Designed a prototype class at the d.School at Stanford called, “Designing Your Life, Essentially.” You can read Greg’s latest book published, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.

You’ll Never Get New Customers If You Don’t Target New Markets


You’ll Never Get New Customers If You Don’t Target New Markets

By Martin Zwilling @StartupPro


Many entrepreneurs assume that everyone will love their solution as much as they do, so they tune their marketing focus based on their own needs and wants. That’s the right place to start, but real growth and scale requires attracting customers who are not like you. Expanding your market into these areas requires thinking outside your personal box.

For example, Starbucks found initial success with professionals aged 25 to 40 in urban areas and with moderately high income but later looked to a new market of millennials who wanted a place to sit and chat, study or work. More dramatically, both Facebook and YouTube started out focusing on people dating but expanded their focus when they found dating was giving them limited growth.

To make the step outside your target market, here are some key initiatives I recommend for every company seeking new sources of growth.

1. Update your technology to reach new customer segments.

Today’s customers want to be mobile and location sensitive. Make sure you website is mobile-friendly, totally user-friendly, includes a blog and provides for customers review and feedback. Include mobile-app support and new social-media channels. Word-of-mouth is an inadequate strategy.

2. Incorporate social consciousness into your message.

Make sure your marketing focus incorporates the greater good of society and culture sensitivities. Make your offering part of improving customer lifestyle rather than just solving a problem. Do the same for your employees to get a new level of commitment, creativity and loyalty.

3. Immerse yourself in customer domains you are missing today.

Talk to industry advisors and industry experts to identify customer sets you are not getting. Use social media and personal discussions to isolate their interests and needs. Identify your built-in biases and define compensating development and marketing strategies.

4. Extend your solution features to meet new interests.

It may be small feature extensions, packaging and distribution that can make your solutions attractive and more competitive for new market segments. Pay particular attention to customer values and wants as well as needs. This step validates the efforts to reach out to new customers.

5. Overhaul the buying and service experience.

New customers are looking for the best buying and support experience as well as the best product. They are looking for online reviews and social-media recommendations from their friends. They are also looking for employees who are motivated and empowered to go the extra mile to build unforgettable experiences.

6. Test drive marketing programs outside of your comfort zone.

I’m talking about highly targeted efforts on specific demographics with pre-defined metrics, not the “spray and pray” — spray your message broadly and hope it sticks somewhere — approach. This “narrowcasting” approach allows you to penetrate and understand a new audience.

7. Fortify your online brand reputation.

Proactively increase interactive communication to your core market to reduce negative comments and reviews. Protecting a brand reputation requires more positive reviews earlier to offset the occasional negative one. Responding to all feedback from reviews is required online and all social-media channels.

Like Starbucks, an obvious place to explore is generational segments outside your core focus. You personally can’t be experienced in all five of the core segments – matures, boomers, gen-X (40s), millennials (20s), gen-Z (tween). Each has different interests, spending habits and priorities. After you have mastered the first one, broaden carefully.

I recognize that the conventional wisdom you hear from business advisors and investors is focus, focus, focus on a targeted market segment. While I agree this strategy is key to getting your startup funded and off the ground, when you see sales starting to plateau, it’s time to pivot from that strategy per the initiatives outlined here. Change is the only constant in businesses that survive and prosper.

My #1 Fat Burning Dressing

My #1 Fat Burning Dressing

By Chef Gui Alinat

The following question came to me from a reader who read my article on homemade salad dressings.

“Your recipe doesn’t follow your 1 part acid + 3 parts fat formula. In fact, it seems like just the opposite. Why?”

In my article, I give my readers a 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil ratio for a really tasty salad dressing. It’s a good formula to get started if you’re interested in getting rid of store-bought salad dressing, and making your own. So that you can control exactly what goes into your body, and short-circuit nightmare ingredients that leads to weight gain (like high-fructose corn syrup or cane sugar for instance).

I also talk about other aromatics you could add to make a salad dressing your own. That’s part of my Eat More, Burn More philosophy: empowering home cooks to create dishes like chefs do.

My salad dressings vary from day to day as I make them up while respecting the 1:3 ratio. But sometimes, I take the liberty to change that ratio, depending on my tastes, or what I’m trying to achieve.

How to Remove the Financial Industry’s Horse Blinders

Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.” — Albert Einstein

How to Remove the Financial Industry’s Horse Blinders

By Mark Ford

I am not an investment professional. I have never made any money managing other people’s money. I went from rags to riches the old-fashioned way: by working hard and then investing my income as carefully as I could.

Because I’d done well on my own, I never considered seeking financial advice. Then a funny thing happened. I woke up one day with the thought that I should have a “professional” manage some of my money.

I interviewed two firms. One was a boutique business based in New York City that a friend recommended. The other was a private banking facility for one of the world’s largest brokerages.

The boutique firm was happy to take $100,000 of my money to get started. The other company wanted a minimum of $10 million. They both had fancy offices and pretty marketing brochures. But such frills scare me. They make me think, “Gee, these guys must be charging their customers a lot to afford all this stuff.”

My trepidations notwithstanding, I worked with both of them for about six months. I answered their questions about my tolerance for risk (little to none). I listened to their presentations. And then I did something that I bet few of their clients ever do.

I started asking them questions. And I kept pushing them to explain why I should believe that they could help me become wealthier.

What I got instead was clever circumlocution. A financially sophisticated version of what you’d expect from your teenage son if you pestered him about why he didn’t come home until four in the morning.

Those discussions convinced me that these guys could not manage my money better than I had been managing it.

To be fair, they certainly knew more about investment products than I did. But they didn’t know more about how to become wealthy.

These guys were smart. They had graduate degrees from great schools. They spoke eloquently. They seemed so… so… inside the game. I wanted them to be better than me. I really did.

But they really didn’t seem to care whether their services would make me richer or poorer. The contracts they wanted me to sign were going to put money in their pockets regardless. That didn’t feel right.

In the end, I told both of my elite financial planners to take a hike. And I went back to managing my money myself.

Seeing Only 20% of the Big Picture

The investment advisory industry is a huge, multibillion-dollar business based on hard work, clever thinking and sophisticated algorithms. But also on one teensy-weensy lie.

The lie is that you can grow wealthy investing in stocks and bonds.

It’s not a big, black lie. But the unfortunate truth is the financial establishment rarely looks beyond stocks and bonds. And if you think about it, why would it want to? It makes its money by ushering you from one “hot” stock or “amazing” fund to the next.

Wall Street wants you to think the stock (and sometimes the bond) markets are the only places you can make money. And because they know that you have heard that “diversification of assets” is good, they give you the illusion of diversification by having your stock portfolio invested in businesses that are “diversified” into manufacturing, retail, global trade, natural resources, etc.

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Plus, how to get free access to Mark Ford’s newsletter Creating Wealth


This is, as I said, an illusion. At the end of the day, it’s all invested in stocks or stock derivatives. The result? More risk and less potential wealth gain for you.

So start by deconstructing the little lie.

Building wealth involves much more than just investing in stocks and bonds. Most rich people get that way by consistently doing the following nine things:

  1. Giving top priority to increasing their net investible income, not to maximizing returns

  2. Spending less as a percentage of net income as it grows so they can save more

  3. Understanding debt and using it occasionally and strategically to build wealth

  4. Investing in stocks and bonds with discipline — i.e., without expecting to get returns that are much higher than market averages

  5. Insuring themselves against “black swan” events, but not investing with the hope of profiting from them

  6. Owning tangible, portable and non-reportable assets as a reserve that can be tapped into at opportune moments

  7. Investing in safe real estate — i.e., income-producing properties

  8. Investing directly in private enterprises and other “outside Wall Street” opportunities

  9. Keeping a substantial store of cash to be used when “cash becomes king.”

As you can see, investing in stocks and bonds is only one of nine strategies you must follow to become rich, but that was the only one the two money management firms I tried cared about.

How to Ensure Financial Growth and Security

So if you can’t reasonably expect to get rich with just stocks and bonds, what can you do?

You can model your investing behavior on the behaviors that have been proven, time and time again, to actually work.

I’m talking about asset allocation.

Asset allocation is the process by which you spread your wealth across different sorts of investments.

You might think that something so dull as asset allocation could not possibly be that important in acquiring wealth, but numerous studies have shown that it may be the most important factor. (These studies can be found here.)

Because of an early financial disaster, I became an emotionally compulsive diversifier of practically every dollar I could save, putting some of it in bonds, some in stocks, some in cash, some in real estate and so on.

Over the years, I have made hundreds of individual financial decisions — buy this, sell that. Some of them were quite good, a few of them were quite bad, and most of them were in between. And yet, overall, my net worth has increased considerably and consistently, without any down years, for more than 30 years.

I could see very clearly that particular buy/sell decisions did not account for this good fortune. It was the general decisions about asset allocation that paid off.

Since I discovered this, I have been telling my readers about my own asset allocation decisions every year. Not because I think my portfolio is the best possible exemplum of diversification, but just to illustrate my belief that one needs to go well beyond some combination of stocks, bonds and cash to win at the wealth-building game.

Editor’s Note: As you may already know, Mark Ford was the creator of Early to Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes his Creating Wealth newsletter.

For the last six months, Mark’s been working on a special project only a few of his employees know about. It’s the culmination of his 35 years of experience in building wealth for himself and his protégés. And he’s about to reveal it to select readers…

He’ll show you exactly what you need to do to create more wealth. You’ll learn every detail, shortcut, and “loophole” he’s discovered. And you won’t have to quit your job, go into debt, or take any crazy risks. Mark’s even discovered a way you can make an extra $20,000 to $100,000 this year…

Click here to add your name to the “preview” list. You’ll also get exclusive wealth-building content — 100% FREE.

5 Life Lessons That Made Me a Better Entrepreneur


5 Life Lessons That Made Me a Better Entrepreneur

by Valerie Svenningsen @comforcare – ComForcare Certified Senior Advisor 

Throughout the years, I’ve gathered countless tidbits of advice from my parents, friends, colleagues and mentors. As I’ve learned about trust, responsibility and happiness, I’ve realized that these lessons extend well beyond my personal life. Today, I often find myself using professional advice as a way to confront a personal issue I might run into, or looking to personal philosophies to help solve an obstacle in the office.

Here are five lessons that can be applied both in life and in business that I find myself using regularly:

  1. Establish and maintain trust. Without trust, there is simply no foundation to move forward in a relationship, whether it is professional or personal. For a business owner especially, I find that it’s crucial to gain the trust of my clients in order to create and maintain a loyal clientele. Especially in the case of owning an at-home senior care service business, such as ComForcare Senior Services, my clients need to be able to trust that their caregiver is providing them with the most personalized attention and care they can experience in the field.
  2. Listen. Take the time to fully listen to what people are saying to you. We may have great ideas and advice of our own to give, but I assure you that if you truly listen when someone is speaking to you, you are bound to get so much more out of the conversation.

You will get a better understanding of where they are coming from and the things that they value most. It takes more than one person to have a constructive discussion of thoughts and ideas, so try to resist the urge of speak outside of your turn.

  1. Accept liability. No one wants to be associated with an individual who never takes responsibility for his or her actions. Everyone should pull their own weight, own up to their mistakes, and learn how to grow from them. At work, the more responsibility that you take on, the more respect you will earn from your cohorts. In order to create successful and lasting professional and personal relationships, it is crucial to hold yourself accountable your actions and those around you will treat you with more respect because of it.
  2. You have to give to get.It’s a simple saying, but remains true across every medium in my life. Whether it’s interacting with my colleagues or spending quality time with family and friends, I feel that it is my obligation to give them my upmost attention and care in order to be able to anticipate the same kind of reverence in return.
  3. Live each day doing something that makes you happy.I know we hear this piece of advice often, but many of us don’t follow it and we’re only hurting ourselves in the long run. If we do what we love, it will show in our work and we will be happier and more thoughtful people because of it. Even if it forces you to leave your comfort zone, get out there and put your full heart into newfound hobbies, work projects and campaigns. I promise that you will be a happier individual and your good vibes will rub off on everyone you encounter.

So, the next time you gain some great words of wisdom, think about the ways it can help you in both your life and at the office. You’d be surprise how many things you learn that can guide you in every aspect of your life.