Monthly Archives: August 2016

Always Stay a Student

Every man I meet is my master in some point, and in that I learn of him.”  — Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Maxim for Every Successful Person; ‘Always Stay a Student’

By Ryan Holiday
The legend of Genghis Khan has echoed throughout history: A barbarian conqueror, fueled by bloodlust, terrorizing the civilized world. We have him and his Mongol horde traveling across Asia and Europe, insatiable, stopping at nothing to plunder, rape, and kill not just the people who stood in their way, but the cultures they had built. Then, not unlike his nomadic band of warriors, this terrible cloud simply disappeared from history, because the Mongols built nothing that could last.

Like all reactionary, emotional assessments, this could not be more wrong. For not only was Genghis Khan one of the greatest military minds who ever lived, he was a perpetual student, whose stunning victories were often the result of his ability to absorb the best technologies, practices, and innovations of each new culture his empire touched.

In fact, if there is one theme in his reign and in the several centuries of dynastic rule that followed, it’s this: appropriation.

Under Genghis Khan’s direction, the Mongols were as ruthless about stealing and absorbing the best of each culture they encountered as they were about conquest itself. Though there were essentially no technological inventions, no beautiful buildings or even great Mongol art, with each battle and enemy, their culture learned and absorbed something new.

Genghis Khan was not born a genius. Instead, as one biogra­pher put it, his was “a persistent cycle of pragmatic learning, experimental adaptation, and constant revision driven by his uniquely disciplined and focused will.” He was the greatest conqueror the world ever knew because he was more open to learning than any other conqueror has ever been.

Khan’s first powerful victories came from the reorganization of his military units, splitting his soldiers into groups of ten. This he stole from neighboring Turkic tribes, and unknowingly converted the Mongols to the decimal system.

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Soon enough, their expanding empire brought them into contact with another “technology” they’d never experienced before: walled cities. In the Tangut raids, Khan first learned the ins and outs of war against fortified cities and the strategies critical to laying siege, and quickly became an expert. Later, with help from Chinese engineers, he taught his soldiers how to build siege machines that could knock down city walls. In his campaigns against the Jurchen, Khan learned the importance of winning hearts and minds. By working with the scholars and royal family of the lands he conquered, Khan was able to hold on to and man­age these territories in ways that most empires could not.

Afterward, in every country or city he held, Khan would call for the smartest astrologers, scribes, doctors, thinkers, and advisers — anyone who could aid his troops and their efforts. His troops traveled with interrogators and translators for precisely this purpose.

It was a habit that would survive his death. While the Mongols themselves seemed dedicated almost solely to the art of war, they put to good use every craftsman, merchant, scholar, entertainer, cook, and skilled worker they came in contact with. The Mongol Empire was remarkable for its reli­gious freedoms, and most of all, for its love of ideas and con­vergence of cultures. It brought lemons to China for the first time, and Chinese noodles to the West. It spread Persian carpets, German mining technology, French metalworking, and Islam. The cannon, which revolutionized warfare, was said to be the resulting fusion of Chinese gunpowder, Mus­lim flamethrowers, and European metalwork. It was Mongol openness to learning and new ideas that brought them together.

As we first succeed, we will find ourselves in new situations, facing new problems. The freshly promoted soldier must learn the art of politics. The salesman, how to manage. The founder, how to delegate. The writer, how to edit others. The comedian, how to act. The chef turned restaurateur, how to run the other side of the house.

This is not a harmless conceit. The physicist John Wheeler, the physicist who helped develop the hydrogen bomb, once observed that “As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance.” In other words, each victory and advancement that made Khan smarter also bumped him against new situations he’d never encountered before. It takes a special kind of humility to grasp that you know less, even as you know and grasp more and more. It’s remembering Socrates’ wisdom lay in the fact that he knew that he knew next to nothing.

With accomplishment comes a growing pressure to pre­tend that we know more than we do. To pretend we already know everything. Scientia infla (knowledge puffs up). That’s the worry and the risk — thinking that we’re set and secure, when in reality understanding and mastery is a fluid, con­tinual process.

The nine­-time Grammy– and Pulitzer Prize–winning jazz musician Wynton Marsalis once advised a promising young musician on the mind­set required in the lifelong study of music: “Humility engenders learning because it beats back the arrogance that puts blinders on. It leaves you open for truths to reveal themselves. You don’t stand in your own way. . . . Do you know how you can tell when someone is truly humble? I believe there’s one simple test: because they consistently observe and listen, the humble improve. They don’t assume, ‘I know the way.’” No matter what you’ve done up to this point, you better still be a student. If you’re not still learning, you’re already dying.

It is not enough only to be a student at the beginning. It is a position that one has to assume for life. Learn from everyone and everything. From the people you beat, and the people who beat you, from the people you dislike, even from your supposed enemies. At every step and every juncture in life, there is the opportunity to learn — and even if the lesson is purely remedial, we must not let ego block us from hearing it again.

It’s something I’ve had to learn as an author, personally. Just because one book does well, doesn’t mean that the next one will. It certainly doesn’t mean that everything that I’ll write is good or that I know everything there is to know about this profession either. Thinking that way is a recipe for falling off and disappointing both publishers and audiences. A better attitude is to start from scratch with each project — to focus on all there is left to learn and all the room we have left to improve. That’s what I’ve tried to do with each subsequent project, including this most recent one (appropriately about ego).

Too often, convinced of our own intelligence or success, we stay in a comfort zone that ensures that we never feel stupid (and are never challenged to learn or reconsider what we know). It obscures from view various weaknesses in our understanding until eventually, it’s too late to change course. This is where the silent toll is taken.

Each of us faces a threat as we pursue our craft. Like sirens on the rocks, ego sings a soothing, validating song — which can lead to a wreck. The second we let the ego tell us we have graduated, learning grinds to a halt. That’s why UFC champion and MMA pioneer Frank Shamrock said, “Always stay a student.” As in, it never ends.

The solution is as straightforward as it is initially uncom­fortable: Pick up a book on a topic you know next to noth­ing about. Put yourself in rooms where you’re the least knowledgeable person. That uncomfortable feeling, that defensiveness that you feel when your most deeply held assumptions are challenged — what about subjecting your­self to it deliberately? Change your mind. Change your sur­roundings.

An amateur is defensive. The professional finds learning (and even, occasionally, being shown up) to be enjoyable; they like being challenged and humbled and engage in education as an ongoing and endless process.

Most military cultures — and people in general — seek to impose values and control over what they encounter. What made the Mongols different was their ability to weigh each situation objectively, and if need be, swap out previous prac­tices for new ones. All great businesses start this way, but then something happens. Take the theory of disruption, which posits that at some point in time, every industry will be dis­rupted by some trend or innovation that, despite all the resources in the world, the incumbent interests will be incapable of responding to. Why is this? Why can’t businesses change and adapt? A large part of it is because they lost the ability to learn. They stopped being students. The second this happens to you, your knowledge becomes fragile.

The great manager and business thinker Peter Drucker says that it’s not enough simply to want to learn. As people progress, they must also understand how they learn and then set up processes to facilitate this continual education.

Oth­erwise, we are selling ourselves — and our careers — dreadfully short.

This piece is adapted from Ryan Holiday’s book Ego is the Enemy, published by Penguin Portfolio

About the Author: Ryan Holiday is the best-selling author of Ego is the Enemy and three other books. He is an editor-at-large for the Observer, and his monthly reading recommendations which go out to 50,000+ subscribers are found here. He currently lives in Austin, Texas.

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The Surprising Things That Make You Sexier, According to Science

Sacha Strebe

Mistakes

People don’t care how much you know — until they know how much you care.” — John C. Maxwell

The Dumbest Mistake That Smart People Make

By Michael Simmons

It was a little past 1:00 a.m, and I sat alone at the dining room table. If only I had listened to my tired body and gone to sleep, I might have saved a friendship and a business partnership.

Instead, I pushed through and gave overly harsh feedback on a letter. It took me only a few minutes to send my feedback, but it damaged that relationship forever. The person never came back to me for feedback, and it contributed to a negative spiral in the relationship that ultimately failed.

That’s when I learned the stakes of giving bad feedback. As leaders, parents, and friends, if we chronically give bad feedback we destroy relationships, make other people feel stupid, and stunt their growth.

Giving feedback incorrectly is one of the worst mistakes smart people are particularly prone to make. Experts tend to…

  • overestimate their expertise and give feedback in areas where they don’t have expertise;
  • feel compelled to give feedback as a result of their expertise;
  • be condescending as a result of thinking something is obvious to others when it isn’t; and
  • be too general as a result of forgetting the little insights that make up ideas.

These disadvantages are collectively known as the curse of knowledge.

I interviewed 10 world-class leaders (including the founder of two television networks, a former Fortune 500 CEO, and similarly successful entrepreneurs) to get their perspective on how to give feedback in the best way. In the few minutes it takes to read this article, you’ll have a whole new toolkit, which will immediately improve how you give feedback to others.

1. Help employees think like owners

Jason Duff, founder and CEO of COMSTOR Outdoor

I think the best way for a CEO to give feedback is by letting his or her employees experience what it’s like to be an owner.

I used to want to shield my team from the hard parts of what I do. The unintended result was employees who made poor decisions and developed beliefs that everything is easier than it actually is.

To inspire an ownership mindset, I follow two practices that work really well:

Job shadowing. I’m a big believer in the idea that you can’t really understand someone’s perspective until you walk a mile in their shoes. I shadow my employees, and they shadow me as well as each other. This helps us understand each other, but also be nimble and step in when necessary.

Open-book accounting. We recently moved our business to open book accounting, which means we share all of our financial numbers with our employees. This was a very difficult decision for me but I’ve been impressed with the outcome so far. Misconceptions about the money that I was, or was not making, have been completely put on the table. Many of my employees had a lot of sympathy with some of the financial goals, challenges, and tax consequences that the company was facing. They offered great ideas and suggestions about their roles and their compensations to help the company be more successful. I highly recommend The Great Game of Business to learn about the power of open book accounting and how to implement it in your company.

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2. Put on your welcome face

Ryan Simonetti, co-founder of Convene

I have one core belief, based on research in Drive, that structures how I give feedback: People are intrinsically motivated to do a great job. They don’t intentionally do bad work.

Most people I know take a tremendous amount of pride in their work and have an emotionally vested interest in both their success and that of their company.

What this means is that my job isn’t to reprimand or judge people. My true job is to empower them. Given that most communication is nonverbal, the most important thing I can do is to be in the right state of mind before I give feedback. I call this putting on a ‘welcome face’. To me this signifies “I’m open, compassionate, and excited to listen.” If I can’t immediately get myself to be authentically in that state, I will sleep on it.

Finally, I lead feedback discussions with an open-ended question like, “What is it about this project that you’re especially proud of?” My goal is to put myself in the other person’s shoes before I make judgments.

3. Follow the NORMS of objectivity

Rohit Anabheri, founder of Circa Ventures

I use what I call the “NORMS approach” to keep the feedback objective rather than subjective. Here’s how it works:

Not an interpretation. Describe the behavior, don’t interpret why someone did something.

Observable. Focus on specific behavior or outcomes that are seen or heard.

Reliable. Two or more people independently agree on what they observed.

Measurable. Use facts to describe the behavior or result rather than superlatives like ‘all the time’ or ‘always’.

Specific. Based on a detailed description of the event (e.g., who was involved, where and when it happened, and what was the context and sequence of events).

As a result of going through this process, “John is always late,” turns into, “John was late for the leadership meeting three times last week.” This helps avoid emotions and exaggerations, as well as the disagreements that come when someone naturally tries to defend their behavior.

4. Put on your coaching hat

Benji Rabhan, founder & CEO of Apollo Scheduling

When I’m about to give feedback, I put on my coach hat. Here’s what I do:

Strike while the iron is cold. To be effective, I must wait until I have emotionally separated myself from the equation. This way, I can proceed calmly and collectively, so as to not engage the employee’s fight or flight reflex.

Ask for permission. Once we sit down together, I say, “I’m going to wear the coaching hat as we talk about the project. Is that okay?” With their agreement, I explain, “There’s been something I’ve been trying to figure out, and I need your help. I am betting there is something I did not tell you, or there is a difference between our past experiences in this area. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions to see if we can figure out what I’m missing?” Doing this sets the context of the discussion as mutual improvement and prevents defensiveness.

Challenge assumptions with open-ended questions. I ask questions to help me understand their process for creating the work. Rather than ask, “Did you know that you did this wrong?” I’ll say, “Tell me about how you went about this assignment.” As they’re sharing, I’ll ask follow-up questions such as “What was the thought process of why you did it that way?” I keep going until I run out of questions. Open-ended questions help me discover what went wrong on the assignment, and how to correct the missteps. They also help the employee see the gaps in their own logic without me even having to say anything. And sometimes, I realize that I’m the one with the gap or that we both are.

In the end, I believe the key to making the process work is a sincere curiosity and desire to:

  • Understand what you personally could do better.
  • Get to the root of the problem.
  • Help the other person solve their own challenges in a peaceful way.

I recommend the book, Nonviolent Communication. It details great processes for having difficult conversations without sparking negativity.

5. Forget motivation. Stop demotivating.

Sevetri Wilson, CEO of Solid Ground Innovations

I am a very “straight to the point” person, and I’ve learned the hard way that this can really hurt morale.

Constant criticism, without an environment that praises great work, leads to employees becoming demotivated because they feel like they can never be ‘good enough.’ In a study that surveyed 1.2 million employees at primarily Fortune 1000 companies, they found that employees often don’t need motivation. It is constant critique without recognition that causes them to be demotivated.

When I give constructive criticism, I always emphasize that I believe in the person and their work. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have hired them. I make it a point to let my team members know that I’m fully aware of their capabilities, and I won’t accept anything less. I try to transform the conversation’s energy into something constructive by reminding them of what I loved about their other more successful projects and work. Whether that’s creativity, attention to detail, or content, it’s important to get people to dig deep down and pull out the work that made me hire them in the first place.

6. Give the conversation over to the employee

Brian Scudamore, founder and CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, You Move Me, and Wow 1 Day Painting

My approach is to turn the conversation over to employees to lead – and hopefully – resolve.

I start by asking “How do you feel about your work?” or “Is this your best?”

Then my role becomes, “How can I help you?”

This leads to more employee ownership over problems and solutions. By taking myself out of the equation, I avoid negative feelings, but more importantly I believe the team grows and becomes capable of solving even greater challenges on their own.

Ultimately, this has led to a culture where our team looks forward to getting negative feedback because they know they will benefit from it. This mirrors the approach taken by Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, who proactively seeks out and listens to negative feedback.

7. Be tough-minded on standards and tender-hearted with people

Doug Conant, former CEO of Fortune 500 company Campbell Soup Company and founder and CEO of Conant Leadership

When I give feedback, I often start with the four magic words of leadership, “How can I help?” Next, I ask additional questions to get to the root challenge. For example, “What can we do better?”

By asking these questions with sincerity, commitment, and a desire to help, leaders can be tough-minded on standards and tender-hearted with people. Most people unnecessarily sacrifice one for the other, but it is imperative that leaders incorporate both in a meaningful way, if they hope to achieve sustainable high performance.

The power of this approach is that it:

Sets the purpose of the conversation as solving the problem, not attacking the person.

Positions myself as a resource rather than a combatant.

Empowers the person to productively work through the issue.

8. Sandwich your feedback and spread it out

Cameron Herold, author of Double Double, CEO coach, and globally renowned speaker

I “sandwich” the constructive criticism inside the good stuff and spread it out throughout the day:

1. Tell them what they’re doing well.

2. Tell them what specifically needs to improve.

3. Tell them something else they’re doing well.

I learned this 30 years ago in the One Minute Manager, and it still holds up today. It’s also a great way to raise kids too – and I have four. Here’s why it works:

It is crucial to give MORE positive feedback than negative feedback. According to one study, top performing teams give each other more than five positive comments for every negative one.

It is crucial to give feedback immediately. Stanford University researcher on behavioral change, BJ Fogg, shares, “It’s critical for people to give feedback during or immediately after the behavior so that people’s brains will wire it correctly.” In other words, the tighter the feedback loop, the more immediately that feedback can be incorporated into and influence future behavior. How much more slowly would your golf swing improve if someone told you to ‘square your shoulders’ a week after a practice session vs. after your first few swings?

9. Direct your passion to competitors and your heart toward employees

Aaron Steed, CEO of Meathead Movers

We all have passion and heart about our businesses. That passion is critical for the success of the company. It’s good for employees to see. However, the mistake that many founders make is directing that energy negatively toward employees with harsh feedback that employees can’t help but take personally.

The goal isn’t to kill the passion; it’s to redirect it.

When giving feedback, I direct my passion toward competitors, and my heart toward employees. When I do this, meetings turn from defensive to inspirational. Here’s how I do it:

I set my default to always come from a place of love, gratitude and curiosity (LGC).

I write “LGC” on the top of my personal, printed meeting agenda, if I’m stepping into a serious meeting. This helps me focus on why LGC is important. Our environment unconsciously triggers certain emotions. One study even found that holding a warm cup of coffee can increase the odds of us being more warm to others.

10. Show a funny video before giving feedback

Kay Koplovitz, founder, USA Network and Syfy

A great way to relax someone is to find a cartoon, funny video or something else of interest to share to help the person let down their defensive guard. From there, it is easier to direct conversation to why their performance was subpar, and how to improve.

Beyond the immediate impact on everyone’s mood, laughter has long-term health benefits as well. And it may not only help the person you’re giving feedback to! It may help you. If you’re resisting confronting a lackluster performance, keep in mind a fascinating study, which found watching comedy videos increases willpower!

About the Author: Michael Simmons is a bestselling author, international keynote speaker, award-winning young entrepreneur, and columnist for Forbes, Business Insider, and Harvard Business Review. Simmons is the co-founder & partner of Empact, a global entrepreneurship education organization that has held 500+ entrepreneurship events including Summits at the White House, US Chamber of Commerce, and United Nations. Connect with him on Twitter (@michaeldsimmons) and his Blog.

Share Your Gifts To The World

How to Stop Holding Yourself Back

By Bedros Keuilian

A lot of people have the E-brake on.

Here’s what that means.

When things don’t work out in our businesses — or at work — we often blame other people or the circumstances.

You blame your co-workers.

You blame the people you hired.

You blame the marketing or sales team.

You might even blame the potential customer.

“The market just doesn’t understand what I have.”

You think you need…

  • Better closing skills

  • A slicker sales funnel

  • A more compelling offer

  • Or the latest sneaky marketing trick being hawked by the so-called “gurus”

After you finish playing the blame game, you simply give up.

But here’s the cold, hard truth about what’s really going on.

You’re throwing the fight.

You aren’t giving your best.

You’re making excuses and taking the easy way out.

I can tell.

You see, thousands of clients have gone through my various coaching programs.

And I know when a person has real marketing problems…

…and when a person has self-sabotage issues.

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Bedros Keuilian 
Founder, FitBodyBootcamp.com,
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In fact, and he won’t mind me saying this, our good friend, Craig Ballantyne, is one of those people. That’s right, Craig himself still has self-sabotage issues.

And you do, too.

I call this self-sabotage issue, “the E-brake problem.”

But it’s not your fault.

Let me explain.

I could give you and Craig a brand new Ferrari, but if the Emergency brake (the E-brake) is pulled, then it won’t go faster than a Honda Civic.

That’s because the car has been neutered.

Likewise, most people have a neutered subconscious mind.

They are holding themselves back.

They’ve got the E-brake on.

You might have a great idea and a hungry market that needs your help, but if you’ve got the brakes on, you’ll never get where you want to be.

But the only way for you to succeed and play up a level is to drop that E-brake.

You have value to add to the world.

You have lives to change.

You have the ability to make a massive impact on the lives of millions…

Just like Craig.

That’s one of the reasons he hired me as his coach — even though we’re business partners.

Craig was wise enough to know that he needed help.

He needed a mentor to guide him and to stop himself from holding back.

You need help releasing the e-brake, too.

It might be that you’re afraid of criticism, afraid of what other people might say, afraid of what your family might think, afraid of failure, and even afraid of success.

Instead of going all out, you hold back because you’re being selfish and protecting yourself from what others think.

So how do you drop the E-brake and accelerate down the road to success?

The answer is that you need to change your belief system.

For example, you might have a negative money mindset that your parents put in your head.

Perhaps they told you that money’s bad, money’s for the rich, that other people have success and we don’t, that we’re the working class and will never be anything else, or that the rich have knowledge that you don’t or ever will.

That negative belief system can be crippling.

It’s one that has held back Craig.

He’s slowly overcoming it, but let me tell you, the anti-abundance chains can be a heavy, heavy weight.

Our childhood experiences shape us, and they shackle us.

You might know the feeling.

There are other pains from the past that can keep us in a mental prison.

You might have been on the receiving end of a cruel comment from a schoolteacher.

Or you might have been abused like I was as a little boy.

Bad things happened to me when I was just a 4-year old kid in Armenia before our family immigrated to America.

Because of this trauma, I found a million reasons in my life to fail at things.

I failed at things on purpose.

Procrastination was one of my bad habits ten years ago before I released the brake.

I’d have a good idea and set aside for “the future,” and then never get around to it.

I went broke in my first business, an online supplement company because I didn’t feel deserving of success.

I didn’t believe that anybody would even want to hear from me.

But the truth of the matter is I had the knowledge to help people and yet I was too afraid to share it.

I pulled my punches.

I threw that fight.

It took years for me to get over it.

But eventually, when I started to work on my personal development, changing my belief systems and cutting out the negative people in my life, I was finally able to break free.

I gave myself permission to succeed.

The time had come to stop holding back, to go out and add massive value to the world, to be an evangelical believer in the message I am here to share.

That’s how I dropped the E-brake.

Join me.

If you’re like I once was, you need to change.

When you drop the E-brake, ideas flow to you and all of a sudden you magically have the courage to take action and overcome the bad habit of procrastination once and for all.

Listen, you have an obligation to get your solution in the hands of as many people as you can so that you can make a change in their lives.

That is how you will free yourself — by first believing in yourself, and then giving of yourself to the world.

It’s the message that I’ve told Craig over and over again, and I can see him believing in it now more than ever.

And let me tell you, he’s a great student.

Everything I instruct him to do, he does.

He takes action.

He works on the skills he needs to improve.

He practices his presentations more than ever.

He asks for feedback.

More important, he is man enough to accept the constructive criticism and then goes back to work on his weaknesses.

And you can too.

Join Craig.

Join me.

Release the brakes.

It all starts with the belief you have a unique gift to share with the world.

And then you need to take massive action.

You don’t need more education.

You just need to take what you know and do it.

You just need to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty.

Add your value. Sell your message. Do the work.

Get feedback. Fail forward.

And do it again and again.

Each time you do, the E-brake will drop lower and lower…

…And you’ll go faster and faster.

Trust me.

This approach to life is working for Craig, it worked for me, and it will work for you, too.

About the Author: Bedros Keuilian is the embodiment of the American Dream. Arriving in the United States from the communist Soviet Union back in 1980, his family went from being broke to eventually adding value to their new community. Today, Bedros helps over 45,000 fitness experts grow their businesses. Bedros knows the American Dream is NOT dead, because he is living it right now.

How To Increase Your Brand

 


Why Entrepreneurs Should Turn Their Expertise into a Book

By Assuanta Howard @astapubl

Entrepreneurs who have published books are able to extend their brand, become public speakers, gain more customers, and more. Being a published author will open many doors to you and grant you with opportunities to increase your income and add to your credibility.

Writing a book is an opportunity to reach out to an audience that never would have found you. It’s a chance for you to expand your audience and demonstrate your expertise, philosophy, and best practices. According to an article written by Laura Cross, “Writing and publishing a book related to your expertise will have a significant impact on your credibility and can substantially increase your bottom line. In a survey conducted for the Business Impact of Writing a Book:

  • 96% of authors reported that publishing a book positively influenced their businesses
  • 94% said it improved their brands
  • 95% generated more speaking engagements
  • 96% generated more clients
  • 94% generated more leads
  • 87% said it allowed them to charge higher fees
  • 87% reported that it allowed them to generate a more desirable client base
  • 76% said it allowed them to close more deals`1

What those figures reveal is that if you’re serious about your business, becoming a published author is no longer an option, it’s a necessity for market advantage.

There are many reasons why a business owner should write and publish a book and the top four are listed below:

  1. Enhances Your Visibility-Writing a book positions you as an expert within your industry.  Differentiating yourself in the marketplace is more important now than ever before. What makes you unique? Why should someone hire you over your competitor? Having a book to your credit helps you answer those questions.
  2. Be Seen as Credible– You will gain instant credibility and people will be more inclined to trust and believe you. Being an expert author helps you cement your credibility and deliver your expertise to a wider audience.
  3. Elevate yourselfabove your competition by being known as “the expert” people go to for the type of service you provide.
  4. Opens Doors-Establishing your brand creates a multitude of opportunities to increase your revenues and profitability as a business owner. You can command higher fees, receive high-level speaking invitations, attract high-value clients, and sell more products and services.

It has never been easier for an author to write and publish a book. Writing it is a challenge, but is should not be seen as a deterrent. A published book will provide you with an avalanche of unforeseeable opportunities to increase your brand, increase your credibility, and increase your profitability.

Assuanta Howard, CEO, Asta Publications has helped many authors write and publish their books. If you are an entrepreneur or business owner it’s time to turn your expertise into a book. Visit: http://www.astapublication.com or e-mail: ahoward@astapublidations.com to learn how.

Shark Habits in Your Life

Why You Need Shark Habits in Your Life

By Dan John

In 1977, at our first team meeting with the Utah State University track and field team, Coach Ralph Maughan outlined a few things that continue to shape my life.  At the time, he was addressing state and national champions and one Olympian.

Three statements stood out:

“Make yourself a slave to good habits.”
“Little and often over the long haul.”
“Lift weights three days a week, throw (or hurdle or jump or . . . ) four days a week, for eight years.”

Each of these is true. They are right.

For now, let’s look at the first one: “Make yourself a slave to good habits.”

Most people are blind to their habits. I was talking with my friend, Cameron, and she noted on a recent international trip she was surprised how often she had music on at home. She woke up to music, dressed to music, drove to music and worked to music.

On this trip, she had no music. In the hotel, she couldn’t just flip the switch or tune to her favorite stations. The lack of noise is what caught her attention. She was so used to having the background noise, she never noticed until there was quiet!

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Most people have habits. Lots of them. The television is on during meals, the radio is playing in the car and the route to most places is so ingrained we don’t even notice these as habits. Add a construction reroute and the whole day might take on a new meaning.

  • Reaching for a snack: habit.
  • Mindlessly staying up for another lousy comedy: habit.
  • Surfing the web endlessly: habit.
  • Checking social media at a restaurant: habit.

The bulk of your life is made up of habits. If you’ve been driving for years, you might not even remember the checklist of starting a car and maneuvering out of the garage and down the street. If you actually THINK about driving, you might recall how many steps there are to the process. It will grind your gears if you are using a manual transmission, when you actually stop to think about the left foot, right foot, hand shift and one hand driving required to accelerate.

Coach Maughan said good habits.

I don’t necessarily wish to correct him. Coach Maughan played professional football for the Detroit Lions, made the Olympic team as a hammer thrower, won the national championship as a javelin thrower and won two Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star at the Battle of the Bulge.

Again, I’m not correcting Coach, but adding to his legacy.

When I look at the vast expanse of time-wasting stuff in life, I think this: get rid of it.

The term we use is “shark habits.” One bite . . . and it is gone.

Fill out the form. Check the box. Don’t let the bride wonder whether or not you’re going to the wedding, RSVP!

Low on gas? Fill it up!

I first heard the concept of shark habits — one bite! — from Robb Wolf. He was speaking to a military group and told them to take a roll of duct tape into their bedrooms and cover up all the little dots of light that infiltrate the rooms. These little warning lights for fire alarms, CO2 alarms, alarm clocks and all kinds of power outlets are causing some sleep distress.

The upside is this: you only have to do it once.

Once. One bite. That is a shark habit.

Daily Shark Habits

I use shark habits in much of my professional and personal life. When I open an email, I answer it. Always. If I don’t have time to deal with the messages, I don’t open the email program.

I believe in only touching postal mail once. I go through the mail and discard the junk in the garbage (sadly, most of the mail is junk). If it requires attention, I deal with it immediately.

I fail on this sometimes. Oddly, when I do forget to do something like, renew my annual business application, I lose the form and it costs me hours of backtracking, waiting on hold, and dealing with unhelpful people at the state office.

During my hour on hold, I recommit to shark habits.

Shark habits are the ultimate in “Do This.” For anything that can be done swiftly, DO IT NOW.

One bite.

There is a shark habit that has worked well for years with my medical team: when the nurse asks, “Do you want to set up the next appointment?” I always say, “Yes.”

I usually don’t have my calendar with me. No . . . I don’t know what I’m doing six months from now on a Tuesday at 1:30. But, yes, I take that appointment!

My doctors now text, email and call to remind me about the appointment, so I let them use their time and energy to get me there.

If you’re an athlete, shark habits are pretty simple and obvious to the experienced participant.

  • Buy the shoes.
  • Buy the equipment.
  • Renew the membership.
  • Send the check for the event.
  • Get the flight, the rental car and the hotel.
  • Show up!

For someone new to a sport, this list can be a bit of a burden as they try to sort through all the options, especially equipment. If you don’t believe me, talk to a cycling enthusiast if you doubt how many options there are.

But as the years go on, the membership renewal automatically shows up and you simply have to click “Renew.”

As the years go on, you will have friends to share rides and meals. It gets easier and easier to show up as the shark habits begin to take over so much of the early effort to get things done.

Shark habits eliminate clutter.

I read an article years ago that stated something that shocked me: the average person only eats fourteen foods a week. Think about that: only fourteen foods. At a workshop, I was told one of the keys to better nutrition was to list the foods you eat each week — not the portions nor do you seek the carbohydrate load, the micronutrients or the quality of the food. Simply, we were asked to list the foods.

Armed with this information, I decided on two things to make my family’s health better: a shopping list and a weekly menu.

I still have the shopping list on my fridge — here you go:

Meat
Poultry
Sausage
Bacon
Fish
Shellfish (if you can eat it)
Canned tuna
Salmon
Eggs (buy them in the five-dozen containers)
Heavy cream, for coffee
Real butter
Cheese
Salad greens and everything you can eat raw!
Lemons and limes to sweeten drinks and squeeze on fish and salads
Herbs and spices
Olive oil
The best in-season fruit

There’s also a little box for basic toiletries and household supplies.

When I shop, I load up on what we need for the menu for the week. There is never the question, “What should I eat?” The answer is already in the pot!

I do this with weekly chores, monthly chores, and yearly chores, too.

I take this seriously. I found a black polo shirt that travels well, doesn’t wrinkle and looks good.

I bought 16 of those shirts.

Why 16? That’s all the site had in my size. They are all the exact same look and design.

I own two pairs of expensive jeans that guarantee I can squat in them. I own four pairs of shoes with the term “Free” in the name and I can honestly tell you that the price is far from free.

Why? Why wear the same thing on every road trip, talk, and gathering?

Among the reasons, I find “no one really cares what I wear” to “it takes me about a minute to pack for a ten-day trip.” It comes down to this: I pull them out of my closet, pop them in my lightweight, compact carry-on, and I am ready to go.

Shark habits save time. Shark habits save mental overload.

An important point: Shark habits don’t judge whether or not something is important, unimportant, trivial, or the key to life, living and the universe.

I think weddings are VERY important, for example.

As the father of the bride, I had to make a phone call to a family member a few weeks ahead of my daughter’s wedding.

“Are you guys coming to Kelly and Andrew’s wedding?”
“Well, yes, you must know we’ll be coming.”
“Why didn’t you RSVP?”
“Well, you know we’ll be coming!”
“Okay…how many?”
“Oh, I don’t know who will show up…maybe the kids, maybe their kids, sometimes they bring friends.”

The reception was a sit-down meal and every guest cost enough money to feed a family of four at a chain restaurant. The difference between two guests and twenty from one family was information I could have used to plan better.

Letting the bride know whether or not you’re coming is important.

Lots of things we do each and every day are important. Many of these you probably never even think about.

Tim Carr, one of the smartest men in education, teaches Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs with a fun story.

Imagine you are going scuba diving. You go because it allows you to be one with nature, enjoy the beauty and frolic on a beach holiday after months of hard work saving money to fly to this paradise. During the dive, a very hungry shark or sea monster shows up and you hide behind a rock, keeping the rock between you and this denizen of the deep. You suddenly notice that you are running out of air and need to get back to the surface. The pang of lack of air trumps the danger, the danger trumps the beauty and…

You just learned the basics of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Everything here was important:

Hard Work
Vacation
Beauty and Bliss
Protection
Air

The shark in this story teaches us about shark habits and importance: most of the things you do are important. Perhaps filling out a form is not important to you, but it’s important to the poor person who has to figure out how much food to buy or how many chairs to set up.

Fill it out. Be part of the solution, not the problem.

Shark Habits and Health

I have talked in depth about how shark habits can make a huge difference on your physical health. See the doctor, go to the dentist, floss your teeth and you know the rest. Shark habits will do wonders for health, longevity, fitness and performance.

Equally important, shark habits will do wonders for your mental health.

Shark Habits and Longevity

One day at the Pacifica Barbell Club, Dick Notmeyer asked me a question. Now, to understand Dick, a man who changed my life by teaching me the Olympic lifts and the lessons of hard work and perseverance, you first have to realize that often when he asked a question, he wasn’t expecting an answer.

He had the answer.

“By percentage, what do think the keys to a long life are?”

He went on to explain that probably 50% of surviving into the triple digits, or close to that, would be genetics. Everybody seems to know a guy who lived to 105 smoking cigarettes and drinking moonshine. There are families that just live a long time.

Forty percent seems to be lifestyle and that’s something we can improve upon or ruin.

And, sadly, 10% is luck. If you had left a minute later, you could have been in that accident or would have been the one-millionth customer and won the prize. It happens. There’s no training for improving your luck.

The secret to living a long life might simply be “Don’t die.” Good advice, but hard to quantify. There seems to be three things . . . and maybe a fourth . . . that lead to longevity:

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Wear your seat belt or helmet.
  • Learn to fall and recover from a fall.
  • The fourth? Never say, “Hold my beer and watch this.”

I often tell people that since I don’t commute, the most dangerous part of my day, statistically, is showering. After 55, nutritional decisions don’t matter nearly as much as safety precautions against falling or collisions.

Certainly, your teenage child’s eating and drinking habits and decisions in the early 20s concerning beer and pizza will have an impact on that 50-something body, but after 55, NOT getting broken trumps any magic food or supplement. Safety in the shower, walking on ice, and double checking for traffic are far more important than getting the right vitamins.

Bill Gifford’s book, Spring Chicken, and website offers some simple advice to increase longevity:

Caloric restriction leads to a longer life. Intermittent fasting does the same thing . . . easier.

Exercising 100 minutes a WEEK adds seven years to life.

So…
Start fasting.
Start walking.

To improve your time here on this marvelous planet, there are some simple steps of both prevention and promotion that can keep you living longer.

The corollary to Coach Maughan’s famous insight would be this:

Make yourself a slave to shark habits.

Practice taking things off the table, clearing the clutter, checking the box. Become more proactive. To summarize shark habits, learn to take things off the table, then put them away.

The longer I coach, the more I realize performance is the easiest of the four basic things we work with in fitness — Health, Longevity, Fitness and Performance. Performance comes down to assessing adherence to principles, trying one’s best to shark habit the bulk of life and flitting through some programs now and again to address specific issues.

Sure, there’s a lot there. There is a need for mastery of a lot of areas, but, overall, it comes down to:

Did you do the job?

If not, why not?

If you got cluttered with stuff that could have been handled with shark habits, shame on you.

If we didn’t practice the right things, shame on me.

About the Author: An All-American discus thrower, Dan John has also competed at the highest levels of Olympic lifting, Highland Games and the Weight Pentathlon, an event in which he holds the American record. Dan spends his work life blending weekly workshops and lectures with full-time writing, and is also an online religious studies instructor for Columbia College of Missouri. To read more of Dan’s articles, click here.  

How to Close a Deal

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WEALTHY

12 Rules for Closing the Deal

By Grant Cardone

Like any sport, there are rules to selling, especially when it comes to closing the sale. Here are a dozen of my best rules for closing the deal.

  1. Stay seated. The saying goes, “Present the product, service or idea on your feet, but always negotiate from your seat.” Even if your prospect stands up, remain seated — going from a seated position to standing up suggests something has changed and allows your prospect the cue to exit and end the negotiations.
  2. Master eye contact. This is a discipline you can only instill through practice, and you can perfect it by recording yourself and reviewing it. If you want to be believed and look confident, it is vital that you make and maintain eye contact with your prospect. It shows you are interested in them, confident in yourself and your product, and what you are proposing.
  3. Communicate clearly. People don’t trust someone who cannot communicate confidently and clearly. I practiced for years using recorders and video and played them back, ensuring my communication was coming across the way I intended.

Click here to read all 12 of Grant Cardone’s rules for closing.

Loneliness

“I’m just an individual who doesn’t feel that I need to have somebody qualify my work in any particular way. I’m working for me.” — David Bowie

The Power of Loneliness

By James Altucher
Everyone loves the David Bowie hit, “Starman.”

“There’s a starman waiting in the sky, he’d like to come and meet us but he thinks he’d blow our minds.”

Only…the song is not about a star man.

It’s about the loneliness of two boys. The song starts with a boy late at night listening to the radio. He’s by himself. Thinking there must be something out there.

Then he hears something amazing.

So he calls his friend. Perhaps someone equally lonely, late at night by himself.

“I had to phone someone, so I picked on you. Hey, that’s far out, so you heard him too?”

David Bowie was lonely. He was ostracized by the rock stars before him (The Beatles, The Rolling Stones). He was sexually ambiguous. It was unclear still (even to him) if he was a good musician or not.

And out came “Starman.” And the song changed his life. It changed your life and my life.

He wanted to connect with people like him. He was lonely. He wanted his art, his expression, to touch someone. It touched the world.

I felt like that little boy. Waiting to hear from some mysterious space man that would change my life. “Cause he knows it’s all worthwhile.”

I wanted someone to call. “Hey, that’s far out. You heard him too.”

I’m always afraid of loneliness. Often if I’m by myself I go out and try to meet people. Or I call a friend. Or I force myself to go to a party I don’t want to go to.

But when I’m lonely and use the power of loneliness, often the best things happen to me. I can’t ever forget that. Even the worst times of loneliness.

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Creativity.

That magic art of turning solace into soulfulness and creating art of it.

Introspection.

Rather than seeing yourself through the mirror of others’ eyes (a desperate addiction of mine), being forced to look within and confront what’s there.

I’m always afraid what I will find. I’m always gratified after I do it.

Energy.

Introverts power up when they are by themselves. Not everyone is a pure introvert or pure extrovert. But I tend towards introversion.

I like being around other people. But I know I regenerate when by myself.

If I’m by myself for a day, it’s as if I have recovered all of my superpowers.

Intelligence.

When I’m alone, I’m more disciplined. I read, I write, I try to learn things. I come out of periods of loneliness with knowledge I never would have had otherwise.

A Spy.

Sometimes when I’m lonely I’ll go outside. I’ll watch people. Sometimes I’ll see someone interesting. I’ll go down in the subway with them. I’ll get out at their stop. I’ll follow them as long as I can.

We spend so much time living in the illusions of our own lives we forget about the beauty and knowledge contained in the seven billion other lives on this planet.

To be able to overhear one conversation, to see one thing normally hidden by people from others, to talk to one stranger, is to open up an entire new world to ourselves that we can learn from.

In my mind I am ten years old, I’m curious, I’m a spy.

Sadness.

When my dad died, I felt infinitely sad. Like a black hole in my life had opened up and everything was being sucked into it.

I learned to live with that hole. I reached back and dived into my memories of him in a more personal way than I ever had before.

I still pass his office building, where I spent time as a kid, and feel that pang of loneliness from him not being in my life.

But I learned from him. He lives in me. I take that sadness with me everywhere and bring it to every situation I live in.

It’s that way with all loss in my life. With everyone I have been with and the sadnesses that add up when I miss them. I miss my friends the second after “goodbye.”

Without that loneliness I would be less of a person.

With that loneliness, I learn how to better treat the people who are currently in my life. To know that every love is finite. To treat it with the respect that such antique rarity deserves.

***

David Bowie lived directly across the street from where I live now. He had an office in the same building I once worked.

One time I was in the elevator of that building.

I heard a voice that sounded like velvet. I looked over. It was David Bowie. He really was different. He really was a man by himself.

I walked over to his apartment this morning, about seven months after his death.

I took a photo. It’s still filled with messages from people who missed him. Missed their star man. Missed their friend that they grew up with.

And then I wrote about it.

“I had to phone someone, so I picked on you.”

About the Author: James Altucher is a successful entrepreneur, angel investor, chess master and prolific writer. He has started and run more than 20 companies and is currently invested in over 30. His writing has appeared in major media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, The New York Observer, Tech Crunch,The Financial Times, Yahoo Finance and others. He’s followed up his WSJ Bestselling book Choose Yourself with the Rich Employee to share daily practices that can lead you to be rich, without quitting your job. It’s available on Amazon for only $0.99.

Apps to Help Your Business

5 Ways Mobile Apps Helps You Improve Business Revenue

By Urvish Shangvis

1) Acquire More Customers:

A Mobile App is an effective and efficient medium to connect with customers. Asking desktop users to download a mobile app, helps acquire new customers. Offering a 10-30% discount to new mobile app users on their first order, will make them repeat customers. Research indicates that users prefer mobile apps to a mobile or desktop website, as mobile apps can be accessed offline too. Users spend more time on a mobile app than a mobile or desktop site. Mobile apps can help you gain new customers, by running various offers and discounts.

Read the rest of the ways mobile apps can add value.