Category Archives: blog

4 Signs You’re with the Right Person

BY: REALSIMPLE.COM/GRACE ELKUS

Does your relationship pass this test?

Whether you’re entering a new relationship or hitting a significant milestone, it’s natural to question whether you’ve chosen the right partner. We talked to Elizabeth Schoenfeld, Ph.D., director of research and evaluation at LifeWorks and frequent contributor to ScienceofRelationships.com, and Marina Williams, a therapist in Boston and the author of Couples Counseling: A Step by Step Guide for Therapists, about the telltale signs you should look for.

1. THEY’RE ATTENTIVE

Small, daily gestures of romance are an important part of a supportive relationship, especially when they align with your personal needs. If you’re feeling under the weather, for example, you’ll appreciate your partner more if he or she makes you soup rather than brings home concert tickets, Schoenfeld says. “Having a partner who notices what you need or want in a given moment and responds accordingly bodes well for the long-term potential of your relationship.”

2. THEY’RE AFFECTIONATE

Whether its hugging, kissing, or cuddling before bed, regularly engaging in some form of physical affection is key to feeling connected to your partner, according to Schoenfeld. “Generally speaking, couples who are more physically affectionate with one another tend to be more satisfied with their partners and their relationships—which makes sense, as individuals tend to feel more cared for and understood when their partners show physical affection,” she says. And being affectionate is good for our personal and mental health, too.

3. THEY RESPOND WELL TO CONFLICT

How you communicate in the heat of an argument can be a telltale sign of the status of your relationship. In fact, the amount of conflict you engage in with your partner doesn’t matter nearly as much as how the argument is handled, Schoenfeld says. In healthy relationships, each partner responds to conflict in a caring and supportive manner. “If they listen to what you’re saying, respect where you’re coming from, and respond to your disclosures by sharing their own thoughts, feelings, and experiences (without making the conversation all about them), then intimacy is more likely to flourish.”

If you are communicating poorly, however, don’t give up hope. “As a couples counselor, I always love it when the problem is communication because it’s something that’s very easily fixed, granted that the couple is willing to change,” Williams says.

4. THEY SHARE YOUR VALUES AND GOALS

While it’s okay (and perfectly normal) to have different interests from your partner, it’s important to be on the same page when it comes to long-term goals. “Differences can be great for balancing out a couple and making things more interesting socially,” Williams says. “Where I think it’s important to be similar is in your values and goals for the future.” And Schoenfeld agrees: “Prioritize similarities that have long-term implications, such as a shared desire (or lack of desire) for marriage or children.”

15 Ways to Retire Earlier

AN EARLY START TO YOUR GOLDEN YEARS

The word “retirement” and number “65” are as linked in the North American psyche as “bacon” and “eggs.” Then again, that all depends on how fast you want your eggs, right?

Retiring early — or leaving the work force for the golf course, if you like — might sound like an unattainable goal. But there are many ways to make it, so long as you take numerous approaches into account.

Yes, 65 is the standard — but what’s 21st century life all about if not exceeding standards? Here are 15 major financial and lifestyle moves you can make to achieve this goal.

Are you fantasizing about early retirement. Here’s how to make that dream a reality.

1. LIVE TWO TO THREE TIMES BELOW YOUR MEANS

Sorry, folks: Simply skipping that $4 latte in the morning ain’t gonna cut it. It takes a much more committed approach where “sacrifices” are viewed in a new light. “It’s amazing when I work through the numbers that some people think manicures, landscapers and maids are a need,” said Michael Chadwick, a certified financial planner and CEO of Chadwick Financial Advisors in Unionville, Conn.

2. REDEFINE ‘COMFORTABLE RETIREMENT’

Less spending later constitutes the flip side of less spending now. If you imagine comfy retirement as a vacation home and monthly cruise ship trips, revisit that vision so you don’t have to bleed cash — but can still retire in style. Instead of two homes, for example, why not live in your vacation destination and pocket the principal from selling your primary residence?

3. PAY OFF ALL YOUR DEBT

That’s right, all of it. First: Is it time to pay off your home? You might not have the resources now to plunk down one huge check, but consider savvy alternatives such as switching from a 30-year to 15-year mortgage. Monthly payments aren’t much higher, but the principal payoff is much greater. Second: Do the same with loans and credit cards, as high interest eats up income faster than termites chewing a log. A credit card balance of just $15,000 with an APR of 19.99 percent will take you five years to eradicate at $400 a month — and you’ll dish out a total of $23,764.48, the calculator on timevalue.com shows.

4. CONSIDER OVERLOOKED FINANCIAL RESOURCES

While it’s risky to count on unknowns such as an inheritance, you might have cash streams available outside the traditional retirement realm, said Jennifer E. Acuff, wealth advisor with TrueWealth Management in Atlanta. For example, “Understand your options with respect to any pensions you might be entitled to from current or previous employers.”

5. INVEST EARLY AND AGGRESSIVELY

If you’re in your 20s and start investing now, you’re in luck, said Joseph Jennings Jr., investment director for PNC Wealth Management in Baltimore. “Due to the power of compounding, the first dollar saved is the most important, as it has the most growth potential over time.” As an example, Jennings compares $10,000 saved at age 25 versus 60. “The 25-year-old has 40 years of growth potential at the average retirement age of 65, whereas $10,000 saved at age 60 only has five years of growth potential.”

6. MARRIED COUPLES: PLAY RETIREMENT ACCOUNT MATCHMAKER

The wisdom of taking advantage of a company match on the 401(k) is well established — but think about how that power is accelerated if a working couple does it with two such company matches. “If your employer has a matching contribution inside of your company’s plan, make sure you always contribute at least enough to receive it,” said Kevin J. Meehan, regional president-Chicago with Wealth Enhancement Group. “You are essentially leaving money on the table if you don’t.”

7. PRACTICE SOUND CASH FLOW MANAGEMENT

The methodology is simple, yet the results can be profound: Put money at least monthly into systematic investments during your working years. “There’s no other element of investment planning or portfolio management that’s more essential over the long term,” said Jesse Mackey, chief investment officer of 4Thought Financial Group in Syosset, N.Y.

8. JUMP ON EMPLOYER STOCK PURCHASE PLANS

How about some free money? The ESPP typically works by payroll deduction, with the company converting the money into shares every six months at a 15 percent discount. If you immediately liquidate those shares every time they’re delivered, it’s like get a guaranteed 15 percent rate of return,” said Dave Yeske, managing director at the wealth management firm Yeske Buie and director of the financial planning program at Golden Gate University. “Add the after-tax proceeds to your supplemental retirement savings.”

9. START THAT RETIREMENT ACCOUNT TODAY

That is, the earlier the better. Millennials who kick off retirement accounts early will reap big rewards later. A 25-year-old who socks away $4,000 a year for just 10 years (with a 10 percent annual return rate) will accrue more than $883,000 by the time she turns 60. Now then: Can’t you just taste those pina coladas on the beach?

10. PLAN SMART VACATIONS AND TRAVEL — AND INVEST THE DIFFERENCE

There’s no sense in depriving yourself of every single thing, especially well-deserved time off. But Yeske points out that you can save a ton in 150 countries through a service called HomeExchange.com. “My wife and I have stayed for free in London, Amsterdam, New York and Costa Rica,” he said. “And when you’re staying in someone’s home or apartment, you don’t have to eat out at a restaurant for every meal, so your food costs nothing more than if you were at home.”

11. DON’T LET YOUR MONEY SIT IDLE

To get to an early retirement, you have to periodically revisit your IRA, 401(k) or other retirement account to make sure your money doesn’t grow cobwebs. For example, the way your retirement account is diversified shouldn’t put too much emphasis on low-yield investments — such as money market funds and low-yielding bonds. “Dividends can pile up in the money market account, typically earning one one-hundredth of a percent,” Yeske said. “Make sure your cash is invested properly.

12. HOP OFF THE HEDONIC TREADMILL

In this curse of consumerism, you buy something expensive, feel excited and then scout for something else to purchase when the “new car smell” wears off. And it’s a huge trap if you want early retirement, said Pete, a finance blogger who retired in his 30s. Another advantage: “Here in the rich world,” he wrote at MrMoneyMoustache.com, “the only widespread form of slavery is the economic type.”

 

13. LOOK FOR PASSIVE SOURCES OF INCOME

Early retirement doesn’t necessarily mean retiring all of your income, especially if you find ways to bring in money without hard work. Investing in rental properties is one way you can create a cash flow stream — and you can minimize the labor by hiring a property manager. Or: Set up an internet sales business and hire a part-timer to fulfill orders and track stock based on volume

14. ENLIST IN THE ARMED FORCES

Here’s an alternative way to get to “At ease, men.” By serving in the military, you can also serve yourself. Members commonly retire after 20 years, living off generous pensions and health insurance. Even though President Obama in March proposed sweeping changes to military retirement and health benefits, earlier-than-normal retirement should still remain an option for many men and women in uniform.

15. HIT THE ROAD OR GO JUMP IN A LAKE, INDEFINITELY

Some middle agers are selling the bulk of their possessions — including the home — and moving into tricked-out mobile homes and houseboats. These options also open the door to a life of leisure travel and can eliminate major expenses, such as property taxes and mortgage payments.

If you think of retiring early as simply walking away from everyday life — and thus a pipe dream — it’s time to take a step back and look at how others have done it. You might enjoy your job immensely and have friends in the trenches with you. But if work is taking too much away from your family time, community bonds, overall health and peace of mind, you might do well to consider one of the smartest alternative investments of all: yourself.

If You Want Greatness, Take Responsibility

 


If You Want Greatness, Take Responsibility

By Matt Mayberry @Matt_Mayberry

“If you had to pick one quality that someone needs to possess, what would that be?” someone recently asked me. 

After I was forced to give just one answer, I said, “If I had to pick just one quality, it would be taking complete and full responsibility for your life.”

Yes, there are a plethora of different qualities and habits that must be developed to truly become great, but there is no better starting point than taking complete responsibility for your life.

We live in a world where maximum results are expected with minimal effort given. If something goes wrong, it’s someone else’s fault. If you’re not happy financially, it’s the economy’s fault. If you’re not happy in your marriage, it’s your partner’s fault. If you’re not being compensated as much as you would like, the company doesn’t pay enough.

Any of those sound familiar? Chances are some hit home. It’s human nature to blame circumstances or the next person instead of taking ownership. However, in order to live a truly exceptional life, you must put an end to this way of thinking immediately.

So how can we once and for all start taking complete responsibility of our lives? Here are three ways to help get you started.

1. Decide.

It all starts with a firm decision to do so. It sounds simple, but there is a very small percentage of people who actually make the decision to take responsibility for their lives. They keep going back to their old ways and lose sight of the fact that they are the ones in the driver seat.

Force yourself to stop looking outside of yourself for things you are in control of. It’s a simple concept, but not easy by any stretch of the means. From here on out, make the firm decision that no single event or person is going to dictate your level of achievement.

2. Stop playing the blame game.

A large number of men and women from all walks of life struggle with this one, including myself from time to time. As I mentioned above, what’s easy to do is to blame your partner when a relationship gets shaky. What’s easy to do is to blame the government for a lack of financial success.

It’s absolutely imperative that you throw away every single excuse and start taking ownership in every area of your life. There is no way we can ever grab a hold of our lives completely when we are too caught up in the awful habit of playing the blame game.

3. Make a promise to yourself.

Something that has worked wonderfully for me is to write a simple creed on a notecard promising myself that taking complete responsibility for my life is something I will abide by every waking moment. It can be something as simple as, “I, Matt Mayberry, promise that I will never lose sight of taking full responsibility for my life.”

Legacies have been built and history has been made by men and women who decided to take complete ownership of their lives. Are you ready to do the same?

 

5 THINGS GREAT PRODUCT MANAGERS DO EVERY DAY

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My favorite product managers are quietly powerful. Every day they take small steps that move their teams and business forward in a meaningful way. But they do it without a lot of hoopla, taking a confident yet unassuming approach.

After all, product managers have a lot on their plate every day. They are responsible for the strategy, roadmap, and feature definition for their product. It is a big responsibility that requires facilitating and collaborating with many different teams — both internal and external — without the formal authority to manage those teams. It requires a unique mix of humility and strength.

However, that quiet power does not mean leading product is easy. I realized early on that the daily life of a product manager is unpredictable, hectic, and sometimes very tough.

In the late 1990s, my first product management job was helping to roll out high-speed internet nationwide when it became a viable (and highly desired) alternative to dial-up services. We went from providing 300 lines monthly to more than 3,000 — all in a window of about 60 days. I quickly learned how to balance staying on a strategic course and managing the endless minutiae that was required to get each customer up and running.

I had always been a leader, so handling the stress and responsibility was natural for me — but I had a lot to learn about focusing my efforts on what mattered most. I soon realized that with great accountability comes great autonomy. It was up to me to prioritize what needed to get done and when.

This is great news for ambitious product managers: You have more control than you might think, no matter how hectic each day feels.

Here are five things great product managers do. Used consistently, these actions can help you prioritize your work every day and thrive.

1. Align actions to goals

To succeed as a product manager it is essential to take a goal-first approach. Prioritize what must get done that day and assess and align new work against your goals. Swiftly break through the endless tasks and chatter by evaluating each request or demand through the lens of your goals. This does not mean you should shut down disruptions as “noise” to be silenced. Embrace the interruptions that align with your goals — one may be the missing idea that makes your product wildly successful in market.

2. Connect the dots

Understand how your product serves your business — the big picture of why you are building it. This may seem obvious, but without that connection, product managers are often led astray by differing opinions, demands from internal teams, and conflicting customer feedback. Identify why your product matters to your business and to customers so you can navigate with a steady mind.

3. Solve one simple problem

You may be tempted to solve every problem for your customers. But you cannot be all things to all people. You will spread yourself too thin and lose that firm direction. Instead, focus on solving one problem at a time. I like to say, “Focus on one problem, and solve the second for free.” Tackle one problem well and new opportunities will emerge.

4. Learn from others

Invest the time and effort to learn about your product team’s core work so you can set realistic deadlines. This is especially important for teams that share resources. Ask questions and get to know the full scope of their experience and tasks. It is also important to admit what you do not know. Rely on the expertise of your extended product team to help you deliver on the promise of your product.

5. Say “no” with confidence

Not every idea will be meaningful. And, in fact, most will be lousy. Great product managers understand that saying “no” is not a one-word answer. This is your chance to explain why the idea does not make sense within your strategic direction. Do not hide from these conversations or be dismissive. Take each “no” as an opportunity to recommit to your goals — and to re-evaluate whether your aim is true.

I know this advice to be effective — but hard to follow. So be kind to yourself when you feel cornered or stuck. Stick out your chest and remember that you have more control than you think and a team at your side.

You too can achieve the quiet power that separates good product managers from great ones. Never lose sight of your goals and embrace each day with humility and strength. Now go get busy.

Discover your own power as a product manager.

15 Key Apps For Entrepreneurs

Designer

15 Key Apps For Entrepreneurs

By Ari Rabban

Being beyond busy just comes with the territory of being an entrepreneur.

Whether you’ve got a business that’s been operating for years, or you’re just itching to get work done on a project of your own, many challenges stand in the way of entrepreneurial efficiency. Thankfully, with the right tools at your disposal, there is a way to get to the other side.

Breaking Down Your Breakdowns

Any time an obstacle blocks the path to your productivity, it falls into one of three categories.

The first is good old-fashioned distraction. Whether you find yourself distracted by noisy co-workers, something outside the office, or just the idea of the pile of tasks still waiting to be done, we all know how easy it is to have our attention misdirected.

Then it’s a question of prioritization. Managing a big project or running a startup involves attending to an endless list of demands. Finding a way to distinguish the critical from the important and the non-pressing is essential to navigating workflow.

Craig Ballantyne, Author of The Perfect Day Formula explains how to master this 5% vs. 95% Rule, which is a formative principle for every truly successful entrepreneur.

Finally, there’s the question of function. Nothing crimps your process like getting hung up on some functionality issue. Maybe you’re trying to figure out a way to process a payment across platforms or your progress comes to a screeching halt when a problem pops up with your data security. Whatever the cause, suddenly you find that you’ve spent hours trying to accomplish what seems like it should take 10 minutes.

The solution to each of these issues, however, might be as near as your own pocket.

Letting Technology Do Its Part

Contemporary entrepreneurs have a vast toolbox — all on their phones — that wasn’t available a few years ago. Over the past decade, more and more apps have been developed to alleviate the above challenges.

By consolidating your workflow onto a single device, you achieve streamlined processes that vastly boost your productivity.

Forget about shuffling through papers and coping with chaos: Harness the power of your smartphone and its cloud capabilities, and you’ll ease your journey toward success.

There are four app varieties I consider essential to solving problems relating to distraction, prioritization, and function. The 15 unique apps below will offer solutions to these barriers.

  • Hootsuite/Trello/Lizzabo

It’s easy to get wrenched off-task by social media, especially when you use it to share business-related content, communicate with team members, or network with potential contacts.

A variety of apps can address this. Hootsuite, for example, allows you to schedule posts without actually spending any time on social media platforms. Meanwhile apps like Trello and Campfire facilitate collaboration within your team. And tools like Bizzabo and LinkedIn are great for digital networking.

  • Asana/Remember the Milk/Google Now

Powerful apps have taken the place of the day planner. Apps like Asana, Remember the Milk, and Google Now make it easy to not only plan out your schedule, but share it with other team members.

  • Square

For the longest time, independent businesses didn’t have easy access to the tools necessary to accept payments in plastic…Continue Reading 

About the Author: Ari Rabban is the CEO of Phone.com and a veteran of the IP communications industry. Phone.com’s virtual phone service builds on the digital VoIP industry experience of its founders to deliver a complete suite of enterprise-grade unified communication services at an SMB price. Ari was named among the Top 20 Most Influential People in VoIP 2012 and currently serves on several boards, including the New Jersey Tech Council.

Do You Have a Job, a Career, or a Calling?

BY

Your answer to this question is crucial.

It can determine whether or not your life’s work is contributing to you living to your full potential. In his book Springboard, Wharton School Professor G. Richard Shell argues that this question is essential to finding personal meaning and satisfaction. And that’s not as simple as most people think.

To illustrate, imagine three people who have been working hard for several years — Alex, Ben, and Catherine.

  • Alex has a job he does for the paycheck. He clocks in for the hours he’s supposed to, and he puts in the minimum effort to get the job done. Sure, he might perform relatively well in his role, or he might go through the motions of socializing with the people he works with, but he can’t help feeling like a cog in a machine. He puts up with it though, as he’s motivated by the security that comes with having a stable job and a steady paycheck. He doesn’t view his job as much more than a chore. ‘Life’ is what happens when he gets home after work and picks up his guitar, or on weekends when he can spend time with his partner. He is always wishing that it’s Friday already, and he dreads Monday mornings.
  • Ben feels dedication and loyalty towards his career, and to an extent, his employer too. He sees himself progressing in his defined role, towards more status and responsibility. His pride in his job is apparent in how he introduces himself to others at parties: he says his name and what he does. He has spent countless hours building up his skills and knowledge within his field. He envisions himself in his manager’s position on a daily basis, and then progressing to his manager’s manager’s position, and so on. He works hard because he wants to be better, and sometimes he does things he doesn’t want to do, like work long hours, so that he can reach the ‘ideal’ future he envisions for himself.
  • Catherine wouldn’t call what she does ‘work.’ She feels lucky to have found her calling, and to get paid for it too. She’s keen to get out of bed every morning, excited about what the day will bring. She genuinely feels that she is making a difference. There’s hardly such a thing as a holiday, because she just works whatever hours she feels like to get the job done, motivated by the knowledge that what she’s doing is worthwhile. She is able to express herself though her work — using that creative spark she’s had since she was a child. She spends every day in alignment with her values, which include serving the community, even in her own little way. Instead of a cog in a machine, she feels like she is the machine.

Who do you identify most with?

Notice that there isn’t any mention of each person’s pay or profession. Research conducted by Yale University Professor Amy Wrzesniewski showed that most randomly selected groups divide themselves up almost exactly into thirds, no matter what they do, or how much they are paid. Indeed, some people from exactly the same workplace felt differently about the same job. It’s not always so clear-cut.

For example, Ben could be a trainee lawyer who feels like he has his whole career ahead of him. He’s only worked for two years, and has shown promise. Maybe he’ll make partner one day, if he just works hard enough. He’s proud of his profession, even though the hours exhaust him. He would say that his career is his priority right now. His best friend in the next cubicle feels differently. He finds the work tedious and pointless.

Catherine could be a doctor working in a ward that is always full of sick children. She works long hours, sometimes with only a few hours of sleep, but it’s worth it if she gets to save lives. She can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s her calling. Yes, she earns a fair amount, but it’s not the money that’s most important to her. Last night, she was bonding with her best friend Karen about how much they love their jobs. Karen is an administrator for the local government.

You might imagine that most people on lower incomes would consider themselves as just having a ‘job,’ but down the hallway from Catherine the doctor, the janitor finishes up cleaning the floor. Nobody really pays attention to him, but if they did, they would hear him humming away happily. Even though his job can be tiring at times, he loves it because the ward needs to stay clean so that the doctors can properly do their jobs, and the janitor gets to do his part in saving lives. It’s his calling too.

In fact, people can feel differently about their work at different times in their lives, and their perceptions can shift over time as their personal lives change and they seek different goals than when they first started in a job. Ben could focus on his law career for 10 years, and then realize that he has sacrificed a lot for the sake of it. He loses sight of why he wanted to be a lawyer in the first place, and over the years his career has become just a job to him. Now he’s just doing it because he doesn’t know anything else, and the money is good, but perhaps there are more important things in life than living hard and fast. He’ll be looking for his calling soon.

It’s not easy to work out whether you have a job, a career, or a calling. Things that matter to you now might not matter as much later, and vice-versa. In the long run, only you will know what is right for you. If you’re lucky enough to find your calling — work that you enjoy and that can support you financially — then you are better than two-thirds of the people in the workforce. And you’re well on your way to finding success and happiness.

How To Get What You Want In Just Ten Steps

by

Being fearless enough to chase what you want is the ultimate goal for all of us. But in reality, leaving your comfort zone to get everything you want just isn’t that easy. Tired of letting your doubts stop you from reaching your full potential? Fed up of thinking about what could have been? Or, do you just need to face a new chapter? Here’s a 10-step routine for getting what you want, which will help you achieve your goals and dreams faster than ever before!

1. Create a plan

Before you can go after what you want, you have to be sure it’s definitely the right thing for you. Map out what you want to achieve and how you’ll get there. It will make the end goal much clearer.

2. Start with small changes

Once you know what you want, the initial changes don’t have to be too drastic. Ease yourself in by making little changes every day. Wake up earlier, write to-do lists and take time for yourself.  These small changes can make a huge difference.

3. Ask for what you need

Whilst you are taking things into your own hands, you may find that you need the help of others too. To get what you want you can’t be afraid to ask for what you need. After all, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

4. Develop willpower

Knowing what you want and achieving it are two very different things. You have to be prepared to work hard and never give up. Your willpower will be tested like never before. Believe in yourself and persevere.

5. Celebrate progress

No matter how big or small, to reach to your end goal you have to celebrate every bit of success along the way. This way, you will keep up a positive mindset and be all the more likely to get what you want.

6. Accept setbacks

The road to getting what you want is bound to be a bumpy one. Come to terms with the fact that you win some and lose some, instead see it as a new challenge to prove yourself. With this mindset, you will be far more likely to get what you want in the long run.

7. Re-assess your goals

Just because something is what you once wanted, doesn’t mean that it will always be that way. It’s okay to change your mind. Make sure you regularly ask yourself, ‘will this make me happy?’ and ‘is it worth it?’ This way, you will know exactly how to get what you want.

8. Check your circles

To get where you want, you have to make sure you are surrounding yourself with people that help get you there. Remove anybody that refuses to help you move forward, celebrate your success or help to pick you up when you are down. You will be surprised how others can stop you from getting what you want.

9. Create balance

Being determined to get what you want is great, but you have to make sure you aren’t working too hard to get there and neglecting your social needs. Find that perfect work-life balance and you will find your goals much easier to achieve.

10. Be satisfied with what you have

Often, we can become so focused on getting what we want that we forget to appreciate what we have. Take a step back, appreciate what you have achieved and you may find that what you want may already be something you have.

How to Become Memorable in a Noisy World The secret to connecting with anyone.

By Daniel Gefen 

The Internet has introduced  powerful tools to connect millions of people with the simple click of a button.

An email, a tweet, a post. Within seconds, you can reach more people than your ancestors did in a lifetime.

The world has become a ‘numbers game,’ but nobody cares about being a number.

The same tools that you have at your disposal are easily accessible to the other seven billion people on this planet, which means that everyone is being bombarded with emails, tweets, messages and ads on a daily basis.

The way people act online reminds me of how people act when driving their cars.

Normal, well mannered people step into their cars and evolve into insensitive masters of metal.

All of a sudden, everyone else becomes ‘objects’ to avoid, ignore, honk at, shout out, cut off, curse at, etc.

The world has become faceless, but humans crave human interaction.

I started to realize the power of human interaction and developing deep relationships when I started my podcast. It’s amazing what 45-minutes talking to someone can actually do for a relationship. I have interviewed over 65 successful entrepreneurs and make an effort to keep in touch with each of them.

They are all busy people and are probably bombarded with messages from fans trying to connect. But here’s the secret:

They are human beings. And human beings crave deep, meaningful relationships. 

How many times has someone tried to get your attention with the same lazy piece of spam?

If it doesn’t work to get your attention, then why try using it to get the attention of others?

The Internet has made people lazy. It’s so easy to mass message or post quick meaningless things in the hope that a percentage of the masses will react.

Lazy people hope for the best. Successful people work hard to make things happen.

Here are some ways you can become memorable:

  • Instead of posting ‘Happy Birthday’ on someones timeline and getting lost in the masses, take 60 seconds and send them a happy birthday video message. They will remember you for it!
  • Instead of posting useless, mindless one liners,  post something deep and interactive
  • Reach out to people one on one and start a personal conversation
  • Dare I say it—pick up the phone and call people
  • Instead of commenting on other people’s posts with the same old one word replies like “cool” or “#Truth,” put some time into sharing how their post impacted you
  • Surprise people by sending them a gift in the mail

Most importantly, keep in touch with people on a regular basis—at least once every 90 days.

Ask yourself, what makes others memorable to you?

Now go and become memorable!

Understanding Your Socical Currency is the Key to Success

 


Understanding Your Socical Currency is the Key to Success

By Gerard Adams @IAMGerardAdams

The way you value people, and the way people value you, isn’t perfectly measurable. However, we can see trends that occur between different types of people.

Many entrepreneurs, including myself, believe that the people we spend the most time around will dictate who we are as people. It was perhaps best described by entrepreneur Jim Rohn, who stated that we’re the average of the five people we spend the most time with. While the math may not be perfect, the idea is pretty clear. We pick up the habits, thoughts and actions of those we spend time with. If we surround ourselves with hard workers, we tend to pick up their hard-working ethic.

Conversely, the people we spend the most time with are picking up habits from us. If we are hard workers, people will naturally want to keep us close. The closer you look, the more you’ll see that you’re picking up the habits of those close to you — and they’re picking up yours.

While we may not be the average of just five people, we are an average of our circle of influence. The more successful people we know, the more likely we are to be successful ourselves. I like to measure the value of people within your circle of influence with something I call social currency. Social currency is your value, and it can mean everything if you’re striving to be an entrepreneur.

Social currency isn’t a label that says one person is better than another. Instead, it represents your value to the world. By developing your social currency, you can move closer to living the entrepreneurial lifestyle.

Developing your brand.

Entrepreneurs understand the importance of branding. But we can brand much more than a business or an idea. Everybody is their own brand, and they’re trying to sell themselves to other people. We tend to attract certain types of people based on our brand, and we can influence our own value to others by the way we brand ourselves.

There are plenty of ways to develop your brand, but the easiest might be by changing your circle of influence. This can develop your brand in three separate ways.

The first is based on how you interact with others. As you surround yourself with people who live the entrepreneurial lifestyle, you’ll begin to get associated with certain people, projects, ideas, etc. If people know you’re spending time with successful entrepreneurs, it will gradually change the way they view your personal brand.

The second is based on your subconscious development. The more time you spend around entrepreneurs, the more likely you are to pick up on the subtleties that make them unique. You will then tend to act similarly, and this will help fuel your entrepreneurial spirit. Others will see this, and it will be represented in the way you brand yourself.

The third is through content, an idea that I’ll explain more in-depth at a later time.

Your circle of influence.

Your circle of influence is going to be the best way to increase your social currency. The better the quality of your circle of influence, the more social currency you’ll command.

When you think about your circle of influence, who is in it and what you want it to look like, remember that there’s more to a circle of influence than other people. You’ll be responsible for creating a strong circle, and people will be hesitant to join your circle of influence if you aren’t holding yourself to high standards.

If you want to expand your circle, expand yourself. Don’t wait to be surrounded by people who will gradually improve you because of association. You have to start somewhere, and you need to do some of it on your own.

Think about what your current value is, and ask yourself this — would you want to keep you close? The entrepreneurial lifestyle doesn’t happen just out of the blue. You need to work hard to get anywhere, even if your circle of influence offers you the connections you need.

Build yourself as an individual. Think about what sets you apart from others, and begin to develop that. Of course, there are plenty of other steps to take after this, but this is the first step if you plan on getting anywhere as an entrepreneur.

The next step.

Social currency is an idea that doesn’t start and end with your circle of influence. Your social currency is going to be constantly changing, and it requires constant attention if you want to try and maximize your value.

At the same time, your circle of influence isn’t going to be the only way you can change your social currency. As an entrepreneur, you’re going to be much bigger than the people you know. Others will want to see what you’ve done, how you sell yourself and what you can do for them before they buy in.

A big factor that determines your social currency is the content you produce. Content can be just about anything, from a business you create to a blog post you write. The better the content you produce, the more people are going to respond to you. This, in my opinion, is the real key to growing your social currency.

Making sure you’re developing the right content to grow your social currency isn’t an easy task. Just like the path to entrepreneurship, it takes hard work, time and dedication. However, those who are able to commit themselves will expand their own value, and they’ll reap the benefits through the entrepreneurial lifestyle.

Status Anxiety

Do You Suffer From “Status Anxiety?”

By Alex Green

In 1759, Adam Smith inquired in his Theory of Moral Sentiments about why we seek wealth. Is it to meet our basic wants and needs?

No, he concluded. “The wages of the meanest laborer can supply them.” The point of all our striving, he argued, is “to be observed, to be attended to, to be taken notice of with sympathy, complacency, and approbation.

William James, the father of American psychology, echoed this sentiment a century later when he declared that the deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.

We don’t like to admit it, but most men and women are in a near-constant pursuit of higher status.

Psychologists have even identified a new malady, one that afflicts millions. They call it “status anxiety.”

Throughout history and around the world, men and women have always sought status and recognition. But in the modern era, the yardstick is almost always the same: economic success.

More bluntly, money.

The benefits of money and status are obvious: freedom, resources, comfort, time, attention, and deference. A lack of status, on the other hand — even if it is only perceived — can lead to sadness, anxiety, and even depression.

Our capitalist system thrives on the pursuit of status. Entrepreneurs take elaborate risks in the pursuit of great rewards. Consumers buy superfluous products — especially luxury brands — they believe confer prestige. The pursuit of status motivates us to develop our talents, work hard, demonstrate excellence, and achieve worthy goals.

In today’s increasingly affluent society, however, our ideas about what are “essential” constantly change.

For example, consider the percentage of Americans who believed the following items were necessities in 1970:

  • More than one phone – 2%
  • Second television set – 3%
  • Dishwasher – 8%
  • Car air conditioning – 11%
  • Second car – 20%
  • Home air conditioning – 22%

If these were nonessential to Americans 45 years ago, why do hundreds of millions consider them necessities today?

It’s not just that these things make our lives easier and more comfortable. Many folks would feel embarrassed or ashamed to be without them.

Our sense of happiness is based on comparing ourselves to others. Unfortunately, that is a guaranteed recipe for unhappiness.

The problem with making economic success the foundation of personal happiness is that a) you cannot control the economy and b) most companies eventually fail. Needless to say, this undermines job security and financial well-being.

While life will always be uncertain, there is a simple and effective cure for status anxiety: changing the way you think.

Every time we feel satisfied with what we have, however little that may be, we can count ourselves rich.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau insisted there are two ways to make a man wealthier: Give him more money or curb his desires. Or, as Socrates declared as he passed the expensive goods on sale in the Athens agora, “How many things I can do without!”

As for other people’s opinions, whether you get the recognition you believe you deserve is out of your control. But if you haven’t done anything that deserves contempt or disrespect, what difference does it make what someone else thinks?

An obsessive pursuit of status may not just be a waste of time. It could be a waste of a life.

About the Author: Alex Green is the author of excellent books like, The Secret of Shelter Island: Money and What Matters, and Beyond Wealth, that show you how to lead a “rich” life during trying economic times.