Category Archives: Marketing

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.

This is How to Do Things You Don’t Want to Do

 PourVousCustomDesign

By Patrik Edblad

The common denominator of success — the secret of success of every person who has ever been successful — lies in the fact that they formed the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.
 — Albert E.N. Grey

No matter what you want to accomplish in life, it’s going to involve discomfort:

A great career or business requires hard work.

A healthy body needs exercise and foods you don’t necessarily like.

Meaningful relationships need vulnerability and compromises.

In fact, anything worthwhile often requires that you do what you don’t want to do.

And that can be hard.

But it doesn’t have to be.

You Are Not Your Thoughts

I used to take my thoughts very seriously. Whenever one of them popped into my head, I’d immediately identify with it and perceive it as the “truth.”

If a thought told me I was tired and bored, I’d immediately look for a way out.

But I’ve since learned that I am not my thoughts and that my mind is nothing more than a suggestion box.

Because of that, I don’t take my thoughts as seriously as I used to.

And that, in turn, has made a huge difference in my subsequent behavior and the results I get.

These days, when my mind tells me I’m restless and should do something else, I simply thank it for the suggestion and then get back to the task at hand.

Stimulus –> Perception –> Response

It’s never the discomfort that stops you; it’s how you perceive the discomfort.

Your beliefs determine your response, and what you choose to believe is within your control.

You can assign whatever meaning you want to discomfort.

I used to believe it was a signal that I should stop.

These days, I believe it’s a signal that I should keep going.

I’ve decided that anytime I feel discomfort, that just means I’ve stepped into my mental gym and that it’s time for my mental resistance training.

Exercise Your Willpower Muscle

Willpower is a lot like muscle power. The more you exercise it, the stronger it will get.

If you practice it for an extended period of time, you can change your behavior around completely.

You’ll be able to do what others dread doing and to stay away from things that others can’t resist doing.

That level of self-control is exactly what’s needed to become a remarkable person and create extraordinary results.

So, how do you get started?

Practice Voluntary Discomfort

He who sweats more in training bleeds less in war.
 — Spartan Warrior Creed

The best way to practice mental resistance training is through voluntary hardship. Here are a few examples:

  • Underdress for cold weather.
  • Turn off the air conditioning in your house or car.
  • Take cold showers.
  • Occasional fasting.
  • Drink only water.
  • Sleep without a pillow.
  • High-intensity exercise.

These are just a few ideas to help you come up with your personal mental resistance training.

The important thing is that you choose one and commit to it.

And just like in a physical gym, you don’t want to use the heaviest weights right away.

There’s no point getting overwhelmed or injured.

So, start small and then get a little bit every day.

If your willpower muscle is weak right now, it’s perfectly fine to start by making your bed each morning. Or reading one page in a book. Or flossing one tooth.

How to Do What You Don’t Want to Do

If you’re thinking to yourself right now; “I’m not the kind of person who practices voluntary discomfort,” be very mindful of the fact that this is the same voice you want to take control over.

Don’t take it as literal truth. Remember — it’s just a suggestion. And it’s entirely within your power what you do with that suggestion.

If you choose to take action despite what your mind is telling you, it holds no power over you.

You can decide to perceive discomfort as mental resistance training from this moment forward.

And each time you push through the resistance, you’ll notice that you’ll get a little bit stronger.

If you stick to the practice consistently, with time, it’ll become second nature to do what you don’t want to do.

You’ll become a relentless action-taker.

And that’s when you can turn your most desired goals into reality.

If you enjoyed this article, please click the heart so others can learn from it as well!

Patrik Edblad is a certified mental trainer and writer. He helps people use research-backed strategies to become healthier, happier and more productive at Selfication.com. Grab your free copy of his book The Science of Willpower: Proven Strategies to Beat Procrastination & Get Big Things Done.

15 Key Apps For Entrepreneurs

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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?

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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.

The Lost Art of Discipline

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fthepurpleninjette%2Fvideos%2F231427823979497%2F&show_text=0&width=560“>Gaby Diaz-Cervo

A message from an ETR sponsor

Hey, it’s Chad Howse here.

I’m a former 9-5er turned entrepreneur… also a former scrawny amateur boxer turned muscular published fitness author.

But a decade ago I had no money. Actually, less than no money, was in debt, and got out of shape for the first time in my life.

Rather than searching for a ‘get rich quick’ product or workout to get me in shape, I focused on developing discipline.

Nothing else, just creating the habits that the ‘rich, ripped, and successful’ version of me would have to develop.

Discipline, however, rarely endures when it’s dependent on willpower.

Just like your ideal body, discipline can’t be built with motivation alone. It requires a process, plan, and strategy if it’s going to live forever.

That’s what I focused on. I devoured every book I could possibly find on the subject, from theory and philosophy, to solid scientific evidence on what works. I read about great historical figures, guys I wanted to emulate, and realized it wasn’t talent or willpower that made them great; it was discipline.

I got on a routine. I became the same man every day rather than the guy with no money who depended on inspiration to write content and create products.

To be honest, it didn’t take long to turn things around.

After a few months of my discipline program I began to make more money and my body changed in front of my eyes.

Here’s a secret that marketers don’t want to tell you: the program doesn’t matter as much as your discipline in following it.

Discipline makes transformations.

I’m still a work-in-progress and I always will be, but the freedom I have today from stress, from a boss breathing down my neck, and the freedom to travel the world, buy a house, and live life on my own terms isn’t due to intelligence.

I owe it all to discipline. And the more discipline I develop, the more freedom I have in my life.

That’s the greatest misconception about discipline— that it’s confining. In reality, it’s liberating.

But I’m not a naturally disciplined guy. I need a program to follow, some kind of daily guidance that gives me clarity on where my attention needs to be focused.

I’m guessing you’re the same.

In fact, I’ve never met a ‘naturally disciplined person’ in my life.

Everyone I know who’s killing it, struggles. They all struggle. Theodore Roosevelt, John D. Rockefeller, even Napoleon Bonaparte struggled mightily to be the disciplined men that would develop greatness.

And without a plan, you’re out of luck.

That’s why I created The Lost Art of Discipline – a mission to not only build your ideal body, but the life you were meant to live.

Take the challenge that is the Lost Art of Discipline and be the person that even your most ambitious dreams didn’t imagine you’d become.

Tired Of Being Overworked, Sacrificing Your Health, And Missing Out On Time With Your Family?

How to Beat Procrastination

“The mind is a place unto itself, and can make a Heaven of Hell, or a Hell of Heaven.” – John Milton, Paradise Lost

How to Beat Procrastination

By Craig Ballantyne

It was 4 a.m. Time to get up, pet the dog, clear the cobwebs from my mind, and sit down to write. That’s my Magic Time and I can’t waste a minute of it.

But one morning last month, I struggled to get started. Instead I emptied the garbage. Took out the recycling. Packed my toiletries for my weekend travel. Arranged the books on my desk to sit at perfect 90-degree angles. I even shaved. And on a day when I would be working from home!

Finally, I decided to man-up and sit down. I glued myself to the chair (figuratively, of course), and forced myself to write. The first few minutes were difficult, almost excruciating. But then the mental spigots opened and the words flowed. That Zen-like feeling I get from my morning writing spread through me.

This is how you stop procrastinating.

By doing.

Do or do not do. There is no try, young Skywalker. Start now.

I write because that is what I was born to do. I can’t stop writing. But I’ll admit, sometimes it’s awful tough to get started. Some days I need a little extra push to get going. We all do. But once you get that ball of momentum rolling down the hill, it’s tough to stop.

Even the most hardcore marathon runner often struggles with the first few steps on a cold November morning. However, the same runner knows full and well the Boston Marathon is only a few short months away and so they stop trying and simply do.

All of the inertia disappears once you start.

To start is to win.

To start is magical.

To start is spiritual.

To start is to say, “This is it, world. This is what I’ve come to do and you’re not going to stop me, with your siren songs of petty distractions like social media or reality television.”

To start is to almost finish.

But why is it so hard to start doing and stop procrastinating?

Are You Missing Out on Life Because of This Inner Demon?

Just think of all the amazing accomplishments you could achieve if you could just beat the procrastination monster.

According to an article from Scientific American, almost 20% of the population chronically procrastinates, routinely putting off tasks to tomorrow that could be done today.

Frankly, that number seems awfully low. Our tendency to procrastinate, first developed in college pulling all-nighters to cram for exams or finish a term paper, is made worse in today’s world of constant social media updates, email addiction, multitasking, and 24-hour news channels.

But for every minute you spend procrastinating, you miss out on a minute of effective study, a minute of making an impact, a minute of moving towards your full potential.

If procrastination is an issue for you, then let’s change that starting right now. Don’t wait a minute longer in learning how to tame the beast.

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My Simple One Second Secret to Stop Procrastination Every Time

Marketing guru Eben Pagan warns us about getting sucked into obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) loops. An OCD loop might involve checking your email, visiting news websites, checking your website or sales statistics, reading your text messages, and then returning to your inbox to start the loop all over again. That’s how so many of us procrastinate the day away.

But it doesn’t have to be like that.

When I was younger and the novelty of seeing a new sale notification hitting my inbox had not yet worn off, I was guilty of giving in to a powerful OCD loop like the one described above. Fortunately I recognized the problem and over time developed a simple, quick and easy solution to snap out of it and get back to work.

I developed a trigger.

A trigger is exactly that. It’s an action item that triggers you to get back to work.

It doesn’t need to be anything fancy. It doesn’t need to cost money or require another person to help. It just needs to be an easy, yet effective reminder that triggers you to get back to the task at hand.

For me, it was simply having the smallest amount of discipline to open up the Microsoft Word program on my computer.

That was the trigger that snapped me out of my procrastination.

As soon as I realized I was entering an OCD loop, I fought the urge to continue and opened up the word document. It triggered a break in my bad habit and a return to the right actions.

I still use this trick today.

On that morning when I struggled to sit down and write, it would have been easy to continue finding household chores to occupy my time. But that would have put me far off track of my daily goals.

The only thing that saved me was my trigger. When I conjured up just the smallest modicum of discipline to sit down in front of my computer and open up the word document, everything changed.

It was the trigger I needed to return to my writing. From there, each word typed was a victory. Each sentence a battle won. Each paragraph was a huge step in conquering the procrastination demon. Each victory made it easier to achieve the next. I was on a roll.

That’s the big lesson. Action begets action. And it all starts with a simple trigger.

How to Pull the Trigger on the Tasks You’re Avoiding

In their book, Switch, authors Chip and Dan Heath explore the science of building habits. What they found was in order to make something a habit, we simply need to make it easy – and rewarding – for us to take the action.

Having a trigger reminds you to get back on track. Triggers, like brushing your teeth, can you get you back on track and stop mindless eating at night. Turning on loud, energetic music can be the trigger you need to finally start the exercise session you’ve been delaying all morning. Pulling out your checkbook and putting on a collared-shirt could be the trigger you need to finally sit down and deal with your monthly bills.

These little triggers can go a long way.

It’s what you’ll find with all activities that you are procrastinating on. Scientific research supports it. The only thing that helps you overcome procrastination is to actually do the thing you are procrastinating about. That’s it. You must take action.

And it can all be made easier with a trigger. Pull that trigger and you’ll slip back into your right habits with less willpower required.

So how do you stop procrastination? Just start.

Identify a trigger to get you into action mode. And once you’ve started, don’t stop until you’re done. Keep on pushing, start your day with one positive success step. Don’t do anything else until you make progress on something that is important to you!

Today is your last day to STOP procrastinating on our 90% Off ETR University Ballantyne’s Day Sale.

When you join today, not only will you save BIG bucks on all of my success secrets, but you will also get an incredibly valuable FREE gift of a Sales Copy review from me. I’m really looking forward to giving you my feedback.

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About the Author: Craig Ballantyne is the founder of EarlyToRise University and the author of The Perfect Day Formula. His straightforward, sometimes “politically-incorrect” advice has helped millions of people transform their lives both physically and financially. Craig’s secret weapons for success include his personal commandments, his 5 pillars, and his Perfect Life vision. Click here to learn more from Craig so that you can get more done, make more money, and live the life of your dreams.

The Toughest Question You Have to Answer

By Craig Ballantyne

There’s a battle being waged in all of us.

One part of us wishes to remain safely inside of our comfort zone. The other part of us knows we should be brave, step-up, and move out and onward to greater challenges.

Your comfort zone might mean the safety and security of a high-paying job at a major corporation. You make more, and have more, than your parents ever did.

“Don’t you dare risk losing that job,” says the voice of your mother in your mind. Just sit tight until the kids are done college, and then we can think about starting a business of your own.

The other voice you hear, encouraging you to explore greater opportunities, is your Big Self (a fantastic phrase I first heard from my friend and mentor, Matt Furey).

Your Big Self represents what you could truly accomplish in life.

Unfortunately, the real world contains many enemies of the Big Self, and it is constantly delivering reinforcements to your Comfort Zone. These reinforcements come in the way of excuses, negative naysayers, fear, lack of self-confidence or self-control, and the bad habits we’ve built up over our lifetime.

And that is why you are in the same spot today as you were twelve months ago, only just a year older.

Today I’ll show you how to break through the stalemate.

But it will only work if you are willing to set down your weapons and stop protecting yourself for a while. Call a truce on the battlefield. Have each side bring out its best thinkers and have them work together as one on this big thinking exercise.

Recently I made this same challenge to over 150 entrepreneurs at a recent seminar. Over the course of two days, my guest experts and I had stood and delivered complete blueprints for making more money, getting more done, and having a bigger impact on the world.

But I knew that many people in the audience would go home, let life get in the way, and return next year without having made any significant changes.

I wasn’t going to let that happen again, and I won’t let that happen to you.

That meant I had to challenge the attendees. I had to show them exactly how to make the mental changes that would allow their Big Self to win the battle.

After I summarized the best moments of the weekend, I paused for dramatic effect, made eye contact with as many people in the room that dared to look at me, and asked, “Are you really living as your Big Self? Are you being the Limitless Leaders that I know you can be? Or are you letting Little Limitations hold you back from greatness?”

These were tough questions. They are tough on the ego.

No one, particularly relatively successful people, wants to feel like a disappointment. But we need to be honest. Are we doing all we can with what we have been blessed with in life?

And we have one of my mentors, Dan Kennedy, to thank for this. You see, several years ago I attended one of Kennedy’s seminars just outside of Cleveland, Ohio. He covered the topic of internal resistance — something I know is holding back many ETR readers.

Dan said, “The failure to act is much more often the product of inner, emotional resistance than external resistance. To move forward you must give up your story, whether it is excuses about your childhood, lack of education, your ‘bad luck’, your unsupportive family, your low metabolism, where you live, etc., etc.”

………………………………………………………………………
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It’s time to give up your excuses. It’s time to overcome your natural inclinations of holding back and staying in your comfort zone. It’s time to Man-Up.

It’s harsh, but true. As Kennedy explained, what separates the leaders from the strugglers is often confidence and follow-through, both of which can be derailed by internal resistance. That’s when he taught me “The Exercise”.

Answering these questions is tough on the Ego, but the answers could change your life (if you take action on them). Take the following mental challenge:

1) Ask yourself “The Question:”

“Where you would like to be and have known you would like to be but aren’t?”

2) Be brutally specific and honest.

3) Now list why you are NOT there.

4) Next, identify the changes you need to make.

5) Then take massive action!

Don’t let another year go by stuck in the same place!

You must identify the causes of your internal resistance. Ask yourself “Why?” you want something but refuse to act in congruence with achieving it.

Either say “no” to achievement OR dig in and get to the bottom of the persistent incongruence between what you say and what you do. It is OK to admit you are not willing to pay the price – and by doing so, that will stop self-sabotage. Once you know the enemy, then you can work on overcoming it.

Listen, I know Kennedy can be a little gruff and grumpy, but he speaks the truth and has your best interests at heart. In fact, it’s almost like he’s channeling the wise philosophers of Ancient Greece. I’m currently re-reading a book called, “The Art of Living”, which is a translation of teachings from the Stoic philosopher, Epictetus. In it, I discovered this wisdom:

“Now is the time to get serious about living your ideals. Once you have determined the spiritual principles you wish to exemplify, abide by these rules as if they were laws, as if it were indeed sinful to compromise them. Don’t mind if others don’t share your convictions. How long can you afford to put off who you really want to be? Your nobler self cannot wait any longer. Put your principles into practice – now. Stop the excuses and the procrastination. This is your life! You aren’t a child anymore. The sooner you set yourself to your spiritual program, the happier you will be. The longer you wait, the more you’ll be vulnerable to mediocrity and feel filled with shame and regret, because you know you are capable of better. From this instant on, vow to stop disappointing yourself. Separate yourself from the mob. Decide to be extraordinary and do what you need to do – now.”

Take the challenges set forth by Kennedy and Epictetus.

Identify what is holding you back.

Release the brakes.

Become the Big Self and Limitless Leader that I know you can be.

Overcome your obstacles. Defeat your internal resistance. Never give up on what is important to you. So much can be accomplished with a long-term vision and resilience to short term setbacks. If you persist and never give in, you WILL succeed. You can have the life of your dreams while helping and transforming the lives of millions.

Get out there and take action today. Throw the rock of helping into the pond of transformation and watch as the ripples take shape.

Change a life today — starting with yours.

If you need to make a change in your health, start here with my biggest challenge ever to you

About the Author: Craig Ballantyne is the founder of EarlyToRise University and the author of The Perfect Day Formula. His straightforward, sometimes “politically-incorrect” advice has helped millions of people transform their lives both physically and financially. Craig’s secret weapons for success include his personal commandments, his 5 pillars, and his Perfect Life vision. Click here to learn more from Craig so that you can get more done, make more money, and live the life of your dreams.

Do Not Wait!

The greater danger lies not in setting our aim too high & falling short; but in setting our aim too low & achieving our mark.” – Michelangelo

Why You Must Not Wait

By Jason Leister

Waiting for something to happen in your business just plain sucks.

Sometimes you’re waiting to hear back from a prospect or a vendor — sometimes you’re waiting on a payment from a client or a customer.

At other times, you’re waiting on someone to do something that they said they were going to do.

I’ve done more than my fair share of waiting. And when I fall into that trap, I end up feeling really stupid.

I feel stupid because I’ve allowed someone other than myself to slow down my progress. I feel stupid because when I’m “waiting,” often times that’s all I’m doing.

The progress of my business slows because I’m focused on the waiting.

But Waiting Is Not the Problem, It’s a Symptom

Waiting for someone or something in your business really isn’t a problem in and of itself. Waiting is really a symptom of the real problem, which is that you care more about what the world does than you care about what you are doing.

Waiting puts you in the position of caring about the effects of your actions more than moving onto the next action. Waiting puts you in the position of allowing yourself to be molded by the world instead of being the one doing the molding.

Here is the bottom line that you never want to forget…

The only thing you ultimately control in business is what you put into it. Despite what the business gurus tell you, I’ve never met anyone who had total control over what actually happens in a business. Sometimes it might look that way from the outside in. But when you’re on the inside, it simply doesn’t work that way.

So to put your focus on anything but your input is simply misdirected energy. It’s not going to do you any good no matter how hard you try. (And boy, do we try.)

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When you find yourself waiting around in your business, ask yourself, “Why have I chosen to put my focus on the actions of others instead of keeping my focus on my own action?”

That single question might be enough to snap you out of your trance and back into the mindset of a business builder.

The business building mindset is where you are focused on what you are doing. You are focused on the input. You are focused on the recipe. You are focused on things that you can control. You mess with that focus when you start thinking about what’s happening (or not happening) because of what you are doing.

In other words, you reduce your potential success when you get too attached to the results of what you are doing. It’s not that you don’t care what happens, it’s simply that you are not attached to the outcomes in an unproductive way. There is a difference and it is a pretty large one.

If you are waiting for anything in your business, I’d suggest that you simply don’t have enough work to do. Or at least you have not given yourself a long enough list of other productive things to do while the results take care of themselves.

In the absence of your list of important to-dos, you just sit and wait.

How Much Can One Person Accomplish?

I still remember the first week I tried planning out my work and blocking out my time. I basically ran out of things to do before the first day was over! That’s a bit of an exaggeration but it’s in an effort to make my point clear:

Despite how “busy” we say we are, very few of us actually have enough to do. Enough of the right things to do that is.

Instead, our days are filled with busy work and only highlighted with the occasional important activity.

The important activities come so rarely that we feel like we did something special just for completing one. Then we wait around to see what happens because of our “major accomplishment.”

That’s the trap you want to watch out for.

Operating like that is a sure sign that you need to better plan your work. When you decide to stop waiting for success and start pursuing it, you realize that one of the most difficult things to do is to plan enough work to fill your time with important tasks.

It might be hard to believe, but this is actually hard work and requires a lot of discipline in my experience. But it’s work worth doing. Because in the absence of a plan like this, you end up falling into the trap of “waiting” for something.

Wait For No One, Because Waiting is Wasting Your Life

I think a better way to operate is to go in with the attitude that, “You wait for no one.”

The idea isn’t that you should be a jerk and demand that everything happens on your terms. While that might be the stereotypical success personality, who wants to go through life acting like that? You might end up successful, but you’ll also end up alone. And that, in my book, is total failure.

The core idea I want to communicate is that when you’re waiting for someone to do something or for something to happen, forget about it in an instant and take action on something else to build your business.

Let’s say you are waiting on a payment from a client. Days go by and the payment doesn’t arrive. You wait and you wait, but still no payment.

You have two options:

The first option is to wait around and stew about it. Choose this path and you’ll be focusing your energy on a target that will do you absolutely no good.

The second option is to move on and focus on something you actually control. This will keep you in the driver’s seat of your life and your business.

Getting caught “waiting for the world” is a fool’s game. You will never win, because the world is not there to serve you. You are there to serve you.

Are you waiting on something or someone in your business?

Stop waiting, stop stewing, stop complaining.

Just start doing.

About the Author: Jason Leister is a direct response copywriter, internet entrepreneur and editor of the daily e-letter, The Client Letter, where he empowers independent professionals who work with clients. He has seven kids and lives and works in the mountains of Arizona.

After Meeting Anyone

The One Thing You Should Do After Meeting Anyone New

By Michael Simmons

At 24-years-old, Francis Pedraza is the co-founder and CEO of a venture-backed company, Everest. In addition, he is an advisor to 10 tech companies, each of whom he does hundreds of introductions for in return for equity.

It is hard to predict how my Forbes interviews will go. Most top relationships builders are not able to articulate how they do what they do.

Francis does not fall into this camp.

Within a few minutes of talking with him, he had transformed my perspective on relationship building.

The elaborate system he has created allows him to dramatically scale the value he adds to the people in his network.

How could a 24-year-old founder who is busy building a company offer more introductions than venture capitalists whose full-time job is to find and support portfolio companies into which they’ve invested millions of dollars?

Why You Should Share Your Network With Other Entrepreneurs You’ve Vetted

Imagine building a road to an amazing place and then only using it once.

That would not only be a waste; it would be selfish.

You’ve already incurred the cost, and it doesn’t hurt you if other people use it. In fact, it helps to share because you build relationships with other drivers who appreciate your generosity.

Despite the obvious benefits, most entrepreneurs fail to proactively share their networks of vendors, investors, employees, and partners.

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They build it and then let it sit.

If you’re raising money, you talk to dozens of investors until you’re finished. Then, you focus on other networks. The same goes for interviewing dozens of employees and vendors to fill open positions. Once you fill a position, you stop looking until the next time you have a position.

Here’s the problem with the on/off approach: If you don’t always nurture these networks, then they are harder to activate when you need them.

Francis’ insight was to make introductions for other high potential tech companies to investors, designers, and engineers he already knew even when he didn’t immediately need these networks.

Speaking on why he made this decision, he shared two reasons:

  1. Building Relationships With Investors

    “When we raise our next round of financing, potential investors will be less likely to ignore me or act in bad faith, because they know that I’ve built a big network and proven its value.”

  2. Learning From Top Entrepreneurs In Other Sectors

    “By being a trusted advisor to other companies, I broaden my perspective in two ways. First, I become privy to the deepest challenges of other top tech companies. Secondly, I learn what they’re learning as they learn it.”

At this point, most people using Francis’ logic would take an ad hoc process to making introductions when people came top of mind.

Instead, Francis created an extremely powerful system that simplified and scaled his impact.

Focus On Quality Before Quantity

The difference between introducing an investor to a world-class entrepreneur and a talented entrepreneur is tremendous.

Investors earn almost their entire return from one in ten companies they invest in that hit it big.

With this in mind, Francis decided to actively search for and select high potential startups that he believed in that he could advise.

By primarily making only high-quality introductions to startups he had vetted, he could provide more value to investors and learn more from the entrepreneurs.

Why Making Hundreds of Introductions For A Single Company Makes Sense

Finally, instead of doing just a few introductions for each company, Francis does hundreds. To receive funding or to fill open positions requires talking to dozens of people. By only making a few introductions, you’re certainly helping, but you’re not pushing the ball forward as much as you could be given the need and your ability. Here’s Francis’ logic:

The reason I make hundreds of introductions rather than just a few is that fundraising is hugely impacted by momentum. It’s best to fundraise within a short window so that there is a lot interest at once and investors have time pressure. Furthermore, most investment meetings don’t turn into investments so startups need a lot of introductions in order to create momentum and find the needle in the haystack.

In order to scale the introductions you make, you have to organize your network in the right way. This brings us back to the title of the article…

Upfront Segmentation Is Better Than Top of Mind Later

The one thing you should you do after you meet someone is add them to the right cluster (i.e. – segment).

Most people treat their networks as one large connected cluster. The reality is that it is a set of many clusters.

This is critical because of relevancy. When you have a new article you want to share, a person you want to make an introduction for, or a dinner you want to invite people to, there two very likely possibilities:

  1. The opportunities are only relevant for a small segment (i.e., common passion, specific industry, location, etc.) of your network.

  2. Many of the opportunities you come across are relevant to the same few segments again and again.

The beauty of these two points is that if you find the segments that are relevant for your network, you can organize people into lists that you can reference whenever you need to.

Most people completely depend on who is top of mind. The problem is that the brain is designed to forget the large majority of what it’s exposed to. Just because someone doesn’t come to mind, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t many people who should have.

In my experience, by depending on what is top of mind, there is a good chance you’re missing relevant people by a factor of 10.

Because Francis divides his network into very clear segments upfront, knows how he is providing value, and has a tool that allows him to easily view segments, he is able to systematize all of his processes so they take dramatically less time.

Below is how Francis segments the investors in his network:

1. Segmentation

  • Corporate Development

  • Fund of Funds

  • Hedge Funds

  • Venture funds

  • Angel

  • Seed

2. Filtering.

  • Location

  • Fund Size

  • When The Fund Was Started

  • Check Size

To do segmentation, Francis uses social relationship intelligence platform, RelateIQ (see screenshot below). Started in 2013 with $40M+ in funding, the startup aims to use big data to help people build deeper relationships.

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Collect Data On People To Segment, Not Just To Jog Your Memory

With this new approach, you collect basic data for one purpose; putting people in a segment. This stands into contrast with most systems that are purely designed to jog your memory for the future. Most segmenting / tagging systems get mired in complexity; tags that are too similar or no longer relevant. As a result, many give up because the process is too time-intensive. Patrick Ewers, one of silicon valley’s top relationship management coaches and an advisor to Contactually (a platform similar to RelateIQ), helps guide his clients on how to segment their networks. In his words, “Before you go out and tag every single person with every single interest, narrow it down. Otherwise, it becomes a real brute force effort. You constantly have to add and remove people and tags. It’s one of those things that gets stale really fast. It’s like your address book that you never use. The key idea is simplicity.  I recommend starting with only 5 segments.” For too many people, networking is a bad word. It has come to signify individuals who use communication as an opportunity to broadcast what they want from others who aren’t even relevant to that product or service. Relationship building has become the antithesis of this idea. It represents personalized and relevant giving in order to build a relationship. Segmentation, when used properly, is one of the most powerful tools to deepen and scale the most important relationships in your life.

About the Author: Michael Simmons is the co-founder 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)Google+ and his Blog.

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.