Tag Archives: business

10%Better To Win

Influencive

 


Be 10 Percent Better to Win

By Betty Liu @BettyWLiu

 

You’ve read about being 10 percent happier, but what about being 10 percent better?

One entrepreneur, the highly successful and driven Kevin Ryan, founder of Business Insider, Gilt Groupe, MongoDB, and many others, says in order to succeed, you only need to be 10 percent better.

If you doubt his opinion, Ryan told me you need to look no further than Google.

In the latest episode of our Radiate podcast, Ryan notes: “I think one of the mistakes that people make [is] they think their idea is not groundbreaking. And by the way, most ideas are not groundbreaking. Google was a terrible idea when you think about it. It was just a search engine; there already were seven. Theirs was a little bit better. That’s it.

“They had the idea, and the way of doing the search engine was a better way of doing it. And so the results probably 10 percent of the time were fundamentally better. Ninety percent didn’t change, but 10 percent was [better]. And that was enough.”

Hearing this is a relief. You mean I don’t need to build a whole new type of rocket like Elon Musk to become a billionaire? Or invent a whole new electronic device like Steve Jobs?

The more I thought about what Kevin said, the more I realized how absolutely right he was. Most of us think we need to create the next big thing to succeed, and we become frustrated when every single idea seems so inadequate. When I first had my twin boys, my sister and I–ever the budding sister entrepreneurs–thought of a baby gifting business, since both of us were awash in baby drool and diapers all day long.

But when we scanned the internet, there were already dozens of gifting sites just like ours. And they were pretty damn good. Motivation sapped, we hung up the idea after a few sketches and late-night brainstorming sessions. Besides, did we really think we were the only ones with this great idea?

When I think back on it, we were just too inexperienced to understand that precisely because there were so many companies with the same idea out there, ours was actually a good one. And in fact, thinking about it some more, many of the smashing success stories you read about are companies that simply improved on what others were doing:

  • Facebook: Remember Friendster or MySpace? Mark Z just made social networks better.
  • Microsoft: There were half a dozen operating systems already from IBM, Atari, and others. Bill Gates just made his better.
  • Starbucks: Coffee shops were everywhere (that’s why venture capitalist Alan Patricof declined to invest. Oops). Howard Schultz made his spot a little more comfy.
  • Apple: BlackBerry was already making a pretty good phone. Steve Jobs made his iPhone better.

Now that I’m starting a company of my own for real–no diaper ideas this time–I’m taking Kevin’s observation to heart. How do we make our site and network for professionals 10 percent better than what’s already out there? If people are already going to other sites for help with their careers, what can we do that’s different?

That’s exactly what our small team is focused on right now. However, trying to figure that out is not 10 percent harder, it’s 100 percent harder. It seems like an unfair mathematical equation–put in 100 percent of the effort for a 10 percent improvement, but when you’re trying to be the Kevin’s of this world, that’s the kind of math that adds up.

Is There a Shortcut to Success

“One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.” –John C. Maxwell

And that means learning from someone who’s already been there.

You need a guide
For years as a writer, I struggled to get noticed. I blogged and nobody cared, tried to write books no one would read, and failed to motivate myself to work. I wanted a publisher but didn’t know anyone in the industry and didn’t have any readers to show for my work. I was stuck.

What I needed was someone to show me another path. It didn’t have to be a shortcut. I was just tired of the long road to success — because it was leading nowhere — desperately wanted to know what was missing.

In any great story, there is a point in the journey when the hero meets an obstacle he cannot overcome. This is the moment when the guide arrives. This is the essence of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey: you cannot succeed without someone wiser to show you the way. Frodo needed Gandalf. Luke needed Obi-wan. And you and I need a mentor.

Sure enough, in my own journey, that’s what happened. I met a handful of people who acted as guides in helping me become an author, speaker, and entrepreneur. My dream became a reality within a matter of 18 months. But this wasn’t because I hustled — it’s because I found a guide.

And you know what? I didn’t work any harder in those 18 months than I did in the previous seven years. But I did work smarter — not because I was any smarter, but because someone showed me a better way. I met the right people, connected with the right networks, and practiced my craft in the right way. In other words, I found a shortcut.

But maybe you don’t like thinking of success this way. I certainly don’t. It’s embarrassing to admit I got a little lucky, that I was in the right place at the right time, that it wasn’t just about the hustle. But that’s the truth. And I think we need to acknowledge this reality.

How to find a mentor
How do you find a guide, or in today’s terms, a mentor? It’s not as easy as we’d like. First of all, mentors tend to be busy people. So getting in front of one will take work. People move around so much these days, and so many things, including our careers, are constantly changing. It stands to reason, then, that your mentor will not just be one person, but a team of people.

In my book, The Art of Work, I call this an “accidental apprenticeship.” The idea here is that if you pay attention to your life and the people who are in it, you will find there are those around you right now whom you can learn from. In that sense, the best mentor is the one that’s right in front of you.

Still, you’ll want to be intentional about getting into a relationship with this person. So there are a few steps I recommend following that have worked well for me and that I’ve seen others emulate, as well:

Make your first ask a small one. In other words, don’t lead with, “Will you mentor me?” Instead, ask for a few minutes of their time, offer to buy them lunch/coffee/whatever.

Make it all about them. Ask them to tell their story. Ask specific questions about choices they made in their own success journey and why. In other words, flatter them to death. Nobody is immune to this kind of treatment, and it certainly beats the awkward alternative. Come prepared with questions, and try to talk as little as possible. If you show up informed and interested, you will be both engaging and memorable.

Take notes. When you meet with this person, write down everything they say. Honor their wisdom by capturing as much of it as possible. I recommend using a notebook and pen over a phone, just so that it’s clear you’re not checking your email or texting your buddies.

Follow up. This is perhaps the most important and most often overlooked secret to getting into relationship with influencers who can eventually become part of your team of mentors.

I meet with a lot of people and even tell them how important this is and still see on average about 80% of people never follow up. What I mean by this is a simple thank-you email for the person’s time, or even better: a copy of the notes you took to show that you really did listen and take to heart their wisdom.

Become a case study. Hands down, this is the best thing you can do to earn the attention of an influencer. And if you do this consistently over time, you will get people interested in mentoring you.

Take some piece of advice this person has given you (or published in a book, blog post, etc.) and apply it. Demonstrate that this stuff works and tell the world about it. The reason this works is fairly obvious: you’re making the mentor look good.

Again, this goes back to making it about them. Don’t offer empty flattery; just show that you’re someone worth investing in. Do this enough times, and people will be lining up to give you their time, attention, and ideas. Because the truth is nearly everyone wants to help someone who is going places, so they can feel responsible for that person’s success.

Is this really how it works?

I realize this may come off as manipulative or even sound a little unsavory. So allow me to address a few potential objections:

Objection #1: Don’t influencers just want to help people out of the kindness of their hearts?

Well, maybe. But they’re busy. And so when push comes to shove, they’re going to invest in people with promise, not takers who seem to make everything about themselves. Your best bet is to be remembered as the ambitious person with lots of questions who was eager to learn, not the know-it-all who was more interested in herself than the person with experience.

Objection #2: Are mentors so egotistical that the whole thing has to be about them?

No, they’re probably not all ego. But we all love to feel important and valued once in a while. And when seeking someone’s help or advice, appeal to this side of them, not their more noble generous side. As you earn their trust, you will see more of this side. But in the beginning, assume they are only interested in helping themselves. And make it worth their while. I’m sure many influencers are very kind and generous people. But it’s better to lead with humility than arrogance.

Objection #3: Do I have to be so strategic? Can a relationship be an end in itself, and not a means to get something out of people?

Of course, a relationship can be an end in itself. But the truth is most of us, whether we admit it or not, want something out of a relationship. And that something could just be love or acceptance or maybe even guidance. Just because you want something from someone doesn’t necessarily cheapen how you approach them.

And in that regard, yes, I do think you have to be strategic. Many of us are extremely busy. So if you don’t make intentional space for people to guide you, then you will likely drift through life, disappointed and disillusioned as you watch others succeed in things you wish you could achieve.

My advice? Don’t be so strategic it stifles the relationship. But be intentional with your time and focus it on those who will give you a return on your investment. I guarantee you this is how your would-be mentors are thinking.

Avoid the scarcity mindset
My friend Mary told me when she was first starting out as a writer, she asked an author out to lunch. “How do you get published?” she asked. The person wouldn’t tell her. She said those were her secrets and that Mary would have to find out for herself.

That day, Mary vowed that if she ever made it as a writer, she’d share everything she learned with other aspiring authors. A few years later, I called her asking for advice, and she made good on her promise.

Shawn Coyne, long-time New York editor, told me a similar story. Back in the day, nobody in publishing shared anything. There were no guidebooks on how to be an editor. He had to figure it out all on his own. Once he did, instead of hoarding his knowledge, he decided to share it in a book, blog, and podcast. And this refusal to succumb to the scarcity mindset changed everything.

When we let go of our perceived scarcity and embrace our actual abundance, it changes so many things:

Scarcity kills our creativity. Abundance expands it.

Scarcity makes us afraid. Abundance makes us brave.

Scarcity pushes people away. Abundance attracts.

It can feel a little risky to embrace this mindset, this idea that there are guides out there who will help you and opportunities for success yet to be uncovered. But it is a much better way to live than to assume the alternative: that everyone is out to get you and there is no way you’ll succeed.

And once you do experience this abundance, you will have an opportunity to help others, which is one of the greatest rewards of success. This is why I feel so responsible for helping other writers make their own journey towards getting published.

Of course, I tell them it will take hard work. But I also teach them the rules of the game and how to improve their chances of success. You can’t just work harder. You have to work smarter. Stop trying to manage your time, as my friend Rory Vaden says, and instead learn how to multiply it. Finding the right guides to help you is an integral part of that process.

The three shortcuts to success
So how does this work? Well, keep in mind that I teach this stuff to hundreds of students at a time over the course of a couple of months, but the following are the main highlights:

Shortcut #1: You can get to where you want faster if you follow in someone else’s footsteps.

Find a guide or mentor you can learn from and emulate, even from afar. This is the difference between those who continuously struggle and those who find a faster way to succeed. Humble yourself and trust that there are those out there who want to help you.

Shortcut #2: Invest in opportunities that grow your capacity.

In other words, don’t waste years trying to figure things out. Instead, sacrifice time and money to accelerate your learning. That might mean taking a course, hiring a coach, or working for free for a certain period of time in exchange for experience.

Shortcut #3: Change your location. When opportunity is sparse, move.

That might mean moving across town to a co-working space where more people are connecting in person. It might mean ponying up to go to that industry conference where all your peers will be. Or it might even mean relocating to a place where there are more people doing what you want to do.

The point is geography matters. And chances are there’s an opportunity closer than you realize. You just might have to move towards it before it will come closer to you.

Do these things, and you will see your luck increase. I promise. You can’t just sit around and wait for things to happen — for those mentors to come find you or for opportunities to fall in your lap.

Luck, of course does happen on occasion, but it’s better to look for luck than wait for it. Because luck is often hiding in the hard-to-reach places that most people are too timid to approach.

Who knows? Maybe as you scan the horizon for the right opportunities, you just might see a shortcut.

About the Author: Jeff Goins writes books and helps writers get their work out into the world. He’s the bestselling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Jeff also authors a weekly newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

Why Rich People Hate Trump


From Bill Bonner, chairman, Bonner & Partners: It’s back to Europe. Back to school. Back to work.

Let’s begin by bringing new readers into the discussion… and by reminding old readers (and ourselves) where we stand.

Small and Lonely Group

As a Diary reader, you join a small and lonely group.

But we know something others don’t.

We—and apparently only we—understand the real cause of our economic malaise.
What malaise, you ask?

Well… how could the richest, most technologically advanced, and most scientifically sophisticated economy stop dead in its tracks?

The rate of economic growth has gone steadily downhill for the last 30 years. By some measures, after accounting for the effects of inflation, we’re back to levels not seen since before the Industrial Revolution.

And how could such a modern, 21st-century economy make the average person poorer?

When you measure actual inflation, rather than the government’s crooked numbers, the median U.S. household income is 20% lower today than when the century began.

And why would our modern economy concentrate wealth in the hands of so few, so that only the richest 1% make any real progress?

You may also ask a question with an obvious answer: Why are the richest and most powerful people in the country overwhelmingly supporting Ms. Clinton in the presidential race?

You find the answer to all these questions the same way: Follow the money.

Record Haul

Ms. Clinton is raising record amounts of money—$80 million in a single month.

Big corporations, banks, military contractors, rich people—all are pitching in to make sure Hillary is our next president.

Why?

Because she promises to protect the status quo.

That, of course, is what government always does. A free economy is a precarious place for wealth. It is despised by nearly everyone—especially the rich.

In a truly free market, the process of “creative destruction” can’t be controlled. New wealth is born. Old wealth dies.

Naturally, people with wealth and power try to use government to get more wealth and power… and to stop the creative-destructive process. They want to protect what they’ve got already. That’s why the real role of government is to look into the future and keep it from happening.

Hillary stands like King Canute, promising to stop the tides of economic history.

What’s this got to do with money?

Let’s ask another question instead: What is the source of Ms. Clinton’s campaign pile? Whence cometh all this lucre?

“It comes from rich people,” you will say.

But where did the rich get so much money?

Ah… that’s where it gets interesting.

We remind you of the context: So far this century, only the rich have gotten wealthier. Naturally, they are keen to see the system that gave them—and them alone—such great wealth continue.

Old Money, New Money

The key to understanding it all is the money system itself.

The money you spend today is the money that President Nixon inaugurated on August 15, 1971.

That’s when he reneged on America’s promise to convert foreign creditors’ dollars to gold at a fixed price of $35 per ounce… and broke the last link between the dollar and gold.

Nixon’s new money looked, for all the world, like the old money. It seemed to work just like the dollar always did. And the most distinguished economist of the era—Milton Friedman—advised Nixon to put it in place.
Subtle… slippery—the difference between the old dollar and the new one went unnoticed for 40 years.

Old dollar? New dollar? Who cared?

Even now, most of the world has no idea what happened. But we, dear reader, are beginning to connect the dots.

Here’s the basic difference: The old gold-backed dollar represented wealth that had already been created. You got more dollars as you created more wealth.

Money was real wealth.

But this old money was hard for the authorities to control. They said it was uncooperative. Intransient. And stubborn. They wanted a new kind of money… and a dollar they could manipulate (to make a better economy, of course).

So, the new dollar was created. And this new dollar was not based on wealth, but on debt.

It was not backed by gold. And it was not connected to the real wealth of the economy.
Instead, it was brought into being by the banking system—as a credit. It increased as people borrowed and went further into debt, not as they grew wealthier.

The more they borrowed, the more they could buy. This gave the economy the appearance of growth and prosperity. It allowed millions of Americans to increase their standard of living, even as their salaries stalled.

But every purchase put people further into debt…

Between 1964 and 2007, credit expanded 50 times.

And in 2008, the credit bubble burst.

More to come…

Reeves’ Note: The big corporations, banks, military contractors, and rich people backing Hillary Clinton are just apparatchiks of what Bill calls the Deep State… a nebulous group of elites who have infiltrated the far reaches of the American government.

Bill exposes this unelected group of insiders, and offers a “prep guide” to protect your wealth and privacy from its intrusion… in this urgent warning.

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.

Mistakes

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

The Dumbest Mistake That Smart People Make

By Michael Simmons

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

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

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

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

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

These disadvantages are collectively known as the curse of knowledge.

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

1. Help employees think like owners

Jason Duff, founder and CEO of COMSTOR Outdoor

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

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

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

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

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

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2. Put on your welcome face

Ryan Simonetti, co-founder of Convene

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

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

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

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

3. Follow the NORMS of objectivity

Rohit Anabheri, founder of Circa Ventures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Put on your coaching hat

Benji Rabhan, founder & CEO of Apollo Scheduling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Forget motivation. Stop demotivating.

Sevetri Wilson, CEO of Solid Ground Innovations

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

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

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

6. Give the conversation over to the employee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The power of this approach is that it:

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

Positions myself as a resource rather than a combatant.

Empowers the person to productively work through the issue.

8. Sandwich your feedback and spread it out

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

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

1. Tell them what they’re doing well.

2. Tell them what specifically needs to improve.

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

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

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

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

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

Aaron Steed, CEO of Meathead Movers

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

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

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

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

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

10. Show a funny video before giving feedback

Kay Koplovitz, founder, USA Network and Syfy

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

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

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

Share Your Gifts To The World

How to Stop Holding Yourself Back

By Bedros Keuilian

A lot of people have the E-brake on.

Here’s what that means.

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

You blame your co-workers.

You blame the people you hired.

You blame the marketing or sales team.

You might even blame the potential customer.

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

You think you need…

  • Better closing skills

  • A slicker sales funnel

  • A more compelling offer

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

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

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

You’re throwing the fight.

You aren’t giving your best.

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

I can tell.

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

And I know when a person has real marketing problems…

…and when a person has self-sabotage issues.

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Bedros Keuilian 
Founder, FitBodyBootcamp.com,
Fastest Growing Fitness Franchise in America

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

And you do, too.

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

But it’s not your fault.

Let me explain.

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

That’s because the car has been neutered.

Likewise, most people have a neutered subconscious mind.

They are holding themselves back.

They’ve got the E-brake on.

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

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

You have value to add to the world.

You have lives to change.

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

Just like Craig.

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

Craig was wise enough to know that he needed help.

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

You need help releasing the e-brake, too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

That negative belief system can be crippling.

It’s one that has held back Craig.

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

Our childhood experiences shape us, and they shackle us.

You might know the feeling.

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

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

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

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

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

I failed at things on purpose.

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

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

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

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

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

I pulled my punches.

I threw that fight.

It took years for me to get over it.

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

I gave myself permission to succeed.

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

That’s how I dropped the E-brake.

Join me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everything I instruct him to do, he does.

He takes action.

He works on the skills he needs to improve.

He practices his presentations more than ever.

He asks for feedback.

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

And you can too.

Join Craig.

Join me.

Release the brakes.

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

And then you need to take massive action.

You don’t need more education.

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

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

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

Get feedback. Fail forward.

And do it again and again.

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

…And you’ll go faster and faster.

Trust me.

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

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

How To Increase Your Brand

 


Why Entrepreneurs Should Turn Their Expertise into a Book

By Assuanta Howard @astapubl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shark Habits in Your Life

Why You Need Shark Habits in Your Life

By Dan John

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

Three statements stood out:

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

Each of these is true. They are right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coach Maughan said good habits.

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

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

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

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

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

Low on gas? Fill it up!

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

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

Once. One bite. That is a shark habit.

Daily Shark Habits

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

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

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

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

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

One bite.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shark habits eliminate clutter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I bought 16 of those shirts.

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

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

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

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

Shark habits save time. Shark habits save mental overload.

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

I think weddings are VERY important, for example.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everything here was important:

Hard Work
Vacation
Beauty and Bliss
Protection
Air

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

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

Shark Habits and Health

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

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

Shark Habits and Longevity

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

He had the answer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exercising 100 minutes a WEEK adds seven years to life.

So…
Start fasting.
Start walking.

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

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

Make yourself a slave to shark habits.

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

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

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

Did you do the job?

If not, why not?

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

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

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