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People will do anything for those who encourage dreams, justify failures, allay fears, confirm suspicions, and help them throw rocks at their enemies.” – Blair Warren

How to Leverage Human Nature to Sell More

By Jonathan Fields

We’ve hit that time of year where rumors about the next iPhone are starting to bubble about.

There’s one particular one that’s got people scratching their heads. Leaked cases show a design that looks largely indistinguishable from the iPhone 6 or 6s.

Why is it this interesting, even if you have no interest in the iPhone?

Because it’s about the dance between seduction, status, value and human nature. And, how you might explore leveraging this relationship both for well and for good.

Here’s the thing…

On a purely rational level, when we look to buy something we are looking for value. We want to either solve a problem or experience delight and we want to feel like our money is being well spent.

So far, so good. Except for one little problem.

We are not purely rational beings. In fact, we may well be more irrational than rational.

We want value. But our brains are also wired for status and seduction.

We’re led around by an unconscious bias toward status and seduction.

On the seduction side, we want desperately to be lulled and lured, teased and tantalized. We buy something not just because it’s the best solution to a problem, but because the lines, colors, sweep, aroma or even sound touches some emotion. Because it provokes a reaction. It makes you feel. It triggers a primal call and, often, a memory and a story. An association. And that deeper yearning fuels a compulsion to seek, to want, to need, to have. You don’t need a behavioral background or market research to prove this, just open your eyes. The people and things in your life very likely make the case.

Bundled on top of the near-ancestral pull of seduction, there’s another seemingly irrational compulsion that directs our actions. A wiring that leads us to measure our own success not by some inner, objective metric, but in comparison to the perceived success of others. We are status-seeking beasts.

As Alina Tugend recently wrote in The New York Times, summarizing findings or researcher, Erzo Luttmer:

“…most of us feel better if we make, say, $100,000 if the majority of our neighbors make $75,000 than if we earn $150,000 when most of our friends bring in $200,000.”

This is why living in a place like New York City, where I call home, can be, on the one hand, quite magical, and on the other, maniacally futile and demoralizing. Because, no matter how much you earn or have, you will always be able to surround yourself with those whose relative wealth, power and access dwarfs yours. And, because while a part of this unfortunate wiring is simply “knowing” you’ve got a respectable seat at the status table, the other part is a merciless yearning to “let others know” you’re “of their caliber, too.” You’re worthy. It is a compulsion that is very likely compounded, if not outright driven by another primal impulse, the need to belong.

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So, when a new iPhone is rumored to hit the streets, devotees don’t just line up for hours to be first to get a new device because of improved utility. Sure, functionality matters, that’s the theoretically more objective value side of the equation. That’s the rational brain at work. But deeper down, we’re buying status and seduction. We want something that’s cool and sexy, however we define it. We want something that satisfies that inner comparison Jones. We want to feel like we’ve got the Benjamins to afford it and, while we might not be winning the mobile-tech comparison game, at least we’re in it. And, we want those whose approval and acceptance we seek to know we’re one of them, too. We want the world to know we have the latest device money can buy. And, we telegraph that by whipping out a phone that is observably different than the old model.

At first blush, the notion that our happiness and fulfillment is tied to status and seduction is, well, pretty messed up. We’re not “supposed” to be this way. So, we try to deny it. That doesn’t work, so we try to change it, to train it out of our conscious process. Except, the script that runs these two impulses runs deeper than conscious thought. Changing wiring on that level is a near herculean task that requires extraordinary motivation that most people just don’t have. It’s not impossible, but it requires real work.

You can practice mindfulness, cultivate gratitude and exalt generosity as benchmarks of success. You can shift your lens on what matters and why. These are all a part of my daily practice. They help. A lot. Still…

It’s brutally hard to train the sex and comparison impulse entirely out of your brain.

Are there outliers, folks who’ve learned to live from a place where seduction and status are truly not drivers of behavior? Maybe. But, often it’s accompanied by fierce and enduring effort, along with a removal from the physical and social setting that reinforces these impulses on a level very few people are willing to embrace. On the whole, most of us remain and will remain keenly aware of and fueled, at least on some level, by status and seduction.

Manufacturers and marketers have known this for years, and leveraged these dual impulses to drive consumption, and not always with regard to genuine value or benefit.

And, that’s got me thinking. What might happen if instead of denying or trying to change this quirk of human nature, we embraced it?

What if we turned the primal yearning for status and seduction into an ally?

What if we tapped it to build products, solutions, stories and conversations that leveraged these impulses for individual and societal good? To improve the human condition? Starting with the one human who decides what to do and buy. You!

What if we took more of an Aikido approach to status and seduction?

What if, instead of labeling them as “bad,” we simply saw them as a form of energy that is not only capable of driving behavior, but of being harnessed? What if, rather than pushing against our seduction and status “opponent’s” energy or trying to destroy it, we worked with and redirected it to create better outcomes, not just for us, but for those we seek to serve?

In fact, a handful of change-makers in the cause-venture and non-profit world are beginning to do just that. They’re owning and harnessing status and seduction on a level rarely seen. And, in doing so, they’re making huge strides in fundraising and expanding the impact they can have on the lives of those they serve, and those who help them serve.

Take the now global philanthropic organization, charity: water. Before founding this fast-growth foundation, Scott Harrison lived about the most opposite life you could imagine. He was a club promoter. Status and seduction were his domain, and he wielded them expertly and largely for personal gain. Awakening to a call to re-orient his life, he talked his way onto a floating hospital ship off the coast of Liberia, where he eventually came face to face with the reality of a global drinking water crisis that he saw as solvable. He felt called to do something and, so, started charity: water as a vehicle to bring water to those in need.

He also realized, drawing upon his promoter days, that there was a tremendous untapped fundraising and contribution asset that was being largely ignored in the world of foundations and non-profits; status and seduction. Actually, it wasn’t so much being ignored as it was being targeted in a way that left Gen X and Millennials, the club audience he knew so well, anywhere from unmoved to repelled.

When he decided to start charity: water, Harrison understood the need to also pay almost maniacal attention to the visual brand, the mission, the messaging, the design, the website and the way he told the story both of the people and villages he hoped to serve and of the more subtle, yet powerful benefits of being associated with this next-generation engine of impact. He effectively engineered status and seduction into the brand on a level that hadn’t been seen before. The very same impulses that he’d leveraged on a more hedonistic level in a past life, Scott now tapped to move the seemingly unmovable to a life of deeper and more public service and contribution. As I write this, charity: water reports having funded more than 20,000 water projects, providing drinking water to more than 6,000,000 people in 24 countries.

Point is this…

We spend so much time labeling the evolutionary armature of the human condition as bad, morally or socially repugnant, and trying to snuff it out. There are, no doubt, certain generations-old neural grooves or even outright pathologies that, to the extent possible, can and should be rewired or extinguished, if possible.

But, what of those quirks of consciousness that, while often expressed to the detriment of self and others, just might be capable of being channeled to serve a “higher purpose?”

What if, instead of rejecting the neural predisposition of the masses and working to rewire what most people have no interest in rewiring, we instead learned to harness this quirk of behavior as fuel for meaningful action, service, and contribution?

What if we dropped the labels and, instead, took up the quest to redirect, rather than annihilate the energy that flows through these impulses?

What if we harnessed status and seduction as a path to meaningful contribution?

Is it the best way to get there? Maybe, maybe not. But, as the Dalai Lama famously said when asked if it was okay to serve others with the knowledge that you’ll benefit as well, while the motive might not be as pure, the net effect is still the elevation of others, and that’s a good thing.

Something to ponder as we all explore how to build what we’re here to build, and tell the story in a way that taps our innate conditioning as fuel for positive action and impact.

About the Author: Jonathan Fields is a dad, husband, author, speaker, A-list blogger and serial wellness-industry entrepreneur. Fields writes about entrepreneurship and creativity at www.JonathanFields.com and interviews emerging world-shakers at www.GoodLifeProject.com. His latest book, Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt Into Fuel For Brilliance, was named the #1 personal development book of 2011 by 800-CEO-Read.

Steps To Become Wealthy

“While we are postponing, life speeds by.” – Seneca

How to Become Independently Wealthy

By Mark Ford

We recently received an e-mail from Jorge Izquierdo, Jr., a subscriber who complained that “all the material being covered [in The Palm Beach Letter] is for long-term investing. What about short term? I’ve been trying to free my family and myself from the chains of slavery for far too long now. Show me the truth.”

Behind Jorge’s question lies the assumption that it is possible to acquire wealth through some “short-term” investment strategy.

As I’ve explained before, it’s simply not possible to quickly turn, say, $25,000 into $1 million by investing in stocks. But I have good news for Jorge. He can unshackle himself from “financial slavery,” as he calls it, in a relatively short period of time.

Jorge – or just about anyone for that matter – can achieve freedom from financial slavery in just a few years. It does not have to be a lifelong process.

If you are in this situation, here is what you must do:

First, you must ask yourself if you are willing to give up the hope of getting rich quickly by investing. Are you willing to accept the fact that you won’t go from broke to being a millionaire by investing in the next Microsoft? If you can’t honestly and completely answer “yes” to that question, you might as well go read another analyst… one who will tell you what you want to hear.

But if you are ready, the next thing you need to do is think about what you mean by “financial slavery.”

What does that term mean? Most commonly it means two things:

  • You earn less than you spend.
  • You owe more than you own.

If you earn less than you spend, you are in a constant state of stress. You must put off or partially pay your bills. You must appease creditors. And all the while, your debt is mounting.

If you owe more than you own, you can’t buy a house or lease a car or get a loan from anyone other than your parents. (And what if they are dead or tired of helping you… or don’t have the money?)

Because you are in so much trouble, you can’t even think about taking nice vacations or retiring someday. Instead, you have to worry about losing your job. So you keep working and reading investment newsletters. But as each month passes, your financial situation gets worse.

It’s a miserable existence. But it doesn’t have to last. You can break the chains you feel attached to by simply recognizing and reversing the two “facts” mentioned above.

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Problem No. 1: You earn less than you spend.

Solution: Spend less and earn more.

You can’t break the chains of slavery without hitting them hard with a big mallet. You won’t be able to gain the independence you want in a few years or less by cutting $10 here and $50 there.

My recommendation is to cut your expenses by 30% to 50%.
I know that sounds crazy. And it may be impossible in your case. But don’t dismiss the idea until you hear me out.

The primary factor in how much you spend every month is the neighborhood you live in. Your neighborhood creates the financial culture that presents the spending choices you make. If you live in a community of million-dollar homes, you will be looking at new BMWs and Audis when it comes to buying or leasing a car. When you go out to dinner, chances are, you’ll be spending more than a hundred dollars per couple.

Unless you live in a working-class neighborhood now, you can radically reduce your spending by moving into one.

I have friends and family members in this situation. They live in $350,000 homes in beautiful neighborhoods and drive luxury cars. But the reality is they are broke and getting poorer every month. They refuse to even consider the idea of downsizing because they are simply too ashamed to do so. What they don’t realize is every month they try to “hold on,” it is making them poorer.

Moving to a less expensive neighborhood would be the quickest, biggest, and surest way to bring their spending down by 30% to 50%.

The other thing you must do to improve your situation is to earn more money. You should take immediate steps to increase your income by 20% to 50%. Again, I know that seems radical, but if you want a “short-term” solution out of financial slavery, this is just as important as radically cutting expenses.

Problem No. 2: You owe more than you own.

Solution: Start owing less and owning more.

If you have accumulated a lot of debt, it means that you don’t see debt as financially dangerous. You must accept the fact that most debt you have is bad for you. There are only a few exceptions: mortgage debt when interest rates are low, and business debt when the business is sound and you are not personally liable.

The first step toward debt management is to get rid of every credit card you have, as well as any credit you have with your bankers. Use cash or debit cards for your shopping. Yes, that means there will be lots of things you can’t buy every month. That’s a good thing, not a bad thing.

If you have a lot of existing credit card debt, you need to consolidate it. Then work with a professional to pay it off at reasonable interest rates.
If you are lucky enough to have equity in your home, trading it for a cheaper one (see above) will accomplish two important goals: it will reduce your monthly expenses, and it will give you a chunk of cash that you can use to pay off debt or put aside as savings.

You must also increase what you own. And by that, I do NOT mean cars or boats or furniture or toys. I mean tangible assets that are likely to appreciate. Gold coins, income-producing real estate, and safe stocks belong in this category.

Every extra after-tax dollar you make by taking on extra work or starting a side business should be devoted to increasing your ownership of such assets. None of it should be spent.

Being financially independent is not about having a big house or driving new cars or taking fancy vacations. There are tens of thousands of Americans in that situation today who are financial slaves, just like you. They are in chains because they spend more than they make and owe more than they own. Their stress is just as great as yours, even though they may make more money or have more toys.

Being financially independent means having more income than you need and owing far less than you own.

It means knowing that you won’t be harassed by bill collectors or embarrassed at the supermarket. It means you have money put aside to take care of any emergencies that come up, and it means a savings account that gets substantially bigger every year.

Becoming a multimillionaire takes years. But breaking the chains of financial slavery can be done relatively quickly.

The hardest part is recognizing the chains that are binding you – earning less than you spend and owing more than you own – and deciding to do something serious about them.

Jorge, you have the plan in front of you now. It’s up to you whether you follow it.

Let us know what are you going to do today to get on the right path to become independently wealthy in the comments section below.

Ed Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.

Make A Pledge

“Life takes on meaning when you become motivated, set goals and
charge after them in an unstoppable manner.” – Les Brown

The Pledge

By Craig Ballantyne

When I was young and broke (and cheap and stubborn), I relied heavily on what I called, “Virtual Mentors”. This meant reading every issue of the Early to Rise newsletter, and books, like Dan Kennedy’s autobiography, Unfinished Business. I also consulted a mental round-table of advisors, as Napolean Hill recommended in Think and Grow Rich. My virtual mastermind included Kennedy, Yanik Silver, Bill Phillips, Ted Nicholas, and Michael Masterson.

Today’s book report is a fine example of having a virtual mentor give you the step-by-step success tools you need to stop spinning your wheels so you can get ahead on the fast track to success.

The book is called The Pledge. It was written by Michael Masterson (aka Mark Ford) in 2011, just before he retired from EarlytoRise.com. True to its subtitle, the book delivers a Master Plan for an Abundant Life. Ford was (and is) a multi-millionaire, having already retired twice in his career, before returning to teaching and writing.

There are few men or women that could claim to be a greater expert in success than Ford. He has done it all, not only building great businesses, but raising three successful young men with his wife of over 30 years, having great health and hobbies, becoming a published poet and amateur painter, and all while still getting home on time for dinner (and a cocktail and cigar).

Trust me, he’s been a tough act to follow.

But there’s no use in comparing ourselves to Mark Ford. What really matters is where we are today compared to three months ago, and where we’ll be in three months from now. We must focus on progression, not perfection. We must be dedicated to continual improvement, or kaizen, as the principle is known. Every day we must commit to getting better, every moment we must make the right decisions to take us there.

If you’ve held dreams of success and happiness that you’ve failed to fulfill, if you have an underlying sense that you are underachieving, then The Pledge will help you return to the path of success in your life.

“Your past failures have no bearing on your future,” Ford writes, “And if you can change the way you approach your work, you can change the way you live.”

I’m living proof, having followed Ford’s advice for years (even though sometimes it took me years to implement it).

For example, one of the rules I follow today, getting up and going to bed at the same time each day, was a Mark Ford suggestion that I ignored for years.

When I finally implemented this tip, it had the greatest impact on my all day energy of any habit in my life. It was like having a cup of coffee at 2 p.m. without any side effects. I no longer tossed-and-turned on Sunday evenings, and I wasn’t tired from the weekends on Monday and Tuesday mornings. I was a new man, and I have Ford to thank for this.

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What I love about The Pledge is that it’s not a superficial book about setting vague goals, but instead it delivers a personal master plan for your life. It expects a great deal of commitment on your part, but if you’re willing to hold up your end of the bargain, Ford is willing to show you the exact steps you must take to succeed.

With his advice, you’ll begin to experience results immediately and live a truly fulfilling life. This is not a book about chasing the elusive Four Hour Work Week, although Ford shows us the practical Four Hour Work Day. A four hour work day is something I’ve enjoyed in cities such as Istanbul, Prague, Hong Kong, Sydney, Tokyo, and even Moscow.

One of Ford’s keys to success is the Principle of Accelerated Failure. It’s something I’ve experienced naturally, and benefitted from as a young man.

“The principle of accelerated failure rests on the recognition that we learn the most – in any enterprise – by making mistakes along the way,” Ford says, “The faster we learn critical mistakes, the sooner we acquire the knowledge we need to succeed. In other words, don’t fear failure… seek it out!”

Too often we allow fear to hold us back, from buying our first rental property to starting an online business (where there’s practically no risk). It even holds us back in our personal lives, stopping us from starting an exercise program or talking to that pretty woman or handsome man across the room… and thus potentially missing out on meeting the love of your life.

It’s time to step-up and do what is right for you. The Pledge shows you how. Ford asks you to sign a contract pledging your commitment to your Master Plan. This accountability — to your Virtual Mentor — sets you on the path to success.

Accountability was one of the success pillars that allowed me to achieve my dream of acquiring Early to Rise, and accountability will allow you to achieve your goals, too.

Signing the pledge is like committing to your Rules in the Perfect Day Formula. Don’t skip this step. It is far more important than you could ever imagine. Fear of obligation is natural, but Ford shares a powerful quote explaining why this responsibility actually frees you up to live the life you desire.

“The irony of commitment is that it’s deeply liberating — in work, in play, in love,” writes Anne Morris, “The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around like rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.”

My second favorite tool that Ford shares is his goal setting technique. After helping us build our Master Plan, he puts forth a breakthrough exercise that helps us build the foundation we need to support our journey.

It starts with sharing your 7-Year Goal that you created as part of your Master Plan. In the book, Ford uses the example of a client that wants to achieve a net worth of $4 million. In order to achieve this goal, the client must take action and can break down the success steps into four process goal timelines. It works like this:

7-Year Goal = $4 million

First Year Goal = Eliminate $36,000 worth of debt

Monthly Objective = Land a part-time job netting $36,000 by year-end.

First Week’s Objective = Get my first job interview.

First Day’s Task = Write letters to CEOs of my top 10 “dream job” companies.

If this exercise reminds you of the old joke, “How do you eat an elephant?” (Answer: One bite at a time.), I’m not surprised.

Brian Tracy, another virtual mentor of mine, wrote a book about this idea called, Eat That Frog. His message was that no matter how big our goals, success starts with taking action. We must break down big (and sometimes seemingly impossible) tasks into smaller and smaller action items that we can accomplish this month, this week, and today. And then we must get started. It’s that simple.

“One of the most important actions you can take when you are master planning your life,” Ford writes, “is to monitor where you have been and where you are. The simple step can help you achieve practically any goal you have set for yourself.”

Mark adds, “A recent study from DayTimer.com concluded that American workers with the highest incomes and most success in the workplace are those who have written goals. These superstars also have the habit of writing daily task lists prioritized in a way to help them achieve those goals.”

But Mark also issues a warning. “On the flip side, of the more than 70 percent of workers who don’t write down career or financial goals, only 9 percent accomplish what they set out to each day.”

That’s the power of making the pledge, signing the contract, writing out your goals, and carrying around your Rules. Don’t miss out on the importance of this simple, quick, cheap, and easy success tool. There’s no need to struggle. There’s no reason you can’t accomplish your big goals and live a life that leaves a legacy.

Read (or re-read) your copy of The Pledge today. Sign a contract of commitment to your future. If anything gets in the way of that objective, do not participate in these distractions. You have to stand up for what is right for you at this time, and that is how you will succeed.

People With High IQ

From Your Quora Digest

What do intelligent people do with their phones?

Nela Canovic

Nela Canovic, Productivity hacker, writer, entrepreneur in Silicon Valley

81.4k ViewsMost Viewed Writer in Smart People
  • They switch their phone setting to Airplane mode when they want uninterrupted time to (a) sleep, (b) do deep work, (c) spend time with their family and partner.
  • They use it to set not only a morning but also a bedtime alarm, to get themselves used to a daily ritual that easily becomes a positive habit, which can significantly impact their day (to be more productive) and night (to sleep more effectively).
  • They keep track of their daily physical activities with either a built in app (such as the iPhone Health app) or a downloadable free app (such as Runtastic) that monitors their steps, total time spent being physically active, calories burned, distance covered.
  • They use an app to train themselves to meditate on their own for 10 minutes, to calm their mind, clean their brain from cluttered thoughts, improve focus and concentration (for example, the Headspace app).
  • They don’t take selfies (because let’s face it, no one really cares except you).

Rules To Follow

“Discipline and freedom are not mutually exclusive but mutually dependent because otherwise, you’d sink into chaos.” — Paulo Coelho

7 Rules Everyone Should Follow

By Craig Ballantyne

Andy and I sat in the restaurant of the Four Seasons in Denver on a sunny Thursday afternoon. He had driven down from Boulder after we had been introduced through a mutual friend.

I was impressed. He was a sharp, energetic young man of thirty years old. He had already built an incredible business, and it wasn’t hard to see why. He was curious, thoughtful, and methodical. He wasn’t afraid to put his ego aside to learn, and he flattered me by asking questions about life as if I had any of the right answers.

Having had more failures than success in life, I found myself telling him more about what not to do in life than what he should do. That was until he asked about creating rules for his life.

“Craig, when I read about your idea for creating rules, I was a little confused,” he said. “What is this going to do for me?”

“Well, Andy,” I replied, “Did you stop at any red lights or stop signs on your way here?”

“Of course,” he said.

“Well, imagine if you didn’t. In fact, imagine if there were no red lights, no stop signs, or no traffic laws of any kind. Think about the chaos that would cause.”

“Red lights put order and clarity into our travel, just like our personal rules put structure into our lives,” I said. “Humans thrive on structure. We need to earn our freedom.”

“But when you give someone complete and utter freedom, it often dooms them into demise. Take, for example, Prince, Michael Jackson, Mike Tyson, or Raphael de Rothschild (an heir to the wealthy Rothschild family that passed away due to a drug overdose). These men all had too much money, power, and freedom, and without structure, they eventually squandered their gifts and wealth.”

And so I insist you put into place Rules for Your Life. Should you bristle at that term, consider these alternative terms:

Your Operating System
Your Personal Commandments
Your Code of Conduct
Your Personal Life Philosophies

They all describe the same thing, a way to establish boundaries in your life and to set behaviors to which you aspire. If you have not read my 12 rules for life, I encourage you to do so here.

“But Craig,” you’re thinking, “How do I set Rules for my Life?”

First of all, I believe that you already have many rules for your life. You live a certain way, you have good habits that you follow, and you project a certain persona upon the world.

You’ve simply never sat down and put these rules — your operating system — to paper.

Let me guide you on how to do this. There are seven must-have rules for everyone. You can choose to add a few more on top of these seven, or simply start with these.

Rule #1 – Be consistent to bed and consistent to rise

Establishing a consistent bedtime and wake-up time seven days a week is the greatest thing you can do to have consistent all-day energy levels. Of course, there will be a couple of nights per week when you stay up late. That’s fine. But you must never stray too far from your wake-up time. Don’t sleep in. That sets off a vicious cycle of not being able to fall asleep the next night and feeling tired for the following two or three days. Instead, wake up on time and compensate with a mid-day nap or go to bed earlier the next night.

Rule #2 – Be healthy

Everyone should have a health rule. It might describe your eating philosophy (Paleo, vegan, etc.) or perhaps the type and frequency of exercise or stress reduction you do (“I take a one-hour hike in the fresh air three times per week” or “I lift weights three times per week for twenty minutes” or “I never miss a morning meditation session of 10 minutes”).

Rule #3 – Be productive in the morning

To get ahead in life you need to consistently work on what matters. The best time to do that is in the morning when you are without interruptions or distractions. Set a rule that you work on your number one priority in life for at least fifteen minutes after you wake-up. That could be Bible study, working on your finances and figuring out a plan to make more sales, or spending that time in exercise to regain your health. Fifteen minutes might sound insignificant, but done six (or seven days) a week for months on end brings incredible results.

Rule #4 – Be focused on building your wealth.

ETR’s founder, Mark Ford, taught us to become wealthier every day, even if it is just by a few dollars. And so we should all have a rule that helps us do so. For example, a sales professional might have a rule that “I make 5 sales calls before lunch every work day.” A writer might choose to “write 1,500 words before 2 p.m. each day” (Stephen King follows a similar rule, for example). Whatever your profession, there is a way to structure a wealth building rule that gets you closer to your financial freedom.

Rule #5 – Be aware of what NOT to do.

It’s important to know and act on your number one priority in life. It’s almost equally as important to know — and avoid — the things you should not do. If you don’t believe me, just ask one of the world’s wealthiest men.

“The difference between successful people and really successful people,” Warren Buffett once said, “is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

Your rule might be “No drinking alcohol during the work week” or “I avoid checking personal email until after 7 p.m.” or you might have a rule similar to my 6th rule that says, “I do not engage in confrontations with anyone, in-person or online. This is a waste of time and energy. If I have caused harm, I apologize and fix the situation. And then I take a deep breath, relax, breathe out, and re-focus my efforts back on my work and goals.”

Rule #6 – Be social.

Warning: Many people won’t need this rule. However, for some us, we sometimes need to be reminded to ‘come up for air’ from our work and spend quality time with our friends and family. Don’t tell me you haven’t been accused of working too much and ignoring important relationships. Even the most social amongst us could probably benefit from a reminder to rekindle old friendships that have gone dormant.

Rule #7 – Be good.

Finally, set in your code of conduct a rule about how you give back to the world. For example, you might say, “I volunteer two hours per week at the local humane society” or “I serve on the board of directors at my church every year.”

This might be a great place for you to institute an aspirational rule, where you aren’t yet living it consistently, but you know it would do you — and many others — a world of good.

When you tell the world the way you want to act (i.e. by sharing your rules with others), you’ll force yourself to live in accordance with your rules because no one wants to be thought of as a hypocrite.

That’s why I’ve made my 4th rule that states, “I act polite and courteous, and I do not swear.”

Honestly, I don’t act polite and courteous all the time, but I want to and so I made it a rule and I told the world. That is how you get accountability and improve. And you have every right to call me on this the next time you see me breaking my rule (I’ll appreciate it!).

As I shared these seven rule guidelines with Andy at our meeting, I could see his eyes light up with understanding. This template made it easier for him to design the right structure for his life.

My rules are not your rules. Please understand that.

But my template will help you build your rules and give you structure so you can earn your freedom, and have the amazing life you both desire and deserve.

Do You Surround Yourself with The Right People


Surround Yourself With People Who Challenge Your Thinking

By Kevin Daum @KevinJDaum

It’s nice to have people around who support you and are of like mind. Agreeable people boost your confidence and allow a certain level of relaxation. Most of us develop a stable of people with whom we like to work. We know their styles, and they know ours. It’s comfortable and expedient. It is easy to find a rhythm, and it works. Unfortunately, that level of comfort can stall the very learning and innovation that can expand your company and your career.

It’s nice to have people agree, but you need healthy conflict and differing perspectives to dig out the truth from a group-think and ideation. If everyone in the group has a similar point of view, your work will suffer from confirmation bias, rarely breaking boundaries and creating often unnecessary failure.

Take a look at your own network. Are your contacts the same ones you’ve had for years? Are they all in the same industry? Do they share your point of view on most subjects? It’s time to shake things up and get uncomfortable. As a leader, it can be challenging to create an environment in which people will freely dissent and argue, but as my good friend and colleague Amilya Antonetti says: “From confrontation comes brilliance.”

Here are five tips for engaging people who will expand your perspective and increase your success.

  1. Identify where you are stale. Actively seeking conflict is not an easy thing for most people. Many spend their lives trying to avoid arguments and heightened discourse. There’s no need to go out and find people you hate, but you need to do some self-assessment to determine where you have become stale in your thinking and approach. You may need to start by encouraging your current network to help you identify your blind spots. Additionally, make a list of the five people who have made you most uncomfortable in your life and list the reasons why. Then use the list to create a picture of the ideal opponent for your way of thinking.
  1. Go where the battles are. As people get more confident in their abilities, they often create habits that limit the way they source ideas and information. Fox News and MSNBC bank on this philosophy. Seek out social networks and groups that are outside your normal way of thinking.Use LinkedIn groups to find diverse perspectives. Pursue the writers of posts that make you react strongly. Find the people who make you uncomfortable and invite them into your conversation.
  1. Engage in friendly debate. Passionate, energetic debate does not require anger and hard feelings to be effective. But it does require strength and assertion. Once you have worthy opponents, set some ground rules so everyone understands responsibilities and boundaries. Establish structure to your discourse so people can feel safe. If people are worried about negative repercussions, they will hold back or, worse, disengage completely, and then you’ll be back to the same stale environment. Remember, the objective of this game of debate is not to win but to get to the truth that will allow you to move faster, farther, and better. When that happens, everyone wins.
  1. Check in regularly. Fierce debating can get emotionally brutal, particularly when strong personalities are involved. It doesn’t take insults and name calling to make people feel small and upset. Make sure you check in with your adversarial colleagues to make sure they are not carrying the emotion of the battles beyond the battlefield. Break the tension with smiles and humor to reinforce that this is friendly discourse and that all are working toward communal success. A good way to reinforce the objectivity is to actually switch sides in the debate. It’s hard to take it personally when you can argue on behalf of your opponent.
  1. Share rewards and gratitude. The purpose of all this hot and stressful discourse is to achieve success for everyone. Make sure that all that are involved in the debate are amply rewarded when the goals are reached. Let your sparring partners know how much you appreciate them for being fierce and vulnerable. The more appreciated you make them feel, the more they’ll be willing to get into the ring next time.

3 lessons learned from Xenios Thrasyvoulou, Founder & CEO of PeoplePerHour at #FounderWarStories Breakfast in NYC By Ariele Krantzow

This past Friday morning, May 6th, Xenios Thrasyvoulou sat down with a newly caffeinated crowd of startup founders in a co-working space in New York City’s SoHo and talked about his experiences beginning the platform we all know today as PeoplePerHour.


1) The Biggest Obstacle Xenios Faced Starting PeoplePerHour:

I asked Xenios what the biggest obstacle he overcame? He talked rattled off a couple issues like being days away from not be able to pay the rent and a lack of technical abilities on the team. He finally led us to his conclusion that the biggest challenge he faced in the early stages was finding top talent to leave a stable job and join an early stage startup, before it was cool to join a startup.

2) Common Misconceptions in the Startup Community:

It’s sexy to start a startup today, there are incubators, accelerators, an abundance of VC money, and mentors everywhere. Startups can get lost in following convention and getting too much “advice”. The phrase heard most often is “never give up”, but knowing when to throw in the towel is a painstaking experience and is often done too late. His answer is pretty simple. If your business has the Micro fundamentals (happy, paying customers who come back for more) and the Macro fundamentals (understanding the current and future industry trends) right you should keep going. If it doesn’t it’s time to move on.

Xenios recently wrote a post on his own blog “To Quit or Not to Quit” where he talks about his theory more in depth.

3) Startups Obsession with Venture Capital:

Startups talk about Venture Capital funding all of the time, often it seems that it’s the only conversation that founders are having. VC is good, and necessary but founders often fall into the trap of believing that getting funded is the goal. Xenios pointed out to our audience that startups should never forget that getting funding is just the beginning, you always need to be innovating and working on making their businesses PROFITABLE, after all, they’re starting a business.

Watch Xenios talk about Startups and VC


Sign up to find out about future #FounderWarStories events!

Leadership and Women

We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” ― Winston S. Churchill

One Simple Way to Get More Women in Leadership

By Robyn Scott

Of the powerful crowd that gathered in Davos last year to discuss the world’s challenges, 17% were women. It’s a shocking figure, especially given that the World Economic Forum, to its credit, offers companies free tickets for women in their delegations. When one considers the critical challenges discussed — inclusive growth, gender parity, education, creativity, and climate change, to name a few — 17% is frankly, in 2015, embarrassing. Incidentally, there was much talk of artificial intelligence this year. By some estimates, at current rates, we will close the human computer intelligence gap in around 30 years. At current rates, we will, by contrast, close the economic gender gap in around 80 years.

Still, even such eye-watering figures would not have persuaded me to write about gender. The enthusiasm I feel about wading into the women-in-leadership debate is akin to the enthusiasm I feel about unpacking the dishwasher. Ones options, as a woman, are invidious. Either talk with great indignation: it’s hard not to be indignant. Or act with little impact: it’s hard individually to have impact on so tangled a problem. Or do a bit of both and try to forget about it: mostly it’s easier just to get on with trying to lead things yourself. The last option is not as much of a cop out as it sounds. New research shows that mentioning the gender bias can actually increase discrimination against women.

What prompted me to write about gender is, ironically, an experience unrelated to gender, which happened in a rare gender-equal corner of Davos: the Young Global Leaders (YGLs) group.

Ahead of the Annual Meeting, the YGLs had a one-day gathering, beginning with a session on the power of generosity in building impactful communities. The session was given by Adam Grant, a Wharton professor, bestselling author and expert on giving. He has sound and surprising data showing that being generous actually helps the giver succeed professionally.

Prior to the gathering we’d all had to submit “asks” for help. Directly after Grant’s inspiring talk, around 100 of these asks were pinned, thematically, on boards around the room. We were given about twenty minutes to wander around the room and write down our offers under each ask. Introductions, ideas, time commitments etc. The YGL team cleverly reminded us each to photograph the offers we had received, explaining the boards would not be preserved. In other words, our generosity — or lack thereof — would not be preserved either.

Four days later, at the end of the Davos week, the YGL team convened our group for a wrap-up. The “offers” data had, in fact, been preserved. We were presented with a scatter graph of who had offered most, the size of the dots beside names reflecting the number of offers that person had made.

Now, it’s worth noting that the YGLs — as I and many other beneficiaries can attest to — are a very giving group of people; much more so than the immodest name might suggest. And remember that we had all just been primed by the talk from Grant, on why giving is not only good for others but also for ourselves. Even so, the range in giving was amazing. Think the solar system, less the sun. Most were in the vicinity of illegitimate planet Pluto.

Seeing this “generosity gap” vividly illustrated was a sobering moment. The two biggest givers — incidentally two amazing women, Elaine Smith and Mariéme Jamme — put the rest of us to shame. Of course, there are many reasons why generous people may not have made offers. Perhaps they were preparing for a critical meeting. Perhaps they intended to follow up later. But Elaine and Mariéme are known to be generous. The data was probably pretty reflective of general behavior.

The reality is that some people are consistently much more generous than others.

Which — as I walked through one suit-filled Davos corridor after the next — made me wonder if we are worrying about the wrong metric when we call and hustle for more women speakers.

Perhaps we are worrying about the metric that’s hard to change, when there’s a more powerful metric that is also much easier to change.

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The Ungiving Gender Metric

Okay, so not all business conferences are 17% women. But the vast majority I’ve ever attended are in the 15–30% range. This figure, the relative number of women, is hard and slow to shift. Even harder to shift is the number of women speakers: generally around 0–25%. Of course, both figures are being increased. But the gains in attendees are in single-digit percentage increments. As for speakers, the gains we tend to see are one woman on most panels, versus a woman on only half of panels. It’s hard to cheer.

So maybe we should think not about how many women on are speaking, but about which women are speaking.

The Giving Gender Metric

Let’s do some rough conference mathematics:

  • Say, on average, there is one woman on every four-person panel.
  • And say, after an averagely attended panel, the four speakers are each approached by about 10 people asking for help, advice etc.
  • Assume five of those who approach the one female speaker are women. (Any woman, or man, who’s spoken at male-dominated events will know that women disproportionally approach women speakers. So even at male-dominated conferences this figure holds.)
  • Now imagine the speaker can potentially help three of the five women who ask for her help.
  • Let’s also imagine that the female speaker has an opportunity to nominate another female speaker. There are very few conferences I’ve spoken at where I haven’t been asked (or had the opportunity) before or afterwards, to suggest other women.
  • Now because there’s on average only one women speaker per panel, and because there’s such a big range in people’s generosity, whether that one woman speaker is generous makes a massive difference to the gender battle.
  • If the female speaker is generous she will probably help, inspire and form a connection with four other younger women. Plus, she will probably nominate another one or two female speakers.
  • If she is ungenerous, she will probably help no one and, importantly, no women. Her only contribution will be to represent that stagnant one-woman-per-panel stat.

To be generous and/or…

So what to do? Well, the obvious message might seem is to knuckle down and be more helpful. We’ve all taken a card, promised someone to do something, and dropped a ball, or balls, to use a gender-inappropriate metaphor.

Of course at conferences, as in all work environments, it’s often just not easy to be helpful. Everyone is on a mission, particularly at a high-level gathering. I asked one friend, who had recently joined a prestigious institution, what his main Davos insight had been. “Discovering how awful it is for women to have men constantly looking at their breasts,” he said, in reference to the badge eye-balling.

But it is possible. When I questioned Adam Grant on who he knew to be incredibly generous, despite being busy, he immediately named Sheryl Sandberg, Jacqueline Novogratz and Kat Cole. Now these are women with a thing or two to do. Countless people they already know clamor for their attention. Yet, still, they manage to be generous to new people they meet.

If Sheryl, Jacqueline and Kat can do it, everyone else can do it.

Richard Branson said at the re-launch of the B-Team — speaking about the sustainable development goals — that because there are some who won’t lead, those who will lead must do more. To paraphrase him, because there are some women who can’t lead yet, those who can lead must help more women.

But there’s a quicker and complementary solution to being more generous ourselves.

… to help others be generous

If women (and men) promoted not just the competent women they knew, but the most generous competent women they knew, it would make a huge difference.

We all know Elaines and Mariémes. Getting one of them on a panel, means you help half a dozen other women.

Such promotion shouldn’t be hard. Grant has shown that generous people are often more successful. But it’s worth being really deliberate. Firstly, for the unfortunate reason that — perhaps because women are now so sought after in speaking roles — some women get away with deeply self-centred and narcissistic behavior. Secondly, because the most consistently generous women (and men) are much more generous than others. Our YGL sample suggests Pareto’s 80/20 rule applies.

As a first step towards helping the most giving women I know, I’ve created a Twitter list. I’ve included people whose generosity is blind to how useful someone is to them, and which I have seen, experienced or heard about. I’m sure I’ve left people out, but it’s a starting point. And, by definition, those women named will name others.

About the Author: Robyn Scott is a social entrepreneur and author. She is Co-Founder of Mothers for All, which teaches entrepreneurship skills to AIDS orphan caregivers, and Brothers for All, which helps former inmates and vulnerable township youth learn technology, entrepreneurship and leadership skills, and to become positive agents of change in their communities in South Africa. Her work and writing has been featured in the Financial Times, the BBC, Forbes and Fast Company. To learn more about Robyn click here.

Measure Your Life

How Will You Measure Your Life

By Craig Ballantyne

Clayton Christianson’s book, How Will You Measure Your Life, barely needs reading beyond the title to make an impact. It’s a question I ask myself all the time and one that I’ve taught my coaching clients to use as well. Recently one of my top students emailed me her thoughts on how she uses this mindset to focus on what matters.

“Craig, at one point you referenced a question… something along the lines of ‘in from 5 years — or 5 months — from now, will this problem matter? Will it affect you or anyone else?’ It’s one of my grounding questions. Other ways that help me through tough times and to stay focused are:

1. Gratitude — I’m grateful for the situation no matter how bad because there will always be a lesson for me as long as I stay open to it
2. Be the Light. Give. You can’t out give the Universe.
3. This too shall pass… that’s my mantra these days.”