Tag Archives: people

Understanding Your Socical Currency is the Key to Success

 


Understanding Your Socical Currency is the Key to Success

By Gerard Adams @IAMGerardAdams

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

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

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

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

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

Developing your brand.

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

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

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

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

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

Your circle of influence.

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

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

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

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

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

The next step.

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

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

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

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

Status Anxiety

Do You Suffer From “Status Anxiety?”

By Alex Green

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

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

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

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

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

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

More bluntly, money.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Can Do This


by Lawrence Powell

I can do this! Those are four little words, but they carry a lot of weight when you choose to do what is right in God’s sight. For instance, Matthew 5:44 tells us to “love your enemies. Bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Those commands may seem hard, but 1 John 5:3 tells us, “His commandments are not burdensome.” Let that sink in a moment: His commandments are not burdensome! In other words they are not irksome, oppressive, or grievous!

God does not ask us to do hard things; He asks us to do impossible things—things that cannot be done outside of Jesus Christ. But whenever God asks us to do something that is impossible, He also anoints us to do it. He provides the will, the means, and the grace to do everything He commands us to do. His anointing will break through every obstacle we may encounter.

Wayne Stiles said this: “We won’t experience the joy of God’s power if we keep running from impossible situations.” If God asks impossible things of us, He plans to do the impossible for us. God will lead you and guide you in such a way that transformation is the end result. God may allow you to go into a fiery furnace, but you will come out with a testimony, fireproof and triumphant!

What happens when we avoid hard things? The answer is, hard things come to us. Have you ever tried to escape something that was difficult only to run right into it? There’s a class that you’ve got to take in the school of the Holy Spirit, and that is Hard Knocks. But look in the mirror and tell yourself, “I can do this!”

Difficulties arise because we need to learn to confront life from a different perspective that comes with a new set of values. When we walk contrary to the way of the world, there will be difficulties. Our friends won’t understand us. It’s as if we’re speaking a foreign language. We’re talking holiness; they’re talking ungodliness. We’re talking righteousness; they’re talking unrighteousness.

Difficulties also exist for our growth potential. God will stretch us: This can be painful at times, because it requires leaving our comfort zones.

Scripture is full of examples of people who didn’t want to do what God told them to do. Moses struggled with God’s command to confront Pharaoh about freeing the children of Israel. And Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh, so he purchased a ticket to somewhere else. He ended up in the belly of a big fish until he repented. Then God delivered him, and he went on to Nineveh.

Jesus said, “Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls; for My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Note: “My yoke is easy”…but it’s still a yoke. “My burden is light”…but it’s still a burden. The good news is we don’t have to carry it alone.

Here are five things you can do through Christ, when faced with difficulties:

1. Be determined to do God’s will: When Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:30-46), He struggled in regards to the bitter cup, wrestling with the purpose that the Father had set out before Him–so much so that blood, like drops of sweat, poured from Him. Yet He said, “Not My will, but Your will be done!”

2. Obey the Lord, no matter how silly or difficult it may appear: In 2 Kings 5:1-14 we read about Naaman, a valiant man, a champion among his people. The Bible says Naaman was a leper. He was also a proud man. He had heard about a prophet in Israel and decided to go to him for a healing. So he left with his entourage to see Elisha and when he arrived at the place where the prophet resided, Elisha didn’t even come out to greet him. Instead, he sent his servant who told him, “Go down and dunk yourself seven times in the Jordan River.” When Naaman heard those words, he was insulted! Dunk in the dirty Jordan? Are there not better, cleaner waters? He was doubly insulted that the Man of God had not come to him personally. But thank God, He always has someone with good sense in the midst! As Naaman turned to depart in his anger, some of his servants said to him, “This is a small thing that the Prophet asks of you, to go, dunk in the water. What have you got to lose?” So Naaman humbled himself and did as he had been instructed by Elisha…and he was healed!

3. Keep your eyes on Jesus: Hebrews 12:1-3 says, “Let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross…” Everything within you might be fighting to do the right thing, while everything that is wrong is pulling at you: Tell that person off! Lie to your brother! Cheat on your taxes! But just declare, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” When you keep your eyes on Jesus, you will never go astray!

4. Expect God’s grace to do what God requires: In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Paul speaks of his thorn in the flesh, a problem that troubled him night and day. He went before the Lord three times and asked, “Take this away from me!” But, instead, the Lord gave Paul a revelation. And that revelation is just as valid for you and me today. God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in your weakness.” God’s got grace for everything you and I might encounter in life. And that grace, my friend, is all sufficient!

5. Enjoy the blessings of faith and obedience: James 1:22-25 says, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” The blessing comes not just by hearing the Word, but by doing it. And when you do the Word, you will enjoy the blessings that come from the Lord!

These principles will help you live victoriously in whatever situation you face. When difficulties come–and they will–stand on the promises of God. Declare “I can do this!”

The Immigration ban

While Tim Cook has yet to publicly address the immigration ban that’s beginning to rile a restive tech industry into speaking out against newly elected President Donald J. Trump, he did send an email to staff explaining Apple’s position. Read More

via Apple CEO Tim Cook sent an email to employees about the immigration ban — TechCrunch

7 Things Really Successful People Never Do

What differentiates those who are successful from those who are not? There are lots of ways to approach that question, but one of the most powerful is also one of the most simple.

It’s a matter of habits. In business and in life, if you truly want to succeed, there are some habits that work and there are other habits that never should be repeated.

If you’re not as successful as you want to be and you know you can do better, copy the habits of those who are successful.

Just as important, eliminate any of your own habits that are holding you back. Here are seven top candidates — habits that successful people never allow:

1. Believing you can please everyone.

Once you truly understand that it’s impossible to please everyone, you learn not to even bother trying. It’s nothing but a recipe for disaster, misery and frustration — and one of the biggest keys to failure.

2. Repeating what didn’t work the first time.

Whether it’s in business, a job, or a relationship, successful people do not repeat the same mistakes. If it didn’t work the first time, they don’t try again expecting a different result. Successful people know that mistakes are for learning, not for repeating.

3. Accepting short-term contentment over long-term value.

Successful people know that things take time, and it’s the daily grind that in the end will get them to their dreams. It’s the small painful steps you go through day by day that will benefit you in the future. If you can make it through the pain you will get to the gain.

4. Compromising themselves to fit in.

Successful people never try to adjust themselves to fit in to the crowd. They understand that who they are is what they are, and they don’t try to change themselves for others. The bad news is that if you want to succeed, you are not going to fit in with everyone. The good news is that the great ones never do.

5. Trusting something that looks too good to be true.

No matter how great something looks on the surface, successful people do their due diligence and make sure that what they are looking at has actual value and is worthy of their time. They know that when something looks too good to be true, it probably is.

6. Taking their eyes off their vision.

One trait virtually all successful people share is focus. They never take their eyes off their visions, dreams and goals; they do what they need to do and they do it with meticulous determination. People who are successful know where they are going, and because they do, they succeed. It’s as simple as that.

7. Disconnecting from reality.

Who you are on the inside should be what is reflected on the outside. The moment there is a disconnect between the two, there is dis-ease within yourself. Success requires that you bring all parts of who you are — inside and out — and that you keep everything in sync. It isn’t easy, but the people who are most successful never fragment themselves to be successful.

Start today to examine your own habits, determine what’s leading you toward success and what’s in the way, and make the changes you need to — for the sake of your future.

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.

Shark Habits in Your Life

Why You Need Shark Habits in Your Life

By Dan John

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

Three statements stood out:

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

Each of these is true. They are right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coach Maughan said good habits.

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

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

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

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

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

Low on gas? Fill it up!

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

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

Once. One bite. That is a shark habit.

Daily Shark Habits

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

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

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

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

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

One bite.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shark habits eliminate clutter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I bought 16 of those shirts.

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

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

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

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

Shark habits save time. Shark habits save mental overload.

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

I think weddings are VERY important, for example.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everything here was important:

Hard Work
Vacation
Beauty and Bliss
Protection
Air

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

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

Shark Habits and Health

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

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

Shark Habits and Longevity

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

He had the answer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exercising 100 minutes a WEEK adds seven years to life.

So…
Start fasting.
Start walking.

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

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

Make yourself a slave to shark habits.

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

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

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

Did you do the job?

If not, why not?

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

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

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

How to Close a Deal

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WEALTHY

12 Rules for Closing the Deal

By Grant Cardone

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

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

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

How To Face Your Problems

“Set your alarm to go off 10 minutes earlier than usual. By getting a 10-minute earlier start, you tend to remove the ‘urgency’ many of us experience as soon as we wake up. You’ll feel less harried, less hurried and a bit more peaceful.” – Gary Halbert

How to Tackle Your Problems Head On (4 Steps)

By Leo Babauta
We are, all of us, amazing at avoiding things.

Our minds are less “thinking machines” than they are “avoiding machines.” And the incredible thing is that we aren’t even usually aware that we’re avoiding thinking about something.

I’ll give you a few examples:

  • Right now you’re reading this article but probably avoiding the difficult thing you don’t want to think about.
  • We are constantly checking messages, news, feeds, notifications … to avoid doing something we don’t want to face.
  • When we’re facing difficulties in life, we try to tell ourselves that’s it’s OK because (fill in the blank), or get busy with some activity or numbing agent (like alcohol) so we don’t have to face the difficulties.
  • When a problem comes up, our reaction is to want to go do something else, put it off.
  • We put off paying bills, doing taxes, dealing with long emails, dealing with clutter, because we don’t want to face these difficulties.
  • We put off exercise because it’s uncomfortable.

In fact, there are thousands more examples, every day, that come up and that we don’t even notice, because our minds switch to thinking about something else.

Try this right now: pause for a minute and think about what difficulty you’re avoiding thinking about right now.

You will either notice a difficulty you don’t like, or your mind will quickly turn to doing something else before the minute is up.

What you’ve done is part of what I call the Face Everything Technique … which I’ll explain in a minute, after we talk about why avoiding everything is an ineffective strategy.

Avoidance Doesn’t Work

Our minds want to run from whatever discomfort, pain, difficulty we’re facing … and this is a good strategy for temporarily not having to deal with difficulty and pain. So in the present moment, we might feel some temporary relief.

But what it does is relegate us to a life of running. A life of distraction and never facing what ails us. We keep ourselves busy, but never learn to deal with what’s inside us, what’s in front of us.

This means we are at the mercy of our fears, of our discomforts. We are like little children who don’t want to do any hard work, but want the latest shiny fun thing.

This results in not working on the important work (or at least putting it off until it starts to get painful). The same is true of exercise, healthy eating, finances, clutter, relationships, and more.

In the end, we usually have to deal with these things, but they’ve just gotten worse. It would have been better to face them early on, when they weren’t such a big deal.

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The Face Everything Technique

This technique is based on the idea that it’s better to be aware of things, and to deal with them like an adult, instead of running.

And if we do, none of it’s that big of a deal.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Create awareness by asking, “What am I doing right now?” Throughout the day, set reminders or put little notes that remind you to ask, “What am I doing right now?” The answer might be, “Checking Facebook,” or “Switching to a new browser tab,” or “Eating some chips.” Something simple and mundane like that, but just ask yourself what you’re doing, to start to bring awareness.
  2. Next, ask yourself, “What am I avoiding?” When things get difficult or uncomfortable, we automatically switch to something else. We run. We avoid, like crazy. You’re doing it all day long, but not realizing it. Ask what you’re avoiding: some fear, some difficult task, some difficult emotion, some discomfort, or just staying present in the current moment? Name what you’re avoiding.
  3. Now face it. Just stay with this fear, discomfort, difficulty, in the present moment. Not your story about it that you’re telling yourself in your head, but the actual physical feeling in your body in the present moment. How bad is it? You’ll find that it’s No Big Deal. Stay with it for a little longer. And a little longer after that — challenge yourself.
  4. Take appropriate action. Now that you’ve faced it and have seen that it’s not such a big deal, you can act like an adult rather than a little child: you can decide what the best action is right now. If you’re afraid of doing some task, but you’ve faced it and seen that the fear is not such a big deal … you can remind yourself that the task will benefit you and others, and is much more important than your little fear. If you’re avoiding a difficult conversation with someone because you’re angry, you can see that the anger and offense is not such a big deal, and you can talk to the person calmly and appropriately, with empathy and compassion, and figure out a solution.

Of course, not all problems will just evaporate using this method, but I can tell you that you’ll be able to face many more things as you practice this method. You’ll get better at dealing with discomfort, instead of running from it as most people do. You’ll get better at not procrastinating, and doing uncomfortable tasks. You’ll be more present and more willing to stay in the moment rather than needing distractions all the time. Not overnight, but with practice.

You might have the urge to dismiss this article, to avoid practicing this technique. That too is avoidance, and I urge you to face it this moment.

About the Author: Leo Babauta is the owner of ZenHabits.net, a website devoted to providing clear and concise wisdom on how to simplify your life. He’s also the author of, “The Power of Less.”

How to Fulfill Your Vision

Keys to Fulfilling Your Vision
by Lawrence Powell

Sight is a function of the eyes; vision is a function of the heart. Some people have eyes to see, but they have no vision. Faith is the ability to see farther than your natural eyes can look. Vision makes the unseen visible and the unknown possible. It is the bridge between the present and the future; without it, we perish or go unrestrained. The vision includes perimeters. When you understand your calling, you will know that every good idea is not a God idea. There are some things and some people that you will need to avoid when you are clear on vision. If you want to be wise, you’ve got to walk with the wise. And you have to walk with the visionaries if you want to have a clear vision.

Vision is seeing the ultimate purpose of God for your life. Often were so determined to do our own thing we head down the wrong path; that will always bring us to a Damascus Road experience. Remember Paul, a man who thought he was doing the work of God, but in reality was opposing Gods work? What got him on track? His encounter with God on the Damascus Road.

God has a vision for each of us. He that hath begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). Jeremiah 29:11 says, For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future. Vision gives us a clear sense of purpose and direction. What is it that you want to do with your life? As believers in Christ, we should have a vision beyond where we are right now. It doesn’t matter how old you are: you should have a vision for tomorrow.

Vision helps us to set meaningful goals and keep things in perspective. It helps us to avoid being defined by circumstances and people’s opinions. People will try to define and limit you. Don’t allow it. Stop believing the negative things people say. See yourself as God sees you as a citizen of the Kingdom, seated together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Stop seeing yourself as broken, busted and disgusted! If that’s all you can see in your future, then that’s all you will ever have.

There is much that we can learn from the prophet Habakkuk. He was discouraged with the nation of Israel. The people were double-minded, walking with God one day and turning their backs on Him the next. Habakkuk went to God about it, and the Lord gave him a vision. He needed that vision to bring him hope and purpose. Sometimes we need the same!

Let’s look at the principles involved in visions, as we consider Habakkuk’s experience in Habakkuk 2:1-4:

1) Pray: If you don’t know what your vision is, get in touch with God. Talk to your Creator. Proverbs 20:5 says, The purposes of a person heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out. Proverbs 19:20-21, says, Many is the plans and purposes of a person’s heart, but its the Lords purpose that prevails. You might think you’re headed in one direction, but God says, I’ve got a different plan for you. So get quiet before the Lord. God doesn’t want you to live aimlessly. He will teach you and show you the way to go if you let Him (Psalm 32:8).

2) Identify your passion: Habakkuk 2:1 says, I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart and watch and see what He will say to me. Vision is often birthed out of a burden God places on our hearts or from a personal experience or particular problem. Some people see a problem and discover they have a passion to resolve that problem. What are you passionate about? Godly passion is the key to discovering your vision. Standing watch has to do with being intensely attentive; it also involves separation from crowds, people, and distractions. Why is this necessary? Because your vision is uncommon. You are uncommon!

3) Write the vision: If it was important to God that Habakkuk write out the vision and make it plain (v.2), then you should do it as well. Remember, out of sight, out of mind. And if it’s out of mind, you’re not doing anything about it. At first, your vision might not make a lot of sense to you, but write down what you see and hear. A vision that is not written will be a vision that is soon forgotten. A written vision gives you something that you can look at, pray over and declare. Writing your vision is an expression of your faith.

4) Run with the vision: Habakkuk was told to run with the vision, not run from it (v.2). Some people get a vision, then get scared and back off. But if God has given you a vision, He wants you to run with it. Your vision must be your constant focus. You must wake up in the morning with it and dream about it at night. Your activities must be in line with the vision to which God has called you. But be aware: If God has called you in one direction and you’re moving in another, then you need to get on track with the vision. Live for it every day. Vision + Action = Realization.

5) Rest in Gods timing: This is the most difficult, yet most important thing to do! Though it tarries, wait for it, because it will surely come… (v.3). God’s timing and ways are rarely the same as ours. Waiting on God can be quite challenging because we’re impatient. We want things now; however, our lives must line up with Gods desires in His timing. We must be careful not to allow impatience to lead us astray like it did with Abraham and Sarah. Isaac was in the mind of God. But Abraham and Sarah, given the impatience that is often born out of delay, said, Maybe God wants us to help Him out. So they schemed and planned, and as a result, they produced Ishmael. Whenever we allow impatience to take the lead, it will produce Ishmaels in our lives, too.

6) Don’t give up: Wait for your vision to unfold. It will manifest. Wait without murmuring or complaining. While you wait, serve faithfully in the Kingdom. Often your vision will unfold in stages. Everything doesn’t happen overnight. One door leads to other open doors. Be sensitive, and you’ll be in the right place at the right time. Don’t hang out with people who aren’t going anywhere. If you do, you’ll end up in the same place nowhere! Instead, get with people who can speak into your life, encourage you, help you set the stage, and figure out some strategy they will help you to get where you need to go!

7) Live by faith: …but the just shall live by faith (v.4). We must live our faith and live by faith. That’s the Christian edict. We find in Scripture that we live, walk and stand by faith. When God gives you a vision, it will be God-sized! If it requires finances that you don’t have, God will supply them; wherever God guides you, He will provide for you. Faith without works is dead. Remember, the blessing is in the doing, according to James 1:25. Keep this in mind, my friend, as you go ahead in life to fulfill your vision.