Category: Success

Whatever You Do, Don’t Follow Your Passion

Concept: Don’t “follow your passion”, develop expertise
Book: So Good They Can’t Ignore You Cal Newport

I regret that I’ve given the career advice “follow your passion” to others before. I’ve become convinced that “follow your passion” is actually terrible advice.

Entrepreneur Mark Cuban agrees with me. Mark calls “follow your passion” the “worst advice you could ever give or get”. Along with real world experience, the turning point for me on the question of passion was Cal Newport’s book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You.

Has “Follow Your Passion” Made us Happier with our Careers?

Newport begins by detailing the findings of Amy Wrzesniewski, a professor at Yale. Wrzesniewski researched how workers view their careers. She found that “the happiest, most passionate employees are not those who followed their passion into a position, but, instead those who have been around long enough to become good at what they do”.

Things become more interesting with Newport’s look at the growth of, what he calls, “the passion hypothesis”. According to Google’s Ngram 2 viewer, authors didn’t use the term “follow your passion” until the 1970 Richard Bolles book, What Color is Your Parachute? The phrase grew steadily in popularity thereafter, used more and more often throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s. But, then the phrase spiked into 3X greater usage in the 1990’s than the previous decade.

The result of this trend on our overall satisfaction with our careers? We are more unhappy with our careers than ever. Today, only 45% of Americans say they are satisfied with their careers compared to 61% in 1987. 64% of young people say that they are actively unhappy with their jobs which is the worst mark in the 20 year history of this particular survey.

The fact that this rise in the “passion hypothesis” correlates with a decline in career happiness doesn’t prove that one causes the other. But, it does seem plausible when mixed with Wrzesniewski’s research and the anecdotal evidence offered in the book. Newport outlines his own view on the issue as follows:

The more I studied the issue, the more I noticed that the passion hypothesis convinces people that somewhere there’s a magic “right” job waiting for them, and that if they find it, they’ll immediately recognize that this is the work they were meant to do. The problem, of course, is when they fail to find this certainty, bad things follow, such as chronic job-hopping and crippling self-doubt.

A little more from Newport:

…our generation-spanning experiment with passion-centric career planning has been a failure. The more we focused on loving what we do, the less we ended up loving it.

So, if I Don’t Follow My Passion, What Should I Follow?

Mark Cuban says you should follow your effort. Newport offers a more detailed version of the same basic message: Become really good at something.

Newport encourages the reader to take a “craftsman” mindset to his or her work. A craftsman is someone who doesn’t approach his task as a simple “job”. Instead, they seek to improve both their skills and their results for the sheer reason of achieving excellence. In short, the craftsman wants to create a masterpiece.

You must take this mindset into your own field.  Seek to do your job in a much better way than anyone else is willing or able to do it. Whether it’s technical work, accounting, sales, design, engineering, or any other field, you should approach your field with the mindset of a craftsman seeking to create a truly excellent body of work.

That will require you to develop better skills or more expertise than anyone else. Work at this for long enough and it will eventually open the doors to greater income, more flexibility, more security, more control, more feeling of “making an impact”, and all the other components of a “great job” that we all want.

Doing these things consistently will eventually make you “So Good They Can’t Ignore You”, as the book title suggests. You can only reach the highest levels of career happiness and fulfillment by reaching this skill level, according to Newport.

The answer lies, not in finding “the right career for you”, but, in becoming the best person for your career.

We will breakdown the tactics of the craftsman mindset in a forthcoming post, so, be sure to subscribe through the link at the bottom of this post if you’d like to learn more.

Want More?

Not part of the Five Minute Book Club yet? Read more about it or join here.

Read Cal Newport’s full book now: Get So Good They Can’t Ignore You from Amazon by clicking here.

So Good They Can’t Ignore You is also on my list of 8 Books with the Greatest ROI on Your Time. If you liked this post, you will also probably like some of the other books on this list.

Achieve Goals in 2017

The Ultimate Guide to Achieving Your Goals

Interested but don’t have time to read all this right now? I can send you a free ebook of this post if you prefer. Just click here.

Do you have goals that you want to achieve? Have you tried and failed to achieve goals or “New Year’s Resolutions” in the past? Do you want to greatly up your quality of life over the next decade?

Over the past few years, I’ve developed a system that has helped me succeed as a CEO, a business owner, a father, a husband, and now as founder of a startup. This system has been culled from the tips and teachings of famous top performers and productivity experts like Tony Robbins, Peter Drucker & Tim Ferriss and from mentors in my personal life.

And, now, I’m sharing my system with you. The system is completely free, there is no up-sell, there is no catch, just simple, actionable principles that you can start using today.

This guide will show you how to implement a proven system that will help you achieve your personal goals and to achieve success. Investing a few minutes now can lead to years of success by simply making the right high-impact decisions.

By request, I have included several free tools and the entire contents of this post in a free ebook download that you can receive by clicking here to read at your leisure. Or, you can simply continue reading the complete guide right here and now.

The Right Naming System

First things first – if it’s a New Year’s Goal, quit calling it a New Year’s Resolution and start calling it a Goal. New Year’s resolutions are famous for one thing – not being kept. What we call things and our related expectations are far more powerful than most people realize. I touch on this in my Jim Kouzes post if you would like to read more, but, it’s enough to know you should quit calling them resolutions and start calling them goals.

Set the Right Goals

“We overestimate what we can accomplish in a year but underestimate what we can accomplish in a decade.” – Tony Robbins

Nothing is more important than setting the right goals in the first place. What you choose to focus on is far more important than the system that you use. Effectively carrying out a goal that you never should have pursued in the first place is a waste of time and energy, so, let’s dig into how to setup the right goals.

Most short-term (1 year or less) Goals are simply too ambitious. Many of our New Year’s “Resolutions” require really big, very sudden life changes that cause a major shock to our daily habits and routines. This causes us to quit within days or weeks of beginning and is the cause of the well-deserved reputation held by resolutions.

However, most of our “big picture” Life Goals (goals that take longer than 1 year to complete) are not ambitious enough. Ask most people what they want from the next 10 years and their answers will generally be modest at best. “More free time”, “be a department manager”, “pay off the house” or “make more money” are pretty common answers.

There is nothing in these answers powerful enough to get you fired up about life. Most of these answers are not goals at all, they are merely made up answers that someone will offer because you put them on the spot.

It’s an interesting bit of irony that most of us think we can accomplish big things in just 1 year, but, we have either modest plans or no plans for the next decade. You need to flip this on its head.

Up your Life Goals

Cat: Where are you going?
Alice: Which way should I go?
Cat: That depends on where you are going.
Alice: I don’t know.
Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go – Lewis Carrol, Alice in Wonderland

Many people don’t even have a goal for their next 5-10 years. This is like getting in your car, driving aimlessly, and hoping that you end up somewhere that you want to be. But, if you are reading this, you’re not most people. You have chosen to put some thoughts into your goals which immediately puts you in an elite category. It’s the first step of a broader journey.

You need to set some Life Goals. These can be 3, 5, 10, or even 20 year goals. The length doesn’t matter. But, these are much more significant than a 1-year or 6-month goal.

Pick Life Goals that can radically change your life. Your Life Goals should be grand life projects that help direct all your 1-year or shorter goals. Your Life Goals should give your life direction and purpose. Your Life Goals should be missions that you can look back on fondly when you are much older and be proud that you even attempted.

With a Life Goal, you’re now setting off on a road trip with a destination in mind. Will you reach your destination every time? No. Will you change your mind midway through the trip and pick a different destination? Absolutely. But, simply having a destination in mind will put your life on a vastly different path than aimless wandering.

Your Life Goals should be big enough that first sharing them with others today should be embarrassing. Anything less is too small.

  • Set goals so big that achieving them would radically change your life.
  • Set goals so big that you are pumped to get to work on your goals everyday.
  • Set goals so big that, when the times get tough, you can think back on your “big goals”, how your life could change, and get jazzed up again.

The Problem with “Small” Life Goals

If you take nothing else from this guide, it should be this: Your Life Goals need to be bigger. Here’s what wrong with Small Life Goals:

Small goals usually aren’t enough to get you really fired up. No matter what your goal is, there will be problems and setbacks. You need a goal where the results of a win are big enough that thinking of them will get you motivated to push through problems and setbacks that will occur.

A Life Goal of a 10% annual pay increase isn’t going to keep you up at night working and planning. A Life Goal of building a company that will sell for millions and set you and your loved ones up for life will keep you up at night.

You will face more competition when going for Small Goals. When identical job openings are posted at both $25,000 and $50,000 annual salary, the $25,000 job will get 2 to 3 times more applications. The identical higher paying job is actually easier to land, because it has less competition.

Why don’t more people apply for the $50,000 year job? Many simply don’t believe they are capable of winning big. They incorrectly believe that there must be more competition for that job. They don’t even look at jobs in that pay range. Many believe they deserve little, so they receive little. Many people trap themselves in a prison of their own low expectations.

The truth is that you are capable of much more than you know. And it’s not until you push yourself to the breaking point that you find out what your real capabilities are.

Your First Task

Your first task in Life Goal setting is to begin believing that you deserve to win big. Simply changing this core belief in your heart will put you in a different, much more sparsely populated league of competitors immediately.

Also, set Life Goals that tie into specifically what you really want. Pick goals that, even if you fail, you will have enjoyed the process of trying. Don’t set a goal of having a fitness model body if you really don’t care for fitness or working out. Don’t set a goal of having lots of money if you just think money would be “nice to have”.

Set goals that really tie into your unique wiring as a human being. There is something that has tugged your heart and mind for years. What is it?

More on Life Goals

Set goals that fit your particular interests and not goals that fit what you think other people want you to do. This is very important.

Some people set their goals based on pleasing others or meeting some expectation from society. This is a recipe for failing and for feeling like a failure. Some people say “well, I guess I should lose weight” or “I guess I want a management position” because people around them want them to do these things.

Focus on what you want, not what others want you to want. If you want to know more about overcoming the Fear of What Everyone Else Thinks, see my post on the topic by clicking here.

Set goals that won’t feel like a total waste of time if you fall short. If you set a goal of being a New York Times best-selling author and your book fails to make the best seller list, you might still be pretty happy if you love the process of writing. Maybe you still carved out a career as a paid writer and can be pleased with an “80%” result.

However, if you don’t even really like writing, but, want to be a best-selling author purely for fame or money, then you would probably be extremely upset if you fall short. You would probably feel like you wasted your time because you hated the process, you purely wanted the result.

Pick goals that, even in failure, you can enjoy the process of striving for and/or goals that help you learn valuable skills for your next adventure. Read more in my post on Failing And Still Succeeding.

Once you get clear about what you want, you will start to find ways to get there.

You know how, after you test drive a specific car, you now see that particular type of car everywhere you go? The cars were there all along. But, your brain didn’t know they were important to you before, so, your brain wasn’t paying attention or looking for them.

By simply getting clear about where you want to go in your life, the subconscious horsepower in your brain will kick in and get busy looking for ways to get you there. Get clear on what you want, and make your subconscious your ally.

SMART Goals

Set both your Life Goals and 1-Year Goals using the SMART system. SMART is a well-known framework for goal-setting and its 5 principles for goal-setting are the keys to any successful goal.

Specific – A goal like “be a better person” or “live healthier” is not specific enough. Ask yourself what you really want to accomplish and what is driving you. Instead of “live healthier”, a specific version of your goal might be “lose weight” or “increase strength” or “complete a half-marathon”.

Measurable – Your goal must be objectively measurable. For example, once you have decided that you want to “lose weight”, you now need to refine that you want to “lose 20 pounds” or be able to “run a half-marathon in less than 2 hours”.

Achievable – Is your goal realistic? Start with a goal that is realistic in the timeframe you give yourself. If you want to lose 10 pounds in 6 months, this may be realistic, but, losing 100 pounds is probably not. Short term goals that are not achievable are a waste of time and can actively damage your psychology by making you feel like a failure.

Relevant – Is this goal relevant to your interests and desires for your life? Don’t fall into setting a Life Goal for yourself that you aren’t jazzed up about. Achieving anything big takes hard work. If you aren’t “all in”, you are wasting your time. For more, refer to the Up Your Life Goals heading above.

Time-bound – An old English proverb says, “What can be done at any time is never done at all”. When we tell ourselves that something can be done later, we will put it off. Your goal must have a definite deadline set or you will procrastinate and it won’t get done.

Picking Your Life Goal(s)

Either write on a blank sheet of paper or use the Goal Sheet that I have already setup for you in the free Goal Toolkit (click to download).

Write down your Life Goals and set a number of years for each goal. Again – make sure these goals are BIG and that they tie directly into what gets you excited. Don’t worry a great deal about specific time horizons, for now just take a stab at what sounds right.

Once you have momentum from your first year, you may be able to achieve your goals faster than you expect right now. You will, at a minimum, have a much better sense of how long things will take.

Set as many Life Goals as you like. Most people will likely only have 1 to 3.

Example Goals

  • I will build a company worth $5 million in 10 years
  • I will have a BMI of 12% and weigh 160lbs. in 5 years
  • I will have 1 New York Times best-selling book in the next 10 years
  • I will have $500,000 in my children’s college fund and have my house paid off in 10 years

As you can see above, these goals can be structured anyway that you like, just stick to the SMART framework. Got your Life Goals? Now tie some “dreams” to your Life Goals.

Set Some Life Dreams

A Life Dream is a specific experience that you can have once you achieve your Life Goal. The difference between a Dream and a Goal is that a Dream is an experience, not an achievement. For the highest impact, the dream should be imagined in vivid detail. 

Want to make a lot of money as a Life Goal? Your Life Dream might be buying your mom a house, a car, or sending her on an all-expense paid European vacation. Or, your Dream might be purchasing a luxury car for mom or dad or your best friend.

Sometimes, a Life Dream and a Goal might actually be one and the same. Maybe you want to finish or win a prestigious triathlon as a goal. Your Dream might simply be the experience of finishing or talking to your friends about the race afterward.

The imagining of your Experience in vivid detail is very important. If you want to buy Mom a house then: picture the house, imagine the morning you bring her there, the look on her face when you give her the keys, the feeling you get when the tears roll down her face.

If your Dream is finishing the big race, imagine: what you will feel after you finish, who will be there, what the medal might look like, what the meal afterward may taste like, and what the hotel bed might feel like once you make it back to the hotel.

Again, the more vivid you can make these dreams the better. These Dreams will be your fuel on your darkest days. Make them specific. Imagine the sights, sounds, tastes, feelings, and smells.

These imagined sensations can serve as very powerful anchors in your mind. They are more powerful than mere words for reaching the lowest, most powerful parts of the brain.

Add these Life Dreams to your piece of paper or to the free Goal Sheet in my free Goal Toolkit. In the toolkit, there is also a sheet you can use to write your detailed imagining of the experience.

Set 1-Year Goals

Now, that you have at least one Life Goal and one Life Dream, you need to reverse engineer what year 1 of that journey might look like.

Year 1 is largely about ramping up and getting in motion. If you want to make $10 million in the next 10 years, you don’t need to make $1 million in year 1.

Resist the temptation to ask too much of yourself in the first year. Don’t simply chop up a 10-year or 5-year goal into 1/10th or 1/5th increments. You will have much more momentum and you will be a different person with more resources by years 3, 5, or 8 than you are today. Remember – the days of standing still year after year are over. You will make progress this year and will build on that next year.

Many people fail in New Year’s Resolutions because they attempt sweeping life changes all at once. They say, “Ok, I’m going to start eating 1800 calories per day and I’m going to work out 4 times per week starting the first week of January and I’m going to lose 50 pounds this year”.

They do this coming off a month of no exercise, holiday feasts, and sweets. The change is simply too great and their mind and body reject it. We want to get on the right path, get some momentum, and play the long game of success.

Play the Long Game in 1-Year Goals

Your initial 1-year goals should be fairly modest. You want to “win” year 1, develop confidence, and get in motion in the right direction. If you do this, you will be much better suited to produce in year 2 and beyond. You will be a more capable, better positioned person going into year 2 that can achieve far more next year than you can this year.

If you want to lose 60 pounds in the next 3 to 5 years as a Life Goal, you might set a year 1 goal of losing 10 pounds, working out twice per week, and cutting out most sugary drinks. That’s it. Year 2 you might get more aggressive on diet and exercise and lose more weight.

For big 5+ year Life Goals, year 1 should be more about setting yourself up for future success. If you want to make $5 million in the next 10 years, year one should probably be more about learning, networking, testing ideas, and simply changing your current circumstances to be better positioned in the future. The amount of money you make in year 1 is not relevant. What is relevant is how much better positioned you are going into year 2.

You want to have 1-year goals that you can meet and exceed so that you can grab momentum and confidence. Most people set goals that are not realistic early, fall short of them, feel like a failure, and quit.

You simply want to end your first year by being closer to your Life Goal than you began the year. That’s it. You want to be primed for bigger, better things in Year 2. That’s all you really have to do in Year 1.

But, here’s the thing – as you get momentum and confidence in Year 1, you will probably find that you will get way beyond your Year 1 goals and you will keep pushing. You will find new internal resources that you didn’t know you had. You will find external resources like new friends, books, etc. that you didn’t have before.

Instead of setting a big short-term goal that you can’t meet, you will blow away a modest goal. You will feel like a winner, not someone who can’t meet their goals & expectations. The difference in psychology here is enormous.

All these things will accelerate your new path. But, let this happen naturally.

Most people are impatient. They want the achieve their goals immediately, so, they try to do it all at once.. It doesn’t happen immediately and they get frustrated and quit entirely. Don’t be most people – play the long game.

Write Down Your 1-Year Goals

Using the SMART criteria above, define 1-year goals and write them down on a sheet of paper or download my Goal Sheet from my free Goal Toolkit.

It’s very important that you write your goals down. Yeah, I know it sounds hokey, but, there is something powerful about translating your goals out of your head and onto something tangible like a piece of paper.

If you want to really ratchet up your chances of success, write your goals (both 1-Year and Life Goals) down repeatedly – once a month, once a week, or even once a day. The psychological tuning is profound, the cost is low, the potential upside is great.

Weekly Goals

Once you have your 1-year goals, you want to break them down into Weekly Goals. Anything bigger than weekly goals are not really actionable.

If your 1-Year Goal is to write a book, you may wish to commit to writing 30 pages per week. If your 1-Year Goal is to lose 10 pounds, you may want to commit to 2 workouts per week and no more than 2 sugary drinks per week.

Setting these Weekly Goals is important because this is where you get to think about the part of your goals that are actually actionable. Pick the right Weekly Goals and then take care of these small daily and weekly activities, and your big picture Life Goals will take care of themselves.

You may also break down your Weekly Goals to Daily Goals if you wish. In most cases, however, you aren’t trying to perform a particular activity every single day of the year, so, weekly might make more sense.

Make your Weekly Goals about Actions, not about Results. Some actions have very direct results. You write 30 pages of a book and you have 30 pages of a book. However, some results cannot be guaranteed in fields like sales, sports, or other areas influenced by chance.

As a salesperson, don’t set a goal to “make 2 sales per week”, instead set a goal to “talk with 20 potential customers per week” or similar. Whether the customer chooses to buy or not is up to them, but, how many you talk to and how well you present to them is up to you.

It is very important that your Weekly Goals be completely within your direct control. If you take the right actions repeatedly, the law of averages will work for you in the long run of months and years to reduce the role of chance. But, 1 week is too small of a sample size for this to even out. If you don’t feel that your Weekly Goals are 100% within your control, you will give yourself a psychological “out” to shirk your goals.

Write these goals on your sheet of paper or on the Goal Sheet in the free Toolkit.

Tricks That Will Help You Stay on Course

The Streak Tracker

The problem with most goals is that you start out strong and then slack off as time goes by. The Streak Tracker turns this on its head with a trick of psychology.

Chart out a sheet of paper with 52 boxes, one representing each week of the upcoming year (you can start at any time in the year, just make the current week into Week1), or use the “Streak Tracker” in my free Goal Toolkit.

Post the Streak Tracker where you can see it everyday. Every week that you fulfill your weekly goal, check the box for that week. After several weeks or months, you will have a nice streak of checks going. Your job is simply to “not break the chain”.

You will feel accomplished every time you see the paper. On these weeks that you feel like slacking, the idea of messing up your streak will make you think twice as positive pressure mounts. Over time, your new actions will turn into habits and external tricks will become less important. You can also combine your Streaks with Reward Checkpoints which are covered next.

Reward Checkpoints

Setup “reward checkpoints” or other positive incentives for yourself as you progress toward your goal. Use these rewards in conjunction with streaks to create mounting pressure on yourself to keep going.

For example, you might set a minor reward at every 3 weeks in a row of meeting your Goal. You might have an even bigger reward for yourself for meeting your Goal 10 weeks in a row. You might have a huge reward for 26 or 52 weeks in a row.

What would you be willing to spend if you met your goals every single week for 6 months? Or 1 year? Don’t be afraid to splurge a little here. Similar to Life Goals, we want this reward to be big enough to motivate you.

Set these up checkpoints up in advance and use them to help yourself keep pushing. The rewards must uniquely match what you like and are interested in.

Your reward can be a new gadget you have wanted, a fancy dinner with your spouse, a vacation, anything that revs you up. Use your imagination to setup rewards that will really motivate you.

You can also set a reward for yourself if you exceed your Goals in a given week. Maybe if your goal is writing 30 pages of your book in a week, but, you write 75, you reward yourself.

Use Negative Emotions to Your Advantage

Create punishments if you fail. This may seem hardcore to some, but, it is very powerful and effective. For many of us, negative incentives are the most powerful of all.

Possible “Punishments” to Incentivize You

  • Tell everyone you know what your 1-year goals are, create a building sense of embarrassment if you quit and let them down. Post about it on social media, tell your closest friends, make a big deal out of it.
  • If the people that you tell doubt your goals or think you are crazy, develop a desire to “prove them all wrong”. This alone has fueled a lot of big successes.
  • Join a competition, a class, some kind of peer group that will provide peer pressure to keep you onboard in moving toward your goal.
  • Give your friend (the one who you know will cut you no slack) some embarrassing picture that you don’t want anyone to see. Tell them to post it on social media if you fail.
  • Give away a meaningful sum of money (enough to sting if you lose it ) or one of your favorite possessions to a friend or family member until you “earn it back” through completing your Weekly Goals and by maintaining your Streak. If you fail, they give the item or the cash away.  If they are giving the cash away, consider having it go to something that you don’t like – like the athletic booster fund of your most hated college sports team. We are looking for all the fuel that we can get.

A strange fact of human nature is that seemingly inconsequential factors like embarrassment or competition can sometimes motivate us much more than positive factors of real consequence like income or health. Use this bit of human irrationality (and everything else you can get your hands on) to your advantage.

Conclusion – Stack the Deck to Win

It’s hard to guarantee success in any endeavor. But, if you stick to this proven system, your odds of success are very high. You will have put real thought into where you want to go, rather than drifting along from year to year. You will have setup a system to get you moving. And, you will use psychological tricks to make our human quirks work to your advantage instead of sabotaging you.

Make sure that you post your Goals and Streak Tracker where you can see them every single day. Put them on your refrigerator or over your desk.

Now, it’s just a matter of going out and executing on your plan. You have all the tools you need to blow your next 12 months out.

All the best,

Trey

Gary Vaynerchuk

8 Powerful Tips for Entrepreneurs from Gary Vaynerchuk

Book: #AskGaryVee by Gary Vaynerchuk
Concepts: Speed, Focus, Don’t Be Romantic

In the #AskGaryVee book, Gary Vaynerchuk provides a quick hit list of his top tips for success. I love the list because it is to-the-point, actionable, and it sums up most of Gary’s philosophy into a compact, tactical package.

Gary’s original advice is in bold, my comments are in plain text next to the original points.

Gary Vaynerchuk’s Hit List

  1. Have shorter meetings. Go down from 1 hour meetings to 30 minute meetings. Then continue to push to shorten meetings more and more. Gary is down to 4 minute meetings. We all know meetings are a colossal waste of time and time is our most valuable resource. Start doing something about it. Maximize your productive time in the day, reduce your unproductive time.
  2. Don’t focus on things you can’t control. You can’t control who will be president or what the economy will do next month or who will win the Broncos game tomorrow. Focus on the things that your energy, your ideas, and your effort can have an effect on – your career, your family, your company, your friends.
  3. Don’t be afraid to break things. We can waste a tremendous amount of time with endless discussions about whether a new idea is worth trying or not. Quit talking about it & make a decision. If the idea has merit, just try it. You can usually fix it later if it goes badly, sometimes you find something great. Making no decision is the same as making a decision.
  4. Don’t be romantic about your business. This is one of Gary’s staples and I love it. I run into so many business owners that won’t face the current reality because they want their business to be like it was 5 years ago. And, some of them are actively angry that the market has changed. None of this is healthy. It distracts from execution in the present and from what you need to do to be competitive in the future. The “good ole days” are gone, you might have more good days, but, they will look different.
  5. Don’t get slower because you think you “made it”. Once you make it, all eyes are on you, your competitors want what you have. If anything, it gets more demanding, not less. I’ve personally witnessed several individuals who have been ruined by taking the attitude that they “made it” or that their company or the market owes them something for their past success. The race is never over until you retire.
  6. Keep moving, don’t take a breather. Many people take a break because they feel that they “deserve it” because they did something good yesterday. Instead of doing that, how much more momentum could you have, how much more could you get done if you just kept going and kept pushing? Is there a more perfect example of this philosophy than Gary Vaynerchuk himself?
  7. Don’t go for perfection, it’s in the eye of the beholder. Another thought in the same vein as some others – speed and momentum matter a lot in business. You can’t afford to fritter time and capital away by making something “perfect”. In many cases, even if you think you have achieved perfection, you will have to change it later anyway because the market will disagree. “Done and pretty good” beats “unfinished, unreleased, and perfect” any day of the week.
  8. Speed kills in sports and business. The perfect summary of all the thoughts above. How many colossal companies have been killed simply because a small company could move faster than them? The colossal company was busy having 3 hour meetings, getting romantic about yesterday, being afraid to break things today, trying to build the “perfect” new product, and taking a breather from past successes… meanwhile, the new company, the fast company, takes the colossal company out before the big guy knew what hit him.

I highly recommend checking out Gary’s book #AskGaryVee if you want to read more of Gary’s philosophy on business. I also love Gary’s earlier book, Crush It!

Want more quick summaries of powerful concepts on success? Join the Five Minute Book Club by clicking here and get new summaries like this one delivered right to your inbox. 100% free, we never use your email for spam, 1-click unsubscribe at any time.

Trey Sharp and Jim Kouzes

18 Leadership Lessons from leadership expert Jim Kouzes

Last Friday, I had the opportunity to spend some time learning from author and leadership expert, Jim Kouzes, at the Women’s Economic Development Conference in Huntsville, AL.

Jim is co-author the best-selling book, The Leadership Challenge, and has spent decades studying leadership and teaching others about it. Here were some of my key takeaways from my time with Jim:

  1. Out of the 5 million people tracked and studied by Jim Kouzes, only .00013% exhibit no leadership qualities. In other words, the chances that you have no leadership characteristics are similar to your chances of winning the lottery.
  2. You are probably a leader and don’t even know it. Jim says that, when asked who the leaders are in their lives, most people list parents, family members, friends, teachers, coaches, siblings, coworkers. If you are any of these things, you are probably a leader to someone in your life.
  3. No one should ask, “am I making a difference?”, but rather ask, “am I making a positive difference?” We are all influencing others and impacting the world every single day, whether we intend to or not.
  4. According to surveys, followers say that capable leaders get 95.1% of their capabilities, incapable leaders get only 30% of their capabilities.
  5. Most Popular Leadership attributes associated with leadership as revealed in a survey: Honest, Inspiring, Forward Looking, Competent
  6. Least Popular attributes associated with leadership: Independent, Self-controlled
  7. These attribute findings suggest that people want smart, forward looking, and honest leaders, but, don’t necessarily need them to be self-controlled or even independent.
  8. There is nothing more important as a leader than doing what you say you will do.
  9. “Twelve frogs are sitting on a log in a pond. Five decide to jump in the water. How many are left on the log?” Silence in the room for a while. “Twelve. Always remember that deciding to do something and taking action are very different.”
  10. Leaders must communicate “Why is this important? Where are we headed?” People who find meaning in their work are 1.7 times more likely to be satisfied and 1.4 times more likely to be engaged.
  11. When people were asked to name great leaders, all leaders named faced immense challenges such as Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, or even business leaders that faced tremendous difficulties. Challenges offer you a chance to achieve greatness. Leaders who don’t deal with challenges are often forgotten and are never recognized as great. Look at challenges as opportunity. We only do our best when we are challenged.
  12. Pause before you interact with another person. Ask yourself, “What I can do in this interaction to make this person feel better about themselves?”
  13. “Innovation requires outsight, not just insight” – Ideas come from everywhere. Best ideas that really change things often come from outside your circle or your industry. Read outside your expertise, talk to people from different walks of life, you will often find inspiration in the most unexpected places.
  14. Regardless of personality style, learning is directly correlated with leadership. The more you learn and the longer you do it, you become a more and more effective leader.
  15. Average age of first leadership training is age 42. Average age that a person begins managing other people is age 31. Jim Kouzes believes that this disconnect occurs because of a bias in our society that makes us think leaders are born, not made. His findings have consistently shown that leadership is a skill that is learned, not a trait that is ingrained by genetics at birth.
  16. In his research, Jim Kouzes found that those with strong inner values (i.e., “I want to be the best that I can be”, “I want to achieve XYZ”) are the most likely to be successful and to be committed to their work. Those who lacked that inner motivation and who depend on “things to be right” in order for them to be productive, struggled to be consistent or committed. The takeaway – getting the right people in the first place is way more important than leading them the right way.
  17. What you name things matters a great deal as it relates to trust, expectations  and human behavior. Jim performed a study where participants played a game in which trusting one another can lead to much more desirable outcomes for all. In one study, the game was called the Community Game. In the other, the exact same game was called the Wall Street Game. The players of the Community Game exhibited 70% more trust actions than those in Wall Street Game despite the fact that they were all playing the same game. The names we put on things have broad implications for setting behavior.
  18. When asked if encouragement by their manager leads to better job performance by the employee, 98% of respondents said “yes”. Conversely, when asked if they “needed” encouragement from their manager, only around half said “yes”. The takeaway – your people need encouragement whether they say they do or not. Most people like to say and think, “I don’t need to be coddled”, but, that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t benefit from encouragement and leadership.

You can buy or download a sample of Jim’s classic book, The Leadership Challenge, by clicking here.

Entrepreneurial lessons from Trump win

Trump’s Surprise Win: 4 Entrepreneurial Lessons

Love him or hate him, Donald Trump obviously did a lot of things right in his unlikely campaign to win the Presidency of the United States. Trump went from “long shot” or “not serious” candidate to surprise victor in the span of 18 months.

This article will make no political comment one way or another about Trump or Clinton. What we will look at are the strategies Trump used to make it to the Oval Office and how those strategies might translate to entrepreneurship.

Trump’s 4 Entrepreneurial Strategies

Lesson #1: Be “the Purple Cow”. Seth Godin’s classic business book Purple Cow, put forward a simple and powerful premise: if you find yourself riding down a road and see dozens or even hundreds of normal cows, you will never remark on them and might not even notice them. But, if you see a Purple Cow, your attention will be completely captured.

You might love the Purple Cow. You might hate it. You might simply be completed befuddled by it. But, you won’t ignore it. In fact, you will actively talk about the Purple Cow to everyone you meet for a time after you see it.

Trump came out of a field of 17 candidates in the Republic primary by being the Purple Cow. He behaved in a way that was completely different from the other candidates. Doing so, caused everyone – both those who agreed with him as well as those who disagreed with him – to talk about Trump. While pundits and voters were talking about Trump, all the “regular cows” were mostly ignored.

Every time that anyone talked about Trump, Trump won. Every mention of his name, positive or negative, increased his brand awareness and public profile over the seemingly nameless and faceless sea of 16 competitors that he was facing off with. Every conversation revolved around Trump, with conversations like “Trump vs. Bush”, “Trump vs. Cruz”, “Trump vs. Clinton”.

This is the power of being the Purple Cow. Everyone becomes aware of you. Even your haters fuel your momentum by raising your brand awareness. Being ignored, being forgotten is the real danger in any entrepreneurial or political endeavor. Candidates like Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina struggled to even be noticed. If you can’t even get someone’s attention you can never get their vote nor their business.

So, if you are in a crowded market with many competitors, like Trump was in the Republican primary, you must do something to stand out. Do something to get people talking about you, do something that people aren’t expecting from businesses like yours. You don’t have to be controversial (though you certainly can be if you wish), but, you must do something to separate yourself from the pack in the minds of the customer.

Lesson #2: If you want to achieve the extraordinary, you will often need to rethink the status quo. Most considered a Republican win or “wave” in this election highly unlikely. The political and demographic deck seemed stacked against, not only Trump himself, but, the GOP as a whole from the very beginning.

So, Trump took some unusual approaches. It’s easy to fixate on his controversial verbal statements, but, Trump made some very concrete departures from not only Democrats, but, the Republican party itself in policy areas like trade and immigration.

These stances, now, appear to be the key to his success. Instead of simply trying to be a traditional Republican, but, be, say, 15% better at running a campaign or delivering the message a little better than Mitt Romney or John McCain, Trump rethought what a Republican could look like entirely. To Republicans, a party built on free market ideologies, free trade has been a sacred cow and cornerstone of the party platform for decades.

But, Trump threw this free market stance completely out the window, saying he would put “America first” in trade. He promised to impose tariffs on companies that send jobs overseas and would seek to curb the common modern corporate America practice of “outsourcing” jobs to foreign firms. This message resonated with middle class workers who have been impacted by foreign outsourcing and trade deficits and, given results in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin, many would argue that this single stance may have won Trump the Presidency.

What sacred cows exist in your industry? What if you did something completely different? What if you broke from the ranks of the regular playbook for your market and really shook things up? Is there a need in the market that you could perhaps fill? Instead of seeking to just be 10% better this year, what if you rethought your entire approach and did something completely new?

Lesson #3: Be #1 to someone or be nothing to everyone. Your business is far better served to find a niche or a group of customers who passionately believe in your message, product, service, or political candidacy.

In voting and in business, there is no value in being everyone’s #4 or #5 choice, even out of a field of only 10 competitors. Choice #4 or #5 ends up with no votes and no sales, because everyone goes for either their first choice or (maybe) their second choice. No one does business with #5. Customers or voters might kind of like of #5 and may even uniformly agree that #5 is a better choice than some other choice that they really dislike, but, they won’t buy or vote for choice #5.

However, there is tremendous value in being #1 in one or two niches. And, ironically, focusing on one niche will often yield far better results on the entire market in the long run rather than directly trying to please the whole market from the outset.

Take the case of Pepsi. Pepsi struggled to compete with Coca-Cola for years before their game-changing slogan “the Choice of the New Generation”. Conventional wisdom would have said this slogan was nuts, it appeared to be giving up on the middle age and senior citizen age brackets. But, from the campaign, Pepsi became not only the #1 cola with younger consumers, but, also gained major ground with older generations as well. If Pepsi had attempted just another “we are just like Coca-Cola, but, we’re better slogan” then they would have had an undefined brand and would have continued to wallow in mediocrity.

Starting with a niche and building from it is the key to success in the early days of business (or business turnaround) or a political candidacy.

Lesson #4: Get knocked down 100 times, get back up 101. When you look through both ancient and recent history, one trait unites all those who succeed – persistence.  Some were honest, some were not. Some were smart, some not so much. Some were talented, some were mediocre to worse. Some were hard working, and some were not. But, everyone who has succeeded has persisted and pushed through setbacks.

Trump faced numerous setbacks (some self-inflicted) and his entire campaign was derided by many as pointless. He faced withering criticism from, not only pundits and Democrats, but, from his own party leaders. This, combined with his poor polling numbers, could have easily led Trump to bow out of the race and this was suggested, and even demanded, by fellow Republicans at times.

Do you feel sure you are on to something, but, are close to quitting? What if you are 1 day, 1 week, 1 month from achieving breakthrough and you just don’t know it yet?

You will make mistakes, I will make mistakes. Donald Trump made mistakes in his campaign. But, Trump never let these mistakes define him and did not seem to dwell on them. There is always a new day and a new battle to fight and the Trump campaign seemed focused on that and pushed forward through all the adversity.

The secret of success in life lies in the fact that even if our batting average is less than stellar, even if we strike out 10 times in a row, we can give ourselves almost unlimited at-bats by simply getting up, dusting ourselves off, and trying again.

Failure in business or politics is rarely final and almost never fatal. You simply must decide to persist, to keep going, and to keep working toward your goal.

Bringing It All Together

The bottom line of all this is this: if you find yourself in a competitive field, be different in your marketing and promotion like the Purple Cow, rethink the status quo of what your business does and how it operates, and find a niche that really cares about what you are doing.

But, most importantly, never ever quit. You will face challenges, you will face setbacks, you will make terrible mistakes, and you will have disappointments. Keep getting back up to fight another day. Remember that every incredible accomplishment is always thought impossible all the way up until it is done.

 

Fear of What Everyone Else Thinks

7 Strategies to Beat The Fear of What Everyone Else Thinks

Do you want to start a new career, a new hobby, or a new relationship and are being held back by the Fear of What Everyone Else Thinks? This fear is a powerful force that impacts our lives in many ways.

If you’re grappling with The Fear of What Everyone Else Thinks, it has probably manifested in one or both of the below ways:

  1. “Afraid to Start” – You hesitate to share your plan, dream, or decision with someone because you think they will think you are crazy. You might fear criticism or ridicule. You might feel that they don’t think you are good enough to reach what you want to accomplish.
  2. “Afraid of ‘I Told You So'” – You are afraid hearing “I Told You So” from Everyone Else if you should fail.

Unfortunately, we can fail to take a chance or to pursue what we are good at because of this influence. We can even turn away from pursuing something that we really feel will make us happy. We can fall into making “safe” choices for the sake of Everyone Else.

Most criticism that comes from Everyone Else will be rooted in 2 psychological principles – Tall Poppy Syndrome and Social Proof – so, let’s look at those first, before looking at 7 strategies for overcoming the Fear of What Everyone Else Thinks.

Tall Poppy Syndrome

This principle states that when you begin to grow, to pull out of the pack, your peers will pull you back. Picture one lone poppy beginning to grow above all the others in field, then the surrounding poppies pulling or cutting it down.

There are a number of reasons this effect can happen – the other person has been scared to pursue their dreams so they don’t want you to pursue yours, the other person genuinely fears for your financial well being or embarrassment, the other person is afraid you will “leave them behind”, or an assortment of other feelings.

It is worth noting that very often the motivations of your friend and family afflicted with Tall Poppy Syndrome are not so much malicious. They are often simply afraid of losing your time or attention, or they are afraid to see you take a risk, or similar. Understanding that this principle is at work on them may help you to calm down and engage with them more rationally.

The Social Proof effect

This principle states that we all look at those around us to determine what action we should take next. This has broad implications – from the mundane, looking at what everyone else is doing in a new restaurant to determine our behavior, to the incredible, real world cases where crowds of people witness a murder or a rape and do nothing because the rest of the crowd is doing nothing.

Social Proof is one of the most powerful principles built into our DNA – and for good reason. In most cases, doing what everyone else is doing is the “right” or “safe” thing to do. This little shortcut can save us embarrassment of doing the wrong thing in the line at the restaurant, it can protect us from danger when we don’t go down that empty dark alley, and everything in-between.

“Those who follow the crowd often become lost in it” – Anonymous

“If you don’t risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary” – Jim Rohn

The problem lies in that while this shortcut can protect us in many cases, it can lead to us simply follow the herd. We may never seek the extraordinary, because, by definition, we mostly see the average.

This is often why the tallest poppy gets cut down – our peers look and see that no one else is doing the new thing that you want to do, so in their minds, you shouldn’t be either! In their mind, you are stepping out of line and putting yourself in some kind of danger! This makes your Tall Poppy friends a good deal more sympathetic.

This principle of Social Proof becomes orders of magnitude more powerful as the  uncertainty goes up. The less certain we are , the more we look to what others around us are doing.

This makes Social Proof and Tall Poppy especially powerful in areas that have an impact on finances or career, because many people are uncertain what to do about earning a living in a complex modern economy. So, they look at what the people around them do to earn a living. If you are stepping out on a limb doing something different while everyone else isn’t, it may seem to them you are in danger.

Fear of What Everyone Else Thinks Tries to Freeze Us All

If we all stay stuck in this paralysis of worrying about What Everyone Else Thinks, then innovation and forward progress dies. But, a select group of people overcome this challenge. These people become our business leaders, our political leaders, our innovators, our difference makers, our best salespeople, our top artists.

Not everyone that overcomes What Everyone Else Thinks will do great things, but, everyone that does great things will overcome What Everyone Else Thinks.

Now, that we understand Social Proof and Tall Poppy Syndrome, lets look at some specific strategies to deal with the Fear of What Everyone Else Thinks.

7 Strategies for Dealing with Fear of What Everyone Else Thinks:

“If your dreams don’t seem crazy to everyone else, then you aren’t dreaming big enough” – Anonymous

Strategy #1 – Write down your biggest dreams and goals that you aren’t already moving toward. Now, think about what is holding you back from the next step toward those goals and write it down. Be as honest with yourself as possible, this is purely for your own use. If you’re like most of us, Fear of What Everyone Else Thinks is probably on that list somewhere tied to at least one of the items. You may not have even known. Knowing it is there is the first key to beating it.

Strategy #2 – Realize that other people think less often about you and care a lot less about what you are doing than you probably think. Ironically, most people are too worried about what everyone else thinks about them to really put a great deal of time into worrying about you. As soon as you realize this, you hold one of the biggest keys in overcoming fear of What Everyone Else Thinks. Much of our fear doesn’t actually come from what people say to us, much of fear comes from what we think everyone else might think.

“First, they asked why I’m doing this. Now, they ask how I did it.” – Anonymous

Strategy #3 – Read books from stoics like Marcus Aurelius or Seneca to build up “thicker skin” against the criticism. Realize that your life is shorter than you think today, you don’t want to waste it living for others. This is easier said than done. Some of us naturally seek the approval of others, others need less approval and are more inclined to go against the feelings of others. Despite our natural tendencies, caring less about What Everyone Else Thinks is a skill that can be built.

My favorite place to start is Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. Marcus Aurelius, the last “good” Roman Emperor, faced pressures that many of us cannot imagine. Aurelius lays out a convincing case for the reasons why we should not allow the opinions of others – be they criticism or applause – go to our heads.

The full text cannot be given justice in this lone article, but, a few choice quotations will get you started.

“Everyone gets one life. Yours is almost used up, and instead of treating yourself with respect, you have entrusted your own happiness to the souls of others.”

“We love ourselves more than others, yet we value other’s opinions above our own.”

”You want praise from people who kick themselves every fifteen minutes, the approval of people who despise themselves.”

“Nothing that goes on in anyone else’s mind can harm you. Nor can the shifts and changes in the world around you. Then where is harm to be found? In your capacity to see it. Stop doing that and everything will be fine.”

Pick up Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations on Kindle for free by clicking here.

Steve Jobs offered a similar train of thought during his Stanford Commencement speech. My favorite lines:

 

“For the past 33 years I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ Whenever the answer has been ‘no’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I have ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything, all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure, these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”

“Remembering that you are going to die is surest way that I know to avoid the trap of thinking that you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

“Your time is limited; don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

“A person’s success in life can be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations that he/she is willing to have” – Tim Ferriss

Strategy #4 – If you are holding back because you are worried about a specific person who does very much care about what you are doing – spouse, parent, child, close friend – then sit down and talk to them. Don’t just worry about what they will think and stay paralyzed, start taking action.

Have that hard conversation. Don’t waste another day of precious life kicking the can down the road while you get no steps closer to your goal. Be honest with the person about how you feel, what you want, and how important it is to you. Tell them that if you don’t pursue this, you will regret it. Open your heart to them and you will often find that these people in your life will listen.

“Most people will be fast to talk you out of something before you start, but, will hesitate to get in the way once you’re moving.” – Tim Ferriss, The Four Hour Work-Week

Strategy #5 – Other people are just as flawed and just as unsure about everything as you are. While Everyone Else may bluster and criticize, many of them don’t really know much of anything about you and what you want from life.  In many cases, these people can’t even make themselves happy let alone know what you need to do to be happy. Many people’s opinions change as often as the weather. Allowing comments or your perception of what they “might” be thinking to run your life is choosing to be a leaf on the wind.

 

“After 30 years of hard work, I’ve finally become an overnight success” – Anonymous

Strategy #6 – If you are concerned about early criticism of your new venture, remember that almost all the greats in business, art, science, and elsewhere took many years of hard work to reach “breakthrough”. Some weren’t recognized until they performed at a high level for a very long time. Some of the greats were never recognized at all until after their death. Many businesses take years, even decades to begin reaching real success.

These are the things you should remind yourself about your own work and your own dreams that you want to build. You may not be recognized immediately, in fact, you almost certainly won’t. You may be doubted initially or even ridiculed. It will likely take a long time to reach your goal But, give yourself time, do the work, and you will gain momentum and recognition will come one day. But, most importantly, take that first step today so that, tomorrow, you can take the second.

“If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room” – Anonymous

Strategy #7 – Find a taller poppy field. This is the most powerful strategy of all, so we saved it for last.

The legendary Jim Rohn stated that “you are the average of the five people that you spend the most time with”. So, find new people to spend time with. Find people who help you grow instead of people who cut you down. Find a field where you are the shortest poppy, instead of the tallest. Field a field where your peers encourage you to grow to their level.

Finding a taller poppy field is so effective for self improvement precisely because of Social Proof. When you find a group of people who are pushing, who are driving for a better self and a better world, the dangers of Social Proof begin working for you instead of against you.

If you surround yourself with the right people, you will find daily motivation in the actions and words of those around you. This takes the pitfalls of Social Proof, flips them, and turns them into strengths. It is very difficult to fight human nature entirely, so, if you can instead turn human nature into your ally in this way, it is very powerful.

We will all look those around us to figure out what we should be doing because it’s built into our DNA. Fighting this tendency is like fighting the tide. If you want to be your absolute best, make sure that what you see when you look around you is inspirational. Make sure that the people around you are pulling you in the direction that you wish to go and not the opposite. Improve your circle, improve yourself.

Don’t know people in your life today that can help you do this? Start with some “virtual relationships” from books and podcast. Start with some great books such as those in 8 Books with Great ROI. These will elevate your thinking and prepare you to achieve anything you want. Also, podcasts can serve as excellent virtual mentors, you can listen while driving or at work. The podcast hosts can begin to feel like old friends over time. There are tons of great ones out there, but, the Tim Ferriss Show is an excellent place to start.

Take Action

Seek to base your decisions, your dreams, and your view of yourself on something solid, something anchored within you. Don’t allow What Everyone Else Thinks to paralyze you into failing to pursue your dreams.

Start noticing all the times that What Everyone Else Thinks creeps into your consciousness and impacts either your decision or your state of mind or both. Recognize this influence for what it is, for the most dangerous influence is the one that we do not know is at work.

Develop a sense of who you are and what you want. Develop your own sense of what you are good at and what you are not so good at. You should not completely ignore other people’s input, some input can be highly valuable. But, you shouldn’t let other people’s views dictate your life or your outcomes, particularly if you spot Tall Poppy or Social Proof effects at play. Top causes of unfounded criticism are these two effects.

Pursue where your interests, skills, and passions take you, do not allow What Everyone Else Thinks to dictate your course in life. Allowing What Everyone Else Thinks to dictate your path through life is a surefire recipe for regret.

Instead of worrying about others’ opinions, do your work. Become better. Pursue what you are meant to do. The rest will take care of itself.

Jocko Willink on Fear of Failure

This is my favorite video of the week, check out this awesome video from retired Navy SEAL Jocko Willink’s on Fear of Failure. Be sure to stay all the way to the end, it’s only 2.5 minutes, it’s a great message, and the delivery is fantastic. You will be ready to tackle a grizzly bear by the time the video concludes.

The Video

The Transcript

Transcript below in case you are somewhere that you cannot watch the video:

Jocko: “Fear of failure… obviously, fear of failure can keep you from taking risk. It can leave you sitting there, paralyzed, not taking any action at all and, obviously, that’s bad. But, I don’t want you to actually overcome fear of failure. I want you to be afraid of failure. Fear of failure is good. Fear of failure will keep you… up at night, planning, and rehearsing, going over contingencies. Fear of failure will keep you training hard. It will stop you from cutting corners. Fear of failure will keep you working, training, striving, and trying to be more prepared for battle. I want you to be afraid of failure. I fear failure.

But, more important – I want you to be horrified, I want you to be terrified of sitting on your ass and doing nothing. That is what I want you to be afraid of. Waking up in 6 days, 6 weeks, 6 years, or 60 years and you’re no closer to your goal, you’ve made no progress. That is the horror, that is the nightmare. That is what you need to be truly afraid of. Being stagnant.

So, get up. And go. Take the risk, take the gamble, take the first step, take action. And don’t let another day slip by.”

Still afraid to take the leap into a new venture? Check out my post on 7 Strategies to Overcoming the Fear of What Everyone Else Thinks.

success books

Success Books Are Both Great & Terrible

The most powerful method of self improvement, for me, has been reading books written by those much smarter & more experienced than myself. Reading books about success, self development, and business has been a powerful shortcut for me to become happier, more effective, and more skilled.

Why “Success” Books Are Great

Must well-reviewed books on success, self development, or business have at least one great concept in them. Just one great concept can make you (or save you) thousands of dollars. Learning many great concepts can make you millions or even billions. Outside of business, one great concept can make you healthier, happier, or save a relationship.

There are very few places that you can spend the $10 you pay for a book to learn a great concept. And you can even check books out of the library (remember that place?) for free if you are low on cash. In terms of time, there are very few places where you can spend the 8-10 hours it takes read the average book and learn a great concept that can change your life or your career.

In all, books are a great return-on-investment, much more so than television or Facebook or many other things you might do.

Why They’re Terrible

But, there is a problem with reading “success” books. While many books on “success” contain powerful concepts, most also contain hours worth of fluff. You can read a typical book for 8 hours and get 1 real diamond of an idea. But, you could have just gotten the diamond in 10 minutes.

Why does this happen? An author has a good concept, but, that concept must fit into the “blueprint” of the “book business”.  So, that 10-minute concept must now expand to fill the concept of what we think of as a book – that is, it must be a 6-10 hour type of read. But, there is no reason to expand the concept you say? No matter, says the publisher, just add anecdotes, fluff, and editorialize.

These problems become more apparent as you get busier and/or more successful. Once you have a high-ranking position, you are married, have children, or all of the above, giving up 8 hours to read a book can become much more difficult. And, as you read more books, you will see many of the same ideas repeated over and over. You also may become stumped on what book to read next, particularly after you run into a couple of “dead end” books.

The “Greatest Hits” of Success Books

Even if you have ample time… it’s better to learn 96 great concepts (five minutes per concept) in 8 hours instead of reading only 1 great book and getting 1-2 great concepts in 8 hours.

My solution to this problem is The Five Minute Book Club. It’s simple:

  • Find the best concepts in history’s greatest books on success
  • Put them in a simple format that is readable in 5 minutes or less here on FiveMinuteBookClub.com
  • Make the posts accessible, searchable, and categorized
  • Email out new posts as I write them. Give you simple, easily digestible 5-minute reads right in your email inbox
  • Make the concepts available for social media to fit the “bite-size” way that we consume information in modern society.

I actually began writing these summaries years ago for myself. I found that these summaries both helped me learn the concepts and also offered a convenient reference source to go back and give myself a refresher on a book. But, now, I offer these summaries to you here on FiveMinuteBookClub.com.

Can I really learn all I need to know from 5-minute summaries?

Maybe. Maybe not. It’s almost always better to read the full book to fully internalize a concept if you have the time and/or dollars to spare. The issue is that most of us do not have ample supply of one or both of those.

If you find any post that you are very intrigued by, I highly recommend purchasing the original book and/or audiobook. This helps you learn the concept in more detail and thanks the original author for the idea.

In these summaries, I am giving you, say, 80% of the value of the original concept. I am delivering it in the most time effective and “all killer, no filler” way that I can. Even if you have already read the book, these summaries make a convenient way to quickly refresh the book’s concepts for yourself.

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