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Don’t Compromise with Your Haters, Double Down with Your Fans

Many were stunned by the surprise announcement of the closing of Ringling Brothers’ “Greatest Show on Earth” Circus. Animal rights activists targeted the circus in the years leading up to its closure for the circus’ treatment of its animals. In 2016, Ringling Brothers’ quit using elephants in its shows after years of legal battles, but, what happened next (according to this Chicago Tribune article) outlines an important principle that will change the way you look at your life and your business:

…when the elephants left, there was a “dramatic drop” in ticket sales. Paradoxically, while many said they didn’t want big animals to perform in circuses, many others refused to attend a circus without them.

I’m going to stay out of taking sides in this animal rights issue, what I want to look is the broader lesson of the unfortunate fate of Ringling Brothers.

The Takeaway

The lesson is a simple one: the people who are criticizing you or your business are almost never going to be your customers or your fans even if you give in to what they want from you.

Appeasing your haters won’t gain you their favor or their business. They don’t like you. They weren’t and aren’t going to do business with you. If you water down yourself or your product to please your haters, it may actually cost you the favor of your fans, the people who actually do really like you.

In the case of Ringling Brothers, the circus was left little choice but to compromise due to legal pressures. But, as long as your haters are not dragging you through court, you have much more freedom in responding to your haters than Ringling Brothers.

You can choose to listen to haters and water down yourself or water down your product. Or, you can double down with your fans.

You can change yourself or your offering to attempt to make fans out of those who don’t like you. Or, you could just try to find more people who are like your fans.

Chasing the Uncatchable

If Alice Cooper had quit biting the heads off of bats would the disgusted parents have begun attending his shows? If N.W.A. had quit using profanity in their songs, would censorship activists have begun purchasing their rap albums? Or, if cigarette companies changed their marketing tactics, would critics begin smoking?

The answers to all these questions are obvious. But, how many times do we do the same thing in our lives or businesses? How often do we kowtow to criticism (or simple fear of criticism) expecting that to make us more appealing? The fact is that appealing to all different groups and interests simultaneously is simply not possible.

In fact, trying to be everything to everyone is the path to being nothing to anyone. Double down with those who already like you and/or your product. Ignore your haters or, alternatively, your fans may even love to see you take a stand and roast your haters on social media. Feel out what is right for you and your circle.

But, be sure to build your future on a solid foundation with your fans, don’t ever make the classic mistake of trying to build a future on the sinking sand of criticism.

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.


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,


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!

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How to Handshake the Right Way

First impressions are highly powerful despite the fact these impressions are often formed in under 3 seconds. Many people will form a lasting view of you based on your physical appearance, your clothes, your handshake, your voice.

Given the power of the first impression, we want to do everything we can to “stack the deck” and make these impressions as great as they can be. The handshake is one of the biggest components of your first impression and it’s also maybe the simplest element to radically improve, so, it’s a great return on investment to make sure you are shaking hands the right way.

I meet people every week that are missing key components of a great handshake. Yet, the right way to shake is simple and can be taught in less than 2 minutes. Here are some tips to up your handshake game.

The Frequently Missed Steps to a Great Handshake

  1. Make eye contact and greet the person as you reach for their hand or listen if they are speaking. Either introduce yourself (“Hey, I’m Trey!”) or offer the appropriate greeting for the situation (“Hey, great to see you again!”)
  2. The webbing between your thumb and index finger should meet with the webbing of the other person’s hand. When you clasp your hand, your hands should “locked” together. Most people know this, but, some people have a tendency to not go in all the way and just try to “grab” the fingers rather than lock hands.
  3. Continue eye contact (or resume eye contact if you had to look away to find their hand) during the duration of your hand-to-hand contact. Eye contact is the most common area that I see people mess up. You should really focus in on the person during the greeting. You want them to feel that you are confident, present, and paying attention to them. Good eye contact is the key to feeling a real connection during a handshake.
  4. Give a firm handshake, don’t give the “dead fish” handshake and don’t make the other person’s knees buckle from pain from being overly firm. If you are unsure about firmness level at first, err toward firmness. The “dead fish” creates a very negative impression.
  5. Move your hand up and down a couple of times during the physical contact. Some people do this several times quickly, some people do this just a couple of times slowly. This is the piece that is part of your personality, feel free to experiment with what works for you and the situation.
  6. After you have both verbally greeted one another, break hand-to-hand contact. A good handshake usually only lasts a couple of seconds, but, may last a little longer if greeting phrases & responses are longer. Generally, one person is greeting the other person while reaching for them. Then, the other person greets back during the handshake and the shake is over.
  7. These rules are true for both men and women. Some women feel the need to not lock hands or provide a very weak handshake. A woman’s handshake should be exactly the same as a man’s. There is some very old information still circulating being spread that women should shake hands differently, but, this is just bad info.

I hope you find these quick tips helpful in upping your handshake game. Let me know what you think by emailing me at


Email Inbox as a Todo List

Use Your Email Inbox as a Todo List

This is the simplest way that I have found to track todos sent to you in email. This tweak to how you use your email inbox will ensure that an important task in an email never slips through the cracks again and will boost your peace of mind and productivity.

I’ve been told by a number of friends & clients that this is my best productivity tip because it’s so simple to enact and a very high return on investment.

How to Manage Your Inbox

It’s really pretty simple. Just like it says in the title, just use your email inbox as a todo list. Don’t leave a message in your email inbox unless an action needs to be taken with the email. This is the key.

Everything that needs no further action taken is archived or moved to a different folder. At any given time, only a handful of emails should be in your inbox and you should be able to scroll just a little bit and see your entire inbox contents and get a feel for actions you need to take.

Now let’s look at how it works from a very tactical level.

First Steps – Setup

Use Archive to remove email messages instead of Delete. If you are using Gmail, you probably doing this already. If you are using something else, you may not.

You will be much more confident in clearing & managing your inbox if you know that a message moved out of the inbox is not gone forever, it’s moved to your Archive. You can use your email’s Archive function (Gmail moves messages to ‘All Mail’) or you can just move messages to a folder of your choosing. But, use Archive to get rid of messages instead of deleting them. Worst case, you can always search and find the message again one day.

Make sure to set your smartphone 0r tablet to Archive as well as your desktop client (again, default for most Gmail clients).

Create 3 email folders in addition to your Inbox:

  • To Do
  • Follow Up
  • To Read Someday

We will cover the use of these below.

Some Basic Processing Rules for Messages

Now we are ready to get started. There are really only 6 statuses of messages that can occur. The processing guidelines for all 6 of them are below.

  1. If you have not read an email and never plan to, archive it immediately.
  2. If you have not read an email and aren’t sure when you will (i.e. it’s not time-sensitive, maybe a newsletter or article), then move it to the”To Read Someday” folder. Can crack this folder open while waiting in a doctor’s office one day.
  3. If you have not read an email and plan to do so soon, leave it in your inbox.
  4. If you have read an email and action needs to be taken on the message, leave it in your inbox until you complete the action. When an action is a week or more in the future, then you can, optionally, move the message to the “To Do” folder to cut down on clutter in the inbox, but, this is up to you.
  5. If you have read an email and no action needs to be taken, however, you may need to follow up, move the message immediately to the “Follow Up” folder.
  6. If you have read an email and no action needs to be taken or the action has already been completed, archive it or, if you feel that followup might be needed (i.e. you asked someone to do something and want to make sure that they do it), move the message to the “Follow Up” folder.

The Most Important Part – The Review

Hold a review of your Inbox, To Do, and Follow Up folders weekly. You will often fall off in managing your Inbox during the craziness of the week. This is normal and expected. You don’t need to stress about managing your inbox every single day. This review is your chance to catch everything up.

Go through your Inbox during your Review and look at every message that remains. Then take the appropriate actions described above.

If you want to finish your Review with a completely empty Inbox, you can move “action to be taken” emails to your To Do folder rather than leaving in your Inbox.

I like to do Reviews on Friday afternoons. This sends me into the weekend with the feeling that I have reviewed everything on my plate. Ever get all caught up before vacation and leave with peace of mind? Doing this gives you that feeling every weekend.

However, you can do this any time of week that you like. Use a calendar event or reminder to so that you don’t forget, especially while you develop the habit.

“This sounds great, but, I already have thousands of messages in my inbox that have built up over years. How will I ever get caught up?”

Declare Inbox Bankruptcy. Go back 2 weeks, 2 months, or any time period you are comfortable with and Archive every email before that point. You can use some kind of “Select All” function to get this done quickly.

This gives you a manageable collection of emails to work through from the past few weeks. Most of those old emails are either long since dealt with or it’s too late to act on them anyway.

If you really want to make sure nothing slips through, also send an email to your contact saying:

My email inbox has become unmanageable due to a high volume of email and I have archived many of my old emails. If you are waiting on something from me and haven’t heard back, please send me another email. I’ve adopted a new email management system and I will make 100% sure that your request is processed this time.

All the best,



This method of managing email has been tremendously helpful to me in reducing email-related information & tasks overwhelm. Let me know what you think in the comments below or send me an email at

Bonus Tip – consider turning off notifications for new emails, as detailed in this post about how Notifications are probably silently killing your productivity.

Bullets Before Cannonballs - Testing Your Ideas

The Importance of Testing Your Ideas

Book: Great by Choice – Jim Collins
Concept: Bullets before Cannonballs

In Great By Choice, author Jim Collins asks his readers to imagine their business as a ship at sea. The ship has a cannon and a limited amount of gunpowder. The gunpowder represents your resources, usually time and capital.

You spot an enemy ship. Sinking the enemy ship is your goal. Do you just load up your biggest cannonball, use all of your gunpowder, fire, and hope for the best on your first shot? Do you bet all your resources on that first “big bet” that looks good? If you do, a miss and the sound of a cannonball splashing into the ocean is your most likely scenario. You have now burned all your resources and are out of options as you watch the enemy ship close in.

Collins says that the best approach, and the approach used by the world’s most successful companies, is to first fire tiny bullets that require very little resources to fire. Fire one, watch the miss, adjust your aim, and fire again. The cost in resources of missing is so low that you can afford to take a lot of shots.

Repeat over and over until – Ping! – you score a hit on the enemy vessel. Now, you know your cannon is lined up properly. Load up the rest of your gunpowder and take your big shot. The chances of a hit are high, much higher than if you had just taken that ill-advised first shot without first firing the bullets.

The Power of Testing

What Collins is really talking about here is the importance of testing and validating your assumptions and ideas before making any “big bet”. You want your misses to be on your small bets. Once you have found a small bet that works, then consider the big bet. If your small bets worked, you know your odds of success are pretty good with the bigger bet.

A Real World Example

In the 1970’s, my dad started building two-way radios as a hobby. He wanted to start a business selling and servicing radios. But, instead of going out and buying a storefront and going “all-in” immediately, he began by selling his radios part-time in my grandfather’s tire store. After selling a lot of radios over the course of several months, my dad saw that there was a market for his radios.

So then, and only then, did my dad take the plunge to take out a loan, buy a store, hire employees, and begin selling two-way radios as a standalone business. After making “the big bet”, my dad’s new business generated $1.5M in sales in its first full year.

The Take Away

If you want to start a business, validate your idea any way that you can.  The simple place to start? Talk to people whom you respect to see what they think of your product or service idea. Many startups use services like Google Polls or Kickstarter to gauge market interest in a given product before creating it. The best way to test is begin small-scale selling of your product, like my dad did, though this is not possible for all business types. The method will be different for every product, but, the principle is always the same.

One important note: If cash is not involved in your test, take your results with a grain of salt. My dad’s test was perfect, his future customers were literally buying his product already. Because of this, he knew he had great data.

If he had only asked the tire store customers if they would hypothetically buy radios if he started selling them, the data could have easily been very off. People say a lot of things, but, what they actually spend cold, hard cash on is often very different.

Don’t Fall Into the Trap

It’s easy to fixate on the romantic notion of the “person who always knew that they knew best and defied all the odds” by making a big bet that “shouldn’t have worked” and who built a great business or career. These people make magazine covers. But, the hundreds who think just like them that fail and end up broke don’t end up on magazine covers.

The reality is that most successful people use tactics like “Bullets Before Cannonballs” to quietly stack the odds in their favor before making their big bets. You can never guarantee success in any venture, but, you can slant the odds of success in your favor by testing and building momentum first.

The next time you have an idea that would have major time or cash investment involved, find ways to test and validate before making the big bet.

Have you ever knowingly or unknowingly used the “bullets then cannonballs” approach in your life? If so, how? Let me know in the comments or by emailing me at trey@fiveminutebookclub.

Phone call

Stop Answering Phone Calls from Numbers You Don’t Know

“Hi, I’m from the Warranty Center, I’m calling about your auto warranty”

If you’re like me, I used to get several of these phone calls per week. It’s annoying and it interrupts your work, your train of thought or your time with family or friends.

Someone advised me a while back to quit answering calls from any number that isn’t in my phone already. Just let it go to voicemail. The thought never really occurred to me before. It’s just kind of human nature to answer a ringing phone. And, if the number is unknown, our curiosity can take over.

But, the reasons to leave the call unanswered are pretty straightforward. If you aren’t already expecting a call, and you get a call from a number that you don’t recognize, then one of the following is probably true:

  1. The call is from someone you don’t want to talk to at all or
  2. The call is from someone you do want to talk to, but, you weren’t expecting the call. You’re now talking to someone important at a time when you didn’t expect to be talking to them.

Neither of these scenarios are good. #1, at best, wastes your time and interrupts what you are doing. We’ve covered previously the “death by a thousand cuts” problem of allowing too many tiny distractions into your day in this blog post.

It’s also worth noting that not answering seems to get you off telemarketing lists faster. Another bit of food for thought – as far as people that you don’t to talk with go, a telemarketer might be the best case scenario.

In the case of the person you want to talk to, they will leave a message and you can return the call fully prepared. This will enable you to make the best possible impression and will help to reduce those “why did I say that” moments.

I hope you find this quick tip as useful as I have. Following this rule has lessened my annoyances and increased my productivity by reducing unnecessary interruptions. It’s one of those tiny changes that, added together with other tiny changes, can add up to a big difference in focus and enjoyment of life over time.

Bonus Tip

We also want to reduce the number of times your phone rings unnecessarily in the first place. Many of you already have, but, if you haven’t already, register your phone number with the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call Registry at Telemarketers can be fined if they continue to call you after the 31 day registration window and you can easily file a complaint online.

Little known bonus fact: Even if you are not on the call registry, you may still file a complaint if you receive a telemarketing call that is a recording.

Intuition in firefighters

Intuition: What It Is and How to Develop It

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Gladwell explored the amazing power of intuition. The book shares one particular story of a fire lieutenant who, sensing something is “off” in a burning building, pulls his firefighters out moments before complete collapse of the structure. The lieutenant, at first, believed his premonition to be the result of some kind of ESP.

Over the course of 2 hours, the signals that contributed to the lieutenant’s intuition were unraveled in an interview by Gary Klein, a decision-making expert. Things had occurred that didn’t make sense – the fire was quiet, the fire was not hot enough, the fire was not responding to water.

In this after-the-fact analysis the lieutenant finally realized that his subconscious mind had actually put together pieces of a very rational puzzle in mere seconds in the middle of chaos that day. His intuition had rightly concluded that the fire was a particularly dangerous type of fire that could collapse the building. His conscious mind was so caught up in the chaos that it missed the signs. But, his conscious mind didn’t miss the message from his subconscious – “GET OUT!”

Our Intuition is Really “Under the Hood” Processing Power

The subconscious part of brain has some serious processing horsepower that our conscious minds lack. Our intuition, as it turns out, is really the result of our subconscious brain processing information and matching patterns for us in the background. The results can seem almost superhuman in both their accuracy and timeliness. But, how do we tap into this ability if we don’t have it today?

The answer can be found in the below quote, describing the circumstances under which our intuition performs badly:

“I’ve learned that your intuition about things you don’t know that much about isn’t very good” – Larry Page, Google co-founder

The fire lieutenant was an expert in fire, having spent years in the department, earning the rank of lieutenant. He had received both education in fire fighting and paid his dues in the school of hard knocks, entering dozens of burning buildings in his career. His intuition had a wealth of information to draw on.

A less experienced, less educated firefighter would have missed all these signals, had no such premonitions as our lieutenant did, and the story could have ended in catastrophe. By the same token, the incredible intuition of the fire lieutenant above, would probably not work nearly as well if he walked into your career today.

Developing Intuition

Now that we have realized what intuition really is and really isn’t, we realize that intuition is not a magical ability that we either have or we don’t. Intuition is a product of learning and experience in an area, which means that it can be developed.

Certainly some people may be predisposed to more easily learning and understanding certain areas. But, just as Jim Kouzes taught me about development of leadership skills, development of intuition seems to correlate strongly with learning and development of knowledge.

How do you become an expert and develop intuition? All it really takes is putting in the effort to learn and develop experience in an area. Your intuition will be only as good as the effort you put in.

You are probably already an expert on more than you realize… for example, you are probably an “expert” on your significant other or your parents or your closest friends. If they are “off”, your intuition probably picks up on it quickly even if you can’t put your finger on the exact thing that tipped you off. This is a natural result of spending a lot of time with those people and paying attention.

If you want to have this capability on other matters, simply start putting in the time. Some complex topics will certainly require a lot of time. But, it can be done.

This is a very freeing realization for me. It means that, intuition is not some magical power that you are born with or not born with. It means it is a simple product of sustained effort. This “superpower” is here for anyone with the will to harness if they put in the work.

Has intuition ever helped you make a decision? Did it lead you down the right path or the wrong one? Let me know your story by emailing or in the comments below.

The featured image of this article is used under Wikimedia Commons license, original photo taken by Sylvain Pedneault. Click here for the source page.

Get Paid to Stop Using Your Debit Card

Many of us use a debit card for nearly everything. It’s convenient, it’s simple. You pay for something, it comes out of your bank account, and you never have to think about it again.

But, to anyone looking to optimize and improve their personal financials this is my #1 piece of advice: You should never use a debit card. By using a debit card for every transaction, you are likely costing yourself $500 per year or more.

Simply replacing your debit card transactions with credit card transactions can put an extra $500-1,000 per year in your pocket, depending on your spending habits and offer you better fraud protection. Let’s take a closer look at both this advantages:

How a Credit Card Beats a Debit Card

#1 Better protection in case of fraud – If your debit card number is stolen and used by someone else, that money leaves your bank account. You almost certainly have fraud protection from the card issuer, so you won’t lose your money permanently. But, here’s the catch: it can take several days for the money to go back into your bank account after the fraud is reported.

And, worst case, if the fraud isn’t caught by your debit card company, you may not even know the money is missing until a debit charge is declined or a check is bounced due to insufficient funds. Compare to your worst case with a credit card: if you have a credit card declined due to hitting your credit limit, you can fallback to another card, or your debit card, or you can even pull cash out of your still safe bank account to use.

Contrast this with a credit card fraud case: you have additional charges appear on your credit card, you call the card issuer, they waive the charges, send you a new card, you’re done. If there is any controversy over a charge, you simply don’t pay that part of the bill. Your worst case with credit fraud is that you have to do without your credit card for 2 or 3 days. The money never leaves your account, your cash flow is never impacted.

If there is any situation where money could ever be tight for you, #1 is a very big deal.

#2 Using a credit card can give you a lot of cash back – My favorite credit card is the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card.  You get a whopping 6% cash back at U.S. grocery stores, 3% cash back at the gas station, and 1% cash back on everything else. I usually earn about $600-800 cash back per year on this card alone.

But, it can be difficult to get through life with only an American Express card since some stores don’t take American Express. So, I pair the Amex with an Amazon Rewards Visa card. The Amazon card gets 3% cash back from Amazon purchases (which I use often), 2% cash back at restaurants and drugstores, and 1% back on everything else.

The strategy – I use the Visa at restaurants & drugstores (2% cash back, better than the Amex on these categories), on Amazon (3% cash back, better than the Amex on these categories), and anywhere that doesn’t take American Express. I use the American Express everywhere else. Simple.

You want to use your credit card everywhere possible to maximize your cashback. You typically can’t use your credit card to pay government fees, taxes, or mortgage payments. Also, many utility companies won’t take a credit card. Or, if some of these entities will let you use a card, you are forced to pay a “service fee” or “convenience fee” which would wipe out any cash back that you might earn. So, don’t use your card for any charge like this.

However, most insurance companies, cable companies, cellular phone companies, and other recurring fees will gladly take your credit card. Don’t use your bank’s bill pay or use an automatic bank draft to pay these bills. Go to the biller’s website and set recurring payments using your credit card.

Put everything on your credit card that you can to maximize your rewards. While 1% might not sound like a lot, if you look at everything you buy in the course of year, 1% can really accumulate into a good chunk of change.

Extra credit – If you really want to squeak out some extra cash, there a handful of cards out now which offer 1.5% on everything, like the Capital One Quicksilver card. You could add this to mix if you want the extra .5% on your “everything else” category, but, it adds a bit of complexity for not a lot of extra return.

There are also some cards like the Chase Freedom or the Discover It card that offer a great cashback amount of 5% on rotating categories that rotate very quarter. For example, a card issuer might offer 5% cash back at movie theaters in January thru March or at department stores in April thru June. But, for me, tracking the categories and being sure to have the right card onhand is a hassle. I also don’t like carrying too many different credit cards in my wallet as I like to carry a small wallet. For me, I feel that the American Express Blue Cash Preferred/Amazon Rewards Visa combo offers 85-90% of the optimal benefits for minimal effort.

However, if you are one of the few people who doesn’t shop with Amazon very much, then the Amazon Rewards card could be easily swapped for the Freedom, Discover, or Quicksilver. You can also play the rotating quarterly category game if you wish.

Cash Back vs. Points, Miles, etc. – There are tons of other reward programs out there – you can get points, you get miles, dollars to spend with certain companies. But, I like the simplicity of just getting cash back. I find that points and miles just lead to me searching for something to buy, and in many cases, what I end up getting isn’t something that I would have spent cold, hard cash on. Cash back means I don’t have to waste time, energy or brainpower on my rewards, I just take the cash.

You may be saying, “But I like that my debit card just comes right out of my bank account and I don’t have to worry about paying a bill” – Set AutoPay to pay the full new balance on your credit card’s website. Now you have all the advantages of the credit card and the simplicity of a debit card.

Again, be sure to set AutoPay on your credit cards that you are using to earn cash back. This is very important. We are using these like a debit card. Accidentally miss one payment and the penalties and interest can cost you most of the cashback you would earn in a year. You also don’t want to waste time and mental horsepower on remembering to pay multiple credit card bills monthly.

If you intend to carry a balance on a credit card, then use a separate card entirely for those charges that you don’t want to pay immediately. The point of these cash back cards are to earn you cash on your purchases that would have gone to a debit card previously. You don’t want to mix purchases that you might pay over time with these “run rate” purchases.

This is a good place to mention, however, that carrying a credit card balance is strongly not recommended. If you already have a credit card balance, consider using your new cashback rewards to help you pay off your balance faster. Also, consider moving your credit card balance to a new card that will give you 0% or very interest for 6 to 12 months. This will instantly save you interest cost and give you time to beat down the balance.

To further simplify things, use or a service like it to aggregate all your credit cards and your bank accounts into one view. You can login to Mint and see, for example, that you owe $500 on one card, $200 on another, and you have $2,000 in your bank account. You can also review a list of all your transactions from all your cards and bank accounts and it has a nice mobile app. Login at least once per week to review charges and make sure everything looks as you expect. This will help you keep a handle on your finances and will help you spot any fraudulent transaction that your credit card company hasn’t caught already. If you are using my weekly review strategy for your email inbox, that would be a great time to review your financial transactions from the week as well.

Only keep a debit card on hand for ATM transactions – I’m not saying you shouldn’t carry a debit card or have one. Only that you shouldn’t use it to buy dinner or pay for groceries. Take the cash from the credit card company for those transactions, carry your debit card in case you need to pull cash out of the bank. Bonus debit card tip – get a debit card from a bank that offers to pay your ATM withdrawal fees. It’s often a pain to search for your particular bank’s ATMs to avoid withdrawal fees, but, many banks like PNC or Ally offer debit card programs in which they will refund ATM fees charged to you by other bank’s ATMs.

Other credit card extras – Many credit cards offer things like Purchase Protection in case of accidental damage or theft within 90 days of purchase, Return Protection if the merchant won’t let you return an item, Rental Car Insurance, and other benefits. I have never had occasion to use these, so, I don’t focus on them, but, it is another leg up the credit card has over the debit card. Parting piece of advice – if something bad happens with an item you bought on credit card, check into your credit card features to see if the credit card company has a policy in place that may be of help.


I hope that all this has been of help to you. A number of my friends have adopted this strategy and it has helped them tremendously. An extra few hundred dollars of income per year for doing next to nothing is a pretty great return. It turns out that reward is not always tied to risk after all.

Do you have a favorite credit card that I missed? Did this strategy help you save some cash? Comment below or email me at

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.

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