The 3 Decisions That Will Change Your Financial Life

There’s nothing worse than a rich person who’s chronically angry or unhappy. There’s really no excuse for it, yet I see this phenomenon every day. It results from an extremely unbalanced life, one with too much expectation and not enough appreciation for what’s there.

Without gratitude and appreciation for what you already have, you’ll never know true fulfillment. But how do you cultivate balance in life? What’s the point of achievement if your life has no balance?

For nearly four decades, I’ve had the privilege of coaching people from every walk of life, including some of the most powerful men and women on the planet. I’ve worked with presidents of the United States as well as owners of small businesses.

Across the board, I’ve found that virtually every moment people make three key decisions that dictate the quality of their lives.

If you make these decisions unconsciously, you’ll end up like majority of people who tend to be out of shape physically, exhausted emotionally and often financially stressed. But if you make these decisions consciously, you can literally change the course of your life today.

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5 Morning Rituals to Keep You Productive All Day Long

Here are five practical steps to incorporate into any morning routine to optimize your time at the office and maintain productivity all day long:

7 minutes of exercise. Yep, not 10 — just seven. Why? It’s short enough that it won’t impact the rest of your morning routine and long enough to shake off any residual sluggishness from the night before — including that extra glass of wine.

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The Big Lessons I Learned From My First Entrepreneurial Job

Instead of interviewing me, he pitched me on the opportunity: Running a College Pro franchise was a great way for college kids to learn to run their own business over the summer, painting houses and earning tons of money.

I remember my College Pro training fondly. There were PowerPoint presentations about the positive and negative qualities of oil and latex paints and role-playing exercises about pitching house-painting services and answering homeowner objections.

The training culminated in having to paint an actual house. It rained, however, and all I remember doing was eating pizza with the sales manager while he talked about paint-sprayer pricing.

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5 Skills You Must Acquire Before You Can Lead

How to Create Strategic Partnerships That Are a Win-Win

But it takes some skill and hard work to pull off being a leader.

Chances are, you’re already leading in some area of your life, even if not at work. Whether you love leading or feel reluctance in that role, here are five skills I’ve found essential for being the pathfinder in any area of your life:

1. Practice self-reflection.

One of the keys to being a good leader is having the ability to reflect back on decisions made and look at situations, whether good or bad, as lessons.

Once you’ve done so, you can actively apply what you’ve learned. Taking mistakes or failures in stride and moving forward is an essential part of becoming a leader of integrity. Many of these lessons are useful to share with staff and strategic partners. In my case, I’ve found they often apply even to my children.

2. Be proactive rather than reactive.

Successful leaders come to the table prepared for a variety of scenarios and know how to behave when situations fall apart or don’t go according to plan. Preparedness ensures that you’re never in a situation where you can’t offer value or assist in problem solving as needed.

This is simply being proactive. If you’re in a reactive state, chances are you’re not operating from a place of calm; your emotions are leading the charge. The best decisions, however, often result from when your thoughts and emotions work in tandem.

You must always consider not only what’s favorable for the company’s bottom line but also what’s best for the team and the overall morale of the company.

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9 Killer Tips for Building and Selling Your Business

Many Cinderella stories are about entrepreneurs reaching levels of success that even they themselves didn’t think possible. These are brave souls who built fascinating products, learned priceless lessons, and eventually sold their businesses in an inspiring way. Some took decades to reach their goals and others, to their own surprise, did it in a record time!

Gentry Underwood launched Mailbox App in January 2013. Finding that most people were tired of searching through lists of emails to find what they needed, he developed an app that simplified and streamlined the inbox. After a brilliant pre-launch video that went viral, he managed to created a virtual waiting list of users, who were eagerly awaiting their turn to download the app. He then sold his app to Dropbox for $100 million just 37 days after launch.

Everybody has a friend that at some point said something like, “I had the idea for Facebook. If only I had acted on it” or “That baby carrier was my idea all along”. The reality is, most ideas are not worth the paper they’re written on. The brilliance is usually in the execution of an idea and not in the idea itself.

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The Truth About Entrepreneurship

To most people, entrepreneurs are seen as one of two things: You’re either Mark Zuckerberg, wildly successful and famous, or you’re eating Ramen noodles and failing miserably at building a business, app, startup, etc.

You might disagree with that assessment because the only things being put on the front pages of media outlets (and I completely understand you’re reading this on a media outlet) are the stories of the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world. Or Richard Bransons. Or Elon Musks. Or Marissa Mayers. The list goes on.

Best selling author Chris Brogan said it best (and I’m paraphrasing):

“No one wants to see just your before pictures.” 

You know what before pictures are right? Those side-by-side comparison photos of people when they were extremely out of shape and then worked their asses off to get in amazing shape? Yeah, no one has ever wanted to just see the out of shape portion of that comparison photo. In fact, I’d be willing to bet people would turn away from just before photos.

On the flip side, people love after photos. How many fitness magazines are in existence right now? How many gorgeous celebrities have we seen on the covers of magazines, newspapers, TV, etc? How many successful entrepreneurs get featured on prominent news outlets for their successes?

The roller coaster ride that is entrepreneurship is barely talked about. Actually, that statement isn’t completely true. We know that entrepreneurs struggle (before photos), but only when there’s a success story to immediately follow (after photos).

The problem with the majority of entrepreneurship is that it sucks and no one wants to just read about the struggles, the constant ups and downs, the risks that don’t pay off, the tiny lessons learned and the small victories that keep entrepreneurs going. Unfortunately, people don’t realize that’s what happens when you work for yourself or start your own company. They’re only thinking about becoming “the next Instagram” or what their incredibly lucrative exit strategy is going look like.

The truth about being an entrepreneur is that it’s much harder work than showing up to a normal job and getting a paycheck every two weeks.

The truth about being an entrepreneur is that something like 90% of people fail within the first few months and completely give up (missing an opportunity that might be right around the corner from failure).

The truth about being an entrepreneur is that there are rarely successful exits, especially ones of the billion dollar variety.

The truth about being an entrepreneur is that barely anyone will want to see or talk about your struggles and early phases. There’s a slim chance your idea could get some attention, but it’s highly unlikely unless you have credibility or existing connections.

The truth about being an entrepreneur is that it’s downright hard and lots of people are going to doubt you along the way.

But you shouldn’t let those truths discourage you.

Use those truths as motivation to understand the world of entrepreneurship; whether you’re starting your own company, building your own business or creating something unique.

There will always be exceptions to the rule, but there will never be another Mark Zuckerberg or Instagram. Strive to carve out your own path and know that it’s not going to be an easy road but that you control your own future.

8 Questions Business Leaders Should Ask Themselves Every Day

Leadership is not prescriptive and what works for one person may not work for another. There is one trait, however, that many successful business leaders and entrepreneurs share: They are constantly asking themselves questions to stay relevant and perceptive.

Whether you’re running a company, heading up a startup or leading a team, your ability to analyze and critique your workday and approach is critical to success. Keeping tabs on your own development might help  figure out areas for improvement, deepen your understanding of your industry and set a good example to the people you manage.

Asking yourself these questions every day will help you grow as an individual and as a leader:

1. What did I achieve?

At the end of each working day, take a step back and ask what you’ve achieved. Keeping tabs on your accomplishments is a great positivity and productivity booster. Strive to undertake at least one meaningful task each day that will directly help you reach your end goals. If you believe you could have achieved more, harness your disappointment and channel that energy to help you work harder the next day.

2. What mistakes did I make and how can I learn from them?

Not every decision you make will be the right one. And in such instances, holding your hands up and admitting you have made a mistake is the best thing to do. There is a saying, “More people would learn from their mistakes if they weren’t so busy denying that they made them.” And these words of wisdom are important to remember. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s how you respond to them that defines you.

3. Did I help someone else succeed today?

Good leaders focus on the success of those around them as well as their own personal achievements. Make it your mantra to help others succeed or provide them with opportunities each day. It doesn’t always have to be a grand gesture. It could be something as simple such as spending 20 minutes with an employee to discuss his or her performance and progress. Building the strength of those working for you will ultimately enhance your company.

4. What motivated me?

Running a business and leading a team can be difficult and during the tough times, reach for the motivation that keeps you going and encourages you to strive for betterment. Take note of the things that inspire you and draw on them when you need renewed enthusiasm. Good leaders are acutely aware of the things that fuel their personal motivation and use that knowledge to their benefit.

5. Did I work toward my goals?

When you’re at the helm of a ship, it’s wise to keep destination in mind. Likewise when you’re running a business or leading a team, you should have goals to keep everyone focused and moving in the same direction. Outline your business aims and ask yourself every day if you’ve worked toward them. If not, figure out why not and how you’ll change tack to put everything on the right trajectory. Never lose sight of your goals.

6. What stumbling blocks did I come across?

What are your sticking points? Is there a particular division of the business that you struggle with? Are you unable to come up with a workable strategy for a particular function? If so, identify the areas that require improvement or the resources that will go a long way toward overcoming the problem.

Once you understand where your weaknesses lie, create a small team and talk about the areas of concern. Share ideas and work through the issues together in a constructive way. This is great for team building and getting everyone on the same page. It will also get the problem solved so you can move on.

7. What do I need to let go of?

You’re setting yourself up for failure if you take on too much. Business owners and department heads can be guilty of the notion that they need to be directly involved with every decision made at their business. Part of being a leader is being able to recruit effectively.

Build a team around you that you trust to make decisions and get things done. Don’t be removed from your business. Instead allow your employees to shoulder some of the burden. This not only means that progress will happen quicker. But by sharing the responsibility, you”ll build a more collaborative company culture. Ask yourself today, What can I hand over?

8. What legacy do I want to leave behind?

Finally, how do you want to be remembered? Keep this in mind every day and work toward that end goal. Are you happy with the way you conducted yourself today? Remember that character rules.

You’re not born with the qualities that make up your character, but develop them as you go through your experiences, failures and successes. Govern reactions to events to develop the character you’d like to have.

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