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The One-Hour Investment With A 100-Hour Payoff

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put your phone down

Here’s a quick thought experiment that will teach you something about yourself. Say you’re working at your computer, with your smartphone on the desk beside you.

Your phone buzzes with a new text message. Do you keep working on the computer, or stop what you’re doing to check the text?

The vast majority of us, in my observation, choose option B. A text is usually so much more exciting than whatever we’re working on, so we stop our flow of work and check the text.

Distraction is the enemy of success

When you’re deeply engrossed in meaningful work, you’re in a state of consciousness that psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls flow. You know this state, where you lose track of time and become one with the work. You’re “in the zone.”

Now think of all the digital distractions that constantly tempt us: text messages, instant messages, emails, and so on. When we allow ourselves to be pulled into these distractions, it pulls us out of flow. This means a massive loss in productivity, because it takes time to get back into flow.

I started out my career as a software developer, where flow was necessary. I would be eight levels deep in the code, and if someone interrupted me to ask about my weekend, that entire mental superstructure would come raining down in a shower of pixels. It would take me fifteen minutes to build it back up again.

The bad news is that every digital distraction you allow into your life has a “cascading effect” in terms of lost productivity. The good news is that you can take control of these distractions. And it will only take you one hour.

“By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination.” – Christopher Columbus

We are all Pavlov’s dogs 

The great Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov conducted an experiment with dogs where he rang a bell each time he served them food. After a while, the dogs began salivating when he rang the bell, whether he served food or not: their bodies became conditioned to expect food whenever they heard the bell.

We don’t often think of ourselves like Pavlov’s dogs, but we are. The text message alert on your phone is a “bell” that has conditioned you to expect a tiny burst of information. Because humans feed on information, the text alert delivers a little dopamine hit to your brain, and you stop what you’re doing to answer it. This is why digital distractions are so difficult to resist: they’re addictive!

Software and hardware makers understand this. These digital distractions are built into every device and app, because that’s how they get you to use them. The more an app interrupts your life, the more likely you’ll get addicted to it.

There’s only one way out: turn off the bell. You have to take control of your own working environment. Turn off, remove, and uninstall as many digital distractions as possible. Strive for a Zen-like simplicity on your computer and smartphone, where you will be able to devote large chunks of uninterrupted time to work that matters.

I recommend investing one hour in cleaning up all these digital distractions. Do it today, before you forget about it. It’s the best time investment you will make this year, because each digital distraction you remove will save you hours of time in the future. Here’s a list to get you started:

  • Text messages: Set your phone to vibrate rather than an audible alert when you receive a text. Mute texts during working hours.
  • Instant messages: If you have instant message platforms like Google Chat or Skype installed, turn them off by default, rather than having them load at startup.
  • System messages: Get rid of as many icons in your system tray as possible, and remove their meaningless interruptions. (Most icons allow you to right-click, then choose “options.”)
  • Audible notifications: Turn off all the audible beeps, boops, and ding-dong arooga’s from your phone and computer. These are productivity killers.
  • Live updates: Turn off all the useless, distracting scrolling headlines (on the Windows 10 start menu, for example) by right-clicking and turning off “live updates.”
  • Internet distractions: Remove time-wasting bookmarks from your browser, so you have to type them in manually. Install an app that blocks the internet during working hours.
  • Email: This is the big one. Ruthlessly unsubscribe! Get yourself off all unnecessary email lists. If in doubt, yank it out.

“Don’t become a mere recorder of facts, but try to penetrate the mystery of their origin.” – Ivan Pavlov

If you had the opportunity to invest $1 today for a $100 payoff over the next year, it would be a wildly profitable investment. This is the one-hour time investment that will pay off at least 100 hours in productivity over the next year. Only you can make the investment; no one can do it for you.

How much money will you invest this year? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!
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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Chris Targett

    Apr 21, 2016 at 7:32 pm

    Thanks for this John.

    I find I can ignore texts as I put my phone on the other side of the room but an email that pings up in the bottom right hand corner of the screen is always a temptress when working on a mundane task.

    I’ll be a lot more aware of my distractions now and ensure they’re turned off!

  2. Inderjeet

    Apr 13, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    Very well written. We should not let these digital distractions affect us…I am turning all off right now. Thanks for great article. Keep it up!

  3. Kylie Rowe

    Apr 10, 2016 at 10:29 pm

    After I read this, I turned off several digital distractions, particularly the live updates scrolling across my laptop screen, and have been 10x more productive in a matter of hours. Thanks for the reminder! Simple but great article.

  4. Gaurav

    Apr 9, 2016 at 7:15 am

    Wow ! a new perspective towards ‘ping, pong, cheu,…..’ Great Article. Thanks

  5. Lourdes

    Apr 8, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    Enjoyed this article. This is exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Entrepreneurs

5 Powerful Confessions From Entrepreneurs Who Never Went to College

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entrepreneurs that didn't go to college

How important is college education for most of us? Can an entrepreneur become successful without a college diploma? Let’s see what secrets remarkable entrepreneurs may reveal to us about the way they survived without college.

Looking back at the experience we gather from the most powerful and famous business people, there’s more often a plus rather than a minus in becoming successful without a college degree.

1. Abraham Lincoln

“All I have learned,I learned from books.” – Abraham Lincoln

One of the 8 U.S. presidents who started as entrepreneurs and the only one who received a patent, Abraham Lincoln never went to college. In fact, he was not the only U.S. president who didn’t do it. 7 more presidents didn’t attend college as well.

One of the most striking confessions is that he valued books more than anything else that can educate. Proving that books were his teachers, Abraham Lincoln also acknowledged that his best friend would be a person who could give him a book he hadn’t read before.

No wonder, every entrepreneur with self-respect should read books. Abraham Lincoln proved that self-education is, actually, what makes us more powerful than we are. The 16th president of the United States invented a tool to lift riverboats over sandbars without a diploma as an evidence of his smartness.

2. Walt Disney

“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” –  Walt Disney

The father of Mickey Mouse, the first animated feature film in the world, and Disneyland founder, Walt Disney considered books as a treasure as well. However, because of his inattentiveness and constant drawing, Disney dropped out of high school.

Thus, his stronger motivator was failure. Working on Snow White, one of his most successful projects, Walt lost nearly everything, ran out of money, and almost went down the drain. But that was one of the lessons that helped him become the king of cartoons.

3. Richard Branson

“The best way of learning about anything is by doing.” – Richard Branson

A risk-taker with over a $4 billion fortune and the founder of the Virgin Group, Richard Branson left school at the age of 16 to start his first business – Student magazine. Despite the fact, that he faced dyslexia during his school years, he managed to take a chance in his hands and do what he wanted.

Although, Richard says he has no secrets to hide, he still confesses that he works hard, smart and does it with fun. The power of doing is a secret ingredient to success, according to Branson.

4. Milton Hershey

“My experience has shown me that the people who are exceptionally good in business aren’t so because of what they know, but because of their insatiable need to know more.” – Milton S. Hershey

The founder of the Hershey Chocolate Corporation and a philanthropist, Milton Hershey changed 6 schools, because his family moved very often and, eventually, he left school after the 4th grade to become an apprentice to a printer. Later, he found his passion in candy making.

His idea about business success is not in knowledge, but in the desire to know. Motivation and curiosity can lead you to the unknown realms and open them with ease, if you are ready to experience changes. The only question is to what extend your need is insatiable.

5. Coco Chanel

“Success is most often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.” – Coco Chanel

Being taught sewing by nuns, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, the only fashion designer to have been put on the 100 most influential people of the 20th century Time magazine’s list, never went to college. Her daring ambitions gave her strength to become one of the most successful designers in the world.

According to her words, the secret of success isn’t in knowing. Quite the opposite – it’s in unawareness. Virtually, it’s unknowing of the fact that failure is a must-be in business. And here’s when fear comes next after you think of a possible fiasco. Without knowing, there’s no fear. Consequently, you’re not afraid to stumble and fall, because you do not know it’s initially programmed.

What unites all these outstanding entrepreneurs? Except for the absence of a college degree? It’s the ability to acknowledge what actually ruled their success. And that’s not college education. Educators, professors and teachers who strive to make college education more proactive and productive can never substitute the inner power of a budding entrepreneur.

Have you met any entrepreneurs who never needed a college degree to become what they are now? Share your experience in the comments.
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How to Lead a Virtual Team: 6 Essential Tips You Need to Know

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The rules have changed. You don’t need an office. You don’t need investors. You DO NOT need permission!

Today, anyone with a good idea (and an addiction for success) can start their own business. Within a matter of months you can build a six-figure business. It takes dedication and commitment, as you already know, but another vital ingredient many forget about in the beginning (I know I did) is to involve others.

You cannot do ‘this’ on your own. You need a team, but once again the rules have changed. You don’t need an office. You don’t need local people you ‘see’ each day.  There’s a new kid in town.

Introducing Your Virtual Team:

Virtual assistants… freelancers… location independent workers… there’s an entire generation who don’t wish to play by yesterday’s rules. The likes of Buffer and Infinitus have built seven-figure companies with no headquaters. Big name entrepreneurs like Michael Hyatt are building teams with no boundaries. The opportunities for a go-getting success seeker like you are vast.

But, building your virtual team is dangerous. There are many pitfalls to building a virtual team. Lucky for you and me there are MANY people to learn from. People who have been there and done it, and who offer advice so you don’t have to make the same mistakes they have. I’ve asked a selection of experts who know all about the right and wrong way to build a successful virtual team. This is what they say:

1. Chris Ducker: Create your 3 lists to freedom

“To save yourself time and money, create a list of: things you hate doing everyday, things you can’t do yourself, and things you shouldn’t be doing. This creates a blueprint of what your virtual team should work on, and allows you to effectively manage it.”

As founder of ‘Virtual Staff Finder’, Chris Ducker has helped entrepreneurs lead a balanced lifestyle for many years. What his ‘3 lists to freedom’ offers is your starting point, because it forces you to consider all the tasks you do (and could do), and hone in on what you should do. From there you can ensure your virtual team grows in a way that will save you time and make you money.

2. Erlend Bakke: Insist on a daily update

“My best tip is the daily update. This is what I ask them to send me: enter date and hours worked in total. What they did today. Two challenges encountered. Three questions they have for me. I have my three CEOs send me this update on a daily basis. It has saved me many hours over the past six years.”

This tip from the founder Mr Outsource, Erlend Bakke, is gold. You build a team to save yourself time, so the last thing you want is to chase updates, or have your team inundate you with questions. Instead, insist they update you each day with these key details. This allows you to stay in the loop, make necessary changes, and to do so without wasting your precious time.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” – Michael Jordan

3. Erin Blaskie: Create a solid backup plan

Create solid back up plans for if the worst case scenario were to happen. I had grown my own company to over 70 clients, and leaned on a few sub-contractors to help fill in the gaps. While this was great for clients to have that one-stop shop, it left me in a precarious situation when my lead web designer disappeared suddenly.”

As one of the early pioneers of virtual assistants, Erin Blaskie has seen the highs and lows of building a virtual team. A key component is to think how you can scale your operations at all times, and not rely on one (or a few) single person.

4. Kimanzi Constable: You shouldn’t let anyone have complete access to every part of your business

“Make sure you understand what you’ll give your virtual assistant access to and what you should give them access to. You shouldn’t let anyone have complete access to every part of your business.”

As a lifestyle entrepreneur and globetrotting consultant, Kimanzi Constable has built an ever-growing virtual team over the last few years. But he raises a good point, because you need to consider who has access to what in your business; and why. Failure here can have grand consequence, as Kimanzi found when one of his VA’s did the dirty.

5. Natalie Sisson: Share your business vision with your VA

Share your business vision with your VA, as it gets them on board with the bigger picture of why they do what they do. It also gives them ownership over their role, as they know what we’re trying to achieve as a team.”

After over a decade of travelling the world, Natalie Sisson built her Suitcase Entrepreneur community with the help of a virtual team. As she says, it’s important to help your team appreciate WHY they do what they do. Your aim isn’t to build a team, it’s to create a culture.

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” – Andrew Carnegie

6. Ari Meisel: Make the experience as rich as possible

Embrace asynchronous communication such as slack, and video messaging with Fika. Make the experience as rich as possible for people who are not in the same room as you.”

As an outsourcing advocate for many years, Ari Meisel built Get Leverage to provide his clients the virtual assistance they need. He appreciates the importance of communication, especially when you’re communicating with people in different rooms, countries, and continents.

There are an array of tools to communicate face-to-face these days, so don’t only speak to your virtual team over email. Involve them. Speak with them. Create an experience that leaves them feeling valued and part of a “real” team (not a virtual one).

The possibilities are endless for today’s success-seeking entrepreneur. A virtual team provides you the freedom you desire and the opportunity to grow. But there’s a right and wrong way to build one. After reading this post, I hope you understand how the best-of-the-best build theirs.

What are some of the ways you have built a great team for your business? Let us know by commenting below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Entrepreneurs

5 Mistakes New Entrepreneurs Make During Their First Year

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Would you consider selling 500+ million books a success? Of course you would, and it takes a rather creative and smart individual to achieve it.

JK Rowling is one of the most successful and celebrated authors of all time, but before her Harry Potter series grew into a global phenomenon, 12 publishers rejected her. Even the world’s most successful people fail. They make mistakes and suffer setbacks.

Such adversity never ends, not even when you reach the top. But it’s during your early stages when you suffer the most, because you only know what you know.  However, what if I told you there was a way to avoid many of the mistakes most people make. What if there was a way to avoid all that heartache, so you can fast-track yourself to the front of the line.  There is, and it isn’t as hard as you might imagine.

The smartest thing any new entrepreneur can do is to learn from other people. Why make your own mistakes when you can learn from other peoples’? Why suffer, when they have already created a solution to turn such failure into success?

This is what I did when I interviewed 160+ successful people for my latest book, ‘The Successful Mistake’. I dove into their biggest mistakes so you don’t have to make them.

Stop trying to do everything on your own. Nobody built an empire on their own. You need to involve others, and you need to build a team. Erin Blaskie tried to do it all by herself when she first created her virtual assistant business.

She found success. She had happy clients who loved her work. Yet it soon became too much, and the once high-standard that set her apart began to slip. Those clients jumped ship, and it left Erin exhausted. You cannot do this on your own. You need help. Don’t fight this, embrace it.

How To Fix This:

Think about all the tasks you do during an average week, and choose ONE to outsource. Over the next few days, find a VA who can do this work for you. Hire them next week. Start the process and never look back.

It’s easy to say yes. Saying yes feels good. On the outside, yes is a good word, because yes means more work and money. But the truth is, yes brings nothing but danger.

When Greg Hickman first started his business, him and his co-founder said yes to everyone. After all, their mobile marketing agency could potentially help any business, so they said yes to a restaurant… a bar… a barber… a golf course… and anyone else they could get a meeting with. Yes felt good, but ‘yes’ built zero traction. They tried to help too many people, and in the end helped nobody.

How To Fix This:

If you don’t have a customer avatar, you need to create one. This ‘single’ person is who you serve. Say yes to them, but no to everyone else (no matter how tempting it is).

Mistakes happen. Sometimes they are your fault. Sometimes they are not. No matter, there’s little point in playing the blame game. Brian Foley did when he first created BuddyTruk, and it remains one of his biggest ever regrets.

Despite a lot of investment, time, and effort, the first iteration of their innovative app fell short in every area. Brian and his cofounders were angry at the developers. They expected better, and they blamed them for this failure. But as they dove a little deeper, they realised there was more to the story. This failure arose, not down to incompetence, but due to poor communication.  Blame didn’t come up with a solution, but facing the issue head-on did.

How To Fix This:

The next time something bad happens, don’t blame anyone (especially yourself). Accept the mistake. Seek lessons from it. Communicate with your team. And then move on.

Fear is a part of life. Everyone has it, and no amount of money or fame removes it. But those at the top never let fear do their talking. Whereas those at the beginning of their journey often do. Debbie Millman did when she graduated college. She had dreams and ambitions, but she feared she wasn’t good enough; that the sensible option would be to get a job, climb the ladder, and do what ‘most’ people do.

She built a great CV and career, but Debbie continues to look back and wonder what she could have created if she pushed her fear to one side.

How To Fix This:

Do something that scares you today. Like Noah Kagan does, go to a coffee shop and ask for a 20% discount. The more you face your fear, the easier it is to overcome it.

 

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5 Unique Ways Entrepreneurs Are Approaching Work in 2017

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Today’s entrepreneurs know that if they want to attract the best talent, they must offer the best work culture. It only makes sense. We’re moving out of the industrial economy and into a more knowledge-based economy.

Additionally, according to Fast Company, the freelance economy is on the rise. This opens the door for workers who come in for some projects but not others. And it paves the way for new technologies to be embraced in the workplace. That being the case, entrepreneurs need to design a job environment that better fits with these and other trends.

The following five trends highlight some of the ways entrepreneurs are bringing a unique approach to the workplace:

1. Remote Teams

According to Help Scout, remote teams offer their employers some pretty significant advantages. Remote workers are typically more engaged in the work process AND they log more work hours than their traditional counterparts.

How is this possible? Firstly, these teams have learned to communicate with one another better. This skill set actually developed because these workers couldn’t talk to their co-worker directly. Instead, they had to learn to communicate clearly via media like email, Skype and Slack.

They also don’t get interrupted as much due to the asynchronous nature of their work. Basically, this means that when these workers log on to work, they work, and they work together.

It also seems that working together his another benefit: These team members actually feel a greater bond with one another than more traditional workers do. This may arise from shared work projects and shared values.

2. Work Retreats

Work retreats feel like a working vacation, and in many ways, offer your workforce the benefits of a vacation.

However, an article on the Entrepreneur website points out that work retreats can be so much more. These work-away-from-work vacations encourage entrepreneurs and their employees to look at work problems differently.

Much of this mental shift has to do with the change in work environment. Company bosses headquartered in big cities like New York or Chicago may want to ask their workers to take a weekend in the country. Additionally, many people, entrepreneurs included, view thinking time as downtime. However, truth be told, many people need some downtime: This allows new ideas to take form.

Often ideas can’t come forth while employees face general work responsibilities. (This also explains why people get so many good ideas in the shower: They’re relaxed enough to let things come together.) Finally, employees with different skills and talents get the opportunity to come together in one place and to brainstorm. This often leads to breakthroughs that wouldn’t happen any other way.

“That perfect tranquillity of life, which is nowhere to be found but in retreat, a faithful friend and a good library.” – Aphra Behn

3. Unlimited Time Off

Doesn’t unlimited time off just sound awesome? Of course, it does. This is one of the hottest and most unique workplace trends of 2017.

While it’s easy to believe that employees with unlimited time off (or unlimited vacation days) will never come to work, most of these programs have some parameters. Usually, the employee in question must get all of his/ her work done before taking the time off. He/ she must also check in with the boss about it.

That said, these programs offer employees and employers some excellent benefits. For one thing, employees aren’t left with vacation days they don’t use. On the flip side, employers aren’t paying for unused vacation days. And vacation gives employees and employers the time they need to recharge their mental and physical batteries.

As discussed, taking time away actually improves creativity and problem-solving abilities. Relaxed employees are productive employees in the end.

4. Hacking Health

Entrepreneurs concentrating on employee wellness and growth will have an advantage over the business owners who don’t.

In addition to offering programs like yoga and gym memberships, some entrepreneurs are taking things a step further. They’re embracing practices like fasting, office saunas, and nootropics to help employees live better and boost brain power at the same time.

While it may seem a bit… odd – to forego food in favor of brain supplements, the effects are beginning to pay off for company’s like Nootrobox. CEO Geoff Woo told Business Insider that, “[he and his employees often fast for] 36 hours.”

Fasting has a slew of health benefits, having been used for thousands of years to improve health and spiritual connection. Research suggests that fasting slows aging, increases the amount of Human Growth Hormone in the body, and reduces insulin sensitivity.

Coupled with the latest nootropics like Modafinil, and various nootropic blends (called “stacks”), Nootrobox employees are supercharging their daily productivity.

Workplaces that embrace these kinds of wellness program can reduce absenteeism as well as help to attract new talent. It also helps bolster employees’ health, which reduces the need for doctors’ visits. This lowers insurance premiums.

“Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.” – Buddha

5. More Gig Economy Workers

Entrepreneurs and employees both can benefit from the rise of the gig economy. The gig economy is a term that describes how companies are shifting from hiring employees to hiring contractors. The workplace in 2017 (and beyond) will be a mix of these two types of workers, according to Forbes, a full 93% of companies embrace this change.

And why not?  It’s good for both entrepreneurs – especially ones running startups – and employees. For the entrepreneur, it means only hiring workers when he/ she needs them.

This prevents employers from having to keep an employee on the payroll he/ she can’t afford. It also allows the entrepreneur to grow as a company because this business owner doesn’t have to do without services that he/ she needs.

The workplace in 2017 is going to change drastically. The savviest entrepreneurs keep up with these trends by embracing them. If you’re trying to revitalize your workforce, think about implementing one or more of these programs. You may just find that your bottom line improves and your company culture becomes happier and more productive to boot.

Have you ever managed anyone? If so, what programs or opportunities did you present in order for them to want to work with you? Let us know by commenting your thoughts below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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The Ugly Truth About Success and Why You’re Not Achieving It

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As human beings, most of us have this tendency to overcomplicate things. Maybe you’ve had this experience of trying to find success, but for some reason, it keeps eluding you.  In our pursuit to win, hardly anyone tells us the ugly truth about why most of our dreams seem to evade us. (more…)

I used to be homeless and now run a six figure business with my partner and travel the world. My journey to help those in need has taken me from non-profit director to supporting holistic entrepreneurs have a life of freedom. I run the Thriving Launch Podcast, which features the most influential leaders in the areas of love, spirituality, business, and success. It's my mission to help heart-centered entrepreneurs get their message heard. Learn more on at my website ThrivingLaunch.com (http://www.thrivinglaunch.com/)

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Chris Targett

    Apr 21, 2016 at 7:32 pm

    Thanks for this John.

    I find I can ignore texts as I put my phone on the other side of the room but an email that pings up in the bottom right hand corner of the screen is always a temptress when working on a mundane task.

    I’ll be a lot more aware of my distractions now and ensure they’re turned off!

  2. Inderjeet

    Apr 13, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    Very well written. We should not let these digital distractions affect us…I am turning all off right now. Thanks for great article. Keep it up!

  3. Kylie Rowe

    Apr 10, 2016 at 10:29 pm

    After I read this, I turned off several digital distractions, particularly the live updates scrolling across my laptop screen, and have been 10x more productive in a matter of hours. Thanks for the reminder! Simple but great article.

  4. Gaurav

    Apr 9, 2016 at 7:15 am

    Wow ! a new perspective towards ‘ping, pong, cheu,…..’ Great Article. Thanks

  5. Lourdes

    Apr 8, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    Enjoyed this article. This is exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Entrepreneurs

5 Powerful Confessions From Entrepreneurs Who Never Went to College

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How important is college education for most of us? Can an entrepreneur become successful without a college diploma? Let’s see what secrets remarkable entrepreneurs may reveal to us about the way they survived without college.

Looking back at the experience we gather from the most powerful and famous business people, there’s more often a plus rather than a minus in becoming successful without a college degree.

1. Abraham Lincoln

“All I have learned,I learned from books.” – Abraham Lincoln

One of the 8 U.S. presidents who started as entrepreneurs and the only one who received a patent, Abraham Lincoln never went to college. In fact, he was not the only U.S. president who didn’t do it. 7 more presidents didn’t attend college as well.

One of the most striking confessions is that he valued books more than anything else that can educate. Proving that books were his teachers, Abraham Lincoln also acknowledged that his best friend would be a person who could give him a book he hadn’t read before.

No wonder, every entrepreneur with self-respect should read books. Abraham Lincoln proved that self-education is, actually, what makes us more powerful than we are. The 16th president of the United States invented a tool to lift riverboats over sandbars without a diploma as an evidence of his smartness.

2. Walt Disney

“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” –  Walt Disney

The father of Mickey Mouse, the first animated feature film in the world, and Disneyland founder, Walt Disney considered books as a treasure as well. However, because of his inattentiveness and constant drawing, Disney dropped out of high school.

Thus, his stronger motivator was failure. Working on Snow White, one of his most successful projects, Walt lost nearly everything, ran out of money, and almost went down the drain. But that was one of the lessons that helped him become the king of cartoons.

3. Richard Branson

“The best way of learning about anything is by doing.” – Richard Branson

A risk-taker with over a $4 billion fortune and the founder of the Virgin Group, Richard Branson left school at the age of 16 to start his first business – Student magazine. Despite the fact, that he faced dyslexia during his school years, he managed to take a chance in his hands and do what he wanted.

Although, Richard says he has no secrets to hide, he still confesses that he works hard, smart and does it with fun. The power of doing is a secret ingredient to success, according to Branson.

4. Milton Hershey

“My experience has shown me that the people who are exceptionally good in business aren’t so because of what they know, but because of their insatiable need to know more.” – Milton S. Hershey

The founder of the Hershey Chocolate Corporation and a philanthropist, Milton Hershey changed 6 schools, because his family moved very often and, eventually, he left school after the 4th grade to become an apprentice to a printer. Later, he found his passion in candy making.

His idea about business success is not in knowledge, but in the desire to know. Motivation and curiosity can lead you to the unknown realms and open them with ease, if you are ready to experience changes. The only question is to what extend your need is insatiable.

5. Coco Chanel

“Success is most often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.” – Coco Chanel

Being taught sewing by nuns, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, the only fashion designer to have been put on the 100 most influential people of the 20th century Time magazine’s list, never went to college. Her daring ambitions gave her strength to become one of the most successful designers in the world.

According to her words, the secret of success isn’t in knowing. Quite the opposite – it’s in unawareness. Virtually, it’s unknowing of the fact that failure is a must-be in business. And here’s when fear comes next after you think of a possible fiasco. Without knowing, there’s no fear. Consequently, you’re not afraid to stumble and fall, because you do not know it’s initially programmed.

What unites all these outstanding entrepreneurs? Except for the absence of a college degree? It’s the ability to acknowledge what actually ruled their success. And that’s not college education. Educators, professors and teachers who strive to make college education more proactive and productive can never substitute the inner power of a budding entrepreneur.

Have you met any entrepreneurs who never needed a college degree to become what they are now? Share your experience in the comments.
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How to Lead a Virtual Team: 6 Essential Tips You Need to Know

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The rules have changed. You don’t need an office. You don’t need investors. You DO NOT need permission!

Today, anyone with a good idea (and an addiction for success) can start their own business. Within a matter of months you can build a six-figure business. It takes dedication and commitment, as you already know, but another vital ingredient many forget about in the beginning (I know I did) is to involve others.

You cannot do ‘this’ on your own. You need a team, but once again the rules have changed. You don’t need an office. You don’t need local people you ‘see’ each day.  There’s a new kid in town.

Introducing Your Virtual Team:

Virtual assistants… freelancers… location independent workers… there’s an entire generation who don’t wish to play by yesterday’s rules. The likes of Buffer and Infinitus have built seven-figure companies with no headquaters. Big name entrepreneurs like Michael Hyatt are building teams with no boundaries. The opportunities for a go-getting success seeker like you are vast.

But, building your virtual team is dangerous. There are many pitfalls to building a virtual team. Lucky for you and me there are MANY people to learn from. People who have been there and done it, and who offer advice so you don’t have to make the same mistakes they have. I’ve asked a selection of experts who know all about the right and wrong way to build a successful virtual team. This is what they say:

1. Chris Ducker: Create your 3 lists to freedom

“To save yourself time and money, create a list of: things you hate doing everyday, things you can’t do yourself, and things you shouldn’t be doing. This creates a blueprint of what your virtual team should work on, and allows you to effectively manage it.”

As founder of ‘Virtual Staff Finder’, Chris Ducker has helped entrepreneurs lead a balanced lifestyle for many years. What his ‘3 lists to freedom’ offers is your starting point, because it forces you to consider all the tasks you do (and could do), and hone in on what you should do. From there you can ensure your virtual team grows in a way that will save you time and make you money.

2. Erlend Bakke: Insist on a daily update

“My best tip is the daily update. This is what I ask them to send me: enter date and hours worked in total. What they did today. Two challenges encountered. Three questions they have for me. I have my three CEOs send me this update on a daily basis. It has saved me many hours over the past six years.”

This tip from the founder Mr Outsource, Erlend Bakke, is gold. You build a team to save yourself time, so the last thing you want is to chase updates, or have your team inundate you with questions. Instead, insist they update you each day with these key details. This allows you to stay in the loop, make necessary changes, and to do so without wasting your precious time.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” – Michael Jordan

3. Erin Blaskie: Create a solid backup plan

Create solid back up plans for if the worst case scenario were to happen. I had grown my own company to over 70 clients, and leaned on a few sub-contractors to help fill in the gaps. While this was great for clients to have that one-stop shop, it left me in a precarious situation when my lead web designer disappeared suddenly.”

As one of the early pioneers of virtual assistants, Erin Blaskie has seen the highs and lows of building a virtual team. A key component is to think how you can scale your operations at all times, and not rely on one (or a few) single person.

4. Kimanzi Constable: You shouldn’t let anyone have complete access to every part of your business

“Make sure you understand what you’ll give your virtual assistant access to and what you should give them access to. You shouldn’t let anyone have complete access to every part of your business.”

As a lifestyle entrepreneur and globetrotting consultant, Kimanzi Constable has built an ever-growing virtual team over the last few years. But he raises a good point, because you need to consider who has access to what in your business; and why. Failure here can have grand consequence, as Kimanzi found when one of his VA’s did the dirty.

5. Natalie Sisson: Share your business vision with your VA

Share your business vision with your VA, as it gets them on board with the bigger picture of why they do what they do. It also gives them ownership over their role, as they know what we’re trying to achieve as a team.”

After over a decade of travelling the world, Natalie Sisson built her Suitcase Entrepreneur community with the help of a virtual team. As she says, it’s important to help your team appreciate WHY they do what they do. Your aim isn’t to build a team, it’s to create a culture.

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” – Andrew Carnegie

6. Ari Meisel: Make the experience as rich as possible

Embrace asynchronous communication such as slack, and video messaging with Fika. Make the experience as rich as possible for people who are not in the same room as you.”

As an outsourcing advocate for many years, Ari Meisel built Get Leverage to provide his clients the virtual assistance they need. He appreciates the importance of communication, especially when you’re communicating with people in different rooms, countries, and continents.

There are an array of tools to communicate face-to-face these days, so don’t only speak to your virtual team over email. Involve them. Speak with them. Create an experience that leaves them feeling valued and part of a “real” team (not a virtual one).

The possibilities are endless for today’s success-seeking entrepreneur. A virtual team provides you the freedom you desire and the opportunity to grow. But there’s a right and wrong way to build one. After reading this post, I hope you understand how the best-of-the-best build theirs.

What are some of the ways you have built a great team for your business? Let us know by commenting below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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5 Mistakes New Entrepreneurs Make During Their First Year

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Would you consider selling 500+ million books a success? Of course you would, and it takes a rather creative and smart individual to achieve it.

JK Rowling is one of the most successful and celebrated authors of all time, but before her Harry Potter series grew into a global phenomenon, 12 publishers rejected her. Even the world’s most successful people fail. They make mistakes and suffer setbacks.

Such adversity never ends, not even when you reach the top. But it’s during your early stages when you suffer the most, because you only know what you know.  However, what if I told you there was a way to avoid many of the mistakes most people make. What if there was a way to avoid all that heartache, so you can fast-track yourself to the front of the line.  There is, and it isn’t as hard as you might imagine.

The smartest thing any new entrepreneur can do is to learn from other people. Why make your own mistakes when you can learn from other peoples’? Why suffer, when they have already created a solution to turn such failure into success?

This is what I did when I interviewed 160+ successful people for my latest book, ‘The Successful Mistake’. I dove into their biggest mistakes so you don’t have to make them.

Stop trying to do everything on your own. Nobody built an empire on their own. You need to involve others, and you need to build a team. Erin Blaskie tried to do it all by herself when she first created her virtual assistant business.

She found success. She had happy clients who loved her work. Yet it soon became too much, and the once high-standard that set her apart began to slip. Those clients jumped ship, and it left Erin exhausted. You cannot do this on your own. You need help. Don’t fight this, embrace it.

How To Fix This:

Think about all the tasks you do during an average week, and choose ONE to outsource. Over the next few days, find a VA who can do this work for you. Hire them next week. Start the process and never look back.

It’s easy to say yes. Saying yes feels good. On the outside, yes is a good word, because yes means more work and money. But the truth is, yes brings nothing but danger.

When Greg Hickman first started his business, him and his co-founder said yes to everyone. After all, their mobile marketing agency could potentially help any business, so they said yes to a restaurant… a bar… a barber… a golf course… and anyone else they could get a meeting with. Yes felt good, but ‘yes’ built zero traction. They tried to help too many people, and in the end helped nobody.

How To Fix This:

If you don’t have a customer avatar, you need to create one. This ‘single’ person is who you serve. Say yes to them, but no to everyone else (no matter how tempting it is).

Mistakes happen. Sometimes they are your fault. Sometimes they are not. No matter, there’s little point in playing the blame game. Brian Foley did when he first created BuddyTruk, and it remains one of his biggest ever regrets.

Despite a lot of investment, time, and effort, the first iteration of their innovative app fell short in every area. Brian and his cofounders were angry at the developers. They expected better, and they blamed them for this failure. But as they dove a little deeper, they realised there was more to the story. This failure arose, not down to incompetence, but due to poor communication.  Blame didn’t come up with a solution, but facing the issue head-on did.

How To Fix This:

The next time something bad happens, don’t blame anyone (especially yourself). Accept the mistake. Seek lessons from it. Communicate with your team. And then move on.

Fear is a part of life. Everyone has it, and no amount of money or fame removes it. But those at the top never let fear do their talking. Whereas those at the beginning of their journey often do. Debbie Millman did when she graduated college. She had dreams and ambitions, but she feared she wasn’t good enough; that the sensible option would be to get a job, climb the ladder, and do what ‘most’ people do.

She built a great CV and career, but Debbie continues to look back and wonder what she could have created if she pushed her fear to one side.

How To Fix This:

Do something that scares you today. Like Noah Kagan does, go to a coffee shop and ask for a 20% discount. The more you face your fear, the easier it is to overcome it.

 

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5 Unique Ways Entrepreneurs Are Approaching Work in 2017

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Today’s entrepreneurs know that if they want to attract the best talent, they must offer the best work culture. It only makes sense. We’re moving out of the industrial economy and into a more knowledge-based economy.

Additionally, according to Fast Company, the freelance economy is on the rise. This opens the door for workers who come in for some projects but not others. And it paves the way for new technologies to be embraced in the workplace. That being the case, entrepreneurs need to design a job environment that better fits with these and other trends.

The following five trends highlight some of the ways entrepreneurs are bringing a unique approach to the workplace:

1. Remote Teams

According to Help Scout, remote teams offer their employers some pretty significant advantages. Remote workers are typically more engaged in the work process AND they log more work hours than their traditional counterparts.

How is this possible? Firstly, these teams have learned to communicate with one another better. This skill set actually developed because these workers couldn’t talk to their co-worker directly. Instead, they had to learn to communicate clearly via media like email, Skype and Slack.

They also don’t get interrupted as much due to the asynchronous nature of their work. Basically, this means that when these workers log on to work, they work, and they work together.

It also seems that working together his another benefit: These team members actually feel a greater bond with one another than more traditional workers do. This may arise from shared work projects and shared values.

2. Work Retreats

Work retreats feel like a working vacation, and in many ways, offer your workforce the benefits of a vacation.

However, an article on the Entrepreneur website points out that work retreats can be so much more. These work-away-from-work vacations encourage entrepreneurs and their employees to look at work problems differently.

Much of this mental shift has to do with the change in work environment. Company bosses headquartered in big cities like New York or Chicago may want to ask their workers to take a weekend in the country. Additionally, many people, entrepreneurs included, view thinking time as downtime. However, truth be told, many people need some downtime: This allows new ideas to take form.

Often ideas can’t come forth while employees face general work responsibilities. (This also explains why people get so many good ideas in the shower: They’re relaxed enough to let things come together.) Finally, employees with different skills and talents get the opportunity to come together in one place and to brainstorm. This often leads to breakthroughs that wouldn’t happen any other way.

“That perfect tranquillity of life, which is nowhere to be found but in retreat, a faithful friend and a good library.” – Aphra Behn

3. Unlimited Time Off

Doesn’t unlimited time off just sound awesome? Of course, it does. This is one of the hottest and most unique workplace trends of 2017.

While it’s easy to believe that employees with unlimited time off (or unlimited vacation days) will never come to work, most of these programs have some parameters. Usually, the employee in question must get all of his/ her work done before taking the time off. He/ she must also check in with the boss about it.

That said, these programs offer employees and employers some excellent benefits. For one thing, employees aren’t left with vacation days they don’t use. On the flip side, employers aren’t paying for unused vacation days. And vacation gives employees and employers the time they need to recharge their mental and physical batteries.

As discussed, taking time away actually improves creativity and problem-solving abilities. Relaxed employees are productive employees in the end.

4. Hacking Health

Entrepreneurs concentrating on employee wellness and growth will have an advantage over the business owners who don’t.

In addition to offering programs like yoga and gym memberships, some entrepreneurs are taking things a step further. They’re embracing practices like fasting, office saunas, and nootropics to help employees live better and boost brain power at the same time.

While it may seem a bit… odd – to forego food in favor of brain supplements, the effects are beginning to pay off for company’s like Nootrobox. CEO Geoff Woo told Business Insider that, “[he and his employees often fast for] 36 hours.”

Fasting has a slew of health benefits, having been used for thousands of years to improve health and spiritual connection. Research suggests that fasting slows aging, increases the amount of Human Growth Hormone in the body, and reduces insulin sensitivity.

Coupled with the latest nootropics like Modafinil, and various nootropic blends (called “stacks”), Nootrobox employees are supercharging their daily productivity.

Workplaces that embrace these kinds of wellness program can reduce absenteeism as well as help to attract new talent. It also helps bolster employees’ health, which reduces the need for doctors’ visits. This lowers insurance premiums.

“Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.” – Buddha

5. More Gig Economy Workers

Entrepreneurs and employees both can benefit from the rise of the gig economy. The gig economy is a term that describes how companies are shifting from hiring employees to hiring contractors. The workplace in 2017 (and beyond) will be a mix of these two types of workers, according to Forbes, a full 93% of companies embrace this change.

And why not?  It’s good for both entrepreneurs – especially ones running startups – and employees. For the entrepreneur, it means only hiring workers when he/ she needs them.

This prevents employers from having to keep an employee on the payroll he/ she can’t afford. It also allows the entrepreneur to grow as a company because this business owner doesn’t have to do without services that he/ she needs.

The workplace in 2017 is going to change drastically. The savviest entrepreneurs keep up with these trends by embracing them. If you’re trying to revitalize your workforce, think about implementing one or more of these programs. You may just find that your bottom line improves and your company culture becomes happier and more productive to boot.

Have you ever managed anyone? If so, what programs or opportunities did you present in order for them to want to work with you? Let us know by commenting your thoughts below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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