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10 Brutally Honest Success Lessons from Kevin O’Leary of Shark Tank

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Kevin O’Leary is a Canadian born entrepreneur and TV personality who rose to prominence in the business world after his software company sold to Mattel for $3.65 Billion in 1999. He is best known for his no-nonsense and often blunt criticism of aspiring entrepreneurs and startups on ABC’s Shark Tank.

Also known as “Mr. Wonderful”, Kevin O’Leary has since written 3 best selling books about life, entrepreneurship, and money; and what it really takes to make it in the big leagues of business.

Here are 10 success lessons you can learn from Kevin O’Leary:

1. Business is war

An entrepreneur should be in it to win it – to crush the competition. Kevin has a no nonsense approach to business which is void of emotion. Business is war, and you have to play to win. Don’t let your feelings get in the way. The market will determine who survives and who doesn’t, so play the game with everything you’ve got. Don’t be afraid to lose. Just reassemble your troops and try again with a different strategy.

“Business is war. I go out there, I want to kill the competitors. I want to make their lives miserable. I want to steal their market share. I want them to fear me and I want everyone on my team thinking we’re going to win.” Kevin O’Leary

2. Your dollars are your soldiers

Money is the lifeblood of business. Many will espouse how money is over rated, and shouldn’t be the most important pursuit of business. Kevin disagrees. He likens your start up finances to your soldiers on the battlefield of business. “Here’s how I think of my money – as soldiers – I send them out to war everyday. I want them to take prisoners and come home, so there’s more of them.” If some of them die, that’s bad. If they all die, that means you’re broke.

 

3. Entrepreneurship = Freedom

Kevin tells a story of when he was a teenager and worked at an ice-cream store in a local mall. One day he was asked to scrape gum off the floor, and when he refused to, was fired. Reflecting on this years later he says that it taught him that being an employee is slavery and being an entrepreneur is true freedom. From that day forward he vowed that he was never going to work for anyone else again.

 

4. Spend the interest, never the principle

As the chairman of O’Leary funds, Kevin’s entire investment firm is based on this fundamental lesson he learned from his mother at an early age. His mother would always say “Spend only the interest, never the principle.” This means don’t let go of your nest egg. Leave the principle alone to accumulate interest, and send that interest back out into the battle field.

 

5. Don’t fall in love with bad ideas

Money runs from bad ideas. Entrepreneurs who are in love with bad ideas kill companies and send money running. On Shark Tank, you will often see incredibly passionate entrepreneurs who are infatuated with terrible ideas that either don’t sell or aren’t backed by viable business models. Kevin is quick to bring a dose of reality. “I have met many entrepreneurs who have the passion and even the work ethic to succeed – but who are so obsessed with an idea that they don’t see its obvious flaws. Think about that. If you can’t even acknowledge your failures, how can you cut the rope and move on?”

 

6. Opportunity comes fast

Known for saying “opportunity knocked, nobody was home”, Kevin shows entrepreneurs on Shark Tank that opportunity comes fast. It also leaves just as quickly. An offer from an investor can arise and expire in moments. You need to think fast, and make quick decisions under pressure.

 

7. Passion isn’t everything

Kevin started out wanting to be a fashion photographer until his father shot down that idea with some brutal honesty. “You’re just not that good.” his father told him. Kevin realized that to make the kind of money that he wanted to make, his passion of photography just wasn’t going to get him there. He wasn’t prepared to be a starving artist with most of his photos going unsold, so he left his passion behind to pursue business.  Don’t let your passions blind you and lead you away from success.

 

8. Sales are everything

Many otherwise viable business ideas and startup companies have been harshly rejected in the Shark Tank because they simply have no sales. Sales are everything. You could have the greatest idea in the world with a plan to execute, but if you approach an investor with no sales or tangible purchase orders you will be in for a tough sell. Investors want to see real market demand with real paying customers before they will back ventures. They don’t want to back speculation without actual sales which will confirm that your business model works.

“Do you have what it takes to make the sale?” – Kevin O’Leary

9. Money doesn’t care about you

Kevin once said “Don’t cry about money, it never cries for you.” The lesson here is to keep your emotions separate from your money. Never let your emotions dictate what you do with your cash, especially if you are in the early stages of a start up. If you are losing money, the market is trying to tell you something. Change your model or get out of that business – but don’t cry about it.

 

10. The price of success is high

“Working 24 hours a day isn’t enough anymore. You have to be willing to sacrifice everything to be successful, including your personal life, your family life, maybe more. If people think it’s any less, they’re wrong, and they will fail.” Kevin is not a believer in the life work balance. There is no balance. You must be willing to give everything to be successful. It is this kind of hardcore work ethic that separates those who fail from those who succeed on a big level.

What do you like most about Kevin O’Leary? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

Nick James is the founder of TrueMotivation.com, a Toronto based company that publishes motivational articles and interviews with entrepreneurs. Nick is passionate about entrepreneurship and believes that motivation is the cornerstone to success. He is launching the Massive Success Podcast in early 2016 to pick the brain of successful entrepreneurs from around the world.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Troy

    Sep 18, 2016 at 5:56 am

    A good article, however, it must be remembered that on one’s deathbed, what is most important? Accolades, millions in the bank, a close circle of family and friends? There is a price for everythi g and in 100 years, no one will care or remember.

  2. Stephen Osoko

    Dec 28, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    Awesome article man! It’s true when you say the price of success is high! I’m truly realising that sacrifice is everything if you want to secure a better tomorrow! Once again great article

  3. Joel Brown

    Joel Brown

    Dec 20, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    Awesome article Nick. I see the the lesson of “Sales are Everything” come up often with successful entrepreneurs. Thanks for breaking down why through Kevin’s experience.

  4. Timo Fischer

    Dec 18, 2015 at 10:57 am

    “Your dollars are your soldiers” I like that analogy.

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Success Advice

3 Life Lessons in Perseverance to Achieve Your Wildest Dreams

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I have two careers as an actor and a marketer with each having its own unique challenges. However, the number of parallels I continue to find in my chosen professions never ceases to amaze me. Of these lessons, perhaps one of the most valuable is that of persistence, and the mental resilience I’ve had to learn. You can’t be an actor without resilience as I experience rejection dozens of times per week.

Acting is a lesson in endurance, not a sprint. When you think about it though, doesn’t that apply to any career? It’s not easy to “Keep on keeping on.” No matter what path life has led you down, I’m sure you’ve experienced plenty of bumps. Sometimes, those bumps turn into potholes that the universe seems to refuse to fix.

As an actor, rejection is par for the course. Thankfully, I’ve learned how to persevere in spite of it. When life gets especially challenging, and you are dealing with change, disappointment or missteps, make use of these life lessons and continue pressing on towards your goal.

Below are 3 lessons in perseverance which will help you achieve your wildest dreams:

1. Know when it’s time to recalibrate

Goals are an important and necessary tool to reach our full potential. They keep us focused to help make small decisions on a daily basis such as if I should get up for that 8 a.m. run along with bigger decisions such as if I should take a new job offer. While setting goals is essential, don’t let them overpower you.

Tunnel vision in reaching your goals adds unnecessary pressure. This causes us to make mistakes we wouldn’t have made otherwise. Get too obsessed with a goal and you’ll forget the big picture, such as why you chose this course to begin with. Take a lesson from one of my favorite casting directors, Dave Newman of McSweeney Newman Casting.

Forget trying to “make it big” as an actor. It is normal to wait years before booking work with a decent paycheck. If you’re in the room with Dave, it’s hard not to let the pressure take over your performance.

In the words of Dave, as soon as those words from A Chorus Line enter your head, “God, I hope I get it!” it’s time to adjust your mindset. Dave advises taking a step back, refocusing, and doing anything that isn’t acting. Sometimes the best way to reach a goal is by shifting your gaze just for a moment. Take the pressure off and recalibrate your thoughts. You’ll come back recharged with a fresh perspective to pursue your objectives.

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney

2. Appreciate the journey

Perseverance requires a heaping dose of appreciation. This means acknowledging all the wins in your life, both big and small. Even if you haven’t yet met your goal, remember that you are moving towards it and that alone is an achievement.

As Linda Gillum, Casting Director at Chicago theatre Remy Bumppo explains, “With everything you do, you’re planting seeds.” It takes time for the seeds of success to grow. As an actor, my seeds take a lot of sunshine, water, and gratitude for the little things. A win can be as simple as improving my technique or getting an audition; I can’t base my happiness on booked jobs.

Persistence becomes much easier when you notice your achievements despite those potholes surrounding you. Celebrate the small wins; they’re what milestones are built on. Even if your manager or co-workers don’t recognize your work, give yourself that pat on the back.

To stay motivated, make a mental highlight reel of your achievements. Afterwards, be ready to hit the play button whenever you need a quick pick-me-up.

3. Embrace mistakes or at least be okay with them

No matter how much you hate mistakes, they’ll keep happening. Some people seem to move on from mistakes quickly, letting them roll off their backs. For others, that’s not the case (If you’re fighting to be perfect or gain confidence I’m talking to you!). The fear to avoid mistakes can be crippling.

This is also true in acting, where you work and wait years for a five-minute audition that could change everything. However, my best work won’t come unless I live in the moment and trust my instincts. And you know what that means, things can go wrong in an instant. But guess what? I still have to dive in, and I mean all in. If I don’t risk it all, my audition will suck, and I’ll lose before I even walk through the door.

We all recognize that positives, including life lessons, come from mistakes. However, that doesn’t stop the nosedive mistakes caused on emotions and confidence. Sometimes, we do everything in our power to avoid that feeling.

“The phoenix must burn to emerge.” – Janet Fitch

Remember that there’s truth in the statement, “The biggest mistake is not making mistakes.” One way to get over your fear of failure is to make your focus on continuous improvement, not perfection. Teaching yourself to be okay with mistakes takes time but is necessary to maintain resilience.

You can allow yourself a learning curve, but it is essential to work on letting go of missteps. It takes practice to let go of the could have or would have statements. The good news is practice and persistence go hand-in-hand.

Take stock of what makes you happy in life, and turn to those things when mistakes happen. Little by little, as you learn to turn your attention elsewhere when missteps occur, you’ll train your brain to move on. This is how mistakes lose their power over you and enable you to pursue your goal with confidence.

Persistence is a state of mind. In the end, it means being kind to yourself. Know when to give yourself a break and pat on the back as you recharge your batteries. Then, you’ll find yourself able to maneuver whatever twists and turns life throws your way.

How do you remain determined in reaching your goals when it seems like the day won’t come? Let us know your advice and tips for your fellow entrepreneurs below!

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Dress for Success: 4 Small Fashion Choices That Make All the Difference

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When it comes to succeeding in business, making a good impression is just as much about your inner qualities as it is about your outer presentation. The fact of the matter is that your clothing and color choices, affect others’ perception of you. Believe it or not, you can achieve fashion-inspired success without splurging on a pair of Louboutins or shelling out $1000 for a designer suit. Just a few striking accessories can often complete the picture.

It may sound ridiculous that small accessories can affect the vibe you give off. It’s true, and certain accessories can even send certain messages. A recent study conducted by the University of Hertfordshire found that well-dressed male figures (whose faces were not shown) were perceived to be more confident, trustworthy, and well-to-do. Even minor adjustments to their clothing, such as adding on an accessory or more closely tailoring the suit, impacted these impressions.

However, our clothes not only impact the way others perceive us, but the way we perceive ourselves. A study conducted by the Scientific American, found that those who “suit up” performed better in cognitive tests. It suggests that being well-dressed releases more testosterone, which in turn increases confidence.

This allows well-dressed professionals to negotiate better deals, and in the long run, potentially make more money. So, maybe you’ve got the clothes, but what are the finishing touches you can put on your outfit to send an even stronger message? See below!

1. Wear a watch

A beautiful watch makes all the difference – and this goes for men and women. Even a simple button-down and jeans, or plain-colored dress, can be exponentially stylized by a standout watch. Charismatic individuals tend to talk more with their hands, too, as this captivates their listeners. Wearing a flashy wrist accessory like a watch will make your points even more engrossing. Furthermore, wearing a watch sends a subconscious message: you’re always on time. Individuals who wear a watch can always keep track of time and therefore, will never be late to a meeting.

“To me, clothing is a form of self-expression – There are hints about who you are in what you wear.” – Marc Jacobs

2. Tie it off with a tie pin

The one criticism of men’s business fashion is that it lacks variety. Let’s face it, while women have an infinite number of patterns, dress lengths, colors, and sleeve styles to choose from, men are pretty much locked into one outfit: the suit. You can buy one in suede, another in navy blue, throw in a paisley tie, but it’s simply not enough.

Adding on a tie pin will make a significant difference. Not only does it add a little shimmer to an otherwise dull suit, but it adds personality too. The kind of tie pin you choose says a lot about you. Maybe you’re a simple guy who just likes sterling silver, or you may choose to tout your school pride by wearing the colors of your alma mater (which, by the way, can also make a great conversation starter).

You can also create custom tie pins that feature the name of your company, or perhaps a saying that you’re fond of. The options are limitless.

3. A quality briefcase

It doesn’t even matter if you have nothing to carry around, the key is to never show up empty-handed. A quality leather briefcase is an important asset for men and women. Backpacks and most handbags don’t signify professionalism. A briefcase, on the other hand, symbolizes professionalism and importance. After all, what else would you carry in a briefcase except for a load of important documents and files, right?

The truth is, it doesn’t matter if all you have in your briefcase is a Kit-Kat Bar. All that matters is that it’s by your side and contains the essentials – a beautiful silver pen (perhaps with your name engraved), a notepad or iPad, and business cards that can be pulled out in a flash without having to rummage through your pockets.

“You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.” – Edith Head

4. Nice sunglasses

It’s a sunny day and you’ve got a working lunch across town. Rather than squinting your way from Point A to Point B, top off your look with a pair of stylish sunglasses. Not only do these send a more casual vibe when tucked in your pocket, but the right sunglasses can give you a sleek aesthetic (think 007, but with business lunches). Wayfarers a la Audrey Hepburn and aviators a la Tom Cruise are the go-to choices for business professional sunglasses. You can’t go wrong with either of these styles.

The bottom line is that you choose how you wish to be viewed. The lesson here is much akin to the old adage: “don’t dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want.” And if you have the job you want, don’t send your fashion choices to the sidelines. Not only can clothes/accessories indicate our knowledge and experience, but also our authority.

How has a nice outfit helped you in your professional career? Comment below!

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How Creativity Leads to a More Successful Life

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Human beings are curious, inquisitive and creative. We have a deep desire to make meaning of our world and each other by creating. Each culture brings new ideas and meaning to gain a sense of belonging and purpose. Success comes from understanding your contribution to the world and the spark of this contribution comes from a creative place. Understanding the power that comes from creativity can help to elevate you in many ways.

Mary Lou Cook said, “Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes and having fun.” Having fun is part of the human experiment that not only provides a sense of purpose, but builds our humanity and scales our ability to succeed. Too many of us don’t allow ourselves a creative outlet or space because we don’t see the value in it if it doesn’t lead to a specific outcome.

Creativity is ever more important in today’s connection economy, because it is the outcome. As the world continues to race toward innovation, faster, cheaper, and quicker, are what distinguishes us from the crowd in terms of individual creative contribution. The more we share and create, the more we find out how valuable this concept is. Creativity cannot be outsourced, it must be cultivated, challenged, and inspired by human curiosity.

Below are 4 ways in which creativity leads to a more successful life:

1. Creativity Creates Deeper Connection to Work

Creativity is the act of experimenting and learning about what works and what may not. When we see creativity as a part of our work and not something left to a small artistic elite then we can create a deeper connection to the work we are meant to do in the world. If we see work as a part of our bigger purpose then our success will increase when we spend time being creative.

The more your creative footprint can be seen, understood, and felt, the more impact you will have. If you see an opportunity to think outside of the box in a particular situation because you see the world differently than your peers, then you have the edge to provide value that no one else can. And, guess what? Each one of us sees the world differently as part of our own uniqueness.

You already possess that special edge even if you were unsure of it before now. If you constantly avoid sharing your creative thoughts you are resisting your inner talents and hiding from the possibilities that lie within the power of your creativity.

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” – Dorothy Parker

2. Incorporate More Creativity into Your Life

One of the ways you can grow in your ability to bring creativity in your life is to spend time having a “What if” mentality. Spending quality time wondering, dreaming and not stressed about the consequences of being wrong can be freeing.

If what we created wasn’t judged or had no real consequence beyond an act of wonder, we might dream up new solutions to old problems. Elon Musk allowed this “What if” mentality wondering what if he created a company that would make commercial space flight possible? His company is built not around what is, but what might be.

By bringing this sense of wonder and playfulness into our work, life and contribution, we can let go of some of the self-imposed limits we have placed on our own success. If we treat our work and life a bit more like play, we will see a growth in our ability to perform and contribute even more to the already exciting and wonderful world we live in.

3. Opportunity for New Thinking

Sometimes when we are working on a project, either in a team or solo, we might find that we are hitting a wall with a project or in finding a solution to a problem. Instead of looking for the answer, sometimes we need to allow our creative brain to play and search for answers that might be hidden.

By hidden, I mean not yet created. Take some time to remove yourself from the work at hand and just wonder. Consider ways that might seem impossible to do but might spark new ideas. New learning can come from adding two crazy ideas together or taking an old idea and making a wild new way of thinking about it.

For example, posing a question and just wondering about a solution might spark a solution that was not seen. How might we improve the passenger boarding process at the airport so that we can foresee new ideas that were not there before.

“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up” – Pablo Picasso

4. Create New Learning Pathways and Increase Brain Activity

When we are creative, we start to open our minds to new thinking. We begin to see new thinking and opportunities that we didn’t notice before. We also silence our amygdala or our lizard brain that is often in fight or flight mode to protect us.

When we are in a state of creative flow we silence the need to protect ourselves and find more peace and openness to new ideas and success. Try drawing on paper using colors, images and textures to visually create and noodle over ideas.

By using colors and a variety of mixed media aside from computers, smartphones and other electronics, you will invite a playful, often semi-dormant, part of your subconscious mind to work in upping your creativity game. The subtle connections and associations that occur in our brains when we use visualization can lead us to embark on new discoveries and success.

How has using your own creativity helped you succeed? Let us know in the comments below!

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Challenge Your Comfort Zone: 4 Behaviors to Master Effortless Execution

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Comfort zones are strange psychological oddities. They exist, but they are hard to pin down. Here is a comfort zone summary: In each of us there exists a psychological boundary. As long as we behave within the confines of that boundary, in other words, inside the zone, we feel by definition, comfortable. When we venture outside of the boundary, we feel uncomfortable.

Think about waking up and brushing your teeth. Are you challenged? That behavior has become so ingrained into your personal morning routine that you probably don’t even think about it or remember doing it.

Now, think about having to give a 30-minute presentation to the board of directors of your company. Are you palms starting to sweat yet? In the former example, we are well within our comfort zone while in the latter, well on the outside of it. The question before us is how do we expand our comfort zone so that a behavior like speaking in front of the board of directors is just as easy as brushing our teeth?

I have been training and coaching on comfort zone expansion for many years, and I’ve come up with 4 behaviors that will get you outside of your comfort zone so that you too can experience the joys associated with continued success.

Before I give you the behaviors, let me cover a few axioms that should sell you on the idea as to why you want to get your comfort zone to expand. (Keep in mind the expansion (or contraction) of your comfort zone is totally up to you. It is a decision that you need to make and that you need to follow through on. No one can do it for you!)

Axioms:

  • Successful people do what unsuccessful people are unwilling to do! Face it, the reason people become successful is because of achievement! They have a bias toward action.
  • Successful people are people who reside at the edge of their comfort zone. These are the people that volunteer to take on that tough client, head up that tough project, chair that committee that no one else wants to. Don’t get me wrong, they are nervous and doubtful of their abilities and are afraid, but they do it anyway. Why? Because they are hardwired for success.
  • Successful people are people who begin to feel comfortable feeling uncomfortable. These are people who are consistently on the edge of their comfort zone, thus they got use to it. Now, taking on the tough assignment is second nature to them.

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” – Brian Tracy

So, as you can see, success and stepping outside of the boundaries in which you feel safe and secure are really the same thing. Success comes to those who say they have the courage to try something new; something different.

How do you develop a bias toward action and stepping outside of your comfort zone? Try these 4 behaviors:

1. Do the same thing you have always done, only do it different

Take a different route to work. Try a different place for lunch (or at least something different on the menu). Use a different treadmill at the gym. Take a different route on your evening run. Get the idea? Take a different spin on the same old – same old.

2. Do the same thing you have always done, just do more of it

So, you wake up at 5:30 and run a mile? Good for you. Try waking up at 5:15 and run a mile and half. Is that too much of a change? No problem. Take 2 weeks to just wake up at 5:15. Spend a few extra minutes getting use to that time. Then start your mile and a half run after the 2 weeks of getting up 15 minutes early.

3. Stretch yourself; challenge yourself

But don’t venture so far outside of your comfort zone that you lose hope and get demotivated. If you have never exercised before, don’t expect to spend 3 hours at the gym your first day. (I love working out, but if I ever had to spend 3 hours at the gym, even after all these years, I would probably join the kingdom of coach potato!) Go slow, but go steady. No one says that you need to go a mile outside of your zone. Try venturing out an inch, then another inch, then a foot, and so on.

“There is no challenge more challenging than the challenge to improve yourself.”

4. Celebrate your victories

Congratulate yourself on your little successes. There is nothing so demotivating as to tell yourself that you will celebrate after victory, but never have a solid definition of success to gauge your celebration against.

If you begin to practice these behaviors and do so on a daily basis, you will begin to become aware of the fact that you are living on the edge of your comfort zone. You are trying new things that frighten you but are relishing in the exhilaration of those exciting new behaviors.

Richard Branson said that if our goals don’t scare us, they aren’t big enough. The way you determine bigger goals is to step outside of that land that is safe and secure and venture out into the wilderness of that frightening land of discomfort. Soon, you will claim that land as your own and it will be comfortable.

You may ask, what should I do then? That is, when I have attained comfort in doing what I felt uncomfortable doing in the past? The answer is simple: Keep going!

What is a big goal you have for yourself which you want to accomplish by the end of the year? Let us know in the comments so we can all encourage each other!

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3 Life Lessons in Perseverance to Achieve Your Wildest Dreams

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I have two careers as an actor and a marketer with each having its own unique challenges. However, the number of parallels I continue to find in my chosen professions never ceases to amaze me. Of these lessons, perhaps one of the most valuable is that of persistence, and the mental resilience I’ve had to learn. You can’t be an actor without resilience as I experience rejection dozens of times per week. (more…)

Kristen McCabe is a marketer at G2 Crowd who calls both Chicago and Australia home. Her background includes marketing, events, and public relations across various industries including film, publishing, professional associations, and tech. Also an actor, Kristen loves applying the craft of acting to the profession of marketing to create marketing strategies with authenticity and heart. Find Kristen on Twitter:  @AusmericanGirl

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Troy

    Sep 18, 2016 at 5:56 am

    A good article, however, it must be remembered that on one’s deathbed, what is most important? Accolades, millions in the bank, a close circle of family and friends? There is a price for everythi g and in 100 years, no one will care or remember.

  2. Stephen Osoko

    Dec 28, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    Awesome article man! It’s true when you say the price of success is high! I’m truly realising that sacrifice is everything if you want to secure a better tomorrow! Once again great article

  3. Joel Brown

    Joel Brown

    Dec 20, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    Awesome article Nick. I see the the lesson of “Sales are Everything” come up often with successful entrepreneurs. Thanks for breaking down why through Kevin’s experience.

  4. Timo Fischer

    Dec 18, 2015 at 10:57 am

    “Your dollars are your soldiers” I like that analogy.

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

Success Advice

3 Life Lessons in Perseverance to Achieve Your Wildest Dreams

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perseverance
Image Credit: Unsplash

I have two careers as an actor and a marketer with each having its own unique challenges. However, the number of parallels I continue to find in my chosen professions never ceases to amaze me. Of these lessons, perhaps one of the most valuable is that of persistence, and the mental resilience I’ve had to learn. You can’t be an actor without resilience as I experience rejection dozens of times per week.

Acting is a lesson in endurance, not a sprint. When you think about it though, doesn’t that apply to any career? It’s not easy to “Keep on keeping on.” No matter what path life has led you down, I’m sure you’ve experienced plenty of bumps. Sometimes, those bumps turn into potholes that the universe seems to refuse to fix.

As an actor, rejection is par for the course. Thankfully, I’ve learned how to persevere in spite of it. When life gets especially challenging, and you are dealing with change, disappointment or missteps, make use of these life lessons and continue pressing on towards your goal.

Below are 3 lessons in perseverance which will help you achieve your wildest dreams:

1. Know when it’s time to recalibrate

Goals are an important and necessary tool to reach our full potential. They keep us focused to help make small decisions on a daily basis such as if I should get up for that 8 a.m. run along with bigger decisions such as if I should take a new job offer. While setting goals is essential, don’t let them overpower you.

Tunnel vision in reaching your goals adds unnecessary pressure. This causes us to make mistakes we wouldn’t have made otherwise. Get too obsessed with a goal and you’ll forget the big picture, such as why you chose this course to begin with. Take a lesson from one of my favorite casting directors, Dave Newman of McSweeney Newman Casting.

Forget trying to “make it big” as an actor. It is normal to wait years before booking work with a decent paycheck. If you’re in the room with Dave, it’s hard not to let the pressure take over your performance.

In the words of Dave, as soon as those words from A Chorus Line enter your head, “God, I hope I get it!” it’s time to adjust your mindset. Dave advises taking a step back, refocusing, and doing anything that isn’t acting. Sometimes the best way to reach a goal is by shifting your gaze just for a moment. Take the pressure off and recalibrate your thoughts. You’ll come back recharged with a fresh perspective to pursue your objectives.

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney

2. Appreciate the journey

Perseverance requires a heaping dose of appreciation. This means acknowledging all the wins in your life, both big and small. Even if you haven’t yet met your goal, remember that you are moving towards it and that alone is an achievement.

As Linda Gillum, Casting Director at Chicago theatre Remy Bumppo explains, “With everything you do, you’re planting seeds.” It takes time for the seeds of success to grow. As an actor, my seeds take a lot of sunshine, water, and gratitude for the little things. A win can be as simple as improving my technique or getting an audition; I can’t base my happiness on booked jobs.

Persistence becomes much easier when you notice your achievements despite those potholes surrounding you. Celebrate the small wins; they’re what milestones are built on. Even if your manager or co-workers don’t recognize your work, give yourself that pat on the back.

To stay motivated, make a mental highlight reel of your achievements. Afterwards, be ready to hit the play button whenever you need a quick pick-me-up.

3. Embrace mistakes or at least be okay with them

No matter how much you hate mistakes, they’ll keep happening. Some people seem to move on from mistakes quickly, letting them roll off their backs. For others, that’s not the case (If you’re fighting to be perfect or gain confidence I’m talking to you!). The fear to avoid mistakes can be crippling.

This is also true in acting, where you work and wait years for a five-minute audition that could change everything. However, my best work won’t come unless I live in the moment and trust my instincts. And you know what that means, things can go wrong in an instant. But guess what? I still have to dive in, and I mean all in. If I don’t risk it all, my audition will suck, and I’ll lose before I even walk through the door.

We all recognize that positives, including life lessons, come from mistakes. However, that doesn’t stop the nosedive mistakes caused on emotions and confidence. Sometimes, we do everything in our power to avoid that feeling.

“The phoenix must burn to emerge.” – Janet Fitch

Remember that there’s truth in the statement, “The biggest mistake is not making mistakes.” One way to get over your fear of failure is to make your focus on continuous improvement, not perfection. Teaching yourself to be okay with mistakes takes time but is necessary to maintain resilience.

You can allow yourself a learning curve, but it is essential to work on letting go of missteps. It takes practice to let go of the could have or would have statements. The good news is practice and persistence go hand-in-hand.

Take stock of what makes you happy in life, and turn to those things when mistakes happen. Little by little, as you learn to turn your attention elsewhere when missteps occur, you’ll train your brain to move on. This is how mistakes lose their power over you and enable you to pursue your goal with confidence.

Persistence is a state of mind. In the end, it means being kind to yourself. Know when to give yourself a break and pat on the back as you recharge your batteries. Then, you’ll find yourself able to maneuver whatever twists and turns life throws your way.

How do you remain determined in reaching your goals when it seems like the day won’t come? Let us know your advice and tips for your fellow entrepreneurs below!

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Dress for Success: 4 Small Fashion Choices That Make All the Difference

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When it comes to succeeding in business, making a good impression is just as much about your inner qualities as it is about your outer presentation. The fact of the matter is that your clothing and color choices, affect others’ perception of you. Believe it or not, you can achieve fashion-inspired success without splurging on a pair of Louboutins or shelling out $1000 for a designer suit. Just a few striking accessories can often complete the picture.

It may sound ridiculous that small accessories can affect the vibe you give off. It’s true, and certain accessories can even send certain messages. A recent study conducted by the University of Hertfordshire found that well-dressed male figures (whose faces were not shown) were perceived to be more confident, trustworthy, and well-to-do. Even minor adjustments to their clothing, such as adding on an accessory or more closely tailoring the suit, impacted these impressions.

However, our clothes not only impact the way others perceive us, but the way we perceive ourselves. A study conducted by the Scientific American, found that those who “suit up” performed better in cognitive tests. It suggests that being well-dressed releases more testosterone, which in turn increases confidence.

This allows well-dressed professionals to negotiate better deals, and in the long run, potentially make more money. So, maybe you’ve got the clothes, but what are the finishing touches you can put on your outfit to send an even stronger message? See below!

1. Wear a watch

A beautiful watch makes all the difference – and this goes for men and women. Even a simple button-down and jeans, or plain-colored dress, can be exponentially stylized by a standout watch. Charismatic individuals tend to talk more with their hands, too, as this captivates their listeners. Wearing a flashy wrist accessory like a watch will make your points even more engrossing. Furthermore, wearing a watch sends a subconscious message: you’re always on time. Individuals who wear a watch can always keep track of time and therefore, will never be late to a meeting.

“To me, clothing is a form of self-expression – There are hints about who you are in what you wear.” – Marc Jacobs

2. Tie it off with a tie pin

The one criticism of men’s business fashion is that it lacks variety. Let’s face it, while women have an infinite number of patterns, dress lengths, colors, and sleeve styles to choose from, men are pretty much locked into one outfit: the suit. You can buy one in suede, another in navy blue, throw in a paisley tie, but it’s simply not enough.

Adding on a tie pin will make a significant difference. Not only does it add a little shimmer to an otherwise dull suit, but it adds personality too. The kind of tie pin you choose says a lot about you. Maybe you’re a simple guy who just likes sterling silver, or you may choose to tout your school pride by wearing the colors of your alma mater (which, by the way, can also make a great conversation starter).

You can also create custom tie pins that feature the name of your company, or perhaps a saying that you’re fond of. The options are limitless.

3. A quality briefcase

It doesn’t even matter if you have nothing to carry around, the key is to never show up empty-handed. A quality leather briefcase is an important asset for men and women. Backpacks and most handbags don’t signify professionalism. A briefcase, on the other hand, symbolizes professionalism and importance. After all, what else would you carry in a briefcase except for a load of important documents and files, right?

The truth is, it doesn’t matter if all you have in your briefcase is a Kit-Kat Bar. All that matters is that it’s by your side and contains the essentials – a beautiful silver pen (perhaps with your name engraved), a notepad or iPad, and business cards that can be pulled out in a flash without having to rummage through your pockets.

“You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.” – Edith Head

4. Nice sunglasses

It’s a sunny day and you’ve got a working lunch across town. Rather than squinting your way from Point A to Point B, top off your look with a pair of stylish sunglasses. Not only do these send a more casual vibe when tucked in your pocket, but the right sunglasses can give you a sleek aesthetic (think 007, but with business lunches). Wayfarers a la Audrey Hepburn and aviators a la Tom Cruise are the go-to choices for business professional sunglasses. You can’t go wrong with either of these styles.

The bottom line is that you choose how you wish to be viewed. The lesson here is much akin to the old adage: “don’t dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want.” And if you have the job you want, don’t send your fashion choices to the sidelines. Not only can clothes/accessories indicate our knowledge and experience, but also our authority.

How has a nice outfit helped you in your professional career? Comment below!

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How Creativity Leads to a More Successful Life

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Human beings are curious, inquisitive and creative. We have a deep desire to make meaning of our world and each other by creating. Each culture brings new ideas and meaning to gain a sense of belonging and purpose. Success comes from understanding your contribution to the world and the spark of this contribution comes from a creative place. Understanding the power that comes from creativity can help to elevate you in many ways.

Mary Lou Cook said, “Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes and having fun.” Having fun is part of the human experiment that not only provides a sense of purpose, but builds our humanity and scales our ability to succeed. Too many of us don’t allow ourselves a creative outlet or space because we don’t see the value in it if it doesn’t lead to a specific outcome.

Creativity is ever more important in today’s connection economy, because it is the outcome. As the world continues to race toward innovation, faster, cheaper, and quicker, are what distinguishes us from the crowd in terms of individual creative contribution. The more we share and create, the more we find out how valuable this concept is. Creativity cannot be outsourced, it must be cultivated, challenged, and inspired by human curiosity.

Below are 4 ways in which creativity leads to a more successful life:

1. Creativity Creates Deeper Connection to Work

Creativity is the act of experimenting and learning about what works and what may not. When we see creativity as a part of our work and not something left to a small artistic elite then we can create a deeper connection to the work we are meant to do in the world. If we see work as a part of our bigger purpose then our success will increase when we spend time being creative.

The more your creative footprint can be seen, understood, and felt, the more impact you will have. If you see an opportunity to think outside of the box in a particular situation because you see the world differently than your peers, then you have the edge to provide value that no one else can. And, guess what? Each one of us sees the world differently as part of our own uniqueness.

You already possess that special edge even if you were unsure of it before now. If you constantly avoid sharing your creative thoughts you are resisting your inner talents and hiding from the possibilities that lie within the power of your creativity.

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” – Dorothy Parker

2. Incorporate More Creativity into Your Life

One of the ways you can grow in your ability to bring creativity in your life is to spend time having a “What if” mentality. Spending quality time wondering, dreaming and not stressed about the consequences of being wrong can be freeing.

If what we created wasn’t judged or had no real consequence beyond an act of wonder, we might dream up new solutions to old problems. Elon Musk allowed this “What if” mentality wondering what if he created a company that would make commercial space flight possible? His company is built not around what is, but what might be.

By bringing this sense of wonder and playfulness into our work, life and contribution, we can let go of some of the self-imposed limits we have placed on our own success. If we treat our work and life a bit more like play, we will see a growth in our ability to perform and contribute even more to the already exciting and wonderful world we live in.

3. Opportunity for New Thinking

Sometimes when we are working on a project, either in a team or solo, we might find that we are hitting a wall with a project or in finding a solution to a problem. Instead of looking for the answer, sometimes we need to allow our creative brain to play and search for answers that might be hidden.

By hidden, I mean not yet created. Take some time to remove yourself from the work at hand and just wonder. Consider ways that might seem impossible to do but might spark new ideas. New learning can come from adding two crazy ideas together or taking an old idea and making a wild new way of thinking about it.

For example, posing a question and just wondering about a solution might spark a solution that was not seen. How might we improve the passenger boarding process at the airport so that we can foresee new ideas that were not there before.

“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up” – Pablo Picasso

4. Create New Learning Pathways and Increase Brain Activity

When we are creative, we start to open our minds to new thinking. We begin to see new thinking and opportunities that we didn’t notice before. We also silence our amygdala or our lizard brain that is often in fight or flight mode to protect us.

When we are in a state of creative flow we silence the need to protect ourselves and find more peace and openness to new ideas and success. Try drawing on paper using colors, images and textures to visually create and noodle over ideas.

By using colors and a variety of mixed media aside from computers, smartphones and other electronics, you will invite a playful, often semi-dormant, part of your subconscious mind to work in upping your creativity game. The subtle connections and associations that occur in our brains when we use visualization can lead us to embark on new discoveries and success.

How has using your own creativity helped you succeed? Let us know in the comments below!

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Challenge Your Comfort Zone: 4 Behaviors to Master Effortless Execution

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Comfort zones are strange psychological oddities. They exist, but they are hard to pin down. Here is a comfort zone summary: In each of us there exists a psychological boundary. As long as we behave within the confines of that boundary, in other words, inside the zone, we feel by definition, comfortable. When we venture outside of the boundary, we feel uncomfortable.

Think about waking up and brushing your teeth. Are you challenged? That behavior has become so ingrained into your personal morning routine that you probably don’t even think about it or remember doing it.

Now, think about having to give a 30-minute presentation to the board of directors of your company. Are you palms starting to sweat yet? In the former example, we are well within our comfort zone while in the latter, well on the outside of it. The question before us is how do we expand our comfort zone so that a behavior like speaking in front of the board of directors is just as easy as brushing our teeth?

I have been training and coaching on comfort zone expansion for many years, and I’ve come up with 4 behaviors that will get you outside of your comfort zone so that you too can experience the joys associated with continued success.

Before I give you the behaviors, let me cover a few axioms that should sell you on the idea as to why you want to get your comfort zone to expand. (Keep in mind the expansion (or contraction) of your comfort zone is totally up to you. It is a decision that you need to make and that you need to follow through on. No one can do it for you!)

Axioms:

  • Successful people do what unsuccessful people are unwilling to do! Face it, the reason people become successful is because of achievement! They have a bias toward action.
  • Successful people are people who reside at the edge of their comfort zone. These are the people that volunteer to take on that tough client, head up that tough project, chair that committee that no one else wants to. Don’t get me wrong, they are nervous and doubtful of their abilities and are afraid, but they do it anyway. Why? Because they are hardwired for success.
  • Successful people are people who begin to feel comfortable feeling uncomfortable. These are people who are consistently on the edge of their comfort zone, thus they got use to it. Now, taking on the tough assignment is second nature to them.

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” – Brian Tracy

So, as you can see, success and stepping outside of the boundaries in which you feel safe and secure are really the same thing. Success comes to those who say they have the courage to try something new; something different.

How do you develop a bias toward action and stepping outside of your comfort zone? Try these 4 behaviors:

1. Do the same thing you have always done, only do it different

Take a different route to work. Try a different place for lunch (or at least something different on the menu). Use a different treadmill at the gym. Take a different route on your evening run. Get the idea? Take a different spin on the same old – same old.

2. Do the same thing you have always done, just do more of it

So, you wake up at 5:30 and run a mile? Good for you. Try waking up at 5:15 and run a mile and half. Is that too much of a change? No problem. Take 2 weeks to just wake up at 5:15. Spend a few extra minutes getting use to that time. Then start your mile and a half run after the 2 weeks of getting up 15 minutes early.

3. Stretch yourself; challenge yourself

But don’t venture so far outside of your comfort zone that you lose hope and get demotivated. If you have never exercised before, don’t expect to spend 3 hours at the gym your first day. (I love working out, but if I ever had to spend 3 hours at the gym, even after all these years, I would probably join the kingdom of coach potato!) Go slow, but go steady. No one says that you need to go a mile outside of your zone. Try venturing out an inch, then another inch, then a foot, and so on.

“There is no challenge more challenging than the challenge to improve yourself.”

4. Celebrate your victories

Congratulate yourself on your little successes. There is nothing so demotivating as to tell yourself that you will celebrate after victory, but never have a solid definition of success to gauge your celebration against.

If you begin to practice these behaviors and do so on a daily basis, you will begin to become aware of the fact that you are living on the edge of your comfort zone. You are trying new things that frighten you but are relishing in the exhilaration of those exciting new behaviors.

Richard Branson said that if our goals don’t scare us, they aren’t big enough. The way you determine bigger goals is to step outside of that land that is safe and secure and venture out into the wilderness of that frightening land of discomfort. Soon, you will claim that land as your own and it will be comfortable.

You may ask, what should I do then? That is, when I have attained comfort in doing what I felt uncomfortable doing in the past? The answer is simple: Keep going!

What is a big goal you have for yourself which you want to accomplish by the end of the year? Let us know in the comments so we can all encourage each other!

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