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Success Advice

11 Things That The CIA & Their Agents Can Teach Us About Entrepreneurship

Joel Brown (Founder of Addicted2Success.com)

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CIA-Agents-Like-Entrepreneurs

There’s something that sets CIA agents apart from the rest of us. They are tough, smart, and can improvise during difficult situations. In some ways, they are a lot like entrepreneurs.

This means that if you want to become an entrepreneur, it might be useful to start thinking like a CIA agent. Here are some things you can learn from the CIA and their agents.

 

Entrepreneur Lessons From The CIA

 

#1 – Be realistic about what the job requires

CIA-IntelligenceWhen people think about the CIA, what comes to mind is what they see on TV: excitement, travel, and glamor. But if that were true, everyone would want to be a CIA agent. The truth is that becoming a CIA agent takes years of hard work, dedication, and focus.

In the same way, it’s easy to think that entrepreneurship is all about having “The Perfect Idea” and raking in millions as a result. But, successful entrepreneurship requires a lot of diligence and work. Watch or read biographies of successful entrepreneurs and see for yourself that sacrifices were made in order for them to reach that level of success.

 

#2 – People skills are just as important as technical skills

CIA-Agents---EntrepreneurshipCIA agents are great at reading people. They can sense their strengths, weaknesses, and quickly judge if they’ll be an asset or a threat. As an entrepreneur, you’ll need the same skills during hiring, negotiations, and day to day operations.

It doesn’t matter if you’re the smartest person in the room – without people skills, you will never gain the trust and respect of those around you.

 

 

#3 – Be reliable

CIA Agent leonardo dicaprioUnlike what the Hollywood movies would have you believe, good agents are reliable. They don’t miss appointments, forget equipment, or give in to distractions. Doing these things could lead to death. Or worse, war.

While entrepreneurship may not nearly be as dramatic, you still need to be reliable – especially when dealing with customers. This means meeting or exceeding their expectations so that they can trust you when the next transaction comes around.

 

#4 – Have integrity

cia agent adviceBoth businessmen and CIA agents need to make the hard decisions that most don’t really want to make. Are you going to compromise what’s best for the long term just to get some short term gains? Will you work with employees who are affordable or with employees whom you know will get the job done?

Just as a CIA agent is loyal to his or her country, so should you be loyal to your business’ goals and those whom you conduct business with.

 

#5 – Surround yourself with satisfied and competent people

trust ciaNothing ruins a good mission like someone who’s negative, unhappy, or downright incompetent. This is true whether it’s an intelligence mission or a business mission.

When the people around you are smart, confident, and happy about their choices, their enthusiasm is infectious and will only feed your company’s energy.

 

 

#6 – Learn other languages

cia businessThe best CIA agents can switch from English to French to Farsi in a few seconds. This helps them understand background conversation and blend in when they are in a foreign country.

As an entrepreneur, you’re going to need to learn how to do this if you want your business to operate worldwide. In fact, odds are you won’t have a choice but to work with contractors, customers, and employees from all over the globe – that’s what it’s like to do business today. And, if you’re going to do it successfully, you need to learn how to communicate well with the various people you’ll be in business with in your own country and in the international markets.

 

#7 – Foster connections in your community

cia social media networkThe CIA and other intelligence agencies are one big community. This helps them share information and consult each others’ expertise whenever needed.

Entrepreneurs have to do the same. For example, you might be a great leader, but what if you don’t have the accounting or legal skills to run a business? Or, you might be great at marketing, but what if you aren’t a good designer? You need to find smart, talented people to compensate for the skills and know-how that you lack. To do that, you’ll need to mingle with other entrepreneurs, seek referrals, and get tips on where to find the best people to work with.

 

#8 – Be financially secure and responsible

cia moneyPreserving your integrity isn’t all about willpower, it’s also about preventing any issues that may make you weak. A financially troubled CIA agent is a liability. It’s easy for malicious organizations to trap, blackmail, or lure a good agent who has money problems.

The same goes for entrepreneurs. If you’re strapped for funds, you might get tempted to take from the till or you might make the wrong calls just to keep your cash flow going.

 

 

#9 – Keep your track record clean

cia track recordThe CIA usually performs thorough background checks on people who want to become agents. They look for signs of a criminal history, drug charges, and other negative activities. This is because the CIA needs to be 100% sure that their agents are accountable, honest, and loyal.

It pays for Entrepreneurs to be vigilant in this area. Business is such a public activity that people are going to unearth negative things about you. The more successful your business is, the more likely this is to happen. To protect yourself and your business, you need a clean record or the cleanest it can be.

 

 

#10 – Never stop learning

cia ncisIf a CIA agent stopped keeping up with the latest international intelligence gossip, fighting methods, and equipment, he or she could die in the field.

The same is true for entrepreneurs who get complacent and think that once their business takes off, they no longer have to learn anything new. But with technology constantly changing and with a newer batch of entrepreneurs launching startups every year, you’ll get left behind if you don’t put in the effort to keep up with trends.

 

#11 – Be physically fit and healthy

the Expendables cia agentWhen you’re running errands, working day and night, and obsessing about every detail of your business, it’s easy to forget about your physical fitness. You might think that you no longer have the time or energy to take care of your health. The truth is that your physical health is tied to your mental and emotional health – which you need to run your business.

Just as an agent has to keep fit whether there’s a mission or not, you also need to keep working out. This ensures that when there’s a fight, you’re ready in a heartbeat.

 

Article By Joel Brown | Addicted2Success.com

I am the the Founder of Addicted2Success.com and I am so grateful you're here to be part of this awesome community. I love connecting with people who have a passion for Entrepreneurship, Self Development & Achieving Success. I started this website with the intention of educating and inspiring likeminded people to always strive for success no matter what their circumstances. I'm proud to say through my podcast and through this website we have impacted over 100 million lives in the last 6 and a half years.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Dolf

    Jun 14, 2012 at 11:54 am

    Right on target for the most part, though the choice of words for “#9 – Keep your track record clean” could use a pinch of empathy.

    There are many people that made mistakes, many years ago, that CANNOT get a great job because of those mistakes. Sure they can dig ditches, mow lawns and work in construction, but in general, Corporate America… HA(!!), good luck with that.

    As an example, I would offer that a boy, booted from his home at 17, broke into a church, stole food to eat and got caught. Tried as an adult, he did 2 years in prison and now couldn’t get a meaningful job that would lead to high status to save his life. Even 20 years later he is turned away. The man is brilliant, but society won’t look him in the eye and say “I’ll give you a chance”. Ruined? Done? No…. He now owns a successful business because he had no choice. The only way he could make it was to work for himself. No background checks to suddenly cause silence from prospective employers that were “excited about working with him” just before he revealed what they would find in the check. By the way, those checks that say they only go back 7 years… not true.

    There are thousands of disheartened men and women that could do more with their lives if they weren’t constantly beaten up by the past. They get their heads above water and there is someone new to step on it so they go back under.

    Perhaps a second example — Last week I was on a day trip with a man that is a friend and a successful business owner and I were stopped for speeding in RI. Suddenly, there were 3 cars on us and we were pulled from the car, handcuffed and both us and the car were searched. Why? Because the man had been arrested, NOT convicted of, an armed robbery when he was 19. I confirmed this with the trooper in charge. He is 43. Not a great way for me to find out this about him, but after we were let go with a warning, the man, in tears, explained that he gets this treatment all the time and further explained how he was discriminated against so much that he felt he would never have an opportunity to be anything besides what society allowed. Just before being stopped the man was talking about all the opportunity he was seeing in his future since starting his business. I could visibly see the experience we just went through was deflating his hopes.

    As an ex-police officer and former MP in the Army, I was shocked to see what these people go through, so I now have dropped my judgment and encourage them to do whatever it takes, within the law, to step up and meet their full potential. Prejudice will always be there, judgment will always be there, opportunity is what you make when others won’t offer it. Thousands of great men and women are starting or continuing businesses because of their belief in themselves and their refusal to quit. Entrepreneurship requires that you never let them see you hurt, angry, frustrated, etc. Drive on and make it happen for yourself despite what others think.

    Apparently this hit a nerve for me. For some reason this needed to be said.

    • Aneil

      Dec 26, 2012 at 8:23 am

      Hi Dolf
      I agree with you.And i think these basic thing may also help people.

  2. Deeone Higgs

    Jun 13, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Great message, Joel! These were spot on! Just looking back over a few of my own past failures – I can see through this article exactly where I went wrong on each one. I wasn’t always mindful of the importance of fostering the right connections or surrounding myself with the right people – and that’s a HUGE missing ingredient in the mix of success. Thanks for sharing the awesomeness, bud!

  3. Xavier Smith

    Jun 10, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    This was an awesome read! I am glad to have military experience in my background, for it hit home for me, now that I am a serial entrepreneur.

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. JERRY ORBAN

    Jun 10, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    i am better then you guys

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Success Advice

9 Ways To Build Unbreakable Confidence From The Outside In

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Build Self Confidence

There are a million different resources and pieces of advice out there from “experts” on how to build confidence, particularly self-confidence.

A vulnerable and anxious population consumes this guidance like they are starving for it… probably because they are. The dream of being able to overcome all fear and self-imposed limits by simply reading some advice is a very tempting dish indeed.

After lifetimes of being subject to images and ideals that they cannot possibly live up to, people start to feel like they are “less than.” This fear of being a substandard human being drives some of us to seek guidance, bringing us into contact with the murky, over-crowded world of self-help products and services.

Look, some of the stuff out there is good – I know, I’ve tried most of it. However, some of it is very misguided and even delusional.

People who lack self-confidence themselves can take a class on basic theoretical knowledge of psychological research, and use it to excrete volumes of garbage about how to build self-esteem and confidence. They then charge copious amounts of money for this drivel, which usually makes you feel great temporarily but does absolutely nothing to change your long term situation.

I’m not going to pretend I know it all, yet what I do have to offer is that I have completed the full journey, from shy, “nice,” and trying to please everyone, all the way through to where I am now.

You may ask, where is that, and what does being confident mean to me? It means that these things now occur in my life where they didn’t before:

  • I regularly seek out opportunities to push boundaries and expand my comfort zone, running towards fear rather than away from it
  • I can go into a situation full of anxiety and quickly push through that to enable me to feel competent and at ease
  • I feel comfortable being honest in all situations. Rather than hide my views, I express them calmly and diplomatically where required, but also without compromise
  • I place my needs above everything else. I am selfish about developing my life and inner-self, because I know that ultimately the people in my life will benefit from me being a better person
  • Most importantly from my point of view, I can’t remember the last time I felt jealousy or envy, and it’s been many, many years since I entertained the idea of wanting to be anyone else

So how did I get to this from being a “nice” guy that did all I could to avoid confrontation and anxiety-provoking situations? Well, it wasn’t easy! I have taken some time to break down the steps I took to achieve this in order to help others out there who are similar to me and serious about developing true, unbreakable inner confidence.

See the secret is really no secret at all – it’s about constantly taking action in a way that pushes your comfort zone further out until you learn how to make any situation feel like it’s in your comfort zone.

Below are 9 ways to build unbreakable confidence from the outside in:

1. Identifying your ultimate dream lifestyle

Something that is a real confidence drainer is not knowing where you’re going in life. The great thing is you don’t even need to be sure about it; you just need to have a direction to travel in.

Try taking 30 minutes to write down a descriptive paragraph or two about what your life would look like if you could wave a magic wand and choose anything. I’ve found with my clients that answering these three questions in detail is a great structure to use:

1What will you have / what will you be doing?

2) How would other people describe you?

3) What will you think about yourself?

Writing down the detailed answers to these questions, using emotional and descriptive language. Once you’ve done this, make sure you re-read it regularly (at least twice per week) to remind yourself constantly about why it is you are getting out of bed.

This will increase your sense of purpose in life, a reason to live in a way, which will increase your confidence. Of course, to actually achieve this dream lifestyle, there are further steps you need to take… (read on).

2. Writing down goals and striving to achieve them

I remember reading about a study at Oxford University: researchers asked all students in a class who had written down their goals. I can’t remember the exact details but about 3% of them did this.

When the researchers revisited the students again 20 years later, the small group who had written down goals were earning a combined income that was greater than the combined income of all 97% of their classmates.

There are plenty of free resources out there on how to write goals (including The Inspirational Lifestyle). The general key I recommend is that rather than write outcome based goals (e.g. “I will get a promotion”) try writing action-based goals that are under your control (e.g. “I will take a management course and then apply for a promotion”).

By making sure the goals are under your control, your confidence is not subject to luck. Remove luck by making sure that nothing and no-one can affect the achievement of your goal except for you.

3. Reading popular self-development books by successful business people

While there are far too many refuse-bin-worthy self-development books out there, your safest bet is to read the memoirs and how-to books which are written by people who have actually achieved something.

It really is simple; if someone like Richard Branson is a billionaire, he’s probably a pretty reliable source of information on how to make money. It’s much better to listen to him than someone fresh from completing an MBA and spilling a bunch of inexperienced theory-based conjecture.

4Learning how to manage your state of mind

Most of the time the reason you feel anxious or nervous about a situation you’re about to go into, such as public speaking, is because you’re in the wrong frame of mind.

Imagine this: you’ve been studying accounting for three straights hours without interruption, when all of a sudden you’re dragged to a party. Straight away you feel anxiety even though going to a party is not an unusual situation for you. So what’s the problem?

Your brain was set into the “studying” state, which is secluded, quiet, and antisocial. You are then thrown into a situation which requires you to be extroverted, talkative and social. This is a really uncomfortable imbalance for your brain to handle. The solution? Taking baby steps.

When you realize you are feeling anxiety about an upcoming situation and you suspect that it is because of being in the wrong state, try to figure out some in-between steps you can take.

Using our example above, rather than going straight to the party, you could have a chat on the phone with some close friends, followed by pre-drinks at your house with just a few people. This way by the time you get to the party your state has gone from withdrawn to outgoing in easy to manage steps.

confidence picture quote

5Understanding the balance between learning, mentoring and action

One of the most common barriers to success is too much thinking and not enough doing. It’s the doing that builds confidence, not the learning.

As a general rule, for every hour you spend reading or watching videos (passive learning), you will benefit most by complementing this with two hours of mentoring or coaching, and seven hours practicing or otherwise taking action. It’s the 10/20/70 rule.

This is why I’ve titled this article “9 ways to build confidence from the outside in,” because building confidence goes far beyond just reading inspirational or educational books. It’s about taking action so you will start seeing results and positive changes.

6. Approaching strangers

This is one of the scariest things for people to do – very few can do it sober without a background in cold-calling or sales of some kind. Doing this is a really powerful way to build confidence, particularly if you’re single and approaching strangers with the intention of potential romance.

If you can get yourself to do this sober and during the day, it makes everything else seem a lot less scary. You can learn to love rejection as the learning and feedback experience it really is.

7. Trying new things regularly

Having a routine can kill your creativity and make your life boring. It’s important to seek new adventures, and always try new things regularly because it can boost your confidence through the following two ways.

1) By learning a range of skills and having varied experiences, you start building up transferable abilities. Over time less situations will seem totally unknown because you will have done something similar before.

For example, I found I really enjoyed salsa dancing despite never having danced before, because it combined my previous experiences of playing in a band and doing martial arts.

2) You will eventually find those things that bring you the most pleasure and satisfaction (in a non-creepy way of course).

Confidence is often also described as “conscious competence,” which basically means that if you are doing something that you are skilled at, and you know that you are skilled, you feel confident.

8. Surrounding yourself with successful people

Successful people always say “how can we do this?” whereas unsuccessful people generally say “why should we do this?

What kind of people do you spend the most time with? Until you develop a strong inner core of confidence that others cannot touch, you need to surround yourself with “can do” people in order to feed on their confidence.

People showing you that anything is possible, and that they believe you are capable of anything will go a long way towards helping you believe this yourself.

9. Making a conscious effort to stop caring about other’s opinions of you

Finally, the biggest lesson I ever really learned about developing true all-round confidence is that the only person I should compare myself to is… myself. There is nothing to be gained in comparing myself to others or trying to live to others expectations.

Confidence comes from setting your own expectations of yourself and then trying your best to live up to them. I am not saying that you shouldn’t compete with others, because that’s a great motivator too, but your results and progress should only be measured against your past self.

Well that’s it. There’s a million other things you can do, but I am sure that if you start with this list and TAKE ACTION rather than just read this and do nothing, then you will start to see big changes in how you feel about yourself.

Which one of the above 9 ways to build unbreakable confidence resonated most with you and why?

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Success Advice

It’s Not How Smart You Are That Defines Your Career — It’s This

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Image Credit: Unsplash

Look around the office you work in. Some people are managers. Some people make six-figure salaries. Some people are senior executives. Some people work in customer service on the frontline.

It’s a big mistake to think that where you are in your career has something to do with how smart you are.

I’ve met many smart people who crash and burn in their careers because they have to be always right or they overthink, or they know a lot about the wrong things or they have very low emotional intelligence causing them to upset many people at the same time.

If being smart made us successful then we’d all go and consume endless information and become millionaires shortly after.

Being smart is not enough.

So what does define your career and the success you have?


1. How badly you want it

The woman/man that became CEO wanted it more.

The person with the 7-figure business wanted it more.

The woman that won an Olympic Gold Medal wanted it more.

You have to want your goals really, really, really bad.

Wanting something so badly that you’re prepared to do anything to get there (ethically) is how you get the energy to overcome the rejection and failure it’s going to take to get reach that point.

I wanted to share my story and inspire people with it very badly. I thought of creating a WordPress website, but I had no idea how to and had zero technical skill. My knowledge of how to market that website was also zero.
I tried creating a Facebook Page and to date, it still has less than 3000 followers which means I fall short by a lot in terms of my target to inspire millions of people.

I tried using Twitter and reaching people that way. I was never able to get any real engagement. I’d tweet Elon Musk. I’d message Tony Robbins. I’d write the best tweet humanly possible. It all led nowhere.

I tried using a blogging platform called Medium. I was able to build a small following, but most people in my area of the world don’t use it. I still came up short of my goal.

Then, I tried writing on a blog that already had lots of viewers called Addicted2Success and began posting on LinkedIn daily.

Everything changed. I wanted to inspire people so badly that I kept trying until I found a platform that worked for what I had to say. Wanting it badly enough was what helped me keep going from 2014 until now. It didn’t stop there, though.

When my career took a turn down a black hole, my motivation died. Suddenly, writing on Addicted2Success and LinkedIn became hard. I didn’t want it as bad because the pain caused by my work life was too much. I let things slip temporarily for about 3 weeks. Engagement went to an all-time low.

It didn’t last long, though. Why? My thinking changed when I reminded myself how upset I would be if I didn’t achieve my goal. It meant far too much and in the back of my mind, I still wanted it badly.

I went back over all the emails from people I’d helped and that spark came back. Deep down, I still wanted it badly. I still wanted to inspire millions of people.

Wanting it bad was what helped me to revive my blogging career and continue helping millions of people.

Wanting it badly will define your career.


2. What you think is possible

I met a guy earlier in the year that came from a farm in the middle of Outback Australia.

He’d sold his digital marketing business for a lot of money and banked a huge amount of coin as a result. He had no tech background. He had no business knowledge. He didn’t have seven-figure friends that drove Bentley’s.

What he had was an uncanny ability to think anything was possible. He saw himself rising above his circumstances even though he had no evidence to prove that he could do so. He worked long hours and built up a team of cult followers. They learned together how to get businesses exposure through social media and search engines.

For many of the people on his team, it was their first job. He didn’t pay them well because he couldn’t. All he thought was that one day, together, they’d do something incredible — and they did.

A lot of what happens in your career is based on how you think. If you think you can never be a manager, entrepreneur or executive, then you won’t be.

If you think you can be good at public speaking, you might.
If you think you can hit your sales target, you might.
If you think you can start a successful business, you might.
If you’re not successful right now, you will be.

It’s only a matter of time until one of the bets in your career pays off

It’s a combination of being ready, being humble, thinking right and having the skills to execute. Not thinking you can achieve big will rob you of whatever it is that you want in your career.

I shouldn’t be a successful blogger because I can’t write that well, I have bad spelling/grammar skills, I don’t own a blog and I’m not filthy rich. Despite all that I’ve achieved my blogging goal.

I saw my goal become possible before anybody else did.

I told myself that every major challenge was necessary for me to eventually get what I wanted. I thought my goal was possible even though all the facts suggested it wasn’t. Instead of relying on data I relied on my own mind to lead me down the right path.

I chose to believe when no one else did.

This very way of thinking is not unique to me. Many of the leaders around the world that shape the human race think in the same way.

What you think is possible in your career will define what goals you can achieve.

Your thinking defines your career.
Being smart isn’t enough.

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Success Advice

How to Create Your Own Version of Success

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success
Image Credit: Unsplash

Success is in the eye of the beholder. And because every human being sees life and all the things that come with it through their lens of experience, everyone’s individual idea of life, growth and success is defined by what they see, hear, think, feel and taste. This means that you have the power to determine what success means to you.

Many of the greatest thought-leaders, business people and influencers throughout history have provided their thoughts and opinions about success –  how to achieve it, how to manage it and how to be it. They’ve written books that are supposed to share with the world how success is merely a feeling and a wish. While many of the most successful people have warned that success is what you make of it, society has coined “success” as being wealthy, influential, famous, and lavish.

You may be thinking, “I’m not rich, but I’m well off,” or “I’m not a social media influencer, so I don’t have much clout.” But here is the truth: You, just the way you are, are already a success. Here’s why. Think of all the things that have happened in your life – the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. Up until this very moment, you have made a series of choices that have shaped your reality.

Therefore, you have created the life you have, and you have set the terms of how you decide to live your life. Not to suggest that your life is perfect because no ones life is exactly as they want it, but the fact that you have created your reality shows that you are a creator. It also shows that you are in charge of creating the success you desire.

“Success is not in what you have, but who you are.” – Bo Bennett

Even if you feel like you should be so much further along than you are today, you still made it to today and that’s a good thing. If you are reading this feeling like you need to shift things around in your life so that you can feel like a success, try these three things below.

  1. Jot down all the words that you think of when you read the word “success,” and mark the words that align with who you are. Ask yourself what you believe you need to feel like a success. Only write down what resonates with you, not what you think people expect of you. Remember, that you are defining your journey, so you get to make up all the rules.
  2. Now, write down all the words you think about when you read the word “unsuccessful,” and mark all the words that may describe some aspect of you that you want to eliminate. Don’t just consider the big stuff, small stuff matters too! Procrastinating to get out of bed in the morning, drinking too much soda, or even spending too much time watching television are all examples of habits that could in some way affect your personal growth.
  3. Lastly, create an SAP (Success Attack Plan) to align yourself with more of the descriptive words that you associate with success and start to eliminate the characteristics you may possess that depict you as less than who you desire to be.

Your Success Attack Plan doesn’t have to be elaborate. It can start with an actionable idea as simple as, “Read one book this month about personal development,” or “Connect with someone who can mentor me.” Sometimes, you have to look to those who have been where you are to help you get where you desire to be. Just remember, your journey won’t look like theirs so pay attention to your inner being at all times and do what feels natural and right to your situation.

“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way and not starting.” – Buddha

When you create your lists, be as imaginative as possible. Consider those people, places and things around you. Think about what you like and don’t like. Ponder on energy you want to attract that you do not already have and things you want to repel.

Don’t worry about setting a timeline for this. Creating a vision for your life starts with setting an intention at this moment and allowing that intention to lead you in the days to come. To see yourself five years from now, you have to do the things today that will help you get to the future.

Don’t allow others to tell you what you should aspire to be when it comes to success. You are in command, and you are in charge of your present and your future. Own it, own your success and own you.

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Success Advice

What It Really Means to Be a High Achiever in a Culture of Lazy

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employee motivation
Image Credit: Twenty20.com

Keeping employees interested in their work has been an increasingly difficult challenge for today’s employers. Whether it’s due to a generational shift of Millennials fully entering the workforce or an increasingly distracted society across the board, the vast majority of American workers are not passionate about their work.

This dispassionate workforce is causing large-scale problems, for both workers and the companies that employ them. When young people become immersed in cultural laziness, it can be hard to become a high achiever, but there is a path for those willing to do what it takes to be a top performer, and it’s simpler than you might think.

Laziness by the Numbers

According to a recent Gallup poll, nearly two-thirds of American workers are either unengaged or actively disengaged in their job. This leaves only a third of Americans who are actively engaged and passionate about their work. This lack of interest has enormous financial ramifications for companies due to all of this lost productivity.

Research from McLean & Company, estimates that a disengaged employee costs a company $3,400 out of every $10,000 in annual salary, or 34% of their wages. That means a disengaged employee who earns $75,000 costs their organization $25,500 per year due to a lack of productivity. If roughly two-thirds of workers are disengaged, this adds up to billions of dollars lost across the economy.

“To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to.” – Khalil Gibran

Motivation: Whose Job is it Anyway?

There are two schools of thought when it comes to employee motivation: Either managers need to actively motivate their employees, or employees need to step their game up and figure out what they actually like doing. Stefan Aarnio, a highly successful real estate investor, author, coach, and speaker, falls squarely into the second camp. He attributes his company’s success to the culture of high accountability and high performance he cultivated over the years.

It all began with Aarnio honing his own intrinsic motivation over the years by discovering, and then doing, exactly what he loves to do. In Aarnio’s own words, “you don’t need the resistance of waking up every day and doing things that you hate doing, life is too short for that”, and he expects those he hires to follow the same logic. When you love what you do, you don’t need a manager to constantly poke and prod you to gin up some motivation, however fleeting it might be.

It may seem like common advice that only works for the wealthy, but doing what you love really is the simple solution to the scores of dispassionate workers plaguing the workforce of today. People are trained to believe that they should get the highest paying job they can get regardless of how it makes them feel.

“You don’t build a business, you build people, and then people build the business.” – Zig Ziglar

Aarnio believes this is shortsighted and will ultimately lead to a sad and dispassionate life. By being attuned to what makes him passionate, and expecting the same from his employees, Aarnio has been able to flip the script and develop a culture of passion and high achievement.

How do you motivate your team to want to show up every single day? Comment below!

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8 Powerful and Inspiring Words of Encouragement to Help Lift You Up

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When you’re going through tough times, all you need is sympathy. You just need someone to tell you how strong you are and how you can cope with the situation. Essentially, you’re waiting for a soothing voice that can calm your inner storm and genuinely help with your troubles. (more…)

I am Eliana Jags, Co-Founder & Author at beinginsightful.com. I'm passionate about writing motivational and inspirational articles. Before I became a full-time blogger, I was a Software Engineer but left the job to fulfill my dream of becoming a writer and thus I've committed myself completely to my passion of writing. You can connect with me on my Facebook page here.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Dolf

    Jun 14, 2012 at 11:54 am

    Right on target for the most part, though the choice of words for “#9 – Keep your track record clean” could use a pinch of empathy.

    There are many people that made mistakes, many years ago, that CANNOT get a great job because of those mistakes. Sure they can dig ditches, mow lawns and work in construction, but in general, Corporate America… HA(!!), good luck with that.

    As an example, I would offer that a boy, booted from his home at 17, broke into a church, stole food to eat and got caught. Tried as an adult, he did 2 years in prison and now couldn’t get a meaningful job that would lead to high status to save his life. Even 20 years later he is turned away. The man is brilliant, but society won’t look him in the eye and say “I’ll give you a chance”. Ruined? Done? No…. He now owns a successful business because he had no choice. The only way he could make it was to work for himself. No background checks to suddenly cause silence from prospective employers that were “excited about working with him” just before he revealed what they would find in the check. By the way, those checks that say they only go back 7 years… not true.

    There are thousands of disheartened men and women that could do more with their lives if they weren’t constantly beaten up by the past. They get their heads above water and there is someone new to step on it so they go back under.

    Perhaps a second example — Last week I was on a day trip with a man that is a friend and a successful business owner and I were stopped for speeding in RI. Suddenly, there were 3 cars on us and we were pulled from the car, handcuffed and both us and the car were searched. Why? Because the man had been arrested, NOT convicted of, an armed robbery when he was 19. I confirmed this with the trooper in charge. He is 43. Not a great way for me to find out this about him, but after we were let go with a warning, the man, in tears, explained that he gets this treatment all the time and further explained how he was discriminated against so much that he felt he would never have an opportunity to be anything besides what society allowed. Just before being stopped the man was talking about all the opportunity he was seeing in his future since starting his business. I could visibly see the experience we just went through was deflating his hopes.

    As an ex-police officer and former MP in the Army, I was shocked to see what these people go through, so I now have dropped my judgment and encourage them to do whatever it takes, within the law, to step up and meet their full potential. Prejudice will always be there, judgment will always be there, opportunity is what you make when others won’t offer it. Thousands of great men and women are starting or continuing businesses because of their belief in themselves and their refusal to quit. Entrepreneurship requires that you never let them see you hurt, angry, frustrated, etc. Drive on and make it happen for yourself despite what others think.

    Apparently this hit a nerve for me. For some reason this needed to be said.

    • Aneil

      Dec 26, 2012 at 8:23 am

      Hi Dolf
      I agree with you.And i think these basic thing may also help people.

  2. Deeone Higgs

    Jun 13, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Great message, Joel! These were spot on! Just looking back over a few of my own past failures – I can see through this article exactly where I went wrong on each one. I wasn’t always mindful of the importance of fostering the right connections or surrounding myself with the right people – and that’s a HUGE missing ingredient in the mix of success. Thanks for sharing the awesomeness, bud!

  3. Xavier Smith

    Jun 10, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    This was an awesome read! I am glad to have military experience in my background, for it hit home for me, now that I am a serial entrepreneur.

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. JERRY ORBAN

    Jun 10, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    i am better then you guys

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Success Advice

9 Ways To Build Unbreakable Confidence From The Outside In

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Build Self Confidence

There are a million different resources and pieces of advice out there from “experts” on how to build confidence, particularly self-confidence.

A vulnerable and anxious population consumes this guidance like they are starving for it… probably because they are. The dream of being able to overcome all fear and self-imposed limits by simply reading some advice is a very tempting dish indeed.

After lifetimes of being subject to images and ideals that they cannot possibly live up to, people start to feel like they are “less than.” This fear of being a substandard human being drives some of us to seek guidance, bringing us into contact with the murky, over-crowded world of self-help products and services.

Look, some of the stuff out there is good – I know, I’ve tried most of it. However, some of it is very misguided and even delusional.

People who lack self-confidence themselves can take a class on basic theoretical knowledge of psychological research, and use it to excrete volumes of garbage about how to build self-esteem and confidence. They then charge copious amounts of money for this drivel, which usually makes you feel great temporarily but does absolutely nothing to change your long term situation.

I’m not going to pretend I know it all, yet what I do have to offer is that I have completed the full journey, from shy, “nice,” and trying to please everyone, all the way through to where I am now.

You may ask, where is that, and what does being confident mean to me? It means that these things now occur in my life where they didn’t before:

  • I regularly seek out opportunities to push boundaries and expand my comfort zone, running towards fear rather than away from it
  • I can go into a situation full of anxiety and quickly push through that to enable me to feel competent and at ease
  • I feel comfortable being honest in all situations. Rather than hide my views, I express them calmly and diplomatically where required, but also without compromise
  • I place my needs above everything else. I am selfish about developing my life and inner-self, because I know that ultimately the people in my life will benefit from me being a better person
  • Most importantly from my point of view, I can’t remember the last time I felt jealousy or envy, and it’s been many, many years since I entertained the idea of wanting to be anyone else

So how did I get to this from being a “nice” guy that did all I could to avoid confrontation and anxiety-provoking situations? Well, it wasn’t easy! I have taken some time to break down the steps I took to achieve this in order to help others out there who are similar to me and serious about developing true, unbreakable inner confidence.

See the secret is really no secret at all – it’s about constantly taking action in a way that pushes your comfort zone further out until you learn how to make any situation feel like it’s in your comfort zone.

Below are 9 ways to build unbreakable confidence from the outside in:

1. Identifying your ultimate dream lifestyle

Something that is a real confidence drainer is not knowing where you’re going in life. The great thing is you don’t even need to be sure about it; you just need to have a direction to travel in.

Try taking 30 minutes to write down a descriptive paragraph or two about what your life would look like if you could wave a magic wand and choose anything. I’ve found with my clients that answering these three questions in detail is a great structure to use:

1What will you have / what will you be doing?

2) How would other people describe you?

3) What will you think about yourself?

Writing down the detailed answers to these questions, using emotional and descriptive language. Once you’ve done this, make sure you re-read it regularly (at least twice per week) to remind yourself constantly about why it is you are getting out of bed.

This will increase your sense of purpose in life, a reason to live in a way, which will increase your confidence. Of course, to actually achieve this dream lifestyle, there are further steps you need to take… (read on).

2. Writing down goals and striving to achieve them

I remember reading about a study at Oxford University: researchers asked all students in a class who had written down their goals. I can’t remember the exact details but about 3% of them did this.

When the researchers revisited the students again 20 years later, the small group who had written down goals were earning a combined income that was greater than the combined income of all 97% of their classmates.

There are plenty of free resources out there on how to write goals (including The Inspirational Lifestyle). The general key I recommend is that rather than write outcome based goals (e.g. “I will get a promotion”) try writing action-based goals that are under your control (e.g. “I will take a management course and then apply for a promotion”).

By making sure the goals are under your control, your confidence is not subject to luck. Remove luck by making sure that nothing and no-one can affect the achievement of your goal except for you.

3. Reading popular self-development books by successful business people

While there are far too many refuse-bin-worthy self-development books out there, your safest bet is to read the memoirs and how-to books which are written by people who have actually achieved something.

It really is simple; if someone like Richard Branson is a billionaire, he’s probably a pretty reliable source of information on how to make money. It’s much better to listen to him than someone fresh from completing an MBA and spilling a bunch of inexperienced theory-based conjecture.

4Learning how to manage your state of mind

Most of the time the reason you feel anxious or nervous about a situation you’re about to go into, such as public speaking, is because you’re in the wrong frame of mind.

Imagine this: you’ve been studying accounting for three straights hours without interruption, when all of a sudden you’re dragged to a party. Straight away you feel anxiety even though going to a party is not an unusual situation for you. So what’s the problem?

Your brain was set into the “studying” state, which is secluded, quiet, and antisocial. You are then thrown into a situation which requires you to be extroverted, talkative and social. This is a really uncomfortable imbalance for your brain to handle. The solution? Taking baby steps.

When you realize you are feeling anxiety about an upcoming situation and you suspect that it is because of being in the wrong state, try to figure out some in-between steps you can take.

Using our example above, rather than going straight to the party, you could have a chat on the phone with some close friends, followed by pre-drinks at your house with just a few people. This way by the time you get to the party your state has gone from withdrawn to outgoing in easy to manage steps.

confidence picture quote

5Understanding the balance between learning, mentoring and action

One of the most common barriers to success is too much thinking and not enough doing. It’s the doing that builds confidence, not the learning.

As a general rule, for every hour you spend reading or watching videos (passive learning), you will benefit most by complementing this with two hours of mentoring or coaching, and seven hours practicing or otherwise taking action. It’s the 10/20/70 rule.

This is why I’ve titled this article “9 ways to build confidence from the outside in,” because building confidence goes far beyond just reading inspirational or educational books. It’s about taking action so you will start seeing results and positive changes.

6. Approaching strangers

This is one of the scariest things for people to do – very few can do it sober without a background in cold-calling or sales of some kind. Doing this is a really powerful way to build confidence, particularly if you’re single and approaching strangers with the intention of potential romance.

If you can get yourself to do this sober and during the day, it makes everything else seem a lot less scary. You can learn to love rejection as the learning and feedback experience it really is.

7. Trying new things regularly

Having a routine can kill your creativity and make your life boring. It’s important to seek new adventures, and always try new things regularly because it can boost your confidence through the following two ways.

1) By learning a range of skills and having varied experiences, you start building up transferable abilities. Over time less situations will seem totally unknown because you will have done something similar before.

For example, I found I really enjoyed salsa dancing despite never having danced before, because it combined my previous experiences of playing in a band and doing martial arts.

2) You will eventually find those things that bring you the most pleasure and satisfaction (in a non-creepy way of course).

Confidence is often also described as “conscious competence,” which basically means that if you are doing something that you are skilled at, and you know that you are skilled, you feel confident.

8. Surrounding yourself with successful people

Successful people always say “how can we do this?” whereas unsuccessful people generally say “why should we do this?

What kind of people do you spend the most time with? Until you develop a strong inner core of confidence that others cannot touch, you need to surround yourself with “can do” people in order to feed on their confidence.

People showing you that anything is possible, and that they believe you are capable of anything will go a long way towards helping you believe this yourself.

9. Making a conscious effort to stop caring about other’s opinions of you

Finally, the biggest lesson I ever really learned about developing true all-round confidence is that the only person I should compare myself to is… myself. There is nothing to be gained in comparing myself to others or trying to live to others expectations.

Confidence comes from setting your own expectations of yourself and then trying your best to live up to them. I am not saying that you shouldn’t compete with others, because that’s a great motivator too, but your results and progress should only be measured against your past self.

Well that’s it. There’s a million other things you can do, but I am sure that if you start with this list and TAKE ACTION rather than just read this and do nothing, then you will start to see big changes in how you feel about yourself.

Which one of the above 9 ways to build unbreakable confidence resonated most with you and why?

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Success Advice

It’s Not How Smart You Are That Defines Your Career — It’s This

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Look around the office you work in. Some people are managers. Some people make six-figure salaries. Some people are senior executives. Some people work in customer service on the frontline.

It’s a big mistake to think that where you are in your career has something to do with how smart you are.

I’ve met many smart people who crash and burn in their careers because they have to be always right or they overthink, or they know a lot about the wrong things or they have very low emotional intelligence causing them to upset many people at the same time.

If being smart made us successful then we’d all go and consume endless information and become millionaires shortly after.

Being smart is not enough.

So what does define your career and the success you have?


1. How badly you want it

The woman/man that became CEO wanted it more.

The person with the 7-figure business wanted it more.

The woman that won an Olympic Gold Medal wanted it more.

You have to want your goals really, really, really bad.

Wanting something so badly that you’re prepared to do anything to get there (ethically) is how you get the energy to overcome the rejection and failure it’s going to take to get reach that point.

I wanted to share my story and inspire people with it very badly. I thought of creating a WordPress website, but I had no idea how to and had zero technical skill. My knowledge of how to market that website was also zero.
I tried creating a Facebook Page and to date, it still has less than 3000 followers which means I fall short by a lot in terms of my target to inspire millions of people.

I tried using Twitter and reaching people that way. I was never able to get any real engagement. I’d tweet Elon Musk. I’d message Tony Robbins. I’d write the best tweet humanly possible. It all led nowhere.

I tried using a blogging platform called Medium. I was able to build a small following, but most people in my area of the world don’t use it. I still came up short of my goal.

Then, I tried writing on a blog that already had lots of viewers called Addicted2Success and began posting on LinkedIn daily.

Everything changed. I wanted to inspire people so badly that I kept trying until I found a platform that worked for what I had to say. Wanting it badly enough was what helped me keep going from 2014 until now. It didn’t stop there, though.

When my career took a turn down a black hole, my motivation died. Suddenly, writing on Addicted2Success and LinkedIn became hard. I didn’t want it as bad because the pain caused by my work life was too much. I let things slip temporarily for about 3 weeks. Engagement went to an all-time low.

It didn’t last long, though. Why? My thinking changed when I reminded myself how upset I would be if I didn’t achieve my goal. It meant far too much and in the back of my mind, I still wanted it badly.

I went back over all the emails from people I’d helped and that spark came back. Deep down, I still wanted it badly. I still wanted to inspire millions of people.

Wanting it bad was what helped me to revive my blogging career and continue helping millions of people.

Wanting it badly will define your career.


2. What you think is possible

I met a guy earlier in the year that came from a farm in the middle of Outback Australia.

He’d sold his digital marketing business for a lot of money and banked a huge amount of coin as a result. He had no tech background. He had no business knowledge. He didn’t have seven-figure friends that drove Bentley’s.

What he had was an uncanny ability to think anything was possible. He saw himself rising above his circumstances even though he had no evidence to prove that he could do so. He worked long hours and built up a team of cult followers. They learned together how to get businesses exposure through social media and search engines.

For many of the people on his team, it was their first job. He didn’t pay them well because he couldn’t. All he thought was that one day, together, they’d do something incredible — and they did.

A lot of what happens in your career is based on how you think. If you think you can never be a manager, entrepreneur or executive, then you won’t be.

If you think you can be good at public speaking, you might.
If you think you can hit your sales target, you might.
If you think you can start a successful business, you might.
If you’re not successful right now, you will be.

It’s only a matter of time until one of the bets in your career pays off

It’s a combination of being ready, being humble, thinking right and having the skills to execute. Not thinking you can achieve big will rob you of whatever it is that you want in your career.

I shouldn’t be a successful blogger because I can’t write that well, I have bad spelling/grammar skills, I don’t own a blog and I’m not filthy rich. Despite all that I’ve achieved my blogging goal.

I saw my goal become possible before anybody else did.

I told myself that every major challenge was necessary for me to eventually get what I wanted. I thought my goal was possible even though all the facts suggested it wasn’t. Instead of relying on data I relied on my own mind to lead me down the right path.

I chose to believe when no one else did.

This very way of thinking is not unique to me. Many of the leaders around the world that shape the human race think in the same way.

What you think is possible in your career will define what goals you can achieve.

Your thinking defines your career.
Being smart isn’t enough.

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Success Advice

How to Create Your Own Version of Success

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Success is in the eye of the beholder. And because every human being sees life and all the things that come with it through their lens of experience, everyone’s individual idea of life, growth and success is defined by what they see, hear, think, feel and taste. This means that you have the power to determine what success means to you.

Many of the greatest thought-leaders, business people and influencers throughout history have provided their thoughts and opinions about success –  how to achieve it, how to manage it and how to be it. They’ve written books that are supposed to share with the world how success is merely a feeling and a wish. While many of the most successful people have warned that success is what you make of it, society has coined “success” as being wealthy, influential, famous, and lavish.

You may be thinking, “I’m not rich, but I’m well off,” or “I’m not a social media influencer, so I don’t have much clout.” But here is the truth: You, just the way you are, are already a success. Here’s why. Think of all the things that have happened in your life – the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. Up until this very moment, you have made a series of choices that have shaped your reality.

Therefore, you have created the life you have, and you have set the terms of how you decide to live your life. Not to suggest that your life is perfect because no ones life is exactly as they want it, but the fact that you have created your reality shows that you are a creator. It also shows that you are in charge of creating the success you desire.

“Success is not in what you have, but who you are.” – Bo Bennett

Even if you feel like you should be so much further along than you are today, you still made it to today and that’s a good thing. If you are reading this feeling like you need to shift things around in your life so that you can feel like a success, try these three things below.

  1. Jot down all the words that you think of when you read the word “success,” and mark the words that align with who you are. Ask yourself what you believe you need to feel like a success. Only write down what resonates with you, not what you think people expect of you. Remember, that you are defining your journey, so you get to make up all the rules.
  2. Now, write down all the words you think about when you read the word “unsuccessful,” and mark all the words that may describe some aspect of you that you want to eliminate. Don’t just consider the big stuff, small stuff matters too! Procrastinating to get out of bed in the morning, drinking too much soda, or even spending too much time watching television are all examples of habits that could in some way affect your personal growth.
  3. Lastly, create an SAP (Success Attack Plan) to align yourself with more of the descriptive words that you associate with success and start to eliminate the characteristics you may possess that depict you as less than who you desire to be.

Your Success Attack Plan doesn’t have to be elaborate. It can start with an actionable idea as simple as, “Read one book this month about personal development,” or “Connect with someone who can mentor me.” Sometimes, you have to look to those who have been where you are to help you get where you desire to be. Just remember, your journey won’t look like theirs so pay attention to your inner being at all times and do what feels natural and right to your situation.

“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way and not starting.” – Buddha

When you create your lists, be as imaginative as possible. Consider those people, places and things around you. Think about what you like and don’t like. Ponder on energy you want to attract that you do not already have and things you want to repel.

Don’t worry about setting a timeline for this. Creating a vision for your life starts with setting an intention at this moment and allowing that intention to lead you in the days to come. To see yourself five years from now, you have to do the things today that will help you get to the future.

Don’t allow others to tell you what you should aspire to be when it comes to success. You are in command, and you are in charge of your present and your future. Own it, own your success and own you.

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Success Advice

What It Really Means to Be a High Achiever in a Culture of Lazy

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Keeping employees interested in their work has been an increasingly difficult challenge for today’s employers. Whether it’s due to a generational shift of Millennials fully entering the workforce or an increasingly distracted society across the board, the vast majority of American workers are not passionate about their work.

This dispassionate workforce is causing large-scale problems, for both workers and the companies that employ them. When young people become immersed in cultural laziness, it can be hard to become a high achiever, but there is a path for those willing to do what it takes to be a top performer, and it’s simpler than you might think.

Laziness by the Numbers

According to a recent Gallup poll, nearly two-thirds of American workers are either unengaged or actively disengaged in their job. This leaves only a third of Americans who are actively engaged and passionate about their work. This lack of interest has enormous financial ramifications for companies due to all of this lost productivity.

Research from McLean & Company, estimates that a disengaged employee costs a company $3,400 out of every $10,000 in annual salary, or 34% of their wages. That means a disengaged employee who earns $75,000 costs their organization $25,500 per year due to a lack of productivity. If roughly two-thirds of workers are disengaged, this adds up to billions of dollars lost across the economy.

“To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to.” – Khalil Gibran

Motivation: Whose Job is it Anyway?

There are two schools of thought when it comes to employee motivation: Either managers need to actively motivate their employees, or employees need to step their game up and figure out what they actually like doing. Stefan Aarnio, a highly successful real estate investor, author, coach, and speaker, falls squarely into the second camp. He attributes his company’s success to the culture of high accountability and high performance he cultivated over the years.

It all began with Aarnio honing his own intrinsic motivation over the years by discovering, and then doing, exactly what he loves to do. In Aarnio’s own words, “you don’t need the resistance of waking up every day and doing things that you hate doing, life is too short for that”, and he expects those he hires to follow the same logic. When you love what you do, you don’t need a manager to constantly poke and prod you to gin up some motivation, however fleeting it might be.

It may seem like common advice that only works for the wealthy, but doing what you love really is the simple solution to the scores of dispassionate workers plaguing the workforce of today. People are trained to believe that they should get the highest paying job they can get regardless of how it makes them feel.

“You don’t build a business, you build people, and then people build the business.” – Zig Ziglar

Aarnio believes this is shortsighted and will ultimately lead to a sad and dispassionate life. By being attuned to what makes him passionate, and expecting the same from his employees, Aarnio has been able to flip the script and develop a culture of passion and high achievement.

How do you motivate your team to want to show up every single day? Comment below!

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