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5 Counterintuitive Ways To Succeed In Business

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5 Counterintuitive Ways To Succeed In Business

Ask people what qualities, abilities, and habits successful business leaders have and most of the responses you get would likely include thoughts about hustle, drive, hard work, intelligence, and focus. These are all admirable, and stereotypes usually exist for a reason, but the common wisdom about success is often tilted toward what is loud, flashy, and noticeable, because that’s what sells books, TV shows, and magazines. Don’t be fooled, many of the most successful people in business defy the stereotypes. Develop these skills, attributes, and habits and you’ll find yourself more successful not just in business, but in life.

Here are five counterintuitive ways to succeed in business

1Work less

I ran my business for four years without getting a dime out of it. During the same time I piled up hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. I then made one change that resulted in me getting paid a decent salary and paying off $10,000 to $20,000 per month in debt. What was it that made the difference? I made a rule to quit work at 5 pm and not work weekends. You might think my success was the result of all the hard work I had put in for those four years, but if I hadn’t started working less I still wouldn’t be getting paid.

When I had no limit to the hours I worked I made poor decisions about how to use my time. After all, I had all the time in the world to figure things out, right? Once I created an artificial limit for my time, I had to prioritize. I had to figure out what was worth my time and what wasn’t, because there wasn’t time to do it all like there was before. Making better decisions meant I could do more with 40 hours than I previously did with 90.

It’s not just me. A study at Stanford University discovered that people who work 70 hours per week aren’t any more productive than those who work just 55 hour per week. Work less by creating boundaries for your time and watch your productivity soar.

 

2. Be humble

Great business leaders are egocentric, driven, and have a no-holds barred attitude, right? The truth is almost the opposite. In his business classic Good to Great author Jim Collins found that “Level 5 leaders,” or those leaders who drove the most value for their companies, blended humility, will, and ferocious resolve. They had a tendency to give credit to others while assigning blame to themselves.

Humility doesn’t mean putting yourself down and thinking you’re a terrible person, it means seeing things as they truly are, without filters. The more accurate your observations are, the better equipped you are to make intelligent choices. When you drop the ego, you become teachable, which means you can increase your intelligence and ability to succeed.

“Selflessness is humility. Humility and freedom go hand in hand. Only a humble person can be free.” – Jeff Wilson

3. Develop empathy

I’m wrapping up work on my book Chief Marketing Officers at Work: How Top Marketers Build Customer Loyalty. The book contains 30 interviews with CMOs from brands like Target, PayPal, Spotify, The Home Depot, and GE. As I’ve asked these successful marketers what they look for in those they hire, the word “empathy” has come up over and over again.

Successful marketers have a keen understanding of their customers that helps them craft marketing campaigns that work. The CMO role is increasingly a stepping stone toward becoming CEO. Could empathy be just as important for all executives as it is for the marketing department?

 

4. Put exercise above career

Exercise clears the mind, much like meditation, allowing you think more clearly. It helps you feel better about yourself, boosting your self confidence. Excellence in one area of life impacts all other areas. If you’re not taking care of your body and mind you’re hurting your ability to be successful in every other part of your life.

Yes, it’s hard for a success-driven individual to make time to exercise. That’s why exercise needs to come first. Don’t have time? See “Work less” above.

 

5. Be generous

In their best selling book, The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea, authors Bob Burg and John David Mann use a fictional story to illustrate a true principle–those who give a lot of value, get a lot in return. They share five “laws” for achieving success in business:

  1. Value: Your worth, professionally speaking, is determined by how much more you give in value than what you take in payment.
  2. Compensation: How much you get paid is a result of how many people you serve and how well you serve them.
  3. Influence: Your influence grows as you place other people’s needs first.
  4. Authenticity: It’s difficult to provide great value if you have no passion for your work. Successful people are genuinely excited about what they do, get excited about what they do, or they find something else to do. They don’t fake it.
  5. Receptivity: If you don’t know how to comfortably receive from others, you don’t understand how to give value effectively.

The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving.” —Albert Einstein

The real key of the book is to not focus on money or your own success. Instead, focus on others and the value you can provide to them. If you provide great value, money and success will take care of themselves. If you don’t believe it, try it for a month and see what happens.

What counterintuitive ways have you found successful? Tell us in the comments section below!

Josh Steimle is a speaker, writer, and entrepreneur. He is the CEO of MWI, a digital marketing agency with offices in the U.S. and Hong Kong. Follow him @joshsteimle or on his blog at joshsteimle.com.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Gaurav

    Apr 8, 2016 at 6:29 am

    Point No 1, I completely agree and realize it. Great Article. Thanks.

  2. Evan

    Mar 21, 2016 at 11:04 am

    Josh,

    Awesome article and there are a few great takeaways that are relevant to my life right now! The 5pm tip seems EXTREMELY counterintuitive, thinking you can always get more done by working more. Not true. Excellent tip, and when I focused on my 20% that got me 80% I also saw jumps in productivity.

    The exercise part is extremely important as well, and I am going to close the laptop now and head to the gym 🙂

    Keep up the awesome work!

    – Evan

  3. Clovissia TOUVENT

    Jan 6, 2016 at 9:43 am

    Thank you for this great article.
    I put exercise on top of my daily rules and it’s very efficient. It really helps me make good decisions with the right state of mind.
    The reward is success.
    I wish you a wonderful new year

  4. Vikash Sharma

    Jan 4, 2016 at 6:26 pm

    Hi Josh,

    An awesome article.

    I am completely agree with all your points, especially with “Work less”. when we work excessively, our mind stop getting new ideas and we make very poor decisions. you should learn how to prioritize our time and you will find amazing results

    Overall a great article and thanks for sharing

    Thanks,
    Vikash Sharma

  5. Addicted 2 The Grind

    Jan 4, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    Great Article.
    Intersting perspective on #1 . I feel that if you learn to prioritize important task you can work long hours and still see great result.

    Everyone has the own way and style of getting the result they want or need.

Leave a Reply

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

Success Advice

Success is for the Self-Taught

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self education
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Truman Capote, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Jobs, Nikola Tesla. Those are four names you never thought you’d see in a sentence together. As it happens, these four individuals have more in common than their success, ingenuity, and fame. They were all autodidacts. In other words, they were self-taught learners.

The talents and innovations that skyrocketed them to fame were the products of their own teachings. Make no mistake, this doesn’t mean a formal education is a waste of time. However, it goes to show that success is crafted solely by commitment and focus. While college and traineeships can prepare us for the groundwork of what we pursue, it’s ultimately up to us as individuals to teach ourselves how to refine our knowledge for success.

It’s the self-taught principles that allow us to distinguish our own work from that of others. With the help of the internet, self-taught success is more possible than ever. And there are plenty of ways to reach our inner autodidact.

Elon Musk had science degrees from top Ivy League universities, but he still credits most of his knowledge to the textbooks he allegedly “committed to memory.” Reading is just one way to teach yourself everything you need to know. Aspiring inventors can surely learn a lot by sacrificing some of their leisure time to sit down with a textbook.

For writers and artists, the best study is to just read. Read anything. Inspiration can be derived from poetry, works of fiction, etc. These also help you develop your writing skills, which is an important asset for any aspiring entrepreneur.

“Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.” – Isaac Asimov

With the help of online Master Classes, Youtube videos, and apps – where online courses developed by some of the top U.S. educational institutions can be accessed remotely – self-taught success is more attainable than ever.

What’s more, we learn through practice. We can publish our own eBooks through Amazon without the publishing house bureaucracy. We can advertise our product, brand, or service through social media savvy without astronomical advertising costs. And as we practice, we learn. We gain feedback from our followers, learn from our mistakes, and do it better the second time around.

Even when you’re teaching yourself, others are always helping. However, you get to decide which lessons are most constructive, and you get to apply them to the real world in real-time.

The Science of Self-Taught

People have a tendency to romanticize the concept of self-taught success. It’s not a solution for laziness, or an excuse for lack of motivation. In many cases, teaching yourself is more work than being taught. The level of accountability rises when you are both teacher and student. Furthermore, it requires more discipline. Without a structured schedule or a guaranteed reward at the end of your efforts, your only hope is your dedication.

Beyond this, however, the only thing stopping most people from teaching themselves is insecurity. Fear of failure and inadequacy halts self-taught learners in their tracks. Especially because with self-teaching, inevitably, comes occasional failure. Unfortunately, the self-taught often feel they have nobody to blame the failure on but themselves – no teachers, mentors, or trainers as scapegoats.

According to Psychology Today, there is nothing that makes certain people better self-taught learners than others. The only difference is motivation, and willingness to overcome that lingering insecurity. Even the concept of “learning styles” is erroneous, says Psychology Today. While each individual is different, ability to learn is not based on preference, but expertise.

Beginners learn better from examples, while experts learn better by solving problems. This builds yet another case for autodidacts, who are more likely to learn by experience – the most effective method.

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but a lifelong attempt to acquire it.” – Albert Einstein

The Rewards of Being Self-Taught

The fruits of your labor taste sweeter when you’ve taught yourself how to grow them. As such, success is more enjoyable when your self-education has contributed to it. All successful individuals have something in common: they’ve taken the initiative to teach themselves new things, or to supplement their formal education with self-teaching, as well.

Therefore, not all groundbreaking inventors, artists, and philosophers are solely self-taught. However, they’ve still accompanied their college training with their own individual quest for knowledge.

There is a simple reason why autodidacts thrive the most: because they’re always learning. The one mistake people who solely rely on formal education and training make is the mistake of stopping their learning process altogether once it’s over. Not only does this prevent you from being up-to-date on the latest concepts and advancements in your field, but it obstructs your brain’s thirst for mental stimulation.

By constantly learning and teaching ourselves new things, no matter how small or large they might be, we could change the course of our overall health and well-being. Research even shows that mental stimulation (consisting of practicing memorization, learning new things, and improving our skill in existing hobbies) is key to slowing down the development of, and possibly even reversing, Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Motivational speaker and entrepreneur Jim Rohn was noted for saying, “Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” This does not mean you should abandon the pursuit of formal education, as it often serves as the foundation for self-education. But, it does mean we should maintain, cater to, and quench our thirst for knowledge as much as we possibly can.

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Success Advice

6 Expert Tips for Building Relationships With Those You Idolize

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building relationships
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Many of us dream of one day meeting a celebrity. Be it a movie star or a pro football player, we have a tendency to idolize these individuals, even looking to them for guidance as we make life decisions. In business, we can also find people we idolize. Individuals who have achieved great success with their own company or even revolutionized an industry.

From these people, we can learn key skills, gain valuable insights or even form partnerships to take our own business ventures to the next level. Yes, it is possible to form real relationships with your business idols or industry influencers. But like any other relationship, it requires work.

Here’s 6 ways you can start forming the relationships that will make a lasting difference for your entrepreneurial goals:

1. Do Your Research

Facebook stalking may be creepy for normal relationships, but doing some online research is perfectly okay for business leaders and influencers. After all, most influencers are extremely active online, either through social media, their own website or guest blogging. This basic research gives you a chance to better understand your business idol.

What do they like or dislike? What are their opinions on current trends? What do they talk like? These simple bits of information will help you better know how to approach them and determine if a relationship could prove beneficial.

“The richest people in the world look for and build networks. Everyone else looks for work.” – Robert Kiyosaki

2. Comment Carefully

Your initial research also serves as your first chance for engagement with your business idol. By liking social media posts or leaving thoughtful comments on blog articles, you can make a positive first impression.

Of course, leaving quality comments is sometimes easier said than done. As Kevin Duncan of SmartBlogger explains, thoughtfully contributing to the discussion with personal experiences or meaningful questions are a great way to get the conversation started.

“When you share a personal insight, bloggers can more easily relate to you. You’re no longer just an unfamiliar name making a comment that could have been left by anyone …the more personal your insight, the more unique it will be. And the more unique your insight, the more memorable your comment will be and the more you’ll stand out.”

3. Group Participation

Business leaders and influencers won’t only be found on blogs. Many are also active participants in online industry groups. Whether on Facebook or LinkedIn, these groups allow industry professionals to discuss current trends, ask for advice, or share new opportunities.

If you wish to make a positive impression, you should seek out, join and actively participate in these online groups. Avoid the temptation to promote yourself or your business. Instead, engage in conversations much like you would with a quality blog comment. By sharing your unique experiences and insights, you’ll build a stronger reputation among your peers.

4. Face Time

Online discussions are a great place to start, but the best relationships typically require some face-to-face interaction. You make a much more lasting impression when you have an in-person conversation. Industry conventions or lectures are great places to connect with others in your field. When you show yourself as a living, breathing human being, rather than just a name behind the computer, it becomes so much easier to make a personal connection and form a real, lasting relationship — and that can pay big dividends for future pitches.

Setting up a face-to-face meeting can be tricky. After all, you don’t want to come off as creepy. However, if you’ve already established an online rapport, asking if an influencer would like to briefly meet in person at an event you’re both attending shouldn’t be a problem.

5. Add Value

All relationships have a bit of give and take — and this is especially true when forming relationships in the business world. If you’re only approaching a business idol because you hope to gain something (like an extra investor in your startup), you likely won’t have success. Instead, find ways that you can contribute value.

As leadership consultant Randy Hain explains, “‘What can I do to help you?’ is absolutely one of the best ways to get business relationships off to a great start. Invest in the other person first, with no expectation of return. Do not keep score. Simply make the investment and over time you will benefit from the seeds of generosity you have planted.”

“Networking is the No. 1 unwritten rule of success in business.” – Sallie Krawcheck

6. Focus On the Long-Term

The aforementioned tactics aren’t “one and done” tips. Instead, you’ll need to continually practice them to show your genuine interest and build the kinds of friendships that can pay lasting dividends for everyone involved.

Relationships aren’t a short-term investment — and this is especially true if you want help on your own road to success. Real relationships need time to grow. They need continual nurturing. With a patient, long-term approach, you’ll be less tempted to jump right into a sales pitch and more likely to focus on a genuine friendship that delivers a real payoff.

Becoming an entrepreneur may put you in the role of the underdog — but this doesn’t mean you have to go at it alone. As you form genuine relationships with influencers and other business professionals, you’ll gain access to new sources of knowledge.

You’ll find friends who are willing to help or mentors willing to share their time. You may even find a new business partner. Relationship-building is a lifelong endeavor, but it will always pay off in the end.

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Stop Denying Your Negative Thoughts and Start Embracing Them

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negative thoughts
Image Credit: Twenty20.com

Over the years, many of the talking heads and pundits in the personal development and success science industry have talked about the immediate replacement of negative thoughts with positive thoughts. The logic behind that particular behavioral strategy seems to make sense on the surface. Think about it, when a negative thought rears its ugly head, we should immediately dive into the repository of positive thoughts that we have available to us so that we could immediately begin to dwell on it.

Even further, some gurus of the genre suggest removing any chance of having a negative thought by the constant repetition of affirmations. Again, tried-and-true motivational technology that is very workable and still useful. I would suggest, however, that you view the above behaviors as tactics more than strategies.

I will further suggest to you that you do not abhor your negative thoughts but rather embrace them, examine them, and place them under a spotlight. My reasoning behind this goes back over 100 years into psychology with stimulus/response, that is, the cause and effect of certain behaviors. Many individuals look at a negative thought as a causative driver. The negative thought exists as a cause, and our behavior toward that cause will determine the effect.

So, following this logic, if an individual has a negative thought which makes them feel sad, and that sadness causes them to binge drink, by removing the negative thought you’ll have removed the motivation for binge drinking. Doesn’t that sound kind of silly? The suggestion here is to turn off the negative thought so that it will turn off the consumption of alcohol.

Of course, this makes sense if we view the negative thought as a primal force in behavior. So, what if we started to think of the negative thought more as the result of something else? It means that the “something else” must change first. What if we took a different approach? What if we looked at a negative thought as an effect of some larger causal factor?

“You’re going to go through tough times – that’s life. But I say, ‘Nothing happens to you, it happens for you.’ See the positive in negative events.” – Joel Osteen

By reversing the cause-and-effect motion of negative thinking (saying that the negative thought is an effect), we now can ask a deeper, more penetrative question: Why are we thinking that negative thought? What is the underlying cause of that specific train of thinking? By reversing the cause-and-effect relationship of negative thinking, it allows the negative thinker to assume the role of diagnostician!

Below is a three-step process you can use to examine your negative thoughts, the role of it in your life, and how you can get rid of them:

1. Simply acknowledge the negative thought

Recognize the fact that there’s a negative thought in your mind instead of trying to go through a process of emotionally overlaying positive thoughts on top of it. Can you see how this exacerbates the issue? You have a negative thought, you immediately recognize that it must be changed, and you frantically scurry through the museum of your mind to find a positive thought to replace it.

In the meantime, while you are trying to find that positive thought, you’re feeling anxious, nervous, and guilty! When you finally find a positive thought to replace that negative thought, the normal process is to squash it. But you can’t! It’s like trying to get rid of weeds by covering them with rocks.

They will always find another way around the rock. It is the same with negative thoughts. Consequently, try acknowledging the negative thought.

2. Affirm the negative thought

It is a part of you. Instead of denying its existence, accept that it is there in front of you and that you are now willing to deal with it. If any of you reading this are dog lovers, you will know that the best way to get a dog next to you is by attempting to push it away from you. Every time you push the dog away it gets closer. This is the same with negative thinking because the harder you push the closer it gets.

“Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.” – Michael Jordan

3. Acquit the thought

Give it permission to leave you. Thank it for its past importance in your life and allow it to be on its way! At this point feel free to replace the negative thought with a positive thought. What will begin to happen when you place the negative thought under the spotlight is that you will see how insignificantly small it actually is.

This is a process I’ve been using for quite some time, and it works! Oh sure, I still use affirmations on a daily basis; as a matter fact I have them right here in front of me. I find that affirmations are a tremendous way to stay positive because it doesn’t allow any room for bad things to grow. But since the average person thinks 60,000 to 65,000 thoughts per day, let’s face it, a few negative thoughts have to squeak in there!

The best advice that I can give is to not freak out over a negative thought. Acknowledge it, affirm it, and acquit it! This is magic. Watch what happens!

How do you handle negative thoughts? Let us know your tips below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Success Advice

One Thing I Can Teach You About Life That Will Help You Forever.

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Image Credit: Unsplash

I used to be a very anxious person.

I was embarrassed by what I couldn’t do and every day was a struggle. From the moment I would wake up to the moment I’d go to bed, everything felt impossibly overwhelming. It’s a battle I’ve dealt with most of my life.

This daily struggle with mental illness taught me that the satisfaction didn’t lie in beating it; the satisfaction was in helping other people beat mental illness through my success in fighting it.


Recently, I was at work. It was a pretty standard day — nothing too exciting. I then had a catch up with one of the leaders I worked with.

She said something that got my attention: “One of our colleagues is battling a mental illness.”

I really wanted to help. My eyes lit up. There was no need to uncover my plan with anyone else. I knew that staying discrete was fundamental.

I approached the person in question and asked for a few minutes of their time.

I didn’t ask them to admit their mental illness struggle; I just shared my story.

I talked about the anxiety stopping me from having a normal life, eating the right foods, going on dates with girls, having the career I wanted and traveling the world.

I wasn’t sure if any of it was sinking in or even helping. I felt compelled to go on. One thing I knew was that he was paying attention. I could see it in his eyes.

I then went on to talk about how I beat mental illness. Strategies such as:

  • Creating fear lists
  • Seeking professional help
  • Working on myself
  • Books I read
  • Events I attended

Out of nowhere, he started opening up about his own struggle. I was shocked.
It wasn’t pretty. He had an extreme case of mental illness that I certainly couldn’t diagnose or give professional advice on.

All I could do was show him through my own story that there was hope

I offered him access to all the resources I had. I told him that he had my full support and I’d be happy to help in any way I could. He then said:

“What was your psychologist’s name?”

I told him I’d look it up and send it to him. I didn’t have the answer in front of me, but I was determined when I got home to find it.

At the end of the catch-up, he smiled. I don’t think he’d smiled like that in a very long time.

That smile gave me so much satisfaction. It made my own struggle with mental illness worth it. All those sleepless nights, times spent vomiting into the toilet and dark days where I didn’t want to go on made sense.


“It took more than seven years for me to understand that my own battle with mental illness actually had a benefit”

That benefit was the satisfaction in seeing someone beat their mental illness because I was able to defeat mine.

It’s probably the greatest satisfaction of my entire life.

That’s one thing I can teach you about life that will help you forever.

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Success is for the Self-Taught

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self education
Image Credit: Unsplash

Truman Capote, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Jobs, Nikola Tesla. Those are four names you never thought you’d see in a sentence together. As it happens, these four individuals have more in common than their success, ingenuity, and fame. They were all autodidacts. In other words, they were self-taught learners. (more…)

Ellie Batchiyska is a writer for Every USB, helping business and entrepreneurs with their branding through the use of custom flash drives.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Gaurav

    Apr 8, 2016 at 6:29 am

    Point No 1, I completely agree and realize it. Great Article. Thanks.

  2. Evan

    Mar 21, 2016 at 11:04 am

    Josh,

    Awesome article and there are a few great takeaways that are relevant to my life right now! The 5pm tip seems EXTREMELY counterintuitive, thinking you can always get more done by working more. Not true. Excellent tip, and when I focused on my 20% that got me 80% I also saw jumps in productivity.

    The exercise part is extremely important as well, and I am going to close the laptop now and head to the gym 🙂

    Keep up the awesome work!

    – Evan

  3. Clovissia TOUVENT

    Jan 6, 2016 at 9:43 am

    Thank you for this great article.
    I put exercise on top of my daily rules and it’s very efficient. It really helps me make good decisions with the right state of mind.
    The reward is success.
    I wish you a wonderful new year

  4. Vikash Sharma

    Jan 4, 2016 at 6:26 pm

    Hi Josh,

    An awesome article.

    I am completely agree with all your points, especially with “Work less”. when we work excessively, our mind stop getting new ideas and we make very poor decisions. you should learn how to prioritize our time and you will find amazing results

    Overall a great article and thanks for sharing

    Thanks,
    Vikash Sharma

  5. Addicted 2 The Grind

    Jan 4, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    Great Article.
    Intersting perspective on #1 . I feel that if you learn to prioritize important task you can work long hours and still see great result.

    Everyone has the own way and style of getting the result they want or need.

Leave a Reply

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

Success Advice

Success is for the Self-Taught

Published

on

self education
Image Credit: Unsplash

Truman Capote, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Jobs, Nikola Tesla. Those are four names you never thought you’d see in a sentence together. As it happens, these four individuals have more in common than their success, ingenuity, and fame. They were all autodidacts. In other words, they were self-taught learners.

The talents and innovations that skyrocketed them to fame were the products of their own teachings. Make no mistake, this doesn’t mean a formal education is a waste of time. However, it goes to show that success is crafted solely by commitment and focus. While college and traineeships can prepare us for the groundwork of what we pursue, it’s ultimately up to us as individuals to teach ourselves how to refine our knowledge for success.

It’s the self-taught principles that allow us to distinguish our own work from that of others. With the help of the internet, self-taught success is more possible than ever. And there are plenty of ways to reach our inner autodidact.

Elon Musk had science degrees from top Ivy League universities, but he still credits most of his knowledge to the textbooks he allegedly “committed to memory.” Reading is just one way to teach yourself everything you need to know. Aspiring inventors can surely learn a lot by sacrificing some of their leisure time to sit down with a textbook.

For writers and artists, the best study is to just read. Read anything. Inspiration can be derived from poetry, works of fiction, etc. These also help you develop your writing skills, which is an important asset for any aspiring entrepreneur.

“Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.” – Isaac Asimov

With the help of online Master Classes, Youtube videos, and apps – where online courses developed by some of the top U.S. educational institutions can be accessed remotely – self-taught success is more attainable than ever.

What’s more, we learn through practice. We can publish our own eBooks through Amazon without the publishing house bureaucracy. We can advertise our product, brand, or service through social media savvy without astronomical advertising costs. And as we practice, we learn. We gain feedback from our followers, learn from our mistakes, and do it better the second time around.

Even when you’re teaching yourself, others are always helping. However, you get to decide which lessons are most constructive, and you get to apply them to the real world in real-time.

The Science of Self-Taught

People have a tendency to romanticize the concept of self-taught success. It’s not a solution for laziness, or an excuse for lack of motivation. In many cases, teaching yourself is more work than being taught. The level of accountability rises when you are both teacher and student. Furthermore, it requires more discipline. Without a structured schedule or a guaranteed reward at the end of your efforts, your only hope is your dedication.

Beyond this, however, the only thing stopping most people from teaching themselves is insecurity. Fear of failure and inadequacy halts self-taught learners in their tracks. Especially because with self-teaching, inevitably, comes occasional failure. Unfortunately, the self-taught often feel they have nobody to blame the failure on but themselves – no teachers, mentors, or trainers as scapegoats.

According to Psychology Today, there is nothing that makes certain people better self-taught learners than others. The only difference is motivation, and willingness to overcome that lingering insecurity. Even the concept of “learning styles” is erroneous, says Psychology Today. While each individual is different, ability to learn is not based on preference, but expertise.

Beginners learn better from examples, while experts learn better by solving problems. This builds yet another case for autodidacts, who are more likely to learn by experience – the most effective method.

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but a lifelong attempt to acquire it.” – Albert Einstein

The Rewards of Being Self-Taught

The fruits of your labor taste sweeter when you’ve taught yourself how to grow them. As such, success is more enjoyable when your self-education has contributed to it. All successful individuals have something in common: they’ve taken the initiative to teach themselves new things, or to supplement their formal education with self-teaching, as well.

Therefore, not all groundbreaking inventors, artists, and philosophers are solely self-taught. However, they’ve still accompanied their college training with their own individual quest for knowledge.

There is a simple reason why autodidacts thrive the most: because they’re always learning. The one mistake people who solely rely on formal education and training make is the mistake of stopping their learning process altogether once it’s over. Not only does this prevent you from being up-to-date on the latest concepts and advancements in your field, but it obstructs your brain’s thirst for mental stimulation.

By constantly learning and teaching ourselves new things, no matter how small or large they might be, we could change the course of our overall health and well-being. Research even shows that mental stimulation (consisting of practicing memorization, learning new things, and improving our skill in existing hobbies) is key to slowing down the development of, and possibly even reversing, Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Motivational speaker and entrepreneur Jim Rohn was noted for saying, “Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” This does not mean you should abandon the pursuit of formal education, as it often serves as the foundation for self-education. But, it does mean we should maintain, cater to, and quench our thirst for knowledge as much as we possibly can.

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Success Advice

6 Expert Tips for Building Relationships With Those You Idolize

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Many of us dream of one day meeting a celebrity. Be it a movie star or a pro football player, we have a tendency to idolize these individuals, even looking to them for guidance as we make life decisions. In business, we can also find people we idolize. Individuals who have achieved great success with their own company or even revolutionized an industry.

From these people, we can learn key skills, gain valuable insights or even form partnerships to take our own business ventures to the next level. Yes, it is possible to form real relationships with your business idols or industry influencers. But like any other relationship, it requires work.

Here’s 6 ways you can start forming the relationships that will make a lasting difference for your entrepreneurial goals:

1. Do Your Research

Facebook stalking may be creepy for normal relationships, but doing some online research is perfectly okay for business leaders and influencers. After all, most influencers are extremely active online, either through social media, their own website or guest blogging. This basic research gives you a chance to better understand your business idol.

What do they like or dislike? What are their opinions on current trends? What do they talk like? These simple bits of information will help you better know how to approach them and determine if a relationship could prove beneficial.

“The richest people in the world look for and build networks. Everyone else looks for work.” – Robert Kiyosaki

2. Comment Carefully

Your initial research also serves as your first chance for engagement with your business idol. By liking social media posts or leaving thoughtful comments on blog articles, you can make a positive first impression.

Of course, leaving quality comments is sometimes easier said than done. As Kevin Duncan of SmartBlogger explains, thoughtfully contributing to the discussion with personal experiences or meaningful questions are a great way to get the conversation started.

“When you share a personal insight, bloggers can more easily relate to you. You’re no longer just an unfamiliar name making a comment that could have been left by anyone …the more personal your insight, the more unique it will be. And the more unique your insight, the more memorable your comment will be and the more you’ll stand out.”

3. Group Participation

Business leaders and influencers won’t only be found on blogs. Many are also active participants in online industry groups. Whether on Facebook or LinkedIn, these groups allow industry professionals to discuss current trends, ask for advice, or share new opportunities.

If you wish to make a positive impression, you should seek out, join and actively participate in these online groups. Avoid the temptation to promote yourself or your business. Instead, engage in conversations much like you would with a quality blog comment. By sharing your unique experiences and insights, you’ll build a stronger reputation among your peers.

4. Face Time

Online discussions are a great place to start, but the best relationships typically require some face-to-face interaction. You make a much more lasting impression when you have an in-person conversation. Industry conventions or lectures are great places to connect with others in your field. When you show yourself as a living, breathing human being, rather than just a name behind the computer, it becomes so much easier to make a personal connection and form a real, lasting relationship — and that can pay big dividends for future pitches.

Setting up a face-to-face meeting can be tricky. After all, you don’t want to come off as creepy. However, if you’ve already established an online rapport, asking if an influencer would like to briefly meet in person at an event you’re both attending shouldn’t be a problem.

5. Add Value

All relationships have a bit of give and take — and this is especially true when forming relationships in the business world. If you’re only approaching a business idol because you hope to gain something (like an extra investor in your startup), you likely won’t have success. Instead, find ways that you can contribute value.

As leadership consultant Randy Hain explains, “‘What can I do to help you?’ is absolutely one of the best ways to get business relationships off to a great start. Invest in the other person first, with no expectation of return. Do not keep score. Simply make the investment and over time you will benefit from the seeds of generosity you have planted.”

“Networking is the No. 1 unwritten rule of success in business.” – Sallie Krawcheck

6. Focus On the Long-Term

The aforementioned tactics aren’t “one and done” tips. Instead, you’ll need to continually practice them to show your genuine interest and build the kinds of friendships that can pay lasting dividends for everyone involved.

Relationships aren’t a short-term investment — and this is especially true if you want help on your own road to success. Real relationships need time to grow. They need continual nurturing. With a patient, long-term approach, you’ll be less tempted to jump right into a sales pitch and more likely to focus on a genuine friendship that delivers a real payoff.

Becoming an entrepreneur may put you in the role of the underdog — but this doesn’t mean you have to go at it alone. As you form genuine relationships with influencers and other business professionals, you’ll gain access to new sources of knowledge.

You’ll find friends who are willing to help or mentors willing to share their time. You may even find a new business partner. Relationship-building is a lifelong endeavor, but it will always pay off in the end.

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Stop Denying Your Negative Thoughts and Start Embracing Them

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Over the years, many of the talking heads and pundits in the personal development and success science industry have talked about the immediate replacement of negative thoughts with positive thoughts. The logic behind that particular behavioral strategy seems to make sense on the surface. Think about it, when a negative thought rears its ugly head, we should immediately dive into the repository of positive thoughts that we have available to us so that we could immediately begin to dwell on it.

Even further, some gurus of the genre suggest removing any chance of having a negative thought by the constant repetition of affirmations. Again, tried-and-true motivational technology that is very workable and still useful. I would suggest, however, that you view the above behaviors as tactics more than strategies.

I will further suggest to you that you do not abhor your negative thoughts but rather embrace them, examine them, and place them under a spotlight. My reasoning behind this goes back over 100 years into psychology with stimulus/response, that is, the cause and effect of certain behaviors. Many individuals look at a negative thought as a causative driver. The negative thought exists as a cause, and our behavior toward that cause will determine the effect.

So, following this logic, if an individual has a negative thought which makes them feel sad, and that sadness causes them to binge drink, by removing the negative thought you’ll have removed the motivation for binge drinking. Doesn’t that sound kind of silly? The suggestion here is to turn off the negative thought so that it will turn off the consumption of alcohol.

Of course, this makes sense if we view the negative thought as a primal force in behavior. So, what if we started to think of the negative thought more as the result of something else? It means that the “something else” must change first. What if we took a different approach? What if we looked at a negative thought as an effect of some larger causal factor?

“You’re going to go through tough times – that’s life. But I say, ‘Nothing happens to you, it happens for you.’ See the positive in negative events.” – Joel Osteen

By reversing the cause-and-effect motion of negative thinking (saying that the negative thought is an effect), we now can ask a deeper, more penetrative question: Why are we thinking that negative thought? What is the underlying cause of that specific train of thinking? By reversing the cause-and-effect relationship of negative thinking, it allows the negative thinker to assume the role of diagnostician!

Below is a three-step process you can use to examine your negative thoughts, the role of it in your life, and how you can get rid of them:

1. Simply acknowledge the negative thought

Recognize the fact that there’s a negative thought in your mind instead of trying to go through a process of emotionally overlaying positive thoughts on top of it. Can you see how this exacerbates the issue? You have a negative thought, you immediately recognize that it must be changed, and you frantically scurry through the museum of your mind to find a positive thought to replace it.

In the meantime, while you are trying to find that positive thought, you’re feeling anxious, nervous, and guilty! When you finally find a positive thought to replace that negative thought, the normal process is to squash it. But you can’t! It’s like trying to get rid of weeds by covering them with rocks.

They will always find another way around the rock. It is the same with negative thoughts. Consequently, try acknowledging the negative thought.

2. Affirm the negative thought

It is a part of you. Instead of denying its existence, accept that it is there in front of you and that you are now willing to deal with it. If any of you reading this are dog lovers, you will know that the best way to get a dog next to you is by attempting to push it away from you. Every time you push the dog away it gets closer. This is the same with negative thinking because the harder you push the closer it gets.

“Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.” – Michael Jordan

3. Acquit the thought

Give it permission to leave you. Thank it for its past importance in your life and allow it to be on its way! At this point feel free to replace the negative thought with a positive thought. What will begin to happen when you place the negative thought under the spotlight is that you will see how insignificantly small it actually is.

This is a process I’ve been using for quite some time, and it works! Oh sure, I still use affirmations on a daily basis; as a matter fact I have them right here in front of me. I find that affirmations are a tremendous way to stay positive because it doesn’t allow any room for bad things to grow. But since the average person thinks 60,000 to 65,000 thoughts per day, let’s face it, a few negative thoughts have to squeak in there!

The best advice that I can give is to not freak out over a negative thought. Acknowledge it, affirm it, and acquit it! This is magic. Watch what happens!

How do you handle negative thoughts? Let us know your tips below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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One Thing I Can Teach You About Life That Will Help You Forever.

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I used to be a very anxious person.

I was embarrassed by what I couldn’t do and every day was a struggle. From the moment I would wake up to the moment I’d go to bed, everything felt impossibly overwhelming. It’s a battle I’ve dealt with most of my life.

This daily struggle with mental illness taught me that the satisfaction didn’t lie in beating it; the satisfaction was in helping other people beat mental illness through my success in fighting it.


Recently, I was at work. It was a pretty standard day — nothing too exciting. I then had a catch up with one of the leaders I worked with.

She said something that got my attention: “One of our colleagues is battling a mental illness.”

I really wanted to help. My eyes lit up. There was no need to uncover my plan with anyone else. I knew that staying discrete was fundamental.

I approached the person in question and asked for a few minutes of their time.

I didn’t ask them to admit their mental illness struggle; I just shared my story.

I talked about the anxiety stopping me from having a normal life, eating the right foods, going on dates with girls, having the career I wanted and traveling the world.

I wasn’t sure if any of it was sinking in or even helping. I felt compelled to go on. One thing I knew was that he was paying attention. I could see it in his eyes.

I then went on to talk about how I beat mental illness. Strategies such as:

  • Creating fear lists
  • Seeking professional help
  • Working on myself
  • Books I read
  • Events I attended

Out of nowhere, he started opening up about his own struggle. I was shocked.
It wasn’t pretty. He had an extreme case of mental illness that I certainly couldn’t diagnose or give professional advice on.

All I could do was show him through my own story that there was hope

I offered him access to all the resources I had. I told him that he had my full support and I’d be happy to help in any way I could. He then said:

“What was your psychologist’s name?”

I told him I’d look it up and send it to him. I didn’t have the answer in front of me, but I was determined when I got home to find it.

At the end of the catch-up, he smiled. I don’t think he’d smiled like that in a very long time.

That smile gave me so much satisfaction. It made my own struggle with mental illness worth it. All those sleepless nights, times spent vomiting into the toilet and dark days where I didn’t want to go on made sense.


“It took more than seven years for me to understand that my own battle with mental illness actually had a benefit”

That benefit was the satisfaction in seeing someone beat their mental illness because I was able to defeat mine.

It’s probably the greatest satisfaction of my entire life.

That’s one thing I can teach you about life that will help you forever.

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