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Do You Have To Be Ruthless To Be Unbelievably Successful?

Joel Brown (Founder of Addicted2Success.com)

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Be Successful Donald Trump Richard Branson

I had  a discussion a couple of weeks ago with a group of friends, where the question of “Do you have to be ruthless to be successful?” was raised.

Just before writing this article I personally believed that you don’t have to be ruthless at all, but you may have to step over or around some people along the way to get to your end goal. It just depends on what you do in the process to get there. I also thought about it a little deeper and began to think, well, what does it really mean to be ruthless? And do successful people who have faced the battles and adversities in the business world see this definition in a different light?

Let’s check it out…..

The definition of Ruthless is:

ruth·less
ˈro͞oTHləs/
adjective
  1. Having or showing no pity or compassion for others.

Some synonyms of ruthless are “cold-hearted”, “merciless”, “pitiless” or “manipulator”. Do successful people look at manipulation differently to those who are unsuccessful?

In a survey run by “Business Brilliant” author Lewis Schiff, 9 out of 10 self-made millionaires agreed that “it’s important in negotiations to exploit the weaknesses in others.” Only 1 in 4 middle-class people took the same view.

What about being taken advantage of?

1 in 3 middle-class people agreed that “in negotiations, I expect people to try and take advantage of me.” 2 out of 3 self-made millionaires, on the other hand, expect others to try taking advantage.

This extends to their behavior, too. Half of the middle-class people in one survey agreed that “when making business decisions, it’s important to consider how the other side will view me.” On the other hand, only 2 in 10 self-made millionaires agreed with the same proposition.

Now, here’s the interesting thing. This same survey also broke down respondents by how rich they were. After all, there’s a difference multimillionaires and simple millionaires in their bank accounts — and it also looks like there’s a difference in their thinking.

97 percent of self-made multimillionaires believe that “in business dealings, it’s not my responsibility to ‘look out’ for the other person’s interest.” On the other hand, only 85 percent of self-made millionaires agree… and among the middle class? A mere 25 percent.

Now, we could go on and on with this. Questions about Machiavellianism, gaining advantages over others, and the like all produced similar results. This does not, however, mean that successful people are actively out to screw others. They understand better than anyone that reciprocation and sticking to their word is key to building trust and long-term relationships — the most profitable kind, after all.

Still, it is possible to be successful without being ruthless. After all, even among multimillionaires, there were a few percent (very few) who did not agree with ruthlessness in business dealings. Looking at some well-known examples, we can see there’s clearly a range of personalities at work. The degree to which ruthlessness is necessary for success varies.

Donald Trump Ruthless To Be SuccessfulBusinessmen like Donald Trump occupy one side of the scale. They make careers — and images — out of their ruthlessness. “Be brutal,” Trump has said:

“Be tough, and just go get them.”

Why is this? For one thing, real estate is a notoriously ruthless business. There is a finite supply of valuable land. Indeed, the limited supply of land is what allows men like Trump to make their millions. With the “you must lose for me to win” aspect so clearly visible, it’s no surprise that a Trump attitude rises to the top.

 

Richard Branson smile to be successful entrepreneurThen we have the Richard Branson’s of the world. In a column for Entrepreneur Magazine titled “Nice Guys Can Finish First,” Branson explains he finds it counterproductive to be ruthless. When people feel they’ve done well dealing with you, they tend to come back, and give you more business later.

Sure, some people have observed that even Branson has a ruthless streak, which he chalks up to having to make “tough calls.” But just as important is a look at what Branson does — his Virgin empire is highly innovative, and customer service- and image-oriented. Branson makes his money by creating a positive atmosphere where creativity thrives… a far cry from Trump’s land deals.

 

But…. there is one thing to keep in mind..

Even when looking at ‘nice guys‘ like Branson. While Branson is less aggressive at the negotiating table, he’s still competitive, and highly determined. Where he ‘looks out’ for the other person’s interest, he’s still doing it to help himself. He wants the other person to come back and do business again in the future.

Therefore, rather than saying you have to be ruthless to be successful, it might be more accurate to say you have to be energetic and extremely determined. Unless you’re in real estate, it seems like the ruthlessness (which is indeed a very common component of success) isn’t about aggression or ‘screwing over’ the other guy. Rather, it’s a by-product of going after your business goals with single-minded determination.

People who are ruthless for the sake of being ruthless tend to leave behind a trail of burned bridges, and sometimes end up in court (or even in prison). Both Trump and Branson have survived dozens, probably hundreds of lawsuits against them.

On the other hand, there are plenty of successful people who make the “tough calls” without necessarily hurting others. That’s what Netflix Chief Talent Officer Patty McCord did when she fired a third of the company’s 120 employees so the company could keep going — yet she still hears from many of them, and considers them good friends.

What is your opinion on being ruthless to get to the top? Please share your views in the comment section below.

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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16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Georgy

    Oct 28, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    The main concern for me would be how others would feel after doing business with me. I wouldn’t want to burn bridges that could be needed at a point in the future.
    However, the need to make tough decisions come into play and i believe it can be done graciously without making enemies.
    People can be ruthless and when it comes to a point where push comes to shove ; its important to hold your ground and see that a fair deal is made. i would pick the Branson Style anyday

  2. Mark

    Feb 18, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    I Once had a competitor who initially appoached me as an ally but later u turned, renaged on our agreement and tried to steal my customers, But I did not get angry or try to retalliate, My business was built on trust and customer loyalty and I was confident I could just keep serving my customers the way I always had and they would stick with me, He closed a couple of months later, My business is still thriving and that was 10 years ago. Branson style honesty and customer service is the way forward for many business sectors. + the money you m,ake you can take home with your head held high!!

  3. Enzo

    Aug 25, 2014 at 7:09 am

    It really comes down to whether, metaphorically, you would break someone’s arm to make money. Or have someone do it for you. I have no doubt that greed is the worst sin one can commit.

  4. Rohan

    Jul 2, 2014 at 1:16 am

    I think being ruthless means that you don’t care about the other people not that you want to hurt them.

  5. Everyday Power

    Apr 28, 2014 at 9:20 am

    I don’t believe you have to be a jerk to be tremendously successful. However, I do believe that you have to be focused, determined and have conviction. At times, that can be taken as being a jerk; but it’s very different than intentionally trying to harm someone emotionally, physically or financially.

  6. ed

    Apr 25, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    it also depends with ones temperaments you wont just do things simply because it calls for it or rather because someone had his/her way thorough such means, the inner being dictates a lot wit respect to whats outside

  7. Naomi@business start ups

    Mar 31, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Hi Joel,

    I am a bit of both ‘Trump’ and ‘Branson’. I think you need to know when to allow which personality trait over rule the other during different situations.

    But personally the ‘Trump’ way is so common. ‘Branson’ illustrates a new type of business man which more people can relate and respect.

    A lot people think if they can’t become a ruthless, bridge burning, step over anyone kind of business person then you won’t be a success.

    Branson proves different

    Thanks Naomi

  8. Thomas K.

    Mar 25, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    My boss can sometimes be one of these types of people. However, his bark is worse than his bite. I think it does take some bit of ruthlessness to obtain the best possible outcome. In my opinion, it is the art of knowing how much to push and when to not be so stringent.

  9. Jason White

    Mar 25, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    I’m driven, passionate, and believe I related to the “millionaires” viewpoints expressed in the survey, however feel that Branson’s philosophy of doing business resonates with me more-so than Trumps. Well I just recently accepted a position in Denver to make a career change to Commercial Real Estate. According to this article, I just might not have what it takes to make it! Here’s to hoping the good-to-great qualities prevail!!

  10. Troy in Las Vegas

    Mar 25, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    I was trying to think of other highly successful people and all the thoughts, well almost all, where people I would not want to hang out with because they just seem like A-Holes which, to me, goes hand in hand with being ruthless. Marc Cuban. Robert Irvine. That guy married to the Kardasian girl. Murdoch. Wynn
    There are the exceptions… Bono, Branson, Tony Robbins. These are the people we should strive be be like.

  11. Rafael Aziz

    Mar 25, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    Its a tough world out there, Your surrounded by others who will take from you without thinking twice. So you must be able to do the same. But never hurt anyone who doesn’t deserve it. But also that doesn’t mean not to wipe out your competition.

  12. Mathyou

    Mar 25, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    A quote from my favorite movie, A Bronx Tale: “At the end of the day, nobody cares.” It is not comforting, but it’s true. When all is said and done, everybody is going to do something to help themselves out, instead of helping you, if they have the choice.

    So be ruthless. It may sound rude and uncaring but in business there are not many real friends, all that matters is money so if you are in position to better yourself or someone else, choose to better yourself because that is what the guy next to you would do.

    I don’t believe “good guys finish last”, “bad guys finish first”, or vice versa. I believe “the ruthless guy finishes first.”

  13. carol thornton

    Mar 25, 2014 at 10:19 am

    I am of the Branson line. Sometimes ruthlessness is required, but the way one portrays it is important. I want people to come back to me so I am going to be careful in how I use it and how often. If I can get what I want by others means, I will do that first.

  14. Nikola Gjakovski

    Mar 25, 2014 at 9:41 am

    Well, being ruthless can lead you somewhere. I think as soon as there is truth in the agreement (no aside mambo jumbo) there can be ruthlessness included. We are all selfish and we need to be ruthless sometimes. However, it has no clear formula of (how to be a millionaire), but to execute our vision, one way or another.

  15. sian

    Mar 25, 2014 at 5:05 am

    If one were to propose that being ruthless has no place in the pursuit of success and continued growth, then such belief would reciprocate a belief that the sun does not illuminate the moon. Totally fallacious. Moreover at times we have to be ruthless even with ourselves, pushing ourselves to go the extra mile to make the inches count. So being ruthless in my view is a must; nonetheless it has its place.

  16. lordvito9

    Mar 24, 2014 at 9:22 am

    I personally you must walk the line carefully. Give to much you will have nothing,too soft you will be ripped apart. But too harsh there is no trust,and how long can that last?

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Success Advice

Success is for the Self-Taught

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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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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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Success Advice

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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Success Advice

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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Success Advice

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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16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Georgy

    Oct 28, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    The main concern for me would be how others would feel after doing business with me. I wouldn’t want to burn bridges that could be needed at a point in the future.
    However, the need to make tough decisions come into play and i believe it can be done graciously without making enemies.
    People can be ruthless and when it comes to a point where push comes to shove ; its important to hold your ground and see that a fair deal is made. i would pick the Branson Style anyday

  2. Mark

    Feb 18, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    I Once had a competitor who initially appoached me as an ally but later u turned, renaged on our agreement and tried to steal my customers, But I did not get angry or try to retalliate, My business was built on trust and customer loyalty and I was confident I could just keep serving my customers the way I always had and they would stick with me, He closed a couple of months later, My business is still thriving and that was 10 years ago. Branson style honesty and customer service is the way forward for many business sectors. + the money you m,ake you can take home with your head held high!!

  3. Enzo

    Aug 25, 2014 at 7:09 am

    It really comes down to whether, metaphorically, you would break someone’s arm to make money. Or have someone do it for you. I have no doubt that greed is the worst sin one can commit.

  4. Rohan

    Jul 2, 2014 at 1:16 am

    I think being ruthless means that you don’t care about the other people not that you want to hurt them.

  5. Everyday Power

    Apr 28, 2014 at 9:20 am

    I don’t believe you have to be a jerk to be tremendously successful. However, I do believe that you have to be focused, determined and have conviction. At times, that can be taken as being a jerk; but it’s very different than intentionally trying to harm someone emotionally, physically or financially.

  6. ed

    Apr 25, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    it also depends with ones temperaments you wont just do things simply because it calls for it or rather because someone had his/her way thorough such means, the inner being dictates a lot wit respect to whats outside

  7. Naomi@business start ups

    Mar 31, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Hi Joel,

    I am a bit of both ‘Trump’ and ‘Branson’. I think you need to know when to allow which personality trait over rule the other during different situations.

    But personally the ‘Trump’ way is so common. ‘Branson’ illustrates a new type of business man which more people can relate and respect.

    A lot people think if they can’t become a ruthless, bridge burning, step over anyone kind of business person then you won’t be a success.

    Branson proves different

    Thanks Naomi

  8. Thomas K.

    Mar 25, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    My boss can sometimes be one of these types of people. However, his bark is worse than his bite. I think it does take some bit of ruthlessness to obtain the best possible outcome. In my opinion, it is the art of knowing how much to push and when to not be so stringent.

  9. Jason White

    Mar 25, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    I’m driven, passionate, and believe I related to the “millionaires” viewpoints expressed in the survey, however feel that Branson’s philosophy of doing business resonates with me more-so than Trumps. Well I just recently accepted a position in Denver to make a career change to Commercial Real Estate. According to this article, I just might not have what it takes to make it! Here’s to hoping the good-to-great qualities prevail!!

  10. Troy in Las Vegas

    Mar 25, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    I was trying to think of other highly successful people and all the thoughts, well almost all, where people I would not want to hang out with because they just seem like A-Holes which, to me, goes hand in hand with being ruthless. Marc Cuban. Robert Irvine. That guy married to the Kardasian girl. Murdoch. Wynn
    There are the exceptions… Bono, Branson, Tony Robbins. These are the people we should strive be be like.

  11. Rafael Aziz

    Mar 25, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    Its a tough world out there, Your surrounded by others who will take from you without thinking twice. So you must be able to do the same. But never hurt anyone who doesn’t deserve it. But also that doesn’t mean not to wipe out your competition.

  12. Mathyou

    Mar 25, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    A quote from my favorite movie, A Bronx Tale: “At the end of the day, nobody cares.” It is not comforting, but it’s true. When all is said and done, everybody is going to do something to help themselves out, instead of helping you, if they have the choice.

    So be ruthless. It may sound rude and uncaring but in business there are not many real friends, all that matters is money so if you are in position to better yourself or someone else, choose to better yourself because that is what the guy next to you would do.

    I don’t believe “good guys finish last”, “bad guys finish first”, or vice versa. I believe “the ruthless guy finishes first.”

  13. carol thornton

    Mar 25, 2014 at 10:19 am

    I am of the Branson line. Sometimes ruthlessness is required, but the way one portrays it is important. I want people to come back to me so I am going to be careful in how I use it and how often. If I can get what I want by others means, I will do that first.

  14. Nikola Gjakovski

    Mar 25, 2014 at 9:41 am

    Well, being ruthless can lead you somewhere. I think as soon as there is truth in the agreement (no aside mambo jumbo) there can be ruthlessness included. We are all selfish and we need to be ruthless sometimes. However, it has no clear formula of (how to be a millionaire), but to execute our vision, one way or another.

  15. sian

    Mar 25, 2014 at 5:05 am

    If one were to propose that being ruthless has no place in the pursuit of success and continued growth, then such belief would reciprocate a belief that the sun does not illuminate the moon. Totally fallacious. Moreover at times we have to be ruthless even with ourselves, pushing ourselves to go the extra mile to make the inches count. So being ruthless in my view is a must; nonetheless it has its place.

  16. lordvito9

    Mar 24, 2014 at 9:22 am

    I personally you must walk the line carefully. Give to much you will have nothing,too soft you will be ripped apart. But too harsh there is no trust,and how long can that last?

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Success Advice

Success is for the Self-Taught

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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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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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Success Advice

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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Success Advice

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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