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Success Advice

Lisa Messenger’s 5 Tips For Running Your Day As An Entrepreneur

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We recently featured Lisa Messenger on Addicted2Success and after popular demand, I have decided to release part two of the interview. To recap, Lisa is most well known for her magazine The Collective that is now available in thirty-seven countries, three thousand five hundred newsagencies, all the Virgin, Qantas and Emirates lounge’s and in retailers such as Coles, Woolworths and Big W.

At one stage in her life, Lisa found herself living in a bubble because she had surrounded herself with so many inspirational people. Lisa’s basic human need of contribution kicked in, and she began to dream up how she could share these experiences that she learnt from influential people, with the rest of the world.

When she was at school, she was put into what was known as, “Veggie English,” which her peers considered to be the class for the dumbest of the dumbest in English. Like any great entrepreneurial story, Lisa took her perceived weakness at English and her need for contribution and launched The Collective Magazine against all the odds.

 

***Meeting Richard Branson***

In November 2014, Lisa was invited to go and spend time on Richard Branson’s private island on Necker. There is a lot of PR hype about Richard Branson in the media, but Lisa says in Richards’s case, he definitely stacks up to all of that and he was everything she thought he would be.

The best traits about Richard that she admired was he was humble, a great listener and even showed up on the day after the Virgin Galactic crash because he believes in keeping his commitments. Lisa said that Richard always believes in working away from his businesses and Lisa has a similar philosophy.

“When you’re not at the office, you empower your people to get on with it and when you are in the office you get in their way”

The Collective is now on the tables of all the rooms at Necker Island and Richard was kind enough to give a testimonial on the cover of Lisa’s latest book “Life & Love.”

Left: Richard Branson Right: Lisa Messenger

Left: Richard Branson Right: Lisa Messenger

Below are Lisa’s five tips for running your day as an entrepreneur, which have contributed, greatly to her own success and creation of a global media empire.

 

1. Spend time with influential people

One of the secrets to Lisa’s success is that she has spent time with influential people who are relevant to her business and this even included being able to sit in with the staff of the New York Times, page one editorial meeting twice.

Some of the influential people Lisa has met include Anna Wintour (the editor of Vogue Magazine), John Cleese, Martha Stuart and Charles Townsend (CEO of Condé Nast). The most important lesson Lisa learnt from meeting each of these extraordinary people is that they are just like you and me.

Lisa strongly believes that we are all equal and the only difference between extraordinary achievers and the average person is that they are prepared to back themselves, prepared to take risks, prepared to jump and learn to fly on the way down, and they have this insatiable, unwavering self-belief.

The more Lisa hangs out with influential people, the more she realises that they’re not this unattainable being from the moon that’s unapproachable, and they are actually quite normal. The other way Lisa spends time with influential people is through speaking gigs. One of the most valuable things you can get out of a speaking gig is to be able to meet the other speakers and stick around to listen to their speeches.

Left: Anna Wintour Right: Lisa Messenger

Left: Anna Wintour Right: Lisa Messenger

Whenever you’re not in the presence of influential people, you always need to be wary who you surround yourself with and what you tell people. One tip that Lisa gave is that it’s important to surround yourself with “yes people” and “no people”. If everyone that you surround yourself with build your ego up and tell you how great everything is, you could end up putting low-quality products and services out to the market.

I asked Lisa why it is that influential people want to contact her and setup meetings. She explained it to me like this: there are over 5500 print magazines in Australia alone. Some little punk (as Lisa likes to call herself) comes in with a team of three, no money, no idea what she is doing and consistently sits in the top ten print magazines within this market.

Influential people are realising that disrupters are important, and they want to find out how an earth people like Lisa pull off these mammoth triumphs. When Lisa did a speaking gig for the age-old brand Schweppes she told them that brands like theirs need to be careful because now any disruptor can come along, start a soft drink company with the power of collaboration and get in bed with like-minded, non-competing brands.

It’s worth mentioning though that these influential people don’t just want to hear Lisa’s story, they also want to do deals with her, and there are plenty of those happening so keep an eye out.

“When you really get to know what your purpose and your why is, absolutely anything becomes possible and the whole world opens up allowing really extraordinary things to happen. You have got to believe in yourself”

 

2. Insert some personal development into each day

Over the years, Lisa admits that she has done a lot of personal development, and she practices doing things to improve herself every single day. The wackiest and most profound personal development she ever did was to go to a cemetery and perform this exercise:

Step One: Find a gravestone,

Step Two: Lie down beside it

Step Three: Imagine what people would be saying about you if you were dead

This is one of the most sobering things Lisa has ever done, and when she was doing this, she imagined what people would be saying about her when she was in her old drinking days. The next step was for her to imagine what they would be saying about her now with this new life that she has created from nothing.

The result of this exercise for Lisa was that it helped her get on and get things done and not waste time. Try it for yourself! Do you want to be in your grave having not left your mark on the world?

 

3. Do the creative things outside of business hours

Lisa Messenger Dance Quote - Addicted2Success Interview With Tim DenningChatting to Lisa I began to understand how important her schedule has been to her running her day. She typically does creative tasks, like writing, when she is on holidays, out of the office or on planes. Being busy at the office is not necessarily productive for Lisa or for any entrepreneur.

Lisa’s everyday life as an entrepreneur involves her having to travel a lot, which she says gives her time to strategize and write. Travelling also allows her to immerse herself in something different and get new ideas that she can then bring back to her team.

If travelling is not something you have done a lot of Lisa recommends trying to travel somewhere you have never been, even if it’s only five suburbs away. Never underestimate the power of opportunity; if you’re open to it, there are opportunities everywhere.

The big visionary and strategic tasks, as well as meetings with potential partners, occur outside of the office. Many people think that you need to be in the office all the time but Lisa would be in the office around two days a week which allows her to be productive and execute on the big tasks that entrepreneurs are expected to undertake on a day to day basis.

 

 

4. Find out what’s holding you back

Ten and a half years ago Lisa gave up drinking because she thought that alcohol was not serving her in any way, holding her back, and it was not helping her to be the best version of herself. Find whatever it is that you are using as self-sabotage like certain relationships or unhealthy eating patterns and remove them from your life.

Fear of success can be more burdening than fear of failure for a lot of entrepreneurs. We often set ourselves up more to fail than we set ourselves up to succeed. For Lisa, it wasn’t just about giving up drinking it was about finding out what was holding her back and using personal development to improve her life.

She has done anything from living in raw food, vegan communes in Costa Rica to trekking across the Western Ghats of India. Lisa did everything she could and was willing to try anything to find out what was holding her back. This is what it takes if you want to be a successful entrepreneur like Lisa.

 

5. Take up some positive daily rituals

On a micro daily level Lisa has certain rituals that are non-negotiable such as a morning green juice (she calls this her Devil Wears Prada moment), exercising every day with a personal trainer or doing the Bondi to Bronte walk in Sydney.

Some of Lisa’s daily rituals are:

  •  Doing gardening on the rooftop office deck
  • Meditation – Lisa changes hers up regularly and calls it freestyling meditation
  • Walking meetings – Lisa negotiates deals by walking and talking with prospects rather than sitting down at the office every time
  • Reading – Lisa doesn’t usually read cover to cover and suggests dipping in and dipping out of different books

“As an entrepreneur you need to learn to be calm otherwise you will spend all your time in the clouds AHA-ing”

 

***Final Thought***

Lisa wanted to leave us with this final thought. Know that anything is possible and have unwavering self-belief. Do something where you can leave a legacy and make a real positive difference in the world. Surround yourself with an extraordinary team and don’t ever be afraid to fail fast. DISRUPT, have a go, there are no limits, and it’s only your own mindset that is holding you back.

Lisa’s Favourite Book Is – “The Motivation Manifesto”

Lisa’s Favourite Quote Is – “Anything is possible!”

If you would like to check out Lisa’s magazine or attend on of her events then visit The Collective to find out more.

 

Tim is best known as a long-time contributor on Addicted2Success. Tim's content has been shared millions of times and he has written multiple viral posts all around personal development and entrepreneurship. You can connect with Tim through his website www.timdenning.net

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Yaa Jecty

    Nov 11, 2015 at 10:44 am

    It’s amazing the amount of knowledge you get when you surround your self with the right people and books. The lessons and advice shared are priceless. Thank you for this great article. striving to be the best is the greatest achievement one can attain.

    • Tim Denning

      Dec 30, 2015 at 2:31 am

      Totally agree with you Yaa. Surrounding yourself with the right people is key.

  2. Lawrence Berry

    Aug 5, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    Really loved this article and the message that Lisa has brought to us. They say that you are the average of the 5 people that you hang around, and hanging around influential people will one day make you become an influential person as well. You learn what makes them tick and how they rise to create success in their life. This is important to becoming better and building upon your own self-development. You also need to positive daily rituals to begin strive for personal excellence in life and to remain calm and collected to increase your productivity.

    • Tim Denning

      Aug 7, 2015 at 10:00 am

      As always Lawrence, you’re on the money. The people closest to you have a big effect on your success. Just like if you put a few drops of arsenic into your coffee, it’s only takes a few toxic friends in your inner circle to bring you down.

Leave a Reply

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

Success Advice

Instead of Always Trying to Be Right, Do This Instead

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stop trying to be right
Image Credit: Twenty20.com

A colleague of mine was obnoxious, over eager, and completely out of line. Yet, all of this was overshadowed by the fact he was just plain wrong. If he were to go through with it, it would derail the company by at least 6 months. Yet, arguing with him when he was in this state was of no use. While hitting him over the head with the laptop seemed appealing for a second, it was probably not a great long-term strategy for the business or my laptop.

Galileo once said, “You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself.” This is especially true when it comes to emotionally charged matters and negotiations.

When you are right, you become attached to that idea. It’s so clear, how can they not see it? Yet, your meticulously clear logic might as well be written in braille as your focus intensifies on proving yourself right, instead of reaching an agreement.

Below are 3 ways you can step out of your emotions and help someone find the right answer when money and time are on the line:

1. Separate the Person From the Issue

Imagine if a four-year-old child was adamant about something. You wouldn’t try to reason logically for hours in such a case. When trying to speak through a person’s emotions, often you might have better luck with the four year old.

In order to break this barrier you must stop seeing them as the problem and see the issue at hand. Instead of seeing the other person as stupid or obnoxious, try viewing them as simply lost or misguided. The job now becomes not to prove them wrong, but to guide them to the truth. Adopting this mindset changes your entire approach as you get out of your own emotions and take control of the situation.

“Each of us guard a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside.” – Stephen Covey

2. Show Them A Mirror

Somewhere in between trying to hammer a point, both sides usually forget to listen. No matter the situation, you must make sure that person is never you. Instead, shift the focus from “me vs you” and make it completely about the other person. Really listen and validate their emotions, creating enough trust and safety to begin a real exchange. Make sure they feel heard and slow the conversation down. When you slow the process down, you also calm down.

Remember, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. About 93% of communication is nonverbal, thus maintaining your body language immediately provides an edge. A playful (not childlike or mocking) voice puts someone in a positive frame of mind, where they are more likely to collaborate and problem solve.

Always remember to repeat back the most important three words from their sentence and make them elaborate on whatever they said. The more a person is allowed to speak, the more they feel heard. The more they feel heard, the more open they are to receive new information.

3. Lead With Empathy, Not Sympathy

Taking the time to make sure the other side feels heard and understood does not mean you bend to their will. It does not mean you give up, agree, feel sorry for, or even compromise. Empathy is the ability to recognize another’s perspective and the vocalization of that recognition. This is the difference between empathy and sympathy.

When you can label a person’s emotions in an argument, you seize the chance to discover what is behind those feelings. As you begin to drill down, you gain leverage. This should be done very gracefully. Instead of saying, I think you’re angry and being stubborn, trying saying, It seems like you are feeling frustrated because you really care about this and wish it was moving along quicker.

“Sometimes all a person wants is an empathetic ear; all he or she needs is to talk it out. Just offering a listening ear and an understanding heart for his or her suffering can be a big comfort.” – Roy T. Bennett

Using labels, you mold their feelings into words, moving information from the emotional part of the brain to the rational. Whatever behavior a person may be presenting, there is always an underlying feeling triggering it. Your job is to make the person aware of that feeling. The faster you do this, the faster you eliminate the risk of a complete breakdown in communication.

After their emotions are labeled, asking how or why calibrated questions allow them to solve their problems for you. In order to do this effectively you don’t need to study every type of calibrated question there is, but rather adopt a specific mindset. You are not their opponent, but a guide, leading the lost to the truth. Your truth.

In my case, the presenting behavior of my colleague was an obnoxious know-it-all attitude. However, the underlying emotion was fear of falling behind. Once I was able to stop asking the question, “Why is he doing this to me?” and focus on looking deeper, the conversation took a turn. The conversation was no longer about my ideas versus his, but about him and his fear.

Instead of arguing with me, he spent the rest of the time, essentially, arguing with himself. After helping him dissect his fear in the rational part of the brain, he realized that many of the worst case scenarios were highly improbable and acting hasty might exacerbate things. Most importantly, at the end of the conversation, he said, “I think I made the right choice.”

He believed that the decision was entirely his. He never acknowledged the fact that I was right and announced to everyone the sudden spark of genius that hit him. Yet, at the end of the day you need to ask yourself what is more important to you; being right or doing whatever it takes to win.  

How do you handle conflict? Let us know your tips and advice in the comments below!

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Success Advice

What You Can Learn From My Ultimate “I Am Screwed” Moment.

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Image Credit: Unsplash / Gold Chain

When I was 16 years old, I had the ultimate “I am screwed moment.”

Everything from this point on happened in slow motion. What I’m about to describe probably happened in the space of thirty minutes but it felt like five hours.

I was walking down the street with my buddy one night, eating a paddle pop ice cream. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a group of about twenty teenagers running towards us, dressed in black.

I instantly knew that something was up and as they got closer, we both realized we were screwed and there was nowhere to run to.

Seconds later the gang of teenagers came straight towards us as fast as they could.

“I got lucky and copped a baseball bat to the head. My friend wasn’t so lucky. He was repeatedly stabbed by several different people and there was blood everywhere.”

As I saw what happened to my friend, I knew I’d be next. I was hit so many times with the baseball bat that I was numb from the pain. Everything started to go white.

Then I heard a faint voice. The voice was calling my name out.

I listened to what the young man was saying and realized he was saying that his little brother knew me. All of a sudden, he put out his hand, lifted me off the ground and told me to run in the other direction, or I’d end up like my friend.

I somehow managed to get on my feet and run, but I was not giving up on my friend. I ran around the back of the shopping center that we were standing outside of and entered the building. I ran to the first security guard I saw and told them I needed help.

In my search to get help, miraculously, my friend had made it into the shopping center and he was being treated by a number of bystanders for his massive knife wounds.

I went over and spoke to him. He was okay and things looked better than I expected. I had about sixty seconds of calmness. Then I looked to my left.

Through the glass doors, I could see the same gang of teenagers running into the shopping center. Everyone including the two security guards ran in opposite directions.

My friend with his multiple knife wounds also ran and there were bandages everywhere as he made a run for it (I’m not even sure how he was able to move).

This time I was the unlucky one. I ran into the part of the shopping center that was closed for the night and three of the youths followed me. I’d never been so afraid because I saw what they did to my friend.

I ended up in the shopping centers food court and I hid in the darkness. I tried to control my breathing, but it was hard to silence the fear inside of me. I still remember the white Nike pants I was wearing and the bright red Sean John jumper I had on (I later discarded them because of the memory they left).

Again, through some kind of miracle, the three boys did not see me. They ran off in another direction and I stayed under the table.

The pain of my wounds started to set in. I knew deep down I was safe and so the fight or flight response was turned off. All of a sudden, moving and walking felt very painful.

I could feel broken bits of teeth in my mouth.


The aftermath.

After some time had passed, I manage to reconnect with my friend. By that time there was an ambulance on the scene and he managed to get his knife wounds treated. He got lucky and no vital organs were affected.

The next day I went to school and people could see I had gone through one hell of an ordeal. One of my friends in the year level below, came and found me and explained to me that it was his older brother and friends that attacked me.

They had mistakenly thought that we had come from a party, because of the direction we came from, where he was beaten up. He told me that because they had recognized me, to some degree, I was spared.

The story doesn’t end here though (I wish it did). Even after the brutal event, one of the attackers was still upset with me. I didn’t know why and it made no sense. I had multiple times where he and his friends were waiting for me in certain places and I was told they would harm me.

Through a mutual friend, I was able to resolve the conflict and I found out that a few of them were close friends with a few of my friends. In the coming years, I got to know my attackers.

“They were not the horrible violent people I encountered on that night. They slowly changed their ways and one of them has gone on to do extraordinary kind acts all over the world.”


A revelation from this “I am screwed” moment.

After this horrible event had occurred, I tried to make sense of it. I was not a violent person in any way but in a way, I had created this path for myself.

During my teenage years, I let rap music and violence dominate my life. I thought they were both cool.

The revelation from all of this was that I knew I had to change my life. I knew that the path I was on had led me to this moment and only I could change things. The next time an attack like this happened, I may not be as lucky.

I gave up rap music, I changed my group of friends, I started a business with my brother, I quit smoking and I disengaged from anything that was violent. Looking back, an “I am screwed” moment can be extremely valuable. It’s during these difficult times that we learn about who we are and what we can do to change our lives.

I would never have become obsessed with legacy, giving back and personal development if I hadn’t had this life or death experience.

I’m now fully aware of my mortality and I’m never going to take another day for granted.

Everything can change in a split second for better or for worse. What you do in that moment is up to you.

Nothing happens randomly (even this attack). Everything happens for a reason and when you ensure you get the lesson from it, you can go on to do extraordinary things.

I’m typing these words and reaching millions of people with them, partly because of this “I am screwed” moment.


If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Success Advice

3 Things We Can Learn About Success From a 13 Year Old Girls School Project

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Dog Do or Dog Don’t
Image Credit: Aiden Horwitz

Success comes in all shapes and sizes. So, when I read about a 13 year old that was solving a major problem in the dog adoption industry, I was intrigued. It turns out that many families often choose the wrong dog for their family and end up giving them up to a shelter.

When a school project came up, this young girl decided she would try to tackle the problem. First, she created a survey that would help potential dog foster parents determine which dog would be a good fit for them. Then, she teamed up with a local shelter who gave her information on the dogs. Finally, she added the survey to a website she built called Dog Do or Dog Don’t. So far, it’s seen success in just a few months by pairing 5 dogs with the perfect home.

Here are 3 important points we can learn about success from this little girl’s innovation:

1. Focus on your why

No matter what we do in life, we need to know why we are doing it. This girl didn’t care about the end result of making money or getting attention from local news channels. She wanted to solve a problem and her why was clearly defined. “I wanted to come up with a way to help get dogs adopted or help people get the right dog for them and their family,” she says on her website. That was her why and it drove her to the success of what she eventually created.

When we have a goal in life, we need to focus on why we want to achieve it. It doesn’t matter if it’s being successful in business, raising our family or traveling the world, we need to clarify why. Without passion behind what we are doing, the dedication required to achieve success is hard to come by. Only when we focus on our why will we really be on the path to success.

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” – Simon Sinek

2. Define what success looks like

It sounds simple when I say to define success, but oftentimes we don’t. We set goals of working out more or making more money or even adopting more dogs. However, if we don’t define what that actually means, it’s really hard to know when we have hit the success we are working toward.

Success can quickly become like a bully on the playground that draws a line and when you cross it, he draws another line. When that happens, it’s hard to understand what we have achieved and keep moving onto the next goal.

When this survey for the dog adoption was built out, the goal was to adopt a dog to the perfect home. Now that the goal has been achieved, it’s time to set another goal and keep moving forward. By defining success clearly, we can make sure that when we work our plan and hit our goal, we will know it. Then, we can define another goal and work toward that.

3. Do the important work

What I didn’t mention earlier was that this was actually called the “Passion Project” and they were given an hour and a half each week to work on something they were passionate about. She found her topic through research and discovered that about half the dogs at shelters were there because they were the wrong type for the family.

This girl didn’t do this for accolades or attention as she was focused on doing the important work on something she was passionate about. It was only then that she found the problem she could solve and decided it was important to do so.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

Real world problems are all around us from financial issues to poverty to famine and much more. Often, we look at a problem and think to ourselves that it’s too big for us to solve or there’s nothing that can be done about it anyway.

This young girl has a lot to teach us about looking at a problem and finding a solution for it. We need to pay attention to the things she has taught us about achieving success by doing the important work which is close to our heart.

What do you think is the most important aspect to success? Let us know in the comments below!

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Success Advice

How to 10X the Likelihood of Completing Your Next Big Project

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project management
Image Credit: Unsplash

According to Bob Proctor, you have a 95% chance of making personal change happen if you make a plan and set a specific time to share your progress with someone. At the opposite end of the spectrum, you only have a 10% chance of making a change if you say “that’s a good idea” to your next inspirational brain wave without doing anything else.

Now think about it, how many times have you thought “that’s a good idea” and been inspired to do something without actually pulling the trigger to take one single, simple step towards doing something? This is one of the biggest challenges standing in the way of people from achieving their fullest potential.

Here are 6 steps to help you jump-start your next project and take action right away:

1. Identify which ideas are actually good

Not all ideas are created equal, and not all ideas are worth pursuing. In fact, some ideas and goals should be actively avoided. Warren Buffett tells a story about having someone write out their top 25 career goals on a piece of paper. After looking at the list, he asks the individual to circle the top 5 goals on their list. After that, he tells the person that the 20 remaining goals should be “avoided at all costs” until the first 5 goals are met.

It is a mistake to think that you can split your energy in multiple directions and succeed at anything. Instead, focus on the top 2 or 3 things that are most important to you, and actively avoid anything that takes you away from pursuing those goals or ideas.

2. Tell yourself you will do something with this new idea

Once you’ve decided that something is important enough to pursue, make a point of telling yourself you will do something to further explore the idea. This doesn’t mean making a commitment to quit your day job to pursue a vague idea for a startup. Nor does it mean dropping everything to travel the world for 6 months. Rather, it means that you commit to looking into something to get a better idea of what’s involved before taking the leap on a project.

“Ideas are commodity. Execution of them is not.” – Michael Dell

3. Choose a deadline or create a window of time to get something shipped

Outline a specific window of time to accomplish something, and then write out that plan in a calendar. The most important thing is to make sure the deadline is reasonable and that you are realistic. If you make a goal to double your income and launch a new business in the next 12 months, you may find yourself becoming disheartened when things aren’t working out after 3 weeks. I typically choose to work on tasks and projects in 1-3 month sprints, at which point I check in and reevaluate my progress.

4. Outline a specific plan of action on how to do it based on the timeline you have created

I use a variety of tools to help plan out my tasks and remind myself what I’m supposed to be working on, but at the end of the day, the best tool I use to schedule activities is a simple Excel spreadsheet to track tasks on a day by day basis. Check out the book “12 Week Year” for some ideas on how to choose specific action items and tasks which will help you move the needle on your work.

“Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.” – Guy Kawasaki

5. Make a commitment to accomplish something specific based on the timeline and plan

Now that you have spent the time to research your idea, develop a timeline for the idea and structured a plan with specific tasks to accomplish this idea. You must make a commitment to yourself to carry out the tasks on your list and to strive to complete everything on time.

This task is incredibly important because it requires that you tap into a deeper level of motivation that goes beyond acceptance by the group or fear of failure. Instead, you need to reach deep down and make a commitment based on a deep need to accomplish the task that goes beyond recognition.

6. Set a specific time to review and be accountable for your plan and progress with someone else

We all know that even the most powerful source of internal motivation may not be enough to keep you going when times get tough. This is why you should make a habit of meeting up with a friend, mentor or colleague to review your progress on a certain project and to get ideas on how best to proceed. Make this meeting at a time that you both agree on well in advance, be clear on the feedback you want, and then don’t miss your deadlines!

At the end of the day, taking action is perhaps the biggest deciding factor that will directly contribute to your success and your ability to achieve your goals. If you don’t act, you’re dead in the water. So make a commitment to yourself today to give this a shot.

Think this system would work for you? Let us know!

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Success Advice

Instead of Always Trying to Be Right, Do This Instead

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stop trying to be right
Image Credit: Twenty20.com

A colleague of mine was obnoxious, over eager, and completely out of line. Yet, all of this was overshadowed by the fact he was just plain wrong. If he were to go through with it, it would derail the company by at least 6 months. Yet, arguing with him when he was in this state was of no use. While hitting him over the head with the laptop seemed appealing for a second, it was probably not a great long-term strategy for the business or my laptop. (more…)

Dan Elias is passionate about helping people develop creative strategies for unlocking their potential. He is the director of marketing at Motivate, an app dedicated to helping people achieve their goals.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Yaa Jecty

    Nov 11, 2015 at 10:44 am

    It’s amazing the amount of knowledge you get when you surround your self with the right people and books. The lessons and advice shared are priceless. Thank you for this great article. striving to be the best is the greatest achievement one can attain.

    • Tim Denning

      Dec 30, 2015 at 2:31 am

      Totally agree with you Yaa. Surrounding yourself with the right people is key.

  2. Lawrence Berry

    Aug 5, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    Really loved this article and the message that Lisa has brought to us. They say that you are the average of the 5 people that you hang around, and hanging around influential people will one day make you become an influential person as well. You learn what makes them tick and how they rise to create success in their life. This is important to becoming better and building upon your own self-development. You also need to positive daily rituals to begin strive for personal excellence in life and to remain calm and collected to increase your productivity.

    • Tim Denning

      Aug 7, 2015 at 10:00 am

      As always Lawrence, you’re on the money. The people closest to you have a big effect on your success. Just like if you put a few drops of arsenic into your coffee, it’s only takes a few toxic friends in your inner circle to bring you down.

Leave a Reply

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

Success Advice

Instead of Always Trying to Be Right, Do This Instead

Published

on

stop trying to be right
Image Credit: Twenty20.com

A colleague of mine was obnoxious, over eager, and completely out of line. Yet, all of this was overshadowed by the fact he was just plain wrong. If he were to go through with it, it would derail the company by at least 6 months. Yet, arguing with him when he was in this state was of no use. While hitting him over the head with the laptop seemed appealing for a second, it was probably not a great long-term strategy for the business or my laptop.

Galileo once said, “You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself.” This is especially true when it comes to emotionally charged matters and negotiations.

When you are right, you become attached to that idea. It’s so clear, how can they not see it? Yet, your meticulously clear logic might as well be written in braille as your focus intensifies on proving yourself right, instead of reaching an agreement.

Below are 3 ways you can step out of your emotions and help someone find the right answer when money and time are on the line:

1. Separate the Person From the Issue

Imagine if a four-year-old child was adamant about something. You wouldn’t try to reason logically for hours in such a case. When trying to speak through a person’s emotions, often you might have better luck with the four year old.

In order to break this barrier you must stop seeing them as the problem and see the issue at hand. Instead of seeing the other person as stupid or obnoxious, try viewing them as simply lost or misguided. The job now becomes not to prove them wrong, but to guide them to the truth. Adopting this mindset changes your entire approach as you get out of your own emotions and take control of the situation.

“Each of us guard a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside.” – Stephen Covey

2. Show Them A Mirror

Somewhere in between trying to hammer a point, both sides usually forget to listen. No matter the situation, you must make sure that person is never you. Instead, shift the focus from “me vs you” and make it completely about the other person. Really listen and validate their emotions, creating enough trust and safety to begin a real exchange. Make sure they feel heard and slow the conversation down. When you slow the process down, you also calm down.

Remember, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. About 93% of communication is nonverbal, thus maintaining your body language immediately provides an edge. A playful (not childlike or mocking) voice puts someone in a positive frame of mind, where they are more likely to collaborate and problem solve.

Always remember to repeat back the most important three words from their sentence and make them elaborate on whatever they said. The more a person is allowed to speak, the more they feel heard. The more they feel heard, the more open they are to receive new information.

3. Lead With Empathy, Not Sympathy

Taking the time to make sure the other side feels heard and understood does not mean you bend to their will. It does not mean you give up, agree, feel sorry for, or even compromise. Empathy is the ability to recognize another’s perspective and the vocalization of that recognition. This is the difference between empathy and sympathy.

When you can label a person’s emotions in an argument, you seize the chance to discover what is behind those feelings. As you begin to drill down, you gain leverage. This should be done very gracefully. Instead of saying, I think you’re angry and being stubborn, trying saying, It seems like you are feeling frustrated because you really care about this and wish it was moving along quicker.

“Sometimes all a person wants is an empathetic ear; all he or she needs is to talk it out. Just offering a listening ear and an understanding heart for his or her suffering can be a big comfort.” – Roy T. Bennett

Using labels, you mold their feelings into words, moving information from the emotional part of the brain to the rational. Whatever behavior a person may be presenting, there is always an underlying feeling triggering it. Your job is to make the person aware of that feeling. The faster you do this, the faster you eliminate the risk of a complete breakdown in communication.

After their emotions are labeled, asking how or why calibrated questions allow them to solve their problems for you. In order to do this effectively you don’t need to study every type of calibrated question there is, but rather adopt a specific mindset. You are not their opponent, but a guide, leading the lost to the truth. Your truth.

In my case, the presenting behavior of my colleague was an obnoxious know-it-all attitude. However, the underlying emotion was fear of falling behind. Once I was able to stop asking the question, “Why is he doing this to me?” and focus on looking deeper, the conversation took a turn. The conversation was no longer about my ideas versus his, but about him and his fear.

Instead of arguing with me, he spent the rest of the time, essentially, arguing with himself. After helping him dissect his fear in the rational part of the brain, he realized that many of the worst case scenarios were highly improbable and acting hasty might exacerbate things. Most importantly, at the end of the conversation, he said, “I think I made the right choice.”

He believed that the decision was entirely his. He never acknowledged the fact that I was right and announced to everyone the sudden spark of genius that hit him. Yet, at the end of the day you need to ask yourself what is more important to you; being right or doing whatever it takes to win.  

How do you handle conflict? Let us know your tips and advice in the comments below!

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Success Advice

What You Can Learn From My Ultimate “I Am Screwed” Moment.

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Image Credit: Unsplash / Gold Chain

When I was 16 years old, I had the ultimate “I am screwed moment.”

Everything from this point on happened in slow motion. What I’m about to describe probably happened in the space of thirty minutes but it felt like five hours.

I was walking down the street with my buddy one night, eating a paddle pop ice cream. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a group of about twenty teenagers running towards us, dressed in black.

I instantly knew that something was up and as they got closer, we both realized we were screwed and there was nowhere to run to.

Seconds later the gang of teenagers came straight towards us as fast as they could.

“I got lucky and copped a baseball bat to the head. My friend wasn’t so lucky. He was repeatedly stabbed by several different people and there was blood everywhere.”

As I saw what happened to my friend, I knew I’d be next. I was hit so many times with the baseball bat that I was numb from the pain. Everything started to go white.

Then I heard a faint voice. The voice was calling my name out.

I listened to what the young man was saying and realized he was saying that his little brother knew me. All of a sudden, he put out his hand, lifted me off the ground and told me to run in the other direction, or I’d end up like my friend.

I somehow managed to get on my feet and run, but I was not giving up on my friend. I ran around the back of the shopping center that we were standing outside of and entered the building. I ran to the first security guard I saw and told them I needed help.

In my search to get help, miraculously, my friend had made it into the shopping center and he was being treated by a number of bystanders for his massive knife wounds.

I went over and spoke to him. He was okay and things looked better than I expected. I had about sixty seconds of calmness. Then I looked to my left.

Through the glass doors, I could see the same gang of teenagers running into the shopping center. Everyone including the two security guards ran in opposite directions.

My friend with his multiple knife wounds also ran and there were bandages everywhere as he made a run for it (I’m not even sure how he was able to move).

This time I was the unlucky one. I ran into the part of the shopping center that was closed for the night and three of the youths followed me. I’d never been so afraid because I saw what they did to my friend.

I ended up in the shopping centers food court and I hid in the darkness. I tried to control my breathing, but it was hard to silence the fear inside of me. I still remember the white Nike pants I was wearing and the bright red Sean John jumper I had on (I later discarded them because of the memory they left).

Again, through some kind of miracle, the three boys did not see me. They ran off in another direction and I stayed under the table.

The pain of my wounds started to set in. I knew deep down I was safe and so the fight or flight response was turned off. All of a sudden, moving and walking felt very painful.

I could feel broken bits of teeth in my mouth.


The aftermath.

After some time had passed, I manage to reconnect with my friend. By that time there was an ambulance on the scene and he managed to get his knife wounds treated. He got lucky and no vital organs were affected.

The next day I went to school and people could see I had gone through one hell of an ordeal. One of my friends in the year level below, came and found me and explained to me that it was his older brother and friends that attacked me.

They had mistakenly thought that we had come from a party, because of the direction we came from, where he was beaten up. He told me that because they had recognized me, to some degree, I was spared.

The story doesn’t end here though (I wish it did). Even after the brutal event, one of the attackers was still upset with me. I didn’t know why and it made no sense. I had multiple times where he and his friends were waiting for me in certain places and I was told they would harm me.

Through a mutual friend, I was able to resolve the conflict and I found out that a few of them were close friends with a few of my friends. In the coming years, I got to know my attackers.

“They were not the horrible violent people I encountered on that night. They slowly changed their ways and one of them has gone on to do extraordinary kind acts all over the world.”


A revelation from this “I am screwed” moment.

After this horrible event had occurred, I tried to make sense of it. I was not a violent person in any way but in a way, I had created this path for myself.

During my teenage years, I let rap music and violence dominate my life. I thought they were both cool.

The revelation from all of this was that I knew I had to change my life. I knew that the path I was on had led me to this moment and only I could change things. The next time an attack like this happened, I may not be as lucky.

I gave up rap music, I changed my group of friends, I started a business with my brother, I quit smoking and I disengaged from anything that was violent. Looking back, an “I am screwed” moment can be extremely valuable. It’s during these difficult times that we learn about who we are and what we can do to change our lives.

I would never have become obsessed with legacy, giving back and personal development if I hadn’t had this life or death experience.

I’m now fully aware of my mortality and I’m never going to take another day for granted.

Everything can change in a split second for better or for worse. What you do in that moment is up to you.

Nothing happens randomly (even this attack). Everything happens for a reason and when you ensure you get the lesson from it, you can go on to do extraordinary things.

I’m typing these words and reaching millions of people with them, partly because of this “I am screwed” moment.


If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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3 Things We Can Learn About Success From a 13 Year Old Girls School Project

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Dog Do or Dog Don’t
Image Credit: Aiden Horwitz

Success comes in all shapes and sizes. So, when I read about a 13 year old that was solving a major problem in the dog adoption industry, I was intrigued. It turns out that many families often choose the wrong dog for their family and end up giving them up to a shelter.

When a school project came up, this young girl decided she would try to tackle the problem. First, she created a survey that would help potential dog foster parents determine which dog would be a good fit for them. Then, she teamed up with a local shelter who gave her information on the dogs. Finally, she added the survey to a website she built called Dog Do or Dog Don’t. So far, it’s seen success in just a few months by pairing 5 dogs with the perfect home.

Here are 3 important points we can learn about success from this little girl’s innovation:

1. Focus on your why

No matter what we do in life, we need to know why we are doing it. This girl didn’t care about the end result of making money or getting attention from local news channels. She wanted to solve a problem and her why was clearly defined. “I wanted to come up with a way to help get dogs adopted or help people get the right dog for them and their family,” she says on her website. That was her why and it drove her to the success of what she eventually created.

When we have a goal in life, we need to focus on why we want to achieve it. It doesn’t matter if it’s being successful in business, raising our family or traveling the world, we need to clarify why. Without passion behind what we are doing, the dedication required to achieve success is hard to come by. Only when we focus on our why will we really be on the path to success.

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” – Simon Sinek

2. Define what success looks like

It sounds simple when I say to define success, but oftentimes we don’t. We set goals of working out more or making more money or even adopting more dogs. However, if we don’t define what that actually means, it’s really hard to know when we have hit the success we are working toward.

Success can quickly become like a bully on the playground that draws a line and when you cross it, he draws another line. When that happens, it’s hard to understand what we have achieved and keep moving onto the next goal.

When this survey for the dog adoption was built out, the goal was to adopt a dog to the perfect home. Now that the goal has been achieved, it’s time to set another goal and keep moving forward. By defining success clearly, we can make sure that when we work our plan and hit our goal, we will know it. Then, we can define another goal and work toward that.

3. Do the important work

What I didn’t mention earlier was that this was actually called the “Passion Project” and they were given an hour and a half each week to work on something they were passionate about. She found her topic through research and discovered that about half the dogs at shelters were there because they were the wrong type for the family.

This girl didn’t do this for accolades or attention as she was focused on doing the important work on something she was passionate about. It was only then that she found the problem she could solve and decided it was important to do so.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

Real world problems are all around us from financial issues to poverty to famine and much more. Often, we look at a problem and think to ourselves that it’s too big for us to solve or there’s nothing that can be done about it anyway.

This young girl has a lot to teach us about looking at a problem and finding a solution for it. We need to pay attention to the things she has taught us about achieving success by doing the important work which is close to our heart.

What do you think is the most important aspect to success? Let us know in the comments below!

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How to 10X the Likelihood of Completing Your Next Big Project

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project management
Image Credit: Unsplash

According to Bob Proctor, you have a 95% chance of making personal change happen if you make a plan and set a specific time to share your progress with someone. At the opposite end of the spectrum, you only have a 10% chance of making a change if you say “that’s a good idea” to your next inspirational brain wave without doing anything else.

Now think about it, how many times have you thought “that’s a good idea” and been inspired to do something without actually pulling the trigger to take one single, simple step towards doing something? This is one of the biggest challenges standing in the way of people from achieving their fullest potential.

Here are 6 steps to help you jump-start your next project and take action right away:

1. Identify which ideas are actually good

Not all ideas are created equal, and not all ideas are worth pursuing. In fact, some ideas and goals should be actively avoided. Warren Buffett tells a story about having someone write out their top 25 career goals on a piece of paper. After looking at the list, he asks the individual to circle the top 5 goals on their list. After that, he tells the person that the 20 remaining goals should be “avoided at all costs” until the first 5 goals are met.

It is a mistake to think that you can split your energy in multiple directions and succeed at anything. Instead, focus on the top 2 or 3 things that are most important to you, and actively avoid anything that takes you away from pursuing those goals or ideas.

2. Tell yourself you will do something with this new idea

Once you’ve decided that something is important enough to pursue, make a point of telling yourself you will do something to further explore the idea. This doesn’t mean making a commitment to quit your day job to pursue a vague idea for a startup. Nor does it mean dropping everything to travel the world for 6 months. Rather, it means that you commit to looking into something to get a better idea of what’s involved before taking the leap on a project.

“Ideas are commodity. Execution of them is not.” – Michael Dell

3. Choose a deadline or create a window of time to get something shipped

Outline a specific window of time to accomplish something, and then write out that plan in a calendar. The most important thing is to make sure the deadline is reasonable and that you are realistic. If you make a goal to double your income and launch a new business in the next 12 months, you may find yourself becoming disheartened when things aren’t working out after 3 weeks. I typically choose to work on tasks and projects in 1-3 month sprints, at which point I check in and reevaluate my progress.

4. Outline a specific plan of action on how to do it based on the timeline you have created

I use a variety of tools to help plan out my tasks and remind myself what I’m supposed to be working on, but at the end of the day, the best tool I use to schedule activities is a simple Excel spreadsheet to track tasks on a day by day basis. Check out the book “12 Week Year” for some ideas on how to choose specific action items and tasks which will help you move the needle on your work.

“Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.” – Guy Kawasaki

5. Make a commitment to accomplish something specific based on the timeline and plan

Now that you have spent the time to research your idea, develop a timeline for the idea and structured a plan with specific tasks to accomplish this idea. You must make a commitment to yourself to carry out the tasks on your list and to strive to complete everything on time.

This task is incredibly important because it requires that you tap into a deeper level of motivation that goes beyond acceptance by the group or fear of failure. Instead, you need to reach deep down and make a commitment based on a deep need to accomplish the task that goes beyond recognition.

6. Set a specific time to review and be accountable for your plan and progress with someone else

We all know that even the most powerful source of internal motivation may not be enough to keep you going when times get tough. This is why you should make a habit of meeting up with a friend, mentor or colleague to review your progress on a certain project and to get ideas on how best to proceed. Make this meeting at a time that you both agree on well in advance, be clear on the feedback you want, and then don’t miss your deadlines!

At the end of the day, taking action is perhaps the biggest deciding factor that will directly contribute to your success and your ability to achieve your goals. If you don’t act, you’re dead in the water. So make a commitment to yourself today to give this a shot.

Think this system would work for you? Let us know!

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