It’s 1:52 AM right now as I write this article.
I’m not going to sleep tonight. In about three hours, I’ll be leaving my Brooklyn apartment for a Daybreaker party in the city (Daybreaker being a morning dance party on a boat where hundreds of people come together to start their day on an epic note!).
After docking, I’ll make my way over to the FunnyBizz Conference, where I was gifted a VIP ticket to hear comedians and marketers talk about adding humor to business to create better content. I’ll probably see some friends there for dinner, and then head to the airport to catch a late flight to Orlando, where I’ll be picked up by my brother and catch a few hours of sleep before speaking to a couple hundred college entrepreneurs at the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization’s National Conference.
Full day, you could say.
However, thinking about the day ahead, there’s so many aspects of the day’s agenda that most people would overlook, and it’s because of these things most would overlook that I’m becoming more and more successful (as are many of my friends and acquaintances who embody these ideas) with each passing day.
Since I’m still awake, let me break this day down to show you what I mean…
1) Early Mornings
Most successful people I’ve met start their days pretty early. They get things done while others sleep, and while they can’t be bothered by anything besides their own thoughts. Assuming I were to go to sleep tonight at some point (which is probably not going to happen), I’d be up at 4:45 AM or so to get ready to go to Daybreaker NYC. Although, admittedly, I haven’t been too good about waking up early as of late (despite writing multiple articles for Addicted2Success about how important it is to do so), I know the months I lost the most weight, completed the most editing for my forthcoming book 2 Billion Under 20, and just felt the best overall were days where my alarm went off at 5:30 AM.
By 8, I’d be working, and would have already crushed a workout, meditated, eaten a healthy breakfast, and gotten comfortable in my working environment for the next few hours, so before most people arose, I’d feel as if I’d conquered the day.
On days I wake up late, I feel guilty, don’t make the gym usually, and miss out on my most productive hours. So, no sleep or little sleep tonight, today should be a good day!
2) Having Fun
The “grind” is hard!
While, over time, you come to appreciate, and even enjoy, all the effort, sacrifices, and mistakes it takes to become successful, it’s also important to have fun on your way up! Sure, if I’m going to Daybreaker to start my day, I may be missing out on an hour or two of work, but the longer term benefits of having this morning dance party, being with a few friends who are joining, and letting loose in a new city will lead to more productive hours for the rest of the day, prevent burnout, and keep me sane.
You could say the same for the FunnyBizz conference. While I’ll certainly be learning and connecting with lots of new people who can push my various projects forward, given the nature of the conference and the various comedians speaking, I’m sure I’ll have a great time as well.
In fact, most days I have a lot of fun because I love what I do. It’s so cliche, but if you are “doing what you love” on a daily basis, and you’re getting paid for it (or creating a business out of it hopefully), then you’re already successful.
3) Being Well-Rounded
Personally, I view success as being multi-faceted. In fact, experimenting with what it takes to be successful in various aspects of my life (from business to health, lifestyle design, relationship-building, and community) is the cornerstone of my new blog, The Gap Year Experiment, and the day I’m about to embark on is proof of that.
Not only do I want to have a ton of fun and have the freedom of location and time (all part of lifestyle design) to attend things like a Daybreaker party, but I also want to meet great people (file this under relationship-building) both personally (maybe I’ll find the love of my life at this dance party…or at least make a few new friends) and professionally (I’m sure I’ll meet some awesome people with a VIP ticket at a major conference), push my business forward (who knows what doors will open with all of the day’s activities, and flying to Orlando to speak at tomorrow’s conference can’t hurt my career), and grow my inner circle by hanging out with close friends and seeing family. Throw in some calorie-crunching and (not-so) impressive dance moves, and I’m improving my health too…and laughs will only boost my mood too.
Cool thing is, most of my days are similarly well-rounded, which I consider a life well-lived now and in the future should the trend continue.
4) Surrounding Yourself With Top-Notch People
This is so crucial to being successful in your personal and professional life. Most people overlook relationship-building in both worlds unfortunately, and choose to binge out on Netflix over going to a networking event, taking a pretty girl out of a date, or calling up some old friends to catch up, but after years of working with David Hassell, “The Most Connected Man You Don’t Know In Silicon Valley”, and Keith Ferrazzi, who literally wrote THE book on professional relationship-building (“Never Eat Alone”…I’m biased, but I highly, highly recommend reading it if you haven’t already) I simply can’t pass up on daily opportunities to meet fascinating people.
While I’m sure I’ll make some personal friends at the morning dance party, and maybe even get a few phone numbers of some cute girls I’d love to take out on dates when I return from Orlando, I know at very least I’ll strengthen pre-existing relationships with others I’ve invited to join me at both of today’s events. At the conference, I’ll look to make genuine connections with a handful of interesting people who I can provide value to, and vice-versa, rather than push business cards in everyone’s face I come across. These relationships can become important, and should be treated as such. By paying close attention to this point I’m trying to make, I’ve built an entire community of some of the world’s smartest and most talented Millennials.
Please, do NOT overlook the people in your life. You’ll be happier and more successful if you make surrounding yourself with top-notch people your #1 priority personally (dating, friends, etc) and professionally.
I’m not kidding. If there’s one thing in this article that most people actually overlook about being successful, it’s showering.I don’t know about you, but I’ve started two companies because of ideas I’ve had in the shower.
In fact, I got the idea for a new online challenge I just launched, 2 Billion Under 20, and even this article all from spending extra time under a shower head. Perhaps it has something to do with the tranquility of water, or the absence of distracting devices that we seem to rely on way too much, but I do my best thinking in the shower. Oh, and being clean is important too. You won’t score many dates, sales, or really anything without decent hygiene.
Lather up, ladies and gents!
6) Doing The Little Things
Last week I was at the Forbes Under 30 Summit, and world-famous DJ, Afrojack, had a few thoughts to share with the crowd. When speaking about his travel schedule (the dude flies over 250 times a year, and all over the world), he sort of shrugged it off and said, “It’s just part of what you have to do.” If flying late at night to Orlando is what I need to in order to become more successful, than so be it. Although not impressive when compared to Afrojack or plenty of other entrepreneurs I know, I’ve been on around 50 flights myself this year, and while plane tickets cost a lot of money and navigating airports can suck up quite a lot of time, successful people just suck it up and, again, embrace it.
If “doing the little things” means staying at the office an extra hour to send a few more sales emails, not having drinks at dinner so you can stay slim, writing a few more “thank you” notes to repeat customers, or whatever, successful people always do the little things while those who wish for more generally overlook these same tasks.
With so many people out there seemingly oblivious to “doing the little things”, it just means there are a lot more opportunities for us hustlers to “wow”, and I certainly don’t mind missing a couple hours of sleep taking a late-night flight so I can help inspire college entrepreneurs tomorrow.
7) Employing Others To Work For You
When I say this, I don’t always mean paying someone for their help, but if you have co-founders or business/life partners, sometimes it is beneficial to delegate certain tasks to multiply your outputs in the same amount of time (after all, you and Beyonce each have 24 hours today, and every day afterwards).
While I am dancing my butt off later and learning about how to incorporate more humor into my writing and marketing, a freelancer hired off of Elance will be helping me implement a WordPress plug-in for the 90 Day Millennial Entrepreneurship course I just launched, meaning that, even when I’m not working, I am still being productive because I delegated minimal tasks I’m not very good at to someone else for a cheaper price than my hourly rate.
With co-founders, you can divvy up work to get more done, and partnerships/collaboration always gets you ahead more than working alone if you are working with top-notch talent. I’m still learning this one myself, but I’ve seen results at a small scale already; learn how to delegate and see your success skyrocket.
8) Being Able To “Receive”
Today wouldn’t be as awesome if I wasn’t “gifted” a VIP ticket to the FunnyBizz conference. I certainly didn’t ask for one, but it was offered, and I had to be okay with simply “receiving” this generous gesture. Of course, I made a concerted effort to “pay it forward” afterward by inviting more people to the conference, thus helping the organizers sell an extra few tickets, or by offering to make high-level introductions to people they should know, but on your road to becoming more successful, being able to simply “receive” help from a mentor, good fortune, a free ticket here and there, etc is almost as important as being able to “give” and provide value to others upfront as I talk about often. I also have to be cool with having my brother go out of his way to pick me up at midnight at the airport, an equally generous offering I can simply accept and be grateful for.
If you do not overlook #4, then you’ll have great people in your life who want to help you and want to see you succeed, and sometimes, you just have to let them help. In fact, if you turn down their mentorship, help, etc, you may lose a valuable connection and friendship because of your stubbornness.
I’m sure I could continue to break down my upcoming day and point to aspects of it that most people would overlook in being successful, but I’ve certainly given you a lot to think about, and I’m starting to get a bit tired (time to do some push-ups or something!).
Think about these 8 things as you tackle your day, and you’ll be well on your way to building upon the success you already have…
If you have any other ideas that should have been added to this list, want to chat with me about your version of epic days like this one, or just have an affinity for dance parties, please comment below or email me…I’d love to hear from you either way!
Why You Should Prefer Emails to Phone Calls if You Want to Be More Productive
“Email” and “productivity” rarely go together in a sentence. Emails have been declared as one of our largest time wasters. A McKinsey report stated that people spend around 2.6 hours each day responding to emails. That’s 13 hours a week, 52 hours a month and over 60 days a year! Imagine what you could’ve achieved in 60 days!
Emails also negatively affect our cognitive resources. When we think of responding to them while doing other important tasks, it takes up to 23 minutes and 15 seconds after being disrupted to return to full attention to a current task. Imagine how much our cognition and productivity gets fractured when we get distracted over and over again.
Constant emailing also drains us mentally. And at the end of a day, we realize that we’ve achieved nothing worth mentioning. With a phone call, you can sort issues and solve problems quickly, right? In theory, you’re right. But we live in a practical world where many variables come into play.
Below are three variables that make phone calls adversely affect our productivity, and why emails are a better alternative:
1. Wasting Time
Most “five-minute conversations” can quickly turn into 35-minute calls because people ramble about irrelevant aspects. This derailment, several times a day, severely limits the limited time and energy you have for important tasks.
Emails, on the other hand, force writers to streamline their thoughts and stick to the point. Emails can save you plenty of time and energy because you avoid lengthy phone calls. The constant strife to keep your own emails short and crisp also makes you a clearer thinker, which rewards you in other aspects of your life.
“It’s better to waste money, than it is to waste time. You can always get more money.” – Hal Sparks
2. Inaccurate Responses
An unexpected phone call can catch me caught off guard on a topic. I might respond emotionally or give an answer that doesn’t do justice to what I want to share. In a world dominated by panic buttons and fire-fighting, these don’t just stress me out but the caller as well.
Emails give me flexibility to prepare a coherent response and share it when I’m satisfied. If I feel a surge of emotion, I can sleep over the thought and share a better (more rational) response the next day. Many page-long email responses to emails that upset me have turned into a simple “thank you for your email” the next day.
3. Constant Back-and-Forth
Phone calls often are ineffective to solve business problems. Accounting for multiple people, their views, their timelines… One phone call can quickly turn into three.
Emails are quicker and more effective than even conference calls. They let you communicate with multiple people at the same time. You can share information, assign tasks and give status updates while being as specific as possible.
You must be wondering, “What about back-and-forth emails then? Why do we waste precious time on them?” Yes, email has earned a bad rap. But it’s not because of the medium; it’s because we handle it ineffectively.
A Better Approach to Emailing
For most people, constantly refreshing the inbox is part of the daily to-do list. It keeps them busy and gives them a kick of dopamine – the feel-good chemical.
Ironically, this quest to remain busy makes people compromise on taking action that can move them forward. Using emails prudently, rewards you with plenty of energy and mind space to focus on tasks that truly matter.
Here are three steps that benefited me without succumbing to the side effects of email:
1. Checking Them Less
I check emails just 3 times a day – at 9:30 AM, 12:00 PM, and 4:30 PM. If you don’t have the luxury to do the same, you can start by checking your emails for ten minutes at the end of each hour. Most senders expect a response in a little over an hour. So they won’t mind a slightly delayed response. This gives you 45 undisturbed minutes each hour to work on your core tasks.
2. Responding Quickly
People delay responding to emails at least 37% of the time, which turns finding emails and responding to them into additional tasks that cost time and lead to attention residue. Most emails take under two minutes to respond. When you can respond to an email, do so instead of putting it off. This won’t just put your mind at peace, it’ll also reduce the number of “did-you-see-this” follow-up emails in your inbox.
“I do love email. Wherever possible I try to communicate asynchronously. I’m really good at email.” – Elon Musk
3. The If-Then Technique
The If-Then technique helps you address multiple scenarios at once. For instance, an email that says, “Can we meet at 3:00 PM?” becomes, “Can we meet at 3:00 PM? If not, please advise three other times that work for you.”
This technique is also effective when you want to suggest ideas or provide instructions on alternative steps. For example, “Here’s Plan A. If it doesn’t work, connect with [name] and ask for [specific information]. If you don’t get what you need, inform me.”
I’ll admit. This sounds like more work in the current moment, but it drastically cuts down the number of trail mails, confused correspondences, and fire-fighting instances that occur due to miscommunication.
The If-Then formula is the single most effective technique I’ve learned from The 4-Hour Workweek. All of this doesn’t mean that you abandon phone calls, In fact, it’s better to use the phone for sensitive topics or if an email conversation gets dragged. But remain mindful to not let phone calls waste your time.
If you want to pursue a meaningful life, place a premium on your time. Do things that create time for you to pursue meaningful actions and avoid doing what pulls you away from them. In the knowledge economy, this is the key to success.
Do you prefer email or talking on the phone? Share your thoughts below!
4 Questions You Need to Answer Before You Reach the Level of Success You So Desperately Crave
It’s normal that every person in the world wants to reach success and happiness. Yet, everyone defines both of these things differently. For some, success is making a whole bunch of money while for others this can be to become a good parent. Happiness is defined differently as well. Some people need to own a jet, boat and 3 cars to be truly happy, while others are happy just to be able to wake up in the morning.
It doesn’t matter how you define success and happiness, the truth is, you want to achieve them both. But, to be able to reach success and happiness, you need to answer 4 questions for yourself.
Here are the 4 questions you need to answer before you can achieve success and happiness:
1. Where Are You?
No, not geographically. It doesn’t matter where you live. What matters is where are you in life. Where are you in your way to success and happiness. Let’s say you are lost in the woods. You know exactly where you want to go, but you don’t know where you are. Even a map doesn’t help you with that.
The same is true in life. You may have a goal, but until you truly define where you are in the moment, you can’t move toward this goal. So, step 1 on your way to success and happiness is to define where you are right now.
“Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.” – Jim Rohn
2. Where Do You Want to Go?
When you define where you are in life, then you can think of where you want to be.
There’s this saying: When you don´t know your final destination, you´ll end up somewhere you didn’t want to be. Until you don’t know clearly where you want to be in life and who you want to become, your life doesn’t have a true purpose.
Without purpose, there´s no motivation. Without motivation, there´s no energy. And without energy, you´re not living, you´re just existing. I am sure you know someone who looks like a walking corpse everytime you see them. Do you think this person lives a successful and happy life? Most likely not.
So, step 2 on your way to success and happiness is to clearly define your goal. What do you want to accomplish and who do you want to become?
3. Why Do You Want It?
Okay, you know the basics. You know where you are and where you want to be. But, as Rocky Balboa said, “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.” And as you already know, life usually doesn’t go according to your plan. There will be hard times and to overcome those and not give up, you need to know WHY you do what you do.
You need to know WHY you want to accomplish your goals. When you answer this for yourself, you don’t struggle so much to motivate yourself. You will be motivated every minute of every day.
So, as a step 3, sit down and think of WHY you want to accomplish your goals. What’s the big purpose?
“We can change our lives. We can do, have, and be exactly what we wish.” – Tony Robbins
4. How Are You Going to Get There?
And finally, how are you going to get there? What’s your plan? You may know where you are, where you want to be and why you want to do it, but until you truly understand how you are going to get there, there won’t be much success and happiness in your life.
For example, you want to become a bodybuilder. You want to do it because you want to have big muscles and you want to look fit. But, you have no idea how to work out, how to build muscle and how to lose fat. Do you think, you´re going to be happy? No. As Tony Robbins says, “true happiness comes from progress.”
To make progress, you need to have a specific plan; how to get from point A (where you are) to point B (where you want to be). So, as a step 4, sit down and make a specific plan for how you’re going to get what you want in life.
In order to reach success and happiness, there are 4 questions you need to answer for yourself. Without answering them, you´re not going to get ahead in life, you´re just bouncing around. Success and happiness never come from just bouncing around in life.
Good news is, that these questions are really simple. It won’t take much time to answer them. Just be aware of where you are and where you want to be. Don´t forget to understand why you are pursuing your dream and finally, how are you going to get what you want.
Answer these 4 simple questions today and you won’t struggle with finding success and happiness in life anymore.
Which one of the above 4 questions resonated most with you and why? Share your thoughts and ideas below!
The Empathetic Heart: How The CHO of VaynerMedia Is Changing The Way We Work
A month after I had joined LinkedIn back in July of 2018, I sent Claude Silver a connection request and began following her content. One day she made a post saying “Ask and you shall receive, what can I do to help you today?”. I commented on that post asking for a 5 minute interview and to my surprise she agreed by asking me to send her a message (I was given a full hour). This was the first example of pure kindness I witnessed from Claude.
The first message you see on Claude’s website is: People need people. People need people that listen and then do something. That message spoke to me on an emotional level, and I believe it will speak to you too. I wanted to know how she created such an amazing culture, what being a “culture carrier” meant, and how the employees at VaynerMedia have been changed by her work there.
A culture carrier in Claude’s own words is “someone who is aligned with our values, I can’t teach someone to be kind they have to already be kind. The process of developing a culture carrier takes about 6 months. It’s about bringing people together and having strong core values of kindness and empathy.”
Gary Vaynerchuk, co-founder of VaynerMedia, is often referred to as a combination of hustle and heart. With the hiring of Claude and the work she has accomplished within the company, it speaks to the level of empathy that can be felt throughout the entire operation.
Although business can be a challenging, tough, and often cut-throat terrain, by putting employees first and providing honest feedback the company has grown to include offices in New York, Chattanooga, Los Angeles and London, and continues to dominate the market.
Below we’ll see 3 different ways the CHO of VaynerMedia is changing the way people work:
1. By being unafraid to share her own story
Claude has been an influential part of breaking the stigma surrounding vulnerability in the business arena. Not only does she openly share her own story, but she sits down with employees to better understand their vulnerabilities and how to use characteristics that previously would have been considered weaknesses as strengths.
When asked what her biggest adventure to date was she replied “Having Shalom (her daughter). I have had an amazing life, I moved, worked hard, landed an amazing job and fell in love but it didn’t come without its challenges.”
Claude is openly gay and is living proof your sexual orientation doesn’t matter. Nothing matters but your character, your track record, and if you leave people a little better off than before you met them. From Claude, business leaders, employees and entrepreneurs can learn to be more open both on social media and in person, allowing them to build more meaningful relationships and connect on a deeper level. A deeper connection can mean more leverage but it also means a more lasting impact on the world.
“Everyone has something they can share. I’m not famous. I don’t have anything that would be newsworthy, but I have stories.” – Tafta Johnson Watson
2. Committing to a strong value system
VaynerMedia has some serious values for such a large company and those values are expected to be upheld by every employee and visitor. Values like kindness, empathy, honesty, hustle and the art of not complaining.
With Claude holding the title of Chief Heart Officer, she is the guiding light for others. When recruiting, she says she “takes the time to evaluate an individual’s talents but most importantly their own heart”.
Gary Vaynerchuk is quoted as saying:”To me, there’s no debate that kindness is a strength. And it breaks my heart to know that so many people believe it’s a weakness. So many people are afraid that other people will take advantage of their kindness or make them feel “used.” But the truth is, those who take advantage of your kindness are weak on the inside. Feel bad for them, don’t let them make you feel bad about yourself“.
Both Claude and Gary teach aspiring entrepreneurs that it is okay to live with an open heart and that having the strength to commit to and live with a strong value system, will be a powerful tool during the hustle journey. It also allows you to go to bed at night actually liking the person that you are, nothing will kill a business faster than going to bed at night and hating yourself.
3. Listening with action
As mentioned above Claude’s slogan is: People need people. People need people that listen and then do something. As a woman who wears many hats, she is also an Outward Bound Instructor, taking individuals on amazing adventures in the outdoors.
Taking action on any given day can mean a number of different things but it speaks to her own character and driving force that she is able to not only guide people through the world of office politics but also through the serene and sometimes challenging wilderness.
Claude cultivates an environment of trust by first offering individuals her own trust. It is a huge and vulnerable action that leads to a relationship of love – heart – and productivity. Listening as an action is something that has the power to change an entire organization from an unproductive, toxic environment to one that promotes creativity, passion, inclusion and positivity.
“Relationships are leverage. If you give value to someone else first, you have leverage.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
To get the truest sense of how Claude was changing the way people work, I asked her co-workers to tell me what working alongside Claude has done for them. Here is one of the answers I received:
“During my time working alongside Claude, I’ve really come to appreciate her example of being a good listener. As a society, we tend to praise the power of speaking. But Claude demonstrates on a daily basis that the most important thing everybody wants is to be heard.” – Steve Babcock, Chief Creative Officer VaynerMedia.
I tried looking for images of Claude on her website and I think it speaks to how focused she is on holding space for others, because I couldn’t find a single full sized image of her to use. I googled. Writing this piece has opened me up to evaluate my own values and the way I connect with people in my daily life.
From this article, it is my own hope that entrepreneurs come to the understanding that although tenacity and true grit are really important, the whole of what Claude represents is something to strive towards. The “soft” skills you develop are humongous strengths and to truly impact an entire organization.
What’s the last random act of kindness you did for someone? Share with us below!
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