It’s September. School just started again, yet I won’t be going back this fall (gasp!!!). Instead, I’m taking a year off from school in order to take control of my own education, and will be documenting all of my experiences on a new blog I just launched called The Gap Year Experiment.
With no curriculum to follow, and a world full of opportunities now available at my fingertips, I had to decide what things were most important to learn. What are the skills, experiences, and habits I could create during my “gap year experiment” that would help me get the most out of the next 365 days of my life?
To answer that, I asked some of my mentors, friends, and role models to give me their 1-3 sentence responses to the following question:
Knowing what you do now, if you could have taught yourself and/or done one thing at
18 years old to create a better foundation for your future success, what would it have been and why? The responses have been incredible! Business celebrities like Tony Hsieh, the Founder of UGG Australia, and the Founder of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, as well as a variety of professional athletes, New York Times bestselling authors, professors, entrepreneurs, and creative types, all chimed in with words of wisdom, and their collective insights will become my curriculum over the course of this next year as I take on various experiments designed to instill in me these same lessons I’ve been advised to learn.
These lessons, as I quickly came to realize, were too valuable for me to keep to myself, so without further adieu, here is what I learned.
SUCCESS IN BUSINESS
1) “When I was 18, I was full of dreams, energy and excitement. I couldn’t wait to graduate and start making money. I saw an Opportunity to go into business with my brothers and I seized it! I Worked hard and Never gave up. Years later, I started reading and filling my mind with ideas and Inspiration. It changed my life and my career took off! If you are just starting out don’t wait. Time is your most precious resource. Invest it. Use it well. Start now!” – Peter van Stralen, CEO of Sunshine Brands
2) “Be unapologetically true yourself, both in business and in life, and broadcast who you are to the world. The right people will eventually find you.” – Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos
3) If I had been focused on my future, I may never have had this one. If I had been focused on foundations, I may never have built one. If I had been focused on success, I may never have achieved it. You have to do what you love because you love it and not for any other reason. And so I have nothing to teach my eighteen-year old self because it’s my eighteen-year-old self that my present-day self should be learning from.” – Neil Strauss, NYT Bestselling Author
4) “By eighteen, I had worked four summers on the construction crew of my dad’s company, held after school jobs in gas stations. I also cleaned a bakery, and after leaving high school worked on a road-building crew to make the streets for a new subdivision in my home town. Without a doubt it was the diversity of the people that I met during this time that expanded my view towards becoming an entrepreneur, versus following the typical University-to-life career path of my friends. I narrowly avoided joining a bank in a coastal town so I could surf every day, when the local grocery store owner took me aside and said, ‘You have so much you can do with your life, so get out and explore.’
So, looking back I would not wish to have changed anything. Traveling was the most critical step in me seeing opportunity, especially the fact that nobody in America owned sheepskin boots, while the product was everywhere in Australia, which ultimately led to UGGs.” – Brian Smith, Founder of UGG Australia, Author and Speaker
5) “To create a better foundation for success, I would have welcomed the advice of working with a mentor sooner. I was quite independent early in my career (few female mentors were available), thinking that dependence on others and asking questions were a sign of weakness, as was failure. Instead over time, I learned that I didn’t have to go it alone. The goal of a mentor is to shorten our learning curve. Failure wasn’t an option early on; now it is the only option. Fail Faster, Succeed
Sooner, is part of my philosophy. The power of relationships, particularly of a mentor and a mastermind, means that I can ask for the help and expertise of others to move forward more quickly.” – Dr. Cheryl Lentz, The Academic Entrepreneur
6) “The best foundation is built on someone else’s mistakes. Find a mentor about 10- 15 years older and grab onto their wisdom. Competition is too stiff to allow for many mistakes of your own!” – Bud Moeller, Former Partner at Accenture and Professional Race Car Driver
7) “Though it can be tough, force yourself to be in situations where you feel like the dumbest person in the room. Constantly surround yourself with people smarter than you, but don’t allow it to intimidate you; instead, use it as an opportunity to learn.” – Nick Arnett, Summit Community Development Manager for the Thiel Foundation
8) “If I could have done one thing at 18 to better my foundation for success, I would have become an apprentice. I would have spent a lot of time reflecting on areas that fired me up, and then I would have found those who were absolutely CRUSHING it in these fields. I would rank them sequentially, and then reach out to them individually describing in detail how I could ADD VALUE to their lives in exchange for learning from them. Would I get a lot of no’s? YES. Would I keep persevering until I found a mentor? YES. What you put out in the universe becomes a magnet…and this magnet would result in a powerful mentor to guide me through my late teens, early 20’s.” – John Lee Dumas, Founder of EntrepreneurOnFire
ON BUILDING SKILLS
9) I would have taught myself more programming languages. At 18, I had dabbled in computer science a little bit and could build a blog, but that was about it. If I could go back and teach myself anything, it’d be more programming languages. There’s something incredibly powerful about being able to sit down at a computer and prototype an idea in a weekend without having to call upon your “techie” friends to help you.” – Stacey Ferreira, CEO of AdMoar, Co-Founder of 2 Billion Under 20
10) “If I could have taught myself one thing, it would have been how to get over my early fear of cold calling and cold approaching individuals I don’t know. So many of The Muse’s biggest successes are due to cold outreach, and I wish I’d forced myself to get comfortable with this a lot sooner!” – Kathryn Minshew, CEO of The Muse
11) “I would have started writing sooner than I did. Oh, sure, I wrote the occasional article. Today I write weekly, if not even more often. I focus on customer service and experience, and as a result have written hundreds of articles, with minimal repetition. My ideas are generated from the books I read (about one every two weeks) and the dozens of articles I read, or at least look at, weekly. This keeps my mind sharp, at the top of my game, and on the cutting edge of new information, and the amount of writing I do now positions me as an expert and thought leader in my area of expertise.” – Shep Hyken, customer service expert and NYT bestselling business author
12) “When I was 18 I wish I would have known and understood the power of email marketing. Yeah, that sounds drab and boring, but the email algorithm doesn’t change. If people opt-in to your email list, they want your content and they’ll get it in their (sacred) inboxes. Social media is great, but when you have zero control over when things change on those platforms, being able to reach followers and Likes can become impossible.” – Jason Surfrapp, Author of Creativity for Sale, Founder of IWearYourShirt.com
13) “Genius Networking and Marketing. Those are the two capabilities that create a foundation of future success better than anything I’ve learned about. Marketing is the way to positively impact millions (even billions) of people, and Genius Networking is the way to get in front of those people.” – Joe Polish, Founder of the Genius Network
14) “I would have studied how to be better at sales because it is one of the most important skills for business and life. I would have also written down short term and long term goals for myself both personal and professional so that I could have had better direction and focus.” – Nick Friedman, President and Co-Founder of College Hunks Hauling Junk
15) “It comes down to the work. If you want to do something and someone is outworking you…if you fail, then it is pretty much your fault…If you’re working harder than everyone else, than your chances of succeeding are so high!” – Com Mirza, Entrepreneur, Venture Capitalist, and Author
16) “The difference between successful people and everyone else is what they do daily. Developing productive habits and working them every day, over time will always lead to success. At 18, I would have asked myself, ‘What are 3 things you can do daily that will bring you closer to your goals?'” – Kyle Fogg, Professional Basketball Player and Former Guard for the University of Arizona
17) “Well, I am not 18 yet, so I don’t know. So I will go back to 14 year old Jacob. I would tell 14 year old Jacob not to focus on achieving a grade in a class but rather to focus on understanding the concepts behind the grade. It is not the end result, but the process that matters.” – Jacob Barnett, World’s Youngest Astrophysicist
18) “There is a difference between wanting something and it being non-negotiable. When shit hits the fan, you’ll find excuses for the former, but the latter will get done. Choose your non-negotiable consciously, for they will be rooted in pleasure and pain avoidance if you don’t.” – Connor Grooms, Founder of One Month Master
19) “I always had a thirst for knowledge. If I knew at age 18 what I know now, I would have listened more carefully.” – Ron Klein, Inventor of the Magnetic Strip Credit Card Validity Checking System
20) “I would have taken the time to learn how to listen earlier. Learning about non-
violent communication and how to take feedback has been integral to both my personal happiness and professional success.” – Dale J. Stephens, Founder of UnCollege
21) A commitment to lifelong physical health. It’s something that everybody talks about all the time (not just pro athletes), but so few of us give consistent effort to maintaining it. I remember the moment it hit home for me was when I came across a quote from the Dalai Lama on humanity: he said that what puzzled him most about mankind is that ‘we sacrifice so much of our health in the pursuit of money, only to later spend so much of our money to try and recuperate our health.’ So true.” – Collete Davis, Professional Race Car Driver and Co-Founder of TechDrive
22) “When I was 18, I was a pretty angry kid. If I knew about meditation back then as I do now, I would have been able to train the mind to stay in the present moment and not let the outside environment cause me any difficulty. Meditation has taught me how to bring an intense level of concentration, focus, and passion to my work, while at the same time being able appreciate all the beauty in the world.” – Jeffrey Zlotnik, Founder of The Meditation Initiative
23) “I wish I’d focused more on creating habits and processes that made *the moment* better, rather than working for future outcomes. There were so many times when I punished my body — all-nighters, drugs, sitting and staring at screens all day — in the name of “tomorrow.” If I’d pulled my head up and actually worked in the moment, I would have preserved my body and sanity (and still achieved all those goals). I also would have been more bold. No apologies, no holding back.” – Charlie Hoehn, Keynote Speaker, Author of Play It Away, and Marketing Expert
24) “I wish I would have focused more on developing self-awareness in all areas of my life ranging from the activities that excited me to what worked and what didn’t. One of the things I realized over the years, is that the first step to improvement is awareness, which requires listening! Only then can we find a better path.” – Scott Britton, Founder of Life-Long Learner and The Competitive Edge Podcast
25) “I really believe that knowing one’s self can help you with everything in life, from how to achieve your own personal goals to working and communicating with others. I’ve found that understanding my Enneagram Type and also my Personal Insight Inventory from InColor Insight has helped me develop a foundation for improving my relationships and achieving my goals.” – Hiten Shah, Co-Founder of KISSMetrics
26) “What I would tell my younger self is that everything always works out. No matter what decision you make, everything always works out. No matter what direction you take, everything always works out. You may not know it at the time, but each and every time you look back, you will know in your heart that it’s true.” – Kym McNicholas, Emmy Award-Winning TV Personality and Executive Director, Extreme Tech Challenge
27) “I would have taken a one-year deferral on going to Columbia University, and asked my uncles whether I could go live with them and work in one of their new companies in New York or California. I had extended family doing really interesting things in venture capital and artificial intelligence, but I just never thought about capitalizing on those family connections and learning what I could about business and real life. If I’d have done that, I could have entered college with more maturity, ambition, and perspective.” – Dr. Geoffrey Miller, Associate Professor at The University of New Mexico
28) “I would have taken statistics in college, had more sex, and married rich. (In that order.)” – Nancy Lublin, CEO of DoSomething.org
29) “I would tell myself to embrace learning as the gateway to your possibilities. Mindfully pursue all forms of learning – both formal and informal – as a life-long journey and document your insights along the way. Take time to reflect on your life’s vision and purpose and pivot and reinvent yourself as needed to realize your aspirations.” – Sophie Vlessing, Senior VP of Strategy and Innovation at Kaplan
30) “Base your life on integrity, character and accountability. Your destiny is what YOU make it. Live each day with courage. Take pride in your work. Always finish what you start. Do what has to be done. Be tough when you have to, but be fair. When you make a promise, keep it. Remember that some things aren’t for sale. Learn from your mistakes. When you’re wrong, admit it and move on.” – Frank Shankwitz, Founder of the Make-A-Wish Foundation and RippleEffect.org
31) “The teaching most beautifully taught to me by my friend and mentor Annie Lalla-Pagan is that falling in love and doing whatever it takes to stay there is the surest path to self actualization/enlightenment. If I were to teach my 18 yr old self anything, it would be specifically to take the path of gratitude and intimacy.” – Anthony David Adams, Co-Founder of PRMatch.com
32) “Much of my success has been the result of surrounding myself with good people-many of whom I met simply by asking if they’d get a cup of coffee with me. I wish I’d started asking at 18 rather than 22!” – Megan Gebhart, Author of 52 Cups of Coffee
33) “As Charlie ‘Tremendous’ Jones has shared…’We are the same today as we will be in five years except for the people we meet and the books we read.’ Surround yourself with winners and you’ll become one too. Place positive and encouraging information in our minds and again, we absorb that wisdom.” – Greg S. Reid, NYT Bestselling Author and World-Renowned Speaker
34) “At 55 years of age, having spent most of my working life in the spotlight, whether in front of a camera, on film sets, or on stage, most people find it hard to believe that I was once very shy. It was hard for me to connect with others and it didn’t really seem to matter at the time. After I started working as a entrepreneur in my late 30’s, I realized just how important the creation of relationships (whether with family, friends or in a working environment) would be. I would let me 18 year old self know just how important healthy, close-knit, and sharing relationships are for your mental and emotional well-being.” – Clarissa Burt, Clarissa Burt International
35) “If I could have taught myself one thing at eighteen years old to create a better foundation for my future success, it would have been to put myself out there and make as many connections to people as possible. The more connections and good impressions made, the more job offers and opportunities you receive. I would have also taught myself not to just make these connections, but to attempt to sustain them as well.” – Mariah Spears, Top 20 Finalist on So You Think You Can Dance Season 10
36) “Personally, I would have loved to learn the art of psychic income (when you do things for other people as a gift with no thought of return) and relationship-building before 18 so I could leverage relationships with mentors who would have changed my life earlier. I would have loved to have read Napoleon Hill’s Think & Grow Rich and all of Earl Nightingale’s trainings as well.” – Patrick Carney, The Artiste
38) “When it comes to relationship-building…1) Love yourself. 2) Forgive yourself (and others). 3) Focus on what you want out of your partner, not what you don’t want, and frame it as though you have it NOW. Everything is energy, and you get what you focus on. 4) If you have a relationship that ends or one that you were hopeful about that ended up not lasting, don’t let your disappointment get the best of you. 5) Learn about trust, commitment, and surrender. 6) Give all you have. 7) Receive all that is given. 8) Have lots of great sex! If you don’t yet know how, figure it out!!!” – Ben Rode, Co-Founder of Explosive Sexual Healing
39) “Early in adult life, many of us expect to find “the one” life partner that will instinctively address our desires and comfort our sorrows..Such soul mates are like unicorns, almost real, difficult to encounter, impossible to capture. Sometimes brief moments in a loving relationship can be most impactful among our lifetime of experiences. The quality of a relationship can’t be measured by how long it lasts; relationship quality is measured by loving intensity in melding of souls, if even for a touch, glance, or a moment. That moment can impact our whole lifetime. After 17, I learned a truth: love, life, and relationships are moments.” – Reese Jones, Venture Strategist, Associate Founder at Singularity University
40) “When I was 18, I was a poor kid from Pittsburgh heading to Yale, not feeling I fit in even before I arrived. I was ashamed of my background and felt others wouldn’t accept me for who I was. I would have coached me in the following ways: 1) Take a couple people into your confidence who you feel you can trust and share deeply with and let them ‘have your back.’ 2) Put a relationship action plan together and don’t forget your peers…spend more time earning the respect and building the long term relationships with the exceptional people who will grow up with you to change the world. 3) Learn how to love. You spent your young life looking for sex and trophies who you thought helped you feel good about yourself. Make intimacy a priority and if that means preserving yourself, your time, and your sexuality for those you love and waiting till you figure that out, that’s OK. 4) Spend more time getting to know your dad and being open with him. You are not going to have him much longer.” – Keith Ferrazzi, NYT Bestselling Author of Never Eat Alone and Who’s Got Your Back?, and CEO of Ferrazzi Greenlight
41) “My only regrets in life, both professionally and personally, is when I was not loyal or truthful to the people who helped me along the way. If I had done what was taught to me as a child throughout my life, things would have gone much easier.” – Bill Allen, Author of My Rad Career and Hollywood Actor
42) “All things considered, I couldn’t ask for a better experience in my 36 years. But we are living in a globalized era, despite the fact that many people never see beyond their corner of the world. At 18 again, I would travel and immerse myself in as many cultures as possible so that I could understand people and economies more fully later in life” – Ted Alling, Partner at Lamp Post Group
43) “I would have asked my 18-year-old self about lessons to teach my 13-year-old self, and then followed them. One would have been that it’s more important to be respected than liked. Another would be to do fewer magic tricks, because some people think magicians are creepy.” – Adam M. Grant, Ph.D. Wharton Professor and author of Give and Take
44) “When I was 18, I was busy learning a variety of skills, some of which ended up being helpful while others ended up being useless. This is fairly normal, I think. But in addition to learning skills, I also felt pretty unconfident and insecure about a lot of things. So if I could have go back and teach myself something, I don’t think it would be a specific skill; it would be more of a pep talk. I’d say, ‘Hey, 18-year-old self, keep working on stuff. Someday you’ll make something that matters to people. It’s okay if you get frustrated, but don’t hate yourself and don’t be unkind to others just because you don’t always see the path that lies ahead.’ Oh, I might also bring myself back a fake ID from the future. It would have made a few other things easier.” – Chris Guillebeau, NYT Bestselling Author and Founder of The Art of Non-Conformity
45) “I would have told myself to embrace fear. Fear isn’t always a sign of danger; sometimes it’s an internal reminder that you’re lacking a skill or knowledge that you need. The most powerful, inspirational people learn to use it as fuel rather than letting it restrain them or cause them to want to limit the success of others. I’m inspired by people who seize the alarm that fear provides and refuse to let it stop them from growing, learning, and standing for the things in which they believe.” – Seth Rogin, Chief Revenue Officer of Mashable
46) “Having made a wealth of mistakes in my life, it is interesting that you ask about what I would tell myself at 18 because what I did at 18 was the smartest thing I ever did and would unequivocally recommend it to any 18-year old. I spent two years living in Argentina as a volunteer for my church. While not everyone feels a connection to a faith, I would encourage everyone to spend a year or two at that age volunteering for a cause you believe in. Nothing will build a stronger foundation for your future than the growth you’ll make devoting yourself to serving others.” – Devin Thorpe, Champion of Social Good
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I feel so fortunate to have shared these amazing individuals’ words of advice with you, and, as previously mentioned, this collective modern-day “foundation for success” will become my curriculum as I embark on The Gap Year Experiment. Head on over to the newly launched site to receive more words of advice and follow the ultimate learning journey I am undergoing in order to help you take control of your own education.
Thank you, and cheers to your success!
(BONUS POINTS: “Comment” below with your favorite lessons from above, and share your thoughts after hearing what Tony Hsieh, the Founder of UGGs, pro athletes, and others have to say about establishing a foundation for future success!)
3 Ways to Optimize Your Life for Success
Welcome to the 21st Century! The era of the Internet and computers, lack of focus and superficiality. I know it sounds scary, maybe a little more exaggerated, but it’s true. We live in a world of short posts and 3-minute videos. We barely engage in deep learning, deep thinking, and deep focus to produce iPhone-level products or services. So, the majority of us are actually a failure, thousands of miles away from achieving our life goals and business visions. How do we turn things around? We need to optimize our lives.
Here are 3 tried and tested tips that will help optimize your life for success:
1. Upgrade your sleep
When I started my freelance writing career—about seven years ago—I was passionate and excited at the beginning. I’d fill my To-Do list with 6-10 items, worked until 12 am, set my alarm to go off at 3 am, and had my running shoes close to my bed before I went to sleep. However, I barely accomplished anything. I usually became weak and bored before noon.
I noticed that I was putting a huge strain on myself. I was sleep deprived, which is the primary reason why I didn’t have the energy and the drive to accomplish my tasks. Many studies have shown that sleep-deprivation affects productivity.
As soon as I began increasing my sleeping time from 4 hours to 7 hours, my whole life changed. I started producing a lot and earning a lot more than before while also improving my health. With more sleep, I get the emotional energy and willpower I need to read, learn, and optimize my career.
“By helping us keep the world in perspective, sleep gives us a chance to refocus on the essence of who we are. And in that place of connection, it is easier for the fears and concerns of the world to drop away.” – Arianna Huffington
2. Read every day
I get it. You’re in the middle-class struggling to survive. You simply have enough to deal with. Reading? That’s not included on your to-do list. Well, if that’s you, then you’re not alone. The global literacy rates are at an all-time high at 84 percent, which means people don’t read as much anymore.
We already have enough on our plates. In fact, a study by the National Endowment for the Arts has found that the reading culture among American adults has drastically declined. That’s a big issue in our world.
Nothing can prevent you from reading, not even your plate that’s chock-full of other life’s priorities. If you want to produce more and impact the world around you, you’ve got to read more and learn more.
Take a look at the visionaries and business titans in our world. All of them are avid readers and avid learners. Bill Gates is a bibliophile and Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, reveres books. In fact, Knight customized his library to the extent that, before you enter into his library, you have to take off your shoes and bow.
So, what would you do next? Take Roald Dahl’s advice, captured in this beautiful line of the poem: “So please, oh please, we beg, we pray / go throw your TV set away / and in its place, you can install / a lovely bookshelf on the wall.”
3. Use Pomodoro to time yourself
You can’t go far in life if you can’t stay totally focused on a task. If you want to achieve your goals, you have got to stay laser-focused on a single task before jumping on to another. Why? Because goals are not achieved in one session, they’re achieved in a series of tasks, one after the other.
To install the focus habit in your system; therefore, you need to use a time-management kind of “system” that will keep you firm and attentive on a specific project. Pomodoro is that time-management tool that will help you stay focused.
It’s an excellent app that lets you set a timer for a particular task. You can set it for 30, 60, or 90 minutes and stop working when it goes off. I use it all the time, and I can’t imagine my work life without it.
“I know when I stay focused, good things will undoubtedly happen.” – Marc Trestman
Optimizing your life for more power, passion, and productivity is not about working hard late at night or running multiple projects at a time. It’s about maintaining your health and recharging your energy (having a deep, quality sleep), updating your knowledge (by reading every day), and staying focused on a project—until you accomplished it (by using Pomodoro technique to boost your concentration).
Of course, developing these sets of habits is not easy. You’ll fail and get frustrated, but as the productivity guru Robin Sharma beautifully puts it, “all changes are hard at first, messy at the middle, and beautiful at the end.”
Which one of these three ways to optimize your life resonated most with you and why? Share your thoughts below!
If You Want Your Business to Grow, You Need to Increase Your Capacity in the Following 4 Areas
Every entrepreneur must come face to face with the reality that there is only a limited amount of time, money, and people that you can use within your current position. The question is how do we increase or maximize the things that we find limiting?
As we walk through our hectic and often over packed ten, twelve, or fourteen hour work days, one of the questions that we should be asking is “What can I do to get more, to do more?” Instead, we just put our heads down and plow through the ever growing mountain of work. We are limited by capacity.
Webster’s dictionary defines capacity as “the maximum amount that something can contain.” As an entrepreneur, we have to be a little more creative than the average person and find ways to increase our capacity.
Below, we’ll identify the four areas where we need more capacity and ways to get more with less:
Every human on this planet is granted twenty-four hours a day. That is it. Your capacity is a total of twenty-four hours. Within that amount of time you must manage several different demands. Our goal is to buy back our time, when we can, and operate at peak performance when we are accomplishing our daily task list.
First, without staying in performance shape, you will lose the ability to stay at optimal performance levels. Our bodies are truly a machine with an amazing capacity, but when it is abused by lack of sleep, improper nutrition, and lack of exercise, you are reducing the capacity at which you are able to work and function. The closer you are to peak performance, the more you are able to accomplish in a shorter amount of time.
Second is our mental condition. Here is what my experience has taught me. If I am mentally rested, I can think and make decisions faster because I can reason more quickly in addition to understanding the circumstances and information at an extremely fast pace.
When your brain is healthy, it becomes easier to absorb and process information at a lightning fast rate. Taking the time to allow your brain to rest will give it the ability to function at peak performance.
Third is our ability to train and delegate. So often, entrepreneurs are control freaks. No one can do it as good, as fast, or with the same passion as they can. While that may be true in most cases, you are only one person with twenty-four hours in a day.
You’ve got to delegate and accept people’s help. If you add one person that’s willing to give you eight hours of work a day, you have now bought back hours in your day to focus on activities that will generate more income and grow your business. Why wouldn’t you want to add more hours to your day by delegating out the appropriate task to qualified individuals?
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” – Zig Ziglar
Money tends to be a sensitive topic. We all have beliefs that were formed through our childhood on the concept of money. With many different views and beliefs on this topic, let’s just focus on the fact that money is a tool that will either help grow the company or a tool that limits a company’s growth.
It is always amazing that the faster a company grows, the greater the challenge of money becomes, and this could potentially cause the company to implode on its own success. How do we then increase the capacity and have more money available to keep the company healthy?
Here are a couple of things to watch out for:
- Keep an eye on your budget and get accurate figures.
- Look at your Accounts Receivables. If they get too long, they could cause significant cash flow issues.
- Find investment opportunities. There are many private investors that are often willing to invest in companies that have true growth with solid foundations.
- Look at additional profit generators, products, or services that fit within your current business model.
Each of these are ways to increase the capacity that money contributes to the growth of your business.
3. Space and Supply
I will never forget exactly where I was standing when I had a manufacture call and tell me they were unable to supply anymore products. They had sold us everything they had, and they weren’t going to have anything available to sell for at least another six months. At that time, we were selling customer printed t-shirts and had tens of thousands of orders that we needed to fulfill within the next thirty days.
Space and Supply are tied closely together. Space is often associated with the production. Do you have a space large enough to meet the demands of the supply? If production can only create 1,000 products a day and buyers need 5,000 a day, there is a conflict.
A business needs to understand that challenge, and there are only 3 solutions to this problem: The business figures out how to increase production within the current workable hours, adds more workable hours with the equipment and space, or adds more equipment and space to increase production.
Space and supplies are assets that can be used towards the business advantage. Here are a few questions to ask when making decisions based on space and supply.
- Evaluate your supply channel. Are they able to maintain a solid supply of your raw product materials to match your growth as a company?
- Are there back up supply manufactures that can create a safety net for your raw products?
- Evaluate the amount of space you have available along with the time the space is usable. Can you run a second or third shift with the current space and equipment?
“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Your employees are likely going to be the most important way to create more capacity. We talked briefly about delegating to qualified individuals to increase capacity around your own personal time. The next phase is to create more capacity by adding additional, trained people.
You need to create leaders of leaders instead of you being the leader of followers. Don’t miss this because the greatest of all companies focuses on increasing their capacity by training leaders of leaders and not just a loyal following.
Entrepreneurs tend to be a lonely bunch of souls. Too often, we are misunderstood and looked at with slight amount of annoyance. Others just don’t always know how to take someone that is passionately thinking outside the box.
People skills are a must in order to have more than just yourself work to achieve that dream. As an entrepreneur, develop the social skills to work with individuals that are different than yourself.
Here is a 3 step plan to have great capacity with people as your allies:
- Start by learning how to delegate your own tasks to buy back your time. Identify the tasks that are easiest to delegate and document how you do them. This will give you a specific job description, set achievable goals, and create a daily action plan that is now something that is teachable.
- Use this system and apply it to the other things you are currently doing. I would suggest building out an organization chart and dividing the different tasks you do within the company. Then create a plan that will allow you to hire the right person and move you onto the next area in the organization that you will systematize.
- Finally, create the culture. Culture is like a child, it will grow whether or not you pay attention to it. So be intentional. Learn what it takes to build a culture that attracts the employees that want to be there and grow with the company.
Each of these four areas has an incredible amount of potential to increase your capacity, and allow your business to grow. Don’t attempt to tackle everything at once. Identify just one area that you will commit to grow within the next three to six months. Take action and implement.
What is your next step? Share with us below!
The Importance of Failure: Why We Should Fail Forward
What Is failing forward? Will Smith said it best in a viral Instagram video that engaged the world. “You’ve gotta take a shot, you have to live at the edge of your capabilities. You gotta live where you’re almost certain you’re going to fail. Failure actually helps you to recognize the areas where you need to evolve. So fail early, fail often, fail forward.”
Failing forward is about using leverage on your mistakes and making a realistic assessment of the risks involved. It’s your ability to live with the downside, control your emotions and experiment with new approaches. When we fail forward, we need to look at the reason why we fail and understand that it’s all part of the process of achievement.
Here are 4 Reasons Why We Fail:
1. We Are Too Distracted
Distractions are everywhere. They can take us off course and could make it impossible to keep our mind on our goal or purpose. It’s important to be selective, strategic and supportive in our distractions. We all control certain aspects of our day, so be selective and prioritise tasks that are in line with your goals.
We should be strategic by understanding when we work best. Personally, I write more efficiently in the early mornings and late evenings. So that’s what I stick to. Try different things and see when you are least distracted. You’ll then be able to be supportive and generous with your time. Being supportive of others costs us little and drives our own success whilst boosting our health and happiness.
2. Lack of Self Belief
Lack of self belief runs differently from person to person. Our experiences, childhood history, genes, culture and life circumstances play a part in our self confidence. The truth is, we can’t alter the experiences that our past has given us. What we can do though, is change our thoughts to gain more belief in ourselves. Ways to increase our self-belief is to find out more about ourselves. We can do this by taking care of ourselves physically and emotionally. Giving ourselves a healthy support system and understanding our emotions are just a couple of ways to practice self-belief.
3. Fear of Failure
Failure often induces fear. When we fear failure, we allow ourselves to stop doing the things that can help us achieve our goals, help us move forward and open up possibilities we never thought were possible. We should have faith in ourselves and start to shift our inner dialogue from ‘not good enough’ to ‘more than enough’. If our inner critic takes the lead on self talk, then it’s more than likely we aren’t feeling good enough. It’s important to surround ourselves with positive people and positive thoughts.
Procrastination is a common reason for failure. It’s delaying or putting off a task or action to attend to at a later time. Procrastination is essentially giving in, to feel good. We prefer avoiding negative emotions and stressful tasks, which are the very things we procrastinate about. The first step to overcoming procrastination is recognising we do it.
We then need to understand why we do it and use appropriate strategies to prevent it from happening. We may not know that we are procrastinating and this can be damaging to reaching our full potential. With a solid understanding, we can get to the core of our reasons and make positive changes to fail forward.
Now that you know why we fail, here are the 3 ways you can fail forward:
1. Take Risks
When risks are taken, we generally overestimate the chances of something going wrong. What we focus on tends to magnify in our imagination and in return, causes us to misjudge an outcome of a situation. The reality is, the likelihood is often a far better return than we imagine it out to be. To take risks, we should not be afraid of failure.
2. Understanding Failure Should Be Your Motivation
It may sound comical but, be happy when you fail. We’ve been taught to believe that when we fail it’s because of bad attempts, bad judgment and bad luck at improving our lives. For example, we link failure with the colour red (to stop) and success with the colour green (to keep going). In reality, we are stronger and more courageous when we fail. It’s a sign of improvement, so we should recognise that failure is growth and if we’re not making mistakes, we are not really trying. Use failure as motivation and keep going.
Perseverance is the ability to recover from failure. Your chances of success is also dependent on your persistence and your willingness to persevere. You have two options when you fail: Become self-defeated or become resilient and encouraged. Perseverance requires a goal, a passion and patience. It’s important to set your own pace when persevering and not comparing your failures to others. In doing this, when we fail forward, we are more in tune with ourselves and more controlled with new approaches.
“Recognize that you will spend much of your life making mistakes. If you can take action and keep making mistakes, you gain experience.” – John C. Maxwell
Think of it this way. When we’re at the gym pushing ourselves in the weight room, the trainer would yell “One more rep!”. Our trainer wants us to succeed, but also wants us to fail. They want us to be uncomfortable to the point where our muscles fatigue. Why? Because of muscle adaptation. That’s where our muscle growth comes from. It’s the ability to learn how to get comfortable being uncomfortable. This concept doesn’t just apply physically within our muscles, it applies mentally and in our minds. In understanding this perspective, we can fail forward with more awareness and are in a better position to achieve success.
The Most Overlooked Element of Success (Spoiler Alert – It’s Not Mindset Nor Strategy)
It’s always important to have someone show you “the ropes” in the beginning stages in your business. When I started my own business venture two years ago, I hired numerous coaches and mentors across MULTIPLE disciplines to work on getting my business off the ground. Every coach with a different strategy and mindset technique to share, leaving me feeling like there’s no end to chasing for the “next best thing.”
Someone is always trying to give you their “Magic Pill”
You know the moment when you are desperate to start making money (and stop your savings from bleeding)? You click on a link that leads you to a sales page, that tells you the coach has “the best kept secret” or “the exact 7-step formula to start your business” – those of you who’ve been there know what I’m talking about.
You see, I had a weakness for that kind of copywriting. My heart would scream “Take my money and share your secret already!” Through pushing my own boundaries, implementing different strategies, and months after months of falling left, right and sideways – I realised strategy and mindset alone is not enough to get your career or business off the ground. You need the right conditions.
You can’t copy and paste success or failure. You need to have the right environment in order to gain traction and take things to the next level. I’m not referring to external conditions – because the best conditions that cannot be “ctrl+copy+pasted” from someone else’s success formula are allowing yourself to fail so many times that you become thick-skinned, so you no longer feel self conscious.
“Dreams don’t work unless you do.”– John C. Maxwell
Imagine you’re trying to grow a beautiful garden of flowers. You’ve got all the items: landscaping tools, the instructions, the commitment and all the love and attention you can give to your garden. But wait a minute – you need the right conditions to be met. That’s when you need to look into temperature, amount of water, sunlight, pH of the soil, and pest control to make sure your flowers can flourish and blossom.
The same goes with your career and business. You need to have the right conditions in place, and create the perfect environment for yourself and your work to thrive. That’s why we need to take things one step further to close the gap that acts as a bridge from where you are to where you need to be.
We need to open up the dialogue to talk about how we can get more support as entrepreneurs, because it’s not written in the “Rulebook of Success.” We need to talk about the areas we may have overlooked that are just as important as Mindset & Strategy.
It’s Time To Fill In The Gaps
I’m telling you, just the realisation itself blew my mind. Because having a thriving business is no longer just about following someone else’s “7-Step Formula” or a “blueprint” and hope that it works for you. It always makes me chuckle when people use that word, no one’s business is identical in my personal opinion. Neither is it about journaling your butt off.
In more practical terms, building your business upon the right conditions is about these following things, and so much more. It’s about not needing validation from other people but yourself. It’s about finding the right support community. It’s about going through the process of deep, inner work. It’s about fitting your life and business and fun and family into your schedule.
It’s about confronting all of your fears and having difficult conversations that you’ve put aside. It’s about cultivating experience and building thick skin from your failures (so, you can not fail even if you used someone else’s fool-proof method). Building a successful business is shedding your old identity and building a new one – all the while finding new people along the way that support your vision.
“There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs.” – Zig Ziglar
Shower Love Onto Every Part of Your Business
Your success is built upon all the other things that happen in between and along the journey for every self-made person that no one told you about. Every element of non-business related strategy is a piece of the puzzle that shouldn’t be overlooked. That’s why I’m calling the intentional business owners and entrepreneurs forward – to focus your energy on plowing through every inch of your soil and give attention to things that are also “behind the scenes” – so that you can build a thriving empire upon a rich, fertilized foundation.
What part of this article resonated most with you and why? Share your thoughts below!
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