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What I’ve Learned Working In Finance For Six Years (Hint: It Applies To Everyone)

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I’ve been in the corporate world of finance now for more than six years. I get everyone from kids straight out of college, to older guys and girls that have been out of the workforce for ages, to people looking for a career change asking about the finance industry.

I’ve found the real lessons I’ve gained from working in finance are far broader than just one industry. Finance has taught me life skills and how to deal with people. While the startup world was fun, the finance industry gave me some extra skills.

Here’s what I learned working in finance:

 

1. The grass is never greener.

Over the years, many of my colleagues have left finance to start their own thing or join some new age fintech that apparently has all the answers – that is, until they come up against credit risk or accidentally fund terrorism through their products and services. The grass is never greener.

“Every company, whether it’s a large bank or one you started yourself, is going to have challenges. It comes down to which flavors of challenges you like the most”

Maybe you have to be really innovative in your career but don’t mind lack of funding or small travel budgets.

Maybe you have to work with really smart people but don’t mind being in a low budget office. The people I’ve met in finance that are always chasing greener grass never seem to find it.

At some point, we can’t avoid challenges or people we don’t like – they exist in all companies whether we like it or not. Learning to deal with these facts is how I’ve stayed in finance for six years and not given up on my career.

 

2. There are mediocre people everywhere we go.

In finance, like any industry, there are mediocre people. Some of them are uneducated; some of them lack critical thinking; some of them have zero sales ability; some are afraid of customers; some of them love a good company paid breakfast for no good reason. We can’t avoid mediocre people.

“What I’ve learned through my years in finance is that it’s not that people are mediocre or dumb; it’s that everyone has different priorities”

Some people want to leave at 5:01 pm to be with their kids and that’s okay.

Just because we don’t prioritize our career and our KPIs, doesn’t mean any of us are dumb because of it. There are many levels of intelligence within a company and all are acceptable.

I’ve visited a few unique and prestigious businesses in Silicon Valley where everyone is a genius and these companies spend half their time arguing who the smartest person is in the room rather than getting down to business and solving a real problem in the world.

 

3. There are good leaders and bad ones.

Don’t get emotional about it, just spend as much time as you can with the good ones. There will be leaders you encounter who are trying it out and who’ve been given a chance. There will be other leaders you meet that are born for the role.

Everyone has the right to step up and be a leader regardless of their ability.

My career in finance has been focused on getting around the good leaders. Sometimes you’ll have to work for a bad leader and the key is to suck it up, eat shit for a while, and then leave and work for a leader you believe in.

 

4. Your career is never going to be full of highlights.

I was on the homepage of our company’s website twice in one year. Many never get this chance ever in their career and it happened to me twice in one year.

Then there was a year after that where nothing happened. There were no big milestones, no punching the air and plenty of low points involving customers.

In finance, and in the business world, it’s never going to be a back-to-back show-reel of Instagram highlights where we win every day.

There will be periods of massive growth and then there will be months and even years where nothing happens – times where we show up for work each day expecting something big to happen and it doesn’t.

 

5. The need for a side hustle.

Our career can’t always be full of highlights, which is why we need a side hustle. Think of it like another avenue that we can use to kick goals, grow and broaden your skills. For me, outside of working in finance, it became social media and blogging. Over the last five years of my finance career, I’ve hustled my face off learning somewhat non-related skills that have nothing to do with finance.

Side hustles allow us to explore our wild side. Working in finance can be quite dry and without my side hustle, I may have succumbed to suppressing my emotions, wearing a corporate mask and dressing in a suit and tie every day.

Side hustles helped me keep it real. Some days I work in jeans and a t-shirt. Other days I wear the cliché suit. My side hustle helped me live a little and get some perspective on what the finance industry was really about. The answer? Like every business, finance is about people.

 

6. Once we understand people, we’re set.

People go through a range of emotions every day. Once we understand that what’s happening in business could be entirely down to the fact they’re human, and nothing to do with business, we see the business landscape differently.

We become more compassionate to stakeholders, we treat customers with kindness and we quit thinking that we’re a freaking genius that has all the answers and if only people would listen to us the business would make 10X the profits.

Business is about people and by understanding them we can see it for what it is. Our customers are also people, and our interactions with them become easier when we come to grips with this fact.

If I were to get you to learn one thing, it would be the basics of psychology. Most of the key points can be Googled for free but the value they bring will help whether you’re in finance or any another industry.

 

7. We’re all constantly growing in secret.

I always thought that GM’s, CEO’s, etc, had it made. I always thought that they woke up each day and came to work with a killer instinct. The finance industry taught me I was wrong. The leaders we admire with those big job titles are just like you and me: they’re scared as F.

The difference is that the leaders we admire are growing in secret.

You think they have it made but when you get in their head, you realize that even with their success they suffer the same human pitfalls that you and I do. The difference is they embrace those pitfalls and take action regardless.

Even your heroes are fearful when they have to perform, but they do it anyway.

 

8. Your happiness doesn’t stay the same.

At the start of a new role in any industry, we’re loaded with energy. We come to work with new strategies and different ways to acquire customers. Then a few years go by and we become a bit negative. We see the same challenges over and over and the same people failing to take action.

This can lead to unhappiness in our career.

What working in finance has taught me is that there will be times we’re really happy with our role and other times where we are unhappy.

What we learn in the unhappy times helps us when we’re living through the happy times. If you expect to get into any industry and be blazing on fire for decades straight you’ll be sadly disappointed. One solution I’ve found is to change up my career and try new things.

Maybe you start in a sales role and end up working in product or risk. Maybe you work in customer service and end up in a strategy role.

Much of the unhappiness is tied to boredom and changing roles can help reboot our happiness at work.

 

9. Innovation is much harder than we think.

Geez, if there’s is one thing I have seen a lot of in many financial services businesses it’s innovation. So many companies have tried it and it never works. Sometimes it’s too much red tape that is put around the business or idea which ultimately suffocates the life out of any opportunity to innovate.

Other times it’s the wrong people that kill the innovation.

“Surprisingly, one thing that makes innovation really challenging is an abundance of resources”

Large businesses can afford to throw lots of money against the wall at innovation whereas startups can’t.

The limitations and budget restraints a startup has are often why they can be nimble and innovative. In the end, true innovation is damn hard. If it were easy, then many businesses would be more successful than they are.

The key is not to give up on innovation. It’s a slow process to embed innovation into the culture of a business and get results. True innovation requires a lot more failure than the leaders in the business world are often comfortable with.

It’s only by looking at what doesn’t work that we find truly innovative solutions.

 

10. It’s not about networking: it’s about helping.

Someone emailed me yesterday and said, “Hey I’d like to network with you.”

I thought to myself “Wow that sounds really silly!”

This idea that we have to network is stupid. What makes more sense is to build relationships just like we would with friends. Networking is focused too much on what we can get and what we will give in return. It’s transactional and it feels unnatural.

The subtle difference is that when we build a relationship with someone (instead of network with them) we’re not seeking anything from them. There’s no expectation and that’s where the magic lies right there.

 

11. We all experience bad publicity. It’s how we handle it.

Even monster success stories like Facebook have bad publicity. Working in finance can have some ugly moments. Not everyone is honest and there will be times where the business you work for or even your own business may face negative publicity.

No company or industry (including finance) is perfect. Businesses make mistakes just like humans do because ‘Business’ is just a label for a group of humans doing their life’s work.

Expecting the company you work for to be a perfect corporate citizen is a fantasy.

 

12. Listening to customers is not easy but it works.

Working in finance has allowed me to see my fair share of angry customers. For years, I tried to defend my position and this caused me to miss what the customer was saying.

After a while in finance, I learned that if you shut up and listen to the client, you learn much more. Sometimes they might yell at you for 30-minutes flat. Sit there and listen.

By listening, you get the chance to understand the problem fully and it gets your mind ticking with ideas. When people feel they are being properly listened to, they’re more receptive to the solutions you present for their problems.

It’s freaking revolutionary when you listen more. Not just in business but in life too.

 

13. What you have for lunch matters.

I was eating chicken nuggets in a bread roll for ages and it caused me to be sleepy in the afternoon. This killed my productivity and my desire to work effectively so I would cram all my challenging tasks into the morning.

Once I learned what a proper lunch was and began eating one every day, my energy, mood and productivity improved. I’m still getting better but what I learned is to monitor carefully what I eat if I want the energy to excel in my career. Bread, at lunchtime in particular, tends to suck away my energy later in the afternoon.

 

14. Kindness and compassion are superpowers.

Your humility separates you from the pack. Trying my best in my finance career to show compassion and be kind to people has helped me immensely. These two traits are rarer than you think.

In the business world, kindness and compassion are the glue that sticks all of the right opportunities together for you and presents them as a beautiful collage.

The reason I’ve had some cool opportunities (particularly of late) is that I’ve tried to be different instead of being like everyone else. I’ve questioned the way business works and experimented with kindness and compassion.

It turns out these two traits make people see me in a weird way. It’s almost like these two traits make me more human.

Kindness and compassion are about seeing the best in people before making assumptions that they’re out to screw you. Kindness and compassion are about believing in the power of the human species above all else.

 

15. Taking off the mask is freeing.

For the first half of my career in finance, I wore a mask. It’s hard to admit but it’s true. I used corporate language like “revenue targets” and “customer value proposition” and took a notepad to meetings to look smart. I wore the nicely ironed suit with the cute little cufflinks.

I said hello politely to everyone and was graceful. When it came to social media, I promoted the company and supported my colleagues. I told people I liked what they did even when I didn’t.

I did all of this because I thought that being fake and wearing a mask of bravery and perfection was what you had to do to succeed. I thought that’s how business land worked.

I found that all of this acting became exhausting and it was incongruent with who I really was. Deep down, I was an entrepreneur and a highly creative person that wanted to express himself.

After a string of bizarre situations – like narrowly missing cancer and seeing a few people close to me like my grandma pass away – I decided to throw away the mask.

I started dropping the odd F-Bomb. I told people politely when I didn’t like their idea. I became brutally honest with clients and stopped telling them what they wanted to hear.

All of this led to the real version of me being on display. Some people liked it and others weren’t interested.

“Either way, you can’t keep faking it till you make it at work every day because eventually, you’ll fall down from all the BS and wonder whose life you’ve been living for the last six years”

 

16. Scheduling holidays in advance provides additional motivation.

Let’s not pretend we’re 100% motivated each week at work. Some weeks will suck and that’s normal. Booking holidays in advance gives me a permanent memory of yet another thing that’s great about life: taking breaks.

The first half of my finance career involved almost no holidays. Not only did I become burnt out, but I also didn’t have as much to look forward to. Then I began booking in holidays to New Zealand, the USA and Japan. My motivation changed. I’d work harder leading up to holiday time so that I could take an even bigger break away from it all.

Holidays became like a reset button for my finance career and they gave me something else to aim for other than boring old KPIs.

 

17. Working really long hours means there’s a problem.

There have been a lot of times I’ve encountered people in finance working their butt off. I used to think it’s cool; now I see it as a problem.

If you’re working long hours, there is a problem. You’re either unproductive, distracted or under-resourced. All of these issues can be resolved and working stupidly hard is not the answer.

“Productivity is the opposite of working long hours”

 

18. You’ll have to speak in front of others.

That’s why I tell everybody to get their arse to Toastmasters and learn how to speak without having a thousand Ums and Ahs between every word. Public speaking is a basic form of communication and mastering it is how you get across your ideas, visions and tell phenomenal stories.

No matter your speaking ability in front of others, it’s time to improve it.

 

19. Most people have no idea about business so don’t feel so bad.

Yep, that’s the truth! All these people you meet in business that sound like they know what they’re talking about often don’t. They are just regurgitating something they heard or read which they thought was right.

We all pretend like business is an art and so many times it’s not what it’s made out to be. The science of business has more to do with life skills than anything else. Most books about business try and overcomplicate something that isn’t that hard.

“The greatest challenge and complexity with business is understanding its simplicity”

 

20. Change is guaranteed. Why not embrace it?

And here’s the final thing I’ll say: whether you work in finance like me or in another industry, change is guaranteed. One of these will happen to you:

–    Your industry will be disrupted if it hasn’t been already

–    Your company will go through a restructure, merger or be acquired which may cause you to lose your job

–    The business you are a part of could fail

–    Or a natural disaster or manmade event like a GFC could screw with your career

Change is guaranteed in your career so rather than avoiding it, what I’ve learned in finance is to embrace it. See the fork in the road as the greatest gift you’ve ever been given.

Welcome change with open arms otherwise it will be the kiss of death to your perfect, cookie-cutter career in whatever.

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

Tim is best known as a long-time contributor on Addicted2Success. Tim's content has been shared hundreds of thousands of times and he has written multiple viral posts all around success, personal development, motivation, and entrepreneurship. During the day Tim works with the most iconic tech companies in the world, as an adviser, to assist them in expanding into Australia. By night, Tim coaches his students on the principles of personal development and the fundamentals of entrepreneurship. You can connect with Tim through his website www.timdenning.net

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Matt Swintz

    May 7, 2018 at 9:18 pm

    Thanks, Tim!

    As someone who is relatively early on in my professional life, I really appreciate this wisdom.

    #1 is a big part of my life because it seems like there’s always something better I should have done.

    #10 sticks out as well because I have always felt awkward trying to “network”. Your thoughts here echo the book Never Eat Alone where they talk about being a connector and helping people as opposed to what networking is typically thought of as.

    I really enjoyed this article!

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Success Advice

One Question You Must Answer to Ensure Personal Success

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I don’t believe in quick fixes, in get-rich-quick schemes, or any other system that guarantees instant success with only a modicum of effort. But, I do believe it’s possible to condense great strings of logical thought and intellectual algorithms into basics. I like to keep things simple! Many of my clients love the fact that I don’t overly complete things, and frankly, so do I! I like to ask simple questions whose answers can be had quickly but require some focus in obtaining the outcome.

Here’s the question I always ask: What is standing between your current reality (where you are now) and your ultimate vision (where you want to be)? Are the impediments psychological, physical, emotional or some other reason?

Until you answer what is causing the difference between your AS IS and your SHOULD BE, you will be stuck spinning your wheels in the mud and the muck of the former. This is an important question that requires a level of mental self-examination. And the answer to this question may require a lifetime of introspection. It is an important question to answer because if you know where you want to go that provides direction but examining why you are not there yet can provide momentum. (In other words, by answering the question it may get you there faster!)

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston S. Churchill

It’s just like following a road map. A map is useless unless you know two things, where you are, and where you want to go. What might be stopping you (or at least slowing you down) from the ultimate destination of your passion and life’s fulfilment?

I’ve asked many people about this over the years and have heard these four reasons that keep people from moving forward.

1. Lack of vision

How do you plan to get there, if you don’t know where “there” is? The most difficult undertaking in the world is to sit quietly with a blank sheet of paper and chart out your life. I know, I have many blank sheets of paper to prove it. However, I also found out that it only takes one sheet, with a few well-crafted lines of thought to give you the direction you need. But you need to start!

2. Lack of goals

So, you know where you want to go, you just don’t know how to get there. The second hardest thing in the world is to have a sheet of paper with your ultimate destination on top, and the rest blank as you ask yourself, now what or how do I get to my vision? The process of functional decomposition means breaking down the larger process into steps that are both actionable and motivational. In other words, the steps are small enough to do and you remain motivated because they are so small.

“Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.” – Jim Rohn

3. You don’t believe you can get there

You want to, but there is a script running through your head telling you to go home, make some chicken soup and don’t leave the house until these foolish notions of greatness are gone. Think about it, your parents never did what you are trying to do, no one in your family has ever done it, you are far too old (or too young) to do that, you don’t have the right education…your rationalizing can go on for a lifetime! Here is my suggestion when it comes to running those self-deprecating scripts: STOP IT!

4. You are lazy

You won’t admit this to yourself, but perhaps you are just plain lazy. I’ve seen it so many times; individuals majoring in minors. Performing high fun, low payoff activities instead of the low fun, high payoff activities. (And, by the way, who ever said that a high payoff activity can’t be fun? There’s that darn script again.) As a species we are inclined to take the path of least resistance, but that path may not lead us to our vision, but you must admit, we are having a great time NOT moving toward our vision! Laziness is not “doing nothing.” It’s doing the wrong thing because that’s what you want to do, and, very often, we know it’s the wrong thing to do!

There you have the four possible things that might be holding you back from the realization of your vision. Are any of them hitting home? Answer this question before you move on:

What is standing between my current reality and my ultimate vision of success?

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4 Character Traits Blocking Success From Entering Your Life

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Some days you wake up full of energy and ready to face the day. The challenges you gave yourself the day before seems almost too easy. However, there are also other days where you find yourself without the desire and energy to move forward. Operating from this mindset, you lose productive time, counted first in minutes, then hours. Sometimes your loss of productivity can be measured in days, weeks and months of missed opportunities.   

Since you will not wake up every day bursting with excitement, you must find a way to summon the energy necessary to pound out another story for a publication, work on your social media content plan and write new copy for your website.

To understand why you are unable to take the actions required for success, you must first identify what blocks you. You can’t overcome challenges you aren’t aware of, and this is the juncture separating those who succeed from those who don’t.

Here are the four main character defects that block success:

1. Apathy

Apathy is exhibited as a lack of concern. It shows up when you are tired or stretched too thin. Many entrepreneurs work one or more jobs while attempting to launch a business, whether online or brick and mortar. When progress can’t be seen, it is easy to stop caring and give up.

2. Procrastination

Procrastination can occur when you get up ready to give all you’ve got to your endeavor, but first you check out an episode of your favorite Netflix show while you have coffee. After eight hours of binge-watching, your productive mindset is gone which leaves you demoralized. This in turn brings you back to apathy, triggers fear and causes more procrastinating.

3. Fear

Fear is a corrosive emotion everyone struggles with, and if you are not careful, it will absolutely stop you in your tracks. Fear will say you cannot obtain your dreams. The most successful entrepreneurs and business leaders grapple with anxiety, worry and apprehension, yet you rarely see them paralyzed by their fearfulness. Like them, you can’t defeat your fear unless you identify it. With an insightful mentor, you can easily determine what you are afraid of. Once it is recognized, you’ll find the strength to walk through it.   

“Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will.” – James Stephens

4. Overwhelm

Overwhelm occurs when you commit to more than you are capable of doing. Balance and giving the appropriate amount of time to all aspects of life is a tremendous challenge. Have you found yourself overwhelmed when a friend asks a favor of you while you are trying to meet a deadline at work and maintain focus on your entrepreneurial side project? Do you worry how you’ll ever find the time to get it all done? Often when this occurs, we may mentally shut down and accomplish nothing.

To counter the deficits listed above, you must identify, then develop the opposite, positive traits necessary for success. It’s important to understand the “why” of each attribute because only then can you fully tap into the power they offer to help you accomplish your goals.

Here are the four traits to counter the above traits with:

1. Purpose

Purpose gives voice to why you are alive. It tells you and others what you are working toward and why. Living out your purpose is the single greatest weapon against apathy. Knowing your purpose gives you a standard with which you can measure your progress. It motivates you to think, act and ultimately, to succeed.

2. Action

Action is the opposite of procrastination. When your effort is focused on achieving an objective, action propels you forward. Breaking a large project down into small, manageable steps, you’ll gain the needed traction to successfully reach your goal!

3. Courage

Courage is built by first facing, then walking through your fears. Courage gives you strength to do what you think is impossible. Developing a relationship with a mentor, someone willing to tell you the truth about what they see, is crucial to success in this area. With help, you can first identify, then make the adjustments necessary to identify and release the fear blocking you.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston S. Churchill

4. Focus

Focus is the final attribute. What you give your attention to is the single most important factor influencing your success. You become what you focus on. When you focus on your purpose, take the necessary actions and develop the courage to bust through, you win!

This is not an all-inclusive list, it’s simply a starting point. As you tackle and overcome your grosser defects, the subtler ones will begin to surface. Slowly, with help from your trusted mentor, you will work and grow through these challenges.  

As you become stronger, you’ll be able to withstand additional demands. You meet them head-on with the new skill set you’ll develop as you let your old ones go. You will be more effective, positive and energetic along with ready to take any action necessary. You are a winner!

Which one of the character traits above do you need to focus on most in order to achieve success? Let us know in the comments below!

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6 Important Decisions to Make to Have a Successful Career

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Would you rather paint your bedroom blue or beige? What is your usual coffee go-to order: a mocha or a macchiato? Should you take the bus or the train to work today? Decisions are everywhere. They are the ones behind our choices and the ones behind all consequences that we face for those choices.

Life is riddled with decisions at every intersection, and some say that those who are the best decision-makers can actually make the most of their time on this planet. Sure, inspirational and spiritual speakers have a lot to say when it comes to the matters of fate, luck or destiny, but only the successful know that a man is truly capable of shaping their own as per their choices.

From choosing on whom to delegate that difficult task to knowing when to bring up a tricky topic during a meeting with shareholders, decisions have the potential to shape your careers as well. If you have been wondering about the ways that you can improve your career, you can consider bringing in some smart decisions in your life right now.

What are the decisions that can help you have a successful career? Since decisions play such a huge role in shaping our lives and careers, you may wish to pick up a few that help you scale higher in your career as well.

Here are 6 of the most important decisions to bring into your life today so that you can take your career to newer heights:

1. Put your goals on paper

Sure, it’s great to have goals for your career, but simply letting them wander about in your mind is not going to help you achieve them, you know. That is why you need to have a list of goals that you have set for yourself – on paper.

Maintain a journal (virtual or offline, whichever works for you) that enlists your career objectives and goals according to short-term and long-term ones. For example, you can put upskilling in short-term goals and moving to a higher managerial position by the end of three years as a long-term goal.

Establish parity in the short-term and long-term goals so that you can synthesise them when the time comes. Jotting down the objectives will help you have a clear idea of where you stand and the way that you should go to bring about the positive changes in your career.

2. Bring in a daily dose of positivity

Let’s face it, all of us have encountered setbacks in our professional lives. The most important lesson to take from those setbacks is to never become pessimistic about what you can achieve. Positivity has helped many to soar the skies when it comes to their careers, and with a conscious decision to eliminate all sorts of negative thoughts from your mind can help you in doing the same too.

You will find a bunch of success stories that all start and end with how important it is to persevere in the face of adversities and letting your positive aura shine through in dark times. One of the smartest things that you can thus do for your career is to decide to chuck all negativity (as well as toxic acquaintances) that make you doubt your abilities and pull you down.

“Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.” – James Cash Penney

3. Hone your writing skills

No matter which industry you belong to, an impressive writing style in this fast-paced age of digital communication truly has the power to take you places when it comes to becoming more successful in your career.

The blessing that is the web has brought on a range of online tools and resources that you can put to good use for improving your writing skills. If you need to review your official documents and emails, then try online tools to edit and proofread your documents efficiently. You can also use online tools and tutorials to pick up tricks that help you sharpen your writing and make it devoid of common mistakes we all prone to making.

4. Upskill yourself proactively

Whether it is learning to code or taking up creative writing classes, you should decide to upskill proactively throughout your career. Upskilling has benefited more than one, and when the time comes for a job switch to move on to better prospects, you can always leverage the additional skills picked up earlier. As we move towards a faster and more digitised work sphere, it is best to attune oneself to the latest trends and in-demand skills of your industry and beyond to make sure that you are prepared when it is time to take the plunge.

5. Reflect on each day

When you are at work, the days seem to go by in a dizzying blur, leaving you breathless from the sheer pressure of work and tasks that you have to manage throughout the day. Deciding to spare time for yourself despite your busy schedule ensures both personal and professional growth, as leading psychologists opine.

Treat each day as a lesson, and you will end up with a long list of things that you learnt from each of them as they went by. An excellent way to do this is to keep a journal, but if you do not feel up to writing at the end of the busy day, you can always unwind while listening to your favourite music and reflect on the day that was.

6. Pick up a healthy lifestyle

Lastly, it is important to decide to be healthy and fit for only by that will you be at your productive peak to help you achieve all that you want to in your professional sphere. Devote some time to exercise every day and have a healthy diet.

You are sure to find many benefits of having a healthy lifestyle when you rise and shine to go to work with renewed vigour every day that helps you create innovative designs or brainstorm for killer marketing tactics. You never know which hidden potential of yours gets unlocked by facing work with a positive and beaming attitude every day, so why not take a leap of faith?

“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.” – Napoleon Hill

Staying ahead of the competition, working overtime, managing piles of emails and getting stuck in the daily conundrums of work may sometimes leave you wondering as to where it is that you are headed when it comes to your career. Cruise through your career like a pro as these six decisions present a world of benefits for your personal and professional growth.

What decisions have you made that have helped you grow professionally? Comment below!

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4 of the World’s Greatest Thinkers Share Their Secrets to Living the Good Life

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It takes a lot of effort, dedication, and open-mindedness to lead a good life of excellent health, wealth, love and happiness. As a personal trainer, and a human being, part of my life revolves around understanding how the human mind works and how to help myself, and the people around me, make decisions that put their lives on the right track.

We only live once thus we have to make the best out of our journey. One of the greatest ways to learn how to live is by learning from those who have lead the good life themselves.

Here are four of the greatest thinkers secrets to live a good life:

1. Jordan Peterson: Treat yourself like someone you’re responsible for helping

Ever heard of the term, ‘Treat yourself like you treat your best friend?” As corny as it sounds, this tip holds water. You need to be kind to yourself, and you must be compassionate. In fact, studies suggest that self-compassion is more critical to your well being than self-esteem.

If this is true, why is it hard for many people to make friends with themselves? The answer, according to Jordan Peterson, lies in the fact that you`ve been around your imperfect self for so long that all you can see is a flawed human being.

A person, still according to Peterson, will deride his whole existence just because, in his eyes, he’s the ugly, ashamed, frightened, worthless, inadequate, insignificant, resentful, defensive descendant of Adam. Peterson suggests you will gain inner peace when you see yourself through the eyes of a loving coach trying to lead their imperfect mentee to the best possible results.

2. Leonardo da Vinci: Understand how your mind works

Michael J. Gelb, the author of How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every day, believes Dimostrazione – the Italian translation of demonstration – is one of Da Vinci`s seven principles to his unmatched intelligence. The Italian sculpture, inventor, musician, geologist, and mathematician had a special knack for examining how things work, including his mind, and he made sure to document his musings on paper so he could understand himself better. Before he died, Da Vinci left one of his trustees a 10,000-paper journal full of notes, questions, designs and even jokes and fables.

To reap the benefits of dimonstrazione, you need to regularly detach yourself from the digital world for a few minutes of ruminating and journaling. Question your thoughts, beliefs, and why you/people do things in specific ways. Doing this will spark your creativity and help you solve deeply-rooted problems much easier.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo da Vinci

3. Richard Dawkins: Avoid the trial/error trap

Some may think making lots of mistakes is the best way to learn how to do something. According to Richard Dawkins, making so many mistakes is a waste of time and can sometimes be fatal. In his opinion, most of what you learn should come from “simulation.” He believes one should study the best and worst types of people, emulate their good and avoid their bad.

Most of the time, all you need is to follow someone else`s wheel instead of trying to invent your own – at least until you`re strong enough to lead your way. Additional tip: Get coaching or a mentor who`s 20 years older than you. A good one will save you lots of time, effort and money.

4. Carl Sagan: The universe is not required to be in harmony with ambition

Be flexible and formless, then adapt to the universe instead of trying to bend it to your will – which may not happen. To Carl Sagan, a man should understand that life won’t always give him what he wants, but he must use what life gives him for his better good. If life throws you a  tomato, make a soup of it. Many successful people spent decent parts of their lives drifting between careers only to realize later that they wouldn’t have made it without those career wanderings.

You must also understand that the purpose of a goal isn’t to hit the target but to evolve into the type of person who can achieve his goals. You won’t always win if you swing for the fences with every shot, but your track record will be far better than someone who plays it safe not because of your extraordinary genes but because the type of goal you chose for yourself forced you to step out of your shell and grow.

“Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.” – Carl Sagan

Take great care of your mind. Read good books, understand your cognitive biases and take courses in lateral thinking and problem solving. Your mind is your most important asset and it’s a great shame if you fail to use it well.

What is your secret to living the good life? Let us know your secrets in the comments below!

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One Question You Must Answer to Ensure Personal Success

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I don’t believe in quick fixes, in get-rich-quick schemes, or any other system that guarantees instant success with only a modicum of effort. But, I do believe it’s possible to condense great strings of logical thought and intellectual algorithms into basics. I like to keep things simple! Many of my clients love the fact that I don’t overly complete things, and frankly, so do I! I like to ask simple questions whose answers can be had quickly but require some focus in obtaining the outcome. (more…)

Biagio Sciacca, known to his friends as Bill, was a lifelong resident of Pittston, PA. He is the owner of Intelligent Motivation, Inc. a global consulting and training firm specializing in management and leadership training as well as psychological assessment for hiring and staff development. He is the author of several books relating to goal setting, and his third book, Provocative Leadership, is publishing soon. Now residing in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, he divides his time between his international coaching and training clients, writing his next book and wandering aimlessly on the beach. Feel free to contact Bill at bill@intelligentmotivationinc.com or schedule a call with him by going to www.intelligentmotivationinc.com and clicking on the “set up a call” tab.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Matt Swintz

    May 7, 2018 at 9:18 pm

    Thanks, Tim!

    As someone who is relatively early on in my professional life, I really appreciate this wisdom.

    #1 is a big part of my life because it seems like there’s always something better I should have done.

    #10 sticks out as well because I have always felt awkward trying to “network”. Your thoughts here echo the book Never Eat Alone where they talk about being a connector and helping people as opposed to what networking is typically thought of as.

    I really enjoyed this article!

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Success Advice

One Question You Must Answer to Ensure Personal Success

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personal success
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I don’t believe in quick fixes, in get-rich-quick schemes, or any other system that guarantees instant success with only a modicum of effort. But, I do believe it’s possible to condense great strings of logical thought and intellectual algorithms into basics. I like to keep things simple! Many of my clients love the fact that I don’t overly complete things, and frankly, so do I! I like to ask simple questions whose answers can be had quickly but require some focus in obtaining the outcome.

Here’s the question I always ask: What is standing between your current reality (where you are now) and your ultimate vision (where you want to be)? Are the impediments psychological, physical, emotional or some other reason?

Until you answer what is causing the difference between your AS IS and your SHOULD BE, you will be stuck spinning your wheels in the mud and the muck of the former. This is an important question that requires a level of mental self-examination. And the answer to this question may require a lifetime of introspection. It is an important question to answer because if you know where you want to go that provides direction but examining why you are not there yet can provide momentum. (In other words, by answering the question it may get you there faster!)

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston S. Churchill

It’s just like following a road map. A map is useless unless you know two things, where you are, and where you want to go. What might be stopping you (or at least slowing you down) from the ultimate destination of your passion and life’s fulfilment?

I’ve asked many people about this over the years and have heard these four reasons that keep people from moving forward.

1. Lack of vision

How do you plan to get there, if you don’t know where “there” is? The most difficult undertaking in the world is to sit quietly with a blank sheet of paper and chart out your life. I know, I have many blank sheets of paper to prove it. However, I also found out that it only takes one sheet, with a few well-crafted lines of thought to give you the direction you need. But you need to start!

2. Lack of goals

So, you know where you want to go, you just don’t know how to get there. The second hardest thing in the world is to have a sheet of paper with your ultimate destination on top, and the rest blank as you ask yourself, now what or how do I get to my vision? The process of functional decomposition means breaking down the larger process into steps that are both actionable and motivational. In other words, the steps are small enough to do and you remain motivated because they are so small.

“Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.” – Jim Rohn

3. You don’t believe you can get there

You want to, but there is a script running through your head telling you to go home, make some chicken soup and don’t leave the house until these foolish notions of greatness are gone. Think about it, your parents never did what you are trying to do, no one in your family has ever done it, you are far too old (or too young) to do that, you don’t have the right education…your rationalizing can go on for a lifetime! Here is my suggestion when it comes to running those self-deprecating scripts: STOP IT!

4. You are lazy

You won’t admit this to yourself, but perhaps you are just plain lazy. I’ve seen it so many times; individuals majoring in minors. Performing high fun, low payoff activities instead of the low fun, high payoff activities. (And, by the way, who ever said that a high payoff activity can’t be fun? There’s that darn script again.) As a species we are inclined to take the path of least resistance, but that path may not lead us to our vision, but you must admit, we are having a great time NOT moving toward our vision! Laziness is not “doing nothing.” It’s doing the wrong thing because that’s what you want to do, and, very often, we know it’s the wrong thing to do!

There you have the four possible things that might be holding you back from the realization of your vision. Are any of them hitting home? Answer this question before you move on:

What is standing between my current reality and my ultimate vision of success?

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4 Character Traits Blocking Success From Entering Your Life

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Some days you wake up full of energy and ready to face the day. The challenges you gave yourself the day before seems almost too easy. However, there are also other days where you find yourself without the desire and energy to move forward. Operating from this mindset, you lose productive time, counted first in minutes, then hours. Sometimes your loss of productivity can be measured in days, weeks and months of missed opportunities.   

Since you will not wake up every day bursting with excitement, you must find a way to summon the energy necessary to pound out another story for a publication, work on your social media content plan and write new copy for your website.

To understand why you are unable to take the actions required for success, you must first identify what blocks you. You can’t overcome challenges you aren’t aware of, and this is the juncture separating those who succeed from those who don’t.

Here are the four main character defects that block success:

1. Apathy

Apathy is exhibited as a lack of concern. It shows up when you are tired or stretched too thin. Many entrepreneurs work one or more jobs while attempting to launch a business, whether online or brick and mortar. When progress can’t be seen, it is easy to stop caring and give up.

2. Procrastination

Procrastination can occur when you get up ready to give all you’ve got to your endeavor, but first you check out an episode of your favorite Netflix show while you have coffee. After eight hours of binge-watching, your productive mindset is gone which leaves you demoralized. This in turn brings you back to apathy, triggers fear and causes more procrastinating.

3. Fear

Fear is a corrosive emotion everyone struggles with, and if you are not careful, it will absolutely stop you in your tracks. Fear will say you cannot obtain your dreams. The most successful entrepreneurs and business leaders grapple with anxiety, worry and apprehension, yet you rarely see them paralyzed by their fearfulness. Like them, you can’t defeat your fear unless you identify it. With an insightful mentor, you can easily determine what you are afraid of. Once it is recognized, you’ll find the strength to walk through it.   

“Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will.” – James Stephens

4. Overwhelm

Overwhelm occurs when you commit to more than you are capable of doing. Balance and giving the appropriate amount of time to all aspects of life is a tremendous challenge. Have you found yourself overwhelmed when a friend asks a favor of you while you are trying to meet a deadline at work and maintain focus on your entrepreneurial side project? Do you worry how you’ll ever find the time to get it all done? Often when this occurs, we may mentally shut down and accomplish nothing.

To counter the deficits listed above, you must identify, then develop the opposite, positive traits necessary for success. It’s important to understand the “why” of each attribute because only then can you fully tap into the power they offer to help you accomplish your goals.

Here are the four traits to counter the above traits with:

1. Purpose

Purpose gives voice to why you are alive. It tells you and others what you are working toward and why. Living out your purpose is the single greatest weapon against apathy. Knowing your purpose gives you a standard with which you can measure your progress. It motivates you to think, act and ultimately, to succeed.

2. Action

Action is the opposite of procrastination. When your effort is focused on achieving an objective, action propels you forward. Breaking a large project down into small, manageable steps, you’ll gain the needed traction to successfully reach your goal!

3. Courage

Courage is built by first facing, then walking through your fears. Courage gives you strength to do what you think is impossible. Developing a relationship with a mentor, someone willing to tell you the truth about what they see, is crucial to success in this area. With help, you can first identify, then make the adjustments necessary to identify and release the fear blocking you.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston S. Churchill

4. Focus

Focus is the final attribute. What you give your attention to is the single most important factor influencing your success. You become what you focus on. When you focus on your purpose, take the necessary actions and develop the courage to bust through, you win!

This is not an all-inclusive list, it’s simply a starting point. As you tackle and overcome your grosser defects, the subtler ones will begin to surface. Slowly, with help from your trusted mentor, you will work and grow through these challenges.  

As you become stronger, you’ll be able to withstand additional demands. You meet them head-on with the new skill set you’ll develop as you let your old ones go. You will be more effective, positive and energetic along with ready to take any action necessary. You are a winner!

Which one of the character traits above do you need to focus on most in order to achieve success? Let us know in the comments below!

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6 Important Decisions to Make to Have a Successful Career

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Would you rather paint your bedroom blue or beige? What is your usual coffee go-to order: a mocha or a macchiato? Should you take the bus or the train to work today? Decisions are everywhere. They are the ones behind our choices and the ones behind all consequences that we face for those choices.

Life is riddled with decisions at every intersection, and some say that those who are the best decision-makers can actually make the most of their time on this planet. Sure, inspirational and spiritual speakers have a lot to say when it comes to the matters of fate, luck or destiny, but only the successful know that a man is truly capable of shaping their own as per their choices.

From choosing on whom to delegate that difficult task to knowing when to bring up a tricky topic during a meeting with shareholders, decisions have the potential to shape your careers as well. If you have been wondering about the ways that you can improve your career, you can consider bringing in some smart decisions in your life right now.

What are the decisions that can help you have a successful career? Since decisions play such a huge role in shaping our lives and careers, you may wish to pick up a few that help you scale higher in your career as well.

Here are 6 of the most important decisions to bring into your life today so that you can take your career to newer heights:

1. Put your goals on paper

Sure, it’s great to have goals for your career, but simply letting them wander about in your mind is not going to help you achieve them, you know. That is why you need to have a list of goals that you have set for yourself – on paper.

Maintain a journal (virtual or offline, whichever works for you) that enlists your career objectives and goals according to short-term and long-term ones. For example, you can put upskilling in short-term goals and moving to a higher managerial position by the end of three years as a long-term goal.

Establish parity in the short-term and long-term goals so that you can synthesise them when the time comes. Jotting down the objectives will help you have a clear idea of where you stand and the way that you should go to bring about the positive changes in your career.

2. Bring in a daily dose of positivity

Let’s face it, all of us have encountered setbacks in our professional lives. The most important lesson to take from those setbacks is to never become pessimistic about what you can achieve. Positivity has helped many to soar the skies when it comes to their careers, and with a conscious decision to eliminate all sorts of negative thoughts from your mind can help you in doing the same too.

You will find a bunch of success stories that all start and end with how important it is to persevere in the face of adversities and letting your positive aura shine through in dark times. One of the smartest things that you can thus do for your career is to decide to chuck all negativity (as well as toxic acquaintances) that make you doubt your abilities and pull you down.

“Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.” – James Cash Penney

3. Hone your writing skills

No matter which industry you belong to, an impressive writing style in this fast-paced age of digital communication truly has the power to take you places when it comes to becoming more successful in your career.

The blessing that is the web has brought on a range of online tools and resources that you can put to good use for improving your writing skills. If you need to review your official documents and emails, then try online tools to edit and proofread your documents efficiently. You can also use online tools and tutorials to pick up tricks that help you sharpen your writing and make it devoid of common mistakes we all prone to making.

4. Upskill yourself proactively

Whether it is learning to code or taking up creative writing classes, you should decide to upskill proactively throughout your career. Upskilling has benefited more than one, and when the time comes for a job switch to move on to better prospects, you can always leverage the additional skills picked up earlier. As we move towards a faster and more digitised work sphere, it is best to attune oneself to the latest trends and in-demand skills of your industry and beyond to make sure that you are prepared when it is time to take the plunge.

5. Reflect on each day

When you are at work, the days seem to go by in a dizzying blur, leaving you breathless from the sheer pressure of work and tasks that you have to manage throughout the day. Deciding to spare time for yourself despite your busy schedule ensures both personal and professional growth, as leading psychologists opine.

Treat each day as a lesson, and you will end up with a long list of things that you learnt from each of them as they went by. An excellent way to do this is to keep a journal, but if you do not feel up to writing at the end of the busy day, you can always unwind while listening to your favourite music and reflect on the day that was.

6. Pick up a healthy lifestyle

Lastly, it is important to decide to be healthy and fit for only by that will you be at your productive peak to help you achieve all that you want to in your professional sphere. Devote some time to exercise every day and have a healthy diet.

You are sure to find many benefits of having a healthy lifestyle when you rise and shine to go to work with renewed vigour every day that helps you create innovative designs or brainstorm for killer marketing tactics. You never know which hidden potential of yours gets unlocked by facing work with a positive and beaming attitude every day, so why not take a leap of faith?

“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.” – Napoleon Hill

Staying ahead of the competition, working overtime, managing piles of emails and getting stuck in the daily conundrums of work may sometimes leave you wondering as to where it is that you are headed when it comes to your career. Cruise through your career like a pro as these six decisions present a world of benefits for your personal and professional growth.

What decisions have you made that have helped you grow professionally? Comment below!

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4 of the World’s Greatest Thinkers Share Their Secrets to Living the Good Life

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It takes a lot of effort, dedication, and open-mindedness to lead a good life of excellent health, wealth, love and happiness. As a personal trainer, and a human being, part of my life revolves around understanding how the human mind works and how to help myself, and the people around me, make decisions that put their lives on the right track.

We only live once thus we have to make the best out of our journey. One of the greatest ways to learn how to live is by learning from those who have lead the good life themselves.

Here are four of the greatest thinkers secrets to live a good life:

1. Jordan Peterson: Treat yourself like someone you’re responsible for helping

Ever heard of the term, ‘Treat yourself like you treat your best friend?” As corny as it sounds, this tip holds water. You need to be kind to yourself, and you must be compassionate. In fact, studies suggest that self-compassion is more critical to your well being than self-esteem.

If this is true, why is it hard for many people to make friends with themselves? The answer, according to Jordan Peterson, lies in the fact that you`ve been around your imperfect self for so long that all you can see is a flawed human being.

A person, still according to Peterson, will deride his whole existence just because, in his eyes, he’s the ugly, ashamed, frightened, worthless, inadequate, insignificant, resentful, defensive descendant of Adam. Peterson suggests you will gain inner peace when you see yourself through the eyes of a loving coach trying to lead their imperfect mentee to the best possible results.

2. Leonardo da Vinci: Understand how your mind works

Michael J. Gelb, the author of How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every day, believes Dimostrazione – the Italian translation of demonstration – is one of Da Vinci`s seven principles to his unmatched intelligence. The Italian sculpture, inventor, musician, geologist, and mathematician had a special knack for examining how things work, including his mind, and he made sure to document his musings on paper so he could understand himself better. Before he died, Da Vinci left one of his trustees a 10,000-paper journal full of notes, questions, designs and even jokes and fables.

To reap the benefits of dimonstrazione, you need to regularly detach yourself from the digital world for a few minutes of ruminating and journaling. Question your thoughts, beliefs, and why you/people do things in specific ways. Doing this will spark your creativity and help you solve deeply-rooted problems much easier.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo da Vinci

3. Richard Dawkins: Avoid the trial/error trap

Some may think making lots of mistakes is the best way to learn how to do something. According to Richard Dawkins, making so many mistakes is a waste of time and can sometimes be fatal. In his opinion, most of what you learn should come from “simulation.” He believes one should study the best and worst types of people, emulate their good and avoid their bad.

Most of the time, all you need is to follow someone else`s wheel instead of trying to invent your own – at least until you`re strong enough to lead your way. Additional tip: Get coaching or a mentor who`s 20 years older than you. A good one will save you lots of time, effort and money.

4. Carl Sagan: The universe is not required to be in harmony with ambition

Be flexible and formless, then adapt to the universe instead of trying to bend it to your will – which may not happen. To Carl Sagan, a man should understand that life won’t always give him what he wants, but he must use what life gives him for his better good. If life throws you a  tomato, make a soup of it. Many successful people spent decent parts of their lives drifting between careers only to realize later that they wouldn’t have made it without those career wanderings.

You must also understand that the purpose of a goal isn’t to hit the target but to evolve into the type of person who can achieve his goals. You won’t always win if you swing for the fences with every shot, but your track record will be far better than someone who plays it safe not because of your extraordinary genes but because the type of goal you chose for yourself forced you to step out of your shell and grow.

“Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.” – Carl Sagan

Take great care of your mind. Read good books, understand your cognitive biases and take courses in lateral thinking and problem solving. Your mind is your most important asset and it’s a great shame if you fail to use it well.

What is your secret to living the good life? Let us know your secrets in the comments below!

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