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Success Advice

Why Real Is The New Black

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fear is the new real

I grew up believing in this societal myth that you have to be fearless. That in order to make it in life, you have to develop thick skin. Be afraid of nothing. If anything goes wrong, just throw some dirt on it.

It’s all bullsh!t.

This year alone, I’ve interviewed over 50 entrepreneurs who are truly living on their own terms. They are some of the bravest and most prolific people I’ve come to know. In deconstructing their stories to determine what drove them to succeed, we uncovered one underlying theme that finally debunked this myth for me.

They all had fear, and lots of it.

In the words of Mark Twain,

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”

If fearlessness is a myth, then why in the world are we still scared to death of failing?

 

Fear of Being Found Out

We’ve been told all our lives to fake it till we make it. Whatever it takes. Follow the rules. Don’t let them see you sweat. Instead of admitting your fear or coming clean about not knowing what you’re doing, we cover it up. In the process, we end up becoming a 75th rate edition of everyone else.

The more we imitate and emulate, the further we move away from who we are at our best. We end up losing confidence about whether we can truly deliver the goods at all.

Fear itself is not the problem.

In fact, we should worry if we’re not afraid. The bravest people in the world know this to be true. The disparity between who we portray ourselves to be and who we truly are is the real issue.

 

Keep It Real

So what is this new black we’re talking about here?

The key to reconciling who you are with how you show up in the world is all about keeping it real. Yes, I realize this is an abstract idea, this whole “keeping it real” thing.

To help you wrap your head around what I mean, here are three simple mantras you can incorporate into your life and work every single day to keep it real: doing things from the heart, living your own narrative and telling your unmistakable story.

pound get some graffitti

 

Whatever you do, do it from the heart.

I interviewed Bryson Andres, a 22-year-0ld electric violinist whose Spokane street performance covering OneRepublic’s Secrets went viral on YouTube and got him picked up by a major brand. I asked him what inspired him to keep performing on the streets especially during the times he had no money, no real support from his estranged parents, and no guarantee he would be ever discovered.

“My grandparents told me I sucked. I was only 12 or 13 at the time but I thought to myself, I don’t care. I’m just going to play the violin and play it from the heart… when I became an adult, something tragic happened in our family. When you lose somebody very important in your life, you want to live the way they’d want you to live. I decided I really needed to live my life to the fullest. I didn’t want to look back 10 or 15 years from that point and find myself sitting in a chair without having gone anywhere.” – Bryson Andres

 

Live your own narrative.

I also talked to nomadic entrepreneur and humanitarian, AJ Leon, who gave up his six-figure salary and corner office in Manhattan just four days before his wedding to nomad around the world. If you’ve ever felt stranded on your lone island trying to unlearn the things you felt compelled to do while chasing someone else’s dream, it’s refreshing to find others out there like AJ who understand how scary it is to leap out of your perceived security net into a world of the unknown.

“I try to look at fears that in the past would have had their foot on my throat and I just let them stand there; I try to not do that now. That dude was always afraid. I know there are people like that dude out there. That’s who I’m writing to. The 22-year-old version of myself. I’m telling that guy he doesn’t have to listen to everybody else and he has much more choices than he thinks he has… when you recognize this is not your practice life. This is all you have. Everything changes when you really get that because your choices become more urgent and that fear of ‘Am I gonna make it?’ is much less relevant. This is my life. This is my art project.” – AJ Leon

 

Tell your unmistakable story.

Another interview with Srini Rao, the host and co-founder of BlogcastFM, left many ripples with me. After 10 years of failed jobs and relationships, he felt like a big disappointment to his parents. In recent years, Srini realized that every job he was fired from actually moved him closer to his purpose and the revelation that he was a corporate misfit. A badge he’s proud to wear.

“If you look at people who are successful, it appears that they have these massive platforms. That if you have all the numbers they have, that you’ll have all the success they have. Not quite. You have a unique story. You have a unique angle. That’s what actually matters. That’s the kind of thing that makes you unmistakable. The whole point of the art of being unmistakable is that you tell a story in a way that only you can. What I call the no bullshit version. You start shedding.” – Srini Rao

When you’re doing things from the heart, living your own narrative and telling your unmistakable story, being found out is a very good thing. #realisthenewblack

 

Feature Image Credit: BoostInspiration.com

Berni Xiong is Chief Kicker of Shins at BerniXiong.com and Co-Shut Up'er of Making Shit Happen at TheShutUpShow.com. As a coach, strategy consultant, speaker, web show host and writer, she helps six-figure salaried career professionals, start-ups and seven-figure small businesses unleash their roaring misfit heart and live on their own terms.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Sebastian

    Oct 12, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    Wow great examples of people.

    It seems like the main message is don’t be afraid of being yourself and constructing your own unique path in life.

    Thanks for sharing these.

  2. Dave Conrey

    Oct 7, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    I fully endorse this message… as I’m sure you knew I would. Nice one, B.

    • Berni Xiong (shUNG)

      Oct 8, 2013 at 6:22 am

      Thanks D-Con! It’s wonderful what happens when you write your heart out and keep it real… of course you would know that well 🙂

  3. Linda Esposito (@TalkTherapyBiz)

    Oct 3, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    Awesome work Berni! (And love the title :P).

    50 interviews last year–whoa. That’s less vacay time than the average cube monkey gets.

    And not to disrespect Bryson’s grandparents, but I want to kick their asses. He should compose a violin concerto in their callous honor called “F@#k-this-Sh*t-O’clock.”

    TY for embracing/mobilizing fear.
    #realisthenewblack

    • Berni Xiong (shUNG) (@BerniXiong)

      Oct 4, 2013 at 3:46 am

      Haha you know what’s funny Linda… if you watched the interview I did with Bryson, you’ll see how emotional he got. And I actually got soft eyed for him when he told his story. But it’s that struggle and pain that really fueled his desire to succeed and be so damn good at the violin. I am actually glad things turned out as they did. He’s rockin’ it now!

  4. Berni Xiong (shUNG) (@BerniXiong)

    Oct 3, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    Thanks Robert! I used to get teased as a teen when I’d overuse “keep it real” and now, much much older and wiser, I finally get what it really means. 🙂

  5. Robert Seay

    Oct 3, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Great article!! Thank you so much!!

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Success Advice

3 Important Principles You Need to Know That All Billionaires Have in Common

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billionaires
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I’ve always been highly interested in the similarities amongst the world’s wealthiest. Their habits, successes, mindset, and failures have fascinated me. The journey to great prosperity can seem overwhelming, but if you apply success principles to any endeavor you can quickly and efficiently overcome challenges and expand.

Michael J. Gabrielli, founder of WeRunAds, has spent hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars studying billionaires and their habits. Michael has also studied over 2000 different billionaires and from this experience he’s found three principles they all had in common.

Here are the 3 principles the billionaires all had in common:

1. Be in a rapid growth industry at the right time

Timing is so important. Billionaires know when the time is right to enter a market. Most billionaires do not enter first or second into a market because of the inherent risks involved. Many billionaires let the pioneers pave the way and then leverage the knowledge gained to innovate and optimize in order to create something that works.

The key is to find an industry that is soon to take off. Stepping in at the right time is important. Let’s take a real life example that is known all too well– the founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. When he entered the scene, the idea of a social network was moderately known, but it was still not quite predicted to be the monster it is today.

Others like Friendster, Myspace, etc. had made some headway into this fledgeling industry and then Facebook entered leveraging the knowledge and expertise gained from the early pioneers. Zuckerberg saw the huge potential of social networking, took what was done previously and made it better.

He is presently worth over $66 Billion and the company has surpassed the 2 billion users mark with 1.4 billion using the platform daily. Not surprisingly, many billionaires were not the first to pioneer the industry they would later find success in. They came in at the right moment, learned from the mistakes and triumphs of their predecessors, and made a lasting final product.

Here’s a practical 3 question exercise you can do to judge if you have the right timing with your current venture:

  1. Look at your industry and say—is this brand new?
  2. Am I trying to invent something that doesn’t exist?
  3. Am I too late to the party?

2. Position yourself better

In addition to finding the right industry and getting in at the right time, billionaires position themselves in the best way. They provide the solution to the need and they think outside the box to do it. Optimal positioning is a commonality amongst billionaires. For example, during the California Gold Rush, people rushed to mine for the gold itself blinded by the promise of large profits.

However, it turned out that Sam Brannan had the better idea for how to position himself for success. He knew the chances of finding gold were risky, so instead he committed to a sure thing. He manufactured the tools that were needed by all the miners to mine gold. As each new miner migrated West, they were happily met by Brannan and his company who were ready and waiting to sell these new hopefuls the shovels and tools they’d need to strike it rich.

Digging for gold seemed to be the most profitable route, however, greater returns were yielded in the supplying of materials required to mine for gold! A good company that also illustrates this concept is Microsoft. They did not seek to create their own computer, but the software that computers would run on. Most people mistakenly think they have to “go for the gold” to attain wealth, but it’s evident in history that selling the necessary tools to the gold miners can be far more profitable.

The two questions you need to ask yourself to see how you could position yourself correctly are, “What industries will need the supplies that I could provide? And, “Am I following the trend instead of innovating?

“Big shots are only little shots that keep shooting. I can see your sun rise out of obscurity. Keep shooting” – Ikechukwu Joseph

3. Take calculated risks

Most people choose the safe bet that is secure, however, this is not common among billionaires. Billionaires take big calculated risks in order to propel themselves to higher levels of influence and success. The most important thing to note here is that while to others the risks seem big—to billionaires, they are calculated.Risk and Calculated Risk are not the same. Calculated risk is measured and well-thought-out. Risk is impulsive and immeasurable. Understanding the difference between the two is a commonality among billionaires. The world’s most prominent figures have at some point in their lives disagreed with the ordinary and took a shot at the unknown. Proper calculation and clever thinking certainly accompanied the bold moves they made in their careers.

Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, is a great example of this. He had grown up in poverty and made his way out to earn a comfortable wage as an executive at a company that manufactured coffeemakers.

“Risk more than others think safe.” – Howard Schultz

He risked it all when he discovered a small coffee shop named “Starbucks” in Seattle that prompted him to quit his job and step out to create a company that was inspired by the Italian coffee culture and personal relationship people could have with their coffee.

Of the 242 people he spoke to, 217 said no to investing with him. Despite the discouragement, lack of agreement, and investment, Schultz kept pushing on. Fast forward to present time, and Starbucks’ is a massive success. Strong intuition and unshakeable belief is common among high achievers. Many successful billionaires risked their safe jobs, personal assets, and even their reputation to take calculated risks that they knew would pay off huge in the end.

The questions you need to ask yourself now are, “where can I take a calculated risk? Am I holding back when I should be going forward? What tangible steps can I take today to move forward?”

These 3 success principles are staple elements that are common among many billionaires. Now, there are more principles that you must discover and implement in order to become a billionaire. Work diligently and do all that can be done each day. Be inquisitive and study those that you wish to emulate.

Which one of these principles do you need to work on more this year? Let us know in the comments below!

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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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Success Advice

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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Success Advice

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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2 Simple Keys to Open the Door to More Prosperity in All Areas of Life

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Prosperity is your divine right. You are here on this planet, at this time, with a divine right to create every single thing you desire. This is acknowledgement of the fact that you are a divine being having a human experience. (more…)

Rosemary Nonny Knight used to be a pharmacist but replaced her income in her own business and now works as a Spiritual Business & Life Strategist coaching people to live the deliberate life - A life of abundance, fulfilment and freedom. Download a free copy of her book - Pray. Affirm. Receive - How to get clear, stay clear and take action to get what you want out of life - RosemaryNonnyKnight.com/freeguest.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Sebastian

    Oct 12, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    Wow great examples of people.

    It seems like the main message is don’t be afraid of being yourself and constructing your own unique path in life.

    Thanks for sharing these.

  2. Dave Conrey

    Oct 7, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    I fully endorse this message… as I’m sure you knew I would. Nice one, B.

    • Berni Xiong (shUNG)

      Oct 8, 2013 at 6:22 am

      Thanks D-Con! It’s wonderful what happens when you write your heart out and keep it real… of course you would know that well 🙂

  3. Linda Esposito (@TalkTherapyBiz)

    Oct 3, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    Awesome work Berni! (And love the title :P).

    50 interviews last year–whoa. That’s less vacay time than the average cube monkey gets.

    And not to disrespect Bryson’s grandparents, but I want to kick their asses. He should compose a violin concerto in their callous honor called “F@#k-this-Sh*t-O’clock.”

    TY for embracing/mobilizing fear.
    #realisthenewblack

    • Berni Xiong (shUNG) (@BerniXiong)

      Oct 4, 2013 at 3:46 am

      Haha you know what’s funny Linda… if you watched the interview I did with Bryson, you’ll see how emotional he got. And I actually got soft eyed for him when he told his story. But it’s that struggle and pain that really fueled his desire to succeed and be so damn good at the violin. I am actually glad things turned out as they did. He’s rockin’ it now!

  4. Berni Xiong (shUNG) (@BerniXiong)

    Oct 3, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    Thanks Robert! I used to get teased as a teen when I’d overuse “keep it real” and now, much much older and wiser, I finally get what it really means. 🙂

  5. Robert Seay

    Oct 3, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Great article!! Thank you so much!!

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

Success Advice

3 Important Principles You Need to Know That All Billionaires Have in Common

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billionaires
Image Credit: Twenty20.com

I’ve always been highly interested in the similarities amongst the world’s wealthiest. Their habits, successes, mindset, and failures have fascinated me. The journey to great prosperity can seem overwhelming, but if you apply success principles to any endeavor you can quickly and efficiently overcome challenges and expand.

Michael J. Gabrielli, founder of WeRunAds, has spent hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars studying billionaires and their habits. Michael has also studied over 2000 different billionaires and from this experience he’s found three principles they all had in common.

Here are the 3 principles the billionaires all had in common:

1. Be in a rapid growth industry at the right time

Timing is so important. Billionaires know when the time is right to enter a market. Most billionaires do not enter first or second into a market because of the inherent risks involved. Many billionaires let the pioneers pave the way and then leverage the knowledge gained to innovate and optimize in order to create something that works.

The key is to find an industry that is soon to take off. Stepping in at the right time is important. Let’s take a real life example that is known all too well– the founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. When he entered the scene, the idea of a social network was moderately known, but it was still not quite predicted to be the monster it is today.

Others like Friendster, Myspace, etc. had made some headway into this fledgeling industry and then Facebook entered leveraging the knowledge and expertise gained from the early pioneers. Zuckerberg saw the huge potential of social networking, took what was done previously and made it better.

He is presently worth over $66 Billion and the company has surpassed the 2 billion users mark with 1.4 billion using the platform daily. Not surprisingly, many billionaires were not the first to pioneer the industry they would later find success in. They came in at the right moment, learned from the mistakes and triumphs of their predecessors, and made a lasting final product.

Here’s a practical 3 question exercise you can do to judge if you have the right timing with your current venture:

  1. Look at your industry and say—is this brand new?
  2. Am I trying to invent something that doesn’t exist?
  3. Am I too late to the party?

2. Position yourself better

In addition to finding the right industry and getting in at the right time, billionaires position themselves in the best way. They provide the solution to the need and they think outside the box to do it. Optimal positioning is a commonality amongst billionaires. For example, during the California Gold Rush, people rushed to mine for the gold itself blinded by the promise of large profits.

However, it turned out that Sam Brannan had the better idea for how to position himself for success. He knew the chances of finding gold were risky, so instead he committed to a sure thing. He manufactured the tools that were needed by all the miners to mine gold. As each new miner migrated West, they were happily met by Brannan and his company who were ready and waiting to sell these new hopefuls the shovels and tools they’d need to strike it rich.

Digging for gold seemed to be the most profitable route, however, greater returns were yielded in the supplying of materials required to mine for gold! A good company that also illustrates this concept is Microsoft. They did not seek to create their own computer, but the software that computers would run on. Most people mistakenly think they have to “go for the gold” to attain wealth, but it’s evident in history that selling the necessary tools to the gold miners can be far more profitable.

The two questions you need to ask yourself to see how you could position yourself correctly are, “What industries will need the supplies that I could provide? And, “Am I following the trend instead of innovating?

“Big shots are only little shots that keep shooting. I can see your sun rise out of obscurity. Keep shooting” – Ikechukwu Joseph

3. Take calculated risks

Most people choose the safe bet that is secure, however, this is not common among billionaires. Billionaires take big calculated risks in order to propel themselves to higher levels of influence and success. The most important thing to note here is that while to others the risks seem big—to billionaires, they are calculated.Risk and Calculated Risk are not the same. Calculated risk is measured and well-thought-out. Risk is impulsive and immeasurable. Understanding the difference between the two is a commonality among billionaires. The world’s most prominent figures have at some point in their lives disagreed with the ordinary and took a shot at the unknown. Proper calculation and clever thinking certainly accompanied the bold moves they made in their careers.

Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, is a great example of this. He had grown up in poverty and made his way out to earn a comfortable wage as an executive at a company that manufactured coffeemakers.

“Risk more than others think safe.” – Howard Schultz

He risked it all when he discovered a small coffee shop named “Starbucks” in Seattle that prompted him to quit his job and step out to create a company that was inspired by the Italian coffee culture and personal relationship people could have with their coffee.

Of the 242 people he spoke to, 217 said no to investing with him. Despite the discouragement, lack of agreement, and investment, Schultz kept pushing on. Fast forward to present time, and Starbucks’ is a massive success. Strong intuition and unshakeable belief is common among high achievers. Many successful billionaires risked their safe jobs, personal assets, and even their reputation to take calculated risks that they knew would pay off huge in the end.

The questions you need to ask yourself now are, “where can I take a calculated risk? Am I holding back when I should be going forward? What tangible steps can I take today to move forward?”

These 3 success principles are staple elements that are common among many billionaires. Now, there are more principles that you must discover and implement in order to become a billionaire. Work diligently and do all that can be done each day. Be inquisitive and study those that you wish to emulate.

Which one of these principles do you need to work on more this year? Let us know 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.

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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