13 Things Ridiculously Successful People Do Every Day

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Having close access to ultra-successful people can yield some pretty incredible information about who they really are, what makes them tick, and, most importantly, what makes them so successful and productive.

“Whenever you see a successful person, you only see the public glories, never the private sacrifices to reach them.” – Vaibhav Shah

Kevin Kruse is one such person. He recently interviewed over 200 ultra-successful people, including 7 billionaires, 13 Olympians, and a host of accomplished entrepreneurs. One of his most revealing sources of information came from their answers to a simple open-ended question:

“What is your number one secret to productivity?”

In analyzing their responses, Kruse coded the answers to yield some fascinating suggestions. What follows are some of my favorites from Kevin’s findings.


They focus on minutes, not hours. Most people default to hour and half-hour blocks on their calendar; highly successful people know that there are 1,440 minutes in every day and that there is nothing more valuable than time. Money can be lost and made again, but time spent can never be reclaimed. As legendary Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller told Kevin, “To this day, I keep a schedule that is almost minute by minute.” You must master your minutes to master your life.

They focus on only one thing. Ultra-productive people know what their “Most Important Task” is and work on it for one to two hours each morning, without interruptions. What task will have the biggest impact on reaching your goals? What accomplishment will get you promoted at work? That’s what you should dedicate your mornings to every day.

They don’t use to-do lists. Throw away your to-do list; instead schedule everything on your calendar. It turns out that only 41% of items on to-do lists ever get done. All those undone items lead to stress and insomnia because of the Zeigarnik effect, which, in essence, means that uncompleted tasks will stay on your mind until you finish them. Highly productive people put everything on their calendar and then work and live by that calendar.

They beat procrastination with time travel. Your future self can’t be trusted. That’s because we are time inconsistent. We buy veggies today because we think we’ll eat healthy salads all week; then we throw out green rotting mush in the future. Successful people figure out what they can do now to make certain their future selves will do the right thing. Anticipate how you will self-sabotage in the future, and come up with a solution today to defeat your future self.

They make it home for dinner. Kevin first learned this one from Intel’s Andy Grove, who said, “There is always more to be done, more that should be done, always more than can be done.” Highly successful people know what they value in life. Yes, work, but also what else they value. There is no right answer, but for many, these other values include family time, exercise, and giving back. They consciously allocate their 1,440 minutes a day to each area they value (i.e., they put them on their calendar), and then they stick to that schedule.

They use a notebook. Richard Branson has said on more than one occasion that he wouldn’t have been able to build Virgin without a simple notebook, which he takes with him wherever he goes. In one interview, Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis said, “Always carry a notebook. Write everything down. . .. That is a million dollar lesson they don’t teach you in business school!” Ultra-productive people free their minds by writing everything down as the thoughts come to them.

They process e-mails only a few times a day. Ultra-productive people don’t “check” their e-mail throughout the day. They don’t respond to each vibration or ding to see who has intruded into their inbox. Instead, like everything else, they schedule time to process their e-mails quickly and efficiently. For some, that’s only once a day; for others, it’s morning, noon, and night.

They avoid meetings at all costs. When Kevin asked Mark Cuban to give his best productivity advice, he quickly responded, “Never take meetings unless someone is writing a check.” Meetings are notorious time killers. They start late, have the wrong people in them, meander around their topics, and run long. You should get out of meetings whenever you can and hold fewer of them yourself. If you do run a meeting, keep it short and to the point.

They say “no” to almost everything. Billionaire Warren Buffet once said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.” And James Altucher colorfully gave Kevin this tip: “If something is not a ‘Hell Yeah!’ then it’s a no.” Remember, you only have 1,440 minutes in a day. Don’t give them away easily.

They follow the 80/20 rule. Known as the Pareto Principle, in most cases, 80% of results come from only 20% of activities. Ultra-productive people know which activities drive the greatest results. Focus on those and ignore the rest.

They delegate almost everything. Ultra-productive people don’t ask, “How can I do this task?” Instead, they ask, “How can this task get done?” They take the I out of it as much as possible. Ultra-productive people don’t have control issues, and they are not micro-managers. In many cases, good enough is, well, good enough.

They touch things only once. How many times have you opened a piece of regular mail—a bill perhaps—and then put it down, only to deal with it again later? How often do you read an e-mail and then close it and leave it in your inbox to deal with later? Highly successful people try to “touch it once.” If it takes less than five or ten minutes—whatever it is—they deal with it right then and there. It reduces stress since it won’t be in the back of their minds, and it is more efficient, since they won’t have to re-read or re-evaluate the item again in the future.

They practice a consistent morning routine. Kevin’s single greatest surprise while interviewing over 200 highly successful people was how many of them wanted to share their morning ritual with him. While he heard about a wide variety of habits, most nurtured their bodies in the morning with water, a healthy breakfast, and light exercise, and they nurtured their minds with meditation or prayer, inspirational reading, or journaling.

Bringing It All Together

You might not be an entrepreneur, an Olympian, or a billionaire (or even want to be), but their secrets just might help you to get more done in less time and assist you to stop feeling so overworked and overwhelmed.

What do you do to stay productive? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

Special thanks to Kevin Kruse for assistance with this post.

These 5 Questions Can Help You Set Better Goals

Author Article

If your goal follows all the rules — specific, measurable, etc., — but you are still struggling to achieve it, it may be time to consider the core of the goal itself. In other words, how important is the goal to you? Instead of being driven by productivity or meeting simple tasks on a to-do list, you must also do the work to achieve your goals.

In this video, Entrepreneur Network partner Jeff Rose points out it is not simply enough to sign up for a gym membership or buy new tennis shoes; you have to get yourself to the gym and physically commit to working out.

Rose also challenges you to ask a group of five “why” questions. By analyzing each facet of your goals, you can get to the root and make conclusions about their importance to you.

Click the video to hear more from Jeff Rose about analyzing your goals.

Related: Here’s How to Find the Best Members for Your Mastermind Group

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How to Keep Your Motivational Mojo When the Chips Are Down

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How to Keep Your Motivational Mojo When the Chips Are Down

Image credit: John M Lund Photography Inc | Getty Images

Tiffany Delmore
GUEST WRITER
Co-founder of SchoolSafe
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The road to entrepreneurial success isn’t paved in gold. It might, in fact, be strewn with nothing more thrilling than horse manure. After all, according to the list of startups to watch from The New York Times and CB Insights, many next-gen business entities are in the booming agricultural technology space.

Somehow, the visual of a road dotted with the droppings of our four-legged friends fits. After all, any serial entrepreneur will tell you that being an early founder can feel crappy. Late nights turn into early mornings, and all the while, you’re wondering if the time spent is worth it.

If you can stay motivated, it will be worth it — beyond your wildest dreams, perhaps. But you have to stay the course, and far too many would-be founders let go too early in the journey.

It’s about finding bliss amid the cow chips.

The key to staying the course is to unearth the innately wondrous aspects of working at 2 a.m. to tweak a product design or construct an airtight elevator speech. In that vein, Thomas Corley’s five-year Rich Habits Study gives a peek into the behaviors and motivations shared by folks who hit the million-dollar mark.

What Corley found is that even though entrepreneurship can be difficult, the difference between winners and losers is a matter of perspective. Those entrepreneurs with self-confidence, passion for their work and eternal optimism found love for their work, even in the midst of frustration.

Related: 7 Life Lessons From My Entrepreneurship Journey

Most entrepreneurs who have made it can attest that enthusiasm and motivation amid hardships kept them plodding along, despite the temptation to give it all up. If you want to join their ranks, you must accept what they learned: Nobody can authorize or deny your entry into the hall of entrepreneurial heroes — except you.

In other words, get out your waders because it’s time to go knee-deep into what may stink today but provide rich soil for a fertile tomorrow. Use these three strategies to stay motivated:

1. Identify your raison d’étre.

Once you’ve started a business, you’ll constantly be asked to validate your commitment. If you have no answer to the question “Why do you want to do this?” you’re already done. Dig deep into your psyche to find out what makes your venture important to you. For Chase Jarvis, the CEO of CreativeLive, the biggest concern was not allowing the desire for money to become his No. 1 focus. “Be careful if you’re only committed to something for the next two weeks or the next paycheck,” he advises. “Pretty soon, that eroding mentality of constantly chasing the next thing will hurt you. Alignment provides a level of hunger that can’t be achieved when you’re just working towards a paycheck.”

Shift your thinking to mirror Barry Turner, one of the founders of Lenny & Larry’s protein-rich cookies. He still has a palpable commitment to and enthusiasm for the company he founded 25 years ago. As he told one interviewer, “I always dreamed when I started this that it will be sitting between Oreo and Chips Ahoy.” Put your own “why” in language just as colorful and specific, and your hustle will feel worthwhile.

Related: 5 Learnings From an Entrepreneurial Journey

2. Go for four.

Forget about a seven-day workweek. Chances are good that it will only drive you crazy and make you less productive than before, according to one Wharton professor. If you really want to get good at managing your finite moments, try budgeting your tasks within a four-day workweek. This challenge should leave you asking yourself how you can boost your efficiency. And if you manage it, you’ll find you have the time you need to take care of yourself and spend time with friends and family.

To be sure, pulling off a quick-as-lightning workweek takes some chutzpah and discipline. Rather than use day five as a chance to veg out, concentrate on making it count in other areas. It might be a day of personal development or an opportunity to research new business opportunities. Just keep it free from all the operational stuff so you can focus on adding breadth and depth to your business and yourself.

3. Hunt down your missing skill.

What would you never list on your résumé? Public speaking? Coding? Networking? Identify your underdeveloped skill set, and then do something about it. Chances are good that you’ll find some important stuff you need to know — or will if your company takes off. For example, when he moved to Texas, Ignitia Office co-founder Josh Bobrowsky realized that business deals happened at the gun range. The trouble was that he wasn’t a gun-toting guy — yet. After taking private lessons for months, he nailed the ability to shoot from the shotgun and the hip.

Be aware that what you lack might not seem important today, but it could be critical in the future. For instance, if you’re having trouble building your business brand, why not begin by developing a personal brand through social networks like LinkedIn? Your self-discovery could open new doors and launch you into opportunities you never realized existed.

Is it tough to remain curious and optimistic while trudging through what looks like mud but smells otherwise? Sure. But getting through the bad stuff with a smile on your face will help you persevere — not to mention appreciate the beautiful crops that will one day burst forth from the entrepreneurial soil you’ve laid.

Want to Succeed in Life? Every Day, Do This Thing First

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CREDIT: Getty Images

We live in the age of self-improvement. Wherever you go–your home, your car, your bar, your favorite bodega or bookstore–it’s forever there, staring you in the face.

The potential of a better you. Happy, strong, and successful. Prospering in all the important things, including your relationships and career.

It can drive you a little crazy. Most of us are satisfied to excel in just a few areas, and if we sacrifice our beach body by prioritizing parenting over the gym, so be it. But the ads keep pouring in: You can be perfect.

It’s pure B.S., of course. Life is short, and we can only strive so much. But if you put a gun to my head and demanded that I choose a single rule to live by–a rule to rule all others in the quest for human excellence–I’d have a ready answer.

Always do the hardest thing first.

It’s by no means an easy rule. It’s easy to say, and it feels nice to say it, but the minute you sit down at your desk, and that hardest thing is in front of you, and you’d literally rather do anything else–all bets are off.

Now for the good news. I’ve practiced this rule for many years, and can confidently report that with enough repetition it becomes habitual. You’ll still recognize the hardest thing as being the hardest thing–whether it’s balancing the books, making a sales call, or wrestling with your taxes–but the psychological dread that caused you to procrastinate in the past will have disappeared.

Here are three suggestions for taking the beast head-on:

1. Prepare the night before.

Before you go to bed, review tomorrow’s agenda.  Channel your inner Alex Honnold–if you haven’t seen Free Solo yet, I highly suggest it–and memorize every move in advance. Single out the moves that really suck, and then the one that sucks the very most.

Legendary Chinese general Sun Tzu advised that you learn to “know your enemy…and in one hundred conflicts you will naturally prevail.”

You now know your enemy. Meditate on it. Let it stand out in your thoughts. Isolated, it isn’t quite so intimidating.

2. Establish a soothing ritual.

Confronting your enemy in a dull or disordered state of mind is a great way to get slaughtered. To avoid this, establish a ritual or routine that you perform the moment you walk through the office door.

Arrive five minutes early. Greet your colleagues by name. Act cheerful and alert. Take your stuff to your desk and get organized.

Now make a cup of coffee or pour a glass of water. (Be methodical–your co-workers should be able to set their clocks by your movements.) Return to your desk. Seat yourself and take a sip. Fire up your computer. Your mind should be in a clear, calm state by now.

3. Inform someone else of your plans.

Announcing your intentions will ease your burden and provide extra motivation to succeed. You don’t have act like you’re running for president, but don’t be shy about it, either.

Tell a trusted teammate: “I’m going to do X now, and I’m going to show you when I’m finished.” If it helps, add some humor. Confide that you haven’t been looking forward to this particular responsibility and you hope talking about it will help you become the hero your mother always said you were. Or, if you had a rough childhood, that it will help you avoid becoming the lazy slob your mother always said you were.

Complete the step by following up with your teammate. Enjoy the euphoria for a minute or two, then move on to the next responsibility.

The rewards for doing the hardest thing first are obvious. The moment you cross that chore from your list, your mind unfurls like the first day of spring. Suddenly, other difficult tasks aren’t so difficult. Suddenly, your mind is totally yours, whereas before it belonged to the task you were postponing.

Perform the three steps religiously. Accept that you’ll fail–probably often. But then, something magic will happen. Gradually, you’ll improve. Your focus will tighten, your mood will lighten, your value will increase. And one happy morning, when you briskly crank out a task that six months ago would have haunted you all day, you’ll know what self-improvement really means.  ​

PUBLISHED ON: MAR 21, 2019

5 Surprisingly Underrated Habits of Super Successful People

Author Article

Success is often no accident.

It requires patience, effort, and consistency. The most successful people know that the daily routines we have make up our journeys to success — or towards failure. Today’s leaders are aware that even the small habits someone has can leave a huge impact on the kinds of accomplishments achieved.

If your daily habits are in need of some fine-tuning, or your performance at work could use some improving, consider adopting these underrated habits successful people are known to practice.

1. Ask questions.

Don’t be afraid of asking too many questions. Successful people stay curious, and they care about details and how things work. If there is something they are not sure about, or something they do not know, they ask for an explanation. Asking too many questions doesn’t make you look stupid. In fact, you are more likely to look foolish if you don’t ask enough.

2. Analyze feelings and emotions.

Successful people don’t suppress their emotions. Although these leaders yield great results and are highly efficient, they are still human at the end of the day. Try regularly monitoring and managing your emotions. Be aware of how your emotions influence how you think and act, and understand that success will require you to sometimes keep your emotions at bay.

3. Stand up to inner critics.

It’s easy to beat yourself up after making a mistake, isn’t it? If you’re looking to succeed, remember that self-compassion is something you should practice regularly. Forgive yourself for what goes wrong, and speak to yourself as if you were speaking to a loved one or close friend. Practicing compassion for yourself will help you become mentally strong and successful.

4. Say no.

Psychotherapist Amy Morin, author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, says, “Every time you say yes to something, you’re really saying no to something else.” Practice setting and maintaining boundaries — successful people know progress comes from saying yes to priority items and projects and no to those that aren’t. Don’t spread yourself too thin.

5. Leave the office.

Working from home might not be a bad idea. In fact, one 2016 survey revealed how the most innovative employees divide their time between in-office and remote work. The survey suggested the ideal proportion of the workweek that you should spend in the office is 80 percent. This leaves 20 percent — or one entire workday each week — outside the office.

Each day is comprised of hundreds of decisions and actions, which ultimately determine your levels of productivity. No matter how innocuous your habits may seem, the reality is that these habits shape the course of your life, professional or otherwise. Try examining your current habits, and see if you can experiment with new ones.

10 Small Habits That Have A Huge Return On Life

Author Article
Over the years, I’ve adopted many different “positive” habits.

To me, a habit is positive when it improves the quality of my life. A lot has been written about forming habits.

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How hard is? How long does it take? What’s the best way to break habits? How do we adopt new habits?

My experience is that everyone can adopt any habit they want. There’s only one condition though: You need a good reason to make a change (I talk about that in-depth on this podcast episode).

And in 99% of cases, the reason to change comes from personal suffering, sadness, and hurt. At some point, you can’t stand your current behavior anymore.

Don’t worry about how you will change. Focus on what habits you want to form and why.

After one of my friends recently asked me about my current habits, I decided to share them here — with a brief explanation of what the habits are good for.

1. Do a full-body workout with weights 3 times a week
Strength training has several benefits. It protects bone health, muscle mass, keeps you lean, increases energy levels, and prevents injuries.

I’ve been lifting weights since I was 16. It’s the only habit on this list that I’ve been doing for that long. Like many people who lift weights, I started with split routines.

That means you work out different muscle during every session. With most routines, you’re training a specific muscle only one time per week. It turns out that muscles need more stress to become stronger.

Ideally, you want to train all your muscles, 3 times a week. That’s why I’ve been doing full body workouts. It’s simple, practical, and it works.

2. Set 3-4 daily priorities
This is one of the best productivity strategies there is. We all know that focus is what brings us results.

No focus? No results. So how do you focus? By limiting your options and tasks. Elimination is the key.

Be very clear about what you want to achieve every single day, week, and year.

Every day, work on 3-4 essential (and small) tasks that will bring you closer to your weekly and yearly goals.

3. Read 60 minutes a day
I get it, you’re too busy to read. Or maybe you just don’t like to read.

Well, you’re not getting off that easily.

Reading is essential for your cognition. But you already knew that. How about this? Reading will also turn you into a better thinker and writer.

“But I still don’t like to read.” Well, there are many things in life we don’t like, but we still do them. Instead of telling yourself you don’t like to read, learn to enjoy it by doing it every day.

And like magic, one day, you’ll love to read.

4. Sleep 7-8 hours a night
I never sacrifice my sleep for anything. I recently canceled a meeting in the morning because I slept late. The night before, I was reading a good book that totally consumed me.

After reading, I started taking notes. And before I knew it, it was 2 am. I had to wake up at 7 am to make the meeting.

I canceled the meeting. I’m not going to sleep for 6 hours so I can make a meeting when I know that I’ll be tired the whole day.

Some people can perform well with 5 hours of sleep. But most of us need more. If you’re part of the latter group, make sure you get enough sleep. And be dead serious about it. If you’re not in a position to cancel meetings etc, sleep early.

5. Walk 30 minutes a day
If you can’t MAKE the time to go for a daily walk, you’re not in control of your life. I don’t even walk for the health benefits. Sure, walking keeps the body moving and is good for you.

But I go for a daily walk because it breaks the pattern of our mundane lives. Look, we can’t deny that life is routine. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

But when you walk outside, you’re forced to be one with the world. It heightens your senses. You can go alone or with someone else. You can have a good conversation. Or you can simply enjoy the surroundings.

6. Follow the intermittent fasting eating pattern
I don’t eat anything after my dinner. And I skip breakfast. That means I “fast” for 15-16 hours every day.

There are some health benefits associated with intermittent fasting. But we have to be careful with making claims.

The reason I like it is that it makes me feel and look better. Plus, I can eat whatever I want during the day without gaining any weight.

I don’t eat junk food. I stick to whole foods with high nutritional value. Also, my first meal contains a lot of unsaturated fat and protein. And finally, make sure you consume the calories your body needs to operate (2000 for women, 2500 for men, on average).

7. Be present
We’re so focused on our goals that we forget to enjoy the present moment. This is one of my biggest pitfalls.

I really need to remind myself EVERY SINGLE day that I should enjoy the now.

We’re always waiting until we achieve something. “I will be happy then.”

Nope, you won’t if you’re always stuck in the future. Find a trigger that brings you back to the present moment.

For example, I recently bought a new watch. During the same time, I was reading a lot about this spiritual stuff. Now, every time I look at my watch, I say, “What time is it? NOW.”

8. Practice kindness & love
We all treat our love like it’s a depletable resource. That’s false. Love is unlimited and never runs out. You can give it away as much as you like.

But your ego stops you from doing that. You always want something in return.

So give this a try. Realize that you have an unlimited resource. Give some of your love and kindness away every day. Don’t worry about keeping score. You have enough love anyway.

9. Journal or write 30 minutes a day
I need to get my thoughts in order every day. I do that by writing. That helps me to focus on what matters to me. That’s why I journal.

Even when I’m not writing articles, I sit down and journal — only for myself. I don’t write in my journal for others. Journaling is also an excellent tool to become a better thinker and person.

10. Save 30% of your income
If you can’t save 30%, save 10%. Saving is not about how much. It’s about how often.

You save by cutting out useless things you do daily or weekly. You don’t need to buy a latte every day. You also don’t need to buy “organic” cashew nuts for $10.

Save on the small things. They will turn into big lumps of cash in time. Especially if you invest that extra cash.

And that is also the secret to these 10 habits. They are all small. And the daily progress you make seems insignificant.

You will only see the return it has on your life over time. You must stick to these habits until your life gets better.

And when that happens, you’ll keep going — not because you have to, but because you want to.

This article first appeared on Darius Foroux.

Here Are The 7 Things That Can Make You Wildly Successful

Ladders Article

It might sound fluffy but research shows how people feel about themselves has a huge effect on success.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

For most people studied, the first step toward improving their job performance had nothing to do with the job itself but instead with improving how they felt about themselves. In fact, for eight in ten people, self-image matters more in how they rate their job performance than does their actual job performance. – Gribble 2000


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What frequently produces creative ideas? It’s not clever tricks — it’s being genuinely interested in your work. 

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Experiments offering money in exchange for creative solutions to problems find that monetary rewards are unrelated to the capacity of people to offer original ideas. Instead, creativity is most frequently the product of genuine interest in the problem and a belief that creativity will be personally appreciated by superiors. – Cooper, Clasen, Silva-Jalonen, and Butler 1999

We all know the stereotype of the successful workaholic who neglects everything but their job.

Truth is, studies show people with career momentum are 53% more likely to have healthy habits. 

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Comparing middle management employees, researchers have found that those whose careers continue to have momentum are 53 percent more likely to engage in healthy life habits than those whose careers are stalled. – Roberts and Friend 1998

A feeling of control is what produces grit and makes people persist. 

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Research comparing students of similar ability finds that the distinguishing feature between those who maintain a strong work ethic in their studies and those who give up is a sense of control. Those who express a sense of control receive scores that are a full letter grade higher than those who do not. – Mendoza 1999

(Learn how to be more confident here.)

Quality, Not Quantity

In surveys, people say hard work is the best predictor of success. They’re wrong.

It’s one of the least significant factors. Hard work is overrated.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Effort is the single most overrated trait in producing success. People rank it as the best predictor of success when in reality it is one of the least significant factors. Effort, by itself, is a terrible predictor of outcomes because inefficient effort is a tremendous source of discouragement, leaving people to conclude that they can never succeed since even expending maximum effort has not produced results. – Scherneck 1998

Research shows number of hours does not predict success at work or at home. Success correlates with the quality of those hours.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

The quantity of hours spent working or thinking about work, or hours spent with our families, does not predict achievement or life satisfaction. Instead, the quality of those hours—how stressful or relaxing they are—is a much more potent factor in producing a satisfying family life and career. – Brown 1999

Being conscientious — detail oriented and showing follow-through — produces five times the results of intelligence.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

In a study of recent business school graduates, employee conscientiousness was five times more likely to predict supervisor satisfaction than was employee intelligence. – Fallon, Avis, Kudisch, Gornet, and Frost 2000

We’re in an era where multitasking seems essential and an employee must be a flexible “jack of all trades.”

But the most successful people feel they are an expert at something.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Sixty-eight percent of people who consider themselves successful say that there is at least one area of their job in which they are an expert. – Austin 2000

(Learn how to be an expert here.)

Make Plans And Goals

Sometimes it seems so much is getting thrown your way that all you can do is try to keep up.

But successful people pause, reflect, and think about long-term improvement every day.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Successful people spend at least fifteen minutes every day thinking about what they are doing and can do to improve their lives. – Sigmund 1999

Achievement is rarely random. Great generals don’t shrug and say “We got lucky.”

Nearly every executive interviewed for a study saw “plans and strategy” as responsible for their success.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Case study research on business executives reveals that 98 percent see their position as the result of plans and strategy and that more than half credit their use of a successful person as an example to help define that plan. – Gordon 1998

“I want lots of money” doesn’t cut it.

Having concrete goals was correlated with huge increases in confidence and feeling in control.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

People who construct their goals in concrete terms are 50 percent more likely to feel confident they will attain their goals and 32 percent more likely to feel in control of their lives. – Howatt 1999

(Learn about the most effective type of goals here.)

Focus On The Small Wins

Stop thinking that slaying dragons is all that matters.

70% of long-serving corporate leaders focus on the average events — not the best or worst.

The typical is much more common than extremes, so knowing how to handle that pays off almost every day.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Long-term studies of corporate leaders find that seven in ten of those who survive longest in their jobs downplay both the best and worst outcomes they experience and keep their feelings relatively steady. They have what psychologists call a “focus on an acceptable average,” not on the extraordinary, which is useful because almost every day turns out to be more average than extraordinary. – Ingram 1998

A consistent amount of minor success produces much more happiness than occasionally bagging an elephant.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Life satisfaction is 22 percent more likely for those with a steady stream of minor accomplishments than those who express interest only in major accomplishments. – Orlick 1998

You want a steady amount of challenge, achievement and feedback:

(Learn more about happiness here.)

Know What Motivates You

Motivation predicts career success better than intelligence, ability, or salary.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

When tested in national surveys against such seemingly crucial factors as intelligence, ability, and salary, level of motivation proves to be a more significant component in predicting career success. While level of motivation is highly correlated with success, importantly, the source of motivation varies greatly among individuals and is unrelated to success. – Bashaw and Grant 1994

But what motivates people can vary widely.

What reward gets you going? Do you want to be richer? Do you like helping people? Do you want praise?

Don’t speculate. Think about specific times when you were very motivated and what caused it.

Research shows that reward is responsible for three-quarters of why you do things, so align rewards and goals appropriately.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Researchers find that perceived self-interest, the rewards one believes are at stake, is the most significant factor in predicting dedication and satisfaction toward work. It accounts for about 75 percent of personal motivation toward accomplishment. – Dickinson 1999

Take the time to reflect on how far you’ve come and the good work you’ve done. It boosts your motivation.

That’s not indulgent or fluffy — persistent people spend twice as long thinking about their accomplishments.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Comparing people who tend to give up easily with people who tend to carry on, even through difficult challenges, researchers find that persistent people spend twice as much time thinking, not about what has to be done, but about what they have already accomplished, the fact that the task is doable, and that they are capable of it. – Sparrow 1998

Here’s Dan Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, the single best book on motivation (click for video).

Choose The Right Workplace

People and environment affect you dramatically — and bad habits can spread like a virus.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Psychologists have observed that bad habits can spread through an office like a contagious disease. Employees tend to mirror the bad behaviors of their co-workers, with factors as diverse as low morale, poor working habits, and theft from the employer all rising based on the negative behavior of peers. – Greene 1999

You want to learn and grow — but you want to be learning the right things and growing in the right way.

Having a diverse set of co-workers can make you much more productive.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Teams in the workplace composed of people with differing personalities are 14 percent more productive than teams composed of more compatible individuals. – Fisher, Macrosson, and Wong 1998

We all know mentors and role models are valuable.

What most people don’t know is that these aspirational figures must “fit” with your career goals.

Role models who aren’t relevant or whose achievements are unattainable can make you 22% less satisfied with your career.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

People who actively target someone to serve as a role model draw positive feelings from that person only if the role model’s achievements are both relevant and attainable. People who choose role models who do not fit that description wind up 22 percent less satisfied with their careers than people who do not have a role model at all. – Lockwood and Kunda 2000

(Learn how to use context to your advantage here.)

Learn People Skills

You cannot go it alone. A big network and being liked pay huge dividends.

80% of CEOs feel that people skills are not only essential at work but also make them happy at home. 

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Eight in ten ceos report that a healthy family life is crucial to a productive business life and that the same key skill—“interpersonal engagement,” the capacity to express concern and interest in those around them—is crucial to both home and work. – Henderson 1999

Being defensive not only makes you disliked, it also makes it hard to learn anything.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Defensiveness is negatively correlated with learning on the job. People with highly defensive personality traits speak more times in meetings, are more likely to interrupt a speaker, and are one-fourth slower in adapting to new tasks. – Haugen and Lund 1999

(How do you learn people skills? Start here.)

Sum up

Seven things that will make you more successful:

  1. First, Build A Better You
  2. Quality, Not Quantity
  3. Make Plans And Goals
  4. Focus On The Small Wins
  5. Know What Motivates You
  6. Choose The Right Workplace
  7. Learn People Skills

What’s the easiest way to get started? Go here.

Join over 330,000 readers. Get a free weekly update via email here.

This article first appeared on Barking Up The Wrong Tree.

It’s Never Too Late To Succeed—And Here’s The Secret

Author Article

Everett Collection
Julia Child was 50 when she hosted her first TV show.

This article is reprinted by permission from NextAvenue.org.

In his new book, “The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success,” Northeastern University professor of network science Albert-László Barabási offers lessons we can learn from men and women who’ve achieved success after 50 based on his research. The following is an excerpt from this book.

When, at the age of 50, John Fenn joined the faculty at Yale, he was old by academic standards. He was 35 when he got his first academic appointment, at Princeton, where he started working with atomic and molecular beams, research that he continued to pursue at Yale. Though Fenn was hardworking and diligent, he was largely a low-impact scientist. His department chair must have felt some relief when Fenn turned 70 and they could force him to take mandatory retirement.

Yet Fenn had no interest in stopping. Three years earlier, at 67, he was already semiretired at Yale, stripped of lab space and technicians, when he published a paper on a new technique he called “electrospray ionization.” He turned droplets into a high-speed beam, allowing him to measure the masses of large molecules and proteins quickly and accurately. He saw it as a breakthrough and he was right.

A late-in-life Nobel Prize

After idling at Yale, he relocated to Virginia Commonwealth University and opened a lab. What he did in these later years was revolutionary. Improving upon his initial idea, he offered scientists a robust way to measure ribosomes and viruses with previously unbelievable accuracy, transforming our understanding of how cells work. In 2002, in his mid-80s, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Fenn’s story embodies a simple message: Your chance of success has little to do with your age. It’s shaped by your willingness to try repeatedly for a breakthrough. Realizing this was transformative for me — I started seeing Fenns everywhere.

There’s Ray Kroc, who joined the McDonald’s MCD, +1.02%   franchise at 53; Nelson Mandela, who emerged after 27 years in jail and became his country’s president at 76. There’s Julia Child, who was 50 when she hosted her first TV show.

Key to success: the Q-factor

But these late-in-life successes had something else in common besides tenacity. Their pathways to success were guided by a hidden factor that unveiled itself throughout their careers. My team and I named it the Q-factor, and it helped us answer the question: Where do highly successful ideas and products come from?

Your ability to turn an idea into a discovery is equally important, and that varies dramatically from person to person. A person’s Q-factor translates the process of innovation into an equation. Each of us takes a random idea, with value r, and using our skill, we turn it into a discovery or “success” S, which captures its impact on the world. Multiply your Q-factor by the value of your next idea, r, and you get a formula to predict its success. Written as a formula, it is: S = Qr

In other words, the success of a product or a deal, or the impact of a discovery, will be the product of a creator’s Q-factor and the value of idea r.

Give your work qualities a chance to shine

Once my team and I figured out how to measure a scientist’s Q-factor, we learned it remained unchanged throughout her career. That’s right. The data was clear: We all start our careers with a given Q, high or low, and that Q-factor stays with us until retirement.

Well, I had a hard time believing that I was as good a scientist when I wrote my first research paper at 22 (the one with absolutely zero impact) as I am now. And you probably feel you weren’t anywhere near as good a teacher, writer, doctor or salesperson in your 20s as you are now. However, we spent six months rechecking our findings, and we came to the same conclusion.

The key to long-term success from a creator’s perspective is straightforward: let the qualities that give you your Q-factor do their job by giving them a chance to deliver success over and over.

In other words, successful people engage in project after project after project. They don’t just count their winnings; they buy more lottery tickets. They keep producing.

Prime example: J.K. Rowling

Take writer J.K. Rowling, who followed “Harry Potter” by creating a successful mystery series (under the name Robert Galbraith). Each time she publishes a new book, her new fans go back and read the older volumes as well. Each new book, then, breathes life into her career, keeping her whole body of work present and relevant.

A high Q-factor, combined with Fenn-like persistence, is what drives the engine for career-long success. People like Shakespeare, Austen, Edison, Curie and Einstein are not remembered for a single work that changed everything. They tower over their fields thanks to their exceptional Q-factors — and their willingness to test their luck repeatedly.

Stubborn creativity, combined with a John Fenn—like tenacity, not only gives our lives their essential meaning, it also provides the true secret to career-long success.

Stubborn creativity + tenacity = career-long success

The Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai is one perfect, parting exemplar of that. “All I have produced before the age of 70 is not worth taking into account. At 73 I have learned a little about the real structure of nature,” he wrote at 75. What followed made my day. “When I am 80 I shall have made still more progress. At 90, I shall penetrate the mystery of things. At 100 I shall have reached a marvelous stage, and when I am 110, everything I do, whether it be a dot or a line, will be alive.”

Hokusai lived to be 89, and he created his most memorable works in the final decades of his life, including the iconic woodblock print “The Great Wave off Kanagawa.” The image is of an enormous white-capped wave that slowly unfurls over a half-drowned skiff, dwarfing Mount Fuji in the background. It’s an apt depiction of how success ebbs and flows over a lifetime, building sudden momentum and crashing over us, only to start all over again.

Albert-László Barabási is a Northeastern University professor of science and author of “The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success.”

Excerpted from the new book “The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success by Albert-László Barabási.” Reprinted with permission from Little, Brown, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. Copyright © 2018 by Albert-László Barabási. This article is reprinted by permission from NextAvenue.org, © 2019 Twin Cities Public Television, Inc. All rights reserved.

Ten Success Habits of Goal Achievers

Author Article
People who regularly achieve their goals, no matter how big they are, don’t do it by behaving like everyone else.

One thing they typically have in common is consistently practicing success habits, every single day.

If you’re aiming to achieve a breakthrough goal in 2019, here are ten common habits that goal achievers use to rise to the top:

1. Get up early.

The average person needs a lot of time to wake up and get out of bed. Goal achievers, on the other hand, are so excited about their goal that they’re eager to get up and make the most of the day.

To achieve a breakthrough goal, get in the habit of waking up early and getting out of bed quickly to act on your goal. Recognize what a gift each day is and be excited about what it will bring.

2. Follow a morning routine.

How you spend the first hour after you get out of bed is important to the success of your day. So, after getting up early, follow a success ritual every morning. Fill the first hour of the day with positive, creative activities like practicing gratitude, reading, visualizing and going over your priorities for the day. The benefits of doing so will pay off in spades.

3. Pursue knowledge.

Goal achievers yearn to know who they are and what they’re capable of. They also want to become experts in their field. So, they read and study every day.

Instead of getting distracted by the trivial things in life, such as checking email and social media, block off time each day to read to understand yourself better and become better at your craft.

4. Become obsessed with the goal.

Goal achievers are obsessed with their goals, dreams and routines. They think about them almost all the time.

Since what you focus on expands, if you have a big goal in your sights, becoming obsessed with achieving it will go a long way in moving you from where you are to where you want to be.

5. Meditate.

Goal achievers meditate to improve their focus, relax and clear their mind and recharge.

To help you stay connected with your goal, incorporate meditation into each day. It can help you become more focused, get better results and reduce stress as you go through the day.

6. Stay the course.

Goal achievers pursue their goals and dreams relentlessly. They overcome adversity. They sweep aside anything that stands between them and their goals.

Persistence is an essential factor in achieving any goal that makes your stretch. So, get in the habit of pivoting or finding ways to navigate around impasses. Finish what you set out to do. Over time, your persistence will grow into a proved, progressive power that can help you achieve any goal.

7. Prioritize activities.

Most people complete all kinds of meaningless tasks each day just to be able to cross them off their long to-do list. Goal achievers, on the other hand, make a list of the most important things, usually three to ten tasks, that they must accomplish that day.

Make sure you do at least one thing each day that moves you closer to your goal. Every evening (or morning if you prefer) make a list of the top goal achieving activities you can take the next day and then act on them, starting with the most important task.

8. Exercise discipline.

Goal achievers are highly disciplined when it comes to executing tasks that will lead them to their goals. So, they often miss parties or other social events, work out when their mind tells them to stay in front of the computer for a little longer, read when they’d rather keep working and don’t eat the junk food they crave.

Sacrifices like these make you the person you need to become in order to lead the lifestyle you imagine.

9. Spend time with other purpose-driven, successful people

Our environment plays a role in our success because we’re the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Goal achievers understand this and have a habit of spending time with people who are more successful than they are.

You can turn your life around by choosing to associate with positive individuals who are full of life and spend time with creative, ambitious people with goals and dreams.

10. Take care of the mind and body.

High achievers make taking care of themselves a priority. They recognize that food is fuel and that in order to reach their ambitious goals they need high-octane fuel. They also understand that healthy eating helps keep them healthy. They exercise and have good sleep patterns.

Nothing will get done if your mind and body aren’t performing. Don’t wait until you have a health scare or lose a loved one to force you to take complete charge of your health. Taking care of yourself needs to be a regular commitment.

Start with small bites
These are all great habits, right?

And none of them are hard. You can start applying them right now. But start small – one change at a time.

Of course, there are other success habits you can develop to achieve your goals. Add other practices that help people achieve big and bold goals in the comments below.

To your success,

Bob Proctor

The 6 Financial Habits of Successful People

Author Article

The image of a successful person conjures up visions of Richard Branson relaxing on his private island or a garage full of shiny luxury cars.

But most wealthy and successful people didn’t get to that stage overnight. It’s the culmination of good personal finance habits and smart spending and saving patterns to create wealth over time.

Glen James, financial adviser and host of the My Millennial Money podcast, put together the top personal finance habits of successful people after interviewing wealthy people and observing the habits of people he’s worked with to improve their money habits.

He shared his six tips with Your Money Live.

1. They keep away from consumer debt

“It’s interesting that now there’s advertising out there almost slapping us across the face every day with borrowing for holidays, borrowing for lounges,” James said.

Wealthy people steer clear of easy credit and ‘buy now pay later’ services like ZipPay and Afterpay. “That’s a trap,” he said.

2. They automatically invest money

James calls this “low hanging fruit”, an easy habit that anyone can start today. Set aside a small amount of money each month and siphon it to a savings account out of reach, a superannuation account or investment.

“If I can remove myself from the process and set up the habit of the (payment) automatically occurring, the year goes by and at the end of the year you’ve got money there that would’ve otherwise been spent,” he said.

James gives an example of his clients who are teachers and “over a period of years they’ve invested into a managed fund, investment account or ETF [exchange-traded fund] and they’re very wealthy relative to where they live and the people around them.”

3. They automate their spending accounts

Most successful people have a solid budget and personal spending plan.

They calculate a weekly budget and automatically divert their cash into various accounts like spending, bills and savings.

“It sounds really basic but the effects on someone’s life can be huge,” James says.

Removing the human nature element and automating your accounts is not only a good habit to get into, but allows you to cap daily spending and removes the temptation to splash the cash on a whim.

4. They keep themselves educated and focused

Successful people are always learning and working on their personal development.

James suggests getting in the habit of listening to podcasts, audiobooks or reading to satiate your curiosity on topics you’re interested in.

“What can you read to inspire you? Whether it’s a financial book, or Your Money website articles, just to keep up to speed and encouraged in your own personal life.

“The best golfer in the world needs a coach. The best tennis player in the world has a coach. All it is, is third-party accountability. I believe none of us are above that.”

5. They are goal-driven

James says successful and wealthy people are strongly motivated, and it’s not always money they are driven by.

The key to being motivated is to pick a goal, and it doesn’t need to be a financial one, he suggests.

“What can you do to give yourself a purpose in life?” James said.

6. They are always thinking long-term

Successful people think about the future and develop the habit of delayed gratification.

“There’s a study that said if they offered people on the street ‘Hey, would you like $100 today or $200 at the end of the year,’ most people would take the $100 today.”

Successful people delay short-term gratification for the benefit of gaining something long term.

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