To quote Yoda “Do or do not. There is no try.” Doing however takes risk. Staying in bed never making an effort has no risk but also no reward. Starting a business, applying for a new job, asking someone out, all involve risk. Some risks have a high price tag and it’s those that some avoid, others rush into, and still others plan and approach sensibly.
Failure is a an option, it’s also unavoidable. Failure is not the opposite of success in spite of everything you’ve probably been told. Failure is merely a setback. You’ve taken the risk, asked the love of your life out on a date and when you try to pay your credit card is denied. You think it’s over, that she’ll never go out with you again – it feels devastating in the moment but it’s unlikely to be your last date.
Finally the last part of the RFR Principle is reward but rewards are not permanent. If you’ve taken the risk, had setbacks, failures that you thought would end it all, and still came through, then you’ve reaped the reward but it won’t last unless the process is repeated. Too many people look at the success of a reward as an end, a goal to be achieved, but it’s really just a rest stop on the hike of life.
All three elements of success revolve around each other. If one stops the whole process breaks down. Keeping those elements in motion is the willingness to ask What Next, the ambition to overcome complacency, the strength to face obstacles head on.
Posted in General, Success, Taking Action and tagged fail, failure, reward, risk, succeed, success by AJ with no comments yet.
I look at people, they might be people I know or complete strangers to me, but I look at their success and think why couldn’t that be me? All I see is their success, the end result of whatever it was that got them where they are now. What I didn’t see is the struggle to get there. What seems easy to me, observing from a distance, could have been very difficult for them.
But what if it really was easy for them? What if they didn’t struggle at all? What if they picked the right thing from the start and all their success came without much effort at all? Yeah, what if? The second part of my realization was that even if success came easy for someone else doesn’t mean it will come that easy for me. I could go into the same business they did, invest in the same companies, but for me it’s hard. Maybe I lack an essential skill, maybe I have to work harder, maybe my timing was different.
Whatever the reason, what I can’t do is be upset about it. I just have to concentrate on my work, on my path to success. Whether another person had it easier or harder doesn’t matter. I can learn from them, I can even ask them about their journey (and I might find out it wasn’t as easy as I thought or that it was easier), but then all I can do is take that information and try to make it work for me.
Posted in General, Success, Taking Action and tagged easy, hard, invest, journey, path, success by AJ with no comments yet.
As soon as I tweeted it I thought “how can I write something so positive when I’m feeling so negative?”
That’s when I realized that I held a flawed belief that a lot of people probably also have – that positive, strong people are always positive and strong.
Well if 2013 showed me anything it’s that I can go a long time without being either positive or strong. But I can keep going.
The difference between success and disappointment is that even in the darkest, loneliest, most depressed times, successful people find that little bit of positivity to pull them up from the abyss. Tweeting what I did, didn’t suddenly make me smile and look out the window of the train with a renewed perspective. I was still in a bad mood but I knew it would pass and I would emerge stronger.
I may not always be happy but I know that I can’t let that stop me. I have to keep moving even if the progress is slow.
Posted in General, Success, Taking Action and tagged bad mood, happy, negative, positive, sad, strong by AJ with no comments yet.
I spoke at a Youth Leadership Summit last week and in my presentation I held up very successful people as examples and asked the attendees what traits led to these people’s wild success at various stages of their career.
I don’t mean lazy like we sit on a couch watching TV, eating chips rather than working (everyone at the summit had a career and took the additional step of attending the summit). I mean lazy in comparison to the examples I held out, people like Richard Branson, Ted Turner, Gary Vaynerchuk and many more who have enough energy and drive to keep them moving toward success.
I don’t have nearly as much energy as the previous examples and yet I work a full time job (which I have progressed in over the years), own rental properties, own and operate a retail service business, write books, and blog. I want to do more but I have to work my way up to it. Just as running a marathon takes conditioning, so too does the marathon of success take conditioning. How many of us are willing to do the work to build that base of conditioning?
Posted in Curiosity, General, Success, Taking Action and tagged adventure, creativity, Curiosity, flexibility, motivation, passion, perseverance by AJ with no comments yet.
The secret (I hate that word because it’s not a secret, it’s common sense) is to save, often aggressively, work, really hard, and invest, wisely. A couple of weeks after writing this I saw a bit of news about a school teacher who left behind an estate worth $10 million when she died. Along with her twin brother they lived by these three “secrets” and it paid off.
Wealth is about opportunity but being in the right place at the right time isn’t opportunity, what you’re able to do when you’re in the right place at the right time is. If you meet an inventor with a great new produt who needs investors, you’re at the right place at the right time but if you don’t have the money to invest it doesn’t matter. That’s why aggressive savings is so important. I’m not talking about normal savings like the advice you’ll read in magazines, I’m talking about serious savings. My wife and I have saved, on average, nearly 25% of our gross income each year. It would have been higher if not for item number three on my list, investments (which some will view as savings but read on to discover why I don’t).
Read here about a woman, Leah Manderson, who maxed out her Roth IRA (that’s $5,000) while earning only $28,000. That’s a 17.87% savings rate. Can you say you’ve saved that much? If not then you aren’t saving aggressively.
A job is a means to an end. We have to work to survive (unless you want to grow a long beard, live in a shack, and kill your own dinner). A job is also a means to security when we’re too old or tired to work.
While I would highly recommend doing something you love, you should also maximize your earning potential by advancing through the ranks and negotiating well. Hard work means being the go-to person, the lynchpin as Seth Godin puts it.
It has been my ability to increase my income and my aggressive savings that allows me to move on to each What Next.
You can invest in yourself by working hard and you can invest your money by contributing to your retirement (401k, IRA, etc.) but that’s not the kind of investments I’m talking about.
I’m talking about investments that require active participation like rental real estate, it’s an investment I’ve used throughout my life (I’ve seen a lot of people use it as an investment very badly). It’s also an investment that requires sacrifice. I can’t have a fancy and expensive house for myself if I’m also buying homes for rentals.
I have also had side projects (some would call them businesses but I don’t think many of them rose to that level). What they did do is provide some extra income to invest in other ways. It also allowed me to learn a lot about myself and business in general.
Now than that I’m older, more established, and secure I’ve invested in actual businesses, recently opening a franchise. The key with all of it is that my job, the thing people say won’t make you rich, made all my investments possible. I call it corporate sponsorship. None of these investments can be considered savings since there’s no garuntee that I’ll get a return or how big that return will be. Once I sell an investment, then fine, the proceeds will move over to the savings category.
You can get rich working for someone else if you’re smart about it and are willing to do more than those who say you can’t get rich working for someone else.
Posted in General, Money, Success, Taking Action and tagged income, invest, real estate, rich, wealth, work by AJ with no comments yet.
I was thinking of this in the context of success (no surprise there) and thought I’d change the saying to “idle hands don’t create success.” So it’s not as elegant as the original phrase but it’s the core of my beliefs. Sitting around watching TV or going to a bar and complaining about your finances won’t do anything to improve your life or your future.
When I found myself with less to do, watching more TV and generally being bored, I launched my newest what next venture. I looked at the people I admired and imagined what their daily calendar looked like and compared it to what mine actually looked like.
I found that my calendar was…well I didn’t really have a calendar – I wasn’t busy enough. I have a calendar now and I’m starting to wonder if I have too much going on. If I compare it to my imaginary successful person the answer is no.
I like being busy but I’m not able (or maybe willing) to do all the things I want. This blog has suffered for it as I haven’t posted here in a long time. I haven’t kept up reading my favorite blogs or participating in my favorite Tweet Chats. I’ve had to set priorities and I’ve made some tough decisions. As some things get delegated I’ll be able to fill that time with other things like writing my sequel to What Next. I hope to be more active here and on Twitter but if I drop off of those platforms for a while you’ll know I’m just spread a little thin.
Posted in General, Success, Taking Action and tagged activity, bored, busy by AJ with no comments yet.
Take a listen to this section of the interview about finding balance between a flood of ideas and the need to focus on the important ones.
There comes a time when you just have to pick one, decide which idea you not only want to work on but need to work on. Needing to work on something means you’re passionate about it and when you’re passionate about something it’s incredibly easy to focus on that one thing. The energy to complete the task seems unlimited. You have reached flow.
How do you know which idea, which interest will turn into something bigger? The answer is usually that it has staying power. You keep coming back to that one idea over a period of months and maybe even years. At any point in the process of writing What Next I could have stopped, but the passion only got stronger. The other ideas kept coming but they didn’t stick around as long.
You know the answer to what idea, what plan you’ve had for a while but haven’t done anything about. So when is the time to start? Asking What Next is only the beginning of the journey, it’s like buying an airplane ticket but if you don’t take actions it’s as if you never get to the airport.
Once you ask What Next you have to move on to What Now.
Posted in General, Success, Taking Action and tagged focus, ideas, passion by AJ with no comments yet.
I asked Gary if he felt there was a difference between taking a risk and doing something risky. He didn’t see the distinction. It is subtle but it’s there. At just under 90 seconds this is the shortest clip from the interview but perhaps my favorite topic. Take a listen here:
Gary notes that he thinks someone who takes risks is dramatically happier but goes on to say that he doesn’t consider himself a risk taker. I have found that many highly successful people who other people describe as risk takers or gamblers disagree with that characterization.
In my book, What Next, I talk about risk and what I discovered is that the distinction between taking a risk and doing something risky comes down to management. Scott Loughmiller, an entrepreneur I interviewed for the book, said he doesn’t consider himself a risk taker but rather a risk manager.
When we look at the decisions of the highly successful we only see two points in time. The decision to act and the end result. What we don’t see from our perspective is the thought process, the many sub-decisions, the careful deliberations and strategizing that goes into what seems like a risky endeavor.
And that brings us to the difference between success and failure when it comes to risk. So many people don’t take the time for careful deliberation. So many people rush into really big decisions ill-prepared. That is doing something risky. On a personal level you need look no further than retirement planning. So many people put that on autopilot without enough thought.
When it comes to business, too many people put too much weight on the advice to follow their heart. That’s good advice but it must be backed up by resources, planning, and a strong dose of reality. Doing the research, exploring the many possible outcomes before acting is taking a risk but it’s not being risky and that is a huge difference.
Are you a risk taker or do you do risky things? Share some examples and your thoughts in the comments below.
Posted in General, Success, Taking Action and tagged gary vaynerchuk, risk, risky, success, Vaynerchuk by AJ with no comments yet.
NOTE: Starting Monday April 1, I’ll break down the interview into smaller chunks but first check out questions I wish I asked.
Monday April 1: The Escalator Question
Tuesday April 2: Gary Vaynerchuk Knows Himself Well
Friday April 5: Is Gary Vaynerchuk a Risk Taker?
Wednesday April 10: Balancing Ideas and Execution
You never know the outcome of a decision when you make it. You may have hopes or plans but the outcome can’t be known with certainty. That’s why successful people are flexible and do more things, try more things, and take more risks than average.
I have made many attempts (some successful and some not) at meeting certain people, at getting noticed. If an opportunity arises I’ll see what happens and that’s exactly what I did when I saw this tweet from Gary Vaynerchuk:
There was nothing explicit about that tweet, but I clicked the link because I’m curious, and learned that I could sign up to interview Gary, someone I believe is a What Next kind of guy. Gary took his father’s liquor store and turned it into a 60 million dollar wine retailer called Wine Library. Gary wasn’t satisfied to build only that business, however, and has taken many more paths as an author(Crush It, The Thank You Economy, and his latest to be released in October, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook), new media entrepreneur, and motivational speaker. He is someone I’ve wanted to meet and talk with for some time. A lot of people want the same thing so when I tried to register for my 15 minutes to interview him, I was told he was already booked.
I didn’t give up and learned that he still had a couple of spots available but that I’d have to wait until October. I was fine with that. That’s why I was so shocked to get a phone call from his PR rep asking me if I was available to talk to Gary the very next day, Thursday.
My answer, of course, was yes and the interview can be heard below. In the following days I’ll break the interview down to smaller chunks and have more specific posts about the topics we covered. Until then enjoy the whole interview.
Posted in Curiosity, General, Money, Success, Taking Action and tagged crush it, flexible, gary vaynerchuk, success by AJ with no comments yet.
So let this serve as an explanation of why I’ve been distracted of late (more on that in a new post coming soon).
Posted in Success, Taking Action and tagged business, busy, challenge by AJ with no comments yet.