10 Ways Smart People Stay Calm


The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90 percent of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control.

If you follow my work, you’ve read some startling research summaries that explore the havoc stress can wreak on one’s physical and mental health (such as the Yale study, which found that prolonged stress causes degeneration in the area of the brain responsible for self-control). The tricky thing about stress (and the anxiety that comes with it) is that it’s an absolutely necessary emotion. Our brains are wired such that it’s difficult to take action until we feel at least some level of this emotional state. In fact, performance peaks under the heightened activation that comes with moderate levels of stress. As long as the stress isn’t prolonged, it’s harmless.


Research from the University of California, Berkeley, reveals an upside to experiencing moderate levels of stress. But it also reinforces how important it is to keep stress under control. The study, led by post-doctoral fellow Elizabeth Kirby, found that the onset of stress entices the brain into growing new cells responsible for improved memory. However, this effect is only seen when stress is intermittent. As soon as the stress continues beyond a few moments into a prolonged state, it suppresses the brain’s ability to develop new cells.

“I think intermittent stressful events are probably what keeps the brain more alert, and you perform better when you are alert,” Kirby says. For animals, intermittent stress is the bulk of what they experience, in the form of physical threats in their immediate environment. Long ago, this was also the case for humans. As the human brain evolved and increased in complexity, we’ve developed the ability to worry and perseverate on events, which creates frequent experiences of prolonged stress.

Besides increasing your risk of heart disease, depression, and obesity, stress decreases your cognitive performance. Fortunately, though, unless a lion is chasing you, the bulk of your stress is subjective and under your control. Top performers have well-honed coping strategies that they employ under stressful circumstances. This lowers their stress levels regardless of what’s happening in their environment, ensuring that the stress they experience is intermittent and not prolonged.

While I’ve run across numerous effective strategies that smart people employ when faced with stress, what follows are ten of the best. Some of these strategies may seem obvious, but the real challenge lies in recognizing when you need to use them and having the wherewithal to actually do so in spite of your stress.

1. They Appreciate What They Have

Taking time to contemplate what you’re grateful for isn’t merely the “right” thing to do. It also improves your mood, because it reduces the stress hormone cortisol by 23%. Research conducted at the University of California, Davis found that people who worked daily to cultivate an attitude of gratitude experienced improved mood, energy, and physical well-being. It’s likely that lower levels of cortisol played a major role in this.

2. They Avoid Asking “What If?”

“What if?” statements throw fuel on the fire of stress and worry. Things can go in a million different directions, and the more time you spend worrying about the possibilities, the less time you’ll spend focusing on taking action that will calm you down and keep your stress under control. Calm people know that asking “what if? will only take them to a place they don’t want—or need—to go.

3. They Stay Positive

Positive thoughts help make stress intermittent by focusing your brain’s attention onto something that is completely stress-free. You have to give your wandering brain a little help by consciously selecting something positive to think about. Any positive thought will do to refocus your attention. When things are going well, and your mood is good, this is relatively easy. When things are going poorly, and your mind is flooded with negative thoughts, this can be a challenge. In these moments, think about your day and identify one positive thing that happened, no matter how small. If you can’t think of something from the current day, reflect on the previous day or even the previous week. Or perhaps you’re looking forward to an exciting event that you can focus your attention on. The point here is that you must have something positive that you’re ready to shift your attention to when your thoughts turn negative.

4. They Disconnect

Given the importance of keeping stress intermittent, it’s easy to see how taking regular time off the grid can help keep your stress under control. When you make yourself available to your work 24/7, you expose yourself to a constant barrage of stressors. Forcing yourself offline and even—gulp!—turning off your phone gives your body a break from a constant source of stress. Studies have shown that something as simple as an email break can lower stress levels.

Technology enables constant communication and the expectation that you should be available 24/7. It is extremely difficult to enjoy a stress-free moment outside of work when an email that will change your train of thought and get you thinking (read: stressing) about work can drop onto your phone at any moment. If detaching yourself from work-related communication on weekday evenings is too big a challenge, then how about the weekend? Choose blocks of time where you cut the cord and go offline. You’ll be amazed at how refreshing these breaks are and how they reduce stress by putting a mental recharge into your weekly schedule. If you’re worried about the negative repercussions of taking this step, first try doing it at times when you’re unlikely to be contacted—maybe Sunday morning. As you grow more comfortable with it, and as your coworkers begin to accept the time you spend offline, gradually expand the amount of time you spend away from technology.

5. They Limit Their Caffeine Intake

Drinking caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline. Adrenaline is the source of the “fight-or-flight” response, a survival mechanism that forces you to stand up and fight or run for the hills when faced with a threat. The fight-or-flight mechanism sidesteps rational thinking in favor of a faster response. This is great when a bear is chasing you, but not so great when you’re responding to a curt email. When caffeine puts your brain and body into this hyperaroused state of stress, your emotions overrun your behavior. The stress that caffeine creates is far from intermittent, as its long half-life ensures that it takes its sweet time working its way out of your body.

6. They Sleep

I’ve beaten this one to death over the years and can’t say enough about the importance of sleep to increasing your emotional intelligence and managing your stress levels. When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, so that you wake up alert and clear-headed. Your self-control, attention, and memory are all reduced when you don’t get enough—or the right kind—of sleep. Sleep deprivation raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present. Stressful projects often make you feel as if you have no time to sleep, but taking the time to get a decent night’s sleep is often the one thing keeping you from getting things under control.

7. They Squash Negative Self-Talk

A big step in managing stress involves stopping negative self-talk in its tracks. The more you ruminate on negative thoughts, the more power you give them. Most of our negative thoughts are just that—thoughts, not facts. When you find yourself believing the negative and pessimistic things your inner voice says, it’s time to stop and write them down. Literally stop what you’re doing and write down what you’re thinking. Once you’ve taken a moment to slow down the negative momentum of your thoughts, you will be more rational and clear-headed in evaluating their veracity.

You can bet that your statements aren’t true any time you use words like “never,” “worst,” “ever,” etc. If your statements still look like facts once they’re on paper, take them to a friend or colleague you trust and see if he or she agrees with you. Then the truth will surely come out. When it feels like something always or never happens, this is just your brain’s natural threat tendency inflating the perceived frequency or severity of an event. Identifying and labeling your thoughts as thoughts by separating them from the facts will help you escape the cycle of negativity and move toward a positive new outlook.

8. They Reframe Their Perspective

Stress and worry are fueled by our own skewed perception of events. It’s easy to think that unrealistic deadlines, unforgiving bosses, and out-of-control traffic are the reasons we’re so stressed all the time. You can’t control your circumstances, but you can control how you respond to them. So before you spend too much time dwelling on something, take a minute to put the situation in perspective. If you aren’t sure when you need to do this, try looking for clues that your anxiety may not be proportional to the stressor. If you’re thinking in broad, sweeping statements such as “Everything is going wrong” or “Nothing will work out,” then you need to reframe the situation. A great way to correct this unproductive thought pattern is to list the specific things that actually are going wrong or not working out. Most likely you will come up with just some things—not everything—and the scope of these stressors will look much more limited than it initially appeared.

9. They Breathe

The easiest way to make stress intermittent lies in something that you have to do everyday anyway: breathing. The practice of being in the moment with your breathing will begin to train your brain to focus solely on the task at hand and get the stress monkey off your back. When you’re feeling stressed, take a couple of minutes to focus on your breathing. Close the door, put away all other distractions, and just sit in a chair and breathe. The goal is to spend the entire time focused only on your breathing, which will prevent your mind from wandering. Think about how it feels to breathe in and out. This sounds simple, but it’s hard to do for more than a minute or two. It’s all right if you get sidetracked by another thought; this is sure to happen at the beginning, and you just need to bring your focus back to your breathing. If staying focused on your breathing proves to be a real struggle, try counting each breath in and out until you get to 20, and then start again from 1. Don’t worry if you lose count; you can always just start over.

This task may seem too easy or even a little silly, but you’ll be surprised by how calm you feel afterward and how much easier it is to let go of distracting thoughts that otherwise seem to have lodged permanently inside your brain.

10. They Use Their Support System

It’s tempting, yet entirely ineffective, to attempt tackling everything by yourself. To be calm and productive, you need to recognize your weaknesses and ask for help when you need it. This means tapping into your support system when a situation is challenging enough for you to feel overwhelmed. Everyone has someone at work and/or outside work who is on their team, rooting for them, and ready to help them get the best from a difficult situation. Identify these individuals in your life and make an effort to seek their insight and assistance when you need it. Something as simple as talking about your worries will provide an outlet for your anxiety and stress and supply you with a new perspective on the situation. Most of the time, other people can see a solution that you can’t because they are not as emotionally invested in the situation. Asking for help will mitigate your stress and strengthen your relationships with those you rely upon.

Bringing It All Together

Overwhelming anxiety and empowerment are mutually exclusive. Any time you are overcome with enough stress/anxiety to limit your performance, just follow the steps above to empower yourself and regain control.

Reference : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/10-ways-smart-people-stay-calm_us_59134c00e4b0e070cad70b0b



How To Quit Your Job the Right Way

Many people were on the phone. Or were already outdated by new software systems. The corporation wouldn’t fire them until much later. When layoffs were mandated.

But they were mandated. And they lost their jobs. And now I don’t know where they are.

I ran into one of these useless people at a minor league baseball game about seven years ago.

I said, George, what are you doing these days?

He said, I follow this one team. I go around to all of their games. He pointed to a woman in the first row of seats.

See that woman? She’s married to one of the players. I sat next to her at dinner last night.

I walked back to my seat. I thought to myself, good ol’ George. Like I used to say to myself when we sat next to each at work 14 years prior to that. Things change — and then they don’t.

As for me, 14 years later, I have my masks also. I am trying.

Automation is eating the world

Here’s the problem: Industrialism consumes itself. As an example: Every time a line of software is written, a job is lost.

Software increases automation, which removes the need for a worker.

Think of all the innovations happening and what they replace:

  • Artificial intelligence removes the need for thinkers of basic jobs (and later…more advanced jobs).
  • 3D printing removes the need for construction and many manufacturing jobs.
  • Virtual reality is going to be a trillion-dollar industry that removes the ultimate middleman…air and distance.
  • Robotics removes the need for much manual labor. Walmart shelves are already being stocked by robots and not humans.

And on and on. Autonomous cars remove the need for drivers and will eventually replace public transportation.

Robin Chase, the founder of Zipcar, told me that automated cars will eliminate 90 percent of the auto industry.

Biochemistry and personalized medicine will turn insurance and the drug industry upside down.

If the ultimate innovation happens — “the cure” — then doctors will be needed less.

All innovation consumes the innovation of the generation earlier.

Corporatism, which is different from capitalism, wants to appease shareholders, not employees.

Employees are paid salaries that allow the shareholders to extract as much profit as possible.

And innovation forces the gap wider between the needs of the shareholders at the top and the employees who are moving closer to the bottom.

This is not a bad or a good thing. It’s reality.

Corporations want to ultimately fire you, whether you like your job or not. Their entire purpose is to create and squeeze the efficiencies out of you until you drop dead or are no longer needed.


You can love your job so you don’t want to quit. But the company that hires you eventually will quit you.

Eventually they will squeeze every bit of profit out of you. Eventually you will join the class of workers who have become outdated. Eventually they will fire you.

Quitting at the right time


View your life as a business. A business has many product lines and shifts many times during the course of its life.

Let’s call your life, Me Inc.

When you have a single job, your life has a problem. Me, Inc has only one product (you) and you are charging, by definition, less than what Me, Inc should charge.

Why? Because, a corporation is really the distributor of Me, Inc. It buys you and then rents you out for a higher amount to it’s customers. Customers that you may never even meet or see.

And you have no other product. Because the corporation fills up all your time or you get “warned”.

The corporation (in partnership with the mortgage industry and your bank) tethers you to a location to make it harder for you to seek out alternatives.

The corporation often only hires people who paid $100,000 or more for a piece of paper (a degree) when they were ages of 18-22. This tethers you even more because you have to pay back that money or the government comes after you.

It’s a partnership of corporation and government and college to enslave you.

Our goal is to break out of the slavery.

And the corporation even dictates your social behavior of how you can interact with your new “friends” at the workplace.

The manual of rules is bigger than you can read to make it as easy as possible for them to discipline you or get rid of you once Me, Inc has exhausted its own resources.

You have become an asexual, friendless, low self-esteem person handcuffed to a file cabinet that contains your mortgage and your student loan debt.

But even though it’s only one line of income for Me, Inc, it pays the bills. Until it won’t anymore.

Let’s say you have a great idea. By the way, if you exercise your idea muscle by writing ten ideas a day, you WILL have a great idea.

You will want to leave your job as quickly as possible. But have patience. Look:

Steve Wozniak stayed at Hewlett-Packard before he finally jumped to Apple.

Bill Gates stayed at Harvard until he wrote the first code for what became Microsoft Basic.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin stayed in graduate school until Google started to become viable as a business. They even tried to sell their business to Yahoo for one million but Yahoo said no.

I never started a great company like the above. Many of the companies I started were consumed by innovation so fast I either failed or was lucky to sell before that innovation hit.

But for my first business, I stayed at my full time job for 18 months until I finally jumped.

I loved my job. And it paid well. And I liked my friends there and my boss was even a good boss.

So I left when my side-business was finally able to replace my salary and a little more (a “little more” because you have to be compensated for the risk). I stayed at my full-time job for 18 months until I left.

My side business then was able to flourish until it was sold a year later. But I never would have been able to do that if I jumped too early and was scared and anxious all of the time.

The best entrepreneurs are not risk-takers. They spend every day reducing risk.

They have an “evil plan.” Every day they work a little on that evil plan. The evil plan compounds. Then they make the jump.

The myth of the entrepreneur is that he or she takes massive risks.

Entrepreneurs like to spread that myth to destroy the lives who attempt to jump across the lagoon of dragons before the right time.

Don’t jump.

How do you know its the right time?

I was talking to Scott Adams of “Dilbert” fame. Scott is the master of cubicle psychology (read “Dilbert”).

Scott was an engineer at a firm and he hated it. He tried and failed at about 20 jobs until he finally wrote a cartoon called “Dilbert.”

He sent the cartoon strip to the company that syndicates cartoons to every newspaper. The woman who read it hated it. She threw it to the floor of her car.

She picked up her husband who was also an engineer. He picked up the cartoon and started laughing. “This is great!” he said.

So she called up Scott Adams and the rest is history. He quit his job.

But this is when he had already tried 20 other ideas.

Life does not promise you stability. IT PROMISES YOU A LABORATORY. In that laboratory you can experiment.

Before I quit my job I tried: a TV show, a novel, starting a tea company (ugh!), starting a record label, starting a software company to make intranets, and finally starting the company I ended up at (Reset, Inc, which made websites for entertainment companies).

Some people think they have a passion. They don’t. In 80 years of life you might have 500 passions. 500 things that are your “purpose.” Don’t be hypnotized by any one of them.

A passion is a theory. Now you have to test your theory. The world is your laboratory. Construct the experiment that will test your theory. Then test and test and test and tweak and test more.

Was the theory correct? Did it provide a sustainable income and interest? If so, then quit. If not, then move on.

It might take two weeks to test. It might take five years. This is why you can’t just test one theory (passion/purpose/job/business).

You have to test many at the same time and constantly be dropping some and adding others.

Else you will be disappointed and you will fail.

How to come up with business ideas to test

I was depressed. And I had about four months before I was dead (meaning: I would run out of money).

The idea muscle is like any other: it atrophies without use. Mine had atrophied.

Every morning I would leave for “work” (I was unemployed and unemployable at that moment) and go to a cafe.

I’d read parts of one book on games, one non-fiction, and one fiction. The non-fiction could be any topic.

I’d pull out a waiter’s pad. I’d write down ten ideas. I’d write down ideas for businesses, or ideas for other people’s businesses (because in Me, Inc. your customer might be other businesses instead of other humans).

I sent out ideas to businesses I can help. I didn’t say, “How can I help you?” I gave them the ideas and didn’t expect anything back.

This was in 2002. 14 years ago. I started doing it every day.

I also did it this morning.

What to do with your ideas

It’s just exercise. If you write down ten ideas a day, that’s 3,650 ideas a year.

Maybe you will have ten ideas worth testing among those 3,650. Maybe one idea will be good. And that would be a great result.

If an idea is good, then after you write it, it might stick in your mind a little. Then the next day you can write down ten ideas expanding on that one idea. Until you have an idea to test.

But never forget it’s just exercise so that your idea muscle is ready once the good idea comes along.

George Lois, who has written many great books on advertising, once wrote a story. He told his employees they had a new client and he needed a good idea from each of them by lunchtime.

None of them had even a single idea by lunchtime. So George told them, “I need ten ideas from each of you in an hour.”

He came back an hour later and they all had ten ideas done. Most of them bad. But they had the ideas.

More ideas are better than one idea. Then let experimenting take over.

How to test an idea

Now you have to test.

One exercise is to write down “10 ideas to test an idea.”

Example #1: Call up 10 people in the demographic of your idea. Describe it completely. Or, if it’s easy, make the idea. Now see how many of the ten will buy it.

Example: if you want to start a restaurant, first make dinner at your house, invite your friends over but only if they pay $20 to eat your meal. See the reaction.

When I first started making websites for companies, I called up every friend I had working at different companies. I asked them if they needed a website built for their company and I told them why it was important.

Twenty or fifty people said “no.” One or two said yes. And I was in business.

Example #2: Facebook ads. You have an idea for a new diaper that is “self-cleaning” and reusable and easy to attach (I know, this is impossible).

Make a Facebook ad: “New, self-cleaning diaper! Reusable for years!”

See if people click. Have them click to a website where you can collect their email address in exchange for info when the diaper is ready (plus offer a discount).

Then make some samples, write the people who signed up, see if they buy and can provide testimonials.

If all works, then you can scale. You now have a business.

What to do if you can’t come up with a business idea

If you keep coming up with ten ideas a day , you will come up with a business idea.

Anders Ericsson is the scientist who popularized the 10,000 hour rule.

The 10,000 hour rule suggest that with 10,000 hours of “dedicated practice” you can do almost anything.

Many people who practice for 10,000 hours end up no better than when they started. They have to do “dedicated practice.”

Dedicated practice means many things. But start with “every day,” “learn from failure,” “fail fast,” “break complicated tasks down into smaller chunks and get good at those smaller chunks.”

For instance, he picked out random students and made them into world champions of memorizing strings of 100’s of digits read out loud at 1 digit per second.

He demonstrated that by the time Mozart was 7 years old it wasn’t that he was amazingly talented, it was that he had already put in 10,000 hours of study in a house filled with musicians and musical instruments.

Ideas are a practice:

  • Practice every day coming up with ideas.
  • Do “2 week experiments.” Pick out an idea and say, “I’m going to try this for two weeks.”
  • See if it fails. If it does learn from it.
  • Repeat.

If you have trouble coming up with ideas. Do this:

Idea Sex

Take an old idea. Take a new idea. Combine them.

Bad example:

  • Donald Trump is running for President
  • 50 Shades of Grey was a bestseller

“50 Shades of Donald Trump.” Write it and make some money.

Sounds ridiculous? It is. And yet, comedian Elijah Daniel did it. He wrote, “The Billionaire and the Bellboy,” self-published it on Amazon, and sold enough copies (it hit #2 in erotica) that he’s now working on a trilogy.


  • Juicer
  • Dollar Shave

Now we have Juicero, which just raised $30 million and sends you pre-packaged ground fruits in packets for your juicero to make juicing as easy as possible.

What if you’re not a natural entrepreneur

Stop telling yourself a corporatist myth. Corporatism has only existed for 200 years, give or take.

Before that, everyone was an entrepreneur.

Not everyone is Mark Zuckerberg. But everyone had to know the basics of negotiation, sales, coming up with ideas, apprenticeship, etc.

I called Matt Barrie at Freelancer.com, which is a half-billion-dollar company that sees 10,000,000 freelance jobs posted every month.

I asked him, “What jobs can people with just three months of online training find on your site where they can make $2,000 a month?”

Here is what he wrote me: “Every single project is tailor-made based on the needs and requirements of each employer. Nevertheless, please find a list of projects below where freelancers can easily make $2,000 or more in just a couple of days:

  1. Video Animation: Video projects for KickStarter/Indiegogo or an animation explainer videos for a new product/service launch are an easy and quick job to do online.
  2. Programming for e-commerce stores (Shopify, Magento): We have seen a huge increase in e-commerce, as well as social media commerce.
  3. Website testing or Web Scraping: Last minute changes on the site before the big launch, companies want to make sure the site would work as intended so they simply hire someone to test it throughout.
  4. Website Development and Design: WordPress fits in this category. It can be templated but it’s quick and efficient and it looks good.
  5. Children’s Book Illustration: Incredibly popular job on the site that pays quite well. Self-publishing is a big thing these days and illustrators on the site can provide for a huge range of different design styles that fit any requirements.
  6. Writing: We have seen numerous requests from people needing help with their business plans or book editing hiring experts in the field on com. It’s especially popular among non-native speakers when they need something done in English or another language and they want to do it right.
  7. 3D Rendering and Architecture Design: Huge skill on the site, studios are willing to pay a lot of money to get last minute support and help with their projects or contests.
  8. Software Architecture
  9. App development: Full-time staff or freelance temp workers may not always be available to help out, especially during the weekends, while our developers on the site can easily fix any issue or help to finalize projects when deadlines are tough.
  10. Photoshop or any other design work: Companies would pay substantial money to have their PowerPoint, Infographics, Brochures or Keynote presentations designed by a professional designer on the site.”

Where can you learn these skills?

There are lots of online education sites, like lynda.comKhan AcademyCourseraUdemyCodecademyUdacity and Skillshare.

For instance, my 14-year-old takes classes at Codecademy. One of her classmates makes a few thousand a month doing basic website development for local businesses.

What if you’re not a natural entrepreneur, Part II

In my newsletter this month we interview a bunch of people who left their jobs and found “lifestyle entrepreneur” opportunities.

Meaning, people who found ways to pay for their lifestyles even if it wasn’t going toe a huge business.

But at least two of those people are making well over $100,000 a month.

What do they do?

They find popular products on Amazon. They read the negative reviews to find what’s missing.

They find the products on Ali Baba (the Chinese Amazon) and they try to order products that have the features people on Amazon were complaining about.

One person found marshmallow sticks that were six inches longer, for instance, and that, along with other products, nets him $450,000 a month.

Again, this is something you can do a “2 week experiment” on while still at your full-time job.

Always be working on an evil plan.

The 1% Improvement Trick

Choosing yourself is about you, not about a job or a relationship, or a family member, or someone who is bothering you, etc.

It means you have a chalice in front of you. Filled with your self-esteem.

Choosing yourself means keeping that chalice for yourself.

Don’t hand it to someone else. Like a boss. Or a romantic partner.

They have a hard enough time holding onto their own self-esteem without spilling it.

They certainly can’t handle yours as well. You can even tell them, “I love you. Or, I will work for you. But you can’t ever have my self-esteem. That I need to keep for myself. Else I will die.”

And you get to hold onto your self-esteem through what I call (for myself) a daily practice of physical, emotional (being around people who love you), mental (write ten ideas a day – keeping pushing your creativity more and more) , and spiritual (just be grateful in difficult situations), health.

If I don’t do the above every day, then it is a bad day. I get depressed. And the disease spills into the next day.

The only predictor of a good tomorrow, is to have a good day today.

Will you fail if you can’t do 10 ideas a day?

Muhammed Ali was asked how many pushups a day did he do. (this was at his peak).

He said, “I don’t even start counting until it hurts.”

I’m afraid that for years I wrote down ten ideas a day. But now it doesn’t hurt as much anymore. So now I have to do more. And I have to write and read more.

When you lift weights, it destroys blood capillaries and builds new ones to get more oxygen to the muscles you are exercising.

But if you lift the same amount every day, you will stop breaking down the old. You will stop building the new. This is called homeostasis.

Every day requires at least 1% improvement over the day before.

If you want to just maintain, do the same as the day before. Nothing wrong with that.

But to do the “dedicated practice” that will be required to break fee from the corporate chains, you HAVE to do the 1% a day improvement over the day before in every area of the daily practice.

This is not advice. This is autobiography for me. When I don’t do this, I slip back. I get gloomy. I finally reach the melancholy of middle age and can’t break out of it.

Only with the 1% improvement can I break out of the old and rebuild for the new.

How to use the 80/20 rule to quit your job

The 80/20 rule refers originally to the fact that 20% of the seeds planted in a garden will result in at least 80% of the flowers that eventually blooming the garden.

It’s applied to every area of life. 20% of employees do 80% of the work.

20% of your customers, will result in 80% of your profits.

20% of your studying will result in 80% of what you remember.

And so on.

But what if you square it. So 20% of 20% of what you do will result in 80% of 80% of what you value.

So 4% of your work will result in 64% of the value.

Square it again. 1% of your work will result in 48% of the value.

This is the rule I like. 1% of the seeds planted in the garden will result in almost 50% of the flowers that will bloom.

This is how I know I can do many 2 week experiments to see what will eventually work in my life.

Instead of wasting my time on going out at night or watching TV I can take some days to start these two week experiments.

I wonder if you are like me. If you take certain stories. Certain questions. Squirrel them a way into your soul so you can peek at them later.

Let mystery wink at you.

The number of experiments to do at once

Two studies talk about this.

One is: how many projects should a creative person work on simultaneously.

Second is: how many projects should a motivated employee work on simultaneously.

Both studies were done by different people and have nothing to do with each other.

The answer for both: five.

If you are doing less than 5, you will get bored or you risk working yourself into a hole you have no backup for.

If you are doing more than 5, you can burn yourself out.

Count how many projects you are working on. Make sure you are in 5 projects or “2 week experiments.”

Everything is an experiment. Me writing this post is an experiment.

Maybe it will be just a post. Maybe it will turn into a book. Maybe it will help one person. Maybe it will help me to get more motivated when I am most down.

I don’t know. I’m just experimenting. When you take that view, you can risk failure and know that you can learn from it.

Networking Compounds

I was teaching a class at Columbia the other day.

I’ll be honest: I was flattered to be asked to talk there. I’ve done nothing to deserve it.

Someone asked me how to network.

I describe it above a little (send ten ideas a day to help people).

But here’s the real important thing to remember: networking compounds.

If I meet you today, I know you forever. And you might even tell others about me. Some will. Some won’t.

Do that every day and over years, your network becomes huge.

I am the worst networker possible. I am shy. I don’t cold call people. I am nervous meeting people.

But over years it’s compounded. Do favors for people. Introduce people in your network.

The value in your network is not the list of people you know, it’s the list of connections between all of those people.

That’s how you make networking exponentially powerful instead of linear.

The more people you can introduce to each other, the more value you bring.

But don’t do it without permission first from both sides. This is permission networking.

Should you build a personal brand?

Branding is all about lying. Personal brands are people who are liars.

Like, is coke better than pepsi? They are both brown, sugared water.

But “Coke is It!” and Nike (a sneaker like any other ) is “JUST DO IT!”

A brand is the gap between perception and reality.

The more a company infects your perceptions and makes it different from the reality, the more they have a brand.

You don’t need a personal brand.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use every means possible to build authentic connections.

You can tell yourself: I’m not a writer. I’m not a photographer. I don’t have a video camera. I don’t have time.

But everyone has time to write 300 words a day. Or a few tweets. Or take one photograph. Or make a six second video.

Michelle Phan took over 50 videos of her giving makeup lessons before anyone paid attention.

Most writers have many failed books that nobody read before they have their first successful book (just check out my podcasts with Andy Weir, author of “The Martian”, Scott Adams (“Dilbert”), Hugh Howey (“Wool”) and so on.

300 words a day is 100,000 words a year. Is 300,000 words in 3 years.

That can be up to 10-20 books depending on topic and how you structure the book.

Or it can be 5000 blog posts.

Corporations don’t want you to do this. Because it means the shackles they have on you are loosened.

Your connections you are building outside the corporation are the key to unlocking those shackles and they know it.

So figure out the medium you want to produce in. Experiment with all of them. Experiment with a unique voice.

Break free.

What if you really want to stay at your job?

There’s only one secret:

over-promise and over-deliver.

I once had a boss who told me not to do that. He told me, “once you start delivering on X then everyone is going to want you to do that. Better to lay low.”

He was laid off in 2009.

People are always told that the way to impress is to under-promise and over-deliver.

This is the work of an amateur.

Your bosses know you are under promising. They are not impressed.

Say something that they didn’t think. Do something they did not expect.

Then when the layoffs happen (which they always will), you are the last on the list. And even if you are laid off, then you can take all of the skills you compounded into, and bring them into your next job, or your next business.

What to do if you don’t want to quit but you want a raise

It’s ok. You may or may not get the raise but it’s worth trying while you work on your evil plans.

Do these two things:

A: First recognize that the “job marketplace” really is a marketplace.

To find out your value on the marketplace you have to do what every other product does, whether you want to or not.

You have to apply for other jobs, even if you don’t intend on taking them, and see how other people value you. You are the average of those offers you get. Thats your value on the job marketplace.

B: Ask for advice.

Say to your boss. “I need your help.” These other five companies are valuing me at X. “What would you do if you were me?”

Plus, when I was hired I was doing A, but since I over-promise and over-deliver I am now doing A + B. So what do you think is a fair salary for me?

He will do what he has been trained to do. He will say, “I can’t answer because HR has specific guidelines on how to set salaries. I have to ask them.”

In other words, you are negotiating with someone who can only say “No.”

So ask: who can we talk to in HR. Can we get beyond the standard template if you get me a new title or if you hire me freelance?
Find a way to get to the person who can say “yes” or figure out a way to circumvent that person.

This is the only way to get a raise other than simply waiting for the blessings from above which may or may not come.

Remember not to give your self-esteem (or power over your personal money) to someone else.

Making the move

It’s too easy to slip into melancholy and gloom. Where we seek meaningless stimulus to plug the holes in our lives.

Where we focus on something from our past that latched on and never let go and now we can’t escape it. We are enslaved by it.

Every day I want to be healthy. Every day I want to be creative. Every day I want to improve my relationships. Every day I want to be grateful in difficult situations.

Then I improve. Then my evil plans work.

I can quit my job. I can quit whatever I want.

I won’t be a slave anymore.

Reference : https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-quit-your-job-right-way-james-altucher

The Rogue Psychology of an Entrepreneur

The Rogue Psychology of an Entrepreneur

“I want people to tell me I will fail. I need to know who I am battling against. If I don’t have someone that I want to go after, then how am I going to win?”

This is a peek inside the mind of successful entrepreneur Jeremy Andrus, longtime President/CEO of Skullcandy, and now Traeger Grills.

I had the opportunity to interview Jeremy and ask what drives him. Jeremy explained that he utilizes what he calls the “rogue psychology of an entrepreneur” to propel himself and his businesses to succeed. This psychology, the blueprint for his success, has driven this former underdog to the top of the business world.

Keep a Chip on Your Shoulder

It’s not easy to be an entrepreneur. It requires tough decisions, long hours, a sharp mind, and an intense drive to succeed. This drive, while difficult to maintain, is essential to success. “You have to walk around with a chip on your shoulder,” Jeremy explained. “You need to have something to work for, like you’re an underdog.” Having a “chip on your shoulder” means that you remember rejection and negative energy from others, and you use it to fuel a desire to prove them wrong.

Rejection played an important role in the careers of many successful business icons, from Ben Franklin to Bill Gates. Like these men, Jeremy turned defeat into a burning desire for success. In 2002, he became the subject of a Bloomberg Business article describing the woes of recent business school graduates. A recent graduate of Harvard Business School, he was rejected by 21 of the 22 consulting firms where he applied, who didn’t even give him an interview.

But the way he tells it, being rejected was the best thing that ever happened to Jeremy Andrus. “I got rejected over and over,” he explained. “And I loved it. Rejection just added fuel to my fire. I wouldn’t be where I am today without that experience.” Jeremy didn’t quit; he regrouped. After a short stint at a management consulting firm where he spent time with Fortunate 500 clients filled with apathetic employees in endless cubicles who didn’t even know who their competitors were, he joined the entrepreneurial fight. And this time, he had a very large chip on his shoulder. Only a few years later, Jeremy led Skullcandy to a successful IPO and nearly $300 million in annual revenue.

Today, not many people tell Jeremy he can’t do something. But he still wants a chip on his shoulder to keep him motivated. So what does he do? An avid BYU football fan, Jeremy reads the Salt Lake Tribune comments section that regularly bashes the Cougars.  I don’t know if only reading Trib comments about BYU is what keeps the chip on his shoulder.  I could be wrong, but I imagine there is more he does. He takes that competitive desire with him to work and uses it to propel his company to even greater heights.

Battle the Competition

One sure way to avoid complacency is to have an enemy. Every company needs another company to go after. The tension of competition can drive your company to innovate, compete, and succeed.

“I know a guy who used to be second in command at Under Armour. He kept talking about their enemy, a company he called ‘N.’ Turns out he was talking about Nike,” Jeremy recalled. “He wouldn’t even say their name.” At Traeger, Jeremy named his Monday leadership meeting “WBR” which stands for Weekly Business Review.  “When my team walks into that room I want them to remember the goal is to be no. 1 everywhere we compete.  And if we are not no. 1, we need to pick up the tempo,” he said.  This competitive strategy is one that many other successful CEOs use and that I use in my own company.

Several years ago, when I was a department head for a certain tech company, I told my boss that I was going to leave to become an entrepreneur. He said I was too young and didn’t have enough experience to be successful. That statement burned inside of me, and I vowed to prove him wrong. I set up a similar business and got to work. Within a couple of years, I had successfully sold my business, and his had declined. I attribute my success in large part to that burning desire to succeed.

Jeremy Andrus’s philosophy on “the rogue psychology of an entrepreneur” is controversial, aggressive, and irresistible. Successful entrepreneurs use it to motivate themselves personally and instill in their companies a team spirit and a desire to crush the competition. With a chip on his shoulder and a burning desire to compete, Jeremy embodies entrepreneurial success. Just don’t tell him that.

Reference : https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/rogue-psychology-entrepreneur-ryan-westwood

Why Every Entrepreneur Should Bootstrap At Least Once

Why Every Entrepreneur Should Bootstrap At Least Once.

Starting a company is like eating glass and staring into the abyss. If you feel like you are up for that, then start a company.” Elon Musk

Entrepreneurs belong to part of a select club. In terms of difficulty, some would rank being an entrepreneur right up there next to lion tamers, cliff jumpers, and chainsaw jugglers.

Bootstrapping a company from the ground up is even more difficult, requiring sacrifices that most people wouldn’t consider making. But I also believe that it’s through bootstrapping that entrepreneurs learn some of life’s most important business lessons—lessons that can’t be learned any other way.

Here are four valuable bootstrapping lessons that will set you up for entrepreneurial success.

  1. You learn to prioritize.

When money is tight and business is slow, you learn to make every dollar count.

“There’s no room to be loose with resources, with design, or with responsibilities in a bootstrapped company,” wrote Andrew Gazdecki. “As a result, a culture of discipline in many areas of the business tends to arise organically (otherwise, the company falls apart pretty quickly). So deadlines can’t be allowed to slide far, if at all, and every member of the team is held accountable for delivering their share.”

Prioritizing your resources also forces you to develop additional skill sets—because you don’t have the money to pay anyone else to do it. One of the business owners that I mentor explained it this way: “I pay employees by the hour to perform a variety of services. But if I misjudge the time it takes, then I finish the work myself to keep costs down for clients. This has forced me to become a better estimator, a better servicer provider, and a better business owner. I’ve also been forced to learn things outside of my original skill set, like accounting and software technology, to keep the business running smoothly at a low cost.”

Whether you are bootstrapping or have outside funding, prioritizing resources is something successful entrepreneurs never outgrow.

  1. You watch your cash flow like a hawk.

When every dollar is stretched to its limit, bootstrapping entrepreneurs learn to naturally watch their cash flow to keep their companies solvent and on-track.

 Tim Berry, Founder of Pala Alto Software, described it well: “We spent our own money. We never spent money we didn’t have. We never got into debt on purpose, and we didn’t go looking for other people’s money until we didn’t need it.”

No business can afford to overlook unchecked spending and unmonitored expenses. Learning to monitor expenses from day one will set you up for profitability regardless of the stage of your business.

  1. You build your network to survive.

When you are relying on your own resources, it’s common—and usually necessary—to make deals and trades with other businesses. In my early startup days, my friend Adam Clark gave me a discounted rate on Salesforce.  I could not have achieved access to that platform without the help of a trusted friend.  In another situation, in the early days of PCCareSupport, we traded radio advertising in exchange for tech support, resulting in a large, business-saving contract.

When you have realized success, pay it forward by being approachable to other entrepreneurs in need of your knowledge or expertise.

  1. You never stop selling.

One of the advantages of bootstrapping a company is that you become very adept at sales. Bootstrapping requires you to sell your concept to investors, sell a service to your customers, and sell your vision to employees. Employees in the bootstrapping days are usually underpaid and overworked yet remain because you have sold them on believing in your company. It requires a constant belief in yourself and what you are trying to accomplish. That is a passion that shouldn’t subside when the need for bootstrapping ends.

Bootstrapping your startup isn’t for the soft or easily swayed. But it is a strategy that allows you to learn skills that are difficult to acquire in any other way.  Learning to prioritize, track cash flow, network, and continuously sell create business standards that will carry you through the lean times into an enduring level of success.

Reference : https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-every-entrepreneur-should-bootstrap-least-once-ryan-westwood

Entrepreneurs Never Fail. They Experiment

Article cover image

Entrepreneurs Never Fail. They Experiment.

The media loves to cover a good “rags to riches” startup story. In fact, I can’t think of a single startup success story in the news that doesn’t have some sort of Hollywood-type history to greatness. Somewhere along the line, the ups and downs turn into the stuff of legends. Journalists know we won’t read it unless it keeps our attention.

But, what happens to entrepreneurs when their companies fail? They’re usually financially, mentally, and physically broken. Their stories don’t make the news. When they do, the failure is not what the entrepreneur wants showcased.

More importantly, what do they do next?

I’m not sure about all of them, but I can tell you I’ve worked with more than a few. Here’s what I know…

When Your Startup Fails, Starting Over Doesn’t Come Easy

The Kubler-Ross Stages of Grief Model applies accurately in these cases. I’ve yet to work with an entrepreneur of a failed startup who hasn’t gone through DABDA (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance). Usually, they find me in the last two stages. If they can say the word “failed” in the same sentence as the name of their former company and admit they need help, then they are ready for coaching. Which is good, because they can be helped — but only when they are ready.

For those reading this who have a failed startup as a recent addition to their resume, here’s what I want to tell you:

Step 1: Remind Yourself You Are in an Elite Club

The first thing I tell entrepreneurs of a failed startup is they are members of an elite club. I call it the “Doers Society.” They stepped up and did something most other people don’t have the courage to do. They tried to build a business that would solve problems, make people’s lives better, and create jobs. OK, so it didn’t work out, but at least they tried. That’s special. It deserves a hat tip.

Step 2: Club Members Have Each Other’s Backs

All of us fellow business owners know what you went through. We feel your pain. We all struggle with the same challenges. While we put on a brave front that our businesses are the best thing since sliced bread, don’t be fooled. We’re all worrying about surviving. Fellow society members know a winning company today can become a losing one overnight. We know there is an element of luck involved and it wasn’t on your side this time.

You’re not alone. However, it feels lonely when your startup starts to die and ultimately fails because you are surrounded by employees who don’t feel about the business the way they do. Yes, they may love the idea of the business, they may even feel invested in it. But, it was never their “baby.” They never carried the weight of the entire success (and now the failure) of the business on their backs. We get that. We respect that. We’ve got your back.

Step 3: We’ll Help You When the Real You Returns

While your fellow society members want to help you, they won’t pitch in until you are done feeling sorry for yourself. They won’t promote damaged goods to their network. They need to be certain you are back. They need to feel the fire, see the energy, and experience the passion that you are known for. I actually LOVE this part of the process. Why? The entrepreneur and I get to build another startup model. But this time, it’s for their business-of-one. The personal brand of the entrepreneur gets a makeover. We figure out what they want to do next, and we create the new vision. They go from low to soaring. When you’re in the Doers Society, you know how to execute. You just need the idea. It’s your energy source. Once your back, your network will help you.

Step 4: Prepare for the, “Why Would You Want to Work for Us?” Discussion

For most entrepreneurs, after a failed startup, the next right move is to go back to work for someone else. It can be a hard pill to swallow, but necessary to regain financial, mental, and physical stability. You need to be ready to answer the tough question, “You’re an entrepreneur. Why would you want to work for us?”

This is when you need to be able to tell an objective story about your startup. You apply the Experience = Learn = Grow Model to your story. Which says:

  1. Here’s what happened.
  2. This is where we went wrong.
  3. Now, here’s how I want to use it to help another company succeed.

Here’s what I deeply believe: entrepreneurs NEVER fail. They experiment.Often times, the results aren’t what they expected. That can be disappointing. But, their real success comes when they use the results of those experiments to help improve the results of other businesses.

That’s what you have to offer an employer — and that’s worth a lot! All you need to do is show your worth to another aspiring entrepreneur, and they’ll see the value of bringing on someone who is battle-tested and lived to tell the story.

True story: I was talking to a very savvy CEO of a large company. When I asked him his favorite kind of manager to hire, he said, “Anyone who founded a startup and it failed.” When I asked why, he said, “They have respect for how hard it is to keep a company running. They think like an owner. We speak the same language and have the same priorities. They get it.” See what I mean about the elite club?

P.S. Don’t Drag Your Feet Too Long — You’ve Got Other People to Consider

One last piece of advice to all those entrepreneurs out there with failed startups: Don’t wallow too long. Your family and friends don’t understand what you’ve been through. They aren’t part of the Doers Society. They won’t have sympathy for you. They’ll want you to just grab any old job and accept the loss. They’ll offer all sorts of advice for your job search — most of which won’t apply to you and will just make you more upset.

The longer you sit in the early stages of DABDA, the less support you’ll get and the more difficult your personal relationships may become. You need to get back in the game and figure out your next move. Especially, if family and friends supported you financially during the startup phase. They won’t have much patience. While I’m not suggesting you settle, I am suggesting you show them you are on track and working toward the goal of a contributing positively again. Not only will it make your relationships better, you’ll feel better too because you’ll be on the road back to being able to eventually execute your next startup.

You’re a doer, remember?

Reference : https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20141124105410-7668018-entrepreneurs-never-fail-they-experiment

Can We Teach Our Children to Become Entrepreneurs?

I never planned to become an entrepreneur. In fact I kind of slid into it. But now that I think about it my dad was an entrepreneur for as long as I remember, and so was my grandmother. Some people might come to the conclusion that entrepreneurship gets passed on through the genes. I don’t think so. I believe it has more to do with circumstances – and maybe our up-bringing.

As parents we sometimes think we need to manage our kid’s future. It’s understandable, we want only the best for them, don’t want them to struggle in their adult life. Not my parents, they always trusted me with education & career decisions I made. I realize now that this was probably a key factor in my decision to launch my own business: I believed in myself & had the confidence to take the risk.

So how can we encourage our kids to become entrepreneurs? Or maybe not encourage them, because we want them to make their own decisions, but at least give them the right ground.

Boost their self-motivation

When doing home-work with my 11 year old I sometimes feel that he thinks he is studying for me or his teacher. Children do not understand yet that they study for themselves; you have to keep repeating it to them. This will boost their self-motivation

Encourage them to find their own solutions

Sometimes it’s easiest to give our kids ready-made solutions to their ‘problems’. I’m guilty myself. But unfortunately we are not doing them a favor. If we want them to grow up to be self-thinkers they need to learn in the early years to find their own answers. And yes, you might refer them to Youtube or Google, because that’s what we do when we try to find answers, right?

Push them to think outside the box

Unfortunately at school creativity is not always welcome. They need to study and then regurgitate. So every now and then just let them know that there’s also other approaches than the one the teacher teaches them and that being able to ‘think outside the box’ is a good skill to have.

Teach them how to manage their own money

As small business owners we manage our own money. A lot of businesses fail because of bad financial management. If you teach your kids to manage their own money from as early as 10 years old you will not only help them to understand the value of material things but hopefully also make them into better accountants. As a kid I had a little book in which I wrote down all my ‘Income’ (pocket money) and ‘Expenses’ (candy, toys & later clothes) and my son is now doing the same thing.

Tell them not to take things for granted

In our materialistic society it’s easy for our kids to get a little spoiled and take things for granted. Two thirds of my son’s classmates have an iphone. They think it’s their right 😉 As a small business owner you can only buy the fancy new ipad if you made enough money that month. Explain that to your children. I know I do!

Show them that failure is part of success & encourage them not to give up

Teenagers nowadays give up too fast if things don’t come easy. And they think failure is a permanent state. It is your role as a parent to explain that failure is part of any success path. Encourage them to get up again if they fall!

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

Make them independent

I know we constantly worry about our children. So we sometimes overprotect them, give them a ride when they could take the bike instead, pack their suitcase for camp when they would be old enough to do it themselves. Again, we’re not doing them a favor. If we want them to become independent & responsible human beings we need to let go a bit.


I know a lot of fellow entrepreneurs and I’m sure if I did a survey about their up-bringing a lot of these statements above would get confirmed. So why not try them out? It can’t hurt 😉

Reference : https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140715052647-2686547-can-we-teach-our-children-to-become-entrepreneurs?trk=nus-cha-roll-art-title


25 Most Essential Insights About Innovation

Innovation is difficult. You are not the only one who thinks it’s a challenge. It has been a struggle for me the last 25 years as manager, consultant, facilitator and as founder of theFORTH innovation method. That’s why I love it actually. I love to do difficult things. My personal goal is to make innovation less complex so others will be able to innovate their product – and service portfolios and organizations – themselves.
As one of the first Linkedin Influencers I have written more than 80 posts about innovation the last sixteen months. Last week I reread them all to identify my most essential insights. Some are provoking. Others are simplifying. Here’s a list of quotes from my LinkedIn innovation articles. Please use them to lead your organizations in innovation:
  1. In the long run a company cannot survive on doing the same things better and cheaper.
  2. Most managers are like dogs. They bark at what they don’t know.
  3. Managers say yes to innovation only if doing nothing is a bigger risk.
  4. Continuous innovation is bullshit. You only innovate when you have to.
  5. Organizations frustrate innovative employees.
  6. Starting innovation is like a child starting to walk. Learn to love the struggle!
  7. If there’s no urgency innovation is considered as playtime.
  8. Most people only innovate when they have to. Pick the right moment.
  9. Innovators need the patience of a hunter to wait for a shot that you’re sure you can make.
  10. Never start innovation with an idea. You will fall in love with it. But love is blind.
  11. A big idea is a new simple solution for a relevant problem or dream.
  12. The best innovators are need seekers.
  13. The problem of brainstorms is the inability of people to let go of the old ideas.
  14. If you don’t get new insights you won’t get new ideas.
  15. For most companies evolutionary ideas are quite revolutionary.
  16. You can invent on your own, but in an organization you can never innovate alone!
  17. Think outside the box and present your idea inside the box otherwise nothing will happen.
  18. Innovators should bring back new business not new ideas.
  19. Nobody buys innovation from a clown so bring back a new business case.
  20. The voice of the customer is your best support for a new concept.
  21. Innovators should stop writing plans. Innovation is learning by doing.
  22. Innovation does not stop at the first “No”. That’s the moment it really starts.
  23. Less creative ideas are better because they have a higher chance of becoming reality.
  24. An organization is just like a herd. Focus on the slowest animals. When they start running too your organization really gets innovative.

So here were 24 of my essential insights about innovation. I hope some of them are helpful to you. As I promised 25 insights please do me a favor and share with us, as a comment, your own essential insight about innovation as number 25……..

Source : http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140214065702-206580-25-most-essential-insights-about-innovation?trk=nus-cha-roll-art-title