23 Smart Ways to Increase Your Confidence, Productivity, and Income

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By Benjamin P. Hardy

“Success” isn’t just having lots of money. Many people with lots of money have horribly unhappy and radically imbalanced lives.

Success is continuously improving who you are, how you live, how you serve, and how you relate.

So why won’t most people be successful?

Why don’t most people evolve?

The more evolved you become, the more focused you must be on those few things which matter most. Yet, as Jim Rohn has said, “A lot of people don’t do well simply because they major in minor things.”

This article is a break-down of 23 smart ways to focus on the major things in your life. The result is that you’ll have more confidence, productivity, and income.

Here they are:

1. Deal With 5 Minutes Of Pain Every Morning (And then enjoy several hours of peak productivity and fulfillment)

The first three hours of your day will make or break your success in life, according to psychologist Ron Friedman. And he’s right.

Said he:

“Typically, we have a window of about three hours where we’re really, really focused.”

Your challenge, in all seriousness, is learning how to deal with five minutes of pain.

Because when you set your alarm and wake up early, it will suck. It feels absolutely terrible to wake up early.

But it only really feels terrible for five minutes, if you immediately get of bed and do something.

Otherwise, you compound the pain by either staying in bed or by falling back asleep and feeling regret. And the longer you sit in bed, the worse it gets. Research shows that the longer you hesitate to do something, the less likely you are to do it.

The longer you sit in bed after your alarm goes off, the less likely you’ll actually get out of bed.

There are three fundamental problems with laying in bed after your alarm goes off:

  1. You’re LYING to yourself. The night before, when you set the alarm, you told yourself you’d GET UP when that alarm went off. By lying to yourself, you’re living in a state of internal conflict. The opposite of self-deception is self-trust, which is another word for confidence. Research in psychology has found that confidence is NOT A CAUSE, but rather, an effect. You gain confidence by doing what you say you’re going to do.
  2. Would you make an important decision, such as a large financial investment, while in an exhausted and mentally-fogged state? Probably not. Then why would you decide WHEN TO GET UP while in such a state? The state in which you make your decisions determines the quality of those decisions. Thus, you should make the decision about when to get up, not while you’re exhausted and lying in that comfortable bed, but the night before while you’re clear (see #23). Then, the moment your alarm goes off, immediately act upon the decision you previously made. Trust that decision. You made it for a reason. If you make your first decision of the day in a reactive manner, what tone are you setting for the rest of the day? Similarly, what tone are you setting for the rest of your life?
  3. The pain of waking up only lasts five minutes. Usually less, actually, if you have a strategy for waking yourself up. When your alarm goes off, don’t give yourself time to negotiate with your bed. Get up immediately and proactively DO SOMETHING to wake yourself up. That could be getting in the shower immediately. It could be going to a different room. I myself get up, put on my shoes, walk straight to my car, and drive to a parking lot outside of my neighborhood to do some reading and journal writing. Usually, I’m already feeling great while in the car. The main idea is that you want to CHANGE ENVIRONMENTS as quickly as possible. Your bedroom subconsciously triggers, especially at that time in the morning, the desire to sleep. When you change environments, even just going to the bathroom and flipping on the light, you’ll be more alert. Research in psychology shows that changing your environment enhances your mindfulness.

That five minutes of pain is the barrier stopping the majority of people from waking up early.

That five minutes of pain can quite literally separate you — mentally, spiritually, socioeconomically, and in all other ways — from most people.

Five minutes is likely the distinguishing factor of whether you’ll have a great day, or an average one. Similarly, 30 days is the difference between having bad habits and good ones.

Yet, most people remain on the WRONG SIDE of those five minutes and those 30 days. If they’d just endure some short difficulty, they’d open themselves to a world of opportunity. Yet, they cheat themselves, and remain stuck, always WANTING to make the change, but not being willing to endure a short duration of purging.

Waking up early, and developing a strategic routine can transform you into a very intelligent, spiritual, organized, and successful person within a relatively short period of time (approx. 1–10 years).

Not convinced? Check out these quotes:

“Lose an hour in the morning, and you will be all day hunting for it.”

— Richard Whately

“The early morning has gold in its mouth.”

— Benjamin Franklin

“The difference between rising at five and seven o’clock in the morning, for forty years, supposing a man to go to bed at the same hour at night, is nearly equivalent to the addition of ten years to a man’s life.”

— Philip Doddridge

“It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.”

— Aristotle

“The sun has not caught me in bed in fifty years.”

— Thomas Jefferson

“One key to success is to have lunch at the time of day most people have breakfast.”

— Robert Brault

2. Start Your Day With Your #1 Priority (Not what’s urgent)

It’s easy to start the day with something that seems good, but ultimately isn’t all that important.

There are countless good things you could do.

But what is the FIRST thing you should do?

What’s the ideal way to START your day?

That depends on your #1 priority in life. If it’s your faith, you should probably connect with God and increase your faith. If it’s your business, you should probably get moving on your business.

For several years, the first thing I did in the morning was go to the gym. And although health and fitness are essential to me, they are not my #1 priority.

If you don’t make time for your #1 priority, then is it really a priority?

In the book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey explains the importance of putting “first things, first.” To illustrate the concept, Covey puts several rocks in a bucket. When you put the little rocks in first, you can’t fit all of the big rocks. But when you start with the big rocks, the little rocks can easy fill the empty spaces.

How you start something determines your trajectory.

Getting up early isn’t enough. You need to put first things first. When you put your top priorities first, then you ensure they make it into the bucket of your day. After your main priorities have been completed, the rest will fill the gaps.

This is essential to quality decision making. The best decision makers do things that simultaneously make everything else in their life easy.

You make ONE decision that makes several other decisions either irrelevant or easier. When you fill your time only with THE BEST, then everything else takes care of itself. The distractions and lower priorities are either given their allotted time or they disappear from your life. Because you already filled your life with stuff of much higher value.

3. Face Your Resistance & Do What You’re Avoiding (That one thing that really matters, and will matter in 10 years, that you don’t want to do)

“I know that each of us has much to do. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by the tasks we face. But if we keep our priorities in order, we can accomplish all that we should.” — Joseph Wirthlin

If you’ve been resisting doing something for a while, everything else in your life will suffer.

For example, I’m very close to finishing my PhD. But there are some things related to completing my PhD that I’ve been avoiding/procrastinating.

I can very easily fill my time with a lot of other really cool, important, and interesting things.

But always in the back of my mind, I know I’m neglecting something that’s crucial to my personal goals. I’m putting off something that really matters to me. Thus, I’m living in a state of incongruence.

Interestingly, WHEN I FINALLY GET MYSELF to work on my dissertation, even for just a few hours, I immediately feel a SURGE OF ENERGY toward the other important stuff in my life.

I begin to feel hope that I can succeed.

I begin to see more beauty in life and in the people around me.

I begin to feel motivated to succeed in my health, my relationships, and my other goals.

4. Embrace Multiple Learning Styles (It all happens when you face the resistance and put first things first)

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.” — Henry Ford

According to 50 years of research on learning theory, we all have a dominant learning style. We all also have several backup learning styles we rely on when we’re in a difficult situation. However, there are also several other learning styles that each of us neglect and avoid.

Interestingly, most people have a “growth” mindset about the learning style they are comfortable with. For example, if you like math and learn in analytical ways, you probably believe you can get better at math. You probably approach challenges and failures as opportunities to grow. You probably seek out mentoring, education, and help. You’re probably curious and seeking to expand your knowledge and horizon about that thing.

However, most people have a “fixed” mindset about the learning styles they aren’t comfortable with. For example, if you don’t like writing, you probably believe you can’t get better at it. There are some things YOU simply can’t learn. They aren’t in your DNA or something, right?

Much of the work related to my dissertation is way outside of my dominant learning style (such as heavy statistics). Hence, I avoid doing it. I much prefer work that’s in alignment with my dominant and developed learning styles (like writing and teaching).

However, when you engage in an activity that you resist, you active areas of your brain and emotions that you’ve suppressed.

You make tangible progress toward goals that are currently outside your comfort zone.

You open yourself to a new world of learning and experience.

You make new connections in your brain.

You gain confidence in yourself by watching yourself do something difficult.

You gain more confidence by doing something you believe you should do, and intrinsically want to do, but that is difficult.

I see many people, for example, who want to be artists — whether that be a writer, musician, etc.

But many of these people never succeed because the business and marketing side of being an artist are outside of their dominant learning style. And they refuse to learn those essential components.

They have a fixed-mindset about business and marketing, and therefore end up settling for a life they don’t really want.

Ironically, if they’d just get good at business and embrace some of their difficult emotions and underdeveloped learning styles, THEIR ART WOULD IMPROVE.

It would improve because they’d demonstrate to themselves how truly committed they are to their dreams. They’re committed enough to do stuff that sucks. They’re committed to not just being a dreamer, but a professional.

5. How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything — This Is Fact (When you’re out of alignment, your whole life becomes a mess)

“You cannot simultaneously want to eat a chocolate cake every day in front of the TV and want to be slim. You cannot want to be single and carefree and want to be in a loving, exclusive relationship.” — Malti Bhojwani

When one area of your life is out of alignment, everything else suffers.

You may compensate in one area of life for a while. For example, you may obsess about your work or your health, while neglecting your higher priorities.

But this is extremely unsustainable. Eventually and always, it will come back to you.

The things you excel at will eventually become your greatest weaknesses, unless you keep them in proper balance.

6. Know & Then Strategically Define Your WHY (You get to decide your reasons)

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

The purpose of clarifying your WHY is two-fold.

  1. Clarity leads to motivation
  2. Operating from your deepest conviction creates authentic and optimal performance

So how do you get to your why?

It’s really not that hard.

I recently learned a brilliant strategy for getting to your why from Joe Stumpf, who is an author, CrossFit champion, and renowned transformational coach.

Here’s how it works:

Think about what it is you want, and ask yourself this simple question:

What about ___________ is important to me?

Just answer the first thing that comes to mind.

Don’t over complicate it.

If your goal is to work from home, then ask yourself the question:

What about “working from home” is important to me?

Your answer might be something like, “to have a more flexible schedule.”

You then put THAT into the previous question.

What about “having a more flexible schedule” is important to me?

Feeling less stressed and controlled.

What about “feeling less stressed and controlled” is important to me?

I work better, and am happier, when I can manage myself.

What about “working better, being happy, and managing myself” is important to me?

— — —

It’s good to go at least 7-questions deep into this exercise.

If you’re answering really honest with yourself, this exercise will expose two things:

  1. Key events that have shaped you (often from childhood)
  2. Key beliefs/values you hold about the world

If you can get to the core of WHY you’re doing what you’re doing, you can then realize just how important that thing is to you.

Far too often, we only think of our base-level motivations for what we’re doing, which is less personally meaningful. Thus, our performance doesn’t come from our core.

For example, I’m starting this business to have more flexibility in my schedule.

Sure, that’s important. But it’s not THAT INSPIRING. Why do you want more flexibility?

Go deeper.

A lot deeper.

And once you get the crux, then remind yourself, daily, OF THAT REASON, for starting a business.

Here’s what’s great though. You get to decide HOW YOU FRAME your “Why.” You get to decide your reasons for what you do.

Those reasons COME FROM YOU. They don’t need to be assigned from an outside source. To quote the famed Diana Ross, “You can’t just sit there and wait for people to give you that golden dream, you’ve got to get out there and make it happen for yourself.

In the epic TED talk, philosopher Ruth Chang explains how to make really really hard choices. You get down to the WHY, and then ultimately, you define that WHY for yourself.

Yes, you have a story. But you get to shape that story. You get to shape your reasons. And when you do, then not only can you act from your highest values, but you get to proactively decide and define what those values are.

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7. Be a GIVER, Not A Matcher Or A Taker (“Life gives to the givers and takes from the takers .”— Joe Polish)

“Being a giver is not good for a 100-yard dash, but it’s valuable in a marathon.” — Adam Grant

Many people are TAKERS, especially those who desperately want success.

They engage in relationships solely for what they can get out of those relationships. Put bluntly, these people are TRANSACTIONAL.

Everything in their life is a transaction, or an exchange.

Takers operate out of SCARCITY.

They don’t TRULY give. Their giving only goes to a certain point. Moreover, they are only grateful when they get what they want. They undervalue what others give.

If the relationship isn’t giving them what they want, there is no appreciation. The relationship ends.

8. Only Engage In Transformational Relationships (Because all transactional ones will end soon anyways)

“I take pleasure in my transformations. I look quiet and consistent, but few know how many women there are in me.” — Anaïs Nin

When two givers come together, transformation can occur — where the new WHOLE becomes infinitely more than the sum of its parts.

When a giver attempts to work with a taker, that relationship will only last until the taker has what they want. Or, until the giver realizes what is truly happening.

According to research from Wharton professor, Adam Grant, givers are both the least and most successful types of people. Some people give to a fault. They give everything they’ve got and, most importantly, they give to the WRONG TYPES OF PEOPLE.

When you give to takers, the pie gets smaller and eventually becomes exhausted.

When you give to givers, the pie continually gets bigger and bigger.

Thus, being a giver isn’t enough. You need to give to the right people if you want your success and relationships to last. Who you surround yourself with, and who you work with, really matters.

I’ve engaged in many business relationships over the past few years — some with givers and some with takers.

Takers are very hard to spot in the beginning, because they are very manipulative and cunning.

Strategic Coach founder, Dan Sullivan, says he can spot a taker within 10 minutes of being with them. Takers are motivated by greed, not growth. You have to be really intuitive to spot the subtle cues.

I’ve decided that, to the extent I can, I’m no longer going to engage in long-term relationships with takers. I’m done with transactional relationships. I prefer relationships that lead to growth and transformation.

In order for these types of relationships to exist, you must be willing to face brutal truths. Transformational relationships are messy. If you trust someone, you’ll be willing to engage in ideological conflict with that person. That conflict is NOT about the person, but rather, about moving past breakthrough and toward clarity.

Conflict is rough.

Most people quit relationships when conflict arises.

You’ll know someone is a giver when they genuinely help you without asking for anything in return. And they are truly, genuinely, happy for the success they help you have.

Those are the types of people you want to work with.

Givers also stay with you when you’re at a low point. They stick with you through conflicts and challenges.

9. Don’t Overvalue What You Contribute To Your Relationships While Undervaluing What Others Contribute (This is what basically everyone does)

“Through pride we are ever deceiving ourselves. But deep down below the surface of the average conscience a still, small voice says to us, something is out of tune.” — Carl G. Jung

Think about your relationships.

In most of those relationships, do you OVERVALUE or UNDERVALUE what you contribute?

Moreover, do you OVERVALUE or UNDERVALUE what others in the relationship contribute?

Usually, people overvalue what they contribute and undervalue what others contribute.

If you’re a giver, you value and appreciate what others contribute. You’re genuinely grateful. You don’t take others for granted.

You don’t KEEP SCORE in your relationships.

10. Work With People Who Are Craftsman, Not Salesman (But who also know how to market)

“Quality is not an act, it is a habit.” — Aristotle

“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” — Steve Jobs

Similar to the points above, the quality of life you have (and the quality of the work you do) is based on who you spend your life with.

I’ve seen through multiple collaborations that most people have LOW STANDARDS for themselves and their work.

They procrastinate, then scramble to get things done last minute resulting in a lack of quality in the final product.

They’re takers — meaning they try to do AS LITTLE as possible rather than trying to do AS MUCH as possible.

How a person does anything is how they do everything. If they lack details in their work, they lack important details in the design of the other areas of their lives.

More recently, I’ve decided to work with people who are true craftsman and craftswomen. Yes, the process may be a little bit slower. But the final outcome is 10X or 100X better.

Things are less rushed.

Quality of life is better.

Quality of planning is more thorough.

Expectations of results are much higher.

Learning is much deeper.

There is less stress and feeling like an imposter.

When I say quality of life, I mean that in the literal sense. Working with people who expect a lot of themselves in their work, but also in the foods they eat, how they spend their time, who they spend their time with, the quality of products they buy, etc.

Far more attention to detail.

Far more passion for living.

For more GIVING to life and experiencing moments.

There are lots of people who are strictly SALESMAN, out there. These people are generally takers. They’re really good at talking, but their life is a mess.

You want to work with people who are craftsman and professionals. Yet, these artists are also scientists and marketers. Their first priority is in doing brilliant work, but they aren’t starving artists. They study the business-side as well, and also the strategy and marketing.

You can’t be a one-trick pony.

You need to work with people who care about the success and reach of your work. And who will help you raise the expectations you have for yourself, for your work, and for the service you can do in the world.

11. Elevate Your Sense For What You Deserve In Your Life (Because what you receive will elevate how you contribute)

“Giving as you get acknowledges the Universe as truly abundant. Giving taps into the spiritual dimension that multiplies us, our thinking, and our results. The Enlightened Millionaire knows this: There is an ocean of abundance and one can tap into it with a teaspoon, a bucket, or a tractor trailer. The ocean doesn’t care.” — The One Minute Millionaire

As you seek to give more — to genuinely be a giver and not a taker in life — your sense of what YOU CAN HAVE expands and multiplies.

You realize that your life is a reflection of what you believe you deserve.

Your sense of what you deserve grows as you have a greater desire to help other people. You end up NEEDING to use your time better, because you have important work to do. Because you no longer settle for less.

Your standards for yourself, the world, and the people around you increase.

Your expectations become far more positive and clear. And what you expect is generally what you get. Psychologists have developed a full-fledged theory around this idea and it’s one of the dominant theories in motivation psychology: It’s called Expectancy Theory.

It’s based on three things:

  1. How bad you want something
  2. How much you believe you can actually have/do what you want
  3. Your belief that the means by which you seek your goal will actually bring about the desired result

You get in life what you expect you will. To quote Dan Sullivan, “Our eyes only see and our ears only hear what our brain is looking for.”

You elevate what you expect when you become increasingly capable and confident.

When you develop skills and abilities coupled with faith and resolve, your future becomes predictable.

It becomes an increasingly upward cycle of expectancy.

  • You KNOW you can do more
  • You’ve watched yourself grow and transform
  • And you have higher and higher standards for yourself.

You watch as your world becomes better and better.

12. Elevate Your Sense For What You Can Contribute (Because if you’re willing to work and learn, you can do masterful things)

“If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.” — Michelangelo

“Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person.” — Albert Einstein

“There is a fluency and an ease with which true mastery and expertise always expresses itself, whether it be in writing, whether it be in a mathematical proof, whether it be in a dance that you see on stage, really in every domain.” — Angela Duckworth

“I wish that I had known back then that a mastery of process would lead to a product. Then I probably wouldn’t have found it so frightening to write.” — Elizabeth George

People don’t learn in the abstract. They learn THROUGH DOING.

Paralysis by analysis will stop you from developing a sense of true mastery.

Mastery comes from embracing difficult emotions. You’ll face difficult emotions because, in order to gain true mastery, you must understand all sides of something.

You can’t just have a single-dimensional understanding. You must have a four or five dimensional understanding.

You need to be able to integrate what you know with tons of new information, and to be able to quickly connect your understanding with things from seemingly disconnected domains.

This requires embracing all of the learning styles listed above.

It requires breaking past emotional blocks.

It requires expanding your sense for what you can do and achieve and contribute.

As you grow in your abilities, your sense of what you can contribute will expand. Naturally, you’ll desire to help other people. You’ll have a broadened view of the world.

You’ll see things more clearly.

You’ll see things differently than the masses.

Consequently, you’ll be able to solve problems that most people can’t solve, because they are blind to them. As Dr. Wayne Dyer has said, “When you change the way you see things, the things you see change.

The more education a person gets, the more empathetic they can become. There is no power in ignorance.

13. Decide What Kind Of Life You Want, Then Figure Out How To Get It (When the ‘why’ is clear, you’ll figure out ‘how’)

“Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.” — Oscar Wilde

Very few people live within their means.

Most people, particularly in Western Culture, have bought heavily into consumerism. They live paycheck-to-paycheck.

For most people, the notion of “living within your means” is the best advice that could be given.

And indeed, living within your means should be the foundation of a healthy financial life.

But that’s where most financial advice stops.

Rather than basing your lifestyle on what you’re currently making, a far more powerful and creation-based approach is to proactively decide what you want, and then figure out how to get it.

When you’re a giver, it’s not about HAVING more solely for the sake of it. Although having more is certainly not a sin.

The problem is becoming absorbed in stuff, trying to keep up, etc.

In an interview at the annual Genius Network Event in 2013, Tim Ferriss was asked, “With all of your various roles, do you ever get stressed out? Do you ever feel like you’ve taken on too much?”

Ferriss responded:

“Of course I get stressed out. If anyone says they don’t get stressed out they’re lying. But one thing that mitigates that is taking time each morning to declare and focus on the fact that ‘I have enough.’ I have enough. I don’t need to worry about responding to every email each day. If they get mad that’s their problem.”

Ferriss was later asked during the same interview:

“After having read The 4-Hour Workweek, I got the impression that Tim Ferriss doesn’t care about money. You talked about how you travel the world without spending any money. Talk about the balance and ability to let go of caring about making money.”

Ferriss responded:

“It’s totally okay to have lots of nice things. If it is addiction to wealth, like in Fight Club, “The things you own end up owning you,” and it becomes a surrogate for things like long-term health and happiness — connection — then it becomes a disease state. But if you can have nice things, and not fear having them taken away, then it’s a good thing. Because money is a really valuable tool.”

Money is a tool. The more you make, the more good you can do.

Rather than fitting your dreams into your current lifestyle, fit your lifestyle around your dreams.

Decide what you want. Create a bold vision for your life. Decide how you want to contribute, how you want to live. THEN, figure out the means of making that happen.

When your WHY is clear and powerful, you’ll figure out the means to make it happen. That’s how faith as a principle of power works.

14. Serve & Give As Much As You Can (Not to boast or put others down, but to have a clear conscious)

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” — Winston S. Churchill

“Give, but give until it hurts.” — Mother Teresa

There are two reasons to be a giver (all other reasons stem from these):

  • Because you genuinely want to help other people
  • To have a clear conscious

You don’t give to boast.

You don’t give to put others in debt to you.

You don’t give to get ahead.

You don’t give to make others feel inferior.

You give because you MUST. You can’t not give. You give of yourself, and organize your life to give so you can have a clear conscious about how you’re living your life.

You give because you understand the law of abundance.

You give because you believe in humanity.

When you have a clear conscious, you operate better in all areas of life. You sleep better, and deeper. You’re more present in all situations. You digest food better. You’re more present to the needs of others. You learn faster. You’re more guided and inspired in your course of life. You’re more discerning about decisions and relationships.

15. Automate Your Income As Quickly As Possible To Free Up Time (Because there is lots of money to be made, and you can help a lot of people)

“You become financially free when your passive income exceeds your expenses.” — T. Harv Eker

“The key to financial freedom and great wealth is a person’s ability or skill to convert earned income into passive income and/or portfolio income.” — Robert Kiyosaki

The sooner you create passive income streams, the better.

In the book, The Millionaire Next Door, Dr. Thomas Stanley present his findings of one of the largest studies of the American wealthy ever performed.

Here’s the gist of what the books teaches:

“Courage can be developed. But it cannot be nurtured in an environment that eliminates all risks, all difficulty, all dangers. It takes considerable courage to work in an environment in which one is compensated according to one’s performance. Most affluent people have courage. What evidence supports this statement? Most affluent people in America are either business owners or employees who are paid on an incentive basis.” — Dr. Thomas Stanley

16. Give 10X The Value Of What You Say You Will (Blow people’s minds)

“The moment you make a mistake in pricing, you’re eating into your reputation or your profits.” — Katharine Paine

How do you get to passive income?

How do you create a sustainable and incredible business?

You GIVE WAY MORE than people pay for. You focus on value, not price.

When you focus on value, you can actually charge very large sums of money, because you know people will get at least 10X the value of what they paid for.

When you’re a giver, you MUST give more value than people pay. You do it because you find joy in doing your very best work. You do it because you value the fact that people came to you.

It’s really not about price.

People care about value.

Take this quote by musician, Fergie, for example:

“For me, it’s not about price. It’s about necessity, quality, and usefulness. Like, I have my Wet N Wild 666 lip liner. It’s 99 cents and always has been. I started using it when I was in high school, and it’s great.”

If you can blow people’s mind’s for less than $50, it won’t be hard to get them to pay you more. You have to earn people’s trust.

You have to genuinely create stuff that HELPS them.

What if you didn’t make a penny until people got the results you promised them?

How would that change your work?

How would that change the quality you put in?

That should be your benchmark. And then you should help them EVEN more.

17. Give Away Most Of Your Work For Free

“With the price of life these days, you’ve got to get everything for free you can.” — Carl Rogers

We live in what some have called the “Thank You” Economy.

Here’s how the THANK YOU economy works:

  • People are getting more used to having everything at their fingertips
  • People are getting used to having their needs met quickly, and cheap
  • Interestingly, people are also lowering their standards for the quality of services they are getting (and information they are consuming), because so much stuff is now available for free

If you want to build an enormous clientele, you also need to give away LOTS for free. But your free stuff should be so valuable that it makes people want to come back for more. And even after people have become paying customers, you should give them lots for free.

You build trust and community through SERVING PEOPLE.

Transformational relationships begin with giving, not a transaction. Do transformational relationships involve transactions? Absolutely! Usually far bigger ones than transactional relationships.

But those transactions are done for an entirely different purpose.

They’re done as a win-win. Not as a win-lose.

These transactions usually occur after one or both parties have been abundant benefactors. Why else would someone invest?

18. Make More Stuff (But only really good stuff)

Ship often. Ship lousy stuff, but ship. Ship constantly.

Skip meetings. Often. Skip them with impunity. Ship.

Trick the lizard if you must, but declare war on it regardless. Understand that the only thing between you and the success you seek in a chaotic world is a lizard that figures out that safe is risky and risky is safe. The paradox of our time is that the instincts that kept us safe in the day of the saber tooth tiger and General Motors are precisely the instincts that will turn us into road kill in a faster than fast internet-fueled era.

Your behavior is what alters your identity.

Most people raised in a Western Culture have this idea exactly backwards. We’ve obsessed ourselves so much with the mind that it’s become everything.

We think the mind is the cause of everything. It’s not.

Mountains of research in Social Psychology portray that self-perception is the product of choices and environments.

This is VERY good news.

It means you can change your identity by simply changing your behavior and environment.

If you want more creativity, you simply need to do more creative work. You battle the resistance and get to work. Then, creativity becomes non-stop.

If you want to be a morning person, start getting up early. Before you know it, you’ll identify as a morning person (both to yourself and other people).

Make more stuff and your creativity will increase.

Give more love and your ability to love and receive love will increase.

Be more successful and you’ll become more successful (lol!).

19. Become The Best In The World At What You Do (Know your niche, know your audience, and serve that audience better than anyone else is)

What is it you actually do?

More importantly, who are the people you help?

And even more important than that, what is the PROBLEM you’re trying to solve for THOSE PEOPLE?

Don’t define your audience or ideal customer by their demographics. Instead, define your audience by the problems they have.

What are they challenged with?

Why does this matter?

How can you help?

How can you help better than anyone else in the world?

How can you help them so much that you become a hero to them?

How can you give so much to these people that you completely change their lives for the better?

In order for you to do this, you not only need to know your audience, you need to know your niche.

You need to develop the skills, philosophies, and services that will solve their problems.

The people you serve may not even know they have the problem. But you do, and you’re gonna to create a new and better future for them. Because you’re a both a craftsman and a giver. A true professional.

20. Invest Heavily In Yourself (The more you invest, the more committed you will be)

Throughout my doctoral research as an organizational psychologist, the singular concept I’ve focused my studies on is what I call, “The Point of No Return.” This is the moment it becomes easier to move toward your goals than to avoid them. Actually, it’s the instant that pursuing your highest ambitions becomes your only option.

How does this work?

Primarily, it happens in the form of an intense investment, which forces you to move forward out of compulsion.

Once invested to the point you must go forward, your identity and complete orientation toward your objective changes.

Because you must go forward, you’re no longer confused about what you need to do. You’re no longer uncertain if you’re going to act. You have already acted, and now you need to make good on that action. And there’s several psychological reasons why you need to make good on that action:

  • To not look like an idiot (although this isn’t very powerful)
  • To justify your investment
  • To be consistent with the behaviors you’ve performed (hint: your identity follows your behavior, not necessarily the other way around despite “common wisdom”)
  • Because you truly want to achieve a particular goal, and you’ve now created external conditions that will eventuate in a self-fulfilling prophecy

Here’s my favorite narrative from my Master’s Thesis, where I interviewed several entrepreneurs and wannabe entrepreneurs. The main difference? Entrepreneurs have had some form of “Point of No Return” experience, whereas wannabe entrepreneurs haven’t created such experiences.

One of the people I interviewed was a 17-year-old kid who wanted to sell shoes. He and his “partner” — one of his high school friends — invested $10,000 into a shipment of shoes. Here’s how he describes his “Point of No Return”:

Yeah, once we had all of our money in the same inventory it was all or nothing. That really scared me, just knowing that it was like do or die. I had to sell the shoes. You couldn’t turn back, you couldn’t just get rid of them and get cash back,you had to go forward.

My follow-up question was, “Did anything change after this moment?”

Here’s what he said:

After that, once I realized that we were truly going and everything, I think it really just opened me up to what I was able to do. At that point, I was like okay, I actually started a company, I’ve invested in it and now I need to run this thing. That’s when I think I really saw that I was running the company. It really changed my leadership role, I think, with my partners.

Once you’ve passed your point of no return, you’ve fully bought into your own vision. You’re committed. Your role, and thus identity, change. You’ve removed alternatives that were nothing more than distractions anyways. You’ve forced your own hand and now must move in the direction you want to go. You’re all in.

What about you …

Are you invested?

Your level of success can almost directly be measured to how personally invested you are.

21. Become A Speaker & Teach Others What You’ve Learned (Speaking is the most lucrative and powerful way to communicate)

“You can speak well if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart.” — John Ford

“Let thy speech be better than silence, or be silent.” — Dionysius of Halicarnassus

“The success of your presentation will be judged not by the knowledge you send but by what the listener receives.” — Lilly Walters

No matter which business you are in, you’re success will 10X if you learn how to speak clearly, powerfully, and simply.


Why are ELON MUSK’s companies so successful?

Are they really the most innovative?


But Elon also understands the importance of getting the message out.

He understands the power of publicity.

He understands the power of story.

And he regularly gets in front of the world to share the message.

If you can teach clearly and speak powerfully, your whole career will change. As Simon Sinek said:

“There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.

Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY I mean your purpose, cause or belief — WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?

People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.

We are drawn to leaders and organizations that are good at communicating what they believe. Their ability to make us feel like we belong, to make us feel special, safe and not alone is part of what gives them the ability to inspire us.”

22. Learn In Public (Even when you’re scared)

“I’m not talking about rehearsal. I’m talking about doing what musicians and boxers and lion tamers all do in order to get ready for their work. To become awesome at their crafts. They practice in public.” — Jeff Goins

“Obviously, there is a huge difference between abstract, theoretical knowledge and knowledge developed and tested in the crucible of experience” — Lorin K. Hansen

If you want to learn something fast, learn in public.

Learn through raw experience.

Learn through failure.

But put yourself in a position where you’re getting actual coaching. Surround yourself with a support system of people who love HELPING YOU and INVESTING in you.

You do this by both being a giver, and also, by being a good receiver.

When people help and teach you, be an incredible student.

When you take what people teach and get incredible results, people want to help you more. Your results become a reflection of THEM.

It takes courage to learn in public.

It takes courage to practice in public.

Most people won’t do it.

But if you do, your courage will be rewarded 10X. Because you’ll both learn 10X faster, and you’ll also garner huge respect.

23. Take A Few Minutes Every Night To Mentally Prepare Yourself For The Next Day (You need to have made the firm DECISION that you’ll get up when the alarm goes off)

“Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious.”

— Thomas Edison

The success of your morning begins the night before.

All you have to do is spend a few minutes making FIRM decisions about what you’ll do when you first wake up. You don’t need a huge to-do list. You just need to know the FIRST thing you’re going to do.

Right before bed, you set the stage for all that will happen EVEN WHILE YOU SLEEP.

Just a few minutes of thoughtful and affirmative meditation will put your subconscious on a path toward achieving your goals.

When you wake up the next morning, you’ll be primed for success. The only thing you need to do is immediately get out of bed.

Don’t renegotiate with your pillow. You’re in no state to make a decision.

You already made that decision.

So just get up, get moving, and have an incredible morning. Then have an incredible day. Then have an incredible year. And then make an amazing life.

Successful mornings don’t happen by chance. They happen by choice. Neither does a successful life.

This article was originally published on Medium.

Follow us here and subscribe here for all the latest news on how you can keep Thriving.

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33 Business Books Every Professional Should Read Before Turning 30

[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”grid” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” z_index=””][vc_column][vc_column_text]Your 20s are the time when you lay the foundation for your career and finances, which means there’s plenty to learn along the way.

To help you figure out how to navigate the professional world and set yourself on the right trajectory, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite business books.

They include career guides, business memoirs, and academic research on how to maximize your time and network.

Here are the business books we think every professional should read before turning 30.

Drake Baer contributed to this post.

‘So Good They Can’t Ignore You’ by Cal Newport

Some of the most common advice you’ll hear when you’re starting out is that if you pursue your passion, the money will follow.

But there’s a big caveat to that, argues Newport, an author and a professor. For most people, he says, mastery of a certain skill can lead to finding your passion, since it can open new doors and allow you to progress in your career.

He’s not suggesting you give up on your dreams. Rather, ensure that you pair them with a dose of reality and make yourself valuable in the marketplace.

Find it here »

‘The Black Swan’ by Nassim Taleb

People love the illusion of certainty provided by predictions.

In “The Black Swan,” investor-philosopher Taleb diagnoses the way people misguidedly lean on prediction as a way of moving through the world, and reveals how the most structured of systems are the most vulnerable to collapse — like the financial system in 2007.

It’s rare to find a book that will change the way you think about the world. This is one such book.

Find it here »

‘Lean In’ by Sheryl Sandberg

Regardless of whether you agree with Sandberg’s theories on gender and society, “Lean In” is a must-read for anyone looking to join the conversation around women and leadership.

In the book, she combines compelling research with moving personal stories to examine how women can sometimes unintentionally undermine their professional progress. Moreover, she offers guidance for women and men looking to promote women’s career success.

It’s a work that will make readers of any gender question their assumptions about what it really takes to succeed — and be satisfied — at work.

Find it here »

‘The Alliance’ by Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha, and Chris Yeh

Hoffman, the billionaire cofounder of LinkedIn, is rethinking the relationship between managers and employees.

In “The Alliance,” he and his co-authors argue that we’re long past the age of spending an entire career at a single company. But, they say, our workplaces haven’t adapted to the change.

They explain that by establishing an alliance between the company and its employees through “tours of duty,” tailored to what the employee wants to get from his or her time at a company, it can “invest in the long-term future without sacrificing adaptability,” much the way a dominant professional sports team operates.

Find it here »

‘Give and Take’ by Adam Grant

Something in our culture tells us we need to be manipulative and backstabbing to grow professionally.

But in “Give and Take,” Grant, a Wharton organizational psychologist, outlines why that view is dead wrong. The research indicates that people who create the most value for others are the ones who end up at the top of their fields. And Grant shows you how.

Find it here »

‘Zero to One’ by Peter Thiel

Today’s 20-somethings live in a world where startups turn young entrepreneurs into billionaires, and tech founders have replaced Wall Street hotshots as what Tom Wolfe called “Masters of the Universe.”

Thiel, a billionaire investor and entrepreneur, pulls back the curtain on this world. It’s an enjoyable and concise guide to how game-changing businesses are built and managed.

Find it here »

‘#GirlBoss’ by Sophia Amoruso

Amoruso, founder of online retailer Nasty Gal, isn’t afraid to get personal.

In “#GirlBoss,” she shares stories from her wayward youth, including stealing and dumpster diving, and how it paved the way for her tremendous success.

The book is chock-full of practical advice that will inspire you to follow your passion and forge your own professional path. The bottom line? It won’t be easy, but it will definitely be worth it.

Find it here »

‘How to Win Friends & Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie

“How to Win Friends & Influence People” has remained a bestselling book since the Great Depression for its timeless wisdom.

Carnegie’s book, a favorite of legendary investor Warren Buffett’s, is more focused on the psychology behind daily interactions and how to analyze human behavior to emerge as a leader and influencer.

Carnegie’s language and references can be charmingly dated, but the core lessons on how to overcome conflict and inspire people to open up to you are just as valuable today as they were decades ago.

Find it here »

‘Drive’ by Dan Pink

Pink is the bestselling author of some of the past decade’s most popular and insightful career guides.

His 2011 book “Drive” argues that the typical rewards-based approach to motivating yourself is insufficient, and instead needs to tap into the values of autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

Find it here »

‘StrengthsFinder 2.0’ by Tom Rath

The philosophy behind “StrengthsFinder 2.0” is that we should spend less time focusing on our flaws and weaknesses and more time on what we do well.

Based on a 2001 book published by Gallup, this second edition features a strengths assessment as well as techniques for putting those strengths into action.

As you consider what career your personality and skill set are best suited for, this book will help you find your professional niche and figure out how you can best contribute to society.

Find it here »

‘Friend and Foe’ by Adam Galinsky and Maurice Schweitzer

Success in the workplace is ultimately about understanding the psychology behind human interaction. There are few better places to start than “Friend and Foe,” in which two professors make the case that business relationships are about competition andcooperation — and knowing how to balance the two.

The book takes scientific research and turns it into practical tricks you can apply in your daily life. Readers learn how to gain power and wield it effectively, how to build trust among peers and clients, and how to negotiate and get what you want.

Find it here »

‘The Power of Habit’ by Charles Duhigg

While a book about the science of habit change might sound like it’ll put you to sleep, “The Power of Habit” is anything but.

Instead, it’s a useful and entertaining book for young professionals looking to set themselves up for a lifetime of health and happiness.

Duhigg, an investigative reporter for The New York Times, explains how the road to success — whether that means quitting smoking or procrastinating — is paved with tiny behavior tweaks you can implement today.

Find it here »

‘Getting Things Done’ by David Allen

Thirteen years after its first publication, productivity guru Allen released the second edition of “Getting Things Done.”

The book is a must-read for anyone relatively new in his or her career because it teaches you the basics of time management at work and at home. The idea is to come up with an organizing system for daily to-dos so that you free up mental space for focusing on big-picture goals.

Case in point: the “two-minute rule” to keep an overflowing inbox in control.

Find it here »

‘Linchpin’ by Seth Godin

Godin is a serial entrepreneur, marketing expert, and the successful author of 22 books.

His 2010 book “Linchpin” was his fastest-selling book yet. It’s a guide to becoming a linchpin at your company — that is, how to differentiate yourself from other “cogs in the machine” to become truly indispensable.

Find it here »

‘Unfinished Business’ by Anne-Marie Slaughter

When it comes to juggling work and family, there are no easy answers — and the sooner you realize that, the less stressed and frustrated you’ll be later in life.

“Unfinished Business,” a follow-up to Slaughter’s 2012 article in The Atlantic, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” says that no one can really have it all today. Slaughter, the former director of policy planning for the US State Department under Hillary Clinton, makes the case for policy and cultural changes that will lay the ground for gender equality and help all workers lead more meaningful lives.

Proposals for change are juxtaposed with anecdotes from Slaughter’s own life, in particular the conflict she faced between pursuing a high-octane career in foreign policy and taking care of her family. It’s an incredibly thought-provoking read and a helpful guide to setting yourself up for success at work and at home.

Find it here »

‘Never Eat Alone’ by Keith Ferrazzi

Ferrazzi attributes much of his professional success to the personal relationships he’s forged and diligently maintained.

Years before he attended Yale or Harvard Business School, and before he was selected as one of Crain’s 40 under 40, Ferrazzi grew up in a small town, the son of a steelworker and a housekeeper.

In the book, Ferrazzi lays out the easy-to-follow strategies he used as a young professional to reach out to people he admired, and you can use them to start becoming an effective networker.

Find it here »

‘Power’ by Jeffrey Pfeffer

Most leadership books are warmly inspirational, but Pfeffer is a Stanford Business School professor who has made it part of his mission to push back against feel-good philosophies he considers more idealistic than practical.

His 2010 book is a study of power, and how some of the world’s most influential people use tactics like acting and bravado to enhance others’ perceptions of them.

Find it here »

‘The 4-Hour Workweek’ by Tim Ferriss

Ferriss’ first book has sold well over a million copies worldwide since it was published in 2007, establishing Ferriss as a premier “life hacker.”

The title, not meant to be taken literally, reflects Ferriss’ goal of finding the workflows andtricks like “fear setting” that can maximize your efficiency and make the approach to your professional and personal lives as effective as possible.

Find it here »

‘Mindset’ by Carol Dweck

According to Dweck, a Stanford University psychologist, the key driver of success in our personal and professional lives is the belief that we cansucceed.

In the book, Dweck describes research that illuminates the difference between a “fixed” mindset (believing your talents and abilities are innate) and a “growth” mindset (believing you can learn and improve).

By adopting the latter mentality in your 20s, you can set yourself up for decades of achievement, no matter what field you find yourself in.

Find it here »

‘Quiet’ by Susan Cain

If you’re naturally introverted, don’t feel like you need to fundamentally change who you are if you want to rise up the corporate ladder.

Cain wrote “Quiet,” the bestselling defense of introverts, because she was tired of seeing introverts treated as “second-class citizens.”

Whether you’re an extrovert or introvert, Cain’s research will help dispel the socially ingrained idea that to be successful you need to be loud, outgoing, and aggressively competitive.

Find it here »

‘Predictably Irrational’ by Dan Ariely

Whether you’re hoping to launch a company or corporate career, you’ll need to understand the complexities of human behavior.

And there’s no better place to start than this book by one of the world’s leading behavioral economists.

In “Predictably Irrational,” Ariely presents scientific research that helps explain everything from why we procrastinate to how we determine what a product is worth.

Find it here »

‘The Power Broker’ by Robert Caro

Not understanding how powerful people work makes you vulnerable to their will.

This is why “The Power Broker,” Caro’s immense biography of New York urban planner Robert Moses, is so essential.

If you want to see Machiavellian principles in action, read this.

Find it here »

‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen R. Covey

Since its publication in 1989, this book has remained a business and self-help classic.

Whether you’re an aspiring politician or CEO, it will inspire and empower you to achieve your professional goals.

Every chapter explores a crucial habit, including finding synergy and being proactive. Each one is geared toward helping you become a more effective and compassionate leader and team member.

Find it here »

‘The Hard Thing About Hard Things’ by Ben Horowitz

For those of you who can become exhausted by the dramatic optimism in some entrepreneur’s biographies, “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” is a welcome change.

Horowitz is the cofounder of renowned venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz — whose investments include Business Insider — and his book drives home that there is no magical recipe to success as some would have you believe. The only way to make it as an entrepreneur is through sheer determination and paying attention to what worked and what didn’t work.

Find it here »

‘How Will You Measure Your Life?’ by Clayton Christensen

“How Will You Measure Your Life?” is a philosophical meditation disguised as a business book.

There’s a mystery at the center: When Christensen graduated from Harvard Business School in 1979, he and his classmates were on top of the world. But by their 25-year reunion, many of his peers were in crisis — whether it be private, in the case of estranged children, or public, in the case of Jeffrey Skilling, the head of Enron.

The book investigates why some of those incredibly privileged people leave their lives in ruins while others flourish.

Find it here »

‘Creativity, Inc.’ by Ed Catmull

As you develop your career, you may find that your job has killed the creativity that you’d previously held precious.

Pixar cofounder Catmull tells the story of building the computer animation giant, arguing along the way that everyone is inherently creative, but most people stymie their creativity because of a variety of social forces and personal inhibitions.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerbergrecently selected it for his book club because he wants Catmull’s story to inspire people to let their creativity free, whether you’re a programmer or a banker.

Find it here »

‘The Intelligent Investor’ by Benjamin Graham

Billionaire investor Bill Ackman is one of countless Wall Street power players who cite “The Intelligent Investor” as a book that changed their lives.

Written by Warren Buffett’s mentor and published in 1949, it’s an in-depth introduction to value investing.

Even if the industry you work in is far removed from finance, Graham’s advice will help you make the most of your money in the long term.

Find it here »

‘Crossing the Unknown Sea’ by David Whyte

There’s relatively little quality writing about the place of work in our lives.

That’s why Whyte’s “Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity” is like an oasis.

In it, Whyte, a British poet now living in the US, frames a career not as a quarry to be captured but as an ongoing conversation one has with the world and one’s self.

Find it here »

‘Steve Jobs’ by Walter Isaacson

The late Apple cofounder and CEO Steve Jobs has become a mythical figure who still looms over Silicon Valley.

Isaacson’s biography is the best way to understand what made Jobs tick, and offers a look at the two most notable sides of the man: the powerfully inspirational visionary and the ruthless and difficult businessman.

Jobs’ story of being cast away from the company he created, only to return to transform it into one of the world’s most successful businesses, shows the value of rebounding from one’s mistakes and tapping into unyielding determination.

Find it here »

‘Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader’ by Herminia Ibarra

The early stages of your career are the ideal time to develop your personal definition of leadership.

And “Act Like a Leader” will help you do that. Ibarra, a business professor and leadership expert, offers advice on everything from expanding your professional network to being open to new ideas. Her basic philosophy is that there is no one way to lead — it all comes down to what’s working well for you.

The opposite of a traditional guidebook, the book will inspire you to achieve success and satisfaction in a fast-evolving workplace.

Find it here »

‘Choose Yourself’ by James Altucher

Altucher is a hedge fund manager, entrepreneur, and outspoken writer — as well as a contributor to Business Insider. In his signature fearless and deeply personal voice, he writes “Choose Yourself” as a guide to professional liberation.

You may have no inclination to quit your day job and start a business, but Altucher’s message is that even those who work for someone else need to be more self-reliant than at any other point in history.

Through his own story and the stories of other entrepreneurs, Altucher illustrates why the only way to achieve success on a large scale is by choosing yourself.

Find it here »

‘The Tipping Point’ by Malcolm Gladwell

Today’s 20-somethings have grown up with social media, but they’re tapping into a timeless form of communication.

Gladwell is a master of using data and reporting to illustrate society’s mechanics.

His debut book, “The Tipping Point,” came out 15 years ago, but its insights into how and why people distribute ideas and information until they become an “epidemic” is just as relevant and interesting today, especially since the idea of “going viral” continues to fascinate us.

Find it here »

‘Flow’ by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

After growing up hearing so much about the pursuit of happiness, one of the weirdnesses of adulthood is the discovery that so little empirical research has gone into uncovering its mechanics.

Thus the necessity of Csikszentmihalyi, whose “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience” is the distillation of decades of research into how happiness works.

For Csikszentmihalyi, happiness is a product of a life lived at its frontiers, where one is constantly expanding and exploring the sense of self.

Find it here »

Originally published on Business Insider.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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