This is the Most Important Decision You Will Ever Make

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One of the most important decisions you can ever make is to become your own CEO. I’m talking about taking complete responsibility for your life and not blaming others or your circumstances for past results or where you are right now.

It’s mindboggling to me how someone can go year after year, month after month, day after day complaining about their laundry list of misfortunes but do absolutely nothing about it? I hear so many people say they want to be great, achieve more success and make more money. But they never do anything about it. The main thing that most of these individuals do is whine and complain about their sorry lot in life. They sit back and let others make their decisions.

Granted, I understand there are situations and issues in peoples’ lives that may prevent them from achieving their dreams. There can be circumstances that are beyond their control. Certain family issues, disabilities, and extreme illnesses to name a few. I’m not judging people when I see them living in undesirable situations. It’s possible life has dealt them a bad hand and they can’t navigate their way out. I get it, and I do not mean to sound preachy.

On the flip side, I see others who could do something about their lives if they just tried a little harder.

Throw away the excuses.

“I don’t have any talent.”

“I can’t ever seem to get a good job. Someone better always gets the job.”

“I can’t make enough money to pay my bills.”

“I don’t have any luck at all.”

“I feel like the world is out to get me.”

“I am worried about what others will think.”

Does this sound like anyone you know? They make you want to kick them in the butt and say, “Stop feeling sorry for yourself! You can change your destiny! You can change your life!”

The list of examples can go on and on, but you get the point. Making excuses has never crowned anyone a champion. The day that you decide to throw away all excuses once and for all will be the day that changes your life forever. A simple but extremely powerful transformation begins to take place.

Just do it!

Nike’s slogan “Just Do It!” is one of the best in advertising. Getting up off your butt and going out there to make things happen is the way you become the leader of your life.

Sure, I know. I agree with you. I’ve been through it, so I’m speaking from experience. One of the hardest things to do is take full charge of your life and be the leader of your destiny. But when you do, you force yourself to look at your life and say, “I am not where I want to be because of myself and the choices and decisions that I have made.” Your next comment may be, “I am going to do something about it and make a positive change.”

When you do this, you take ownership of where you are and where you are headed. That’s not an easy thing to do, trust me. One of the hardest things I ever do is force myself to look within when times are not the best. Heck, when I was 16-years old and a full blown drug addict throwing my life away I could barely look at myself in the mirror. I was so despicable. Things began to change when I finally had had enough. That is when I developed the courage to truly look within myself. Slowly but surely, I became the CEO of my life — the leader of my destiny.

Becoming my own leader redefined my philosophy of life. It will redefine yours, as well. There is absolutely nothing you can’t do or overcome when you choose to be the CEO of your life. Being the leader of your destiny is rejecting the easy road and opting for what’s worth it in the long run.

Think about it. It will be a shame if you get to the final stages of your life with nothing but your excuses for why you didn’t follow a passion or a dream. It breaks my heart to even think about this, but it happens all the time.

Maximize opportunities.

Becoming the leader of your destiny opens the floodgates of opportunity, and life seems to become a bit easier, because others will join in and help when they can.

For example, let’s say there are two young men named John and Chris. John is the leader of his destiny. When something goes wrong, he doesn’t make excuses or place the blame on someone else. John doesn’t focus on the negative. He constantly searches for ways to better himself and elevate his position in life.

Chris is a totally different story. He has a long track record of letting his failures define him. Every chance he gets, he makes excuses or blames someone else for his misfortunes and lack of success. It truly is a negative, energy-draining experience for anyone who comes in contact with him.

Out of the two men, who do you think is more likely to receive more opportunities to get back on the right track and have others want to help in any way they can? The answer to that question is obvious. People gravitate toward positive people. They’re attractive and make you feel good. On the other hand, it’s difficult to be around negative people because they’re a liability to your happiness.

Make the decision.

One of the most rewarding decisions you can ever make is to become the leader of your destiny, your own CEO, and take complete responsibility for everything that happens. Once you do, it won’t be long before your opportunities begin to expand. And others will go out of their way to help you, even if it’s something simple. Being the leader of your destiny is a trait that all champions possess.

This piece is adapted from Matt Mayberry’s book Winning Plays, published by Hachette/Center Street.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

How 1 Executive Became a Transformational Leader

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In every organization, regardless of size or industry, success rises and falls with leadership. Sure, an organization with average leadership can experience some success, but the longevity of that success and growth will be drastically shortened compared to that of an organization with a transformational leader.

So, what exactly is a transformational leader?

In my own view, a transformational leader not only builds an incredible organization that grows each and every year, but inspires his or her people to constantly innovate and reach their full potential.

Transformational leaders create an extraordinary vision for their organizations, one which employees are then eager to fully “buy into” and work incredibly hard for every day, to bring it to life. What’s more, transformational leaders are obsessed about developing their people, not just collecting a profit.

To put it simply, transformational leaders positively disrupt individual organizations and entire industries.

In an article in Psychology Today, Ronald Riggio wrote that, “Research evidence clearly shows that groups led by transformational leaders have higher levels of performance and satisfaction than groups led by other types of leaders. Why? Because transformational leaders hold positive expectations for followers, believing that they can do their best.

“As a result, they inspire, empower and stimulate followers to exceed normal levels of performance. And, transformational leaders focus on and care about followers and their personal needs and development.”

I recently had the pleasure of spending the day with Bill Darcy, CEO of the National Kitchen & Bath Association. Darcy has not only transformed an organization, but an entire industry. Darcy is a transformational leader through and through. When you speak to his employees or colleagues at different companies, the impact and influence he has had is clear.

In our conversation, Darcy and I discussed three factors that have helped him rise to the top and become the transformational leader he is today.

1. Make each day count.

Spending the entire day with Darcy, I could easily see that he truly lived each and every day to the fullest. It’s not a coincidence that he listed this as number one when I asked him the three most important things that helped him get to where he is today.

Darcy said he’d learned the importance of making each day count when his son was born with a rare congenital abnormality and it was unclear whether the boy was going to make it or not. “Going through the experience of nearly losing my son changed not only my life forever, but also how I work and lead on a daily basis,” Darcy said.

Transformational leaders, in short, don’t waste their days. They make every single day count, and it shows in everything they do. They possess an incredible sense of urgency, which inspires their team members to act in the same manner. As legendary basketball coach John Wooden once said, “Make each day your masterpiece.”

2. Perseverance is key.

If you dig deep into the backstory of any transformational leader to analyze this person’s path to where he or she is today, you will often notice an incredible level of perseverance. Leaders, like anyone, experience plenty of tough and challenging times. Transformational leaders, however, stay poised during these times and trust in their process to get the job done.

Darcy said, “I have been rejected in my career more times than I can count, but the one thing that I always stayed true to was to always keep fighting for what you believe in. When you keep fighting, breakthroughs eventually arise.”

3. Effort equals results.

At the young age of 25, Darcy was working for the billionaire and Penske Corporation chairman, Roger Penske. Penske instilled in his organization and all of his employees the slogan “Effort equals results,” and Darcy told me that he was able to see firsthand how vital those words were in the company’s growth and success.

“Every detail mattered and the slogan that Penske used created a huge cultural influence,” Darcy said. “No one ever had to guess what was expected of them when they showed up to work in the morning.

“As a leader, you set the tone within your organization,” Darcy added. “The one thing that we can all control when we show up to work is the effort that we put forth.”

I hope Darcy’s story of becoming a transformational leader inspires you to have the same kind of influence on not only the organization that you lead, but the entire industry that you are in.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

3 Simple But Proven Ways to Become More Productive

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There is absolutely no shortage of time-management practices and experts out there promising to increase your productivity levels. And, certainly, we all aspire to be more productive, feel more accomplished and ultimately achieve greater success than ever before.

Unfortunately, though, simply wanting these things or reading a time-management book by a favorite author is a small part of the equation and will get you only so far.

In order to truly become a more productive individual and accomplish more of what matters most, you must minimize distractions, instill new habits and have a great deal of self-discipline.

I believe that many of the problems we run into when it comes to maximizing our productivity stem from overcomplicating things — and those complications usually end up decreasing our productivity. I want to share with you three things that have worked exceptionally well for me when it comes to minimizing distractions and drastically elevating my productivity levels.

These three things are simple and straightforward but pack an incredible punch. As Stephen Covey once said, “What is common sense isn’t common practice.”

1. Cut out phone and email first thing in the morning.

At first, this daily practice, which has since blessed my life with an enormous amount of peace, happiness and focus, was hard for me to implement into my life. For the longest time, my morning ritual had consisted merely of turning over and grabbing my phone in order to open my email and check social media.

When you pick up your phone first thing in the morning, however, and dive deep into your inbox and check social media, you end up neglecting the most important thing: yourself. For the first two hours of each day, I make it a priority to leave my phone in a separate room. I go to work on myself first and foremost by getting in a great workout, reading for 20 minutes, meditating and then beginning to tackle my biggest task for the day. Only after all of those things are complete do I allow myself to check my phone.

2. Work in time blocks. 

This one may seem extraordinarily simple, but the profound difference it has made in my life is incredible. We live in a world that is full of constant distraction. Each and every one of us is getting pulled in a million different directions, all vying for our energy and attention. When you work in time blocks, though, you are forcing yourself for the next 20, 30, or 50 minutes to work on whatever project or task that is in front of you and not doing anything else.

No phone, no Facebook-checking: just you and your highly valuable project or task that must get finished. I personally work in 50-minute time blocks throughout the day, but you should feel free to implement whatever works best for you and your schedule. I personally haven’t found a more efficient way to eliminate distractions and get big things done than working in time blocks.

3. Utilize the power of breaks throughout your day.

The way I used to conduct myself was to work hard for long hours while never stopping to take a break. By the time I got home and went to bed, however, I would wake up the next morning not even knowing what had happened the previous day. As an entrepreneur and business owner, you’ll find that working hard and putting in long hours is mandatory at some point in your career, to get to where you want to go.

But this shouldn’t come at the expense of completely burning yourself out. When my 50-minute timer goes off, and I am working on an important project or task, I stand up and do one of three things.

I either take a walk outside for 10 minutes, practice deep breathing for 10 minutes or perform some type of stretching routine before I return back to work. Just a 10- or 15-minute break doing one of these three things helps me to release whatever tension has been built up and develop a new focus for when it’s time to work again.

Whether you take a walk, practice deep breathing or perform stretches is entirely up to you. The most important thing is that multiple times throughout the day, you should take a break from your work and find different ways to recharge and come back even stronger.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

3 Questions That You Should Regularly Ask Yourself That Can Transform Your Life

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Asking great questions regularly can drastically transform your life in many amazing ways. Doing this also encourages you to pause and think more deeply. What’s more, asking the right questions stimulates creative thinking that can inch you that much closer to experiencing a major breakthrough.

Such questioning has been monumental in my own personal and professional growth over the years.

I truly believe that the best of the best, those excelling at a very high level in all that they do, have formed the habit of asking better questions on a regular basis than everyone else. Tony Robbins once said, “Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.” I couldn’t agree more.

To get you started on the right track, here are three questions that I regularly ask myself that have provided a tremendous amount of value in my life.

1. “Where am I?”

Taking the time to ask yourself where you currently are in life is incredibly important. A huge majority of the population never even stops to analyze where they are right this moment and if that’s where they truly want to be. They just continue going through the motions and living life way beneath their full potential.

Then, all of a sudden, they get stopped dead in their tracks and realize how unfulfilling their lives are, and they start feeling sorry for themselves and playing the blame game. Please don’t fall into that trap. Start asking yourself on a continual basis where you currently are in life and answer that question honestly. One of the hardest things to do is to admit that you aren’t where you want to be or that you have been doing it all wrong leading up to this point.

However, do you know what’s even much harder to deal with? Regret. And a lot of the regret that people unfortunately experience comes directly from never taking the time to ask this simple but extremely important question.

2. “Where do I want to be?”

This question is all about digging deep within yourself and discovering what your true passions, goals and dreams really are. In this day and age, it is so easy to get sidetracked by the fast-paced and noisy world we live in, while totally forgetting about what we truly want for our lives, personally and professionally.

One of the best ways to constantly make sure that you are moving in the right direction is to get in the habit of asking yourself where exactly you want to be. Where do you want to be professionally? Where do you want to be financially? Where do you want to be in your personal relationships? Where do you want to be in your health journey?

3. “How am I going to get there?”

All three of these questions are vitally important to ask yourself, but this last question can exponentially change the game for you. This question also happens to be the one that most people end up never asking because it requires a whole lot of work and actually getting up and doing something after you take the time to answer it.

Everything that I have ever been able to accomplish in my life has been a direct result of constantly asking myself this particular question, writing down every possible thing I can think of, and then taking massive action to execute everything that I wrote down.

Asking the above three questions and taking the time to write out the answers on a regular basis has changed my life in so many ways; and I fully believe it can do the same for you. I don’t just challenge you to ask yourself these questions, but to actually think long and hard about your answers and then write them out.

When we set aside time to write everything out, we start to see things we never would have seen before. Asking great questions puts you on the right path to start receiving great answers.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

3 Ways to Have a Bigger Impact in Your Personal and Professional Life

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In my travels all over the world, speaking to different organizations of all sizes, there are two common questions that I always seem to receive at some point before or after I deliver my keynote presentation: “How can I decrease the daily stress in my life, and, “How can I have a bigger impact this year?”

Most people are stressed out at a very unhealthy level and truly believe that they must go through pain and all kinds of stress in order to take their lives and business to the next level. But this popular belief couldn’t be more wrong.

Yes, you absolutely need to sacrifice a tremendous amount and work in a way you have never worked before, but not at the expense of feeling miserable. The truth of the matter is that there is a way to not only decrease stress levels at a rapid rate, but also transform the impact that you have in the world. The more stressed out that you become, the more paralyzed your ability to unleash your incredible potential into the world.

Here are three things that have worked exceptionally well for me in the hopes of looking to minimize stress and increase impact.

1. Live in the now.

Regardless of where you may be in your life, whether it’s a time of failure and distress or a time of unbelievable success, don’t forget to live in the now.  Be as present as possible. All too often, we let our ambition and desire get in the way of enjoying life today, which will always provide anxiety and stress to some degree.

Living in the moment doesn’t mean completely forgetting about the past and the future; it means not allowing the past or the future to control the present. I can honestly say that one of the things I am most proud of during my short time in the NFL was being present every single moment and taking it all in. People who rush, rush, rush toward their future often forget about what they’re doing right now.

Time goes quickly, and if you don’t stop and enjoy what’s occurring, at the end of your life you’ll end up wondering what exactly happened.

2. Be a champion of preparation.

Working insanely hard doesn’t stress people out; weak preparation and working hard on insignificant tasks is what stresses people out. So, be a champion of preparation. Do the work others aren’t willing to do. Being around future Hall of Famers in the NFL and seeing “up close and personal” what it really took to excel at an extremely high level was eye-opening for me. I immediately noticed the ridiculous amount of preparation and hard work that was required to be the best.

I also noticed that these were the players who never worried and stressed themselves out, because they knew deep down that they worked to the best of their ability. They left it all out there, each and every day, regardless of whether the context was the film room, the practice field or the way in which they were taking care of their bodies.

Sure, many people would love to have the glory and accolades of becoming a Hall of Famer, but how many would actually do the work to obtain it? That is the question. So, start today. Dedicate yourself from this day forward to preparing to be the best you can be at whatever it is you want to do.

Study, research, practice, prepare. There is immense gratification that comes from adopting this mentality. It’s never enough to just do what’s required. When you become a champion of preparation, you will notice your impact rise and your stress levels drastically decline.

3. Celebrate every day.

There is power in celebrating everything — especially the small daily wins. Make it a personal habit right now to start celebrating everything in your life. Just because you haven’t reached one of your main goals yet doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and capitalize on where you currently are. One good way to get into the habit is by recording your small daily wins in a journal.

I personally use a Moleskine notebook, and at the end of each day, I write down five wins for that specific day. It doesn’t matter how bad my overall day was or what happened, I force myself to jot down five positive things. It puts me in a positive state of mind before I go to bed and builds momentum for the following day. Whether those wins are big, medium or small doesn’t matter. Celebrate those wins!

These three daily habits have greatly benefited my life and I hope they do the same for you.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

The 24 Best Podcasts for Entrepreneurs In 2017

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Entrepreneurs and business leaders have turned to podcasts as a great source of inspiration and education. But with more business podcasts launching into the iTunes store to meet the growing demand, it’s getting harder and harder to find the best podcasts for entrepreneurs.

That’s why I’ve compiled a list of the best podcasts for entrepreneurs and executives. You might have heard of more publicized podcasts like The Tim Ferriss Show and Entrepreneur on Fire, but this list covers a wider range of podcasts and includes a lot of new and noteworthy examples, like Powderkeg: Igniting Startups and Breaking Into Startups, that you shouldn’t ignore.

Here are the 24 best podcasts for entrepreneurs in 2017.

Starting Up Podcasts for Entrepreneurs

1. StartUp

StartUp is one of 10 shows produced by podcasting company Gimlet Media. Co-hosted by Gimlet CEO Alex Blumberg and former FiveThirtyEight editor Lisa Chow, it tells the story of how Blumberg founded Gimlet and everything he learned along the way. It tackles all the issues of starting a company, like naming it, valuing it and bringing on partners through a personal, narrative lens.

2. Mixergy: Startup Stories

What makes Mixergy unique is that host Andrew Warner arranges some of his interviews with world-renowned entrepreneurs into online business courses. The “Starting a Business” course presents six interviews in an order that works as a “how-to” guide for building a company, with each successive interview delving deeper into the topics of product development, customer acquisition and sales.

3. How to Start a Startup

Back in the fall of 2014, Y Combinator president Sam Altman gave a one-semester crash course at Stanford University on how to start a startup. Bringing in 29 other Y Combinator alumni as guest speakers, he put together 20 lectures on running a startup from inception to later-stage concerns. The lectures were recorded and have since been archived under the appropriate title, “How to Start a Startup,” and can be downloaded as video or audio files.

4. Entrepreneur On Fire

EOFire is an award-winning podcast where host John Lee Dumas interviews the most inspiring entrepreneurs seven days a week. Every single day, you can expect to hear incredible stories from highly successful entrepreneurs, actionable ideas that can transform your business, and be inspired to build the life of your dreams.

5. Powderkeg: Igniting Startups

A newcomer to the business podcast lineup, Powderkeg is already turning heads in the industry with a solid lineup of guests, in-depth interviews, and informative content. Focusing on the tech industry, this show reveals how entrepreneurs outside of Silicon Valley found traction and ultimately, success. Energetic host Matt Hunckler taps into the minds of top-tier entrepreneurs, investors, and innovators to provide insights that will help aspiring founders no matter where they’re located.

Leadership and Productivity Podcasts for Entrepreneurs

6. Jocko Podcast

Jocko Willink is a retired Navy SEAL officer who doesn’t beat around the bush and tells it like it is. You are sure to learn key lessons on leadership, work ethic, and discipline that will help you to become the best version of yourself. Apple recently named Jocko Podcast one of the best podcasts of 2016 having this to say about it, “Leadership, fitness, military history — retired Navy SEAL Jocko and his guests turn any topic into a riveting life lesson.”

7. Self Made Man

In a nutshell, Self Made Man is a self-improvement podcast. Investor, entrepreneur and host Mike Dillard, along with each episode’s guest host, offers advice on how to improve yourself so that you can improve the world and achieve true greatness. The show places a special emphasis on business and finance but also covers topics like health and relationships.

8. The Action Catalyst with Rory Vaden

The Action Catalyst podcast will inspire you to start taking action on what matters most in your life and how to take your productivity to the next level. Self-discipline strategist and New York Times bestselling Author Rory Vaden Co-Founded Southwestern Consulting, a multi-million dollar global consulting practice that helps clients in more than 14 countries get extraordinary results.

9. The Tim Ferriss Show

The Tim Ferriss Show is the first business/interview podcast to surpass 100,000,000 downloads and when you listen in, you will be able to see exactly why. Angel investor and #1 New York Times bestlling Author Tim Ferriss interviews world-class performers from all different industries on what helped catapult them to the top and provides actionable advice you can implement into your own routine. Former guests include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Foxx, Tony Robbins, Peter Thiel, and many more.

10. Youpreneur FM

Lots of modern entrepreneurs are successful because they create a personal brand. Chris Ducker is one such person, and his Youpreneur podcast is aimed at instructing its listeners in all things personal brand entrepreneurship. He and his guests, which include top online business minds, cover everything from building your brand to creating products and marketing yourself in order to teach you how to succeed as a solopreneur.

Innovation Podcasts for Entrepreneurs

11. This Week in Startups

This Week in Startups has a finger on the pulse of the tech industry. As the name implies, host Jason Calacanis brings on a guest entrepreneur each week and talks about what’s happening right now in tech. The podcast is a combination of current events, company profiles and insider gossip, which means there’s so much juicy information packed into each episode that you can’t go wrong by tuning in.

12. The Twenty Minute VC

Have you ever wanted to get into the mind of a venture capitalist? (Here’s a hint: you should.) The Twenty Minute VC does just that. Host Harry Stebbings interviews two prominent VC investors each week, delving into why they do what they do and what they’re looking for in a startup. The show is also notable for being brief and to the point, with most episodes clocking in at around 20-30 minutes.

13. The Full Ratchet

Angel investor Nick Moran came up with the idea for The Full Ratchetas a result of his own difficulties obtaining clear and actionable information on how to be a good investor. He decided to start recording his chats with industry veterans to help investors and entrepreneurs understand how the whole funding process works. Like The Twenty Minute VC, this podcast teaches you how investors think and what will persuade them to buy into your company.

14. a16z Podcast

According to Silicon Valley-based VC firm Andreessen Horowitz (or a16z), “software is eating the world.” Their podcast brings on tech experts and business leaders to talk about the current state of devourment, discussing tech news, industry trends and what the future holds. If you want to hear what industry behemoths have to say about their work and the world, then this is the show for you.

15. Breaking Into Startups

Breaking Into Startups has only aired a few episodes, but it’s off to a very promising start. Created by Artur Meyster, Timur Meyster and Ruben Harris, the program shares the stories of people who broke into the tech industry from nontraditional backgrounds. The goal is to encourage and inspire people who want to get into tech by teaching them how to leverage their unique experiences in other industries.

Sales and Marketing Podcasts for Entrepreneurs

16. Marketing School

Neil Patel and Eric Siu are experts in digital marketing, and they share a bit of their knowledge every day in Marketing School. Each episode provides you with a unique online marketing tip in fewer than 10 minutes. It’s a great podcast for anyone looking to roll up their sleeves and get to work implementing actionable advice on a daily basis.

17. Social Pros

Jay Baer of Convince & Convert and Adam Brown of Salesforce co-host this podcast about how to market your business on social media. Each week, they interview a leading social media strategist from a prominent company (think Dell, IBM and ESPN) to pick their brain and discuss the latest trends in social media marketing.

18. SaaStr Podcast

From software-as-a-service community SaaStr comes the SaaStr podcast, presented by venture capitalist Jason Lemkin and hosted by Harry Stebbings of The Twenty Minute VC. The show focuses on the world of SaaS, bringing on business owners as well as investors to explore what it takes for companies to succeed in their highly competitive market. SaaStr’s trademark area of focus is on advising startups how to go from $0 to $100 million ARR faster.

19. The #AskGaryVee Show

CEO, entrepreneur, angel investor and internet personality Gary Vaynerchuk has built his personal brand with social media, and now he’s helping others do the same with his show, #AskGaryVee (available in video and audio). The show follows a simple Q&A format, with Gary answering viewer-submitted questions about marketing, social media and entrepreneurship.

20. The Growth Show

If you’re looking for advice on growing your business (and why shouldn’t you be?), then The Growth Show is just the ticket. It’s produced by HubSpot and features guests who have achieved remarkable growth with their businesses, delving into how they did it and what it was like to go through the transition. It’s sure to give you plenty of ideas and strategies for taking your business to the next level.

Inspirational Podcasts for Entrepreneurs

21. The School of Greatness

The School of Greatnes which is hosted by successful entrepreneur and New York Times bestselling author Lewis Howes will without a doubt inspire you to achieve your biggest goals and dreams. Lewis is a phenomenal interviewer who asks great questions. This is one of the most popular podcasts each and every year for a reason. It never disappoints.

22. Smart Passive Income Podcast

Pat Flynn is known in the blogging and podcasting spheres for building an online business almost entirely through passive income channels. On his Smart Passive Income podcast, he shares tons of passive income strategies that work as well as all the ones that don’t. Building passive income streams is all about working hard now so you can sit back and watch the cash flow in later!

23. Eventual Millionaire Podcast

Jaime Masters thought at a young age that she would one day be a millionaire. She still believes this is true, but she hasn’t gotten there yet! In her Eventual Millionaire blog and podcast, Masters interviews businesspeople who have reached that milestone to learn their tactics and advice for growing personal wealth.

24. Unemployable Podcast

If you’ve found yourself drawn to the entrepreneurial life, if might be because you’re “unemployable,” like lawyer-turned-writer-turned-entrepreneur and founder of Copyblogger, Brian Clark. In his weekly podcast, Clark draws from his 18 years of experience to provide advice and encouragement for freelancers and entrepreneurs looking to develop their personal businesses.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

The Power of Writing Down Your Goals

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Everyone wants to be great and reach achievement milestones, but not everyone is willing to commit to the grueling process that being great requires. Many people give up after one try, one failure. They settle for being average instead of striving and working to be great.

With the New Year right around the corner, and most people starting to think about their resolutions and the goals they want to accomplish in 2017 — and that includes me — I want to share a process I go through at the end of each year, in late December. Some people don’t know how to set goals, and they certainly don’t know how to go about achieving them.

But, for me, nothing has changed my life more than learning how to set goals and then working hard to attain them.

What’s important here is the difference between goal-setting and goal achievement. Both are important, but setting goals alone isn’t enough. If you write them down on a piece of paper, then put that paper away and never do anything more, you’ve wasted your time. Instead, you have to take massive action to achieve your goals.

Everywhere I go to speak in the world, I share the following exact same goal-setting process that has shaped my life year after year. This process has helped me achieve almost every major goal that I ever set.

The process

Start by setting a stopwatch or the timer on your phone, for three minutes. This will force you to write your goals down quickly and not dawdle. The point is to eliminate the tendency to start worrying. When we consider the goals we want to achieve, we immediately start thinking about reasons we can’t reach those goals.

There will be roadblocks to consider, a lack of money and a million-and-one other obstacles. But don’t worry about those things; if you set a stopwatch for three minutes, that short time span will force you to focus and write down what’s really in your heart instead of to waste time on the challenges down the road.

The next part of the process is to write down eight to ten goals you want to achieve this time next year. It’s good to include some balance on that list with health, fitness, family, leisure and financial and business goals, to name some important considerations. Then circle the one goal that has the potential to completely change the course of your life and serve as a domino effect for every other goal on the list.

The “game-changer” goal

Next, identify what I call the game-changer goal. When I first adopted this same process into my life, I was 16 years old and a recovering drug addict. My major goal at the time was to get a Division I college scholarship for football. I knew that achieving that major goal would help me reach every other goal on my list and drastically change my entire life.

After you circle your own game-changer goal, you’ll find that the next part of the process is what separates the best of the best from everyone else. Write down 20 to 50 things you need to do to achieve that major goal of yours.

Most people never even think about what they need to do in order to achieve their goals. So, if you are thinking about this, you’ll be putting yourself in the small percentage of high achievers and be significantly increasing your odds of success.

After you have completed your action plan of all the things that must happen in order to achieve your game-changer, you should start transferring one to two tasks a day onto your daily task list. Once you have your game plan ready to go, your overall task is all about taking massive action and being relentless each and every day until you get to where you want to go.

Goal-setting has completely changed my life, and it can do the same for you. Want more detail on this process? See my book, Winning Plays.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

5 Ways to Succeed in the Changing World of Sales

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I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Ryan Estis, who is the former chief strategy officer for the McCann Worldgroup advertising agency. Estis is now a wildly successful keynote speaker known for his unique ideas on improving sales effectiveness and preparing for the future of work.

We talked about a lot of different topics, but the one thing I was extremely fired up to share with all of you was our discussion about how professional sales is changing. Forrester predicts that one million B2B sales jobs will disappear by 2020.

Being a former professional athlete, I’ve found that one of the main reasons why the category of sales was always so intriguing to me was its competitive nature.

The professional world of selling is more competitive than ever and it’s only going to become more so. Estis had this to say about the evolving world of sales: “The first ones to go will be the salespeople who can’t differentiate themselves — who can’t make themselves part of the value proposition.”

He continued, “In 2020, the most successful salespeople will be the teachers. The ones who can help clients think differently about the future of their business.”

Succeeding in sales in 2020 is going to require a whole new level of skill set, discipline and preparation.

Here are Ryan Estis’ five ways to succeed in sales in 2020.

1. Prepare like a champion.

In order to be great in anything you absolutely must do your homework. It’s amazing that so many salespeople still to this day don’t prepare and do their homework. Estis said, “I get four or five cold sales emails a day. Rarely does the seller take the time to properly research my company.

“If a seller researched me, determined I was a good fit for their solution or service and reached out in a way that focused on me and my business challenges, you’d better believe I’d pause before hitting ‘Delete.'”

2. Look for customization and personalization.

You are missing out on an incredible opportunity if you choose not to personalize and customize for every client of yours. On the topic of the importance of customization and personalization, Estis said: “Do you believe deeply that you can help the customer? Prove it. Get specific.

“Tell prospects why they should care, and show up prepared for impact. Your ability to customize for every client is imperative. It’s what the customer expects today.”

3. Focus on being a teacher.

The best salespeople fully understand that teaching sells. “Teaching is a gateway into a credible relationship built on trust. Look for every opportunity to contribute value and provide expert guidance up front.” Estis said.

4. Better is what actually is better.

Automation makes it easy to blast out an email to 20,000 people on a list. Somebody’s got to respond, right? Wrong. As Estis said, “I cannot think of a faster way to take a relationship from neutral to negative than to consistently assault someone’s inbox with irrelevant information.

“Instead, slow down and make every interaction count. Every touchpoint with a potential customer is a chance to add value and advance the relationship.”

5. Always look to build a meaningful connection.

When you think of sales as a human connection rather than just another transaction, you are well on your way to differentiating yourself from the competition. Said Estis: “Sales isn’t just about the science. There’s a craft to professional selling. Look for ways to build a meaningful connection. That might mean closing the laptop and finding a way to talk to your clients and prospects, on the phone or in person.

“Can you differentiate and win on human connection? The best way I know how is to deliver a little bit more than the customer expects every single time. Be remarkable, consistently.”

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

3 Questions That Helped Me Discover My True Purpose

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Discovering your why, the real reason as to why you do what you do, that special thing that tugs at your heart and gives you complete satisfaction, very well could be one of the most important tasks that you will ever be faced with.

Finding out your why means that if you identify a dream or a major goal you want to pursue, ask yourself why. Is it because it will put the music in your heart? Will it fulfill the creative stirring that’s welling up inside you? Or do you want this goal because it will make you rich? I remember in college some friends talking about wanting to become physicians.

When I asked why, a couple of them said, “Because I’ll get rich.” I couldn’t help but think that was the wrong answer. I would never want to go to a physician who was in it for the money. I believe that to be truly fulfilled and happy, you must follow and live your bliss.

You must embrace a purpose-driven life and serve mankind in some way. For me, it was simple. I wanted to change peoples’ lives through my speaking and writing. I wanted to share everything I had learned with everyone else. And, yes, friends and family were shocked when they learned that I didn’t want to play professional football anymore. But my mind was made up. I wanted to live my purpose. That’s what tugged at my heart. I strongly believe that each and every one of us was put here to fulfill a specific purpose.

When you find out what that purpose is, I can promise you that your life will never be the same again. Mark Twain said, “The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” If you haven’t yet found out what your why is or discovered your true purpose, answer the following questions. They may help steer you in the right direction.

1. What keeps you up with excitement at night?

I loved football tremendously, but it never tugged at my heart and kept me up with so much excitement at night that I couldn’t sleep. On the other hand, speaking and impacting the lives of others absolutely did and still does to this day.

2. What makes you cry?

Best-selling author John C. Maxwell says, “Finding our purpose requires us to seek to discover two things: our passion and our giftedness. What is the deep desire set in your heart, the thing that sets your soul on fire? What makes you cry? What do you get most excited about? And what are you good at? No one else in the world has exactly the same gifts, talents, background, or future that you do.” When you identify what makes you cry, and what sets your soul on fire, and you tap into those, you begin to understand your why.

3. What would you do if your days were numbered?

If you went to the doctor for a routine checkup and received unexpected news that you were terminally ill and had a very short time left to live, what would you do? I asked myself this before I told my agent that I would no longer be playing football. I thought of many things I wanted to do, but football wasn’t one of them. Speaking and making a difference in the lives of others was at the forefront of everything I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Answering these three questions helped me discover my true purpose and I strongly believe that they can point you in the right direction of doing just the same.

This column is an excerpt from Matt Mayberry’s book, “Winning Plays.”

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

How to Turn Negative Experiences Around and Thrive

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This column is an excerpt from Matt Mayberry’s book, Winning Plays, out now.

When we experience failure, tragedy, or hardship, I believe we all struggle with envisioning the absolute worst outcome. When I got injured in my very first game in the NFL, I was completely broken and defeated in that moment, but I made it even worse because I chose to feel sorry for myself and refused to take the initiative to improve anything.

In times of despair it’s imperative that we constantly remember to see ourselves beyond our current circumstances. Just like clouds in the sky can temporarily block the sun, the clouds in your life should only be passing through.

I struggled desperately to see my life beyond the football field. I wallowed in disappointment and self-pity over things I could not change at the time. It was my own doing. And it was eye-opening and life-changing when I finally realized this.

I’m sure you must feel this way at times. Do you feel that you struggle with the negative experiences in your life? Can you see yourself beyond them? Do you just want to give up and have part of you die like I did? Or wallow in self-pity? Do you feel ashamed? Angry?

The negative experience could be anything — small or big. Maybe you were fired from your job. Maybe you failed at achieving an important goal. Maybe you’re battling depression over losing a loved one. Maybe you were rejected by a company or a friend. Maybe something has happened in your personal life that’s been difficult for you to come to grips with. Whatever it is, take it from me: there is hope beyond your current state of mind. You just have to think beyond yourself.

If there is one thing that completely derails aspiring business owners, athletes or anyone for that matter, it is the inability to turn failure into a gift and thrive despite negative experiences. It takes a lot of work and practice, and I don’t think that it ever becomes an easy thing to do, but once you learn how to stop overanalyzing and beating yourself up over something that didn’t go as planned, the better off you will be. It’s important to put yourself in a position to grow from that negative experience instead of surrendering to it and remaining stagnant.

Here are two ways to help you come alive again after getting knocked down and turn negative experiences into positive ones.

1. Create your own opportunities.

Create your own opportunities instead of waiting for someone to hand them to you. If something happens where you feel broken, but you know there’s a dream out there waiting for you, then know this: you can create your own opportunities. It’s up to you. If you’re passionate about a goal or anything you want to do, create and design the opportunity in the best way you can.

For example, if you’re interested in a new career but aren’t sure what the culture looks like from a workplace environment, offer to work as a free intern so you can get some hands-on experience. The people who wait for the door of opportunity to swing wide open so they can waltz through will likely be waiting a lifetime. Sometimes you have to walk right up to that locked door and break it down.

2. Power through like a champion.

Champions experience rough times like everyone else. But you know what? They simply power through them. I hadn’t learned how to be a champion yet when I felt broken and desolate about losing my dream as a professional athlete. Since then I’ve learned that champions develop alternate winning plays that will put them on top. Absolutely nothing stops them.

They grow stronger through the challenges. If life is easy for you, then you’re not going to grow. It’s the difficulties that present the opportunities for growth. One of the biggest mistakes most people make when confronted with failure or a negative experience is they don’t look for the “positive” in the negative. There’s value in every experience no matter if it’s a positive or a negative one, and it’s up to you to analyze the situation and create an opportunity to turn that negativity into a gift.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

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