Saturday, January 31, 2015

Old Cunning Canine

When most people think of start ups they think of a couple of young kids working in a garage or basement (or now Starbucks), eking out a living until they are purchased for billions of dollars, but this is more fiction than reality. As published in Time's March 14th, 2013 issue, according to research by Vivek Wadhwa, an academic and tech entrepreneur, and the Kauffman Foundation, the average age of successful start-up founders of start-ups and other high-growth industries was 40. And high-growth start-ups are almost twice as likely to be launched by people over 55 as by people 20 to 30. How can that be? 

Well firstly, most startups take founders with multiple skill sets and know-how. Yes, dreaming is important, but execution is paramount to success. As an example of this, I thought I would share a story about an old dog and if you can draw the conclusion about age.
A wealthy old lady decides to go on a safari in Africa, taking her faithful aged poodle named Cuddles along for company. One day the poodle starts chasing butterflies and before long, Cuddles discovers that he's lost. Wandering about, he notices a leopard heading rapidly in his direction with the intention of having lunch. The old poodle thinks, "Oh, oh! I'm in deep trouble now!" Noticing some bones on the ground close by, he immediately settles down to chew on the bones with his back to the approaching cat.

Just as the leopard is about to leap, the old poodle exclaims loudly, "Boy, that was one delicious leopard! I wonder if there are any more around here?" Hearing this, the young leopard halts his attack in mid-strike, a look of terror comes over him and he slinks away into the trees. "Whew!", says the leopard, "That was close! That old poodle nearly had me!"

Meanwhile, a monkey who had been watching the whole scene from a nearby tree, figures he can put this knowledge to good use and trade it for protection from the leopard. So off he goes, but the old poodle sees him heading after the leopard with great speed, and figures that something must be up. The monkey soon catches up with the leopard, spills the beans and strikes a deal for himself with the leopard.

The young leopard is furious at being made a fool of and says, "Here, monkey, hop on my back and see what's going to happen to that conniving canine!"

Now, the old poodle sees the leopard coming with the monkey on his back and thinks, "What am I going to do now?", but instead of running, the dog sits down with his back to his attackers, pretending he hasn't seen them yet, and just when they get close enough to hear, the old poodle says: "Where's that damn monkey? I sent him off an hour ago to bring me another leopard!"
Moral of this story...

Don't mess with old farts...age and treachery will always overcome youth and skill! Bullshit and brilliance only come with age and experience!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Most Overused Marketing Terms

A few years ago, Jason Cohen posted in his blog (A Smart Bear)  "Authentic" is dead, in which he goes on to say that some words have been used so often, that they have actually lost all meaning.  Well, that got me thinking, since I help a lot of start ups, and do a lot of marketing, branding, and word-smithing along the way, I thought I would build upon Jason's observations and do my own little survey.  So, I compiled a list of 43 words (see THE LIST below) that I see used over, and over, and over again, and asked my little network of people (colleagues, friends, business partners, etc.), what they though were the most overused.  Well, 1351 people responded, and out of the list of 43, there are five that stand out as the most overused. With 1351 respondents the percentage indication is in parenthesis.  The most overused terms  include: Innovative (54.5%); Cost Effective (43.0%); Low Hanging Fruit (42.8%); Out of the Box (42.6%); and Best of Breed (41.8%).

Most of the other terms highlighted as being overused between 33% to 10% of the time. The least overused terms include WOW, Single Source, Prestigious, Maven, Craftsmanship and Fanatical Support.  Needless to say, these results are not at all what I expected, but are interesting nonetheless.

Click here if you want to see the spreadsheet.

Best of Breed
Convergence of ____
Core Competency
Cost Effective
Fanatical Support
Generation X
Insight / Insightful
Low Hanging Fruit
One Stop Shop
Out of the Box
Paradigm Shift
Rock Star
Single Source

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Life in the 1500s

The great thing about history, is that we do NOT necessarily need to repeat it and many of the customs, traditions and idioms come directly from a history long ago forgotten. Like, did you ever wonder where the phrase "Piss Poor" come from? 
A long time ago, they used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot. And then once it was full it was taken and sold to the tannery. If you had to do this to survive you were "Piss Poor". But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn't even afford to buy a pot. They "didn't have a pot to piss in" and were the lowest of the low.

So....The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how things used to be. Here are some facts about the1500s:

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom is still used today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. And last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, Don't throw the baby out with the Bath water.

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying. “It's raining cats and dogs” was used during a downpour. There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house.

This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor of the hut or house was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, “Dirt poor.” The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, the thresh would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance way. Hence the term threshold was used.

(Getting quite an education, aren't you?)

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. So came the rhyme, “Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old.”

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could “bring home the bacon.”

They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and “chew the fat.”

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the “upper crust.”

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a wake was established.

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be “saved by the bell” or was considered a ”dead ringer.”
And that's the truth...Now, whoever said History was boring!!

Friday, January 16, 2015

What Makes a Great Boss?

As a young boy, I was sent away to Military School and there began my journey on discovery of what makes a good leader, and what does not.  Of course we had to study many of the great leaders of history, but more importantly, when put into positions of power, I discovered that just having rank, did not necessarily give your power over individuals. From that time until now, I have realized that in order to get anything done, and done well, involves leadership, and being a boss is no exception.  Of course, good bosses have strong organizational skills, are smart, creative, have solid decision-making skills and they get things done; exceptional bosses have that and something more. 

It is not the what, but the how, that make good bosses great bosses.  It is how they take care of the people around them, the esprit d corps they create, the joy they bring to any endeavor and the passion they instill to all they meet.  Great leadership makes ordinary people into extraordinary people, and being a great boss is no different. Yes, a good boss can hit the numbers consistently, but a great boss will make you feel like you can conquer the world no matter what obstacles are in your way.

I am a big believer in what separates people’s success is leadership.  And being a great boss is all about mastering leadership skills, and leadership is all about what you can do for the people who work for you.  Every endeavor, large or small, rises and falls on leadership. “The ultimate leader is one who is willing to develop people to the point that they eventually surpass him or her in knowledge and ability,” as Fred A. Manske Jr. said some time ago.

Still, an exceptional boss does not see it as a popularity contest, but does recognize that their success is directly tied to the people that work with him/her.  In this article, I will list what are the “10 things” an extraordinary boss gives or does to develop and promote others and sets them apart for all those other bosses you wish you never had, and we ALL have had a few of them.

1.  Gives freedom and power
I like to say a great boss gives love, yes, love, and what is love but giving freedom and power, not extract control and possession.  This might seem like an odd concept in the button down world of corporate America, since most organizations are built on optimizing profits, processes, efficiencies and procedures. They are about the tangible, and I am talking about an intangible.  While a skilled boss can maximize the tangibles better than most people, they trust the fact that micromanagement is the worst thing you can do to promote those around them.  Employees are best engaged and empowered when there is a large sense of trust, autonomy and independence.  Elements that are essential in, well love.

Bosses that expect conformity and toeing the corporate line may initially get short term goal results, but as John F. Kennedy said, “Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth,” and over the long haul, those gains will be lost to employee dissatisfaction.  True autonomy and freedom breeds innovation, even in heavily process-oriented industries like manufacturing and piece part assembly. No matter what the task, people can always find a more eloquent way to do a thing if they are given some incentive or an environment to do so.

So, a great boss first and foremost trusts himself and has the confidence to trust those around him. This trust is then imparted to her employees by giving them the autonomy and independence to work the way they work best, not the necessarily the way she (the boss) does, and those empowered employees will find ways to do their jobs better than possibly could have been imagined.

2. Does not give or except excuses
If you want to be a great boss, you should head the words for the founder of the American Red Cross, Florence Nightingale, said, “I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took any excuse.”

A great boss really does walk the talk.  Vince Lombardi, the fabled football coach once said, “If you'll not settle for anything less than your best, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish in your lives.”  A great boss gives her best all the time, and leads by example.  She will not expect an employee or colleague to do anything she would not do.  At the same time, she accepts responsibility for failures, and understands all people makes mistakes, but will not tolerate excuses, but will appreciate appropriate corrective action and effort. 

In addition, as Arnold Glasow stated, “A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.”  An exceptional boss is willing to give undo credit to others when there is success, and take the responsibility when failure does happen.

3.  Gives clear goals and expectations
As Henry Ford said when asked about the difficulties in starting Ford Motor Company, “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” And while a good boss realizes that real autonomy and independence is important in every job, but without clear stated goals and expectations most employees would be like a ship adrift on the sea. A great boss sets specific achievable goals and a gives a clear vision of how those goals can be achieved, and encourages those individuals to do so. 

 And of course, change happens! When an exceptional boss changes, a goal, or a standard, or a deadline, or a guideline, she communicates the change beforehand.  And when that is not possible, she takes the time to explain why she made the decision she made and what she expects in the future.

4. Stretches Your Potential
One of the most important aspects of being a great boss is setting goals that stretch a person, but at the same time are achievable. As Harriet Braiker says, “Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing,” is probably the best way of saying that setting a goal that is out of reach, can have the opposite effect.  Almost everyone is competitive; and you will find often the best employees are extremely competitive, especially with themselves. Meaningful targets can create a sense of purpose and add a little meaning to even the most repetitive tasks.

Plus, stretch goals can be exhilarating. Without a meaningful goal to shoot for, work is just well, work; and no one likes just working.  Still, a great boss will remember the wisdom of Thomas Aquinas, “If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever.” You need to discover new lands if you want to get anywhere and be successful.  An exceptional boss is one who makes work more like a pirate adventure than an trip on the Bounty.

5. Gives a true sense of purpose
President Richard M. Nixon has a great quote about purpose, “Until he has been part of a cause larger than himself, no man is truly whole.” Everyone likes to feel a part of something bigger than themselves. Everyone loves to feel that sense of teamwork and esprit de corps that turns a group of individuals into a real team, and that team into a winning team.

Great bosses understand that the best missions of a team or organization involve making a real impact on the lives of the people you serve. They let employees know what they want to achieve for the business, for their customers, and even their community. And if they can, let them create a few missions of their own. Feeling a true purpose starts with knowing what you stand for and to care about and, more importantly, why to care, and that you want to build something unique and long lasting. This is echoed by John D. Rockefeller when he said, “I had no ambition to make a fortune. Mere money-making has never been my goal, I had an ambition to build.”

6. Makes everyone feel important
“Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important’,” so says Mary Kay Ash the founder of Mary Kay cosmetics and responsible of creating more women millionaires than anyone. This sentiment not only works for customers, but for your employees and teammates and great bosses know this empirically.

I believe a great boss needs to treasure the people who are willing and able to help you reach your goals. Engaged employees have ideas; take away those opportunities for them to make suggestions, or instantly disregard their ideas without consideration, and they immediately disengage. On the contrary, a great boss will listen to those ideas.  As Bryant McGill states, “One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.”

That's why exceptional bosses make it incredibly easy for employees to offer suggestions. They ask leading questions and they probe gently for clarification and insight. They help employees feel comfortable proposing new ways to get things done or in abandoning the old ways that no longer do. When an idea is not feasible, they always take the time to explain why it will not work at this time, and encourage them to keep making suggestions. Great bosses know that employees who make suggestions care about the company, so they ensure those employees know their input is valued and appreciated.

7. Focuses on the team more than the tasks
Andrew Carnegie knew a thing or two about teamwork and stated, “Teamwork is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”  While everyone works for a paycheck, it does not mean they do not want to work for something more. In actuality, they want to work with and for team of people they respect and admire, and with and for people who respect and admire them.  Great leadership fosters that teamwork in the form of leadership.

One of the greatest football coaches of all time, Vince Lombardi talks about this when he stated, “Leadership is based on a spiritual quality; the power to inspire, the power to inspire others to follow.” He knew want it took to make a championship team work. That is why a kind word, a quick discussion about family, an informal conversation to ask if a colleague needs any help may be much more important than group meetings or formal evaluations. Teams are personal, and a well running team creates a true sense of connection. Exceptional bosses have that leadership ability to appreciate the person, not just the worker, and the individual effort that makes the team work.  This is where the concept of a force multiplier comes to play.

8. Acts more like a servant than a tyrant
One of my favorite quotations on leadership is from Lao Tzu, “In wishing to be above men, put yourself by words below them, and, wishing to be before them, place yourself behind them.” What this means, is that in order to get employees to serve you, you must first be a servant to them.
Most people can understand a boss who is strict, demanding, and quick to offer (not always positive) feedback, as long as he or she treats everyone fairly. While great bosses understand everyone is different, and act accordingly, they also realize that showing consistency and fairness is the key to getting the respect and agreement from the rank and file.  Bosses who play favorites and politics, will never elicit the respect or effort out of their team, no matter what they try to do to encourage them since they see it as self-serving.   

 9. Praises in Public, Mentors in Private
Nobody is perfect, and few are exceptional. Every employee needs constructive feedback. Good bosses give that feedback but great bosses understand something more.  That in order to motivate they understand that praise is what raises the bar.  In the words of Dale Carnegie, “Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise, and people will cherish your words and treasure them and repeat them over a lifetime.”  They also know that if criticism is warranted, that you ALWAYS do it in private and does not just criticizes, but as a mentor who encourages whenever possible.  As the old saying goes, give a dog a good name.

Everybody, even a relatively poor performer, does something well. Every employee deserves praise and appreciation.  To quote Ovid, “The spirited horse, which will try to win the race of its own accord, will run even faster if encouraged.” It is easy to recognize the best employees because they are continuously and consistently doing awesome things. The trick that great bosses and leaders do is make ordinary people into extraordinary people with a bit a praise and constant encouragement.

It might be difficult to find reasons to recognize an employee who simply meets standards, but that is not the point. The object is to make them feel valued, and a few words of recognition, both in private and especially in public, may be the spark an average performer needs to start becoming a great performer.

10. Always has YOUR future in mind
I believe the greatest ability to possess is the ability to find, develop, and promote abilities in other people. A good boss realizes that every job should have the potential to lead to greater things, be it in the group or elsewhere. Exceptional bosses take the time to develop employees for the jobs they someday hope to land, even if the jobs are with another company.  They not only support their employees, but give them personal insight on how to further their OWN careers.

As the late great actor, Tony Curtis said, “Service to others is the rent we pay for time on this earth.”  So, how can that great boss serve the greater well being of their employees?  Well, a good start is to ask what he employees hope to do someday. Employees will only care about you and your business after you first show you care about them. One of the best ways to do so is to show that while you certainly have hopes for your company's future, you also have hopes for your employees' futures as well.  A good boss might pay lip service to this, but an exceptional boss will go out of her way to help in the development and expansion of every person’s potential.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Traits of an Entrepreneur

I will begin and end this article with two quotations. The first is from Edward Rogers:

"You don't deserve to be called an entrepreneur unless you've mortgaged your house to the business."
--Edward S. (Ted) Rogers 

This one sentence pretty much says it all. Entrepreneurs are not necessary gamblers, but they are willing to put everything they own, or go all in, in order to make it happen. In the classical sense an entrepreneur is define as anyone who has possession of a new enterprise, endeavor, venture or idea, and assumes significant accountability for the inherent risks associated with the development, growth, and outcome. He or she is an organizer who combines land, labor, material resources, and/or capital to create and market new goods, products, or services. The term "entrepreneur" is loaned from the French and was first defined by the Irish economist Richard Cantillon, where the term was applied to the type of persona who was willing to take upon themselves a new venture or enterprise and accepts full responsibility for the outcome.

I have read hundreds of articles about what constitutes an entrepreneur or what training you need to be an entrepreneur or what classes will make you an entrepreneur. Well, I have to tell you that being an entrepreneur is a little like combining an artist, athlete, general, and magician. In my humble opinion, entrepreneurship, just like creativity, cannot be taught. Entrepreneurship is not about a class you take in college or a course at some training center, it must be experienced. It must be learned through the trial and error of starting, growing, nurturing, and hopefully succeeding in a undertaking that has never been done before, and even then, not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. Some people mistake having characteristics of an entrepreneur as being an entrepreneur, but that does not make you an entrepreneur. That is like saying all tall people are good at basketball. It might give them an advantage, but does not necessarily make them a basketball player no more than owning a piano makes you a pianist.

In addition, if you are starting a business that involves just doing something that someone else has already done does NOT make you an entrepreneur. Case in point, franchisees Lawyers, Doctors, etc. Sorry, it does make you a businessman or woman, but not an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship, by its very nature, implies and demands that you are creating something that has not been done before.

A former Senator from South Carolina, Jesse Helms, once quipped about pornography, "I cannot tell you what pornography is, but I will recognize it when I see it." So too in a great way, is this true for entrepreneurship. Many people consider themselves entrepreneurs, when in fact, they are just business people, or worse yet, employees. I am not saying that these individuals cannot possess the characteristics of an entrepreneur. They can. They are just not entrepreneurs.

So what are these characteristics? A good friend of mine, Suzy Drapkin, who has worked in human resources for numerous years and runs a career placement firm in Austin, TX, made a presentation about the profile characteristics of an entrepreneur that was pretty inclusive. In her presentation she stated that the more of these characteristics an entrepreneur has, the better their chances for success, but that even having all of these characteristics does not guarantee your success. While all these characteristics do not mean you are necessarily an entrepreneur, they are essential to the success of an entrepreneur. They include being:

Results Oriented

Not having these characteristics does not mean you will not be successful (wow, three negatives in one sentence), it just means you might have to surround yourself with someone who does have them (this gets into another topic of team building, which I will not go into here).

While these characteristics help an entrepreneur when they have to wear the multiple hats of salesman, leader, confessor, cheerleader, foreman, scientist, accountant, and artist; two other characteristics of entrepreneurs that should be included are the ability to endure failure (resilient) and the ability to go the first mile alone (fearless). There is a big difference from being able to endure criticism and failure. No, failure is something entirely different. Incredibly, most successful entrepreneurs failed a lot, in a large part because they were trying something that was never attempted or done before. The successful entrepreneurs learn from their mistakes, take those lessons, adapt, and then try again with something new and difference. Failure is just a mile marker on their way to success.

While in some way, each of the characteristics can be honed through practice, training, and experience, there is one that cannot, but almost without fail, every successful entrepreneur says that needed in order to be make whatever they were doing a reality. It is a intangible characteristic of an entrepreneur but it is one that actually entrepreneurs believe they possess and that is the ability to be lucky. Yep, luck, just being at the right place at the right time, coincidentally running into someone you needed to meet, or just getting noticed by someone important, is probably the biggest factor in being an entrepreneur which cannot actually be controlled but is vitally important. Some studies have been conducted that actually say that some forms of luck can be "helped" to happen, and as a rule, successful entrepreneurs overwhelming believe they are lucky.

So, there it is. Entrepreneurship is an experience to be learned, and helped along if you have a certain set of characteristics, and is really dependent on luck. Still interested? Maybe this quotation can help sum it up:

"Entrepreneurship does not build character; it reveals character."
--Jeffrey Fry

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Non-New Year's Resolutions

I know it is that time of the year when EVERYBODY makes New Year’s resolutions about how to have a better year.  I have my own resolutions, but they are not about having a better year, but a better life in general.  Of course there are 10 of them… but I think if you can adapt them into your daily regime, you will see that the changes them make in your life will be more than extraordinary.

1. Get Rid of Toxic People
You know how Superman has his Kryptonite? Well, toxic people in your life are just like that.  Oh, and they may be people who are very close to you: your father, mother, girlfriend, boss, husband, etc.  If you really want to succeed and be happy in this life, you have to get rid of those who are poisoning you.  As I like to say, if you want to lift yourself up, see who is bringing you down, and get rid of them.  I know this may sound harsh and callous, but if you really want to get on with your life, you first need to go through a detox.

As a curative to this, Ben Glass has a solution, “You are the average of the five people you hang out with the most.” What this means is that you need to see who those people who are preventing you from being successful, or happy, or free, and move them out of your favorite five.

2. Keep Drama Out of Your Life
Very close to getting rid of toxic people in your life, you have to realize when you are being pulled into what is called double bind situations, or as I like to call it, drama.  A double bind is a situation where there is NO right answer, but whatever you answer is the wrong one, such as: Have you ever been caught stealing?  See? Yes means you are a thief that was caught, no means are a thief that has not been caught.

Drama usually comes from people who are not particularly interested in your well-being and are only focused on petty or trivial facts and events. They are usually emotionally stunted and insecure and tend to talk about “things that are happening to other people” or rehash events that cannot be resolved, and just want to suck the emotional good will out of you.  Think of drama feeders as emotional vampires.  They suck all the joy and happiness out of any meeting, and seem to keep you from getting where you want to be.

Drama in your life can ONLY exist if YOU decide to participate in it. So, if someone brings up some old hurt, or starts gossiping about someone, or starts spreading a rumor, just cut if off right then and there.  Do NOT participate, and you will be amazed how much more time you have and how less stressed you feel.

3. Realize you Cannot Control People, or Really Much of Anything
This might be the most important advice I can give: You cannot control what other people do, only how you react to it.  You really need to read that sentence again.  You cannot control anybody.  With that said, you really should not fret about anything you cannot control.

Worrying about things you cannot control is folly. Focus only on those few things you have any control over, and your life becomes much simpler.  It is amazing how much time, effort, and brain-power we expend trying to change things we have absolutely no control over.  What you need to do is figure out the few things you can control, and master them.

4. Go to the Gym Every Day
This is ALL about committing to actions, NOT goals.  Most people say I want to lose 10 or 15 or 20 pounds and then after the first week of going to the gym, they give up.  Instead, commit to go to the gym every day, and exercise every day, and cut out junk food every day.  And the weight will come off.

This also has to do with ANYTHING you do. Committing to a goal does not always bring action, yet committing to an action will invariably bring you to your goal.  So, whatever it is you want to do, be it becoming a singer, or entrepreneur, or chef, do the action every day, and your will eventually reach your goal.

5. Eat Well
Open your refrigerator and freezer.  How much packed or process food do you have in their?  How many boxes of food do you have in your cupboard? You should have none.  If you really want to live well, then eat well.  That means getting rid of processed foods (most anything that comes in a box), and eating more fruits, and vegetables and less sugars, dairy, and breads.  Eat more fish and chicken, and less red meats. This goes pretty much with committing to an action. 

Notice I said nothing about becoming a vegan or foregoing things you might like to eat every now and again. The trick to feeling better is eating better. If you can just get rid of processed food, your life will improve immeasurably.

6. Be giving, Especially to Other Givers
Adam Grant wrote an excellent book titled “Give and Take.”  What this book talks about is that there are three types of people: Givers, Takers and Matchers. In his book, he talks about the most and least successful type of people. The least successful are givers, the next, takers, the next matchers, and the most successful are givers. So, naturally, you ask: How can givers be the most and least successful?  Well, because there are two types of givers: Givers who give indiscriminately and those who give with a purpose.  The long and short, givers who give to other givers are successful.  So, be giving, but be judicious on your giving.

7. Be Happy to See Anyone and Everyone
Why do people love dogs?  Because they are ALWAYS glad to see you.  When you treat everybody you meet as an equal and give them your full attention and warmth, you will find that life becomes a very simple place. Do this not only with the people you know, but with new people you meet.

Sadly, most people believe that a person’s status in life equals their worth as a person, but it does not.  Most people are good, caring, kind and intelligent, and regardless of that status in life, have something to give and share.  To pigeonhole a person as a Democrat, or Janitor, or Conservative, or Muslim, or Hispanic is to do a disservice that you cannot imagine. 

Every person is unique, and valuable.  Why judge someone before you ever meet them?  Yes, most of the people you meet you will not bring into your circle, but if you eliminate any new or odd or different person, how will you never grow beyond your safe little circle.

8. Do Things You Never Thought You Would Do
So, closely aligned with being happy to meet people is having the ability to get out of your comfort zone. I firmly believe you need to go to where you do not know what you do not know. That is where you will find all your opportunities.  So, how do you do this?

First, go to a Meetup group that you think you would have absolutely no interest in going to; Meet that person who is asking for your help; help that non-profit you feel deserves some help; call that girl you thought you had no chance with.  Trust me, being rejected and feeling awkward is a small price to the upside of connecting with that unknown opportunity, or great connection, or perfect boyfriend you thought you would never find.

9. Be the Person You Want to Be With
Ok, yes we ALL want to be with someone, but it is amazing how often with sell ourselves short and settle with a less than desirable mate or partner. Oh love, what a foolish thing, but if you live by the creed that you will first be that person you want to be with, you will eventually attract the person whom you will be happy with.  Yes, this sounds like magic, but I truly believe that an open mind and heart usually lead you to those who have the same. And after all, what do we want more than to be with someone who loves and appreciates us?

10. Remember Everyone’s Birthday
This might be the simplest and easiest thing to do, but sending a Happy Birthday card or email will pay dividends way beyond anything you can imagine.  As Mark Twain once stated, The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why,” so at least recognize one of these days.

So, hopefully you will be able to apply a few of these to your life.  In doing so, I can guarantee that you will so a much more fulfilling and happy life. And, is that not what we are all striving for?