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    employees talking boss

    They say everything happens for a reason. Some people don’t buy it, but I do ... now.

    Everything that I experienced during the course of my career was preparing me for something bigger and better.

    I endured many layoffs, was overlooked for promotions and, most frustrating of all, toiled under bad managers. I often wondered, "Why do these things keep happening to me?"

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some wonderful managers over the past 20 years — knowledgeable, supportive, effective communicators, mentors, and leaders.

    But the bad managers stick out the most in my memory — the ones who have constant turnover in their departments, take credit for others’ ideas, micromanage to a "t," and provide little or no direction.

    Let me share how I turned these situations into a positive for me as a business owner today.


    There’s nothing worse than feeling like your manager doesn’t trust your capabilities. I had one manager who felt the need to attend my daily project status meetings when I could have easily provided an update at the end of each day. The same manager also went as far as reviewing my meeting agendas and minutes with a fine-toothed comb, pointing out that I should have used "and" instead of "but" in a sentence. Really?

    But what I learned was this: Perfection is unattainable and trying for it will hold you back in business. Allow your team members to do the job that you hired them to do. How else will you be able to grow your business or your team if you are so focused on all of the minute details?

    Reveling in mistakes

    I’ve certainly made many mistakes over the years, but I never expected my manager to relish them. It felt like he wanted me to fail so that he could share it with everyone. I became terrified of making more mistakes because I didn’t want or need the ridicule.

    Just as I discovered with micromanagers, no one is perfect, and making mistakes is a great way to learn. I continue to learn something new every single day, and I really enjoy it!


    While overly critical managers were the most daunting, they also made me more determined to succeed. I’ve had managers raise their voice and criticize me in front of others on a regular basis. I was also once told that I was "too nice" to move into an executive role. Criticizing, belittling or bullying — whatever you want to call it — it is unprofessional, inappropriate, and does not motivate a team.

    I learned that I’m never going to make everyone happy, not everyone is going to agree with my opinions, and I am not going to be the best fit for every job, environment or project. It doesn’t mean that I’m incapable of doing the job that I love.

    No direction or guidance

    Having an absent or disengaged manager — one who provides little or no direction or guidance — can be a recipe for disaster. Even though some employees do require more direction than others, everyone requires clear expectations up front — the team cannot read minds!

    Not having proper direction and guidance in the beginning of my career pushed me to find the answers on my own — to come up with creative ways of getting a job or project done. I was able to help teams become more efficient and productive with the use of process, forms, and templates — all without any training or knowledge of project management methodology.

    So, what did I take away from all of this? Never allow someone to affect you in a negative way and stop you from accomplishing your career goals. Keep going!

    I want to thank those managers that told me that I was "too nice" to move up the ranks, micromanaged me to the nth degree, reveled in my mistakes, deterred me from creativity, and criticized me in front of others. You have made me stronger and more determined than ever!

    SEE ALSO: 17 signs your boss is about to quit

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This mind-melting thought experiment of Einstein's reveals how to manipulate time

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    steve jobs

    In 1985 Apple, the company Steve Jobs had cofounded now 40 years ago, sent the executive packing.

    Getting kicked to the curb by your employer can certainly be demoralizing.

    But Jobs, as well as many more successful people, prove that what may initially feel like failure may just be the launching pad you need for success.

    Here are 21 people who turned their termination into an opportunity.

    Vivian Giang and Alana Horowitz contributed to earlier versions of this article.


    SEE ALSO: What Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and 13 other highly successful tech people were doing at age 25

    DON'T MISS: Apple was launched by a pair of procrastinators 40 years ago — here's how that helped make the tech giant become so successful

    Steve Jobs was fired from Apple, the company he cofounded. His second act turned out to be bigger and better than the first.

    When Jobs was in his 30s, the very company he created fired him.

    "I was out — and very publicly out," Jobs said in a 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University. "What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating."

    Jobs spent the summer of 1985 in a "midlife crisis" trying to decide what he wanted to do, from entering politics to becoming an astronaut, said Alan Deutschman, author of "The Second Coming of Steve Jobs."

    During his time away from Apple, Jobs cofounded computer company NeXT, which was later acquired by Apple, and launched Pixar Animation Studios. When he returned to Apple nearly a decade later, he brought the innovation of the iPod, iPhone, and iPad.

    Thomas Edison secretly conducted experiments in his office at Western Union that got him fired.

    Until one night in 1867, when he had a chemical accident at the Associated Press bureau news wire, according to "Famous Americans: A Directory of Museums, Historic Sites, and Memorials."

    Edison worked the night shift so he could have more time to spend on his inventions and reading. One night when he was experimenting with batteries, Edison spilled some sulfuric acid that ate through the floor and spilled onto his boss' desk below.

    He was fired the next morning, but decided to pursue inventing full-time and received his first patent two years later for the electric vote recorder, according to Bio.


    Before heading to Yale, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was fired from her brief stint at a salmon cannery in Valdez, Alaska.

    The former New York Senator recounted on the "Today" show on Monday that after graduating from Wellesley College, she and some friends worked their way across Alaska washing dishes, and she eventually wound up working in a fishery scooping out salmon guts.

    "I was given a spoon and some boots and I was told to take out the insides of the salmon,"she said.

    Clinton didn't last long in that role, however, noting that the Japanese workers who were taking out the caviar yelled at her for working too slowly. "So they literally kicked me out of that job," Clinton said.

    She says they then placed her on the line packing the salmon head to tail. But when she noticed the salmon were "green and black — they looked horrible" and a peculiar stench, she questioned the man running the operation about the salmon's quality.

    "When I left, I came back the next day and the whole operation was gone," Clinton said. "So I think that was the equivalent of getting fired."  

    During a previous inter viw on Letterman in 2007, Clinton called her stint at the cannery her "favorite summer job of all time," noting its role in her future success: "Best preparation for being in Washington that you can imagine," she said.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    phone call laptopThis post by Daniel L. Jacobs appeared originally on Quora as an answer to the question "How can I schedule a phone call with a billionaire?"

    As a 21-year-old social entrepreneur who'd just moved to San Francisco with no money or connections, I realized that if I ever wanted to achieve my dreams, I needed advice from people who have been there and done that.

    So I did the most naive thing anyone could think of. I wrote to captains of industry: presidents and C-level executives of Fortune 500 companies.

    I let them know that I admired specific work decisions they'd made and character traits they'd displayed publicly, and it would be amazing if I could learn from them.

    I should have known better, right? These were the busiest people on the planet, and who was I to think that they'd respond to a 21-year-old kid with absolutely zero recognizable talents (beyond, perhaps, the ability to write an email?) and offer their mentorship?

    Then the unthinkable happened. I received an email back ... and another one ... and another. Over the next few years, I found myself learning from and mentored by people like the president of Morgan Stanley, the president of NBC, the CMO of Coca-Cola, the CMO of Intuit, and more (I'll spare names to save the unsolicited emails).

    I never understood why.

    Then one day, we'd all gotten together for a board meeting for one of my companies and someone joked that he'd gotten to know me through a cold email I'd sent him. The room went silent. Then, one by one, everyone around the table acknowledged that he, too, met me through a simple, cold email.


    The president of NBC spoke up. "Do you know why I decided to meet with you Daniel?"

    I didn't know.

    "Because in 20 years in this business, every single person who reached out to me cold wanted something. They wanted money, a job, something. You were the first person who asked — only — for advice."

    I looked around the room. Everyone was nodding. I learned something important about life that day.

    Daniel Jacobs is the CEO and cofounder of Avanoo, which creates three-minute-a-day online employee training videos. Avanoo's content is created with support from over 200 of the world's most renowned experts, and their clients include Kaiser, KPMG, Cisco, NBC, and other industry leaders.

    SEE ALSO: 8 types of people who will never be able to start a business

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: 'Batman v Superman' is a complete trainwreck, and director Zack Snyder is to blame

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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships so we may get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    startupBuilding a business in 2016 presents a whole new set of challenges that weren’t present in previous generations. Not only do you need a solid business plan, product, and financial backing, you also need to be proficient in promoting your business online and wading through the murky waters of Google AdWords and SEO.

    But while these new aspects of getting your startup off the ground add a bit of extra work to your five-year plan, they have also made entrepreneurship much more accessible to the everyman. If you have been sitting on an idea for a startup, but unsure of how to actually start it up, StackSocial is offering a bundle of classes that could be of great service to you.

    The Startup School 2016 Bundle consists of 10 classes made to help you establish the online brand of your business and spread it across the Internet. They cover a wide range of topics you'll need to have knowledge of, from mastering SEO (that's short for search engine optimization) to choosing the right product and model to build your business around. You’ll also get step-by-step instruction on how to take your business from nonexistent entity to money-making machine.

    Purchased individually, these 10 courses would cost almost $2,000, but through this bundle deal you can enroll in all of them for just $49. For anyone who's ready to start a business of their very own, this could help you get it off the ground.

    Startup School 2016 Bundle, $49 (originally $1,931), available at StackSocial. [97% off]

    READ THIS: Here’s why this $20 writing app is better than Microsoft Word

    SEE ALSO: This is the most practical carry-on bag you'll ever use

    READ MORE: Guys, these are the most comfortable jeans you'll ever wear

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    businessman ceo view

    As Patrick J. McGinnis writes in "The 10% Entrepreneur: Living Your Startup Dream Without Quitting Your Day Job,""You don't become an entrepreneur because you want to be rich or famous. You become an entrepreneur because it chooses you. No matter when you make the decision, you know in your gut you just have to go for it."

    That call is hard to resist, especially as you imagine fleeing your cubicle to follow that gut feeling.

    But McGinnis, a venture capitalist and private equity investor, suggests starting small: becoming a "10% entrepreneur."

    According to McGinnis, a 10% entrepreneur invests just 10% of their time and resources into a new venture, while holding on to their full-time job. This way, he says, they have the best of both worlds, rather than throwing all their time and money into something uncertain. He's for entrepreneurship, but he doesn't recommend going all-in right off the bat.

    Part of the reason he recommends this approach is because it's impossible to predict whether your entrepreneurial dream will work out. If you aren't prepared for things to go south, you could be in for a rude awakening. "When you choose entrepreneurship, you accept that the success and the money are terrific if they come, but they cannot be the only drivers of your decision," he writes. 

    Here are McGinnis' five arguments against quitting your job to pursue full-time entrepreneurship: 

    SEE ALSO: 8 lifestyle changes to make if you want to earn more money

    The lifestyle is lousy. 

    When you leave a company to be your own boss, there might be some undesired trade-offs. "You have to rethink your financial goals, your lifestyle, and your definition of success, all while being plagued with self doubt," writes McGinnis. 

    You might also find yourself working far more hours than your nine to five, for a fraction of the pay. "Sure, you have 'freedom,' but you also have long hours, demanding clients, and the stress of making ends meet on less money," writes McGinnis.

    You can ruin your finances.

    McGinnis refers to a study by Compass, a website that provides automated management reports for small and medium-sized online businesses, which found that 73% of startup founders make $50,000 per year or less. 

    "Those figures are surprisingly low when you consider how much responsibility they carry on their shoulders," McGinnis writes.

    Along with not getting paid generously for your work, there are also high expectations from investors who expect startup founders to put all their eggs in one basket and make money as the value of their shares in a company increase, he writes.

    You're abandoning status and affirmation.

    "Changes in your career affect the way you are perceived by your peers, society, and even yourself," McGinnis writes. "Endangering this affirmation can mess with your head."

    Having a routine and structure usually comes with working for an established company, but you might have to leave those behind to start your own business, McGinnis says. You will also have to learn to swallow your pride to pitch your business, and shouldn't be surprised if you run into some rejections along the way.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Jason Haber

    American millennials now represent the largest segment of the US workforce with 53.5 million workers — more than one-third of the workforce.

    And ready or not, that number will increase to 75% of the workforce within a decade, according to Jason Haber, a self-described "serial and social entrepreneur" and author of the forthcoming book "The Business of Good: Social Entrepreneurship and the New Bottom Line."

    Today's business landscape, Haber says, is changing rapidly largely thanks to millennials, or as he refers to them, Generation Now — a group accustomed to "on-demand instant-gratification" whose lives have been "emboldened by technology and molded by world events."

    Haber asserts that there has been a surge in the development of social enterprises, companies that use business principles to achieve social change. And these "entrepreneurial magnets," or millennials, are leading the charge.

    "Social entrepreneurship is a model that is changing the world," Haber writes. "It aims to fix the most entrenched problems facing mankind while building successful and profitable business for its owners. ... It relies on technology and social media to thrive." Haber points to companies like TOMS, Warby Parker, Global Poverty Project, and d.light as examples.

    The millennials of Generation Now, he says, see incredible value in social enterprises, as people who staunchly believe "that profit and purpose go hand-in-hand."

    In his book, Haber determines that the last 30 years of world crises, coupled with newfound interconnectedness through technology and social media, "has imbued Generation Now with six distinguishing traits ... which have powered their central role in social entrepreneurship."

    Up to now, past generations have built the most successful businesses and industries in history, but the landscape is shifting. According to Haber, here are the six reasons millennials are shaping up to be history's most important entrepreneurs.

    SEE ALSO: 12 entrepreneurs who are changing the world

    AND DON'T MISS: Why now is the best time in human history to be an entrepreneur

    They crave collaboration

    Millennials believe in themselves and their peers, says Haber, and they love to work in collaborative environments. Open-floor-plan offices, entire walls of white boards, and constant teamwork are millennial-workplace mainstays.

    Haber writes about a Dropbox executive who once told Forbes that when millennials create a brand, service, or product, they do so with the expectation that their consumers or customers will finish it. They're interested in teamwork at every stage. "Companies that understand this and figure out ways to engage in this co-creation relationship with millennials will have an edge," the executive said.


    They're academic achievers

    In the expanse of US history, millennials are considered the best-educated students to date. The number of students taking the SAT and enrolled in Advanced Placement courses, as well as the sheer number of college applications submitted, has never been higher, according to Haber.

    "Millennials are serious about academic achievement," Haber writes. "Ninety-four percent of millennials believe that college is essential to succeed in life." And while they abhor failure, they don't get stuck in its hold. Instead, they make a quick recovery and set their sights on the next step.


    Entrepreneurship is increasingly attractive to them

    Haber points to author William Deresiewicz's assertion in The New York Times that the "culture hero" of our time is no longer "the artist or the reformer, not the saint or scientist, but the entrepreneur ... The characteristic art form of our age may be the business plan."

    According to Haber's research, 88% of millennials said in 2014 they would like to work for an entrepreneur, compared to 69% in 2011. And that doesn't mean they aren't driven to be entrepreneurs themselves. In fact, Haber reports, 55% of millennials said they'd like to start a business of their own one day. 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Jason Haber

    In business, a company's bottom line — and most important measurement of success — has traditionally been its profit.

    But following a zeitgeist shift that self-described "serial and social entrepreneur"Jason Haber calls "The Great Convergence," the bottom line is getting a face lift.

    Historically, Haber explains in his book "The Business of Good: Social Entrepreneurship and the New Bottom Line,""capitalism has driven innovation and change on a monumental level. ... [But] its focus has been on profits."

    So what happens, he asks, when the world's problems call for a solution that isn't entirely profit-driven and our governments are crippled by debt, unable to help?

    The answer, it seems, is social enterprise. "Social entrepreneurs have a triple bottom line to consider: people, planet, and profit," Haber writes.

    Haber points to companies like TOMS, Warby Parker, Global Poverty Project, and d.light as examples; companies that have identified a larger purpose or problem, and use traditional business tools to build a scalable solution that impacts the world at large.

    "Social entrepreneurship is a model that is changing the world," he says. "It aims to fix the most entrenched problems facing mankind while building successful and profitable business for its owners ... It relies on technology and social media to thrive."

    And Haber says this seismic shift in business is led by millennials, who currently comprise the largest segment of the US workforce. Millennials, who Haber refers to as Generation Now, have lived through the last three decades of turmoil and technological advancement. They've come out of this era possessing six distinguishing qualities —including a craving for collaboration and constant access to technology — that reveal why they're well-positioned to create companies that value both profit and purpose.

    "Unlike previous generations, whose pursuits of money and excess are well documented, millennials have far different goals," Haber says. "It's no longer simply about making money now."

    NOW READ: Millennials are rapidly changing today's business landscape — here are 6 reasons for it

    AND: 12 entrepreneurs who are changing the world

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: A psychologist reveals a trick to stop being lazy

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    So, you think you want to start your own business? Good for you! People will tell you that 90% of all startups fail. That doesn’t mean yours will.

    Starting a business can be one of the best decisions you will ever make. And I’ve found there are a few actions you can take that will give you an advantage and multiply your odds of success.

    I cofounded the company webMethods and grew it from a basement start-up to global company with 1,100 people and $200 million in revenue. In the process, I have also invested in and advised dozens of businesses.

    Of course, as with any advice, one size doesn’t fit all. Make these ideas work for you and it will increase your probability of succeeding.

    SEE ALSO: 10 things I realized after I quit my job without a plan

    1. Do a reality check to verify that your idea can fly

    When starting our business, we didn’t have a resource like Google Ventures Sprint available, but this is a great guide you can use to assess nearly any business idea in just 40 hours.

    Next, build the smallest version of the product possible. This is also known as a minimum viable product, or MVP. The objective of an MVP is to get customers using your product, so they can give you their honest feedback early in the process.

    For our MVP, we built a simple, working prototype, offered it for free online, and immediately gained customers.

    2. Focus, focus, focus

    You’re energized by your idea and want to accelerate on every front. You must develop a product, raise money, win customers, build a team, promote your business ... the list goes on. Yet, if you try to do everything all at once, you’ll spread yourself and your resources too thin.

    How can you find the discipline to focus and set clear priorities?

    As you grow, stay focused by asking three key questions about everything you do each day. If what you are doing doesn’t answer these questions clearly, you’re focused on the wrong things.

    These are:

    • What problem are we solving for our customers?
    • Where’s the leverage?
    • How do we measure this?

    3. Surround yourself with the right people

    You are known by the company you keep, so choose wisely.

    Nearly every relationship in an early-stage startup should be strategic! Don’t give into the temptation of surrounding yourself with a bunch of your friends. For example, don’t hire your sister-in-law to do your bookkeeping unless she has experience in your industry and contacts that are valuable to your company’s market and growth potential.

    There are five key characteristics everyone in your business must have: integrity, good reputation, intelligence, generosity, and a network that intersects with your business.

    Each person you work with represents a hub with spokes of relationships.

    One of our early investors was the former CEO of a software company for whom my cofounder worked. He became a mentor and introduced us to several smart and generous people from his network, including his accountant, lawyer, and other prospective investors. Each introduction he made led to additional investors, prospective customers, partners, and even potential employees.

    Another option is to look into accelerators or incubators in your city, such as 1776 in the Washington, DC region where I live.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Matt Inglot 5

    I was burnt out bad.

    Somewhere along the way, my fledgling web agency had turned from entrepreneurial dream and local success story into an 80-plus hour-a-week anxiety-drenched nightmare.

    On the outside I looked successful, having expanded from a tiny office to a bigger, fancier one and continuing to add to a small team.

    But like so many freelancers and agency owners, I was stretched thin between trying to get projects out the door and constantly trying to find and sell to new clients. And the business always felt one or two clients away from running out of money.

    In early 2011 it caught up to me. January was already off to a problematic start, and it hit me: I just couldn’t do yet another year of this. I had started my business in order to create freedom in my life, but instead I was trapped in my business.

    Things had to change dramatically, or it was going to be time to look for a job (gulp). I spent weeks really analyzing my entire agency’s model. Quite frankly, a lot of it didn’t look good.

    But as I dug deeper and started playing with the numbers, I noticed that a small group of clients was actually driving most of my real profits, and through a very small set of services. If I stripped everything else away and only kept what was working, a very different business emerged.

    Fast forward to 2016, and I can definitely say the experiment worked — and far better than expected. My typical work week is now 20-30 hours, my agency earns six-figure profits, and as a bonus, I now work entirely remotely.

    Most of this success has come from carefully following three counterintuitive strategies:

    1. Be really selective with the clients that you take on and say no to all others

    Get very clear about which clients you can deliver disproportional amounts of value for compared to your fees. These are the clients that will happily pay premium rates, and who will keep working with you.

    Rather than trying to sell to any prospect that gets in touch, really evaluate what that relationship will mean to them and to you. Will this be a long-term highly profitable win, or will it merely distract from finding the clients that will be?

    When I carefully examined my business, most of my agency’s real earnings came from a very small group of clients that kept spending more every year. But when I reviewed how I spent my time, a vast majority was actually into chasing and managing smaller clients!

    Turning down the 80%-90% of leads that aren’t a perfect fit has actually freed up time to find the right clients and to concentrate on creating much better results for existing ones.

    If you’re not sure what ideal clients for your business look like, see examples here.

    2. Protect your time and attention by offering fewer services

    It is very tempting to offer complimentary services to your existing clients. Isn’t that what the business books teach?

    But all too often the process of trying to sell, deliver, and keep track of new services actually sucks up time and attention far faster than the extra money these services bring.

    With my web agency I was quick to try offering add-ons such as logo design, branding, search optimization, pay-per-click ad management, and much more. But inevitably these “add-ons” were never a priority compared to building websites, and so they took time away without creating value.

    Before adding a new service, consider the likely return on your time compared to doubling down on what is already working. You can always refer clients to trusted partners for services that you don’t offer.

    3. Stay flexible and profitable by avoiding fixed expenses

    Taking on lots of fixed expenses creates tremendous pressure to bring in sales every month just to pay the bills.

    Before my business could pay me a dollar, it had to pay for employees, office rent, business insurance, even coffee and water delivery. In slower months this meant spending tremendous amounts of time on lower profit projects, just to keep the lights on.

    By contrast if you avoid fixed overhead and keep your costs tied directly to your projects (as I do now), a slow period is time for business strategy or even vacation.

    Instead of office space and a large in-house team, I now work fully remote from anywhere in the world, and rely primarily on a small and very trusted team of contractors.  This scales beautifully in slow and busy times.

    By doing less, and focusing only on those clients, services, and expenses that brought in the real money, my work week dwindled. The 80-hour work weeks turned into 20 to 30 hours, and most surprisingly, profits actually increased from this greater focus.

    The freed-up time has allowed me to actually spend time with friends and family, enjoy amazing experiences such as rock climbing in Croatia for a month (while my agency ran smoothly), and to start writing about what I’ve learned.

    Matt Inglot is an agency owner and the founder of Freelance Transformation. His newsletter helps other freelancers and agency owners find their ideal clients.

    SEE ALSO: A 30-year-old entrepreneur explains how she turned a weak moment into a driving force behind her 7-figure business

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: EX-UNDERCOVER DEA AGENT: What I did when drug dealers asked me to try the product

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    laptopsI'm not going to sugarcoat it, sell you rainbows and unicorns, or tell you that becoming an entrepreneur will make you instantly rich.

    And I'm definitely not going to tell you that it's easy.  Starting your own business is HARD. The biggest component to success is a high risk tolerance.

    I have repeatedly struggled to find my footing, pay bills, and get everything set up before finally finding a workable formula.

    The business itself is easy to create.

    I've written about how to quickly set up an online money-maker for yourself.

    I've even put together some ideas and specific examples to help you come up with an idea.

    It's the cultivation of the business that takes time and energy. No matter how great your idea is, it will not flower by itself. You have to nurture it.

    And that's the problem. Nurturing takes TIME. Lots and lots of time, attention, care and energy.

    My goal is to help you harness digital power to make yourself money with as little effort as possible. Create products, share value with people, make income. But it's not always a linear process, is it?

    So how do you make a relatively smooth transition from corporate employee to automated/digitized entrepreneur without going destitute?

    You have to start with the middle road: freelancing

    The bottom line is this — you need time to set up your business. Most corporate jobs have schedules that don't really allow for the type of time you need to build content, products, relationships, and skills.

    Here's what I did. In the transition period between quitting my job at Longhorn Steakhouse in Atlanta, making $2 an hour, to creating my digital empire out of my office in gorgeous Santa Monica, I worked as a contracted online freelancer. I got to create my own schedule, meet a bunch of interesting people, and do something that I loved (or at least liked a lot).

    And the biggest perk of all? I could charge a LOT more money.

    Most corporate jobs are salaried,  so they're going to max you out and overwork you for your pay.

    Hourly jobs can be low-paying by their very nature. The more money you make per hour, the less the company will want you to be working. It's a catch-22.  

    But as a freelancer, none of this applies to you. You set your own schedule and your own rates.

    Inevitably, this is where the objections start to crop up:

    • "I have no idea what I would do. I'm not good at coming up with ideas."
    • "I don't have any valuable skills. I just have my job-specific skills."
    • "My market is already saturated. There are better people doing what I do."
    • "Nobody will pay for what I know when they can just teach themselves."

    (These are exact responses copy and pasted from fans and readers who follow my work.)

    What are your skills?

    There are literally HUNDREDS of things you can do that are enjoyable and that other people will PAY you for. I've even put together a guide for you that outlines in full detail how I hit it big freelancing and how you can, too.

    Start thinking about where you could mine your talent for freelance skill:

    • What do people consistently ask you for help with or advice in?
    • Do you have any unique skills, talents, hobbies, or abilities?
    • What areas of life have you excelled to an "advanced" or even "intermediate" level?
    • What skills ideas interest you enough to learn, and then teach to others?
    • Could you work independently doing what you do now at your current job?
    • Do you have any friends with talents that compliment yours? Maybe you could team up.

    Daniel DiPiazza

    My story:

    Best to learn by example, I always think. Here's how I did it.

    When I first started freelancing, I was working at Longhorn Steakhouse (I'm basically a steak aficionado now). I was also working for Kaplan Test Prep.

    My steak skills weren't worth much. But my Kaplan skills were.

    I realized that people were paying $100+ per hour for me to tutor their student one-on-one.

    You won't believe how much I was making … $18/hour!

    And the worst part was …


    Our perceptions are skewed because minimum wage is $7.25. So we think that anything significantly higher than that is good money. The reality is, $7.25 isn't even livable. You probably need a minimum of $20 per hour to make it out here.

    But when I really sat down to think about it … I was INFURIATED.

    Here I was, doing all the teaching, grading, talking, communicating with parents, and driving from school to school while Kaplan just sat back remotely and took 82% of my money.


    Since I was the one with the skill, I needed to be the one making the money. I knew I could make this work on my own and cut out the middle man.

    So I bided my time. I looked around, I made some calls.

    I found a partner who was also interested in getting a freelance education business going. He was the consulting side, I was the teaching side. Together we knocked down doors, created classes and started making money. A lot more of it.

    First, I quit Kaplan. I didn't want any conflicts of interest. Then, as soon as the restaurant started to get in the way of my new endeavor, I quit that as well.

    When I quit both jobs, I wasn't making quite as much with the new business … but the projections were giving me a solid indication that things would pick up quickly. So I just took the leap.

    So mine your skills, do your homework, and take the leap. Don't look back. I put together this guide for you that outlines in full detail how you can hit it big freelancing.

    Worst case scenario, you can always go back. Best case scenario, you'll never have to.

    Daniel DiPiazza is the Founder of Rich20Something, where he writes about starting a business you care about, living a happier life, and occasionally, bacon. If you liked this article, be sure to join the Tribe by signing up for his free newsletter.

    SEE ALSO: How I made almost $24,000 in 4 weeks freelancing online

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Cuba businesswomen

    The six women came to Mexico City to participate in the Women's Forum on Wednesday and Thursday, an international gathering of women, but also men, from politics, business and civil society to discuss social and economic issues.

    They came with an arsenal of business cards with phone numbers, email addresses and even Facebook pages or business websites.

    While they use the Internet, web access is very expensive and hard to come by in Cuba, where it is tightly controlled by the state.

    Only 3.4 percent of households have Internet access, but the government is opening public WiFi hotspots and President Raul Castro has promised access to all Cubans by 2020.

    "Our dreams and wishes include being able to export and through the Internet you can not only buy but also sell," said Caridad Luisa Limonta, who owns a workshop of seamstresses in Havana.

    "If Cuba is opening up to the world, one of its potentials is to be able to export," she said.

    Gradual changes

    In the meantime, like many Cubans who can afford to travel, they take advantage of their trips to shop for the things they can't find in Cuba.

    Cuba businesswomen

    De la Rosa bought fabric for her children's decoration store, but it was a "limited" quantity to avoid problems with customs in Havana.

    It's nothing compared to the stuff that Nidialys Acosta buys and brings on planes.

    "For example, I've had car bumpers and fenders in my luggage," said Acosta, who since 2011 has run a business that repairs the famous classic American cars from the 1950s that are part of Cuba's street landscape and which are used as taxis for tourists.

    Most of the six women used to work for the government but they entered the nascent private sector that Castro allowed after he succeeded his brother, Fidel, in 2008.

    This has helped them earn more money in a country where the average monthly salary is $24.

    Only 10 percent of the island's labor force, or nearly half a million people, is in the private sector.

    While the US-Cuba diplomatic thaw has raised hopes of change on the island and a potential end to the US trade embargo, the Communist Party Congress earlier in April suggested that Havana's opening to the world would remain slow.

    "I think that there were a lot of expectations of sudden, quick changes, but I think the changes that are coming will be very gradual," Vicente said.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: EX-UNDERCOVER DEA AGENT: What I told my friends and family about my job

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    Nagina Sethi Abdullah 3

    I started my weight-loss blog,, as a hobby. I didn’t even think about making money from it. I simply wanted to help other women feel like I did after losing 40 pounds: energized and confident.

    Today, my site brings in more than $10,000/month — while I’m busy enjoying my full-time job and two kids.

    masala body

    But before I could turn my blog into a profitable, automated business, I had to learn how to sell.

    And I hated selling.

    I thought selling meant you had to scream at people in ALL CAPS. I didn’t want to do that, so instead I barely sold at all! I might add a line at the very end of an email once in a while.

    The results: Some months I made a couple thousand dollars. But other months I made $0.

    These inconsistent sales weren’t going to cut it.

    So I learned to overcome my fear of selling — and ended 2015 with four consecutive $10,000+ months.

    masala revenue

    Today, I want to give you the three techniques that took me from inconsistent sales to making more than $10K every month.

    1. Get inside your customers' minds

    If you want to sell with confidence, before you do anything else, you need to understand your customers like they are good friends.

    The reason is, you already know how to sell to your friends. You sell them on what TV show to watch next and what restaurant they absolutely need to try. And it’s not sleazy. Part of that is because you have their best interest at heart. But it’s also because you know them so well you can make valuable recommendations — aka, offers.

    Selling to anyone involves the same building blocks, which I learned in Zero to Launch.

    To sell, you need to know four key things about your customers: their hopes, dreams, pain points, and fears.

    masala body

    These are the things you want to talk about on your website and in your emails. Doing that will establish trust and make readers more likely to want to buy your products.

    There are three easy ways to get the answers to these questions:

    • Surveys
    • Talking to your customers in person
    • Good old fashioned research


    Sending a survey to people in your target audience has two benefits.

    First, you’ll get a lot of insights about what they’re thinking. Second, you’ll get the exact words to use in your copy so that your audience will listen to you.

    Before you start writing questions, think about when you get a survey: What’s the #1 thing that determines if you’re going to answer it?

    Length, right? So why would you create a 15-question survey and think anyone will answer it?

    I recommend 5 questions at the max. Make 2-3 of those open-ended. You learn so much more when people explain their answers instead of just selecting "Yes,""No," or "C."

    Some questions that give you the best insights include:

    • What do you want for yourself [in specific topic]?
    • What are you doing now? How does that make you feel?
    • What’s your alternative? How does that make you feel?

    Here’s part of the survey I sent out when I was developing my online business idea.

    to cook

    You’ll see I kept most of the questions open-ended so I could capture the person’s words and feelings.

    I also provided specific examples of answers. People will usually follow your lead for how much information to provide. So anything you can do to clearly state what you need will help you get better responses.

    Follow these two steps to create a survey in minutes:

    1. Don’t overcomplicate things. Use a free survey tool like SurveyMonkey and move on.
    2. Email the survey link to your friends or readers.

    You don’t need hundreds of people to answer your survey. I sent mine to 40-50 people, and 15 completed it.

    In general, expect a 20-30% response rate. That’s enough to give you a good understanding of your target audience.


    Surveys are valuable, but you also need to talk to your target audience. You can learn as much from a 1-hour interview or conversation as you can from 100 survey responses and weeks of online research.

    The key is to ask open-ended questions and let them talk. Take notes as they talk, or, if you have a good memory, record the conversation in a document after. You want their words — not your interpretation of them.

    eating comments

    Be shameless. Start these conversations when you’re with anyone in your target audience.

    For example, one day I went to drinks with 3 friends, and I started a discussion that went on for more than an hour.

    I simply asked, "Are you able to control what you eat at night?" This is a pain point I discovered through other research, so I thought it would generate a lot of conversation.

    And it did! My friends starting talking over each other about how they sneak to their kitchens at night to get peanut butter and chocolate. One even told me that she made her husband go buy Haagen Dazs Caramel Cone ice cream.

    After I left that night, I typed our conversation into the "Notes" app in my phone so I didn’t forget anything.

    Later I did some research and discovered that the Caramel Cone flavor my friend couldn’t stop talking about was the brand’s #1 selling flavor.

    So in a blog post, I called out this ice cream and talked about how, even though we try to control ourselves, something happens at night that removes all logic.

    vampire ice cream

    This email got incredible engagement. People sent me replies saying, "It’s like you’re reading my mind" and "I relate to your stories so much!"

    Use the notes from your conversations in the same way. When you notice that a certain word or phrase keeps popping up, use that in a blog post, in an email, or on your website.

    This level of detail makes your readers feel like you understand exactly what they’re going through. And that’s far more influential than any facts or data you could provide.

    As a bonus, you’ll also discover a lot of ideas for blog posts in these conversations.

    One last note: If you can’t think of anyone to talk to, look for Facebook groups that match your target audience. Then reach out to people in those groups to ask about chatting with them.

    Internet research

    Though it’s not as personal as surveys and interviews, you can learn a tremendous amount about your target audience with online research.

    You want to look for the same four things you ask about in surveys or in-person conversations: their hopes, dreams, pain points, and fears.

    Again, look for overall topics that keep appearing and also document the exact words and phrases you see over and over.

    Here are some of my top places to learn about your audience:

    • Amazon reviews of similar products and books
    • reddit or other online posting sites
    • Facebook groups

    For Amazon in particular, Tim Ferriss recommends that you read 3- and 4-star reviews, as those have the most insight about what the reviewer liked and didn’t like.

    I used Amazon to research Spanx, because the people who use it want to slim down. Here is one of the reviews I found, with key phrases circled:


    It’s helpful to record these reviews in something like an Excel document and highlight the key terms you see and want to remember. Then everything is in one place, and the most important phrases stand out.

    I used my Amazon research to help develop my first product.

    My first idea for a product was an ebook showing people how to eat healthy. In it, I planned to share 40 recipes that helped me lose weight.

    After doing online research, I found that people said that they needed more tactical information to help them eat healthy. They didn’t only want recipes, they also wanted menu plans and grocery lists.

    Because of this research, rather than creating a $9.99 ebook, I sold a $5K premium coaching product. Although I had only a very basic website, I made my first $10K a month after launching the program.

    2. Become a master storyteller

    You’ve gathered all this great data. Now it’s time to use it to tell stories.

    Storytelling is proven to help people learn and remember information.

    The key is to hook readers from the start with a surprising or interesting statement. Then throughout your story, speak to readers in their language, and address their hopes, dreams, and/or fears.

    You can tell the stories that you capture from others through your research (steps 1 and 2 above). Or you can share your own stories about those same experiences.

    Since I live near New York City, I often heard women talk about feeling out of breath when they climb the subway stairs. They said this trigger makes them wish they weighed less and had more energy.

    After a recent trip with my daughter on the subway, I noticed how energetic and light I felt as I walked up the stairs. I wrote about that trip as an inspirational story. I compared how I used to feel and how I feel now that I’m 40 pounds lighter.

    subway story

    I wrote every sentence with my ideal clients’ pain points and dreams in mind. I knew that the way I felt is how my target audience wants to feel.

    At the end of this email, I offered my coaching program to help women feel the same way.

    The result? $4,000 in sales from just this email.

    One of my new clients even told me that she decided to work with me because the story about walking up the subway stairs resonated with her.

    3. Focus on the "why" not the "how"

    The final change I made to my copywriting was to stop writing about the "how" and instead write about the "why." This is another lesson I learned thanks to Zero to Launch.

    Here’s my first sales page from 3 years ago. See how much I focused on the "how."


    The writing is almost like a science lesson. Yes, flavors and low-sugar foods help you lose weight. But this is not what convinces people to take action to lose weight.

    When you focus on why someone wants something — what’s driving them to go after their goal — you persuade them that it’s worth changing. And that makes them more likely to give your solution (i.e. your product) a shot in helping them change.

    Here’s part of my sales page today. You’ll see I talk about why people want to lose weight. These points are all based on the research I did.sales page

    Craft your sales page like this, and — because you talk about your readers’ wishes — they will likely click to learn more about your products. My page helps generate more than $10,000 every month now.

    You can sell, too — without being sleazy

    You don’t need to scream at people in ALL CAPS or tell them to "act now!" to sell online.

    Genuine selling starts with truly understanding the needs of your clients through surveys, conversations, and online research. Then you use that research to write engaging, inspiring stories. Lastly, you address why your clients want to change so they’re motivated to take action.

    This is a formula for long-term growth. Once you can make your readers feel like a friend, grab their attention, and inspire them, they’ll crave more content and also the products you have to offer.

    Take the first steps now. In the comments below, tell us:

    1. Who are 5 people you can interview? If you can’t think of anyone, where are 3 places you can you look to find people?
    2. Who can you send a survey to? Do you have a group of people you know, a FB or online group you’re in, or a posting site where you could ask people to complete it?

    Then go do it!

    Nagina Abdullah is the founder of and a weight-loss coach for busy women. She has been featured on Fox News, Mind Body Green, and Woman’s World Magazine for her easy weight-loss technique for busy women. Get instant access to her free weight-loss recipe book and 1-week meal plan with seven easy recipes here.

    SEE ALSO: How Bill Gates, Ellen Degeneres and other super successful people turned their passion into a career

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    NOW WATCH: These striking images show just how overcrowded China's population really is

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    Gary Vaynerchuk

    I’ve said it time and time again: Entrepreneurship is hard and it’s not for everyone.

    If, after taking a realistic personal inventory of who you are and what you want to be doing, it turns out that you are ready to take the next steps in starting a business, I want to discuss the advice I always give to first-time entrepreneurs.

    1. Be practical about your money

    The first and most important thing that I tell new entrepreneurs is the importance of practicality when it comes to to money.

    I’m blown away by all the "entrepreneurs" who start businesses and at launch, don’t realize the importance of generating money and how to manage profits. Instead of focusing on the present financial needs and building an actual company, they are too busy thinking about how much money they’ll be making four years from now. It’s a complete lack of practicality.

    Cash is oxygen. How much money do you have to stay afloat and for how long? Do you have one year’s worth of rent and overhead? First-time entrepreneurs always make this mistake and it’s my biggest concern for them. You have to make sure your actions can respond to the bleeding of cash that occurs before you even turn a profit.

    I often see first-time entrepreneurs making one of two mistakes at the start:

    1. They do not have a funded business and haven’t raised venture capital (or any other capital). They only have six months worth of money to make their business goal come true. While they dream up every perfect scenario that will allow them to achieve their dream, by the third day of being "entrepreneurs," the realization hits that nothing goes perfectly and they run out of cash.

    2. They are so well funded that they don’t build up the necessary muscle to generate revenue. They are so used to the idea that losing $150,000 in burn rate is "fine" because they have a funded company. Most of their attention and behavior is focused on raising their next round instead of building an actual, profitable business.

    No matter the situation, starting a new business, particularly one that requires an upfront financial investment and not just your time, drains money. You need to understand financially what it takes in order to pay for necessities like rent, supplies, and inventory (and that doesn’t even include your personal expenses). A high level of practicality is necessary for success.

    2. Realize that building a business is a huge time commitment

    The next thing I remind first-time entrepreneurs is that by starting a business, you have made a decision that does not allow you any time, in your first year, to do anything but build your business. No more binge watching Game of Thrones. You are not allowed to watch The #AskGaryVee Show going forward (maybe…).

    No more late night parties with your friends. You are in such a Code Red zone that every minute (let’s call it 18 hours a day if you want this to be successful), needs to be allocated for your business. This even includes time with your family. It’s a substantial sacrifice and you have to realize the level of commitment that is required.

    Also, I was trying to be very kind in the first year because I know we live in a politically correct world where leisure, "me" time, and family time are so important to so many. However, if you have this ambition of building a business, you have to make this mental commitment.

    Then any time you have for family or leisure time is an added bonus. In fact, you have to ask yourself how big of a business you are actually trying to build. The bigger the business, the more years you’ll need to tack onto year one.

    3. Hold yourself to your word

    One of best pieces of business advice I’ve ever received (and one that I try to impart on anyone entering the business world) is that your word is bond. My dad told me this at an early age and it has shaped how I’ve conducted business ever since. He told me once that if I commit to buying 100 cases of wine for the store, and I change my mind the week before it arrives, that I would have to drink all of it because I made the commitment.

    If you make a commitment, no matter what happens, you have to deliver. Not only is your business’s brand at stake, but your personal brand and reputation too. Poor business decisions could put your status as an entrepreneur at risk.

    While the sources vary, it’s often stated that most businesses will fail within the first 18 months. The number one reason why I think so many businesses fail so quickly is because they don’t realize how hard it is, how "all in" you have to be, and how much talent it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.

    I’m not promising that following this advice will guarantee your business will survive the first year, but without these considerations, you are not setting yourself up for success.

    PS: This may just be words for you on a screen right now, but I beg you to read this very carefully. Read it and make sure it sinks in. We are absolutely living through the greatest generation of fake entrepreneurship that we’ve seen in a long time. Unfortunately, many people will be hurt both financially and emotionally because of this era. I implore you to take these words seriously.

    Read the original article on Copyright 2015.


    SEE ALSO: A 28-year-old quit her job to start a business that brings in over $15,000 a month — and she works only 4 hours a day

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    NOW WATCH: 12 things to do during the day to get the best night's sleep

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    walk starbucks

    Having happy employees isn't just a way to boost office morale or boost your reviews on Glassdoor.

    Studies show that employees who feel satisfied at work will be more productive, help recruit great team members, and stay put at your company much longer than employees who simply view their work as a job.

    Happy employees are of the utmost importance to your bottom line, so here are 6 ways to boost employee happiness at work.

    SEE ALSO: An entrepreneur and investor gives his best 3 pieces of advice for people who want to start a business

    1. Let them work remotely

    We're in an era of constant connectivity. With platforms like Skype and now Slack, it's easier than ever to communicate when you're not in the same room. If your team is still operating on a traditional 9-5 office model, it's time to consider shaking things up.

    Studies show that people are both more productive and happier when they have the freedom to work from home, even if it's only some of the time. Telecommuting at least one day a week is becoming so commonplace that top candidates are going to look to see what sort of flexibility you offer when they consider joining your team.

    And you can be sure your current employees will resent not having the option to work from home when their peers increasingly do so very effectively.

    2. Commit to their professional development

    For really smart people, what matters most in a job isn't the paycheck or the lifestyle the job affords; it's the professional development the company offers. The most driven employees (the ones you want) will have accepted your job in spite of many other opportunities.

    You should work to constantly reaffirm that they made the right choice by helping them progress in their careers and develop new skills. Hold training sessions in-house or sponsor extension courses that help your employees develop new skill sets.

    As an employee, there is no shortchanging the benefit of knowing that you're in a working environment that celebrates learning and creates the circumstances for further development at every chance.

    3. Embrace autonomy

    No one likes having someone breathing down their necks. Remember, in hiring an employee, you decided they were qualified for the job and a good fit for your company culture.

    You were also convinced enough by their work ethic and drive to extend an offer. Once that decision is made, you should step back and allow them to take charge in their role.

    Of course, you should still do a thorough onboarding job, but once that's done, step back and allow them to come to you if they need further guidance. Too much hand-holding gives the impression that they're not prepared for their job or that you don't trust them. Stepping back is a nonverbal way of showing confidence in their capabilities and potential.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    back of man's headThis post from entrepreneur Nelson Wang originally appeared on Quora as an answer to the question "What is it that nobody tells you about adult life?"

    My second startup had just completely failed. I came home on a Saturday night at midnight and there was a letter on my kitchen counter.

    It was from a law firm threatening to sue my company.

    It felt like someone kicked me in my stomach. It was one of the worst feelings in the world.

    In the last 31 years of living, I wish there were a few key lessons someone taught me as I was growing up.

    Here are the 10 things I felt like nobody told me about adult life:

    1. The most valuable currency in the world is time

    Money is valuable. Time is even more valuable.

    Time is finite. Once you spend it, you cannot earn it back.

    Use money to help you find more time. Time with your friends, family and loved ones.

    One of my family friends spent most of his life saving every single penny that he could so that he could finally live his dream life.

    One day, he was involved in a car crash. He didn't survive.

    Appreciate the time that you have now.

    2. Sometimes only you can help yourself

    Having a great support system of friends and family is absolutely critical to your well-being and success. Invest your energy and time with the people that love and support you and make you happy.

    Also recognize that sometimes only you can pull yourself out of the darkness.

    When my second startup failed, I remember feeling absolutely terrible one night as I laid in bed looking at the ceiling. I felt like I had failed as a person. Eventually, over time, I realized that I couldn't keep moping around. So I got out of bed and went for a run. I began to read books (like "Zen and Inner Peace") to help clear my mind. And eventually, I convinced myself that I would give it another try.

    And guess what? It worked. I'm on my third startup now (CEO Lifestyle) and hit 1,500 subscribers in just three months.

    3. Empathy is the key to connecting with people

    Once, my sister called me to talk about a tough situation. I didn't have an answer to the problem, so I said, "What do you want me to do about it?"

    And she said, "Nothing, I just want you to listen to me, that's all."

    That's some of the best advice she's ever given to me.

    Most of the time, we don't have a clue as to what the right answer is. And that's OK. What's more important is that you understand the other person's perspective and feelings. That's how you connect with people.

    Learn to deeply empathize. It'll make you a better person.

    4. You really don't need that pizza slice at 2 a.m.

    Put it down. Now. Your body will thank you five years from now.

    Wait, is it a BBQ chicken pizza? OK, maybe just one bite ...

    pouring drinking white wine

    5. Drinking is overrated

    When I was younger, I used to get so excited to meet with friends to drink during the weekend.

    Work is over, time for happy hour!

    And then I realized, it's actually not as fun as I thought. Sure, it's great to bond over these experiences, but are the experiences actually that great?

    When I drank, I began to realize that it's (obviously) harder to remember conversations, sometimes the person you're speaking to isn't even coherent and ultimately it doesn't end up feeling like quality time. To top it off, there are the hangovers.

    Do I still have a drink socially every now and then? Sure, but it's really rare now for me.

    I love having a sober, fun, witty, genuine conversation with someone and being able to remember it perfectly weeks later.

    That feels like a real connection to me.

    Think about it this way, if people are only having fun with you when drinking is involved, do they really like you for who you are?

    6. Your career success is heavily tied to the value you provide

    I get people asking me to review their résumés pretty often. Which is funny, because I wrote a book called "The Resume Is Dead."

    Anyway, one person asked me to take a look. So I did. And what I saw on his résumé is something I see all the time.

    A lot of people write out the responsibilities of their work in their job experience.

    Very few people write out the results.

    Sure, you might have created a new product line at the company, but why does that matter?

    Always remember to show the value of your work. This is very often tied to the success of your career.

    I bet you want some specific examples, don't you? OK, I'll give you one:

    Example 1: Created a new mobile app for Company XYZ.

    Example 2: Created a new mobile app that increased customer acquisition by 3X and increased customer satisfaction by 75% for Company XYZ.

    Which one is more compelling to you? Thought so.

    7. Love is a broad spectrum

    Love is a commitment. Love is being there for someone when things go south. Love is making adjustments and compromising. Love is realizing that it's not just about you. It's mutual. It's about helping each other discover happiness.

    Sometimes love means letting go.

    Love is a broad spectrum. Explore it and define what it means to you.

    8. You can lead with or without a title

    Companies put titles in place so that people feel like they are progressing in their career. What most people don't realize is that you can lead with or without a title.

    "I have this great idea but I'm not in a position of power to make it happen!" said almost everyone I've ever met.

    Learn to be articulate. Learn to be persuasive. Learn to sell ideas effectively. Learn to get buy from stakeholders. The title doesn't do that for you. You do that by stepping up your skills.

    Stop worrying about the title. Start leading.

    The title will come naturally.

    9. Most paths aren't linear

    What works for someone else may not work for you. Every single one of us is unique after all.

    When I was in college, I saw a lot of friends go into finance. That sounded like a great idea! I could make a lot of money right after college in investment banking, have a stable career and live the American Dream.

    One problem: I was terrible at finance. I even failed an introductory economics course. It was clear I sucked at it.

    So I thought about what my skill sets were.

    I'm passionate (Think "Tony Robbins"). I work hard. I love talking with people. And I want to help others.

    So I went into sales. I never would have guessed this is the career I would have gone into. Most of my friends became doctors, lawyers and financial analysts.

    But that's the thing. We're all different. And I had my own path to take.

    Your path in life will be different from others. Learn to embrace it.


    10. You are in control

    Don't want to work a 9-to-5 job? Study people who have created lifestyle businesses and start one of your own.

    Don't want to be out of shape anymore? Follow the P90X workout, get a NutriBullet, and get in the best shape of your life.

    You're the CEO of your own life. Start making decisions that drive the vision you've always dreamed of.

    Get started. Now. Because it's never too late to live an epic life.

    SEE ALSO: 6 ways hobbies can enhance your career

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    surfing wipeout

    Who doesn't love chocolate? And we all know Hershey's — but perhaps we don't all know the story of the famous chocolate company's founder, Milton Hershey.

    Milton Hershey was a 'nobody' who, according to Biography, became the American manufacturer and philanthropist who founded the Hershey Chocolate Company and popularized chocolate candy throughout much of the world. 

    He started three separate candy ventures before he found success. None of them worked out the way he'd hoped, but eventually he started the Hershey Chocolate Company, which made him an industry leader.

    Success often results after several misfires. We make many mistakes along our personal and professional journeys. If we learn from our mistakes, life does make allowances. However, if we wallow in our mistakes, they can consume us.

    Using Hershey's life story, allow me to share five mindsets that help people bounce back from failure — something I know well from my own journey.

    1. Nothing is constant

    "When you go through a hard period / When everything seems to oppose you ... When you feel you cannot even bear one more minute / NEVER GIVE UP! Because it is the time and place that the course will divert!" — Rumi

    Milton Hershey dropped out of school at the age of 14 and began apprenticing with a master confectioner in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Four years later, he borrowed $150 from his aunt and set up his own candy shop in the heart of Philadelphia.

    After five long years of hard work with little success, he had to close up shop. He joined his father in Denver and found work with a confectioner. It was in Denver where he discovered caramel and how fresh milk could be used to make delicious candy.

    Just because you haven't found a way of doing something yet, it doesn't mean that you are a failure. When you view yourself as a failure, you perpetuate a vicious circle of negativity that can effect your future actions.

    In any outcome, there is often a percentage of external influence. Viewing failure as a temporary event helps us take practical and non-emotional steps to address it.

    2. It's disappointing, but I'll take it on the chin

    "The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials."— Chinese Proverb

    Even though you are able to acknowledge that you are not a failure, it doesn't make failure any less painful. Resilient people develop a mental capacity that allows them to adapt with ease during adversity, bending like the green reed instead of breaking like the mighty oak. They accept, adapt, and move on.

    Entrepreneur Milton Hershey started all over again, first in Chicago and later in New York City. He failed in both cases, but his setbacks never held him back.

    In 1883, he started the Lancaster Caramel Company in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, convinced he could build a successful candy company. Soon he had a thriving business shipping his caramels all over the country.

    When we have the confidence and the experience of bouncing back from failure, taking on future challenges does not seem so daunting. It is about deciding to put oneself on the obstacle course in the hope of success.


    3. What can I learn from this?

    "To change and to change for the better are two different things."— German Proverb

    We should never start anything without the belief that we can be successful, but it is commonly understood that mistakes are an essential part of any journey to eventual success. Learning does not come from doing everything perfectly — the best learning happens when we crash and burn.

    In 1893, Milton Hershey got an up-close look at the art of chocolate making at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. This deeply inspired him to start Hershey Chocolate Company despite his recent success with his caramel business.

    He wanted to redefine how milk chocolate was made. Milk chocolate was then largely considered a Swiss expertise. Hershey wanted to find a new formula to mass-produce milk chocolate candy accessible for the masses.

    Milton Hershey sold his Lancaster Caramel Company for $1 million in 1900 to start Hershey Chocolate Company.

    In 1905, Hershey Chocolate Company began production and set a new course for the candy industry. Milton Hershey took over three years to envision and plan his modern candy-making facility following his exit from Lancaster Caramel Company.

    As Biography writes, "quickly, the Hershey Chocolate Company's success far exceeded that of its founder's previous venture. His winning ideas included the Hershey Kiss in 1907, which the company's founder named himself. The trademark foil wrapper was added in 1924".

    4. If people criticize, that's OK

    "Criticism is just someone else's opinion. Even people who are experts in their fields are sometimes wrong. It is up to you to choose whether to believe some of it, none of it, or all of it. What you think is what counts." ― Rodolfo Costa, "Advice My Parents Gave Me: and Other Lessons I Learned from My Mistakes"

    The greatest fear when we make a mistake is that others will judge us negatively. Others often use criticism out of their own insecurity. It says more about them than it does about us.

    Take a look at this NY Times article critiquing Hershey and his chocolate:

    "Hershey's candy making genius was hardly consistent. He spent years trying to figure out how to 'mix turnips, parsley, celery and even beets into chocolate.' Even his signature product had — and still has — its critics. Compared to Swiss chocolate … Hershey's 'carries a single, faintly sour note,' the result of the fermentation of milk fat, a side effect of using liquid condensed milk rather than powdered milk. This edge came to 'define the taste of chocolate for Americans, who would find harmony in the sweet but slightly sour flavor.' Like his candy, Hershey, who died in 1945, was flawed."

    The harshest critics are often those without the courage to put themselves in the firing line — often living their lives gloating at the mistakes of others to raise their own self-esteem.

    When we take on a difficult task, we have to ensure that we are doing it for ourselves, not for the approval of anyone else. In that case, failure is far easier to deal with.

    5. OK, what's next?

    "The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance. The third step is action." - Nathaniel Branden

    The biggest threat of any mistake is not the immediate ramifications, but the longer-term effects on our behavior. If we take a mistake to heart (especially when we could not have done anything to influence the outcome), being able to take the next step seems that much harder.

    Why dwell on failure when it is in the past? If we don't take a positive next step, we risk being caught in an emotional loop of failure. Start the next project to occupy your mind. Don't just sit in your room waiting for the world to swallow you up. Perhaps that's the biggest lesson from Hershey's story.

    Serial entrepreneur and author Faisal Hoque is the founder of SHADOKA and other companies. Shadoka enables entrepreneurship, growth, and social impact. He is the author of "Everything Connects: How to Transform and Lead in the Age of Creativity, Innovation and Sustainability" and "Survive to Thrive: 27 Practices of Resilient Entrepreneurs, Innovators, and Leaders". Copyright (c) 2016 by Faisal Hoque. All rights reserved. Follow him on Twitter @faisal_hoque.

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    young professionals

    People love to hate millennials, just as a decade or two ago people loved to hate Gen Xers, and so on. Every generation criticizes the one that came after it.

    Among the usual complaints are millennials' sense of entitlement, over-reliance on digital communication, and lack of respect for work ethics and professional culture.

    While it's wrong to generalize an entire generation based on often-anecdotal evidence, there are some valid trends and characteristics that are more common among those born between the late 80s and early 2000s.

    Most external criticisms focus on the trends that have outward effects. For example, the fact that millennials are poorly informed about news events compared to other generations is significant because it makes them less savvy voters, and makes them more irritating in certain conversations.

    But there's one trend that's compromising the millennial generation from the inside, and it's getting very little attention.

    The risk aversion of millennials

    Are millennials entitled? Selfish? Lacking empathy? Maybe. But one thing's for sure: They don't like taking risks. In fact, they're the most risk-averse generation since the Great Depression, when people had the perfect reason to avoid taking risks in investments.

    Why is this?

    1. Economic turbulence

    Millennials grew up or entered the workforce amidst the 2008 economic crisis, and have likely seen multiple points of rallying and falling in the stock market.

    The past 20 years or so have been extremely volatile, leading millennials to believe that the stock market is an inherently risky place where you could lose everything — and jobs can be swept out from under you at any minute. This makes millennials inherently more aware of and averse to risk.

    2. Corporate distrust

    Millennials are less trustful of corporations than generations that came before them. They trust advertising less because of how bombarded they are, and they've witnessed the effects of corporate greed on the economy. They therefore may be less likely to invest in stocks or trust major corporations (and our economic system in general).

    3. Choices everywhere

    It's a world where technology evolves at an astounding rate, and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of options for almost anything you could want, from jobs to investments to apps to dates.

    There are tons of online choices, all of them offering some degree of instant gratification, and millennials never want to stick with any one choice for too long. It's a never-ending cycle of transition and instant gratification, and anything deviating from that cycle is perceived as excessively risky.

    4. Student debt

    Student debt is at record levels, as is college attendance. The result is a greater portion of the population wrestling with student debt, and higher levels of debt itself to make matters worse.

    This adds pressure on millennials to find a consistent stream of work and makes them less capable of investing significant capital into projects, stocks, or other investments. They're starting in the workforce with heavier monthly expenses, and they tolerate financial risk worse than generations past.

    Stressed Law Students

    Why it's killing millennials' potential

    In some ways, risk aversion can be beneficial. It's encouraging more millennials to invest in and trust in themselves more than they trust a corporation, a stock, or any other kind of investment.

    However, there are ways that this risk aversion is throttling millennials' potential:


    1. Investment gains

    Millennials who avoid the stock market are missing out on significant potential investment gains. Indeed, many millennials favor investing in CDs and money market accounts, or just saving in basic savings and checking accounts.

    With lower interest rate investment vehicles, it can become impossible to outpace inflation, and eventually they end up losing money rather than gaining it.

    2. Jacks-of-all-trades

    Part of millennials' risk aversion involves a degree of job hopping, attempting to do as much as possible without fully investing in any one company or career. This can be beneficial, as it lends itself to skill development and experience in a number of different areas, but it also prevents millennials from following a trajectory of growth in any one career, and may limit them in their future income potential.

    Is risk aversion a good thing or a bad thing? Personally, I think risk aversion is beneficial in some ways, but has a broader effect of limiting your true potential. Only by taking risks and plunging into opportunities do you stand a chance of seeing higher gains — and this is especially true when you're young and nimble enough to recover from risks that go wrong.

    If you're a millennial in the workforce, or if you're considering investing, I encourage you to challenge yourself in taking more risks; start a business, make investments, or quit your job in pursuit of something better. There's no better time for your risk tolerance, and you have everything to gain.

    SEE ALSO: Why 20-somethings are miserable

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    Caren Maio

    It was the day an investor wrote a personal check for $25,000 to help take my startup Nestio to the next level that the responsibility of being a CEO really hit me.

    It was 2011, and we were really just three people and an idea. Here was a father of two young kids, taking money out of what could have been a college fund, and investing it in the growth of our company.

    I felt an enormous sense of responsibility to him, to the company, and the team, to not only return that money, but make it grow.

    Entrepreneurship entices people for good reason: You get to build something of your own, control your own destiny, and swing for the fences. In fact, more than half of working-age adults around the world believe they have what it takes to start a business, according to a recent report from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor.

    I was one of them. But starting a company in my late 20s was nothing like what I expected. The pressure, the tough decisions, the loneliness: Yes, I knew all that was coming … but I didn't know how unrelenting it would be. On the flipside, there have also been many unexpected rewards I never imagined.

    Here are three key lessons I've learned since starting Nestio five years ago, which I hope can help other aspiring entrepreneurs or young CEOs in the thick of it:

    SEE ALSO: Turning around someone's bad impression of you could be as simple as saying a few sentences

    1. Delegating: Love it … but don't be afraid to leave it

    When I started my business, alongside my cofounder Mike O'Toole, I did everything from business development to sales, operations, and finance. As we grew from a three-person company to a six-person company to now a 35-person company, I had to let each of these roles go.

    Considering I was working 18-hour days, this was a lot harder than I imagined. I loved customer service, for example, but I knew if I didn't delegate, we'd never be able to scale. That really came as a rude awakening at first: To truly lead, you have to give up some of the job functions you love the most.

    Of course, there's good reason for that. Consider a recent OfficeMax survey that shows small business owners lose more than four billion hours a year doing routine tasks. As CEO, I've come to realize that my most important jobs — the ones I have to get right — are keeping money in the bank and hiring the right people.

    If I succeed at those, then the company has a much greater chance of succeeding, as well. On the flipside, delegating also gives talented, smart people something of their own to lead and champion — a must if you want to keep A players on board.

    2. Hiring: It's a moving target … but you can't compromise

    When I was job hunting in my younger years, I always thought employers had it easy: picking the best of the bunch from dozens of eager, qualified candidates. Being on the other side of the table, I realize how incredibly hard hiring is — in fact, the odds of finding the right person can feel overwhelming.

    That's especially true in tech, of course, where the talent gap is still painfully wide. But I've learned the hard way that it's better to wait for the right candidate than just fill seats. Even though I'm stretched thin and my company is poised to double in size, I'm ultra selective in terms of whom I bring aboard.

    We have hiring goals, which are directly correlated to meeting and exceeding revenue and product targets. But despite that, it still doesn't make sense to just put butts in seats. The wrong hire, at the end of the day, only makes everyone's life harder.

    But it gets even trickier. Sometimes, the right people for present needs aren't a fit two or three years down the road. Part of the art of hiring is trying to find people who can grow alongside the business. Will they be able to take on new responsibility? Can they lead a team when the time comes? In this sense, hiring right requires not just taking stock of current abilities, but forecasting future ones.

    3. Leading: One is definitely the loneliest number

    Even though I've surrounded myself with great people, being the boss can be isolating. You have to make unpopular decisions, including letting genuinely good people go: wonderful individuals who, for whatever reason, aren't growing with the business. At the same time, as CEO, you have to resist the urge to share everything with your team. As an inherently extroverted person, I wear my heart on my sleeve, so this has been especially challenging. But sometimes I just have to step back and sit with things to figure out the best course of action.

    The irony in all of this, of course, is that you're really not alone in being alone. A full 70% of first-time CEOs report feeling isolated on the job, according to Harvard Business Review. I've found that one of the most effective ways of breaking out is actually to meet up with fellow founders for advice and moral support.

    The loneliness seems infinitely more manageable when you realize other people are going through it, too. It also gets easier with time. You learn to walk that fine line between friend and boss. And you find other channels to connect with the people around you.

    In fact, that leads me to one the biggest upsides to being CEO. For me, choosing my own destiny has also given me the chance to choose to help others. I'm thrilled to be in a position where I can do what I think is right for people I care about. I also love helping employees work through their goals, both personal and professional.

    Like any job, being the CEO has its good days and bad. I've made my share of mistakes and might have handled a few things differently in hindsight. But there are few things as rewarding as building your dream company and giving back to those who helped make it happen.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    leader speechPush yourself to become a better leader by mastering the 4 Cs of business leadership.

    Great leadership is undeniably hard to come by. Whether it’s leading a sports team or an organization, leadership is responsible for molding raw talent into effective and powerful instruments of action.

    In business, that translates into motivating employees to achieve your company’s goals and mission.

    Instilling this motivation in employees, however, is one hundred times harder than anyone thinks.

    Running my own business, I’ve realized that leading is much more than just letting people know their responsibilities.

    Whether you’re leading an entire company or even just one department, strong leadership is critical to maximizing human talent.

    To get the most out of people, I’ve discovered that you need to work on four C’s:


    Everyone talks about the need to paint the big picture to help employees visualize how they fit in and how they help contribute to the overall mission. Yes, this is all true, but it all comes down to clarity. How clear is this picture to every single person on your team? Do they know exactly what purpose and goal you’re trying to achieve? If the answer is no, then whatever vision or goals you have set up will be hardly effective. But clarity doesn’t stop there. Clarity is critical in all aspects.

    In my experience, clarity is important to effectively engage and hold employees accountable. In the past, I’ve made the mistake of assuming responsibilities and expectations were clear only to find out later that the employee had a completely different idea of what I expected. Take something as simple as “regular client communication.” To me, this means proactive outreach to clients on a weekly basis, if not more often. To an employee, however, this can mean monthly communication.

    Lesson learned. Clarity is just as important in the little things as the big things. But how do you know that your goals and expectations are clearly communicated? Regardless of the message, it’s important to have the employee provide their own version of the task, expectation or goal to ensure there is no miscommunication. This simple exercise of repeating and rehashing is key to making sure everyone is on the same page.


    Just like clarity is crucial to seeing eye-to-eye, commitment is crucial to living out the promise you set out during the job interview or that big company speech. It’s not just about being a good role model, but showing commitment to the team itself. It means showing each and every one of your employees that you are committed to their success and have their best interest in mind.

    As a leader, being committed often equates to being sacrificial. Yes, that means you’re willing to give up your time to coach your employees, to answer their questions and give them a hand when they need it. It also means teaching them new things and helping them achieve more.

    Running a small company that’s still what I consider a startup, it’s hard to find time to really coach and mentor employees. However, I’ve also learned that not taking the time to build up your talent can be detrimental in the long term.

    When I first started my company, I was looking for capable people to do their jobs but didn’t take the time to build them up to be the next leaders. This resulted in a lack of leadership when I needed it most, leaving me to carry the burden of always being the leader, ultimately limiting the growth of our company.

    While committing yourself to the success of your employees can be difficult, it’s important that you dedicate the time and resources to help your employees succeed.


    It may seem odd that compassion should be a characteristic of great leaders. After all, great leaders are supposed to be bold, fearless and indifferent, right? Being too soft can often be seen as a weakness.

    However, when I talk about compassion I am referring to empathy shown to employees during your daily interactions. This means genuinely caring when they’re having a bad day, or they’ve had a car accident or a pet die. It also means not being critical and accusatory when something doesn’t go exactly as you had expected.

    Over my years working with a wide range of talent, I’ve learned that more is accomplished by showing genuine care and concern rather than by blaming or criticizing. I remember a time when a client meeting did not go as I had expected, and we ended up losing a client. My initial reaction was one of blame. Why was that report not done sooner? Why didn’t we show more results? Why did we wait so long? Turns out, this was the wrong approach. Yes, while it hurt to lose a client, there were lessons to be learned that would have made a bigger impact in the long run.

    Next time when you’re ready to blame, criticize or disregard, remember that we’re all human and a little compassion goes a long way.


    The last C of great leadership is courage. Courage is fundamental to propelling change and motivating people to do what sometimes sounds crazy. Think of Benjamin Franklin chasing after thunderstorms and lightning. Crazy — but that’s courage. If you want to inspire and see others achieve what sometimes seems unattainable, you have to have the courage to do something crazy. Today’s newest, most innovative companies, like Uber and Airbnb, were not developed after tested-and-tried models. What might have been a crazy idea is now something hundreds and thousands are rallying behind.

    I know I’ve had to dig deep into my pocket to find courage sometimes. Recently, our company moved to a comprehensive all-in-one marketing platform. While the original idea was risky, I had to show courage and faith that this one big change was going to improve the way we serviced our clients. And it has!

    While being courageous is not always easy, it’s important to always show courage and faith if you want a team, small or big, to believe and follow.

    Clarity, commitment, compassion and courage are all unique characteristics leaders have to demonstrate. While these are not always natural or easy to develop, it’s important for leaders of any age to grow in these areas to see future success.

    As the founder and CEO of OneIMS and Clickx, Solomon Thimothy has built his career around his passion for helping other businesses grow an online presence and thrive in the digital world. Solomon works with clients big and small to develop uniquely customized and highly-effective marketing strategies that meet every company's individual goals. Follow him on Twitter @sthimothy.

    SEE ALSO: 5 ways to change your body language to make people like you

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    Nahema Mehta at Absolut Art Apartment opening night in Berlin, Germany

    Nahema Mehta was running a start-up when an opportunity she least expected presented itself.

    Her mission to make original works of art accessible to the masses grabbed the attention of executives at Absolut, who, at the time, were looking to expand into a lifestyle brand by launching a product category beyond vodka.

    After being pursued and recruited by the corporation and its leaders, she became the inaugural CEO of Absolut Art, an online platform that allows clients to discover and purchase limited-edition pieces from artists around the world at a groundbreakingly low cost.

    When I sat down with Nahema, her passion for and knowledge of the subject matter was instantly palpable. As we chatted about her background, travels, and career path, it was clear that she had accomplished so much all before the age of 30.

    "This has always been so much of who I am that it felt like a very natural extension," she said. The depth and breadth of information she shared was inspiring, especially for a young professional like myself. Keep reading for her invaluable advice and you'll be on your way to CEO in no time.

    On starting young:

    "I think there's a real beauty in being young and a little bit bright-eyed and naive. If you've done your homework and you know enough to go into the field, the fact that you're young is only giving you an advantage."

    On seeking advice:

    "Take a chance and talk to people about what you're thinking about doing. People love to help. You will be shocked by how many say 'OK this is my advice, here's two friends you should meet.' So when you're feeling ready, take the plunge and remember that it doesn't have to be perfect."

    On finding mentors:

    "It's great to understand your strengths first, but the most important thing is to figure out what you don't know, acknowledge it, and surround yourself with people who can teach you and who are smarter than you. Because if you're the smartest person in the room, I truly believe you're in the wrong room."

    On taking risks:

    "I swear by the mantra, 'in order to break the rules you must first master them.' There's something sexy about the word disruption, and people are so into it, and I think there's a reason for that. You want to challenge the norm, but there also has to be a respect around why the norm happened."

    On setting yourself apart:

    "I feel like when people have an idea, they feel like they can't talk about it because they're worried someone else will steal it, but that's the worst mentality to have. Ideas are a dime a dozen, and everything is in the execution. If you're executing it in a unique way that's individual to yourself, no one can replicate it."

    On becoming educated:

    "It's great to hire experts, but you should always know enough about any field that you're hiring for to call bullsh*t. When I started out, I would trade French lessons for coding lessons. And it wasn't because I wanted to become this master coder, but it was because I wanted to be knowledgeable in hiring and show respect for that field and the people who are working with me."

    On paying it forward:

    "No matter where you are in your career, there are always people who are three, four years behind where you are. Everyone is always so focused on how they're going to do the next thing, but always take a step back and think about how you can pay it forward. Once you do well for yourself, you have to do well for others."

    SEE ALSO: A CEO shares 4 strategies for improving your leadership skills

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