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The latest news on Entrepreneurship from 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 »

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    Ashton Kutcher talks about the instances when the founders of Airbnb and Uber pitched their companies to him as an investor.

    Follow BI Video: On Twitter

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    steve case

    AOL founder and current venture capitalist Steve Case has words for Silicon Valley: you won't be the only game in town for much longer.

    "Last year 75% of VC went into 3 states, California, New York, and Massachusetts, and that's not going to be the case 10 years from now," Case told Business Insider in an interview at Vanity Fair's New Establishment Summit, where he is speaking.

    The reason: it's no longer enough for a young tech company to specialize in software alone. To thrive, tech startups need to partner with a wide range of companies with specific expertise in the areas they want to conquer, he believes.

    "This next wave of entrepreneurship, what I call the third wave, is going to require more partnerships," Case said. "The Facebook-Snapchat-Twitter wave is basically about the software and virally spreading it. But if you're trying to impact health care, education, food, energy, transportation, smart cities, driverless cars, they're all going to require partnerships."

    Those partnerships are more likely to happen in cities with companies that already compete in these industries. As cities to watch, Case pointed out:

    • Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska,and St. Louis, Missouri, for farming and agriculture tech. "St Louis is particularly interesting because Monsanto is there, it's now in the process of doing a big merger, I'll bet you there'll be dozens of people, maybe hundreds of people, who leave and do some startup thing, and St Louis will be a hive of activity around ag tech."
    • Albuquerque for water technology. "They have some national labs there, Sandia and Los Alamos, so some of the technology transfer [will be] coming out of those labs."
    • New Orleans for educational tech. "They restarted their school system post-Katrina it's all charter schools, so much more open to innovation. It's attracted a lot of young people, Teach for America people in particular. Some stayed and are now opening up companies that are focused on improving learning in K-12."
    • Pittsburgh for self-driving cars, thanks to Uber. "Uber started in San Francisco, but they're kind of betting their future on Pittsburgh. Partly because of Carnegie Mellon, partly because Pittsburgh is the steel capital — making stuff, that's part of their legacy and culture and history."

    He also pointed to the example of Florida-based virtual reality startup Magic Leap, which has raised more than $1 billion in venture capital, as an example of how big tech companies no longer need to be started in traditional tech hubs like Silicon Valley.

    "The conventional wisdom was you could never build an engineering-centric company in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, you had to do it in Silicon Valley, or maybe you could do it in Boston. They've proven that wrong," he said. "Talent is ready to move, capital is ready to flow, we just need more of these tentpole breakout stories that will help accelerate."

    SEE ALSO: Forget Craigslist — I found an amazing apartment in San Francisco using Yelp

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    woman photographer

    Have you ever dreamed of starting your own business? If so, what's holding you back?

    If not having enough money to get started, then I've got some excellent news for you. You can start countless businesses for under a $100.

    Over they years I've done many odd jobs to pay bills. While it's not always easy, there are ways that you can put your skills (whatever they are) to work. It doesn't matter if you're a handyman or an online marketing expert, you can make extra money on the side.

    You may think that's crazy, but you'll be convinced after reviewing these 101 business ideas that can actually be launched with less that $100.

    1. Direct sales representative

    Being a local sales representative for companies like Avon, Mary Kay, and Pampered Chef requires you to spread the word about their products by hosting a party or selling them online. Most starter kits cost around $100 and provide you with everything you need to become a sales rep.

    2. Consulting

    If you already have the knowledge or experience in a specific area, such as providing legal advice or showing business how to become more eco-friendly, then you can easily start your own consulting agency. The main costs involved are marketing your business and networking. So invest in a website and business cards. Here is a consulting guide I put together to help.

    3. Senior home companion

    There are currently more than 46 million people in the U.S. alone who are 65 years of age or older. That figure is expected to grow to around 98 million in 2060. That means that there are lot of seniors who looking for someone to keep them company or families looking for advice on how to care for their loved ones.

    4. Tutor

    There are a lot of students who need assistance in every subject — whether if it's in elementary school or college. If you have this knowledge, then starting your own tutoring business can become an appealing business idea that requires almost no capital. After all, the students already have the learning materials with them.

    5. Freelancing

    Whether if you're a writer or web developer freelancing is a lucrative business idea that pretty much requires nothing more than your talent, laptop, and internet connection. Thanks to the numerous websites that post freelance gigs, you should have no problem starting out. Here is a freelancer guide that will help you every step of the way.

    Related: The 15 Best Freelance Websites to Find Jobs

    6. Vlog with YouTube

    Since every laptop, tablet, and smartphone comes equipped with a built-in camera, anyone can start creating videos and posting them to YouTube. If you have knowledge you want to share, or are just incredibly charismatic, then you can start profiting from your vlog through ads.

    7. Auto repair/detailing

    If you have a garage, tools, and knowledge, then why not start your own auto repair shop? Even if you don't have a garage, you could start a mobile auto repair business where you go to the broken-down vehicle.

    If like the idea of working with vehicles, but aren't a mechanic, then start washing and detailing cars. I had a former colleague who did this on the side. Eventually, he was able to make this into a full-time through word-of-mouth recommendations at work.

    8. Sharing economy rentals

    Thanks to the "sharing economy" more and more people are opting to rent items instead of purchasing them. You can rent everything from your car, parking space, and household items like furniture. I wouldn't get too carried away. I would start with a niche and slowly work your way up. For example, you could start renting out yard equipment like rakes, shovels, or leaf blowers. If you don't already own them, you can purchase for under $100.

    Related: Airbnb and Uber Are Just the Beginning. What's Next for the Sharing Economy.

    9. Managing web design

    There are also countless sites out there that teach you basic web design. Learn a new trait today. Even if you aren't a web designer, you could find a designer affordably and still charge less that professional web design firms. They key here is managing the process, most businesses don't want to do this and are willing to pay.

    10. Handyman

    If you're able to make minor household repairs, like switching out a broken electrical outlet or sealing a pipe under the kitchen sink, then this is another business that doesn't cost much to start, but is also in-demand.

    11. Menu planning

    I know plenty of people who are indecisive when it comes to their meals. That's why they're willing to hire someone to help them plan out their meals. This is a low-cost idea for anyone who enjoys working with food, but doesn't have the resources to prepare and serve it.

    12. House sitter/pet sitter

    This essentially requires no initial investment. You can start asking your family, friends, and neighbors if they need someone to watch their home or pet when they go-out-of-town.

    Related: An Animal Lover Finds the Perfect Franchise — and Financial Security

    13. Lawn care

    If you have a green thumb, enjoy being outside, and have the tools to get started, like a lawnmower, weed wacker, chainsaw, then this is a no-brainer of a business idea. The only main cost is advertising and marketing your business.

    14. Homemade gourmet foods

    Whether if it's soup mixes, jellies, or chocolates, people love gourmet food products. And, since you already have a kitchen, you just need cooking supplies, packaging, and basic marketing materials to get started.

    15. Professional organizer

    We live in a materialistic world. And, it's easy to start getting overwhelmed by all the stuff that's consuming our homes. Professional organizers can help people get their homes back-in-order for no more than $20 or so on classified ads.

    16. Green cleaning service

    Cleaning services are a dime a dozen. You can stand out from the competition by offering a green cleaning service that uses eco-friendly and natural products. Some of these you may be able to make yourself and even start selling.

    17. Grocery delivery

    Some major grocery store offer delivery services, but not all of them. And, there's a chance that your local mom-and-pop grocery store doesn't. That's when you can charge customers to go to the store for them and deliver their groceries to their home.

    18. Personal concierge

    A personal concierge takes care of everything from taking clients to the airport, the dog to the vet, or managing their schedules. It's basically being someone's personal assistant.

    19. Creating information products

    If you have experience with a specific niche, then you can start selling your knowledge by creating products like eBooks or instructional videos. The cost is usually no more than your time, domain name, and web hosting.

    20. Blogging

    As with creating information products, if you're familiar with a specific topic, then you can launch a blog where you share this knowledge. You can earn money by selling ad space, becoming an affiliate, or starting a subscription service. Here is my top resource to getting started blogging. I followed it's tips and was able to personally create a solid four-figure income within around 12 months.

    Related:10 Keys to Make Millions Blogging

    21. Window cleaning

    I'll be honest. Window cleaning is my least favorite chore around the house. And, I'm certainly not the only person who feels that way. A window cleaning service doesn't require much capital and can become profitable.

    22. Interior designer

    Both homeowners and business owners are looking for people to design these spaces to make it more comfortable, organized, and productive.

    23. Flyer distribution

    Local businesses still people companies to hand out flyers or place them under windshield wipers. You pretty much just need to make a lot of copies. And that's not a major investment.

    24. Programming

    Learning how to program or code, like object-oriented dynamic programming language known as Ruby, is one of the most lucrative business out there. Here is a guide to starting a developer business to help get you started.

    25. Virtual assistant

    Similar to personal assistant in which you answer phone calls, respond to emails, and keep a schedule for you client. The difference? You do this remotely.

    26. Social-media consultant

    Businesses and individuals are always on the lookout for people to manage and maintain their social channels for them. I find that there are a lot of businesses that will pay $500/month+ for these services.

    27. Project management

    Believe it or not, not all businesses have project managers in-house. That means that projects can quickly get off-track. That's why they're willing to hire outside project managers to keep their teams focused.

    28. Secretarial services

    There are a lot of small businesses and individuals who need services like typing, transcribing, and proofreading. As long as you've got a computer, printer, and the necessary skills, your business is good to go.


    29. Catering

    If you're an outstanding cook, but don't want to invest in a restaurant, then you can start your own catering business directly from your own kitchen.

    30. Mobile repair

    Want to put your own spin on a repair service? Start a mobile repair service you go to the client. Whether if it's fixing a computer or piece of furniture, this doesn't require more than a vehicle, marketing, and expertise.

    31. Resume writing service

    A lot of people have difficulty writing amazing resumes. And, that could even cause them to lose out on a job they've been eyeing up. If you have knack for composing resumes, it become a profitable business. I personally have paid $100 several times for people to shape-up my resume.

    32. Holiday decorator

    Everyone wants their home or office to look festive for an upcoming holiday. But, not all of us can make that happen. If you can pull-off that holiday cheer, then it's another business that doesn't much capital.

    Related: Spreading Holiday Cheer as a Christmas Decor Franchisee

    33. Domain name buying

    You can buy a domain cheap, like under a buck cheap. If a business comes along and needs that domain they'll be willing to pay top-dollar for it.

    34. Flipping websites

    Using a site like Flippa you can purchase a website, build-it-up, and sell it. It's actually a lucrative business. I personally have been able to make around $25,000 - $30,000 flipping websites each year.

    35. Cleaning dryer ducts

    Dryers get jammed with stuff like lint. If too much builds-up, you could have a house fire on your hands. Since this is an area that's overlooking you can start a dry duct cleaning business with just a vacuum and some basic marketing.

    36. Tour guide

    If you know your area like the back-of-your hand then start charging tourists for a personalized tour of your hometown.

    37. Affiliate marketing

    If you have a blog with a fair amount of followers, then you can become an affiliate. Basically, this just means that you plug other people's products or services. As an affiliate, you get a special link. Whenever a visitor clicks on that link and makes a purchase, you'll get a commission.

    38. Drop shipping

    Drop shipping is where you sell products for companies on sites like eBay. Whenever the product the company handles everything else, like shipping.

    39. Snow removal

    If you have snow shovels, and even a plow, then this can make you serious dough. However, it's completely dependent on the weather. When I lived in Utah, I paid a neighbor $25 every time it snowed to shovel my driveway and walkway. It took him 30 minutes, but I didn't have to do it.

    40. Pet grooming

    If you enjoy being around pets, and have the skills to bathe them, cut their nails, and give them a little haircut, then this can be a serious money-maker without much of an investment.

    41. Pooper scooper

    Definitely not the most glamorous job, but you're doing something that most people dread so much that they'd pay someone else to do it for them.

    42. Event or party planner

    If you're organized and are a planner, then taking care of the arrangements for birthdays, retirements, or weddings can be a profitable business.

    43. Computer repair and maintenance provider

    Think of all the computers out there that crash or need updates. Do you think that each owner has the technical knowledge to handle any troubleshooting problems?

    44. Life coach or mentor

    It may sound new agey, but a lot of people hire coaches or mentors to help them with things like losing weight or finding happiness. I've found that most life coaches charge $50 - $250 per hour.

    Related: The 10 Best Cities For Starting a Life-Coaching Practice

    45. Bookkeeper

    It's important for both businesses and individuals to keep their files neat and tidy. Not all of them have the time to do so. That's when they hire someone to keep their books in order for them. I pay our bookkeeper $30 per hour, I found her on a local news site with a classified listing she paid $50 per month for.

    46. Tax preparation

    Preparing taxes is another necessity. But, most of us don't have the time or knowledge to take care of this task. If you're up-to-date on the latest tax regulations and enjoy crunching numbers, it can be a nice business during tax season.

    47. Write books

    Did you know that both Amazon and Apple have a book publishing field? Whether if it's writing an instructional book, cookbook, or sci-fi adventure, you can now publish your books for almost nothing.

    48. Flooring business

    Installing your own flooring may sound easy. But, it can get tricky. That's when you can save the day by installing floors for others. Best of all? You don't need to worry about inventory. You're just focused on installation.

    49. Painting addresses on curbs

    Office and residential customers would gladly pay you to spray paint their address on the curb. You just need some spray paint and address kit to get started.

    50. Parking lot striping

    There are plenty of parking lots that need new stripes. You can start off with a straight edge tool and spray paint. As you earn more money you can purchase professional equipment.

    51. Business planning

    If you've already created a successful business then you can actually make that knowledge and experience into a new business. New business owners will pay for someone to help guide them in developing their own successful business plan.

    52. Homemade natural soaps and beauty products

    In case you didn't notice, selling natural products is a thriving business. Even if you don't feel comfortable making your own natural soaps and beauty products then you can drop ship for companies that do.

    53. Logo design

    If you're a creative individual, then designing logos is a relatively easy business to start. You can do anything from designing unique logo or customizing ideas from templates. Here is a guide to starting a design business that should help you every step of the way.

    54. Translator

    The world is becoming smaller and smaller. Business are desperately in need of individuals who can speak the language in the market that they're entering.

    55. Restore/upcycle furniture

    If you're handy and spotted a used piece of furniture that needs some TLC, you could make the repairs and resell. That's pretty much all profit.

    56. eBay seller

    People have been making a living for years off of eBay by selling their old junk, reselling items, and drop-shopping.

    Related: Why It's Nearly Impossible To Stop This Amazon and eBay Scheme

    57. App seveloper

    With the mobile revolution in full-swing, the demand for apps has never been higher. Even if you don't have the programming skills, you can still hire someone to make your app a reality.

    58. Personal chef

    Unlike catering, which may only keep you busy a couple of days per week, personal chefs are responsible for cooking breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner for a client. However, you can spend most of your preparing meals that just need to be reheated. That allows you to take-on more clients.

    59. Personal trainer

    Even though healthy is a priority for most of, it can be challenge to not only stay-on-track, but also make sure that exercising is done correctly so that you don't injure yourself. You can become a personal trainer and motivate and monitor people when they exercise.

    personal trainer workout exercise

    60. Beautify products

    If you don't have the tools or skills to build something from scratch you can always modify or beautify an existing product. Take for example mosquito nets. They're bland. But, you could decorate them with ribbon or beads and make a unique product.

    61. Photographer

    Yes. We still have a demand for photographers for special events like weddings. Here is a guide to starting a photography business to get you started!

    62. Picture framing

    If this was already a hobby, then you have tools like a sander, matte cutter, glass cutter, tape, clamps, saws, miter boxes, picture hangers, a stapler, and glue in your work area. Now you just need to market your picture framing business.

    63. Flea market vending

    Flea markets are still thriving. And usually for just $20 you can rent out a spot for the day. You can sell anything from the junk laying around your house to the produce you're grew in your backyard to handmade crafts. There are usually multiple flea markets in your area that take place throughout the week, so this can easily become almost a full-time gig.

    64. Online content producer

    Businesses need lots of content today. What if they don't have an in-house team to create and produce content? They hire talented individuals like you to do that for them. There are businesses such as mine that pay $50 per blog post. Here is a content marketing guide to help you in your journey!

    Related: 4 Things Editors Are Looking When They Read Your Pitch

    65. WordPress developer

    Everyone should have a website these days. For the people who don't have the time or knowledge, you can be there to build their WordPress site for them.

    66. Sell plants online

    If you have a green thumb, and the space, then you sell plants online. It's actually a growing niche since people are becoming more concerned about where their plants originated from. And, you can probably charge less the big box stores.

    67. Calligrapher

    If your penmanship is out-of-this-world then you can charge people for handwritten invitations.

    68. Crafts seller

    If you can make handmade crafts, like jewelry and furniture, then you can sell those products on sites like Etsy.

    69. Home daycare

    You'll definitely need to get the proper licenses and permits, but this is a business that you can start at home. I know day care in my area is around $15/hr. This can be a very lucrative business.

    70. Cleaning out foreclosed homes

    Whenever a bank forecloses on a home they have to hire someone to clean the place out. If you don't mind getting a little dirty, both physically and emotionally, there really isn't much needed to start this business.

    71. Scrap metal recycling

    I've known several people who drive around and take junk, like broken dryers, off of people's hands full-time. Why? Because they can scrap that metal. Just keep in mind that the more valuable metals are aluminum and copper.

    72. Internet security consultant

    Security is a major concern for businesses and individuals. Besides your expertise and some marketing, it doesn't cost much to protect the hardware and software of others.

    Related: 4 Foolish Cybersecurity Mistakes Robert Herjavec Is Shocked People Still Make

    73. Freelance bartender

    If you can make a mean Manhattan then start marketing yourself as a freelance bartender for private parties and events.

    74. Dog training

    If you consider yourself the next Cesar Millan, then this is another low-cost, high-profit business idea.

    75. Referral service

    Whether if it's a new business or family that just moved into town, you can can refer them to the right vendors, babysitters, or restaurants. You're only cost is networking and marketing yourself to the community.

    76. Packing service

    No one likes the hassle of packing-up for a move. That's why they'll hire other people to pack and load their belongings up. You really don't need to purchase anything since boxes and tape will be included in your final price. But, you still should be a cheaper option than professional moves.

    77. Write and/or record a song

    If you have the musical chops then you can make a career out of writing your own music. And, it doesn't have to the latest Taylor Swift single. You could write for a Podcast or jingle for local business.

    78. Concert and show promotion

    If you have some experience in marketing, and are passionate about spreading the word about upcoming events, then you can start working with artists, venues, and labels to generate buzz for basically nothing.

    79. Tester or reviewer

    Companies are looking for individuals to test and review their products. You may start out small, even just getting for products. But, you can also start your own blog where you review products in a certain niche.

    80. Fashion design

    Sites like Etsy now make it accessible for you to sell your unique fashion designs. Even if you're not into high fashion, you can start creating your own t-shirts and produce through sites like CafePress.

    81. Import products

    You can purchase products from overseas in bulk and start selling them at a markup. That's how Pura Vida started.

    82. Makeup artist

    Whether if it's from a special occasion like a wedding or for Halloween, people pay great money for someone to do their makeup.

    83. Hairstylist

    If you're up on the current styles and can actually cut hair, then you can start your own salon from your home.

    84. Sell snacks and drinks

    Have you ever left a sporting event or concert thirsty and starving? We've all been there. That's why you see people selling bottles of water and hot dogs after an event. Unlike investing in a food truck or cart, you can start off with just a cooler.

    85. Voice-over artist

    Now that businesses are creating their own content, such as videos, they're looking for golden voices. If that's something that you possess, then you can have yourself a lucrative self-employed career.

    86. Brewer

    You can buy a beer kit for under a $100 and start tinkering around with brewing your own beer. I have a family friend who did this with his buddies and now has his own microbrewery.

    Gun Hill Brewing Co. 06

    87. Winemaking

    You don't need a vineyard to start making wine. You can start by growing some of your own grapes or purchasing juice. If you're small batch of wine turns out good, and you start making some cash, you may eventually start you own vineyard or winery.

    Related: How Craft Brewing Inspired This Denver Winemaker

    88. Sell eggs

    Farm fresh eggs are a big business right now. You can get in on the action by purchasing a couple of hens and building your own chicken coop.

    89. Bake bread

    You would be surprised how many people want home baked bread. I know woman who makes her own bread and has lines of people to purchase it. And, she can make a living by just working a couple of days a week.

    90. Create customized care packages

    People enjoy customized care packages that they can give out as gifts. To begin, you need to find a niche, like holiday packages, and start filling baskets with goodies.

    91. Instructor

    You can instruct anyone to play an instrument, cook a meal, or workout. You pretty much just need your knowledge to get started.

    92. Airbnb host

    If you have an extra room or home, then rent it out on Airbnb instead of just sitting there vacant. I personally was able to make around $3k a month last year renting out my downstairs.

    Related: Learn From These 3 Ways Airbnb Won the Trust It Needed to Succeed

    93. Property management

    Landlords can't always check in on their properties or maintain their property, like mowing and cleaning. A property management company takes care of these tasks for busy landlords.

    94. Laundry/ironing service

    We all have clothes that need to be cleaned or iron. Either we don't have the time or patience to handle these chores on our own. And, that's why we're willing to pay someone else to do this for us.

    95. Clothing alteration service

    If you know how to sew or replace buttons or zippers, then you've got a new business idea for people who can't part with their favorite pieces of clothing that is also cheap to start

    96. Item cleaning

    Everything needs to be cleaned. Whether if it's a computer or piece of antique furniture, this just requires the right cleaning materials and little elbow grease.

    97. Online dating consultant

    More and more people are using online dating. But it can be overwhelming when just starting out. If you have experience in this world, then people would definitely be willing to pay for your advice.

    98. Sourcing service

    You can find products or services for local businesses and resell it to them at a markup.

    99. Travel agency

    Even though there are hundreds of travel websites out there, most people don't have the time or patience to compare the prices on flights and hotel rates. That's why there's still need for people to do the legwork for them.

    100. Toy making

    Whether if it's a simple wood carving or using a 3D printer, making toys has been a popular business idea for parents and their kids.

    101. Food delivery service

    There are customers who either can't leave the office to pick up food, or are too lazy to leave the house. That's when they contact you to pickup and deliver food for them.

    SEE ALSO: 13 habits of the most persuasive people

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: An exercise scientist reveals how to get six-pack abs

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    kat cole cinnabon

    At 38 years old, Kat Cole has already held positions as an executive vice president at Hooters, president of Cinnabon, and, currently, group president at Focus Brands, which operates eateries Cinnabon, Auntie Anne's, and Moe's Southwest Grill. Cinnabon alone is a $1 billion brand, reports Today.

    Over the past decade, Cole has learned what it takes to be an effective leader, and now she's coaching others as a mentor and investor at Boulder, Colorado-based startup acceleratorMerge Lane, which supports women-founded companies.

    When Cole chooses her investments, she takes a good look at the founder's leadership potential. "I have to believe they have what one of my mentors called 'the candle power' — that when the wind blows, they shine brighter," she told Business Insider at Cosmopolitan and SoFi's Fun Fearless Money event last month.

    She also looks to see that the founders exhibit the four qualities she believes every entrepreneur or leader must learn to balance early in their careers to be successful.

    On one side, she said, be curious and humble."Be curious, be a student of your investors — what do they want, what do they need, what are they investing in today? Be a student of your customers. Be a student of your competitors," Cole said.

    "Be humble about the things you might need to fix. Because people will stick to you like glue if they know their advice matters and they can help shape the future of you or your initiative," she said.

    In contrast, leaders also need to be courageous and confident, she said. "[Have] the courage and confidence to make the tough calls or to take the risk."

    "At some point you do need to push back on an investor, at some point you do need to tell a customer 'no,'" she said. "People ask, 'Why would you ever say that? The customer is always right.' Not if they're an inefficient customer, not if they're a customer that takes so many resources you can't serve all the others," Cole said, noting that it's also OK to push back on business partners and employees when appropriate.

    She went on to explain why it's important to cultivate both sets of qualities equally:

    "If you're just curious and humble, and not the other part, you're just a student. And if you're just courageous and confident, you're an a--hole. A--holes actually get things done in the short term, but they usually don't build sustainable teams over time. So I look for a balance of those things.

    "And that's my advice, to constantly say, in any given week, 'Am I demonstrating as much hustle and courage and confidence as I can? But am I also remembering to bring forward curiosity and humility?'"

    Cole said that most importantly, she advises entrepreneurs to "Make sure you have a business plan that makes sense and that works. Ideas don't make money. Businesses do."

    SEE ALSO: What working at Hooter's taught the president of a $1 billion brand about questioning a business' success

    DON'T MISS: The 37-year-old president of a $1 billion brand shares her best career advice for young people

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    Ryan Blair, author of the new book "Rock Bottom to Rock Star," talks about how he went from being in a gang to becoming a successful entrepreneur — and how the skills he learned in the gang apply to his life today.

    Follow Tech Insider: On Facebook

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    female dj

    Whether it's running an Etsy craft shop or building the occasional website for a friend, there are few of us out there who’ve never had a side gig.

    Not only does it help you pursue a passion, but having the extra income can also help you pad your budget and make progress toward your financial goals all the faster.

    But the benefits that come from a side gig don't stop at the payout.

    For many, it can be a good way to test-drive a new career, get a foot in the door of a new industry or polish skills that can ultimately help lead to a more fulfilling or lucrative full-time job.

    Ed McMasters, director of marketing, communications and design for FusionWRX, a marketing engagement agency in Crestview Hills, Kentucky, says he hired his current graphic designer because he was impressed with the work she put into her side gig as a designer of invitations.

    "We had a couple people come in [who said] they had side gigs or were freelancing but they only had one or two pieces of work — whereas her portfolio showed she had been doing invitation design for years. It was fantastic," McMasters says. "In my opinion, [giving time to your side gig] is broadening your horizons and giving you the opportunity to learn something new and different, and ideally you can adapt it to your 9-to-5."

    Inspired yet? To show you some examples of how a side gig can help you get ahead in your full-time job, we asked three people to share their successful career-shift stories.

    SEE ALSO: 7 ways to bounce back after an unproductive workday

    'My side gig helped me get a foot in the door of my dream industry.'

    Who: Brittany Johnston, 27, marketing assistant, New York City

    Former Job/Side Gig: Elementary school teacher/Style blogger

    How My Side Gig Helped Me Land My New Job: I graduated from Penn State University in 2011 with a degree in elementary education, so the natural thing to do after school was to get a job as a teacher. My real dream, however, was to work in fashion in New York City, but everyone around me said getting a job in a field unrelated to my degree was slim.

    I had started a fashion blog in 2010, but not much came of it because I wasn't confident enough to publicly put it out there and I didn’t know exactly what I was doing. So I just kind of had it on the back burner.

    After graduation, I was determined for it to take flight. When I finally launched my new blog in January 2015, it received a lot of positive responses, and it's been growing ever since.

    I then decided to switch paths from education to marketing because I didn't see a lot of growth opportunities as a teacher. In marketing, the sky's the limit. If you're good at it, you can create the life of your dreams, and I also saw this as a way to pursue my dream of getting a job in fashion in New York City.

    In January 2016, I took a leap of faith and moved from Doylestown, Pennsylvania, to the Big Apple. After 80 applications and eight interviews, I was beginning to lose hope of getting a fashion job, until I finally came across a fashion recruiting firm, 24 Seven.

    I interviewed initially as a recruiter, but that position didn’t work out. I was heartbroken and had one month's rent left in my bank account when I got a call saying they had another opening, this time in marketing.

    I interviewed for that position and nailed it. I had put my side gig on my résumé because that was something I’d been consistently working on, and the skills I had gained through that were invaluable: digital and social media marketing, trend forecasting, coding, networking, content curation, photography, self-discipline and time management. I can confidently say my side gig didn’t just help me, but it was essentially the deciding factor in landing the job.

    My Advice for Others: Find someone who’s doing what you want to do and copy their strategy. Listen to what they’re saying, but more importantly, watch what they’re doing and how they execute. Look for the little gems in what they do, because nobody puts something out there without a strategy behind it.

    RELATED: My Money-Making Side Gig: 'I Teach Bloggers How to Turn Likes Into Paychecks'

    'My side gig helped me ramp up my professional experience.'

    Who: Ryan Taylor, 38, network operations center manager, greater Los Angeles area

    Former Job/Side Gig: IT system center administrator/Co-founder of a website that connects parents with local child sports teams

    How My Side Gig Helped Me Land My New Job: Sports has always been a big part of my life. Growing up, I played baseball and basketball, and I’ve also coached a girls' Little League softball team.

    In fact, it was while I was coaching and sitting on the Board of Directors of the local Little League that I realized parents needed help figuring out what teams their daughters could join next after they reached the age ceiling. So one of the other board members and I decided to start a directory of youth sports teams called AllTeamz, which enables players to find teams and teams to find players. We’ve been going strong for over three years.

    At that time, I worked in IT as a system center administrator, but about a month after I launched AllTeamz, I got laid off. I can say, however, that the skills I developed working on the site helped me land my next job. I’d been working in IT management for some time but prior to developing AllTeamz, I always felt like I was the least experienced person in the room.

    Now I could say I was the site’s administrator, architect, development team, sales and marketing team and, last but not least, the sole individual responsible for our customers. I leveled up my technical skill set and quickly became a jack of all trades. I learned more about infrastructure build and maintenance, coding and customer empathy, among other key skills. All this helped me land my current job as an engineer and tech manager for a major provider of tax and accounting software.

    I’ve been with my current employer for about three years, and being part of operations here means being responsible for the availability of services to external customers — and lots of them. I wouldn't have been able to operate in this environment without the knowledge I gained from my own side project.

    My Advice for Others: Too many people give themselves roadblocks for why they can't do something. The truth is, the best thing you can do is just start. When I decided to launch AllTeamz, I first went to a whiteboard and drew what I thought the site should look like. Getting started was the secret sauce.

    RELATED: My Money-Making Side Gig: 'My Husband and I Lead Local Food Tours'

    'My side gig helped me launch my own business.'

    Who: Melissa Weinberg, 46, sunless-tanning entrepreneur, Wellington, Florida

    Former Job/Side Gig: Mortgage post closer/Spray tanner

    How My Side Gig Helped Me Land My New Job: In 2010, I was diagnosed with skin cancer and being fair-complected, I knew I would never be able to achieve a tan the natural way again. So I purchased a spray-tan machine and started airbrush tanning myself.

    Once I noticed that there weren’t many businesses offering spray-tanning services in my area, I decided to give that a shot as a side business and began taking on clients on the nights and weekends.

    At the time I was working in the mortgage sector, and since the recession, I’d been unsure about the future of the industry. I really felt that I should follow my passion and learn about the beauty trade, just in case something happened to my full-time career. Plus, I really wanted to do something different at this stage of my life.

    So I continued to grow my clientele and knowledge of the industry, and in June 2014, even launched Perfect Glow Sunless, my own proprietary line of professional airbrush tanning sprays, along with Melissa Weinberg Tanning & Beauty, a retail self-tanning and skincare line — all while still working my full-time job.

    But I got to the point where I knew I needed to give up the comforts of the corporate world in order to expand my brand. It was scary giving up things like a steady paycheck, health benefits and my 401(k), especially as I was basically a one-woman show, doing everything from sales to customer service to marketing to packing daily orders. With so much going on, I just couldn’t continue to do both jobs.

    So in June 2015, I finally left my day job. This was the right decision for me. My business has continued to expand at a fast rate; my products are now used in over 300 spray-tanning salons. I am currently looking for larger retail and warehouse spaces, and I recently brought on my first sales account executive.

    My Advice for Others: First, your side gig has to be something that you enjoy, because your passion is going to fuel everything. Whether it’s a beauty service or a tangible good, people can read honesty, and if you’re passionate about what you’re doing, it’s really going to show. Second, your side business has to be feasible — there has to be a need for it. If it doesn’t fulfill a need for somebody, then you might run into problems being successful in the long term.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Peter Thiel

    The political tension in America's tech capital is palpable.

    Silicon Valley prides itself on being the home for the contrarians, the disruptors, the people who want to see the world be different. Peter Thiel, a founder of PayPal and outspoken libertarian, embodies the cherished Silicon Valley ethos more than anyone else.

    Yet somehow, Thiel's support for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, the ultimate political outsider, has made Thiel a pariah and an open target for public condemnation in his hometown.

    On Monday, Thiel gave a speech at the National Press Club to justify why he's voting for Trump, whose vows to curb immigration and to tear up free trade deals have made him deeply unpopular in the tech industry.

    But even as many groups have lambasted Thiel and threatened to sever ties with him, one group of techies is largely standing by Thiel: the recipients of the Thiel fellowship, a program that gives budding entrepreneurs a $100,000 check if they drop out of school and pursue their startup dreams.

    Diwank Singh Tomer, a 2013 fellowship recipient, said he's been fielding a lot of questions from friends in the Bay Area about his ties to Thiel, although not as much as from people back home in India.

    "Being an immigrant, I do not agree with the opinions and beliefs of Donald Trump. And for the same reason, I disfavor Peter Thiel's support for him," Tomer told Business Insider in an email. "However, this does not change my opinion regarding the Thiel fellowship in any manner. The fellowship has provided brilliant opportunities to people like me."

    Business Insider sent over 95 emails to the Thiel fellows we could find contact information for. Of those, only a handful responded, and many declined to comment given the possible repercussions. The Thiel Foundation also declined to comment.

    Last year, more than 6,000 people applied for 26 fellowship slots. In the last five years, the Thiel fellowship has been awarded to over 120 people, all ages 22 and below.

    Mountains of student debt

    It's not yet clear if Thiel's support for Trump will increase or decrease the number of applications for this year's batch of fellowship slots. But for the aspiring tech moguls who have already bought into Thiel's business vision, the 49-year-old's political views are not a deal breaker.

    Despite having multiple degrees, Thiel launched the fellowship in 2011 to offer an alternate path than the traditional education system. The $100,000 grants let fellows drop out or pause their education for two years to pursue their ideas. Some, like James Proud, have already sold a company and started another. Others have created a startup or two before returning to school to finish their degrees.

    The rising mountains of student debt is one reason Thiel started the fellowship program — and it's one of the marquee reasons he supports Trump. During his speech on Monday, Thiel said he's voting for Trump partly because millennials are "stuck" in a "broken system."

    "Our youngest citizens may not have huge medical bills, but their college tuition keeps on increasing faster than the rate of inflation, adding more every year to our $1.3 trillion-dollar mountain of student debt," Thiel said. "America has become the only country where students take on loans they can never escape, not even by declaring bankruptcy. Stuck in this broken system, millennials are the first generation who expect their own lives to be worse than the lives of their parents."

    Living in the echo chamber

    It's a message that has stuck a chord with a lot of millennials.

    William LeGate, a 2013 Thiel fellow, found that only some of his friends on the West Coast really questioned Thiel's ties to Trump. In his hometown of Atlanta, no one has asked his opinion of it, he said. Instead, some friends have asked about one of his investors' support of Hillary Clinton.

    "It's easy to live in Silicon Valley's echo chamber and vilify Trump supporters just as it's easy to live in red states and disparage liberals," LeGate told Business Insider.

    It's easy to live in Silicon Valley's echo chamber and vilify Trump supporters just as it's easy to live in red states and disparage liberals.

    "Peter has always been a contrarian, vocal about his views no matter how popular or unpopular they may be. Who he supports politically doesn’t change the fact that there's currently over $1 trillion in student loan debt in the US and growing at a rate of nearly $3,000 per second, nor does it discredit the significant resources he donates to philanthropic causes, of which, the Thiel fellowship is only one," LeGate said in an email.

    "I personally don't agree with all his views, but I believe it's disparaging to half the country to suggest that supporting a major-party candidate in the US could in some way tarnish the prestige of the fellowship or Peter's other philanthropic work."

    His philanthropy, though, may be shielded from Silicon Valley's spears of disgust. While some venture capitalists have already sworn off working with Thiel or Y Combinator, at which he is an adviser, Tomer said he would have applied for the fellowship even knowing of Thiel's support of Trump today.

    "Again, Peter Thiel's support and funding of the Gawker lawsuit would have kept my application to the fellowship undeterred," Tomer said. "There are many people working behind the fellowship program, and it will be absurd of me to discredit their efforts and hard work because of the actions of Peter Thiel."

    SEE ALSO: Peter Thiel: I'm voting for Trump because politicians are 'just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic,' and what he espouses 'isn't going away'

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Watch Peter Thiel tell the RNC audience that he's proud to be gay and Republican

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    cat leblanc headshot

    I love working for myself, but it did bring up a number of surprising obstacles when I started.

    In my first month of working for myself as a business coach in 2013, I earned $297. It was the sweetest and most terrifying $297 I’d ever earned, but as you can imagine, it didn’t go far.

    Once I learned how to pitch my services effectively and really own my expertise, my income rose dramatically. My highest month was $24,000, in in March 2016.

    Here’s what I wish I’d known before going into business for myself and how I overcame these challenges.

    I needed to become my own boss

    When you work for yourself, it’s not that you don’t have a boss. You need to take over that role.

    When I first quit work I was literally exhausted, as I had been working 80-hour weeks. I would have a lazy start to the morning and be at my desk by about 11 a.m.

    I realized after a few months this wasn’t going to cut it. In short, I had to learn to manage myself.

    Many assume that given the freedom to make all the decisions about their own work that they’ll excel, but from my personal experience and my experience with clients I have found that self-management really is a learned skill.

    Here’s how I manage myself:

    1. I set myself a 90-day goal and allow myself three to five strategies that I follow to hit that goal to minimize distractions.
    2. I plan out my week on Monday, referring back to my 90-day goal, and map out what I want to cover each day, taking into account any meetings or personal commitments.
    3. Each morning I create a daily task list and I attack it in the order of least exciting first. This means I get the most challenging tasks done early and nothing ends up constantly getting moved to the next day.
    4. When I’ve done my list, I get the rest of the day off.

    The key here is being a good boss to yourself, and to get into a routine that works for you while allowing you to also take advantage of the freedom that comes with being a business owner.

    Being at home can be isolating

    cat leblanc casualEven if you hate your job now, you might be surprised by how much you miss the office camaraderie once you leave.

    Not having to deal with office politics is liberating, but there may also be no one to go for a coffee break with if you need a quick change of scene.

    I combat this by working with an accountability buddy, who I speak to daily about what’s happening in my business.

    Having this arrangement allows us to bounce ideas off each other, strategize and work out issues, and get the social contact that is missing once you leave the office.

    I also regularly meet up with other business owners in real life and over Skype. This is great for making connections and opening business opportunities as well as creating my own work social scene.

    If you really can’t work at home, many entrepreneurs like to work in cafes or co-working spaces or take regular work ‘retreats’ with other business owners.

    I needed to learn how to manage the financial ups and downs

    The major financial difference between working for yourself and a company is the variation in your earnings on a month-to-month basis.

    It takes practice and discipline to get used to this financial reality and to build in mechanisms to smooth out your cash flow.

    I encourage a portion of my clients to take payment plans — which mean that you guarantee yourself income over a longer period from each client — and I have offers at different price points to increase my customer base.

    Having a range of price points means that you can get more people buying from you, which increases your revenue, and you create a pool of people who you can potentially move up the value chain to a higher-priced offer.

    Once you have been in business a while, your cash flow tends to stabilize, but it is very important to watch this very closely at the start.

    Ultimately, working for myself has been the best decision I’ve ever made. Having a realistic idea of what lies ahead of you will help you prepare for the transition.

    If you’re thinking you’d like your own business, my advice would be to start exploring and validating business ideas. You can use my free Business Idea Starter Kit to get started.

    Cat LeBlanc helps future online business owners find the right business idea, get paying clients quickly, and build a business foundation that scales. Follow her on Twitter: @catjleblanc.

    SEE ALSO: I built an online business that earns up to $24,000 a month — here's the best advice I can give you

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Screen Shot 2016 07 12 at 9.59.26 AM

    Amy Truong, 30, is many things.

    She's a traveler, based in Hawaii a few months out of the year but steadily making her way across the globe. She's a blogger, sharing stories, photos, musings, and helpful hints on her website, Generic Dreams. And she's an entrepreneur who founded her own travel agency called Up and Explore while continuing to work remotely in software testing as a "digital nomad."

    One thing she is not, though, is timid. She's up for anything on her trips, whether it's scaling mountains via closed-off hikes or bribing guards to explore abandoned buildings.

    "The thing about traveling," she told INSIDER, "is that you don't want to say no to what could be a great adventure."

    SEE ALSO: Kristin Addis quit her job to travel the world solo

    Amy Truong got the travel bug on vacation time from her corporate job in tech and hasn’t looked back since.

    “I figured there's got to be a way to make this a lifestyle ... to do it more and make it a part of my life, not just a few weeks out of the year,” she told INSIDER.

    So she found a job where she could work remotely as a “digital nomad” and began traveling the world, blogging about her adventures on her site, Generic Dreams.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    It seems to me that people could save a lot of time, aggravation, and money (and also limit risk) if they knew exactly how millionaires made their money.

    In my Rich Habits Study, I interviewed 233 wealthy individuals (177 of whom were self-made millionaires) with at least $160,000 in annual gross income and $3.2 million in net assets.

    So, what professions, industries, or businesses should people focus their energy on if they want to become rich?

    Work for a big company

    Twenty-three percent of the millionaires in my study were senior executives at the companies they worked for. When I say big company, I mean multinational — preferably one that is publicly owned.

    The beauty of working for a big, publicly owned company is that you don't have to necessarily be a senior executive to become rich. If the company offers qualified stock options or stock grants, or has an employee stock ownership program, you can buy your company's stock at a discount. These small discounts are not available to the general public.

    Even better, big companies often make matching contributions of their stock into the company retirement plan. So, if you purchase company stock through a 401(k) plan, it will match your contribution, increasing the amount of stock you own.

    Two of the millionaires in my study were low-level employees who kept buying company stock over 35 years. They were lucky, however, in that their company's stock rose significantly during those 35 years. As I've said many times, becoming wealthy requires luck.

    Become an expert

    Twenty-seven percent of the self-made millionaires in my study were professionals. Did your mother tell you as a child that she wanted you to become a doctor? Well, she had the right instinct.

    Fifty-six percent of professional self-made millionaires in my study were doctors. Surgeons and scientists earned the most money and were the wealthiest, according to my data. Next up were lawyers, then engineers, then financial planners. One CPA made the list.

    Start a business

    Sixty-one percent of all of the self-made millionaires in my study were small-business owners. Of this, 22% were professionals. So, if I were to carve out the professionals, 39% of the small business owners were non-professionals. What type of businesses were these non-professional businesses owners engaged in?

    • 19% commercial and residential real estate – This category includes rental properties, developed property, and long-term property held for appreciation and eventually sold.
    • 7% distributors – These are typically distributors who sell products for big manufacturers. They control a regional area, giving them a monopoly on the sale of that manufacturer's products.
    • 5% new-car dealers – New-car dealers own a franchise that allows them to sell cars for auto manufacturers in a particular region. The set-up is similar to the distributor arrangements.
    • 4% service and installation – This includes business who sell HVAC systems, pools and pool supplies, and various high-end products that require annual maintenance.
    • 3% manufacturers – This category includes niche equipment manufacturers and re-manufacturers (refurbishing old equipment).
    • 1% other – This category includes small businesses within some odd niche.

    Sell something

    Eleven percent sold something either for a big company or through their small business. They made their money from product commissions, primarily.

    Thomas Corley is the author of "Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals," and "Rich Kids: How To Raise Our Kids To Be Happy And Successful In Life."

    SEE ALSO: 5 years of studying rich people taught me they have a set of unwavering beliefs that the rest of us don't

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    mike maples 2Mike Maples is managing partner at Floodgate.

    Most parents wonder, “What should I tell my kids about this election?”

    My situation is the opposite.

    My Floodgate colleague Ann Miura-Ko would agree that I tend to be the emotional person who can be driven to tears while she will often say, “Get a hold of yourself, dude.”

    But yesterday I got a text from Ann that said, “Your daughter Sydney is an incredible writer. I hope you saw her Facebook post. It was so nuanced and mature. Nearly brought me to tears. She is such a beacon of hope.”

    Sydney is my 21-year-old daughter.

    I hadn’t seen her post yet, but when I read her words, I understood why Ann was moved.

    They were so thoughtful compared to what I was seeing in social media from some of the most prominent “leaders” in Silicon Valley as well as some of the gloating Trump supporters.

    I hope folks will indulge me by letting me include her post below.

    She has done the best job I have seen of capturing what I cannot place in words because I lack her writing skills. I wish that many of my Blue State and Red State friends in my current generation could be half as constructive.

    I never thought I would find myself thinking, “Wow…we are going to be fine someday, not because of our current leaders or how we as parents help our children get through this, but because the future leaders on the next-generation horizon will be way better than us.”

    Before I move on to Sydney’s thoughts, I would like to offer one more thought of my own.

    So many parents often ask, “Will our kids be better off than we were?”

    But the more important question — the one we should ask more often — is whether our kids will be better people.

    In the meantime, thanks Sydney Maples for reminding me and others that some people have the courage, honesty, and compassion to be “purple” in a sea of angry Reds and Blues.

    The rest of what follows are her words unedited:


    Purple is a royal color, a mixture of fire and calm. It is my perpetual flavor-of-the-week. I’ve spent around half of my time in the red state of Texas, and the remaining half in the blue state of California. It may seem paradoxical, but I have learned that one ideology does not thrive without the other.

    I have also learned that metaphors often reflect deeper insights into collective beliefs. For example, we could probably come to similar conclusions about what dichotomies surround the color ‘red’ — it is fiery, it is hot, it is not compliant. It is not bad, but can be. It feels right, though it can be wrong (and often is). It is effective. I use meditative compliance and calm to face schoolwork and other necessities; I save my fire for the bigger issues at hand. I know all too well which one is more effective when it comes down to the wire.

    Like most of America, I voted for Clinton: not because I burned for her, but because she was the “lesser of two evils”. That was not fire, that was complacency. When your opponent feeds the fire of his individuals, and your methodology is compliance and resolve, you will not win, no matter how good your intentions. We saw this with the hastened resign of Jeb Bush. We saw this with the rise of Obama. And, today, we saw this with the rise of Trump. The underrepresented who were fueled by the visions of change promised by Obama were simply not as invested in rolling out the Clinton vote. The polls that predicted the not-so-inevitable win for Clinton surely did much to inspire complacency among the educated upper-class whom they reassured. Meanwhile, there sat an honest, well-intentioned man who has spent his life’s work in the oil company, who burned as he watched the blue world overrun with the Prius and the Tesla. Trump encouraged that flame to burn. In retrospect, it seems silly to be shocked at the outcome.

    There is a lot of justified fear, sadness, and anger right now. But it feels more justified when we reduce individuals into binary figures, leaving no room for complex sentiment. Trump did this when he spoke of Mexicans as “rapists”. Clinton did this when she spoke of Trump supporters as either helpless or belonging in a “basket of deplorables”. Why do we sympathize with such rhetoric?

    Ideology is the ultimate feel-good lie; it gives us false certainty into our identities.

    Ultimately, reductionism gives us a feeling of security. We only feel secure in acting if we can trust the cause without question; otherwise, we deliberate, intellectualize, and complexify. We analyze multiple perspectives, attempting to shift them into something coherent and worthy of acting upon. It feels so uncomfortable to be undecided, just as it feels good to know that we are making the right decision. Ideology is the ultimate feel-good lie; it gives us false certainty into our identities, which influence our actions. Trump bothered us, even angered us, but we did not expect him to win; we instead channeled our anger into social media posts, not Clinton votes. We were fulfilling our self-appointed role as ‘helpful intellectuals’. When you can afford to sit and meander, it is easier to blame society, analyze its content, poke holes in its faults, and call it a day. Meanwhile, a fire burns in rural areas nationwide, where there are far fewer variables to work with. Reductionism succeeds.

    Now that the election is over, we begin our own process of reductionism. We see the outcome as bad. We blame the Republican Party. We blame the country, the white male, even ourselves. This pity party only serves to mimic and fuel the very sentiments that got us fired up in the first place — except worse, because they are no longer effective after the election is over. We are hilariously, notoriously bad at knowing when to use our fire. We use it to complain about the aftermath, about ourselves, about each other. We get angry for two seconds before we resort back to our comfortable seat of peace, smug in our ability to see both sides of every issue and then do nothing about it until it’s over.

    Here’s something different to get fired up about: our vision of progress is not universal, or even nationwide. For some, it may even spell poverty. Trump recognized this, and he made it explicit. He found worried people and promised protection. Worry turns to anger and rebellion once it feels safe (just look at your Facebook feed). Trump seems powerful because he takes action and does not question his own decisions. We complain about this, and perhaps rightfully so; yet are our methods any more effective?

    Let’s solve our half of the problem by taking action as a precautionary measure before-the-fact, not in response to events in our environment. Learn to take action when the path isn’t clear, when there is no binary. With a breadth of experience and an absence of urgency comes a great depth of insight, and insight is ultimately certainty. There is a difference between the man who acts because he wants to and the man who acts because he needs to: one is a lot more desperate, impulsive, and uninclined towards complexity of thought. If you come in with good intentions and a desire to promote positive change, taking action will lead to positive net results, even when the path is not clear.

    Furthermore, let’s aim to expand the binary, to blend our blues and reds; to learn to continue listening when we disagree, to seek the complexity and intention in the views and actions of others.

    And let us not grow further resigned to the feel-good solidarity of collective mourning, just as we’ve grown complacent with the host of other issues that have made headlines over the years. What causes the urge to cry? Again, thinking of events in terms of binaries — a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’. It certainly feels good to cry at evil prevailing over good, but does the ‘other side’ feel this way? It feels good to assume that Clinton’s loss was strictly due to her gender, but a strong woman doesn’t need a female President in order to have self-respect and self-power. It feels good to hate the people that made us feel this way; I heard that this same formula was very successful at Trump rallies. Let’s not forget that the other half of the country would have been in our shoes had the decision been flipped. Both sides saw their own candidate as a martyr for their beliefs.

    Use your fire to spread, not burn

    Just as feminism functions best with the support of men, our vision of government functions best with support from both the left and the right. Use your fire to spread, not to burn. Use your peace to rest, reflect, and listen. Learn to act out of necessity, not out of response. Learn to reflect on the actions of others without accusation. In the end, the results of this election did not signal an inevitable ‘good’ or ‘bad’ outcome, but a case study of the wildly interesting aspects of what it means to be connected to each other. Let’s make a new mess now.

    Sydney Maples is a Symbolic Systems major at Stanford. 

    SEE ALSO: Donald Trump is the most powerful man in the world — here are 2 scenarios for how that plays out

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    tiger growl

    Entrepreneurs are psychologically unique. In a world where up to 90% of startups fail, the most enduring visionaries will push through, energized by the idea of experiencing freedom and success alongside the 10% who beat the odds.

    They're resilient. They're adaptable. They're extreme risk-takers. The most successful entrepreneurs tend to run toward uncertainty and threat instead of running away. Why?

    The reason, at least according to psychologists, is that successful entrepreneurs tend to have one mindset about fear that the rest of us simply don't share, at least not to the same extent: If harnessed in the right ways, understanding our fears and anxieties can lead us tobreakthroughself-discoveries, innovation, and creativity. For exceptional entrepreneurs, noticing fear is a competitive advantage; it's an emotion that we dive into with curiosity, passion, and a hunger for exponential growth.

    The good news is, these critical mindsets around fear can be learned.

    The 3 infrastructure mistakes your company must not make

    Serial entrepreneur and executive coach Justin Milano has experienced success and failure — but it's the failure that changed his life. "I was building a company to solve one of the greatest environmental challenges we face today: food waste," he says.

    Then, his greatest fear became a reality. The company failed, and in the soul-searching that followed, he saw his motivations in a truer light. "I realized there was an unconscious part of me looking to do something grandiose because I didn't fully value and love myself. I was trying to prove my self worth." He wasn't afraid of his business failing, he was afraid of feeling like a failure. There's a big difference between the two, but they're often strongly related.

    At least, that's what Milano learned after a satisfying bit of symmetry. What seemed like his greatest failure led to his greatest success: co-founding Good Startups, an executive coaching company for startups that focuses on cutting-edge leadership psychology, neuroscience, and emotional intelligence.

    What he had started to understand intuitively, his eventual cofounder, Dr. Daniel Cordaro, Director of Wellbeing at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, had already been studying across cultures for nearly a decade. In 2015, they teamed up to use their mix of scientific expertise and on-the-ground startup experience to help founders and their teams identify and manage their fears and anxieties, and more importantly, understand the deeper psychology blocking them from self mastery and sustainable high performance.

    There are a lot of entrepreneurs out there unconsciously trying to prove their self-worth through their companies.

    In this exclusive interview, Milano and Cordaro break down a 4-step process to transforming your fear and anxiety into a competitive advantage. You will learn:

    firstround graph

    When you practice and master these tools, the result is better decision-making, expanded performance and energy, more inspirational leadership, and a doorway to self-mastery. It's scientifically evidenced.

    "The best entrepreneurs of our time experience fear," says Milano. "It's their relationship with fear that differentiates them."

    Step 1: Understand your relationship to fear

    First things first: to transform your relationship to fear and anxiety, you need to define what you're dealing with. "Fear is a raw emotion that happens instantly to ensure our survival and safety, like getting out of the way of a moving car," says Cordaro. "With anxiety, we are anticipating future threats based on our imagination, or trying to avoid painful experiences from the past, again based on mental projections. Fear typically lasts seconds, and anxiety is often chronic and can last for days or even months."

    Milano offered one of his favorite quotes from Mark Twain to demonstrate anxiety in action: "I'm an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened."

    As entrepreneurs, every day we are faced with uncertainty and risk, and when things are unknown, it's natural to have anxiety. Some common anxiety thoughts include: "What happens if we run out of money?""What if this product launch fails, will I get fired by the board?" In Milano's experience, even his clients that are thriving at the highest level experience chronic anxiety thoughts like "Where is the next big win going to come from," or "How do I continue justifying this massive valuation?"

    The key point is that 99% of the time when people say they are experiencing fear, they are actually experiencing anxiety around events that may never happen. When this anxiety is playing like a broken record in our subconscious mind throughout the day, we are hanging out in our limbic brain, specifically the amygdala, which is responsible for our reactions to threat. When we are seeing the world through the lens of threat, we experience tunnel vision and limited possibilities.

    When we only see limited possibilities, "this dramatically impairs our decision-making ability, which as an entrepreneur, is one of our most important leadership assets," said Cordaro. "Whether we like to admit it or not, every decision we make goes through an emotion filter first, and fear is one of the most powerful emotion filters. Think of it this way: Are your decisions different from a place of joy and happiness versus sadness and despair? Most often yes, so it's important to recognize that emotional intelligence is an essential skill set for entrepreneurial leaders."

    Step 2: Uncovering the Sources of our Anxiety

    Once you recognize that what you are experiencing is most likely anxiety, the question becomes how do you release the grip of anxiety so you can operate with expanded awareness and creativity?

    Milano offers that the first step toward uncovering the source of your anxiety is to pay attention to your attachments to certain outcomes and identities. "Anxiety is the fear of more fear. It's fueled by attachment. It is rooted in the need to control the things around us to keep our reality known and safe." Milano suggests that founders suffering from anxiety walk themselves through these questions:

    first round chart 02

    Consider this example: A founder tells her investors that the company will be cash positive in six months. Then inevitable obstacles set in, and it becomes clear that goal is unattainable. It would be easy to descend into a morass of anxiety and what-ifs: Will the board let me go? Will the team start questioning my leadership?

    A leader who has practiced uncovering their attachments, on the other hand, can see things in a more productive way. "The healthy thing to do is acknowledge the attachment to a certain outcome, soften your grip on it, and use your creativity to design a new path based on reality," says Milano. "You get to what's really true and face what's actually happening. Then you can say to your team, from a place of integrity and clear-headedness, 'Looks like it won't be six months. Looks more like 12 months. Now that we know that, here's what we're doing about it.'"

    Attachment to identities can be harder to relinquish, but it's critical to consider. Many founders, whether through their own strategy or the attention of the press, assume the mantle of "the next big thing." Suddenly, they're not just building a product and running a company, they're living up to very public expectations. "Now if your product launch isn't working very well, it starts to threaten that identity. Not only is your product broken, but you're a fraud, a common human fear.

    That's one of entrepreneurs' biggest fears: I went out there, I sold all these friends and investors on the next big thing, and it didn't work. I'm a fraud.

    "What this speaks to is the power of humility," says Milano. The most inspirational leaders know that it's not about them. They acknowledge challenges and respect the competition, and they are prepared for ups and downs. And importantly, they communicate this to their team and investors. "They say, 'This isn't about me. This is about all of us collectively working together to achieve this beautiful mission. We're going to face some bumps along the way, and what's important is we navigate them together, as a team and a board.'

    Cordaro adds, "It's important to know that it's ok to have certain identities, it's totally natural and part of being human. Just know that all these identities come with hidden expectations that can add up quickly. It's much more pleasant to make decisions as a leader from a place of what's best for the company and society, as opposed to maintaining a personal identity."

    Once Milano and Cordaro support their clients in identifying their unconscious attachments and identities, they go a few layers deeper into the three main sources of fear, which they call "the three cultures of fear."

    first round 03

    The Culture of Scarcity is familiar to most entrepreneurs who are often scraping by financially or working 16 hours per day to achieve the next big thing. In relation to time scarcity, Cordaro says, "What's interesting is that Silicon Valley is one of the most abundant places on the planet in regards to financial resources, yet when it comes to time, it is one of the most impoverished places on the planet."

    Milano and Cordaro offer that the Culture of Scarcity is a myth, deeply rooted in unconscious societal programming that can be transformed with awareness and new habits. This practice is important according to Cordaro because "when scarcity dominates, selfishness, hypercompetition, and creative stagnancy do too. When abundance dominates, generosity, cooperation, and rapid transformation are there too."

    When working with clients, Milano and Cordaro take people deep into their individual scarcity programming to write new, more empowering stories for their lives.

    Reject the culture of aversion

    Cordaro notes that the goal should never be to eliminate fear, but rather to acknowledge and accept it. He sees the same pattern unfold with all the entrepreneurs he coaches: First comes a great idea, and the drive to make it a reality. "It's very exciting and really fun. It's very desire and creativity-driven." Then they start actually building a company, and things get in the way — and anxiety sets in. "Now there are things that are getting in the way of my vision; there are things that are coming up against these visions I have for how I want the world to be. Fear is a natural part of this process."

    Adopt this mindset, and fear stops looking like a threat; it's merely part of the package.

    In Milano and Cordaro's experience, the following shift in mindset can have a profound influence on founders. When a product fails, when the new app gets two stars in the App Store, when funding isn't coming through, successful founders don't get caught up thinking, "This is the wrong experience. This isn't the way it's supposed to be." Instead, they accept those obstacles as part of their experience — the only one they can and should be having. They use the experience as a growth opportunity to become better, stronger, and more inspirational leaders.

    "When your product isn't working, you need that feedback in order to actually create a product that people do want," says Milano. "Every time you're experiencing fear and anxiety, there's information and data that wants to be uncovered."

    Anxiety lets you know when you need to kick into gear. The problem, Milano notes, is when you simply stew in anxiety all day, every day. These emotions will not serve you well if they become chronic. And where there is chronic anxiety, there is almost always avoidance or aversion.

    That app with the two-star rating? Customers don't like it — it needs to change. "The person with a healthy relationship with fear can say, 'This is what's happening. I'm going to accept that, embrace that, and receive the information. Now what can I do creatively to solve this?'" says Milano. Leaders with an unhealthy relationship to fear, on the other hand, often lose the opportunity to course-correct. Stuck on how things "should" go, they miss the valuable signal that it's time to pivot.

    Moreover, avoiding feelings of fear only prolongs them. "All emotions are here to provide us with information about the world around us. That's why we've evolved to feel them. Emotions are data; they've helped us survive for tens of thousands of generations. If we're not listening to an emotion, if we're not receiving that data fully, it's going to keep coming," says Cordaro. When you allow yourself to fully feel and accept an emotion, it dissipates very quickly, often in as little as 30 to 90 seconds.

    Seen that way, accepting fear isn't just a nice idea — it's a serious competitive advantage. That broken product or low-rated app isn't going to fix itself. But you can effectively halve all of your problems by listening to your fear and letting it go. Cordaro asks: "As an entrepreneur, do you want to double every single problem that you have, or do you just want to deal with the things that actually need to be worked on?"

    Be an example for your team: Entrepreneurship is a roller coaster. Let's accept that and fix what we can. There will be no freaking out.

    Develop an unshakeable sense of self worth

    The final culture of fear is the Culture of Unworthiness. "This one goes beyond entrepreneurship, it is an epidemic of the human species," says Milano. The belief system is that "I'm not enough just the way I am, I need to achieve something extraordinary to generate fulfillment." This is the culture that had hit Milano the hardest so many years ago.

    Often when Milano asks his clients if they are looking to prove something to themselves, their family, or society by building their company, the answer is a quick, reactive 'no.' "Most people are not consciously aware of how powerful the Culture of Unworthiness is until they make a major mistake or 'fail.' I certainly wasn't aware of it."

    Milano offers that one of the quickest ways to determine if you have some work to do around your own sense of worthiness is to ask yourself the question "If my company completely fails and I fall flat on my face, will I still love and accept myself unconditionally." When Cordaro and Milano ask this question in their virtual group coaching sessions you can often see people stop breathing even through the video conferencing technology. "It's a powerful and shaking experience," Milano says.

    We live in an entrepreneurial culture that "glorifies entrepreneurs as modern gods," says Cordaro. "We worship those who achieve impossible tasks and create things that few have only dreamed of, kind of like what Elon Musk is doing with electric vehicles and clean energy. These are extraordinary people, for sure, but when we pin all of our self-worth on becoming exactly like them, however, we're asking for trouble."

    "When we are faced with the loss of our dreams and ideals, a natural response is a feeling of low self worth," says Milano. For him, this was the greatest gift of his food waste startup failure.

    "Through that experience I was forced to marinate in my feelings of failure and low self worth, and learn the vitally important lesson that no success and achievement will ever fill the gap of self worth within," he says. "No expensive houses, shiny cars, or flashy press headlines will ever provide true fulfillment. I am now experiencing what it feels like to be of service and create for the sheer joy of it, without the requirement for my company to validate my self worth. In my opinion, this is one of the most important skill sets an entrepreneur can cultivate."

    Through that experience, Milano now leads his clients into their unique personal experiences that are the sources of their Culture of Unworthiness. "Maybe your parents didn't tell you that you were good enough, and you're trying to prove that you're worthy," he says. Other times, the sabotaging hang-ups are professional in nature — the traumatic experience of having been fired as CEO is a prime example, and now you want to prove you can be CEO."

    In Cordaro's experience as a psychologist, learning to conduct this sort of self-enquiry can be transformative for founders. "One of the most powerful things that I've seen people do is simply develop a curiosity about who they are and why they behave the way that they do," he says. "It's that kind of attitude that allows people to be the most impactful they can possibly be in society."

    Step 3: Move from fear to desire

    Once you do the courageous work to defuse your unique sources of anxiety, you are then free to transform your anxiety into something far more useful, like creativity and innovation. Cordaro shows us how to do this through cutting-edge neuroscience.

    "If you remember one thing from this article, remember this: Every fear is mirrored by a desire," says Cordaro. "They are two sides of the same coin."

    Terrified of public speaking? That's because you desire to share a compelling, well-articulated message. Worried you won't get funding? That's your strong desire to raise money and build a successful business. Afraid of failure? What's underneath that is your desire to have a positive impact on humanity.

    first round 04

    This isn't just a hunch; it's actually deeply rooted in neuroscience. Most of us are at least vaguely aware of the amygdala, that part of the brain, right behind the temple, that perceives threats — the "fight or flight" portion of the brain. When the amygdala perceives a threat, one of its jobs is to stop sending information to the cortex, where we engage in higher level thinking and rational decision-making.

    What most people don't know is that right next door to the amygdala is the nucleus accumbens, which is responsible for desire and all things that make us crave feeling good. "Scientists have tried to find where the nucleus accumbens stops and the amygdala begins, and they can't find it. These portions of the brain are intrinsically involved with each other. When the amygdala fires, the nucleus accumbens is firing as well," says Cordaro.

    Entrepreneurs are typically driven by massive desires — to solve big problems and change the world. It's natural, then, that they experience more fear than the average person, too. "But when you're aware of what's happening in your brain, you can reliably shift from your fear-based limbic brain, which is where the amygdala is, into the neocortex, which manages higher-level functions like judgment, decision-making, and creativity."

    A healthy relationship with fear is the doorway to the part of your brain that optimizes judgment, decision-making, and creativity.

    Milano and Cordaro developed a five-question exercise to help their clients understand what their anxiety is telling them in the moment, and shift toward consciously pursuing their creative desires. Why is this process important? Very simply, it gets your brain unstuck from fear-based, animalistic reactions and allows you to rapidly shift into creative problem-solving mode.

    first round 05

    Let's put this system to the test by bringing in a real life example of the number one most feared concept across all of humanity (it even beats death) — public speaking. In a few months, you're going to give a high-profile talk regarding your company's vision on stage in front of 2,500 thought leaders and influencers. Anyone would feel some level of anxiety, especially for those of us who aren't public figures for a living.

    What's the fear or anxiety? This should be an easy one, but this is where awareness begins. Failure. Bombing the talk. Being the subject of ridicule and scorn, or even worse, silence, from this massive audience. Missing an extraordinary opportunity to inspire major influencers in your space.

    Where do you feel it in your body? Milano and Cordaro recommend taking time to get out of our heads and into our bodies. "When it comes to anxiety, living in your mind only leads to rumination and getting even more stuck in our fear stories," says Milano. Take a moment to notice where the fear and anxiety sensations live in your feet, legs, torso, arms, and face. Cordaro says that for him, anxiety feels like "my heart is beating faster, palms are sweating, and I have a slight tightness in my chest and throat. When I feel that, I know that anxiety data is incoming." Milano most often notices fear and anxiety in his belly, and "by simply locating the sensation of anxiety in my body, and taking a deep breath into it, I move into a place of presence."

    What is the desire being mirrored?"This is your big opportunity to flip the coin to the other side," says Cordaro. It turns out that your anxiety stories aren't rooted in what can go wrong, but rather what you want to go right. For the talk, you want to be a source of inspiration and an amazing representative for your company. You want to deliver a clear message and be heard. You want to activate like-minded people and invite them to join your mission. "Do you feel the shift in how you feel when you move out of fear and into your desires?" asks Milano. "It's a game changer, because you've just opened up your brain to higher levels of thinking."

    Make the choice. Fear feels like we're being backed into a corner, like we can't escape, but it turns out that we're simply denying ourselves a critical freedom: the choice to tackle this challenge and act on our desire. Milano and Cordaro teach that by asking ourselves "Do I choose to get creative and make this desire a reality?" we open up the possibility of releasing our fears completely. "Fear shows up when we experience the illusion of being out of control, and desire is exactly the opposite — it's the illusion of being in control," says Cordaro. "Making this choice calms the mind and allows us to move forward with clarity and determination. In the end, we want to find the balance between desire and fear, and release our attachment to both. It's walking the edge of the coin, instead of getting stuck on one side."

    The principles of quantum team management

    Get creative."Now that you've started to release the grip of fear and anxiety," says Milano, "it's time to use the power of your cortex to start coming up with innovative solutions to act on what you really want." You want to be an inspiration and a great representative of your company? Learn the dynamics of great storytelling by watching TED talks, or hire a writer to help you craft the perfect message. You want to deliver a clear message and be heard?

    Take some public speaking lessons and practice that talk in front of your team (and strangers) as a top priority. You want to activate like-minded people and invite them to join your mission? Have your team work on getting intel on all of the major attendees, and create a networking strategy that sets you up for success before you even get on stage. "The list goes on, and that's the point. You've opened yourself up to possibilities, and freed yourself from the rigidity of fight-or-flight mode."

    first round 06

    Step 4: Practice fear-melters

    So you've gone through the process of understanding fear, uprooted your cultures of fear, and transformed your fears into desires. But how do we deal with in-the-moment spontaneous feelings of fear that may arise, let's say, in the middle of your talk when someone asks a piercing and unexpected question? In Milano's experience, there are several common physical experiences that are dead giveaways you're having a fear reaction: sensations in the belly, sweaty palms, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and even accelerated speech.

    Become adept at recognizing these physical manifestations, and you can also develop the skills to overcome fear as it strikes. Whether you're standing at a podium or opening an investor email that's unlikely to contain good news, a few simple actions can jog you out of paralysis and into presence. Milano and Cordaro offer three examples here.

    Breathe: You're about to get on stage for your talk, and you feel like you might hyperventilate and forget everything you wanted to say. It's time to breathe. Get comfortable and close your eyes. Feel yourself breathe cool air in through your nose and exhale warm air through your mouth. Repeat this for a few breaths, then open your eyes and notice the space around you.

    Move: You make it on stage and are about to begin, when you feel a crippling paralysis. Your knees are frozen, and you have that deer-in-the-headlights look on your face. It's time to move. When your body freezes in fear, by gently wiggling, shaking, or bouncing you can stop that fear in its tracks. If you are feeling the adrenaline rush of a "fight or flight" response, plant your feet firmly on the ground to experience that sensation of rootedness, like a redwood tree. These simple body movements are fear "pattern interrupters" developed by Milano's friend Dr. Kathlyn Hendricks, who is an expert on Body Intelligence.

    Match: Match the experience, that is. "There is a great quote by Fritz Perls, who said, 'Fear is excitement without the breath.' When you are feeling fear, you are often excited," says Milano. So lean into that excitement and match it with your words. When you're speaking, for example, start by telling your audience, "I'm excited to be here."

    Research shows that the second you match your experience by saying 'I'm excited,' your nervous system relaxes.

    Just as founders need to recognize fear in order to move past it, they also need to recognize creative energy so they can welcome it with open arms. Here, too, the body offers the most reliable indicators: "You feel spacious, balanced breathing. Your gut relaxes, and your adrenals and heart chill out. You begin having fun, seeing more possibilities, generating a sense of trust, and the world looks friendly. You make clear decisions from a place of balance," says Milano.

    If you experience anxiety daily — if you move through every day thinking, "I'm overwhelmed," for example — odds are good that you're not letting yourself feel anxiety fully and understand why it's there. That's when taking the time to get present is the most powerful tool in a founder's arsenal. Stop. Walk through the "fear melters." Establish a meditation practice. "Mindfulness is all about being aware of what's going on so you're not at the mercy of it."

    The goal of meditation is not, as many people assume, to be more calm and peaceful (although those are certainly positive side effects that you can expect from a regular practice); it's to see one's experiences through a different lens.

    One of the main reasons we engage in mindfulness practices is to sharpen our attention muscle so that when these feelings of fear and anxiety come on, we can catch them at a much earlier stage and simply let them go.

    Then, in turn, you can choose how you will respond, prioritizing the actions that will most benefit your unique offering to the world.

    Sure, fear and anxiety will eventually make themselves known without help from mindfulness, but left unchecked, they'll do it by landing founders in a state of total burnout. "At the end of the day, when it's four in the morning and you haven't gone to the bathroom or eaten all day, that's when you'll notice that you need to do something to improve your well-being," says Cordaro.

    That kind of passive anxiety management isn't just personally taxing; it drains your company's most important resources, too. "It's so much easier to live each day kind of like a judo master, working through the energy of your emotions, than to have to take a month off to recuperate, come back full steam, and then just do it all over again. Most of us can't afford to do that, and we shouldn't have to."

    The reality of emotional intelligence, is that it needs to be developed. As with any new skill, it takes practice; new muscles must be flexed. But as you do that, you will begin to find your relationship to your work, and your colleagues, meaningfully changed. Herein lies the competitive advantage of fear, understanding it, and learning how to transform its energy into massive creative potential.

    "You can change your neuroplasticity. You can go from being a completely hyper, worried, caffeinated, crazy entrepreneur —because I was—and come to a place with more balance," says Milano. "As you start to apply these practices and tools, and you rewire your brain, you'll start to have a different experience in this world. One of the biggest payoffs to doing that is that the world no longer looks unfriendly. It has just as much potential as you do."

    SEE ALSO: I purposely stranded myself in a foreign country to get out of my comfort zone — here's what I learned

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    Prelude Fertility CEO Martin Varsavsky shares his advice on startng a business, saying people who start companies are "people who just can't live without starting companies."

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    Christian Siriano, head designer and fashion founder, provides some simple but effective advice for young entrepreneurs.

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    Howard Schultz Starbucks

    Starbucks announced Thursday that its CEO Howard Schultz is stepping down next year. Schultz will be appointed executive chairman and and Kevin Johnson, the company's current president and COO, will assume the CEO position April 3.

    Schultz got into the coffee business 30 years ago with one goal in mind: to enhance the personal relationship between people and their coffee.

    He's now responsible for Starbucks, one of the world's most beloved brands and the largest coffee chain on the planet, with a market capitalization of $84 billion as of December. Last year, Starbucks' profits reached $2.8 billion on revenues of $19 billion, both record highs.

    But Schultz hasn't been singularly focused on the traditional bottom line. He's a dynamic model of a progressive CEO who's as animated by social issues and employee welfare as he is profit margins. In fact, in a letter to employees in October, Schultz announced wage raises ranging from 5% to 15% for all US employees. The wage hike reinforces Schultz's longstanding commitment to investing in his employees' success, and it positions Starbucks as a key player in the biggest economic story in America today.

    How did Schultz, who came from a "working poor" family in the Brooklyn projects, overcome adversity and grow a quaint Seattle coffeehouse into the world's largest coffee chain and a model for conscious capitalism?

    Scroll through to learn the story behind Starbucks and the man responsible for much of its success.


    SEE ALSO: I had a $12 coffee at the fanciest Starbucks in America, and it was only OK

    Schultz was born on July 19, 1953, in Brooklyn, New York. In an interview with Bloomberg, he said that growing up in the projects — "loosely described as the other side of the tracks"— exposed him to the world's wealth disparity.


    He experienced poverty at an early age. When Schultz was seven years old, his father broke his ankle while working as a truck driver picking up and delivering diapers. At the time, his father had no health insurance or worker's compensation, and the family was left with no income.

    Source: "Pour Your Heart Into It"

    In high school, Schultz played football and earned an athletic scholarship to Northern Michigan University. But by the time he started college, he decided he wasn't going to play football after all.

    To pay for school, the communications major took out student loans and took up various jobs, including working as a bartender and even occasionally selling his blood.

    Source:"Pour Your Heart Into It"

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    bill and melinda gates“Share seamlessly, steal shamelessly.”

    Four simple words that sum up the value of TED Talks.

    We love these quick, easy-to-digest videos with just the right amount of important information to entertain and educate in just a few minutes.

    It’s free, high-quality wisdom from industry leaders — what’s not to love?

    Below are the top seven videos that every hopeful, driven, focused entrepreneur needs to watch before diving into the American Dream.

    Take notes, assess your ideas and business model, consider what your strengths and weaknesses are, then when you’re done watching and thinking — watch all of them over again.

    SEE ALSO: 10 TED Talks that will make you smarter about business

    Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action

    Simon Sinek explains what he calls "The Golden Circle," which illustrates the "why, how and what" of an organization.

    According to Sinek, it’s not the product, service, or plan that’s most important — it’s why you, as the entrepreneur, think the product, service, or plan is important. Once you can identify your true motivation (and it better go beyond just making money), you can inspire those around you — including your team and your customers.

    Once they’re on board and aligned with your why, they’ll work toward the how and what, or the processes and products, of your organization.

    If you skip the important step of clearly identifying and articulating this point, you can only hope to inspire temporarily, which doesn’t make for a great business model in the long run.

    People respond to a cause, a purpose, a passion, a mission — not a plan.

    Sarah Lewis: Embrace the near win

    Sarah Lewis distinguishes mastery from success as being able to reproduce a victory again and again.

    Mastery is a constant pursuit. It’s a race with no finish line. It’s like a mosquito bite between your shoulder blades that you can’t quite reach. It’s exhausting and elusive, but also the driving force behind competitive entrepreneurs.

    The pursuit of mastery is what drives you forward when you just barely missed out on first place, when your product is not quite right, or when you can’t seem to replicate perfection.

    Lewis describes, in those moments of “near win,” that once you accept the silver medal you can allow that near win to motivate you as you pursue your next race.

    Near wins allow us to see our future victories with a new sense of clarity and precision.

    “We thrive not when we have done it all, but when we still have more to do.” — Sarah Lewis

    Masters realize there is no end. As an entrepreneur, you’ll probably never be completely satisfied. There will always be more to improve, more to grow, more to offer.

    If you’re OK never reaching that finish line, you may be ready to begin the race.

    Seth Godin: How to get your ideas to spread

    Seth Godin is a marketing genius. He offers those rare gems of simplicity that make us all think, “Well duh! Why have I not thought of that?”

    Godin explains how incredibly underwhelmed your audience is. Inboxes are full of static and spam, and your messages are just another fish in that overpopulated sea.

    So how do you successfully reach your clients?

    You must choose the correct audience, and you must stand out. You have to say or do something “remarkable.”

    No, he means this literally: You must offer them something to remark about.

    So what about choosing the right audience? Don’t we want to reach as many people as possible? Seth challenges that presumption. He challenges us to initiate the radicals—those way to the left (including innovators and early adopters) and those way to the right (who are considered laggers).

    It’s on those two ends of the spectrum that you find your Chatty Cathys.

    It’s those talkers who will essentially act as your marketing team. They’ll be the voice for your product, spreading the word and reputation for you. With them on your side, you can win over the middle, larger moderate group.

    When you have something remarkable, tell the radicals and let them go to work spreading the word.

    Are you worth talking about? Are you worth a status update, a tweet, a mention? Is your product or service worth stopping for? Are you worth water cooler talk?

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    back of man's head

    This 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 »

    NOW WATCH: Here's why some people have a tiny hole above their ears

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    daniel dipiazza

    When I first made the leap into entrepreneurialism, I wanted it all.

    I wanted everything at once. I wanted to build my dream business overnight and have an enormous community of fans and friends and make millions of dollars creating products I loved.

    Having zero experience and a small network, those ambitions soon sputtered out. I adopted a new mindset: I figured out how to "level up."

    Doing work you're passionate about is important. But the word "passion" has become a bit played out. Everything in entrepreneurship is positioned toward making money doing what you love.

    You should work toward doing what you love. But sometimes you'll have to go through several iterations of this process, gradually "leveling up" to get closer to what you want and who you want to be.

    Level 1

    I graduated college in 2009 and had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do. I figured I had two choices:

    1. Go back to school
    2. Join the corporate rat race

    The only problem was that I didn't want to be a doctor, lawyer, or engineer. So more school didn't make sense to me. And I didn't want to do the corporate thing. Hell no.

    In fact, the very thought of working in a cubicle made me want to throw myself head first into a boiling vat of tar. Not very inspiring.

    Since I refused to take the next "logical" step, I was stuck at low-paying jobs waiting tables and answering phones. I started officially working at a chain restaurant to make ends meet, and it sucked. I wasn't happy and I wasn't making any money. I was fed up and frustrated. So I decided to take things into my own hands.

    Level 2

    I stopped waiting tables in 2012 and immediately started doing SAT test prep for Kaplan. Was test prep my #1 passion? HELL NO. But it was a level up from serving steak.

    My hourly rate was $18. I thought this was fantastic at the time. Then I found that they were charging the families I was helping over $100 per hour for me to come to the house and teach little Timmy quadratic equations. In other words, I was doing $100 worth of work, and Kaplan was taking $82 out of my pocket.

    Not cool.

    Level 3

    At that point, I realized that I had a viable skill that people had proven they would pay me for, and I decided to level up. I launched my own test prep company— effectively cutting out the middleman and reaping all the benefits.

    I learned that I didn't have to start from scratch. Rather than scouring Craigslist for clients, I cut the line and made deals with private admissions coaches who prep high school students for their college essays, interviews, and packaging themselves.

    I sold myself well and became their in-house test prep instructor. Everyone won. Instantly, I went from having no clients to a treasure trove of them overnight.

    Level 4

    From there, I decided to level up again. I got bored of test prep, but realized how much I loved business and marketing.

    I started freelancing online and got crafty about how to make money using skills I already had. Along the way, I learned how position myself in a saturated marketplace, write amazing copy, and close sales. I eventually bootstrapped a web development firm that started pulling six figures in a year.

    Game on.

    Level 5

    At that point, I realized there was something to this whole online business thing. I started devouring whatever information I could find about entrepreneurialism, startups, email marketing, copywriting, sales funnels, building an audience, and more.

    Then, I made the best decision of my life and started my blog, where I wrote about my experience as a frustrated 20-something who knew there had to be more to life than the nine-to-five. I found an audience — or rather, they found me.

    Soon after, I began working with really awesome startups like Art of Charm and Pavlok, as an employee in some cases and a consultant in others. They brought me on to develop deep marketing strategies and funnel positioning to help them separate from the pack, as well as to write copy.

    I got the inside scoop on what it takes to dominate an online business and then knew I was ready.

    Level 6

    In 2014, I leveled up and took the leap of going full time with Rich20Something. I managed it completely by myself.

    There was no turning back. I wrote and wrote and wrote and created a huge following by giving all of my content away for free. I made money by teaching young people how to start their own freelance businesses.

    Level 7

    Nowadays, I've got a full team with me, in the trenches, every day. Hustler city over here in Rich20 HQ, Santa Monica. There are three full-time employees, a few part-timers, and dozens of service providers whom I depend on every week for various tasks.

    I've made a career for myself that didn't exist, the ultimate win.

    The takeaway

    Each time I took on a new project, it got a bit closer to what my ideal vision looked like. That's leveling up.

    Even now, I know Rich20Something isn't my final stop. Each project has taught me new, valuable skills that I carry with me from one business to the next.

    You don't need to build your dream business overnight. Feel free to go through the process of "becoming" and actively try many new things. Your goal should be to find something that feels more and more like "you" every time.

    Focus on growing and constantly leveling up.

    Try not to get frustrated with this process, especially the amount of time it's taking ... because the growth you're going through is crucial.

    You probably aren't ready to run your dream business right out of the gate anyway — and that's OK. Believe me, I speak from experience. One step at a time.

    Daniel DiPiazza is the founder of Rich20Something, where he teaches young people how to start businesses that they care about and live happier lives. Grab his "Startup Series"— a free "mini-course" designed to jumpstart your productivity, help you overcome tough obstacles, and launch a project you care about quickly.

    SEE ALSO: 10 businesses you can start from a dorm room

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The best way to cook scrambled eggs — according to Anthony Bourdain

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    Conventional wisdom too often yields conventional results. These entrepreneurs succeed where others don't because they hold some unusual beliefs that create massive results for their businesses. Learn from their ideas below to make your own venture a success.

    SEE ALSO: 10 business lessons I learned from Marc Andreessen, one of the smartest investors in the world

    1. Fun should come first

    Life is too damn short to work so hard only to find out in the 11th inning that you didn’t have enough fun. I built a hugely successful real-estate business full of productive people because everyone knew it was the happiest company in town and we all wanted to be there.

    For every dollar I spent creating fun, I got a 1,000% return. When I sold the The Corcoran Group for $66 million, I was surprised that all of our fun expenses totaled only .04% of total expenses. Based on what it bought us, I thought for sure it was more like 50%. 

    —  Barbara Corcoran, founder of The Corcoran Group and Shark on "Shark Tank."

    2. Be obsessed

    You have to be obsessed. You have to be all in, all the time. So obsessed you lose the concept of time. The greatest people who have walked this Earth are those who are obsessed. They don’t drink the Kool-Aid, they swim in it and do a backstroke in the Kool-Aid. 

    — Grant Cardone, top sales expert who has built a $500 million real-estate empire, NYT bestselling author of "Be Obsessed or Be Average," and host of "The Cardone Zone." Follow Grant on Facebook or YouTube.

    3. Write goals five times a day, every day

    I believe in conditioning my mindset and belief system by writing my goals out five times a day. I set reminders on my iPhone and never skip a single day. This helps me condition the mind, and reformat my thoughts to continually focus on my dreams and goals.

    By writing every day, I force my mind to cancel the noise, distractions and random thoughts in order to focus intensely on my dreams and goals. Try it for a week and see for yourself how powerful this technique is. 

    —  Com Mirza, CEO of Fitness Expo Dubaiand "The $500 Million Man." He failed in eight companies back-to-back and today runs a nine-figure empire with over 600 employees.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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