Top 3 Things I Learned in Las Vegas

adam-vegas-bikeLast week I got to spend five days in Vegas (baby!) for our annual real estate convention, Keller Williams Family Reunion. Believe me, I did not do anything remotely Vegasy… no casinos (except that I was forced to walk through them from the hotel to the convention center and back again), no comedy shows, no oxygen bars, no J. Lo concerts, no indoor skydiving, no high roller… But I was able to squeeze in a massage at Spa Mandalay and did get outside the city and enjoyed the scenery. I actually went out a few days early so I could get in a century ride outside (which is not possible when there is two feet of snow in Vermont), some runs, and a couple of swims. Maximizing my time and packing in five days of Ironman training, learning, teaching, and networking is completely possible when you practice extreme time management and say no to late nights.

So, what did I really do in Vegas for five days? Well, aside from my Ironman training, I also had the opportunity to teach a class with Holly Priestner (who, by the way, is now the Vice President of Keller Williams Realty International. Congrats, Holly!) about building a successful team. I tackled an Escape Room with my Hergenrother Realty Group (HRG) team members (and no, we couldn’t escape). I had a incredible leadership meeting with HRG and we set the course for the next 10 months that will ensure we are #1. I got to have dinner with some of my friends and colleagues from around the country, where we discussed the challenges and fun of being an entrepreneur and business owner. The highlight of the week was being on stage with Gary Keller, Ben Kinney, and Kristan Cole and being able to share my passion for leadership and growth through real estate Expansion teams.

adam-and-gary-2017It was an honor to teach and pour into others while I was at Family Reunion. That time away from the office and from my routine, allowed me to learn, listen with a different perspective, think, and have some breakthrough moments.

Here are the top 3 things I learned while I was in Vegas:

 

  1. Life is an experiment. Life is a constant push, pull, and readjustment. Ultimately, my life is just one huge experiment! That means I’m always testing, watching, and re-calibrating. This can apply to all areas of your life – spiritual, physical, financial, professional, and social. So, just go try something. If it doesn’t work or if you don’t like it, just adjust. Just don’t go through life with any regrets. If you want something, go get it. The people who die peacefully (and yes, newsflash, we will all die some day), are the ones that lived a life of no regrets – a life true to who they were at the core. Are you living a life of no regrets? Make it a priority in your life to experiment! Try new things, learn, earn, grow, travel, and play your entire life. I guarantee you won’t regret that.
  2. I am guaranteed to fail. Yup. Failure is inevitable. Therefore, I know that I can’t fear failure. I believe that I am a spiritual being having a minor physical experience. I know that I need failure for my own spiritual growth, therefore I choose to embrace failure. In order for my team and I to achieve massive success, we must fail and be okay with it. Keep failing and keep growing. Once you realize that the failure, and the personal growth from failure, is really what life is all about, you will stop fearing it and stop putting limits on your life. And then, your growth becomes the goal – not money or material items. Changing and increasing your level of consciousness is now the metric that you start measuring your inner success by. Dr. David Hawkins, in his book Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender, talks about how most of us only grow our consciousness by 5% in one life time because we’re just not focused on it. Well, become focused on failure and you damn sure will grow by more than 5%! Embrace failure. Understand that if you want to live a big life, you will get knocked down and you must get back up. Don’t fear failure. Don’t fear the fight. Fight forward.
  3. No matter where you are in life right now, you are only five years away from where you want to be. And you will get there through emotional fitness and hiring the best people on the planet. In a shitty situation? Feeling lost? In debt? It can change, you can improve your situation, you can grow and be where you want to be if you grind and put in the time. Five years. If this doesn’t inspire you, I don’t know what will! Think about how quickly five years has gone by! Five years ago, I only had two companies and zero children! We are never too old, too young, too poor, not privileged enough, not smart enough, too out of shape, too whatever to get where we want to go. You are only five years away. That is a freeing thought. Stop making excuses for where you are in life and get your ass in gear. Start taking more risks, start failing more, start implementing more, start hiring the best people on the planet and make it your priority to help them achieve their goals. Remember, most entrepreneurs aren’t good business leaders. They are great entrepreneurs because they are creative, can navigate through tough times, and are persistent, but going from an entrepreneur to being a business person is humbling. You must learn a new skill of leading and succeeding through others. That’s a really easy thing to say. Leverage, right? We talk about it all the time. And yet, most of us aren’t actually succeeding through others. A lot of us think that because we have a team or employees, then we must be succeeding through them and we must be a business leader! Wrong. Succeeding through others means that your employees see you as a vehicle to build their ultimate life, that you allow their gifts to shine, and that you put your gifts and goals behind theirs. Do you truly support your team? Are you making them better than you? Are you willing to do that? Can your ego handle it? We know it only takes five years to get you from where you are now to anywhere you want to be! But those five years can look pretty average and pretty uneventful. From the outside, no one would be able to tell if you were succeeding or not. But little do they know, that you are building the platform of models, systems, people, standards, etc. to be unstoppable.

And here’s a little bonus that I’ll leave you with (that I’ll dive into in a later post): You can have a huge heart, but that doesn’t mean you need to save everyone.

Viva Las Vegas.

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Guest Blogger Ann Zuccardy: 5 Habits of Smart Thinkers

Brain training sells.

Brain training claims to help you be more productive.  Think faster.  Improve your memory.

But is it worth the money to join one of those brain training websites that claim to promote intellectual fitness?

Some recent studies say no – these sites just make you better at playing the games on the sites and do little to promote your ability to solve problems or adapt to new challenges.

In my 2013 TEDx talk, I identified qualities that I believe make people smart.  A 2011 brain injury forced me to create compensatory strategies to use my brain in ways I had previously taken for granted.  It wasn’t until I began preparing my TEDx talks that I realized much of what I was learning was backed up by neuroscientific studies.

I have identified five habits of smart lifelong thinkers – the folks who stay sharp and productive until the day they die. I know these qualities won’t cure or slow down the ravages of many neurological diseases, but for the otherwise healthy, they re solid brain training habits that won’t cost you a dime.

  1. Smart thinkers frequently try new things.
    I’m not saying you have to learn Chinese or travel the world (though these things will improve your neuroplasticity). Try brushing your teeth using your non-dominant hand for a month. Learn techniques for memorizing lists. Try a dish you’ve never eaten before. Learn to play a new musical instrument. Walk around your house blindfolded for a day. Walk backwards. Teach someone else a skill you know well. All these suggestions exercise your brain by forcing your neurons to connect in ways they’re not used to.
  2. Smart thinkers think about thinking. This is known as metacognition. It means we become aware of our habits of perception and learning. Smart thinkers use this awareness to assess their effectiveness and approach and adapt their learning strategies according to the demands of new challenges.
  3. Smart thinkers try to figure it out. I’m not saying asking questions is a bad thing, but smart thinkers look for patterns, work on cracking the code, and read the manual before giving up on a task or asking for help. There is a happy medium between figuring it out for oneself and asking for help. When we figure it out using strategies we already know, we build confidence and seal it into memory more effectively.
  4. Smart thinkers laugh and play. Recently, I became a certified laughter yoga leader. Laughter yoga isn’t yoga the way we usually think about it.  It’s deep breathing and stretching combined with laughter.  Think it sounds a little “woo-woo” and nutty?  Think again.  Science shows us that our brains do not know the difference between manufactured and spontaneous laughter.  Both release endorphins and activate the limbic system.  Laughter and play positively affect empathy, creativity, and physical health.
  5. Smart thinkers eat omega-3 fatty acids. There’s a supplement out there for everything. It’s hard to know what to eat and what not to eat.  Omega-3 fatty acids, however, are backed by science as affecting brain health.  Your brain comprises about 3% of your body weight and yet it requires about 25-30% of the fuel you put into your body.  Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fishes like salmon and sardines.  They can also be found in flaxseed oil and some nuts and seeds.  You can also take a good omega-3 fatty acid supplement to improve brain and heart health.  Anything that’s good for your heart is also good for your brain.

There are many other habits of highly effective thinkers and there are many ways to work out your brain without breaking the bank.

Smarter thinkers are more productive, focused, and creative.  They know how to take care of their brains so their brains take care of them for many years.


annzuccardy-2015-cropABOUT ANN ZUCCARDY

A fall in a German bathtub in 2011 dramatically changed Ann Zuccardy’s life. 

Using the ingenuity she discovered after the brain injury she sustained in that fall, along with three decades as a corporate communicator, social media marketing expert, and teacher, Ann challenges conventional ideas about intelligence, self-care, and innovation. 

After her first TEDx talk in 2013, How a Brain Injury Made Me Smarter, Ann discovered a new passion and now speaks professionally on the impact of humor on our brains and resilience in the face of change. 

Additionally, Ann is a certified laughter yoga leader and works with businesses, non-profits, and schools to introduce the scientifically-proven benefits of laughter on productivity, innovation, and physical health. 

Ann splits her time between her home in Vermont and New York City.  She is working on her graduate degree in English and expects to graduate in 2018. When she’s not speaking, or studying, she enjoys photography, gardening, writing, traveling to little-known places, and spending time with her rescue dog, Jackson. 


CONNECT WITH ANN

For brain tips, follow Ann on Twitter @annzuccardy

For stress reducing laughter yoga training at your organization, contact Ann at zuccardy@gmail.com.

Work Between Vacations

Cinque Terre: veduta di Manarola, La Spezia (La Spezia, Cinque TI’m a variety freak. I get bored very quickly and constantly need new training routines, new projects, new books, new adventures to keep me engaged and growing. One of the ways I do that is by traveling (sometimes to other countries and sometimes just a quick weekend getaway in the next town over). In 2017 alone, I’ll be traveling to the Bahamas, Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix, Boston, NYC, Washington DC, Twin Cities, the Grand Canyon, Kentucky, Ottawa, Lake Placid, Utah, and a tentative trip planned to the Galapagos Islands in December. That’s almost 20 trips planned – most of which are happening the first half of the year. And only about 30% of that travel is for business. The rest are adventure trips with the boys, weekend getaways with my wife, or family vacations. I didn’t get there overnight. But I was clear on my goals and priorities and designed my life such that I can work between vacations, not work and wait for a vacation to arrive.

Here’s the thing. Most people don’t plan vacations. And why not? Usually for two main reasons: They don’t think they’ll earn or save enough money to pay for a vacation or they think they don’t have the time/can’t get away from XYZ responsibility at work or at home. Both of which are false, by the way. If you don’t plan even one vacation for the year, it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy – you are telling yourself that you can’t earn or save enough money or that you don’t deserve to take time off (that’s a whole psychological discussion for another time). But you DO deserve to take time off. In fact, you MUST in order to be the best version of you at home, at work, and for your business.

Entrepreneurs, especially, are susceptible to falling into the trap of go, go, going. Actually, they are often told when they start off to get ready to survive on 2 hours of sleep a night, that their next vacation won’t be for at least another 3 years, and oh yeah, forget about holidays with the family. I was told that too when I first started to build my business! But I wasn’t willing to accept that. Don’t get me wrong, building a business and building the life of success and freedom that you want requires a lot of hard work and sacrifices. You just have to decided what your boundaries are and what sacrifices you are willing to make. Having new experiences and new adventures and spending time with my family were things that I was not willing to give up. And if I had decided to keep my head down and opt-out of hiking Kilimanjaro, or going to the Bahamas with my family, or training for the Ironman, would I really have been able to build my company faster? I think not…

I choose to work between vacations and you can too.

Most thought leaders and business gurus will recommend you take a week long vacation every 90 days. And I think that is a great place to start. Studies have shown that you are more productive leading up to a vacation and 90 days is plenty of time to implement a new initiative, hit some big sales numbers, or finish a project. When you know at the beginning of the year that you’ve got 4 vacations planned, how would that change your level of output, focus, and general attitude? Sure, we all want to be working for an organization that we don’t NEED a vacation from… but no matter how much you love your work, you still deserve to take time off. It will actually help your energy levels, focus, and productivity in the long run.

camplingSo, week long vacations are great. But I’m also a huge fan of the long weekend. And I’m not talking about a private jet whisking me away to a chalet in Aspen. I’m talking about going to a local inn on the lake or just going camping. It’s not about the extravagance of the trip, it’s about the experience. For example, I’m flying to NYC for just one night with my wife and two older children – but our two days will be packed with a visit to the American Museum of Natural History, breakfast at the Stardust Diner in Times Square, and walks through Central Park.

And if you already travel a lot for business – great! Bring your family along. I’m teaching a course in Phoenix in June, so my wife will be joining me and we’ll be extending the trip a few days to include some hiking and time at the spa. I strive to maximize my time like that whenever possible. If I’m on a hunting trip with my Dad, I may spend some of that unplugged, solo time writing. Or if I’m traveling to Disney with the family, I may schedule a training or consulting gig in the area. Maximize your time whenever you can.

By building in longer trips and mini-vacations frequently throughout the year, it forces me to be laser-focused on only what is most important in my organization and creates a sense of urgency to get shit done. I work in bursts during my day, so why wouldn’t my months be full of bursts of work too?  Working between vacations means every day is packed and purposeful. It forces you to employ extreme time management techniques and to say no to anything that is not 100% mission-critical and pushes you take action. Bottom line? Taking more vacations equals more productivity, faster growth, and extreme clarity.

Take a vacation. Schedule a long weekend away from the office and your business. Shaking up your routine is important to gain clarity, to recharge, refresh, refocus, to be able to tackle problems from new angles, and think about ideas with a new perspective. You’re not going to solve all the challenges of your organization sitting behind your desk.

3 Ways to Think Bigger Every Day

Think big and think bigger are on the verge of becoming overused catch phrases with the growth-minded entrepreneurial crowd. And I’m just as guilty. It’s a phrase I throw around and talk about all the time. We must all think bigger in order to grow. But what does THINK BIG or THINK BIGGER really mean? And how do we actually do it?

How do we think bigger?

Here’s a real-life example for you. Earlier this week I was on a coaching call and the individual mentioned to me how their thinking had recently changed as they have grown from a sales rep into a leadership position. He said that instead of walking into a restaurant and store and viewing all the people there as potential clients, he started asking himself, “Could these people work for me?” This individual had figured it out, but how can the rest of us train ourselves to think bigger?

There are three things you can do every day to practice thinking bigger and to train your brain to always think bigger no matter what situation you’re in. Let’s break them down.

  1. Ask bigger and better questions. We all know that the quality of your life is determined by the quality of questions you ask. So are you asking big enough questions that encourage you to think bigger every day? Or are you asking yourself the same series of questions every day – Why is that person driving so slow? Why didn’t I work out today? Can I really leave my corporate job and start my own business? And think about this, who is answering those questions? You are! But you can retrain your brain to start thinking bigger by purposefully planting bigger and better questions in you mind. It doesn’t take any more energy to ask yourself a small question (like how do I lose 5 lbs in 30 days or how do I earn $35,000 a year) than it does to ask yourself a big question (like how do I lose 25 lbs in 30 days or how do I earn $1 Million a year). The small questions have endless answers. I mean, how many ways could you lose 5 lbs in 30 days? You could create an endless list. But think about how focused and purposeful and specific you would need to get in order to lose 25 lbs in 30 days.

    think-big-1If you start giving your brain better questions to chew on, then you’re going to start thinking differently and just elevate your life in general. Try this – once a month choose a new question to plant in your mind and then ask yourself that question every day. Maybe it’s “Who do I need to become in order to spend 2 hours of uninterrupted time with my kids?” or “What must I say no to in order to do 100 push ups a day?” or “Who do I need to hire in order to triple my income in the next year?” Whatever it is, make sure it prompts a shift in your thinking and maybe seems a little impossible. Asking yourself those bigger questions requires you to take more risks, to grow, to be more disciplined, and ultimately to become a better version of you.

  2. Practice confidence. Confidence comes from recognizing that you don’t know everything, but that you do know you can figure anything out. The best way to gain confidence and to practice confidence is to fail. I know, I know, just hang with me for a minute, here. It’s actually through the process of failing and realizing that you’re just fine (and maybe even learned something new or a very valuable lesson) that gives you confidence to keep going. If you never take a risk and never test yourself, you never really know what you are capable of. Courage leads to confidence. You build confidence by having the courage to get back up after failure and to keep going. You have failed, you are not a failure. So try something new every week, something that scares you and takes you out of your comfort zone – volunteer to lead a committee at your kid’s school, tell someone you love them, sign up for a marathon, or say no to another obligation. Whatever you are afraid of, for whatever reason… go do that. It may be great or you may fall on your face. But you will survive and your confidence will soar. Stepping out of your comfort zone like that and developing confidence (and having courage to keep going) leads to bigger thinking.
  3. Implement a daily routine. Practice means progress. In addition to practicing confidence and asking yourself bigger and better questions, you’ve got to create a series of daily habits for success. Asking bigger questions and building your confidence are great, but you will not really be thinking bigger or changing your life, until you take action. That’s where building a purposeful daily routine comes in. Your day may look different than mine (after all, not everyone likes to start their day with wheatgrass), but the point is to get really clear on your goals and then construct daily habits that support them. No excuses.  If your goal is to build up an online coaching business in order to leave your 9 to 5 corporate job, then perhaps you build in an hour of personal development and entrepreneurship training and an hour of working on marketing and building your client base every day. No cheating. When you do cheat the only person you are really cheating is yourself. The habit of implementing and sticking to your daily routine means you may need to get creative in other areas of your life, which leads to thinking bigger. Every quarter, reassess where you are at with your goal and reset. If your new routine hasn’t become a habit stick with it. If it has, then it’s time add in another activity to get you closer to your goal (or maybe you met your goal and it’s time to up it!).

Asking purposeful questions, building confidence, and creating a strategic daily routine all work together to get you to think big and ultimately to take action to live the biggest life possible. Structure in your day will help you get to your goals faster, because it allows you the freedom to think, create, ask bigger and better questions, make decisions on the important things, take risks, and more. And the more you ask bigger question, the more your confidence increases, and the more you implement new daily habits, which leads you to asking even bigger and better questions. Then just like that, you’ve created a virtuous cycle of thinking bigger! And there’s no going backwards from there.