3 Things To Do to Build Mental Strength

success magIf anyone has ever gotten into conversation with me for longer than five minutes, I will probably bring up Navy SEALs at some point. I have huge respect for those who serve our country. So, when I was in the airport grabbing some seltzer water and almonds and saw Jocko Willink – the ultimate SEAL – on the cover of Success Magazine, I had to grab it. There was a killer article about Jocko’s training routine, mindset, schedule, and business ventures. And it got me thinking about how important mental strength and emotional fitness are to success. In fact, it’s everything. All success hinges on overcoming the voice inside your head that is trying to hold you back and hold you down. Though, I wouldn’t mind having Jocko’s voice inside my head every day. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Go check out his podcast. It’s good.

When you master that voice, you win.

You’ve probably all heard the term self-mastery before. Self-mastery is nothing but overcoming that voice inside your head that says “No,” or “I can’t,” or “I’m too tired,” or “I shouldn’t have to,” or “I’m not good enough.” Life is about setting goals that cause us to push through challenges and obstacles. That’s where growth comes from. The interesting thing about setting big goals and finding a way to conquer them is that most of the time the grind of business building or the grind of training for an Ironman isn’t fun. It’s just not. It’s boring. It’s requires sacrifice. It’s hard. But when you grow, you build mental strength.

Here are 3 things you can do to build mental strength:

  1. Get up early. Which means you have to go to bed early. Nothing good happens after 8pm anyway. But the key is that you have to have a purpose to get up early. If you have a reason to get up in the morning, you go to bed. So, when your opportunity clock goes off in the morning do you hit the snooze button or do you choose victory? When you choose victory first thing in the morning, your building mental strength. Every time you hit the snooze button you are training yourself to break your promises. And the crazy thing is, these are promises you’ve made to yourself! Set the stage for your day and get up early. Get up early and read, meditate, go for a walk, journal, or exercise. It doesn’t really matter what you do. It’s about that victory in the morning that sets the stage for future success. Getting up early allows you to have time for you. No demands. No distractions. You get to set the course for your day.
  2. Implement small daily disciplines. Discipline is freedom. This is a gem I borrowed from Jocko. The more disciplined you are the better habits you create and ultimately the more freedom you end up experiencing. The discipline to get up early gives you the freedom of more time later in the day. The discipline to not buy the latest iPhone or a new car gives you financial freedom. The discipline to workout every day gives you energy, strength, and physical freedom. Small daily disciplines start creating small daily habits that eventually start leaking into every aspect of your life. If you don’t allow yourself to cheat on your daily discipline of flossing your teeth, then you are training yourself to not cheat on your daily workout, or not cheat on the time you have set aside for your family. But discipline isn’t easy. Discipline is hard. This is where mental strength is forged. Focus on your long-term goals and then the daily habits you can take to get you there. And then take action. When you do what you say you’re going to do – DAILY – you will create a huge life.
  3. Challenge yourself in a structured environment. Do you want to live a mediocre life? No! I bet you don’t. But it’s easy to get comfortable, especially when you have achieved a certain level of success. So, you have to choose to get outside your comfort zone in order to grow and one of the best ways to do that is to take on a new challenge within a structured environment. For example, join a Toastmasters and start practicing your public speaking, or sign up to run a marathon and get a running coach, or take a course to help you start the business that you’ve wanted to start for years.

    When I decided to sign up to complete an Ironman, I had an instant mental shift from exercising to training. Exercise means you get a good sweat on, feel good, and have a decent routine. Exercise is great! But training means you get on your bike, or lace up your running shoes, or get into the pool with the intent of beating your previous pace. You are working on improving yourself but with extreme focus and purpose and with a much higher level of accountability. It’s the difference between reading for fun and reading because you know you will be giving a presentation and graded on it. It’s the difference between going for a jog and training for a Spartan Race with the intention of beating last year’s PR. You are no longer just going through the motions. You have a goal, you have a score card, and you are constantly being pushed by that coach or that program to go beyond what you thought was possible. That is where mental strength is made.  Because training gives you purpose, it strengthens your ability to push through when that voice is telling you to slow down or quit. And then that mental strength stays with you when the next obstacle or challenge is thrown at you – and you know there will be some.

Mental strength is built by embracing challenges and pushing through them. Struggles and obstacles are our greatest gifts because they force us to grow. Mental strength comes from believing you can’t do something and then doing it anyway. Do not allow yourself to give yourself an out! Commit to getting up early. Commit to daily disciplines. Commit to a new, structured challenge. You’ll be building mental strength each step of the way.

Choose victory.

5 Ways to Secure Your Company’s Reputation

best placesThis week we moved into a brand new state-of-the-art office building – the new headquarters for Hergenrother Enterprises (KW Vermont, Hergenrother Realty Group, Adam Hergenrother Training Organization, BlackRock Construction, and Hergenrother Foundation). Last week, Hergenrother Enterprises was named one of the Best Places to Work in Vermont. Both of these accomplishments were a testament to the hard work of my incredible team and garnered a lot of positive press.
I’ll take it! Because it’s not always this way. These moments in the spotlight are great, but fleeting. They will be up for a day, maybe two, and then replaced by the next big story – usually something controversial or provocative – whatever will get the most attention. For every positive piece of news about you in the media, there are five conversations swirling around the business community maligning your reputation, questioning your business practices, or just spreading rumors about you and your leadership. The funny thing, is the more success you have, the more people will try to tear you down.

There are two ways to build the biggest building in town:
1. Build the biggest building in town.
2. Tear down all the other buildings around you.

I will always choose option one. But my competition and your competition may choose option two and you’ve got to be prepared. So how do you get your company to stand out among the noise? How do maintain your company’s reputation day after day? How do you secure your company against the competition who may be determined to tear you down?
Perception is reality. It is your job to ensure that your company’s perception is pristine, that you are leading your company from a place of integrity, and that you are sharing your successes widely and often. No one else is going to do it for you.

strategic givingHere are five things you can implement to secure your company’s reputation against the competition:

  1. Earned media. Public relations. Free press. Whatever you want to call it. Go get it. The more good news you are putting out into the world, the better. It can be as simple as sharing a press release about your company’s latest charity event or sharing each new hire on social media. It’s great when your company receives an industry award, but if you aren’t sharing that with your followers, your customers, and your clients, they will never know. Publishing a weekly blog or monthly newsletter that highlights an employee or the success of a recent wellness initiative, all stack the cards in your favor. I’m not talking about paid advertising here. I’m talking about sharing your company’s story and inviting people to get involved – whether that’s with an upcoming volunteer project or to submit their resume for a career opportunity. I know your company is doing great things. It’s time to let the rest of the world know.
  2. Strategic giving. At a certain point in your career, you’re going to start getting asked to donate or sponsor events several times a week. I get it. There are thousands of amazing organizations, all with limited funding and resources. But your resources and charitable donation pool is limited too. This is where you’ve got to get strategic. With the funds that you do have allocated to charitable giving, make sure to work with organizations that you are passionate about and who align with your vision and mission. Your giving will go much further when you not only give monetarily to two or three organizations that your believe deeply in, but that you will also wiling donate your time to.
  3. Company culture. Your employees and business partners can be your biggest allies (or your biggest adversaries) when it comes to protecting your company’s reputation. Who knows the inner workings of your company better than your staff? What will they say about your company?  Is your culture strong enough to withstand your competition’s attempts to tear you down? Do you have weekly, monthly, and yearly company events to bring everyone together? Are you transparent when there are issues? Do your employees know they can come to you with concerns? Focus on your people. In fact, your people are the ones that create the culture, not you. Culture does not come from the top down, but from within the organization, based on each of the people you bring into your world. Protect your company culture fiercely. If your culture is strong your team will be your biggest defenders and advocates when there is a bump in the road.
  4. Leave your ego at the door. As you build your empire and start having more success, the target on your back becomes bigger. You are a threat to other businesses, and really at the core, you are making other people feel less significant. You will have people attack you personally and you are going to want to attack back; it’s just human nature. Don’t. It is not about you anymore. You have a company and hundreds, maybe thousands, of people, who depend on you for your sound judgement, integrity, and ability to remain calm and collected in the face of chaos. The decisions you make are not for you, they are for the good of the company. It doesn’t matter what is said about you, it’s about what is best for your company’s reputation, and what is best for the people you are responsible for. There is no room for ego at the top.
  5. No comment. When you’re faced with negative press, when rumors are flying, and when you’ve got reporters calling for an interview (and at some point this will happen to all of you as you’re building a business), just pause and consider your words carefully. Haters are gonna hate. You don’t want that negativity in your life. Take the high road. Simply reply no comment, or consult your lawyer for an appropriate response. If you don’t add fuel to the fire, the fire will die. Instead, focus on your team (point 3) and all the positive work you are doing and share (point 1)!

Did you notice that all of the points above are about YOU and your company? They have nothing to do with you competition. Keep your focus on bettering yourself and your company every day and you will always win.

Focus on Daily Execution for Big Results

half ironman floridaLast Saturday I completed my first triathlon – a half-Ironman – in Clermont, Florida. On the Friday before my race, I had a call with my coach and he told me to forget about the time goals that I wanted to hit, because I was putting too much pressure on myself. He told me to focus on the second by second, minute by minute execution. Literally focusing on breathing every stroke cycle, high turnover and staying long, then having a quick transition, and executing my hydration plan on the bike, drinking every few minutes and eating every 30 minutes, staying at a high cadence, and not exceeding a certain heart rate. Forget the goal, focus on the small activities that my training had prepared me for. I placed 2nd in my age group, and 14th overall. That’s what happens with models, systems, training, coaching, and finally, pure execution.

Focusing on the small points of execution got me thinking about how important our daily, our hourly, and even our minute by minute execution is. Every day we start with extreme focus and clarity on our big goal, or our big why, our one thing, but can often get sidetracked, if we don’t focus on the activities, the execution, that will get us there. But it’s in those small, often mundane moments, where growth really happens.

I didn’t place in the top 15 in the Florida Challenge because I was telling myself to run faster, swim harder, hit your time goals! I placed in the top 15 because I forgot all about that and focused on putting one foot in front of the other, focused on my heart rate, focused on fueling myself properly. Yes, I had a goal. But the goal became secondary to the execution. Because I knew that if I executed on the activities, the goal would take care of itself.

Now, it’s simple to sit here now and say this, but is really hard. It’s hard to focus on the small, purposeful execution when your body (or business) is screaming and telling you to stop and give up. In any intense physical training (marathon, CrossFit, dance, etc.), just as in business, you are going to hit rough patches where your mind goes sideways and wants you to quit. Halfway through my race, my mind started trying to convince me to cancel my full-Ironman this summer! The key is to be able to pause long enough to get your mind right – everything ends and this is where grit is developed. It is the ability to push through the rough patches that allows you to find the sweet spots. Grit and character are not forged in the midst of success, they are developed when it’s completely dark and you can’t see your way out.

Will you allow it to make you or break you?

Anyone can train, build a business, or lead when things are good. But how many people can lead themselves and others when times are tough? The good news is, it is something that can be learned. Grit, resilience, and perseverance can all be developed, as long as you’re willing to do the work and get uncomfortable. The next time you hit a rough patch in life or business, just stop and breathe. Control your breath, say an affirmation (mine is “I demand of myself to create massive and pure energy within me now.”), or count to 100 3-5 times. These small actions will center you again, clear your mind, and enable you to fight forward.

I’ll say it again, small actions. Small actions to clear your mind and refocus. Small acts of execution to lead you to big results.

I knew I needed to leave the comfort of my stable job (making $42,000 a year, private office, expense account, assistant) to be an entrepreneur in order to grow and live the life I wanted. But the first step was actually quitting! And I did quit to become a real estate agent. In 2006. People thought that I was crazy because of the crash, but I knew that if I focused on just setting ONE appointment a day, I’d hit my goals. That became my small action every day. It didn’t matter how long it took. I could prospect for 12 or 16 hours a day. I just knew that I needed to start small in order to go big. Fast forward a couple of months, and my one small action became hiring an assistant. And slowly, then suddenly, I had an entire team around me. Next thing I knew, I woke up with five companies. Small actions.

bruno-nascimento-149663Let’s look at another example – weight loss. If you have a goal of losing 6 pounds in one month, you must focus on the small things – daily caloric intake of food and daily caloric output through exercise. Every bite matters. Every step matters. Start small to go big.

These examples are all around us. Just ask anyone who has ever accomplished anything extraordinary how they did it. I guarantee they won’t tell you about some momentous moment when extraordinary just showed up. They are going to tell you about their daily habits, their extreme time management, their hourly execution, their small actions that got them there. Again, simple, but incredibly hard. But this is your competitive advantage! Most people can’t handle the mental discipline it takes to execute on the small (often monotonous) daily actions. They give in and give up. But not you. Not if you want to win.

Remember, don’t lose sight of your future self or your big why. That will always be what drives you and guides your daily actions. But if you just shift your focus to the daily execution of what must get done to move the needle forward, you will win.

 

 

How to Move Forward When You Can’t See the Path Ahead

 

the falls 1I just got back from three days off the grid, completely unplugged and fully immersed in the natural beauty at the Grand Canyon and Havasupai Falls. Clarity and inspiration were a given.

The business world is such a whirlwind. Some days you have extremely clear vision, tons of energy, and feel unstoppable. Other days? It can feel like you are in the middle of the Northern woods of Maine on a foggy day with no idea which way is out. You can feel trapped, confused, frustrated, and lost. It can paralyze you. The fear can stop you and cause you to shoot off your last rescue flair and call it quits. But this is where the magic happens. This is where you can either retreat, or find out what you’re made of. And you know what? Most of the time when we’re lost, we are only 10 feet from the edge of the forest. It’s when you can’t see where to go or what to do next that you must use all the courage, models, emotional fitness, and grit you possess to find a way out. Stop, re-calibrate, take a look around, and find a path through the trees (even if you have to create it).

falls 5I felt this fear and uncertainty about halfway through my expedition to Havasupai Falls. We had finally made it to the waterfall and were on the edge of one of the cliffs overlooking a huge pool below. The pool was super deep and only about 55 degrees. The wind was whipping at 25 mph due to the energy of the falls. The current below was incredibly strong. Our guide lead us out on to the cliff, tiptoeing on a 2 foot wide shelf so we were over the middle of the pool. The five of us, plus our guide, were huddled on this ledge about 8 feet away from the crashing falls and then shit got real. Our guide explained that we were going to dive into the pool and swim through a four foot underwater tunnel that would lead us into a huge cave. He reminds us to swim really hard because the current is strong. Our guide prepares to jump. To make it worse, he crouches down, takes 4-5 really deep breaths and then launches head first into the current at the base of the falls and disappears. I’m up next. As soon as he hits the water, we’re supposed to count down from 10 and jump. I get to 5… and think, is this guy f’ing kidding me, right now? I can’t see where I’m going. I have no idea what to expect. But I breathe deeply, remember his words, “Dive deep, swim hard, and you’ll be fine.” …1… I jump. The current is stronger than I thought it would be, the waterfall pushing me down, and then I hit a wall. Literally. I think, shit, I need to come up for air, but I don’t. I just go deeper and reach for the opening. I keep swimming. I keep moving. I push my way through the water and BOOM. I enter a magnificent cave – one of the hidden gems of the world. I made it.

We all made it. Each one of us had the same thoughts and feelings before we jumped, but we were strong enough to get out of our heads and find a way to move. One of the guys in my group even hit the wall, got turned around and just kept at it until he found the hole through the water. The look on his face when he made it through and into the cave was priceless. We all had that look. Overcoming fear, pushing your limits, and coming out the other side knowing what you are capable of, knowing you can accomplish something like that is an incredible feeling.

Little did we know that jumping off a cliff and swimming through an underwater tunnel was not the only way to get to the cave. We could have just swam right up to it on the west side of the falls. But I guarantee we wouldn’t have had the memories or the feeling of accomplishment that we did if we hadn’t tested our physical and emotional fitness. Our willingness to dive in and to keep moving without knowing exactly how to get there was the real gift. We learned a lot about ourselves and each other in that moment.

So, when you’re deep underwater or lost in the woods, what do you do? Do you freeze? Panic? Give up? Or do you take a step forward? Do you keep moving? Do you take action?

adam mountainYou are 20x more capable than you think you are. You must trust yourself and be confident in the fact that you can get through anything… if you keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Life and business are all about failures. Failures allow you to see what is working and what needs to be fixed or improved upon. And you won’t always know the answer. You won’t always see a clear path out. If success were easy, it would be as natural as breathing; we would all just be doing it.  But it’s that challenge of not knowing and moving forward anyway that forces us to grow.

How do you test your emotional fitness? When was the last time you pushed the limits of what you thought was possible for yourself?

Build a Business Platform For Leaders to Stand On

Real estate teams will soon dominate the entire industry. We have been building a real estate expansion team without borders for almost six years. And we’re not the only ones. There are several other industry leaders who have also been building a foundation, a platform, for real estate expansion teams. On the surface, it seems like we’re doing the same thing and building the same company. It’s just real estate, right? The same could be said for any insurance company, any construction company, any car dealership, or any industry where one company doesn’t dominate the market. But the truth is that we all have our own flavor, we all have one thing that we do exceptionally well, and we all have different personalities and leadership styles that attract different talent into our world. We each have a different platform that we are building our empires on.

Definition of platform

1:  plan, design
2:  a declaration of the principles on which a group of persons stands

What is your platform? What do you stand for? What does your company stand for? Do you have a job or are you building a business? Are your systems scaleable? What products and services are at the core of your business? Have you defined who you are? Are you communicating your flavor?

Your platform can be broken into three components:

Models + Systems + Structure = Platform

Models: This is the vision and the belief system that your company is built upon. This is the direction that your team is headed and must have a clear plan on how to get there. That doesn’t mean that it won’t change. Stay flexible. Your model will evolve as your business develops and grows until you hit your desired result. Communicate these changes clearly and confidently to your team and your model will guide all of the decisions you and your team make as your business grows. Models (and systems) are what will allow you to break through your ceiling of achievement and move from entrepreneurial to purposeful.

e to p

Systems: Systems are how you execute your model. Will you build an army of Inside Sales Agents? Will you double down on video marketing? Will you use Salesforce or Hubspot? Systems are the procedures, the checklists, the reporting, the software, the marketing strategies, etc. you implement to operate your business. Systems play an important role in making sure you stay purposeful on your model and continue to move forward to higher and higher levels of success. Again, don’t get bogged down in finding the prefect system. Find what works for you, your team, and your platform.

Structure: Structure is the daily accountability, coaching and training (for example, daily huddles, power-ups, team lead generation sessions, or daily check-in emails) that you provide for your team. The structure is there to ensure that the models (i.e. the vision) is executed. The systems are simply the HOW to achieve the end result and those can be vastly different depending on your model. Just as someone’s chosen structure can be totally different depending on their leadership philosophies or overall company vision.

You have to have all three components – model, systems, and structure – to build the platform for your company that others will stand on, grow from, and build upon.

Which brings me to my final point. You could have the most kick-ass platform in the world, but it’s not going to get you anywhere if you don’t have a team of smart and driven people to move your organization forward. People are the x-factor. People will implement the platform and drive the platform forward which is what will ultimately build a big business.

Your platform is what differentiates your businesses from someone else’s and is why someone will want to work with you versus another organization. Build your platform, with your flavor, and it will attract the right talent and empire builders into your world who will see that platform as the foundation for their success.

 

 

Do You Have a Heart for Business?

One of the very first things we do with any new leadership team member is hand them a copy of my User’s Manual (email Hallie for a blank copy to create your own). It’s basically a cheat sheet of my idiosyncrasies, my values, my strengths, and my weaknesses. Actually, we talk about all of these things before we even bring someone on-board, but everyone needs a little reminder once in a while. I don’t ever want there to be any surprises for people when they join my organization. I am a hard-driving, obsessively growth-oriented, high standards, results not stories, push you until you almost break because I want you to reach your potential kind of guy. Not everyone is going to like it. And that’s okay.

users_manual

We even go so far as when we ask for our candidates’ references, we give them a list of MY references – including people who have been fired or no longer with our company. Why? Because I want anyone who is coming into my world to get the full picture. We can tell people that I’ll push you to grow or that we move lightening-fast, but people only understand that to the degree that they have been pushed or been in a “fast-paced environment.” One of the biggest comments we get from people who may not have worked out at our company or decided to take a different role in one of our organizations is, “You guys move REALLY fast. Like, you don’t operate like any other company I’ve been a part of…” Now, I’m just used to it and so is my team. But, to an outsider it can be completely overwhelming and sometimes debilitating. So, we do everything we can to mitigate that. We may have the most talented candidate – great behavioral match, moves quickly, has all the skills and experience in the world, but they still may not be able to keep up!

It is not my job to slow down to accommodate. It is not my job to provide an opportunity to everyone. It is not my job to hold people’s hands. It is not my job to save everyone.

By now, you must be thinking, “Who is this guy and why would anyone work for him!?” And to that, I would say, ask the 230+ people in my organization who work WITH me. Just because I have high standards, expect my team to work hard and push towards our goals, and to move quickly, that doesn’t meant I don’t have a heart. Just because I don’t stop in the halls to chit-chat about your weekend, doesn’t mean that I won’t sit down with you to talk about your goals for your family’s future. Just because I don’t go out for drinks after work, doesn’t mean I won’t join you for a hike at sunrise the next day.

Here’s the thing: I care more about who my employees and team members become as a person, than I do about being their friend.

Their personal, professional, spiritual, financial, and physical growth is of the utmost importance to me. And if I have to push a little harder than someone likes, point out their blind spots, or play the bad cop, I will.

I’ve been told by a couple people (okay, maybe more than that) that I need to have more of a heart. I think they’re wrong. My version of heart and their version of heart are just different. You can have a huge heart, but that doesn’t mean you need to save everyone. You know how I show love? By making sure everyone that comes into my world is hitting their goals, that they are transforming their lives and the lives of their family, that they are reaching beyond their potential and growing every day, and that they are living the biggest life that they can imagine.

The people that are attracted to that type of leadership are the people who survive and thrive in my organization. I’m not trying to be anyone I’m not, which is why I’m so transparent from the get go. You better be damn sure that when you join my organization that you are ready, because I will push you, you will grow, and your life will change.

If that sounds like something you’d be in to, email me. We always have opportunities for those who hustle and have heart.

win-with-adam

 

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.

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.