Tag Archive | "success"

How Successful People Work Less and Get More Done

As co-founder of Hotwire.com and CEO of Zillow for the last seven years, 39-year-old Spencer Rascoff fits most people’s definition of success, reports Inc. As a father of three young children, Spencer is a busy guy at home and at work.

What’s the one thing that Spencer refuses to do on the weekend? Work–at least, in the traditional sense. Rascoff says:

“I never go into the office on weekends, but I do check email at night. My weekends are an important time to unplug from the day-to-day and get a chance to think more deeply about my company and my industry. Weekends are a great chance to reflect and be more introspective about bigger issues.”

new study from Stanford shows that Rascoff is on to something.

The study found that productivity per hour declines sharply when the workweek exceeds 50 hours, and productivity drops off so much after 55 hours that there’s no point in working any more. That’s right, people who work as much as 70 hours (or more) per week actually get the same amount done as people who work 55 hours.

Successful people know the importance of shifting gears on the weekend to relaxing and rejuvenating activities. Like Spencer, they use their weekends to create a better week ahead.

This is easier said than done, so here’s some help. The following list contains 10 things that successful people do to find balance on the weekend and to come into work at 110 percent on Monday morning.

1. They Disconnect

Disconnecting is the most important weekend strategy on this list, because if you can’t find a way to remove yourself electronically from your work Friday evening through Monday morning, then you’ve never really left work.

Making yourself available to your work 24/7 exposes you to a constant barrage of stressors that prevent you from refocusing and recharging. If taking the entire weekend off from handling work emails and calls isn’t realistic, try designating specific times on Saturday and Sunday for checking emails and responding to voice mails. For example, check your messages on Saturday afternoon while your kids are getting a haircut and on Sunday evenings after dinner. Scheduling short blocks of time will alleviate stress without sacrificing availability.

2. They Minimize Chores

Chores have a funny habit of completely taking over your weekends. When this happens, you lose the opportunity to relax and reflect. What’s worse is that a lot of chores feel like work, and if you spend all weekend doing them, you just put in a seven-day workweek. To keep this from happening, you need to schedule your chores like you would anything else during the week, and if you don’t complete them during the allotted time, move on and finish them the following weekend.

3. They Reflect

Weekly reflection is a powerful tool for improvement. Use the weekend to contemplate the larger forces that are shaping your industry, your organization, and your job. Without the distractions of Monday to Friday busywork, you should be able to see things in a whole new light. Use this insight to alter your approach to the coming week, improving the efficiency and efficacy of your work.

4. They Exercise

No time to exercise during the week? You have 48 hours every weekend to make it happen. Getting your body moving for as little as 10 minutes releases GABA, a soothing neurotransmitter that reduces stress. Exercise is also a great way to come up with new ideas. Innovators and other successful people know that being outdoors often sparks creativity.

I know that a lot of my best ideas come to me while I’m surfing. While you’re out on the ocean, the combination of invigorating activity and beautiful scenery creates the perfect environment for an influx of creativity. Whether you’re running, cycling, or gardening, exercise leads to endorphin-fueled introspection. The key is to find a physical activity that does this for you and then to make it an important part of your weekend routine.

5. They Pursue a Passion

You might be surprised what happens when you pursue something you’re passionate about on weekends. Indulging your passions is a great way to escape stress and to open your mind to new ways of thinking. Things like playing music, reading, writing, painting, or even playing catch with your kids can help stimulate different modes of thought that can reap huge dividends over the coming week.

6. They Spend Quality Time With Family

Spending quality time with your family on the weekend is essential if you want to recharge and relax. Family time on the weekend is so important to Spencer Rascoff that he flies home for the weekend, no matter how far away he is, even if he has to be in the same city the following week. Weekdays are so hectic that the entire week can fly by with little quality family time. Don’t let this bleed into your weekends. Take your kids to the park, take your spouse to his or her favorite restaurant, and go visit your parents. You’ll be glad you did.

7. They Schedule Micro-Adventures

Buy tickets to a concert or play, or get reservations for that cool new hotel that just opened downtown. Instead of running on a treadmill, plan a hike. Try something you haven’t done before, or perhaps something you haven’t done in a long time. Studies show that anticipating something good to come is a significant part of what makes the activity pleasurable. Knowing that you have something interesting planned for Saturday will not only be fun come Saturday, it will significantly improve your mood throughout the week.

8. They Wake Up at the Same Time

It’s tempting to sleep in on the weekend to catch up on your sleep. Though it feels good temporarily, having an inconsistent wake-up time disturbs your circadian rhythm. Your body cycles through an elaborate series of sleep phases in order for you to wake up rested and refreshed. One of these phases involves preparing your mind to be awake and alert, which is why people often wake up just before their alarm clock goes off (the brain is trained and ready). When you sleep past your regular wake-up time on the weekend, you end up feeling groggy and tired. This isn’t just disruptive to your day off, it also makes you less productive on Monday, because your brain isn’t ready to wake up at your regular time. If you need to catch up on sleep, just go to bed earlier.

9. They Designate Mornings as Me Time

It can be difficult to get time to yourself on the weekends, especially if you have family. Finding a way to engage in an activity you’re passionate about first thing in the morning can pay massive dividends in happiness and cleanliness of mind. It’s also a great way to perfect your circadian rhythm by forcing yourself to wake up at the same time you do on weekdays. Your mind achieves peak performance two-to-four hours after you wake up, so get up early to do something physical, and then sit down and engage in something mental while your mind is at its peak.

10. They Prepare for the Upcoming Week

The weekend is a great time to spend a few moments planning your upcoming week. As little as 30 minutes of planning can yield significant gains in productivity and reduced stress. The week feels a lot more manageable when you go into it with a plan, because all you have to focus on is execution.

Bringing it All Together

What do you do to make your weekends great? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

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7 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Entrepreneur

I’m not sure who originally shared the quote below, but it’s one of the best summaries of business ownership I’ve ever come across:

“Entrepreneurship is crazy. One day you feel like you’re on top of the world, and the next day you want to die.”

These experiences are two sides of the same coin. Fortunately, there are some simple–if harsh–truths that will help you as an entrepreneur. You may not want to hear them, but these seven realities will make you a better business owner, reports Inc.

It’s Not All About You 

Depending on the day, this may be either a blow to your ego or a tremendous relief. Remember that the world doesn’t revolve around you and your company. When you have your entire life wrapped up in a new venture, it’s easy to get tunnel vision. This can make you alternately feel like you’re the greatest person in the world, or like the world will end if your company goes under.

Neither one is true. It’s simply not all about you. Relax. This is a great opportunity, but there are many others as well.

You Can’t Do it All

Want to know one of the biggest mistakes I see entrepreneurs making? It isn’t chasing competitors or marketing before product-market fit has been established (although both of those are major challenges many new entrepreneurs face). Instead, it’s thinking that you–and you alone–are enough to drive your company to success.

Many entrepreneurs are so excited about their idea that they’re sure they’re the only ones who can do it right. While startup owners do have to wear a lot of hats at the beginning, delegation is an important part of success. If you try to do it all, you’ll burn out and set your company up for failure.

Instead, focus on hiring people who are great in the areas you can’t do so well. Don’t hire clones of yourself–hire people who can fill in your gaps and help you succeed.

Your Customers Don’t Care About Your Product 

At least, they don’t yet. Being the latest and greatest may make you feel good, but until you connect to your customers’ needs and desires, they won’t care at all. “Build it and they will come” only works in movies–you need to connect with the daily lives of your customers if you ever hope to have an impact.

To become successful as a business owner, focus on building customer personas and understanding the true daily lives of your potential customers. Focus your branding and promotion on them, not you, and you’ll find that, eventually, you have all the attention you need.

You’re Going to Fail–and it’s OK

I’m not saying your company is destined to go under. I’m talking about smaller failures. A misstep that costs you funding. A mistake in marketing that sets back sales. Failure to have a good customer service department that responds to issues promptly and encourages client retention.

These things suck, but they happen all the time.

The good news is that these small failures aren’t the end of the line. They’re an important part of the growing process. If you can take them in stride, you’ll be on your way to greater success.

You May Never Make Millions

It takes time to succeed in business. I’ve heard it said that there are years of work behind every “overnight success,” and it’s true. The media may start covering a business suddenly, and it seems as if the company came out of nowhere. It didn’t. The owners toiled in obscurity for years before they hit the limelight.

It’ll be that way for you too. And when your success does come, it may not be millions of dollars. While the entrepreneurial heroes are the ones that sell to Google or Facebook for a major payday, that’s the exception–not the norm. Accept that your success may be smaller, but it’s still valid and worthwhile.

You’ll Be Lonely 

Especially in the beginning, being an entrepreneur can be very lonely. When you haven’t yet built your team, and all you have is an idea and a passion, it’s hard to relate to others who don’t feel the same passion. Those around you may actively discourage your pursuits, requiring you to pull away from the people you’re closest to.

At the same time, the long hours will make it hard to maintain the social and family life you’re used to. It will be an adjustment, but you still need to be sure to invest in your most important relationships–no matter how busy you are. Businesses will come and go, but family and friends aren’t as easily replaceable.

Habits Beat Inspiration Every Day

Inspiration gets you started, but habits keep you going. If you’re going to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to begin developing the right habits immediately. Fiscal responsibility, discipline, and hard work are important. But so are physical health, emotional intelligence, and interpersonal skills.

Being the right person is just as important as hiring the right person. Build your habits now, and they’ll be there to take over for you when inspiration fades.

Nobody said being a successful entrepreneur is easy, but it is worth it. The earlier you get comfortable with these harsh truths of entrepreneurship, the sooner you’ll be on the path to business success.

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4 Entrepreneurs Behind Billion-Dollar Companies Share Their Secrets to Success

The other day, we had the opportunity to attend an event where four founders of billion-dollar companies were speaking in a round-table format discussion, reported Entrepreneur.

Todd Pedersen is the founder of Vivint, a home automation company based in Provo, Utah, that sold to Blackstone for $2 billion. Josh James is the founder of Domo, a business intelligence software company based in American Fork, Utah, which recently raised a $200 million round valuing the company at $2 billion. Ryan Smith is the ounder of Qualtrics, a survey software company based in Provo, Utah and is valued at more than $1 billion. And David Elkington is the founder of InsideSales, a sales software company based in Provo, Utah that recently received a $1.5 billion valuation.

The discussion was centered on their journeys as entrepreneurs, what they’d learned, and the advice they’d give aspiring entrepreneurs. Impressed with their casual demeanors, stellar presentations and informative advice, I thought I’d share with you some of the insights that were gained from these successful entrepreneurs.

Find something that drives you
Entrepreneurs need to be driven by a desire to proves someone wrong.

To demonstrate this point, James told the story of having a cordial conversation with a potential investor who seemed very interested in his first company (Omniture). During the conversation the investor abruptly said, “Where are you based?” James responded that he was located in Utah. He recounted that the investor stopped talking, didn’t say goodbye and simply turned around and walked away.

James described this event in perfect detail, even though it had occurred almost 20 years before.

He could do this because he thought about it often: It was a seminal moment for him. As he stared at the back of the head of the investor as he walked away, he determined that not only would he make his company a success, but he would also work to build the reputation of Utah as a tech hub.

Hire great people, then get out of their way
This was a common point from all four of the entrepreneurs. They told many stories that emphasized the importance of hiring great employees. In fact, they all stressed that it was the single most important thing you can do as a founder of a company.

Pedersen enjoyed poking fun at his experience by describing himself as, “Just some dude who could sell.” While this was an oversimplification of his skillset, it did serve to highlight that he needed to go out and hire people skilled in operations, management, business development and other critical business needs.

While he may have started with a narrow skill set, he quickly expanded upon it by hiring the people who had “been there and done that.”

Don’t work towards an exit
Everyone on the stage reminisced on the times they’d received buy-out offers for their companies. For some it happened early and often, while others only received a handful of offers, but they were significant.

They all felt that entrepreneurs should be working towards a goal you set for your company that doesn’t involve the founder’s exit.

Smith brought up the point that all he thought about for the last seven years was Qualtrics and when he thought about leaving the company through an acquisition, he realized he didn’t want to do anything else except run Qualtrics. So why sell?

James also spoke about the period after he sold his first major venture, Omniture. Once the sale was completed, he became very anxious and wanted to quickly start something new. He realized he wasn’t cut out for the corporate world and would rather be involved in growing another startup.

As entrepreneurs, it’s great to be able to learn from the experiences of other entrepreneurs who have achieved significant levels of success. And while the four aforementioned entrepreneurs shared many more insights, a common thread that ran throughout the presentation was to be aware of your limitations, have goals but most of all be true to yourself and have fun.

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6 Savvy Life Hacks From Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, and More

While it’s true that everyone works differently, the world’s most successful leaders often have one thing in common: Their days are marked by certain rituals, reported Inc.

After all, even Mark Zuckerberg needs a little bit of structure: That’s why his resolution for 2014 was to write handwritten thank-you notes every single day of the year. (He readily admits that it wasn’t easy.) The famed Facebook founder has developed quite the reputation when it comes to personal goal setting: In 2010, he vowed to learn Mandarin Chinese, and in 2011 he only ate meat that he slaughtered himself.

While some of these hacks err more on the side of weird–think Tony Hsieh’s penchant for calling his assistants his “Time Ninjas”–others are probably more familiar to you, like Branson’s affinity for tea and long, hot baths.

These are the top six life hacks from some of the biggest names in business:

1. Commit to getting shuteye.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is probably one of the best-connected executives in the world, so you might be surprised to learn that she also turns off her phone every night before bed. In a 2013 interview with USA Today, the acclaimed Lean In author explained that she needs to unplug completely in order to get a good night’s sleep.

Sandberg is probably onto something here: Studies show that using electronic devices before going to bed can have a detrimental impact on your sleep. Robert Rosenberg, a sleep medicine specialist at Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley, recently told Yahoo News that the blue light given off by your phone screen prevents the production of melatonin in the body, which is the hormone that makes you feel drowsy.

2. Bake some humor into the daily grind.
Tony Hsieh, the founder and CEO of Zappos, may be seriously successful in the e-commerce industry, but he likes to keep things lighthearted around the office. He told The New York Times, for instance, that the top executives are referred to as “monkeys,” and they sit in what’s called “Monkey Row” at Zappos’s Las Vegas headquarters. He added that his favorite part of the workday is joking around with his “Time Ninjas”–or whom everyone else might mundanely call their executive assistants.

3. Switch it up.
Like Hsieh, Richard Branson is known for being a consummate optimist who’s also committed to having fun. To that end, the Virgin Group founder believes that the best routine is not to have one: Writing in his Live Mint column back in September of 2012, Branson advocated for making every single day unique. While he offers a few of his top tips for success–such as taking breaks throughout the day, drinking English tea, or enjoying a long, hot bath to unwind–he ultimately says that an entrepreneur’s most valuable trait is flexibility.

4. Channel your inner Jedi.
In perhaps one of the stranger displays of entrepreneurial zeal, fashion designer and investor Marc Ecko collects Star Wars memorabilia for good luck.

The habit has helped create an image of Ecko that he himself once described to The New York Times Magazine as “a pop-culture Willy Wonka, crossed with Richard Branson.”

Hey, whatever works.

5. Practice mindfulness.
Many have touted the practice of mindfulness meditation, but perhaps few so vehemently as Def Jam creator and business mogul Russell Simmons. Simmons, who meditates every Sunday morning with a transcendental meditation teacher whom he calls “the monk,” has also published a book about meditation called Success Through Stillness, in which he argues that meditating on a regular basis can help you reach your maximum potential.

6. Read voraciously.
Mark Zuckerberg announced in January that his resolution for 2015 would be to read a new book every other week–and not just books about business. The Facebook founder and top executive wants to learn more about different cultures and belief systems. His first selection was The End of Power by Moises Naim. You can follow Zuck’s book club on the Facebook page: A Year of Books.

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The Anatomy of the Deal

“All the functions of the General Agent are interdependent of each other just as the parts of our body.”

One of the privileges I have enjoyed has been the opportunity to work with some of the finest dealers and general agents across the country. Every where these two entities cooperate effectively it creates success. Simply put, they need each other. Just as the human body cannot function at optimum levels unless the different parts are working in sync with each other, neither can the dealer without being in sync with an effective general agent. The day of looking to a general agent as just a product provider is past. Dealers need a true partner that has a forward-looking plan for growing their business.

There are several major functions of the human body that if they fail the body cannot survive. The anatomy of the relationship between the dealer and the general agent will only produce success if several functions are working properly. Let’s take a look at the major functions of the agent that will create healthy success.


Just as the body must take breath in and out consistently or it will die, there must be a consistent intake of information gathered by the agent, which is then exhaled by the implementation of an effective plan to create success in the dealership. The agent has to effectively analyze where the true strengths and weaknesses are in the dealership and must drill down and take in not only the numbers that need addressing but also the attitudes and concepts that may be blocking success.

Once you have inhaled the information to identify the dealers’ needs you can produce an effective strategy that is uniquely suited to them. A general template approach of how to drive production in a dealership will not work. Each market is unique as is each dealership within that market. When a unique profit plan is created the dealer knows they have a true partner on their team and the opportunity to maximize success is created.


The human body has approximately 100,000,000,000 cells. Each cell can independently take in nutrients, convert them into energy, carry out specialized functions, and reproduce as necessary. If cells stop dividing and growing then disease sets in and cancerous cells may form. The agents that are distinguishing themselves in the marketplace are those that provide ongoing growth opportunities. As customers become more resistant to F&I products, dealers must have F&I managers that are growing in their skills and abilities.

Providing cutting edge training that goes beyond the one time class model and provides an ongoing growth track will produce amazing results. The challenge of how to provide effective training and how to justify the cost has puzzled agents for years. However in today’s economy it simply is not possible to enable dealers to reach their maximum potential in profitability without it. Dealers consistently rank training as a top priority to grow their business and the agent that provides it will be top on their list. When F&I managers are not growing they will see the overall health of the department and profits decline. The profits on the outside will never be stronger than the growth that is going on inside the members of the dealership team.


One of the challenges with an illness is the person’s appetite may diminish and make it even more severe. One of the most important functions of the agent is to make the F&I mangers hungry for success. We know F&I managers are driven by the rewards of reaching top levels of performance. I have found they are driven by both an effective pay plan and also by being the best and excelling in light of their peers. Clearly communicating to an F&I manager their potential so that they can see themselves performing more effectively is a key to creating the hunger needed to drive performance.

The effectiveness of an F&I manager is multiplied when growth opportunities and motivation are both present. Giving people the means to grow without the motivation needed is unhealthy and tragic. Everyone at some point will have the inner fire go out. The day-to-day struggle to consistently produce results can cause the energy that produced last month’s results to wane. The only way to motivate a team consistently is to be in regular face to face contact with them. These motivating encounters can challenge and produce the hunger needed to turn performance around and be a game changer. All dealers are looking for results and the key to making that happen month after month is to assure that the structure from pay plan to work schedules is accompanied by the motivation that creates the hunger that produces results.


In the words of the famous film the Lion King “It’s the Circle of Life, and it moves us all.” Our bodies are made to provide for the perpetuation of our families. An agent’s offering is not complete without creating a perpetuation plan within the dealership that will properly identify potential in current team members and where they might function more effectively in the days ahead. A dealership that provides consistent success will need to replace, promote or add members to their team. The first place they look for help is the agent. Many times moving the best F&I manager to a sales manager’s position can only assure that you just lost your best F&I manager! The perspective that the agent has is invaluable in this process and can avoid personnel moves that are counter productive and create positive ones that will fuel more growth.

A consistent analysis of the dealership to develop a strategic plan to maximize profits coupled with consistent growth opportunities and the motivation to produce at optimum levels is what dealers need and expect. Agents that provide a well-balanced effort with all the parts functioning effectively will create a healthy dealership team and long-term partners and success.

One of the main reasons for the great success of Apple Computers has been their ability to stay one step ahead of the customer and identify what they will need and want before they even know they need it. Knowing what product, change in process or personnel move is needed even before the dealer knows they need it will enable an agent to assure the dealer that they will always be on the cutting edge of sales and profitability and that they have a partner that is not only getting their business, but growing their business.

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Steve Jobs and the Seven Rules of Success

Steve Jobs’ impact on your life cannot be overestimated. His innovations have likely touched nearly every aspect — computers, movies, music and mobile. As a communications coach, I learned from Jobs that a presentation can, indeed, inspire. For entrepreneurs, Jobs’ greatest legacy is the set of principles that drove his success.

Over the years, I’ve become a student of sorts of Jobs’ career and life. Here’s my take on the rules and values underpinning his success. Any of us can adopt them to unleash our “inner Steve Jobs.”

1. Do what you love. Jobs once said, “People with passion can change the world for the better.” Asked about the advice he would offer would-be entrepreneurs, he said, “I’d get a job as a busboy or something until I figured out what I was really passionate about.” That’s how much it meant to him. Passion is everything.

2. Put a dent in the universe. Jobs believed in the power of vision. He once asked then-Pepsi President, John Sculley, “Do you want to spend your life selling sugar water or do you want to change the world?” Don’t lose sight of the big vision.

3. Make connections. Jobs once said creativity is connecting things. He meant that people with a broad set of life experiences can often see things that others miss. He took calligraphy classes that didn’t have any practical use in his life — until he built the Macintosh. Jobs traveled to India and Asia. He studied design and hospitality. Don’t live in a bubble. Connect ideas from different fields.

4. Say no to 1,000 things. Jobs was as proud of what Apple chose not to do as he was of what Apple did. When he returned in Apple in 1997, he took a company with 350 products and reduced them to 10 products in a two-year period. Why? So he could put the “A-Team” on each product. What are you saying “no” to?

5. Create insanely different experiences. Jobs also sought innovation in the customer-service experience. When he first came up with the concept for the Apple Stores, he said they would be different because instead of just moving boxes, the stores would enrich lives. Everything about the experience you have when you walk into an Apple store is intended to enrich your life and to create an emotional connection between you and the Apple brand. What are you doing to enrich the lives of your customers?

6. Master the message. You can have the greatest idea in the world, but if you can’t communicate your ideas, it doesn’t matter. Jobs was the world’s greatest corporate storyteller. Instead of simply delivering a presentation like most people do, he informed, he educated, he inspired and he entertained, all in one presentation.

7. Sell dreams, not products. Jobs captured our imagination because he really understood his customer. He knew that tablets would not capture our imaginations if they were too complicated. The result? One button on the front of an iPad. It’s so simple, a 2-year-old can use it. Your customers don’t care about your product. They care about themselves, their hopes, their ambitions. Jobs taught us that if you help your customers reach their dreams, you’ll win them over.

There’s one story that I think sums up Jobs’ career at Apple. An executive who had the job of reinventing the Disney Store once called up Jobs and asked for advice. His counsel? Dream bigger. I think that’s the best advice he could leave us with. See genius in your craziness, believe in yourself, believe in your vision, and be constantly prepared to defend those ideas.

This article was written by Carmine Gallo and published in Entrepreneur magazine.

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