yodaYou need many Yodas in your life and in your career. You need mentors and you need to mentor others in order to reinforce what your core beliefs or critical career and life success factors are.

Make sure that your Yodas (or mentors) are in a position that you want to be in one day. Are they successful professionally? More importantly, are they successful personally? Did they achieve a great work/life balance? Are some of their past accomplishments your future goals? Can you trust them? Do you enjoy their company? Can they offer you constructive criticism so that they can help you to seek continuous improvement?

It is extraordinarily rare for an executive to rise to the top of any organization or for any entrepreneur to be wildly successful without many mentors. Hewlett mentored Steve Jobs and Steve Jobs paid it forward too by mentoring Marc Benioff from Salesforce, which is now the largest employer in San Francisco.

Behind almost every single successful business person is a great spouse. You are a team and you have likely only gotten to where you are in life because of their mentoring. Listen to them and thank them often especially this Thanksgiving weekend as they are also one of your Yodas. I often read my emails that I am composing to my wife Christine before sending them. Her feedback always rocks.

Your spouse knows what makes you happy in business. Remind them often what your business passions are. In return, they will remind you what you love in life and reinforce and hence help guide and remind you what you are on this earth to accomplish in business. What is your purpose?

Your spouse is your ultimate confidant and life coach. Only your spouse can tell you if what you are wearing went out of style 80 years ago! Only your spouse can tell you that you sound too arrogant when practicing a corporate presentation. Only your spouse can remind you why you wanted to work in the industry you currently work in. Only your spouse can help you achieve your long term goals. So thank your spouse often as you will never get a better life coach / Yoda.

Give and you shall receive. This statement has been true since the beginning of time; those that are generous with their time and mentor others are much more successful than those that are not. Why? First of all it is the right thing to do as others helped you to get to where you are today, but by mentoring others you also reinforce your core beliefs and remind yourself what the drivers of success are.

I am so honored and so humbled to be on the board of a wonderful charity called the LEMO Foundation, whose mission is to eradicate poverty through scholarships to those that are less fortunate. LEMO’s core mission statement is brilliant: “Don’t expect to accomplish your dreams unless you help others accomplish their dreams.” I love that; so prophetic and so true! Some call it karma and others call it paying it forward. Everyone should seek mentors and mentor others; you will be much more successful in the long run if you practice what you preach.

People are flattered when you ask them to mentor you. They almost always say yes when you ask them. Ask and you shall receive mentors. They will help you achieve your goals in life. More importantly, there is nothing more satisfying in life than watching people that you mentor become incredibly successful. This is worth repeating: “Don’t expect to accomplish your dreams unless you help others accomplish their dreams.”

jeter

A major reason for baseball icon Derek Jeter’s success in every aspect of his life was because his parents made him write down his goals every single year. You need to write down your goals and update them often. If you do, the chances of you achieving your dreams rises materially; most of your competitors won’t bother doing this!

In 1953 there was a famous study conducted at Yale University. The graduating class was asked if they had written down their goals. Only 3% had done so. Then 20 years later, a poll was taken and the graduating students from the class of 1953 were asked what their net worth was. The net worth of the 3% that had written down their goals was greater than the other 97% combined!

Write down your goals in your smart phone’s calendar and have this calendar entry be repeated daily. Tell your friends or family members what your long term goals are so that it forces you to work towards them and think of your goals often. Consider writing your goals down on paper and then placing them in a sealed and stamped envelope with your address on the envelope. Then give the envelope to a good friend or family member and tell them to mail the letter in 6 months or 1 year.

Think of the most ambitious goal you can achieve in your life. Don’t ask yourself if it is achievable; of course it is. Rather, ask yourself what you need to accomplish in order to make this goal a reality. Make a rudimentary gap analysis. Once you know what your goal is then focus on filling the gap, meaning what you need to accomplish in order to make this goal a reality.

When you first think of an incredibly ambitious goal, you are so fired up and excited to start the journey. Before you start the journey you can clearly see the top of the mountain, which is a metaphor for your goal.

Once you embark upon your journey you are full of energy and excitement as with each step you get closer and closer to your goal. Then much later in the journey you become frustrated as you can no longer see the top of the mountain. As a result, your pace deviates a bit and is perhaps slower than it once was.

You wonder what happened to my goal? Why can’t I see the top of the mountain anymore? Well the reason is simple; the reason is that you are half way up the mountain and can’t see the top of the mountain. Rest assured, your goal is within reach. Finish what you started, be long term greedy and reap the rewards.

Set a goal so big that you can’t achieve it until you become the person that actually can achieve it. Update these goals often and I promise you will wake up one day and realize that you accomplished all of your goals and more.

We often overestimate what we can accomplish in a year but we significantly underestimate what we can accomplish in a decade. Please write down your short and long term goals and watch your career take off!

frust

If you have a high level of professional frustration in your life then this is a gift to you. It’s a gift to you because you are not professionally doing what you are most passionate about.

It’s perfectly normal to be frustrated in business. The fun part is figuring out what you love doing in life and what your business purpose is in life. What were you put on this earth to accomplish professionally? How many lives could you help improve if you accomplished your business goals? What would it take for you to no longer feel professionally frustrated?

Find humor in stressful and frustrating business situations and you will live a much longer and happier life! Self-deprecation is an admirable trait. Finding humor in frustration instantly changes your state and helps you to focus on turning a crisis into an opportunity. Rather than be depressed given a perceived failure or frustration, smile and cheer up because your future incredible success in business is a result of that failure. You will be grateful later in life that you ‘failed’.

There are so many amazing examples of executives that have failed or have been fired which forced them to realize their dreams by starting their own company. Frustration often leads to breakthroughs in your career.

Here are some incredibly inspirational examples of people that were fired. Thank goodness they were or we wouldn’t enjoy the benefits of their future business empire creations:

  1. Tomas Edison was fired by Western Union.
  2. Michael Bloomberg was fired which made him get his revenge by starting his financial empire Bloomberg. Without getting fired he wouldn’t have ever become the Mayor of New York.
  3. J K Rowling hated her job as an administrative assistant. She quit and found her passion, which was writing the Harry Potter books.
  4. Walt Disney was fired by a publication he worked for.
  5. Madonna was fired from Dunkin Donuts
  6. Robert Redford was fired from an oil company.
  7. Lee Iacocca was fired from Ford. So he turned around and led Chrysler.

All these amazing people lost their jobs because of a lack of passion or because of frustration with their careers. They then became incredibly successful because they focused on their passion.

What is your calling? What is your raison d’être? Find your passion and you will always be happy in business and in life. If you feel suffocated in your current job, then find your passion, write a business plan and quit.

Frustration leads to breakthroughs.

Frustration leads to reinvention.

Embrace it.

Find your professional passion and end your frustration; welcome to the new you.

When to Change Careers

Posted by chris_haroun@hotmail.com | Life On Your Terms : )

 

frust

If you get up in the morning and tell yourself that you are going to work, then you are doing it wrong; you need to change careers. Find out what your passion is. Find out what you were put on this earth to accomplish. It certainly isn’t to make a lot of money. Don’t worry, odds are that if what you are doing in life is your passion, then compensation will never be an issue. What is your calling?
Success does not lead to happiness; rather, happiness, leads to success. In venture capital when deciding what companies to invest in, we don’t look for founders that want to be rich. Rather, we look for passionate entrepreneurs that want to put a dent in the universe. This is their calling. This is their reason d’être.

Don’t worry about money early in your career; if you follow your passion, then everything else will fall into place. Many of my business students want to become investment bankers but then they hate it and they are miserable once they start. Focus on what you love doing most in life. The best entrepreneurs don’t have a job; they have a passion. Superb examples of passionate entrepreneurs include Sir Richard Branson of Virgin, Mark Benioff of Salesforce, Christian Chabot of Tableau and of course Steve Jobs. The best CEOs and businesspeople in the world are passionate salespeople.

What is your passion? Ask yourself this question “who is a rock star to me but is not a musician?” Sounds out there I know, but for me when I was younger it was Bill Gates….so my passion then as it is now is software!

Don’t ever focus on money as your primary career goal or you will never have a happy existence; you will never feel fulfilled. Here is a wonderful quote by the Dalai Lama on this topic:

“Man…sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

Don’t have regrets later in life. Change careers if it will make you a happier person. It’s never too late to start over.

Take that Walk & Ponder a Career Change!

Some of the best decisions in life are made on long walks. Steve Jobs used to go on long walks with his friend, Oracle founder Larry Ellison. All US Presidents needed R&R at Camp David to go on long walks to come up with impactful decisions.

Go on at least one long walk per week in order to clear your thoughts and assess where you are in life. When you have a critical decision that needs to be made in life, take a long walk and decide what to do, especially when it comes to your career.

When I worked in the consulting industry, I wasn’t passionate about what I was doing and I thought maybe an MBA might help? I played a round of golf alone and in between holes, I wrote down the pros and cons on going to business school on two separate pieces of paper. I then put a score out of ten next to each criteria; 10 was the highest score and 1 was the lowest score. I then added up the scores. The total score on the pros card outweighed the total score on the cons page.

That long walk on the golf course that day in 1997 changed my life.

Should I go Back to School?

Should you bother getting a graduate business or law or engineering or other degrees? Only if you need another degree in order to change careers. Only if getting a graduate degree will likely get you closer to your goals.

When Changing Careers Remember that ‘Nobody is Smarter than You!”

Please accept that fact that everything around you in business was created by people that are no smarter than you. I am not asking you to be arrogant. Rather, I am asking you to materially increase your confidence by accepting the fact that you are the smartest person in the world.

Why am I making such an outrageous request? Because if you believe it then you can accomplish any goal that you create in life regardless of how unrealistic others think it is. Actually, who cares what others think anyway!

Quite often the reason people are not successful in business or don’t change careers is because they are not confident enough to accomplish their goals.

 

pencilCan I do it? People Say I Can’t. Avoid ‘those” People

Don’t let them get you down. That’s right. If you can, going forward disassociate yourself with negative people. Friends with negative attitudes are often not worth having. Surround yourself with positive people that believe there are no limits to what they and you can achieve. Surround yourself with people that are incredibly successful as their success, confidence and positive outlook on business and life will rub off on you and vice versa.

Surround yourself with positive people and the chances of you being extraordinarily successful in changing careers rises 1,000,000%. I have never met a successful entrepreneur, investor or CEO that doesn’t have a positive attitude. Richard Branson is the quintessential example of a positive role model. I believe that his cheerful and positive outlook in life and business is the primary reason for his incredible success.  His positive attitude is the cornerstone of the happy and positive corporate culture at all of his Virgin companies. Try flying Virgin America or Virgin Atlantic or one day Virgin Galactic and observe how amazing the attitude is of all of his employees. A company with an incredibly positive corporate culture will no doubt be much more successful than a company filled with negative people. A negative person would never consider launching a galactic service or taking on the airline industry. Richard Branson clearly avoids hiring “those” people.

I am a firm believer in letting our children do and be anything they want to be in life. Gone are the days of telling children to be doctors or lawyers. It’s their lives so they should just do what they are most passionate about. Steve Jobs was passionate about calligraphy and my kids enjoy legos and Minecraft. They can be anything they want to be. My goal is to make sure they do what they are most passionate about in life.

Why are Technology Employees More Passionate than Other Sectors When it Comes to their Careers?

It certainly is fascinating how much innovation has come out of the technology sector versus other sectors. Why is this the case? It is partially due to passionate software engine
ers that never saw the profession as a job. Lawyers see their daily activities as jobs and the same can be said for most people in other professions, which is why most non-tech industries pale in innovation advancement, by comparison.

In technology it is astonishing how a great engineer can be 10 times as productive as an average engineer. Why is this the case? Because the best engineers love what they do! This is more apparent in the technology industry than any other industry, which is why there are so many passionate CEOs like Marc Benioff in the sector. I bet that none of the parents of technology innovators urged them to be a programmer when they were younger!

Can Someone be too Old to Change Careers?

No darn way! When I was a kid I remember seeing commercials in Canada on TV for ‘Freedom 55’, which was a retirement savings company. Then as I got older, this age became 65 for those eligible to receive social security benefits. This age is slowly increasing. It’s ludicrous that people retire in their 60s or 70s. Heck, I know of many people in their 80s that are much sharper than I am.

We are on the cusp of a biotech and healthcare renaissance were we will see the eradication of many diseases in the next few decades. I think most people alive today will live to be more than 100 if they take care of themselves. I know in my heart that at some point in my life people will live to 150+ years old.

With this in mind, why would you want to retire in your 60s when you have another 100 potential years? You are never too old to start a new career or start a new company. Anybody that thinks otherwise is guilty in my humble opinion of age discrimination. It doesn’t matter how old or young you are, leverage your network and reinvent yourself over and over again until you find your passion!

Ok are You Ready to Do this?

Condition yourself to embrace change and enjoy the process. This will help you deal with the perceived stress and profit from adversity while you change careers. If you feel stressed when you start embarking upon the next [augmented] chapter of your life, ask yourself in business “what is positive about this event and how can I enjoy and benefit from it?”

kidThe belief that anything is possible leads to amazing accomplishments.

The glass is not empty.

The glass is not half empty.

The glass is not half full.

The glass is ALWAYS full!

You are never too old to start over. Successfully changing careers is based on having an unbelievably positive attitude. You be you. Welcome to the new you!

Originally published on 2/23/16 in Inc. Magazine at:  http://www.inc.com/chris-haroun/3-daily-habits-that-will-make-you-more-successful.html

The most important investment you will ever make is you. Follow these tips to take your career to the next level.

picturesque green field and blue sky

You are your biggest investment. Don’t be cheap when it comes to education, health and self-improvement. Continuous improvement is of paramount importance when it comes to your success in business or in life in general.

The best way to invest in you is to always spend more than you think you can afford on education, including degrees, online education, books, audio books, podcasts etc (whatever it takes). You do have time to read. Yes you do; you can listen to audio books during your commute to work or at the gym.

1. Watch, Read, Listen and Learn: 

Most online lectures are free and my favorites are inspiring Ted Talks. If you have Wi-Fi and a stationary bike at home you can watch online courses on Udemy.com or even on YouTube.

Be a voracious reader. Read as many books as you can on successful business people and humanitarians. What are their secrets? Learn from them and watch your career take off.

Invest in a subscription to Audible.com for $15 per month and listen to biographies of successful entrepreneurs. I recently listened to audible books from Marc Benioff, Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and many more.

I have always been a voracious reader of biographies of successful people. I love learning from them. What are their recipes for success? How did they do it? Did they lead a well-balanced life on the road to their success?

2. Follow Your Heroes:

Use Twitter to follow your business heroes. They often tweet incredibly motivational quotes that resonate well with me. I love their short snippets of optimism, hope and best practices.

I find it incredibly motivating to know as much as I can about these successful people as most of them came from very uncompromising backgrounds. I love the poor, smart and hungry rags to riches stories. I feel empowered when thinking about them; there are no limits to what you can achieve. These people are no smarter than you are; this video will change your life:

I Have Never Met a Successful Person With…

You will never meet a successful person with a negative attitude. If they didn’t believe in themselves and in their goals, then they would never have been successful; the quintessential example of this is Richard Branson. I just finished his latest audio book and my goodness does he ever have an amazing positive attitude.

What I have learned from most of the audio books that I have completed on successful people is that the secret of their success is that they all believe that there are no limits to what you can achieve! Keep a journal and write down what made them successful.

3. Write Down Your Goals

The probability of you being incredibly successful rises materially if you simply write down your goals. I write mine in my calendar application on my iPhone as a 6am repeatable calendar entry. When I wake up every day, the first thing I see on my iPhone is that 6am goal calendar entry which makes me want to jump out of bed and have fun working towards achieving my goals.

Successful entrepreneurs have their partners and employees also document all of their goals. A great example of this is Jeff Bezos as he has all of his product managers write a press release that will not be published for at least a year. This way his product managers can focus on filling the gap and making the press release and their goals a reality.

There are countless other amazing examples of simple goal setting strategies from successful people; my favorite one is from Derek Jeter. My son is a huge Derek Jeter fan (I love the Blue Jays but heck Jeter is a great role model). My son read Jeter’s book called “The Contract.” In the book he wrote that the reason for his success was that his parents made him write a simple one page contract every year from a young age.

Jeter’s Contracts with his parents included basic goals, like “I will do well in school, I will do my chores, I will practice baseball, etc.” My son has his goals on his wall now. My wife was even cool with the scotch tape he used on the wall!

The most important investment you will ever make is you! Write down your goals, be a voracious reader of published works, watch online videos and follow twitter feeds written by or written on your business and humanitarian heroes. Follow their success blueprints and one day others will follow and read about you as part of the most important investment they ever make.

Originally published in Inc. Magazine: http://www.inc.com/chris-haroun/steve-jobs-winning-sales-strategy-ask-and-you-shall-receive.html

Steve Jobs had one simple sales strategy to get anything he wanted.

Many of us use iPhones and iPads and other Apple products because of one simple business and life strategy that Steve Jobs practiced from a very young age:  “Ask and you shall receive.”

This short YouTube video will change your life:

Steve Jobs never had issues reaching out and asking for help from strangers. You will be amazed how many people want to help you if you just ask! Fortunately, not many people do this.

When Steve Jobs was only 12 years old he called Bill Hewlett from Hewlett Packard. The young Steve Jobs asked Bill Hewlett if he could give Steve spare parts for a device that he was creating. Hewlett laughed and not only gave him the spare parts, but gave Steve Jobs a job!

Many of us are too shy or we think that it is outside of our comfort zone to ask for help, especially from strangers. Culturally it feels uncomfortable for many people to ask for help or ask strangers for something. You need to do this often.

So in this day and age of social media, how do we successfully ask for help?

It’s much easier than you think. If you are not already a LinkedIn subscriber, please sign up for the premium version; do an advanced search and find people with something in common with you. If you are from Bombay but live in the United States and live in New York, enter Bombay in LinkedIn and then the zip code that you live in.

Then send an “inMail” message in LinkedIn with a very short message as follows:

John,

Hope all is well. I am also from Bombay and I also live in New York. Please let me know if you have time for a coffee in the next few weeks.

Thanks a lot,
Chris

Yes it is that easy! People want to help, especially the farther away you get from the place you grew up in. You can also reach people by leveraging your school as follows:

Matt,

Hope all is well. I also went to McGill University and I also live in Miami. Please let me know if you have time for a coffee in the next few weeks.

Thanks a lot,
Chris

Trust me – this works! My success rate on getting meetings with strangers using LinkedIn has always been very high. Why? Because I ask often and most people don’t.

In addition to working in venture capital, I am a professor during the evenings. My students that always get the jobs of their dreams are the ones that set up many informational meetings via LinkedIn.

Most people never get promotions or a raise unless they ask. Many of us think that if we work hard, then we will eventually get rewarded for our efforts. Ask and I promise you that you will get raises or promotions more often.

This works exceptionally well. Please try it! It works because very few people do it. Too many people today use email which is why it is not an effective tool to set up meetings.

LinkedIn inMails work; I promise you that you will be amazed at the outcome! People want to help you! Simply ask like Steve Jobs did and you shall receive.