Category Archives: Success Wisdom

9 Easy-To-Steal Habits Of The Super Successful – by Miles Kohrman

We wish there was a handbook for success, but there isn’t. Here’s the next best thing: a list of ways you can realize your dreams–and be a more productive person in the process.

Wouldn’t it be great if success was simple?

But it isn’t.

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer for success in work and life, but we will do our best to steer you in the right direction.

Here’s a list of helpful habits of some highly successful–and wildly productive–people to get your started. On your mark, get set, and…

1. Get up insanely early.

It sounds scary, we know, but consider what would happen if instead of watching reruns of bad movies at night, you went to bed at a reasonable hour, thus allowing yourself to wake up early and be SUPER productive?

Waking up before anybody else allows you to work out the logistics of the day to come, track your time, and (most importantly) unplug for a few hours.

Take Paul Dejoe, who gets up at 4 a.m. (you heard that right) for maximum productivity:

“What I was depriving myself from was time in the day where there was no pressure and no expectations. For the same reasons that I felt most creative on Saturday mornings and on planes, 4 a.m. has become a place of productive peace. That feeling is why I love what I do. I don’t need a vacation. I don’t need to step away. I just need a couple hours a day before anyone else is up.”

After all, the early bird catches the worm–and much more, apparently.

2. Keep promises, no matter how small.

Talk is cheap and meaningful customer relationships are built on promises. Same goes for your personal life, right?

Well, maybe.

Success is built on mutually trusting relationships with just about everybody. If you say you’re going to walk the office dog? Well, you’d best walk the office dog.

3. Learn how to tell stories.

You want to be successful in life, but you don’t have a job, or you’re looking for a new one. The first step to nail that dream job? Learn how to tell a great story–starting with your interview.

Big companies know storytelling is the secret weapon to “branding.” Why? Because people don’t fall in love with data dumps and PowerPoint slides–they are moved by emotions.

And for those looking to be in charge, the best–and most memorable–way to make an impact and stick in people’s minds is to ditch the small talk, and learn how to unspool meaningful narratives.

4. Lead, don’t dictate.

There’s a big difference between being a leader and being a boss.


5. Don’t be afraid–or embarrassed–of your failures.

Sir James Dyson, creator of the famous Dyson vacuum (who recently came by and vacuumed the Fast Company offices), is no stranger to failure. In fact, he embraces it.

“I made 5,127 prototypes of my vacuum before I got it right. There were 5,126 failures. But I learned from each one. That’s how I came up with a solution. So I don’t mind failure. I’ve always thought that schoolchildren should be marked by the number of failures they’ve had. The child who tries strange things and experiences lots of failures to get there is probably more creative.”

Dyson’s point: If you want to discover something new, you’re bound to fail a few times (or in his case, 5,126 times), and that’s okay. It’s also okay to quit something your heart isn’t into, in order to get somewhere better.

6. Ask questions, a lot of them.

It turns out Albert Einstein would have made a great entrepreneur:

To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.

Every company needs to pause occasionally for self-reflection.

What is your purpose on earth? What should you stop doing? What is your petri dish? You’ve got all the answers, right?

7. Be honest–with yourself and others.

Remember what we said about asking questions? Here’s a hard one: Are you passionate, or delusional?

Delusion is a double-edged sword. When it comes to productivity, tricking yourself can be your best move, but if your career is hurting other (more important) aspects of your life it might be time to re-evaluate your priorities.

Truth be told, I think the difference between passion and delusion isn’t even very distinguishable. I suspect many an entrepreneur has fallen too far down the rabbit hole without even realizing it. It happened to me. Maxed-out credit cards, empty cupboards, and a frustrated spouse helped me wake up to the delusion I created in myself. I was laser-focused on the belief I had to succeed no matter what, which led me to lose sight of reality. My story fortunately has a happy ending. But if I hadn’t faced that reality head-on (and it did indeed feel like a crash), I wouldn’t have been able to honestly evaluate my business and redirect toward a healthier course.

8. Take breaks.

Here at Fast Company, we devoted an entire month to Unplugging, or taking a breather from the endless hum of the digital world.

You don’t have to completely unplug, but the effects of removing yourself for a few days, hours, or even weeks, can do wonders for your sanity and enable you to refocus your aspirations.

A perfect example: Stuck on an idea? Take a walk.

9. Take notes and stay organized.

If you’re trying to delve deeper than surface level engagement, try taking notes.

It might sound silly, but put some genuine effort into it–note-taking is an important key to keeping your mind organized, and understanding better what it is you’re after.

And with that, we bid adieu. If you have any habits that we’ve missed or should know about (like everyone else, we want to be more productive!), please share them with us in the comments. Meantime, check in here, for the latest tips and tricks for success.

Miles Kohrman is an Editorial Intern at


Behind Every Opportunity

Do you see difficulty behind every opportunity, or opportunity behind every difficulty?

Success Questions To Consider

As we’re striving to reach our goals and succeed, I think that it’s important to consider what succeeding really is for us, what it takes and what we can do differently. As such, I’ve prepared these questions.

How do I define success?

What challenges impede me from reaching the level of success I desire?

What skills do I need to enhance in order to achieve my goals?

What motivates or drives me to be a successful person?

What has been my greatest success thus far?

What haven’t I achieved that I must in order to say that my life is “successful?”

When do I feel most successful and why?

What am I willing to change to create the success I’m seeking?

What do I do well that continues to assure my success?

What am I tolerating that is standing in the way of my success?

What beliefs must I hold or change to maintain a “success” mindset?

What behaviors must I change or improve to create the results I seek?

To achieve success, am I open to suggestions, ideas and challenges from other people?

How can I best utilize a professional strategist or coach to help me achieve my goals?

Am I willing to take the action steps needed to achieve my goals and objectives?


Hiring a Professional Placement Firm

Periodically, I’m asked to answer a question submitted to the Arizona Republic newspaper by readers of its Career Builder section. The answers I provide are featured in the “Ask The Experts” column of that section. Following is a recently published Q & A.


“The company I worked for recently closed their doors, and for the first time in my 20-year management career, I need to look for a job.  Recruiters I’ve talked with want $5,000 to tell you how to dress and talk – that’s not a placement service!  Are there recruiting firms that really do recruit and don’t play games?”


Yes, there are recruiters out there who really do recruit and don’t play games. In fact, they won’t charge you a thing.

Many reputable recruiters are paid by the employer for whom they are recruiting qualified candidates. Often times the employer will contract with the recruiter to fill a specific job. That’s the case with Phoenix Staff (, a local professional placement firm. According to Gina Nelson, a Phoenix Staff Senior Recruiter, in addition to active recruitment, candidates are coached to successfully present themselves to prospective employers – at no charge to the candidate. Gina says, “If a recruiter asks for a dime, walk away.”

In some cases where a candidate doesn’t have an appropriate resume, the recruiter will refer the candidate to a resume writer to assist with that. In that case, the candidate would pay several hundred dollars at the most, which is much better than $5000.00.

Muddling vs. Managing

Even when things seem fairly “normal” in our business lives, it can still be challenging to stay focused on our goals and objectives. So in times like these when many in the real estate industry are experiencing change, the challenge is even greater.

When things aren’t going as planned, we can often react by muddling rather than managing our way through. And as we’re thinking or acting in this confused or aimless manner, our productivity falters, making matters even worse.

If you’re finding yourself bogged down in a puddle of muddle, here are some tips to get you back on track:

  1. Get honest about your expectations. Confusion often comes from disappointment resulting from unmet expectations.
  2. Revisit your goals. Adjust, clarify and recommit to them.
  3. Rewrite your business plan. Just because it has changed, it doesn’t mean that you don’t need one. You still do.
  4. Maintain a positive attitude. Remember – this too shall pass.
  5. Communicate. If you’re a leader, let your people know what’s going on and where you’re headed. If you’re an  employee, communicate your needs and your willingness to do what it takes to adapt.

We all muddle a bit from time to time – that’s natural. But you don’t have to stay there. Take some time to shift your perspective, and get back to proactively managing your way to achieving your goals and objectives.

Doing It On Purpose

In these times of change and uncertainty in the market, lots of people may be asking themselves – “Why am I doing this?” “Why did I get into this business in the first place?”

My sense is that if you lack a clear purpose, or if you’ve simply forgotten what your purpose is in doing what you’ve set out to do, you’ll be asking this question a lot!

People who are clear about their purpose in life, rarely, if ever, get frustrated with “circumstances” because they are clear about why they are doing what they are doing.

People who have a clear purpose are more adept at dealing with change, unmet expectations and missed opportunity.

Although recognition and material accumulation are measures of success, real purpose goes beyond fame and fortune. I believe that purpose is about values. 

If you’re currently dissatisfied, disappointed or disgusted, it will help to think about your purpose.


Tips to Improve Your Productivity

If you’re anything like me, you probably have a monstrous list of things that you want to accomplish. And as you’ve embarked upon tackling your list, you’ve likely become overwhelmed at times with all that you want and need to do.

Overwhelm is obviously not a good thing, because it actually stymies our productivity. When we’re overwhelmed, we often become immobilized and can feel stressed and trapped.

Well, what should I do, you ask?

  1. Breathe. It’s all going to be ok.
  2. Don’t over-analyze it. In the scheme of life, they are just “things” to do – not weapons of mass destruction.
  3. Set priorities. What are the most urgent and important things needing attention today?
  4. Take consistent action. That means, keep moving!
  5. Reward yourself. Allow for free time, fun, etc. Even though you may already be behind, balance is still important.

When you take a step back, set priorities and then act, you will be more productive. And in the process, you’ll enjoy a greater sense of accomplishment, and ultimately greater satisfaction and reward.