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5 Ways to Become More Confident

Do you struggle with confidence in yourself? Many of us do, and that’s not inherently a terrible thing. The side effects, however, can be quite tarnishing.
 
Have you ever been around someone who is constantly pessimistic, always blames others for their actions, or is always cutting people down through vitriolic speech? These are all signs of someone who is not confident in themselves, which leads to some pretty unfortunate characteristics and qualities.
 
I tried to take a bit of a nuanced approach with this, meaning I don’t just want to look at the surface reasons behind lack of confidence, but rather dive deep into understanding the root causes. In roughly 1,000 words, I’ve tried my best to give you 5 ways to become more confident:
 

  • Get comfortable with being uncomfortable

If you want to become more confident, then things are going to have to change. Those “things” will be different for different people, but this is point #1 because you must be willing to change before you can adopt other ideas.

You have to have the inner desire to become a better version of yourself. You have to accept the fact that you have everything you need inside of you to be more confident, but also accept that you may have to be uncomfortable for a while in order to try new things, learn, and grow.

Being uncomfortable is a stimulus for growth! Check out one of my favorite illustrations on this topic by Abraham Twerski.

  • Reflect on criticism, whether it’s constructive or not

There are few things which hurt the ego worse than being criticized, especially when it doesn’t come in the form of a loving, constructive conversation. Whenever we are met with harsh criticism, our immediate instinct is to go on the defensive, and completely dismiss what the other person is saying.

While it is probably true that anyone who yells at you for your shortcomings has issues of their own, I have learned that reflecting on these criticisms, regardless of their tone, helps me in the long run. I say this because you can always find a little truth in what an angry person says about you, whether that be about YOU or THEM.

Let’s say a friend walks up to you and calls you an “idiot”, saying that you never listen to anything they have to say. Right from the beginning, it’s very easy to jump right back and call them an idiot, too. However, it’s much better for you to reflect on the statement.

First reflection: Is it true? Do I actually tend to not listen to what this friend says? If true, then imagine how worthless that makes them feel. Empathize!

Deeper reflection: If you believe that statement to be completely false, then why did said friend feel that strongly about the subject? Could it be that, even though you are listening, your body language tells a different story? Your friend doesn’t think you care, and that feeling is very real to them.

See how that works? Working on yourself gives you confidence.

  • Get your body and mind “in shape”

It is not surprising to think that many people lack confidence because they are overweight or don’t feel as intelligent as their peers. As you’ve read before, I was roughly 50 lbs. overweight in college, and it absolutely caused me to lack confidence in the physical sense.

If you want a fool-proof way to boost your confidence, get in the gym and start eating better! Your body will look better, but more importantly, you will also feel much better. Consistent exercise will help you get in shape, but many of us underestimate how many positive side effects it has on our mind.

Heidi Godman, the Executive Editor for the Harvard Health Letter, wrote about some of the benefits regular exercise has on our brain.

  • Allow facts to shape your opinions, not vice versa

Continuing with the idea that our mental health has a huge impact on our confidence, we should also always strive to have our opinions backed by data, not have data backed by our own opinions.

Raise your hand if you know someone who holds their opinion above obvious fact or reason? I’d imagine that almost 100% of us could raise our hand because unfortunately, it is just so common. What’s even less fortunate is that sometimes the people with the least amount of facts or evidence can be the loudest and show the most confidence (or ‘unfounded confidence’, that is).

If you want to immediately boost your confidence (and at the same time have a good understanding of how little we actually know), start consuming various styles of content which better inform you on topics you don’t understand. The beautiful thing is that confidence doesn’t just come from the actual knowledge you are gaining, but rather the process of attaining it. The more we learn, the more we realize how much we don’t know (I’ll credit Einstein for that one). Confidence doesn’t mean knowing everything, it means understanding that we know almost nothing, and yet having positive and pure intentions as we seek knowledge and growth.

  • Eliminate negative people from your life

 
Read this section twice. Live it, breathe it, meditate on it, and repeat. Fact: If you want to maximize the amount of confidence in your life, then you MUST eliminate negative people. Seriously, drop them. Don’t stop being nice to them, you should be nice to everyone. But getting food or drinks with them? Nope, you should pass.
 
Negativity breeds negativity, and a negative outlook on life pretty much makes it impossible for you to gain confidence. When everything is always “no” rather than “yes”, you never have the opportunity to grow as a person. You need to be saying “yes” far more often than “no” when you’re trying new things and expanding your horizons, and that’s going to be quite challenging when Negative Nancy is breathing her momentum-killing words into your ears.
 
We all struggle with confidence for different reasons- maybe it’s because of your unfortunate childhood or home life, maybe it’s because you don’t think you’re ‘good enough’, or maybe you’ve just been feeling down recently. Whatever it is, understand that it is completely fine to think about these things. Acquiring confidence takes time, and you’re going to make progress by getting used to being uncomfortable, trying new things, self-education, and eliminating those unnecessary negative people from your life.

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5 Reasons Why You Should Start a Business in College

Many of us marvel at the accomplishments of the modern day, mega-rich business tycoons who have amassed a fortune beyond comprehension. Many of them have 1 thing in common: They started a business while in college. However, while we could spend hours discussing the success stories of entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, there are plenty of more practical reasons why you should consider starting a business while in college that have little to do with making billions of dollars. Here are 5 of those reasons:
 

  • Mistakes Mean Less

First, and maybe MOST importantly, mistakes simply mean less while in college. The average college student does not have to worry about missing an electric bill because they failed a test, or not being able to feed their family because they forgot to turn in an essay. The beauty of college is that, while it can be very important, the consequences of failure are far less severe than in the “real world.”

The point here is that mistakes are far less important for a startup business while in school than they are as an adult working a full-time job. Risks are not as risky, and ideas are subjected to less ridicule because you are “still a student.” If your University is worth attending, you will have plenty of support behind your business idea if you have done your due diligence and there’s some substance behind what you want to achieve.

  • Connection with Professors

The average college professor has at least a Master’s degree in their field, and many have one or multiple PhDs to their name. This represents years and years of dedication to their craft, and vast amounts of knowledge gained through their studies and experiences. Your professors are literal walking buckets of knowledge. In other words, they know way more than you do!

Not only have these professors mastered their field of study, but they are paid to pass that information on to the student body. Again, if the University/professor is worth absolutely anything, they would be thrilled to help you during office hours with your business idea.

I experienced this personally during my time at Coastal Carolina University, and have received many hours of mentoring from these bright professors. I can promise you that I would be nowhere near the business owner I am without their knowledge and experience being selflessly imparted upon me.

  • Connection with Alumni

If your college has any type of school spirit or comradery, then you probably have access to hundreds/thousands of alumni who would be thrilled to help a blooming student like yourself. If these people aren’t already easily available, ask your business school or library for an alumni directory! You’ll have to do some digging, but odds are there are at least a few alumni you can contact who would be happy to jump on a phone/Skype call with you to help out.

I was also lucky enough to experience this while in school, and it better prepared me for life in general and on my business journey. My Sophomore year at CCU, I applied and was accepted into the Wall Fellows program within the business school. Before the 3rd and final interview of this process, I was made aware that Ryan Fisher, Co-Founder and Partner of Blueprint Research Group, would be present. I used this as an opportunity to do some research on Ryan and Blueprint before the final interview and then prepared questions to ask him once the interview concluded.

After a couple of weeks passed, this eventually leads to my first internship with Blueprint in New York City. As a firm dedicated to “develop[ing] and execute[ing] creative and innovative marketing research in strategy development, planning, and execution to support brand commercialization efforts” for top global pharmaceutical companies, it was a brand new experience for this, at the time, 20-year-old. While I knew very little about pharmaceuticals, it gave me a chance to work with a highly competitive company whose majority of employees hold degrees from Ivy League schools.

Long story short… contact your school’s alumni- it will pay off, and will help your business!

  • Labor is Cheap

Have a business idea and need extra help to make it happen? There’s no better place I can think of than college! You have classmates who are just as broke as you and are much more willing to help for “free pizza” than the average business consultant.

Is this the best way to establish a 5-year business plan? No. Is it an excellent way to get opinions on logos, pack boxes, pass out information, and all the other miniscule activities which must be completed to start a business? Absolutely!

Take advantage of the cheap help you have now because you might not be so lucky when all of your friends graduate and have their own set of real-world problems.

  • Your Resume Will Thank You

 
Almost any adult in the corporate world will tell you that experience trumps class work almost every single time. Your classes are important, and you should strive to do well in them. However, realize that most employers will hold internship/business experience higher than a 3.89 GPA.
 
The real, honest truth about starting a business in college is that you have VERY LITTLE to lose. If your business succeeds, you have either created a full-time occupation for yourself or an enjoyable side hustle which provides an extra stream of revenue. If your business fails, there are SO FEW CONSEQUENCES. Sure, it may be upsetting that everything didn’t work out, but simply think about all that you will learn by starting a business. Think about all the connections, business acumen, and hard/soft skills which you can develop by “becoming your own boss.” I’d be willing to bet that including this startup opportunity on your resume will immediately boost your marketability during your next job search.
 
Starting a business while in college definitely isn’t for everyone. You’ve got to first have a good idea which has the potential to provide value to others, and then work hours and hours to see this concept get off the ground. However, allow this short blog to be your reason to not let fear keep you from achieving something special. Don’t let the unknown keep you from reaching out to a professor/alumnus or asking some friends for help. You will have far fewer regrets if you try and fail then if you don’t try at all. And, if your business works out, then even better!

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5 Ways to Use “Youth” to Your Advantage

As a young entrepreneur, I learned very early on that there are some unique business challenges associated with my “youth.” While it would be a BLAST to go through and debunk many of the incorrect assumptions regarding professionalism and productivity of young businesspeople, we’ll save that for another time.

Today, I want to focus on 5 key ideas which you can use to EMBRACE your youthfulness rather than shy away from it.

  • Business in 2019 is more conducive to youth than ever before.

Whether you are working within a corporation or starting your own business, the technology boom in the last 20 years has caused productivity and talent to be held in the highest regard. While you still see the “3-5 years’ experience” requirement on many job applications, employers are slowly beginning to realize that ability matters much more than age alone.

Much of the negative stigmas surrounding younger people in business are rendered obsolete in many cases, as client interactions are often held via conference calls, emails, etc. Want to be a consultant? Trade bonds? Develop marketing strategy? All of this can now be done remotely, and so the “need” for an “experienced figure” quickly dwindles. There are certain traits an experienced businessperson has which give obvious advantage, but if they are not predicated on their ability to provide value to the company or client, then they have practically ZERO advantage over you.

  • Your energy and creativity is valuable to company culture and innovation

As a recent college graduate, I have experienced more energy than every before! Granted, in college I didn’t feel that way due to my abysmal eating habits and sleeping patterns. However, since I’ve graduated and decided to focus on my physical and mental health, get enough sleep, etc., my energy has skyrocketed.

Not everyone has natural energy reserves bursting at the seams, but you SHOULD be able to enhance your company culture and innovation capabilities by proactively sharing your ideas with your boss/co-workers/employees. You are young, with a heart full of dreams and aspirations, and that fact alone can be a catalyst for innovation within your company.

Let this also be something to think about: Your boss should support your creativity and innovation, not suppress it. If that is not the case in your work environment, do yourself the courtesy of FINDING A NEW JOB!

  • You have time to get your feet wet

While this unfortunately cannot be the case for everyone, modern advancement in technology and medicine has drastically increased our life expectancy, meaning you will probably live for a long time. How long is a LONG time? 80 years? 100 years?

That answer will probably change from person to person, but the truth is that you have PLENTY of time in your life to work and accomplish your dreams. Don’t use that idea to support your procrastination habits, but rather as a mindset to guide your current mentality and goals. You have time to experience SO MANY different occupations, living arrangements, etc. If you are lucky enough to be 23-years-old like me: put your head down, try many different things, work your butt off, and don’t look up until you’re 29 (one of my favorite Gary Vaynerchuk ideas).

The biggest trap you can fall into as a young businessperson is comparing your current financial/social status to your peers. You do not want what they want, so why are you SO concerned with their success compared to yours? There’s no single “right way” to be successful, so turn your focus inward and figure out what YOU need to do.

  • You have time to provide EXTRA value to your company

While some of you may have started a family at a young age, most people at 22-years-old (simply using my age for these analogies) do not have the responsibility of taking care of a husband/wife and children. This means that practically ALL of your time, aside from sleep and occasional breaks, can be put into honing your craft.

Let me ask you a question: Would you rather be working 80 hours a week when you are 25 or 55? I don’t know what your answer to that question is, but I can assure you that I’d much rather put in the long hours now rather than when I have a wife and kids. As young people, time is our #1 advantage, but ONLY if we use it wisely. Using that extra time to provide value to your company, school, etc. will allow you to grow exponentially, and will be quite impressive to your peers and superiors.

Here’s a pretty simple equation: If you provide value to your company, you become a very valuable employee. Valuable employees get promotions… promotions get you raises… and raises compounded over many years get you financial freedom. In my opinion, it’s very smart to start that trend NOW rather than later.

  • It is MUCH easier to exceed expectations

If you log on to social media or watch the news for all of 30 seconds, you’ll see that there are PLENTY of negative opinions about “today’s youth.” We’re all lazy. We’re entitled. We don’t respect authority. We don’t care about our country. We have no moral compass. We all eat Tide pods.

Right?!?!

Obviously, those things are not true about the majority of our generation. If you’re one of the ones that fall into one of those categories, then step it up! 😀 However, I’m well aware that there are many people my age who are starving for success. They are hungry, they are talented, and they are ready to make an impact in their business world.

If this is the case for you, use it to your advantage! Our generation is highly underestimated, and you can use this stigma to blow your boss’ or peers’ expectations out of the water. Show them that you aren’t like everyone else (or their perception of everyone else). Be willing to do whatever it takes to exceed your expectations, and those at work will take notice. You will gain respect from your co-workers, and ultimately will receive more responsibility than others your age.

Whether you’re 22 or 72, the only thing stopping you is yourself!

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5 Ways to Become a More Likable Person

We crave human affection.
 
As the 3rd tier in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we are psychologically wired to desire a sense of love and belongingness through friends and intimate relationships. While we don’t need 100+ friends to be happy, it certainly doesn’t hurt to become “likable” to a wider range of people.
 
While we often tend to think that becoming more likable requires some type of big sacrifice or compromise of beliefs, that’s actually far from true. In reality, making a few small, conscious lifestyle and mentality shifts can drastically improve our ability to establish healthy relationships. Here are 5 ways I’ve found to make this an easier process:
 

  • Start actually caring about other people

 
If you are serious about becoming more likable, then the very first thing you need to do is eliminate all the excuses you have for not being real with yourself. Once you can be intellectually honest, ask yourself this question: “Do I actually care about the people with which I regularly interact?”
 
If your answer is “no” here, then you can go ahead and stop the experiment. You WILL NOT become more likable to people who you do not care about without being a fake version of yourself.
 
If you answered “yes” to this question, then the follow-up question should be, “Do I show these people that I care?” This is important because it is a vital baseline for any positive relationship; the idea that both parties CARE about each other. Actively show people you care by checking in on them, showing interest in their lives, and not only talking about yourself. This is step #1 and is really difficult to skip if we want to become more likable.
 

  • Listen to understand, then speak

 
I’ve mentioned this principle from Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” Covey discusses the human tendency to listen with the intention to speak rather than the desire to understand our peers. He says in this chapter, “If I were to summarize in one sentence the single most important principle I have learned in the field of interpersonal relations, it would be this: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
 
We filter everything we hear through our own paradigms as we interpret information, and it is very easy to listen with the intent to give our opinion. However, there is serious power in developing the habit of truly seeking to understand another person before trying to respond.
 
How many times have we immediately disagreed with someone or disregarded what they said, only to later find out that they were right or there was a miscommunication? How many times would that have been avoided had we simply taken the time to fully understand the situation? It’s easier said than done, and something I have been practicing every day. 
 

  • Practice an open mindset

 
It is great to be a person of principle. It is an excellent characteristic to have some backbone, some moxie, some basis behind the things you believe. In some cases, it is even appropriate to be radical about your convictions, whether that be a particular cause, organization, etc.
 
It is a great pleasure to be able to formulate your own opinions, and it is okay to have strong ones! However, what is not okay is to be so steadfast in your opinions that you become blind and/or ignorant to facts. No one likes the one person who can’t just go with the flow of a conversation, who cannot tolerate hearing opinions which disagree with theirs, etc.
 
Open your mind to seek truth and facts, then formulate your opinion. If these facts disagree with your opinion, that’s when we get to learn something new!
 
The key: Being too set in our own ways stunts our growth, and inhibits our ability to become more likeable
 

  • Take life a little less seriously

 
Starting a new job. Proposing to your significant other. Raising a child. Paying your taxes.
 
There are some things that we should DEFINITELY take seriously! Life brings along a series of challenges which we must face head on, and we should be willing to do just that! That being said, we do not want to fall into the trap of taking EVERYTHING too seriously.
 
That gets tiring- many times for yourself, but USUALLY for the people around you. If every good thing that happens to you is the greatest thing in the world, or if every bad thing is the end of the world, that quickly becomes annoying to those around you (as someone who is notorious for over-exaggerating to tell a better story, trust me: I had to learn this one myself).
 
Be passionate. Be outspoken. Stand for something!! But, don’t stand for everything. Everything isn’t THAT important, and taking life a little less seriously will enhance yours and those of your peers.
 

  • Be sincere in your verbal and nonverbal language

 
Ladies and gentlemen, if this blog isn’t speaking to you, then it’s at least tearing into me! Because I genuinely struggle with this one, and yet it is imperative to our reputation in business, as well as among friends and family.
 
As I mentioned, I have been practicing Covey’s “Seek First to Understand, Then Be Understood” habit recently, and have seen some good results. This, along with “taking life less seriously” is a formula I have really enjoyed. However, we have to be careful that we don’t overdo this to the point where we just passively agree with what everyone says, regardless of if we actually agree.
 
If we lack sincerity in our words and actions, then we will lead others to think of us as insincere and undependable. No one wants to confide in a person in whom they cannot trust, which as you can imagine leads to relationships being shallow and lacking substance. This is not a label we want to carry, and we can fight it by choosing to be honest in our verbal and nonverbal language.
 
Have you experienced any of these points to be true in your own life? What OTHER ways would you add that can make a person become more likable? Let me know! #5MinuteMission

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5 Ways to Have a Better Social Media Experience

Have you checked your “screen time” app recently? Pretty much every time I do it, I get a little uncomfortable. Granted, my job requires me to spend time on social media, but it certainly does not make up the majority of that time. I, like many of you reading, and addicted to my phone.
 
However, there’s good news: social media is not inherently bad. While many of us waste our time on these various social platforms, there are plenty of people who actually get a lot of benefit from them. The difference? They have optimized their experience.
 
While each of you may have different methods which work for you, I’ve experimented and found these 5 ways to have a better social media experience:
 

  • Stop following accounts with which you vehemently disagree

Why do so many of us purposefully follow accounts we hate just so we can be reminded of why we disagree with them? It’s crazy!

Why do we do this? In actual life, you’d never do this, right? If you see someone you dislike, you do whatever it takes to avoid that person. So, what is up with the phenomenon people call “hate-following?”

I was quite interested in understanding this, and after searching Google, apparently many others are as well. Dr. Sean O’Connell, a registered psychologist in Dublin, Ireland, was recently interviewed by Stellar Magazine’s Victoria Stokes, who asked him why so many of us follow accounts we don’t like.

He answered, “It can be a range of factors. We might feel that they have wronged us in some way, that we can’t challenge them, or that we are holding on to some ‘unfinished business’ with them. It can be jealousy, envy, resentment. A significant factor is comparing and contrasting, especially in social media.”

Whatever your “reason” is, odds are it’s a bad one. If you follow an account with, say, a differing political view so that you can deeply understand their arguments, then that’s about the only exception. However, if you constantly find yourself angry or sad about the content those accounts post, do yourself a favor and hit “unfollow.” Life is too short to waste your emotional energy!

  • Follow accounts which provide positive and informative content

Now that we’ve unfollowed all the pointless content on our timeline, now we need to fill it! Obviously, friends and family can take priority #1 here. After all, it is SOCIAL media. However, how many of you have found yourselves spending just as much time on branded accounts as you do your friends’ pages?

It’s very easy to do, and with as much time as we spend on our phones, it will absolutely affect our attitude. Following accounts which promote positivity & productivity, naturally, will help keep you focused on being positive and productive. Think of it this way: If you REALLY want to optimize your life, then you need to audit what you’re consuming on these platforms. Take the time to be cognizant of what takes your social time- you might just find out how much is wasted. 

  • Understand the amount of time you spend on social media

Notice how I didn’t immediately say “limit” or “drastically reduce.” For many today, social media is a main source of income. In our society, social media carries so many implications to personal life, business, etc. that many actually depend on it for their livelihood.

Social media is not inherently good or bad, it’s what you do with it that carries the moral burden. If you depend on social platforms for a living (like I do), then the conversation needs to shift from the outdated “technology is bad” method.

Focus less on limiting your time, and more understanding WHY you are spending that much time. If you sell a product through Shopify and have a multi-channel approach to sell that item, obviously you need to be spending time on social media so you can understand your audience, engagement analytics, ad spend, etc. However, if you’re just going on every 5 minutes to check on random memes or sports highlights, then THAT’s your opportunity to audit the time spent on these apps.

  • Turn on post notifications for your favorite accounts

This is a simple yet effective way to optimize your social media experience and make sure that you are consuming the content you wish to see. You’ll be notified every time this account posts on their timeline, and you will also see their FB statuses, Tweets, or Instagram stories as one of the first few options.

Also, apps like Instagram have developed algorithms dedicated to optimizing this experience for you, so the more you visit certain accounts, the more frequently their content will be at the top of your feed, or one of the first Instagram stories. If you are wanting to cut down your social media time in general, then following your top accounts will allow you to quickly read and engage with the top few posts, and then log off without having to dig through hours of pictures and videos.

  • Provide valuable content yourself

 
Part of the fun in becoming a part of a social community is contributing to the fun! Especially if you are using these platforms as a networking opportunity, you should be actively engaged within the community you are trying to reach.
 
Want to start selling furniture online? Find the top 30 furniture hashtags on Instagram, understand their theme, and then start sourcing/posting content with that focus. Want to make music? Share your videos for free on social media, and engage with other artists to find out what they like and want. Then, deliver it.
 
Social media can waste 6 hours of our day, and it can also be a stepping stone toward a thriving life and social community. It all depends on how we use it!

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5 Ways to Become a Better Listener

Growing up, there were many interesting, descriptive terms one could use to describe my behavior. One of them, however, was NOT “Sean is a GREAT listener.” I’ve always enjoyed the interaction with others- as a young extrovert (so I thought), talking to people gave me a huge boost of energy. Any time I could be talking to someone else, usually, that’s exactly what I would be doing.
 
However, it was not until I was made aware of my communication issues that it became apparent I was not a very good listener. During my Junior year of college at Coastal Carolina University, I read Stephen Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” Specifically, I was assigned to examine and present Habit #5 to my class, which states: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood.
 
 That’s really what true listening is, isn’t it? To empathically listen in order to understand the other party’s views, values, and perspectives, so that we may create engaging, uplifting dialogue with that person.
 
Covey uses the example of an individual visiting an optometrist, explaining how they have had some trouble seeing clearly. The optometrist then takes off his glasses, hands them to the patient, and says, “Try these- they’ve been working for me for years! As a patient of this optometrist, you would be absolutely appalled that he did this, as you should be. However, Covey makes a very strong point in that many of us do this with co-workers, employees, friends, and family on a regular basis.
 
You see, he’s saying that we are prescribing solutions before diagnosing the problem.  Just as this would be a backward practice for an optometrist, it is backward for us to try to speak our opinions or solutions into the lives of others without first fully understanding their issues. This practice results in unreliable co-workers, unhelpful friends, and disinterested family members.
 
I have studied this simply because it is one of the biggest aspects of my life which I am currently developing. I write this, not from a lectern or podium, but as a faulty human being who’s trying to get better every day. Here are 5 ways to become a better listener:
 

  • Maintain Eye Contact

I don’t think you can discuss listening without first mentioning the importance of eye contact. How many times have you been at school, work, or home and tried to have a conversation with someone who was looking EVERYWHERE except your eyes? Not only do you not feel engaged, but it seems that the other person does not care about what you are saying. This is not a good feeling for the person talking and is one of the quickest ways to get them to shut you out of future conversations.

While we’re on the subject, it is IMPOSSIBLE to be texting or scrolling through social media while simultaneously staying fully engaged with another person. You may think this works, but it really doesn’t and is obvious to the person talking to you. If you must answer your phone, be polite enough to excuse yourself momentarily from the conversation, but do not nonchalantly try to keep it going while blatantly showing the other person that your phone is more important than them. I am guiltier of this than I care to mention, and have made a conscious effort to put the phone away when addressed by someone else.

  • Practice Active Listening

Great listeners have a way of making you feel like what you are saying is important. Please note, this is NOT on accident. They have practiced active listening, and while it may be involuntary now, for a long time that person had to purposefully try to do this.

Nodding your head when you understand, repeating what the other person said in a summarized fashion, and clarifying when necessary are all forms of active listening. Not only does it help you stay engaged and allow the other person to feel valued, but you actually get more out of it as well because you genuinely understand their point of view. Which brings us to points #3….

  • Realize that Great Listening is a Win-Win

Choosing to work on your listening skills does not just help the other party, it helps you just as much! Great listening means that you have a better understanding of your peers, which leads to deeper, more meaningful relationships.

You’re going to be more valued when you develop these listening skills, whether you realize it or not. You become a better person when you realize that sometimes the best strategy is to SHUT IT and listen J

  • Use Listening as a Learning Opportunity

If you only ever listen to yourself, you’ll only grow as much as you can muster. If you listen with the intent to understand others, limitless knowledge and potential are at your fingertips. Knowledge is power and is not easily obtained by simply digging into your own reserves. We NEED to practice listening in order to maximize our learning potential.

Think of being a great listener as being very well read. You can almost always tell when someone reads often by the knowledge they obtain, and in a similar fashion, you can tell if a person is interested in learning new things by how willing they are to listen. I think you’ll find that as you focus more on listening, you will also gain valuable pieces of insight which you would have otherwise not known.

  • Understand When Interrupting Is Okay

 
Interrupting someone seems a bit conflicting with this article’s message, but can actually be necessary/helpful in certain situations. For instance, let’s say a marketing intern at Company A is speaking with the Chief Marketing Officer. The intern begins stating an issue they have had with implementing leads from the old CRM into the new one. As the intern is talking 1,000 MPH, the CMO politely interrupts and assures them that the issue can be resolved. The CMO then shows the intern why the issue was occurring, and then gives specific instruction to ensure there are no further issues.
 
This is an example of someone in authority who decided to interrupt BECAUSE further conversation would have gotten them further away from the solution. Rather than allowing the intern to further confuse themselves with the issue, the CMO decides to quickly explain why it’s occurring, and then works with the intern to ensure they understand how to fix it. Notice that the CMO is not condescending, and was willing to hear the problem in the first place.
 
Be careful with this point- usually the answer is to allow the other person to fully finish with their thought before interjecting. However, with enough practice, we can all develop the necessary skills to determine when to interrupt, and how to become GREAT listeners!

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5 Ways to Be Taken More Seriously

  • Don’t speak confidently on topics you don’t deeply understand

The quickest way to look foolish is to act like you’re informed on a topic when you clearly aren’t. It’s okay to be ignorant of a subject, but pretending to be an expert in fields which you are a novice will get annoying to your peers very quickly. If you do it often, you will develop a reputation around that. You DO NOT want that.

This is something I take very seriously regarding 5 Minute Mission. I often cover interesting topics, but certainly not areas in which I’m an expert (I’m probably not an ‘expert’ at anything haha). This doesn’t mean that I cannot write/talk about things I haven’t experienced, but rather that I must do research and keep an open mind. That’s really what this whole thing is about- growing together as a community who haven’t figured it out yet.

My hope is that anyone reading this realizes that we can grow exponentially just by having an open mind. Part of that is learning new things, but not being naïve about how much we don’t truly know. It’s a process!

  • Take yourself more seriously

Perhaps this should be point #1, but regardless it’s paramount to your end goal of being taken seriously by others. Speak with purpose, dress well (or at least appropriately), be on time, and have a general sense of respect and integrity in the things you do.

It’s a simple concept, but so many of us demand respect from others when we aren’t even respecting ourselves. Just like you wouldn’t take fitness advice from a morbidly obese person, you tend to not respect those who clearly don’t respect themselves or value their own time. Key thought: Want respect? Become respectable. If you’re looking to improve, ask those closest to you how to do that. Odds are, they’ll know exactly where you fall short.

  • Listen to understand, then respond

Your co-workers, friends, and family will take what you say more seriously if they know that you are speaking from a place of understanding. Be willing to deeply listen and understand others before speaking into their lives. If they don’t think you understand them, they will not take your words seriously, whether that be advice or anything else.

Listening before speaking shows people that you care about their thoughts, which automatically makes them more interested in what you have to say. Take what they say seriously, and most people will reciprocate. To further understand this idea, I highly recommend you check out Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, specifically habit #5.

  • Don’t make excuses for your shortcomings

Everyone has faults- own them! Seriously, there’s no need to skirt around your idiosyncrasies just to put on the façade of perfection, and you shouldn’t blame shift your shortcomings onto your environment, lack of training, or any other excuse we use. Own up to your faults, and double down on your strengths.

People are smarter than you think, and while it may not be immediately apparent, eventually “faking it until you make it” isn’t going to work out for you. People close to you will see through your attempts to mask your weak areas, and you will lose respect in the process. If you suck at something, there’s nothing wrong with that!! You can either get better at that thing, or outsource it. There’s no 1 right answer, but THE wrong answer is to make excuses.

  • Eliminate filler words from your vocabulary

 
Constantly using “like”, “um”, or “uh” is an immediate sign that the person speaking is not confident (or at least not well practiced) in what they are saying. Think back to the most powerful presentation you’ve ever seen. Re-watch it on YouTube if you have to; I guarantee you’ll notice that they use no filler words, but rather powerful pauses.
 
This one is very tough, and something I struggle with consistently. I’m under 25, so my go-to filler word is “like.” Don’t know why, but I just love to throw that word in about 2 or 3 times per sentence. Eliminating these unnecessary words can be difficult, but recognizing where you can improve is the first step in doing so. Becoming conscious of an issue allows you to notice when it happens, and begin taking measures to prevent it.
 
Want to be taken more seriously?
 
– DON’T “front” on topics you don’t understand
– DO start taking yourself more seriously
– DON’T always talk over people. Listen!
– DON’T make excuses, learn and execute
– DO become more confident by eliminating unnecessary filler words from your speech

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5 Reasons to Start a Side Business

Creating multiple streams of income is one of the fastest routes toward accumulating wealth

Let’s start with the most basic reason as to why you’re probably thinking about starting a side business: more money! CNBC reported on a recent poll conducted by The Hartford studying the number of Americans with a side business and the reasons behind why they started them. Out of 4,135 people polled, 1,033 of them had a side business, and 72% of those said they did so specifically for financial reasons.

There are plenty of us who don’t make the money we REALLY desire from our day job, and developing multiple streams of revenue is a great way to ensure that you are not overly dependent on any one venture. Pro tip: Of those surveyed in the above study, only 7% of them were pursuing their side business because it was their passion. If you are creative enough to turn a passion into a lucrative opportunity, then you will make extra money AND enjoy yourself while doing it (which leads to more effort, more engagement, and usually more cash).

  • You don’t have to quit your day job

Most of us have more time than we think, but only if we are honest with ourselves. If you are happy with your current financials and relationships, then this point isn’t for you.

However, just as Gary Vaynerchuk has preached for years, this point needs to hit home for those of you who are COMPLAINING. If you are complaining that you don’t have enough money, and THEN say you don’t have any time to fix it: there lies the issue.

If you’re married with kids, of course, they should take priority! Spend time with your husband/wife, take your kid shopping or to a sporting event or whatever it is that you do to spend quality time together. That doesn’t change!

What does change? 2 hours of Netflix every day. Hours spent scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, etc. Hitting snooze 7 times every morning.

What are you doing from 8 PM to midnight every night? What are you doing on the weekends? Whatever your answer to those questions is isn’t inherently right or wrong, but it’s all predicated on what you want. Figure out what you want in life, and then set up a system for yourself which is conducive to your success. You can do it part-time, without quitting your day job!

  • It’s easier now than 5 years ago

And 5 years ago it was easier than before that, etc. etc. The point is that it’s 2019, and you have such an unbelievable opportunity to grow your side hustle on the internet. Want to start selling homemade jam? Start a Shopify store, spend a few hours designing your website (without any previous experience or knowledge of coding), and then list your products! Develop social media accounts targeted toward your main audience, and provide them value daily so they learn to love your brand, and more importantly, you!

Want to become a voice in the sports world? Start a Twitter account along with a blog, and commit to posting one blog per week (Yes, you can do this. I promise). Then, start spending 1-2 hours on Twitter everyday commenting on every big athletic event to happen that day (or week). Check the trending page, and go for it!

Neither of those ideas cost you one single penny, just time. Don’t think you have enough time? Please re-read point #2.

  • Starting a side business gives you an opportunity to pivot

If you are not currently running your own company, then starting your own business will most likely allow you to develop a certain skill set which you did not previously acquire through work. Owning your own company requires a much different mindset than a person who has worked for others their entire life.

Not to say that one is better than the other, just simply pointing out that they are different. As you begin working for yourself on the side, you will begin to develop new skills, traits, and communication abilities you did not have before. As this happens, you grow as a person, eventually making yourself more marketable and valuable.

You can use this marketability to your significant advantage. If your side business is still small, you can use these newly developed skills to ask for a raise or promotion, or perhaps even move companies for higher pay/benefits. Or, if your business has developed some substance, you could have the beautiful opportunity to quit your job altogether and work for yourself. Again, this is all predicated on what you want in your life. Everyone is different, and starting a side business can have a wide array of end results which suit each of your financial, physiological, and psychological needs.

  • Life is too short to do things you hate

 
With modern technology and medicine making great advancements in our society, along with an increased understanding of anatomical and nutritional science, we are living longer as a species. Living to be 100 is much less significant of a feat now than it was in 1950.
 
But how “short” is 100 years? How many years have you already lived? How much of that time have you already wasted on things that didn’t matter? How many times have you discussed with friends and loved ones that time seems to “slip away?” I’ve heard this conversation many times, and everyone seems to agree in unison that time is an extremely fleeting commodity.
 
What’s even scarier? You only get one shot at this thing called life.
 
Luckily, that thought doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, I’d argue that it’s empowering. The moment you truly accept the fact that you only have 1 life to live, and as soon as you realize that tomorrow doesn’t have to look like today, and as soon as you realize that other people’s opinion should not affect your happiness or success, you will have the tools you need to be successful.
 
For those of you that are happy with your life: congratulations, you have won. Happiness is the end goal, the “ROI” if you will. However, for those of you who aren’t happy with your current circumstances, take a serious look at your life and decide what you want. Then, if a side business will help you reach that goal, make it happen!

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5 Reasons Why You Aren’t Meeting Your Potential

Do you feel like you’re letting yourself or others down? Are you worried that you aren’t growing as you should? Are you simply just not meeting your potential?
 
That feeling is no fun and can lead to some serious mental health issues if not dealt with properly. Luckily, if you’re alive, then you have time to change. Plus, with free resources provided on the internet, you have plenty of tools to help! However, you have to be willing to change, and you have to be okay with dealing with your shortcomings.
 
I use the term “meeting” your potential rather than “reaching” because the word “reach” implies some type of end goal or finality. As long as we’re breathing, we should always strive to get better every day. So, from the very beginning, view this as a dynamic process, and let’s dive into 5 reasons why you may not be meeting your potential:
 

  • You aren’t challenging yourself enough

Humans are capable of amazing things. We trade paperclips for houses and even knit designs and artwork for entire buildings.  

We have the potential to accomplish feats we never thought possible, but we will never realize this potential if we do not challenge ourselves. Question: Are you feeling comfortable with life right now? Have you felt like you’re coasting, or not experiencing any type of friction?

This is a big sign that you aren’t challenging yourself as you should. Do hard things; do NEW things; do things that make you uncomfortable. We grow through pushing ourselves through discomfort into learning and success. If it doesn’t make you a little uncomfortable, it probably won’t change you.

  • You don’t have KPIs to measure yourself

Doing challenging things isn’t enough, you need to have metrics which measure your progress! Think about it: Imagine Usain Bolt practicing on the track without a stopwatch, or Gordon Ramsay in the kitchen making food without ever tasting it. Doing the work isn’t enough, you have to have a general understanding of how you’re doing.

Start with setting some goals, and try to start small. List out some things you’d like to be doing better in your life right now. Once those goals are clear, set some KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to help track your progress with the set goals.

Example: Let’s say you set a goal to lose 10 pounds. Great! Now, set some KPIs. Your key metrics are probably centered around exercise and nutrition, so set a goal to go to the gym x times/week, and then set a daily caloric goal, or alternatively set aside 1 meal per day which you will cook yourself and include only whole foods.

See how that works? It’s not a difficult concept to grasp, but proper implementation can change your life.

  • You don’t communicate well with others

Have you ever heard the phrase “It’s not WHAT you know, it’s WHO you know”? While I do not completely subscribe to that idea, there’s definitely some truth to it. It certainly doesn’t hurt to know some people- the RIGHT people! However, you know what is NOT the correct tactic to meet more people? Only giving people the time of day if you need something from them.

Communication is key, both in your personal and professional life. You’ve probably heard the phrase “treat the janitor like the CEO.” It is a breath of fresh air to meet someone like that in the corporate world because they are few and far in between. People talk about it all day- very few commit to actually doing it.

If you will take the time to communicate well with everyone you know, regardless of priority or task, you will grow as a person and in the minds of others. Great communication is an art form which must be perfected over a lifetime, and the only way we’re going to get better is by practicing. Promote kindness and empathy, edifying speech, and positivity in your communication with others, and you’ll start to notice a change in your usual interactions. 

  • You don’t listen to constructive criticism

These final two points are for those of you on one extreme or another. First, for those of you on this side of it, it’s time to drop the “know it all” attitude. You allow criticism to offend you, even if it is positive/constructive. If you do this, it’s pretty much impossible to meet your potential.

As much as it stings to hear that we suck at something, it’s much better to actually hear it out and change it now than letting it fester for years untouched. This isn’t to say that you should change every single time someone finds fault in what you do, but it does mean that if you hear patterns in people’s criticism of your actions, then maybe it’s time to look into it.

If accepting criticism is below you, leading people is above you!

  • You care too much about someone else’s opinion


On the other side of the aisle are those of us who can’t think for ourselves! Every time someone says something you don’t like or criticizes you, you automatically cave. In fact, let’s change the language here and say “we” because for a long time I acted this way.
 
I’m naturally a people pleaser, and I want others to like me. When I was younger, I was willing to sacrifice far more than I should just for a laugh, for people to think I’m cool, or just, in general, accept me. Let me be clear: There is no single act that will stunt your personal growth quicker than caring about someone else’s opinion about your life more than your own.
 
There’s a balance- you should hear criticism, but then be able to weigh that against your intentions to see if it holds any merit. If it does, change! If it doesn’t, keep pushing forward! The choice is yours and only yours to make, but if you want to meet your potential, you must be willing to do what it takes!

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5 Positive Impacts Meditation Has on My Life

At the beginning of 2019, I decided that I needed to take proactive measures to keep my mental health in check. I started meditating every day, starting small with just 5 minutes/day, and gradually added time using the Headspace app.
 
I started meditating, and I began noticing subtle changes in my life. Nothing has been drastic, but there have been gradual mental shifts I’ve noticed over the last few months. Here are just 5 of the positive impacts meditation has had on my life:
 

  • Provides consistency in my morning routine

One of the best things to come out of developing daily habits and practicing meditation is the consistency developed in my morning routine. Almost all of my mornings start at 7 AM, usually followed by 1 hit of the snooze button. After taking a shower, usually, my very next step is to sit in my desk chair, put on my headphones, and meditate.

Occasionally, I will go ahead and drive to the office, make coffee, and then meditate there before anyone else arrives. Nonetheless, the act of sitting down, being still, and meditating has been an excellent addition to my mornings.

Starting every morning with some meditation gives me that consistent feeling of accomplishment and peace as I begin my day. It’s one of those boxes that I get to check every day, and feel great while doing so, knowing that this act is setting up my mind for the work ahead.

  • Ensures a few minutes of peace and clarity

It’s not a foreign idea that most of us are getting busier and busier, either with work, family, or friends and social media. Because it is so easy to pick up your phone and scroll when bored or not working, I was finding myself not taking a single second during the day to just sit and be still.

You can imagine the long-term negative effects on a mind that ONLY gets rest while sleeping. I found that every single waking moment of my day was spent either working (which requires heavy use of my computer and phone/social media) or leisurely spending hours and hours on Twitter and Instagram.

Peace and clarity aren’t necessarily easy to obtain, especially when we are always so busy. I promise you: If you will start taking 5 minutes every day to sit and be still (you don’t even have to use guided meditation), you will find more fulfillment in your life.

  • Forces me to be still with my own thoughts

The reason we will find more fulfillment in our life through being still and meditating is that it forces us to be alone with nothing but our own thoughts. There are no outer voices or noise getting in the way of thinking deeply, which can actually be quite weird early on.

During the first few days of my meditation, it just felt a little awkward. My intentions were pure, and I knew that if I stuck with it that it would get easier, but it was weird. I later found out that I was so used to being busy that I was almost incapable of just sitting there without doing anything else. No music, no podcasts, no emails… nothing!

However, once I got used to it, I now crave that feeling every morning. Not just because it’s peaceful, but it gives me a chance to be alone and honest with myself. It provides me an opportunity to be real about my life, goals, and ambitions. Am I spending too much time on stuff that doesn’t matter? Start meditating, and the answer to that question might just come jumping out at you.

  • Promotes long-term calmness and clarity at work

Meditation has not made work any easier, it hasn’t given me superpowers to make excellent marketing or advertising decisions, and it definitely won’t make your website SEO optimized.

However, what it WILL do is drastically improve your emotional intelligence and your soft skills at work. Think of it this way: Meditation won’t teach you how to become a master in Excel or how to do your taxes (hard skill). It can, however, teach you how to react when things are difficult, how to view your personal learning experience, and how to stay persistent toward your goals (soft skill).

There is a distinct difference, and I’d argue that the latter is far more important. Other people can teach you hard skills, but they cannot teach you calmness and clarity- that starts and ends with you!

  • Allows me to live intentionally

 
Perhaps the biggest benefit I’ve gotten from consistent meditation is having a clear understanding of what actually matters in my life, as it gives me the focus to spend the majority of my time in that space.
 
It is very difficult to live intentionally if you do not have a clear intention or direction for your life.
 
Why are you doing what you’re doing? Why do you spend time on the things you do? Sadly, many of us do not have an answer for that, or it’s at least not very clear cut. Meditation gives you the time every day where you can focus on the core of why you exist and why you work.
 
Daily meditation gives me a chance to view my life through a “macro-lense”, understand where I’m spending my time, and the courage to change that if needed. If you are considering it, I’d highly recommend that you start, even for just 1 minute today!