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The latest news on Careers from Business Insider

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    boston marathon winner 2015

    Winning at life has little to do with luck and a lot to do thoughtful effort. If you want to join the ranks of the winners, here are 20 rules that can help you get there:

    1. Never stop working on the details. They eventually matter.

    2. Pretend like someone is always watching you. They usually are.

    3. Never let small successes get in the way of learning something new. You’ll need it later.

    4. Spend time developing a skill. Spend even more time developing will. You need it more.

    5. Apologize sincerely. The faster the better.

    6. Live outraged or blissful. Anything in the middle is just mediocrity.

    7. Learn how to take the pain of progress. You’re going to get banged up along the way.

    8. Be willing to do whatever it takes to be successful. That’s what it takes.

    9. Ignore what you “should” be doing and do it your way. It’s your life after all.

    10. Be deliberately grateful. It will change your outlook for the better.

    11. Obsess about the possibility you could be even more amazing. And you will be.

    12. Dig deep. Get emotional about your goals. You need that fuel to win.

    13. Surround yourself with people who are better than you at what you want to be the best at.

    14. Do one thing that matters each day. It adds up to something awesome over time.

    15. Avoid negative people. At all costs. Even if they are family or friends.

    16. Read. Read. Read. Read. Read … Discover something awesome to make your life better.

    17. Get help. Invest in the best help you can afford and do what they say. It matters.

    18. Stop saying “I can’t” and“I shouldn’t” or“I don’t feel like it.” Just get it done.

    19. Don’t confusing awards with winning. The real reward happens before awards are handed out.

    20. Stay fit — financially, physically, and mentally. Always be ready to be a hero.

    SEE ALSO: 15 meeting etiquette rules every professional needs to know

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This drummer created a whole song using only the sound of coins


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    Drawbridge Web_62747

    Each year, Inc. ranks the fastest-growing private companies in America. Check out the top 10 below:

    SEE ALSO: 5 billion-dollar companies that started as side jobs

    10. Company.com

    With $31 million in 2014 sales — an 18,888% hike since 2011 — the social network founded by financial industry veteran Bill Wade easily cracked the 2015 Inc. 5000.



    9. Scopely

    Co-founded in 2011 by Walter Driver, Scopely publishes free-to-play games — and business is booming. The Culver City, California, company's 2014 revenue reached $32.1 million, up more than 19,500% from 2011.



    8. Restore Health

    Matt Wanderer's seven-year-old company, based in Madison, Wisconsin, offers personalized medicines to physicians and patients. Restore Health posted $30.5 million in sales last year, a 21,753% growth rate from 2011. 



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

    NOW WATCH: The sleep habits all successful people share


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    Mark Cuban

    Mark Cuban once said "You only have to be right once." And he is just one of many successful people who sees the value of failure.

    "The Other 'F' Word," by University of California Berkeley lecturers John Danner and Mark Coopersmith, lists a seven-step process to help companies work past failure.

    The final step is remembering the lessons learned when something went wrong.

    "The basic issue around workplace culture is really creating an environment of trust," Danner tells Business Insider. "It must go vertically so employees feel the folks above them can be trusted, and also horizontally so people know their job or reputation isn't at risk if failure occurs."

    In the book, Danner and Coopersmith offer four ways you can use past failures to strengthen the culture of your office:

    1. Use stories to carry and represent the company's culture.

    Danner describes stories as a "beautiful thing" because they show more authenticity than a memo — and it's all about confidence and humility.

    "Leaders are always in the midst of stories," he says. "It's important to be in a culture that can genuinely talk about its past failures and what they learned, and what those failures actually show about the strength of the underlying culture."

    2. Have rituals to ease the mood in the face of uncertainty.

    Rituals are repeated activities that highlight the most important aspects from a failure. As an example, Danner describes how Roche Pharmaceuticals hosts celebratory lunches to highlight the lessons learned from failure.

    Danner loves this strategy because it "actually gives props to people who have the guts to try something new," which is huge in an industry that fails nine times for every success.

    3. Keep relics as physical artifacts of failure.

    Contrary to stories and rituals, relics are actual artifacts that remind an organization of a failure and what they learned from it. "They can be memos, videos, any number of remembrances of things that didn't go well but turned out to be incredibly important," Danner says. "Failure contains all kinds of insights if you're creative and tenacious enough to try to discover them."

    4. Generate reports to increase resiliency.

    Reports are basically "the formal lifeblood of many organizations," Danner says. Put simply, a report is a formal memorialization of the failure and the lessons learned.

    "If an organization isn't conscious of the importance of failure as a strategic resource, it's likely to miss the early signs, and it's likely to delay the awareness when it's really happening," he says.

    It's important to note that while these four remembrances of failure won't completely prevent fallibility, they will "help make an organization more failure-savvy," Danner says.

    SEE ALSO: 7 steps to help you bounce back from a failure stronger than ever

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Turns out people make these snap judgments about you within seconds of meeting you


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    Barbara Corcoran

    Searching for a job can be brutal.

    These five TEDx Talks will help you stay positive during the hunt.

    1. Ashley Stahl: 3 questions to unlock your authentic career

    Surprisingly, not everyone hates looking for a job.

    Meet Ashley Stahl, a career coach who loves a good job hunt.

    Early in her career as a national security professional Stahl says she felt stuck. After some serious soul-searching and risk-taking, she created a career she truly loves and is helping others do the same.

    She urges people to ask themselves three questions about their career: What am I good at? What do other people think I’m good at? What’s holding me back? Answers to these, she says, will unlock a passionate career.

    Related: 8 Amazing TED Talks Every Woman In Her 20s Should Watch

    Ashley Stahl is doing a Live Facebook Q&A with Levo tomorrow! Join us at 1:00pm EST to ask her sage advice on all your career questions.

    2. Zain Asher: Trust Your Struggle

    “Success is never really in a straight line,” says CNN International anchor Zain Asher. Four years ago, Asher worked as a receptionist, and after a series of self-made breaks (she even filmed a fake news reel around Los Angeles to apply for news anchor jobs), Asher has made it to her dream job.

    Her story serves as proof that if you want something badly enough, hard work can get it for you.

    [Related: 7 TED Talks Every Woman in Her 30s Should Watch]

    3. Larry Smith: Why You Will Fail to Have a Great Career

    Larry Smith, Economics Professor at University of Waterloo, delivers the ultimate reverse psychological TEDx Talk. He, in details, explains why you won’t have a great career. He says you’ll tell yourself you can’t be a great partner, a great friend, a great parent, and have a great career all in the same lifetime.

    So, why are you so accepting of trade-offs in life? And what happens when you decide you want it all? His talk will urge to not settle for anything less than everything.

    4. Barbara Corcoran: Rethinking Failure

    In this honest talk by entrepreneur and investor — you might know her as a shark on “Shark Tank”—Barbara Corcoran opens up about how she used some pretty major failures in her career to her advantage by shifting her perspective to the effort rather than the outcome.

    “The one thing I do so well is I fail well,” says Corcoran. The job hunt is full of what could be perceived as failures, and this talk will inspire you to change your outlook on them.

    5. Tim Clark: Say Goodbye to Career Planning

    Entrepreneur Tim Clark says in his TEDx Talk that the notion of career planning is silly and that many people’s careers are based on hypotheses (“I think I’d like this job.”) and tests (“OK, turns out I don’t like this job.”). But, according to Clark, it doesn’t have to be this way. What you need is what Clark calls a “personal business plan” to serve as a roadmap to guide you through a happy career and help you find fulfilling jobs.

    SEE ALSO: 10 TED Talks that will make you smarter about business

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The sleep habits all successful people share


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    couple selfie rio brazil

    How do you get to crazy love — or get crazy love back when it’s gone away?

    Forget the silly relationship books, let’s look at the real science and get some answers.

    Here are 5 shortcuts to bonding deeply with a romantic partner:

    1. No more boring date nights

    No more dull dinners telling the same stories and hoping you have fun.

    What’s at the root of seduction? Surprise. From my interview with Robert Greene, author of the bestseller, The Art of Seduction:

    Seduction involves a degree of surprise, which is generally the first thing that disappears after you’ve been in a relationship, and why there’s no more seducing that goes on. Everything is familiar and you’re no longer surprised by the other person.

    Couples don’t need more "pleasant" activities — you need more exciting activities to make sure you’re feeling the "butterflies" around each other.

    Researchers did a 10-week study comparing couples that engaged in "pleasant" activities vs "exciting" activities. Pleasant lost.

    Via "For Better: How the Surprising Science of Happy Couples Can Help Your Marriage Succeed":

    Those who had undertaken the "exciting" date nights showed a significantly greater increase in marital satisfaction than the "pleasant" date night group…

    Why would doing anything exciting have such a big effect on a relationship?

    Because research shows we’re lousy about realizing where our feelings are coming from.

    Excitement from any source will be associated with the person you’re with, even if they’re not the cause of it.

    When I spoke to the top researcher of romantic love, Arthur Aron, he said the same thing:

    After a while, things are sort of settled and there isn’t much excitement, so what can you do? Do things that are exciting that you associate with your partner. Reinvigorate that excitement and the main way to make them associated with the partner is to do them with your partner.

    So no boring, lame date nights. Go dancing together or anything else you can both participate in as a couple. No documentaries — research says you should go see horror movies or suspense thrillers.

    (To learn the 4 most common relationship problems — and how to fix them — click here.)

    Okay, no more dull dinners. You’re taking tango lessons or going skydiving. Awesome. So how do you fix the nagging little problems in your relationship to take it to the next level? That’s easy … Don’t.

    Faux pas, disgusted couple

    2. Don’t reduce the negative. Increase the positive.

    We spend a lot of time trying to fix things in our relationships. Turns out we’ve got it backwards. Unless they’re critical, don’t focus on reducing the negatives. Couples thrive when they increase the positive things.

    Via "The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work":

    …an interesting new body of research suggests that how we support people during good times, more than bad times, affects the quality of a relationship.

    Research shows trying to change people doesn’t work:

    …when participants (N = 160) focused their relationship improvement attempts on changing the partner, individuals reported more negative improvement strategies, lower improvement success, and, in turn, more negative relationship evaluations… results suggest that targeting the partner may do more harm than good despite that relationship evaluations pivot on whether the partner produces change.

    John Gottman, the #1 guy on making relationships work, says 69% of a couple’s problems are perpetual. These problems don’t go away yet many couples keep arguing about them year after year.

    Via "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work":

    Most marital arguments cannot be resolved. Couples spend year after year trying to change each other’s mind – but it can’t be done. This is because most of their disagreements are rooted in fundamental differences of lifestyle, personality, or values. By fighting over these differences, all they succeed in doing is wasting their time and harming their marriage.

    So ignore the bad. Increase the good stuff.

    (To learn the four things that kill relationships, click here.)

    So you’re not trying to fix what’s broken, you’re doubling down on the things that make you two happy. What else do you need to do?

    3. Get to know them. Really get to know them

    Couples who communicate are 62% more likely to describe their relationship as happy.

    Via 100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships:

    In studies of marriages of various lengths, couples with a high degree of intimacy between the husband and wife—that is, couples who shared their innermost thoughts—were 62 percent more likely to describe their marriage as happy. – Pallen 2001

    Emotional, personal information exchange promotes powerful feelings of connection. Asking and answering the right questions can create a lifelong bond in just one hour.

    Via Sam Gosling’s book, Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You:

    Arthur Aron, a psychologist at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, is interested in how people form romantic relationships, and he’s come up with an ingenious way of taking men and women who have never met before and making them feel close to one another. Given that he has just an hour or so to create the intimacy levels that typically take weeks, months, or years to form, he accelerated the getting-to-know-you process through a set of thirty-six questions crafted to take the participants rapidly from level one in McAdams’s system to level two.

    What happened in Arthur Aron’s lab when he had grad students ask each other these personal questions? Well, two of them ended up getting married.

    No time for tons of questions? Share the best event of your day and have your partner share the best event of their day. And celebrate their successes. It works.

    Here’s what Arthur told me in our interview:

    Celebrating your partner’s successes turns out to be pretty important. When things go badly and you provide support, it doesn’t make the relationship good, but it keeps it from getting bad. Whereas if things are going okay and your partner has something good happen and you celebrate it sincerely, you’re doing something that can make a relationship even better.

    But it’s not all talk. Research shows touching is powerful too. (Want something really powerful? Touch their face.)

    And look into their eyes. It can make people fall in love. Seriously:

    In two studies, subjects induced to exchange mutual unbroken gaze for 2 min with a stranger of the opposite sex reported increased feelings of passionate love for each other.

    (For that list of questions that made people bond deeply in just an hour, click here.)

    So you’re doing exciting stuff, focusing on the good things and really getting to know each other. What else should you spend time talking about?

    Couple Talking, Laughing

    4. Reminisce about the times you laughed

    You don’t need to be together very long to do this. What made you two crack up on those initial dates? Bring it up and have another laugh about it:

    …couples who reminisced about events involving shared laugher reported higher relationship satisfaction at the post-manipulation satisfaction assessment as compared to couples in the three control conditions. The effect was not attributed to positive mood induction as mood scores across groups were similar.

    And here’s a bonus: more laughing means less fighting.

    Via "100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships":

    When both partners in a relationship thought the other had a good sense of humor, 67 percent less conflict was reported than in couples where neither thought the other had a good sense of humor. – De Koning and Weiss 2002

    The other thing to emphasize when reminiscing? Similarity. The single strongest predictor of marital well-being? Feeling the two of you are similar.

    Believe it or not, even having similar fighting styles was a good thing. It was related to double-digit drops in conflict and a double-digit increase in satisfaction.

    Via "100 Simple Secrets of Great Relationships":

    While people may employ many different conflict resolution strategies in a relationship, when both partners use the same strategy they experience 12 percent less conflict and are 31 percent more likely to report their relationship is satisfying. – Pape 2001

    (To learn the recipe for a happy marriage, click here.)

    Okay, so you two are laughing. What’s the right perspective to take when you’re out together?

    5. Pretend you’re on your first date again

    On first dates we make an effort and effort draws people together:

    In a follow-up study the researchers told participants to make an effort with their partners and then their enjoyment of the social interaction improved in line with their predictions. This suggests we can all have more fun with our partners and friends if we make an effort.

    Studies show pretending time with a romantic partner was a first date makes it more enjoyable:

    Across a series of studies, participants underestimated how good they would feel in situations that required them to put their best face forward… participants who were instructed to engage in self-presentation felt happier after interacting with their romantic partner than participants who were not given this instruction…

    (To learn how to be a good kisser, click here.)

    We’ve learned a lot. Let’s round it up and learn one more killer thing that can actually build a positive feedback loop in your relationship…

    Sum up

    To bond more deeply with a romantic partner make sure to:

    • Kill the boring dates. Do new exciting stuff. Dancing, suspenseful movies, learning new things together.
    • Don’t fix the negatives. Build on the positives. You can’t fix most problems. Double down on what works well.
    • Really get to know them. Use Arthur Aron’s questions. And ask about the best part of their day, celebrate it, and share the high point of your day. Touch. Stare into their eyes.
    • Reminisce about the times you laughed. Emphasize similarity.
    • Pretend you’re on your first date again. Make an effort. Put your best face forward.

    Want to diagnose how well your relationship is working?

    Listen to the story you and your partner tell others about your relationship. John Gottman said it’s the #1 predictor of whether things are working.

    Another trick is to hold their hand during stressful times and see how it makes you feel. Less stressed? Bingo.

    The sad thing is that over time we often take the other person for granted. But you don’t have to.

    By expressing gratitude, research shows you can actually create a positive feedback loop in your relationship:

    …gratitude contributes to a reciprocal process of relationship maintenance, whereby each partner’s maintenance behaviors, perceptions of responsiveness, and feelings of gratitude feed back on and influence the other’s behaviors, perceptions, and feelings.

    If you’ve got something good together, being grateful can make it even better.

    Right now, share this post with your partner and tell them, "Thank you."

    Isn’t that what we all want to hear?

    Join over 200,000 readers. Get a free weekly update via email here.

    SEE ALSO: 5 simple tips for having better relationships at work and in life

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The sleep habits all successful people share


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    parenting

    We all want our children to become leaders.

    Whether they spend the bulk of their days in the mailroom or the corner office, we want our children to grow to be courageous, passionate, and authentic.

    We want their actions to inspire other people to be their best, to get more out of life than they ever thought possible.

    As parents and caretakers of children, their path to leadership is in our hands.

    We can model and teach the skills that will equip them to lead themselves and others in this hyper-competitive world, or we can allow them to fall victim to the kind of thinking that makes them slaves to the status quo.

    It's a big responsibility — but when isn't being a parent a massive responsibility?

    The beauty of building children into leaders is that it's the little things we do every day that mold them into the people they'll become.

    Focus on the eight actions below, and you'll build leadership in your children and yourself.

    1. Model emotional intelligence (EQ)

    Emotional intelligence is that "something" in each of us that is a bit intangible; it affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions that achieve positive results.

    Children learn emotional intelligence from their parents, plain and simple. As your children watch you every day, they absorb your behavior like a sponge. Children are particularly attuned to your awareness of emotions, the behavior you demonstrate in response to strong emotions, and how you react and respond to their emotions.

    EQ is one of the biggest drivers of success in leadership positions. TalentSmart has tested more than a million people and found that EQ is responsible for 58% of a leader's job performance. Likewise, 90% of top-performing leaders have high EQs.

    Most people do very little to develop their EQ growing up. Just 36% of the people we tested are able to accurately identify their emotions as they happen. Children who develop a high level of EQ carry these skills into adulthood, and this gives them a leg up in leadership and in life.

    2. Don't obsess about achievement 

    Parents get sucked into obsessing about achievement because they believe that this will make their children into high-achievers. Instead, fixating on achievement creates all sorts of problems for kids. This is especially true when it comes to leadership, where focusing on individual achievement gives kids the wrong idea about how work gets done.

    Simply put, the best leaders surround themselves with great people because they know they can't do it alone. Achievement-obsessed children are so focused on awards and outcomes that they never fully understand this. All they can see is the player who's handed the MVP trophy and the celebrity CEO who makes the news--they assume it's all about the individual. It's a rude awakening once they discover how real life works.

    3. Don't praise too much

    Children need praise to build a healthy sense of self-esteem. Unfortunately, piling on the praise doesn't give them extra self-esteem. Children need to believe in themselves and to develop the self-confidence required to become successful leaders, but if you gush every time they put pen to paper or kick a ball (the "everyone gets a trophy" mentality), this creates confusion and false confidence. Always show your children how proud you are of their passion and effort; just don't paint them as superstars when you know it isn't true.

    kids parents son father

    4. Allow them to experience risk and failure

    Success in business and in life is driven by risk. When parents go overboard protecting their children, they don't allow them to take risks and reap the consequences. When you aren't allowed to fail, you don't understand risk. A leader can't take appropriate risks until he or she knows the bitter taste of failure that comes with risking it all and coming up short.

    The road to success is paved with failure. When you try to shield your children from failure in order to boost their self-esteem, they have trouble tolerating the failure required to succeed as a leader. Don't rub their face in it either. Children need your support when they fail. They need to know you care. They need to know that you know how much failure stings. Your support allows them to embrace the intensity of the experience and to know that they'll make it through it all right. That, right there, is solid character building for future leaders.

    5. Say no

    Overindulging children is a surefire way to limit their development as leaders. To succeed as a leader, one must be able to delay gratification and work hard for things that are really important. Children need to develop this patience. They need to set goals and experience the joy that comes with working diligently towards them. Saying no to your children will disappoint them momentarily, but they'll get over that. They'll never get over being spoiled.

    6. Let children solve their own problems

    There's a certain self-sufficiency that comes with being a leader. When you're the one making the calls, you should also be the one who needs to stay behind and clean up the mess these create. When parents constantly solve their children's problems for them, children never develop the critical ability to stand on their own two feet. Children who always have someone swooping in to rescue them and clean up their mess spend their whole lives waiting for this to happen. Leaders take action. They take charge. They're responsible and accountable. Make certain your children are as well.

    Parenting

    7. Walk your talk

    Authentic leaders are transparent and forthcoming. They aren't perfect, but they earn people's respect by walking their talk. Your children can develop this quality naturally, but only if it's something they see you demonstrate. To be authentic, you must be honest in all things, not just in what you say and do but also in who you are. When you walk your talk, your words and actions will align with who you claim to be. Your children will see this and aspire to do the same.

    8. Show you're human

    No matter how indignant and defiant your children are at any moment, you're still their hero and their model for the future. This can make you want to hide your past mistakes for fear that they'll be enticed to repeat them. The opposite is true. When you don't show any vulnerability, your children develop intense guilt about every failure because they believe that they're the only ones to make such terrible mistakes.

    To develop as leaders, children need to know that the people they look up to aren't infallible. Leaders must be able to process their mistakes, learn from them, and move forward to be better people. Children can't do this when they're overcome by guilt. They need someone — a real, vulnerable person — to teach them how to process mistakes and to learn from them. When you show them how you've done this in the past, you're doing just that.

    Bringing it all together 

    We can mold our children into leaders, but only if we work at it. Few things in life are as worth your time and effort as this.

    SEE ALSO: Science says parents of successful kids have these 9 things in common

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The sleep habits all successful people share


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    Barack Obama Bill ClintonWhat does it take to get ahead in today’s job market?

    While it might seem like specialized technical skills are the only way to compete in an increasingly difficult economy, that’s not the case. To really get ahead, what a worker needs is social skills.

    How’s that? Over the next two decades, nearly half of U.S. jobs may become obsolete due to automation, one recent study found.

    What are workers to do? Become more human, suggests David J. Deming of Harvard.

    Deming argues that social skills have already become increasingly important in recent decades, especially for those looking for high-wage, competitive positions.  

    According to Deming,  positions that require both cognitive and social skills have shown more wage growth in the past few decades than those that require high-levels of mathematical or analytical training but little social prowess. And those wage gains hold true across all levels of employment.

    In the future, the jobs that are least likely to be automated increasingly are those that demand lots of interaction with coworkers or clients, not just the performance of rote analytical tasks. These jobs also call for the ability to perform innately human exercises—like pondering another person’s point of view. These nuances of human interaction are something that computers have yet to master.

    Social skills have the most value when it comes to the ability to work on a team, trading off tasks based on skill sets or ability. “Human interaction in the workplace involves team production, with workers playing off of each other’s strengths and adapting flexibly to changing circumstances,” Deming writes. “Such non-routine interaction is at the heart of the human advantage over machines.”

    The paper also suggests that the heightened value of social aptitude might be responsible, in part, for helping bridge some of the gender wage gap, since women tend to exhibit higher levels of emotional intelligence than their male peers.

    In conjunction with increasing educational attainment, that might mean that better social skills have helped women thrive in the workplace.

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    working computer

    A few years ago, I published a post on starting a business while keeping your full-time job.

    I listed a number of reasons why this makes sense. I even included some practical steps.

    But I didn’t go far enough.

    So here’s a guest post from Ryan Robinson, an entrepreneur and marketer who teaches people how to create meaningful self-employed careers.

    (His online courses “Launching a Business While Working” and “Writing a Winning Freelance Proposal” can teach you how to start and grow your own business while working a full-time job.)

    Here’s Ryan:

    Never before have we experienced such a rapid growth in the number of young entrepreneurs who have begun working for themselves. From app developers to freelance content marketers, business consultants, writers, and startup founders, there's no shortage of people willing to take large, calculated risks in the name of creating their own self-employed dream careers.

    What's more, many of these solopreneurs are very quickly growing their small businesses into the millions.

    In a recent study at Bentley University, over 66% of Millennials said they have a desire to start their own businesses. Yet, as of 2013, only 3.6% of businesses in the U.S. were owned by people under the age of 30.

    Clearly, there's a large disparity between the number of young people wanting to be their own bosses and those who are actually managing to pull it off.

    It's not for lack of education. Global access to free and inexpensive online education resources on platforms such as CreativeLive, Lynda.com, General Assembly, and others, have helped drastically cut the learning curves and barriers to entry in many industries.

    With valuable online learning opportunities as readily available as an internet connection, there's no excuse for not picking up new concepts and building powerful skills, if you're motivated enough.

    Through my workI've found the three most common reasons people don't follow through on starting their own businesses: a lack of confidence in themselves, a perceived lack of necessary resources, and, most of all, a lack of motivation.

    Starting and growing a successful business is very difficult. Pulling it off while you're still employed full-time and bringing in an income for yourself is even more trying. (I should know; I've done it four times.)

    Starting a business while you're still working full-time can also afford you many luxuries and securities that go straight out the window when you quit your job to pursue a business idea. From the obvious advantage of having a steady income to fund your new venture to additional benefits, such as being forced to focus only on what delivers the highest impact and lessening the pressure on yourself, I've personally experienced positive benefits from launching while working.

    But to do that you need a plan. Here are my 10 steps to starting your own business while you keep your full-time job.

    1. Ask yourself how badly you want it.

    Starting a business will be difficult, will strain your relationships, and will continually force you to make tough decisions.

    Thinking

    Write down a list of all the activities and commitments you have in your life, with the amounts of time you devote to each during a week. Take note of the ones you can afford to lessen your involvement with, and let people know you are stepping back a bit to focus on a new project that means a lot to you. Think of the easy stuff first: time spent watching TV, playing video games, or surfing Facebook and Instagram.

    The more time you can free up, the quicker you’ll be able to start seeing results.

    2. Inventory your skills, abilities, and weaknesses.

    Which skill sets does your new business idea require? You likely possess at least some of the necessary skills to make your business happen, but if you don’t, you’re faced with a tough decision. Spend time learning a new skill or outsource to someone else who can help.

    In this Skill Assessment, you’ll list out every asset and skill your business idea requires and map those needs to what you can or cannot do for yourself right now.

    3. Validate your business idea.

    Fortune magazine recently conducted an intensive study of 101 failed startups, looking at the question of why startups fail according to their founders. The No. 1 reason most businesses fail, Fortune found, is a lack of market need for their product (this was cited by over 42 percent of the failed companies).

    This really highlights the need to fully validate your idea and get honest feedback from potential customers before you start building, creating, and spending money. It’s human nature to think that we’re right and that our ideas are always amazing.

    Unfortunately, our business concepts and product ideas are often not fully thought out, useful, or even properly researched.

    4. Write down your competitive advantage.

    competitive advantage is defined as a unique advantage that allows you, as a business, to generate greater sales or margins and/or acquire and retain more customers than competitors. It’s what makes your business your business.

    planning

    This can be in the form of your cost structure, product offering, distribution network, customer support, or elsewhere in the business.

    5. Set detailed, measurable, and realistic goals.

    Without setting attainable goals and realistic deadlines for yourself, you’re going to spend a lot of time spinning your wheels. It’s hard to get anywhere if you don’t know exactly where you’re going. In my experience, it works best to set daily, weekly, and monthly goals for myself. It helps me to stick with both the short-term and long-term objectives.

    In the beginning, your daily goals are most likely small wins or to-do list type of items, then you'll gradually start hitting milestones as you get closer to launching your business.

    6. Map your gameplan to launch date and beyond.

    It’s one thing to set your goals and an entirely different activity to map out exactly how you’re going to get to point B, C, D, and beyond. You need to be particularly proactive with this step. Nobody can do this for you, but you won’t be able to do it all on your own, either.

    WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann is a strong advocate of "always knowing your plan B." It's how he's adapted his co-working space communities into a multi-billion dollar business.

    Your ability to problem-solve and navigate around your obstacles will determine the level of success of your business.

    7. Outsource everything you can.

    This is all about focus. Look for opportunities to outsource every possible part of your business creation that you can.

    Obviously, you don’t want someone else planning your goals, roadmap, or telling you 100 percent what your product or service should look like. The real point here is that you need to be doing only what you do best. While it would be great if you could code your own website to test out your online service idea, if you don’t already command a knowledge of developing, you’re looking at a few months of dedicated learning time just to get to the point where you’ll be able to understand the basics.

    8. Actively seek feedback.

    Your goal is to build a product or service that provides value to people. It does no good to build something that nobody wants. It’s important that you seek unbiased, outside feedback to make sure you’re building something that’s actually marketable.

    Do this from day one and never stop. To find your early feedback group, you want to target people you know will give you only an honest opinion. Reach out to them personally. My go-to group consists of a handful of close entrepreneurial friends and a few mentors I regularly keep in touch with.

    boss meeting

    From here, you can start to widen your scope for feedback and begin incorporating Facebook, LinkedIn Groups, Reddit, ProductHuntGrowthHackers, and your local Starbucks.

    9. Don't blur the lines between personal projects and work.

    It may seem tempting to create a “better version of Company You Work At,” but unless your employer missed some major lessons along the way, your contract probably clearly stipulates that you’ve agreed not to do just that. Plus, that’s just bad practice and it can (will) destroy a lot of relationships that could instead be very helpful for you one day.

    If you’re under any non-compete clauses, assignment of invention clauses, or non-disclosure agreements, then it’s best to consult your attorney for personalized advice on this matter.

    It may seem obvious, but don’t work on your project during company time.

    You’ll also need to refrain from using company resources on your personal project, no matter how tempting that may be. This includes not using your work computer or any online tools, software, subscriptions, or notebooks, as well as not seeking the assistance of other employees.

    10. Reach critical mass before quitting your day job. 

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m an advocate of only doing things that I’m passionate about, and doing those things with 100 percent of my energy. That said, I’m willing to take my time in fully vetting an idea, discovering my target market, and testing that idea with them, before making the solo decision that “this must be great!”

    Having the time to continue thinking things through and seeking the advice of others will greatly benefit your new business.

    Even more importantly, unless you’re working on a high-growth startup and can secure investor funding (or you’re able to self-fund), you’re realistically going to need some form of sustainable income before your new project is able to be that sole source of sustenance for you.

    Starting your business while working a full-time job will undoubtedly be difficult, but it’s doable. There are as many paths to entrepreneurship as there are entrepreneurs in this world. Take these steps into account, and you’ll be well on your way to being your own boss.

    Imagine that awesome feeling.

    SEE ALSO: The hidden costs of starting your own business

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    millennials

    So 'leader' isn't in your job title.

    No one is asking you to manage a team or take charge of a multimillion-dollar project. So what?

    Even young, green employees can boost their leadership skills by learning from others and volunteering for small-scale assignments.

    And they should learn to lead now, given that 73% of the nearly 800 participants in The Hartford 2014 Millennial Leadership Survey said they aspire to be leaders in the next five years.

    Continue for eight expert-approved ways young people can learn to lead.

    1. Observe and learn.

    "Be consciously aware, and intentionally observe what other leaders are doing that's working or what they're doing that's not working," says Kevin Eikenberry, co-author of "From Bud to Boss: Secrets to a Successful Transition to Remarkable Leadership" and chief potential officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group, a leadership consulting company.

    Note how leaders in your office present their ideas, influence people and communicate. Think outside your workplace, too. "We can put the leadership filter on our life experiences," Eikenberry says. Observe the leadership styles of coaches (professional or peewee), CEOs, religious leaders and politicians.​

    2. Find a mentor.

    Ask that leader you observed to be your mentor — or if she simply has 30 minutes for you to buy her coffee and pick her brain. When you meet, ask direct questions and listen, says Lindsey Pollak, author of "Becoming the Boss" and The Hartford's millennial workplace expert.

    "There are reasons why people have risen up the ladder," she points out, adding that their decades' worth of wisdom is invaluable. (If you're not sure whom to approach, check out "How to Find a 'Just Right' Professional Mentor.")

    3. Study up on the classics.

    Head to the library, and check out Pollak's short list of classic leadership books: "How to Win Friends and Influence People,""The Effective Executive,""The One Minute Manager" and "The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People." This reading will be helpful guidance and help you communicate with higher-ups, given you'll be "speaking the same language," Pollak says. "You might not have 30 years of experience, but you'll have a commonality in having read some of the same books," she adds.

    4. And see what's online, too.

    E-newsletters, blogs and social media can be sources of leadership advice as well. On Twitter, Pollak advises following a diverse range of leadership experts who vary in ethnicity, gender and generation. Eikenberry adds to search the #leadership hashtag.

    5. Fill your gaps.

    As you read advice about leadership, also tackle areas of business where you lack confidence. Can't figure out Excel pivot tables for the life of you? Wish you were a better public speaker? A little rusty on budget management? "Anything that's standing in your way that you don't know how to do, fill that gap," Pollak says. The courses offered through these free websites may help you do just that.

    6. Oh, and lead.

    "Being in the leadership role will teach you more than all the books combined," Pollak says. When you do begin to lead, Eikenberry stresses that new leaders — well, all leaders — should avoid an entitled or demanding approach, and instead "come from a place of learning, growth and serving others." He adds: "It's not about a power grab – it's about how do I help a group of people achieve a goal?"

    7. Volunteer to lead where you can

    So, your manager isn't exactly begging you to lead the next major project. Make your own opportunities. "One of the smartest things you can do early in your career is volunteer for something no one else wants to do," Pollak says.

    That weekend assignment, the annoying client, the pain-in-the-butt project — give 'em a try. "Step up," she says. "People will notice that, and you'll learn so much."

    8. And lead outside the office.

    Don't limit your leadership opportunities to the workplace. "A leader is someone who steps up, someone who takes action," Pollak says. "Be the one who steps up at work and in your personal life, too." Host a potluck, start a book club, coach a T-ball team or organize a holiday gift exchange. After all, "practice makes perfect" applies to leading as much as anything else. As Pollak puts it: "The more you lead, the better you get at it."

    SEE ALSO: 20 successful entrepreneurs share the most important lesson they learned in their 20s

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    3986164316_9c49f5310c_o

    We’re all commitment-phobes. We scan, we skim, we browse, but rarely do we read.

    Our eyes ping-pong back and forth from facebook posts to open chat boxes, unclicked emails to GIFs of dancing cats, scanning for keywords but barely digesting what we see. Average time spent on an online article is 15 seconds.

    In 2014, the Pew Research Center revealed that one-quarter of American adults hadn’t read a single book in the previous year.

    And that’s a shame because those who read consistently exhibit significantly greater memory and mental abilities at all stages in life. They’re also better public speakers, thinkers and, according to some studies, better people in general.

    Cracking open a book before you go to bed could help combat insomnia, too: A 2009 study from researchers at University of Sussex showed that six minutes of reading reduces stress by 68% (more relaxing than either music or a cup of tea), thus clearing the mind and readying the body for sleep.

    The reasoning, per psychologist and study author Dr. David Lewis is that a book is “more than merely a distraction, but an active engaging of the imagination,” one that “causes you to enter an altered state of consciousness.”

    It doesn't matter if your book of choice is by James Patterson or James Joyce, fiction or fact, so long as it you find it fully absorbing. Because when the mind is engaged in a world constructed by words, tension evaporates and the body relaxes, paving the way for sleep.  

    SEE ALSO: What 17 successful people read before bed

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    conversation

    Do you ever feel like you’re dragging? Or like what you’re trying to accomplish is just barely eluding you?

    The answer to these problems may be as simple as changing body habits or adjusting your body language.

    I like to call them body language boosts. It turns out that what the body does and how the brain responds are very closely connected.

    As more and more studies prove, there are some easy ways to boost your energy and clarify your thinking just by changing your everyday body language. Really!

    1. Creativity boost

    When I imagine a team of comedy writers brainstorming creative ideas for sketches, I always imagine a big room with several couches and everyone lying down with their hands laced behind their heads. Why? Because studies have found that lying down actually improves creative thinking.

    Noradrenaline, a brain chemical that improves thinking in stressful situations, is released in higher amounts when standing. To boost creative thinking, those hormones need to be lower. So, if you’re making an important presentation, standing is great. But if you are trying to think outside the box, lie down and relax!

    You may not want to do this in your office — unless you have a couch, or a bed, or a bathtub. Try it (and let me know what your Eureka was!).

    2. Mood boost

    For mood-boosting, simple actions make a difference. Like smiling, for instance. When you smile, even when you don’t feel like it, your brain immediately puts out feel-good hormones that improve your mood and slow your heart rate.

    One recent afternoon, my eleven-year-old daughter Daniela was having a tough time — she was stressing about finding a "good" song for an upcoming play audition. She surprised me when she later told me that decided to force herself to smile ("even though I didn't feel like it, Mom") and lie down for a few minutes. She said that she started to feel better and, in fact, came up with a good audition song. She added that she then was so happy that she came up with a good idea that she was then "really smiling" and that made her feel even better.  

    Believe it or not, improving your posture does the same thing. When you slouch, you feel more depressed, both in mood and in energy level. Sit up straight, and you’ll notice your mood start to improve. Smile at the same time, and you’ll feel even better! To finish it off, you can put your hand on your heart or on your arm to experience that physical contact that also stimulates feelings of confidence and security.

    Touching causes the release of oxytocin, one of the many de-stressing hormones. When my girls come home from school they often will come in my office and ask for some oxytocin — of course, what they are really asking for is a hug. However, almost any gentle touch will help.

    My daughter likes to rub something soft on her index finger. She has done this since she was an infant (in fact, that was one of the ways I knew which of my identical twins I was holding). She still does it at age eleven, especially when she experiences stress. And my friend once gave me a “worry stone” — a small, indented piece of marble to rub while thinking. It really is quite soothing! Then again, if you prefer, you can just give yourself a pat on the back!

    Acro Yoga

    3. Energy boost

    Mood and energy levels are closely connected. Whatever lifts your mood will likely affect your energy, and vice versa. But there are a few more things you can do. Though your mother may have told you not to chew gum, and I wouldn’t recommend it at a board meeting, chewing gum while thinking can improve your alertness. I actually have a friend who chews gum while driving to keep herself alert. I'll bet she just discovered this naturally and it also may explain why many of the teachers in my daughter's school allow the kids to chew gum. 

    For a supercharged energy boost, though, just get up and move! By moving for just a couple minutes every half hour, you will feel a surge of energy. Movement increases blood flow to the body and oxygen to the brain. What can you do to increase movement at work?

    I like to take short yoga breaks created by my friend Gurtej Khlasa known as the Energy Guru. I met her at a conference several years ago and I have to tell you she is the real deal. She created a tool kit for busy people to quickly and easily get reengergized and reonneted in the moment. I keep it at my desk. 

    Another easy way is to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk to that co-workers desk and talk to her personally instead of sending an email. Hold “walking meetings,” discussing on-the-go. Stand up and stretch, or step outside for fresh air. Your energy and mood will improve, your thinking will clear, and you will be more productive, which is good for the whole company!

    4. Clear thinking boost

    Speaking of clear thinking, here’s something many people neglect: a good night’s sleep. Yet this may be the most important habit of them all. Somehow, in the United States, it has become a badge of honor to function on little sleep. 

    But performance, and in fact, safety, is seriously impaired. Driving while drowsy decreases reaction time as much as driving drunk. Insufficient sleep is one of the major factors in depression, heart disease, obesity, and many other health problems. A study published in 2007 found that decreasing sleep from 7 hours to 5 hours doubled the death rate for all causes.

    man sleeping

    Here’s what a good night’s sleep does for you: it improves alertness, concentration, judgment, and reasoning skills; it improves both long-term and short-term memories because those processes take place during sleep; it decreases appetite; and, it improves energy levels enormously.

    There is no better way to improve all around health, mood, and thinking than a good night’s sleep. How many hours do adults need? Some recent studies suggest 7 hours as ideal, but there's still some controversy over exactly how many hours is best.

    These easy, free methods work with your natural body chemistry to make you healthier, happier, smarter, and more energetic.

    SEE ALSO: 6 body language secrets of powerful people

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    Garry Kasparov

    Garry Kasparov and his long-time rival Anatoly Karpov — two of the greatest chess players of all-time — took their respective seats around the chess board.

    The 1990 World Chess Championship was about to begin.

    The two men would play 24 games to decide the champion with the highest scoring player being declared the World Chess Champion.

    In total, the match would stretch for three months with the first 12 games taking place in New York and the final 12 games being played in Lyon, France.

    Kasparov started off well, but soon began to make mistakes. He lost the seventh game and let multiple victories slip away during the first half of the tournament. After the first 12 games, the two men left New York with the match tied at 6-6. The New York Times reported that "Mr. Kasparov had lost confidence and grown nervous in New York." 

    If Kasparov was going to retain his title as the best in the world, it was going to take everything he had.

    "Playing Kasparov chess"

    Josh Waitzkin was a chess prodigy as a child and won multiple U.S. Junior Championships before the age of 10. Along the way, Waitzkin and his father had the opportunity to connect with Garry Kasparov and discuss chess strategy with him. In particular, they learned how Kasparov dealt with remarkably difficult matches like the one he faced against Karpov in the 1990 World Chess Championship.

    Waitzkin shares the story in his book, "The Art of Learning" (audiobook):

    Kasparov was a fiercely aggressive chess player who thrived on energy and confidence. My father wrote a book called 'Mortal Games' about Garry, and during the years surrounding the 1990 Kasparov-Karpov match, we both spent quite a lot of time with him.

    At one point, after Kasparov had lost a big game and was feeling dark and fragile, my father asked Garry how he would handle his lack of confidence in the next game. Garry responded that he would try to play the chess moves that he would have played if he were feeling confident. He would pretend to feel confident, and hopefully trigger the state.

    Kasparov was an intimidator over the board. Everyone in the chess world was afraid of Garry and he fed on that reality. If Garry bristled at the chessboard, opponents would wither. So if Garry was feeling bad, but puffed up his chest, made aggressive moves, and appeared to be the manifestation of Confidence itself, then opponents would become unsettled. Step by step, Garry would feed off his own chess moves, off the created position, and off his opponent’s building fear, until soon enough the confidence would become real and Garry would be in flow … 

    He was not being artificial. Garry was triggering his zone by playing Kasparov chess.

    —Josh Waitzkin, "The Art of Learning"

    When the second half of the World Chess Championship began in Lyon, France, Kasparov forced himself to play aggressive. He took the lead by winning the 16th game. With his confidence building, he rattled off decisive wins in the 18th and 20th games as well. When it was all said and done, Kasparov lost only two of the final 12 games and retained his title as World Chess Champion.

    He would continue to hold the title for another 10 years.

    Garry Kasparov deep blue IBM chess artificial intelligence machine learning

    "Fake it until you become it"

    It can be easy to view performance as a one-way street. We often hear about a physically gifted athlete who underperforms on the field or a smart student who flounders in the classroom. The typical narrative about underachievers is that if they could just "get their head right" and develop the correct "mental attitude" then they would perform at the top of their game. 

    There is no doubt that your mindset and your performance are connected in some way. But this connection works both ways. A confident and positive mindset can be both the cause of your actions and the result of them. The link between physical performance and mental attitude is a two-way street.

    Confidence is often the result of displaying your ability. This is why Garry Kasparov’s method of playing as if he felt confident could lead to actual confidence. Kasparov was letting his actions inspire his beliefs.

    These aren’t just feel-good notions or fluffy self-help ideas. There is hard science proving the link between behavior and confidence. Amy Cuddy, a Harvard researcher who studies body language, has shown through her groundbreaking research that simply standing in more confident poses can increase confidence and decrease anxiety.

    Cuddy’s research subjects experienced actual biological changes in their hormone production including increased testosterone levels (which is linked to confidence) and decreased cortisol levels (which is linked to stress and anxiety). These findings go beyond the popular fake it until you make it philosophy. According to Cuddy, you can "fake it until you become it."

    How to build confidence

    When my friend Beck Tench began her weight loss journey, she repeatedly asked herself the question, "What would a healthy person do?"

    When she was deciding what to order a restaurant: what would a healthy person order? When she was sitting around on a Saturday morning: what would a healthy person do with that time? Beck didn’t feel like a healthy person at the start, but she figured that if she acted like a healthy person, then eventually she would become one. And within a few years, she had lost over 100 pounds.

    Confidence is a wonderful thing to have, but if you find yourself overcome with fear, self-doubt, or uncertainty then let your behavior drive your beliefs. Play as if you’re at your best. Work as if you’re on top of your game. Talk to that person as if you’re feeling confident. You can use bold actions to trigger a bold mindset. 

    In short, what would a brave person do?

    SEE ALSO: 8 incredibly easy ways to be more confident

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    Usain Bolt

    Know what’s really interesting? Learning how Navy SEALs build mental toughness to handle deadly situations.

    Know what else is really interesting? Learning how Olympic athletes deal with the pressure of competition when the entire world is watching.

    Know what’s the most interesting of all? When you find out they do a lot of the same things.

    Mental Links To Excellence” is a research study of what Olympians do to prepare for their big day. And so much of it lines up with what I learned researching SEAL training and talking to former Navy Seal Platoon Commander James Waters.

    The best part is you and I can use these methods to perform better at work and in our personal lives.

    Let’s find out how…

    1. Talk positively to yourself

    Your brain is always going. It’s estimated you say 300 to 1000 words to yourself per minute. Olympic athletes and SEALs agree: those words need to be positive.

    One of the Olympians said:

    Immediately before the race I was thinking about trying to stay on that edge, just letting myself relax, and doing a lot of positive self-talk about what I was going to do. I just felt like we couldn’t do anything wrong. It was just up to us. I said, “There’s nothing that’s affecting us in a negative way, the only thing now is to do it, and we can do it . . . I just have to do my best.”

    SEALs use the same method — and they do it in a far more terrifying scenario. How terrifying?

    You’re underwater with SCUBA gear. An instructor suddenly swims up behind you. He yanks the regulator out of your mouth. You can’t breathe. Then he ties your oxygen lines in a knot.

    Your brain starts screaming, “YOU ARE GOING TO DIE.” But you have to keep cool, stay underwater and follow procedure to get your gear back in working order so you can breathe again.

    And this happens over and over — for 20 minutes. Welcome to the dreaded “pool comp” section of SEAL qualification.

    You get 4 attempts. Why? Because you need them. Only one in five guys can do it the first time out.

    Want to see just how scary it is? Watch this video from 8 mins to 10 mins, 5 seconds:

    The danger here is panic. And SEALs are not allowed to panic… even when they cannot breathe. They must think positive to keep calm and pass “pool comp.”

    So how can you use this?

    Got a big presentation at work coming up? Encountering obstacles? You need to remember the 3 P’s.

    Permanence, pervasiveness and whether it’s personal.

    Pessimists tell themselves that bad events:

    1. Will last a long time, or forever. (“I’ll never get this done.”)
    2. Are universal. (“You can’t trust any of those people.”)
    3. Are their own fault. (“I’m terrible at this.”)

    Optimists look at setbacks in the exact opposite way:

    1. Bad things are temporary. (“That happens occasionally but it’s no big deal.”)
    2. Bad things have a specific cause and aren’t universal. (“When the weather is better that won’t be a problem.”)
    3. It’s not their fault. (“I’m good at this but today wasn’t my lucky day.”)

    When talking to yourself, be an optimist, not a pessimist.

    (For more on how to think positively, click here.)

    Okay, so you’re talking to yourself positively. What else do Olympians and SEALs agree on when you need to be at your best?

    navy seals

    2. Setting goals

    You hear this a lot. But you probably don’t do it. Specifically, ask yourself what you need to achieve right now.

    From the Olympian Study:

    The best athletes had clear daily goals. They knew what they wanted to accomplish each day, each workout, each sequence or interval. They were determined to accomplish these goals and focused fully on doing so.

    SEALs are taught to set goals too. Sometimes really small ones, but it’s enough to keep them going when every muscle in their body is screaming for them to quit:

    With goal setting the recruits were taught to set goals in extremely short chunks. For instance, one former Navy Seal discussed how he set goals such as making it to lunch, then dinner.

    And what happened when they achieved those goals? SEALs set new ones. The focus is on always improving. Here’s former SEAL Platoon Commander, James Waters:

    Eric, this gets at my point of the SEAL experience, this constant learning, constantly not being satisfied. That’s one of the interesting things about the community: you never feel like you’ve got it all figured out. If you do feel like you figured it out, you probably aren’t doing it right. If you’re not willing to learn from other people then frankly you’re not doing all you need to do to be the best operator you can possibly be. It’s a culture of constant self-improvement and constant measurement of how you’re doing. That’s a theme I think that all SEALs would agree is critical.

    So how can you use this?

    Ask yourself, “What do I need to do to make this presentation better?”

    Write your goals down and track your progress. As Dan Pink notes in his bestselling book on motivation, Drive, nothing motivates you better than seeing progress.

    (For more secrets on how to build grit — from my interview with Navy SEAL platoon commander James Waters — click here.)

    You’re thinking positive and setting goals. But how do you get ready for the unexpected problems that always pop up at the last minute?

    german luge athlete

    3. Practice visualization

    Close your eyes. See the big challenge. Walk through every step of it. Sound silly? Maybe, but the best of the best do this a lot.

    From the study of Olympians:

    These athletes had very well developed imagery skills and used them daily. They used imagery to prepare themselves to get what they wanted out of training, to perfect skills within the training sessions, to make technical corrections, to imagine themselves being successful in competition, and to see themselves achieving their ultimate goal.

    Again, SEALs are taught to do the same thing:

    With mental rehearsal they were taught to visualize themselves succeeding in their activities and going through the motions.

    So how can you use this?

    Visualize that presentation. But don’t merely fantasize about being perfect and just make yourself feel good. That kills motivation:

    Results indicate that one reason positive fantasies predict poor achievement is because they do not generate energy to pursue the desired future.

    You want to see the problems you might encounter and visualize how you will overcome them.

    Dan Coyle, the expert on expertise, says it’s an essential part of how US Special Forces prepare for every dangerous mission:

    …they spend the entire morning going over every possible mistake or disaster that could happen during the mission. Every possible screwup is mercilessly examined, and linked to an appropriate response: if the helicopter crash-lands, we’ll do X. If we are dropped off at the wrong spot, we’ll do Y. If we are outnumbered, we’ll do Z.

    (For more lessons from top athletes on how to be the best, click here.)

    You’re visualizing the big day and walking through how you’ll deal with adversity. Cool. But how do you take that to the next level like the pros do?

    5640806946_411b340656_o

    4. Use simulations

    Visualization is great because you can do it anywhere as often as you like. But in the end you must make practice as close to the real thing as possible.

    From the study of Olympians:

    The best athletes made extensive use of simulation training. They approached training runs, routines, plays, or scrimmages in practice as if they were at the competition, often wearing what they would wear and preparing like they would prepare.

    And SEALs didn’t just visualize either. Before the raid on Bin Laden’s compound they built full-size replicas of the location so their training would be tailored to what they would face.

    Via Daniel Coyle’s excellent book The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills:

    When U.S. Navy SEAL Team 6 mounted its May 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, it prepared by constructing full-scale replicas of the compound in North Carolina and Nevada, and rehearsing for three weeks. Dozens of times the SEALs simulated the operation. Dozens of times, they created various conditions they might encounter.

    Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel Mike Kenny agreed:

    In Army parlance they say, “train like you fight.” Don’t screw around and say, “Okay, when it’s for real then we’ll really ramp up.” No, you need to do that now. You need to train as hard and as realistic as possible, because this notion that when it’s for real and the stakes are high, that’s when we’ll really turn it on and rise to the occasion… that’s not what happens. You will not rise to the occasion. You will sink to the lowest level of your training. It’s the truth.

    So how can you use this?

    How will you deal with the fear of standing in front of a big crowd when you give that presentation?

    Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, and an introvert herself, is now a professional public speaker. How did she overcome public speaking fear?

    She practiced in front of small, supportive groups to desensitize herself — she used a simulation.

    From my interview with Susan:

    I really had to desensitize myself to my fears of public speaking. I did that by practicing in very small, very supportive and very low-speed environments where it didn’t matter if I screwed up. And eventually you get used to the strange feeling of being looked at, which used to make me feel horrified. You become accustomed to it over time and your fear dissipates.

    (To learn how to overcome your problems the way Special Forces operatives do, click here.)

    So Olympic athletes and Navy SEALs agree on a lot. Let’s round up what we’ve learned and see how it can work for you.

    navy seal

    Sum up

    Here’s what Olympic athletes and Navy SEALs both do to be the best and achieve mental toughness:

    • Talk Positively To Yourself: Remember the 3 P’s: tell yourself bad things aren’t permanent, pervasive or personal — but good things are.
    • Setting Goals: Know what you want to achieve. Write it down. Focus on progress.
    • Practice Visualization: Don’t fantasize about getting what you want but see yourself overcoming specific obstacles.
    • Use Simulations: Always make your practice as close to the real thing as possible.

    Olympians and Navy SEALs, by definition, are the best at what they do. But the methods they use to get there are things we can all use.

    And those techniques aren’t based on muscles or natural talent. They’re all about good preparation and hard work. Apply those and you can get there too.

    As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said:

    What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

    Join over 205,000 readers. Get a free weekly update via email here.

    SEE ALSO: What being a Navy SEAL taught me about excellence

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    writing

    To succeed at work and in life, you can't sit still for long.

    So how can you make sure you're getting better every single day?

    We sifted through Quora responses to the question, "What can I do to improve myself every day?," and did some research of our own.

    Here are some of our favorite suggestions.

    Pick a word of the day.

    Each morning, choose a word that will guide the remainder of your day, Quora user Rachel Rofé writes. "This helps train your brain to make situations into whatever you want them to be."

    Aim to improve 1% a day.

    "Pick one thing. Start small,"writes Quora user Shannon Anderson. "Try for 1% improvement each day or each week or whatever increment of time." For example, if your goal is weight loss, start by focusing on the first pound and then go from there, she writes.

    Come up with 10 new ideas.

    Quora user Gal Sivan shares a piece of advice she learned from James Altucher's guide to becoming an idea machine: Write down 10 new ideas every day. Doing so "literally changed my life forever," Sivan writes.

    Write in a journal.

    Consistently writing in a journal can be a great way to vent your thoughts and emotions. Quora user Nikhil Jarotia recommends writing every day how you feel, what you've learned, what you're proud of, and what you'd like to improve.

    Meditate daily.

    The benefits of meditation are great, ranging from better stress management to a lower risk of depression. Quora user Zoë Buchanan suggests spending five to 10 minutes per day meditating and simply thinking about good memories, like a beach trip or a past Christmas. "Even if you are having a great day, escaping will always help, and the practice will become second nature," Buchanan writes.

    Exercise.

    Multiple Quora users suggest exercising as a way to improve on a daily basis. Exercise has been proven to boost your mood, reduce stress, increase confidence, and help you sleep.

    Magnus Carlsen Chess

    Play "smart" games.

    Certain games can expand and stimulate your mind, and they can also be fun. Consider regularly playing games like Scrabble or chess, or start partaking in puzzle-solving games such as Sudoku.

    Start a "Stop Doing" list.

    Take note of the unproductive ways you spend your time and focus on breaking those habits, says Shane Parrish. Once the old habits are broken, devote your energy to starting new, healthier habits that will lead to self-improvement.

    Set aside time for nothing.

    Sometimes, the best thing to do is nothing at all. Sitting in silence can help you get inspiration and reflect on your day, writesClaudia Azula Altucher. Mentally strong people take full advantage of solitude, since it helps them quiet their minds.

    SEE ALSO: 11 productivity tricks small-business owners can use to get more done every day

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    harvard

    You know the drill: Every business or management book that’s ever been published promises to tell you the silver bullet for being successful.

    Sounds interesting but, of course, most of them don’t say much more than what’s printed in the summary on the back. 

    As someone who’s read a ton of business books over the past few years, I figured I would save you some time and money by sharing the ones that I’ve found to really be useful.

    If you only have time to read a few, give one of these five a try!

    SEE ALSO: I took Harvard Business School's new pre-MBA course online — and it is definitely worth the 150 hours and $1,500

    1. "Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard"

    This is probably the most useful general management book I’ve ever read.

    Chip and Dan Heath talk through different methods for successfully implementing change at work and at home by sharing a couple of frameworks and illustrating their points using stories.

    The best part about this book is that it’s simple — I read it over four years ago, and I still remember their key takeaways and apply them in my daily life.



    2. "Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most"

    Need a go-to book for focusing on interpersonal skills or relationship-building techniques? "Difficult Conversations" is it. I like this book because it is able to boil down an extremely complicated topic into a set of very actionable recommendations.

    Going through this book with other people can also be a good way to strengthen work relationships or bounce ideas off of others. For example, my manager and I read it jointly and then moving forward were able to use language from the book when discussing sticky situations.

    The need to exercise empathy is what has stuck with me most from this book—without fully grounding yourself in the other party’s situation, it’s very difficult to reach a consensus.



    3. "The One Minute Manager"

    I know, this one sounds like a gimmick, but it’s actually incredibly useful in day-to-day work life.

    Essentially, Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson provide the reader with a bunch of extremely simple, quick actions a manager can take to better oversee and motivate employees.

    It’s especially helpful for someone who is new to managing others because it presents a wide variety of scenarios that I found useful to think through before encountering them in real life.

    This is also a great book to talk through with senior members of your team, as they’ve likely read it and will have some advice to offer about implementing key concepts. Advice is structured around one minute goals, one minute praisings, and one minute reprimands. 



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    woman depressed thinking glum unhappy

    Back in the day, unwinding once the clock hit 5 p.m. meant a pow-wow with coworkers at a local watering hole.

    But as work pressures have exponentially increased — admit it, you check office email in bed — lowering your cortisol levels requires more than just a happy hour.

    In fact, a study released this year by the Harvard and Stanford business schools found a direct link between work-related stress and serious health issues ranging from hypertension to depression. 

    “It’s the relentless demand and constant change. There is no coming home and unwinding anymore — only the ever-present struggle to set boundaries for when you’re ‘on’ and ‘off,’ ” says Sharon Melnick, a business psychologist and author of “Success Under Stress: Powerful Tools for Staying Calm, Confident, and Productive When the Pressure’s On.”

    If this all sounds frighteningly familiar, take a deep breath — literally.

    Because if you’re finding it exceedingly more difficult to deal with stress at work, you may need to embrace something different. And by different we mean strategies you may have once deemed too “alternative-y.”

    “You can’t manage the things outside of you, but you can manage yourself — your physiology, your psychology,” Melnick says.

    To help you do just that, we’ve rounded up five wellness trends hitting the mainstream that are simple enough to execute from a quiet spot in your office.

    Although they may seem a bit out there to some — ever heard of tapping? — they could be just the thing to help you reclaim the Zen that work zaps out of you.

    Related: 5 Ways Your Health Can Impact Your Financial Well-Being

    Mindfulness meditation

    What is it? A type of meditation derived from Buddhism in which you focus on your breathing in order to remain present and in the moment.

    It’s garnered attention in recent years, thanks to high-profile converts like Steve Jobs, who practiced mindfulness meditation regularly, and Arianna Huffington, who describes it as a way to fight burnout in her 2014 book, “Thrive.”

    They’re fans for a reason: A 2011 study found that eight weeks of practicing mindfulness meditation triggered changes in the brain, increasing grey matter in areas that help regulate emotion, learning, and memory.

    How to practice it: Sit in a comfortable chair or cross-legged on the floor. Then close your eyes and simply breathe, intently focusing on each breath you take.

    “Your mind will wander, and that’s normal. But bring it back,” says Jane Ehrman, a mind-body coach and owner of the practice Images of Wellness. “The more you practice bringing it back, and just breathing, [the more] you’re teaching yourself to be present and far more aware of when your mind wanders.”

    Ehrman suggests starting with five minutes a few times a week, and then gradually building up to seven and then 15 minutes.

    meditate

    Where to learn more: Visit mindful.org for a video that can help guide you through your first mindfulness meditation session. You can also download the Headspace app, which was created by a former Buddhist monk and features daily mindfulness exercises.

    Related: How Yoga and Meditation at Work Are Boosting the Corporate Bottom Line

    Adult coloring books

    What is it? As the name implies, it’s the childhood practice of staying inside the lines, except with more intricate patterns and pictures.

    And it’s gaining momentum among members of the grown-up set who want a little art therapy to help relieve stress.

    In fact, at one point, adult coloring books outsold Harper Lee’s hotly anticipated “Go Set a Watchman” on Amazon.com’s best-seller list. And Game of Thrones fans can expect a coloring book based on the T.V. series to hit stores this fall.

    “When you’re coloring, all you have to do is stay in the moment,” Erhman says. “It gets you out of your head. That’s what’s so great about it.”

    How to practice it: Order an adult coloring book off Amazon.com, or download free patterns and pictures online.

    Then grab your crayons, colored pencils, or markers—and start coloring away. Consider it an alternative lunchtime activity to checking emails on your smartphone.

    adult coloring

    Where to learn more: Check out this list to see what types of adult coloring books are available — from hypnotic patterns to whimsical scenes — and get recommendations on art supplies.

    Related: 5 Motivating Money Books You Can’t Afford Not to Download in 2015

    Tapping

    What is it? A stress-relieving psychotherapy technique that triggers acupressure points on your body by tapping them with your fingers.

    Also known as EFT (emotional freedom technique), tapping has been around in its current state since the 1990s. But it garnered more mainstream attention after tapping practitioner Nick Ortner’s book, “The Tapping Solution: A Revolutionary System for Stress-Free Living,” made the New York Times best-seller’s list in 2013.

    Although it’s often been met with skepticism, a 2012 study in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease found that tapping reduced cortisol levels — and improved symptoms of anxiety and depression.

    “It helps reverse your [negative] wiring,” Melnick says.

    How to practice it: Start by using your index and middle fingers to gently tap the outer pinky side of your other hand, while stating a simple phrase aloud that acknowledges what is stressing you out, but affirms yourself regardless.

    For example: “Even though I’m up against a big deadline, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

    Then gently tap eight other acupressure points throughout your upper body, in order, while repeating what is troubling you.

    The designated points are the top of your head, your eyebrow, the side of the eye, the bone underneath your eye, the space underneath your nose, your chin, your collarbone, and under your armpit.

    If you can’t get enough privacy to tap at your desk, try a quick session in the office bathroom whenever you’re feeling anxious.

    Where to learn more: Check out more detailed instructions from EFT founder Gary Craig here to make sure you’re tapping in exactly the right spots. You can also visit Ortner’s site for a slightly modified tutorial.

    Related: Are You Ready to ‘Tap’ Your Way Out of Debt?

    Pranayama breathing

    What is it? Yoga-based breathing techniques that provide a calming effect, like alternate-nostril breathing (Nadi Shodhana) and “cooling breath,” which helps lower your body temperature (Sitali).

    Studies have shown that not only does pranayama breathing reduce stress, but it also helps improve cardiovascular function and symptoms of asthma.

    And as more companies incorporate yoga and mindfulness into employee wellness programs, they’re also increasing awareness of controlled breathing.

    For example, Aetna’s yoga and meditation classes for employees teach breathing techniques, while a popular mental-wellness course offered at Google encourages employees to take a deep, conscious breath as part of a five-step process to deal with work stress.

    How to practice it: For alternate-nostril breathing, sit up straight, with your shoulders relaxed. Bring your right hand up to your nose, folding your index and middle finger toward your palm, so they are out of the way.

    Then place your ring and pinky fingers over your left nostril, and your thumb over the right nostril. (These fingers will alternate closing and opening your nostrils as you breathe.)

    Gently press down with your thumb to close your right nostril, inhaling through your left. Then close off your left nostril, and exhale through the right. Then inhale through the right, and exhale through the left again. This is one cycle. Try repeating 10 cycles.

    For cooling breath, breathe in for several seconds as though you were sipping through a straw, creating a wind tunnel by curling the tip of your tongue. Exhale through your nose.

    “When you’re feeling heated, [cooling breath] can immediately calm you down—and take your brain out of hijack mode,” Melnick says.

    Yoga

    Where to learn more: There are many types of pranayama breathing, so get a rundown of descriptions and benefits of each at Yoga Journal. You can also watch video tutorials of alternate-nostril breathing here, and cooling breath here.

    Guided imagery

    What is it? A visualization technique that helps you relax by imagining a calming place, or doing a mental rehearsal of a stressful situation, such as giving a presentation in front of clients.

    A variation on strategies used to help athletes visualize a win, guided imagery is now popular as a wellness technique.

    2015 medical study, for instance, showed it significantly decreased anxiety levels among patients undergoing an angiogram, while the Cleveland Clinic says it can have a positive effect on your heart rate and blood pressure.

    That might be why Richard Branson put guided imagery on in-flight meditation channels on some Virgin Atlantic flights, allowing stressed-out travelers to transport themselves to a deserted island or a summer meadow.

    How to practice it: Sit in a comfortable spot, close your eyes, and take three or four deep breaths. Imagine yourself in nature, or walking on a path. If it helps, listen to music or nature sounds.

    “You’re putting yourself in that mindset of everything going well,” Ehrman says.

    Next, picture you’re about to take on the source of your anxiety — for instance, that big presentation.

    “Tell yourself all kinds of positive facts, like ‘I know this information. I know how to speak clearly, accurately, and concisely,’ ” suggests Ehrman. “Imagine yourself being asked questions by the audience, and giving an answer. I used to be a gymnastics coach and would say, ‘Where your head goes, your body goes.’ It applies here, too.”

    Where to learn more: Check out the Academy for Guided Imagery for more on how the technique works, and Meditainment.com for guided imagery scenarios that can help you escape to an island paradise, a mountain refuge, an arctic igloo, and more.

    SEE ALSO: 8 steps to feeling happier, healthier, and less stressed out

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    computer working

    Trying to start a business is never easy.

    Being an entrepreneur means sticking your neck — and wallet — on the line for a product you believe in.

    It won’t be cheap.

    There will be plenty of costs, some you’ve never expected.

    Thankfully, there are free tools to start a business available online.

    We’ve compiled this list of free tools to start a business.

    Many of them we used here to help build iDoneThis.

    Others we wish had existed when we started.

    Building a business will be one of the hardest things you ever do.

    But thankfully there are these free tools get you started building the business you’ve always dreamed of.

    Marketing, sales, and growth

    SocialRank

    SocialRank helps businesses find their most valuable and engaged followers on social media. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to reach out to the right people when they start following and talking about your brand.

    Screenshot 2015 08 06 17.24.38 e1438969817718

    Strikingly

    Strikingly makes it simple for anyone to build a basic landing page for their business or product, no development experience needed. Because a simple landing page should be one of the first things you put into the worlds to get early feedback.

    Ad Spend Calculator

    Sooner or later, you’ll have to decide whether to spend on outbound marketing like buying ads. This free calculator from the people behind Qwilr helps you decide if the cost of the ad makes sense to your business.

    SumoMe

    SumoMe is stuffed with free products and free tools to build a business, brought to you by the people behind AppSumo. Co-Founder Noah Kagan has described SumoMe as “the first app store for websites.” It’s a go-to for resources on building your traffic and email list.

    Screenshot 2015 08 06 17.25.38

    WordPress

    The gold standard of content management platforms is still free. WordPress is trusted by some of the world’s biggest brands and content distributors. It’s simple enough to set up in a few minutes and robust enough to still work for you when your site conquers the universe.

    Ghost

    Ghose has been shaking up the content management industry with it’s stylish and super simple content management system. It makes creating a beautiful blog for your business easy but without all of the options and plugins available on WordPress.

    Optimizely

    Optimizely makes A/B testing a snap. When your young company is trying to figure out what messages customers are responding to, use the tool to experiment with different options and see what works. There’s a reason A/B testing is one of the best marking tools available.

    Streak

    Streak is a customer relationship management tool that lives in your inbox. It’s free for small teams and helps your track your interactions with customers and close more deals.

    Marketing Today’s Marketing ROI Calculator

    The team at Marketing Today put together this handy calculator that helps discover the return on investment for email or direct mail campaigns. Type in a few key pieces of data about your campaign and know exactly how much you’re getting back for your investment.

    BuzzSumo

    Want to know what people in your industry and your customers are sharing online? BuzzSumo helps show the top-performing content for a particular website or subject area. Important information if you’re looking to get your name out there.

    Screenshot 2015 08 06 17.26.05 1024x761

    MailChimp

    Free for lists up to 2,000 subscribers, MailChimp has become the go-to service for managing email lists and campaigns. You can send emails to multiple lists and custom segments, schedule recurring emails and even wish customers a happy birthday.

    Google Analytics

    From day 1 you’re going to need to know how many people are visiting your site and what they’re doing there. Use Google Analytics to track customer behavior and capture valuable information like bounce rates.

    Square

    If your business involves getting money from people (and let’s hope it does) square is there for you. The popular card reader is free and Square is only paid when you are, via a small transaction fee.

    Weebly

    A basic platform to build a beautiful website for free. Weebly offers paid subscriptions for more advanced plans. But if you need to get some off the ground quickly, with no money invested, Weebly will do the trick.

    Names and design

    Pablo by Buffer

    A great image can get your company’s name and message noticed on social media. Hiring designers can be pricy and time-consuming. The folks at Buffer built Pablo, a free and simple tool that lets you build engaging social media images.

    Pexels

    Stock images can be expensive, corny, or both. Or try pulling images from the web and find yourself in costly legal trouble. Hold on to your precious dollars with Pexels, which offers free high-quality photos with a dead-simple explanation of distribution rights.

    SquareSpace Logo

    You’re going to need a logo. The SquareSpace team offers a free logo-building tool to help make your first logo. It won’t be the world’s fanciest logo, but it will be simple, unique and free.

    Name Mesh

    There’s a reason a lot of new startups are picking names by rearranging letters, dropping letters, or making up new words entirely. A lot of the names — and the URLs — have been taken. Name Mesh helps turn your inspiration into list of unique, and unconventional names and URLs to get your name going.

    Hipster Logo Generator

    Here’s another free logo building tool that let’s you get your logo, and business, out in the world without a lot of fussing around. Go ahead and hire the professional designer for logo 2.0 after you’ve made some actual money.

    Screenshot 2015 08 07 15.01.33

    Adobe Color CC

    A great brand has a distinct color scheme. Coca-Cola is red and white, Pepsi is red, white and blue, UPS is brown and gold. But not all colors go together. Your pink and orange logo might not convert a lot of new business. Adobe Color CC helps take the guess work out of color scheme and find a great palate to use on your website and logo.

    Google Fonts

    Most designers know this, and you should too. Google offers a great database of free fonts available for use on your website or other materials. Steve Jobs famously obsessed over the fonts his company used. Maybe you should too.

    Death to Stock Photo

    We’ve established that traditional stock photos are pricy and lame. Death to Stock Photo delivers a batch of free, quality stock photos to your inbox every month. If you’re blogging or putting out regular content on your site, you can never have too many choices when it comes to stock photos.

    Canva

    You don’t need to complex Photoshop skills to make a beautiful, custom images and graphics with Canva. Canva includes preset templates and designs so you can get a customized image or graphic into the world in just a few minutes. No design training necessary.

    FlatIcon

    A good vector icon is a beautiful thing, and can come in handy in your company’s website or marketing materials. And a properly placed icon for social media sharing can help your messages get shared. FlatIcon offers a huge database of free vector icons.

    Pixlr

    Photo editing software doesn’t need to be pricy and take years of training to master. Pixlr offers free and intuitive photo editing programs that will handle most — if not all — of your photo-tweaking needs. It can save you thousands you would have to spend hiring a professional.

    Communication and documentation 

    iDoneThis

    We’re obviously big fans. We think iDoneThis is the best way to replace your daily standup and the best way to communicate on small teams. It helps you know what you’re actually getting accomplished each day, which is extra critical in the early days of your business.

    Dropbox

    Maintaining your own server for company documents is complicated and costly. Dropbox offers free data storage plans that sync across all your devices.

    Box

    Box is cloud storage specifically built for businesses. It’s free for a personal plan and you can upgrade to premium plans when your business grows.

    Evernote

    If you’re reading something online today, there’s a good chance it was written in Evernote. Evernote helps you capture and share text, images, web clippings and other material valuable to your business.

    Google Docs

    Gone are the days of the word processor file sitting on your desktop. Documents today need to be sharable and accessible from anywhere — without a tedious email attachment. Google built Google Docs is part of a suite of cloud-based apps including Docs, Sheets, Slides and Forms.

    Boomerang

    If you use Google to manage your email accounts, Boomerang helps you schedule emails and set follow up reminders. It’s critical to not let yourself become buried under the ocean of emails. Boomerang helps you be proactive with your email strategy.

    Google Hangouts

    Unless you’re traveling back to the 20th Century to start your business, you’re eventually going to need to video chat. Many meetings, job interviews, even entire companies (like us!) are run remotely. Google hangouts is free and easy to get started with.

    Followup.cc

    Remembering to follow up with someone is often them most critical piece of communication that can easily fall through the cracks. Manage your followups with followup.cc. Simple add the address 2weeks@followup.cc to any email and get a reminder at that time.

    HelloSign

    No matter how high tech you’re company, eventually some lawyer’s going to ask you to sign something. There’s the print-sign-scan-upload-send option, which is a dumb little circus act. Or there’s a tool like HelloSign, which lets you sign and send legally-binding signatures.

    Screenshot 2015 08 06 17.27.28

    Docracy

    You’re going to need legal documents. If the business is successful, you’re going to need a lot of them. Docracy provides free legal documents for all sorts of needs. Documents are submitted by lawyers and businesses and can be privately customized to your needs.

    Small Business Administration

    The SBA, a branch of the federal government, offers tons of free resources and tools to start and grow a small business and information on local agencies in your area.

    Shake

    Shake helps you build your own simple and effective legal agreements any time you need one. You can create, sign and send them electronically.

    Google Voice

    You’re going to want a phone number for your business. Google Voice gives you a free U.S. phone number based on your area code that can be routed to your own phone and a number of others.

    Google Alerts

    Another great, free tool from Google. No wonder they’re so successful. You’re going to want to know when your business or products are mentioned online. Set up a free Google alert to notify you whenever certain terms are published to the web.

    Trello

    Project management doesn’t have to happen in a conference room. Trello puts the white board in the cloud and lets teammates collaborate on projects. And you get a well-design visual overview of how the project is moving along.

    Enloop

    A good business plan will make or break your entrepreneurial adventure. Enloop helps you create a free, custom business plan to get your idea up and running.

    Slack

    Email is great for communicating with the outside world. But it’s not the best for internal communication. It seems like more and more companies are using less email and more Slack. If you need to get you team on the same page and keep a record of what was discussed, Slack is for you. It’s free for small teams and can scale up as your organization grows.

    Doodle

    Scheduling meetings can be a pain, especially if you’re trying to coordinate multiple people over multiple time zones. Doodle lets you send an invite to everyone in the meeting with multiple dates and times. Participants pick what time works for them without without and back and forth. It saves time.

    Rapportive

    Rapportive takes the people you’re talking to on Gmail and pulls up their LinkedIn information and other data. It takes the friction out of building and managing your network.

    Slideshare

    SlideShare is YouTube for slideshow presentations. Many businesses use it to host and share important presentations. You can promote your presentations to get visibility for your business and share information with your customers and team.

    Hemingway

    If you’re running a business, you’re going to be doing a lot of writing. Long, short, formal and informal. Emails, Tweets, thank you notes. You will write every day. You might as well be good at it. Hemingway is a free web tool that analyzes your writing and gives hints on how to make it more clear and powerful.

    Lendio

    If you need a small business loan, Lendio is a free and simple way to see what’s available. Lend will help you research loans and see what’s available to you.

    Culture, learning, and fun

    Screenshot 2015 08 06 17.28.28

    Spotify

    Research shows that music boosts mood and productivity and provides a sense of well being. Sound like the kind of workplace you want to create? Get some office tunes going with Spotify. And check out the custom playlists designed for focus and productivity.

    Pomodoro

    You are what you measure. If you want a culture of productivity, measure it. But also embrace the benefits of the short break. Many of us here at iDoneThis love using the Pomodoro technique to keep on task when we need to and not forget to take short breaks.

    How to Start a Startup

    A series of lectures delivered originally in 2014 at Stanford by Y Combinator president Sam Altman. All of the lectures, slides and reading materials are available on the site and the audio can be accessed also as a podcast. It’s valuable information previously only available to a few startups.

    Project Gutenberg

    Reading books is still the best and most effective way to learn about something new. Hopefully one day you can be like our friends at Buffer and offer free ebooks to all employees. Until then, Project Gutenberg opens up the world of free and open source literature available for easy upload to your e-reader. Because great leaders are great readers. And you’ll avoid a lot of Captain Ahab mistakes if you actually read Moby Dick.

    SEE ALSO: 9 free online resources that will help you advance your career

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    india

    Overwhelmed Indian officials have canceled plans to fill a handful of menial government jobs after being flooded with 75,000 applications -- some from university graduates.

    The Chhattisgarh state government's directorate of economics and statistics was left stunned after the wave of applications for 30 "peon" or servant jobs whose duties include fetching tea for 14,000 rupees ($220) a month in wages.

    Directorate head Amitabh Panda said he has cancelled an exam planned for candidates after receiving 70,000 online applications and 5,000 in person, including from qualified engineers and management graduates.

    "This is surreal," Panda told AFP on Tuesday, saying the entire process was being reexamined.

    "We had made arrangements for 2,000 to 3,000 aspirants," he said.

    India's vast bureaucracies, a legacy of British colonial rule, are seen as an extremely secure place of employment compared with the private sector.

    Government jobs, even the lowest ones, are highly sought after, with regular reports of candidates paying thousands of rupees in bribes to try to clinch one.

    Zubair Meenai, a sociologist at Jamia Millia Islamia university in New Delhi, said bureaucrats were also seen as having more power and social status in class-conscious India.

    "No matter if a person gets paid a million rupees in a private company, still a government employee gets more respect and social recognition," Meenai told AFP.

    "The economic change has not permeated fully, people still see risk in private sector," he added.

    India's unemployment rate was 3.6 percent in 2013, according to the World Bank. But underemployment remains a critical issue in a country where 23 percent of the population lives on $1.25 a day.

    SEE ALSO: The man who traveled to every country in the world before turning 40 reveals the three items he never travels without.

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    Today's business world is as complex as ever. And it's always changing.

    Ray Carvey, executive vice president of corporate learning at Harvard Business Publishing, a subsidiary of the Harvard Business School, says management structures today are very different than 20 years ago, namely because of the middle manager. 

    Carvey describes today's business world as "volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous," and says it's crucial to stay productive through this time of change.

    According to Harvard Business Publishing's recent report, "Leading Now: Critical Capabilities for a Complex World," there are eight critical capabilities leaders must possess to be effective today.

    1. Effective leaders manage complexity.

    "Leaders who know how to manage complexity are skilled at solving problems and making decisions under fast-changing systems," the report says. Even before any definitive information is available, effective leaders must assess a situation's complexity and choose appropriate courses of action.

    2. Effective leaders manage global businesses.

    Carvey says that managing a global business wouldn't have made the list 10 years ago, but today, understanding global markets and knowing you're in a global market is key. Leaders must maintain a global focus on a day-to-day basis. "This includes assessing what's happening with consumers, competitors, the economy, and the politics of the markets in which their businesses operate," according to the report.

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    3. Effective leaders act strategically.

    Just as thinking globally is a must, a forward-thinking approach is also necessary. "While older practices focused on long-term strategy development, today's world requires a more continuous process: Leaders must always be prepared to adjust their strategies to capture emerging opportunities or tackle unexpected challenges," the report says. 

    4. Effective leaders foster innovation.

    With the ever-increasing levels of competition, "no strategy can sustain a company's competitive edge indefinitely," the report says. Regardless of how successful something may be, there can always be an emphasis on innovation. Effective leaders understand this and are focused on taking a business to the next level. 

    5. Effective leaders leverage networks.

    Successful leaders take networking beyond advancing their own careers, the report says. Rather, they view it as a way to benefit the organization and create relationships with "customers, suppliers, strategic partners, and even competitors." No matter how it's used, though, effective leaders in this category must "demonstrate a talent for collaboration," according to the report.

    6. Effective leaders inspire engagement.

    It's absolutely crucial to keep employees at all levels of an organization interested and engaged in the work being done. It's all about giving them a feeling of value. Simply retaining employees isn't the goal. "People can occupy jobs for years, but they won't create value for their organizations if they're not invested in their work," the report says. It's up to the leader to ensure employees actually feel that they're making a difference.

    Bill Gates

    7. Effective leaders develop personal adaptability.

    Again, this is a matter of understanding the continuous change that's occurring. Something that may have worked brilliantly in the past won't necessarily work again. "Adaptable leaders steer clear of a 'that's how we've always done it' mentality," the report says. Instead, they look at new realities through fresh eyes so they can spot and seize valuable opportunities. 

    8. Effective leaders cultivate learning agility.

    Learning agility is the trait most everyone struggles with, Carvey says. As business strategies and models evolve, the leader must, as well. Effective leaders take the initiative in finding opportunities to learn. "They continuously experiment with new approaches, using techniques such as rapid prototyping," the report says. "And they take time to reflect on their experiences so they can learn from successes and failures."

    Keep in mind, however, that as the business world continues to change, the key traits necessary for leaders to be successful may also change. In a volatile environment, the ability to react to new scenarios is imperative. 

    SEE ALSO: 10 traits Harvard looks for in ideal MBA candidates

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    working happy employees

    We all want job security, but in 2015 it can be pretty hard thing to come by.

    Of course, no one is totally indispensable; the reality is that we can all be replaced. We all know this.

    However, there are certain things that you can do to achieve near-indispensability, which should provide that feeling of safety we all crave.

    Here are some ideas for making yourself essential.

    1. Attitude is everything.

    A good attitude is contagious, just like a negative one. We're all familiar with that miserable, grumpy, emotionally needy co-worker who brings everyone down — the one who compels you to duck down a hallway when you see them coming.

    The attitude you're aiming for is just the opposite. You want folks around the office to welcome time with you.

    Make them laugh, make them smile, listen to their stories, and ask about their lives.

    Find the humor in burdensome work situations and help everyone rise to tough challenges with a little more ease. Soon, you'll have people wondering how they'd ever get by without you.

    2. Be a team builder, not just a team player.

    It's essential that we work well with others, collaborate, compromise, and share ideas with our teams. Without the ability to connect with your co-workers in a respectful and beneficial way, you will never find that job security you crave.

    However, what will bring you from simply meeting the mark to rising to indispensability status is working to build teams, not just play on them. Be a person who connects others, one who helps people find common ground. Be reliably courteous and insightful with your contributions. 

    3. Be a keeper of institutional knowledge.

    Institutional knowledge is wildly important, and it's one of the things companies miss most when someone leaves. This key knowledge about the organization, and its history, generally isn't formatted to be passed down to newer folks — it's something that can only be earned through longevity.

    And, you have to pay good attention. Show your employers that you have an abundance of the stuff. Connect dots, fill in gaps, and offer suggestions that only someone of your experience can.

    4. Think big picture, and plan ahead.

    The most valuable employees are ones who not only solve problems when they come up, they're people who anticipate problems before they even arise, and offer solutions. Thinking more than a step or two ahead, in general, is a great idea.

    Look at the forest, as well as the trees, and share the wisdom your unique and mindful approach brings. Your vision and ability will impress and delight your superiors, and you'll find yourself coming awfully close to indispensability in no time.

    SEE ALSO: 5 TED Talks you should watch when you're looking for a job

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