Pivoting to success: Agile founders who turned their companies on a dime

Pivoting to success: Agile founders who turned their companies on a dime

If there’s one word every startup founder can associate with, it’s agility. When faced with rapidly changing market conditions, winners and losers are often decided by their willingness to adapt, even if that means having to completely reinvent the business. This, of course, is known as the pivot; business leaders who are able to pivot at the drop of a hat earn the distinction of being agile, something every startup founder strives for.

Although no two business pivots are alike, they all have one thing in common: a leader who isn’t afraid to take risks in the face of uncertainty, especially when the entire company is on the line. We teamed up with the BMW Hot Lap Pitch to profile three founders who pivoted their companies at the right time and turned them into blazing successes.

The many false starts of Instagram

It’s hard to imagine a world without Instagram, but the photo-sharing app had humble beginnings in 2010 as Burbn, an app that let users post pictures, check in at locations and make plans with friends. Kevyn Systrom, the founder, was able to raise $500,000 from prominent venture capitalists, but despite quitting his job and adding Mike Krieger on as a co-founder, Systrom wasn’t getting the traction he needed to sustain growth.

The problem?

The app was bloated with too many features and had come to resemble Foursquare, making it hard for Burbn to differentiate itself in a crowded app store. After looking at the data from their users, Systrom and Krieger quickly discovered that photo-sharing was the most popular feature on the app, so they scrapped Burbn and pivoted to Scotch, their first standalone photo-sharing app.

After months of prototyping, the pair launched Scotch, a social media app designed primarily for photo-sharing, but it quickly failed due to poor design and performance. Instead of giving up, however, Systrom and Krueger rebuilt the app from the ground up as Instagram and added several features that allowed users to try distinctive photo filters and post pictures in as little as three taps. In just three months the app had reached 1 million users and continued to attract new ones at breakneck speed, which is often attributed to its stability and clean design—two things that were far from the norm in 2010.

In 2012, Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion, and today the photo-sharing app has become a substantial growth engine for Facebook’s revenue with 700 million active users.

The comeback of Priceline

Priceline, the US travel giant and owner of holiday reservations websites like Kayak and Agoda, enjoyed huge successes in the dot-com era as a bidding website for airline tickets. Their bullishness on the company’s future even led them to sell discounted gasoline and groceries, but after the events of 9/11, domestic travel spend sharply decreased, forcing Priceline into a freefall.

In an effort to turn things around, Jeffery Boyd, Priceline’s general counsel, was promoted to CEO and his tenure marks one of the most impressive corporate comebacks of the last decade. Among his most notable changes was dropping the ‘bid on flight prices’ service the company was built on and pivoting to emphasize hotel reservations over flights. Boyd also eliminated booking fees and prioritized international expansion by acquiring Booking.com—two key decisions that put immense pressure on the competition and allowed Priceline to get a foothold in international markets.

Soon enough, Boyd’s efforts started paying off, and under his leadership Priceline went from nearly being delisted from the NASDAQ stock exchange to collecting 80 percent of their revenue from international sales and earning a profit of over $2 billion.

The minification of Devialet

In 2010, Pierre-Emmanuel Calmel, a French entrepreneur with a background in electrical engineering, bet all his savings on a hybrid analogue-digital amplifier that would bring a new sensory experience to the listener. He pitched his innovation to Nortel, the telecommunications company where he worked, but was turned down, so he quit his job and founded Devialet to build a working prototype.

Together with his eventual co-founder Quentin Sannié, Calmel raised €1.3 million to build his amplifiers, which he priced at $15,000 a pop. Calmel and Sannié quickly realized that their ability to grow was stunted by the low demand for high-end amplifiers, so they looked for other ways to make use of their patented technology.

The pair set their sights on consumer devices that featured audio, including smartphones, televisions and cars. To accomplish this pivot, Calmel redesigned his amplifier and shrank the technology down to a microchip in order to fit the technology with highly compact form factors. At the same time, Calmel and Sannié partnered with companies like Sharp and Renault to begin rolling out their technology and secured additional funding from a number of investors including Jay-Z.

Today, the Paris-based company employs over 200 staff members and generates €60 million in annual revenue. The company hopes to embed their chips into cars first, followed by televisions and then smartphones. “One day, “ Sannié told Bloomberg, “everyone will own a Devialet.”

Pivoting to success: Agile founders who turned their companies on a dime


10 Things the Most Successful CEOs Say to Themselves Every Morning

10 Things the Most Successful CEOs Say to Themselves Every Morning

10 Things the Most Successful CEOs Say to Themselves Every Morning

The best part of waking up…

How you start your day determines how much success you’ll find in your future. Here are some positive and inspiring messages to start your mornings with.

Personal growth
  • Personal growth: If you improve yourself today, you’ll be able to accomplish a great deal of good in the future. It’s important to constantly search for ways to do better.
Be as effective as possible
  • Be as effective as possible: If you’re faced with a workload that exceeds your availability, focus on managing priorities. Decide what’s most important, and cultivate the discipline to commit to it through a forest of competing tasks.
Make yourself accessible
  • Make yourself accessible: Maintaining and building relationships takes time and patience. It may not feel efficient to spend time in a personal discussion with a colleague, but it may end up being the best investment you make all day.
Find the silver lining
  • Find the silver lining: If your workplace is infected with negativity, it falls to the leader to reverse that trend and create a culture of positivity. Be clear that you expect others to do the same, and the result is excellence.
Never accept mediocrity
  • Never accept mediocrity:No one reaches success by staying within the bounds of what feels safe. Keep making new, audacious goals to keep your passion ignited. Push through barriers, and avoid words like “can’t” or “impossible.”
Embrace your mistakes
  • Embrace your mistakes: The most successful leaders are engaged in a constant process of learning, growth, and improvement. Always treat failure as a teacher, rather than an endpoint.
Influence is power
  • Influence is power: Successful leaders know how much help it took them to get there, and they understand how interdependent we all are. When possible, remember to offer support and guidance to others around you.
I will appreciate people
  • Give your thanks: Even children understand the importance of saying “thank you.” People feel empowered when they feel they’re being noticed and appreciated.
Character is at the core of any success worth having
  • Character is at the core of any success worth having: We all have three versions of character: one we exhibit, one that reflects how we think of ourselves, and the one that’s real. The more closely aligned these are, the more authentic our leadership becomes.
Don't get jaded
  • Don’t get jaded: People at the top have cultivated a genuine appreciation for their success–an attitude that keeps them humble and open. It also adds depth to everything they achieve.

10 Things the Most Successful CEOs Say to Themselves Every Morning

3 Story Structures Every CEO Needs to Master

3 Story Structures Every CEO Needs to Master

3 Story Structures Every CEO Needs to Master

CEOs tell stories all the time. Great CEOs are consistent in the stories they tell, framing their companies’ core narratives to connect authentically with different audiences.

The first step to becoming a powerful storytelling CEO is to understand and master three key stories about your company: the number’s story, the vision story and the bridge story.

1. The number’s story contextualizes data.

Data is ubiquitous, but, by itself, it’s meaningless.

People often glaze over when you start talking about numbers. And when you’re deep into Excel and PowerPoint, they glaze over even faster. CEOs need to extract key data points and trends to make their number’s story visible.

A number’s story contextualizes data. It gives meaning to the numbers by identifying trends and showing what the predicted outcomes are for the company.

Related: The 5 Elements of Storytelling

Stepping into the shoes of the greatest storyteller in history, Apple CEO Tim Cook confidently asserts his authority by bringing company data to life through storytelling.

Cook’s most recent keynote reflected over 40 years of the company through visuals that made sense of milestones and what they meant for consumers and the company. Though packed with numbers, Cook’s hour-long speech followed a classic narrative framework – the Freytag Pyramid — and even looked ahead into the future.

2. The vision story describes the future.

This is perhaps the most important story that every leader needs to tell.

It’s the palpable story of what the future looks like. The leader takes people to the future by making it true in the present. The vision story is bigger than goal setting and much more compelling than projecting business outcomes. The vision story is the story you tell employees, investors, advisors, and yourself to generate creativity and belief in the present.

Related: Marketing 101: The Art of Storytelling

Recently, I listened to Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the Center for Civil and Human Rights in downtown Atlanta. That speech has thunder and lightning because it is so specific about what the vision looks like, sounds like and feels like for all Americans. This vision story will resonate until that day we make the dream a reality.

3. The bridge story shares proof of your success.

The bridge story is similar to the vision story in many ways.

It makes the vision story real for your audience by citing past successes as proof that the vision is attainable. This is where the key work of business-building and storytelling come together. It’s where you connect what the business has done in the past and where you will take it in the future.

The bridge story shows that people can count on you and your company by sharing specific moments of proof.

Take a look at Kathryn Minshew’s recent bridge story about raising a $16 million series B round for The Muse.

Minshew explains that the company didn’t need the funding, which is a great way to say “I’ve got this under control, but when an investor of strong caliber and aligned values showed interest, it made sense to join forces.”

In just a few sentences, Minshew creates a bridge to the future, explaining that the new funding will be used to expand to more cities, and build out a new line of services, such as Coach Connect.

Related: From Bedtime to Boardroom: Why Storytelling Matters in Business

CEOs, who are master storytellers, interweave these three key types of stories with slightly different versions for each audience – customers, team, investors and advisors — while looking to both the past and the future.

Look again at Cook’s Apple keynote. It’s as if the world is asking: “Tim, can Apple keep innovating without Steve Jobs?”

Using a past portfolio of innovations from Apple, and a nod forward to the new building, where Apple will host its annual meeting next year, Cook deftly paints a picture of a promising future. One that is forward-leaning and within Apple’s reach.

Through storytelling, Cook calmly asserts, “Yes, you can count on Apple (and me) to keep it up. I’ve mastered it all, even the master’s delight in storytelling.”

3 Story Structures Every CEO Needs to Master

4 Ways Successful People Learn More

4 Ways Successful People Learn More

4 Ways Successful People Learn More

Successful people never stop learning.

Most people are inherently inquisitive. I spend a lot of time talking with our team about the value of curiosity. But over time, we can become set in our ways. Sometimes it seems easier to shrug off a new concept or task that appears difficult than to invest the time to master it.

study at the University of Texas at Dallas found that learning challenging new skills keeps your mind sharp. Another three-month study found that adults who learned a demanding new task, such as digital photography, fared better on memory tests than control groups who spent time in less challenging pursuits, such as reminiscing with others or watching movies.

I see each day as a fresh opportunity to learn something new. Invariably, I find something that can help me pursue my goal of achieving sustainable happiness. Even while on vacation, I try to look for what’s novel.

For example, I recently traveled to Scotland with my family. I learned about the world’s best scotch producers–and their nearly insane devotion to tradition and consistency. That experience underscored the importance of setting a high bar for product quality (which I have to admit, I sampled), and how that can translate into generations of loyal customers.

High-performing people know that continued learning is essential–and employ unique approaches to get the maximum benefit from mastering a new concept or skill. Here are a few ways that successful people learn new things:

Learn how you learn

Maybe you are like Warren Buffett, who starts his morning by reading six newspapers. Perhaps you are a hands-on learner, or would rather listen to a podcast while working out. The important thing is to find out how you learn best, then start putting forth the effort.

Consume challenging material

Choose materials that introduce new concepts and challenge your old ideas. Here are a couple of recommendations to get you started: Pick up a copy of Outliers, a favorite of Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, or dive into a classic such as The Aeneid, recommended by both Mark Zuckerberg and Ted Turner. Make sure to have a pen and paper nearby–a study found that handwriting notes can give you a stronger grasp of the concepts than if you tapped away on a laptop.

Go back to class

Successful people enlist help from subject-matter experts to expand their knowledge. Some well-known college dropouts have returned to school to finish what they started, including Steven Spielberg. In 2001, he completed his degree in film and electronic arts. To maximize your own learning potential, sign up for a conference, take an online course, or finally pursue that advanced degree.

Get uncomfortable

If you want to strengthen your brain’s connections, you need to challenge yourself with novel tasks. It may feel strange or even frustrating at times, but doing so can result in rich learning experiences. If you want to be more successful, embrace disciplines and topics that are outside the norm for you–and persevere even when mastery is a struggle.

Successful people guard their time carefully. That is why they make sure to derive the most benefit out of what they are learning. They challenge themselves by asking, “What did I learn?” And if the answer is “not enough,” they ask more questions–and seek more answers.

The truth is that you will never know everything there is to know. (And the older you get, the more you realize that!) But if you can cultivate an open mind and seek to learn new things, you will always know more tomorrow than you know today.

4 Ways Successful People Learn More

4 Things You Need to Master for Executive Greatness


4 Things You Need to Master for Executive Greatness

Successful business requires many things, but it’s ultimately all about leadership. Only, how do you achieve the necessary qualities?

There are many theories of leadership, from the so-called “great man” model, which assumes people are born to lead, to the ideas of behavioral (it’s how you act) or transformational (vision, baby). But a new study in the Harvard Business Review suggests that there are four traits you can work on that make the difference between good and great executives.

Consulting firm Navalent included 2,700 leadership interviews and analyzed the data to find which executives were the best performers. Ultimately, the firm boiled everything down to four areas. The great executives had mastered all four. Good executives managed only two or three. To be a great business leader, here are the four things you need to do.

Know the whole business

There are many ways executives come up through a business. Some focus on finance, others on marketing. There are those that come out of engineering disciplines. However, great executives aren’t focused on only one aspect of their companies. You can’t afford to favor one part of a business or assume the limitations of a given background. Logistics, manufacturing, accounting, sales, design, IT — all aspects are important, and the great executive gets them to work together.

Make solid decisions

Executives are the ones where the buck stops. They make the decisions that drive the company forward and address everything that comes up. Great leaders get input, consider the options, take responsibility, and communicate their choices. They also move smoothly between intuition and data analysis and focus on the most important priorities.

Know the industry

It’s become fairly common for executives to transfer between companies and industries, thinking that, at the basics, all companies are the same. Except, competing in different industries means grasping how companies precisely make money, what exactly customers want, and how a corporation works within this specific context. It’s that context you must understand, just as you need to read a map to navigate effectively.

Form strong relationships

Above all else, the single most important factor – the lack of which led to problems most quickly – was the ability to build strong bonds with people. Such executives look to understand others in the company, try to grasp their interest, communicate clearly, and create mutually beneficial relationships. That means getting feedback from others, building your emotional sensitivity, and never sacrificing actual collaboration to looking good to others.

The good news is that unlike some theories, these traits are things you can learn and strengthen. Even if you aren’t a great executive today, you can become one.

4 Things You Need to Master for Executive Greatness

5 Traits of Successful Leaders

5 Traits of Successful Leaders

Whether you are a small business or startup, restaurateur or retailer, the difference between success and failure across industries stems from one word: leadership. Those in charge truly set the stage for success. Without the presence of a strong leader the landscape is weighed down by demotivated staff, undelivered promises and disappointed stakeholders. From my experience, the most successful leaders boast these five prominent qualities:

1. Do what you say.

Early on in my career, a senior partner advised me to never make promises to clients we couldn’t deliver. While my colleague was primarily concerned with protecting the firm’s reputation, I was learning a deeper lesson about my own integrity and how hard I would work to stick to my word.

A true leader practices what they preach and comes through on promises with tangible delivery. Do what you say. Lead with integrity to build trust among your employees, and you’ll see that others are inspired to do the same.

2. Give credit, take blame.

Author and entrepreneur Arnold Glasow once said, “a good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.” Being an impactful leader means having the emotional maturity to take accountability when things go wrong. On the flip side, when a leader achieves success, he or she shouldn’t take the glory, but instead credit the accomplishment to the team. Once a task is complete, be sure to give colleagues the proper recognition; praising achievements inspires workers to continue raising the bar and garnering sustainable results.

3. Be the leader you want to follow.

Exemplary leaders never ask anything of their teams that they’re not willing to do themselves. By its very definition, to lead means to go first and show the way. Everything an executive does should dial back to the core values of the company. Know the details — not to micromanage — but to develop an understanding of what you are asking folks to do. When presented with a leader’s total commitment, resilience in the face of opposition, optimism and a can-do attitude, team members will be inclined to follow the lead. Inspiring from within will sculpt dedicated employees who are motivated to succeed.

4. Head up, shoulders back.

To achieve success, a leader must be passionate about their mission. After all, how will you ever attract others to your company if you don’t believe in it yourself? If a leader is drowning in self-doubt or worry, the entire team’s confidence will quickly erode. Successful leaders know how to keep a cool exterior and stay level-headed, even when dealing with adversity. No matter what’s going on in the background, impactful leaders remain confident, serving as both a positive example and a constant assurance for their team.

5. Encourage responsibility through accountability.

Essential elements of accountability are to ensure that roles are clearly understood, expectations are clearly set and success is defined up front and then measured. It’s not what you expect but what you inspect that will get done. Be sure those to be held to account also have the authority to get it done and have a clear sense for how success will be measured. Then hold folks to account for their delivery.

5 Traits of Successful Leaders

2 Surprising Psychological Tricks That Successful Leaders Love

2 Surprising Psychological Tricks That Successful Leaders Love

I have two great psychological tricks for projecting yourself as a leader no matter your experience or age:

1) If You Want to Be a Leader, Never Act Surprised

In business, act as if everything, I repeat, everything is a logical consequence of something else that happened. This is extremely useful during crisis situations of all sorts when it may be your job to break bad news to people. Always project that you are in control. Even a positive surprise can be unsettling for your superiors if they feel that they don’t know what to expect going forward. Managers like predictability and don’t like surprises.

‘Two simple words can make a world of difference when navigating your way through a crisis with a team. Those words are “As expected”, and they are your best friend when it comes to crisis communications. You want to place the problem in broader context. People feel less anxious about a situation when they understand its cause and effect dynamic, and your job is to give that to them.

Many problems can be traced back in some way to decisions that you and others in the business have made before, but crises have a way of giving people amnesia. They forget the trade-offs and decisions they’ve made along the way, because all they can focus on is the problem of the moment. Make an effort to be the calmest, the most rational, and above all the most contextually astute participant in the conversation. Remind people of the decisions that they and you have made so that the issues can be recognized in the context of those decisions. “As expected, a portion of our customers are still adjusting to the changes we introduced into our pricing model last quarter,” sounds so much more professional than, “OMG the customers are freaking out!”

Presentation matters. So does poise. Be the steady hand people crave in a crisis, and your stock in any organization will soar.

2) Know When to Share versus Hold onto Information

Imagine that on Monday afternoon your doctor gets the bloodwork results from your recent checkup and sees possible early signs of cancer. Most people would want to know about the doctor’s assessment as soon as possible. They might even say the doctor has an ethical responsibility to share that information. But what if the doctor knows she’ll be getting a more detailed results the next day that can confirm or deny her concerns? Add in that caveat, and now it seems that maybe a doctor shouldn’t scare the hell out of her patients until she has the facts she needs – especially if it only means waiting another day or two. But does that preference change yet again if the results won’t be ready for two more weeks?

When you try to break bad news to people “responsibly”, you can quickly find yourself in gray areas like the above. What we want to know can change with the circumstances of a situation. Sudden shocks require you to balance the “no surprises” diktat with the importance of managing your audience’s emotions. Informing your manager at the first sign of potential trouble may not be the right thing to do if you don’t have a grip on the situation yourself. If there is one thing you can be sure of when you give someone bad news, it’s that you are about to be asked a lot of questions. If you don’t have the information you need yet to satisfy the questions they’ll have, then you are just going to leave the audience hanging. Sometimes you don’t have any choice but to start messaging upwards. Other times, you need to exercise judgment.

If the following conditions are met, it may be better to hold off explaining a new problem to your manager:

  • The situation does not require immediate intervention (i.e. no laws broken, no lives at risk, no bank accounts being drained, etc.)
  • You’re waiting on additional information that will make the scope of the issue clear
  • You control the flow of information, and your audience won’t learn about the issue from other sources
  • It’s possible that the situation can be fixed soon, allowing you to communicate both the problem and solution together
  • You suspect there may be related problems lurking that should be disclosed together

2 Surprising Psychological Tricks That Successful Leaders Love

12 Leadership Traits of the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs


12 Leadership Traits of the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs

Whenever individuals like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, or Richard Branson speak, we have a tendency to listen because we want to learn from how their achieved that level of success. And, it turns out that wealthy people are leaders who share these traits.

1. They don’t play the blame game.

When there’s a mistake, successful individuals don’t point fingers at someone else. They hold themselves accountable and own up to the mistake. Instead of playing the blame game, they’re already working to make sure they don’t repeat the mistake.

As the late Steve Jobs once said, “People who are crazy enough to change the world, are the ones who do.” Along the way you are bound to make mistakes. People like Jobs didn’t go around playing the blame game.

2. They are open minded.

The wealthy are constantly on the lookout for new and innovative ideas to make their business bigger, better and stronger. If they are aren’t open to new ideas from team members, they won’t be able to adapt to the changes that are constantly being thrown at them.

3. They are willing to take appropriate risks.

Do you think that Warren Buffett got rich by always playing it safe? The wealthy understand the importance of getting out of their comfort zones and taking a risk. However, the risks have to be calculated. The wealthy first examine the pros and cons before agreeing to a new deal. While the wealthy are looking for new opportunities to increase their profits, they’re not willing to gamble everything on a deal that could cost their company. Buffett, never invests in a business if he believes there is any chance of failure.

4. They set realistic goals.

The most successful people in the world know exactly what they want and how to get to there. They are able to arrive at their destination because they have established realistic goals that they document and track.

Take a page from the book of Jeff Bezos. “We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient.” Those were simple, yet effective, goals that have made Amazon such a success.

5. Know how to solve problems.

Successful individuals are excellent problem solvers – that’s why they have achieved their level of wealth. They saw an opportunity to fix a problem and had the ability to put that problem solving skill to work. Even after the business has launched, they continue to work on solving any problems that may come their way.

Mark Zuckerberg, for example, noticed that people were concerned about their privacy when Facebook launched its News Feed feature. To squash any concerns, Zuckerberg made it possible for users to select privacy levels.

6. Can empower others.

We don’t follow successful individuals because of their net worth. We follow them because they are positive and care about their business. They also care about their employees and customers and believe in what they’re selling. That trait has a tendency to be contagious.

As Bill Gates has said, “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”

7. They’re proactive.

“You have to act and act now.” – Larry Ellison

The wealthy don’t sit back and wait for success to come knocking at their front door. It’s not that convenient. They succeeded because they made it happen with creativity and passion.

8. They are lifelong learners.

Your days of learning aren’t over just because you graduated from a university and have a diploma on display to prove it. While you may not have to physically step inside a classroom, successful individuals are constantly learning new skills and techniques that will help them achieve new professional and personal goals.

As Richard Branson has said, “The day you stop learning is the day you stop living.”

9. They ask well-considered questions.

Successful people are pretty good at solving problems because they utilize their networks to find solutions. They pose the right questions to the right people to resolve an issues.

10. They are willing to walk away.

Sometimes a leader has to utter the word “no.” It’s not always an easy word to say, but that’s what separates the wealthy from everyone else. They are confident enough to walk away from investments or business partners who aren’t bringing anything to the table.

11. They collect facts before making a decision.

During one of their famous conversations, Andrew Carnegie informed Napoleon Hill that “Able leaders take nothing for granted without a sound reason. They make it their business to get at the facts before forming judgments, but they move promptly and definitely.”

12. They know their strengths and hire for their weaknesses.

Did you know that Richard Branson is dyslexic? If so, were you aware that he considers that one of his strengths? Branson has also realized that he needs a talented team to help manage all of the various companies under the Virgin umbrella. Instead of micromanaging and doing everything himself, Branson has surrounded himself with people who can accomplish the tasks that he can not.

12 Leadership Traits of the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs

A Way to Assess and Prioritize Your Change Efforts

Change is the status quo. Companies the world over realize that success depends on their ability to respond to new opportunities and threats as they emerge, and to keep rethinking their strategies, structures, and tactics to gain ephemeral competitive advantages.

As a result, change initiatives have become more complex than ever before, cutting across divisions and functions rather than staying confined to silos. They are global too, often extending across borders to several nations with different cultures.
Companies must set up and oversee change initiatives more systematically than they used to if they want to succeed. They must periodically evaluate projects against each other to ensure that they have deployed the right amounts of resources, people, and attention across competing efforts. Executives must also find ways of catalyzing the discussions that will result in reprioritizing, rescoping, or retiring change efforts that no longer serve the organization’s objectives.

Accomplishing all that is tough, and this is what keeps business leaders awake at night.

A Way to Assess and Prioritize Your Change Efforts

If You Possess These 5 Traits, You’re Guaranteed Success

Accomplished people have common characteristics that help them stand above the rest. Here’s a few you may have thought of–and others that aren’t so obvious.

Here are the five traits that all successful people have in common:

1. They are good at execution. Bright ideas are a dime a dozen. Not to belittle the creation process, but what makes a person successful is not so much the idea as whether he or she can carry that idea to fruition.

2. They have a chip on their shoulder. This may sound negative. It doesn’t have to be. Many warm, engaging, optimistic entrepreneurs are partly motivated by a common chip on their shoulders–the need to prove someone or something wrong.

3. They are good decision makers. Not every decision will be the right one, but if you’re moving quickly, you’ll have a better chance of rectifying a bad decision than if you missed your chance entirely.

4. They give a lot. Successful people tend to think a lot about others–how they can help people around them; what they can do to give their clients, customers, employees more; what they can do to enhance the lives of those around them. Givers get an immense amount of satisfaction knowing they’re elevating the people around them–it makes them feel good.

5. They’re highly disciplined. Focus and discipline, especially in the face of hardship, are required. This doesn’t mean successful people don’t have fun or can’t relax–quite the contrary. It just means that once successful people lock on a goal, they are relentless in achieving it.

If You Possess These 5 Traits, You’re Guaranteed Success

How the Most Successful People Manage Their Time

Here’s how you can get tons of stuff accomplished during the week, feel less stressed and even have more fun on the weekend.

  1. Do A Time Log
  2. Plan The Whole Week
  3. Morning Rituals Are For Things That Don’t Have To Happen
  4. Yes, You Even Need To Plan The Weekend
  5. How To Conquer The Sunday Night Blues

How the Most Successful People Manage Their Time

The Unique Trait Successful Leaders Possess

It may have killed the cat, but becoming more curious will create remarkable results.

How can you adopt the curiosity mindset today?

Here are three ideas you can implement immediately:

  • Get curious and analyze your successes. Then identify how you can rapidly replicate them.
  • Get curious and listen to those you have recently hired. Consider how you can leverage their unique talents and abilities.
  • Gather five of your most contrarian employees and invite them to a discussion about your current vision and strategy. Ask them what is holding it back, how you can accelerate growth, and what you personally can do as a leader to improve the probability of success.

The Unique Trait Successful Leaders Possess

The Daily Ritual of Successful People

Rookie parents with newborn babies are told to take care of their own needs first if they want to take care of their children effectively. It’s like when the flight attendant tells you to put on your own oxygen mask before you put one on your child: It sounds counterintuitive. It even sounds downright selfish. But if you don’t do it, both you and your baby will be in trouble.

Owners of successful startups find themselves in a similar situation. Employees, clients, and even friends and family can overwhelm you with their needs, and if you’re not careful, it can deplete you. This is why you have to make time to do the one thing that centers you, and do it every single day without fail.

Unfortunately, this is typically one of the first tasks to fall off of to-do lists. But there has to be a chunk of time every day that’s for you and you alone. Otherwise, you won’t be much good to the employees, clients, and others who are counting on you.

  • It’s me time
  • It’s a ritual
  • It’s essential for your business

The Daily Ritual of Successful People

The Network Secrets of Great Change Agents

Change is hard, especially in a large organization. Numerous studies have shown that employees tend instinctively to oppose change initiatives because they disrupt established power structures and ways of getting things done. However, some leaders do succeed—often spectacularly—at transforming their workplaces. What makes them able to exert this sort of influence when the vast majority can’t? So many organizations are contemplating turnarounds, restructurings, and strategic shifts these days that it’s essential to understand what successful change agents do differently. We set out to gain that insight by focusing on organizations in which size, complexity, and tradition make it exceptionally difficult to achieve reform.

The Network Secrets of Great Change Agents

What it really takes to be a great boss

For many, having a truly great boss is the exception rather than the rule.

That’s because being one takes a seriously deft touch. You have to inspire people to succeed and give them the tools they need – all while meeting company dictates.

Top 3 traits of a great boss – Jul. 24, 2014.


7 Success Shortcuts Everyone Should Know

Seven timeless techniques you need in your corporate toolkit.

7 Success Shortcuts Everyone Should Know | Inc.com.


Accomplish Great Things at Any Age

Here are 41 reasons to get out there and make it happen, no matter how young or old you are.

Accomplish Great Things at Any Age | Inc.com.


Leadership in a Liquid World


Solid principles for navigating the 21st century.

The very nature of the world in which we now live, work and play — one obsessed with instantaneous response — demands of its leaders a different, more fluid approach to how they focus their attention and make decisions. In the swirling vortex of e-mailing and text messaging, the leader’s strong inclination is to try to arrive at fast paced, almost immediate decisions. But the fundamentals of solid leadership — clear vision, consistent measures of success, and informed yet timely and unambiguous decision making — haven’t changed.

Leadership in a Liquid World | MIT Sloan Management Review.


Do you have what It takes for success?

There’s no single route to success. The path to success is more important and more interesting than the rewards of being successful.

Success Flowchart: Do You Have What It Takes? – Businessweek.


This Is the Most Important Habit for Business Success

This Is the Most Important Habit for Business Success | Fox Small Business Center