Have you ever noticed that people without a good sense of humor seem to live lives that are filled with anguish and hurt? Many in the healthcare industry now advocate laughter as part of recovery because they are seeing better recovery rates in those who are upbeat as opposed to those who see the glass as half empty.
As an MS sufferer for over forty years I have found that much of my own health and wellbeing is directly the result of having a good sense of humor. In fact every book I’ve written includes several stories about the harmless pranks and jokes I play on friends and family. One book, “Just Laugh About It” tells specific stories involving my humor and how having a good sense of humor has improved my health by reducing my stress—very important in the management of MS.
In the WebMD article, “Give Your Body a Boost—With Laughter” by Michael W. Smith, MD, he writes: Feeling rundown? Try laughing more. Some researchers think laughter just might be the best medicine, helping you feel better and putting that spring back in your step.
He goes on to say: “We change physiologically when we laugh. We stretch muscles throughout our face and body, pulse and blood pressure go up, and we breathe faster, sending more oxygen to our tissues. People who believe in the benefits of laughter say it can be like a mild workout and may offer some of the same advantages as a workout.”
Medically, studies show that laughter increases our blood flow, improves our immune system, reduces blood sugar levels and provides relaxation and sleep.
When I was diagnosed with MS I decided it was not going to let it get me down nor keep me from being productive. Early on I discovered the writings of Norman Cousins who’s book “The Anatomy of an Illness” was a great influence. Cousins often has been described as the person who laughed his way to health. He began employing laughter and humor after being diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, which is a degenerative disease that causes the breakdown of collagen, the fibrous tissue that binds together the body’s cells. At the time the only treatment was heavy dosages of pain medications. But after a short time the pain meds stopped working and Cousins was given only a few months to live. Cousins decided to check himself out of the hospital and into a hotel room where he administered high dosages of vitamin C while watching comedies on TV and forcing himself to laugh. The endorphins caused by the laughter lessened his pain and within weeks he was back at work as editor of the Saturday Review magazine.
I used the example of Norman Cousins to help in my own treatment and soon found that the combination of vitamin C and laughter soon had me back on my feet. While this treatment may not work for everyone, I feel this approach has been instrumental in my own survival.
It is always fascinating to read about people who have started with nothing and made something of themselves. Not that money is necessarily important, however how somebody seemingly persevered against the odds and somehow managed to become a success is truly an American story. In spite of experiencing several years of economic downturn, American’s continue to stay optimistic.
One such case is that of 76 year old Miray “Mike” Dalkilic of Cedar Lake, Indiana. Mike, as he prefers to be called, was born in Turkey to wealthy parents. As an immigrant many years ago he found himself penniless in this country. The founder and president of Cedar Lake based Midtcch Hydraulics had a rough going early on in his career. “I came to this country when I was 17,” Dalkilic remembers. While attending college at the University of Texas, Mike recalled being embarrassed in front of the class for not wearing his shoes (which were actually slippers). “One of my slippers was broken, so I went to class barefooted. The professor looked at me and said, ‘Mr. Dala, Dalka, Dalak….’ He couldn’t pronounce my name. I told him my slippers were broken. He said ‘we will not accept that.'” I eventually flunked out and began digging ditches for $1,25 an hour. I didn’t have a choice.” At the time Dalkilic was married with young children.
But his wife Sandy had different ideas and wrote a letter to another close-by college. The college accepted Mike with one stipulation, that he not score less than a 3.0 or otherwise leave school for good. “I got my degree in sociology with one B and the rest of my grades an A,” says Dalkilic.
After working a few years for others, Dalkilic decided to start his own business. His company has since grown beyond his wildest dream and made him a wealthy man in the process. “In my business I buy hydraulic components — cylinders, mostly. I sell them to the steel mills. My concentration is mostly on continuous casters. The reason I have survived is I check my product as if I’m using the cylinders myself. My cylinders have warranties above and beyond what steel mills normally get.”
Though every business is competitive, finding ones own niche can lead to success. It is not about making or offering something that is the same as others, instead businesses thrive because they are able to find their own niche and find customers who appreciate a company’s willingness to go an extra mile to keep them satisfied.
Mike sums it up with an old Turkish proverb:
“Deve bir pula, devebin pula.”
(A camel for a dime, a camel for 1,000 dimes.)
As Mike Dalkilic explains, the proverb is used to show the irony when a person could not afford something even when it was very cheap, but later can afford it when it’s 1,000 times more expensive.
Are you willing to pay more for a product or service if the producer can prove the quality is superior to others on the market? When in the past month have you intentionally paid more to get a slightly better product or service?
(excerpted from The Post Tribune–a Sun-Times Media company)
For over a decade Rochester, NY, has watched as once powerful Kodak, once its largest employer, dwindled in bankruptcy. But after a decade of steady decline, Rochester and the surrounding area have benefited from an onslaught of immigrants from over 100 different countries. And with that immigration has been a boom in new business creation as these newly minted citizens birthed new companies. Today the region, which is home to over 62,000 foreign-born residents, has well over three thousand businesses owned by these newly minted residents who have created over 5,000 jobs and had an economic impact totally $600 million in sales and payrolls topping 120 million.
Just one more example of how making it in America is still an achievable option.
In Monroe County, where Rochester is located, a large percentage of immigrants are from China, India, Italy and Canada.
Some recent examples of successful immigrant owned businesses include Somalia born Mohammed Shoble who purchased Northside Auto Repair who fled his war-torn country with his family in 1996 when he was thirteen years old. Shoble said, “If you have ambitions and goals and you pursue it you will achieve your goals. The opportunity will not come to you. You have to look for it.” Ming’s Noodles owners Larry and Kelly Wong add, “We started with very little. In China we wouldn’t have this kind of business.” Fellow restauranteur Natanael Beshah, who came to Rochester ten years ago from Ethiopia, cautions that “It’s not easy. You have to know the language to communicate. I didn’t have a chance to go to school over there. There you work hard but nothing changes. There’s a lot of corruption.”
Immigrants to the U.S. can find the going rough in this country because the SBA only offers startup loans to citizens. Those on the pathway to citizenship often rely on funding from close relatives. However, what immigrant entrepreneurs learn about starting a business also serves as good advice for native born citizens.
- Save up as much money as possible before starting. Don’t expect to start paying back loans right away with profits. Try to save up for the first year, or two.
- Start small. Don’t rent space if you don’t have to. Don’t hire employees until you can keep them all busy. Try contractors or temp workers at first. Try starting in a garage, or in your house.
- Protect your personal assets. Buy liability insurance and consider forming a corporation or limited liability company.
(Blog content courtesy of the Rochester Democrat Chronicle http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/money/business/2013/11/01/foreign-born-business-ownership-grows-in-rochester-/3327037/)
In a recent article, Kiplinger magazine celebrated seven successful businesspeople who emigrated to the United States. Here’s a link to the article: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/7-self-made-immigrant-millionaires.html?page=all
A few bullet points:
- Immigrants comprise 13 percent of the U.S. population
- One out of six small business owners is an immigrant
- Immigrants come from every country in the world
- They come to the U.S. to raise their families, live in freedom and want their kids to be born here
- Many immigrants are highly skilled and willing to work hard to get ahead
As an immigrant country it is important that we welcome those who arrive legally on our shores and be willing to help integrate them into our huge American melting pot. Just as generations before welcomed those who arrived before them.
Each of the successful immigrants featured in the Kiplinger article have uniquely American stories.
Sergey Brin came to America with his family from Russia during a time when anti-semitism rode rampant. As co-founder of Google, he is part of the second most valuable company in America employs tens of thousands. Lowell Hawthorn arrived in the U.S. from Jamaica in 1981. His company, Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery and Grill, now has over 100 locations and generates over 100 million in revenue. Shama Kabani came to the U.S. with her family in 1994 when she was nine. Her company, Marketing Zen Group. After earning her masters from the University of Texas in 2008, she founded her marketing communications company and now, just a few years later, employs thirty.
As Sid Baron says in his new book, Achieving Success in America, “the American dream is alive and well for those willing to work hard.”
How do you feel about those who emigrate to our country? Do you feel it is good for our country?
By Max Nisen and Jenna Goudreau for Business Insider (business insider.com) Edited and condensed for Achieving Success in America blog
Being a successful entrepreneur frequently involves a series of missteps and mistakes before finally nailing the right idea or business. The difference, for many, between giving up and persisting through the toughest times can be getting advice from people who have done it before — and being smart enough to listen.
From investor Mark Cuban’s dad telling him that there are no shortcuts to Lululemon founder Chip Wilson’s realization that people actually enjoy helping others, we asked 12 successful entrepreneurs to share the best advice they ever got, discovering the lessons that stick with them to this day.
Jon Taffer, restaurateur
“Years ago when I was very young,” recalls Taffer, the host of TV show “Bar Rescue” and a former business owner, in a recent interview with Business Insider, “a VP of Hyatt looked at me and said, ‘You look, but you don’t see.'” Taffer learned to look not just at the big picture, but also at every place setting, light fixture, and customer exchange. “See every crack, every detail. I learned to really see and not just look at my business,” he says.
Dilbert creator, Scott Adams
“The best advice I got was before I was a syndicated cartoonist,” Adams tells Business Insider. “I asked advice of a professional cartoonist, Jack Cassady, who had a TV show called ‘Funny Business’ years ago on PBS. I wrote to him, and he gave me this advice: ‘It’s a competitive business, but don’t give up.'”
“That sounds very non-profound, but let me fast forward the story,” Adams continues. “I put some comics together and sent them to magazines — The New Yorker, Playboy — but they rejected them. So I said, ‘Oh well, I tried.’ A year later, I get a second letter from Cassady. He’d been cleaning his office and came across my original samples. He said he was just writing to me to make sure that I hadn’t given up. And I had. So I took out my art supplies, and I decided to raise my sights.”
“I had to do one more thing for luck to find me,” he says. “As it turns out, one of the perhaps six people on planet Earth who could have looked at my cartoon and said ‘yes’ was a woman married to a guy who was the spitting image of, and had the same job as, Dilbert. It required that one extra attempt, and that wouldn’t have happened without the best advice anybody ever gave me, which is don’t give up.”
“While I prefer to describe that feeling as staying hungry rather than scared, I thought it was indeed great advice,” she says. “I have found this hunger to be an incredibly important motivator during my entire career. Being comfortable is the enemy. Staying hungry forces you to push yourself to continue to survive, grow, and evolve.”
Mark Cuban, billionaire investor
The investor and owner of the Dallas Mavericks tells Business Insider the best advice he ever got was: “Do the work. Out-work. Out-think. Out-sell your expectations. There are no shortcuts.” The advice came from his father, who did upholstery on cars, when Cuban was in high school. “He was always very encouraging but also realistic,” Cuban says of his dad.
Chip Wilson, Lululemon founder
“It took me a long time to understand it, but [the advice was] to ask for help and that I don’t know it all,” Wilson tells Business Insider. “People love to help. I don’t have to be insecure and know it all.” He got this insight at Landmark Forum, a weekend workshop he attended in 1991. Learning how to trust others and share control turned out to be critical to the success of Lululemon, since in the beginning he was simultaneously running it and another company.
Tim Ferriss, entrepreneur and author
“The best advice I ever got is: You’re the average of the five people you associate with the most,” Ferriss, author of the best-selling book “The 4-Hour Workweek,” tells Business Insider. He got the advice from a wrestling coach when he was in high school, and has never forgotten it. “I use it always, whether it’s choosing startups to invest in, choosing investors, sports teams to join, or people to have dinner with. Constantly, I think about this.”
Marcus Lemonis, Camping World CEO
“The best advice I ever got was from Lee Iaccoca, who was very influential in my career,” Lemonis told Business Insider. “It was very simple. It was get into a business where you can be a big fish, not the little fish. Get into a business where you can be a change agent, where you can make a difference. It’s worked well for me.”
Dan Horan, 5 Acre Farms CEO
“Simplicity is really important,” Horan told Business Insider. “It’s got to be simple, and sometimes to make something simple you have to really, really study everything about it. It might turn out to be complex, but you have to present it simply, particularly when it comes to people: when people buy something, they don’t want a lecture.”
David Lai, Hello Design CEO
“When I was growing up my father would always tell me, ‘We all only have 24 hours a day. It’s what we choose to do with that time that defines us,'” Lai told Business Insider. “It’s the one thing you can never get back.”
Barbara Corcoran, real estate investor and broker
Call it reverse psychology, but it was an insult that motivated Corcoran to succeed. “It’s kind of weird. The best advice was the worst advice,” she told Business Insider’s Henry Blodget. “It was from my boyfriend and partner in my first business when he told me I would never succeed without him. I was injured no doubt. But thank God he insulted me because I would not have built a big business without that. It kept me trying everything because I couldn’t give him the satisfaction of seeing me fail. So the best advice was an insult.”
Shafqat Islam, NewsCred CEO
“Multiple people have told me this, and I don’t know if I can credit it to a single person, but one thing that I think about is if you’re not getting told ‘no’ enough times a day, you’re probably not doing it right or you’re probably not pushing yourself hard enough,” Islam told Business Insider.
“I think that’s a good piece of advice for anybody building a company because you hear ‘no’ so many times,” Islam adds. “And I think that’s normal, that’s a good thing, that you’re trying to trying to do something that’s disruptive, that’s groundbreaking, that there’s going to be naysayers.”
Dane Atkinson, SumAll CEO
“One thing that I’ve slowly come to realize is that focus is so critically important,” Atkinson told Business Insider. “Saying ‘no’ to great ideas is necessary to get to the brilliant ones. At every step of the way you have to cut towards one path. It’s such a hard thing to do as an entrepreneur because you don’t really have the confidence in where you’re going yourself.”
“You see these little companies building out service brands because they want to have account executives who work with customers,” Atkinson adds, “so they try to spin their products into serving three different groups in the first couple of years, and that’s a very adverse situation to get into. We all expect services to do one thing right, allow you to search the world or enter 140 characters or post pictures of your friends. It’s a very simple formula that you just repeat and rinse all the way to success.”
As interviews with leading entrepreneurs show, it takes a certain attitude and work ethic to start a new business venture. Most entrepreneurs have the ability to pick themselves up whenever they fail and truly learn from their missteps.
Do you have what it takes to start a new business?
Adapted from an article originally appearing in Reuters News Service outlets on Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Tired about setting yearly goals only to have them disappear once the new year is underway?
Many businesspeople have grown to realize it is next to impossible to accurately predict the financial results for the new year. As a result, some have shifted from emphasizing goals to developing systems designed to get things done. After all, if financial goals are way off the mark then better methods must be found.
If implementing a systems approach, the level of success is dependent of several criteria.
While goals state the results that are wanted they do not provide the actions required for those goals to be achieved.
What’s the difference between goals and systems?
- If you’re a coach, your goal is to win a championship. Your system is what your team does at practice each day.
- If you’re a writer, your goal is to write a book. Your system is the writing schedule that you follow each week.
- If you’re a runner, your goal is to run a marathon. Your system is your training schedule for the month.
- If you’re an entrepreneur, your goal is to build a million dollar business. Your system is your sales and marketing process.
For example, let’s say you were a basketball coach who ignored your goal to win a championship and focused only on what your team does at practice each day, would your results be acceptable?
Here are three more reasons why you should focus on systems instead of goals.
1. Goals reduce your current happiness.
When you’re working toward a goal, you are essentially saying, “I’m not good enough yet, but I will be when I reach my goal.”
The problem with this mindset is that you’re teaching yourself to always put happiness and success off until the next milestone is achieved. “Once I reach my goal, then I’ll be happy. Once I achieve my goal, then I’ll be successful.”
SOLUTION: Commit to a process, not a goal.
Choosing a goal puts a huge burden on your shoulders. Can you imagine if I had made it my goal to write two books this year? Just writing that sentence stresses me out.
But we do this to ourselves all the time. We place unnecessary stress on ourselves to lose weight or to succeed in business or to write a best-selling novel. Instead, you can keep things simple and reduce stress by focusing on the daily process and sticking to your schedule, rather than worrying about the big, life-changing goals.
When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can enjoy the present moment and improve at the same time.
2. Goals are strangely at odds with long-term progress.
You might think your goal will keep you motivated over the long-term, but that’s not always true.
Consider someone training for a half-marathon. Many people will work hard for months, but as soon as they finish the race, they stop training. Their goal was to finish the half-marathon and now that they have completed it, that goal is no longer there to motivate them. When all of your hard work is focused on a particular goal, what is left to push you forward after you achieve it?
This can create a type of “yo-yo effect” where people go back and forth from working on a goal to not working on one. This type of cycle makes it difficult to build upon your progress for the long-term.
SOLUTION: Release the need for immediate results.
I was training at the gym last week and I was doing my second-to-last set of clean and jerks. When I hit that rep, I felt a small twinge in my leg. It wasn’t painful or an injury, just a sign of fatigue near the end of my workout. For a minute or two, I thought about doing my final set. Then, I reminded myself that I plan to do this for the rest of my life and decided to call it a day.
In a situation like the one above, a goal-based mentality will tell you to finish the workout and reach your goal. After all, if you set a goal and you don’t reach it, then you feel like a failure.
But with a systems-based mentality, I had no trouble moving on. Systems-based thinking is never about hitting a particular number, it’s about sticking to the process and not missing workouts.
Of course, I know that if I never miss a workout, then I will lift bigger weights in the long-run. And that’s why systems are more valuable than goals. Goals are about the short-term result. Systems are about the long-term process. In the end, process always wins.
3. Goals suggest that you can control things that you have no control over.
You can’t predict the future. (I know, shocking.)
But every time we set a goal, we try to do it. We try to plan out where we will be and when we will make it there. We try to predict how quickly we can make progress, even though we have no idea what circumstances or situations will arise along the way.
SOLUTION: Build feedback loops.
Each Friday, I spend 15 minutes filling out a small spreadsheet with the most critical metrics for my business. For example, in one column I calculate the conversion rate (the percentage of website visitors that join my free email newsletter each week). I rarely think about this number, but checking that column each week provides a feedback loop that tells me if I’m doing things right. When that number drops, I know that I need to send high quality traffic to my site.
Feedback loops are important for building good systems because they allow you to keep track of many different pieces without feeling the pressure to predict what is going to happen with everything. Forget about predicting the future and build a system that can signal when you need to make adjustments.
Fall In Love With Systems
None of this is to say that goals are useless. However, I’ve found that goals are good for planning your progress and systems are good for actually making progress.
In fact, I think I’m going to officially declare 2014 the “Year of the Sloth” so that everyone will be forced to slow down and make consistent, methodical progress rather than chasing sexy goals for a few weeks and then flaming out.
Goals can provide direction and even push you forward in the short-term, but eventually a well-designed system will always win. Having a system is what matters. Committing to the process is what makes the difference.
Let’s face it, we all make mistakes. How we deal with them often determines whether we ultimately succeed. Especially in business. Writing for INC magazine, author Jeff Haden reflects on nine common mistakes made by new entrepreneurs and business owners. They are:
1. Think of an end result
Say you’re agonizing over a business plan; somewhere along the way you’ve forgotten your goal is to actually start the business. Establish goals, create long-range plans, make to-do lists, and get going.
Most successful people are solid planners and excellent adapters. Get started so you can start adapting.
2. Assume style indications substance
Logos, identity packages, killer wardrobes, eccentric work spaces… none of those matter if you can’t deliver. Businesses are built on go, not show. Your business or personal style will create a memorable brand as long as you deliver.
Just be you. And get to work.
3. This of business as all-you-can-eat
Ideas are thrilling. Opportunities are tantalizing. Dreams are exciting.
Great, but execution is everything. Take on too much and you do few things well. Keep getting distracted by the latest trend and your best ideas get ignored.
Check out everything on the business menu, but only select a few items at a time. Don’t be afraid, or have too big an ego, to start small.
4. Underestimate the time required
Nothing ever goes as quickly as you predict; in a start-up, time passes in reverse dog years. Create timelines but always factor in scenarios and sensitivities. If you don’t reach your estimated sales in six months, what will you do?
An estimate is theoretical. Plans are more concrete. Know what you will do if your timelines are wrong. They will be.
5. Assume perfection is required
Trying to create a product that meets every conceivable customer need? Sooner is almost always better than later, so do a Tim Gunn and make it work. Get to market and then start refining your products or services based on actual customer feedback.
6. Underestimate the money required
It’s easy to underestimate cost when you let hope creep into your calculations. A start-up, no matter how bootstrapped, always has unforeseen costs. Just because you really want something to work out doesn’t mean it will magically cost less.
Apply sensitivities and create plans in case your estimates are wrong. Just like your time estimates, they will be.
7. Give up too soon
Success rhymes with excess for good reason: Entrepreneurs who succeed do so because they work harder and longer. Before you give up, take a step back and decide whether additional effort is all that’s required to overcome roadblocks or hurdles.
Sometimes it’s not the business or the market. Sometimes it’s you. Never quit until you’re sure it’s not you.
8. Stop acting silly
If you’re like me your favorite childhood stories involve something stupid you did. (How else would I know the right mixture of sulfur and saltpeter will burn hot enough to turn a Tonka truck into a glop of metal?)
Business is serious enough. Every once in awhile, do something silly. Silly is memorable. Silly makes you feel like a kid again. Laughing at yourself will make the toughest day a lot easier.
9. Adopt expectations
We are all influenced to some extent by what other people think about us. But what do you want? What really matters to you? Live your life based on the opinions of others and you live their lives, not your own.
What matters most is what matters most to you. Always be sure you’re living your life. It’s the only one you get.
As the article notes, there are a lot of mistakes to avoid. Yet be aware that how we handle the inevidable determines our level of success. Are we going to be marginally successful for a brief time by avoiding all risk or be immensely successful for a much longer time by taking informed risks? Remember, you cannot be in business without taking some risks.