INVEST IN YOU

 These signs look familiar?

These signs look familiar?

My life didn’t change until I changed one specific habit. 

Before I share with you what that one habit is, let me give you some context on what drew me to this realization.  It all started over three years ago, when I was working in oncology sales at my previous company.  I was in an account manager role, and it just wasn’t the right fit.  The timing was awful.  Due to some practices overseas, we were slapped with a Corporate Integrity Agreement, which forced us to revisit how our sales force was compensated…as in, no more pay for sales, but in verbal and written tests.  “Someone kill me now and take me out of my misery,” is what I thought on a day to day basis.  This role and compensation model made for many restless nights, my blood pressure was in the high 140’s, and I was taking medication to try to lower that number and my angst.  I wasn’t fulfilling my true potential and thriving at work.  Stressed and looking for ways to get me out of this funk, I tried several things. 

I first thought seeing a counselor would help.  I remember sending one particular counselor an email saying that I needed a “confidence coach,” to help me come up with ways to get me through this season in my life.  She really didn’t understand what I meant by confidence coach.  I must have done a not so good job of articulating what I was going through and needed.  Regardless, I went to see her for a few sessions and really didn’t feel the connection and growth I was looking for.

My next attempt to lower my stress was to take Transcendental Meditation training.  I read all of the benefits that this practice offers and how many celebrities swear by it…at that point, I was looking for anything.  So I ponied up the $750 fee and took the training, which was about 8 sessions in some random tiny house in Kirkland and my instructor must have been pushing 80 years old.  I am a big believer of practicing some type of mindfulness, visualization, and meditation, but this version did not give me the instant gratification I was seeking either.

Feeling stuck and running out of options, my manager sent everyone in our sales team a gift.  This one act if generosity and leadership was the solution I needed.  This one act kick started a movement within my soul.  

This gift was so simple; I had already done it hundreds of times before, but with a different intention and focus.  

This one life changing tactic has so immense power that in ancient times and even in early American history, people in positions of authority outlawed peasants, the lower class, and slaves access to this one skill.  Even to this day, whoever has the most access to this resources and utilizes it’s endless power can acquire healthier relationships, wealth, influence, health, and reaching one’s true potential – all the things I was looking for. 

This one simple act often times gets overlooked, downplayed, and forgotten as a strategy for optimization.  The most successful people in the world know and use this gift daily.  So, what is this gift?  READING A BOOK.

I’ve mentioned this before on my blog, but its worth mentioning again.  The book that my manager gifted was called Positive Intelligence, by Shirzad Chamine.  This one piece of literature gave me the tools to identify and overcome negative thought patterns, as well as help me with strategies to improve my mindset, perspective, and ability to execute.  With this knowledge, I had the confidence and mental focus to leave pharmaceutical sales and crack into the highly competitive medical device industry with a Fortune 500 company and market leader.

Once at my new company, I was assigned a mentor named Frankie, who was all about investing in his personal development.  Frankie was very successful throughout his career – being on stage and winning national awards nearly every year.  I wanted what he had and asked him how I could get there.  His answer was NOT to ask insightful questions, handle objections properly, or to “ABC” (Always Be Closing).  Instead he gave me a list of about 25 books that were game changers for him.  He said, if you read these and apply them, the sky is the limit for you.  After seeing the drastic improvement just one book did for me, I started to clap my hands with excitement, thinking of the impact that reading more books would do!

 Simple concept with huge payoffs

Simple concept with huge payoffs

I attacked that list like a white blood cell engulfing a foreign particle in our blood stream.  I was ALL IN and with each book consumed, I felt stronger and desired more information.  

I made reading and listening to audiobooks a daily habit.  The results of this practice have manifested many wonderful things in my life that would not have possible if I would have gone back to my original habits of watching movies weekly, binging on Netflix and TV; wasting hours dinking around on my phone; spending every minute in my car listening to music, talk radio, or chatting on the phone.  I instead made it a point to take in as much information as I could. 

Everything we could possibly want or need has already been done, and most likely, someone has written about it.

This one habit of going all in on my personal development has changed everything for me: from being Rookie of the Year, back to back Top Performer Awards, creating a blog, being invited to speak to a variety of audiences, and even completing the contentof my first book (it is in the editing process right now, but I can’t wait to give you guys more insights later)!  All of these accomplishments could not have been possible without making daily reading a non negotiable with myself.  I’m all about non-fiction books…what about you?  

 What are you investing in?

What are you investing in?

The average CEO reads about 4-5 books per month, which is 50-60 per year.  Conversely, 25-30% of Americans read zero books in a year.  The mean number of books the average American reads is 5 (this number is inflated by the small percentage who read much more).  There is no arguing why the most influential and successful people in business and life read in one month what the average person reads in one year.  

According to Lana Winter-Hebert from LifeHacks.org, there are many benefits to reading:

• Improves mental stimulation

• Reduces stress

• Increases knowledge

• Expands your vocabulary

• Improves your memory

• Creates stronger analytical thinking skills
• Improves focus and concentration
• Improves writing skills

As reported in the Huffington Post:

• Bill Gates reads about 50 books per year (one per week)

• Mark Cuban reads more than 3 hours every day

• Elon Musk is an avid reader and when asked how he learned to build rockets, he said, “I read books.”

• Mark Zuckerberg resolved to read a book every 2 weeks throughout 2015

If these icons have enough time to read and make it a priority in their daily lives, we definitely should too.

learners.jpg

Marguerite Ward from CNBC Money wrote an eye popping article on what Warren Buffett calls the secret to his success.  Buffett says that he spends about 80 percent of his time each day reading.  He even tries to read up to 500 pages per day!  He says that reading is like compound interest – the earlier and more often you do it, the wealthier you will become!

I usually have one book I’m reading and one I’m listening to in audiobook form at the same time. My goal is to consume and finish 4 books a month.  I just finished the book, TheCircle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears, by Mark Batterson.  While I was reading that, I’d listen to Angela Duckworth’s book Grit: The Power of Passionand Perseverance in audiobook form (I only have one hour until I’m done!).  I’m now reading Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t, by Jim Collins…its a classic!

While I read and listen to my books, I always keep notes and write down the points that speak to me.  Many of my quotes I list on my social media platforms are inspired by something I read or heard.  These artists, authors, researchers, and creators definitely inspire me to innovate, face my fears, and be my best self.  I want you to feel this crazy force of good and inspiration for yourself!

 Big things come in small packages…like a book 

Big things come in small packages…like a book 

HERE ARE MY 6 TIPS TO READ MORE BOOKS:

  1. Look at your monthly expenses and budget at least $40-$50 per month on books ($10-15 for a physical book, and about $20 for an audiobook)…trust me, it will be the best investment you will ever make!  If you are a manager…add this into your team’s budget and let your team expense it.  
    • If you don’t have the budget, go to the library, ask your friends to borrow one of their favorites, or check out iTunes and Android apps which offer free books.
    • BookBub offers thousands of free or discounted books…check them out here!
  2. Use your phone, iPad, or other devices to download books to read (Kindle, Nook, etc).  This method is usually cheaper than a hard copy and takes up less space!  For e-book device reviews, check out this article.
  3. Use iTunes to download audiobooks.  This method has changed everything for me.  When I drive, this is my go-to to pass the time (or Podcasts).  Instead of wasting away to music all day, get your mind right!  I also use this method when I work out at the gym or go on a walk/run…your brain is a muscle too!
  4. Pick a consistent time in the day to read.  While getting started, pencil this time into your calendar.  Mornings or evenings are the most common.  I like to read at night when my wife is working in her office or when I jump in bed.  This relaxes my mind and helps me sleep better (two pretty awesome benefits).
    • If you read 15 minutes a day, every day of the year, you’ll read twelve 200 page books in one year!
    • A half hour a day would bring your total up to 24 books a year…remember: learners are earners!
  5. Get some friends together and create a book club.  You can do this at work and improve on personal development with members of your team; you can do a book study with a local small group within your church; or you can meet at Starbucks once a month with a few friends and discuss a shared book.  I’ve done all three of these.  When you go in on something together, it makes it more fun and holds you accountable.  Be a leader and set in motion positive change by getting a few people to learn together.
  6. Download this appBlinklist.  This app has a digital library of thousands of books and reproduces them in summary form.  You can listen or read the main points of an entire book in just 10-15 minutes!  All of the best selling books and authors in the world are at your disposal.  There is a small fee, but its worth it.  I get great new book suggestions based on my interests, which I love.  With this app, I have read dozens of books that I’ve always wanted to read, but didn’t have enough time to get to…now with this app…the book world is at my fingertips! 

I definitely do not want to go back to that place where I was before I discovered the power of reading consistently.  

My hope is that you channel this same power and apply it to your life.  Be curious…feed that curiosity with knowledge.  Apply that knowledge and reap the rewards….who knows, if you read enough books, you might be a CEO one day.

Here is my book teaser…below is a list of books I reference in my new book coming soon!  I hope this list will help light a fire inside to be your best self.

Positive Intelligence: Why Only 20% of Teams and Individuals Achieve Their True Potential AND HOW YOU CAN ACHIEVE YOURS, by Shirzad Chamine

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol Dweck

Confidence: How to Overcome Your Limiting Beliefs and Achieve Your Goals, by Martin Meadows

The End of Stress: Four Steps to Rewire Your Brain, Don Joseph Goewey

No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline for Success in Your Life, by Brian Tracy

Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill

The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure, by Grant Cardone

The School of Greatness: A Real-World Guide to Living Bigger, Loving Deeper, and Leaving a Legacy, by Lewis Howes

9 Things Successful People Do Differently, by Heidi Grant Halvorson

Grit: The Power of Passion and Persistence, by Angela Duckworth

18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done, by Peter Bregman

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg

The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, by Shawn Achor

The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simply Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy, by Jon Gordon

The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph, by Ryan Holiday

Successful Advertising. 1885, by Thomas Smith

The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne

StrengthsFinder 2.0, by Tom Rath

Lead Like Jesus: Lessons from the Greatest Leadership Role Model of All Time, by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges

The Hidden Gifts of Helping: How the Power of Giving, Compassion, and Hope Can Get Us Through Hard Times, by Stephen G. Post

Ego Is the Enemy, by Ryan Holiday

Tools For Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers, by Tim Ferriss

The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream, by Paulo Coelho

Make the Bigtime Where You Are, by Frosty Westering