The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster: Why Now Is the Time to #Join the Ride - by Darren Hardy

The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster: Why Now Is the Time to #Join the Ride – by Darren Hardy

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The first moment of the entrepreneur roller coaster is right now, and it’s a choice. One that only you can make.
You’re standing at the ticket booth. You can choose to seize the moment and pass through the turnstiles, or you can turn and walk away.
What will it be?
Before you decide, I want you to envision something. It’s 20, 30, or 40 years from now, and you are bouncing your great-grandchild on your knee. She looks around your house in awe and then up at you with big wide eyes and asks, “What did you do? How did we end up like this?”
You will be able to say, “I was there, my child. I was there at the critical juncture in time, when the Industrial Age ended and the Connected Age began, and…”
How will you end that sentence? Do you want to say, “I took full advantage of that incredible moment in history, and my choices made possible the full, prosperous lives we love so much.”
Or do you want to say, “But I missed it. I didn’t do anything about it. It passed me by, and that’s why we’re stuck.” Don’t miss out. Take the ride with me.


For this wild ride, though, the requirement isn’t height. It’s love.
Franklin P. Jones was right, “Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.” It’s such an essential element that if you don’t love it, you’re better off not getting on the ride at all.
The first and most important factor in building a successful business is that you have to love it.
Do you love it? Does your business make your heart go pitter-patter? Because if you’re not crazy-in-love, you’re not going to make it. You’ll give up—and no one would blame you! Even the universe-denting “Iron Man” entrepreneur Elon Musk said that starting a company is like “staring into the abyss and eating glass.”
You need to love it. And, just like the aggravating answer your mother probably gave you, you’ll know the real thing when it arrives. But how do you find the real thing?
The truth is that “looking for my passion” is just an excuse in disguise. We use it to cover up for the fact that we’re not progressing, growing, and taking action in life. The real problem isn’t that it’s lost or missing—passion isn’t something you “find” or discover. Passion is already there.
Passion is like electricity in a light switch. It’s always there. Even when the switch is turned off, the electricity is there, running red hot, waiting in the wires, ready to be turned on. There’s no wandering around wondering where it’s hiding. If you want to feel passion, then, like electricity, all you have to do is flip the switch to “ON.” How do you flip your switch? There are four light switches to turn your passion ON, and they’re in your head and heart, not under your couch cushions.
Nothing is awesome all the time. Give up that notion right now. Did that shock you? Write it on a sticky, and put it on your computer monitor. “This work is going to suck 95 percent of the time.” It’s the truth.
Work is gonna suck 95% of the time. But that other 5% is freaking awesome!
Some people do indeed find their passions. But some passions are meant to remain hobbies—something you do for the sheer fun of it. What a concept! Don’t be fooled by the falsely exalted “WHAT” switch. That bulb can burn out at a moment’s notice and leave you with bruises and broken toes from stumbling around in the dark.
I like what Mark Twain said: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
I love this switch because it’s more challenging than the others. It’s easy to be switched on by what you do and even why you do it. But to bring passion to how you do even the most (seemingly) mundane tasks? That’s no easy feat.
You can flip the how switch ON anytime. It could be as simple as how you fill out your expense reports. It could be your preparations for a meeting. It could be the process you go through to get dressed in the morning! It just requires bringing a level of presence, joy, and energy into everything and anything you choose. Loving how you do what you do can be a passionate, rewarding, and enlightened way to live.
Do you need to find your passion, or do you just need to bring it into what you already do?
This is the means-to-the-end switch. You might not be passionate about what you do, why you do it, or even how you go about doing it, but you do it with passion because of who it benefits. The “who” might be your children, your family, your community, your country, or someone else entirely, but it’s not you.

“If you haven’t found something you are willing to die for, you aren’t fit to live.” —Martin Luther King Jr.

When you think about your business or your professional life, maybe what you do isn’t all that awe-inspiring. Maybe there is no great mission or grand why to it. Maybe you aren’t all that impassioned to make how you perform daily tasks your work of art either. But maybe it’s the perfect resource to help, support, and provide financial security to whom you love and cherish.
When you simply refocus your mind and attention on who is being served by what you do, why and how you do it, all of a sudden your passion is re-engaged, turned ON, and the entire process becomes more meaningful.
Which switch you choose doesn’t really matter, as long as the choice matters to you—passionately.
Once you flip the switch, it’ll provide you with the adrenaline you’ll need to persevere through the dips, twists, and loops of the track ahead on the entrepreneur roller coaster.
Almost every great achievement began with someone finally getting ticked off, saying, ‘Enough!’ and standing up to fight.
A good enemy gives you a reason to get fired up. A nemesis pushes you to reach deep and use your skills, talents, and abilities to their fullest. Having to fight challenges your character and resolve. A fight will lead you to push harder, go farther, and hang on longer than you ever would otherwise.
Hmmm… sounds a lot like love, doesn’t it? The reality is love and hate are the same thing—just looking in different directions. If you love something, you equally hate what threatens it.
Being successful in business requires an emotional charge. Love is great, but if that charge comes from your desire to right a wrong, fight the good fight, or seek justice, then it’s just as good as love and often even better.
One of the best days of your life can be when you finally say, ‘I’ve had it!’ then stand up and fight.
The hate of something negative can be a powerful force for good, but if thinking about fighting or hate feels uncomfortable, then start here: Think about what you love. What positive outcome do you want to see realized as a result of your product, service, or business?
Got that image in your mind?
Now, what’s the opposite of that? What threatens that? What is the enemy of that? Who or what could stop you from achieving that outcome?
There’s your enemy! There’s your epic battle.
I promise you that when you come up with your answer you’ll notice your nervous system kick in and your blood begin to pump. That, my friend, is how you hack your brain and turn on 100 percent pure, unadulterated, high-octane, heart-pounding motivational mojo!
Just like Rocky put a picture of Apollo on his training room mirror, find your enemy and let that image stir your blood. Get your heart pounding every morning so you will dig a little deeper, go a little longer, and fight a lot harder.
What’s your fight?
During the boom of the late 1990s, billionaire Warren Buffett refused to invest in Internet stocks. Buffett was in his late 60s at the time, and investors everywhere were calling him an out-of-touch old fogey. Then the Internet bubble popped, and everyone was calling him a genius.
When he was asked why he didn’t invest in Internet stocks, he held up his thumb and index finger to make a circle. He said something like, “You see this? This is my circle of competency. I only get involved with opportunities that are inside that circle. If it’s not in there, I don’t invest in it. It’s not that I didn’t think there weren’t good companies with good opportunities operating on the Internet. They just weren’t in my circle.”
Like Buffett, we all have unique skills, talents, and advantages. All of us. There is something you do that most people cannot do as well. Those strengths are your special gifts, and identifying them is another way you can determine if a business is right for you.
When you understand your unique strength, gift, and contribution, you can more easily let go of everything else (without guilt) and go about the business of flexing that muscle and doing all you need to continue to build, grow, and develop it further. You can also shore up your weaknesses, and fill the rest of the seats on your ride with people who have the strengths you don’t.
DNA has nothing to do with success. Turn your genes into overalls and get to work.
“If you’d rather be anywhere than doing your great work on a Saturday morning,” [David Foster] says, “then you’re probably doing the wrong thing or looking at it the wrong way.”

“Everyone has talent, but ability takes hard work.” —Michael Jordan


We are encouraged to follow the status quo. For most people, that means becoming an employee. And that’s exactly what 90 percent of the world becomes. When you decide to walk away from the 90 percent and step onto the entrepreneur roller coaster, you’re like a lone crab trying to leave the trap.
There are two key reasons:

  1. You make them look bad. When you step outside the status quo, you become like a giant mirror that reflects the reality of their life back to them. They know they should be doing what you’re doing, but they’re afraid—and your choices make their cowardice all the more obvious. Instead of joining you, it’s easier to make fun of you or try to convince you that what you’re doing is foolish, risky, or destined to fail in the hopes that you will give up, come back to the pack, and take the mirror away.
  2. They simply aren’t as courageous as you. They can’t get over the idea of leaving the security of the corporate bosom—their weekly employee paycheck and their meager “benefits.” What you’re doing just doesn’t fit their model of the world, and they aren’t brave enough to follow your lead. It’s easier to mock you than follow you.

People don’t resent you for being brave. They resent themselves for being afraid.
I remember a great quote from Gandhi that I think every entrepreneur needs to keep close at hand: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”


1. STOP BEING LIKABLE. If you are going to be a change-maker, you need to shake the status quo by the shoulders. To improve things, you have to change things. Progress is only achieved through change. But change is the one thing that frightens would-be change-makers the most because shaking things up often leads to poor popularity.
The higher you climb on the ladder of success, the more people will dislike you. Climb high enough, and people might even hate you. Let that be okay. In fact, embrace it!
If you’re not as high on the ladder as you want to be, is it because you’re too worried about people disliking you? Is that keeping you from embracing challenging ideas, stirring up the status quo, and leading a life by your own definition?
Hear it this way: If all the people around you are happy with you, you are not doing great work.
When you stop being like other people, they stop liking you. That’s just how it goes. There’s no escaping it. And it’s okay. What you need to understand about that disapproval is that it’s a sign you’re doing something right. Reframe your perception of disapproval, and it will empower you rather than drain you.
3. DEFINE SUCCESS. What is your definition of success?
Ask yourself. What is success to me? What makes me truly happy? What gives me joy? When am I most satisfied? How will I know when I’ve reached success? What does it look like?
Answer those questions from deep within yourself, and you can spark real insight—an awakening to your true motivation, passion, and purpose in life.
Before making a prospecting call, or after one where I was rejected, I’d often ask myself: “Would this person cry at my funeral?” And most of the time, the answer was: “I doubt they would walk across the street to even go.” That’s all it took for me to stop caring what others thought of me. I call this process “getting a grip.” It means getting perspective on how important the opinions of other people really are. Most of the time, getting a grip means realizing those opinions aren’t important.
Getting a grip immediately eliminates nervousness, worry, and fear. It’s emotionally liberating, but its effects on your business will be even more profound. You’ll make better decisions more easily and discover a newfound clarity. A firm grip has made my own roller coaster ride so much easier.
Let’s face it, most of the time people really don’t care enough to be thinking about you—they’re far too busy thinking about themselves. And if they are thinking of you, they’re only thinking of you in the context of how you are making them look.
5. REDUCE RECOVERY TIME. On the entrepreneur roller coaster you are going to experience failure, setbacks, disappointments, and obstacles. All these things are mandatory, and yes, they hurt. But it’s also okay that they hurt—you’re human, after all. Rejection, failure, and letdowns hurt humans. It’s okay, and it’s part of the deal. You will get knocked down, repeatedly. The difference is in how long you take to get back up.
I used to be far more sensitive to failure, but worked hard to reduce my recovery time—to stand up taller, sooner. Here is the evolution I have gone through and recommend for you: What used to bum me out for two weeks, I eventually whittled down to two days by focusing my attention not on the failure, but on the lessons learned and the opportunities created. Then I got it down to two hours and then to 20 minutes. Now, when I get knocked down, I give myself about two minutes to sulk, and then I brush myself off and get back on the horse.
Martin Luther King Jr. put it this way: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge.”
When asked the best piece of advice he’d give a budding entrepreneur, his answer was, “Know there will be dark days. There will be more dark days than good days, but the few good days are really, really good!”
If you’re going to get better, you have to push yourself. If you push yourself, you’re going to fall. If you’re not falling, you’re not pushing. Falling is part of getting better.
There’s only one certainty in business: You can’t succeed if you quit.


One of the scariest parts of this ride is deciding where to spend your precious time and attention. This is no false threat. Wasting too much time on things that don’t matter and neglecting the things that do will send your cart hurtling off the tracks and headed nose first to the ground below—a short ride on an even shorter track.
But how do you decide where to spend your time?
Best product ever
Like it or not (and I don’t) it’s not a whoever-has-the-best-product-wins world.
Top-notch management
Assembling a dream team is just that… a dream. It’s not the real crux of success. The right people focused on the wrong priorities can turn the dream into a nightmare.
When it comes to the entrepreneur roller coaster, there is one critical thing that will keep your ride from coming to a screeching, flaming halt. Like it or not, the one thing that matters most in determining whether your business succeeds or fails miserably is sales. Here’s how it works: The ultimate success of a product or service is 10 percent product quality and 90 percent sales.
Companies that become the biggest are the ones who market themselves the best and sell the most.
The person who knows how to get, keep, and cultivate a customer gets paid the most. Period.
From the first glow of your computer screen in the morning to the last loose end you tie up before heading home, you need to be selling. You don’t get to hide from it. In fact, there is no place to hide. Whether your business has one employee or one thousand, you have to sell.
You’re going to sell. All day. Every day. That’s business.
From now on, selling is your number one job, your top priority, the only thing that will give you the speed you need to survive the twists, corkscrews, dives, drops, and inversions along this ride.
Why is it more critical than other business essentials? A few good reasons:

  • Everything starts with sales. Nothing matters until you sell something. Nothing. You can vision cast, dream board, draft fancy business plans, meet with consultants, design a nifty logo, get pretty business cards and letterhead made, but there is no business until a sale happens. A sale tells you if you even have a business. A sale starts the entire process and is the first thing every new business needs.
  • Everything is sustained with sales. It’s the lifeblood of the business. Have a problem? Sales will solve most of them. And the most common problem you will run into when it comes to surviving and sustaining your business is, guess what? Yes! Sales.
  • Everything ends with sales. It doesn’t matter how environmentally friendly or socially conscious your product is. It doesn’t matter how important your cause or critical your mission or how awesome your culture is. If you don’t sell enough, you’ll be out of business and fast. There are no bailouts for small businesses or entrepreneurs. There are no safety nets on this ride. Your only insurance policy is to go sell something.

You don’t have a business until you sell something.
Every day millions of businesses fail because their owners are hiding somewhere—hiding behind to-do lists, incessant email checking, social media monitoring, mindless meetings, or unnecessary paperwork. It’s time to quit hiding and start selling.
Have you ever taken a toddler to a grocery store? A child who wants an ice cream or a toy sitting on a store shelf will use every selling skill in the book with relentless persistence. Kids are masters of sales. They know how to overcome objections, push through stall tactics, handle rejection, not take no for an answer, and continue to ask for the order… until the deal is sealed (or until they have to be removed by force).


In today’s age, you are not competing only with competitors. You are competing with prospects, friends, and their adorable baby pictures.
Don’t sell—HELP.
And if what you have doesn’t help?
Then you’ve either got the wrong prospect or the wrong product.
Sales is filling a customer’s perceived need, not your need to sell something.
Sales—effective sales—is not “finding a need and filling it.” Effective sales is about finding a perceived need and helping someone fulfill it. If the customer doesn’t perceive the need, there is no need.
Talk less—listen more. Make fewer statements—ask more questions.
If you want to master one skill that will skyrocket your sales success, learn how to ask better questions, not how to do a better presentation. Ask questions, find answers that serve as solutions, and then (only then) build your presentation or sales message around the answers you receive.
The secret to John Lennon’s success [not the singer], and to your success in sales, is that he is the ultimate Connector. John finds his client’s most important desire, need or hot button and connects the solution he has to meet it.
Do you connect to your customers by asking questions and genuinely listening to the answers? And if so, do you take the extra step to connect those customers to expertly personalized solutions? Do you take time to drastically adjust your message to meet each individual customer’s needs?
If not, it’s time to get started. After all, “You were only waiting for this moment to arise….” (get it?)
Cold calls are for rookies and weirdos. Don’t be a rookie or weirdo. Find a relationship bridge.
There is no reason to waste your time (and it’s irresponsible to waste the time of the person you’re calling on) when there is a very easy way to warm that chilly prospect up. You need to find a bridge.
Find a relationship bridge between you and your desired client. Get referred from a credible and trusted source.
Find someone to get you personally introduced.
In today’s world you are no more than two to three degrees from just about anyone on the planet. Identify those two or three dots to connect, and walk confidently across that bridge. They’ll likely be happy to see you when you get to the other side.
Despite these setbacks however, Mark’s determination did not falter. Instead, he suspected he needed to take a different approach. One night, his parents had their friends Bob and Nancy over for dinner. Mark suggested candy bars for dessert (for the bargain price of only $1 each). With caramel dripping down his chin, Bob said, “You know Mark, these are really good. If you give me a box, I could probably sell them at my office.”
The next day, Bob came back with an empty box, an envelope full of cash, and a request for more.
As he pulled another box of bars from his backpack and handed them over to Bob, Mark knew he was onto something. Instead of trying to sell candy bars one by one, he would sell them box-by-box. He immediately began targeting several more of his parents’ friends who had access to offices filled with candy lovers. Daily, these well-connected people emptied boxes of candy for him and returned with envelopes of cash begging for more chocolate-caramel goodness.
Aside from those first few failed candy bar sales attempts, Mark has never sold accounts one by one. In the decades since crushing the candy bar contest, Mark has looked instead for influencers: people with their own large networks who, if sold on his idea, venture, or opportunity, could potentially generate entire volumes of transactions for him. Not just one. Time and again, this strategy has worked, and Mark has millions in the bank to show for it.
If you really want to add some speed to your roller coaster ride, shift your thinking. Instead of taking each sale one by one, use the Mark approach and sell in bulk, box by box. Seek out influencers, those who are connected to broader networks of potential customers.
I developed what I called my Shock and Awe Blitz Campaign. Once I set my sights on you, you were either going to love me or hate me. But two things were certain: You would not be able to ignore or forget me.
You lose 1 out of 5 prospects for being too aggressive. But you win the other 4!
Before then I was overly concerned about being too assertive or over-bearing. If someone got mad or called the broker (my dad!) to complain that I was calling too early, too late, or showing up on the doorstep too often, I was horrified. After my lunch with Mari, being aggressive became my goal.
Ask yourself this: Are you shocking enough in your approach? Are you awe-inspiring? If not, it’s time to stop being scared of scaring clients away. Instead, be excited about the customers who will admire your willingness to go big!
To maximize your efforts, you need to narrow your sights and go after the “best buyers.”
Best buyers are about 10 percent of your client base, and you can probably picture them in your mind:

  • They love your product or service.
  • They buy your best products.
  • They buy in bigger quantities.
  • They buy frequently.
  • They’re a joy to work with.
  • They love to tell their friends about you.

Identify which ones meet the following three criteria:

  • Easy. They’re readily accessible and easy to reach, costing you little advertising, marketing, and sales effort.
  • Fast. They have the greatest, most obvious perceived need, so when presented with your solution, they see the value quickly and are quick to make a decision and purchase.
  • Profitable. They are the type that once converted, their lifetime value is high because of their transaction size, upsell purchases, frequency of repeat purchases, and referrals.

Narrow your list. Focus on fewer people. Tighten up the clients you will serve to the ones you can serve best.
Think of what your Dream 50 can do. You want to turn your roller coaster into a rocket ship? Here’s how you do it.
If you could build a dream list, who would be on it? Narrow the universe of available prospects down to that best of the best. Often, your Dream 50 will consist of people you don’t currently even have on your prospect list. You might not have had the courage to write them down before. Add them now! Make a Big Kahunas list—those you dream of being in business with.
You are one or two dream clients away from changing your future. Go get ’em!
Stop hiding and start selling. You know not to put your prospects on a “hit list” but to climb in bed with them instead (metaphorically, of course!) so you can feel how they feel and help them solve the problems that keep them up at night. Talk less, listen more, build bridges, and don’t be afraid to shock and awe your way to the top!


One of the fastest (and most common) ways to derail your roller coaster car and send it to a fiery death is to hire and keep the wrong people. Conversely, the only way to dominate your industry, accomplish your grand mission and “dent the universe,” as Steve Jobs said, is to learn how to recruit, keep, and draw the best out of top talent. In this chapter, you will learn to do just that.
Entrepreneurs are hopeless romantics. Which makes us terrible hiring managers. Get help!
When it comes to recruiting and hiring people to occupy a seat on your roller coaster, you can’t hire enthusiasm. You need to hire evidence. You do not have the time or the resources to train or develop anyone’s skill or attitude. Trust me, you’ve got too many other things going on! You simply need to go recruit people who already have, by evidence, what you need and then place them into your organization.
Hire evidence, not hope.
The average business has about 65 to 80 percent of its operating costs consumed by salaries and wages.
There is a secret, unspoken dark side to company payrolls that many don’t understand or even know exists until it’s too late and their company folds because of it. What is this crippling overhead expense? It’s the unofficial price tag that comes with poor hiring choices—and poor includes the good, the bad, and the ugly employees. Here is the truth about each of them:
By keeping bad employees you are cutting them a check to make you broke and miserable.
When you hire the wrong person, you’re not only paying them, you’re paying them to light piles of your money on fire, spread a cancer throughout your building, and run your roller coaster right off the tracks and into the ground.
When it comes to filling your roller coaster ride with people, good isn’t good enough. Your only option is to hire great people or you’re going to get vomited on during the very first hairpin turn. Blech.
1. A-players are A-player magnets. A-players want to work with other A-players!

“‘A’ players hire ‘A’ players, and ‘B’ players hire ‘C’ players. We only want ‘A’ players here.” —Steve Jobs

2. A-players win.
As Sir Richard Branson said, “… a company consists of one thing, really. If I buy a plane from Boeing, it’ll be exactly the same plane that BA [British Airways] will buy, which will be exactly the same plane that United [Airlines] will buy, exactly the same plane that Air Canada will buy. So, what is a company? A company is the people that are working inside that plane, the people that are working on the ground. They’re the people that make up a company. They either make this company exceptional or average…”
3. A-players are free.
“The idea that ‘great people are free’ has changed my business. In the past I was very reluctant to hire people with salaries above $125,000. After this advice, I hired a very talented (and expensive) President for my company. As a result, revenue increased three times in two years (from $60M in revenue to $180M) and more importantly my stress level is 50 percent of what it was because I share that with him. Not to mention that the company could now run without me if needed.”
The culture is the personality and character expression of the people in it. The only way to shape that culture is to focus on hiring people with the attributes you want your culture to have.
To have high-performance culture, you need to hire and maintain high-performing people.
Principle 1: Know what you want.
An A-player in your business will meet these three criteria:

  2. THEY HAVE THE CHARACTER. You don’t train your people to be successful. You hire successful people. You can’t train for character. You can’t teach people to be disciplined, hardworking, consistent, loyal, positive, friendly, or whatever trait is most important to you. You can only commit to hiring people who already have those attributes.
    Warren Buffett looks for: integrity, intelligence, and energy.
    What do you want? Sit down. Make a list. And start looking. If you don’t know what you want, you can’t find it!
  3. THEY ARE IN LOVE. Look deep into their heart. Ask yourself, Is this the kind of person who could fall in love with what we do here? Do they have the personality, attitude, passion, and heart for the work we do? If the answer is yes, then ask yourself, Would they thrive in our company’s culture? Would our work environment feel like their natural habitat? A great person in the wrong environment is still the wrong person.

Principle 2: Know what they want.
People don’t want what you think they want.
The five things employees are looking for in the workplace.

  1. PEOPLE.
  3. OPPORTUNITY. Great people want the opportunity to move up. They need an upside, something to grow into.
  5. MONEY.

Money is not the primary motivator for an A-Player. Don’t just recruit with a paycheck.
Principle 3: The F-Factor
What makes work fun is doing meaningful work.
A business has to be involving, it has to be fun.” That’s the F-Factor. Is your business involving? Do the people who work for you look forward to coming to the office for eight hours every weekday? Does their work mean something to them? If not, it’s time to put on your party hat and make some changes because there’s nothing more eerie than a roller coaster in motion with no one on the ride.
Your business will only be as good as the people you recruit to join it. Your future and the future of your business depend on your ability to recruit without compromise.
The bigger your dream, the more important your team.


The number one bottleneck or constraint to the growth of any organization is the leader.
As the leader, you ultimately have 100% responsibility for everything. Don’t waste your time blaming.
“Leader” used to be synonymous with “boss” or “manager,” but not anymore. Twenty-First Century Leaders aren’t bosses. They’re not managers. They’re not relics from a bygone era. They’re leaders in the true sense of the word because they understand and embody the four things that set all great leaders apart.
People don’t go as fast as they can. They only go as fast as the leader. You set the pace.
In 1944, the Allied generals gathered to discuss their battle plans for the D-Day invasion of Normandy. After listening to how each general was going to send his soldiers into battle, an angered Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander, slammed his fist down, stood up, and placed a piece of string in the middle of the table. “Gentlemen,” he said, “Do you see this string? This string is like an army. Push it from behind, and it doubles up on itself—you get nowhere. To drive it forward you have to pull it from the front, and it will follow you in perfect order.”
If you want to move your organization forward, you can’t just give a speech and say go. You only need to say, “Follow me,” and make your action your instruction.
Ask only for others to do what you have done yourself first.
Mirror neurons: You can see them in action when you take a picture of someone smiling and you find yourself automatically smiling, too. Your mirror neurons did that. These mirror neurons are always working below the level of your consciousness. It‘s why people will eventually model and match your behavior, particularly the behavior of the one deemed “leader.”
Who you are, how you show up, how you act, live, and represent yourself is your greatest source of influence, and your people will, without even knowing it, mirror your lead.
Your people don’t listen to you, but they do watch you. They are always watching. BE the example.
Every action, comment, and reaction you put out there is training your team. They’re simply reflecting what you project, and if you want to change the reflection, you have to change the projection. You have to lead by example.
Rest assured, if your name badge is going to say “leader,” you will be called to ruffle feathers, ride roughshod over poor performance, fire nice people, kill sacred cows, terminate pet projects, and veto the democratic vote. All of which will likely make you very unpopular. But the aim of the leader is not to be liked. It’s to lead. To do the right thing. And more often than we like, the right thing is not the popular thing.
When people are calling you out and calling you names, they’re really just calling you a leader.
It is the responsibility of the leader to draw out the talent, drive, and capability of the people on their team. Most people are operating at a fraction of what they are really capable of. As the leader you will need to find the unique seeds of greatness buried in each member of your team. You need to remove the weeds (fears, inhibitions, uncertainties), water and fertilize (invest in their personal growth), and provide the sunshine (your positive attitude, belief in them, and example) to transform that miraculous seed inside them into a bountiful harvest of results and productivity.
It’s easy to be distracted by the job of growing your business. But never forget that your job as a leader is also to grow people.
A few years ago, I had the chance to ask a billionaire how he achieved the proverbial “B” status. His answer—which was only three words long—floored me. Ever since then, I have been trying to master his advice.
“Be a quitter.”
“Whatever you are doing in your business right now,” he told me, “your goal really is to find a way to quit it. You need to stop doing almost everything you do at the office.”
“Once the founder has the vision, the key to achieving that vision is to delegate—as much and as fast as possible. Delegation is a form of quitting. Even if you are the most well-rounded and capable CEO of all time, you are still better off delegating functions to specialists. This allows you to multiply the size of your endeavor through large numbers of people rather than trying to do everything yourself.
“The process of quitting is really trying to give up every part of your job as fast as you can,” he said. “All the parts that is, except the part of being the visionary leader.”
“Easier said than done…” I mumbled under my breath. The billionaire chuckled. “Look, when you first start a business, you’re likely going to have to do everything—sales, customer service, accounting, all the way down to taking out the trash. Your goal is to get enough sales going so you can quit taking out the trash and hire someone else to do it. Get more sales going, then quit doing the accounting. Hire a specialist to do it. Get more sales going and quit doing customer service, too. You want to go from everything to nothing—except leading. You only get there by quitting everything as fast as you can.” He concluded by saying, “You want to turn labor into leadership. As the founder and CEO, you should not be doing anything. You should only be leading.”
You can’t be a great leader if you spend your time doing tasks that aren’t actually leadership.
The reason most people don’t make it to billionaire status is because they’re doing the opposite. They are taking on more and more tasks for which they are not the most skilled or best suited. When you are not a specialist at something, results are diminished. And when you’re doing more and more tasks, you’re simultaneously diminishing your ability to do what your real specialty needs to become: lead. You can’t lead if you’re designing brochures. You can’t lead if you’re doing accounting. You can’t lead if you’re managing production. You can’t be a great leader if you keep doing things that aren’t actually leadership. Get out of the way. Let others take the lead on those roles. You’re the head coach, not the player.
Be a quitter. Do your real job, and let your team do theirs.

Sometimes, there comes a point, even after all of the growing, after all of the caring, after all of the dreaming and delegating, when there is really nothing else that can be done except to let someone go. It’s part of the leader’s job, and employees across the world are getting fired every minute. But that doesn’t make it any easier on the leader who has to do it.

“We are a team, not a family. It is the coach’s job at every level to hire, develop, and cut smartly so we have stars in every position.” —Reed Hastings


Busyness, long hours, and hard word do not necessarily equal success.
I have found that most people who read a magazine like SUCCESS or would read a book like this (especially this far—bravo!) don’t need motivation. They don’t lack ambition, goals, or work ethic. They are putting in long hours, sacrificing nights and weekends, and consistently have their nose to the grindstone. Like me, they’ll use brute force and sacrifice whatever they have to… all the while lacking clarity and focus. They are unsure of what to focus on, so they attempt to focus on everything all the time. Thus they end up overworked, overscheduled, overwhelmed, and still underperforming… maybe even failing
I know you have big goals and an important mission to accomplish. To succeed, it is critical that you intensely focus your time, energy, and resources on those things that matter most—your vital factors—without being distracted and derailed by the things that matter least.
Every endeavor that you do has a few vital functions. All you have to do is figure out what they are and become excellent at them.
What’s the big secret of how to get it all done? Don’t. Just do the vital functions (amazingly well) and build a great team of capable players who are excellent at the rest.
I had quickly discovered there were thousands of things I could get caught up doing—things that felt productive, but were really just a convenient distraction from doing real work (a.k.a. prospecting and making sales).
I soon realized there were only a few things that I did that mattered. As the leader, when I did them, we got paid. I couldn’t delegate them. They were my vital functions in the business. They were:

  1. Pitching a listing,
  2. Negotiating a contract,
  3. And prospecting.

They were the only things I should spend my time on, so I built a team that did all those other things. When I started spending most of my time doing those vital few functions, the business took off like a rocket!
[After a whole day tracking his focused time] Can you guess what that (evil) stopwatch said? Not 14 hours, that’s for sure. 19:54 Less than 20 minutes out of a 16-hour day. If you had asked anyone in my office if I was productive all 16 hours, they’d have said, “Oh yeah, he’s a machine.” And I was indeed a constant flurry of activity. But activity is not productivity.
I challenge you to take on the stopwatch. Once you identify what your vital functions are, start tracking how much time you actually spend doing them. You will be shocked at how little time you’re spending on the most important things, the only things, you should be spending your time on. If you make it your mission to increase that number, you’ll change your business and your life.
Understanding your value
Kenneth Cole [said]: “Success has less to do with what we can get ourselves to do and more to do with keeping ourselves from doing what we shouldn’t.”
If the greatest threat to your productivity is keeping yourself from getting awash in low-value activities, how do you make sure you don’t mistake a low-value activity for a high one? Here’s how I do it:
First, you need to know what your time is worth. And I’m not talking in some warm and fuzzy Kumbaya terms. I’m talking cold, hard cash. What does your time need to be worth in order to accomplish the goals you’ve set for yourself?
What’s your income goal for the year? $100,000? $500,000? $1,000,000? Divide that number by 2,000. The number you get is the hourly rate you have to generate over a 40-hour week in the next year. Every hour that goes by that you don’t produce that amount, you’re falling behind. Got it?
If you’re falling short of your income goals, it’s because you waste time doing low-value work.
When you spend twenty minutes on social media, you are burning time. Burning $100 bills. Stop doing that. Now. All you have in life is time. Your job is to maximize it, particularly when it’s “ON” time.
You need to delegate everything anyone else can do at a lower rate to free up every minute possible for you to do your vital functions. You need to be constantly asking yourself, “Would I pay someone (the hourly rate you just determined above) to do what I’m doing now?” Ask yourself that when you are commenting on Facebook or organizing your files or driving across town to drop off papers or organizing the icons on your computer screen. If your answer is “no,” then stop doing it yourself. It’s costing you money. You can’t afford to do it. You have to delegate.
The one thing
“So I stepped back and I thought, what is the one thing I do that makes the biggest difference to the whole enterprise? And I figured out it was the 22 minutes on Sunday—that broadcast that then gets shot around the world. If it’s great, it propels everything else. So I stopped doing everything else and began to focus only on those 22 minutes.”
Wow. Wonder what that kind of focus looks like? Here’s Joel’s actual schedule. (Go ahead, copy it down and tape it to your bathroom mirror—this is good stuff!) Wednesday he spends the whole day thinking and researching and making notes about what he wants to talk about Sunday. Thursday he writes out his sermon word for word. Friday he spends the entire day just memorizing it. That’s all. Saturday he delivers the sermon twice to a private audience in his church. Sunday? Lights, camera, action, and BAM, he’s magic. It’s magic because he focused all his energy all week in making it so. Monday he takes off. R & R. Tuesday he does leadership. He goes in to the office, does his leadership oversight, and inspects what he expects. Those are also the days he does any media. I’ve interviewed him twice, and guess what day it was on? Yep. Tuesday. Osteen has taken the “three vital functions” a step further. He’s figured out his one vital function.
What’s yours? What’s your one thing that contributes the most to your enterprise? What is your greatest contribution to making your rocket ship fly?
Figure that out, and then plot, scheme, and strategize about how to spend more, if not all, your time doing that one thing. Do that, and life will change for you.
Choosing and narrowing your priorities mean everything on the entrepreneur roller coaster.
If you find yourself paralyzed at work, it means you have too many priorities. If you think you don’t have enough time, it means you don’t have priorities that are defined clearly enough. In fact, any time you feel overwhelmed, there’s a good chance that the culprit is a lack of clear priorities.
Let me make the clear distinction between a Vital Function and a Vital Priority. Vital Functions are your key contributions to the success of the organization or goal. Vital Priorities are the day-to-day or quarter-to-quarter areas of focus and tasks required to accomplish the goal.
How do the superachievers do it all? The secret is they DON’T. What’s your ONE priority?
The Buffett method of prioritization
Here is Warren Buffett’s three-step method for prioritization.

  1. Write down all your priorities.
  2. Narrow it down to the top three.
  3. Throw the rest of the list away.

There’s no minor project list. There’s no maybe we’ll get to this list. There’s no side project list. There are only three priorities, and everything else is thrown out so all mental, financial, and spiritual resources can be fully invested into those three, and only those three, priorities.
If you have more than three priorities, you don’t have any.
What’s the master skill of productivity? Learning to say No. Every time you say “yes” to something, you’re actually saying “no” to something else.
Measurement plays a key role on the entrepreneur roller coaster. First of all, it lets you know when you’re off track.
Second, measurement helps you correct your course. When the ride takes you off course—and you will be taken off course—you’ll need to know in which direction to head. Sometimes you’ll have to go off course on purpose to avoid an obstacle, and measurement will bring you back.
Last, when you hit a low point in the ride and things seem darkest, measurement proves to you that you’re making progress.
Massive Transformation Formula. It has three components:
If you have more than three goals, you don’t have any. I’m not talking just any three goals. These are the three goals that if you achieved them, would make this year, undeniably, the best year of your life.
You are only one or two key habits away from a massive transformation in any area of your life.
Decide what those BIG 3 goals are, and then tear a page out of the Buffett method and throw the rest of the list away.
Once you know where you’re headed, what do you need to do to get there?
The key is to identify the one or two key habits that are most important to the achievement of each of your BIG 3 goals.
Once you have those one, two, or three key habits critical to the achievement of each of your BIG 3, you have everything you need to be successful. Now you just need to do them, over and over again, without fail. That’s where number three comes in.
We need to bring awareness to our unconscious behaviors, and only tracking will make that happen. When it comes to tracking our BIG 3 goals, every night we need to borrow an idea from the restaurant business and “cash out.”
Cash out every day. It takes less than thirty seconds to review your BIG 3 and the half dozen key habits you planned to execute each day. Check off each one: Check! Check! Uh-oh, Check! Uh-oh! Uh-oh! Now you’ll know if you are on track or off track.
If you’re looking to improve, as all of us should, just reading a bunch of books about improvement isn’t enough. It takes time, persistence, and deliberate practice in a narrow range of activity to truly improve.
You don’t succeed just by learning. You have to study, then do. We need to learn less and do more.
It’s not what you learn or what you know; it’s what you do with what you know and learn.
There is a significant difference between learning and improving, and the difference is taking action and producing measureable results.
When it comes to improving yourself, you need to be as focused and deliberate as you have been throughout this entire chapter. Here is the basic framework for significant improvement that will last:
STEP 1: IDENTIFY. You have to narrow your areas of focused improvement. What’s the best way to do that? Focus on improving those skills that are the most vital to the achievement of your BIG 3 goals.
STEP 2: INVEST. Before you fund your 401K, before you invest in a startup, before you invest in that stock, invest in yourself.
Decide on a few critical things, do them more often, then get better at them.


Fear is a phenomenon that resides entirely within your own brain. It’s the mind that gives every interpretation meaning—it’s your mind that conjures the negative emotion.
This “pre-fear” is what happens before you pick up the phone, before you go on stage, and before you walk across the room to introduce yourself to a stranger. It’s the anticipation of fear kicking in—your ancient mind’s illusion. Once you are engaged in the activity, your brain realizes you are not toe-to-toe with a predator, this is not the primitive mortal threat you feared it would be, and it turns off the fear response. Just remember: The fear itself hurts more than the thing you’re scared of.
Courage is overrated. Or, at least overestimated. You don’t need to be brave all day, every day to be successful. In fact, you barely have to be courageous at all. According to my calculations, you can be a coward 99.9305556 percent of the time. That’s your whole day, except for just 20 seconds, three times a day. Why 20 seconds? Because in just 20 seconds, you can… … pick up the phone to call that “Big Kahuna” prospect. … introduce yourself to your dream client at a networking meeting. … walk up to a circle of strangers and say “Hi.” … volunteer to come up on stage. … ask him or her out on a date. … begin your pitch presentation. … take a plunge into icy cold water. … start a tough conversation with a loved one or employee. … say “no” even though it will make you unpopular. … even jump out of a plane! So. What should we do when we hit the inevitable wall of fear? Do this: Shut off your brain. Close your eyes, hold your breath (if you need to), and do what every signal of your brain is insisting you don’t do—RUN RIGHT AT IT!
Those 20 seconds of courage are enough time to get engaged in the activity and for your brain to realize it won’t get eaten.
Think of everything you could accomplish if you forced 20 seconds of bravery on your primitive mind just three times a day? Imagine how doing so would multiply your success, lifestyle, and prominence in the marketplace. Think of the breakthroughs you could create. And! You could still be a coward 99.9305556 percent of the time—just a really rich and successful one!
Do the thing you fear over and over again, until you train your brain that it’s no longer something to be feared. Not only will the fear lose all power over you, but that fear can become the very thing that separates your success from everyone else’s mediocrity.
The key to success is massive failure. Your goal is to out-fail your competition.
The most successful person in the room is also the one who has failed the most. Go fail!
It’s an easy trap to fall into—believe me, I know. It’s easy to fall under the spell of someone else’s dreams or be seduced by the scorekeeping of other peoples goals. Don’t. “Follow your own path not the Joneses’. Listen to your own gut, your own heart, not the ambitions of others. Don’t let fear, envy, or social pressure cloud your vision.”
Don’t miss the point. Spend your day pursuing the things you want said in your eulogy.
IS BIGGER BETTER? Before pursuing more for more’s sake, pause and ask yourself an important question: Will being bigger make things better?
How do you figure out “the point” so you don’t miss it? How do you make sure your ambition doesn’t overtake your life, thus leaving you without one? The answer? Start with the end and work backward.
What will the world be like if you listen to the people around you, if you don’t have the courage to ignore the naysayers, to believe in yourself, and to step into the car of the entrepreneur roller coaster? No Regrets
One man in his late eighties was asked: “If you could come back and live the life of anyone, who would you want to come back as?” His answer: “I would want to come back as the man I could have been, but never was.”
Approach your goals like this, ‘This is my mountain, and I’m going all the way to the top! You are either going to see me waving from the summit or lying dead on the side. I am not coming back!’
Keep your resolve. Don’t give up. Many entrepreneurs fail not because of their idea, their skill, or the market, but because they give up just when the summit is within reach.