9 routines of successful people

If you are like me, you have probably wondered many times what exactly is that makes successful people…successful, what sort of principles they apply or what secrets they know that help them be the kind of people we admire; or maybe you have simply asked yourself what you can do to develop a richer life, one that would ultimately include your goals and dreams made real. And if you do take some time for research, which I did, you will actually learn that there are indeed some simple routines all those who have made it to the top have implemented into their lives. It’s all about having a game plan and sticking to it because once your understanding of habits and routines goes past automation and obligations, you will tap into a new type of power and freedom able to fuel your motivation and willpower in a spectacular way.

Whatever perspective you set for yourself you may want to integrate some of the routines we are presenting here in its development because we guarantee you that your life will be changed to the better once some of these habits become part of it:

1. Set/review your goals

Goals are divided into short, medium and long. Each of these types, however, when poorly managed or planned is going to affect the others. It is therefore highly recommended that you start your day by reviewing or rewriting your goals so that you reinforce daily both the motivation and the awareness they need in order to grow. Making decision will become much easier and results will start matching your desires sooner.

2.Exercise daily

It goes without saying that working-out has tremendous health benefits. Successful people, however, are also aware of and want to take full advantage of the benefits physical exercises bring in terms of stress level reduction and brain function optimization.

3. Set what matters for you most as top priority

So often we neglect exactly those things we love doing and we dream about; if, for example, dancing is what makes you happy then probably dancing should sit at the top of your daily to-dos because otherwise you will never allow it to become as important to your life as you need it to be. You could incorporate it as part of your morning work-out routine.

4. Develop some principles and stick to them

Developing principles based on your determination to lead a happy, fulfilled life which implies helping and serving others as well, is an extremely powerful and often overlooked tool on your path to manifesting your dreams. They will become deeply connected to your sense of identity and purpose.

5. Work passionately

Most of us don’t respond well to working hard or harder rule, that’s why replacing the notion of “hard” with that of “passion” may be one of the first things we can do to make sure we are putting in the necessary work our success requires. When you employ passion, you employ time and dedication and success is always their fruit.

6. Respect your commitments. Daily

Remember that we are talking about habits and routines so the fact that you kind of apply them or that you apply them periodically does not count as a strategy or as devotement to your goals. Only by pushing yourself every single day to keep yourself motivated and “in the game” counts as staying productive and focused.

7. Get proper sleep

One of the most important aspects when striving for productivity is maintaining mental and physical freshness. That means we should always pay attention to the balance between the energy spent and the energy recovered so we don’t find ourselves speeding up on the highway with an empty tank.

8. Unwind and have fun

Remaining permanently attached to your work and connected to a blatantly buzzing world can take its toll on you drastically. Successful people not only know how to work but they have a pretty good idea on how to relax too. Reserving one day a week for mental and spiritual cleansing where your computer, mobile phone and other such devices become irrelevant is beyond recommendable. Believe me, you will thank yourself for this once you restart work.

9. Cultivate solid relationships

Whether it is our business or our life altogether that we set out to improve, we need to understand how relevant are our relationships to building our way to success. Genuine contact with people can be a huge ramp for your career or business. The first principle you will learn is reciprocity. When trying to reach your goals, you’ll have to pay attention to others’ needs and be ready to help them and you will see how your relationships will be redefined as a turbo engine under your willpower hood.

Order now the Book -> 9 Routines of Successful People: A Guidebook for Personal Change by Jonas Stark

9 Routines of Successful PeopleIn this book, Jonas Stark lays out some of the routines and principles that successful people tend to follow. Sometimes, even people who are successful aren’t able to outline exactly how they got there, but with a sharp and insightful analytical eye, Stark outlines those specifics with aplomb. As it turns out, implementing the routines of success – the things that make success a habit, not a rarity – is not as difficult as you may think.


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9 things you should do in the morning

What is it that successful people do that distinguishes them from the crowd? The differences start early in the morning, as it turns out. Here are some of the things that successful people do every morning:

Get up early.

Ugh – who wants to get up earlier than absolutely necessary? Whether or not they want to, many successful people do get up early to get a head start on the day. If you feel like you’ve already been productive by the time you get to work, you’ll feel like you’ve started the day off on the right foot and you’ll be more likely to let that productivity carry over into work. One poll found that 90 percent of executives said that they wake up before 6 a.m. on weekdays – so if you start getting up early you’ll find that you’re in good company.


Exercising actually helps amp up your energy, so starting off the day with an exercise routine can help you be more energetic throughout the day. Exercise is also something that is shown to generally help your mood, so for that reason it is great to do any time of day. When you are already into the routine of a busy day, though, it can be hard to stop and make time to exercise – so getting it done early in the morning may be the best way to make sure that you actually have time to do it.

Planning your day.

Task lists are a critical part of productivity and planning, so creating or reviewing your task list first thing in the morning is a great way to make sure that you maximize productivity throughout the day by starting off with a concrete plan. Of course, the day will probably throw some curve balls into your schedule, but having a goal and sticking to it as much as possible will help you be much more productive than if you begin the day with just a vague idea of what you plan to do.

Eat breakfast.

Study after study have shown the value of eating breakfast. Kickstarting your metabolism early in the day is good for weight loss, but eating breakfast also helps you focus better throughout the morning. Whether it’s a simple bowl or cereal or an omelet, breakfast is a great way to start your day off on the right foot.

Respond to email.

First thing in the morning is a great time to respond to all those non-urgent emails that are piling up. It can be easy to ignore emails that don’t have high priority content, but if you let them pile up it can be hard to motivate yourself to sort through them all. Like with exercising, responding to non-priority emails is something that it gets harder to make time for as the day goes on. Instead, just set aside some time first thing in the morning to respond to all your unanswered emails and maybe you can even start the day with an empty inbox!

Work on personal projects.

Maybe you’re trying to write the Great American Novel or maybe you have an art passion that you’re trying to make time to pursue. Whatever it is, your personal passion project is a great thing to start the day with. It’s one of those things that it can be hard to take the time and concentration to work on once the day gets hectic. First thing in the morning, though, before distractions start to pile up, is the perfect time to concentrate on doing the things you really want to do.

Spend time with family.

Sometimes crazy work and school schedules can make it difficult to spend the time you want to spend with your family. If you get up early, though, you can make breakfast your family meal. You’ll be killing two birds with one stone – getting a good breakfast in and having some quality family time.


Once the day gets going, it’s hard to find time to stop and slow down. Meditating in the morning gives you the opportunity to start the day with a clear mind. It doesn’t have to be a long meditation session; some people find that 5, 10, or 20 minutes is more than enough. It’s a great way to get yourself centered and mentally prepared for the day ahead.

Read the news.

Nobody likes to be the person who’s out of the loop, but catching up on national and world news is a great thing for the early morning hours. This is an early morning activity that you can actually combine with other activities on this list – like eating breakfast or working out. It’s a great way to make sure that you start the day feeling productive and informed.

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Skip the college and get rich – lessons from Bill Gates

(this is a series of blogs. Find more blogs here -> Skip the College & Get Rich)

This young boy is an apprentice carpenter. He begins his education at an early age. Every day he goes to his journeyman who educates him. He learns first how to use his tools, discovering which tools are better for each task. As each day goes on, his hands become surer and his knowledge more full. Once he understands the tools, he begins doing simple tasks, such as hammering nails, measuring and cutting lumber. His enthusiasm pulls him in new directions. With each new tool and technique, the wood reveals more of its secrets to him. His studies continue and he finetunes his skills, but he discovers as he ages that the real lessons are learned on his own. He spends less time with his instructor and the other Journeymen or apprentices. He goes to the woods, finds the right wood and cuts down his own trees. He experiments with his tools creating tables and chairs of his own design. Eventually, he goes out into the town and finds work for himself. He sells his tables and chairs and gains commission for new items. Eventually he no longer even returns to his instructors. He simply works, and his woodworking is praised for its innovative design and construction.

Sometimes you discover that everything you need to know can’t be taught in a formal setting.

Everyone knows Bill Gates, and everyone knows he never finished his college studies at Harvard. He’s also currently the richest person in the world for the first time since 2007, though he has consistently been in the top three for the last twenty years.

So how do we move from college dropout to wealthiest person in the world? Let’s start back a few decades.

His parents promoted the ideas of hard work and inventiveness, which instilled a very strong entrepreneurial nature into Gates as a child. When he was thirteen, he bought his first computer, which began a lifetime interest in programming. Because of this interest, he was allowed to miss math class to pursue programming, and he developed his first successful program at this time. He fell in love with machines and how they always gave a perfect result if you programmed it properly. Once, he and a few other students were even banned from Computer Center Corporation for exploiting bugs in their system in order to gain more free access to the computers. Eventually, CCC gave them free time in exchange for their work on finding the bugs in the programming. Eventually he was given a job writing code, and was even hired by his high school.

He scored a near perfect score on the SATs and attended Harvard after finishing high school. At Harvard, he met his future successor at Microsoft. While only a sophomore in college, he developed an algorithm to complete an unsolved problem. His record for speed of solution lasted for thirty years, with the new record being only 1% faster.

While at Harvard, Gates didn’t follow a set pattern or take classes in a specific direction. He spent much of his time working on computers and developing the skills he would need at Microsoft. Seeing the possibility to start his own software company, he dropped out of Harvard and threw himself into his endeavors.

He contacted Micro-Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems to tell them he was working on an interpreter for their Altair platform. In reality, he had done no such thing, but this got him a meeting with the President of the company. Over the following weeks he and his colleagues worked to complete this program, finishing on time and beginning a partnership with MITS that became Microsoft. After just a few months, he separated from MITS, creating software for a variety of companies, and personally overseeing every line of code the company produced, often rewriting it, while managing the business.

In 1980, he was approached by IBM to create the operating system for their new personal computer. Windows came into the world in 1985, which would go on to become the world’s largest computer software company.

As CEO and chief software architect, he launched the personal computer revolution which turned him into the incredibly wealthy man he is today. Since leaving Microsoft, he’s devoted much of his time, energy, and money to philanthropic efforts.

But the questions remains: how did a college dropout rise so high? How did he go from the kid in the library messing with computers to the man who changed the world through computers? And how did dropping out of college make this possible?

While there’s no way to say that Bill Gates would have been more or less successful had he finished his education at Harvard, it’s hard to argue with the results. Like many people, formal education just wasn’t the key to his success. There are certain things that are undeniably true about what happened when he dropped out of college.

If you take your classes and do your homework, you’re devoting a lot of time and mental energy into those studies. In addition, there’s the financial cost of continuing education. Without the time and cost of formal education, Gates was able to fully throw himself into his entrepreneurial pursuits. It’s clear that Gates was a very intelligent but unfocused student. Early in his education, he was already stealing time to work on computers rather than spend them in class or doing homework. This escalated as time went on, and it appears clear that he went to college more as an expectation than a necessity. During his two college years, he continued to devote a lot of time computers, writing code, and developing software.

The moment he saw an opportunity to go out on his own, he didn’t hesitate. He jumped immediately into his passion: computers. With the freedom to work on the projects he was passionate about, he was able to begin writing programs for the Altair, which is what launched his career. After some immediate successes, he was able to catapult his company into an enormous worldwide software company.

Let’s break down the way Bill Gates made himself a success:

Acting strategically – Rather than just innovating and innovating and innovating, Gates viewed software as a potential source of business opportunities before anyone else.

The right partners – He wasn’t afraid to sit behind bigger companies and learn from them. He positioned himself underneath MITS, Digital Research, and IBM and used them to launch him into the huge success he became.

Discipline and tenacity – He helped his partners succeed and did whatever he could to help them achieve their goals, which, of course, furthered him as well. Even when working for companies like IBM was said to be very difficult, he stuck with it and gained success, though he had to give up his own meticulousness and perfectionism.

Gates further acknowledges the limitations of education, though he’s become a very devoted funder of education reform and improving the American school system. Throughout his career he’s discussed things you don’t learn in school, but that you’ll need to know in order to succeed.

Life’s not fair – In school everyone has more or less the same chances at success, but once you leave school, it’s all about gaining a competitive advantage. Your employers care about results, not fairness.

You need to accomplish something before you gain self-esteem – This is almost the opposite of what education in the US focuses on. In the real world, you need to prove that you’re worthy. No one cares about your problems unless you first add value to them.

Your boss is tougher on you than your teacher – The difference between an employer and a teacher is that your teacher is there to make you better. Your boss is there to demand results from you. If you can’t give results, you don’t just get an F, you get fired.

No job is beneath you – It doesn’t matter how much education you have, you’re not better than a job. Millions of people flip burgers for a living in order to improve their life step by step. Just because you went to college or grad school doesn’t mean you’re too good to work hourly jobs.

Mistakes are no one else’s fault – Don’t blame others for your mistakes: learn from them. Every mistake is an opportunity to learn and grow. Blaming others gets you nowhere, and it’ll probably just make people resent you.

School isn’t about winning and losing, but life can be – It’s unkind for teachers to rate students by winners and losers, but your employers will. They want winners, whether that’s kind or fair or not. The world is about results, and it doesn’t matter how you feel about that.

Life is not divided into terms – If you mess up one business quarter, you don’t start over at the next one. Everything carries over and there are no do-overs.

For Bill Gates, college was an unnecessary aspect of his personal journey. He didn’t need instructors or formal education to make his dreams a reality. He was pushing past what he would have learned in his classes and developed his own abilities independent of what he could have discovered from instruction. He was a man determined to succeed regardless of who told him he was qualified or not. No diploma or certification would have made Bill Gates a better entrepreneur or more successful titan of software.

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7 ways to make money online

The internet is a vast place – but in that place are tons of ways to make money. Not get-rich-quick schemes, but just reasonable ways to earn some money, either on the side or as a full income. Here are some online earning options that many people use to put some extra cash in their pockets:

1. Fiverr.

Fiverr is a website that allows people to sell just about any service they can think of for five bucks. Sellers create gigs with images and descriptions and buyers can search for gigs in their field of interest. Gigs include things like installing WordPress plugins, doing a voiceover, editing a document, and analyzing a site’s SEO. There are also much more bizarre gigs, like people who carve bananas, make prank videophone calls, or record videos of themselves singing while dressed up in strange costumes. No matter what your skills – or lack thereof – if you can think of the gig, somebody will probably buy it. Some people make a living from Fiverr, but for most it’s just a great way to pick up a few dollars on the side every month.

2. AdSense.

If you run a blog or website, you can sign up for AdSense. Google’s AdSense pays websites that sign up to have AdSense ads appear on the site. There are some caveats with AdSense, though. You have to follow Google’s content rules very closely. That means your content cannot contain copyright-protected material. You cannot have racist, violent, or pornographic content. You can’t advocate any illegal activities. You can’t artificially drive users to click on the ads (like by promising to pay them if they click). They aren’t incredibly hard rules to follow, but it is very important to follow them, or Google will ban you from AdSense. Also, if you are using the free version of WordPress, you can’t use AdSense (although WordPress has its own WordAds that you can sign up for). Finally, you should be aware that you generally need to be getting at least a few hundred unique hits per day in order for AdSense to be work well for you.

3. Affiliate marketing.

Amazon and ClickBank are some of the biggest affiliate marketing operations out there. With affiliate marketing, you sign up to market products on your website and then you get paid every time that somebody purchases the product through your site. While Amazon and ClickBank allow you to choose from a large array of products, there are also many companies that have affiliate marketing opportunities that allow you to sell just their products.

4. Sell stock photos.

You don’t have to be a shutterbug to sell stock photos to places like ShutterStock and Fotolia. You just have to be decent at taking pictures and develop a sense for what types of pictures sell. Some stock photos sites have critique forums so you can learn more about what sells and what doesn’t.

5. EBay.

If you do it right you can make a lot of money on EBay. After you sell the old things you don’t want anymore, you can start offering to sell other people’s things for a commission – you’d be surprised at how many people don’t want the hassle of selling it themselves. Remember when you’re selling on EBay that it is very important to keep a good seller rating, so always describe your items accurately, communicate politely, and put it in the mail promptly. If you don’t like EBay, there are other options, like Amazon and Craiglist.

6. Amazon Mechanical Turk.

Amazon Mechanical Turk lists thousands of tasks online and many of them only take a few seconds apiece. Of course, if the task only takes 30 seconds to complete, you’re only going to get paid a few cents for it. There are thousands of listings, though, so you can keep doing those short tasks, one after another, and your hourly rate might come out pretty decent. Of course, that requires being able to put up with a lot of monotony. There are also longer gigs on Amazon Mechanical Turk, such as hour-long transcription tasks. If you find that you like doing small assignments, there are other similar sites such as microworkers.com.

7. Write articles.

There are tons of sites where you can sell your writing. Some sites – like Elance – have buyers post jobs for which writers submit bids. Other sites, like constant-content.com, allow writers to submit articles and then buyers look through the available options and decide. Still other sites – like WritersAccess – post jobs for a set fee and allow any qualified writer to pick up any job. There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these scenarios. With Elance, the bidding process can be difficult because there are so many applicants for decent jobs. Once you find a good client, though, Elance can be very fruitful. Constant-content pays quite well, but you have no guarantee that the article will sell once you list it. WritersAccess is mostly small $5 and $10 jobs, but there is no onerous bidding process and each assignment can be completed pretty quickly.

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7 tips for quitting your day job and starting own business

Quitting your day job to embark on another career or start your own business is a huge and frightening step. If you do it, though, you want to make sure you do it right. Here are seven great tips for quitting your day job & starting own business and making a successful transition:

1. Have a plan.

Don’t just quit. Whenever people tell stories of their successful transitions into other careers, they tend to leave out all the planning that went into that transition. You don’t just up and quit your day job and immediately start a successful new career. You need to have a very specific plan of action in mind, you need to do everything possible in preparation, and if possible you should start on some of the basics for your new career before completely quitting your old. In some cases, there may be a legal conflict if you’re going from one endeavor to something else in the same field and generally it won’t be possible to make a full-time commitment to a new career while still working your regular job. However, there are certain things you can do to prepare yourself.

2. Save some money.

You probably won’t start seeing significant profits right away, so you need to be able to pay your bills in the meantime. Remember, once you’re self-employed, you’ll have to pay for your own insurance, too. Of course, many times it just isn’t possible to save up money in advance – and often the fact that you can’t do that may be part of the reason you’re looking for a switch. In that case, though, you may want to think about finding a part-time job to help tide you over until your new business starts seeing appreciable profits.

3. Get educated.

While you’re still planning and saving up money and preparing to quit your regular job, you can work on getting yourself educated about your new field of work. You might find a relevant class at a local community college or, if there are certifications that might help achieve legitimacy in your new field, you might want to look into getting the training necessary for those. You might find online classes that will help or you may just want to read books that relate to the industry. In any case, having a solid base of knowledge in your field is important and it is one thing that you can definitely develop before leaving your current job.

4. Do your research.

You need to be sure that you know what has worked and what hasn’t worked in your new field. You need to know how much each marketing venue will cost and how much each license or certificate you need will cost. You need to have your website ready to launch and, if you want to accept online payments, consider whether you need to have a merchant account set up that will accept credit cards. Have all these things researched and ready to go so that you know exactly what your costs and expected timeline will be before you quit your current job. You don’t want to quit your current job and then find out that you haven’t planned sufficiently for the expenses of your new career.

5. Make a schedule.

Once you are your own boss, it is important that you stick to a schedule. Even if you’re running an online business and don’t need to show up at a certain place at a certain time to deal with your customers, you should still adhere to a schedule. Scheduling is important so that you get a sense of how much time you are putting in to your work and what kind of profits you are realizing from that time investment.

6. Understand that it won’t be easy.

Although there are many advantages to having your own business such as the ability to set your own schedule, being your own boss, and doing something you love, running your own business is difficult. It requires a lot of planning, you won’t see success immediately, you’ll have to deal with a lot of overhead expenses, and you won’t necessarily have a stable income. You just need to be aware of these things before quitting your day job.

7. Don’t burn bridges.

When you’re quitting a job you didn’t particularly like, it can be very tempting to go out with a bang – curse out your incompetent boss or flip off upper management on the way out the door. Even if you’re going into a different field of work and are pretty sure you’re never going to see anyone from your old job again, you never know. So be prudent. There was a time when it was possible that you might not ever cross paths with someone from an old job, especially if you moved far away. Now, though, in the age of the internet bad behavior could haunt you for a long time to come.

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7 problem solving strategies

Right from the start there’s one thing you can be sure of – all the successful people you will ever meet are highly resourceful when it comes to problem solving and they definitely have a thing or two you can learn from them. The more you get comfortable dealing with problems the more guaranteed your success is. Naturally, different problems and challenges can create different degrees of anxiety but can also boost confidence at a smaller or larger scale. How well equipped are you to face daily challenges and how well prepared not to avoid those challenges that will lead to your greatest accomplishments? Follow along and let the answer emerge as we take a look at some of the steps you may want to consider if you are looking to get those problem-solving skills upgraded.

1. Make the solution the center of your focus instead the problem

How hard have you tried this so far? Have you really invested your energy and concentration on solutions, rather than on problems to notice the different results you can get with both these methods? Being solution focused has become a very spread objective among people who are looking for ways to improve their problem-solving skills because when problems occur, most people waste an incredible amount of time thinking, talking, and studying the problems, while the negative effects of the problems continue their merciless raid on their lives.

However, for some time now there’s been a change in the way many professionals think about dealing with problems due to an alternative approach becoming more popular; this approach recommends dedicating time and talking to potential solutions rather than concentrating on what is not going right. It’s obvious that if you want to employ this “method” to your own problem solving needs, you need to change your old ways of looking at a problem. Drop the long-standing patterns of thinking. Wrap your mind around a radical shift in thinking.

Even scientific studies of the nervous system have pointed out that as long as your focus is on the problem, you are actually fighting the possibility to find the right solution because you are virtually making “requests” for more negativity to come your way in the shape of thoughts and emotions which will inhibit your brain’s creativity. This creativity is absolutely necessary in finding solutions. Start cherish it.

2. Pursue the right question rather than the right answer

This principle has thousands of years of wisdom behind it. It has been widely adopted in ancient oriental philosophy and way of thinking. Make a firm decision to give up close-minded, vague questions that are not likely to get the wanted results for you. Just as with objectives, you must be very clear and specific in formulating the questions related to your problems. Questions such as: “Why can’t I have a normal life?” or “When will everybody just give me a break?” have no practical potential to solving your current problems. Getting used to asking many different questions means getting used to coming up with many different answers and, yes, many times multiplying the questions multiplies your chances of reaching a desirable solution. Just be careful not to shoot from the same position all the time, which is to say, try more than one perspective when asking yourself these questions. However, keep in mind that many questions doesn’t mean many complicated questions (an aspect which connects to our next step). Aim for simple ones. A pen and a piece a paper may be your most valuable tools at this point. Write them down. Let’s have a look at some examples of the “right” kind of questions:

How do I define my problem?

How important is this to my life and to my current situation?

What information I have related to it?

Can I get more information on it? How?

What consequences will it have if not addressed immediately?

Does it have any upside?

Is there anyone I can ask for help?

When will this cease to be a problem?

I know these questions look very simple but don’t underestimate their power of clarifying those things for you that need to be clarified if you want to make problem-solving less burdening.

3. Make everything simpler

You may have noticed a sort of inclination towards complicating things and indulging ourselves in having a busy problem graphic. I know I have. One way of removing the “extras” is to generalize the problem. Simply strip it of all irrelevant details and go fundamental on it! It’s like finding the root key in a musical sample that you want to mix. Simplicity is greatness. Steve Jobs has once said about it: “That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

4. Find out what prevents you from being an effective problem solver

When talking about not being able to effectively solve the problems in our life we are really talking about the barriers that appear every time we make a decision and which “make sure” we are not going to make the most advantageous one. It is possible that we are not even aware of them or that we choose to ignore them. But at what cost? Try to identify among the barriers listed below those that apply in your case and make you less of a problem solver:

Self-doubt: self-doubt may have a powerful discouraging effect; it can block you so you don’t want to take any risks or accept new challenges in your life. You could be feeding this type of constant uncertainty by re-engaging emotionally in bad past experiences and lacking a “proof” of your own qualities.

Resistance to change: a very important aspect here is examining the true nature of resistance. Many times what people really resist to is social change. They fear the change in their human relationships that a change in their approach to life’s problem can bring along. Reluctance is something quite common to be met with every time you present people with a way of doing things that invalidates the one they had been using.

Lack of discernment: this is directly connected to our view on things. This view is, in its turn, directly connected to our previous experiences. The right solution could be staring at us and we could be totally blind to it because our own belief system and past experiences are making us so. That’s why is nearly a “duty” to allow yourself to question your belief system.

Habits: any chance to achieve something can be helped or hindered by our habits. Bad habits can “thrive” within our system of thought and, in return, feed a defective system of thought that will keep our problem-solving abilities at a minimum level. You may have difficulties finishing those books you wanted to read so badly because you are not really aware that you always try to read at night in poor light after having a much too heavy meal.

5. Keep an open mind

…. Because “The world is full of people who have never, since childhood, met an open doorway with an open mind.” (E. B. White)

Keeping an open mind can be a wonderful tool in becoming an effective problem solver. This doesn’t mean you must force yourself into believing or accepting everything. Instead, it implies your full attention – you should listen, observe, and try to understand every situation you encounter. When you face a complex problem, at first, don’t reject any possibilities that come to your mind. It’s again about creativity and not putting obstacles in front of it. It is crucial that you don’t treat your thinking as “ridiculous”, to allow some space in which a right solution can settle. Sometimes, going that extra, apparently crazy or stupid mile, can hand over the solution on a silver plate.

6. Use lateral thinking

The term “lateral thinking” was invented back in 1967 by Edward De Bono and appeared for the first time in a book called “The Use of Lateral Thinking”. It basically means the ability to use your imagination to tackle a problem in a different way and come up with a solution that is not necessarily in the range of common thinking. Lateral thinking will bring innovation and sparkle up your game. This implies neither finding a solution to an upfront logical problem nor being madly imaginative in your daydreaming program without bringing any concrete manifestation in reality.

7. Use a plan of action

It doesn’t have to be your best. The point here is to get used to applying some principles in order to improve your problem-solving approach. And using a plan of action every time you are confronted with a complex problem is definitely one of them. It involves being determined and assuming responsibility for some steps you decide are important in finding a solution. Allow yourself to make mistakes. You will get better with every new plan you conceive. Allow yourself to learn from these mistakes. You will see the benefits of designating precise tasks and deciding on deadlines. Getting from what to do to this is how I’ll do it is a tremendously valuable process – it involves narrowing down the possible ways in which you can put your ideas in motion and see the outcome of your creative thinking.

Remember that all these principles are meant to help you sharpen your problem solving skills. It’s like using a tool to build a bigger tool that you can build your reality with. You can go beyond them, add some more or even come up with your own strategy to implement them.

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Skip the College and Get Rich – Lessons from Henry Fok

When the boy was born all he had was the dirt beneath him, clinging to his young body. Quickly he gained cloth and family, and even love. As he grew up he came to know very few comforts and even fewer possessions. Everything he saw would never belong to him, but he scraped by, collecting bits to stay alive. He knew the pain of hunger, the crush of poverty, and he saw how others who looked like him had so many things he never even dreamt of. The older the boy got, the more he accepted that comfort and items and opulence were not for him. He didn’t lust after what others had or envy them for their wealth. Though many would consider the people around him poor, the boy thought them unimaginably rich, to eat nice meals every day, to have enough clothes and warmth. His was a poverty so deep it stretched miles beneath the surface. And then he lost his parents and the war forced him out of education, which is how his parents promised he would rise to the level of his neighbors. With nothing but the dirt he was born to, he began to work the dirt. He added water and made it clay, and with the clay he made pots that he sold to the other poverty stricken communities. In this way he was able to survive, and there was always demand for more of his work because there was always need for cooking tools. As the work became too much for him, he taught his friends to make pots and plates and vases with him. Banding together, they created tools to help with the process, to make it more efficient. Eventually, he was selling so much that he stepped past the poor surrounding him. Even the middle class and wealthy came to him for his rustic wares, and he invested the money to improve his product even more. When asked why he made this his life’s work, he said, “I knew dirt, and it was all I had.”

Henry Fok was a man like this. He came from abysmal poverty and rose to be one of the wealthiest men in China before dying at the age of 83. Born on a small fishing boat in Hong Kong 1923 with nothing to his name, he died with a wealth estimated in the billions. Fok never received an education nearing the level of many of the people we’ve talked about so far. He wasn’t a prodigy or show early signs of great promise. Rather, he was a very normal boy born to great poverty at a time when China was going through dramatic changes, and these changes would continue throughout Fok’s life. His formal education ended when he was a junior in high school because the Japanese invaded Hong Kong in 1941. By this time, his father had died, and he never returned to school. For him, work was not a choice, but the only means of survival. He took the small family boat business and a variety of jobs in order to keep himself fed and ensure he could keep working.

Though he was young, he knew boats and his hard work began to pay off. As mainland China shifted through the tumultuous years under Mao’s communist rule, Fok worked tirelessly through WWII and the Korean War to amass a small fortune. It’s reported that much of this initial fortune came by smuggling arms into mainland China during the Korean War, going undetected by the UN arms embargo.

For the rest of his life he denied the weapon trafficking rumors, but admitted to smuggling iron plates, pipes, gasoline, car tires, and many other items. Though Fok didn’t know much, he knew boating, and he used his skill and expertise to turn his small boating company into what would become a major company. He personally oversaw his fleet of boats as they carried medicine and arms to the mainland.

Perhaps more important than proving his ability as a trading company and rising to the top of Hong Kong’s economy, he aligned himself closely to the Beijing government, which would prove to be advantageous for the rest of his life.

After the Korean War, he established a construction and real estate company, which pioneered the practice of selling apartments before they were even built. This coincided with the housing boom, which led to his wealth to continue to grow by leaps and bounds. In the 1960s, he teamed up with Stanley Ho, a casino owner, and was granted a government gambling monopoly, which would add greatly to his wealth for the following decades.

As the mainland began to open to the world, Fok was ready. In 1980, he was made a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which put him at the same table as many of the highest ranking people in China. With his connection to the Beijing government, he began constructing high end resorts, including the country’s first 5-Star hotel, the White Swan. He added luxury and opulence to a nation that had long suffered a deep poverty. While continually growing as a business man, he deepened his political involvements. Despite being closely affiliated with the Beijing government, he was among the first to condemn the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989. Though this sort of disagreement typically ends a Chinese political career, Fok was made the vice president of the CPPCC National Committee in 1993.

Though he became politically involved, he never left the private sector, and continued to invest in industry. He invested millions into new technologies and continued to push for the improvement of China, both within borders and across the globe. He founded the Fok Ying Tung Foundation in 1984, which has become one of the largest Hong Kong philanthropic organizations, pledging hundreds of millions into the project.

So how did a man without even a high school education become one of the most powerful and wealthiest men in China? How did a poor fisherman without family rise so high?

As with everyone, the answer is never simple, or only one thing over another. Rather, it’s a combination of thousands of choices and characteristics. He lived through a transformative time in China. Born just after the last emperor of China was overthrown, he saw Japanese occupation and the communist revolution, and then the Cultural Revolution, the Korean War, the death of Mao, and the Tiananmen Square massacre. There’s a Chinese proverb that says, “May you live in interesting times.” If any generation of people did, it was Fok’s, and Fok was able to use all this instability to his advantage.

Fundamental to his success, though, was that he knew his foundational business. Though he was young and uneducated, he knew how to make his family’s boating business work. Though he relied on illicit means to grow his initial wealth, even that never would have been possible had he not known the ins and outs of his business. He was an expert, and no amount of education would have made him a better boatman. In fact, an education may have caused him to look well past such a lowly position. Fok, however, didn’t have time or money to wonder whether a job was right for him, whether it was beneath his dignity or not.

He needed to survive, and it’s certainly that drive that pushed him to success, and also pushed him towards illegal means. A true nationalist, it’s easy for Westerners to look at him as a criminal, especially since he supported and then became a member of the Chinese Communist Party, but he was fighting for his country and his people in the only way he knew how.

Henry Fok didn’t need to go to college in order to become a success. He didn’t even need to finish high school. He gained his wealth through experience, and education rarely prepares you for the necessities demanded in any industry, let alone a manual labor one. But he never stopped learning and growing his business. He discovered how to turns his boating enterprise into multiple ventures, including construction and real estate, which is where the bulk of his wealth came from, which happen to be industries college rarely prepares you for.

Fok knew how to work with his hands and he knew what people needed. He was able to understand and navigate both the political and socioeconomic climates of China, which allowed him to take advantage of the many twists and turns of 20th Century China.

If ever there was a self-made entrepreneur, it’s Henry Fok.


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