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“The Success I’m Having Now Is What I Planned for Three Years Ago”

The other day I met with a small business owner. Her business is going well, she recently had a successful product launch that brought in a lot of funds and new customers. Awesome!

But what interested me the most is what she said about it: “The success that I’m having now is what I planned for three years ago.”

Three years ago, she set out to build the kind of business she has now. She settled on an area of focus and said no to other opportunities. Then, she took the actions she’d determined were most likely to lead to successes like her recent launch.

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To Succeed in the New, New Economy, Don’t Mail It In

Ever since I wrote about The New, New Economy, I’ve been having lots of interesting conversations with people about it. Readers have also asked that I share more specific recommendations for “what works” now that a lot of online marketing strategies feel increasingly outdated.

I still stand by the general assertion that building relationships and producing quality work are the most important predictors of success, far more than any tactic or “hack.”

As a good way to illustrate this, last week I recorded a podcast for The Art of Charm, founded and hosted by Jordan Harbinger. I’ve known of Jordan for a while and we’ve emailed a bit, but I don’t think we’d ever spoken before. The hour-long conversation covered a lot of ground, and I was especially struck by something he said in the beginning.

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What to Do Now to Succeed in the Future

Link: Online Business Training That Works (Ends Wednesday)

A couple weeks ago I let you know about a popular online business course that's returning to the market. Well, it’s back! And actually, it goes away later this week. (I was a bit behind in following along with the video series—I just caught up and it looks really good.)

There’s still time to join, and if you’re looking for specific training that will help you in the new, new economy—along with a community to support you for years to come—this is a great offer with a lot of value.

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You Don’t Have to Win at Everything


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I had coffee with an aspiring entrepreneur who was struggling with priorities.

“I worry I’m doing everything wrong!” he said.

Everywhere he went, people gave him free advice. They told him about email marketing ... and webinars ... and the latest new social network ... and all the things he had to do to keep up.

"I'm not sure I'll be able to do all these things," he continued. "I can hardly keep up with the list!"

Well, that’s the thing. First of all, it’s very hard to fully "keep up" these day. There’s always a new network to learn, a new tool to master. There’s always one more thing that can be done.

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Win the Way You Won Before


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When you encounter a setback and need to regroup, think back to a time when you won. You mastered a skill, navigated a tricky negotiation, or otherwise came out on top.

Can you use the same skill or strategy now? Can you adapt that skill or strategy to a new situation?

Sure, circumstances may have changed. But you haven’t always lost or struggled, so think about that time when you got it right.

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Why I Became an Entrepreneur 16 Years Ago

102269936_c53eb13bef_z The best and most honest answer is that I wasn’t good at anything else. For better or worse, I learned that I was a terrible employee. I was unreliable and unskilled.

I’ve written before about my last official job, lugging boxes onto FedEx trucks in the middle of the night.

Stacking boxes was surprisingly hard! It wasn’t just about picking up the box and tossing it in the truck—you had to stack it in a certain way that led to maximum efficiency (and presumably out of some concern for the contents, though that never seemed to be much of a priority).

I lacked the spatial reasoning to do this task well. I was decent enough at Tetris, but when it came to real boxes, I sucked. I kept waiting for that big horizontal bar to come down the chute, so I could clear off four lines of bricks or boxes all at once, but it never arrived. Instead, the supervisor kept messing with me, adding boxes with incorrect zip codes to the queue while laughing at my poorly-stacked pallets.

Whatever. I quit and never went back.

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Lessons from Don Miller: Success Is More Difficult to Manage than Failure

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Don Miller is the kind of guy that I implicitly trusted the first time I met. Not to psychoanalyze too much, but in general I’m not a very trusting person. I believe that most people are good, but I don’t necessarily trust a lot of people. With Don, though, I felt comfortable discussing personal stuff right away.

After a lunch meeting, he wrote me an email with more advice. I asked him if I could share part of it, and he agreed. Maybe it helps some of you, too? Here's Don:

"Rapid success is much more difficult to manage than failure, I believe. It's just like walking a tight rope. I think the thing is, success changes you radically, but nothing around you from the old life changes, so now you're a different person and to some degree larger than the small walls you've been living in.

But it's all a bunch of tricks and lies. What matters in the end is taking the folks who loved you early with you into the new life as gingerly as possible."

Check out Don's book, Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy.

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You May Feel Inadequate, But …

I'm home and writing this week and next. From the research files -->

"What advice would you give to someone else who wants to pursue a big dream but feels hesitant or uncertain?"

"Do it. Just do it. You will feel inadequate. You will feel you can't do it, but you owe it to yourself to try. You might only have a 50/50 chance of making it, but you're looking at a 100% chance of failure if you don't even try."

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Continuous improvement: An Abbreviated List (And Yours?)

I said recently that I felt frustrated with myself due to poor focus and lack of attention to “big things.” Of course, whining doesn't get us anywhere—action is much better. Complete with built-in accountability, this post outlines a few things I'm working on. It's also a public commitment to correct my shortcomings through the process of continuous improvement.

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Around Here: Notes from Thursday Afternoon

Whenever things are going well, it's always good to ask yourself “How could I improve? What could I do better?” Never rest on your laurels! Always be thinking: OK, great. What's next? Yesterday I woke up early and went for a quick run around the park. Then I went for a morning biscuit at Pine State, where I visit a couple of times a week whenever I'm home in Portland. Then I came back and got ready, and then we sold 1,000 WDS 2013 tickets to fun people all over the world. I looked back at the screen and thought, wow, that was exciting. Then I went for sushi.

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How to Ensure You’ll Do Anything

If there's something you need to do, but you keep putting it off—or if there's something you'd like to do but don't seem able to push through, there's at least one easy way to fix it. The solution begins with understanding why we procrastinate. The simple answer is: because we can. To solve the problem, therefore, we need to eliminate the ability to defer. If the task is short but dreaded (a phone call you don't want to make, for example), you can simply decide not to leave the room until it's complete.

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1,000 Days After Overnight Success

More than two years ago, I wrote a free manifesto on becoming a professional writer in less than a year. It was called 279 Days to Overnight Success, and the purpose was to outline the roadmap I had followed in crafting a new career after moving back to the U.S. from overseas and finishing grad school. Somewhere around 15% of the total AONC readership can be traced to the worldwide interest in this manifesto, so I thought I'd take a quick look back at the lessons from it.

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