The Only Ten Things That Have Given Me Success

I tried to teach my kids how to fly a kite.

To fly a kite you need a wind going against you. The pressure against the wind causes it to rise.

Success is a constant battle against that wind blowing against you. So forgive yourself when the kite falls.

Pick it up. Wind up the string. Wait. Try again.

ATTEMPT AT SUCCESS #1:

I was thrown out of graduate school. I failed every class. I spent time trying to get someone to love me. I became obsessed with a game and played it all the time.

I got a letter saying, “Please leave and come back when you are more mature.”

So I failed.

ATTEMPT AT SUCCESS #2:

I wrote four novels in a row. I sent out each novel to 20 publishers. They all got rejected. I failed.

I thought if I published a novel I would like myself better. And then other people would like me. And then I would get a job and money and love and family and success.

Rejected!

MORE ATTEMPTS

I started a business. It failed. Then another one did. Then another succeeded but I had left before it succeeded. If I stayed another year I would have made millions.

So, with $48,000 in debt I moved to New York City.

ALMOST BUT…

Four years later I sold a company for $15 million. Four years after that I had $143 left in the bank. I failed again.

Lost my home.

And again. And again. And again. And again.

Lost my family and another home.


When you break out of the box, you join the world of people trying to live a bigger life, an outrageous life, a courageous life, a life with impact and meaning, a successful life.

You will become one of us.

When you stick out like a nail, you will get hammered.

You will fail.

I wish someone had told me some ways to succeed. I wish I knew one percent of one percent of what to do.

All I knew was: “pursue your dreams”. This is a lie told by people who wish they had pursued their dreams.

I don’t know if I’m a success now. I’m only successful because every day when I wake up, and the sun peeks in, and I have to force myself to get out of bed, I can only do so by reminding myself how grateful I am.

I can so easily sink into failure.

Sometimes I help people. They say to me, “I hope I can return the favor.”

I say, “If you find me in the street with a needle sticking out of my arm please help me out.”

They laugh. But I’m not kidding. It can happen. My dream is to be lying in the street with a needle sticking out of my elbow.

Just to see if people will help me.

Meanwhile:

Here are some things I learned.

1) INNER > OUTER

a) Physical health (eat, move, sleep)

b) Emotional (you are the average of the 5 people you surround yourself with. DO NOT be around toxic people EVER)

c) Creative (write ten ideas a day…every day)

 

(Looking at the waiter’s pad with my ten ideas before going up on stage)

d) Spiritual (take time to see the greater universe. Our problems are just the eyeblinks of a quantum god. Be good to people)

If you do the above today, then today is a successful today.

It’s a cliche to say, “there is only today”.

But.

2) 1% A DAY

Patience. If you improve your passion, your skill, your network, your opportunities just 1% a day.. that’s 3700% a year.

Your opportunities will be 38 times better in just a year with just small improvements every day.

If you start the year off as “Clark Kent” and you improve one percent a day then at the end of the year you will be “Superman”.

You will leave your dead planet and arrive at a new one. A baby. With heat vision.

Do this for 20 years.

I’ve seen amazing things. It’s so true. 1% a day.

3) SAYING YES:

Two out of three have to apply to say “Yes”:

  • Intellectually satisfying
  • Fun
  • Financially worthwhile

Else, ALWAYS say “No”. ZERO exceptions.

4) CONNECT PEOPLE

The value of your network is not the list of people you know. It’s the connections between all of those people.

If this is hard to understand, don’t worry. You’ll see what I mean.

Every day, introduce two people who can provide value for each other.

BUT

do “Permission Networking”.

Ask person A, “Is it ok for me to introduce you to Person B for these reasons?”

Then ask person B the same.

Then introduce.

If you don’t do “permission networking” then you failed. You just created for homework for two people and now they hate you.

It’s like inviting someone to a destination wedding. Don’t do it.

And, most importantly… stay out of it after that. You don’t need to be in the middle. This is how the value of your network grows with the least amount of effort.

How will you make money if you are not in the middle?

Trust me.

How do you have ideas of who to introduce?

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Don’t forget the first advice above: “Write 10 ideas a day”.

Your brain get’s rewired when you do that.

You become an “idea machine”. You will ALWAYS have ideas.

The other day someone said to me, “We have to buy insurance on your brain”. Because ideas are currency. Your brain will become valuable.

Don’t believe it? That’s ok. Try it for two months.

You’ll see.

5) BE STUPID

I don’t know anything.

I want to learn from everyone I meet. So I ask questions. Dumb questions.

“Explain it to me like I’m a three year old.”

This is the only way to learn. Only way to listen.

Only way to build trust with someone who wants to, desperately wants to, explain his or her ideas to you so they can trust you and work with you.

Give them that gift of listening.

6) 80/20

Stop working so hard.

  • 20% of the people you know are the ones who will provide most of the value.
  • 20% of your current activities are the only ones worth doing to achieve success.
  • 20% of meetings are the only ones worth having. Cancel the other 80%. Today.

I’ll go one step further. The “80/20 rule squared” means only 4% (20% squared) of the things you do will provide 64% (80% squared) of the value.

You only need that 64% to make millions, find love, get healthy, be happy.

The other 96% of the time you can rest and read and learn and make someone laugh.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This rule is very hard to follow but it works.

a. It’s hard to identify the right 20%. Do very fast trial and error.

b. It’s hard psychologically to work 80% less. People confuse business with success.

c. Be patient with yourself as you are finding the right 20%.

7) READ A LOT

Benefits of reading:

  • Download an entire person’s life into your head without having to live their life.
  • Get ideas to combine with your ideas to make new unique ideas (idea sex). Example: Heavy Metal meets Rap = Run DMC’s MEGA-HIT “Walk This Way” which put rap on the map.
  • A good book can ignite a new passion. The more passions the better. You can only learn something when you are passionate about it. Else you forget. (Well, speaking for myself, I only remember what I am passionate about).
  • Makes you smarter at cocktail parties.
  • I usually only remember one or two good ideas from every book I read. And that’s with the GOOD books. So you have to read a lot to get good ideas.

BUT

Never read news. NEVER!

How come?

  • The news is written by bad writers who are just looking for page views and are willing to lie or defame to get them.
  • The news is out of date one day later.
  • Better to read quality books for either good information that withstands the test of time or to become a better writer by studying the greats.
  • The news is almost always wrong anyway. It’s guesses made in retrospect. Like “stocks went down because of oil worries”. Trust me, nobody was ever worried about oil enough to send the stock market down.

Some good books:

Tiny Beautiful Things” by Cheryl Strayed

12 Rules for Life” by Jordan Peterson

Skin in the Game” by Nassim Taleb

Sapiens” by Yuval Harari

Grit” by Angela Duckworth

(From “Skin in the Game”)

8) MULTIPLE SOURCES OF SUCCESS

The average multi-millionaire in the US has five different sources of income according to the IRS.

When I am struggling with one idea or passion, I try to say, “Ok, enough of that today” and I switch to another idea.

This allows me to always improve at least one thing per day 1%. It also helps me avoid crushing despair and depression.

9) THE JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA RULE

Above I said you’re the average of the five people around you.

Maybe this takes a lot of time. But now I only deal with the 4 or 5 people who are my “Justice League”. The people I know I can save the world with.

Nobody else is worth the time until they can prove it.

(Alex Ross is my favorite comic book artist)

10) FEAR VS GROWTH DECISIONS

For every decision you make, did you make it out of “fear” or “growth”?

How can you know? I know because I can feel it in my body.

With fear, I feel it in my stomach. It clenches. With growth, I can feel it in my heart and brain.

I make many fear decisions. It’s like a reflex. I’m so afraid of going broke again I have a sort of PTSD about poverty.

I don’t know if money buys happiness. But it’s for sure that poverty doesn’t buy happiness. I’ve never seen a homeless guy skipping down the street with a smile.

So I try to ask myself with each decision, “was this fear or growth”?

If it’s fear or if it’s coming out of anxiety, then I delay or wait until I think I’m making a growth decision.


There’s a lot more to success. But the above will get you there.

How long? I don’t know. Ten years. But every day will be more successful than the day before. So it will be easy to see.

What else is there? Learn how to be a good public speaker.

This is super important. But it’s another topic. Being able to communicate is the only way that a vision in your head can be transplanted into someone else’s head.

I hope I took a vision and put it in your head with this article.

What am I doing today?

I’m working on five of my passions:

  • Podcasting. Wrote to five people I want on my podcast. Did research.
  • Writing. (This.)
  • H elping a friend of mine build his company (I made introductions that will help him).
  • Came up with ideas for another company I advise and have a profit incentive for them to make money. Sent the ideas to their team. They will do them.
  • Did one meeting. Cancelled all other meetings.

And then tonight I’m going to relax. I surprised my girlfriend with a gift sent to her home yesterday.

I saw her look at a dress the other day.

So I bought the dress in three different sizes and had them delivered to her house. I surprised her. She was happy and picked out the right size.

Now…dinner tonight. I love her.

And then next week going on vacation with my 16 year old daughter.

I love her also and I hope I’ve been a good father.

That’s success.


(My daughter taking a picture of me reading in a bookstore)

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  • James Buechler

    I particularly and I’m takingi to heart to avoid all news, thanks

  • Rita H. Losee

    If you don’t do ANYTHING else today, read this!

  • My favourite part of this article is how many times you failed….and kept going. I think that is the most important skill of all. Call it grit, call it persistence or call it stubbornness, it is an essential skill!

  • Camillus Akpan

    This is awesome, it helps keep me going just when i was about to quit. My only delay has been money. There are dozens of fantastic ideas on my head, on my diary. But i have gone nowhere with them because all of them needs some amount of capital to be executed. I have’nt had any finnancial support from anywhere. And now i have dropped a dozen of those ideas. But there is this one i have refused to drop. I pray i won’t die with it.