Aesop suggests that honest is the best policy. This remains true, transparency is a value that builds trust in relationships, and simplifies communication.

In Mercury and the Woodcutter, Aesop suggests that “Honesty is the best policy.” This is not only true of golden axes being fished out of deep, black waters, but also every interpersonal interaction. Transparency is a value that builds relationships. Those relationships build businesses. When you are honest, you don’t have to worry about what you shared with one person versus another. You also don’t need to worry about what others are thinking, because everything’s out in the open. Here are some of the main benefits of transparency:

Simplicity Is Not Complicated

Those who are dishonest constantly find themselves changing stories based on who they are talking to. When you are transparent as an entrepreneur, your business is simpler and more efficient. This efficiency is good for the soul, as well as the bottom line.

It’s All About Trust

Relationships are currency in business. Transparency builds trust. That trust will allow you to forge stronger connections. Dishonesty is corrosive, breeding discontent and gossip. All of that energy could be focused on performance. Omitting, editing, or withholding information models that behavior for the entire organization. Trust creates colleagues and collaborators, which builds production and performance.

It Takes A Community

Transparency inspires meaningful engagement. When you are honest with your employees about a problem you are having with your company, people will respond to your humanness. Their authentic response can be the start of engagement well beyond normal “surface” communication. By connecting on a real level, you can build a sense of community with your team. And a community always works harder toward shared goals.

Integrity Is What You See in the Mirror

Transparency and integrity work side by side in any successful undertaking. Failure to disclose a fact that may be harmful to a short-term goal can eventually terminate a long-term goal. Those who fail to disclose create bad feelings and distrust when the truth is finally uncovered. And, even if it isn’t, the stress of worrying about its disclosure is energy that could be used to build a better organization. You may have a definite outcome you are trying to avoid by failing to disclose. Yet, your avoidance may close you off from unknown and possibly beneficial partnerships or solutions that you will discover once you honestly declare the truth.

Transparency creates openness and rewards that are both personal and financial. It ripples across the waters of your organization, much like the ripples on the pond where the Woodsman lost his axe into the water. He received, for his honesty, not only iron, silver and golden axes, but also the admiration of Mercury. And there’s no telling where that goodwill can take the Woodsman and his woodcutting business.

Astrology may or may not help your business, but you will be successful if are able to learn how to focus your energies.

The world can be a steady stream of endless distractions. Even if you’re just average, you check your phone 80 to 150 times per day. And maybe you spend more time than you wanted on Insta because your friend’s adorable bunny led you down a 45 minute rabbit hole. You binge all of The Haunting of Hill House over the weekend—and somehow that is less scary than looking at your finances. Which you put off doing. Again.

We know. We get it.  

But here’s the thing. If you are going to get that business off the ground, you’re going to have to learn to do one thing really well. Because it’s not who you know. It’s not where you’re from. No, it’s not about your astrological sign, either. Okay, maybe a little. The main thing, though, that sets the most successful entrepreneurs apart is their ability to focus. And, here is the secret part: you don’t have to be born with focus — you can learn it.

Of course, there are books and coaches out there that will sell you some focus. But, honestly you can just DIY it. It just requires an openness and some discipline. Alright, a lot of discipline. But it’s not like you have to be all work and no play. In fact, that’s the beauty. Play is built in.

One system, designed by Dan Sullivan, is made up of Focus Days, Buffer Days, and Free Days. All are essential for the greater good, and that good is doing what entrepreneurs do best: innovating, building solutions, and adding value to the lives of clients and employees.

Focus Days

On these days, you spend most of your time doing what you do best. Usually, these are the days entrepreneurs live for. If you are a builder, you build. If you are a writer, you write. If you are launching a business, liftoff! It’s the time to play to your strengths. One practitioner of the system, Danielle LaPorte, makes Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday her days to focus. She doesn’t answer the phone or email. The block in the middle of the week allows her time to build momentum and generate the work that not only makes her happiest, but also makes her the most money.

Buffer Days

These are the days you lay the infrastructure for focus days. This is when you do the have-to’s such as meetings, planning sessions, proposals — everything that allows full attention on focus days. LaPorte does this on Mondays and Fridays, starting and ending her week with the tasks, emails and phone calls that get in the way of the heart-singing stuff. For her, Monday and Friday are like stretching out before and after an exhilarating workout. It feels good to do even mundane tasks because you have a sense of purpose.

Free Days

Free Days are key. And they have rules. They have to be at least 24 hours with 100 percent exclusion of work worries. You get proper sleep. You do activities that renew and refresh. LaPorte lets it roll on weekends—“play, party, veg, nest.” She also holds Sundays especially sacred. Giving up her computer, she reads for inspiration and connects with friends. Sullivan says these recharge days are as important as any others. Without regularly unplugging, systems get overheated, and that’s when mistakes are made.

Focusing energy and time with a disciplined, uber-productive system is a way to take your entrepreneurship to the next level. It’s totally up to each person to decide if setting a date for your business launch should be a Focus Day or a Buffer Day. Also, make sure not to do it on a day when Mercury is in retrograde, though you better have “Mars, Jupiter and Saturn direct.” But don’t do it on a Free Day. Remember, planets and stars are fine on your free days, but no business!       

Climbing mountain of success is straightforward for starting your own business, right? Separate fiction and fact for entrepreneurs.

Many people have ideas about what it is and what it takes to be an entrepreneur. If you have chosen to become a business leader, it is critically important to understand the difference between fiction and fact when it comes to entrepreneurship. Here are some of the most common misconceptions:

A Straightforward Climb Up Mountain of Success?

Fiction: Successful entrepreneurs have climbed straight up the mountain of success without faltering. Fact: Though some have higher business success rates than others, no one climbs straight up the mountain without taking some pretty gnarly falls, either because they lost their balance or they got pushed. The difference is that successful entrepreneurs have the intelligence to quickly understand what happened and the courage to immediately start climbing again.

Being Boss Means Being Free?

Fiction: Being your own boss gives you total freedom. Fact: Being accountable for the direction of organizations and responsible for the well-being of employees and clients often means that going where you want, when you want is impossible. You are free to follow your intuition, which is a great freedom, but your time is highly constrained since people are counting on you for solutions so that they can live well.

Being CEO Means Never Being Alone?

Fiction: Entrepreneurs are part of large groups, surrounded by people. Fact: Though this is true, and, in fact, surrounding yourself with great people is one of the most important keys to successful entrepreneurship, being an entrepreneur can be an isolating experience. When you are starting your venture, you may be an army of one, pushing things forward with no one to tell you whether it is a good idea or not. And, even when things are up and running, making decisions requires an individuality that can be isolating as well.

Money Is What Gets You Started?

Fiction: You need money to make money. Fact: It is a great head start, of course, to begin a venture with resources. More resources, on average, produce better outcomes. But it is not necessary. In fact, if you can find your way through those initial stages, lessons learned by getting over the top with limited resources can sustain a venture into maturity. Someone with inner resources is always preferable to someone who only has outside resources. Building from the inside out makes you stronger in the long term.

Getting Rich = Success?

Fiction: Being successful is all about getting rich. Fact: Though getting rich can serve as an indicator of success, it is just one. And, no doubt, money can help get you through the rough patches. But, as you move toward to a more mature understanding of the world,  having family, clients and employees who are living better lives because of you is truly what marks success.

Born to Be an Entrepreneur?

Fiction: Entrepreneurs are born successful. Fact: Most folks looking from the outside see a confident leader and assume they were overnight successes. They don’t see the level of focus needed, the grinding responsibilities. Or, the  blood, sweat, and tears it took to get to that big office. They don’t know how the venture started. Without fanfare, a single individual pushed an idea that hardly anyone seemed too excited about.  

If you feel the call to start your own business—if you have killer ideas and the persistence to move them forward—then separating fiction and fact is one of the most important things any entrepreneur can do.

Entrepreneurs distinguish themselves by linking together qualities such as being positively engaged, true grit, and open to change and learning

No knock on business owners, but not all people who own businesses are entrepreneurs. Like entrepreneurs, business owners risk more, take on more responsibility, and have more control over their work lives than employees. The difference, then, is the motivation. Entrepreneurs are not simply trying to make a living, but measure themselves by their achievement and success. As Peter Drucker, one of the founders of modern management, says, an entrepreneur is “someone who always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.”

And though not every entrepreneur is the same, there are core elements that many share. These qualities link together, forming chains of strength that entrepreneurs use to pull themselves forward. Here are a few:

Proactively Engaged

Successful entrepreneurs have the vision to initiate actions, playing offense instead of defense. Instead of doing the bare minimum, or even underperforming, they outwork, outhustle, and outthink their competitors. This proactiveness has entrepreneurs looking ahead to where they want to go, versus constantly being stuck in regret over where they’ve been.

True Grit

Is life a series of obstacles or learning opportunities? Your answer to this question might tell you if you are truly an entrepreneur. In your effort to build solutions to market needs, you will face endless vexing and seemingly unsolvable issues. If you rage and resist these challenges, you might want to find another line of work. Entrepreneurs are consistently adaptable and resourceful. This allows them to persevere when most are ready to quit, thriving on adversity that make them better and stronger individuals.

And Change

Though everyone knows that the world is constantly shifting, most try to build a wall against it, yearning for predictability in a flood of transition. Real entrepreneurs actually embrace change, because that is where opportunity exists. Charles Darwin noted that species’ survival depends not on strength or intelligence, but on adaptability. Entrepreneurs view change as a positive and know that their ability to respond and adapt gives them an edge in every situation.

Learning is Earning

An entrepreneur unwilling to learn is like a river without water: empty and with nowhere to go. A deep understanding of every facet of business and life is essential and is the only way forward. A hunger for new ideas identifies you as an entrepreneur. Every facet of your business requires knowledge, and a willingness to learn is the only way to gain that crucial knowledge.

Feeding the Machine

An entrepreneur willingly sacrifices any activities that don’t nourish the brain with quality content. Wasting time with gossip or social media is ditched. Instead, entrepreneurs favor inputs that build knowledge and experience. Personal time sustains the body and mind. Feeding the machine requires the commitment of the whole person, body, mind, and spirit to building solutions in shifting, challenging environments.

Passion

All of your energy, motivation, and hard work are fueled by your passion. If you wake up every morning, fired up about what you’re doing, passionate to thrive and succeed, then you are a true entrepreneur. If you spend your days thinking about retirement, or a beach, or some other escape from the moment at hand, then you might want to consider retiring to that beach. Entrepreneurs’ hearts beat with their lifeblood of building and achieving.

This blog discusses Zig Ziglar's steps for successful goal setting. The image shows an illustration of a mountain with a path curving upward, representing reaching your goal. All of the colors are blue, except for a red flag at the top.

“You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” -Zig Ziglar

Are you having a difficult time sticking to your goals? Does it feel like January 1 was 10 months ago and you never lost any of that extra weight, started a meditation practice, or increased your income? There might be a reason why. Zig Ziglar has 7 steps for you that have profoundly helped many business leaders throughout the years. Find out if you have what it takes to manifest destiny.

Zig Ziglar’s Seven Steps of Goal Setting

Paraphrased from the Born to Win Workbook

    1. Identify the goal. If you want specific success, you must set specific goals.
    2. List the benefits: what’s in it for me? Your goal requires personal motivation.
    3. List the obstacles. Anticipate obstacles, and develop strategies to get through them. Learn how to improvise and be flexible if you aren’t prepared.
    4. List the skills and knowledge you need. Knowledge and skill will be required to successfully complete any goal.
    5. Identify who to work with. Who can help you be more successful?
    6. Develop a plan of action. The devil is in the details.
    7. Set a deadline. Make deadlines and stick to them.

Apply Zig’s Steps to Your Goals

The first step might seem obvious: “identify the goal,” except many people set out to do something without any specifics, such as “I want to travel more” or “I want a better paying job.” Ziglar is asking you: What does that mean? How will you stay motivated? Are you aware that obstacles will arise, and are you prepared for them? These are essentially the first 3 steps that Ziglar laid out in his book. What does this look like in a real world scenario? Let’s look at the goal of getting a raise at a current job.

Specific success in this instance requires a specific range or number. For example, if you were making $45,000, maybe you want a 20% raise after successfully increasing profits for your product over a period of a few years. This means you want to make at least $54,000 annually, which is a $9,000 increase. This is a specific goal.

Next, Ziglar wants to know for Step 2: “What’s in it for you?” The benefits of a higher income are plentiful but Ziglar wants you to be specific. Perhaps you currently live in a crowded house with noisy roommates, and a higher income would allow you to rent on your own in a quiet apartment. “If there are no personal benefits, your motivation for completing the goal is diminished,” Ziglar wrote.

Learn to Be Prepared

So, you know how much more money you want to make, and you identified your personal motivation. Most people stop there, and then if any obstacles hinder their progress, they give up. Ziglar wrote for Step 3, “if you can anticipate something, you can prepare yourself in advance to overcome it.” You need to figure out what your obstacles will be. Perhaps you asked for a raise, and you are a woman (gender matters in pay negotiations, according to The Muse), which means they gave you less than you wanted, without an opportunity to negotiate. You might also be told you have to wait 6 months before your next performance review to be considered for a raise. Before going into the conversation, be prepared, and find sources that will help you be both professional and assertive.

Work Better and Smarter Where You Are Now

Steps 4 through 7 require more reflection and detail-oriented planning. What skills and knowledge are required? If you cannot get your raise today, maybe it’s time to ask yourself what skills you need to get there. Or instead, you could try the enlightened approach: how can you increase your value for your company? Huffington Post has several suggestions for you for developing soft skills, and their writer Jonha Richman offers another post to inspire you to cultivate a more positive attitude. If you leave a job because you feel undervalued, Richman warns:

“the sense of fulfillment may only be fleeting in your next job and the very same feeling will start to creep in over and over again because you’ve only tried to escape the problem which lies within you. Instead, focus on how you can work better and smarter and be able to bring in more results for your current company.”

There is always room for improvement. If the obstacle to your goal for a raise was to wait 6 months, then you can adjust accordingly and still work on sharpening your saw.

Network, Network, Network

As for Step 5, you need to ask yourself: who in my network can help me be more successful? Think about possible mentors or business organizations where you can network with others. Local Chambers of Commerce often have mixers and lunches for local business leaders and newbies alike. Websites like MeetUp and LinkedIn could be places to start to identify contacts and resources to help you become the best version of yourself for your career and life. These people have been where you are now and can help you avoid the pitfalls.

The Devil is in the Details

What exactly do you need to achieve your goal? Step 6 is all about focusing on the details to attain the big picture vision. If you are looking for career advancement, then you need to come up with a calendar of the classes you plan to take and the books you want to read, in order to reach your next level of professionalism. Be concrete about this, such as twice a week you will focus on your classes, and on the other days you will read a few chapters from your books. Find out if your employer will sponsor any of these activities if they are relevant to your current role. Your boss may let you use one hour a week to work on your online courses or reading. They may even be willing to pay for all or part of them.

Success Starts with Accountability

Last but not least, step 7 says: “Set a deadline!” You could be planning to take classes and researching indefinitely — but “forever” is not a deadline. When do you want to see results? What is a measure of success for you? For example, one person might say, “I set a deadline for 6 months from now when I have my next review. I will complete 3 online courses on entrepreneurship, leadership skills, and coding. I will also read 5 books on areas that my mentors and boss recommended. These skills will help me be more valuable to my company, and in 6 months I will be better prepared for my review.” Setting a deadline is about accountability.

By following these 7 steps for each of your goals, you are bound to find success in all areas of your life. If you need any additional help, go back to Zig Ziglar’s work for further inspiration.

CEOs with high stress and time demands must still have a robust exercise regimen to improve health of business leader and company

Why is it especially important for a CEO to stay fit? The health benefits of a robust exercise regimen are clear for anyone. CEOs, though, have high amounts of stress and limited amounts of optional time. Health experts strongly associate these proportions with high health risks.

Goodbye Cortisol, Hello Endorphins

First of all, increased fitness decreases cortisol levels. Cortisol is the body’s main stress hormone. Though helpful in a physical trauma, fight, or flight, cortisol can be otherwise harmful. Overproduction of cortisol has been associated with mental disorders such as anxiety, depression and disruptions in cognition and sleep. Some physical ailments associated with cortisol are headaches, heart disease, and weight gain. A daily, vigorous exercise regimen releases endorphins and hormones associated with reduced pain and increased pleasure that may improve mood and health.

If all exercise did was to increase endorphins and decrease cortisol, that should be enough to catch any business leader’s attention. But, wait, that’s not all.

Exercise is also beneficial for executive functioning of the brain. Just as a business executive monitors and coordinates various departments, the executive function of the brain moves body and mind efficiently forward. With improved diet and fitness, the brain produces cells and neural pathways, called neurogenesis. More than anyone, CEOs need to be at the top of their game, and neurogenesis, improved by exercise, will give them a needed advantage.

In addition, sweating releases toxins that have accumulated in the body, moving heavy metals and harmful microbes out of the system. With these toxins removed, skin glows, tightens, and exudes radiance. The entire organization will feel the positive vibe emanating from a CEO’s fit and detoxified presence. 

Heart Health

Finally, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes rates, which have been ravaging Americans for years, are becoming global health threats. Cardiovascular disease is on pace to become the primary cause of death and disability in India by 2020. Studies have shown that three hours of exercise per week can positively impact heart health.

There is a reason that more and more entrepreneurs have life coaches. Running an organization is highly demanding and requires so much attention and focus that less pressing needs easily recede to the background. A life coach can look at the bigger picture and will definitely encourage their clients to maximize performance by having vigorous workout plans.

Being fit isn’t just a competitive advantage. It also creates long term health benefits which increase both focus and confidence. This might mean having the edge needed to lead an organization that is as healthy and vibrant as its leader.  

 

Businessman with many hands- productivity concept

Whether you’re the CEO of a company or an entry-level worker, we can all agree that inspiration to be more productive is never a bad thing. Let’s face it; we all have bad days where our focus is shot, and we feel like we can’t accomplish anything. While there are many reasons for a productivity slump, these books are sure to give you inspiration and help you get more done in your day with less headache.

1. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

Studies conducted on workplace productivity have shown that stress can have a huge impact on your ability to focus and be productive. Allen makes a strong case that the more you can relax, the greater your ability to get things done. Offering tips on overcoming anxiety, goal assessment, task delegation, project planning, and confidence building, this book is sure to help you get the most out of your time at the office.

2. Eat That Frog!: 21 Tips to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy

Procrastination is damaging to productivity; often times, we put off our most difficult tasks because they’re overwhelming or discouraging. Tracy argues that these are the tasks we should be starting our day with when our productivity levels are higher. Once you complete that dreaded task, the rest of the day should be a piece of cake. He also includes some excellent time-management tips for those of us who can’t seem to find enough hours in the day.

3. The Productive Person: A How-To Guide Book Filled with Productivity Hacks & Daily Schedules for Entrepreneurs, Students, or anyone Struggling with Work-Life Balance by James Roper & Chandler Bolt

Having a poor work-life balance can have a huge impact on your performance at work. Without time to recharge, you’re left returning to work the next day with your mental resources tapped. This book stresses not only time management and scheduling ideas, but also how to let go of guilt and allow yourself to take some time off from work now and then.

4. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

Life for many of us these days consists of endless distraction; from emails and notifications coming in on our smartphones to the never-ending options you find at the grocery store, our attention is constantly pulled in multiple directions, making focusing on anything for very long difficult. Newport’s book discusses the valuable skill of being able to tune out distractions and how to master your mind’s ability to focus in our fast-paced, overstimulating world.

5. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey

Covey’s book isn’t focused on work; it’s a self-help book devoted to changing the way you view life. As many of us know, perspective can have a major influence in your life, both on a personal and professional level, and several studies have suggested that the power of positive thinking can increase productivity. Sometimes a simple re-framing of a problem or looking at a situation from a different perspective is all we need to get over a hurdle. Covey focuses on a holistic approach to being positive, using personal stories and anecdotes to drive home the message that you are in control of your perspective and attitude.

 

Smiling employees standing around a desk- positive workplace culture

The culture of a company can shape every aspect of it: morale, productivity, turnover, quality of service provided, how the company as a whole is viewed — even the types of clients a business attracts. Culture is everything, which is why cultivating a positive one is so important. We’ve compiled a few of the best tips to ensure your company culture is as positive as possible.

Hire for Culture

Culture is shaped by every individual who works at a company — from the top managers to every employee. This makes the hiring process for all positions crucial to the shaping of the company culture. An interview isn’t just a time to discuss a candidate’s qualifications for the position, it’s also an excellent opportunity to ask questions that can determine a candidate’s values to see if they align with that of your company.

Recognize and Commend the Team

Employees who feel valued and appreciated are more likely to work harder and stay with a company longer than those who aren’t. Recognizing milestones like birthdays, employee anniversaries, or simply telling them they’re doing a great job can go a long way for morale. These recognitions don’t need to break the bank; they can be as simple as an email or announcement thanking everyone for their hard work, or the boss giving everyone a big shout out at a meeting.

Allow for Work-Life Balance

Even if your employees enjoy their job immensely, having a strong work-life balance is important for productivity and to prevent job burnout. This could mean different things to different employees; some may want the weekends off to spend time with their family or need to take the occasional early day to take a pet to the vet. To some, it could mean that their workday is confined to work hours so that there are no duties encroaching on their personal time at home. Or it could mean all of the above. Having flexibility for employees’ needs makes for a more positive culture where people feel they’re able to work while still taking care of the things that matter in life.

Open Communication

Open communication is important in all types of relationships — even that of an employer/employee. Creating an environment that allows for openness, whether through “open door” policies or asking for employee feedback, is crucial for allowing employees to feel valued and heard. Performance reviews, while dreaded by many employers and employees alike, can be an excellent time for both parties to get on the same page and ensure that any of the employee’s concerns are addressed. Having open communication shows that a company cares and is concerned for the employee’s well-being, making the employee care more about the company in return.

These small steps can go a long way to ensure everyone feels happy and valued, and it ultimately leads to the betterment of the company. Employees are more enthusiastic, more productive, and more devoted when the culture is a positive one that is designed to make everyone’s workday the best it can be.

In red, scratched, thick lettering reads "discrimination" against a white background.

Denying a problem exists just because it isn’t a personal problem only harms those that do experience the struggle. Problems like discrimination and harassment are often one of those problems that people try to dismiss. Sometimes it’s because microaggressions are just that, micro and all too easily brushed aside. Or the problem could be denied because it wasn’t personally witnessed. But ignoring problems like sexism and racism harms those experiencing it and aids those who are getting away with it.

False accusations of discrimination aren’t as common as the loud voices shouting about them would have everyone believe. Saying that isn’t meant to lighten how serious of a problem that false accusations are. But there are people who would go on about how false accusations are the worst part of discrimination, which detracts from the problem at hand.

For people experiencing the discrimination, the worst part is often seeking help, and then not being believed. It usually shuts off the idea of any future attempt of seeking help, creating a toxic environment. In the workplace, it is the job of those in charge to make sure that this sort of thing doesn’t happen, and that accusations are taken seriously. It’s important to handle the situation carefully and tactfully, and ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. Rather, it just may take it away from view. Different levels of discrimination and harassment should have corresponding consequences according to severity, be it a written notice, sensitivity training, or employment termination if severe enough. Different industries are more prone to specific types of discrimination and harassment. As a business owner, it’s important to rise above a set standard and treat everyone fairly and respectfully.

Should businesses stay out of politics?

Keeping up with the news means sometimes seeing articles about what companies have donated to, and some people taking that personally. Some vocal people say that businesses should keep their noses out of politics, but in reality, that is up for the business to decide.

Depending upon the size of the company, there are various things to consider. If it’s big enough to have shareholders, it means having to consider what they think before donating. If the company is smaller, there may not be a whole lot to donate in the first place. And even if a donation is made, it likely won’t make front page news anywhere. But in the smaller company, employees might take it more personally if business profits are given to a cause they feel strongly against.

Outside of the business, going back to the idea of current and potential customers not liking any sort of political involvement, that idea seems to mostly come from older crowds. There’s a newer idea, at least being vocalized more, that consumers are okay with businesses donating to causes that align with their ideals, because then the consumer can choose either to support that business or not.

There’s another bit of truth that businesses can’t entirely avoid politics, even if they aren’t actively donating to a cause. Business practices like deciding who to hire or what regulations are enforced more strictly than others can be seen as political statements by consumers. At that point, it becomes a matter of deciding what principals they want to back, to stand firm by those values, whether they’re called political or not.