How to Be The Leader Of Your Own Life

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When people talk about leadership, they the focus is most often on others–how leaders serve them, empower them and motivate them.
What if we turn the tables, though?
What if instead of thinking about leadership in relation to others, we concentrate on the leadership we can take within our own lives? What would that look like?
Here are 12 ways that becoming the leader of your own life will make a big difference:
1. Set goals for your life.

Set daily, monthly and long-term goals tied to your visions and dreams. Don’t be afraid to go for something big–remember, nothing is impossible if you believe you can achieve it. Once you’ve set your goals, ask yourself daily what you’re doing to reach them.
2. Lead by example.

Every day, you’re setting an example for those around you–whether you realize it or not, positive or negative. Your life is your message, so to be leader of your life you need to decide what message you want to send.
3. Be fearless.

Too many people coast through life without ever taking the initiative to find greatness within themselves. Instead, teach yourself to be daring, bold and brave. Be willing to fall down, fail and get up again for another round. To lead in your life requires that you do things that make you afraid–because life will unfold in portion to your courage.
4. Honor others.

Others will tell you to make sure you get all the credit and validation that are due to you. But being the leader of your own life means learning to be humble and give away the credit. Going out ahead of others is only part of leadership; you also have to go with them. Instead of seeking recognition for yourself, show that you stand with them and that you recognize and appreciate them.
5. Embrace new ideas and opportunities.

Don’t shy away from anything new, whether it’s an opportunity, an idea, or an experience. Turn every day into an adventure and work to turn all the programs, projects and processes in your life into possibilities. Everything was impossible until the first person did it, so work to always be that first person.
6. Question everything.

Become the person who’s constantly asking questions. The more you question, the more you learn, and the more you learn, the more you know. If you weren’t born with it, develop the drive to increase your knowledge, skills, and understanding. Ask yourself questions to stay focused–simple questions to clarify issues and facts, and complex questions for deeper insights into concepts and beliefs. Curiosity is an important way to become the leader of your own life.
7. Do what’s right, not what’s easy.

There are some things you simply don’t take liberties with. When it comes to integrity, honesty and ethics there is no room for compromise. Make sure that what you say and what you do are always in alignment; keep integrity at the heart of your character and you will never lose sight of it. We’re all human, and humans aren’t perfect. But you can always make the effort to choose what’s right over what’s convenient or personally beneficial.
8. Find goodness and beauty in everyone and everything.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the negativity and ugliness that exist in the world. But if we spend our time seeking out beauty in everything and in everyone, how different life becomes. It’s up to us to see, appreciate and share the beauty that surrounds us every day.
9. Actively reject pessimism.

There will always be something to be negative about. Instead, practice zero tolerance for negativity. The more you reject things that are defeatist, critical, fatalistic and apathetic, the more room you leave in your life for positivity. As leader of your own life, you have the power to either make yourself miserable or happy with the choices you make every day.
10. Be the change you want to see in the world.

Everything you want begins with you. It starts within. To live in the world of your dreams, you must, in Gandhi’s famous words, be the change you want to see. Dream big and start small.
11. Surround yourself with mentors and teachers.

You can’t grow when you think you’re the smartest person in the room. Always be on the lookout for teachers and mentors who are smarter and more experienced than you. Seek to be continually inspired by something and learning about everything. Encouraging growth and development is as important to leading in your own life as it is with your employees at work.
12. Care for and about people.

Make sure that compassion and empathy are a central part of who you are, and you’ll stay connected to your basic humanity. When you do, you’ll not only become a better leader of your own life but also someone others choose to lead them.

Expert Advice for Gen Y Managers

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By Lindsey Pollak

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As members of Generation Y (a.k.a. Millennials) continue to enter the workforce in droves, plenty is being written about how to manage these young employees.


I’d like to take a different angle and talk about the fact that Gen Ys are now starting to do the managing. More than a few workplaces — from start-ups to nonprofits to Fortune 500 corporations — are promoting twentysomethings into management roles every day.


To help this new cohort of Gen Y managers, I reached out to some of the best managers I know — from all generations — and asked them what they wish they’d known when they first became leaders. Here are some of their answers:

“I wish I had realized the true impact I could make on people’s careers versus being concerned about whether I was ready for the challenge of managing others. [The people we manage] expect our best efforts, so focus on the needs of the individual you are managing and use the skills that have gotten you to this point. You will always be a work in progress.”
Robert Daugherty, Retired HR Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers
“The key to managing others is to put yourself in their shoes. Make sure you understand what their long-term goals are, so that you can structure the day-to-day tasks to support the person’s career development. If you can do that effectively, the person working for you will do a great job and be more willing to go the extra mile.”
Lauren Porat, Co-Founder, Urban Interns


“I wish I had spent more time getting to know my employees and what motivates them. Playing into different people’s motivations is the best way to manage them to success.”
Evan Gotlib, SVP Advertising Sales & Creative Services,


“It is sometimes difficult to ask others to perform when you have never done it before. Don’t apologize for asking people to do what they are paid to do. Be clear about expectations and what constitutes a job well done.”
Susan Phillips Bari, President Emeritus, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council


“I wish I had known how important it is to get to know everyone you can in an organization, not just stay clustered with your specific team. Relationships drive so much of business, so the more authentic relationships you can make across departments, the more effective a manager you’ll be.”
Manisha Thakor, Personal Finance Expert & Author


“I’ve managed people who were 20 years younger and, in some cases, 30 years older. I never focused on their age, but rather sought to tap their passion, a particular experience or skill as a means of engaging them and forging a strong relationship. I don’t get threatened by how much someone may know on a particular topic. I’m willing to listen and learn from them.”
Linda Descano, CFA, CEO, Women & Co. (a service of Citibank)


“I wish I had known about the ‘praise sandwich’ — delivering constructive criticism between two pieces of positive feedback. No one wants to work for a boss who is hypercritical or insensitive. By acknowledging the good things as part of a difficult conversation, it makes negative feedback more palatable.”
Meryl Weinsaft Cooper, Co-Author, Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Hired, Noticed & Rewarded at Work


“I wish I had not been is such a rush. Listening to your team and observing their behaviors before determining how to lead them is really critical.”
Joan Kuhl, Associate Director, Managed Markets Training, Forest Laboratories


As an avid reader, I also asked my expert panelists for their recommendations of the best books for new managers. Here are a few of their selections:

The One-Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard

The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels by Michael Watkins

The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker

You’re In Charge — Now What? by Thomas J. Neff and James M. Citrin


What’s your best advice for new managers and what books would you recommend? Please share your comments!


Skills Every Successful Entrepreneur Must Have

By Jennifer Dawson

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There are essential leadership skills every entrepreneurs must have to succeed and fortunately you may already possess them thanks to your hobbies and skills. Read on to learn more.

Focus and Discipline

These are perhaps the most important skills any entrepreneur must have. It takes drive and motivation to succeed, and you need focus and discipline for both. If you think you’re lacking, think again. Do you enjoy chess? Do you get up at 4 am every day without fail to work out or run? Perhaps you enjoy hobbies like jigsaw puzzles, are good at saving money, or have lost a significant amount of weight. All these things take focus and discipline, so don’t sell yourself short.

Another important skill is to be detail oriented. In business being sloppy can mean costing your company big bucks. It pays to pay attention to every detail and not overlook the small stuff. Your customers and clients will appreciate your extra attention to detail, and it can help your company accumulate greater profits. If your hobby includes things like putting models together or planning a garden, or if you’re a stickler for proofreading and never forget a face, you’re definitely detail oriented.

Teamwork and Competitiveness

Presumably, you intend to surround yourself with a team of employees that will work together to help the business grow and succeed. If so, you’re going to need a lot of experience in teamwork and competitiveness to ensure employee engagement and success. It’s important to see yourself as part of the team, not just the boss, and to treat your employees with respect and empathy. Happy employees are employees that feel listened to and valued.

Having a competitive spirit is important too, but there has to be balance. Over competitiveness alienates people and drives morale down. Make sure you inspire people to challenge themselves and the competition, don’t make them feel like they have no choice. Again, your personal skills and hobbies come into play here. If you’ve ever played on a sports team, in a band, or led a club, you’ve already been nurturing and growing these important skills.

Being a successful entrepreneur may seem daunting, but in reality, you may already have many of the skills you need to excel and grow your business. Focus, discipline, teamwork and attention to details are all things we use in our personal lives and while enjoying our hobbies, so take a look at yours and see what you’ve learned!

Learn to Manage Your Stress As an Entrepreneur

By JR Dominguez
View original publication on Millennial Magazine

Today more millennials than ever are skipping out on the traditional 9 to 5 and going into business for themselves. The alluring concept of being an entrepreneur, calling the shots, and starting a career in a field they’re passionate about has driven many to start their own small businesses. Being the boss does have its advantages, however, becoming the head person in charge doesn’t come without some stressed involved. With more obstacles ahead than many are aware of, it takes a plan to manage your stress and be successful at running a business.

Common Stress Factors

How much stress could there be? You get to decide what you want to do for a living, you determine how much you’d like to make, you’re in charge of hiring, and you have no one to answer to. It would seem that being a business owner is a piece of cake, however, it won’t take long to encounter the factors which can lead to an undue amount of stress. Below are some you might experience and how to get through it.

  • Finances – One of the biggest stress factors for business owners is having enough capital to sustain their startup. From choosing an entity and company name to covering operating costs, you’ll need to have cash upfront to keep things running. As most entrepreneurs are coming from their traditional jobs, most don’t have enough capital and many don’t even make an income the first few years of business.
  • Time – There is a lot to do as a business owner and time is often a commodity they don’t have enough of. Many new entrepreneurs end up working 10-15 hours a day, which is a far cry from the eight-hour shifts they’re used to.
  • Too Many Hats – There are a lot of facets to running a business and the climate is always changing. It can be a lot for one person to take on. However, to save money in the beginning, many entrepreneurs take on all the responsibilities. The quality of business suffers as a result.

This is only a small portion of the stress factors that entrepreneurs have to deal with. There are also stressors to consider like lack of control over the success of the business, competition, and the inability to properly balance their personal and professional lives. This can lead to burnout or chronic stress which can manifest in ways that include substance abuse, lack of concentration, mood swings, fatigue, body aches, high blood pressure, and more.

Manage Your Stress With An Action Plan

The number of new businesses each year continues to climb and the dream of becoming an entrepreneur has not subsided, therefore, it is safe to say that starting your own business isn’t impossible. However, to get through the first few years, it will be necessary for you to find a way to reduce your stress.

  • Seek Treatment – If you’ve started abusing drugs and alcohol to deal with the stress of starting your own business you should seek treatment. There are rehab centers that have an alcohol rehab timeline for inpatient or outpatient programs that span 30, 60, or 90 days to make it easy to balance with your professional and personal obligations. These treatments will also teach you how to deal with stress and mental health issues in a healthy and sober way.
  • Tap Into Financial Resources – There is a lot of financial help out there for startups. Apply for a small business loan or grant, create a budget, and look for other revenue streams to help you sustain a living until you start turning a profit.
  • Hire Help – To save you time in a day and reduce the amount of stress you’re dealing with from being the jack-of-all-trades, you should hire help. If money is an issue, consider outsourcing, hiring temp staff, working with interns, or bartering.

It takes a special person to run a successful business. This person must not only have great leadership skills and have a passion that motivates them to excel, they must also know how to deal with the downside of being the boss. By reducing the amount of stress you’re under, you can get through the most difficult years of starting a business and start to live the life you always dreamed of.

Fuel your happiness: three things happy people do

By Dan Cable and Anna Johnston

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We spend most of our waking hours at work – an average of 47 hours a week in the US. We’re working for longer – half of us will work beyond their mid-sixties, according to a 2015 Gallup survey. Are we happy? Globally, 87% of employees are less than fully engaged, according to Gallup’s 142-country study on the State of the Global Workplace.

If you employ or lead people, you want them to be happy too. A happy, engaged employee is a productive employee.

But the sad reality is that true, meaningful happiness often eludes us. Many modern workplaces exemplify this. At one retailer, the chief executive sometimes downs vodka shots with his interviewees. If you get in, on particular days, you can dress as your favorite animal. If you’re still down in the dumps after donning your squirrel outfit for your KPI review, you can go see their full-time chief happiness officer.

Despite corporate efforts, most of us still don’t like our jobs. Forced fun doesn’t work. What does work is activating our best selves. What does that mean? Put simply, when you’re at your best, you live up to your fullest potential. You’re more resistant to stress and disease. You’re better at creative problem-solving. You perform well under pressure and you have stronger relationships with your friends, families and co-workers. Of course, we’re all different, and so is the potential we possess and work towards. Still, there are universal traits of happy people.

1. They play to their strengths

If you’re working more than 40 hours a week, work is better described as life. As I wrote in my book Alive at Work: The Neuroscience of Helping Your People Love What They Do, a friend once told me, “Sure work sucks… that’s why they call it work.” But happy people have a habit of incorporating what they’re good at and what’s meaningful to them. People who feel they can play to their strengths at work are more energized, feel a greater sense of purpose, and are less likely to quit. To be clear, strengths-based work does not mean that you think you don’t have weaknesses to work on. We can always improve, and it’s wrong-headed to assume that your past successes will ensure future wins. In other words, happiness doesn’t have to be a competency trap. The point is that some people focus on using their signature strengths a little bit every day, instead of placing limitations at the center of their focus, which activates positive emotions and creates personal energy.

If playing to strengths works so well, why isn’t it more common? The way we work today is largely based on a model that was invented alongside the industrial revolution. When working in large organizations became more common than farming, management made jobs very standardized and well-defined. Employees were told exactly what to do and when and how to do it. This allowed for quick scaling up of the labor force, and control over the work process. Today, the demands on organizations are changing so fast that employees must be flexible in order to stay relevant. Employers need and expect constant innovation. The people at the top who write the job descriptions might not be the best people to write them anymore. The best people to craft roles – shape them, challenge them, reinvent them – are often employees themselves, because they are closest to the work.

A while ago when I was teaching a group of leaders I met Charles, whose story illustrates this point. A born salesman, he had quickly climbed the ladder and after only a few years had 20 people to manage. Despite tripling his salary, he hated the endless meetings and missed talking to customers. So Charles tried an experiment. Every week, without the intention of selling anything, he would go and talk to his customers – about trends, what was selling, what wasn’t – with the sole purpose of just connecting with them. He learned two things. One: he found his tasks took on new meaning. For example, in product meetings, he could link the product to the experiences of the people he talked about it with. Two: he sold more. In this way, he made more sales simply by enriching his customer view. He was happier and work felt more meaningful because he played to one of his strengths: connecting with people.

2. They continually experiment

Heard of the 10,000-hour success formula popularized by Malcolm Gladwell? It’s the notion that 10,000 hours of focused practice will help you achieve world-class performance, in any field. Arguably – and as emerging research shows – 10,000 experiments may serve you better. In one interview, for example, Mark Zuckerberg said, “One of the things I’m most proud of that is really key to our success is this testing framework… At any given point in time, there isn’t just one version of Facebook running. There are probably 10,000.” Similarly, Jeff Bezos has suggested that Amazon’s success is a function of how many experiments it does a year, a month, a week, a day.

Fear is kryptonite to experimentation – and to happiness. It’s well known that fear narrows our attention and closes us to the broader environment. In times of crises we return to safe, old habits. A more promising track to experimenting, and to happiness, is to dial down fear and anxiety by activating positive emotions. This means that rather than inspiring fear, leaders should inspire creativity, innovation and higher engagement in their teams. They need to offer their people freedom to experiment, and label “mis-takes” as learnings rather than failures.

Experimentation is easier said than done when you’re working for a corporate with tightly-wound processes. So what can you do to take control? Make it a habit to be curious. When you’re curious you’re more likely to step outside your comfort zone. You’re more likely to push the boundaries and collaborate with others in new ways. Be open to ideas and changes. When you cherish other people’s ideas as much as your own, you absorb a bank of information like osmosis that can be recombined in novel ways. Think about stress in terms of excitement and challenges, rather than anxiety and threats. Research shows that mentally framing change as a chance to try something new rather than a chance to spectacularly fail reaps better results.

3. They explore playfully

We are set up to seek through evolution. Searching for information and resources is our basic fight for survival. Neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp was an authority on the science of emotions, and he focused on affective neuroscience: the neural mechanisms of emotion. He labelled the part of the brain that is responsible for mammal’s insatiable curiosity the “seeking system”. It creates our natural impulse to explore. When we follow these urges, our seeking system rewards us with a hit of dopamine – a neurotransmitter linked to motivation and pleasure – that makes us want to explore more and more.

Unless you’re experiencing threat and anxiety, that is. Exploration and playfulness is inhibited by negative emotions such as fear in all species. What’s more, the fear system is much harder to switch off than it is to switch on.

In order to encourage employees to be more curious, leaders need to create “sandboxes” – experimental safe zones – where employees can explore without anxiety. This releases dopamine, activates positive emotions and creates intrinsic motivations, which are much more powerful than extrinsic motivations because they unleash creativity. As an employee, instead of working hard, say, for fear of losing your job (extrinsic), think about being fuelled by your own enthusiasm and curiosity (intrinsic). Instead of being skeptical at the start, lean into exploration and push experiments further.

Unfortunately, millions of dissatisfied employees show up to work each day and leave their best ideas at home. Remember, they don’t do this by choice. It’s a rare university grad that signs up to a boring workplace where curiosity and playfulness are punished.

Curiosity leads to experiments, and experiments create action. Our brains like action. Dan Gilbert makes a salient point, garnered from robust research in his book Stumbling on Happiness. Broadly, we can learn from our mistakes, but we almost always regret inaction. Our brains are wired to make things look better in hindsight. Which would you regret more: going on holiday to a campsite with broken showers and a mosquito problem, or not going on holiday to the hostel on the beach that upgraded all their guests to a private chalet for the month of July? Gilbert tells us it’s the latter. We’re very good at explaining away unpleasant experiences to feel better. We tell ourselves that it didn’t matter about washing every day with baby wipes, the experience added to the fun. But our brains have a hard time finding the positives from inaction. While most people believe that they will regret bad actions much more than bad inactions, the reverse is true. Many people are hesitant to try things we’re unsure about, but when we do them, we usually see them positively, even if it didn’t work out. Seize the day and remember how much you’ve learned from your mistakes.