5 Things That Separate Successful People From Everyone Else

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By Bradley Stockwell

Marketing Director Merchant Capital Source

As I’ve said several times before, bettering your business begins with you. Every investment in yourself is an investment in your business. If you’re looking to transform yourself into a successful business owner and entrepreneur, you need to begin acting and thinking like one—and it’s not easy. In some cases it can mean some major life and brain hacking, but once you’ve made these transformations, you’ll wonder how you ever operated any other way. If you don’t know where to begin, you’re in luck. After reading hundreds of articles, biographies, advice columns and using myself as a guinea pig, I’ve narrowed down the five essential things successful people do that others don’t. After all this research and testing you’ll be surprised to learn there’s no great secret. Success comes down to five simple things that you most likely know you should already be doing.

1. They Read More & Watch Less Television

All great thinkers and innovators read and I can’t express the difference it’s made in my life personally as someone who was once a very casual reader. If there’s one thing you take away from this post, I insist it is this. While it may be hard to start, once you’re in the habit you’ll find it’s much more fulfilling than other forms of media because neurologically it’s the healthiest thing you can consume. Numerous studies have shown reading requires, stimulates and strengthens several regions of the brain.

Television on the other hand has shown to decrease brain activity in regions that are particularly important to business owners. When watching television, brain activity switches to the right side of the brain. This is significant because the left side of the brain is responsible for logical thinking and critical analysis. It also decreases activity in your frontal lobes which is responsible for decision making. Brain scans have shown that when people watch television brain activity mirrors that of someone under hypnosis. Maybe all those rumors of television being used as a brainwashing device have some merit. While I’m not saying to stop watching television altogether it’s good to practice moderation and be selective with the programs you consume.

2. They Sleep

While it may be tempting, and sometimes necessary, to tack a few more hours onto your busy day you should calculate the repercussions sleep deprivation can have on productivity, not to mention health.

Studies have shown that reducing sleep by even 1.5 hours for one night can reduce flexible decision-making and innovative thinking by as much as 32%! Also when sleep-deprived your perceived exertion level for the same tasks done while fully awake increases by 17-19%.

I myself have read and tried many methods on supposedly how to operate on less than six hours of sleep and found unless you’re superhuman, they simply don’t work. For me personally, sleep is essential to my creative process. Some of my best ideas have come from my dreams or middle-of-the-night epiphanies. While the amount of sleep needed varies for everyone, sacrificing it for productivity, in my opinion, is counterproductive. So sleep—you’ll be healthier, happier and much more successful.

3. They Learn

Although you may not be in school anymore, there’s no reason why learning should stop. In fact I’ve found learning to be much more enjoyable outside the confines of formal education because I can learn what I want, when I want and how I want. And it doesn’t always have to be a business-related education; learning anything new creates new neural pathways in the brain and as I’ve said previously, the more neural pathways your brain has available the better it works.

Granted this doesn’t mean learning about the latest celebrity gossip is just as valuable as learning how to play an instrument. I’m sorry to tell you, but if it doesn’t feel like your brain is stretching it’s not. The reason why something is perceived as challenging is it requires you to alter your way of thinking, or neurologically speaking, to create new neural pathways.

While this is difficult, finding something you’re curious about is a great motivator. And you’ll find the more you challenge yourself, suddenly the easier and more enjoyable it becomes to learn new things. Intelligence in my opinion is much more an exercise than a gift. While you may think you don’t have enough time to educate yourself, I began dedicating just my lunch break to learning and in the last year I’ve learned how to play the piano and taught myself enough courses in physics to keep a regular blog on it. The world is a wonderful and mysterious place and I encourage you to poke and probe at it as much as possible.

4. They Write

Something you’ve probably noticed if you keep up with business publications is that most successful business owners and CEO’s write. Whether it’s in a journal, book, blog, or guest article, they do this for two reasons. One being that writing is simply a great cathartic release and the other to retain information they’ve learned.

Writing is great for your mental and emotional health. Keeping a journal can give you a safe place to vent stress and process problems. Studies have also shown it improves creativity, self-esteem and memory retention. Like reading, this can be difficult to start but I think what most people get caught up on (or at least I did at first) is that you have to make an entry every day for it to be effective. I’ve found that even one journal entry a week can suffice, however I tend to write more when my life is stressful or eventful.

Writing is also an essential adjunct to learning. It requires you to not only recall something you’ve learned but to also process and analyze its applications. In my opinion, this makes the difference between knowing and understanding something. As Einstein once said, “Any fool can know; the point is to understand.” This is the primary reason I keep regular business and physics blogs whether or not anyone actually reads them.

5. They Exercise & Eat Well

If you want to be a highly productive individual you’re going to need the right fuel. While most people say they don’t have enough time to accomplish the tasks they intend to (so they do counterproductive things like not sleeping enough), the truth most likely is they don’t have the energy to. Just like a race car can’t run off low octane fuel, successful people cannot run off low-grade food. Like any machine, your body is an energy processor and if you input high quality energy, the greater your output will be. As with all these changes it’s difficult at first, but once you make a habit of it you’ll find you’ll actually start craving healthy food over junk.

The second part of this is making your body as energy efficient as possible and that means working out. Once again, don’t get hung up on setting unrealistic goals and think you need to work out every day. You’ll be amazed at what just a little walking, or bicycle riding can do. If you’re close enough to work to commute by these methods, do so. Beginning and ending your day with a little exercise can do wonders.

The biggest nemesis to productivity is stress, hormonally known as cortisol. Your body releases cortisol when stressed and without exercise to burn that cortisol, stress compounds on itself and leads to impulsive behavior and anxiety. Exercise also releases endorphins which help you rationalize problems and increases optimism, energy and memory retention—not to mention you’ll live longer. Also while exercise may be physically exhausting, mentally it is relaxing. Treat it as your alone time to distress from work and home life.

 

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How The Great Recession is Changing American Business For The Better

Toyota Says It's Not Considering Additional Tesla Investment

By Bradley Stockwell

Marketing Director Merchant Capital Source

It’s true; money doesn’t make the world go round—conservation of angular momentum does. However, history doesn’t mark itself by Earth’s rotations but by the movements of the economies that create it. So yes, with this perspective, the cyclical movements of history are governed by money. As a physics student, I enjoy drilling things down to their foundations and at the bedrock of every change in history you’ll typically find the economy. Trends, fashion, technology, music, art, politics, war—are all reflections of the economy. Why is that? Because we as a general society identify ourselves with the way in which we earn a living and when that changes, it has a trickledown effect on everything else in our lives.

The recession marked the end of one era and the beginning of a new and (call me optimistic) better era. Adapting to the recession emboldened us to step out and find smarter ways of making a living; to finally change the many things that led us into the recession anyhow. Thanks to the internet, more people are starting businesses and launching new ideas now than ever. Online crowdfunding has given a platform on which to present and fund ideas and the online business is a cost-effective solution to sell that idea. Great things happen when massive amounts of people start pursuing their dreams—new industries are created (including the alternative lending industry in which I’m currently employed in), business practices are improved and technology advances. In the last five years there’s been an explosion of entrepreneurs and small business owners—many of whom were victims of the recession, who are shaping a better and smarter economy. Thanks to social networking, there’s been a great shift towards the empowerment of the individual; whether it be the products we buy, the media we consume, or most importantly the jobs we hold—every facet of our lives is now becoming individualized. Companies are beginning to see the benefit of having an open ear to not only their consumers, but also their employees, giving rise to a new type of entrepreneur; the intrapreneur. In fact entire business models are now shaped around the intrapreneur such as the ‘sharing industries’. Companies like Uber and Airbnb are allowing people to use their existing resources, like their car and home, to earn a part time or full time living; helping the economy boost itself on its own terms. Not to mention they are also improving the taxi and hotel industries by forcing them to adapt to this new influx of competition. These symbiotic business models, where the company, the employees and consumers all benefit, are precursors for how I think American business will look in the next ten years.

It’s an exciting time to be alive. I believe we are at the beginning of a great change in humanity because of changes happening in the business world. As I stated earlier, when the economy changes everything else soon follows. We’re starting to realize the value of open-sourced sharing of information and the empowerment of individuals. While these seem like conflicting concepts, they’re not. Both need each other in order to create a competitive atmosphere and we, especially as Americans, know competition drives advancement. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, SpaceX and Solar City, is the embodiment of this idea and I believe the archetype for the 21st century CEO. Every patent Tesla Motors held was recently released for ‘free use’ to drive the progression of electric car technology. Not only will this certainly spur the success of Tesla, but it will also contribute to the success of a recovering automobile industry and will combat the now present threat of climate change due to carbon emissions. Not to mention Tesla’s direct-sales model is also trying to kill everything we hate about buying a car from a dealership. See everybody wins—the company, the industry, the consumer and humanity.