10 Things Successful People Know About the Road to Success

Many people think that the road to success is a paved Super Highway.  In reality, it is an off road experience!  Here are the 10 Things Successful People Know About the Road To Success:


  • You won't find a well marked exit ramp.  You have to create your own.
  • You won't find signs that point the way.  Usually you discover those when you look back on your journey.
  • You won't be competing for a space in the flow of traffic, because there are no traffic jams where you are going.
  • You won’t typically run into detours predetermined by others.  Obstacles may restrict your progress, but that’s to be expected.  You will reroute and navigate through unfamiliar places.
  • There won’t be any convenient rest areas.  But, it will be important to take advantage of those great “view points” along the way and appreciate the new perspectives you’ve gained.  So make sure to take a break and recharge.
  • You won’t be restricted by a speed limit.  Go as fast as you like.  Just keep in mind that most successful people will tell you that the journey takes time.  
  • You won’t find a “carpool” lane.  However, significant success comes quicker when you include others that share the vision for a more desirable future.
  • It is acceptable to ask for directions.  But make sure you ask people who know what it’s like to have mud on their shoes.
  • You won’t find a bridge where there is deep water.  Don’t wait for the government to provide one, build your own.
  • You won’t find a well lit tunnel when you come to the mountains that stand between you and the horizon.  Just put yourself in gear and start climbing!


Now here comes the reality check: IMAG1324

If you can reach your sales goals in the next 30 days by playing it safe, you’re selling yourself short of your potential!

If your goal is to create a “Wow, I wasn’t expecting that!” Customer Experience and to gain a long term relationship for your business, you have to do what your competition isn’t dreaming of or willing to do.

If you want to get referrals (word of mouth marketing) from super satisfied customers, you have to go the extra mile for them and then ask for the referral.

It will be uncomfortable and bumpy at times.  Do what you already know you need to do, but kept putting it off because your comfortable or concerned about what others might think.

If you want to reach your goals - you have to declare what they are, develop an adventurous spirit and break away from the crowd! 

You can make 2016 the best year ever!  Make the decisions about where you want to go and who you want to be, take ahold of the wheel and get off the highway. 

Time to Get Focused on What You Want to Do

What do you want to do?

I remember Zig Ziglar speaking to a crowd of business leaders and he asked the question: “Do you tend to get more done the day before you leave on vacation, than on any other day?”  The audience members looked at each other, nodding their heads and laughed.  Of course we do.  The reason is two fold.  First, we are anticipating something desired and enthusiasm triggers energy.  Second, we become exceptionally focused on the work that is essential.

TAP INTO THAT ENTHUSIASM.  Your vacation may not be scheduled for tomorrow, so you can't tap into that enthusiastic energy.  That's not a problem.  Identify another goal or reward that makes you smile - something that you can enjoy in the next few days - and get it on the calendar.  The anticipation is a form of inspiration.  (Oh, before I forget, do you have a vacation planned for this year?)  

GET EXCEPTIONALLY FOCUSED.  One of the tools you can use effectively is the minds "priority filter".  You focus on what is and is not essential.  You do what must be done and schedule what can wait.  Notice that I said schedule, not put off.  You also filter the interruptions. The phone calls and emails are briefly prioritized, responded to or delegated.  The person who drops by just to chat is politely acknowledged and redirected.  Exceptional productivity starts with an exceptional focus. 

Get Promoted Today!

You can have a promotion today!  Would you like to move from the position you currently hold to a new one with greater authority, responsibility and respect?  And with that promotion comes greater benefits, rewards, and a pay raise!  I know this is going to sound like a fantasy, but you can do it without having to talk to anyone to get their permission.  There is no need to process an official request.  Just give yourself a promotion today!

Here is how you do it - promote yourself.  Make the decision that you are going to do the job you have now, better than you have ever done it before.  You are going to exceed the expectations  and do a fantastic job.  The result?  Promotion potential!

How do you promote yourself?

-- Do more than what is expected.

-- Tell your customers what you can do and deliver!  Don’t tell them what you used to do or how things used to be managed.  Just get to it and do it!

-- If you have a good suggestion, make the suggestion.  Don’t reference that idea to any prior experience or your previous employment.  If the idea is worthy of merit, it will be recognized for its value.

-- If you want the opportunity to advance -- take the initiative.

Do these things and you are going to be noticed by those who make the decisions and can give the official promotion.  

Now you may not get the official promotion today, but your actions will produce a winners attitude in your habits and those habits will begin to create positive results.  Here are three quick ideas that will help you sustain a performance worthy of notice:

  1. Work all morning as if tomorrow is the first day of your vacation.
  2. Give yourself a reward each time you accomplish a task ahead of schedule.
  3. Keep this quote in mind:  “Promote yourself but do not demote another.”  Israel Salanter

~ Steven Iwersen


What You and Olympic Athletes Have In Common

The Olympic athletes inspire us with their remarkable accomplishments. They push themselves to the very edge of their talents and training, hoping to be on the winners podium.  And what inspires me most is not that the winners are better than the rest, but that every athlete won the right to be in the International competition because of one common denominator.  And this common factor is evident among winners and successful people in every arena of life.  However, it is not always obvious to the spectators.

When I ask people to describe the reasons for a person’s success, the words that are most often mentioned are:  integrity, consistency, self disciplined, character, and hard worker.  All are good qualities and important; but one word is often missing from the list.  That word is - commitment.  

Commitment is the hidden element of success that comes disguised in the more obvious of admirable character qualities.   

When you observe a person that exemplifies integrity, they are that way because of a commitment to do the right thing.  A consistent person has made a commitment to be dependable and trustworthy.  Self discipline is the evidence of prior commitments.  This is the nature of those we call winners.  This is the common denominator among those who succeed.

The athletes we admire and celebrate have followed through on their personal commitments.  The leaders we trust are those who keep their commitments.  The co-workers you respect are most likely the ones who are committed to performing at the leading edge of their talents and training.  

What commitments are you making today that will make you a winner?  Do you have any commitments that need to be strengthened? You can unlock your potential for success in every area of your life when you take your commitments seriously.


Steven Iwersen is a Leadership Development Expert and Keynote Speaker.


The Necessity of Leadership

"It is no use saying 'we are doing our best.' You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary."  - Winston Churchill

 These are certainly uncertain times. 

Leaders around the world, in every business (large and small) know that the success of their organization depends on how they respond to the circumstances and keep focus on the things that are absolutely vital for sustainability as well as future growth.

I talk with business owners and executives every day.  Each one, without exception, has a crowded schedule full of seemingly important demands.  And yet, a small percentage of these leaders have a skill that sets them apart from the throng.  These are the women and men who have learned to discern the necessary issues from the tasks of "just good enough."  Spend only a few minutes with this select group and you will discover that they are extremely committed to doing what they do best.  But there is something more that makes these people true leaders -- their devotion to accomplishing what must be done!

Churchill suggests that doing our best is not good enough.  You can do your best at all the wrong things and fail miserably.  Do what is necessary and finish it well - that is success.

Learning to be devoted to the necessary is not an easy task.  It runs contrary to popular culture.  But those who dare to challenge the status quo, giving more than their best, those are the ones most admired.  The moment you choose to go beyond your comfort zone into the victory zone is that moment you make a leadership decision and give whole hearted effort to what must be done.

Look at your responsibilities today and ask yourself, "Is this absolutely necessary?"  You will discover a new freedom and a renewed efficiency when you focus on the most important.  Often the difference between doing our best and doing what is necessary is simply following through and doing what is right, at the right time, for the right reasons!

Leaders ViewPointe:

1)  By all means, I will do my best.

2)  I will qualify each task, appointment, or meeting by asking first, "Is this necessary?"  Then I will ask, "Is it my priority or responsibility?"

3)  I will do what is necessary first.  Even if it is difficult or unpopular.

4)  Leadership is the art of being intentional.

Be confident today.  Inspire confidence in others. 

Reading the thoughts and influence of Winston Churchill during times such as these could be very helpful for leaders who desire to keep a proper focus.  Check out these great Churchill links:

I am looking forward to hearing of your leadership victories. -  Steven Iwersen



Starbucks Leadership Says Its Time To Close The Doors!

We just returned from a weekend in Seattle. The weather was incredible - sunny!  The experience was spectacular!  And Starbucks was everywhere!  That is not an exaggeration.  Everywhere you turn a Starbucks is there to welcome you.

The original Starbucks store in Pike Place Market (opened in 1971) has not changed much over the years.  The decor, coffee, staff and experience are much the same. However, the Starbucks Company has been going through some significant changes in the past few months.  Driven mostly be a drop in stock values, the Board of Directors chose to put Founder and past-CEO, Howard Schultz back in the top leadership position.  Howard is a leader with a passion; a passion for coffee, empowerment and community.  Watch during the next few months and you'll see the changes unfold right there in your favorite Starbucks!

The most obvious shift you will see is a renewed focus on the basics – the basics that made Starbucks a household name and changed the way we “experience” coffee.  It is no longer a tin can commodity it is a vital part of community.  What basics will Starbucks CEO expect the company to embrace?  Coffee expertise, consistency, employee empowerment and training, and the customer experience known as the “third place”.   Schultz sees these things as non-negotiable.  They are the essence of a relationship that he believes must be established with the employees, in order to enhance the relationship with the customer.  As  Becky Carrol stated in her blog, "Starbucks is putting its employees front and center in their effort to transform the customers experience."

We don't have to look far to understand what is driving this leader.  Howard Schultz wrote in his book Pour Your Heart Into It (1997) the following:

"There is no more precious commodity than the relationship of trust and confidence a company has with its employees."

"The head of a company can't, and shouldn't always be the cheerleader.  He has to be willing to let his people see the weaknesses and the pain, as long as they understand them in the context of the company's greater accomplishments.

When the chips are down, it's wrong to give a rah-rah Knute Rockne speech. People want guidance, not rhetoric.  They need to know what the plan of action is, and how it will be implemented.  They want to be given responsibility to help solve the problem and the authority to act on it."

These are great insights.  It is easy to say, harder to implement.  Vision is important for employees to understand, but it is equally vital that they be given an action plan and permission to pursue it.  Great leadership recognizes when to talk, and when to deliver!  Solutions are not always found in one more motivational talk, but in the opportunities of empowerment.  (In the Seattle Post-Intelligencer you can read Howard's memo to the employees for more insight into his commitment to them and his openness to their input.)

Are you ready for this?  Starbucks is getting ready to close the doors.  On February 26, 2008  over 7,100 stores around the nation will intentionally lock the doors at 5:30 p.m. and cease operations.  Don't panic, this is only for a few hours.  The purpose: to train and revisit the basics as well as ideas for improvement.  Will it result in a better cup of coffee?  Probably, but more importantly it will create a better sense of responsibility and ownership among the employees for the experience you and I have on a daily basis.

Melissa Allison, reporter for the Seattle Times wrote in the February 12, 2008 edition:

In an interview last month, Schultz said he was committed to "reinvent and reinvest in training the likes of which we have not done."

"I think our people are the reason we've been successful," he said.

"The equity of the brand is based on the experience they create, and we want to unleash that creativity and that passion.  They have it.  We just have to give them the tools and the resources for it to come out."

Leaders ViewPointe:

  1. Change is inevitable.  Successful leaders create stability during times of change by helping everyone get focused on the essentials that make the company great.
  2. The leader has a passion that is well-stated and well-worn through personal application.
  3. Growth leaders in every industry know and build on the truth that trust and confidence in the relationships are the key to a healthy organization.
  4. The greatest solutions and sustained growth comes from building opportunities through the right training.  (According to Joseph Michelli Starbucks consistently invests more in training, than it does in advertising.)
  5. Great leaders communicate with clarity - not just vision but also plans.  They are also open to the insights of those they lead.

Howard, I raise my Pike Place Starbucks mug to your success!

Send me a note or comment about your thoughts on the above ViewPointe's by clicking on the Headline above.

Don't Settle For Something Less Than The Possible - Part 1

"I have discovered that the successes of my life depend greatly upon my commitments and the failures are directly influenced by my compromises!" - Steven Iwersen

Bertrand Russell, the British philosopher, thought that most men and women would consider life to be "a long second best" because of an ongoing compromise between the ideal and the possible.  I would agree that the majority of our disappointment is the result of compromise.  But I do not believe that it is somewhere caught between the ideal and the possible.  The real compromise is settling for something less than the possible!

We all have our ideals.  Sometimes they are a great measure different than what is possible.  We may set our standards for something that is ideal; and in the striving to reach that level discover that what is possible is in reality two or three notches below the ideal.  We can become discouraged and defeated in our minds - believing that we'll never be able to reach the ideal.  This is the most dangerous point.  If we give up on what is possible and settle for something that is less - that is the compromise that ushers us into the second best.

Compromise is the opposite of commitment!  It disintegrates the possibilities.  What can be a reality in life falls victim to a false belief that it can't be achieved - so why try.  When we surrender our commitments to the conditions of compromise we settle for less than what is possible.  And I can guarantee you that the results will include: dissension, disappointment and discontent.

Leaders ViewPointe:

  • Don't settle for second best.
  • Keep your focus on what is possible.
  • Your success today depends on the strength of your commitments.

Part Two of this conversation about commitments will reveal a simple way to build your personal resolve.  In the mean time, click on the title above and share your thoughts about how compromise impacts your leadership environment.

A Disney View On What It Takes To Succeed

The secret to making dreams come true?  Curiosity, confidence, courage, and constancy."  - Walt Disney

Dreams, goals, ambitions, objectives and challenges.  It doesn't matter what you call them.  The things that stir our thoughts, keep us awake during the day and inspired while we sleep, demand some kind of action.  Dreams, the kind that prompt us to be more than we currently are, stretch us to a place of discontent.  We cannot go back to existing like we always have.  Once sparked by an idea or desire, we are drawn into a grand scheme and feel a compulsion to do something about the dream.

Sadly, many people only dream and then foolishly hope for it to magically come true.  That may be because of misleading inspiration, such as:

When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires will come to you

If your heart is in your dreams, no request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star as dreamers do

Like a bolt out of the blue, fate steps in and sees you thru
When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true

Wishing is fun; but dreams only come true when you take the right actions that move you closer to the reality.  Take a closer look at Walt's success philosophy and see how it fits your current dreams.

Curiosity - This is where dreams begin.  This is the proverbial "drawing board."  Every invention, modern or antiquated, is the product of curiosity.  For every new convenience you and I enjoy, some one has dared to ask, "I wonder what would happen if..."  And the dream begins.  Your path to new solutions and exciting adventures begins in that exhilarating moment when you shift your thinking from critical mentality to creative possibilities!  Go ahead, ask what could be. 

Confidence - Confidence is trust and hope.  The conductor of a train was walking through the passenger cars collecting tickets.  He happened upon the Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.  The Justice could not find his ticket and became very upset.  He looked through all his pockets and bags.  No ticket.  He emptied his wallet.  No ticket.  The conductor tried to ease the situation, "Sir, don't worry.  I know who you are and I know that when you reach your destination the ticket will be found.  You can mail it to us."  His kind words did not comfort the Justice.  In fact, he seemed to be more agitated then before.  And he replied, "My good man, my problem is not - where is my ticket? The problem is where am I going?"

Confidence is the trust that you know where to go and the hope that you will arrive!  To make dreams come true you need to have confidence in your self, your abilities, and in other people who can help you get where you hope to go. 

Courage - This is  what makes the dreamers become the doers.  Courage is the ingredient that gets dreams off the drawing board.  What good would Walt Disney's dreams and sketches of Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs be today if he had not tried to put them on the big screen?  No one else had ever attempted such a risky venture.  While Hollywood called out "Lights, Camera, Action!" he had the courage to act on his belief.  Dreams + Courage = Action!

Constancy - It is not a new concept.  The winners in life are not always the people who can sprint to the front of the line.  Most often the winners are those who don't give up.  You can count on set backs and delays.  Sometimes you have to go back to the drawing board.  The adjustments you make to the little things along the way are what eventually produce the bigger picture.  Your dream may take a while to come true -- make sure it is a dream worth your life time!

Leaders ViewPointe:

  • Which element of Disney's "secret" do you feel is your strength - Curiosity, Confidence, Courage or Constancy?  Why do you believe that is your strength?
  • Which one of these dream builders do you need to "animate" because it gets pushed aside when things get hectic?  What will you do to keep this in motion?
  • Remember: All four must be in the "picture" in order for your goals / dreams to be realized. 

Click on the Title above to respond or comment on this blog.  Leaders ViewPointe is for leaders to exchange ideas, challenges and dialog about current leadership issues.  What current issues would you like Steven to address in the next few months?  Let us know at [email protected] .

For more info on Walt, check out this article from Time Magazine.  It provides some great insight as to the value of his quote above.

More details into his life can be found on Wikipedia

For more on curiosity, check out Jim Canterucci's thoughts on the subject.

John Maxwell on Confidence.

Self Leadership

Leadership is not simply the task and responsibility of leading other people or setting the course for a groups success.  It must also include the determination and responsibility of self leadership.  A leader that expends all their time in the pursuit of leading others, building a company or creating a vision for a better future; and yet, spends no time in examining their own personal well being, will discover too late how off course they truly have become.  Great leadership must start with personal decisions and disciplines that keep the leader authentic, approachable and adventurous.

Step for a few moments into the musty cabin of your thoughts.  There on the desk is a brown leather book, the corners crumpled and smudged with the frequent thumbing of the pages.  Open it respectfully and read the hand scribbled notes on the first page.  The thoughts of self leadership...

"I am the captain of my own ship.  No one else can command her.  I am the only one responsible for this vessel.  I am the one who determines her ports of call, when she sails, and where.

Destinations vary.  Some are familiar.  Some are uncharted waters.  And a few are beyond the horizon. I choose the direction.  And once a destination or direction is chosen, I am the one who chooses to stay the course or divert.

No one is allowed on board without my permission.  No cargo may be stored without my clearance.

The condition of my ship -- it's cleanliness, repair, appearance and readiness is a direct result of my attention.

Morale on board my ship is directly related to my disposition and choices.  My "inner" crew, (the officers: mind, attitude and heart) take their lead from me.  If I am of a foul mood and run aground in poor attitude, they begin to reflect that spirit.  However, if I am of good spirit (full sail and flags flying), they rally together for the greatest adventure - in spite of the odds or conditions.

I am the captain of my own ship.  I am in command or I am not.  And if I am not, than my ship is subject to all kinds of influences: impostors, scoundrels, negative men, winds of pessimism, torrents of undisciplined thoughts, breakers of unproven and impatient people, and unfit cargo pirated aboard.  All that which weighs a ship down.  A ship like that eventually sinks or is left tattered and weathered beyond recognition.

I am the captain of my own ship.  I set the course.  Today, I choose to set sail for new lands.  Welcome aboard!

The Secret To Economic Growth - Make A Bigger Pie

Cavett3a_2 Take just a moment and read the following insights written by a wonderful man by the name of Cavett Robert.  This was a note sent years ago to a client of mine.  It has a very special meaning to me today; and its message is still very relevant. 

Cavett titled this: Learning, A Journey, Not A Destination

I keep a cartoon on my office wall showing an ole half-wit farmer standing in the middle of his field with a rope in his hand.  As he scratches his head, looking like a tree full of owls, he can’t remember whether he has lost a cow or found a rope.

Unless we are constantly studying and learning in order to keep pace with changing times we shall soon be like that farmer.  We shall be wondering whether we have lost our economical directional compass or whether we have found ourselves in a new world of circumstances we do not understand.

Success is a journey – not a destination.  When we cease to grow we begin to die.  We cannot train ourselves, put it in a bottle and put it on a shelf.  What was right and plausible yesterday is questionable today and might even be wrong tomorrow.  We cannot operate today with yesterday’s methods and even be in business tomorrow.

-         Cavett

At the end of the note, he had written a personal greeting that said: "Hope all is great with you.”

That truly was the spirit and attitude of this great man.  The article was a true expression of his personal mission and authenticity.  He found simple ways to convey necessary truth, and challenged everyone to take responsibility to improve their lives.  And the personal note at the end revealed his most cherished desire, that things would be “great” for everyone he knew.

What makes this so special for me today?  Cavett Robert was one of the founding members of the National Speakers Association, and NSA has designated November 14, 2007 as the “Spirit of NSA Day.” (Click to see NSA President Marc LeBlanc announcement.)

Spirit of NSA day serves as a reminder to NSA members, encouraging them to:

·        Focus on giving back;

·        Provide genuine support to speaking colleagues; and

·        Take time to connect, help, mentor or refer business to other members without any expectation of reciprocation.

One of Cavett’s favorite ideas was to “make the pie bigger.”  He believed that instead of competing for business, i.e. fighting over a few small pieces of a pie, we should work together to make a bigger pie that would benefit more customers and increase business opportunities for all the members.  Instead of fighting for market share, we should share the market.  It all began with a handful of speakers in 1972. Today, more than 4,000 members of the NSA are experiencing the results of that business model.

Cavett Robert would be 100 years old today.  And I’m positive that if he could offer you a personal note of encouragement, he’d write:

Hope all is great with you!