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. 

How to Manage a "Not My Job" Attitude and Be More Successful (Part 4)

In this brief series on how to manage a "not my job" attitude, we've discovered that business leaders use this concept in four very practical ways in order to be sustainably successful.  (Check out the first three methods:  Think Like A CEO,  Inventory Workload & Priorities,  Dominate & Delegate.)  

The fourth method is the one practice that truly separates this leaders from all the rest.

Do What Others Are Not Willing To Do.  

I'm not referring to the tasks, duties that you've delegated.  I'm talking about a forward thinking, proactive behavior that focuses your attention on finding the extra things that create added value to your employees, customers and the company.  These are the things that are not in your job description, but will make a difference for those you serve.  When you have freed up your time by letting go of the things that you shouldn’t do, you will have discretionary time to focus on creation instead of reaction.

My friend, Stephen Shapiro is on a mission to work only one hour a day.  He wrote in his article for American Express Open Forum:

“If you spent only 20 percent of your time extracting 80 percent of the revenue from your existing business model, this gives you 80 percent of your time to do something different.”

What could you do that no one else is willing to do in that 80% of extra time?  All it takes is one meaningful action or one excellent idea to separate you from the crowd.  Your customers will be blown away by the results you provide.  Your employees will be excited to be part of a forward moving agenda.  You will have a new sense of accomplishment and satisfaction because you will no longer be working a job, you will be leading the way.

Go ahead, act like it's "not my job" by practicing these four methods for the next 30 days.  You're going to start getting better results.   

I'm looking forward to your comments about the experience.

--  Steven



How To Manage a "Not My Job" Attitude and Be More Successful (Part 2)

Business leaders that practice a "not my job" attitude start by focusing their thoughts on the most important issues.  The best way to get that focus is to "Think Like A CEO or Busines Owner."  (Check out part one of this series right here -  GO!)  The second method is to:

Inventory Your Workload and Prioritize Your Worth

Here is a practical exercise to help you accomplish this.  Sit down and write out every task, objective, responsibility, expectations of yourself, expectations others have of you, projects, meetings, etc....  You have to have a complete inventory of what you do, should do and what you wish you could do. 

Once you have that completed, set it aside for a couple days. 

Then schedule 20 minutes with yourself (or if you have an assistant include them) and ruthlessly prioritize that list.  Don't over think this exercise.  Put a check mark next to the items that are "strictly your responsibility" or fit solidly within your strengths.  Resist the urge to check off every item.  Leave it alone if it can be done by another person or even automated.  

Create a new list of only those things you checked as priorities. 

Circle 3 to 5 items that you know are your best investment of mental and emotional energy.  These have to be proactive activities that create momentum toward the desired results.  Get focused on your most valued contribution.

Getting your list down to the absolute essentials will help you get up to speed on your greatest worth.

Consider these two questions:  What do you need to view differently if you are going to think like a CEO?  What are the essentials in your workload and expectations?  

If you're getting tired of fighting fires and always having to be in a reactionary posture - get clear on your answers to the questions above.


--  Steven

PS - Stay tuned for third method -  Dominate Your Space, Delegate with Grace.


Six Key Words That Improve A Leaders Influence

IMG_0638The words you use influence the quality of your leadership.  Every single day we are engaged in an exchange of vocabulary.  Somehow the expressions we use forward our cause and produce favorable results.  The words that we hear are just as important, giving us a glimpse into others intentions and understanding.

Words are vital to a leader.  Strong, visionary, disruptive, encouraging, cautionary, and even the unspoken.  The words help us to lead. 

I want to suggest some words that you might not speak aloud, but should keep in mind as you relfect on your responsibility as a leader and the example that you set.  These are words that will enhance your influence and effectiveness.

Activity - a state of action.  A leader is action oriented.

Congruity - consistent and suitable to the priority. A leader is intentional in their actions.

Industry - steady attention to business. A leader is aware of the opportunities and dangers.

Alacrity  - promptness in response, cheerful readiness or prompt, brisk. A leader is responsive.

Priority - most important consideration.  A leader keeps focused on what matters most.

Futurity - future state or time (a future event). A leader thinks ahead.

Does your day to day activity reflect these key words?  Would the people you lead be able to claim that you are a person of these words?

What words would you add to the list that could make for better leadership?

Self-Leadership (Revisited)

(This post is back by popular demand.  Thanks to all you who have shared that it was meaningful in your personal journey.  ENJOY!)

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, IMG_2401 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!

Transitional Leadership: Helping Others Gain Confidence and Competence

It was an incredible day - sunny, just enough wind, and a 40' sail boat.  This was the first time my wife had been sailing.  And it was a big deal.  We were not sailing in a little lake in Kansas, this was San Diego and off the coast of Mexico. Why was this such a big deal?  She's not comfortable with deep water.  But this was her idea. I watched with delight throughout the day as she challenged her fear, transitioning from a tentative seated place in the stern to literally walking to the front of the boat and napping on the bow while we returned to Shelter Island in San Diego Bay.  Her comfort and confidence grew as the captain explained the features of the boat and proved his competence. 

This got me thinking about our role as leaders.  What can we do to help others gain self confidence in the deep waters of change and transition?  What do we need to understand about ourselves during times of transition?

Transitions.  An intriguing word.  The root is "transit."  It implies moving from one place to another.  Transition is the act of going from one point and arriving at a new point.

Sometimes transitions are the dramatic ending of an experience and the beginning of a new one.  At other times the transition is smooth and not at all a conclusion of something, but a quiet shifting of direction.

Whatever the means of your transitions, you are still the same person - same strengths, talents, hopes and fears.  Yes, there are times that the condition of the transition affects our lives and we are influenced by the cause of the change.  For example: a death, a move, a layoff, a divorce or a birth.  These do shape our perspective.  And yet, we are still the same.

If you step from a dock onto a boat, are you suddenly a different person?  No.  You can "transit" your life from a stationary, solid foundation to a new foundation that lifts and pitches according to the waves below.  You have not changed, but your physical experience has.  Your inner person, the core of who you are, did not stay on the dock.  You became fully engaged on the boat.  The transition does not change you.  However, the new experience brings a new point of reference and an opportunity to learn and grow.  That becomes the basis for a transition of mindset, beliefs and behaviors.

What happens on the boat?  Your behaviors change. You intuitively begin to adjust your balance according to the shifting of the physical environment.  On the dock, your body had no need to focus on keeping balance.  But on the boat, the circumstances are in constant change and your actions adjust to those changes.  If you remain rigid and make no adjustments to your personal position in relation to the on going changes, you will probably be tossed overboard.

Now, let's "transit" this understanding to our real world of leadership.  If we become rigid during times of transition, we're going to get tossed around.  However, if we begin to see change as an opportunity to learn new behaviors, the end result will be a greater comfort with new environments and the confidence to stretch a little more beyond our past "dock" experience.  The comfort and confidence we model during times of transition will become inspiration for those we lead - encouraging them to "transit" from the dock into new directions and understanding.  You and I will not be able to model that if we don't step off our own dock once in a while.

"I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it." - Picasso

Leaders ViewPointe:

  1. Challenge my own apprehensions.
  2. Help others overcome their apprehensions by informing them of the features and proving my own competence.
  3. See change as a transition, not a conclusion.
  4. Be willing to adjust to the circumstances and learn new behaviors.

Now it is your turn to step aboard.  What challenges are you seeing in your leadership environment?  What changes are you having to lead others through? 

Click on the "comments" link below, share with me and other leaders what is working as you lead others in times of transit.

(My wife can't wait to go sailing again!)


The Balancing Act of Leadership: Commitments vs Compromise

The pressure is on!  Leaders are expected to get stellar results with fewer staff members, smaller budgets, and longer hours.  If the results fall short of the expectations, customers are unhappy and employers begin to question the leaders abilities or loyalty.  The tension increases and the fine line of compromise begins to encroach upon the finer quality of thoughtful leadership.

Thoughtful leadership is like walking on a tight rope.  Every step you take must be calculated and intentional; all while you balance a long pole in your hands - at one end your people and the other end your profitability.  That pole is always in motion.  At one moment you can feel the pull toward the actions that create profit.  The next moment the balance tips toward the needs of your team.  You cannot allow one end to have more influence over the other.  You need both ends to create a lower center of gravity that allows you to focus on the next goal.  Your success is the result of keeping the pole balanced and moving forward one step at a time.  

Leaders lose their balance and influence when they compromise.  I wrote years ago from my own experience:

“My greatest success is the result of keeping my commitments.  My greatest failures are the result of compromise.”

So how can a leader get the right results while walking that tightrope?  I read a blog this morning by friend Mark Sanborn that sparked my thinking on this issue.  I want you to consider a couple of ideas that he wrote: 

The ongoing question for any leader is “How can we obtain superior results the right way?” Short cuts can derail a leader’s career; they can also bring down entire organizations. Doing the expedient instead of the prudent can put both the leader and the organization at risk.

Best practices are good, but the better strategy is when you pioneer next practices: the kind of strategies and tactics that change the game.


Mark presents 5 outstanding questions that will help you be a thoughtful leader in his blog titled: For Leaders, Result Rule but Methods Matter.  

How are you doing at keeping this balance?  Where do you see compromise jeopardizing the forward motion of your company?  I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

-Steven Iwersen

How to Get People To Like You

Every one of us wants to be liked. 

Likability, like it or not, is a significant quality in personal and professional relationships.  If you have it, you have a greater potential of experiencing a fulfilling life.  If you don’t have it, it feels like you’re stuck and you can’t get ahead.

Yes, I know there are people that seem to be naturally easy to like.  But, likability is not a trait reserved just for those born with a pleasant disposition.  It is a skill that can be learned and mastered by anyone.

Let’s face it - we all enjoy doing business with pleasant people.  We enjoy spending time with people we like.  And, we politely go out of our way to avoid folks that are negative, obnoxious, self-centered, or just generally grumpy.

Which one are you?  

You might be likability-challenged if:

  • You are having a hard time connecting with others
  • You have been told that you need to work on your people skills
  • You attend parties/networking events but don’t mingle well
  • You leave a conversation wondering why you spent all the time talking about how bored, lonely or angry you are about circumstances.
  • People avoid you. 
  • You make excuses to not participate in activities or avoid team work.

Now, don’t blow this off and go look for an article that is more comfortable to read.  This is a critical component to your professional development.  

You can become a likable person.

 If you want to get people to like you, start by honestly asking yourself the right questions.   The TOP 21 LIKABILITY QUESTIONS include:

  1. Am I easy to talk to?
  2. Am I encouraging?
  3. Do I look happy?
  4. Do I greet others before they acknowledge me?
  5. Am I listening to understand or to refute them?

The answers to these questions will reveal how you perceive your self and give you a great starting point for making the changes that will create a more likable you!  It has been said, “If you want to change the world around you, first start by changing the world within you.”

Are you a person that people genuinely like?  

Well, take the next step in the LIKABILITY QUEST:

CLICK HERE for your FREE copy of the LIKABILITY ASSESSMENT and find out where you land in the Four Levels of Likability.  (You get the The Likability Questions, the Score Card and the Likability Scoring Chart which includes the Four Levels.)






Is there a Secret Ingredient for Getting the Leadership Promotion?

Is there a "secret ingredient" for being the candidate of choice for a promotion within your organization?  Are you tired of being the one who is qualified, but mystified as to why you got passed over again for the job?  You do everything that is asked of you, take the intitiative to work on extra projects, and have a great reputation as someone who can be counted upon to get the job done.  You're kind, approachable, considerate and consistent.  You have what it takes to move to the next level.  But someone else less qualified passed you by on the way to the corner office.  

"What more do I have to do in order to be recognized around here?"

The problem may be revealed in that very question.  Could it be that you have gained a solid reputation for your dependability as a doer?  Focusing on doing more might not get you through the next door.  Doing less is obviously not the answer.  And don't start playing the mental / emotional gymnastics of thinking that it might be a problem with your personality or that someone doesn't like you.  That is very unlikely.  Focus instead on what you can do to improve your "executive presence".  

My friend, Sara Canaday, has written a fabulous article for Pyschology Today titled: Do You Have The Leadership X-Factor?  Sara offers some great ideas on how you can refocus and enhance your "executive presence".  I encourage you to read the article.  Here is a quick excerpt:

Believe it or not, the somewhat-elusive skills collectively described as “executive presence” frequently represent the only difference between an outstanding professional who gets marooned in middle management and one who seems to effortlessly rise in the corporate power structure. 

Sara offers 4 specific strategies that can help you tip the scales in your favor.  Those strategies include mapping out a professional developemnt plan, seeking out leadership feedback, redefining your value and seeking leadership roles outside of your current role.  I want to also suggest that all leaders should use those strategies as a way to keep your professional edge.

One last thing I think we should keep in mind: not all people who advance to management roles on their good looks and savy conversational skills can keep up with the work load.  I've met people who appeared to have "executive presence" but did not have the expertise or work ethic to keep up with the expectations.  They turn out to be temporary employees.

Your reputation of dependability and capability is attractive.  Match it now with a focused professionalism and you might not have to apply for the job - you might be asked to consider taking the job.

-  Steven Iwersen

Do what others won't do and you'll get what others don't get...

A Business Lesson from Fishing:

The best fishing spots are not easy to get to.  In fact, there is usually no trail and the surrounding banks are inundated with overgrown bushes and trees.  If you want to get to the best spot and catch the big fish you have to fight your way through the obstacles, wade through rocky rapids, or risk the deep.  There are no paths to the best spots.  If you find a path it will lead you to where everyone else goes.  And that is typically where you get less than desirable results.  I don't want less, I want the best; so I'm willing to go through just about anything to catch a fish. Now I'm wondering, do I apply the same ambition to my business goals or do I look for the well worn path?  What about you?

Get off the path, go look for a place no one has been in a long time.

  • Send a hand written note to a prospect or past client
  • Use the phone and call someone on their birthday to wish them well
  • Unplug or mute the phone and work exclusively for an hour on a priority
  • Ask your employees what you can do to help them reach their goals
  • Give your people permission to explore and introduce better methods
  • Subscribe to a trade journal that is not in your industry
  • Spend an afternoon with leaders who have a different business model or market
  • Go fishing!

Another Ziglarism:  "When we really want to do something, we will find a way to do it.”