AuthorRyan Hawk

The Common Denominator of Success

From Albert Gray’s book The Common Denominator of Success

Several years ago I was brought face to face with the very disturbing realization that I was trying to research and explain what it took to be a success in sales, without knowing myself what the secret of success really was. And that, naturally, made me realize that regardless of what other knowledge I might have brought to my job and to others, I was definitely lacking in the most important knowledge of all.
Of course, like most of us, I had been brought up on the belief that the secret of success  is hard work, despite this, I had seen so many people who work hard and don’t succeed and others who succeed without working hard. Because of this, I had become convinced that hard work was not the real
secret, though in most cases it might be one of the requirements.

Given my background and training, I began trying to explain success by reviewing all relative research on such topics as motivation, behavior, performance and job satisfaction. Next, I set out on a voyage of discovery, which carried me through thousands of books, magazine and newspaper articles, biographies and autobiographies. I then conducted numerous empirical research studies in over a 20-year period.
After a time, theory, research results, and hearsay overwhelmed me. Then, one day as I was day dreaming, everything I had done came to focus. My mind focused on the realization that the secret I was trying to discover lay not only in what people did, but also in what made them do it.

I realized further that the secret for which I was searching must not only apply to every definition of success, but since it must apply to everyone to whom it is offered, it must also apply to everyone who had ever been successful. In short, I was looking for the common denominator of success. But this common denominator of success is so big, so powerful, and so vitally important to your future and mine that I’m not going to review all of the writings and research, which have brought me to the common denominator of success. I’m just going to tell you.

The common denominator of success – the secret of success of every person who has ever been successful – lies in the fact that the person formed the habit of doing things that others don’t like to do. It’s just as true as it sounds and it’s just as simple as it seems. You can hold it up to the light, you can put it to the acid test, and you can kick it around until it’s worn out, but when you are all through
with it, it will still be the common denominator of success, whether you like it or not.

Purpose
Why are successful people able to do things they don’t like to do while others are not? Because successful people have a purpose strong enough to make them form the habit of doing things they don’t like to do.

When Top People Slump
Sometimes even the best people get into a slump. When a person goes into a slump, it simply means he/she has reached a point at which, for the time being, the things he/she doesn’t like to do have become more important than the reasons for doing them. And may I pause to suggest to you that when one of your good people goes into a slump, the less you talk about production and the more you talk about “purpose,” the sooner you will pull the person out of the slump.

Habit Is The Key
Now let’s see why habit belongs so importantly in this common denominator for success. People are creatures of habit. Every single qualification for success is acquired through habit. People form habits and habits form futures. If you do not deliberately form good habits, then unconsciously you will
form bad ones. You are the kind of person you are because you have formed the habit of being that kind of person. The only way you can change is through habit.

You Have A Purpose
Here’s what has happened. Your resolution or decision has become a habit and you don’t have to make it on this particular morning. The reason you seem like a different person living in a different world is because you have, for the first time in your life, become master of yourself and your likes and dislikes. This is done by surrendering to your purpose in life. That is why behind every success there must be a “purpose,” and that is what makes purpose so important to your future. For in the last analysis, your future is not going to depend on economic conditions or outside influences of circumstances over which you have no control. Your future is going to depend on your purpose in life. So let’s talk purpose.

What Is One’s purpose?
Purpose is something set up as an object or end to be attained. Occasionally purpose is referred to as someone’s personal mission statement. In setting your purpose, or mission statement, first create an imaginary ideal life you would like to live, in every respect. Your ideal life should be based upon who you are and where you are going in life. Let yourself dream big dreams. Let your mind float freely into the future.

Wants Or Needs?
Human beings are motivated by needs and wants. A person’s needs result from a lack of something desirable, such as food, car, clothes, or shelter. Wants are needs learned by the person. They are often seen as emotional or psychological and not practical. For example, people need transportation but want a car instead of a horse or a bicycle. Most people want a luxury car instead of an inexpensive used car or truck. Instead of watching the game on television, some want season tickets. Instead of a five-room house some want a twelve-room house on two acres of land. Instead of working until one’s 80, some want to retire at an earlier time in their life mainly because they have not made their job satisfying for themselves.

Make Your Purpose Based Upon Wants.
Remember, needs are logical while wants are emotional. Your needs only push you just so far. When your needs are satisfied, they will stop pushing you. If, however, your purpose is in terms of wants and desires, then your wants and desires will keep pushing you long after needs are satisfied and until your wants and desires are fulfilled.
Recently I was talking with a young man who long ago discovered the common denominator of success without realizing it. He had a definite purpose in life and it was definitely a sentimental or emotional purpose. He wanted his boy to go through college without having to work his way through as he had done. He wanted to avoid for his little girl the hardships, which his own sister had to face in her childhood. He wanted his wife and the mother of his children to enjoy the luxuries, comforts, and even necessities, which had been denied to his own mother. He was willing to form the habit of doing things he didn’t like to do in order to accomplish this purpose. Not to discourage him, but rather to have him encourage me, I said to him, “Aren’t you going a little too far with this thing? There’s no logical reason why your son shouldn’t be willing and able to work his way through college just as his father did. Of course he’ll miss many of the things that you missed in your college life and he’ll probably have heartaches and disappointments. But if he’s any good, he’ll come through in the need just as you did. And there’s no logical reason why you should slave in order that your
daughter may have things which your own sister wasn’t able to have, or in order that your wife can enjoy comforts and luxuries that she wasn’t used to before she married you.” He looked at me with a rather pitying look and said, “But Mr. Gray, there’s no inspiration in logic. There’s  no courage in logic. There’s not even happiness in logic. There’s only satisfaction. The only place logic has in my life is in realization that the more I am willing to do for my wife and children, the more I shall be able to do for myself.” I imagine, after hearing that story, you won’t have to be told how to find your purpose or how to identify it or how to surrender to it. If it’s a big purpose, you will be big in its accomplishment. If it’s an unselfish
purpose, you will be unselfish in accomplishing it. And if it’s an honest purpose, you will be honest and honorable of it. But as long as you live, don’t forget that while you may succeed beyond your fondest hopes and your greatest expectations, it is impossible to succeed beyond the purpose for which you are sacrificing. Furthermore, your surrender will not be complete until you have formed the habit of doing the things that others don’t like to do.

CONTINUE

Episode 254: Robert Kurson – How To Be A Master Storyteller: Rocket Men, The Most Daring Mission In NASA History

Episode 254: Robert Kurson – How To Be A Master Storyteller: Rocket Men, The Most Daring Mission In NASA History

Robert Kurson is an American author, best known for his 2004 bestselling book, Shadow Divers, the true story of two Americans who discovered a World War II German U-boat sunk 60 miles off the coast of New Jersey. Kurson began his career as an attorney, graduating from Harvard Law School, and practicing real estate law. Kurson’s professional writing career began at the Chicago Sun-Times, where he started as a data entry clerk and soon gained a full-time features writing job. In 2000, Esquire published “My Favorite Teacher,” his first magazine story, which became a finalist for a National Magazine Award. He moved from the Sun-Times to Chicago Magazine, then to Esquire, where he won a National Magazine Award and was a contributing editor for years. His stories have appeared in Rolling StoneThe New York Times Magazine, and other publications.  His latest book is titled, Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man’s First Journey to the Moon.

Episode 254: Robert Kurson – How To Be A Master Storyteller: Rocket Men, The Most Daring Mission In NASA History

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The Learning Leader Show

“I made a lot of money. I bought a BMW, a stereo, a bicycle… All the toys.  And I was miserable.  You can’t hate what you do and be happy.” –> “Writing started with a basic curiosity that would grow into love.  I knew I would do whatever it took to be a professional writer.”

Show Notes:

  • How Rob quickly realized going to Harvard Law School was a mistake
    • “The people who liked being at Harvard Law School are the people I liked the least.”
  • Following that, he got a job at a large law firm in Chicago — “Made a lot of money, bought a BMW, a stereo, a bicycle… And I was miserable”
    • The big corporations/large law firms “punished creative thinking”
  • Writing… “It all started with a basic curiosity that would grow into love.” –> “You can’t hate what you do and be happy”
  • The theme of writing stories — “Freedom… Being unbound.  When I was writing stories, the time would go so fast.”
    • “Whatever it cost me, I was going to get out of practicing law, and be a writer.”
    • “I begged for any job.  I’m incredibly persistent.  I came in on the weekends and took high school football scores as my first job working for a newspaper as a writer”
  • How can others follow their love/passion? “Never give up, do it at night, weekends, refuse to take no for an answer.”
    • “I was unwilling to see my life go that way.  I would never stop trying, no matter what.  There was no choice, that’s what I was going to do.”
  • Key ingredients to being a great story teller?
    • Understand the structure, the arc, the format: inciting incident, challenge, the heroes journey, the battles –> The beginning, middle, and end
    • How the long car rides with his dad gave him a prime example for story telling — “My dad was a travelling salesman and he would often take me with him.  He’s the greatest story teller I’ve ever known”
  • Why write about the Apollo 8 mission? — “They are the first 3 men to leave earth and go to the moon.  The people at NASA say Apollo 8 was the most daring mission of all time.  They orbited the moon 10 times.  It was the most rushed mission in history.”  They needed to beat the Soviets and rushed it because of that and President JFK
  • George Lowe – The NASA manager had the idea to go without the lunar module
  • The 3 astronauts refused to give up.  No matter what happens, they wont’ give up.  Most of the astronauts were fighter pilots in the war.  They developed a psychology that “it won’t happen to me.”  They were fearless.  They had self-delusion and irrational confidence.  That fueled them.  They were not afraid to fail and had already failed many times in their lives
  • Neil Armstrong crashed on a test flight… Just an hour later, he was seen in his office doing paperwork as if nothing happened.  The best astronauts were not phased
  • What Rob enjoyed most — Meeting each of the 3 astronauts.  All 3 are alive and still married (rare in the astronaut program).  They are down to earth, humble leaders
  • Rob describes what it was like flying with Frank Borman
  • What it was like watching Apollo 13 with Jim Lovell (who was also on Apollo 8)
  • The power of constraints — “Deadlines can help us do incredible things.  Construct them for yourself.”
  • Rob’s routine — At desk by 6:00 am and work until 2:00.  “After that, my work isn’t very good.”
    • Structure it first, organize, and storyboard it
    • Take a lot of walks with a digital recorder and speak the story out
  • Rocket Men has been optioned by Netflix

“Deadlines can help us do incredible things.  Construct them for yourself.”

Social Media:

More Learning:

Episode 078: Kat Cole – From Hooters Waitress To President of Cinnabon

Episode 216: Jim Collins — How To Go From Good To Great

Episode 179: How To Sustain Excellence – The Best Answers From 178 Questions

Episode 107: Simon Sinek – Leadership: It Starts With Why

CONTINUE

Want To Cold Email Your Heroes? Read This…

After recording more than 250 episodes of my podcast, The Learning Leader Show, one of the common questions I get from listeners is, “How do you get such high quality guests?”  My consistent reply is “I start by sending them a cold email.”  Their inevitable follow-up is, “What do you write?”  The purpose of my post today is to answer that question.

Get Specific

First, specifically tell the potential guest why their work has made your life better.  Do not simply say “Your work is inspiring.”  Tell them why they inspire you.  For example, when I first sent Jim Collins a cold email, I told him why Good To Great had changed my life.  “Your work helped me understand AND find my personal “hedgehog”. Additionally, I learned and implemented my own “20-mile march” because of what you wrote in Great By Choice. “I learned that my paranoia about my sales quota was actually an advantage and helped me achieve high levels of success because you revealed that high achievers have something called productive paranoia.”  I told him specifically why his work changed my life for the better.

I told him specifically why his work changed my life for the better.

Uncommon Commonality

Find an uncommon commonality — Find something you have in common that will come as a pleasant surprise to this person.  This takes time and research. For example, when I sent a cold email to Adam Grant, (someone who gets thousands of cold emails each week), I did extensive research on his background, (in addition to his books/TED Talks).  I learned that Adam earned his PhD from The University of Michigan.  I happened to have played a game and scored a touchdown in the big house (got called back for a holding penalty after the fact) while I was the quarterback at Miami University my sophomore season. In the email I wrote him, I told him about the game and the touchdown and connected with him on a deeper level.

This part takes time and research, but it will differentiate you from the rest of the typical cold emails they are receiving.

Be Credible

Share information that adds to your credibility.  Some credibility for me that I communicate in each cold outreach: I’ve recorded more than 250 episodes over the last three years… That there have been millions of listeners in more than 134 countries worldwide… Forbes  called it “the most dynamic leadership podcast out there.”  Inc Magazine named it “1 of the 5 podcasts to help you lead smarter.” I will share some of the leaders who have been a guest on my show that may interest them (I tailor the names depending on who I’m emailing).  If you’re just starting out and don’t have that type of credibility built yet, write something notable about yourself (“I traveled abroad and gained incredible perspective, etc).

Ask

Then, make the direct ask in bold. “Would you like to join me as a guest on my show?”

You can tweak the language to your specific ask, but make sure it stands out, so they know exactly what you are asking them to do.… One last note: DO NOT use the phrase, “Can I pick your brain?” Instead, say, “Can I ask you for advice?”  It sounds more appealing (and less creepy).

Gratitude

Next, thank them and ship it.

Results

My response rate has remained high (80%+) and the acceptance of my offer has increased as my show has become more popular.  As with anything, it was much harder at the beginning of this process more than three years ago.  However, following this formula helped me land some incredible guests before I even launched the show (I recorded 22 episodes prior to launch).

Sending cold emails to your heroes can be very rewarding… If you do it right. Developing a friendship and earning respect from people you look up to can truly change your life.  This was discussed on episode #232 of my show.  After cold emailing hundreds of people, recording more than 250 interviews with the world’s brightest leaders, I was able to make my “side hustle (The Learning Leader Show)”, my full-time work at Brixey & Meyer.

CONTINUE

Episode 253: Aubrey Marcus – Total Human Optimization (Own The Day, Own Your Life)

Episode 253: Aubrey Marcus – Total Human Optimization (Own The Day, Own Your Life)

Aubrey Marcus is the founder and CEO of Onnit,  a lifestyle brand based on a holistic health philosophy he calls Total Human Optimization. Onnit is an Inc. 500 company and an industry leader with products optimizing millions of lives, including many top professional athletes around the world.

Aubrey regularly provides commentary to outlets like Entrepreneur, Forbes, The Doctors and The Joe Rogan Experience. He has been featured on the cover of Men’s Health, is the author of the life-coaching course Go For Your Win, and his first book is Own The Day, Own Your Life  from HarperCollins.

Episode 253: Aubrey Marcus – Total Human Optimization (Own The Day, Own Your Life)

Subscribe on iTunes  or Stitcher Radio

The Learning Leader Show

“If you have 5 employees, don’t focus on growing to 180 employees. Focus on #6, and the #7. Just the next one. You must surrender to the process.”

Show Notes:

  • Commonalities of leaders who sustain excellence:
    • Mental Override
      • They are willing to do the thing you don’t want to do (ex. turn the knob to COLD in the shower)
      • Focus on the little things… The little things become the big things
  • Instead of thinking of your life as a whole, focus on making this one day great… OWN the day, own your life
    • Identify the process and structure you need for your ideal day…
    • Do it one day at a time
  • The ability to create you environment and “own your current space” regardless of the environment
  • The difference between 2012 (with 5 employees) and today (180 employees)
    • “Then I did everything, I had to.  Now, I have an incredible team to help.”
    • “If you have 5 employees and you want to grow, don’t focus on 180 employees. Focus on #6, and then #7. Focus on your team and your customers.”
    • “Surrender to the process.”
  • Aubrey is a questioner… Why?
    • “I’m constantly reminded how much I don’t know”
      • “I’m always open to continued learning. I have a curiosity mindset.”
  • “I was down to my last $110K which was loaned to me. If AlphaBrain failed, we were done… Fortunately, it sold out quickly.”
    • The importance of Joe Rogan
  • “I was completely all in.”
  • “Instead of focusing how to be friends with Joe, I focused on who I was as a person… And becoming a person that people would want to have around.” Focus on yourself
    • “The 30 minute coffee with Joe turned in to a 4 hour dinner”
  • “People will detect and know if you’re not genuine” — You must be yourself
  • “Rules are for dogs. Human beings should be driven by morality. By what’s right and wrong.”
    • How about rules at Onnit? — There are some that are necessary (talking about sex, or safety.  Both are important and there are strict rules)
  • Having an open relationship with his fiance, Whitney
    • “I questioned the nature of love. What is true genuine love? How does that look? It’s wild… And challenging.”
    • “This isn’t a fairytale. It can feel like you got struck by lightening in the solar plexus.”
    • “Having an open relationship is not for everyone and I don’t advocate it.  I’m an advocate for understanding relationships.”
  • The importance of writing Own The Day, Own Your Life
    • “All of our work needed to be documented. There are over 300 clinical references in the book.”
    • Process? “You must show up and write… Even when you don’t feel like it. You have to have the mental override.”

“I know nothing. But every day I ask questions and take a seat at the table where Truth likes to have snacks.” – Aubrey Marcus

Social Media:

More Learning:

Episode 078: Kat Cole – From Hooters Waitress To President of Cinnabon

Episode 216: Jim Collins — How To Go From Good To Great

Episode 179: How To Sustain Excellence – The Best Answers From 178 Questions

Episode 252: Tom Peters – In Search Of Excellence

CONTINUE

Episode 252: Tom Peters – In Search Of Excellence

Episode 252: Tom Peters – In Search Of Excellence

Tom Peters is co-author of In Search of Excellence—the book that changed the way the world does business, and often tagged as the best business book ever. Sixteen books and almost thirty years later, he’s still at the forefront of the “management guru industry” he single-handedly invented. What’s new? A lot. As CNN said, “While most business gurus milk the same mantra for all its worth, the one-man brand called Tom Peters is still reinventing himself.”  Tom’s bedrock belief: “Execution is strategy—it’s all about the people and the doing, not the talking and the theory.” (Keep up with Tom at tompeters.com, ranked #9 among “The Top 150 Management and Leadership Blogs.”) His most recent effort, released in April, 2018 is titled, The Excellence Dividend.

The Tom Peters stats: 40 years/3,000+ speeches/50 states/67 countries/5,000,000 people/7,500 flights/5,000,000 miles/18 books plus numerous ebooks/10,000,000++ copies sold/600 syndicated columns/ 3,000 blogposts/75,000+ Tweets/150,000+ Twitter followers/55,400,000 Google hits.

Episode 252: Tom Peters – In Search Of Excellence

Subscribe on iTunes  or Stitcher Radio

The Learning Leader Show

“Excellence is the next 5 minutes… Or not.”

Show Notes:

  • Commonalities of those who sustain excellence:
    • They are “thoroughly decent human beings”
    • They help other people grow
    • They really care about the people they work with and help them get better everyday
  • Quotes from Tom Peters:
    • “Arguably the eight most important words a leader can utter: “THANK YOU.” “I’M SORRY.” “WHAT DO YOU THINK?”
    • “Priority #1, #2, #3: Culture. Culture. Culture. “It IS the game,” Lou Gerstner on IBM turnaround.
    • “My 20-year-old “agile”: WTTMSASTMSUTFW/Whoever Tries The Most Stuff And Screws The Most Stuff Up The Fastest Wins.
    • “Every meeting that does not stir the imagination and curiosity of its attendees is what I like to call a PLO: a Permanently Lost Opportunity. I am all in favor of eliminating unnecessary meetings!”
    • The big corporations/large law firms “punished creative thinking”
    • “You must create space for people to be better than they ever have.”
    • “Excellence is the next 5 minutes… Or not.”
    • “Cost cutting is a death spiral. Our whole story is growing revenue. Are you going to cost cut your way to prosperity? Or are you going to spend you way to prosperity? Over invest in our people, over invest in our facilities.” (Vernon Hill)
  • The key to being a great manager? “MBWA” — “The minute those words came out of his mouth, my life changed (Managing By Wandering Around)
  • The importance of being intentional and thoughtful
  • My Dad is a huge fan of Tom’s work and told me to read his work
  • “Your culture is managed every minute of every day”
  • The process to prepare for your week as the leader (Sunday night work)
  • Start your meetings with “Good morning”
    • “Find a smile, find the energy” –> Your team will follow your attitude and behavior. “It’s your duty to be in a good mood.”
  • How to run a world class meeting?
    • A meeting can and should be excellent” –> It sets the stage for the next 5 days. Think about it and prepare.
      • Will it be an upper or a downer?
    • Should have civility and thoughtfulness –> “No smartassery”
  • The definition of a great teacher is “someone who is desperate to help their students succeed.”
  • How to choose better people to promote?
    • “First line leadership is of supreme importance”
    • “We always hire for character.” –> Theo Epstein: Look at the analytics and combine them with culture and character to decide
  • Training — “Practice should be harder than the games”
    • Neighbors with Bill Walsh — “The Score Takes Care of Itself”
    • He spent the first 18 months as the coach of the 49ers developing a new culture
    • John Wooden — Similar story about culture building
  • Jerry Seinfeld spends six months at very “out of the way” clubs in order to add a new 2 minutes to his stand up routine — Be that deliberate
  • Tom’s training and preparation for a speech (even after doing 3,000+ of them!)
    • Read on the company and the industry in depth
    • Read what’s going on in the world – stay up to date
    • Read about the specific city where the speech is being delivered, read the local paper, pick up little vignettes
    • Awake at 2:00 am rearranging the PowerPoint slides — “I make about 700 changes”
    • How do you feel 30 seconds before you go on stage? “Pure fear, there is enormous pressure for me to deliver for them”
  • Why you should always write thank you notes
    • Campbell’s Soup CEO wrote 30,000 thank you notes
    • Home Depot CEO wrote them every Sunday

“Every meeting that does not stir the imagination and curiosity of its attendees is what I like to call a PLO: a Permanently Lost Opportunity. I am all in favor of eliminating unnecessary meetings!”

Social Media:

More Learning:

Episode 078: Kat Cole – From Hooters Waitress To President of Cinnabon

Episode 216: Jim Collins — How To Go From Good To Great

Episode 179: How To Sustain Excellence – The Best Answers From 178 Questions

Episode 107: Simon Sinek – Leadership: It Starts With Why

CONTINUE