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My favorite post this week went viral on the Business Insider web site with almost 1.4 million views. The article reminded me that the journey of life that we are all on is unique for each of us. There is no magic formula for success. Ultimately, we make the choices on which path to take in our personal future. In many ways, information around us is the food to our thoughts that leads to the choices we make. What we choose to read, what we believe in, how we decide to turn our thoughts into action helps shape the journey.

The 18 tips for success from Richard Branson include:

  1. Don't do it if you don't enjoy it.
  2. Be visible.
  3. Choose your name wisely.
  4. You can't run a business without taking risks.
  5. The first impression is everything. So is the second.
  6. Perfection is unattainable.
  7. The customer is always right, most of the time.
  8. Define your brand.
  9. Explore uncharted territory.
  10. Beware the "us versus them" environment.
  11. Build a corporate comfort zone.
  12. Not everyone is suited to be a CEO.
  13. Seek a second opinion. Seek a third.
  14. Cut ties without burning bridges.
  15. Pick up the phone.
  16. Change shouldn't be feared, but it should be managed.
  17. When it comes to making mistakes, bounce back, don't fall down.
  18. Be a leader, not a boss.

From above list, my top 5 favorites are:

  1. Don't do it, if you don't enjoy it - Life is short and if you are truly enjoying what you are doing on your journey, time will go by faster. While time may be your enemy as there is never enough of it, passion for living each moment to the fullest should be your friend. People who enjoy what they are doing tend to be more creative, aggressive, open to change, boundaryless, mission driven, and exceed expectations in meeting personal and business objectives. As Hall of Fame American football coach Joe Gibbs once said: "People who enjoy what they are doing invariably do it well."
  2. Define your brand - Earlier devoted an entire blog to branding and will keep coming back to this topic in the future. Technology advancements such as the Internet, mobility, and social media are dramatically increasing the importance of branding. These same technologies are making it easier for you to increase the value of your personal brand. That first impression you make on Linkedin and Twitter and the strong virtual relationships around them are some of the building blocks for your brand. Heed the words from Starbucks founder Howard Schultz, "Customers must recognize that you stand for something."
  3. Explore Uncharted Territory - The days of getting up in the morning, going to work from 8 to 5, coming home and disconnecting from the world are over. The new formula of success requires that you constantly improve your skills and explore uncharted territory. Job content is changing daily as new technologies displace more mundane tasks. Want to remain valuable, then make it mandatory to continuously explore improvements in all aspects of your life. As Sophia Loren once said, "After all these years, I am still involved in the process of self discovery. It is better to explore life and make mistakes than to play it safe. Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life."
  4. Pick up the phone - Increasingly my least favorite methodology for communication is email. Too easy to take out your frustrations on email, deliver impersonal content, and make the conversation much more challenging. As a quick side note, try these two approaches to minimize any damage from impersonal email communications. Implement the 24 hour rule when you are really upset and want to send that aggressive response, i.e. write it as a draft and hold it for 24 hours. If you use Outlook, set up a two minute delay in sending each email. Those two minutes can help you recover if you forget that additional thought or want to revise the content. Above all, pick up the phone. A live conversation will minimize personal emotion and give you a chance to "listen" for opportunities to improve whatever the challenge was in the first place. As Benjamin Franklin once said, "The great secret of succeeding in conversation is to admire little, to hear much; always to distrust our own reason, and sometimes that of our friends; never to pretend to wit, but to make that of others appear as much as possibly we can; to hearken to what is said and to answer to the purpose."
  5. Be a leader, not a boss. - Leadership is not telling people what to do. Leadership is about inspiring the people around you to exceed their own personal achievements. Understanding how those personal achievements contribute to the results of the overall team form the foundation for great collaboration. Make everyone around you feel that they have a personal stake in the success of the team and of the company. As American writer / management consultant Peter Drucker once said, "Leadership is not magnetic personality--that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not making friends and influencing people --that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person's vision to higher sights, the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations."

Want to be successful? Analyze the positive success formulas of others, but create your own unique journey. Listen to Ralph Waldo Emerson when he said that "Life is a journey, not a destination." With passion, always enjoy the ride of life, but at each step, analyze your progress, adjust the message intake, learn from mistakes, have no regrets, and fine tune your strategies to positively keep moving forward.

"Carpe Diem" today by creating your own personal formula for future success.

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This week's post is dedicated in memory of John Servansky.

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