The Secret to Selling Your Brand With One Sentence

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You believe in the importance of your vision, but how do you get others to  stop and listen to you? There will be many instances when you don’t have a lot  of time to grab someone’s attention, be it a potential investor or a licensee. That’s why you need to be able to summarize the benefit of your  business idea in a single, powerful sentence — a sentence that is so direct and compelling,  it stops whoever reads or hears it dead in their tracks. A good one-line benefit  statement should make someone think: “I want to know more about that.”

I’ve learned that if I craft just the right sentence, it’s all I need to get  people to listen to my pitch, open my emails and answer my calls. I still remember the  day the iPod launched and Steve  Jobs called it “a thousand songs in your  pocket.” Wow. That’s captivating. He didn’t have to explain any further. We  wanted it already!

People don’t care about how something works.They want to know what it’s going  to do for them.

Newspapers, tabloids, and these days, Twitter have been making use of the headline for years. How often do you find yourself  on a webpage you never intended to visit, all because a headline was so  tempting, you had to click on it? That should give you an idea of what I’m  talking about. Creating excellent one-line benefit statements isn’t an easy  skill, but it’s an important one, because it can be used to explain your idea in  so many different kinds of situations in an attractive, successful way.

Sometimes, you only get one chance to make an impression. Cut through the  clutter to make it count! Here three ways to create an awesome one-line benefit  statement:

1. Make it emotional. Why should people care about what  you have to say? Grab them with something they can relate to. Benefits sell  ideas, not facts. What is your idea going to do for the consumer or the world?  Don’t be afraid to use emotion. People are motivated by their emotions more  often than they are motivated by reason. Emotion also evokes visual imagery —  if people can begin to see your idea, that’s a good thing. Some emotional words  include: “free”, “incredible” and “unbelievable.”

2. Keep it short. Like — really short. I’m talking no  more than 10 to 12 words, ideally less. Remember, you don’t have much time. If  your statement is too long, people may move on before they’ve even finished  reading or hearing it. Don’t be intimidated by using fewer words. This is a  really good exercise in general. Too often, I ask an inventor or entrepreneur to  tell me about his or her idea and I’m overwhelmed with a five-minute speech.  “What is he talking about again?” I find myself thinking. I’m not even sure.  Brevity forces clarity.

3. Use numbers. Numbers convey specificity. Look around  you. Headlines with numbers dominate our world. One has only to look at Buzzfeed to understand the power of numbers.

Here are some examples of one-line benefit statements my students and I have  used with great success in the past:

  • “The most versatile organization system available.”
  • “The store all, carry all, go anywhere  elevated pet feeder.”
  • “This label will increase space on your  packaging by 75 percent.”

Try out potential statements on everyone you know. Which one has the greatest  impact? Ask for feedback. Then, start using this line all over the place. When  someone asks: “So what is it you’re working on again?” you will have a great  answer! – Stephen Key

Don’t Lose Your Year-End Bonus! Maximize It By Becoming An Intrapreneur

MoneyHere is some little-known information, and an innovation tool, that will help you get rewarded for your actions.

An intrapreneur is an internal entrepreneur. As an intrapreneur, you must begin to think and act like an owner or senior executive, even though you were originally hired to perform within a more narrow job description, which you’re probably already doing well enough. The purpose of this article is to help you immediately do one thing outside of your current assignment that will add surprising value to the company, thus qualifying you for a maximum year end bonus, or pay raise, or maybe even a promotion (if you can make this a habit). Sound good? Let’s go.

Intrapreneurs are innovators. They bring positive change in areas critical to the success of the organization. As an intrapreneur, you create value by innovating in one of four ways. You can:

  • Increase Revenues
  • Decrease costs
  • Streamline processes
  • Solve problems

Innovation opportunities abound in every organization, and you can engage in one of them right now through a simple, four-step process.

Step 1. Identify an innovation option that would add value. Look around. Ask your peers, subordinates, and superiors. Go online and explore these topics. It should take you about ten minutes to identify something that could be improved. We have taken thousands of people through this process in training sessions, and we have never seen a group come up short on innovation ideas.

Step 2. Create a professional-looking innovation proposal. You can do this using a free online tool that will make you look like a financial genius. This tool will automatically calculate key financial measures such as Implementation Cost, Break Even Point, Return on Investment, Internal Rate of Return, Net Present Value, and Sales Equivalency. If the numbers don’t look good, don’t submit the proposal. If there is value in your idea, you will have provided all of the financial information necessary for management to accept it.

Step 3. Get your proposal approved. I suggest that, rather than taking your idea to your direct supervisor, you should aim higher in the ORG chart. Minimally, you should take it to you boss’s boss, but the higher the better. That’s because there tends to be greater appreciation for business improvements with upper management. Also, when senior leaders recognize you for your intrapreneurial contributions, it’s easier for your boss to support your increased compensation. An alternate strategy would be to work together with your boss on your idea so you can share the credit and build a more collaborative relationship that will serve you both well in the future.

Step 4. Help implement your innovation. Improvement ideas are worthless without execution; therefore, you should act with a sense of urgency to turn your innovation proposal into real change that starts to add value. In cases where the implementation is assigned to someone else, or the time required to make the change is longer than you would like, you should still benefit from your efforts come bonus time.

Bottom line: Leaders need intrapreneurs that can improve the bottom line. You can do this right now to help ensure your year-end bonus, and you should also consider becoming a life-long intrapreneur in order to boost your career in the long run. -Forbes Magazine

Five Ways To Be Amazing At Work

StarIn every company, there are a few employees who stand out. They’re the ones who always finish first, get recognized for their accomplishments and eventually make their way up the ranks. Invariably, they know how to play the political game. But there are other qualities that world-class performers have in common. Here’s how you can be one of them.

1. Be obsessed with productivity. The best employees tend to work in jobs and businesses they love. As a result, thoughts of how to be more successful and productive rarely leave their mind. In fact, the great ones have to force themselves into non-work activities just to give their mind a chance to rest and recover.

2. Solve problems. Problem solving is the cornerstone of commerce. Average employees tend to spend more time jockeying for position to gain favor from their superiors than they do solving problems. Great ones are not interested in management kudos; they are interested in results. World-class managers and employees solve problems quickly and move on to solving bigger, more complex problems, whether individually or as part of a team.

3. Take risks. The most common commodity in corporate America is the sales manager who craves the approval and friendship of his sales team. The second most common commodity is the sales manager who rules her team with an iron fist, refusing to consider feedback or input from the field.

World-class leaders are neither dictators nor micromanagers. Instead, they have two primary objectives: increase revenues and bring out the best in the people they lead. That might mean being unpopular and pushing people beyond their comfort zones, or being there for a team member who has hit rock bottom. These leaders can adapt to any situation. The great ones never play it safe when it comes to leading their teams through change, knowing their job is to serve as a guide and coach.

4. Have a strong work ethic. Amateurs work just hard enough to escape being fired. They expect to be compensated for every little thing they do – if they can be over-compensated, even better.

The pros have exactly the opposite mindset. They understand that the marketplace will richly reward a world-class work ethic with an endless stream of opportunities. This work ethic is the reason so many immigrants come to the free world and become millionaires. They’re so grateful for the opportunity to work hard that no one can convince them to slow down.

5. Find a coach. Corporate America and entrepreneurs are starting to catch on to something that athletes have always known: if you want to maximize your potential in anything, hire a coach. Coaching is to performance what leadership is to an organization. Since human beings are primarily emotional creatures, competent coaches are experts in stoking the fires that burn within. The more coachable and open-minded your employees, the better they’ll perform.

Trouble is, ego can get in the way. The best employees are the most open to world-class coaching. They don’t care about ego satisfaction when it comes to improving their results; all they’re looking for is an edge, no matter how slight. When two companies or opponents go head-to-head, many times the only thing that favors the winner is a slight edge in thinking, strategy and technique.

From: http://www.mentaltoughnesssecrets.com/

11 Attributes of Leadership

Napoleon HillI have had the great privilege and good fortune to work with and for leaders  who inspire with their words and most importantly, their actions. But  unfortunately, far too many people in leadership roles are ill-equipped to lead  with effectiveness.

What follows is excerpted from Think and Grow Rich, written by  Napoleon Hill and published in 1938. Read the book if you haven’t already. It’s  essential and inspirational, and should be read by all who partake in  business.

11 Major Attributes of Leadership

  1. Willingness to Assume Full Responsibility. The successful  leader must be willing to assume responsibility for the mistakes and the  shortcomings of her followers. If she tries to shift the responsibility, she  will not remain the leader. If one of her followers makes a mistake, and shows  herself incompetent, the leader must consider that it is she who failed.
  2. Definiteness of Decision. The person who wavers in her  decisions shows that she is not sure of herself. She cannot lead others  successfully.
  3. 11 Attributes of Leadership image leadership Lincoln 267x300Definiteness  of Plans. The successful leader must plan her work, and work her plan.  A leader who moves by guesswork, without practical, definite plans, is  comparable to a ship without a rudder. Sooner or later she will land on the  rocks.
  4. Unwavering Courage based upon knowledge of self, and of  one’s occupation. No follower wishes to be led by a leader who lacks  self-confidence and courage.
  5. A Keen Sense of Justice. Without a sense of fairness and  justice, no leader can command and retain the respect of her followers. Leadership-Ghadi-235x300
  6. Cooperation. The successful leader must understand and  apply the principle of cooperative effort and be able to induce her followers to  do the same. Leadership calls for POWER, and power calls for COOPERATION.
  7. Self Control. The person who cannot control herself can  never control others. Self-control sets a mighty example for one’s  followers.
  8. The Habit of Doing More Than Paid For. One of the penalties  of leadership is the necessity of willingness upon the part of the leader to do  more than she requires of her followers.
  9. A Pleasing Personality. No slovenly, careless, or  unpleasant person can become a successful leader. Leadership calls for  respect.
  10. Sympathy and Understanding. The successful leader must be  in sympathy with her followers. Moreover, she must understand them and their  problems.
  11. Mastery of Detail. Successful leadership calls for mastery  of details of the leader’s position.

Hill writes the following in an afterword to this list. Remember, this was  written 75 years ago: “The relation of employer and employee, or of  leader and follower, in the future, will be one of mutual cooperation, based  upon an equitable division of the profits of business. In the future, the  relationship of employer and employee will be more like a partnership then it  has been in the past.”

Wishful thinking, perhaps? Collectively, it would appear that we still have a  lot of work to do. -Matt Laddin

5 Things Super Successful People Do Before 8 AM

Thatcher-locRise and shine! Morning time just became your new best friend. Love it or hate it, utilizing the morning hours before work may be the key to a successful and healthy lifestyle. That’s right, early rising is a common trait found in many CEOs, government officials, and other influential people. Margaret Thatcher was up every day at 5 a.m.; Frank Lloyd Wright at 4 am and Robert Iger, the CEO of Disney wakes at 4:30am just to name a few. I know what you’re thinking – you do your best work at night. Not so fast. According to Inc. Magazine, morning people have been found to be more proactive and more productive. In addition, the health benefits for those with a life before work go on and on. Let’s explore 5 of the things successful people do before 8 am.

Working out

2. Map Out Your Day. Maximize your potential by mapping out your schedule for the day, as well as your goals and to dos. The morning is a good time for this as it is often one of the only quiet times a person gets throughout the day. The early hours foster easier reflection that helps when prioritizing your activities. They also allow for uninterrupted problem solving when trying to fit everything into your timetable. While scheduling, don’t forget about your mental health. Plan a 10 minute break after that stressful meeting for a quick walk around the block or a moment of meditation at your desk. Trying to eat healthy? Schedule a small window in the evening to pack a few nutritious snacks to bring to work the next day.

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3. Eat a Healthy Breakfast. We all know that rush out the door with a cup of coffee and an empty stomach feeling. You sit down at your desk, and you’re already wondering how early that taco truck sets up camp outside your office. No good. Take that extra time in the morning to fuel your body for the tasks ahead of it. It will help keep your mind on what’s at hand and not your growling stomach. Not only is breakfast good for your physical health, it is also a good time to connect socially. Even five minutes of talking with your kids or spouse while eating a quick bowl of oatmeal can boost your spirits before heading out the door.

visualization

4. Visualization. These days we talk about our physical health ad nauseam, but sometimes our mental health gets overlooked. The morning is the perfect time to spend some quiet time inside your mind meditating or visualizing. Take a moment to visualize your day ahead of you, focusing on the successes you will have. Even just a minute of visualization and positive thinking can help improve your mood and outlook on your work load for the day.

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5. Make Your Day Top Heavy. We all have that one item on our to do list that we dread. It looms over you all day (or week) until you finally suck it up and do it after much procrastination. Here’s an easy tip to save yourself the stress – do that least desirable task on your list first. Instead of anticipating the unpleasantness of it from first coffee through your lunch break, get it out of the way. The morning is the time when you are (generally) more well rested and your energy level is up. Therefore, you are more well equipped to handle more difficult projects. And look at it this way, your day will get progressively easier, not the other way around. By the time your work day is ending, you’re winding down with easier to dos and heading into your free time more relaxed. Success! – Forbes Magazine

Essential Qualities of Highly Promotable Employees

promotions, careers

One of the most common questions asked by an employee of his or her company is, “What can I do to get promoted?”

The thinking behind the question is obvious: The employee assumes there be some key initiative, some specific action, some high visibility project, or some critical role the employee should take on, and if they do, promotion is almost guaranteed.

And maybe, just maybe, that is occasionally true.

But there’s a much better approach. The key to advancing – whether professionally or personally – is not based solely on what you should do (although what you do is certainly important.) The key to advancing is based on what you should be.

Attitude informs action. Attitude informs behavior.

Attitude is the driving force behind every achievement, every accomplishment, every success, attitude, where performance and therefore advancement is concerned, is everything.

Here are some of the attitudes and perspectives that inform the actions of incredibly successful people – in all walks of life:

Are humble, not arrogant.

Arrogant people think they know everything; humble people are always learning. Humble people ask questions. Humble people ask for help.

Humble people automatically share credit because they instinctively realize that every effort, no matter how seemingly individual, is actually a team effort.

Humble people are willing to take on any job, no matter how menial, because they realize no job is beneath them, and in the process they prove that no job is above them.

Ultimately, success is not limited by how high you can stretch… but by how low you are willing to bend.

Are servants, not self-serving.

No one accomplishes anything worthwhile on his own. No one.

Great teammates make everyone around them better. Take an unselfish basketball player: He makes his teammates better by delivering pinpoint passes in space, by boxing out, by setting solid screens, by rotating on defense… all the things that don’t show up in the statistics but definitely improve the stats of his teammates.

Great leaders focus on providing the tools and training and culture to help their employees do their jobs better – and achieve their own goals.

Even great businesses serve their customers first; they know that by serving their customers they ultimately serve the interests of their business.

The employee only in it for himself will someday be by himself. The employee in it for others may not get all the limelight, but trust me, the right people definitely notice.

Are optimistic, not pessimistic.

Optimists add energy to a situation, or meeting, or business; pessimists suck energy away. Optimists try more things and take more (intelligent) risks simply because they focus on what can go right. Pessimists never get started because they’re too busy thinking of what might go wrong.

Optimists don’t feel they need to wait – to be promoted, or accepted, or selected, or “discovered” – they feel they can, if they work hard, accomplish almost anything.

Optimism is infectious.

Think execution, not just planning.

Planning is definitely important, but countless shelves are filled with strategies that were never implemented.

The best employees develop an idea, create a strategy, set up a basic operational plan… and then execute, adapt, execute, revise, execute, refine, and make incredible things happen based on what works in practice, not in theory.

Success starts with strategy — but ultimately ends with execution.

Employees who advance are certainly good at planning, but they’re awesome at execution.

Think forever, not today.

Real leadership isn’t situation or short-lived. Real leaders are able to consistently inspire, motivate, and make people feel better about themselves than they may even think they have a right to feel. Real leaders are the kind of people you follow not because you have to… but because you want to.

You’ll follow a real leader anywhere. And you’ll follow a real leader forever, because she has a knack for making you feel you aren’t actually following – wherever you’re going you feel like you’re going there together.

Creating that level of respect, that level of trust, and that type of bond takes time. Great employees consider not just the short-term but also the long-term – and then act accordingly.

And, in time, are placed in positions where they can truly influence the long-term success of their team, their unit, and their company.

Are volunteers, not draftees.

Sure, you have a manager, or a board, or some higher authority. They may often ask you to do things.

Still: The best employees are natural volunteers. They volunteer for extra tasks. They volunteer for responsibility before responsibility is delegated. They volunteer to train or mentor new employees. They offer to help people who need help – and even those who don’t.

Why is that important? Volunteering demonstrates leadership aptitude. Leaders are proactive, and proactive people don’t wait to be told what to do. They’re already doing it.

Successful employees earn their promotions by first working harder, just like successful businesses earn higher revenue by first delivering greater value, and like successful entrepreneurs earn bigger payoffs by first working hard, well before any potential return is in sight.

Draftees expect to be asked. Draftees expect to be compensated more before they will even consider doing more.

Volunteers just do it – and, in time, their careers flourish.

Are self-aware, not selfish.

Self-aware people understand themselves, and that awareness helps them understand the people around them. Self-aware people are more empathetic. They are more accepting of the weaknesses and failures of others because they know how it feels to fail.

They can lead with empathy, compassion, and kindness because they know how it feels to be treated with disregard, disdain, and scorn. They do everything they can to help others reach their goals, because they know how it feels to fall short.

Self-aware people solve for the team, the organization, and the customer – not just for themselves.

Every organization needs self-aware people in key roles. (What is a key role? Every role.)

Are adaptable, not rigid.

Things constantly change in high-growth companies. Inflexible people tend to grow uncomfortable with too much change and consciously – even unconsciously – try to slow things down.

Best practices are important. Methodology is important. Guidelines, procedures, policies… all can help a business run smoothly.

But anyone can follow guidelines and procedures. Great employees are willing, even eager, to change. Great employees respond to new circumstances and new challenges with excitement, not hesitation. Employees willing to adapt and adjust tend to advance more quickly because that is what every company – especially a high-growth company – desperately needs.

Otherwise growth will be a thing of the past, not the future.

Are teachers, not truant officers.

The best people like to teach. They don’t hoard knowledge; they spread it. They share what they know.

A truant officer’s job is to make sure people show up. A teacher’s job is to make sure people learn.

Besides, truant officers tend to give “advice”: Do this. Don’t do that. Go here. Don’t go there.

A teacher gives knowledge. A teacher helps other people gain experience, gain wisdom, gain insight, a teacher willingly and happily gives other people tools they can use.

In the process a teacher build teams. And a teacher advances, because a true team builder is a rare, precious gem.

-Darmesh Shah, Founder and CEO of HubSpot

What do you think? Any essential qualities that I missed that should be on the list?

7 Ways to Win Every Argument

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Entrepreneurs are passionate people. We want  to be heard. But often, knowing when to shut up can benefit you immensely.  Cultivating your ability to hold your tongue is important.

Make no mistake, this is something I still struggle with every day. But after  twenty years of wishing I’d just kept quiet that one time — here’s my advice:

1. Remember, it’s not personal. It’s business. A few  years ago, I sued a major toy company who I thought had infringed on one of my  patented technologies.  Looking back, I think we could have settled the dispute quickly if cooler heads  had prevailed. But I became emotional and so did they. The conflict ended up in  federal court after dragging on for three years, which took an enormous toll on  me. It’s best not to make decisions when you’re emotional. Step back and ask  yourself: Is this the best course of action or am I just upset right now?

2. Pick up the phone. It’s always easier to  miscommunicate over email. You’ll strengthen your relationships by clarifying  what you and the person you’re in contact with really mean simply by picking up  the phone. I have misinterpreted what people have written to me in emails on many occasions. When it comes to sensitive issues in particular — talk it  out; don’t just email.

3. Hit “delete. ” The idea that anyone can win an  argument over the Internet is laughable. For whatever reason, some people enjoy  using their anonymity to be rude and insulting. It’s taken me many years, but I  think the best way to respond to my haters is by not saying anything at all.  Even if you’re calm, collected and reasonable, whatever you write will only fuel  the fire. There are just too many people who get a kick out of riling others up.  If you choose not to engage, you’ll be surprised how quickly the conversation  dies. And, try to have a sense of humor! Usually, I’m enraged when I first read  hateful comments, but later I find them kind of funny.

4. Let go of the need to have the last word. It’s  better to fly under the radar. You may feel great about getting in one last jab,  but more likely than not, someone else is going to remember your flippant  comment long after you do and it will come back to haunt you. It’s just not  worth it. I was surprised to hear Mark  Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks and an investor on Shark  Tank, laugh at the SEC on TV and in the media  after he was accused of insider trading and found not guilty. That didn’t seem  wise. If they had an eye on him before, well, they probably still do now.  Gloating is unattractive.

5. Embrace the idea that sometimes, less is more. We’ve  all been in meetings where someone asks a simple question and the person in  charge goes on and on unnecessarily in response. Remember that most questions  can be answered simply. Remind yourself. Everyone you work with will appreciate  your ability to be concise. And frankly, it’s also polite. We like the sound of  our own voices more than other people do.

6. Realize that certain opinions are best left  unspoken. Yes, everyone is entitled to an opinion. But that  doesn’t mean we need to offer all of ours up. The other day, Martha  Stewart declared that she doesn’t think bloggers are experts. Okay,  Martha. Sure, that’s your opinion. But I think that was foolish of her, because  I’m guessing there are many, many bloggers who help promote her lifestyle brand.  What purpose did undermining them serve her? I’m not sure. But it may end up  hurting her business. She needs bloggers and influencers as much as everyone  else does to push her brand.

7. Get comfortable with awkward silences. When it comes  to the art of negotiation, I’ve learned a simple truth: Never speak first. After  I explicitly state what it is I want, I clam up. When we’re uncomfortable with  an awkward silence, it’s tempting to fill it quickly, but if you do, you might  end up saying something without thinking it through. I’ve discovered that the  first person to speak usually loses the argument. So make your point, be  confident and force yourself to wait for a response.

I hope these tips help you as much as they’ve helped me. -Stephen Key

How The Best Leaders Embrace Change

lead changeWe all know change is inevitable. Yet in the midst of transformation, too many leaders abdicate, says Rose Fass, CEO of the consulting company fassforward. After all, it can be hard to let go of a cherished initiative, or a product line that’s been successful for years.

But you have to be strong enough to take charge, says Fass: “The best kind of change comes when you envision, initiate and control it. That type of change creates opportunities, transforms companies and ignites growth.” Otherwise, you’re facing with the damaging prospect of “change that happens in spite of you, rather than because of you.”

Fass offers a list of 10 “transformation topics” that she believes all businesses should discuss. If you have a handle on these questions, you’re well on your way to leading change, rather than letting it control you.

1) New Actions: Which ones do we need to make happen?

2) Core Assets: Do we know how to leverage ours?

3) Barriers to Success: What are ours and how do we knock them down?

4) Competitive Positioning: Where do we stand?

5) Key Differentiators: Are ours still making a difference?

6) Resources & Relationships: Can we get more out of ours?

7) Operating Climate: Where are we hot, cold, lukewarm or frozen?

8) Strategic Imperatives: Have ours been clearly communicated?

9) Strategic Options: Are our best ones identified?

10) Strategic Shifts: Where are ours occurring?

Change, says Fass, is bittersweet. But that realization means “you’ll be more prepared to persevere when the pain points start popping up. The course you follow to change also needs to be consistent or else it will cause confusion and slow everyone down to a crawl.” -Dorie Clark is a marketing strategist who teaches at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

How does your company master change?

7 Things I Wish I Had Known at 25

 

work-advice-known-25-ftrWe’ve all had transformative moments.

You know what I’m talking about: those brief instances when you find yourself reflecting on lessons you’ve learned over the years. They may come professionally or personally. Sometimes they’re huge life lessons that really shake things up. Other times, they’re small things that are easily forgotten if not put to use.

I’m a firm believer that no one’s born a leader or expert. It’s the experiences we encounter that help transform us into better, brighter, and more successful versions of ourselves. For me, I started out as an entrepreneur, a move made with little thought at the nontraditional age of 16. Today, my experiences as a serial entrepreneur, CEO, leader, father, and husband have taught me a lot.

But imagine if you could bundle up the key lessons you’ve learned in your professional years and hand them to those just starting out. I want to do just that.

Here are seven things I’ve learned professionally that I was fortunate to gain, but wish I had known when I was just starting out:

1. Proactivity is a secret weapon. There’s this general stereotype I want to put an end to immediately: Jobs aren’t about waiting around and doing things as they’re assigned. Far too many people—even those with passion to spare—fall into this trap.

Begin building your proactive habits as soon as possible by seeking out ways to go above and beyond your role every day. This could mean kicking your projects to the next level, finding new ways to impact your company, or even just improving internal processes to make things run smoother. Proactivity is a crucial part of advancing your career.

2. Perfection isn’t attainable. Being a perfectionist and micromanaging others—even if they aren’t your direct reports—can be damaging. These are two things I personally struggled with early on. I learned quickly that people don’t like being told what to do, and good leadership and management don’t come from tweaking things to perfection. Instead, I learned to live by the 80/20 rule and ask questions to derive answers when it comes to managing others.

3. Great public speaking skills create influence. When I was just starting out, I had a mentor who took me under his wing. Tom Antion was a successful entrepreneur and great public speaker, but I never thought much of it until the time came for me to really dive into public speaking.

It’s important to understand that those who can speak well, be it in a company meeting or at a presentation, typically become trusted leaders. Never stop improving as a public speaker, even if it’s something you initially fear. If you have a strong voice and show confidence, authority will follow.

4. Work isn’t just about cashing your paycheck. If you’re in it for the money alone, you’re probably not going to get very far. Work is truly about passion—finding and doing what you love. Being driven by passion is an insanely beneficial motivator.

So, if you’re not passionate about the job you’re doing today, what can you do to find your passion? Would it be a new job? What about a new role within your company? Whatever it takes, find and pursue your passion sooner rather than later.

5. Seek out a mentor. As I stated above, I was fortunate enough to have started and fueled my career due to the guidance of a great mentor. If you don’t already have a mentor, it’s time to go out and find one.

You may find a mentor in someone within your company or a person you look up to in your industry. If you don’t already know of someone who would make a great mentor, there are plenty of websites, organizations, conferences and networking events that can hook you up with someone who shares your professional vision and can offer helpful advice.

6. Know what makes you better than the rest. The days of fitting into a professional mold are dead and gone.

Today, knowing what sets you apart from the crowd professionally is the way to build your career. Knowing your top skills and using them to establish your personal brand will catch the eye of employers and maybe even lead you to starting a business of your own.

7. Always risk it. We all know that risks and rewards go hand-in-hand. If you aren’t open to taking the occasional risk, you’re likely to get stuck in a flow that you can’t break from. This doesn’t always mean starting your own business or quitting your job for something less conventional. Taking risks often means overcoming your fears and reaching for opportunities you may have overlooked with more thinking.

I wish I had known these seven lessons when I was 25, but I’m thankful to be able to share them regardless. One thing’s for certain: there is never any time to stop learning and growing as a professional. -Ilya Pozin

What do you wish you had known professionally in your 20s?

7 Ways To Keep Your Employees Happy (And Working Really Hard)

Happy Face

It doesn’t matter what you build, invent or sell; your organization can’t move forward without people. CEOs, company founders and managers the world over know that keeping the teams beneath them moving forward together in harmony means the difference between winning and dying.

Prof. Leonard J. Glick, Professor of management and organizational development at Boston’s Northeastern University, teaches the art of motivating employees for a living. He let FORBES in on a few tips for entrepreneurs and managers looking to keep their people smiling and producing.

You’ve got to get employees to feel that they own the place, not just work there. “One of the principles of self-managed teams is to organize around a whole service or product,” Glick explained. In other words, make sure company personnel feel responsible for what the customer is buying.

One way to inspire that feeling is to have each member of a team become familiar with what other team members are doing, allowing them to bring their ideas for improvement to the table and have input in the whole process. If the roles are not too specialized, have your people rotate responsibilities from time to time. “It all contributes to a feeling of ‘it’s mine,’ and most people, when it’s theirs, don’t want to fail, don’t want to build poor quality and don’t want to dissatisfy the customer,” said Glick.

Trust Employees To Leave Their Comfort Zones

Few employees want to do one specific task over and over again until they quit or retire or die. Don’t be afraid to grant them new responsibilities—it will allow them to grow and become more confident in their abilities while making them feel more valuable to the organization.

Though managers might feel allowing their people to try new things presents a risk to productivity or places workers outside of their established place, it heads off other issues. “To me the bigger risk is having people get burnt out or bored,” explained Glick.

Keep Your Team Informed

Business leaders have a clearer perspective on the bigger picture than their employees do. It pays to tell those under you what’s going on. “Things that managers take for common knowledge about how things are going or what challenges are down the road or what new products are coming… they often don’t take the time to share that with their employees,” Glick said. Spreading the intel lets everyone in on the lay of theland and at the same time strengthens the feeling among workers that they are an important part of the organization.

Your Employees Are Adults—Treat Them Like It

In any business there is going to be bad news. Whether it’s to do with the company as a whole or an individual within the organization, employees need to be dealt with in a straightforward and respectable manner. “They can handle it, usually,” said Glick. If you choose to keep your people in the dark about trying times or issues, the fallout could be a serious pain in the neck. “The rumors are typically worse than reality. In the absence of knowledge people make things up.”

You’re The Boss. You May Have To Act Like It Sometimes (but be consistent)

Though this issue is affected by an organization’s overall culture, there are going to be times when you have to make a decision as a leader, despite whatever efforts you may have made to put yourself on equal footing with your personnel. “Ideally they have an open relationship but not necessarily are peers,” Glick said of the manager-employee relationship. “I think the worst thing is to pretend you’re peer… it’s the inconsistency, I think, which is the bigger problem.”

Money Matters (But Not As Much As You Think)

Compensation packages are a big deal when employees are hired, but once a deal has been struck the source of motivation tends to shift. “The motivation comes from the things I’ve been talking about—the challenge of the work, the purpose of the work, the opportunity to learn, the opportunity to contribute,” Glick explained.

When it comes to finding a salary that will allow your employees to feel they’re being paid fairly, don’t bend over backwards to lowball them. If you do, they will eventually find out and not be happy. “If the salary were open, is it defensible?”

Perks Matter (But Not As Much As You Think)

Some companies (we’re looking at you Google GOOG +0.21%) have received attention for offering lavish perks to their personnel – massages, free gourmet lunches, ping pong tables, childcare facilities – but, like money, these things tend to be less powerful motivators for workers than in-job challenges and the feeling of being a valuable part of a quality team that will recognize their contribution. A manager needs to understand that though those perks are great and release burdens from employees’ shoulders, they are not a substitute for prime sources of professional inspiration.

“I don’t think people work harder, work better because of those things,” said Glick. “It may make it easier for them to come to work, I understand that.”

– Karsten Strauss