Topic: Blog

  • Blog

    Inspire Yourself and Others by Developing a Personal Vision

    FujiI realized this week that while I had written an article on how to develop a personal vision, I had yet to share it in my own blog. Here’s a reprint of a blog I originally shared March 12th with Matt Monge through his MOJO Blog.  http://bit.ly/16ojVfa

     

     

     

    I had very few bosses that inspired me during my 15 years in corporate America.  Most of them internalized their role as a cog in the corporate machine and expected me to do the same.  They received their marching orders from on high and passed a subset of them on to me.  Working for them was like eating the same bowl of corn flakes every day knowing that there must be a way to score a blue corn tortilla breakfast burrito somewhere else.  Eventually I was exposed to some true leaders that I found myself attracted to—people who looked and sounded different.  It took me a while to figure out why I wanted to work for them but it turned out to be quite simple.  They knew where they were going.

    People who have a personal vision have a twinkle in their eye and a spring in their step.  They are living with a purpose and their daily progress toward their vision builds confidence and leads to a belief that anything is possible. And those people are just fun to be around.  If you want to be an inspirational leader, start by developing your own personal vision and by making sure you are doing work and living life in a way that allows you to make progress toward it.

    The best advice on how to develop a personal vision that I have come across is through a process called Creative Tension, a term coined by an MIT professor, Peter Senge, in his work on learning organizations.  Creative Tension is a force that is at work in anyone who has taken the time to think deeply about the ideal life that they would like to live and comparing it to a brutally honest assessment of their current reality—the life that they are actually living.  The juxtaposition of where you want to be when compared with where you are sets up a tension that pulls you forward.

    Making progress toward a personal vision and, just as importantly, encouraging your team members to do the same thing will dramatically change the feel of a workplace.  People who have the opportunity to make progress toward a life vision are motivated and happier.  And yes, occasionally the development of a personal vision will result in an employee who realizes that they may have to change jobs in order to go where they want to.  But that’s OK.  The organization would lose that employee eventually anyway, and the loss of an uninspired employee is more than offset by a team comprised of employees who are experiencing personal growth.

    The easiest way to understand what I’m talking about is to set aside some time to work through the following exercise designed to develop a personal vision.  By answering each of these questions two times—once while thinking about your current reality (the way things are today) and a second time while imagining that you are in your ideal job, home, etc.  The prompt to “Transform” is an invitation to list the elements of a personal plan that would move you from your current reality toward your envisioned life.  Once you start the process, you’ll never stop.  And people will never see you the same way.  You will be one of those people who seems to know where she is going—because you do!

     

    Work

    Describe: What do you do for a living? What kind of a company do you work for? Do you work alone or with a team? What are your responsibilities? What values and strengths do you apply in your work? Do you like your job? Why or why not? Describe anything you can about the type of work you do, how you feel about it, and how it is valued.

    Transform: Based on this reality, what changes would be necessary to move from your current reality to your personal vision?

     

    Home

    Describe: Where do you live? What is your home like? Is it a good fit for you? How do you feel when you walk in the door?

    Transform: Based on this reality, what changes would be necessary to move from your current reality to your personal vision?

     

    Relationships

    Describe: Who are the important people in your life. Spouse? Family? Friends? Business associates? Pets? Do your relationships make your life more fulfilling?

    Transform: Based on this reality, what changes would be necessary to move from your current reality to your personal vision?

     

    Health

    Describe: Are you healthy, fit, and full of energy? What do you do to achieve that? Do you manage your stress? Do you maintain a positive outlook? How?

    Transform: Based on this reality, what changes would be necessary to move from your current reality to your personal vision?

     

    Self-Image

    Describe: How do the important people in your life describe you? Why do they treasure the opportunity to work with you, hang out with you, or love you?

    Transform: Based on this reality, what changes would be necessary to move from your current reality to your personal vision?

     

    Fun

    Describe: What are the activities that recharge your batteries or give you satisfaction outside the work environment? How often do you do them? Why do you enjoy them?

    Transform: Based on this reality, what changes would be necessary to move from your current reality to your personal vision?

     

    Tangibles

    Describe: How much money do you make? How much discretionary income do you have after all of your bills are paid? What is your net worth? Are you saving money for the things you want in the future? What things do you have that are important to your lifestyle?

    Transform: Based on this reality, what changes would be necessary to move from your current reality to your personal vision?

     

    Community

    Describe: What do you do to give back? Does it bring you a sense of fulfillment and purpose?

    Transform: Based on this reality, what changes would be necessary to move from your current reality to your personal vision?

     

    Faith

    Describe: If faith is important to you, how do you observe it? What role does it play in your life?

    Transform: Based on this reality, what changes would be necessary to move from your current reality to your personal vision?

     

    Life Purpose

    Describe: Do you feel that you are fulfilling your life purpose? Not to be overly morbid, but if you died tomorrow, what would your legacy be?

    Transform: Based on this reality, what changes would be necessary to move from your current reality to your personal vision?

     

    Want to lead?  Want to make something really great happen?  First take the time to figure out where you are going!

     

  • Blog

    Wimbledon 2013: Study in Mentorship

    LendlIvan Lendl won 8 Grand Slam titles in his career, including the US Open, French Open, and Australian Open, but he never won one at Wimbledon—until Sunday.  No the 53 year old wasn’t on the court playing against Novak Djokovic but his mentee, Andy Murray, was.  And I can guarantee you that Ivan felt great joy and satisfaction from helping Andy complete a feat that eluded him in his playing days.  There are some things that money can’t buy and Ivan Lendl’s role coaching Andy Murray to a Wimbledon title is one of them.  Once a mentor’s days in the arena are over, the next most satisfying experience is to be helping someone who is still in the fight.

    In the business world as it is in sports the mentor/mentee relationship is the definition of win/win.  The mentor gets satisfaction and, in some cases, compensation—in the form of a return on a financial investment—and the mentee, through extension, gains the experience and confidence to achieve something he has never done before.  Until Sunday it had been 77 years since an Englishman (Fred Perry) won a Wimbledon singles title.

    Contemporary British tennis pros have had little chance of overcoming such a huge mental barrier, as in “it must be impossible if no one has done it in 77 years”.  But you can bet it won’t be another 77 years before an Englishman hoists the Gentlemen’s Singles Trophy.  Why?  Because Andy Murray has shown a whole generation of aspiring, young English tennis players that they too can win at Wimbledon.  One of them will win Wimbledon in the next ten years.  This is how mentorship works; someone who has scaled the peak that you aspire to taking the time to show you that the peak is not that high and not that hard to climb if you know the route.

    Once you find an arena that you are passionate about and have developed a personal vision of prosperity within that arena, make a point to find a mentor to help you understand that you can really do it.  Without one you are highly unlikely to lift the trophy of your dreams.

    Finding someone who cares about you and who has achieved something close to your personal vision is hugely important.  For more information on what a great mentor looks like and where you are most likely to find her check out my previous blog on the subject here.

  • Blog

    The Nuggets Rocky – Entrepreneurial Actuary

    RockyIf you are a Denver Nuggets fan you gotta love Rocky.  The Nuggets mascot is as zany and entertaining as any mascot in the league.  I’ve seen him beat his personal record for running up the seat armrests (and over fans) to the top of the Pepsi Center, bury a half-court shot with his back to the basket, and I still laugh every time he assumes the karate kid one legged crane pose behind the ref’s back.

    He has developed a sixth sense about which of his antics a basketball fan will find the most hysterical and incorporates them into his act.  And when Kenn Solomon—aka Rocky—saw the Spurs mascot fire a T-shirt cannon in 1996, he knew it was going to be a must-have for every mascot and stadium staff in the country.  He also had two buddies, a welder and an engineer, who he knew he would help him make a cannon that was lighter, more powerful, and shoot a wider array of fuzzy objects to fans.  And they did, founding a company called Air Cannons Inc that sells every type of air cannon imaginable including the top of the line model with a 16 T-shirt magazine; they created a place where fun meets business success.

    But more interesting to me is the question of why Kenn saw the opportunity to turn air cannons into a business when others didn’t.  Clearly tens of thousands of people had seen the cannon but chose to experience it as a consumer rather than an entrepreneur.  The answer is that opportunities are typically seen most clearly by those who have pursued their passion the furthest and for whom the opportunity seems to be glaringly obvious.  Like the 10,000 hours that Malcolm Gladwell talks about in his book Outliers, when you have spent more time in a particular arena than anyone else, you have insights that others just don’t have.

    Admittedly this is a pretty simple example but the most sophisticated start-ups are born the same way.  Somebody with a lot of relevant experience sees something that no one else does.  I call this being an Entrepreneurial Acturary; being someone who not only learns to see and analyze the opportunities that surround all of us but also is able to quickly assess them by estimating the potential risks and returns.  If you want to know more about being an Entrepreneurial Actuary, send me an email at mark@shortcuttoprosperity.com and I’ll send you the excerpt from the book that explains the concept in detail.

    So…what are you passionate about?  Have you found something that you love enough to commit 10,000 hours to learn about?  If you aren’t working in an area that fascinates you, for heaven’s sake, make a change!  If you don’t you’ll never have the staying power to develop the insight that you need to create the prosperity of your dreams.  And don’t forget that, like Kenn loving to be Rocky, living a prosperous life is more about doing what you love than the financial return you earn from it.  Having said that, the income that comes from a ground-breaking insight comes in handy when it comes to filling in the details your own portrait of prosperity.

    This is the first post I’ve written at 40,000 feet.  Drop me a line at mark@shortcuttoprosperity.com and let me know if it was grounded enough for you!

  • Blog

    Passion—THE Prerequisite for Prosperity

    NadalRafael Nadal loves vaporizing the red clay at Roland Garros.  He just won his 8th French Open there and has lost only one match in the 60 that he has played at that hallowed venue.  Bill Clinton loves politics and people and sees any gathering of two or more citizens as an invitation to love and be loved.  Jim Cramer goes to bed at eleven, gets up every day at 2:47am and spends most his 20+ waking hours crazily gesticulating on financial markets and stock opportunities for CNBC.

    Do these guys love what they do because they are good at it or are they good at what they do because they love it.  I sincerely believe it’s the latter.  And if you are serious about pursuing prosperity you better be doing something you love.  If you aren’t sure that you love what you are doing, you aren’t.  People who have found their passion don’t drag themselves out of bed; they awake with a mixture of excitement and wonder that they get paid to do what they do.

    If this doesn’t sound much like you, you’re not alone.  I would guess that less than 1 in 10 people are earning a living doing what they love.  Why?  Either because they don’t think it is a realistic expectation or because they haven’t put in the effort to find the thing that they really love doing.

    You find your passion by following your natural curiosity, doing some heartfelt journaling, soul searching, and a lot of trial and error—preferably while you are young.  Once you think you have found it, I like Malcolm Gladwell’s guideline of investing at least 10,000 hours to develop a differentiating level of expertise.  Your skill development depends a lot more on this investment of time and effort than on the natural abilities you bring to your chosen passion.

    But is doesn’t take 10,000 hours to confirm your passion.  See if you still love it after a thousand hours—six months or so if you are doing it full time—and reconsider.  You probably won’t get it right on the first try so be prepared to follow your curiosity in another direction a time or two.  You’ll know it when you find it, because like Jim Cramer, you just won’t be able to get enough of it.

    That’s the real shortcut to prosperity.  Try it!

  • Blog

    Pro Cyclists Exemplify Teamwork

    Vandborg PicYou aren’t likely to achieve prosperity without the help of a team.  Pursuing prosperity by yourself is like trying to win a TDF stage with a solo breakaway at the start of the race—it is virtually impossible to do.

    Brian Vandborg (right), of the Cannondale Pro Cycling Team, inspired me to think about the parallels between bike racing and prosperity when his team sent him to cycle with a group of us for the day as part of our Cannondale/Duvine bike tour of Italy.  He joined eight of us on a day that started out unseasonably cold and cloudy and quickly evolved into a torrential downpour.

    Before the weather deteriorated we marveled at Brian’s seemingly effortless accelerations and the incredibly smooth lines he carved out on the winding mountain descents.  As the wind and rain started to pound our nylon jackets and bare legs, Brian smiled and asked us what we wanted to do.  Even though it was Thursday and he would begin a race on Sunday, he said he was game to continue if we preferred to complete our climb to the hilltop town of San Gimignano.  Really?  If this finely tuned athlete was willing to climb in the freezing rain with eight aging amateurs that he just met, what must he be willing to do for his Cannondale teammates.  This was the thought that occupied my mind for the next hour after Brian was safely ensconced in the chase van and we continued our soggy way up a climb we would never have a second chance to complete.

    The most successful cycling teams aren’t just a collection of the best athletes, but rather a combination of great athletes who have developed a synergy that allows the team to perform at a level higher than the sum of its parts.  Each member’s role evolves effortlessly on a daily basis based on what the race strategy calls for as well as who’s having a good or bad day.  How do the best teams develop this fluid and overachieving model of performance?  The same way you will if you want the best shot at achieving your vision of prosperity.

    Great Teamwork Looks the Same in Business

    Unlike cyclists participating in a competitive event that necessitates a clear win/lose structure, you have the opportunity to form win/win teams both inside and outside your place of work—win/win because you help others where they compete and they help you where you compete. Your teams will be comprised of people who want you to succeed and come together on an ad hoc basis when you need them, and sometimes come together permanently when you have figured out how to orchestrate a situation (start-up or corp gig) where you get to work with your own handpicked team.    In either case, the team of superstars who come together to create something special are attracted by six behaviors that you have developed.

    Six Peer Behaviors that Support Great Teams

    –      Listening:  Simple, I know, but you would be surprised how few people are skilled listeners.  Good listeners patiently frame what they are hearing using their partner’s point of view.  Rather than waiting just long enough to insert their own perspective, a skilled listener absorbs what is being said and combines it with their own experience to add value.

    –       Trust/Dependability:  Trust is rare commodity that can only be earned by demonstrating the ability to put someone else’s interests first and by always doing what you say you are going to do.

    –       Competence:  People love to be around competent people.  Figure out what you want to be competent at and do more of it and learn more about it than anyone else you know.  Don’t try to be something you are not.  Competence can’t be faked but it can be earned.

    –       Can-do Attitude:  There is nothing more attractive than someone who hasn’t seen a problem that they aren’t willing to tackle.  It’s a lot easier to be a naysayer than a doer.  Practice “Saying Yes!” [Page 112 from Shortcut—send me an email mark@shortcuttoprosperity.com and I’ll send you the “Say Yes!” excerpt]

    –       Understanding of Give/Get:  The most coveted team members (and leaders!) are those who have figured out that life works better when you give freely without expectation of any return for your effort or for sharing your network.  Of course it DOES come back to you—you just can’t predict the wonderful ways that it will.

    –       Caring:  This is the most powerful and toughest behavior to demonstrate.  Someone who knows you care about them will do anything for you.  See Carefrontation for more.  

     

     

  • Blog

    Start Small—Build Confidence!

    BizStone

    Most of us read of others’ accomplishments in the news and think that there is absolutely no way that we could ever achieve what these superstars do. That’s because we hear about the outcomes, not the step-by-step growth process that allowed them to happen in the first place. If you’re thinking about a major success as one giant step, you’re right, it’s never going to happen.

    Twitter Didn’t Happen Overnight

    Great accomplishments are the result of a long series of less-than-great accomplishments, and failures. Biz Stone, cofounder of Twitter, once quipped, “Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.”  In other words, if you dare to dream on a large scale you better be prepared to make the long-term commitment required to make it happen.

    But with a few exceptions, almost anything you want to do, you can. You have to really want it, you have to be willing to work hard for it, and you need the patience and perseverance to take it step by step. With each step, your competence and confidence will grow, making the next step easier and more exciting.

    Each time you put yourself out there, striving for a goal, four important things happen:

    1. You learn something valuable and advance your quest; you complete another lap around the Prosperity Cycle.

    2. You discover the exponential power of hard work. As you work harder and harder, your results grow exponentially. Other people might call you lucky or clever, but you know the truth.

    3. You fail in small ways and big. And learn that that’s okay.

    4. You realize that it feels great to succeed! Moments of independent success, even small ones, are like an addictive drug—a positive addiction to the actions that drive your life toward prosperity.

    The highest level of confidence often begins very humbly, maybe by being good at something that only a niche group values or even that only you and your friends think is pretty cool.

    What matters is that you make a start, right now, and begin the process of building to a crescendo that even you can’t yet believe!

  • Blog

    Self-Awareness: The Key to Being a Top Performer or Successful Entrepreneur

    Journaling picDon’t be afraid to look in the mirror! The problem most of us face is that we’re so afraid of admitting our faults we avoid self-analysis and so never have the opportunity to really understand our strengths and values. And that is a prosperity killer. Instead, if you can align your world with your values, your strengths, and what you enjoy in life—as much as possible—you’ll find yourself speeding toward prosperity.

    Do What You Love!

    We are many times more productive—which breeds success—when we are operating within our strengths and passions—which breeds fulfillment. In fact, renowned psychologist and expert in talent development Travis Bradberry wrote in his book Emotional Intelligence 2.0, “As self-awareness increases, people’s satisfaction with life—defined as their ability to reach their goals at work and at home—skyrockets. Self-awareness is so important for job performance that 83 percent of people high in self-awareness are top performers . . . When you are self-aware, you are far more likely to pursue the right opportunities, put your strengths to work and—perhaps more importantly—keep your emotions from holding you back.” Bradberry interviewed approximately 500,000 people in his research on emotional intelligence, so I tend to trust his statistic. In a similar study of 1,000 entrepreneurs, Bill Wagner, author of The Entrepreneur Next Door (Entrepreneur Press, 2006), identified self-awareness as a critical characteristic of successful entrepreneurship.

    In practical terms, increased leverage of your strengths and values results in a level of performance that is sure to get you noticed in almost any environment. Understanding who you are and applying yourself accordingly is a great way to differentiate. Top performers make more money and get more promotions or are more successful as entrepreneurs. More important, they are happier and more fulfilled by their work. The ability to leverage every talent, every strength, every value, every passion small or large will make you prosperous every day because your work and life will be satisfying and fun.

    Identify Your Unique Value Set

    Internalizing your unique competence helps you understand why you are dissatisfied. Recognizing this can provide the impetus to “decide” to make a change. Making changes to what you do and where you do it in order to better align your work (or studies) with your strengths is a primary shortcut to prosperity. When you do this, you are striving for a compelling personal vision, one in which you are wholly satisfied.

    To help you get started, check out this exercise for determining your core values.  Understanding your own unique set of values is an essential step on your path to prosperity.

     

  • Blog

    Entrepreneur Wanted—Pessimists Need Not Apply

    200458043-001Damn I feel great today!  Perhaps it is the fact that spring has finally come to Colorado. Or maybe it’s because I’m leaving later this morning on a road trip to Detroit, ferrying my 20-year-old daughter and a car to the Motor City for a summer internship.  It also might be a lot simpler than either or these explanations.  It might be that like most entrepreneurs I’m just an irrepressible optimist.

    Steve Blank defines an entrepreneur’s startup entity as “a temporary organization designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model”.  A definition that encompasses several key assumptions, not the least of which is that the business you are putting your heart and soul into may never cover your rent or your mac and cheese lifestyle.  Historically, only the most optimistic among us could sign up for that.  But the good news is that, without too many people noticing, the bar is being lowered and choosing an entrepreneur’s path has never been easier nor more rational.  Let me explain.

    We Love Entrepreneurs!

    The United States has long offered a combination of basic rights (property rights and the rule of law), learning institutions, innovative corporations, and inspirational icons that have made it easier than anywhere else on earth to become an entrepreneur.  But two new factors have made it easier to take the plunge.  First, popular culture has evolved in a way that has elevated the status of entrepreneurs from quirky dreamers to valiant innovators whose efforts create a large portion of the jobs that fuel our internet era economy.  Fear of failure is still one of the biggest deterrents to starting a company, but failing is no longer a scarlet letter on your resume but rather a badge of honor.  The fact that investors, employees, and customers understand and applaud the risks involved makes it a lot easier to step into the ring.

    Me, an Entrepreneur?

    The other factor that makes it more rational to choose to be an entrepreneur is that you have a pretty good chance of being one whether you like it or not. There aren’t many sure things when it comes to employment these days and most of us are a company merger or relocation away from being unemployed.  And increasingly, your next—and best—opportunity may be the one that you create for yourself.  It makes sense to at least give some thought to what you might do if you find yourself in this position.

    Whether you decide you like the feel of a startup or a larger organization the same ten shortcuts will help ensure that you are heading toward a job that you are passionate about and coming up with the ideas that make you stand out from the crowd.  And if there was an eleventh shortcut it might just be to adopt an optimistic attitude. It is a better platform to create new ideas as well as an attitude that will attract the talented people that you need to you bring them to life.

    So smile.  Right now.  And carry that optimism into whatever you choose to do next.

     

     

     

  • Blog

    Jockey Rosie Napravnik Shows U.S. the Way

    RosieNapravnikI’m really, really tired of hearing our politicians bickering about the best way to get Americans back to work and our economy headed in the right direction.  I happen to believe that there is more agreement between the left and right with respect to what needs to be done than either side cares to admit, but the fact remains that our political system punishes anyone who proposes serious reform. 

    What if we could, as a group of empowered individuals, take the initiative and make the politicians less relevant? In the freest global market that has ever existed, the health of the U.S. economy is directly proportional to the cumulative value being added by our workforce when compared to the workforces of the other nation states we compete against.  Policy can’t drive value nearly as effectively as passion.  In the next minute or so I will try to show you how a more empowered and passionate workforce can do what the President and Congress can’t.

    Rosie = Passion

    As a Louisville native, I can’t wait for the first Saturday in May and find myself following every story line that leads up to the Kentucky Derby.  Each year a story seems to elevate from the rest.  This year the most interesting story was about Rosie Napravnik, a 25-year-old female jockey from New Jersey.  Rosie started racing professionally at age 17 and in her 8 year career has won more than 1,500 races and earned her owners more than $37 million in winnings.  Talk about adding value!  But she’s also ridden in some 8,500 races that she didn’t win.  And in the worst of those races she has broken her wrist, arm, leg, collarbone, back and still has a titanium rod in her leg and a plate in her arm. 

    This is the purest example of pursuing a passion that I know of.  Rosie loves what she does for a living and gives it her all every day because she feels the most like herself—like what she was meant to do—when she is flying down the track astride a thousand pound thoroughbred urging him to go just a little bit faster.  She is such a natural on a horse that trainers say she can settle down a high-strung mount and yet get the horse to explode when it’s time to go.  When Rosie talks about her job as a jockey she oozes confidence without coming off as cocky.  Check out her 60 Minutes interview here to see what I mean.

    Passion Drives Employment

    Simply put, adding value is about getting more output from the same input—more than you did yesterday—more than your competition does.  It’s about leveraging your passion to work harder, learn more, and compete smarter than the other guy.  And it doesn’t matter if we are talking about jockeys, knowledge workers, or business leaders.  If we could all figure out how to take a step toward Rosie’s level of intensity, our economic output would step up along with it, making what we produce more competitive, raising demand and creating jobs.  It sounds simple and it is; get more people doing what they are meant to be doing and watch productivity grow and unemployment fall.  And it feeds on itself.  People look at a passionate person kicking butt—adding value—and can’t help but want to emulate it. They just don’t know how.

    Shortcut to Prosperity is broken into three parts and the first part, Find Your Field of “Play” is all about finding what you are passionate about and the place where work feels like play.  Rosie utilized something I call The Prosperity Cycle to start building a series of successes at a very young age.  In Shortcut 1 I show you how it works.  The next step to discovering your passion is figuring out what you are naturally curious about, and even more importantly, what you are already good at (Shortcut 2 & 3).  Then, based on what you love doing and excel at; you are ready to develop a compelling personal vision of what prosperity looks like (Shortcut 4).  For Rosie Napravnik it means winning each of the races that make up the Triple Crown.  Whether or not she wins the big three in her sport, her life will be more meaningful and productive because she gave it her best shot.

    What’s your Triple Crown? 

     

    P.S.  Please feel free to reach out to me directly at mark@shortcuttoprosperity.com I recently had a reader point out to me using the contact functionality that the website was missing the Values worksheet referenced in the book.  It’s there now (Thanks!) but I couldn’t email her back because she didn’t include her email address.  I am here to help!

  • Blog

    The Ultimate Graduation Gift

    Book Cover 2DHow many people do you know that realize, mid career, that they hate their job but are too far down the road to make a change.  Gifting a copy of Shortcut to Prosperity to a recent graduate will help them to avoid this common fate. The book will help them discover where their passions lie and how to create a life that is ideal in every way, from the career path they choose to the partner(s) they join forces with to help them achieve their vision.

    How can a book do all that?  By teaching a new grad the 10 incredibly powerful shortcuts that prosperous people employ every day—even if they don’t know it—to achieve the life of their dreams.  Shortcuts like ignoring the contradictory voices telling them what to study or what job to take and instead, allowing their natural curiosity to lead them to a career that gets their heart racing and imagination soaring. And by showing them how to earn an “I can do anything” attitude that results from successive iterations around something called the Prosperity Cycle.

    It took me most of my life to understand the shortcuts I write about in the book, but once I did, they seemed obvious everywhere I turned. I interviewed hundreds of happy, prosperous people to boil these down to the ten most effective shortcuts and then asked permission to share the most inspirational stories in the book.  Their stories range from a young man who tapped into his passion for pro sports to build a booming photography business to a machinist’s son in Wisconsin who now builds the world’s highest quality folding knives, and all the way to the unlikely tech success story of a young Canadian hockey player who follows his passion to an executive position with Google.

    Part one of the book focuses on shortcuts designed to help the new graduate get started by discovering exactly where they want to go:  What are they passionate about? What are their strengths and talents? What does their vision of the future look like?

    In part two, I show them how to create an unfair advantage over their peers by building a differentiating level of knowledge and expertise within an area that they are drawn to. How do they take the first step? How do they build on that foundation?

    Pursuing prosperity is a team sport. In part three I show the new graduate how to recruit allies to help them along the path, by genuinely caring about people, by aligning yourself with great partners, and by finding the best guides and mentors.

    Contrary to popular belief, people aren’t born with the abilities necessary to be great. They have to develop them. These behaviors can be life changing, and changing a life does not happen overnight. And yet, they are still shortcuts. Why? Because if they don’t develop them as core skills at the beginning of their career, they will likely never get where they want to go. I’ll help them build the right mindset, and I’ll offer grounded advice for turning key behaviors into habits or skills. The shortcuts in this book are designed to set a new grad on a path of doing something different, something other people are not doing.

    This means training them to see opportunities that others don’t, to envision new models, develop the drive to make them real, and attract a whole lot of great people to help them do it. This is the road to prosperity in today’s world. So, instead of giving your grad an iPhone or really cool pen, give them the Shortcut to Prosperity!

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  • Mark reminds us how important it is to spend your time doing something you’re passionate about, and how easy it can be to turn that passion into prosperity.

    Mike Fries, President and CEO, Liberty Global

  • Shortcut to Prosperity captured many habits that I learned over the course of my career. I would have loved to have this book twenty years ago, as it would have helped accelerate the development of my entrepreneurial capabilities.

    Dan Caruso, Founder and CEO, Zayo Group

  • I have spent my career preparing young people to succeed in an increasingly challenging global economy. Shortcut to Prosperity does a wonderful job compiling a timeless set of recommendations that will give readers a huge head start.

    John Box, PhD, senior vice president, education (retired), Junior Achievement Worldwide

  • Success is personal. Mark Hopkins has created a powerful approach to identify and achieve your version of prosperity.

    Mo Siegel, cofounder and former CEO, Celestial Seasonings

  • Whether you want to move up the corporate ladder or make it on your own, Shortcut to Prosperity is your success bible.

    Tommy Spaulding, author of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller It’s Not Just Who You Know

Shortcut to Prosperity Book

Available at:

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