How To Reinvent Yourself

Rewind to the end of 2000. Vice President Al Gore had just lost the closest Presidential race in history. Afterwards, he reportedly went into a state of depression. The struggle for him was “what now?” After all, when you’ve gotten so close to something so big, what else is there to do? It was really the ultimate identity crisis.

Many people thought he would run again in 2004 – “Al Gore isn’t a quitter” they said. As it turned out “quitting” on the presidency might have been the most personally rewarding decision he ever made.

Gore soon took a faculty position at Columbia University. He grew out a beard, taught a few classes, and generally seemed relaxed and happier in media interviews than he had been during the grueling Presidential Election.

He spent his time testing the waters in a wide variety of interests and potential projects. In late 2002, he announced he wouldn’t run for President in 2004, choosing instead to focus on his increased interest in the environment.

Once Gore had figured out his post-White House passion, he used his considerable media pull to maximize environmental awareness. In 2006, Gore released a documentary – “An Inconvenient Truth” – about the environment, which ultimately won him an Academy Award – and in 2007, Gore was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his environmental efforts.

It’s never easy to reinvent yourself – especially if you have spent your entire life doing one thing – but Al Gore figured it out. It would have been easy for him to just retire; instead, he chose to adapt to the new realities of his life – and ended up making a big impact.

Whether you agree with him or not, we can all learn something from this. Being able to adapt and thrive will put in an amazing position to reinvent yourself, build your personal brand, and ultimately make the kind of money you deserve.

Have you ever reinvented yourself? Please share and discuss in the comments below.

Why “Good Enough” Isn’t Good Enough

One night back in high school, I was working on a rough draft of a paper. I had been working on this paper for awhile and was sick and tired of hammering away. How much longer did this need to go on? I read it over, thought that it was “good enough,” and headed to bed.

A week later, my teacher asked me to stay after class. “Vik,” she said, “What happened here? This was far from your best work. I know that it was only a rough draft, but I know you could have done much better.”

I had a good relationship with this teacher and I decided to be honest. “Well, I really just thought it was good enough for the time being…I just figured I’d fix it up later.”

She looked at me. “Vik, there’s something you should know. When you think something is good enough, it probably isn’t. Chances are that you can really make it better. Saying ‘good enough’ is simply a way for you to justify it…to make it seem ok when you don’t feel like putting your best foot forward.”

I was a little taken aback at first. My teenage instincts kicked in. After all, I’d always done well in the class, so why was she picking on me?

But the more I thought it, the more I realized that she was absolutely right. I could have done much better, and I was just making excuses. Moreover, I had lost a huge opportunity to get feedback on my work so far, which would prevent my final paper from being as good as it could be.

Since then, I’ve noticed that all wealthy individuals strive to be something beyond “good enough.” They aim to excel; to be the best in the world at whatever they do. Sure, they might not make it, but that desire to push beyond minimum standards is what has made them the big successes that they are.

A living example of this is Tony Hsieh, the founder and CEO of In the 1990s, Hsieh was another bright-eyed Harvard graduate who wanted to change the world. A few years out of school, he founded his first company, an ad network called LinkExchange.

The company grew rapidly during the dot-com boom, and in 1998, Microsoft bought LinkExchange for $265 million.

All of a sudden, Hsieh was a 20-something multimillionaire. He never had to work another day in his life. It would have been easy to just retire on a beach somewhere.

But to Hsieh, that simply wasn't good enough.

A few years later, Hsieh took over as CEO of Zappos, an ailing online shoe retailer. Over the next several years, Hsieh built one of the most positive, productive company cultures of any company in the world. Zappos was routinely listed in publications as one of the best places to world. In 2009, Amazon bought Zappos for one billion dollars.

But Hsieh still wasn't done. Last year, he published Delivering Happiness, an instant bestseller that focused on his entrepreneurial journey, and the lessons he learnt along the way. Unlike many millionaire authors, Hsieh actually wrote the book himself, making it a personal statement that would inspire millions of people to pursue positive impact.

I had the privilege of seeing Hsieh speak a few months ago at a private event. Even with all his success, he still carries himself with the utmost humility, and acknowledges that there were many factors that account for his success.

It's because he knows that no matter what he does, it will never be "good enough."

And that's what drives him to succeed.

Have you ever felt that something was "good enough?" How did you overcome the feeling?

How Regular Guys Make Millions By Dating Supermodels

Mystery. Ross Jeffries. Neil Strauss. David DeAngelo.

Are any of these names familiar? If so, you’ve probably read The Game.

The Game is a book by Neil Strauss about pick-up artists, a group of men who claim to have “learnt the art of seducing any woman.”

The guys featured in the book are ordinary in every way. They aren’t particularly attractive, rich, or famous. And yet, they manage to date the most astonishing group of women: supermodels, actresses, you name it.

So how did they do it? I have no idea!  I read the book, and I’m still single.

What’s more interesting to me is how they leveraged their “secrets” into a lucrative business.

Take David DeAngelo (who's real name is actually Eben Pagan). DeAngelo is the founder of a program called “Double Your Dating.” If you visit the website, you’ll see a whole host of information products – ebooks, DVDs, and even seminars and workshops.

I have no idea if this will actually help you "double your dating." But one thing's for sure: there's definitely a huge market for it. Take a look at the traffic that Double Your Dating receives each month (image from

Clearly, DeAngelo has managed to build a large following, and from what I hear, he’s making a ton of money.

I decided to study DeAngelo's site to see exactly what he was doing right. I walked through his entire sales funnel, including signing up for his free e-mail newsletter. Eventually, I began to see exactly why he was able to get so many sales. Here are a few key messages that help DeAngelo generate massive sales numbers:

- Anyone Can Do It: This is the single most important message. DeAngelo makes it clear from the start that dating amazing women isn't just a privilege for a small number of guys. He emphasizes that when he started, he was just an ordinary guy who was struggling in the dating world. With his techniques, anyone will be able to replicate his success. This is a powerful message that casts a net over an extremely wide market.

- Practice What You Preach: DeAngelo isn't just a theorist. He has put all of his techniques into action, and repeatedly mentions this in the form of case studies and examples. He walks his students step-by-step through each technique, and explains exactly why it works the way it works. This gives him a massive boost in credibility.

- Friendly Sales Copy: DeAngelo makes a point of ending all of his e-mails and webpages with the phrase "your friend, David D." This friendly tone does a good job of convincing the reader that DeAngelo is really interested in helping them meet women, and not just out to make a quick buck. The e-mails are also very personal: they often discuss DeAngelo's struggles early on, and ask questions like "has this ever happened to you?" forcing the reader to think about past failures that he would like to avoid.

- Broad Product Offerings: Although David DeAngelo focuses on dating success, he offers a wide variety of specific products that cater to particular needs and interests. He breaks down his products into three broad categories: dating essentials (which are the "must haves"), inner game programs (which focus on how to develop confidence), and technique programs (which focus on actual pick-up situations). DeAngelo offers more than $1,000 worth of products in total, which allows him to upsell effectively and maximize the lifetime value of a customer.

- Money Back Guarantee: I've talked about this before, and it really does work. By offering a money-back guarantee, DeAngelo takes the risk away from the buyer. He is effectively saying that the buyer can't lose. Sure, he's going to get some refunds, but he'll also boost sales dramatically.

A final thought: Lots of people think that customizing your message to your audience is everything. Don't get me wrong – this is really important – but what's even more crucial is following these few key principals. Good sales copy and broad product offerings, combined with powerful psychological messaging, is going to move merchandising…no matter what niche you are in.

As proof, just take a look at Ramit Sethi's Earn1k sales tactics and observe the similarities.

What other examples have you seen of effective messaging? Please share in the comments.

Don’t Let Your Ego Get in the Way

The year was 1979. Phil Jackson was working as an assistant coach for the New Jersey Nets basketball franchise. In one game, the head coach was ejected and Jackson was asked to take over. The Nets were one point ahead going into the final seconds and had possession of the ball. Jackson called a time-out to outline the final play.

Before Jackson had a chance to speak, John Lee Williamson, the star player of the Nets, said “You’re going to go with ‘the man,’ right?”

“The Man” he was referring to was obviously himself. Phil Jackson was upset about his arrogance, and instead decided to go with Eric Money.

As play resumed, Eric Money caught the ball and moved it up the court for the final shot. Suddenly, the ball was stolen and a last-minute lay-up turned a Nets victory into a loss.

After the game, Williamson walked past Phil saying, “Told you that you should have gone with ‘The Man.’”

Jackson was angry at first, but later on he realized that he was actually to blame. Williamson may have been arrogant, but that didn’t mean that he wasn’t an amazing clutch shooter. Jackson had let his ego get in the way and cost his team a crucial victory. In his autobiography, Sacred Hoops, Jackson talks about this incident and how he uses the memory to keep his ego in check.

Phil Jackson eventually evolved into the greatest NBA coach of all time. In the last two decades, he’s won ten NBA championships with two different teams. Like all successful coaches, he’s very intense, driven, and hard working. But what really sets him apart is ability to make objective decisions. In his mind, the team always comes first – above individual players and certainly above his personal ego.

After reading this story, I realized that I had work to do in this area as well. Here are a few of my biggest takeaways:

Take time to reflect: We lead busy lives and we often get caught up in the heat of the moment. It’s often hard to make effective decisions. This is why I try to take a few minutes for reflection at the end of each day.

Control Your Emotions: I’ve said before that emotions are a part of life, but they shouldn’t have an impact on critical decisions. It’s amazing how a few deep breaths and a few seconds of relaxation can clear our heads.

Stay Focused: Remember that you have a goal. How you feel in the moment is just another distraction. If you constantly react to your emotions, you'll never be able to focus on your actual objectives.

Has your ego ever gotten in the way of making a good decision?

How the Mighty Have Fallen

Great businesses aren’t easy to build, but what’s often harder to sustain their greatness over time.

The same is true for our incomes. Perhaps you’re lucky enough to have built some nice streams of cash flow. At this point, many people would sit back, relax, and let the money roll in, when in fact they should actually be on the lookout for the next big threat. With that much money at stake, you’re bound to face a lot of competition.

In his most recent book, Jim Collins talks about how mighty companies have fallen…and what we can learn from it. Specifically, he emphasizes the importance of staying flexible. Keep on your toes and be willing to adapt. Here are some stories of companies that fell apart due to their unwillingness to change with the times…and how an up-and-coming firm took advantage of the opportunity.

The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company:

Sixty years ago, the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (commonly known as A&P) was one of the largest and most profitable companies in the United States. At the height of its power, A&P was the largest retail organization in the world, with a large network of local grocery stores all over the country.

For several decades, the “local store” business model had served A&P well. Americans had suffered through a depression and two world wars, and were perfectly content with having a few low-cost choices.

But in the 1950s, things started changing. All of a sudden, Americans had more money to spend. The old culture of frugality was out. Americans wanted more than just a few varieties of food in their local store; instead, they wanted a place where they could buy everything from food supplements to toothpaste to peanut butter. In essence, they wanted a “mega-store” to cater to their increased consumption.

A&P realized that things were changing. They decided to test the waters by opening up a new store called the Golden Key. The Golden Key was a separate brand that allowed A&P to experiment with new ideas: they gave store managers more freedom to choose a wide variety of products and move towards a “one stop shop” business model.

The result: increased customer satisfaction. Clearly, A&P’s experiment had given them the data they needed to reinvent their business. All they had to do was execute.

But A&P refused to adapt, even though they knew that their old business model was dying. They closed the Golden Key and instead tried to compete on price. This led to profit margins declining even further, which crippled the company’s ability to grow.

Meanwhile, competitors like Kroger’s department stores were embracing the new “superstore” business model. Like A&P, Kroger had conducted a number of experiments to discover these new consumer preferences. But unlike A&P, Kroger actually had the courage to take action. They systematically eliminated or changed every single store that didn’t fit into the business model of the future.

Kroger's willingness to adapt paid spectacular dividends – for 25 years, Kroger’s stock performed at ten times that of the market. Meanwhile, A&P kept limping along, and its stock price declined for several decades. Even today, the company is unprofitable.

Failure to Adapt: The Story of Poloroid Corporation

Remember Poloroids? Those little cameras that would magically print out a picture for you right after you took it?

In 1937, a chemistry student at Harvard named Edwin Land was researching an emerging technology called polarization. Through this research, he found that polarization could be used to instantly develop photographs; instead of having to wait for a few days, people could get their photos right away. He quickly realized that this would revolutionize the photograph industry and dropped out of school to start Poloroid Corporation.

Poloroid’s “instant cameras” were a huge success. People loved getting their pictures right away. For the next several decades, Poloroid Corporation was one of the largest electronics retailers in the United States. The company just kept growing and growing…until the digital age.

All of a sudden, people were able to take pictures electronically. They could instantly see how the picture had turned out, and could easily share them with their friends and family via e-mail. Why would you need instant pictures if you could see them immediately and print them at your leisure? Plus, users wouldn’t have to spend money on expensive camera film. Digital photos were clearly the future, and Poloroid had the resources and trusted brand to become a major player in this emerging market.

But they refused to adapt. They ignored the new technologies and continued churning out their classic cameras. Throughout the nineties, Poloroid kept losing market share, until finally in 2001, they were forced to declare bankruptcy. Even through bankruptcy, Poloroid kept manufacturing and selling their outdated products. It was only in 2008 that they finally decided to completely shut down this obsolete line of business.

The Story of Commodore Computers

The year was 1985. The personal computer was rapidly become a lucrative new business. Companies like Apple, IBM, and Atari Computer were making big moves to become major players. It was an exciting time for anyone in technology. But even though they were growing, Apple and IBM were running scared – all because of a wildly profitable company called Commodore Computers.

Commodore originally started out as a calculator manufacturer. In the early 1980s, they released the Commodore 64, which quickly became a huge hit. Between 1983 and 1986, the Commodore 64 sold more than two million units every year – somewhere between thirty to forty percent of the total market. The company seemed like an unstoppable force.

Ten years later, Commodore declared bankruptcy.

What happened? Commodore’s early success was in producing a computer that everyone could afford. What they failed to realize was that as technology advanced, computers would become more affordable in general. The old “low-quality, low-price” business model was dying. The other thing was that the market for software was on the rise – everything from word processing programs to video games. PC companies needed to work with software companies to make sure their new machines were compatible with the most popular software applications.

But Commodore refused to adapt. They figured that their technology and business model were so strong that nothing could ever threaten them. They refused to forge partnerships and market their products to new customers. As a result, they started losing market share to Apple and IBM.

By the early 1990s, no one was using the outdated Commodore machines. Pretty soon, the company was bleeding money. In 1994, they finally decided to throw in the towel. It’s sad that for all of their huge contributions to the industry, Commodore computers is nothing but a footnote in the history of the personal computer.

How do you think businesses need to evolve today? Please share in the comments

Learn Search Engine Optimization From The Best of the Best

This is part of my “best of the best” series, where I link to outstanding resources from authorities on a specific money-making topic. If you have any resources or ideas for future posts, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Since I started this blog, I have gotten a lot of questions about search engine optimization. This is because one of my businesses is buying and optimizing websites to rank on the first page of Google for various keywords. If the keywords are valuable, people may buy a product or service from one of my sites, and I’ll be paid a commission. Over time, this can add up, and can generate a pretty decent income.

To many people, search engine optimization is a mysterious thing. But it’s not actually a very complicated concept. Simply put, search engine optimization (or SEO for short), is a term for all the principles in designing a website that Google ranks highly.

If you do it right, search engine optimization is a great way to get new customers and leads day after day, month after month.

So how did I learn SEO?

Well, I could write a huge post on it, but I don’t want to reinvent the wheel. Instead, here’s a list of the best (free) resources available to learn SEO. Hope you find them helpful!

FAQ on Search Engine Optimization: This is really the best starting point for learning the basics of Search Engine Optimization. In this thread, you’ll learn exactly what different terms mean and the major areas that Google emphasizes in determining rankings.

How To Build BackLinks and Dominate Google: Glen Allsopp over at ViperChill runs an amazing blog on viral marketing, and most of his posts are very in depth. Link Building is probably the single most aspect of “off-site” optimization, and Glen does a great job as always.

Matt Cutts’ Blog ( Matt Cutts is a Google Engineer who has been with the company from the early days. Now, his main focus is educating the public on best SEO practices. Since he is a spokesperson for Google, his advice should be taken very seriously. Check his blog frequently for updates on what is going on.

The Simple SEO Strategy: This is a very simple guide to the fundamentals of keyword research, which is an important component of any good SEO strategy. Definitely a must-read and extremely thorough.

WordPress SEO Another great article from Glen. WordPress is a terrific way to get a website started at very low cost, but there are a few things you should do to improve search engine traffic. Glen shows you step-by-step exactly what needs to happen.

Farmer Algorithm Update: - this is actually an article I wrote here a few months ago, talking all about Google's major algorithm changes. There's a lot of valuable information and analysis here on why Google made the changes it did, and what to expect going forward.

Link-Building: - ok, this isn't an article, but there is basically a whole library of terrific resources on how to effectively build high quality links to your site. Definitely a must-read.

Are there any other articles or resources on SEO that you've found helpful? Please mention them in the comments.

A Tale of Two Billionaire Brothers

In 1948 a young man from India was working as a gas station attendant in Aden, a small town in the Middle-Eastern country of Yemen.

In 1958, the same young man returned to India to start his first company. It grew, and grew, and grew some more.

In 2002, the once young man had become wealthy. That year, he died, leaving his fortune to his two sons.

A fortune of nearly seven billion U.S. dollars.

That man was Dhirubhai Ambani. After his death, his two sons, Mukesh and Anil, decided to split the family business into two equal parts.

Anil took over the entertainment and financial arms of the company. His goal was to build an international media empire, fueled by glitz and glamour.

Mukesh took over the more traditional businesses, such as energy, pharmaceuticals, and manufacturing. His company, Reliance, emphasized discipline and process.

Today, Mukesh is nearly five times richer than Anil.

This was interesting…eight years ago, the brothers were in the exact same place. How was it that one brother had done so much better than the other?

I was resolved to find out.

I started researching the business activities of the Ambani family. Several hours later, I had come up with a few key insights:

Sex Doesn’t Always Sell:

Sometimes, boring business is good business. Sure, media and banking are glamorous, but you can often make more money in areas where there is lots of demand but fewer talented people.

Mukesh realized that there were certain things that everyone would always need, and invested accordingly. He focused on building businesses in pharmaceuticals, energy, and textiles. These businesses didn’t catch the attention of the media, but they consistently brought in a tidy profit.

On the other hand, Anil focused on building up assets in complex financial funds, film studios, and high-end real estate. For awhile, these investments did well, but in 2008, the house of cards started to collapse. Anil had borrowed too much money to finance businesses that weren’t profitable, and he eventually had to take billons of dollars in losses.

Play To Your Strengths:

Reliance was successful because it focused on its strengths. Mukesh knew that Reliance had grown because of talented managers and a strong corporate culture. He also knew that its continued success would depend upon these things.

Therefore, Mukesh went out of his way to hire talented managers who would help steer the business in the right direction. He was very aggressive in providing excellent incentives to foster long term growth, and did everything he could to retain the best people.

To Mukesh, a good manager was the biggest asset in growing a business…and it paid off.

Great People Matter:

Mukesh Ambani knew that he couldn't run and grow a $100 billion company without some high-quality help. After taking over his share of the business, Mukesh started headhunting top executives from prestigious firms throughout the world. He reasoned that the best people weren't actively looking for roles; they would be rising stars in another company and it was his job to sell them on joining Reliance.

Within a few years, he had recruited top talent from the best universities around the world and from many of the top global corporations. He made it a point to sit down personally with each of these executives, assess their talents, and figure out how they could maximize their impact within the organization.

Moreover, he wasn't afraid to pay top dollar for the best people. It might be tough to write those big checks, but he knew that it was an investment that would produce great rewards. And it did.

My Own Learnings:

A few months ago, I was sitting down with the CEO of a highly profitable, rapidly growing tech company in Silicon Valley. At the end of our lunch, I asked him one simple question: what is your long-term goal with this business?

His answer: to build a great company, which means three things:

1) Create products and services that customers love and want

2) Generate profits

3) Cultivate and retain the best people.

It sounds simple, and it didn't really resonate with me at the time. But as I read about Reliance, I suddenly realized that this is what it was all about – just three simple keys to business success. Easier said than done for sure, but it's amazing how focused we get on stuff that doesn't matter. Reliance proves that these three simple rules won't just make money, but can eventually scale into a large, profitable business.

How the “Thinking Distortions” Cost Us Money

I was having lunch with my old boss a few weeks ago. This guy is one of my heroes; a private investor who made more than $30 million for himself through a series of disciplined investments.

The interesting thing is that he’s not even that smart, or uniquely skilled. He’s not even a brilliant leader.

So what’s his secret?

It’s simple: he’s able to invest without emotion.

When he looks at opportunities, he is able to focus on one thing, and one thing only: return on investment. He somehow manages to subordinate his own feelings and zone in on the thing that matters.

At first, this sounded crazy to me. After all, emotions are a part of life.

This is true. But we don’t need to let emotions control our behavior. If we do, they’ll end up taking control of our wallets as well…

This also applies in business. You want to make the decisions that are best for you and your company, not the ones that simply make you feel good in the moment. This is the only surefire path to making the money that you deserve.

My boss then told me something interesting. Every time he feels some emotions, he checks to see if it falls under one of the “Thinking Distortions.”

Thinking Distortions are basically mind tricks. Our brain tries to confuse us by playing to our emotional side.

But if you are aware of them, you can become more objective. Here are some of the biggies:

“It’s my way or the highway” Sometimes we see things only in black and white, when there are shades of grey. Most situations aren’t all or nothing, and thinking this way can make us overlook the best options. Don’t be afraid to compromise just because you aren’t getting everything you want.

Generalizing Negativity: It’s easy to think negatively when something bad happens. We see one bad event as a precursor or result of another, and before we know it, our whole life looks like a mess. This is often a self-fulfilling prophecy; our negative thoughts lead to more bad events. Don’t let this happen to you. Instead, try to look at situations more holistically, analyzing both the good and bad in every situation.

Ignoring the Positive: It’s easy to take positive things for granted – a great relationship, a good job, a healthy body – but we often dwell on what’s wrong in our life. This is a waste of time and energy and makes us unhappy. It can also lead to some bad decisions. Again, if you find this happening to you, take a little time to honestly evaluate the big picture. Things are rarely as bad as they seem.

Jumping to Conclusions: This is a common mistake. It’s easy to make random assumptions and use these “conclusions” to come to a decision. We make assumptions about everything –what others are thinking about us, how strong we are at a given skill, etc.  But this is a trap. You are making a choice without knowing all the important facts. Instead, gather relevant information, define your options, and evaluate all the possible decisions. Then, and only then, take action.

Magnification and Minimization: We frequently exaggerate the importance of things that don’t really matter, instead focusing on the things that aren’t relevant.  You can avoid this by taking time to define the things that are most important to you. This will help you zone in on the information and choices that matter most.

Emotional Reasoning: Always remember that emotions are temporary. Therefore, they don’t actually reflect how things are. Don’t try to solve problems when you’re angry, sad, scared, or even excited and enthusiastic. Instead, take some time to get yourself back to neutral. Then, you’ll be in a better mindset to evaluate the situation.

Labeling: It’s very natural to place labels on other people. They help us organize our thoughts about people and situations – for example, if Jenny talks a lot when I first meet her, I’ll label her as an “extrovert.” The problem is we often make assumptions too quickly. First impressions aren’t always correct. Moreover, people and situations change over time. Always be on the lookout for new information and be willing to adapt your labels accordingly.

Personalization: We tend to hold ourselves responsible for the good and bad things in our life. However, there are many events (both good and bad) that we have no control over. If something bad happens that’s out of your hands, don’t sweat it. The flip side is also true – if you win the lottery tomorrow, don’t give yourself credit as a financial genius. It’s dangerous to think that luck isn’t a part of life.

When was the last time you had a thinking distortion? How did you react?

Make More Money By Controlling Your Anger

I got an angry call from my friend last week. He’d been having trouble with his boss for a few months now and in his own words, “just couldn’t deal with it anymore!” He ranted on for several minutes about how his boss wasn’t giving him the responsibility he deserved, was constantly undermining him, and that “he was going to give that @#$#@ a real piece of my mind!”

I waited for him to finish, and then told him to take a deep breath and relax. “Take a moment to calm down,” I said. “No sense in getting all worked up over nothing.”

“Over nothing! Are you kidding me?” and he exploded again. Whoops!

Fortunately, I managed to calm him down again. Over the next half-hour, we talked through the issues he had with his boss and started to come up with some solutions.

It’s easy to get angry. Whenever something is wrong, anger is the first thing we turn to…and sometimes it can be a good thing. Anger can be a great motivator for change; whether it’s making a broad social impact or simply working towards a better life for you and your loved ones.

But sometimes we get angry over nothing. What’s worse is when anger clouds our ability to make decisions. We do something rash, and all of a sudden we’ve lost our job or ended a promising relationship. This is an example of what you DO NOT want to do:

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My own story: Back in college, I received a particularly low grade on an exam. Naturally I was in a really bad mood and wanted to take it out on someone. I ended up getting in a huge, meaningless fight with my girlfriend about some silly thing; completely unrelated to my actual frustration. One bad result led to another bad decision.

Don’t get caught in a downward spiral. Negativity and rashness breeds more of the same, and it’s incredible how a few deep breaths can help alleviate your anger. Don’t let your emotions drive you to bad decisions.

So what we can do to control our anger and channel it in the right direction? Here is a three step process to handle your emotions:

Step 1: Just Breathe

Before you do anything else, you should take some time to calm down. Remember that anger is a reflex. It’s amazing how a few deep breaths can make us see things more clearly.

I was driving home a few nights ago, listening to the radio, when “Breathe” by Anna Nalick came on. I’d heard the song a bunch of times before, but as I listened this time the lyrics really jumped out at me:

Cause you can't jump the track, we're like cars on a cable
And life's like an hourglass, glued to the table
No one can find the rewind button, boys.
So cradle your head in your hands
And breathe… just breathe,
Oh breathe, just breathe

Sometimes we just wish that we’d done things differently. We all make mistakes, bad decisions, stuff we shouldn’t have said and things we shouldn’t have done. And sadly, there isn’t any magic time machine that’s going to change the past.

Instead, just breathe.

Step 2: Understand Why You Are Angry

Take a minute to understand why you were angry. Was it something trivial or does something really need to change? Maybe it’s a combination of both. Understanding the source of your anger will help you figure out what you need to do next. If you don’t know why you’re angry, you need to find out quickly.

We often get emotional after a setback. This is where it’s important to take time not to just rush into another bad decision. Remember that the past is the past; don’t let how you’re feeling right now negatively affect your future.

Step 3: Put Things In Perspective

Perhaps you have a good reason to be angry, but take a moment to think about how bad a situation really is. Most of the time, things are not nearly as bad as they seem.

In my senior year of college, I started looking for jobs. There was one company that I really wanted to join, but after hours and hours of interviewing, they decided to go another direction. I eventually found out the reason: they felt I “wasn’t willing to commit long-term to the success of the firm.”

I was angry at first, but as it turned out, they were absolutely right. That particular job would not have been a good fit for me, and they were looking for someone who wanted to make it a career. Instead, I went another direction, and today things are going pretty well.

In conclusion, we all get angry sometimes. It’s only natural.  But learning how to control it and use it effectively is a valuable skill. The next time you feel the urge to overreact, follow the steps above and see how you feel. Over time, you’ll adapt to a more “anger-free” lifestyle.

Calm and collected is ALWAYS more impressive than angry and condescending. If you can take the high road, people will respect you for it. This will translate into a better personal brand, and of course, a long-term increase in earning potential.

How do you control your anger? Please share in the comments.

How To Get $1,000 Worth of Advice For Free

Today, I'd like to share a simple technique to get thousands of dollars in valuable advice for $100 or less.

When I was first starting out as an entrepreneur, I made a lot of mistakes. I picked the wrong business models, hired the wrong people, and so on…

In the end, I wasted more than $10,000 of my own money on projects that went nowhere.

I was frustrated. I called Matt, a good friend of mine, for help. This friend had been a successful entrepreneur and listened patiently as I explained my struggles.

When I was finished, he spoke. "Vik, here's the problem. You jumped in headfirst without making the effort to learn from anyone beforehand. If you had spoken to some entrepreneurs earlier, you might have learnt from their mistakes and saved yourself some money."

I admitted that was a good point. "But Matt," I said, "These successful entrepreneurs usually charge $1,000+ per hour for their time. I can't afford that!"

"Vik, I'm going to let you in on a secret. Most successful people are much more accessible than you'd think. Before I made it as an en

trepreneur, I was able to have personal conversations with CEOs, top-tier investors, and even best-selling authors. Now, here's what you need to do…"

Over the next half hour, Matt explained his foolproof method for connecting with and learning from successful people.

Step 1: Make A List

Write down 5-10 influential people who are in your area. They don't have to be huge names, but they should be successful in some way.

Research these people as much as possible. Find out about their backgrounds and experiences. This way, you'll be well-prepared for your face to face meeting.

Step 2: Get In Touch

E-mail rarely works. Successful people usually get so much e-mail that they ignore most of what they receive.

Instead, try cold-calling. Look up their name in the directory and give them a call out of the blue. When they answer, make sure you have a 30-second speech prepared. Here's what Matt used:

"Hi, you don't know me, but my name is Matt Wilson and I run a small online business. I've always looked up to you and since we're in the same area, I was wondering if I could take you out to lunch sometime and pick your brain a little bit on how to build a successful business."

This makes it very hard for them to say no.

If you can't connect with them via phone, try other techniques such as Twitter. Many people prefer Twitter to e-mail, and I've personally found you're much more likely to get a response.

Matt also used some creative methods to reach out. One time, he mailed a package containing a coffee mug and a $5 Starbucks card to a successful businessman. When the businessman opened the box, he also received a note explaining the gift and asking for a face-to-face meeting.

Once again, Matt stood out and made it difficult to say no.

Step 3: Ask Great Questions

So now you've got your face-to-face. Remember, you're trying to get valuable advice, so don't spend the whole session talking about yourself.

Instead, prepare a list of specific questions you'd like to ask. Do this beforehand. You don't need too many – 3-5 should be plenty for an hour-long meeting.

Don't ask general things that you could find out elsewhere. You'll stand out more (and learn more) if you get into nitty-gritty stuff that is unique to this individual.

Bad question: What has been the most important reason for your success?

Good question: I noticed that you beat out (big firm XYZ) for the marketing contract. What specifically helped you overcome the objections that your firm is too small and inexperienced?

Step 4: Listen

If you ask great questions, people will start opening up. Before you know it, they'll be telling you techniques and secrets that they usually reserve for expensive consulting sessions.

At this point, many people will interrupt to jump in with their own stories. Resist this urge!

You are there to learn, not to talk. So shut up and listen, and you'll come out ahead.

Step 5: Offer To Help

Your hour's almost up. Whether it's lunch or coffee, make sure that you pick up the tab.

Wrap up the meeting by asking if you can stay in touch. Also, offer to help them any way you can. This is a good time to spend 1-2 minutes talking about yourself…but make sure it's in the context of helping them. They don't want your life story, only the parts that are relevant to their business.

If you follow these steps, you'll be on your way to learning a ton…for free!

Have you ever reached out to influencers? How did it pan out?