How To Be Attractive

Posted on November 29, 2015 by Josh Linkner

We all want to be attractive.  To get to the next level in our lives, we are trying to “attract” people: investors, employees, voters, customers, suppliers, friends, a mate, Facebook friends, Twitter followers, etc.  Of course, we need to turn up the attraction far beyond physical beauty and style to reach our goals in today’s hypercompetitive world.

The most successful business leaders use six key strategies to boost attractiveness. You can harness the same approach to drive meaningful results in your company, career, and community:

1) Lead with passion — When you are passionate about your ideas and connected to the purpose behind your mission, your attractiveness goes through the roof.  In the words of military theorist Ferdinand Foch, “The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.”  Amen.

2) Don’t fake it — Nowadays, we all have highly developed “BS detectors.” Keep it real. Authenticity trumps fancy talk any day. Trust must be earned and can be shattered in an instant. Stop being apologetic for who you are not, and celebrate who you are.

3) Be interested instead of interesting — Dale Carnegie had it right — you attract others when you are genuinely interested in them. Listen more, talk less. Ask questions and seek to understand. You’ll be amazed how everyone suddenly wants to be your friend.

4) Don’t waiver — If you are second-guessing yourself or your ideas, so will others. Confidence is the most attractive attribute in any act of persuasion, personal or business. Stand firm to your beliefs, and in turn, others will gravitate to you.

5) Be remarkable — The world doesn’t need another me-too anything. Whether you’re selling your product, yourself, or your vision, make sure they are unique and compelling. Dream your own dreams, not a slight variation of someone else’s.

6) Make a difference — If your idea is a scheme to make piles of cash at the expense of the world, you’ll have an easier time pushing boulders up a mountain. If you are solving a real human problem and truly working to make the world a better place, it will show and you will shine.

The toll booth to your next level of greatness is likely an upcoming act of persuasion. Seize these laws of attraction, and you’ll have more pull than a high-powered magnet. Focus on who you are, and the money, friends, team members, lovers, and supporters will materialize as if they were ordered from Overnight delivery.

Trend Hunting

Posted on November 22, 2015 by Josh Linkner

Drones, also known as unmanned aircraft, are getting a lot of attention in the media these days for the role they play in fighting terrorism.  They’re certainly top of mind for those who enjoy learning (and dreaming) about the future.

The emerging trend has expanded far beyond the military. Ambulatory drones are being used to deliver emergency medical supplies for trauma patients in hard to reach locations.

Low flying drones carrying high-powered magnets are now used to detect and eradicate land mines, saving thousands of lives around the world.  Amazon is pioneering the idea of drones as a speedy delivery system for e-commerce customers. And Florida Power and Light (FPL) is using drones to service electrical poles and wires in remote locations.

Undoubtedly, hundreds of fresh commercial applications will emerge from the cutting-edge trend of drones; perhaps even in your industry. Hunting for emerging trends like drones can be a wellspring of fresh ideas.  A platform for your creative expression. An opportunity to break free from the competitive pack.

Drones aren’t the only shifting trend. Today we are living in a rate of change like none other in history. Shifting demographics, mobile technology, and geo-political fluctuations all uncover new opportunities for trend spotting and creative inspiration.

A good friend of mine, Jeremy Gutsche, runs – the world’s largest source of future trend information.  The site boasts input from over 3.5 million trend spotters around the world, sharing emerging trends in everything from teen fashion to carbonated energy drinks. Jeremy has built his entire business to provide a view into the future.  That same glimpse into what’s next can drive meaningful progress in your business, as well.

The next time you’re facing a challenge, look past the obvious solutions.  The overused moves in your industry will only go so far.  Instead, look wide and explore emerging trends outside your industry.  See if you can borrow an idea, pattern, or technology to create a highly differenced – and more impactful – outcome.

I highly recommend a 15-minute “trend workout” each week.  Schedule the time to explore the world around you.  Discover what’s new and what’s next, and it will allow you to craft a successful future of your own.   Peek into the window of the future, and it will fuel your progress today. These 15 minutes will do a lot more for your company and career than saving you 15% on auto insurance.

If you really want to seize your full potential, make it a priority to be on the lookout for the new trends making waves.  The hunt is on.

Seeding Your Future

Posted on November 15, 2015 by Josh Linkner

How do you know if you’ve accomplished something today? What should you measure if you didn’t deliver something measurable? In an era of dashboards, metrics, and key performance indicators, should every ounce of your energy be directed at hitting near term deliverables?

In studying the behavior of the most successful people, I’ve noticed that they spend a good deal of time planting seeds. Yes, top performers deliver short-range tangible results, but they also constantly invest in the future.

When you take the time to help someone out with no immediate payback in sight, you are planting a seed. When you write an article, blog, or whitepaper – simply to share insight with others – you are planting seeds. When you volunteer at a local hospital, give back to the community, or pick up that piece of trash that everyone else sees yet ignores, you are planting seeds.

The results often come back to you in non-linear ways, but the return on your investment will absolutely be noteworthy. The college student you help, simply because it is the right thing to do, ends up referring his boss to you years later who, in turn, becomes your largest client. The speech you gave at a community event touches the mayor, who becomes an ally to you as you seek permit approval several months later.

The funny thing about generosity is that it actually ends up driving better results than the selfish person craves. If you go out into the world and greedily chase cash, you’ll seldom find it. But if you genuinely seek to make a difference, you’ll end up with an even greater bounty.

You can plant seeds by building new relationships. Helping a colleague. Extending support to others without issuing them an invoice in return. Sharing your knowledge. Supporting a friend during difficult times. Doing a favor. Pitching in without being asked.

The seeds you plant may not provide a boost to this month’s income statement, but there’s no question they will propel your future. It’s one of those things that grumpy, penny-pinching CFOs will advise against; which is all the more reason to keep on planting.

Sure, it’s a good day when you land a client, close a deal, or improve performance by 3.68%. But it’s a great day when you’ve planted fresh seeds. While it can’t be measured this month, you will savor the wonder and magic when those seeds bear beautiful fruit for years to come.

Plant away.

If You Want To Become a Leader, Start Acting Like One

Posted on November 8, 2015 by Josh Linkner

People are constantly asking me for advice on how to get promoted. They want to move up the ranks at their company, take on more responsibility, and expand their spheres of influence.

While the notion of being a leader seems nice (but possibly far off), you’ve got it backward. It’s not suddenly that you’re anointed as a leader and with that you’re bestowed responsibility — quite the opposite, actually.

If you want to become a leader, start acting like one.

Leadership isn’t about your title, nor is it about bossing others around. Being a strong leader means thinking about the team’s needs before your own, helping other people to grow and maximize their own full potential, and sharing credit when it’s due (don’t forget shouldering blame as needed, too).

Why do you need to wait to get a promotion to start doing any of this? Instead, begin today. The more qualities of a leader that you exhibit, the more obvious a choice you’ll be for the actual promotion down the road. By positioning yourself as someone who’s ready to take on more, you’ll be hard to ignore.

Let’s say you’re a salesperson striving to one day be a sales manager. While it would be inappropriate to ask your peer-level colleagues for their numbers or hold them accountable to a certain quota, you certainly can act in a way that helps enable their success.  For example, if a teammate struggled with his last demo, ask if he wants to shadow you on a few sales calls and then have a discussion over lunch about what went well and what didn’t so you can help him improve his game.

If it’s the end of the month and you know the crew will be there working late each day, be the one to show up with snacks and some music — by boosting morale and encouraging others to give all they have, you’ve helped the greater good. If you lose a big client and your current manager asks the group what went wrong, be the first person to vocalize how you personally could have done better — without casting fault toward anyone else. Or, if a big win unfolds, be the first to talk about what an awesome job others delivered on a particular project.

By giving praise to a teammate, or shouldering a difficult burden, you’re positioning yourself as the obvious choice for leadership.  Leadership is a state of mind rather than a position of authority.  Make a commitment to help others achieve more, and a leader you become.

If you start acting like one, you’re already a leader. With or without the fancy title.

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How Small Choices Help You Conquer Big Temptation

Posted on November 1, 2015 by Josh Linkner

When Darth Vader tried to persuade young Luke Skywalker to join the dark side, it wasn’t a very compelling proposition.

Who wants to wear a creepy outfit, talk weird, and live like a monster? If the dark side were that unappealing, it would be easy to say no.

But that’s not what modern-day darkness looks like at all. Instead it is shiny, juicy, and tempting. It comes perfectly packaged and marketed directly to our soft spots. That delicious candy bar or cheeseburger that poisons your body and robs your vitality. The expensive handbag that you have to have, but only drives you deeper into debt after momentary pleasure. That relationship that’s all surface and no substance.

In fact, the dark side looks anything but dark. It is appealing in every way and is designed to test you. Anyone can say no to living in a cave. It’s much harder to say no to the illustrious temptations that adeptly lure you in to their evil grips.

It often comes down to small choices. Should you watch trash reality TV or read something inspiring? Should you hit the bar or hit the gym? Should you perpetuate a relationship that provides nothing more than momentary indulgences or seek a partner that helps you reach the next level?

At nearly every turn you’ll face scrumptious temptations. The good news is that you get to make each choice along the way. Momentary pleasure or sustainable fulfillment. The easy thing or the right thing. Darkness or light.

If you think about it, your life becomes simply the product of all the choices you make. How important is it to achieve your full potential? To fulfill your long-term dreams? To make your biggest possible impact?

If you prioritize true fulfillment, you’ll have to make some tough choices along your journey. You’ll need to have the strength to say no to overwhelming temptation in order to say yes to your real calling. These days, we don’t conquer evil with light sabers. Today your weapon is purpose, passion, and commitment. You’ll win the fight with inner focus rather than outer strength.

The dark side is only getting more alluring. Which means your commitment to excellence is needed more than ever. Don’t be outsmarted by the hollow temptress. Stand firm in your place of power and watch these enticing shams crumble into dust.

As the dark side becomes yummier, it’s time for you to strengthen your resolve.

Master Yoda will be proud.

The Past Is Dead

Posted on October 25, 2015 by Josh Linkner

Most of us face incredible challenges in our lives. Difficult people. Ruthless competition. Time constraints. But so many of us succumb to an imaginary and impotent demon that strangles our potential and restricts our progress. This fictitious monster is called simply … the past.

While the past can be a great teacher, it can also shackle our imagination and relegate us to thinking small. Imagine carrying around a backpack full of rocks; each piece of stone representing some past injustice or setback. As that weight increases, playing your best and highest game becomes impossible unless you’re able to release the burden and liberate yourself.

Regret is the worst human emotion, since there is absolutely nothing we can do to change history. Dwelling on the past can eviscerate your ambition and is a fast path to unachieved dreams.

It reminds me of an ancient fable:

Two Zen monks were on a journey when they came to a river bed. At the edge of the river was an elderly woman who was unable to cross the river by herself. The older monk put her on his shoulders and across the river they all went. On the other side, the monk put her down and she went on her way and the monks their way. Several miles later the older monk noticed that the younger monk was obviously troubled by something and so he asked him about it. The younger monk stated that according to the tenets of their beliefs, they were not permitted to touch women and yet the elder monk had carried the old woman across the river. The younger monk could not let it go and was angry and upset for several hours. To this, the elder monk replied. “I left the woman at the riverside. Why are you still carrying her with you?”

It’s time to focus on the present and commit to a brighter future. It’s time to stop dwelling in a pit of despair, moaning over squandered time and lost opportunity. It’s time to release the burden of the past and seize today’s opportunity. It’s time to drive change and create your best life.

In the words of the Roman philosopher Seneca, “Don’t stumble over something behind you.”

The past is dead, but your future is very much alive.  Seize it.

The 5 Myths of Creativity

Posted on October 18, 2015 by Josh Linkner

Mention the word creativity, and people begin to squirm in their chairs. The very thought can prompt anxiety, fear, and doubt — even in the most accomplished professionals. Let’s explore some common myths, and uncover the truth behind this fuzzy topic.

MYTH 1: Creativity is only needed at the top

TRUTH: In today’s business environment, creativity applies to everyone. The organizations that win in these challenging times have creativity as a core priority at all levels of the organizational chart. We must embrace the concept of Everyday Creativity: fresh ideas and creative problem solving in every business setting. Every meeting. Every customer interaction.

MYTH 2: People are creative (or not) based on what they do

TRUTH: Your role has nothing to do with your creativity. There are professional musicians in major symphonies that are great technicians but don’t use an ounce of creativity. There are also statisticians that are brilliantly creative. Don’t let labels dictate or limit your creativity.

MYTH 3: Creativity can’t be developed

TRUTH: As human beings, we all have tremendous creative capacity; we just need to develop it. Your level of creativity isn’t fixed at birth. Instead, think of creativity as an expandable muscle. You don’t become a champion bodybuilder without hitting the gym. Similarly, to build creative capacity requires some practice and focus. There is an overwhelming amount of scientific research confirming that you can grow your creativity at any age.

MYTH 4: Creativity isn’t my job

TRUTH: Today, creativity is everyone’s job. For your organization to enjoy success, creativity must be harnessed at all levels. It is no longer just something those “art people” do. There isn’t a job function that can’t benefit from creative problem solving, fresh ideas for the future, or simply finding a better way.

MYTH 5: My technical skills and experience are enough

TRUTH: Maybe in the past, but definitely not in the future. Unorthodox approaches, original thought and imagination have become the currency for success in the new world of business … and life. The difference between getting a promotion, making the sale, raising capital, or reaching your full potential lies in your ability to embrace and nurture your creative potential.

In our fist-fighting business climate, we’re faced with unprecedented challenges. The stakes are higher than ever, but so is the opportunity. Dispelling the myths, and then harnessing your own creativity can be the difference-maker for you and your company.

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The Math of Worrying

Posted on October 11, 2015 by Josh Linkner

Think about how much time you spend fretting about what might happen.  Those deer-in-the-headlights moments are not only agonizing but they are profoundly unproductive.  With each minute you spend in a state of worry, you’re robbing yourself of the opportunity to contribute to your own success and the world around you.

The funny thing about worrying is that the vast majority of concerns never materialize.  Stewing about what might happen if a client changes her mind was wasted time when in the end, the client does no such thing.  Worrying about a disease that never emerges or being scolded by a boss who ends up giving a compliment is absolutely wasteful.  Watching the Kardashians would be more productive.

Only a small percentage of most people’s concerns actually come true.  The majority of worry-time could be redeployed into something –anything – far more effective.  You’ll stress less, and end up having more resources available when a setback actually occurs.  Let’s look at the math:

If a typical person worries for a total of three hours per week, this adds up to 156 hours per year of immobilizing anxiety.  Now let’s say 5% of the worries actually come true.  That means that 148 hours were utterly wasted worrying about stuff that never ends up happening.

What if you recaptured the entire 156 hours and spent your days full of energy and free of anxiety?  In addition to enjoying life more, you can use that time to create art, learn a new language, get in shape, read a book, play with your kids, counsel a friend, or help your community.  Instead of the depleting act of wallowing in fear, you can be making an impact and advance your life.

But what about the negative things that do end up happening? Even if you carve out 30 hours to deal with the fallout of setbacks one they occur (instead of biting your nails in advance), you still end up with a gift of over 120 hours to pursue your calling.

It’s time to let go of the worry-demon and embrace the new abundance of time and energy that will come as a result of releasing this burden. Break free from the shackles of useless anxiety and sprint toward the activities that will drive the most progress in your life.  You get to choose what you think about, so you might as well instruct your mind to think positively and release those unproductive concerns.

Crunch the numbers and you’ll be well on your way to seizing your full potential.  This kind of math sure beats long division, no?

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Ignore The Critics

Posted on October 4, 2015 by Josh Linkner

Paul Bartolotta is no ordinary business leader. He’s the CEO of a wildly successful company that owns and operates 20 restaurants. He’s one of the most important celebrity chefs in America, having won the prestigious James Beard Award – twice. His excellence has been recognized directly from the President of Italy, and he was hand-picked by Steve Wynn to create the resort’s signature Italian restaurant. Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare, under Paul’s leadership, has won dozens of awards and has been named as one of the Best Restaurants in America. Paul’s direct and creative style has also helped him become a TV star. He’s appeared on Jimmy Kimmel, The Today Show, Top Chef, and Iron Chef.

I had the opportunity to speak with Paul this week, and he told me something that really struck me: He never read his reviews.

When his high-profile restaurant opened in Las Vegas, his team would devour every customer review and rush in to show Paul. It turns out that 90% of the customer reviews were negative. The restaurant was too expensive. Too different. Too bold. But 10% of the customers fell in love. They connected with his daring new concept and were delighted with every aspect of their experience. They got it.

Conventional wisdom would be to make a bunch of changes in an effort to appeal to all customers. Cut corners on quality to reduce the price. Make sure to add dishes that are staples at most Italian restaurants. In other words, the feedback could have lured Paul into diluting his vision to appease the masses. Instead of falling into that trap, Paul stopped reading the reviews and stayed true to his art. Over time, customers who were the wrong fit self-selected out, while word spread to the savvy few who truly appreciated this culinary experience. As time progressed, the reviews flipped. His team now tells him that 90% of the reviews are raving fans. The world learned to understand and cherish his creativity, making Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare one of the top restaurants in the world.

As we fight to build our own businesses, it’s easy to cave to the pressure of the masses. But pandering to the crowd ends up diluting your potency, and you end up with yet another generic offering. The world doesn’t need another commodity. What we crave – and will pay handsomely for – is originality. Bold thinking. Fresh, creative approaches.

What if Picasso watered down his bold art because early critics felt he went too far? What if Steve Jobs catered to his doubters instead of his dreams? To me, this is the difference between a robotic MBA and an artist. While the bean-counters focus on near-term profits, mass-appeal, and adjusting to every critique, the artists stay committed to creating work that matters.

Speaking with Paul Bartolotta, I was impressed with his many accolades, but I learned his true profession – Paul is an artist. And so are you. No matter what business you’re in, stay true to your art. Don’t shy away from boldness. Ignore the reviews. Stop trying to please everyone. Embrace this audacious approach over time, and the customers will eventually form a line at your front door.

How a Simple Innovation Led to Greatness

Posted on September 27, 2015 by Josh Linkner

Beau Coffron wasn’t trained as an artist. He didn’t study at the Culinary Institute in Paris. He didn’t even set out to build a business.

Yet he’s currently running one of the hottest parenting/food sites on the Web, attracting major brand sponsors from around the world and serving up creative ideas to hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic visitors.

Beau (also known as “The LunchBox Dad”) is married with three kids and works with high school students as his day job. Even though he lives in the San Francisco area, he wasn’t focused on building an online media company.

Instead, his real motivation was to show his daughter how much he loved her. He also wanted to encourage her to eat healthy and learn to love nutritious food choices.   After losing his own dad a few years back, Beau reflected on the positive relationship he shared with his father. He really wanted to create a similar bond with his daughter, a kindergartner at the time.

To this end, Beau started crafting healthy, fun, creative bento lunch boxes for his daughter to discover at school. His idea was to fashion them after things she loved — princesses, flowers, ponies, TV shows, and music groups.

These lunchboxes were a huge hit, and as other parents lined up asking for recipes and ideas, Beau launched his site,

Photo credit: Beau Coffron

Photo credit: Beau Coffron

With a flood of “mommy blogs” already online, he wanted to craft a site that promoted the importance of a strong father relationship and to help others connect with their own kids. A hit was born. Today, the site is growing at an extraordinary pace with 100,000-plus page views each month and more than 60,000 social media followers. Major advertisers such as Hewlett-Packard, Chobani, and Quaker Oats are lining up to sponsor the white-hot site.

I recently had the chance to interview Beau. I wanted to better understand what’s driving his incredible success and help extract those valuable lessons for us all. Here are some of the driving factors that have made The LunchBox Dad an international sensation:

Photo credit: Beau Coffron

Photo credit: Beau Coffron

Vision trumps experience. Beau wasn’t trained as an artist or chef, but he didn’t let a lack of formal qualification get in his way. His passion for parenthood cut through the obstacles and his determination helped him quickly learn the necessary skills. In your case, don’t let the things you haven’t yet learned get in the way of pursuing your dream.

Follow your calling and the money will follow. Neither money, fame, nor owning a successful international business was Beau’s primary motivation. He created his site to build better bonds between kids and dads. As a result, financial gain followed. I’ve found throughout my career that pursuing money alone rarely leads to success. Instead, chase after greatness and impact, and the money will come as byproduct.

Photo credit: Beau Coffron

Photo credit: Beau Coffron

Creativity can solve the toughest challenges. As a parent, I can testify how difficult it was to get my kids to eat healthy, especially to enjoy it. That is one of the toughest challenges on the planet, but Beau used creativity to solve it in a fresh way. By making it fun instead of a chore, his daughter (and later his son) couldn’t wait to discover and devour their next healthy lunch. In the business world, our first instinct is to throw money, people, or computing power at our biggest hurdles. Try throwing your imagination at these problems instead, and you may end with a far better result.

Principles win over near-term profits. Coffron routinely rejects offers from companies that want to ride the wave of his success. Instead, he only partners with brands he believes in. Brands that are responsible and truly help kids and parents. By having a strong ethical backbone, his site remains authentic and true to his beliefs, which shows through to his loyal audience and fuels his continued growth. Ads for unhealthy fast food restaurants would probably boost the bottom line but also would undermine his credibility. We’re all tempted to cut ethical corners on a daily basis, but staying true to your values will lead to sustainable success over time.

Photo credit: Beau Coffron

Photo credit: Beau Coffron

The LunchBox Dad is now inspiring parents and businesspeople around the globe. His playbook of Vision, Calling, Creativity, and Principles is one that we can all learn from, helping to reach our full potential while making the world a better place. By flipping a simple idea upside down, Beau has reached incredible success. Find your own simple innovation, and you’ll enjoy the same delicious victory.

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