Archive for December, 2008

Interview with Author and Blogger Leo Babauta

Leo Babauta

Leo Babauta

Today you are in for a special treat. This week, I had the privilege of interviewing Leo Babauta, the author of the blog Zen Habits and of the new book (released today!) called “The Power of Less”.

In the interview below Babauta shares about his definition of success, how he got the book deal, and how to start of 2009 with purpose!

I encourage you to order his book and check out the  book’s website which has a wealth of resources including audio training and a free ebook.  Finally, if you purchase his book by January 1 you can enter this special contest.
For now, enjoy the interview:

1. What is your definition of success? How did you come to that definition?

I define success as happiness — doing the things and spending time
with the people that make you happy. That might be something as simple
as having a satisfying life with your children and spouse, or
achieving great things and helping people while doing something you’re
passionate about. Whatever makes you happy.

It took me awhile to figure out that wealth and the traditional
definitions of success — making a huge name for yourself, achieving
status in society, having a big house and cars, and so forth — didn’t
mean much if you weren’t happy. I tried to pursue those traditional
definitions of success at first, but after a time I realized that I
wasn’t spending time with my wife and children, I was working too
much, and the material things weren’t worth the sacrifices. I had to
rethink my view on life, and once I realized the true definition of
success I’ve never been happier.

2. What steps do you take to pursue personal growth?

I learned to focus on what I really love doing, and restructured my
life so I had time for those things. So today I make my living doing
something I’m passionate about, instead of making a living doing
something that makes money and waiting for the day when I had a chance
to do what I’m passionate about. This has lead to so much in my life
– not only happiness but greater accomplishments than ever before.
That’s a nice side benefit because the happiness is what really
matters.

3. What led you to start Zen Habits?

I’d been going through a series of positive personal changes –
quitting smoking, running, waking early, eating healthier, getting
organized and productive, and so forth — and I’d been learning a lot
while doing these things. I was so excited about all of it that I
decided to share what I’d been learning, as well as my failures, so
that others could benefit too.

4. Could you explain the meaning of the name Zen Habits?

It’s a combination of two ideas I’d been trying to implement — it
embodies my philosophy in two words. The first word, “Zen”, refers not
to my religion but to what I’d learned from reading about Zen and
doing some Zen meditation — learning to focus on the moment, on
whatever I was doing at the time. It’s a simplicity that I’ve learned
is very powerful in all areas of life.

The second word, “Habits”, refers to the series of habit changes that
I’d been making in my life, and my belief that simple but effective
habit change techniques can have a great impact on whatever we do. We
are our habits, after all.

5. How did your book deal come about? What was the writing process like?

The book deal followed the success of Zen Habits — I’d grown to
20,000 or 30,000 subscribers and it was clear that a lot of people
were interested in the things I was writing about on Zen Habits. I was
contacted by an agent and some publishers and decided to do a book,
and received immediate interest.

The writing process was actually very difficult — first of all
because I was still trying to write for Zen Habits and start up
another blog and get married and train for a marathon and plan for my
honeymoon. It was too much, so I simplified and cleared my schedule
and focused entirely on the book until I got it done. It’s more proof
that the techniques in The Power of Less actually work!

The Power of Less

The Power of Less

6. Could you explain the meaning of the name, “Power of Less”?

It refers to how we can achieve more by focusing on less — if we focus on the important things. It also talks about how starting small is better, as it leads to greater chances of success. It talks about simplifying, about the power of applying limits, and the power of doing one thing at a time. Concentrate your focus on smaller things and you’ll be much more effective.

7. What are your goals for the book?

The same as my goals for Zen Habits — help as many people as possible. I’m hoping to reach a wider audience through the book, to share some of my simple philosophy and effective techniques so that others can benefit from things I’ve learned. If it does well and I get another book deal out of it, even better!

8. Who are the biggest influences in your life?

There are so many! I’m influenced by philosophers and doers, such as
Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen and Taoist
philosophy, and many many writers. I’m influenced by my mom, Shannon
Murphy, my dad, Joe Babauta, my grandparents, my children, my wife
Eva. Many blogs and books have also helped shape who I am.

9. What inspires you?

I am inspired by others who are living their dreams, who have found
simplicity and happiness, who have learned to be compassionate, who
live in the moment. I love reading blogs and books and magazines about
these things, and of course I find people every day in my life — both
online and in the real world — who are doing amazing things and who
inspire me daily.

10. How do you recommend someone starts the new year?

By creating a new positive habit! Don’t create resolutions — they are
often vague and unactionable. Instead, use the habit-change techniques
in my book to create a new habit that will last much longer.

Go to thepowerofless.com to join The Power of Less New Year’s
Challenge
— we’re going to help people create a new habit in 30 days,
using just 10 minutes a day!

Thanks Leo Babauta for the interview.  Everyone, check out his book today.

The Success Professor – Danny Gamache

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Posted on December 30th, 2008 by The Success Professor  |  5 Comments »

Sunday Browsing: Oragami Prodcutivity, Perseverance, and Life as a Jigsaw Puzzle

Hello everyone,
It has been a wonderful relaxing week with family, enjoying and celebrating Christmas.  I hope you have all had a great holiday season.  I’ve spent some enjoyable time browsing the net this week so here are a few of my favorite sites.

The blog Anywired shares about Origami Productivity.

Leadership expert John Maxwell writes an excellent article about perseverance.

Wired has a review of three different productivity books with one of my top 10 books coming out on top.

Pick The Brain compares life to a Jigsaw Puzzle.

Finally, Practical Hacks has 6 Simple Steps to Conquer Procrastination.
Have a great week!  Don’t forget to set goals for the week!

The Success Professor – Danny Gamache

Posted on December 28th, 2008 by The Success Professor  |  1 Comment »

What we can Learn from the Economic Troubles

In his new book, “Hot, Flat and Crowded”, Tom Friedman shares the following thought:

In some ways, the subprime mortgage mess and housing crisis are metaphors for what has come over America in recent years: A certain connection between hard work, achievement and accountability has been broken. We’ve become a subprime nation that thinks it can just borrow its way to prosperity – putting nothing down and making no payments for two years. Subprime lenders told us that we could have the American dream – a home of our own – without the discipline or sacrifice that home ownership requires.  We didn’t need to save or build a solid credit record.  The bank around the corner would borrow money from China and lend it to us – with a credit check no more intrusive than the check you get at the airport when they make sure the name on your airline ticket matches the one on your driver’s license.

This quote can remind us of some simple success principles.

1. Hard Work is Key -

Society has become fixated on easy ways to wealth.  People everywhere are looking for quick fixes to their problems.  The lesson in this is that hard work is key.  That doesn’t mean you need to spend time doing things that aren’t important, or that you can’t be more productive at times working less.  What it means is that achievement is contingent on working hard (and smart).

2. Debt is not the Answer –

The focus on using debt as a form of leverage has failed.  Corporations leveraged to the max have failed.  Individuals intent on turning the realestate boom into instant wealth are now stuck with properties they don’t want and can’t afford.

3. Wealth and Success do not have to be Instant –

In a society focused on speed we have grown to cellebrate and admire the instant success.  For most succes doesn’t come in an instant.  It comes as a result of hard work and determination sustained over a period of time.  We need to move away from an instant society and reward cellebrate those who persevere.
The good news is that we can use this time as a wake up call.  We can work on cutting uneeded spending, getting out of debt, and committing to worthwhile goals.  By working hard and persisting towards the worthwhile we can all achieve true success.  It might not be in an instant but it will come!

The Success Professor – Danny Gamache

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Posted on December 23rd, 2008 by The Success Professor  |  No Comments »

Sunday Browsing: Annual Reviews and a Balanced Life

Written by: The Success Professor – Follow me on TWITTER!

I’m on the road for the next couple of weeks enjoying the holidays. I hope to spend some time writing, although internet access may be a little sporadic. I’ll aim to post a few times during this time.

Here are some great websites that I have found recently:

Chris Guillebeau of The Art of Nonconformity shares about how to conduct your own annual review

Alexandra Levit shares about a new type of “balanced life” in the New York Times.

The Colorado Springs Gazette does a case study of hour the Four Hour Work Week can be applied in the workplace.

Seth Godin says that the Internet is Almost Full.

Presentation Zen shares some great thoughts from Malcom Gladwell including this new video:


@ Yahoo! Video


Hot from the archives:

A Wicked Example of Customer Service

Enjoy the week!
The Success Professor – Danny Gamache

Posted on December 21st, 2008 by The Success Professor  |  1 Comment »

Lessons From a Tightrope Act

Written by: The Success Professor – Follow me on TWITTER!

A few years ago I was at an event where I had the privilege of seeing the “Flying Wallenda’s” and hear their story.  The “Flying Wallenda’s” are a hire wire tight-rope act.  Their performance is breathtaking and scary, even to watch.  One of the things that they shared is an important lesson for life and business as well.  In explaining how they do their tight-rope walking, they shared how they would walk with their focus on something out ahead of them, and they would then move slowly towards that point. They would not look down, not even at the wire.  They would only focus on the one point straight ahead of them – the point they wanted to walk towards.  As trained professionals, they would always get where they were aiming for.

This principle can easily translate into our businesses and the rest of our lives – whatever we focus on is what we will move towards. This is always true, and works clearly in our lives and business.  Where you are today is primarily a result of what you have focused on in the past.  If you focus on failure, chances are that you will fail more than you will succeed.  If you focus on the next step towards your goals, you will move in that direction.

What you focus on also will determine which of your goals you make progress towards. If you focus on how you can be a better parent, then you will make progress towards that goal.  You will leave work in good time and do what it takes to spend time with your children.  If your main focus is advancing in your career then you will likely make progress towards that goal.  You likely will stay late at work, take work home with you, and do what you can to make your boss happy.

This isn’t magic and it isn’t something that happens all at once. It is just good success psychology.  I see this principle all of the time in my job.  As a professor, I interact with a wide variety of students with different goals and maturity levels.  It is clear the ones who focus on the social side of their college experience – they will take the steps towards more social interaction.  What they may neglect is their school work and their marks.  On the other hand, the ones focused on achieving excellence in their studies will likely do well on their assignments.  This doesn’t mean that they will all get A’s.  While many will, some will score B’s and C’s.  Because they focused on pursing excellence, they will no doubt do better than they will otherwise.  They may not be the best, but they will all move towards the goal they are focusing on.

This principle is a major reason why more people are not successful in their business. They get distracted and look away from their goal.  These distractions can come in many forms.  You may get distracted by your work, by your family, or by entertainment.  Certainly many of these can be good things.  They are not things you want to neglect.  You need to ask are they taking you away from focusing on your goal.

The starting point for this process is, of course, your goal.  Before the “Flying Wallenda’s” even stepped on to the tight-rope they picked their goal – the spot they would focus on. They clearly fixed that spot in their mind and in their sight.  In business and in life, you must know your goal and it must be clear.  You must be able to picture your goal in your mind and be able to clearly articulate your goal in an instant.  That way, when you step out into your day you always can have your goal in mind.  By focusing on your goal in this way you will always be doing things to move towards it.  If you look to your goal throughout the day, you will not miss opportunities to move towards your goal.

Once you have your goal you need to step out and move toward your goal. Do this even if there is fear.  I imagine the “Flying Wallenda’s” still have fear when they step out onto the tightrope.  Moving toward every significant goal will require moving past fear and out of your comfort zone.  When moving through fear it is extra important to keep your eye focused clearly on your goal.

Just like the “Flying Wallenda’s” we are moving towards what we focus on, whether we realize it or not. Once you realize this you can move towards goals that YOU chose.

The Success Professor – Danny Gamache
Related articles: Six Steps to Plan Your Week for Success

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Posted on December 16th, 2008 by The Success Professor  |  No Comments »

10 Easy Steps to Get Started with Twitter

Twitter is everywhere.  More and more people around the world are joining Twitter and finding it useful for connecting with friends, growing their business network and for learning.  I joined Twitter just over a week ago and I have already found it to be a useful tool.  I have connected with old friends that I hadn’t talked to in a long time, built some great new relationships, expanded my business reach, and discovered great articles and websites that my friends have shared with me.  You too can benefit from Twitter.

What is Twitter?

In its basic form Twitter is a unique social network that allows people to connect with very brief messages called “tweets”.  Each tweet can be no longer than 140 characters.  You can send a tweet to all of your “followers”, who are people who have selected to get your tweets.  Early on you’ll start with just a few followers, but that will grow to hundreds and even thousands of people as you build your network.  You can also send tweets directly to individuals within your network (kind of like a private email), or as replies to other people, both in public and in private.

Setting up with twitter is easy.  In fact you can do it in these 10 easy steps.

1. Register

Obviously the first step is to register with Twitter.  Simply visit http://www.twitter.com and click the “Get Started – Join” button.  Think for a minute before you register about what name you want to go by.  Do you want to use your real name?  Do you have a blog name that you want to go by?  For example, I go by successprof.   I could have gone by my real name, but I chose my blog name because that is the brand I want to build. One of my goals for being on twitter is building relationships around my brand.

2. Create a Bio

Take some time to fill out all the information in your settings area.  This will be your bio info.  As part of this section you will be given the option to protect your updates.  If you are looking to build your network, DO NOT check this box.  Selecting this will limit who will see your updates.

3. Upload a Photo

Make sure you upload your photo right away.  This will make you seem more real and add personality to your tweets.  Most of the time only a small image will be shown so make sure that your photo is primarily a head shot.  Also be sure your photo looks professional so as to attract the type of people you would like to meet.

4. Find an Add-on for Firefox

If you are using Firefox as your web browser (and I recommend you do!) then getting a Firefox add-on for Twitter will be useful.  There are many Twitter add-ons.  Generally they allow you to get Twitter updates to show up directly within your browser and allow you to update your Twitter feed easily and smoothly.  You can browse through the add-ons here.

5. Get Tweet Deck

The best way to use Twitter is to have Tweet Deck.  Tweet Deck is a software program that allows you to follow Twitter updates easily and quickly. It categorizes them in to replies, direct messages, and all tweets.  It notifies you when new tweets come in and makes them all simple to follow.  You will likely want to turn off the notifications so you can focus more on your work, but when you have time to review the twitter updates this program will save you lots of time.

6. Add a personalized background.

While those with programming experience or lots of time can develop very amazing backgrounds for their Twitter profile, it is also very easy to add a simple personalized background in just a few minutes.  Visit http://www.twitbacks.com/ and you can personalize your background in just a couple of minutes.

7. Start meeting people in areas of interest

Now it’s time to start meeting people.  You do this by “following” people of interest.  Initially look for people who have similar interests to you and to your business.  A good place to start is with Twitter’s Search function. There are a number of Twitter directories you can use to help find people of interest.   Another good place to start is by following bloggers whose blogs you read.  You can follow me here: @successprof.  A good place to start is with Twittip’s 10 Must-Follow People. Once your base of followers grows you can a service called Mr. Tweet to recommend other like-minded people for you to follow.

8. Expand your network

Once you are following a number of people of interest you can find more people of interest by going through the followers lists of some of the people you follow.  For example if you are interested in fitness and are following a top fitness blogger, you will find that the other people following her are also interested in fitness. Now you can go through her followers list looking for interesting people to follow.  A further benefit of following a lot of people is that many of them will also follow you, increasing the number of people who will read you tweets.

9. Contribute something of value.

If you want to grow your network and build relationships through twitter you need to know why people would want to follow you.  Ask yourself, what value can I add through my tweets?  This will be different for everyone.  I look to add value by sharing the personal development activities that I do, sharing interesting web sites that I come across, and giving updates about my blog posts.  The more valuable your tweets, the more followers you will have.

10. Reply to interesting tweets of others.

Finally, get involved in the conversation by replying to interesting tweets of others.  Look for ways to ask questions or answer questions that others have.  This will help you get to know other people and build relationships within your network.

Written by:
The Success Professor – Danny Gamache
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Posted on December 11th, 2008 by The Success Professor  |  10 Comments »

The Success Professor’s Top 10 Podcast Choices

Written by: The Success Professor – NEW: Follow me on TWITTER.

This article is a follow up on my popular articles Six Ways to Grow Daily and The Success Professor’s Top 10 Book Choices.

Podcasts are a fantastic way of learning, being inspired, and for personal growth.  They are audio presentations that you download and are able to listen to at your convenience, whether on iTunes or on an iPod (or other Mp3 player).  If you don’t currently listen to any podcasts the first step is to download iTunes. After subscribing to podcasts, such as the ones listed below, iTunes will automatically download any recent episodes every time you open the program.  I listen to some podcasts directly on my computer and download others to my iPod.

Each of these podcasts can be found by searching for the title in the iTunes store, or by subscribing at the webpage linked to in the title of each podcast.

1. Inspiring Words of Encouragement – Zig Ziglar

Motivational expert Zig Ziglar offers this excellent podcast.  The subject list is diverse within the framework of living a positive life.  Past episodes include tips on success, lessons for salespeople, and even parenting advice.

This podcast is updated every two weeks, and I never fail to be encouraged, inspired, and to learn from every episode.  The full archives are available for download also, giving you lots of powerful motivational material.

2. Mosaic – A Community of Faith, Love & Hope

One of two churches that make the list.  I hesitate to call it a church.   Partly because it meets in a night club, and partly because it is nothing like most churches you may have experiences with.

Pastor Erwin McManus is an amazing communicator of God’s word.  He does it in a way that communicates the true message of Jesus.  He speaks of important personal development topics such as work, relationships and money.  Be sure to make your way into the archives of past messages.  My favorite messages that I recommend you check out are entitled, “Fear”, “Work”, and “Everyone Gave”.

3. Dave Ramsey Show Podcast

Financial guru Dave Ramsey and author of the Total Money Makeover (one of my top 10 books!) hosts a national daily radio show that talks about your life and your money.  The podcast is a one hour segment (forty minutes because no commercials!) each day from his radio show.

In this segment Ramsey helps people with life and financial issues, guiding listeners to make a change in how they think about money.  His goal is that “you will live like no one else so later you can live like no one else.”

4. The Daily Boost

This is a powerful motivation podcast from motivationtomove.com   The free podcast is generally a once a week motivating message, that comes out of their daily podcast service for “premium” members. Currently they are sharing the top 10 messages of the year with all free subscribers.

The messages are short, about 10 minutes a day, and provide a powerful personal development tip that motivates you to move forward.  I am considering upgrading to the paid premium membership, the podcasts are that good!  At least check out the free version.

5. Duct Tape Marketing Podcast

John Jantsch, author of the book Duct Tape Marketing, hosts this excellent podcast filled with interviews of marketing experts and entrepreneurs.  It is always informative and helps to keep up to date with trends in the world of marketing, particularly social media and new marketing. These podcasts come approximately once a week and there is a fantastic archive of previous episodes.

6. Alex Shalman Podcast

Alex Shalman’s personal development podcast is an outgrowth of his excellent blog.  This podcast is a weekly podcast that interviews people on the topic of personal development.  Alex asks excellent questions that give you an insight into how successful people think about their lives.  This podcast is brand new and that is the only reason it isn’t ranked higher on my list.  If the quality continues as it has in its first few weeks it will quickly move up my ranks.  The podcast is weekly and comes every Monday.

7. Meeting House Podcast

The second church service on our list is led by pastor Bruxy Cavey.  Bruxy is the author of the book “The End of Religion” which might give you a pretty good picture as to why this church is so unique.  They consider The Meeting House as the irreligious church.  Bruxy is an excellent communicator and speaks on many relevant issues of today including topics such male/female differences, the God debate, and even a series called The Secret Revealed.

8. CBC Radio Vinyl Café

Stuart McLean is a master storyteller.  This podcast of his weekly radio show is a fantastic break from the ordinary as it allows you to listen to a master story teller at work. This podcast is a wonderful break for relaxation and stress reduction.  If you are looking for a personal development angle beyond the rest it is this: listening to Stuart will help you become a better storyteller for all of your presentations.

9. Harvard Business Review Ideacast

This weekly podcast from the editors of Harvard Business Review shares interviews with the author of an article in the current issues of the Harvard Business Review.  Listening to this podcast allows you to hear about import research in the world of business and get application ideas directly from the author.

10. Maximum Impact Podcast

This podcast from the leadership experts at Maximum Impact (John Maxwell’s company) provides excellent lessons on leadership.  It is filled with interviews and insights with each episode feeling like a diverse radio show.  Unfortunately they have not released a new issue in several months.  That is the only reason this podcast slipped so low in my rankings.  It is well worth going through the archives and catching up on previous episodes.

I hope you get as much out of these podcasts as I do.  Now it’s your turn.  Did I miss any?  What are your favorite podcasts, and why?  Share in the comments below!

The Success Professor – Danny Gamache
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Posted on December 9th, 2008 by The Success Professor  |  4 Comments »

Sunday Browsing: Communication, Grattitude, and Trial By Fire

Hi everyone,

On Sundays I share important personal growth links from around the web. Here are some recent finds:

1. Neuroscience Marketing shares how to Personalizing Your Communication with Post It Notes and Beyond!

2. Marketing expert Seth Godin shares about the difference between Reacting Responding and Initiating.

3. Read how Gratitude can Change Your Life at Zen Habits.

4. Check out Tim Ferriss’ new TV show Trial By Fire.

5. See why All Financial Matters says We are all Self Employed.

Hot Articles from the archives:

The Principle of Thankfulness

Recent Blog Carnivals the Success Professor appears in:

Personal Development Carnival

Business Books Blog Carnivals

Have a great week!
The Success Professor – Danny Gamache

Posted on December 7th, 2008 by The Success Professor  |  No Comments »