9 Things Successful People Won’t Do

My last post, ‘How Successful People Stay Calm,’ really struck a nerve. The trick is that managing your emotions is as much about what you won’t do as it is about what you will do.

TalentSmart has tested more than a million people and found that the upper echelons of top performance are filled with people who are high in emotional intelligence (90 percent of top performers, to be exact). So, I went back to the data to uncover the kinds of things that emotionally intelligent people are careful to avoid to keep themselves calm, content, and in control. They consciously avoid these behaviors because they are tempting and easy to fall into if one isn’t careful.

While the list that follows isn’t exhaustive, it presents nine key things that you can avoid to increase your emotional intelligence and performance.

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Success Is Controlling How You Spend Your Time

I blew the mind of one of my Babson College students this morning.

Like most people, he believes that success is measured by how much money you have and how much money you make. By that measure, there is no single individual who is the world’s most successful.

After all, Bill Gates–whose net worth totaled $79.6 billion according to Forbes‘s January 29, 2015, tally–probably has the most money, but I sincerely doubt he makes the most money every year.

That title probably goes to a hedge fund manager. For example, Ray Dalio–who runs $120 billion (assets under management) Bridgewater Associates–pulled in a cool $3 billion in personal earnings last year, according to Forbes.

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Toms’ Blake Mycoskie on the Mistake Too Many Entrepreneurs Make

Convincing a large a retailer to sell your product is a great achievement for many entrepreneurs, but it can also wind up hurting your business in the long run.

As Toms founder Blake Mycoskie explained in a recent interview with Inc., many entrepreneurs don’t realize there are times when they should be picky about choosing the retailers they partner with.

“They’re so eager to get into one of these big retailers that they basically will do anything and agree to any terms, even if it’s not sustainable in the long term,” he says. “You’ve got to have an honest conversation with yourself about what type of margin you need to build a successful business.”

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5 Ways to Unleash Your Passion–For Work and Life

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

The ancient sage, Confucius, was a wise man, indeed. Ideally, if you choose a career or start up a business based on the pursuit of something you are passionate about, Confucius’ theory is that it will lead to fulfillment and success.

Of course, it makes good sense to integrate what you love to do in what you do for a living–it will, however, alter the way you perceive your passion. Think of the dressmaker who no longer has time to design a dress for herself, or the chef who, after a long day cooking for his patrons, is not inspired to cook for himself or his friends. At some point, your passion may feel less like “play” and more like hard work.

Maybe you are doing what you love but you find you are in a lull, going through a creative “dry spell,” or your current occupation seems lackluster. Or, perhaps what you believed to be your passion has changed. The antidote to all of these conundrums is to be a life-long learner and never stop seeking opportunities to grow and deepen your experiences. In other words, find your passion.

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The 10 Commandments of Leadership

A group of archeologists digging through ancient corporate archives recently uncovered two mysterious tablets (aka “wall plaques”) engraved with the following laws:

I. Thou shalt remain optimistic.

Since thy employees look to thee for leadership, thou must not let thy worries and concerns cast a black cloud over everyone else, for that way lies certain failure.

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7 Habits of Remarkably Successful Startup Entrepreneurs

On the surface, successful entrepreneurs seem to be the same as everyone else.

But look closely and you’ll see that in a few ways they are very, very different–and so is how they start and run their businesses.

1. They always prefer action to thinking.

A detailed plan is great, but stuff happens, and most entrepreneurs don’t make it past the first three action items before adapting to reality. (I started a company assuming I’d provide book-design services to publishers; I ended up ghostwriting those books instead.)

Spend some time planning and a lot more time doing. If you’re unsure, do something, and then react appropriately. It’s easy to ponder and evaluate and analyze yourself out of business.

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Can Standup Comedy Make You a Better Public Speaker? An Inc. Investigation

After eight minutes of watching Matt Ellsworth’s standup routine, I knew what we were in for.

Before Ellsworth stepped down from the stage to rejoin us at our table, his comedy coach, David Nihill, turned to me and smiled. “We have a lot of work to do,” he said.

Let me back up. Nihill had sworn that he’d used open-mic nights like these to become a better public speaker within weeks.

Doing standup comedy to overhaul your presentation skills is not a terribly new idea. But Nihill so believes in the idea that he’s built a company, FunnyBizz, around training businesspeople to be more entertaining.

Getting better at presenting in front of groups is one thing. But how much can comedy training–and a crash course in standup–help you become a truly entertaining speaker? I was putting Ellsworth to the test.

The guinea dumb

I first met Matt Ellsworth at a coffee shop in downtown San Francisco.

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