How to Learn More in 6 Minutes than 6 Months

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As a culture, we are obsessed with shortcuts. I’ve read all the headlines:

  • Become a Millionaire in Two Weeks!
  • Get a Summer Body with This Secret Formula!
  • Earn Passive Income While You Sleep!

We’ve all learned to spot a scam or become skeptical when something seems too good to be true. Most of the time, shortcuts don’t exist. We need to put in the time and energy to achieve what we’ve set out to achieve.

I say this because what I’m about to share with you is not a shortcut. I don’t believe in shortcuts. I do, however, believe in efficiencies, which is why I’m writing this for you.

A shortcut is magical (like a unicorn), an efficiency is precise. There isn’t mystery behind these efficiencies which may take away some of the allure, but I promise you they work.

Do you want to learn more in 6 minutes than in 6 months? Here’s how:

A book called The Talent Code reveals an in-depth study on why some people become more talented than others. A key component of the formula is “Deep Practice.” 

We’ve all heard that 10,000 hours working on a craft makes us proficient.

The issue is that this statement is not true. The only time this becomes true is if those 10,000 hours are spent in “Deep Practice” – pushed to the limit of our capabilities. 

If I draw stick figures for 10,000 hours, I won’t be any closer to being an artist. It is not the drawing that matters, it is the fact that I’m working on improving my drawing with each piece. It is the idea that I am working to get better with everything I put on paper.

Learning to practice deeply will ensure you learn extremely quickly. How do you ensure your practice is “Deep Practice?” I’m glad you asked.

Below is my three-step formula for deep practice that will allow you to learn quicker in any discipline.

  1. Remove ALL distractions

    We do not grow when we are only giving a part of our brain to a subject matter. Put your phone away (completely away; no exceptions). If you’re doing something that just involves sitting and learning (like a language), don’t listen to music or have the TV on in the background. If you’re doing something more active (like learning a sport), don’t pause workouts for conversations with other people in the gym or on the field. Focus all your attention on improving your craft.

    Some people say, “Well, I learn better with the TV on in the background.”

    No, you don’t. You’ve conditioned yourself to think this way. It might be difficult for you to turn the tv off and focus solely on your subject matter, but like I said, these aren’t shortcuts. You will learn quicker when your subject matter has your full attention.

  2. Be Intentional

    We truly improve when we want to learn something SPECIFIC. If you’re learning piano, choose a specific scale or song, and focus your attention on learning it; do not simply sit down and play leisurely if your intention is to improve.

    If you’re a basketball player, choose a move and perfect it; do not simply shoot around or play in pick-up games.

    When we are unfocused, we don’t improve. We could be in the weight room every day, but if we spend that time talking with friends, we aren’t any closer to our goals. Our specific actions matter (which is why seven minute abs became such a phenomenon…a program that made people actually work hard for 7 minutes, instead of giving 10 percent effort for two hours in a gym).

    When we’re specific about what we’re learning, we are much more likely to quickly become proficient.

  3. Don’t Allow Yourself to Fail

    The title of this section is misleading. What I mean by this is: every time you make a mistake, stop and do it again.

    If you are learning to play guitar and you have chosen the specific song you want to learn, do not let yourself move forward playing it wrong. Train your brain and your body to do things the right way. You are not improving if you make a mistake and continue playing the rest of the song. Stop, go back, and do it again until you’ve perfected that part of the song.

    You only improve when you stop and do it right. Continuing with the song would only train you to believe that mediocre is acceptable. When you actually want to learn and grow, mediocre is not an option.

 

When you remove distractions, act intentionally, and train yourself to get every little piece exactly right, you will learn incredibly quickly.

This is how we must practice if we truly want to learn more in 6 minutes than 6 months. Train yourself to focus. Train yourself to master specifics. Train yourself to not just go through the motions.

It may still take you 10,000 hours to become a master, but your progress will be noticeable…unlike your friends who are still looking for the secret formula for that ever-elusive summer body.

As always, let me know how it goes for you.

Your New Year’s Resolutions Are Broken

There are two things you need to do right now to fix them and make them work for you

I hear people making New Year’s Resolutions every single year that flat out won’t work.

People tell themselves that they are going to exercise every day or lose all the weight they didn’t lose during their last New Year’s Resolution.

These promises are empty and the outcomes are unlikely.

Why?

Two reasons.

The New Year’s Resolutions people make:

  1. Are not “lifestyle” resolutions, but “challenge” resolutions
  2. Are not long-term and actionable

Let me tell you how to fix your resolutions.

Lifestyle Resolutions

Accomplishing anything of significance takes time, effort, and dedication with a long-term outcome in mind.

Losing weight doesn’t happen with a 28-day-cleanse or working out 3 days a week to start the year.

These are “challenges,” but the goal of challenges should be to form habits that become a part of your lifestyle. If forming lifestyle habits is not the goal, your resolutions will fall apart.

Want to lose weight? Sign up for a race (even if you are out of shape now) then join a running group to help you train for it. Ask the people in your running group what they eat to prepare for races, and slowly start to fill your fridge with the items they recommend.

This is one example of a lifestyle change resolution.

It is something that happens over time to make your desired outcome come true. It is less about challenging yourself for the month of January and evaluating yourself (which will leave you disappointed), but rather it is about looking ahead to where you want to be and making slow and steady progress.

One more example so you know this is not just another weight loss blog.

Want to get promoted at work this year? Look to prove your value in a long-term, sustainable way.

Talk with your boss about your goals and plans, and ask what you need to do to get where you’d like to be. Let the feedback be your guide towards the promotion you’re after. This way, you’re setting a collaborative roadmap, and similar to training for a race, you have an aim for success that is macro instead of micro.

Long-term, actionable resolutions

Coming into a new year should be motivating, but what happens when that initial motivation goes away?

When you challenge yourself to set long-term goals, you give yourself the opportunity to mess up a few times and still get to where you want to be. It’s much better than the all-too-common, “I didn’t work out last week so I think my resolution is over” feeling.

Let’s say you’d like to set a financial goal for yourself.

Some people say, “I want to go out to eat twice a week or less to save money.” This is a terrible resolution. As soon as you eat out three times in a week, you lose and there is no going back.

A better resolution would be, “I’d like to have x amount of money in my bank account by the end of the year.” This is a long-term goal that allows you to set actionable timelines along the way.

If you know how much you want to have at the end of the year, you can then plan what you’ll have to make/spend each month leading up to that moment.

This means that you’re allowed to go on a shopping spree every now and then; your resolution won’t be broken by one splurge. It is a long-term goal that you are taking action toward every day, week, and month.

Here is how a better resolution could look:

Goal:

Have x amount of money in my bank account by the end of the year

High level action Items:

Make a monthly budget based on my income and evaluate how I did each month

Tactical action items:

Eat at restaurants twice a week or less

Spend only x amount of money per month on items that aren’t “necessities.” Examples being: new clothes/shoes or daily soda/coffee (even if this is a “necessity” for you, could you do a medium instead of a large at Starbucks? Could you do a coffee instead of a latte?)

This is just one example of how determining a large, overarching goal and creating an action plan to get there is important. Decide where you want to be, then just like Google Maps, determine the best route and take it.

It is not easy to make New Year’s resolutions that will actually work. It’s hard. This is why no one does it.

But if you actually want to accomplish your goals this year, here’s how to do it in two sentences:

  1. Make long-term, actionable resolutions that change your lifestyle, not just your immediate actions.
  2. Make it happen.

And if you’d like help creating great resolutions, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’d love to help you get on a path to a better you.

Photo credit: http://www.wdish.com/health/5-ways-make-your-workout-more-efficient

The Hardest Part of Ending is Starting Again

Why I’m leaving two great jobs, and how it applies to you

I feel like this post needed to be made. This is a personal post about the recent progressions in my life. I’m not making this post to selfishly say, “Hey everybody, look at me!” I’m making this post because I think there are themes in it that can resonate with anyone. I want to take you through what’s been happening for me in hopes that it can somehow help you.

So here I go.

I am leaving my full-time job. I’m stepping away from the consulting position I’ve held for the last three years, and I’m joining an entrepreneurial company in an industry in which I have little experience.

Sounds pretty dumb when I put it that way. So I’ve decided to take you through the thought process behind leaving…and starting again.


Leaving

As Chris Brown once said, “There’s never a right time to say goodbye.” I am leaving two positions, both of which I truly enjoy, and several people have been curious as to why. To really answer that question, I need you to watch this short video.

I love my work with my full-time employer, and I will continue to speak and run leadership programs for high school and college students with them. I love my consulting work and all of the organization’s values. In both of these scenarios, the people I’ve worked with have become great friends, the work I did was fast-paced, fulfilling, and fun, and I never wanted to take days off.

But…

There was a small piece of me that felt I belonged elsewhere.

I studied Marketing and Entrepreneurship in college, and I felt drawn to an entrepreneurial environment. I like the idea of building something from the ground up and being an active ingredient in the success or failure of the pursuit. I enjoy digital media, and I desired a position in that realm.

Was I unhappy? No. I was very happy, and I will maintain great relationships as I transition. But (if you watched the video above), that .0001 percent of me that felt I should be pursuing my passions started to outweigh any other conservative, practical thought.

Leaving is the first step to creating something new. I had to leave. It was the right time (which might contradict Chris Brown’s lyrics)…and it will be nice to bring my passion for speaking with me on a contracted basis.

Just to tie this in with my earlier promise of unselfishness: What do you need to leave? Are you being called elsewhere? Do your passions and your actions match up?

Just something to consider.


Starting

The band, Lincoln Park, has a lyric that says, “The hardest part of ending is starting again.” I am headed into the realm of digital marketing in an entrepreneurial capacity. I will be the fourth member of my new company, and we have a lot of aspirations as to what the company can be.

Will we reach these aspirations?

Well, I wouldn’t be joining this team if I didn’t believe in our ability to accomplish our goals. However, I also fully understand the risk involved in doing something like this. I recognize the learning curve that is present for me to do my job well and help our company grow. I am fully aware of the hard work and hustle that will be necessary to bring our dreams to reality.

But…

Quite often I’ve found myself thinking of all the ways something could go wrong, and then never starting it. There’s a common saying that goes, “If you want something you’ve never had, you must do something you’ve never done.” I’ve never done anything like this before. That makes me nervous. But to even have a chance at being the passionately entrepreneurial person I know that I am, I have to start.

There is no clear-cut starting line in life; you need to make your own. And there are a million quotes to support this:

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

“I can accept failure, I can’t accept not trying.”

When do these quotes come off of your Pinterest board and into your life? There’s nothing easy about it. There’s nothing safe about it. But if you have a starting line in mind, there’s no better day than today to begin the race.


There’s obviously a lot of uncertainty associated with a transition like the one I’m making. I didn’t write this to give the impression that I’m not nervous or didn’t put a lot of thought into my decisions. I wrote this to be transparent, and in hopes that this transparency might lead you to the starting lines that you’ve been dreaming about.


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Three Times Rappers Taught Us Lessons in Leadership

Important Takeaways from 50 Cent, Jay Z, and Kanye West

“My momma gave birth to a winner, I gotta win.” -50 Cent

Confidence is like wealth. It’s typically unevenly distributed, and famous rappers have a lot more than the average person. But I think it’s important to point out what 50 Cent acknowledges here: he had confidence before he was a famous rapper. He felt he was born a winner, and that he shouldn’t be doing anything but winning.

He didn’t say, “My momma gave birth to someone with average skills, and if used properly, I could get a mediocre job with them.” He didn’t say, “My momma gave birth to a superstar, and that’s why my brother is so famous.” (See what I did there?)

50 Cent embraces the skills that he has and is confident in his abilities to use them.

I second-guess myself all the time, and I hear when other people do it too. In general, people spend way too much time doubting themselves and not enough time reminding themselves why they should win…and everyone deserves to win at some point.

Believe that you have the capacity to make it happen and you will be much closer to getting the victory you deserve.

“I will not lose, for even in defeat, there’s a valuable lesson learned so it evens it up for me.” -Jay Z

While you may read this and think it is another quote about winning, this is actually a quote about improving. Jay Z isn’t saying that things always go his way. He isn’t stating that he always wins (T-Pain and Ludacris said that…or was it Howard Wolowitz?). What he is saying is that if things don’t go his way, he’s going to take the knowledge he gained to do better next time.

The implications of this quote are that Jay Z reflects on his experiences and looks to grow from them, something that all of us should be doing on a regular basis.

Real improvement happens from setbacks, and setbacks come when you are passionately pursuing something. If you experience a setback, ask yourself what lesson can be learned from the experience. By doing this, you’re working to save yourself from experiencing the same setbacks in the future…and if it does save you from that future setback, was it really a loss?

“When it feels like living’s harder than dying, for me giving up’s way harder than trying.” -Kanye West

If you haven’t figured it out. Here is the storyline of this blog. First, believe you can win. Second, improve over time. Third, don’t ever give up.

Kanye’s quote suggests that trying your best and sticking to it need to become so second nature that giving up is no longer an option. So when you experience setbacks, you’re not just learning from them; you’re also overcoming them and refusing to let those setbacks keep you from whatever dreams you’re chasing.

Life gets difficult. It is not easy being a human being (Does Kanye still think he’s a human being?). But by believing in yourself, constantly improving, and refusing to give up, things are going to be okay (and if it’s not okay, it’s not the end).

So the next time you experience setbacks that make you feel like all hope is lost or that your dreams don’t matter, refuse to let yourself give up. Push through it. Your breakthrough might be just around the corner.


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What Do Taylor Swift and Cosmo Kramer Have in Common?

And what can you learn from it?

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Why does America follow Taylor’s every move? Why did Cosmo become a staple in a wildly successful sitcom? Why should you care?

I believe that learning from the success of others is beneficial. Lessons in leadership or tips on how to generate positive interactions are oftentimes found through those who do these things well. So what can you learn from Taylor Swift and Cosmo Kramer that will add value to your daily life?

Most people wouldn’t make an immediate connection between a modern young musical icon and a gallivanting jittery fictional character, yet I think they have something in common that we can all learn from.

They both share something that is often talked about, but rarely personified: charisma. 

Think about the last time Taylor Swift received some sort of recognition. What words come to mind when you think about her response?

Surprised?

Excited?

Grateful?

Humble?

Taylor shows emotion in a way that allows others to feel it with her. Her excitement feels like your excitement, and the reason is two-fold.

First, her actions are often big, maybe even toeing the line of “over-the-top.” She doesn’t hide her excitement. She doesn’t act like she’s used to it. She allows her emotions to flow freely.

Second, her emotions feel genuine (whether they are or not).

I’ve often thought about what it would be like to win as many awards as Taylor Swift. The girl has 20 Billboard Music Awards, 16 American Music Awards, 7 Grammys, etc. To be honest, at some point, it wouldn’t be surprising anymore. It would still be cool to win them, but I probably wouldn’t give the wide-eyed, open-mouthed look of someone who had just been asked, “Will you marry me?”

But Taylor does. Why? Because any one of Taylor’s fans around the world dreams about winning one of those awards, and when Taylor wins, she acts exactly how one of them would act if they happened to win; this is what I meant by, “her excitement feels like your excitement.” Her genuine emotions allow you to relate to her on a personal level. Even if she gets accustomed to being famous and winning awards, she allows us to continue to enjoy it with her.

So how do these things relate to Cosmo Kramer?

If you’ve ever watched Seinfeld, picture Kramer stepping into Seinfeld’s apartment (If you haven’t watched it, click here). He never walked in to nonchalantly say, “What’s up?” He would fling the door open, eyebrows raised, excitement in his eyes. Even when his plans were outlandish, most of America would have loved to have Kramer as a friend.

He shows the same charismatic traits as Taylor Swift. His actions could be described as over-the-top and his emotions feel very genuine.

So what can you learn?

The next time you have a conversation with someone, think about the perception they have of you. Do you seem interested, present, and attentive or do you seem bored, distracted, and indifferent? If the words you come up with are not the most flattering, look to add a little charisma to your day-to-day interactions.

Charisma is not just a word to describe extroverts. Anyone can add charisma to their personality by making genuine emotional connections to those with whom they come into contact.

So get out there, because as Cosmo Kramer said:

“I’m out there…and I’m loving ever minute of it!”


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New Years Reassessments-The Issue with Your Resolutions

How are your New Years resolutions coming? Are you sticking with it? All those, “I will work out every single day” promises or, “I am going to stop cursing this year” commitments that you made. How are you doing?

People have asked me about my New Years resolutions. And the truth is, I don’t have any.

Why?

New Years resolutions create a scenario where all you can do is mess up. You missed one workout day? Shoot. You lost. You dropped an F bomb when you stubbed your toe? Too bad. Try again next year.

I’m not saying that you can’t jump back on and recommit to your resolution, but every time you mess up, the vision of what you’re doing becomes less and less clear.

I’ve never talked to anyone who said, “Yeah, I said I wasn’t going to curse at all this year. I’ve done it 629 times, but I’m starting again tomorrow; it’s going to be a great year.”

By then, people usually give up. This is the more likely scenario: “Yeah, I said I wasn’t going to curse at all this year. That lasted a whole ten days, but it was hard as *%&$ to keep up.

I’d like to propose a better way: placing the focus on the end of the year instead of the beginning.

At every New Year, people say, “Where am I right now and how can I change?” I’m suggesting we start saying, “Where would I like to be at this time next year and how can I get there?”

So instead of the, “Do this every day” or “I won’t do this” resolutions, write one down that says, “I’d like to have X amount of money in my savings account by the end of the year.” If fitness is your target, “I’d like to weigh X by the end of the year.”

This type of resolution takes the focus off of messing up, and places it on moving forward. This allows you to look at your “resolutions” (they’ve actually become more like goals now) every day and feel less like you’ve taken a wrong turn and more like you’re on the road to victory.

The best part? On those days that you do struggle, all is not lost. There’s no, “Shoot, I messed up. It’s over.” moment. You have an incentive to keep working at it because you’re not looking back on what you’ve done, you’re looking forward to what needs to be done. In this scenario, every day becomes an opportunity to move closer to success as opposed to a recipe for failure.

So I’ll ask you again. How are your resolutions coming? Are you sticking to it? No? Well, there’s always time to stop looking back and start looking forward. Make resolutions that keep your eye on the prize; set yourself up to succeed, and as always, let me know how you do.

I Asked Mark Cuban About My Personal Brand…And His Response was Awesome

blog for kyleCreating a personal brand can be an interesting topic, and will be presented differently depending on who you ask.

When I was a sophomore in college, I had the chance to meet Mark Cuban. Yes, the billionaire entrepreneur turned Shark Tank star, Mark Cuban. He had just spoken at an event in Milwaukee, and I caught him for a moment afterwards to ask him a question.

 “What would you say to young people who are starting to establish their personal brand?”

That was my question. I remember being proud of it. As a sophomore in college, I felt it was a good question that would allow him to give me some pointers on building a future in business.

His response was one I was not ready for and one I’ll never forget:

“Drink more PBR.”

There was an awkward pause as I just looked at him, confused. I was relieved that he didn’t stop talking there.

“Everyone is walking around making all of their decisions based on what other people think. Stop judging yourself by other peoples’ standards. Take a step back, have a beer, or a few beers, be yourself and don’t worry so much about your personal brand.”

Then he asked me a question.

“How old are you?”

“Twenty-one.”

“You have plenty of time to grow up and worry about your personal brand. Enjoy your time with your friends. Enjoy the college experience. Take everything in now. You have your whole life to be boring.”

 That’s some pretty cool advice that has stuck with me through the years.

However, what I’m not sure Mark Cuban realized when he was saying this is, everything he said is exactly what makes up a personal brand.

A personal brand is simply the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that others have when they think of you. While I don’t condone underage drinking (for the younger folks reading this), being easy-going, valuing friendships, and enjoying life are all great things to be known for. What seemed almost like “anti-advice” was actually a pretty solid personal branding nugget.

I think my biggest takeaway from meeting Mark Cuban was this:

Have the confidence to be yourself; it will take you a long way.

Spending time worrying about what other people think can deter you from achieving what you’re meant to achieve. Be yourself. Go for it. Who knows? Your original self may just get you further than you would have gotten otherwise. Apparently Mark Cuban made a billion dollars while drinking PBR. Who says you can’t be next?

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