5 Steps to Achieve Peak Productivity

by SUCCESS Magazine

As psychologist Abraham Maslow explored the idea of human motivation, he pondered the concept of what really motivated people. Through his research in 1943, he identified primary needs people must satisfy before moving forward. This became known as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a five-level pyramid that illustrates the pattern of motivation. (You can see what it looks like below.)

To get from one level to the next, one has to master the basics first. Productivity can work in much the same way, according to Tamara Myles, a Certified Professional Organizer (CPO) and author of The Secret to Peak Productivity (AMACOM, February 2014).

Myles recognizes that people are constantly bombarded with information, and multitasking causes stress and is usually counterproductive. She wants people to step back and to simplify—to feel in control.

“Productivity is not about being able to do more, to get through your entire to-do list, but instead to be focused and able to get through the most important items, the things that are going to move your company or career forward,” she says.

Inspired by Maslow’s work, Myles created the Peak Productivity Pyramid—an approach to a more productive life.

“[The system makes it] so easy to see the entire roadmap, to identify where you are and where you are headed,” Myles says. “It is, after all, much easier to get where you are going if you have directions, if you have a map.”

Like Maslow’s, this pyramid has five levels, and each tier supports the next. Here are Myles’ key pieces of advice for each productivity level, starting at the base:

1. Physical organization: Myles suggests employing the “Three To’s” of sorting: To Toss, To Do, To Keep.

“Too often people get bogged down trying to sort and file at the same time. By eliminating everything that can be tossed, identifying everything to do and everything else to be kept (filed), eliminating clutter becomes a manageable task,” she says.

2. Electronic organization: Here, she introduces the ABCs of email processing: Access, Batch, Check, Delete, Execute, File.

“Keeping your inbox clear at regular but specific intervals should give you hours of additional time each week, decrease your stress from worrying about forgetting something, and increase your overall effectiveness at handling what is most important in a timely manner,” Myles writes.

3. Time management: Myles approaches time management from the perspective of choice management—and with the following three P’s: Plan, Prioritize, Perform.

In her book, she writes, “We can’t manage time. Time happens. We can manage our choices in relation to the time that we have, what we choose to do with our time.”

4. Activity-goal alignment: Here, you must make sure you’re working on the tasks that best support your goals.

“Living a life with purpose means living each day thinking about the desired outcome. To do that, you need to take a step back from the chaos of everyday life and see the bigger picture. What do you want to be when you grow up?” Myles writes.

5. Possibility: Once you have your goals—and the rest of the pyramid—in order, the realm of possibility becomes available to you.

According to Myles, “Possibility means striving to be all a person can be while looking at all aspects of one’s life, exploring the possibility of achieving goals that might seem impossible.”

Thankfully, productivity doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing process.

“Focus on one area at a time and make small improvements, build new habits. The more you start making positive changes, the more excited you will become to continue improving. It’s an upward spiral.”

It’s up to you to take control of your time. Will you make that choice today?

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

From the base—containing the most essential needs—upward, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs looks something like this:

• Level 1: Physiological, or what we need to survive. Examples: air, food, drink, shelter, sex and sleep

• Level 2: Safety. Examples: personal and financial security, health and well-being

• Level 3: Love and belonging, or relationships. Examples: work, family and partner

• Level 4: Esteem. Examples: self-esteem and others’ respect

• Level 5: Self-actualization, or fulfilling our greatest potential

Doing What You’ve Never Done

by Darren Hardy

Twenty-four years ago I sold water filters door to door.

Twenty-two years ago I had a real estate franchise.

Eighteen years ago I built an international distribution company.

Twelve years ago I led a turnaround for an educational software company.

Nine years ago I was president of a TV network.

Six years ago I became publisher of this magazine.

Three years ago I wrote a New York Times best-selling book.

Each venture was something I had never done before.

Every time I started something new, I had no prior education, experience or training. Every endeavor was a complete invention or required a massive reinvention.

Once upon a time people worked for one company and then retired with a pension. Later the strategy was to beef up their resumes by climbing the ladder of an industry, working for a few companies and then retiring on stock options.

Those success paths are gone.

If you want to thrive (heck, survive!) in the 21st century, you’ll need to repeatedly reinvent yourself. Let me offer field-tested advice about how to do it successfully.

Five Keys to Reinventing Yourself

1. Leverage your strengths. While each of my endeavors was unique, they had one thing in common—they needed the strengths I had to be successful. We are ALL born with unique gifts, talents and advantages. You do things that most people can’t do (or can’t do as well as you). Identifying these special strengths is the first, most important key to your reinvention.

2. Identify what exhilarates you. Have you asked yourself, What is my passion? The answer doesn’t have to be grandiose, Earth-saving, life-changing or revolutionary. What are the subjects, products, markets, people, activities you really enjoy? What things do you find interesting and stimulating? What fills you with energy just thinking about it? The answers will usually lead toward a rewarding profession.

3. Be willing to step back. To leap into a new industry, you may need to take a step back to learn and study. Be willing to be an apprentice for a while. Find someone who has the success you aspire to and seek his or her mentorship and counsel. Be flexible, patient and teachable. Nothing worthwhile comes without effort and paying the price of  tuition.

4. Be wary of the naysayers. Your friends, family and peers have known you as you have been. Change frightens most people. To many, it is especially frightening to watch someone else have the courage to radically reinvent themselves and chase their dreams. Why? Because it eliminates their excuse for not doing so. It is much easier to try to talk you out of your reinvention rather than act on theirs.

5. Build your support team. Find models, mentors and a peer group who share your ambition and will be allies in your new adventure. Also, indoctrinate yourself with supportive books, magazines (like SUCCESS!), audio programs and seminars as you develop skills, attitudes and knowledge in your new adventure.

Wait no longer: Reinvent yourself into the person you were always meant to be.
Live the life of your grandest vision!

Your friend and SUCCESS mentor, -Darren Hardy

Dreamer vs. Doer – The Great Separator

by Darren Hardy

One thing separates the dreamer and the doer.

It also separates the wishful from the wealthy.

Two people can have the same capabilities,
same hope and same aspiration,
but have radically different outcomes.

One acted and the other did not.

ACTION is the great separator.

Right now, there are opportunities, ideas, dreams or aspirations in your life that you know you SHOULD act on, you WANT to act on, but you are afraid to do so.

Oh, you might be excusing your lack of action by your telling yourself you don’t know what to do, how to do it or if it will work out.

I can tell you firsthand, nothing I have ever accomplished had I done before.

I have been in wildly different industries: from the direct selling of environmental products, to real estate, to television, to educational software, to Internet media, to publishing and more.

None of these industries was I educated or trained to be in;


I had no experience in any of them previously—I just jumped in and started. And the outcomes evolved in ways well beyond what I could have planned for or envisioned at the beginning, meaning all the paralysis by analysis is useless anyway because it will never work out as you plan.

The key is to just get started.

Someone said to me recently, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase to take the first step.” That’s the key—just take the first step. Then when you do, take another. One at a time—one after another.

Before you know it you will have risen to the top of an industry, maybe heights you could never have allowed yourself to dream of and set goals for, simply because you jumped in and got started.

That’s all it takes, ACTION.

So tell me, What opportunity or goal are you finally going to jump in and go for? Need to encourage someone to just jump in and get going? Forward them this blog.


Develop Warrior-like Courage

by Darren Hardy

I was saddened to learn that Debbie Ford, an international bestselling author (1M+ books in 32 languages) and personal transformation expert passed away on Sunday night.

Debbie’s book, The Dark Side of the Light Chasers is still known as groundbreaking, pioneering work in emotional and spiritual education.

I interviewed Debbie only a couple months ago.
Maybe one of her last.

The theme of our conversation was Building Confidence and Self-Esteem.

This was distributed only to a private client group, but in honor of Debbie, her work and her legacy, I’d like to share that interview with all of you.

Debbie describes how to develop warrior-like courage in yourself.

Click to listen or ‘right-click’ and Save As to download:
SUCCESS Interview with Debbie Ford, November 2012

During the interview Debbie gives a simple formula to cultivate, as she describes, warrior-like courage in yourself.
1) Write down the areas of your life you aren’t happy with right now.
2) Write down why.
3) Write down the vision you have for those areas of your life. In other words, what would make each of those areas excellent in your eyes.
And then I will add…
4) What three things can you do, starting this week, to begin the process of realizing those visions? What can you do to enact change so you don’t wallow or stay stuck in complaint. We want to turn complaint into changes that become conquests.

A quick look at Debbie’s work:

Here you will find a tribute site for Debbie: http://www.rememberingdebbieford.com/

Trust: The Economic Lubricant

by Darren Hardy

I was reading an article recently from Peter Corning, Ph.D., former professor at Stanford University, titledThe Value of Trust.

He outlines how our entire economic free-enterprise system is built on the value of TRUST.

He says, in fact, that smoothly operating markets DEPEND on trust.

We can understand our complex modern economy as simply a vast network of cooperation and mutually beneficial exchanges of goods and services between people. And TRUST is the lubricant that makes it all work.

While economists will measure the outcome of the economy in dollars and cents, it is trust, or distrust, that will greatly influence that outcome.

In my opinion and experience, the fastest way to gain someone’s trust is through a bridge of someone who already trusts you. I call this trust transference.

I will give you a for instance.

Inside the December issue of SUCCESS (on newsstands now), on the CD you will hear me interview David Horsager. David tried several times to get me to review his book and include him in SUCCESS.

But I didn’t trust David. I didn’t know David.

David approached me at an event I was speaking at and gave me his book. He later sent me his book (several times). He emailed my office, he emailed my assistant and he found a way to email me. But it all got lost in the noise of everyday solicitations.

But then I got a call from Harvey Mackay on my personal cellphone. He asked if I knew David or if I had read his book. I replied with “no” (as I didn’t remember David or his book).

Harvey told me how much he liked David’s book and asked if I would give it a quick read, as a favor to him.

For Harvey? Of course.

He said he would overnight me a copy of his book to my home (it wasn’t until later that I discovered I already had three other copies).

Key point here: I trust Harvey. Harvey trusts David. So now I trust David. The trust bridge has been built and the trust transference has been made.

After I received the book from Harvey I read it, liked it and decided to feature him and his content on the SUCCESS CD.

While David is a great guy with valuable content and ideas to share, he probably never wouldn’t have made it into SUCCESS without the trust being built through Harvey (or it would have taken him a long time through lots more effort).

So here is my suggestion for you:

1. Identify your top dream client. That’s your target contact.

2. Start figuring out who can advocate on your behalf to that person. Who is willing to pick up the phone and call that person for you to make the introduction… or send an email, or write a letter of introduction, or whatever?

What you are looking for is a relationship bridge, a trust transference from someone who knows you to someone who knows, and has trust with, your target client.

Now I can hear you asking, “What if you don’t know someone who knows them?”

Well, get to know someone.

Find out who they bank with, who does their accounting, who consults with them, who mentors them, who plays golf, tennis or bridge with them, who is in their alumni, country club, symphony group, who has season tickets next to their seats, has kids who go to school with their kids… I think you are getting the idea.

Figure out the one- or two-degree links that connect you. Then go make friends with those links in between. Establish a relationship and build trust with them. Then when you have their trust and support ask them to make an introduction for you to your target contact.

Look, like it or not this is how business is done. It is all through a personally referred network of trust.

How do you get a venture capitalist to invest in your business, a corporation to look at your invention, a big company to buy your software or widget, your book or article included inSUCCESS magazine… or Forbes… or Time… or The New Yorker? It isn’t through cold calls or just mailing or emailing the published contact address. Of course there are rare exceptions, but 99.9 percent of the time it will only happen through a personal referral from someone the key contact already trusts and respects suggesting someone they trust and respect.

If you want a mantra to remember this by, remember this:

Cold calling is for weenies.
Winners get referred in by other winners.

OK, I hope that helps.

What do you do to connect and build trust with others? Share your comments and ideas below.

Becoming the (True) CEO of Your Company

by Darren Hardy

For your business to perform well, your people have to perform well.
For your people to perform well, they have to feel well.

The critical factor determining the health, vigor and future of your company is the health, vigor and emotional state of the people in your company or on your team. Period.

As the leader, you are the CEO of your team: the Chief Emotional Officer.
And that is your key role as the leader.

So to be a better CEO, let me suggest a three-step action plan to help point you in the right direction.

Number ONE—Identify.

Identify the CURRENT emotional state of your team.

In an interview with corporate change agent Roxanne Emmerich, she suggested to start by listening to the conversations of your team. Are they more focused on constraints, complaints and why something can’t be done or what’s wrong… or is their conversation hopeful, inspired, excited, supportive, encouraging of others and ambitious?

Get a read on your team and rate the current emotional state on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the best.

Now, Number TWO—Redirect.

Start redirecting the conversation by asking great questions.

Chairman of Joie de Vivre (owner of 30 hotels) Chip Conley said to me, “Managers try to find answers, but leaders ask great questions.” Redirect the conversation through a series of questions and then LISTEN. As Chip said, the higher you go up in an organization the better listener you become. Put more directly, the more you listen the higher up in the organization you will go.

Ask smart and positively leading questions of your team and listen.

And Finally, Number THREE—Lead.

Be the example.

You didn’t think for a second that you wouldn’t have to do the hard work yourself, did you? As the leader you are always the one who has to do first what you want done, or be what you want others to become. As Chip put it, “You need to understand the ‘ripple effect’ in your company and be mindful of your actions. You are the emotional thermostat for the group you lead.”

So write down the emotional state you want your team to be in. Make a list. Is it “positive, excited, inspired, courageous, hopeful, confident”? Whatever—make your list. Then rateyourself on each emotion. On a scale of 1 to 10, what is your emotional state with each of your desired emotions and how well have you been displaying and modeling those emotions to your team? Go ahead, rate yourself. You might discover WHY your team feels the way they do… they have been mirroring, responding or reacting to your attitudes.

Now, decide how you will increase your rating with each emotion to get as close to a 10 as possible, and ways you can demonstrate those emotions to your team.

Imagine for a moment if your team possessed all the emotions you wrote down… think how unstoppable you’d all be! Think of the difference you could make in the world by bringing your valuable service to the marketplace. That’s what I want for you… that’s what I want in results for the world because of it.

So I encourage you to go through this process. It most certainly could be transformational—for you, for everyone on your team and everyone you will all touch together.

I’d love to hear how it goes; please let me know.

Selling: Crushing the Candy Bar Contest

by Darren Hardy

I recently had lunch with a CEO friend, Mark, who owns a commercial construction management company valued at about a half billion dollars.

I negotiated to pay the lunch tab if he’d tell me the secret to his fantastic success.

For the price of a spinach salad with salmon, he handed over the sales strategy that’s been key to his success—ever since 10th grade, when he first applied it to impress a girl (of course).

Mark came up with the strategy during the annual Student Council candy bar drive. The winner got a trip to Washington, D.C., but Mark’s interest was Cindy Mason, the reigning champ.

Cindy was a senior; the most popular, most beautiful girl in school; with a three-year winning streak and a burning desire to make it four. In 15-year old- guy logic, Mark thought winning the candy bar drive would capture Cindy’s affection, too.

As soon as he got his first box, he approached his three best friends who,instead of buying candy bars, convinced Mark to give them candy bars for free. He then went to his brother and sister, who went “halfsies” on one bar. His calorie-counting parents turned him down flat, explaining he needed to figure it out on his own (parents,take note).

In just one afternoon, Mark had exhausted his entire network and his sales were in the red.

But Mark remained determined. One night, his parents had friends Bob and Nancy over for dinner. Mark suggested candy bars for dessert (for the bargain price of only $1each). With caramel dripping down his chin, Bob said, “You know Mark,these are really good.If you give me a box, I could probably sell them at my office.”

The next day, Bob came back with an empty box, an envelope full of cash and a request for more.

That was Mark’s eureka moment! Instead of trying to sell candy bars one by one, he would sell them box by box.

He targeted several more of his parents’ friends who had access to offices filled with candy lovers. Daily, these well-connected people emptied boxes of candy for him and returned with envelopes of cash.

Mark not only won the candy drive, he crushed the school’s sales record, along with the previously undefeated Cindy Mason.

Cindy was not impressed.

In fact, she made sure all her friends weren’t either. But Mark didn’t care (not much, at least). He had gained something much greater in discovering the single most important strategy of his professional career.

Since then, instead of selling accounts one by one, Mark has looked for influencers: people with their own large networks who, if sold on his idea, venture or opportunity, could potentially generate volumes of transactions for him. Time and again, this strategy has worked and Mark has millions in the bank to show for it.

Take that, Cindy Mason.

Inside our current issue of SUCCESS you will find many more unique and lethal sales strategies that will help you set new records in your marketplace, no matter how beautiful and popular the competition might be.

Be sure to listen to my interview with Product Launch Formula guru Jeff Walker.
If you want to see his work in action, go here and watch him work his magic.
It’s worth opting in just to watch!