Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success


When comedian Steve Harvey was in sixth grade, his teacher asked the class to write down what they wanted to be when they grew up. Harvey wanted to be on TV and wrote this on the paper. The teacher scolded him for writing down something impossible and told him to go home and write down something more realistic. His father helped him come up with a more “believable” profession — policeman — but told “little Stevie” to keep the paper and look at it daily and believe that he would someday be on TV.

Today, the versatile Harvey — comedian, talk show host, game show host — is on TV seven days a week. In his book, Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success, Harvey credits his father for “popping the lid” on his expectations  — a reference to a metaphor concerning fleas in a jar. Fleas, Harvey writes, can jump to 200 times their size. Put them in a jar with a lid on it, and they are soon jumping only as high as they can without hitting the lid. Too many people, Harvey continues, are prevented from jumping to their full potential by a metaphorical lid — a lid that is often put on by naysaying people around them. “You have to take the lid off, no matter who put it on or how long it has been there.”

Everyone Has a Gift

Harvey’s own story is one of perseverance in the face of incredible hardship and setbacks. Having left his factory jobs to pursue his dream of becoming a comedian, Harvey would eventually find himself divorced and homeless, living out of his car. Today multimillionaire Harvey travels on his own private plane. At the core of his success, he writes, is his belief in his gift: to make people laugh. It is the one thing that is at the core of everything he does, and it is from this gift that everything else has come.

Everyone has a gift, which he defines as “the single thing that you do at your absolute best with the least amount of effort.” A gift is beyond a job or a skill. It is something that is always present in every context. The gift might be playing sports or performing on stage, but it could also be solving problems, listening to others, working with children or even creating flower arrangements. “Your gift is something that is connected to you whether you are working or vacationing, whether you are with the family or even all alone,” he writes. “Your gift cannot be taken because of downsizing or given to you because someone creates a job description. Your gift exists because you do.”

Find the Vehicle

Once the gift is identified, the next step is to attach it to a “vehicle.” For Harvey, success is achieved by attaching the gift to a series of “vehicles,” each vehicle taking you on another step in the journey. Harvey compares the journey to a long bus trip during which you will have to transfer multiple times from one bus to another. Harvey decided to become a comedian in his late twenties after winning an amateur-night contest. That contest was his first vehicle. He transferred to the professional ranks with a $25 paying gig. A later transfer took him from $350 per week to $750 per week. Yet a later transfer took him to earning $60,000 per week in large venues.

The challenge, however, is not to skip ahead. Start where you are now, he writes, then look for the transfer. Floral arrangement, for example, might not seem to be a gift that can lead to entertainment-level riches. Yet there is one person (whom Harvey knows) who flies around the world designing floral arrangements for all the Four Seasons hotels as well as major programs such as the Grammys and The Queen Latifah Show. This gentleman began with creating the floral arrangements for a small hotel that did not appreciate his talent.

As one might expect from a Christian who refuses to talk to atheists, Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success is packed with references to God. An example of his Christian approach is when he writes, “Look here’s the real light: If you are still waking up every day, it’s because God has a greater plan for you, and it’s not yet completed. Every day is an opportunity to see your light as a gift.”

It is “the Creator,” he writes, who gave you your gift. But whether or not you believe that your success is God’s plan, the focus, perseverance and, above all, belief in oneself at the heart of Harvey’s message will inspire those who, as he writes at the beginning of the book, are “sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

The Disciplined Pursuit of Less


Prioritize Your Life or Someone Else Will

Greg McKeown will always recall the day of his daughter’s birth: how, even exhausted from the birth, his wife was radiant; how, as his beautiful new baby lay in his wife’s arms, he was on the phone and on email with work, feeling pressure to go to a client meeting; how he left the hospital to go to the meeting and saw the look of “what are you doing here?” on the clients’ faces (instead of the appreciation for his dedication that he had promised to his colleagues). The vital life lesson he learned from that day: If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.

In his book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, McKeown, a writer, speaker and Harvard Business Review blogger, offers both a manifesto and a manual on how to deliberately focus on the vital few priorities that really count and dispense with the rest. This is the age of the Nonessentialist, McKeown writes: over-busy and over-committed, we continue to say yes to even more commitments and deadlines without asking ourselves, “Is this truly essential? Is this very important to me? Is this really how I want to choose to spend my time?” These are the questions, McKeown argues, that Essentialists ask and answer before accepting any task, commitment or responsibility.

Step by Step to a Better Life

McKeown’s step-by-step methodology makes the seemingly impossible task of slicing through the chronic chaos of our lives eminently possible.

The first step is to explore and evaluate. Paradoxically, Essentialists explore more options than Nonessentialists. “Because they will commit and ‘go big’ on one or two ideas or activities,” McKeown explains, “they deliberately explore more options at first to ensure that they pick the right one later.”

The next step, according to McKeown, is to eliminate. Identifying the most essential activities is not good enough; you have to have the courage and emotional discipline to eliminate the activities that don’t make the list. For example, it doesn’t matter what the client thought or how important the meeting felt (in actuality it all led to nothing), his place was by his wife and newborn baby. Cut out the “trivial many” to stay focused on the “vital few.”

The final step is to execute. For most people, execution means pushing hard to get something done. Essentialists create a system that removes obstacles and makes execution easy. For example, Essentialists will always build in buffers, recognizing that in life, the unexpected happens; they will also engage in “extreme preparation,” planning for all contingencies. They build routines and transfer the triggers from their old habits to the new Essentialist routines. For example, he writes, “If your alarm clock going off in the morning triggers you to check your email, use it as a cue to get up and read instead.”

For each of these three steps, McKeown presents the five or six actions required. To explore successfully, for example, you need to escape so you can focus; look to see what really matters; play to broaden your perspective and drive creativity; sleep to operate at your highest level of productivity and performance when awake; and select opportunities based on narrow, explicit criteria.

Essentialism is an eloquent slap in the face, telling us to wrest back control of our lives by making the tough choices that will clear out the mass of non-essentials clogging our time and attention.

Getting to It and Boosting Your Value

As we look ahead to next week’s webinars, you might see an intriguing connection between them. If you focus on your most important thing (IT), you are more than likely to boost your value at work. Maybe that’s a stretch, but give it some thought as you join these two excellent speakers, Jones Loflin and Cy Wakeman.

Getting to IT – Your Most Important Thing with Jones Loflin

For readers with endless to-do lists and more tasks than time in a day, Jones Loflin offers a practical guide to sorting out the IT (important thing) that eludes them. In this Soundview Live webinar, Getting to IT – Your Most Important Thing, Loflin cites examples from the personal to the professional, including Toyota’s recent spate of recalls for safety issues, as cautionary tales of failure to define or focus on IT. His prescription: clearly define IT, plan IT, focus on IT, and get excited about IT. Readers will appreciate this practical guide that counsels balance between the personal and professional in the process of accomplishing IT.

Boosting Your Value at Work with Cy Wakeman

What does it take to become valued and appreciated at the office? In this Soundview Live webinar, Boosting Your Value at Work, Cy Wakeman reveals a formula for understanding how your manager calculates your value to the organization. Based on research with more than 50,000 people, this formula will measure your current performance, your future potential, and your “emotional expense” to those around you. Wakeman then shows you how to boost your value, own your career, and become irreplaceable to your organization.

We have increased the number of webinars we host each month, and this means the value of a subscription to Soundview Executive Book Summaries continues to increase. With your subscription, you also receive Free access to all Soundview Live webinars. So while non-subscribers will pay $49 each for next weeks’ events, subscribers pay nothing. In only takes two webinars to equal the cost of our Standard Edition subscription. If you haven’t already, please consider joining today.

Between Good Intentions and Great Results

Next week is another two-webinar week at Soundview, with a focus on the application of virtues in the workplace. How do we live by the best of intentions toward our work and fellow employees, while not letting those virtues hold us back from great results?

Tipping Sacred Cows – Jake Breeden

Jake Breeden starts us off with concepts from his recent book Tipping Sacred Cows. At our webinar on June 25th Jake will discuss the 7 virtues of Balance, Collaboration, Creativity, Excellence, Fairness, Passion and Preparation. By helping us see the dark side of virtues like these, Breeden will reveal hidden traps that lie between good intentions and great results, clearing a path for leaders — and anyone in the workplace — to finally realize their full potential.

As an educator, author, and keynote speaker, Jake Breeden gives you new ways of seeing your world. Breeden teaches as part of the Global Faculty for Duke Corporate Education — the world’s top ranked provider of custom corporate education. He has taught, coached, challenged and provoked leaders at Google, IBM, Cisco, Microsoft, OppenheimerFunds, Starbucks, Sprint, Deloitte and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

A Revolutionary Approach to Success – Adam Grant

Our Soundview Live webinar on June 27th will be with Adam Grant, author of Give and Take. Grant takes a different view of virtues in the workplace. For generations, we have focused on the individual drivers of success: passion, hard work, talent, and luck. But in today’s dramatically reconfigured world, success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others. Grant illuminates what effective networking, collaboration, influence, negotiation, and leadership skills have in common.

Adam Grant is the youngest tenured professor at Wharton. He has been recognized as Wharton’s single-highest-rated teacher, one of BusinessWeek’s favorite professors, and one of the world’s 40 best business professors under 40. Previously, he was a record-setting advertising director at Let’s Go Publications, an All-American springboard diver, and a professional magician.

So plan to join us for these two events, to hear the provocative views of these authors on virtues in the workplace. We guarantee that you will come away with a fresh perspective on how to work with others and be successful.

Survival Instinct Gone Wrong

Survival instinct – it can save our lives, but it can also make us sick.

That is the conclusion of Dr. Marc Schoen in his book Your Survival Instinct is Killing You. Dr. Schoen explains how the Survival Instinct is the culprit that triggers a person to overeat, prevents the insomniac from sleeping, causes the executive to unravel under pressure, leads travelers to avoid planes or freeways, inflames pain, and closes down an individual to love. 
Provocative, eye-opening, and surprisingly practical with his strategies and ideas, Dr. Schoen shows how to build up your “instinctual muscles” for successfully managing discomfort while taming your overly reactive Survival Instinct.

Are you experiencing symptoms of an overactive survival instinct? Then please join us on June 12th to hear Dr. Schoen discuss his discoveries over the past 30 years and how they can impact your ability to function in this complex world. You will learn that the management of discomfort is the single most important skill for the twenty-first century.

Our Soundview Live webinar, How to Retrain the Brain may provide answers to some of the maladies that have been wearing you down.  Is it worth an hour of your time to find out?

Surprising Lessons from the Greatest Self-Made Business Icons



Personal finance guru Suze Orman advises millions of her fans on the importance of rigorous saving as the path to great wealth. The problem, according to Lewis Schiff, author of Business Brilliant, is that Orman didn’t become very wealthy by saving more; she became wealthy by making more. (For example, Schiff describes how Orman dipped into her retirement fund to buy a $7,500 Cartier watch.) Schiff insists that saving your way to wealth is a myth — one of many myths about becoming wealthy that he targets in his book. Schiff, author of two previous books on wealth creation, developed the seven principles in Business Brilliant from two national in-depth surveys he commissioned that looked at the habits and attitudes of two groups: middle-class respondents and self-made millionaires who rose from the ranks of the middle class — in other words, those who got very rich, and those who didn’t.

While there was an overlap in some of the responses, it is in those responses that didn’t overlap between the two groups that revealed the differences between those who aspire to be wealthy and those who actually achieve great wealth. In many cases, middle-class respondents were mistaken about the best path to financial success. On the issue of saving, for example, Schiff found that self-made millionaires placed more emphasis on income than on saving. Thus, one of Schiff’s principles for creating wealth is to save less and earn more.

Follow the Money

Another mistaken notion of those who haven’t become rich is the oft-repeated notion that “if you do what you love, the money will follow.” The self-made millionaires in Schiff’s surveys disagree. Yes, it’s important to do what you love; but it’s equally important to follow the money rather than waiting for the money to magically flow in. For example, Guy Laliberté, the visionary founder of Cirque du Soleil, never forgot that access to funding was the key to achieving his vision. Laliberté is quoted as saying, “I always said that if Cirque makes it big, it will be because it succeeds at marrying art and business.”

The remaining principles for creating great wealth are:

  • Imitate. Don’t Innovate. The true inventors aren’t the ones who make the big fortunes on their “big idea.” Just ask Gary Kildall, who invented the first operating software for personal computers.
  • Know-How Is Good. Know-Who Is Better. There’s a reason why the word entrepreneur is based on the French words, “between” and “to take.” Wealth comes from becoming the link between the right people.
  • Win-Win Is a Loser. For many of the wealthy, Win-Win is more Wimp-Win, with the win-win aficionado being the wimp.
  • Spread the Work, Spread the Wealth. Let others do the tasks they do better.
  • Nothing Succeeds Like Failure. Setbacks teach people what they do well.

Take the LEAP

In the last chapter of the book, Schiff addresses the question of whether successful entrepreneurship and wealth creation can be learned. This is a topic on which he has worked extensively, based on his research, and from which he developed four core action steps that those aspiring to be wealthy must take: Learning, Earning, Assistance and Persistence (LEAP).

The first step, learning, is to identify what you do best and focus on opportunities based on what you do best. The second step, earning, means that self-made millionaires “take on projects and make deals that maximize the dollar potential of those opportunities while limiting their downside risks.” Assistance is cultivating the right network of friends, associates and partners. Persistence involves learning from mistakes and trying again. But for Schiff, it also means never to procrastinate and making your own luck.

In the seven chapters that cover the seven principles, Schiff offers compelling evidence of why much of the common wisdom on creating wealth is mistaken. For these thoughts alone, the book is worth reading. In the final chapter of this insightful and inspiring book, Schiff helps his readers take their mindset on wealth and begin the journey toward their own goals.

Work/Life Balance in a Crazy World

Back several years ago, work/life balance was a popular topic in books and articles. But as the economy crashed, most people went into survival mode and any thought of balance went out the window. Now that the economy is beginning to settle down, it’s probably a healthy thing to again consider where you’re at in that balance.

Our senior editor Andrew Clancy just completed an interview with Gail Cummings, a life coach, attorney and mother, on this challenge of work/life balance. One of his questions centered around how you evaluate your own situation. Cummings replied with several key points to consider.

  1.  Assess where you are – does your life feel like it’s balanced?
  2. Set realistic goals – focus on the greatest challenges first.
  3. Listen to your body – there are physical symptoms when we’re out of balance.
  4. Find a coach – having a coach is a gift to your well-being, and they will help to hold you accountable to your goals.
  5. Account for change – because things change so rapidly, be prepared to adjust goals along the way.

Cummings quoted one of her clients with a helpful reminder to us all: “A wall can only be strong if you build it one brick at a time.” Don’t expect immediate results but work for the long-term.

If you’d like to see the full interview which is part of our Executive Insights series, subscribe to our Premium subscription. You might also want to read some of our individual book summaries and reviews on the topic:

 Life Matters by A. Roger & Rebecca Merrill

The Age of Speed by Vince Poscente

The Seven-Day Weekend by Ricardo Semler

A More Valued Success by Paul Spitale

Are You Addicted to Urgency?

Are you addicted to urgency? While this may seem like a malady of the 21st century, Stephen R. Covey wrote about it back in 1996 in his book First Things First, and his work was inspired by The Tyranny of the Urgent by Charles Hummel published back in 1967. But certainly this addiction to the call of the urgent has become more potent with the advent of the smartphone.

Now we can receive calls and email wherever we are, day or night, not to mention accessing Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In and a vast array of apps that keep us up on the weather, news and sports. Our latest hit of information is never more than a click away.

In our recent interview with Elise Roma, general manager for the North East for Franklin Covey, she talked about a new seminar that they have launched called The 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity. Roma makes the observation that the number one reason people give for not managing their time wisely is that they have no time – sort of the Catch 22 of the business world.

Roma offered several suggestions to “cure” our urgency addiction:

  1. Since we’re inundated with technology, we need to make it work for us. Having all your sources of information on one device reduces the pressure. When everything is synched to one device, you aren’t missing a vital piece of information you need to do your job efficiently.
  2. Plan you time at the beginning of each week, without technology. Turn away from your computer and other distractions while planning your week. And always leave space in your schedule for the unexpected.
  3. Self-renewal is essential. The Franklin Covey program suggests five sources of renewal: Move, Eat, Sleep, Relax and Connect. While these may seem obvious, doing them is still a challenge for busy executives. Exercise, regular healthy meals, adequate sleep, time for relaxation, and connecting with family, friends, church or other groups can mean survival.
  4. Productivity is not about doing more stuff, but achieving the goals that are important to your job and the success of the company. Many times we need to do less stuff in order to achieve what’s really important in our business and our life.

If you would like to hear the complete interview with Elise Roma, subscribe to the Premium Edition of Soundview Executive Book Summaries, which includes monthly video interviews with top executives speaking to the important topics of our day.

Anyone Can Be Charismatic

Charisma – a special quality of leadership that captures the popular imagination and inspires allegiance and devotion.

Do you know someone who has charisma? It’s easy to recognize isn’t it? A person with charisma is someone you want to be around, someone who makes you feel good, inspired, motivated to make more of yourself. This is why people with charisma make good leaders. They can “rally the troops” and move people to get things done.

A man who stands out in my memory visited our church a few times. When he spoke, his voice demanded your attention, his humble manner earned your immediate trust, and his words evoked authority. When he talked to individuals they listened attentively and he could say even the most difficult things with acceptance.

What about yourself? Do you have charisma? Perhaps you think that you’re either born with it or you’re not, so why try to gain charisma. Deiric McCann would disagree. In his book, Leadership Charisma, McCann makes the case that anyone can have charisma if they know how to pursue it. And he backs up his claim with research from over 40,000 leaders worldwide.

To learn firsthand about McCann’s findings, we’ve invited him to our next Soundview Live webinar, Becoming a Charismatic Leader, on August 24th. He will present his four-step Charisma Model which promises to make you a more charismatic leader.

This is what Brad Sugars, chairman of ActionCoach says about Deiric McCann’s work:

“Leadership Charisma looks at a style of leadership long presumed to be unattainable for most people not ‘naturally’ born ‘charismatic’ … and gives people real, tangible, and quantifiable tools and behaviors they can immediately use to increase their personal effectiveness. This is one of the few resources I know that delves deeply into why this style of leadership is so effective, how it can be used and applied by anyone, and how it can be implemented in any organization. If you are looking for a resource that will help you passionately share a vision and purpose – and enlist others to help you make that happen – this book is for you.”

Quite a ringing endorsement isn’t it? So why not join us next week to see for yourself. And after you hear McCann speak, come on back to this post and leave your comments about his claims.

Book Review: Resonate

When it comes to giving a presentation, most speakers are headed in the wrong direction. According to author and CEO of Duarte Design, Inc. Nancy Duarte, too many speakers put the focus of their presentations on themselves rather than on the audience. In her book Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences, now available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary, Duarte reminds readers that the best presentations are stories where the audience stars as the hero.

Resonate provides one of the best methods ever to appear in a business book for creating a memorable presentation. It is the result of two years of intense research and work by Duarte. The core of the book’s philosophy, that presentations are stories that should take an audience to a destination, required Duarte to do extensive research into mythology, philosophy and psychology. Duarte wanted the book to be representative of a great presentation. This resulted in a book that is structured with great precision and reads with perfect pacing.

Duarte methodically rolls out the secrets to apply elements of storytelling, cinema and mythology to presentations. The purpose of each segment of Resonate leads to the ultimate goal of helping presenters establish a deeper connection with the audience.

If you visit Soundview online at, you’ll see two unique opportunities to learn more from Nancy Duarte. First, you can pick up a copy of the summary of Resonate that’s now available.

You can also sign up to join Soundview next Wednesday, March 16 at Noon (Eastern) when Nancy Duarte is the guest on the next Soundview Live Webinar. She will deliver “Creating Presentations that Persuade.” Don’t forget, Soundview subscribers can attend Soundview Live for FREE. Visit and sign-up today!