TIME Careers & Workplace

7 Life Hacks From Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, Elon Musk and Other Billionaires

Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., at a Bloomberg television interview in Menlo Park, Calif. on Dec. 2, 2014.
Paul Morris—Bloomberg via Getty Images Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., at a Bloomberg television interview in Menlo Park, Calif. on Dec. 2, 2014.

Pay it forward

With just shy of 2,000 billionaires on earth, the odds of joining that rarefied club is about one in 4 million. To put that in perspective, you are 24 times more likely to be killed by lightning than you are to become a billionaire.

If you hope to be a billionaire, despite the odds, it stands to reason that taking a radically different approach to life could shift things in your favor. Who better to show us how to rebel against an average life than rebel billionaires themselves? Here are seven life hacks from this rare group:

1. Work hard, play harder

Sir Richard Branson is the perfect example of prospering fantastically while truly enjoying life. While Branson certainly works hard, he is much better known for playing hard. From hot-air-balloon trips around the world to bungee jumping off buildings, Branson understands the value of living life to its fullest.

Lesson: Working hard is fine, but always take time away from work to have fun and recharge.

2. Follow your passions

When it comes to building a business around something you love, I can’t think of a better example than Nick Woodman, the founder of GoPro. Woodman’s adrenaline-fueled action-camera company was built on the backs (and helmets) of extreme athletes and adventure seekers around the world, and helps them to showcase and share their passions with the more risk-averse among us.

Lesson: If you love doing something, and others share your passion, you can make money doing it.

3. Hedge your bets

One of the smartest financial moves made around the time of the dot-com bust was by Mark Cuban. Cuban’s company, Broadcast.com, was acquired by Yahoo in 1999 for $5.7 billion in Yahoo stock. Not too long after that, Cuban, believing a crash was likely but unable to sell his stock due to lockup agreements, made the call to short an index fund that had a sizable stake in Yahoo to help balance out his overexposure. It cost him $20 million do this, but prevented him from losing an even larger amount.

Lesson: Take smart risks, but always look for ways to mitigate the risk and to avoid overexposure.

4. Be a connector

When it comes to success, one of the most critical components really is who you know. Mark Zuckerberg is a billionaire many, many times over because of his efforts to connect people. He grasped early on the power of connections, and set out on a mission to bring everyone on Earth closer together. Considering roughly two out of three people with Internet access are now on Facebook, he has done an incredible job.

Lesson: Be the hub at the center of your network, and connect people together as often as you can.

5. Rock the boat

While I don’t agree with everything Travis Kalanick, Uber’s CEO, has done, I absolutely agree with his unrelenting crusade to displace the status quo. Kalanick entered a stale industry known for a terrible user experience, and has kicked and battered his way through mountains of bureaucracy and legal red tape to make the on-demand transportation industry much more pleasant for consumers.

Lesson: Question everything, rock the boat and fight for change if you believe things should change.

6. Be yourself

After listening to Chris Sacca of LOWERCASE capital on a recent Tim Ferriss podcast, I think he’s an incredible example of someone who is unapologetically himself. He has strong opinions, wears crazy shirts and makes decisions based off his own system of values. He doesn’t invest if he doesn’t believe he’ll add value, and he only invests in companies that he can be proud of.

Lesson: Decide who you want to be, and be that person, regardless of what others think or say.

7. Leave things better than you found them

Nobody on the planet today embodies this philosophy better than Elon Musk. From SpaceX and Tesla to Solar City and beyond, Musk has dedicated his fortune and his life to making the world, and the chances of humanity surviving and prospering, better than they are now. If you’re not familiar with Musk’s story, read this. The things that he has done, and that he is trying to accomplish, are truly incredible.

Lesson: Pay it forward. Make the world, and the people around you, better. Think beyond your lifetime.

As Albert Einstein purportedly said, the definition of insanity “is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.” Billionaires don’t become billionaires by taking the common path through life, so if you’re hoping to join their ranks, then you’ll need to get in touch with your inner-rebel and explore alternate paths.

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com

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The 25 Most Promising Jobs for Millennials

Physician Assistant using a tablet in a hospital
Ariel Skelley—Getty Images Physician Assistant using a tablet in a hospital

Great job growth, high salaries, access for millennials, and plenty of peers.

If my group of early twentysomething peers is any indication, there should be a man or woman in academic regalia at the end of every college graduation ceremony whose sole job is to say, “Cue the existential crisis.” Gone are the constant, at-your-fingertips social interactions of the college campus. Living costs are heartbreakingly expensive. And while the labor market seems to be turning around for millennials, entry-level employment can occasionally still feel like a slog to nowhere.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Fellow flounderers, take note: after analyzing more than 400 occupations and ranking them according to growth potential, median income, and the percentage of jobs in the field held by adults aged 18 to 34, the millennial advocacy group Young Invincibles on Thursday released a list of the top 25 “Best Jobs for Millennials.” The results may inspire you to look at careers you hadn’t considered.

At the top of the list: physician assistants, who can expect a whopping 38% job growth by 2022, followed by actuaries, statisticians, and biomedical engineers. (The overall order was determined by averaging each occupation’s rankings across the three categories—so, for example, an occupation with a high median salary but low job growth might appear toward the middle of the list.) All are professions made up of more than 40% millennials, boast a median income of $75,000 or above, and are expected to experience growth in the range of 30%, meaning they’re excellent bets for your job security.

Read Next: 10 Things Millennials Won’t Spend Money On

The future is looking similarly peachy for dietitians and nutritionists (pun intended), therapists, and market research analysts, all jobs that tout huge expected job growth (between 20% and 32%) through 2022. As for salary, pharmacists, at number 15, win by a long shot, with a median annual pay of $116,670.

Unsurprisingly, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) jobs are well represented on the list—they make up 13 of the top 25—and so are jobs in the medical field. Only 10 of the top 25 jobs—and one of the top 5, physician assistants—employ more women than men, a gender gap that Young Invincibles points out, noting that female millennials are graduating from college in greater numbers but still lagging men in getting the best jobs.

On the upside, the list makes clear that a four-year college degree or even an associate’s degree isn’t necessary to nab a good job: elevator installers and repairers are number eight, with 25% job growth expected by 2022 and a median income of $76,650.

Check out the full list here.

MONEY financial advisers

When Pro Athletes Become Financial Advisers

onstage during the "XXX" panel discussion at the HBO portion of the 2015 Summer TCA Tour at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on July 30, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California.
5 FilmMagic Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson plays a pro athlete turned financial adviser in HBO's Ballers.

Former players channel their drive into making money for their clients, many of whom are athletes themselves.

College and professional athletes may be clients financial advisers love to get, but many also find good homes on the other side of the desk.

Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company, for example, is discovering that its three-year, $1.5 million sponsorship, through 2017, of the Collegiate Rugby Championship, is not only getting the company’s name out there, but is bringing in some enthusiastic new hires.

Erin Sinclair, who played rugby at the University of Kansas, started with Penn Mutual about two months ago. Sinclair brings the same passion for rugby to tackling insurance sales.

“Rugby players are used to performing under pressure; we’re very driven,” Sinclair said. “All athletes are driven.”

Attracting athletes to the ranks also has other benefits. As advisers, they can tap into their network of former and current players. Having a former high-level athlete on board also telegraphs to clients that the firm understands the needs of players and is reputable.

Read Next: 10 Pro Athletes Who Have Hit Financial Rock Bottom

Another former athlete with Penn Mutual, Adam Paoli, joined soon after he graduated from Northwestern University, where he played football all four years despite five knee surgeries. Paoli said his persistence gave him the discipline and faith to keep going as an adviser, even in the early years.

“That competitive spirit doesn’t die in you,” Paoli said.

Jon Rotter, co-founder of Penn Mutual’s The Heartland Group, in Chicago, recruited Adam.

Athletes, he said, are used to being coached so they take direction well and their competitive spirit means they are self starters who do not need their hands held every step of the way.

“We look for people who possess the traits that we can’t train,” Rotter said.

Patricia Bates, regional president for the Mid-America market with Wells Fargo, agrees. “Whether it’s at the Division I college, or professional level, they have that drive, and that translates very well in our business,” she said.

Read Next: Watch the New Trailer for Showtime’s Insider Trading Drama ‘Billions’

Marc Wilkins, a financial adviser with Wells Fargo, says his experiences as a former professional baseball player with the Pittsburgh Pirates are “priceless” when it comes to attracting other players.

“When I sit down with a baseball player, major or minor, they usually know about my background. It offers instant credibility,” he said.

Wilkins was a year away from a multi-year contract with the Pirates when a shoulder injury ended his pitching career.

Since he came up through the minors, and lived on $450 a month with three roommates in the beginning, Wilkins learned to be careful with money.

The experience gave Wilkins a real appreciation for the transient nature of cash and the time value of money, he said. As an adviser, it has stoked a desire to instill good financial habits in his clients, including among fellow athletes.

Wilkins provides athlete clients with customized budget spreadsheets that include items such as clubhouse dues and frequent travel. He also reminds them that it’s better to tuck away money in an IRA than spend it on Dom Perignon.

“I have an interest, and a passion, and especially an interest in helping this group of people,” Wilkins said.

Read Next: This NFL Millionaire Lives on a $60K Budget to Save for the Future

TIME Careers & Workplace

5 Templates for Overdue Email Response

TIME.com stock photos Computer Keyboard Typing
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Get your message across without damaging your reputation

The Muse logo

Raise your hand if, at this very moment, you have at least one email you should’ve already sent—a day ago, a week ago, even (eek!) a month ago.

I know there’s several messages I’m currently late in sending. Yet, they always conveniently slip my mind until right before I go to sleep—at which point I promise myself that I’ll send them first thing tomorrow morning.

Then time passes, and passes some more, and before I know it, I’m facing a situation where it’s almost embarrassing to respond. Isn’t it just better to pretend that it got caught in spam?

No. And to make finally sending that email a little easier, I’ve created a couple templates that will both salvage your professional reputation and make your recipient more understanding of the delay.

1. For “Friendly” Emails That Don’t Technically Require a Response

It’s really easy to procrastinate on replying to these types of emails, because your daily responsibilities usually take precedence. But trust me, it’s better to send a late response than never send one at all. Just make sure to extend a heartfelt apology and prove that despite your tardy response, you’re interested in the other person’s life.

Hi Amy,

Thanks so much for your kind note last month! Yep, it was definitely exciting for our team to get theWall Street Journal mention—things have been crazy here ever since, which is why I’m so late in answering your email. (I apologize!)

I saw your company recently announced its launching a new marketing division. That’s so awesome, congratulations! How’s everything been going over there?

Thank you again, and I hope to see you at another meet-up in the future.



2. For Request Emails

When someone asks you for information or help and you forget to respond (or put it off because it’s never the right time), you can feel pretty guilty. Show the person who reached out that you’re not a jerk by doing the best you can to help him or her now.

Dear James,

Last month, you asked me if I knew anyone who worked at Carol Smith Agency, and I apologize for not answering sooner! Are you still hoping to find a contact there? I just looked through my connections and discovered a couple people who might be helpful. Let me know if you want me to make some introductions.

And if there’s anything else I can do for you, just ask. I promise I’ll try to be quicker next time!


3. For Bad News Emails

It’s incredibly easy to put off breaking bad news (and find one million reasons to do it). However, you have to rip that Band-Aid off eventually. First, apologize, then try to explain the situation, and finally, actually make an effort to help!

Hi Maren,

I hope you’re doing well and that your last semester at Colgate is off to a great start. My sincerest apologies for not getting back to you about the remote internship sooner.

After thinking it over, our team doesn’t think this will work out—so much of our communication happens in person, and we’d hate for you to miss that. However, you’re clearly talented and motivated, and I’d be more than happy to see if I know anyone at another company who could use a remote intern. Let me know if you’re interested.



4. For Every Other Email

For all those miscellaneous, oh-gosh-I-really-have-to-reply emails, you can use this template as a starter.

Dear Sam,

As I was looking through my drafts, I realized I had never [emailed/responded to] you about [subject]. I am sincerely sorry for letting the ball drop on this one—in the future, I’ll double-check that I’ve sent my messages to you so it doesn’t happen again.

After meeting with the Dev Ops team, we’ve decided to move forward with the original plan discussed at our March meeting.

Apologies again,


Answering a late email always requires a little willpower. But you know you’ll feel better once you do—and now that you have these templates, there’s no excuse not to push “send.”

This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article above was originally published on The Muse

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MONEY Workplace

5 Things Never to Bring Up in a Job Interview

Klaus Vedfelt—Getty Images

Save your questions about the company's 401(k) match until after you get the offer.

Congrats on scoring that interview! You clearly deserved it based on your resume and cover letter, but don’t blow the opportunity by prattling on about these five topics you should never discuss during a job interview.

1. Dirt on Your Former Employer

When your interviewer lists what makes their company special, it’s really tempting to take that as a cue to rail against your old employer. But you should definitely avoid dishing about your former boss’ failings, missteps, or the company culture. That leaves a lasting impression of a negative and petty employee. As far as they know, you will probably do the same to them in the future, and who wants that? Keep talking about your old company down to what you learned and how you honed your skill set — nothing more.

2. Personal or Romantic Details

Your interviewer asks you questions like, “Do you have other commitments or life events that might get in the way of your job?” This is not the time to start listing all of your very personal plans. Your dating status should not be vocalized. Giving too much background information on your family is also bad. Did you mother get sick last year and you had to take care of her for a while? Sorry, you can’t bring that up in an interview — it may look like playing the sympathy card. Basically, personal details not only make the interviewer uncomfortable, but they take the focus off of your competence in the workplace.

3. Benefits and Payment

Don’t mess with the process: Asking about the finer details of payment and benefits during the interview will not only dock you points, but you probably won’t even get an answer until after you’ve been offered the job (which is now slightly less likely if you asked too early). Don’t risk looking impatient and greedy. Your most burning question has to wait until you’ve floored them enough to get the offer.

4. Your Other Job Interviews

It’s only Tuesday and you’ve got six more interviews this week, but that’s not your current interviewer’s business. Don’t let them force your hand, but don’t let them think they are just another interview, either. Stay confident, positive, and genuinely interested in the position you’re interviewing for each time. Bringing up your other prospects won’t help you unless you have a solid job offer with competitive pay and benefits to use as leverage.

5. Religion and Politics

Yes, that same bit of etiquette your mother taught you is especially important in your career. Unless you’re interviewing for an NGO or a political think tank, politics and religion are not safe water cooler discussion topics nor are they worth broaching in the job interview. Think what a disaster it would be if your interviewer didn’t agree with your views! How you vote or pray should not determine whether or not you’re a good employee, so don’t give them a chance to judge your values outside of the office.

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MONEY social networks

7 Ways to Get Noticed on LinkedIn

JGI/Jamie Grill—Getty Images

Don't just set it and forget it.

LinkedIn might not be the most exciting social network, but it’s the most important when it comes to your career. As of April 2015, the site has more than 350 million users, with 100 million based in the U.S. alone. And while you might think of LinkedIn as a tool for a job search, it can be just as effective for online networking and personal branding, whether you’re looking to gain cred in your industry or are seeking new clients.

Get the most out of LinkedIn with these seven essential rules.

Complete Your Profile — And Keep It Up to Date

“Recruiters like to see a profile that is 100 percent, if not close to 100 percent, completed,” says people management expert Colleen Cassel, CPC. This means filling in the summary (use the entire space to its allowable limit), title, education,jobs, awards, and recommendations. You should also have an outstanding profile picture and backdrop photo. (Selfies won’t cut it.)

Rather than seeing your profile as a set-it-and-forget-it report of your career, think of it as a living, breathing document. As your career progresses, you’ll want to strategically tweak and shape your profile for the future you want, says career and life coach Jenn DeWall, MBA, CPC. In fact, the summary section should “highlight the aspects of your job that you enjoy and what specifically you want, not necessarily what you have the most experience in.” She also advises her clients to “post their strengths in descending order…. Most readers do a quick scan of your profile in a short amount of time. Highlight what you want them to see.”

Go Beyond Connecting

After meeting someone you’d like to work with in the future, DeWall suggests following up with a LinkedIn connection request. She suggests making yourself stand out by sending a note in the request that references a “specific thing that you enjoyed talking to him or her about, or something you want to connect with this person about again in the future.”

If you’re looking to expand your network or find clients, ask your connections to introduce you to people they are connected to — or, if you have LinkedIn Premium, you can connect directly with others via inMails (private messages).

One way to cold-connect effectively is to ask questions, rather than pitching yourself, says career expert Darrell W. Gurney, author of Never Apply for a Job Again. Since you don’t want to put people in the uncomfortable position of turning down a request, make the person feel like they’re “the only person on the planet who has the information you need,” Gurney says. “Most people will give you five minutes to answer a question, and that gives you the basis to begin a relationship.”

You might also consider forming communities on LinkedIn by creating a virtual group for your connections that centers around a shared goal, purpose, or interest, so you can take your relationships to the next level.

Keep Your Network Fresh and Engaged

Make sure you don’t neglect your connections. As Cassel points out, you may have connected with someone years ago whose guidance or referrals could come in handy now or in the future — and forgotten they are even in your network. Go back through your list and reach out to these people from time to time. You might even take a peek at your closest connections’ networks to see whether there’s anyone you’d like to be introduced to.

Look through your connections and clean them out periodically, Cassel adds, to emphasize quality connections over quantity. Career coachRoy Cohen, author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide, says, “Your LinkedIn universe is an extension of your profile — who you choose to include should have some connection to what you do professionally and where you want to see yourself over time.” So, it’s important to be strategic about your network. “Navigate ‘up,’” says Cohen. “Mine the site to connect with professionals who are senior to you in your field and who have the potential to be valuable to you professionally.”

Know When to Take Things Offline

Simply clicking “Connect” isn’t enough: Use your network to its fullest by occasionally meeting in person. “People respond to and remember more about personal contact than online messaging,” says Michael Diettrich-Chastain, LPC, DCC, owner of Synergy Consulting & Counseling. “Creating in-person rapport allows them to have a better impression of who you are, improving the likelihood of referrals, sales, and business deals.”

If one-on-one meetings don’t make sense — perhaps you don’t know people well enough to grab coffee — you could organize a networking event or mixer for a group of connections with shared goals or within a certain industry.

Get Your Name on the Newsfeed

LinkedIn allows you to share updates to a Facebook-like newsfeed. Cohen recommends sharing insights and information about your industry that might be helpful or interesting to your connections. You can also ask questions or for ideas on how to enhance your career or business — for example, asking which professional associations you should join.

Increasing your presence on LinkedIn can also be an effective personal branding strategy, addsNina Parr, co-founder and CMO at Inspirer, because your name will continually show up in LinkedIn email updates as well as in the feed and notifications section. Parr recommends posting other people’s content (or yours), work-appropriate photos, job openings at your company, and thank-yous to coworkers. You never know who will come across your updates or read one of your comments.

Writing content on LinkedIn is also an effective way to get your name out there and draw in new connections: LinkedIn’s career expert, Catherine Fisher, confirms that blog posts you write on LinkedIn will get six times the views from people outside your immediate network on average. (You can alsocheck analytics for each of your posts to monitor their reach.)

Recommend and Get Recommended

When it comes to LinkedIn’s recommendation feature, take Parr’s advice: What goes around comes around. Giving recommendations doesn’t just get your name on other people’s profiles; it’s also a great way to foster deeper connections and build relationships. And gettingrecommended will help your own reputation. It’s win-win.

To be effective, a recommendation should include specific details about a colleague and a list of notable skills — it shouldn’t just be a glowing summary of how “great” someone is.

If you’re faced with a recommendation request for someone you barely remember or disliked working with, write something short, noting anything you do remember or the one positive point of working together. Trying to opt out, or not responding to the request at all, could cause more issues than being brief, and there’s no reason to burn bridges.

Networking is a Two-Way Street

Remember that networking involves reciprocity. Actively participate in other people’s content and updates — for example, you can offer “a personal message of congratulations when someone has a work anniversary or promotion, or gets a new job,” suggests Diettrich-Chastain. Or respond to posts that you feel you can intelligently contribute to: Leave comments, ask questions, or offer feedback.

The bottom line? “Stay engaged and you will be remembered.”

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MONEY hiring

These Cities Have the Best Job Prospects

John Coletti—Getty Images

Zillow, Wallethub and Ziprecuriter pick the best places to find employment across the country.

The employment picture in the U.S. has been brightening, but the improvement has not been evenly dispersed across the nation. Whether you have just graduated from college and are now looking for your first full-time job or you are looking for a job/career change, you’re interested in finding areas with the greatest job opportunities.

Both Ziprecruiter and WalletHub ranked the 2015 job market in various U.S. cities earlier in the year taking slightly different approaches. Ziprecruiter looked purely at employment figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, including applicant-to-employer and applications-to-job posting ratios. Their top choices are:

  • Lincoln, NE – The capital of Nebraska boasts solid job growth including the national lead in construction job growth, low overall unemployment, and strong manufacturing and healthcare bases.
  • Fargo, ND – Fargo has shown steadier growth than the boom and bust cycle of the North Dakota oil fields, with education and healthcare as main job drivers.
  • Rochester, MN – The home of the Mayo Clinic offers major opportunities in healthcare and construction.
  • Sioux Falls, SD – Sioux Falls has shown continuous strong job growth and has opportunities in fields ranging from manufacturing to financial services.

Other Ziprecruiter top cities include Provo and Salt Lake City, UT; Omaha, NE; Fort Collins and Boulder, CO; Columbus, OH; and Minneapolis, MN.

WalletHub chose to include a “socioeconomic environment” ranking in their analysis. Congratulations to Sioux Falls, Omaha, and Salt Lake City — all three cities stayed near the top of both the Ziprecruiter and WalletHub lists.

WalletHub rated Seattle, WA, as the top city with Des Moines, IA, as the second choice (top overall for job market only). Their results include an odd Arizona bias, listing four Phoenix suburbs (Gilbert, Chandler, Scottsdale, and Peoria) in their top fifteen markets.

A third analysis comes from the real-estate site Zillow. This analysis ranks the best combinations of job opportunities and income growth with affordable housing — as you might expect from a real estate site. Cities are slotted into quadrants, with the most desirable cities falling into the quadrant of both high growth and affordable housing.

Smaller communities in the “sweet spot” include Dalton, GA, Elkhart, IN, and Battle Creek, MI; larger communities include Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Louisville. Zillow suggests avoiding the “sour spots” of lesser employment opportunities and expensive housing such as Atlantic City, NJ, Santa Fe, NM, and Great Falls, MT.

Several sites have incorporated Zillow’s interactive infographic, including the Wall Street Journal. Move your cursor over each bubble to see the values for a particular area and see how your preferred choices stack up.

The wide variance in the analyses suggests that there are many ways to assess local job markets and that some of them are contradictory. For example, Columbia, MO, comes in fifth best at Ziprecruiter for small job markets, but fares poorly in the Zillow survey on the employment front (not the housing front).

Consider the above information and websites as starting points for your search. Employment conditions can change rapidly in any city, and the local employment opportunities may not match your qualifications or skills. It is best to network within your field and find out where the major employers and opportunities in your field are located, and use these guides as supplementary documents to help you review employment options.

As you evaluate your options, don’t forget to check out the cost-of-living, lifestyle, and housing opportunities before you commit to a new city. Is a great job in a city you don’t like really that great of a job?

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TIME Careers & Workplace

5 Marketing Lessons From Donald Trump’s Presidential Campaign

Donald Trump during a news conference ahead of a rally in Dubuque, Iowa on Aug. 25, 2015.
Daniel Acker—Bloomberg via Getty Images Donald Trump during a news conference ahead of a rally in Dubuque, Iowa on Aug. 25, 2015.

What you see is what you get

Donald Trump has taken over the 2016 Republican presidential primary campaign. Whether you agree or disagree with him, there’s no denying that his candidacy has been a powerful force in the race and has commanded a great deal of media attention.

Time will tell whether Trump’s campaign will be successful in winning the nomination, but he’s already been very successful at generating headlines. Despite his brash demeanor and highly questionable (some would say “hateful” or “stupid”) statements, as of this writing, Trump just keeps rising in the polls.

Regardless of what happens with Trump’s presidential campaign, he’s already a winner in the constant battle for public attention. Here are a few marketing lessons from Trump that any brand or political cause can emulate:

1. Know your audience

Donald Trump doesn’t care if you love him or hate him. He’s playing to a very select crowd of voters who believe in his message and who want to support him. There’s something about Trump’s tough-talking “I don’t care what the experts think” attitude that appeals to Republican primary voters in 2015. Lots of Republican primary voters are feeling frustrated and are passionate to take back the White House. Trump is giving voice to feelings that are widely shared in that political party.

In the same way, your brand doesn’t have to appeal to “everyone.” Know your target market and speak to their concerns in a relevant way.

2. Know your brand

Love him or hate him, Donald Trump knows who he is. The Trump that we’re seeing on the campaign trail is well known to New Yorkers (I’m a native New Yorker myself). We have watched him for decades become famous as a New York real estate developer, bestselling author and TV reality-show contest business mogul on “The Apprentice.” Trump hasn’t changed. He’s just talking about politics now instead of business deals. But he’s always been bold and brassy, with a take-no-prisoners attitude.

The lesson: Your brand needs to stand for something. Lots of people are not fans of Trump, but even people who oppose his candidacy find themselves grudgingly admiring the consistency of his brand message. What you see is what you get.

3. Be audacious

Trump has said a lot of outrageous things during the campaign, from inflammatory remarks about Mexican immigrants to accusing John McCain of not being a “war hero,” but every new media gaffe or media whirlwind just seems to boost his performance in the polls. The reason: Trump’s core supporters respect him for speaking his truth, even if he’s not saying it in a polite, genteel way.

Most political candidates are so polished and focus-grouped that it’s almost impossible for their real feelings and emotions to come out. Trump is in your face, every day, with unvarnished depictions of life as he sees it. He’s not afraid of what anyone thinks about him, and it shows.

The lesson: Don’t be afraid to really stand for something as a brand, even if it’s controversial. Too many companies try to be blandly inoffensive in a failed attempt to be “mainstream” and appeal to “everyone.” It’s better to be memorable, even if you lose some customers who don’t “get it,” as long as you keep appealing to the niche market of customers who love you the most.

4. Trust yourself

Trump doesn’t follow focus groups. All candidates these days test out their message, trying to find the right combination of words and issues to appeal to the right demographic segments of voters. But often, candidates end up sounding excessively “focus-grouped.” The real human connection of the candidate gets lost in trying to appeal to too many people. Trump seems to be resonating with conservative Republican voters because he’s so unrehearsed and unpolished — he’s not afraid to speak off the cuff. Every day on the campaign seems like he’s just really talking about whatever is most urgently on his mind at that moment.

The same goes with your product. It’s good to do some market research to find out whether a new product is viable, but it’s even more important to trust that you have a good idea. If you feel that way, trust that others will feel the same. I’ve seen so many great ideas become convoluted and watered down, when there are too many cooks in the kitchen. If you try to make your product appealing to everyone, you’ll ultimately end up appealing to no one.

5. No apologies

Trump is like no one else we’ve seen in presidential politics in recent years. He seems to have absolutely no sense of regret or shame. He says what he says, he calls it like he sees it, and then he moves on, ignoring the critics. Has Trump ever apologized for anything? He seems incapable of admitting to mistakes or being wrong.

This raises an interesting question for your brand: when should you apologize? If a customer has a bad experience with your product, should you apologize? Or should you just give them a refund and move on, writing it off as “Well, they’re not the right kind of customer for us?” If someone is offended by or misunderstands something your company posts on Twitter, should you apologize? Should you ignore the critics, or try to learn from them?

It’s hard to know when to draw the line. If you apologize too often, you’ll find yourself catering too much to customers who really don’t understand the value of what you offer. But if you don’t apologize when an apology was really warranted, you might damage your brand. You have to toe the line between maintaining your brand reputation and doing the right thing. Don’t spend all of your energy on trying to make bad customers happy.

Trump embodies the purity of a certain kind of bold, no-apologies approach to doing business. He’s almost Zen-like in his clear-headed refusal to get bogged down in details of saying “sorry.” He just keeps moving forward and on to the next deal. There’s something so refreshing about that, but not all brands can pull it off.

Whether you’re voting for Trump or not, there’s no denying that he’s a fascinating one-of-a-kind figure in American politics and business. You don’t have to become like Trump to learn from how he’s marketed himself and built his brand.

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com

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10 Ways to Make Your Afternoons As Productive As Mornings

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Leave mindless tasks and easy decision for your final hours of work

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Our society is collectively obsessed with morning routines.

What is just as important, but often neglected, is how we manage what happens in the middle of the day.

When we wake up, our minds are clear, our bodies are rested. High willpower gives us the energy to take on the day.

The problem is that no matter how much energy we start with, it can only sustain us for so long. Without good midday habits, we fall prey to distraction (hello Facebook!), impulsivity, irritability, and fatigue. Or even worse, we crash and make bad decisions we regret. According to renowned willpower researcher Roy Baumeister, “Most things go bad in the evening. Diets are broken at the evening snack, not at breakfast… Impulsive crimes are mostly committed after midnight.”

To help you nail your afternoon routine, here is some practical and science-backed advice from successful entrepreneurs who have built multimillion-dollar companies.

1. Move around and take a fidgeting break

Lindsay Gaskins, CEO of Marbles: The Brain Store

When most people think about health and energy, they primarily focus on exercise.While exercise is incredibly important, our nonexercise activities (known as NEAT in the academic world) actually take up more time and burn more energy throughout the day.

Changes to these NEAT activities are easier to make since they require less willpower; yet they are still incredibly impactful.

“We also found that when sitting for prolonged periods of time, any movement is good movement, and was also associated with better fitness,” says Dr. Jacquelyn Kulinski, who has studied the link between health and physical activity. “So if you are stuck at your desk for a while, shift positions frequently, get up and stretch in the middle of a thought, pace while on a phone call, or even fidget.”

Lindsay Gaskins, CEO of Marbles: The Brain Store, is a big fan of fidgeting with a desk toy. She takes multiple fidget breaks every day to reduce stress and help her think more clearly.

“Anything I can press, bend, or manipulate makes my hands and brain happy,” Gaskins says. She recommends desk toys like wooden puzzles, Ball of Whacks, or Flingons (a flingable, flexible magnetic fidget set).

Katherine Isbister, research director of NYU’s Game Innovation Lab, affirms the importance of desk toys in reducing stress. Isbister says that being able to squish something really hard, or knock it on the table “is a great way to overcome negative emotions such as stress or boredom.” Isbister and her team are currently studying how workers use desktop toys to increase mental clarity.

2. Never eat alone

Elizabeth Zaborowska, founder and CEO of Bhava Communications

According to one research-backed book on the impact of face-to-face relationships,The Village Effect, spending time directly with other people and having active social lives can increase our likelihood of surviving cancer by 66 percent. As noted in The Village Effect, and also discussed by National Geographic researcher Dan Buettner and his team, the right social circle is an essential part of why centenarians live past 100 years old.

Elizabeth Zaborowska, founder and CEO of Bhava Communications (revenue: $5 Million ), organizes an amazing 15-plus informal meals per week (750 meals per year) with her employees, clients, venture capitalists, industry colleagues, and more. She invites one or two people to join her for lunch and dinner, and occasionally sets up breakfasts and weekend brunches.

Having a meal together connects people in ways that simply working together can’t. A meal creates an informal space where friendships can be formed, and sets the foundation for a deeper working relationship. In one study, employees at a tech company who rated other employees as being “especially good friends” had higher performance ratings from their bosses than those who had fewer numbers of such friendships.

Many well-known entrepreneurs use mealtime as one of the main ways they build relationships. During summers, Martha Stewart regularly entertains guests for dinner at her East Hampton estate. And Keith Ferrazzi proclaimed the power of meals, particularly dinner parties, in his bestselling book Never Eat Alone.

“Today I can safely say my strongest links have been forged at the table,” Ferrazzi says.”The companionable effects of breaking bread — not to mention drinking a few glasses of wine — bring people together.”

3. Set your timer for five minutes in order to break up that big, hard task you’ve been procrastinating on

Brian Scudamore, founder and CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, You Move Me, and Wow 1 Day Painting

According to Stanford researcher BJ Fogg, the best way to change your behavior is to make the desired change easier. And the simplest way to make something easier is to reduce the amount of time it takes. For example, exercise is much less intimidating when you commit to it for one minute instead of one hour.

The same principle holds true in work. Whenever Brian Scudamore, founder and CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, You Move Me, and Wow 1 Day Painting, feels overwhelmed by a big goal or feels low energy, he sets his iPhone timer for five minutes and commits to focusing for that period of time on the task at hand. “What ends up happening is I build up momentum and want to keep going after the timer goes off,” Scudamore says.

While setting big, hairy, audacious goals is really good for long-term thinking, it is paralyzing when you’re at a low point in your day. Focusing on an easy, small step is powerful because it:

  • Builds momentum and keeps you focused.
  • Increases the odds that you’ll take action.
  • Cements your own identity as someone who gets stuff done.
  • Gives you the feeling of progress, optimism, control, and gratitude.

For more information on how to set easy tasks, watch this 10-minute video by Fogg.

4. Take a “pocket vacation” in nature

Kay Koplovitz, founder of USA Network and Syfy

It turns out that exposure to all that’s green and grows is good for your immune system. Not getting out in natural surroundings can lead to an increase of allergies, asthma, and other illnesses. It even has a name; “Nature Deficit Disorder.”

Kay Koplovitz, founder of USA Network and Syfy takes a daily walk in New York City’s Central Park for 15 minutes, calling her routine her “pocket vacation.” Research indicates that a mere five minutes of walking in nature can produce an immense, immediate benefit of reducing stress, notably on our levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. An even more important effect is that nature restores your ability to focus with a phenomenon called Attention Restoration Theory.

If you don’t have time to take a quick walk, spend 40 seconds looking through a window with greenery outside. That short amount of time is enough to restore your attention span, leading to far fewer errors in your work.

5. Take micro naps like these iconic entrepreneurs, presidents, and artists

Sevetri Wilson, CEO of Solid Ground Innovations

Famous individuals throughout history have sworn by the power of naps; everyone from presidents (Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Bill Clinton) to artists (Salvador Dali, Leonardo Da Vinci) to entrepreneurs (Thomas Edison, John D. Rockefeller) have enjoyed midday naps. And it’s no wonder why. According to one study, a 10 minute power nap can reduce fatigue and increase cognitive performance up to two hours. Salvador Dali had a particularly unique approach to naps he called “slumber with a key” that he felt increased his creativity. Essentially, he sat in a chair with a key in his hand. If he fell asleep, the key would drop and he’d immediately wake him up. This approach allow him to stay in a state of deep relaxation while also getting conscious access to his unconscious mind.

Sevetri Wilson, CEO of Solid Ground Innovations, has adopted a schedule where she works in the early morning hours, when other people are sleeping, and takes naps in the early evening, when other people are relaxing.

“This schedule allows me to get a lot more done without being distracted by text messages or TV and while remaining high-energy,” Wilson says.

Larger companies like Google have started embracing the the proven benefits of the power of nap. For example, Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post, andBrian Halligan, CEO of publicly traded Hubspot, have each created employee nap rooms.

6. Play a musical instrument

Joe Apfelbaum, CEO of Ajax Union

According to neuroscientist, Anita Collins, playing music is the cognitive equivalent of “a full-body workout,” and it “engages practically every area of the brain at once.”

More significant, music playing has been highlighted as a powerful long-term strategy to improve brain plasticity, as well as overall brain functioning.

Joe Apfelbaum, CEO of digital marketing agency, Ajax Union, takes this research to heart, and he’s baked it into the culture of his company. “For me to keep my high energy going throughout the day, I need to do things differently,” Apfelbaum says. “When brainstorming I sometimes play guitar or other musical instruments that are in my office at all times.”

Among the most famous of all amateur music players is Albert Einstein, an avid and competent violinist. Einstein often gushed about his love for his hobby, saying “I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music… I get the most joy in life out of music.”

Picking up a musical instrument is not as intimidating as it sounds: Josh Kaufman offers tips on his website for how he learned to play simple chord progressions on a ukulele in less than 20 hours.

7. Shower with your eyes closed

Jason Duff, founder and CEO of COMSTOR Outdoor

Artist Paul Gogan once declared, “I shut my eyes in order to see.”

Recent research on how creative insights happen shows that he might have been on to something. In the book, Eureka Factor, researcher John Kounios shares the importance of inner-directed attention:

“We found that just before viewing a problem that participants would eventually solve with insight, they disengaged from their surroundings and directed their attention inwardly on their own thoughts.”

As soon as he gets back from work at the end of the day, Jason Duff, founder and CEO of COMSTOR Outdoor, takes his second shower of the day. It’s 20 minutes long, and he closes his eyes and lets his mind wander.

Research shows that having your eyes closed increases alpha waves, which is closely associated with relaxation and helps new ideas go from your subconscious mind to your conscious mind.

If you want to add a second shower to your daily routine, but also want to conserve water, consider purchasing a water-efficient showerhead.

8. Create an easy list for the end of the day

Emerson Spartz, founder and CEO of Spartz Inc.

Many articles and books have been written about the beginning of the workday. The predominant principle is to focus on hard, important tasks and decisions that will push your business forward.

“If you save the same activities for the afternoon, you will likely procrastinate, be inefficient, and have lower quality,” says Emerson Spartz, founder and CEO of Spartz Inc., a digital media company that owns a network of sites (like Dose.com and OMG Facts) that collectively reach 45 million visitors per month. Instead, Spartz leaves mindless tasks and easy decisions (i.e., emails that need quick responses, social media, and simple tasks) for his final hours of work.

“I’ll check email periodically throughout the day to respond to anything urgent,” Spartz said. “But I reserve the last hour just for emailing, which is easier for my mind and more likely to distract me.”

9. Exercise with a gym trainer or gym buddy

Cameron Herold, author of Double Double, CEO coach, and globally renowned speaker

Evan Williams, founder of Blogger, Twitter, and Medium, works out in the middle of the day, contradicting the typical advice to workout first thing in the morning:

“My focus is usually great first thing in the morning. So going to the gym first is a trade off of very productive time in the office. Instead, I’ve started going mid-morning or late afternoon (especially on days I work late). It feels weird (at first) to leave the office in the middle of the day, but total time spent is nearly the same, with higher energy and focus across the board.”

Cameron Herold, author of Double Double and a CEO coach to high-growth businesses, also exercises in the middle of the day. He uses a trainer to force himself to follow through.

“I need more help stopping work than I do getting it into it,” Herold says. “If I can force myself to stop my day for a workout, I can sustain quality output much longer. Having a trainer forces me to show up.”

A review of 29 academic studies found that exercise dramatically increases attention, processing speed, and executive function.

10. Save your easy meetings for the afternoon

Benji Rabhan, founder and CEO of Apollo Scheduling

Meetings have built-in accountability, and thus limited procrastination. That makes them perfect to hold your attention during the afternoon when your mind is more likely to wander.

Benji Rabhan, founder & CEO of Apollo Scheduling, uses his AppointmentCore software to open his afternoons to meetings with clients, customers, and team members. Instead of using his precious morning time for meetings, he uses the late afternoon for simple meetings such as answering questions, status checks, or conveying information.

Rabhan still has big meetings that require difficult decisions in the morning, as several studies show that we make worse decisions throughout the day as a result of decision fatigue.

Not convinced? Meeting in the afternoon has another benefit. According to a study of best times to schedule meetings, 3:00 p.m. has the highest acceptance rate!

This article originally appeared on Inc.com

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The Secret to Getting People to Actually Read Your Emails

reading email on laptop
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And cover letters, and sales pitches...

With all the communication tools at our fingertips today, you think it would be easy to get your point across. But more often than not, our emails, cover letters, sales materials and so forth are a muddled mess — and they’re promptly ignored.

Business communication is often overwrought and stuffed with filler words. The upshot: Recipients lose interest or miss your point. In a new paper, researchers from Colorado State University and the University of Northern Colorado explore what’s going on and how to fix it.

If you’re making a cold contact, the first hurdle is often just getting the recipient to open the email. (It’s not as easy as you think, but a panel of busy CEOs weigh in on how to do that here.)

But success doesn’t just hinge on the recipient opening it. You need to make the reader pay attention, and you need to do it quickly.

“When you’re talking about a business audience, people have 10 to 15 seconds to read a one-page letter,” says Mike Gould, a former Colorado State University faculty member and current consultant who’s one of the authors of the new research paper. If you’re not immediately clear and convincing, “They’ll bypass the context,” he warns.

There are two common problems. One is our tendency to use vague words; for instance, we’ll say we “had a great impact on quarterly sales” rather than “grew quarterly sales by 35%.”

When you go through your correspondence, are there words that could be replaced with numbers? Use those numbers instead.

Gould says you should watch out for words like “many,” “few,” “many,” “most,” “some,” “great” and “small” — they don’t deliver the kind of clarity good business communication needs. A cynical recipient might even think you’re trying to play up or down the reality by deliberately obscuring the details.

The other giant stumbling block is using the passive voice. We use active verbs when we speak, because it’s both quicker and clearer to use active words. But when we write, most of us unconsciously shift into a stilted kind of prose that manages to say less even though it’s stuffed with too many words.

Gould says that prepositions like “to,” “for,” “of” and “in” tend to be the big culprits. For example, instead of writing, “I plan to make a decision,” change it to read, “I will decide.” It’s quicker and more precise.

When it comes to writing, “We’re taught to use excessive information and be vague because then we can mitigate what might be a problem,” Gould says. “People have to be taught to be assertive in communication.”

This takes practice, he adds; in his research, students need an average of eight rewrites to reach their goal. Their (and your) goal: Reduce your passive-voice linguistic junk by 80%.

You could practice this by using the word-find function in your word processor to highlight each offending word one at a time, but there’s also another solution if you’d like to get serious about putting your bloated business correspondence on a diet.

Gould and the study’s co-authors developed a proofreading program called Scribe Bene that works with Microsoft Windows to flag an entire list of junk words at once.

“That’s the reason Scribe Bene is more effective,” Leo Vijayasarathy, an associate professor of computer information systems at Colorado State University and one of the study’s co-authors. While it’s still an academic rather than a commercial project at this point, the program can be downloaded for free from Vijayasarathy’s faculty page (find it under “Selected Publications”).

It’s not a silver bullet, but it will show you writing mistakes you’ve probably been practicing since high school and guide you to writing shorter and sharper messages. “It takes longer to write a short communication than a long communication,” Gould says. “But your outcomes will improve as well.”

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