MONEY Workplace

How ‘Sweatworking’ Can Help Your Career

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The high-intensity way to bond with work contacts.

Forget stuffy conferences, cocktail parties and coffee dates.

When it comes to meeting and mingling with career contacts these days, be prepared to show up in your gym attire for a little “sweatworking”—the trendy practice of connecting with clients and coworkers over a workout.

To get the lowdown on why this concept is gaining momentum now, we called up career coach Jenn DeWall, MBA, who spent a decade working at Fortune 100 companies before launching her own business.

She takes us through the ins and outs of this new way to network—and explains why it could be your next great career move.

Why Now?

These days everyone is more mindful of optimizing their time, DeWall explains, and sweatworking helps professionals tackle two important to-dos at once—advancing their careers and keeping fit.

But the trend is more than just clever time management. It can also nurture more meaningful connections—something many crave in our overstimulated culture.

“At times, networking events can leave you feeling less connected because you’re feeling ‘sold’ to,” DeWall explains. “But physical activity creates a shared experience that helps build trust and likability early on in a relationship.”

How to Make It Work for You

While sweatworking is particularly suited for people in such client-facing roles as sales and public relations, DeWall insists that employees in any field can use fitness classes to create team bonds with colleagues, or form relationships with potential mentors.

Plus, if you’re the type who isn’t a fan of more formal networking, a group workout can be an ideal way to gain confidence.

“Sweatworking can alleviate the nervousness that networking newbies often have,” DeWall says. “You can use the activity as a start-up for conversation—reducing the stress and anxiety that come with meeting someone new.”

To get a session going, research what opportunities your company gym might have on tap. L.A. Fitness, for example, now offers free passes for corporate members to use with clients, as well as classes that cater to businesses.

If you’re a freelancer, DeWall recommends searching Eventbrite.com for organized meetups in your area. And look into local business organizations too. Levo League, for instance, coordinates many group sweatworking opportunities geared toward professional women.

Most important? Keep it low-key—and have a good time. After all, it’s about taking the stiffness out of networking.

“Sweatworking is the professional equivalent of an outdoor kickball or volleyball league,” DeWall says. “It’s about people coming together for a fun, challenging experience they can bond over.”

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MONEY Wages

Here’s One Statistic Explaining Why You Haven’t Gotten a Raise Lately

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A big chunk of workers are yearning for more hours, raise or no raise.

More than one-third of American workers would be willing to work longer hours without a raise, according to a new Federal Reserve report.

The report, which surveyed nearly 6,000 individuals about their financial well-being, found 36% of respondents would prefer to work more hours at their currently hourly wage. Another 58% of respondents said they are happy with the number of hours they currently work, while 5% wished they could work fewer hours.

While those who took the survey were not necessarily hourly workers, a Federal Reserve spokesperson said the question is a general proxy for whether employees would be willing to work longer for higher pay.

As Bloomberg notes, the Federal Reserve’s findings may help explain why inflation-adjusted wages have remained essentially flat, even as the economy has improved.

“When [Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen] says that the unemployment rate probably does not fully capture the extent of slack in the labor market, this is exactly what she’s talking about,” said Thomas Simons, a money-market economist at Jefferies LLC, in an email to Bloomberg. “Until workers perceive that there are more opportunities available that offer higher wages, they will be content to work for the same rate rather than take a risk for more.”

MONEY Sports

These 10 Women Athletes Are The Top Earners

Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates her victory over Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain in the Women's Singles Final on Day Eight of The Internazionali BNL d'Italia 2015 at the Foro Italico on May 17, 2015 in Rome, Italy.
Mike Hewitt—Getty Images Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates her victory over Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain in the Women's Singles Final on Day Eight of The Internazionali BNL d'Italia 2015 at the Foro Italico on May 17, 2015 in Rome, Italy.

Guess who raked in more than $24 million last year?

We often hear about astronomical salaries in men’s sports, but we hear little about the top female sports earners. The main reason is the greater popularity of men’s professional sports leagues and the corresponding TV and merchandising revenue. There is no women’s counterpart to the NFL or Major League Baseball. In sports where there are counterparts such as the WNBA in basketball, salaries lag far behind.

As a result, we find the majority of top female sports earners in the non-team sports of tennis, golf, and figure skating. In tennis, the prize money and sponsorship opportunities for women are nearly equal to that of men (and occasionally greater). Otherwise, equality is elusive — first place on the women’s list of sports earnings only earns 34th place in the overall sports earnings list.

Accordingly, the Forbes list of the top ten highest paid female athletes for 2014 (using values from June 2013 to June 2014) features seven tennis players, one golfer, and one figure skater. The other sport represented is auto racing.

  1. Maria Sharapova – The Russian-born tennis star (pictured above) does not earn the most on the court, but thanks to multiple endorsement deals, she was the top earner at $24.4 million. Sponsors include Nike, Porsche, Evian, Samsung, and Avon. She even created a line of gummy candies, appropriately named Sugarpova.
  2. Li Na – This up-and-coming tennis star from China hauled in $23.6 million, with $5.6 million in prize money and the rest through multiple endorsements in worldwide markets.
  3. Serena Williams – Propelled by $11 million in prize money, the younger of the Williams sisters earned $22 million in total income last year. Serena has earned the most in prize money over her career in women’s tennis, nearly twice that of second-place Sharapova.
  4. Kim Yuna – The top figure skater on the list, Korean star Yuna earned approximately $16.3 million on top of winning a silver medal in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
  5. Danica Patrick – Auto racing’s entry into the top ten, Patrick earned $15 million despite having no Sprint Cup wins and limited top-ten finishes. She is arguably as well known outside racing for her sponsorship with GoDaddy (although that sponsorship recently ended, as will her contract with Stewart-Haas Racing in 2016).
  6. Victoria Azarenka – Azarenka, the second ranked female tennis player in 2013, pulled in $11.1 million with $7.5 million in endorsements from Nike and Red Bull, among others.
  7. Caroline Wozniacki – The tennis star and up-and-coming men’s golf star Rory McIlroy ended their engagement last year, but it seemed to work out well for both. Wozniacki earned $10.8 million, propelled by $1.3 million in prize money and a lucrative deal with Adidas.
  8. Agnieszka Radwanska – The Polish-born tennis star earned $6.8 million, with $3.8 million in prize money and a sponsorship from the Cheesecake Factory.
  9. Ana Ivanovic – The “comeback kid” of sorts with respect to earnings, Ivanovic won three tennis tournaments in 2014 and earned $6.4 million total in 2014, buoyed by a lifetime contract with Adidas.
  10. Paula Creamer – Golf’s lone representative on the top ten list earned $5.5 million in 2014. The “Pink Panther” earned $1 million in prize money, with the rest in endorsements from the likes of Citizen Watches and Bridgestone Golf.

The future top-ten earners are likely to come from these same sports with one possible exception. Ronda Rousey, the best-known female fighter in the increasingly popular sport of mixed martial arts (MMA), may break into the fold before long. She’s already broken into the entertainment field, co-starring in Expendables 3. We’ll have to wait until the next Forbes list in August to see if Rousey makes the 2015 list. After all, who dares to tell her “no”?

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MONEY Workplace

How Should I Have Handled an Older Married Coworker Flirting With Me?

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Ask a Manager's Alison Green answers timely workplace and career questions

Q: An older married man at work started flirting with me, and when I refused to send him a selfie, things got awkward. What could I have done differently?

I am a woman in my mid-20s, who started at a company a few months ago and took a very junior position. A mid-40s married male colleague in a leadership role was very kind to me, and I felt he really facilitated my integration into the company. Soon we were talking frequently in the mornings before work at the company gym, and also during his breaks.

I enjoyed talking to him, but due to our difference in positions he had to initiate most of our conversations. He’d come by my desk a few times a day and chat with me for five minutes. He told me that he was unhappy with his job and hinted that he was unhappy in his marriage. Since I was new to the area, I was very lonely and talking to him was the highlight of my day.

One day after work, he told me that he wanted to take me to a place. We drove to a park, and he told me that we were talking too much at work, and people would suspect that we were having an affair. And he said that if I wanted to talk to him, we could arrange to meet in a park. He said we might lose our jobs.

He then went away on a business trip/ vacation and while he was gone, he started texting me. At first, it was innocent enough and regarded work stuff, but then he asked me for a selfie. Thinking it was a bad joke, I sent him a picture of a cat. But he continued to pressure me to send him a photo, and when I stopped responding, he said something to the effect of, “I see that you’re busy and I’ll stop bothering you now.”

After that, working in the same office with him was very uncomfortable. He has since moved onto another company, but he made me feel extremely uncomfortable and vulnerable. Was I overreacting? What should I have done?

A: An emotional affair is basically an affair without the physical component and would imply that you had feelings for this guy. It doesn’t sound to me like you did. Rather, it sounds like this dude was being incredibly inappropriate and skeevy toward you. (Which makes me think your friends are being weird in labeling this an emotional affair rather than something more one-sided.)

It’s not that an older married man can never have a friendship with a younger woman, but genuine friendship doesn’t come with attempts at secret assignations in the park and intrusive questions, and it doesn’t leave one of the parties feeling “extremely uncomfortable and vulnerable.”

This dude was at a minimum attempting to carry on a secret flirtation with you, and he was almost certainly interested in more. His conduct with you was pretty much a walking red flag:

  • Telling you that he was unhappy in his marriage: red flag
  • Asking you to send him a photo: red flag (Do your platonic friends nag you for selfies? Do your coworkers? That’s pretty much the province of people with non-platonic interest.)
  • Telling you that your relationship needed to be on the down-low: huge red flag
  • Saying you could lose your jobs: red flag (For what? Office friendships don’t generally jeopardize people’s jobs; he had something else in mind.)

And the biggest red flags of all: making you feel that any tension would be seen as your fault rather than his (which is a really convenient side effect when someone with more power hits on someone with less power), and making you feel trapped in a situation that you weren’t comfortable with.

So I’m pretty comfortable concluding that he was a skeevy dude taking advantage of a professional power dynamic that — intentionally or not — made it easier for him to get away with making you uncomfortable because you were hesitant to call him out.

I wouldn’t call that an emotional affair. I’d call it unwelcome and inappropriate conduct and possibly harassment.

You asked what you should have done. First, let me say that no one tells you how to handle this stuff, so you shouldn’t beat yourself up for anything you did or didn’t do. You tried to be friendly to someone who you thought was being genuinely friendly to you. You’re not responsible for him crossing lines with you or for not perfectly shutting it down when he did.

But in the future if someone’s behavior starts making you uncomfortable (which in this case sounds like it might have been the day of the trip to the park), ideally you’d be clear that you need the person to back off. How you do that is up to you and depends on what you’re comfortable with. Some people are most comfortable doing that by pulling way back on the social relationship and keeping the interactions strictly professional in order to give the other person a cue in a way that lets the other person save some face. (However, some people will respect that cue and some won’t.) Other people prefer to directly tell the person that they’re not interested and the behavior is unwelcome (which can range from “I’m really not interested in meeting you outside of work” to “I’m not comfortable with this conversation” to “please leave me alone”).

If the person doesn’t back off after you’ve directly told them that their behavior is unwelcome, at that point you have a potential harassment situation and you should talk to your manager or HR or someone in a position of authority in your company who you feel comfortable approaching. No healthy company would blame you for the situation if they heard about the fact that you’d asked him to stop and he hadn’t. That’s pretty much textbook harassment and most companies take it seriously.

I’d say that the best thing you can do here is to see this situation for what it was: not an emotional affair, not you being responsible for any potential tension, but an older married colleague getting you comfortable with him and then coming on to you in a way you found unwelcome. That reflects on him, not on you.

Q: What can I do about my coworker’s girlfriend constantly hanging out in his office?

My coworker’s girlfriend drops by for plausible reasons like lunch or for his birthday, but she stays too long. Today she stayed for 1.5 hours. They kept the door to his office open. At one point they were going over flashcards for her schoolwork. This was from 3:00-4:30.

I am not his direct supervisor, but I am above him in title and supervise others in the office. We work for admissions at a university and while accepted students are protected by law I don’t believe prospects are. Still, we discuss transcripts and items with personal info that a non-employee shouldn’t see.

Our supervisor is the type who avoids any kind of conflict and doesn’t address people-stuff head on. The culture is somewhat relaxed. I am wondering if it’s even worth mentioning.

A: Yeah, that’s ridiculous. Hanging around his office for an hour and a half? Doing flashcards for her schoolwork? It’s unprofessional and it doesn’t reflect well on his work ethic; that’s a lot of time for him not to be working. I’m more concerned about that than I am about her seeing students’ information, although that’s a concern too.

This is really for his manager to deal with, but if you have the kind of seniority where you could give him a pointed, concerned look as you pass his office, I’m grinch-like enough to do that.

These questions are adapted from ones that originally appeared on Ask a Manager. Some questions have been edited for length.

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MONEY Workplace

How to Recover from 8 Everyday Work Screwups

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Rule #1: don't despair.

Once a year, an organization I work with holds a daylong retreat to focus on strategic planning and big-picture goals. I marked the date on my calendar: November 10 at 9am. But that morning, I pulled up to the CEO’s house to find an empty driveway and dark windows. With a sinking feeling, I grabbed my phone and opened the reminder email for the meeting — that had taken place on November 9. I immediately called the CEO to apologize, and although she was very nice about it, I felt so unprofessional.

“The first thing to do when you make a mistake is to acknowledge it and apologize, then look at what went wrong so you can prevent it from happening again,” says Richie Frieman,Modern Manners Guy and author of Reply All…And Other Ways to Tank Your Career.

“After that, get over it. People often harp on their errors, which holds them back from success; remind yourself that one hiccup is not going to break your career” — especially if you follow these tips for bouncing back from these common on-the-job slipups.

You Missed a Meeting

We’re not gonna sugarcoat it: This is bad — but fixable. “Missing a meeting, even by accident, sends the unintended message: ‘You’re not important,’” says Jill Geisler, head of the leadership and management programs at The Poynter Institute and author ofWork Happy: What Great Bosses Know. “You owe every person you inconvenienced a sincere apology.”

Don’t make it about you, as in: “I’ve had a crazy week with so much work to do that I got mixed up.” Instead, emphasize that, one, you realize you put people out, and, two, you’ll take measures to make sure it won’t be a recurring issue. Try: “I am really sorry that I missed the meeting. I left you all hanging and set back the project because I forgot to write it on my calendar. I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

And by the way, if you’re the manager, it’s even more crucial to be on the ball. “Some bosses habitually miss their own appointments or arrive late,” says Geisler. “It frustrates employees, causes them to take meetings less seriously and gives you a reputation for disorganization and thoughtlessness.

Your Boss Found Out You’re Interviewing Elsewhere

Maybe a coworker clued her in or she overheard a telling phone conversation, but this pretty much guarantees workplace awkwardness. How to handle the situation depends on whether you’ve been deceptive during the process (like calling in sick in order to go to an interview or breaking a commitment to stay with the company for a certain amount of time, etc.) and whether you have a good relationship with your manager.

“If you haven’t been dishonest, then your conversation is more of an explanation than an abject apology,” says Geisler. “You might say, ‘I’m sorry you found out before I could tell you, but I wanted to see what options exist before I talked with you about my future.’ It could yield a surprisingly good outcome.”

On the other hand, if you’ve been less than forthright, “you owe your manager a genuine apology and a discussion about how to rebuild trust,” says Geisler. “Even if you end up accepting a job elsewhere, it’s never wise to burn a bridge.”

You Were Over-served at the Holiday Party

Your head is throbbing, your stomach is queasy and the last thing you want to do is face the music at the office. But no matter how tempted you are to spend the day in sweats watching TV, “Whatever you do, do not call in sick,” says Nicole Williams, career expert for LinkedIn. Fortify yourself with a large bottle of water, an egg sandwich, an Advil and suck it up.

If you were just a little tipsy, there’s no need to do major damage control. But if things got wild — dancing on tables, kissing the IT guy, spilling a drink on a colleague — schedule a meeting with your boss to apologize. “Face the issue head on, because the longer you avoid him, the more tense the situation will become,” says Williams. “Let him know this is not a reflection of who you are; you simply misjudged your alcohol intake.” (Or the effects it would have.) Assure him, or her, it will never happen again, and then hold up your end of the bargain by drinking minimally at office events going forward. As long as it’s not a repeat performance, people will eventually forget about it. Or at least stop talking about it.

Your Outfit Wasn’t Meeting-Appropriate

For a pitch meeting to a tech startup, you opted for a look that’s Silicon Valley cool — skinny jeans, Frye boots and a flowy top — but when you arrive, everyone else is in a suit. Yikes. “When your outfit is out of sync, you can come across as either aloof, like you didn’t care enough to dress up, or clueless — you don’t realize how out of place you are,” says Frieman. It’s important to acknowledge your misstep so people don’t get the wrong idea.

“Diffuse your fashion faux pas with a bit of humor,” suggests Williams. “Let them know the last time you met with a startup, the dress code consisted of shorts and flip-flops — on the CEO.” Then move past the blunder. “Chances are, whatever you put on is something you feel confident in — so own it,” adds Williams. “And next time, wow them in your best sheath dress and heels.”

Frieman also recommends stashing a spare blazer and scarf in your office or the trunk of your car in case you spill salad dressing on your top or want to spiff yourself up before a last-minute meeting with your boss.

You Took a “Sick Day” and Got Caught

Whether your friend scored Giants tickets or you wanted to get a head start on a romantic weekend getaway, it’s important to nip this slipup in the bud. “Two of the most important attributes an employer is looking for are loyalty and integrity,” says Williams. Since skipping out on work undermines both, you need to make reparations ASAP.

“Come clean to your boss before the office gossip train gets to her,” says Williams. “Tell her you feel terrible about the situation and offer to work over the weekend to make up the time lost.” Then commit to keeping your head down and pulling out your absolute best work over the next few weeks to prove how much you care about your performance and the company’s bottom line.

You Made a Serious Error That Could Require Lots of Time and Money to Fix

As soon as you realize you messed up, brainstorm a potential plan of action to deal with the crisis, then schedule a meeting with your boss. “Ask to see her somewhere unusual. Going to a one-off location subconsciously signals to her that this is a one-off conversation and therefore a one-off error,” explains Williams. So if you’d normally meet in her office, suggest getting a coffee down the street instead.

Once there, “explain everything, hide nothing and provide solutions,” says Williams. Mistakes happen; what your boss wants to hear at this point is that you’re taking responsibility and you’ve given thought to how to improve the blunder — you’re not simply expecting her to pick up the pieces.

You Accidentally Hit Reply All

So, you just fired off an email to your work BFF complaining about your annoying colleague — and then a second later, as the color drains from your face and your throat closes up, you realize you sent the snarky message to the entire office listserv. How can you recover? Apologize immediately, in person, and perhaps armed with an iced latte and cronut as a peace offering. “Not only does this show that you care about how she feels,” says Frieman, “But she’s also more likely to forgive you if she’s looking you in the face.”

In terms of what to say, focus on how terrible you feel to (hopefully) inspire a little sympathy. “Don’t downplay what happened or pretend you didn’t mean what you said,” says Frieman. “This is the time for groveling.” He suggests something along the lines of: “I am so sorry. I screwed up and I feel sick to my stomach about it. I wish there was something I could do to take it back.” Depending on how the conversation goes, you might offer to make it up to her by taking her out to lunch or helping her with an assignment. If she’s still angry, give her space. After a while, you can start rebuilding your relationship.

You Missed a Deadline

The main issue with not turning a project in on time: It inconveniences other people because they’ll have to scramble to finish their work under a crunch. “Give co-workers a heads up as soon as you realize you’re running behind so they won’t be needlessly waiting for you,” says Frieman. Explain why you’re late (chances are, they’ve been in your shoes in the past and will understand), tell them how much longer you need and then follow through no matter what — yes, even if it means cancelling dinner plans or pulling an all-nighter.

“Then, you have to play cleanup to help out everybody affected,” says Frieman. Ask if there are other assignments you can take off their plate while they’re tackling the project, or grab lunch for them so they can concentrate on the task at hand.

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MONEY Workplace

These 5 Myths Keep Women From Starting Small Businesses

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Never sabotage your own success.

Deborah Sweeney owns a small business that helps launch other small businesses. She’s noticed an interesting trend in the last five years: Her clientele has changed from 10% women to 25%.

It would be more, says Sweeney, whose MyCorporation.com helps entrepreneurs deal with paperwork and legal hurdles, except for what she says are misconceptions that keep women out of the small-business world.

Women playing a bigger role in small businesses is no longer big news, of course. In 2014, there were roughly 9 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., employing nearly 8 million workers and recording nearly $1.4 trillion in sales that year, according to data from the National Association of Women Business Owners.

But Sweeney thinks more women would give entrepreneurship a shot if not for these five major myths:

1. It’s impossible for a woman to succeed as an entrepreneur.

When she tells people that she runs her own small business, Sweeney says, they assume she’s talking about something, well, small. They don’t imagine her being at the helm of a company that posts nearly $9 million in annual revenue.

“Oh, are you doing that out of your garage?” is a common question she’s asked, she says.

Some people just assume that when you’re a female small-business owner, you’re “making beaded necklaces or making nursing products for children,” she tells NerdWallet.

In Sweeney’s case, the false assumptions can be comically sexist.

Her husband, Tor, is also a small-business owner, and she says it’s not unusual for people to ask “if we work together at my business.”

People “have this mindset that I would not run it alone,” she says, “that I am a business owner, in essence, because I married a man who is a business owner. It’s funny.”

Coincidentally, Tor Sweeney’s company is called Dresses.com. It’s a clothing manufacturer that makes prom dresses and wedding dresses.

And yes, she says, people often also ask if she owns that company, not MyCorporation.com.

2. Women just aren’t as entrepreneurial as men.

“Women have a difficult time conceptualizing for themselves what entrepreneurship is about,” Sweeney says.

That’s because they don’t have enough role models, she says. Sweeney has met young women who say they want to be entrepreneurs but eventually pivot to another career, working for a company.

Sweeney notes that many of the women coming to MyCorporation.com are venturing into entrepreneurship for the first time, whereas many of the men are serial entrepreneurs who have used her company’s services multiple times.

3. Women don’t achieve as much success as entrepreneurs as they do in the corporate world.

Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg sparked a national discussion in 2013 on how women can reach their goals in corporate America with the release of her best-selling book, “Lean In.”

“Many women who ‘lean in’ can be successful,” Sweeney says. “That’s what they want. I wanted more. I wanted not to have to hire a nanny to be with my kids. The way I could do that was to run my own business.”

Besides, she says, she simply was not happy in the corporate world. “You can be extremely successful, but I was going crazy,” she says. “You can forge your own path as an entrepreneurial woman,” and “compete on your own playing field.”

“I always say ‘reach up’ instead of ‘lean in,’” she says.

4. Running a small business is more time consuming than working in the corporate world.

Most people assume running your own business means working outrageously long hours. For female entrepreneurs, that has typically meant added pressure, given the traditional, if outdated, roles they’re often expected to play in the home.

But outrageous hours are another misconception, Sweeney says. She quit a corporate job six years ago to become an entrepreneur and says it “actually presents a fabulous opportunity” for achieving a better work-life balance.

For one thing, she stresses, “you’re not mandated by corporate America to work certain hours.”

5. Your children and family will suffer because of your small business.

Her work certainly keeps her busy, and she admits “you never stop thinking about your business when you’re a business owner.”

There are certain things she’s not able to do with and for her two sons. “We don’t do play dates in the afternoon,” she says.

But being a small-business owner has made her a more effective parent, she says.

“Some say, ‘I can never be an entrepreneur as a mom.’ And I say, ‘It has given me flexibility.’ You can find the right balance when you’re the master of your own destiny.”

Yes, her schedule can get hectic. “At 2 p.m., I run and pick my kids up and take them to work with me,” she says.

But that’s been good for her children, she says. When they’re with their friends, she says, “I hear them talk, ‘There’s my mom’s office and she has 30 employees.’”

“There’s something about engaging your family in your career,” Sweeney says. “They see an example of work ethic and believe in it.”

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MONEY consumer psychology

83 Questions Every Successful Person Asks

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"What am I really good at?"

One of the things that stood out from my Rich Habits Study was how important thinking was to self-made millionaires. I tracked 10 different types of thinking habits these millionaires engaged in frequently, if not daily. From my research, it was so evident that thinking was fundamental to their success that I decided it needed to become one of what I call the 10 Keystone Rich Habits.

When self-millionaires think, they do so in isolation, closed off from the world. Most engaged in their daily thinking habits in the morning, some during their commute in their car, others in the shower, and still others at night. Morning seemed to be the most dominant time frame, however. Typically, immediately upon waking, these self-made millionaires would find a quiet space and think for about 15 to 30 minutes.

What did they think about? Well, they thought about a lot of things and when they thought, they thought in a way that most would refer to as brainstorming. They spent time every day brainstorming with themselves about numerous things. I was able to boil down those brainstorming sessions into 10 core Rich Thinking Habit categories. Here they are, and the corresponding 83 questions the rich ask themselves.

1. Career

Some of the questions they asked themselves included:

  • What can I do to make more money?
  • How can I increase my value to my clients, customers or my employer?
  • What do I need to do in order to gain more expertise?
  • What additional skills do I need?
  • What things should I be reading more about?
  • Do I like what I do?
  • What do I love to do?
  • Can I make money doing what I love to do?
  • Should I change careers?
  • Should I work more – or fewer — hours?
  • Do I work hard enough?
  • Am I lazy?
  • What am I really good at?
  • What am I really bad at?
  • Does my job make me happy?

2. Finances

When it comes to their money, here are some of the questions they contemplated:

  • Do I spend too much money?
  • Am I saving enough money?
  • Will I have enough to retire on?
  • How much will I need to retire on?
  • Do I have enough set aside for college for my kids?
  • How much do I actually spend each month?
  • Should I create a budget?
  • Should I revise my budget?
  • Am I doing a good job investing our money?
  • Is my spouse doing a good job investing our money?
  • Am I paying too much in taxes?
  • Do I have enough life insurance?
  • Should I set up a trust for my kids?

3. Family

They also asked themselves:

  • Do I spend enough time with my family?
  • Can I work less and spend more time with my family?
  • Are we spoiling our kids?
  • Are we too hard on our kids?
  • Can I get away for a family vacation this year?
  • Are we doing enough to help our kids succeed?
  • How can I improve my relationship with my spouse, my kids?

4. Friends

Social life is also an important part of the equation, and among the things they considered:

  • Do I have as many friends as I should?
  • Do I spend enough time with the friends I have?
  • Why don’t I have many friends?
  • How can I make more friends?
  • Is my work interfering too much with my social life?
  • Do I call my friends enough?
  • How often should I stay in touch with my friends?
  • Who haven’t I spoken with in a while?
  • Do I have good friends?
  • How can I end my friendship with so-and-so?
  • Should I help my friends financially?

5. Business Relationships

Of course, business is also a prominent concern, and they continued to ask themselves the following:

  • What can I do to improve my business relationships?
  • Am I staying in touch enough with my key customers, clients?
  • How can I develop a business relationship with so-and-so?
  • Which business relationships should I spend more time on and which ones should I pull away from?
  • Do my customers/clients like me?
  • Do they think I do a good job?

6. Health

They also focused on health issues, asking:

  • Am I exercising enough?
  • Should I lose more weight?
  • Do I eat too much?
  • Am I eating healthfully?
  • Should I get a physical?
  • Should I take vitamins/supplements?
  • Should I schedule a colonoscopy?
  • Are my arteries clogged?
  • Do I get enough sleep?
  • Do I drink too much?
  • What can I do to stop smoking?
  • How can I cut back on junk food and eat more vegetables?

7. Dream-Setting & Goal-Setting

Most of the brainstorming involved their personal, financial, family and career dreams and goals, including dreams of retiring on a beach, buying a boat, expanding their business, buying vacation homes, etc.

  • What are my dreams and goals for the future?
  • What do I need to do to get there?

8. Problems

Here they brainstormed primarily about finding solutions to those problems that were causing them the most stress at the moment. Most were immediate problems related to their jobs and family. Some were longer-term and related to preempting future potential problems they were anticipating down the road most often related to their careers.

9. Charity

They also try to make sure they’re giving back to their community, so they asked themselves:

  • What other charities can I get involved in?
  • Am I doing enough for my church, business group, synagogue, etc.?
  • How can I best help my community?
  • What can I do to help my grammar school, high school, college, etc.?
  • Should I start a scholarship?
  • Should I contribute more money to my school or church?
  • Who can I help?

10. Happiness

Finally… the ever-important happiness factor. They checked in with these questions:

  • Am I happy?
  • What is causing me to be unhappy?
  • How can I eliminate those things that are making me unhappy?
  • Is my spouse happy?
  • Are my kids happy?
  • Are my employees or staff happy?
  • How can I make myself happier?
  • What is happiness?
  • Will I ever be happy?
  • What’s making me so happy?

That’s a lot of thinking, I know. There are a lot of days in the year, however, to brainstorm with yourself. You just need to make it a daily habit. Eventually, over time you will come up with solutions to your most pressing problems. You will gain insight into what makes you tick. Planned daily thinking will help you find some meaning to your life.

Making a daily habit of thinking is what self-made millionaires do. It’s an important piece of the success puzzle. Understanding why they do it is less important than understanding that they do do it. Every day.

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5 Times Never to Confront a Coworker

fist on desk
Viorika Prikhodko—Getty Images

Sometimes it just doesn't pay.

Even though many of us work in a so-called “professional environment,” conflicts in the workplace are inevitable. You’re with these people 40 hours a week (sometimes longer), and it’s only a matter of time before a coworker rubs you the wrong way.

Back-stabbing, a bad attitude, or a rude glance (fierce side-eye is all it takes to ruin a day) might encourage you to give a colleague a piece of your mind. But while there’s no shame in sticking up for yourself and putting an office bully in his place, there are times when it’s better to let things go. Here are five situations when you should avoid confronting a coworker (so you can also avoid confronting the unemployment line).

1. You’re an Emotional Wreck

Confronting your coworker about an ongoing problem and discussing the issue like mature adults might squash some of the tension, but you shouldn’t confront this person while you’re still emotional or upset about the situation. You might lose your cool while explaining yourself, which can put your coworker on the defense. And when emotions run high, it becomes difficult to understand another person’s point-of-view or recognize how your actions played a role in an argument.

Give yourself time to calm down — whether it’s a few hours or a few days — and confront your coworker when you’re in a better state of mind. Besides, once you’re able to look at the situation with a clear head, you might realize the entire issue was silly or a simple misunderstanding.

2. You Know It’s Just a Bad Day

Everyone is entitled to a bad day. If your coworker is normally easygoing and great to work with but on this particular day he’s on edge and getting on everybody’s last nerve, chalk it up to a bad day and don’t take it personally.

Unless we ask, we really don’t know what our coworkers go through. We all respond to problems differently and some people don’t know the right ways to deal with their emotions when under stress. Maybe your coworker had a bad performance review and fears his job might be in jeopardy. Or maybe he’s going through personal problems, such as a divorce or separation, money or health problems.

Dealing with life and stress doesn’t give anyone license to take their anxiety out on others. But if your coworker is usually in a better mood and this behavior is out of character, give him a break and let minor incidents roll off your shoulder. You might be in their shoes one day and need someone to give you the benefit of the doubt.

3. You Know the Person’s Trying to Get a Rise Out of You

As I think back to different jobs I had before pursuing self-employment, there was always one person in every office who liked to get a rise out of people. Whether they were making snide comments underneath their breath or making a big deal out of small issues, they got a kick out of being irritating and getting others fired up.

It’s hard to walk away and ignore these attacks, but it might be the best method for dealing with this type of coworker. You might be able to confront other types of people and get them off your back. But if you’re dealing with someone who’s looking for a reaction or fight, exchanging words or a confrontation only adds fuel to their fire. You have to be the bigger person and not respond. Don’t play their games, and eventually they’ll get bored and move on.

4. You’re Having a Good Day

Don’t give others power over your emotions. If you’re having a good day, one annoying comment by a coworker can jack up your entire mood — if you let it. You can’t control what comes out of another person’s mouth, but you can control your response. Confronting a coworker might resolve the issue, but it can also turn molehills into mountains. Learn how to pick your battles.

5. It’s Not Your Place

If you observe rudeness or unfair treatment around the office, you might feel it’s necessary to speak up for those who won’t. But think twice before confronting a coworker about a situation that has nothing to do with you. Although you’re trying to help, getting involved might do more harm than good. Bring serious issues to your supervisor’s attention and let them broach the matter.

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MONEY Workplace

Great Career Advice from 2015 College Commencement Speeches

A host of incredibly wealthy and successful commencement speakers told the class of 2015 to follow their passion and not worry about getting rich.

Graduation season is in full swing, and with it come the parades of 20-somethings in flowing gowns, doting families snapping photos, and, of course, star-studded commencement speeches.

Some of the past weeks’ remarks were emotional, others were comical, and a few were just plain terrible (sorry, Duke grads). But many were filled with inspiring life and career lessons from leaders across industries. Here’s a look at a few of the most insightful.

 

  • Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc.

    Apple CEO Tim Cook
    Alex Brandon—AP

    George Washington University

    “You don’t have to choose between doing good and doing well … Work takes on new meaning when you feel you are pointed in the right direction. Otherwise it’s just a job, and life is too short for that.”

    Cook also offered some wisdom from his former boss, the late Steve Jobs: “I always figured that work was work. Steve didn’t see it that way … He was an idealist … He convinced me that if we worked hard and made great products, we, too, could help change the world.”

    “Your challenge is to find work that pays the rent, puts food on the table, and lets you do what is right and good and just,” Cook advised.

  • Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist

    150521_EM_CommencementAdvice_Tyson
    Don Treeger—The Republican via AP

    University of Massachusetts Amherst

    “Your grades, whatever is your GPA, rapidly becomes irrelevant in your life… I cannot begin to impress upon you how irrelevant it becomes. Because in life, they aren’t going to ask you your GPA.”

    “I think on some level, role models are overrated … Growing up in the Bronx, had I required, as a prerequisite, that another black man from the Bronx had become an astrophysicist for me to become one, I’d still be in the Bronx.”

  • Former President George W. Bush

    150521_EM_CommencementAdvice_Bush
    Clayton T. Smith—Southern Methodist University

    Southern Methodist University

    “Those of you who are graduating this afternoon with high honors, awards and distinctions, I say well done … And, as I like to tell the C-students, you too can be president.”

  • Mary Karr, Poet

    150521_EM_CommencementAdvice_Karr2
    Stephen Sartori—Syracuse University

    Syracuse University

    “If you can get curious about what scares or infuriates you, especially if it’s part of yourself, you can get way less scared.”

  • Colin Powell, Former Secretary of State

    150521_EM_CommencementAdvice_Powell
    LaVergne

    Rice University

    “Leadership is all about followership. Leaders put followers in the best possible environment to accomplish a unit mission or an organizational mission. It works in the Army; it works in the university; it works in any endeavor in the world where humans come together to achieve a purpose.”

  • First Lady Michelle Obama

    Michelle Obama150521_EM_CommencementAdvice_Obama
    Brynn Anderson—AP

    Tuskegee University

    “Throughout this journey I have learned to block everything out and focus on my truth. I had to answer some basic questions for myself: Who am I? No, really, who am I? What do I care about?”

  • Tom Brokaw, Journalist

    150521_EM_CommencementAdvice_Brokaw
    Laura Greene—AP

    High Point University

    “Don’t be afraid to be disruptive; find new ways to do the conventional and the useful; and don’t run from big and bold challenges.”

  • Mellody Hobson, Chair, DreamWorks Animation

    150521_EM_CommencementAdvice_Hobson
    Gus Ruelas—Unversity of Southern California

    University of Southern California

    “A lot of graduation speeches will encourage you to be passionate about something. I’m here to encourage you to be passionate about someone … For me, it was career. Business. Those were my priorities. It took me a long time to be as brave in my personal life as I was in my professional life.”

  • Condoleezza Rice, Former Secretary of State

    150521_EM_CommencementAdvice_Rice
    Stephen Salpukas—College of William & Mary

    College of William and Mary

    “You’re headed into a world where optimists are too often told to keep their ideals to themselves. Don’t do it. Believe in the possibility of human progress and act to advance it.”

    “Your passion may be hard to spot, so keep an open mind and keep searching,” Rice said. “And when you find your passion, it is yours, not what someone else thinks it should be. Don’t let anyone else define your passion for you because of your gender or the color of your skin.”

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