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Which Will Make You Stronger: Success or failure?

Which breeds stronger, more resilient entrepreneurs?

Jason Ankeny

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Champions aren’t born, they’re made – or so the saying goes. But each champion is made in a different way, and there is no blueprint for business success: Some entrepreneurs burst out of the gate and never look back; others stumble badly, learn from their mistakes and make the most out of their second chances.

Formative success breeds sustained success, contends Ian Robertson, a professor of psychology at Trinity College Dublin and founding director of the school’s Institute of Neuroscience.

Related: 5 Tricks To Remember Anybody’s Name

In his book The Winner Effect: The Neuroscience of Success and Failure, Robertson explores the science behind how success impacts brain chemistry and makes humans and other creatures smarter, more self-possessed and more aggressive, setting the stage for even greater accomplishments to follow.

On the other hand, eventual success can be forged from the crucible of failure, argues Cass Phillipps, the founder and global producer behind FailCon.

Inaugurated in 2009 in San Francisco, FailCon is a series of conferences spotlighting entrepreneurial failures and how those negative experiences can shape wiser, more thoughtful business leaders, giving them the critical insights and assets necessary to build start-ups that thrive.

Entrepreneur pitted Robertson and Phillipps against each other to identify whether success or failure is the optimal launching pad for subsequent achievement.

Success leads  to Success:

“If you fake the external trappings of power and success, you can trick your brain into believing you are successful, and you will trigger the dopamine and testosterone that make you feel more confident.

If you go out there, shoulders squared and arms swinging, saying, ‘I’m an entrepreneur — I’m going to make it,’ you’ll make it easier to have your next creative idea or see yourself through the next setback. The most successful people are great engineers of their own brains.”

Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson is an unlikely model for entrepreneurial success, but his comeback from prison exemplifies ‘the winner effect.’

When Tyson returned to the ring in 1995 after a three-year incarceration, larger-than-life promoter Don King set up a comeback bout against journeyman Peter McNeeley, a so-called ‘tomato can’ the rusty, out-of-shape Iron Mike could beat with the proverbial hand tied behind his back.

The fight lasted just 89 seconds before McNeeley’s corner conceded defeat. From there, Tyson demolished challengers Buster Mathis Jr and Frank Bruno, quickly regaining his heavyweight belt.

How the winner effect works

The winner’s corner

Professor and author Ian Robertson believes success creates more success by impacting brain chemistry.

“The winner effect is a phenomenon that occurs across species, whereby if someone wins a contest against a weaker opponent, they’re more likely to win a subsequent contest against a tougher opponent,” Robertson explains.

“Tyson wouldn’t have reclaimed the championship if he hadn’t fought the tomato cans. When you’re faced with a challenge against someone, your testosterone levels go up. The higher they go up, the more likely you are to win. If you win, your testosterone levels shoot up as well.

“The experience of winning increases the number of receiving stations for testosterone in the critical parts of the brain associated with aggression and motivation. The next time they’re in a contest, the surge of testosterone has a much bigger effect on them, because there are more receiving stations in the brain.”

Success breeds success across all walks of life, Robertson states, noting that entrepreneurs who hit pay dirt early on are likely to experience even greater professional triumphs as their careers unfold. “The main ingredient of success is having success,” Robertson states.

This is seen in sociologist Robert Merton’s theory of the Matthew effect, contending that ‘the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.’

The other critical element of success is self-confidence, Robertson believes. “Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg knew he was very bright. He didn’t need other people’s approval. He got satisfaction from being smart,” he says.

“You can generate success experiences for yourself purely internally, and generate the biological benefits of that in your brain. Success and power can make you smarter, because testosterone increases dopamine, which affects the front part of the brain’s functioning. Success can make you smarter, and more able to think of new ideas.”

Failure Breeds Better Things

The merits of failure corner

Cass Phillipps is a proponent that failure and its associated negative experience can be turned into learning experiences that make you more successful.

Cass Phillipps’ start-up was tanking. Just six months after she and her partners launched social media aggregator Trogger, it was clear the company was irrevocably doomed.

“We made all the mistakes that every first-time entrepreneur tends to make,” she recalls. “But I was still telling everybody that my start-up was awesome.”

In the absence of a forum where she could openly discuss Trogger’s demise, Phillipps created FailCon in 2009. Each FailCon event in the US and abroad brings together technology entrepreneurs, software developers, product designers and investors to explore start-up setbacks and how the lessons learnt prime them for future success.

“Failure teaches self-confidence and tenacity. There are people who fail and take it very, very personally, and that makes it hard to recover from it. They are at risk of forever being fearful of taking new risks. That’s what FailCon is trying to change. We tell people, failure’s actually really great.’”

How the failure effect works

Start-up failure is essentially an MBA from the school of hard knocks, Phillipps believes. “People that use failure to become more successful are people that see their failure as a learning experience and recognise, ‘Hey, I got through that, and that was the worst of the worst. Why not start again?’

But failure isn’t just about building emotional resilience; it’s also about teaching practical lessons. Phillipps says that while many entrepreneurs attempt to build sexy, customer-facing start-ups during their first go-round, their rebound efforts are typically far less flashy and much more no-nonsense, targeting verticals like financial analysis or elderly care.

“They’re not worried about impressing their friends,” she notes. “They’re worried about building a good product.”

Failure is about gaining much-needed perspective. “The people who bounce back make sure they’re home for dinner every night with their wife or husband. They look after themselves. They make time each year to travel. For a lot of first-time founders, their company is everything to them, and it’s how they define their success. The people who bounce back are able to realise, ‘I can be a great entrepreneur. I can find balance.’”

The benefits of failure

So don’t think of it as failure, Phillipps says. Think of it as the foundation of something far bigger and better.

“Having something fail teaches you to question the decisions you’re making, be more open to alternative options and be more aware of what consequences you might have, so that down the road, you won’t have those consequences again.

“Failure — emotionally and philosophically — gives successful entrepreneurs a drive and sense of self-confidence that they otherwise wouldn’t have. Sh*t can really hit the fan, and they will be able to get through it, because they’ve done it before.”

Related: The Three Rs for Avoiding Start-up Failure

Chicago-based writer Jason Ankeny is the executive editor of Fiercemobile content, a daily electronic newsletter dedicated to mobile media, applications and marketing.

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Self Development

Why Your Professional Persona Matters

You don’t have to become a different person to succeed in business.

Timothy Sykes

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For superheroes, getting into professional mode is as easy as slapping on some spandex, a mask and a cape. For the everyday entrepreneur, however, the proper work mindset is less about attire and more about adopting a professional persona.

Your professional persona is your personal branding in the workplace. It refers to the way that you conduct yourself publicly in a business setting, and the image you project to coworkers and colleagues. Far from contrived or inauthentic, it’s simply the polished-up way that you present yourself professionally.

How do I develop a professional persona?

It’s actually extremely easy to develop a professional persona. All you have to decide is who you want to be in the workplace, and then take efforts with your attitude, dress, and conduct to become that version of yourself. Action follows intention, and over time, you’ll find that adopting your professional persona feels as natural as putting on your coat before leaving the house.

Now that you understand what a professional persona is, let’s talk about why you should work on cultivating one and what you stand to gain.

Create a self fulfilling prophecy

Success is typically hard-earned and slow in the making. However, if you take the time to develop a professional persona, it can help bring success sooner. If you conduct yourself casually and informally in the workplace, you’re less likely to be taken seriously and might spend far longer in the career trenches.

But if you make a concerted effort to conduct yourself with the professionalism of a manager or CEO, you’ll make yourself a more desirable candidate for advancement. Since you’ve already demonstrated the appropriate attitude for higher level positions, you’re more likely to be thought of when opportunities arise.

Related: 25 Bad Words That Make Other People Feel Inferior

Focus on what’s important

When you establish a professional persona, you put yourself in the right state of mind for work. This can help you attain your career goals.

Say, for instance, that one of your big career goals is to become a leading authority in your field so that you can become the next TED Talk celebrity. With this specific goal in mind, you can tailor your professional persona so that it can help advance you toward this goal. For instance, you might begin speaking at local networking events or starting a topical podcast. Doing things like this will help you establish a professional persona of being an expert in your niche.

Make yourself indispensable

One of the best ways to create job security is to make yourself indispensable in your position. A professional persona can help by letting you establish recognisable and dependable hallmarks in your working style.

For instance, perhaps part of your persona is that you are the person who always meets his or her deadlines on time. In time, this will become part of your professional identity and will be part of how people see you in your office or field. When others know and trust that they can depend on you, you’ll make yourself indispensable. Over time, this can have a powerful and positive effect on your career.

Be taken more seriously

A casual attitude is fine when you’re hanging out with friends. But in a professional setting, it may be holding you back. When you present yourself with a more polished professional persona in work settings, you’ll be taken more seriously. This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun at work, of course. But it does mean that you should conduct yourself with an air of professionalism and should never engage in bad habits like gossip or use language that might come back to haunt you later.

Remember: You get what you give. When you act respectfully in the workplace, you’re more likely to be treated with the same respect.

You’ll get more followers

More and more, entrepreneurs are using social media to attain a higher professional status or to attract more business.

When you take the time to develop a professional persona, you adopt a personal style, a way of articulating, and potentially even an aesthetic. These things add up to more clear and compelling personal/professional branding. This can help you maintain a consistency on social media platforms that makes your posts recognisable. Over time, this can lead to additional followers, which can mean more opportunities for selling, career advancement, and more.

Develop a thicker skin

You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t take things personally in the professional sphere. But anyone who has ever experienced rejection or criticism in their career knows that this is much easier said than done.

Your professional persona can help give you some personal armour. When you have a professional persona, it can be easier to separate your personal life from your work to a greater degree. No, this doesn’t mean that you won’t feel any pain when things go wrong, but it will allow you to compartmentalise in a positive way, so that an issue at work doesn’t impact your personal life quite as much.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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6 Steps To Cultivate A Success Mindset

What does a winning mindset mean to you? It’s what has separated the likes of Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Usain Bolt and Floyd Mayweather from fellow professional athletes. Adopting a similar approach could help you achieve massive success in 2019 and beyond.

ACCA

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A winning mindset is the trait that allows you to persist even when defeat looks like the most probable outcome. People with a winning mindset are much clearer about the process to attain their goals. They are not afraid of failure as long as they believe that they’re doing the right thing. That’s the difference between winners and losers.

1. Persist and understand that you must put in the work before you see results

The most successful people embody the principle of a winning mindset, because very few people in the world, be it in sports or business, can succeed without having to overcome obstacles. It’s seldom that talent is all one needs to succeed in any endeavour, otherwise most people would be successful.

A good way to understand this principle is to observe professional athletes before and during tournaments. Anybody competing in professional sports, such as the Olympics, has the talent but not all professional athletes are winners. A number of their memorable victories were achieved when they came from behind, when it looked like they were losing.

2. Press the reset button for the new year

The new year is notorious for long lists of resolutions that are not honoured and ultimately remain wishes. That said, the dawn of a new year tends to bring with it positive energy and a commitment to do things differently.

Entrepreneurs need to approach the New Year with a simple goal to do better than the prior year in whatever endeavour they are undertaking. It is important to build on current success or failure, and then commit to go one up. That way, the goal won’t seem unattainable.

Related: Many SMEs Start With Great Plans But Fail To Take The Big Leap

3. Take small incremental steps

The first step is to be clear about the goal and to write it down where you can see it every day. The second thing is to map the process of how you will get there, broken into small steps. From there onwards, focus on the process and not the goal as this allows one to achieve small but important victories. This needs to be backed up by an appropriate support system, associating with like-minded people.

4. Don’t stop upskilling yourself

Success in business is about creating shared value and solving real-world challenges that customers grapple with. Skills are therefore necessary to achieve success, so upskilling oneself is never a bad investment. It’s good to know something about everything, but ultimately one needs to know everything about something.

Some skills will be brought in through hiring staff, others through outsourcing and in some cases through strategic alliances.

5. Remember that no goal is static

One of the most important things to always remember is the goal, and that the goal is dynamic; it will have to be adjusted along the way. Business leaders can therefore celebrate the small victories fully aware that there is more work to be done. Achieving temporary success is easy, especially with all the tenders around, but building a sustainable business and staying on top requires persistence and hard work.

Related: Organisational Design Disruptions Do Not Occur In A Vacuum: Future Business Models

6. Your top tool is in your head

It’s all in the mind, backed by passion and a strong desire to succeed. If anything, business leaders need to train themselves to be uncomfortable with the status quo, not to get too comfortable with the present.


Why Not Consider The Acca Qualification For 2019?

ACCA professionals are more than accountants. They think holistically, consider challenges in the context of business and have strong strategic and leadership skills. Visit www.accaglobal.com for more information.

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Self Development

Taking Care Of Mental Health Is Powerful, Not Weak

Charlamagne Tha God talks success, anxiety and mental health.

Lewis Howes

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It’s time to open up. No matter what you’re dealing with, you’re not alone.

There is nothing shameful about having anxiety. Think about this acronym for FEAR – you either Fear Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise. The more you confront the things in your past you don’t want to do with, the more you’ll be able to move forward. So, are you going to run from your fear, or face it?

On today’s episode of The School of Greatness, I talk about anxiety and PTSD with a man who has become an unofficial mental health advocate: Charlamagne Tha God.

New York Times bestselling author Charlamagne Tha God is best known for being co-host of the nationally syndicated hip-hop iHeartRadio program “The Breakfast Club.” He is also a social media influencer; an executive producer with his own production company, CThaGod World; and co-host of the popular podcast Brilliant Idiots.

Charlamagne says that refining his life’s mission and examining his past helped him take control of his anxiety.

Don’t allow anxiety or depression to cause you to keep suffering. Learn about Charlamagne Tha God’s mental health struggles and what he did to restart his life on Episode 721.

Related: The Business Of Anxiety In Business: Giving Heroes Permission To Feel Vulnerable

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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