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Jeff Lerner On How We Need To Redefine Success

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Vulnerability — how open and honest do you get to be on a daily basis? Authenticity — how much do you get to be yourself on a daily basis? Balance — how well do you balance physical, personal, and professional development (the “3 Ps”) Joy — how much joy do you experience on a daily basis? Energy — how energized do you feel by what you do every day?


Have you ever noticed how often we equate success with more? Whether that’s more products, more profits, more activities or more accomplishments, we buy into the belief that we have to do more to have more to be more. And that will sum up to success. And then along comes The Great Resignation. Where employees are signaling that the “more” that’s being offered — even more pay, more perks, and more PTO — isn’t summing up to success for them. We visited with leaders who are redefining what success means now. Their answers might surprise you.

As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Jeff Lerner.

Prior to “The Great Resignation” there was perhaps no one person who inspired more soon-to-be entrepreneurs get control of their future and reshape their life than Jeff Lerner. From humble beginnings as a jazz pianist with half a million in debt to becoming a serial entrepreneur building multiple businesses to over 8 figures and landing multiples times in the Inc 5000, Lerner now leads ENTRE Institute, the fastest growing online education company in the world that is teaching more than 200,000 aspiring entrepreneurs how to start and build their own business.


Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today?

I’ll pick one that explains a lot about who I am today and, in particular, my crusade (axe-to-grind?) around disrupting education.

My sophomore year of high school I got accepted into a program called School Year Abroad (SYA) and was going to spend my junior year in Barcelona, Spain. I had spent hours filling out the application, writing essays and collecting teacher recommendations, and felt really good about being accepted. I had worked hard and believed the change-of-scenery would be good medicine after struggling with typical teenage issues — what you might call angst or even mild depression. Well, I never made it to Spain and in fact I never even finished my junior year thanks to a bizarre sequence of events that forever changed how I see the world.

Not long after being accepted to SYA I was transitioning between classes one morning. We had 10-minute breaks between classes and I had a math test coming up so was really trying to be on time, but also knew that teacher was pretty relaxed and if I was a minute or two late it’d be okay. Even though it was 26 years ago, I remember the events of that 10-minute break as if it happened yesterday because I ended up having to recount them dozens of times. The break went like this — I went by the Dean of Student’s office to ask him a question about a project I was doing, then I went to the restroom, then I bumped into my old 6th grade math teacher in the hall and chatted with her for a minute, and by the time I got to class I was at least 5 minutes late. The teacher wasn’t there though, he had handed out the test and left the room, trusting the students to self-police and not cheat, so seeing the stack of blank tests on the teacher’s desk I took one and sat down to take the test. Even with my late start I finished in plenty of time and upon turning in my test the teacher, who was back in the room now, asked me why I had been late. I told him “I had to stop by the Dean’s office during the break and got running behind.” All seemed well. Then the next day I got called into the Dean’s office during morning announcements. The Dean explained that the math teacher had come by his office the previous afternoon to confirm that I had in fact gone by his office before class and that that’s why I was late. The Dean was concerned that I had left his office with enough time to be on time to class so he wanted to know why I had actually been late and why I had blamed it on visiting his office. I explained that visiting his office had used up the first few minutes of the break which then made me late because I had to use the restroom, which took a few extra minutes and then I unexpectedly ran into my old teacher who struck up a conversation which I did my best to end quickly without being rude. When asked I had only reference my visit to his office and left out the full story because he didn’t seem that concerned plus I had been a bit shy with details because the majority of the break was actually me using the restroom. I certainly had nothing to hide about my trip to the restroom or a visit with my old teacher which was easy to substantiate, I had just given a flippant answer that left out some details. Well. what happened from there was straight out of a Franz Kafka novel. I was written up for an “honor code violation” for lying about my whereabouts, cheating (though it was never explained how being a few minutes late to a test gave me any sort of advantage or opportunity to cheat), submitted to a “trial” by a “jury” of my fellow students in a surreal proceeding where several faculty members (none of whom knew me and had never had me in a class) urged the students to “convict” me, which ultimately happened. I was suspended for 3 days and to top it off they notified the School Year Abroad program that I had been found guilty of breaking the school’s honor code, at which point my year abroad offer was revoked.

You can imagine how livid both my parents and I were but there was no un-ringing the bell, the door was closed. Fast forward to that summer and after having finished out the school year with a sour disposition (though still good grades) the school let my parents know in July that I was not invited to come back for my junior year. I was forced to transfer to a new school where I knew no one and halfway through my junior year, in total disgust with the educational system, I dropped out of high school altogether to become a musician.

Of my many takeaways from the whole experience the most impactful was seeing how easily my fellow students had been pressured into “convicting me” by teachers and school administrators even though there clearly was no “crime” or malicious intent. Although the “jurors” were prohibited from discussing the matter with me directly I heard from mutual friends that some of them had shared the ridiculousness of the proceedings and admitted they had “convicted” me to keep themselves out of disfavor with the administration and teachers. I haven’t told this story in a decade but as I’m telling it I can feel the indignation welling up inside me and I suspect a lot of my fervor for setting people free financially is about eradicating the moral compromises that happen when people depend on institutional authorities (schools, employers, banks & lenders, the government, etc.) for their survival.

We all have myths and misconceptions about success. What are some myths or misconceptions that you used to believe?

That it would have lots of build-up and then happen really fast — like a dam breaking. Instead, it’s more like getting in shape — always hard work and results come in the form of small incremental gains that seem to take longer than they should. Also, I have been surprised by how little success has had to do with specialized skills or technical ability. Of course it’s important to be “good” at whatever we do but that by itself doesn’t close deals or win jobs. The softer and more general skills were what I lacked for a long time — knowing how to listen, how to validate and encourage, how to set people at ease, how to spread contagious enthusiasm, etc. — those were the breakthrough skills for me.

How has your definition of success changed?

Success used to be about net worth. I thought once I was financially free and had (forgive the term but it sums it up pretty well) “FU money” that I would be successful. Now I measure success by 3 things in this order: how I feel physically, the time I get to spend with people close to me, and the impact my work has on the world.

The pandemic, in many ways, was a time of collective self-reflection. What changes do you believe we need to make as a society to access success post pandemic?

The pandemic shined a light on an issue that’s been burgeoning under the surface in society for a generation — our declining self-reliance. We are so dependent on others now for not only our incomes but our physical, emotional, and mental well-being that it’s weakened us as a society. When things got tough, who did we look to? In tough times past we looked to ourselves or those around us but nowadays we look to the government or the medical establishment. This is a chilling sign of where we’re headed — dependency always breeds hostility.

What do you see as the unexpected positives in the pandemic? We would love to hear a few of your stories or examples.

There has probably never been so much economic “creative destruction” in one year ever. Much that was outdated got upgraded. Businesses that drive progress got rewarded, and legacy businesses got deprecated faster than they would have otherwise. But this is good news. To fix the fundamental challenges our society is facing right now we have to get better at tolerating discomfort — our obsession with being comfortable is a root cause of much that ails us. As it is said: hard times create strong people, strong people create good times, good times create weak people, and weak people create hard times. During the pandemic we were forced to accept some discomfort and in general we’ll be better for it. We needed to toughen up a bit.

We’re all looking for answers about how to be successful now. Could you please share “5 Ways To Redefine Success Now?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

5 modern KPIs to measure success:

Vulnerability — how open and honest do you get to be on a daily basis?
Authenticity — how much do you get to be yourself on a daily basis?
Balance — how well do you balance physical, personal, and professional development (the “3 Ps”)
Joy — how much joy do you experience on a daily basis?
Energy — how energized do you feel by what you do every day?

How would our lives improve if we changed our definition of success?

Less than 10% of people self-report as “very happy”. This number would change dramatically because we would be living according to our design. We were endowed with higher faculties so we could dwell in them not numb them.

What’s the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of our redefined success? And what advice would you offer about overcoming those obstacles?

Fear that we aren’t enough. In the modern world it’s become unfashionable to believe that we as individuals are great and capable of great things. We are taught to lean on the collective and depend on the tribe (or school or employer or government or other institution). We could all be so happy and fulfilled if we just prioritized the things we actually care about instead of the things we were taught to care about by others who were as scared then as we are now.

Where do you go to look for information and information about how to redefine success?

I agree with Stephen Covey that after World War I society shifted toward a personality ethic of success rather than a character ethic of success. The game became all about the player rather than the values of the game itself. I like “old wisdom” — sources that are grounded in principles that have endured hundreds of years. Take a book like “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek. It’s great not just because it’s true but because it’s always been true. It doesn’t just tell us how to be it helps us understand who we are. Those are the sources I try to find.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she or they might just see this if we tag them.

Elon Musk. I don’t see him as a God or an icon like so many of his hero-worshippers, nor do I presume to know him at all based on what we see in the media. I only really know one thing about him for sure — he takes large risks that he mitigates by betting on himself — pretty much the opposite of what I see most in society doing. I’d like to ask his advice on how to help spread the ideas of self-reliance and asymmetrical risk to a population that is veering hard the other direction.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

@jefflernerofficial on all the major platforms

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.

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Is Crypto Safe? What You Need to Know

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Is Crypto Safe? What You Need to Know

What You Need to Know About Crypto Security

The cryptocurrency market is booming with more new coins and startups than ever, but they’re not all created equal. Cryptocurrency is a trailblazing technology that could overhaul the financial systems of the future. However, it’s wise to do your homework before actively trading or investing in cryptocurrencies with price volatility and privacy concerns.

What Is A Cryptocurrency?

Digital money that makes use of cryptography to safeguard transactions and regulate the generation of new units is called Cryptocurrency. It’s called a cryptocurrency because it relies on cryptography’s encrypted form of data. Cryptography also provides anonymity for users by obscuring their identity and, indeed, all aspects of their transactions.

Cryptocurrencies can be mined, traded or used to purchase goods and services. A person would have to rely on already established relationships with merchants or banks to make purchases in the past. 

How Safe Is Cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is more than an idea to create a digital form of currency at its core. Cybercriminals have learned that they can target these digital currencies because they are not regulated and not backed by any government. In theory, it’s tough to track down the source or the location of cryptocurrency transactions.

Cryptocurrencies are a prime target opening for cybercriminals since it’s difficult to trace transactions and identify the individuals involved.

How to Safeguard Your Cryptocurrencies

Cybersecurity in Cryptocurrency is a common issue and one that you should be aware of if considering an investment. Though the concerns are real, these problems can be mitigated mainly through a few simple security steps before trading or investing in Cryptocurrency.

Here are some basics steps to help secure your account from Cryptocurrency transactions:

Password Protection

Enable two-step authentication and password protect your computer when searching for cryptocurrency exchanges. This will prevent anyone from accessing your machines if they are stolen or hacked.

Use a Virtual Private Network

A virtual private network (VPN) is a computer network where you can hide your proper IP address. If a hacker were to try and break into your account, they would see an IP address from the VPN, so it would be impossible to gain access.

Backup Your Wallet

Backup information that includes public address and private keys. This will help you retrieve any lost currency or prevent others from transferring Cryptocurrency from your wallet.

Use Multiple Wallets

Using more than one Cryptocurrency wallet helps protect your investment from theft even if your account is compromised. If you have a cryptocurrency wallet on multiple devices and platforms, it’s easy to keep a backup of your information in case of an account breach.

What Are the Risks Associated with Cryptocurrency?

With all the blockchain talk about decentralization and anonymity, getting swept up in the hype is easy. Cryptocurrency has become a rapidly growing portion of the investing market, and many retail investors are looking to trade or invest in cryptocurrencies.

While the technology behind cryptocurrencies is impressive, risks are rushing, making trading and investing in Cryptocurrency risky for inexperienced traders. 

Phishing Scams

Phishing scams come in many forms, including emails and text messages. These scams can occur on an individual or a more general level, as most commonly happens. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) publishes information on detecting phishing scams. Still, it’s hard to tell the difference between a legitimate cryptocurrency exchange and an imposter because most large cryptocurrency exchanges do not have contact information listed for regulatory reasons.

Volatility

Cryptocurrency is a very volatile market that can swing wildly in either direction in almost no time at all. All cryptocurrencies are responsive to news, which can cause price changes within minutes or hours. There are also several different types of currencies, so you may have a hard time getting used to the volatility of each type. If you see only one digital currency (e.g., Bitcoin), it’s easy to assume stability when it’s still highly volatile.

Online Payments

While using crypto for online payments is a convenient method to pay for products and services, there are significant hazards involved with such transactions. When you pay for anything using bitcoin, you have no way of knowing the seller’s identity or having your payment details validated by a third party. You’re on your own if there’s an issue with the transaction.

With online purchases, you don’t have access to a complaint process, and there is no recourse if something goes wrong. This all results in anonymous transactions that pose risks online. As long as Cryptocurrency continues its rapid growth, this will be an iCryptocurrencyilers and sellers will need to solve.

Conclusion

Cryptocurrency is a highly sought-after currency for investors due to its untraceable nature and ability to exchange value without interference from a third party, such as a bank. However, this feature also makes it an appealing target for cybercriminals.

If you’re considering investing or trading in Cryptocurrency, educate yourself on the processes used to make transactions and invest your money safely and securely with reliable services that vet every transaction before letting it go through. Before diving in headfirst, make sure you research the different types of Cryptocurrency available and what risks are associated with each one. For more information on Cryptocurrency and its different types, visit our blog now!

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Food Is Medicine And What We Eat Is Important

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Your mental state is a critical component of your physical health. And when you’re under a lot of stress, you might not be eating the healthy food that provides nutrients for fighting anxiety and depression. So when we examine what we’ve been eating, most of us discover that the decisions we’ve been making in the name of simplicity, convenience, or saving time have been damaging to our total health – body, mind, and spirit.

A person’s diet is a direct reflection of their health. When a person does not eat the right foods, their body breaks down. This can lead to an overall decrease in quality of life and many other diseases linked to improper nutrition. In North America, our current diet mainly consists of an excess of grain, sugar, fried and fatty foods. As a result, disorders including hypertension, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s, and certain malignancies are becoming increasingly widespread.

The science of food has always been discussed; however, with recent technological innovations in food processing and agriculture, people have enjoyed more convenient foods that are less expensive than ever before. Unfortunately, with every convenience comes a trade-off. Smart foods are often packed with sugar, salt, and calories, leading to poor health in some individuals. 

To understand what a person is putting into their body, it’s essential to realize that the small molecules in food are responsible for allowing our bodies to function. These small molecules are called nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and enzymes. A nutrient is not a value unless absorbed by the body through a specific pathway. For example, if you absorb calcium without vitamin D, your body will not use that calcium. 

Eating a balanced diet keeps you healthy, but it helps reduce your stress. For example, eat foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants because they help augment your immune response and prevent toxins from damaging your cells. Vitamins A, C, and E serve as antioxidants that fight off free radicals in the body. Free radicals are toxic products of metabolism that cause damage to your cells. Experts claim that they are responsible for the aging process. Good sources of these vitamins are deeply-colored vegetables- green leafy, yellow, and orange vegetables, such as squash, broccoli, kale, spinach, and carrots.

Iron is one of the most abundant minerals in the body, and it mainly functions to deliver oxygen to your cells. Hence, an iron deficiency, medically termed Iron-deficiency anemia, is associated with weakness, easy fatigability, and pale skin. Tea, coffee, red wine, grapes, and berries are rich in antioxidants that function the same as your vitamins A, C, and E. 
You need a diet that’s healthy and balanced – and one that can fit comfortably into your busy lifestyle.

Here are some of the recommended dietary guidelines.

Eat a diet high in fresh vegetables, vitamins, and minerals. 

Exercise every other day to release endorphins, feel good, get the blood flowing, and reduce stress levels. 

Eat salt only when you need it, but not too much as your body does not need it. Many people with anxiety are hypothyroid or have low magnesium. When your body needs more sodium, it can indicate that you are not producing enough cortisol or are dehydrated. If you experience chronic anxiety, I recommend working with a physician to run tests on cortisol levels and then take salt supplements as needed. Use spices like turmeric, ginger, curry, and aromatic herbs like parsley, rosemary, sage, and basil.
Eat low-fat meals because they will cause a minor spike in blood sugar levels: think lean meats, eggs, vegetables, and nuts; avoid dairy if it makes you feel anxious. 

Drink lots of water — keep hydrated all day — ideally at least half a gallon if possible — your brain needs water to function optimally! 

Avoid foods that you know will make you feel bad, such as dairy, even with low-fat content. You can cut out dairy and not worry about it! 

Avoid sugar, caffeine, processed foods, alcohol, and any other substance that makes you feel bad or increases anxiety levels. Also, avoid coffee — drinking more than one cup a day can cause anxiety in some people. Coffee is also dehydrating and inhibits the absorption of minerals from food/water/supplements — try caffeinated water as a substitute for coffee if you like the caffeine kick. 

Find a natural health professional that you can talk to or work with to quickly get the results you want. 

Healthy foods and nutrition can help you stay fit, but they can also assist you in treating disease. When you nurture your body physically with these nutrient-dense foods, your mental capacities improve, as does your spiritual welfare. Moreover, because your spiritual health is at its best, it will radiate to the exterior world, causing others to notice you’re happier and more relaxed, and your stress levels have decreased dramatically.

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The Points of Light Civic Circle Offers Real Ways You Can Change the World 

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Sixty-six percent of Americans don’t believe they can make a big impact in the world. 

That figure is according to Points of Light’s research on civic engagement. But what if I told you there are actually many ways to drive change? 

Today’s political climate can feel divided or even stagnant, but the truth is, you really can make things better, starting with your own community, one act of kindness at a time. And those aren’t just words. I’m here to share real, practical ways for you to make a difference. 

The Points of Light Civic Circle helps people connect to opportunities and understand that doing good comes in many forms. It is a framework that represents your power to lead, lend support and take action for causes you care about and live your best civic life. 

The Civic Circle provides actionable examples of all the ways you can change your community to reflect the world you want to see around you. In fact, you’re probably doing some of these things already. Are you helping a neighbor by picking up groceries or chaperoning on your child’s class field trip? You’re volunteering. Did you vote in the last election or help others get to the polls so they could vote? Those acts of civic duty illustrate the “vote” element. When you buy a product, do you choose to support companies that reflect your values or advance a social cause? That’s called “purchase power.” There are nine elements of the Civic Circle, and countless ways to bring each one to life. 

This blog is the first in a five-part series that will help you find real and manageable ways to activate the Civic Circle through apps, documentaries, podcasts and books. 

We also offer other resources to help you connect with all the ways you can become empowered to be the change you want to see in the world. Check out our videos that provide an in-depth look at each element of the Civic Circle. And don’t miss Civic Life Today, our digital magazine series. Each issue takes a deep dive and provides materials, ideas and inspiration so that you can become civically engaged.  Get started today, and launch your own civic engagement journey with these tools. 

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