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Here Are 10 Inspirational Biographies That Can Steer You Towards The Right Path

Here Are 10 Inspirational Biographies That Can Steer You Towards The Right Path
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Everyone out there has had days when they lose all self confidence and feel like they are going nowhere. All your ideas start sounding stupid and you don’t know why you’re still trying in the first place. This is where these inspirational biographies come into play. People who have held on to their ideas and passions and executed them regardless of how difficult it was to keep going and hopefully by reading some of these, you will know exactly where your passions lie and figure out just what you need to keep doing to make them happen.

1. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

    The extraordinary and inspiring account of both the professional and personal life of Steve Jobs. Based on three years of exclusive interviews conducted by Isaacson with both Jobs and his family, colleagues and competitors. A great insight into Jobs’s life and thoughts making it a very motivational and inspirational read, one of the best inspirational biographies out there.

    “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

    2. Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way by Richard Branson

      Richard Branson followed a very interesting ideology that gained him, in slightly more than twenty-five years, successful ventures all around the place from Virgin Atlantic Airways to Virgin Megastores and nearly a hundred other myriad ventures. Reading this tale of someone doing business his way will surely encourage all you closet-entrepreneurs to just “screw it, let’s do it” in the words of Branson himself.

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      “I can honestly say that I have never gone into any business purely to make money. If that is the sole motive then I believe you are better off not doing it. A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.”

      3. Shark Tales: How I Turned $1000 into a Billion Dollar Business by Barbara Corcoran

        Many of these books happen to be about business successes but that is the key to pushing ourselves to implementing all the ideas we have in mind. This book is Corcoran’s best advice for anybody starting a business but it’s also beyond that because despite failing at 22 jobs by the time she was 23, she borrowed a 1000 bucks form her boyfriend and started a tiny real estate office in NYC. This developed into a $6 billion dollar business. Now that is enough to keep me persistent!

        “Taking chances almost always makes for happy endings.”

        4. Idea Man: A Memoir by the Co-Founder of Microsoft by Paul Allen

          Paul Allen was a world-famous billionaire by his early 30s and Time has named him one of the hundred most influential people in the world as the cofounder of Microsoft. Rushed into sharing his story by a diagnosis of lymphoma, this memoir was created filled with his passion, rigor, thoughts and most importantly his endeavors; both the triumphs and the failures. This will emphasize the importance of ideas in all of our minds and we could all use a little of that.

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          “For the most part, the best opportunities now lie where your competitors have yet to establish themselves, not where they’re already entrenched.”

          5. One Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Amazon.com y Richard L. Brandt

            Richard Brandt has brought us the intel behind the creator of the world’s most popular online shopping site, Amazon.com. With its super easy and convenient layout, Amazon has helped Bezos rise from computer whiz to a world-changing entrepreneur. Through interviews with employees, competitors and observers, we get an insight into how Bezos thinks enabling us to sharpen up our decision making skills and maybe, finding something that gives us a higher meaning to our lives.

            “… working at Amazon was not just a job – it was part of a visionary quest, something to give higher meaning to their lives.”

            6. Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer

              This one is now sitting on my “Want To Read” shelf on Goodreads because it is a slightly different kind of biography than the ones prior. This literary adventure teaches you to live deliberately without fear or compromise because only when you know what you want and stand for it will you be able to succeed. The book proposes many other conflicts and thought processes but Chris’s desire to live on his own terms and his pursuing of that is the inspirational essence.

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              “Make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future.”

              7. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

                This one is a classic, discovered in the attic in which Anne Frank spent the last years of her life during the war and the holocaust. Anne has a remarkable voice that in itself makes you feel guilty for letting some of your hardships – that now might now seem as hard – get in the way of what it is you want to do. Perhaps this might not be lighthearted but it is most definitely positive because that is what Frank intended it to be. She broke the Maslow’s hierarchy theory because she didn’t need a sense of security to write and express herself and reach self-actualization, she just did, and in her strength we can all find ours.

                “Although I’m only fourteen, I know quite well what I want, I know who is right and who is wrong. I have my opinions, my own ideas and principles, and although it may sound pretty mad from an adolescent, I feel more of a person than a child, I feel quite indepedant of anyone.”

                8. Front Row: Anna Wintour – What Lies Beneath the Chic Exterior of Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief by Jerry Oppenheimer

                  The list would be incomplete without the chic and that is embodied in Vogue’s Queen Bee: Anna Wintour. Behind her trademark sunglasses and bob she essentially controls the fashion world, what’s in and what’s out, and every month millions of women and men are influenced by the pages of the wish-book that she has earned fighting her way to the most prestigious position in fashion journalism. Wintour’s belief in her opinions and voice makes you want to wear whatever you want and even carry through that attitude, ambition and drive into the rest of your endeavours.

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                  9. Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie

                    The title in itself is the lesson. Mycoskie tells the story of TOMS, one of the fastest-growing shoe companies in the world, and includes the innovative lessons he has learned from other organisations such as charity: water, TerraCycle and FEED Projects. Blake makes it easier for us by presenting six simple keys for creating or transforming your own life and business so the first step, is to pick it up and give it a read if you’re ready to make a difference in your world and most importantly, your personal life.

                    “Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you.… If it’s important to you and you want to do it ‘eventually,’ just do it and correct course along the way.”

                    10. By Invitation Only: How We Built Gilt and Changed the Way Millions Shop by Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis-Wilson

                      Alexis and Alexandra went to Harvard Business School and while they were learning all they could at the top training ground for future Wall Street titans, they had no idea that 5 years on the line, they’d be famous at the intersection of fashion and technology. Gilt began with one bold idea: to bring sample sales online and change the way millions shop. The quintessential lesson is that anything is possible if you have the confidence to embrace your creativity, spontaneity and ability to recognise an opportunity and just go for it.

                      “The reason we wrote our book, By Invitation Only: How We Built Gilt And Changed The Way Millions Shop, is to inspire entrepreneurship – especially among women. We want to help increase the chances of success with more startups.”

                      Featured photo credit: Grow via youandsaturation.com

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                      Last Updated on July 20, 2021

                      How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

                      How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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                      You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

                      Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

                      Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

                      Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

                      1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

                      According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

                      “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

                      Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

                      Warming up

                      If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

                      If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

                      Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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                      1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
                      2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
                      3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

                      Stay hydrated

                      Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

                      To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

                      Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

                      Meditate

                      Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

                      Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

                      Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

                      Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

                      2. Focus on your goal

                      One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

                      Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

                      Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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                      Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

                      If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

                      3. Convert negativity to positivity

                      There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

                      ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

                      It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

                      Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

                      Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

                      Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

                      4. Understand your content

                      Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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                      However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

                      “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

                      Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

                      Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

                      One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

                      5. Practice makes perfect

                      Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

                      In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

                      Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

                      6. Be authentic

                      There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

                      Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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                      Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

                      To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

                      With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

                      Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

                      7. Post speech evaluation

                      Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

                      Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

                      We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

                      You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

                      Improve your next speech

                      As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

                      Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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                      • How did I do?
                      • Are there any areas for improvement?
                      • Did I sound or look stressed?
                      • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
                      • Was I saying “um” too often?
                      • How was the flow of the speech?

                      Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

                      If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

                      Reference

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