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How Studying Highly Successful People Makes You Highly Successful

How Studying Highly Successful People Makes You Highly Successful

As babies we learn to crawl, walk, eat and talk by modeling or watching others.  This idea of studying others through conscious observance is the best method for achieving success. Simply put: we are what we do. Some of the most influential people in my life, who have trained me to become the independent person I am today, are successful people I’ve never even met. Here are seven ways you can learn from others who are highly successful.

1. Learn to never pity yourself.

Liz Murray defeated the odds that were against her. From a child of drug-addicted parents to a homeless Harvard student, Murray rose to become an international speaker and author. Her story came to me through a Lifetime documentary called “Homeless to Harvard,” and the strength of Murray’s spirit encouraged me. I cried during the movie thinking about what it must have taken by way of intestinal fortitude to get her high school diploma. She then progressed to the level of what many consider highly successful.

After watching, I researched the woman in an attempt to learn why she had the ability to succeed where others like her deteriorated into self-pity. I saw the strength of her determination to get what she knew she deserved. I learned never to pity myself. One day I too may inspire even just one person.

2. Learn to scream in an empty room, but whisper in an auditorium.

Since the early ‘90s the progressive rock band Tool has been growing a strong following, but the band only released one E.P. and four full-length albums total as of 2014. Watching and studying the front man, Maynard James Keenan, has tuned me into some keen business decisions. The first of which is marketing.

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Keenan said during interviews that an auditorium full of people will quiet to hear a whisper. Once an entertainer or a leader speaks loudly enough (screaming in an almost empty room) the message will carry, but to maintain the level of interest one needs to back off and let the audience clamor for more. The concept of whispering in an auditorium shows true insight to the factors that make someone interesting and therefore successful.

Readers may not know that Keenan started Tool on a dare, but a quick Internet search will prove that this one man took an idea and ran with it. He greatly improved the sense of what it takes to make it as an independent musician (and now wine maker).

3. Learn the importance of networking.

Ben Franklin has been called “The First American” and what his model teaches is one of networking. At his core, Franklin understood human nature, psychology and marketing. Perhaps because he came from blue-collar roots, Franklin understood not only himself but also his community. He wrote as well as published the famous Pennsylvania Gazette.

Though Franklin didn’t overcome the kind of debilitating struggles that Murray did, and though he wasn’t promoting a true creative project, like a band, what he did showed triumph over the economic and political scene of a country still finding itself. When one man can find himself in a country that hasn’t yet settled on what it is, that is inspirational.

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4. Learn the meaning of being true to yourself.

When I think of a true leader and a true independent spirit who has inspired me to be successful, I think of and study from folk singer and guitar player Ani DiFranco.

I named my cat after Ani because her success came as a result of fierce hard work. To my knowledge DiFranco wasn’t abandoned in the wild, forced to fend for food among literal wolves. But, as a female songwriter in a predominantly male-run business, she cloaked herself and persevered until she had the success and the guts to shake off her mask and sing out from her soul.

After watching DiFranco release album after album, I take so much stock of her ceaseless energy. The only times she didn’t release at least an album a year, complete with tour, is when she had her babies. I know in February 2012 she played on an Atlanta stage with unborn baby rocking in her belly.

One of the single most inspirational things about DiFranco’s success is how she not once stooped to plastic surgery. Her varying hairstyles and sensible makeup never portrayed an ounce of pretentiousness. Aging with grace is something DiFranco shows to all the females who pay attention.

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5. Learn to live in the moment.

Living in the moment truly is a difficult task because humans, by design,stress and fret about the future. The one successful individual who most comes to mind when I think of how I’ve mirrored this attitude is Dan Millman. A former world champion athlete, university coach, and college professor, Millman wrote the book “Way of the Peaceful Warrior” as fiction but based on many of his real-life experiences. The movie adaptation struck me as a solid lesson in living life on life’s terms.

When we quiet the bustle of the day, we can hear the buzzing of the bees, and we live in the moment. Life is beautiful and no amount of stressful striving can replace the success that comes from enjoying the life we each have.

6. Take time to truly listen.

A successful person doesn’t necessarily need to be a famous or wealthy individual. Taking the time to listen to those who are successful in love, those who are educated and those with experience can provide the best lessons of all. A grandparent, a parent and even a teacher or coach can have the most impact on your success.

In taking the time to listen you learn how others overcame their struggles, whether from fighting oppression or learning from poor decisions. When we study those who are successful we learn from their mistakes and avoid having to learn everything the hard way.

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7. Take calculated risks known as investments.

Many students blindly register for and attend expensive universities, colleges and graduate schools because they think that a piece of paper means more opportunity for success. Look around at those who actually graduate and become successful; following those patterns will help you become successful as well.

Education is expensive, but not as expensive as ignorance. Thinking critically and modeling others will nearly ensure success because the first step involves understanding what you want. One cannot become successful without trying. Even the examples of individuals who seemingly became overnight sensations had a team of people working toward that goal.

In educating yourself, choose a mentor to study. Take notes from that person and how he or she spends time and budgets money. Through studying others who have achieved success, it is possible to become successful.

More by this author

Ellen Eldridge

Ellen is a passionate journalist. She shares her everyday life tips at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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