Darren Hardy is the publisher of Success Magazine. He is also the author of a great new book called The Compound Effect (click here for additional information and ordering). Darren became a businessman at age 18, and by age 27 was a self-made millionaire. As a successful entrepreneur, he has led several business ventures, including two personal-development based television networks, The People’s Network (TPN) and The Success Training Network (TSTN). I’ve gotten to know Darren through my work with Success Magazine and was delighted to provide an endorsement for his new book because he truly understands what it takes to be successful. In this guest blog, Darren provides some insights into his book and his philosophy about achieving success.
1. Why did you write The Compound Effect? And why now?
Well, candidly Mark, I wrote it because I was ticked off. Our current society has grown up with a microwave mentality expecting success and the results on effort to be immediate. Coupled with mass commercial marketing and in its competitive zeal has exaggerated their claims of overnight success appealing to our weakness of wanting immediate gratification. We are constantly bombarded with increasingly sensational claims to get rich, get fit, get younger, get sexier… all overnight with little effort for only three easy payments of $39.95.
These repetitive marketing messages have distorted our sense of what it really takes to succeed. Then those with the sincere interest in learning what it takes to be more successful continually get bamboozled, distracted, frustrated and disappointed when they don’t experience the results they are after. I was tired of watching it happen!
I wrote this book to return people to the basics—the truth and the core fundamentals of what it really takes to succeed. I wanted to clear the clutter, demystify the truth and tell it straight—with no fat or fluff included.
As you know Mark, I have been part of the personal-development industry for 16 years, and as the publisher of SUCCESS magazine, I’ve had the chance to see and hear it all. There are 5,000 books produced every year in the personal-development and success space—most of them end up on my desk. Unfortunately to break through the noise of that sheer volume, so many “gurus” today have resorted to sensational claims of great “secrets” or “new scientific breakthroughs” and the like. It’s marketing gimmickry, and it does more harm than good for the people who are looking for real self-improvement answers.
The truth about success is as simple as this: there are not 5,000 things one needs to do well to be successful. There are about a half-dozen things that need to be done well, just done 5,000 times over to be successful. This book brings clarity and focus to those half-dozen things and offers a specific and actionable plan on how to do them well. Master these fundamentals, repeat them consistently over an extended period of time, and the payoff will be extraordinary.
2. How do you define the Compound Effect?
The Compound Effect is the principle of reaping huge rewards from a series of small, smart choices. Our present reality is an outcome of the little, seemingly innocuous decisions that have added up to your current bank balance, waist line, business success, relationship status, etc. They aren’t the big decisions that make the big difference. No, success is earned through the pesky little ones – do I have the cake or grab a piece of fruit, do I go to happy hour or go to the gym, do I make three more prospecting calls or just call it a day, do I say I love you to my wife or shrug it off for another day, do I listen to the news or to an instructional CD… do I finish reading this article or check (again) for the latest new email.
There is no magic bullet, secret formula, or quick fix. Success is not a result of grand acts of bravery, quantum leaps or heroic feats. Success is earned in the moment to moment decisions that in themselves make no visible difference whatsoever, but the accumulated compounding effect is profound.
It’s the “magic” Einstein described as the “8th wonder of the world.” The results it produces may look like magic, but in fact they’re the certain outcome of a very practical, logical, and mathematically predictable process. As fantastic a result as compound interest can have on your money, so can the correct choices have on your life.
3. What’s the best way to stay focused and stay consistent in our efforts?
In the book I offer seven real-life and practical ways to help you stay focused, committed and consistent with their efforts to improve an important area of life. Let me share just a few…
One is to perform a PDA – Public Display of Accountability
Get Big Brother to watch you, so to speak. Or put yourself in a fish bowl for the whole world to watch… and it’s never been easier with all the social media available. Let me give you an example, there is a woman who decided to get control of her finances by blogging about every penny she spends every day. She’s got her family, friends, and plenty of colleagues following her spending habits, and as a result of the many eyes of scrutiny, she’s become far more responsible and disciplined in her finances.
I once helped a co-worker quit smoking by telling everyone at the company: “Listen up! Zelda’s decided to stop smoking! Isn’t that great? She just smoked her last cigarette!” I then placed a huge wall calendar on the outside of her cubical. Every day she didn’t smoke, Zelda got to draw a big fat red X on the calendar. Co-workers took notice and started to cheer her on, and the parade of big red X’s started to fill up the chart, which took on a life of its own. Zelda didn’t want to quit on that chart, quit on her co-workers, or quit on herself. But she did quit smoking!
Tell your family. Tell your friends. Tell Facebook and Twitter. Get the word out that there’s a new sheriff in town, and you’re in charge.
Two is Find a Success Buddy
There are few things as powerful as two people locked arm and arm marching toward the same goal. To up your chances of success, get a success buddy, someone who’ll keep you accountable as you cement your new habit while you return the favor. I, for example, have what I call a “Peak-Performance Partner.” Every Friday at 11 a.m. sharp, we have a thirty-minute all during which we trade our wins, losses, fixes, ah-has, and solicit the needed feedback and hold each other accountable. You might seek out a success buddy for regular walks, runs, or dates at the gym, or to meet to discuss and trade personal development books.
Competition & Camaraderie
There’s nothing like a friendly contest to whet your competitive spirit and immerse yourself in a new habit with a bang. Dr. Mehmet Oz once told me in an interview, “If people would just walk a thousand more steps per day, they would change their lives”. VideoPlus, the parent company for SUCCESS, held a step competition using shoe pedometers to count steps. Employees organized into teams and competed to see which team could accumulate the most steps. It was amazing to me that people who didn’t previously exercise for their own health or benefit suddenly started walking four, five, or six miles a day! At lunch, they walked in the parking lot. If they knew they had a conference call, suddenly they were out doing it on their cell phones while they walked! Because of the competition, they found ways to increase their activity. Everyone’s steps were tracked, and the whole office could see who was slacking off and who was stepping up. People’s step tallies increased every day.
Yet as soon as the competition was over, I was fascinated to observe that the step count completely dropped off the cliff—by more than 60 percent just one month after the competition. When the competition was reorganized again, the step count shot right back up. All it took was a little competition to keep people’s engines revved—and they got a wonderful sense of community and shared experience and camaraderie in the bargain.
4. What is your strategy for breaking a bad habit or developing a new habit?
Aristotle wrote, “We are what we repeatedly do.” Webster defines habit this way: “An acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary.” If you’ve been living on autopilot and allowing your habits to run you, I want you to understand why. And I want you to let yourself off the hook. After all, you’re in good company. Psychological studies reveal that 95 percent of everything we feel, think, do, and achieve is a result of a learned habit! We’re born with instincts, of course, but no habits at all. We develop them over time. Beginning in childhood, we learned a series of conditioned responses that led us to react automatically (as in, without thinking) to most situations.
Again there are several strategies outlined in the book to uproot your bad habits and install the needed success habits to take you expediently in the direction of your goals and ambitions, but I’ll outline the beginning key—awareness. We know all change begins with awareness and since 95% of your habits are completely unconscious, that is where we need to start—making them conscious again. I do this by tracking the behavior I want to change. Let me explain how I learned this as it will also explain how to do it.
I learned the power of tracking the hard way, after I’d acted like a colossal idiot about my finances. Back in my early twenties, when I was making a lot of money selling real estate, I met with my accountant. “You owe well over $100,000 in taxes,” he said. “What?!” I said. “I don’t have that kind of cash just lying around.”
“Why not?” he asked. “You collected several times that; certainly you set aside the taxes that would be due on that money.” “Evidently I didn’t,” I said.
“Where did the money go?” he asked. “I don’t know,” I said, a sobering confession, for sure. The money had passed through my hands like water, and I hadn’t even noticed!
Then my accountant did me a great favor. “Son,” he said, looking me dead in the eyes, “you’ve got to get a grip. I’ve seen this a hundred times before. You’re spending money like a drunken fool, and you don’t even know how to account for it. That’s stupid. Stop it. You are now seriously in the hole. You have to earn more money that you’ll owe additional taxes on just to pay for your back taxes. Continue this, and you’ll dig your financial grave with your own wallet.” I immediately got the message.
Here’s what my accountant had me do: carry a small notepad in my back pocket, and write down every single cent I spent for thirty days. Whether it was a thousand dollars for a new suit or fifty cents for air to fill up my tires, it all had to go down on the notepad. Wow. This brought an instantaneous awareness of the many unconscious choices I was making that resulted in money pouring out of my pockets. Because I had to log everything, I resisted buying some things, just so I didn’t have to take out the notepad and write it in the dang book!
Keeping a money log for thirty days straight cemented a new awareness in me, and created a completely new set of choices and disciplines around my spending. And, since awareness and positive behaviors compound, I found myself being more proactive with money in general, putting away more for retirement, finding areas to save where there was clear waste, and enjoying the fun quotient of money—“play money”—all the more. When I did consider shelling out for entertainment, I did so only after a long pause.
This tracking exercise changed my awareness of how I related to my money. It worked so well, in fact, that I’ve used it many times to change other behaviors. Tracking is my go-to transformation model for everything that ails me. Over the years
I’ve tracked what I eat and drink, how much I exercise, how much time I spend improving a skill, my number of sales calls, even the improvement of my relationships with family, friends, or my spouse. The results have been no less profound than my money-tracking wake-up call.
5. You talk a lot about your mentor, Jim Rohn, and the importance of mentors and about the value of peak-performance partners. Why is having a mentor so important and what is the best way to find one?
The best and fastest way to figure out how to become the best at anything is to find the person who now is the best, or anyone who has what you want, whether that is the sales leader in field, the best speaker, leader, someone who has magic with their children or boundless passion in their marriage… find that person and make them your mentor. Learn what they know, how they think, what they do and ultimately you will duplicate their results.
Bottom line is there is no reason to reinvent the wheel. Others have already taken the journey. They have the battle scars and the bounty to prove it. They can tell you where the landmines are buried and where the trap doors are. They can also map you a course that will significantly cut your travel time down having taken many unfortunate detours themselves.
You can have a variety of mentors for a various areas of your life. Harvey Mackay has admitted to having over 20 mentors and coaches for various aspects of his life—speaking, writing, humor, tennis, gold, relationship, fitness, etc.
It is important people don’t overly complicate the idea of finding and working with mentors. When I sat down with Ken Blanchard, he explained the simplicity of engaging a mentor (SUCCESS, January 2010): “The first thing you want to remember with a mentor is that it doesn’t need to take a lot of their time. The best advice I’ve ever gotten is in short clips, having lunch or breakfast with somebody, just telling them what I’m working on and asking their advice and all. You will be amazed how successful businesspeople are willing to be mentors to people when it’s not taking a lot of time.”
Mentors are all around us contained in books, CD and DVD programs. They are in biographies, autobiographies and recorded teachings. An Amazon account or even a library card and the best mentor on any subject is ready and waiting to reveal the best of what they know to you.