Defend Your Boundaries to Take Back Control

Learn how and when to draw the line after someone asks too much of you. 

One summer, I was struggling with feelings of resentment toward a family member. Let’s call her Carol. I loved Carol very much, but every time I saw her number on the caller ID, I  got a sick, overwhelmed feeling. I started avoiding her calls. I realized, thanks to a candid chat with a friend, that I was steering clear of Carol because she always wanted something from me. And I always said yes. I was so invested in having Carol think well of me, that no matter what she needed or wanted, I figured out a way to make it happen and ended up creating chaos in my life as a result.

A friend suggested I write NO in big letters on a notecard and set it on my coffee table. Then each time Carol called, I  was to sit down and stare at that notecard until I got the gumption to just say no.

Boundaries are tricky—we don’t always realize that we’re unhappy or unproductive because of a...

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The Hidden Payoff of a Failed Risk

In December 2006, I sat in a Borders bookstore, typed an article that would pay a penny per word, and despaired of ever getting a national magazine-writing gig. I had pitched editors with all my best ideas (I thought), and no one seemed to be open to new submissions from inexperienced writers (go figure).

I had landed a remote position as the associate editor for a regional magazine, a couple of copywriting jobs, and a steady gig writing these low-paying bulk articles. But the higher-paying and higher-profile work I coveted was in national newsstand magazines.

That cold day, the windows of Borders were fogged near the base. I stared at the droplets as they trailed down the glass and longed to stop working on the article about wedding gifts and just wander the bookstore for a few hours. I had taken a huge risk a couple years earlier by leaving my full-time job and going freelance. Days like this, I wondered if I had made a mistake.

The Approach

Two women sat nearby. As they laughed...

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How to Be the Nicest Guy in Hollywood [Interview with Ron Howard]

Ron Howard's 50 years in the movie business have taught him how to handle actors, studios and, of course, a little drama.

Most of us have heard Ron Howard’s laugh. Think back to just about any episode of "Happy Days" when the Fonz says something embarrassing to Howard’s character, teenage Richie Cunningham, who shuffles his feet and laughs with a breathy, nervous naiveté. Or recall the old black-and-white episodes of "The Andy Griffith Show," when Howard played Sheriff Andy Taylor’s enthusiastic son Opie, throwing his auburn head back in laughter at the fumbling Don Knotts.

Ron Howard’s laugh is familiar; it’s easy, uninhibited, and even a little bit self-effacing; it makes us laugh right along with him. Today, as an Oscar-winning director and co-chairman of Imagine Entertainment, Howard directs movies that stick in the public’s imagination just as much as his infectious smile. He credits his directing approach, and much of the joy he still...

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How Do You Show Up for Others?

In this blog, I’m going to give you permission to tell me a hard truth. But first, I want to tell you about my weekend.

I just got back from a conference in California. On the surface this was a marketing educational seminar. But really, it was a melting pot of dreams.

I know that sounds grandiose. And I know that anytime you come back from a conference your head is a little spinny and your real world feels a little unreal.

But the 500 people who stood and clapped and hugged and traded business cards at this conference were some of the best people I’ve ever met. And I might have missed it.

Shake Hands with Strangers

I used to believe I was shy. When I was a kid, I ran on a constant stream of fear. I moved through my days on a scale somewhere between mild anxiety and full-on terror. I just seemed to be wired to be afraid of people. Even people I knew made me feel a bit wary.

But as I grew up—it takes some of us longer than others to do that, you know—I came to...

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The Day George Foreman Almost Made Me Throw Up

Have you ever been so scared you lost your lunch?

After serving as managing editor of SUCCESS magazine for about a month, I got my first big interview opportunity: legendary boxer and entrepreneur George Foreman.

I was beside myself with joy--I was a big fan. After pulling tons of research, sketching out my interview questions, and arranging to work from home on the day of the interview so no one would see how incredibly nervous I knew I would be, I felt ready.

Until about thirty minutes before he was scheduled to call.

The audio recorder and phone were on the table, and I was pacing the living room, shaking my hands out at the wrists in utter terror.

I had never spoken to someone with this level of distinction before. I hadn’t yet held one-on-one conversations with celebrities and uber-successful business owners. The intimidation I felt that day was alternately driving me into fits and paralyzing me in a ball on the sofa.

Then my stomach lurched. It was five...

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Usher's Heart Work [Interview with Usher Raymond]

The pop superstar hands down a lesson of mentoring and gives struggling kids a new outlook.

Usher Raymond IV carries a small silver humidor filled with the finest cigars. He owns a pair of every Air Jordan shoes released.

He has a stable of luxury cars, owns homes on multi-acre properties and can’t show his face in public without inciting rabid, screaming fans. Over a nearly 20-year career, he has earned pop superstardom.

But in the late ’80s, in a room full of rowdy kids at the Boys & Girls Club in Chattanooga, Tenn., 11-year-old Usher was just hanging out, shooting hoops, and learning how to be a leader rather than another statistic from his impoverished neighborhood. The young man, destined to become a multi-platinum recording artist, actor and businessman, needed the safe haven of that after-school club to keep him off the streets and away from potential dangers: drugs, gangs, violence.

“At a young age, I found a great influence in being in places like the...

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You Don't Have to Be a Natural to Succeed [audio]

What is the most critical skill business owners need to master in order to thrive today?

This was my favorite question asked by Onward Nation host Stephen Woessner, and I’ll tell you why.

Because the one skill that I believe every entrepreneur must have to not only survive but THRIVE in business and in life is completely teachable.

Most people believe this skill is something you’re either born with or not. But I’ve discovered, through countless trials and errors, that it’s something you can learn. I don’t care where you are in your business journey right now—you can learn this vital, make-or-break skill.

Listen now to get my 4-Step Process to harness your inner reserves and develop this critical skill. 

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Kenneth Cole's Bold Branding [Interview with Kenneth Cole]

How the clothing and shoe designer continues to raise eyebrows--and consciousness.

The offices of Kenneth Cole Productions are decorated with shoes. Antique lace-up boots, old metal roller skates, long brown Oxfords that have seen one too many sidewalks. The shoes sit on coffee tables, in display cases and on window sills overlooking Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen. And they serve as a constant reminder of the connection between present and past, between success and the journey it took to get there. Kenneth Cole has made that journey, as an entrepreneur, as a designer and as a man with a message.

“Do you like this tie… or this one?” he asks, holding up an alternative to the necktie he already wears. He says, “Thanks,” and folds the alternative neatly into his jacket pocket. Yes, his jacket pocket.

He’s outfitted head to toe in his own designs. His company, Kenneth Cole Productions, has been making shoes, clothes and accessories for almost...

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