Tag Archives: Competition

10 Life Lessons from Basic SEAL Training from Admiral William H. McRaven

By Steve Nguyen, Ph.D.


University of Texas at Austin 2014 Commencement Address – Admiral William H. McRaven

Watch his speech above or directly on YouTube,

An inspiring and powerful 20-minute commencement speech by Naval Admiral William H. McRaven, ninth commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, at the University-wide Commencement at The University of Texas at Austin on May 17, 2014.

Admiral McRaven’s commencement speech is perhaps one of the best commencement speeches I have ever heard. It is on point and offers some fantastic life and business lessons.

Below are excerpts from his amazing speech.

10 Life Lessons from Basic SEAL Training

1. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.
“If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.”

2. If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.
“You can’t change the world alone—you will need some help— and to truly get from your starting point to your destination takes friends, colleagues, the good will of strangers and a strong coxswain to guide them.”

3. If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.
“SEAL training was a great equalizer. Nothing mattered but your will to succeed. Not your color, not your ethnic background, not your education and not your social status.”

4. If you want to change the world get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.
“Sometimes no matter how well you prepare or how well you perform you still end up as a sugar cookie.”

“For failing the uniform inspection, the student [in Basic SEAL training] had to run, fully clothed into the surfzone and then, wet from head to toe, roll around on the beach until every part of your body was covered with sand. The effect was known as a ‘sugar cookie.’ You stayed in that uniform the rest of the day — cold, wet and sandy.”

“There were many a student who just couldn’t accept the fact that all their effort was in vain. . . Those students didn’t understand the purpose of the drill. You were never going to succeed. You were never going to have a perfect uniform.”

5. If you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses.
“Every day during training you were challenged with multiple physical events — long runs, long swims, obstacle courses, hours of calisthenics — something designed to test your mettle. Every event had standards — times you had to meet. If you failed to meet those standards your name was posted on a list, and at the end of the day those on the list were invited to a ‘circus.’ A circus was two hours of additional calisthenics designed to wear you down, to break your spirit, to force you to quit.”

“Life is filled with circuses. You will fail. You will likely fail often. It will be painful. It will be discouraging. At times it will test you to your very core.”

6. If you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first.

7. If you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.
“There are a lot of sharks in the world. If you hope to complete the swim you will have to deal with them.”

8. If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment.
“At the darkest moment of the mission is the time when you must be calm, composed—when all your tactical skills, your physical power and all your inner strength must be brought to bear.”

9. If you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.
“If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world, it is the power of hope. The power of one person—Washington, Lincoln, King, Mandela and even a young girl from Pakistan, Malala—one person can change the world by giving people hope.”

10. If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell.
“In SEAL training there is a bell. A brass bell that hangs in the center of the compound for all the students to see. All you have to do to quit—is ring the bell. Ring the bell and you no longer have to wake up at 5 o’clock. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the freezing cold swims. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the runs, the obstacle course, the PT—and you no longer have to endure the hardships of training. Just ring the bell. If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell.”


“Start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone. Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often. But if you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up — if you do these things, then the next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today.”

“It matters not your gender, your ethnic or religious background, your orientation, or your social status. Our struggles in this world are similar and the lessons to overcome those struggles and to move forward—changing ourselves and the world around us—will apply equally to all.”

“Changing the world can happen anywhere and anyone can do it.”

Written By: Steve Nguyen, Ph.D.
Leadership Advisor & Talent Development Consultant


University of Texas at Austin – Adm. McRaven Urges Graduates to Find Courage to Change the World


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What Are The Powerful, Motivational Tools?

motivational_tools_793135One of the main differences between ordinary people and high achievers is their motivation regardless of whether you are a professional, student, or related to any other creative work. To give a meaningful purpose to your motivational efforts, you need to use effective, motivational tools as motivation is  the key to an exciting and happy life. The following are a few, useful motivational tools that we can use to motivate ourselves as well as others.

Identify the Barriers
You have to find the obstacles,and barriers that stop you from being highly motivated.  You need to remove all such obstacles in your way so that you can turn your vision into a reality. All of the people who are highly motivated have one thing common, that is, they have a vision of being motivated.

Give Freedom
In order to motivate your employees, children, or any other person, you have to give them freedom of choice and freedom of work. People don’t feel motivated under too many restrictions.

Show Your Strength
The highly motivated people always show some strength, and that strength develops from the inner desire of achieving something in life. You have to control your destiny in order to achieve something which is more than your abilities.

Set a Clear Objective
When you have clear goals in life, it becomes easier for you to motivate yourself at the required level. In order to achieve a major goal in life, you also need to achieve various, small milestones.

Finish Things You Start
Often people start things, but they don’t have the temperament to finish the tasks they have started. You have to motivate yourself in order to give things finishing touches.

Need Support
We always need support in life from our friends, relatives, or colleagues to achieve something big in life. Support increases our motivational level, and we can work above our abilities. Often mutual interests with a like-minded group of people can be a great source of motivation.

Make Failures Your Tool
Sometimes people get motivated because of failures. We learn a lot from failure, and it gives us a lesson to keep trying until we succeed. Keep in mind that all the great people’s success  occurred after their initial failures.

Get the Power of Your Dreams
Dreams are always important  for us, and we have to use our dreams to motivate ourselves. We need to turn our dreams into reality which is only possible by keeping ourselves highly motivated.
Changing Our Habits
You can also motivate yourself by changing your bad habits. You have to come closer towards your specified goals in life through changing your unwanted habits.

Change Our Behavior
We also need to change our behavior which causes problems in achieving our goals. When we change our behavior, we automatically feel motivated. Besides motivation, you also become an efficient and productive worker.
Motivation is something more than the skill you learn. You have to actually develop motivation within your character.

Written by Javed, H, who has contributed several articles on self improvement. You can follow his thoughts on @examinet


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Working With The Competition: How Staying Friendly Makes Business Sense For Struggling Creative Freelancers

IMG_2699Whatever your story, whatever your industry, little businesses in a post-recession economy are often advised to be apocalyptically ruthless. It may work for some, but what if we all took a different approach to try and dig ourselves out of the financial hole we’re stuck in? This alternative philosophy has been successfully practised by Tenessee-based burger brand Pal’s Sudden Service since 2000, when a Business Institute was launched to provide practical advice and workshops to promote their company amongst competitors, and it has made waves in the restaurant industry, with others following suit. As the Institute’s President, David J, McClasky states, welcoming your competitors with open arms can be more than just a philanthropic gesture: “No matter where a customer goes, if they have a good experience eating out, then they eat out more often,” he says. “We figure everybody wins when businesses are run at excellent levels.”

This mantra can be especially important in creative industries and an artistic approach to the 21st century’s financial challenges could be your most unexpected source of inspiration. If you have spent time previously studying the arts, you’ll understand the importance of co-operation, critique and collaboration, so just how should that be different once you have left education?

Collaboration in Practice: The Freelance Photographer

Take freelance photography as a strong example. It’s a demanding field which requires extensive technical knowledge and relentless passion from the individual, plus an unwavering desire to achieve outstanding results for each and every client. Working alone or perhaps with a micro-team around them, a freelance photographer will be responsible for all areas of his or her business, from booking shoots and meeting clients to more mundane tasks like banking and bookkeeping. Everyone has their own strengths and being required to fill such a variety of roles can take its toll, so it’s no wonder that many photographers in this position often feel overwhelmed. If this scenario sounds familiar, discussing your business with others can help you assess your approach to your work, enable you to get to know cameras and setups for use in your own projects, tackle common working issues, or even just help you offload the general stresses and strains of working on a freelance basis. You’ll be putting your work into perspective and developing valuable bonds with others around you.

Learning To Give and Take as a Business

So why should you take the time to forge reciprocal relationships with those who would traditionally pose a threat to your business? Well, being generous enough to share knowledge, experience and, crucially, contacts may equate to naivety and foolishness in some people’s minds, but consider your own personal benefit. Networking is paramount to establishing oneself as a professional company or brand, and open, assured lines of communication inspire confidence, helping boost your income and get clients. If old friends suddenly become your competition, shunning them can be counterproductive.

Furthermore if there is an ambitious job you don’t quite feel ready for, recommending a rival photographer rather than putting your own reputation into jeopardy is just common sense. As an artist may collaborate with somebody working in another medium to execute the best piece of work, this could be applied to business. Working together on a project with a competitor will allow you to combine your specialist skills to make for a more rounded enterprise, even if it is only temporary.

On a broader scale, however, a healthy business climate needs to be at the forefront of industry for a more stable future. Shying away from banker-esque cut-throat gluttony could be the first (deceptively simple) step in achieving great opportunities for every small business.

Where would we all be without a little help from our ‘friends’? Anna Layne knows first-hand the tribulations facing small businesses and how important it is to glean as much help and information from her competitors. She currently works on behalf of Trinity Photography, a Glasgow-based wedding photography firm that’s risen from small foundations to achieve a great reputation in the local area.



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How to Earn Trust by Being a Leader

It’s not enough to simply have a website for your business anymore. Although that might have given you an edge over your competition years ago, it doesn’t anymore. Today it is estimated that at least 49 percent of all small businesses have their own website. This means that your competition has the same online presence that you do. So, what are you going to do now to set yourself apart from the rest?

It really doesn’t matter what line of business you have, what type of product you sell or what services you offer, competition is fierce nowadays. Even if you don’t have an abundance of competition currently, there’s a good chance you will shortly. This is the era of the small business. People are no longer content punching a time clock or relying on someone else for a raise; more and more individuals wants the freedom and benefits that comes with being your own boss. That being said, being successful or staying ahead seems to constantly get more challenging.

The key to success today is becoming a respected leader. This doesn’t mean hoarding all valuable information you come across and learning how to do a hard sell either!

Share Your Knowledge

There’s no quicker way to gain a lot of fans and a lot of respect than to help others be successful. When you have super valuable information, share it! This not only makes you look like an expert on the subject, people will feel they can trust your word which is pretty valuable in the business world.

If you stumble across an interesting article, share it on Facebook and Twitter; today nearly every online publication offers bookmark icons that make sharing easy.

Don’t Sit on the Fence

Nobody respects or trusts someone who doesn’t have an opinion. You can’t sit on the fence, agree with both sides or stay completely quite. People will disagree with you and you will have a debate now and then but this will earn you more respect than not having a backbone. When someone disagrees with you, don’t get offended or put them down. Appreciate their opinion and respect that they have a voice as well. A disagreement certainly does not always have to be negative.

You can let others know your opinion by posting a link to your Facebook page and starring a discussion or you can offer the information in your blog for your subscribed readers to get involved with.

Get Involved

Standing in the shadows will get you nowhere. When you voice your opinion and people disagree, don’t just hide behind your keyboard; get involved with the conversation. Be open-minded and you might just learn something and understand their view in the process.

If one of your customers, readers, clients, etc., has a unique perspective on a topic, use it to spark a conversation. Even if you don’t agree with them, you will likely earn yourself a life-long fan for the recognition.

It doesn’t matter if you make your own organic soap, have a landscaping business or own a chain of hardware stores, people value a leader. Understand that people do not have to have the same opinion as you to respect you. That’s what earns you loyal followers and sets you apart from your competition.

This is a Guest Post by Neil Jones, head of marketing for eMobileScan. One of Europe’s leading providers of handheld computers including the Motorola MC9190 or Symbol MC3190


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Search & The Slow Season: Your Brand’s Big Opportunity

by Hillary Stanley

Now that the holidays are over, many search marketers want to put their feet up and enjoy the down time. But does search ever have a lull? Not really – it is always on. However, the slow season offers search marketers a great branding and growth opportunity.

The Opportunity For Brand Marketers

Whether your slow season occurs after the holiday rush or during the first week of August, it can be the perfect time to focus your efforts on creating brand awareness. Because many marketers turn off their campaigns during this time, the competition can be greatly reduced. As a result, your brand could have increased visibility in the search results, which could lead to new business at a lower cost.

In addition, a focus on brand awareness during the off-season makes sense because many consumers are further up in the purchase funnel then. Rather than making immediate purchases, they are interested in exploring their options and are open to discovering new brands. This mindset, along with the reduced competition mentioned above, creates opportunity for your brand to be discovered by new customers.

Lastly, your slow period is the ideal time work on brand awareness quite simply because you have the time to invest in testing to determine your most effective messaging. Taking the time to do this now will prove invaluable once your peak season hits.

4 Tips To Improve Brand Awareness During The Slow Season

Below are a few tips to help you boost brand awareness and optimize your account during your slow season:

  • Always be present. While it may sound basic to some, many marketers need to be convinced that it is important to continue to advertise and keep their paid search campaigns running during slower times. Sure, traffic may be lower when things are slow; however, savvy marketers know that there is still an opportunity to gain business. During your slow time, ensure that your brand is always present.
    Doing so will allow you to fully capitalize on the visibility opportunity when other companies make the mistake of letting their brands “go dark.” By continuing to protect your branded terms and test and expand your efforts with unbranded keywords, you will be in a stronger position when things get busy again.

  • Clean up your accounts. Paid search accounts are always changing. In fact, chances are that over the past year you most likely added, removed, and changed keywords and ad copy for your campaigns many times over. While it is important to keep campaigns updated, these changes can create clutter that adversely affects performance.
    While things are slow, take the time to review the structure of your campaigns, your keywords, and your ad copy, and remove what you can. Doing so will not only help boost results by ensuring that you are staying relevant, but also help you optimize your accounts throughout the year by keeping them manageable.

  • Review your goals. While you may have clear goals established for 2011, some things in your organization or the marketplace may have changed since they were originally formulated. For instance, the company may have announced plans to launch a new product, change its website, or target a new customer segment. Or perhaps a top competitor may have started a major marketing program. Such changes could greatly impact your goals for the year.

    Fortunately, your slow period is the perfect time to review your goals and make any necessary adjustments. As you revisit them, be sure to find out if your organization has any new initiatives planned so you can be prepared for them throughout the year.


  • Create your strategy. If you have not already created a plan for the year, now is the time to do it. Start by taking a look at 2010 and determine what was successful – and what was not — and leverage your learnings to create a stronger account for the new year. In order to keep the account growing, be sure your plan takes into consideration any additional marketing initiatives your company may be running in 2011, along with your competitors’ efforts.
    You may also want to consider other efforts you have not explored yet. Perhaps this will be the year to try mobile or a Spanish campaign. Lastly, be sure your plan includes tests throughout the year; otherwise, you might forget when things get busy.

While you may be tempted to relax during the off-season, you should capitalize on the opportunity to build brand awareness. Doing so will help you get a leg-up on the competition, and put you in a far stronger position when things pick up again.


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