Playbook for Success – From One Millennial to Another – Guest Post by Kyle Maynard

Before I begin, I just want to thank Jeff for asking me to guest write for his blog. I’ve met a lot of people and worked with several individuals in my relatively short time on this Earth. If there is ANYONE who can motivate you to WAKE UP with a DAY ONE mentality…it’s Jeff Brandwein.

The point I want to make in this post can be summarized in two key themes. First, never trick yourself into thinking that where you come from determines where you’re going. And second, we are all capable of success, it’s your willingness to get serious and your ability to take the necessary steps that will ultimately get you there. Nothing in this post is groundbreaking by any stretch of the word; simply a set of principles and guidelines that I have applied to my life to get ahead.

Who am I?

My name is Kyle Maynard. I am a 25-year-old sales representative at a SaaS startup in Chicago. I come from a very small town called Cicero, Indiana with a population size of just under 6,000 people. Everybody knows everybody and not many people make it out of that bubble. Even though it was a very safe and comfortable place to grow up, I always knew I wanted something more. At 18, confused and eager, I graduated high school and started my collegiate career at Purdue University. Fast forward to 2015, and here I am; a young professional with not a clue what I was doing.

Since I can remember, I was told the same thing from all my elders: “do well in school, go to college, get a job, support your family, and you will be successful.” I also remember thinking to myself, “easier said than done.” These things can most definitely lead you to success, but how in the hell are you supposed to accomplish those things? And more importantly, is this even the path I want to take? This is an age-old tale and will always be a part of life we must go through.

I recently had a conversation with my brother, who is an extremely intelligent and talented 17-year-old. He has started to explore what he wants to do with his life and is struggling with finding what best suits his interests and strengths. It is a concerning time for him because he feels that the world hasn’t yet prepared him properly for what lies ahead and how to choose his path. What I tried to stress is that the world will never prepare you fully; unfortunately, you must struggle and make mistakes to figure it out. I had to figure this out the hard way, just as many of you had to. When I entered Purdue as a freshman, I learned very quickly that I was not prepared for what lied ahead. High school came so easy to me that I didn’t realize the amount of grit, preparation, and time-management that was demanded of me to succeed. Furthermore, it took me at least a year and a half to figure out what I was actually interested in pursuing as a major. This was a huge setback, as I switched majors twice. However, I finally recognized the importance of taking it seriously and laying out a game plan and took the necessary steps to get on the right path.

Here are the 5 things I have learned so far:

Find your “Somewhere”

We all have heard the phrase, “everyone’s gotta start somewhere.” This has been engraved on our brains since birth. The problem that most of us struggle with is, “where is my somewhere”? To start, you must first understand what you are chasing. Whether that is to own a three-story house, to be CEO of your own company, to become a famous athlete or musician, or to just be happy in life; you HAVE to determine what makes you get up in the morning in order to chase it.

Now sit down, take 20 minutes, and make a list of your top three goals. Don’t think intensively – just close your eyes and think of the first three things that come to mind. Write them down.

Goals vs. Commitments

Now that you have defined a few key goals or aspirations you would like to reach, it’s time to build on that. The first thing to recognize is that your goals CAN and WILL change. That is okay. However, it’s very effective to set annual goals to keep yourself on track. I prefer 3 personal and 3 professional goals. What’s crucial before laying these out is that you understand the difference between a “goal” and a “commitment.” One thing our team does at work is set a goal and/or commitment for the week. A “goal” is something that you wish to accomplish but isn’t fully under your control. A “commitment” is something that has a deadline, and you commit to accomplishing: no excuses. A great way to work towards your ultimate goal is to set 2-3 commitments that will help you reach that goal.

For example, one of my goals in 2018 is to learn to code on a basic level (HTML, CSS, JQUERY). 2 commitments I have set to accomplish this are:

1.) to schedule a half-hour block two days a week with my girlfriend (who codes and designs for a living) to work through a crash course

2.) to code and launch my own website for my music (I’m also a musician/producer in my spare time) by no later than December 31, 2018.

These two “commitments” I’ve made to myself are actionable and trackable, therefore enabling me to accomplish my “goal” of learning to code on a basic level. This principle can apply to your personal goals and is a great way to hold yourself accountable.

Small Victories are Vital

Now that you’ve laid out your goals and set your corresponding commitments, it is equally as important to celebrate those commitments as victories. Being in sales, small victories are vital. Dealing with rejection is a daily routine. To maintain a positive outlook and continue on your path to success, you must celebrate the small wins that ultimately lead you towards your goal. For example, every time we set a meeting at our company, we ring a bell. If we close a deal, we hit the gong. These things not only help with our company culture but on a personal level, allow you to celebrate the steps you’ve accomplished on the path to your ultimate goal. This can apply to anything: closing a deal, passing a test, reaching a certain body weight, finishing a painting, etc. The focus is to take time to celebrate those wins and know that you’re that much closer to your goal. Even further, instead of a gong, find a productive way to celebrate each small victory. It could be as simple as a “fist-pump” or as rewarding as a purchase you make to celebrate that victory. Regardless of the act, the outcome should provide you the confidence you need and inspire you to push on towards your goal.

Being Coachable

This may be one of the most important things I’ve learned in my life so far and one of the most valuable strengths I possess. Whether we admit it or not, we all have some sort of egotism in our DNA. We subconsciously shy away from advice or constructive feedback; whether it’s due to our fear of change, or our inability to accept when we are wrong. This is a cancerous and fixed mindset because it hinders our capability to grow as an individual. If you can swallow your pride and learn to implement advice from others who inspire you, it will change your world. For example, as a salesperson, my close percentage of meetings I conducted to deals I closed from January-March of 2017 was low. I wasn’t implementing advise I was given and therefore my performance suffered. I spoke with Jeff, who was my boss at the time, and recognized I needed to make some changes to my sales approach. After implementing these changes, my close percentage more than DOUBLED the next quarter and led to my now two promotions at my current company. If you take the advice given to you from people who have succeeded in your field, it will drastically improve your future.

Effort is Everything

Last, but definitely not least, it all comes down to EFFORT. You don’t have to be the smartest or most talented person in the room (believe me I’m not). All you must do is consistently put in the ‘incremental effort’ every single day or don’t bother getting up. If you apply these simple guidelines and make a conscious effort to use them, it WILL make a huge difference in the outcome of your future.

So the moral of the story here is: I’m not special, I came from a very small town and lived a very “normal” life. I had the same opportunities as my peers and am in no way someone who is a role model by any means. I have not cured diseases, and I am definitely not the most decorated salesperson at my company. However, instead of staying in a fixed mindset and wondering why the world hasn’t given me everything, I worked hard, accepted that I had to make some changes, and am striving every day to consistently use these principles to reach my goals in life. You don’t have to be the next Jeff Bezos or the next Elon Musk to be successful. We all have our own path, and hopefully, this helps you on your mission to find it.

Now Wakeup! It’s Day One.

Don’t Stop, Keep Going

After reading my prior posts, you learned that to start achieving your potential you need to be able to believe in yourself and redefine what the idea of success means. Hopefully, you have done both! If not, It’s OK. Step 1 is the hardest step to complete, and even if you do, it’s hard to maintain. Trust me. Others in your life will tempt you to follow the “rules,” and you will continuously feel tested with the vicious cycle of worrying about the past (failure) and future (success), which will try to prohibit you from making choices and taking action. You will feel like you want to give up and start to doubt yourself, but you must continue to move forward on your journey, and remind yourself of these four things:

1. Remember your “Why”:

Your “why” is your purpose which is what drives you and what wakes you up every single day. When you have moments where you want to give up, your “why” is the single most important thing to remember. You don’t need to focus on your “why” in the broader sense of your life but think about your “why” for this moment, which also allows you to be fully present. It helps you focus on what is right in front of you, and it gives you the meaning and motivation that you will need to continue forward.

Further questions to ask yourself:

Why are you here?

Why have you gotten this far?

Why do you wake up every day?

Why should you continue to move forward?

2. What you can control, and your supposed “superhuman idols” control:

Writing down what you control and what your idols control is a great exercise to help you realize that you both control the same things. Typically, people will notice three things about their role models: 1. They put in more effort. 2. They learn every day 3. They are not afraid to fail. That’s it. Understanding you can be as great as they are by noting these things is an incredibly powerful feeling.

Further questions to ask yourself:

How do they go about their improving their skill or ability?

How did they get to where they are?

How hard did they work? What specifics outside of pure talent did they do to be successful?

How many times did they fail?

3. The present moment:

Stop worrying about what happened yesterday or what is going to happen tomorrow. Focus on the here and now. In this moment, how can you just merely contribute? Ask yourself each day, what did I do to add value to the world? These questions will allow you to see how much you accomplish in just one day. You realize that you make an impact and you quickly start to understand how you have the ability to do amazing things in your life.

4. How you respond:

This goes along with the prior point of focusing on the present. What has happened in the past is what it is. Every second spent talking about regret, could have, should have, would have is time you are wasting that could be spent on moving forward. If you are serious about reaching your potential, we need to get going. We have more steps to take in this journey. Make a choice and TAKE ACTION.

You might think it can’t be that simple, but it truly is. As humans, we tend to overcomplicate EVERYTHING. It’s time to cut the bullshit. You need to WAKE UP! The good thing? It’s Day One. So, my first question to you is: Are you ready to make the choice to move forward?

Time to Reinvent Success

As I discussed in my previous post life is all about perception. You must change the way you view the world and view yourself which can ultimately allow you to start believing in yourself.

This might be difficult for some, so an easy way to start is by thinking differently. If you told me the sky is purple, ok… then the sky is purple. If you think 2 + 2 = 5, awesome! If you truly believed that I would say, ‘GREAT! Tell me more!’

The majority of people would tell you those statements are not possible and you are wrong. The sky is blue and 2 + 2 = 4. And yes, they are correct, but only because they followed the rules. Here is what the rules say: You go to school. You learn. You get a job. You work for 30+ years. At the end of the day, you either succeed or fail. That’s how life works. Since the day we were born, we were taught that life has rules. Follow them and you will be on a path to success. Why does it work this way?

Think about school: you pass or fail a class, and you have to pass a grade to get to the next grade. It is just a continuing upward climb to “success”. It doesn’t end though. As you go to work, you are constantly trying to move up “the ladder”.  If you do not get that promotion or you don’t close that deal, you fail. That is how we were told to believe and perceive how life works: succeed or fail. What people don’t realize and are often never taught is that the concept of succeeding or failing was invented. Even crazier and one of the cold hard facts of life is that everything in life is invented.

Humans created this idea of success and failure and rules of how life works. We all just fall into our place in this world, and there is not much you can do about it. And this has led us to believe that there are such things as “superhumans” and other people we can never hope to be like. People such as Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk (just to name a few).

Do they think the sky is purple? Or 2 + 2 = 5? Maybe. Maybe not. But they sure as hell woke up one day and said “I am going to create my own rules”, and asked themselves something like this: Why do we measure and perceive success based off what someone hundreds, maybe thousands of years ago decided were the rules of life? So they went outside the box. They believed in their own rules and their own path. And guess what? They are just humans and they simply thought differently. And once they did that, no one could stop them. They didn’t just reach their potential, they changed the world.

To reiterate, we are letting someone who invented this idea of success to tell us what makes us successful. What this idea and everyone else failed to tell you is that you are the one in control and you will always be the one in control. If you truly believe something, then nothing can stop you. You must start with reinventing yourself and your idea of success to achieve your potential. What stops you from achieving your potential is that that you have let others control the idea of it and tell you what you should or shouldn’t do to be considered successful. And that is the most bullshit thing I have ever heard.

“The world is made up of crazy ideas. History is one long procession of crazy ideas. Let everyone else call your idea crazy. Just Keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t even think about stopping until you get there, and don’t give much thought to where there is. Whatever comes, just don’t stop.” – Phil Knight, Founder – NIKE

This has led us to worry about two things: the past (our failures) and the future (our success).  We constantly measure our past and future selves against this idea of what success should look like. Why do we do this? It is rooted in how we were taught as kids. Every story we hear is always about the trials of failure or success by someone who seems like a mythical character, or god, or superhuman. Trust me, I am guilty of believing in it. We all are.  But if we don’t stop and invent our own way, it becomes difficult to actually accomplish anything.

This persistent worrying about the past and the future means your mind will be on a treadmill your entire life. It will never stop. You will feel like you worked so hard and it will just be running and running, but the problem is that it will be going nowhere. And the amount of time and energy wasted thinking about how you once were and how you have to be a certain way in the future is time you are wasting to improve yourself in the actual moment.

If you can’t focus on the step that is in front of you, then how are you going to take the next steps to reach your potential? If you do not actually stop and complete step 1, being fully present in that moment, then you can’t take steps 2 and 3.  Just taking that first step is so hard and then to actually decide and act on anything is another challenge. Since we follow the rules that have been pounded into our heads, we do nothing. We sit and worry. And our obsession with the rules that someone else created holds us back and ultimately destroys our hopes and dreams.

Well today, I am declaring this as your day to reinvent success and your beliefs of success. Remember, it is day one. Every day is day one. If you are living in this moment right now, then you just learned something. Though I am declaring today as your day, guess what every day is your day to reinvent yourself. Some person at some point decided what success and failure should look like, but that does not mean that you don’t have every right to redefine it for yourself. And if you want to achieve your potential, then you need to believe that life is not as black and white as success versus failure. It is about giving maximum effort and making up your own rules.

If you need some guidelines on where and how to start, here are my rules I invented for achieving success in my life:

  • Attempt, find, or at least think about what your purpose is.
  • Discover and write out your core values and beliefs.
  • Know your end result, know where you want to go, and what the outcome is going to be.
  • Write down and track three things:
    • How many times did you fall and get back up (literally and figuratively)? It should be a long list.
    • Learn 1 thing each day. Go home and write it down.
    • Every day is day one. Keep track of how many times you reinvent yourself or your beliefs.
  • At the end of the day, if the first four points don’t happen, simply contribute every day. Here are a few ways to do that:
    • Hold the door for someone.
    • Tell someone that you are thankful or grateful for them and what they do for you.
    • If you are having a bad day, help someone else have a good day.
    • Smile at someone today. Tell a joke.
  • Remember every day is day one. There is no time limit or amount of time you need to achieve success in life.

Now Wakeup! It’s Day One. Be thankful every single day (not just the week of Thanksgiving) for the opportunity to wake up and have the chance to reinvent success and reach your potential.

Step 1: Believe in Yourself

“For twenty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt of yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life” – Carol Dweck Author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Here is the thing: Life is all about perception. Plain and simple. From the instant you were born, you opened your eyes and everything you saw, heard, and experienced from then until now has shaped your view of the world. This directly correlates to how you see yourself fitting in.  You likely form these types of thoughts in your head: ‘I am not smart enough to do this’, ‘I don’t have the skill’, or ‘other people are just naturally better at it than me’.

And unfortunately, that is precisely what stops you from achieving your potential. YOU. Before we talk about making choices and taking action, we need to start with the actual stem of the problem – the way you view yourself.

The reason you might have these negative views is because of thoughts Carol Dweck says we have:

“We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary” – Carol Dweck Author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

In my post on Monday, I shared with you Carol Dweck’s idea that humans have two mindsets: Fixed and Growth. People with a fixed mindset think they can’t change and they were born that way. The growth mindset believes that you can improve your skill and intelligence with hard work and effort every day.

Pretty simple concept. Right?

Well, sadly, that’s typically not the case. It is shocking how many people I hear and see not believing in themselves or saying “I was just born that way.”

Let’s look at one person who most people should know and view as superhuman: Michael Jordan.

MJ is one of the many athletes that have a mindset that put them in a class of their own. When I think about it, it’s hard for me to honestly believe he is actually human… but he is.

After reading several biographies on Jordan and his coach Phil Jackson, I learned MJ didn’t start dribbling a basketball in the delivery room on the day he was born or dunk at his first birthday party. What I read is that he outworked everyone and nobody believes more in himself than Michael Jordan. That was the difference between him and everyone else. He knew what he wanted his end result to be, and he gave all the effort he could towards it.

Now, yes he grew to 6’6 and could jump through a roof. But let’s not talk about physical attributes because there are plenty of others out there who are 6’6 and have not come even close to Jordan’s success.

The moments that make him human and that we can all relate to are these:

As a sophomore in high school, he was cut from the varsity team. He was 5’10, could not dunk and 15 other kids made varsity over him. MICHAEL JORDAN. MICHAEL F-ING JORDAN. The supposed greatest basketball player to walk this planet failed to make varsity on his first try.

In another relatable moment, in 1993, his father passed away at a young age. Michael Jordan, the most competitive athlete, the best of all time, walked away from the sport of basketball. You know why? Because as great as he was, as mentally tough as he was; he broke down. The loss of his father broke him. Your first thought: MJ can’t be broken, not possible. Look at Game 7. Highest stage in his respected field. One shot. MJ is the guy who takes it and makes it. But nope, he gave up on basketball (and then decided to play major league baseball. We all know the story.)

How many times have you doubted yourself after you failed? Or how many times have you just not even tried because you figured, ‘I don’t have what it takes’? How many times have you faced a tough moment, and just given up? The answer for me personally would be A LOT. And unless you are not human, I would assume it has happened to all of us. Even people like Michael Jordan, who we view as superhuman.

The difference between MJ and you are not his physical attributes, it’s his mindset. He failed. He gave up, but yet he bounced back every time. What he did is something that is actually extremely simple. He did what most of us are afraid to do. And until we do it, we can’t achieve our potential.

He took the first step: He believed in himself and altered his perception of his abilities

If you are rolling your eyes or thinking, “Jeff, you are crazy. MJ is a legend. He worked hard, but he was born that way. It does not matter what he thought of himself. He is Michael Jordan.”

My response is that you are the crazy one. You keep waking up viewing the world in the same way and expecting a different result. That is called INSANITY. So, you keep living your life that way. While you do that, I am going to do the opposite, and try to think differently and expect a different result. That is what I call the beginning of a Day One mindset.

If you think that is harsh, great! It’s time to wake up. Do you think MJ started on his journey to become the greatest of all time by leaning on others to tell him that they believed in him? No. He began with changing his belief in himself. It starts with you. You are in control. First, you need to believe in yourself.

Do you think that when I launched this blog I felt that I was the only blogger or motivational voice on this planet talking about mindsets? No, I am one of a million. But if I believe in myself, my purpose, my values, and my end result; and I honestly give all the effort I have into this, nothing can stop me. Before I made a choice and took action to create this site, I started with changing my view of myself and what I can accomplish in this world.

Now, WAKE UP! It’s Day One. Anything is possible. It’s time to start believing in yourself.

We All Have A Purpose

Hi! My name is Jeff Brandwein and this is my first official blog post. Today, I want to share with you two things: who I am and why I created this site.

My official Day One began in Chicago on March 15, 1987. Fast forward 30 years and I am currently a Sales Manager at a software company by day and a suburban dad by night.

So, basically what I am saying is….I am just like you. I mow my lawn, I change my son’s diapers, and I pack my lunch for work. And above all, you and I are human.

We fail. We fear things. We have tough moments. We doubt ourselves. BUT yet, we are powerful. We have a voice. We have dreams. We have hope. For some, it’s hard to believe. To me, it’s just a mindset. Life at its core is actually pretty straightforward. The challenge is trying not to over complicate it.

One of the things that fascinates me the most is that as much as we have in common, we are all unique.  And I firmly believe that what makes you unique is your mindset.

Your mindset is where your purpose lives; your purpose is what drives you,  it’s what wakes you up every single day. Some find it early in life, some search their whole lives and never find it, and some simply give up. It’s hard, I know. But trust me. We all have a purpose, whether you believe it or not.

For me, it has been quite the journey.  There has been a lot of failing and subsequently a lot of learning, but I have never given up. Through all of these life lessons, I can proudly say I finally figured out why I am here.

My Purpose: To help others realize and achieve their potential

How did I find it? Well, it is a long story (more on that later). For now, I will tell you this: think of your purpose as a massive puzzle. It takes time, it’s confusing, it makes you think, you will need others to help, and you will fail more times than you succeed trying to put all the pieces together. BUT you can solve it. When you do, it will lead you to your potential.

With my newly found purpose, I built this site. I want to share with you all the different avenues I used to help me, and I have three simple goals for this site:

  1. Share content and methods from articles, books, and people who have accomplished their dreams and reached their potential. 
  2. Share my own thoughts on life, my learnings from the books I read, and of course, recommend books that have helped me on my journey.
  3. Most importantly, it is my hope that at least one person can reach their potential, find their purpose, or become a better person because of content shared here. That’s it. Just one.

Now, WAKE UP! It’s Day one.