10 Ways To De-Stress

10 Ways To De-Stress
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Written by Harveer Singh

Life can be quite stressful and I think it is universally known that 2016 was one hell of a year no matter how you look at it. If you do not reduce your anxiety and stress, it can take its toll on your body and mind. Professionals of all fields feel it. Stress is a killer.

It is important to find ways to relax and clear your mind. So in this blog post, I am going to go over some of the tactics I use to de-stress.

Try to keep an open mind, as some of these suggestions may seem silly at first, that is until you actually need them.

 

Alleviate

  1. Work Up a Sweat: Go on long walks, to the gym, ride your bike, do an at-home workout (YouTube has good workout videos), do some stretches. The idea is to sweat out the stress.
  2. Meditation & Breathing: Breath slow and deep, close your eyes, and clear your mind.

How-To: During deep breathing exercises, close your eyes focus on your breath. Breathe in deep through your nose for 3 seconds, hold it for 2-3 seconds and exhale through your mouth slowly and repeat for a full minute. Do this whenever you can, but at least once a day.

There are some apps that go through different breathing exercises. I use the app breathe (clever name) on my iPhone.

  1. Massages: When you are stressed you sometimes tense your muscles and get stiff. This discomfort is going to work against you and stress you out more. You can also get at-home massages with the app Soothe: With the following code, you will receive $30 off your first massage: MHKON
  2. Think Positive: Stop being so negative. The more you think of negative things the more you will experience them. Even when you are feeling the worst, you have to try to think of the positive aspects of your life. Focus on what you are grateful for and picture yourself achieving your goals. Think positive and good things will start happening to you.

Distract

  1. Read a Book/Watch a Movie: Sometimes diving into a new world can get your mind off a stressful situation.
    1. Reading: Read something relevant to your business or something different altogether. Go with what you think will relax you most at the time. For good business book recommendations, check out my blog post Essential Business Reads.
    2. Audio (Audible & Podcasts): Listening to someone else’s voice can help calm you down. As far as podcasts go, there are so many different genres out there. Some of which relate to business, mystery, horror, movies, reviews, etc. My favourite non-business related podcast is the first season of Serial. The best motivational podcast I have heard is School of Greatness.
  2. Make Yourself Feel Closest To Home: Studies have shown that at times of great stress, one feels most safe when closest to “home.” Do things that relate to your youth. Things you liked to do when you were a child. Maybe go back and watch a childhood movie, play with Legos, do a puzzle, build a blanket fort, etc.
  3. Go on a weekend trip: Sometimes you just need to get away from it all. Look at local trips within a few hours driving distance. Book a hotel and just get away from it all.

Hotel Tonight: I use this app a lot. It allows you to book hotels up to a week in advance for pretty cheap! With this code, you will receive $25 off your first booking: HSINGH117

Blade: Go to the Hamptons in a helicopter. If you are a high roller/big baller, you can receive $100 off your first flight with this code: HarveerS71

Lyft & Uber: If you live under a rock and haven’t used lyft or uber before, you can use this code to get $10 off your first ride with Lyft: HARV3 and this code to get $15 off your first ride with Uberharveers7ue

  1. Cleaning & Organising: Sometimes focusing on tedious activities like cleaning and organising can help to distract you. Not to mention that a clean and organised environment can be relaxing.

Take Action

  1. Make Lists & Plan: Make lists. Today’s To Do list, This Week’s To Do List, This Month’s goals. Planning things out can seriously reduce stress. Procrastination is the killer and makes things SO MUCH worse when you are stressed and anxious. The only way to feel better at this point is to plan things out. It will make a complex situation seem simple.
  2. Get to Work: If you are procrastinating, it may just be helpful to get to work. If it is a lot of work that you need to get done that is stressing you out, pushing it off will only make it worse.

 

Alright, let’s enter 2017 relaxed and ready to rumble!

 

Mentioned Apps & Promotional Codes:

Audible: Look up their current promotions. They usually give the first month free.

Blade: Receive $100 off your first flight: HarveerS71

Breathe: This free app will help you meditate and focus on your breathing.

Hotel Tonight: Receive $25 off your first booking: HSINGH117

Lyft: Get $10 off your first ride: HARV3

Soothe: Receive $30 off your first massage: MHKON

Uber: Get $15 off your first ride: harveers7ue

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10 Quotes to Inspire Dreamers

10 Quotes to Inspire Dreamers
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Being a professional in any field these days can be stressful. It is easy to be swallowed up by other people’s negativity, which is why I find it necessary, as cheesy as it may be, to keep motivated. I love reading inspirational quotes by unique people, who have accomplished great things in their lives. Whether you are an entrepreneur trying to make it in the world on your first or 30th business or if you are a business professional working in the corporate world, it is critical to stay positive to move forward. Here are some of my favorite quotes and what they mean to me.

Do not bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself. – William Faulkner.

William Faulkner was an American writer and Nobel Prize winner. I like this quote because it means that you have to keep trying to be better. I will never be content with where I am. I will always try to be a better version of myself, this is how I will continuously grow.

Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination. – Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde was an Irish playwright, novelist, essayist, and poet. This quote is vital to the entrepreneur as it tells you to be imaginative. It is similar to the quote above in that it tells you not to be content in who you are.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. – Mark Twain

Mark Twain was an American author and humorist. Twain challenges you to question your motives and understand why you make the decisions that you do. Do not blindly follow the crowd. Make sure your choices are right for you.

I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most never happened. – Mark Twain

Another quote by the great Mark Twain. Many of us live in constant fear of minuscule things. To me, I always felt like the first step was the hardest. You question yourself at every corner. What if this happens, this won’t let it happen, etc. Don’t let your fears stop you from becoming the person your potential will allow you to be.

What we fear is usually what we most need to do. – Timothy Ferriss

Tim Ferris is an American author, entrepreneur, angel investor and public speaker. Here is another quote about fear. Procrastination is a killer. The sooner you get your work done I promise you that you will feel better. Pushing something off will put weight on your shoulder that you do not need.

In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years. – Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln as 99% of you know is the 16th president of the United States of America. You only have one life so don’t let your fears hold you back. If you want to do something, do it. If you want to start a business, try it. If you want to talk to that girl/guy, go for it. I ask myself one very dramatic question when I am making big (or even small and scary) decisions. Will I regret this on my deathbed? If the answer is yes, I am going to do it.

There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing and be nothing. – Aristotle

Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and scientist. I love this. If you are afraid of what everyone else thinks of you, you will get nothing done. The innovators of this world did things that others thought was impossible. They won’t understand you and they will discourage you. Don’t let them get to you. Block out the haters.

All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible. – T. E. Lawrence

Thomas Edward Lawrence was a British archaeologist, military officer, and diplomat. Everyone dreams but entrepreneurs make their dreams a reality.

I have promises to keep and many miles to go before I sleep. – Robert Frost

Robert Frost was an American poet. This quote is important for an entrepreneur, but also those in managerial roles. Promises are important. When you start a business people working for/with you are relying on you. I know that is a scary thought, but being in a leadership role means that you need to be responsible. Remember, a man/woman is only as good as his/her word.

Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience. – George Carlin

George Carlin was an American stand-up comedian, social critic, actor, and author. I wanted to end this off on a lighter note. I know this is hard, and sometimes even I cannot resist, but try not to argue with a tool. There are times you can win someone over and there are times you cannot change the mind of someone stubborn. Pick your battles and refrain from stooping low.

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10 Traits To Be A Great Leader

10 Traits To Be A Great Leader
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During my time in the industry, I have been introduced to amazing leaders and dreadful poseurs. I have gained many mentors and advisors over the years, and I have compiled the following traits that make some an actual leader.

1. Positive Reinforcement: Not Negative punishment

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I have gained the understanding that you will get the best out of people when you reward them for success rather than punish them for their failures. Those who you punish will start to despise you. One thing that I know for sure is that negativity is an infection that spreads and destroys a corporate culture, especially for new companies & startups. There is no room for negativity when you are trying something new. Lead by rewarding and you will be giving people the motivation to do better.

2. Lead By Example: Don’t Be A Hypocrite

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Everyone hates a hypocrite. If you want people around you to act in a particular manner, you need to lead by example. Some would call this the “tone at the top.” Be what you want others around you to be. People will respect that you practice what you preach and will be more likely to follow suit. Don’t go around smoking in people’s faces, while condemning others for doing the same. You will lose respect and people will realize that if your policies aren’t relevant enough for you to follow than it doesn’t matter for them to follow.

3. Be A Leader, NOT A Boss: Command Respect, Don’t Demand It

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People who say or act as if you MUST respect them solely because they are older or in a higher position are wrong. This will, in fact, result in the loss of respect. If you have to go around telling people you are a King, then you probably aren’t one. Now I am not saying that you should disrespect the higher ups, so don’t go around dismissing everyone. Most of you will be able to think of a person in your lives who tries to be a BOSS and not a LEADER. My favorite example of a leader was when I consistently pulled over 100 hours a week at my first job, and my senior manager sat there working with us, it increased my respect for her and made me believe that we were all in it together.

4. Communication Is Key

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It is often not what you say that makes the difference; it is how you say it that changes everything. Words can be sharper than a sword. They can bring tears of happiness or sorrow to one’s face. They can make or break a deal. For those who do think they need help with this, read Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends & Influence People. After you finish reading this book, read Leil Lowndes book, How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships. The first will give you the big picture while the latter will tell you exactly how to do it.

5. Confidence in Decisions: You Have To Mean It!

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If you are pushing a topic that is important, make sure that you have convinced yourself first. If you don’t believe what you are saying, no one else will. Two people can tell you to invest in an ideal opportunity for example, but you will always feel more comfortable with the individual who is sure of themselves. Lastly, after you have made a decision, stand by it. People will hold it against you if you flip flop without a good reason.

6. Own Up To Your Mistakes

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Having confidence in your decisions is one thing, but it takes a real leader to admit when they are wrong. It is better to point the thumb at yourself than to point the finger at someone else. Throwing people under the bus when you made a mistake will only create animosity. Owning up to your mistakes will create respect.

7. Discipline in Private

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If you ever have to have a serious conversation with someone or have a disagreement, talk in private, whether it is business partners or even those working underneath you. If you yell at someone in front of others, you will look like a jerk, embarrass the other person (create animosity) and no one wins. Have an adult conversation in private. The person in question will respect you more for it, and you will have a higher chance to make a difference. Exception: On very rare occasions when you need to make an example of someone.

8. Do Your Research: Know the Facts

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Don’t be a know it all, unless you actually know it all. One of my personal favorites is when people run their mouths about a topic they know nothing about. Have you ever heard the line in the movie American Gangster, “the loudest one in the room is the weakest in the room?” Make sure that you have the facts and do your research. It will make you and the people you’re representing, look weak if you’re ignorant about the argument you’re making. It is better to stay quiet if you do not know a topic than to pretend like you do and make a fool of yourself.

9. Don’t Complain Unless You Have A Solution

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You are wasting everyone’s time if you complain about things and don’t propose a solution. You will only be adding to the problem. I have been to so many meetings where I have seen people complain about issues without finalizing the discussion with a solution. These actions are useless, and nothing will change.

10. Keep An Open Mind: Hear Everyone Out

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You are not always right contrary to what you may or may not believe. Open your mind to criticism and do not shut people out. Sometimes you employees can give you another perspective that you may not have considered that can change everything. Put your pride aside and sometimes allow others to have a say. It will give them the importance, and you may learn something.

 

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Top 5 Startups of 2015

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Fostering Business Solutions, Inc.

By Harveer Singh

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Originally posted January 7, 2016 

Seeing as the year has just come to an end, I decided that it would be appropriate to display my favorite startups of 2015 (in no particular order). These companies are unique and are innovators in their respective industries. They all have immense growth potential.

What do they do?

Palantir is a Silicon Valley startup that services government agencies, such as the CIA and FBI, and businesses through accessible data analysis and specialized solutions ranging from fraud issues to national defense.

 

Valuation

Palantir raised over $880 million this year at a $20 billion valuation, making it one of the most valuable privately held tech companies in the world. Since inception, the company has raised $2.32 billion.

Why did I choose them?
  • Palantir is now the fourth highest-valued startup in the world after leading contenders Xiaomi, Uber and Airbnb.
  • They are backed by various government agencies and still have growth potential.
  • In 2015, Palantir’s valuation increased from a $15 billion valuation to $20 billion.
  • They are expected to IPO in 2016, because their revenues may exceed $1 billion (at which point you are forced to IPO).

What do they do?
SpaceX designs, manufactures, and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft.  Elon Musk founded the company in 2002 with the goal of revolutionizing space technology to reduce space transportation costs and enable the colonization of other planets. I know… It sounds like something from a Sci-Fi film.

 

Valuation
In January of this year (2015) SpaceX raised $1B in funding from Google and Fidelity in exchange for 8.33% ownership stake, establishing the company valuation at approximately $12B.

 

Why did I choose them?

  • SpaceX is the first and only company to achieve a vertical landing of a rocket that had traveled into outer space (this past month).
  • They are revolutionizing space travel & exploration initiatives.
  • This company is so unique that to me it is a winner.

What do they do?

Fatsack Outdoors Inc. is committed to keeping the age-old, outdoor traditions alive by leveraging the latest in technology to provide consumers with an enhanced and simplified sporting experience for not only the casual weekender but for the professional as well.

 

Valuation

Fatsack Outdoors is the smallest of the companies listed by far. The company went from nothing to being valued at roughly $2.6MM in one year (Started from the bottom, now were here? Not yet, but soon). Fatsack Outdoors recently opened their second round of funding to raise $500K at the above valuation.

 

Why did I choose them?

  • The company has immense growth potential proven by the partnerships they have created this year alone.
  • Leaders in the fishing and outdoor industries have showed great interest in the company since they first launched their app (available on the Apple App Store and Google Play) in February.
  • They have a strong Board of Directors (with an ex-executive of Verizon – Jack Plating and myself of course) as well as a highly focused CEO, Nick Rubio (also Chairman of the Board).
  • They have raised roughly $400K in their first year when they required less.

What do they do?

Lyft Inc. helps commuters get to their location via share rides with friends, classmates, and coworkers going the same direction or non-shared rides. All of this is possible by requesting a Lyft through their mobile application and all you have to do is sit back and wait. The company was founded in 2007 and is based in San Francisco, California. Lyft Inc. operates as a subsidiary of Enterprise Holdings, Inc. Its main competitor is Uber.

 

Valuation

As of January 2016 the company has a $5.5 Billion valuation due to a $1 billion investment from GM. Lyft raised more than $2B in seven equity funding rounds since 2010. The company’s valuation surged 2.5x from $1B in series B to $2.5B in series C, reflecting an 8.3 P/S ratio for Lyft (prior to the recent GM investment). Lyft also a $250 million investment from Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, as well as the $1 billion from GM.

 

Why did I choose them?

  • In 2015, Lyft became the first ride-sharing company to offer trips to travelers at McCarran Int’l Airport in Las Vegas (As of Dec. 17th, Uber can also do this).
  • Between March and December of 2015, Lyft secured $927.7M in funding.
  • GM just invested $1 billion in the company, increasing its valuation.
  • Although I believe both Uber and Lyft are good investments, Lyft seems to have more upward potential, creating a bigger buffer when it comes to IPO time.

What do they do?
Birchbox offers online beauty products and retailing services.  The company provides makeup, shaving, hair, skincare, and fragrance products.  Additionally, it offers tools, gadgets and games, and lifestyle accessories. Birchbox, Inc. was founded in 2010 and is based in New York, NY. They are arguably the reason subscription boxes have become so popular.

 

Valuation

In April of 2014, the company raised 60MM at a $485MM valuation. They are expected to open a Series C round of funding at an estimated valuation of $750MM.

 

Why did I choose them?

  • In October of 2015, Birchbox launched its first in-house makeup brand, LOC (Love of Color).
  • They basically pioneered the subscription box services that everyone seems to be using now.
  • They are continuing to grow as per their next expected round of financing.

 

 

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Top Tax Deductions For Your Business

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Mo money mo problems.” – Notorious B.I.G.

I think that Biggie Smalls understood the increasing pressures of running his own business. What are the two prime concerns a business owner worries about? The answer – increasing profits and decreasing expenses. This post will help you with the latter. Knowing how to use your business expenses to your tax advantage is essential to saving money. Listed below are some of the tax deductions that business owners (and the self-employed) can take advantage of.

 

Meals & Entertainment (M & E)

Probably the one that most people have heard of is Meals and Entertainment. If you are entertaining a current or potential client, you can deduct 50% of the cost as long as it is directly related to your business. You can also deduct these expenditures if the entertainment takes place before or after a business discussion.

 

 

Auto Expense

If you use your car for work or have a company car you can deduct certain costs to maintain the vehicle on your tax return. There are two ways to take advantage of this deduction:

Actual Expense and Standard Mileage Rate.

The first, Actual Expense method, is self-explanatory. You can deduct all of your actual vehicle-related business expenses, such as gas, repairs & maintenance, etc.

 

The second is the Standard Mileage Rate. With this rate, you can deduct 57.5 cents (2015’s rate) for every mile driven as well as tolls and parking costs related to your business. Many find this cost to be the more beneficial of the two deductions.

 

 

Travel

You can deduct plenty of business travel expenses. Just keep in mind that if you also plan on traveling for pleasure, you can deduct the entire trip only if the trip was primarily for business. Otherwise, you will have to split the costs. Also, if you take your family along, you can only deduct your own expenses.

Related expenses include (but are not limited to): plane fare, costs of operating/renting a car, taxis, uber, lodging, meals, shipping materials, tips, etc.

 

Books, Education, Legal & Professional Fees

Purchasing books that relate to your business may lead to deductions. If you buy books that help you do without legal or tax professionals they are fully deductible.

With legal and professional fees, you may deduct in the year incurred. If you have any future benefit for these fees, wait to deduct the cost in that year.

 

 

Bad Debts (Goods vs. Services)

Not getting paid is frustrating, but luckily you may be able to deduct your loss. If it is a Good that you sold, you can deduct the cost of the good you were not paid for. Unfortunately, if it is a Service provided, you cannot deduct the time you devoted to your client.

 

Office Related Expenses

These expenses include those that keep your office running. You can deduct office supplies, telephone & TV bills, postage & shipping, rent, etc. You can also deduct items used to advertise and promote your business, such as business cards, website costs, and so on.

 

Home Office: This can be a tricky one because you will have to determine the square footage of the office space. By the standard deduction method, you can deduct $5 per sq. ft. (the amount is capped).

 

Software: You can generally deduct required software costs, but they must be depreciated over a 36-month period. There are certain exceptions to these rules that would be best to check with your tax professional.

 

 

Moving Expenses

If you have to move because of a business or job, you can deduct certain moving costs. The new job must be at least 50 miles away from your old home or job to qualify.

 

Misc.

Bank service charges, business gifts, seminars, trade shows, business dues, business related magazines, casualty, and theft loss, etc. I would suggest always keeping track of your business related expenses in an excel sheet (even those you are unsure will result in a deduction). This way when it comes time to file your taxes you can discuss them all with your accountant. Accounting is very tedious and rules are always changing. Make sure to check all deductions with a tax professional to make certain that all regulations are obeyed correctly.

 

I hope this helped you all realize how many expenses you can use to your advantage when running your own business.

 

 

Image Credits: Title: dentons.com, M&E: dailyfinance.com, Auto: Autoexcellence.com, Travel: denverluxurycarservice.com, Office: themuse.com, Moving: meelheimsmoving.com. Knowledge base: nolo.com, Personal Knowledge

 

 

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Essential Business Reads

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Welcome back, it’s time for another FBS blog post! Listed below are a few of my favorite business books (in no particular order). These books have provided me with inspiration, knowledge, and positivity. All things that I believe are essential in anyone’s life. Although these books are business related, I truly believe that anyone can read them and learn a lot.

 

First on the list is The E-Myth Revisited  by Michael E. Gerber. Gerber speaks about why most small businesses fail and what to do about it. The author explains how every business needs three skill sets: 1. The entrepreneur (the dreamer and visionary), 2. The manager (the organizer) and 3. The technician (the worker). The technicians, who love what they do, decides to start a company on their own instead of making someone else rich (great!). Now the reason that this business will most likely fail is due to micromanaging by the technician (not so great). They will want to make sure everything is done the way they have always done it. Gerber explains the issue here and expands on what corrective action should be taken. It is a great book for anyone thinking of opening his or her own business. The E-Myth will teach you lessons that you would most likely learn the hard way.
The 4 Hour Workweek: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated) by Timothy Ferriss (what a title) may catch you off guard as you read it. Some of the things he preaches seem a bit outlandish at first, but will eventually strike a cord. The book is split into four sections: 1. Defining your goal and figuring out what you really want (and for those of you who cannot decide, he helps you figure it out), 2. Eliminate your distractions by learning how to be effective instead of just efficient, 3. Automate your cash flow, resulting in an increase of income and finally, 4. Liberate yourself by increasing mobility. He speaks about how he went from monotonously working for someone else for 40 hours a week to starting his own business and working 80 hours a week. The 4 Hour Workweek tells you the story of how he eventually transformed his life to working just a few hours a week while also making money and enjoying life. This book will inspire you to take charge of your life. If you work at a deadbeat job that doesn’t appreciate your work or if you are struggling to live your life while running your own business, The 4 Hour Workweek is for you.
Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki is one of the first business books I ever heard about. A friend introduced it to me when I was unsure of where my professional life would take me after college. It is the story of the author and a comparison of his “rich dad” and “poor dad.” It just so happens that his biological father, who has a doctorate, went to Ivy League universities, believes in working hard and saving money was the “poor dad.” Who would have thought? All the while, his “rich dad” (his friend’s father) who dropped out of school in the eighth grade builds an entrepreneurial empire by using his financial literacy and street smarts. Kiyosaki walks you through his life experiences to offer you a new perspective. Some people have criticized him about whether he was completely truthful in his book, but his message is loud and clear no matter what. I still believe that this book is a must read for anyone.
Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. No, this is not the movie with Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis. This is a book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the essayist, scholar, statistician and risk analyst. The book dives into how unpredictable severe events are and how people underestimate their significance. These events are referred to as Black Swans. The three attributes that define Black Swan events are those that are irregular, have an extreme impact, and are eventually explainable (only in hindsight). Taleb’s writing style is very smooth and easy to read. You really feel like you are there with him when he explains some of his life stories. The Sunday Times even placed the Black Swan among the 12 most influential books after WWII.
Hold: How to Find, Buy, and Rent Houses for Wealth by Steve Chader is my usual real estate plug-in. Hold is the opposite of a get rich quick book, rather it focus’ on how one can create a lifetime of wealth through rental real estate investments. The book also comes along with downloadable content that puts the book into better perspective. As some of you know, along with business consulting, I have been heavily involved with rental real estate properties for years. This book has played an important role in my recent real estate knowledge while also continuing to offer inspiration.
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Al Switzler and Ron McMillan explains a skill that is very important in business, communication. In work settings, it is not uncommon that you will come across a number of critical conversations. Whether this be about a raise, a business deal or even heated conversations with a business partner it is vital for you to know how to approach the subject. I have experienced instances at my old jobs where tensions were high due to deadlines and cooler minds have prevailed. This book goes over certain techniques that will allow you to have a leg up in these instances.

This will likely be the beginning of a series as I have learned so many things from business books. I chose the above reads for this post as they cover a variety of topics. It is important to read inspirational books that spread positivity when working at the conventional job or owning your own business. They will motivate you to do better by providing a new perspective. Who knows, a book can be the final push that will change your life forever.

I will now leave you with a quote that I like from Oscar Wilde,

 

 “Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.