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A Special Friend

In 1919 a young man, recovering from injuries suffered in World War I, rented a small apartment in Chicago. He chose the location to be near the home of a man named Sherwood Anderson. An author, Anderson had written the popular novel Winesboro, Ohio, and he was known to be willing to share his wisdom with young writers.

The two men spent time together nearly every day. They shared meals, took long walks, and discussed writing late into the night. The young man wrote passages and asked Anderson to critique them, which the novelist did with brutal honesty. The young man didn’t defend himself or his writing because, as he said later, “I didn’t know how to write until I learned from Sherwood.”

Within two years, the young man set off to write on his own. In 1926 he published his first novel, The Sun Also Rises, which was met with critical acclaim. His name was Ernest Hemingway – one of the greatest American writers of his generation.

But the story doesn’t end there. Sherwood Anderson also mentored William Faulkner, Thomas Wolfe, William Saroyan, and John Steinbeck. Three of Anderson’s proteges earned Nobel Prizes; four won Pulitzer Prizes.

Why did Sherwood Anderson help aspiring new writers? Perhaps because he himself had been mentored by the famed authors, Theodore Dreiser and Carl Sandburg.

In like manner, the Old Testament prophet Elisha was mentored by Elijah. In the New Testament, Timothy was mentored by Paul. I suggest that each of us needs a Paul (mentor) and a Timothy (mentee) in our lives.

What about you?

The Rushmore Report: Ten Secrets to Great Wealth

If you Google “millionaire” and “secrets,” you get more than 10 million results. I’m a veteran of the technology industry, and have spent decades studying successful leaders. I’m talking about hundreds of men and women who have become wildly successful. These are their secrets. If you want to enjoy great success financially, or otherwise, practice these steps carefully.

1. Quit reading dumb articles like this one.

Think I’m kidding? This is so not funny. None of those hundreds or thousands of successful people I’ve known wasted their time on nonsense like “the secrets of millionaires.” Quit searching for miracle solutions and silver bullets; there aren’t any.

2. Reach beyond your grasp.

Perhaps the most brilliant advice in history is Robert Browning’s famous quote, “A man’s reach should not exceed his grasp.” If you want to be successful, you have to consistently strive to tackle tough problems. There are no wealthy slackers. None.

3. Make good choices.

Becoming successful is all about making good choices. Listen to smart, accomplished people, but in the end, trust your gut.

4. Always pay down your debt.

Better still, stay out of debt. There are exceptions. It’s okay to have a mortgage, but pay it down as soon as you can. And everyone needs a car, but they don’t need a new car.

5. Work in a high-demand, low-supply field.

It’s sort of funny how the most basic economic principle, the law of supply and demand, eludes most people. It’s so simple. Demand is proportional to price. More competition means less income and wealth. It’s that simple.

6. Learn to do one thing better than anyone else.

It doesn’t matter whether you learn it in school or on the job; strive to be better than anyone else at just one thing. You do that by accomplishing one thing at a time. It helps a lot if that one thing is something you love to do.

7. Be a raging workaholic.

Look I’m not saying you can’t have a family and fun. I do. But every wealthy person is also a hard worker with a strong work ethic. In other words, they get the job done, meet their commitments, and set a fine example for others.

8. Prioritize, focus, be disciplined.

Forget all the books and blogs about personal productivity and self-improvement. All you have to do is know your priorities, focus on what matters, and be disciplined about it.

9. Get equity.

Salary pays the bills, but saving money is challenging and it’s always tempting to dip into the cookie jar. Equity from stock, options, or business ownership solves that problem because it’s not liquid. In other words, you can’t spend it. Just don’t squander it when you can. Instead of cashing out, diversify your investments.

10. Don’t do what everyone else is doing.

The key message from my new book, Real Leaders Don’t Follow, is that nobody ever got ahead by doing what everyone else is doing. Nobody. Unfortunately, social media promotes cultural conformity, herd mentality, and dopey fads like nobody’s business. Leaders lead. Followers follow. You can’t do both.

About the Author

Steve Tobak is a management consultant, executive coach, columnist, and author of Real Leaders Don’t Follow.

Coca-Cola

In 1997, one of the finest business leaders in the world died. His name was Roberto Goizueta, and he was the chairman and chief executive of the Coca-Cola Company. A few months before he died, he said, “A billion hours ago, human life appeared on Earth. A billion minutes ago, Christianity emerged. A billion seconds ago, the Beatles performed on The Ed Sullivan Show. A billion Coca-Colas ago . . . was yesterday morning.

He told the Atlanta newspaper he had no plans for retirement. Six weeks later, he was dead. And so was Coca-Cola. Or was it?

Normally, when the CEO suddenly goes away, the company goes in the tank. But not so with Coke. Goizueta had grown Coke from a $4 billion company to a $150 billion company. But he did something more important than that. He groomed Douglas Ivester to take his place, if and when the need would arise. Goizueta taught Ivester everything he knew, just in case. And “in case” happened. It always does.

You see, the key to your success in any venture is not what you do, but what you prepare others to do. Paul mastered this concept, and he told Titus to do the same. He understood the importance of finding good men and training them to lead the next generation.

 

Standing Watch

“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me” (Ezekiel 33:7).

A lot of people assume that part of being a real man is handling life on our own. This distorted view of independence makes sense when we look at Hollywood’s examples of manhood. We see Rambo, armed only with his hunting knife and M60 machine gun. We see Jason Bourne with his spy-bred wit and martial arts expertise.

Using a military metaphor, the prophet Ezekiel points out the errors in thinking this way. He reminds us that we face a true spiritual battle and that – whether or not we admit it – we need help on the battlefield. And just as God places Ezekiel on guard to stand over Israel, we also need friends who care about us to stand watch in our lives.

Leadership guru Stephen Covey says, “Accountability breeds responsibility.” We were never intended to live the Christian life in isolation. We are part of a bigger family and a bigger picture. We need accountability. Someone needs to man the watch tower for us. They need to have our back. Who has your back today?

The Rushmore Report: Four Things Leaders Do

Leadership is not complicated. While much has been written on the subject in recent years, four basic principles are clear. Leadership is not about what you know, but what you do. Effective leaders do four things well.

1. Listen. A leader who will not listen to the people he (or she) leads will eventually find himself without great people to lead. Team members will leave and go to a place where their feedback is not only welcomed, but valued.

2. Learn. A leader who is not a learner will eventually be surpassed by people who are simply hungrier than he is.

3. Limit. If your church (or department or company) is ever going to achieve its maximum potential, it has to get past your personal preferences. If you are the only one who is allowed to take a risk on an innovative idea, you are the lid on your church’s (or department’s or company’s) ability to succeed.

4. Love. A leader who does not love the people he (or she) leads will eventually wind up leading a group of robots who do the work, but do not care about it. Or even worse, he will find himself leading a group of people who operate out of fear and manipulation. Leaders who love people are leaders who leave a legacy.

About the Author

Perry Noble is the Founding and Senior Pastor of NewSpring Church in Anderson South Carolina, which averages 30,000 in weekend attendance. His recent book, The Most Excellent Way to Lead, reveals his thoughts on leadership, church, ministry, relationships, and current events. To learn more about Perry and his ministry, visit his website at www.perrynoble.com.

America’s Top Ten Most Important People – Ever

Nothing starts a good argument like a debate over the best presidents, actors, or athletes. So let’s go all in, with a top ten list to beat all top ten lists – the top ten most important, most influential Americans – ever. I’ll begin with the ones who don’t make my totally unscientific list: Harry Truman, the Wright Brothers, Eli Whitney, Jonas Salk, Jackie Robinson, Susan B. Anthony, Thurgood Marshall, Ernest Hemingway, Benjamin Spock, Franklin Roosevelt, Alexander Hamilton, Teddy Roosevelt, Andrew Jackson, Thomas Paine, Andrew Carnegie, Ronald Reagan, Albert Einstein, Robert E. Lee, Thomas Jefferson, John Rockefeller, James Madison, Alexander Graham Bell, Sam Walton, Noah Webster, Ben Franklin, Billy Graham, and Walt Disney. So here’s my list. May the arguments around the water coolers begin . . .

1. George Washington. He made the United States possible. He defeated a king while refusing to be one himself. He is the father of our country. Case closed.

2. Abraham Lincoln. The man saved the Union, freed the slaves, and presided over America’s second founding. We will resist the temptation to fill this list with presidents, but we had to start with Washington and Lincoln. That was easy. Now it gets tough.

3. Thomas Edison. It wasn’t just the light bulb. The Wizard of Menlo Park was the most prolific inventor in American history, credited with the phonograph, motion picture camera, and 1,093 U.S. patents.

4. Martin Luther King, Jr. His dream of racial equality is driving the national debate to this day. But no one did more to make it real. He was a Baptist minister, social activist, and preacher of the iconic speech, “I have a dream.”

5. Bill Gates. He is the Rockefeller of the Information Age, in both business and philanthropy. Worth $78.9 billion, Gates co-founded Microsoft in 1975. The wealthiest man in the world is the best-known entrepreneur of the personal computer revolution.

6. Henry Ford. He gave us the assembly line in 1913, and the Model T, sparking America’s love affair with the automobile. Ford gave us large production plants and became one of the most influential men in the industrial world.

7. Mark Twain. The author of our national epic, he was the most unsentimental observer of our national life. Author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Samuel Clemens is known for his classic wit and wisdom.

8. Jonathan Edwards. Forget the fire and brimstone; his subtle eloquence made him the country’s most influential theologian. He preached the famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” and played a major role in the First Great Awakening, making Edwards arguably the most influential religious leader in our history.

9. Elvis Presley. He was the king of rock and roll and the most influential musician of the 20th century, receiving a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at the old age of 36. The “king” still rules, 38 years after his death.

10. Babe Ruth. He saved America’s pastime in the wake of the Black Sox scandal – and permanently linked sports to celebrity. The “sultan of swat” may not even be the best baseball player ever (that would be Willie Mays), but he is the most iconic. To this day, Yankee Stadium is known as “The House that Ruth Built,” 80 years after he hit his last home run.