In business and in life, we face outside pressure to conform every day, so it's not always easy to stay true to yourself. But for these successful entrepreneurs and advisors in The Oracles, being unique is exactly what led them to greatness. Here's how to follow in their footsteps.
1. Choose your own path.
My greatest strength in business is my ability to combine my gut instincts with fearless decision-making. I am not a conformist and can rationally determine a new course for myself that no one else is able to see. I'm extremely decisive and passionately execute my choices to ensure that I am on the right path. It's not just OK to be unique — it's essential.
— Bethenny Frankel, entrepreneur and philanthropist; founder of the Skinnygirl lifestyle brand and the charity BStrong, New York Times bestselling author, and Shark on "Shark Tank"; follow Bethenny on Twitter and Instagram
2. Self-awareness is worth more than intelligence or work ethic.
You have to be unique to be successful — because we're all unique. But we aren't all self-aware, which is the best attribute you can have — even more than being smart or hardworking. Self-awareness is about knowing what you're good at and what you like, accepting your shortcomings, and accentuating your strengths. When you understand who you are, you can choose who you become.
Too many people fear failure because of what others will think, which is the No. 1 thing that holds people back. I'm successful because I'm being myself. But so many of you do so many things better than I do. So stick to your DNA and focus on what you dominate. We all have something special. Don't live your life hoping and wishing you were something else.
3. Don’t wait to live on your terms.
Before becoming an entrepreneur, I moved to New York to fulfill my dream of being an actor. I took the starving artist approach that you're "supposed" to do, accepting any role for any amount of money, even if it meant selling my soul. I thought being miserable, broke, and objectified was the only way. I landed an awesome role co-hosting a VH1 show, but I was portraying myself as someone who couldn't have been more inauthentic to who I truly was. When the show was cancelled, I was forced to take a hard look at my life. I knew there had to be a way to fulfill my passion in a manner that helped others. I wanted to bring more to the world and was done waiting for opportunities and approval.
I decided to reinvent what success looked like for me, not anyone else. I went against the grain and was true to who I wanted to be. It was scary and uncomfortable, but I created a life and career beyond my wildest dreams. Now I get to perform, innovate, and help people — and I'm paid well. Be true to who you are, even if it means going against pressure from others, and the opportunities, relationships, and money will flow!
— Jen Gottlieb, co-founder and chief mindset officer at Super Connector Media and host of Unfair Advantage live, a premier publicity event connecting entrepreneurs to the media; follow Jen on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
4. Great ideas only work if you consistently work at them.
Most people are afraid to do things differently, but I believe that's why I've been successful. Everyone told me that I could never both be a successful day trader and travel the world. But with consistency and time, that's exactly what I did. You get to the top of a mountain by taking one step at a time. Great ideas only work if you consistently work at them. It's much better to try something and fail than to spend the rest of your life wondering if you could've done it.
If you believe in yourself, see the possibility in your vision, and are willing to make the necessary sacrifices, then go for it. You also need self-awareness. Be willing to learn who you are and be honest with yourself about what you are and are not capable of. The more success you find as you try new things outside the norm, the more you'll develop belief in yourself.
5. Do whatever it takes to do things your way.
To fund their growth, many businesses take on investors who only care about profit margins — which also means taking on their beliefs, opinions, and feedback. When launching Fit Body Boot Camp, I wanted to make the decisions and look out for my franchisees and clients. So I chose to fund the company myself, even though it meant emptying my bank accounts, selling our house, growing slower, and working harder.
I'm open to doing things differently and think outside the box. I'm also very polarizing and unafraid to share my opinion publicly. If you're honest about who you are and what you believe in, you'll attract the right people. Those who don't like me won't be a good fit anyway. This has built a lot of trust and ultimately led to our success. I'm often told that it's refreshing to hear someone openly speak their mind and care more about people than profit.
6. Take risks and follow your passion.
I worked in the pressure and politics of the corporate world for 15 years. But the work didn't always reflect my passion, so I turned down a lucrative offer to continue up the ladder and decided to start MeasuredRisk instead. Now I'm much happier. You can't hide from yourself forever. If you're unhappy, change your path. Figure out what you enjoy and are good at, then try it. It's worth taking a shot at something if you're passionate about it. You can always go back to what you were doing or do something else.
If you can't quit your job, start a side hustle; but don't let society tell you who to be. Too many people grind away for money, dying of heart attacks because they sacrificed themselves and their health. I believe if we were all more honest with ourselves about what we want, we would find the best path to make it happen. Life is short and it's meant to be lived.
7. Listen to your inner guidance.
We all have a voice inside that nudges us toward alignment and gets louder the closer we get to a "hell yes" or "hell no." We just have to be willing to listen to it and act on it.
Long before I became successful, I knew I had to trust that voice and create my own path. Whenever I ignored my intuition, listened to "gurus," and followed the rules, any success was overshadowed by how drained I felt. I realized the only way was to make it up as I go and follow my soul. In the end, success came down to simply listening to that voice, even when it seemingly made no sense. When we simply trust and say yes, the "how" will reveal itself.
— Katrina Ruth, founder and CEO of "The Katrina Ruth Show," a multimillion-dollar online coaching business for entrepreneurs; connect with Katrina on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube; read more about Ruth: She Chose Tattoos Over Traditional Success. Why Katrina Ruth Refuses to Be Anything But Herself.
8. Take the unconventional approach.
If you want to be popular, conform. If you want to be effective, listen to what you know in your gut is the right thing to do. "Don't try that unconventional approach. It's never been done. You'll embarrass yourself." Colleagues told me that so many times in legal cases — and they were right a few times. But most of the time, the critics were wrong and I got truly wonderful and unconventional results for my clients. They deserved that I fight fiercely for them.
If you're worried about what others think, you'll never discover the greatness inside of you. You were born to do what you do. Even though every decision won't be perfect, you can't go wrong when you're true to yourself.
— Nafisé Nina Hodjat, Esq., founder and managing attorney of The SLS Firm
9. Refuse to settle for less than what’s right.
Personally and professionally, my greatest successes have come from my resilience under pressure. Years ago, our software team was having trouble. I was told the situation couldn't be fixed, but I refused to accept defeat. I stepped in, ingrained myself in the team, and handled all the issues. Now the business is thriving, with big clients like IBM, FedEx, and AT&T, all because I refused to settle for less than what's right.
Operate with fearlessness and never let your circumstances become bigger than you are. Connect with people and share pieces of your inner world. Vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness. It takes courage to be real. Do whatever it takes to demonstrate your value to your company. Make yourself an indispensable friend and advisor that your client or boss can't do without. Like everything in life, business is about trust — so earn it and never take it for granted.
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