Most days, I simply want to be happy and feel like I am successful at what I do. Achieving those seemingly straightforward goals is easier said than done, so I'm always looking for good insights about how to do it.

I searched it and found great ideas from famous icons like Warren Buffet to Stanford Deans, Navy Seals, and even Mark Zuckerberg's dad. There's science to being happy and successful as well as research studies that highlight critical things that can get in the way of happiness and success.

Sometimes, though, we get our best insights from sources closest to us. For me, when he was alive, that was my dad. He was a 40-year veteran of the corporate world who grew up dirt poor in Brooklyn, New York, and ultimately owned a small manufacturing business.

He certainly wasn't famous. Although in our small circle, friends from high school, college, graduate school, and work always found ways to pretend that they wanted to hang out with me just so that they could get a chance to talk to him and get his unique perspectives.

He was a bigger than life character who earned the endearing nickname of "Max the Axe" for his boldness to make hard and unpopular decisions. Or maybe it was for his willingness to fire people who weren't pulling their weight, which made him incredibly popular with those who came to work to actually work hard.

So why should anyone have to pretend to want to hang out with me just to get to hear words of wisdom from Max the Axe? Here they are, straight from The Axe's mouth, in his own old school words:

  1. Do not put off to tomorrow what you can do today. Unsuccessful people will do the opposite. Procrastination is the ultimate form of laziness.
  2. Do things the right way. It will always be harder. We all know what the right way is. Successful people do not spend time convincing themselves to do things the easy way simply because they do not want to put in the effort.
  3. Do the hard things first. Then go out and play without worry. Unsuccessful people will do the opposite.
  4. Whatever you choose to do, give it everything you have. Anything less is a waste of your own time, which you will never get back.
  5. Don't read just one book on a subject. Purposely read books that take completely different points of view on the same subject. Then you will be educated.
  6. You make your own luck through hard work, persistence, and taking advantage of opportunities around you.
  7. There are opportunities everywhere, but you have to be looking for them. Most great opportunities are not obvious. If they were, everyone would take advantage of them.
  8. Never use the expressions "should have", "could have", "would have", or "wish I had." Take your hits and move forward.
  9. Finish what you start. Always. It becomes systematically easier to quit in the middle every time you do it.
  10. Keep your promises to people. When you commit to doing something for someone, do it at all costs.
  11. There are good things in everything. Look to find the good things instead of complaining about the bad things. Most people do the opposite because it is easier to complain about what is wrong than to find what is right.
  12. Be respectful to people and give them the benefit of the doubt. They will reciprocate. If they don't, you don't need them.
  13. Find one good thing you are going to do for someone else every day, and do it. Prioritize that thing over something you would do for yourself. You'll find that it is far more fulfilling than anything you could have done for yourself anyway.
  14. Attitude over everything else. People with bad attitudes get bad results and often complain that it is not their fault. Only people with great attitudes have the potential to get great results.
  15. Always learn from the past, but don't dwell on it. Always plan for the future, but don't miss out on living in the now. Your life is a one-time ride.
  16. There is always a way. If you want something badly enough, find a way to do it. No exceptions. No excuses.