In a recent column I found myself quoting a man I met nearly 30 years ago. I didn't just use one of his quotes, actually, I found I have been quoting him regularly without even thinking about it. That man is Tom Hopkins, author of more than 20 books including Selling For Dummies.

Hopkins has been helping sales people and executives achieve success for more nearly 4 decades and his advice never grows old.  I was lucky enough to sit down for a rare personal conversation with Tom last week and get him to share his insights. We discussed which success actions seem to surprise people the most. We agreed that these were 10 of the most effective tips:

1.    Covet your time. Time is precious--only 86,400 seconds in a day.  Average people waste most of those seconds in unproductive or unrewarding ways.  Successful people manage their time efficiently.  They are aware of how they spend it and make conscious choices to use it wisely whether to work, relax or regenerate with family.

2.    Have a personal mission statement. Hopkins has his personal mission statement at his desk: I must do the most productive thing possible at every given moment. Mine is peppered throughout my published writing: Inspire people to pursue the awesome experience. Successful people identify what they are about and make their choices accordingly.

3.    Spend 5 minutes a day prioritizing. Without prioritization, it's difficult to be efficient and productive. Hopkins suggests taking 5 minutes at the end of every day to sit down, assess and choose the 5 or 6 priorities for tomorrow so you can begin with clarity.  Successful people don't squander effort and energy on unimportant issues.

4.    Surround yourself with likeminded people.  Wealth, status and accomplishment have their own rewards, but the more success you attain, the lonelier you can become, since others may no longer feel comfortable or relate to your lifestyle. Successful people are careful about who shares their time.  They look for people with a similar outlook, who can help them grow emotionally and spiritually.

5.    Be a follow up specialist. Many people talk a good game and then never deliver. Sometimes the cause is hypocrisy and sometimes it's simply being sloppy and careless. Successful people do what they say they'll do, and they pay close attention to detail so small issues don't get neglected and become major catastrophes.

6.    Take the best of the past to create the future. The world is full of shiny new toys and methods. It's easy for humanity to get lost in the glitz and glamour of modern technology.  Successful people embrace modern tools for communication efficiency and continue to use traditional and rare methods like handwritten thank-you notes to enhance connections.

7.    Don't be a lemming. If you are always heading the same direction as everyone else, you may move forward, but you'll have little control of your destiny. Successful people often figure out what everyone else does only to do the opposite, which many times puts them ahead of the pack.

8.    Keep a thick skin about rejection. For many each no is like taking a punch in the gut or a slap in the face. The way to get up and keep going is to remember that it's just business. Successful people know that the key to getting life's few brilliant "yeses" is to positively cope with the many "noes" you get on the way to receiving them.

9. Make others feel important. The greatest craving of most people today is recognition. Unfortunately, so many people are so tightly focused on their own status and problems they are ignorant to the needs of others.  Successful people recognize, support and encourage others on their journey, which brings synergy, energy and satisfaction to all involved.

10. Strive for more. Tom Hopkin's overall philosophy for success can be best summed up by his commitment on how to live life:

"I commit to learn more,
thus I'll serve more,
thus I'll build more,
thus I'll earn more,
thus I'll save more,
thus I'll be able to bless others by giving more."

Thank you for blessing us with your wisdom Tom.

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