Todd Herman grew up playing with the big kids. His parents ran the family farm in Alberta, Canada, and raised their four children. There was little time for driving to activities, so to simplify the schedule Herman played on the same sports teams as his older brother. It could be rough going up against kids who were two or three years older, he remembers, but he knew his parents wouldn't brook any excuses -- and he saw it as a chance to beat his brother.
Herman became an entrepreneur at the age of 8. Walking along the railroad tracks with a cousin, kicking at rocks and wondering if they could derail a train by putting one on the tracks -- "not such a smart idea but at the time it felt like fun," he says -- he noticed a rock that glistened gold in the sun.
After discovering more glittering rocks, the two made a cardboard sign that read "Big Gold -- $25. Little Gold -- $15" and took the rocks in a wagon to the nearest dirt road. About 15 minutes later an elderly couple pulled over and paid $25 for a 'Big Gold.' The jubilant partners closed up the business and headed to the corner store -- three miles away -- for candy.
Herman says the experience taught him there was always opportunity at his feet. He just needed to pay attention to it.
He went on to play football for a year at the University of Alberta in Edmonton before poor grades forced him to leave school -- unsurprisingly, since he spent his time starting an online business --that eventually failed -- instead of going to classes. But the lesson of those early sports teams stuck with him, and he refused to back down from even the biggest challenge.
Today, you can find Herman helping ambitious athletes and business people build success with his online '90 Day Year' training programs and live workshops around the globe. But he says his greatest source of pride is being a dad to his daughters, Molly and Sophie, and his newborn son, Charlie. He describes his wife, Valerie, as his biggest supporter.
But part of Herman's path to success involves a few simple rules he developed for himself:
1. Relationships are everything. Herman remember reading that business magnate Armand Hammer spent $50,000 a month in long-distance phone calls. Viewing that fact against Hammer's success, he came to understand that relationships make the path easier.
2. Effort is important. He describes a time when he focused on trying to find the shortcuts and easy way, an approach he says wasted a lot of prime years. It wasn't until he just started doing the work that things began to come together.
3. Always have mentors. Always have mentors. It's one thing to have relationships, says Herman, but "it's another to tuck yourself under the wing of a giant and experience their world." His mentors, he says, "accelerated me into levels of success that would've taken a decade plus to do on my own." He even created a wildly popular guidebook for others to use when finding mentors.
4. Luck is about recognizing opportunity. Herman believes in making your own luck. "By using mentors, by doing the work, by showing up, by building a network of relationships, I tried to have as many seeds floating on the winds of opportunity as possible. And some of my biggest moments in business were a by-product of being lucky. Right place, right time and right relationships."
5. Saying yes to everything. "In sport, we talk about vision a lot," says Herman. "But it has a specific connotation. When a hockey player can see the play develop before it happens . . . we call it ice vision. The same goes for basketball players, except we call it court vision. This only happens when someone really knows their sport, has a lot of experience and can play the game with active patience --a hyper awareness with a relaxed mind. And the more I exposed myself to more businesses, more people, more cultures, etc., the more developed a better strategic vision of life.
6. Be relentless. Herman remembers a sixth-grade demonstration showing the force of running water on even large, immovable rocks. "I knew I wasn't going to be the most talented person," he says, "but I also knew that other people were going to quit at some point. And I'd still be there when they did."
Todd Herman understands the entrepreneurial heart, he brings it to everything he does so he can be successful.