Success means different things to different people. For me, it means being in control of my own destiny, being financially secure, and helping others achieve their goals. How do you achieve the success that you desire? Is there a secret recipe? Is there a road map?
The noise on the internet -- all of the people selling services, programs, and classes -- makes it seem so simple. Everyone has a formula for success, if you're willing to pay them for it.
In my early 20s, I thought I just needed to have one good idea, and I'd be set. Now, 40 years later, I know that's not enough -- not even close. On the road, I meet far too many creative individuals who are banking on just that. As a lifelong entrepreneur who has brought dozens of products to market, I feel I need to speak up.
Don't get me wrong. Early on, being naive and having hope were crucial. They helped me hang on and stay motivated while I learned how to complete the recipe for my success.
If you want to make it as an entrepreneur, a product developer, and an inventor -- yes, you're going to need one good idea. And so much more!
I've achieved my definition of success.
Here's the recipe that me got me here.
Develop an incredible work ethic. To achieve anything, you need to be consistent. You need to approach your work with a sense of determination and persistence, because you're going to have to work longer than you expect. Schedule your time and adhere to your plan.
Basically, there are no shortcuts. You need to put in the work, especially when it feels unending. Don't take your foot off the pedal. You may be much closer to a breakthrough than you realize at the time.
For this magazine, I most often write about how to license an idea. What many people don't realize about licensing is that you're not in the game -- you haven't even really begun -- until you are contacting potential licensees about your product idea. The most successful inventors are the ones who tackle this step ferociously. They contact every company on their hit list and follow up consistently until they hear back. When potential licensees have questions or concerns, they address them quickly.
Always be a student. Put another way, never stop learning. Read as much as you can on the topics that interest you, surround yourself with like-minded individuals, ask a tremendous amount of questions, and don't let yourself become complacent. Stoke your curiosity. Education is one of the best ways to invest in yourself.
Reward yourself. It's a marathon. Don't wait for success to come. If you wait that long, you're going to miss out on life. Enjoy each day of your journey -- the struggles and each little obstacle as much as each little success.
Here's some hard-won insight. Once you reach that mountaintop you've been envisioning, you will realize the view from up there is not as great as you thought it was going to be. The journey is the reward.
Rewarding yourself can take many forms. For me, and other creative people, I think it means to keep creating new ideas. To have fun, regardless of what you've accomplished.
Help others. When you help others, you help yourself. And trust me, to reach that mountaintop, you're going to need a lot of support from people who hold you up. There is great joy to be found in helping others achieve their definition of success. In a way, it's your success as well! There is genuine magic in giving back. Discover it!
Contribute to your community by helping shape it. I have learned so much more about inventing because I decided long ago to make it my mission to help inventors.
Have a sense of urgency, but don't rush. Take a deep breath. Then another one. Especially when you're considering making a rash decision. It's not all about you.
When we rush, we create collateral damage. It's not worth it.
Protect yourself. You know, it's funny. I'm always hearing from inventors who are concerned about protecting their ownership of their ideas. In some ways, that's small thinking. Because at the end of the day, what you really need to protect is your creativity. Do not let the business side of bringing your ideas to market squash, diminish, or reduce your ability to be naive, childlike, and curious.
If you can protect your creativity, you'll never work a day in your life and you will never retire, because bringing products to market is just too much fun. So, learn to wear two different hats: business and creative. And don't confuse them.
Be likable. Likability counts for a lot. In other words, it's not all about your idea. Sometimes, it does not make one bit of difference how great your idea is. If you are unreasonable, people will avoid you regardless of how brilliant you are. Listen to the input of others. Be flexible.
Keep improving. Constantly work on yourself. Your health, your nutrition -- anything that you're particularly weak in. There's great value in setting goals for yourself in all parts of your life, not just business. This is something I am currently focused on doing in my own life.
Make friends. Relationships with others are extremely important. Find mentors. Mine is Steve Askin, who I was fortunate to meet in my early 20s when I really needed guidance. I consider him a very good friend 40 years later. We all need encouragement and fellowship. You cannot do this alone. Don't try.
So, there it is. My recipe for success, perfected over 40 years. I hope there are a few ingredients here that help you along with your one simple idea.