The best 15 states to live in if you want to get rich

Hartford, Connecticut

Hartford, Connecticut

Where do the wealthiest Americans live?

According to a recent report by GOBankingRates, Connecticut is the nation’s richest state.

The personal finance site determined the most financially successful states by analyzing seven factors: the average income of the top 1%; the average income of the bottom 99%; poverty rates; the percentage of the population in the upper, middle, and lower classes; the number of millionaire households; the percentage of millionaire households; and the number of billionaires.

Of course, we can’t promise you’ll strike it rich if you move to — or live in — one of these states, but you’re bound to be surrounded by financially successful individuals.

Here, we’ve highlighted the top 15 states, according to GOBankingRates. Read on to see if yours made the cut.

15. Colorado

Average income of top 1%: $1.1 million

Population in upper class: 22%

Percentage of millionaire households: 5.5%

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Colorado Springs, Colorado

14. Hawaii

Average income of top 1%: $690,073

Population in upper class: 17%

Percentage of millionaire households: 7.2%
Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii M Swiet Productions | Getty Images
Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

13. New York

Average income of top 1%: $2 million

Population in upper class: 19%

Percentage of millionaire households: 5.8%
New York City Getty Images

Getty Images

Getty Images

12. Minnesota

Average income of top 1%: $1.04 million

Population in upper class: 24%

Percentage of millionaire households: 5.6%
St. Paul, Minnesota Culbertson | Getty Images
St. Paul, Minnesota

St. Paul, Minnesota

St. Paul, Minnesota

11. Wyoming

Average income of top 1%: $2.12 million

Population in upper class: 21%

Percentage of millionaire households: 5.2%
Jackson Hole, Wyoming Price Chambers | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

10. Virginia

Average income of top 1%: $987,607

Population in upper class: 26%

Percentage of millionaire households: 6.6%
Richmond, Virginia Richard Cummins | Getty Images
Richmond, Virginia

Richmond, Virginia

Richmond, Virginia


9. North Dakota

Average income of top 1%: $1.28 million

Population in upper class: 25%

Percentage of millionaire households: 4.6%
Fargo, North Dakota Daniel Barry | Getty Images
Fargo, North Dakota

Fargo, North Dakota

Fargo, North Dakota

8. Alaska

Average income of top 1%: $833,117

Population in upper class: 25%

Percentage of millionaire households: 6.8%
Ketchikan Harbour in Alaska Loop Images | UIG | Getty Images
Ketchikan Harbour in Alaska

Ketchikan Harbour in Alaska

Ketchikan Harbour in Alaska

7. California

Average income of top 1%: $1.41 million

Population in upper class: 19%

Percentage of millionaire households: 6.0%
Los Angeles David Sucsy | Getty Images
Los Angeles

Los Angeles

Los Angeles

6. Washington, DC

Average income of top 1%: $1.53 million

Population in upper class: 34%

Percentage of millionaire households: 6.1%
Washington, D.C. Allen Baxter | Getty Images
Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C

Washington, D.C

5. New Hampshire

Average income of top 1%: $1.01 million

Population in upper class: 23%

Percentage of millionaire households: 6.50%
Portsmouth, New Hampshire Loop Images | UIG | Getty Images
Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

4. Massachusetts

Average income of top 1%: $1.69 million

Population in upper class: 28%

Percentage of millionaire households: 6.7%
Paul Revere in Boston, Massachusetts Paul Giamou | Getty Images
Paul Revere in Boston, Massachusetts

Paul Revere in Boston, Massachusetts

Paul Revere in Boston, Massachusetts

3. New Jersey

Average income of top 1%: $1.45 million

Population in upper class: 25%

Percentage of millionaire households: 7.5%
Jersey City, New Jersey Getty Images
Jersey City, New Jersey

Jersey City, New Jersey

Jersey City, New Jersey

2. Maryland

Average income of top 1%: $1.02 million

Population in upper class: 26%

Percentage of millionaire households: 7.7%
Downtown Baltimore, Maryland Greg Pease | Getty Images
Downtown Baltimore, Maryland

Downtown Baltimore, Maryland

Downtown Baltimore, Maryland

1. Connecticut

Average income of top 1%: $2.4 million

Population in upper class: 27%

Percentage of millionaire households: 7.3%

Hartford, Connecticut

Hartford, Connecticut


19 Tiny Habits That Lead To Huge Results

Success starts with the little things.

CREDIT: Getty Images

CREDIT: Getty Images

Success doesn’t happen in an instant. It happens through the progression of lots of little successes, strung together over time.

If you want to build something big, if you have a vision, a dream, or even just a clearly defined end goal, then the question is not how you can make that happen right now, or tomorrow. The question is: “What habits can I put into place that will allow that end goal to manifest itself?”

1. Do what you say you’re going to do. Step 1 with anything: Less talk, more action.

2. Journal once per day. Even if it’s just a paragraph, or three sentences, or jeez, one sentence, but do a quick check-in to see where you’re at and write it down. Long term, this will keep you grounded and sane. It all starts with acknowledgement.

3. Never lie. As my grandma used to say, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!”

4. Always make time for your closest friends. A buddy of mine manages a few very, very successful music artists, and he told me once, “I’ve seen it: You could have all the money in the world, but if you traded your friends to get there, you won’t be happy.”

5. Practice your craft. What may just be a hobby now could one day be something very special. If you love it, practice it. Don’t be that 40 year old guy that says to every young person he or she meets, “I used to want to be a guitar player!” Well why aren’t you still playing then!

6. Go to the gym. Or the yoga studio. Or run up and down the block. Whatever. Just be physically active. There’s nothing sexy about not being able to walk up a flight of stairs.

7. Surround yourself with people who represent what you ultimately want to become. This is a habit and a choice. If you aren’t happy with where you’re at or where you’re going, take a hard look at the people around you. Chances are, they’re in a similar boat, and as long as you stay in that situation, neither of you are moving any time soon.

8. Read. Seriously. If the only reading you do is then you need to hit up Amazon and buy a Kindle.

9. Don’t just set goals–track them. Do you know what once of the most revealing things I’ve ever done for myself was? I made a project plan for my life. Yes. A project plan. And all the things I wanted to get done in the next 3 months, I planned them out like I would a marketing campaign (I’m not joking). But guess what? It showed me everything I needed to know, when things were due, and how much time I needed to spend on them in order to get them accomplished. Do this more often, and you’ll be amazed at how much you over-promise and under-deliver–and what needs to happen for you to fix that habit immediately.

10. Never eat alone. A great book, and an even better motto to live by. Make use of your lunches and dinners by sharing in conversation with people you can connect with, collaborate with, and learn from.

11. Dress for success. It’s cliché but true–you have more confidence when you feel good about the way you’re presenting yourself. Make it a habit to portray your best self.

12. Meditate & Reflect. In tandem with the journaling habit here, you need to make time to reflect. You can’t always be in go go go mode. Without reflection, you will not be able to properly integrate the lessons you’ve learning along the way.

13. Teach others. Even before you feel like you’re an “expert,” take the knowledge you’ve acquired and pass it along. Not only is it good for humanity, but you will learn whatever it is you’re teaching even more when you have to explain it to someone else.

14. Play. When was the last time you went to the beach? When was the last time you did something crazy, like parasailing? When was the last time you wrote a song on your ukulele? Take care of that inner child of yours and make time to play.

15. Eat healthy. What you eat is a habit. You’re going to set a habit and then repeat that habit daily for a very, very long time. Make that habit healthy for you and take care of you, not drag you down.

16. Check in with people of different ages. Make sure that you keep in touch with those both older and younger than you. They provide a much needed perspective.

17. See art. Nobody gets inspired sitting at a desk all day. Go to museums. Go watch movies. Go listen to live music. Go watch a mime on the street, or an acappella trio in the train station. Go out and get inspired!

18. Wake up when you say you’re going to wake up. When you set that alarm the night before, you’re promising to yourself you’re going to get up at that time. Keep that promise.

19. Read your Chief Aim aloud. Stealing from Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill here, write down whatever it is you want to build for yourself in life. And then every morning and every night, read that aloud. Out loud. Hear it in your voice and in your heart. Welcome it into the world.

What’s The Hardest Part About Being A Writer? This 1 Thing And 1 Thing Only

Who can relate?

CREDIT: Getty Images

CREDIT: Getty Images

Writer’s block.

The phrase has become a cultural symbol–meaning everything from feeling uninspired, to being creatively distraught and incapable of every producing anything worthwhile ever again.

It’s dramatic, to say the least.

But that’s about as far as the conversation typically goes. People proclaim, almost with great pride, “I have writer’s block! I can’t write!” as if this is a symbol of their hard work leading up to this point–their creative well running dry from producing too much brilliance.

Writing is an extremely under-appreciated and over-simplified art. The masses tend to think that writing is really just an extension of “knowing English” (or your native tongue), and that if you can speak, you can write.

While that’s great in theory, that’s like saying anyone with two eyes could be a designer.

The art of writing–and it’s subsequent conflict when the words don’t appear as they should–tends to get reduced down to 1 single component: You either have “writer’s block” or you don’t.

But where does the writer’s block come from?

Why did this imaginary, invisible blockade appear in the first place?

The reason why is as ethereal as the question itself: we all know, in general, where the “writer’s block” comes from–we just don’t want to admit it.

The hardest part about being a writer is the fact that everyone in your life thinks whatever you’re writing is about them.

That’s the truth–and as the artist, it’s a hard pill to swallow.

If you were a musician, and you composed a dark and haunting song in a minor key and played it for your closest friends, I’d wager their first thoughts would not be, “Oh, this in a minor key, and we had a fight last week, and I bet this song is about awful of a person I am!”

But if you’re a writer. Oh my, be prepared–before you’ve even finished the story, the essay, the paragraph even, you can see it in their eyes that they are full of wonder. It’s about them, isn’t it. Yes! It is! It has to be! There’s no way it’s not!

Right out the gate, no matter how much of a buffer you try to create, what with the descriptions and the adjectives and the setting, even still, the parallel will be drawn, and somehow, some way, whatever you’ve written will be, in the minds of each and every audience member, somehow about them.

Writing is unique in that these sorts of projects do not find their way into other art forms–the closest being music, but because of the lyrics–yes, the lyrics are about them!

Lyrics are writing.

When this imaginary “writer’s block” comes up, it’s worth questioning who you are imagining reading your work. Being creatively blocked is not your natural state. Something is trigger you from entering that state of flow where the words just fall onto the paper. So what is it? Who is reading your work? Whose judgment are you preemptively anticipating? Who do you fear will project themselves onto you and your writing, so much so that you can’t even get yourself to write it in the first place?

Like I said, the hardest part about being a writer is the fact that everyone in your life thinks whatever you’re writing is about them.

Sometimes, it is. Of course it is.

But most of the time, it’s not.

And unless your goal is to be a”writer” that never actually “writes anything,” you need to get over that. Fast.

Write from the heart, and let the opinions fall where they may.

How to Immediately Stop Being Average (at Anything)

It’s pretty simple when you think about it.

CREDIT Getty Images

CREDIT Getty Images

People think that being “average” at something is inherent. You’re either born “great” or you’re born average. And worse, once you become average, then you can no longer improve. They believe it’s set in stone and there’s nothing they can do about it. They are just, well, average.

Consider this…

The next time you walk into the office, and that little voice in your head says, “Oh yeah, I said I was going to spend my first 15 minutes organizing my calendar instead of browsing Facebook,” listen to that voice and do it.

And when you walk into your first meeting, and that little voice says, “Oh yeah, I said I wanted to become a better listener,” make it a point to listen to what others have to say before speaking up with your own opinions.

And when you get started on whatever big project you’re facing that day, and that little voice in your head says, “Oh yeah, I promised myself I would work on not being so distracted,” turn off all distractions and put yourself in a position to succeed.

When you leave the office and you think about what to have for dinner, and that little voice in your head says, “Well, I really want McDonald’s, but I said I was going to start eating healthier,” go to the grocery store and buy some chicken and vegetables to cook up instead.

And as you’re eating dinner, and that little voice in your head says, “I know I really should work on my startup idea,” instead of pouring yourself another glass of wine and turning on Netflix, make some tea and get to work.

And as you start to get ready for bed, and that little voice in your head says, “I said I wanted to get fit, but I couldn’t make it to the gym today,” then, even if you’re exhausted, listen to that voice and do four sets of pushups in the middle of your apartment.

When you hop in the shower, and that little voice in your head says, “I really should scrub behind my ears; I never scrub behind my ears,” listen to that voice and just scrub behind your ears, jeez.

As you fall into bed and reflect back on your day, you will see that “greatness” is not a destination. It is not a title. It is not some mountain peak you climb and then one day “attain.”

Greatness is a series of daily habits. It is a choice.

Which means if you want to stop being average, all you have to do is choose, in each and every moment, to listen to that little voice inside of you reminding you to be great.

15 Signs You’re Emotionally Intelligent (Without Even Realizing It)

How many of these describe you?
It’s all too easy to lose control of our emotions.

That’s why emotional intelligence (known as EI or EQ) is so important. The ability to identify emotions (in yourself and others), to understand their powerful effect, and to use that information to guide thinking and behavior, can greatly increase the chances of successfully achieving your goals.

Like any ability, the skills of emotional intelligence are sharpened with practice. But might you already possess a high EQ, without even knowing it?

Take a look at the following statements, and see if they describe your own behavior and habits:

1. You think about feelings. A lot.
EI begins with reflection. You ask questions like, “Why am I feeling this way?” and “What caused me (or someone else) to say or do that?”

By identifying emotions and reactions, you’ve become more mindful and use that information to your advantage.

2. You ask others for perspective.
You understand that others see you much differently than you see yourself. It’s not about right or wrong, rather, understanding how perceptions differ.

3. You say thank you.
It’s surprising how widespread the lack of common courtesy is nowadays.

But not from you. You recognize the power of those two small words to change someone’s day, and to strengthen relationships–and that’s why you always take a few extra moments to express appreciation.

4. You know when to pause.
“The pause” is as simple as taking a moment to stop and think before you act or speak. (Easy in theory, difficult in practice.)

Of course, nobody’s perfect. But the pause has prevented embarrassment on many occasions, made you a better worker, and even saved your relationships.

5. You explore the “why.”
Instead of labeling people, you realize there’s reasons behind everyone’s behavior.

By developing qualities like empathy and compassion, you work to see a situation through another person’s eyes. You ask questions like, “Why does this person feel this way?” and “What’s going on behind the scenes?”

By doing this, you’re able to relate to almost anyone.

6. You’re open to criticism.
Nobody enjoys receiving negative feedback, including you.

But you know well that much criticism contains at least some element of truth, even when it’s not delivered in an ideal manner. Additionally, criticism teaches you much about how others think.

So, you keep your emotions in check and learn as much as you can.

7. You constantly consider how others will react.
From the moment you meet a person, you’re analyzing them. You just can’t help it.

But all of that observation leads to benefits: You realize that everything you say and do potentially affects others. And that means focusing not just on what you say, but how you say it.

8. You apologize.
You know that “I’m sorry” can be the two most difficult words to say in the English language. But you also recognize that they are extremely powerful.

By acknowledging your mistakes and apologizing when appropriate, you develop qualities like humility and authenticity, and naturally draw others to you.

9. You forgive.
While understanding that nobody’s perfect, you’ve learned that refusing to forgive is like leaving a knife in a wound–you never have the chance to heal.

Instead of hanging on to resentment while the offending party moves on with his or her life, you forgive–giving you the chance to move on, too.

10. You have an expansive emotional vocabulary.
By learning to express your feelings, you increase your ability to understand them. When you’re sad, you go deeper in trying to determine why: Am I disappointed? Frustrated? Hurt?

By expanding your active “emotional vocabulary,” you gain insight and learn to take action when necessary.

11. You praise sincerely and specifically.
By consistently looking for the good in others, and then specifically telling them what you appreciate, you inspire them. They feel good about working with you, and are motivated to give their best.

12. You work on controlling your thoughts.
It’s been said: “You can’t stop a bird from landing on your head. But you can keep it from building a nest.”

When you experience a negative situation, you may not have control over your natural, emotional response. But you are in control in what happens next: You choose where to focus your thoughts.

Instead of dwelling on those feelings and thinking about how unfair the situation is, you turn it into a positive–and develop a plan to move forward.

13. You don’t freeze people in time.
Judging others too quickly, without taking context and extenuating circumstances into account, is a very destructive habit.

In contrast, you’re aware that everyone has a bad day, or even a bad year. By refusing to label others, your opinion of them remains fluid, and you get the most of your relationships.

14. You analyze your weaknesses.
It takes self-reflection, insight, and courage to identify weaknesses. But you won’t get better unless you work on them.

By analyzing situations in which you’ve lost control of your emotions, you develop your strategy for encountering those moments the next time.

15. You know that emotions can be used against you.
Just like any ability, emotional intelligence can be used both ethically and unethically. When others increase their skills, they could use that power for manipulative influence.

And that’s exactly why you should sharpen your own emotional intelligence–to protect yourself when they do.

Source : 15 Signs You’re Emotionally Intelligent (Without Even Realizing It)

The top 20 metro areas to start a business in America

If you’re looking to start your own small business, where you set up shop is vitally important. Cities across the country, big and small, are facing significant challenges — from population growth and an aging workforce to climate change and economic stagnation.

But there are areas that are emerging as small-business hot spots, offering entrepreneurs a vibrant, educated workforce, low cost of living, a business-friendly tax climate and a great quality of life. We’ve identified 20 of these metro areas and outline the reasons why small-business owners are finding them especially attractive.

Of course, small-business start-ups have always flocked to San Francisco and New York City, but these cities didn’t make our cut. Not only are they among the most expensive U.S. cities in which to live but their states offer small-business owners 2 of the 3 worst business tax climates in the country, according to the Tax Foundation (New Jersey is the third state).

20. Seattle
Seattle has been among the fastest-growing cities in the United States since 2010, and its population is expected to increase by an additional 200,000 over the next 20 years. A young, vibrant population, a booming tech industry (Amazon and Microsoft call it home) and some of the most interesting restaurants, bars, shops and coffeehouses are among the reasons for the influx of folks.

And while that’s good news for small businesses looking for a well-educated, plentiful workforce, it also means prices for nearly everything in Seattle have moved up as well. According to the Council on Economic and Community Relations, Seattle is 24 percent more expensive than the average U.S. city. A three-bedroom house in the metro Seattle area now costs roughly $500,000, up 26 percent since 2010.

Still, the area has become a hotbed for start-ups of every stripe — from gaming and food delivery to health care — and in the last year, they’ve attracted more than $1.2 billion in venture funding. Unemployment is a low 4.8 percent. As of January 1, the minimum wage in Seattle went up from $10.50 to $13 per hour, depending on the number of employees a company has and whether workers receive tips. By 2021 the minimum for all employees will be $15 per hour.
Overall ranking: 779 out of 1,500 points
Environment for success: 263 out of 500 points
Cost of doing business: 185 out of 400 points
Quality of life: 118 out of 300 points
Labor force: 152 out of 200 points
Diversity: 60 out of 100 points

19. Las Vegas
las vegas
Las Vegas was among the cities hardest hit during the recession, but slowly its economy is recovering. Unemployment has dropped from more than 14 percent in 2010 to 6.4 percent today, and the housing market is recovering nicely.

Much of this good news can be traced back to Zappos founder Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project, a $350 million fund that seeks to make Las Vegas an entrepreneurial hub by investing in fledgling start-ups. And despite the city’s reputation as a gambling mecca, it’s actually a nice place to raise a family, with good schools, a low cost of living and tight-knit communities outside the city. The median price of a house is $220,000.

Las Vegas is also one of the most tax-friendly cities in the country. There is no business income tax, personal income tax, franchise tax or gift tax. Wages are lower than the national average as well, making it cheaper to hire labor. Workers in the Las Vegas metro area earned an average hourly wage of $20.23, about 13 percent less than the nationwide average of $23.23.
Overall ranking: 785 out of 1,500 points
Environment for success: 292 out of 500 points
Cost of doing business: 291 out of 400 points
Quality of life: 113 out of 300 points
Labor force: 49 out of 200 points
Diversity: 40 out of 100 points

18. Salt Lake City
salt lake city
Salt Lake City has emerged as a tech hub with a large number of angel investors who like the talent as well as the lifestyle this mountain city offers. The metro area is home to the University of Utah, one of the country’s leading biomedical and chemical research institutions. Skiing, snowboarding and other outdoor activities abound, making this an attractive region for starting a business and raising a family.

A healthy economic climate is indicated by Salt Lake City’s low 3.7 percent unemployment rate. Small businesses can tap into the city’s Startup Connectory, a list of all the Utah entrepreneur groups, associations and networks across the state’s new-business ecosystem. And the city is business friendly: Both the individual and corporate tax rate is 5 percent.

The median home value in Salt Lake City is $248,500, above the national average. Values have gone up 7.8 percent over the past year, and the online real estate site Zillow predicts they will rise 5.1 percent within the next year. Salt Lake City’s population is approximately 182,000, making it the largest city in the state. It has one of the highest job-growth rates in the country (around 4.5 percent annually) and ranks among the top states for its number of college graduates.
Overall ranking: 790 out of 1,500 points
Environment for success: 272 out of 500 points
Cost of doing business: 191 out of 400 points
Quality of life: 178 out of 300 points
Labor force: 128 out of 200 points
Diversity: 20 out of 100 points

17. Atlanta
The metro Atlanta region is home to more than 5.3 million people and nearly 150,000 businesses, a world-class airport and competitive schools. The unemployment rate is on par with the U.S. average, at 4.6 percent, although weekly wages are slightly higher than the national average.

Atlanta is home to a number of Fortune 500 companies, which makes it an especially great place for start-ups. In fact, Startup Atlanta is a community nonprofit that’s focused on growing and connecting the local start-up ecosystem. It hosts events, brings start-up and regional leaders together and supports policies friendly to innovation and entrepreneurs.

A well-educated workforce — Georgia’s university system is one of the country’s largest and turns out more than 60,000 graduates each year — provides a constant flow of skilled workers to businesses. A cost of living lower than the national average, a flourishing arts scene, along with great restaurants and locally owned shops, attracts families and retirees. The median price for a home in Atlanta is $226,370.
Overall ranking: 790 out of 1,500 points
Environment for success: 349 out of 500 points
Cost of doing business: 180 out of 400 points
Quality of life: 86 out of 300 points
Labor force: 114 out of 200 points
Diversity: 60 out of 100 points

16. El Paso, Texas
El Paso is the largest metro area on the U.S./Mexican border and is located at the farthest western tip of Texas. The region constitutes the largest binational metropolitan area in the Western Hemisphere, with 80.4 percent of its population being Hispanic. Would-be entrepreneurs will find a growing region, with 675,297 residents — a 19 percent increase from 2000.

Labor, energy, state and local taxes and office rents in El Paso are all below the U.S. average, making it an especially affordable area to establish a business. Although the region is not known for a highly educated workforce, the University of Texas at El Paso is a big presence in the community and serves as an incubator for many small businesses, especially those in tech.

The unemployment rate — at 4.5 percent — is in keeping with the national average, and home prices are rising but affordable. The average home price is $160,049. A flourishing arts scene draws visitors on the weekend and shoppers from nearby Mexico. That’s why being bilingual in both English and Spanish is an asset for local business owners.
Overall ranking: 792 out of 1,500 points
Environment for success: 262 out of 500 points
Cost of doing business: 285 out of 400 points
Quality of life: 149 out of 300 points
Labor force: 36 out of 200 points
Diversity: 60 out of 100 points

15. Sarasota, Florida
Sarasota’s economy is driven by education, arts, tourism and financial services. The cultural arts industry alone employs close to 5,000 people, but tourism has the biggest economic impact, totaling $2.6 billion last year. The city’s population swells to more than 100,000 during the winter months, but year-round it’s closer to about half that amount.

Compared to the rest of the country, Sarasota’s cost of living is 3.80 percent lower than the U.S. average. The median home cost is $151,400, but as more baby boomers retire, home appreciation continues to rise.

The city and surrounding areas have also become a hub for e-commerce businesses. Google named Sarasota the city with the top online business presence in Florida, based in part on the ability of customers to make a purchase from a web page as well as mobile-friendly websites. The tax climate is also a draw. In a recent survey, Sarasota was voted the seventh tax-friendliest city in the United States for small businesses. That helps explain why the unemployment rate is 4.3 percent, well below the national average.
Overall ranking: 797 out of 1,500 points
Environment for success: 302 out of 500 points
Cost of doing business: 256 out of 400 points
Quality of life: 111 out of 300 points
Labor force: 89 out of 200 points
Diversity: 40 out of 100 points

14. Raleigh, North Carolina
North Carolina
Raleigh and the surrounding cities of Durham and Chapel Hill are probably best known for their research/technology roots. The tri-city region (known as the Triangle) attracts nearly 80 new residents a day and has strong job growth and a high quality of life.

The Raleigh metro area is luring new and established businesses with its educated workforce. More than 167,000 students are enrolled in its 12 universities and colleges and average more than 42,000 degrees annually. In fact, over 40 percent of the population 25 and older have at least a four-year degree.

Pharmaceuticals, advanced medical care and cleantech are among the industries attracting the most start-up interest and venture funding. The Research Triangle Region employs 1.18 million people in more than 54,000 businesses, and the pay is $49,845, $5,700 higher than the state average.

The cost of living in Raleigh-Durham is slightly lower than the national average, but home prices have been climbing significantly over the past few years. They’re estimated to continue to rise over the coming years as more folks continue to move into the area. But because Raleigh has fairly low property taxes, owning a home is more affordable than other tech and research hubs, such as Silicon Valley and Boston.
Overall ranking: 801 out of 1,500 points
Environment for success: 329 out of 500 points
Cost of doing business: 224 out of 400 points
Quality of life: 107 out of 300 points
Labor force: 141 out of 200 points
Diversity: 0 out of 100 points

13. Colorado Springs, Colorado
Colorado Springs has grown to become a thriving metro area of more than 600,000 people. Within a one-hour drive north, businesses have access to the Denver metro market of nearly 2.5 million people, as well as the Pueblo market to the south, with more than 160,000 people.

Colorado Springs is the second-largest city in Colorado and is located in the heart of El Paso County, the most populous county of the 64 counties in the state. There is a robust pro-business environment, with easy access to both coasts and a competitive tax environment. The state’s corporate income tax is a flat 4.63 percent. The personal income-tax rate for individuals in Colorado is 4.63 percent of taxable federal income adjusted. Couple that with a low cost of living and a backdrop of beautiful mountains and it’s not surprising that Colorado Springs is often named as one of the most livable cities in the United States.

Unemployment is 4 percent, below the 4.7 percent U.S. average, and reflects the presence of strong, steady employers, including Progressive Insurance, FedEx, Lockheed Martin and Verizon. Salaries for a variety of jobs are below the national average, and housing costs are also reasonable. The city is consistently listed as one of the top 20 smartest regions in the country and looks to foster entrepreneurial activity. The entire Front Range, from Fort Collins to Pueblo, is recognized as an entrepreneurial zone.
Overall ranking: 803 out of 1,500 points
Environment for success: 382 out of 500 points
Cost of doing business: 173 out of 400 points
Quality of life: 128 out of 300 points
Labor force: 121 out of 200 points
Diversity: 0 out of 100 points

12. McAllen, Texas
Located on the Texas/Reynosa, Mexico border, McAllen has emerged as a thriving metro area offering small businesses a low cost of doing business; a young, bilingual workforce; and a centralized location in southern Texas.

In recent years the city — with a population of 135,000 — has made a name for itself as a center with a flourishing arts culture. The Creative Arts Incubator supports aspiring artists in the Rio Grande Valley and also houses Techspace, an area designed to offer low-cost office space for start-ups, as well co-working spaces. The local Chamber of Commerce offers about a dozen programs for would-be entrepreneurs, including the Youth Entrepreneur Factory, which introduces public school students to the ideas of entrepreneurship to inspire future businesses; and a Latina Hope initiative to train women about basic business practices and teach them specialized skills.

The median home price is $112,200, lower than the state and national average, and the cost of living is 16 percent cheaper than the national average, making McAllen one of the most affordable areas in the country. One down note: The city ranks among the lowest in average hourly wages, at $16.26, about 30 percent lower than the national average. Still, residents will find a downtown entertainment district that’s filled with restaurants, shops and galleries. For folks who like to get outside with nature, the city has the World Birding Center, where 500 species flock to the wetlands habitat.
Overall ranking: 812 out of 1,500 points
Environment for success: 309 out of 500 points
Cost of doing business: 267 out of 400 points
Quality of life: 139 out of 300 points
Labor force: 39 out of 200 points
Diversity: 60 out 100 points

11. Richmond, Virginia
Richmond offers entrepreneurs the best of both worlds: an educated workforce, low costs, both government agencies and private-sector companies as potential customers, as well as a thriving outdoor lifestyle, great restaurants and cost-of-living advantages.

The city is at the heart of the mid-Atlantic region, with 40 percent of the U.S. population within a day’s drive. The Port of Virginia and the Port of Richmond offer significant structural advantages in transportation and logistics. The city is business friendly, with a 6 percent corporate tax rate, and tax credits and abatements for job creation and development in economically distressed areas. Population in the greater Richmond area is 1.3 million and is expected to grow 5 percent by 2020.

Unemployment is 3.7 percent, below the national average. The overall cost of living is lower as well, and housing costs are 13 percent than the average for the United States. There’s a big variety of housing types and styles in downtown Richmond, its suburbs and rural areas, and although the average sale price is $253,449 — above the U.S. average — homes are still less expensive than in nearby Washington, D.C.

Small-business owners will find fit-minded employees in Richmond. There’s a new 50-mile Capital City bike trail, class IV rapids on the James River and signature running events. Richmond has 100 local parks and 6,500 acres of parkland.
Overall ranking: 820 out of 1,500 points
Environment for success: 312 out of 500 points
Cost of doing business: 224 out of 400 points
Quality of life: 154 out of 300 points
Labor force: 110 out of 200 points
Diversity: 20 out of 100 points

10. San Antonio
This city, located in the south-central region of Texas, is emerging as a major player in informational technology. There are about 1,000 IT companies in and around the city, employing more than 34,000 people, and the sector contributes about $10 billion a year to the region.

San Antonio also has the distinction of being one of the most affordable big cities in the country. The cost of living is well below the national average, and the median price for a single-family home, at $195,500, is well below the national median. Better still, the market is healthy and growing — prices are up nearly 6 percent from the same time last year — with houses listed for less than $100,000 to more than $2 million.

Small-business owners will find reasonable taxes, a well-educated workforce and a low unemployment rate (3.8 percent). The diverse population — one-third of residents speak both Spanish and English — is 1.4 million today but is expected to increase 6.9 percent by 2021, attracted by the low costs, healthy employment and quality of life. The miles-long River Walk, which follows the San Antonio River, is a landmark pedestrian promenade lined with cafés, restaurants and shops.
Overall ranking: 832 out of 1,500 points
Environment for success: 257 out of 500 points
Cost of doing business: 301 out of 400 points
Quality of life: 131 out of 300 points
Labor force: 83 out of 200 points
Diversity: 60 out of 100 points

9. Des Moines, Iowa
As the capital of the so-called “flyover” state, Des Moines is especially business friendly. The cost of doing business here is 17 percent lower than the national average, making it an attractive place for start-ups. Insurance companies rule the business scene here, with more than 80 firms maintaining offices in and around the city. Other notable industries include publishing, financial services and distribution and logistics. Wells Fargo is the largest private employer, with 14,500 employees in the greater Des Moines area. Not surprisingly, the unemployment rate is lower than the national average.

The area also offers a great quality of life. A vibrant downtown area with one-of-a-kind shops, locally owned restaurants and bars, and cool condos and lofts draw millennials, while beautiful, older homes in quieter surrounding suburbs attract new and growing families. Home prices are far below the national average, at $169,550, but do increase as you get out to the newer suburban communities popping up.

Though there’s an educated, young workforce and a diversity of industries for start-ups to tap into, Iowa does levy the highest corporate tax rate (12 percent) in the country. Personal income-tax rates range from 0.36 percent to 8.98 percent.
Overall ranking: 836 out of 1,500 points
Environment for success: 344 out of 500 points
Cost of doing business: 153 out of 400 points
Quality of life: 171 out of 300 points
Labor force: 149 out of 200 points
Diversity: 20 out of 100 points

8. Dallas
One of the biggest draws for the Dallas metro area is Dallas/Fort Worth International airport. Spread across 18,000 acres between the two cities, DFW handles 64 million passengers a year, earning it the designation as one of the busiest airports in the world. But even with its size (five airline terminals and 2,000 daily flights), DFW is well run, easy to navigate and allows travelers to get in and out quickly.

Couple this with a growing population, decent salaries and reasonable home prices in the plentiful neighborhoods that ring the city and it’s easy to see why more businesses are moving to, or starting in, the Dallas/Fort Worth area. In Dallas the top industries are technology, financial services and defense. Fort Worth is strong in oil and gas, aerospace and aviation. The area’s unemployment rate is 3.7 percent, below the national average.

Dallas doesn’t have individual income tax or corporate income tax, but it does levy a margins tax on gross receipts for businesses. That hasn’t stopped venture capital money from flowing into the area. Dallas/Fort Worth area start-ups attracted $104.1 million in the first quarter of 2016, four times the last quarter of 2015, according to a MoneyTree report. A huge slice of the money went to local software companies.
Overall ranking: 840 out of 1,500 points
Environment for success: 329 out of 500 points
Cost of doing business: 225 out of 400 points
Quality of life: 58 out of 300 points
Labor force: 149 out of 200 points
Diversity: 80 out of 100 points

7. Ogden, Utah
Ogden combines the best of a city and a mountain town. The area has access to numerous outdoor activities, including hiking, skiing and biking, and has attracted outdoor recreational companies such as Rossignol, Goode Ski and Amer Sports. The city’s 84,483 residents are fairly young — the median age is 30 — and enjoy relatively high incomes (median household income is more than $50,000) and low cost of living, with affordable home prices.

Aerospace, IT software and outdoor recreation are the biggest industries in the area. Ogden is located between ATK and Hill Air Force Base, two of the largest aerospace employers in Utah. The broader, Northern Utah region has a strong existing base of aerospace and composites companies, with more than 30 companies and an estimated 16,500 employees.

Utah overall is known for its business-friendly environment and low taxes, and Ogden benefits from this. The unemployment rate is 3.3 percent (below the national average), and job growth is projected at more than 3 percent in the coming year.
Overall ranking: 852 out of 1,500 points
Environment for success: 287 out of 500 points
Cost of doing business: 252 out of 400 points
Quality of life: 196 out of 300 points
Labor force: 96 out of 200 points
Diversity: 20 out of 100 points

6. Houston
If there’s one adjective that makes Houston attractive to would-be business owners, it’s “affordable.” The city didn’t experience a huge housing bubble — and subsequent crash — like many other cities across the United States. The median home price is $190,000, below the roughly $219,000 national average, and the overall cost of living here is below the national average as well.

Though the oil and gas industries still dominate in Houston, the city is actually home to 25 Fortune 500 companies, including Sysco and Group 1 Automotive. Aerospace is also represented with NASA’s Johnson Space Center located in Houston. The Texas Medical Center has more than 50 research labs and health-care institutions, making it especially attractive to start-ups in the medical space.

The unemployment rate, at 4.9 percent, is below the national average, and not surprisingly, the average salary here is a bit higher, at $50,830. With more than 2.3 million residents, Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States and one of the most diverse. More than half of its residents are either Hispanic or African American. They’re young as well: Approximately 22.6 percent of the population is between the ages of five and 19, the largest population cohort.
Overall ranking: 860 out of 1,500 points
Environment for success: 339 out of 500 points
Cost of doing business: 241 out of 400 points
Quality of life: 71 out of 300 points
Labor force: 129 out of 200 points
Diversity: 80 out of 100 points

5. Charlotte, North Carolina
Though it’s long been considered a banking hub — Bank of America has its headquarters here, and Wells Fargo has a significant presence — Charlotte also boasts strong health-care and retailing industries. Lowe’s is headquartered in nearby Mooresville, and American Airlines employs many residents as well.

The unemployment rate is 4.9 percent, a little below the national average, but the average salary is slightly above, at $48,290. And Charlotte keeps growing: The city had the 10th-largest population growth last year among big cities, according to the Census Bureau, with 828,000 residents. The city’s nonprofit Business Innovation and Growth Council works to foster entrepreneurship and connect small-business owners with the resources to help them grow.

The individual income-tax rate in Charlotte is 5.75 percent, and the corporate tax rate is 5 percent. Housing has recovered quite nicely since the recession, with home sales up 71 percent from a year ago. The median price of a home is $190,000, according to RealtyTrac, making the area more affordable than other big cities, such as Washington, D.C., or Miami.
Overall ranking: 862 out of 1,500 points
Environment for success: 324 out of 500 points
Cost of doing business: 229 out of 400 points
Quality of life: 136 out of 300 points
Labor force: 113 out of 200 points
Diversity: 60 out of 100 points

4. Denver
The Mile High City, so named for its 5,280-foot elevation, is located at the base of the Rocky Mountains and is probably best known for its skiing and snowboarding venues. But the local economy has definitely expanded since residents voted to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012.

Today there are numerous cannabis-related small businesses setting up shop, and that’s attracting people, especially millennials, to the city. According to the real estate website Zillow, 18- to 34-year-olds accounted for 35 percent of the city’s population growth from 2010 to 2014. The Denver metro area has a low unemployment rate, of 3.1 percent, which helps explain why the average salary is $53,060, well above the national average of $47,230.

Businesses looking to set up shop in Denver will find a well-educated workforce. The University of Colorado and the University of Denver are located here and help turn out graduates needed for the thriving aerospace, biotech and telecommunications industries. Housing costs have risen in recent years as the population has blossomed to more than 2.6 million residents. The median home price is $301,000, compared with $218,867 for the United States overall.
Overall ranking: 863 out of 1,500 points
Environment for success: 376 out of 500 points
Cost of doing business: 193 out of 400 points
Quality of life: 134 out of 300 points
Labor force: 160 out of 200
Diversity: 0 of out 100 points

3. Washington, D.C.
Though it’s our nation’s capital and politics seem to be the singular focus, Washington, D.C., is actually home to a highly diverse and well-educated workforce. In fact, it ties with Houston and Dallas as the most diverse city on our list and tops the group with the highest percentage of residents with a bachelor’s degree or beyond.

The metro area also gets its share of start-up funding. According to accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, venture capital firms pumped more than $700 million into new DC-area tech companies last year. That cash infusion is balanced by above-average wages and a 6.1 percent unemployment rate, higher than the national average.

The tax climate in D.C. can be a challenge for businesses just starting out. Individual income-tax rates range from 4 percent to 8.95 percent, and the general consumer tax rate is 5.75 percent. But with a steady economy, thanks in large part to the federal government, and lots of government agencies as potential customers, small businesses can find a solid business environment in the Washington, D.C., metro area.
Overall ranking: 877 out of 1,500 points
Environment for success: 364 out of 500 points
Cost of doing business: 200 out of 400 points
Quality of life: 102 out of 300 points
Labor force: 132 out of 200 points
Diversity: 80 out of 100 points

2. Provo, Utah
Provo has been lauded for many things — one of the best places to raise a family, one of the healthiest places to live — and now a great place to start a business. In fact, over the years, there have been a dozen budding entrepreneurs on the reality series “Shark Tank” who hail from Provo.

The metro area prides itself on being start-up friendly. The city’s entrepreneurial hub is called — what else? — the Startup Building and rents desks and other co-working spaces to spur collaboration and innovation among freelancers, small-business owners and inventors. Camp 4, a public/private partnership, is located in the Startup Building and works to support tech start-ups as they bring their products to market. A low unemployment rate — 3.5 percent — and cost of living (5.5 percent below the national average) is another reason why small businesses are flocking to Provo.

Of course, no mention of Provo would be complete without a nod to Brigham Young University. The metro area benefits from the skilled workforce turned out at BYU — especially students in its entrepreneurial Innovation Academy. This program acts as an incubator and enables students to work with their peers to learn how to start and run a small business.
Overall ranking: 910 out of 1,500 points
Environment for success: 287 out of 500 points
Cost of doing business: 272 out of 400 points
Quality of life: 183 out of 300 points
Labor force: 147 out of 200 points
Diversity: 20 out of 100 points

1. Austin, Texas
With a population of just over 2 million, the Austin metro area is home to a sizable tech industry as well as a thriving music scene. That might explain why the tech-friendly SXSW festival has called this city home since 1987.

The Austin metro area is especially small-business friendly. There’s a young, educated workforce (the University of Texas is based in Austin), no state individual or corporate income taxes, and enough different industries represented to offer an array of opportunities for start-ups. It ranked No. 1 on our list for the highest number of small businesses created, as well as the metro area with the fastest population growth.

Technology is a key driver of small-business growth. According to commercial real estate and investment firm CBRE Group, Austin ranks fifth in the nation — behind the San Francisco Bay Area, Washington, D.C., Seattle and New York City — for its ability to attract and retain tech talent. All that tech hiring has kept the unemployment rate low (3.1 percent) but has driven up office rents by 30 percent over the past five years.
Overall score: 926 out of 1,500 points
Environment for success: 323 out of 500 points
Cost of doing business: 241 out of 400 points
Quality of life: 132 out of 300 points
Labor force: 170 points out of 200 points
Diversity: 60 out of 100 points

Source: The top 20 metro areas to start a business in America

What Do You Owe Your First Employees?

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The allure of joining a startup can be intoxicating. The dream of lucrative rewards associated with being in on the ground floor draw many people to smaller firms, where they are willing to take a smaller salary in exchange for promises of wildly unbridled success as the firm grows.

Sadly many of these idealistic workers find themselves leaving the company, disillusioned and empty handed. This begs the question: What does an entrepreneur owe the people who helped build the company?

This question has got some of you thinking: “nothing.” They were paid for their services, and nothing was ever promised beyond that. Others among you are thinking that were it not for these people’s hard work and sacrifices at subsistence wages the company would never have been successful.

I’ve had my fair share of jobs, where I was paid in rainbows and empty promises. I have been cheated out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by an unscrupulous and greedy entrepreneur, who I still affectionately refer to as the devil.

I’ve also found myself left empty handed by well-meaning entrepreneurs, whose grandiose visions of becoming the next Google never came to fruition. But all that aside, what is truly owed, from an ethical stand point, to the first generation of a startup’s employees?

From my perspective, it all depends on the level of contribution of the employee. It’s one thing to grant an equity stake to someone who invented something that essentially defines your compang (but hey, it’s a work-for-hire so it’s yours to keep, and legally you don’t owe him or her beans), and quite another in cases where the only thing the worker ever contributed was loyalty.

There has been a great deal of mourning and sense of true loss over the lack of loyalty of companies toward workers and vice versa, but I have seen too many deeply loyal employees, who have contributed little more than carbon dioxide and occasionally methane to the workplace. These employees are the corporate equivalent of seat fillers at award shows.

Let us not mistake laziness for loyalty.
Some people see the founder’s vision, and it drives them. It keeps them at a company, when they could easily find a position that pays more money working somewhere else, but far more are just too lazy to go get another job. Some feel genuinely lucky to have a job because of everything from a lack of adequate education to felony convictions. Still, others have worked at a firm since high school and don’t want to give up all the corporate karma they have banked. In other words, there are a lot of reasons that people stay at their jobs that have nothing to do with company loyalty.

How do we measure loyalty? For many companies it’s measured by the size, depth and breadth of the butt groove in the worker’s chair. I have seen workers more dysfunctional than meth-addicted howler monkeys get promoted to jobs for which they were unmistakably unqualified, simply because of some misguided sense of fair play.

These people lack the skills, business acumen, experience or education necessary to excel in the position, yet they are given it for their years of service.

If the founder of a company owes anything to long-term employees it has to be based on the employee’s contribution.

Unfortunately, it’s tough to quantify contribution and even more difficult to monetize it. In the final estimation, it’s really up to the entrepreneur to determine what, if anything, he or she owes to the people who made it happen but that tends to end with bitter ex-employees, who feel cheated out of something they never really deserved.

Source: What Do You Owe Your First Employees?

8 Science-Backed Techniques That Will Make You More Likeable

We all want to be liked. After all, likeable people have more friends, are more respected by their employees and co-workers and close more deals.

While you can’t force or trick someone into liking you, you can make yourself more emotionally appealing to people. As Michelle Tillis Lederman, author of The 11 Laws of Likability and Nail the Interview, puts it, “You can’t make anybody like you, but you can enable people to see what is likable about you. A lot of these things are not necessarily tricks that are meant to manipulate and deceive, but they’re honest ways we connect and make others feel good.”

Jack Schafer, a behavioral analyst, retired FBI agent and author of The Like Switch, says that good salespeople do these things instinctively, which is what makes them so successful.

“It’s little things that get people to like you,” he says. “You have to pay attention to those things.”

Here are eight science-backed techniques you can start employing immediately to make yourself a more appealing person:

1. Smile.
If it sounds simple, it’s because it is. Smiling triggers your brain to release endorphins, which makes you feel good. And guess what? Smiling is contagious.

“People read your body language and facial expressions far more than hear your words or hear your tone of voice,” Lederman says, “so that smile is immediately welcoming, disarming and relaxing to the other person.”

You shouldn’t just smile at everyone though, says Tim Sanders, author of The Likeability Factor. It has to come from a place of authenticity. However, you should always smile back at someone who is smiling at you.
“When you smile back at someone, what you are combining is friendliness and authenticity together,” he says. “Often, when we don’t expect a person to smile at us or we don’t know them very well, we look away. When you smile back at a person, you’re telling them, ‘I like you too,’ and that generates more likeability.”

2. Watch your body language.
We humans are just animals in fancy clothes. That’s why, along with smiling, you can use visual cues to let other people know that you’re not a threat. These include raising your eyebrows and tilting your head, Schafer says. The head tilt exposes your critical carotid artery to the other person, showing trust. Crazy, right?

“What typically happens is our brains are looking for threats in the environment,” he says. “We communicate nonverbally. When the brain sees friendly signals, it can focus on other things. It’s important to learn about these signals so we can use them appropriately.”

Stressful situations, such as job interviews or client meetings, trigger your flight-or-fight response, making you defensive and closed off. Intentionally utilizing these physical signals, along with smiling, overrides this heightened state.

“If you want people to like you, make them feel good about themselves,” Schafer says. “We have to take the focus off us and put it onto the other person.”

There are many ways to accomplish this.

“Appreciation, recognition, a thank-you, direct eye contact, a compliment, asking their advice — all of these are ways in which we make someone feel good,” Lederman says.

In conversations, employ empathic statements. For example, if someone looks happy, say something such as, “looks like you’re having a good day,” Schafer says. If that person responds, “I just closed a deal,” you can reply with, “you must have worked hard.” He or she will walk away feeling good, and in turn, those feelings will reflect on you. Avoid direct flattery, as that can make people defensive.

Why are Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres so likeable? These are individuals who make others feel like the most important people in the world during a conversation. There are some simple ways to follow their examples:

“Leave your phone at your desk. If you have a meeting, turn it off and turn it over,” Sanders says. “Look that person straight in the eye and be fully engaged the entire conversation. If you’re at lunch, don’t pay attention to anyone else around you but your server.”

Even be aware of details such as where your cups are placed, Schafer says. If they are between you and other person, they can act as a barrier. Make sure they’re off to the side.

Remember, people love to talk about themselves, and when they feel good, they’ll feel good about you.

Open conversations by asking about the individual’s “wow project” — something he or she is working on and really excited about, Sanders says. “Listen until they’re tired of talking about their passion project. Usually, it’s five minutes, but it will be the best five minutes of that conversation.”

You should also be thoughtful about the types of follow-up questions you ask. “Ask a question in an open-ended format that shows you’re really interested in the answer,” Lederman says. “From that point, you can listen and ask additional questions, probe a little further — don’t interrogate — or you can listen and share. When you share something of yourself on the same topic, you start to show a connection, a relatability, a commonality, and people like people like them.”

You’re more likely to like those with whom you are familiar, such as co-workers, neighbors or that person you always see at the gym.

“The mere exposure effect is about familiarity, and that just means showing up,” says Theo Tsaousides, a neuropsychologist, speaker and author of Brainblocks: Overcoming the Hidden Barriers to Success.

Persistence is key here, but obviously don’t cross the line into stalking. For example, Tsaousides says frequenting the same cafe, sending emails and posting and/or commenting on a person’s social media accounts are some ways to show up.

“It’s a reminder that you’re thinking of them,” he says.

This is the concept that Lederman says increases all results. Whomever you meet, you should always be thinking about how you can help that person. It won’t always pay off immediately, but this philosophy has a cascading effect.

“Giving creates value. To apply the law of giving is to think about how you add value to others,” Lederman says. “When you’re in a business situation, your thinking is not, ‘how do I get the deal and what I need out of this customer?’ but ‘how am I adding value to this customer?'”

Sanders has a simple way to accomplish this goal: During every conversation, you should strive to give the gift of a piece of advice, he says. That will separate you from everyone else and make you more likeable.

You don’t necessarily have to agree with everyone, but you should go out of your way to make sure that every person feels like he or she has been heard. Treat feelings as facts, Sander says. For example, if a customer complains, seriously consider the feedback and let him or her know that it will be discussed internally.

“Psychologists would say that when you accept another person’s feelings and you learn to say ‘I’m sorry, I can only imagine how you feel,'” Sander says, “you deliver to them a powerful psychological benefit called validation, that they’re not alone or stupid for feeling that way.”

Lederman agrees. “What validation really does is give a sense of empowerment,” she says. “It tells how that response or thought had an impact, whether or not it’s agreed with.”

4 Better Ways to Say “Thank You”

Want a better way to express your gratitude? Give one of these options a try.



Numerous situations arise every single day that warrant our genuine appreciation and gratitude. But, most times, we allow a quick and standard “thanks” that’s mumbled in passing to fit the bill.

Of course, a “thank you” is always appreciated — but, we’ve all become so used to hearing those two little words, they’ve all but lost their meaning in many cases.

When someone does something that inspires you to offer an expression that seems even more heartfelt and sincere, you might find yourself struggling to demonstrate your thankfulness — without relying on those oft-repeated words.

So, here are four better ways to thank someone (that don’t involve those two little words you hear so often).

1. “I really appreciate that.”

Yes, this is essentially what the phrase “thank you” means. But, explicitly saying it to someone who helped you out can have a much greater impact than relying on that phrase that’s uttered over and over again.

You can also alter this phrase to say, “I really appreciate you,” to further demonstrate that you not only recognize that person’s efforts to help you out, but that you’re also extremely grateful for his or her assistance. You’re not only appreciative of what was done — you’re appreciative of who did it.

2. “You’re a lifesaver.”

Recognizing results is another great way to sincerely show your gratitude. What’s an easy way to accomplish that? Explaining how that person helped you out is the best place to start.

Perhaps a teammate grabbed the reins for a part of a project you kept pushing to the back burner. A simple statement like, “You’re a lifesaver! My plate has been so full, and having that off my hands helps so much,” shows your appreciation — while also adequately highlighting the impact that person’s help had on you.

3. “How can I repay you?”

There’s no better way to show your gratitude than by being willing to return the favor when the opportunity arises. So, posing this question is an immediate way to show that you’re more than ready act on your appreciation — rather than just talk about it.

In most cases, people will respond to this with something like, “Don’t worry about it!” But, that doesn’t mean asking it is a total waste. Again, it’s an effective way to make that person feel especially recognized and valued.

4. Actions speak louder than words.

Alright, perhaps you’ll consider this last point a bit of a cheater — after all, it’s not an actual phrase that you can use to replace that classic “thank you”. However, this tip has a huge impact, making it worthy of mention regardless.

As you already know, saying and showing are two very different things. So, if you feel the need to go the extra mile with your level of appreciation, consider acting on it. Write a handwritten note or call out that person’s contributions in a meeting with your team.

Do what you need to do to not only say you’re grateful — but show it.

There are plenty of times you want to express heartfelt appreciation. But, sometimes a standard “thank you” doesn’t seem like quite enough.

In those cases, use one of the above four options, and you’re sure to get your gratitude across in a way that’s effective and genuine.

Source : 4 Better Ways to Say “Thank You”

5 Ways Busy Business Owners Beat the Blues



You love what you do…but not because of the constant chase for customers and clients, the loneliness that comes with being at the top of your field, the never ending to do list.

The dream you once had for a tremendous impact, seven figures and a boat is starting to feel more like a job you sometimes wish you could quit.

This was not why you went into business. I mean, what really happened to that raving tribe of people who were supposed to love you for what you built?

Well, it happens to the best of us… and most importantly, it happens to the best of the best in business.

So, how do you shed the blues you might wonder. Right now, you can’t desire anything more but to finally start to love your life again.

Here are five major steps that you can take today to get through the storm.

1. Get out of the weeds and delegate what you can.
The art of delegation is a necessary trait for every kind of leader on every level. You cannot do it all, and quite frankly when done right “leading” is a job unto itself. Small tasks that take up massive and tedious amounts of time should be assigned to your support team so that you can focus on high level areas, partnerships, organizational growth, leadership and strategy. Getting caught in the details when you have more than capable people around you is not the best use of your time. Make a list of everything for the day that needs to get done and highlight the things that your team can take care of. (If you don’t have a team yet this is the perfect time to bring on an hourly virtual assistant (VA) to lend a helping hand).

Another strategy is to look at your list and ask yourself, “What are the key decisions that I can make today that will either make everything on this list irrelevant or no longer my immediate concern.” A high level analysis of your to-do’s will keep you focused on looking at the bigger strategic picture making your life much easier, and your organization a well oiled machine.

2. Build your support team.
Having a coach or mentor is part of your own self care. We all need someone, and human connection with someone who is there just for us is what takes ordinary leaders from ordinary to phenomenal and highly effective leaders. Start to grow your support system and use a part of your coaching sessions for a clearing — a time for you to really get some things off of your chest. It works wonders.

3. Exercise daily.
There is something about moving that just makes everything better. Don’t believe me — do some research. It has now been proven that exercise is a natural stress reliever. The blood pumping quickly through your body in a workout can increase your clarity, help you let off some necessary “steam” and improves your breathing.

4. Meditate, reflect and/or pray daily.
The power of journaling, reflecting, strengthening your spirituality and meditating on a daily basis cannot be understated. This work helps you to become more self aware of your actions resulting in greater opportunities to generate positive relationships with those that you interact with in your daily work. It is not easy to get into this routine and stick with it, but scheduling it first thing in the morning or right before bed will ensure that you start your day strong and in a positive light.

5. Change your mindset.
Look for the positive in what you are faced with on a daily basis. If your website crashed, look at it as an opportunity to redesign better; your prime team member quit — look at it as an opportunity to finally restructure in a way that will tremendously improve your business.

Things will work out for your best interest — believe that and positivity and joy will follow.

Plus, the blues will move faster than you could say “boo!”