5 Important Lessons You Can Learn From a Really Bad Day

The last 7 days have been bad days for me. I broke up with my girlfriend exactly one week ago. The first day was really tough for me. I didn't want to get out of bed that Sunday. I've bounced back. I feel better than ever now.

Here's what I've learned to look forward to during the "bad days":

  • They force you to practice gratitude - In order to pull myself out of my funk, I found myself practicing being thankful for something every single day. One day I was thankful to be in Barcelona. One day I was thankful to be alive. One day I was thankful for my daily morning run. One day I was thankful for the lessons I've learned in the relationship. One day I was thankful just to be breathing. I hadn't practiced gratitude in a while and it was refreshing.
  • You realize that hitting lows makes the highs even better - If things were perfect all the time, we wouldn't appreciate the good moments as much. Because those good moments would just be "normal." I've learned that having the low moments in life is normal. Everyone goes through it. No one's perfect. The key is to recognize it, embrace it, and move on from it. The first two days it really hurt. I felt really sad because we had spent over a year on the relationship and I thought about all of the amazing memories we had built together. But then I realized that life keeps going forward. And that it can be even more amazing for both of us if we allow it to.
  • Hard times motivate you to get in the best shape of your life - One of the best ways I've dealt with tough days is by working out intensely. It also helps that my ex-girlfriend told me that I wasn't fit enough for her. That gave me the extra motivation I needed. Now when I work out and want to quit, I just think of four words, "You're not good enough." So what did I do? For 4 days straight I've run 7 miles, done 300 pushups and 300 squats. I did that workout every single day. I plan on doing this until I leave Barcelona in 47 days. I've already gone down a belt notch and my swim trunks don't fit anymore (I have to fold them to keep them up!)
  • You remember to enjoy the simple things - One of my favorite parts of my bad days is getting a fresh green smoothie and drinking it halfway through my run. I'll sit on a bench and bask in the sun and think, "Life is good." And then, I believe it. My thoughts become me.
  • You'll learn from the bad days - You'll learn about other people. You'll learn about yourself. You'll learn from the situation. It makes you wiser, stronger, and better. Bad days are a blessing in disguise.

We'll all have our bad days. It's what you do with them that counts.

10 Simple Habits of Insanely Productive People

When I was 21, I used to work incredibly long hours as I thought that would fuel my career success.

Boy, was I wrong.

Sure, I was productive over the short term. But then something funny happened.

I started to get really tired all the time.

I couldn’t focus anymore during the late nights.

I began to make mistakes.

I wasn’t as polished in my presentations.

I realized most people didn’t even care that I was putting in the extra hours.

I burned out.

Over my 11 year career, I’ve learned to focus on working smarter. I’ve taken detailed notes from some of the top individual contributors and executives from companies like MTV, VMware, Cisco, Box and Optimizely.

In those 11 years, I went from being a labor foreman to now being a VP at a fast growing startup. I’ve also started a motivational website called CEO Lifestyle that has over 9,000 subscribers in just a few months.

So what did I learn?

Here’s the secret: Optimize your work life so that you maximize your results.

I’ve put together a list of the top 10 ways to optimize your productivity.

I’ve never shared this list - until now.

Here are the top 10:

  1. Pull a Mark Zuckerberg - Did you know that he wears a grey t-shirt all the time? Here’s his explanation: “I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community. I'm in this really lucky position, where I get to wake up every day and help serve more than a billion people. And I feel like I'm not doing my job if I spend any of my energy on things that are silly or frivolous about my life.” (This quote is from this article: Why Mark Zuckerberg wears the same clothes to work everyday) Here’s my point: simplify your life. Reduce the amount of trivial decisions you have to make every day so that you can focus you energy on the really important ones. Pull a Mark Zuckerberg. Oh, did I mention that Steve Jobs does this too?Just saying.
  2. Use the 20 feet rule - Let’s say you’re working on a project at work. Have you ever stopped to check your phone randomly to look at Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat? If you’re doing this multiple times within an hour, it might be hurting your productivity. If your cell phone isn’t absolutely critical to your job, put it somewhere that is 20 feet away from your desk. This forces you to do quite a bit of walking to check your phone and helps you to focus on the work at hand.
  3. Use the “Top 3” rule - To make your day ultra focused and productive, ask yourself, “What are the 3 key things I really need to accomplish today?” Before you do anything else, make sure you crush those 3 objectives first. Prioritize ruthlessly.
  4. Learn to batch tasks - For tasks that are not urgent, batch them. For example, how many times do you check your email every day? A lot of people will click refresh on their inbox and then respond to emails as they come in. If your job doesn’t require an immediate response on those emails, batch and check them every 3 hours throughout the day. This way, you won’t be constantly reacting to every email that comes in and you can prioritize your activities for the day. Don’t let email run your life. #OperationInboxZero
  5. Leverage the team - We get it. You want to be the hero. You want to be the one to deliver on that big project. You want to get the applause. After all, who doesn’t love the recognition? You absolutely want to work hard. You absolutely want to do a great job. What you don’t want is to burn out. Make sure you leverage the team to get the job done. If someone else is more talented and skilled than you in a certain area, collaborate with them to drive better results. For example, when I was working on our iPhone app, I tried to design it myself in Photoshop. Did I mention I suck at Photoshop? It turned out terribly. So what did I do next? I tapped my friend on the shoulder for help (he’s a rockstar designer) and within one day we had an amazing design that was ten times better than the original. By the time we went live with the app, we had a design that was amazing. Want proof? The app hit the top 100 in the Lifestyle category. Remember, teamwork makes the dream work.
  6. Virtual assistants are your best friends - Not literally. Well, unless you’re really good at building friendships over Skype. Then it might be possible. Anyway, virtual assistants can help to take on a lot of the administrative tasks that you may be overwhelmed with. Whether it’s data research, writing or language translation, there’s a ton of skills they bring to the table to help you scale your work.
  7. Get rid of paper - If you don’t have to have a paper copy, create a digital one and store it in the cloud. There are a ton of cloud providers that offer a large amount of free storage like Box. For example, for my business receipts, instead of keeping the physical copies in a cabinet, I’ve created a folder in Box for all of the digital copies. I can then search for a specific receipt if I need to. It makes life so much easier. Here’s another great example: when I want to show someone marketing material, I’ll have it available on my mobile phone through the Box app. This way, I can look at it with them and I can also share it with them afterwards by sending a link right away. That’s productivity!
  8. Work on what you’re passionate about - Life’s short. Do you really want to work on stuff you don’t enjoy? When you work with passion, your energy will be better, your focus will be more intense and you’ll have a sense of purpose in what you do. It’s a game changer. Don’t underestimate the power of happiness in work. Right now, I’m literally typing this article with a huge smile on my face and bobbing my head to music on Spotify. I’m so passionate about writing that I can often write multiple articles in a few hours. And it feels great too. It doesn’t even feel like work! It feels like a mission. A calling. A journey. Do what you love.
  9. Constantly test - Your ideas are just that: ideas. Don’t spend too much time trying to come up with the perfect idea. At the end of the day, the only way to know if it’ll work is to test it. The data will tell you if it’s a good idea or not. Want to know how many apps it took for me to make 4 top 100 apps? 14 tries. When I first started out, I thought all of them could be big hits. That’s why it’s critical to test.
  10. Have a “user” centric approach - Whenever people run into a tough challenge, you’ll often hear a couple of different suggestions on how the problem can be solved. One of the best ways to solve hard problems is to ask yourself, “What’s best for the user?” Having a user centric approach as your guiding force will often drive you to the best answers. Put yourselves in their shoes. How do you make their lives better? How do you bring a sense of delight into their lives? How do you bring a huge smile to their face?

Bonus tip: Surround yourself with inspiring, sharp and positive people. Want to know why?

It’s simple.

Awesomeness is contagious.

It’ll drive you to new heights. It’ll teach you how to work smarter. It’ll motivate you to be great.

Don’t wait a minute longer. The hardest part is getting started.

10 Ways to Enjoy Life More

I just spent 3 months in Europe (I'm from California) and learned a lot of great lessons on how to enjoy life more. Here's my photo from when I was in Barcelona a month ago:

Anyway, back to my point. 

Here are my top 10 ways to bring more happiness into your life:

1. Slow down. I get it, you want to change the world. Let's do that. But learn to pace yourself so you don't burn out.

2. Laugh out loud. Studies have shown that it boosts your immune system, improves your blood flow and elevates your pain threshold and tolerance. Plus, it gives your that warm fuzzy feeling. Who doesn't want that?

3. Enjoy every bite. Seriously, stop inhaling your food. Learn to savor it.

4. Smile more. Because it's better than frowning. Studies show that smiling is contagious (you just made someone else's day, now wasn't that easy?), it lowers stress and anxiety, releases endorphins, makes you more attractive (unless you're the moody / brooding type) and strengthens your immune system.

5. Be open to new experiences. You never know what a simple "hello" or "yes" might lead to. For me, it led to a 1.5 year relationship where I fell in love for the first time and traveled the world (specifically Croatia, Portugal and Spain).  

6. Get moving. Exercise will naturally boost your happiness. I just ran 7 miles a day for 40 days and feel better than ever.

7. Create something. When you create something of value, it will give you a sense of worth and happiness. Especially when others tell you about how it's impacted their lives. 

8. Spend time with friends and family. Meaningful connections and relationships will make you feel more connected to the world. Admit it, giving a big bear hug to a loved one feels awesome.

9. Help others. Studies show that when you do, it boosts your happiness.

10. Be grateful. Life's short. Life's unpredictable. Let's appreciate every moment we have here.

10 Ways to Make Your LinkedIn Profile Awesome

Over the last 10 years, I've been recruited by companies like Google, Apple, HP, Paypal, Ebay, Verizon, VMware, Meraki and countless other companies through LinkedIn. 

It's how I got my current job as the VP of Partnerships at Toptal.  

There's no doubt that LinkedIn has dramatically changed the game for job seekers. 
Need more proof?

1. It's the #1 social platform for work: There are over 433 million registered members on LinkedIn. 

2. It's one of the best tools that recruiters use to find talent - In 2016 Q1, LinkedIn's Talent Solutions revenue was $558M. 

3. It's one of the best ways to vet candidates and for many people, it's replaced the traditional resume - 94% of recruiters vet candidates through LinkedIn. (Source: Jobvite)

It's time to recognize that one of the best ways to land your dream job is by making sure you're LinkedIn brand is top notch.

Over the last 11 years, I've taken detailed notes on what makes a LinkedIn profile amazing.  It's time that I shared these tips with you.

Drum roll please...

1. Get a professional photo - And by professional, I don't mean cropping a decent photo of yourself while you're at your friend's wedding. Here's what I mean by "professional":

  • Equipment: Use a high end camera like a Canon SLR
  • Timing: If you're taking the photo outdoors, try to aim for 1 hour after sunrise or 1 hour before sunset. That's usually when you'll get the best lighting that will be a lot softer typically.
  • Get help: Get a professional photographer. If you don't have the budget, ask your friends or ask for help on your social networks. You'd be surprised, a lot of times, aspiring photographers are willing to take photos for free to build up their portfolio.
  • Dress up: It could be a nice suit. It could be your favorite blouse. It could be a niffy casual sweater. Look your best based on what suits your style. First impressions matter.
  • Smile. Enough said.

Here are 3 examples of average, better and best. The first was taken with an iPhone with minimal effort and lighting work. The second was taken with a SLR camera at Noon (the sun was beaming so the light was harsh). The third was taken by a professional photographer with proper lighting and a backdrop. See the difference?





Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 7.40.59 PM.png

2. Tell a story - The "summary" portion of your profile is a place where you can shine. Don't just write a bland paragraph that seems like a generic job description. Take the time to tell your story. How did you arrive to where you are today? What have you accomplished? What are your deepest aspirations? What do you want to contribute to the world? Don't play it safe. Tell a story that's mind-blowing.


Let me give you an example.  Most people write a “summary” that goes like this: 

I’ve been a Director of Sales where I managed a group of sales people across multiple states.  I have experience in building customer relationships as well as managing people on a team and am considered a leader in the organization.

Not a bad summary, but not great either.  It ends up feeling “mediocre.”  You want to leave a stronger impression than that.

Here’s an example of someone who’s given a life statement and has built a brand: 

Sales, Marketing and Partnerships leader who understands how to build and execute a high growth sales playbook for startups. Over the last 11 years, I've worked my way up from an entry level sales position to now being a VP at one of the fastest growing startups in Silicon Valley.

My work has been featured on Forbes, Fortune, Business Insider, Inc.com, The Huffington Post, MSN Money, Mic.com, Thought Catalog, CRN, Optimizely Blog, PopSugar and Product Hunt.

Nothing excites me more than building sales and partnerships organizations from scratch. I've traveled to over 56 cities in the US, Europe and Canada to accomplish this.

I currently lead partnerships at Toptal.

I believe every high performing sales organization needs to embody three key elements: Innovation, execution and extraordinary people. 

I have 10 years of IT leadership, sales, channels, management, marketing, training and operations experience. Hand picked by Cisco to enroll in a high potential sales and technical 1 year intensive training program in 2006, I've gone on to consistently overachieve on strategic objectives including:

★ 2013 - Recipient of the Box Sales Achiever and Box Sales Grinder Award (Only 1 given in the entire sales organization)

★ 2012 - Featured in CRN as "100 People You Should Know in 2012"

★ 2011 - Awarded the US VMware SMB Champ of the Year, Top PBM for the West Enterprise and chosen for the Americas Leadership Program. SMB Territory - Achieved 102%

★ 2010 - #1 Operation in the nation for Cisco (a $43M+ operation) - Achieved 119%

★ 2009 - #1 Territory in Unified Communications deals tied to 0% financing 

★ 2008 - #1 Channel partner recruiter in the nation - Achieved 218%

★ Ranked as the #1 presenter out of a graduating class of over 80 trainees within Cisco

★ Created 14 iPhone Apps that amassed over 400,000 downloads to date. Top apps have hit #3 in Business, #30 in Business, #100 in Lifestyle and #15 in iPad Entertainment.

★ Published author and his business book "The Resume is Dead" has over 40,000 kindle downloads and hit #1 in the resume category on Amazon.

3. Add value to the community - A great LinkedIn profile is only great if people actually see it. That's why it's critical for you to make sure you have visibility. And you do that by building a brand. One great way to build your brand is by contributing value to your LinkedIn network. You can do this in a few ways:

  • Write a blog post using LInkedIn's publishing tool - By writing on topics where you're a subject matter expert (for example: Sales, Marketing, Technology, Management, etc), you'll begin to build your online brand. Make sure you focus on writing high quality articles that really help people. You could write a long form story, a listicle or perhaps a few short tips on your subject. For example, I wrote a book about job hunting called "The Resume is Dead," so I started blogging on LinkedIn with career tips and wrote a post that included 500 of the top interview questions and answers. It got over 300,000 views. Think it helped to build my brand? You betcha. Anyway, in addition to writing high quality content that adds value, if you want to make your writing interactive and fun, use images in your writing too.

Below is a screenshot of where you can write a post on LinkedIn.

  • Here's another way to add value - Share blog posts or news articles on the topic that you want to be an expert in. No one said you always had to create the content from scratch.
  • Poll the audience in your LinkedIn posts to get more interactive with your network - For example, if you want to build a brand as a career expert, you could write a poll on LinkedIn that asks, "What are your biggest challenges in finding your dream job?"

4. Highlight your raving fans - Ask your ex and current coworkers to help you by writing a recommendation of your work on LinkedIn. To help this process along, write a recommendation for them to start with (make sure that you actually believe they're doing great work first, of course!). It's a numbers game, if you ask 50 people, expect that only 5-10 will actually take the time to write you a recommendation. This can be incredibly powerful because often times in interviews people will ask you for recommendations. In this case, you can simply point them to LinkedIn and you've got a recommendation right there in front of them. #MakingItHappen

5. Build your network - Do go to more networking events. Do make an effort to meet people over coffee and lunch (my two cents: never eat alone. it's more fun that way anyway). Do get to know your coworkers. Do host more events. As you naturally network more in real life, always remember to add these people on LinkedIn. Over time you'll see your network expand. That's how I've built nearly 6,000 connections and over 8,000 followers on LinkedIn over the years.  Don't randomly add people on LinkedIn (this can get you banned if too many people complain).

You know your networking has hit "next level" when you start to do handshakes like this:

 6. Showcase your work - Don't just list out your job responsibilities in a vanilla way. Make sure that you showcase your achievements in your role. Highlight what you've worked on and what the outcome of those actions were. 

For example, here's a "vanilla" way of stating your job responsibilities and results:

  • Managed clients and was responsible for sales efforts

Here's an awesome way of describing it:

  • Managed 5 Fortune 100 clients and grew revenue 105% year over year and was the #1 salesperson on the team

Who would you hire? The first or the second person? My bet is on the second person. Ask yourself - does the job description showcase you as the rock star that you are? And if not, how can you change it so that it clearly describes your achievements? If you don't have any achievements, that's a different story. Start changing that by doing great work. 

7. Use tools that help you expand your LinkedIn network - One of my favorite tools is a gmail plugin called Rapportive. Once you install it, you can see LinkedIn profiles pop up in gmail instantly once you type in their email. It's really powerful because it reminds you to add them on LinkedIn right away. This way you don't have to switch to LinkedIn, type in their full name to search for them and then add them as a contact. It saves a ton of time! Check it out here: https://rapportive.com/ (Here's an example below of how it works)

8. Get feedback - While your profile might look great to you, get a reality check. Ask your colleagues and friends what they think could be improved on your LinkedIn profile. They could offer some really great insight. 

9. Fill out your profile completely - Whether it's the Honors and Awards, Education, Skills or Languages section, make sure you fill it out as thoroughly as you can. You never know, one of those sections could be absolutely critical in helping you land your dream job, so don't neglect it.

10. Get started - The hardest part to all of this is just getting started. Your dream job is out there waiting for you. What are you waiting for? Make it happen. Now. 


How can I stop being average?

Learn to persevere

  • My 2nd Quora post has 366 views. My 6th Quora post has 98,000 views. My 13th Quora post has 548,000 views.
  • Everyone sucks in the beginning. It's what you do after the beginning that counts.
  • I had to make 14 iPhone apps just to get to 4 that made the top 100 in different categories
  • My first book sold less than 50 copies. My second book has over 40,000 Kindle downloads.

Find 5 awesome people crushing it in life

  • Spend time with those people. You are who you spend your time with.Awesomeness is contagious.

Find your purpose

  • Purpose will fuel your motivation
  • Imagine waking up every day excited for you've set out to accomplish. That passion alone will propel you to the next level.

Take action now

  • Getting started is half the battle. Just focus on getting started. The inertia will keep you going.

Understand the value of time

  • Your time here is so freaking valuable. Do you really want to look back one day and ask "what if?"
  • Better to look forward and to say "what's possible?"
  • Most people don't push themselves to be better than average mainly because they never have a sense of urgency. Understanding the value of time changes that.
  • Life is short. Make the most out of your time here.

The CEO Lifestyle Podcast is live!

Hey Everyone,

I'm excited to announce that my first podcast is officially live on the Apple store!  This podcast features an inspiring true story of one of my closest friends who went through a four year battle for survival.  His battle includes flat lining in the hospital, 11 months of dialysis and countless moments of adversity. 

And yet, he had the strength and courage to continue to push forward.

Hear his incredible true story and get inspired to live life to the fullest.  Listen now!

CEO Lifestyle Podcast #1



What is the one thing that motivates you in life whenever you think about it?

The story of one of my best friends, Jerry. He told me this story over dinner.

The day after prom, Jerry woke up with swollen ankles. He thought he might have sprained his ankles, so he went to see the doctor.

The doctor felt like something was wrong, so he ran some tests.

And then he sat Jerry down.

“Jerry…You have Nephrotic Syndrome. This means your kidneys are diseased and unless you take oral steroids, you could possibly die from kidney failure.”

Jerry was 17 at the time.

Jerry’s heart sank. He immediately began the steroid medication.

The side effects were terrible. His face swelled up, broke out in acne, his body ached and hair grew everywhere.

He said it made him feel like a "monster."

So he decided to stop taking the pills. The side effects began to go away and Jerry was back to living a normal life.

For a while.

One day, after two weeks of headaches and dizziness, Jerry went to sleep, woke up, opened his eyes and could only see darkness.

He was rushed to the emergency room.

Because he went off his meds, both his kidneys had failed. 

The only way he would survive was with a kidney transplant. It was complicated though: He was O+ blood type.

This meant he could only receive a donation from someone who was O+.

And so he went on dialysis for 11 straight months waiting for a donor.

Imagine getting a tube jammed down a hole in your shoulder so that your blood could be cleaned. Yeah, that's dialysis.

This process would take 4 hours a day and he had to do it 4 times a week.

Finally, one day, a friend offered to donate and was a match.

However, before he could donate, he would have to pass a series of tests to be eligible.

The first test was the genetic marker test. At least 3 out of 6 had to match. 3 matched.

The second test was a physical. He passed.

The third test was a psychological test. He failed.

He could no longer donate his kidney to Jerry.

Shortly thereafter, Jerry’s mom received a letter stating that Jerry was back on the donor list. When she received the letter, she began to sob hysterically and asked, "why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because I didn’t want to break your heart.”

His heart sank just saying that.

One day, his mom was at the gym, running on the treadmill.

Suddenly, she began crying uncontrollably.

A woman noticed her crying and asked, “Are you ok?”

She replied, “You can’t help me, just leave me alone,”

The woman walked away.

And then, surprisingly, she came back.

“Look, something is telling me to come talk to you, so what’s wrong?”

“Well, if you really want to know, my son is dying and we can’t find someone to donate a kidney to him because of his blood type.”

“What’s his blood type?” asked the woman.

“O positive.”

“I’m O positive. I’ll donate," the lady replied.

Jerry’s mom was completely taken aback. Just think about this for a second: A random stranger in the gym, whom she had never spoken to, just volunteered to donate her kidney to save her son.

They ran the tests.

The first test was to match 3 out of 6 genetic markers. She matched 6, a perfect match.

The second test was to pass the physical. She passed.

The third test was to pass a psychological test. She passed.

There was only one catch.

The doctor didn’t want to operate on someone who was 55 or older.

Guess how old she was?

She was 54. Just two weeks from being 55!

They did the surgery immediately. The day Jerry woke up from the surgery, he said he felt 10 times better. Because of a stranger's kindness, Jerry is alive and healthy today (and doing well according to the Facebook posts and messages I still see from him!)

So what's her story?

Well, she was a widow and never had kids. She’s now part of Jerry's family and is over for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

When Jerry had finished telling me his incredible story, I could only think of one thing:

Life can be fragile. Life can be unpredictable. Life can be short.

So every time I'm blessed with another day where I wake up, I'm going to make the most out of it.

The #1 Myth About Job Hunting

The #1 Myth About Job Hunting

I started by submitting resumes to 10 different companies as a warm up. You know, just to get comfortable with the rhythm and the process. I reached out to Zynga, a really successful online gaming company. I submitted online and even had a friend refer me internally. I did get a call back from a recruiter but she was quick to point out that I didn’t have recent gaming experience in the last 3 years. She said we’ll “put you into a different pile” based on the lack of recent experience.