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5 Characteristics of Successful People and a Few Key Questions You Should Ask Yourself

Who are the most successful people in business today? You could probably build quite an extensive list of innovators and visionaries who have built impressive careers and truly made a mark on the world. Even on a smaller scale in your local business and personal networks, there are probably people who just seem to have superior insight and always catch all the breaks.

Can you chalk it up to just pure, dumb luck? Or being in the right place at the right time? Sometimes, maybe, but if you look deeper, you‘ll likely notice a few key characteristics highly successful people seem to share. And the best part – those characteristics aren’t unattainable. You may just need to ask yourself a few key questions.

Successful people have an insatiable thirst for knowledge.
Albert Einstein said, “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.” Highly successful people have a predisposition for curiosity – and they’re willing to go to great lengths to satisfy it. From reading the latest business books, attending seminars and workshops, or seeking out a subject matter expert, successful people are forever on a quest to build their knowledge base.

Quench your thirst by asking yourself:

  • Who are the knowledge leaders in my industry and how can I connect with them?
  • Who are the people in my own business or personal networks I may be able to build a mentoring relationship with?
  • To what length am I willing or able to go to build my knowledge base (i.e. advanced education, getting more involved in professional organizations, etc.)?

Successful people have an unshakable system of moral and ethical codes.
Just as many companies have a set of core values that serve as guidelines for the way they do business, highly successful people have a set of core values that govern their own personal conduct. And they refuse to stray from them – even when an alternative course of action seems easier in the short run.

Stay true blue by asking yourself:

  • What is my personal mission statement?
  • What are some moral/ethical issues I have confronted in the past and how did I respond? How would I do it differently if given the chance?
  • How will other key stakeholders be affected by my actions or decisions in the short-term? In the long-term?

Successful people are unapologetically passionate.
Driven by passion, successful people don’t view their work as something they have to do; rather it’s something they get to do. And it’s that drive that often makes them a formidable competitor. Success, at its core, is driven by passion. Passionate people are focused, steadfast, and often very stubborn.

Feed your passion by asking yourself:

  • Is my job something I would do even if I weren’t being paid to do it?
  • What are the biggest influences that have defined my career path (i.e. family, salary, work-life balance, etc.)?
  • What are some of my perceived constraints, both personal and professional, and am I willing or able to take steps to overcome them?

Successful people prefer the road less traveled.
Big risks often come with big rewards. Successful people know this fact and rarely shy away from an opportunity to blaze a new trail. Some of history’s greatest achievements and innovations are due to people who weren’t afraid to take a chance on a big idea. And if you were to look at the path they took to success, you’d likely see a pattern of consistently pushing the limits along the way.

Step out on a limb by asking yourself:

  • What are some of the biggest risks I’ve taken and what factors – both positive and negative – could have affected the outcome?
  • What can I truly gain from taking a leap of faith? Am I taking a risk for the right reasons?
  • Are there significant consequences to not taking a particular risk?

Successful people have failed, and will fail again.
Renowned author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said, “If you learn from defeat, you haven’t really lost.” It’s sage advice that may as well be declared the official mantra of highly successful people. Not only do they acknowledge that they have failed, but they also know it could – and probably will – happen again. The difference – highly successful people take the lessons they’ve learned from past failures to heart, learn from it, and are thus better prepared to deal with it in the future.

Get back up on the horse by asking yourself:

  • Now that I’ve learned what not to do, what are my immediate next steps? Then, how do I adjust my tactics for long-term success?
  • What scares me most about failure? Is it a truly rational or legitimate fear, or is it all in my head?
  • Looking back on some times in the past when I’ve failed, at any point did the world end?

This is by no means a definitive list.
Everyone’s journey toward success is different and there are many more questions that should be asked along the way. This piece is only meant to plant the seed and start a conversation. What are some other important characteristics you have found to be vital to success? What are some other questions you should ask yourself to ensure you’re heading down the right path? Let us know in the comments section below.


5 Quick Tips to Remember When Leading Employees Who Are Older Than You

As younger generations advance in their careers and start to take on more prominent roles within their companies, it’s very likely many will find themselves in a position where they may have direct reports who are older, and in many ways, more experienced.

It can be a tricky position for a young leader, so it’s vitally important to get off on the right foot when taking on a new leadership role. Here are a few things for young leaders to keep in mind when leading older employees.

Be confident, but not arrogant.
Confidence can be your most powerful tool. A team will rally behind leaders who show they believe in their abilities and have a clear vision of how and where they want to lead. However, there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Acting like you’re above those you lead only breeds contempt. Actions speak louder than words, so be prepared to show every employee that you not only believe in yourself and have the skills to lead, but that you are also willing to walk the walk.

Validate their experience.
Even though a young leader may have truly earned a position of leadership over older co-workers, it doesn’t mean they automatically know everything. It’s important to always give credit where credit is due. Older employees often have the benefit of years of experience behind them, so young leaders should be willing to tap into that knowledge. Ask for input and opinions. Validate their experience and learn from those workers who have been around and have valuable insight to offer.

Understand the generations.
Every generation has its own opinions about those that came before and those that follow. The values, beliefs, and work ethics of one generation may not have any bearing on another, so it’s important to understand the different generations in the workplace and what motivates each one. Great leaders understand that what drives a Baby Boomer to achieve is likely going to be completely different than what a Millennial needs to perform at their best. There’s a delicate balance between the generations, but with a little understanding it will be much easier to bridge any gaps.

Be patient.
We all get set in our ways. It’s just human nature. So, when a young leader comes rushing into a teamat full throttle and starts making major changes on day one, they’re likely to leave some people behind. Remember, what comes naturally for one generation, may require a bit of a learning curve for another. Technology is a perfect example. A Millennial leader who was never more than an arm’s length away from the latest device growing up is likely going to have a much easier time adapting to new technology than a Baby Boomer employee who may be behind the technological curve.

Think of yourself as a leader, not a manager.
In the end, it’s often a matter of perception. Rather than acting as a manager your team feels like they have to “report” to, try to be seen as a leader they want to rally behind. No matter their age, if you can earn an employee’s respect, the most difficult part of leading them is over. Once you’ve shown you are confident and competent, getting a team to work with and follow you comes naturally.

Do you lead employees who are older than you? Describe your experiences or best practices in the comments section below.


The Results Are In: How Do You Handle the Extra Workload During the Holiday Season?

In October, we asked how you plan to handle the extra workload many businesses experience during the busy holiday season. From increased business volume to employees taking time off to be with family and friends, the fourth quarter often brings about a variety of productivity challenges.

Surprisingly, a majority of respondents either “don’t make any adjustments to their workforce” (35%) or “offer overtime and incentives to their current staff” (34%). “Hiring seasonal/temporary workers through a staffing firm” came in third with 21% of the votes, followed by “hiring full-time employees” and “outsourcing projects” at 4% and 2%, respectively.

Some respondents chose the “other” option and gave a variety of suggestions, including:

  • Prohibiting vacations in the month of December
  • Creating a system for allotting time off
  • Hiring summer students back
  • Working overtime without increase in pay/incentive

One industry that is often most affected by increased business volume during the holiday season is retail.

Holiday shopping projections look positive.
Professional services giant, Deloitte, recently released the results of its annual holiday survey. According to the survey, total holiday spending is expected to increase 12% over 2012 due in large part to an increase in consumer confidence and a more positive outlook on household finances and job security.

Online shopping continues to boom.
The Deloitte survey also found that for the first time, the “Internet” was cited as the top venue for shopping this holiday season, followed by “discount/value department stores” at 44% and “traditional department stores at 28%.

Social media will have an impact.
Nearly half (45%) of the respondents to the Deloitte survey say social media will play a role in their holiday shopping in a variety of ways:

  • Research gift ideas – 48%
  • To find discounts – 44%
  • Read reviews, “likes,” or recommendations – 40%
  • Browse products – 37%
  • Check what gifts family/friends want – 35%
  • Post comments/share links – 25%
  • Go to retailer’s fan page – 21%

In fact, consumers now feel they are more knowledgeable than ever about their choices. Nearly 60% of respondents said they feel they are better connected to consumer information – like coupons, pricing, and product availability – than in-store sales associates.

Despite increases in e-commerce, retailers still expected to hire.
While there’s little doubt about the significant impact of online shopping, retailers are still expected to hire as many as 780,000 seasonal workers for the 2013 holiday shopping season, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

Are the holidays a busy time for your company?
The NRF estimates that for many businesses, November and December sales can represent between 20-40% of a business’ annual sales. Are the holidays a busy time for your company? If so, how do you plan to address the increased business volume? Let us know in the comments section below.


Rules of the Road

By  · November 12th, 2013

You’ve heard it said, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” This is good advice on many fronts. When you’re dealing with another country, another language, or another culture, it is critical to learn some of the basic elements that people are expecting so you can show respect in every situation.

Success is a culture of its own. Successful people do different things, act differently, and conduct themselves in unique ways. If you’re going to be accepted in the Roman culture, there are certain specific details expected of you. If you’re going to be accepted in the success culture, you need to understand the rules and expectations.

Here is a checklist that may assist you along your road to success.

  1. In every situation, in every contact, and in every encounter, ask yourself, “What would I do if I were amazing?” Winners are winners all the time. You don’t get a day or even a moment off.
  2. Remember, you are leaving a trail behind. Your letters and even email messages will be going into someone’s files. It’s not only what you say, but how you say it. Typos and improper grammar do matter. Success is a matter of attention to details. Google yourself, and check out what the world is seeing.
  3. Keep a file of birthdays, anniversaries, information about children, parents, etc. and any other details from conversations or correspondence that you can use in future interactions. Your product, service, or business proposal may be like all the others, but if you’re the one who remembered their ailing parent, kid’s little league game, or their recent fishing trip, you are a superstar.
  4. Get into a regularly scheduled routine of contacts. When you’re chasing the big fish in your world, they are constantly in the forefront of your thinking, but you have to work to stay on their radar. Clip out an article, and send a handwritten note telling them this reminded you of them. Send them a book you have read with a note about how it reminded you of their success or the potential you feel you may have in a relationship with a successful person.
  5. The whole world is, indeed, a stage. Look and act the part. Dress for success. Be prepared with business cards, thank you notes, and promotional material whenever and wherever it may be needed.
  6. The handwritten thank you note is still the key to the kingdom. It’s never been more true that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
  7. Be sure to make at least half of your conversations and correspondence aimed at you providing value for the other person. It’s easy to fall in the trap of always asking for something when successful people understand the reciprocal nature of achievement.
  8. Read the newspapers, magazines, and books that the top people in your field read. Attend the meetings and conferences they attend. It’s not just a matter of what you will learn. It’s a chance to be seen among the successful people or even as one of the successful people.
  9. Be polite and professional at all times. You will be known for a career of excellence or a handful of weak moments. Never react or respond in anger. Give it some time and space.
  10. Always give back. The people at the top are constantly helping others and providing value for causes that matter to them. They do it because it is the right thing to do, but they receive the added bonus of identifying themselves among the successful people.

In addition to these 10 tips, think of unique skills, talents, or interests you have that might bring some unique value to those around you in the business and success world.

As you go through your day today, don’t guess about what you should do. Just follow the leaders.

Today’s the day!


Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift. He is also a columnist and motivational speaker. He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK 74145-9082; by e-mail at; or on Facebook at


Express Employment Professionals Hosts Pay it Forward Hiring Drive to Find Jobs for Unemployed People During Holidays

LONDON, ONTARIO, November 1, 2013 – The Express Employment Professionals office in London, Ontario will host a Pay it Forward Hiring Drive to put 360 unemployed individuals to work this holiday season. The goal of this drive is to help give encouragement and purpose to as many job seekers as possible by providing them the opportunity to earn a week’s worth of pay and help provide for their families during the holidays.  

            By joining Express in this hiring effort, employers will gain a qualified worker and give the gift of employment to an individual who would otherwise not work during the weeks of December 2 and December 9, 2013. Express associates and contractors are screened and evaluated before being placed in short- and long-term assignments in a variety of administrative, professional and commercial positions.

“Pay it Forward to us means working with local businesses to help find jobs for unemployed workers in our community so they can earn a pay cheque and help support their families this season,” said Sharon Mercer, partner in the London Express office. “Our vision is to lock arms with businesses in London and area to bring hope to local families for the holidays.”

This program will provide businesses with the additional support often needed during a busy time of the year while helping someone provide for their family.

Companies and individuals interested in participating in the Pay it Forward Hiring Drive can call the London office at 519-672-7620 for more information.

The London Express Employment Professionals franchise, formerly Contact Human Resource Group began operation in 1979 and serves London and area businesses with temporary/contract help and direct hire employees in a variety of fields, including administrative, engineering, human resources, accounting/finance and general labour. 

Express is on a mission to put a million people to work annually. Worldwide, Express put more than 367,000 people to work in 2012 with more than 600 offices in the U.S., Canada and South Africa. Express provides expertise in evaluation hire, temporary staffing, professional search and human resources and works across a wide variety of industries. Temporary staffing sales for the international staffing franchise company totaled more than $2.3 billion in 2012. 

The London office, located at 300 Dundas Street, Unit 200 is currently accepting applications. For more information, call 519-672-7620 or visit



For More Information:

Sharon Mercer
Express Employment Professionals
300 Dundas Street, Unit 200
London, Ontario N6B 1T6


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