10 skills I learned while studying that have helped me in life

Although study may seem like an annoying, boring and/or painful process, their are a lot of like skills that can be obtained through a tertiary (or trade) education. 

These skills can greatly impact your results in life.

When I first started studying several years ago I remember thinking I knew it all and that nothing could overcome me.

Since then I've have learned a number of skills (including humility) which have gone on to serve me in all aspects of life.

As a result, I have learned the following ten skills I have learned while studying:
1. Don't be afraid to be wrong: Many people in life often are afraid to speak up in case what they say is wrong. What is the worst that could happen if you are wrong? Chances are you will have an opportunity to learn something new and to grow, while also being seen as someone willing to try and 'have a go' at tasks, problems and new situations.
2. Time Management: I am continuing to improve the management of my time daily. Initially I was disorganised, had no idea what I was doing, and felt totally overwhelmed. By learning to manage multiple projects, deadlines and objectives, I have been able to increase my productivity and success for different priorities.
3. Persistence: Have you ever felt like dropping out and letting something you want go? How hard are you willing to work for your dreams? Sometimes we feel like giving up, but persisting is worth it.
4. Presentation: The ability to present both yourself and your work effectively is a vital skill to lifelong success. How you present yourself alters others' opinions of you dramatically, and can greatly improve your chances of success.
5. Communication skills: Being able to effectively communicate your thoughts and ideas across to a mass audience is important for success. Communications skills help when trying to obtain employment later on in life. Communication is not all verbal, and can take into account presentation also.
6. Leadership: Team work can to be a frustrating experience for a typical university student. Have you ever worked in a team environment before? Establishing yourself as a leader can greatly improve your earning potential when leaving studies.
7. Review: Following the old proverbial wisdom of 'measure twice and cut once', double checking work before submission can greatly improve your results and help[ provide additional clarity to work that might have been otherwise average on the first draft.
8. Budget: While not directly a university skill, budgeting is an essential skill for a tertiary student to master. Having money to pay bills, go out with friends, pay for books, save, etc. all require a tight budget when on a limited income.
9: Patience: Sometimes tasks (and people) can be quite frustrating. It is during times of frustration that we all tend to fly off the handle and say or do things we regret later . Learning patience is a life long skill. Mastering the ability to be patient can ensure you have more harmonious relationships and positive results.
10: Project Management: Many of us start a project gun-ho without a plan for completion. You see this in small businesses all the time, whereby an entrepreneur will start a business without a plan for execution and an exit strategy. Project management is becoming a more important skill in personal life, as well as within a commercial context.

If you have undertaken study post high-school I would highly recommend you reflect on the time you invested. 

Think about what you have learned, but not just from classes. 

Try and reflect on the life long lessons that you have learned while there which have continued to serve you in your working life. 

Also try and find skills that you should have learned, but may not have applied as of yet.

How have these skills affected where your life is today? 

How could you further improve your life by applying additional life skills you observe?

Six investments for making a start in life

So how exactly does one begin to make a start in life? 

Years ago, people used to just go to work, save for a car and a house, then work to pay them off. Nowadays it has become more complicated. 

In a world that requires you to be more, you need to have more to make a successful start.

Here are six investments one should make to get a good start to their life:
1. Education: It's funny just how many people leave school thinking they won't ever need any more education, and that they are finished. Education comes in many shapes and forms however, and a few essential skills are really required to leverage your abilities in the beginning. These skills are broken down into subsections:

  • Occupational Education: Learning and becoming an expert within a specific occupation will help you to improve your abilities and results when seeking higher paying employment as you progress through life.
  • Technical Education: As computers become more and more a part of everyday society, technical skills are becoming an essential that are often overlooked in some university courses. It is likely that in the future everyone will need to have their own website, as well as the ability to prepare quality documentation and reports, special graphs and timelines, etc. in order to be able to efficiently leverage their personal services. I personally found TAFE colleges provided a lot of this ability for me, and now I am teaching friends at university the skills I learned at a much more cost-effective price.
  • Financial Education: Learning about how to manage finances is so crucial to a successful and happy retirement, but it is always overlooked. Take responsibility for your actions and begin learning about how to financially prosper in your life.
  • International Education: As we become a more global society, learning about how other countries work is becoming more and more important. In particular, being able to understand cultural differences, different rules, regulations and languages is a good habits to start investing in while you are young.
2. A Car: While some people may protest to the contrary, I firmly believe investing in a car despite some of the associated costs is a huge benefit when starting out in life. 

Why do I believe this? I offer the following suggestions:
  • Independence: Owning a car begins to help individuals learn the importance of transporting themselves around, and not relying on others.
  • Responsibility: Learning how to be a responsible citizen can be perfectly demonstrated through driving. Other people's lives are at risk based on how you act in a car.
  • Ability to travel: When I was in my teenage years, I remember that going to bigger shopping malls was a huge hassle, as I would have to spend half the day either waiting or sitting on public transport. With a car, it only takes half an hour.
  • Increased employment opportunities: Most people overlook just how important a car is in their life until they have not had one for a while. Without a car, you are not able to get to higher paying jobs that provide more hours. Some jobs offer travel which is an opportunity usually missed without a car.
Please note: I don't recommend that anyone gets a loan for their first car (or any car for that matter). Just get a small, economical car that is cheap. I didn't get a loan for my car, but I wish I had got a more fuel efficient car, as I would have had more disposable cash.
3. Savings: Establishing a savings pattern as early as possible is the best idea I have been introduced to. Saving to spend on holidays or a iPhone is not a good idea, but saving and keeping money in the bank has many benefits, including:

  • Increased confidence: You won't be so dependant on a job if you have money in the bank.
  • Leverage: If you lose a job or don't get enough hours, savings can help you to get through the lean times (provided they are topped up again).
  • Investment opportunities: the ability to invest in your own business or other investments is a great opportunity that usually requires some capital set aside.
4. A computer: Investing in your own computer is a must! Here's why:
  • Needed for work tasks: Most jobs require a computer nowadays to some degree.
  • A social outlet: Facebook, twitter, etc. are an important way of staying in touch with difficult to reach friends.
  • Income: You can start a business online (such as on eBay, or a website of your own) and begin making extra income.
  • Research: Ability to 'Google' any subject known to man.
  • Opportunity: Having my own computer has put me in an interesting situation where the company I work for allows me to be able to work from home.
5. A camera: Having a way to take photos of those moments that in years time you will want to look back on is a great opportunity. 

If a camera can film you can also make videos to upload to your blog or Youtube.
6: Travel: I haven't had the ability to travel yet, but I am planning to do so in the next few years. 

Travel provides a number of opportunities, namely:
  • Experience of different cultures.
  • Learn a new language.
  • Experience different foods.
  • Make new friends.
  • Enjoy some time away from the norm.
  • Develop new priorities in life.
There are other things you can invest in when first starting out in life. These six however will provide new opportunities and experiences. 

What things did you invest in when making a start in life, that you have found to be of benefit to you?

Give more thought to debt elimination by taking C.A.R.E.

Are you in debt? 

Do you have a personal loan, a credit card, a car or house loan? 

Are you struggling to repay your debt and live the life you are aspiring to? 

If you want to eliminate your debt then you need to take a little C.A.R.E. in managing your finances.

How do I take C.A.R.E.?

C.A.R.E. is an acronym I have developed for helping you to get out of debt in a most efficient manner. 

It involves following four simple steps, which are outlined below.
  1. Cut off your supply lines: Stop using debt to fund your life style. Cut up credit cards, don't take on any new loans and get used to the feeling of financing your life using what cash you do/don't receive from your income. Cut off the addiction that has got you to the point you are currently at.
  2. Allocate cash to debt principle: Start with one loan and allocate any spare cash you have to paying down the principle. This will begin to reduce the amount of interest you pay. Reducing the interest paid while continuing to repay the same amount (or more) will increase the amount you are allocating to the principle, which will help get you out of debt faster.
  3. Remove one outstanding loan at a time: Don't try and pay them all of at once with the extra cash you have, eliminate the first, then apply the amount that was being paid on that to the second. Once the second loan is paid off, take the money from the first and second and apply it to the third. Do this until you have paid off all your debt.
  4. Embrace new financial habits: Once you have paid off all your debt, continue to stay away from loans and other lures to spend money. Get into the habit of saving money on a regular basis.  Put more effort into your career and aim for a promotion.

How to monitor your financial success in all market climates.

(Photo Source: http://www.wealthtipsonline.com.au/innercircle/hotopic1.html)

Is there a secret to maintaining and growing your wealth through all financial times? 

The short answer is yes, with a bit of study and application. 

The answer may be found in the economic clock.
What is an economic clock?

An economic clock (See the photo above) is to help individuals, investors, businesses, etc. with tracking the economic cycle of a countries economy. 

The above clock goes into a little further detail and recommends when and how to manage your financial investments.
A strategy for each stage of the cycle

A good thing about the wealth clock above, is that it provides a financial strategy for each step of the cycle. 

What do you do when the market is at a high point? 

In between a high and a low? It's all contained in the clock.

If you would like more detail on how to use the economic clock then go to:

  1. http://www.wealthtipsonline.com.au/innercircle/hotopic1.html
  2. http://www.enziosclock.com/economic/clock
  3. http://www.startrungrow.com/information/investment/6,2983,the-investment-clock.htm
These sites should help give you a bit of an insight and knowledge into how the clock words, and from there you may be better educated on how the economic cycle works, and how to respond to it.

Book Review: How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

I recently completed reading How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie. Dale Carnegie was renowned for his best-selling book How to Win Friends and Influence People, but this was written years later.

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living covers two main aspects in life:

  1. Reducing and/or eliminating all the worry in your life that is causing you problems, and
  2. Hints and tips to start living your life to the max.
Carnegie provides stories that cover each point he makes in the book. 

While some of these points might seem simple, generic or common sense, implementation of these steps is the hardest part. The stories provided aid in demonstrating how others have implemented simple but useful strategies in their life with positive results.

Personally, I found a few sections that provided interesting tips. 

The main ones for me were how to add one waking hour a day to your life (by taking a nap in the middle of the day, due to the compounding effect of sleep), and four good working habits, namely:
  1. Clear your desk of all papers except those relating to the immediate problem at hand.
  2. Do things in the order of their importance.
  3. When you face a problem, solve it then and there if you have the facts necessary to make a decision. Don't keep putting off decisions.
  4. Learn to Organize, Deputize and Supervise.
This alone was only two chapters from book. 

There is great content throughout the entire work, and I personally found it more useful than How to Win Friends & Influence People.

Do you worry about various issues, whether small or large? 

Are you stressed at work, or feel you are not performing as well as you could potentially? 

This book is a great read and will greatly assist you in reducing your worry and helping you to take control and to live your life.

Building a Mastermind Group + 21 Tips from Mentors

The concept of a Mastermind group comes from Napoleon Hill, way back in his first book "The Law of Success" (Highly Recommended). 

Napoleon Hill explains that having a group whereby you discuss how you are progressing in relation to achieving your goals is essential to your success. 

The group usually meets regularly on a weekly basis to discuss their current projects, goals, etc. and then the group discusses various possibilities, allowing individuals with different experiences and backgrounds to give their opinion.

Many people find the idea of creating a Mastermind group a difficult concept. 

The reality is, that most of us have been a part of one in our lives previously without knowing it was the case. 

A Mastermind can usually be seen in a working environment in the form of a meeting. 

Meetings are an opportunity for members of the team to creatively brainstorm ideas for certain issues arising within a business.

How do you start a Mastermind group for your personal success? 

I offer three suggestions:
  1. Find a group of like-minded people and see what they are involved in: They may have a Mastermind group already you can join, but you need to make sure you get along with the people who will be helping you with your personal success.
  2. Arrange to meet with a small group of these individuals: Usually on a weekly basis is ideal. It does not have to be a formal environment. Meeting for breakfast or a coffee could be a great way to start the group and keep it relaxed while still getting results.
  3. Develop consistency for meeting: Find a set location, time, people for attending, etc. If you contemplate new members coming into the group, make sure they are screened before being accepted permanently, as they may not harmonize with other members of the group.

I personally have found having mentors and a group who regularly meets to be beneficial, even if it is really informal. 

It has allowed both myself and others to receive insights into alternative ways to progress forward in their journey toward success.
21 Tips I have learned from Mentors and Mastermind Groups:

Some of these tips contradict each other, but it is interesting to see the insight I have received from different people. 

You don't have to apply all of these, but some of these have certainly helped me, and will help me into the future.

  1. Save 10 percent of all you earn.
  2. Read the Richest Man in Babylon (from a man who runs two businesses, and has around10-15 investment properties).
  3. Read and re-read Think and Grow Rich, using it as a tool through life.
  4. Buy property and never sell. Build if it is more financially viable.
  5. Enjoy the journey, not the destination.
  6. Invest in yourself, and your own businesses.
  7. Start very small, and progress.
  8. The first $10,000 is the hardest.
  9. Conduct a S.W.O.T. Analysis on yourself.
  10. If you want $1,000 a month in passive income, aim to get $100 a month, then $200, then build on it from there.
  11. Always give more value than you expect in return.
  12. Give without the expectation of return.
  13. You are an international player. Be prepared to work, invest and live in multiple countries.
  14. Five minutes of thinking will save you two hours of hard work.
  15. Give work to the busy people as they will get the work done.
  16. Rent rather than buying (personal property), and invest your deposit. Buy outright later on.
  17. To learn something properly: Watch one, do one and then teach one.
  18. Simplify your needs to reduce your expenses.
  19. Always keep learning.
  20. It is not how much you earn, but how much you don't spend (aka how much you keep).
  21. When in a bad situation, focus on what you can control. Keep up your exercise, maintain your health, focus on improving your knowledge, work well, etc.
How has your success in life been to date? 

If you are not progressing towards your goal, could a Mastermind group or a mentor be beneficial to you?

Take action now (small steps) and start claiming the financial success you desire in life.

Ten steps to making your change work for you

  1. Always ask for your change: Quite regularly, we think that it is stingy to ask for our change or to point out we have been overcharged 30c for something. Ensuring you get the right amount of change is the first step in ensuring that your change will work for you.
  2. Put your change somewhere straight away: I put mine either in a small pocket in my backpack, in the glove box of my car or in my safe at home, depending where I am. The important thing is to get it out of your pockets and wallet so it won't take up space, or get spent.
  3. Collect regularly from your change deposit spots and move to one location: For me, I will move my coins out of my backpack, car, etc. once or twice a week and put them into my safe at home. This puts them out of sight, but also prevents me from losing a few coins.
  4. Forget about them: Instill these first steps into your mind and then forget you even have the coins, letting them build up over a few months. Ideally, only check your coin stockpile monthly (preferably quarterly).
  5. Get some coin bags from your bank: As your stockpile builds, you will want to get some bags to store it in, as bringing hundreds of coins to a bank without them organised properly can result in a potential miscount.
  6. Withdraw your money from the 'safe' location: Get the coins out, count them up and bag them accordingly.
  7. Count up the amount total: Write it down to take with you to the bank.
  8. Deposit money in the bank: It might cost a dollar or two in teller fees, but it is worth it. Put it in your savings account.
  9. Don't touch the money: Once it is in the bank, leave your change sitting their as dollars, earning interest. Don't move it unless you find an account that will give you a higher return on investment. This will allow you to start making money from your change.
  10. Repeat the process: Start back at number one and begin to start again. Do this several times a year, all while watching the interest build.
How much could an extra $300-$400 a year in change be worth to you if saved over the period of your life? 

Assuming $300 a year at a bank interest rate of 6%, with another $300 added a year for 40 years (average working life span) then your coins will be worth $49,514.31 at retirement.

What could you do to improve the way your change works for you?

Five steps I use for screening potential business ideas

I recently received a question from a reader (Thanks Justin) asking how I screen potential business ideas. 

This post is a response on how I personally go about screening ideas as to their commercial viability.

Essentially, there are five main steps I would recommend anyone go through when screening a commercial opportunity:

One: Assessing the idea in relation to your personal goals:
If your goal is to make $100,000 a year in passive income so you can work less, don't go for a business that might make you $1 million but will take 80 hours a week for five years to get it off the ground.

Figure out your personal goals then look for businesses that dovetail with those goals.

Two: Breadth and scope of the opportunity:
Depending on whose idea it is, how well mapped out is it? 

Is there a solid analysis of the potential to succeed, or is it just based on someones instincts? 

Are you able to conduct this business from anywhere in the world, or do you have a set location? 

Many questions such as these should be asked, with a view to ensuring that there is potential for this idea commercially and not just as an idea.
Three: Market analysis: 

Is there a starving crowd for the product/service of this business? 

If people won't buy it, then why bother? You might have the best idea in the world, but people need to be prepared to pay a reasonable amount for it so that you can make a profit.
Four: Requirements to launch: 

What will it take to get this business off the ground, both financially and time wise? 

Don't get involved in any business that will not fit in with your current short-term commitments or your long-term goals, and make sure that you don't have to pump every dollar into it.

Five: Expected time to break-even: How long and how much in time until the business will start making a profit? 

Ideally, it would be profitable as soon as possible, but a number of businesses expect a three year turnaround.

If your can't make money, either because your can't sell the product or service, or because the expenses are too high in the early days, it is probably an unwise investment.

My Story

I am just a normal, everyday individual. That's it! Although I may be young I have gained a lot of experience along the way, and have accomplished a number of tasks while learning a number of skills.

Here is a list of some of the things that I have completed in my life to date:

  • Conquered depression: After being a successful student in high school, I became depressed failing to see the long-term goals of what I was doing. A number of things led me into depression which caused me to drop out of school, however I conquered depression and have since found my way back to the path I was originally working towards.
  • Widely read and educated: I have read circa 100 books on personal finance, business, personal growth and entrepreneurship. I have also undertaken various certificates and courses in Entrepreneurship, Business Management, Human Resources, Marketing, Finance for Small Businesses, Accounting, System Development, etc. This, along with my continual self-education allows me to continue to bring this blog and other ventures I am involved in the best and most recent knowledge available.
  • Gained control of my finances: This included reigning in expenses to match my income (which dropped significantly upon returning to university), getting a new job and promotions to increase my income, budgeting, etc.
  • Started Saving: I built up a solid emergency fund on a student income, and am continuing to increase this amount daily.
  • Increased my income: Although study takes a lot of my time, I have managed to increase my income to a point where it is now at a level much closer to what I was earning when working full time, prior to returning to study.
  • Developed systems to increase my work output: Using the 80/20 Principle, some techniques from getting things done and further techniques from books and mentors.
  • Started setting goals: I regularly communicate with a mentor who gives me feedback on my goals and objectives. Setting goals has allowed me to gain focus in what I am doing.
  • Quit Smoking: This was a bad habit that was starting to get a big hold on me. I was going through several packets a week and have managed to stop altogether now... and remain off them.
  • Started exercising: As an ectomorph body type, I have trouble gaining muscle and have always been deemed fairly skinny. Unfortunately my belly was beginning to get a bit bigger. I have started working on exercising on a regular basis and am seeing gradual results.
I have been able to achieve these successes and am continuing to add more daily. 

All of these were achieved by starting small, taking one day at a time and doing the best I could to achieve and persist until reaching the destination. 

I have however, had my fair share of mistakes and learning.

If you would like to achieve similar results without having to spend as much time as I have learning, reading, making mistakes, asking people for advice, etc. 

Then subscribe to be kept in the loop and to join me on the journey. 

Together we can achieve goals that were once only a pipe dream!