man jumping into lake

5 ways to make 2017 your best year yet

Dear 2016,

You were epic! Now, before I go and pump up your ego, let me keep it real with you.

You were epic to me because you kept me real, humbled, honest and patient.

You were also epic because you allowed me to connect with amazing people from all over the world who are using their incredible talents to disrupt their respective industries, create social impact on a global scale and become their best selves in the process. Yeah, that kind of epic.

So what did I do in 2016 that is going to make 2017 a record year for me personally and for my business?

Well, after my advisors Adam & Matthew Toren (co-founders of YoungEntrepreneur.com) told me to take a step back and really look at how far I’ve come, I realized just how much my partners and I have accomplished in one year.

The online publication and a movement I run (hdfmagazine.com) created 7 brand new, full-length features.

My business partner Case Kenny (you might know him… he’s the PRSUIT founder) and I conducted over 70 episodes for our podcast, The Hustle Sold Separately, which also got featured in Forbes. Yeah, that Forbes. That was a dream come true.

Our featured creators came from all over the world (LA, New York, Chicago, Scottsdale, Toronto, Vancouver, Sydney, Miami, Brazil, Argentina, London, Portugal, Paris, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and more), and their hustle was broadcasted to the rest of it.

I continued to grow the most loyal fan base on my Instagram by acquiring over 125,000 followers, but more importantly getting the opportunity to serve them and their journeys.

Alonside Case, our creator community Makers & Moguls acquired over 250 members and nearly 30,000 email subscribers. Talk about helping others find their identity and voice online amongst a vast digital ocean.

And we were featured in other online publications like Forbes, Inc and Entrepreneur.

Grateful? Absolutely!

But these are all the results of the real blessing… serving the world.

2016, you taught me a lot of lessons that are going to make 2017 a year to remember.

2017 is going to be epic. Here’s how its going to go down.

make 2017 your best year yet - man with coffee mug

#1: You’re going to use your skill set to create something you are passionate about.

Realize that a broken system doesn’t define you…it makes you.

By now, my readers and followers know how I feel about subscribing to the Status Quo. I don’t.

But, in the evolution of my thinking, I’ve come to realize that just because you don’t fit into the system, doesn’t mean you should bash it.

In fact, not fitting in, caused me to really stand out. In essence, not fitting in, made me create my life and become the designer of it.

More importantly, over the past two years, I have found that almost anyone interviewed for HDFmagazine or for the podcast, all felt the same way. They couldn’t fit in, which ultimately led to them doing it their own way.

Take serial entrepreneur and angel investor, Kumar Arora (podcast episode 75) who created the hit show Cleveland Hustles with LeBron James. Growing up, he was led to believe the “traditional” route was the safe route but it didn’t resonate with him.

“I love the idea of doing things differently, going up against big-time industries, changing the industry itself, and obviously doing something for your hometown. That’s important to me too.”

Or swing trader Jason Bond (podcast episode 79), who had a Master’s degree and taught for ten years in the New York school system, only to find his top performance wasn’t helping to sustain his family. He instead learned the stock market and took his teaching skills to train others. He went from -$250,000 in debt to a net worth of $3M in 4 years.

My takeaway from Jason? The system isn’t set up to help you. It’s often set up to keep you exactly where you are. But more importantly, that Jason used his skill set to learn something he’s passionate about, make a beautiful living that puts him and his family in a much better position to help others and he did just that . . . serve others.

#2: You’re going to stop waiting and planning and start doing.

Realize that dreams are your reality. 

All too often, you might hear people say something like, “Oh, you dream too much,” or “You’re not being practical,” and the list can go on. I never really understood why some people have the inability to dream or at least work on one of their own.

As I created HDFMagazine.com, and am interviewing others from around the world who are relentlessly pursuing their dreams, I realized that the people who aren’t going after what they’re passionate about are actually the ones who are asleep.

Kute Blackson, author, transformation specialist and guest on our podcast (episode 71) left all of us in the studio with our mouths dropped around this concept. He confirmed that people’s intuition, their vision or dream, actually is their reality. What you want to achieve is a calling from your soul, which simply takes the right mindset to operate from.

“I realized at quite a young age that your dream chooses you. We think we choose our dream, but I believe that our dream chooses us.”

In short, what you dream is real and what you think is real is your illusion. Yeah, let that one mess with you for awhile. I guess the Matrix movies were onto something after all.

Then there’s Fernanda Paronetto who truly exemplified the definition of manifesting her dreams when she made a flat out decision to move from her home country of Brazil to pursue her company, Behind the Scenes NYC, in New York exactly 1 year after making that decision . . . to the day.

“I do believe that if you know what your end goal is and it’s clear in your head, you shouldn’t worry about how to do it…as it has been taught in the past…that is “the job of the Universe and it’ll make it happen for you” – as long as you’re clear about it.”

That’s the thing about dreams. They’re more of a reality than people give credit when you stop hanging onto things that don’t fulfill your soul, and start leading with intention for the things that do.

Which appropriately leads me to my third point . . .

make 2017 your best year yet - man thinking

#3: You’re going to get it in your mind that you are exactly where you need to be.

Realize that the game is won in the mind.

It truly is. If you learn nothing else, please learn this point. No matter what you decide to do with your life, or who you decide to share it with, the game is won with the right mindset. I even took the time to read over 25 books in the past year on this subject matter.

I believe your mind is a constant muscle you must exercise throughout all phases of your life. Especially when you’re building a company or dream.

First, there’s the awakening. When you first start to build on your dreams, not too many people seem to understand your vision. In some cases, no one does and that’s okay.

Quite frankly, I like that moment in time because you’re often just left alone to your vices to create, which in turn starts to yield this feeling of “Holy shit, this is actually working and I can make anything possible.” This moment is actually quite empowering so I thought it was a bit ironic but not coincidental when Alexi Panos and Preston Smiles (episode 84) said:

“When you see yourself from this kind of awakened perspective, what happens is you create this radically empowered person that makes choices from a space of full alignment with the truth of who you are.”

Second, you experience the growth phase. Last year HDFMagazine.com, and our media company, Trep Media Group, grew up . . . big boy status. While we’re still a ways away from where we want to go, we definitely grew faster than we realized. But that took me stepping back to understand this.

See, sometimes, during your growth, it can be easy to “compare” yourself to others. It can also be easy to be hard on yourself. If you find yourself doing this, STOP immediately!

You need to get it in your mind that you are exactly where you need to be so long as you are leading with intention and moving forward with your vision.

Comparing to others is one of the biggest dream killers because it can take you out of a creative zone and into one of chasing; chasing the market, chasing the numbers, chasing the shiny objects. Instead, you have to keep your head down, believe in your mission and innovate forward.

As Gerard Adams (co-founder of EliteDaily.com) put it on podcast episode 35,

“It’s getting to a place where you’re second guessing yourself or you have that fear of the ‘what ifs’; is this working out – cause success doesn’t happen overnight. You’re going to have people that doubt you. You’re going to have a lot people say no to you. There’s a lot of obstacles. There’s a lot of adversity. You have to have the determination and will to get through a lot of that.”

If it’s any advice I can give regarding the mindset is the following:

1. Gratitude over everything.

2. Tame your ego.

3. Be kind to yourself and forgive yourself and others.

4. Serve. If you operate from a place of serving, you’ll find more peace.

5. Learn patience.

The fact is, your mindset is a powerful entrepreneurial tool, but it’s also the basis for your entire existence, which brings us to #4

#4: You’re going to define your hustle.

Realize that your hustle is not just the work you do.

This was a harsh dose of reality that set in as 2016 began. I came off a fantastic 2015 but with a few hardships at the end. After experiencing some family medical issues, it got me thinking . . .

Your hustle must be in all aspects of your life, not just your work. You must hustle for your health, your body, your mind, your soul, your relationships, your finances, everything.

I learned from Sandra Lesniak, founder of TheGoodnessGlow.com and member of our growing Makers & Moguls membership community on how to approach better eating habits. She taught me 2 key points:

1. Nutrition and health is like entrepreneurship or running a marathon. You don’t just jump in and start being successful from day one. You have to start by slowly removing what doesn’t work well for the body while also adding new things you didn’t know about.

2. Nutrition and wellness is a process not a destination. It’s something you will have to do your entire life.

And when it comes to understanding your finances, your family and other important factors of growth that your hustle needs to be focused on, John Fagerholm (episode 44) reminded us,

“There’s no hard or fast rule to that . . . the success or failure of anything, usually has to do with who’s next to them. It’s more along the lines of experience. Always have the best people around you to do what you need them to do.”

In other words, John believes that your hustle is never done alone and it’s never just for your business. It’s encapsulated in everything.

In the end, your life will be about whether or not you hustled for your purpose and your purpose is about so much more than your career or company, but about your impact in this world as a whole.

#5: You’re going to embrace what it takes to get where you want.

Realize that personal growth and entrepreneurship are journeys… not destinations.

This will be the truest lesson you will ever learn in building anything, not just a company, but a brand, a hobby, a sport, a love of your life, anything.

The journey is not only a founding principle of @hdfmagazine but of @prsuit, the Hustle Sold Separately Podcast, Makers & Moguls and our media company as a whole.

The journey is where the real magic happens and it will require you to play the long game. As far as it comes to entrepreneurship, you have to know why you’re building what you’re building. Too many people just want to acquire short term results and make as much money as possible. That’s not true entrepreneurship.

As Dr. Anthony Balduzzi stated on podcast episode 58,

“I’m here to play the long game. I knew coming into this that I’m here to play the long game, and build a platform. There are lot’s of ways that people make quick money, who aren’t necessarily true deep experts on topics, but those people fizzle out.”

And he’s right. You will see these people come and go. They will definitely give a run for the money, but once they tire, and they will, they fizzle out because they never really had purpose.

See, entrepreneurship should be an extension of your “why?”, that is your belief in serving a bigger purpose to deliver greater value to the world, one market or segment at a time.

It’s also about the process. First of letting go, then of re-evaluating along the way. Sarah Benken, founder of Metro’s Other Woman and guest on episode 59 reiterated both.

I think it was probably about February 1st (2009) I was finally ready to go. I said I have no idea what I’m going to do. I have no idea how I’m going to launch this. . . . We started this with no cash. I mean no credit, no nothing. We just said let’s just see we have labor and let’s see what happens . . . I’m committed. This is it. If I’m going to do this I’m all in, and so that’s the type of person I am naturally.

What’s also amazing about Sarah, is her ability to check in with herself throughout the process, even if it’s 8 years later.

“We’ve been in eight years now and we documented everything. We positioned ourself for growth. Last year we had a lot of growth. Sometimes you got to take a step back and say ‘All right. Where are we now? Let’s reevaluate. Are we where we want to be? If something is amazing and it’s here, and it makes sense and it follows the dream, and the goals, and the vision, then we’ll do it.

I liked that. I liked her authenticity.

In fact, if it’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned about building a solid brand for many years to come, as well as entrepreneurship taking a bit longer is that if you’re authentic, it may take a a bit longer to get to where you want to go.

Why? Because we won’t cheapen our brand to grow faster. We won’t pretend to be something we’re not – our followers and customers are too important to us for that. We won’t align with people who don’t represent our vision, mission or values. And we won’t take shortcuts . . . ever.

So, to that I say, pace yourself. Entrepreneurship is both a patience game but it’s also about moving swiftly. You can’t be in a rush to the point where you miss a crucial step, but you must move to market everyday. You must create every single day. You must constantly be pushing your boundaries everyday.

Time to make 2017 a year of epic proportions.

In closing, I’d like to thank you for all of it; the highs, the lows, the good people who contributed to our success, the lessons we learned along the way, the amazing creators who shared their life’s purpose and stories with us, our families and friends who support us, our global following who remind us why we do what we do everyday and the tremendous growth we’re about to experience.

You were crucial in our mission and a staple in 2017’s epic breakout year. Less self. More serve, big moves, same plan.