How to Fake It Until You Make It and Transform Your Weaknesses into Strengths

Many people find it hard to admit, even privately, when they just aren’t good at something. Sure, you agree that everyone has strengths and weaknesses, but how comfortable are you naming your own shortcomings? It’s not masochism — recognizing your own weaknesses is the first step to turning them into strengths. Next time you face a challenge, identify your own weakness, and then make a commitment to act as if it were a strength. Fake it ‘till you make it can go a long way, and you can improve your performance simply by forcing your outward actions to align with your ideals and act as if it comes naturally.
While you’re acting, take these steps to turn “fake it” into “make it.”

Talk to (or find) a mentor
A mentor is a vital aspect of your career. If you do not already have a mentor, I recommend finding one as soon as possible. Find someone who has more experience than you do and a career that you respect and admire. Talk to your mentor and ask her to help you identify and work through your weaknesses. Seek out any advice she may have for improving in the areas where you aren’t very strong.

Make sure you’re always prepared
If you know what your weaknesses are, you know when they’re likely to be an issue. If you are petrified at the thought of public speaking, overly prepare for any presentation or meeting you may have in the upcoming days and weeks. Practice speaking in front of the mirror, write out what you’re planning on saying, and work on breathing techniques to stay calm. Bring note cards to your presentation and you’ll feel so prepared that it will be difficult to get nervous.

Practice using these skills
Deliberately put yourself in situations where you need to practice and cultivate your weaknesses. The saying goes “practice makes perfect” after all. The more you try to improve your weaknesses in real situations, the closer you’ll get to making those weaknesses strengths.

Find people who have the skills you don’t
For some skills, you won’t be able to develop them without years of study or practice. Instead, hire people who have the skills you don’t. If you know nothing about computers, find someone who went to school for computer science and ask for his help. You can hire him for your business, or just ask if he could give you some overview of the most important tricks to know or if there’s a good book or website you should check out. There will always be people who succeed in areas you struggle with and most people are willing to help someone else.

Play up your strengths
As you work on your weaknesses, don’t forget to continue playing up your strengths. Master the skills you know you’re good at and improve your weaknesses enough that it isn’t an issue when you aren’t good at everything. If you’re known for doing a phenomenal job in a certain area, it’s okay that you are weak in some others.
You aren’t a master of every trick, and that’s okay. No one is. But you can fake it, and if you fake it right, you’ll end up forgetting why your weaknesses were such a big hurdle to start with.

Don’t Make These 5 Entrepreneurial Blunders

Becoming an entrepreneur is challenging. You have to create your own company and make sure you’re aware of all the necessities that go into doing so. You also need to make hiring decisions and find funds to support your venture. Starting a business takes an incredible amount of hard work and lots of entrepreneurs do not have much experience. Being an entrepreneur is a great way to jumpstart and manage your personal success, but you need to know what common mistakes to avoid.

Neglecting your personal life
First off, before you embark on your entrepreneurial path, prep your personal life for the changes ahead. Make a plan for self care, so you don’t burnout before you really get started. Learn how much rest you need each night and when you are the most productive. Do not forget to keep a balanced diet and get exercise. Also, talk to the people in your life that you’re close to and make sure they understand that the business you’re starting will take up a lot of time. Plan how to remain close to your family and friends, but also make them aware of your limited availability.

Starting the business without making a plan
Avoid jumping into starting a business without carefully planning out what you need to do. There is a multitude of aspects to being an entrepreneur, so be familiar with what’s required of you. Understand how taxes work and what laws you need to follow, as well as the best ways to succeed in your new industry. Take time to make a detailed plan and think it through before starting your business.

Overestimating what you can afford
If you spend too much money trying to make yourself an entrepreneur, you’ll never get to the point where you’re actually an entrepreneur. Evaluate your personal finances and seek other funds from investors if you need to. When you first start out, be savvy about expenses and avoid spending money on items you cannot afford and don’t need, like expensive clothes and high-end technology.

Making rash hiring decisions
When you first become an entrepreneur, you may be grateful to anyone who is willing to take the risk to help you. Instead of hiring your best friend and some random person who handed you a resume, make sure your potential employees are actually qualified for their jobs. The last thing you want is someone who is inept or not really interested in the job when you’re trying your hardest to achieve success.

Avoiding risks
In order to achieve greatness, you must take risks. These risks should be calculated and thought through, so you know the pros and cons of them. It’ll be difficult to succeed as an entrepreneur if you avoid any possible risks. Be smart about your risk taking, but definitely go for it.

Ignoring marketing strategies
When you become an entrepreneur, you need to be forward. Do not assume people will find out about your business if you aren’t advertising. Learn about marketing strategies and how best to utilize them in your industry. Use social media to your advantage and create a strong online presence, for yourself and your company.

Advice for the First-Time Entrepreneur

Becoming an entrepreneur can be an intimidating experience. Starting your own business without really understanding everything that goes along with it is something many people wouldn’t even dream to attempt, but for those who are brave enough to do it, there are lots of resources out there to help them on their way, many from already successful entrepreneurs. When starting your own business, it’s easy to make a mistake and be unaware of something important. Follow these pieces of advice to make the most of becoming an entrepreneur and avoid those costly errors.

Everyone sells. Always.
Young entrepreneurs often forget this basic, important tenet. Don’t get so caught up in the titles and the fundraising that you forget where the heart of your success lies: providing your product to people who need it. Everyone at your company should remember this at all times, including you, and strive to be a brand ambassador at every opportunity. In a startup or even a young company, this is a key component of growth and success.

Accept failure…and move past it
As a developing entrepreneur, there’s a lot you don’t know. There will be times when you mess up, so learn from those experiences and move forward. No matter what it is, you’ll be able to move past it and start again, building off of your failure. Failure can actually be incredibly good for your future success, so embrace it and do better the next time.

Reach out to potential connections
Reaching out to strangers makes lots of people nervous. It can be intimidating to contact a professional in your field who you admire, but don’t know. Instead of being afraid they’ll think you’re rude, go ahead and do it, no matter who they are; this is known as a cold email. Many professionals welcome questions from those who are less experienced and will help you out if they have time. Make sure your email is professional and well-written and if you don’t hear back from them, just shrug it off and move on to the next email.

Create a strong online presence
If you’re trying to start your own business, the best place to begin advertising and making a name for yourself is online. Nearly everyone uses some form of social media, so figure out your target audience and the social media they use the most. Create a presence on those platforms and talk about your business; you’ll be able to get your name out so people are aware of your endeavors.

Craft your personal and professional brand
In addition to creating a strong online presence, you need to figure out what that presence will be in. If you’re looking to start your own business, you know where you want to focus, so work on making and presenting yourself as an expert in that industry. Once you have enough knowledge about your field, begin developing your brand. Once you start working on your business, develop that brand as well. You’ll need to set yourself apart from other companies, so create a unique brand for yourself and your company that helps you stand out.

Master your organizational skills
If you want to have a successful business, you’ll need to become a master at organization. Be aware of all the laws that apply to running your own company, in addition to what you’ve done and what needs to get done. Take time to write everything down and make plenty of lists and spreadsheets so you can easily keep track of each task you’re doing. The more organized you are, the easier running your business will be.

Tapping into Your Untapped Potential

When we were young, amongst the various life lessons and wisdom so often imparted by adults,  one fact was often drilled into our heads by teachers and parents regarding our futures.  When we didn’t do our homework, our teachers were quick to point out that if we worked harder we could do whatever we wanted with our life. When we looked up at our parents over dinner and asked what we’d do as adults, they’d share the sentiment.

“You can be/do anything if you set your mind to it.”

Unfortunately that tidbit of info is less of a  “fact” and more an “encouraging lie.” The fact of the matter remains that some people aren’t cut out to be aerospace engineers or neurosurgeons.

We do, however, all have within us our specialty. The thing or things that we’re best at, the scenarios we live and thrive in. And to truly come into our own, we need to learn how to best tap into that potential and learn to recognize it in both a personal and business setting. From there, we can put in the hustle and effort required to reach our peak.

“Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential,” -Winston Churchill

 

Realizing Yourself and Your Potential

Before you’re able to reach your full potential you have to better understand what your full potential is.

In large part, your potential is going to stem from your strengths, the things you excel at and do better than others. If you’re a strong writer, recognize that; if you’re a creative mind, capitalize on that. Take a moment to grab and pen and pencil and list some things–whether they’re work related or not–that you do well. (An aside: this exercise can also be great for your self-esteem)

Your potential extends beyond just your strengths, however. While it may seem counter-productive to focus on negatives, listing your weaknesses can help your development as both a professional and a person. Sometimes this task proves difficult, particularly if you refuse to be honest with yourself. The Harvard Business Review suggests asking others what they perceive your weaknesses to be if you’re struggling to identify them on your own.

Once you’ve established what you do well and don’t do so well, it’s a simple process to move forward and take steps to improve. Realizing, for instance, that you are an adequate writer but lack ample creativity to write a book can open up doors to tapping into your creative potential and finishing your first novel.

 

Reaching Your Potential

Once you’ve outlined what you deem to be the areas in which you excel and those in which you struggle, improvement is right around the corner. Basic goal-setting activities can help you reach your potential faster than anything else. It’s important to take things slowly and in stride, however. No one goes from mediocre to a superstar overnight. Taking small steps and setting small goals–particular those which you can consider accomplishments in and of themselves–are important to reaching your potential once you’ve realized it.

Putting in the proper effort is also key. Without adequate effort, nothing will be achieved. In the world in which we live now, we cannot expect to simply skate by; it has become a dog-eat-dog world of cutthroat tactics and bigger and better businesses outshining and outperforming those who don’t reach their true potential. Without hard effort–without the day to day hustle of bettering yourself and your business–you will never find yourself becoming the best you that you can be.

 

Potential In Business

Recognizing the potential in a business setting extends beyond observations. Sitting back and taking a reflective moment to assess the business’s needs and daily operations won’t get you particularly far in seeing real, change-driven results. To truly capitalize on a business’s untapped potential, you have to remove all limitations. By limiting yourself to what you see in front of you, you’re effectively capping your potential at what you can see, not what you can attain.

And what you can attain is [almost] limitless if you display hustle. Working towards recognition and achievement of your potential ruthlessly, doing whatever you can and need to in order to reach these goals and milestones defines hustle. In my next post I will delve deeper into the importance of hustle in the workplace and in getting ahead in life.

Reading Past the Resume

Flash back to college–the last year or two if you can remember it–when the biggest item on your agenda as graduation approached was getting a job.

Without a job you’d have no income, and without income you’d be dead broke, destined to couch surf for the rest of your days.

What were the biggest issues you were facing at the time? Building a strong network? Securing an internship or two for your last year, getting that valuable experience to pepper throughout your resume? Maybe one of the biggest issues for you was your resume–how you’d perfectly frame yourself as an individual to prospective employers.

Now, the shoe is on the other foot. As an established professional (if you’re not an established professional yet, these points should hit home all the same), you’ve secured a career and have seen success in the business world that have helped get you to where you stand today. If you’re the one vetting through resumes today, it’s may be time to rethink the way you’re approaching your candidates.

It’s time to read past the resume.

A candidate for a job is more than a piece of paper with their qualifications listed thereon. Anyone who has ever conducted an interview–really anyone who has ever been to an interview– knows how this works. Getting invited into the office to speak with the hiring manager, office manager or whoever else deemed you worthy of their time based on a slip of paper is the opportunity you’ll get to showcase who you are as an individual. That’s the time you can speak to your work ethic (“hustle” is the preferred term on my website), show off the communication and networking skills you’ve spent years honing in on, and outlining your strengths, weaknesses and desires for your future.

So why do bosses view the resume as the end all and be all of the hiring process? Of course it’s true that someone with four internships and a prior job in the field will have more experience with the work he or she will be doing, but who is to say they’ll be better than the fresh-out-of-school college grad with a work ethic that will put others to shame? The ones who call the organization a week after applying because they’re so interested are the ones that you want working for you, regardless of whether or not they studied abroad for a semester or graduated summa cum laude.

Hustle isn’t always reflected on a resume, and neither is a business-first mentality. For those, you have to consult the person, not just the slip of paper they emailed to you late one evening.

Judging an applicant simply by the resume they compiled of their relevant experience plus a section filled with buzzwords like “synergy,” can wind up costing you big time in the long run. It’s not until you get to know a person that you’ll understand how hard of a worker they are, what they’ll put into the company and where they want to go in life.

That’s not to say that resumes aren’t important, they certainly are. If you’re looking to hire a manager or fill a vacant spot on an executive board, experience is a huge factor. But when looking for jobs that don’t require years of experience, it may be wise to give those without the four-page resume a shot.

The Work-Life Balance Myth

Go ahead and Google the phrase “work-life balance,” and see what sorts of results you get. Go ahead–I’ll wait. I wouldn’t expect you to sift through all 21 million plus results that Google suggests for the term, as that would take up far too much of your free time. Your “life,” the crucial “good” part of that work-life balance. Without sifting too far past the first page, almost every result offers quick tips on how to better your work-life balance, how to make it the most effective it can be and how to reclaim the control that you may have lost as your work spills into your life time, and your life spills into your work time. All of these results, I’m sure, are hot takes that you undoubtedly couldn’t find anywhere else among the aforementioned 21 million results.

Except maybe once this post goes live, because I’m here to dispel the idea of a work-life balance once and for all. Strap in, because things are going to get interesting.

First things first: you don’t need to balance your work and your life. Or at least, you shouldn’t. Perhaps if you’ve read my past posts on Business as a Game you know where I’m headed with this. The “business as a game” mentality permeates my work life (notice I used both in the same sentence in a positive connotation) to such a degree that almost every challenge I face, every scenario that gets thrown my way acts as another opponent in my game. I love games–and I love what I do. Coincidence? Probably not. It’s far more likely due to the fact that my mentality when approaching work is one that allows me to enjoy it.

When I get home from work in the evening, I don’t typically feel the need to “unwind.” I don’t feel stressed out, I feel amped up. When you enjoy what you do, your work doesn’t feel like work. “How,” you may be asking yourself, “does that sentence make any sense?” Let me break it down for you.

The word “work” carries with it a heavily negative connotation. Often the word is used as an addendum as one replies in the negative to an invitation to an event. “Sorry, I can’t go to the movies, I’ve got work,” or “no I won’t be able to make your birthday, I’m bogged down at work right now,” both clearly negative uses. It implies that work in and of itself is bad, something to be avoided if at all possible. If you look at “work” as strictly negative, you may find yourself in need of a “work-life balance,” but if you open your eyes to the fact that work does not have to be negative, you won’t feel that need.

Don’t get me wrong, there are jobs we don’t enjoy doing. Maybe that’s what you’re doing wrong if you feel an intrinsic, burning desire to leave right when the clock hits 5 o’clock to balance your work and your life. The fact of the matter remains that if you’re in the right job–a job in which you enjoy doing what you do–it won’t feel like work.

Don’t misconstrue this post as an inspirational “anyone can do anything” post–that’s not what I have intended. There is only one President of the United States at any given time, and there have only been 44 thus far in America’s ~240 year history.  No matter how hard I try, I’m fairly certain that I won’t be number 45 on that list, or 46, 47 or 48 for that matter. Not every single person can do every single thing they set their mind to. But what you can do is find something you enjoy doing, and do it.

Chances are, you don’t need a better work-life balance, you just need a better job, or a better mentality.

Business as a Game

I’ll be the first to admit it, I love playing games. The best games involve strategy, quick and forward thinking, a clear end goal and a lot of investment on the part of the players. My favorite game of all time is one that combines all of these aspects plus some. The name of the game, in this case, is business.

Don’t be thrown, I’m not downplaying the importance of business in the slightest. I’m not claiming that owning or running a business is “only a game,” or that it’s trivial and unimportant in the grand scheme of things. In fact, I’m claiming quite the opposite.

It may seem like an activity as insignificant as breaking out a chess board or game of Risk is inconsequential in comparison to a business meeting or negotiation to many. But when it’s boiled down, the approaches are remarkably similar.

 

Play with the End in Mind

I’m choosing to start with this one because of its relevance–playing with the end in mind from the beginning gives you an obvious advantage. If you’re headed into a negotiation or any type of business venture, your first step should be planning ahead. You know what you want out of the meeting–so solidify it. Heading into a game of chess, you know that your primary goal–your only goal,in fact–is to place your opponent into checkmate. Running a business or negotiating with others should be no different. Enter the situation with a goal in mind, and make adjustments from there.

 

Strategize

Here is where the adjustments come into play. Strategizing can (and should) be done far as in advance as possible, of course. But, like in any game imaginable, not everything is always going to go just according to plan. Perhaps you anticipated the rolling of the dice going your way a little more often than it did, or a particular card being flipped or played at a different time, and you suddenly find yourself in a tough situation. This twist can be similarly jarring and devastating in business, but can be avoided by properly reacting to the moves that others make.

Proper strategy isn’t just reactive, it’s proactive. It isn’t enough to react to the moves that are being made in front of your face, you have to take action and plan one step ahead of your opponent, anticipating their moves and executing on your strategy before they can execute on theirs.

 

Enjoy What You Do

Often, I hear others talk about dreading an upcoming meeting or negotiation. They approach any corporate process as if they’re entering a dentist’s office to have their teeth pulled. This is the epitome of why approaching business as a game is important. You have to enjoy what you’re doing in order to get the most out of work. Why approach a business meeting with hesitance, nervousness or when you can approach with confidence and excitement. If you begin to treat negotiations as if they’re a game, you’ll find yourself enjoying them more and coming out on top more frequently.

 

Realize You Won’t Always Win

Bobby Fischer, one of the greatest chess players to ever live and winner of all 8 of the US Chess championships he participated in, lost a fair share of games in his life. It’s a simple fact that you simply can’t win every game you play in. The New England Patriots helped back up this claim in 2007 when they went undefeated until they suffered a heartbreaking loss when it mattered the most.

The same rule applies to business. You won’t get every job you applied for, you won’t win every contract negotiation and you won’t walk away from every single business opportunity considering yourself a winner. What you can do, however, is walk away content that you strategized, gave it your all, and will approach the next one smarter, better and more well-equipped.

Improving Your Hustle

Hustle is in my blood. It was in the blood of my parents, who got it from their parents. Hustle was passed down to me from generation to generation. Now, hard work is all I know.

If I don’t know something, or don’t understand something the first time around, it’s not an issue. I don’t give up, I don’t let someone else handle it, and I certainly don’t forget about it. I work at it, I improve myself by working my way through any problem that comes my way, mental or physical. I’ve spoken before at length about being born with hustle and having it instilled into me and perfected during my youth, so I’m sure this isn’t the first time you’re hearing about it. If you’re not sure what I mean by hustle, read my previous post. Explaining the concept again here would waste my time and the time of everyone else reading this. There are simply not enough hours in a day for me to waste them repeating myself. I’ve got to hustle.

And you do too. But I understand that not everyone is born with the same work ethic. Perhaps even more so, not everyone is raised by parents who are as hardworking, no-nonsense providers as mine. Maybe things were handed to you on the metaphorical gold platter–maybe they were handed to you on a literal gold platter. Regardless, it’s not too late to learn how to hustle.

As I said in my last post, hustle is a mindset. It isn’t just about doing the work, it’s about understanding the fact that the work needs to be done, and you need to be the one who does it. This is the first step in improving your hustle.

Understand The Necessity and Implications

You’ll be hard-pressed to meet someone who outwardly talks about loving hard-work. People like that are few and far between, but you can become one of them–one of the hard-working, nose-to-the-grindstone hustlers. Before you can do the hard work, however, you need to understand why you’re doing it, and why you’re reading this blog.

Hustle isn’t just about getting your work done early on Friday so you can slip out of the office at 3 p.m. Hustle is about getting your work done early on Friday so that you can grab a cup of coffee and start next week’s work. Whether or not you genuinely enjoy sitting in your office and filing reports or negotiating a potential contract is neither here nor there-those things need to be done whether or not they’re done with a smile on your face. So why not enjoy it? (there will be a link to the “business as a game post here). Hard work is necessary wherever and whenever you work, so hammer that into your head again and again until.

 

Don’t Sulk Over a Tough Situation-Change It

Let’s put this out there early–sulking isn’t going to accomplish anything. Sulking is going to be another time-suck that will only exacerbate your already tough situation. Pouting about being too far behind on your work or having to stay a few extra hours at the office is essentially the opposite of someone with hustle. Instead of sulking about your bad situation, change it. Take charge and step up, text your husband or wife to tell them you’ll be missing dinner and do the work. Cut out time spent checking your phone and chatting with coworkers and do what needs to be done before you’ve fallen into a downward spiral of procrastination and despair.

 

Make it a Habit

Here’s the closer–the final point that will make or break your hard work ethic and your nature as someone who hustles. Make hard work a habit, not an occasional occurrence. Scientists estimate that it takes 21 days to form a habit. You could take that and push yourself towards hard-work for 21 straight days, dust yourself off and consider that an accomplishment. Or you could throw that in the back seat and make hustling second nature. Hustle day in and day out not just for 21 days so you can check off a box on your to-do list–hustle for everything, everyone and for the rest of your life.

If hard work doesn’t come easy for you, there are plenty of places you could look to find who or what is to blame. Today though, instead of playing the blame-game, fix it.

The Importance of Hustle

In my last blog post I wrote about tapping into your inner untapped potential. Peppered throughout the medium-length thought piece that I hope helped some readers was the idea of “hustle.”

Today, the word carries a largely negative connotation. When we think of someone who “hustles,” we think of a con man or scam artist–someone who gets by in life by deceiving others and profiting him or herself. But the word hustle didn’t originate with any ill intentions, because that’s not what the word implies in a business or personal sense.

Ask any athlete what it means to hustle. Better yet, ask Major League Baseball all-time hits leader Pete Rose, also known by his nickname “Charlie Hustle.” Rose didn’t get this nickname by deceiving others or lying (that occurred later in his life), he earned the nickname by giving the metaphorical 110% effort on each and every play. Athletes from little league to the pros will back this notion up: hustle is the effort, the do-or-die mentality that shapes who you are. Hustle is running out a pop-up in the infield or risking your body to make a tackle when the game is all but over. Hustle is more than just what you do, it’s a mentality.

And hustle can make or break you in your business and personal life.

When my grandparents emigrated to the United States from Russia two generations ago, they didn’t come with full wallets, investment portfolios or fallback options. They came with a mentality that they instilled upon their children, which my parents instilled upon me: hustle.

They say when it comes to weight loss that it’s easier to keep yourself thin when you’re 20 than it is to try to get your overweight 30-year-old body back into it’s 20-year-old shape. The same can be said for business. It’s easier to stay on top and stay successful than it is to recover from a fall or build a successful business from the ground-up. But like staying in shape, building a business can be accomplished through hard work and perseverance.

If you have the hustle you don’t need a ton of capital, you can earn it. If you have the hustle you don’t need to find opportunity, you should create it. The real importance of hustle isn’t just in capitalizing on a business opportunity or lead presented to you, it’s going out and finding those opportunities and creating them from scratch.

So where does hustle come from? For many, it’s intrinsic, given to them as a gift during the formative years by parents or guardians. Watching your parents work day in and day out to provide for your family shows you first-hand the value of hustle. Taking handouts and gimmies from people doesn’t teach hustle or provide a means to an end–in fact, it might create more problems than it solves.

Hustle can also manifest itself in someone over time, as it did in the case of my grandparents. They needed to hustle to feed the hungry mouths of their children. They were the defining force of hustle in my life that helped to instill that mentality across generations and ensure that I would continue their legacy of hard work and a “never settle” attitude.

Keep on hustling.