It was my mom who armed me with the motivation and confidence to be a better man. All of my success can be traced back to the lessons she taught right in our living room. And while she's no longer with us, her wisdom, principles and legacy will surely long outlive me.
I would like to pass on just some of her core principles that have been vital to my success today; in life and in business.
1. A healthy mind requires a healthy body.
The Mind-Body connection cannot be ignored. My mother was maniacal about food. She taught me a simple lesson: eat real food. Take a good, hard look next time you are shopping at the amount of "junk" being sold. Growing up, I was taught to eat "slow food" (from the earth), which means I eat as many uncooked fruits and veggies as possible.
I can't tell you how many people my mother and I convinced to eat healthy in 40 years. I will continue fighting to motivate people to be self-reliant and eat healthy with the same fervor we fight for people to quit smoking. Eating healthy fuels the mind and body for optimal performance-and that's important in business because it's a result-based industry. Performance is everything so fuel your body correctly.
2. You don't find time; you make time.
My mom taught me that we are creatures of habit and our natural tendency is to be resistant to changes. Think Newton's First Law of Motion: "An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion..." Our bodies have to be activated consistently or they willdevelop cobwebs. I was taught that "being busy" is not an excuse to not exercise.
Working out helps me disconnect from the world and "plug in" to my needs. The office, a cubicle, wherever it is you work, can be a confining place, but successful people aren't shackled to their settings. I'm on the road a lot and I don't "find time" to work out, I make time to work out-often in my hotel room or a building stairway.
My mom taught me the best way to prepare myself to seize the day is to wake up early and get after it. Running a company, working on a project, meeting deadlines-all of these can be stressors in life, so exercise is a priority for me. I can't perform to the best of my abilities if I'm not physically and mentally fit. There is a direct correlation between being successful and working out.
3. Push your limits.
My mother taught my sister and me the discipline of fasting, often requiring us to join her. The process of fasting is an act of physical and mental endurance. Fasting cleanses your mind and body-it's a bit painful, but it helps put things into perspective. You don't know the true meaning of hunger until you willingly put yourself in a state of discomfort. Such a demanding task can make other challenges in life seem easier.
During the most difficult stretches, an individual's resolve is constantly put to the test. Most people don't know just how tough they really are until they challenge themselves and push their limits. All of this applies to business as much as it does life. Barriers are meant to be broken. Limits are there to smash through-what was tough yesterday shouldn't be what's tough tomorrow.
4. There are no shortcuts.
When I was younger I started a pool cleaning business. I grew up in a tough neighborhood and was cleaning pools for criminals, though I didn't know it at the time. I had chances to get in with the wrong people. It was my mother who taught me right from wrong, and to be careful who I surrounded myself with.
She also taught me to own my actions. Aristotle said, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." My mother helped me live this idea every day and to take be responsible for my actions in the business world. Just because I might not get caught for doing something wrong, doesn't mean it's okay for me to cut corners. There are no shortcuts to lasting success in business. Period.
5. Be flexible in mind, body and belief.
My mother taught yoga in our living room in the 1970's before America was ready for it. A flexible mind and a flexible body both start with yoga. It's hard to imagine now, but think about how strange it must have looked to preach yoga before yoga was popular. From this, my mother encouraged me to try new things. In business and in life it's important you don't get stuck in old, stale ways of thinking.
Being different isn't a bad thing and my mother reinforced the notion that being bold requires bravery. She marched to her own beat, even if others considered it weird. Aside from my love of yoga-it once saved my life (literally!)-I learned to block out the negative voices and trust my instinct, which has come in handy time and time again.
6. Travel this expansive, fascinating world.
A wonderful quote by Saint Augustine that my mother would wholeheartedly agree with is, "The world is a book, and those who do not travel only read a page." The world may seem smaller with the advent of things like the Internet, but it's still a giant place full of vibrant people, unconquered adventures and unseen sights to behold.
Business is global, which means there is always something to learn. There's a good phrase, "You don't know what you don't know." I don't like to leave things undone and refuse to leave places undiscovered. Part of being successful in business is exploring the world around you, embracing foreign cultures, different people and learning new lessons that only the world can teach you.