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Deep down, we all want two things in life—the freedom to shape our existence and to create meaningful bonds with other people. In a world with endless possibilities, that’s a short list. But everything we want, including money, relationships and a satisfying lifestyle, stems from those two things. Intentional or not, it’s the picture we’re trying to paint as we design our lives.
The art of shaping one’s existence takes many forms. It could include building an eight-figure company, then selling it to create long-term wealth and security. Or perhaps it looks like a year of side-hustling to make extra money. Even the task of choosing the right friends is a crucial step toward defining our experience here on Earth.
Molding your life, even if it’s only through simple adjustments, is a major undertaking. Sometimes it’s hard to make the image in your head match what you see in real life. There are challenges to overcome and fears to conquer, not to mention the fact that the world keeps changing, and 10 years from now, we’ll have new ideas and technology to embrace.
That’s why SUCCESS keeps adapting. We’ve introduced you to our newly established Editorial Board. Let this story point your attention to the best place to connect with them and learn from their expertise: our new worldwide social network, Achievers. (Download the app SUCCESS Achievers Community or visit Achievers.SUCCESS.com.) The community is totally free and built to help you make the connections and gather the knowledge that will power your next life or business breakthrough.
The Editorial Board comprises Achievers’ first influencers. Each member is there to help you succeed in four areas of life—entrepreneurship, wealth-building, relationships and designing the story of your life and its growth. Each factor contributes to that big, existential desire to chart your own course. The SUCCESS editors have fascinating backgrounds. They’ve conquered their fair share of challenges, so you’ll learn valuable lessons as you read their articles, listen to their podcasts and consume their live trainings and courses with your friends, colleagues and mentors on Achievers.
Their teachings differ, but they all agree on one thing: No matter where you are in your journey, helping others grow creates a deeply satisfying life.
Simple Wealth Building with Julien and Kiersten Saunders
Julien and Kiersten Saunders have been studying money for years. They’ve spoken with family, friends and even strangers to understand how people feel about it. After thousands of conversations, they noticed an unfortunate but common misconception. People thought money and fame were synonymous. They believed that no matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to have one without the other.
Since then, the Saunders have been on a mission to divorce those terms—money and fame—from one another. They started the rich & REGULAR blog in 2017 to share their money message, which was simple: You don’t need a Hollywood career to get rich. You can maintain a peaceful lifestyle and add commas to your bank account at the same time.
“We know lots of people who’ve gotten there, including us, through simple, effective and quite frankly, boring, repeatable tasks,” Julien says.
The couple didn’t develop this mindset overnight. It took years of being frustrated with their finances before something shifted inside them. Surprisingly, that moment came during their honeymoon in South Africa. It was a two-week vacation and the longest break they had ever taken from work. That’s when the joy of financial freedom became more than a buzzword for them. In fact, it became a goal. Thousands of miles away from their jobs, the Saunders witnessed a new possibility, one that removed various middlemen from their lives. They could vacation whenever they wanted instead of asking their bosses first. They would never need permission to fly to Africa or anywhere else. They could unplug from everything, even if that meant leaving the country, and just be. Financial independence would be the reason why.
During that trip, they experienced what it meant to be rich and regular. The feeling of spending money on a restorative vacation—and not because they were famous entertainers—was priceless.
The Saunders knew they’d have to do something extraordinary to continue that lifestyle. Not coding the next social media platform, per se, but something that touched millions of people. Because they were on a financial journey, they shared their story to help people heal their relationship with money.
As it turns out, helping others was the spark that ignited their dream. It began with serious money conversations, then paying off $200,000 in debt. The rich & REGULAR blog came shortly after that; it was a judgment-free zone to help readers invest their money, save for retirement, create budgets and more. If you could personify the phrase, “What goes around comes around,” that would earnestly depict what happened next. By sharing their financial knowledge with others, the Saunders received bigger opportunities. They got to work with several brands and even landed a book deal with Penguin Random House. Now, as the money editors of SUCCESS, they’ll help you own every facet of your money experience.
Tristan Ahumada’s Relationship Growth Plan
First things first when building relationships, says Tristan Ahumada: Be kind. It’s a mindset to practice before learning a person’s name or how their day is going.
“The last person people want to connect with is somebody who’s pretentious, has a big ego and is telling you the way it is,” Ahumada says. “I think you connect with people by showing them you’re human.”
The idea that humans want to connect with other humans—not their egos—is key. That prepares a relationship for growth and makes room for the rest of Ahumada’s rules. In addition to kindness, a strong relationship takes vulnerability, consistency, empathy, and the ability to add value to others. Each one is essential whether you’re connecting on or offline.
In 2021, digital relationships are important. People are connecting on Clubhouse, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Facebook. You can also meet people in the SUCCESS Achievers Community, a social network for personal and professional growth. These days, it’s about more than sharing pictures of your kids or appetizing brunch platters. The influence you build online becomes social currency. You can exchange it for job opportunities, a strong network, and the feeling of belonging to something greater than yourself.
Ahumada understood this when he co-founded LabCoat Agents, an online community for real estate professionals. He viewed each connection as an opportunity to help people learn and grow alongside industry experts. The LabCoat community is large and thriving, and its members work for several brokerages.
Creating strong, active communities is a valuable skill. It’s something Ahumada learned by studying his most vulnerable, life-changing relationship.
“I’ve been married for 24 years,” Ahumada says. “I’ve had ups and downs in my relationship. I can go back to that and say, ‘Every day I’m trying to impress my wife.’ ”
Building new relationships begins with nurturing the ones you already have. Ahumada’s wife knows his strengths and weaknesses, and every day, he aims to lead with his strengths. He turns that one task into a practice, exercising his ability to add value to the most important person in his life. A simpler way to think of it is by constantly asking, “How can I help the people around me?”
When Ahumada adopted that mindset, he had everything he needed to grow his network. He made himself an indispensable friend, business partner or whoever he needed to become to help others succeed. That’s how he grew the largest community of real estate agents and why you’ll love his advice as the people editor of SUCCESS.
Rory Vaden: The Entrepreneur’s Best Friend
Many entrepreneurs face the same challenges in business. First, there’s the task of creating a product or service. Then there’s the uphill battle of attracting and retaining customers. Making enough money is the next challenge, and the list goes on.
Rory Vaden, co-founder of Brand Builders Group, hears these stories all the time. He hosts The SUCCESS Line podcast, a show for entrepreneurs seeking business advice. Vaden’s solutions are tailored to the individual, which is a gift few entrepreneurs receive. Instead of stumbling through common challenges, they can avoid years of mistakes with practical solutions.
That’s great news for SUCCESS Line listeners. However, it’s not a one-sided exchange because one-on-one coaching is Vaden’s passion. That’s the premise of Brand Builders Group and to some extent, Vaden’s career as a whole. He and his wife, A.J. Vaden, have launched several coaching companies, so sharing that expertise on a podcast felt natural.
“I’ve been a podcast host for years, where I’ve interviewed experts and authors,” Vaden says. “But this is one where the audience is the star. You can submit questions and request to come on the show. We can do live coaching right on the spot.”
Vaden’s coaching expertise is vast and widely recognized. He created four seven-figure businesses with his wife and wrote the New York Times best-seller Take the Stairs. None of those things came easily, though. Vaden was raised by a single mother and lived in a trailer park, so his upbringing was less than ideal. He dedicated the beginning of his career to achieving as much as he possibly could.
Vaden recalls these moments with complete honesty. He assesses his journey—and that of every entrepreneur—in a way that brings philosophical truth to everyone’s existence. Money is necessary, but life is about more than starting companies.
That’s why, in Vaden’s eyes, Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs could use an update. The five-tier model of human motivation is presented as a pyramid. From the bottom to the top, Maslow theorized that to become your best self, you need to achieve some goals in stages. Humans need food, shelter, relationships, self-esteem, and the self-actualization of reaching one’s full potential, in that order.
If Vaden could edit one part, he’d change the very top of the pyramid—the final destination Maslow charted for every human being. Instead of stopping at self-actualization, “others-actualization” would be the goal, he says.
“There is nothing like the feeling you get when you help someone become successful,” Vaden says. “That is something that’s available to all of us right away. We don’t have to have another accomplishment or degree, some number of social media followers, or a specific amount of money in our bank account.”
As the SUCCESS entrepreneurship editor, Vaden will help you put your goals into perspective. You’ll get practical advice plus encouragement to help others chase their biggest dreams.
Designing Your Life’s Story with Kindra Hall
Before she became the Chief Storytelling Officer of SUCCESS and a member of the magazine’s Editorial Board, Kindra Hall’s lifestyle was put to the test. It happened last year, right at the outset of the pandemic. New York City decided to close its public schools, which meant her kids would attend virtual school at home five days a week. That completely transformed her household. Suddenly, Hall’s routine was filled with uncertainty.
“For me, the Type A person, it’s been an extended upending of everything,” she says.
Of course, Hall wasn’t alone in feeling this way. Because of the pandemic, people across the world faced a new normal for months on end. Some lost their jobs as the airline, oil, and hospitality industries slowed down. Others managed to stay employed but had to adjust to working from home. Then there were the millions of people who became—and are still becoming—COVID-19 patients.
Life is precious. It’s something we know but sometimes forget. If the pandemic has revealed anything, it’s that uncertainty is inevitable, and creating the life you want to live, right now, is an urgent matter.
This shameless protection of your future is what Hall wants to promote. She knows that building the right lifestyle is hard work, especially when the world keeps changing. It’s not easy to look back on the past year and see that your life is still, for the most part, on hold.
“I’m excited to bring the idea of shortening those time spans,” Hall says. “And not measuring the quality of your lifestyle in weeks or months or years but almost moment to moment. Morning to afternoon to evening. That’s one of the ways I deal with uncertainty.”
The other way, Hall says, is by focusing on what’s within your control. Then you can mold those variables into something that’s manageable, a story you can tell yourself about the person you are and the life you’re creating.
For Hall and her husband, that meant hiring some help during the pandemic. They sat down together and calculated the value of their time, asking themselves, “How much per hour is our time worth?” The question was deeply revealing. If they had to spend hours on their kids’ virtual education each day, they would lose opportunities. It was a tough decision, but they protected their lifestyle by having someone else step into that role.
This mindset reflects some of Hall’s best advice, which is to always control the story in your head. No one is powerless in tough situations. You can change your reality with one productive thought.
Helping people tell the right stories—to themselves and to others—is Hall’s expertise. As a strategic storyteller, she helps brands communicate their values to customers. Her book, Stories That Stick, became a Wall Street Journal best-seller and a must-read for anyone looking to humanize their business. When you need to create better stories, search no further. Hall will inspire you to find the right narrative.
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No matter where you are in life, you can benefit from having knowledgeable mentors. As you read this magazine, listen to SUCCESS podcasts and gather on Achievers, think of the editorial board as your friendly team of advisors.
Whether you want to grow your network or become a better entrepreneur, you don’t have to face those challenges alone.
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2021 issue of SUCCESS magazine.