The Secret Handbook 4 Teens

Be Brave. Take Risks. Nothing Can Substitute Experience.

I’d love to take credit for the catchy title of this post but sadly it is a quote I “borrowed” from the author Paul Coehlo. While I can’t take credit for the quote, it doesn’t diminish the importance of these simple but powerful words.

Life seems pretty risky sometimes. From feeling nervous about wearing red sneakers because they’ll make your feet stand out (a favorite post of mine from a fellow blogger about anxiety) to setting your sights on a dream and taking the steps to make it come true even though you might fail, there is much to be fearful about in the world.

As someone who has actually survived and is thriving in my adulthood, I’m here to tell you that you will be ok and the worst you can imagine is almost never going to happen. Ok, I lied. Sometimes the worst may actually happen. Here’s a personal example. When I was in college I started applying to graduate school. My grades were average, my GRE scores were crap and I was applying to pretty competitive programs. I was super nervous about it and guess what? Surprise surprise I didn’t get in. Was it the worst I could have imagined? Was I devastated? Yeah, I suppose so but it did make me volunteer for the professor I wanted to work with, take a graduate class to show I had what it takes to make the grade and take a test prep class to raise my GRE scores. When I reapplied did I get in? I sure did. In fact, I went on to get my Ph.D. but I doubt I would have ever gotten this far if I hadn’t taken the risk and learned from the experience. In fact, that experience is part of what makes me want to help you guys today. I am living proof that you don’t have to be a superstar to succeed and to live your dreams. You just have to take risks, work hard, try and try again and I promise you’ll get to where you want or need to be.

Here’s the best part about taking risks though – even if you fail, you will grow and learn SO much from the experience and by growing and learning, you become your True Self.

Now you tell me? What are you afraid to do? Where are you holding yourself back? When did you try, fail and come out all the stronger as a result? Share your stories with me and help other teens too!

U R What U Think So Why Not Think Yourself into a Ferrari?

The mind is everything. What you think you become. – Buddha

Every moment of every day you are thinking your way into your own reality. If you think things are going to turn out badly they probably will. If you think the world is your playground and that it will rise up to meet you in greatness, it probably will. So why are you wasting your time and energy thinking negative thoughts?

You are what you think. Or, as Buddha said it, what you think you become. I’m not suggesting that you can think your way into owning a Ferrari. No, you actually have to do the work to make the money to buy your dream car but if that really is your goal and you don’t let negative thoughts get in the way like “Oh, you’ll never own a nice car because you’ll never be successful.” then yeah, you probably will trade in that old clunker for a sporty Italian sports car.

A car is a simple and silly example of the power of your thoughts but I offer it just to help you understand that everything – literally everything and anything – is possible if you stay positive and keep your mind focused on it. Let me be clear though. This isn’t some magic power that you can just cross your fingers and wish your way into your reality but, with a positive outlook and hard work (did I mention the hard work – it’s sorta critical in all of this), you can live the life of your dreams AND live happy.

Isn’t it time to stop thinking so negatively? What thoughts are you caught up in? What dreams do you want to achieve? How have you become your own worst enemy? How can I help you live happy?

Search 4 a Dream, Not a Job

These days I hear so many teens worrying about what college they will get into and what kind of job they will get (or fears about not getting a job once out of college) and I’m here to beg you to change the way you think about your future.

Please please please search for and pursue your dream and don’t worry about the actual job. Think about why this is important. Surely you know people who hate what they do right? Think about the adults you know (maybe even your own family members) who drag themselves to a job they hate every day just so they can get a paycheck. I’m not saying there aren’t times when you might need to take a job because you need to earn money but if you start planning the right way now, hopefully your job will just be you living your dream and happening to earn a paycheck as a bonus.

Use your time at school to help you build this dream and vision.

Go into college being open to new ideas and new experiences. Take classes that you might not even think you’re interested in because it could be the one that blows your mind and changes your perspective on life. Get good grades because you are inspired to learn. Plan your future and create an action plan to get you where you want to be, not to just get you a job. Don’t come out of college and go on and aimlessly search for something that sounds moderately interesting just because it’s time to make some dollars and join the real world. Nothing could be more depressing.

So how do you actually do this? How do you build a dream and not just become a job seeker? All it really takes are some actions (which you can actually write down as an actual plan but that’s another blog post) that you execute along the way.

Here’s an example.

Let’s say you want to go to college with a goal of opening your own cupcake business. Now think about what you need to learn and do to build that business. You’d probably want to take some business classes and maybe some finance-related classes in school. You might also want to take some cooking classes on the side and maybe an art class to inspire your creative mind. Maybe you get a summer job working at a bakery to learn the ropes. Maybe you find a mentor who has created a successful business. Maybe you spend your free time baking up new and interesting batches of delicious cupcakes to test on your family and friends. Perhaps you go to a bank to learn about small business loans and what would be required of you. Maybe you read books about successful entrepreneurs (or famous bakers!) for inspiration and ideas. I could go on and on but basically, there are any number of steps you can take to design and pursue your dream.

Now, it might turn out that you go on and find an add for a job as a baker and that’s great but you can also take deliberate steps to pursue a dream and not just a job. You’ll notice the one thing I did not say is required is that you go to Harvard, Princeton, Yale or Stanford to achieve this dream. There are many many wonderful colleges and universities out there where you can learn, grow and plan your future. The name on your college sweatshirt will not make or break your dream. Trust me on this.

Want some help? Comment here with your questions and I will try to help you map out your dream!

Already dealing with broken resolutions? Start with a vision.

 “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.”  – Buddha

What we think we become.

5 words but such powerful ones  and, it turns out,  the perfect solution to broken New Year’s resolutions. A vision is a powerful picture that your mind will believe and support (especially the more you focus your mind on it!)  Resolutions are nice but they often aren’t rooted in a vision of what you want to accomplish. Resolving to lose weight, exercise more, read more books, study harder, get better grades, are mostly just lofty goals. Easy to say but not very motivating when it comes down to doing the work to make them happen.

A vision of what you want to accomplish can be much more effective in motivating your actions and in making your mind believe in what you’re proposing. A vision that you live by and think about and dream about is much more likely to come true (which is not to say that you don’t have to work on achieving that vision – work will always be necessary.)

So how do you know if your goal or dream is really your vision?

A vision is something you jus can’t stop thinking about. You wake up and go to sleep thinking about it, you daydream about it, you modify it and edit it and still can’t stop thinking about it. You can see yourself doing it. You can see yourself being successful at it. It makes you tingle and makes your nervous and makes your doubtful and yet you still think about it! That’s a vision.

So, go ahead. Reassess your resolutions. It’s ok. No one is judging you. Make sure they align with your vision. If they don’t, maybe they can be next year’s resolutions and maybe it’s time to focus on what you really want to achieve. Maybe it’s time to pursue your real dreams. Maybe it’s time to turn your vision into reality.







Dream Big But Act Now


“If you have a great idea, act on it now.” Max Levchin, founder of Paypal, Yelp & Innovator Extraordinaire

Do you know who Max Levchin is? I have to be honest, I didn’t know who he was until I saw him on CBS This Morning recently discussing his new loan business that’s likely to revolutionize banking (much like  his idea for Paypal which revolutionized the way we pay for things online.) Clearly he’s a smart and cool guy with a lot of amazing ideas but the one thing he said that really struck me was that young people need to pursue their good ideas now. In other words, don’t wait until you finish your education to pursue a dream – do it now!

History is ripe with examples of people who put aside what they are “supposed to be doing” to do, what they know deep inside, they need to be doing. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are two perfect examples of people who dared to dream big and changed the way we compute and stay connected via social media. I’m not suggesting you should or have to drop out of Harvard (or any school) in order to be successful but I am suggesting that sometimes big dreams require big leaps of faith and big actions.

Here’s the thing, yes you may only be a teen and yes, you may not quite have all the tools you need at your fingertips but that shouldn’t stop you from acting on a great idea. For example, with online crowdfunding opportunities, you actually could sketch out your idea and proposal and raise the funds to make a go of it. Look at student Jeff Powell who created a prosthetic hand with a 3D printer for a little boy who needed one.  Or 13 year-old Shubam Banerjee who made an inexpensive braille printer using Legos and a robotics kit. I bet they never said, “I have a good idea but I’d better wait until I’m in my 40s to pursue it.”

Your age is not a roadblock to your success. In fact, because you’re young and energetic and have your finger on the pulse of the latest ideas and technology, you are the perfect age to ignite change in this world!

So stop sitting around and waiting until you get older. By then, someone else could come along and steal your big idea.

Dream big but act now.

Got Goals? Good for You. But Why?


Goals, dreams, accomplishments…it doesn’t matter what you call them. At the end of the day, all you know is that you have a strong feeling that there is something you need to do. No, something you must do. It might be to write a book. Or to become a successful musician. Or to become a doctor. Or to make a varsity sports team. It might be big. It might be small. But you know deep down that you must do this thing.

But why?

It turns out you actually need to think pretty deeply about the motivation behind your goal because that understanding matters. You might discover that your motivations aren’t really ones that align with your moral code or set of values. If that’s the case, it’s time to re-think them. You might discover that your goal is actually not related to what you think you need to accomplish. For example, you may feel the need to write a book but when you look at the reasons why, you might realize that what you really want to do is touch people and improve their lives. As you look deeper, you may figure out that you don’t actually need to write a book to do this. You may decide that you could also become a speaker or a teacher or a health care worker or any other number of things. What you’ll find is that there are often many paths that can help lead you to your dream and the “thing” you need to accomplish, may actually just be an action you need to take.

At the end of the day, your goals should be driven by the experiences you want to have and the person you want to be in this world.

Let me say that again just to make sure you’re hearing me:

Your goals should be driven by the experiences you want to have and the person you want to be in this world.

Your dreams should help you to grow and should help make your life richer and deeper. Your dreams should be about what you want to contribute to the world and the journey you want to take.

So think about your goals and dreams and ask yourself:

Why do I want to achieve this?

What does it mean to me?

Where will it lead me?

Who will it make me?

What will it allow me to contribute?

What will I look like at the end?

What will the world look like at the end?

Understanding the motivation behind your dreams is a powerful tool to helping you achieve them.

So the next time you think about a goal ask yourself: Why? Then ask it again.


Spark Desire 4 Your Dreams in 3 Simple Steps


“The starting point of all achievement is desire.” – Napoleon Hill

The definition of desire is actually pretty simple:

Desire (noun) 1) a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen.

Given that definition, it’s going to seem pretty obviously when I tell you that desire is essential to achieving your dreams but let’s think about it a little bit. In fact, let’s think about it using a really common goal – eating healthier.

Everyone, at some point in their life, is likely going to set a goal of eating healthier.  The spark for wanting to do this may result from a trip to the doctor or it may be as simple as your jeans getting tighter. Either way, you resolve that from now on you’re going to start eating healthier.

Until someone asks you if you want a cupcake and who wants to give up a cupcake?

Well, you might actually say “No thanks.” to that cupcake if you really have a strong desire to eat healthier. If you really really want to make your goal happen. If, it turns out, you don’t really care all that much about the goal, it’s going to be much easier to give up on it.

The good news is that you can actually take some steps to make sure the desire is there. Here are my favorite three.

1) Share your dream with positive people who are going to support you. 

Having others cheering you on and telling you they believe in you makes a world of difference. Don’t be afraid to share your dream with others because you worry you’ll feel embarrassed if you don’t achieve it. The right people will support you no matter what happens and will increase the odds of getting to the finish line.

2) Know what you want and why you want it. 

Saying “I want to make a lot of money” might seem like a goal but it actually might not be. You might want to make a lot of money because you want security in your life. You might want to make a lot of money because you actually want to travel and see the world and that takes some serious cash. You might want to make money to help others. There’s usually a reason you want to achieve something (if there’s not, that’s another problem) so figure out what that is and focus on that.

3) Surround yourself with your goal.

Talk about your goal. Put up pictures of what it will look like. Write about it. Spend time every morning and every night thinking about it. Check in with others about it. If you set a goal and then file it away, it’s going to be easy to forget about it or ignore it. Constantly reminding yourself about your goal will keep re-fueling and igniting your desire.

What it boils down to is that desire is the necessary spark to igniting your dreams.

No spark, no fire.






Dreams not coming true fast enough? Be patient. These things take time.


All great achievements require time. – Maya Angelou

I don’t know about you but I can get pretty impatient pretty quickly. Whether it’s picking the wrong line  in a store or getting stuck behind a slow driver, I like things to happen quickly and according to MY schedule. As you can imagine, this can become an issue when trying to achieve longer term goals because progress is not always  immediately obvious and sometimes not obvious at all.

Adding to this, we live in a society where things happen fast and where our needs are met just as quickly. Need information or directions? Your smart phone can give it to you in mere seconds. This too makes it equally frustrating when we’re trying to achieve a goal and it doesn’t happen overnight. We expect immediate results.

What history has shown us though is that most great achievements take time. Diseases aren’t cured overnight. Most great inventions have been worked on for years and years without a breakthrough. Books take time to write. Paintings and sculptures are not created in a 24 hour period. The iPhone didn’t spring to life just because Steve Jobs thoughts about it.  Great achievements requires time and effort (oh and faith and desire too).

What would have happened if these writers, painters, artists and inventors all just gave up because they didn’t see immediate progress? That’s why you can’t give up either. If you have a dream to be the next Selena Gomez, have a plan, stick to it and be patient. I could obviously go on and on with examples but at the end of the day, great achievements requires constant work, dedication, a solid plan, faith, desire and, perhaps most importantly, patience.

Think about your goals and dreams? Do you give up because you don’t see immediate results? Do you have enough patience? Did you ever come close to achieving something but didn’t because it just didn’t happen fast enough? Give it time young grasshopper. Give it time.