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A Multimillionaire's 7 Rules for Combining Many Passions into One Successful Career

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DeVon Franklin — best known for producing the films Miracles from Heaven and Heaven Is for Real, and co-authoring the New York Times bestselling book The Wait — is a bit of a unicorn. He’s not only a top Hollywood producer, he’s a renowned preacher. He’s a recognized authority on faith and the entertainment business, not necessarily two subjects that you’d expect to see together. He discusses the blending of the two in his first book, Produced By Faith and his recently released title, The Hollywood Commandments.

Related: Are You Following Your True Passion? Give Yourself the ‘Wednesday Test.’

Franklin seems to be winning everywhere: He’s the successful CEO of Franklin Entertainment, a production company in conjunction with 20th Century Fox, a bestselling author, a TV personality, a producer and a sought-after speaker. Beliefnet called him one of the “Most Influential Christians Under 40,” Variety magazine named him one of the “Top 10 Producers to Watch,” and Ebony magazine has named him one of the “Top 100 Influential African-Americans in America.”

Since so many beginner entrepreneurs, authors and speakers I work with struggle to combine multiple passions and messages into one brand, I could not wait to ask him how he does it all. Here are my top seven commandments on how the rest of us can follow his lead and weave together multiple passions into one successful business.

Thou shalt pay your dues.

Some may be tempted to say that Franklin is successful thanks to his proximity to Will Smith, because he started his career within the company that manages Smith. However, Franklin started there as an intern, waiting on the firm’s assistants. In other words, he was at the very bottom of the bottom. It took years before he actually had a relationship with Smith himself.

When I asked Franklin about his start, I love how he explained the phrase we’ve heard before about “taking the stairs” to success: “I pray that people don’t have overnight success, because if you get it overnight, you’ll lose it overnight. Taking the elevator to the 20th floor takes no energy, takes no effort. However, if you need to manage life on the 20th floor and you haven’t taken the steps, you might get here; but you’re not going to know how to manage it.”

Related: Why There’s No Better Time Than the Present to Follow Your Dreams

He went on to explain that the process it takes to work your way up builds not only your character, but your actual capacity for managing life on that top level. Plus, getting there is not the goal, is it? It’s staying there.

“Your ability to maintain what you obtain is critically dependent on the process you went through to get it,” Franklin said. “I would never be able to do and manage what I have now if I had tried to shortcut the process.”

Thou shalt learn to be patient — very patient.

“It took over 150,000 hours, over 6,500 days from the day I set foot in Hollywood to finally getting my production company. That is 150,000 hours of showing up, serving,” Franklin shared.

He understands the frustration of feeling stuck, and he offers a great solution for those moments. Realize that the frustration is wasted energy and wasted time. Shift your attention immediately onto what you can do right then and there to be productive and create results.

“If you really want to maximize your time, fix your focus. Think about this. Every time I’m frustrated, ‘Okay, what can I focus on that can actually be productive?’ If I can focus on something productive, what’s going to happen? I’m going to feel better. Because what I focus on creates how I feel.”

Related: What It Takes to Build a Business Based on a Personal Passion

Thou shalt learn to let go.

In the last few years, within the entrepreneurship and personal development space, there has been a growing focus on letting go: “Let go and let God,” “the universe has your back,” etc. I don’t’ know about you, but this can be a frustrating idea because I love to hustle. I love to solve problems and produce results — when do we push and when do we release?

“Your prayers alone aren’t enough. I talk about the concept of praying and preparing,” Franklin said, explaining his mindset. “I don’t work to make things happen. I work because I believe things are already happening.”

He explained if you start to think, If I don’t land this sale, if I don’t make this deal, everything will fall apart, you have a lack of belief, and belief is necessary for success. He reminded that desperation is like bad cologne. The moment you walk in the room everyone smells it and no one wants to go near it.

“[Think], What can I actually do today and am I maximizing where I am? Once I actually look at where I am and I say, ‘Yeah, I’m maximizing where I am,’ great. Then I’ve got to relax, to pray, to have faith and to trust. Am I doing the work? Yes, but am I doing the work to the point of losing my mind? No, because when I actually sit back and I rest in the confidence of who I am and what I’m doing, more opportunities come.”

Related: A 4-Step Guide to Realistically Pursuing Your Passion

Thou shalt be your authentic self.

Franklin doesn’t deny any part of himself in order to succeed and he says you shouldn’t either because “your difference is your destiny.”

“Too often we try to become a version of what other people want us to be. As a result, we diminish the destiny we were created to achieve. For me, [it’s] owning my authenticity, owning the fact that I am a Christian. I’m a person of faith. Owning the fact that I love Hollywood.”

He went on to quote a phrase he’d once heard from another preacher. “‘When you are rare, you are rewarded.’ It’s important to hone that rarity, hone that difference — it will lead you to your destiny.”

But, thou shalt focus on one passion first.

Herein lies the rub, multi-passionate reader. Be authentic, yes, but build a foundation first. What do you want to be known for first that will set you up to explore all of your other passions? That is your tree trunk. 

“We all have different gifts … we’re really broad and unfocused,” Franklin explained. “If you’re unfocused, you’re not going to be able to hone your energy, your time, and then zone in on what are the opportunities that are going to help you build who you are and become who you need to be. It’s like the tree. If the tree does not have a trunk, there can be no branches.”

Franklin’s trunk was entertainment. He knew at an early age that he wanted to be in the entertainment industry — even though he also felt called to preach, write, etc. — so he moved to Hollywood, started his film degree and got an internship in the industry. Later, an established influence in the industry, he began writing about his faith and making faith in entertainment part of his platform.

Related: Turning a Passion Into a Profitable Career

Thou shalt prepare for conflict.

Even though it seems like all Franklin does is win, win, win, no matter what, he said that is untrue. For example, a popular Bible app wouldn’t work with him on a devotional series to go along with The Hollywood Commandments. His upcoming animated Christmas film, The Star, isn’t supported in some Christian film festivals because of its celebrity cast members. Franklin asks, when have we ever seen someone operating in their destiny who did not receive conflict along the way?

“If I’m getting conflict, then that means I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to do. It keeps me hungry. Oh, okay. Y’all don’t get it yet. I’m going to keep going.”

Franklin understands the temptation to obsess over likes and shares and follows, but believes using our gifts as a way to receive praise sets us up for “massive disappointment.”

“People are fickle. They are. Some days they love you, some days they don’t. I have found that if you just stay consistent and you embrace the conflict, and you keep moving forward, the right things happen at the right time …. Too often, we get discouraged by a ‘no.’ A ‘no’ only sets you up for the right ‘yes,’ but you’ve got to remain persistent and consistent in order to get it.”

Consistent, he added, not for weeks or months but years.

Related: Making Tons of Money Means Nothing If You Don’t Have a Passion for Your Startup

Thou shalt focus on your intentions and your audience.

It’s not about followers, but at the same time, we need ears and eyeballs to pay attention to us in order to gain new clients, share our message, etc. I asked him, how do we focus on growth and success but keep our ego at bay?

“You’ve got to look at intention,” he answered. “Ask yourself, Why am I doing this? Why am I fighting for this piece of publicity? Why am I fighting for this notoriety? What is it actually here to do?

“If the answer is just, ‘Hey, I want to be known,’ that might be just ego. Everything I do is geared toward whoever is receiving what I’m doing, to help produce a moment, an urge, a desire to do something different and positive in their life that they otherwise may not have done had that they not had that moment. Everything I do is knit by that.”

He broke down a lesson he’d heard in a sermon that explains this brilliantly.

“What do we do with the fruit tree? The tree produces a fruit. We go to the tree for the fruit. Now, does the tree say, ‘Look at me. I’m the tree.’ No. Nobody cares about the tree!

“Your [work, the gift you produce out of your talents] is really precious. The more that I just honor myself, the less the gift gets a chance to put front and center. The more I’m saying, Yes, this is the gift I’ve been given, and I want to give it, the better I feel; and the more I believe I can actually help people.

“It’s not about me, the giver, it’s about the gift.”

Watch in-depth interviews with celebrity entrepreneurs on The Pursuit with Kelsey Humphreys

Related: Multimillionaire Coach Shares 8 Tips for Running a Coaching Business

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Steve Jobs Shares the Secrets to Successful Team Leadership in This Throwback Video

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Though Apple co-founder Steve Jobs died six years ago, his outsized influence is certainly still felt. A recently surfaced video interview with the late CEO — which based on his haircut seems to place him in the mid-1980s — shows him sharing his views about best practices for hiring and what makes a great manager.

Up front, he says that the greatest employees are the ones who have the ability to manage themselves. But they can only do that if the leadership at the top is clear about what they want. “What leadership [is] having a vision, being able to articulate that so the people around you can understand it and getting a consensus on a common vision,” Jobs says.

Related: Steve Jobs Systematically Cultivated His Creativity. You Can Too.

Jobs goes on to explain that one of the most important jobs of someone in his position is recruiting new employees. He notes that he isn’t necessarily looking for someone who is an industry veteran, but rather someone who understands where technology is and where it could go in the future. He also recalls a moment when as the company was growing, that he and others executives thought they needed “professional managers,” but that ultimately turned out to not be the case.   

“We went out and hired a bunch of professional management [and] it didn’t work at all. Most of them were bozos,” Jobs says with his characteristic brutal candor. “They knew how to manage, but they didn’t know how to do anything. If you’re a great person, why do you want to work for somebody that you can’t learn anything from?”

Related: What the Creation of Apple’s iPhone Teaches Us About Innovation

Ultimately, he notes that the best team leaders are the ones that aren’t angling for power for power’s sake. “They are the great individual contributors who never, ever want to be a manager,” Jobs says. “But decide they have to be a manager because no one else is going to be able to do as good a job as them.”

Do you agree with Jobs’s assessment? Let us know in the comments and check out the full video below.

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How to Keep Introverted Employees From Quietly Leaving Your Company — in Droves

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The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) has been around for decades. Employers use it to uncover job candidates’ personality strengths and place them in the right role. MBTI results also help identify natural leaders and great communicators.

Related: Introversion Is Not A Weakness, So Why Are You Treating It Like One?

Yet, there’s little talk about how people’s results impact their satisfaction once they’re in a job. When leaders ignore employees’ happiness, it’s hard to keep productive talent around.

Interestingly, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based publisher of the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator, CCP, Inc., conducted new research that dove into how personality impacts workplace well-being. It looked at five aspects of well-being: positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishments.

After surveying 3,113 participants, the company, in a September report, revealed that introverts have lower well-being in all of these areas. This isn’t all that surprising: An introvert is less likely to speak up about what’s negatively impacting him or her.

It is shocking, however, that employers aren’t being more proactive. If leaders don’t find a way to improve the workplace happiness of introverts, those people will leave and take all their unique skills with them.

Want to avoid that happening to you? Here are some ideas to help connect with the introverts in your office and better understand their wellness-related needs in the workplace:

Be a chameleon.

Many leaders make the mistake of managing everyone the same way and assuming the results will equate across the board. But there’s a huge flaw in that logic: Every person, in fact, perceives and processes guidance differently. Some need more help in certain situations; some need less. So, it’s up to leaders to customize their approach.

Leaders ignoring the needs of their introverts can hurt their overall workplace well-being. The reason: Introverted employees will feel less engaged and have a harder time reaching their goals. This may then lead to feelings of isolation and disappointment, negatively impacting these workers’ mental health.

Related: 6 Truths on Why Introverts Make Great Leaders

When managers recognize introverts’ differences, on the other hand, they can help those employees succeed, and feel more accomplished. For example, as New York-based co-founder of the digital agency Ready Set Rocket, Aaron Harvey, pointed out, introverts have trouble speaking in front of people. “If someone struggles in brainstorming sessions, simply stop by their desk in advance and ask them to be prepared with a few ideas around a specific topic,” Harvey advised in an email. “This can help them feel confident, joining a conversation that organically leads to real-time ideation.”

Consider other situations when introverts might feel that they are out of their element. For instance, consider ways in which shy employees might meet new people.

Talking with new clients, after all, probably makes them nervous. So, reduce their stress by having an extrovert they’re comfortable with tag along. Having a familiar face present will help get them through the situation.

Scrimmage employees’ skill sets.

Extroverts’ strengths are obvious. They’re good communicators, enjoy building relationships and freely share their ideas — all skills that contribute to their well-being. These traits make it easier for them to create a support system at work and to speak up about what skills they have to offer.

Introverts’ skills are more hidden, so leaders don’t always see what they bring to the table. Since introverts are less likely to communicate what responsibilities they’d like to take on, they’re left feeling unfulfilled.

Skills-assessment tools, like the MBTI, are a great solution. They reveal natural strengths and help managers assign introverts more meaningful work.

After realizing your introverts’ skills, give them more opportunities to use them. Assign tasks and projects that allow them to maximize their strengths. Fully and effectively contributing to the team will improve their feelings of meaning and accomplishment.

Arlington, Va.-based Greg Wester, senior vice president of marketing and business development at the mobile content discovery platform Mobile Posse, likes to mix it up with his employees. To help everyone on the team develop his or her skills, Wester told me, the company poses team challenges that mix introverts and extroverts.

“We’ve found that people are super competitive about winning,” he said by email. “The different types of exercises give people a variety of ways to participate, get involved and hopefully boost their well-being.”

Currently, Mobile Posses’ employees are working as teams to create themed videos. Each team has eight cross-functional, cross-personality employees. They’re all challenged to use their individual skills to create a video representing their perspective on a company core value or vision.

This approach to skill-building, Wester said, helps introverts connect with the entire team and gives them more confidence about their value in the organization.

Keep kindred spirits together.

While it’s good to have both types of personalities working together, introverts may become stressed if they’re paired only with extroverts.

For instance, imagine walking into a room where everyone is talking loudly and the words don’t make sense. The situation is overwhelming. This is how introverts feel when they’re surrounded by extroverts. It’s as though no one is speaking their language, and they feel isolated as a result.

What’s more, iIntroverts and extroverts communicate differently. To maintain well-being, introverts need to find like-minded people they can connect with and recharge their energy with.

Rick Gibbs, a performance specialist at the Kingwood, Tex.-based HR services company Insperity, pointed out that following personality assessments, introverts can find people who are like them and make healthy connections. “The process itself can help improve communication, build teams, and expand office friendships,” Gibbs said in an email. “More introverted employees will be able to identify others with similar communications styles.”

Related: How Thinking Like an Introvert Can Help You Get Ahead in Business

So think about conducting personality testing at your workplace. Then, hold a meeting where everyone can discuss his or her results. This will show introverts that they are not alone. They’ll be able to communicate better and deepen their relationships — and with them their personal well-being — at work.

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Hard Work? It's Not All It's Cracked up to Be. It May Even Be Irrelevant. Here's Why.

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From a young age, we’re raised to believe that we can accomplish pretty much anything so long as we work hard enough to achieve it. And, for the most part, that makes sense, at least intuitively. If you study for three hours while your roommate studies for one, you’ll probably do better on the test. If you spend 50 hours at work every week while your peer spends 30, you’ll stand a better chance of getting a raise or a promotion.

This idea follows us at every stage of our lives, and it echoes a cornerstone belief of Western culture: As long as you work hard, you’re going to be successful. But there’s a problem with this philosophy: Hard work isn’t always enough.

The Netflix approach

This idea is hard to accept at first, if you’re a hard worker who invests major time and effort to get what you want in life. Perhaps then, it’s best to introduce the alternative notion, using a corporate example.

Netflix (yes, the company responsible for those late-night television binges) has found success in part because it abolished the idea of hard work being the sole determining factor in an employee’s progression within the company.

Netflix formally introduced this idea in a 2009 slide deck explaining the company’s culture, but the idea dates back to 2001. Since her departure from Netflix, the company’s former chief talent officer, Patty McCord, has been on podcasts and spoken in interviews about the rather different work ethic Neflix evolved.

After experiencing financial trouble in 2001, the company made a bold move to lay off a third of its employees — not based on how long they’d worked there or how hard they’d worked, but solely on what they contribute, and how they impact the company’s bottom line. This infuriated some long-time, hard-working employees, but those who remained ended up getting more done because they didn’t have to correct others’ mistakes, or work around unnecessary teammates.

Even after that initial layoff, Netflix paid almost no attention to employees’ hard work. It allowed unlimited vacation time and flexible hours, focusing on results and innovation instead of the number of hours worked or the effort spent. This system resulted in the letting go of many employees who’d worked hard and performed well. But it also resulted in the better performance of the company (and, in many ways, in less stress for the remaining employees).

The problems with hard work

The Netflix example may seem harsh, especially if you’ve based your career around working hard. What if you too were fired after a decade of putting in long hours and genuinely trying your best?

Still, there are three main problems with hard work that an alternative culture or approach could correct:

“Hard work” doesn’t equal “results.” First off, hard work doesn’t necessarily correlate with results. For example, it doesn’t matter if you put 100 hours in to the design of your landing page; if your site doesn’t convert,you may as well have spent one hour.

Hard work isn’t efficient work. Next, consider that hard work isn’t necessarily efficient work. If it takes the person next to you three hours to complete a task that you could have completed in an hour, that extra hard work may have actually cost the company unnecessary time and money.

Hard work doesn’t encourage innovation. Finally, focusing on hard work doesn’t encourage innovation or novelty. Instead, it encourages repetition and persistence. Those factors can be good, but you also need some drive to try new tactics, incorporate new ideas and learn new things in your life.

What to focus on Instead

None of this is meant to imply that hard work isn’t valuable — only that your hard work should be reserved for when it counts the most. So, as an individual (whether you’re a professional or an entrepreneur), what should you be focusing on instead?

Efficiency. Focus on your efficiency. Instead of spending more hours, emphasize doing more with the hours you already have. For example, you could automate certain processes, delegate work beneath your paygrade or find new strategies to accomplish more within a set time frame. You can also work on eliminating redundancies in your workflow, or on abandoning tasks, meetings, and projects that eat up your time unnecessarily.

Results. Focus on results, prioritizing the work that seems to yield the highest return on your time investment. What’s really going to help you succeed? Reduce or eliminate anything that doesn’t fall in line with that vision, and don’t be afraid to make cuts.

Improvement. Focus on improving yourself and your surroundings. Instead of working hard on level one, spend some effort trying to get to level two. Invest in yourself, learning new skills and gaining new experiences, and invest in your environment by training your employees and making sure you have the best tools available for the job.

Hard work is incredibly valuable, but we shouldn’t keep thinking of it as the most important factor for success. Instead, we should see it as one of many factors that can help us, but won’t, in itself, necessarily save our businesses.

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