8 Success Strategies of Silicon Valley Achievers

April 9, 2013 | By | Reply More

Working at home requires discipline and focus in order to succeed. Years ago when the “IBM Selectric” typewriter was the state-of-the-art “computer,” I had a business in my home while juggling three children, a dog, and a husband. No matter what happened with the family during the day, I still had to function like a business and meet the deadlines I promised my clients. I set goals and dreamed. I dreamed of having a celebrity as a customer. That would bring some legitimacy to my home business, I thought.

Successful negotiations

There were three celebrities living in the San Francisco Bay Area at the time–Tennessee Ernie Ford, Bing Crosby, and Shirley Temple Black. I promised myself that I would bring my secretarial service to their attention. It was on my mind all the time but I did not have the time to act on it. A few months later I received a phone call from a potential client who needed a speech typed right away. I typed the speech, meeting the urgent deadline: After all, I had to live up to my business name–Instant Girl Friday! That day my dream came true–I had my first celebrity client, Shirley Temple Black. It was then I learned the power of dreaming and believing that it would happen.

A few years ago, while interviewing some Silicon Valley achievers, I discovered that successful people are dreamers, shakers and movers. While others talk about their dreams, achievers are doing it. They don’t wait for the right time, right weather or approval from others. They jump in and take charge. They have a lot of fun along the way as they explore, discover, plan and act on their dreams.

Take a look at the 8 traits listed below that identify the success strategies of the Silicon Valley achievers that I interviewed. Rate yourself on each trait and practice improving those traits that need strengthening. In no time you will find yourself achieving more than you ever dreamed possible.

Rating chart:

1 = Not one of my strong points.
2 = I will work on this at least once a week. I will ask for support.
3 = I am good at this when I choose to be. I need to stay focused.
4 = I do quite well at this most of the time.
5 = This is one of my strong points. I could do this in my sleep.

The Success Traits of Silicon Valley Dynamos

1. Believe in Yourself.

Be positive. Be bold. Silicon Valley role models are assertive and confident in their decisions and activities–they believe they can do what they aim to do. And they know that the only limits that really count are the ones people place upon themselves. Looking for the good in other people, dynamos approach life with enthusiasm. Nancy learned definitively when she was eight years old that practice builds self-confidence. She loved to draw and wanted to be a Disney animator someday. With revelation, she recognized that she must do the things she loved to be happy. She knew what she wanted and went after it with a fierce conviction of her ability to do it. She insisted on going to an art college instead of a business college as her mom suggested. Nancy stayed focused and today she is one of the directors on the long-running, successful sit-com series, The Simpsons.

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2. Educate Yourself.

Knowledge is power–increased knowledge strengthens self-esteem. The dynamic people interviewed practice honing their skills every day; learning is a lifelong habit they enjoy. They operate like Olympians who practice their skills daily for success–they read, attend seminars, take higher-learning classes, find mentors, and learn everything they can on the job. To get what they want, they’re willing to go the extra mile in search of answers. With childlike ingenuousness, they’re willing to ask questions of knowledgeable people who have the answers they need to reach success.

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3. Work with Winners.

Super achievers know enough to ask for help and advice. No one succeeds alone. When making an uncomfortable change is necessary, they garner support. Marc Isaac Potter “got stuck” writing a manual and asked a friend to help. Cesar Plata’s whole concept of developing a virtual and real network of Latino professionals was based on the concept that connecting with each other is important for success. Gail Turner, the first woman to build her own aircraft and fly solo from California to Wisconsin, had 30 friends help her build her second airplane. They came because they were caught up in her dream and her enthusiasm was infectious. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” Gail said. “Get advice: Successful people love to help others actualize their dreams.”

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4. Take Risks.

They pushed through their fear. They kept on going and kept failure in perspective. None of them saw an obstacle as the end. They kept on going trying other routes until they found one that worked. They pushed through fear by taking more risks. They saw risk as challenges and opportunities. Networking trailblazer, Cesar Plata of MuyBueno.Net said, “As with anyone launching a startup business, I have endured many personal and financial sacrifices and struggles. I did not see these efforts as barriers; I accepted them as learning experiences. The way I see it, they were simply unmet challenges.”

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5. Exercise the Will to Change.

Motivators’ inner strength keeps them on course. “Will is like a muscle–it grows stronger when you exercise it regularly,” said change expert, Dr. Sidney B. Simon in his book, Getting Unstuck. Dynamos produce enough will to stay with any course of action they choose. Debbie Murray went ahead with a typing test required for a better job although her fingers were in pain from a window slamming down on them the night before. David Latner left his comfortable environment to travel around the world by himself although initially he was fearful about embarking on the journey. Dynamos are passionate about their dreams–and they approach their goals creatively, open-mindedly, embracing change, and frequently looking for new opportunities.

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6. Keep Hope Alive.

Visionaries always see alternatives to problems, light at the end of the tunnel. They look for options and ways to achieve their goals. Kilsoon Kim maintained hope that her children would be well educated–even after her husband died and she lost her home. Michael James left a well-paying job to rekindle his dream of getting into the television business. Little did he know that he would give up everything to do it. To supplement his income, he took any kind of temporary job he could–he worked as a receptionist, did surveys, data entry, and–until his own car was repossessed–delivered pizza. It got bad. He wondered whether he could continue to live like this–very little money and no car to get around. He struggled. He left San Francisco, as it was very competitive. He did volunteer work to learn the TV business. Eventually he got a part-time job on television. Today he is a News Photographer for NBC affiliate WSTM-TV in Syracuse New York. “Never give up,” Michael ! said. “Keep focused on your goal.”

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7. Visualize and Dream

Dynamos clearly imagine reaching their goal. They see the end result in their mind’s eye and then turn their dreams into reality. They know what it takes to achieve their dreams, and they persevere until they reach their goal. Marc Isaac Potter dreamed about being a seminar leader and passionately pursued that goal. Gail Turner dreamed about building her own airplane although she didn’t know how to do it; she envisioned and believed it would happen. In the early ‘90s Doug Jones started Mortgage Magic in his home with $600 and a dream, visualizing that he had a large, successful business. Today, Mortgage Magic is one of the top 15 mortgage companies in Silicon Valley.

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8. Embrace Excellence.

Achievers compete with themselves and attain excellence by challenging themselves to do better. Most avoid those deadly energy drainers: procrastination and perfectionism. Successful people practice self-improvement each day. Even if what they do isn’t perfect, they remain flexible to keep on going. Carlos Figueroa, Self-Improvement guru, challenges himself to try new things every day. And, at the same time, when he says yes, he keeps his promises. Chao Huang, Internet expert, has developed several Internet businesses and tests himself daily against his high standard of quality, stretching himself to stay informed of the rapid changes in this field.

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Success is always a journey. Sal Dossani, president of Joinus travel agency and a storyteller, says, “Success is always a journey. Once we actualize a dream, in time we want to move on to something else that will challenge and fulfill our lives. Be creative and use your inspiration and imagination to follow your dreams.”

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Original publication date: April 29, 2003

 About the Author: 

Joan Clout-Kruse, author of Top 10 Traits of Silicon Valley Dynamos, is a founding member and currently serves as President of the non-profit organization, Success Builders International, A Personal Development Organization
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