Leadership Success Series

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- Ten Characteristics of Millionaires
- Is Your Voice Promotable?
- Follow Your Bliss: Discover your true calling in Life
- Overcome the Top Fear in America: Reduce Public Speaking Nervousness
- How’s Your Money Doing?
- Manage Your Time Successfully
- Six Strategies to Secure Your Job
- Communication Success with Four Personalities

Ten Characteristics of Millionaires

Wealth building values and Habits

“To master the world, one must first master one’s self.” - Chinese Proverb

Success can be defined many ways. We can be successful at work, in school or with our relationships. We can measure success by how happy we are with ourselves, and whether we feel a sense of purpose in this world. We can evaluate success by how much money we make.

In the months ahead, this column will examine many aspects of success as well as explore qualities essential for leadership development. Today, let’s take a look at ten characteristics of millionaires.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average U.S. household will earn close to $1.5 million during a 30-year work span in today’s dollars. The choices people make with this money go a long way in determining their ultimate financial success or failure.

Here are some of the key characteristics of millionaires in the United States, based on the Spectrem Group Survey and research conducted by Drs. Thomas Stanley and William Danko:

1. There were 9.2 million millionaires in the U.S. in 2007.

2. Between 2003 and 2007, the number of millionaires in the U.S. grew by an average of 6.5 percent per year.

3. Approximately 65 percent of millionaires are working.

4. Thirty-six percent own a business.

5. Eighty-seven percent are married.

6. Average age is 55.

7. On average, they do not own the newest cars.

8. On average, they do not shop for name brand clothes.

9. On average, they invest 20 percent of their yearly income.

10. Eighty percent built their wealth in one generation.

So, if you would like to become more affluent, what can you do to develop greater financial mastery?

The following are some of my 15 wealth building values, attitudes and habits:

1. Wealth creation begins with the right attitude regarding money and finances.

2. Abundance begins when you’re no longer living from paycheck to paycheck.

3. Abundance is having your assets and ideas making money for you.

4. Wealthy people make money while they sleep (with investments, on-line business, people working for them, etc.)

5. Pay off your credit card balance in full each month. Pay off any credit card debt ASAP. Credit card interest drains wealth.

6. Keep only one credit card for maintaining a good credit rating. Do away with the rest.

If you would like to receive a free copy of the complete Wealth Building Values, Attitudes, and Habitsreference guide, send an e-mail and indicate “wealth creation” on the subject line.

My next column will be Sept 19 on the topic “Is Your Voice Promotable?” as part of a special feature on Asian American employees.

© 2008 by Preston C. Ni. All rights reserved.


Is Your Voice Promotable?

Voice improvement for your success

Do you like the sound of your voice? Does your tone of voice benefit or hurt you in your life? Would you like to access your strongest and most attractive sounding voice?

I recently hosted an event at a Fortune 500 company, where three senior vice presidents answered employee questions about professional advancement. Prior to the event, I asked a technician if the three executives, whom I had not yet met, should have microphones.

“Oh no,” he replied, “you listen to their voices, and you immediately know why they’re vice presidents!”

In my 17 years of communication training and coaching, I have noticed one consistency about voice: A person with a strong, attractive voice has a big advantage over a person with a weak, unattractive voice. A person with a good voice commands attention, has fewer interruptions and is more likely to be perceived as a promotable leader.

When we analyze intonation, we can generally identify four major types: nasal, mouth, chest and diaphragm.

Most of us have heard someone with a nasal voice. It has a high-pitched, almost whiny quality that can turn people off in a hurry. This is not the type of voice that helps one’s professional or social life.

*****More on Asian Employees & Professionals:*****

A Well-Laid Out Career Can Survive Recession

A Brief History of Asian Employee Resource Groups

Asian Employee Resource Group Directory

Asian Professionals: Blazing the Path for A New Generation


Some Asians and Asian Americans use the mouth voice. The mouth voice makes sounds but is not very powerful. I will not go into here the cultural, social and psychological factors that may contribute to this type of voice. It suffices to say that people who use the mouth voice can sometimes feel invisible: They’re overworked, under appreciated, neglected of their needs and passed over for due recognition. The person with the mouth voice cries out to be heard, but more often than not, no one is really paying attention.

Most men and, to a slightly lesser degree, women use the chest voice. This is the type of voice that sounds pleasant enough and can generally maintain listener interest. There’s nothing negative about the chest voice, except that it is not the best possible voice.

For all of us, our best, strongest, most attractive and most natural voice comes from the diaphragm. A person who uses the diaphragm voice commands attention, sounds more attractive socially and is more likely to be perceived as a promotable leader.

What can you do to access your best voice? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Breathe right. People who don’t speak from the diaphragm also don’t breathe from the diaphragm. To breathe correctly, simply inhale and let your stomach rise, and exhale and let your stomach fall. Breathing is the most fundamental activity we engage in to sustain life. Proper breathing can relax us physically, calm us emotionally, solidify us psychologically and sharpen us mentally. If we breathe right, everything else about us will begin to fall into place.

2. Make sounds based on diaphragmic breathing. Whether you’re singing, speaking, chanting, laughing or even yawning, develop the habit of projecting from your diaphragm.

3. Take a singing or acting class. Many of these classes begin with vocal warm-ups from the diaphragm. And these classes can be a lot of fun!

4. Work with a private voice coach. In my experience, most people are able to access their best (most powerful and attractive) voice in one to two hours. The rest is simply practicing vocal exercises until the new voice is fully internalized.

Your voice is a beautiful instrument, but many of us forget to take full advantage of this wonderful gift. Access your best voice, and you’ll access your best self.

For more information on breathing techniques and voice improvement, e-mail me at commsuccess@nipreston.com.

© 2008 by Preston C. Ni. All rights reserved.


Follow Your Bliss: Discover your true calling in Life

“When you follow your bliss… doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors, and where there wouldn’t be a door for anyone else.” – Joseph Campbell

Do you love what you do? Most Americans don’t. According toCareerFinders.com, four out of five Americans do not have their ideal jobs.

It’s not always easy to do what you love, but it’s definitely possible. Asian Americans are often told from a young age to follow the expectations of family and culture rather than to investigate one’s own horizons. This can lead to career success, at the expense of meaning and fulfillment. My Asian American clients, including many who make six figures a year in prestigious positions, often disclose to me privately an “emptiness” inside. “I make over $200,000 a year, so why am I so unhappy?” one confided.

What is your bliss? A bliss is the type of work you love so much that you’d be willing to do it for free if you didn’t have to pay the bills. You know you’re following your bliss when you wake up in the morning looking forward to your day and go to bed at night feeling good about what you’ve done. This is a calling, something within each of us that we’re meant to do. I believe all of us have at least one such calling in life, many have more.

How to you follow your bliss? It’s important to find it first. Your bliss is a combination of three factors:

1. Your true potential. We’re all good at some things in life. Some of us are good with people, some with tools and others with information. When we understand where our true potential lies, we begin to access our calling. If you’re not sure about your talents, there are excellent resources available that can help you identify them. E-mail me if you would like to receive a list of my recommendations.

2. Your passion. Once you discover your potential (most of us have natural ability in several areas) the next step is to identify one specific field that you feel passionate about. This is where you get to love what you do.

3. Dedication. When you have identified your potential and passion, the last piece is to resolve to work hard and be the best that you can be. Because you’re tapping into your true potential, you will most likely excel at what you do. And because you love it, chances are you won’t mind the hard work.

Not everyone gets to do what he or she loves. Most people get stuck in a rut and live in what Henry David Thoreau calls “quiet desperation.” You can beat the odds, if you choose to follow your bliss.

© 2008 by Preston C. Ni. All rights reserved.


Overcome the Top Fear in America: Reduce Public Speaking Nervousness

“There are two types of speakers. Those who get nervous and those who are liars.” - Mark Twain

Public speaking is the number one fear in America, according to the Wall Street Journal; death is number two.

But fear of public speaking is also a fear of death-an emotional death. We feel naked and exposed in front of an audience. We think people are going to scrutinize everything we say and do. We dread confronting the possibility of rejection.

Here are three tips for reducing speaking nervousness:

  • Don’t expect perfection from yourself. None of us are perfect, yet when it comes to public speaking, some of us tend to kick ourselves over every little perceived mistake we make. We magnify our imperfections while ignoring all that’s good and well.

The truth is, even the best, most experienced speakers make many mistakes. When they do, they recover, continue gracefully and all is well. This is one of the keys to public speaking success: to continue gracefully. The audience will never know most of your mistakes, unless you halt your speech, break down and confess them. Carry on with poise. Give yourself permission not to be perfect.

  • Avoid equating public speaking to your self-worth. If you’re reading this article, you’re probably a successful professional who has worked hard to get to where you are today. Public speaking is only a small part of your overall professional ability. If you’re not confident at it, there are many ways to help you improve. I’ve seen otherwise intelligent and capable professionals shrivel up on stage, as if suddenly nothing about them is right. Whether you’re good at public speaking has nothing to do with your worth as a person. It’s simply a skill that you can learn and become better at with practice.
  • Avoid being nervous about your nervousness. Singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen, legendary for his live concert performances, once observed that if he felt completely relaxed before a show, he wouldn’t perform as well as if he had felt nervous. Springsteen knows how to channel his nervousness into excitement and power on stage.

Speakers who lack confidence often feel nervous, and then on top of that feel anxious about the fact that they’re nervous, which compounds the anxiety. That’s a lot of stress to bear.

Nervousness is our adrenaline flowing, that’s all. It’s a form of energy. Successful speakers know how to make this energy work for them and turn nervousness into enthusiasm, engagement and charisma. They have fun with it. It’s okay to be nervous. Make the energy work for you.

I will discuss tips for increasing public speaking confidence in a future column.

© 2008 by Preston C. Ni. All rights reserved.


How’s Your Money Doing?

The lesson from Warren Buffet

“Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful.” – Warren Buffet

If you’re in the stock market and are like most investors, you’ve taken hit over the past few months. But this is not the time to despair. Remember the old Chinese adage: In every crisis there’s an opportunity.

Financial guru Warren Buffet, one of America’ most respected investors, wrote in an Oct. 17 column in the New York Times that, although he did not know how the market would perform in the short term, “what is likely, however, is that the market will move higher, perhaps substantially higher, well before either sentiment or the economy turns up. So if you wait for the robins, spring will be over.”

How can you weather these economically difficult times and prepare for better days? Here are a few ideas:

1. Consult your professional tax preparer and consider selling part of your taxable stock or mutual fund portfolio at a loss at the end of the year to reduce your taxes for next year.

2. Invest (or reinvest) only discretionary money. Never invest any money intended for living expenses, education, a major payment or your financial safety net. Don’t invest money you can’t afford to lose.

3. The older you are, the more important it is to make investment decisions with a lower-risk threshold.

4. Avoid investing more than three percent of your total stock and mutual fund portfolio in any individual company.

5. Consider investing in low management fee, no load index mutual funds.

6. Take the long-term approach to investing. Historically, the stock market has gone up over time. Periods of downturn may present good opportunities.

7. Consider the dollar cost averaging approach. Divide your investment pot into equal increments of ten to 24 (depending on the amount and your risk tolerance), and invest one increment per month. When the market is down, you’re also investing to lower the average cost per share of your stocks and mutual funds, so your investment may begin to show a profit sooner when the market recovers.

One of the most important keys to investing is learning to control greed and fear. If you can’t stomach the daily volatility of the stock market, you’re at a psychological disadvantage and this type of investment may not be right for you.

No one knows for sure how the market is going to perform. However, with a methodical, disciplined approach, especially when fear pervades, one can increase the possibility of long-term financial success.

Note: This article is intended to provide general, educational information only. It is neither intended nor does it serve as investment advice.

© 2008 by Preston C. Ni. All rights reserved.


Manage Your Time Successfully

Get more done with less time and enjoy your life

“I get paid not by how many hours I work, but by the importance of the problems I solve.” - Unknown

Happy New Year! In the next twelve months, how would you like to spend your time so that one year from now, you can look back and feel satisfied and accomplished?

The following are some tips I offer in my leadership seminars:

1. Do not confuse busyness with productivity. Highly productive people are often less busy then those who are overworked and overwhelmed.

2. Do not confuse the urgent with the important. Last-minute distractions from yourself and especially others are not necessarily priorities.

3. The key to time management is self-management.

4. Remember the 80/20 rule of time management, which tells us that eighty percent of the importance of what we do in any given day lies in only twenty percent of the activities. Therefore, if you focus on accomplishing the top twenty percent of the most important tasks, you will feel more productive and satisfied at the end of the day.

5. Use a good day planner. The best ones give you at least one full page (or screen) per day, with space allocated for each working hour of the day.

6. Separate obligatory time from discretionary time. In your day planner, block out all the times when you’re committed to others to be at a certain place at a certain time, such as meetings, conferences and other appointments. What’s not your obligatory time is your discretionary time. This is the time you can manage.

7. List: At the beginning of each day, write down a bullet-point list of everything you would like to accomplish that day.

8. Prioritize: Next to each bullet-point item, assign an “A” if this is a “must do” item for today, a “B” for “should do” and a “C” for “could do.”

9. Implement: Focus on accomplishing your “A” list with your discretionary time. Check off each item as they’re complete. With this system, even if you only accomplish twenty percent of your entire list for the day, you still would have accomplished eighty percent of the most important work.

10. What you don’t finish today, transfer to your list for tomorrow and reprioritize.

In conclusion, when we manage our time wisely, we can be at our productive best, so we can enjoy life more and rest!

© 2009 by Preston C. Ni. All rights reserved.


Six Strategies to Secure Your Job

Survival Skills in an Economic Downturn

“In every crisis there’s an opportunity.” – Chinese saying

In the past few months I’ve been speaking with many clients on how they’re enhancing the survivability of their jobs in the midst of this severe economic downturn. The following are six job protection strategies coupled with real life examples:

1.    Take on long term, strategic endeavors.

An administrative professional took courses in negotiation and mediation, and became part of the negotiation team representing human resource interests of all administrative staff in the organization. His unique, strategic position meant that he was an unlikely candidate for layoff.

2.    Participate in revenue generating tasks.

For the past few years the operations director of an organization increased the scope of her responsibility from building security and maintenance to marketing and renting out the facility for conferences and special events. Her revenue generating capacity, plus the personal relationship she established with many regular clients, made her position more secure.

3.    Oversee projects that make you indispensible.

When the assistant manager of a large, non-profit organization was offered the task of upgrading the computer network for the entire firm, he took it on with gusto. Not only was he eager to bring new technology into the organization, he was also well aware of the fact that, as the only employee who knows how to make the computer network run without a hitch, the task made his position in the firm indispensible.

4.    Incorporate multiple positions and responsibilities to reduce employer cost.

When a data processing firm implemented a hiring freeze with possible layoffs on the horizon, an office manager took on an additional position left vacant by the freeze.  By clearly demonstrating to her employer that she’s boosting productivity while saving the company money, she increased her value and the likelihood that she’ll be protected from layoffs.

5.    Acquire specializations that make you indispensible.

A high tech professional working for a global media outlet took an advanced certification course which qualified him as one of only two hundred and fifty people in the U.S. with that skill set. This specialization, plus his ability to effectively communicate with clients and managers, helped him keep his job through merger and consolidation.

6.    Develop cross-occupational niche.

Example #1: A manufacturing worker saw the writing on the wall that his plant was going to shut down and all the jobs outsourced to Mexico. With great foresight, he took Spanish classes to enhance his qualifications. When layoffs came, he not only survived, but received a promotion to manage from the U.S. the team in Mexico.

Example #2: Many realtors, in the absence of large number of home sales, are taking courses to branch into areas such as foreclosures and property management.

© 2009 by Preston C. Ni. All rights reserved.


Communication Success with Four Personalities

Resource Guide Helps Understanding of Self and Others

Know yourself, know others; one hundred battles, one hundred victories.” – Ancient Chinese saying

What is human behavior? In what ways are we similar and different? How can we successfully communicate with one-another?

My recently written reference guide “Communication Success with Four Personality Types” is an interpretation of some of the most popular personality tests used by many organizations in hiring, professional development, and performance evaluation. The purpose of the reference guide is to present an overview of four major personality types, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and provide information on how to communicate more effectively with each trait.

The four personality types are: Relater-Supporter, Initiator-Cheerleader, Analyzer-Investigator, and Driver-Leader. Most of us have a dominant personality type, with one or two secondary types. These traits can change and evolve over time.

It’s generally not too difficult to identity the primary personality type of an individual, based on her or his persona, communication style, and to some extent profession.

Here are some of the most dominant traits of each type:

Relater-Supporters tend to be “nice”, supportive, nurturing, and friendly.

Initiator-Cheerleaders tend to be energetic, motivating, persuasive, and fun.

Analyzer-Investigators tend to be detail oriented, task driven, analytical, and matter of fact.

Driver-Leaders tend to be powerful, achievement conscious, control oriented, and productive.

While the dominant personality type of most individuals tends to be fairly easy to observe, the secondary personality type (or types) tends to take some knowing of a person to deduce. Most people have one dominant, one or two secondary, and one weakest type. The resource guide describes each personality in detail, and recommends strategies to communicate successfully with each type as family, friends, co-workers, and customers.

To download a free excerpt of “Communication Success with Four Personality Types”, visit my website at www.nipreston.com/publications. I will also be giving a talk on this topic sponsored by the Asian Business Council on May 20, 2009 from 6-7:30pm in San Leandro. For more details, visit www.nipreston.com/workshops.

To check out previous Leadership Success Series on AsianWeek.com, click here.


Preston Ni is a professor of communication studies, Fortune 500 trainer, executive coach, and organizational change consultant. His column appears the first Monday of every month. Write to Preston at commsuccess@nipreston.com, and access free resources at www.nipreston.com. © 2009 by Preston C. Ni. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Preston Ni is a professor of communication studies, Fortune 500 trainer, executive coach, and organizational change consultant. Write to Preston at commsuccess@nipreston.com, and access free resources at www.nipreston.com.