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5 Strategies for Standing Out and Making Lifelong Connections Former tech executive Lonnie Mayne recommends this five-step strategy for success in business and in life.

By Randy Garn Edited by Heather Wilkerson

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Lonnie Mayne, a former technology executive, advises corporate leaders, startup founders and more on an outlook he calls "Red Shoes Living" — five strategies he's honed to help himself and others forge the kind of connections that cause them to stand out "like a pair of red shoes."

Related: Richard Branson's 8 Keys to Happiness and Success

Mayne used these principles to propel his technology firm forward, and you can, too. They may seem deceptively easy, but using them sequentially could help lead to advances in work and in life. When making any connection, Mayne recommends you use the following five steps.

1. Be aware.

In business, lift your head from reports and spreadsheets and go all-in on every conversation you have. Be conscious of those around you as human beings first and as employees, managers and colleagues second.

Related: 'Success Is Not an Entitlement; You Have to Earn It Every Day,' Howard Schultz Says

2. Practice gratitude.

Make it a practice to feel gratitude every day. Feel gratitude for your company, your team and your ability to influence and be influenced by others. This step alone will likely inspire your highest productivity as well as add to your own happiness (as well as the happiness of those you lead). Practicing gratitude for your team's efforts helps suggest you have their best interests at heart.

3. Remember everyone has a story.

Before jumping to conclusions about someone's nature or motives, remember everyone has individual reasons for thinking or behaving the way they do. Stories may vary and shift day by day. Perhaps the weary employee is caring for an elderly parent or has just experienced a frightening medical diagnosis or a situation of personal stress. Be sensitive and ready to listen, and be attuned to the motivators that are influencing each of the people you meet.

4. Show respect and kindness.

Mayne recalls a guiding principle he learned from his grandmother: Treat those who have more than you as equals and those who have less than you as kings and queens. Treat people from all walks of life with respect, avoid the dissonant "noise" gossip can bring and keep in mind that you never know where your next great idea will come from. Mayne offers an example from his own experience: He once agreed to an elderly man's request to buy him a specific breakfast from Starbucks. After he did so, he discovered that the man was a renowned author, who then offered input about the publication of Mayne's book. In this case, Mayne says he received far more than he gave.

Related: Going All-In on Your Dreams of Success

5. Think bigger.

This step is the culmination of the "Red Shoes Living" strategy, the one that could potentially turn simple kindness into a lasting friendship or partnership. Put yourself out there, and consider practicing these principles every day to learn what your current job, your career or even your new business could bring to the forefront of your life.

Randy Garn

Investor / Entrepreneur

Randy Garn is a passionate entrepreneur, speaker, and New York Times best-selling author. He has mastered the art of customer acquisition, marketing, sales and how it relates to overall lifetime customer experience for many top experts, CEOs and influencers today. 

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