Hack the Formula for Success With Better Decision Making

Paying dues doesn't always lead to career success, according to Shane Snow's new book.

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By Brian Honigman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As an entrepreneur, you have limited time and resources. So you must make well-informed decisions that invite action and enable you to accomplish a few goals at once.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, producer J.J. Abrams and singer-songwriter Skrillex were all relatively unknown before they shortened their paths to success, by leveraging what they had to make a greater impact with their actions and re-engineering the momentum to realize long-term results.

Shane Snow's new book Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success provides the backstory to the success of these three leaders and others with the aim of helping entrepreneurs and anyone else who is trying to jump-start a career or develop new ideas for maximum impact.

Here are a few of Snow's tips on how to hack the formula for success by becoming a better decision-maker and working smarter not harder.

Related: To Solve Big Problems, Assume Everything Is Wrong and Ask Dumb Questions

1. Be willing to switch ladders.

The tradtional path to success is typically described as working hard in an area of expertise in order to rise to the next job, position or career acomplishment.

Snow argued that paying dues doesn't always lead to career success.

Rising to the top of a business or field need not depend on taking a certain linear path. Instead make a calculated decision to excel at what you're doing and explore other ways to get ahead that are quicker and more effective.

Snow described how 10 of the top 10 presidents in a C-SPAN study switched ladders by continuously parlaying their success into something more productive, not stopping if they lost an election but instead finding a different route, resulting in their eventual election to the top office.

2. Choose the right platforms

With the variety of technology options available today, companies are built and closed at a moment's notice. This has helped democratize many industries, enabling individuals of a variety backgrounds to accomplish their ideas through the use of platforms, such as Ruby on Rails, YouTube and WordPress.

Decide to experiment with a variety of platforms so that you can hone your craft, build upon existing skills and then reach your goals.

By finding the right platforms to work with regularly, you'll be able to amplify your efforts and learn new skill sets in the process, Snow said. This will bring you closer to acheiving your definition of success.

Related: Going From 'Least Likely to Succeed' and Charting a Path to Prosperity

3. Analyze the waves ahead.

Another lesson from Snow is all about making smarter decisions by observing the waves in an industry and related ones.

Snow said there's value in monitoring the waves in the marketplace, seeing where you or your organization can potentially fit in and having the foresight to actively experiment.

Google, among other companies, has granted employees time for experimentation, which Snow equated to learning to swim to better prepare for impending waves. This approach of following a wave in the marketplace doesn't always work. But with the right preparation, experimentation and careful planning, people can engineer their circumstances to be in the right place at the right time.

In my experience, those who watch for the waves are the type of people who are willing to put in the work to reach their goals. As opposed to being reactive, they create their own opportunities by being proactive.

4. Amplify the momentum.

Once you've been able to achieve success at any level, you must capitalize on this momentum for the future. Decide how about to best manufacture and harness the momentum, Snow said. This is easier said then done.

Snow referenced the overnight success of Michelle Phan and Bear Vasquez on YouTube. Vasquez became well-known as a result of his widely popular Double Rainbow video but after this initial buzz he wasn't able to continue his track to fame.

Phan, on the other hand, created many YouTube videos with beauty tutorials and then opted to release one about doing Lady Gaga's makeup for the "Bad Romance" music video, one of 2009's most popular. Once Phan's video gained traction on YouTube and was picked up by BuzzFeed, her fans viewed that video as well as more than 50 other quality videos she had produced on her channel. She continued to produce video content of that caliber and now has more than 7 million YouTube subscribers on her channel because she was prepared to amplify her intial momentum.

In my opinion, the lesson here is to start thinking about how to put into action a framework for amplifying unexpected opportunities as they arise, preventing any momentary momentum from dissipating.

What decisions are you making to have an impact on your long-term success? Share your experiences in the comments below.

Related: 4 Books to Map Your Path to Greater Success

Brian Honigman

Content Marketing Consultant & CEO of Honigman Media

Brian Honigman is a New York City-based content marketing consultant and CEO of Honigman Media, a consultancy offering both content strategy and content creation services. He is a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and other publications.

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