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Leaders: Work on Knowing Yourself. This Founder Did and It's Made All the Difference. Be deliberate and intentional.

By Linda Lacina

Ben Hider | Getty Images
Adam Braun

How Success Happens is a podcast featuring polar explorers, authors, ultramarathoners, artists and more to better understand what connects dreaming and doing. Host Linda Lacina guides these chats so anyone can understand the traits that underpin achievement and what fuels the decisions to push us forward. Listen below or click here to read more shownotes

Serial founders get good at knowing how to mobilize, when a big change is coming and how to push through. And if they're lucky, they also know themselves a lot better.

That's certainly the case with Adam Braun. With his first venture, Pencils of Promise, Braun, who was in his 20s at the time it started, was able to completely focus of his nonprofit's mission: to build schools and create educational programs for those living developing countries. He built 450 schools across the globe. He also suffered from major burnout -- a state he'd rather not reach again.

"The first time around, there were things that fell by the wayside," he says in the latest episode of How Success Happens.

Related: To Harness Creativity, You Need to First Understand Its Neural Magic.

Today, Braun is a more experienced founder with a new project: MissionU, a college alternative with no upfront tuition. He's also a husband and father of young twins. These roles have helped him clarify how he spends his time -- a realization that any founder can take to heart.

Key to his approach is a sense of deliberate thought and intention. This approach guides everything from his nighttime routine (he sleeps with his phone in another room, on airplane mode) to his morning rituals (he won't check email until he's had some human connections).

Related: This Author Shares the Simple Changes You Can Make to Work Better With Others

Braun also keeps a journal, a leather bound edition with good quality paper, where he jots down truths about his life at that moment. He says the slower process of writing with pen and paper can make him write more thoughtfully.

"It's a practice that has been incredibly helpful for me to recognize parts of my life that are going well and parts that aren't," he says.

This sort of thinking has helped shape MissionU. The college alternative, for instance, got 5,500 applications for 20 spots in its latest cycle -- and the school isn't basing its decision on grades and test scores. MissionU seeks out team players with an application that includes a group challenge where candidates who've just met create a presentation in just 30 minutes. The task is a way to find out how the candidates interact and collaborate, as MissionU's purpose is to build on a real-world foundation of skills that will help students in a real job market.

Related: Planning for a Library 100 Years in the Future: The Woman Behind This Massive Undertaking Explains How She Gets Things Done

To learn more about Braun and the principles behind MissionU, his take on being an entrepreneur and his strategies for staying focused, listen to the latest edition of How Success Happens.

To subscribe to this podcast, find us on the following platforms: SoundCloud, Stitcher, iTunes, Google Play.

Thank you to our sponsor:

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Linda Lacina

Entrepreneur Staff

Linda Lacina is the former managing editor at Her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Smart Money, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Family Circle. Email her at Follow her at @lindalacina on Twitter. 

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