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Photo by Jon Flobrant on Unsplash

We’re living in a fantastic season of opportunity. Millions of dedicated creators are storming the gates of success, and with the New Year upon us, big goals and ambitious resolutions abound.

Ironically, ambition has a way of becoming unwieldy, and it can undermine our best intentions if we’re not careful.

Is your ambition balanced? Are you confident that you’ll be moving in the right direction, the best course?

Keeping your ambition in-check might be the most critical ingredient to success. But that also depends on your definition of success.

If to you, success means wealth, recognition, and power, then unbridled ambition will probably be your fastest route. Just be sure that you understand what you’re seeking because if you imagine that this definition of success equals happiness, history is replete with proof to the contrary. …

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Photo by Dooma Photos

Just eight years old when he caught this bomb, “Baby” Steve Roberson is committed. What he’s learning out there goes far beyond catching perfect waves. He’s learning how to commit to productive things, and he has good parents to thank.

Now more than ever, even attentive parents with good intentions face a serious threat. Interactive media is quickly consuming the attention of the rising generation.

Digital platforms can be educational and useful. But every one of them sits very close to a myriad of digital distractions that waste time, deteriorate social skill, and become addictive. …

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American companies spend enormous amounts of money on employee training and education. We’re talking about $160 billion in the United States and over $400 billion globally to improve and transform behavior for better outcomes.

Yet, Gallup’s study, The State of the Global Workplace, reveals 85% of employees are not engaged or fulfilled at work. Also, according to Gallup’s meta-analysis, business units which scored the highest on employee engagement, showed 21 percent higher levels of profitability than those in the lowest quartile. Companies with highly engaged workforce also scored 17 percent higher on productivity.

This means that most employees are functioning well below their capacity and potential. Ironically, 87% of executives say employee training and development is their top priority. That’s missing the mark to put it gently. …

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During the 2016 IAAF World Junior Championships in Poland, Jess Thornton from Australia carried the weight of her nation as she attempted to win the 400m final leading up to the Rio Olympic Games.

Yet, in the midst of these Olympic-level stakes, just as the competitors came to the line, she took a moment to respectfully acknowledge Salwa Nasar from Bahrain. Nasar had recently made the heart-wrenching decision to leave her native Nigeria, where poverty robs young women of talent and potential, for the opportunity to break-out and flourish in Bahrain. …

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Have you ever had someone slow down and take the time to walk you through something you didn’t fully understand? Especially when the moment is stressful and important?

Maybe it was a teammate or a tutor. Maybe it was your mom or a friend. Whoever it was and whatever it was about…you felt some relief and your confidence in that thing was given a boost.

In that moment you were a student being led by a teacher. Is there anything in this world more powerful than that basic human interaction? Think about it. …

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Photo, Chris Burkard

We jump into the deep waters of entrepreneurship for all sorts of reasons.

In my case it was apparently destiny because my first business was in the 5th grade. For .25 cents each I sold “customized” pencils. Using my rainbow-pack of colored pencils I added colorful swirling designs on standard yellow pencils to generate some elementary school cash.

For some, its for the love of a product and the pursuit of wealth. For others, finally a chance to escape a monotonous, unappreciated routine. The list goes on.

Whatever the reason and the hopeful outcome, the most important reasons are unexpected and often overlooked. …

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San Onofre, CA, photo by Luke Chavez

It was my senior year with just one semester until graduation, but I was impatient and distracted by what’s next. So naturally, I left school 3 months early and moved to the Big Island of Hawaii to surf, work, and start saving money.

What I didn’t know then and I’m grateful for now, was that my impatient, ADD-driven decision would accelerate my life long education in entrepreneurship.

That was 28 years ago. In each of those years I’ve diligently, maybe even obsessively, observed how people build great organizations. …

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I set out to raise my first venture capital round in 2000. VCs told us that unless we could demonstrate a “growth path” to a billion-dollar valuation within 24 months, we weren’t fundable.

Just 28 years old, I was an inexperienced CEO surrounded by a dynamic team. Not only were we optimistic and true-believers in our technology, we were also good story-tellers.

Fueled by a billion-dollar benchmark and naïve enough to go along with it, we genuinely told the story of how we would get there.

Ours was a compelling story of a young but capable tech company that was rubbing shoulders with billion-dollar strategic partners. …

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Nearly 20 years ago, I received the best leadership advice I could have hoped for.

It’s been invaluable ever since.

We had just raised $10 million from Mission Ventures and I was a young and inexperienced CEO.

My attorney and I were preparing for my first board meeting. I had 4 demanding VCs on the board and we didn’t have any margin for error.

As we finished our preparation, she said to me, “I have one piece of advice for you as you manage this company, ‘No surprises, Jeff!’”

She went on to explain that most entrepreneurs have a natural tendency to delay the delivery of bad news. Until it’s too late. …


Jeff Chavez

Founding Partner of Authentic. a Corporate Education Firm + Husband, Dad, Reader, Surfer. Learn more at

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