How I Beat Anxiety Every Single Day

My dad was dying of cancer. I had a year to prepare for the inevitable, but when he passed away, it still hit me like a ton of bricks. I was an only child and very close to my father my entire life.

I began waking up in the middle of the night with my heart racing and my thoughts drifting to dark places. What the heck was going on? This had never happened to me before! 

I was losing sleep. My relationships were affected. One of my top clients fired me after I showed up completely unprepared for a meeting.

I was simply going through the motions in life just trying just to get by minute to minute. My ego got in the way of my seeking help. I began to think I was going nuts.

Weeks went by and then a few months of living like this. I finally realized I needed help when I had a panic attack while playing tennis with my buddies at the club. Tennis is a lifelong passion of mine, but that day all I wanted to do was get out of there. I didn't know where I wanted to go, but I had to leave. So, I told my buddies that I was feeling nauseous. It wasn't a complete lie.

I knew then that I needed help. My life was crumbling, and I couldn't put the pieces back together by myself. I checked my ego and sought help. Ever since my dad died eight years ago, anxiety has been something I've had to battle every day. 

The first thing to realize when you get anxiety or depression is that you're not alone. There are 40 million Americans who have some form of anxiety disorder. I didn't realize this, and I was beginning to label myself as a freak, lunatic, or worse. 

To beat anxiety, you need a plan. While I'm not an expert, I can share what's worked for me to win against stress and not let it consume me.

1) Daily exercise is a must.

Exercise is a critical step towards being a healthy person. So naturally, it works wonders towards beating anxiety. 

One of the things for me is that when a panic attack hits, my thoughts go down a negative spiral that is tough to reverse. I find that exercise forces my body to have a different thought pattern. In other words, sitting around with my thoughts makes my anxiety much worse. I need to get out and get my body moving to release the excess tension that anxiety brings on, and that would work for you, too.

When I don't exercise regularly, I find that my anxiety becomes more challenging to control.

2) Seek help from your doctor.

If you have anxiety problems, working with a trained medical professional is a must. 

They can help you develop a customized plan for overcoming anxiety. The medications I've been prescribed by my doctors have helped me tremendously. I went months without seeking help and trying to beat it on my own without medication. I thought antidepressants were only for crazy people. Don't be judgmental of yourself and others like I was. 

Check your ego and go to the doctor.  

3) See a professional counselor.

Your doctor will be able to recommend a counselor for you to see. I eventually saw a professional grief counselor after my dad passed away. It helped me to understand my feelings, and how I can better deal with them.

Counselors can help you deal with the root cause of your anxiety, and overcome what's causing you to feel the way you are.

4) Develop a support group.

To win against anxiety, you need a support group of friends and family you can talk to about it. Never keep it inside, as I did! 

Seek out people who are understanding and non-judgmental. Maybe you have a friend or relative who's been through it, too?

Consider joining a few anxiety-support groups on Facebook. They are full of people who are fighting every day to beat anxiety and will. Yes they are strangers, but you will be surprised at how helpful talking with other people who have gone through what you're dealing with can help you. 

Always remember: You're not alone! Anxiety wants us to feel that way. Don't let it!

3 Questions to Ask Yourself to Tap Into Your Joy

If we did all the things we are really capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves. - Thomas Edison

Why do some people seem to possess such inner joy and success while others flounder around and are always disappointed? Many people have goals, but only a handful of them achieve those goals. Fewer people yet strive for the dreams that lie within their reach. However, this need not be the case. The joy every person desires is within reach. Successful people constantly ask themselves these three questions to keep focused on their goals and happiness. 

What lens are we looking through?

The truth is the lens by which we see the world, and ourselves makes all the difference in how much joy we experience. This lens shapes how we view the world. How do we view the goals we have or the obstacles that challenge us? Do we tend to look at everything that comes our way with the lens of rigidity? What if we were to change that lens to one that allowed more flexibility? Does our lens color everything in black and white when many things are gray? Change that lens to see situations from another perspective. It takes practice, but it enhances joy. What if we change the lens and look at difficulties as opportunities to climb higher. Sometimes we just need to change the same old way we have been thinking.

Do we recognize the power that is ours?

If you see the things in the world you want to achieve as too difficult to conquer; then they do become too difficult to overcome.  It's as simple as that. Why not, instead, recognize the tremendous strength we have in our own will. We have the power of choice through our will. We can choose to shrink from difficulties and cower under them or rise to face them with strength and courage. You may be wondering, what if I fail? I ask, who defines failure though? You can choose to make it a failing moment or an enlightening moment. One choice steals your joy; the other increases it. Systematically choosing happiness and refusing defeat are powerful choices we have in our hands.

Are we using our resources to achieve our goals?

There are plenty of resources to encourage our joy and help us achieve our desired goals. However, we must take advantage of these resources. Seize upon them and use them to our advantage. Resources can be anything from a friend to a great book. You can tap into the resources of online courses, seminars, conferences, and dynamic speakers. You may even find inspiration in a few whispered words from a loved one or the petals of a flower blooming in the spring. There is no limit or rule about where you may find resources to inspire your joy and lead you to greater success. Use whatever resources you have to put you one step closer to your goals. Be a constant learner and seek knowledge that will help you accomplish your goals. Make it a point to find a mentor or a coach that help you be the best you. Even the best athletes in the world have coaches that help them stay on top of their game.  

Once you look through the lens of possibility, recognize the power of your own choice and will, then use the resources available, you can and will achieve your goals.

What are you doing today to reach your goals? 

The 1 Most Important Truth I Wish I’d Known as a First-Time Fundraiser

Over the past five years, I've raised over $30 million in venture capital for my company. Along the way, I've met with over a hundred institutional investors from across the world, and after countless emails, phone calls, pitch meetings, and term sheet discussions, I've learned one important truth about investment capital:

Money is just a commodity.

The principal feature of a commodity is that it's uniform across the market. Soybeans are soybeans, corn is corn; these raw goods are bought or sold in a marketplace and their price is determined by supply and demand.

And money is money. A million dollars is a million dollars whether it's from an angel group, a venture investor or your friend's wealthy uncle. And while the source of the money will certainly come with important intangibles, the underlying commodity--the cash--is the same no matter who's giving it to you. The quality of the investor matters, but the cash spends the same.

When I was raising our first round--primarily from friends and family--I was fixated on the dollar amount itself. I knew the level of investment that it was going to take to hit our next milestone, and I was bound and determined to find it.

Because I was only focusing on the dollars, I failed to grasp a critical element of successful fundraising. Since money is a commodity, it trades in a marketplace like a commodity.

Here's what that means.

Money isn't in demand--you are.

Supply and demand combine to determine the price of money that you'll need to pay in order to secure it, just as when drought puts a damper on this year's soybean crop, the price of soybeans goes up.

Many first-time founders mistakenly believe that it's the money itself that's the scarce resource, and therefore the supply side of the equation is set by companies competing for these "scarce dollars."  As a result, during my first funding round I felt pressure to accept term sheets that offered lowball valuations, overly burdensome structures or decidedly "founder-unfriendly" terms.  

All that mattered to me was securing the money we needed to stay alive, and if it wasn't for one of my co-founders--himself an experienced hand in fundraising--stepping in to stop me from taking a bad deal, our company would likely be in a very different position today. 

The reality is that we live in a world where growth capital isn't a scarce commodity. There's more investable cash looking for deals than there are quality companies who are worthy of that investment; this is the true imbalance, and this supply-demand imbalance means that an entrepreneur with a solid business is in the driver's seat.  

Knowing that money is a commodity, and knowing that your investable business is what's in high demand, you can approach the situation accordingly. Run the fundraising process the right way, and you'll have the ability to be selective with your investors, drive better terms, and secure a higher valuation for your deal. 

Your job as CEO is to increase the demand for participation in your investment round, creating market conditions that are favorable. And while your company does need the money you're trying to raise, approaching the marketplace for money with confidence will ensure you won't end up on the short end of the deal.

The money isn't the supply-side of this equation.You are.

What the Massive Fanfare Around ‘Black Panther’ Signals About a Major Shift in Marketing

Over the past year, I've seen friends and others in my network lose their minds in anticipation of the premiere of Black Panther this weekend. I've seen their posts, the memes they've shared, watched them gush over the outfits the all-star cast wore to the premiere and even giggled as they talked about how they would dress up for the opening day showing we pre-ordered tickets for.

Confession: I know nothing about the storyline of Black Panther. In spite of it, I'll dress up to attend the showing with friends here in Buenos Aires, because I recognize the significance of such a movie.

I've never seen a super-hero that looks like me on the big screen. I remember how powerful I felt as a woman after watching Wonder Woman, and I know the feeling will only be magnified after seeing the predominately Black cast in Marvel's portrayal of this superhero and his entourage.

How businesses benefit from serving historically unrepresented communities.

Representation matters, in particular to minority communities. And since the U.S. is on a trajectory to soon become a minority-majority nation, your customer base will only grow more diverse.

But even though diversity, inclusion, and doing a better job of highlighting positive images of traditionally underserved communities is the right thing to do, it also makes sound business sense.

According to reports by NRG, Hollywood's leading tracking service, Black Panther is on track to have a monster debut in the U.S., with projections of opening weekend sales upwards of $165 million. If those numbers are achieved, it would be the biggest February movie launch of all time.

Last year, worldwide sales of Wonder Woman topped $821 million, making it the highest-grossing superhero origin film of all time.

Film industry expert Scott Mendelson likened the success of these two movies to "giving a starving demographic a prime filet."

And the companies who decide to serve these often neglected customer groups have been receiving big paydays as a result.

Rihanna launched her Fenty Beauty cosmetics line last fall, with forty shades of foundation to accomadate women with different complexions around the world. Their strategy of being inclusive of as many women as possible paid off, with the brand earning $72 million in its first month alone.

The days of growing by only marketing to the masses are numbered. If you want to stay relevant, and reach hungry and increasingly powerful minority customer groups, the time to start serving them is now. Here are three ways to get started.

1. Build a culture committed to serving them beyond a superficial level.

Serving groups of customers whose backgrounds are different from you isn't about swapping out photos, or putting a few token people in key positions within your company.

It will require deep commitment to learn about the unique and nuanced needs of each minority group. Without the willingness to do the work to understand how to effectively connect with these communities, you end up with missteps like H&M, Pepsi, Dove had recently. No bueno.

Your organization will need to develop skills in being empathetic and culturally intelligent, so you will be well positioned to deliver products and services that solve your customers problem like none other.

2. Build a team that reflects the people you want to serve.

They will help you significantly reduce the learning curve as you work to figure out how to connect with diverse audiences in an authentic way.

You could bring on new hires, engage consultants, or agencies with experience serving your new customers. 

Besides, a high-performing team is a diverse team. When you assemble a group of people with different backgrounds, ideas, and ways of viewing the world, and you tap into the strengths their diversity brings, you position yourself to produce a higher quality output.

3. Deliver products, services, and experiences that solve an unmet need.

Black Panther, Wonder Woman, and Fenty Beauty didn't earn the respect and loyalty of their customers just because they showed up. They are reaping the benefits of their target customers because they delivered products that demonstrated they understood their unique challenges.

Nubian Skin is a fashion company that specializes in providing nude lingerie to women of color. Founder Ade Hassan started the company after being frustrated that she couldn't find nude hosiery that matched her skin tone. Since launching few years ago, the brand's products have been worn by Beyonce and her dancers on tour, as well as by the cast of the blockbuster film Hidden Figures.

There may be times where the unmet need will become obvious as you start to learn more about your customers. And other times, you'll have to dig deeper to uncover the insights.

But the more you work to find ways to add value and serve these worthy customers, in time you will discover solutions that are a win for all.

Want to Grow Faster? Borrow This Tech Company’s Playbook

The growth of a small or midsize business (SMB) often depends on the success of its customer engagement strategy.

A recent study Vistage conducted in partnership with Salesforce, confirmed this to be true. In our study, more than 1,000 SMB CEOs shared insights about their approach to customer engagement--specifically their marketing, sales and customer service initiatives.

Our analysis found that high-growth SMBs are different from no-growth SMBs in three key ways: They are involved in more customer engagement initiatives; they are better at executing those initiatives; and they have dedicated leadership to drive those initiatives.

Last fall, I shared this research as part of moderating a panel on Customer Engagement at Dreamforce. One of the panelists featured was Summer Crenshaw, co-founder and COO of tilr, who provided an interesting perspective on how her fast-growing company approaches marketing, sales and customer service.

Below are the most successful initiatives tilr uses in marketing, sales and customer service; consider how you might apply these strategies to your approach to customer engagement strategy.

Case study: tilr

About the company: tilr, a technology company headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, provides a hiring solution -- via a mobile application -- that automates the recruitment process. Its algorithm-powered technology matches qualified, pre-vetted workers with companies that need them. By emphasizing skills over job titles, tilr makes it easier for companies to access qualified candidates and helps workers find new job opportunities.

Winning marketing initiative: To better support and engage nonprofit organizations -- one of tilr's key stakeholders -- tilr develops initiatives that mutually benefit both parties. For example, it teaches digital literacy to nonprofits and partners with education organizations to provide tilr members with other training and development opportunities. Ultimately, this has a positive impact on those served by the nonprofits.

"Tapping into who has a passion for what we have a passion for has allowed us to exponentially grow," explains Crenshaw. "Of course, we enhance this with great digital technology and putting people into [Salesforce] Marketing Cloud and going through journey mapping. But at first, you really need to think about filling that top of the funnel."

Winning sales initiative: Along with developing an omnichannel presence, tilr has invested in automation tools to make its sales people more efficient. Some of these tools provide insights on prospective customers who have, for example, spent a lot of time on tilr's website, requested information about the company or mentioned tilr on social media. This makes it easier for tilr's sales team to know who to target and when to actually pick up the phone."

We aren't using this technology to replace our sales people; we're using it to enable them," says Crenshaw. "I think that's very key in growing and scaling an SMB organization. You have to put in tools that will help your people to do a better job when they're trying to find the best buyers for your products."

Winning customer service initiative: To deliver exceptional customer service, tilr starts by conducting "empathy mapping"--an exercise aimed at understanding customers' needs on a granular level and developing a 360-degree view of their daily work habits and preferences.

Armed with these insights, the company matches its communication models and platforms to individual customers. For example, it ensures that communication with a customer happens in precisely the way they want it to (e.g., via text, email, or phone), even if that creates complications for tilr itself. "It shouldn't be about us and how we want to talk to our customers; it should be about giving our customer what they need," says Crenshaw. "If we know that this type of individual likes to be communicated with using a certain methodology, we will empower our customer success team to be able to do that."

Our research shows that focused customer engagement strategies drive growth; this case study highlights one company's approach. What will your approach be?

Stressful Day? Pick One of These 5-Minute Habits to Feel Remarkably Better

How can I relax after work? originally appeared on Quorathe place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by James Porter, Author of the book STOP STRESS THIS MINUTE and President of StressStop.com, on Quora:

Stress experts often talk about "setting boundaries" between work and home. But in this day and age of mobile phones and other devices that connect us back to work 24/7/365, how is that even possible? Finding time to reduce your stress right when you get home can help you set these boundaries in a very practical way.

Start small. All the suggestions below can be done in five minutes or less. Eventually you can build this time to ten or fifteen minutes, or even more. But for now, just give yourself a short amount of time so that you can get in the habit of doing this daily. Constantly remind yourself that you will be a better person, parent or friend for taking this time for yourself every day.

  1. Go for a mindful walk. Mindfulness involves simply tuning into the present moment. When your mind naturally starts to review your work-day or settles on some problem, don't let it. Focus instead on the breeze or the trees or the sounds you are hearing on your walk.
  2. Deep breathing. Find a comfortable place to sit. Place one hand over your belly. Notice your hand rising on the in-breath and falling on the out-breath. Try to make the out-breaths longer than the in-breaths. Keep this up for a couple of minutes.
  3. Progressive muscle relaxation. By deliberately tensing your muscles first, they will relax more fully afterwards. So start with the muscles in the forehead and scalp, first taking a deep breath in, then tensing all the muscles in that area to a count of five - and then releasing that tension -and moving on down to the next area. Pay particular attention to the classic stress points like your forehead, neck, shoulders and jaw.
  4. Body scan. Mentally travel throughout your whole body, from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. If you notice signs of tension in any area, just let it relax. Try to imagine your breath going right to the spot that feels tense and let it relax those muscles like a cool breeze.
  5. Meditation. Mindfulness meditation simply asks that you focus on anything that helps bring you into the present moment. Sitting by a brook and really listening to the sounds of the running water will do this. Sitting in a chair and noticing your every in-breath and every out-breath will do this also. No matter what present-moment awareness technique you choose, when your mind wanders, as it often will, simply bring it back to your point of focus. (Helpful hint: The minute you notice that your mind has wandered: you are back in the present moment.)

My favorite practice of all is to do each step in order from two to five allowing two minutes for each step. When you do this in succession, you will feel like a whole new person in almost no time. Remember, if a friend or loved one came to you with a problem, you'd give up five or ten minutes of your time in heartbeat. So why can't we do for ourselves, what we can readily do for others? The fact is that you can! You just have to get in the habit of doing it.

This question originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on TwitterFacebook, and Google+. More questions:

‘Think Outside the Box’ Is Bad Advice. Here’s What to Do Instead

How do you think outside the "think outside the box" box? originally appeared on Quorathe place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by William Alan Donius, Author, Thought Revolution-Ideation + Innovation Facilitator, on Quora:

Most business people operate inside the proverbial "box" most of the time. As we age, our brains become increasingly more ingrained into familiar patterns and routines. We get comfortable in this place. I've noticed this pattern over my own thirty-year business career across five different industries.

In strategic planning sessions we're often admonished to somehow "think outside the box."

This jargon tends to ring a bit hollow, as typically no specific formula for how to accomplish this feat is suggested. (Or perhaps I missed that session.)

Neuroscientific research indicates that it becomes increasingly difficult to break out of our existing mindsets. Fortunately, however, it is still possible to train our brains to think differently without either dropping acid or traveling to India. (If you've read Steve Jobs' biography, you'll understand.)

Over a dozen years ago, while chairman and CEO of a community bank, I discovered and applied some unconventional thinking processes. I had always been a fan of Benjamin Franklin's Moral Algebra process, more commonly known as the "pro and con" ledger.

Learning to tap into the more creative right hemisphere of my brain, however, produced an entirely different type of insight, enabling me to think in a unique manner about both the problems and opportunities facing the bank. Blending the left and right brain approaches truly allowed me to think differently and it paid off handsomely in a dramatic increase in the company's size and earnings per share.

After stepping down at age 50 from the job of a bank CEO, I had the time to pursue my primary interest: learning more about innovation, intuition and what makes people successful. Ultimately I discovered answers in the fields of both neuroscience and psychology. My research included reading primary scientific sources, holding discussions with many esteemed scientists and conducting over 200 interviews with test subjects. The results are contained in a book published this past spring.

One of the fascinating payoffs of my research was discovering the underlying reason why it is more difficult for us to "think outside the box." Our patterns and routines acquired over the course of decades have virtually confined our thinking to the box, or more precisely, to a more left-hemisphere dominant style of analyzing and processing information.

My research led me to the work of Dr. Roger Sperry, who was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1981 for his discovery that each hemisphere of the brain is independent, with a separate set of attributive functions. His findings help explain the logical, linear world in which most of us live. The right side of the body is controlled by the left hemisphere of the brain, resulting in the analytical, mathematical, logical, linear thinking of most of the 90 percent of Americans who are right-handed. Conversely, the left side, controlled by the right hemisphere of the brain, is now commonly known as the source of artistry, music, intuition, innovation and problem-solving skills. My three years of research, including 200 interviews, turned into a manifesto of sorts on the "how to" of thinking outside the box. (Thought Revolution, updated version released by Simon & Schuster in 2014).

On a general and broader note, I believe it is appropriate to consider revolutionizing our thinking about meetings, problem solving and strategy within our organizations, armed with the results of my research. There is a great deal of value in disrupting conventional thought processes, breaking through complacency as a means to thinking differently about the company.

There are many ways to do this. Ask different constituencies and create new questions and/or approaches. Conduct a different type of meeting to break through the "group think" that can result from working on initially vocalized ideas, especially if those ideas come from higher-level executives or respected contributors. Ask participants to write answers first to all the questions. Unexpected ones such as "What would we do differently if we were starting the company from scratch?" can stir things up.

If we want to take another leap, we can take the time-tested steps of changing the venue, adding music and inviting different and fresh perspectives. More importantly, if we want to be on the cutting edge of innovation, we can find ways of tapping into the right brain of the participants.

Why not apply what's been learned in the combined fields of neuroscience and psychology over the past 50 years? We can obtain the same insights in Sperry's initial work to help us to become more innovative and thoughtful at work.

In many industries today, it is difficult to differentiate one company's products and services from another, it's useful to find ways to break through the status quo and what may be decades-old approaches to problem solving and strategizing. My experience has been that most strategic thinking and problem solving sessions consist largely of planning, with far too little time devoted to thinking and innovation.

Organizations I've worked with have been able to tap into the collective right brains of the participants resulting in insights leading to different strategies, solutions and importantly, dramatic improvements in the bottom line. It's time that executives get "beyond the box."

This question originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on TwitterFacebook, and Google+. More questions: