11 words that shaped the careers of entrepreneur Tony Hawk and 10 other self-made millionaires

Tony Hawk's key word is

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Tony Hawk’s key word is “perseverance.”
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Courtesy of The Oracles
  • If the secret to success were one word, what would it be?
  • For Tony Hawk, it’s “perseverance.” And for Kara Goldin it’s “undaunted.”
  • For former professional hockey player James Sixsmith – now founder and CEO of Trade Context – it’s “adapt.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Have you ever wondered: If the secret to success could be boiled down to one word, what would it be? We have, so we asked Tony Hawk, Kara Goldin, and nine other self-made millionaire advisors in The Oracles. Here’s what they told us.


1. Perseverance

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Tony Hawk.
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Courtesy of The Oracles

My secret? Determination and perseverance. I kept trying and never gave up. If I started a company, I saw it through the hard times and kept at it. I risked my personal finances, time, and energy because I didn’t want to fail. The same goes for skateboarding. If I wanted to master a new trick, I kept trying until I finally got it. Sometimes it took years, but it was worth it. Stay the course. Little by little, you’ll figure it out.

– Tony Hawk, founder and CEO of Birdhouse Skateboards and president of the Tony Hawk Foundation; the most influential and commercially successful skateboarder of all time with an over $100 million net worth


2. Undaunted

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Kara Goldin.
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Courtesy of The Oracles

You can do anything if you set your mind to it. I live my life and build my businesses accordingly, turning nos into yeses and the impossible into a recipe for success. Experts told me unsweetened flavored water would never work, but I made it happen. I always do. When I hit a wall, I find a secret passageway, tunnel, or skylight, which is sometimes right in front of me. That’s part of it: curiosity and discovery. Don’t just accept what you see.

“Undaunted” is the name of my book with Harper Leadership, due to hit shelves in September 2020. Sometimes you need to hear hard stories from others to knock down your own barriers and confidently move past fear. I’m hopeful that what I’ve learned and shared will help others get “undaunted” and move forward on their journey to success.

– Kara Goldin, founder and CEO of Hint Inc.; creator of The Kara Network, a digital resource for entrepreneurs; and host of the “Unstoppable” podcast; follow Kara on Twitter and Instagram


3. Give

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Mike Peters.
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Courtesy of The Oracles

When I started in business, my competitors offered more services and better pricing. But they didn’t care like I did. I responded to customers instantly, solved their problems, and invested long hours and hard work. It took a few years, but I earned respect and life-long customers. I learned that if you give everything with zero expectations, the universe has a way of making things work in your favor. Similarly, if you care about your people and give them more than they expect, you create a passionate and committed team that will treat your customers better than any competitor could. Focus on giving value and impacting others’ lives instead of, “What’s in it for me?” Helping someone by sharing your advice, feedback, or connections isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s good for business, too.

Mike Peters, entrepreneur, philanthropist, XPRIZE Foundation board member, and founder of the Yomali group of companies, which has generated more than $1 billion in sales online; read about Mike’s rollercoaster journey


4. Perspective

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Brandon Dawson.
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Courtesy of The Oracles

I was hit by a car when I was eight years old and almost died. After that, whenever I was afraid to do something, I would remind myself, “What difference does it make? I shouldn’t even be here, so I might as well go for it.” Today, I’m grateful for all my experiences because they shaped my perspective on what’s possible. I also search for examples of what I can accomplish. By broadening your perspective, you expand your beliefs and capacity to create; and your actions follow your beliefs. This led me to ring the opening bell of the American Stock Exchange at 29 years old – something everyone said was impossible for a high-school graduate with a 2.4 GPA from small-town Oregon.

Brandon Dawson, serial entrepreneur and cofounder and CEO of Cardone Ventures; founder and CEO of Audigy; host of “The B Dawson Show” podcast; connect with Brandon on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn


5. Decide

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Katrina Ruth.
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Courtesy of The Oracles

It doesn’t matter what your strategy is or how much effort you invest in your mindset or doing the work. Ultimately, one thing dictates whether you’ll generate results: Did you decide?

You will create whatever you decide on – if you actually mean it. The mindset and work will naturally follow a confident and absolute decision. I spent years working on my business and myself. But I didn’t have my breakthrough until I stopped worrying about how I was going to do it and whether I was good enough. I just decided. If you know you’re born for more and are serious about creating it, put aside the how and trust that everything you need will follow when you lock in your decision.

-  Katrina Ruth, founder and CEO of “The Katrina Ruth Show,” a multimillion-dollar online coaching business for entrepreneurs; read Katrina’s story and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube


6. Network

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Bryan Janeczko.
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Courtesy of The Oracles

I’ve created massive value by building a powerful network of influencers, innovators, and leaders in disciplines from Silicon Valley venture capitalists to nuns. Developing relationships with people from all walks of life has unlocked limitless opportunities and solved wicked problems. In the dark days of my first startup, I felt lost and unsure what to do. I found a path forward by leveraging my network, and within a few months, I was scaling my business rather than shuttering it. A network built on virtues and reciprocity can achieve anything – from raising capital to getting a celebrity endorsement or giving back to the community. That’s how I’ve been able to drive multimillion-dollar success in my ventures; so I’m incredibly grateful to those I’ve worked with along the way.

– Bryan Janeczko, cofounder and CEO of Nunbelievable, executive advisor of Loeb.nyc, and founder of the free startup idea validation tool Gro X; named one of the most powerful LGBTQ+ people in tech by Business Insider; connect with Bryan on LinkedIn


7. Environment

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Yuri Elkaim.
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Courtesy of The Oracles

I thought I could figure out everything myself when I started my first business. For three years, that’s what I did – and I struggled. When I finally joined a mastermind to surround myself with other successful people, everything changed. Since then, I’ve continually invested in coaching and masterminds to uplevel my thinking and skills.

Your environment determines your success in every area of life. It always trumps discipline and willpower because we become a reflection of those around us. If you surround yourself with others who are more successful than you are, you will level up because of the social drive to succeed. This forces you to think and do bigger and gives you the courage to get to the next level.

Yuri Elkaim, founder and CEO of Healthpreneur, former professional athlete, and New York Times bestselling author; read how Yuri went from making $80 a week to building million-dollar businesses, and connect with him on Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube


8. Focus

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Daniel Lesniak.
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Courtesy of The Oracles

Those who don’t get the results they want almost always lack focus, or they focus on the wrong thing. My success in real estate started because I had a narrow focus on the market segment I wanted to pursue. As a result, I got over 50% market share in a luxury condo building in a competitive market. Since then, I’ve had the most success in any area of life when I hone in on the most critical leverage point and attack it.

– Daniel Lesniak, founder of Orange Line Living, broker at the Keri Shull Team, and cofounder of real estate coaching business HyperFast Agent; author of “The HyperLocal, HyperFast Real Estate Agent


9. Test

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Rudy Mawer.
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Courtesy of The Oracles

I’m a massive believer in thinking outside the box and testing, especially in marketing. My first business generated over seven figures from one product that I created as a test while working by the pool at Disneyland one day. If I hadn’t performed that test, I wouldn’t be in a position to write this today. One of the key ways we help our clients generate over $250 million a year is by trying out a lot of ideas. We test dozens of headlines, images, videos, and overall concepts for our ads, sales pages, and funnels. So create solid strategies and test a lot, especially in marketing and sales.

Rudy Mawer, founder and CEO of ROI Machines and RudyMawer.com; Facebook marketing and ad expert, who built a multimillion-dollar business by age 26; connect with Rudy on Instagram


10. Adapt

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James Sixsmith.
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Courtesy of The Oracles

Long-term success requires being nimble. As technology improves and customers evolve, some things will need to change, even after you’re successful. Many entrepreneurs are unable to adapt with the market and rules of the game, which are continually evolving. Your goals may stay the same, but what worked yesterday won’t work today. So, ask yourself: Is what I’m doing working, and could it be working better? Most of the time, the answer is yes and yes. Setbacks will happen, but if you quickly recalibrate, you can get the ship headed in the right direction again. If you aren’t moving forward and improving, you’re moving backwards. There’s no such thing as sideways. If you’re willing to adapt, you will always move onward and upward.

– James Sixsmith, founder and CEO of Trade Context, cofounder of SpeedUpTrader, and former professional hockey player who helps athletes transition out of sports into the financial markets; connect with James on Instagram and LinkedIn


11. Breathe

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Michael O’Brien.
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Courtesy of The Oracles

When they placed me on the medivac, I promised myself I would stop chasing happiness. It was July 11, 2001, and I was fighting for my life after being hit head-on by a speeding SUV during a bicycle ride. As the medical team fastened me in for the flight to the trauma center, my nurse told me: “Breathe. Focus on your breath.”

Her advice was essential to my recovery, in my climb to the executive suite, and as I continue to build my business. When I start to feel that I’m chasing happiness, stressed, or unsure what to do, I remember her words from that morning, which I call “My Last Bad Day.” Given today’s pace of life, we often forget to connect with our breath, which helps us slow down to move forward better. Whenever I do, options appear, and I’m more thoughtful about my actions. Success starts from within.

– Michael O’Brien, executive business coach, author of “Shift: Creating Better Tomorrows,” and founder of Peloton Coaching and Consulting and The Pace Line Leadership Academy; connect with Michael on Facebook and LinkedIn

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