Secrets of the Young & Successful

Today, a successful life is about defining and achieving what YOU want and what makes YOU happy. All around the world, young people are striving for more and making extraordinary things happen-in business, the arts, entertainment, sports, education, public service, politics, medicine and law. They do what many only dream about. They create a stir, make the world sit up and take notice, and spend their days doing the very things they love. They are who we call The Young & Successful.

But what do they know that we don't? What separates those who have it all from the millions who hate their jobs or just sit on that big dream? How do you get everything you want without waiting a lifetime? It's simple and it's never too late. Ambition is the price of admission; taking control of your life is what it's all about. Then again, there are also a few secrets...

Secret No. 1: Know What Success Means to You

Meet Jane Rinzler-Buckingham. She's gorgeous, brilliant, one of the most respected people in her field, has an incredible husband, two happy kids and a killer pad in Beverly Hills. How'd she get it all? Early on, Jane took control and ownership of her life and carefully began sculpting her path to success. She had a vision of what might be possible and an intuitive sense of what success would mean for her. As a result, she created the life of her dreams.

Jane wrote her first book at 12, called Teens Speak Out, but it was through the company she'd build in her 20's - Youth Intelligence - that she'd truly find her voice. As the leading youth trends research firm, hers is the one NBC, Nike, Target, American Express and MTV turn to for the latest insight. She even has her own show on the Style Network called "The Modern Girl's Guide to Life" and two more books with the same name. And talk about fame? Jane is a regular contributor on Good Morning America, a contributing editor at Cosmopolitan, a columnist for the New York Times Syndicate and publisher of Trendcentral, the industry's daily newsletter-turned-Magna Carta of all things cool and hip.

Secret No. 2: Spin Challenges to Your Greatest Advantage

Doug Ulman didn't just face cancer once - he beat it three times. Then he turned his attention outward and found a way to help others who had been afflicted early in life, as he had. The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults is the nonprofit he created to support other young adults whose lives have been turned inside out by the disease. The organization provides support programs, education and resources free of charge to young people, and their families and friends who are affected by cancer. From his own life threatening challenges, Doug found his greatest strength and passion in helping others survive.

Today, Doug has joined Lance Armstrong, one of the most famous cancer survivors, as the director of survivorship for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. It's natural to want to give up or hide in bed for days when something goes very wrong, but ignoring problems never makes them go away. All to often we estimate the power of spirit. During life's most trying challenging times, it's up to us to decide whether we chose to play the part of victim, or switch into survivor mode and tackle our challenges head on. That's the true spirit of the Young & Successful. And wouldn't you know it, sometimes the greatest challenges can open the door to our biggest opportunities to make a difference in the world.

Secret No. 3: Celebrate What Makes You Different

While millions of people struggle to achieve the perfect physique, one woman is trying to change the way physical beauty is defined. Forget "rich and thin," actress/comedienne Mo'Nique prefers "Fabulous and Thick" or F.A.T. In 2006, she launched television's first full-figured reality beauty contest called "Mo'Nique's F.A.T. Chance, celebrating plus-sized women while encouraging them to love themselves AND their beautiful curves. Celebrating what makes her different is what makes her so widely loved by millions.

Mo'Nique has become a role model for voluptuous women everywhere, proving that you don't have to be a size 0 to be sexy and fabulous. And she doesn't make any bones about her feelings regarding her lighter counterparts-her first book was called Skinny Girls Are Evil and her second, Skinny Cooks Can't Be Trusted. She's now working on her own clothing line for full-figured women. There's always a lot of pressure in society to be like everyone else. Especially when we're young and impressionable. Keeping up with Jones (or the Hiltons or the Pitts) can be exhausting, not to mention totally counterproductive. To make it in this world, you've got to know who you are, use what you've got and celebrate what makes you different. After all, that's what makes you truly special.

Secret No. 4: Gain VIP Access the World of Power and Influence

The House on the Hill is an analogy for how the world of power and influence works. Just imagine a huge mansion at the top of a big hill with a gate around the base. In this world, there are owners, workers, part-timers, visitors and the public. Everyone has their role, but no one is ever stuck, by any means-if, of course, they know a few secrets.

Why should you care? If you think of this elitist world as the place where decisions affecting us all are made, it can take on a different meaning for you as in individual. If you're organizing a nonprofit, this is where your funding may come from.

If you're climbing a corporate ladder, this is where the promotions, division layoffs and profit sharing plans are decided.

If you're in politics, this is where your biggest supporters and contributors may come from.

If you're looking to get attention for your work, this is where the articles are written, large events are held and where the big endorsements come from.

If life is in fact a game, this is where the high rollers play. And it's the place where you can be a player too, if you can get yourself in.

Patrick Canizares is a corporate flight attendant who flies fulltime for an extremely wealthy family and a major basketball team-that his boss also owns. Patrick is one Young & Successful guy who has The Life. See, when Patrick goes to work, he climbs aboard a $35 million private Boeing business jet (not to mention the $15 million interior work) and enters a world few will ever see, let alone practically live in. Recent excursions have included Peru, New Zealand, France, Spain, Morocco (for lunch) and even dinner in the Amazon with a bunch of Indians. Patrick says he can't believe he's actually paid to do this.

Go ahead. Ask the question, "How did this guy get here?" Well, not unlike most of the Young & Successful we meet, he started at the bottom. Patrick grew up in Mexico City and his family was fairly well off until his father's business failed. Suddenly, the family was thrown into poverty. Without speaking a word of English, they moved to Florida when Patrick was 13 and made a new life for themselves. All the while, Patrick's mother promised him that anything he wanted in life could be his.

Now, you could say, the sky's the limit for Patrick, and to him, nothing is out of reach if you want it badly enough-even getting paid to travel the world in style.

Secret No. 5: Create Your Ideal Life

Have you ever considered what the peak of your career will be? What will be the highest position you will ever seek to hold? What's the most impressive thing you'd like to accomplish? After dropping out of school and struggling to hold down three jobs to pay the bills, Marsha Bialo took her love for the gorgeous, acrylic fingernails she couldn't afford and became a licensed manicurist.

With her license in hand, she began to see opportunities all around her. She marched into the swankiest Beverly Hills hotel for a position at its salon, spent her days chatting away with major executives, wealthy socialites and celebrities, and leveraged her connections and growing reputation to become one of the hottest stylists, working with Angelina Jolie, Cindy Crawford, Andie McDowell and Tyra Banks, among others.

Today, she does nails for magazines, television and movie shoots, and is a commercial spokesperson for OPI, a top producer of nail products. Marsha's even creating her own product line, Bialo Basix.

If you're determined to get everything you want without waiting a lifetime, one of the biggest secrets to making it all possible is to always start with the ideal in mind. Focusing on what's "practical" lowers the bar, while setting it as high as you can dream shifts your ambitions into overdrive. Recognize that not everything works out exactly as planned, remain cautiously optimistic and be sure to keep your feet close enough to the ground.

Secret No. 6: Master Your Universe

To build true expertise and strategically place yourself in the prime position to succeed, knowing your industry and how it ticks can make all the difference. If you think of industries (i.e.: sports, entertainment, fashion, technology, politics, etc.) like different planets, figure out who and what makes it tick, and then get yourself right into the middle of the action.

Lee Zurick knows the importance of making a great impression on everyone every step of the way. While most college students procrastinate about finding summer internships, Lee nailed his first at 15. Determined to win over his new colleagues at the local television news station in New Orleans, he quickly became an asset to the program and only left to study broadcast journalism at Syracuse University.

Lee sought out opportunities at every turn, read every book on breaking into television news, talked to anyone in the business he could get to and even cold-called popular sports reporters he wanted to meet. Between his research, tenacity and dedication to learning the ropes and mastering his trade at an early age, Lee became a celebrated reporter in New Orleans and even made occasional appearances on ESPN.

After Hurricane Katrina, Lee's work earned him a promotion from sports to news, taking over the weekend news desk as anchor. He says he'll stay on the news side now and do his part to rebuilding New Orleans.

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