Category Archives: Advice to my sons

Why Rich People Aren’t Happy

by Greg Hague

Rear view of businessman with luggage walking towards corporate“I had everything I dreamed but wasn’t as happy as when I only had dreams.”

When I was a kid, I was convinced life would be perfect when I could buy my first Porsche (a black Targa to be precise).

Burning up the road, making my friends jealous, and trying to impress girls; what more could a guy want?

Dad was in real estate and I quickly saw the big money in selling homes. So at 18 I took the exam, got my real estate license and started selling while in college at Miami University.

Fast forward – middle age. Real estate had treated me well. That black Porsche Targa had come and gone. I had run through an array of homes, cars, motorcycles, boats and planes. As soon as I became bored with one I bought another.

These days I look back and realize I wasn’t buying because I wanted the thing…I was buying because I needed some thing to do. At one point I accumulated so much motorized crap that I “hired” one of my sons to keep all the batteries charged.

I had everything I dreamed but wasn’t as happy as when I only had dreams.

Then, on a Saturday motorcycle ride, my friend, Bruce, made a comment that changed my perception.

“Greg, do you know why rich people aren’t happy?” he asked.

I gave him a skeptical look, waiting for the punchline of what was sure to be a joke.

But Bruce wasn’t joking…

He continued, “Of course, not all wealthy people are unhappy, but many are because they’ve forgotten what happiness is.”

“So what is it?” I asked.

“It’s three things, actually.  Happiness is the deep sense of satisfaction that comes from the enthusiastic pursuit of a worthwhile goal of your own choosing.

Bruce emphasized the key points:

* The goal needs to get you excited (enthusiastic pursuit).

* The goal needs to be worthwhile (not something trivial like an everyday errand).

* The goal must be something you choose (not something you must do, something you want to do).

I got the point. It was the difference between short term pleasures and long term purpose.

Chocolate cake, Porsches and vacations are great, but when it comes to life, they’re icing, not cake.  They’re rewards, not pursuits. While they can add to happiness they don’t make happiness.

Today’s Takeaway:

Being better off is better. But it should be more about the freedom to pursue purpose than the bucks to buy stuff.


When Disappointment Pays

by Greg Hague

Business men hand shake in the office

If you do enough business, you will have disputes . . . honest disagreements over an invoice, a promise, or quality of work. Disputes also arise in friendship and marriage.

With disputes you have three choices:

1) Fight

2) Ignore

3) Settle

As a lawyer, I’m inclined to say fight, but that would be lousy advice. Fighters are losers. It’s financially, emotionally and reputationally stressful, and potentially ruinous.

Fighting is more about ego than good common sense.

Of course, you could ignore your disputes. But disputes are problems, and problems grow over time.

Ignorance can be costly.

If you’re smart, you’ll settle.  Whether in business, friendship or marriage, it’s the smart move.

But to settle, you must reset your frame of mind from what you honestly believe you deserve to what you can live with.

Settlement involves disappointment. You must be willing to accept disappointment . . . to walk away with less than you think you deserve.

Today’s Takeaway:

Settlement isn’t fairness, it’s a dose of disappointment and good common sense.


You Can’t Beat Fear Pretending It’s Not There

by Greg Hague

Fearful boy hiding under the bedYou refused to attack. It was fear, the dream killer; it held you back.

Calls you failed to make. Opportunities you didn’t take. Times you should have raised your hand. People you were afraid to walk up and meet.

What is fear?

Let’s dissect this ugly ole’ thing. You can’t conquer what you don’t understand.

Fear is mental theater with you on the stage.

It’s visualization – a fast moving, flash-forward sequence that unfolds in your head.

You’re the star…the central character in a play with an unfortunate end.

It’s self-imposed failure; an imagined travesty deep in your mind.

How do you beat fear?

Do what actors do:

First – Don’t try to pretend fear isn’t there. It is.

Second – Realize most fears are “no downside” fears. Embarrassment. Rejection. Disappointment. Hurt feelings. You have nothing to lose but a mental bruise. The real harm comes from not taking the risk.

Third – Learn, practice, drill, rehearse. Nothing subdues fear more than being prepared.

Finally…visualize, visualize, visualize.

Imagine a perfect performance. You make the sale, wow the audience, ace the test or win the race. Picture yourself emerging to the applause of a roaring crowd.

The Takeaway?

The goal isn’t to ignore fear, it’s to excel in the face of fear.

Over-prepare. Take control of your mind. Visualize perfection time and again. See yourself a star, a winner, a success at the end.

And remember…the real downside is letting fear keep you from taking the risk. That’s what you’ll look back and regret.


Get Smart in 6 Minutes a Week

by Greg Hague

Congratulation 6

Guess what? I discovered how to get smart in 6 minutes a week!

Back in 2010 when I got the top score on the bar exam, I had only 4 ½ months to learn what most people beat their brains out studying for 3-4 years.

I had to cram a ton of complex legal stuff into my time-worn head fast… and make it stick.

By necessity, I developed a study technique that helped me learn twice as much in half the time. I sure wish I’d had it back when I was in school!

It consists of four new ways to learn faster and remember better, so I called it L4X. I know it works because when I used it with my law students they voted me Professor of the Year.

Wouldn’t you think everyone would want to know how learn easier and faster?

So I asked a New York editor if he thought it would make a good book.

He said, “Absolutely!”

But, he also said that no publisher would be interested unless it was at least 160 pages.

I told him I could explain it in 10.  He reiterated that major publishers wanted at least 160 pages in a book. He suggested I “fill it out.”

150 pages of fluff. Seriously? That got me thinking.

Most books are structured around great ideas like L4X. Those ideas can often be explained in minutes. The rest is filler and fluff… to make it an “official” book.

Seems silly to me. I’d rather have brief and brilliant than big and bloated.

That was the inspiration behind a new project… RapidFire Books.

Most people have unread books sitting around. They want to learn. The problem is time.

So I came up with a solution…

Put the best ideas from The New York Times top books in 6 minutes of audio each week.

It’s still in beta, but so far everyone loves it.

Give it a try. Here’s the link:

How Did You Know?

by Greg Hague


How did you know?

In 1959, my friend, Harvey Mackay, purchased a struggling envelope firm in Minneapolis. Today it is one of the largest in the world, with 500+ employees selling over 25 million envelopes a day.

How did he do it?  Four simple words:

How did you know?

Let me explain.

After he purchased the business, Harvey made a list of 66 things to know about each customer…  their customer profile.

It worked so well he started using it to learn about everyone he met… and then he began using it to learn about the people he was likely to meet.

Harvey now calls it his Mackay 66. I call it:  How did you know?”

The point is to get people to say, ”How did you know?”

It’s smart business and life advice, too.

Whether you are in school or working a job or building a business you better know this… you cannot succeed alone.

Whatever you want, someone else has.

You need a network of people who like you, trust you and want to help you. People like ME!

Show me you care. Get me to say, ”How did you know?”

Go online. Check out my sons… and Tanner and Chubby, my dogs. Learn about my beautiful wife, my hobbies, the organizations I support, the books I read, the music I like and the blogs I write.

Then, the next time we chat, shock me with something you know about me. Get me to ask,

“How did you know?”

I’ll be impressed. And, I’ll want to get to know you.

The takeaway? Before you…

* Meet with a friend.

* Interview for a job.

* Go to a meeting.

* Attend a social event.

Be prepared to make someone ask, “How did you know?”

Four simple words. Four nuggets of gold.



Writing Killer Emails Part 2

by Greg Hague

This is part two of a three part series.

Senior man working from home with laptop computer

Emails from you? I read every one.

I often learn more about people from emails than anything they do. Are they articulate? Can they spell? Do they proof or just type and shoot?  Emails are a resume, a window into who you are.

Want to write better emails? Here are a few tips that may help:

1.   First ask yourself, should I email or pick up the phone?

2.   Don’t waste the subject line. Say something intriguing.  Give me a reason to click.

3.   Start with your action item. What do you want me to do?

4.   Get to the point. You have only a few seconds to capture my attention.

5.   Use minimum words. Get rid of the oatmeal. What’s the point?

6.   Make sentences brief. Minimize conjunctives.

7.   Use short, well-spaced paragraphs, bullets & numbers. It’s easier to read.

8.   Compliment me. Say something nice. I eat it up.

9.   Add personality. Write like it’s you, not a drone.

10. Indicate when no reply is necessary. I love those words.

11. Limit emails to one subject. It’s better to send three with one point than one with three points.

12. Emails are no place for foul language, neither is life.

13. A “branded” signature makes a professional statement about you and your company.

14. Convert attachments to text when feasible. It’s easier to read on a smartphone.

15. Make certain that those you “bcc” know not to “reply all.”

16. Before you hit “send” take one last look.  There’s no pulling it back.



Savvy Says . . .

If you care about your image, use care in writing emails.


Writing Killer Emails

by Greg Hague

This is part one of a three part series.




I often feel like a deletion machine. Bang, bang, bang . . . how fast can I dump all those unwanted emails?  Bet you do too.

But then you hesitate. An email subject line grabs your eye. You think, I don’t want to take the time to read this – but you do.

You don’t know the sender, but you’re compelled to open the darn thing anyway. The subject line is so intriguing, you have to take a quick peek.

Emails from people you know?  When I see a killer subject line from family or friends, I think, Wow, my son, wife or buddy really came up with a good one.

Pretty cool . . . always impressive.

What about when looking for a job?  Right now I am interviewing candidates to find a top-notch executive assistant. I won’t bother to meet with an applicant until I assess their communication skills through a few emails.

What do I look for first?

An engaging subject line.



There are two general subject line strategies depending upon the impression you want to make.


A “CUT TO THE CHASE” SUBJECT LINE . . . it’s the essence of your email.

* Use it to ask a key question.

* Use it to summarize what you want them to do.

* Use it to make a key point.


A “DON’T BE BORING” SUBJECT LINE . . . it appeals to an emotional trigger.

*  The fear-invoking line:

Don’t let your child be embarrassed on the first day of school.

*  The newspaper headline:

Savvy Dad discovers secret to eternal happiness.

*  The curiosity line:

How to identify when people lie.

*  The benefits line:

Earn $1000 a day while you travel and play.

*  The question line:

Do you know how to make people like you in 90 seconds or less?


The bottom line on the subject line?  It’s the gist of your email.


Savvy Says . . .

The subject line is your first impression – and you know what is said about first impressions.