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The most important thing to me is to always have pride in yourself and be authentic, whatever that means to you personally. If everything else in the world were to go away- the money, the titles, the material possessions- make sure that you can stand behind your name and your decisions.

Your name and the way you act are your legacy. If you do something, do it 100%. If you say something, stand behind what you say. Be willing to tell someone the truth that they may not want to hear (if asked and it comes from good intentions). You may piss off some people along the way but that is fine – everyone with a strong point of view does!

I also think it is incredibly important to be driven to fulfill your needs and goals based on your own circumstances and opportunities. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean that you should and that the rewards will justify the risks for you. You will be happiest if you live your life based on your own wants, needs and opportunities, not someone else’s. It is very difficult to be happy if you are chasing someone else’s goal!

Balance that by ensuring that you are realistic and also truthful with yourself. Your point of view and circumstances will shift and evolve, but as long as you make the right decisions for you in that moment, know you have done your best. As fitness guru Tony Horton says, “If you do your best, it is always enough”.

Also, don’t hold yourself back from being everything that you can be. Sometimes, the best and brightest people can be held back by being too smart for their own good. I too have been guilty of this- I call it being a “successful underachiever”. I have learned that we can be our own worst enemies. There is nobody who will be harder on you or more critical of you than you, yourself.

We, as smart and driven people, will always be successful if we are pursuing something that is important to us, so don’t let your ego prevent you from taking a step or two backwards if it will allow you to take 25 steps forward down the line. Plus, be willing to take a shot if the risks aren’t prohibitive. As hockey great Wayne Gretzky says, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”.

Finally, make as much of your own luck as you possibly can. Preparation, passion and perseverance help create a bridge to success. If you fail to prepare, you will prepare to fail. I can’t think of too many bad things that came from solid preparation.

So, (borrowing another Tony Horton-ism here), do your best and forget the rest. If you are authentic, engage with pride, standards and preparation, and make the best decisions that you can for yourself in each moment, you will not have any grounds for regrets.

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Carol Roth has worked with hundreds of companies, ranging from a single entrepreneur with an idea to Fortune 500 businesses, on all aspects of business and financial strategy. Collectively, she has helped her clients raise over $1 billion dollars in capital, complete hundreds of millions of dollars in mergers and acquisitions, secure high profile licensing, partnership and jv deals, implement radical cost cutting measures, create online and other direct dialogues with customers and more. She draws upon her broad experience base to provide advice ranging from the business basics to the bold (think firing your customers) with a fresh, no-holds-barred and often tough-love style and approach. She refers to her advisory style as the Spinach in Your Teeth® philosophy, warning business owners to never trust anyone who won’t tell them that they have spinach stuck in their teeth.

Carol blogs about issues affecting entrepreneurs and their businesses from her Unsolicited Business Advice blog at and is the author of The Entrepreneur Equation, a book about evaluating the realities, risks and rewards of business ownership, due out later this year. She holds a B.S. Degree from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and is a former Director of Travelzoo (NASD:TZOO). Carol is a frequent media contributor on the topics of business and entrepreneurship and is known for her colorful vocabulary, including her own terms and phrases like “jobbie” (a hobby disguised as a job, career or business), as well as her insights on brands and consumer trends.

Carol currently resides in the Chicagoland area with her husband, who is also an investment banker (and her former business partner). They have no children, pets or plants and are avid sports fans (particularly of NFL football).

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