Lee Silber is a best-selling author, Keynote speaker, and award-winning trainer. He is the founder and lead trainer at Remote Worker Resource, a company that provides tools, training, and support for remote workers and home-based businesses.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

Whew, this is a loaded question. I guess this story will illustrate something in my childhood that impacted my adult life. My grandfather was the founder of Advanco, a large and successful manufacturer of office products. My father went to work for his father, beginning as a stock clerk and working his way up to salesman—until my grandfather suddenly sold the company. My dad was so upset he moved us from New Jersey to San Diego, California.

This move meant that at ten years old I went from living in a big house, spending weekends on a boat, and having everything to having nothing and living in a one-bedroom apartment with my parents and two brothers. It took a few years but my father built his own successful office products business from the ground up. I started as a stock clerk in the company and worked my way up to salesman—until my father suddenly sold the company. I moved to Hawaii.

What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?

I’m no superhero and yet I wanted to right every wrong. It was exhausting . . . and futile. I have come to realize that it’s great to want to save the world but it’s better to save YOUR world. Think global, start local. What that means is I scaled back my ambitions to solve problems that were too big and in no way within my control and instead made a difference in my immediate community.

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

I’ve had some wild ideas and at one point paid to meet with an attorney about protecting some of them. In a one-hour consultation (and for $375) I was scared straight. After listening to this well-meaning and well-respected attorney tell me all the ways someone could steal my ideas, I locked them all away for years. Big mistake.

I’ve come to learn that keeping your ideas close to the vest is one way to go. Another is to share your ideas with others. Most people have no interest in stealing your idea, but they may be interested in helping you take your idea to the next level. Of course, put proper protections in place, but let go and put your ideas out there.

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

The more money you make the happier you’ll be, right? Wrong. Yes, making money (and good money) is very important, but at what cost? Meaning, what are you willing to give up to get it? For me, giving up my freedom was a price I wasn’t willing to pay. I signed with a training company that booked my schedule, booked my travel, and in a way, booked my life. The experience I gained from my five years of doing five all-day seminars in five cities, in five days was simply too much for me.

I finally took the leap of faith and left the security of having as much work (and money) as I needed to go out on my own. In the end, I made more money while working less but I had to be willing to give up the good for great.

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?

This is an easy one. Goals. One of my former college instructors said about me (after seeing me featured on television), “Never has one of my students done so much, with so little.” I agree. Without goals, I would have led a much smaller life.

What is your morning routine?

My answer to the previous question mentioned the importance of having goals in my life. Years ago I wrote down what a day in my life would be like if I had everything I wanted. Ha, I am living that exact life—and morning routine.

Like many creative people, I am a night owl and don’t go to bed before midnight which is why I rise at 8:00 AM. I believe a good breakfast and a cup of coffee is the best way to start the day. Since I live on the beach, I will often hop on my bike and ride to one of the many nearby coffee shops for my morning meal—and to work without distractions.

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

I can’t imagine a life without goals, a plan to achieve them, AND a daily things-to-do list. They all work well together.

What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?

See my answer above. Ha! I just saved myself a bunch of time. Now that’s efficient.

What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?

I’m sure you’re expecting me to mention a book I read years ago that changed my life. Instead, I want to talk about a book I just read recently for a very good reason. I have found that the most successful people are lifelong learners and eager readers. Okay, here it is. I read and recommend, The Cafe on the Edge of the World by John Strelecky.

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?

Before Steve Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer he said, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today?”

After he was diagnosed he said, “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”

It’s not that I’m obsessed with death, but being aware of it helps bring everything into focus.