My "unwritten" rules for success.

I am fascinated by what makes successful people successful. Over the years, I have asked the most successful people I know what their "secrets" are.

I realized, recently, that each one of us possesses a unique definition of success.

So, while it may be helpful -- and even extremely helpful -- to learn what other people find to be the critical factors for success, perhaps we need to go further than our own minds to identify the things each one of us believes got us where we are, and can propel us into the future.

This is the first time I have put the rules I carry around in my own mind into written words. I'm not sure they will all make sense, but here are my -- until today -- "unwritten" rules for success:

1. Be thankful every day for everything you have. Sure some people have more, but a lot of people have less than you do.

2. Think before doing. This is particularly important before making a business call, sending an e-mail, or crossing the street.

3. Always arrive 10 minutes early.

4. Do not eat salads or spaghetti at business lunches.

5. Close your eyes when talking to someone on the phone. It helps you focus on what they're saying. Do not do this if you're driving a car or operating a forklift.

6. Say please and thank you.

7. Smile a lot. Especially when you're alone. You'll feel better.

8. Pretend every customer is your first customer. And your last. You'll never treat them badly if you do.

9. When hiring someone for an administrative job, always pay them more than what they've asked for. They'll work harder.

10. Each time you start to write an e-mail, ask yourself if it wouldn't create a more meaningful communication if you picked up the phone instead.

11. Answer you phone every time it rings.

12. Carry a 3x5 card and a pen with you at all times to jot down anything and everything you need to remember. It beats a PDA, it doesn't need batteries, and if you lose it you don't have to call anyone to replace it.

13. When negotiating, follow Stephen Covey's "Win-Win or No Deal" philosophy. All of your negotiations will go better.

14. By the time you feel over-stressed, you already were over-stressed. Slow down. Breathe in, breathe out. Take a break every hour.

15. Banks and accountants make mistakes.

16. You make mistakes.

17. Give customers something extra they didn't ask for.

18. Promise a lot and deliver more.

19. Guarantee your work.

20. Deliver things before you said you would. It delights people.