10 Basic Laws of Success


“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

Previous President and COO at Waffle House Inc., Bert Thornton, presented his 10 Basic Laws of Success to the Gulf Breeze Rotary a few weeks ago. These laws can serve as guidelines for continual growth in your career and life.

Bert speaks from his 40 years of experience of progressive growth, as he experienced Waffle House grow from a few southern restaurants to an iconic national presence. Bert frequently speaks on leadership and is the author of “Find an Old Gorilla: Pathways Through the Jungle of Business and Life.”

Bert’s 10 Basic Laws of Success

1. Always take notes (always keep pen and paper)

Bert warns that your mind is always at work and you must find ways to make best use of it. It is impossible to always remember an idea. If you write it down, you have a better chance of remembering it again later.

2. Hang around the right people

Your network is your most valuable asset and will provide either a positive influence or a negative influence. So, you should be proactive to ensure you allow the right people to have an influence on your life. Bert encourages you to be around people that: have things you want, do things that you want do to, and hold positions that you aspire to achieve. You should be around these individuals and listen.

Bert stresses the importance of finding a mentor for guidance. The greater the mentor is respected by peers, the greater chance of your success as a mentee.

Learn more about finding the RIGHT mentor.

3. Be honest

Honesty is the key to long term survival in business and life. You can find short term success being dishonest, but the truth will eventually always come out. In the end, it is easier to just be honest.

4. Keep a great attitude – Always

More than your car, house, appearance; your attitude is the single most observed thing about you. Having great attitude is a magnet for great experiences.

5. Get up earlier than your friends 

Waking up early is a great routine to set yourself up for success. If you are in business,  get up earlier than competition. Remember the saying, “the early bird gets the worm.”

Learn more about setting your morning routine.

6. Learn to say yes & learn to say no

Leaders set their own agenda that align with their goals. To follow their example, when you are asked do something that does not align with your goals, learn to say “NO!” If you say “yes” to something that does not align with your goals, you will make two people unhappy: yourself and the person you said “yes” to.

If you are asked for something that does align with you goals, then say “YES”.  Bert warns to never just say “ok”. Go forward with a task with passion or just say “NO.”

7. Nourish yourself

Three important parts in need of proper nourishment:

  1. Body
    You must take care of your body by starting with breakfast every morning. Without nourishment, you are not at your best to complete your goals!
  2. Mind
    Your mind is a muscle that needs to be exercised daily. One easy way to do that is to read every day.
  3. Soul
    You should practice prayer or meditation frequently for clarity of thoughts. Every culture understands that there is a greater power in charge.

8. Learn to manage time 

All have same amount of time. By focusing on these three areas, you can be a better time manager:

  1. Set Goals
    Define purpose and set goals. This will provide direction so you know where you are going.
  2. Create an Action Plan
    You can avoid distractions by creating action plan. You can be a bird chaser and frequently running a different direction, or retain focus by following an action plan.
  3. Learn to establish deadlines
    To get anything accomplished, you must have a deadline.

Extra: Never underestimate the power of small things repeated frequently over long period of time.

9. Give away all credit – take all the blame

People who do this are called great leaders. People that do not are called great followers.

10. Give away anonymous things of value 

Following this law will give you power and fulfillment.

In conclusion, Bert shares his driving motivation as the age-old adage: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

For an abbreviated version of Bert’s presentation, see the video below titled: CMO Talks: Basic Laws of Success with Bert Thornton


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