The most successful people in the world share some common traits, including hard work, creativity, persistence and passion. That makes sense. You need those things to do big things in this world. But you need one more thing that is often forgotten about. While sometimes you absolutely have to be selfish about your goals and priorities, there are other times in which being selfless is the quickest way to the top.

Today, I’m going to tell you exactly how Joel Contartese built his empire based on those common qualities that all successful people possess as well as some good old fashioned generosity. 

Joel is an e-commerce and business development expert who has acquired fifty-million followers and who is responsible for the social media growth of some of today’s most recognized social brands including Shredz Supplements and Skinny Bunny Tea. As a renowned social media expert, Joel gladly gave us some tidbits on the story of his success.

Right Place at the Right Time

Joel hasn’t always been the success he is today. Of course, he worked hard and persisted in the face of adversity, but he actually credits a little bit of luck in how he got started. “Honestly, I fell into it. A good friend of mine reached out to me telling me he had found an opportunity to monetize the Instagram accounts he had been growing,” Joel explains. “We started with a humor account and posted funny videos. That account grew, so we started another, and another, and another…”

Joel might have had a bit of luck getting his foot in the door of Instagram when it first started, but he took that opportunity and made the most out of it. Joel learned everything he could about social media. He built connections with powerful people and learned everything he could on his own through Youtube, books and seminars. All of that hard work and dedication paid off because he later found an opportunity to join a CPG start up. So Joel might have stumbled into the right place at the right time, but from there he took off on his own.

Give Before You Take

Joel is a giver. He believes in providing value to others no matter what. In fact, his love for helping others is the reason he hasn’t started his own business. Joel explains, “Many times, I have thought about starting my own CPG business. While that would be financially rewarding, it is more fulfilling to help someone else bring their idea to life and watch it flourish.”

Joel developed a love for the relationships he was building and everything he was able to learn while helping others succeed. There was something about the passion his clients had that inspired him. “Marketing is a tool I use to help others achieve their goals, but the real driver for me are the people I work with. They are my inspiration, motivation and source of my creativity and determination.” His selflessness has directly contributed to his success and where he is today.

Keep It Simple

Joel believes in simplicity in life. In fact, when we asked for his top three productivity tips for entrepreneurs, his answers were surprisingly simple and made so much sense. Joel starts each day with prayer and gratitude. He is thankful for the opportunities, the lessons, and everything in between. While simple, this one habit brings clarity into his life. Joel also takes midday walks any time he starts to feel overwhelmed. The fresh air helps bring back perspective, and it  increases his productivity. Finally, Joel recommends the use of a simple and free tool that he uses to organize his life—Google Calendar. If you looked at his calendar right now, you’d see everything from haircuts to dinner meetings listed. “My whole life is on that schedule. I love being spontaneous, but it really helps to have a structure to follow most days.”

Adapt or Die

It is no secret that we live in a fast-paced world. With so much information at our fingertips, you have to learn to adapt as things are constantly changing. In Joel’s venture, flexibility is key. “If you can’t adapt, you can’t survive,” Joel tells us. “Marketing is not what it was 10 years ago and every day is a new opportunity to connect with your audience in a different way. Being flexible in your strategy and approach is the key to staying ahead.”

No matter how flexible Joel has been throughout his journey, there were still challenges and setbacks. “I don’t recall a time where I felt it was over for me, but there were many points I thought I would fail. I think every Entrepreneur has those days. But I like to think that every day can be the day it all comes crashing down. It keeps me on my toes and prevents me from feeling complacent.”

Parting Words

Joel reminded me that there will never be a shortage of challenges—from personal battles within our minds to stressing about how to cover bills when things don’t work out. The road to success as an Entrepreneur isn’t for the faint of heart. The key is to believe in yourself. All of the fears you have are just part of the journey.

Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.

Jennifer Spencer

At 23, I was content but not satisfied. I was living in Maryland with a secure job, family and friends nearby, but something was missing. I decided it was time to make a massive move out of my comfort zone. I moved across the country to San Francisco to take on a role as a Content Marketing Manager for a tech startup. Inspired by Silicon Valley’s environment of driven entrepreneurs I decided to go a step further and start my own company using my Marketing and PR skills to help entrepreneurs share their stories with the world.