Important Lessons to Make You More Successful from Paul Saunders, Founder of James River Capital Corp.

James River Capital Paul Saunder success

Success is hard to define. According to the dictionary, success is “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” Just what that aim or purpose is will differ for each individual.

Will you consider yourself successful when you establish a business that generates a profit? Purchase a nice home? Pay off your debts and have money in savings? Whatever success represents for you, the best advice comes from someone who has already achieved their aim or purpose.

In this article, Paul Saunders, the founder and CEO of James River Capital Corp., will give you his expert advice on achieving success. No matter what goals you’ve set for yourself, these tips will help you fulfill them.

Life Lessons That Will Make You More Successful

How did Paul Saunders achieve his success—and how can you do the same? Read below for some life lessons and tips.

Reframe failures and setbacks

The more you dwell on your mistakes and failures, the more you will erode your own self-confidence. Without self-confidence, it becomes difficult to make decisions and take risks that are essential to your success.

Instead of defining yourself by your mistakes, view them as learning experiences. Of course, we’re often our own biggest critics, and this can be easier said than done. Ask yourself, “What have I learned from this experience? What will I do differently next time? How can I prevent this type of setback in the future?”

The truth is that failure is a natural and necessary part of success. Instead of thinking, “I’m failing,” think, “I’m learning,” and apply these lessons as you continue moving toward your goals.

Set reasonable goals

Paul Saunders James River Capital set reasonable goalsSpeaking of goals, it’s important that the goals you set for yourself are reasonable and achievable. One way to do this is to break your big goal into smaller steps.

If, for instance, you wanted to run a marathon, setting a goal of 26 miles might seem daunting. You might think, “26 miles? That’s too much. I’ll never achieve that.” You might become discouraged with your seemingly minimal progress.

A better approach would be to set milestones along the way: 2 miles, 5 miles, 10 miles, and so on. As you achieve these smaller goals, you’ll feel accomplished and build confidence. This way, you’ll celebrate progress and find the motivation to continue the journey of reaching your ultimate goal.

So, what would you like to achieve long-term? What are the steps you will need to accomplish in order to reach this goal? Tackle your big dream one small step at a time, and you’re likelier to find success.

Be committed

Once you’ve set your goals, you must be absolutely committed to achieving them. It’s vital to understand that there will be bumps along the road and be willing to persist anyway.

Know that not everyone will believe in your dream, but you must follow through regardless. If you’re prepared to thoroughly commit to achieving your goals, you’re far more likely to see success. Remember that mistakes are lessons, and don’t give up. Go back to the drawing board as often as necessary.

Find your “why”

Achieving success is a long and difficult road. It involves time, effort, and substantial sacrifice. To continue motivating yourself, it’s essential that you know your “why.”

Why have you selected this goal for yourself? What is your inspiration or bigger purpose? Answers like “money” or “validation” won’t be enough when the going gets rough. Perhaps you want to build a better future for your children, or maybe you’ve got a business plan that you think will change the world.

Find a sustainable reason for why you do what you do, and it will be much easier to push yourself. Genuinely believing in your purpose is essential to becoming successful.

Never stop learning

Paul Saunders James River Capital never stop learningTrue success means that you never become complacent. There’s always something you can improve or learn.

Continue bettering yourself by reading books, learning the latest, networking with colleagues and listening to what they have to offer, and so on. Find people you admire and ask them questions. Asking for guidance is a sign of strength and wisdom, not weakness.

No matter what industry you go into, business is constantly evolving, and you must stay current in order to keep your business relevant.

Make time to visualize and reflect

Elite Olympic athletes often use visualization techniques as part of their training. They picture successfully completing the course, running the race, etc. They may also envision themselves standing on the gold medal podium when the event is complete.

The same principles apply in any area of life. Visualize yourself completing your goals and living the life you’d like to have. Doing so motivates you and makes it easier to instill habits and acquire necessary skills.

Another helpful technique is reflection. At the end of each day, think about what worked and what didn’t. Evaluating your progress and seeing the bigger picture allows you to make clear decisions and move in the right direction. What will you keep doing? What will you change and how will you change it? What are some small goals you would like to accomplish tomorrow?

Final Thoughts

Success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes commitment, reflection, passion, motivation, a desire to continue learning, and even failure. Achieving a big dream is hard work. But by following these tips, you’ll move in the right direction—toward your aim, your purpose, and ultimately toward success.

Paul Saunders used many of these philosophies to create success in his business. By incorporating them into your own life, you can find success too.


About Paul Saunders

Paul Saunders is the founder, chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of James River Capital Corp. and affiliated companies. Driven by his lifelong passion for finance, Paul obtained a B.A. from the University of Virginia and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago.

He began in investment banking, but Paul eventually transitioned to investment and trading. His career has spanned positions in the Corporate Finance Department at Warburg Paribas Becker, then in the Commodity Department of A.G. Becker. He later worked at Kidder, Peabody, and Co. as Director of Managed Accounts and Commodity Funds before becoming President of KP Futures Management Corp. The company later became James River Capital Corp. Paul Saunders has held his current position since 1995.

Along with his wife Vicki, Paul has paid forward his success through philanthropy. They recently launched the Saunders Family Foundation and have supported numerous charitable organizations.

About James River Capital

Founded in 1986, James River Capital Corp. was originally the alternative investment department of Kidder, Peabody, & Co. It became an independent investment firm in 1995, when Paul Saunders and Kevin Brandt acquired the firm from Kidder.

James River is located in Richmond, Virginia and pursues strategies in areas such as corporate credit, equity strategies, global macroeconomic strategies, fixed income arbitrage, multi-strategy investing, managed futures trading, asset-backed securities, and other asset classes.


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