I’m often asked about how to succeed in business. Though some people assume I’ve had things easy in my life and in my career, I want to be clear: I have not had things easy. This has led me to obtain some hard-won wisdom about how to succeed at work, and in life.

Growing up one of four kids of a single mom left me feeling “less than” other kids who had much more than I did. My mother worked multiple jobs to keep food on the table, and even as a child I was able to see clearly that some people were successful, while others were not. I began to assess those around me, trying to figure out what I needed to do to succeed.

As I grew into adulthood, I made a promise to myself: I would not have to struggle financially the way my mother had. I decided to outwork everyone and put myself on the fast track for success—in all aspects of my life.

I’ve harnessed my top 10 easy tips for helping you outshine others and set yourself apart for this blog series, How To Succeed in Business and Life. With each tip, I’ll break down in detail how to become more successful in all that you do.

Tip 2: Be Prepared.

In life and in business there are two kinds of people: Those who are prepared and those who are not. Nothing teaches you the importance of being prepared more than having a baby. When you have a newborn, you need to have an arsenal of supplies readily available in case of emergency: Change of clothes, diapers, bottles, foods, spit-up cloths, toys, Tylenol, etc. And when you think about it, why should work be any different?

When you are walking into a meeting, it should not be a surprise event. Always, have a pen and paper with you and take notes. If you are meeting with someone for the first time, do research on the individual ahead of time and be prepared to mention something about them that will get their attention. If you are at a work meeting about the next quarter, do your homework ahead of time. Read previous quarters earnings releases and be prepared to contribute something to the conversation. If you are in a brainstorming meeting for an event, Google similar events the night before and record the best, most creative ideas that you think can work—then share them in the meeting. These simple steps to success make all the difference in the day-to-day.

Set yourself apart from the sea of mediocrity in the world by being prepared…then prepare yourself to be promoted!