Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Living a Monopoly Lifestyle

Need a last minute Christmas gift?  A board game is something that both (fun) adults and children will equally enjoy.  There are timeless classics like;  Candy Land, Shoots and Ladders, Trouble, Battleship, and, my personal favorite, Monopoly.

As a kid I had a competitive mean streak in me that would challenge any professional athletes.  Losing in a game of Monopoly was simply not an option.  If I felt like my chances at winning, via bankrupting my opponents, had been nixed, I simply flipped the board.  Literally.  Pieces, money, properties and cards went soaring.  

As you can imagine, finding people to play Monopoly with eventually became pretty difficult.  

I'm happy to say that I've shed my sore losing with age....and maturity....and many solo Monopoly matches.  There's a lot that can be learned from the best selling board game of all-time, that pertains to success in life.

- Investing In The Best Properties - You already know Boardwalk and Park Place are the primest of prime real estate.  You pay big fake bucks for them, but boy is it worth it.  Let your opponent land on one of those spaces, and you'll see your reward.  Same in life.  Sometimes investing in the best gets you the biggest returns.  And in the end, you'll almost always get what you pay for.

- Chance - Land here, pick a card, and you may become a little richer.  Remember winning first prize in a beauty competition?  Or a bank error in your favor?  Maybe these aren't realistic for you and I, but taking chances in life can often result in positive outcomes - which is why we get excited about "chance".  Sure, something negative may happen, but it's the possibility of something positive happening that gets our juices flowing.  Get out of your comfort zone in 2012, and start seeing new outcomes.

- Pass Go, Collect $200 - You make it all the way around the board, without going bankrupt, and you collect $200.  This checkpoint gives you a financial shot in the arm and allows you to keep on trucking, or thimble-ing, whichever you choose.  Same in life.  Give yourself checkpoints en route to accomplishing your goals, and then reward yourself for reaching them.  

- Be The Banker - Let's face it, the banker is the best job in board gaming.  You have a fake $20,000 at your "disposal".  Come on, be honest, have you ever slipped an extra $10....$20....$5,000 maybe, into your stack?  There's something to be learned about having that kind of power.  It teaches honesty, fairness, and as a kid, it allows your imagination to run wild with the possibility of what you could do if you had all of the banks money.  Work hard to earn and save more, and feel that same wave of excitement as an adult.

There are many other lessons that I took away from this childhood favorite.  From paying utilities, to math, to leveraging "assets" and paying up on my responsibilities.  Think about it, if you owe somebody rent in Monopoly, you can't say "Yea, sorry for the delay, but the check is in the mail, I swear!".  You pay up, even if that means shedding some valuable property to do so.

Some of the nostalgia is being taken away though.  Monopoly now comes in video game form, and with electronic banking.  Instead of cash, you get credit cards!  I don't know about you, but I like the idea of having a sweaty fist full of fake dough and counting the spaces in advance as my fellow players land on a Boardwalk full of hotels!!!  Ha Ha Ha Ha!  Pay up sucker!  Daddy's gonna have a green Christmas!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

It's More Than Just A Drink

There are die-hard fantasy football nerds.  There are raging alcoholics.  Hard core gamers, reality TV devotees, and movie marathoners.  Facebook fanatics, tech junkies, and text-a-holics.  I never understood or empathized with addicts.....of any sort.  I thought the people who would wait in line for 83 hours, just to get the newest and latest cell phone, were extremists who just needed a friend.  But...I get it now, I understand.

Because that's how I feel about coffee.  Playing with my coffee is like playing with my emotions....and your well-being.  Especially in the morning.  I'm all about living a healthy lifestyle, and try my best to avoid consuming anything that might shave years off my life - smoking, alcohol, drugs, pixie sticks, etc. But, this is one of those things that's just going to have to stay with me, God willing.

Trying to explain to me why coffee isn't good for me is like staging an intervention for a chain smoker, while they're smoking, inside of a cigar bar, while they're gathered with fellow friends to honor the passing of the Marlboro Man.  You don't have a prayer.  Save it.  I'm not saying it's right.....I'm just saying I don't care.

I'll be honest with you - one of the key attractions I have towards my girlfriend was when I found out she prepared the coffee pot in the evening, so that there was nothing to slow her/us down in the morning.  I would love to learn how to set the automatic brewing timer....but I just don't trust technology with something so crucial.  However, the video below is the best adult clip I've come across in quite some time.  Sit back, and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

No Years Resolutions - Goal Setting For 2012

It's that time of year again.  Aside from topping the tree, attending office holiday parties, and spending time with friends and family - it's time to start thinking about New Years Resolutions for 2012.  Reflecting on another year past, while making mental notes of all we hope to accomplish this coming year, is almost as much of a tradition as the holidays themselves.  Before you break out the white board, unwrap this bit of information:  88% of resolutions are not kept and accomplished.

Why is it that 9 out of 10, who set out whole heartily expecting to accomplish more in the next calendar year, simply don't see it through?  There's several reasons:

  • Time - A goal without a deadline is just a pipe dream.  Treat goals like you would treat a task on an agenda.  
  • Size - Some goals are too big for us to wrap our heads around.  You've got to break it down into smaller chunks.  Instead of saying "I'm going to lose 25 pounds!" Try, "I'm going to lose 5 pounds over the next 30 days."  Then replicate that over the next five months.
  • Lack of a Plan - It's easy to come up with ideas and goals.  They're fun, exciting, and give us hope.  Coming up with an actual plan to accomplish them - not as much.  However, it's the plan that's the road map to getting you from where you are, to where you hope to be.
  • Discipline - Maybe the biggest contributor to why we treat our goals like scrap wrapping paper thrown to the side is because we lack the discipline to stick with it to the very end.  You have twelve months to accomplish these goals, yet most of us give up before the ice starts melting.
  • Review & Reward - Rarely is a meaningful goal accomplished in one fell swoop.  It's a process.  How do we know if we're getting any closer towards a resolution if we don't regularly give ourselves a status update?  Review your progress weekly, and reward yourself along the way for making positive strides.
  • Keeping it a Secret - The goal you don't accomplish that nobody knows about isn't as big of a deal.  Write it down, share it with those closest to you, who can offer support, and be accountable to someone other than yourself.

Giving yourself a "clean slate" is a great way to give hope and promise to a New Year.  I'm a huge believer in writing down what you want to accomplish, I just don't agree with HOW people set New Year's Resolutions.  Don't wait twelve months to give yourself a clean slate.  Do it EVERY WEEK.

I set Weekly Resolutions.  Chalk it up to this generations short attention span, but setting a goal that stretches out over 365 days is too far out for me to stay focused.  Give yourself a few targets within eyeshot, and a week in which to accomplish it, and watch how much easier it is to stay focused.

Instead of trying to lose a lot of weight - aim to lose two pounds this week.  Or, if your goal is to get out of debt, for example, make it your goal to pay a certain amount each week towards the balance.  If you're trying to improve a relationship, do something each week that will strengthen that bond.  

I often hear sales professionals set goals of making more money this year than they did in the previous.  Look, earning an extra $20,000 this year is biting off more than most can chew.  But doing a little bit more each week, with a plan to increase quarter-by-quarter, makes it much more manageable.  If it's a large goal, break it down to a smaller goal.....and then break it down again.....and then again, and again.  The smaller you make a meaningful goal seem, the more confident you become towards accomplishing it.

Set New Year's Resolutions during any lulls over the next few weeks.  But don't cast too wide of a net.  Put a weekly plan in place, and manage that plan each day, and 2012 could be your best year yet.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Marketing Made Queasy

I know Black Friday is already a week and a half in the rear view mirror, but we all know shop-a-holics show no signs of slowing down until either A: they run out of funds (and even sometimes that won't stop them) or B: it's January 2nd, we're back to work, and the credit card company has an express order on our heads and bank account.  I was one of the not so few that ventured out on Thanksgiving NIGHT, at 10:00pm, to take advantage of some great savings, and avoid the lines that were sure to follow come Friday morning.  Or so I thought.

It's one of those situations when everyone thinks nobody is going....so, naturally everybody goes.  Like the supposedly "slow times" at Disney World.  You show up, expecting to waltz right to the front of the line, get your thrills in, and ride each ride till you reach your food containment limit.  What you get is tens of thousands of other people who thought the same thing, leaving you seriously considering the idea of a mass theme park conspiracy.  They get the crowds, your money, while you contemplate leaving your family to fend for themselves so you can hit every "single-rider" line in the vicinity.

There are genius marketing ploys, and then there are epic failures.  One (of many) Black Friday Fails that I was able to witness was at Perfumania.  Surprised?  Didn't think so.  General rule of thumb for me is anything with "mania" attached to the end of something usually makes me want to run in the opposite direction.  I wont eat from a "BurgerMania" or get a haircut from a "BarberMania" or get a root canal from "DentalMania".  Seriously, it conveys a message of......well.....mania!  And though the Maniac's were in full force this Black Friday, it surely wasn't because this marketing piece below:

I can't understand why a Superman Cologne and Body Wash package would be on clearance......oh wait, that's right, because kids don't wear cologne or use body wash!!  That's not even the biggest fail here.  Look closely at the price tag and you'll see:

Your Price:  $17.95

directly below that....

Suggested:  $00

That's not a typo.  We weren't given a Progressive price gun and able to "name your price" on anything in the store.  This was one of several "gift boxes" that were labeled that way.  I may not have a PHD in marketing, but as a business owner I know that if I charge someone $20 for something, and tell them it's worth NOTHING, business might slow down on any day not Friday, November 26th.

Innocent?  Probably.  But still not forgivable.  I was tempted to take it to the register and confess, "Ma'am, if it's all the same to you, I'd PREFER the "suggested retail price" over the "sale price"."  But, standing in line for 35 minutes to make a point didn't seem to represent the spirit of the season well.  Cooler heads prevailed, and off we went to see what other stores had in store for us.  Most did everything in their power to get our attention, from making employees sing outside of the store, or dressing them up as monkeys, or superheros, or Mr. Claus.  Which, by the way, doesn't work either.

I have yet to buy a new mattress because some out-of-touch manager forced a part-time employee to dress up as a Ninja Turtle and wave to oncoming traffic, while risking life and shell for $10/hr.  Like I said, some ploys are genius, some are failures.  Our job, as a business owner, or any type of professional, is to find a way to connect with potential customers in a way that they find valuable.  During Black Friday, it's about price most certainly over convenience.  In your line of work it may be different.

Maybe showing your customers that your highly accessible is a way you can market yourself.  In insurance, we take an "advisory" approach - saving clients money and time, while protecting their family from financial shortfalls in the event of a injury, illness or death.  That may sound "scripted", but only because it's something we've internalized.  You must find marketing principles that work, internalize them, and then use them to THEIR advantage - not yours.  Doing this will still make you a super hero without having to dress up like one, and you might even hear a client say "Cow-A-Bunga Dude!"

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Right vs. Might - Being Competitive in the "Right" Way

Are successful people more competitive than the average person?  Do they have this "refuse to lose" type attitude that drives them to work harder and sacrifice more?  I'm picturing Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) when his father tells him, "If you aint first, you're last!", as a youngster in the movie Talladega Nights.

I remember, growing up, having this feeling that if I lost in athletics, trying your "best" didn't really matter - regardless of what the coaches would say.  Either you were a winner, and came out on top, or you lost, and were on the bottom.  It got me to thinking, at what point does being overly-competitive become a detriment to your success?  The more I thought about it, the more I realized its not about being "too competitive", it's about being competitive in the "right" areas.

Striving To Be The Best

If I could go back, I wouldn't strive to be the best athlete on my high school basketball team.  I would strive to be the best teammate.  It's one thing to score the most points, or win awards. But if it's at the detriment to the team, it's counterproductive and purposeless.  Make it your goal to make those around you better.

In business, striving to be the best is a tremendous attribute to have.  That competitive drive is a trait I personally look for when conducting interviews and bringing in new sales professionals.  But, if I could go back, I wouldn't strive to make the most sales, or the most money.  I would strive to be the best manager, co-worker and adviser to my clients.  Focusing purely on the numbers will cause you to lose sight of the people around you.  In the end, it's our customers and colleagues that are the catalyst to our success.

In relationships, do you need to be in control?  If there's an argument do you need to "win"?  I know I used to feel that way.  Yet, with every argument "won", all I was doing was driving a bigger wedge between myself and the other individual.  The best way I know how to describe it is similar to a boxing match.  One fighter has the championship belt, the other is trying to become the champion.  Both fight valiantly, yet the fight ends in a draw.  The winner isn't satisfied with his title defense, because he didn't win outright.  The challenger, still has no belt.  Nobody wins.

Being competitive is a great quality to have, but if you find yourself flipping over scrabble boards or alienating friends and co-workers, it might be time to take a step back.  Don't take flag football too seriously, and these parents that are getting into fist fights at there kids sporting events should be left on a deserted island somewhere.

Look for a way to strive to be the best at bettering those around you.  As the old saying goes, "A rising tide raises ALL ships."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Where Are My Nuts??

I mean that literally.  Maybe not in the way you're reading it though.  This Thanksgiving I'd be grateful for a few minutes of gutter-less thinking, and avoiding sexual innuendo's. Let's finally retire some of these classic non-knee slappers, such as:

- the buns are warm
- the bird is stuffed
- don't play with your meat
- that's a huge breast
- you'll know it's ready when it pops up
- you know what apple pie reminds me of...?
- are you ready for seconds??

Here's the situation - on a recent road trip to Alabama we stopped at a rest stop.  For the first time in at least 15 years, I was craving Cracker Jack's.  Not just for the toy either.  The salty-sweet treat seemed like a great accompaniment to my 8 hour car ride, and watered down vending machine made coffee.  I settled in, buckled up, and waited for a family that could easily challenge the Duggars to get from behind the back of the car, and mosey my way back onto the interstate.

The anticipation is building as I get the car up to cruise control speed, as I try to stomach a sip of this brown "coffee flavored" concoction. I'm actually quite proud of myself for making such a sound snack decision.  Popcorn paired with peanuts, all being held together with caramel.  Surely most people would overlook this simple yet satisfying treat en route to selecting either B8:  Cheetos or A12:  Honey Bun.

Ultimately, they would regret their decision while I'm cruising at 79 mph, wrist deep into my snack sized bag of Cracker Jacks.  They would think to themselves, "This was a poor choice.....What am I doing with my life?"  While I think contently to myself, "Way to go!  Decisions like this is what separate the good from the great - the fulfilled from the unsatisfied. You're on your way good Sir, well played!"

Here's where my trip north goes totally south.  With my knee guiding our steering wheel, I tear into my destiny.  As each handful comes back, I'm more and more disappointed.  I say to my passenger (mom) "Where the hell are my nuts??"  She looks at me with confusion, disgust and I think I even detected slight sympathy as well.  I quickly learned why my fellow travelers passed on Cracker Jacks and this sorry excuse for a surprise, in favor of something more reliable.

When you're missing a key ingredient the entire meal/recipe/outcome suffers.  I didn't want caramel popcorn without peanuts, just like you wouldn't want turkey without stuffing, mashed potatoes without gravy.  Similar to my aunt without a glass of wine, the popcorn without the peanuts just wasn't as fun!  It was missing something.....something I was counting on.

Ok, so, let me finish venting about this huge let down (the popcorn, not my aunt - she did have wine after all). Success in business and in life requires all the right ingredients.  Like the numbers to a combination lock, they all must be right, and in order.  Even the smallest missing piece can cause the biggest problems.  Being a hard worker, but lacking communication skills will hinder your growth.  Providing for your family at the expense of quality time can and will likely cause relationship problems with those closest to you.

It's about balance, and knowing what extra ingredient can take it to the next level.  Without it, you'll be left disappointed, scowling at a half eaten bag of peanut-less Cracker Jacks thinking of where your life could be if you had an opportunity to re-invest that same seventy-five cents.  Happy Thanksgiving to all!!!!!!  Drive safe out there, and eat more than enough!  CHEERS!

Friday, November 18, 2011

It's Not You....It's My Food

As another work week comes to an end, another weekend of over-eating and gorging myself of all things protein approaches.  Some might say I'm using this weekend of pre-Thanksgiving feasting as practice for this upcoming Thursday.  Those people would be wrong.  Not to brag, but....I need no practice.  I practice every weekend.....the only difference being that one weekend every year comes forty-eight hours early.

I love the whole set up.  The lame cornucopia piece, which, by the way, doesn't seem like a very convenient carrying device at all.  The fake leaves used for decorating that someones cat is sure to eat and be unable to completely digest.  The dry turkey you'll be eating for the next 8 days.  The over-peppered mashed potatoes. And, my personal favorite, the cylindrical cranberry sauce.

This time spent with friends and family is designed to give thanks.  Reflecting on all that we're grateful for.  But.....let's be honest here, it's about eating.  And football.  And eating.  And family.  And eating.  And not working.  And eating pie.  Lots of pie.  So, attempt a conversation if you must.....but understand that when I give you a look like a confused rabid truck driver with gravy and yams in my beard - it's not you....it's me, and my food.  So back off pal!  Your story about your nephews amazing slap shot can surely wait till after I'm done digesting.

Yes, I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving - as much as I look forward to every Friday/FoodDay.  But, like Independence Day, I celebrate Giving Thanks every day, and don't wait for a calendar to tell me when it's my day to indulge on delicious food!  Eat up, give me some space, enjoy the game, and throw away that ridiculous sweater the second you can.  Ahhh, this really is the most wonderful time of the year!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Drink Your Milkshake: Fully Enjoy Your Moments

I'm always hesitant to quote anything from the Buddha.  I guess it's kind of like trying to freehand the Mona Lisa, or karaoke a number from The Beatles.  It just doesn't feel right, and comes nowhere near doing them justice.  But....and you knew that was coming.....here it goes:

"Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment."
                                 ~ Buddha

Being able to stay present during your best moments in life, while soaking it in, is the key to staying sane - in my opinion.  The magic of tomorrows success depends on our ability to make the most out of today.  As the saying goes, "one today is worth two tomorrows".

Your moments can change you.  Life today can be totally different than yesterday.  Think of some of the most monumental moments you've experienced in life.  Maybe it was getting married.  Or finding out you're cancer-free.  Do you remember where you were when you got that big break?  Recall that indescribable feeling when you had your first child.

I'm sure you can recite specific details as if it was just yesterday.  Sure, not every moment can be compared to your wedding night, perhaps, but being able to envelope yourself in your own accomplishments, whether they're big or small, is a must.  They're your moments, and enjoying them is a responsibility you must take on in order to carry you through the lows life sometimes throws our way.

How you enjoy them depends on your personality.  Maybe you thank a higher power.  Or maybe you soak in the moment for a while.  Or you're an extrovert that verbally and visibly shows their excitement upon a major accomplishment.  Celebrate that promotion or new account you acquired by cracking open a cold one and hold on to that feeling.  Savor these moments; where you were, who you were with, how you felt, time of day/night, and as many of the details as you can.

There's a reason why we have this uncanny urge to video tape and record every exciting occasion we experience.  Our minds work the same way as any digital recorder.  Use it each day, if only for a minute or two, when something positive happens in your life or workplace.

Here's to having your cake, eating it too, and never forgetting the way it tastes!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Making Yourself Unforgettable

Selling is everything.  And everything is selling.  It's all around us, in every interaction, in every relationship, all of the time.  We're selling ourselves to a potential employer.  We're hired, and then we're selling our services to a potential client.  We work long hours, come home, and sell ourselves to our spouses on why we're home late.  Literally, every interaction is a version of a "sales call".  I sell, you sell, we all sell.

There's a good possibility that upon reading that YOU are selling yourself every single day, you felt a little gross - uncomfortable - maybe even slimy.  Here's why;  people love to buy, but hate to be sold.  The word "selling" carries this notion that someone was taken advantage of.  Being a sales professional myself, I'm quite aware of the negative weight that word carries.

Call it what you want, you're selling yourself.  Whether it's in a professional setting, trying to influence your ideas and beliefs to your boss or the company.  Or, in a more personal setting.  Maybe trying to sell your girlfriend or boyfriend on your future together.  Or your kids on studying more, or cleaning their rooms.

This is an area of my life that I find myself focusing on quite often as of late.  How well I can convey a message can make or break a relationship, a sale, an idea, etc.  Some are simple, yet rarely is it easy.

A friend of the family asked me the other day, "What is your purpose for writing?  What's your goal?"  I thought about it, and came to the conclusion that it's my personal platform to sell my ideas, beliefs, lessons learned through successes and failures, and daily challenges to the world.  Long answer, but that's the purpose.  Again, how well I do at selling the aforementioned will determine whether or not you continue to read, or I become a forgettable blogger.

Areas where making yourself unforgettable are key:

- Relationships:  whether it's with a spouse, partner, friend or family member - the strongest relationships will be the ones you invest the greatest amount of your attention, time and creativity in.  My personal goal:  be the worlds greatest son, brother, boyfriend and boss.  That's not easy - but it's worth it.

- Profession:  with unemployment at over 10%, and, in reality, probably closer to 15% nationwide you can no longer afford to be average or ordinary.  You need to stand out, and in a big way.  If you think that fancy card stock you put your resume on is enough, think again.  Even if you DO land the job, employers no longer have to "tolerate" mediocrity.  The talent pool is flush with individuals ready for you to slip, so they can slip in.

- Business:  things change so fast, you can't even be wrong for too long these days.  Clients are being tugged and pulled in all different directions by companies vying for their attention.  What are you doing to acquire more clients, and keep the ones you have?

Making yourself unforgettable is a big piece of the success puzzle, in my opinion.  It's also something that requires continuous effort.  Your spouse probably doesn't care about the flowers you bought them last year, or the card you gave them last V-Day.  Just like your boss probably already forgot about the overtime you put in last month.  Every day is a new opportunity to sell yourself to those around you.  Don't be afraid to strut your stuff, and watch as the people around you begin "buying" you in a big way!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Your Career Is In the Garbage

A while back I walked downstairs from my apartment to throw out the trash.  I open the recycling bin and sitting there, in all its glory, is someone's "Career In A Box".  In the midst of laughing and feeling remorse, I pull out my phone and made sure to capture this not-so-Kodak moment.

I honestly couldn't have staged it better myself.  There, among perishable items, is a filing cabinet that once held someones professional documents.  Or was it much more than that?  Was it their life-long ambitions?  Or their fantasy job?  Perhaps it was a part-time position just to make ends meet.  Or possibly, and most likely, one of several stops along this "opportunity hoppers" journey.

What did you want to be when you were a kid?  A firefighter?  A police officer?  An astronaut?  Or (like me) James Bond?  Whatever it was for this individual in particular, I'm sure as a youngster they didn't see themselves ever having to dispose of their career in a large yellow receptacle.

I knew that, eventually, and reluctantly, I would have to give up my dream of becoming a "Double-0".  However, my inner-Bond will always hold onto the belief that I will one day drive an Aston Martin.  And thankfully, I have been fortunate enough to find my version of a "Bond Girl" as well as owning several custom made suits.  I don't say that to brag. In fact, there's a good chance that a martini, regardless of it's shaken or stirred, would make me sick.  I've even given up on introducing myself as - "Stewart.  Jack Stewart".

I simply say it to encourage you to hold onto those same child-like dreams.  Deep down, there's still something that has to stir your soul, and even if it isn't something you do to pay the bills, don't neglect and ignore those dreams all together.

Go be a volunteer firefighter is that's what you dreamt about.  Donate your time to an animal shelter if you aspired to become a veterinarian as a kid.  Just because your career may be in the "garbage" doesn't mean you need to throw your dreams in there with it.  One door closes, and another opens.  Thats not just usually the case - it's ALWAYS the case.

Not to get too deep, but there's something powerful in this picture.  One person is "throwing away" what they once were excited about doing for a living.  However, nothing really disappears entirely.  It's just recycled.  Maybe the door that this individual closed, opens for someone meant for that position?  You never know what's going to happen tomorrow professionally, or personally.  But, like my mentor Jim Rohn use to say - "If there's hope for the future, than there's power in the present."  Simply put - no hope, no future.

Hang in there, and if nothing else, keep recycling until your goals, career, and dreams align!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Failure To Communicate

"What we've got here is a failure to communicate." ~ Cool Hand Luke (1967)

Add that to the list of famous lines that I use from movies created before I was put on this earth.  Just as that phrase has stood the test of time, so will our inability to accurately communicate everything we experience on a daily basis.  It's very difficult to truly be able to share what we're feeling inside with someone else.  It's like WE know what we're trying to say, but like a "male plug" into a "female socket", we can't make the connection.  Here's some more proof:

Actual writings on hospital charts
- "She has no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states that she was very hot in bed last night."
- "Patient says she has chest pain if she lays on her side for over a year."
- "On the second day the knee was better, and on the third it disappeared."
- "The patient is tearful and crying constantly.  She also appears to be depressed."
- "The patient has been depressed since she began seeing me in 1993."
- "Discharge Status:  Alive, but without my permission."
- "Patient had waffles for breakfast, and anorexia for lunch."
- "She is numb from the toes down."
- "Patient was alert and unresponsive."

Being able to effectively communicate how your feeling can not only increase the quality of your relationships, it can also, apparently, save your life.  There's nothing more frustrating than not being able to convey your feelings properly.  A big reason why it's so challenging:  there are two minds involved.

It takes us, as individuals, some amount of time to be able to process feelings, moods, experiences, circumstances, successes, losses, etc.  We have thousands upon thousands of thoughts going through our minds a day, and hardly enough time to figure out how we feel about each one of them individually.  As if that wasn't enough, we're then expected to be able to communicate these feelings with those closest to us, in our personal lives, and also our workplace.

Unless you're a tollbooth operator, your likely have an opinion valued by more than a few people.  Being able to communicate these opinions can be improved by following these seven steps:

1 - Be articulate:  Speak clearly, avoid mumbling, use simple, straight-forward words.
2 - Listen actively:  Communicating is a two-way street
3 - Be confident
4 - Be interesting:  listeners will reciprocate your emotions - show excitement, get excitement
5 - Stay on topic
6 - Use facial expressions consciously
7 - Communicate eye-to-eye

I can't guarantee this will save relationships or get you that next promotion, but it certainly can't hurt.

"I went to the bookstore and asked the salesperson, "Where's the self-help section?".  She said she'd like to help me, but if she did, it would defeat the purpose."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Give A Little, Get A Lot

Love is like....well.....it's kinda like......Chinese water torture.  But in a totally good way!  Obviously I'm not Dr. Phil, so let me try to explain myself....

Seemingly small, yet thoughtful gestures, can make a huge impact on your relationship over time.  We've all heard the saying "small things can add up", and it's more than true when it comes to relationships, of all types.  But especially when its with that special someone in your life.

I use to think that I needed to hit a "grand slam" with every gift I gave, or interaction I had, with my sweetheart.  First, it's not possible.  Secondly, I was placing too much unnecessary pressure on myself.  And finally, it seemed that the smaller gestures, that I often took for granted, or didn't think she really noticed, seemed to make the biggest impact.

After an arguement, a husband said to his wife, "You know what!? I was a FOOL when I married you!" She replied, "Yes, dear, but I was young and in love, and didn't notice."

Now most of you out there have more experience being "in love" in your pinky nail than I do through my entire make up.  But I found that even in our working relationships, people tend to work harder for PRAISES than for RAISES.  Being able to recognize and reward someone who goes out of there way, or does the right thing, or does something selfless, is a major step  towards creating healthy relationships.  Simply put, if you want more of a particular attitude or action around your work environment, start promoting and acknowledging it when it happens.

Its like training killer whales.  Ok, ok - I know I've now compared relationships to Chinese water torture and killer whales, but hear me out.  To train killer whales, they only reward and recognize them for doing what they WANT them to do.  They don't punish or condemn them.  Relationships are the same way.  Dale Carnegie said "In order for others to do what we want them to do, they must want to do it."  Point being, if we want to see more positive things coming our way from those nearest, we have to put them in a position to WANT to do it.

So, guys - open the car door, brush your teeth, iron your shirt, kiss her goodnight, make her dinner, leave her notes, buy her flowers, put the seat down, and make her a horribly corny mixtape if that's what she wants.  Ladies - compliment your guy for trying, unlock his side of the car door, brush your teeth, dress sexy for no reason, kiss him goodnight, leave him notes, and make him feel like a superhero.  Thanks babe!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Greatest Things Men Will Never Hear....

- Shouldn't you be at the bar with your buddies, dear?
- You're so sexy when you're hung over!
- If it's ok with you, I'd rather watch football today than go to the mall.
- I love it when you play golf on Sunday's.....I just wish you were able to play on Saturday's too.
- Your mother is so much better than mine!
- Do me a favor and skip this whole Valentines Day thing - go out and buy yourself some new clubs!
- Do you mind if I take the car in for an oil change this weekend?

What does this have to do with anything?  Not sure exactly, but I thought they were funny.....and this is about a quarter of what I actually read.  Most were slightly more "explicit" than the ones listed above.

It did make me think about the difference between the "Golden Rule" and the "Platinum Rule".  Most of us know of the Golden Rule - treat others how you would want to be treated.  It's a great rule, and will, no doubt, strengthen most of your relationships.

However, to take it to the next level, you must learn the Platinum Rule - treat others how THEY would want to be treated.  One thing that I've learned since working with so many different types of professionals, is that we're all different.  That goes for the workplace, and in our personal relationships as well.  Not to get too personal, but I've come to learn that there are certain things that I might be "ok" with that my significant other might take exception to - and vice-versa.

If I want that, or any relationship, to reach it's full potential, I need to be aware of how I'm treating the other person, and look at it more selflessly.  Sympathy means you can understand why they're feeling a certain way.  While empathy means you can relate to how they're feeling, because you yourself have felt that way.  It's a much deeper sense of feeling.  Obviously we're not always going to be able to show empathy, but when you can, you must!

Sometimes, because we've never walked in the other persons shoes before, we just aren't entirely sure when we toe the line, or in some cases cross it.  But, by not allowing yourself to hold a grudge, you always give yourself an opportunity to learn exactly where the other person is coming from.

If you have any past issues or grudges with someone in your life that you care about, revisit that relationship, and try to get a better understanding of how THEY want to be treated.  If it's within reason, and you're able to empathize with them, then mend that relationship and move on, together.

Us men, on the other hand, are naturally oblivious towards womens feelings.  We have as much of a chance of understanding women as we do reading Latin or teaching quantum physics.

So, I probably won some guys over with the statement above, as well as put added fear into any womens relationship.  Here's the good news - it's bullshit.  We're not oblivious, not all of us anyway.  The ones that don't care CHOOSE to be oblivious.  A relationship with your wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, boss, neighbor or all of the above (not sure if that's even technically possible), is completely dependent on your ability to connect with that person.

If you don't put in the effort to connect with the other individual, than you'll be doomed to sub-par and unfulfilling relationships that rarely reach their full potential, regardless of who's on the other end.  Trust me, I don't have this all figured out, and there are times where I still feel like I am from Mars. But, if I'm willing to learn about what actually goes on over there in Venus, then I begin to stack the odds in my favor.  In the meantime.....here's hoping we'll hear "No, no, no....go back inside, let me mow the lawn honey!"

Monday, October 24, 2011

Right Thing, Wrong Place - Getting Out of Balance

One of my favorite Andy Warhol quotes is, "I like to be the right thing in the wrong place, and the wrong thing in the right place.  Being the right thing in the wrong place and the wrong thing in the right place is worth it because something interesting always happens."

I'm often asked by our sales professionals, and even more so by our managers, about "balance".  "The bigger my team/business/responsibilities become, the harder it is to balance everything" is a common concern of professionals.  I also spend a lot of time talking and writing about the importance of living a balanced life when it comes to success.  I refer to it often as "The Four Cornerstones of Successful Living"

1) Health
2) Wealth
3) Profession & Purpose
4) Relationships

Success in one area does not equal success in other or all areas.  I truly believe that you need to focus your attention and energy in each of those areas in order to live a truly fulfilling life.  However, if we took each of those four "cornerstones" and focused on them individually, the subject of "balance" takes on a whole new meaning.

When I'm working with a sales professional or manager in a particular area of our business, which applies to most businesses, the fear of being unbalanced frequently comes up.  I hear things like, "I'm having a hard time trying to balance all of my responsibilities."  So, I ask a few questions, figure out where they are professionally, and how their business is progressing.  After a little digging, I come up with an answer that probably surprises the majority of the individuals on the receiving end.

I really believe that if you're in a "rut" professionally or even personally in life, you don't need to focus on getting better balance in that particular area.  What may most likely be the answer is getting OUT of balance.  I guess that's the same thing as suggesting we do something completely different from what we did to bring about our current circumstances.  Too many of us have gotten way too comfortable with our situations.

Having both feet planted firmly on the ground will not help if you happen to be standing in shit right now.  You need to MOVE, and the fact remains that most people are more comfortable with old problems than new solutions.  Getting completely out of balance, for even a short period of time, might completely change your perspective and help you see a problem from a new point of view.

When I read that Andy Warhol quote it reminds me that we spend sooooo much time trying to figure out how to be the "right" person at the "right" time, in the "right" place.  Well, you might as well be waiting for the stars to align themselves, ducks to get in a row, all of your fires to be put out, and bridges to be burned.  Give it up. Stop with the cheesy cliches.  It's not going to happen.....ever.  The timing will never be just right, and change is going to be uncomfortable.....probably painfully uncomfortable at times.

We all know the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.  Tired of your relationships falling apart? Try something drastically different.  Feel like your health is heading in the wrong direction?  Start a training regimen completely different from what you've been doing. We need that resistance in order for us to grow.  The "one-step back, two steps forward" approach is  better than "one step back, one step back, one step back, one step...." you get the idea.

Go get uncomfortably out of balance in an area you feel you're falling short in.

Similar to "muscle confusion" when working out, a new way or approach towards a problem might be the answer!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Living Like A Mental "Little Person"

That's the politically correct way of referring to someone who is a mental midget.  Someone who's thinking has shrunk far beyond what it once was.  The top 10% of the population control 93% of our countries wealth, with the top 1% controlling 42% of that!  When it comes to success in life, you must be "this" tall to ride this ride, and those height requirements START at colossal and grow from there.

It may seem like nearly every book I reference is "one of my favorites", but this one truly is on my shorter list of "if I was stranded on an island....." list - The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Shwartz.  He quotes Michelangelo right out of the gates when he writes "The problem with most men is not that they aim too high and miss, it's that they aim too low and hit."

There is an epidemic running rampant throughout workplaces and within relationships, and that epidemic is called contentment.  I'm not suggesting that we be ungrateful for what we have in life, but if you're sick of something, or you wish something were better, or even just different, stop settling for what you have.  The "well, this is just the way it is" way of thinking is getting us nowhere, and only more of what we already have.

The culprit behind this epidemic is me, myself and I.  Or in your case, you, yourself....and.....you again.  That's the good news!  Good because we can control our thinking, and we can remove ourselves from our own self-inflicted ruts.  So, if you don't like your weight, think healthier thoughts, put a plan of action behind it and get to sweating.  If you can't see yourself in a healthier light, I can guarantee that you'll remain unhealthily in the dark.  If you're not satisfied with where you are professionally, start thinking larger, like you're the CEO of "You Inc." and go to work making your company the best it can be.

I'm not talking about naive Ra-Ra type self-talk though.  I'm talking about cultivating bigger and better thoughts inside of that brain of yours, and using it as a catalyst towards getting you from where you are to where you want to be.  It starts, and unfortunately for many of us, it also ends with the size of our thinking.

One of the worst thought constrictors that exists today are those closest to us.  Friends, co-workers and family members that aren't thinking the same sized thoughts that you are, and can't fathom; loosing 25 pounds; saving a million dollars for retirement; traveling to Europe; getting out of debt, etc. etc. One of the most important, and equally as difficult, tasks you must tackle on your road to success is separating yourself from those who want to keep you on the kiddie rides in life.  I strongly suggest that you grab your mallet, let them be the mole, and go and get your whack-a-mole on!

I once read that if Bill Gates were walking down the street, and dropped a $100 bill, it would actually COST him more money to bend down and pick it up, than it would to just leave it and continue on his wealthy way!!  Ok, his thinking is probably a little more robust than the average persons is, as are his results.  That's the point.  Think bigger and you might start being inspired to grow bigger, achieve more and go from being a mental midget (not meant to offend) to someone who thinks in gargantuan proportions!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pain vs. Pain

This is important.  I'd like to think that all of my postings are important, and to me at least, they are.  But this.....this is crucial to success.

Choose to live with the pain of discipline over the pain of regret.

Read that a few times if need be, memorize it if possible.  It's that important.  There's going to be challenges one way or the other.  Going through the junkyard on the way to achievement is a required part of the process.  Whether you come out the other end covered in the sweet smell of success will be entirely dependent on your decisions.

Those who are lacking in the discipline department will surely be forced to live with the pain of regret, which is exponentially worse!  Let's talk about discipline and why it's such a key factor when it comes to your accomplishment.

Dictionary.com defines the word discipline as - 1) training to act in accordance with rules; drill   2) activity, exercise or regimen that develops or improves a skill; training

The word regimen is the word that jumps out to me.  A regimented plan geared towards getting you closer to your goals is the first step towards actually accomplishing them.  It's the discipline and stick-to-it-tiveness that will actually bring them to fruition though.  Simply put, if you have a serious goal, no discipline means no chance.

Obviously the larger the goal, the more discipline is required.  I'd venture a guess that the percentage of people who've actually completed the entire 3 month P90X workout program is pretty low.  However, there's probably millions of people who've completed the P20X workout program.......which doesn't exist.  For different, and most likely justified (according to them) reasons, most people lack the discipline to see worthwhile goals through to completion.

Tomorrow I'll be writing about how to have the perseverance to accomplish your biggest goals, and what you can take away from those who give up or give in.  But for now, understand that the goal you aren't committed to is no different than the goal you never set to begin with.

Regret is a feeling that we all can relate to.  We've all, at one point or another, experienced the pain of regret.  One of my favorite quotes comes from Sydney Harris, who says, "Regret for the things that we did can be tempered over time; it's the regret for the things that we didn't do that is inconsolable."

The worst kind of pain we can feel is the pain of realizing that whatever regrettable situation we may be in right now, be it poor health, finances, relationships, etc, could have been avoided.  Sometimes shit, for lack of a better word, happens unavoidably.  Guess what, that's also our fault.  When we take full responsibility over our actions and results, disciplining ourselves to improve our circumstances becomes the only and obvious answer.

If you have to feel pain one way of the other, make a decision to go through the pain of discipline over the pain of regret.  Like I've said before, it's not always easy, but it's certainly worth it!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Doing It In The Morning

I can't help it, it's just better in the morning.  Don't get me wrong, I have no argument against doing it in the afternoon or evening either.  Honestly, any time that I can get a quick session in does my mind and body some good.

I know not everyone is able to do it in the morning, but there are so many reasons why you should at least try.  Your mind is more alert and fresh in the morning, first of all.  There's nothing like starting off your crazy, hectic and stressful day with something that will surely make you smile and take your mind off of all the other "noise".

Your attitude also changes immensely.  I find that by spending just a small amount of time doing it, say a 5 or 10 minute quickie, your outlook towards any daily challenges become more positive.  And why wouldn't they!?  

To me, nothing is more exciting than being able to do it in the morning, attack the rest of my day, come home, have dinner, and know that there's a very good possibility that I'll get to do it again!  I really can't think of many other better ways to start and end my day!

READING has been a huge part of my success in life; professionally, health wise, financially, and, yes....relationally.  A popular saying is "Experience is the best teacher."  I don't agree with that statement.  In my opinion, someone ELSES experience is the best teacher.  There's simply not enough time in 10 lifetimes for you or I to figure it all out.  We need to divulge as much information from others who have dedicated ten, twenty, even thirty or more years studying different areas of success in life.  It's our only hope of getting the most out of ours.

At least twenty-five percent of Americans did not read a single book in it's entirety last year!  Fourteen percent of US adults actually don't know HOW to read!  Reading is beneficial for so many reasons, and now would be as important of a time as ever for us to start.  The economy is in the tank, and unemployment is running rampant throughout the country.  If you don't equip yourself with some new knowledge, you'll be passed ten times over, eventually becoming too antiquated to work in the same field you started in.

There's a saying, "Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers."  Throughout the course of my interaction with a new sales professional, one of the first bits of information I'm trying to uncover is what, if anything, they are currently reading.  It may seem silly, but nearly every top sales and business professional at our organization has a tenacious reading habit.  It's beneficial to you in nearly every area.

Studies even show that readers volunteer, attend sporting events and the arts, do outdoor activities and exercise at higher rates than non-readers do.  Show me someone succeeding in different areas in life, and I'll show you someone who has a great reading habit that's STILL getting better!

Start slow if you need to - maybe a chapter a day, or even for 10-15 minutes.  And don't read just anything.  Read something beneficial to you in one of the "Four Corners of Successful Living":  Health, Wealth, Profession and Purpose, and Relationships.  You may like James Patterson, but he's not going to help you earn that next promotion, or show you how to connect with your spouse on a deeper level.  

This time of year is perfect to pick up a new book, especially with winter right around the corner.  It's probably "crunch time" mixed in with some days off.  Use these upcoming vacation days as a time to recharge while continuing to develop yourself in different areas.  Focus on, as Jim Rohn says, "Goal achieving activities versus tension relieving activities."


Friday, October 14, 2011

Would I Like To Hear the Specials??!!

Uh, YES!  And yes to the following: drinks, appetizers, entrees, dessert and coffee.  Yes, it's Friday, and that means it's FoodDay where I come from.  If my math is correct, it's been exactly seven days since the last Friday, and it could not have come a second sooner.  It's been a long week full of contract negotiations, reading, writing, researching, signing up for Twitter (finally!  @ Jack_Stewart3), updating websites and blogs, working with and training sales professionals, etc. etc. etc.

Don't feel sorry for me though, because today is when it ALL becomes worthwhile!  Today is when I go on my forty-eight hour meal bender, and this mild mannered CEO transforms into a food fiend.

Some people look forward to a good movie, or Sunday night football, maybe a walk on the beach......I eat.  Now, you may be wondering about whether or not this approach is a healthy one.  And I wouldn't blame or fault you for wondering if the gentleman writing this piece has the physique that resembles a dump truck more than a Ferrari.  So, allow me to reintroduce myself and hopefully cure your curiosity.....

Ok, I'm the one in the middle.  The other two.....are not my parents.  They are an absolutely amazing husband/wife or wife/husband team that waited on me at my favorite restaurant of ALL TIME, Victoria & Albert's at the Grand Floridian in Orlando, FL. Those two are nothing short of incredible; amazing professionals who've turned waiting tables into an artform, while working side-by-side at a Five Diamond Restaurant (one of only 50 in the US) for nearly 30 years!

               Complete List of AAA Five Diamond Restaurants Here

Here's what I've come to learn about this two-day snacking spree - it's worth the discipline.  A common theme in my writing is that life isn't always going to be easy (newsflash!).  Our decisions, especially the most important ones, are not always going to be easy.  However, if we discipline ourselves to do the things that we know we're suppose to do, when we're suppose to do them - it's just worth it!

Now before anyone starts with the - "My metabolism retired when I turned 30" talk.....or (my personal favorite) "My bones are inherently large thanks to my third cousins grand-uncle who was a decedent of the Vikings" - let me say that metabolism is a reflection of your fitness, and your bones are basically the same size as Sarah Jessica Parkers'.

I'm not saying everyone should go and start working out 5 days a week and get in better shape so that they can go eat whatever the hell they want.  But I am suggesting that you go and start working out 5 days a week and get in better shape.  Why you do it, or what motivates you to become physically fit is totally up to you.

Don't wait for the timing to be just right.  Don't wait for something terrible to happen to your health that forces you to have to get in better shape.  Just start now.  Start jogging for 30 minutes every morning, or before dinner.  Get an elliptical machine or a mountain bike and put it to use.  Start now, today, and before you know it, working out will become habitual.  Studies say that after 21 days, just three weeks, working out will actually become something you look forward to doing each day.

Whether it's for your kids, your family, your career, your personal well-being or because you want to spend two days eating bacon, pork, lobster, red meat, white meat, and any other meat that's put in front of you.....do like the great, famous American philosopher.....Michael Jordan....and JUST DO IT!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Speed of Light.....

....is faster than the speed of sound.  Which is why some people seem bright, until they speak.

It's not just about what you say, but how you say it.  However, what we're saying may not be helping our cause either.  In four years of building my business, one of the most important skills that I've had to learn had little to do with speaking, and nearly everything to do with listening.

Learning about someone or getting to know them is a futile effort if we can't keep our traps shut.  Success in business boils down to relationships.  Successful relationships boils down to your ability to connect with the other person.  Connections begin and end with listening.  The old saying goes, "God made us with two ears and one mouth for a reason".

"We aren't in the coffee business, serving people.  We're in the people business, serving coffee."
      ~ Nabi Saleh (co-owner of Gloria Jeans Coffees)

We process thoughts at about ten times the speed we're able to voice them.  A large part of connecting with people has to do with quieting our minds, and giving our full attention to them.  That means; not thinking about our response; taking in the entire conversation; letting it process and putting yourself in their shoes; showing empathy for their situation.  It's not easy, and it certainly takes practice.

Near the top of my list of "Annoying Personal Habits I Need To Nix" was - always giving my opinion after the other individual was through speaking.  Sometimes people want advice.  Sometimes they just want to vent.  You'll know when your two cents are warranted and when you need to just lend an ear.

Becoming a better listener allows you to:
- Build better, stronger relationships
- Learn and retain more information
- Show a genuine interest in others
- Avoid miscommunication and save time
- Build self-esteem in others

The only time selective hearing or miscommunicating works to your benefit:

Morris, an 82 year old man, went to the doctors to get a physical.  A few days later the doctor noticed Morris walking down the street with a gorgeous young woman on his arm.  Later that week the doctor phoned Morris and said, "Morris, I saw you walking down the street the other day and you seemed to be in such great spirits!"  Morris says, "Thanks Doc, just doing what you said: Get a hot momma and be cheerful."  The doctor says, "I didn't say that.  I said you have a heart murmur, be careful."

In John Maxwell's "Everyone Communicates, Few Connect" he references three questions that people are frequently asking about you:

  1. Do you care for me?
  2. Can you help me?
  3. Can I trust you?
To connect more with others whether at your workplace, home, community, church, etc. become a world-class listener, find out what others are truly interested in by asking more questions, listen more, and work on giving your advice and opinions at the right time or when asked.  Just another one of those principles that sound easy, and are anything but that.  It takes patience and practice.  The positive is that you'll start seeing immediate improvements in your ability to connect with others, and your efforts will not go unnoticed!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

And The Winner Is.....

Attitude and activity!!!  All things being equal, those with the best attitude and most activity usually win.  All things not being equal, those with the best attitude and most activity STILL usually win.

I can't speak on behalf of all industries, but I think it's safe to say that the majority of fields are being led by driven, motivated and positive individuals.  So, let's break this down into two parts....


Ok, so for the few that didn't immediately close out of this page upon reading "attitude", let me give my two cents on why having the proper attitude is so extremely important.  So important, that I've consistently asked my managers to "hire for attitude, and train for skill".

Now, I understand that approach won't work in every industry, i.e. doctors, engineers, etc.  Some industries allow you to be a social cripple if your skill sets are strong enough. Talent, sometimes, will overshadow an average attitude or poor approach towards your career.

"There are really only two dimensions to the concept of attitude - you either behave as though you are a victim of circumstance, or you take full responsibility for your situation." ~ Richard Rudd

The first step to an improved attitude, speaking from personal experience, is taking total and complete ownership over your situation.  Understand and accept that nobody is going to come and rescue you.  No one is coming to save your day.  I'm not suggesting to turn your back on help, I'm saying you, and you alone, will be the one crawling and clawing your way out of whatever situation you may be in.

Once you accept that, stop worrying, and direct your energy and efforts towards finding a solution, the tides immediately turn in your favor.

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used to create them." ~ Albert Einstein

Attitude may not be EVERYTHING.....but's it's pretty close.  And it's not something you do once, and toss it to the side.  It's not spare change that you can use when convenient.  It's your only form of currency.  You either invest it properly and see huge returns, or you foolishly neglect it and squander it away.  It's like a muscle - work it out and it grows stronger.


You have a better chance of acting your way into feeling, than you do of feeling your way into action.  If I had a dollar for every time I've heard someone say, "As soon as I take care of "this", I'll start "that" - I'd have about $16.  Still, I know we've all compartmentalized tasks into either/or.  Someone is always getting ready to get ready.

I'm hot for motivation.  However, when I was 20 years old, I read something that rocked my naive world.  I wish I remembered where I read it, or who wrote it, but here's the gist.....

Motivation does NOT work.  Only YOU do.  Stop waiting to be motivated into action, and just start acting.  It's the small successes that come from forward movement and progression that will get your juices flowing and help you become more and more motivated by the moment.

See, I was holding onto this belief that "something" I read, experienced or saw (cars, vacations, homes, etc.) would stir my soul into making me WANT to working hard.  Which DOES work.......temporarily.  It wears off the second you accomplish it, or realize that it's unattainable.  It also means that you're constantly in a start-stop state of mind.

When I realized that if I just started working, it would create this internal energy and excitement that would propel me into accomplishing more and more, everything changed.

The old saying, "Objects at rest tend to stay at rest, and objects in motion tend to stay in motion" is likely the most accurate comparison I know of in regards to action and motivation.

Simple, be positive, and start now.  It's not always going to be easy, but if you're working on something you're passionate about, that you feel is purposeful, it will always be worth it!

In no way is this meant to be "preachy".....I write this for me, because I can internalize it when I write it, read it and share it.  If you take anything at all from any of this, I'm glad I shared.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Most Interesting Man In The World

My favorite commercial running right now is the Dos Equis "Most Interesting Man In The World" commercials.  The one liners are hysterical.  The actor is perfect.  The videos are randomly hilarious.  It works.  Period.

What does "TMIMITW" (sorry it's way too long to type repeatedly) have to do with anything?  Well, beyond the actor himself, the commercials are memorable.  In today's challenging and competitive marketplace its ALL about being remembered, and making an impression.  Dale Carnegie has an amazing audio program that anyone, from any walk of life or profession could benefit from, titled "Make Yourself Unforgettable".

Yesterday I posted a blog on what I considered to be the "Four Cornerstones of a Successful Life" :
  1. Health
  2. Wealth
  3. Career and Purpose
  4. Relationship
....not in that particular order.  To improve in these areas, there are two approaches we can take; first, start doing something, consciously, in each of those four areas that will have a positive impact on them. Secondly, figure out what you should STOP doing in those areas that would also have a positive impact on them.  We spend so much time thinking about what "new" direction we can head in.  Sometimes it's not about something that you could be doing that you're not. It may be more about something you're already doing, that you need to stop.

I want to be memorable in the most important areas of living a successful life.  I hope, that when my time on Earth is up, those who knew me, and knew of me, say things like.....

"If he were to pat you on the back, you would list it on your resume."

"He's won trophies for his game face alone."

"His parents were named after him."

"He's won the lifetime achievement award.....twice."

"He is the life of parties he's never even attended."

"If he were to punch you in the face, you'd have to fight off the urge to thank him."

"His beard alone has experienced more than a lesser mans body."

"He can clean soap with his hands."

"His personality is so magnetic, he is unable to carry credit cards."

"He never says anything tastes like chicken......not even chicken."

"He is the only person to ever ace a Rorschach Test."

"He's a lover, not a fighter.  But he's also a fighter....so don't get any ideas."

"People hang on his every word.....even the prepositions."

 "Even his enemies list him as their emergency contact person."

"He speaks fluent French, in Russian."

"His charm is so contagious, vaccines were created for it."

"He lives vicariously  through himself."

"He's been known to cure narcolepsy just by walking into a room."

"He once compared apples to oranges, and it resulted in a very popular adult beverage."

"He once thought he was wrong.....that was the only time he was wrong."

"The contents of his taco refuse to fall out."

In no way is this meant to be "preachy".....I write this for me, because I can internalize it when I write it, read it and share it.  If you take anything at all from any of this, I'm glad I shared.

Monday, October 10, 2011

True Success Is About Symmetry

What would you do for $86,000,000?  What would you sacrifice?  A relationship.....your health.....a limb??

During my regularly scheduled, pre-coffee dog walk this morning I witnessed something that struck a chord with me.  Two elderly retirees, dressed in full work out gear, carrying yoga mats, paid a visit to the next-door neighbors house, bright and early.  Though it was much too early for me to interact with anyone in spandex in their mid-80's, I couldn't help but overhear their brief conversation with the neighbor.

"Hey!!  Goooooooooodddd  morniiiiiiinnnnnggg!  You ready??"

"Oh....hi.......no, sorry ladies, I'm not feeling too swell today."

"Awwwwww, we're sorry to hear that! Well, feel better!"

......and off they went.....most likely gossiping and speculating en route to an intense 8 minute workout.

Seems pretty straight-forward, right?  Probably shouldn't take too much from that conversation, but it did get me to thinking.  You work your entire life, you pinch pennies here and there, you put in your time for 25-30 years.  Finally, it's time to enjoy it, and your limited because of health issues.  Is it worth it?

Is it worth investing in.....

- Your professional life, at a sacrifice to your health?
- Your health, at a sacrifice to your professional life?
- Your financial well-being, at a sacrifice to your relationships?

The four corners of a "successful life", in my opinion, include:
  1. Health
  2. Wealth
  3. Career & Purpose
  4. Relationships
Throughout our lives we seem to shift our focus from one of those areas to the next, but rarely an equal amount of attention, at once, on all four.  It may sound simple, but it's not.  Have you ever been so destitute financially that you can't focus on anything accept your next pay check?  How could we possibly give our health or relationships the attention it deserves if we're just trying to keep our lights on?

The answer is, we can't.

Or in such poor health that you nearly lost everything you've worked so hard for?? 

If a balanced and symmetrical life is the goal, we must give it equal amounts of effort.  We've all met people who are successful in one area and failing miserably in another.  This disproportion prevents us from living a completely fulfilling and harmonious life.  

Grade yourself on those four areas.  I would start with relationships.  Solid, stable and rewarding relationships seem to be a great catalyst for me in working towards succeeding in the other three areas of life.  But be open. Stay open.  And seek out honest opinions from those closest to you.

How are you doing professionally, financially, relationally and in regards to your health.  Then put a plan in place to counterbalance each of those, and be sure to give all four areas a little TLC each day.

In no way is this meant to be "preachy".....I write this for me, because I can internalize it when I write it, read it and share it.  If you take anything at all from any of this, I'm glad I shared

Thursday, October 6, 2011

No Cure For Creativity

Maybe you won't personally be effected, and maybe I won't personally be effected, but the next person WILL be.  Statistically speaking, forty-one percent of Americans will be stricken with some form of cancer.  It's all around us, and literally every few seconds someone else is hearing the same words Steve Jobs likely heard 8 years ago, almost to the day - "You have cancer".

Unfortunately, more people than we know have heard those dreaded words.  Millions of people know what it's like, including my father, who passed away on August 10th, of this year.  We tend to forget about the breadth of this disease until it touches someone close to us, or, when it takes someone famous.  Today, when you turn on your iMac, iPad, iPod or even turn on a Disney/Pixar movie for your children, think of and thank Steve Jobs.

Jimmy Valvano said it best, "Cancer can take away all my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever."

Though there is no cure YET for cancer, there's also no cure from keeping the creative creating, the successful from succeeding, the unselfish from giving, and the loving from sharing that love.

Thank you to:

  • Patrick Swayze for some of the all-time chick flicks, and making nearly every girlfriend I've ever had consider changing her status from "in a relationship" to "single" from just a snippet of Ghost or Dirty Dancing.
  • Earl Woods for helping mold the greatest golfer, and arguably athlete of my generation.  Your battle with prostate cancer inspired your son, and millions more.
  • Peter Jennings for bringing news in a way that no one else did.  
  • Humphrey Bogart who I've convinced myself I was in another life.
  • Michael Douglas, for battling back, and holding the #1 spot on my favorite actor list since seeing Wallstreet at 16 years old.
  • Bob Marley
  • Ronald Reagan
  • Walt Disney for creating the happiest place on Earth, and inspiring me to build something bigger than myself.
  • Nelson Mandela, for fighting against inequality and colon cancer, and defeating both.
This was a spur of the moment posting, so I'm sure there are, unfortunately, many other cancer victims and survivors that have inspired you, as the ones listed above have inspired me.  Again, it's all around us, and though there are no cures, there are things you can do to reduce your risk and exposure to this dreaded disease, here are the top 7, as listed by Mayo Clinic:

  1. Don't use tobacco
  2. Eat a healthy diet
  3. Maintain a healthy weight and include physical activity in your daily routine
  4. Protect yourself from the sun
  5. Get immunized
  6. Avoid risky behaviors
  7. Take early detection seriously
In no way is this meant to be "preachy".....I write this for me, because I can internalize it when I write it, read it and share it.  If you take anything at all from any of this, I'm glad I shared.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How Do You Eat Bugs?

Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you did each morning was eat a live frog, you could go through the entire day with the satisfaction of knowing that was the WORST thing that could happen.  His point was to get your biggest task, problem or issue out of the way. Don't procrastinate. Tackle it head-on.

Brian Tracy took it several steps further in his book "Eat That Frog".  He says, "If you wake up, and have to eat two frogs, eat the biggest ugliest one first."  Time management remains one of the most popular topics in the business world, as well as our day-to-day lives.  We're constantly looking for ways to squeeze a little more out of a twenty-four hour day.  I would strongly recommend reading Brian Tracy's book, as well as "First Things First" by Stephen Covey.  Both give great insight on how control our schedules, and understanding that it's not just about how many hours we put in, but what we put into those hours.

Last night I had the "pleasure" of eating bugs for the first time.  No, that wasn't a typo, and yes, I did it willingly and intentionally.  In my defense, it was for a good cause, and they were all prepared by an amazing chef at an even more amazing restaurant.  Some of the items on the menu were sushi rolls and stir-fry with SIX different types of worms, tempura fried meal worms, and even chocolate "chirp" cookies topped with crickets.

I noticed something interesting while dozens of people around us tried stomaching these creepy crawlies. Some people had a problem with the texture, and some took issue with them being visible, or the size of the bugs.  But I didn't hear a single complaint over the taste of the actual bugs.  It got me thinking as to why I personally had no problem throwing back the insect stuffed sushi roll and slimy stir-fry, but had a near meltdown at the sight of a huge cricket sitting atop a chocolate chip cookie?

The more I thought about it, the more I began to associate it to how we tackle our problems on a daily basis.  Some of us worry more from over-thinking tasks, than the tasks themselves.  We start mentally listing all of the items on the list, and end up feeling so overwhelmed by the number of tasks, that we don't know where to even start.  We begin to suffer from "paralysis by analysis".

Or, maybe there's one glaring challenge staring you in the face.  It's the proverbial "elephant in the room" that prevents us from focusing on anything else until this one, singular task is completed. This is more my style.  I feel like rather than tackling multiple things at once, I'd rather eat the biggest, ugliest frog first.

There's more than one way to eat bugs, and there's more than one way to tackle the challenges that each day serves us. Some of us are more methodical, and like to map out a game plan of how to tackle each issue prior to starting.  Others are like a bull in a China shop.  Just stay out of their way until everything is off their list.

Eat That Frog - Video (1:29 in length)

If you feel like things could be run more smoothly and efficiently, start making a list of daily tasks, and try going after the biggest most pressing issues first.  Trust me, nothing is worse than sitting there staring at cookie that's staring at you and and trying to strategize on how you are going to not just get it down, but keep it down.  Sometimes our daily agenda will feel the same way - stop thinking, and down the hatch!  It'll be over before you know it!

In no way is this meant to be "preachy".....I write this for me, because I can internalize it when I write it, read it and share it.  If you take anything at all from any of this, I'm glad I shared.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Like Shooting Crabs In a Bucket

It's doubtful any person alive today has actually ever shot "fish in barrel", but it's very likely that you've had an itch to shoot crabs in a bucket.  Confused?  That's natural.  As was I, so let me explain....

The idea is that when you throw a bunch of crabs in a bucket, all of them will try to climb out.  In doing so, they only end up pulling each other back down into the bucket, preventing any of them from reaching the top.  The connection has been made between crabs in a bucket and office environments for decades.

I think it also extends to other areas of life, outside of the workplace, and when it comes to most of our relationships.  John Maxwell describes this as "the elevator principal".  Every person you come in contact with has the ability to either lift you up, or bring you down.  As do you and I.  Another analogy is that we each have a bucket (this one being crab-less), and this bucket is full of water.  Every interaction you have gives the other individual the opportunity to either add water, or subtract water.

So why would you want to shoot crabs in a bucket?  Because they, whether knowingly or unknowingly, refuse to allow others around them to succeed and reach the top.  We all know misery loves company, but those of us seeking success can't stand the negative nay-sayers of the world, and there's times we'd rather see them belly up next to a side of melted butter.

Its been said that five years from now we will be an accumulation of; the books we read; the programs and seminars we listen to or attend; and the people we surround ourselves with.  In order to achieve and accomplish more we must distance ourselves from these complaining crustaceans.  Some of you may be in a position where you simply have no other option but to interact with crabs on a regular basis, say at your workplace.

You have two options:  help them get better, or you get better.  Only you can decide how much you're willing to invest in another co-worker.  If you feel that by attempting to transform this crab into an angel fish, you'll help better the company, as well as feel good about helping someone, then go for it!  If you feel you'd be taking away from what you should be doing, or that they're not willing to change themselves anyway, get to shooting!  Not literally, of course.....just focus your energy and efforts on yourself, and continuing to improve your skill-sets and attitude.

We need to be aware of who we're surrounding ourselves with, outside of work as well.  There may be people in your life, going nowhere, and are perfectly content being bottom-feeders the rest of their lives.  Let them do that, let them be.  But do not allow them to throw their anchor into your ship.  They're not going to  take much satisfaction in your accomplishments anyway, and as difficult as it may be, it will be better for you in the long run to just cut bait.

Ok, so it's way too early in the morning for me to be craving seafood.  Is it weird that I'm wearing a bib as  I type this?  Sure, shooting fish in a barrel is suppose to be easy, but shooting crabs in a bucket is much more rewarding.  Happy hunting!

In no way is this meant to be "preachy".....I write this for me, because I can internalize it when I write it, read it and share it.  If you take anything at all from any of this, I'm glad I shared

Monday, October 3, 2011

It's My Fault That It's My Fault

The word "proud' is defined as "feeling pleasure or satisfaction over something regarded as highly honorable or creditable to oneself".

As the world shrinks, customers become smarter and better informed.  Potential clients and buyers no longer have to "take our word for it".  They are capable now, more than ever before, to come to their own conclusions and buying decisions.  Sales and business professionals have become advisers above all else.

This means the playing field has leveled out.  Professionals and customers are now much more closely related.  The business-to-customer totem pole has been kicked over on it's side.  If I'm interested in a product, I seek information regarding that product, and then I consult with a professional.  If I don't like the individual, I immediately cut bait, and look for someone else.  The saying "It's not personal, it's just business" is antiquated and no longer accurate in today's marketplace.  It's ALL personal!

It's gone from No Tech/High Touch, to High Tech/Low Touch, to where we must be now - High Tech/High Touch.

Best selling author and business leadership expert, Marshall Goldsmith, talks often about the importance of not accepting your faults or negative behaviors.  The only thing that's worse than that, in my opinion, is when we not only accept our debilitating behaviors, but we wear them like badges of honor!  We attempt to spin our faults into favors, and nobody is buying it....especially customers!

Some noticeable faults that we try to take pride in that effects our businesses, as well as our professional and personal lives.

  •  Poor Punctuality:  regularly running late and thinking it's acceptable to those around you because you're "busy".  In the business world maybe your time is more valuable than the next guys, but in relationships, you'll go much further if you start placing greater importance on their schedule and time.
  • Interrupting:  This leaves the impression that whatever you have to say is more important than what the other person is already saying.  Quickest way to lose a customer:  devalue what's important to them.  What's important to them?  Easy.  Whatever they're saying.
  • Lazyness:  I wasn't alive in the 70's, so I'm not sure what "chill out" means exactly.  I do know that it's 2011, and people don't respect someone that doesn't take life seriously.  I'm not saying to be a stick in the mud, but please, stop being a bump on a log.
  • Over Opinionated:  Sometimes (which is most of the time) the best thing you can do is give your opinion when actually asked for your opinion.  Next time, instead of answering a question that wasn't asked, try actually asking one!
  • Selfishness:  Continue focusing on #1, and you'll find yourself surrounded with less than that when all is said and done.
  • Arrogance:  "What's that?  You can bench press HOW MUCH??"  "Pleeeassseee tell me more about how incredible you are!"  "Wait, let me grab something to write with.......ok, start over, you played quarterback in high school..... and what did you say happened between then, and when you were telling me about how much better my life would be if I had children and was married?" 

There are many more I'm sure you could think of as well:  temper, stubbornness, rudeness, etc.  The point is, we all have faults that have probably become habitual at this point.  We know we possess them, but rather than invest the effort to kick these habits, we pretend we're proud of them.  I'm not saying to not be proud of who you are, but, if you read the definition of "proud" again, you'll see it clearly says "feeling satisfaction of something that is considered highly honorable".  Do yourself, your business, and those closest to you a favor, and change something that you SHOULDN'T be proud of.

Personally, I once thought being hard headed and insensitive was a great business trait.  News flash:  It's not.  I learned that the hard way, but the point is, I learned.  And as long as we're willing to keep learning, we will continue to give ourselves an opportunity to change, grow and improve our quality of life.

In no way is this meant to be "preachy".....I write this for me, because I can internalize it when I write it, read it and share it.  If you take anything at all from any of this, I'm glad I shared.