Thursday, October 27, 2011

Give A Little, Get A Lot

Love is'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'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, 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. 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 like the great, famous American philosopher.....Michael Jordan....and JUST DO IT!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Speed of Light..... 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 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??"

", 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.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Short Course In Human Relations

Ahhhh, Saturday.  A day meant for relaxation and recharging.....theoretically.  Normally by now I'm head first in the middle of some business/motivational/leadership book making over-embellished claims of changing my life and everything and everyone that crosses my path.

So as I sit here waiting on my girlfriend to finish getting ready for an engagement party we're attending (like I said....theoretically), I started thinking of what the best bit of advice was that I took from a book over this past week, that we could all put into play immediately.

The more I read and study people, the more I realize that success, more or less, all boils down to relationships and our ability to influence others.  This posting from John Maxwell's Relationships 101 resonated as much as anything I came across this week.

A short course in human relations:

The least important word: I
The most important word: WE
The two most important words: THANK YOU
The three most important words: ALL IS FORGIVEN
The four most important words: WHAT IS YOUR OPINION?
The five most important words: YOU DID A GOOD JOB
The six most important words: I WANT TO UNDERSTAND YOU BETTER

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.