Sunday, May 31, 2009

How Strong Is Your Network?

How strong is your network?

How much do you rely on your network to benefit you, either personally or in business?

I have a friend who started a business / social networking group that was designed to help his friends and family market their businesses (as well as his own). His motto was "People prefer to buy from people they know and trust." So he built a network of his friends and family and brought them together - weekly.

It worked really well . . . for him. But no one else really gained from the network like he did. It wasn't his fault. Because it wasn't "his job" to network for everyone else - that was their own job. But no one else in the group really understood what he knew in his soul - it's not just about showing up at networking events, it's about what you do in between the events that builds the trust needed to tap into the power of networking.

I don't care if you are going to Chamber of Commerce Business Card Exchanges, attending networking groups like LeTip or BNI, leveraging the power of Social Media (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc), it doesn't matter who big your network is. What matters is how many of those people actually trust you. And how many of those people are willing to act on your behalf to support your vision / mission.

It's NOT Just A Numbers Game

Truth is Numbers will get you started, but they won't get you nearly as far as developing quality relationships built on real interaction.

You can have a 1000 friends on Facebook or in your CRM database, but if you haven't interacted with them in the past couple weeks or months, your networking isn't even half as strong as someone who has 50 friends that he connects with daily or even weekly.

Think about it. What if you have some money that you want to invest, but don't know what to do. Who are you more likely to listen to?

- The celebrity that comes on the TV and tells you to buy Gold.
- The Salesman that cold calls you last night and tries to sell you a timeshare in South Carolina.
- Your cousin, who is a Wall Street Stock Broker, that you see once every three years who has a hot tip for you.
- Or your personal banker, who calls at least once a week to discuss your position and that you actually have a personal relationship with who tells you to buy a 3 yr CD, because the market is too risky right now.

In the past, you might be tempted to follow any of the first three, because their messages might not be drowned out in a sea of other marketing messages. But in today's world, now more than ever, most people are going to trust their personal banker - not because he knows more, or is more ocnservative - but because there is a relationship there that goes beyond the money.

Networking Is All About Building Trust

What most people fail to recognize is that networking is about trust more than anything else. And trust requires that people "feel" that you care about them - not just their pocketbook. They need to feel that you understand who they are and what makes them tick (at least at a cursory level).

You don't build trust by telling people who YOU are.
Instead, you build trust by understanding who THEY are.

And you build trust by being consistent and trustworthy.

Trust takes Time

There is no magic trick that you can use to magically get others to trust you.

Because building a trust is a natural law that requires investment of time and energy. It requires you being who you say you are, again and again - day in and day out.

Sure you can act trustworthy for a short time period, gain a basic level of trust, but if you don't carry that forward in the future, the effects of it will wear off - and so will your influence.

It's Not Who You Know, It's How Well, Who You Know Trusts You.

Take some time this week and look at your network. But instead of just counting the numbers of people that you know, count the number of people that actually know you and trust you. Count how many people you have influence over - not how many you can email.

This is the true power of networking - when you understand this, you can begin to change the way you network, and leverage the real power behind networking.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Don't Give Up After The First Hiccup

I don't care who you are. Failure is hard. Hard to take emotionally and quite often, hard to take financially. But failure isn't the end of the world. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Failure is simply the end of the mistake – giving you new opportunities to succeed.

In my opinion, there are two types of people in this world:

Those who have failed . . .

And those that will.

And the truth is, failure will only define you if you let it – if you never try again.

Think about it, does it matter that you have fallen in your life? That you lay there, hurt and humiliated. Are you still on the ground, crawling around like someone who doesn't know how to walk. No! You picked yourself up, brushed off the dirt, cleaned the wounds (if you had any), repaired the broken bones and went on. Even those who cannot walk again from injury, find a way to get around – to move on with their lives. The testament to this is Christopher Reeve, who even after being thrown from a horse, breaking his back and ending up confined to a wheel chair, didn't let it keep him down. And he turned tragedy into opportunity not just for himself but everyone that followed him.

Unfortunately, most of us, somehow think grand failure, whether it be getting turned down for a loan, bankruptcy, being fired from our job, not getting the job you want, or any other personal or business catastrophe, is somehow different than small hiccups. We make excuses and give up trying.

More times than not, when people pursue their dreams, they quit at the first sign of trouble. They use circumstances as excuses for giving up. Literally, they quit trying.

I've heard countless people tell me that not getting a job or being turned down for something you really wanted is a “sign”. Sure, it's a sign - a sign that you need to re-evaluate, and figure out another path. But what it's not . . . is a sign to quit!

What if your parents thought that you falling after taking your first step was a sign that you weren't supposed to walk? Where would you be today?

What if the first time you had your heart broke that you took it as a sign that you weren't meant to love ever again? What kind of life would you have?

We all have had struggles in our lives. We all have fallen . . . and / or failed. And we all have gotten back up.

I define Commitment to a Dream or Goal as the willingness to do WHATEVER it takes to make it happen within your own moral boundaries. That doesn't mean until you hit a wall, come up on something you didn't anticipate, or have a hiccup in your plan. It means NO MATTER WHAT you find a way.

If your goal is money and you want to make $1,000,000 then commit to it and make it happen.

If your goal is to rescue all the abused pets of the world, then do whatever you MUST do to make that happen.

But I have to warn you, when you commit to something, it means you have to be willing to accept the “unintended” as well as the “intended” consequences. You will have to make decisions that you didn't think you were going to have to make. You may face choices between keeping the life you have currently and the life you want to create. And that is scary – even for the most confident person

So, what are you going to do . . . quit next time you fail or have even the slightest hiccup? Or are you going to pick yourself up, wipe yourself off and try, try again?

Join me in saying and of course living the famous, Winston Churchill quote,

"Never, never, never, never give up!"

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Life Is NOT Easy - Stop Thinking It Should Be

I don't care who you are or what your personal circumstances are - life is not easy. In fact, it's downright hard. If it wasn't, then we would all be bored out of our minds. It is the human condition to create strife (whether by choice or circumstance) and to challenge ourselves to overcome it. It is the struggle of life or as Buddhists put it, "It is suffering".

From old to young, short to tall, rich, poor, Black, White, Latino, Native American, Catholic, Muslin, Jew, French, Japanese, or American, it doesn't matter, we live the circumstances we have been given. But, we choose the life we will have tomorrow.

This is the principle that we will be held accountable to our choices. Even though we may not have intentionally chosen the results, we did make the choices that led to those results.

The sooner we accept this fact, the quicker we can begin to change our current condition.

The Reality Behind The Power Of Choice

Let's face it. It's easy to feel sorry for yourself or anyone else because either you or they are repressed, deprived, starving or in other atrocious conditions. But, the truth is, every day, we all make choices to either perpetuate our current conditions or to change them. The fact that you aren't aware of this fact, doesn't make it less true - it only makes you ignorant.

I know this sounds harsh. But if you don't believe that you have a choice in your response to the conditions in your life, then you really have no hope to change your life - and you are forced to rely only on blind faith - and "hope" that someone or something will create happiness and success for you.

I'm not buying it. The way I see it, without accepting the idea that life is about liberty, freedom, and choices that you make in response to your circumstances every day, your existence becomes what others (friends, family, your Government, or your God) choose for you. And you are just living out what good (or bad) fortune life, God, or others bestow upon you.

Don't Give Up The Ability To Choose Your Own Life

Rather than looking at your condition as something out of your control, change it. Make a different choice that is different than the one you chose yesterday. Look not only at your current situation, but also the one you want to create and make you decisions based more on what you want tomorrow, the next day, or ten years from now, than what you want. . . right now.

I believe we make our life what it is - choose who we are and what we have - by how we respond to our circumstances. I don't care who you are, someone on this earth has now or has had in the past worse than you - and overcame it to make their life GREAT. The only real difference between the person living in strife and the person living in happiness is the choices they have made.

Stop blaming and make a change.

Most Don't Want To Believe This To Be True

The reason this is such an unpopular opinion is because so many, who don't have the life they want, don't want to admit that they don't have what they want, because they choose not to. They don't want to face the fact that their life could have been different (or even could be different), if only they had made different chooses in the past or even right now. They don't want to acknowledge that they may have been able to create the life they wanted, had they only realized the power was within them.

Those are hard things to face - but they are the truth.

It's Not Just A Matter Of Perspective

Sure, I've been dealt a pretty easy hand - a loving family that has supported me, a good education that has given me opportunities that I never would have thought possible, and genetics that have enabled me to be "lazy" with my habits and still maintain a relatively healthy body. My circumstances have been easier than most. So maybe it's easier for me to say these things.

However, that doesn't mean that I have been given everything I want - nor everything I need to make me happy.

Circumstance and fortune are wonderful things if they line up in your favor, But it is still your responsibility to choose the right path - often the hard path to get what you want.

An Easy Life Doesn't Guarantee Happiness or Success

Frankly, a life without strife and hardship to overcome, although easy, is a double edge sword - because nothing great lasts forever and past happiness and success doesn't guarantee more of the same in the future.

Additionally, the one thing in life that you can count on is change. Unlike those who battle daily - overcoming their struggles - those who have been given everything, or had it "easy" as a child or even as an adult, often hit a wall, when they face real life struggles - circumstances which they did not foresee that are devastating to their current condition.

The rich turn to drugs and alcohol at alarming rates. Divorce rates are higher in the more advanced "Western" cultures than in less sophisticated third world countries. And the suicide rates of "well to-do Executives" are as high if not higher than those of inner city homeless people.

If happiness and success were dependent solely on circumstance, none of these things would be true.

Look at your own life, did you learn and grow more from the things that came easy to you, or those that you earned. Do you respect yourself more or feel more pride in your efforts if what you achieve comes to you easily or as a result of considerable effort.

Bottom line is that your life isn't defined by your circumstances, but instead by your choices.. Life is a balance of opportunity and misfortune. And happiness and success exist in our lives based on the choices we make given the circumstances we face each and every day to create the world we want to live in. But don't kid yourself, just because you have the choice, doesn't make the choice easy. . . it only means that it's your to make.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ask "Why?" Every Chance You Get

As part of my coaching process, my clients are faced with questions everyday that they must answer:

- What worked for you today?
- What didn't work for you today?
- What can you do differently tomorrow that will make it a better day?

The questions sound simple enough, but finding the answers requires real analysis of your day, and thus generates real growth, incrementally.

There are two great days in a person's life --
the day we are born and the day we discover why?"
William Barclay

But there is more to growth than just asking what didn't work or looking at your daily goals and seeing that you reached them or not. There is the question that drives the human mind to grow - the first real question that we learn as children . . . WHY?

did we have the struggles we did today?

Why did we have more success today?

Why were we more (or less) motivated today to achieve our goals than the day or week before?

It is in asking "Why?", that we open ourselves up to finding the solution and accepting the solution when it comes to us. In asking, we open ourselves to really learning - changing who we are and how we look at our own circumstances and our own life.

As children we ask "Why?" to learn about our surroundings and ourselves, but somewhere along the way, the "Whys" stop. Why is that? Does our thirst for knowledge wane? Or are we institutionally trained to stop asking the question - subtly (or overtly) told that we will learn what we're told to learn and nothing more.

I know from my own experiences, I don't learn very well if I'm not first interested in understanding WHY the information will help me - in my life. It doesn't matter that people teach me something in a book - because they think it's something I should learn, it needs to be something I want to know. And thus I have to first be sold on the problem - inspired to inquire, rather than be fed the information before I'm ready to learn.

Unfortunately, our society doesn't invoke the "WHYs" in life enough. Our children don't get a chance to ask why - let alone encouraged? Their days are shaped by workbooks that are deemed to be the information they are to be taught - and rarely given an opportunity to ask "Why?" - and let the path lead them where it may. Our employees aren't encouraged to question, "Why?" inside their workspace - trying to understand the reason for "this" or "that", so they could possibly come up with a better solution.

In fact, WE don't ask "Why?" in our own lives because we simply have become institutionalized / domesticated to accepting authorities rules for what they are . . . rules.

I used to get in trouble in High School, College and in military schools, because I didn't just want to know what was taught, I wanted to know "why?" I can clearly remember a number of times that my questions were outside the scope of the curriculum and inappropriate for the class. How insane is that - coming from an instituion of higher learning? I was nearly broken of the spirit for the pursuit of knoweldge, because it was perceived as challenging the educational process - and rarely were the answers to my questions part of the "learning guide".

Luckily, I had enough encouragement along the way and fortitude to keep it moving forward - challenging what I know and what I was being taught to satiate my desire for knowledge.

So what is education? In Wikipedia, there are two simple definitions:

1. Any act or experience that has a formative effect on the mind, character, or physical ability of an individual
2. The process by which society deliberately transmits its accumulated knowledge, values, and skills from one generation to another through institutions.

As long as we live solely for the later, definition, we fail to inspire people (both children and adults) to want to learn - to ask the questions that come to their mind. We must find a way to empart the knowledge of our society on our youth, but we must find a way to do so, that inspires them to ask "Why?" and encourage them to challenge the "truths" that we propose as fact.

Bottomline is, it's time to stop waiting for others to inspire our growth . . . our pursuit of knowledge. We need to take back the control of our motivation to learn. Stop waiting for someone else to inspire you or your children to teach you something new. Encourage yourself and your children to ask the question "Why?" and to not let anyone tell them different.

We must find ways to reward the "Why?" and encourage independent thinking.

So, here's a tip for you to help change the way you look at learning and growing.

At the end of your day today, try to reflect back and figure out how many times you asked the question, "Why?" and sought out and answer. You might be surprised to see how little it really is. Then at the end of your day, look back what what worked and didn't work for you, and ask the question at that moment, "WHY?" By ending the day, looking at your successes and your struggles and asking the question, you will begin to change how you live your life - and thus change the life you live.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Why are you doing that?

Every thing we do, each and every day is for a reason. Unfortunately, most of us have no clue what those reasons are, except the classic reason, "because that's what I've always done".

We've all heard of the feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys - a story of two families that feuded for generations. But at the end, most of the individuals feuding had no idea why they were even fighting - except that it was what they always did. It took a conscious choice to put behind the habitual anger and loathesomeness of each other to change the course of history for those two feuding families.

So, rather than doing what you've always done, STOP! Think for yourself consciously, and ask the question, are my actions actually getting me closer to my dreams . . . or further? Am I acting consciously through my actions or am I just blindly following my subconscious influence?

What things are you doing today that you've always done, without even realizing why you are doing it anymore?

If you are a smoker, do you want to keep smoking? Then why do you?

If you are overweight or have high cholesterol, why do you keep eating the way you have always eaten?

Goals drive what you do - whether they be to maintain the status quo, or to help you grow to become what and whom you've always dreamed of being. Everything you do, you do for a reason. If you want to grow and BE someone different than you are right now, then stop letting your subconscious decide your fate. And start questioning what you are doing, every minute of the day.

Think about why you are doing what you are doing and
then choose your path - rather than responding out of habit.

Stephen Covey, author of the breakthrough self-help book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, talks a lot about putting first things first - making sure you are doing what is important first, and then worrying about what's urgent, only after the important things are done. I like to take that one step further. I ask clients to look at what they are doing and why they are doing specific things, and not others.

To highlight the difference between important and urgent in how you are acting consciously or unconsciously, let me use an example - taking an afternoon nap. Is it important, urgent, both or neither? Well, honestly, it depends on why you are taking it.

1. It could be both urgent and important, if you are are very sick and need the rest in order to avoid a hospital visit. This is usually a conscious decision.
2. It could also be important and not urgent, if you feel yourself getting ill but don't want to get to the point where you are run down. This is the most conscious decision of all the decisions in this example - if you weren't thinking of tomorrow, you would definitely blow off the nap for more urgent matters.
3. It could be urgent and not important, if you are really tired and doing it to avoid doing other more important, less urgent tasks. Now, yYou are getting into subconscious influence over your actions. You are subconsciously being prompted to act on the nap now, because of fatigue. But is it fatigue or habit? That's what you have to ask yourself, and search for the real answer.
4. Finally, it could simply be that you want to avoid other more important things, without even being tired - using the nap simply as an escape, because you have always taken naps - or enjoy taking naps. You are consciously acting and choosing a nap - but less out of importance or even urgency, and more out of a subconscious desire to keep you from doing what's important .

It's not the nap that is the problem, it's why you are taking the nap that matters.

Truth, all too often, we end up doing the same things again and again, not because we decided to, but because we didn't decide not to.

So as you go about your day, stop and think, why am I doing what I'm doing? Why am I eating what I'm eating? Why am I working on what I'm working on and being whom I am currently being?

These questions aren't challenging what you are doing, but WHY you are doing it. They get you to go beyond the life you numbly live and challenge you to stop and act out of choice instead of habit.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Live Your Life As If Someone Sacrificed Their Life For You. . . Because Thousands Have.

The story of America's quest for freedom is inscribed
on her history in the blood of her patriots.

Randy Vader

Today is a both a solemn and celebratory day. It is a day that we remember all of the men and women who have given us the Liberty that we so dearly cherish in our country. And it is also a day where we celebrate the fun and joy that is at the heart of our Country as the summer is now upon us.

We have all been given a special gift - the gift of freedom and liberty. And unlike any other place on this Earth or in time in History, we have the opportunity to pursue OUR happiness, as WE define it, thanks to the sacrifices of those that have given their lives to defend our way of living.

Honor them.

Make them proud.

Live the life that you have been given the opportunity to live. It is truly the best way to repay them for their sacrifice.

I believe one of the most powerful "movie" moments of all time to me was when Capt Miller (played by Tom Hanks) in Saving Private Ryan looks at Private James Ryan (played by Matt Damon) and in his last breath says to him, "James, earn this." referring to the sacrifice of hundreds of men for his life.

Truth is, we all need to earn this - earn our lives. We all need to earn the liberty and freedom that have been given to us by those who sacrificed before us. It's one thing to reflect on their sacrifice - it's a whole other thing to actually make their sacrifice worthwhile by living the best life that we can live.

On this special day, please take a moment to reflect and honor every one who has given their lives so that both you and I can wake up free and chase our dreams and goals - as we so desire.

Live Your Life As If Someone Sacrificed Their Life For You. . . Because Thousands Have.

Finally, let me share with you an incredible audio essay that Glenn Beck did not long ago. It is a bit longer than ten minutes, but I promise it is worth the time. I like it, because it is written from the perspective of the fallen soldier, and will surely warm your heart and bring a tear to you eye.

Click here to listen

Thank you for the honor to have served for you in the Navy for 20 years.

Happy Memorial Day,


Saturday, May 23, 2009

How to Create A Shared Vision

What do you do when you have partners in a relationship that are completely different - have different skills, backgrounds, and thought processes?

Is it possible to make it work with partners who are as different as day and night, when they think and act differently in nearly everything they do?

Absolutely!!! And to be completely frank, I believe, that DIVERSITY is something that should be celebrated as a gift, not a barrier to long term success. But before you get too far in the celebration, you better figure out if you have two very important things before you consummate the relationship:

1. Common / Shared Vision
2. Trusted and Open Communication.

Without these two elements, you will not only struggle, but eventually fail.

Unfortunately, diversity with relationships is usually seen as a time bomb, just waiting to destroy the partnership - but it doesn't have to be the case.

It's not who you are that defines the success of a relationship,
it's what you want to create.

So as long as you both (or all) want to create something bigger than you have today, together, and can agree on what that is, the individuality of each partner becomes a benefit, not a destructive element.

The other day, I wrote the blog, Relationships Last As Long as There Is Shared Vision, where I discussed the importance of shared visions in a relationship. But what I didn't really discuss is how you build a shared vision, if you don't have one yet. Or more importantly, how do you take two or more people whose vision isn't exactly the same, and generate a vision that you can both support and even commit to? And how do you do that when you don't communicate as well as you should? The rest of this article will answer both those questions - and give you the tools to create a vision (a Partnership Constitution) that will bind the team better than if you were of the same mind to begin with.

1. Agree That You Will Create Win-Win Relationship or There Will Be No Deal

The first step in creating a shared vision is to decide that you will do exactly that. This may sound unbelievably obvious, but it is the precise step that is often overlooked and which creates the most trouble.

Each partner must, in advance, agree that they desire to create a Shared Vision (a true Win-Win relationship) that every one AGREES to completely - that all will COMMIT to with all their being, or there will not be an organization.

They must agree that if this doesn't happen, then the team will dissolve and go their own ways, with no hard feelings - this is the "No Deal" option.

Once all partners agree that they will work together, as diligently as necessary to either create a shared vision or to walk away and go their own ways, then you are ready for the next step, deciding what each partner really hopes to create.

2. Each Partner Must Have Their Own Vision In Mind

The key to creating a shared vision is for each of the partners to know what they want individually first. Who do they want to be? What do they want to create? Why do they want to create it? How do they want to create it? That's right, each partner must know what they want from life and from the partnership before they walk in to discussion . . . or they may be persuaded by "group think".

It's not good enough to just have these thoughts in your mind, they must be written down so they become independent of the individual who owns them - they must begin to live and breath on their own, just as the shared vision eventually will.

3. All Partners Must Listen "Empathically" To Each Others' Vision

Now the tough work begins (as if the work to this point hasn't been tough). Each partner needs to not only understand their own vision, but empathically (from the perspective of the owner) understand each partner's desires for the future of the partnership. This requires communication at a deep level - listening to each persons ideas, reading their thoughts and understanding their hopes and dreams (from their perspective - not their own).

This will take time and considerable effort. But by going through this process, each partner will have a better understand of the other, and will gain new perspective on what is both possible and what is not.

4. As a Team, Brainstorm and Write The Shared Vision - Capturing / Encapsulating The Most Important Elements Of Each Partner's Individual Vision

By the time you reach this stage, this becomes almost irrelevant, because you will have gained such a deep understanding of the hopes and dreams of each other. But don't stop before you finish - consummate the relationship by capturing the moment in written form that can be referenced and reviewed time and again in the future. And before you walk away, make sure that each partner signs the document, as if it were a binding contract to each other to support the ideals and principles that lay before you all.


Finally, let me leave you with a single thought.

If you are like me and so many others who are trying to create something bigger than yourself, then at some point you are going to have to bring others onto your team - whether you want them to be partners . . . or employees. The more you understand about the concepts of creating a vision with partners, the more you begin to understand the elements of leadership and will be able to bring others on board for your life's adventure.

Learn these techniques, they will serve you well, in both personal and professional relationships - on that I stake my reputation.

Friday, May 22, 2009

4 Steps to Building and Evaluating Systems In Your Business

According to, Systems are any formulated, regular, or special methods or plans of procedure.

Whether you like it or not - you have systems in your business. But they may not be very strong systems, and they may not be very effective systems. And in the world of business, the stronger the system is, the more consistent your product is, and most importantly, the more likely your customers will come back to you, again and again.

Literally, everything you do is a system. How you make your product, answer the phone or hire new employees are all systems. Unfortunately, even though you may have systems, if you are like most small business owners, they are haphazardly used and usually require the owner's presence / knowledge to make them work correctly.

So how do you improve on this situation, if you should choose to do so? How do you take your currently haphazard, "fly by the seat of the pants" processes and turn them into consistent reliable systems that both you and your customers can't count on.

The answer is easier than you think. Below are Four Steps to Building and Evaluating Systems In Your Business:

1. Document (write it down). When creating a system for your business, the first step is documentation - get it down in writing. I don't care how you do it, or even if how you do it is how you want to do it, write it down. Write down what you do, what you say, how you do it, when you do it, and if you can, why you do it. It does haven't to be pretty and it definitely doesn't have to be perfect - it just needs to be done. Most people get hung up at this stage, simply because they let perfect get in the way of "good enough".

As you will see, the process I'm going to lead you through is all about continuous improvement - for two reasons:

a. Nothing is perfect - ever. Even as you come close to having a perfect system, the market and or the environment that the system operates in will change and you will have to keep adjusting.

b. It's too much work to try to make it perfect. They say that it requires 20% effort to get an 80% solution, and 80% more effort to get the last 20%. Well what we want to do with our systems is get the 80% solution and then improve it as necessary to keep making it better given the existing conditions.

2. Evaluate (test it and measure it). Now that you have a system or systems in place, it's time to figure out what we are going to improve first. This requires evaluating the system - measuring the efficacy of the process that is currently in place. As much as possible those measurements should be quantifiable, but there may be qualitative measurements on occasion (but consistency of evaluation is important).

Fact of the matter is that you have limited time and assets. So it's going to be important to figure out where you overall system is broken (or not working as well as you want it to), so that you can leverage your time and money to generate the largest "bang for the buck".

The key here is to evaluate (test and measure) all of your processes to see what is working and what isn't. Sometimes you will make major changes to single process and sometimes you will make make minor changes to many processes. But for each change you need to ensure that you know if what you did helped or hurt the overall all system before it becomes a permanent change in your business.

3. Innovate.
Now that you have all of your systems in place and you know which ones are working and which ones aren't, it's time to start improving them - taking them from what they have always been and start making them better.

This doesn't take rocket science - it just takes a little creativity and / or a little bit of imitation. Truly, if you want to be the best, you are going to have to be a bit creative, but if you are still far from the best in your marketplace, there is lots of room for improvement just by understanding better how you competition (or similar business in other industries) do well - and copying it.

The truth is the wheel was invented a couple thousand years ago - and I believe the patent has expired. So in most cases there is no need to re-invent it. Although the process / system involved in producing your main product may be unique, there is no reason you can't leverage other systems that other are using quite effectively.

4. Validate. And finally, now that you have improved your processes, it's time to make sure your new and improved processes are actually better than the ones you previously had. And that should be simple, since you should already have a measuring tool built into your system so that the you can see right away whether or not you improved or hurt the output of the changed system.

If you hurt the output of that process or the overall functionality of your business, then undo what you did and go back to the drawing board.

However, if you saw even the slightest bit of improvement, its time to go back the documentation step and start all over.

All too often, people make this process entirely too hard. They get caught up in fixing before they even write it down. Or they try to fix things without being able to tell if their improvements even made a difference. But if you follow these steps, you will quickly start to be able to take your business from being inconsistent in some or many aspects of operations, to soon becoming the best in your market at some or even all the processes within your business.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Don't Forget Where You Came From

I'd like to say that the reason I joined the Navy was some profound dedication to duty and commitment to principles that our founding fathers presented. But, I can't tell a lie - it wasn't that profound. And truthfully, it was a lot simpler, more immature, and more selfish than that.

I joined the Navy, because 5 months after I had dropped out of college with a lack of motivation and funds, I realized I was getting no where FAST! Literally, I had a bad week: I hated my job, my then girlfriend broke up with me, my car broke, and I couldn't see living at home any more. And low and behold, as I drove home one day, there it was, the Navy Recruiters Office.

Were there other options? Absolutely, but the easiest was the military. Besides, I thought it would be an adventure - because that's what the ads said at the time,

"It's not just a Job, it's an Adventure."

Unfortunately, the Navy then, as it does now, usually has a delay before you start - giving you time to second guess your decision. And had I not gotten some advice from a friend, I would have done just that - second guess my decision.

What was that advice? It was simple and straight-forward, "Don't forget how you feel right now. You are going to need it to keep you moving forward - use it to drive you forward every day to keep you going."

Now I'm not an advocate of running from where you are with no direction - I think you usually end up in much worse places than when you started. But, I do believe with a clear understanding of where you came from combined with a vision of what you want to be can be a powerful force to propel you through the most difficult changes you face in your life.

With that advice, I did something I had never done before, I sat down and wrote a letter to myself - the future self that I knew would try to forget how I felt write now. I wrote about my dreams for the future as well as my frustrations with the present. In essence, I wrote a simple personal vision statement - to drive me forward in my times of despair that everyone warned me about in the early stages of Boot Camp and life in the military.

Writing down how you feel right now, has too major advantages:

1. It requires you to sit down and put into words exactly how you are feeling - forcing you to face your true feelings and the reality of "who you are" right now.

2. It gives you a tool, a journal of your past, so that you may see how far you have come in your daily growth - where you came from and verify that you are on track to reach your future dreams. Without which you can forget who and what you were - as so many do.

As part of my coaching practice, my clients write an email to me daily. What some may have come to realize, while others haven't yet, is that they have begun to keep a journal of their lives - how they look at what they do and what they are trying to do differently everyday to become a better person and a better business owner.

As an outside observer, I get the pleasure of seeing their growth, but more times than not, they can't see it. The slow process of daily growth is so transparent to their psyche that they often don't recognize the major changes that took place until they step back and review who they were. They literally can't see the before and after.

A journal combined with positive reflection on the past helps you
see that and empowers you to move forward - to keep the press on.

Needless to say, if you don't already do it, I would find some way to journal. Whether it be as simple as writing a sentence about how you feel or pages and pages that capture everything you did and felt that day. What you will find is that when you go back and look at your own words, and see the personal growth (or not) that has taken place, you will be amazed - in either a positive manner or not. You can literally use your journal as a barometer to help you figure out whether your current course of actions is taking you closer to your goals or not - you can answer the questions, Is what I'm doing working for me or not?

However, beware. I must warn you. Looking back, when used as a tool to judge your growth is a double edged sword if you are not careful - as is any form of reflection. If you can do so objectively and not take personally what has or hasn't happened and leverage for growth in the future, it can be an amazing tool. But if you look back and get caught up in self-pity over all the struggles you've had and opportunities lost, then it will only perpetuate that same result.

The key is to focus what you learn from the past on how you are going to make the future better - not how you have been and always will be a victim of circumstances.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Your Actions Speak Much Louder Than Your Words.

Do YOU walk your talk? How about your business, does it do what it promises to do?

It's easy to say what you want to be or what your clients want to hear - it's a whole other thing to actually pull it off.

How many people do you know that truly walk their talk - live with integrity?

How about businesses - can you name any that you know will deliver on every promise they make?

Let's take it one step further - know any politicians that really walk their talk?

So many people think that success in life and business is built on saying the right thing - and they act as if DOING is irrelevant. But I will argue that what you say doesn't matter nearly as much as what you do.

Truth is, saying what you think others want to hear is called politics.

And saying whatever it takes to get someone to believe you is called sales.

Unfortunately, neither of those will build a business. They might generate short term, one-time sales, but the business won't last. The customers won't come back - because they will feel betrayed. It takes a real leader and a real business man to keep people coming back again and again, not just once. It takes walking your talk.

Stop trying to be everything to everyone. Stop telling people what they want to hear - you can't deliver on it . . . and you know it.

Instead promise ONLY what you know you can deliver - and nothing more. Become THE most reliable person in your market at walking your talk.

You don't have to promise a lot - just deliver on what you do promise every time,
and you will get more business than you know what to do with.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Relationships Last As Long As There Is Shared Vision

Interesting thing I've noticed about people. They can endure nearly anything and overcome any obstacles as long as they have a vision of something better in the future. Ask any POW or read the stories from Viktor Frankl, and the message is the same – vision of a better future is what will carry you forward.

Unfortunately, without that vision of a brighter future, people can hardly endure even the slightest struggle.

As a coach, I find this holds true as much in relationships (business or personal) as it does on an individual level. But in relationships, unlike personal vision, lost shared vision can and usually mean the beginning of the end of the relationship.

When two or more people come together to create a shared vision of the future they are trying to create, no obstacle or struggle will get in their way. They look at barriers as opportunities and revel in working together to solve the problems they face. But if they don't have a shared vision or if their personal visions begin to deviate too far from the shared vision, even the smallest obstacle can spell the doom for the relationship.

Partners in business see this all the time. One partner begins to see the future differently as circumstance or his life changes, and the decisions that need to be made jointly become more and more contentious. They struggle as the day-to-day dealings which were tolerable in the past, become down right impossible when you know that you want different things for the future. And sadly, it is precisely at the moment when one or all of the partners can no longer see how they will ever be able to want the same things again, that the partnership is over. It might take days, weeks or years to consummate the end, but nothing can undo what has been done.

So what can you do about this? People change. What they want evolves and their visions of the future they want morph. How can this be avoided?

In some cases, it is inevitable. The relationship must come to an end - the parties are just too far apart. But those are honestly rare - and with ample attention to these principles at the beginning of the relationship and throughout the life of the team, a lot of heartache and pain can be avoided.

What it takes is a little work and focus at the beginning of the relationship. That work is clearly defining a shared vision - taking it from implied to stated. It means writing down the words that every one agrees on and doing your best to honor the personal vision of all the participants.

Ahh, but the work doesn't end there, simply because life doesn't end there! Shared vision requires all parties to not only commit to the vision, but to also commit to communicate if they begin to feel they don't agree with it any more - even slightly.

It's about sharing when you begin to feel that you want something different - communicating the difference to all involved. Sometimes this may be a big deal, but I find that's rarely the case - if communicated promptly.

The truth is (and we all know it), it's not that small differences will destroy the relationship. But small differences show a trend of deviation - a widening gap. The good news is that regardless of the issue, a trend if caught early enough can be remedied - by altering the vision slightly for the evolving dreams of the individuals involved.

However if the deviation of one's personal vision begins to grow too far from the shared vision, a rift begins to form. This split will often result in resentment and disillusionment about the partnership.

So if you want to have a great partnership - business or personal, take the following steps:

1. Write a shared vision with all involved.

2. Plan to review the shared vision periodically to evaluate its relevance and make changes as necessary to keep all actively engaged.

And actively commit to both the vision and the promise that it represents.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Why Twitter?

It's no longer about the voices of the few -
but about the eyes, ears, and minds of the many.

So many people are coming to this new form of media because others tell them to. But how many really understand what it is - in it's simplest form? I wanted to take a day out to share a unique perspective on my opinion of what Twitter is and what it isn't. I'm not writing this article to help you understand why every one else is using it - but why it might be something fun for YOU to use.

I hope to share Twitter with you in a way that helps you see it differently and in such a way that you can understand what it can mean for your business as well as for you personally.

Twitter, a social media application that has been around for years, has gone mainstream in the past couple months. Tens of thousands are joining daily - and they are all trying to do the same thing. . . Build A Following, by sharing answers to the simple question, "What are you doing?"

So why do you want a following? And why does anyone care what I am doing right now?

Essentially, Twitter, the application, is nothing more than a bullhorn with a magical feature - people can choose to listen to you . . . or not. The power isn't in the broadcaster's hand, it's in the receiver's ability to choose to listen to you . . . or not. It is a media format that provides both one-to-many (broadcast like the radio) communication and one-to-one (direct like a telephone). And it blends both of these formats in such as way as to generates a form of communication that is short, sweet, and easy to to do for EVERYONE.

So let me ask you a question, "What if what you were thinking of or what you had to say to someone else, could change the life of someone you don't even know, in a profound way?"

Would you share those ideas with someone you don't even know? And how would you even know to share it with them, if you don't know them personally?

In the old information model, you wouldn't be able to. You might share your ideas and thoughts with your friends and family, but it most likely wouldn't get much further than that - unless of course you were a published writer or a public speaker of some form.

Unfortunately, (and I see this as a coach regularly) this has left many people feeling like they all alone in the world - unique in the way they think and their struggles, because none of their friends and / or family are / were quite like them. They would share their ideas, but no one understood their situation or how they were feeling.

So the question arises, "How do you share what you are thinking and feeling in such a way that others (that you don't even know) can find and read your thoughts without even knowing you?"

Essentially, the answer to this question was the birth of the blog (or weblog) - a way to share your ideas in a open format that not only exposed publicly what you are / were thinking, but did so in a way that invited others to follow.

Unfortunately, in spite of its non-pretentious foundation, the "blog" world has become filled with professionals. And most lay-persons feel completely overwhelmed jumping into the medium. They feel that inspite of their best efforts, there isn't any chance for them to compete in the forum of ideas.

Thus the demand for a simpler communication medium that not only allowed voice to the masses, but did so in a format that encouraged so many to feel comfortable speaking out - without feeling overwhelmed by the eloquence of the professionals.


140 characters that YOU publish - for the rest of the world to find, read, echo and comment on.

No college degrees are needed nor even recognized. You don't have to know HTML code or any other fancy language. You don't have to be a marketing specialist to get your words exposure. And you don't need a single penny to play.

All you have to do is share your ideas and join in the discussion.

Now there is "voice" for the many wishing to say something about anything - for the small, soft spoken voice to to be heard as loud and as powerfully as the loud, boisterous rants of those who have dominated the public podium for so long.

If you want to share what you are thinking - GO FOR IT. It really is that simple. It may be read. It may not. But as long as your VOICE is trapped in your head, there is no chance of it ever being heard by anyone else.

If you have something to say - Say it!!!

Will it be heard? Maybe. Maybe not. That's not the point. the fact that it CAN be heard is.

If you are hoping to ensure that it is read by even one person - you are in the wrong place - you are better off buying advertising time on the radio or a big billboard on the Interstate. With Twitter, there are no guarantees that you will be heard by any ONE person, but there is a guarantee that you could be heard by EVERYONE.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

What, If Anything, Do You Have Control Over?

There are very few things you ACTUALLY have CONTROL over in your life or in your business. In fact the list of things you control is much shorter than the thousands that you don't.

- You don't have control over the economy.
- You don't have control over your customers - current or perspective.
- You don't have control over your employees.
- You don't have control over your suppliers / vendors.
- You don't have control over your competition.

I could go on for ever, but I think you get the point.

However, in spite of your lack of control over external forces, you do have complete control over you, your business, and how you respond to each change in any of the above listed factors. YOU can decide how much you will allow each of the complex forces effect you and your business.

So the only control you have in any situation actually stems from your response to the situation - not the ability to actually change the situation.

For example, you can't control whether a customer is happy with your services - that is their choice. But you can control how you handle it - how you treat that customer - how you go about deciding if you want to change your promise to the market so that you don't have that problem again.

And, you may not be able to "fix" or motivate your current employees, but you don't have to keep them either. And you can change the processes in your hiring so as to minimize the likelihood of having unmotivated employees.

As you start examining at your current situation, stop blaming your circumstances for your position, your sales, or your market share. Instead, accept that your status is what it is because of how you choose to respond to the circumstances in the past.

Rather than blaming, or lamenting your current market position, it's time to figure out how your decisions (or lack of decisions) have contributed to current situation. Ask yourself the following questions:

- What have I done or not done, given the changing economy?
- How have I changed my business to demonstrate to my customers how important they are?
- When was the last time I talked to my customers and asked them what they need from my business?
- Rather than blaming my employees for all my problems, how can I change my management style to produce the results I want?
- What is my competition doing that I'm not doing? What could I do or say differently that would give me a competitive advantage over my competition?

It is through the process of asking these questions that we find the answers to our business problems. It is through the process of querying your methods and motives that you will remove the illusion of control over your business and take control of the only element you do have control over - your response.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Difference Between Reality and Wishes - Can You Tell The Difference?

I'm having a bit of a quandary, and I would like to share a couple of interesting statements with you that I heard a couple days ago.

The first is, "If I could just have a few more hours in my day, every day, I could get done everything I want to get done."

And the second is, "My life is perfect, I don't want to change a thing."

Would you believe both of these statements came from one person? And did so within just moments of each other - almost in the same breath.

My question is, which one is the truth? Which one is a better reflection of that individual's current reality?

If you ask me, one is their current reality and the other is their dream. The question is which is which. The funny thing is that had I asked the individual I was talking to, I'm sure our answers would have been different.

Unfortunately, when I talk to new clients or perspective clients I get statements so much like these - complete contradictions. Everything in their life is great, but at the same time it isn't. In their minds, both statements are completely true and they've managed to convince themselves that believing two opposing statements to be true as something normal.

Let's face it - nothing is perfect. And if something or someone does manage to get close, you can count on the fact that it won't last long. The only thing you can count on in the life is that everything will change - and even perfection will fade to imperfection.

If you don't believe me, ask anyone who has a "perfect" life, and you will see that it is either a facade or they are working very hard to keep it that way.

I'm not judging the statements or making any presumptions about the individual that made them. I would never presume to know what anyone needs or what they should do. But I will tell you that until they perceive these two statements as completely contradictory, they will never truly have either.

The key in creating the life you want is first seeing reality as it is - now as you want it to be. And when you finally do see it as it is, the next big step is realizing that you can not solve a problem or change a situation with the same thought process that you had when you created it.

What does all that mean? If you want to change your circumstance in life - change who you are, and everything around you will follow. Change how you look at your situation, and you will begin to change the situation. Begin by being who and what you want to be, and the reality will follow you.

Bottom line, if you have a perfect life, congratulations. I hope you are working hard to keep it. But if there is anything that you want to improve - regardless of what it is - then take action. And do so, within yourself to begin with.

So if you feel this contradiction in your life or hear yourself saying these words - stop and think long and hard - which answer is really the truth and which is your dream. And if you decide to make a change, look first in the mirror and change what you see in the reflection - don't change the mirror.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

If You Want To Be The Best, Stop Trying to Be Everything To Everyone

Personal, as well as Business, Greatness doesn't come from being or doing everything all the time. Instead, I believe that Greatness grows out of doing what YOU CAN do absolutely better than any one else in your market - and then doing just that until you BECOME the best at it.

So the question is, do you want to be the Greatest . . .

- In your industry?
- In your market?
- In your Job?

If so, then stop trying to do everything. . . and do what you can become best at.

If you can be the best Carpet Cleaner in your market area, then focus on being that. Live it. Breathe it. Build your business around it. Market your business that way. Be that person - which means that you should no longer do other forms of floor coverings - they will distract you from being the best at what you do.

Conversely, if you want to be and can become the best Floor Covering Cleaner in the same locale, then be that. This might mean that you aren't the BEST Carpet Cleaner. But when it comes to servicing ALL of your floor covering needs in a home or business, through a single source, then you would be the man to turn to.

Think about it. They are completely different things - requiring completely different strengths and different skills.

The difference is subtle, but the impact to your business can be profound. The key here is understanding deeply what you are capable of being the best at . . . and dominating that market - like no one else out there.

So what are you the best at?

What can you do better than anyone else in your market?

Why are you doing any thing else?

Here is an example. I'm not a big fan of Dennis Rodman, but you have to be impressed with what he did. He has some good Basketball skills, but nothing compare to most, especially since he played on the team with the best Basketball player ever, Michael Jordan. And Rodman knew he couldn't compete, if he tried to simply be a Basketball player like so many others. Had he attempted that path, he would have failed miserably. But he did have a gift, and he realized what he could be the best at - rebounding and defense. So rather than trying to be like Mike and everyone else, Dennis Rodman decided to become the best Rebounder and Defender in the NBA. And he did it, making himself a pretty penny at the same time.

The same thing happens in Baseball. There are pitchers that would be average at best if they had to pitch 8 innings each game, but as "closers" they have become the best at what they do. They come in, do their job and finish the game.

I could go on and on with sports, business and even personal examples. And I know you could too. But that's not as important as figuring out what you can be best at.

So what is it that you and your business can be best at? Figure it out and you have found your gold mine - because everyone wants the BEST person at what they do.

Spend some time thinking about this. Ask your employees what they think. And even better, ask your best customers, you might be surprised at what they say. Then, go for it. Don't just act like you are the best, BE THE BEST.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Act Today As If Your Vision Has Already Come True

What do you want in your future?

Who do you want to be?

What ever you want to be, the best way to make that happen, is to ACT as if you are already that person, right now. And you will become that person, simply out of habit.

You see, your subconscious mind is not that smart - it can't tell the difference between what's real and what's a dream. It receives inputs from your senses and looks for patterns. And it just loves patterns of behavior that it can repeat again and again.

In fact, once there is enough repetition of a behavior, our subconscious mind will stop at nothing to try to repeat it - even at your own detriment.

So, the best way to change behavior - change who you are is to simply act that part. Act like you want to become - and act it all the time. It can't tell the difference between what you are and what you are pretending to be. So start pretending what you want to be and your subconscious mind will begin to make the your ACTING become who you really are.

That may sound silly, but it's how all or our minds work.

If you want to be a Coach, then you need to act as if you already are a Coach right now. Dress like one, hang around other coaches, do what other coaches do.

If you want to be a Cab Driver, then all you need to do is act like one - it will be happen.

Likewise if you want to be a Millionaire, then act like Millionaires act. Think like one, hang out with other Millionaires, dress like one, spend money as if you are one already, and make it part of who you are . . . every minute of everyday.

WARNING: You have to truly BELIEVE who you are trying to become is real, or you subconscious won't believe it. Commit to it and you will create it.

If you want to be anything in this world, then start being it RIGHT NOW. Live the life! Surround yourself with others who are successful in what you want to do and act like they do. Find mentors, create masterminds groups and emulate everyone who has what you want. Not because you want "their life" but because you want to know what being who they are is all about.

However, there is one final note . . . when you start acting as you want to be, you will stop being who you are today. This is something you have to be willing to give up, if you want to grow into the YOU that you have always dreamed of being.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Honor Those Not Present - As If They Were

Do you talk about people when they aren't there - behind their backs?

Do you share secrets about others when you know you shouldn't?

Believe it or not, I'm not going to say - "Knock it off" of "Don't do it!" That's neither my style nor, in my opinion, the right attitude.

However, what I would do, if you started to talk about someone else, is ask you a couple questions:

- Why are you saying what you are saying - what do you hope to gain?
- Do you want to feel better about yourself?
- Do you want to get me to hate them?
- Do you want me to be as angry or frustrated at them as you are?

We are all different and those differences are going to get to you, at some time or another. You are going to get frustrated and / or angry with just about everyone you know at one time or another. Things that others do are going to bother you. And the truth is, you need to find a way to express how you feel with others, without feeling guilty or destroying some one else in the process - ruining their reputation or their name just so that you can feel better about yourself.

Conversations you may have about someone else, unto themselves, are not bad. In fact sometimes, they can be therapeutic. What gets unhealthy, dangerous, and malicious is when you begin talking about someone to prejudice someone else's viewpoint about yourself or the person you speak about. This happens when you open your mouth to say things that you would never want to say if that person were actually present or ever have them hear you utter.

So the trick (if it is a trick) in honoring those not present isn't avoiding speech about them - but instead making sure your words reflect what you truly want and what you are really all about. For example, if you are talking to someone about your spouse and making fun of her cooking or other behaviors, just to gain laughs and support from a bunch of guys - then that's not honoring her. But if you having the same discussion within the context of trying to figure out what your possible options are to discuss with your spouse - that's a completely different story.

It's not what is said, but how it is said and what your intentions with the speech that matters.

So, next time you find yourself talking about someone else that isn't present, ask yourself a couple questions:

- Am I having this conversation for the right reasons?
- Would I say these things if they were here now?

If the answer to both questions is yes, then "Go for it". Talk away in good conscious. But if not, hold your tongue, respect those not present and change subjects. You not only honor those not present, but also those that are.

Monday, May 11, 2009

People Want To Be Part Of Something Bigger Than Themselves

In his blog today, Seth Godin asked the question, "Do you have Customers or Members?" It's short, sweet, and to the point - as he always is. The article is basically pointing out that if you are good enough to get customers to sign up to become members of your "world" they will become more than just customers - they will become members of your coalition.

Sorry, I'm neither short nor sweet, but I will get straight to the point.

The reason people want to join memberships (especially on the web) is that deep down they ache to be part of something bigger than themselves. They want to feel like they belong to a group of individuals that believe what they believe, act the way they act and feel the way they feel.

We all belong to some group or another. You have your family (rooted in your name or your lineage), you have the school you attended (and the year you graduated), you have your Generation (Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, etc). You have your Ford truck owners, your Chevy truck owners, GMC truck owners and now, you have your Toyota truck owners. You have your Apple computer users and your PC computer users. The list goes on forever. Some of these memberships are formal - others aren't so. But don't kid yourself, the allegiance is often stronger than you can imaging.

What memberships do you have?

Takes Customer Loyalty To A Whole New Level

When your customers begin to treat you as if they are in a group - because they believe in what your business or product is all about - you have reached a new level of loyalty. You have moved from just having customers to cheerleaders and raving fans.

So, how do you turn your customers from thinking of themselves as only customers to thinking of themselves of members of an elite group. Simple, create the elite group - and make it worth being in. If you envision it and communicate that vision to the world, others will follow. It may not be a million or even a thousand, but I'll bet it's more than one. But even one is a start.

People will subscribe - they will join. Not because you created it. It's not a "If you build it, they will come" thing. It's a lot more than that. They will join because they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They want to FEEL like they aren't alone in the world - even know they know consciously they aren't.

People aren't actively looking for things to join, but when your words or ideas appeal to them, and you give them a chance or even invite them to become a part of future dreams - they will join you.

And when they become a member of your group - you will gain a level of commitment and support the likes you've never seen before.

So, set a goal today to build a subscription based club in your business. Think about what you can provide to make it worthwhile to them to join - what separates you and your vision from the rest of your competition.

And of course, most importantly, just make it so!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Mother's Day Gift of Thanks

Today is Mother's Day and I don't care who you are, it is a day of very special importance, because everyone has a Mom. Remember, Mother's Day isn't about what she didn't do for you, it's instead all about celebrating the special gift that our Mother's have given us every day of our lives.

For those of you that know me, this may not come as a surprise. But of all the people in my life, my Mother has given me more to help me become who I am than anyone else on this earth.

Besides the obvious gift of life, my Mom, Pat Reich, gave me a gift I know I will never be able to repay. She gave me the gift of "Self Confidence". And it is so deeply ingrained in my psyche that I believe I can do what ever I set my mind to - overcome any obstacle and achieve anything I want.

For as long as I can remember, she loved me very deeply - and did all the things that Moms do best (wipe your nose, pick at your, make you brush your teeth and cook your favorite meal on special occasions). But she did so much more. My Mom helped me feel like I was the most special person on this earth. She gave me an aura of "belief in myself" - a gift that to this very day drives me forward in ways that I cannot express.

No matter who you are or what you are doing, if your Mom is still with you, take a moment out of your busy day and call or visit her. Make her day as special as she has made yours for so long. Or, if your Mom has passed, set aside a couple moments to reflect on her - all that she gave of herself for you.

She may not have been the perfect Mom, but she was perfect enough to give you life and the opportunity to make a difference in this world. It is your choice to make it real.

With all my the love that I know, Thank You Mom.

I Love You.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Take Advantage of Opportunities but Maintain Discipline

The most successful businesses maintain focus on their core mission and how it serves their clients. Your core business should be a combination of what you do best, what you are most passionate about and what pays the bills and makes you lots of profit. When opportunity comes knocking, and it will, you must have the discipline to make sure that it is aligned with your core mission and your strategic vision before you jump on it - always think carefully before you commit your company resources to what may turn out to be a costly endeavor that takes your time, money and assets from what you do best.

Unbelievably sage advice that is easier said than done.

Everyday, business owners are bombarded with "opportunities" that will make them "more money". And since owning a business is about making money, most small business owners jump at the opportunities.

Although these opportunities may appear to benefit the company in the near-term, they often distract us and stretch us so thin that we begin to deviate from the path that we set out on - the path to our vision.

This is why we should always work hard at the beginning stages of creating a business to build a strong foundation. And it's why in my coaching practice, I spend the entire first month working with my clients to help them understand the importance of Mission, Vision, Commitments and long-term Goals.

As it turns out, at least once a week, I have a client, either in a coaching session or over the phone, ask me if an opportunity that has "popped-up" is worth pursuing. They ask me, as if I have the answers for them. And much to their dismay, I often answer their question with more questions - the same questions every time.

How does that fit into your Mission, Vision and Commitments?

How will it help you reach your Goals?

How does that fit into your Business Plan?

And it's funny, even though they knew that's what I was going to say and they knew my answer before the words come out of my lips, they had to ask. They just needed to be reminded of what the are really trying to do - they needed to be reminded of what their Goals are and what their current plan is to reach those goals.

It's not that they don't or shouldn't pursue new opportunities, it's just that by staying focused on their long-term goals and vision and not being distracted by every "short-term" opportunity that comes up, they will actually always be working towards reaching the goals that they set out on - whether the journey started yesterday, six months ago or ten years ago.

And it's not to say that you can't redefine what you are about and take on opportunities that come up. I would never advise a client to turn down an opportunity. But they need to look at the decision - not within the context of what it will bring into the company today, but instead what it will do to help and cost the company in the long term.

Discipline and focus are very difficult for most of us. They don't come easy, because they are usually lost in everyday life. Simply stated, we forget about the future and focus only on the present (or near-term future). But, it is those that are able to keep the long term in the fore front of their mind that seem most equipped to actually make it happen.

So stop and look around at those that are most successful in every walk of life - sports, business, music, art, and school. They are nearly always the ones who seem to stay more focused on the outcome, even the in face of every day distractions. They don't compromise their vision to accomplish their long term goals for short term gain - no matter how inviting it is.

So ask yourself the following questions:

- How disciplined are you?

- How focused on your goals are you?

- If you are easily distracted from what you want in the long term, what are you
going to do different tomorrow?
© Copyright,

Friday, May 8, 2009

Learn the Three Questions That Will Change Your Life - Every Day (Part 3)

The Three Daily Questions (3Ds) are extremely simple, in concept - almost too simple. And that's why many people ignore their value. They think that simple doesn't work - for if it did, everyone would already be doing it.

But simple and easy are not the same thing. As simple as the idea of daily analysis is, VERY FEW people manage to do it. Distractions of everyday life get in the way. And without consistency of making small changes each and every day, the changes they expected to see in their lives, never happen - habits stay the same and results are seen.

The past two day, in Parts One and Two of this three part article, I focused on the first two questions, "What three things worked for you today?" and "What three things didn't work for you today?" Today's article is focus on the third question.

What ONE thing can you do differently tomorrow to make it a better day than today?

All too often, we look at our lives and try to change everything at once - we go on a diet (because we are overweight), try to better manage our time (because we feel disorganized), start training for a marathon (health, health, health), and spend more time with our family (because our home life is struggling). This is truly akin to trying to eat the whole metaphorical elephant in one sitting. And without a doubt, no matter how motivated you were when you started this life changing effort, one by one, you will quit each of the activities until you are back to square one. It's just too much, too quick for our psyche to handle.

So the question is . . . are you serious about changing your life, or changing your lifestyle. If you want to change your life, then keep doing what you've always done and getting the same results - on and off diets, clean up and mess up, run and quit, and / or a confused family not knowing what you are going to do next. You will change again and again and again - some in the right direction, but most in the wrong direction.

If you want to change your lifestyle, it's not about how much you change today, but how permanent you can make that change.

That's the essence of the third question of the series of daily questions. It's easy to understand this at a cerebral level, but our passion still wants to change it all RIGHT NOW. Give it up - it ain't gonna happen. The more you try, the more you subconscious resists - the more you create the "peaks and valleys" of life.

So rather than making large changes once a week or once a month, make small changes every day and watch the immense growth that takes place in your life - not today or tomorrow, but over the course of the next months and / or years.

Ask yourself, "What one small thing can I do in my life, to change how I look at life, that will help tomorrow be a better day than today was?"

And do your best to make that one thing a part of your life from this day forward. Some days, it's simple, other days it's much harder - but the key is to do it and make it small, subtle and sustainable.


If you are interested in learning more about the 3Ds and / or the Daily Accountability that is the basis of our coaching process, or want to test drive it for one week (just to see), please contact me at

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Learn the Three Questions That Will Change Your Life - Every Day (Part 2)

Although, I believe that mine is the only Coaching model built around these three questions asked on a daily basis, the truth is the origin is not even within the coaching world. You see, in my past life I was a pilot in the US Navy. And I believe I have brought to the coaching industry, the most powerful learning tool that Naval Aviation uses - the Brief / Debrief process. And I've developed them into a tool that any one can use to make a real difference in their life, their job or their business.

Over the course of the past nearly 100 years, Naval Aviators have had to learn skills faster than most are use to and have had to learn their skills where even the smallest inattention to detail can cost lives.

Standardization, systems and consistency aren't just buzz words, but mantras that define flight operations around an aircraft carrier.

So as I began looking at how to best help individuals and small business grow and achieve their vision, I turned to my roots - my roots as a pilot, and brought forward the concepts that I lived every day for 20 years.

The "Three Daily Questions" are in fact built on the questions that Naval Aviators face daily. And applying these three questions every day to your life can have a dramatic effect on how you live your life every day, and help you achieve your dreams in ways you never thought possible.

Yesterday, in Part One of this three part article, I focused on the first question, "What three things worked for you today?", but today the focus is on the second question.

What three things didn't work for you today?

Before going too far, let me remind you that I define "working" as those actions or thoughts that helped you achieve or get closer to your goals or desired outcomes.

Truth is, as beneficial as it is, most people don't want to face the things that happened during their day that "didn't work" for them. First, they want to just put the things they perceive as "bad" out of their head and move on. And second, because we all tend to personalize the issue, we really don't want to feel like a failure at the end of the day.

We would all rather just go to bed and forget the day than have to face it.

Putting them out of your head doesn't make them go away.

Just because you don't want to face the things that didn't go well for you that day or that you "feel" bad about, they don't go away. In fact what it does is almost guarantee that you will face those same struggles again . . . some day in the future.

So the essence of question two is to help you face what happened and figure out exactly what you can learn from those struggles.

You have to forgive yourself before you can learn from your past

Unfortunately though, as much as you may want to, there is nothing you can do to change the past - I'm sorry. It's over and done with. So before you can learn from our past, you must work on forgiving yourself - letting go of regret and anger / frustration with the current outcome.

If you don't forgive yourself, you will not only have the burden of your mistake, but you will find a way to punish yourself this time, but also many times over in the future - causing 100x more damage than the original misgiving created.

You can wish your past was different, but it ain't gonna happen.

Everyday, we look at our past, see things we could have or should have done differently and we dwell on it. We blame ourselves for those errors and live in pain and regret in the present because of it. But, to be honest, you might as well live in pain and regret today over the holocaust or slavery as well, because, there is as much you can do to undo the tragedies as you can your own mistakes.

Get over it RIGHT NOW, so that we can move on. The good news is that "all growth actually takes place in the future, the only realm of living you actually have control over.

Learn from the past, live the present and define the future.

So instead of punishing yourself for your past - accept it as it was and figure out what you can learn from it. How can I change my circumstance today, so that you never see that situation again. How can you influence the way I think so that when the same events unfold in the future (and they most likely will), you won't make the mistake again - you will instead see the handwriting on the wall and do something (whatever you decide) differently.

This isn't easy to do, but that's where our process kicks in, looking at each day, each week, each "any time frame / event" and deciding facing what worked first, what didn't work, and then what you can do better next time. It gives you a systematic way to look at everything in your life a little bit differently - giving you tools to make today better than yesterday and tomorrow better than today.

Join us tomorrow when we go further into the final question of the Three Questions That Will Change Your Life - Every Day. The third question is build on the premise that incremental daily growth is the only truly successful way to make permanent dramatic change in any environment.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Learn the Three Questions That Will Change Your Life - Every Day (Part 1)

One of the key elements of my coaching process is daily analysis. As simple as it may seem, when you conduct the mental exercise each and every day to look at your day in an objective manner, it forces you to look at your life differently. And you will see new possibilities that you've never seen before.

This basic "daily" analysis comes down to ending your day - every day - with three "simple" questions. These questions give you the power to look at your day with a whole new perspective while giving you the tools to learn both from what worked and what didn't work for you that day.

The Three Daily Questions - The "3Ds" (as one of my clients likes to call them) - each provide three very important aspects in the daily routine:

1. Recognize the things that worked well for you that day - so that you can do everything within your power to make sure they happen again and again in the coming days and weeks.

2. Face the brutal truth of the issues that didn't work for you that day - whether you had any say in the outcome or not.

3. Find the one thing that you can change for tomorrow that will have the biggest impact on your day / life - this may sound easy to do, but it is the one thing that most people completely ignore, but the truth is small daily changes generate tremendous growth over time.

The First Question:

What three things worked for you today?

How often do you, either in the end of the day or anytime during the day, ask yourself "What am I doing that is working for me right now?" If you are like most people . . . you don't.

That's not a bad thing, it just is. None of this is meant to judge your life or who you are, just figure how to make things in your life better than they are today. In fact, one of the keys to the 3Ds is that they are not intended to lay judgment on what you are or aren't doing. The questions are simply intended to help you understand what is helping you get closer or further from your goals.

So if you are wondering how I define "working", let me start there. The things that "work for you" are those actions or thoughts that helped you achieve or get closer to your goals or desired outcomes.

Nothing hard about that, right? It's not supposed to be hard - it's only supposed to help you understand your life a little better. Here are some actual example "things that worked" just in the past couple days from my clients:
  • One of the building managers for my most reliable customer sent pictures of our progress on a new project to three other building managers as testimonials of our work.
  • Customer was thrilled with work ethics of John, my brand new employee.
  • Watched Training CD - now I better understand Internet Marketing
  • Not giving up on what I'm doing. I may not be perfect in everything I do, but I will do my best anyway.
  • Had a great coaching session - learned more insight on how to implement daily analysis (sorry couldn't resist the plug)
Those are all good examples, but why waste time on looking at what worked, when what most people are concerned about is fixing everything that's broken. The reason for starting the analysis on the positive side is actually three fold:

1. It's very important to recognize all the things that are working for you every day because all too often, at the end of the day, we just feel completely frustrated and want to give up on everything. We forget to look back and see all the things / people that helped us get closer to accomplishing our goals. By making yourself do this exercise you can find the silver lining around any raincloud.

2. If you spend all day long focusing only on what doesn't work, it is quite possible to actually break the things that are working for you in order to fix the ones that aren't. And that wouldn't be good.

So as you look at what's working make sure you remind yourself, not to break these things. Literally, I tell my clients to think to themselves as they look for what worked for them to think of all the things that they would love to see happen every day - automatically.

3. The last reason we want to review what worked during the day is to capture the memory of those actions and thoughts in a way that helps ensure their repeated use and success. Unfortunately, our subconscious mind is not very smart at knowing good from bad, success from failure, and working from not working. It just knows what happened. So if we don't reflect on things (especially new processes or ideas) as working, there is no guarantee that it will be stored properly - only that you did it.

So, what worked for you today?

Can you name three things that helped you get closer to your goals or your life's vision?

This is just the first of three blogs in a three part series. If you are interested in learning about the other two questions and the hows and whys of their, please stay connected to this site over the next two days, as I reveal each of other two questions and how they fit into the daily analysis.