An Inspirational Story

I’m reading the inspirational story of James Altucher in his book, Reinvent Yourself.  I am also pissed at James right now because he offered the book for free (just pay shipping) and then he used my credit card info to charge me $99. I’ve sent three emails and I get autoresponders telling me to contact another email or contact a link. Fuck! But I love the book. Although this is a great lead in to talking about how much I hate gurus, click bait and online marketing, instead I’m going to talk about stories. There was a beautiful quote in the book, in a chapter about why James loves Kurt Vonnegut, This story is about how emotional anchors made Kurt's writing great and how when he lost his emotional anchor, his writing was shit. The quote:

“What are your emotional anchors: The events that staple the timeline of your life to something that totally destroyed who you thought you were?”

That got me thinking. I am a coach, consultant, speaker, blogger for twelve years now. I’ve rode a rollercoaster of success to failure, failure to success. I’ve gotten tired, stopped, started, restarted, rebooted, gotten jobs, bought businesses, bought franchises, closed business, quit jobs, walked away, launched projects, trashed projects, joined groups, left groups, quit and restarted again.

Bottom line: There is an inspirational story arch to my life that I’m only now getting real enough to understand.

Yesterday, my friend Janai Carlson invited me to coffee.  I met Janai through Toastmasters and we’ve know each other for many years but not closely.  She was in an incubator where I teach. She never hired me as a coach. And she moved away. But she was in town and over coffee I thought, maybe after all this time she wants a coach. But no, she brought me to my knees.  She told me her version of my story and how my story inspires her. I wasn’t the same all day. And I think it is because, I don’t see my story the way she does.
  • Where she saw creativity, I see cliché.
  • Where she saw courage, I see fear
  • Where she saw wisdom, I see despair
I realize that to authentically tell my inspirational story, if I choose to, I  need to lean into my emotional anchor, what has destroyed who I think I am?  Dang. That's deep. As I work my way through my 30-day Facebook Live Leadership Challenge, I am focused on being more authentic. I want to use my life to tell stories and then to see what happens. It is strangely vulnerable and fun at the same time. But there are uninspired days when I have something to teach but not an inspirational story.  Now I an reminded that we  all stop to hear a good story even with 10 browser windows open.  It is crickets when the story is absent.

I appreciate what James and Janai are reminding me:  It is not what you know or what you say that people remember, it is how your story makes them feel.

Reminder to self: If we want to authentically succeed, then help people feel inspired no matter how if looks and feels to you. For even in cliché, fear and despair,  I inspired a friend.

Here is Wednesday's  live Facebook feed. Share your story with me. Comment on mine. Be vulnerable.
Posted in Leadership and Management

Mastermind: Yes, you should join one.

Napoleon Hill wrote about the mastermind group principle as: “The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony.”

Unlike training, mastermind groups bring people together to work as peers. Imagine meeting with others to help you face  difficult challenges or set goals for the future.  When run by a professional facilitator, these groups, create real dialogue, and establish a safe, trusting environment to accomplish just these results. Every professional, business owner, or manager  is faced with difficult decisions.   Talking with your employees, direct reports, partners, spouse or even hiring an outside consultant can be limiting. Why? Because they have a vested interest in your outcome. Even your CPA or attorney has a professional obligation to help you in a very specific way.  And if you are, in fact, a CPA or an Attorney, who helps you? One solution that is working for many professionals is participation in a mastermind group.  Whether the group consists of CEOs from different businesses, colleagues from different areas of a large company, or individuals from a cross-section of small businesses, these groups can be the ideal way to address issues.

Every Businessperson Needs a Mastermind

This very specific type of group provides a way to brainstorm and problem solve to meet specific objectives.  Members of the group collaborate by asking difficult questions with the intention of helping you to arrive at viable solutions or new ways of thinking.  In the process of working together, members get to know one another’s strengths and abilities and build trust. It is next to impossible to understand every facet of  your business.  This is where bringing mastermind members in from a variety of fields can be an enormous benefit.  Think of how simple it could be to see a particular problem through the eyes of different skills.  Mastermind groups can include Operational, Human Resource, IT, Legal, Financial, and lots more kinds of expertise. This is a soulful way to have access to a lot of perspectives. In today’s business environment, when it comes to making important decisions, there is no reason to feel isolated or alone. Experienced, results-oriented leaders are making mastermind groups an integral and ongoing part of their business. Find out about High Performance Advocates Mastermind Groups . Just say the word Mastermind in the message. We will contact you to see what will work best for you. And watch Day 14 of the 30 Day Facebook Live Leadership Challenge - The Power of Masterminds  
Posted in Leadership and Management

Energy Management


It is very hard to convince busy business people to take a load off.

Everyday is an opportunity to talk about energy management. We are up against the pervasive push of the media: blogs, videos, books, and productivity gurus emphatically claiming that the secret to success is to do more, organize better, reach higher levels of productivity, and that it just takes massive amounts of hard work, day-in and day-out to be successful. It is exhausting just to watch, read, and attend to, much less do the work. Which is why lots of us study the material, but we never follow through. Lots of us have spurts of motivation but peter out. It is just too much pressure.

Instead, we just churn on the hamster wheel of the day-to-day, facing burnout, dullness, and a lack of inspiration.

What if we didn’t push, push, push or listen to the incessant drum beat of “Do more. Be more. Do more. Be more. I call the BS detector: Productivity hacks- bullshit! Time Management - bullshit! Will Power- BULLSHIT! That is what brought me back to Tony Schwartz of The Energy Project. Like a breath of fresh air, he is still beating the opposing drumbeat: Taking a load off actually improves your productivity. This week I talked about Tony Schwartz and energy management on Day 13 of my 30 Day Facebook Live Leadership Challenge. Balance is the antidote to time management. Intervals are the antidote to productivity hacks. Ritual is the antidote to will power. Check it out. I am  awaiting your views, your questions, comments and opinions.
Posted in Leadership and Management

Have You Ever Repeated a Life Lesson?

If you are anything like me, you repeat the same life lesson over and over again. My lessons have become so predictable  that when things don’t go well or I can’t figure out why someone responded to me poorly, I am confused. Why would I forget these lessons??!!

Life's Lessons? It's Monkey Mind

What I do know is that my “monkey mind”, that internal dialog that ceaselessly speaks to me, is crazy. And as I listen to and react to that part of my mind, I hear the same crap time after time. My monkey mind says things like, “Oh shit, here we go again, “Been there, done that!” or maybe, “What is wrong with that asshole?!” Actually, the list of crap that my monkey mind speaks is endless. This week I had the privilege of attending a transformational workshop with Maria Nemeth at the Academy of Coaching Excellence in Sacramento, CA and now I am in fact,  transformed.  I learned to tame the beast. This is Day 9 of my 30-Day Facebook Live Leadership Challenge where I discuss my experience. Here is the upshot: I have identified the personal lessons that I keep repeating (worth the price of admission)  and learned simple methods to quiet my monkey mind, not think too hard, and not get stuck recycling my feelings. Bravo! (ps: The audio on the Facebook feed for this video is not working well. Please put your comments here or by all means, on the Facebook Feed.)
Posted in Leadership and Management

Labor Day 2017 and Jobs Still Suck

Labor Day 2017 and Jobs Still Suck!

This is follow up to Day 7 of the 30 Day Leadership Facebook Live Challenge on Labor Day. Labor Day is the celebration of the birth of Labor Unions and the Industrial Revolution.  After all, without Labor Unions we wouldn’t have weekends or the 5 day work week. People would continue to be exploited in inexplicable ways.  But it is time to transcend to a better life for everyone. This is not the Industrial Age or even the Information Age anymore. We are living in the Conceptual Age.  That is why it is time to create a new vision. Here is what I imagine:

Imagine a world where:

  • Every person becomes a contributing partner to the organizations they serve.
  • Every person is compensated as a contributing partner and the results they create rather than their time served.
  • Compensation is based on the profitability of the organization.
  • Together we uniquely design our organizations.
  • The need to comply with laws created in the early 20th century to protect employees from employers becomes obsolete.
  • The war between capital and labor disappears. (Finally)
People, businesses, entrepreneurs, government, non-profits, all manner of  organizations are quietly revolting as we speak. It is happening all around us. For more about the Work Revolution, here are the links mentioned in the video. Let me know if you want to create a conceptual organization where people are not a resource but the reason to exist. I live for this. Viva la Revolution. The Future of Work: A Manifesto I Am Not a Human Resource Igniting the Invisible Tribe: Designing An Organization That Doesn't Suck  Ownership Thinking The Great Game of Business, Expanded and Updated: The Only Sensible Way to Run a Company Open-Book Management: Coming Business Revolution, The
Posted in Leadership and Management

Life Design

This is Day 6 of my 30 Day Facebook Live Leadership Challenge: Life Design and Unique Ability

Joe Stauffacher told me to do the 30 day Facebook Live Challenge. Coach Sue told me to do the odyssey exercise in the book Designing Your Life. They are both helping me to focus on my next life chapter. And while the Facebook challenge is well, a vulnerability challenge, when I asked myself the $64,000 question: “What if money were no object?” it changed the life design project for me too. I am not sure if I would do this.

Would you do what you are currently doing if money were no object? What would you do differently?

I’m working my way through the book Designing Your Life. Learning to apply design theory to my life is interesting. I like these guys. It reminded me of what I did an exercise called, Unique Ability a few years ago. In that exercise, you walk through your strengths and some similar type of brainstorming and cataloging. But then you ask others for feedback. You literally write them a letter asking what they think is your Unique Ability!  That was crazy vulnerable too. But, it helped me to clearly understand MY unique ability.  I’ve never forgotten the result of that project. I’m thinking about taking a Design Your Life workshop not only to do the work but to learn how to do the workshop. Would you like to do something like this? I’m thinking of doing it virtually… but not on Facebook live. If you haven’t seen it already, here is the link where you can view Day 6 of my 30 day Facebook Live Leadership Challenge. And here are the links to the books we discussed. Let me know if you are interested in working on these projects yourself. Its pretty cool.  
Posted in Leadership and Management

30 Day Facebook Live Challenge

After having my life melt down this spring, I decided to issue myself a challenge to go on a pilgrimage, a spiritual journey, to clear my head.  I thought a moving meditation, and a long one at that, would be a great way to proceed.  The result was three months of which the first half was spent walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain, the second half was spent driving across North America. When I stopped in Plattsville, WI to meet with my dear friend Joe Stauffacher,  my marketing guide, we discussed how I didn't want to repeat the same marketing efforts of the last ten years. They didn't work great then, why would they work now? That is when Joe issued the challenge.

The 30 day Facebook  Live Challenge

The idea is to tell stories: Camino, Punk Rock, Gurus, Business, life, love and pain and to start a conversation with you about subjects that we find interesting.  I wrote a book, produced over 200 videos and wrote twice as many blog posts and articles. I've been publicly speaking, teaching and training for over 10 years.  I have a lot of content that I feel strongly about. Maybe you do too. I'm not sure what the result will be or if anyone gives a damn. But...

Challenge Accepted

After Day 2 I was asked to produce a list of perspective topics. Good idea. Here is my brain dump:
  • Where ever you are, you are there
  • Working with Anxiety
  • Attachment: You own your emotions
  • Walking your path
  • Minimalism - Less is More
  • Creating simplicity in your life
  • Life is the people you meet
  • Slow travel
  • Meditation, mindfulness and the art of not thinking
  • Leaders ask questions not have answers
  • 7 rules of alignment
  • How to have difficult conversations
  • How to have great meetings
  • Behaviors Styles
  • 12 Drivers
  • Living your Strengths
  • Building trust
  • Do you need a system
  • Job profiling
  • How to screen for job candidates
  • How to use assessments for hirings
  • Trimetrix: DISC, Drivers, Accumen assessments
  • Open Book Management
  • On boarding new hires
  • Are you a leadership jerk?
  • Risk taking in business and life
  • Tribal Leadership
  • 5 stages of Tribe
  • Triads
  • Building a Value Based organization
  • Energy Management
  • 4 key energy needs
  • Pulses
  • Routines
  • 3 high payoff business activities
  • Unique Ability- How to have others help you find your authentic self
  • Dan Sulllivan: Free days, focus days, buffer days
  • The E Myth- Do you own job or a business ?
  • The Challenger Sale
  • Make the Noise go Away- How to have or be a #2
  • How to complement your strengths
  • Anti Guruism
  • What is High Performance?
  • The Lean Startup
  • Neurolingistic levels (NLP)
  • Vulnerability
  • Finding life purpose
  • Designing Your Life
  • Passion and its place in business
  • Business valuation and building value
  • Sales funnels
  • SWOT assessments
  • To sell or not to sell your business
  • Turn it Up - The Movie
  • The music industry
  • The Key to the Golden Handcuffs - The Book
  • Making a business work without you
  • The residual income myth
  • Generations - especially IGen
  • Public Speaking
  • I love Hot Springs
Pick anything. Add to it. Make requests and suggestions. Let's do this. And don't forget to send some love, tune in, follow, subscribe and most importantly join in.  I'll be back, live tomorrow (Thurs) at 5pm PT CLICK HERE to go to my page.    
Posted in Leadership and Management

Authenticity Short List

What is Authenticity? Most of us struggle to understand the idea of "being authentic. I know I have. What the heck does that even mean? (To follow up with my Facebook Live 30 day Leadership Challenge.) Its been a few years since Dan Pink wrote his book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. He may have to update some of his thinking about "production outsourcing" because on technological innovation. But his discussion regarding logical and precise, left-brain thinking giving us the Information Age and artistry, empathy, and emotion being the basis of the emerging Conceptual Age is still brilliant and a simple way to think about authenticity and how others experience you and your work. He says that  to flourish in this  Conceptual Age, we'll need to supplement our well-developed high tech abilities with aptitudes that are "high concept" and "high touch." In  Dan Pink outlines six senses needed to do this exact thing.

I think of this as the authenticity short list:

  1. Design – Moving beyond function to engage the sense.
  2. Story – Narrative added to products and services - not just argument. Best of the six senses.
  3. Symphony – Adding invention and big picture thinking (not just detail focus).
  4. Empathy – Going beyond logic and engaging emotion and intuition.
  5. Play – Bringing humor and light-heartedness to business and products.
  6. Meaning – the purpose is the journey, give meaning to life from inside yourself.
For those of us who don't know how to "be authentic," this is a great tool:  Find the one sense that is easy for you and accentuate it. Look at what you are doing in your life and work to embrace your whole mind to engage with others. What is your right brain doing today?
Posted in Books, Entrepreneurship

Vulnerable Again

My life has become one vulnerable experience after another.  I left for three months to clear my head. Mourning the loss of my 30 year marriage, the sale of my home, and a serious mid-life crisis, I decided that this was the time to join the road that 20,000 people walk each day and have been walking for centuries: a pilgrimage across Spain on the Camino de Santiago. Slowly, I plan to tell that story and all the real life moments that occur when you meditate for 839 kms. But today, as I prepare to tell  about it, I will tell you about the challenge from my friend, Joe. I asked him how he thought I should relaunch myself back into my life as a business, leadership coach. Back to the grindstone, so to speak. In truth, this story is about how to relaunch without a grindstone at all. His response,

30 days on Facebook live.

I called earlier this week to complain. “I can’t do this, Joe.” “It is too vulnerable, Joe.” " What will I say, Joe?" His replay, “Great, just do it anyway.” Shit. That is why I’m returning to Brene Brown and her teachings on vulnerability. Check her out if you also need a vulnerability boost. Here is an applicable quote from Brene Brown's book, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

“Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Here is one of my favorite and applicable quotes from: Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

“...the vulnerability journey is not the kind of journey we can make alone. We need support. We need folks who will let us try on new ways of being without judging us. We need a hand to pick us up off the ground when we get kicked down in the area (and if we live a courageous life, that will happen.)”

Reach out. Be vulnerable. Do it anyway.

Follow the 30 Day Leadership Facebook Live challenge
Posted in Books, Leadership and Management

Generation Invisible

(As originally appeared on Switch and Shift) I have an observation. I’ve noticed that people of my generation, the 50ish generation have been hit harder by the recession and the subsequent fallout more than anyone else.

Here’s the common thinking about other generations :

•    The youngest people, the Millennials and their younger siblings iGen, are unemployable, which leaves them SOL. •    The older generation, or Baby Boomers, can't retire—so they are also SOL.
A stressed out businessman

A stressed out businessman

And while there’s truth to both of those statements, here’s another  truth: •    My generation has the worst of both worlds. It’s typically called Gen X, but I propose that this generation should now be called Generation Invisible. My parents also feel small and invisible. They’re part of the Traditional or Silent generation, wedged in between the WW2 generation and the Baby Boomers. But despite some lost savings due to the recession, people of this age are retired and many of them are receiving pensions—a token of a bygone era. The members of Generation Invisible, who have always valued their status of being weird and unique, wedged in between Baby Boomers and Millennials, are singing a very different tune right now. While many of my friends have recuperated, there is a silent mass of people in our country that are still burdened with massive amounts of debt, bad credit reports, failed businesses, and joblessness. And I believe if you looked at the bell curve, you'd find the peak of the pain curve around 50 years old. We are screwed! •    We are too old to get the really cool new jobs. •    We are too young to retire. •    People our age earned more three decades ago than we earn now. •    We created social media, but now we can't get jobs using it. •    We are drowning in debt. The Invisible Generation is the generation that lost our homes, our jobs, and our stability at a time when we needed it most. And it is not over yet. Here’s proof from two major news sources: A recent study by the Center for Work-Life Policy revealed "Gen Xers to be the chief victims of the Great Recession. They're working harder—a two-parent family worked 26 percent more hours in 2010 than in 1975— and making less.” From “Baby boomers have decided to postpone retirement. Gen Y is laying claim to the social-networking bonanza. But what of those born between 1965 and 1978? Well, they’re underpaid, overworked, guilt-ridden, and deeply indebted.” So, what do we do? Here are some of the things that I see my peers doing: •    Work really, really, really hard for a lot less money then we need in order to keep their heads above water. •    Downsize. Own less stuff. Move into “cheap” rentals. Drive a clunker… etc. •    Yoyo their credit card debt while ignoring that they have NO savings, NO retirement, and little to NO assets. •    Start a business with no savings and no credit, and hope that it doesn't create more debt and bankruptcy. •    Fight clinical depression. •    Drink heavily. When I sat down to write this article, I thought I would tell stories about the crazy things I've been trying to do to get out of debt and get ahead. I'd tell stories about the angst and the panic that debt and a loss of earning potential can create.  I'd tell stories about all the people I've met who feel that they've lost their identity and their mojo.  And as I researched this issue, the more real it became. I thought it must be me.  I thought that I must be alone in my inability to recuperate or in the length of time that it is taking to unbury myself. I thought that everyone who calls me negative or pessimistic is just being judgmental. But my conclusions are statistically accurate. This isn't about overcoming personal adversity. This is about overcoming a generational event. CLICK for this startling infographic:  generation-x-reality-bites CLICK for this slideshow that requires a cocktail just to get to the end: gen-x-has-a-lot-of-catching-up-to-do-9 Here are the three realities that I know are true: •    As we are under earning and under worked, we must not feel shame. •    We must strive to lead from a sense of humility. •    This generation of independent weirdos must help each other. •    We have to tell our stories. I do know that we will lead and survive uniquely. And I believe with all of my heart that we need to support each other. So I invite you to join with me in discussing and sharing amongst ourselves the real issues that we face. Our parents, our older brothers and sisters, our kids and their kids don't get the pain that is uniquely ours. Comment, connect, suggest. Above all, don't feel alone. We are in this together.
Posted in Leadership and Management