Friday, April 26, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me!

I was born on April 26, 1973....which can mean only one thing: Today is my 40th Birthday!

Dear Readers -
Your humble narrator has spent more days on earth than he has left. It has been a joyous ride! So come along with me while I recap why I am the luckiest man on earth!

My mom gave me my first record when I was in preschool: Bridge Over Trouble Water by Simon and Garfunkel. This is my first memory. I brought their stories to life on my portable record player. Later I discovered Star Wars and music that sounded like space travel by ELO. Then came Pink Floyd's wall, A whole lotta Ozzy, some super dope rap, hardcore music, 120 minutes, The Grateful Dead, Lollapalozza, Oasis, and then Ben Folds.

I've never been the biggest man in the room which is probably why I am massively competitive. As a boy, I was outside in the California sun non-stop. Sports have taught me so much about being a successful person. In '82 we beat the dreaded Dodgers in a double-header to win the Canyon Creek minor division little league championship. 2 years later I moved down south to play for the great Tom Heller - we went 18-2 and I collected another 1st place trophy. Every young person should experience the joy of winning a little league championship. Back in my day there were trophies given to only one team, the best team!

I've won a bunch a medals as a wrestler, took first in a skateboard championship, won a few talent shows, and was President of my fraternity. Such amazing accolades that involved a ton of hard work, an unwillingness to ever give up, and a certain degree of luck. Indeed, I am the luckiest man on earth.

I have the two best parents a man could ever ask for. My dad awoke before me and got home after I was asleep to provide a good life for my sister and I. He succeeded massively. My Mother is the toughest woman in the world having beat cancer more than a few times. She reminds me of my wife in her inability to tolerate negligence.

I met a girl on New Year's Eve several years ago. I was in love with her the second I saw her. She has put up with my shit for over a decade. I have no idea why. I truly am the luckiest man on earth.

I was a nervous wreck leading up to fatherhood. I remember waking up on a hotel room floor after a night of running from my fear of responsibility. My friend Bob "the rock" Cohen looked at me with grave disappointment in my cowardice. 1,000 people told me to get my priorities straight. My friend Matt Clizbe was the only person to tell me the words I wanted to hear, "its not that difficult being a father". He was right, its not!

I have had a storied professional career. I have had the good fortune to receive some really great advice from some very smart people!

I want to thank the people who take their time to read what I write in this silly little blog. I hope 33 years from now, my son will read this on his 40th birthday. I hope he can experience the joy of victory and the innocence of falling in love. I hope he is uncompromising in his pursuit of happiness! You should be too!

I have stated before that we only have 29,200 days on this earth...and that we should make every one of them count! Divide that by two in my case. I presume I should try twice as hard to live life with a divine purpose going forward!

This merry-go-round we call life takes some unique twist and turns. Thanks for sharing them with me!

"Standing on the Moon with nothing left to do, a lovely view of heaven but I'd rather be with you"
- Jerry Garcia

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, April 24, 2013


"Who do you want next to you in court?"

That was the value statement of an employer I worked for a while back. The world of compliance was changing rapidly: paper was being converted to digital, employees were representing companies in the social was the birth of big data. I worked for the best company in the industry and we dominated in the space. We had great leadership, forward-thinking strategy, and outstanding corporate governance. But, the job meant nothing to me! I loved the people who I worked with and the company valued my leadership, but I really didn't identify with the organizational cause. That doesn't cut it!

After a few bad manager's, I sought out a new profession. I discovered (what was then referred to as) Employee Recognition. Going from a world of internal competition, stop-gap strategy, and entitled middle-management to a world that put emphasis on the good stuff employees do? Yes, please! 

I was no longer the man telling companies the worst consequence of their actions. I was the person talking about the best things any given company had to offer. Over time, employee recognition evolved into Employee Engagement which has created a greater emphasis on pro-active performance management.

Now the feel-good world of employee rewards has a revenue-producing model for organizational development. The good stuff is even better when it produces a proven return on investment.

In his book, The Happiness Hypothesis, Jonathan Haidt revealed that our behavior is driven by the following equation:
23% reason 
77% emotion

So how do we tap into our employees emotion?

There are 3 distinct ways:
Those who are uber-competitive tend to freak the rest of us out! In fact, the first post I ever wrote for this blog was a examination of the self-affirming logic of individual effort. Times have changed....

Our personal brands are now so strong that it is incumbent upon our organizations to create a collective. 

Top performer programs can suck the life out of the competitive landscape if formulated incorrectly. The best of the best want to remain there and it would be difficult for a new hire to raise to the level of a 20 year veteran. Thus, the spirit of competition is destroyed by fueling the egos of those who make more money than anyone else. Double downer!

Organizations need to find a way to level the playing field. To allow like for like competition in the spirit of idiosyncratic fit. To incent everyone based on performance metrics that are realistic within their job function, tenure, and opportunity landscape.

Putting Skin in the Game!         
In a consumer loyalty study done at Columbia University it was discovered that students completed their loyalty milestone 30% quicker under the impression that they had pre-loaded loyalty rewards. 

You would be more likely to join a hotel loyalty program that gave you 20,000 points up front than one who left you with a blank registration document. 

Employee adoption is no different. If you offer an incentive to join a wellness program, attend a community service event, or to participate in an organizational initiative; I am more likely to buy-in if I have some skin in the game. If said initiative is engaging and relevant to my personal development, you have solidified my trust.  

This is the Behavioral Economics concept of Goal Gradient Theory.  

Gamification is a Made-Up Word
Gamification comes with the gaming culture baggage. Many HR pros affiliate a slacker status to what they believe is a non-sensical approach to workforce management. They are oh so wrong!

Game Mechanics have been in place for decades. Leader boards in the sales office, bingo card consumer promotions, even functions of CRM can be affiliated to game mechanics. Tom Chatfield in his book Fun Inc explains in 7 simple steps to why game mechanics are the future of organizational development & workforce management.

We are aware that the premise of reviewing performance once a year is no longer a positive motivator. Game mechanics promote long and short term goal management, consistent feedback, real-time progress management and high-touch recognition of effort. Still think this is a slacker's style of motivation?

One cannot be engaged if one's emotion is not provoked in some way, shape or form. I quit a job that I was good at because being good wasn't good enough. Punching a clock and collecting a check only leads to a plateau. We need more! We need to find what really matters to us and put meaning in what we do.

Put yourself at your retirement party. How will you address the people in the room? Will you have made a group of lifelong friends? Will people admire the work you have done? Will you have done work that is bigger than yourself?

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, April 22, 2013

Finding Your Stride

I have to thank my friend Guy Kawasaki for bringing this video to my attention. In her exhilarating TED Talk, Piper Otterbein speaks of her battle against dyslexia and the triumph of finding her way.

Most of us growing up probably wanted to be Astronauts, Baseball Players or Rock Stars. But, there are only so many bats and guitars and robots are replacing spacemen. some point reality sets in and we realize that we have to find a way to channel our passion into a profession.

We consistently pontificate on the concept of Employee Engagement in this blog. Many have called the terminology a worn out concept. We ask companies to develop transparent leadership. We encourage managers to help their people find their strengths. At some point, however, it is up the the employee.

We also know that any job can be great or terrible based on your perception and attitude.

Most of us when faced with the reality that we will not be Eddie Van Halen completely give up. I'm here to tell you that isn't necessary!

You can still love face melting guitar solos and have a profession as a programmer. You can be passionate about baseball and work as an accountant. You can still find a way to stand on the moon if you are a sales professional.

My friend Dan Pink had expressed his concern with the education system being too focused on linear development. I feel a similar concern. There is so much emphasis on test scores, over-inflated GPA's and SAT performance. The concept being that memorization and results develop a lasting skill set. All this coupled with the stress of fulfilling expectations that may not intrigue our genuine interest. Not all of us will turn out to be what our parents want us to be.

I was moved by Piper Otterbein's talk because I thought of my own children. As parents, we really just want to help our children find something they enjoy doing. As managers, the same applies.

A cat cannot be a dog but we often seek to make such a conversion in our employees. Then they fail and we declare a miscast placement. At what point does leadership take accountability for our inability to help our employees discover their strengths? At what point do we turn the performance review around to judge those who get paid for judging?

Have you given up? Is it just a job? Are you just punching the clock?

Question: if a 16 year old is mature enough to challenge the system and find her passion why can't you?

Life is too short to spend another day in a job you dislike. You shouldn't waste your time in a job that doesn't challenge you. If you are stressed out because your boss is mistreating you, I bet you can find a way to find a new job.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, April 19, 2013

Don't Chase The Paper

The great Tony Hsieh concluded his keynote at the Society of Human Resource Management annual conference with this quote a few years back. The release of his book, Delivering Happiness, made Tony the talk of HR town. A shoe company had become the benchmark for productive organizational development. Since Tony's speech in Las Vegas, I have personally delivered over 100 public address engagements....most of them advocating Core Values as the organizational lifeblood.

Rule #3 of the New Rules of Engagement is: Make Money a Non-Issue!

What? We work to make money so we can afford a lifestyle that will allow us to distance ourselves from the work we do...right? Wrong!

Now more than ever companies have reached a stage of maturity that has revealed a great certainty:
Money does not derive passion! fact, the opposite.

Show me a person who took a job for the money and I will show you a desperate person!

Employee recognition is about the prize. That is why employee recognition is dead! The concept of recognition is affirming existence. You better do a hell-of-a-lot more than recognize that I exist to keep me on your staff. there's a concept!

Everyone wants to bounce out of bed every day with the feeling that they are part of something bigger than themselves. It is no longer about the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow but the process of getting there.

Benefits = entitlement.

Performance incentives are far more involved.

20 Grand! 

That is the number I have correlated that makes up the difference between selling your soul and living a purpose driven life.

What a crying shame!

I would go so far as to say that people who are miserable make 20k more (annually) than people who love their life.

Don't believe me? Ask any CEO what their biggest career regret may be and they will reply:
I wish I spent more time with my kids!

My favorite thing in the world is to hold my daughter in my arms. I am acutely aware that the privilege will be gone tomorrow.

In the long run, the most valuable asset we have is time.....and the clock is ticking!

You have 29,200 days on this earth. Are you willing to abort your happiness for an extra $20,000 a year?

Don't Forget to Remember!


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pray For Boston

I hesitated to write this post because I am not from Boston nor do I run. DFTR has never shied away from human interest stories (even in the case of tragedy).

Instead of sharing my thoughts, I would ask my loyal readers to read a post written by my friend, Steve Good:
My Heart Is In Boston

Steve is an avid runner and has an occupation that takes his throughout our great country. He has used his blog to explore different cities and towns introducing local folklore through his morning run. His lifetime commitment to running and his experience in running the Boston Marathon make him far more qualified to write on the subject than I. Please take a few minutes to read Steve's blog!!!!

Places are given life by the people who inhabit their streets. Boston to me is an extension of the following people:
Peter Shaffer
Paul Fleck
Steve Trompeter
Dave Zimmer
Kristin Biernat

...these people are as close to siblings to me and my heart aches for their friends, family, and their city.

I will leave you with this:
There was a bully in my town growing up. For months he made my life hell. He would break my things, insult my school work, threaten physical harm, and create an uncertainty in each morning walk to school. After baseball practice one day the park cleared out quickly. Our team boarded their parents cars leaving only me and the aforementioned bully in a vacant field. As he approached me the fear of God boiled in my veins. There was no one around to help me. So, I did what anyone would do in the situation. Instead of rolling over, I raised my fists.....and beat the fuck out of him!

As I punched the bully several times in the face, I looked up to see my mother standing there. I would assuredly be grounded for a month. The ride home was silent. I guessed she was bringing my father in on this one. But, the discipline never came....

Months later, I heard my mom in the kitchen with her friend. The Irish Whiskey was flowing. She was explaining how she knew of the way this person was treating me and that she felt confident the bully would be revealed as a coward over time. She explained how proud she was of me to find the confidence to expose him.

Though no one saw the altercation, the walk to school the next morning was much different. The bully was a shell of himself from there forward. He never messed with anyone again!

Hug your kids a little tighter, give your fellow man a nod in the coffee shop, and go forward without fear!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Mr. Pink on Selling

I first discovered Dan Pink when I read his book, A Whole New Mind. In a time when managers were advising me to read Jack Welch; this book took a different approach. The Mac was gaining popularity, graphics were replacing spreadsheets and the right brainers now had a point of intrigue. Mr. Pink's follow up, "Drive" (and his introductory TED Talk) shook the foundation of the employee recognition industry. Again, Dan Pink was disrupting convention.

Dan Pink was kind enough to sit down with me back in the summer of 2011.

In his new book To Sell is Human, Dan Pink is determined to put the dirty suit sales trainers out of business. He takes the approach that everyone is in sales and the process is based on establishing influence more than slick talk.

We have all seen Boiler Room, Glengarry Glen Ross and Wall Street (the first one). We have all put on a suit and practiced a pitch in the mirror. Those days are over! No longer does a fast tongue and a fancy suit fool the world's educated buyers. Establishing trust and designing an effective client strategy are now the driving factors in forming partnerships.

What do all 3 of Dan Pink's books have in common? They are disruptive because they are rooted in common sense. Pink shows us that selling is human based on 3 primary objectives:
  • Attunement
  • Buoyancy
  • Clarity

Shaking Your Own Perspective
Those of us who have been successful in sales for an extended period of time wish to believe we have it all figured out. However, our historical reference may have lost us more deals than we have won. Too often, we rush to write a prescription before we diagnose the infection. As our buyer explains their plight, our wheels start spinning. We immediately think of the product and start counting our commission.

Bring a partner along, whiteboard a strategy, ask your wife for her input. Whatever you need to do to get out of your tunnel vision. Rushing to push your product does not solve your customer's issue.

The best organizational programs are customized. It is critically important to do a deep dive assessment and to customize a solution that is unique to the customer's culture. Off-the-shelf product sets may be more profitable for a vendor in the short term but the commodity is easy to replace when a better price comes along.

The Art of Perseverance
Say what you want about salespeople. One thing we do really well is deal with rejection. Many have tried and failed because they could not take the slammed doors and smashed phones. Yes, salespeople hear the word "no" hundreds of times a day. The life of a salesperson carries a great deal of uncertainty, only those with supreme self-confidence can endure the peaks and valleys.

Know Why it Matters to Them
If today I was building a fence I could google the word, attain some general knowledge, check a few online reviews, and find 3 quotes. Information is so abundant in this day and age that product dumping (or even presenting a more affordable price) no longer cuts it.

I have to know your business inside and out. I have to be able to articulate to you with sufficient grace what I have and why you cannot live without it.

So today's barstool debrief may be met with the question:
"What does a lawyer know about sales?"

Answer: More than you might assume.

Stop assuming!

I'll be the first to admit that becoming effective in sales takes years and years of practice. Go to any networking event and you will see non-sales professionals making first year mistakes. But there is a flip side: The market is changing. There are as many programmers who are CEO's as there are MBAs. Suits are being replaced by jeans. Demos are more important than proposals and your strategy is available to all your competitors.

Better get good at researching and articulating. The fast talk doesn't work any more!

I'll leave you with 3 simple selling tips from my 15 years of mistake riddled success:
1. Answer questions directly.
2. Never put a product or price before an organizational strategy.
3. Be better by being different.

You're welcome!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, April 15, 2013

Be Present

I am always impressed with people who have a consistent and immediate response strategy. There are people who I know I can rely upon because they are always on top of it. I know CEOs and Best-Selling Authors who are aware enough to give attention to every request. This may be based on the fact that they believe I can assist them, more likely though, they just have a pedigree for personal attention.

There are others who seem to have an automated Twitter account. What a sham!

Some job seekers take 4 weeks to respond to a request (and they wonder why they are still unemployed).

...and there are those who simply don't think I will add any value to their they don't respond to my support for their work. Which doesn't necessarily mean I will stop supporting them.

In his book, "Who's Got Your Back",  the great Keith Ferrazzi sights Generosity as the key metric for building a quality network. This is a key differentiator!

I attend and present at business forums a couple times a month. Through the years, I have developed an instinct for spotting generosity. Usually those with the most to say, say very little. This is the art of networking; allowing someone to understand that their goals are as important as yours. Putting your audience first is essential. If someone gives you a business card and tells you what they want from you, they are probably not a trusted resource. If someone emails you once with a variety of ways in which they will help you, but never follow up, they are probably full of hot air.

The problem is that we walk into a networking event with our hand out. Then, we chalk it up to a waste of time because we got no leads out of the event.

It is better to go into an event expecting nothing other than to help someone.

Be Present!

You have to diagnose before you prescribe. Therefore, it would make great sense to fully understand a person's goals before you explain yours.

Golden Rule: the good lord gave you 2 ears and 1 mouth so you can listen twice as much as you talk.

Ease your way in, understand your audience, and assess the viability of spending time with someone you meet.

The great Rodd Wagner has stated that the greatest qualifier of an organizational culture is reciprocity. In essence, we get back what we create. Any company can be amazing or defeating despite their products or work purpose. Culture is created by the degree of acceptance of reciprocation.

If we defuse negativity at the source, it will no longer exist.
If we seek action planning from each interaction, excuses will turn into action items.
If we value participation by rewarding effort, people will participate.

Be Honest
It is incredibly difficult to tell people their approach is ineffective. Most of us will shy away from a bully and allow them to determine their own fate. This doesn't help said person adjust, adapt and/or improve.

We can make a difference by advising rather than admonishing.

It takes courage to risk rubbing people the wrong way. None of us want to volunteer our time to be lectured. Reinforcement is easier to accept than suggested alternatives.

I know what I suck at.....if you can help me look at it from a pro-active direction, I might actually make an effort to change.

If you are insecure about attending a networking event allow yourself to be vulnerable instead of pretending to know everything. If you need help, ask for it.

Newsflash: we can all use a little help!

I became a far better presenter when I adapted my approach in consideration of helping without the expectation of direct return. Connecting people with things that matter to them is far more important than building a network by numbers.

Showing up and being present are two very different concepts.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, April 12, 2013

The Leadership Cooperative

I left the world of compliance consulting for a career in Incentive Consulting because I was tired of management by consequence. For years, I have stood fast by the premise that there are two ways to manage employees:

By the bench or by the basket

If you manage your players by fear, they will do just enough to keep from getting benched. If you teach your players the skills to win and trust them to use them, they will focus on winning.

Still, the professional world is full of managers who believe policy is more important than purpose. With every action they take they seek documentation. They see their duty to the organization to be always mindful that failure happens and one should therefore cover their ass.

Let me re-frame the scenario: If your job is to put a ranking system in place to determine who to fire...YOU should be fired!

"Let anyone who is without sin cast the first stone" - John 8:7

50% of performance reviews at Zappos are based on Core Values. They also focus on their core values as the character assessment in their hiring process. Core Value knowledge is critically important in talent management. Anyone can perform their core job function well. When elevating said performer to a management position they need as much focus on people skills as they do job function. This is where most organizations talent development strategy fails.

For the record, I believe organizational promotions should be 100% internal.

However, when the only means for promotion are performance metrics the culture erodes. Show me a first time manager who was promoted based only on the metrics of their performance and I will show you a person who is enveloped by insecurity.

This is why Human Resources remains the most important department in any organization. While it remains the core function of the line manager to determine performance acceleration. HR should be responsible for considering each employee's Corporate Citizenship Rating.

If HR wants a seat at the table (sorry Matt - donation to follow) all they need is a list of Core Values in hand. This way, HR is no longer marginalized as the Administrative Policy Police and the line managers can focus on job function.

What a perfect world we live in!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Truth About Employee Engagement

A few weeks back Michael Carty posed a question regarding the sustainability of the term Employee Engagement. His point is well taken. HR professionals have a knack for looking for simple answers to complex organizational questions. HR Vendors have a knack for showing very little ingenuity when prescribing organizational solutions. As such, the hyper-critical importance of Employee Engagement has been marginalized to nothing more than a few buzz words.

In truth, there is no turnkey solution to Employee Engagement!

As predictable as the term Employee Engagement has become, it is a heck of a lot better than the concept of Employee Recognition.

....let's review....

It started with Maslow which evolved into Employee Benefits that created the Total Rewards Model. The concept of employee recognition followed, then Employee Engagement...Culture....and now Performance Management.

...Now that we're caught up let's identify where it all went wrong...

There was a time when employees wanted prizes for their effort. That time is gone!

Nowadays, the process is far more important than the prize. This creates a problem for 6 reasons:
1. Merit is not a commodity.
2. A company with a warehouse full of outdated gifts is no longer a viable business partner.
3. Technology alone does not create engagement.
4. It takes a in-depth consultation to formulate an Employee Engagement strategy.
5. Once the strategy is in place Communication, Learning, Adoption and Tracking are necessary to prove success!
6. The aforementioned 5 points require a great deal of involved effort!    

So the term Employee Engagement has become a worn out phrase because fulfillment houses and programmer sweat shops have pretended they have an off-the-shelf solution.....and we bought it hook, line and sinker!!!!

It's not your fault, but it's time to fight back!

Your all-star employee may have reached the apex of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Now multiply this extraordinary feat by 20,000. That is the definition of Employee Engagement.

It takes divine organizational investigation, relevant customization, total commitment to adoption, and the ability to automate create engagement. 

Interpretation: Best-in-Class organizations are dedicated to an uncompromising vision of collaborative effort.

Not up to the challenge? I don't blame you! You've been force fed a premise of Employee Engagement that is 100% bullshit! Again, it's not your fault!

The challenge before you as an HR Leader: 

  • Roll up your sleeves  
  • Find the truth in what genuinely motivates YOUR organization
  • Customize a solution unique to said audience
  • Believe with all your heart that it matters
  • Make it matter

I believe you can do it. I apologize on behalf of the collective that made you believe that padding their margins would help you create an engaged culture. 

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, April 8, 2013

Game On!

There seems to be a reluctance to release the performance review handcuffs in the HR world. Let's be honest: we conduct performance reviews so that we have legally binding documentation in the event we need to fire someone.

That's that!

In reality, effective performance management requirements are directly in-line with Tom Chatfield's 7 Ways that Games Reward The Brain:
1. Multiple Long & Short Term Aims
2. Rapid, Frequent, Clear Feedback
3. Reward for Effort and Achievement
4. Continual Progress Management
5. Elements of Chance and Uncertainty
6. Windows of Enhanced Attention
7. Collective Emotion - Other People

When Tom Chatfield was writing Fun Inc. he may not have realized he was composing the perfect formula for performance management (or maybe he did).

Many HR leaders take issue with the concept of Gamification. The very word Gamification will always prompt a spell check and the definition does not exist in Webster. Not to mention, we HR intellectuals may be resistant to believe that the groundwork for a video game could replace our legally astute process. Fair enough.

The behavioral economics of game mechanics have been in place longer than the human existence of anyone reading this post. Leaderboards, loyalty raffles, and promotional campaigns have accentuated the relevance of game mechanics since the proliferation of the corporation.

So we are not talking about a video game concept to engage Generation Y nor are we asking you to replace your precious "reasons to fire me" document.

Consider this:
  • People will accelerate their effort if they are aware of their progress on a daily basis!
  • People will perform more consistently if they are awarded quarterly vs. annually!
  • Presenting fresh initiatives on a frequent basis increases the degree of engagement!
  • Motivation is driven by emotion and emotion is provoked through collective effort!

We must be willing to admit that performance reviews are an administrative stop gap (not a performance management strategy). The true path to engagement lies not in the ultimate cost of failure but in the value of achievement. If we are proactive in our goal setting the aforementioned document becomes irrelevant.

Wouldn't it be nice if our time was spent rewarding not punishing?

Game On!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, April 5, 2013

Things I Carry

LinkedIn recently launched a micro-blog series where the world's top business minds told us of the things they simply could not work without. Being that I am a top influencer on DFTR, I figured I would put my spin on this professional sharing exercise.

The world of business has evolved so dramatically since I entered the professional landscape over 15 years ago. The life of a sales person can be a lonely one....extensive travel, uncertain schedule, highly unpredictable success model....high highs...even lower lows. But, I wouldn't have it any other way. I chose the profession of Salesman (I hate that title) for all of the elements of uncertainty listed above. Some call it crazy, I call it fun!

Through travel, networking, knowledge attainment and the quest for balance; here are the things that I cannot live without:

The Music Is You
I am attached to my i-pod. I do a lot of work in crowded coffee shops, in airports, and on trains. Blocking out the background noise is essential to my focus. Every Monday night I try my best to stay awake until 9pm pacific time to check out whats new on i-tunes (I still do it the legit way).

This Tuesday, "The Music Is You: A Tribute to John Denver" was released. The album is a tribute by today's great singer/songwriters to the departed songsmith. JD was a person of uncertainty. He may have been seen as a little too safe for the protest music era but his songs kick ass! Jim James, Kathleen Edwards, Evan Dando, Josh Ritter, Blind Pilot and many more contributed to this record. The listening experience makes the old guys in the coffee shop and the girl on the train completely tolerable in their common human elegance.

Pictures of the Kids
I remember being at my friend's wedding. It was in a quaint little place, nothing fancy. A bunch of us skate punks would have destroyed the place a decade prior but on that night all we did was talk about our kids. At one point, someone shook his head and commented on how predictably lame we had all become. I brag about my kids non-stop; it is most assuredly annoying. Oh well....I love my boy & girl more than the world and I totally cherish the fleeting moments I get to spend with these little monsters.

My Brain
My family used to spend every summer in Minnesota. My Mother was the youngest of 13, my Dad the youngest of 7. So, it was mostly old people drinking hooch in their lawn chairs. I had to figure out ways to entertain myself for countless hours. I conducted wrestling matches against brooms, played catch with myself, and acted out Tracy Chapman songs with my Walkman on. The lonely vacations were the presuppose of my creative development. Thank God for boredom!

The most important trait in business is creativity! There are far too many people who look for instruction, check boxes, ask for more work, and get back into the maze. You have to consistently ask why and push in any direction that will produce originality. The best way to gain your audience's attention is by differentiating yourself. Don't try to be better, be different!

Most every regret I have in life has involved some type of compromise....I went along with the crowd, trusted the opinion of someone I didn't respect, or simply put my creativity aside to do the safe thing...might as well be dead!

Find the path untraveled and work harder than anyone else to pave it. Be the most interesting person you know. Be the first in the office and the last to leave. If your ideas are well-researched, and you know that they connect with your audience, they are easier to defend.

Stick up for yourself! Progress comes from taking chances!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The 7 Habits of Highly Ineffective People

I will be delivering a keynote address at the Young Professionals Summit this summer. In preparing for this mind meld of Gen Y awesomeness, it crossed my mind to conclude my presentation with some words of advice. Having positive mentors is important to career development. It is always beneficial to learn from the mistakes of others so you do not have to make them yourself.

The blogosphere is run amok with lists of ways to be more effective in your career development. Today, I figured I would tell you what not to do.....

Don't Make a Bad First Impression!

It seems silly but first impressions stick forever (especially with Executives). Some times you get caught off guard and at times your nerves get the best of you. Be aware that a run-in may occur and be ready.

Advice: When meeting an Executive for the first time be brief and brilliant! Don't attempt to be funny, don't site a blog he/she wrote (that's creepy), and don't promote yourself.

Don't Promote Yourself!
Early in my career I was the master of self-promotion (not in a good way). Every time I had an audience I was displaying my skill, touting my workplace excellence, or asking questions to showcase that I knew the answer.

Advice: Do your fighting in the ring! People know when you have done well, bragging about yourself only conveys that you are not a team player. No one likes a show off.

Don't Be an Asshole!
If you watch enough TV, you may put yourself in the villain's position. It is a dog eat dog world and you must have an edge to endure...right? Wrong!

Advice: Be humble in victory and accountable in defeat! No one wins alone, share your success. People know when they have failed, don't amplify their mistakes.

Don't Do The Safe Thing!
Take chances! Don't be a coward! Doing things the safe way will only minimize your talent. You have to be willing to fail to learn how to grow.

Advice: Take every opportunity to grow your skill set. Don't allow the possibility of failure to deter you from trying new things.

Don't Be Negative!
I am always enlightened by people who can turn my day around with their positivity. There are people lined up around the block to complain about what isn't going well. It takes courage to be positive!

Advice: Be the person who sees opportunity in everything, don't allow the negativity of others to limit your effort.

Don't Believe The Hype!
Every company has a way of doing things. There are those who will point to what the company does well and encourage you to stay in that box. This is solid advice (it is also totally boring). Your company cannot grow if you don't blaze a new trail.

Advice: Be the first person to volunteer to try new things...and make it work!

Don't Live A Life of Quiet Desperation!
If you see a co-worker who is having a rough day offer a simple word of encouragement. People have lives that extend far beyond their silly little job. A pat on the back might make all the difference in the world.

Advice: There is no need to get over-personal, just tell someone everything is going to be OK.

It is as simple as that. Sometimes the most successful trait we can possess is the knowledge of how to get out of our own way.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, April 1, 2013

Be Incredible Today!

It is hard being a parent and a professional. The balance is never elegant. You want to work hard and expand your professional excellence without missing your son's baseball game or your daughter's dance recital.

He braved long hours at the office, business trips, early morning writing sessions and late night conference calls with comrades across the globe. Still, each night he made an extra effort to make his son's lunch for the following school day. Each night leaving a note for his beloved boy to discover during his lunch hour:

Be Incredible Today!

They spoke not of these notes, but each time his son saw those words he felt as though his father was sitting right next to him. It made him proud, it made him feel safe.

Today, he raced out the door before the sun had shined with an uncomfortable feeling in his foot. Without enough time to adjust his shoe he soldiered on into the working day. Morning coffee, early hours in the office, calls, webinars, meetings with employees, meeting with clients...and still his foot felt awkward.

He made it to the airport and called home to get an update on the day's school work, practice schedule, and the bills that needed to be paid. Then he boarded another airplane to another place, his foot still tingling.

After a cancelled connecting flight and a few hours catching up in the airport lounge he finally arrived at his destination braving a show storm in an unsafe taxi. He finally found his bed with just 3 hours to sleep before his next meeting. He removed his uncomfortable shoe to examine what was causing the discomfort....what he found was a note written in the penmanship of a 7 year old boy:

Be Incredible Today!

These days pass like falling leaves. He do what we can to make things right. We want to be good parents and exceptional professionals. As a tear crossed his cheek he realized that the little things matter most. It is not the expensive vacations or cool gadgets that earn us an irreplaceable spot in our children's hearts. It's the note in the lunchbox, the cheers from the grandstand, the walk in the park.

Our prophesies pronounced are to be practiced. The best way to honor your time spent is by using it well.

Be Incredible Today!

Don't Forget to Remember!