Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Why Would 2015 Be Any Different....?

"I gather all the news I need on the weather report" - Paul Simon

I had heard somebody say recently that he got more insight from the songs he heard than in the daily news. That the revelations in music spoke to the larger issues and that the news was just noise. This is a premise I resolve to embrace in 2015: To read more and scan less. I've been blogging for a long time... we bloggers are a lazy bunch: we take a current issue, apply it to the business we are in, and highlight a few points. Most of us who read blogs spend two minutes scanning the headlines and move on (more informed). We live in a time when people buy singles not records. Our sources of information are quick to make a point. Our patience has waned because our bullshit meter is more acute than ever. While that is not a bad thing, it is the easy way out!

"I might as well resign myself to try and make a change" - Adam Duritz

We all hate to give in to our weaknesses. We want to come from a place of strength... to showcase our expertise and to hide our insecurities. Unfortunately, we cannot move forward if our only coach speaks from within. We have to try new things and get rid of bad habits!

We spend the Holidays buying things for our loved ones... is this an effort to apologize for our lack of availability during the rest of the year? We make New Year's Resolutions that we do not keep... flipping a calendar is not a compelling basis for behavior change. The challenge is not to smile while you are wearing a stupid sweater... the challenge is to be present when there are no presents under the tree.

What do YOU Believe in?
How will you spend your time preparing for the New Year? Will you learn about a product line, take a class in a subject that does not peak your interest, or try to forgive someone who will never love you? Stop wasting your precious time and do what you want to do... I'm not suggesting you quit your day job and join the circus, but you can navigate your motivation.

The song "empty cans" crescendos The Streets extraordinary concept record A Grand Don't Come For Free. It is simply the culmination of life's greatest lesson: Your Perception & Attitude Determine Your Fate!

Are you miserable? Do you even know if you are? 

I live in places where people talk but only interact with them when instigated. I overhear people complaining far more than I do individuals complimenting one another. This may be life's unfair lot: that love is assumed and not necessary to mention... which is OK.... but it's nice to be reminded that you are awesome as opposed to being told your hard work is useless. We tend to forget to celebrate our uniqueness and to focus on our inability to keep up (with the insignificant).

"Heartbreak hurts but you can dance it off" - Craig Finn

Recalling sleepless nights in 2014, I can give you a few pieces of advice:

  • If you prepare, you are far more likely to win.
  • If you are worried, you are probably chasing ghosts.
  • Only YOU know if you have done what you should at the conclusion of each day.

We can fake it and it might get us through the day, but it won't get us through the year. They know all of our secrets: they know if we are cheating, if we haven't done enough, and weather or not the cards we pretend to possess exist. Our secrets are written upon our face.

Don't waste a minute pretending to be someone you are not. Don't expect to win if you haven't prepared. Don't give people who disrespect you another beat of your heart. Don't think this year will be different from the last if you do not commit to release yourself from your bad habits. Don't neglect an opportunity to help someone by being polite. Don't be impolite because you feel your misery should be shared.

I Promise You: We Can Do This... Because We Can! 

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, December 22, 2014

Looking Back

On February 2nd of this year Philip Seymour Hoffman departed from our world. He left behind a body of work that one could spend a lifetime observing. Mr. Hoffman is simply one of the greatest artists we may have had the opportunity to watch on the silver screen. With each day in 2014, good men and women have lost their lives, they deserve our respect. The musing on the tragedies of the year behind conjure the opportunity to find grace among the madness. It is our life's virtue to find opportunity from that which is lost and to leave behind more than we take.

Extraordinary songs have been written, films acted, and games played; each of these moments encapsulated in time give us something to reflect upon. In these moments as the magic happens the embodiment of the achievement documented or otherwise is given a life of it's own. I will never forget winning (2) Little League Championships, the first girl I kissed or where I was when I heard a friend died. We put these moments in the attics of our lives and find a ladder to revisit them when necessary.

We tend to look back on times of embarrassment and/or loss under the critic's microscope. When was the last time you reflected upon all of the wonderful things you have achieved? It is not difficult to pull from the archives within your heart all of the beauty this world has to offer. It's just easier to pound yourself over the head with all the times you've fucked up.

Next time the inconvenience of the world keeps you up at night, take the opportunity to re-frame your mindset from worry to that which has gone well.

I'd like to think Mr. Hoffman's last thoughts were of those he loves. I'd also like to believe that the power of his spirit will carry itself into the lives of many... to help us remember what we've done well and to remind us that when we are at our most vulnerable we are indeed closer to God.

I've had more influence over people in various age brackets in 2014 than in any other year of my life. I get to teach young people the spirit of competition, I have the opportunity to help young men find jobs, I have communicated with people on every curve of the globe this year, and I have two little people under my roof who afford me teaching moments every day.

We have to invest heavily our time in changing the hearts of those with whom we engage. It is not what you take from any day but what you give to it.

Think through the moments that have crippled your heart: the person who fell out of love with you, the job you lost, the time you ventured to believe you knew everything. Did that which kept you up at night turn into tragedy? In most situations it did not... and you lost days of your life hurting people around you... because your fear of solving a problem created uncertainty.

When you believe in yourself others follow suit. If you allow negativity to run your mind, you will not only lose your focus but the respect of those around you.

As the sun sets on 2014, consider the following...

When the sun sets on your life do you even remotely believe that worry will enter your mind?

Don't Forget to Remember!


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Top 5 - 2014

There are those who say rock n roll is dead and others who say they don't make them like they used to. Some believe that in order to find a nickle in the couch, you have to do a little digging. Don't kid yourself, a plethora of amazing music was made in 2014! We are all witness if we choose to be.

Beck returned with the companion to Sea Change, Strand of Oaks emerged with a collection of Dinosaur Jr. meets Son Volt rock/folk explosion, Run the Jewels gave jabbing hip hop a right hook, Mimicking Birds reminded us of Sunny Day Real Estate, Real Estate put out an amazing record, and a contributor to Nada Surf delivered the most heart warming song of the year.

Here are the top 5 albums of 2014:

There are still bands that write albums not singles, The Hold Steady have had a concurrent theme running through 7 albums. Even more impressive is a 43 year old mans consistent ability to capture the youthful spirit and musics unavoidable impact on the colors in life's portrait. The Hold Steady encompass a sharks and jets mentality in loyalty to our undiscovered local music heroes (nowhere more prevalent than in Minneapolis). We also get the additional joy a the circus coming to town to change our lives with one hour of entertainment. The Hold Steady should forever be enshrined at the 7th Street Entry.

This is the saddest record ever written.....

If Grrr was a blip on the radar for Bishop Allen, Lights Out may be the end of their career. Lack of notoriety aside, this infectious little pop diddy will assuredly finds it's way into a few car commercials if not Where's Fluffy 2. Hooks aside, Bishop Allen is grounded in every note of their composition, in equal parts bouncy and confident. A wonderment of pop sensation under-toned with an introspective lyrical script. 

More deliciously cute pop.... We've been waiting for 3 albums to call TPC a one hit wonder. If you think these boys are incapable of depth try the 9 minute opener. Epic, thrilling and filled with relentless hooks.

Like Ben Gibbard and John Darnielle, Conor is one of those indie rock song writers that is continually taken for granted. The truth is, He is simply the finest song writer of our generation! This album is full of introspection and indecision which is a refreshing break from those who have it all figured out. Conor has released over a dozen albums since his teen age carnation of Bright Eyes ranging from country rock to eletronica, Upside Down Mountain brings him back to his roots. Easy to listen to but hard to hear.

Thank You for Listening!


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

3 HR Trends in 2014

It's been an interesting year in the world of Human Resources: The certification debate rages on, talent management is evolving at whiplash pace, generational diversity has created a roller coaster of succession planning and the social space has never been more populated with educated HR advisors.

In truth, HR remains the organizational pipeline to employees, managers and executives. It is commonly overlooked that HR is the only organizational department with such an influence on company success.

We all know nothing happens quickly in HR, but here are a few ever-developing trends that inspired my heart in 2014.

Behavior Change Management
Now more than ever change is paramount to organizational success. We all know we need to adapt with the times and we are all too lazy to confront the issue head on. Here come the apps...

I'd specifically site the impact that FitBit and like-minded behavior change apps have had on the way we work in 2014. On any given day, I am getting up from my desk several times to ensure I am supplementing my 10,000 step goal. I've taken on the challenge because it is measurable and easy to access. I compete with my co-workers (and my wife) to top the leaderboard at the end of each day. Through a simple application (and a group of willing participants) we have created a cultural challenge that engages our employees in healthy competition.

Well-guided behavior change application works with wellness, performance management, and employee engagement alike.

Game Mechanics
Did somebody say the G word? No, I said two words that have been Behavioral Economics principles since we stamped loyalty cards at the super market. The truth is, game mechanics have made a distinct impact on the way we work (see above). Through game mechanics we can create a challenge, measure our progress daily and create metrics for elevated career development with each challenge we conquer.

There's an app for that too.... we do need stinking badges (badly)!

Soft Skill Enhancement
HR knows better than to play in management's sandbox when it comes to performance management. Who would have known that this adversarial battleground would have created the greatest opportunity for partnership from HR to our business units.

With staffing and training becoming exceedingly costly what would it mean to keep 25% of our exiting talent in-house? Turnover can be productive to idea generation and can combat motivational plateau but that doesn't mean we should allow superstar talent to leave for our competitors. Employees don't leave companies, they leave managers.

By making the elements of SCARF and Corporate Citizenship a faction of performance measurement we open up opportunities across our organization. Through multi-pronged performance enhancement programming we can help identify the soft skills that make a failing sales executive a leader in the project management function.

I know no idea is original and these revelations may seem like old hat to our smarty pants readers. I always appreciate the opportunity to point out how we are making a positive impact instead of sighting all the stigmas a fraction of our population continue to validate.

Here's to a powerful and productive 2015!


Monday, December 8, 2014

Time Is All We Have

"I'm just replacing a man that came before me and one day the world is going to see another man replacing me that's just the way it's gotta be... It's always been that way"
- an excerpt from Dark Side of the Moon by Chris Staples

In the film American Beauty, Lester Burnham was taken aback when someone asked him how he was doing. He hadn't been asked that in a while. That's just the way it's gotta be; the older we get the less we need. It's great the way that works out. I cannot tell you how many hours of sleep I have lost fretting over senseless concerns. Getting old sucks because your body slows down, but your mind and your spirit accelerate. Many people have suggested that I would look back at my demeanor in a moment of stress and laugh about it, I always do.

My son performed in a theatrical production recently. His performance was celebrated. On the ride home he confessed to me that he knew his lines but he was still nervous. I told him that in anything he does for as long as he shall live he should hope to maintain that feeling. If we are not concerned with the implications of our actions we're probably living a carelessly. To be carefree is a sign of confidence... To be careless is a sign of submission. I would never want anyone to give up on their dream for fear they were incapable of achieving it.

"I want to love you, I want to pass it on. I want to give and give until it's all gone. I want to know you while we have the time because that is all we have to leave behind"
- an excerpt from Dark Side of the Moon by Chris Staples

How much time do we waste assuming we know one another? Isn't it wonderful when someone asks you a question that sets you aback... Even if the question is as simple as "how are you". We waste a lot of time being polite, we waste even more time being impolite. One begets the other.

There are people in all of our lives whom we have given up on. Some times with all the effort life takes we simply cannot dedicate our limited free time to someone who makes our existence more challenging. You may have had to tell your friend they were being an asshole to free them from their funk ....or maybe they just needed a hug...? Life is difficult and things pile upon us if someone doesn't show us a snap shot of the roller coaster we've chosen to ride. Fortunately, life is a movie not a collection of snap shots. Others only see fragments and cast judgement accordingly. Nod to the advice of those who are willing to provide it.... But if you only submit your photo album to a few observers your series will not be renewed.

People rely on people. Even if you think you have nothing to lend, there are those who want to hear what you have to say. Then you start making a difference and if you have influenced one person, you will want to influence another.

Like roots in the ground the things we teach are far reaching but seldom seen.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Pick A Fight!

We tend to segment our organizations: by generation, by department, by location, by tenure.

Our organizations have employees and managers and executives who are drawn together by the purpose of the companies we represent... We all want the same things: success and happiness. We are all far more similar than survey data tends to reveal.

We Can Do This.... because we can!

Stop: Fighting among yourselves!
We compete against the marketplace and our competitors, why do we feel it necessary to fight among ourselves? Friendly competition in the workplace fuels our success but prioritizing personal goals over organizational goals kills progress.

If you need help you should find people within your team to compliment the skills you do not possess. The causes we represent are built upon the collective energy of many personalities that together can do something they cannot do alone.

Life is difficult enough... don't make it harder by being unwilling to seek from others what you do not have.  

Start: Trusting!
Does it seem like everything is a negotiation? We have to convince people with whom we want to work that we are capable of helping them. The goal is not to self promote but to prove your worth through hard work, creativity and genuine intent!

There are people in companies across the world that are not sharing their knowledge for fear that when they release it, they will not longer be relevant. I'd like to think that the more people we are able to teach, the closer we get to immortality.

Plant the seed and let the roots extend!

Start: Fighting the Good Fight!  
That which you cannot avoid caring about should fuel your professional mission every day! It is OK to enter any given day with a bit of a chip on your shoulder, but you should use that edge for good! Anger is driven by energy and YOU choose how to use that energy. Regret breeds dishonesty which creates anger. Anger has never solved anything.

Remember all of the great things you have achieved: the big deal you closed, the championship you won, the spelling bee you won, the time you were student of the week.... whatever it might be, remind yourself of all your positive achievements and let that lead! 

Don't get caught up over-analyzing your mistakes. There are some things you simply are not good at... Concentrate on the areas in which you are uniquely skilled.

Engage your heart and let the unavoidable importance of your mission lead!

We Can Do This... because we can!

Don't Forget to Remember!  


Wednesday, November 26, 2014


"with great power comes great responsibility" - Spiderman's Uncle 

I teach six year old females how to play soccer. We have 3 rules:
1. Focus
2. Focus
3. Focus

The old adage is true, everything we need to know about business we learned in youth sports.

We sure have come to expect a lot from our employers in this day-and-age. We want extra vacation, more money, the ability to work from home, yoga, happy hour and an on-site guru. These luxuries have distracted us from the primary responsibility of our employment: Winning!

As I always tell the young people I coach: we are here to have fun and there is nothing more fun than winning. Our effort in our profession should feed our happiness. Nothing will make you more happy than achievement. 

To be given a thank you for showing up is nice, but are you OK with nice? To be told you have done a great job when you haven't is reassuring but you know if you actually deserve the accolade. 

The Holidays are a time when people let their guard down and say thanks for all they have. This season of distraction is also very difficult to navigate. 

Focus on Grander Goals
I once heard a CEO say that he would be much more successful if he didn't have to deal with people. No such luck! Our comrades are competitive and they take pride in their work... along with this comes condescension, the need to be validated and whole lot of emotion. If we invest too much in the little battles our character is revealed and our ego can get the best of us.

In any situation it is important to remember what the ultimate goal is and to give ground in the little battles. It is OK to allow people to win an argument for the sake of moving toward the ultimate goal. Over time, those who choose confrontation are revealed incapable of handling greater responsibility.

Be Flexible, Not Indecisive      
The best professional relationships I have are without nonsense. I would rather you tell me 'no' in the first minute of speaking with me than to pretend to be polite for a year only to come to the same conclusion. 

It is beneficial to be willing to listen more than you talk. It is even better to have a direct solution to a problem. If we are incapable of letting one another know where we stand, we will all sink into the quicksand together. 

Perform Above Expectations
In sales we are acutely aware that every suggestion made to management is followed by an audit of where we are on the ranking report. If you haven't sold anything, no one gives a shit about your earth shattering ideas to change the world. 

Regardless of your occupation, you have a goal to hit. Every goal is crowded by the emotion of co-workers, bad advice from management, and complaints from all angles. 

You have to hurdle all obstacles on your way to accomplishing the goals established for you. None of it is easy, but nothing worth doing is. 

Stop asking for entitled benefits and start producing. No one owes you anything. You will recognize this when you conquer expectations and take control of your own destiny. 

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, November 21, 2014

The Giving Tree

A long time ago I worked at a Gas Station in Bellevue, Michigan. During a particularly boring graveyard shift a man came in looking for a cup of coffee. He looked a bit agitated. I told him we didn't have any coffee. He looked at the pot behind the counter inquisitively? I meandered over to see the pot. I opened a cabinet below, looked at the various tools to assemble a cup of Joe, and then stepped back. I heard the man say, "you've never made a cup of coffee have you?". What ensued next was an unexpected glory!

The man stepped behind the counter with me and showed me how to make a cup of coffee. He laughed as I poured the grains into the filter and we talked about life while the coffee brewed. Just two guys in the middle of the night talking over coffee. The guy chuckled with delight as I fumbled through the process and left with what he proclaimed the greatest cup of coffee he had ever tasted. It seemed he was thrilled to have the opportunity to teach someone something (he may not have had the opportunity to do that for a while). His agitation had subsided and he walked out whistling.

We always examine what engages people. Is it money, rewards, technology...? The example above reveals that people have a mutual appreciation for one another. Too often our predisposed frustration replaces teaching opportunities with confrontation.

People want to learn and to teach and to be given an opportunity to grow.

Last week we discussed the possibility that our character may be revealed through that which we are willing to do for free. Life is full of necessary evils (things we have to do). But, what do you want to do, and why not go do it?

By the virtue of the above mind frame, can engagement not be defined by the opportunity to give? Isn't there something pretty wonderful about that? 

Don't give me a catalog of outdated gifts in reward of my achievements. Give me the opportunity to conduct a class for the organization on the sociological significance of The Streets album "A Grand Don't Come For Free".

If I have 10 calls today that are creating opportunities and driving meaningful objectives, I am not only engaged but energized! I don't need a ping pong table or an espresso machine or to take a walk or even to eat. Give me a purpose and the tools to amplify its meaning and I will teach others to engage in it.

Now engagement has become advocacy!

We don't want gifts or more money. We want to be part of something we believe in and the trust to bring it to others.

~ Know what your employees need to succeed.
~ Design a program that helps them measure progress every day.
~ Reward achievement with new opportunities.
~ Never run out of new opportunities.

Have we forgotten how easy it is to help others??? 

Don't Forget to Remember!


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Passing Time

I would venture to guess that our true character is measured by the things we do for free. I cannot tell you how many conversations I have with people that start with a raised eye brow. People simply cannot believe that a salesman would help someone without asking for something in return. I do it a lot.

My profession is only a part of my existence: I coach youth sports, help college kids get jobs, conduct Human Resources training and occasionally provide advice when asked... I've never been paid for any of it.

Long ago, I worked at a booth at a prominent Human Resources annual conference. I far prefer being a conference attendee and/or volunteer. In my sales career I have done everything I can to be viewed as a peer to my buyer. It takes research, listening skills and empathy. I understand why people don't like sales people; I don't either.

The only thing I dislike more than sales people are people without sales training trying to sell something. Everyone is trying to sell something.

What do you do for free? Are people surprised when you offer to help without holding your hand out?

Time Spent
I feel at this point in my life the most valuable asset I possess is time. The recognition of time as a valued asset provokes a study in what (and to whom) one devotes their time.

Are you chasing that big deal simply because the pay off would be huge? Do you pursue certain business partnerships with the knowledge that they will never happen? Why bother! Your time is as valuable as any CEO's. Use it wisely.

I See Your Cards
I sat next to a person in the press room at a conference. This person exclaimed, "I'm not going to a presentation, I'm here to sell something". So dangerously mislead! If you are not willing to invest in your buyer's mind frame, you will never provide value to them.

I was interviewed by a person recently for a radio show. Every question asked was accompanied by five comments before I could even answer. Don't pretend to be interested in me if all you are really here to do is hear yourself talk.

The social space is full of hacks! People who pretend to possess what all of us can get for free.

You would drop everything for your kids. You would quit your job if your spouse got ill. You wouldn't ask for compensation for coaching your kid's team.

Think About It!

The things you do for free are rooted in your life's true passion. If you are truly passionate you should share what you know to allow what you care about to germinate. Your ideas are not sacred. Everything has been thought of.... how you carry those ideas into the world is what matters.

Regrets surface when you are unwilling to put the work into something you believe in with all your heart. Regrets hang like ugly chandeliers... you cannot face a day without walking under them!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, November 5, 2014


One part of qualifying candidates for sales jobs today is their number of "connections" on LinkedIn (and other social networks). One's presence in the social space can be a game changer.... it's also really easy to game the system. You might have 1,500 connections on LinkedIn but how many of them would drop everything to meet with you? How many people in your network have any relevance to your occupational development? If you contacted your LinkedIn connections one-by-one how many would reply, "how do I know you"......?

A Rolodex is one thing. Genuine connections are something completely different. The only thing worst than a sales person is a person who has no sales training trying to sell someone something. Long ago, Keith Ferrazzi introduced vulnerability and generosity as concepts of genuine connection in the social space, he nailed it! Having been in sales for nearly 20 years, I can identify an impostor from a mile away (most of them are not in sales). 

It is not the number of contacts you have in your network, it is how you utilize your privilege to interact. Most people are surprised if you are able to network without asking for something. 

Got Hugs?
Want to identify the real difference between a business relationship and a true partnership.... when you meet your contact in the lobby do they hug or shake hands?

It matters... The greatest contacts I have in business have been in the trenches with me: I have held their hand in an airport bar when they found out their wife had cancer, I have put my hand on their shoulder when their son failed to report to court (again), I've buried my head in their shoulder to hide my tears when I found out my mom had cancer (again). That's the real stuff, most of us can hide it, when we don't feel obligated to hide... we are home!

How many genuine connections do you make each day? Not friends added to your network but genuinely human interactions. Will he or she with whom you meet be willing to share a personal detail with you? Would they explain their lack of concentration on their failing marriage (and ask for your advice)? 

It is easy to watch your top performer succeed... It is far more difficult to make an ugly duckling a swan. Most leaders bank their points with their top performers and give up on the ugly ducklings only to dismiss their responsibility to their failure. 

You hire people, and when you do, you take responsibility for their livelihood. If your employees fail, it is your fault! The good lord gave us all free will, most people will abuse it if you give them too much rope. 

Priorities and Privileges matter. Your job should be your #1 priority.... raising your children is a privilege. Let's not confuse the two. 

Your measure of success are the lost souls whom you have given a home, the ship to which you have affixed a rudder, and the number of hugs you receive every day!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Rowing The Doldrums

Life has it's fair share of unfortunate set backs: people get fired from their jobs, athletes get injured, people fall out of love and with every triumph there is a failure. The victories are often met with a sigh of relief while the losses bring upon a pondering of our possible misplacement in this world. Winning is glorious, losing sucks, but our greatest misfortune is to be ignorant of either.

I have the unfair self-inflicted lot in life of being incapable of accepting failure while being unable to give myself too much credit for my successes. Frustration, sleepless nights, and intense self-analysis are all bed fellows in the mind of a perfectionist... the lack of ease a vestal to continual progress.

It is too often that we put too much emphasis on the little things and fail to celebrate life's simple beauties. If your job was lost what would you do? If an injury ended your sports career what lessons from the field could you relay to other elements in your life? You can spend 20 years perfecting a craft and an unfortunate accident can take it away from you. Some times a little luck trumps years of preparation. With all this in mind there is only one thing left to do...


Some of our prayers are unanswered, certain goals are not met, and there are times when we feel we are out of options. More often than not the bad things do not happen. There are times to pray, times to cry, and some times you just have to pull up your boot straps and move on.

Joy is a Strategy
I enjoyed reading INC's listing of the 10 greatest sales people of all time. Most of them were not the obvious choice and the characteristics they shared were not slick talk or negotiation tactics. The people who are best at what they do are so because they love what they do.

Great Chefs can make me care about the culinary arts, amazing designers can make me look at fashion in a different light, if you believe in a cause with unflappable commitment... I will join you.

Bounce Out!
Lack of certainty makes our failures harder to accept, relationships harder to mend, and grows greater distance to our goals. Far better than tossing and turning in your bed is to get up and find the solution.

Most people who are unhappy are so because they failed to try. The fear of risk can marginalize us all into a life of compromise. There is no joy in compromise and no glory in settling for second best. If you are not pursuing your every activity with your fullest effort you are wasting your time. Our time here is fleeting and too precious to be a vestal to tears and complaints.

Opportunity Doesn't Knock
There are two types of people in this world: those who seek progress and those who are content with being just OK. There are people who devote 10,000 hours to building a skill that never get promoted. There are others who have had countless opportunities that they squandered because they were unable to get up when they first fell.

Nothing will be handed to you, you have to find it. Challenges will come upon you and if you are not totally dedicated to your craft, you will fail. If you cannot accept failure your misfortunes will overwhelm you. Then you stop trying... and life sucks!

Every day should be accepted as a gift. We should take on every challenge knowing we have as much a chance of failure as we do victory. We should have a system to plug into that will ensure our chances for success exceed those of failure. We should be willing to try hard enough to win and then we should try even harder.

Put yourself out there! With every victory comes the confidence to know you can. If you win over and over the habit becomes a skill.

"everybody's gotta learn some time" - Beck 

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, October 20, 2014

A Scarf For The Winter

There is no silver bullet for performance management: not an app, platform or systematic flow chart. It turns our that managing performance is as much about knowing your people as it is knowing the metrics of their performance. So, how can we engage a variety of personalities in one scaled process? Let's review the SCARF formula for employee motivation:


... it's pretty simple, if you understand which of the above mentioned characteristics are of the greatest (and least) priority to each of your employees, your line of vision into their motivation will be greatly enhanced. Have your employees stack rank what matters most to them and manage accordingly.

Some employees are seeking a promotion (status). Be proud enough to help your best performers get to the next level in the organization and they will stay forever. Some people just need to know that their job is important (certainty). Great mangers help their employees understand that their achievements benefit the organizational mission. Some people just want to be left alone (autonomy). If you've given them the tools to succeed you can leave them to their own devices and they will perform....over and over again. There are people for whom work is an extension of their social network (relatedness). Loving the people with whom you serve make the hard times a little easier and the victories that much sweeter. There are those who want to know that the playing field is level (fairness). You can dispel water cooler banter by proving that each person has the same opportunity to accelerate to greatness.

What Are You Fighting For....?
Managers get a lot of shit! Certain vendors think starting an employee revolution is the key to employee engagement... the SCARF method rivals that formula for disaster with strategic certainty.

So then, it is time for employees to make some decisions:
What Can You Do At Your Organization That You Cannot Do Anywhere Else?

If you cannot answer the question above, you should quit your job! If you don't believe that the company you are currently working for can help you do more than anywhere else... you are wasting your life!

Are pats on the back important to you? Do you really value trophies? Do you want to stand in front of a bunch of people to be praised for your excellence?

If you know you are performing to the peak of your ability you do not need a trophy, public praise, or validation. Get a pair! Own your actions and fear not failure!

You should be driven by the knowledge that you are capable of achieving what no other person ever has. If you are concerned with what the past has deemed possible, you are probably not all that capable. Those who suck at their job are those who need to be validated at every turn in the road. It's a job, diffuse the emotion and get to work!

Managers cannot manage if their employees refuse to believe that everyone is working for a common cause. We are all in equal parts responsible for our engagement at work. Some times we need a hug and some times we need to bite our tongue and get to work.

Let's Go To Work!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Art of Growing Old

There has been so much debate about the generational divide in today's workforce. Fingers are being pointed at who is entitled and who is irrelevant.

I work with 70 Year Old HR Professionals, College Men and Six Year Old Female Soccer Stars; each holds their brilliance...when they were born has nothing to do with it. We tend to think that getting old sucks but I am here to assure you that it is not necessarily true. With each day we get a little smarter, a little more aware of ourselves, and a little more appreciative of the time we have left. Its all pretty wonderful!

Get Smart
The worst advice I have been given in my career is not to get too close to those whom I manage. The reality is that being an effective leader is based firmly in the viewpoint that opposes the aforementioned advice. If you do not have the courage to trust your people, you should not be a manager.

Experiences matter most! Not years on the job but the places you have traveled, the people you have met, and the stories they help you create. Passion is fueled by experience and everyone is inspired to follow those who are impassioned in their mission. If you stop experiencing all that life has to offer, you slam your life into neutral. If you are not moving forward, you are moving backward.

Be Aware
The world is full of (excuse the term) socially retarded people. I know so many people who are incredibly smart but cannot get out of their own way. To have an opinion is a virtue, to be too opinionated is a burden. Are you aware of yourself? Do you say things you shouldn't? Does your non-verbal communication reveal your lack of life experience?

In interacting with others it is wise to consider their point of view before submitting your own. Never mention religion or politics and leave your phone in your pocket. It is vitally important to be a good listener. Your advice is better delivered if it is concise, well founded, and spoken as if you possess the unconscious voice of Johnny Cash.

Cherish Everything
I just heard the Great Neil Young say that life at this point is driven by his ability to cherish the weather. He defines the weather as the state of things and the channel toward wonderment. When you get older you cherish the moments-in-between far more than the well publicized events.

Your friends will let you down, your co-workers will fuck up, and your kids will drive you bonkers. Hug them all and love them all equally.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, October 10, 2014

Folded Pictures

"you should know compared to people on a Global scale our kind has had it relatively easy" 
- Jason Isbell

What are the complaints of the day? If we really concentrate on the things that have derailed our progress are they genuinely significant? Are you impatient with those who seek to learn? Are you unwilling to adapt for fear of revealing that you don't know everything?

I heard musing on a time when a whole lot of workers lost their jobs. It was everything they had known: their skill set, their friends, their culture.... and then it was taken away. The only skill they had was to serve a purpose that no longer had a purpose. It was unfair.... but what were they going to do about it?

What's Your Back Up Plan?
My father worked for the same company for 37 years. He was loyal to his company and his company was loyal to him. As far as I knew that was the way the work world worked. You showed up first, left last, and were celebrated accordingly. Man was I wrong.

When I discovered the landscape of how companies honor their employees had changed it was too late. I had worked nearly a decade for a company I loved and after being passed up for yet another promotion I knew the balloon had hit the ceiling. The worst mistake I have made in my career is giving the current state of my career too much credit. Things change quickly. I thought my leaving the aforementioned company would put a dent in their universe, they hardly noticed I had ever worked there at all.

If your company went out of business, if your job was off-shored, if your husband got sick... what would your next move be?

It is not disloyal to have a back up plan. All you need is the ability to tap into people who care and to impress upon them your greatness.

I care, I'll help anyone.

"the worst part of a good day is hearing yourself say goodbye to one more possibility day" 
- Adam Duritz

We have 29,200 days on this earth. I'm on the back nine of that scale. I remember sitting with my sweetheart at dinner on my birthday and realizing that it was possible that I had lived more days than I had left. I admitted that I loved this sad and beautiful place far too much to leave it.

So when it is your time to go. How do you know you'll be ready to go?

Well, you can savor every moment....

Stop listening to people who complain. Recognize that the people who love you know when you are not fully utilizing your greatness and that they feel it their duty to hold you accountable to that. You should hold your child's foot in your hand as long as it fits... and then you should let them run. You should hug people. You should be totally unwilling to accept people who try too little and ask too much... and you should not feel bad for calling out their ignorance.

We are far too caught up in the now and far too unwilling to live in the moment. There is a difference. Stress is build upon pressure that is often a landfill of hatred. There are a lot of people in positions of power who have forgot that love is at the center of everything. There is also a time to use your brain and let your heart rest.

People will let you down. The person who you live with most is yourself. If you let yourself down more than you let anyone else down that simply means that you have high standards and a good heart.

People need help and that requires giving them the benefit of the doubt. Be patient, learn to forgive and know that people will always be more accountable to themselves than they will to you.... and that letting oneself down is the hardest task any of us can face.

Call your mom, write your wife a note, and tell your kids that they are greater than anyone; this will fill your heart. Then enter the workplace with your heart full.... and every day will be a victory.

Don't forget about the pictures in your back pocket... they are what brought you here... and what will bring you home.

I promise you... we can do this!!!!!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, October 6, 2014

Built To Spill Milk

I was amused by a post created by Bruce Kasanoff on LinkedIn this week. I believe his intent was to be critical of Good Ol' Boys Executive speak. There was, however, an undertow that seemed to dismiss the motivational relevance of competition. It seemed to read that anyone who had ever competed in sports is a meat head, my daughter was offended.

I am an advocate of employee engagement and an opponent of marginalized middle management. I absolutely agree that results should drive promotion and bravado should be eliminated. It is no secret that some Baby Boomers are protecting their post. It should be admitted that happiness is not a strategy. Culture may eat strategy for breakfast but if we tune in, turn on, and drop out at every corporate campus in America; our children will work on chain gangs.

I see people who's drive is determined by their insecurity... that is no way to live. I also see people who were picked last... so they quit trying and sequestered themselves to their self pity. Knowledge is power. Courage is driven by one's ability to see a challenge, accept it, and seek to conquer the seemingly impossible. To run from adversity only to frame yourself as intellectually superior does not prove your enlightenment... it proves you fear your potential!

We want to allow happiness to drive our benefits strategy, we want to socialize work, we want free beer... 3 hour work days.... and quarterly meetings in Bora Bora. That will work....

Playing for Draft Picks...?
I am an Oakland Raiders fan. The Raiders have sucked the big one for more than 12 seasons. Each year, the ignorantly optimistic make the inference that there is no need to win any more games so the Raiders can secure the top draft pick. The unfortunate thing is that the Raiders also suck at identifying talent through the draft.

Two lessons here:
Never Give Up
Sucking is An Organizational Disease

I never agreed with teams resting their best players for the last month of the season to prepare for the playoffs. It is ridiculous to think that allowing your players not to try would inspire them to do better... later.

Organizational culture is created by the sum of its parts and the vision of its leaders. If your leaders give the aforementioned Executive speak without igniting a personal conviction... a lack of authenticity is certain. If you inspire people to do more, they will. If you regulate ingenuity and seek to control motivation; the culture will eat itself.

Fantasy Football is Stupid!  
I recently watched a young man cheer for both teams on the field during the same play because he had players from both squads on his fantasy team. That contradicts the essence of sports.

I believe fans of sports should be loyal to their team and unwilling to break bread with the opponent. You can express sportsmanship and win gracefully without ignoring the fact that your competitor is intent upon stealing your children's food.

Why is it OK to give up trying and pat our opponent on the back? Why would you cheer for individuals instead of the team? What gives one the right to write about sports if he has never had the will to compete?

The grandstands are full of naysayers. Those who have had the ability and fortitude to play the game are few and far between. It will remain this way because those who have tried and failed have a thousand venues to dismiss competition in an effort to excuse their inability.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, September 26, 2014

Greatness Defined

Derek Jeter has had a majestic conclusion to his storied career. This is not an act of fate or the consequence of luck but the result of a lot of hard work. Mr. Jeter has never been the fastest or strongest, he just showed up first and left last... and in-between he tried his ass off!

Those who have earned a spot on the De La Salle football team create commitment cards. In simple context: you define your goals and pass your card to another to ensure you are accountable.

We want to imagine that those who have achieved more than others were blessed with a special talent or that they found more luck than others. In reality, they just tried harder.

All of us have achieved great things. Turning great achievements into a legacy of greatness takes preparation, perception and perseverance. Where (or to whom) you were born makes little difference. Bar stools are warmed by former Friday Night Quarterbacks every evening.

In my professional life I can define one certainty to success:
Be the first to show up and the last to leave. 

It's hard enough to do this for a week straight... try to do it for 30 years, this is the difference between achieving great things and establishing a legacy of greatness.

If you are still standing at the end of practice, you haven't practiced hard enough
The opportunity lost and found is filled with broken dreams, moments of submission, and a whole lot of spilled milk.

Your perception and attitude determine your fate....each and every day. Most people who are great at what they do have more challenges than victories. If development is at the heart of each and every interaction, victory in inevitable.

Reminder: if you think today will suck, it will!

Be humble in victory and accountable in defeat. Recognize in public and discipline in private.

Training is one thing... application is something completely different. Anyone can read a book, take a test, and assume a skill. When your audience is not just a scantron, you are called upon to interact. A tutor can teach you to play violin but if you are too shy to perform in front of others have you really applied a skill? You can be taught to juggle a soccer ball but if you cannot charge the goal you are a jester more than a champion.

For as long as I can remember Derek Jeter has been playing baseball. I remember how hard he hit the ball and how hard he tried to catch it.

That's a pretty damn good way to be remembered. 

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, September 22, 2014

It Takes A Village

Social Media - you wear me out... everyone has ideas, theories, and personal experiences. The best of us have strong opinions and those with opinions can be easily characterized as bullies. It is a conundrum: those strong enough to participate challenge one another to create compelling content while those we wish to intrigue often roll their eyes at our sarcasm.

The Heart Matters More!
I left the surgery room at 1 am having seen my son endure the most painful day of his life to find 2 nurses having a moment of personal enjoyment. Children were hurting all around them and they had the nerve to laugh... damn right they did!

The young men and women who save lives every day do so not because they know they will get a gift card but because they cherish the little wins.

The Losses Hurt More!

"I hate losing more than I love winning" - Billy Beane

We grit our teeth and pretend our jobs are important but we will instantly forget who we work for when our child is in the hospital. Those nurses have earned the right to laugh for a moment. It's hard to quantify what genuinely matters until we are faced with the fact that our life leading up to a certain moment has been insignificant. An emphasis on the mundane has no place outside of a wood paneled room where ideas go to die.

If you think it is OK to be just OK, it will catch up with you! You don't have to be an asshole to instill in people that the spirit of winning is important... it makes everyone better...

You Should Stop Stopping Yourself
Only you spend the day with you every day. Your first reaction to failure is usually to find someone who will confirm that you are great in-spite of your lack of results.

Don't kid yourself... it is not the fault of your boss or your company that you have failed. You failed because you chose to believe that you didn't have to try hard to win... and then those who you underestimated kicked your ass!

Probably better to overcome adversity than to pretend you are better than anyone else. It's an even better idea to try, fail, and learn to forgive yourself!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Do You Need a Hug?

As the gainfully employed hustle to get from point a to point b they disregard an act of kindness, while those caught in limbo are surprised anyone would dare to be kind to them. I remember Ben Folds saying that if Jesus was reborn into the street of a metropolis he would be shunned and dismissed as a drugged-out hippie.

We are naturally cautious that trusting the wrong person could turn a spontaneous act into our ultimate demise.

Shoe On The Wrong Foot?
In the corporate world we want to split ourselves in half:
The Work Self
... and The Personal Self

The work self navigates what we have to do while the personal self creates what we want to do. The gap between the have to's and the want to's is closing.

Our lack of perception reveals that the work self needs to be guarded and neutral. Every Executive I have spoken to appreciates straight talk. The personal self believes that we can put our guard down and say what's really on our mind. Most post-work bar conversations are cries for validation mired in regret for lack of effort.

Who's really full of shit?

So we leave the office and walk down the street mistrusting of everyone... even a person who needs a hug.

I walked down the streets of San Francisco with the CEO of our company during the protest period know as the "Occupy" movement. An unshowered young man approached her and asked her for a hug. Admittedly, I would have punched him if he touched her. Not because I was mistrusting of him but because I was protective of her.

Our challenge in life is not just to protect those we love but to develop a sense of protection for the human race. Our elegance as people is threatened when we neglect to give people the benefit of the doubt.

The Key 
You can't just hug everyone! You have to develop a sense of trust and to know better when a hug is necessary.

We spend too much time practicing our acumen and far too little time developing our common sense.

Some times people under-perform and they need to be fired. Some times someone neglects your existence to such an extent that they need to be neglected.

... and some times people need a hug!

It's easy to do the safe thing and to live your life in fear. It is far more difficult to crawl out of your shell and take action where you see desperation.

You can fold hands and bow to royalty or you can choose to interact with people who probably haven't heard an honest word in a long time.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Sunday, September 14, 2014

It's Easy If You Try

In the last week, several NFL athletes have been exposed for raising their hand to woman and children. That upsets me.

I'm fortunate to have been raised by remarkable people. It is not difficult to carry what has been taught to me to others. I'm fortunate... others have not had such luck!

It's easy to look at people who "have it all" and to judge their behavior. It is much harder to put people (not under a microscope) but on a couch. I've made my fair share of mistakes in life, I also know better. Are there people who don't know better, regardless of their fortune?

In life there are a few certainties:
- Actions Speak Louder Than Words
- People Will Mess Things Up
- It's Best to Forgive!

Words Are Meaningless
One of my heroes in life is my son. He is an incredibly thoughtful person. He is also prideful and some times his emotions get the best of him. He always apologizes for his actions.. which is nice but it means nothing to me... there are people in my life who are infallible to me. I should probably give everyone such benefit.

Apologies mean nothing to me because I forgive everyone the minute after they fuck up. I always have. We all suffer through the apologies for our actions but apologies mean nothing unless you take action to make things better.

There is a moment in the film Wish I Was Here in which a girl sees her man acting honorably and rewards him with an unexpected hug. It is not the words we say but the actions we take that earn the love of the people most important to us. These are usually unconscious actions that are driven by the pride we have in being ourselves. You should be proud of yourself...!

I am lucky to be surrounded by people who know I will take action to make things better... I know better!

It's Gonna Be OK!
I remember a friend telling me being a father is easy, being a father is not easy, but he knew I needed to be assured as much before I welcomed my first child into the world. I played a song for a good friend once and when I was done I apologized to him for it's imperfection. He immediately told me that the song was remarkable, it was not, but I appreciated him ignoring my vulnerability. My best friend once saw the pain in my heart and stopped his entire life until I got better. It took 10 minutes to get over my misery because my friend dared not leave me alone with my misery.

How to Win
I have the privilege of teaching, coaching and sitting next to my friends on a bar stool. All of these things are endlessly important. I cherish it all.

I had an adult conversation with a six year old yesterday. I've also held the hand of more than one person when they spoke their last words. What a pleasure we are afforded to live this life!

I don't disrespect people who have made bad decisions. We all do. But words don't solve anything.

Figure it out and make it better. It's easy if you try!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, September 12, 2014

Iron Sharpens Iron

I wrote a few weeks back about the Behavioral Economics concept of Game Theory. I have since had the opportunity to revisit one of my favorite films and to teach a class on how games inspire motivation. I also spend my weekends teaching 6 year old girls how to play soccer. I believe in the art of competition and the power of game mechanics

If my team develops a big lead in a competition, I rest easy knowing we have accomplished a goal. At this point, we are forced to play down to the level of our competition. While the aforementioned victories are far less straining on the heart, they are also less rewarding. We do not look back on 10-0 victories as our life's great achievements nor do we learn anything from getting beaten 10-0. 

It is our mission to be courageous. This means we have to accept difficult challenges...and conquer them....because we can!!!

Skills Elevated by Discomfort
Every establishment in the world is making a concerted effort to eliminate bullying. The only good thing about a bully is watching them cry when you beat the shit out of them. My friends, our greatest victories are preceded by that feeling we get when we see an opponent that is bigger, faster and stronger.  

The feeling you get in fearing a competitor is healthy; it ignites your need to prepare and execute. When you underestimate an opponent your odds of victory decrease.

Those who have easy jobs have satisfactory lives... but what good really comes of that? 

I have seen people live an entire life unfulfilled by any victory. If you are competing just to beat others your time is wasted. If you are coaching a team to prove your worth in this world, you need a psychologist not a whistle and a clipboard.

"without love in a dream it will never come true" - Jerry Garcia

If you unconditionally love what you do, you will elevate everyone around you. If you compete to the best of your ability, others will respect you. It is better to lose a game with your dignity intact than to act out of character simply to win.

There is no greater privilege than the opportunity to influence others. Every day is an opportunity to leave a lasting impression on someone.

If we are able to give to people the skills we have and they carry them on to others....

We Can Be Immortal!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, September 5, 2014

The North Star

What is it that engages people in their work? It certainly isn't something that can be packaged or sold.

Some people see their job for what it is worth and are driven to make as much money as possible. Some people want to use their profession as a social network. There are people who live to create extraordinary products and those for whom a pay check will validate a higher personal purpose.

The SCRAF model identifies 5 motivation types:
Status - I want to get promoted.
Certainty - I want reassurance that my job is important.
Autonomy - Leave me alone.
Relatedness - Seeking opportunities to socialize.
Fairness - I want a level playing field.

The thing I enjoy about the aforementioned motivational nodes is the lack of transaction in their definition. We can formulate a performance management strategy around Holacracy but packaging and selling these employee motivational mindsets is difficult to say the least.

So let's cut the crap: What Really Motivates YOU?

Do what you gotta do...
Every organization has objectives that are time-consuming and irrelevant. We spend more time complaining about said objectives than it takes to complete them.

You can develop and implement a strategy to complete meaningless tasks in short time. As a result, you will stay off the Boss' shit list and move on to what matters.

It's easy if you try!

Grow Thick Skin....
It amazes me to see Baby Boomer Executives with an entitled sense of pride that has caused them to bicker with teenagers. We have stereotyped the behaviors of Millennials to puke-able level; Baby Boomers are far more programmed. The exercise of changing a 30 year old strategy creates a fear of change which spotlights a lack of flexibility. If you are offended by what you don't know, you should be open to learn as much as possible. To become receptive to learning requires the ability to admit you don't know everything.

We all have metrics that define our success. If you do your job well, no one can fuck with you!

Our emotions creep in when things don't go our way. To every point that we make to excuse our lack of results there is a counterpoint.

Emotion is not a strategy.

You are not motivated by a reward or some neat technology. It is not your Manager or the CEO's responsibility to write your path to engagement.

Work should be fun and there is nothing more fun than winning!

1. Accept the responsibility for your own success.
2. Spend your time accordingly.
3. Make no excuses. 
4. Don't rest on your past successes.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, August 29, 2014

The Fruits of Our Labor

The summer in concluding. Soon the sun will shine less, the nights will be longer, and the days will be colder. As we get our last taste of summer our distractions fade with the sunshine.

It's time to buckle down!

Did you know that Snow Monkeys grow thicker fur in the winter? We can all learn a lesson from the ability to adapt as the environment gets harsh.

I wear a million hats in life: Business Development Director, Educational Committee Member, Volunteer Instructor, Blogger, Dad, Husband, Coach. There is one consistent in all of these seemingly disparate walks of life:


No matter how hard you try to do that right thing there are always those who have something to say.... a customer who needs more attention, a co-worker who questions your intent, an event attendee who wants volunteers to be well-trained professionals, a social media prowler who spends their day critiquing free information, a kid who thinks rules suck, or a parent who thinks your coaching style is insensitive.

Life's divine impossibility is pleasing everyone... get a pair!

I can tell you with certainty that the hardest thing to do is to participate. Most people don't volunteer because it is easier to criticize, condemn and complain. Trying subjects us to judgement.. most people don't like being judged.... and after a while we all give up on our dreams.

We have to be accountable for our effort and actions. If we know we've done our best it is equally important to stick up for ourselves. The critics will remain sequestered to their basement because cowardice fears intuition.

Emotion is not a strategy...! 
You can get pissed but you better have statistics (or a good story) to back you up!

Hard Work is Inarguable...!
Smart people don't always win because they get frustrated and give up. If you work hard and endure you can achieve anything.

The Best Advice I've Given
I told my daughter years ago...

"Be nice to everyone but don't take shit from anyone"

...word to live by...

Don't Forget to Remember!