Potentially profound positivity

A few years ago, I tweeted: “What if for one day people were incapable of thinking, acting, and speaking negatively?

Reactions, perhaps not surprisingly, ranged from “how wonderful!” to “yeah right.

For the most part, the responses seemed a very clear indicator of a person’s perspective on life

If their response was positive, they seemed to be a generally positive person

If the response was negative, their overall perspective on life seemed to trend towards the negative

 

negative-and-positive

 

 

The positive responders are easy to be around and generally good fun

While the negative responders are a challenge, although an interesting one

They’re a challenge in two ways:

  1. To understand the likely complex nature and twisting pathway of how they got to where they were (I’m guessing as babies they were as smiley and adorable as the positive guys)
  2. To figure out how they could actually be swayed from negative to more positive

Some might respond that getting involved with the negative responders is none of my business, however I think it is

I believe the world itself is capable of an overall shift from negative to positive

And the result of that, well, would be phenomenal (more smiles, more encouragement, move love, more peace)

 

And if you make it a little of your business, we could, you know, change the world

A lofty goal for sure, but without challenge, life can begin to get dull (and possibly even lead to negativity!)

 

 

 

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Current state of affairs

When was the last time you refreshed your CV (or resume)? Two years ago? Just before you got into your current position?

 

Two reasons why you should get on that:

  1. Obvious one: You’re ready to take on a promotion or new role (within the current company or at another company)
    1. Keeping your resume current allows you to nimbly apply for both new positions within your organization and ones outside
    2. In the unfortunate situation where you lose your current job, its one less thing to have to do to kick-start the job search process again (and it’s a nice psychological relief to have that already taken care of)
  2. Less obvious one (but even better reason): Assess where you’re currently at career-wise in your current role
    1. It’s easy to get drawn into the day-to-day work of your current role and suddenly months and at times years have passed
    2. Your job may be going well, however it’s also quite possibly your head-down approach has allowed you to miss out on fruitful opportunities
    3. Updating your CV, due to the nature of it being a high-level summary of your current and past roles, is a great opportunity to get a sense of what you’ve achieved, what more you’d like to do, and areas where you definitely want to do more

 

Curriculum Vitae

 

It’s definitely worth spending an hour (even better splitting that across 2-3 sessions) to get your CV up to date

 

You’ll likely have a couple of reactions when you’re finished:

  1. A fine smile after reflecting on how you’ve had some nice achievements
  2. A good boost to step back and re-establish some strong goals and milestones for the upcoming year

 

 

 

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High school volunteer

High school was an interesting time

The things that a high school student respects in their peers at the time can appear to be quite different than when adults

Top athletes definitely deserve some honor, but popularity in and of itself shouldn’t really garner a whole lot of respect

 

And how different things are now as an adult

I may still respect a person that earns attention and popularity among peers, but one of biggest respect drivers for me today are those people that really give themselves to others, in a selfless manner

I could/would have grown to respect those that volunteered way back in high school, but it really wasn’t prevalent at the time

While classes were largely boring and contained little in the way of personal development and inspiration (academically or otherwise)

It’s definitely a shame that a ripe opportunity to instill the positive skills and mindset that come from volunteering in a young mind is often largely missed

It’s definitely not too late, but as an adult volunteering of one’s time is often limited to bits of free time scattered here and there

 volunteers

Introducing volunteering into young peoples’ lives would:

  • teach them valuable life skills
  • expose them to selfless thinking at a time where they’re more open-minded
  • benefit us all – those that receive help, those that volunteer, and those that are inspired by their efforts

 

 

 

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The shoe perspective

 

Two shoe salesmen go to Africa in the 1900s to assess the opportunity to sell shoes.

They report back and one says it’s a horrible situation since they don’t wear shoes, while other says it’s a glorious opportunity since they don’t wear shoes yet.

 

I have always loved this story. And have come to appreciate and love people that are inspired to seek out the good and the opportunity in every situation.

Everything doesn’t always go as planned. Life wouldn’t be that interesting if it did, and we’d miss out on a range of learning opportunities. Try not to forget that when things appear to have gone awry.

Failures and frustrations can lead us to a richer life (if we let them).

 

dress shoes

 

 

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The rug taught me

I bought a new rug

It feels seriously good under my feet (and my body; I admit I lay down on it at times to fully engage in it’s bliss)

I’ve never had a rug generate this much pleasure (physically and visually)

Laying on it and sitting on it feels great, but there is also the nice side effect of distracting me from my computer/work/etc

Realisation: I need to allow more physical (and non-conventional) things into my life to provide both pleasure and distraction

Advice: Not only give into things that bring you joy and pleasure (walking, boating, hiking, singing, teaching, laughing, etc), but make time (lots of time) for them since you’ll likely walk away (or get off them) with a new energy, drive, and motivation

 

 persian rug

 

 

 

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I’ll take the unconventional please

I’ve never really liked conventional things

I’m not a fan of conventional holidays, titles, and photographs

I’m also certainly not the most unconventional person out there (Richard Branson and Tim Ferriss nicely break the mold of conventional approaches and views)

Which is good for me, because I can strive to be more like them by following their lead and learning from them

It’s often our nature to be envious of those that are better than us – at whatever it is we want to be

But we can also allow these opportunities to motivate us rather than generate jealousy

And to those people that are very good at things – whether it be breaking the status quo or finely perfecting it – keep up the good work and strive on, you’re an inspiration and you help us all ultimately achieve new levels of success

 

 

 

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I’m still malleable

I love how we as humans are so adaptable, even as we get older

 

I’ve never been a morning person and would also typically stay up fairly late at night (even feeling energised at around 11pm)

I recently joined the 5am Club and in a very short time I’m already good with getting up at 5am (albeit not always jumping out of bed with a great big smile)

But I’m also already quite comfortable going to bed at a considerably earlier hour than I used to; It has now become the new norm in a very short time

 

5am

 

Most of us don’t give ourselves credit for what we can achieve when we apply a little motivation, persistence, and grit

(And the really cool thing is that with every little (or big) success we have, we’re just a little more motivated and excited for the next challenge)

 

 

 

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Do you like me?

I love smoothies and was at a Boost Juice shop in the UK early one morning

The girl that took my order and made my smoothie was very friendly

So friendly that I was curious as to whether she was simply a good employee and was like this with all the customers (I didn’t have an opportunity to hang around and see), or whether, you know, she liked me (Ok, so I’m certainly not under the belief that a woman that smiles at me is into me, but I do know that there is more than one type of smile)

I could have asked her after she served me the smoothie (but didn’t)

It might have been awkward if she in fact was the good smiling employee and I was just another customer, or we perhaps could have gone for a coffee later that evening

Either way, inquiring of her, rather than questioning it in my head, would have very likely solved my little mystery

 

Now the reason for her smile isn’t a matter of serious significance, however the same scenario can apply to much more serious issues in life

Asking questions can often bring forth good information, yet we often don’t ask

Some people are gun shy since they’ve been shot down too many times (not exclusively related to love and affection), whereas some people are just shy

Some people are better than others at asking, while it can be those same people that have been shot down that have learned to cope with less information

Communication and information should be flowing back and forth far more than it does, giving us excellent opportunities to learn how to handle the truth (good and bad) as well learn to become better people

 

We need to break down some of the complexity we surround ourselves with and get back to a more simple life in this regard, like that of children (they have no hesitation telling another person that they like them)

As a Canadian, I come from culture that is relatively reserved and doesn’t always speak their mind

Maybe it’s because of this upbringing that I love it when people tell me the way it is, positive or negative (I crave opportunities to be told of something I’m not doing right so I can could improve upon it)

 

One of my primary goals in life is to simply become a better person

As a result I want your feedback, thanks

Its not always something that I want to hear (who doesn’t want to hear praise?!), but its for the betterment of us all if you share it with me

 

If you and I have a relationship, let’s talk. I want to know more.

If you don’t like what I’ve written here, let’s talk. I want to learn more.

Hey world, let’s talk.

Life is far too short.

 

 

 

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Your beautiful familiarity

I went to a Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony performance called Broadway 1959 last year

The symphony was great and I really liked the addition of the 3 singers that performed along with them

I do admit though that I got more enjoyment from the songs that I knew than the songs I didnt know; This is pretty standard human behavior

The same is true with travel; A conversation is always more interesting to us when people are talking about a place that weve actually been to (And its equally less interesting when theyre laughing and reminiscing about a place that weve not been and it means nothing to us)

people-laughing

I have a simple rule: The more you experience, the more you enjoy life

Ive seen it fully validated with myself, and with numerous others

So get out and experience all you can

Youll not only enjoy more of life, but youll very likely be: smarter, wiser, more accepting, more employable, more open-minded, and even sought after

All good things

 

 

 

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Positive minuses

Over the last number of years Ive removed things from my life, all for the positive

 

Less light: Use candles, theyre tantalisingly peaceful

Less negative people: At times unfortunate for those that you leave behind, but a brilliant gain for you

Less sugar: Not hard to wean off of across the board, with nice health benefits

Less driving: Easily boosts general calmness

Less ad-hoc planning: Bigger picture planning minimises the need for less-effective on-the-fly planning

Less worry: Its excellent how switching out a negative thought for a positive one brings a greater peace

Less smoking: So Ive not smoked before, but have seen good positive change in people that have quit

Less TV: Filling those hours with other desirable pursuits is relatively easy and so much more satisfying

 

As always, developing any habit (good or bad) takes practice, but with persistence and grit you can successfully get whatever you want (whether it be more or less)

 

Less is more

 

 

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I need confidence (and production)

Most days we are bombarded with offers to buy, to donate, to volunteer

I like to think of myself as a giving person, both personally and professionally, and also like to think my track record here is decent

I still though have a long way to go to reach my ideal state of giving, but thats what life is for; And I like the challenge

 

Ive come to realise that in order for me to open up my wallet, or calendar, or mind – I need to be wowed

Confident people always impress me (I detest arrogance, but love confidence)

Im much more likely to give (and happily give) if the requestor is both confident and polished in their pitch

It doesnt necessarily need to be an expensive production (the charity, the church, the event), but some practice and a bit of production never hurts

 

This need to be wowed also carries over into the rest of my life (and probably yours)

I lean towards spending time with people that are confident in what they do, and even more so in what they want (You?)

It puzzles and saddens me when people respond “I don’t know” to the question “What do you want to do with your life?

I want to work with and partner with people that know what theyre doing and can carry it off (I have no problem with Fake it till you make it)

And if the person is excited about what theyre doing (their job, their charity, their future), this will seal the deal for me

 

 

 

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Taxi philosophy

I had a good conversation with a friendly Indonesian taxi driver recently; He talked proudly of his family, and his and their life in Australia

He then suddenly threw out his philosophy on life: Don’t look to those that have more than us because we’ll always want more; Instead look to those that have less and be thankful

This is basically the same concept as Sarah Macdonald in her enjoyable book Holy Cow

I quite liked the book when I read it a number of years ago and had pondered this approach to life for a while, agreeing with it to some degree but there was also something in it that didn’t sit quite right with me

As I thought about it again in the taxi, I said no; An even better approach is to not simply look to those that have less, but put forward an effort to help them

This, my new Indonesian family man friend, is even more rewarding

 

 

 

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I want to us to be happy

I want to be your happiest customer.

But youre making it difficult for me.

My attempts at conversation are rarely acknowledged.

Your responses and greetings are often neutral at best.

My suggestions for improvements have no established channel and are perceived as odd.

But this is your business and Im confused.

Poor economy you say? Tough to find good people? This is your opportunity man.

When things are good, its easy to sit back and rest on your laurels.

But real success comes when overcoming challenge. Embrace that.

Take on the challenge to find good people. Inspire them. They might just inspire others (including me).

I do want you to succeed.

 

 

 

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Dental Town

There are 2 things Im always interested in when visiting my good friend the dentist:

  • Feedback (how did I do since I was last here?)
  • Lessons (what can I do better – to make each dentist visit less harsh?)

I’ve mostly liked my dentists and hygienists, but find they dont give up much info while Im there (and theyre not the ones with a mouth full of instruments)

These 2 things are valuable to me at the dentist office, but also very much so in life in general:

  • Feedback: Positive or negative, I want it! (Should I be showing off my pearly whites, or should I be psyching myself up for the drill?)
  • Lessons: I want to get better – at brushing and at life. Im not content with status quo. Im striving to get better and need your help. (Im not quite as smart as I look!)

 

 

 

 

 

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I want juicy

Limelight: Don’t seek it. If you deserve it, you’ll get it.

 

 

 

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How would they ace it?

When youre overwhelmed with a task (or range of tasks), do the following:

  1. Think about a person you admire (even better if theyre good at what youre doing; e.g. business, speaking/communicating, house cleaning, planning, etc)
  1. Think about how they would handle your task and get it done well
  2. Sit down, close your eyes, and picture them actually doing it (i.e. whistling while they whip through the task, smiling at the quick success, etc)
  3. Go and apply their style, method, and enthusiasm now and get it done nicely

 

 

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Be back

So after a long hiatus Im back with a new passion to discuss, dream, and evangelise for the rich life

Over the last two-plus years I’ve met some excellent people, both professionally and personally

Have traveled extensively in North American and abroad

Had a milestone birthday

Moved continents

Been moved by some brilliant people

And am even more convinced that the richest life here on earth is the one where you fervently give it all away (time, money, energy…)

Im currently cultivating a number of ideas and projects both in formal and informal areas and look forward to communication and collaboration

Thanks very much to those that have come into my life in various ways over the past couple years and earlier, and for those that I will meet going forward

 

I started this blog back in 2006 as an outlet to share my views, experiences, and ideas, ideally causing people to stop and think, and then act

The format then was bullet points (I like full sentences even less 6 years on) and ended the posts with a ‘practically speaking’ bit

I still fully embrace exploring concepts and ideas, but always seek to tie in a practical element, so we don’t just ponder but also act

I am though abandoning the ‘practically speaking’ element while posts will often be shorter than in the past, but even more to the point (and largely without punctuation; Im still a minimalist!)

 

To a rich life. Don’t stop seeking people and projects that energize you!

David

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The third key untaught skill

The first two

  • The first two key untaught skills (to fail and to communicate) each stand alone, but are very much linked in terms of life’s richness
  • The ability to accept failure as fruitful learning, and then to communicate comfortably in a variety of settings are powerful and being good at them effectively enhances the lives of most people, whether it be their career, personal life, or general happiness
  • All people have some level of ability in all three skills, but focusing one’s attention on the betterment of the skills will allow them to reap further benefits in life
  • I do strongly suggest focusing on each skill independently


The third key skill: To present

  • The ability to effectively present: to confidently convey a message to others, whether it be a small group, a single person, or a stadium
  • Presenting is clearly linked to the second skill of communicating, and presenting is taking communicating to the next level
  • At minimum, presenting in an informal way is a fairly integral component to most peoples’ lives (not something just for politicians and salespeople), whether were presenting a project idea to a team or impressing a hiring manager in an interview
  • Glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking is one of the greatest fears for human beings, young and old
  • Many never really get over it and remain largely uncomfortable with public speaking throughout their lives; Others somewhat impressively get through a successful career that involves presenting, selling, and leading, but never get comfortable at it (this isn’t a good thing)
  • The key benefit that comes out of speaking well is confidence, which is applicable everywhere in life
  • Confidence leads to a plethora or benefits, and like anything, as we get better at a skill, our confidence grows and we typically enjoy the experience more
  • Speaking to large groups of people can be pretty powerful, especially when you’re leading them and they’re looking to you for guidance and motivation
  • Even if you don’t have grand ambitions to be a sought after public speaker, its worth considering shifting your perspective to one that likes speaking as you’ll benefit in a range of ways

My story
  • I was pretty shy growing up and certainly never labeled ‘outgoing’
  • I had teachers along the way, one excellent (and somewhat unconventional one) in grade school called Mr Ondusko that definitely had a positive impact on my confidence and ability to speak and present to others (On one occasion when it was my turn to present to the class and I was just unable to do it, he convinced me to speak to the class, but facing away from them; Which worked and led to a gradual building of my confidence)
  • I wouldn’t say there were many other times in school from then through to the completion of university that really provided opportunities for me to develop my skills in speaking and presenting
  • Many years later the pivotal point for me, that helped me swing myself over the wall, into the camp of loving to present to audiences, came in a Dale Carnegie Course in 2004; In each class we were presenting once or twice to the group on prepared topics related to our personal growth and development; I loved this course in that it helped me be comfortable standing up and speaking to a group, but also had you dig into your past and learn about myself, a nice combination (I loved the course so much that I went on to be a Graduate Assistant with them)
  • Not long after I started the coaching business, which led me to participate in local networking events in Vancouver to help grow the business (and good opportunities to speak to people you don’t know), which then introduced me to BNI, the referral networking organization, which became an excellent opportunity for grow in my ability to speak well for 2 reasons:
    • The weekly opportunity to get up and speak to a group of people (and observe others doing the same)
    • But even more so to learn how to succinctly and effectively present what I did in my business, but also the reasons why someone should hire me

 

Practically speaking

  • What’s great is that there are a number of practical resources to help anyone become a better presenter and speaker – from a massive range of books and online resources; But practice of course is the key, and speaking in front of the mirror or recording yourself on video are great starting points, then global organizations like Toastmasters are very supportive and excellent opportunities for practice; Although Dale Carnegie training (which includes the Dale Carnegie Course itself) are not primarily focused on public speaking, they provide a positive venue for practice and personal development; BNI as mentioned earlier also ties in the business promotion element, while Le Tip is also very similar, with chapters around the world
  • Facts tell, stories sell (I love this statement and its so true): Tie in stories and real-life elements into your speaking to boost your success and your enjoyment
  • *Key tip: Present on topics you like, or even better topics you are passionate about (You’ll never love public speaking if you don’t love the topic)
    • Bonus: If you’re passionate about your subject, you’ll engage the audience far more and therefore be much more successful

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The second key untaught skill

“Untaught”

  • I’m not saying that these 3 skills are never taught, because you can certainly take numerous courses in a variety of flavors for all 3
  • However these 3 skills have largely been left out of the current education system, to the serious detriment of far too many people
  • My point here is not to put down the education system, but to aid in the uptake of these critical skills for the thousands/millions of people that they don’t come naturally too (and that’s the majority)



The second key skill: To communicate

  • In addition to the first key skill of failing, the skill of communicating is equally important since as humans, all we do is communicate (verbal communication is everywhere and every day, but as if often pointed out, non-verbal communication is even more significant)
  • I’ve attended networking events, worked with business owners, managers, students, met random strangers (intentionally and not), interacted with family, colleagues, friends, volunteers, and many other people that we all come into contact with
  • Few can communicate comfortably
  • We can all speak, but there is a big difference with being truly comfortable with one’s self and their own ability to communicate
  • Whether its a friendly conversation with a neighbor or someone responding to a question about their dream job, few people, 1. appear at ease, and 2. clearly define their ideas, stories, and thoughts
  • I’m sitting in a Starbucks right now in Vancouver and love to ‘people watch’ and am always amazed at how few people will make eye contact
  • The Starbucks is in Vancouver Canada, which sits nicely on the west coast of North America, a place where society doesn’t generally condone (nor encourage) interacting with fellow strangers
  • Culture plays a part, a big part at times, into how people communicate with one another and how open and friendly they are (Compare waiting in line in a coffee shop in New York or Toronto with queuing up in a coffee shop in Madrid or Florence and where you’d likely get into an interesting conversation with a stranger)
  • But its no reason to simply conform to the societal norm, especially when its not a positive one



Back to school

  • Culture certainly plays a part and there are a lot of factors involved here, however if children/teenagers (when we all had far less inhibitions) are encouraged to communicate, converse, collaborate, and explore their ideas and passions in an open and constructive environment (this doesn’t really exist yet, but it would be exciting to create/implement), they would be far less inhibited as adults and therefore more free to interact with fellow humans
  • Kids are often reprimanded for talking in class and conversing and sharing still play such a small part in the classroom (Bring on the field trips and group work and events)
  • Communication can happen in so many ways, and in so many new ways that haven’t yet been developed
  • I’m currently working with Desire2Learn’s ePortfolio tool which is a game-changer in the way it easily facilitates, promotes, and tracks sharing and feedback among various people; One of many effective ways to enhance communication, especially when technology is complemented by in-person interaction

 

World, different

  • There is too much competition, jealousy, and fighting going on in the world right now
  • A great deal of this can be overcome simply through better communication to reduce misunderstandings, false pretenses, and anger
  • We’re all human after all and we’re actually seeking things not so different from one another
  • I’m always somewhat amazed when arch enemies end up friends and their enemy status was based only on misunderstandings; What’s even more amazing (and sad) is that so much time, often years, are wasted for no reason
  • I saw Invictus recently which had a number of great scenes on breaking down barriers, but one small part that I really liked (which probably won’t get mentioned in any reviews) is just before the World Cup final between the South African Springboks and the New Zealand All Blacks; As they come onto the pitche, the All Blacks players look fierce and angry, however this demeanor is quickly disarmed and shifts to friendliness and grins when Nelson Mandela (with his big smile) shakes hands with each of them; Appearances serve a purpose, but they don’t always convey the true person inside

 

Practically speaking

  • Make eye contact and hold it (It’ll feel awkward at first) and then smile
  • I’ve talked about smiling before and its so under emphasized, under played, yet a powerful tool to enact positive change
  • I’m not going to go on here about smiling, but I challenge everyone to make it their daily mission to smile (nothing complicated) as much as possible; For those of you that need something specific and for those who would find this too difficult, make the effort to smile (big grin) at at least 3 people a day (morning, noon, and night); And do this for 21 days
  • Other than smiling, influence the education system by speaking to teachers, administrators, board members, and get them to bolster the communication that goes on in school (If you need ideas or specifics, talk to me and I’ll help you come up with a specific plan for your contact)
  • Take a course or courses on communication; With better communication comes better confidence, something that most people can use more of; With it automatically comes better and more opportunities, success, and happiness

The 3 key untaught skills

Under-represented

  • There are three key untaught skills in life
  • Successful people typically learn and excel at these skills, many early on in life
  • Its a pity that these key skills are not formally taught in schools (Some teachers do recognize the benefits and incorporate elements of them, but there isn’t much in the way of formal training, and its short-sighted to not incorporate it)
  • It would be highly effective to get exposure at an earlier age so we can then fine-tune these skills throughout life

The first key skill: To fail

  • Numerous successful people claim that failing allowed them to get to the level of success that they ultimately achieved
  • From Abraham Lincoln to Richard Branson, there are examples from all walks of life
  • It is failure that builds character, tests resolve, and most of all, facilitates learning
  • Practice is key to success (as I tend to harp on)
  • The expression ‘Practice makes perfect’ is certainly true and is a catchy phrase, but doesn’t acknowledge the often significant amount of practice that is actually required
  • (You must also have a passion for what you’re doing in order to really excel and achieve success, however its measured)
  • Failing in today’s world has quite a significant negative connotation which is very unfortunate
  • Kids should be encouraged in all areas of life to try new things; And not discouraged or reprimanded
  • There are too many opportunities to give up and be ok with it
  • I’ve met too many adults that are afraid to try new things, to pursue their dreams, and hold back in life which robs them from true freedom and joy

Your enemy

  • Time is not on your side
  • We inherently become more risk averse as we age
  • So there is an even greater importance to try, fail, and learn at an early age so we’re not fearful of this process and it becomes part of who we are
  • The expression ‘you can’t teach a dog new tricks’ isn’t entirely correct, however it is certainly difficult to learn and excel as you get older

Practically speaking

  • Think back to a time when you were fearful of trying something new
  • But you either did it anyway (or had no choice), and then guffawed at your initial hesitation and were proud of your success (or at least the fact that you went ahead and did it)
  • Play that movie over and over in your head (savoring the goodness) and then decide to try something new – at work, in sport, with your friends/family
  • And don’t give up if it doesn’t go exactly right the first time, because it likely won’t be perfect, and giving up slots you in with the mediocre group, and who wants that?

Stay tuned for the second and third key untaught skills that are coming soon…

A carefully constructed identity

We are more naked than ever. We haven’t been this exposed since the time of the cavemen and their minimalist leather coverings. The Internet is of course changing the way the world works in so many ways. As a result, we are now presented with a huge opportunity to create a name for ourselves – our own unique brand that the world can see. This is optional of course, but not being proactive risks the chance that the world will brand you as they see you, not necessarily who you actually are.

The following is an excerpt from an interview on the topic of personal branding I had with Ingrid Hartmann from Elev8 You Personal Marketing in Vancouver.

David O’Hagan – Personal branding has definitely been gaining popularity recently, at least as a term. Branding has been around forever and up until recently has been largely left to the corporate realm.

Ingrid Hartmann – Yes, but that’s all changing now, largely due to the impact of the Internet and its mass of easily available information and specifically Web 2.0 social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. In addition, with the rise of professional services and contracting paired with declining job security, professionals are realizing the importance of marketing their own niche while promoting the company they work for. Now we all have a brand whether we like it or not. So the question you need to ask yourself is, Do you like your brand?

DO – I love this idea! Different people do put different weight into how they are perceived (Paris Hilton vs the cave-dwelling mountain man in western Idaho), but everyone is essentially giving off a ‘frequency’ by their actions (or inactions).

IH – That’s true, there are both tangible and intangible ways we give off messages about who we are and what we stand for. A person’s business card is part of their brand, whether they are an employee or have their own company. Going to an event without a business card is giving off a signal about yourself, as well as presenting a professional business card with an email address like partyboy@hotmail.com.

DO – Agreed! I find it interesting how I still see people with these types of email addresses on their cards or on their web sites. I also find it interesting many people have never done a search on their own name. Even if you’re not famous and don’t have your own web site or blog, there is often a surprising amount of public information available on you, especially with sites like Zoom Info compiling information on us behind the scenes. Zoom Info had pulled information on me from a number of sites including my company site, my blog, a colleague’s site, and an alumni site. And I’m sure that this type of automated information gathering process will continue to expand and proliferate as more and more information is available online.

DO – You had mentioned something earlier that had intrigued me about the idea that personal branding allows you to align the perceptions of others with your own. It would make sense that although we see ourselves one way, others potentially can view us differently (not necessarily deliberately, but acting on what information they have received or experienced), which may be to our disadvantage. Can you elaborate on this?

IH – Sure. Regardless of your position, support or strategic, you already have a personal brand based on how others perceive you, whether by reputation or through experience. Your brand determines how your clients, colleagues, manager, team members, etc. interact with you. It may impact whether you get the next promotion, high profile project or desirable client. It is important to gather information on how others view us (if you have access to a 360˚ Survey – take advantage of it!). In doing so, we can ensure it aligns with our vision of our own brand and we can identify any gaps between how we want to be seen and how we actually are perceived. Personal branding is about a systematic way to build the brand qualities we want others to see in us so that the brands others put to us align with the brand identity we see for ourselves.

Look at yourself as a product and build up credibility and trust through the value that you provide (and how that value is distinct from others like colleagues, competitors, etc.) For example, if you want to be known as the “go-to guy” in your office, you need to ensure you’re making yourself approachable and accessible.

DO – I like this concept because I strongly believe that successful people and businesses are those that put significant effort into focusing on what makes them unique and then really differentiating themselves.

Everyone is in competition with others, regardless of whether they like it or not. (Even companies that develop a brand new technology that doesn’t exist yet, will soon have others trying to steal market share from them.) As a simple example, take a chiropractor that has recently been certified. He’s very excited about his new business and eager to help people. And what does he do, joins a clinic (or sets up his own) and markets himself the traditional way all the other chiropractors do (i.e. does some advertising, joins a networking group, etc). If he’s decent at chiropractic, he’ll do all right, but probably not highly successful unless he stops, assesses his himself and his practice, and makes a conscious decision to actively differentiate himself from his competition. As a simple example, If he had worked previously in the construction industry, he could target construction companies and be the chiropractor of choice, working half the week from a mobile chiro unit that visits construction sites. This is obviously desirable for the construction worker who doesn’t have to get cleaned up and travel to an office, while very time-saving since he (or she!) doesn’t have to extend his already long day by traveling to an office on the other side of the city.

So he’s now branding himself as the mobile chiropractor that can not only ‘talk-the-talk’ of the construction industry, but knows intimately the types of issues and injuries construction workers are dealing with due to his background in this industry.

OK Ingrid, you mentioned consistency and the fact that successful companies are ones that have a consistent perception by the public. Why is this key for individuals as well?

IH – Yes, just like successful corporate brands emphasize a consistent message and “look and feel”, an individual must also reinforce his or her personal brand. It is also important for a personal brand to be authentic and focused. In order to achieve this, the brand must truly reflect the individual’s values and aspirations. Most importantly, the individual needs to believe in their unique personal brand as a true reflection of himself or herself for it to be convincing to others.

DO – Good point. I go to a lot of networking events and am often astounded at how few people can present themselves or their businesses in an interesting way. Being the gentleman that I am (chuckles) I am polite and listen, but many people are selling themselves short by not assessing how they present themselves in that first introduction. Most people are going to these events to build their business or get more clients, but there are many lost opportunities due to the fact that they’re often not making a good first impression.

To me its not what you say and how well you can sell your business or products/services, but how interesting you are. Few people remember the details of the conversations they had (even the next day), but what they do remember are: 1. interesting jobs/companies (sky diving instructors or submarine mechanics), and/or 2. engaging personalities (the person made you laugh, made you think, told a great story, etc).

IH – When we are clear on who we are and where we’re going, we project this confidence and clarity to others. Therefore, it’s important to be ready to talk about your personal brand with whomever you happen to meet through chance encounters. By being conscious of your personal brand it ensures you’re ready to promote yourself when casual, unplanned opportunities come up. For example, use water cooler talk with an executive as a chance to talk about enjoying your leadership role in an important new project, rather than chit-chatting about the weather.

DO – I always like getting practical, so how do you recommend someone get going on creating their personal brand?

IH – I recommend starting out with a marketing plan. The plan should definitely include an elevator pitch, a 30 second statement that includes your key attributes and things that are unique about you. It should be memorable so you could include a quick story about yourself or a metaphor to describe what you do. Try something like “think of me as a firefighter since I spend my days putting out fires at my office”. Since boundaries are blurring between professional and personal lives, don’t be afraid to include a hobby or lifestyle description in your personal brand or elevator speech. Let colleagues know if you play in a band on weekends or coach your twin sons’ soccer team if they are important to you. Additionally, a vision statement and measurable goals are important to include in your marketing plan. Then, and this is important, you need to constantly reinforce the elements within the plan on a regular basis.

DO – That makes sense. Like so many things, you need to repeat it to ingrain it in your thinking so its second nature. This will take some work and some thinking initially, but once you get rolling your brand and the perception that others have of you will really begin to take shape and impact your efforts and levels of success.

Personal brands are not yet like CVs in the job search process. It’s a given that when applying for a job you will need to present your experience in a CV. Its not required that you have a strong personal brand when you apply for a job, or seek promotion, or start a business. You can still have a first-mover advantage of sorts. Knowing yourself well and having a clear picture of what you can offer is undoubtedly valuable and gives you an advantage over a colleague or competitor if they do not.

IH – You’re exactly right, David, when you say a personal brand isn’t required; in fact, most people don’t have one. Consequently, developing and maintaining your personal brand will definitely give you the edge over your competition. Also, many people don’t think about the messages they are giving off to the world about who they are and what they do. In today’s competitive environment, having a personal brand helps you to communicate who your are and what is unique about you so you are focused and thus can make more meaningful and memorable connections with potential employers or someone you met at a networking event.

DO – And I’m guessing that like any business strategy, your personal branding and marketing strategy should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure it remains true to you.

IH – Definitely. I would recommend re-evaluating it on an annual basis. It can be an informal evaluation, but should reflect back on your marketing strategy to see if it is still inline with your values and vision. There often aren’t significant changes, but people and desires and goals evolve based on experience and therefore your personal marketing strategy should remain inline with your vision for your life.

DO – Great. Well thanks so much Ingrid for your time and the very interesting discussion. And if someone is interested in talking to you more about personal branding and marketing, what should they do?

IH – Have them check out our web site at www.elev8you.com or give me a call at 604.737.3646.

Experience = Positivity

Driving directions

  • Recall the last time you drove to a place you hadn’t been to before without using GPS
  • Even with driving directions in hand, you probably drove a little slower than normal
  • You probably re-checked your directions a few times while on route
  • And you may have thought for a moment that you should have already arrived at a certain street or passed a certain landmark by now
  • If you’ve since made a second trip to that destination, especially not too long after the first trip, you probably ditched the map, puffed out your chest, and drove on confidently at a greater speed
  • Why is that?
    • Well the obvious answer is that you’re now experienced in driving that particular route
  • Experience is simply gaining knowledge of something through participation or action
  • Experience brings confidence
  • What does confidence bring?
  • It often brings things like:
    • Motivation
    • Aspiration
    • Joy
    • A desire to serve
    • And many other things (all positive, by the way)

The simple equation

  • So if experience (whether it be successfully arriving at a destination, becoming an expert in your industry, traveling abroad, or stepping out of your comfort zone) will bring about positive feelings and desires within you, why not commit yourself to getting out and experiencing life more and living richly?

Purpose?

Good news

  • The Internet is great for many things and the vast access to news sources is to me one of the best (except if you’re in China)
  • And using an RSS reader makes it that much easier
  • I ended my subscription in December to a national newspaper print edition because I just wasn’t finding enough interesting articles (I also like the fact that I’m now a little more ‘green’)
  • Seth Godin has been pretty vocal about the upcoming disappearance of newspapers
  • One thing that web-based news provides that a paper-based newspaper will never be able to do is include real-time comments from readers
  • Its often these comments that I find quite interesting, often more interesting than the article itself (The more controversial the article, the more comments)

No comment

  • One thing though that has stood out for me lately is the at times large volume of negative comments
  • Check out most articles relating to the Vancouver Olympics (especially the Globe & Mail reporting on the financing issues related to the athlete’s village) to see what I’m talking about
  • OK so the Olympics can often be a fairly controversial topic for a variety of reasons, but even YouTube has a surprisingly large number of videos with numerous negative comments

Criticize vs contribute

  • So members of the traditional newspaper industry may have reason to not be so positive, but what about the rest of us?
  • I agree that the news we getting on the current state of the economy is not overly optimistic, but if you dig a little for it (move away from your traditional news providers, sir) there is quite a bit of positive energy and ideas flowing from organizations that accept the current situation and seek innovative ways and solutions to move forward
  • Here are a few random examples (all available via RSS):

The 2 step

  • So my question is, why so negative?
  • Negativity didn’t just rear its head again in September 08 when the economy really started to deteriorate
  • In coaching circles, the theme that usually comes up is ‘purpose’ (and lack of it)
  • It can be an airy-fairy concept for many, but I believe there is considerably more truth to it than many allow
  • If you step back and assess your own situation, you may get a glimpse of where you’re at
  • Ask yourself these 2 questions:
    • Why am I here?
    • What excites me about my daily life?
  • If you struggle here, you are likely lacking some clarity around your purpose, and how to live out your purpose
  • But don’t fret because you’re not without purpose, you just need to discover it (and then harness it)
  • And then you need to admire how nicely things will fall into place in your life (and those around you)

The e-volution

Experience

  • Experience is generally good to have, and we are regularly gaining experience, whether we intend to or not
  • Even if you’re in the most mundane of assembly line jobs, each day you go into work you become a little better at what you do
  • But basic experience doesn’t usually lead to a rich life because in most cases you remain an employee on a salary with limited upside, without much opportunity to really question how things are done, or propose new ideas (I’m not against being an employee, but I have a hard time with the limited opportunity to be creative and challenge the status quo)

Expert

  • To live richly (whatever that means to you), expertise has got to be your goal
  • Its in this realm that you become sought out (to speak to groups or to consult to organizations) and have the opportunity to question the way things are done and enact new ideas and opportunities because you are deemed an expert
  • Unfortunately few organizations see the value in fully empowering their people for growth and development, but this isn’t to say that you cannot be an expert within your own company
  • Its here that you have the freedom to build credibility, a unique reputation, and then be rewarded accordingly

Excellence

  • Now granted not everyone is seeking recognition as the foremost expert in their field, but allow your (fertile) imagination to dream a moment and picture how excellent life could be if you were engaged, regularly contributing ideas, and an integral part of forward-thinking groups and organizations
  • Given the choice, most people would take the exciting and stimulating choice over the dull and boring one
  • Even if the money or the recognition or the travel aren’t important to you, isn’t the opportunity to be stimulated and influencing positive change even a little bit enticing?
  • For many people it is, but they’re reluctant to step up and put themselves on the line, so they resort to feigning contentment with life

Time to brush up

Secrets

  • We recently ran a workshop at the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce on motivating staff and teams
  • I was in the mood to give away secrets and said that ‘communication’ is the key to motivating staff
    • If you’re looking for that one thing (aren’t we all?!) that will make you stand out as an effective motivator, it all boils down to superior communication
  • The workshop was full of practical and easy-to-use tools for managers to help them boost motivation in their people
  • I’ll let you in on another secret: Even though all the practical and easy-to-use tools are in fact ‘practical’ and ‘easy-to-use’, the reason why there are so many unmotivated people within organizations today is not because motivation is hard or complicated, but because most managers don’t spend the time to build a good rapport with their people
  • So although time management may not appear to directly relate to motivating staff, it actually does (A manager that is less stressed and has the time to sit down and build relationships will inherently end up with nicely motivated and engaged staff
    • So that is how a section on time management found its way into our workshop
  • What was interesting is that in the participant feedback, there was a huge demand for more time management tools and ideas

 

For the love of time management

  • I love the topic of time management
  • Some of the reasons I love it:
    • Its fascinating how many people obliviously waste significant amounts of their time, especially while working
    • We are all stuck with the exact same 24 hours in a day and 60 minutes in an hour (and regardless of how much money or clout you have, you cannot buy any more)
    • Solutions to better time management are indeed easy-to-use and implement and don’t require much more than a bit of discipline and repetition
    • The lack of time (or perception of it) impacts virtually every person; Few people can say they have lots of time and are at peace

 

Creeps in everywhere

  • Here’s a recent quirky example of how our perception of time gets skewed
  • We recently became the proud owners of a Philips Sonicare toothbrush
  • Now the sonic cleaning action of the brush is great, however what I really love is the ‘Smartimer’ which counts down 2 minutes and alerts you every 30 seconds
    • Its not so much the timer itself that I really like, but the fact that the timer points out a significant misperception of time on my part
  • Let me elaborate:
    • I’ve been brushing my teeth unassisted for over 30 years and am pretty happy with my brushing skills and style (and a for-the-most-part filling-free mouth)
    • Now the timer has illuminated a serious flaw in my technique
    • Its now clear that I tended to flit about my mouth with the brush, spending far more time in some areas and perilously little time in other critical areas
  • So this secondary feature of the sonic toothbrush (the primary feature being its sonic cleaning speed of an incredible 31,000 brush strokes per minute; That’s over 500 strokes per second!) has demonstrated that even something that I would consider myself fairly experienced in (teeth brushing), I had been somewhat subpar in my abilities
  • So, much improvement and innovation comes from awareness
  • The average Joe (plumber or otherwise) goes through life unaware of many areas in their life that could be enhanced and improved upon, many with minimal effort
  • There is great opportunity in the assessment of how one manages one’s time

 

Simply better

  • At a number of time management workshops that I’ve facilitated, I’ve talked about ultra simple assessment tools, one being a ‘time log’ (A document where you simply record the tasks, actions, duties that you did over the course of a day)
  • Its often quite amazing the reactions people have to how they spend their own time when reviewing what they’ve actually done (or not done) for a period of a few days
  • I’ve had people scowl at tools like this as being too simple, kindergarten in nature, and below them
  • But regularly, one of the biggest obstacles to better time management is not accurately knowing where your time is spent
    • Have you ever shut down your computer and walked out of the office after a particularly busy day and then wondered to yourself what you actually accomplished?
  • It’s usually the people that take the time to assess where their time goes that end up being more successful, because they’re the only ones armed with the knowledge of where change can be made (Ignorance is only bliss sometimes)

 

Practically speaking

  • The two step:
    • Time yourself doing day-to-day tasks to see where you spend/waste your time
    • Armed with the knowledge of where your time goes, adjust your behaviors to waste less time, be more productive, and do more of what you actually want to do
  • If you want to stop feeling like you’re under the gun with no time to breath, get in touch with me
  • I regularly work with individuals (in person or video conference) and groups (workshops and Lunch & Learns) on the effective implementation of many very practical and easy-to-use time management tools that will free you (and your organization) up to be more productive, focused, and definitely less frazzled

Smile boys

Practice makes perfect

  • OK so I’m going to keep things simple today and talk about the smile
  • As the holiday season approaches people are generally more smiley
  • Yet at this moment in time there is quite a bit of negative news and concern about jobs, housing, and the economy (and the holidays don’t automatically make everyone smile anyway)
  • If ‘enthusiastic smiling’ is a bit of a stretch for you, the upcoming holidays are a good time to practice (its less likely that people will look at you strangely if you’re smiling more than normal when you’re usually Monsieur Grump)
  • Although the Christmas carols are already being heard and the decorations are making appearances, you still have some time to practice
  • Why am I actually telling you to smile more? Read on, its important…



 

Look around, and then look at yourself

  • As I write this, I’m sitting in a coffee shop observing the conversations around me (I’m not ignoring my friend; He hasn’t arrived yet)
  • The various conversations, animation, and smiling covers a broad spectrum here – from the morose to the exuberant
  • But it’s the happy and smiley people that usually attract your attention when you gaze around a room
  • Question: If the conversations were for sale and you were in the market to buy, which one would you choose?
  • Next time you’re in a coffee shop or restaurant (or any other venue with groups of random people) look around and notice who is smiling and who isn’t
    • Who would you rather sit down and join?
    • When you go back to the office, would you rather work with the manager with the smiley and positive disposition, or the perpetually pessimistic and negative one
    • Then think about the energy you give off; Someone may be thinking about your energy and attitude right now…

 

 

Big ROI

  • Time is precious for most everyone and many people are lacking sufficient energy (often due to their less-than-positive outlook)
  • Its always been said that it takes more effort to frown than it does to smile
  • Even if you’re a neutral smiler (you don’t much of either smiling or frowning), the ROI on smiling is significant and the benefits far too often overlooked
    • I regularly work with management teams on leadership and communication and have seen excellent results and successful rapport building by the managers that simply choose to proactively smile and be more positive with their staff (i.e. greater respect, more motivation, greater ideas put forth, less squabbling, etc)
    • And all this simply as a result of a commitment to smiling more; How easy is that?
    • And then there’s the ripple effect of a person’s conscious effort to smile and be more positive then impacts their family, friends, neighbors, etc (Your children smile more, invitations to events increase, help with renovations suddenly materializes, etc)

 

 



Practically speaking

  • I’m going to guarantee that if you smile with gusto for 21 days in a row, you will reap significant rewards in either your professional life, personal life, or both
  • And if you’re currently distressed about the economy, your job, or another worrisome situation; Smile, because better times are coming
  • I’m serious about this
  • For the skeptics out there; Yeah you, the guy smugly guffawing at the touchy-feely nature of it all – whose bald spot is growing as quickly as his job security is plummeting, while at the same time his kid badly needs braces before his confidence is fully eroded due to the repeated harassment by his fellow classmates
    • You too need to smile because it will all work out in the end, and smiling just accelerates the process
  • Even the most negative and unhappy person can ‘fake it till you make it’
  • For a swath of easy and practical smile enhancers, get in touch; I’ll share

At peace

Peace, mate

  • Virtually everyone responds (or has responded) to the question “How are you?” using the phrase “I’m busy” (or some derivation)
  • An alternate response to the question I once heard was: “I’m at peace”
    • It made me pause and always being up for trying new things I thought I’d give it a go; I found it to have quite an impact on both me and the person that asked the question
    • This little scenario was one of many things that came together to help me see the true power of the mind and its impact on our actions, emotions, and energy (or lack of it)
  • I’ve also now realized that few people are actually at peace in their lives
  • Next time you go out (to dinner, the supermarket, the bank, or the park) take note of how many people are smiling and how many seem happy and at peace versus how many are without smiles or even complaining
  • Smiling is a pretty good indication of a person’s level of general peacefulness (Smiling can of course be forced or faked, but it does have a way of being a relatively true measure of peacefulness, since the effort required to fake it or force it is significant (a good thing in itself!) and it is unsustainable over time for most people
  • How long has road rage been around for? (It likely didn’t exist with the horse and buggy; Both travel and life were moving slower then)
    • Even if cut off while driving, people who are at peace with themselves don’t curse, raise fingers, or begin to drive aggressively…
  • A while back I heard a great message from a pastor about living life at peace
    • He was telling us how he had been living a fast-paced life and how when driving he would approach intersections where the light was red
    • I instantly pictured myself in the same situation and thought ‘yes, you look for the lane with the least number of cars and the lane where drivers will likely pull away fastest (avoiding, of course, lanes with large trucks or elderly people)’
    • He then said, to my surprise, that he now looks for what he believes will be the slowest lane and moves right into it
    • I thought wow, now that’s an interesting twist; Here I was thinking I was being efficient in my approach, yet a potentially superior approach to this situation is doing the exact opposite…

 

Sage wisdom

  • I’ve been reading the book The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma
    • The subtitle of the book is ‘A spiritual fable about fulfilling your dreams and reaching your destiny’ so you might think its just another personal development book (with a catchy title) about living out your dreams
    • The book however has a great alternate perspective on this oft-covered topic with the story told as a conversation between two friends
    • I like Sharma and the book because they both have a practical and easy-to-use approach to leading a richer and more peaceful life
    • One of the principals in the book is ‘Opposition Thinking’
      • Its simply based on the idea that the mind can only hold one idea at a time, and as a result any person can quite easily develop a positive mindset in a short period of time
      • To give it some tangibility, he suggests that you view your mind as a giant slide projector, with every thought being a single slide; So whenever a negative thought comes up on the screen, you quickly replace it with a positive one
    • The book is filled with a number of great one-liners of wisdom like:
      • The quality of your thinking determines the quality of your life
      • If there is a lack in your life it is because there is a lack in your thoughts
  • As cheesy as it may sound, finding a true peace within yourself is key to truly living a rich life
  • And the great part is that with an open mind and some persistence, progress and success come quickly

 

Practically speaking

  • Meditate (Ask me if you don’t know how or have had limited success in the past)
  • Actively avoid negative thinking, scenarios, and people and proactively focus all you energy on envisioning an abundant future for yourself
    • Don’t get sucked into yours or someone else’s negativity; the power to reap positive rewards lies fully within you (which is a good thing!)
  • Not that you desire to be liked by all people, but being happy and enthusiastic is nearly always more appealing to others (family, friends, colleagues, etc)
    • Even though you may not love your current job, a positive attitude at work can go a very long way and may even get you favor with the boss, a promotion, or an invitation to join a cool new project
  • Don’t allow yourself to say that you’re busy and instead substitute “I’m at peace” and watch the effects on both you and the people you say it to

Career Cruise Control Challenge

A personal experience

  • It can be said that our careers are our lives
  • This is true if you look at how many of our waking hours are spent working (and commuting; and talking about work)
  • This definitely isn’t a bad thing, but should be looked at as a challenge; A challenge to seek the most fulfilling career possible – since this is where most of our time is spent
  • That being said, it is a challenge for many since finding a rewarding and very fulfilling career is indeed difficult for many (How many people do you know that actually love their job?)
  • Effort is required and normally it takes some work, with positive results rarely occurring immediately
  • Below is a high level overview of my professional career path to date
  • Why am I sharing this with you? A few reasons:
    • You may relate to it (Frustration with not knowing what to do with your career; Your career path is a bit spastic like mine)
    • You can see that it is definitely a journey over time that often requires patience
    • Its never too late to make change/seek a new career path (You never know what opportunities will present themselves and who you will meet and who they can connect you to)
    • Life will never be boring if you continually seek personal and professional growth and development
    • Get you thinking about your own career path and possible major and/or minor adjustments or vector shifts you can and should make (Whether you’re a client, friend, or someone struggling with their current job or frustrated because you have no idea where to even start, I sincerely want you to experience a rich and fulfilling career, for you yourself, but also for all the people around you (your family, friends, colleagues, etc)
    • Life is to be embraced and enjoyed (love the good and learn from the not-so-good)

My (fairly unconventional) professional career path outline

  • Graduated university with an Economics degree (No logic behind this choice)
  • Liked the idea of working in the financial services industry (more than any other role I had seen to that point)
  • Worked in a mutual fund department in Toronto (after completing the Canadian Securities Course) but frustratingly missed out on a broker’s assistant position due to an error by the HR department
  • Moved to Vancouver on the suggestion of a friend who had recently moved there (Why not?!)
  • Got a cool job that involved setting up a Internet-based communications platform in the resource sector (and driving nice cars and boats)
  • Three years on with still no idea of my career path or purpose I left Vancouver to travel overseas and live abroad (and maybe ‘find myself’)
  • Lived and worked (primarily in financial institutions) in London and Sydney (and traveled in Europe and Southeast Asia) and had a fantastic time soaking in the history, culture, diversity, and social scene; Met some amazing people and learned so much about perspectives (good and bad) on life
  • Decided to further my formal education, took the GMAT, and got into an MBA program with a technology focus in the south of France realizing that I’ve always preferred technology to banking/financial services (This program was one of the best experiences of my life, largely due to the quality people I met and the exposure to different ways of thinking and mindsets)
  • Completed a great consulting project within the MBA program with a Swedish wireless consulting firm (dream job at the time) and then graduated with an intention of staying in Europe, but my timing was off (really off) as the dot-com bubble had recently burst and most jobs evaporated
  • Moved to Toronto, reconnected with some old friends, and did some consulting work (in the wireless industry)
  • Six months later moved to Florida to work for an upstart tech company (Got connected to the company through a good friend who had moved to Florida from Scotland after completing an MBA there)
  • Excited about the new job and the new opportunities promised, dove into the role with enthusiasm (maybe a little too much) and the job ultimately fizzled out; But I loved the weather and the friends I made (Among them I met a great Lebanese guy taking the Dale Carnegie Course; A fantastic course on human behavior and growth)
  • While in Florida I got involved with the leadership team of a men’s ministry and while planning an event I met one of the speakers who is a life coach; I got really intrigued with this concept as my career was in need of a change but still had no idea what to do; The more I researched and learned about coaching, the more I saw it as a great fit for my desire to help people (I had always loved coaching and instructing sports when I was younger)
  • After three years in Florida and feeling for the first time a passion for a career path, I enrolled in a coach training program; Wanting to be closer to family I moved to Vancouver (a toss up between Vancouver and Toronto, but chose Vancouver in the end because of a new niece there)
  • I eagerly set up my own coaching business (I had always wanted to have my own business, but often struggled with what I would do) and began initially focusing on life coaching and career coaching (I saw huge value in helping people find and go after their purpose in life, and had significant experience working through the recruitment process living and working overseas)
  • I loved the one-on-one coaching and then through exposure to clients and networking I saw a need for business coaching (helping small business owners and entrepreneurs set up and successfully market their businesses), which fit well with my business background and experience
  • And then my business broadened further to include group training & development on topics of leadership, marketing, personal development, and small business growth; This work I absolutely love because of the group dynamic and I often combine it with one-on-one coaching sessions which works exceptionally well
  • So now, after a relatively short amount of time, my business has evolved significantly based on the needs I saw in the community, which has allowed me to serve a greater number of people as well as become even more passionate about the types of coaching and training that I do
  • I look forward to continually meeting new people, getting introduced to interesting ideas, and collaborating on cool projects through the rest of my professional life and beyond

Practically speaking

  • So if you made it through all of that, hopefully it will ignite a spark to assess, approve, or kick-start a career change, big or small, with the goal of a richer professional (and subsequently personal) life!
  • So I suggest you write out a similar career path outline to see what it reveals to you (you’re very happy with your career to date, you are definitely ready to make a big change, or you want to start thinking about other options at this stage in your life)
  • Create a challenge for yourself to get into a truly fulfilling career that will not only energize your life, but those around you (*Remember that its never too late, regardless of what others (or the little voice in your head) say!)
  • And get in touch with me if you have any questions about going about it; I’m here to help!

To our careers,
David

Celebrity me


Mirror, mirror

  • Why do some people have significantly more mirrors in their homes than others?
    • Are they trying to make rooms more spacious? Are they more vain?
  • Is it possible to get up in the morning, get ready to go out, and then leave the house without glancing (or staring) into a mirror?
    • I’d respond ‘Sure, why not?’ But then actually doing it is a little harder than you might think
  • Has the mirror become such an integral part of our lives that we can now not live without it? (Even though the modern mirror was only invented in the nineteenth century, the earliest mirrors date back to 6,000 BC)
  • Regardless of our fascination with our own outward appearance, there are plenty of mirrors around and many of us cannot resist opportunities to check ourselves out (glass buildings, changing rooms, rear-view mirrors, etc)

Practically speaking

  • Here are a couple reflection-related suggestions that can give you some interesting insight into yourself, your level of self-confidence (proclaimed or actual), and the way you lead your life
    • Record yourself with a video camera
      • Gone are the large VHS cassette-loaded beasts that your father used to surprise you with at every family event, and you can pick up a nice compact digital camera at any electronics store (and become a YouTube star as well)
      • I’ve done a number of mock interviews with career coaching clients recently which really illuminates a great deal about a person
        • For most people, watching themselves onscreen brings about some level of surprise; Most are surprised at how monotone or unenthusiastic they sound, while others get a laugh at how fidgety they can be
      • I recommend watching yourself on video as it’s a great way to learn your mannerisms (sometimes for the first time) and tweak your mannerisms and enthusiasm level – which helps whether you’re interviewing for anew job or looking to motivate your staff more
    • Watch yourself in an angled mirror
      • Position a full-length mirror on the floor against a wall at a 45 degree angle (ensure there is carpet or a rug on the floor so the mirror doesn’t slide out)
      • Take some time to observe yourself and your surroundings in the mirror as well as:
        • Walk toward the mirror from a distance and observe yourself while walking and while standing in front (Check out your stance, your body itself, and your facial expressions)
        • Standing at the base of the mirror, observe the room through the mirror (You’re seeing things from an unusual angle: You’re seeing things from a low position, yet you’re actually looking down to the mirror)
        • Recite a speech; Have a conversation; Run through your facial expressions
  • Give these two suggestions a go since they can be quite insightful, a great confidence booster, (and a good laugh), but also likely to help you both professionally and personally in more ways than you think
  • Many people fear public speaking and these are effective tools to help get over this fear or bolster your speaking skills
  • Even though speaking to an audience of one (a video camera or mirror) isn’t real life (they also don’t throw tomatoes though), it gives you a starting point to go from and quickly show where you need work (e.g. talk slower or minimize the use of words such as ‘like’, etc)
  • Enjoy it and let me know how it goes!

Larger than life

Euro boost

  • Roberta and I were in Europe in June and had a fantastic trip; We stayed with friends and family in a few cities and saw some new places we hadn’t been to before (For something unique and amazing, go to Matera and The Sassi in the south of Italy)
  • I’ve traveled quite a bit in Europe and love the history, the culture, and the people
  • Aside from the monuments and fine food, I love the people; I love how Europeans really live life and are passionate about their culture, their wine, and their pleasure
  • Please excuse my grand generalizations, but too many North Americans are too caught up in their big houses, glamorous careers, and flashy cars
  • Europeans to me (and maybe its that they’ve been around a lot longer and are more experienced), know how to enjoy life and live it with soul, especially those near the Mediterranean
  • Even the Brits can relax at times(!) I miss the Friday afternoons where people with pints are spilling out of pubs onto the streets in the sunshine (We sat at Borough Market on a Friday afternoon and I loved the way that cars politely dodged the outdoor pub patrons; While in Canada a policeman would promptly be on hand should a customer step outside the door with a beer)
  • I drove (a thankfully small car) on the Amalfi Coast in Italy which was exhilarating, while the regular negotiation of steep curves and narrow space between vehicles gave me a definite rush
  • Throughout the trip we met so many seriously generous people; People that selflessly and genuinely offered us accommodation, vehicles, time, and gifts, just because they understood how giving just feels so good

Mr Enthusiastic

  • I came back from the trip inspired; Inspired to be even more enthusiastic about my life and everything I’ve been blessed with
  • Here I am quoting Dale Carnegie again and his statement of how enthusiasm is the little known secret of success
  • I just can’t agree more and I love how this continues to get reinforced on an almost daily basis
  • Successful people are enthusiastic and their enthusiasm is usually infectious, which in turn draws more enthusiastic and driven people in (There’s that ripple effect again)
    • One of my business heroes, Sir Richard Branson, definitely lives life enthusiastically; He is enthusiastic about life and combating mediocre service with his varied businesses
    • Dean Moriarty, a main character in Jack Kerouac’s book ‘On the Road’, did have a number of issues going on, but he had a passion and genuine desire to embrace life
  • The one common characteristic of all the people I really admire is that they are all simply enthusiastic
  • They come from different cultures, cover a wide spectrum of monetary wealth, but their enthusiasm is so part of who they are, that you can’t help admiring it

Give me space, man

  • As complex and as powerful as the human mind is, we’re ‘driving’ it with limited abilities (Oh to tap into our full brain capacity…)
  • As a result, we’ve only got a limited bandwidth to utilize and therefore thoughts and ideas crowd out other thoughts and ideas
    • Polite suggestion: Avoid negativity because it is straight-up limiting your positivity
    • Any time spent criticizing our colleague, condemning a law, or complaining about our job, is automatically time lost that could have been used to do or say something positive (And we all know how little time we all have)

Practically speaking

  • Ask yourself, Am I enthusiastic enough? (If you answer yes, think harder(!) and make a conscious effort to replace negative thoughts/comments/ideas (however small) with positive ones; This is a powerful yet simple tip to jack up your enthusiasm and your life)
  • Study Dale Carnegie’s idea that enthusiasm is the little known secret of success (Especially if you feel you’re not being particularly successful at the moment)
  • Think about the most enthusiastic person you know and ring them up
  • Stop talking about all the things you want, and go out and get it

Two things (Here and now), one result (Peace)

Calm, assertive, and present

  • I’ve been watching the show ‘Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan on the National Geographic channel and can’t get enough of it
  • Cesar has an amazing ability to help people deal with all kinds of disobedient, distrustful, and at times, out of control dogs
  • But what really appeals to me about the show is how much of his approach applies to human beings (Each show opens with Cesar stating that he “rehabilitates dogs and trains humans”)

 

    • Cesar is all about living in the now
      • Feeling sorry for an abused or injured dog does not actually help the dog in any way and in fact brings forth negative behavior and emotions in the dog
    • Cesar consistently talks about maintaining a ‘calm-assertive’ state
      • Dogs read and respond to the energy of both other dogs and humans
      • Virtually all dogs (from fierce Rottweilers to fierce Chihuahuas) will obey a person that takes on the calm-assertive and dominant ‘pack leader’ role


A current reality

  • Far too many people are not living in the now (worrying about the past that cannot be changed and stressing about many unknowns in the future)
  • Not enough people take on a leadership role in their own life to maximize their abilities and passions (Many accept jobs, make choices, and even get involved in relationships based on the direction/persuasion of others, without seeking whether or not the decisions line up with their passion, values, purpose)
  • The good news is that this can be remedied by living in the now and taking on a progressive leadership role
    • This results in significant positive changes in a person’s life as well as a broad change to society as a whole when a critical mass of proactive (rather than reactive) people start really living out their lives as they’re meant to

 

Practically speaking

  • Live in the now
    • Easier said than done, but very empowering once you become good at it
    • Stop allowing things from your past (e.g. let go from your job, a contract lost to a competitor, death of a family member, etc) to negatively impact your future going forward
      • I firmly believe that we experience everything in life, both positive and negative, for a reason; And were meant to learn from each incidence and then move on
    • In the same way dogs need consistent training and attention, so do we
    • A conscious and consistent focus on living in the present will certainly bring about positive changes
      • If you’re a ‘worrier’ and you’re 40 years old, unfortunately you cannot just flip an internal switch to go from a ‘worried’ to a ‘peaceful’ state of mind (since you’ve been honing this ‘negative’ skill for years now and it’s a well ingrained habit)
      • Try this simple exercise the next time you feel stressed or under pressure
        • Write out everything that’s on your mind, breaking it down into sections, pieces, or parts
        • Then take a look at the different pieces and assess 2 things:
          • How important it really is
          • The level of control you have over this issue (Many people often stress over things that are not even in their control)
        • Of course some issues that cause worry are in fact serious; However, further breaking a particular issue down into parts makes is considerably easier to manage and work through (and often takes away some of the burden weighing you down); Its amazing how just downloading thoughts from your head to paper can be very therapeutic
  • Become a pack leader
    • Many people complain about their situation, especially when it comes to their job
      • This not only creates a negative energy within a person and also those around them (colleagues and family/friends)
    • Have a read of the Fast Company article ‘Your Boss is a Monkey’

 

      • Its an interesting look at how reactions reinforce behaviors (whether its your boss or your pet pit bull)
    • Take control; It’s your life, so start living it and stop just letting days slip by without excitement or passion (I can help with this; Talk to me!)
  • Be enthusiastic
    • Model yourself after the dog; A being that doesn’t dwell on the past and embraces every day with fresh enthusiasm, no matter what has happened to it in its past (In the Dog Whisperer, Cesar works with some dogs that had been severely neglected and abused in their past, but his energy and enthusiasm brings out the natural resilience of the dogs to embrace their future)
    • Dale Carnegie called enthusiasm the little-known secret of success
      • Virtually everyone wants to be successful (in whatever way they define success, whether they admit it or not)
      • Going after everything in your life (professionally and personally) with an elevated level of enthusiasm won’t guarantee success, but it definitely enhances your chances
    • I love the challenge of helping ‘neutral’ people become enthusiastic people; It’s the most amazing transformation because they actually become a new person living in a new world… Living in a now world! (I’ve worked with people who have made radical career changes, started companies, and finally followed their passion for something they weren’t encouraged to do; Seeing a person stop (what they’re doing), commit (to change), and act (on a exciting and rewarding new life) is incredible)
  • Enhance your rapport
    • Regardless of what you do (whether you’re a CEO or a mountain-dwelling lumberjack in the midst of writing a book), the ability to create good rapport with people is critical to successful living
      • It helps make the sale, but it also makes life considerably more interesting (We can only enjoy our own company for so long…)
    • Check out the lifehack.com article ‘How to Improve Your Rapport Development’
      • A great article with easy-to-implement and straight forward tips on strengthening your rapport with people
      • Pay particular attention to the sixth point ‘Let them talk about themselves’
        • This is to me the key to good people skills; If you only do one thing in life, listen, and then see how interesting life gets!

In search of the passionate (wo)man

Not-so-new thinking

  • I love the term revolutionary thinking
  • I’d like to think I coined the term, but alas, I’m too young since revolutionary thinking has been going on since the days of DaVinci and earlier
  • In the simplest sense, revolutionary thinking involves:
    • Challenging the status quo
    • Breaking free from conventional thinking
  • Revolutionary thinking, whether from great minds or the more intellectually challenged, has over time brought about many great inventions, changes, and advances in the human race
  • But even if you’re not the next DaVinci, throwing a bit of ‘revolution’ into your thinking can significantly enhance your life and the life of those around you (the ripple effect I’ve referred to before)
  • Yet the inspirational revolutionary thinking is quite rare today and I’m uncertain as to why, since its this type of thinking produces such vibrancy and light in the world
  • There is such a shortage of people today who step out and question how things are done and the corporate environment rarely does much to promote and encourage revolutionary thinking from its people

We’ve got a problem here…

  • Typical hesitations found when it comes to challenging the status quo and thinking unconventionally are:
    • My ideas will be shot down or seen as strange
    • I don’t have time for that
    • I’ve tried and had no response
    • I’m not creative
    • The fear of failure
  • Everyone’s circumstances are unique and some hesitations are legitimate and ‘acceptable’ at times, but come on… where has the spirit of living gone?!
  • Humans by design are built to interact, motivate, and inspire one another; So why does the rather selfless desire to motivate and inspire others often slip to the back burner while self-preservation and control remain at the forefront?
  • I participated at an event a few months ago where in a personal development exercise a number of participants approached me with tears in their eyes because they were unable to come up with any real response to the question “What excites you?”
    • The fact that they were seriously disturbed about not being able to find anything that actually excites them, leads me to believe that the desire for passion and the true spirit of living hasn’t disappeared altogether, but has slowly dropped in the priority list of life

Craving for two

  • I believe that to be human is to seek (and often crave) two things:
    • Acceptance
      • Primarily from other humans (thus the innate need to interact with others)
    • Excitement
      • Which comes in many forms, but most humans really love both engaging activities (from sky diving to backgammon) and opportunities to engage and stimulate their fellow man
  • If my belief is true that acceptance and excitement are two fundamental elements of human nature, why do so many of us:
    • Limit our exposure to other humans (e.g. choose to stay in and watch a movie rather than go to a cultural or social event or choose to chat online rather than meet someone for coffee)?
    • Fail to regularly seek new and stimulating opportunities (e.g. try out a new sport or join a new social group)?
  • These behaviors directly reduce the opportunities to both receive additional positive acceptance and get excited about new and interesting activities and opportunities
  • The wonderfully bright light in this whole situation is watching people break through and re-grasp their spirit of life
    • I’ve worked with a number of people both individually and in a group settings where although there may be some initial resistance and excuses, the combination of a little gentle persuasion combined with the envisioning of a grander and richer life, fires them up and helps them break free from their own chains (some heavy with large balls attached)
    • This, my friends, is what I live for!
    • Seeing this breakthrough in people (especially the stubborn ones!) fires me up more than anything else; And the wonderful part of it is that although many of us humans resist and make excuses and cuddle up to our own soft and cozy comfort zones, it really doesn’t take that much for people to get a glimpse of the light, and then actively pursue it
    • And then you get that fine snowball effect that continues to build momentum in the person and propels them to the point where they look back and say, “Wow! Why did I wait so long?”

Practically speaking

  • All is definitely not lost (regardless of your age) and I have a practical, easy-to-use, fun, and powerful tool to significantly enhance your levels of acceptance and excitement (ramp these up and you’ll be on fire)
  • I use this tool with virtually every client and those that embrace it (those that truly dig in and make it a fundamental part of their lives) draw substantially elevated levels of acceptance and excitement into their lives

 

  • The tool is visioning and its used extensively by successful people (both consciously and subconsciously) and is a core component in The Secret (Although The Secret doesn’t put enough emphasis on taking action on what you’ve envisioned)
  • Visioning to me is the secret formula to living a fantastic life (Not everyone aspires to live a ‘fantastic’ life, but its my feeling that if you don’t, you’re selling yourself short as well as those close to you because you’re not living up to your job as a human in the departments of acceptance and excitement; Freely giving and receiving both)
  • Anyone can (and many will) live their lives by just accepting what comes to them day-to-day, but it is those that recognize the power in identifying and then proactively going after their perfect life that will reap the acceptance and excitement that most of us crave
  • So which path will you take? The easy one or the incredibly fulfilling one?
  • If you want to explore and achieve your own incredibly fulfilling life (professionally and/or personally), I can definitely help you get there; And the bonus is that its an amazingly fun journey along the way
  • Take the step now, before its too late and you’re sitting in your rocking chair on the porch regretting that you didn’t seek out more acceptance and excitement when you were a little more spry
  • Note Its actually never too late…

The challenge

The question

  • I love asking questions and am incessantly curious about people, their behaviors, and life in general
  • One of my favorite questions right now is “What is your biggest challenge?”
    • I can’t take credit for the question though and was introduced to it through BNI
    • The question is often posed by BNI members to business owners to provoke thinking around what their current challenges are
    • An obvious challenge for many business owners is how to find more clients; And BNI is a unique and effective vehicle to substantially boost revenues through referral marketing
  • Part of the reason I like the question is because you can ask it to anyone (your colleague, your spouse, your potential client, your child, etc)

Professionally speaking

  • Professionally, I use it with coaching clients and potential clients to understand (and often help them understand for themselves) where they should focus their attention; The question can help people prioritize and remove the cloud of frustration and feeling of being overwhelmed
  • Any successful business person should constantly be assessing their challenges; If they aren’t, then they are likely gradually losing business to their competitors (I firmly believe that successful organizations and leaders are those that continue to innovate and seek to offer more to their customers or clients (and not simply resting on their laurels or dominant market position)

Talking personally

  • In your personal life, the question “What is your biggest challenge?” can be used as an opportunity to build rapport and develop a relationship with someone, whether it be a close family member or new friend
  • Posing the question shows interest in that person and a willingness to help them grow, discover, plan, collaborate, work together, among other things
  • People so often just want to be heard, and giving them this opportunity by asking the question can often get them on the road to greater happiness and fulfillment

Caveat (of course)

  • The only caveat is that you’ve got to be genuine in your asking as well as sincere in how you listen to their response; If you don’t do this, you’ve negated the value of the question
    • I find the lack of sincerity in conversations today rather amazing; especially since it significantly weakens your position, power, and influence in conversation; The dominant slick-talker approach only works for so long!

Undertake action (The best solution to your biggest challenge)

  • Below are a few responses to the question “What is your biggest challenge?”, what the response might illuminate about the situation, and some positive action that can be undertaken
    • Response “I don’t have enough clients.”
      • Illumination You’re wasting your time with ineffective marketing methods or you’re not capitalizing more on referrals from existing clients
      • Action Research what is working for your competitors and then get creative and make yourself unique; Get out and talk to your potential clients by going to where they congregate and ask what their challenges are and make sure what you offer is in line with that they’re looking for
    • Response “I’m finding it very hard to stimulate myself at work.”
      • Illumination It’s time to make a career change or seek new projects and/or responsibilities in your current role
      • Action Assess (yourself or with help of someone else) whether you’re just in need of something new in your existing position or whether you actually need to make a career shift into something you’re passionate about, or speak to your boss about ideas you’ve got on a new project or the potential for a move within the company
    • Response “I really struggle to get out of bed in the morning.”
      • Illumination There are a number of personal and professional weights on your shoulders and they are significant enough to overwhelm you, or you need to pursue something new and stimulating (new career, 3 month trip abroad, new hobby/project, etc)
      • Action Brainstorm (with your spouse, colleague, friend, coach) some ideas around making a career change, or take a day off and go to the beach to just chill out and reflect
    • Response “I can’t seem to motivate my team to perform better and our numbers are really down.”
      • Illumination Your methods of motivation are out-dated or ineffective due to recent organizational changes, or your lack of management experience is obvious and you’re not gaining the respect of your people
      • Action Seek guidance from within (another manager) or from outside (take some training or hire a coach), or have one-on-one meetings with your team to find out what motivates each of them and how you can help them succeed in their role, or do some reading on new techniques and tools used by successful leaders
    • Response “Gee, I don’t really know…”
      • Illumination Although a fairly common response, this response is actually a concern; Ironically, the person that answers this way likely doesn’t feel there is anything wrong (because they can’t nail it down), however their response is a good indication of a lack of focus, passion, purpose, etc (or all of the above); Many people go through life just coasting and taking what comes at them, but these people generally aren’t ones that have rich and fulfilling lives; Successful people have a good understanding of where their fulfillment is coming from as well as the areas they need to address
      • Action Spend time reflecting on your life, writing down areas that you’re very happy with and areas where you’d like to see improvement, or talk to people that you inspire you or that you look up to and ask them for their secrets of success and happiness

The beauty of it all

  • The question “What is your biggest challenge?” can bring to the surface something that a person is already aware of, but hasn’t been willing to address; The question can also act as a trigger for change
  • Often, simply giving a person the opportunity to talk and/or get something off their chest is enough to get clarity on their challenge(s), initiate action, and then make positive change
  • The more I work with individual clients and groups on ways to become more successful (both professionally and personally), the more I firmly believe that success in life is all about (and simply about) taking action
    • Action through forward movement is fantastic because it:
      • Builds momentum and enthusiasm within a person
      • Provokes creative ideas
      • Positively influences others to collaborate or take action in their own lives
      • Breaks people free from a rut or a state of feeling sorry for themselves
    • And often all people need is a glimpse of that light at the end of the tunnel to get themselves moving again and excited about life; then before long they’re looking back saying, “Wow, why did I wait so long…”

Practically speaking

  • I’ll make it easy on you today proposing you do just one thing
    • Think of someone you know and care enough about to have an interest in their success and ask them the question “What is your biggest challenge?”
    • (And be sure to listen to their response!)

W.I.I.F.M.

“What’s in it for me?”

  • I’m definitely not a fan of acronyms, but I love this question!
    • Partly because pondering it can help you better understand other people and what they are looking for, as well as the fact that its asked by most people on a daily basis in their subconscious mind

Don’t ask, don’t sell

  • The WIIFM question should be the default question explored every day by marketers, entrepreneurs, large corporations, and virtually everyone who interacts with other human beings
  • Its not complicated; Its just a matter of hearing your own message, pitch, or comment using your audience’s ears and determining if you are clearly defining what they will get out of it (i.e. a better quality product (even if the price is higher), more clients, a firmer butt, more time/less work, etc)
  • The question proves very effective if you market your products or services in such a way that not only appeals to a person’s interests, but actually addresses a person’s pain (Upon hearing your pitch, it ‘hits them in the stomach’ and they don’t think twice about buying from you because they desperately need whatever you’re offering)
  • However, the power of this question is frequently overlooked by many business people (and even those that have been introduced to the concept continue to ignore its value)

Experience, please

  • I’ve had a number of clients who came to me when they were fresh out of their professional training and excited to start their own business, however had little or no business or marketing experience
    • Some common initial marketing missteps were to make their marketing verbiage too wordy, too broad, and too ‘professional’ (not spoken or written in words a lay person can understand)
    • Easy mistakes to make, yes, but costly and frustrating at the same time
  • The WIIFM question becomes even more important in today’s culture where everyone is inundated with literally thousands of marketing messages a day and this information overload means that people rarely have an attention span that lasts longer than 30 seconds
  • In addition, today’s western culture unfortunately permits itself a level of selfishness and sense of entitlement that most would argue didn’t exist to this degree 15 years ago; All the more reason the WIIFM question must be explored
  • Nevertheless, cultures evolve (both positively and negatively) and the successful are those who can adapt most effectively

People are it, man

  • In leadership training programs I facilitate (a combination of group workshops and one-on-one coaching), the underlying theme, regardless of the workshop topic (be it time management, mentoring, communication, motivation, etc) is always people
    • This makes sense since virtually any business and group (from big multi-national banks to your local book club) is built around people
    • Understanding people and their desires and needs is key to success in business, as well as in relationships, happiness, development, progress, etc

Emotional resonance

  • To ask yourself the WIIFM question on behalf of your client or friend or stranger promotes a sense of empathy within you
  • The phrase ‘Walk a mile in their shoes’ is simple, yet nearly perfectly defines empathy in action
  • Another question that I love and use regularly is “What are your challenges?”
    • It builds rapport, shows you actually care, and opens a dialogue that can take a relationship to another level, professional or personal
  • To me, life becomes infinitely more interesting when you allow yourself to shift perspectives, to permit yourself some leeway in letting the ideas of others (the more preposterous the better; talk to me about this if you don’t agree) invade our ‘selfish’ minds and possibly throw us from our well-entrenched perspective for a moment; From this often comes the spark of genius and the spark that draws something out from your brilliant mind

Note

  • There are detractors to the WIIFM approach (saying it can make people cynical or question the persuader’s motives), however maintaining sincerity when seeking to see things from the other person’s perspective will ensure you remain genuine in serving others



Practically speaking

  1. Slow yourself down (A skill I’m still very much working on, but buy into it more and more)
    • Schedule ‘me’ time and schedule ‘client time’
    • Don’t rush to appointments
    • Listen, really listen, to your clients (and your staff’s) complaints, desires, and dreams (And then when they stop talking, ask them more questions!)
    • Build a suggestion box and take the time to work it
    • Read (books, magazines, industry blogs, newspapers, your daughter’s favorite books)
    • Take more walks (without an iPod)
    • Light more candles
    • Meditate (even if its just an informal audio-free, dim lights, quiet sit at home or in the office)

  1. Narrow your focus
    • Reflect on a relationship with one person (Family member, best client, friend, etc)
      • Reminisce about your relationship with them (Both good times and challenges (positive and negative))
      • Then schedule time with them
        • By phone or in person
          • Go deeper than small talk (Dreams, goals, visions, challenges, victories, etc)

  1. Practice
    • Like anything new, it takes practice to become proficient at this, so don’t give up if the approach doesn’t come easy to you at first

For _____’s sake, Believe!

Religiosity

  • I was just in Orlando, Florida for a bit of a holiday but also went to a great event called Promise Keepers
  • This was my third time attending this event and it was definitely the best of the three (I didn’t attend the ‘Stand in the Gap’ event in Washington, DC in 1997 where one million men gathered on the National Mall; Which I’m sure was incredible)

  • Now before I go on, I’m going to make an effort (albeit small) to lay a bit of groundwork around the topic of religion
    • I am a Christian with a strong faith in God that underlies all that I do
    • That being said, I fully respect and honor the beliefs of others and am often inspired and encouraged by the beliefs of others
    • ‘Religion’ to me however is basically a set of rules (do’s and don’ts) that I really don’t subscribe to anyway
    • My faith is in God and I take my strength from him and him only (I shy away from religion legalism), however the best part of this faith is the incredible inspiration and strength and power that comes from believing

About that passion

  • Now back to Promise Keepers; This is the 17th year of the event held in multiple American and Canadian cities each summer
  • It is a combination of powerful speakers and uplifting music over a 2-day period that seeks to ignite and unite men to become passionate followers of Jesus Christ through the effective communication of seven promises to God, their fellow men, family, church, and the world
  • Now before you cringe at the name Jesus Christ or close this window, hear me out; Although this event is a Christian event and all about serving God, its just as much about passionately living up to your role as a man and serving your wife, your children, your family, your colleagues, your staff, and everyone else you come into contact within your every day life
  • I would recommend this event to anyone with or without religious affiliation, because its underlying message is about believing and then embracing those beliefs, regardless of your religious background
  • So believe what you would like (honestly, I’m not going to preach to you), but believe in something – seriously!
  • Through my coaching business I see an astonishing number of men and women who are simply coasting along in life and without any real passion; They get bursts of interest here and there, but they are basically just taking life as it comes at them
  • I’m not criticizing this approach to life, but I am asking the question, “Are you content to just let life happen to you?!”
  • Now many people will shrug and say ‘yes’ and give some weak reasons as to why their life is fulfilling enough, but you don’t see passion in their eyes or hear passion in their voice
  • I love management guru Tom Peters (see youtube.com for a clip from a presentation on passion) because he provides great insight and is very much to the point; The majority of his work is about business, but a great deal of it can definitely be applied to our personal lives as well; After listening to him I come away inspired to embrace my beliefs (and/or rethink some of them), but regardless, I am energized to lead a rich life

Warrior accountability

  • I came away from Promise Keepers with a renewed passion for my life, both professionally and personally, with the simple vision of embracing and serving others to be the best they can be
  • One of the speakers at this years event was the comedian Brad Stine who was seriously funny and engaging and talked on the topic of political correctness as well as the ‘wussification’ of America
    • Men are meant to be warriors, but also meant to make mistakes and learn from these mistakes (something I am preaching all the time!)
    • Don’t give in to society’s pressures and persuasions; Resist the desire to be politically correct and embrace the things we now distract us from a life of passion and love

  • Dan Seaborn was the final speaker at the event and his message revolved around marriage and how the candle of our relationships is constantly at risk of being snuffed out
    • To the 7,000 men in attendance he stated it was the man’s responsibility to resist society’s external and abundant negative forces and live passionately for that relationship
    • Both Dan and Joseph Garlington emphasized the need for accountability in each of our lives to help us stay on course and in line with our values; They suggested building accountability into a relationship with another man who is non-judgmental, a good listener, has a good sense of humor and will support you during difficult times (Accountability is fundamental to coaching and even the best of us experience times of difficulty, doubt, and distraction, among other things, where that trusted accountability partner can step in and help us stay the course and embrace our beliefs)
  • Now some fellow coaches may be somewhat critical of my comments here stating that talking about such personal issues (love, passion, and marriage, etc) isn’t professional
  • But I’m sure most would agree that if we (man or woman) suffer as a result of a weak relationship or lack of passion, we’re not going to be performing at our best (either professionally or personally), and that dismissing or diminishing these ‘personal’ issues is not the best approach to ensure we live our best life possible

Practically speaking

  • Embrace your beliefs – whatever they are
  • If you got none (intentional slang), get some and start embracing them; You might just be amazed at how it changes your life for the better (More clarity, purpose, passion, life, and so many other positive things)
  • As an individual, I have been transformed significantly (especially over the past few years), and this is largely due to embracing passion in 3 areas of my life
    • My coaching career (an incredibly rewarding job due to its direct positive impact on people),
    • My faith (having something to believe in and embracing those beliefs wholeheartedly), and
    • My relationship (being an active participant in a partnership that is so rich with love, encouragement, and a common and passionate desire to serve others)
  • The result of these things has made me more passionate than ever and the desire to serve others selflessly is so incredibly more powerful than anything else I’ve experienced to date
  • Tip: Try serving others before yourself; Its phenomenally more rewarding

Outta my way!

Simple success

  • I like to think of myself as getting smarter each day, but as this grand intelligence amasses in my head, I find that success usually comes from keeping things simple
  • Successful people simply do things well (and don’t often complicate things)
    • Mother Teresa impacted and influenced many others with her straightforward approach of providing amazing compassion for the ill and dying
    • Richard Branson’s Virgin Group has become very successful by simply focusing on an improved customer experience with their products and services
  • Whether professionally or personally, many truly successful people become leaders because they treat others with respect, look for the positive in people, and simply listen


No no, let’s talk about you

  • I took the Dale Carnegie Course (the flagship course of the Dale Carnegie Training organization) in 2004
    • Dale Carnegie wrote the famous book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” which was a New York Times bestseller for 10 years
      • The book takes a somewhat different approach to self-improvement with a focus on pleasing others rather than focusing on one’s self
    • I loved the course because it is full of simple yet powerful principles on how to not only be a better person, but also how to be a better leader (professionally and personally)
    • His first principle is: Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain.
      • Quite simple at first glance, but one I’m still working to perfect
    • A couple of his leadership principles are: Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to, and Ask questions instead of giving orders.
      • Again simple (and often a contrary approach to leadership today), yet effective through the empowerment of others
    • One of my favorite principles is: Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
      • I love this principle because it is so utterly simple but true, and yet superbly powerful since it immediately garners respect

  • I belong to a BNI chapter (BNI Sterling) here in Vancouver
    • BNI started in California over 20 years ago and has created a very successful recipe for word-of-mouth referral marketing
    • The BNI philosophy is ‘givers gain’ which is closely linked to the idea of ‘what goes around comes around’
    • Within BNI, the more that you refer business to your fellow chapter members, the more they will refer business to you
      • A nice concept, especially given the fact that the focus comes off of you and shifts to the promotion and encouragement of others


Practically speaking

  • So in keeping with the theme of simplicity, my practical suggestion here is very simple to both do and repeat (The easier the action is to perform and repeat, the more likely you’ll actually do it, and not complain about being too tired or too busy)
  • And always make sure your goals are of the smart variety as they become considerably more effective
    • S.M.A.R.T. goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely)
  • So here’s my suggested goal:
    • Go out of your way once a day to:
      • Compliment (someone’s new haircut)
      • Appreciate (the work of the cleaning staff in your office)
      • Honor (your parents for your wonderful upbringing)
      • Sing praises (of your daughter’s piano playing)
      • Acknowledge (the great work of a colleague)
      • Love (your best friend)
      • Smile (at an unsmiling person at the train station)
  • Do this once a day and it will quickly become a habit and you’ll become known as a lavisher of praise
    • And the ripple effect (which I often go on about) will ultimately have you positively impacting hundreds, if not thousands, of people around you (You may be amazed at how smiling at a stranger can brighten someone’s day)
    • So what is the cost for all this fantasticly positive impact you might ask
      • Well it can be as little as 10 seconds a day (It doesn’t take a lot of time to compliment someone)
        • And 10 seconds a day works out to a mere 60 minutes for a full year
        • A very tiny commitment given that there are 525,600 minutes in a year
  • So, get outta your own way and start impacting thousands of people by committing to 10 seconds of positivity a day
  • Could it be any simpler?

Virgins, idolatry, and big ones

Yes, sir

  • Richard Branson’s name has come up a lot recently in discussions with clients and friends
  • Most people know Sir Richard as the founder of the British company Virgin (Virgin Atlantic Airways, Virgin Mobile, Virgin Trains, etc)
  • He is one of the few people I idolize; Ok, well idolatry may be pushing it a bit, but he’s definitely a person I respect for his business acumen, creativity, and especially his zest for life

Thinking grandly

  • A number of clients come to me to help them enact a career change, but then ultimately end up exploring and pursuing ideas for a business (A reason why career and business coaching are a good fit with each other)
  • In exploring potential business ideas, clients however often get stuck (at first at least) in thinking and brainstorming of the wide-open and unlimited variety
  • This is partly a result of the fact that we’re not often afforded opportunities in school or our jobs to think without limits, without restrictions, and without boundaries (In addition to not often having much opportunity to think like this, it is even more rarely encouraged of us; Many companies and people unfortunately like ideas and processes to be manageable, and based on precedence and existing models, not often on free thinking)
  • Once we overcome the initial obstacles associated with truly free thinking and dreaming, it is very liberating to dream at our maximum ability and then create opportunities for new experiences, new careers, and new lives
  • Many people (clients and others) tell me that they’d really like to start their own business and work for themselves, but then get stuck at that point because they often feel that they’re not creative or smart enough to come up with a great new idea that the world is in need of

Fly boys

  • The Wright brothers were pretty creative with their airplane idea and it ultimately revolutionized travel as well as global trade
  • But without inventing anything new or even particularly revolutionary, Richard Branson has experienced huge successes with his numerous Virgin-branded companies
    • In each of the industries he enters, Branson has simply offered customers more value than the established incumbents (His often brash and flamboyant antics do certainly help draw media attention to the company hes promoting)
      • With Virgin Atlantic Airways, Branson simply put himself in an airline passenger’s shoes to see how their air travel experience could be made more comfortable and enjoyable
      • British Airways had a virtual monopoly on British air travel until the early 90s and their service to customers was mediocre and very much monopoly-like (more focused on their bottom line than offering any decent value to their customers)
    • Virgin is well known as a customer-centric organization focused on innovation that offers more to their customers (Virgin Atlantic: Superior seating and transfer options (Motorcycle transportation to and from the airport making navigation through London’s dense traffic); Virgin Mobile: Simpler pricing structures, etc)
    • The company takes the time to understand experiences and challenges of its customers and then often brilliantly translates those challenges into services, products, and enhancements; Something still lacking in many industries today (Business opportunity, anyone?!)

Practically speaking

  • Allow yourself to dream, truly dream (forget about your current responsibilities, limitations, etc)
  • Reflect on what you love doing, what you’re passionate about, and what really lights you up
  • And then look at ways to use your skills/abilities/passions to enhance your life and career as well as make something better for others
  • And if you’ve got a great business idea, don’t worry if you’re not an expert in certain areas
    • Remember that experts (accountants, sales people, strategists, etc) can always be hired
      • Although Richard Branson navigated a hot air balloon across the Pacific Ocean in 1991 breaking all existing records at the time, he leaves the flying of Virgin Atlantic jets to his pilots
  • Even if you’re not interested in starting your own business or creating the next Virgin Group, make it a habit to think different, to think broader, and to think grander; Its good for all of us
    • You first might just surprise yourself in what your little brain can come up with, but you might just also have fun; Which isnt such a bad idea


  • This blog is dedicated to an awesome friend of mine who has taught me a great deal about thinking grandly and dreaming; She has an fantastic love for God, life, and everything in it; Being truly authentic comes naturally to her, as does seeing the good in all things, which is especially refreshing


Get outside!

  • I’m always intrigued by the variety of responses when I talk to people about social and networking events
  • Some people wrinkle their face into a grimace, while others find them useful tools to attract new business (Although some of the face-wrinklers have never actually attended an event; Kind of like those Vancouverites that praise their city as the best city in Canada (and sometimes the world), yet have never been to Ontario!)
  • While others like myself, enjoy them as a cool way to meet new people
  • I think I’m developing a mild addiction to these events however, as I’m constantly trying to feed my craving by seeking out new and interesting ones
  • OK, that may be somewhat of an exaggeration, but I do truly love the opportunity to get into a good conversation with a genuinely interesting and engaging individual
  • I love experiencing the flavor of different people and am definitely putty in the hands of a foreigner that goes on about their culture and traditions and passions (and its not just the foreign accent!)
  • Last Thursday I went to the Vancouver Minglers event at the Diavolo Restaurant
  • Corina Taylor from CBC Television was there filming for the CBC show ‘Living Vancouver
    • I think the show is a great idea as it helps create an awareness for the diverse range of activities, events, and things to do in and around the city
  • I find people often complain that there isn’t enough going on in Vancouver, however its really just a matter of knowing where to find things
  • I do have an issue with the North American obsession (and I use that word loosely) with the television
    • I can’t help but notice lately the ambient glow of the television in so many homes and condos when out at night
    • Our TVs are also getting bigger and bigger (albeit they are very nice to watch)
    • But I’m finding that many people are succumbing to the draw of the almighty TV too easily
    • I’ve heard the arguments defending the obsession stating that many people need that time in front of the TV to just unwind after a long day of work
    • And I can almost sympathize with that point of view (as I have experienced the pleasure of falling into a plush sofa and watching some mind-numbing comedy), however my concern is that there is a deeper problem
      • Should we really be in such dire need to unwind at the end of the work day?
      • Are our jobs sucking that much out of us that we have nothing left at the end of the day but the desire to sit and tune out the rest of the world (rather than socializing with family and/or friends)?
      • I acknowledge that this is a generalization but there is definitely a desocialization trend underway, especially as the youth gravitate more and more towards instant messaging programs and video games, while shifting away from valuable human emotion-based interaction
    • When it comes to pleasure and the true enjoyment of life, I tend to side with the southern Europeans
      • They recognize and embrace the value of genuine interaction with family and friends; Their careers are important, but don’t often take precedence over what is truly important to them
    • Even the British, with their local pubs as meeting places for friends and neighbors, have got an understanding of what it means to interact; Plus, their TVs are smaller and have a fraction of the channels we have here; Maybe they’re onto something…


Practically speaking

  • Don’t take your job so seriously(!) and appreciate your city and your people a little more than you currently do
  • Try out some social, networking, or sports organizations
  • Become a regular reader of the West Ender and the Georgia Straight (The print versions are currently better than the online versions for upcoming events); Or Eye Weekly in Toronto, or Time Out for cities around the world
  • Get outside; And you might just have some fun, get inspired, make some new friends, and get a fresh perspective on life
  • One of my favorite aspects of coaching is simply seeing the sparkle in a client’s eye or their momentary pause as they suddenly look at their life and their potential from a different perspective and actually open themselves up to all the possibilities available just waiting for them to embrace
  • And next time you’re heading out for a meal, why not skip the chain restaurant and try a new place (preferably independent); Experience something a little different while encouraging creativity and culture and diversity; Something that’s good for all of us
  • So set the TiVo, or better yet, skip the show all together, and get outside and meet some new people!

The scandalous disappearance

Where did you go?

  • Its already the end of December and almost 2007
  • Nearly 7 years have already passed since the big millennium New Years Eve in 1999
  • Incredibly, its been over 20 years since the 80s, that pioneering period that brought us icons like the Rubik’s Cube, the Swatch watch, Pac-Man, CNN, and Hypercolor t-shirts
  • Time, one of our most precious commodities, seems to continue to accelerate each day and often has us wondering where our life has gone


Success, yes please

  • Who doesn’t like success?
    • Whether it be recognition (author of a life-changing book), huge wealth (Warren Buffett-style), respect, an opportunity to impact others (Wouldn’t coaching the next Wayne Gretzky be cool?!), honor, genuine happiness (raising 3 wonderful children); Most everyone wants more of what they like
  • Success and time are inter-related
  • There are very few people out there who think they have enough time to do everything they want
  • So maximize your limited time and in turn reward yourself with success
  • It’s the time of year again for the dreaded, sometimes loved, but often abandoned New Years resolutions
  • Ignoring the few that simply get lucky, its most often the people who embrace resolutions, goals, dreams, and visions that are the ones who become most successful


Practically speaking

  • We will always yearn for more time so don’t allow yourself to get to the point when you’re in your 70s and sitting on your front porch in your rocking chair reflecting on your life and recounting all the things you would have liked to have done
  • Rather than complain that we can never get everything done, embrace the time you have and maximize it, as it will empower you and others to lead richer lives (jump out of bed in the morning, write the book you’ve always wanted to, start the business you’ve always dreamed of)
  • Discover how you personally best use your time; Is it implementing schedules and rewards because you flourish under structure; Or working late at night because you’re most focused when its quiet; Or devoting some free time to a charity organization because that energizes you more than anything else
  • Discover how you work best and build it into your subconscious by creating positive habits through repetition
  • My challenge to you
    • Use this dawn of a new year as an opportunity for a fresh start
    • Identify 3 things that you would say you’ve “put off for too long now” (e.g. painting the house, writing a book, finishing your business plan, cutting your hair, etc)
    • Pick one and commit to doing it
    • Reinforce it and hold yourself accountable by
      • Committing to your partner, spouse, child, or a coach
      • Writing a short newspaper article about your success after completing this one thing
        • What were the benefits?
        • Who did it impact?
        • How did you feel when you finished it?
        • What are you now inspired to do?
    • And then tell me about it; Send me an email telling me what the one thing is, when you’re going to do it (and your goal to finish it), and/or how it felt to actually finish it (triumph, drain, inspiration, etc)
  • People like to be good at things and reap the benefits and rewards of success
  • Don’t just be mediocre in your life; Make 2007 your year of incredible success and happiness; The year you look back on when you’re in your 70s sitting in that rocking chair and say “Wow, 2007 was the year my life really began!

Smile, you’re in public

The good and the bad in the day-to-day

  • Yesterday when walking with a friend downtown, she commented on how few people in this fair city actually make eye contact with one another (which was nothing new to me)
  • And given that today is Halloween, Id imagine that many peoples eyes will wander more than normal because of the protection that a mask gives them!
  • A few months back there was a great article by Steven Schelling in the 29 June 06 edition of the West Ender paper called “Um, we need to talk…” that provided a humorous but also fairly accurate summary of the ‘issue’ that Vancouver currently faces
  • The article was written as if the author was speaking to Vancouver as a person and basically said that it (the city) needs to get over itself and its unsocial ways (mentioning how people from notoriously cold cities like New York, Paris, and Los Angeles have commented on how unfriendly Vancouver is)
  • The author goes on to explicitly suggest that people step out of their comfort zone and make an effort to talk to people around you
  • I recognize that this is a broad generalization and I do meet people in Vancouver who are very friendly and do make an effort to step away from their social clique and welcome others in
  • There are surely places that are in a worse state than Vancouver as well as some that are ‘happier’ (see Bhutan and Gross National Happiness), but would like to think that the world is moving in a positive direction
  • You may have seen the “Free Hugs Campaign” video on YouTube recently which has received largely very positive reviews and its effectively causing people to stop and reflect on the importance of actually being human
  • Now Im not a softie either, but life does flows better when people interact positively (And Im not just talking about tree hugging hippie types); Businesses and corporations and governments and non-profits and corner stores all operate and serve more effectively (hopefully working toward a common good (although that’s another story!)) if people make the effort to actually work together instead of shunning, criticizing, and complaining


Practically speaking

  • Simple two step process
    • Step back and truly appreciate all that you have (especially us Westerners)
    • Take a moment to regularly smile, say hi, help out, compliment, appreciate, encourage, listen, and anything else that might now seem foreign to you in your busy daily life

Having relations

  • I had lunch with a Russian friend recently and I very much enjoy time with him
  • He’s a great guy with a no-nonsense but jovial perspective and often challenges me, which I always like
  • He is very blunt and says it like it is which is refreshing as its entirely genuine and there are never any misunderstandings
  • I love hanging out with foreigners, especially ones that aren’t masters of the English language
  • Unlike their North American counterparts who have been known to manipulate the language by adding superfluous words, these non-English speakers always get right to the point, partly because their vocabulary can be somewhat limited, but also because they often don’t share the desire to convolute ideas
  • Life is entirely about people and relationships; Without them, dogs are friendly enough, but the conversations start to get a bit dull; And trees are good for shade, but most of us tend to tire of raking leaves after a few seasons
  • I often hear people say they are religious or spiritual but they just don’t feel the need to go to a church or an organized place of religion
  • One of the top reasons I like to go to church is that churches on the whole attract good people
  • Of course there are those there who aren’t really walking-the-talk, but overall a church is a concentrated gathering of people with something in common: to lead a positive and supportive and caring lifestyle
  • Now who could argue with that?!
  • Now that isn’t to say that this is a replacement for your other sources of community (i.e. family, good friends, close colleagues), but its simply a complement
  • No one person is without difficult times (they come in all shapes and sizes) and absolutely everyone needs other people to support them at various times in their lives
  • Having good people in your corner is critical to lead a full life (but often forgotten when things are going smoothly)

Practically speaking

  • Surround yourself with good people and reach out to others that need help
  • Life is too short to live on your own and isolate others because of petty grudges and insignificant issues
  • Embrace others, whether it is your favorite aunt or your most detested colleague, they all have something to teach you
  • Give Dale Carnegie’s first principal a try: Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain
    • Simple enough in theory, but a full-time job to master
  • And smile more, you’ll make new friends – guaranteed

Baby faces

His Holiness

  • Last Friday I had the pleasure of seeing the Dalai Lama at the Vancouver Dialogues event at the Orpheum Theatre
  • I was initially intrigued by the man last year when I visited Dharamsala, India where he, the Tibetan government, and thousands of Tibetans have been exiled since 1959
  • While there I had the opportunity to meet a Tibetan monk who generously made us dinner, impressed us with his proficient use of a laptop computer, and awed us with the story of his risky and dangerous escape from Chinese rule in his own country (Thousands of Tibetans make the trek out of Tibet into northern India mostly by foot through the mountains in winter)
  • Despite the current circumstances, the Dalai Lama continues to brilliantly inspire his own people and millions of others around the world, Buddhist or otherwise, with his honest message of happiness and love

Smiling babies

  • I have a niece who is one year old and awesome and I can’t help smiling (often laughing) when I’m around her
  • I have always noticed how children share few of the pretenses and concerns of adults when it comes to socializing (they approach anyone) and appearances (they don’t care how they look), but this perception has now been magnified with my niece
  • At the Vancouver Dialogues session I attended, the Dalai Lama emphasized the importance of the bond between mother and child and nurturing this at an early age
  • Mary Gordon, President/Founder of Roots of Empathy, was part of a panel for the Vancouver Dialogues session I attended
  • She outlined how her organization puts infants into classrooms (from kindergarten to grade 8) to promote interaction with the students which has successfully reduced levels of aggression and violence while increasing empathy and compassion among the children
  • The importance of breeding a loving perspective towards others in the early stages in a child’s life is obvious, however it is never too late to become a better and more loving person

Practically speaking

  • Love and compassion can be expressed by everyone, regardless of their race, class, status, health and there are positive examples of this all around us (whether it be Mother Teresa or the humble servant at the local Salvation Army); There are always those with less than us that are doing more
  • Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, embrace and practice the Dalai Lama’s common sense wisdom of promoting happiness and compassion
  • Don’t get caught up thinking it takes too much effort to be compassionate and reach out to others
  • The simple act of treating others well (the way you’d like to be treated) can be clouded by stereotypes, perceived and established classes, religious denominations, and societal customs; A little love goes a long way
  • Look to children to remind you of the ease at which we should be accepting and loving towards others, regardless of who they are
  • These simple steps can be very powerful when one family, one church, one community, one city, one nation, and one world take the initiative to live, respect, love, and support those around them
  • And one of my favorites refreshment techniques (reinforced by my niece, but often overlooked and shunned by many), is to take an afternoon nap and enjoy the refreshment and clarity it can bring
  • Our friends in southern Europe have it right by taking mid-afternoon naps
  • Some might say things move slower and are less efficient in the south of Europe, and this may in fact be the case if you measure things monetarily; However their passion and love for family, friends, and celebrations are in my mind (and probably the Dalai Lama’s too) far superior to a focus on material wealth and ourselves

The texture of blueberries

Meditation and our miraculous minds

  • I just finished meditating, using a hybrid technique that combines my own method and the one I learned recently from Brian Ruhe, a former Buddhist monk
  • The mind is a truly wonderful and complex thing and I quite like mine, however my mind does seem to be in a high-speed mode most of the time
  • This is great as my mind is constantly generating new ideas (some even quite interesting), but it doesn’t seem to want to calm down and relax much
  • Which is interesting as I see myself as a fairly laid back person, however calming my mind sometimes seems to require the supernatural
  • Meditation works very well for me in this regard, although it did initially take a conscious effort to make time to actually do it
  • I often come out of meditation sessions in an fabulous ‘sensuous state’; Obviously difficult to describe in words, but a state where everything seems to have slowed down and thus you can’t help but appreciate everything around you (whether it be a beautiful sunrise over the mountains or the texture and character a single blueberry)
  • It is this state that is often overlooked and lost in our daily activities as we are regularly bombarded with images and feelings and a frantic pace

Recurring theme of a positive mental state

  • I get a lot of newsletters on coaching, self-help, marketing, and small business
  • The recurring theme from most is the importance of cultivating a positive mental state and its importance in achieving greater success
  • Far too many people focus far too little attention on this highly important component of their life (Many never even appreciate ‘down time’ and feel the need to always be busy)
  • Those who spend time regularly focusing on their mental state (it can get addictive!) and successfully infuse it with positivity will excel in what they do (both professionally and personally)
  • There are many books on positive thinking and this is because it is incredibly powerful how you can grow a business bigger than you ever believed or have amazingly loving and supportive relationships simply by ‘training’ your mind to be more positive


The habitual good news

  • Its not difficult to grab the big wheel and steer your mind to a course of true positivity
  • I love deep intellectually stimulating conversations, but I also know that its much easier to put into action things that are simple rather than things that are complex
  • The ‘habit’ is a powerful thing, yet relatively simple
  • Everyone has a combination of good and bad habits and they constantly influence their lives consciously and subconsciously
  • Most people have heard that it takes 21 days to form a habit
  • I believe it takes considerably less time and the cool part is in the progress along the way
  • It is easy to see the small increments of progress and its the progress itself that is encouraging and rewarding (whether it be running a little further than last time, starting to catch yourself as youre about to gossip passing on eating one more piece of chocolate, etc)
  • Making a habit out of consciously addressing and enhancing your subconscious mind is definitely powerful and relatively easy to do with some motivation and focus

Practically speaking

  • A few simple things (there are many more) you can do to begin empowering your mind are:
  • Meditate to relax and focus and dream (Attend classes or just make free time for yourself with no distractions and let your mind slow down and enjoy)
  • Make a list of your habits (Praise the positive and have them influence other areas of your life; Acknowledge the negative and look at ways to unlearn them)
  • Consciously slow yourself down and do things you love doing but don’t do enough (Make time to take a walk, have a bath, write a poem, play with your kids, etc); And during these times, appreciate all that is around you (e.g. the smell of the flowers, the peacefulness of the bath, the dancing shadows created by candles (one of my favorite), your child’s innocence, the breeze through the trees)
  • If youre interested in going deeper in this area and making significant positive changes to your life (that aren’t difficult to do), contact me to see how we can accelerate the positive together
  • Either way, the results will likely surprise you and youll probably laugh at how easy it is to not only be more positive, but see it actually impact your life

Who wants to start a revolution?

A 4 Non Blondes song and opportunities

  • I heard the song “What’s up?” by 4 Non Blondes again recently
  • I always find it interesting how I can listen to a song many times and know most of the words, yet suddenly the lyrics either take on new meaning or I hear something for the first time
  • I’ve always liked this song (and was surprised to hear that it made VH1’s listing for “Most Awesomely Bad Songs Ever”) and know most of the words, but the part that stuck out for me was the line “I pray every single day for a revolution
  • This line follows with the bits of frustration, angst, and uncertainty throughout the song, but also resonated with me when I look at the state of society today
  • I’m eternally optimistic (so will put a positive spin on this!) and see a huge potential in the world today for people, especially young people, to start a revolution and break free from the dampened status quo by standing for something positive and making a difference
  • Too many young people are just treading water in the stagnant pool of selfishness and discontent

Practically speaking

  • Your revolution doesn’t have to be grandiose, but the key is to actually starting one
  • I’m confident that once your revolution gets traction, it will have a snowball effect within you and you’ll crave more
  • Here are a few random ideas that barely scrape the surface in terms of potential revolutions:
    • Volunteer for a local charity, coach a sport, donate money to a community group, don’t accept ‘no’ for an answer (be creative), go beyond what is expected, speak to youth groups about their future, smile a lot (this is powerful!), start an organization that provides job search tools to the homeless, go out of your way to help someone in need (especially a stranger), etc

The beauty of it

  • The beauty of the situation is that society is already on your side
    • If you choose to grumble and gripe about your life and how you deserve more, there are plenty of people who will sympathize with you
    • However, society is more than ever is craving fresh ideas and initiatives to empower people and bolster positive change
      • Standing up for something that promotes positive vibes and goodwill will undoubtedly attract attention and support
  • The second route may be a little more work than just sitting back and complaining, but it is certainly more rewarding and rich
  • And who doesn’t want to experience reward and richness?


Instead of praying for a revolution, lets start one.

Fresh start

Good day!

Welcome to the Red Sky Coaching blog that will explore the infinitely fascinating world of human behavior. While humans can be bizarrely complex, they can also be intriguingly simple in their actions, yet nevertheless cloud their own thinking with negativity and waste which in turn hinders their own growth in passion.