We Are Our Choices – The Stories of Steve, Richard, and I

As I have discussed in my previous posts, reaching your potential is a long journey that will most likely last a lifetime. Your future is not necessarily in your control, but throughout each day we have the opportunity to shape it by the choices we make. At times you will be tested, self-doubt will creep in, and you will want to give up. In those moments believing in yourself is vital, but the next most important thing is the choices you make to continue to move forward.

Today, I want to share a personal story and examples from others on how much power you have at this very moment to make a choice that can alter your future for the good or the worse. 

Let me start by asking you this:

Do you ever wonder why some people in your group of friends in and outside of work seem to progress their life or career faster than you?

To be honest, it’s simple and truthfully outside of any external factors it has nothing to do with luck or fate. The answer lies in the choices they make.

Years ago, I was like most people. Waiting for others to help me reach my potential. I remember being at my first job out of college, sitting at my desk, waiting for the next 1-on-1 with my boss to get feedback or waiting for the leadership team to give me training. The classic line that every single experienced professional will tell you is “Be proactive, go talk to your boss. Ask if there is anything you can do more of”. We have all been there, sitting and waiting for someone to tell you how to get better.

One day, while I was waiting for my 1-on-1, I had this feeling like this moment had already played out so many times before. Now looking back, I realize of course it has. The feeling that I remembered was how I felt after a 1 on 1 with my boss or after training or doing what everyone tells me to do. I felt good, and at times I learned something. But I started to wonder: Is this the rest of my career, waiting for someone else to help me?

So I made a choice. Instead of waiting for my boss to give me training, or teach me something, I realized I must take ownership of my own development. If I couldn’t do that, then nobody would ever be able to truly help me reach my goals. I decided I would learn as much as I could about business, sales, and leadership by myself, and then record and apply my learnings to my day to day job.

What choice did I make to start to improve myself?

You have many different ways to learn and get better. I decided books were the first and best route at the time. Sales books, biographies, self-help, business, non-fiction, whatever I could get my hands on. The key was not necessarily in the books themselves, it was the choice I made to take control of my own improvement that was important.

For me, books were helpful; for others, they might respond more favorably to something different. Whatever it is, the point is that I stopped waiting for others to help me and took matters into my own hands.

How did this choice to read books impact me?

I wanted to be in sales since I graduated college, but due to the economic climate in 2009 I took the first job I got offered. My passion was sales but sales jobs were hard to come by at the time for entry level reps. After a ton of hard work, I was given the opportunity to join a top tech company in Chicago to do sales. My very first sales manager told me something that I will never forget. He told me he hired me because in the interview process he was so impacted by the amount of effort I put into reading books about sales. He had interviewed candidates who had more experience than me, but I used my knowledge that I acquired from the books I read about sales and business to show him that I could learn quickly and apply it. This made a lasting impact and helped me to get the job over others with more experience. Looking back, my decision to start reading was the best thing I ever did, because ultimately it launched my career.

One of the early books I picked up was Seth Godin’s book “Linchpin.” After reading it, I took away two stories that are now the foundation of my life, and my sales team. It is the stories of two men named “Richard and Steve” and how their choices will impact their careers.

The Story of Steve (Seth Godin’s Book: Linchpin)

“Steve works at the Stop and Shop near my house. He hates it. He works at the cash register, and it seems as though every ounce of his being projects his dissatisfaction with his job. Steve won’t make eye contact. Steve takes a lot of breaks. Steve doesn’t start bagging until the last possible moment. Steve grumbles a lot.

The thing is, Steve spends as much time at work as his co-worker Melinda. And Melinda is engaged, connected and enthusiastic. Steve has decided that he’s not being paid enough to bring his entire self to work, and he’s teaching all of us a lesson. Melinda has decided that she has a platform, and she uses it to make a tiny difference in every customer’s day.

The sad part for me is that while Steve is busy teaching the store a lesson, he’s teaching himself that this is the way to do his job. He’s fully expecting that his next job, or the job after that or the job after that is when he’ll become the linchpin. If he waits for a job that he feels deserves his best shot, it’s unlikely that he’ll ever have that job.”

The Story of Richard (Seth Godin’s Book: Linchpin)

“Forty years ago, Richard Branson, who ultimately founded Virgin Air, found himself stuck and most likely to be late for a business meeting in an airport in the Caribbean. They had just canceled his flight, the only flight that day. Instead of freaking out about how essential the flight was, how badly his day was ruined, how his entire career was now in jeopardy, the young Branson walked across the airport to the charter and inquired about the cost of chartering a flight out of Puerto Rico.

Then he borrowed a portable blackboard and wrote, ‘Seats to Virgin Islands, $39.’ He went back to this gate, sold enough seats to his fellow passengers to completely cover his costs, and made it home on time. Not to mention planting the seeds for the airline he’d start decades later. Sounds like the kind of person you’d like to hire.”

So, I leave you with a question: Who do you want to be? Richard or Steve? It’s up to you to decide. You are in control of your destiny. This world owes you nothing. You must take ownership of your choices. No one else will help you unless you start to help yourself.

Now WAKE UP! It’s Day ONE. May the choice be with you.

 

Wake Up! It’s Book Review Monday – Today We Are Rich

Outside of my mentors and defining moments, books have accelerated my learning both professionally and personally, and I truly believe that reading is the single most important thing you can do to better yourself.  In light of this, on Monday’s I will be reviewing a book that has impacted me.

Today’s book is Today We Are Rich: Harnessing the Power of Total Confidence by Tim Sanders.

Brief Summary:

Tim Sanders was an early stage member of Broadcast.com (think Mark Cuban), and he was a former executive at Yahoo! Today, he is an international speaker, consultant, and author. In his book, Tim shares with us his personal story of moving back home to live with his grandmother while he was going through some hardships. While back home, he learns from his grandmother the 7 principles of “confident living.” He shares personal stories about each principal and how they can be used step-by-step to overcome obstacles to become more confident and achieve your full potential.

Things I learned from this book:

Feed the mind

This is one of the easiest things to do but yet so difficult. Tim simply explains that we must reduce or eliminate the things in our lives like social media, news, and friends that gives you negative thoughts. No surprise here, but by doing this it will increase your overall happiness and positivity. Tim was way ahead of his time considering I read this book about 7 years ago which makes social media look like an infant. As we enter 2018, it is more vital than ever to try to eliminate the crap out of your mind. Here are some tips I learned from Tim:

  • Write down everything you read, listen to, and watch. You will be shocked at how much unnecessary crap you are wasting your time with.
  • Once you have seen all the crap, you can start reducing it one by one. For example, cut people out of your life who are negative, and delete friends on social media who are constantly creating drama and creating negative thoughts in your head.
  • Spend your time reading books, editorial pieces from credible authors, and watching credible shows which discuss solutions instead of problems. 
  • Avoid waking up and looking at your email or social media. The first thing you see every morning should be something positive.
  • Keep an ongoing journal in your mind or on paper of successful things that happen and use that as a way to combat negative or self-doubting thoughts.

Move the Conversation Forward

To me, this is an essential skill to have and the #1 principle you must be able to master. I personally took this principle as the idea of how to take a conversation with yourself or someone else and find the good in it. It reminds me of the many times, we get caught up in a conversation and drown ourselves in the problem instead of looking for a solution. I see so many people do this and it creates a downward spiral that leads to taking no action.  

Tips from Tim about how you can continue to move the conversation forward:

When processing the information it comes in four ways, and you should frame every bit of information:

  • Good – Either for you or for someone or something you have an interest in
  • Neutral – No direct effect on you or one of your interests
  • Get Busy – Adversity you need to respond to
  • Bad – A irrevocably negative effect on you or one of your interests

Use Willis Carrier’s (Founder of Carrier – Air Conditioning) advice to move the conversation forward:

  • Define the worst case scenario
  • Accept it as survivable
  • Make a good goal of beating it

Always be Prepared

  1. Become an expert in your craft:

A few easy ways to do this is to read books in your field, network with other individuals in your field and find a mentor or mentor an individual who works within the same industry. How many people do you know do any of those three things? To be honest, I know very few people.

  1. Practice, Practice, Practice:

Run through the presentation as it actually will be. Every detail of the presentation should be precisely the same when you are practicing. From the setting to the running through the entire presentation it should all be done as if you were presenting live.

  1. Expect the unexpected:

Something I have learned time and time again is that nothing goes according to plan. We should always prepare for “objections” or potential challenges we will run into and assume the worst case scenario. It is very important especially for sales and business. I know personally that I have fallen into this trap thinking a call would go one way and I was not prepared for the objections that came up. Though my reps don’t like when I seem pessimistic on a deal, I am just trying to prepare for all scenarios so we can win the deal.

How has this book impacted me?

One of the particular ideas expressed in this book, “move the conversation forward”, really moved me. Ever since reading it as a young professional it made me rethink the way I communicate with others and the ways I talk to myself subconsciously. Over the years, I have been trying to understand and learn as much as possible about the human mind and how we can control our thoughts. It has led me to a philosophy called Stoicism that I now consider a big part of my life professionally and personally.  

I read this book twice in my life: once as an early professional, and again as a sales leader. I personally use three of the seven principles discussed in the book every single day and I credit them to a lot of the early success I’ve had in my career. The best part is that the principles can be implemented by anyone and when they are, they can change your life and your career.

Now, WAKE UP! It’s Day One. Buy “Today We Are Rich” here and check out Tim’s other books, all of which are great. If you are not a book reader but enjoy great content, follow Tim’s blog here: http://timsanders.com/blog/

Wake Up! It’s Book Review Monday – HARD Goals

Outside of my mentors and defining moments, books have accelerated my learning both professionally and personally, and I truly believe that reading is the single most important thing you can do to better yourself.  In light of this, on Monday’s I will be reviewing a book that has impacted me.

Today’s book is Hard Goals: The Secret to Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Mark Murphy. This book will teach you an entirely new way to set goals, and when you do it will change your life.  

Brief Summary:

Mark Murphy is founder and CEO of Leadership IQ, which is a leadership consulting company. Mark and his team studied 5,000 workers from all different type of industries to understand what makes people and businesses extraordinary. He also shares stories from people like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, and many of our past presidents to discover what made them achieve things most dream of doing. What he learned was that they didn’t set easy or “SMART” goals, they set HARD goals. In his book, Mark walks us through what HARD goals are and how we can achieve them. 

Things I learned from the book:

  • You must be emotionally connected to your goal, able to see and feel as if this goal is necessary to your survival and when accomplished it is the hardest thing you have ever done in your life.
  • Forget about SMART goals, and focusing on tactical and analytical goal setting. The most important part of the goal-setting process is asking yourself questions like this: “WHY do I care to accomplish this goal,” What happens if I don’t accomplish it? How is this goal going to help me reach my potential?
  • The specific part of “SMART” goals is OK, but all you do to make it specific is focus on making the goal a number. Instead, why don’t you visualize the goal, and draw it out to make it specific? If you can draw the goal being accomplished, then your mind will be more invested in completing it.

Other things I learned:

You can set and achieve HARD goals because YOU HAVE DONE IT MANY TIMES BEFORE

We have all accomplished things we never thought possible. When we do, we all have the same feeling that makes us feel on top of the world. Unfortunately, as incredible as that feeling is we as humans tend to lose it so quickly. For most, they just completely forget, and it prohibits them from remembering how they achieved things once thought impossible. So, right now at this moment think back to the last time you did set a goal and achieved it. Now ask yourself these questions?

  • Did this goal challenge me and push me out of my comfort zone?
  • DId I have a deep emotional attachment to the goal?
  • Did I have to learn new skills to accomplish it?
  • Was my personal investment in this goal such that it felt entirely necessary?
  • Could I vividly picture what it would be like to hit my goal?

What are HARD goals and How do you set HARD goals?

Heartfelt

As mentioned above, the best question to ask yourself is “Why do I care about this goal.” This is a straightforward and easy question, but yet very powerful. And to further develop a heartfelt connection Mark explains you must focus on intrinsic, personal, extrinsic connections to your goal:

    • Develop goals around things that interest you, and you have expressed passion towards
    • Who are you accomplishing this goal for? It is OK if it is not just for you but for someone else
    • Ask yourself what the payoff is?

Also, Mark discusses the idea of discovering your “Shoves and Tugs” which are moments/things that pull you away from your goal or push you towards your goal. Once you identify what these “things” are you can be more aware of them and set goals that are tailored to the tugs more than the shoves. To help, ask yourself questions like this to help yourself identify shoves and tugs:

    • Describe a time when you felt really frustrated and wanted to give up?
    • Describe a time recently when you felt really motivated, and you were totally fired up?

Animated

This is a simple task that I think most people know how to do, but don’t actually do it. A great way to think about is to ask yourself “How do I think this goal looks and feels? Literally, Draw it out. (Shape, Colors, Lighting, Distinct parts, Emotions, Movement)

Required

Most of us set goals annually and never achieve them (80% of us to be exact). Why? We want the reward immediately rather than putting in the long-term work. When it comes to goals like losing weight, saving money, and trying to improve yourself, it is easier to just eat that cake, spend that money, or not pick up that self-help book in the moment. You say, ‘well I have time. I can start tomorrow, or next week’. You have no thought of the future implications. So, how can you try to turn the goal into being a requirement and ensuring it gets accomplished?

  1. Ask yourself this: If you don’t accomplish this goal, what happens? If the implication is something you can deal with, then I bet you will not be invested enough to follow through on accomplishing the goal.
  2. Spread out the costs and rewards over the present and future: Instead of taking on the brunt of the work now, and rewarding yourself right now. You can spread it out and have small wins to avoid burnout and gain confidence.
  3. Limit your choices: If you are trying to lose weight don’t go to a restaurant that has healthy and crap food. Just, change the habit not the reward to get you thinking about breaking your goal.
  4. Focus on each day, or as I like to put it say to yourself “every day is day one.” Just focus on accomplishing today.
  5. When writing down your goals or visualizing your goals make sure you tell others you want to “lose weight” say “6 months from now I will be wearing an X size” OR say “I will be wearing those pants that I have not worn since I was young”s

Difficult

To create a difficult goal you ask yourself  questions like this:

  • How is this goal going to stretch me?
  • What will you have to learn to achieve this goal?
  • How will you have grown and what skills will you have acquired?

How has this book impacted me?

The first time I read this book I thought it was dumb, no joke. I was all for the “SMART” goal idea, but I quickly realized how I and so many others fail to actually accomplish their goals. I re-read this book about 3 years ago and went into it wanting to find a better way to set and achieve goals. Well, over the past 3 years I went from saying I was going to achieve goals to ACTUALLY achieving goals. I go through an annual goal setting process for myself personally, and I use these steps above to help me do that.

In 2017, I set 6 goals for myself: Read 25 books, reconnect with 6 people from my past, write 5 recommendations for others who I have worked with, save and invest X amount of money, build out a framework for a blog, and write a “thank you” letter to my high school teacher. I can tell you that I read 28 books, reconnected with 10 people, wrote 9 recommendations, didn’t just start my blog, but published 10 posts in 2017, and reconnected with my old teacher. My goals were crushed in 2017, and I have no doubt if I follow this process of setting HARD goals I will do it again and again.

Now, Wake Up! It’s Day One. Time to set your HARD goals for 2018 and beyond. You can start by purchasing the book here: Hard Goals: The Secret to Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be and check out www.leadershipiq.com for more information on Mark and his company.

Be like Gerald the Giraffe, Find your music.

Outside of my mentors and defining moments, books have accelerated my learning both professionally and personally and I truly believe that reading is the single most important thing you can do to better yourself. In light of this, on Mondays, I will be reviewing a book that has impacted me.

Today’s Book is Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae. It is currently in the top 5 most sold fiction books on Amazon.com.

Brief Summary:

A giraffe named Gerald is nervous because the annual Jungle Dance is today, and he is not confident in his ability to dance. He sees all the other animals do amazing dances, and when it’s his turn the animals all start to laugh at him because he is a giraffe and giraffes can’t dance. Quickly, he scampers off and believes that they are right, and he’s useless. While gazing at the moon, he runs into a cricket who tells him, “sometimes when you’re different you just need a different song.” With the help of the cricket, Gerald hears for the first time the music in the jungle surrounding him.

Before he knows it, he is dancing. All of the animals start to catch word of Gerald’s dance moves. They can’t believe it; Gerald is the best dancer they’ve ever seen! They ask Gerald how he got so good at dancing. He says, “We all can dance when we find music that we love”.

Things I learned from this book:

  • Less is more. This book is 30 pages, and it has a very powerful message. We tend to overthink when it comes to whether or not we can do something. The message of the book is to do what you love, and you can do anything.
  • When we were newborns and toddlers we were fearless; thinking positively was the only option, and curiosity flowed through our veins. We spent hours reading books like Giraffes Can’t Dance but somewhere along the way, we forget the messages that were the foundation of our existence. It’s hard, but we need to get back to that beginner’s mindset: be curious, think positively, have fun, and don’t be afraid to fail.
  • “We all can dance” is similar to “we all are unique”. We just need to start to focus on what we love and find passion in.
  • It is OK to be different. It does not mean that you “can’t” do something. It means you just have to find your own way to do it.

Other things I learned from this book:

Find your Music:

We are all unique. It is the best part of being human. If we were all the same, the world would be a strange place. Imagine if we all danced the same way, how strange would that be? Gerald sees all the other animals dancing in certain ways, and feels like he can’t dance. What he does not realize until the end of the book is that he can dance, he just has not found music that “interests” him.

A great way to start to find your “purpose” is thinking about what interests you. You will spend hours, days, years learning and exploring these interests. This repetition and practice will lead you to find out precisely what you are most passionate about. If someone asked me how to find their purpose I would ask them what they are most passionate about. Let’s start there.

Be Yourself:

We tend to want to go with what is “cool” or “popular” instead of doing what you really want to do. We fear that others will think we are “lame” or “dumb” or “not cool”. Gerald feels this way in the book when he goes to the Jungle Dance. He feels like he has to be able to dance like the other animals or he won’t fit in. In due time, he realizes that he can dance however he wants.

If we live our lives living by someone else’s standards, we will ultimately regret the life we lived. As I have discussed in my previous posts, if you feel different that’s OK. We are all different. Don’t waste time worrying about the opinions of others. It is similar to what the cricket told Gerald when he said, “sometimes when you’re different you just need a different song.” To me, this means to be you. Do what you love and create your own path.

How has this book impacted me?

If you want to reach your potential, start with doing something you love. For some people, they fail to do this and they wake up one day realizing that most of their life has been wasted in things they don’t truly enjoy. As juvenile as this may sound, don’t follow others because it seems like the cool thing to do or because everyone is doing it. Believe in yourself and your own unique story. I love sales, leadership, and seeing others achieve things they thought were not possible. I have always been interested in these things, so I started to read about topics in these three areas. Soon enough, I began to become incredibly passionate about it and launched a blog.

It seems like it can’t be that easy, but it is. Think about this, you just learned something from a CHILDREN’S BOARD BOOK. So, just like Gerald taught me, anything is possible. Giraffes CAN dance.

Now, WAKE UP! It’s Day One. Time to find your music. Buy the book here!

Don’t Stop, Keep Going

After reading my prior posts, you learned that to start achieving your potential you need to be able to believe in yourself and redefine what the idea of success means. Hopefully, you have done both! If not, It’s OK. Step 1 is the hardest step to complete, and even if you do, it’s hard to maintain. Trust me. Others in your life will tempt you to follow the “rules,” and you will continuously feel tested with the vicious cycle of worrying about the past (failure) and future (success), which will try to prohibit you from making choices and taking action. You will feel like you want to give up and start to doubt yourself, but you must continue to move forward on your journey, and remind yourself of these four things:

1. Remember your “Why”:

Your “why” is your purpose which is what drives you and what wakes you up every single day. When you have moments where you want to give up, your “why” is the single most important thing to remember. You don’t need to focus on your “why” in the broader sense of your life but think about your “why” for this moment, which also allows you to be fully present. It helps you focus on what is right in front of you, and it gives you the meaning and motivation that you will need to continue forward.

Further questions to ask yourself:

Why are you here?

Why have you gotten this far?

Why do you wake up every day?

Why should you continue to move forward?

2. What you can control, and your supposed “superhuman idols” control:

Writing down what you control and what your idols control is a great exercise to help you realize that you both control the same things. Typically, people will notice three things about their role models: 1. They put in more effort. 2. They learn every day 3. They are not afraid to fail. That’s it. Understanding you can be as great as they are by noting these things is an incredibly powerful feeling.

Further questions to ask yourself:

How do they go about their improving their skill or ability?

How did they get to where they are?

How hard did they work? What specifics outside of pure talent did they do to be successful?

How many times did they fail?

3. The present moment:

Stop worrying about what happened yesterday or what is going to happen tomorrow. Focus on the here and now. In this moment, how can you just merely contribute? Ask yourself each day, what did I do to add value to the world? These questions will allow you to see how much you accomplish in just one day. You realize that you make an impact and you quickly start to understand how you have the ability to do amazing things in your life.

4. How you respond:

This goes along with the prior point of focusing on the present. What has happened in the past is what it is. Every second spent talking about regret, could have, should have, would have is time you are wasting that could be spent on moving forward. If you are serious about reaching your potential, we need to get going. We have more steps to take in this journey. Make a choice and TAKE ACTION.

You might think it can’t be that simple, but it truly is. As humans, we tend to overcomplicate EVERYTHING. It’s time to cut the bullshit. You need to WAKE UP! The good thing? It’s Day One. So, my first question to you is: Are you ready to make the choice to move forward?

Leadership Lessons from the CO-Founder of Pixar

Outside of my mentors and defining moments, books have accelerated my learning both professionally and personally and I truly believe that reading is the single most important thing you can do to better yourself. In light of this, every Monday I will be reviewing a book that has impacted me.
Today’s book is Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull. If you are a leader of a team or company you should definitely read this book, but anyone can benefit from reading it. In many ways, we are all leaders.

Brief Summary:

Ed Catmull is the Co-Founder of Pixar and in his book, he shares the story and lessons he learned while building Pixar. More specifically, he explains Pixar’s unique leadership practices that made them one of the most innovative and successful companies the world has ever seen (he also got to work side by side with Steve Jobs, so he shares very insightful conversations and things he learned from Steve. I outline one of the things I took away from their time together below).

Things I learned from the book:

  • We are all creative. As an employee (or simply a human) you have the ability to be creative. You just need to be in the right environment with the right mentorship and believe in your abilities.
  • As a leader, you must manage your employees and yourself to the unknown. Loosen the control, take risks, accept the fact that you as a leader can be wrong.
  • Ed states in the book, “The view of our past is hardly clearer than our view of the future.The past should be our teacher, not our master.” Love this quote.
  • Some of the first questions Steve Jobs ever asked Ed Catmull included: “What do you want?” and “What are your long-term goals?” As a leader, you need to find out what is important to those you are leading.
  • You must create a “safe environment” which allows employees to feel comfortable to speak up and talk to anyone regardless of title. This is extremely important for all leaders because most tend to just manage up and forget about managing down. Ed realized quickly that the latter was possibly even more important.
  • Every company has problems and the cost of not finding the problem is much more than the cost of fixing them once they happen.
  • Hire people who you believe you could work for one day and that you believe are smarter than you. So many people do not follow this advice. I truly believe most leaders are intimidated or scared to hire someone who threatens their intelligence or job because they may have a higher ceiling.
  • As Ed learned from George Lucas, you must follow the process, but do not lose sight of the end goal. Employees will come and go, but keep moving forward even if you do not know where you are headed.
  • All teams and employees matter. If one team or one employee fails to achieve their goal, then we all fail. You must have a mentality and culture that lets everyone know that what they do is vital to the company’s success.
  • As a leader, you must learn to see problems before they happen, which is very difficult. Your employees typically know or see the problems before you. It’s simple. Just ask them, because typically they are too afraid to tell you.
  • A culture that is innovative and achieves their end goal is able to meet “unexpected problems with unexpected responses”.

Other things I learned:

Ask the right questions, and focus on what you value as a company

Ed explains how he got advice from Silicon Valley experts about how to price Pixar’s first imaging computer. Their advice was to price high to start, and if necessary you can always lower it. He quickly learned that was a mistake. He took advice without asking questions.
Pixar gained the reputation of being powerful but too expensive. Because of this, their sales got off to a slow start. He realized he failed to ask the right questions, and should have been focused on what he and the company valued. Meeting the expectations of customers and investing in software development so customers could get more value in their product were their priorities.

Focus more on the end result than the actual process

Making the process cheaper and trying to perfect it is OK, but that cannot be the goal. The goal is to get to your end result. Ed explains that he sees so many companies focused on fixing and streamlining the “process” which leads to groups thinking they are doing the right things. But it ultimately limits communications between teams and blinds you from what the real problem is. This leads to teams becoming distracted from the end goal. This is a mindset I believe everyone should possess. A team or company needs to have one specific end goal, and everyone then needs to be aligned with that goal. You must set the end goal prior to setting short-term goals. This is so simple, yet so many companies and teams fail to understand this. The process will look like a roller coaster and that is ok. Hitting the end goal is all that matters.

Change is Good

Successful companies and people tend to view any change as a threat to the company culture or way things work. It is easier for people to hold onto processes and things that work and just stick to what they know. The ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ model to some is the winning model, and shockingly most companies fall into this trap. Most people don’t want to hear that no matter what you do things change. The key to a successful company or even an individual reaching the end goal is by changing and evolving. If we try to tighten our control over what we already know and choose not to change, then we impede our creativeness. And just a side note, Ed discusses the person who changed his mind the most of out of anyone he knew… Steve Jobs.

Trust your employees at all levels to find solutions

Big and small problems should be treated the same, and you should create a response structure that matches the problem structure. In a creative and innovative environment, people are allowed to solve problems with no permissions and we are OK with people making mistakes. The person or team can then solve the problem, and it allows the company to catch a problem early on. Don’t wait to get approval or the problem could destroy your business.

Leadership and life lesson from someone who worked side by side with Steve Jobs

As I mentioned, Ed had the unique experience to work with Steve Jobs. After working so closely with Steve, he shares his definition of the world people believe Steve Jobs lived in which they call the “Reality Distortion Field”. Here is Ed’s definition after his time with Steve:
“It stems from my belief that our decisions and actions have consequences and that those consequences shape our future. Our actions change our reality. Our intentions matter. Most people believe that their actions have consequences but don’t think through the implications of that belief. But Steve did. He believed, as I do, that it is precisely by acting on our intentions and staying true to our values that we change the world.”
To me, it seems as if Steve Jobs was just human, and he lived in the same world we lived in. He just did something really well and he believed in his abilities. He didn’t stop. He kept going and he reached his end result. He changed the world.

How has this book impacted me?

From a leadership standpoint, my number 1 goal is to strive to help my reps become not just better salespeople but better individuals. The idea of focusing on the unknown is exactly how you can do that, and Ed lays out very simple practices that you can follow to help create this environment where people can reach their full potential.
As an Individual, one of my core values is to learn every day and learning from other people on how they achieved their potential is easily the best way to learn. This book specifically was helpful because it solidified some of the leadership ideas and personal values that I am so passionate about. After reading a book like this, it shows me how simple life is at its core and how people like Ed Catmull became successful doing things that you and I can do. As long as I focus on trying to learn every day and have a laser focus on my end goal, nothing can stop me.
Now, Wake Up! It’s Day One. Time to lead your team and yourself into the unknown. And purchase the book here: Creativity, Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

Wake Up! It’s Book Review Monday – Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

Outside of my mentors and defining moments, books have accelerated my learning both professionally and personally and I truly believe that reading is the single most important thing you can do to better yourself.  In light of this, on Mondays, I will be reviewing a book that has impacted me.

Today’s book is Linchpin: Are you Indispensable? by Seth Godin.

In my last post, I discussed the idea of how you can reinvent your life and the idea of success. This book has helped me solidify these thoughts and has become one of my top ten favorites. It can help further explain my thought process and help paint a clearer picture of how important it is that you write your own rules.

“My goal is to persuade you that there is an opportunity available to you, a chance to significantly change your life for the better. Not by doing something that is easy or that you have been trained to do, but by understanding how the rules of our world have fundamentally changed and by taking advantage of this moment to become someone the world believes is indispensable.” – Seth Godin

Brief summary of LinchPin: Are you Indispensable?

Seth Godin discusses the idea of how the world has significantly changed, and how in the past it paid to follow the rules. He explains that there have always been two teams: Management and Labor, but now there is a third team: Linchpins. Linchpins are the type of people who make their own map and don’t follow the guidelines of corporate America that have been set in stone for hundreds of years. He shares ideas and stories about how you too can do this and once you do, reaching your potential will never be easier. And Seth makes it clear that it starts with YOU and YOUR CHOICES.

Things I learned from the book:

  • The world has evolved, and it will only continue to evolve. If you keep complying with the system, you will fail to achieve your potential. If you want to reach your goals, you must create your own map.
  • The world is changing because of innovation. The first people to fail are the map-followers, non-risk takers, the fearful and scared to be different. Those type of people gets lost in the fast pace world we live in. It is unfortunate because they were told to “follow the system” and over time it has failed them.
  • Innovative employees are typically the most successful. As a manager, at times I feel like I need to control every situation, and that is unnecessary. Let your employees think for themselves.
  • We have a choice every single day. You can choose to be great, learn, and contribute or you can follow the process and do what others tell you to do. I will take the former.
  • People don’t take a risk because they are afraid. Schools (not all, but most) created a fear like environment. Pass or Fail. We were rarely taught “It’s ok to fail. Get back up. Just give maximum effort.”
  • It’s OK to be unique. You have a purpose. You have your own thoughts and views. Share them with the world. Don’t be scared. If you don’t it will be challenging to reach your goals.
  • Life is about choice: Are you going to choose to be part of the machine or are you going to pave your own way?

Other things I learned from this book:

Seth explains that when you become a linchpin, you strengthen your abilities in these 7 areas:

  1. Provide a unique interface between members of the organization
  2. Deliver unique creativity
  3. Manage a situation or organization of great complexity
  4. Lead customers
  5. Inspire staff
  6. Provide deep domain knowledge
  7. Possess a unique talent

Where does average come from?

  1. You were brainwashed by a school (not all, but a majority) and by the system into believing that your job is to do your job. You have to follow the rules and instructions.
  2. We all have a little voice inside our heads that’s angry and scared. That voice is what Seth refers to as the “resistance” (your lizard brain) and it wants you to play it safe and be average.

The law of linchpin leverage

People who we view as “ultra-successful” or “brilliant” are only truly this way for short bursts. The rest of the time they are doing work that anyone could do. The difference is that for 1 minute or 5 minutes they think differently about how they can contribute and create value in this world. At your job, take a second to think about how you could do it better or create more value because that is what Linchpins do. The ones who do not choose to think this way become replaceable.

We live in a fear driven culture

The “system” prohibits you from being innovative and standing out. We have created a sense of fear in the world that employees cannot share their thoughts and opinions because they must follow the rules. We must break down the walls and barriers to innovation. We all have ideas. Whether they are right or not shouldn’t prohibit someone from speaking up about it. Because we are afraid to take a risk and create our own map, we tend to say things like this:

    • “I don’t have any good ideas”
    • “I don’t know what to do”
    • “I didn’t graduate from (insert brand of some prestigious educational institution here)” –  I LOVE WHEN I HEAR THIS. WHO CARES WHERE YOU WENT TO SCHOOL. IT’S NOT WHERE YOU WENT, IT’S WHAT YOU DO.
    • “My boss won’t let me”
    • “Well, that’s fine for you, but my gender, race, health, religion, nationality, shoe size, handicap, or DNA don’t make it easy”

There is NO map

This is simple. As I mentioned in my last post, everything is invented. We are all human. We all have a purpose. We all have a voice. We are all powerful. If you believe in something, go DO IT. Nobody is in control of you except for yourself.

How has this book impacted me?

As a young kid, I always remember thinking and asking myself “why this”, “why that”. I have always been a curious person, and I have always wanted to be unique and different. This book reassured me that it is OK to want to be that way. It is what makes me a human and not a cog in a machine.

Seth also opened my mind up to the ideas of “choice” and “innovation”. He made it OK and furthermore necessary to challenge the status quo if you are going to reach your potential. He also shares two stories that I actually printed out and laminated for my sales team. I have all my new hires read it, and if you have or still do work for me, you know the story of “Richard and Steve”. I will shortly be sharing a post with those stories. But for now, I can say that we are always given a choice and the people who choose to create their own map end up finding their potential.

Now, Wake Up! It’s Day One. Time to create your own map, and become indispensable. Purchase Seth’s book here: Buy the book here! and I highly recommend you subscribe to his blog: Click here to view his blog and subscribe!

 

Time to Reinvent Success

As I discussed in my previous post life is all about perception. You must change the way you view the world and view yourself which can ultimately allow you to start believing in yourself.

This might be difficult for some, so an easy way to start is by thinking differently. If you told me the sky is purple, ok… then the sky is purple. If you think 2 + 2 = 5, awesome! If you truly believed that I would say, ‘GREAT! Tell me more!’

The majority of people would tell you those statements are not possible and you are wrong. The sky is blue and 2 + 2 = 4. And yes, they are correct, but only because they followed the rules. Here is what the rules say: You go to school. You learn. You get a job. You work for 30+ years. At the end of the day, you either succeed or fail. That’s how life works. Since the day we were born, we were taught that life has rules. Follow them and you will be on a path to success. Why does it work this way?

Think about school: you pass or fail a class, and you have to pass a grade to get to the next grade. It is just a continuing upward climb to “success”. It doesn’t end though. As you go to work, you are constantly trying to move up “the ladder”.  If you do not get that promotion or you don’t close that deal, you fail. That is how we were told to believe and perceive how life works: succeed or fail. What people don’t realize and are often never taught is that the concept of succeeding or failing was invented. Even crazier and one of the cold hard facts of life is that everything in life is invented.

Humans created this idea of success and failure and rules of how life works. We all just fall into our place in this world, and there is not much you can do about it. And this has led us to believe that there are such things as “superhumans” and other people we can never hope to be like. People such as Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk (just to name a few).

Do they think the sky is purple? Or 2 + 2 = 5? Maybe. Maybe not. But they sure as hell woke up one day and said “I am going to create my own rules”, and asked themselves something like this: Why do we measure and perceive success based off what someone hundreds, maybe thousands of years ago decided were the rules of life? So they went outside the box. They believed in their own rules and their own path. And guess what? They are just humans and they simply thought differently. And once they did that, no one could stop them. They didn’t just reach their potential, they changed the world.

To reiterate, we are letting someone who invented this idea of success to tell us what makes us successful. What this idea and everyone else failed to tell you is that you are the one in control and you will always be the one in control. If you truly believe something, then nothing can stop you. You must start with reinventing yourself and your idea of success to achieve your potential. What stops you from achieving your potential is that that you have let others control the idea of it and tell you what you should or shouldn’t do to be considered successful. And that is the most bullshit thing I have ever heard.

“The world is made up of crazy ideas. History is one long procession of crazy ideas. Let everyone else call your idea crazy. Just Keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t even think about stopping until you get there, and don’t give much thought to where there is. Whatever comes, just don’t stop.” – Phil Knight, Founder – NIKE

This has led us to worry about two things: the past (our failures) and the future (our success).  We constantly measure our past and future selves against this idea of what success should look like. Why do we do this? It is rooted in how we were taught as kids. Every story we hear is always about the trials of failure or success by someone who seems like a mythical character, or god, or superhuman. Trust me, I am guilty of believing in it. We all are.  But if we don’t stop and invent our own way, it becomes difficult to actually accomplish anything.

This persistent worrying about the past and the future means your mind will be on a treadmill your entire life. It will never stop. You will feel like you worked so hard and it will just be running and running, but the problem is that it will be going nowhere. And the amount of time and energy wasted thinking about how you once were and how you have to be a certain way in the future is time you are wasting to improve yourself in the actual moment.

If you can’t focus on the step that is in front of you, then how are you going to take the next steps to reach your potential? If you do not actually stop and complete step 1, being fully present in that moment, then you can’t take steps 2 and 3.  Just taking that first step is so hard and then to actually decide and act on anything is another challenge. Since we follow the rules that have been pounded into our heads, we do nothing. We sit and worry. And our obsession with the rules that someone else created holds us back and ultimately destroys our hopes and dreams.

Well today, I am declaring this as your day to reinvent success and your beliefs of success. Remember, it is day one. Every day is day one. If you are living in this moment right now, then you just learned something. Though I am declaring today as your day, guess what every day is your day to reinvent yourself. Some person at some point decided what success and failure should look like, but that does not mean that you don’t have every right to redefine it for yourself. And if you want to achieve your potential, then you need to believe that life is not as black and white as success versus failure. It is about giving maximum effort and making up your own rules.

If you need some guidelines on where and how to start, here are my rules I invented for achieving success in my life:

  • Attempt, find, or at least think about what your purpose is.
  • Discover and write out your core values and beliefs.
  • Know your end result, know where you want to go, and what the outcome is going to be.
  • Write down and track three things:
    • How many times did you fall and get back up (literally and figuratively)? It should be a long list.
    • Learn 1 thing each day. Go home and write it down.
    • Every day is day one. Keep track of how many times you reinvent yourself or your beliefs.
  • At the end of the day, if the first four points don’t happen, simply contribute every day. Here are a few ways to do that:
    • Hold the door for someone.
    • Tell someone that you are thankful or grateful for them and what they do for you.
    • If you are having a bad day, help someone else have a good day.
    • Smile at someone today. Tell a joke.
  • Remember every day is day one. There is no time limit or amount of time you need to achieve success in life.

Now Wakeup! It’s Day One. Be thankful every single day (not just the week of Thanksgiving) for the opportunity to wake up and have the chance to reinvent success and reach your potential.

WAKEUP! It’s Book Review Monday – The Miracle Morning

Outside of my mentors and defining moments, books have accelerated my learning both professionally and personally and I truly believe that reading is the single most important thing you can do to better yourself. In light of this, on Mondays, I will be reviewing a book that has impacted me.

Today’s book is The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life Before 8 a.m. by Hal Elrod.

“Life isn’t about wishing you were somewhere or someone that you’re not. Life is about enjoying where you are, loving who you are, and consistently improving both” –

Brief Summary of The Miracle Morning:

Hal Elrod was no different than any other professional trying to make a living. At age 20, he was the #1 sales rep at his marketing company breaking every single record there was. But then that year he had a horrific accident where a drunk driver hit him head-on. He was pronounced dead for 6 minutes. Miraculously, he came back to life, though he spent 6 days in a coma and woke up to the news he would NEVER walk again.

After 11 fractured bones, permanent brain damage, and necessary rehab to walk again he used these challenges to motivate and inspire himself. He did not back down or give up. A few years later, he is walking, talking, and sharing his story with the world. He has become a keynote speaker, author, ultramarathon runner, and the creator of The Miracle Morning routine which thousands of people use every day. He shares with you the Miracle Morning routine, and how this accident changed his life for the better, and how we can all persevere through the toughest moments of our lives.

Things I learned from this book:

  • New Ideas and methods to add to my morning ritual

  • A good morning routine can be 6 minutes or 60 minutes. Both are very powerful.

  • A morning routine can change your life and be the #1 reason for being happy and successful.

  • Everything happens for a reason. You must find the deeper meaning of a situation good or bad because you can learn from every moment.

  • Be grateful for what you have in life. Reading this book re-confirmed one of my beliefs, “give it all you have every day.”

  • If you are going to try to change a habit, you must have a well thought out plan prior to trying to improve.

  • Morning rituals or routines should fit your lifestyle. It is not a one size fit all.

  • Waking up tired has nothing to do with how many hours you get to sleep. It is actually your belief of how many hours YOU NEED to feel rested. So before you go to bed, think about how many hours you truly need to be rested. The average person at age 30 needs about 6 to 7 hours.

Other learnings I took away:

The 95% Reality Check:

Step 1: Acknowledge that 95% of society will never create and live the life they really want

The challenge for most people is that they don’t want to take ownership of anything. They do not realize that to accomplish anything in life, it starts with themselves. Instead of looking at people you admire and saying, “I can’t be like them”, you need to start realizing that you can. And you need to realize YOU are in control. No one is responsible for your success, only YOU.

Step 2: Identify the Causes of Mediocrity

  1. Rearview Mirror Syndrome:

Staying present and moving the conversation forward is one of the hardest things for people to do, especially in the world we are in today. The way we were raised in school was all about pass or fail, which gives us a false perception of what success truly is. It is not always about winning or losing, it is about effort.

To review the past is ok as long as you take something away from it- regardless of success or failure. However, you must continue to look forward and not stop moving. Like I mentioned in my last post, wake up today and think different or you will never move forward towards your goals.

2. Lack of Purpose:

We all have a purpose. You need to ask yourself, “Why do I wake up every day?” Trust me, there is a reason, and that is your purpose.

3. Isolated Incidents:

We tend to believe that each choice we make only impacts us at that specific moment, but unfortunately, it all adds up. As you know, I believe every day it is day one so I am 50/50 on this point he makes here. I believe sometimes you just need to move on rather than spending unproductive time worrying about if a choice you made yesterday was wrong.

4. Lack of Accountability:

This is extremely difficult for most people, and where a lot of us fail. It starts though with you. If you can follow my methods of building a day one mindset you will start to hold yourself accountable. I do agree with Hal that the best and easiest way to hold yourself accountable is finding an “Accountability Partner”. For me, my wife and son are my accountability partners. I can’t and won’t let them down.

5. Mediocre Circle of Influence:

This is simple. Hang out with people who share your interests and inspire you. You are who you hang out with. Look around at your friends. If they are not motivated to do anything, you most likely will be the same way.

6. Lack of Personal Development:

When I interview people for my team, I always hear the standard phrases “I love learning and I want to grow”. My response to that? “Wow. That is great. So, tell me what have YOU done in the past year personally or professionally to grow your skills and develop yourself?” Easy answer here: READ BOOKS.

7. Lack of Urgency:

One of the best pieces of advice my dad has ever given me was this: “Jeff, as a salesperson all you got is time”. I have taken that and applied it not just to sales, but life. You cannot waste time doing things that will not move you towards your goal.

Step 3: Draw your line in the sand

Today is your day. It is your moment. No more BS. We are going to change who we are today. It’s that simple.

5 Step Snooze Proof Wakeup Strategy

Step 1: Set your intentions before bed

Step 2: Move your alarm across the room

Step 3: Brush your teeth

Step 4: Drink a full glass of water

Step 5: Get dressed in your workout clothes

Life S.A.V.E.R.S a morning routine for anyone to use:

  1. S – Silence
    • Meditate
  2. A – Affirmations
    • Write down how you want to live each day. Check out my affirmations here: www.wakeupitsdayone.com/day-one-ritual/
  3. V – Visualize
    • See your day ahead and visualize the success you’re going to have
  4. E – Exercise
    • Run, do sit-ups, do push-ups, running in place, lifting weights, treadmill, running outside, lifting a 5-pound dumbbell. Just do something to get your body moving.
  5. R – Reading
    • Read a book, article, blog, or anything that interests you.
  6. S – Scribing
    • Write your thoughts about anything. It is an excellent way to see your progress, capture ideas, gain clarity

How has this book impacted me?

I have been getting up early for work since I started my first job. For me, this book cemented what I had been doing for quite some time but also taught me how valuable a morning routine is. I used to get up early just because I didn’t like to work out at night. Now, I have a purpose to get up. I built out my own routine based on the strategies in this book which includes reading, reflection, and a motivational video. The result has been amazing. My colleagues have wondered why I seem to have so much energy, and I owe a lot of that to Hal’s book. I am so grateful I read it because as I get older it is harder and harder to get up which makes my morning ritual more important than ever.

Check out my step-by-step morning ritual on www.wakeupitsdayone.com/day-one-ritual/

Now, WAKEUP! It’s Day One. It’s time for you to build your morning routine! Purchase the book here!

Step 1: Believe in Yourself

“For twenty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt of yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life” – Carol Dweck Author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Here is the thing: Life is all about perception. Plain and simple. From the instant you were born, you opened your eyes and everything you saw, heard, and experienced from then until now has shaped your view of the world. This directly correlates to how you see yourself fitting in.  You likely form these types of thoughts in your head: ‘I am not smart enough to do this’, ‘I don’t have the skill’, or ‘other people are just naturally better at it than me’.

And unfortunately, that is precisely what stops you from achieving your potential. YOU. Before we talk about making choices and taking action, we need to start with the actual stem of the problem – the way you view yourself.

The reason you might have these negative views is because of thoughts Carol Dweck says we have:

“We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary” – Carol Dweck Author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

In my post on Monday, I shared with you Carol Dweck’s idea that humans have two mindsets: Fixed and Growth. People with a fixed mindset think they can’t change and they were born that way. The growth mindset believes that you can improve your skill and intelligence with hard work and effort every day.

Pretty simple concept. Right?

Well, sadly, that’s typically not the case. It is shocking how many people I hear and see not believing in themselves or saying “I was just born that way.”

Let’s look at one person who most people should know and view as superhuman: Michael Jordan.

MJ is one of the many athletes that have a mindset that put them in a class of their own. When I think about it, it’s hard for me to honestly believe he is actually human… but he is.

After reading several biographies on Jordan and his coach Phil Jackson, I learned MJ didn’t start dribbling a basketball in the delivery room on the day he was born or dunk at his first birthday party. What I read is that he outworked everyone and nobody believes more in himself than Michael Jordan. That was the difference between him and everyone else. He knew what he wanted his end result to be, and he gave all the effort he could towards it.

Now, yes he grew to 6’6 and could jump through a roof. But let’s not talk about physical attributes because there are plenty of others out there who are 6’6 and have not come even close to Jordan’s success.

The moments that make him human and that we can all relate to are these:

As a sophomore in high school, he was cut from the varsity team. He was 5’10, could not dunk and 15 other kids made varsity over him. MICHAEL JORDAN. MICHAEL F-ING JORDAN. The supposed greatest basketball player to walk this planet failed to make varsity on his first try.

In another relatable moment, in 1993, his father passed away at a young age. Michael Jordan, the most competitive athlete, the best of all time, walked away from the sport of basketball. You know why? Because as great as he was, as mentally tough as he was; he broke down. The loss of his father broke him. Your first thought: MJ can’t be broken, not possible. Look at Game 7. Highest stage in his respected field. One shot. MJ is the guy who takes it and makes it. But nope, he gave up on basketball (and then decided to play major league baseball. We all know the story.)

How many times have you doubted yourself after you failed? Or how many times have you just not even tried because you figured, ‘I don’t have what it takes’? How many times have you faced a tough moment, and just given up? The answer for me personally would be A LOT. And unless you are not human, I would assume it has happened to all of us. Even people like Michael Jordan, who we view as superhuman.

The difference between MJ and you are not his physical attributes, it’s his mindset. He failed. He gave up, but yet he bounced back every time. What he did is something that is actually extremely simple. He did what most of us are afraid to do. And until we do it, we can’t achieve our potential.

He took the first step: He believed in himself and altered his perception of his abilities

If you are rolling your eyes or thinking, “Jeff, you are crazy. MJ is a legend. He worked hard, but he was born that way. It does not matter what he thought of himself. He is Michael Jordan.”

My response is that you are the crazy one. You keep waking up viewing the world in the same way and expecting a different result. That is called INSANITY. So, you keep living your life that way. While you do that, I am going to do the opposite, and try to think differently and expect a different result. That is what I call the beginning of a Day One mindset.

If you think that is harsh, great! It’s time to wake up. Do you think MJ started on his journey to become the greatest of all time by leaning on others to tell him that they believed in him? No. He began with changing his belief in himself. It starts with you. You are in control. First, you need to believe in yourself.

Do you think that when I launched this blog I felt that I was the only blogger or motivational voice on this planet talking about mindsets? No, I am one of a million. But if I believe in myself, my purpose, my values, and my end result; and I honestly give all the effort I have into this, nothing can stop me. Before I made a choice and took action to create this site, I started with changing my view of myself and what I can accomplish in this world.

Now, WAKE UP! It’s Day One. Anything is possible. It’s time to start believing in yourself.