Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Money: Do You Take It Too Seriously?

Steve Chandler’s Wealth Warrior has had a more profound impact on my attitude about money than anything else I’ve ever read.

I’ve now studied 7 of Steve’s books. They’re quick, easy reads because he uses a conversational style, and the chapters are short. But don’t be deceived by this simplicity. The points he makes are profound and potentially life-changing.

Steve tells stories about his own life that we can all relate to. He describes his flaws and perceived limitations so we can more easily recognize our own. He encourages us to challenge beliefs we cling to that have not served us – in fact, they’ve held us back.

His goal is to boldly serve those who follow his work. That means Steve’s not afraid to speak the truth, to rattle some cages. He wants to wake us up to what’s real, not our perception of what’s real. For example…

“A serious person is a wealth repellent.”

Wait, how can this be? Money is a very serious matter, right? If you don’t have enough of it, you can’t pay your bills. How can he possibly make this claim?

The incident he shared around this statement had a jarring effect on me. It opened my eyes for the first time in my life to the role that fun and playfulness can have when thinking about money.

Steve was about to enter a salary negotiation with his then-boss because he felt he was being paid far less than the value he was contributing to the company. He dreaded having the conversation because he was convinced the man was “an insecure, vicious miser” who would balk at his request. In his own mind, Steve felt justifiably worried about the man’s potential reaction.

Fortunately, he knew someone who understood the importance of having fun, a coach who did not see seriousness as a productive use of time or energy when it comes to producing wealth. Together they role-played exercises to prepare Steve for the meeting with his boss, and they were both laughing at the end of their time together. In fact, Steve reports that it was “one of the most fun encounters” in his life.

His dreaded meeting turned into a positive, friendly conversation where he received a very fair salary.

Steve felt the difference in his body and mind between having a serious attitude versus a playful attitude about money.

What about you? Is money a very somber subject for you?

Wealth Warrior is about so much more than getting past the fear and anxiety many of us have around money. Study and apply Steve Chandler’s insights, and you’ll be astounded at the transformations you experience in your thoughts and in your life.

“Most of us imagine that money and love come from outside of us. But they absolutely do NOT. They come from inner wisdom and strength. Getting this wrong can cost us an entire life of happiness.” – Steve Chandler

Monday, July 13, 2015

Is Your Heart at Peace or at War with Others?

Do you have  an ongoing conflict with someone in your professional or personal life?

If the tension and differences have been going on for a while, you’ve probably made a substantial list of things about that person you’d like to change. Maybe it’s their attitude or their approach, or certain words and actions they use. If they would just start doing X or stop doing Y, then your life would be so much happier.

What if there were something YOU could do that would dramatically improve the situation?

A profound book, The Anatomy of Peace by The Arbinger Institute, has the potential for that kind of positive impact, if you’re willing to look within, recognize your role in the conflict and change your mindset.

This statement from the book summarizes one of the core concepts:
“No conflict can be solved so long as all parties are convinced they are right. Solution is possible only when at least one party begins to consider how he might be wrong…The deepest way in which we are right or wrong is in our way of being toward others.

Unlike many books about conflict that take a more academic, didactic approach, this one reads like an engaging novel, using fictitious characters in realistic situations to convey the key points and lessons. In this case, two facilitators at a treatment center lead a two-day workshop with parents whose teenage children have just been admitted.

Very likely, you’ll find it impossible to read this book without thinking about ways that you’ve contributed to difficult relationships you’ve had in your life - even if, up to this moment, you’ve held the firm belief that the other person was at fault.

You’ll learn about four common styles of justification—different types of “boxes” you can put yourself in when dealing with conflict. Within a given box, you have a particular set of feelings and a distinct way that you view Yourself, Others and the World.

For example, in the “Better-Than” box, you can feel impatient and disdainful as you view yourself as superior and virtuous while seeing others as inferior and irrelevant.

Each of the other boxes – I-Deserve, Need-to-Be-Seen-As, and Worse-Than – contain their own unique elements that prevent us from seeing the other as a person, where we care enough about them to want to help them succeed. Instead, we view them more as an object.

One of the facilitators relays a story about dropping some lettuce on the kitchen floor as he was making a sandwich. Instead of reaching down and picking it up, he kicked it under the counter with his toe. He later acknowledges that from his “Better-Than” box, he conveyed to his wife that he saw her “as just unimportant enough that she should be the one to have to worry about that kind of thing.”

He followed up with a question that all of us can consider when we commit our own version of this offense: “How would it be to live with someone who thought of you like that?”

Some of our behaviors are so ingrained – we are so firmly entrenched in our box – that we are blind to the impact that we have on others. The authors refer to this a having “a heart at war” where we feel the need to blame others (whether silently or verbally) while justifying our own attitudes and behaviors:
“When our hearts are at war, we tend to exaggerate others’ faults, that’s what we call horribilizing. We tend to exaggerate the differences between ourselves and those we are blaming…We also exaggerate the importance of anything that will justify us.”

The goal is to create a heart at peace, where we put a stop to violating our own sensibilities toward another person.

One of the best ways to make this shift and get outside the box is to invest time in answering a series of questions designed to help you relate differently to a specific person.

  • What are this person’s challenges, burdens and pains?
  • How am I adding to these?
  • In what other ways have I neglected or mistreated this person?
  • What could I do to HELP?

Answering these questions helps to break you free from your justifications and blame because you being to see the other as a person again.

And once you recognize what you need to do, then you have to take actions that build the relationship. It can take time to re-establish trust and respect. The effort will be worth it.

These same questions can be used to solve conflicts in larger groups – across families, communities and even nations.

If you’re interested in building the strongest relationships possible with the people who matter to you, read and apply the powerful wisdom of this book.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Situational Leadership for Dummies

Today I'm featuring a guest post by Henna Inam, a colleague whose outstanding new book, Wired for Authenticity, is a must-read for leaders.

This past Sunday I got to spend a few hours as a “dumb blonde." It taught me some great lessons about authentic leadership. As an executive coach, I often work with clients to expand their leadership behaviors. As leaders we often get stuck within a narrow range of leadership behaviors. This can derail us because different situations call for different leadership behaviors.

You are naturally decisive and move fast but a business challenge you face requires you to slow down and build alignment. Or you are naturally good at collaborating with others but a business situation requires you to take a hard, unpopular stand. The most authentic leaders have access to a wide range of leadership behaviors because they have embraced all of who they are.  

Here’s what embracing my inner “dumb blonde” taught me about situational leadership and being more authentic as a leader.

The Dumb Blonde Experiment

This experiment was for a class I was taking to deepen my executive coaching skills. Each member of the class got assigned the task to play the opposite of their usual persona (how we show up in front of others). My classmates identified my persona as smart, driven, focused, efficient, and articulate. So I got assigned the task of being a “dumb blonde” (no offense intended for any blondes reading this).

Now, you’d think that for someone who had a 4.0 GPA in college and spent Saturday nights at the library with my “Principles of Corporate Finance” book, playing dumb blonde would be really tough. Not so. Being a dumb blonde significantly improved my ability to be a better executive coach.

Here’s how it worked. In the role-play, being a dumb blonde as a coach meant that:
  • I didn’t have to have all the answers. It created a great space for my clients to step up and have the answers.
  • I asked simple questions: “Wow, I don’t understand. Can you like say more?” This allowed for introspection from the client.
  • I gave up my own focus on getting the coaching objectives met and let the client drive according to their agenda. It created stronger accountability from the client.
  • I had more fun (I guess it’s true what they say about blondes having more fun!). I didn’t have to be so responsible. There was more laughing and relaxing and that is when creativity emerged. The client had more fun. Really!

The Big Surprise

The big surprise for me was that I didn’t have to take a class, read a book, or practice hours of new behaviors. I just had to step into my own inner dumb blonde.

You see, we have all kinds of skills and behaviors in our arsenal. We mostly don’t access them because we have a fixed identity (or persona) for ourselves in our mind. We are capable of so much more when we give ourselves permission to be someone different – perhaps a part of ourselves that we have written off or disliked for a long time. The right behaviors just emerge.

Three Steps to Practice This

So how do we as leaders access more of the parts of ourselves that we need to develop?

Step 1: Identify a specific work situation where you are stuck or not being as effective as you would like. Our natural instincts when we are faced with something that’s not working is to do more of what we’re already doing – instead of stepping back to do something different.

Step 2: Step back and evaluate your behaviors. Pick the behaviors you need to practice more of. For example:
  • If you need to be more assertive, find your inner Donald Trump.
  • If you need to be more compassionate, find your inner Mother Theresa.
  • If you need to be more daring, embrace your inner James Bond 007.
  • If you want to learn to put yourself first, find your inner “Diva”.
  • If you need to be more flexible, find your inner “beach bum”.
  • If you need to be more of a rebel, find your inner twerking Miley Cyrus.

Step 3: Practice a role play with a friend. Have fun with it.

It’s amazing what we learn about ourselves when we give ourselves permission to be a different character. For one, I discovered that the world didn’t end when I wasn’t in control. Imagine that! The exercise expanded the range of how I coach. It doesn’t mean that I am any less smart, committed and responsible. It just means that I don’t have to be that. I am more at choice.

Practicing behaviors we need “more of” help them be more accessible to us in business situations. As we embrace the parts of ourselves we have written off, we discover our true authenticity and inner power.

Henna Inam is the CEO of Transformational Leadership Inc., and author of Wired for Authenticity - now available on Amazon. Learn more about her work at transformleaders.tv or connect with her on Twitter @hennainam.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Are You a Time Warrior?

 “The best futures get created in the present moment.”
– Steve Chandler in Time Warrior

I just finished reading the last “time management” book I’ll ever need.

Actually, referring to Time Warrior by Steve Chandler as that kind of book is a misnomer. Because it’s so much more.

Chandler nails the culprits that prevent us from getting the most from each day, such as:

  • A need to please and be liked by others 
  • Self-doubts about our ability to get organized or accomplish our goals
  • Wrong-headed belief that procrastination is a permanent character defect
  • Lack of a strong purpose or mission
  • Failure to simply get started on the first step of a project

The solutions Chandler outlines are simple yet brilliant, and they’re EASY to implement. A few examples…


Chandler challenges the reader to consider that poor time management is always a problem of belief.  What thought are you believing about a specific task or project that makes you unwilling to even start?

If you’re not open to challenging the assumptions and beliefs you carry around, you’re more likely to continue suffering from procrastination. Unexamined self-doubt and fears can paralyze your mind and body.


We know it’s important to give our full attention to the task at hand, without interruptions or distractions. But I tend to think I need to move fast or speed up to get more done. Chandler advises relaxing and slowing down.

He illustrates with a powerful story of a coaching client who booked a $3,000 speech with a company and then started rushing around looking for new business in other organizations. Steve encouraged him to slow down and think about this one company, to consider other ways he could be of service. The man set up meetings with other executives in the organization and asked questions that uncovered additional needs. As a result of these interactions, he expanded his work to a full year with twenty times the original income. Just by slowing down and taking time to focus on this one client.

Also, achieving focus in your work requires boldness. You have to be willing to say “no” to anything that interferes with the objectives you've identified.


Chandler stresses that action is always the answer. And he makes it easy to get started by encouraging you to devote just three minutes to your task. This prevents you from finding reasons to put it off.

The more things you complete, the more energy you have. Procrastination drains your energy – you’re preoccupied with thinking instead of doing. You’re worrying and experiencing negative feelings related to the thing you don’t want to do. If you just jump in and finish one piece, your energy shifts.

Keep it creative and simple by asking, whenever you feel stuck: What needs to be done now in these three minutes?


You only have NOW. Fear comes from living in the future in your mind.

Steve Chandler has often found that his clients’ greatest opportunities are right in front of them…in the very next conversation they’re about to have. But they will miss seeing it, much less take advantage of it, if they’re preoccupied pursuing their “better future.”

You can start fresh every day, creating the future you want now and commit to living it today.

Eliminate overwhelm by thinking about just the one thing you are working on at this moment.

“A time warrior is a peaceful warrior still. Peacefully taking a sword to all those negative, frightening, depressing thoughts that are automatically believed…so that a great, timeless active day can be created.” 
– Steve Chandler

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Are You Leading with GRIT?

No, I’m not talking about the determination and resolve you need when taking on a challenging project or trying to tough it out through a difficult time. That kind of grit is certainly required for anyone to succeed in life.

I’m referring to the acronym that Laurie Sudbrink created in her terrific book, Leading with GRIT. In this context, GRIT® stands for the four elements leading the way to success…Generosity, Respect, Integrity and Truth.

Laurie’s consulting work with clients has been influenced by Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, which I summarized in an earlier post. In her book, she masterfully incorporates his teachings into her message, infusing them with her own style and adding her unique insights and applications.

As I read each chapter, I found myself nodding in agreement with the points Laurie made. Her style is conversational and engaging, so I was drawn in. I thought about how each of the four elements applied to me. For example, the chapter on Integrity helped me recognize ways that I get out of integrity with myself, when my actions are not aligned with my stated values or goals.

I love gaining a deeper understanding of my motivations, attitudes and beliefs. Laurie helped me do that through her stories, questions and models.

Laurie’s models were depicted with easy-to-understand diagrams. She reinforced them throughout the book, showing how to apply them in specific situations. This was very effective and prevented them from being vague concepts or principles.

For example…

The Accountability Ladder makes it easy to see if your attitudes and behavior fall into the bottom rungs of a “reactive, victim, powerless” mode or the top rungs where you are “proactive, responsible, and powerful.”

Also, at the end of each chapter, readers are asked: “What SHIFT will you make?” 
S – Scan the chapter for topics you resonate with.
H – Hone in on just one or two with the greatest potential for impact.
I – Imagine the positive impact.
F – Figure out your plan for staying on track.
T – Take action NOW.

Answering these questions is a valuable exercise for any book, article, video or podcast you’re consuming. How will you actually apply the ideas you’re acquiring? Knowledge alone is just the first step.

This book is not just for people in official leadership positions. It’s a great read for anyone who’s willing to take an honest look within and learn more effective ways to identify and align with your truth so you can act with integrity, show respect to others and adopt an attitude of generosity with everyone you encounter in life or at work.

“When we align to our truth, we are more confident in ourselves, our decisions, and the results. We have clarity and direction. We are more efficient in the things we do. We decide and act, without wasting time wondering or even regretting after we’ve made the decision.” – Laurie Sudbrink

Thursday, April 2, 2015

How to Help Everyone in an Organization Become a Coach

When I got my first job as a supervisor, I was given no training on how to be an effective leader. I made a lot of mistakes. And I had absolutely no idea how to coach my direct reports on to improve their performance.

Unfortunately, what I experienced is not uncommon.

Companies often invest huge amounts of money and time training managers on the technical aspects of their job yet don’t make a similar investment teaching them how to lead and coach others.

As I read Thomas G. Crane’s excellent book, The Heart of Coaching, I got to thinking about how many folks (including me back then) could benefit from having a solid process to follow.

Tom Crane has written a comprehensive guide that has the potential to transform any company into one with a widespread “coaching culture,” where everyone in the organization is empowered with the skills and tools to provide coaching to each other.

Sound too good to be true?

It’s not, if you follow Tom’s simple three-phase model:

Phase 1 – The Foundation, where you establish a strong, positive relationship that serves as the basis for coaching.

Phase 2 – Feedback Loop, where you learn how to share behavior-based feedback and engage in a genuine dialogue.

Phase 3 - Forwarding-the-Action, where you create positive momentum and a sustained commitment to change.

One of the things I value most about the way Tom covers each of these phases is the clear picture he paints about HOW to perform the various coaching skills. He emphasizes many that I've come to realize are critical to building trust and establishing a positive coaching relationship, such as:

Listening, giving the person your full attention and demonstrating that you’re actually “getting” the message.

Asking open-ended questions, to avoid telling or giving advice and to learn more about the situation and the person’s current thinking.

Engaging in dialogue, to understand a person’s perspective in an effort to appreciate what’s important to that individual.

Giving constructive feedback, making sure it’s balanced, fair, respectful and behavior-based.

This book is an important read for internal coaches and coaches alike, so both groups understand what to expect and how to make the most of the coaching relationship. In addition to the model, Tom provides a wealth of tips and insights that ensure smooth implementation.

If you study and follow the profound wisdom of this model, you can help your company experience the kind of coaching culture where everyone engages in respectful coaching conversations that lead to better relationships, improved performance, and a place where people actually look forward to coming to work.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Tim Duncan and The Importance of Servant Leadership

Today I'm featuring a guest blog post by Quinn McDowell, a colleague whose passion for developing strong leaders, parents and young people matches my own.

Tim Duncan will go down as one of the 10 greatest NBA players of all time. He was a three-time NCAA Collegiate All American and Naismith Player of the Year at Wake Forest and then went on to become the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. Over the course of his 17-year NBA career, he has been selected to the All-Defensive Team 14 times and the All-NBA Team 14 times. Three times, he was awarded the NBA Finals MVP and twice the NBA Regular Season MVP.

Yet, for all his accomplishments, the lasting mark of his incredible 17-year NBA career will be his unique approach to leadership. Duncan’s decision to approach his leadership role with a servant’s mindset has played a huge role in the Spurs’ extended run of success. There are several key characteristics of servant leaders that raise the level of our teams and organizations.

Servant Leaders Are Flexible

Flexibility in a team context means that one person (player, coach, or parent) does not hold the organization hostage to their personal demands. Duncan could have easily vetoed trades for more talented players or demanded the Spurs play a certain style that was tailored to his preferences.

Instead, flexible leaders are able to objectively assess a situation and determine what is best for the entire group, not just their own well-being. Practically speaking, this could mean having to give up scoring a ton of points, sharing the spotlight with other talented players or being willing to admit that someone else might be able to provide a benefit for the team that you’re incapable of.

Servant Leaders Are Not Threatened by Others

To go back to the example of Tim Duncan and the Spurs, Duncan could have felt threatened by the arrival of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli. He could have given into the urge to hold onto his power and declare that the Spurs were “his team” and no one else’s (and by all accounts he had every right to feel that way).

Instead, he gave away his power, which allowed Parker and Ginobli to realize their potential on the court. This is one huge reason why the Spurs have been difficult to beat for the last decade. The team is stronger than any individual, and even the great Michael Jordan didn’t win any championships until he figured this out.

Success on the basketball floor is dependent on a team of individuals learning to become a cohesive unit. This cohesion is only possible when everyone feels support from their teammates. If Manu and Parker never felt that Duncan wanted them to become great, their growth as players would have been stunted.

Servant Leaders Understand Their Value

From an outside perspective it might seem that by taking this approach servant leaders are working against themselves by lessening their influence or power within a team.

In reality, just the opposite is happening. The more leaders can empower others, the more invaluable they become. Your value as a leader is directly tied to how well you can help others raise their level of performance. The truly indispensable leaders on any team are the ones that give away their power, influence, and personal prestige for the good of the team. Those kinds of leaders are rare, but those kinds of leaders make a difference, and those kind of leaders become truly irreplaceable.

Quinn McDowell is a writer, trainer and professional athlete. He has played in the NBA D-League, Australia and Spain, following his four-year career at the College of William and Mary. He is the founder of AreteHoops.com and desires to see coaches and players succeed with excellence. He currently resides in Palencia, Spain, with his wife Lindsey.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Flying without a Helicopter – A Book for Millennials, Their Parents and Their Bosses

Recently I was having a conversation about parenting with three people I love the most – my husband, daughter and son-in-law. This topic has immediate relevance for them since they had their first child in October.

Some interesting questions popped up about Alison’s growing up years…

  • What did Lee and I do to instill in her a sense of responsibility?
  • How did we prevent her from developing a sense of entitlement as an only child?
  • What did we teach her about money management so she would not expect us to pay for everything she wanted?

I had just finished reading Flying without a Helicopter by Joanie Connell, Ph.D., and was sharing some of the stories from her book.

Stories that did not paint millennials in a positive light.

Stories that surprised me because Alison falls into the millennials age group (born early 1980s to early 2000s) yet doesn't display the characteristics described by Joanie.

Many in this generation grow up protected and sheltered, entering the workforce:

  • with unrealistic expectations about opportunities 
  • unwilling or unable to accept constructive feedback about their work
  • afraid to take risks
  • with an expectation or need to be praised daily or even more often
  • without the communication skills necessary to work in teams

Joanie explains that these attitudes and behaviors are the result of “helicopter parents” who tend to hover over their children, trying to shield them from negative experiences, setbacks or failures, and make decisions on their behalf. The result is a generation of young people who have not developed the skills required for success in life and on the job.

Joanie Connell achieves something unique in this book. She’s able to talk to the parents and managers as well as the millennials themselves. Her message is important. She states that she wrote the book because she’s concerned that the leaders of tomorrow will not be prepared to lead effectively.

Her book shows the way for all those involved to help young people get ready for “REAL” Life:

RESILIENT – to stay engaged and maintain a positive attitude no matt what gets in your way
EMPOWERED – to be independent and confident, able to get things done
AUTHENTIC – to be aware of yourself, know your strengths and your imperfections, and to communicate genuinely
LIMBER – to be flexible in mind and body, to be creative, resourceful and able to switch gears quickly as the situation requires

She’s organized the book into 3 sections: Problems, Solutions and Exercises. After you read the first section, you recognize with utter clarity the issues involved with this group of young people.

The rest of the book explains exactly what young workers can do to develop themselves in the critical areas…and what their parents and bosses can do to foster this growth.

I valued Connell’s truth-teller approach. Her writing style is simple, clear and conversational. Her stories and examples are powerful and memorable, drawn from her personal experience as a parent and as a consultant to a wide variety of businesses.

If you’re a parent, manager, teacher or young adult new to the workplace, grab a copy of this book and apply the recommendations. We need to ensure that our next generation of leaders have the skills they need to take risks, make good decisions and communicate effectively.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Emotional Intelligence Improves Millennial Communications at Work

Guest Post by Joanie Connell, Ph.D.

A mom confided in me she had gotten so frustrated with her 7-year-old daughter that she started crying. She said that once her daughter saw her crying, her daughter immediately stopped misbehaving and came over and held her to comfort her. The mom was beating herself up for letting that happen, but I offered a different perspective.

Look at what the daughter learned from that experience. Her behavior frustrated someone so much that it led them to cry. When someone cries it’s good to comfort them. And, the mom got over it and was fine after that. How empowering to the daughter to see how someone can get upset and get over it. How educational to understand how her behavior can affect the emotions of others and vice versa.

Emotions are at the root of human communication. In fact, it is widely believed that emotions evolved as a method to communicate. When we squelch emotions, we limit communication. The “poker face” is desirable in situations when we don’t want others to know how we feel. On the other hand, if we all walked around poker faced all the time, we wouldn't be able to interact with each other effectively. I coach business people on this frequently. To be effective communicators at work, we need to be able to express, interpret, and manage emotions.

The problem is many younger employees have been brought up in an emotion-deprived environment. Think about it. The PC movement has killed people’s ability to say what they think and feel. Schools now ban fighting and even ban words like “stupid.” When conflicts between students arise, their parents handle them. Kids are shielded from disappointment and showered with praise. “Everyone’s a winner” in sports and in the arts. By the time kids get to their first jobs, they haven’t experienced—or been allowed to express their experiences of—emotion.

Managers complain frequently that Millennial workers lack communication skills. Technology is often cited as the reason, but lack of emotional intelligence is another. How can managers help young employees develop emotional intelligence?

There are many great books, tools, and training programs out there and my new book, Flying without a Helicopter, is a great place to start. The key message is that emotions are core to communication and they need to be paid attention to. They aid us in building relationships, making decisions, and reducing conflict. Being in tune with our own and others’ emotions takes us to a whole new level of leadership in an organization. For people who have missed out on that training earlier in life, it is important for them to get it now. The good news about emotional intelligence is that it can be learned at any age.

Joanie B. Connell, Ph.D., is a talent management expert and career coach for people across job levels, ages, and industries. She works with companies to attract, develop, and retain top talent and she works with individuals to improve their success and happiness in their careers. Learn more about Joanie and her new book, Flying without a Helicopter online at flyingwithout.com.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Personal Strengths of a 12 Year-Old Boy

Ned, watching birds with his camera (photo by Charm Peterson)
Last weekend I was in charge of a bird-watching (aka “birding”) field trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The 100 participants ranged in age from 12 to 92. Talk about diversity!

Often when preteens or teens attend, they’re accompanying parents who are eager to introduce them to the world of birds.

In this instance, two 12 year-old boys brought their mothers along. I knew one of the boys, Ned, because he’s a member of our local bird club. He’s been an avid birder for two years and has accompanied my husband Lee and me for Audubon bird counts.

Ned is not like most boys his age. As I watched him in action over the weekend, I was awed by his maturity and the personal strengths he exhibited.

Ned doesn't use binoculars to look at birds. While this is a must-have piece of equipment for most birders, Ned uses his camera exclusively. He’s taught himself to expertly zoom in and out to view a bird and take a picture at the same time. Pretty ingenious. I've never seen anyone else do that.

People who are serious birders keep a list of birds they've seen. When they encounter a new species, they call it a “life bird.” Some folks count birds that they barely see because they’re eager to add to their numbers. Not Ned. He holds himself to a very high standard. He only counts birds that he can photograph. He wants documented proof that he’s seen a specific species. As handy as he is with his camera, he’s been able to get a shot of almost every new species he encounters.

The host hotel offered a hot breakfast every morning, starting at 6:00AM. My husband Lee and I arrived at 6:10 both days. Ned was already there, by himself (his mother and buddy slept in), finishing up his morning meal. No one had to prod this kid to get up. He wanted to make the most of his time, so he arrived at the earliest possible moment. After clearing his table off, he scurried out the door to stand on the large deck just outside the breakfast room, looking for birds and capturing pictures of the sunrise.

Unlike many kids who have the attention span of a gnat, Ned was able to be still for long periods at a time and just WAIT. Whether he was sitting on a bench waiting for the sunrise or out in the field waiting for birds to show up, he seemed to just enjoy the moment and relish in whatever came next.

Because of the number of attendees, we divided into smaller groups for the field trips. No matter which group Ned was in, he brought an infectious enthusiasm that spread to others. This young man LOVES birding. He’d rather do that than almost anything else. You won’t see him with any electronic gadgets, playing video games or texting his friends. When we’d mention species that we might see on a particular trip and it was a new bird for him, Ned’s excited face lit up the room.

Yes, Ned left quite an impression on everyone, a very positive impression. You might say he was a phenomenon.

He certainly inspired me to appreciate the beauty around me - and life in general - in a more profound way.

"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better." - Albert Einstein

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Experience Transformer: Dan Sullivan’s Formula

What if this happened to you?

Your flight has arrived in Atlanta, and you’ve connected with your limo driver. You set your briefcase in the top tray of his luggage cart while he places your other bags on the lower shelf. You arrive at the limo and get in the car while he puts the luggage in the trunk. After you arrive at your hotel, you discover the briefcase is not there. When you tell the driver he forgot to pack your briefcase, he denies it was in the cart. At this point, you insist that he take you back to the airport so you can search for the briefcase. He reluctantly agrees to do so.

What thoughts would be going through your mind on the way back to the airport?

This situation actually happened to Dan Sullivan, founder of Strategic Coach.

As I heard him describe the details of this incident in episode 47 of 10xTalk podcast, I imagined the anger and frustration that I would have felt if I’d been in his place.

But Dan took a different approach. He applied the steps of his “Experience Transformer” process, which resulted in very positive outcomes.

And not just because he found his briefcase.

Even more importantly, he adjusted his perception of the experience so he took away valuable insights that influenced his handling of future situations.

Before going through his steps, first recognize that the unexpected is going to happen. That’s life.

How you respond and process the event will have a profound on your confidence and your experience for days, weeks, or months.

Ask yourself these four questions – as you’re going through the incident itself or as soon afterwards as possible.

1. What worked in the situation? What went well?
It’s important to focus on the positive first so you calm down, acknowledge the good things and keep a balanced perspective. You don’t want to allow this incident to color the rest of your day.

2. What did NOT work in the situation? What went wrong?
Recognize what your role and responsibilities were so you don’t focus on blaming others. Writing down your answers helps to de-personalize the situation, giving you distance and perspective.

3. If you could go through this experience again, knowing what you know now, how would you do it differently?
Brainstorm a series of fresh approaches because now you have experience and wisdom that you didn't have before. You free up your creativity because you've gotten past negativity.

4. What’s your “Game Plan” for next time?
Based on your responses to #3, organize your actions into a sequence so you have a new framework for responding to similar situations in the future.

Imagine if you used this approach with someone on your team or with a family member when mistakes are made. Instead of engaging in blaming, defending or other non-productive behaviors, together you review what happened and prepare for handling the situation differently (and more effectively) in the future.

This approach is similar to the 5 Magic Questions in the Reflection step of our ProStar Coach system. It really works!

Listen to the full 30-minute podcast to learn the fine points of Dan’s exercise and use these steps the next time you’re going through an unexpected, undesirable situation.

“Your brain really loves this kind of thinking because it integrates an experience into a lesson.” 
- Dan Sullivan

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Judy Robinett: A True Power Connector

A few years ago I got a phone call from a woman I’d connected with on Twitter. She had been following my blog and the blog of my business partner, Denny Coates, and said she was very impressed with our content. She said we were the kind of people she liked to connect with. Of course, I liked her immediately!

She proceeded to ask lots of questions about our focus and business, expressing genuine interest along the way.

Then she told me she wanted to introduce me to a couple of people she’d recently met on LinkedIn. True to her word, she followed up afterwards with emails to me and these individuals, explaining why she thought we should know each other.

She said she considered herself a “power connector” and took great joy in bringing people together.

After that initial conversation, she emailed me regularly, sending articles she thought I’d be interested in and recommending associations that could lead to some positive new contacts.

I was impressed. But then we lost touch for a while.

Fast forward to November 17, 2014, when she was the featured guest on my favorite podcast, I Love Marketing.

When I saw her name – JUDY ROBINETT – I made listening to that interview a top priority because I just knew it would be packed with valuable content. And it was.

Judy delivered a wealth of actionable ideas, and even the hosts, Joe Polish and Dean Jackson (master connectors themselves), were taking notes.

I clicked over to Amazon and ordered her book, How to Be a Power Connector: The 5+50+100 Rule for Turning Your Business Network into Profits, before the end of the interview. If she delivered this much useful information in just an hour, I was confident that much more awaited me in her book.

And I was right.

In fact, I was astonished at the comprehensive, yet simple, system she maps out in her book.

Even if you don’t aspire to be an over-the-top power connector like Judy, her book contains absolutely the best approach I’ve seen for helping you think strategically about forming alliances with others.

An often-repeated theme throughout the book is to adopt a “giver” mindset. She advises you to seek first how you can add value, value, value and more value to others before asking for anything.

She exemplified this approach in her initial call to me, and she’s continued refining the process ever since. In fact, her book reflects 25 years of practice and refinement. She has emerged as a true master of her system.

The core idea is 5+50+100. 

You make a list of all your current connections and then organize the top 155 into 3 power circles.

Top 5. Your innermost circle is composed of the individuals closest to you, usually close family, friends and business associates. These are people you’d trust your life with.

Key 50. These are friends and associates you can call on for help or advice—and they know they can do the same with you.

Vital 100. You want this group to be diverse, with a wide variety of locations and roles.

Judy provides all the details for preparing, connecting, engaging, providing value and deepening these relationships. She explains exactly how to build a robust network that’s deep, wide and diverse.

Throughout the book, she provides examples of how she has implemented her own system over the years. She has ingrained these skills to the point that she automatically looks for ways to connect people with others who can help them solve their most pressing problem or need.

No one operates in a vacuum. You need positive relationships to get things done, whether it’s running your own business, leading a team, or tackling a challenging project. Judy’s book teaches you how to achieve the kinds of meaningful relationships and connections that positively impact everyone involved.

“Every person has a gift to give and receive, and every person has problems that he or she needs help to solve. When you engage with others by looking for their gifts and problems, and when you seek to understand and add value consistently, you will build the kind of profound relationships that will enrich both of your lives and businesses.”  
– Judy Robinett in How to Be a Power Connector