Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Kid Going Off To College

This week we will drop our oldest daughter off at college.  I still remember bringing this little baby home from the hospital over 18 years ago.  We sat in the living room, staring at this 35-hour-old human being thinking "They made a mistake, they let us take a baby home all by ourselves".  

Being "Dad" to my two daughters has been a great journey.  They have taught me a lot about the world, and about myself.  They showed me that I must have heard my parents ongoing words of wisdom as I was growing up, because my own father's advice seems to come out of my mouth daily.

I am sad to see her leave home, but so proud of the ambitious young woman who is currently packing her suitcases.  She has a good head on her shoulders and a long list of life and career goals.  Some she will achieve, others she may not, but her own journey is going to be amazing.  I wish I had been as driven to succeed when I was her age.

Saying good-bye will be difficult, but she is ready to go to college and to launch her own life. Heck, she has been ready since the 4th grade.  

This week reminds me of my own departure from my parents home 31 years ago.  While I was not as much of an academic achiever as my kid, I did begin my life with gusto and built lasting friendships that have lasted to this day.  The first person I met in the dorm has become like a brother to me (He is my oldest kid's Godfather, and my business partner) and he and others from college shaped my life and inspired me to strive to my own levels of success.  My biggest hope for my daughter is that she will meet people of amazing character this week who will become the "forever friends" that will be with her long into the future.   Study hard kiddo, but never forget the power of relationships.

As we fly across the country to deposit her on campus and then leave her behind, I am sure I will be thinking "They made a mistake, they are letting us leave her by herself".  But this is no mistake.  This is the next phase of life for all of us.  

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Monday, August 17, 2015

Celebrate The People Who Matter

For two years the header at the top of this blog has included a quote from Maya Angelou: "Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option".

This is a two way street.  You should never expect people to give a damn about you if you are not showing them the respect they deserve.  To create relationships all parties must be engaged.  However, in our competitive and self-focused world there is often too little attention given to how we treat others.  Many are looking only at how they are treated.

When is the last time you told someone that they were awesome? If you cannot remember giving praise to co-workers, friends, family or others you encounter daily, today is the day to take action.  Giving compliments and letting people know they have a positive impact causes no harm and only brings good to everyone involved.

In my keynote speeches I talk about the power of  "Cooperative Significance".  Most people want to make a difference, but we cannot just proclaim our significance to everyone around us.  Others determine if we are making a difference in their lives.  There can be a chain reaction started by the good vibes you spread.  Remember the movie "Pay it Forward"?  

There are also two words that can heal bad feelings between friends: "I'm Sorry".  If  you have damaged a meaningful relationship through words or actions, most of the time this can be fixed by taking ownership of what you have done (or failed to do).  Do not let pride stop you doing the right thing.

I have written a lot about cherishing "Forever Friends", as too often temporary relationships dominate our lives.  While cool and interesting people will always pass through, the ones who should matter are the friends and family who are connected to the whole journey.  Those who share with you an ongoing commitment, in good times and bad, are the ones that need to be put front and center. 

Choose to be slow to anger and fast to forgive.  Let your love show. Make a decision to be nice.  Don't be a jerk.  You get the idea!

Who has made you a priority.  Celebrate them. 

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Friday, August 14, 2015

Don't Be Average - Be The Best You Can Be

40 Tips To Re-Invent and Re-Launch at Age 40, 50, or Beyond. (Tip #16)

If you want to make a change, be committed to being the best you can. Do not settle for being average.

Recently I interviewed fitness expert Greg Barth on "The Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do Podcast".  At age 40 Greg transformed his fitness and life.  In the conversation he said he got tired of being average, and made the decision to be the best he could be when it came to his health.  He lost 25 pounds and became a fitness trainer, inspiring others to get healthy.

This dedication translated to all areas of his life.  Greg now is achieving more in his personal and professional life.  He is building a business, being a great dad, and reaching the highest levels of personal performance.

His words about not settling for average behavior have lingered in my mind.  I have many areas where I have allowed myself to be comfortable with my actions, as they are good enough.  But am I pushing myself to live at my highest levels?  No.

If you are seeking ways to re-invent and re-launch, doing so with 100% commitment to being the best YOU that you can be is paramount to success.  You cannot let average satisfy your soul.  Fitness, diet, relationships, business, recreation, etc... can be average or extraordinary.  The difference rests in our mindset.

Reading this you might be thinking these are great ideas, but how do I put them into action?  This will be easy from some people and more difficult for others.  The key to unlocking your commitment to excellence is in observations, review and actions.  If you are not paying attention to and considering your efforts, then you cannot improve.  It is hard to question yourself constantly, as sometimes you will not like the answers.  But measuring and assessing your progress is the path to self-improvement.

Realizing that it wont happen all at once, and that I will fail at points along the journey (and that is okay) has helped me move forward on my own growth.  But this new dedication to not allow average to be enough is motivating me to keep going.

Good Luck.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Re-invention is a Lonely Journey

40 Tips To Re-Invent and Re-Launch at Age 40, 50, or Beyond. (Tip #15)

When you want to make changes in your life and re-invent yourself there is a lot of time spent examining the mistakes you have made along the way.  If you are honest, these blunders can be painful to think about.  However, at the same time there is a freeing feeling in the work of self-improvement. 

Most of us do not spend much time thinking about our flaws, but we all have areas where we come up short.  The hardest part of embracing change and seeking ways to start fresh in your behaviors, habits, thoughts and actions is that once you peel back the curtain, there may be more areas where you have fallen short than you are prepared to embrace.

Early in my efforts to re-invent myself I was excited.  There was a sense of pride in the mistakes I have made as they were a sign of being human.  We all fail and I was cocky about my willingness to look at my faults.  But the more accustomed I got to admitting my weaknesses, the more prevalent they became.

It bummed me out.  Life has been fairly good and I had always self-identified as someone who had his shit together and made good choices.  Sure, I knew I wasn’t perfect, but I had viewed myself as a fairly decent fellow.  While my faults are not huge character blunders or morally offensive, the things I can improve became numerous.  This was both scary and sad. It made me question many things, including the wisdom of tackling a re-invention.

Several times I have said that re-invention and re-launching is not for the faint of heart. This is proving to be more true than I had imagined.  One has to be prepared for the emotional heartache that can come with working on improving how you live your life.  The reality of your faults can be hard to carry, and the reactions or indifference of the people around you can be hurtful.  You want to celebrate the small wins, but others do not care.  Society expects huge change or your entire efforts are suspect.

My biggest lesson from trying to implement change in my life is that re-invention is lonely.  Many of the highs and lows of working to discover how to be a better person are witnessed in solitude.  You want others to be with you, but they are not always present, even when nearby. 

Some people get nervous about your efforts because it makes them see their own life being stuck in limbo, and they are not ready to face their own issues.  There are people who find their own self-importance in your flaws, and you erasing those can cause them to lose their own identity.  Others are too busy doing their own thing to notice what is happening in your life.  

Finding people who will support in your journey is not easy.  I recommend it, but they are not easy to identify.  If you want to make changes, be ready to face much of the burden alone.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Friday, August 07, 2015

Cool Things My Friends Do (Week #134) - Leave Room For Edits (Awesome Advice from Jessica Pettitt)

Each week on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their personal and professional lives.

This video is my friend Jessica Pettitt delivering a short talk  at Influence 2015.  This is worth watching, and one you may want to share.  

We all judge people, and she says that is okay.  But Jess advises that when you write a story about someone.... "Leave Room For Edits".  


This is week #134 for "Cool Things My Friends Do".  What do your friends do?

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Here They Go Distorting The Word "NETWORKING" - Again!!!

There is a recent article in Fast Company called "How to Stop Networking and Build Real Relationships" that is all fluff and mirrors.  The author describes "networking" as using people and self-promotion.  This is just wrong.

The definition of networking is "the creations of long-term and mutually beneficial relationships where all people involved in the relationships find more success".  This is not using, in fact it is what he is claiming people should be doing to find business success.

Had this author not abused to word "networking" to fit his needs, his article should have been titled "Stop doing selfish crap and start networking".  Boom.  That would be a good article.

Many people who want attention in the world of teaching business relationship skills like to make networking an evil term.  They either do not understand what it is all about, or worse, they do understand but are manipulating their readers with false truths. 

Creating long-term and mutually beneficial relationships is what they claim to teach.  Instead of writing misleading articles, why not write about how people can stop doing things that undermine their reputation and start serving their communities.  Pinning the problem on a word is silly, as the offenders never see themselves as guilty of doing things wrong.

I wonder why I blogged about this today?  This has been coming up for years, and I watch a parade of self-proclaimed gurus state "I don't network, I connect".  Yeah, yeah --- word manipulation gets attention and gets clicks.  I know.

Here is my advice.  Call it whatever you want, but get over yourself and start helping others find success and you will discover that you have an awesome network (or whatever word you want to insert) that leads you toward success.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Friday, July 31, 2015

Toronto Segway Tour Was Awesome

The family vacation to Canada was a huge success.  Quebec City, Montreal, Niagra Falls, and Toronto over 10 days was fast paced and we covered a lot of ground.  We recommend a Canadian adventure to everyone: Amazing cities, nice people, great food, and lots of things to see and do.

A highlight of the trip was Segway Ontario (Oh yes, we are "those" tourists who did the Segway Tour!!!). Most of the family had been on Segways in the past, but our youngest daughter had never had the opportunity.  You have to be at least 13 to ride Segways in most cities that have such tours, and before this year Kate was too young.  When we heard about the tour of the historic Distillery District near Downtown Toronto, we singed up.

(***Tip:  Sign up in advance online.  We did three days in advance and found most of the time slots during our visit to already be filled).

The tour guides, Eric Bell (listed on his business card as "professional guide and longboarder") and Jill Sullivan (Listed on her business card as "book enthusiast") were both knowledgeable and fun.  They spent just over an hour teaching us to ride the silly machines, and then educating us on the Distillery District.  Turns out this area and the 150+ year old buildings have a colorful history.  We heard things we never would have known had we just roamed around this destination shopping and restaurant area.  Heck, we even stopped for samples of locally made chocolate and local craft beers (who doesn't love beer and chocolate?).

We did one-hour tour and my only complaint was it was too short, so I am not sure if the 30 minute tour would as good of an option. Go for the longer version and enjoy the ride. 

If you are going to Toronto, you gotta check out Segway Ontario as you will learn more about the history of the city (yes history of booze, death, cholera breakouts, child labor, etc...) and have a lot of fun. While expensive for a family of four, everyone agreed it was one of the best parts of our time in Toronto (which was all great). 

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Self-Improvement Is Not Easy, But Can Set You Free

40 Tips To Re-Invent and Re-Launch at Age 40, 50, or Beyond. (Tip #14)

Reinventing is not for the faint of heart.  Once you are focused on the areas to improve, and you become aware of owning your mistakes, more flaws seem to appear.  Sometimes I think it would be easier to just live in denial and not work on creating a better self.

People are subtle. They do not bluntly show their disapproval of others. However, if you are paying attention, you will hear from others who you fail.  When you are open to self-awareness you are going to discover that you say and do things that do not always bring pleasure to co-workers, clients, family members, friends, etc...  It can be surprising how often we are selfish, say the wrong thing, are not tuned into the feelings of others, and react negatively to all sorts of issues.

It can be painful to become conscious of how you are not living up to your full potential and your personal views of your own being.  But it can also be great to find your short-comings.  It is important to realize that these negative areas (or failures) are not unique to you.  Everyone has faults and it is common for people to have areas that need to be fixed in their life.  If we think others are perfect (or at least close to perfect), then our own issues become a painful burden.  

This is why I spent much of my life ignoring my mistakes.  It was too hard to admit I missed the mark at in my professional and personal life.  Yet these days I find it fun to find a new way to improve.  If I am honest with myself, it is just part of the journey to fail, but the key for my re-launching of myself is that I have to learn from the past errors and not repeat them (or at least not repeat them too often).

This takes time.  Declaring a new direction does not make it happen.  Recreating patterns takes a massive commitment and repeated actions. Self Improvement is never easy, but it is both fun and freeing.  Understanding that you are a work in progress makes the weight of mistakes much lighter, and knowing you are not repeating the bad things can create a sense of anticipation for the future.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Cool Things My Friends Do (Week #133) - 51 Professional Speakers Earn The CSP

Each week on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their personal and professional lives.

The National Speakers Association 
Certifies 51 Speaking Professionals

The National Speakers Association (NSA), the leading organization for the professional speaking industry, is proud to announce 51 professional speakers have earned the Certified Speaking Professional® (CSP) designation in 2015.  

And the cool part.... Many of these people are my personal friends!!!

Established in 1980, the CSP is the speaking profession’s international measure of speaking experience and skill. Little more than 12 percent of the speakers worldwide hold this professional designation.  I earned this designation in 2014 and am very proud of this achievement.... which makes it more fun to welcome other committed speakers into the club.

The CSP designation is conferred by NSA on accomplished professional speakers who have earned it by meeting strict criteria. CSPs must document a proven track record of continuing speaking experience and expertise, as well as a commitment to ongoing education, outstanding client service, and ethical behavior. The 2015 class of CSPs was honored during a ceremony on July 18 at the annual NSA Convention in Washington, D.C.

"The Certified Speaking Professional® (CSP) is the highest designation that can be earned by a member of the National Speakers Association or another association of the Global Speakers Federation,” says 2014-2015 NSA President Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE. “CSP is earned as a result of experience, education and competency in the speaking industry, which also includes input from clients and a CSP Review Panel process.  When clients hire a professional speaker who has earned the CSP designation, they can be assured the speaker brings to the table a high level of experience and professionalism.”

Yep, it is a big deal, and it is so cool to honor all the recipients and some of my dear friends on week #133 of "Cool Things My Friends Do".

Introducing the 2015 Class of Certified Speaking Professionals
(my friends are highlighted... but congratulations to all):

Ulrike Aichhorn, CSP, Salzburg, Austria
Diane Amundson, CSP, Winona, Minn.
Paul Burton, CSP, Hood River, Ore.
Christian Chua, CSP, Singapore
Todd Cohen, CSP, Philadelphia, Penn.
Sharon Connolly, CSP, Sydney, Australia
Rick Davis, CSP, Chicago, Ill.
Shirley Davis, CSP, Washington, District of Columbia
Mike Dilbeck, CSP, Fort Worth, Texas
Diane DiResta, CSP, New York, N.Y.
David Dow, CSP, Memphis, Tenn.
Helen Dyrkacz, CSP, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Marcus Engel, CSP, Orlando, Fla.
Candace Fitzpatrick, CSP, Plano, Texas
Jennifer FitzPatrick, CSP, Kent Island, Md.
Anne Guignon, CSP, Houston, Texas
Steven Iwersen, CSP, Lenexa, Kan.
Randy Keirn, CSP, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Shawn Kershaw, CSP, Chalfont, Penn.
Susan Leahy, CSP, Los Angeles, Calif.
Jennifer Ledet, CSP, Thibodaux, La.
James Lindell, CSP, Dousman, Wis.
Steve Lowell, CSP, Ottawa, Canada
Charles “Chip” Lutz, CSP, Sturtevant, Wis.
Wayne Messmer, CSP, Chicago, Ill.
Joseph Michelli, CSP, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Mike Moran, CSP, Ridgewood, N.J.
Paula Morand, CSP, London, Ontario, Canada
Cory Mosley, CSP, Henrico, Va.
Larry Ohlhauser, CSP, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Meredith Oliver, CSP, Raleigh, N.C.
Lethia Owens, CSP, O’Fallon, Mo.
Elaine Pasqua, CSP, Doylestown, Penn.
Eileen Pease, CSP, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Gil Penalosa, CSP, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Kathy Peterson, CSP, Storm Lake, Iowa
Bart Queen, CSP, Oxford, N.C.
Rochelle Rice, CSP, New York, N.Y.
Gary Rifkin, CSP, Dallas, Texas
Rhonda Savage, CSP, Gig Harbor, Wash.
Lauren Schieffer, CSP, Olathe, Kan.
Michael Schmidtmann, CSP, Warrenton, Va.
Robert Siciliano, CSP, Revere, Mass.
Sami Jo Small, CSP, Winnipeg, Canada
Marty Stanley, CSP, Kansas City, Mo.
Barbara Teicher, CSP, Lenexa, Kan.
Jess Todtfeld, CSP, Massapequa, N.Y.
Ricardo Vargas, CSP, Lisbon, Portugal, Spain
Sharon M. Weinstein, CSP, Chicago, Ill.
Lewin Williams, Sr., CSP, Las Vegas, Nev.
Dirk Zeller, CSP, Bend, Ore.

Have A Great Day

thom singer