Sunday, June 29, 2008

Create Your Own Positive Energy

While watching my daughter go through her blackbelt testing I was amazed by the positive energy that was created. The Master began the session by stating that the Chi, the life force, the flow of energy that he puts into their training was absent from the room, and that the blackbelt candidates would have to create this themselves. They would need to reach deep inside their souls, encourage each other and work together to make it through the four to five hour exam.

It was hard for the students in the beginning, as their exam was grueling... but as the time went by, they all seemed to gain more strength, not less as they worked out at a very demanding level hour after hour. They created the Chi and it helped them all succeed.

Even when we are not being put to the test for a major life accomplishment, like a blackbelt in the martial arts, we should still want to have this kind of energy in our life. We have all experienced people whom have the ability to "suck the life" out of a group, and we also know people who energize all those they encounter. Thus, I hope you do not dismiss this post as some sort of touchy-feely pontification, but instead look at how personal positive energy can impact all you do.

Surrounding ourselves with positive people who share our goals makes everyday much more exciting. In a company, if people just show up and go through the motions, it can make days long and painful. But when we are all in sync and looking to succeed, everyone has more fun, and more success follows.

Hoping for personal positive energy will not make it happen. You must seek out ways to attract and create your own Chi.

Eight Ideas To Help Find Personal Energy:

1. Be Focused / Visualize Success

Know why you get out of bed each day. Have a plan for how you intend to reach your goals, and do not allow the "buzz" of distractions to knock you off course. See in your mind what success looks like and when you get knocked down, get back up and back on course. Nothing can give you power like a clear and focused plan to achieve.

2. Surround Yourself With Great People

Human beings are social creatures. We long to connect and interact with other people and instinctively react to each other. If you surround yourself with those who emit positive energy, you will find that you become re-charged. The converse is also true, those who are in a negative place all the time will bring you down. Seek out people whom find the positive in others, not those who gossip or degrade. Be part of a team that has goals and celebrates the accomplishments of everyone. Your energy is a mirror of those closest to you.

3. Avoid Worry

Bad things do sometimes happen. Yep. But do not spend your time engulfed in worry about what COULD go wrong. Be cautious and do not take ridiculous risks (some risk is good) that will cause problems, and then go on about your life. If something bad does happen, you will need to deal with it at that moment, but never allow you mind to wander and waste your time on things that will most likely never occur. Worrying will deplete your energy.

4. Physical Activity

Be engaged in some form of regular physical activity. This not only allows you to condition your body and build stamina, but it also helps your mind stay focused. Conditioning your muscles helps you create more energy. Ever hear the expression "the more you do, the more you can do"? It is true.

5. Know What Others Expect From You

When you work closely with others it does not make you a mind reader. People all have expectations of others, but if these are not clearly stated and understood, then problems will arise. Take the time to ask the people in your life what they expect from you so that your actions are leading you toward success. Mis-directed efforts send your energy into the sewer.

6. Be Grateful

All opportunities come from people. Nobody achieves much alone on an island, but sometimes individuals forget that their success comes from working together with other people. We need to take the time to be grateful for our achievements and the assistance of those people in our life who helped contribute. Take the time to not only say thank you to people, but also to contemplate all the good that surrounds you. Positive energy seems to be drawn to those who are grateful. I have found the more I acknowledge my thankfulness into the universe, the more good things happen.

7. Serve Others

There are few things as energizing as making a difference in the life of another person. Find ways to put your own needs and desires aside from time to time and do for others. Have what many call a "servant's heart" and be a force for good in the lives of your family, friends, co-workers, and strangers. Those people whom I know who do for others are the ones who have the highest level of contentment in their lives. Money and material things aside, there is a richness in the personal energy that comes from doing something good.

8. Enjoy Everything

Everything in the world is made up of the positive energy we seek. If you just take a minute to enjoy the beauty in all around you, a discovery of life's force energy is eminent. We get distracted by deadlines, responsibilities, misunderstandings, and all the standard BS that clouds our minds. But even in the negative things there is a lesson to be learned, and a silver lining. Look for the positive energy that is sometimes masked. Find joy in everything you do. You choose how you react to all you encounter, so stop blaming others, and begin to live within the flow of Chi.

Have A Great Day


Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Letter to Me

I am not really a country fan, thus I can tell you I had never heard of Brad Paisley before.

This morning the radio kicked on with his song called "Letter to Me", where he contemplates having the chance to send his younger self a note about how well life works out.

The song is visual and for anyone who remembers the difficulties of being a teen. The words speak out with amazing mental pictures of those things that seemed so important, but fade into just being part of your history.

Paisley has the video posted on YouTube, but has disabled the ability for me to embed it in my blog, so you will have to CLICK HERE if you care to hear the song. It is worth the five minutes, as it will make you think about your own life and see your personal triumphs and people who shaped you along your path.

I love the concept of being able to write a letter to myself, and send it to me at seventeen. I wonder if I would have the foresight to listen to the 42 year old Thom Singer. I hope that I would, but I know that I was stubborn, cocky and a dreamer (not unlike now)... and I am not sure that even advice from my future could help me map out an easier way. I know that you have to stumble in your own time to reach your goals.

What would you tell yourself? I can think of lots of things, but Brad Paisley hits most of it right on the button. I like this part of the song:

"You’ve got so much up ahead
You’ll make new friends
You should see your kids and wife
And I’d end by saying have no fear
These are nowhere near the best years of your life"

OH, and buy stock in Microsoft and Dell!

Have a great day


Friday, June 27, 2008

Hey Kids, Camp Counselors Say "Start Your Day With Sugar and Carbs!"

This morning I had a business meeting at a local Starbucks in South Austin, when two buses pulled up out front and dozens of kids ages 7-14 rolled into the coffee house. My friend and I were amazed to see the line of kids roll in on their way to day camp (counselors had tee shirts on that proclaimed the camp's name....but I have decided NOT to post it here).

Fortunately we already had our morning cups of coffee in hand when the tidal wave of kids rolled in, as several morning commuters ran back to their cars: sans coffee! However we were caught off guard that part of the camp's curriculum would include a stop at Starbucks for large Frappaccinos and baked goods.

Very little kids had giant sugar filled drinks (many could barely carry their goodies) with whipped topping and large cookies or doughnuts as they re-boarded their buses.

A glance at the camp's website proclaims: "We realize how important an active summer is to all children and encouraging physical activity is our mission at Camp {name withheld}!" Apparently that activity needs to be fueled by high doses of processed sugar and carbs to get the day rolling.

A visit to the Starbuck's website will show you that a Venti Chocolate Creme Frappaccino and a scone is over 112o calories. I am assuming that these young kids did not order caffeinated drinks, but actually I guess some of those Fappaccinos were probably also full of coffee shots under the mountain of whip cream.

Now don't get me wrong - I am not the nutrition police. Heaven knows I bring my kids to Starbucks or other places to get treats. Although usually not at 8:00 AM. AND when I send them to camp, I do not expect them starting their day with a stop at Starbucks for $7 worth of useless calories.

Anyway, my business friend and I had a good laugh over it, and we both know what local day camp NOT to utilize for our kids "active" summer fun.

Have A Great Day.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Get ON Your Soapbox

About a month ago I had the chance to meet first-time author Kimberlie Dykeman at the Bootstrap Publishing Sub-Group Lunch. The group brings together small gatherings of authors and would-be authors to discuss a variety of options on how to get a book published, and more importantly, how to promote the finished product (writing a book is hard, promoting a book is 1000 times more difficult!).

Kimberlie is one of those BIG personalities that you come across who lights up the room, and someone you do not forget quickly. Interestingly we have been in the same orbit since we met, as our paths have crossed half a dozen times.

Last night my kids and I attended her book launch party at BookPeople. Her new book, Pure Soapbox, is a series of 65 quotes (one shy of my lucky number/favorite number, 66) that are coupled with her "cleansing jolt of perspective, motivation and humor."

Quotes books are not new, but Kimberlie has taken the genre to a new level by kicking the reader in the pants with her interpretations and fresh insights on how people can tackle life and better strive for grasping their individual brass rings.

My 11-year-old daughter asked why were were going to the book signing, and I told her that when someone you know accomplishes something big, you celebrate their achievement. A packed house of Kimberlie's friends, family, clients and others packed the top floor of the book store and toasted her success of getting her book out into the world.

I read much of the book and find it full of nuggets of encouragement. My favorite quote also appears on the back cover, and is from an anonymous source:

"Having a dream that you don't pursue is like buying an ice cream cone and watching it melt all over your hand". - anonymous

In one of her shortest soapboxes she simply asks the reader "what shall it be? Chocolate or vanilla?...or a stack of napkins?". I know that people want the delicious treats in life, but far too often let their dreams melt away. Kimberlie is showing everyone, by example, how to embrace your life.

This is a good book to put on your nightstand and read one Soapbox each morning to help you seize the day. Carpe diem!

Here is my personal quote, maybe #66 in the next edition of her book. I would welcome her Soapboxian Quip expanding on my favorite line:

"All Opportunities Come From People" - Thom Singer

Have A Great Day.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Some Thoughts On Being Present, Having an Impact, and Gratitude

This morning I had breakfast with a good friend who always inspires me about career, community service, friendships, priorities and passion for life.

Eugene Sepulveda is the Executive Director of the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Central Texas, as well as an active community leader and servant. I have known Eugene for nearly ten years and over that decade I am continuously amazed that he can do so much for his job/foundation, community, friends & family, and still make time to sit down for an hour and be engaged in conversation.

When you talk with him, you instinctively understand that he is present in the conversation, and that he wants to see those around him succeed. His eyes tell the story that his mind is searching for ways to connect the dots and help others. Eugene is always willing to make suggestions and introductions that can bring people along on their personal path to success. He is a perfect example of a "Big Tent Thinker", who knows that there is always room for more good folks under his big top....and he wants those people to know each other.

This is an amazing trait - to be present with those you are talking and be in the moment while simultaneously looking to be of assistance. We all live in a busy world and there are enough responsibilities and pressures swirling around each of us to choke an elephant. Many people hide behind being "busy" and get nothing done.... however those who are the most "busy" never seem to have that excuse. They just do.

If you read Eugene's blog, Community Matters, you wonder when he has time to sleep. He is always somewhere, doing something, with other amazing people who are making Austin and the world a better place.

I had scheduled our breakfast to say "Thank You", as Eugene was very persuasive in convincing me to apply for the 2008 Leadership Austin Class, and he wrote my letter of recommendation for the program. Those who read this blog regularly know that my year-long experience in Leadership Austin was amazing, and I wanted to properly show my gratitude.

I am a big believer that when you express appreciation, the good flows back to you. Today was a great example, as his ideas, suggestions and advice for my career/job, community service and my author / speaking career were priceless. I was inspired because I think he understood my goals to achieve in all three areas, and it is good to feel understood and supported by your friends.

So I hope those who read here gain from this post two insights:

1. Become the type of person who is present in conversations and find ways to be the conduit for other people to clarify their own path toward success. When you do this, you will have influence. My friend has much influence in many arenas, and I know it is, in part, because of this ability he has to relate in such an easy manner.

2. Say "thank you" to those who make an impact in your life, and they will be impactful again. You cannot just receive without letting the giver know their actions mattered, or you run the risk of them never knowing they made a difference. What a loss for someone to not know their actions were a catalyst.

Have A Great Day.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

People Are More Than Avatars and Personas

Look around you at all the people. Everyone has their own set of problems, issues, concerns, and other B.S. that they do not tell you about, and thus, you never know what thoughts and emotions other people carry around in their minds. Yet we often don't think about this.

Even close friends and loved ones often do not know about sadness, worry, lost desires or frustrations. Society teaches early on that most folks are not that concerned with the bad stuff, so people tend to keep it to themselves. Someone who always leads with their problems finds themselves alone quickly, so they put up facades and greet people by saying things are "fine". It becomes a habit.

Yet, even when we are dealing with negative things, other people can have positive impacts on our lives. As human beings we have the amazing ability to bring joy to other people and to allow them to bring joy to our worlds. When people really care and connect, all the other stuff seems to matter less. We desire to matter to others and they too want our compassion and concern. But most erect walls around their minds and live in solitude. Even when people are connected, they still often do not share.

It is weird to think about, but this is true of most people. People rarely open their souls to those around them. They do not expose their inner self.

If you relate to the words you read here, then find your own way to join the ranks of those who want to dig deeper and cultivate stronger relationships. To do this you need to ask more questions of those around you. Discover their motivation and become a catalyst to help others move toward their desires. You also need to be more forthcoming about yourself with those around you, especially when they are inquisitive. To get others to share, you need to expose your heart as well.

I am actively trying to do this, and it is hard. When you ask questions, people can sometimes be suspicious or evasive in their answers. It is not easy to know what others need. You have to be willing to assist whenever the opportunity arrives. . But if you ask enough questions you will discover more about each person you encounter.

In today's superficial world of social online media, people tend to hide behind avatars and persona's. While Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter and other internet communications can speed up getting to know people, they can also lead you astray. We see what people want us to see and accept this as being a deep connection.

I have made many connections with people both in person and online, but when I think about it, only a select few do I really know....and those same few know me at the level of my soul. Yet when we bond with others at this level it is special, so expanding your inner circle can have a real impact on your future.

Look at everyone you encounter today and ask them something that will show you a glimpse of who they are inside. Never settle for the facade.

Have A Great Day.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Geoffrey Moore - Provocation-Based Selling

The Austin chapter of TEXCHANGE hosted technology industry legend and author Geoffrey Moore at their June meeting earlier this week. Moore, who is best known for his best seller Crossing The Chasm, shared with the audience his views on "Provocation-Based Selling".

300 people filled the hall to hear the guru tell the audience that in a down market they need to be prepared to steal market share from the competition. When you are selling disruptive technologies there is no budget allocation for your new product. Prospective customers could love your technology, but when there is no money, then you have to help them create budget before you can sell them anything.

Fear or greed is what will motivate buyers. You need to show them the cost of doing nothing, as disruptive products compete with the status quo. This is no "Glengarry / Glen Ross", where you can sit around awaiting someone to give you the "good leads" from their drawer, but in provocation-based selling you must have to get teh meeting with an executive who did not expect to meet with you in the first place.

To get these meetings you need to rely on referrals. Look to connect the dots and find the people who can and will take your message straight to the top. This is what we talk about all the time on The Some Assembly Required Blog! It is having evangelists that will lead you to creating opportunities where none existed.

Once in the door, the reality is that you must know all you can up front about the customers situation. Doing due diligence is not and option, as the seller must be account specific in all they discuss, and be forthright in addressing all taboo subjects that others avoid.

I enjoyed Mr. Moore's presentation, but was disappointed when he abruptly cut the Q&A short. He only took three questions from the audience and then was gone. I know the TEXCHANGE crowd, and expect that those in the peanut gallery were full of desire to dig deeper into the wisdom of this guy. I imagine that there could have been much more lively discussion about his theories and we would have welcomed his continuation of the presentation for a few moments longer. Oh well.

Have A Great Day.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Generation Z-Squared

Jason Alba at the JibberJobber Blog had a post about all the whining of Generation Y. I have written about this before, and think that with each new crop of young whipper-snappers, the older folks complain that they just don't have the work ethics of their forefathers.

Here is my reply to Jason:


Good post, but I do not think that this generation is any different than those that have come before. Sure, the technology has changed so fast that they get to be “cutting edge” coming out of college (there is a big shift now when your better tech equipment is at home than at the office. Think about that, when we all started working the best stuff was at work!), but “cutting edge” only takes you so far.

We all come out of school wanting to live large. We feel we have earned it, and look around at our “bubble” of our college and think we are so far ahead of everyone else. But a few years later the real world kicks in. Marriage, children, mortgages, college funds, retirement savings, aging parents, health care, the cost of random stuff, work pressures, bosses, employees, etc…. (the list is long).

What the young idealist discovers is that you have to make it all work, and to do that means that you have to show up at work on time, and work hard, and build alliances, etc… The lone ranger, do what I want mentality takes a back seat to the real world of responsibilities.

Look at the baby boomers when they were this age …”Don’t trust anyone over 30″ was their mantra. Now they are all pushing retirement in the next few years and they have a different outlook than they did as teens and young twenty somethings. Sure, they long for the idealistic days of the Summer of Love,…..but they have kids to put through college and parents to care for and busy careers, etc….

My guess is that in 20 years there will be a new crop of idealistic kids and journalists hungry for anything to write will lump them in as Generation Z-Squared and people will complain about their work ethic. Meanwhile, Generation Y will be living in the real world and wondering what hit them.

Have A Great Day


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

You Cannot Phone In The Power Of Business Relationships

Is you network working? If not maybe you are not making it a priority when you are in the trenches.

Many people invest hours in meeting people but never cultivate relationships that lead to business referrals. Establishing real partners is what networking is all about. Hiring a PR firm can get your name in the paper, but you need more than just press coverage, you need people to develop positive feelings about you and your company. To succeed with a powerful business network you must show up and make people a priority.

A network does not happen by accident. It takes time and effort to create and cultivate personal connections to people. It is easy to rationalize away the importance of networking, especially when you are busy and have lots of other life responsibilities. You can't phone it in, you have to be there with people if you want them to know you.

Take this morning for example. I have a very busy day scheduled and will leave my house at 7:00 AM and not return to my family until almost 10:00 PM. That is a long day by any standards. My first meeting of the day is a networking leads group that I belong to with some very impressive business professionals. The meeting is at 8:00 AM, and then I am scheduled to go give a training presentation to a law firm, then back to work to finish a big project, and my day will conclude with a MAJOR networking event and dinner. There is no down time in my day, and skipping the morning meeting seemed like a reasonable idea.

However, it is by participation in this networking group that I forge my bond with the other members. Sure, they would understand my opting out of today's gathering because I am busy, but it would not benefit me or my company if I was not present. I need to be there or I am not doing my job properly

This is the type of thing you need to do when looking at your busy scheduled.... do not just remove the networking meetings because you can. Instead look at these types of gatherings as equally important to all other items on your calendar, because they are. The other people who participate are counting on you to be in the room.

At this meeting someone could make a referral or think to introduce me to someone important. To not attend could mean I miss an opportunity. I think people miss chances all the time because they are not present. They forget that all opportunities come from people, and thus do not make others a top priority.

So alas, I will eat some breakfast and attack my long, long day with gusto. I hope you do the same!!!

Have A Great Day.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Still More On Being Respectful

I often check the results for my blog to discover what topics bring people to The Some Assembly Required Blog.

Interestingly, one of the most popular Google Searches that yields traffic is "being respectful of others". When you search this term, my blog post from April 2007 titled "On Being More Respectful" is the #1 site that pops up. This always makes me ponder what causes people the need to search for this concept. Is it that difficult to understand?

However, as I go about life I regularly encounter people who have no concept of how to properly treat other people. These baboons seem to act as if they are the Kings and Queens of the planet; entitled to belittle and take advantage of anyone who they choose.

If you have found this post because you are questioning how to be more respectful, the first thing is to call you parents and demand a full refund. This stuff should be taught early. However it is apparent that many miss this lesson. While at breakfast yesterday at a local IHOP a little girl of about three-year-old approached my daughter and tried to take a piece of her gum. The mother chastised the kid by telling her it was not appropriate to just take things from a stranger, but instead she should ask for a piece. WHAT? My kid was polite and gave the toddler a stick of Orbitz, but is it really appropriate to teach your child to approach strangers in a restaurant and ask for their personal stuff? YIKES. But it takes all kinds.

This type of entitlement is what makes it hard for folks to be respectful. You have to honor others (and their stuff) in order to act in a respectful manner.

This is not be difficult. Here are a few tips that can help anyone (even those who already know about being respectful) to treat others in the correct way:

1. Don't be jealous. Celebrate the success of others rather than coveting their victories. Just because someone else achieves something, it does not mean you lose. Create your own wins, don't worry yourself other theirs.

2. Do not argue over everything. Sometimes people have a need to be right at all cost and they will harass friends, family and everyone over facts and fiction. Those who are overly passionate about politics are often this way. They are so sure that their candidate or position is "best" that they cannot see the other person's point of view. Look at how you talk about such issues, and this will give you a good handle on how you treat others when in a debate. If you need to prove you are right, even if it offends people, then you might be the folks who are Googling "how to treat people with respect". You don't ALWAYS need to show up the next guy!

3. Show appreciation. All opportunities come from people. If you really think about what is good in your life, you can trace it back to somebody giving you a chance. Reach out to those people who impact you life (now or in the past) and say "thank you". When you make it a habit to give credit to others for your success, you will find you are more humble, and thus...more respectful. It is hard not to be respectful when you know you can't make it by yourself!

4. Be consistent. Do not let your busy schedule or a looming deadline allow you to justify treating others poorly. Always treat people with respect no matter what is going on, and it becomes easy. Too many in our busy society look at stress as an acceptable excuse for being a jerk. Nope, no excuses.

5. Laugh at yourself. We all make mistakes and everyone has quirks. Do not create self imposed standards of perfection or you will never get there. Those who are perfectionists have little tolerance for others and often blame those around them for all sorts of things. Best to be honest about your own short-comings and to laugh about them. Admitting your own faults usually makes you less judgmental about others.

Have A Great Day.


Friday, June 13, 2008

You Know You Work For A Great Company When They Serve Spice Cake!

Last week I missed the birthday celebration at work for three of us who were celebrating early June birthdays. There had been a lot of joking leading up to the big day as to what would be served for dessert at the lunch, as each of us had a different idea of the ideal cake flavor.

Gwen wanted apple pie (really, for you birthday?), Kathleen wanted a whale shaped ice cream cake (Fudgie the Whale??) and I wanted spice cake.

Alas, at the last minute I had to fly to California for my aunt's funeral and to help my father out with some other issues.... and the birthday fun at work went on without me. Yep, they had both pie and an ice cream whale!

Today my co-workers surprised me with belated birthday fun, complete with HOMEMADE spice cake cup-cakes. As it turns out, no bakery in Northwest Austin makes cakes in the worlds best flavor: spice cake! They had called around to a variety of sources only to be treated like some sort of cake hunting lepers.

The HEB Bakery actually responded to the question of "do you make spice cake cakes?" with the interesting answer of "No, but we do make lemon cream cakes". Huh? Ummmm RANDOM.

My very cool co-worker Kathleen (who is also a June 8th birthday, but is younger than she will point out) whipped up homemade cupcakes for the occasion.

Now that is a sign that you work in a great place. I always have known that vcfo was a great place to work, but the spice cake incident has taken it to a new level of good vibes. Not only did they not let my birthday pass unnoticed due to a family emergency taking me out of town, but someone went to the trouble to make my favorite flavor of cake by hand since it was not easily purchased.

Oh, and they were delicious!

Have A Great Day.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

How Much Do You Transmit vs. How Much Do You Receive?

When you are meeting with people, be cautious of how much you talk vs. how much you listen. Everyone likes to hear their own voice and share their opinions, so you must give people their chance to sing.

I am a talker, so I personally struggle with this one. When I was in 2nd grade I was constantly in trouble with the teacher for talking too much in class. (The funny thing is the teacher never told me that one can have a career as a professional speaker and be paid to talk. But talking to an audience is different than having one-on-one conversations). Elementary school teachers don't want kids talking out of turn, so many people learn to just sit quietly while others are talking. This makes it easy to have one way conversations, even though neither party desires this type of chat.

I come from a big Irish family where telling stories was a normal part of the family gatherings. As the youngest of 26 grandchildren, I honed the ability to spin a tale early at my grandparents table. I have fond memories of listening to my aunts, uncles and cousins make the whole crowd laugh with how they shared life's anecdotes.

Being able to speak is a valuable skill, but so is knowing when to listen.

A couple of years ago I met someone for the first time and talked too much during our meeting. This person was offended and told some mutual friends about his impressions of me..... in a very unfavorable light. I have a different memory of our time together, and thought he was very guarded (almost rude) and that he did not seem to want to talk with me. I thought him to be selfish in his demeanor and felt if I did not speak, we would just have stared at each other over our lattes.

I gained two valuable lessons from this:

1. If you are more of a talker, be conscious of asking questions and actively listening to other people.

2. If you are more introverted, be conscious of not letting another person dominate your conversation. Take charge.

While different people have different ways of communicating, and some are more verbose and others more quiet. Both parties need to take responsibility for a conversation and work in sync to be sure there is ample give and take. I have always been sad about the first impression I made on this person, and continue to work to improve in this area.

I openly share that I struggle with this because when we admit to our short-falls, we often find new ways to improve. I now try to make sure I ask at least three to five questions of people I talk with. Even if I talk more than I should, by inquiring about them, I bring them into the conversation and make myself listen.

Make sure you find a way to balance out how much you transmit to others and how much you receive from them in conversation. It is when the other person is talking that we learn the valuable nuggets of information that allow us to help them achieve their goals. When we help others, we win too. So you need to listen better in order to succeed.

Have A Great Day


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The 2008 Central Texas ACG Outstanding Corporate Growth & Emerging Company Awards

The Central Texas Chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth continues to skyrocket as one of the regions top networking and business organizations. Today the ACG hosted their annual awards luncheon and over 150 local executives attended the event at the Four Seasons that honored some of the areas top growth oriented companies.

The Finalists were:

Emerging Companies - revenues up to $25 million

Burrows Manufacturing
People Admin
Sweet Leaf Tea

Outstanding Corporate Growth - revenues between $25 - $100 million

Argyle Security
Austin Ribbon & Computer
Ginny's Printing

Outstanding Corporate Growth - revenues greater than $100 million

American Campus Communities

And the winners are:

PeopleAdmin, Argyle Security and ArthoCare

Founded in 1954, the Association for Corporate Growth, Inc. ( is the premier global association for professionals involved in corporate growth, corporate development, and mergers and acquisitions. Today ACG stands at 11,000 members from corporations, private equity, finance, and professional service firms representing Fortune 500, Fortune1000, FTSE 100, and mid-market companies in 53 chapters in North America and Europe. Leaders in corporations, private equity, finance, and professional service firms focused on building value in their organizations belong to ACG. They recognize the multiple benefits of networking within an influential community of executives growing public and private companies worldwide.

Have A Great Day


Come See Me Speak on Thursday, June 12th

There is still time to register (or just show up at the door) for tomorrow's "NETWORKING ON FIRE" luncheon at Cool River (on Palmer in Northwest Austin). 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM.

I am the speaker and will be talking about networking and building a personal brand in your business community. If you are feeling lucky, I will be giving away a copy of my book to two lucky winners (one copy of "Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Grow and Keep Your Business Relationships" and once copy of "The ABC's of Networking").

Hope to see some friendly faces in the audience!!


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Voluneteer, but don't think your involvement means you "own" the organization

Being involved on the board of a business or charitable organization it is a great way to boost your visibility in the business community. It also helps promote the common good. Shoot, it is often fun and educational at the same time!

While it is common that organizations do not put direct competitors on the same board, your participation does not mean that you "own" the group where you volunteer. Sure, you might have an exclusive to serve on the board (which is fine), but you cannot and should not think that your position will eliminate your competition from participating in events or from ending up as a speaker for the group's meetings if they are well suited for giving such a presentation.

I recently heard of a local business professional who had a fit when one of his competitors was the presenter at a meeting of an organization where he volunteers. He felt that the programs committee should have asked him to speak or skipped having his industry represented at all on the panel discussion.

I have also been passed over for speaking opportunities and told that while the organization thought I was a great speaker who could benefit the group, they did not want to make my competitor mad by giving me the publicity.

With this philosophy, nobody should ever be asked to speak at any event, as somewhere they have a competitor who might be bent out of shape!!!

I see many groups tip toe around whom they can have as panelists for fear of offending someone else, rather than looking for the best speakers possible. When organizations have great programs, they have better attendance. The big name company, individual or topic makes or breaks the success of a meeting. I think organizations should seek out the most qualified speakers they can and not worry so much about what individual member or volunteer might think.

Mr. Spock said it best at the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan; "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few".

While I hate to see my competition on a panel where one of my team could have been featured, at the end of the day, the world is not a zero sum game. There are lots of chances for everyone who is qualified to have their time at the podium. Sure it hurts egos, and you can wish it was you on stage....but for the love of Pete.... do not run around complaining about it. Your membership in a group or your volunteer hours does not equal ownership of an organization. Maybe your competitor was just a better choice for that presentation!!!

Remember that if you complain about the publicity the organization ("your" organization) gives the competitor...those who hear your whining will provide you with LOTS of "word of mouth marketing" (the bad kind) when they tell others all about your tirade. Best to seek out your own speaking opportunities than to try to stop your competitors from having the spotlight (or complaining when they do).

I was recently very impressed when an executive that I know recommended that her direct competitor be included in a local program / presentation. She was involved in the planning, but a set of circumstances came up that made sense for the CEO of another company in her industry to share the platform. In this unique case she knew it was the "right" thing to do to be inclusive. Sure, it meant some stage time for the competition, but she did not let that impact her desire to make sure the event was executed properly (I am purposely being vague, as I was told of this situation in confidence).

I am involved in several business organizations and I do prefer to see that my company would have the limelight and PR from my involvement. However, on those occasions when my competitors are in the spotlight, you wont hear me complain (although I still want to).

I am confident that my firm will outshine all others in the long run.

A note to organizations and planners.... do not give your sponsors and volunteers the impression that their time and money can buy your integrity. News organizations have a wall between editorial and advertising to protect their credibility. Once you sell yourself for the money or time, you will forever cheapen your value to everyone. Yes, there are times when exclusive sponsorships make sense, as those whose dollars support the event want something in return for their sponsorship, but beware of how far you are willing let their money dictate your actions. It is a fine line.

Can sponsorships buy speakers slots, happens all the time. But be sure that it is clear to your audience, or you run the risk of looking cheap. If your group offers exclusivity to your sponsors but does not make that clear, then those who find out will think less of your organization.

Have A Great Day.


Friday, June 06, 2008

Networking Lessons From The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton

Networking lessons from Hillary Rodham Clinton

Building your reputation does not happen by accident. If you just go out and do stuff without any regards to how you are perceived you end up with the Hillary Clinton of the early days of her husband's administration. Her early reputation was defined by how she handled the health care reform issue. Health care reform was and is one of the most important problems facing our nation. Because she gave no thought to how her actions would cause others to react (aka the Republicans), her project was doomed. Opportunity lost for Hillary and for the country. Had she found a way to work all those in Washington, we might have a better program today. Make sure that you don't have a "who cares what they think" attitude, because what others think does matter if you want to establish yourself and win for the common good. Find a way to make sure that everyone involved has a voice at the table and you will prosper.

Tap into the network of those around you. There would have never been a Hillary Clinton Presidential Campaign if there had not been a Bill Clinton Presidency. This is not to undermine Mrs. Clinton's qualifications as a lawyer, U.S. Senator, and an expert politician, but if she had not been first lady, someone else would have lost their party's nomination to Barak Obama. Networking is not just about you, it is about all those around you. What makes a network powerful is the strength it gains when people come together. In her defence, there probably would never have been a Bill Clinton Presidency if there had not been a Hillary Clinton as his wife and political advisor, what goes around comes around!!! When building your network, look beyond just those you know, but see who is in their network, then bond together to forge sucess.

Build on your past successes. Hillary did not graduate from law school and then stage a successful run for president the next day. Instead she had a successful career as an attorney and as the first lady of Arkansas. From there she established a strong reputation as a "new kind of first lady", and took her popularity to win the senate seat from New York. She parlayed it all into a historic campaign for the White House. Make sure that you continue to advance your career and tackle new opportunities when they present themselves. Use each victory as the foundation for the next adventure.

Do not allow a failure to derail your future. While her historic campaign for the White House is now reaching the end, I doubt this is the last that we will hear from Mrs. Clinton. She knows how to rise again from the ashes and will take the experience from the 2008 Campaign and do something else that will make her supporters say "WOW" (and her critics cringe). When you make a mistake or have a set back, just pick yourself up and try something new. Keep going if you want to succeed.

Do not expect your friends to support you in everything you do. Many people who served in Bill Clinton's administration decided to support Barak Obama for the Democratic Nomination. This surprised many people who thought that the FOB's (Friends of Bill) would automatically be Hillary supporters. But the reality is that even your close friends will not always agree with you or show up to support you in every venture. That is okay. I think that if the Clinton's had foreseen the possibility of people like Bill Richardson and others not supporting Hillary, that they could have done a better job of shoring up the ranks amongst those they assumed were on board. Never assume you know how people will vote when given the chance.

Life is not about popularity. Hillary's campaign loves to point out that she won the "popular vote". So what. It is the delegate count that matters. You can create your own rules and your own math all day long, but if it is not how the game is played...then who cares. I thought that we learned this lesson from Al Gore. Think about networking the same way. It is not about how many people you have as "friends" on Facebook or LinkedIn, it is about how many of those people will really make a difference in your life. Quality of those in your life is more important than quantity.

Stay true to yourself or people will notice. While campaigning it was often noted that Hillary would change the accent in her voice to mirror the region of the country where she was speaking. I am not sure if this was on purpose, or is she just did this by accident, ... but by appearing to shift herself to fit each situation it made many question her credibility. When networking, just be yourself. Not everyone will like you, and that is okay.

Know when to go home. Hillary came very close to not making a graceful exit from the race. Had she chosen to take the fight to the August convention she would have been giving a great gift to John McCain. Petty bickering over "super delegates" would have weakened Obama's shot at victory. The facts were clear for weeks that the party was over on her bid for the top office in the land. Bummer for her I am sure, but not worth derailing the Democrat's shot. When you are building a network and a professional reputation you have to remember that not everything is about you. Sometimes you have to step aside and let the other person have the brass ring.

Have A Great Day.


Thursday, June 05, 2008

Enjoy Today

There is a famous poem called "The Dash" (by Linda Ellis) that is often read at funerals that reminds us that the important part of a person's life is not the dates of their birth or their death, but instead the real value of a lifetime is all that is done on the days in between. It is that dash that shows up between the dates on the tombstone where all the amazing stuff happens.

The dates are like the pieces of bread in a sandwich, while the really good part is the meat in the middle.

If you are reading this right now, you are living in the meaty part of your life. How cool is that!!!

Whether young or old, building a career or riding high on your successes, this is the only today that you will ever have. It is important to plan for the future and have goals for tomorrow.....and it is wonderful to reflect on your personal history.... but we can only live in the moment.

No matter what you are doing right now, relish it. Sure, sometimes our days are stressful and frustrating, but that is just part of the journey. Do not allow the grind of life to overshadow the joy that exists in our families, careers, friends, communities and beyond.

This post is just a friendly reminder to encourage you to do something amazing with your day. Even if that something is small and seems insignificant, a million small things add up to unparalleled achievements.

Start small. Give a smile to those who pass you in the street. Then build from there and never look back. Fill up your sandwich with as much of the good stuff as you can possibly muster.

When you are old and nearing the end, how do you want others to remember how you spent your day? Your actions on this day are what sculpts your legacy.

Have A Great Day.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Succeed as a PHD

My friend Henry Yoshida, who works for Merrill Lynch, told me a great story about an "old school" insurance agency owner who he knew many years ago.

When Henry was young and just getting started in business he asked this seasoned professional what was the secret to his insurance agency's success. The gray-haired cantankerous old fellow told Henry that his business had grown because he only hired "PHD's".

Ahhh, not what you think. This guy only hired people who were "Poor, Hungry and Determined". With these three attributes, his employees all worked harder than the average person.....and with all that hard work synced up in one agency, they beat the competition time after time.

I shared this story with one of Austin's top entrepreneurs who told me that his experience was in parallel. He said that people with young families to support always seem to show up on time and work harder, because they have too much to lose if they slack off. The small number of "trust-fund kids" he ever hired at his companies always were failures. They did not need the money, and did not have that spark in their soul that is needed when times get difficult.

Joe DiMaggio once said; "A ball player's got to be kept hungry to become a big leaguer. That's why no boy from a rich family ever made the big leagues." It takes internal drive to meet your personal best.

Even though I am getting older, I am still a PHD in my heart. I still need the money and I am hungry and determined to achieve all that I am capable. I hope no matter how well I do in life that I never lose that spark to knock it out of the park on some level.

Have A Great Day.


Instantly Be A Resource

As soon as you meet someone try to find a way to help them succeed.

Don't run back to your office and expect your phone to ring with them doing favors for you if you are not taking it upon yourself to make an impact on their life.

Explore your network and make introductions and be an instant resource.


Sunday, June 01, 2008

Reality Check

Part of "Figuring Things Out" in life is realizing that you are not in control of everything. We try hard to create a feeling of control, but in the end, there are things that happen where we cannot manipulate the outcome that remind us of how small we are in the universe.

Sometimes these are minor events and then there are those incidents that hit you hard.

This week has been difficult; my dad is in the hospital, my favorite aunt passed away and one of my best friends was hit by a drunk driver (he is okay).

. I live 2000 miles away, and feel helpless.

My father is my greatest hero. He is a regular guy who lives a regular life, but has lived his 93 years with a clear picture of his moral conviction and dedication to his friends and family. I can think of nobody who I more want to emulate. From my point of view he discovered how to live life with little stress and high levels of contentment.

My aunt was a fun lady who often took care of me when I was a little kid. What I remember most was how she would humor me when I was three-year-old by setting an extra place at the table for my two imaginary friends, Chucky and Margo, and would always have "real" peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on a plate for them.

My friend was minding his own business at 3:30 PM when his car was hit at 65 MPH by a drunk. While he and his passengers have only minor injuries, it was still too close for comfort.

I share this on my blog not because the events of this week have helped me "figure things out", but instead as a reminder of how easily distracting real life can be sometimes for everyone. We set goals and head down the path only to be forced to face a reality check.

The good news is that the bumps in the road of life tend to make us stronger and help us develop our character. We also learn much good about the people around us who seem to make the tough times easier with a smile, a hug, a prayer, etc....

As I look at all the things on my calendar that I should be doing this week, they suddenly do not seem as important as being with my dad, honoring my aunt Catherine at her memorial service and catching up with an old friend.

Have A Great Day.