Success Redefined

The 5 Keys Skills for Business Success

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Dancing boy in Petra, Jordan
Dancing boy in Petra, Jordan

For the past century we have focused our energies on work and accumulating success in business. This business success has caused great financial wealth. Most of our society today is out of survival mode. We can now create and purchase products that were incomprehensible a few decades ago.

I wonder then, what has made all of this possible? When it comes to business’s being successful with financial return here are what I believe to be the top 5 skills:

  1. Leadership
  2. Ideation
  3. Strategy
  4. Execution
  5. Promotion

Now that we have mastered these skills, what if we redirect them towards creating a more humane world? It seems we have become so distracted by all of this business success that we have lost sight of why we are here in the first place. Why do we exist and what is our purpose anyway? Is it “he who has the most toys wins?” If not, which I know it’s not, then what is it? Why are we really here?

I believe we are here to direct all of these business success skills toward creating a better world.

We all have a unique reason for being; I believe that our journey is to figure out what our unique reason for being is. It’s time to stop focusing on ourselves and start focusing on being part of the solution for social change. What if we take the 5 business skills we have become experts in above and team them together on projects that are focused on the changes needed in the world?

For the past century or more we have taken the financial wealth created, and redirected it through philanthropy to the non-profit community. We have made some amazing progress, but at the same time we have provided a lot of handouts which has continued to disable those in need. Now it’s time to provide a hand up in opportunities for those who want to improve their lives. What if those who have created the wealth now focus on implementing the changes needed? We can build teams, just like corporations do, with the purpose of producing revenue for social good. It’s time to redirect our business skills to leaving this planet better than we found it.

To the Age of Humanity!


Wherever You Go, Someone Follows

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Paris at night
Paris at night

Recently, a good friend of mine expressed that they need to relocate in order to find more fulfillment in life. I challenged them, especially because we both live in San Diego. How can anyone live in San Diego and still feel like something is missing? Is the change of location really what they need? I personally believe that maybe it’s the life we build that needs change, not our location. I don’t think a new location or home could be ideally structured for our happiness.

One of the most powerful lessons I have learned from traveling around the globe is that our challenges follow us. If we are unhappy in any aspect of our lives, that unhappiness will be with us wherever we go – it nothing to do with our circumstances. Is it possible that wherever we go, we follow ourselves? Our problems, concerns, worries, they’ll all be right behind us.

We cannot run away from our challenges. All we can do is love and appreciate who we are, stop criticizing ourselves for who we are not, and enjoy each day. I tell my kids that the sun will rise and set whether you have a good day or not. The days come and go, they don’t wait for us to enjoy the moment. The more we realize we are the architects of our lives, the more enriched our lives will be. We have the ability to create the life we want, with the people we love.

If we can do this, what else do we need?

Deep meaningful relationships.

For the first 5 years I lived in San Diego, my wife and I made friends from our kids friends’ parents. We meet some really nice people that way, but these were accidental, not intentional. Now I realize the kind of people I like to spend my time with. Whether accidental or not, these are others who share my passions, my purpose, and my values. We build each other up regardless of any circumstances we are in.

As my friend searches for the fulfillment they are looking for these are the things I hope they keep in mind. If they do decide to move their challenges will follow them, but I would hope they find the deep relationships they are searching for. The more intentional we are at attracting the right people into our lives, the more richness we will experience.

I look forward to finding more intentional friends and deepening the friendships we already have. As I found from my travels, deep human connections in life are what fulfills me most, and I believe my friend, and you will find the same.

To a life well lived!

Finding Peace

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Our culture in the US teaches us that we need to follow the path from high school to college to a job to moving up the corporate ladder, with each step bringing a sense of self worth based on our title and things outside of ourselves. When I first meet people their initial question is “what do you do?” Why don’t people ask “who are you?” I think that’s a better question.

In the end, my journey to date has shown me that all we want in life is to be loved, we all want to feel needed and we all want to show the world how “successful” we are. But does that form of success, the one that uses job titles and our possessions bring us happiness? I have spent the past 20 years searching the globe for the answer to this question and I have come to a conclusion that our current definition of success, based on titles, income, the toys we have collected and so much more, has left me empty. I have learned to fill my brain and fill my wallet but that definition of success has not been able to fill the emptiness in my heart and soul.

The question is not whether you should be an employee or in your own business, I’ve spent 22 years of my life pursuing the entrepreneurship path. The real question for me is what brings meaning to our life? Just watch Taylor Mali’s YouTube video about what a teacher makes. Happiness and joy can be found in the most routine of jobs and roles. Until we understand where our meaning comes from, our pursuits will not fill that void. I have come to the conclusion in my life that what matters most is connecting deeply with other human beings, being part of something greater than myself and being of service to the world. This might sound like pie in the sky or something, but it is with this clarity that I can walk this earth with a sense of peace that I’ve never had before. It’s almost impossible to describe until one feels it. No more questions of who am I, why do I exist, what am I here to do. The only question I’m left with at this point is what is the next step on this amazing journey? How do I get still and decide what is the right next step?

I believe that we are all here for a unique purpose and once we get past our survival needs it is our responsibility to figure out what that is. Some people call this your genius, what it is that you do that no one else can. It’s that thing that comes so easily to you that it doesn’t seem like work. You are the only person like you, why are you here and what difference were you meant to make?

I am on this planet to help “successful” people understand what they mean by that word. I’m here to help people that have learned very well how to make money and attract things into their life but still feel an emptiness that they don’t know how to get rid of. I’m here to be of service to a world that provides us with so much yet can leave us feeling so alone.

If you are successful based on the definition that you’ve been taught and you’re still not happy I’d love to talk with you. I am here to serve and help you on your journey.

To a life well lived!

People, Connecting with People

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I have not blogged about our travels around Berlin much as I’m starting to wain on documenting each moment of our trip. We have seen so much and I’ve enjoyed seeing everything and getting it down in my blog, but I’m starting to be more interested in how I’m feeling at this point of our travels, what I have learned from this extended time away from our home and how I’m interacting with people. I started this journey with the idea that I have spent the first 51 years of my life introducing people to my brain, my intellect, trying to show them how smart I am. A good friend, named Miguel, told me before I left that when he first met me he was introduced to my brain and he didn’t really start to like me until he met my heart, which wasn’t that far behind, but it wasn’t what I led with.

Today, I had my first opportunity to lead with my heart in an extremely meaningful way. I had a meeting with someone that I met through Rotary. This was the person that I emailed about attending their club meeting on Friday. He received my email and took some time to do some digging. He found my blog and was intrigued by what I was writing about and told me that we needed to meet. He is a very successful entrepreneur running a technology shop. The company has about 100 employees and he is your true, die hard entrepreneur who has a heart of gold. He loves his company and his people, but he is torn. He is someone that I have met hundreds of times before, but he is different, he is self aware and he is what I’ve been looking for this whole trip. He is the example of the person that I most want to support on their journey. Someone who has been successful based on our common definition of the word success, but knows that it is not his life’s work, it’s just how he has learned to make money. The issue now is how to not kill the cash machine and be able to pursue his life’s work. The most interesting part for me is his awareness and his desire to find out why he still feels empty with all he has accomplished.

To know that someone like this exists in Berlin further confirms my drive and determination for my return to San Diego in the next few weeks. I was able to truly be present in this meeting for the majority of the time. My new friend was also very present and when my brain started to show up he told me so. It was an amazing opportunity for me to dial into how I was showing up for someone else. I can really help this person with the challenges he is facing, but he can also help me with some of my blind spots. In the end it is all about connecting deeply with people, being there for them without attachment to the outcome, without attachment to what’s in it for me. This is something that has been programmed into our brains since we are so small that needs to shift. WIIFM? We need to let that story go ……

I am starting to understand what it means to lead with my heart, to introduce people to the whole me and not just my brain. I am a work in progress and will continue to learn every day about this significant distinction in my life. I need to be a complete person not just a walking head. It is this transformation that the past 5 months, without the distractions of day to day life, that has helped me see more clearly. It is this evolution that will not only allow me to be the person that I was meant to be, but the person that I need to be in order to have the impact I want to have on the world. It is time to leave my brain in my head and introduce the world to my heart. In the end our deepest connections come when we connect with other people’s hearts, not their heads.

To a life well lived!

Those Moments

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You take an extended trip like the one we are on and you wait for those moments as a parent. Those moments where life happens and you get to help your child understand how to handle themselves in a way that supports their growth as a person. Those moments when they ask you a hard question and you don’t have any distractions so you can address them head on. Those moments when they are struggling with how they are perceived by the world (even though it doesn’t matter) and their emotions are tied to how others see them. Those moments when you catch them doing something amazing or watching them grow up right in front of your eyes.

When you are in the day to day flow of life where you are working, your kids are in school and everything is just busy, those moments just pass by without much of an opportunity to make them lasting memories. Sometimes you have a good answer and sometimes you help them on their journey, but for many of us it is not our #1 focus. On this trip we have had lots of these moments, times when either Drew or Noah have had a challenge or asked a difficult question or had challenges with each other. There have also been moments when you just say, WOW! This part of our trip has been amazing. I believe Noah came into this trip believing that “siblings fight” and I hope we go home with a different story in his head.

As we approach re-entry to our world in San Diego I must remind myself to take advantage of those opportunities even when we are in the flow. Even when life is busy, even when there are so many distractions and I know that being present as a parent and as a person is critical for so many reasons. I know it’s the same in my business life. The more present I can be, the more engaged I can be, the more deeply connected I will become with people. And from this trip I am learning and reinforcing one of the most important lessons of my life; in the end, deep human connection is all that matters. To add to that paradigm, the more deeply we can connect with ourselves the more deeply we can connect with others.

So, as we approach the last few weeks of our journey I begin to think about how I want to live my life differently upon our return. How can I be more present, how can I be more available to everyone around me, especially those that I consider part of my tribe. This lesson of connectedness is directly tied to developing my tribe. Being present is easier when you are being present for those you feel are deserving of your full attention. Not that everyone does not deserve your full attention, but there is something about spending time with others that are of like-mind and like-heart. I look forward to the next part of our journey and seeing what evolves.

To a life well lived!

Success Redefined

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After my last post I started thinking about the title for the new book I’m working on, which was Your Next Destination: Finding Meaning Beyond Success. The last post, titled Success Defined, seemed a lot closer than the working title, but still not exactly right. Then I had breakfast this past Monday morning with Judith Briles, my book Sheppard, and I told her about the Success Defined idea and we both agreed that it should actually be Success Redefined!

So, we have a final book title, which feels so right. The subtitle will be what started it all, When Wants Become Needs. So, the complete title will be Success Redefined: When Wants Become Needs. I will also use Success Redefined as the tagline for 4-Purpose. This project has taken on a whole new meaning as we begin to prepare for our travels around the globe.

As for my old definition of success, it was:

The ability to do whatever I want, whenever I want to do it.

My new definition is:

The ability to do whatever I want, whenever I want to do it, while being part of something greater than myself.

It might seem like a small change, but it is HUGE for me. Without the concept of being part of something greater than ourselves, we are not being our complete self. Just accumulating things and keeping up with the Jones’ is so unfulfilling in the end. I tried it for so many years and I can tell you that from my perspective, making a difference in the life of another person is more fulfilling that any amount of money that I can make. If I look at Armstrong, Carrie Rich, Sarah Potler Lahayne, Nate Howard or Niel Dsouza, impacting the lives of those trying to change the world is all that matters to me. I do like having money, so continuing to build 4-Profit and work on my business is critical. We have assembled an amazing team and they are so good at what they do, but my business does not define me and it is not “who I am.” At this point it is how I make a living.

’til next time ……

Success Defined

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It has been a while since I posted, but it is time to get back to sharing my thoughts regularly as we start to prepare for our global journey in early 2015. As a family we are so excited about this trip and part of the foundation starts today. At 2:25 this afternoon I will head to the airport to pick up Karley Walek, the teacher we have hired to join us on our journey. Karley is probably as excited as we are, which is so cool. We are all preparing for the trip of a lifetime.

While we start to really plan for this trip, I continue on my personal journey of discovery. I have spent the past 3 to 4 years of my life searching, searching for something. I wasn’t sure what it was, but over the past 9 months, since delivering my first TEDx Talk, I believe I have figured out what it is I have been searching for. I have been searching for a new definition of success. Back in 2011 Michael Gerber, the author of The E-Myth, challenged me to redefine success and I told him that my definition of success worked just fine for me. About two years ago I decided that I didn’t need to redefine success, that I needed to be significant, but that is not true. Being significant is part of my new definition of success.

I just started reading Arianna Huffington’s book, Thrive, and she talks about this specific issue. Success needs to include more than money and power, and I agree! As a human being our success is not defined by the things we have, it is not defined by our accomplishments nor our goals. I believe that true success in life is directly tied to being significant, working every day to leave this planet better than we found it, to be part of something greater than ourselves. We came to this planet with nothing and we will leave with nothing. How we act while we are here is what matters.

My travels to Africa, Central America and Southeast Asia have taught me so much, but my best teachers are our two children and the hundreds of youth that I have had the privilege to work with over the past few decades in my volunteer work. I believe that we do need to redefine success as a culture.

I went to a meditation on Wednesday evening and met two individuals that said they wanted to start a movement to redefine success and they started using these new age terms. I told them if they really wanted to start a movement then they needed to speak English, speak to people in a language that they can be heard by the masses.

In our culture we tend to define success in terms of achievement. Our whole lives were are taught to win, to go for the gold and take no prisoners! Over the past few years I have begun to not only question this definition, but I want to create a dialog that will allow the average person to understand what it is I am learning. I have had so many amazing teachers on my journey and now it is my turn to teach people what I have learned. I still have so much to learn myself, but this one lesson is something I need to share.

‘Til next time ……