Thought Leadership

A Day is Just a Day

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When we left San Diego back in January I’m not sure exactly what I expected from this trip. I knew I wanted to do it and I knew that it was the perfect time for our family. If we didn’t do it now we would never do this type of trip. I wasn’t expecting to shut down 4-Profit and not be actively working, but everything happens for a reason and I am enjoying the freedom. I also keep talking with friends and business associates every day and everyone keeps asking me what I have learned so far. My answer, a day is just a day!

I said at the beginning of this post that I wasn’t sure what to expect, but one of the things I did expect was that every day would be amazing. Well, I can tell you that we have had many amazing moments and have met some amazing people, but in the end, each day has been just that, a day. The more I allow each day to be nothing more the more I enjoy the trip. Today we spent 8 hours in a car driving, it was a long drive. We were all in our own little world on the drive, the kids watching some movies, doing some school work while I was driving listening to some TED Talks and other podcasts. It was just a day, similar to many nondescript days back in San Diego.

We did have a great conversation at dinner in this little town called Airlie Beach, but that was a bonus. I just need to let things be and not be so worried about making every experience the “Experience of a life-time!” Every time I do that the experience doesn’t live up to the expectations anyway. It is time to just enjoy the entire process and watch the kids grow up in front of our eyes. One thing that is happening on this trip is more communication between the four of us. We are expressing ourselves freely and the more time we spend together the more we gain an appreciation for each other. Back in San Diego we had so many distractions from friends, family and society in general. On this trip, it’s just the four of us and Karley.

Karley, the teacher, has been a great addition as well. She is thoughtful and calm and doesn’t cause any drama at all. We have really enjoyed her being with us, and she has done a great job helping the kids with their education.

In the end I am learning to enjoy each day more by just letting it be just that, another day.

To a life well lived!

 

The Next Journey

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Our trip to Israel marked the beginning of the next stage of my life. Over the past 22 years I have learned how to help people make more money. Teaching them how to find subject matter experts in areas of their business that they don’t understand and to create a plan that works for their life and their business. I believe at this point it is time for me to add a whole new skill set to my life. I don’t believe I need to stop helping people make more money, but I also want to help them find more meaning from their material success. I know that the more money I make, I don’t get any happier, but I like having the financial resources to do whatever I want. I am happiest when I do things for others, sometimes in ways that others can’t because of that financial success.

There are so many people in the US that have made a good living and have put significant money in the bank, but they feel the way I did a few years go. I can’t exactly explain the feeling, but its this feeling that something is missing, that there must be more to life than just making money. That feeling went away over the last few years when I began to gain clarity on my current purpose beyond making money and I started sharing it with others. Those people introduced me to others that were interested in the same things that I was, at a purpose level, and my world was transformed. I have begun to surround myself with others that have a shared common purpose and all of a sudden the world is a different place for me.

I spent a few years in the murk trying to help unsuccessful, socially minded people become more successful. That was painful for me because I’m not a detail-oriented person and I don’t do well with keeping others accountable. I’m best at the big picture stuff, focusing on the long-term plans and helping people find out what they really want. I started to focus on helping people that were already successful how powerful it was to be socially minded as well. In addition, I figured out in my business that I need to hand things off to others that have different skills than me, which changed my world even more. For me, it’s about finding the right resources and empowering them to execute. I am a touch and go entrepreneur who can establish businesses that employ others, but I should get out of the way once they start moving forward.

Over the past 20 years I have stayed involved way too long in my business and coaching engagements. I need to learn to let go and empower others to create their own future through what I can envision and create. In short, I’ve been acting as a business owner/operator when I should be acting as an entrepreneur and getting things started. It’s not about the running and operating businesses for me, it’s about bringing the idea to life and finding others that want to build it. It’s about taking risk and providing an opportunity for other smart, motivated execution types to make a living from the concepts. They will never take the risk, but they are amazing at getting things done!

I always thought that entrepreneurs were ego centric by opening lots of businesses, but I am realizing that’s not the case at all. Wilson Harrell, whom I met so many years ago when I first started with Let’s Talk Business, bragged about the 100 plus companies he had started. All I could think about was how egotistical he was. I am realizing that I missed the point that Wilson was making and only now realize the power of what he created. I’m not even sure it is about investing capital, but compensating people beyond sweat equity along the way will be better. I’m not in that position today, but that time will come.

It’s time to put my learning to use and spread my wings and become the person I was meant to be. So many people have told me that they will follow me to the end, but I need to be a better leader and surround myself with the right team. As I do that I also need to learn more about empowerment and engaging humbly. That brings me to a whole other post about heart vs head, which I will post tomorrow. I am realizing that for the first 51 years of my life, when I first meet people they meet my brain, now it’s time to lead with my heart. It’s my heart that they end up really liking and staying connected to. I look forward to the journey and feel at peace about all of these decisions I have made over the past few years. Many of the decisions have been painful, and some very expensive, but all of it adds up to the future and my commitment to leaving this planet infinitely better than I found it.

To a life well lived!

Storytelling

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I have been spending significant time lately creating videos for my speaking business and to promote fundraising for Armstrong. I am using iMovie, which has been a lot of fun. While I continue to craft the stories it is interesting how including pictures and combining that with audio can create powerful stories.

In a world that is moving to instant gratification and needing to get your message across in a short time window, telling impactful stories in a short time becomes even more important. In my recent TEDx Talk I was required to get my story down to 18 minutes, which was challenging but doable. When creating a video for Armstrong I was told to get it down to 90 seconds. That makes you focus on the most important concepts that you want to get across. How can you cut out the things that don’t matter? That is something I will need to master if I want to reach my personal objectives.

Over the next few years I will be focusing time on building a speaking career and telling compelling stories will be critical to my success. I am starting to work with an NSA Hall of Fame speaker and we will focus on storytelling. I am excited about the journey I am on and can’t wait to develop “the” keynote that will be my signature talk. BreakPoints is the focus of the talk, which is perfect since the book was just nominated as a Finalist in the International Book awards. I will focus on weaving my own personal story into the talk rather than telling other people’s stories. I know that when I tell my own story I have the deepest connection, so that will be my direction.

I have been interviewing speakers bureaus and we will see which is the best firm to help me get my story told, because I the end it is all about telling the story.

‘Til next time …….

Connectedness Continuum Continued

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Over the past week I have continued to discuss the Connectedness Continuum with numerous friends and business associates. This all started with a hierarchy, then moved to a linear process and this week it has been transformed to concentric circles. I have also talked with friends about the terms we were using for the segments of the continuum and this week we made significant progress.

The Connectedness Continuum now consists of three concentric circles with the outer circle termed as Community, the middle ring defined as Roles and the inner ring of connectedness is Individual. Below is a simple version of the image:Slide1

The concept of Community is all about the connections we make as part of a community. We connect with others around sports, music, Facebook and other “surface” level connections that we all have as members of our local, national and global community. This level of connectedness provides some comfort but little sense of deep connection.

The second ring in the middle, the Role ring, refers to all of the roles we play in life. These could include being someone’s child, a parent, spouse, best friend or any other relationship to another person. These relationships can provide comfort and a feeling of connectedness deeper than community based connections. Even in painful relationships, the connection might be negative but it is still deeper and more connected than a fellow sports fan.

The inner ring is our relationship with ourselves, or our Individual connection. The more connected we are to ourselves the more connected we feel to everything. Our entire life improves when we are deeply connected to our own needs and our own purpose in life. I have come to believe that until we are in relationship with our individual, unique self we will struggle to connect with others. It almost seems like when we are not connected to ourselves our life depends on all external factors, the opinions of others and our community. In the end, the only opinion about us that matters is our relationship to ourselves.

So, that is my learning for the week.

‘Til next time ………

 

 

Goals?

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I have had numerous conversations with people this week about goals. The conversation was spurred by a conversation I had before my TED Talk with a gentleman who said to me, “you seem so passionate and driven, I am afraid you will disappointed because you won’t reach your goals.” Without even blinking I answered that I really wasn’t worried about that, since I was living my purpose I am not really worried about goals anymore.

That conversation got me thinking about goals and why we create them and how they affect our lives. I am wondering if goals are for people that are focused on success and achievement? If you are focused on purpose and significance, is just being present and following your instinct the right path to take? When we set a goal we normally will put blinders on until we reach that goal, but is that the best path to take? If a door opens that doesn’t lead us to our desired goal are we doing the right thing by not walking through it?

Over the past few months, since realizing that for me, all that matters is living my purpose, goals have seemed a bit less important. I am coming to believe that if you live your purpose you might not need goals, you just need to follow your instincts and be present. I am not sure how this will play out, but I am certain that I feel much lighter when I let go of the goals and just focus on being present. We are currently working on the book, The Disconnected, Connected World, and one of the main points is about being present. In the end all we have is the present moments. So, do goals help you be present or not? I don’t think so.

I will keep you posted on this process as I learn more about how this works in my life.

‘Til next time …….

The Different Sides of ME

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Over the past few months I have started to think about the different parts of my life and how they all integrate together, but also how distinct they are. It is my integrated life, but it has so many different parts and different characters. I believe most of us wish that everyone that we love and admire can be part of the entire journey, but I don’t believe that is realistic. If I truly believe that our only reason for being is to find our purpose, at different times in our life we will require different people to help us move forward.

When we are in our early years there are so many lessons coming at us that it is hard to distinguish them all, so we look for support everywhere. We look at friends, parents, teachers, anyone to help us figure things out. As we start to mature we can start to segment the different parts of ourselves and begin to find individuals that can help us in those specific areas. In my life today I play so many roles, including father, husband, son, sibling, revenue producer, friend, athlete, philanthropist, world traveler, purpose pursuer, and so many more. In each of these areas I am realizing that different people are needed to be our guides.

I have always looked for “that mentor” in my life that would be the all knowing, but they never showed up. What has shown up is so many amazing people with their own perspective to offer value to my life. They all have their unique skills and areas of expertise, but when they get out of their swim lane their knowledge and wisdom is no longer wise. As I continue on my journey finding the people that can support my efforts to live my purpose different people will play in different parts. I believe we get in trouble when we include those who don’t bring the knowledge and wisdom for the projects we are currently engaged in.

It might come down to loyalty that we want to include these people, but in the end I believe we are creatures of comfort and we want to include those that have helped us get here, go there. At this point of my evolution I am not sure that is the best path. This is something I am starting to gain clarity on. I am looking forward to working with people that are examples of what I need to learn next, not just people that have been there from the beginning.

‘Til next time ……..

Connectedness

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I have spent the better part of the past 3 weeks writing and re-writing my upcoming TEDx Talk. I have created more content in these few weeks than the entire year combined. So many thoughts and concepts pouring out of my heart and soul that it has been a bit overwhelming. So many thoughts and only 18 minutes to express them!

The process has required me to narrow down what it is that I want to say and what is it that I think is so important that I must share it, and I believe I am getting close. With the help of many friends, a writer and a speech writer I have shared my soul about what I believe is important. The issue that I have narrowed it all down to is connectedness. What is it that I experienced in Africa as well as many other experiences in my life that have brought me to the conclusion that connectedness is such a basic human need, yet our society continues to move in the opposite direction. We are becoming more and more isolated in this digital world but it is connectedness that feeds our soul!

So, what is my argument and how can I explain this. Abraham Maslow developed his hierarchy of needs in 1943, about the same time that the US government created the food pyramid. Just recently the US gov’t changed the food pyramid, which used to have meat and potatoes at the base, to now have fruits and vegetables at the base. So, in that same mindset, is it possible that Maslow’s belief that finding our purpose was an aspirational need and not a basic need was wrong? Is it possible that finding our purpose, becoming what Maslow refers to as self-actualized, is as important as food, water and shelter? What if it belongs at the base of his hierarchy and not the top?

I say this because the more I try to figure out the reasons for the pleasures I get in my life, the more I realize that what I saw in Africa on our trip in 2012, in Colorado when I volunteered for a youth program back in 1993 and so many other times in my life, it comes down to connectedness. But how does one find connectedness, why did I notice it in these communities? What was it that they were doing naturally that allowed them to have what I have always wanted, without even trying? What I believe is that they had a common purpose that they share as a community. The common purpose in Africa and Colorado was survival, so everyone shared the same purpose which allows everyone to connect, and connect deeply.

So, why does this matter? In a developed country like the US where survival is a given to the majority of our population we are no longer connected by a common purpose. If we are no longer connected by a common purpose than we start to become isolated, and that isolation causes so many of the ills that our society struggles with. We start to look to consumption to fill that void, but that has never worked and never will. So, if survival is not our common purpose we need to find others that share a purpose that we care about, that is where connectedness comes from. It happens around tragedies, like 9/11 or wild fires that destroy neighborhoods, or hurricanes. NYC was an amazing place to be for 6 months after the towers came down. But these periods of connectedness are fleeting, how do we make them a more significant part of our life?

I have a hypothesis, and that will be the focus of my talk. Why is connectedness the key to our happiness and joy and how do we get it more often? To get my answer you will have to wait until I finish my TEDx Talk.

‘Til next time ……..

Think, Talk, Do

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I have been investing a significant amount of time since I returned from Africa trying to learn as much as I can about the social enterprise market. I attended an amazing conference and have continued to network with numerous individuals trying to make a difference. In one of my recent conversations I mentioned to a friend that we needed to stop spending time with people that are thinking about making change, or people that are talking about making change, but we needed to focus our energies on those that are actually making change. Which brings me to the title of this post.

Over my career I have met thousands of people and most will fall into one of three categories, with a few that cover all three. The first category are people that think about solving problems but never take action. Then there are those that talk about solving problems but they don’t do anything about it either. The ones that get everything accomplished are the ones that just do! Maybe Nike had a good idea with their slogan.

So, it makes me think about the work we are focused on in Uganda and other parts of the world. I am tired of spending time with individuals that want to think about change, or those that want to talk about it, I need to spend time with those that are doing it. What is really cool is that when you find those people amazing things can happen.

I have been in a business partnership for more than 16 years and recently we were talking about why the relationship has stayed together for so long. Much of the reason boils down to the fact that we spend a significant amount of time thinking and talking about issues, but we both are huge doers. We focus on getting things done and not leaving things for long periods of time. When you are a smart doer than you push the envelope, make mistakes, learn from your mistakes and move forward.

If any change is going to happen in the world it is going to happen because somebody did something. Now, thinking and talking are important, but doing is what gets results. So, if you are a doer I applaud you and hope that you continue to do!

‘Til next time …….

Wants vs Needs

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I have continued to have dialog with friends and business associates about my new found focus in the world of social enterprise. As I continue to formulate my thinking a number of pieces are starting to resonate with different individuals. The first thing is there are some people who really want to give back but don’t have the time or energy to do so. This is a function of many different elements that are unique to each situation. There are also individuals who don’t want to have the discussion at all, but that population is actually pretty small.

There seems to be a heightened level of energy being directed in the area of social enterprise and helping businesses and organizations that are trying to make the world a better place. The reality is the economy is not as good as it once was, but we still have more than we really need to survive. One of my projects over time will be to educate those that want to listen about how we can adjust our thinking to give more back than we have in the past.

Over the past few years I have been noodling on an idea for a book that would be titled “When Wants Become Needs – For very important business people.” The book would outline the difference between a want and a need and start to get people to think about what they really “need.” We spent a weekend a couple of years ago with some friends and started down the conversation of wants vs needs and I asked Noah, who was 8 at the time, what do you need? Noah responded with the words I had taught him; “I need food, water and shelter.” My next question was, “What is everything else?” Noah’s response; “a want!”

With this conversation I told my friend that my job as a parent was complete, that if my son could clearly understand the difference between a want and a need all is good in the world. My friend said that we also need love, which I agree with, so the list of needs now stands at food, water, shelter and love! Now, I know that Noah was just repeating what I told him and he really didn’t understand what I was saying, but all the same, some day he will. Our trip to Africa made it a bit clearer to him and every day we work on the difference between wants and needs. I am also clear that my job as a parent is never done.

So, how does this effect our every day lives? I believe that when you label something a “need” your happiness is dependent on obtaining that need. So, if you say I need a new car, you probably won’t be happy until you get that car. It also goes for a new job, a new house or even a new spouse. Where does it end in today’s society? There are millions of people that are unhappy because they haven’t gotten things that I might define as “wants” and they define them as “needs.”

Anyone who knows me well knows that a good day is one that we are above ground. I believe that if I wake up in the morning and I can put both feet on the ground it is a good day. Whatever happens that day, no matter how challenging, is just part of life. I will still go to bed saying it was a great day because it was one more day I had on this planet. We never know when our time will come, but I am certain that ever day is a gift. I wish that message was clear to everyone else around us.

I am sure I will have more to share about this subject in the future, but this is a start. We are working on the “story of U-TOUCH” this weekend and I believe that this message could be key to helping people understand that they need to give back and the state of the economy is not an excuse. Most people do want to give back, they just don’t know how to do it.

‘Til next time …….