As I awake before 6 am without an alarm clock on the day of our 20th wedding anniversary, all I can feel is pride and joy. I started an amazing journey back in 1993 when I left the corporate world to start my entrepreneurial journey. I met my wife, Ilise, about 5 years later and then came one child, our daughter Drew, in 2000. Then 2 months after 9-11 came our second child, a son named Noah. Today our daughter is a freshman at Colorado State and our son is 16 years old junior in high school. I’m exceedingly proud of both of them as they become the people they were born to be. They inspire me with their brilliance and who they are becoming.
In addition to our children, I’m proud to have experienced 20 years of marriage to the same person, someone who is kind and generous, someone who has a huge heart and someone who is the perfect compliment in my life. Twenty year relationships are never easy, and ours has had it’s challenges along the way, including a bout with cancer, a move across the country and the joy of numerous trips around the globe. When I look back at my life in this moment, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m also proud to have an amazing relationship with each member of my family, from my wife to our children, my parents, my siblings, my in-laws and both of our extended families. To me and Ilise, family is everything!
On top of the many blessings of our family, I am blessed to be sitting in the back yard of a dream home in San Diego where I get to look at the ocean every day. You walk in the front door and our home puts you at ease. We have all the comforts we’ll ever need and periodically we do a project to make our home even nicer. We get to see sunsets while cooking from a bbq and this year we invested to make our garage so much nicer.
Finally, having chosen an entrepreneurial journey has been a marvelous career choice. Before we went on our global journey in 2015 I told someone I didn’t want to live an ordinary life, and I believe we have accomplished that. I sit here this morning in gratitude, knowing that what I’m doing, and what I’ve done is perfect. I’m becoming the person I was born to be, comfortable in my own skin and able to show up in the world as fully expressed as I’ve ever been. I know that there will be more challenges in the future, yet today, on August 30, 2018, I feel whole and complete, I feel grateful and inspired, I feel proud and motivated and I feel like I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.
Happy 20th Anniversary Ilise, to 20 more years that are even more beautiful than the last 20!
To a life well lived!
About a decade ago I was introduced to Gary Pica. Gary is one of the best salespeople that I’ve met in my life. Gary understands the process of how sales works and can explain the context of why we need to do things better than any entrepreneur I’ve met in my 30 plus year career. When I first met Gary he told me about the process he learned early in his career, when he was a first time salesperson. It started with his Warm 250, that was the list of 250 people that he needed to stay connected to in his marketplace. Then it moved to his 30/60/90 day follow up system. Each of his 250 warm leads were on his calendar either 30 days out, 60 days out or 90 days out.
I have been practicing a very similar system during my career yet I never had a formal process and never systematized it. What I learned from Gary, as well as from Jim Sweeny, one of our country’s great networkers and author of the book Networking is a Contact Sport, it’s not just about following up with people. Even more important than the 30/60/90 day followup system is the reason why you’re connecting with them. I have found that the more you learn about people, the more anniversaries you know about, the more birthdays, the more major events in their life you know about, that’s how you can deeply connect with them on a human level.
Joe Sweeny has created the Sweeny 22, which is a list of 22 pieces of information that he wants to learn about every person he meets. The information ranges from spouses name, kids names and birthdates to anniversaries along with favorite food, favorite drink, favorite life experience, where they were raised and so much more. All of this information gives us the opportunity to genuinely connect with people at a much deeper level than the average conversation. It’s what makes Gary and Joe so memorable. Joe Sweeny was so good at this process that Brett Farve asked him to be his agent early in his career. Joe has a voracious appetite for learning about people and that appetite has provided him with the deepest of relationships and an immense amount of joy.
Over the past 3 years of finding my way around San Diego, I’ve done my best to build my Warm 250 (which for me is probably closer to a Warm 500) and I continue to learn about each and every one of them. My objective is to not only find out things that I can connect with them personally, more importantly for me is who I can introduce them to that they might connect with at a deeper level. If I can introduce two people that have a common passion, especially if it has nothing to do with the work they do, then I am all over it. People love meeting others with shared purpose and passion and I love being the connector for them.
Over the coming years I will be earning my living doing just that at Corporate Alliance, keeping up with my Warm 500 and connecting people just because. I don’t know why I do what I do and I’m not sure how all the synapses in my brain allow me to connect the right people to each other on a regular basis, yet I do. Many years ago I stopped asking why I’m wired the way I am and started focusing on how I can use my gifts to help others. To me serving others is what this lifetime is all about. I hope that you are able to identify your Warm 250 and that you can find a way to stay connected to them on a regular basis in a genuine way that is consistent with who you are and one that you enjoy. Staying connected can be a fun game and I promise you that the people you serve will remember you for a long, long time!
To a life well lived ……
For the past decade in speech after speech, when introducing myself to others, or just in normal conversation, I’ve described myself as genetically unemployable. After 25 years of being an entrepreneur one has a hard time working for anyone else. I have had thousands of clients over the past 25 years since I left GE in 1993, yet never a W2. So, for me to take a job at the age of 54 is one of the oddest things for me, yet it’s not add at all. The reason that it’s not odd and feels totally right is because this opportunity is perfect for who I am right now in my life. The fact that it’s a job and not my own enterprise is irrelevant, this is an opportunity for me to live my reason for being.
I’ve talked a lot over the past few years about learning who we are and understanding the gifts that we’ve been uniquely given. I believe we need to stop asking why we are the way we are and to seek out situations where we can shine based on those gifts. I’ve done a tremendous amount of work toward the main objective I took on over 25 years ago, that is to be present. On a ropes course in Aspen in the summer of 1993 I stood over a cliff and felt what it was like to be totally present, no distractions at all. That experience showed me how we can live our lives and I’ve been pursuing that feeling ever since.
When I meet with people these days I do my best to be as present as possible, to be with them. I believe that’s pretty unique in our society. I’m not saying I’m the only one who does this, this is not true at all. I know a lot of people that are extremely present and I really enjoy spending time with them. I do believe that the majority of our population are so caught up in their own thoughts that being present is extremely hard. In addition to being present I love getting to know people and trying to help them succeed. I love identifying opportunities that they don’t see, introducing them to people that they need to meet and connecting people to people, ideas to people and people to ideas. This is who I am, not what I do.
So, even though this new opportunity comes with a W2 attached to it, I am still living my reason for being. I’ve received so much positive love and support over the past two weeks and I’m so excited to live out this story. I’ve been very focused on living my life in San Diego, focusing on the local market and not needing to travel for work. I have been told by many that if I want to do the work I am looking to do and make the living that I want to make then I need to get out of San Diego. It could be as close as Orange County, yet to me that was a non-starter. In 2015, when we returned from our travels, I was 100% committed to living my life in San Diego. Now, with this opportunity with Corporate Alliance I can do that.
Over the coming months we will be introducing a lot of new people to Corporate Alliance, educating them what it currently is, what it can be in the future and how we can get there together. If you know anyone that should know more about what we’re building here please let me know. I can’t be more excited and more proud of the work that we’re doing and the journey ahead. I am living my purpose and life doesn’t get any better than that!
To a life well lived!
It’s been almost 6 months since I posted to my blog. Sometimes we just need to take a break, and this was one of those times. Over the past 6 months I’ve been pretty focused on my family, my client work and finding my unique swim lane to grow my professional practice. Over the past 3 years I’ve had an amazing opportunity to analyze myself, to learn what my unique gifts are, focus on honing my craft and then putting thought behind describing it to others. I’m not sure why I’m wired the way I am, yet now I truly understand how I bring value to others.
For most of my early professional career I went into business situations trying to figure out how to get what I wanted from the interaction. I was very good at building rapport and getting connected to others, yet I was always in the mindset of “what’s in it for me?” The interesting part is that most of the people I surrounded myself with were also of the same mindset. Now that I think back, there were always those people that seemed different, that didn’t have an agenda and they always seemed to be more relaxed and happier than the average person. I’m realizing that I love watching and observing people and trying to figure out what the “successful” people do that the average person doesn’t.
Now, this question brings us back to how we define success. In my earlier years I would define success based on time freedom, stuff and accumulation of toys. At this point in my life I’m realizing that happiness, fulfillment and joy are the true guideposts for me. How can I model my life after the individuals who demonstrate peace, love and total fulfillment in life? I would have to tell you that many of them are Rotarians or part of some service organization. The act of being part of something greater than ourselves and being of service is core to everyone that I meet who seems truly fulfilled.
So, I’ve been on this amazing journey since returning to San Diego after our global travels. I’ve been trying to meet people where they are and I’ve just been getting to know people just because. I’m not sure exactly why, but I believe that why showed up just about a month ago. When I returned from our travels one of the first investments I made was joining a business community in San Diego called Corporate Alliance. It’s was owned by a company in Utah that has multiple units there. The concept is pretty simple, it’s a shared conference facility, something like WeWork with no offices, just conference rooms and an event center.
About 4 weeks ago I was sitting at a networking meeting and one of the woman, who’s a big sponsor at Corporate Alliance (CA) and she said that the person who was running the place was leaving and they were looking for his replacement. She looked at me and said, what do you think? Well, I took the weekend to think about it and over the past 4 weeks I’ve redesigned my life to take on this new responsibility. Monday was my first day at a J.O.B. since April 15, 1993. Wow, I never thought this day would come, yet I must tell you this is not a job, it’s an opportunity to get paid for who I am and I just have to be myself everyday and I have a financial model to be successful in every measure of success I know of.
So, over the coming months I will start to blog about this new opportunity, building a community of purpose driven leaders in San Diego that call CA their home. It has been a long journey yet I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. This morning I get together with that same networking group and I’m excited to see where this all leads. Thank you Windus, I believe you’ve changed more than my life, I believe together we can change a lot of lives!
To a life well lived ……
Patience. This is a word that I’ve been learning about my entire life. Ever since I was a kid I always wanted to know the answer, I always wanted to know what was going to happen before it happened, yet as I mature I realize that there are no answers and that all the banging I’ve been doing to get those answers is just noise. This lesson keeps showing up over and over again in my life. I’m also watching it in our kids and in friends and business associates that I meet. We all seem to want to know the answer yet life is all about seeing what unfolds. At least that’s what I’m continuing to learn.
Each day I used to plan so carefully what I was going to do and figure out the desired outcome I wanted from certain events and certain meetings. I would think through and create talk tracks that would guide a conversation in a certain direction, and for many years I thought that was “working.” What does this term “working” really mean? Was it really working for me, or was I reaching a destination that wasn’t what was meant to happen. Over the past 6 months I’ve tried to go into meetings without a clear direction of where things might go. I’ve just been trying to meet people where they are and see where things go. I’ve started to clearly realize that I have no control and when I let thing evolve naturally then I get to a better place than I ever could have imagined.
Recently I met a business executive who has a start up. They are very excited about their product and their business, yet they are so focused on getting what they want that they didn’t even care what I wanted when they sat with me. They were really nice people but they weren’t interested in what I wanted, they were only interested in what I could do for them. I believe that is how I lived in the world for many, many years. That’s why it was so easy for me to see it in them. Maybe, just maybe, everything I’ve learned from Rotary and the service work I’ve done is how we’re meant to live our life all the time. Rotary is based on service above self. How can we give to others without care of what comes back to us.
I talk a lot about sharks, dolphins and sharks that dress up as dolphins. The sharks are the takers, those that are solely worried about their own needs 100% of the time. The dolphins are the total givers, those that put everyone ahead of themselves. Now, the sharks that dress up as dolphins seem to put others first, yet they only do it to demonstrate that they know how to be a dolphin but in the end they’re really only looking out for themselves. I meet so many cloaked sharks who seem to be well intentioned only to be proven over time that they are not dolphins at all.
So, where does this leave me?
I’m becoming more and more convinced that the future for me is all about helping other people get what they want. I have often said that if I help everyone get what they want that I would have so much more than I need. I understood that intellectually yet I didn’t fully internalize it. At this point of my journey I’m realizing that being of service, helping others get what they want and not worrying about what’s in it for me, then the world will be bountiful and that I will receive so much more than I will ever need. I see this unfolding every day so why not believe it? Do you believe it?
To a life well lived and Happy Thanksgiving!
Over the past month I haven’t blogged much. I believe it’s because I didn’t feel like I had much to say and didn’t just want to make stuff up. As for this post, I’m headed to another event today and am starting to approach my world in a very different mindset than I have in the past. Most of my life I’ve been a very impatient human being. I’ve always wanted everything to happen faster than the world wanted it to happen. This has caused me some challenges in my career, in my relationships and my entire life. This need for the answer to reveal itself is something that I looked at as a need. If I didn’t have the answer I was looking for I would not be happy.
I have often written about my thoughts about happiness. I define happiness as the state in which all of our needs are met. So, if I need to have the future reveal itself before it’s ready than how can I be happy? I usually walk around in a state of calm yet lacking that true sense of happiness and completion. Maybe, just maybe, letting go of the need for the answer to be revealed and just living with what is will provide a better experience. I seem to be approaching most interactions from a different place these days, one of more patience and one where I don’t need to have the answer. The truth is that the answer will always reveal itself when it’s ready, not when I want it to. So, the more I get to observe my world and just play my part the more happiness I feel. This might seem obvious to some, but to me this is some sort of awakening.
So how does acceptance fit into all of this? The other day I ran into a fellow dolphin, someone who I met a few years ago who told me that he was a “member of my tribe” yet he likes spending his time with sharks and helping them see the light. From the time I met him I thought that was so odd. Most of you that know me know that I share my story with anyone who will listen and I’ve found some amazing people that just don’t see things the way that I do, and now that’s just fine with me. Earlier on my journey if people didn’t agree I’d be disappointed, thinking that my ideas were not correct. I’ve come to realize that my journey is uniquely mine. There are others that I talk with that align with my views and that’s great, yet those that don’t are not wrong at all, they just live from a different worldview or a different inner voice that provides them with their own clarity.
If everything that we create in our world is just a story, which I truly believe, then none of this is true anyway. So, why be attached to other people’s responses? Why not just accept people exactly where they are and let their story be theirs. I believe I’m finding a way to intersect people where they are and then finding out why they’ve crossed my path. As a natural connector the question for me becomes, who should I be introducing them to and why? In addition to being a connector, I’m an extremely creative entrepreneur. How can I use those skills to help people who cross my path on a daily basis advance their initiatives? When I approach each day from this point of view I tend to enjoy the day more and live in a state of calm and I am more joyful. When I start to think about all the things that the world is not providing me based on the story in my head, that’s when the calm and joy go away. Does this make sense to you?
To a life well lived …..
In most situations in life I believe we react rather than act, at least that’s the way that I’ve experienced the world. One of the more interesting parts of this strategy is that many times our reactions are opposite of the actions that will get us the outcome that we desire. It’s almost like we are put on this planet with the natural instinct to react and our project in life is to stop reacting and start consciously acting, doing things that will get us the desired results that we want, rather reacting and engaging in drama. The funniest part is this is what I’ve been teaching our 17 year old daughter for the past few years, yet I find myself living out the same challenges.
In my personal life these opportunities are easy to spot. How we relate to our children, how we relate to our spouse, how we relate to our parents and siblings and friends. Most of our relationships seem to be on autopilot. We react the way that we are instinctively conditioned from birth until we realize that it’s not really working anymore. The same thing happens with business. We do things that bring us some results yet we think that if something works once than we keep using that strategy. For me, one thing that I did for most of my career is to network like crazy. I was very focused on meeting as many people as possible and pushing relationships at an unnatural speed. If I met someone that I thought I wanted to do business with I didn’t allow the relationship to mature naturally.
Over the past 2 years of starting from scratch here in San Diego, I did a hard court press since I arrived back from our global travels. I met with as many people as possible and told my story and listened to theirs. My story resonated with a handful of people and I continue to be friends with many of those people to this day. I started to filter out who I spent time with and why, the only challenge is that I was pushing. I believed that the more I pushed, the more relationships I looked to establish, the better. It’s now over 2 years since this journey started and the momentum is starting to shift and I’ve slowed down immensely on the pushing and starting to let things come to me and just enjoying the interactions with people more and more. I’m really showing up with a desire to see where things go rather than a set agenda.
This brings me to an interesting story from a recent trip to Mexico. I was staying at a friends trailer down by the beach and the community where I was staying was pretty quiet with only a few people around. I met one couple who have a beautiful little home overlooking the ocean and ended up joining them for dinner. Upon my return I noticed a man sitting by a fire just a few houses away. After parking my car I decided to head over to say hello. It turns out that the gentleman by the fire was living a very parallel life to me in so many ways. Our conversation was effortless and our points of interaction were amazing. We talked for almost 2 hours and it could have lasted so much more. I believe that this can happen all the time, that the people we’re supposed to meet are right in front of us we just need to keep our eyes open and be available.
This has been a phenomenal journey in so many ways, yet not even close to how I expected it to be. I continue to be amazed by people I expected nothing from and continue to see the opportunity in the smallest of places. Letting relationships breath and evolve while looking to be as present as possible with people I meet for the first time and those I’ve known for years. It might sound funny, but it seems to be so much easier to be present with people we meet for the first time. Once we know someone for a while we seem to assume what they’re going to say and start to tune them out. This is definitely something that I know that I need to work on personally.
To a life well lived!