So, I posted exactly one blog post in 2019. I can’t believe that I went an entire year and only posted one blog post, especially after being so consistent for years before. Well, there is a reason for the hiatus, I took on a role to turnaround a company called Corporate Alliance. I did write a short post every 2 weeks as part of our company newsletter, yet it wasn’t about the things I had posted on this blog. I believe it’s time to re-engage and start sharing the new story, especially since we’ve just rebranded Corp Alliance as SPIRE!
I believe we’re through the hardest part of the process and this rebranding provides us with so much material to share. So, it’s time to start sharing what I’m thinking and processing on a more regular basis. This post is all about what’s inspiring me right now, and that’s this new brand and positioning. First of all, I need to thank a few people that have been critically important through this process. There are two people specifically, Bobby Buchanan and Greg Chapman. Together, they have redesigned our messaging and the look and feel of the organization.
The new message is all about bringing together business leaders that have a set of shared values. Those values include things such as Trust and Respect, as well as Vulnerability and an Entrepreneurial Spirit. There are a number of organizations that might post similar values, yet I’ve not yet been part of one that actually lives these values. At SPIRE, we will live them because we need to. The world is full of good natured people that I believe have been so influenced by our desire, or dare I call it a need, to create wealth that we’ve lost our way. I have been studying this market segmentation of people that are interested in the win/win/win vs the win/lose mindset for a while now. I believe that about 15% or so of our business community are 100% committed to win/win/win. I believe that there’s 50% of the business community that is totally, 100% focused on winning at all cost and doing everything they can to maximize their personal return. That would leave 35% of the people that will show up however the people around them are acting.
I believe it’s time to shift the landscape and support people that want to make an impact and make it easier for them to do so. I’ve spent the better part of a decade trying to figure out the best way for me to make an impact. I’ve traveled to other countries, I’ve spent tons of money attending conferences and meeting people that have so much more wisdom than I do and I’ve come away with a few conclusions. First of all, social change is hard work and most people don’t know where to start. After a decade of searching I’m still at the beginning of my journey. So, if you don’t know where to start and you feel overwhelmed, the obvious next step is to ……. do nothing! That is where I believe our culture is stuck.
I believe that so many people would like to do something good yet they have no idea where to start. Or, they’ve tried a few things and they didn’t produce the results they had expected compared to the effort invested. If this is the case, how do we help them start? First, I believe, we need to earn their trust and let them know that we understand them. Next, we need to help them decide what it is that moves their heart. Everyone is different and we need to find our individual calling, that thing that we feel at our core we need to focus our energy on. I believe that it’s different for everyone yet there are themes and causes that many people share.
So, once we figure out what moves someone’s heart we then need to introduce them to others that have a shared passion. We need to create cohorts of individuals that have shared passion. In the past we used to meet other with shared passion when be joined the board of a non-profit. In today’s society, the non-profit community is being asked to solve all of our problems and the business community seems to focus all of our energy on them. Maybe there’s another way, a way that is in alignment with helping non-profits be more successful in their swim lane, yet providing alternatives that are much more capitalistic and focus on revenue generation rather than philanthropy to fund them.
There is so much we need to learn and for the next few years, maybe even the next few decades, we need to work together to find alternate solutions to our societal challenges. Feeding those that are homeless is nice, yet many of those that are homeless really need jobs and they need to get back on their feet. They need to be retrained and supported through the process. There are many examples of this in our society today, including an organization in Utah called The Otherside Academy. This organization take ex-cons and recovering drug addicts and employs them with peers to hold them accountable. Most people I know need to feel like they’re accomplishing something to feel fulfilled. Giving them food is nice, yet that is a bandaid to the real problem.
There are so many issues that are similarly as powerful and overwhelming and the only way we’re going to solve them is TOGETHER! It’s time to stop worrying about who’s going to take care of all of these challenges and we need to become the solution. Too many people that I’ve met want to have the answer, when what we really need is to find solutions that are working in other parts of the country, and the world, and bring them to San Diego.
In this blog right now, I am committing the next decade of my life to the city of San Diego and doing everything in my power to leave this city much better than I found it. If you have any interest in joining me, I’m all ears. We only live once and I promise you that this is not a dress rehearsal. It’s time to work together and share a journey that is worth living and dying for!
To a live well lived.
It has been close to a year since I last posted anything to this blog. For almost 5 years I posted regularly, capturing my thoughts, my passion, my purpose journey and our travels as a family. This past year has been a different one, a year filled with meeting a lot of new people and investing all of my energy and passion into my new endeavor. I’ve also been spending more time with Buddy, our first family dog, as well as being available for our teenagers. It’s been a very interesting transition from being an active participant in our kids lives, to now being more of a support system. Part of me thinks I should have engaged this mindset a bit sooner yet we are where we are.
Today, as I sit at a cabin just outside of Yosemite National Park, I believe it’s time to start blogging again. I believe it’s time to start sharing what is going on inside of me as well as what I see unfolding in the world around us. I believe historians will look back at this time in history as a very memorable period of time. I believe there is an awakening happening, caused by so much hatred and so much pain. I believe that the awakening is causing people to see things for what they really are versus what others want us to see.
Traveling through Yosemite with our son Noah over the past few days has been awe inspiring. We spent the first day in the valley. When we first entered the valley, driving through the tunnel, we saw the famous El Cap. It was truly immense and stood in front of us like a monument to what nature can do. I have watched both Free Solo and Dawn Wall and both movies provided a unique perspective of this amazing place. Noah and I arrived early on Saturday morning and got a good parking spot (I realized later how important getting in early was). We headed to the Visitors Center and asked about renting bikes. They told us to head over to the Yosemite Lodge and they rent bikes there.
So, we jumped on the free shuttle and headed over to get two bikes. Once we picked out our bikes we started on the 12 mile loop around the lower valley. I must say, that bike business must make the park system a TON of money. They rent bikes, that cost maybe $250 brand new, for $36/day or $12/hour. After a week or less the bikes are paid off and the rest is 100% profit. Pretty good little business!
As for our bike ride, we finished the loop in under two hours with a few stops along the way to take pictures. Yosemite Falls was the first worthy picture. There are two cascading falls called the Upper Falls and the Lower Falls. They were both pretty amazing, especially the Upper Falls where the water must drop around 2,000 feet. Even from over a mile away it looked massive. We also walked up to Mirror Lake and watch as families were swimming in the water to cool off. Did I mention that the temperature in the valley was around 97 degrees? It was pretty hot. After returning the bikes we grabbed some lunch and headed on a shuttle bus to El Cap. After exiting the bus we started walking to find an entrance to get to the base of the mountain. We found an abandoned trail and had to jump over a few fallen trees and lots of rocks. We finally found the base camp area of El Cap and started the 10 minute hike to the actual base of the wall.
Standing at the base of El Cap and looking up at this amazing slab of granite can put life into perspective. Noah kept saying that he felt so small looking at the mountain and the surrounding rock formations, yet the Valley was just our first stop, and it was pretty inspiring. Hence, the re-birth of this blog!
We exited the Valley to go back to our motel to take a swim in the local swimming hole called Rainbow Falls. Rainbow Falls is this little spot less than a mile from where we are staying and has some rock formations that you can jump off of into this huge swimming hole. We went there the first afternoon we arrived and went back again the second day. We also went to the local super market the first day so we could get some food to cook on the bbq outside our room. We have cooked on the BBQ the last two nights and it was really good.
Our second full day in the park we were told that we should go to see Hetch Hetchy. Compared to the Valley and El Cap and Half Dome, how much more spectacular could that be? So, we headed up to Hetch Hetchy yesterday morning not expecting much. The road out to the park entrance was bumpy and not very nice, so entering the park area was so awe inspiring. We started to enter the area and saw this massive valley below us off the side of the road. This area of the park was, in some ways, more spectacular than the Valley floor itself. We arrived around 9 am and we were the 8th car of the day to enter. For the next 20 minutes we drove with our mouths wide open looking at the vastness that was in front of us. As we made the final turn toward the massive Hetch Hetchy Dam we saw this amazing waterfall in the distance. For those of you who know our son, Noah, you’d know he’s not one for hiking. For the next 3 hours we hiked to this waterfall and back.
The hike as not extremely strenuous, but not easy. The final destination, Wapama Falls, was just spectacular. We spent some time taking pictures and then headed back to the car. After Hetch Hetchy we found a really nice Lodge that had a really good restaurant. We had some lunch and then started driving again. For the next 2 hours we drove up into the mountains towards Tuolomne Meadows. The drive was pretty awesome and we ended up stopping at Tenaya Lake. We were told that a lot of people stop to swim there and we brought our bathing suits with us. We got to the lake and started to walk in and Noah was stopped in his tracks. We were at over 8,000 ft above sea level and the water was a bit chilly. It is funny, because the night before I was showing Noah a video about Wim Hof, the iceman.
We both enjoyed the lake and the swim and then headed back to base camp. We arrived back around 4 pm and stoked up the BBQ again. We got some rest and today we plan to leave a bit later and head to the Giant Sequoias in Mariposa Grove. We’ve been told that it’s a beautiful part of the park. We will then circle back towards our hotel and stop at Glacier Point to take pictures of Valley from one of the highest points above the Valley floor. Should be a wonderful day and I’m looking forward to making more time to start blogging on a regular basis.
The next phase of this blog will focus on the re-invention of Corporate Alliance, the business that I took over 14 months ago. I am having a great time, meeting some amazing people and looking forward to what the next few years will bring. We will be rebranding the business over the next six months and part of the rebranding will include a video series that will capture the foundational thoughts of what our future looks like. There is still a lot of work to do and I’m excited about where we’re heading.
To a life well lived!
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!