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Let The Games Begin!

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gamechangers-logoBack in September I was invited to attend a two day workshop for a local company called GameChangers. The founder, Andrew Hewitt, created a list of the most socially conscious companies in the world called the GameChangers 500. The list was designed to highlight those companies that are focused on a triple bottom line of planet, people and profit. Andrew has a TEDx Talk that describes why he started the list. He initiated the list to demonstrate what types of companies we need in our society in order to create a future that we all wish for. At his core, Andrew believes that we need systemic change across all sectors to achieve his dream, and I agree.

I heard about Andrew about 3 years ago when I was still building 4-Profit and doing volunteer work around San Diego and traveling the world looking to make a difference. He was someone who was doing some great things and I only heard about him at the time. Over the past 17 months, since returning from our global journey, I’ve been on a path to build a community of like-minded and like-hearted business professionals. The idea was to help people that wanted to use their business as a vehicle for social change. The original plan was to build the community under the Success Redefined brand and grow something locally here in San Diego, eventually expanding it to other cities around the country.

The first 6 months of the Success Redefined journey were filled with lots of conversations with business people around town and letting them know what I was planning to build. I had never done business in San Diego so people were talking but they really didn’t know what to think of me or of Success Redefined.  The reception to the concept was very positive but I wasn’t able to get as much buy-in as I thought I would, and Success Redefined stalled last spring. I have been able to launch one group of amazing business leaders and they continue to meet on a monthly basis, but the road was murky to growing beyond that. Over the past few months I’ve continued to network and get to know San Diego under the 5 Dots brand. I’ve met a ton of amazing people and launched 5 Dots as a business development coaching company has helped me gain clarity around my skills and purpose.

So, how do these two stories fit together? This afternoon at 2 pm PST we will be hosting an event in town for about 70 local influencers, and some individuals from around the country, to talk about developing a local community of GameChangers here in San Diego. Over the coming weeks and months I’ll be speaking about the evolution of this project and the people that we are attracting. I’ve been around entrepreneurial businesses for almost 25 years and I’ve never seen, or been a part of, something that was so pure and intentional and so 100% aligned with my skills, my passion and my desire to make a difference in the world. The concept of a Success Redefined community is not dead, it’s just being reborn within another organization.

I never thought I’d be following a 34 years old visionary to the promised land, but here we go. Thank you Andrew for being the light that has shown me a clear path.

To a life well lived!

Time & Relationships

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time-clockOver the past 18 months I’ve had the opportunity to study how relationships are born and developed. Since leaving an industry that I spent 15 years in and starting from scratch in a new city, I’ve learned that the one thing that is critical in relationship development is time. Having spent so much time in one industry and knowing so many people, it was easy to get connected to the right people and it was easy for those people to check you out because you have numerous connections in common. What happens when you’re starting from scratch and nobody knows you? That is what I’ve had the opportunity to explore on this journey.

So, if time is a critical, if not the most critical, element in relationship development, why are we so impatient? Why do we push so hard for people to make decisions about us, or visa versa, why do we make snap decisions on people before we really get to know them? Some people have a rough exterior but are pussy cats on the inside, and others are so nice on the outside but deep down they are 100% shark, or sharks dressed as dolphins. We rely so much on first impressions but many times that first impression is wrong. We worry if people like us, but in the end we should be wondering if we like them.

I’ve found that the more time I invest in relationships the more I learn. The more I understand myself and study others the more I gain an appreciation for them. All of this takes time, the one thing that we often don’t give relationships. I know that I’ve written a lot about how challenging the past year has been for me, my family and especially my ego. My last blog post was about surrender and giving up our own plan for the one that life is putting in front of us. For me, relationship development is something that I’ve taken for granted. It’s something that I assumed everyone knows how to do. I was wrong!

I meet people every day that are guarded, they don’t let people in because they’ve been taught to be afraid, or they’ve been taught that their introverts so they shouldn’t interact with others because they need their downtime. I meet people that want to be everyone’s best friend, which I find extremely challenging no matter how nice we are. I have found that time, the passage of time and the time needed to establish deep, long lasting relationships is missing from many lives. I have also found that most of the people that I meet don’t know what type of people they are looking for, what are the attributes of people that they connect deeply with.

I spend a lot of time in reflection, even when I’m with people. I’m try really hard to be present when I’m with others these days (that was not always true), but there is our subconscious that is connecting dots for us all the time. I get chills in my body even when it’s not cold. I used to ignore those feelings and now I listen to my body. To me, I believe that’s my subconscious working for me. The more time I give to introspection about this issue, the more effective I become in my life. As I gain more peace, which is something I believe we’re all trying to find, I am able to develop deeper connections because I’m present with them and just trying to get to know them. There’s no agenda, no looking for prospects or looking for new business. Each encounter is a unique experience to get to know another person and not make it about me.

Typing the words “not make it about me” just caused me to pause. This, which only time has allowed me to see, is the biggest shift that’s happening in my life. The back cover of Success Redefined say “What Happens When You Transform From Me to We?” The past 53 plus years, our global travel and meeting thousands of people from all different cultures has given me some perspective about what’s most important, and time is the best teacher. Being aware and looking for signals, looking for opportunities to be better, to learn from others, to be our best knowing that there is nobody else in the world exactly like us. I continually ask why we were put on this earth and what is it that we were meant to contribute? I believe time is a critical element and the more we focus on helping others get what they want, the more we will get everything that we need!

To a life well lived 🙂

Surrender

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surrenderFor most of my life I’ve had a plan, at least when I didn’t have a plan I had an idea of how I wanted things to go, a vision for my future. If I honestly look back at my history, each of those plans took a detour, some of them took a very big detour. I’m beginning to believe that having a plan and a direction is a good thing, but not being attached to that plan is even better. The thought is to lay out a path, a proposed direction. Once that path is set I believe we need to surrender to what the world is trying to tell us versus how we want the world to work. This seems to be the message that I’m feeling these day. It sounds pretty easy in words, but how do we surrender, how do we give up our concept of control and just let the world unfold?

I can’t say that I’ve figured any of this out yet. I’m trying very hard to stop functioning as a human doing and to become a human being. Maybe it’s a man thing, but I see so many of us who were “classically trained” to produce results focus so much time on the doing part and very little on the being part. We are pointed in the direction of “success” and we learn how to achieve that success through modeling those that have come before us. In my late 20’s and into my 30’s I did this all the time. I would look at people that I knew and people that I’d met, listened to on audio or seen on video and try to pick the attributes I liked best and emulate them. This was the foundation of Think and Grow Rich from Napoleon Hill. This proved extremely effective in helping me to achieve results. The only problem was that it didn’t always lead me to happiness.

The funny part is I always projected a happy exterior. I always showed people that I was happy and extremely positive, but it was all a mask hiding my fear and immense self judgement. Into my 40’s I continued to carve my own path, one with a positive exterior and a true sense of accomplishment. I listened to others but wanted to prove that I was worthy and I could create something awesome. I invested so much time and energy trying to prove myself to others and be liked. Each of these experiences have prepared me for the path that I’m on today, the one that I am learning to surrender to.

One of the big lessons I’ve learned is that I’m not the operator of a business, I’m a connector and business development resource and I’m surrendering my need and/or desire to be the CEO. When I have tried to do things out of my area of expertise the world has told me, in no uncertain terms, that this was not what I was supposed to be doing with my gifts. I wish I would have listened earlier, but that is one lesson that I’ve learned slowly. This all gets back to surrendering, to connecting the dots of our life and becoming the person we were born to be. I am trying very, very hard to listen to my heart and my soul, not listening to my head and my ego. The ego wants and needs the achievement. The heart and the soul need truth and needs to surrender to what is right for our being. I look forward to continuing on this journey and continuing to surrender to my higher self, to be of service to the world and use my gifts to leave this planet better than I found it. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the idea of surrender. How does it show up in your life?

To a life well lived!

Goodbye 2016!

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happy-new-year-2017Never before have I had a year with as much hardship and challenge as 2016. I am happy to see it behind me and also know it was one of the most transformational and humbling years of my life. With everything that happened to me as a husband, as a father, and as an entrepreneur, I felt bombarded from every direction. Most people know me as an extremely positive person, almost to a fault. This year challenged that mindset and I begin 2017 with an even more positive outlook on my life, with one big change; Humility.

I have been humbled by how life can throw changes at us that we don’t expect, that we can be so sure about something only to find that it’s not what it seems. I’ve learned that health and wellness are critical foundations of our life, and when our health is challenged our world can be turned upside down in an instant. It starts to put things into perspective. As a father, seeing our kids go from children to teenagers has been transformational as well. There is so much that I want for them, but in the end they need to want it for themselves. We have been given so many gifts as a society, yet I feel like we take so much of it for granted.

In 2016 I dealt with depression, I mean deep seeded depression, like I’ve never felt before. I went almost 30 days without a good night sleep. I went for 2 and 3 hour walks at 2 am and went looking for certainty in a world that provides none. I went seeking answers from others, asking for help from everyone I came in contact with. I have come to learn that the only answers come from within. I was in a time of re-invention and it was so much harder than I had expected. I forgot what it was like to start from scratch, but here I am 18 months later and still plugging away learning how to start again. The most humbling part of the process was learning that this transformation was not about me, that the work I am being called to do is all about we. The more I focus on “me” the harder my life gets. The more I focus on “we,” and helping others get what they want the better my life gets.

In 2016 I learned what I am as an entrepreneur; I’m a business development machine, a human connector, a team builder and a business archtect. I leave my home every morning looking to help others and on that journey I see opportunity everywhere. I love meeting people and finding out what they need. I love connecting them with others that have similar needs, and especially love connecting them with people that can solve their challenges. The more people I meet the happier I am. The more people I meet the more valuable I am. The more people I deeply connect with and see “who they truly are” the more I find joy. This is who I am. It took a lot of pain to find this out and I look forward to using that pain as fuel for the future.

As a parent I’m learning compassion and acceptance. The more I push and blame the worse the problem gets. The more I accept and take responsibility for my own feelings and for my own disappointment the better things get. Each experience seems to be a mirror to my own life. I want so much more for our kids than I got myself, and when I see them doing what I did I get so mad because now I know better! The only problem is that they are only 15 and 16 years old, they don’t know better yet. I wish I could take all their pain away, but that is forming the people they’re meant to be. I now better understand the conversations my father used to have with me 🙂

As a husband I was challenged in so many ways in 2016. Early in the year we were talking about Ilise going back to work, and then we got the news about stage one breast cancer. From late May through the end of the year our major focus was her health. We went to more doctors visits over the past 8 months than I’ve been to in my entire life, times 10! I learned more about breast cancer through doctors visits and overhearing phone calls than I could ever imagine. I have tried my hardest to be there for her, sometimes I do a good job, and some time I’m not so good. Trying to balance being a husband, being a father and starting a business has proven to be a huge task, but it’s one I take on each and every day with as much passion and excitement as I can. Even though 2016 provided so many opportunities for learning, I’m glad that it’s behind me. I’m excited for the possibilities in 2017 and the relationships I’m building in my life. I know who I am, what I am and why I am. It’s time to live that every day and let the chips fall where they may.

To a life well lived!

Judgement

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no-judgementAs we take time to reflect during this holiday season I’m beginning to realize that one of the most powerful road blocks in my life is the concept of judgement. For me it’s seems so easy to judge these days. Are you a republican or a democrat? Are you a pure capitalist or someone who’s interested in using their business to effect social change? Are you a Yankee fan or a Red Sox fan? So many ways to judge people, while Hollywood and Madison Ave don’t help the situation at all. All of the advertising is positioned to make judgements about what beauty is, what we should wear, what we should eat and so much more. The big question for me right now is how to be totally accepting of others where they are and not need them to be anything other than who they are?

I’ve started to realize how the concept of judgement is showing up in my life. As I identify the judgement I begin to realize how I shut myself off from so many people because of how I judge them. My life experience has shown me the exact opposite, people I never thought anything about turned out to be some of the most important and influential in my development. In addition to my judgement of others, I’m sure that some people are shut off from me because of how they judge me. I’ve known for a very long time that I wake up every morning with the best intentions to leave this planet better than I found it. So, if someone doesn’t like me, or the approach I might take to how I live in the world, is that anything I should worry about? I see judgement in my personal life and in my business life and I don’t believe it serves me at all.

Over the past few years I’ve gained immense clarity around who I am, what I am and why I am. This process has been evolving for the past few decades, but has gained immense clarity in the past few years. As Steve Jobs stated in his 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University, we can’t connect the dots looking forward we can only connect the dots looking backwards. He continued by talking about the fact that we need to trust that everything in our lives is happening for a reason and that at some point it will all make sense. Our travels to Africa in 2012 opened my eyes to what’s really important in life. Over the past two years I’ve worked hard to re-establish my business life as someone who is focused on using capitalism as a vehicle for social change and not just personal reward. On this journey I’ve met so many people, many who agree with my position and many that don’t. The clearer I am about what I’m looking for in people the more those people start to show up. With this clarity comes an opportunity for acceptance of others or judgement of who they are and what they stand for.

So, what to do with this realization? How do I stop this instinctive judgement and look to accept people for who they are and not need them to be anyone else? How do I stop comparing them to others who align more directly with my beliefs? I don’t believe unlearning these deep patterns will be very simple, but I’ve learned that all great transformation starts with simply noticing. Now that I’ve noticed I’m doing this it might be time to make a change. To 2017 being an amazing year of change and may we all stop judging and putting people into boxes they never asked to be in.

To a life well lived!

Building Teams

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gear_team_420Over my lifetime I’ve had the opportunity to be on a lot of teams. Starting with my childhood sports teams in soccer, basketball and baseball. After college I continued to play sports, including one of my favorite team sports now, volleyball. There were some teams where we had great individual athletes and we won, and sometimes we had great athletes and lost. There were also times when we didn’t have any superstars and those teams also produced some amazing results. Separate from the winning was the enjoyment from the experience. Last year our daughter was on the JV Basketball at Carlsbad High and the team was not that great, but my daughter had an awesome time and it was fun. So, what is it that makes up great teams and what is the desired end result of these teams?

Great skills and results are just two of the ingredients of a great team for me. The final ingredient for a great team is the enjoyment of everyone on the team. In my experience, the teams that were the most enjoyable to participate in and also produced the best results had some similar characteristics, whether they had stars or not:

  1. There was balance on the team, we all had specific talents that worked together toward our goal
  2. We learned to work together and appreciated our teammates for their skills, even if we didn’t always like them
  3. We had shared values
  4. We had clarity around our shared purpose and our desired end result
  5. We all wanted to be part of something greater than ourselves

When I really think about it, the best teams I’ve been involved in were not about any individual, it was always about the team. If we want to be part of a great team we need to leave our ego at the door and look to understand before we look to be understood. The concept of being part of something greater than ourselves works in sports, in business and in life.

I’ve spent the past few decades evaluating teams and helping teams evolve and grow. I’ve had the pleasure to assemble a few teams myself and have been able to attract some very talented people to work with me. That is an honor and a privilege. At this point I have the opportunity to create a new team and I’m looking forward to developing one that will help grow a new company designed to leave our planet better than we found it. As I’ve matured and starting this journey, I’m not only looking for people who can do the work, I’m looking for so much more.

I’ve often mentioned the four criteria that I’m looking for in people today:

  • People that are self aware
  • People interested in leaving the planet better than they found it
  • They get shit done!
  • They are dolphins, or total givers that give without any expectations

When I find these individuals, they seem to surround themselves with others like themselves. So, I begin to find veins of game changers and they are all amazing individually. As a collector of these relationships, what’s even more fun than meeting with them individually is bringing them together, especially when they have varied skill sets. I held a meeting just last week with a handful of amazing people and the chemistry was awesome. These are individuals who want to change the world and are naturally interested in being part of something greater than themselves. These individuals tend to appreciate diverse perspectives, and when you combine that with a drive to get things done you have a powerful engine for growth.

So, as I continue to travel around the San Diego community and meet all of these like-minded, like-hearted professionals, we are building a tribe. This tribe will be able to create some great teams together, teams that will not only produce great results, they will do so with great satisfaction and enjoyment amongst the participants. I’m excited about the coming year and seeing what great teams evolve out of the tribe we are building.

To connecting the dots ….. one dot at a time!

Embracing Our Uniqueness

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uniquenessWe are all different, unique beings, even if we are an identical twin (which I’m not). Why are we made this way? Why are we unique? Most of my life, say the first 35 years or so, I spent a lot of time criticizing my uniqueness not embarrassing it. It wasn’t until I was in my late 30’s that I decided to stop comparing myself to each and everyone in the world. I would always find someone smarter, funnier, richer, more attractive and so on. It wasn’t until I decided that I was enough did my world start to change. At this point in my life, as I am living my 54th year on this planet, not only have I learned not to compare myself to anyone else, I’m starting to love my uniqueness more than ever.

What does it mean to love my uniqueness? What does it mean to fully express who I am versus who I think other would want me to be, or who I think I “should” be? At this point I’m pretty clear that I’m happiest when I’m with people, especially people that I adore and have a close relationship with. If I’m not around any of those people I’d rather be around others than just hanging out by myself. Many years ago I used to think that meant I didn’t like to be by myself, but that’s not true at all. I really do enjoy my time alone, I just don’t need a lot of it. A good friend of mine told me recently that there are introverts, extroverts and then there’s Larry (an extroverts, extrovert).

I’m embracing this quality and when I’m with people that I’m not close with yet I do my best to be my authentic self. That means telling people what I feel and expressing myself fully. In the past I used to worry if people would like me, so I’d try to say things that wouldn’t cause any controversy or wouldn’t make them uncomfortable. In some business situations I might continue to hold my tongue and think strategically about how my words might affect my desired outcome, but for the most part I’m better off speaking my mind. Why should I do anything else? This might cause people to not enjoy the conversation, but that’s OK. I’ve had more people come back to me years later, after walking away frustrated with a conversation I had with them, to say thank you for telling me what I really thought. In the moment it wasn’t enjoyable for them, but it was my truth.

One other thing that I’ve learned is how to present things to people so it isn’t as “in your face” as I had been in the past. I’ve learned to ask for permission to provide feedback. I’ve learned to choose my words carefully when I’m going to be critical and also tell the other person that I might be totally off base, but I felt compelled to share what was happening for me. In the end, I believe most of these instincts are reflections of myself, or my own uniqueness, and these conversations help me as much, if not more, than the person I’m talking with.

So, where does this leave me? When I am truly myself and surrounded by people that are interested in the thoughts and ideas that I am, we can develop a deep and meaningful relationship. I am so lucky to have so many of those relationships in my life. The biggest challenge is that not many of them live within walking distance of my house. So, I spend significant time on the phone and travel to see people for business and pleasure. Over the past 18 months I’ve focused that energy on finding my tribe here in San Diego and continue to meet other like-minded, like-hearted professionals. The community of self-aware, world changing, get shit done dolphins continues to grow and I love meeting other unique souls that I vibrate along the same frequency. Life is amazing when we embrace our uniqueness. I look forward to many more years of being uniquely me and nobody else. If you enjoy me, great, and if not I’m happy to know that as well.

To a life well lived!

Relationship Management

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relationship-mgmtWhen I started my sales career back in New Jersey with Saddle Brook Control Systems I used a Day-Timer and a paper phone book to manage my contacts and calendar. In the late 90’s I bought one of the first Palm Trios to manage my contacts and calendar, my initial transition to using technology to manage my life. The technology was so cool, I no longer needed a card based Rolodex. At this point in time, I’m not sure the current generation even knows what a Rolodex actually is!

After the Palm Trio and a Motorola flip phone, I went to the Blackberry and from the Blackberry to the smartphone, starting with a Motorola Droid. I loved my droid and the flexibility that it offered, but then came Apple and I have since moved everything over to the iPhone, iPad and MAC Book Air. During those years I’ve used so many different software packages to manage my contacts, starting with ACT! in the 90’s. From ACT! we moved to GoldMine, from GoldMine we moved to SalesLogix and from SalesLogix we moved to Salesforce.com. This was all while building LTBN and 4-Profit. Once I said goodbye to 4-Profit I moved everything to Google and now have found a wonderful product called PipeDrive that manages all of my contacts and todos.

I review all of this to say that managing my relationships, the critical data that allows me to stay connected with so many people, is critically important in the arena of business development. Without a system it’s impossible to build and manage relationships on a large scale. I have a good friend named Gary Pica who introduced me to the concept of the Warm 250. He said that every sales person should have a warm circle of at least 250 people that they stay in touch with regularly. For me, I believe that number is somewhere between 500-1,000 people that I’m touching on a regular basis. These are people that I’ve known for 30 years to some that I’ve just recently met.

So, how do you stay connected with so many people and not have it be a full time job? I said it before, it all comes down to systems. Every morning I have a list of people that I need to connect with that day. I have usually entered them into my system 30, 60 or 90 days earlier. I have a process that puts people into 30, 60 or 90 day cycles. If someone is on my list today and I just ran into them at an event a few days ago, they get moved out another 30 days. If I haven’t seen them then I’ll decide between a phone call, email, text or whatever method of communication I think is best to meet my objectives. With many people, I’m just touching base to let them know I’m alive. It’s amazing to think about, but all these people are not thinking about me and my company every day!

They say it takes 7-9 touches before someone will take you seriously. I’ve seen studies where the average salesperson gives up after just 2 to 3 contacts when the data clearly shows that you need more connections to build a relationship. If it takes that many touches and you don’t have a system to stay in touch how can you expect any type of predictable results? I’ve been talking about business development as a process for the past 6 months and every day it becomes clearer and clearer to me. It starts with developing the relationship and ends with managing them. In between we need to identify our target market, tell our story effectively and then find all the strategic alliances that will help us reach our ideal clients. This sound so simple, and it is, yet it’s hard to execute.

I challenge you to look at your systems and look at how you manage the relationships in your life, both business and personal. In the end, people are mostly thinking about themselves and if you don’t have a way to stay connected then I believe you will struggle with building your business or practice. A systematized approach to the entire process is the only way that I know to achieve the results we are looking for. If you have ideas about a system or process that’s worked in your business development efforts please let me know. I’m always looking for new and better ways to do what I do.

To connecting dots ….. one dot at a time!

Aligned

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Leader and his team. 3D rendered image.

Over the past few decades I’ve met thousands of business people, many who I’ve connected with and many I just didn’t. Many of the ones I didn’t connect with were not bad people, they weren’t mean or anything like that. So why didn’t we connect? Why did we seem like ships passing in the night? Some of it came down to their need to party. Back in my late 20’s I gave up alcohol and I stopped hanging out with people that enjoy getting really, really drunk. I found that I just didn’t feel good the next day when I got really drunk, as well as the fact that drinking was really expensive for me at that age 🙂 In the end, I’m really glad that I stopped drinking and I feel so much better for it. I do have some friends that really like to drink and get drunk, but there are not many.

On our 6 month global journey I spent significant time looking into what makes up a happy life. I learned so much about the difference between the pursuit of achievement and the pursuit of happiness. This ties directly into connecting with others. In the past few years I’ve started to analyze what it is about the people I connected with. I believe that it starts with values and it ends with values. In our businesses we tend to put our values aside in our pursuit of achievement. This pursuit of achievement is designed to produce greater financial return, not greater personal satisfaction and happiness.

I believe that our values and our beliefs are two different things. I admire people with shared values even when their beliefs are different than mine. This concept is perfectly exemplified by the relationship that I have with a good friend who’s deeply religious. His goal in life is to spread the gospel of Jesus and bring him into the lives of everyone he meets. He is dedicated to his religion and lives a life that integrates his religion into all aspects of his being. We’ve known each other for well over a decade, and a few years into our relationship I asked him what he was doing hanging out with a NY Jew? In the end, how could he be such good friends with someone who doesn’t believe in something so core to who he was? His simple answer was that our beliefs might be different, but our values, how we lived our lives, were totally aligned.

As we look at how this applies to our businesses, there are two main areas we need to pay attention to. The first is who we bring into our company as employees and team members. If their values don’t align with that of the organization there will be challenges, no matter how talented they are. Second, it shows up in our strategic alliances. Many of us will align our companies with other organizations that have a similar profile client but our values are different? We tend to take the easy path, the company that is right in front of us, rather than dig for another company that might be more closely aligned to our value system. This might sound like it’s a bit picky, which it is. In the end, waiting for that ideal strategic partner that shares our values could make such an amazing difference in the types of clients we work with and the quality of our partnership. We are typically not a very patient society, and waiting for the “right” fit is pushed to the side when we can fill the void with something or someone “good enough.” In the end, good enough is not how I want to build organizations. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this topic. Are you values aligned with your team members and strategic alliance partners? If so, has it made a tangible difference in your life?

To connecting the dots ….. one dot at a time!

Giving Thanks

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gratitudeWow, where does one start on this day of thanks? Over the past few years in studying happiness and where it comes from, gratitude is a constant that is agreed upon by everyone I’ve researched. From Shawn Achor and Dan Seligman to Mother Teresa, Viktor Frankl and so many others. On our travels last year this was my biggest investment, studying what brings happiness. The foundation of happiness, in my opinion, is getting our needs met. In Success Redefined I identified our basic needs as food, water, shelter, safety, love, air and health, with the hidden need; being part of something greater than ourself, our purpose. At lunch yesterday a good friend asked me if I was happy, and I candidly had to say no. I told her that I’m at peace and feel fulfilled, but happiness is not the biggest part of my life right now.

Based on my definition of happiness, which is getting our needs met, I have everything that I need except the health of my wife. The stress that we have been through over the past 7 months in dealing with finding out about Ilise’ cancer, until today, has been extremely high. We’ve probably been to more doctors appointments since this happened than all the doctors appointments we’ve had together combined. We brought two kids into this world and had all of their appointments, but this feels like more than that. Combine that with the process of starting a business from scratch and raising two teenagers and life can feel overwhelming. So, based on my own definition of happiness I can understand why I might not feel “happy” at this moment. This does not stop me from feeling grateful or fulfilled as a person.

Just this week I was having a conversation with our 16 year old daughter, and she was saying that she was stressed and not very happy. She is a straight A student, plays multiple sports, is on the speech and debate team and has a lot of good friends. She is constantly communicating with her friends and doing her school work. As a father I’m most interested in our kids being happy with their lives. In our recent conversation it dawned on me that she was not pursuing happiness, she’s been pursuing achievement. She asked me if it was OK to be a B in a class, and I said of course it is. I’m not sure where this attitude came from because neither Ilise nor I have ever expected straight A’s. We’re happy she’s so driven, if it makes her happy.

One thing that I know would make her happier is a sense of gratitude for everything that we have and taking time to gain perspective. That’s why we’ve traveled so much, to gain perspective on what really matters. On this Thanksgiving Day I would like to highlight some of the things that I’m thankful for:

  • First, I’m thankful for the one’s closest to me, including my wife and two children. They have been my greatest teachers over the past two decades of my life.
  • I would also like to thank my parents for just loving me and wanting me to be happy.
  • I’d like to thank my siblings, Ken and Abby, as well as all my family members who continue to shower us with love and kindness.
  • I would like to thank all of my long-time friends from my days in NY/NJ. I still keep in touch with about a dozen good friends that I know I would do anything for, and they would do the same for me.
  • In the past 6 years, living in San Diego, I’ve met some of the most grounded and amazing human beings in my life. The list is very long and many of them I call my friends. I would like to thank all of you.
  • Finally, I would like to thank my mens group that meets each month. I’m honored to be able to share my deepest feelings with other self-aware human beings.

My life is blessed and I feel a sense of fulfillment that comes from being grateful. I continue to meditate on a daily basis and make time to experience my inner truth. I believe we moved to San Diego, specifically North County, for a reason. At this point in my life I believe that my work with GameChangers could be that reason. I believe that my life’s experiences have brought me to this place and I’m pursuing the work I was meant to accomplish in my life. As for happiness, as Ilise’s health improves and we are through this time of challenge then I believe there will be more happiness as well.

To a life well lived!