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Wow, the past two years have been a journey. Since returning from our global travels in 2015 I’ve been searching for my next thing, the project that will replace 4-Profit and the work that I focused on for over 15 years of my life. During our global adventure I meditated every day and planned out what I was going to do upon our return. I came back to San Diego a month before the family did to start that adventure and help finish construction on our home. That was the beginning of this amazing ride that I’ve been on. The ride has had high highs, low lows and everything in between. Along the ride I’ve continued to realize what I love the most, it’s the people I’ve met and working on things that matter.
My journey is not like anyone else’s journey, it’s uniquely mine. What makes me happy is not what makes anyone else happy and what keeps me from being happy most of the time is my own mind. I guess most of this journey has been about finding myself, finding peace and finding joy. Finding joy as a father, joy as a husband, joy as a friend, joy as a son and sibling and joy as a business professional. Each of these endeavors takes time and energy and is something I’m committed to improving every day. Over the past few years I’ve shifted in so many ways. All of the shift is in my mind and my awareness, yet it is just starting to show up in my day to day life.
The biggest shift is how I approach my life, my integrated life. I was at an event recently and I was walking around and I heard someone asked the question to another guest; “Tell me about yourself?” That was a beautiful question to give the other person an opportunity to open up about who they are, what makes them tick and why they exist. The answer for me was disappointing. The person jumped into what they do for a living, their business and what problem they solve for other businesses. It hurts to see that our society is programmed to respond to a life question, a question about who we are as human beings, with a business answer, what is it that we do. Are we really defined by what we do or who we are?
Over the past 60 days I’ve stopped blogging for a number of reasons. The first reason is that I just needed a break. I needed to give myself some time to breath since there were, and still are, so many things were going on in my life. There were personal challenges, business challenges, parenting challenges and more and I just needed some downtime. So, I took it and now I’m back. Not sure if I’ll blog every week and not 100% sure exactly what the direction of this blog will take, yet I know it’s time to start again. It’s time to continue to share my journey and pass on the thoughts and ideas that I gather on a daily, sometime hourly, basis. As an extroverts extrovert, I get to meet so many people and learn so much from them. It’s been a pleasure and I look forward to sharing again and seeing where this all leads.
I want to thank all the people who’ve asked me about my blog and wondered why I stopped. It is fun to share what’s going on in my life, there are just times when you just don’t need to share. This blog is my chance to share my thoughts, concerns, dreams and so much more. I look forward to your thoughts and feedback, they’re always welcome.
To a life well lived!
Purpose San Diego
It’s been almost two years since I started doing business in San Diego. Over that time I’ve learned a lot about myself, a lot about the San Diego business market, and about the desire for the business community to effect social change. We are at the beginning of this journey and their are pieces in the marketplace that are forming to build a more purpose based business community. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some amazing people along this journey and many of them are supporting this new initiative that we’re calling Purpose San Diego. We will be launching a community of like-minded, like-hearted professionals that want to make an impact and our first breakfast event is scheduled for April 19th in UTC in San Diego.
Bringing these people together is important and letting them know that making a difference is good for business. Using our businesses as a vehicle to impact our employees lives, the lives of their families and also the lives of our local community is what capitalism is all about. I was speaking with a Rotarian last week and he was talking about his journey as an entrepreneur, one that spans about five decades. When he talks with younger business owners he tells them that there are 4 places you need to invest once your business starts to make money:
- You need to take care the business and reinvest
- You need to take care of your employees and keep them motivated
- You need to make sure you are taking care of yourself
- You need to take care of your local community
The last point on the list is the one that Purpose San Diego is focused on. How do we help companies learn to be active participants in the community and how does that work within their organization. I’ve been a Rotarian for the past few years and have seen first hand the joy that organization provides to it’s members and the difference we make in the community. We need to create more Rotarians, whether they join Rotary or not! If you are interested in learning more we look forward to seeing you on April 19th at Corporate Alliance in UTC. You can easily register online!
To a life well lived!
Reprogramming Ourselves – WHO AM I?
Last night I had the pleasure to be on a conference call with a team of insanely bright people who were crafting a course for college students to help them find out who they really are. The course is based on the teachings of professor Paul Minifee at SDSU, who currently teaches a course for 19-20 year olds to help them find self. During the conversation it became clear to me that one of the core issues that I’ve been facing over the past 53 years of my life is the amount of programming that keeps us from being “ourselves” and how much “reprogramming” we need to do in order to find our core.
There have been so many people that I’ve had conversations with about who am “I”? Who is it that sees the world? Is it our brain, our intelligence, our soul or is it just a knowing that guides us towards the life we were meant to live? I am living through that reprogramming as we speak, looking at my core structure, my values, my belief system, my self-talk, my reason for being and so much more. I know that I’m on this planet to be a good father, a good husband, a dutiful son and history has told me that I’m a good provider. One of the strongest reprogramming opportunities for me is to understand how we manifest our future, how our self talk and how our own story is what needs to change.
I tell our kids every day that we make up the story in our heads, so why not make the stories great? That is very easy to say and I’m realizing that my own story needs to change. I have a good friend who I’ve gotten to know very well over the past year. I’ve seen him through some rough patches and he’s done the same for me. In a recent conversation he was asking me to be more present, present in everything that I’m doing, including monitoring what I actually say. So much of what I say is on auto pilot, it’s my story and I keep repeating it over and over again. This story is part of what keeps me from living my true purpose.
Last night’s call made be go back to the thought of when it all started, when the programming really started. I believe it started way back in our lives when we are little. We’re given so many lessons at all ages. The hardest time for me was being a teenager. Maybe that is why it’s been so fulfilling to help our two teens navigate these years. When we’re at that age, as teenagers, we are constantly reminded by people going through the same challenges, how they sees us. In turn, this is what forms much of our own self-image. I’m seeing that this is not who I really am, I’m not a collection of the stories I was taught as a teenager or at any other stage of my life. My wife often tells me that I was raised to be extremely independent and that I function in the world that way, not needing anyone. That is the furthest thing from who I want to be. I want to be deeply connected to others and help them on their journey, to be of service.
This journey to my core has been one that I didn’t plan on taking and I’m realizing that in order to be the person I was meant to be that reprogramming myself is what this journey is about. It’s time to live in the present every day, to be the best person I am in the moment, not the person I was programmed to be. It’s time to stop with the regurgitated stories and to be more aware of what’s going on in this moment, with the people I’m connected to in the moment, to be of service to them. I also know that the manifestation of who I am is already inside me, I am dusting off the lessons that were not true and allow my true core to emerge. I’m here to help people, young and old, go on their journey of self exploration, connect them with others that align with their being and use business as a vehicle to change the world! Who wants to join me?
To a life well lived!
The Entrepreneurial Journey
Over the past 25 years I’ve had the privilege to start a few initiatives and be involved with a few thousand as an advisor and coach. If we want to have a successful endeavor, one of the key lessons is realizing that we can’t sell the market what we want to sell them, we need to provide what the market is asking for. Over the past 2 years I’ve been working on establishing a community of purpose driven business people here in San Diego and it’s been a challenging yet fulfilling journey. The challenging part has been learning a city for the first time and trying to gain trust from a business community that didn’t know me at all.
On this journey one of the greatest joys has been the amazing people that I’ve gotten to meet. After over 20 years growing a business into something rather mature, the startup is a unique beast. It seems to take much longer than we expect and be much more challenging than I remember. Then again, I was in my early 30’s, no wife, no kids and no real responsibilities. This time around the situation is much different. Having two teenagers and a wife dealing with stage one breast cancer has been far from easy, forget the entrepreneurial stuff!
One of the most frustrating challenges for me is the fact that people might believe I have a secret agenda, and it’s about money and control. In the end, it’s about solving the problem. I would rather solve the problem than be the answer.
So, where does this leave me today? When I hit the ground in July of 2015 I had a clear vision of what was going to take place, how I was going to grow a company that made an impact and the story I was going to tell. That story has not played out exactly as I had thought and I’m realizing that I need to provide what the market is asking for, not what I think it needs. So, what does the San Diego marketplace need at this point in time as it relates to the intersection of purpose and business?
San Diego needs to aggregate the existing pieces into a collaborative community and help coordinate it into something magical. There are so many organizations in the community that want to do good, but nothing yet that brings them all together. That is the project that this entrepreneur is going to be part of. This is not mine, it’s for the community. The process over the coming years will be the balance between what the marketplace needs and how to provide the financial return that our family needs to pay our bills. As I put my heart out into the marketplace, the story seems to be writing itself. I’ve learned what I do best and how I can provide value and it’s time to put all of those pieces together.
On April 19th we will be launching the first ever breakfast club meeting to start bringing together the community that’s focused on using business for social change. We will bring together business owners, executives of larger corporations, millennials, students, non-profit leaders and more, all focused on using their business acumen to leave this planet better than they found it. We will look to partner with the top organizations in the city and coordinate a rhythm that people can participate in. There are numerous organizations that are doing great things, but they happen in silos and that needs to change if the market is going to change. It’s time to let go of our egoic belief that we might have any answers and to freely provide my skills and passion toward what the market needs to move forward.
To connecting dots ….. one dot at a time!
Lead by Letting Go
Most of my adult life I thought that taking control was the same thing as leading. Over the past few days I’m starting to question that mindset. I had an experience on Tuesday morning where I had an opportunity to include others in a process and instead, I took control. While I was speaking to the group I was thinking that I was leading, but after receiving feedback from others around me I was actually doing the opposite. I wish I had a do over, the opportunity to not take “control” and instead enlist the group to self organize and make it theirs.
So, where does taking control fit in? Is leadership really about taking action and including others rather than taking control? With a mom who’s a clinical psychotherapist we often talk about the fact that control is an illusion anyway, so maybe that’s what’s going on here. Maybe we can get everything that we want by not trying to control anything, maybe letting go is the answer. I have been reading a lot about living in the flow and maybe letting go of control is all about the flow. The same thing happens when I go into situations with a fixed plan of what’s going to happen and not being open to other paths that present themselves during a conversation. I’ve written in the past about being attached to the outcome, I believe these two items are somehow intimately linked together.
Either way, letting go and not focusing on what we want, but focusing on what the group wants to accomplish seems to achieve more alignment, more engagement and more fun! I’m looking forward to testing this out in the very near future.
Please let me know what you think about control vs letting go.
To connecting the dots ….. one dot at a time!
Our Unique Gift
Over the past 6 to 8 weeks I have begun to realize one of my true gifts in life, why I was specifically put on this planet and trusting in that gift. For the past 30 years I’ve been introducing people to each other and I couldn’t tell you exactly why. I would meet a new person and someone’s name would come into my head and I would just make the introduction. Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of introducing thousands of people to each other, many one to one and many more through group experiences. For all these years I thought this was natural and that everyone did this, but yesterday I received a phone call that took me back more than 20 years.
It was about 3 pm and I received a text from a good friend who lives in Atlanta. The text had a picture of him and another young man that I didn’t recognize, but based on the text I’m sure I’d met him before. When I replied “His face seems vaguely familiar but I can’t say I do. Did he work with you back in NY?,” I immediately received a call from my friend. He told me that the man in the picture was someone that I had met in 2013 at a conference called SOCAP in San Francisco. The young man was a motivational speaker using hip hop to get his message through to inner city youth. The friend I introduced him to is one of the best entrepreneurs I’ve met in my life and works exclusively with teens and motivating youth, so it made sense to make the introduction. In our call yesterday my friend told me that he bought this young man’s company and he just wanted to thank me.
Beyond this young man’s company, I had also introduced my friend to dozens of others over the years with no intent other than to help. Every time I met someone that triggered his name I would take action. In our call yesterday my friend connected at least 6 different introductions, six different dots, that have lead to major opportunities in his life. The story gets even better, but that story is for another day. Yesterday I was reminded about what I do and who I am. I tell people all the time that we all experience this planet uniquely and no one sees things the way that we do, and now I’m realizing that maybe that’s true for me. Every day I send out “Connecting Dots” emails, emails that introduce two people to each other that didn’t know each other before. The feedback that I’ve received from those actions has been so heartwarming and I love doing it. So, I sit here today committed to introducing as many people as possible to each other, that my gift is the gift of human connection and that gift has served others well.
The idea that what I do serves other well is the key here. I never made introductions for my benefit, I always did it for theirs. The joy I feel when I know two people that need to meet actually connect is amazing. Over the next few years I’m committed to do the same thing for married couples. I’ve spoken with Ilise (my wife) about committing at least one Friday evening a month and inviting two couples to our house that don’t know each other. Not just any two couples, but couples that we believe would connect in a deep way. As we get past the time when our kids are the connectors for us in the community, I see people’s worlds getting smaller. I know that what I do naturally and with such joy can make such a difference in their life.
So, where does this leave me? All I can say is that yesterday was a HUGE milestone and sign that what I do every day is special. The way that I see the world in unique and what I do impacts the lives of others. As a Rotarian, as a human on this planet there’s not much more I can ask for. I feel fulfilled beyond explanation and I look forward to connecting people for the rest of my life!
To a life well lived.
LIFE . PURPOSE . WORK
We grow up and we are taught to be something, to be someone, to achieve to our greatest potential. We are also taught to use those achievements to acquire things, to consume more stuff and that will bring happiness. Over the past 25 years I’ve been on this journey to achieve success, to come to a place where I have everything that I need in the priority order that society has told me to achieve them. The only problem, I didn’t find happiness at the end of that rainbow. It took a trip to Africa in 2012 to truly wake me up. I had been slowly awakening over the past 25 years, but spending time in rural villages in Eastern and Northern Uganda exposed me to something I’ve never experienced in my life. I experience people living life first.
I believe in the developed (I use that term lightly) world we see work as our purpose. We are taught to do the work that we are naturally gifted to do, yet no one really helps us find what that is. We ask our kids to go to school, to sit in rooms with other kids all asked to learn the same materials, at the same pace, with the same instructors all for the pursuit of what? Being in the middle of raising two teenagers, watching them go through the process of school and finding themselves, it is just amazing to see how broken the system really is. It doesn’t cater to anyone. The educational system seems to be designed to be just good enough to not get everyone pissed. It doesn’t really focus on anyone other than those who have strong wrote learning skills, the ones that can sit quietly and learn what someone else says to them and regurgitate it back. Where’s the creativity, where’s the passion, where’s the joy, where’s the attention to helping each kid find themselves?
I ask this question about our kids, but what about all the adults that are buying into the same system? Are we just focused on work and achieving what we are motivated to by commercials and every other stimulant out there? Are we asking ourselves what our true passion is and what makes us sing with joy? I titled this post LIFE . PURPOSE . WORK because I believe that’s the order we should be looking at things. The only problem is I feel like we’re taught the exact opposite. Figure out what work you should do, maybe you’ll find your purpose (whatever that is) and then you can live your life. I’m pretty certain we’ve got it backwards.
So the question becomes, how can we shift the awareness of those around us? How can we stop focusing on our work, whether that work is what provides us our income or just helping others around us for free, and start to focus on life? How do we start to define what life really means and how we then find our purpose. It shouldn’t be until those two things are identified that we start to figure out what our work is. How can we dedicate ourselves to work when we don’t even know who we are? I’m pretty certain that’s why so many people can’t wait for retirement. They never loved what they did in the first place. If we do what we love, if we focus our careers on the reason that we are here on this planet how different might our lives be?
I’d love your thoughts on this topic as we start to launch our new purpose based peer group initiative her in San Diego. The brand we’re going to use is 4-Purpose and the tagline I’m considering is LIFE . PURPOSE . WORK. I believe that is the order that we need to see things from. What do you think?
To a life well lived!
When I was in college I never pulled an all nighter. That’s right, I NEVER stayed up all night to cram in all the information that I needed to know in order to do better on a test. I always felt like I would rather get a good night sleep and be mentally fresh than not have the sleep. It served me pretty well in college, even though I was never the top student. I can proudly say that I never got a grade lower than a C in any class and I did graduate on-time and on budget. That being said, I had a meeting earlier this week with a new colleague and we started to get to know each other a bit. In our conversation we both mentioned that we didn’t prepare for the meeting, we didn’t research each other and we didn’t know that much about the other person. For the first time in a long time I met a fellow professional who would rather be present than prepared.
Now, I’ve been coached my entire life to get prepared for meetings and to have a really clear idea of what I wanted as an end result. What I’ve found on this part of my journey, which is similar to what I did in college, the less I prepare the more present I’m able to be. I truly have no idea why I’m really meeting with someone. More times than not, if I have a forced agenda I never get to the true opportunity at hand. If I don’t ask questions about someone’s background and assume that I know about them from reviewing their LinkedIn profile, I might miss something magical.
I find meeting people where they are, being present for them and trying to understand what’s going on in the moment is where I find power and I find fulfillment. I never know where conversations are going to go and that’s OK. The more I’m just there, just being present and being available, the better life gets. Are you someone who prepares for everything or not?
To connecting dots ….. one dot at a time!
Urgent vs Important
I was hosting a peer group this week and we were talking about time management and one of the peer group members mentioned the four quadrant concept of urgency vs importance. Upon doing some research, this concept is attributed to Dwight Eisenhower. The concept says that there are two axis, one that has Important at one end and Not Important on the other. The second access has Urgent at one end and Not Urgent at the other. This creates four possible scenarios:
- Urgent & Important
- Urgent & Not Important
- Not Urgent & Important
- Not Urgent & Not Important
When we look at this matrix it becomes clear where we tend to spend our time, on the things that are urgent. As I’ve learned over my career, the people that know the difference between those things that are urgent and not important and those that are important but not urgent and focus on the later are the most effective people. We live in an interrupt driven society with email, texts, FaceBook, LinkedIn and so much more. We are bombarded with information every minute of every day. Knowing which things to focus on is a critical success factor.
For many years I would focus on the urgent and not important and I realized that I was not getting very far. As soon as I started moving my energy to the long-term priority items, the more I started to put my energy in the projects that would keep the urgent and not important issues from surfacing, my life got so much better. When I was working at GE in the early 90’s, Jack Welch implemented a program called Workout. Workout was the predecessor to 6 Sigma and all the quality programs rolled out over the past 20 years. Workout had one simple premise, people liked checking off completed items, even if those items didn’t matter at all.
When Workout was rolled out teams of people that had similar jobs were brought together to compare their responsibilities and they were asked to prioritize them from 1 – 15. There was a Workout Coordinator who was trained to facilitate these sessions and help the teams properly prioritize their responsibilities. Once the list was complete they were to stop doing items 11 – 15 and if nobody said anything for a month they should stop doing them for good. What Welch and his team found out was that people were very happy working on items that weren’t really important but they felt like they accomplished something because they could check it off their list. In other words, they were very efficient but not very effective.
Another way of looking at this is the management vs leadership concept. Management is about doing things right, and leadership is about doing the right thing. We have so many opportunities in our lives to focus on the things that matter. We have an opportunity each day to focus on the activities that will produce the desired result that we want or we can do what’s easiest, what might make us feel better in the moment. Many years ago I stopped doing a lot of things that I realized weren’t producing results for me and just started focusing on those things that I was world class at. That moved our company forward. Over the years I’ve learned many of the areas that I struggle in and I have learned to delegate those to others. At this stage of my career, I would like to believe that I focus on the Important and Not Urgent issues regularly. How do you fare in this conversation?
To connecting the dots ….. one dot at a time!
Simple, But Not Easy
Over the past few decades I’ve been introduced to so many different educational concepts, business start-ups, ideas to change the world and so much more. Once I heard the idea I would make a quick judgement about whether or not they had a chance to succeed. Now, I can’t say that I’ve been right 100% of the time, but my judgement has been pretty good based on a number of factors, including the skills of the founders. There is one other criteria that I’ve noticed recently as well, which is the concept of ideas that are simple, but not easy.
Many of the educational concepts, business start-ups and ideas to change the world we complicated, and very few of them were simple. The ones that I’ve liked tend to be simple. Please don’t confuse simple with easy, they’re not the same thing. Over the past 6 months I’ve been talking to hundreds of people about 5 Dots and the concept of business development as a service. How do I just be myself every day and get paid for that. So, I’ve created a simple image that talks about business development as a process. The more I talk with people about it the more I focus on this phrase; It’s simple, but it’s not easy!
It starts with the simple concept of relationship development. How hard can it be to develop a relationship? I’ve realized that most people I meet can’t develop deep relationships because they don’t have a relationship with themselves! In order to develop relationships you need to understand who you are, how you relate to others and that not everyone is like you. We need to adapt and be focused on being interested and not interesting, and we need to genuinely care about the other person. It took me a very long time to learn about these things. Today, I focus a tremendous amount of energy on establishing deep relationships for the right reasons. I happen to focus on those people that have shared common purpose, those people who want to change the world, and I’m meeting some of the most amazing people of my life.
The next two steps go hand in hand. Once you know who your ideal client is, or your target market, you can begin to craft a story that is concise, compelling and consistent. Someone recommended a book to me a few months ago called Selling to Zebras. If you don’t have a very clear idea of who your ideal client is then selling becomes so much harder. This sounds simple, but companies can spend years not knowing who their ideal client is, and once they do the wheels start spinning so much faster. The art of storytelling is a journey on it’s own. Some of us love telling stories, yet crafting compelling ones is not easy.
The fourth dot in the 5 Dots methodology is strategic alliances. In my opinion, this is the single, most powerful business building concept that exists on this planet. If you can identify those companies or people that have your ideal client as their client, and they don’t compete with your offering, you have found gold! Again, this sounds simple, but finding those key strategic alliance partners that share a common client and are willing to open their doors for you can be critical to long-term sustainable success. Our last business, 4-Profit, was totally dependent on our relationships with major manufacturers like Cisco, IBM, Tech Data and others to make introductions to their clients. They wanted us to help their clients run better businesses because they didn’t know how to do that themselves. It was a total win/win/win relationship between the manufacturer, 4-Profit and the IT reseller.
The final dot is really simple, relationship management. There are entire books written about this subject and so many CRM systems on the market it can make your head spin. Again, this is a simple process but not easy. In addition to the dots, the 5 Dots methodology has 3 desired outcomes; helps our clients gain new business, deepen relationships with existing clients and help people recruit better talent. To me, the 5 Dots process is dedicated to those desired outcomes. When I show this image to people they smile and say “that makes a ton of sense” and we have a great conversation. The concept seems very simple, but you can spend a life-time trying to master any one of the pieces.
So, are you working on ideas that are simple or complicated? I believe most worthwhile projects are not easy, so I would focus on the simple ones.
To connecting the dots ….. one dot at a time!