Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I Had A Dream Last Night

So last night I was drifting in and out of sleep and this dream kept coming back.

I was on a large boat (think cruise ship) in the ocean.  Everything was going fine...until it wasn't.  The ship was suddenly in distress and people start to freak out.  We moved people quickly to the emergency boats, but there was not enough room for everyone.

As the boat started to go down completely, ropes fell from the sky.  I had the opportunity to grab this rope that went up into the sky, but I could not see it's destination.

I looked at the life boats.  I looked at the ropes to the sky.

I am not sure what this says about me, but in my dream, I walked toward the edge of the boat instead...

And decided to swim for it.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Are You Really Hustling?

I have long said, "If you want something in life, you need to go get it."  In other words, I talked a lot about "hustle."  I talked a lot about it because I love the notion that I am working hard...and I hate the word "busy."  It's the most over-used word in the English language.

Then back in October I had the chance to go to the Business Gets Personal Event that included Seth Godin, Dave Ramsey and Gary Vaynerchuk.  Wow.  It was an eye opener for me!  (You can read more about the event here).  I left that event KNOWING I was leaving a lot of "hustle" on the table.  I could work harder. 

More importantly, I could focus on the real activities that are pro-active and money making (that we sometimes put off) versus the activities that make us feel busy.  I could "hustle" more. 

So I did.  And guess what?  Business has been better ever since!

Today I came across this piece of video content from Gary Vaynerchuk that REALLY hit home with me.  He talks about the Most Important Word Ever.  Guess what that word is?  Check it out here.  It's my favorite piece of content Gary has ever put out.

This reminds me of two things:

1)  When I thought I was "hustling" before, I wasn't really.  There was more I could do.
2)  I think I am "hustling" now.  Hmmm...there is likely more I can STILL do.

So the question you have to ask yourself today is, "Am I hustling?  Or am I just saying it?"  I think it's a question only you can answer.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Give Others Grace To Grow

When I was 16 years old, I was an uber-competitive tennis player.  I would play adults and do ANYTHING to win.  I think back to those days and, sometimes, wince at my behavior.  Although I am still very competitive (ask around), I like to think I have evolved since those days.

The challenge I ran into, when I moved back to my hometown, is that those adults saw me as the same person.  So when I brought up playing tennis, there was hesitation in the response.  They did not want to play with THAT guy.  But it was hard to convince them that I had changed.  I had grown up.

And it occurs to me, we don’t always allow others to grow and change.  We see the mistakes of the past as the sins of their future.  We assume they are the same. 

I recently had the opportunity to reconnect with someone from my past.  I wasn’t crazy about this person back then, so I was reticent about spending the time.  But after thinking about it I realized that maybe I wasn’t all that great back then either.  Maybe that person had evolved.  Maybe we both had. 

I was glad I did.

So give people the grace to assume they have grown.  You might be surprised…you might have grown too.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Leadership Quest

I am extremely excited to welcome guest blogger Bill Petrie (from Brandivate) to my blog!  Today Bill shares his years of wisdom on Leadership and 6 traits we can all embrace to become a better leader.  Take it away Bill!

There have been countless articles about what makes a good leader and experts from Henry Ford to Richard Branson and everyone in between have weighed in on the topic. So when Kirby asked me to write on this subject, my initial thought was “what in the world could I say that hasn’t already been said?” 

To get my mind in a creative place, I surrounded myself in silence and allowed my thoughts to wander: I thought about effective historical leaders and their personality traits, reminisced about impressive bosses I’ve had the pleasure to work with, and mused about sports heroes who led their teams to victory despite overwhelming odds. While it was a great exercise, it didn’t result in any conclusion other than that there are a myriad of traits that effective leaders possess.

With that in mind, I decided to shy away from listing the attributes that that famous leaders have displayed throughout time. Instead, I thought it better list a few key qualities that I not only admire in leaders, but aspire to myself:

1.     Listen – This is a fairly obvious quality for a leader, but a difficult one to master. Too many times we appear to be listening while we are really formulating our response. Take steps to ensure you are listening with the intent to understand rather than with the intent to reply.
2.     Get Uncomfortable – Ask your associates for honest feedback – and mean it. When you put yourself in a position to be exposed, you become a real person to your subordinates. This vulnerability gives you the opportunity to connect on a human-to-human level from a position of confidence. Weak people don’t ask for or want candid feedback.
3.     Care – Take time every day to see your team members as real people. Ask sincere questions about their family, their passions, and their personal goals – and look them in the eye when they answer. Your associates have lives outside of the work they do on behalf of your passion – express a personal interest in the people they are beyond that work.
4.     Embrace the Oops – Grant your team the security to make mistakes and learn from them. By allowing your team members to make the occasional blunder and, more importantly, learn from them, you both empower and develop them.
5.     Be Slow to Solve for People – When team members invariably ask you how to handle an issue, situation, or business matter, resist the urge to tell them how you would do it. Instead, ask them how THEY would handle it. It not only provides you with some great insight to how your team members problem solve, it creates a true culture of collaboration where people feel valued.
6.     Protect the Culture – There are many job functions that can be taught: processes, procedures, systems, forms, etc. However, no matter effect the teacher, attitude cannot be learned. Show your team that you will preserve your culture by bringing in the right people, not just the right skills.

Obviously there are endless attributes exhibited by effective leaders so this list is not exactly exhaustive. The five points do, however, are great reminders as business owners and leaders continue to press their organizations forward.

One final thought – don’t confuse management with leadership. Management is focused on tasks. Leadership is focused on people. And people should always trump tasks.

Bill Petrie has been a LEADER in the promotional industry for over 15 years.   He is the CEO and Founder of Brandivate, a company designed to help YOUR company stand out in a crowded market place.  You can learn more about Brandivate here.  

You can connect with Bill via:

Sunday, December 14, 2014

If It Ain't Broke

I had a conversation with someone the other day that was complaining about her lack of sleep.  She was not as productive as she wanted to be because she just couldn’t get the proper amount of rest.  I am a big believer in the power of sleep so I tried to dig in and help.

But it didn’t seem like she wanted help.  Every suggestion I made was “wrong.”

Drink some milk before bed…nope.

Read a book…don’t like to read.

Don’t take your phone to bed…don’t be silly.

And this went on until I said, “So you don’t WANT to sleep then.”  She of course protested.  My guess is we have all had this scenario play out.  We have a friend or family member that wants to complain about a situation, but they don’t want to do anything to actually fix it.

This is victim thinking and it drives me crazy.  If you really DO have a problem you want to solve, you will need to try something new.  The old way is not working.  It’s broken.  So when you immediately eliminate every suggestion, you eliminate the desire for others to help you. 

At that point you don’t want a solution…you want to complain. I guess there is a place for that, but I am not interested.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I am a Fan of Happy

In today’s culture, I think we tend to define ourselves (too much) on groups we are for or against.  We say we are “republican or democrat.”  We are “anti-big company or pro-commerce.”  We are solidly for or against social issues.  We are black and white.

I struggle with these labels.  I struggle with them because each of us is looking at the world through our own (very unique) set of lenses.  These labels are incomplete.  They mean different things to different people.

So I have come up with my own defining standard.  I am a fan of Happy.

I want my friends, family, team and customers to be happy…whatever that looks like to them.

And that’s the caveat in this philosophy…whatever that looks like TO THEM.  I don’t get to decide for them.  They do.  You get to decide for you.

So go create the life that makes you fulfilled and happy.  I am a fan of that.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Getting Knocked Down

There are very few guarantees in life.  But one thing that is sure to happen…you will get knocked down.

The fact of the matter, if you are going to try and achieve anything in life (especially anything cool) you will have your share of obstacles.  There will be failures.  There will be people telling you that you can’t do it.  You will have moments you question the journey yourself.

But the true test of a person, a team or an organization is how they respond when the resistance shows up. 

My advice...treat the obstacles as proof that you are on the right track.  Understand that these are defining moments.  Take a breath and consider why you are doing what you are doing in the first place.

And get back up.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

When Things Are Rolling

“Sometimes you are the windshield, and sometimes you’re the bug.” 

Sometimes when you are on a challenging journey, you will work and toil with (what feels like) very little result.  But if you keep at it, day by day, you will find that you make progress…over time.

Then one day (if you keep at it long enough) it will bust loose!

You will see that the results start to come “easy.”  They come “all of a sudden!”  In reality they have been building over hours, and days and weeks and months of work.  And now they are all coming at once!  It is awesome!

It's time for "the harvest."  

The natural thing to do is to focus strictly on the harvest.  You become an order taker as the opportunities roll in.  This can also feel like the time to "relax."   This is when people will tell you to take a vacation or a day off.  Maybe.

But I say when you are on a roll…keep rolling!  Keep hustling.  The harder days will be back before you know it.  You will be glad you made the most of the roll downhill.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Be On Time

Everyone wants to be respected.  Your customers, employees, family and friends all want to know you respect them.  There are a million ways to show that respect.  Want the easiest way to start?  Be on time. 

Whether it is a special assignment, a meeting, a project, or a tennis date, the easiest way to show that you respect the other people in the room is to show up on time.  It’s also the easiest way to show you don’t.

Of course there will be times you are late.  No one is perfect.  But when you ARE late, apologize.  Be sincere. 

Oh and next time…be on time.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thinking For Yourself

There is no shortage of quotes that I love from Mark Twain (an original thinker), but one of my favorites is:

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

This goes against so much that we are brought up to believe.  We work hard all through school to fit in.  We want to be included.  We want to be invited.  We want to be liked.  It's natural, and in many cases, it's good. 

The danger, I think, is when we rely on others to help us form our opinions.  I see a problem when we like TV shows just because others do, or go shopping because others do (see Black Friday), or buy products because others do.  It’s a followers mentality…and it’s lazy.

The irony is, most people tell you to think for yourself, but they don’t mean it.  They say it because they think they are supposed too.  Folks want you to speak up, as long as they agree with what you have to say. 

But here’s the thing…as the economy and culture changes, nothing will become more valuable than those with original thought.  The scarcity of the original thought is what gives it value.  There are not enough people who are willing to think on their own.   

There are even fewer willing to act on it.

Don’t be discouraged by this.  Be encouraged. Thinking (and acting) for yourself you will make you very rare…and valuable!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Be Better Than Yesterday

I don’t know about you, but there are days that I wake up and I am not pleased with my effort from the day before.  I wake up thinking, “Wow!  You really blew that one.”  And it’s easy to get dragged down by that thinking.  It’s easy to allow it to ruin your effort (or at least color your attitude) for the rest of today.

Don’t let it.

Just be better today.  Spend your emotional and physical effort today working on making today better.  Make your effort better.  Make your intentions better.  Make yourself better.

Now do it again tomorrow.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Have Some Kind of Plan

I ran into an acquaintance on the street the other day and I asked him how he was doing.  He said, "Good.  I just got my realtor's license!"  Then he handed me a card.

"Oh cool," I said.  "You are going to be in the real estate business, huh?  What is your plan?"

And then the conversation came to a bit of a halt.  He paused and thought about it. 

"Oh, I don't know."

Great!  Well please let me list my properties with you!  What could go wrong?

Please understand that I don't mean you have to have it all figured out when you start a new endeavor.  Quite the opposite.  Anyone that has ever started any venture knows you can't.  Things will pop up and throw you off track. 

But how can you really be successful in anything if you don't have ANY plan to start? 

He could have said, "I am just going to work hard to get my name out there and get as many listings as I can."  I might have pressed him (just for conversation) on how, but it would have been a start.

So by all means, start something new!  Get a new job or start a new business.  Just give some thought to how you will make it happen.

I have a feeling it will help.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Just a Bit Cheaper

Have you ever had this experience?

You have been purchasing from a company for some time.  They provide good service, good quality at a good price.  The value in the exchange seems fair.  But, as a smart consumer, you set out to find "a better deal."  You find a new vendor for your products that is (on paper) the same but "just a bit cheaper."

And then the situation goes a bit sideways.

The purchasing process suddenly isn't as smooth.  You can purchase the product, but it's more cumbersome.  You get the product, but it takes a bit longer.  And then if there is a problem, watch out!  The service on challenges is non-existent.  Sound familiar?

For most of us it does, because we have all fallen for this "just a bit cheaper" trick.  The challenge, of course, is that when a company is doing the same as everyone else but they are "just a bit cheaper," then price is all the have to compete on.  So they are, quite frankly, not that interested in the rest of the transaction.

Everyone should look for the best value you can.  But just remember to ask "what is my time worth?"

As a side note (for us business owners), maybe that customer doesn't go looking on price if we were not just providing "good service."  If we dazzle them...maybe they don't go looking in the first place!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Hustle Creates Hustle

One thing I believe to be true:  Everyone in business believes they are hustling. 

I use that word a lot.  It motivates me and reminds me if I want good things in life, I need to be willing to go get it!  Talent is fine.  It can even be important...but only when combined with hustle.  We all know talented lazy people that accomplish nothing.

But there are different levels of hustle.  Think about it.  Everyone thinks they are "busy" too.  It's the most overused word in the English language.  But don't you internally roll your eyes when some people say they are "busy?"  The same is true for "hustle."

A few months ago, I was hustling.  Sort of. 

Then I went to a great event with Gary V, Dave Ramsey and Seth Godin.  The event was fun, inspiring, and motivating.  They touched on many aspects of business and made me think about ways to change mine.  But the over-arching message I received was this..."I need to hustle more."

Since then, I have been running faster, doing more, trying harder.  I was busy before, but now I am being more pro-active.  You know that important task you have been procrastinating?  That thing you know will be good for your business, but will be hard and uncomfortable?  I have been working to do THOSE things.

The results have been great.  Now I just need to hustle more.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What Do I Win By Winning?

We have all been there.  We find ourselves in an argument with a person who is just plain wrong.  They have dug in their heels.  They refuse to listen to reason.  This person might be a customer, a friend or even a spouse...and it can be incredibly frustrating. 

The next time this happens, ask yourself this simple question:

What do I win by winning this argument?

If you are like me, you feel like you can win the argument.  You can use logic, statistics, or brute force and get them to succumb.  You might not really change their mind, but you will succeed in making yourself feel better!

The problem is, you might lose by winning.  You might lose the friendship, the customer, or the relationship.  Really.

So take a breath.  Just ask yourself that simple question.  You may hear that question in our head and say "This is worth it."

But you might not.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Always Be Curious

If you have ever been in sales training you have heard about the ABC’s of sales…Always Be Closing.   In the famous scene from Glengary Glen Ross (from 1992), Alec Baldwin reminds us to "get them to sign on the line that is dotted!"   Though we can discuss the validity of that in current day sales, there is another ABC that I think always has value.

Always Be Curious.

If you are always curious, you want to explore that new place, learn that new language, acquire that new skill and improve your life. 

What I have found is that if you are always curious, you won’t have time to do all the things you want.  But your life will be infinitely more interesting than if you are not!

*And as a side note, the Always Be Curious philosophy is actually great in sales too!   By being curious, you are likely asking important questions that will help you get to the core issue of your customer!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What Gets You Up?

Last night when chatting with a friend online, he posed this question to me: 

"What keeps you up at night?" 

It's a great question that cuts to the heart of any business owner, salesperson, or parent.  What stresses you?  What scares you?  It's a great question because it makes you be real.  If you are honest, this question can create real dialogue and allow you to dig deeper. 

The problem is, in my experience, business owners, salespeople, parents, etc. spend way too much time worrying about the thing that keeps them up.  It's constantly around us.  We are constantly thinking about cashflow, or teenage drivers, or employees, or sales quotas.  And although we need to have these on our mind, because they are obviously important, they can become all-consuming. 

When I find myself being bogged down or overwhelmed by stress, I like to ask a different question.

"What gets me up in the morning?"

What project am I working on that gets me fired up?  Who inspires me to do more?  What am I excited to do today?

This question can also get to the heart of a person.  And it can also start your day with a totally different tone.

P.S.  One of the projects I am really excited about is the new web show Delivering Marketing Joy!  If you haven't checked it out yet, you can do that by heading to Youtube.  Here is the latest episode (new every week) as of this post.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Just Be Grateful

Want to have a better day today?  Just be grateful.

It is so easy to get caught in the minor minutia of life that we sometimes forget all the good things we have.  We spend time "majoring in minor things."  But when we take just a few minutes to really look around, we understand how much we have. 

Do we have bad days?  Of course.  But most of our lives are in better shape than we allow ourselves to believe.  Want to feel better about today?  Do these simple steps.

1)  Take just a moment today to consider some of things for which you are grateful. 
2)  Think about a person who helped that happen.
3)  Send that person a note, give them a call or send them a card to let them know you appreciate them.

This will not only make them feel fantastic, it will make you feel fantastic too! 

Now do it again tomorrow.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Consistency is the Key

I have heard a lot of discussion recently about how to become good at creating content.  There are a lot of answers from a lot of sources, but my number one answer is simple...consistency.

Most entrepreneurs, sales professionals, and leaders have great intentions.  You decide we need to institute a social media strategy or a sales strategy or (insert your plan) strategy, and so you set out immediately to do it.  And that's great.  The problem is, most of us (and I have totally fallen for this) don't think about what happens is 6 days, 6 weeks or 6 months, when business and life get in the way.  So the strategy stops.

But if you can keep it up...all the time...that is when the magic happens.  At first, you might not see the results.  You might not hear about it at first.  But later, after doing the work consistently, it will start to pay off.

I was telling the story of early in my sales career recently.  I visited a certain area every Tuesday for over a year.  I was like clockwork.  Each Tuesday I came into town to visit with customers and try to gain new ones.  Often I didn't have an appointment, but my customers began to expect me. 

After some success, I got to a point where I was not going as often.  And then I stopped. 

A year later I rolled into town (accidentally on a Tuesday) and I stopped in one of the places I used to go.  I went in and immediately apologized for stopping without having an appointment.  The customer said "That's okay!  You ALWAYS come on Tuesday!"

Be consistent with your efforts (whatever they are) and your efforts will pay off!

Friday, October 17, 2014

What are YOU Reading? Top 5 Business Books

I read a study recently that said the average person reads 1 or less books per year.  That same study said that company CEO's claim to read 60 books per year.  Think about that for a moment.

I was recently asked what my favorite business books are...and I struggled a bit with that.  I love to read and grow, so I have read quite a few.  So I thought this might be a good forum to share books that have moved me.

E-Myth Mastery:  This is the number one book I recommend to people who are thinking of starting a business, or already have.  I have re-read this probably 10 times and get something new out of it each time.

High Trust Selling:  Great book on how to sell "the right way."  In addition, it moved me to focus on the 20% of activity that makes money...not the other 80%.

The Ultimate Sales Machine:  Chet Holmes has a track record for growing he tells you how.  It's a good one.

The Thank You Economy:  I love Gary Vaynerchuk's work, but I think this is my favorite.  He tells us why we have entered an era where we need to "give" first...and how we can win if we do.

Epic Content Marketing:  This book is a great manual on how to create content...and why you should!

Bonus Book...7 Habits of Highly Effective People:  You can look at this as a business book or a life book, but it is powerful either way.  I have told the story in the past that this book changed my life for the better.  So I hope you can check it out so it can do the same for you!

So that's my list for today.  I am currently reading 3 more books, so I will update you on those soon!  What books am I missing?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

When the Critic Shows Up

It's hard to choose yourself.  It's hard to put yourself out there and take the chance.  It absolutely IS what you should do...but it's hard.  And when you do, it is so nice when you have people give you that positive feedback to encourage you. 

But if you are really pushing, if you are really hustling, that is when the critic shows up.  The critic shows up to put you back in the box.  They might disguise themselves as well meaning.  Heck, they might even be well meaning.  But when they point out what you are doing wrong, why your work doesn't make sense, why you stink, it hurts. 

It's natural to get angry and lash out.  You want to remind them that they have not done anything.  It's easy to tell them they don't get it. 

Don't do it. 

Accept the feedback (really listen) and thank them.  Not only can you learn something (maybe) from them, but they have given you something more valuable.  When the critic shows up, you know you are on the right road. 

Keep pushing.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

New Project with Marketing Joy

In this new media world, you don't have to wait for someone to "choose" you to have a voice.  You can choose yourself.  You can become the media company. 

With that in mind, I am VERY excited to announce a new project I am working on.  This new Web Show is called Delivering Marketing Joy!  It will come out each Wednesday and will feature me interviewing leaders in the business, entreprenuership and promotional marketing world!

Please take a few minutes to check it out and let me know what you think!  The first episode is with business leader, marketer, and all around great guy Mark Graham. 

Remember...choose yourself...and the world gets more interesting!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

People Stil Buy From People They Like

I woke up excited about today!

Today we will be celebrating the Hasseman Marketing Customer Appreciation Show from Noon to 5pm.  It's a great event where we invite our customers to one location to meet with many of our top suppliers.  This event is all about people.  We get to say "thank you" to our best clients.  The clients get to meet some of the folks we do business with.  All of us work together to create great energy moving forward (for the 4th quarter). 

In addition, several of our supplier partners joined Amy and I for dinner last night.  It was a fun evening allowing us to deepen our business and personal relationships. 

And relationships still matter.

Despite technology, and time and distance and our ADHD culture, people still buy from people thing know, trust and like.

Spend some time today investing in will pay off!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Why Not?

Do you want to have an interesting life?  Want to create experiences that others don’t have?  Want to create opportunities that don’t exist in your life now? 

Stop asking why.  

Stop trying to work through the details and figuring out the reasons not to do something.  Too many people talk themselves out of good ideas.  They don’t want to try new things for fear that they will fail.  They don't want to look stupid.  They are way to concerned with the “why.”

Try it.  Poke the box.

Why not?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Business Gets Personal...For Me

Everyone is a "nerd" about something.  It turns out I am a nerd about business and marketing. 

I know this because I recently attended the "Business Gets Personal" event with Dave Ramsey, Seth Godin and Gary Vaynerchuk and was really surprised when not everyone understood!  How can they not know?  It is SO important to me!  :)

If you don't know already, Dave Ramsey, Seth Godin and Gary Vaynerchuk are extremely dynamic business leaders, speakers, and writers.  This event, held in New York City, was a chance for people to not only hear from them, but get to meet, greet and ask questions of them.  It was extremely rewarding and inspirational for me. 

The event started with a networking mixer where other attendees gathered to check in and meet one another.  Dave and Seth even showed up and I got to meet with Dave and shake hands with Seth.  Seth also gave us a copy of his giant book that I had to ship home (it was just too big to carry!).

Then the next day the full day event began.  Each of the three spoke and each had a great message and a powerful reminder.

The event ended with a wine tasting with all three men.  Those of you that don't know, Gary created his national recognition by starting a wine show on Youtube (google it).  So the idea of him walking through these wines was just really cool.

Finally I had the chance to meet Gary and speak with him 1 on 1.  That was the highlight for me.  He is an energetic and dynamic character.  But what most strikes me about him is how "real" he is.  When I asked him questions, he was really there.  He gave me real answers "Now don't be full of shit!" and real attention.  

What an event!  Not only did I get the chance to meet and talk to people I admire and highly respect, it was a great reminder of why we are doing what we do!  At Hasseman Marketing, we are trying to lead by "giving."  Those gifts might be monetary, but they also might be inspiration, education and motivation...and I want to keep it rolling!

Leaving the Zip Code

I live in a small town in Ohio and I love it.  I have a great group of friends, customers and family in the area that make our life both convenient and fun. 

But every once in a while, my wife and I like the “get out of the zip code.”  No matter how much you love your current situation, there is nearly always value in getting away.  This time away can not only give you the “recharge” you need to help your business and your life, it can also provide perspective. 

The next time you are in a rut, get out of the zip code.  You will be happy with what you find…no matter where you go.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What Do You Win By Winning?

Whenever I find myself in the potential for an argument (especially in business) I ask myself a very important question:

"What do I win by winning?"

Sometimes you can spend a lot of energy and time proving you are right, only to realize all you have won is a broken relationship. 

So the next time you are are so sure that you are "right,"  make sure being right really matters.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Legacy of a Man

In his classic book "7 Habits of Highly Effective People," Stephen Covey tells us that we need to "Begin with the End in Mind."  Covey tells us to picture that we are attending our own funeral.  What do we want people to say about us?  What do we want our legacy to be?  How do we want to be remembered?

As dark as this sounds, it is a great way to envision your life...and then lead it.

Most men (and women) would deem their days on the earth a success if their legacy had these three real tributes:

1)  They Helped
2)  They Laughed
3)  They Loved

I bring this up because my grandfather Tom Heakin just passed away and I have been thinking about his legacy.  My grandpa was stubborn, honest, caring, fun and so much more.  But it occurs to me that he embodied those three things.

He Helped:  Tom Heakin was a generous man that served his community (on City Council) for many years.  He stubbornly voted his conscience, even when it was unpopular.  He took this civic duty seriously, because it was more than just about him.  In addition, he (and his wife) were always there to help friends and family in their time of need.

He Laughed:  Nearly everyone who knew him could tell you about him telling jokes and teasing people (in good fun).  He was always making light and laughing.  When I last saw him (in Intensive Care) he was suggesting the nurse should get permission her husband to date him.  His sense of humor helped to make tough situations better.

He Loved:  As my family worked to orchestrate his memorial services, considerations have to be made for family coming in from all over (including Alaska) to say goodbye.  He (and my grandmother) created a family tree filled with love...that now has roots all over this country.

Thanks Grandpa Tom, for showing me what a life worth living looks like.  It's a lot to live up too.  But I am honored to try.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Reason For Goals

"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal."  Henry Ford.

No matter what you hope to accomplish in your life, there will be times when things do NOT go as you had hoped (or planned).  These bumps in the road can often come at, what feels like, the most inopportune time.  And if you are not positive and focused, they can come in groups!  They compound and pile up until you feel like the universe is secretly working against you.

These bumps and obstacles put you in "reaction" mode.

These are the times when you (and I) need to revisit our goals!  Get them out and re-connect with them.  If you have not written them down, do it now!

The re-connection with your goals will drive you to projects that not only are you passionate about, but will give you a renewed sense of optimism and control.  You are not JUST focusing on the obstacles, you are driven back toward things that will get you on track.

Pull out the goals today.  Get in pro-active mode today.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Assuming The Best

My wife and I were out walking last night, discussing an issue that we need to tackle.  The biggest challenge is, there is a big portion of it that is totally out of our control.  These are the toughest (at least for us) to get our arms around.  If it is IN our control, then we can buckle down and get to work.  But when a problem is out of your control, it can become maddening.

So often we assume the worst. 

We fret about what will go wrong.  We worry about what will happen.  We get mad and frustrated because we can't do anything about it.  But that's the thing, we can't do anything about it.

That's why sometimes it's just best to assume the best.  It's not blind optimism.  It's not sticking your head in the sand.  But if there is nothing you can do anyway, you might as well dedicate that energy to something productive.

As the Dalai Lama said, "Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength."

Assume the best will happen today.  You just might find you are right!

Monday, September 15, 2014

What Do You Do AFTER The Party?

Remember how you feel the day of the big event?  You are tired, sure.  But you get out of bed at the first alarm.  You know you have a lot to do, but are excited to see it all come together!  You have worked on this event (or project, or party or launch) for weeks or months, and now it's time to see it go off!

You have plenty of energy.  You are excited about the feedback.  You are all over it!

But what happens the next day? 

The real pros get up the day after the event...and go to work again.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Any time you are trying to make big strides toward change in life (whether in finances, work, relationships, etc.), there are going to be setbacks.  Intellectually we know that.  We know that nothing really worth doing is easy.  But in the day to day grind, it is easy to focus on the setback. 

It's easy to get hung up and frustrated and ask "why me?"  Especially when these setbacks happen continually on your road.  It seems you are heading swiftly down the right path when something (whatever it is) gets in the way. 

I understand.

Today, keep in mind that progress can be slow.  But as long as you are closer than you were yesterday, you are doing fine.  Remember, 2 steps forward and 1 step back still moves you ahead.

Keep pushing.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Be "That Guy" or "That Girl"

I had the opportunity to play in my high school's alumni soccer game this past weekend (yes I am still sore) and it was a really fun time.  I am not a good soccer player.  Truth be told, I didn't even play in high school.  But they let me run around like an idiot and don't make fun of me (at least to my face).

At one point in the game, a player in front of me controlled the ball and was not being pressured.  Most people were conserving energy and waiting for someone else to run up.  So I did.  I ran as fast as I could toward the guy with the ball and tried to put myself between him and his goal.  He got around me and sent the ball to a teammate, but he had to make a quick decision.

It occurs to me that this situation happens a lot in life too.  We get in a situation at work, or church or home where everyone knows what to do.  Everyone agrees that taking that action is probably the right thing to do.  At the very least we all know that we need to take AN action!  But no one wants to do it.  We are all either too tired, too reticent, or too scared to be the one to rush in and make a rukus.  We don't want to be embarrassed.  So nothing happens.

So be the guy (or gal) that is willing to take action.  The world needs more of "that guy."  The world (and your work) needs more people who are willing to put themselves out there and throw themselves at a project or a goal.

Be "that guy" or "that girl."  Your organization will be better for it..and you might have some fun too!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Working on What You're Passionate About

Nearly every time I get bogged down in life, I find it is because I am spending way too much time and energy on things I don't REALLY care about.  The capital letters there are on purpose.  The tricky thing is, they are things I do care about...a little.  I "kinda" care about them.  I "sorta" care about them.  I care about them. 

I just don't REALLY care about them.

Derek Stivers says that when choosing a project to throw your time at there are only two answers, "Hell yeah!" or "No."  In other words, you either are totally insanely passionate about it...or you must say no.  Otherwise you spend a ton of time and energy on projects that take you away from the things you do REALLY care about. And that becomes frustrating because nothing gets done the way you want.

The key is to say NO on the front end to those projects that you are not REALLY passionate about.  But that is tough.  Sometimes we all over-extend.  So when we do, and we recognize that we have a lot on our plate that we don't REALLY care about, it's time to clean out the project closet.

It's time.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

6 Lessons From Anita

Like most people, I have had quite a few bosses in my life.  Most have been good, one or two have been bad, and one has been truly great.  I recently attended a party for the best boss I ever had...Anita Rector.

She decided (after being Dave Longaberger's first employee), that it was time to do something different.  She resigned from the Longaberger Company in order to take a new position.  So a group of former Longaberger employees gathered in Dresden Ohio to recognize her.  It reminded me of the many things I learned from her as I started my own "leadership" journey.

So here are (some of) the things I learned from Anita Rector.

Work Can Be Fun:  To be fair, I think she might have learned this from Dave Longaberger (who said 25% of your day at work should be fun).  But Anita led by example showing us that it was okay to laugh and have fun while getting things done.  The fact is, when a group of people join together to do something, it often IS fun! 

Sometimes...Just Listen:  When you come to me with an issue, I want to solve it.  I want to tell you what you need to do to fix it.  But Anita taught me that sometimes people just want an ear.  They want to know that you understand what they are going through.  I still struggle with this one.  I want to solve problems.  But I am often reminded that I have two ears and one mouth for a reason!

Be Willing To Pitch In:  It seems so basic to me now, but when asking people to do a job, it helps if they know you can and will do it too.  Are you willing to pick up trash?  Are you willing to serve?  By showing your team that the answer is "yes" you gain credibility and respect.

Be Compassionate:  Anita is great at knowing that although employees are there to do a job, they are people.  Sometimes even the best of employees have things outside of work that become a distraction.  By understanding that (and allowing them to deal with it), she not only allowed people to be better employees, but also gained a huge amount of loyalty.

Work Is Important...But Not Everything:  Make no mistake, Anita knew we needed to get things done.  But I remember many times when she, literally, forced me to go home.  She knew that I had a young family and I needed to be there for them as well.  She knew that if I had balance I would be able to be better at the office.

Hire Right:  As I look back at the department that Anita headed up (when I worked for her) I am amazed at the group.  We had our detail people and our dreamers.  We had our creatives and our task-masters.  Right brains and left brains all working together on a common task.  At the event the other night I told a few of them, "If I started another company, this group would be a great core to start with."  Get the right people on the ship...then decide the direction to sail.

These are just a few lessons...and frankly I am still working on these!  But I am glad to have had the chance to learn from her.  Good luck in your new endeavor Anita!

And, thanks!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Knowing It All

Yesterday I had the opportunity to sit in on a great educational Webinar with Danny Rosin (co-founder of Brand Fuel) about harnessing the power of Social Media in order to grow your business.  I am a big believer in leveraging the "social side of selling" so I was excited.

Before the class, someone asked me why I decided to take the time.  They pointed out that I already do a lot of social so I might not take much away.  I think this is a common thought process, and for the most part, a flawed one.

One of my favorite quotes is, "The greatest distance in the world is the distance between 'I know' and 'I do."  Regardless of the topic, you can always learn more.  In addition, if you are like me, there are many things you know but are not actively doing.  So these kinds of educational opportunities are great reminders of things you need to get back after.

But even if a class seems basic to you (and this one did not by the way), there is always more to learn...especially in a field moving as fast as Social Media Marketing!

So don't assume you know it all.  It not only makes you a pompous jerk, you also miss the opportunity to get better.

Now if you'll excuse me I have to go work on my Linkedin profile.  Thanks to Danny I know I need to do better on that platform!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Listen To The Other Side

I have been known to describe certain people I know as “Often wrong but never uncertain.”  It’s not a compliment. 

Though I love someone who has the courage of their convictions, I find that allowing yourself to consider (and then re-consider) your opinions has value.  The way I felt when I was 19 is not always the way I feel when I am 40.  Nor should it be.  But many people find an opinion (or a party, or a group, or whatever) that they side with and then never re-consider.  They cling to the same ideology regardless of what is in front of them. 

One of the best ways to really re-evaluate is to listen (REALLY listen) to the other side of an argument.  What is their perspective?  What do they know that I don’t know?  Why do they feel the way they do?

You might change your mind.  Or you might not.  But then you would really know.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Enthusiasm Is Contagious

Have you ever been in the room with a person who has started a new business, job or hobby?  When they tell you about all of the exciting things happening, they are bubbling with excitement.  After a few minutes, you start to get excited too!  The energy in the room goes through the roof!  Questions are asked and answered quickly and the volume and pace of the conversation increases.

Now bring to mind a time when you talked to a person that was tired of their job or predicament.  How was that conversation different?  Most people try to be empathetic, but no one wants to be a part of that conversation.  The energy level of the conversation and the room is brought down.

Consider those two scenarios when you walk into a room to talk to a customer, prospect or even employees.  Which are you?  What energy level are you bringing?

If you are excited, enthusiastic, and positive it will translate to others in the room.  If not, the opposite will happen.  Want to be an entrepreneur, leader or sales person?  Be enthusiastic!

Enthusiasm is contagious…and also necessary!