Monday, March 30, 2015

Say YES To Events To Learn and Grow

If you are like me (and most business professionals I know) you have said "I don't have time to go to that event!"  It's easy to get wrapped up in the day to day of your business.  You put your head down and work toward your ultimate goal.  You are hustling!  That's the right thing to do, right?

Yes...most of the time.

But I find there can be huge value in getting out of your office to attend a business, learning and/or networking event.  It's a great time to remind you why you are hustling!  Here are some reasons why you should consider the next event that comes across your desk.

1)  Before The Trip:  Have you ever notice that you get a ton done before you leave for vacation?  Yep.  You want to leave with a clean desk, so you clear off projects that have been lingering.  You make decisions.  You hustle.  This happens before your event too. 

2)  Unplugging Helps:  Often you have to travel to the event, so you are less likely to be able to respond to every buzz, ding and burp of your cell phone.  So you set the auto email responder and you give that a rest.  With that time you can read an inspiring book, brainstorm your business at 10,000 feet or just rest.  You might come up with some awesome ideas before you even get to the event!

3)  Always Learning:  Events can almost always provide great learning opportunities!  So take the time to make the most of the classes.  Really give it your all to learn.  Remember, the greatest distance in the world is the distance between "I know" and "I do."  So even if you think you already know what the speaker is saying...dig in.  You might get something new out of it.

4)  Networking:  You might meet a person with a great idea or a new client.  You never know!  Be open.  Just make sure you go into networking with open ears and an open mind.  You might be able to help these new folks meet their goals.  Help them!  Don't like networking?  Do it anyway. 

So the next time an event (that looks interesting) comes across your desk, really consider it.  I have taken the time to attend more events in the last few years and they always inspire and re-invigorate me. 

Jump in.  You will be glad you did.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Here is Why I Am SO Lucky

Today I want to thank Jeff Haden for this post on the Luckiest Person In The World!  Wow...what a reminder!

Gratitude is a powerful emotion.  Jeff reminds us that each of us have very special people in our life that make it great.  That's part one of the article...and it's a great message.

But part two is just as (if not more) important. 

Tell them.  Let them know.  Remind them.  Make sure they know how important they are to you.

Don't wait.  Do it now.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Getting Up For the Big Game

Today I woke up before the alarm because of the Live PromoKitchen Podcast with legendary writer and marketer, Seth Godin.  I am very excited!  (You can still register here).

Of course I am up and excited!  For me, today is the "big game."  To keep the March Madness sports metaphor, Seth Godin is Kentucky...and I get to play him today!  It's easy to get motivated.

But what if you are Seth?  How do you maintain your passion, interest and "A-game" each and every day?

The truly great teams, leaders and teachers are able to make every day their big game.

Do  you?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Delivering Marketing Joy...The Show

I am so excited that I started doing the Web Show Delivering Marketing Joy several months ago.  What started out as an experiment has turned into my weekly lesson on marketing, entrepreneurship, promotional products and more!  I learn something new each week and it's an honor to talk to each guest.

Haven't seen it yet?  Then buckle up!  It's time to take a look back at Delivering Marketing far.

Episode 1...Mark Graham:  In my first episode we talk to Commonsku creator Mark Graham about his inspirations and a cool marketing case study gone right!  Click here to watch it!

Episode 2...Dana Zezzo:  Next up we talked to my buddy Dana Zezzo about being a trailblazer in the Social Media world.  Click here to watch it!

Episode 3...Jeff Solomon:  This time we talked with Jeff Solomon!  Jeff is the brains behind Free Promo Tips and tells about staying fit and finding a niche!  Check that out here.  

Episode 4...Patrick Clark:  Patrick joined us for Episode 4.  This time we talked about tips for Entrepreneurs and some great books to read.  This was a good it here. 

Episode 5...Tiffany Tarr:  This time we talked with Tiffany Tarr about her inspirations in our industry (and we even helped connect them).  Watch that here.

Episode 6...Danny Rosin:  "We should not be called Human Beings.  We should be called Human Doings."  Lots of great stuff like this in this Episode with Danny!  You won't want to miss this one.  Check it out here. 

Episode 7...Dale Denham:  We spent time talking to a tech guy about tech (so original) and also pushing yourself to be better.  Dale rocked it.  Here is that one! 

Episode 8...Bill Petrie:  On this episode we talked with Bill about how small companies can compete with larger ones...and how we should be willing to ask for help.  That's tough...I know.  Watch that one here.  

Episode 9...Roger Burnett:  Roger joined us on this episode and shared how he accidentally became an expert by being willing to try new things.  Watch that one here. 

Episode 10...Michelle Turner:  Michelle is a great small business owner.  She has a great understanding of how company culture really does impact the bottom line.  She explains that here!

Episode 11 and 12...Best of the Questions:  In these two episodes we looked back at some of my favorite questions.  How did I do?  That's for you to decide.  Here is Episode 11.   Here is Episode 12.

Episode 13...Paul Bellantone:  This week (and at the beginning of 2015) we talked with PPAI CEO Paul Bellantone.  He did a great job explaining why he is such an advocate for the industry...and why trade shows rock.  Here is that one!

Episode 14...Jeff Haden:  Jeff Haden is one of my favorite writers, so this was a big honor for me. Here Jeff talks about secrets to success (work hard) and why you have to push yourself.  You will want to see this one here.  

Episode 15...Jason Lucash:  Jason is the only guest (so far) that has been on Shark Tank.  He shares that experience and gives me a rapid fire quiz for the ages.  Fun stuff.  Here is that one.

Episode 16...Jessica Hutwelker:  On this Episode we learn more about Jessica and her journey.  She challenged herself to do something outside of her comfort zone each month.  Cool.  She tells you herself here.

Episode 17...Mark Graham:  We enjoyed talking to Mark so much that we had him back!  This time we discussed what it is like to have started (and run) two different businesses AND what it's like to work with his wife.  You can find out here.

Episode 18...Tee Hamilton:  This episode is about creativity and the creative process.  How do you get more creative?  Tee tells you herself here!

Episode 19...Mike Michalowicz:
  I read the book Profit First this year and it rocked my world!  Mike was gracious enough to come on and explain the concept and give insight to growing a healthy company.  It's a good one.  You can watch it here!

Episode 20...Tim Fargo:  Tim is so fun!  Tim Fargo is an author and entrepreneur and was on the Inc. 500 list...twice!  Here he shares us some great insight on being committed and appreciation.  You will want to see this one!

Episode 21...Rick Greene:  Speaking of is Rick Greene.  Rick talks about sales management and standing out in the crowd...and Rick knows how for sure.  Get some great insight here.

Episode 22...Ted Rubin:  Buckle up and get ready!  Ted Rubin is one of the most influential people on Social Media (according to Forbes).  On this episode he shares lots of awesome advice on how to do Social Media Marketing right!  Watch that one here!

Episode 23...Paul Kiewiet:  "Life begins just outside of your comfort zone."  Paul reminds us why we need to push ourselves and maintain discipline to succeed.  He would know.  He just climbed Mount Kilimanjaro!  Watch this awesome episode here.

It's been a great ride so far...with more to come.  Thanks for coming along!

Friday, March 20, 2015

3 Tips To Improve Your Brain Function

Would you like your brain to function more clearly and quickly?  Of course you would!  Nearly everyone on the planet has something to gain from increased memory and faster thinking.  As a matter of fact, you probably know a few people would REALLY benefit!  :) 

The thing is, the "trick" to a better brain is often not a complicated as we might think.  We don't need surgery or some science fiction drug.  There are several--very real things--each of us can do each day to help our own brain function.  Here are just a few...

Exercise:  It's true!  Study after study shows that 30 minutes or so of aerobic exercise will help to increase brain function.  (This also helps the body deal with stress, which helps your brain too).  A simple way to explain this is that the blood is delivered to the brain through blood vessels.  Consider these blood vessels the highways.  These highways get pot holes sometimes...and exercise helps to re-pave the roads.  In addition, exercise also helps to create NEW roads!  More blood to the brain helps to increase brain function.  So just 30 minutes of exercise a day can make you smarter.  Go!

Sleep:  When I was in college, I never subscribed to the theory of the "all-nighter" before the test.  Turns out I was right.  By depriving your body of sleep, you can actually decrease your brain function by up to 40% after just one night!  So staying up all night to study actually makes you dumber!  Feeling out of it or groggy?  Just can't function?  Get some sleep.  It will help...promise.

Stop Multi-tasking:  This is not my opinion's fact.  The human brain cannot focus on more than one thing at a time.  It has to stop focusing on one thing and then re-direct...every time we change our focus!  So by focusing on many things at once (i.e. music, phones, Facebook alerts, Snapchats, texts, etc.) while trying to work on a paper or a project is a recipe for disaster.

Our brain is a complex and awesome part of us.  I believe it is the number one indicator of whether we lead a successful and (more importantly) happy life.  Why not give it the best chance for success? 

So consider these 3 things to make your brain a better tool for you!  The best part?  These three (for the most part) are totally up to you.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Winning Cures Everything...Right?

There is a well-used sports metaphor that is thrown around on sports media all the time.  Winning cures everything.

You usually hear it when a team (often one people thought was going to be decent) is struggling.  And as the team is struggling, you can start to see cracks from the outside.  Some of the team members (usually the diva wide receivers :)) are talking to the media about the frustrations.  Some are starting to get angry with the questions and concerns.  You are hearing reports about fighting "inside the locker room." 

That's when you hear someone say "Winning cures everything." 

The idea, of course, is that when you are winning the frustrations that are really driving everyone crazy become less important.  The game ends in joy.  The hard work has paid off.  There is not a huge media contingent pointing out every single mistake.  The team is being celebrated.  Winning cures everything.

In business, you might here the similar comment "Sales cures everything."

If the company has been frustrated with tight budgets, shrinking opportunities, stern lectures and no fun, a big sales month can really perk things up!  A year of good sales can show the company as a total success! 

And while it is true that sales will help to loosen the stress in some ways, success can increase stress in others.  While things are slower, it's a great time to work on your fundamentals of your company.  Make sure the financials are solid.  Work had to make sure culture is right.  Prepare for good and bad days to come. 

That way, when the sales (winning) comes, you team is ready to deal with the wave that comes their way!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Way To Earn My Business

So let me preface this by saying I was asking for a favor...sort of.  I had asked a supplier if they had any specials on a specific pen they sell.  I had a client interested in re-ordering, but was balking a bit at the price. 

Yes or no was a perfectly acceptable answer.  The response I got was this:

"Sales the last few years have been in the $3,200 to $5,200 range.  Is there a specific price point you and your team like to sell?  Just trying to figure out what has been holding back our development?"

Now you might think that this person was asking sales questions.  They are just trying to learn how to grow our business.  And honestly, I am sure that is what they were trying to accomplish.  But that's not what I heard.  What I heard (or read) was,

"You don't sell enough with us.  What is wrong with you?"

So here are a couple of thoughts for my supplier friends (and anyone in business).

1)  It is NOT my responsibility to buy from you.  It is your responsibility to earn my business.  It is amazing how many suppliers are almost accusatory when they ask why we are not doing more business with them.  I would never send an email to one of my clients telling them they are only doing $5,000 with my company.  Call me crazy, but I might just say "thanks."

2)  It's NOT what you say, but how you say it.  Just like we have taught our children, the message is the same here.  If he had asked, "You are a great customer, what can we do to serve you better and grow the business?" then I would not be venting now.

3)  Say Thank You.  I actually did a video about this from PPAI Vegas because one vendor stood out at their booth.  How did they stand out?  They spent a little time thinking us for our business.  That's it.  Sounds simple.  But they were the one that actually said it.

The thing is, if this was the only email, it would be no big deal.  And let's face it, as Bill Petrie pointed out in this Salt and Pepper column, sometimes Distributors in our industry ask for too much!  I get it. 

But this has happened to me several times.  So here's my two cents...if you want me to do more business with you, telling me I am not doing enough business with you now is NOT the way to make it happen.

What Can You Do

As a parent or spouse or entrepreneur (or person of earth), you sometimes will be less than pleased with the way a situation turns out.  You might not be angry.  But maybe your response is more like "Well I saw that going another way."  Or maybe, "I thought they would be more appreciative, happy, excited to see me, or whatever."

It happens.

When those feelings come around it is really easy to project and wish "they" would be different.  It's natural.  It's also not productive. 

Better to control what you can control.  I try to ask myself, "what can I do differently?"

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Thing About Trolls

One of the challenges (or fears if we are honest) about putting yourself out there (or creating), is the reaction of the trolls.  The trolls of the internet (and life) seemingly just look for a reason to tear everything down.  Nothing is ever good enough.  They are always looking for a reason to rip into to something or someone.

They are the people that are mad if they can't find something to be pissed about.

The reality though, is that sometimes these are the voices that are the loudest.  They are often mean.  They are the hardest to forget.  They can be difficult to we fixate.  I get it.

But here's the thing about Trolls.

Trolls have (almost) never actually done anything.  They are in the business of "destruction."  That's really important to remember. 

You will never find a real author who writes a mean review about another author's book.  A real dancer will never rip into another dancer's online video.  (Can you imagine Seth Godin or Jeff Haden writing a mean review?  Me either).  They might offer helpful criticism, but never be mean and spiteful.  It's not how they roll.  Why?  Several are two.

First, they know how hard it is.  A creator knows how hard it is to put in the work...and to put themselves out there.

Second, they have other--more constructive--things to do.

Creators are not interested in tearing down (or Trolling).  They are creating.

Do that.  The rest will take care of itself.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Want To Influence? Choose Yourself

Recently, Dale Denham put out his annual list of the top 18online influencers in the Promotional Products industry.  He clearly spent a great deal of time on the list and did a terrific job of explaining his choices.  I was sincerely honored to be on the list.

Something struck me as I thought about this list.  Many experts, including Seth Godin, have been telling us for years that, in today’s economy, we don’t have to be chosen.  We can choose ourselves.  We have the tools.  There is no one we need permission from to make a difference. 

We just need to make the choice…and take consistent action.  Dale’s list is a great example of this.

Danny Rosin not only chose himself (by starting a company), he decided to make a difference by helping to create Band Together (check thatout here).  He puts himself out there by speaking on social and by mastering multiple social formats.  Danny doesn’t wait for someone to give him permission (right Danny?).  He acts.

Mark and Catherine Graham couldn’t find an order management software they loved, so they created their own.  In doing so, they created the OWN social network!  How cool is that?

And what about the curator of this list?  No one gave Dale Denham the go-ahead to create this list.  He just created it.  He put himself out there for scrutiny, disdain, discussion and praise.  He chose to influence us, by showing us who the influencers are (as he sees them) in the promotional industry.   

I could go on and on.

Now the irony is, any of us that were “chosen” to be on this list feel pretty good about it today.  I suppose that’s okay.  It’s human nature.  But if you are not on the list, don’t feel bad.  You have some options.

1.     Work harder to increase your content, engagement and hustle.  I am sure Klout and Dale will notice.

2.     Create your own list. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Delivering Marketing Joy with Ted Rubin

Each week over the past 22 weeks, I have had the great opportunity to talk to really interesting business leaders and entrepreneurs.  I started the Delivering Marketing Joy show because I wanted to create great content.  But I have fallen into a "master's class" of business learning.  It's been fantastic.

This most recent show is no different.  This time I talk with Ted Rubin.  He is a high energy social media expert that will explain (in real terms) how you and your business can create a long term return through Social.

Please enjoy this episode.

In addition, please let me know who I should talk to next?  I want to continue this series and make it even bigger and better. 

So who's next?  And can you help me reach them?

Bringing the Funk

I try to start each day by feeding my brain with some sort of positive "message."  That message might be a book, a blog by Seth Godin, or an article on  But either way, I think it's important to start the day by input-ing some "good" into the brain.

These things provide me inspiration, education and get my creative juices flowing.

You get out what you put in right?

But sometimes it's just about making you smile.  That's today.  So for all you people that need a positive start to the is this.  I hope it brings you the funk.  Smile.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Not Their Job

"Someone should bring some jobs to our area."

"They should start a company that does that."

"They should hire me.  Someone should give me a job."

"Why doesn't someone see my potential?"

All of these statements (and MANY more) are symptoms of a bigger problem with YOUR mindset.  If you are (or have ever) said anything like this, you are waiting for someone else to create an opportunity for you. 

You are waiting for someone else to fix a problem that needs attention. 

You are waiting for someone else to make your life better. 

It's not their job.  It's yours.

So they next time you hear yourself lamenting the group we all call "they" or "someone," ask yourself what you can do.  You will be surprised (if you really try) what can be done.

You can start a company.

You can bring in jobs (or at least a job for you).

You can recognize your own potential.

You can make a difference. 

It is both scary and liberating to know that the only person holding you back is you. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Breaking the Winter Rut

I am a creature of habit in the mornings.  I like to have my coffee, read some inspirational material, take a short walk, etc.  All of these things give me a start to my day that I enjoy...and help to make me productive. 

The problem with these routines is they can (sometimes) turn into ruts.

During this time of year (for me) when the weather has been cold for sometime, I find myself wanting to hunker down.  I come home and stay home.  I don't go to networking events (like I know I should).  I work out in my basement and don't go to the gym.  I don't make as many sales calls. 

These (lack of) activities can help keep me warm, but they take away new experiences.  And without new experiences, you can get in a rut in a hurry.  Variety really is the spice of life.

So if you find yourself in a "winter rut," it's time to find some new experiences and dive in.  Even if you don't enjoy them (and you probably will), you will break up the routine a bit...and help you get out of the rut!

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Power of My Why

This past weekend was the official beginning of competition dance season for my daughters.  It's an awesome time for both my girls and my wife...and they enjoy it.  Most of the time, I let them go do their thing with dance, and I stay home. 

So with all of that time by myself on weekends, you would think I would get a TON more done...and sometimes that is true.  But I am amazed by the amount of work that does not get done when they are not there.  It makes no sense.  I have more time to think and more time to do...and I often do less.


I think it's because Amy, Skylar and Jade are truly my why.  They are the reason I hustle.  They are the reason I want to succeed. 

So when I have all this time without them, I find that my motivation goes down.  I am not aiming for a super-sappy post here.  I find it interesting.  It shows the power of having a person (or person's) in your life that help build you up. 

So now I need to find some new ways to "get going" while they are away.  I am open to suggestions. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Books So Far This Year

I set the goal to read 50 books in 2015.  It's a lofty goal but I am on my way.  Here is a quick update of the books I have gotten through so far!

Start by Jon Acuff:  Great book to start off the new year!  I like Jon's style and it's a great motivator if you want to get yourself going!  Love the line "Punch Fear in the Face!"

Switch on Your Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf:  Not a bad read.  Ties bible lessons to science on happiness and productivity.

The Self Made Billionaire Effect by John Sviokla and Mitch Cohen:  Not bad but probably my least favorite so far this year.

Transform by Jeff Haden:  Really liked this one.  Lots of Jeff's best stuff in one place.  Great book to read one chapter per day.  Jeff was also nice enough to spend some time on my web show! 

Profit First by Mike Michalowicz:  Love this one!  Several times I felt like he was following me around!  :)  Highly recommend this one for anyone who has a business.  This has really changed the way we account in ours.  Mike was also a great guest on Delivering Marketing Joy! 

What To Do When It's Your Turn by Seth Godin:  Really good reminder that it's always our turn to step up and make a difference.  Quick read...great one to share!

Scaling Up by Verne Harnish:  This was a good one but I should not have gotten it on audio.  This would have been better as an actual book.  Great things to make me think...but would have gotten more out of it if I could see the references.

These are the ones I have completed.  I am currently reading Pumpkin Plan and Money (Master the Game).  It's been a great journey so far.  I really think it's helping me to grow.