Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Fixing The Potholes

As is the case with many towns in Ohio, it's construction season in my hometown.  Roads that have been in disrepair, are going to be worked on and (eventually) improved.  One road near my home is going to have unused railroad tracks removed.  It's going to be great...long term.

In the short term, however,  it is going to be a mess!  There will be more dirt, bigger holes, re-routing, confusion and pain.  At some point, all of us (myself included) will exclaim "Ah!  This is such a pain!"   

It occurs to me that this is the case with nearly any major change.  Whether we are talking about a new exercise regimen, a new accounting program, learning a new language, marketing CRM, or fixing potholes, major change requires us to be ready to put up with aggravation.  There will be stumbles, setbacks and frustration.  It comes with the territory.  We must push through a time of inconvenience to get to the shiny new road.

This doesn't mean we should avoid change.  Quite the contrary.  But it is important to understand that there will be challenges along the road.  It won't make them less annoying (in the short term), but it probably will make us more understanding during the process.

Monday, May 25, 2015

2015 Commencement Speech

Recently I had the honor of giving a commencement speech at my Alma Mater, Coshocton High School.  It was a great experience.  I highly recommend it.  Here is the speech in its entirety.  Enjoy!

  Graduates, Staff, Parents, Grandparents, younger siblings that don’t actually want to be here but are being forced to by parents…it’s truly an honor to be here!  When Mr. Fauver called and asked me to speak today, I was stunned.  My first words were, “So have all the teachers that taught me finally retired?”  How did I get by the selection committee?

I say that because I remember myself as a student that struggled my first two years here.  At the end of my sophomore year I had a 2.-ish grad point average and was in trouble a lot.  When signing up for classes for Junior Year, I told a faculty member here that I was going to start making Honor Roll every time…and they laughed at me!  That’s how much confidence I inspired as a student.   I even had a teacher tell me they wished they got to vote on “most likely to turn the teacher’s hair gray” so they could vote for me.  Kind of a dubious honor.

But then I realized that there was one thing in common with all of my problems at that time…and it was looking in the mirror.  So I made a choice to be better.  It certainly wasn’t immediate.  And I continued to make mistakes.  But life got better, more interesting, and more fun.  And along the way I have picked up a few lessons that I want to share with you today…that I hope will help you in your next season of life.

Continue to Grow:  I am NOT talking about the freshman 15!  Now that you are graduating, please don’t make the mistake that so many make and think you are done learning (whether you are going on to further education or not!).  Learn as much as you can about as much as you can.  It not only makes LIFE more interesting (and it does) but also makes YOU more interesting.  It also has the added benefit of helping you be more successful. 

Be Willing to Fail:  Now this has levels.  If you fail at Skydiving…it’s game over.  But in most things, you try, you fail, you learn, you try again.  You get better.  That’s how it ALWAYS works in life.  But as we get older we get afraid to fail.  Sometimes we think it makes us look bad or stupid.  But that’s how we learn cool new things!  Try, Fail, Push Yourself…Good things happen!  Remember…life begins just outside of your comfort zone.

Stretch Your Perspective:  Leave the zip code.  I love Coshocton County.  I grew up here.  But there is nothing more I wanted (other than to win Wimbledon) when I was your age than to LEAVE Coshocton County.  I think it’s important for us all to leave the zip code.  This is a GREAT place to live and work and raise a family.  But how do you know that if you have nothing to compare it too?  Go.  See.  Explore.  Gain new perspective.  And if and when you decide to come back, you will do so with an expanded perspective that can help us grow and improve our community.

Side note:  When you do come back, don’t insult Coshocton to those who choose to live here.  If you don’t like it…that’s cool.  But don’t be so narrow sighted that you lose sight that I CHOOSE to live here.  If you continually say it sucks…you are saying I suck.  Be smarter than that.

Don’t use the words “They” and “Deserve”.  These are “vicitm’s” words.  There is no group in the world that gets more blame than “they.”  They should be doing this or they should do that.  THEY don’t owe you anything.   Say instead, “I am a part of THEY.  We are starting a new group called WE…and YOU are welcome to be a part of it!”  It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t wait for others to do it.

In addition, don’t use the word Deserve.  You don’t deserve anything.  You earn it.  No one owes you a good job, a good community or a happy life.  If you want it…go get it.  It’s up to you.  Replace the word “deserve” with earn.  I think you will be happy with the results.

Push out Good…Get Good back.  Want to make the world a better place?  Do one good thing.  This is NOT some hippie notion…it’s science.  When you do something nice for someone you get a boost of Oxytocin (it’s an internal chemical that makes you feel good and actually helps you in other healthy ways).  That’s great.  But the person who you were nice too gets an equal boost in Oxytocin.  Makes sense right?  But here’s the best part.  The person who just saw it happen gets an equal boost in Oxytocin.  Want to make the world better?  For real?  Be kind. 

Choose better thoughts:  Here is the most controversial thing I will say today.  Humans don’t create thoughts.  Before you dismiss me completely out of hand let me give you an exercise.  Stop thinking.  Go.  Remember “stop thinking” is a thought.  Instead keep in mind that thoughts are coming to you all the time like the ticker tape at the bottom of the CNBC investment channel.  What you DO have the power to do…is select the right thoughts.  When a negative or crummy thought comes by, you have the power to say “nah.”  But when a good thought comes by “I can do this” you say “yes I will take that one.” 

You cannot act (long term) inconsistently with your thoughts.  So if you want to have a better life, choose better thoughts.

Exercise.  So often we give this up when we leave our youth.  But don’t.  This doesn’t mean you have to run a marathon (though that’s not bad).  It means you need to take care of your body.  Exercise not only makes you healthier, but it decreases stress, it helps you sleep and it increases brain function.  So for all you intellectuals out there who look down on athletics…don’t.  Exercise actually makes you smarter.  So do it…before it’s too late.

Define Yourself By Things You Love:  I think there are way too many people that define themselves by the things they DON’T like.  They say “I hate hip hop music” or I don’t like Liberals or I hate Kanye.  Don’t just be Ant-stuff.  Be Pro-Stuff.  Be passionate about things you love.  Be unabashedly excited about the things you are excited about.  People will respond to it…and it will make your life more fun too.

Be Nice To Those You Don’t Have To Be Nice Too:  You can tell the true character of a person by how they treat people they don’t have to be nice too.  Most everyone is nice to their boss…or someone who can help them in some way.  But if you are a jerk to the waitress…you are probably a jerk.

Tell Them About It:  I have a rule in life that if I ever catch myself talking—in a good way—about someone behind their back…I tell them.  When you have something nice to say to someone, let them know.  You never know how much that might mean to them at the time.  Send a card, email, text, Twitter or Snapchat…whatever.  Let them know.  You will never been disappointed by pushing out good into the world.  We could use more of it.

Choose Yourself:   One of the great mistakes in life, I think, is to wait for someone (anyone) to give you permission to be awesome.  We go to school, follow the path and hope that someone will “give” us a job.  We wait for “them” to give us an opportunity.  We hope that “they” will fix the potholes, improve the economy, start a business or make the world a better place.  Stop it!  If you want something…anything…to be better…do it yourself.  Don’t wait for a job—create one.  Don’t just join a movement—start one.  It’s not for me to give you permission.  Choose yourself.

Final Thought in a riddle:  3 Frogs are sitting on a stump and 1 of them decides to jump off.  How many Frogs are left?  The answer is 3.  The one that decided to jump…did not jump.  It may sound trivial, but it is the difference of a life worth lived and not.  Nothing really matters until you take action.  If you have an idea…great.  But what do you DO about it?  What action do you take? 

Back to the beginning…it’s all about choices.  So choose to DO.  Go out and make your mark on this world.  Make us proud.  Write your book.  Start your business.  Fall in love.  Start a family.  Get a job.  Whatever.  Just DO.  Choose to Do.

Congratulations graduates…and good luck!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Being There

I am a tech fan.  I am not a "technology is the devil" person.  I love my computer and my phone and the connectivity.  I am on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and LinkedIn and Snapchat.  I love it!  We are connected in ways that we could not have imagined even 10 years ago...and it's great!

But here is one thing I have noticed.  There is no more lonely room than when you are in a room full of people all staring at their own devices. 

Technology has connected us in many ways that are amazing.  But never forget that Skype can't replace the handshake.  We are still human beings. 

So the next time you are with your family, or your team, or your parents...be there.  Your emails, texts, Facebook and Twitter will be there when you get back. 

If you want to give a great gift to your loved ones...give them your attention.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

My Reading List So Far

I set the goal to read 50 books in 2015.  It's a lofty goal but I am on my way.  I have been asked for a rundown of my list so far...so here we go!

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!"  (Side note:  Since I wrote this I saw Jon speak...awesome.  If you get a chance you should see him!  He has a new book called Do Over!)

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.

Pumpkin Plan: by Mike Michalowicz.  This is another great book for those trying to figure out how to grow your business.  "The riches are in the niches."  I really like Mike's books.  Recommend for sure!

Mastering Monday:  by John Beckett.  This is a good reminder that Monday does not stink if your work (and your life) have a purpose.

New Rules of Sales and Service:  by David Meerman Scott.  If you are not a believer that you can make a huge difference in your business by "giving first," read this one.  He lays out a great case for being a content leader.

The Automatic Customer:  by John Warrillow.  This is another game changer for me this year.  This one opened my mind that nearly any business can be a "subscription business."  I am getting ready to launch a new business and the idea came from this book!  Love it.

Duct Tape Selling: by John Jantsch.  The beginning of this and New Rules were similar.  But I liked that the 2nd half dug into the "how" a little more.  Good one.

Invisible Selling Machine: by Ryan Deiss.  It's a quick read for sure.  But if you want to become a real pro in email marketing, this has some weight.  I use Infusionsoft and I am going through this book to make sure I am setting sequences better.

Train Your Brain For Success: by Roger Seip.  Love the tips in here on how to read faster and remember more.  Once you get through that, good tips on being more successful in life.

SCRUM:  The Art of Doing Twice The Work in Half the Time:  by Jeff Sutherland.  Scrum is a concept created in software development.  If you are getting ready to create a new company or launch a new project, this is a great read first!

Awesomely Simple: by John Spence.  So many times in business, we over think.  We over analyze.  In reality, business success is simple.  This book highlights the down and dirty truth about success in business.

The Undefeated Mind: by Alex Lickerman.  If you are struggling with any issues in life, this book is a great resource to show you how to be resilient.  Dark at times...but shows real life examples on how to overcome.

The Power of Money: Several Speakers.  I thought this was a book but was actually a compilation of teachers.  There are always nuggets of wisdom in any book (and this one had them) but it was not what I expected.

Mastermind Dinners: Jayson Gaignard.  This one was definitely short and sweet.  Jason takes networking to the next level by curating Mastermind Dinners.  Interesting concept for sure.

Nail It Then Scale It: by Nathan Furr and Paul Ahlstrom.  Real similarities to the Scrum concept.  The book says the way we create businesses is broken.  I enjoyed this one.  It's on my mind as I ready to launch a new project.

It Takes More Than A Big Smile, A Good Idea and a Twitter Account: by Wes Schaeffer.  This has some real nuggets.  It's a compilation of blog posts from Wes.  Great for sales professionals and sales managers.

So that's where we are at this point!  New recommendations welcome!

Hear Your Own Voice

If you have been following me on nearly any social venue, you know I have set the goal to read 50 (non-fiction) books this year.  Though there are probably some people who read much more than this, it is keeping me busy!  That being said, it has been very rewarding too.  Not only has it been inspirational, but it has created some real breakthrough moments in business too.  I can't wait to see where it all leads.

There has been one side effect that I did not expect.  I have not left time to hear my own voice.

In the past, running and mowing the lawn, and walking have been times when I have let my mind wander.  It's given me time to think through challenges, brainstorm ideas, and consider things I have heard and read.  Now I am using those time to read (or listen) to new books.

I need to give myself some time to hear my own voice.

In considering this, I don't think I am alone.  Often many of us fill the empty time and space of our day with "stuff."  It might be books.  Or (more often I think) it might be trivial, mind-numbing, time filling crap that does not provide value.  It just kills time until the next activity.  Sometimes that's cool.

But sometimes we need to hear our own voice. 

Give yourself some quiet time think about ideas, or consider opportunities, or brainstorm.  Those moments will be well-spent.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

What Will You Do?

Here's a riddle:

There are 3 frogs sitting on a log and one of them decides to jump.  How many frogs are left?

If you said 2, you are wrong.  It's the challenge, I think, we have with a lot of endeavors in life.  There are still 3 frogs sitting on the log.  The one decided to jump...but it didn't ACTUALLY jump.

Lots of people have great ideas.  Most people have great intentions.  But what do they actually do?

Want to make difference in the world?  In your community?  In your job?  In your life?

Take the idea or the intention or the knowledge...and do.

Take action.  You will be glad you did.  And even if you are not glad, you will have learned something.

Stop thinking about it, my tadpoles.  Jump.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Overnight Social Media Success

I was talking to a peer in my industry the other day and they commented that "all of a sudden" this one person "was everywhere!"  They continued on that "Every time I get online I see their blog, their posts or name or something." 

It's funny...I think that's how some people think social (and life) works.  They believe the world just picks random people and anoints them as interesting.  So now it's their turn to show up "everywhere." 

Of course that couldn't be further from the truth.  The truth is, this person that is now an "overnight success" has been working hard every day for the last year or so.  They post a blog several times a week.  They comment on others content every day.  They engage.  They help.  They are positive and constructive.  They provide value.

And they have been doing so, consistently, for over a year.  Now they are "an overnight success."

The bad news for the people that think they can start social and become a success overnight is, that is not the way it works.  You have to put in the work.  You have to provide value every day...long term.

The good news is, you can do it.  You don't need anyone else's permission. 

So what's holding you back from being an "overnight success?"

Friday, May 1, 2015

Why Vision and Value Matter

I was in a meeting the other day with a small group of people working on an event fundraiser.  The event is big, fun and raises money for a great cause for my community.  I really enjoy these types of meetings...most of the time.  But this one was a struggle. 

It seemed like every agenda point was an argument.  No matter the discussion point, one group wanted to move in one direction, and the other group wanted to move another.  So it seemed like the whole meeting was in tension.  I couldn't figure it out.  We all wanted to create this event, why were we arguing? 

Then it hit me.  Our VISION for the event was totally different. 

When Vision and Values don't align, the entire event (or organization) becomes a struggle.  You have one group working diligently in one direction while another might be pulling the rope in another.  Maybe this seems obvious, but sometimes it's hard to see.  You just think the other group is trying to undermine you.  It disguises itself as politics, or worse, incompetence. 

When you understand this is happening there are only a few things you can do. 

1.  Huddle up:   Get the team together and put it out in the open.  Try and get the vision and values to align.  When you point out the different goals, you might even have an "aha" moment.  Often the team doesn't know they are working against each other. 

2.  Redefine the Vision:  Once you get everyone at the table, agree to what the new vision should be!  Work toward that.

3.  Reframe the Group:  Sometimes the vision can't be aligned.  When that happens, it's better to allow people to (respectfully) leave the group (even maybe you!).  Then the group can get together and chase the goal they all have in common!

Get the group on the same path of Vision and Values and you might create a real winner!