Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Do You Need a Hug?

As the gainfully employed hustle to get from point a to point b they disregard an act of kindness, while those caught in limbo are surprised anyone would dare to be kind to them. I remember Ben Folds saying that if Jesus was reborn into the street of a metropolis he would be shunned and dismissed as a drugged-out hippie.

We are naturally cautious that trusting the wrong person could turn a spontaneous act into our ultimate demise.

Shoe On The Wrong Foot?
In the corporate world we want to split ourselves in half:
The Work Self
... and The Personal Self

The work self navigates what we have to do while the personal self creates what we want to do. The gap between the have to's and the want to's is closing.

Our lack of perception reveals that the work self needs to be guarded and neutral. Every Executive I have spoken to appreciates straight talk. The personal self believes that we can put our guard down and say what's really on our mind. Most post-work bar conversations are cries for validation mired in regret for lack of effort.

Who's really full of shit?

So we leave the office and walk down the street mistrusting of everyone... even a person who needs a hug.

I walked down the streets of San Francisco with the CEO of our company during the protest period know as the "Occupy" movement. An unshowered young man approached her and asked her for a hug. Admittedly, I would have punched him if he touched her. Not because I was mistrusting of him but because I was protective of her.

Our challenge in life is not just to protect those we love but to develop a sense of protection for the human race. Our elegance as people is threatened when we neglect to give people the benefit of the doubt.

The Key 
You can't just hug everyone! You have to develop a sense of trust and to know better when a hug is necessary.

We spend too much time practicing our acumen and far too little time developing our common sense.

Some times people under-perform and they need to be fired. Some times someone neglects your existence to such an extent that they need to be neglected.

... and some times people need a hug!

It's easy to do the safe thing and to live your life in fear. It is far more difficult to crawl out of your shell and take action where you see desperation.

You can fold hands and bow to royalty or you can choose to interact with people who probably haven't heard an honest word in a long time.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Sunday, September 14, 2014

It's Easy If You Try

In the last week, several NFL athletes have been exposed for raising their hand to woman and children. That upsets me.

I'm fortunate to have been raised by remarkable people. It is not difficult to carry what has been taught to me to others. I'm fortunate... others have not had such luck!

It's easy to look at people who "have it all" and to judge their behavior. It is much harder to put people (not under a microscope) but on a couch. I've made my fair share of mistakes in life, I also know better. Are there people who don't know better, regardless of their fortune?

In life there are a few certainties:
- Actions Speak Louder Than Words
- People Will Mess Things Up
- It's Best to Forgive!

Words Are Meaningless
One of my heroes in life is my son. He is an incredibly thoughtful person. He is also prideful and some times his emotions get the best of him. He always apologizes for his actions.. which is nice but it means nothing to me... there are people in my life who are infallible to me. I should probably give everyone such benefit.

Apologies mean nothing to me because I forgive everyone the minute after they fuck up. I always have. We all suffer through the apologies for our actions but apologies mean nothing unless you take action to make things better.

There is a moment in the film Wish I Was Here in which a girl sees her man acting honorably and rewards him with an unexpected hug. It is not the words we say but the actions we take that earn the love of the people most important to us. These are usually unconscious actions that are driven by the pride we have in being ourselves. You should be proud of yourself...!

I am lucky to be surrounded by people who know I will take action to make things better... I know better!

It's Gonna Be OK!
I remember a friend telling me being a father is easy, being a father is not easy, but he knew I needed to be assured as much before I welcomed my first child into the world. I played a song for a good friend once and when I was done I apologized to him for it's imperfection. He immediately told me that the song was remarkable, it was not, but I appreciated him ignoring my vulnerability. My best friend once saw the pain in my heart and stopped his entire life until I got better. It took 10 minutes to get over my misery because my friend dared not leave me alone with my misery.

How to Win
I have the privilege of teaching, coaching and sitting next to my friends on a bar stool. All of these things are endlessly important. I cherish it all.

I had an adult conversation with a six year old yesterday. I've also held the hand of more than one person when they spoke their last words. What a pleasure we are afforded to live this life!

I don't disrespect people who have made bad decisions. We all do. But words don't solve anything.

Figure it out and make it better. It's easy if you try!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, September 12, 2014

Iron Sharpens Iron

I wrote a few weeks back about the Behavioral Economics concept of Game Theory. I have since had the opportunity to revisit one of my favorite films and to teach a class on how games inspire motivation. I also spend my weekends teaching 6 year old girls how to play soccer. I believe in the art of competition and the power of game mechanics

If my team develops a big lead in a competition, I rest easy knowing we have accomplished a goal. At this point, we are forced to play down to the level of our competition. While the aforementioned victories are far less straining on the heart, they are also less rewarding. We do not look back on 10-0 victories as our life's great achievements nor do we learn anything from getting beaten 10-0. 

It is our mission to be courageous. This means we have to accept difficult challenges...and conquer them....because we can!!!

Skills Elevated by Discomfort
Every establishment in the world is making a concerted effort to eliminate bullying. The only good thing about a bully is watching them cry when you beat the shit out of them. My friends, our greatest victories are preceded by that feeling we get when we see an opponent that is bigger, faster and stronger.  

The feeling you get in fearing a competitor is healthy; it ignites your need to prepare and execute. When you underestimate an opponent your odds of victory decrease.

Those who have easy jobs have satisfactory lives... but what good really comes of that? 

I have seen people live an entire life unfulfilled by any victory. If you are competing just to beat others your time is wasted. If you are coaching a team to prove your worth in this world, you need a psychologist not a whistle and a clipboard.

"without love in a dream it will never come true" - Jerry Garcia

If you unconditionally love what you do, you will elevate everyone around you. If you compete to the best of your ability, others will respect you. It is better to lose a game with your dignity intact than to act out of character simply to win.

There is no greater privilege than the opportunity to influence others. Every day is an opportunity to leave a lasting impression on someone.

If we are able to give to people the skills we have and they carry them on to others....

We Can Be Immortal!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, September 5, 2014

The North Star

What is it that engages people in their work? It certainly isn't something that can be packaged or sold.

Some people see their job for what it is worth and are driven to make as much money as possible. Some people want to use their profession as a social network. There are people who live to create extraordinary products and those for whom a pay check will validate a higher personal purpose.

The SCRAF model identifies 5 motivation types:
Status - I want to get promoted.
Certainty - I want reassurance that my job is important.
Autonomy - Leave me alone.
Relatedness - Seeking opportunities to socialize.
Fairness - I want a level playing field.

The thing I enjoy about the aforementioned motivational nodes is the lack of transaction in their definition. We can formulate a performance management strategy around Holacracy but packaging and selling these employee motivational mindsets is difficult to say the least.

So let's cut the crap: What Really Motivates YOU?

Do what you gotta do...
Every organization has objectives that are time-consuming and irrelevant. We spend more time complaining about said objectives than it takes to complete them.

You can develop and implement a strategy to complete meaningless tasks in short time. As a result, you will stay off the Boss' shit list and move on to what matters.

It's easy if you try!

Grow Thick Skin....
It amazes me to see Baby Boomer Executives with an entitled sense of pride that has caused them to bicker with teenagers. We have stereotyped the behaviors of Millennials to puke-able level; Baby Boomers are far more programmed. The exercise of changing a 30 year old strategy creates a fear of change which spotlights a lack of flexibility. If you are offended by what you don't know, you should be open to learn as much as possible. To become receptive to learning requires the ability to admit you don't know everything.

We all have metrics that define our success. If you do your job well, no one can fuck with you!

Our emotions creep in when things don't go our way. To every point that we make to excuse our lack of results there is a counterpoint.

Emotion is not a strategy.

You are not motivated by a reward or some neat technology. It is not your Manager or the CEO's responsibility to write your path to engagement.

Work should be fun and there is nothing more fun than winning!

1. Accept the responsibility for your own success.
2. Spend your time accordingly.
3. Make no excuses. 
4. Don't rest on your past successes.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, August 29, 2014

The Fruits of Our Labor

The summer in concluding. Soon the sun will shine less, the nights will be longer, and the days will be colder. As we get our last taste of summer our distractions fade with the sunshine.

It's time to buckle down!

Did you know that Snow Monkeys grow thicker fur in the winter? We can all learn a lesson from the ability to adapt as the environment gets harsh.

I wear a million hats in life: Business Development Director, Educational Committee Member, Volunteer Instructor, Blogger, Dad, Husband, Coach. There is one consistent in all of these seemingly disparate walks of life:


No matter how hard you try to do that right thing there are always those who have something to say.... a customer who needs more attention, a co-worker who questions your intent, an event attendee who wants volunteers to be well-trained professionals, a social media prowler who spends their day critiquing free information, a kid who thinks rules suck, or a parent who thinks your coaching style is insensitive.

Life's divine impossibility is pleasing everyone... get a pair!

I can tell you with certainty that the hardest thing to do is to participate. Most people don't volunteer because it is easier to criticize, condemn and complain. Trying subjects us to judgement.. most people don't like being judged.... and after a while we all give up on our dreams.

We have to be accountable for our effort and actions. If we know we've done our best it is equally important to stick up for ourselves. The critics will remain sequestered to their basement because cowardice fears intuition.

Emotion is not a strategy...! 
You can get pissed but you better have statistics (or a good story) to back you up!

Hard Work is Inarguable...!
Smart people don't always win because they get frustrated and give up. If you work hard and endure you can achieve anything.

The Best Advice I've Given
I told my daughter years ago...

"Be nice to everyone but don't take shit from anyone"

...word to live by...

Don't Forget to Remember!


Thursday, August 14, 2014

How I Met Your Mother

Dear Sam -
Happy Birthday Buddy! I cannot believe you are 9 years old. You know by now that you were born one year to the day that your Mother and I got married. I just wanted to let you know how very proud we are of you and how important your contributions to this world continue to be. I am so very happy that you are my son!

I'm hoping years from now you can look back on the things I write in this blog and share the credit for all the wonderful things we have achieved together.

There is nothing more important in this world than family and friends. All of our energy is powered by love. I heard once in a movie a guy said the love inside him made him strong, so strong that he could beat up anyone. I don't recommend beating up anyone, but finding someone to love always helps. There was this song this guy wrote and he was requesting of a friend to look after his girl. Please look after your Mom and Sister when I'm not around. Girls like it when you guard their honor.

I hope you find some great friends to share your life with. I hope you feel free enough to dance in public. I hope you learn as much as you can and share with as many people as possible. I've discovered that people who teach are immortal. That when what we teach is shared there are parts of us that grow in others... like branches on a tree. I take a lot of comfort in that.

Don't fear anyone but respect everyone. In the bible, Matthew speaks of treating everyone equally. You should treat hard working people with the dignity they deserve. You should ignore people who talk too much. It's also good to know that people are going to make mistakes and that they appreciate it when you show them empathy in their times of self-doubt. Never doubt yourself!

I've worked really hard my entire life. I've also gotten really lucky. If I turned a different corner, I may have never met your mom... what a sad thought that is. I think I was always going to find her and that you were always going to be my boy. You are always going to be my boy! I'm so glad to have found so much love in my life and I wish the same for you. In order to find it you have to be willing to search.

Give your Mom and Sister some kisses for me.

Happy Birthday Sam!



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Being Philip

The paper on my doorstep speaks of war, sports accolades...and death. I see a name that initiates memoriam to a person who has left a piece of themselves with me. They are immortalized by films, record albums, photo albums or years of blog posts. Many people have diaries that are locked up in dusty drawers, others have opened their journals to armies of strangers.

People know us for the work we do. Who we are outside of the office is seldom revealed. So we leave behind that which is documented. We are seldom our true selves when we know the camera is rolling. So we form of a version of ourselves who we become in the perception of others.

Some times we take solace in places with inviting door mats. These are not always the places that we really need to be but they may be safe from judgement. No one wants to be criticized, but how long can we ignore responsibility for the sake of what is comfortable. 

Do you fear change or responsibility? Are you afraid of how wonderful you can be?

Men like Philip Seymour Hoffman and Robin Williams may have gotten too large for life. They may have lost the ability to remember the little things. People may be disillusioned by those who had it all and chose to conclude their stories by their own pen. We don't get to see the words in the diary locked in the drawer. We only know what has been documented and shared.

To recognize potential lost makes it even more difficult to say goodbye. 

It is possible to be honest with ourselves without settling into a life that is not challenging. Our greatest challenge is accepting honesty and using it to better ourselves (and others).

We all just want to be loved. How much time do we waste pretending to be tough.

Nothing is hopeless. The answers are everywhere.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, August 8, 2014

The Contribune

I've just returned from Oxford, Ohio where I had the pleasure of teaching a 3 day intensive Leadership course to some of the world's brightest young minds. In teaching, I often learn as much as my students. In being around young people, my soul is always replenished.

We cannot ignore the generational tug-o-war that exists in today's workforce. Many Baby Boomers are retiring while the youth of today are refilling the human intelligence funnel. We see those new to the workplace striving to become relevant while the old guard is hoping to stay relevant. In prior posts, I have sighted my frustration with senior leaders who protect their knowledge base. Over the past few days, I spent time with older people who were overwhelmingly intense about sharing as much as they could to strengthen their legacy. 

It's become increasingly apparent to me that if we are able to share our ideas with multiple people, we can live forever. That which we share can be the fertilizer to grow trees under which we may never sit... our challenge is to celebrate that. 

People don't always say Thank You but that doesn't mean they are not thankful. 

I had the chance to talk to a person who said he saw me present 3 years ago and that inspired him to get more involved in our organization. This massively rewarding interaction is not unique. Changing the world requires developing and sharing ideas in rapid fire. It takes the guts to try, the willingness to fail, and the foresight to know you will be criticized. There are days when we are unsure if we've made any difference at all.

Keep Filling the Bucket...
If we are aware that sharing can create an immeasurable legacy how can we measure our success? 

I've dedicated my life to proving the relevance of the programs I create for world's finest companies.... sharing ideas without measuring their traction is metaphorical wind pissing. With that said, faith matters most! If it is evident that we believe in what we are sharing someone will put it in their bag and save it for a rainy day. We will all need an umbrella at some point in our lives.

Why would I leave my Northern California sanctuary to sleep on a cot in Oxford, Ohio? Because I don't want to die with my ideas. Why create anything that is not intended to be shared...?

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, August 1, 2014

Matters of the Heart

Zach Braff had a dream... to make a film financed by normal people. He was able to create a contributory viewer experience produced by more than 40,000 people. Those who contributed got a dogs eye view of the film making experience.. the songs, the dialogue, the images of life fading and the rebirth of the soul.

Process aside, there are lessons to be learned from a person who dares not adjust artistic content for marketing purposes.

Hiding in a Fishbowl
I know people who have suffered a loss from which they never recovered: a deal that could have made their career, that job they really wanted but didn't get, the time they got fired for trying something new. Winning is easy, getting your ass kicked only to stick your chin out and ask for more... that's down right heroic.

I have won more than I have lost in my life. I've adopted the practice of celebrating the victories and taking lessons from the losses. No one bounces out of bed with the intent to be inferior to anyone else. Champions have enough confidence in their ability to know that if they try again their odds of victory increase.

The world is a fire breathing dragon...grab some marshmallows and make s'mores!

Remembering What it Feels Like to Try
I would never want to disappoint my children. In the heat of the moment, I fail to recognize that letting my kids down is an impossibility. They have far more faith in me than I do in myself.

Our challenge is not to be perfect but to fail famously with the courage to understand why an occasional loss can be more important than winning all the time.

Interpretive Faith
Faith is a bench in our favorite park. It's always there and at times it provides an excellent resting place.

Every faction of life has its fanatics; people who see only in black and white. The world is painted in water color for a purpose. With every splinter of sunlight comes a new opportunity to figure out what genuinely matters... and to allow that to guide us.

The film Wish I Was Here is a reflection of human struggle. Our frustrations are rooted in what isn't. The only way to change the past is to make the future better.

The Future is Yours to Determine.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Generation Now

We've all grown tired of generational stereotypes in the workplace. Baby Boomers are giving presentations on how to manage Millennials, Millennials are sick of being picked on, and Generation X has all but vanished. I recently read an article sighting the behavioral traits of Generation Z (now the Millennials have someone to pick on). It's all a stupid attempt to simplify human beings into manageable categories to limit our desire to transcend simplicity. People are not simple!

It cannot be ignored that we are on the crest of a major sea change in the working world. With this shift comes a massive opportunity for change that has created a great deal of uncertainty. Regardless of when we were born into this beautiful world we all share insecurity when it comes to our uncertain future. Those who find opportunity in the wake of change will win the day.

Will You Be My Peer...?
Those joining the workforce have a desire to be accepted, not as the children of executives, but as established professionals.

The one thing new workers get a ton of is advice. A great deal of said advice is mislead. More often than not the "this is how its done around here" cautionary tales are mired in the failures of those who squandered their early work years accepting bad advice. Don't follow suit.

Can I Lead Now...?
Generation X has been lost in the shuffle. We watched reality bites, shrugged, and got on with our lives avoiding the generational stereotypes that have been piled upon the Millennials. With a new group of workers charging the workforce gates and an aging group of executives unwilling to give up their post, will Generation X get lost in the shuffle? Will they even care?

Loyalty is not what it used to be. Those who thought they would follow their parents legacy by being with one company their entire career have faced unanticipated disappointment. Companies have been critical of "job hoppers" but those who have given their lives to a company (only to receive a pink slip) have learned to know better. You can wait for your company to develop you or you can develop yourself.

Your Not Going To Tell Me What To Do...!
It seems as the sun sets on the extraordinary careers of so many Baby Boomers that they would be willing to share their knowledge. I've seen many examples that prove otherwise. Far too many senior staff members are protecting their knowledge base in an effort to maintain their careers. While it has been deemed a best practice for Baby Boomers to stereotype Millennials, the avenue to reciprocate has been identified as a road to nowhere. The road is shifting. What purpose does it serve to be alone with all you have learned?

We should exist in the workforce with the intent to collaborate in an effort to challenge one another. Titles, tenure, or years on this earth should be secondary. We love the new girl with big ideas and the confidence to share them. We love the middle manager who listens more than he talks. We love the old guy who still acts like a 25 year old. We're really not all that different....

We all have insecurities, we all want to be validated, we all want to be relevant... we all just want to be loved.

"It's OK if you don't know everything" - Ben Folds

Don't Forget to Remember!