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It seems fitting that the inaugural profile in persistence be written about Winston Churchill It was after all a Churchill biography that inspired the original post.

Few men have started faster than Winston Spencer Churchill. He was elected to Parliament at the age of 25. By the time he was 29 he had already switched parties, something taboo in British Politics. He wowed everyone on both sides of the aisle with his wit and raw political skill.  Before he was 30, Winston Churchill was the most demanded stump speaker in the Labour Party.

Churchill climbed all the way to First Lord of the Admiralty at the age of 37. He was young, he was brash and he was envied by everyone.

Then came one of his biggest mistakes.

Young and arrogant, Churchill devised a plan to open a second front during World War One by taking his navy through a narrow 38 mile Straight, The Dardanelles River. His plan would have his navy invading Turkey and taking control of the water.

His brilliant plan was foiled. While the entire War cabinet signed off on the plan, it as Churchill the took the fall. The failure collapsed the government and when a coalition government was formed, it was Churchill left out.

At the age of 41, the amazing Mr. Churchill was out of power and out of energy. In fact, he was depressed and suicidal. In his own words:

I don’t like standing near the edge of a platform when an express train is passing through. I like to stand back and, if possible, get a pillar between me and the train. I don’t like to stand by the side of a ship and look down into the water. A second’s action would end everything. A few drops of desperation.

But with the tenacity of an English Bulldog, he fought his way back. After taking the fall he resigned from parliament and enlisted in the army. In the war, he once again made a name for himself and stood for election. He climbed all the way the Chancellor of Exchequer before once again falling from power and back into despair.

Unwanted by either party, distrusted by both, the brilliant, brash, young politician began to age and was seen as by the young ambitious men of Great Brittan as a cautionary tale.  But he continued to speak.

But he continued to speak.

He was the first  to warn of the Nazi threat, even before Hitler was elected. He saw them first as a threat to his beloved empire, and then as a threat to the very idea of freedom.

On November 16, 1934, still while relegated to the backbenches of Parliment, he rose to denounce the threat as he saw it.

For my part, I have come to the conclusion, reluctantly I admit, that we cannot get away. Here we are and we must make the best of it, but do not, I beg you, underrate the risks, the grievous risks we have to run. I hope, I pray, and, on the whole, grasping the larger hope, I believe, that no war will fall upon us; but if in the near future the great war of 1914 is resumed again in Europe, no one can tell where and how it would end or whether sooner or later we should not be dragged into it, dragged into it as the United States was dragged in against their will in 1917. Whatever happens, and whatever we did, it would be a time of frightful danger for us, and, when the war was over, or perhaps while it still raged, we should be brought face to face with the victors, whoever they might be. Indeed, with our wealth and vast possessions, we should be the only prize sufficient to reward their exert-ion and compensate them for their losses.

When Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returned from Munich with the agreement that he bragged would save Brittan from war, it was Churchill who rightly remarked:

“You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.”

Standing on his principle, relentlessly climbing and calling attention to the security of his nation, left him as the only logical leader when war broke out.

He climbed first, back to the position of his great downfall, First Lord of the Admiralty, and then on May 10, 1940, he succeeded Chamberlain as Prime Minister.

With the power of his oratory, the tenacity of his spirit, and unflagging persistence he mobilized a people against impossible odds to emerge victorious and save Europe from fascism.

It isn’t simply Winston Churchill’s achievement that had him voted History’s Greatest Brittian. It was his ability to rise after his fall that makes him a true profile in persistence.

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At the end of 2014, I somehow stumbled upon a video of a Jim Rohn lecture centered around the importance of keeping a journal. He made a very logical case and I decided to start.

Since that day, I have since faithfully used a journal every day since to capture thoughts, events, and ideas. I made it a habit and I have done it every day, but somehow, I knew I wasn’t getting the full value of it.

That’s when I started looking for a better format. I found this post from Michael Hyatt, and I enjoyed it, but it didn’t really work. For one, I always journal at night and his template is more geared toward the morning. However, I was inspired by it enough to create my own template and after using it for a few months, I have to admit I have found both convenience and value.

Like Mr. Hyatt, I center my template around seven basic questions. These questions force to me rethink my day, find the high points and things I’d like to rework and the things I’ve learned. The following is what I have been using as a template:

What Did I Enjoy?

What Would I Improve?

What Did I Accomplish?

What am I Grateful For?

What Did I Learn?

What Did I Read?

What Do I Want From Tomorrow?

Using these questions, I get my day out of my head. I bring focus to what went right, what could have gone better, what I actually accomplished and what I’m grateful for. Noting what I learned and what I read reinforces the ideas that I pick up and by getting what I want to do the next day out of my head, I can sleep without having it nag me.

When I first started my journey into journaling, I used Evernote. I attempted Google Keep and even a pen and paper but I have found that the application Diario to be the best one for me, It syncs to dropbox and is available across multiple devices.

Technology has made writing and keeping a journal much easier. A great app that I love is called Coach.me and it’s a simple goal tracking app that counts the days that you do something, I find competing against myself to build a longer streak to be the single biggest driver of keeping me writing,

Using a template, a good journal app and an app that inspires me to continue has allowed me to find even more value to Jim Rohn’s advice to keep a journal. It’s worked for me and I would encourage you to find a system that works for you.

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On Monday I shared a post about how my coffee guy, Mikie, has built a profitable to successful company by creating what I call Mikie Moments.

At this time, you might be thinking, how hard can that be, coffee is cool, it’s available and it’s addictive, how hard can that be?

First, I’d give you a fist bump if you realized that I just quoted Thank You For Smoking, but secondly, being successful in any business is difficult today. Standing out and getting noticed isn’t easy. That’s why it’s imperative to follow these five steps to creating Mike Moments.

1. Be Original.

If I wanted Starbucks, there’s one down the street. If I wanted McDonalds, I could find it anywhere, but Mikie has me talking about him because he’s different and he owns it. I’m not the only person telling my friends that they have to drink his coffee. People are drawn to his authenticity

2. Be An Expert.

I had no idea what kind of coffee I wanted, but Mikie was an expert and was able to match what I drank before with what he offers. There are so few experts anymore, but the fact that he was able to lead me, established that I would trust him in the future. His knowledge led to confidence both in him and his product.

3. Set a Positive Expectation.

“This is just a taste, because it will blow your mind.” Yes, I thought he was talking about drugs, but he set the expectation that I would enjoy what he was selling. It was subtle, but it’s much easier to agree than disagree. Setting the positive expectation kept me coming back for round two.

4. Brand Yourself.

Mikie doesn’t just sell coffee, he sells the world in every cup. His great product and his great service are his reputation. People talk about how great are. When people are talking about you, what are they saying? If you take the time to brand yourself, personally, the words of your clients and customers will keep you fed.

5. Go The Extra Mile

By delivering my coffee to my office, it seems like a nice little offer that keeps someone who is busy from having to make one stop, but in reality, when Mikie is delivering my coffee, he’s selling everyone in my building. Do you have any idea how good it smells when he drops it off? And he brings it to me? He now not only has me talking about him, but everyone I work with too. Going the extra mile isn’t just about service, it’s about building his brand which makes him successful.

Mikie has used his passion for great coffee and connecting with people to build a profitable business with next to no advertising. The clues that he’s left are worth following.

Has anyone ever created a Mikie Moment for you? Leave in the comments, I’d love to read about it.

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Last October, I learned a lesson from a very unlikely source about being a successful salesperson. It started when I was talking to my friend Josh and I made a confession. I told him that I really don’t like coffee.

On the surface, this seems odd because I drink about 8 cups a day, but in reality, I don’t really like it, I just can’t stand the headache I get if I skip it.

Josh told me that I felt this way is that I wasn’t drinking good coffee and the lesson started.

Josh told me that I needed to buy coffee from a new company that just joined the chamber of commerce: Ridge Street Coffee.

That was interesting to me because Ridge Street and the street where I live are actually connected and come together to make a big U shape. It turns out that our back yards actually connect. Ridge Street Coffee was actually my neighbor. All this time, I’ve been choking down Folgers when great coffee, was literally in my own back yard!

When I got home that afternoon, I decided to take Josh’s advice and go buy some of this good coffee.

I walked around the block, up to his door and knock. This is when things started to get strange.

As I’m standing on his porch, I hear a voice from behind ask, “Can I help you?”

I thought it was weird that I’m being approached from behind, but hey things happen, so I asked for some coffee. I said that my friend Josh has been telling me that this coffee is the best he’s ever had and I’d like to buy some.

A middle-aged gentleman looked me up and down and said…” cool, come this way” and took me to the side door of his garage.

When we get inside, he finally introduces himself as Mikie. And asks me “just how buzzed are you looking to get?”

Now, I’ve never been a part of a drug deal, but I’ve watched Law & Order and I’m thinking that maybe Josh was confused as what product from Columbia I really wanted.

I reply that I don’t know what kind of COFFEE I’m looking for.

He asks me another question. He says when you indulge now, what do you use?

Indulge? I’m thinking, Dude, this is just coffee, but I tell him that Mc Donalds works for me.

To this he tells me that I can do a lot better than that and pulls out his digital scale.

At this point, I’m looking for the DEA to burst through the door at any moment. I can see the headline now, Local City Councilor busted buying drugs from neighbor.

I still haven’t seen any coffee but he starts telling me how the drug kingpins in Columbia actually use coffee to throw off the drug dogs and I’m looking for the door.

Mikie pours some of his coffee beans into a small bag and tells me that this one will blow my mind.

I’m feeling a little better now that I’m actually looking at a coffee bean and I ask him about the price.He replies that this one is on the house, it’s just a taste because he knows that when I try it, I’ll be hooked.

I timidly take the coffee, put it in my coat and hightail it back home before I get busted.

As it turns out, he was right. When I tried it, I was hooked. Josh was right too, when I tried good coffee, I didn’t gag.

Now I have the greatest coffee guy. Do you know how many people I’ve shared this story with? He didn’t just sell me coffee, he embraced what made him different and gave me an experience instead of just a product. He doesn’t just sell coffee, he sells the world in every cup. I’ve never been back his house, he delivers it to my office. Mikie has created for himself a marketing campaign, a following, and a fan base. by creating what I call “Mikie Moments”, and that’s a lesson worth learning.

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profiles

Last week I had a birthday. It wasn’t one that ends with a zero but it to me, still felt like a milestone as I turned 36 and officially hit the backside of 30.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEKjCJgMsIU[/embedyt]

This song doesn’t really fit because I’m still happily married and I don’t drink, but I think it is very telling because the years in a man’s life between 35 and 45 can be the toughest he will face.

All of my life I’ve done things early. My mother tells me I rolled over on my first day home from the hospital. That I walked at seven months and haven’t slowed down since.

I left college early to take a job as Sales Manager at the ripe age of 23. By the time I was 25, I had won sales awards and was working as a hotshot Sales Trainer, one of the youngest in the country.

When I was 28, I became the youngest United Way Executive in the State of Ohio and at 32, I was the youngest person ever elected to serve on our community’s City Council.

I’ve always been hungry and ambitious and at a young age, I was rewarded with a lot of power and influence and then one day it stopped.

The Mayor that I had faithfully served lost his bid for reelection and my influence over city affairs began to shrink.

My power as a nonprofit executive started to slip when the board that I report to had a change in leadership and my performance for the first time in my career was called into question. Suddenly, at the age of 35, I had a hit a wall and found myself stuck in one place and in a period of life that Churchill referred to as his lost years in the wilderness.

My time in the wilderness is particularly hard for me. I’ve suffered personal setbacks; my wife and I lost our first child, I gained way too much weight and we have had some financial difficulty here and there but this is the first time that I have ever experienced a crisis of confidence at work.

It was during a dark day when I was reading a Winston Churchill biography that I began to relate to what he was going through, albeit on a much smaller scale. His trials made me think of some of the other men that I had read about and an extremely interested trend started to emerge. A lot of history’s fast starters suffered setbacks at about the same age that almost knocked them out of public life.

There are plenty of good reasons for this. At this age, you’re no longer the youngest person in the room. The novelty has worn off and you’re too old to be the new kid on the block but too young to be an experienced pro. You’re just there.

The good news, however, is that for those that persist, that hang around and keep coming back, there’s a possibility of not only getting back up after the fall, but to actually stand taller.

My intention with this post is to introduce a series of mini-biographies of great men that stumbled during this time in their lives but through perseverance, will and grit rose to great heights. One of my favorite books has always been John F. Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage and in tribute to that great book, I will be calling this series, Profiles in Persistence and posting a new one every Sunday.

Many great men have been in the exact position that many of us find ourselves in now. The clues that they’ve left us are our keys to overcoming our own obstacles to reach our own potential. I hope you find their stories as inspiring as I do.

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Vantage Points

I’ve written before about my struggles with authenticity. Those examples can be found here and here. Today’s post may be about as honestly authentic as I’ve ever written.

There are those who do and those who talk about doing.

For a large part of my life, I was in the latter camp. I talked a lot and mostly, I talked about doing what I’m doing now. As a kid in FFA, a young adult in the workplace, and as a nonprofit executive, being a speaker, a trainer and a coach has always been something that I’ve dreamed about. I dreamed and I talked but I did nothing.

Then one day, and all great stories, have their And Then One Day moments, I sat in a workshop with a professional speaker. For the duration of the workshop, I thought to myself how I could be doing it better.

When it ended, I was driving home with my mentor and he asked me what I thought and with all of my arrogance told him that I thought it was bad and that I could have done a much better job.

That’s when he got quiet.

When he spoke again, he hit with some truth that I really needed to hear.

“You shouldn’t knock someone for having the courage to DO something that you only TALK about doing.”

He nailed me. I was knocking the speaker because I hadn’t developed the courage to actually act on the things that I talked and dreamed about. Whether I was a better presenter than the speaker that day was irrelevant. He was doing it because he had made the decision to go for it.

That’s the day I decided to start. It’s the day I realized that there’s more to being a professional than being good at something. You have to also have the passion, ambition and most of all the courage to go for it.

I’ve had my ups and downs. I’ve had to grow in areas that I never even thought about. I would have never guessed that I could build my own website, write and keep up a blog or even continue to focus on one thing for more than a month, but then again, I never had the courage to try.

The truth is, it’s much easier to talk than it is to do. That’s probably why there are so few true professionals in the world, but when you see a professional do something, anything, and think to yourself, I could do better, ask yourself if you have the courage to do it. Because you shouldn’t knock someone for having the courage to do something that you only talk about.

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Earlier this week, I wrote about my morning routine. Most of my Winning Ritual has been built on principles that I’ve picked up reading some really great books on the subject of productivity. I include my top four here, but I would love to read yours.

168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think

Laura Vanderkam, has written some really great books on the subject, but I find her first one, 168 Hours to be her best. It’s an in-depth look at how successful use the time they have to their advantage. We all love to complain that there aren’t enough hours in the day, but this brilliant book makes the point that if we use them, there are plenty of hours in a week.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

The overriding point of possibly the greatest productivity book ever written isn’t how to get more done, but how to control the stress most of us feel about our work. This book isn’t a book about productivity as much as it’s a blueprint for designing systems that will make our work more fulfilling. I have used Mr. Allen’s system for dealing with paper for years now and while there are some that think I don’t do anything because my desk is clean, I know I do more than I ever thought possible because I’ve eliminated unnecessary stress.

Take the Stairs: 7 Steps to Achieving True Success

Rory Vaden wrote a book about discipline because having the best system only works if you have the discipline to actually use it. Maybe it’s the farm kid in me, but breaking my life down to seasons makes a lot of sense to me. There are times when hitting it hard is the most important thing a person can be doing. This book is about understanding what’s most important, when and having the discipline to attack it. To take the stairs, rather than waiting for the elevator, because as Mr. Vaden tells us, success is never owned, it’s only rented and rent’s due, every day.

The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal

I can credit this book with giving me the inspiration to take control of my health. 100 pounds ago, I didn’t have the ability to manage my energy and I know that my productivity suffered. Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz not only tell us what to do but do a great job of explaining why we should do it. Using case studies of clients they’ve worked with, this book is a powerful call to use the best tools you have to bring your full engagement to your life.

I find myself referring back to these books constantly as resources to better organize myself and make use of the time I have available. They’ve been tremendously helpful to me as I set myself to win the day. What productivity books do you recommend?

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He who wins the morning wins the day.

Everyone has a ritual. Unfortunately, most people’s include getting up later than they’d like and running to get to work on time. I’ve had the opportunity to present my Smart Work Training several times over the course of the last month and when I talk about winning the morning, I usually get questions about how I set myself up to win my day. Here’s my routine, that I refer to as my Winning Ritual.

  • I make my bed. After reading an outstanding article about the virtues of making my bed, I decided to give it a try. I find taking control of the things that I can gives me a sense of power through my day. It’s a very small thing, but it makes a huge difference for me.

  • I drink salt water and lime juice. Charles Poliquin suggests pink Himalayan sea salt and a shot of lime juice in room temperature water. This magical morning concoction, does wonders for my adrenal glands, replenishes and rehydrates and gets me ready to tackle the day.

  • I make rocket fuel. It’s controversial, but I have never had much luck eating breakfast. Instead, I enjoy a big mug of freshly ground coffee blended with cinnamon, coconut oil, and heavy whipping cream. It’s a high fat, low carb breakfast that is truly rocket fuel for my brain.

  • I write down my goals. After reading Grant Cardone’s 10X Rule, I have developed the habit of writing down my goals every morning. I find it helpful to focus on what it is that I want first, and then develop a plan to actually get it.

  • I write down my top 3 priorities for the day. No matter what happens, I have three things that I’ve promised myself to accomplish. This is clarifying and inspirational to know that I have a target to hit. There are always many things to do, but narrowing it to three forces me to set my priorities.

  • I review my other task lists. I can’t make an actual plan until I know what it is that I need to do. If I can see everything that needs to be done, I can block my schedule accordingly.

  • I block my schedule. The old phrase, what gets scheduled gets done has merit. If it’s on my list, I have to find time to do it. I find that having a tight schedule gives me freedom by making one less thing that I have to stress thinking about.

  • I read. Finding time to read a new book every week isn’t easy. I have to own my morning time and read when I can. I used to religiously watch the news, but, using this time, to read instead has allowed me to actually achieve my goal of finishing books.

  • I groom. The details of shaving, showering and dressing aren’t that important, but having a ritual that I don’t have to think about is priceless. Having a suit and tie already picked out, a shirt ironed and shoes that just need to be

    buffed,

    makes getting ready stress free.

  • I tackle my day.Walking out my door with a battle plan gives me the confidence to aggressively pursue the targets on my list. Having a list gives me direction and my direction gives me purpose.

Because I set myself up to win my morning, I’m ready to win the day. What does your routine look like?

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When I was a young salesperson, just starting out, I loved to complain. I complained about my prospects (or lack thereof) my coworkers, my manager, but most of all, I loved to complain about my marketing department.

As far as I was concerned, they were the ones holding me back. If they turned out better copy, better advertising, more commercials, I’d be successful! For some reason, I never looked in the mirror at my attitude. I think deep down I knew I wouldn’t like what I saw.

One day, while giving the marketing department my very best complaints, one of the older, wiser, seasoned sales professionals shut me down with one line:

“If you’re waiting for the marketing department to feed you, you’re going to die hungry.”

He went on to tell me that it was up to me to make my own market. These were the days before social media, but he showed me his calendar. It was full of speaking engagements. He had a column in the local paper. He sat on three volunteer boards. And he worked his butt off on the phone. He cultivated the image of an expert professional and that’s how people saw him.

With some work I learned this lesson.

If You're waiting for your marketing departmentI needed to build my own brand outside of that of my company. I couldn’t wait for someone else to do it for me.

Today, it’s easier than ever. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook give us multiple ways to grab attention. Blogging, speaking and volunteering give us multiple ways to be seen as expert professionals.

Taking advantage of these tools, we all have the ability to become our own marketing departments. We can feed ourselves and not go hungry.

I think about this lesson a lot. Few things that I’ve been told have stuck with me the way his words have. It helped change my attitude. It made me take responsibility for all of my results, both good and bad and gave me some needed focus that has paid dividends ever since that day.

If you find yourself struggling, complaining and blaming, I would encourage you to remember this phrase and replace the words marketing department with whomever you’re blaming. No one is going to feed you. It’s up to you to stay fed.

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Screenshot_2016-07-14-10-39-42My smartphone isn’t an actual attachment of my body, but it’s close.

It seems like I’m always having someone make some comment about the fact that I’m always on my phone. It’s true, I use it a lot but I believe that it’s a perfectly defendable position.

I’ve always wanted to give a speech called What If Thomas Edison Had A Smartphone because I’ve come to the conclusion that when Steve Jobs put our lives in our pockets, he gave us the tools be more creative, more productive and more connected than any time in human history. With all of this power, why wouldn’t I take full advantage? I mean every tool that every personal development expert has ever recommended  is at my fingertips. Consider:

1. I always have my calendar.

I am a huge believer that what gets scheduled gets done therefore I make sure that everything I need to complete every day is scheduled on my calendar. Having used every tool at one point or another, I’ve never used on as good as Google Calendar. Because it syncs between multiple devices, I always have my calendar.

2. I can always take notes.

David Allen wrote that our brain is for having ideas, not storing them and it’s taken me years to embrace taking notes but now that I have, I always use my phone. Evernote is awesome but for my money, Google Keep is the best application you’re not using. It can work for simple notes, task lists, sketches, voice notes, the list goes on and on. Every time an idea hits me, Keep is where it goes until I can process it.

3. I can always find the answer

This is probably first on most people’s list, but having access to the internet and the powers of Google’s search engine means that I don’t have to know everything, I just have to be able to look it up. I almost feel bad that my mom spent all of that money on that set of encyclopedias when everything I need is at my fingertips.

4. I’m never out of reach

This may be a debatable point. Some would argue that constantly being available isn’t a positive, but for those of us grinding, the idea of missing an important call, text or email is a nightmare. I will agree with my critics that not every call, text or email is important, but having access and being able to decide gives me power. By utilizing folders and batching how I deal with email, I’m in control making my phone work for me rather than being a slave to it.

5. There are no wasted moments

How do I find time to read a book a week, follow 100 blogs and constantly read relevant articles? I carry a library, newsstand and magazine rack in my pocket. If I’m stopped by a train, I can read. While waiting for a meeting to start, I can read, doctor’s office waiting room? Yep, I can read and not just the outdated People Magazine. I use Aldiko for books, BlogLovin’ for blogs and Flipboard and StumbledUpon for articles. I have the tools to educate myself and I will use them.

I will not defend Pokemon, Candy Crush or other time wasting games, but I find tremendous value in the tools my phone makes available to me and I have no problem defending my use of them.

What do you think?

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