It doesn’t happen often, but every now and again, I will admit that I’ve been mistaken. Notice I didn’t say that it doesn’t happen often that I’m wrong, it’s that I only admit it every now and again. This is one of those times.  For years, I used to think that one of the worst words in the English language to use is the word BUT. I wrote a blog post about it. I’ve trained countless seminars when I made it my main focus. My kids think it’s hilarious that I get grown adults to write the words BUT in a seminar. I used to make them circle it and draw a line through it. I don’t do that anymore.  I still believe that it’s a dangerous word. When we use it with others, it tends to diminish or even negate the words of the sentence that we use before we get to it. If we’re trying to coach someone, give a compliment or improve performance, this is a slippery slope. You see it all the time that people give a compliment and then follow it up with but…insert the opposite of the compliment. Doing it this way takes away from the compliment and leaves the listener feeling diminished.  My favorite example is the phrase “You’re doing a great job, but I need you to work harder.” People won’t hear the first part, only that you think they’re lazy. In this example, AND is a much more effective word to use. They focus on the whole sentence rather than the end when you say “You’re doing a great job and I need you to work harder.”  All of this is true and I still believe it and I’m still wrong.  If the word but forces the listener to focus on the back half of the sentence, couldn’t we use this to our advantage? Couldn’t we then use it to improve our persuasive language? Think about it. I instantly become more trustworthy to you if I tell you both the advantages and disadvantages of anything. I no longer look like I’m trying to convince you to do something as much as provide you with enough information to make an informed decision yourself. If I tell you the negative first, though, and then use the word but to get to the positive, it makes you much more likely to focus your attention to the positive part of the sentence. I think of the phrase “The price is outside of the budget that we discuss, but the five-yeared warranty makes it a solid option.” Said that way, the listener will most likely focus on the back half of the sentence and put their attention on the warranty and not the cost.  This is a new lesson for me that I picked up in Robert Cialdini’s book Pre-Suasion and it’s blowing my mind. I’ve been trying it for the last week with outstanding success and it’s left me shocked. It might not be often that I admit to being wrong but in this case, it’s worth it. ]]>

Through my work as a trainer, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with thousands of people in the last year who are looking to improve their communication skills. People from all walks of life, in every industry who want to be better understood and have their message received. Some of these people have some really big issues in their lives and come with detailed questions. Others not so much, but they’re all looking to improve their relationships with people. That’s why its so surprising to me how few are actually willing to invest in themselves to do it.    My reason for saying this is be46cause at every seminar I’ve ever done, I’ve suggested the same book to every audience; Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends And Influence People. It’s simply the best book ever written on the subject of effectively dealing with people and I believe that everyone should read it. Out of the thousands of people to whom I’ve suggested the book, the number of people who have actually gone ahead and purchased the book is incredibly small. My best guess is that it’s somewhere around 10% and I can’t help but feel sad about it.  Before I go further, let me tell you that I make nothing off of promoting the book. I promote it because it’s simply the best tool that I know of for improving our relationships with others. I don’t sell it, I recommend it and still very few people actually buy it. Why? It’s not because it’s hard to find. Amazon sells it and you can get shipped to you for free with one click. It’s not expensive Amazon sells it for as little as $6 – most people spend more on ice cream every week than that! If they don’t want to buy it, I’m certain that every library in America has a copy. They can read it for free. It doesn’t get much easier than free! Yet people still don’t take the time, spend the money or make the effort to buy the book that will improve the most important aspect of their lives.  To take it one step further, I’ve had the opportunity to have three assistants work for me and I’ve asked everyone to read the book. Not one has invested the time to read it when I’ve handed the book to them. They fall into the 90% of the people I’ve met who refuse to invest in themselves enough to improve. If you’re looking for the point of this post, here it is: WALK AWAY FROM THE 90%.  Join the 10% who are dedicated enough to improve their skills that they invest in themselves. Buy the book. Buy the Audible subscription (all the audiobooks in the world at your fingertips for $15/month? why the hell not!). Go to the seminar, get the gym membership. Invest in you. Not only are you worth it, but your future self will thank you.]]>

  Have you seen these studies that science have been putting out? There have been several wanting to prove how healthy foods are. There was a guy in Idaho who ate nothing but potatoes and lived to tell about it. In another one, somewhere else, a guy wanted to prove that Twinkies were safe, so he subsided for an entire month on nothing but Twinkies and water. He didn’t die or get fat so he proved his point, right?  Not so fast.  These kinds of studies fascinate me because I believe that every one of them misses the point. Sure you can survive eating nothing but Twinkies, but is it optimal for high performance? Can a guy eating nothing but Twinkies lift as much weight as the guy eating the balanced diet? Can he work as long and as hard? I don’t know for sure, but my guess is probably not. Could he do better if he ate better? My guess is he could.  That’s where I think the focus should be. A culture of doing just enough to not die has gotten us to the point where most of us are overweight. Most of us hate our jobs. Most of us are unhappy with our conditions in life. We’ve been living on the Twinkie diet and we haven’t died, but we haven’t lived.  It’s actually sparked my newest crusade; Optimize Everything.  I recently bought Stan Efferding’s book, The Vertical Diet. I love it and I’m following it. I’ve seen great results so far and when I fall off of it due to traveling and losing focus, I see a huge difference. The whole point of the book is to eat foods that the body can use optimally. Stan says he doesn’t eat the foods he likes, he eats the foods that like him. Those are the ones that he can best absorb and utilize. To say the book is worth the money is an understatement because it’s shifted my thinking in every other area of my life too.  Sure, I can show up to work and still get paid, but I feel best when I know I’ve given it my best effort and worked on things that are important. Sure, I can get by on talent and experience most of the times that I’m asked to speak, but if I want to make it a career, I have to prepare and focus. No longer is my goal to survive the day and not die, it has become of optimizing myself in everything that I do so I feel my best when my head hits the pillow at night.  Later this week, I’ll post to Facebook exactly what this looks like. It’s not always easy and I still fall down in my attempts, but the effort has already had a wonderful effect on my performance. It’s my sincerest hope that you’ll join me in my crusade and optimize everything because I’m pretty sure the great philosopher Mel Gibson’s William Wallace had it right when he said: “Every man dies, not every man really lives.”  ]]>

Somewhere along the line, we got it wrong. Someone somewhere has convinced us that we’re all capable of doing big things. While I have no doubt that that’s a true statement, we somehow mistook that message to say that we should ONLY do big things. This is the reason so many of us are struggling.  I’m as guilty of this little problem as anyone I know. I love big ideas, big events and being on the big stage. I love the Big Stuff! To the point where I forget about all of the small stuff that makes the big stuff happen. I’m not alone. Every time I sit down to coach a new client, they tell me about their Big Stuff. They can write, they can speak, they can do a lot of hard, big things and they do them well. It’s when we dig deeper into the Small Stuff that we usually find out where the breakdowns happen.  The reason for it comes down to the fact that the small stuff is what makes the big stuff possible. The boring, unsexy parts of the daily grind that put in a position to do the Big Stuff when the opportunity presents. It’s the time the athlete spends in the weight room that allows them to score the touchdowns. It’s the hours spent practicing basic fundamentals that allow the dancer to perform under the lights. It’s taking time to care about, take care of and practice the small details of anything that makes successful people successful.  The sad fact is, we know this but neglect to do them anyway. Why? Because the Big stuff is fun! The Big Stuff gets us attention. The Big Stuff is what we’ve been conditioned to pay attention to. We hear phrases like “don’t major in the minors” and “don’t sweat the small stuff” and take it to believe that the details will take care of themselves. They never do.  My son wants to show a Grand Champion Steer. He can’t just walk into the show ring and have it handed to him. He has to wake up early and brush. He has to worry about the details of nutrition and timing and get his calf to set himself up. It’s detail work. I want nothing more than to be a successful speaker. I can’t just walk onto a stage -I’ll get walked out by security. I have to spend time building an audience, developing messages, cultivating relations. It too is detail work. None of it is sexy and none of it is as fun as doing the Big Stuff but only by sweating the Small Stuff can we make the big stuff happen.  Somewhere along the line, we must realize that if we take care of the small stuff, the big stuff takes care of itself. That makes every day a grind. It makes every process that much more important. It makes those moments spent planning, reading and preparing all the more rewarding. We have to sweat the Small Stuff because it’s in that sweat that we find success. ]]>

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Cincinnati Reds Baseball. Because I grew up in what seems like a different world, they were hardly ever on TV and so I spent most of my summer evening listening to them on the radio. It’s not just nostalgia that makes me think that it was a magical time, because it really was. The Reds were good and they had the phenomenal combination of Marty Brennaman and Joe Nuxhall as their broadcast team. It was an era full of great broadcasters and Cincinnati had two of the best.  One of my favorite parts of any game would be for a pitcher to get a hit. I say this because Joe Nuxhall, the youngest major league baseball player, was a pitcher who enjoyed hitting and loved it when pitchers would get a hit. The pure excitement in his voice was worth the static and Budweiser commercials. Every time a pitcher would get a hit Joe would say to Marty a phrase that’s always stuck with me;

“When you swing the bat, you’re dangerous.”
This advice has been proven as true in professional business as it has been in professional baseball. When you swing the bat, you’re dangerous. Sure the opportunities for failure are great and we’re going to strike out along the way but there’s no honor in watching a called third strike. We have to swing the bat and take our chance because only when we do can we make things happen.  I think about this quote just about every day. More now than ever. I’m currently working on selling my very first public seminar and it’s a scary proposition to cold call businesses and ask them to send their teams to my workshop. It’s been a while since I’ve been in the cold call game and the fear can be crippling. That’s when I repeat the Ole Lefthander’s advice and remember that if when I swing the bat, I’m dangerous. It might not work out. I might not sell all 20 seats but you can believe me when I say that if I don’t, it won’t be because I didn’t take my swings. Jim Rohn used to say that we either face the pain of discipline or the pain of regret but discipline weighs ounces and regret weighs tons. Given the choice, I’ll carry the ounces. I will make the calls and give it my best shot.  As we approach the second half of this year, I would imagine there is still a lot you’d like to accomplish. It’s my sincere hope that you’ll approach it the way that Joe approached the plate and that’s with the intention to swing fast and hard and take you’re shot because after all when you swing the bat, you’re dangerous. ]]>

As we near the halfway point of this turbulent year, I have to admit that for the first half of 2018, I’ve been off to a pretty shaky start. That ended a couple of weeks ago when I overcame laziness and reclaimed my awesome. It wasn’t easy and continues to be a daily battle, but there are a couple of lessons learned that I believe are worth sharing. 

1. Laziness Creeps In

I think it would be so much easier if laziness would kick down the door and announced itself. If it did, it might be a fair fight as my ambition could rise up to meet it, but that’s now how it works. Laziness creeps into your life and whispers gently that what’s on your list today isn’t really that important and then provides you with a laundry list of reasons why you can let it slide. It’s stealthily worked its way into my life until I didn’t even realize it was there. 

2. Discipline Is A Muscle

Ambition needs all of it’s strength when fighting a battle with the evil laziness but the problem is that discipline is the first muscle laziness attacks and it atrophies with the help of laziness’ sidekick neglect. I have found that the only way to get into the game is to build the muscle of discipline daily. Now I keep a list of the promises that i’m keeping to myself everyday and when I do it, I put a checkmark on my list. When discipline is strong, it’s a fair fight. 

3. Coaching Makes A Difference

Overcoming laziness is no easy task and there’s no shame in needing some help to do it. Sometimes it only takes one more new idea to inspire us to make a change. Maybe one conversation with a super ambitious person can set us in a new direction. Maybe all we need is a new perspective offered from someone not engaged in our fight. For me, coaching made a huge difference. In person coaching, YouTube Coaching, Coaching from books, it all adds up to make a difference. 

4. The Best Defense Is A Full Calendar

A full calendar is like a fortified castle, it helps keep the laziness out. I have found that just about every time laziness creeps into my daily routine, it does so through an opening on my calendar. That’s why I think we have to fortify ourselves and keep a full calendar. Even why I don’t have meetings and events, I schedule reading time and writing time, and time to research topics that can help me. When we have something to do, laziness cant get through. 

5.  Trust In Your Process

I wrote last week about having a process. Nick Saban, coach of the Alabama Football team, constantly tells his players not to think about the game, the quarter or even the series, but to focus on the seven seconds in front of them. I have found this to be incredibly helpful because I get overwhelmed when I look at my month. Some weeks seems like they’re loaded with pitfalls but when I focus on the day in front of me, more times than not, I beat laziness back to where it belongs.  The battle with laziness is a daily fight, but by employing this knowledge it’s a fight we can win. I probably wouldn’t have believed it either until I started to win my own battle. I hope your planning to beat yours today because if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that it’s coming for you and you’ve got to be ready. ]]>

Let’s talk process.

If you read Monday’s blog then you already know that I’m a big fan of process. I follow a process for just about everything from the way I speak, to the way I conduct meetings to the way I write because as I wrote on Monday, Process Wins. Taking this one step further, though, when it comes to goal setting, there’s pure power in process Here’s what I mean.  We’ve all learned to set goals by now and most of us actually have them. In just about all cases, the goals we set for ourselves are outcome goals. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love outcome goals, but they can be pretty demoralizing sometimes. Especially if your goals depend on other people in order to reach them. I think about my son and his show steer. He needs the judge’s opinion to achieve his goal of being Grand Champion. If that’s his only goal, he’s going to fail more often than he succeeds.  It actually happened to me. In 2015, I desperately wanted to compete and win the Toastmasters World Champion of Public Speaking contest. It was my big outcome goal and I worked hard to develop a plan to make this happen. My plan included things like hiring a coach, practicing my speech every day, finding a certain number of audiences every week to present to and a writing schedule. As you might guess, I didn’t win the contest, but I did work every action step of my plan. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I was using process goals to support my outcome goal and something pretty magical happened. No, I didn’t win the contest, but do you think I became a better presenter working with a coach? Of course, I did. I also became a more disciplined writer from keeping my daily schedule. I learned how to keep disinterested audiences engaged and made some really big breakthroughs with the way I use my voice and body language. I didn’t attain my outcome goal, but my having and working process goals, I actually won by losing because it put me in a position to do what I’m doing now.  This is a power of process. It’s why process wins. We’re about to enter the second half of 2018 and I’m confident that most of us still have big goals left to accomplish. my question is, do you have process goals set to support your outcome goals? If not, now is a great time to start. Ask yourself what can you do every day to make the big goal possible because when you do, you put the power of process to work in your favor.  ]]>

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Anyone who has either read this blog or spent more than ten minutes with me knows that I am a rabid Ohio State Buckeye Football Fan. I went to The Ohio State University, I’ve spent my life cheering for the Scarlet and Gray and I can go on and on as to why I believe Urban Meyer was robbed of his second National Championship in Columbus last year. (I know…just win in Iowa!) So it might surprise you, then to read what I am about to write next.  Yes, I am an Ohio State Football Fan, but I also live in the real world, which is why I understand the best College Football program in the last ten years hasn’t been in Columbus OH, but in Tuscaloosa Alabama.  It’s easy to hate Alabama and Nick Saban for what they’ve accomplished, but the results speak for themselves. (I will not bring myself to type their record, but I will mention that they are 0-1 against Ohio State in that timeframe.) Alabama is great, but what makes them the best? Yes, they have great players, but so does Clemson, Georgia, USC, Texas and a whole host of other schools that rank in the top ten of recruiting classes every year. Yes, they have great facilities, but with the amount of TV money pouring into schools, that’s pretty common too. Is it Nick Saban, the snake that he is? Well…sorta.  I believe that the one thing that separates Alabama Football from all other football programs in the country is Process.  Process is what keeps athletes disciplined when it matters. Process is how a team can consistently lose NFL talent every year and replace it. Process is what allows a coach to give the ball to a freshman quarterback in overtime of National Championship game and still win. Alabama has a process that every single person from the starting quarterback to the waterboy believe in, trust and work within on every play. Their process wins games.  If those of us in the persuasion profession want to be as dominant in our industries as Alabama has been in theirs, for my money, the lesson we have to learn is that Process wins. Successful salespeople follow a process on every call. Successful speakers follow a process before every presentation. Successful leaders develop and follow the process that inspires others to follow them.  In countless businesses across our great country, there are talented people who are struggling. People who have all of the gifts that it takes to be successful. In just about every case, whats missing is the process that they can become a slave to that will produce Alabama-like results.  What’s your process? I’m hopeful that you can tell me. If you can’t, when it’s time to figure out why you aren’t successful, maybe that’s the best place to look.  Oh, and GO BUCKS! ]]>