Yesterday, I turned 38 years old. When I was 17 and my dad was 38, I thought he was ancient, and it’s funny that now the roles are reversed, I see how wrong I was about just about everything. In the 38 years, I’ve spent on this planet, I have realized two things: 1. I don’t know half of what I thought I did when I was 17 and 2. Wisdom only comes from making mistakes. I’m fortunate enough to have made enough mistakes, been around enough great teachers and kept good enough notes to put together a list of 38 things that I’ve learned that I want to pass along to my children. I wrote this list yesterday for Jack, Caroline, and Kate but I’m sharing it on my blog with the hopes that others can learn from my mistakes. It’s nowhere nearly complete, but it’s a start.  38. Soft skills are more valuable than hard skills.  37. How you treat wait staff says more about you than anything you will ever post online.  36. Grandparents don’t live forever.  35. Learning to pack a suitcase is one of the most important skills to develop 34. ZZ Topp sang All The Girls Are Crazy About A Sharp Dressed Man. It’s true but it works on everyone else too.  33. It’s better to eat for performance rather than for pleasure. 32. No one takes it well when you tell them they’re wrong. If you want them to believe you, you have let them get there on their own.  31. Everything great is hard and it’s the hard that makes it great.  30. We should celebrate small wins because often times, they’re the only ones we ever get. 29. An hour of quiet every week in a church is a blessing in and of itself.  28. Reading is more important than eating.  27. Caring too much is just as dangerous is not caring enough.  26. Save apologies for when you actually do something wrong and they mean much more. 25. It’s better to not eat than to eat garbage.  24. Interested is interesting. 23. When in doubt, favor action. 22. Hire personality, train skill. 21. Credibility is everything. Do whatever it takes to keep and never do anything to lose it.  20. Experiences are more valuable than things. 19. The book might be better than the movie, but the movie lets you feel the emotion faster.  18. The right words make all of the difference.  17. Follow your dreams, but pay the bills.  16. The Reds will always break your heart, but it’s worth it.  15. Hot dogs taste best at the ballpark. 14. Coca-Cola tastes great, but it’s not worth it.  13. Sometimes People Suck. Love them anyway. 12. Flattery can get you everywhere.  11. Always carry and handkerchief, a pocket knife and good pen.  10. A smile can change someone’s day. 9. First impressions are everything. 8. You never have to take back something you never said.  7. It’s best to think on paper. 6. The best days start early. 5. Consistency will always trump talent. 4. People like people who are like them.  3. Discipline = Freedom 2. Sweat the small stuff and the big stuff will work itself out.  1. Greatness is a choice we have to make every day.  In 38 years, I’ve learned a few things. Most of it took more than one lesson to get there, but I’ve survived to be a better person because of it. I’d love to know additions that others would make to my list. Drop a comment or two and let me know what I left out. ]]>

A couple of weeks ago, I shared something on Twitter that I had run across one morning that really intrigued me. It was before and after photos of someone who underwent a 72-hour water fast. Yeah, you read that right, some guy didn’t eat or drink anything but coffee and water for 72 hours. The pictures were pretty amazing and I knew I wanted to try it. 

Not For The Vanity

Although I couldn’t help but be impressed by the transformation this gentleman underwent in just three days, my main motivation went deeper than wanting to look nicer. Sure, if I could drop some fat in the process, that would be great, but my biggest reason for wanting to try it was because I saw it as the ultimate test of discipline.  I have a good friend and mentor who has been to several of Tony Robbins live events and has, on multiple occasions, walked across burning coals barefoot. I’m still not interested in doing this, but what Steve said to me years ago about doing that has always stuck with me. He told me that after walking across the coals, he got the feeling that if he could do that, there was nothing that he couldn’t do.  It destroyed every limiting belief he had. That’s what I’m hoping will come from my fast. It’s hard. It’s not something that I ever thought I could do, so if I can stick it out, there really isn’t anything else I can’t do either. 

Making It Work

I’m pretty good at not eating. On most days I’m pretty comfortable going about 16 hours without eating. On certain days, It isn’t much for me to go up to 20. When I’m busy, I don’t really get hungry. From this experience, I knew that busy was going to be the key.  I planned to start my fast on a Sunday night. This meant that I could sleep through the first part and be at work on Monday, through the most difficult stretch. What also helped, was that I picked a couple of days when my kids would be away with their grandparents which took away the added pressure of eating a family meal with everyone. And then I got busy. I filled my calendar down the minute from 5 am until 10 pm. I drank two cups of coffee in the morning and a ton of water throughout the day and I never got hungry. Later in the evening, before one of my meetings, I added a third cup of coffee, decaf this time and my mild appetite was blunted. I know this sounds strange but the only time that I got really hungry was driving home at the end of a pretty long night when an old habit of thinking about popcorn crept into my head. It didn’t last long though, and I was fine.  When I woke up the second day, I wasn’t hungry at all. I drank my usual saltwater and lime cocktail and went to the barn. I felt great all day and found that not eating is actually easier than not eating bad stuff. Once I fell into a pattern, it became easier and easier to maintain. 

When I’m Done

As of right now, I’m 12 hours away from my first meal. I’m planning to go easy on food and choose the ones that will be easiest on my gut. From research, I’ve settled on watermelon, hard boiled eggs, and some ground beef in butter. I want to ease back into eating and make sure that I don’t undo all of the good that I just did. Because I’m not too hungry, I don’t think this will be too hard.  When I started, I really didn’t think I could pull it off. Now that I have, I wonder what else I might try. If you’re interested in developing your discipline muscles, I highly recommend trying it. Trust me, it’s much easier than it sounds ]]>

You never know when you’re going to get a piece of life-changing advice. I’ve found that when it comes from an unexpected source, it’s usually the most profound. That’s certainly the case with the words of wisdom I picked up after a keynote speech I gave a conference. After my talk, I was hanging out with the attendees and generally enjoying their company. In had just finished talking about dealing with stress by finding something to look forward to, which I know isn’t profound, but it’s rarely talked about anymore. One gentleman tapped me on the shoulder to tell me how right I was. It doesn’t happen often and I appreciated the compliment but what he told me next rocked my world. He told me the story of George, an old man in a shop where he used to work. He told me how George always kept to himself but was also always in a good mood. It was especially surprising because George had worked on that shop floor for 40 years and while he smiled and was friendly, didn’t say much. It was on the day of his retirement when the owner of the company threw a little party to honor him and asked him to say a few words that George shocked everyone with his wisdom. He said: “You hear all the time that people need three things to survive. They tell you it’s food, shelter, and water. But it’s not. The three things everybody needs are someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to. If you’ve got those three things, you’ve got a great life.’ At that conference, listening to this story, I knew I had just heard something profound. We all need someone to love. We all need something to do. We all need something to look forward to. These words from George, passed on to me from a total stranger have been some the best words of advice I’ve ever heard. Breaking this down, finding someone to love isn’t difficult. If you don’t have a family, a significant other or someone special in our lives, we can still love ourselves. Finding something to do isn’t difficult because even if we don’t have a job, we can find something small to tackle. It might be as simple as making our bed or taking walk but we can find something to do. Jordan Peterson has a great line about aiming low enough because there’s always something to do but most of us discount the small stuff. It’s interesting though that when we find something to do, we can find reasons to love ourselves which helps us find someone to love us. Finding something to look forward to might be the most difficult thing of all, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look. I always find that the best cure for a down feeling is pulling out my calendar and looking for what’s next in my life. Sometimes it’s small, but those small things count too. Finding anything to look forward to can be a magical cure for stress. Sometimes great advice comes from unexpected places. Finding someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to might not be earth-shattering, but it is profound and it’s the recipe for a great life.  ]]>

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. ]]>

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.  ]]>