Thursday, March 31, 2011

A BIG Martini and Youtube

Spent waaaaay too much of last night with a BIG martini and youtube.com listening to late-70s and earl-80s music.

One of my favorite bands was the Atlanta Rhythm Section and one of their best songs was, “Do It Or Die” from the Underdog album. The lyrics should get you thinking:

Don't let your troubles make you cry
Don't waste a moment wondering why
When everything goes wrong
You have to go on and do it or die

Do it or die now, stand your ground
Don't let your bad breaks go gettin' you down
Even when times get rough and you've had enough
You still gotta try (that's right)

Do it no matter what the people say (no matter)
They don't even know you (They don't know you at all)
I'd die before you let them stand in your way
(Don't you know that) You should know that

Life is a gamble all along
Winners are losers who keep rollin' on
So go on and roll the dice, you only live twice
Do it or die

Do it no matter what the people say (no matter)
They don't even know you (They don't know you at all)
I'd die before you let them stand in your way
(Don't you know that) I know that (You know that)

Life is a gamble all along
Winners are losers who keep rollin' on
Just go on and roll the dice, you only live twice
So do it or die

You got nothing to to lose
Just go on and roll the dice, you only live twice
Do it or die.

Have a great weekend>

One Minute for Your Life

I don’t do a lot of plugging products and people here and maybe I should.

I’m a firm believer that we learn from each other and sharing resources is a good thing. One of the educational groups I present for has a motto, “Steal shamelessly and share selflessly.” I like that.

There are two folks from whom I constantly learn: Seth Godin and Marcus Buckingham.

Godin authored The Dip, Tribes, and a bunch of other books, mostly about marketing. The Dip is the best book about dealing with change since Who Moved My Cheese. Like Cheese it’s a small format book, easy to read, and wonderfully informative. Tribes is the best book about leadership I’ve seen in the last 15-20 years. If you are a leader and/or manager you’ve got to have Tribes on your bookshelf. It’s also a small format book you can read in an evening.

Go to sethgodin.com and click “blog.” Register for the blog and you’ll get it every day. There will almost always be a thought that leads to an “aha” moment. Reading Godin's blog is the first thing I do every morning. The...first...thing.

Buckingham worked for the Gallup Organization for 10 years doing research on workplace effectiveness. He discovered that people who focus on their strengths are better workers, more successful and happier than people who spend a lot of energy trying to overcome their weaknesses. All his work is based on discovering, managing and maximizing your strengths. Some folks see Buckingham as the new Peter Drucker.

Go to tmbc.com and click on “Resources.” Then subscribe to the e-zine. You’ll get it once a week and it always has usable information.

Do it right now. Go to both sites. It’ll only take you about 1 minute and the payoff will be extraordinary.

Go on. Do it.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

An Incontinent Belly Dancer?

Last night in Durham the topic was “Guerrilla Marketing” with an all-star small business class.

The group included a belly dancer, two artists, a pet-sitter, a nurse who specializes in female incontinence, an ophthalmologist, a professional photographer, a woman who will run errands for you, another who carries senior citizens to various events, a guy who produces books one at a time, a chocolate junky who is writing a cookbook, a coffee house entrepreneur, a guy who spent the class laughing and texting, a woman with an online radio show and two people who I don’t have a CLUE what they do.

The ages ranged from mid-20s to early 60s; both sexes; broad range of ethnicity; and I’d guess educational levels ranged from high school to (obviously with the ophthalmologist) post graduate degrees.

Quite a few are on second or third careers.

The thing I really like about a class like this is that it shows the resilience of the human spirit. These folks are not giving up; they are making an active effort to live their dream.

One of my favorite quotes of all time is by George Eliot, “It is never too late to be the you you might have been.”

If you knew for a fact that you could not fail…what would you do?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

It Ain't as Cute as Dumbo

I’m trying to eat an elephant. It’s one of those big, mean, wild elephants that you see on the Discovery Channel. It ain’t Disney's Dumbo the Flying Elephant. It’s the kind that’ll chase you down and stomp you just for trying to take it’s picture!

And, I’m not doing a very good job of it because I’ve been trying to swallow it whole.

I’m sure you have an elephant in your life, too. You know, that big project you really need to get handled so you can get on with life and move to the next level?

So, I’m changing my strategy. Everyone knows the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

I know, I know, I should be smarter, but sometimes I’m….just…not.

If you keep taking bites on a regular basis, sooner or later the elephant gets small enough that you can finish it off and celebrate.

One bite at a time.

What elephant could you take a bite out of right now?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Who Planted the Seeds?

On Saturday my high school class (‘70) had a reunion along with all the other classes from the ‘70s.

I had a chance to see a lot of classmates, teachers and coaches I haven’t seen in years.

During the night I began to think about the profound impact some of the people had had on my life.

The two coaches I idolized taught me that I could accomplish more, suffer more, accept and dish out more pain, and appreciate life more than I thought I could…as a young man and as an adult.

One of my English teachers was the first person who appreciated my writing and encouraged me to continue and take it to another level.

A geometry teacher taught me to look at life from all angles; that skill alone has made all the difference in my outlook on business, people, spirituality and fitness.

Experiences like Saturday prove to us that our lives are multi-layered and that we should appreciate those whose influence has helped us become who we are.

I’m planning on writing some thank-you notes this week.

Who do you need to thank for who you are?

Friday, March 25, 2011

March Madness as a Laboratory

Every year at this time I have the same thought: March Madness is one of the greatest laboratories for human activities ever created.

If you are watching the games tonight and over the weekend try watching with a different “eye.”

Watch how different coaches motivate in different ways. You’ll see yellers, smoothers, coaxers, grabbers, explainers and teachers (the best ones).

You’ll see players who are true teammates or prima donnas. You’ll see some kids who step up and out of their skill levels and perform extraordinary feats. Others fold; giving up and simply playing out the clock (at this level you don’t see too many of those, but they are still there).

Think about it; you have adults making million+ salaries whose livelihoods are dependent on how a bunch of 17-22 year-olds perform.

It’s a wonderful pressure cooker in which people get to show who they really are.

As someone once said, “Stress is like a tube of toothpaste. When you squeeze it you find out what’s inside.”

March Madness is one of the greatest tubes of toothpaste ever (other than encounters that include guns!).

If you don’t have a favorite, pull for the North Carolina Tar Heels and watch two players. John Henson, a 6’ 10” sophomore forward who has a grin you won’t believe, is great. Coach Roy Williams describes him as, “A mischievous 11-year old in a 20-year old body.” Also, freshman Harrison Barnes, last year’s top recruit in the country, is a smart, articulate, extraordinary athlete with an assassin’s heart when he walks on a basketball court.

Enjoy the weekend, and Go Heels!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Happiness For Little or Nothing

It’s amazing how inexpensive happiness can be.

Yesterday I renewed my Sirius XM Satellite Radio contract. When you love music like I do Sirius XM is like being in a candy store that goes with you anywhere. And, whenever I renew the contract I am amazed at how inexpensive it is.

I’m also overwhelmed by the technology. Think about it…you get to hear your favorite music BEAMED TO YOU FROM OUTER SPACE!

I love America.

What simple joy can you indulge that is inexpensive and easy to acquire?

You’re crazy if you don’t do it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Still a Shamu?

Do you have a big goal you’d like to reach?

A key decision you need to make is: Do you tell your family, friends and coworkers about the goal?

One school of thought says you should keep the goal to yourself. Some success experts believe telling others about the goal burns up energy better directed to the accomplishment. Their logic is that talking about the goal tells part of your mind you’ve already invested energy in it so you can start easing off.

The other school of thought is based on support and embarrassment. These folks advise telling anyone and everyone about your goal. For example, if you want to lose weight you should tell your friends and family so that, down the road, those same people can support you and ask, “So, what happened about that weightloss effort?” The logic is that if you have to say, “Well, I blew it off and I’m still a Shamu,” the potential embarrassment will be a motivator.

We’re all smart people and most of the time we know what works and what doesn’t for us. In the past, when you’ve told friends and family about goals, was that action a positive or negative factor in reaching the goal?

Mind you, we all have dreams we talk about that don’t come true. But, when it comes to the goals that matter to you has talking about them helped?

So, are ya tellin’ or not?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Forget Libya and Japan

You may think I’m a hard-hearted person 90-seconds from now when you finish reading this, but here goes:

This past weekend I bought a magazine at Barnes and Nobles. When the cashier was checking me out she said, out of the blue, “Those poor people in Japan. What can we do?”

I didn’t really answer. I think I mumbled something like, “Yeah, whata ya gonna do?” and handed her my money. She was still shaking her head about the plight of the Japanese as I walked off.

What I wanted to say was, “Well, lady, to be honest, you can’t do a damn thing. You can say a prayer for’em and send some money to the Red Cross, but that’s about it.”

If I could have a direct hand in doing something for the freedom fighters in Libya or the people in Japan I might do it. Although, I do think it’s kind of funny that the official line from the government in Japan has been, “We can take care of ourselves, so butt out.” Which, in a way, is what Moammar Ghadafi is saying, but that’s another story.

Back to my point. Within a few miles of where almost anyone in America lives is someone who needs help at least as much as the folks in Libya, Japan, South Africa, or any of a dozen other places on Earth.

If you want to do some good fill up a box with groceries and clothes and take it to a local church or shelter. Or, just be nicer to your neighbors. Or, vote.

I understand the philosophical point that we’re all people and that hardships on the other side of the world injure all mankind.

But, as the late Gonzo journalist Dr. Hunter S. Thompson once said about John Lennon, “When amateurs like him get involved it just slows down the professionals.”

I’m sorry for the folks I see in the media’s hardtimes story-du-jour. But, neither you nor I can do a damn thing to help them other than pray. We CAN do something to help America and if we do THAT we, as a nation, will be better able to help others.

Whata ya gonna do?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Me, Me, Me

Friday morning I was presenting a program for 100+ caregivers in Wilmington. A great group!

Caregiving, caring for a family member or loved one, is one of those responsibilities that, increasingly, everyone has to go through.

It's also one of those expriences in life that we do not seek; it's thrust upon us.

How we see life, ourselves and our relationship with the person we are caring for have a lot to do with how well we move through the caregiver experience.

However, the key to moving through the experience in a safe and sane way is to make sure you take care of yourself. If you can't or won't take care of yourself there will come a point at which you can not take care of the other person or people.

In essence, life itself is like that. You must take care of yourself on a variety of levels.

And taking care of yourself may mean doing things that appear, to others, as selfish.

Are you taking care of yourself?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pinch Someone Today!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Thanks to Wikipedia, here’s the deal: The man who became St. Patrick (AD 340-440) was captured as a young boy by an Irish Celtic tribe and lived with them for six years. After he escaped he eventually joined the priesthood and, with his knowledge of the Celtic language and Druid religion, returned to the Irish tribes to preach the Gospel.

Pious legend credits St. Patrick with banishing snakes from Ireland. However, all evidence suggests that post-glacial Ireland never had snakes. One suggestion is that snakes referred to the serpent symbolism of the Druids during that time and place, as exampled on coins minted in Gaul.

Legend also credits St. Patrick with teaching the Irish about the concept of the Holy Trinity by showing people the shamrock, a three-leaved clover, using it to highlight the Christian belief of 'three divine persons in the one God.' For this reason, shamrocks have definitely become a central symbol for St Patrick’s Day.

Nevertheless, the shamrock was also seen as sacred in the olden days in Ireland. Due to its green color and overall shape, many believed it to represent rebirth and life. The three leaves of the clover represent faith, love, hope and, of course, luck. Because of this other reason, the shamrock has continued to be very popular in the Irish culture, representing Ireland and the Irish people.

Enjoy a green beer today and pinch someone who isn’t wearing green.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Annotate This!

Keep it simple, Keep it clear.

Yesterday, I contacted my life insurance company, Lincoln Financial, to simply change the mailing address on my policy.

I had received two (2) copies of exactly the same letter informing me that they needed an address change. The address to which they sent the letters was the correct address in the first place but that didn’t seem to matter. They had also sent some information to an incorrect address.

After going through a phone system that makes the Pentagon look easy to get into I finally got a human voice. He was cheerful, professional and proceeded to ask me everything but my underwear size.

I suggested that things could be simpler a couple of times.

Our conversation had gotten waaaaay past the point at which I’m sure he thought I was an ass when he said it….

“I’ll be annotating that.”

What?

“I’ll be annotating that for you.”

(me) “Annotating?”

“Yes. You know, writing it down.”

“Yes, Noah Webster. I know what annotating means. Why not just say you’re writing it down?”

The rest of the conversation went further south from there until I hung up and called my independent insurance agent in Charlotte. I told him the story and he laughed, “Yeah, that’s their No Service Department. They want you to call us so it doesn’t bother them.”

Keep it simple, keep it clear.

Annotating?

Please.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Big Little Stuff

Back in 1997, the late Richard Carlson wrote, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and It’s All Small Stuff.

The small book of practical philosophy was a runaway bestseller and led to a number of other books along the same line.

Carlson’s point was that in the long run all that crap we worry about is truly small stuff compared to living and enjoying life.

I’m no different from you. I let a lot of the small stuff get to me and slow me down.

However, on a regular basis I try to do a self-examination and see what silliness I’ve let get under my skin and irritate me to the point that it is affecting how I live life.

Right now I have a couple of things I’m working on and I’m sure that as soon as I jettison these stones in my shoe I’ll speed up.

What small stuff is creating a big hassle for you? What do you have to do to sweep it out the door?

Monday, March 14, 2011

I Can See My Feet Now!

Ok…we’re back.

Looking down at the scales this morning I had a revelation: If you want to make a million bucks create a weight-loss program that allows you to lose 13 pounds in 60 hours.

No, you don’t have to cut off your head.

The virus last week put the whammy on me for a few days and the scales are telling me a new story.

What I’m taking away from this—in addition to a trip to the Food Lion for more paper products—is that I like the number on the scale and I’m going to see it as a running (no pun intended) start on losing more weight…

…in a more healthy way.

I’ve known that I needed to carve off some pounds for awhile but the new numbers are good incentives.

The virus results were a breakthrough…a breakthrough is something, anything, that changes the equation.

You can take a negative and use it as a breakthrough to a positive.

What would change the equation for you in any area of life?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Spew Factor

A touch of food poisoning since last night.

If you ever want an experience that will simply, and without doing irreparable damage to your health, prove to you how important a blessing good health is, this is it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

FEAR, the Ultimate Buzzkiller

The acronym F.E.A.R. has long been known to mean, “Future Events Appearing Real.”

FEAR leads to worry and worry is more often than not useless.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, “I worried about lots of things in life, few of which came true.”

What are you afraid of?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

It's Not In the Cards

CBS Sunday Morning had a wonderful piece about business cards. It showed some beautiful and expensive cards that were absolute art. The graphic artists and consultants explained the importance of having a great card.

It was all a bunch of crap.

Ironically, this morning I read a blog about how you could do away with cards altogether.

I did that years ago.

When I meet someone and they ask me for a card I simply say that I just gave my last one away. Or, I’m honest with them and tell them that I see cards as reactionary tools and that if they will give me their card, or basic contact information, I’ll promise to be in touch with them. I make it easy for them, they won’t have to lift a finger. Works every time.

Giving a card and waiting to be contacted doesn’t work for me. And it won’t work for you.

I’m for being proactive. Take the bull, or card, in your own hands and be the force who acts and makes things happen. Don’t wait on them.

In your work and personal life, what are you waiting on? What might you being doing that gives someone else the power to keep your life from moving in the direction you want it to move?

Monday, March 7, 2011

And Then, God Said to Me...

Saturday, in a Hardees in Chadbourn, NC, of all places, I had a revelation. It was one of those moments where the sky seems to open up and you have a thought that is so strong that it could be the voice of God, or whatever is up there, saying “Mike, I want to tell you something.”

So, I listened.

And what I heard was, “You don’t have to wait to finish one thing before you start another.”

Like you, I have a couple of major issues going on in my life at the same time.

For the last few years I’ve convinced myself that one of the issues had to be concluded, completed, finished, tied up in a neat package with a bow, before I could begin the other.

The thought I experienced at the Hardees in Chadbourn told me that I don’t have to wait and, in fact, shouldn’t wait to get started. That…in fact…getting started on the second project may help me come to some sort of conclusion about the first.

I have not lived a linear life. But, I’ve always believed that I should. So, I keep trying to. Sometimes linear doesn’t work. Sometimes you have to go A…B…D…L…C.

What are you waiting to happen so you can get started on that thing, the gift that you alone have the ability to give the rest of us…to give life?

Friday, March 4, 2011

How Big Are Your Circles?

Every now and then you meet people who seem to have an inside track on creating a great life.

One of the other presenters at the Steel Erectors Association of America convention in Myrtle Beach is Willy Stewart, CEO of Stewart Engineering in Cary, NC. Willy is one of those people who seems to have a corner of life figured out.

His program looked at balance as a key for not only creating a successful personal life but a successful business.Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric likes to talk about the fact that balance is a myth. If you are ambitious you're always going to be out of balance. But, Willy talks about continuing to strive for a sense of balance in a variety of areas.

One of the key points related to discipline. What I took away about discipline had to do with setting goals and using practical ways to get yourself on the path to making to achieving the.

This is where meeting Willy got interesting. He's an engineer so he looks at goals and achievement and life as an engineer would. He uses reverse engineering (look at the goal you want to achieve and then keep backing up, year-b-year, month-by-month, and day-by-day, to figure out what you need to do today to make sure you reach your goal a year from now) as an effective tool to create short-term steps to reach long-term goals.

He has a great exercise...try this: Draw 3 interconnected circles symbolizing Work, Self, Family...and draw their size representing how much of your life they take up. You'll quickly see where your life focus is.

Now, if you're like some folks you'll see that some of the circles are a lot bigger than others. What can you do to bring them into a little more balance?

Have a great weekend. Do something this weekend that brings your life a little more into balance.

See you on Monday.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Whataya Do With a Dead Mule?

Curtis & Leroy saw an ad in the Starkville Daily in Starkville, MS.
and bought a mule for $100.

The farmer agreed to deliver the mule the next day.

The next morning the farmer drove up and said,"Sorry, fellows, I have some bad news, the mule died last night."

Curtis & Leroy replied,"Well, then just give us our money back."

The farmer said,"Can't do that. I went and spent it already."

They said, "OK then, just bring us the dead mule."

The farmer asked, "What in the world ya'll gonna do with a dead mule?"

Curtis said, "We gonna raffle him off."

The farmer said, "You can't raffle off a dead mule!"

Leroy said, "We shore can! Heck, we don't hafta tell nobody he's dead!"

A couple of weeks later, the farmer ran into Curtis & Leroy at the Piggly Wiggly grocery store and asked.

"What'd you fellers ever do with that dead mule?"

They said,"We raffled him off like we said we wuz gonna do.."

Leroy said,"Shucks, we sold 500 tickets fer two dollars apiece and made a profit of $998."

The farmer said,"My Lord, didn't anyone complain?"

Curtis said, "Well, the feller who won got upset. So we gave him his two dollars back."

***I LOVE that sense of ingenuity.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Read On!

Whenever I think, say or write the following fact it stuns me: 95% of Americans never read a whole book after they graduate from high school or college…for…the…rest…of…their…lives.

And there is a direct correlation between success—monetary and life—and reading. Leaders are readers.

Today is the 13th annual National Education Association's (NEA) Read Across America Day. The celebration is an annual reading awareness and motivation program that calls for everyone to celebrate reading on the birthday of beloved children's author Dr. Seuss.

Some of you know that I’m in the process of reading Paul Johnson’s A History of the American People. At 950 pages it’s a bear, but I’m doing it 10 pages a day, and I haven’t missed a day in three weeks.

That’s in addition to two newspapers, a basketful of magazines chunks of a variety of other books, and what I read online.

If I’ve got time you’ve got time. I grab a few minutes here and there and with a Kindle e-reader I have books handy in all kinds of situations. Yesterday at the doctor’s office I caught up on Trevor Bayne, the Daytona 500 winner in Sports Illustrated.

Reading keeps your mind moving in a positive direction; new thoughts, new ideas, new ways to see and appreciate life.

If you aren’t a consistent reader pick one book, any book, and slowly but surely work your way through it. Don’t worry what book it is, don’t worry about how long it takes. If you only read one book a month that puts you waaaaaaay ahead of most of the folks you’ll come in contact with on a regular basis.

And as one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books is titled, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

What’s your book?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

That Voice In Your Head

Yesterday I suggested that you find some time for yourself.

When you read that line what did the voice in your head say?

Did you hear, “Oh, right, like I can find the time to do that. I can’t afford to spare that kind of time.”

You can’t afford not to.