Thursday, May 30, 2013

Must Read

A lot of you folks are like me, you realize that if you aren’t constantly learning you’re falling behind.

You also know you have a finite amount of time and, as the saying goes, so many books, so little time.

I’ve encountered a wonderful resource that is helping me learn and use my time more effectively.

Must Read Summaries are condensed versions of a wide range of business and life books. They’re ebooks you can download and most only cost about $5.

Simply plug “Must Read Summaries” into your search engine and they’ll pop up.

I recommend The Now Habit as one of your first reads.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Almost Always Off Course

Did you know that when you are flying commercially your plane is off course about 90 percent of the time?

The pilot or auto-pilot is almost constantly making course corrections so you arrive and land at the destination it says on your ticket.

Life is like that. We should be constantly making small corrections to get us where we want to go.

I call them 1% solutions. You should look for ways to correct your course and improve your life by 1% every week.

The Japanese call it Kaizen; small improvements that lead to a culture of continuous improvements.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Summer's Here!!

Hope you had a great Memorial Day Weekend!

I don’t know about your unofficial start for summer but mine was great!

In addition to the lazy, white trash stuff I did I was able to get some projects started.

One of the most memorable experiences of the weekend was a conversation I had with a WWII vet. He talked about being on a troop ship headed to North Africa. In the middle of the Atlantic his group survived a torpedo attack and an air raid, the ship sank when it hit a mine at the entrance to the harbor they were sailing to, and then they flew through (friendly fire) flak when he was being air-transported to Sicily.

In my wildest dreams I can’t imagine those experiences…and he chatted about them like I’d talk about going to the grocery store. Truly, an amazing generation.

The conversation reinforced an important lesson. Have a goal and keep moving toward it. You may have to adjust your direction on a regular basis, and you’ll probably have to overcome some obstacles (probably not torpedoes, enemy fighters and mines, though) but if you’ll keep moving you’ll get there.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Your Mirror

What you see in the mirror of your life is up to you.

 If you see negativity, loss and sickness you’ll get that.

 If you see positivity, abundance and health you’ll get that.

Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

For Your Eyes Only

Ok, class…today is “Get Your Ego Out of the Way Day.”

This simple exercise is for your eyes only.

List 5 skills you’re not good at, your five greatest weaknesses. It could be giving bad news, accepting praise, patience…anything.

Now, list the 5 work skills or tasks you don’t do well. How about handling details, creating a website or manual labor?

Look at the 2 lists; are there connections? You don’t like confrontations or conflict so you’re not good at having difficult conversations in the workplace…connections like that.

Now, here’s what you have: In the first list you have the areas you need to work on for the next 6 months. Pick one area and work on it for 4-5 weeks; then go on to the second issue on the list. Even if you get a little better at each one by the end of 6 months you’ll have made progress in all the areas and, overall, you’ll be more effective and efficient.

The second list is your delegation list. Start looking around for people who are good at what you’re not good at. Now, start handing off tasks or trading tasks, because they might not be good at areas in which you excel.

Ya gotta keep learning and moving. If you don’t you’re dead.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Slow Down to Remember

Yesterday a friend was telling me about how forgetful she’s been lately. I believe there’s a good reason.

Over the last few months she’s been dealing with a variety of stressors and I believe the changes and challenges she’s been facing are pulling her attention away from simple things like where she put her car keys (the average American spends 15 hours every year looking for car keys).

If you’re running into the same type of situation you might want to heed the suggestion I made to my friend: Slow down a little. Slow down and make a To-Do List. Slow down and make sure you put your car keys in the same place every night (put a bowl out and put your keys, money and other stuff in it…or, make sure they are in your purse if they aren’t in the ignition of your car). Slow down at the end of every day and ask, “Did I get the things done today I needed to do?” Slow down for a short time each morning and ask, “What do I need to make sure I get done today?”

If my phrase Slow Down worries you… “ ‘Cause, Mike, I’ve got too much to do to slow down!” I get it.

I’m not saying you should slow down to the point that it hurts your productivity or stresses you…just keep remembering the phrase I’ve used in the past, “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.”

Slowing down just a little bit at the right times keeps you on track, keeps you focused and keeps you from losing your car keys.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Early Bird Gets...Well...You Know

I’m going to suggest something that, for some folks, is heresy.

Arrive at work 10 minutes early.

Aaaaayyeeeee!!! The sky is falling! The sun is exploding!

For some people arriving at work even an instant before they absolutely must is so far from thinkable that they believe doing it will bring about the end of civilization as we know it.

Others understand that 10 easy minutes before things get cranked up can lend focus to your day, put you on track to get some special projects done and..well…beat all the other folks to the coffee machine.

Think about it, 10 minutes could make the difference between you having some control over your day or feeling like you jumped on a moving treadmill.

Monday wouldn’t be a bad day to try it.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Little Fat is a Good Thing

I had my annual physical a little over a month ago. My doc, Gary Bean, has been my physician for over 25 years. He’s great! He has a sense of humor about what he does but he can also get right to the point.

For about two decades I could be sure that one of the first things he’d talk about was that I needed to lose weight. One year he poked me in the stomach and said, “If you’d go ahead and birth that baby we can take you off cholesterol and blood pressure meds.”

So, you can imagine my surprise a few years ago when he told me to stop worrying about my weight. He said, “I want you to start worrying about your height. Your weights fine, it’s just that you need to be six-foot-three.”


We often talk about losing fat. In fact, in business we talk about cutting the fat and running lean. The new, hot phrase in entrepreneurship is lean start-up.

In the current issue of The Red Bulletin, the magazine produced by Red Bull energy drinks, there’s a great article by Jeff Wise, a journalist and author of Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger.

Wise points out, “We talk about ‘cutting the fat’ out of a business, but in biology, fat is the energy store that protects an organism against life’s uncertainties. Maximizing efficiency is a good strategy only in an environment that is totally predictable.”

Last night a good friend told me about her schedule yesterday. She had back-to-back-to-back meetings. I heard the same thing from a business exec on a Success Magazine CD I was listening to. That sort of day may lead to getting a lot done, but if you have one little glitch—a meeting runs too long—the rest of your schedule falls apart. Think airline arrivals/departures.

A little fat, buffer time, a little room to breathe is a good thing. It allows you to debrief yourself on the previous meeting, day or week. Reenergize, reboot and head into the next meeting, day or week ready to go.

Wise continued, “Human beings, it turns out, are not designed to be efficient. Over the past few million years our ancestors had to endure a wide variety of conditions, and being too focused on one challenge could leave them fatally exposed to another.”

My interpretation? Cut yourself some slack. Give yourself some breathing room. The busyness that afflicts so many Americans is not a good thing and a little fat in your life in the way of time buffers is a good thing.

Now, if I can just convince Dr. Bean that hefty is a good thing.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Delete for 1 Minute

Yesterday one of my seminar attendees mentioned that a colleague would NOT leave the office at the end of the day if she still had emails in her “In” box. I was stunned.

I’m pretty good about deleting emails and getting my “In” box down to a manageable number but I still have waaaay too many emails in there.

So, here’s what I’m doing: When I sit down at the computer to work I spend 1 minute deleting unwanted emails and then I move on to my work. I’ve been amazed at how the number of emails is dwindling! I’ve set up some folders into which I dump some of the emails I need to keep for background info or to work on.

Just seeing that number of emails in the “In” box get lower is a wonderful reward.

How many emails do you have in your “In” box? Let’s do something about that.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Do This Today

Go to "amazing career advice" in the Search Box and hit "Enter."

Watch the slide show created by Reid Hoffman, start-up entrepreneur for LinkedIn.

Don't worry that it's aimed at new college graduates. The advice works for anyone.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Not Just "No"...But, "Hell No!"

People who try to do too much are usually running short on a couple of things: Anticipation…and the ability to say “No.”

I get it that some of you are saying you’d be able to get it all done with a little help. But, that’s a case of not anticipating what has to be done and doing some planning about getting the help you need.

Slowing down just a tad enables you to look out into the future and see what’s coming at you. At that point you can determine what really needs to be done, what you can delay, what you can delegate and what you might be able to shelve completed.

As for saying, “No.” There are lots of ways to say, “No.” You might say, “I want to give you a 100 percent but right now my plate is full and unless you can help me get some things off my plate I won’t be able to help you.”

Or, you could just say, “Not just ‘No,’ but ‘Hell No!’”

Go to and simply search the phrase, “Say No,” and you’ll find a ton of resources that can help you say “No” without feeling guilty.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Winning Happiness

Happiness is a great thing but it can also be an elusive, slippery, hard-won thing.

Finding and winning it--or, making the effort to win it, at least--is worth the journey.

Have a great weekend. See you Monday.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Small Mind Virus

At the end of some of my seminars I tell people that champions suffer “No Small Minds.”

I mean high achievers understand there will always be small-minded people in life and you have to stay away from them. Small-mindedness is like a virus and if you’re not careful you can catch it.

Yesterday, I presented the same seminar twice, morning and afternoon. In both seminars I taught “No Small Minds” and in both of them someone asked, “Do you mean ‘No’ or ‘Know’?”

I’ve taught the “No Small Minds” point for over 15 years and no one had ever asked that question. Yesterday it happened in each seminar.

I don’t believe that occurrence is a coincidence. I believe it’s the Universe sending me a lesson to learn.

The discussions after the questions were asked were great. It came down to the facts that we should “Know” the small minds and small-mindedness for what they are, and we should suffer “No” small minds.

One of the best tactics for preventing small-mindedness in ourselves is to be open to the lessons being offered all around us.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Someone Is Always Watching

One of the folks in the leadership program I taught today had never heard a basic workplace truth, “Someone is always watching.”
While you may not see yourself as a leader someone, somewhere is watching how you do what you do…and they’ll try to do the same thing.

Managers who catch people doing things right and offer praise are watched by other managers, their own workers and workers managed by others.

Long ago I knew a guy who owned a small insurance office. It was in one of those glass and steel monsters built all around the Research Triangle in the ‘80s. Once a month he’d select an employee of the month and would wash their car in the parking lot of the office building. You could stand in the parking lot and look up and at the glass walls/windows (I did) and see faces pressed against the windows all the way up. I remember seeing one woman look over at a tall, thin man in a white shirt and black tie. You could see her mouthing the words, “Why don’t you do that for us?” He had a look on his face like he’d smelled something bad.

People who are 15 minutes late coming to work, taking long lunches and leaving a little early each day are watched by coworkers…especially young workers. If you’re wondering why some young workers aren’t showing the workplace values we would like to see look around at the people they are watching.

Unfortunately, when the woman in today’s program told me she’d never heard the “Someone is always watching” line my mind immediately jumped to the fact that a person I trust a lot recently told me that I’d been being a jerk. That’s not exactly the phrasing they meant, but you get the idea.

I immediately realized that someone had been watching.

Someone is always watching. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Simply the Best

If someone came to your organization today and asked to see the best employee/manager/worker/executive…simply the best, would you be the person to which they pointed?


If not, why not?

Here’s a thought exercise: What would you have to change/learn/develop about yourself so that you would be better tomorrow than you are today?

If you can come up with an idea, again, CONGRATULATIONS!

Now, if you are working on improving the new area, CONGRATULATIONS!

If you are not working on the challenge, why not?

If you can’t think of an area in which you should improve you’re not trying hard enough.

If the whole exercise seems stupid…I can assure you that somewhere in your organization there’s a manager/supervisor/executive with your name in their head and it’s on a list of people to get rid of when the first chance comes along.

See ya! Wouldn’t wanna be ya!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Annie and Another Day

Just walked out to get the paper and it’s overcast…again. The last few days here in my part of North Carolina have been pretty nasty and it’s starting to get me down.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It hasn’t been ugly and raining all year, or for the past month or even for a whole week.

But, a few days of rain can easily get you into a feeling of, “Is the sun EVER going to come out again?”

When the weather isn’t perfect for awhile it’s hard to remember what it was like when it was sunny. Remembering that the sun is up there all the time, but just hidden right now, can be a challenge.

There’s a cute song from the Broadway show/movie, Annie…Tomorrow; I’m sure you’ve heard it. One of the lines is, “The sun’ll come out tomorrow.”

I just checked the weather report. The forecast for morning is continued overcast so for the short term things will stay gray. The forecast for the next 5 days is partly cloudy so, while the sun may peek through at times, it looks like I’ve got to create my own sunshine.

Not a bad metaphor for life.

Weekend’s here! Kentucky Derby at 6:24 pm on Saturday!

See you Monday.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Trip Wires and Tell-Tale Signs

The fuel gauge in my old car is busted. It registers Full all the time. This can be more than a little disconcerting when you drive as many miles as I drive…I start asking the question, “How Full am I?”

I was telling a good friend about it and he mentioned that he’d had it happen a couple of times with different vehicles. He said, “I just punch the trip button and figure that I can drive 250-300 miles before I have to fill up.”

Now granted, the number of miles you can drive before it’s time to fill up depends on how many miles your car gets to a gallon of gas and how many gallons your tank holds. I immediately understood the strategy and it has saved me the cost of a repair, at least for now.

What I loved about his solution was the simplicity, the logic and the ingenuity. Something has gone wrong or is headed in the wrong direction—the fuel gauge—and if you use this solution it tells you when to do what you need to do.

It’s a trip wire.

The military uses trip wires outside camps for security. It’s a thin wire stretched a few inches above the ground. When an intruder trips (that’s where the name originated) over the wire it sends up an alarm.

We all have trip wires in our lives. Situations, actions, comments, alerts and behaviors that send up alarms. The problem is we often don’t pay attention to them.

I got on the scales a minute ago. When I get on the scales there should be a sound like the loud klaxon horn you hear when a nuclear blast is imminent. But, there’s no klaxon. There’s only the sound of my voice in my head saying, “PBJ for breakfast? OK!”

Creating your own trip wire in a life situation is not a bad idea. It would send up an alarm alerting you to tread carefully.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Say "Hello" To My Little Crystal Ball

Seeing the future is impossible but expecting a type of future is not.

In the last 24 hours I’ve had two people approach me and talk about The Law of Attraction.

Very simply, The Law of Attraction says, “like attracts like.” If you expect a positive outcome—and work for it (this is the part most people miss)—you’ll more than likely end up with a positive outcome.

I’ve been pushing myself lately to expect a positive future. Like a lot of you I’ve run into some choppy weather that makes it difficult to see positive outcomes in some life areas so I’ve started to ease over into what the late Zig Ziglar called, “Stinkin’ Thinkin’.”

Yesterday, a person in my seminar asked me if I believed in The Law of Attraction. I hadn’t mentioned the topic. The program was over and as we were cleaning up she simply asked the question and we talked about it for awhile.

Last night, a friend told me that I needed to do a better job of envisioning a more positive future. Again, I hadn’t mentioned anything like the topic, it simply came up.

I’ve often written that if you want something in life you should expect it, envision it, write it down, and then start moving in the direction of the dream. It’s almost as if the universe lines up to help you.

Let’s hope that’s what’s happening.

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.”