Thursday, October 31, 2013

Take a Shower for Your Head

Ok, so I’m in the shower the other morning and I get a GREAT idea!

As a male I’ve probably spent waaaaay too much time in the shower in my life, but my point is that the shower can be a great place to generate ideas.


Because it’s a unique environment; where else in your life do you have the sound and feel of the water showering down?  And yes, you’re naked….well, usually…I’ve taken too many showers with clothes on but those are stories involving tequila and trying to do things you’d see in one of the “Fail” videos on youtube.

Being in a different environment or putting yourself in a position in which you feel differently can be a great idea generator.

My simple questions are: Where/when are you most creative? Where/when do you get some of your best ideas?

If you’ll ask those simple questions you’ll usually discover that there are some commonalities. Maybe the shower is a great creative environment for you or it could be a walk, or riding your bike, or the beach, or in that gray area just as you’re waking up, or with friends.

It could be in a more structured environment in which you and coworkers lock yourself in a conference room with a whiteboard, markers and 10 pounds of Snickers.

I get great workout ideas simply by walking around in a gym, looking at equipment, and thinking, “What if I did this?”

We all need ideas in order to move our lives forward. We need ideas for life areas such as work, play, fitness, spirit and financial.

Take a walk. Take a shower. See what happens….and don’t use all the hot water!!!!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Bury Me at the Office

Last Saturday I ran into a friend at a tailgate party before the Carolina/Boston College football game.

He was talking about how he had retired after 30 years of working in the U.S. and France with a large chemical company, consulted for about a year and then went back to work running a manufacturing plant in Michigan.

I asked him why he went back to work.

“Because it’s fun!” He said. “I enjoy working. I like the people I work with. I don’t see a reason to stop right now.”

There’s an old saying, “At the end of life no one puts, ‘I wish I’d spent another day at the office’ on their headstone.”

Well, for some people, the ones who enjoy what they do, that saying doesn’t work. 

Monday, October 28, 2013


Most of us have favorite ways we remind ourselves to do things, remember new ideas or keep important tasks in front of us.

Some people use a To-Do List and check it on a regular basis. Others use sticky notes or little slips of paper, then jot notes to themselves and either leave the notes in plain sight, put them in a pocket or purse or post them on the bathroom mirror or other places in home and office.

I’ve started using a new system that is working really well. I send myself an email and put the task, new idea or issue on the subject line.

I know I’ll check emails on laptop, iPad or iPhone a couple of times a day. So, when I see my list of emails there’s the thing I have to do or the idea I want to remember.

One of the wonderful things about this method is that I can note the idea and send the email by voice simply by using the Siri feature on my phone. I don’t have to type it in or text it…which works really well ‘cause we’re all trying to cut back on texting while driving…you are doing that, aren’t you?

Try my idea sometime…send yourself an email as a reminder. I’m betting you get hooked like I have.

And, I’ll tell you what I REALLY love about the idea: Late in the week I go into my email, call up all the emails with my name as the sender and simply Delete, Delete, Delete…it’s like checking tasks off a To-Do List, a great Got-It-Done feeling!

Friday, October 25, 2013

O Beautiful, For....Uh Oh

Last night, singer James Taylor flubbed the first few words of the Star Spangled Banner. He started singing “America the Beautiful” and then eased into the national anthem.

News outlets have jumped on the moment as a story for a whole range of reasons; Taylor’s fame, the spotlight of the moment, the game, the importance of the national anthem.

What reporters aren’t saying is that Taylor is 65 years-old and the slip seemed like a simple senior moment. Lots of us are having senior moments here and there in our lives. I’m 61 and I’m running into little blips like lots of folks.

As prominent as Baby Boomers are in our society we’re going to see more moments like Taylor’s flub. While they can be a little embarrassing they are normal.

Let’s cut Taylor some slack on his misstep and let’s cut ourselves some slack for our little trip-ups.

Have a great weekend…Fall is here!!!

See you Monday.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Stop It! And Succeed

Yesterday was the last day of a four-part management program I presented for a college here in North Carolina.

One of the participants was a young woman, early-20s, who is smart, quick and obviously headed for bigger things.

But, she spent a lot of time in class—all four sessions—messing with her fingernails, the ends of her hair and the tassle on a cellphone holster.

Maybe she was bored, I certainly understand that. I get bored hearing me talk sometimes. Maybe it’s me just being an old…mmm….fuddy, duddy.

After watching her do it for three hours, though, I determined that her habits were probably something she does in meetings at work.

So, the next week at a break I caught up with her at a break and pulled her aside. I gently pointed out that if she wasn’t aware of her habits she should be. I talked about what a smart person she seemed to be and that I’d hate for her progress at her current job and in her career to be stunted because people saw her habits as immaturity.

And yes, I get that fact that me bringing the issue up to her brought up an element of risk on a variety of levels. But, she’s a smart, young person and if people can catch negative issues early they can often advance more quickly. If I can help someone move ahead I’ll certainly do it; so, I’ll take the risk.

We often don’t have any idea how some of our habits hold us back. We seldom are fortunate enough to have people who will candidly discuss those things with us.

That’s not to say that we listen all the time. But, we should.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hey, Just Look Around

On Sunday a friend and I went bike riding. We stopped for a few moments to talk with an acquaintance who was walking her dog.

After about a minute I noticed an irritating feeling on my right ankle. When I looked down I saw that fire ants were covering my shoe and foot up to my ankle and were headed north.

Yikes! I had plopped my right foot on a fire ants colony!

I pride myself on having at least a reasonable sense of situational awareness but I didn’t see the ants when we stopped to talk.

You can’t see, hear, touch, smell or taste everything. Sometimes you have to experience life and adjust on the fly.

However, if you cruise through life without being at least reasonably aware of what is going on around you you can’t complain about the consequences.

Anyone know how to deal with the itching?

Monday, October 21, 2013

They Saw It, Too

This morning the sky was finally a glorious blue, not a cloud to be seen. What’s the old joke people tell when it’s been cloudy and rainy for so long and finally the sun comes out, “What’s that ball of fire in the sky?”

It was one of those mornings in which the moon was also out.

So often, when I see the moon, I’m amazed that it’s the exact same moon seen by almost every other person who’s ever lived. While Helen Keller and Stevie Wonder might not have seen the moon George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, Jesus and Muhammad, Christopher Columbus and Neil Armstrong, and Thomas Edison and Sir Isaac Newton all saw EXACTLY the same moon we see.

Much of life is like that; we all have some of the same joys and victories, sadnesses and failures, hurts and pleasures.

If you’re running into a challenge I can promise you it won’t be difficult to find someone who has experienced and overcome the same challenge, all you have to do is look around. They may be sitting next to you at work or they’re in line with you at Starbucks or their story is online or sitting on a bookshelf.

Like many of you I’m facing a variety of challenges both joyful and painful. What I’m discovering is that as long as I stay open to information and answers it seems that they come to me from all directions; all I have to do is be observant.

If you get a chance this week check out the moon, it’s easily found…just like the answers we need.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

3 Most Dangerous Words, I and II

If there are 3 Most Dangerous Words in Life they are, "Is This It?"

People start asking, "Is This It?" and if they don't like the answer their minds start going in one of two directions, up or down. They decide it's time to make some changes or they decide that if this is all there is they might as well quit.

If this is it which direction are you going?

If there is a second group of 3 Most Dangerous Words they are, "What About Me?"

Lots of folks spend most of their lives focusing on others. Whether they do it to truly help others (see Mother Theresa) or because they see themselves as martyrs (that's hoo...I'm not important, I'll just spend my life on you hoping there'll be a day you'll be indebted to me for my sacrifice) there may come a day when they ask, "What About Me?"

Usually that doesn't happen with the Mother Theresas of the world because they are truly and unselfishly giving their lives for others.

But, for the rest of us, some folks finally wake up and one day start realizing they've given, given, given and now it's time to get something back.

When folks start asking, "What About Me?" you'd better watch out. A bill has come due.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Check Out Seth Godin, Today

 I don’t usually take the easy way out when it comes to writing a blog. But, today is too good to pass up.

Many of you know how much I appreciate Seth Godin’s work. Godin is the most-frequently read business blogger in the world. If you aren’t reading him you’re missing out.

Check out Seth today at

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Congress in the 'Hood

During the break in a recent seminar I asked a woman who had an obviously Northern accent how she ended up in Rockingham, NC.

She had a pretty quick tale about her mother living in Rockingham and when her mother got sick the woman moved down to take care of mom.

The conversation turned interesting when she started talking about how much her grandchildren, who live in New York City with their mothers, love to visit her.

“When they get on my nerves I just tell them, ‘Go outside and play!,” she said. “And at first my daughters were horrified! They’d say, ‘Mom, you can’t send those children outside, it’s not safe!!”

She told me that in the area of New York in which her daughters and their children live the kids can’t go outside because they might catch a stray bullet.

You know, we read about and hear about  that stuff all the time but until a real, live person is standing in front of you telling you it’s hard to believe it happens in the same country a lot of the rest of us live in.

And, some of those shooters are riding up and down the I-95 and I-85 drug corridors every day. If you don’t believe me ask the sheriffs and the highway patrol who have to police those highways.

I’m not trying to add to the paranoia the local and national news creates, but let’s be honest, most of us are luckier than we know. We don’t live in environments that are dangerous every day.

When I consider the challenges many of our fellow-citizens face and then think about the people in Washington who are supposed to be making decisions…here’s what I think: Let’s bus the members of Congress to the areas of New York, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas and some of the other cities where children are afraid to walk the streets. Let’s let those folks spend a few nights in some of the more “challenging” areas. Let’em walk the streets after dark. Let’s take their IDs and give’em $3 and drop’em off on a corner at midnight.

The results would be two-fold: If we video them it would be the best reality show EVER! and, after a lot of them came out of therapy, you wouldn’t see them hiding in their offices when it was time for decisions to be made.

But, hey, that’s just me.

Monday, October 14, 2013


Today is Columbus Day and most of us will give Christopher Columbus credit for discovering what has become America.

But, maybe it didn’t happen that way. Thanks to for the history lesson below:

“On October 12, (1492) Rodrigo de Triana, a sailor aboard the Pinta, first sighted land. Columbus himself later claimed that he had seen a sort of light or aura before Triana did, allowing him to keep the reward he had promised to give whomever spotted land first. The land turned out to be a small island in the present-day Bahamas. Columbus named the island San Salvador, although he remarked in his journal that the natives referred to it as Guanahani. There is some debate over which island was Columbus’ first stop; most experts believe it to be San Salvador, Samana Cay, Plana Cays or Grand Turk Island.”

There’s an old joke that says Columbus didn’t know where he was going, didn’t know what he’d found when he arrived, got lost coming back home and did it all on borrowed money.

The joke is funny but, like a lot of jokes, not entirely true. Columbus was trying to get to India and thought that if the earth was round and he sailed following the sun he’d hit it (India, not the sun).

In fact, he was using Chevy Chase’s logic from the movie Caddy Shack, “In an alternate universe the shortest distance between two points is a straight line…in the opposite direction.”

Getting where we want to go in life doesn’t always happen in a linear fashion. There are stops and starts, obstacles to overcome, heartbreaks to bear (and bare), two-steps-back-and-one-step-forward, surprises (good and bad), disappointments and joyous victories.

The key is to keep your eye and heart on the prize. If you can stay focused on the goal and keep moving—no matter how fitfully—you can, as Thoreau said, “meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Tell Me Something Good

Al Walker is a humorist and professional speaker who has a good handle on self-talk.

Walker points out that our most important discussion is “what we tell ourselves, about ourselves, when we are by ourselves.”

Studies show half of our self-talk is of a negative nature.

What do you wake up telling yourself…that you’ll have good day, or not?

Remember Henry Ford’s philosophy, “Whether you think you can or you can't, you’re right.”

Start telling yourself something good this weekend.

See you Monday.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fetch, Fido!!!

Yesterday I was listening to the Comedy Central channel on SiriusXM radio while driving.

A comedian was talking about dogs and how all you have to do is throw a ball and they lose their minds. They’ll run and jump and play and have the time of their lives and all you have to do is throw the ball so they can catch it.

Then the comedian said something that has stuck with me ever since. He said, “In life, we all need to find whatever our catch the ball moment might be.”

Think about that. What is the activity or situation, who is the person, what is it that gives you the same focused, full-on, life’s-a-blast feeling dogs exhibit when they run to catch a ball.

And, it doesn’t have to be one thing. In fact, you’re truly fortunate if you have a number of things, situations and people that give you the catch the ball moment.

What’s your catch-the-ball moment?

You need at least one moment like that every day.

So, before you go to bed tonight, what will be your catch-the-ball moment?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What Are Your MITs for Today?

In The Personal MBA, author Josh Kaufman has a great idea for increasing personal productivity.

Kaufman suggests designating tasks that can have the most positive effect on your progress as your Most Important Tasks: MITs.

He also suggests setting a daily deadline to get them done. So, your goal is to get two MITs done before 10 am.

Now, some of this we’ve long known. We should create To-Do lists and set deadlines. But, Kaufman’s suggestion goes a few steps further.

He points out that by designating MITs we give ourselves permission to decline invitations to be interrupted…“I’d love to help you with that, but I’m on deadline right now.”

He also makes the point that the cumulative effect of completing MITs gets us ever-closer to completing the bigger goal of which they are a part.

What are the two or three tasks—your MITs—that, if you could get them done today, would get you closer to your bigger goals?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Incessant Babbling....But, It's a Good Thing!!

Peter Drucker would be proud of me. The late-writer and educator, known as the Father of Modern Management, said that knowledge workers, which most of us now are, must be our own chief executive officers. In today’s workplace, where many of us will work for 50 years for a variety of organizations and in a number of careers, we must make our own decisions when guiding our work lives.

Drucker was an advocate of understanding where our strengths lie. He also said that knowing how we perform—the essentials of how we learn, get along with others, and get tasks done—might be even more important than understanding our strengths.

So, with those thoughts in mind, last week I took a behavioral assessment as part of my plan to make some life and work changes.

Tests, surveys and assessments scare some people. Not me. Except for the Econ 31 final I slept through at UNC-Chapel Hill I’ve always liked taking tests; the pressure makes it fun and finding out what I know and where I stand is revealing.

In some areas the results of the survey I took reaffirmed some of my self-assessment. It showed that I’m a fast learner who is highly creative and can successfully juggle a number of projects within an erratic schedule. My scores showed that I enjoy working with others and am able to view “matters in a very patient, mature manner.” (that last part should stun some of those closest to me)

But, the results weren’t all blue birds and lemonade. Some scores showed that I tend to be a little too forceful if things aren’t going the way I believe they should. I need to learn better planning and scheduling skills. My favorite negative result came in the area of Sociability; results showed me to be too talkative. (I’m sure those closest to me will NOT be stunned by that) In fact, the survey said I probably tended to ramble on at times to the point of rattling on incessantly. (this is the point those closest to me are pointing at the screen, nodding their heads and saying, “well….yeah!”)

Assessments of these types have to be taken with a grain of salt. We are never as good or as gross as we believe we are, or as a test shows. But, if you can take the results as suggestions to improve weak areas and increase your strengths it’s possible to make a jump to another level of accomplishment and success.

If you haven’t taken a behavioral assessment in a while, or if you’ve never taken one, you should. We all need affirmations and revelations if we are to move through life successfully.

One more thing; the survey said I was rich, tall, handsome and could tap dance.

Not really, I faked the part about being able to tap dance.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

No! No! That's Not Really Me!!

When was the last time you took a personality profile or general knowledge index?

After we finish formal schooling we don’t get tested a lot…at least not a formal test, every day is a test in one sense or the other.

There are lots of these assessments out there: the Myers-Briggs Typing Index is probably the best known, but there’s also the DiSC Survey and others. You can find some of these online and take them for free. The key is to have someone interpret the results for you or connect with an information base that will help you interpret your results.

I just completed a Profile Evaluation and will meet with a consultant this afternoon to discuss the results.

I’m running into a time of life and some decisions that are extremely important. I want to make sure I have the information I need to make good decisions and understanding myself is a key.

If you haven’t kicked your own tires lately you might want to give it a try. You’ll probably get some information that validates what you believe about yourself…which can be good or…mmm….gives you that uh, oh feeling. Just remember, we are never as good or as gross as we think we are.

And, hopefully, you’ll get some results that make you ask more questions about yourself, life and what—if you keep doing what you’re doing, or if you are willing to change a few things—is coming around the bend.

I’m just hoping that when I pull up to the meeting this afternoon there isn’t one of those big trucks like they transport rhinos to the zoo in parked in the parking lot. And when I get to the conference room I’m not met by a SWAT team led by Sylvester Stallone and he’s got this horrified look on his face and he’s reading…my profile. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Stuff or No Stuff

Last weekend I saw a survey that said older people…I know, I know, I’m getting there…near the ends of their lives, rarely look back and talk about stuff. They almost always talk about experiences.

So, it wasn’t the cars or boats, houses or condos, or golf clubs or swimming pools they were proud of or enjoyed. It was the trips they took, life they enjoyed in those homes or fun they had in recreation.

You can spend your life getting stuff…and yes, I understand that the stuff can add or detract from your quality of life, but stay with me on this…or you can spend most of your life doing life.

Try this…go to lunch today with someone…don’t take a lot of time thinking of who it should be other than choosing someone who isn’t negative all the time. Just make a call or walk down the hall and ask and go; find somewhere simple and easy. Don’t go to a lot of trouble finding a place to have lunch. Order something simple. Don’t spend a lot of time perusing the menu.

Now, experience and enjoy the other person. Don’t talk about work. Ask them this question, “What’s the last thing you did that was fun?” You’ll get a range of answers. Pay attention.

The idea is to enjoy the encounter. Two people enjoying being together. That’s what life is supposed to be about.

Years from now those golf clubs I have stuck in my trunk won’t say, “Dang! Mike rarely took me out for a walk.”

‘Course that’s a point in itself, now isn’t it?