Pay Attention

I called a friend yesterday to sing a slightly off-key rendition of “Happy Birthday”. Despite my lack of perfect pitch, she was delighted. She shared a bit of angst about people close to her plastering birthday messages across a variety of social media platforms – much to her dismay. The main point was not that she didn’t love to celebrate her birthday, but that her friends didn’t honor her wishes.

Good lesson for me – sometimes I want to give what I want to receive instead of providing what the receiver desires. This is a great incentive for me to really listen and share what will delight and surprise the other person.

Have a happy weekend,


Getting Paid What You’re Worth

Last night I was chatting with a friend who designs incredible things. That said, her world is often one of feast or famine – tons of projects in a short period of time followed by NOTHING for what can seem like forever.

Recently, she was in an extended time where she was actively looking. So when an opportunity popped up she had to seriously consider it, even though it was well below her rate. At first, my friend felt conflicted. While it was prudent to take on the position, she knew if it wasn’t wise to accept such a low rate..After a lot of soul-searching, she knew what she needed to do. With courage mixed with practicality, she turned down the opportunity. The next day, she received a better offer that was multiples of her regular rate.

My lesson is this: know who you are, what you need, and what you are willing to risk to get there.

Have a wonderful Thursday,

“The Answer”

Through the ages, philosophers, gurus, and success experts have claimed that they have “The Answer” to indisputable personal and professional achievement. While many have ideas, motivation, and wisdom to impart to us, the package often requires Herculean commitment, vast stores of willpower, and an ability to sift through more complexity than I have the willingness or patience to handle. And if the system doesn’t “work” – it’s not viewed as a systems failure, but a lack or defect in the person attempting to use it. The net result is a confidence drain.

To me, this is not an acceptable outcome.

So, I began to study – not of the marketers of success – but of real people who became successful on their own terms.  I noticed a three-step process that they intuitively use.

1.     Dream. It’s crucial to have goals – concrete, measurable, and win-win – with steps that are doable beginning today. They must be your goals – not a friend’s, parent’s, partner’s – or something that you “should” do. Choose goals important to you that inspire, motivate, and are a source of celebration when achieved.

2.    Do it now. It’s time to start today. It’s doesn’t matter how small the step is, just that you do it. Refrain from comparing your actions to anyone else’s. It’s counterproductive and generally useless. Take actions that you are ready, willing, and able to take and that you will feel good about when they are done. This can be as simple as making a phone call to someone who can help you to spending 15 minutes a day until your business plan is completed.

3.    Be Done. When you are about 80% through with a goal, plan the next one. It will be your impetus to plow through the last 20% and not refine yourself into oblivion. Attention to detail is great unless it becomes perfectionism run a muck. Once you complete a goal, celebrate the success, rest on your laurels for about 20 minutes, and then go on to create your next success.

As you Dream, Do it now, and Be Done, I’d love to hear about your successes. That’s what keeps me inspired.


Success in 17 Seconds

I can’t say that I am a big hockey fan. Powerful sport – I’m just not that into it. I am probably one of a very few in Chicago who hasn’t been glued to the Chicago Blackhawks’ playoff games over the last weeks.

No question, the games (and team) have been exciting. That said, I believe there is so much we can learn from the 2012-2013 Blackhawks team.

Last night, was the sixth game of the series with the Boston Bruins. The Blackhawks led the series 3-2 (in a best of 7 situation). It was the third period with just a smidge of time left in the game and the Blackhawks were down one goal. The Bruins were fighting pretty hard with little opportunity for the Blackhawks to get close to scoring.

Some other teams (sports, business, or otherwise) might have hung back a little and already begun planning for game 7. It’s easy to do: many people think if I don’t win today, I’ll finish things off tomorrow. Not the Blackhawks – in 17 seconds, they tied up the game and then went on to win.

Food for thought whatever your goal.

Have a great day,

Where the Good Stuff “Hides”

I was working with my coach, Susan, at lunchtime today. She is really an ace – brilliant, compassion, and lovingly demanding. She is helping me create a presentation on how I have excelled because of, not despite having been crushed by an elevator. The development process has actually been harder than I expected: it’s actually still painful to relive and reprocess some of the experiences.

I find that much of the good stuff is often “hidden”. When I have the courage to find it, I am closer to having more things to share – and not just for people who are crushed by elevators (that would be a super small audience), but to many more with hopes, dreams, and challenges of all kinds.

Have a great day,

The Longest Day of the Year

Today is the longest day of the year. How will you use it? Accelerating your growth? Hanging out? Spending time doing things you care about – with people you care about?

What you do is less important that how you do it: your level of commitment, genuine enthusiasm, and heart.

Enjoy the day,

Consistent, Yet Unexpected

I find the most fascinating people those who are solid, consistent, and reliable – while have a strong innovative side. They come up with new and engaging solutions and yet their self-identity, sense of purpose, and values anchor them in a really compelling way.

So my lesson is this: keep learning, be curious, and know who you are. Then others will see you as a consistent resource with a twist – increasing your value in so many ways.

Enjoy your day,

Find the Great Notes

I was reading excerpts of a commencement speech jazz great, Herbie Hancock, gave last month. He talked about the best career advice he was even given: “Don’t use the butter notes,” Miles Davis told him. He had no idea what Miles meant at first. He soon learned that butter notes are the easy ones – the notes you find in almost every chord. Miles was telling Herbie to go beyond the obvious because that’s where greatness lies.

This is good advice for Herbie, you, and me.

Have a great day,

Giving Yourself an Edge

I was with a group of friends last night and we were talking about those crucial moments where things could result in either victory or defeat. What is the difference? The consensus within the group was this – you have to be courageous and see beyond what you can done before. Boldly take action when no one is asking, guiding, or motivating you to do so.

I like that idea. Going to test it out today.

Have a wonderful Tuesday,

What’s Most Important: Be Right or Win?

I was chatting with a friend yesterday who is clearly struggling with a problem at the moment. I listened and listened more. In the middle of the conversation I asked him, “How important is it that you turn around this situation?” “Extremely,” he replied. “It’s everything!”

I think my friend was annoyed that I even asked. Undeterred, I continued. “What if the other person has the best solution?” Dead silence. My friend paused for a moment and confessed that he wouldn’t be all that happy with that. Then he laughed (thank goodness) and said, “What a choice – be saddled with the problem indefinitely or admit I could be wrong?!?”

This is a challenge I find myself and many others facing – be ready to listen and be open OR be right and risk actually not creating a win for you and the other person.

The choice is ours to make – over and over and over again.

Have a great day,