If you remember only one thing . . .

“You’re a great person.” Aunt Syl

And my Aunt Syl isn’t the only one who thinks so . . .

Develop a “feel good” file of positive notes from your family, friends, and colleagues.  When you need an emotional “pick-me-up” reread the letters and you’ll remember you’re valuable, have something to contribute, and are making a difference in people’s lives.


Write an Encouragizer Note and Positively Change Your Life


Write an Encouragizer Note (or Postcard) and Change Your Life

Back in summer of 2003 my vacation plans derailed and I ended up spending a week visiting bookstores in Chicago. At one store, a book,
Write it down, make it happen: knowing what you want– and getting it! by Henriette Anne Klauser fell to my feet. I decided to pick it up and buy the book. This was one of the best decisions of my life.

In chapter 19, “Giving Thanks,” I was reacquainted with the idea of writing handwritten notes; I started writing “Encouragizer Notes” and haven’t stopped. I love to write to: thank, encourage, and/or acknowledge someone. While I usually know the person, sometimes I do not – yet want to share how my life is better because of that person.

What I have learned is that people love to receive handwritten notes – from my 100 year old great aunt to my eight year old nephew and everyone in between. I believe that it’s because there is a level of attention and care that is sometimes missed in today’s world.

I also realized early on that I don’t need to be a great writer – just a person who cares and is sincere in each message. I also believe that it helps tremendously to be specific and that’s what people want: “tell me specifically how I made your life better.”

When I write a handwritten note, my spirits are boosted (even if I am already feeling pretty good) – and I have heard time and again that people receiving the notes feel special, appreciated, and a little happier. All good things.

I encourage you to write notes or postcards. Each card makes the world a little friendlier, warmer, and more positive.

Please keep coming back; I will post tips, ideas, and stories at the  Encouragizers Notes Project. I hope that you leave your experiences with handwritten notes, too.

Thanks and let’s keep this going.

The Sunshine of Success

This morning, I heard two people discussing the new movie, The Social Network – and the conversation actually got really heated. One person totally believes that it takes complete ruthlessness to succeed, while the other person argued that you can be a good person and have a high level of achievement whether or not it generates goo gobs of money.

To be significant and relevant, each of us must define success for ourselves and then “evaluate” our life based on this. Yet doing this is not easy – it takes courage, conviction, and a super strong sense of self. I believe you are up to the challenge.

Have a great week,


Expanding Your Power with What Works

What if life is not one continuous problem solving session, but rather one glorious treasure hunt? Studies conducted at Case Western University show that individuals and organizations that analyzed their flaws and weaknesses had a more difficult time advancing than those who focused on what worked and built from there. This was true with children, teenagers, adults, and organizations of all sizes.

As an experiment for the next 31 days, first thing in the morning ask yourself: “What works about my relationships, career, health, your life as a whole – or you fill in the blank with whichever area you want to focus on?” Make a list, starting with 11 items on day 1. Add 3 items to your list each day for 30 days for a total of 101. This works. Just do it and you will reap tremendous rewards. Let us know what happens.

Have a terrific Wednesday,

Success Impediment or Success Advantage?

I was visiting with a friend over the weekend who has had really BIG challenges – some that could even have killed her. Yet her life is filled with hope, happiness, and growing success. While some people might have been overwhelmed and even derailed by my friend’s “problems,” she views each obstacle as raw material for her future.

Sometimes I have a hard time seeing a potential impediment as a personal advantage. So, I am going to spend this week following my friend’s lead and focus on the longer term benefit rather than the momentary aggravation. It would be great if we do this together – and I would love to hear what happens for you.


Letting Others Help Increases Success

Today, we have an Executive MBA Executive-in-Residence Program at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. It is an opportunity for Executive MBA Students to be mentored by senior executives from around the global.

It is only possible with tons of help – executives willing to share their time, students willing to give their “free day” up to learn from the executives, and staff members who are willing to spend their entire day (after flying from around the globe) to support everyone.

Thank you all so much.

So today, let others help you – your opportunities, success, and happiness will grow!

Have a wonderful day,

The Unexpected Source of Success

I was working with a graduate of the MBA program from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He is a rather senior guy with significant leadership and management experience with a multinational corporation. We were chatting about a variety of things – from the state of the world markets to the nuances of leadership. Given my passion for understanding the underlying factors of success, I asked: “We both know that expressing gratitude is important – yet how can we make it concrete?”

He didn’t say a word, but instead whipped out his mobile phone. Then he said, “Do you remember this?” and begin to play a year old voice mail message. This grad had volunteered at an event last year. One of my colleagues told me that he had done an amazing job, so I took 30 seconds to tell him. No embellishments, just the facts.
“That’s how you make gratitude concrete,” he said. “And, it’s a free ‘secret’ to greater success!”

So today, just notice someone doing something right and share what you see.

Have a great Thursday,

The Big “O” Will Positively Change Your Life.

What’s the difference between “giving ‘til it hurts” and making an offering? On a material level, there’s likely no distinction at all. Two people can give the same time, money, energy, or effort and have remarkably different experiences. The first feels cheated, resentful, and drained having given out of peer pressure, guilt, or hoping to get something in return. The second feels joyful, appreciated, and ready to give again having given out of commitment, sincerity, and appreciation. The Big “O” offering is a gift with no strings attached, not a bribe for future gain.

So how can each of us give “gifts” with a generosity of spirit? A wise friend once told me to find something I truly believe in and give because I want to. So what do you truly care about? Give a little of yourself today. Instead of losing anything, you’ll feel like someone actually gave to you.


How Far Do You Have to Go?

Ever look at someone and think, “Boy, does she have a long way to go.” That thought could even be about you. And while an individual’s supreme potential may not yet be fully revealed, each person deserves your deepest respect for possessing it. So as you meet people throughout your day, acknowledge each one with dignity and respect.

Have a great weekend.

Warm regards,

Thank You for Being Alive

People talk a lot about gratitude these days – documenting appreciation for everything from a delicious piece of apple pie to our excellent health. But what about a little gratitude for the people we encounter each day – even the ones we’d like to avoid, who get on our last good nerve. 

Now I know that there’s not much positive reinforcement in society for this type of gratitude. Nations, organizations, and many religions encourage us to assert our differences. The media also helps us “forget” that we’re all human beings struggling to survive, with similar hopes and dreams. 

Conflict and violence naturally flows from this disconnect. Ever notice how people almost hungrily wait for one of “those” people to make a mistake, so that they can pounce and diss them. 

I challenge you to be a maverick and search for and acknowledge the humanness in each person you encounter. I’ll bet that gratitude and joy will naturally flow into your life. What a bargain – so much for so little! 

Thanks for reading,