Props to All the “Real” People

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I have always loved, and been inspired by, the “Common Man” (and Woman).

When I was 25 years old at my first start-up company in Manhattan I had literally one thing hanging from my office wall (other than 587 sticky notes and whiteboards, both I have had various obsessions with over the years).

It was a photo I’d torn out of the Wall Street Journal of two older Chinese men doing backbreaking work in a remote village for what was an incomprehensibly low wage with brutally long hours.

Frequently, a group of us would be at the office past 2am. On occasion, I would feel myself  get into a “EFFFF! Man, this is SO HARD” mental loop.

But then I would look at the picture and remind myself.

“No…You know what’s hard? Working 14 hours a day in rice fields at the age of 71 doing mundane and incredibly physically demanding manual labor to earn a barely livable wage. That’s hard.”

Over 15-years later I still have that same photo, which I still look at periodically to remind myself of the same thing.

Inspirational speakers don’t often inspire me.

I find my greatest inspiration in “Ordinary People…Doing ‘Extra-Ordinary’ things” (a quote I’ve always loved from a great college football coach of mine, Joe Williams).

Last week I drove from San Francisco to Sedona over the holidays to celebrate the wedding of an amazing friend. En route at 4am after having driven 12-hours I was tempted to sleep at a rest area, but since I had the kids I found a roadside motel instead.

The place was a total dive, some roadside hatch in the middle of nowhere Arizona for $46 a night.

I pull up my car to the crappy entrance “guest reception” to check in. My expectations of the front desk employee falls in one of two tranches: low and lower.

Instead, I am met with the most amazing woman who is working the front desk.

Graying hair in her early 60’s with imperfect teeth and a glowing personality, she was one of the most enthusiastic, positive, professional, warm, and cheerful people I’d met in months.

In five minutes of checking in I fell in love with her. If I’d had a job for her I would’ve hired her on the spot (which I’ve essentially done before–in fact, one of my first FloWater employees was my waiter at a restaurant where I basically did just that).

People like her? Now that inspires me.

In a land (esp Silicon Valley, though I’m not knocking it–but there’s a reality check we can all use) of companies that offer free food, decompression parties, meditation rooms, unlimited vacation policies, culture workshops, and on and on (all designed to recruit and retain the greatest talent and provide an atmosphere where they can do their best work), what REALLY inspires me are people like this.

Working at a ratty hotel. In the middle of nowhere. At 4am. Earning minimum wage.

And blowing my mind with an amazing customer experience and an incredibly friendly and generous personality. 

Props, tonight, to all the real people.

That do real work.

That often goes unnoticed.

You inspire me.

~Raz

 

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all period. What is the most significant info you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

The Chemistry Complex

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Right now I’m sitting in an Upper West Side Manhattan apartment, in this little nook by a double window typing away on my Macbook Air. Every few minutes my eyes break free of the screen towards scattered glances in the alley of brick lined apartments and rusty old fire escapes cascading the sides of pre-war buildings, while Kaskade is playing through Pandora, a black coffee in my hands and the goal to be running in Central Park in 60-minutes after I finish posting about something I’ve thought about for quite a while.

This week in NYC I was prompted to write after spending some time with a few former people with whom I’ve worked (epic, insanely talented and amazing people who I loved working with and were catalysts to building great teams). It was a hard hitting reminder to me about something I’ve wanted to write about for years, which is my relatively simple premise around the effect chemistry can have on building great teams. 

It’s a pretty simple distillation of my hiring philosophy, after a lot of experience in both big and small companies–including a few raw start-ups and two re-starts– in a lot of different geographies, a fair amount of study on the subject, and more than a few mistakes along the way, I’ve essentially boiled my hiring and team-building decision-making into two very simple evaluations: Competency and Chemistry

A lot can be learned from insightful readings from a few of the best of the best related to leadership development, executive hiring, and creating high performing teams. Welch is legendary, especially with more established entities; Bezos is all around brilliant and pulls in a big-growth-company-meets-scrappy-upstart philosophy for the digital world that’s insanely customer-driven; Collins is a super solid researcher that’s studied the best of the best and carries killer insights based on aggregated data and interviews. And there’s a bunch of bits and pieces I’ve picked up from start-ups, including personal experiences, other Exec’s, and investors.

But even after all of this, I’ve pretty much broken it down into these two key characteristics. The reality is also that people can only process so much information and evaluate decisions on so many criteria. It’s why running a company trying to monitor and asses 12+ metrics is simply ineffective and dilutive; instead it’s better to zone in on 3-5 key metrics. Nail those. And, if you can bring it down to one or two then all the better (and do the same for each division or department). The same premise applies for hiring.

The competency part of hiring and building great teams is pretty self explanatory, so I’m not even going to carry a description here, other than to say for me this is a bit of broad definition that includes character, tenacity, skills, efficiency, intelligence. It’s effectively summarized in a question like “Is this person in the top 10-20 percentile in what they do and how they do it?” That’s competency.

The chemistry part, well that’s where the mojo is. Harder to define and more crystallized by asking the question of “Does he/she add magic to the team?” It’s something you can just feel. Team sports are an easier illustration; I can remember years playing football in college with guys who were good, but not great. However, had insane team chemistry. Those years yielded better results than when it was reversed. I can think back on business experiences and see this as well–and when we’ve had the intersection between insanely competent teams with great chemistry, the results AND the experience was unreal. I once had a football coach repeatedly tell us “Men, you don’t have to like each other…but you do need to love each other.” I think there’s a lot of insight there; and too many business environments exist where people neither like nor love their teams–despite being competent. And then they wonder why they don’t perform as well as they can, why there’s churn, why coming to work isn’t fun, engaging, or rewarding. There’s no mystery around it.

Chemistry isn’t this soft skill or some diluted esoteric parameter. Chemistry is intertwined with the answer to questions like: Do I respect her? Will he make the team work harder through influence? Do I trust there isn’t game playing and ulterior motive? Does he care about people and have an unrelenting passion for winning, including especially the team–or is he in the win for himself? Even at the cost of others? Is the very act of work fun, engaging, and rewarding with her?

A lot of companies try to do all these team-building things to engage or create chemistry. You know what? If you think in order to create chemistry you need to go do offsite team building, drink beer after work, do a trust fall, or–God forbid–hire a consultant to address this, you’re flat out screwed. You don’t have it, and you probably won’t get it.

My favorite business memories weren’t forced outings, retreats, and canned prescriptive stuff (yeah, I’ve also tried it before myself). Instead, my best memories were doing epic things in business and enjoying an insanely great team. In other words, it was actually often the most challenging and difficult work itself, and doing that with great people, that I liked the best. That comes from working with people who have great chemistry together.

In any business, accelerators are a part of the competitive advantage. Getting to market faster, higher close ratios, faster cycles, better deliverables, quicker communication with better transference of information and less noise. Conversely, the “chemistry” dynamic doesn’t mean everyone is homogeneous and shares similar views. That’s actually the magic of chemistry. It magnifies distinctions. It brings them out, faster, and because there’s trust you can cycle faster, learn more, and cover more ground. That’s directly attributable to chemistry.

The very thing that makes up the manifestation of hard metrics and actual results comes down to how good the teams are, and how well they work together, and how much they trust each other. It drives the function of how frequently people communicate, the ability to use short-hand and move faster, the number of hours the teams wants to spend working, along with the intensity or projects and execution of programs. It’s that simple.

Part of great chemistry is not wanting to let other people down–not because you’re afraid of pissing them off or some retribution, but because you’re a team and you want to win. You want to see them win. And you’ll go to the end of the earth to contribute your part, because that’s what happens when people depend on each other, trust each other, and have great chemistry. They come through. They deliver results. Not out of some form of obligation or even just the paycheck, but out of desire. There’s a huge difference. Working from the basis of the former creates liabilities. Working from the basis of the latter builds assets.

It’s clear great teams have an exponentiating effect on performance; and a big part of that is chemistry within the team. Chemistry is the juice that makes competency come to life, otherwise all these insanely epic skills that people carry are too often hidden from fully developing when the chemistry is missing.

My experience is that those individuals and teams with just the great competency are difficult to find. Finding individuals and teams with great competency that add a massive multiplier with the chemistry dynamic? That’s really rare.

And it’s also where the magic is.

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doc. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all period. What is the most significant info you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good soundness, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

What a Little Hope Can Do

hope

Yesterday I was working at a Starbucks. At one point I stepped outside to make a few phone calls. Since it was the day after Independence Day, the whole shopping area was pretty quiet. A few hours earlier I’d seen a girl and her mom walking around with a sign asking for money, seemingly without much success. Were they really destitute? I don’t know for sure. But based on what happened yesterday, I became pretty convinced.

I was outside leaning against a corner in between calls and had a close view of what’s basically the back alley of the shopping area. Nearby, I saw a guy leaning against his car. Then the little girl–I’d guess about ten years old who was wearing relatively tattered clothes–and her mom approached the guy by his car.

The girl and her mom looked so…Dejected. Exhausted. Hopeless. Step by step they apprehensively walked in his direction.

The little girl approached the guy with great hesitation, and finally mustered up the courage to ask for money.  The guy shook his head no and moved them along with a little wave of his hand. The little girl looked devastated. And so tired.

Then, he did a double take, almost as if he knew he couldn’t send them along without some help. With a gentler and more compassionate tone than I would have expected, he called her back and said “Little girl, what do you need the money for?”

“Para comer, por favor. Para comer” she said meekly.

He reached in, and I could see him scrounging through his wallet–I assumed to find a smaller bill–and to my surprise I watched him hand her a $20. It was gracious for him to give it, but from the looks of his high end denim and European car, I’m sure the $20 meant little to him compared to that family (which, from my subjective observation, I think, is part of his realization later).

As she sees the gift is $20, the little girl burst into a scream of delight as he handed her the bill. She grabbed his hand and thanked him profusely in broken english. She ran, hugged her mom, who smiled brilliantly and had tears welling up in her eyes, and as they were walking away the little girl turned around and yelled out “Gracias Señor, gracias Señor!” Then, she proceeded to–literally–skip off holding her mom’s hand with a smile the size of Texas. As they faded in the distance, I could hear her talking excitedly with her mom. It was as if she got a new lease on life.

Two minutes and $20 later, her entire outlook on life at that moment had changed.

I looked back to the guy who was still leaning against his car, and saw him moved with uncontrollable tears of compassion pouring down his cheeks.

And yesterday I was reminded, probably just like that guy, what a little help–and a little hope–can do.

~Raz

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your physician. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all date. What is the most significant info you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good heartiness, its doubtless great for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

During a Meeting This Week in New York City…

Jeff Gordon Pepsi Max Test Drive
Jeff Gordon Pepsi Max Test Drive

There was a “bit” of tension. It was all good, but it was more than just a tad though certainly not a lot.

So we imposed a coffee break into the meeting at the “bit” of tension point, and during the down time one of the guys asked me “Have you seen the Jeff Gordon video yet?”

I hadn’t, thinking to myself “I don’t want to watch a video at this moment.” But he pulled it up online, and a small group of us watched it and shared in the laughter. And it shifted the dynamics after that point as well.

So, here it is, one of the funniest videos I have seen in a REALLY long time. Totally worth the four minutes. I have no idea whether it’s real or not, but it’s still a riot.

And, a lesson learned from one of my business colleagues on diffusing a bit of tension by leveraging a funny distraction to allow everyone to regroup and come back slightly refreshed in order to work through the remaining issues.

Pepsi Max and Jeff Gordon “Test Drive” video

And if you found that one amusing, then here’s the other video previously released a while back, featuring Pepsi Max and Kyrie Irving as “Uncle Drew”

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all period. What is the most significant data you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Zoe’s New Business Idea (and the 99% problem)

Raz and RoZo at Ikea discussing start-ups at lunch
Raz and RoZo at Ikea discussing start-ups at lunch

Some people think the magic to a successful business is all in the idea. Of course a good idea matters. Ideally it’s one you’re passionate about. But there are no shortage of good ideas–and probably close-to-identical ones that came before yours.

After the idea, you’re less than 1% of the way there.

The other 99% of the “problem”? Focus and execution. 

Unexpectedly, I had a funny reminder of this today when talking with Zoe, my nine year old daughter. The conversation started over lunch at Ikea and we finished up as we sat on the couch on the patio soaking up the California sun (I know, New Englanders, that was so wrong). Zoe has no shortage of ideas, and by nature is very entrepreneurial, wildly creative, super smart, and when she’s “in the zone” an insanely hard worker…

And at times she’s also a little unfocused. 🙂

Today, the discussion was around her three business ideas, and they are as follows: a) a make up company; b) a clothing company with her own designs; c) being a kids clothing model.

So we’re talking this through and she’s pitching me on each of them and I’m throwing out questions like “How would you sell this?” or “Why would a customer buy your product vs. someone else’s?” and she’s rebutting each of them pretty well, and I continue to ask questions to help her think her way to the answers.

At one point we’re talking about what would make the clothing line unique, and she says “Yeah, well here’s what would be different. I’d make all my clothes for kids my age and older, but the design focus would be all chic. (which she says with total flair and expressive hand gestures). Do you know what that word chic means when I say that? Are you understanding me when I say it like that?”

Uhmmm, yeah, Zoe, I got that. I know what chic means. 😉

(side note: at the end there’s a funny twist to this…)Zoe

As we wind down the conversation she asks me “So what do you think is the best idea for me?” And I just say “Zoe, they’re all great. Here’s my suggestion: pick the one you love, and go all in on it. Do you know what I mean by going all in?” And she responds, “Yeah, I get it. You’re saying focus on one and put all my time and energy there and don’t try to do everything because it’s so hard to do.”

For 5-seconds there’s a pause, and so I’m waiting for her to tell me whether she’s going to pursue make up, clothing, or modeling and she looks at me and says:

“Dad, I understand everything you said. Which is EXACTLY why I want to create a weekly fashion magazine!”

She immediately interjects my moderately-expressive response and says “Okay dad, wait just check this out…here’s what it’s going to be, I’ve been thinking about this for a while…” And she goes onto passionately pitch the idea.

Inside, I’m dying laughing. Because it’s such the temptation we all face–to dabble in lots of ideas. Yet, the success comes in picking the few right things and executing really well.

As it turns out, the weekly fashion magazine is now my favorite idea and I’m bidding on the URL she wants. But here’s the funny twist at the end…

So my nine-year-old asked me if I knew what “chic” meant, and you can envision me rolling my eyes right after she asked. The irony is later that day, I was two seconds away from buying a MISSPELLED URL with the word spelled “sheikh” instead of “chic”! Which, would’ve been bad, because I don’t think her fashion magazine target audience is the patriarch of a middle eastern tribe or family…

Though, if she really executed against it, there’s probably a market for that segment as well…

Grand mufti Al-Asheikh prays during funeral of Saudi woman and daughter who were killed in Chad

 

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your physician. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all time. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Super Bowl vs. Real Life

Football

Along with tens of millions of others, I too watched the Super Bowl on Sunday night. And while it’s 2:11am on Wednesday morning, I’m compelled to write a quick summary of what I think is such a strange dichotomy of the Super Bowl vs. our real life.

First…

Yes, I am a Niners fan.

Yes, I cheered, booed, yelled, and hollered during the game.

Yes, I liked the Paul Harvey / Dodge Ram ad (even though I’m skeptical it’ll sell one more truck because of it).

Yes, I was bummed we lost.

But here’s the dysfunction and dichotomy of the Super Bowl vs. Real Life.

Millions of people were radically charged up Sunday screaming at their TVs over an event that likely has zero significance to their everyday life. And now this week, we resume our day-to-day lives for which so many of us have less enthusiasm than we do a Super Bowl game.

Know what gets me really fired up?

  • Seeing code get deployed and the product into beta where we can see transactions occurring through the gateway
  • Watching someone kill it on a project or initiative where they outperformed even high expectations
  • Tracking a record number of shipments out the door, or a record number of purchases made online
  • Experiencing the chemistry and creativity of a team thinking through a new initiative, campaign, or strategy

It’s not that I don’t like the Super Bowl, or football for that matter. I played through college, though it was only D3 ball…and there’s a story in there which I think it has to do with why I overcompensate in other parts of my life; despite decent skills, I could’ve been a much better ball player than I was. I just didn’t take it seriously enough, as evidenced by the fact that I’m in better shape now in my late 30’s than I was at 21. But I still dig football, and think there’s some good lessons even in watching and cheering. It’s fun, there’s camaraderie, and that’s all cool.

But not as a substitute for our own pursuits and figuring out ways we can go and kill it ourselves. Watching someone do something great can be an awesome catalyst to our own life, so I’m not railing on the event–it’s simply a surreal illustration to me.

I wish all of us in everyday life were as fired up about something–work, philanthropy, their own personal challenge–as they are a game over which they have little to zero participation, and the outcome of which has negligible to no impact on their everyday life.

I’ve been in too many meetings over the years where I’ve seen some people vigorously debate an event, discussion, project, or strategy, only to hear a concluding team of people end by muttering “why are they taking this so seriously?”

Oh, you mean, more seriously than a football game? For something that they’re passionate about, and has meaning to their life, to their future and responsibilities for which they’re accountable?

Pray tell, I wish more people had that level of vigor, fight, and energy in everyday life. And if you’re one of them, don’t ever lose it. Ever.

It’s part of your gift.

 

 

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all period. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good heartiness, its doubtless great for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

How to Find a Great Boss: A Rebuttal

Finding a Great Boss

Three days ago I read an article that popped up on a social network with five tips on finding a great boss (the term “boss” is so dated to me, but I’m using it throughout as a catch all for manager/leader/etc). I’ve got a deadline in hours and awoke early this AM to get a jump start on it, but I’m taking a break to write a response to this article because I just can’t quit thinking about it.

One of the key insights in this article was to determine whether your prospective boss used the word during the interview “you” vs “we” when talking about challenges, tasks, and general work structure–and that this was a telltale sign as to whether they’ll be a great mentor or not. There were four other “tips” and while not totally meaningless, they really missed the entire point of seeking fundamentals in evaluating a great boss. Sure, if during the interview your prospective boss says things like “Your life is over once you work here–we will own you.” then the radar might go up a bit. Though if you’re going to go work for a start-up, this is probably true.

Like everyone, I’ve worked for some really great bosses and some really lousy ones. And I’ve done a lot of reading and observation in this area. For every person, finding a great boss means something a bit different, though I also know there are some underlying fundamentals to the best of the best. Before I dig in, my caveat–I don’t purport for a second that I’m a great boss, this is simply what I believe make up the characteristics of a great one.

Here are what I believe five great characteristics to seek out when trying to find a great boss:

1. Competency. Nothing is worse than working for people who are incompetent. It’s exhausting. Stifling. Discouraging. Working for someone who is exceptionally competent is the opposite. You’ll be inspired, you’ll learn through observation and experience, and you’ll constantly be stimulated. Chances are also higher that she will hire other competent people and you’ll be surrounded with talented people. Nothing is more fun than working with a talented team of people (but see item #5 below, too).

Find a boss who is really skilled with deep competencies. Some of this can be figured out in the interview. Some of this can be figured out when you talk with other employees of the prospective employer. If you ask your potential peers what makes so and so fantastic and they can’t easily rattle off a few areas of competencies where they’re really gifted, then run to the nearest door marked “Emergency Exit.” A lot of people think those signs are prominently marked in the event of a fire or evacuation. They’re not. Those are for you, the interviewing candidate, so you don’t get stuck in a daytime life you regret–even if temporary.

(note: please don’t actually ever do that during an interview, even if the thing bombs use it as a learning. And people interviewing have bad days too).

2. Energy and enthusiasm. Passionate people more often get stuff done. They make things happen, they’re motivated to excel, and they generally have a high achievement quotient–at least in the areas they’re passionate about. If they’re good leaders, this passion inspires and infects others. Find a boss who has an unyielding passion for the business and what they’re doing, and at the very least the people in the organization (item #3 below). This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bouncing off the walls during the interview–though I prefer to look for someone who seems as though they’ve had a few too many shots of espresso when they’re talking about what they do. Enthusiasm and vigor precedes success. Apathy precedes failure. 

Not always, but more often than not.

3. Passion for people. If you find a boss who genuinely has a passion for people and his team, chances are you’ve got a good shot at finding a mentor and at least a solid, if not great, leader. It’s not guaranteed, but this part is really pretty simple. Find a boss whose eyes light up when he’s talking about a project where one of his teams just killed it, a great boss will get a thrill out of seeing his people win. Find a boss who is ridiculously committed to seeing people win–this means they want their own boss, investors, owners, customers in addition to seeing their team win, and are willing to do what it takes to make that happen. Incidentally, if a great boss does all of those things, then it’s pretty obvious things will more often than not work out pretty well for the boss. I look back on my days when at a Fortune 500 company and people would coach on “here’s how you manage your career, here’s how you need to position yourself” (this type of conversation at any company–big or small, is often a sign of a deeper problem), when in retrospect I wish more conversations were dedicated to “here’s how to help your team win.”

4. People who love excellence. Sometimes also known as being demanding, or having high expectations. I have seen so many bosses in my career that constantly bullshit their employees about their performance, thinking that they’re being a good “mentor” and using lots of artificial “we” talk and shrouding false praise as a way of encouraging their team or making sure they’re motivated. When what they’re really doing is hurting them. When you don’t do great work you often know it. And when someone gives you praise for work you know that’s not great, you know that too. And you discount the praise as inauthentic, and it happens subconsciously even if you don’t realize it.

Doing exceptional work feels great. But it’s also not easy, and in the process of creating something brilliant I promise you’re going to get your ass kicked and discouraged along the way. Finding a boss who pushes you and has a high bar for excellence, yet who ALSO knows how to authentically encourage you along the way, isn’t easy. I’d always err on the side of finding a great coach who will push you–rather than someone who will simply pat you.

Here’s a parallel from another world. I like to Crossfit. The owner of the Box where I work out is also one of the coaches in my class. For the first 90-days, I felt like during every class he’d look at me with eyes squinted and a pained look on his face and say “Raz, do you know what you’re doing on this exercise?” and I’d respond “Well, yeah I think so. But maybe not.” And he’d look at my form again, and say “No. You don’t. Here’s what’s wrong, and here’s how to fix it.” Years of improper form are tough to break. But I’ll get to the point where I am good–someday great. But only with a great coach, and only if I listen and receive the feedback.

What’s the temptation to do in this scenario? The easy thing to do is say “Hey Raz, good job. Really nice effort, I can see you’re working hard…your form is fine.” In part that’s probably what happened to me over the years that developed my bad form. It’s not that I wanted to have bad form in doing a hang clean, it’s just that I didn’t really know any better–and all along I really thought I was doing it properly.

At times is it a little frustrating to be pushed so hard? Sure. But if I want to become excellent, then I need to be pushed. Not pandered.

5. Chemistry. This is SUCH a key element, and few people ever talk about it let alone use this as an evaluative tool. Chemistry is the magic, mojo, and feeling. You know it when you feel it. I’ve met some people in interviews who had a few of the above characteristics, yet the chemistry lacked. Maybe it was me. Maybe it was them. It was probably both of us, and there’s no fault in it. Chemistry can’t easily be explained. It just is. And while it doesn’t always happen on the first meeting, before you take a job you better have figured out whether you’ve got at least some good chemistry.

When you’ve got great chemistry with your boss and vice versa, you’re going to trust her, have more fun, be more open to feedback, and want to work harder. And the chemistry factors throughout the work place like competency does. In other words, in the world of competencies, A-players hire other A-players, and B-players hire C-players. And the same is true with chemistry, it’s part of what creates the culture of the organization from the very beginning.

The absence of chemistry among teams is like the absence of flavor in food. In great food, the kind that makes you close your eyes, the magic is in the flavor.

Everything else is just McDonalds.

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your physician. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all day. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

A Legend Lost

This weekend, as many of you know, a legend passed away.

His name was John Wooden, and while his amazing coaching skills that led to an incredible array of victories for UCLA, more than that he was an amazing human being that has transformed so many peoples lives. So, without any wordiness, I’ll let a few videos do the talking. Thanks, John. You were, and still remain, an inspiration and wealth of wisdom for so many.

And, the below video from TED (such a great resource for knowledge) is a gem. 17-minutes, well worth the time…

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all time. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless great for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Can You Be Coached?

Last night I had the opportunity to speak/facilitate a small group discussion around Coachability and Listening.

So the guys didn’t need to take notes, I promised I’d circulate the culmination of ideas and discussion points captured as we shared the dialogue. I thought it might be a good blog entry, so decided to simply publish my notes on this blog entry which is somewhat a “Part Two” to the Coachability posting that I wrote weeks back.

So here’s the outline, Coachability Part Two from the Men’s Small Group last night:

Coachability. Who cares, why’s it matter?

It’s upstream to all other wisdom, knowledge, and best practices. If we’re not coachable (learners, teachable, open, listeners, willing to change behavior and improve, etc) then we’re hugely rate limiting our potential–regardless our talent.

The resources used for the dialogue:

“They Call Me Coach” by John Wooden, book of Proverbs (whether you’re religious or not, this is a book filled with wisdom that people from all various faiths could appreciate–at least in part, if not whole), and a YouTube clip from Marshall Goldsmith–not exactly riveting, but it’s five minutes of a great premise and I think he’s right on:

So out of the dialogue, here were some of the best practices and ideas generated that I’m passing on. BTW, one of the key premises to the evening was that we’re not striving for anything profound, if that happened great. But the real objective were a few clear, simple, and actionable items that we could use starting today to take meaningful steps towards improvement:

1. Realize being “Coachable” isn’t innate in most of us. Most of us don’t even like receiving, let alone asking, for sincere coaching. And though you might have all the talent in the world, we won’t come close to fulfilling our potential without the key Coachability factor.  Realize you’ll resist, defend, brush off, or deflect feedback. It is in your nature to want to hear things that will stretch and sharpen you. For most of us. But it can become a part of you with time, patience, and practice.

2. Also realize, the more you ask, the easier it gets to hear the feedback and focus on your improvement areas (or, simply improving those things you’re already naturally talented in). Learn to love feedback. Takes training and discipline. At first it hurts. Then it hurts a bit less. Then a bit less. Then not much at all. Then you start to enjoy it (usually). Pretty soon, it becomes a natural habit that’s easy and conversational.

3. Coachability seems defined beyond just teachability, though synonymous to a degree the Coachability factor incorporates both the willingness to listen/learn as well as change and improve behavior.

4. Make it a point to ask people for feedback at least once a week. If you haven’t done it before, ever (and some in our group hadn’t), find someone you respect, pick something that you really want to get better at, and ask them candidly for a few things you’ve done well and a few things you can improve upon. And when you’re picking people, don’t just pick people who like you or you know will go easy. Get it from a variety of sources, your employees, customers, friends, mentors, kids, spouse (though I know for those of us married it seems like we probably get enough feedback as it is, that seemed to be the humorous consensus of the group yesterday 🙂 ).

5. Find a mentor, someone that can give you unvarnished feedback regularly and that will help you progress along your journey.

6. Speaking of unvarnished feedback, remember how hard it is for the giver to actually provide candid feedback. Either they might fear you, or they might fear a “retaliation”, or they might simply not want to hurt your feelings or get into what could be an awkward dialogue. Make sure you explain you want to improve, and help them peel back the onion. First pass and they might only be sharing with you superficial stuff. To get good feedback, again and again, you can’t retaliate. You can’t resent, you can’t become bitter, you can’t become defensive.

7. Focus on your non-verbal, be open and friendly/warm, calm, relaxed–not all tensed up, arms crossed, scowling and whatnot (which we’ve all done–or at least I have). And with your verbal, don’t get defensive, don’t be annoyed or frustrated

8. Don’t assume all feedback is right on. Try to reflect rather than respond. Sit on the feedback for a day or several days, and really try to assess whether it’s relevant to you. Don’t dismiss it because you don’t like it, dismiss it only if it really is inaccurate.

9. Let’s remember that you can’t please everybody (but don’t use this as an excuse either). Part of your vice is probably your virtue. For example, for me personally I know there are times when I’m too hard charging, or too demanding and have too high expectations. But that’s also part of what is my strength, so for me to eliminate it altogether would be neutering something that’s innately me–and a skill. For me to balance it and know when to emphasize and minimize is what’s important. So remember there’s an ebb and flow, and also that not everybody is right about the feedback you receive. You can’t make everybody happy, and you can’t be doing anything productive in life without some criticism.

10. When you get great feedback, focus on a few core things and them implement, practice, refine, and re-assess.

This is only a small smattering of what we came up with, but I wanted to try to limit it to ten key ideas or principles around the Coachability factor. If you have other ideas or suggestions, please share them as a comment below.

So to the guys that I got to hang with last night (Neal, Bob, Mark, Doug, David, Matther, Don, Chris, Dan, and Alfred) thanks for such a lively discussion and the great ideas you helped to generate on ways we can be more successful at one of the key characteristics most of us lack to varying degrees. Loved the time, the ideas, and inspiration I received from each of you.

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all when. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Goodbye, Univera

As many of you now know, yesterday with the internal team and today with the entire external field organization I announced publicly my resignation from Univera as the CEO of International. I’ll be wrapping up my time at Univera through the end of May.

I have nothing but the greatest things to say about my time at Univera. The people involved, and particularly each of the field leaders as well as some key people internally (special thanks to Regan, a great boss and friend, as well as my teammates, too many to mention), have been nothing short of exceptional to me–you’ve been true partners all along the way. I’m also grateful to Bill Lee, who has provided me such an incredible opportunity these past four years.

raz-reagan

It’s now been 4.5 years, and after several expanded roles at Univera, I can think of no other job in North America that could have stretched me as much as did these past experiences. From good times to exceptionally tough times, from long-term strategic planning to dealing with urgent “today” issues, from driving to objective decisions based on market data to those decisions related almost wholly to heart, emotion and subjectivity, there is no other job that I can think of which would have been as powerful an accelerator in my personal and professional life as this one. It’s been 15-years worth of experience in a little under five years of time. And while I have learned so much, at the same time, I feel like I’m just getting warmed up.

Which puts me at a place in my professional career where, for a variety of reasons, I have selected to take a different path and move onto the next thing professionally. The dream that has existed at Univera for each of you still remains; for me, however, for now my dream and destiny rests elsewhere (the details of which I’m keeping quiet about for now). While I’m very excited about my future, I’m also bittersweet for the reasons each of you know.

What’s next?

Rich RazgaitisAs some of you recall, at Convention two years ago when I spoke about our goals and dreams, I made a firm commitment to achieve four goals in my life and created a plan in order to achieve each one. Two have been accomplished (a certain business goal, and also my trip back to Kolkata, India), yet two still remain to be completed–and I’m stubbornly determined to accomplish them both, in addition to some new ones along the way.

The two goals? One is to complete a book I am supposed to write, and it needs to be done this year. The second is a physical health goal, specifically to get down to 15% bodyfat. So I’m still going to succeed at these, no matter how frustrated or off course I’ve been with them both (and as an aside, neither should you be frustrated by any delays in your goal setting/achievement…you can still accomplish them, stick with it, keep re-loading as needed…don’t quit, don’t quit!), and those are going to be a focus this year in addition to my new professional endeavors.

And, there’s more writing I’ll continue to do. It’s not for lack of content that I haven’t blogged for the past month, for a variety of reasons I just felt better to let it rest. But I’m going to continue blogging.

And my focus will largely continue to be about personal development–to try to write in an authentic way, without idle BS that so often peppers our talk that gets in the way of truth, and to try to continue to share stories of people who have done either the ordinary or extraordinary, or have learned lessons along the way.

Some of them are stories of the deepest magnitude, a hero who touched–and saved–so many lives, like that of Rick Rescorla during 9/11. Others have been fun filled gifts of laughter and play, like the Forever Wedding Dance couple who taught us a simple lesson about celebration and having fun. And then there are stories about the unbridled passion to make a difference in the lives of kids–like Geoffrey Canada with the Harlem Children’s Zone. None  of those are original content, simply the pulling of stories of others with a few pieces of commentary alongside.

And it will continue to be sprinkled with some personal stories and anecdotes–some involving my business endeavorsTwitter, Facebook, Blogging and others around personal experiences. So those things will continue, and I hope you’ll freely participate along the way. You can also follow me on Twitter (@richraz2) or on Facebook (“Rich Razgaitis”).

What I get absolutely fired up about is to see people pursue their passion, whatever and wherever that may be, so that each of us can find their destiny and achieve greatness (which, has nothing to do with title or money). These can mean radically different things for all of us. The key, though, for every one of us, is to find and pursue with unbridled passion those things for which you and I were intended.

That is when the magic happens.

It’s the reason that I love movies like Crazy Heart. Stories of redemption, personal calling, overcoming a struggle to achieve greatness. I read a great quote the other day: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” I love to connect with those who are fighting the hard battle–but also remain determined and destined to achieve greatness. At the same time, I would love to imprint upon others a distaste for apathy in a way that makes them sick. Yes, we should hate apathy (in most all cases) because it’s one of the greatest thieves from you pursuing your purpose. Being apathetic is giving up, it’s not caring. And once we’ve lost the heart and passion to care, well, I don’t know how to reignite that again–let alone help someone win.

So onwards with the stories of perseverance towards purpose.

Erica and the girls are both torn yet excited for our future. They, too, went “all in” with us on this Univera journey. I’m thankful for the sacrifices they’ve made to let me have the time and adventure with each of you. They’re ready for the next move, though, and are resilient and excited despite this being bittersweet.

I will miss each one of you. Tremendously. Together we have gone through it all, especially those of you who have been on this journey with me for years. It is, really, too difficult to put into words without sounding trite or filled with hyperbole. There’s a lot that’s happened. A lot we learned. And even more we gained.

So I’ll leave it at this: together we’ve been through it all, and I love you a lot. No matter what.

Thanks for a great journey.

Your friend,

Raz

fam-hawaii-black-beach2

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your physician. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all period. What is the most significant info you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good soundness, its doubtless significant for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

I Hate Museums

ceramics

Okay, that opening title is a bit dramatic.

First, as my wife reminds the kids–and me–we don’t HATE anything. 🙂

Second, even if I DID hate something, I don’t REALLY hate museums.

At least not all of them, just certain kinds.

But what was valuable is that I learned something this week about myself. And, Pascal would be so proud of me right now, because you know, the whole “to know oneself” line of thinking was so important to him.

And, really it is to us if we’re to find our purpose in life, to pursue it with a relentless passion, to be living in your destiny (or working towards it), you gotta know yourself. What you like. What you don’t. Where you’re good. Where you’re not. Why you’re doing what you are, and what you should quit doing as well.

This week I made a decision.

I’m not going to any more museums having to do with crafts, ceramics, or archeology. Period. At least not on my own accord.

I am sick of trying to find these things interesting, just because other people do or this is something culturally that is “smart” of me to do (and I am convinced that 50% of them are also faking it, like me, but just doing a better job). I really don’t care whether, Mr. Curator, there exist 2,000 little clay cups in your museum, that perhaps there was a ceremonial cleansing cup that forged together two Continents. In fact, it’s highly irrelevant to me whether they came from Costco twenty minutes ago or a big dig that resulted in a revelation dating back tens of thousands of years. And finally, Mr. Curator, if you give me one of those defibrillator-looking digital “walkman” player to hang from my neck, that is probably riddled with head lice from the 10,000 other people who have worn it proceeding me, it still doesn’t make me more interested. In fact, I think it hurts the cause. Because now I feel obligated to hear the five minute history lesson about the clay pot that I already had seen too much of when I walked briskly by.

I’m just…not…interested.

And, this week, officially I decided, that I will quit trying to be interested. Here’s the point of the story:

We’ve got to find the undercurrent of what gets your hot buttons. Too many of us go through life trying to do what we’re supposed to do because someone else thinks we should do it because someone told them it’s important. And, really, maybe it doesn’t mean snap to you or me.

Now, before someone thinks this is a good excuse to exercise out of discipline, learning, developing a well rounded personality, and on don’t misunderstand. I love space and science museums, I’m fascinated by some art museums. I love reading. I love language and culture and discussing deep subjects with people. I have even been known to love Readers Digest (big print version only, it just seems more appropos). No, my kids won’t get out that easy either. We will still continue family field trips, they will still learn about things they might not care much about, I will also force them someday soon to have Wall Street Journal article reviews on Friday nights as I had growing up. But I have decided, at least for me, at the magical age of 36, it is okay to decide to quit pretending or to try to force yourself to like something you really don’t and never did.

So this week, that’s what I learned about myself.

Which, upon reflection, is both silly and profound to me. Silly, because it’s simple and somewhat the humorous example (part of it has to do w/ the fact that I didn’t last 15-minutes in a museum that was to take me 3-hours one evening to fully explore). Profound for me, though, because it made me really consider that we can spend our lives trying to do things that we don’t love, or weren’t meant to do, and we’re living in our own personal prisons that have been created by perception of what’s important or intellectually trying to chase the proverbial Joneses (whose ubiquitous family, I would challenge, to a Raz Family Wall Street Journal Review contest any day of the week).

Today my message is as simple as an “I hate museums” shout-out to all those across the World (please, once again, no flaming emails; I’m not using the expression in a pejorative way, rather I’m stating it in this kind of wittingly clever sarcastic manner–and in no way do I intend to discriminate or discourage those who love museums of crafts and artifacts, let’s just not sit together at the next dinner party) to discard the pursuits that aren’t of interest to you, that suck energy out of your life without providing a tangible and disciplined return to you in some way, and to bypass the things that’s keeping you from unlocking the excitement and energy that rests within you to pursue something with rigor and passion that either serves you, serves someone else, or serves your purpose.

It doesn’t mean that we should love everything that we do, a good part of finding your purpose and passion involves the discipline of education, investment, time, energy, exercise, whatever. Just make sure there’s a reason for doing it, other than because someone else thinks you should.

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all period. What is the most significant info you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless great for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Coachability

coachability

Here’s a short entry that, I believe, is a key success factor in life…Maybe one of the success factors for YOUR life. And this will also help me break my complete absence of blog posts in the last ten days.

I also read the leadership books, magazines, listen to the stories and the speakers, and blah blah blah.

But there’s one critical ingredient that’s a huge success factor for your life and mine, that’s rarely (relatively speaking) acknowledged or addressed:

Coachability.

There are tons and tons of “best practices” that list everything imaginable: right seats on the bus, empower people, principle-centered leadership, sharpen your saw, words that work, servant leadership, and more blah blah (blah blah blah only in the most respectful of ways, I’m just trying to prove my point). And yet, the absolute irony is that none of this makes any (I so want to use a strong word here, but I resist) snaps worth of difference if you’re (me included) unwilling to be coachable (this has got to be a worlds record for parenthetical statements for two sentences).

Coachability is listening, understanding, accepting, hearing the feedback, acknowledging reality, not glazing over stuff, confronting the truth and receiving it–both “it” being the fun stuff and the not so fun stuff–so that you can make genuine and authentic improvements in your life.

The best people in leadership and management, that I’ve read and followed or seen and experienced, are the ones that have this underlying characteristic: they’re coachable.

Being uncoachable is like needing to buy a car that will be the catalyst for you to get to all sorts of places really important.

And amidst this, you’re going to be driving other passengers so you want to be in something comfortable, plus you also have a need to get there fast. And safely. Reliably too. So you’ve found your wheels, the car is decked out, it’s fast and comfortable. You’ve spent all this time and money and effort picking out the perfect car. And your first day you’re in the drivers seat, ready to roll. You pull out of the driveway and passively cruising, something is wrong but you can’t tell what it is, noises are coming out of the vehicle, it feels sluggish, there’s an acrid smell like something is burning. And it’s because you left the emergency brake on.

Being UNcoachable is like having the perfect set of wheels, but your e-brake is always on. It slows you down. It burns things up. And in the process you look silly.

This is how, unfortunately, a lot of us go through life. With our e-brake on, being uncoachable. Slowing things down, other people and ourselves.

So here it is, my number one success tip for leadership development: be coachable.

Because downstream none of the other stuff matters much, even if you read and can recite at rote all the common best practices, if you and I aren’t coachable.

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doc. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all period. What is the most significant data you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good soundness, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Authenticity…From a Friend

authenticity

Here’s another one that I didn’t intent to post, but it was simply on my heart tonight. So here it is, full of imperfections, my vlog on “Authenticity…From a Friend.”

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your physician. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all time. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless significant for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Patrick Henry Hughes

Patrick Henry Hughes

A friend passed this onto me today, thanks Jan, and it’s such “postable” blog material I had to put it up right away but not without a few comments first.

It starts a little slow and just keeps morphing into this amazing story of a determined spirit to succeed, find a passion and commit to it, and make the most of life as well as hand we’re dealt.

In six minutes I was humbled and inspired. And humbled again.

As I heard the Dad tell his story, and the sacrifices he made to help the dreams of his son, it really made me ask myself a question. If put into that same situation as a Dad, would I have the discipline, humility, and determination to do what he has done? I would hope so, but I am just not sure–he is an amazing man.

And, of course, Patrick Henry Hughes is a pretty exceptional young man himself. All these big muckety muck’s (corporate guys, consultants, speakers, trainers; nothing wrong with them either apart from being overrated) work for years on end to try to deliver profound wisdom and in this little vignette rests a story and lesson I’ll remember for the rest of my life from two “normal” guys in Kentucky.

Patrick, you really are The Man. Pretty sweet stuff you’re made of–same with your Dad.

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your physician. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all time. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless great for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Checking in on You…And Me.

energie-check-up-ii

Here it is…my update so far. How’s your progress coming along?

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all day. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good soundness, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Happy New Year! Now, Let’s Just DO IT!

Happy New Year

I used to scoff a bit at the New Year’s resolutions. But no more…

Everybody needs a “restart.” It’s one of the things that made high school or college so great; every year, or ever Semester, you got a do-over. But once you get into working adulthood, the do-overs are a LOT less frequent, and while they can be invigorating they usually are a bit more dramatic (new job, moving, so on). So the very thing that’s great about sleep–the separation of days which results in the proverbial “it’s a new day” sentiments in the morning, is what’s even greater about the New Year on a more broadscale spectrum.

But, you contest, “most New Year resolutions are out the window within weeks or months!”

To which I reply, “so what!”

We will not achieve if we do not try. And our success takes daily work and discipline, but also a day of commitment–otherwise the subsequent days won’t just magically follow. And sometimes, just sometimes, that newfound commitment requires a “new day.” Not always, but it sure can be helpful. So, I’ve come to really appreciate the little gifts we’re given, like a new day, a new week, a new year, and in this case as well a new decade.

So here it is…A few of my commitments that I’m making for the year.

1. Get it shape. Really get in shape. For 16 months I have had this goal of working towards 15% bodyfat (or less) while also exercising and eating well. I’ve ebbed and flowed on this one. And patellar tendonitis this past fall kept me from running my marathons and I fell off my eating wagon. Well, no mas! Erica and I have committed to really make health a priority this year. With my work hours, sometimes relentless travel, as well as natural cravings (I just love food–it’s that simple) I struggle with this one. But enough of the excuses. You’re all busy too. So, we’re getting in shape. We’re changing how we eat. We’re cleaning out the cupboards of junk. And we’re going to fight as best we can the constant deluge of our sugar-crazed society. How are we doing it? South Beach Diet and a rigorous exercise program for 90-days to kick start us, followed by a moderate and sustainable program. And I’m committing to run one marathon this year, barring any more tendonitis. Which isn’t going to happen! Done.

2. Personal development. I used to sell Cutco knives. And I did pretty well. But apart from all the money I made, what I really earned was the benefit of hours and hours and hours of personal development. It was part of my daily personal life as well as our weekly sales meetings, sometimes I taught them and sometimes I listened. But I always learned something–and it’s a behavior that is easy to let fall by the wayside. This next year I’m not going to let myself work on personal development “when it’s convenient”, but instead I’m going to work on it in a consistent and disciplined way. How am I going to do this? Using Success Magazine and it’s website, Philosophers Notes, TED, among other resources–including a little bit of work on developing some Spanish speaking skills.

3. Philanthropy. Last January I spent a few weeks abroad doing work, which probably in my mind receives the least amount of attention for meaningful contributions this past year (I tend to think of my success based on the metrics and results, which is important but can also be misleading) yet in actuality it was probably some of the best work that I did this past year. This coming year, I want to and should do more. And it doesn’t need to involve traveling anywhere, I can do it right in my local community. I volunteer with the Hands On Children’s Museum in Olympia, where I want to spend more time. Also to help better promote and raise contributions for the great Univera Serve First program that helps provide nourishment to children everywhere. But there’s much more I’d like to contribute beyond this–financially and with my time.

There’s more, of course. I’m going to spend more time with the family. Be a better Dad. Develop more spiritually. Turn the phone off more. Improve my professional skills. Grow our business faster…

We all have our things we want to do. I believe one of the keys to keep committing, not give up, re-commit and re-commit, discipline, fail and get back up, and on and on. That’s part of the fun of a New Year. A redo, of sorts. And chance to make a (re)new commitment. I’m sure there will be some stumbles as I work towards my goals, and yours as well. But if we keep on pressing we will be far better off, than if we allowed ourselves the passivity and doubt that lies hiding in wait in our minds and bodies at times.

Happy New Year. Let’s make it a great start to an outstanding year!

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all date. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good soundness, its doubtless great for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Happy Thanksgiving, from the Raz Family

Happy Thanksgiving
Dear Friends and Family,

Here’s our annual family Thanksgiving video, I hope each of you are having a fantastic day.

Happy Thanksgiving, from the Raz Family!

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your physician. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all day. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good soundness, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Leadership Lesson from WHO?

leadership-from-a-symphony-conductor

A symphony. Specifically a conductor of a symphony.

I didn’t think it’d pique my interest, but two minutes turned into five into ten turned into the 23 minute lesson which I’ve thought about quite a few times this evening.

It’s a great lesson. Entertaining. Thought provoking. Educational. Inspirational. Convicting. I think in each of us there are these various styles of leadership that rest within, but for some certain styles are more natural. This was such a unique glance at leadership, and it underscores to me the importance of the principle taught within the mini-lecture, but also how critical leadership is in every environment.

23 minutes. Yeah, it’s a long video for the Web. But, really, it’s a fantastic leadership lesson, and one I never thought I’d hear from a conductor of a symphony. Enjoy.

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Keep on Keepin’ On–From Jerry.

Football and Perseverance

I’m in a blogging rut. Big time. It’s been like two postings in about three weeks. Writing this is an important part of my life, for reasons I don’t fully understand. Successful writing requires consistency. And, right now, my consistency sucks (learned that word reading a Harvard Biz School publication).

It’s not that I don’t have things I’d like to write about.

Topics abound, including…The great experience of Royce making my day by selecting a certain jersey number…A wonderful lesson in leadership that I learned from a cab driver…Another testimonial to tenacity and hard work from a guy who just opened a restaurant…Some observations about motive and parenting–as well as first impressions–I personally experienced while volunteering for the Children’s Museum recently…Even a personal letdown about a goal I had for October (running) that got derailed due to an injury.

So the problem isn’t lack of topics. Yeah, time is an issue. But I choose to make the time for things that are important to me. So, all of us always feel like time as an issue–but if you REALLY want to do something, you’ll find the time to make it happen. Everyone is tight on time.

It’s this motivation issue that I am certain is the key to so many peoples successes and others “failures” (who am I to call someone’s life or shortcoming a failure, apart from my own?). It’s not even that it’s THAT difficult (most things in life aren’t), it’s just that it’s hard to keep going sometimes. It’s easier to diagnose this problem on a smaller scale, like blogging, than something much more substantial.

Yet, I think the drivers and attributes are largely the same for success large and small. For the most part, how someone does everything is how they do anything.

It’s easy to do something when you’re motivated. But even when you have the drive, invariably there comes a period of apathy. Even AFTER you have selected something you’re passionate about.

That period is the magic maker for all of us.

The problem for most of us, is that there are sufficient times we’re not motivated to keep on keepin’ on. It’s why I’m so impressed with people who accomplish successful levels of leadership or difficult activities, such as leadership positions in Direct Selling Companies, or Exec’s in certain companies, marathon or triathlon runners, people who have lost a lot of weight, and on and on. It’s not so much the accomplishment that’s so impressive, it’s the hours and hours and hours of preparation, training, commitment, discipline, and getting after it–especially when you don’t feel like it–that I find so impressive. It’s unusual that people can achieve these things without finding some motivation, sometimes within but often through others. And as I write, one name keeps coming to mind about a man who had such an impact on me years ago.

Jerry Helvey.

He worked at Anderson Unviersity when I played football there. I’m not even sure what he did officially. He seemed to do a little bit of everything–coaching, equipment, field maintenance, teaching.

Unofficially, however, I remember exactly what he did: He kept us going.

Encouraged us. Pushed and carried us. Moved us forward. Sometimes using humor, sometimes sincerity, and sometimes toughness. But he always did the same thing. He kept us moving on towards the goal. Take the next step, take the next step, take the next step.

I wish there were a little secret to success that made it all easy; certainly, there are so many things that involve personal development that can make you a better person, more effective, more efficient. And no question there are better ways to get things done, or some things that are innately impossible that hard work won’t simply solve. But with most goals and objectives you’ll never go against “the law of the farm”, which basically resonates with the reality that hard work and moving forward is the magic maker to the harvest.

I’m sitting here in Seattle working on the laptop at Stumptown and all around me I see people facing choices, and it’s those choices and activities that will help determine their destiny. Particularly during the down periods.

And as I write here, 2,000 miles from my alma mater, and 15-years later, I can still hear his booming voice as he would run through our team while we warmed up during football season, his bellowing voice would call out as if he were saying it to just me “Keep on keepin’ on men. Keep on keepin’ on.”

And, I think I’ll do just that.

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Just Do It…And Do It Again, And Do It…

Art Williams, Direct Selling, and Leadership

Art Williams is fairly legendary in the Direct Selling industry; he’s a strong leader, a normal “everyday guy” (who also happens to be #843 on Forbes list of “world’s billionaires”!) and delivered a really strong message twenty years back that still makes its rounds on YouTube.

I know not everybody is going to agree with everything that he says in here, or enjoy the way in which he says it; however, there are also some timeless and universal principles in this message as it relates to leadership–and everyday life.

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