December 23, 2014

16 Differences Between Successful and Unsuccessful People (according to Andy Bailey)

A quick, but important list, derived from a fun postcard infographic.

Successful people:
  1. Embrace, not fear, change.
  2. Want others to succeed, not secretly hope they fail.
  3. Exude joy, not anger.
  4. Accept responsibility for their failures instead of blaming others.
  5. Talk about ideas, not people.
  6. Share, not horde, information.
  7. Give others credit for their victories, vs. taking all the credit.
  8. Set goals instead of blowing them off.
  9. Keep a journal instead of just talking about keeping one.
  10. Read, not watch TV, every day.
  11. Operate from a transformational vs. transactional position.
  12. Continuously learn, vs. fly by the seat of their pants.
  13. Compliment others instead of criticizing them.
  14. Forgive, vs. hold grudges.
  15. Keep a "to-be" list instead of not knowing what to be.
  16. Have gratitude instead of not appreciating others.

December 16, 2014

"How to Develop Self-Confidence and Influence People by Public Speaking" by Dale Carnegie

Easily one of the best instructional books I've read in a while is "How to Develop Self-Confidence and Influence People by Public Speaking" by Dale Carnegie. It is full of anecdotes, pointers, tips, and tricks all designed to help you speak well and engage your audience - small or large. I personally found it to be a valuable resource for those times I have to get up and give presentations.

Here is my PDF summary of the main points. At 5 pages, it is my largest such summary; but that is because it was a long book with good information!

December 9, 2014

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of man and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."
- Mark Twain

"One who has no originality of expression will exhibit little originality of thought."
- Unknown

December 2, 2014

The Best Way to Introduce Yourself by Jeff Haden

Another gem from Jeff Haden! Original article here.

How do you introduce yourself? When you feel particularly insecure do you prop up your courage with your introduction? Do you make sure to include titles or accomplishments or "facts" even when you don't need to? If so, your introduction is all about you, not your audience. Instead:

  • Embrace "Less is More" - Brief introductions are the best. Provide minimal info so conversation won't be forced.
  • Be Appropriate - Keep your introduction in context with the setting. If there is no context, just say hello.
  • Go Understated - Unless you are in a business setting, your job title is irrelevant.
  • Focus on Others - As questions. Listen. The best connections come from listening, not speaking.

November 18, 2014

"Time decides who you meet in life, your heart decides who you want in life, and your behavior decides who stays in your life."
- Unknown

November 11, 2014

The Secret of Finding Your Passion

I love those little articles that present some level of insight into how one can better go about his day, or better pursue his career; this one was actually quite decent and really resonated with me: "The Secret of Finding Your Passion" by Marie Forleo. Below I summarize the article, but you can read the entire thing here.

No matter how hard you try, you cannot figure out your passion by thinking about it. You need to take action and feel your way to your truth, from the inside out.

To find passion, proactively bring passion to everything you touch, to everything you do. No matter the task, bring as much enthusiasm and energy as you possibly can. When you do this, you'll ignite ideas and creative insights far beyond thinking alone.

Four Steps to Find Your Passion
  1. Love Everything You Do.
    If you don't like something, either stop doing it (quit, delegate, outsource, etc.) or love it with all your heart.
  2. Look For Patterns.
    What subjects do you gravitate towards? What threads have been recurring in your life? What do your books / CDs / DVDs / bank statements say?
  3. What Do You Like To Talk / Learn / Teach Others About?
  4. Quit Talking And Start Doing.
    Begin taking consistent, passion-based action each day. Try writing, making music or videos, or taking a class.

November 4, 2014

24 Logical Fallacies

A while back I ran across an extremely informative poster called, "Thou Shalt Not Commit Logical Fallacies" from a site called The site is interactive, but you are also free to download the poster for your own use.

Everyone should be aware of common logical fallacies, if only to catch themselves when they inevitably make one (which we all do, time from time). If you are a debater or one who loves to argue points, familiarizing yourself with such fallacies as these will allow you to more easily counter when one is presented.

Click for downloadable high-res image.

October 28, 2014

"Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right."

October 21, 2014

Becoming a Critic of Your Thinking by Dr. Linda Elder & Dr. Richard Paul

A nice article, posted at the Critical Thinking Society, gives hints on how to examine your thinking critically. Here is my summary:

Poor thinking inevitably causes problems, wastes time and energy, and engenders frustration and pain.

Critical thinking is the disciplined art of ensuring that you use the best thinking you are capable of in any set of circumstances. To maximize the quality of your thinking, you must learn how to become an effective critic of your thinking. Consider the following ideas which, when applied, result in a mind practicing skilled thinking:
  1. Clarify your Thinking - Be on the lookout for vague, fuzzy, formless, blurred thinking. Try to figure out the real meaning of what people are saying. Explain your understanding of an issue to someone else to help clarify it in your own mind.
  2. Stick to the Point - Be on the lookout for fragmented thinking, thinking that leaps about with no logical connections. Don't allow your mind to wander to unrelated matters. Don't allow others to stray from the main issue.
  3. Question Questions - Be on the lookout for questions. Listen to how people question, when they question, and why they fail to question. Look closely at the questions asked. Routinely ask questions in order to deal with the world around you. Question the status quo.
  4. Be Reasonable - Be on the lookout for reasonable and unreasonable behaviors. Listen to what people say and look closely at what they do. Notice when you are unwilling to listen to other's views, when you simply see yourself as right and them as wrong. Identify times when people use language that makes them appear reasonable, though their behavior proves otherwise.
One of the hallmarks of a critical thinker is the disposition to change one's mind when given good reason to change. Good thinkers can be moved by reason- they want to change their thinking when they discover better thinking.

October 14, 2014

"I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions."

"Either you run the day, or the day runs you."

October 7, 2014

Thinking in New Boxes by Alan Iny

Here I quickly summarize a great little 5-point strategy for solving any issue, as presented by Alan Iny in his book, "Thinking in New Boxes: A New Paradigm for Business Creativity":
  1. Doubt Everything. Question all aspects of the problem.
  2. Research. Gather any relevant data and use it to refine the problem.
  3. Generate Ideas. Spend a day doing exercises such as imagining joint ventures and coming up with specific words to describe your company. Use those new perspectives to brainstorm for solutions.
  4. Introduce Reality. Take the best solutions and apply constraints. Choose the best idea.
  5. Implement, and Re-evaluate Relentlessly. Ideas are time-stamped. Foster and environment of healthy doubt. Return to Step 1 as needed.

September 30, 2014

The Incredible Power of Not Taking Credit

Most of us like to receive credit for what we do. It can be a huge motivational factor, and it makes us feel good to be recognized - especially if we've put in the time and effort. But sometimes it can really be to your own advantage to let someone else score points. Bruce Kasanoff makes this point well in his article, "The Incredible Power of Not Taking Credit."

Nothing limits your ability to achieve great things more than your desire to take credit for what you have achieved.
-Bruce Kasanoff

Because compensation and promotion revolves around getting credit, many employees spend more time worrying about who will get the credit, than they do about results. You can accomplish much more if you don't worry about who gets the credit. It's easy to nudge people in certain direction if your goal is not to get credit, but to affect change.

Some ways to nudge:
  1. Set fires under people. Get them excited about their job, a project, etc. Don't push your plan; pick an idea that seems disconnected from you.
  2. Demonstrate by doing.
  3. Take genuine joy in the success of others.
  4. Allow time for things to happen. Be persistent, but patient.

September 23, 2014

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life."

"Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it."

September 16, 2014

Fleisch-Kinkaid and Readability Ease

One of the more interesting things I've picked up over the last year is the formulas used to score readability of writing. The Fleisch-Kinkaid Reading Age (FKRA) scale is used to determine what age group your work is best suited for, and the Readability Ease (RE) scale is used to determine how easy or confusing the work is.

Both scales use at least a paragraph (the more the better) of text, and two values must be calculated:
  • ASL: This is the Average Sentence Length. In order to calculate this, you count the number of sentences in your paragraph(s). Then you count the number of words in the paragraph(s). Finally, you divide the number of words by the number of sentences.
  • ASW: This is the Average Syllables per Word. This number is derived by dividing the number of syllables in your paragraph(s) by the number of words.
The FKRA scale formula is:
FKRA = .39ASL + 11.8ASW - 15.59
This will give you the grade level (1-12 primary and secondary school, and then 14-21 for college). If you add 5 years to this number, you will get the age level.

The RE scale formula is:
RE = 206.835 - 1.015ASL - 84.6ASW
This will return a score of 0-100, where 0 is very confusing and 100 is very easy.

I will illustrate with two examples. First a selection from the currently popular (though I'm not sure why) "50 Shades of Gray"by E.L. James:
His office is way too big for just one man. In front of the floor-to-ceiling windows, there's a huge modern dark-wood desk that six people could comfortably eat around. It matches the coffee table by the couch. Everything else is white -- ceiling, floors, and walls except, on the wall by the door, where a mosaic of small paintings hang, thirty-six of them arranged in a square. They are exquisite -- a series of mundane, forgotten objects painted in such precise detail they look like photographs. Displayed together, they are breathtaking.
There are 6 sentences, 92 words, 122 syllables. That means an ASL of 15.3 and an ASW of 1.3. Our FKRA is therefore 5.717, or almost a 6th-grade reading level (10- to 11-year-olds). The RE is 81.325, or a fairly easy read. In other words, for the target audience (adults), this book is quite juvenile in its writing style. Let's compare that to a paragraph from "The Element" by Ken Robinson:
From that moment of epiphany, Ewa knew that she wanted to dedicate her life to billiards. Fortunately, her parents supported her, allowing her to spend six to ten hours a day playing at a local poolroom, doing her homework in between shots. "People there knew I was serious about the game, so they left me alone. But we also had a lot of fun there. If you find a place where everybody else likes the same thing that you do, it really becomes fun. So these odd characters -- because we all had billiards together -- we became like a family."
Here there are also 6 sentences, with 101 words and 144 syllables; giving an ASL of 16.9 and an ASW of 1.4. That gives an FKRA of 7.5 (half-way through 7th grade, or 12-year-olds). The RE is 71.241, or a decent level of ease. This paragraph is just slightly lower on scale for the adults it is targeted to.

There are sites, of course, which will calculate all of these values for you, such as But it is always handy to know this information for yourself!

September 9, 2014

6 Secrets to Influencing People

As I progress down the path of leadership, I find that it is important to learn how to promote myself and get across my ideas in a way that others can easily understand and relate to. A true leader knows not only how to lead, but how to influence. So naturally when I came across John C. Maxwell's "How to Influence People" my interest was piqued. Here is a summary of the six secrets:

Success depends on influence; everyone influences someone else.
  1. Integrity - You cannot influence others if they don't trust you. Make truth, reliability, honesty, and confidentiality the building blocks of your life.
  2. Trust - Gaining influence over others begins with trusting them. Demonstrate that you believe in them; build them up.
  3. Listen - When you listen to others, you demonstrate respect for them and you can influence them to be on your team and on your side.
    You can make more friends in two weeks by becoming a listener than you can in two years trying to get other people interested in you. (Dale Carnegie)
    People who do all the talking without listening are too self-focused to build strong relationships. They make the all-too-common mistake of thinking that, by talking more and listening less, they will impress others as being smart, witty, or entertaining. As a result, they find it difficult to develop significant influence.
  4. Understand - When you try to understand people, you will be much more able to communicate with them and influence them positively. Self-centeredness causes misunderstandings; avoid such problems by recognizing the worth and value of those around you.
  5. Mentor - Invest in people. Be selective about who you decide to mentor: choose those who share your philosophy.
  6. Empower - When you empower others, you transform them into something special.

September 2, 2014

"Don't judge someone just because they sin differently than you."
- Unknown

"Two things to remember in life: take care of your thoughts when you are alone, and take care of your words when you are with people."
- Unknown

August 26, 2014

29 Ways to Stay Creative

A while back, posted a nice little poster titled "29 Ways to Stay Creative". Recreating the poster in my notebook would require an artistic skill that I currently do not possess, however I did write the ideas down, and here I present them (though you may visit the above link and print the poster if you like). I consistently do about 18 of these. How many do you do?
  1. Make lists
  2. Carry a notebook everywhere
  3. Try freewriting
  4. Get away from the computer
  5. Quit beating yourself up
  6. Take breaks
  7. Sing in the shower
  8. Drink coffee
  9. Listen to new music
  10. Be open
  11. Surround yourself with creative people
  12. Get feedback
  13. Collaborate
  14. Don't give up
  15. Practice
  16. All yourself to make mistakes
  17. Go somewhere new
  18. Count your blessings
  19. Get lots of rest
  20. Take risks
  21. Break the rules
  22. Don't force it
  23. Read a page of the dictionary
  24. Create a framework
  25. Stop trying to be someone else's perfect
  26. Got an idea? Write it down
  27. Clean your workplace
  28. Have fun
  29. Finish something

August 19, 2014

"Whatever you hold in your mind on a consistent basis is exactly what you will experience in your life."

"Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habit.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny."
- Unknown

August 12, 2014

Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

A very fantastic TED talk was presented by Amy Cuddy, entitled "Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are" - it is available on YouTube here. At just over 20 minutes, it is well worth the time spent watching. I present a small summary of the main points:
  • Individuals will rush to conclusions about you on the basis of your body language
  • Your non-verbal behavior doesn't just affect others' perceptions of you; it also influences how you perceive yourself
    - When you feel confident, you naturally expand your body
    - When you feel insecure and powerless, you slump
  • By mimicking a powerful stance, you can alter your hormone levels and feel more powerful
  • By continually slumping, you will begin to be insecure and powerless
This summary pales by comparison to the information available in the actual TED talk.

August 5, 2014

"If you do it for love, the money comes anyway."
- Richard St. John

"If you have passion, it spreads like fricken wildfire."

July 29, 2014

Dealing With Difficult People by Ross McCammon

I read a little article in a magazine (I don't remember which) in December 2013, called "Deal With People You Just Can't Stand" by Ross McCammon. Although I cannot find the little article any longer, here is a longer version (complete with video). I present here a condensed version of the little article.

Don't act annoyed at the jerk. In business, restraint is the only means of disarming him. Follow these steps to disrupt the jerk and re-calibrate the situation in your favor:
  1. Shut Up - Don't respond, use the ten-second rule.
  2. Think - Try to contemplate what is causing the jerk to behave this way.
  3. Stare - Just stare at him blankly for a moment.
  4. Look Bewildered - Look at him like you've just seen a dancing dog dressed in a sailor's suit.
  5. Say "Huh." - Nothing more; no smile, no frown. Look nonplussed, like you are contemplating where the dog got that suit. And simply say, "huh."

July 22, 2014

"Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder."

July 15, 2014

10 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Incredibly Happy

This is a great top-ten list from my online guru, Jeff Haden over at Inc. Read it and be happy!!
  1. Exercise - even if it's just for a few minutes a day
  2. Sleep More - you'll be less sensitive to negative emotions
  3. Spend More Time with Friends and Family - social time is highly valuable for improving happiness, even for introverts
  4. Get Outside More - 20 minutes in good weather; 57°F is scientifically the most ideal temperature
  5. Help Others - 100 hours per year is the magic number
  6. Practice Smiling - practice "real smiles" where you use your eye sockets, and back it up with positive thoughts
  7. Plan a Trip - even if you don't take one, the act of planning can itself improve happiness
  8. Meditate - rewire your brain for happiness
  9. Move Closer to Work - a long commute, two times per day, five days per week can be stressful
  10. Practice Gratitude - be grateful, and try to share three good things that happened every day with a friend or partner

July 8, 2014

"Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less."

July 1, 2014

"No one likes a complainer. Ever"
- Anonymous

"People aren't against you; they are for themselves."
- Anonymous

"The more you love your decisions, the less you need others to love them."
- Anonymous

June 26, 2014

4 Tips for Improving Your Productivity

Irony strikes yet again as I am two days late in posting this, simply because I was overwhelmed, distracted, and not as productive as I could have been. Perhaps this post would have been on time, had I read it before I began the task which caused its delay!

The following four tips come from Jeff Haden's "The 8-Hour Workday Doesn't Really Work":
  1. Manually increase the relevance of a task - overriding your attention system, setting deadlines, and rewarding yourself significantly improves task completion.
  2. Split your day into 90-minute intervals with 15-30 minute breaks - don't focus on 6, 8, 10 hours, instead focus on the tasks.
  3. Plan out your rest periods so you actually rest - plan to nap, walk, snack, whatever. Just don't wing it.
  4. Allow ZERO notifications - having no alerts on you phone or computer allows you to keep focus.

June 17, 2014

The #1 Tip for Asking Better Questions

Cut them off at the question mark. Ask "What are you doing for the holidays?" and stop. Do not continue talking, offering an array of different choices. Don't ramble. Just ask, and then shut up.

From "This Post Will Make You A More Effective Communicator In 90 Seconds"

June 10, 2014

"Top 10 Countdown to Having a New You by Friday" by Kevin Leman

One of the most influential books I've read to date is "Have a New You by Friday" by Kevin Leman. I plan on doing a full summary, but the amount of good information is so immense it will take a while to compile. In the mean time, I offer his summary, this Top 10 Countdown, from the book:
  1. Pinpoint the area(s) you want to change about yourself.
  2. Decide that you're not just going to try to become a "new you" this time. You are going to do it.
  3. Identify your personality and all its strengths and weaknesses (the 4 humors).
  4. Identify your birth order and all its strengths and weaknesses (The Birth Order book).
  5. Identify your three earliest memories and evaluate what they say about you and your private logic.
  6. Identify the lies you tell yourself - and refuse to believe them.
  7. Identify your primary love language - and those of your friends and family members.
  8. Decide how you need to act differently in your relationships - and then do it.
  9. Decide how you need to act differently in your work - and then do it.
  10. Give yourself a break. Everyone messes up sometimes. Each day's a new day.

June 4, 2014

From "How to Write More Successful Blog Posts"

The irony of today's post is twofold: Firstly, in order to have a successful blog, one must post on a schedule. Regrettably I have ruined that schedule by failing to post yesterday!

The second irony is that, while the points outlined by Dave Kerpen's article, "How to Write More Successful Blog Posts," are very important, I fail to follow them most of the time.

So here is a list of things I should be doing:
  1. Write an amazing headline
    • It's the only thing a potential reader sees
    • It is the catalyst for sharing
  2. Pictures are worth a thousand words
    • We are drawn to images; using them throughout your post will drive readers through to the "share" buttons!
  3. Bullet points are extremely useful
    • They attract the reader's attention
    • They make data simple and easy to understand
  4. Make your audience look good when they share
    • Will they look smarter, funnier, etc., to their network?
  5. Ask for engagement in your conclusion
    • Ask them to share, comment, etc.

May 27, 2014

Some Definitions (part 3)

Every now and again I run across some concepts of which I do not want to forget. They may be simple or elaborate. At any rate, I include them so that I have some reference; given the state of my memory I think this may be a good thing!

The Hard-Easy Effect: A bias that occurs when, based on a specific level of difficulty on a given task, subjective judgments do not accurately reflect the true difficulty of the task. Subjects tend to be over-confident in the face of hard tasks and under-confident in the face of easy ones.

The Agentic State Theory: The essence of obedience consists in the fact that a person comes to view themselves as the instrument for carrying out another person's wishes, and they therefore no longer see themselves as responsible for their own actions.

May 20, 2014

8 Powerful Ways to Improve Your Body Language

It's time again for another Jeff Haden post! One would start to think I'm in love; in fact I think that he is a most capable blogger. In his article, 8 Powerful Ways to Improve Your Body Language, we learn a little bit about how to feel (and project) more confidence, how to be engaging in conversation and presentation, and how to look dynamic overall when you speak:
  1. Prep with a power pose
    • Spend two minutes standing tall, holding your arms out or towards the sky, or like Superman with your hands on your hips.
    • Do this alone, it will dramatically increase confidence.
  2. Dial up your energy level
    • Display more enthusiasm and passion than you normally would.
  3. When the going gets tough, start smiling
    • Negative facial expressions signal the brain that something is difficult, which will cause the brain to raise stress levels.
    • Forcing a smile keeps the stress down.
    • People subconsciously mirror; if you smile or frown, so will they.
  4. Play supermodel to reduce conflict
    • Shift so that you are standing at a slight angle, like supermodels do - you will come across less confrontational.
    • Standing side-by-side signals collaboration, face-to-face signals confrontation.
  5. Don't gesture about your shoulders
    • Just don't.
  6. Talk more with your hands
    • Using the right hand gestures at the right time can punctuate, keep you confident, and help you think more clearly.
  7. Use props to engage
    • The more that people move and open up their bodies, the more engaged they feel.
    • Resistant poses (arms crossed, rigid, etc.) are naturally more defensive. Pull your audience out of such poses by getting something into their hands (a business card, glass of water, etc.) or just shake hands.
  8. Think before you speak
    • If you have to look away to think, do it before you answer, not while you or the other person is talking.

May 13, 2014

What Creativity Requires

Extrapolated from Tara Hunt's article, "How to be Creative", are the following three simple, yet important, ideas - What Creativity Requires:
  1. Surrounding yourself with inspiration, stories, and ideas which are outside the "narrow" topic.
  2. Space to breath and grow, because you'll go down a million paths to nowhere.
  3. A purpose - a direction or point of view.

May 6, 2014

Some Definitions (part 2)

Every now and again I run across some concepts of which I do not want to forget. They may be simple or elaborate. At any rate, I include them so that I have some reference; given the state of my memory I think this may be a good thing!

The Law of Small Numbers: People tend to generalize from small amounts of data. Nielsen is guilty of this, and so that is why a lot of good television shows are canceled.

The Illusion of Validity: Consistent evidence persistently leads to confident predictions, even after the predictive value of the evidence has been discredited. A good example of this is picking lottery numbers based upon numbers that appear to come up often.

The Law of Closure: Objects which are grouped together are seen as a whole; gaps tend to be ignored, the mind filling in the missing information. Here is a great video to illustrate. Just watch it first, don't read anything about it, or it will ruin the point.

April 29, 2014

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do

A great little article by Amy Morin, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do. Here are the 13 things (sans summaries):
  1. They don't waste time feeling sorry for themselves.
  2. They don't give away their power.
  3. They don't shy away from change.
  4. They don't waste energy on things they can't control.
  5. They don't worry about pleasing everyone.
  6. They don't fear taking calculated risks.
  7. They don't dwell on the past.
  8. They don't make the same mistakes over and over.
  9. They don't resent other people's success.
  10. They don't give up after the first failure.
  11. They don't fear time alone.
  12. They don't feel the world owes them anything.
  13. They don't expect immediate results.
A year ago, I would have said I failed at at least 9 of these; today perhaps only 3! How many do you need to work on?

April 22, 2014

"Everything takes more time than you thought, everything costs more money than you thought, and almost everything turns out not quite as cool as you thought."

April 14, 2014

What is Thought Leadership?

On occasion I will ignore my usual Bennysian cheapness and actually spend a few extra dollars on a magazine or newspaper. I don't know why - most of the articles are available online for free anyway. Guess I just like to once in a while remember what it was like before e-readers, the internet, and computers.

This time it was an issue of Forbes, and one article in particular really caught my attention: "What is Thought Leadership? 5 Steps to Get It Right" by Michael Brenner. It is a great article, I recommend reading it! Here is my summary, if you haven't got the time:


What is Thought Leadership? 5 Steps to Get It Right by Michael Brenner
  • Thought Leadership: Becoming an authority on relevant topics by delivering the answers to the biggest questions on the minds of your target audience.
  • It allows your audience to get to know you, and can be used for branding by determining the category of your solutions.
  • It can include your unique perspective, but its agenda must be set by your audience.
How to Create Thought Leadership:
  1. Identify, then prioritize all your audience's questions.
  2. Answer those question across multiple formats and channels.
  3. Give to get - Don't put up hurdles to your content.
  4. Make it interesting, educational, and entertaining.
  5. Invite your audience to participate.

April 9, 2014

The Best Way to Be More Confident

As soon as I saw this article's headline I just knew I had to read it. And of course, it doesn't hurt that it's written by my (unbeknownst to him) digital mentor, Jeff Haden. I am always interested in little tips and tricks about how to boost my confidence! So here they are:
  • Lack of confidence is not the problem - it is the means to a solution.
  • Hide from your weaknesses and you will always be weak. Accept them and work to improve and you will become stronger and more confident.
  • Improvement breeds confidence. Success breeds confidence. Competence breeds confidence.
  • Success in one pursuit yields greater confidence in other areas of life.
  • Confidence comes as a result of reaching a goal (success), so therefore pick a goal and get to work.
  • Celebrate small successes. Analyze and improve upon weaknesses. Keep going!

March 31, 2014

The Generous Skeptic

Seth Godin. This man is a genius who spits out pure gold. I love reading his blog when I get a chance because almost everything he writes gives a little bit of insight, or a little tip, or makes one really stop and think. His November 11, 2013 post (The Generous Skeptic) really struck a chord with me. Here is a quick summary.

There are two types of skeptics:
  1. Those who are afraid, who embrace the status quo; they may be well-intentioned by try to persuade you to give up on your dream. Ignore them.
  2. Those who have insight into your field, your strengths and weaknesses; who want you to succeed but maybe see something you don't. This is a generous skeptic. Embrace them. Don't argue with them or shut down. Encourage them and listen.

March 25, 2014

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell

A very interesting, easy read is The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell. Over the course of this great little book, many stories and concepts are relayed. There is a lot to be learned from the different laws he presents, and so I've condensed it down into yet another of my (hopefully) handy little summaries.

If you have time to read the book, I seriously suggest it. If not, you can certainly glean some great lessons from my...
Click here for the book on Amazon.

March 18, 2014

Some Definitions (part 1)

Every now and again I run across some concepts of which I do not want to forget. They may be simple or elaborate. At any rate, I include them so that I have some reference; given the state of my memory I think this may be a good thing!

Pareto Principle (aka "The 80/20 Rule"): Roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

Asch Paradigm (aka "The Theory of Conformism"): One in ten will tend to fall in line with groupthink, even when one knows it is incorrect.

March 10, 2014

Forget Customer Delight - Focus on Customer Relief

It's time again for another post condensed from this one by Jeff Haden, my online mentor (though he doesn't know it).

"Forget Customer Delight..." is a great article because its principles, although primarily for customer relations, can also be applied to everyday negotiations with friends, family, coworkers, etc. Many know how to assist people, but they don't know how to offer help and solutions. These three items are a good start to not only providing help and solutions, but to elevating your status in other people's eyes!


Just because you can't do exactly what a customer wants doesn't mean you can't do something.
  1. Don't be so fast with a "No".
    - Avoid immediately showing what is not available.
    - As questions to find alternatives.
  2. Don't try to explain your way out of a high-effort situation.
    - Try to spend time and energy finding solutions instead of finding explanations.
  3. Don't take the customer's request quite so literally.
    - Understanding the full context may show that the customer's need is actually something else.

March 4, 2014

"What is a storm to an ant, is a watering can to a gardener."
 - Me

"The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who's going to stop me?"

February 26, 2014

The Twelve Common Archetypes

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I like to dabble in psychology and sociology. As such, I like anything that helps me break down the human psyche to better understand who I am dealing with. Knowing how the brain works is a valuable tool when dealing with people: from an individual all the way up to large groups. I believe anyone aspiring to lead would find useful the following summary on the Twelve Common Archetypes.

Click on this image to view the PDF Summary.

February 18, 2014

Csikszentmihály's Flow Model

Mihaly Csikszentmihály (pronounced me-hi cheek-sent-me-hi-ee) - the brilliant man with the name like someone was banging on a keyboard, who developed what is called the Flow Model: 

FLOW is when we lose ourselves, move forward on instinct, and are completely devoted to the task before us. You are so engaged, you lose track of time and become immersed. You feel energized and possibly even joyful about what you are doing.

The graphic consists of 8 emotional states we're likely to experience when trying to complete a task, depending on the Perceived Skill Level (or how well we think we can do it) and the Challenge Level (or how difficult it actually is to accomplish).

If we view our skills or ability to complete the task as low, or not adequate enough, Apathy, Worry, and Anxiety result as the task becomes more challenging. If we view our skills as mediocre - in between low and high - then Boredom or Arousal (this means engaged with stimuli - get your mind out of the gutter!) will result.

But if we view our abilities as high, or very positively, then easy challenges result in Relaxation, medium challenges we feel in Control of.

To find our balance and perform at our best, we need a challenge which is significant and interesting, and we need well-developed skills. This puts us into a position where we can "Flow". Those who have mastered Flow often make what they are doing look easy and they are totally engaged in it.

February 10, 2014

The Seven Habits of Hightly Effective People

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey is, to be honest, a dreadfully long book which covers only a few points. Granted, the points are extremely important!

I here summarize the points - they make an excellent "jump-off" point for personal development and changing your mindset.

Certain basic principles and values make people more effective
▪ Fairness
▪ Integrity
▪ Equity
▪ Caring
▪ Human dignity and worth
▪ A spirit of service
▪ Excellence
▪ Courage
▪ Patience
▪ Honesty
▪ Nurturance
▪ Encouragement
▪ Can-do attitude that recognizes potential

The Seven Habits
  1. Be Proactive: Do not impose limits on yourself that prevent you from acting
  2. Begin with the End in Mind: Draft a personal mission statement that outlines your goals and describes who you want to be
  3. Put First Things First: To change who you are, change how you act; don’t confuse the important with the urgent
  4. Think “Win-Win”: Two wins make everyone better off
  5. Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood: Always understand what the other party needs / wants and why
  6. Synergize: Listen, reflect, respond, cooperate
  7. Sharpen the Saw: Take the time to care for your body, soul, mind, and heart

February 5, 2014

Holstee Manifesto

When I first read this, I fell in instant love with it. I printed it out and it now hangs at my desk - a continual reminder about how I should live my life.

The story behind the Holstee Manifesto is short and quite interesting. Holstee, a start-up founded in Brooklyn in 2009, sat down (as many companies do) and formed a quick manifesto - a mission statement, if you will - about what they stood for. They put it on their site and then forgot that it even existed (like so many companies also do). Visitors to the site found it. It struck a chord. It became posted all over social media as other people encountered it and resonated with it.

And then one day Holstee woke up and found that their greatest product wasn't the apparel they were selling, but the idea that their manifesto encapsulated. And so they began selling it and using it and enterprising upon it and now it is their greatest selling product.

Read it for yourself and discover why:
(click the photo for a .PDF copy)

February 4, 2014

January 30, 2014

Main points of "The Innovator's DNA"

I don't normally consider myself to be an innovator, that usually takes a special kind of energy that I just can't always tap into. I do have my moments, brief and sporadic, of brilliance - and I owe much of that to what I learned reading The Innovator's DNA by Jeff Dyer, Hall Gregersen, and Clayton Christensen.

January 27, 2014

January 21, 2014

Attitude is the Difference Maker!

Your Attitude:
- Cannot substitute for competence
- Cannot substitute for experience
- Cannot substitute for personal growth
- Cannot change the facts
- Will not automatically stay good
+ Makes a difference in your approach to life
+ Makes a difference in your relationships
+ Makes a difference in how you face challenges

January 13, 2014

Ten Choices You Will Regret in Ten Years

Regrets are, for the most part, unavoidable. We all make choices that we will later regret. Here are Ten Choices which you will regret Ten Years down the road, if you don't avoid them:
  1. Wearing a mask to impress others.
  2. Letting someone else create your dreams for you.
  3. Keeping negative company.
  4. Being selfish and egotistical.
  5. Avoiding change and growth.
  6. Giving up when the going gets tough.
  7. Trying to micro-manage every little thing.
  8. Settling for less than you deserve.
  9. Endlessly waiting for tomorrow.
  10. Being lazy and wishy-washy.

January 6, 2014

Be On-Guard with Your Thinking

Be on-guard with your thinking:
  • Your thoughts determine your character.
  • Be careful of your thoughts - they may break into words at any time.
  • Don't waste your thoughts on those who do not hunger for them.
  • The first person you lead is you, and the first organ you master is your mind.
  • Discipline your thoughts to remain steadfast in what you know is right.