Riding Emotions and Two Years of Reflection

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It is the perfect time of year to pause, look back, and be thankful.

[To my son, may this give you some guidance 20+ years from now]

The last two years is a very significant timeframe for me and my family.

Just over two years ago (Dec. 16, 2014) I left my job. It was a really good job, with great pay, and I had terrific team members. But, it was a job, and I wanted more. I needed more.

Here is the Ledbury shirt I wore the day I resigned. You see, I remember crazy things like that. This shirt will make an appearance again later (cliff hanger). img_2909

Pause.

I took three weeks and five days off.

At this moment in time, no one (NO ONE) knows what the future will hold. I know I didn’t.

The only guarantees you have are your talents, and the story you’re telling yourself about what you believe. Consequently, these are also the only two things that matter in any venture.

Your Talents + Your Story

Looking back two years later here’s what happened (Reader’s Digest Version).

To start, I was scared. Was I making the right decision? I learned its ok to be scared. It means you have something to not only to lose, but to gain. Sometimes what people are most afraid of, is understanding how good something different truly can be. Understand the downside, and decide, but move —-> forward.

I was excited. If you know me well, I can get excited easily. Excitement and anxiety are nearly the same feelings, but the latter wears the cloak of fear. Both look toward the future and the future = uncertainty. How good could this really be? What I learned was, it was (and always is)…up to me. Make it great for you, and those around you!

The key to any journey is STARTING. Take the first step. As Steve Jobs says in his Stanford commencement address, “the dots will connect later.” You can’t possibly know how, but know life has a way of connecting down the road and awarding the daring.

Back to the story.

Our business grew. We grew as a direct result of many team members committed to answering the question, “How do we get better” every single day. No days off in this pursuit.

How do we get better, today?

We grew as a team and we had individual team members making massive strides in their personal growth. This is probably the most rewarding part of looking back over the last two years. Not numbers, or financials, but real changes in behavior. Numbers come and go. We’ve all seen it.  Behavior is power and can be counted on.

As we continued to grow, we took on new challenges. Most importantly, what does the future hold for our blossoming team?

In rolls 2016.

I had the unique opportunity to become a minority partner in the business as we jumped head first into 2016. An opportunity I’m thankful I had the audacity to ask for, and more thankful to my partners for their openness to engage one another.

Remember son, nothing is given. It must be earned.

This last year (2016) was followed up by even more tremendous growth by our team and individuals. If any of you are reading this, know that I am so very proud of you all. I know I’ve probably said it from time to time, but sometimes it’s more rewarding to read it. Job well done! But don’t stop now. Your sails are up, capture the tailwinds.

We reached an inflection point in our business.

Decision time.

Just recently, our business was acquired and we will be joining a new team in 2017. A future I’m tremendously excited for and an acquisition we’re proud of.

Looking back at the growth of the business in the last 12 years, I’m so very happy for my partners and their families. They started it. I simply tried to add fuel to the fire the last two years.

You see, its fun to look at now, but no one wants to think about or experience the pain, anxiety, travel, loss, and hardship in those early years. Those guys lived it and we’re all better off for it. Thank you!

Cheers gents! I hope it never gets old celebrating what you built.

Back to the shirt as I alluded to earlier in the post.

The day we signed off on all the paperwork, guess what I wore?  If you’re wondering…who thinks about what to wear for something like this? I do damnit!
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You guessed it. The Ledbury shirt I wore almost exactly two years prior when I resigned. It carried tremendous significance.

I promise you, no one knew but me, but boy did I ever know where that shirt had been two years ago. Two powerful (life changing) decisions were made wearing that shirt. I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of it…No matter what!

After all that. You’d think I’d be over the moon excited. Right!?!

But here’s the funny thing.

Immediately I was sad.

That night we went out and had a few beers, shared stories, laughs, and even a few tears.

That night when I got home, I couldn’t sleep.

With my wife and son fast asleep, I went down to the basement and was sad like a person is the day of graduation. So much time, energy, and short history wrapped up…just like that. You don’t cry at graduation because you’re afraid of going to college or fear of going out on your own. You do so to be thankful.

I barely slept that night. What can I tell you?  I’m human with ALL the human emotions.

It took me a couple days to let everything sink in.

It took me a couple days to think about my wife and family that supported the decision the day it was made over two years ago. She knew it was going to work far before I EVER DID!

It took me a couple days to think about all the support I’ve received to make such a big dream happen (to all my close friends who believed in me).

This isn’t a post telling you to quit your job today. Use your head and do some thinking first. It’s also not about taking all the chances, but at some point you MUST TAKE A CHANCE. Why not?

More than anything this is a dump of thankfulness from my heart, and a nudge in the direction of listening to your gut.

Lastly, its a big thank you to anyone who’s ever read (you right now), liked, or shared a post. I started this journey a couple yeas ago with the idea that maybe (just maybe) I had a few unique ideas to share and that the most important thing I could ever achieve would be to help someone else achieve their goals, their mission, their dreams.

I don’t know if I’m helping to change the world, but I’ve helped a few people think a little differently.

I’ve helped a few people start meditating and they’re telling me it is bettering their life.

I’ve helped a few people get a raise or a new job.

I’ve been able to help friends as they take on new and bigger opportunities. If nothing else, I just listen.

I’ve helped nudge a few more to follow their dreams.

Thank you all for taking time to personally tell me I had anything to do with any of it. You did it yourself. Maybe you just didn’t see it right away.

From the bottom of my heart.

Merry Christmas,

Happy New Years and cheers to what the future has in store!

Inevitability of Success

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It isn’t a could be.

It can’t be a maybe.

It must be, inevitable.

Watching a YouTube video on Shark Tanker, Chris Sacca (Forbes Profile), he mentions one of the most important elements he sees when investing in companies is, the founder (which shouldn’t shock anyone). He’s betting on the jockey as much as he is the horse or even the race altogether.

So what makes one jockey stand out from another?

The inevitability of success.

The most profound topic of the interview is inevitability. When a founder or partner talks about the future in terms of when, not if, you can feel it. It’s going to happen, and its not like the “it’s gonna happen” for the Cubs the last 108 years. Inevitable in the very near future.

The most interesting part to me was when he was talking about the “pitch” or the salesmanship of the founder.  It was smooth because the belief runs deep. He’s not hopelessly pitching with passion to make a quick buck and device a customer.

This is it. Take it or leave it. I believe the comment from Chris’ interview is, “its going to be more expensive down the road…should you choose to wait!”

Confident.

When I was 22 I set some goals for myself entering my first real gig. I thought they were big goals, but, I KNEW I was going to hit them…and I did.

A couple years back I made a career change that I HAD TO make in order to reach a few of my big dreams. It wasn’t a matter of “if” it was the right decision, it had to be. The bet was on myself. If you can’t bet on yourself, who will you choose to wager on?

I can write today confidently stating, mission accomplished.

Not conceit. Not cocky (although I can get here from time to time).

Inevitable.

ACTION ITEM: Winning frequently takes confidence and certainty. You have to see your future and destination as inevitable. From there, deconstruct backwards what it will take to get you there.  As Tony Dungy says, “No excuses, no explanations!”

What You Can Learn Talking To Yourself (Out Loud)

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Internal Dialogue.

When’s the last time you had a really great conversation, with yourself?

Every one of us has one going 24/7.

  • Today is going to be a great day.  Good breakfast and I’m pumped up to do big things.
  • I think I did really great in that presentation and I love our solution. I feel great about the rest of the day.
  • Dressed for success and a good hair day…BIG things happening.
  • Why was that guy such a d*ck on the phone? Opportunity DEAD.
  • Should I buy that stock today, or wait? Probably wait…remember the last time you waited. Dummy!
  • Why isn’t this deal going the way I want. I deserve more. Do I though? Nothings really changed. Maybe I’m the reason…
  • I haven’t heard from Joe. I wonder if he’s happy? You know what, he’s probably looking for another job. I don’t want him to leave (FYI – Joe is fictional in this scenario if you’re all wondering)
  • I wonder if I’m being aggressive enough in pursuit of my dreams. But I don’t want to be greedy. But, action always beats inaction.
  • Eewwwww…feel that? Is that indigestion or something else. Oh, its probably bad. Damnit, I don’t want to be sick and have my stomach bother me NOW. What if something bad happens to me?
  • I need to be in better shape like right now (200 pushups and 500 sit ups ensue)
  • Who can I help today? Somebody has to need something out there.
  • Should I go to the World Series?
  • I need to get this post up on my blog about self talk

HERE WE ARE!

The more I consume via books, podcasts, and videos, the more I’m completely vested in the idea our thoughts control our outcomes. But you must be saying, how do I learn to control my thoughts?

Sometimes all it takes is saying something out loud to see it more clearly.  Good or bad. Clarity is needed.

Our thoughts do a very funny thing the moment they meet oxygen. The second self talk comes through your brain, travels out your mouth and mixes with oxygen, it turns from something extremely complex, to a simplified thought. It also becomes real. Your thought strides confidently  without the cloak of hundreds of feelings and “what-if” scenarios attached.

I’ve literally struggled with a problem for what seemed like weeks, but when I decided to talk to myself the solution became evident and laughable.

Obvious would be a good way to put it.

There it is. The thought. Naked and out in the open as the day we were all born. See your thought for exactly what it is, but don’t see it for more, or ever worse than it is.  Now make a decision about how to handle it.

Internal dialogue that stays internal will run the gamut of your brain’s capabilities. That same brain and human body are designed to find problems. It’s 2,000+ years of hard wiring unwilling to change.  So why fight it?

Talk to yourself out loud.

If you think you’ll look weird, you will if you’re doing it in the middle of the mall, rocking on a bench with your hands over your face.

Don’t do that.

Instead do it in your car. Do it while you’re on a run, or mowing the lawn. Find somewhere private or some alone time to talk to yourself. You’ll feel better and the future will be more clear.

ACTION ITEM: Talk about your fears, your anxieties, your goals and your dreams. Let the air hit them and hear your thoughts out loud. Make it a habit to talk to yourself more often!

Bonus – After I finished this post, I was doing some image searching and stumbled across a few reads I thought you might find interesting related to this topic.

  1. http://spiritualityhealth.com/articles/9-surprising-benefits-talking-yourself
  2. http://www.today.com/health/talk-yourself-out-loud-here-s-why-experts-say-s-t76531
  3. http://elitedaily.com/life/culture/people-talk-to-themselves/1105688/

 

The Most Under Asked Question in a Data Driven Society

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How do you Feel?

Take a step back from reading this for just a moment and reflect back on your day.

How many decisions do you think you made?

Fifty?  More like 100+?

When it came down to making those decisions, did you have ALL the data, or is there a chance you made the decision based on feelings?

Don’t EVER forget about feelings and the power they have in our outcomes.

Mind you, I’m not advocating data not be used.  By all means, it should be used 100% of the time where it is available. Surround yourself with people who can paint the most accurate picture of what the data says. But when you have nothing left to support your decision making, NEVER forget about feelings.

Data supports. Feelings enforce and most importantly provide CONTEXT.

Most of us work with human beings every day.  We talk, we listen (hopefully), we educate, we sell to human beings.  Incase you haven’t engaged with a human being lately…we’re really complex creatures.

Complex = Lots & LOTS of feelings.  

Finding out how a person feels about something is vitally important in understanding who they are and what they’re looking for.  This can’t and won’t ever be solved via data.

I’m making the argument for more qualitative engagement and not solely relying on quantitative.

At our core, human beings search for connection, and that connection includes the sharing of feelings.  Not only the data set of being 25-34, with a son, a wife, business, and a mortgage.  Data.

Let me tell you how I feel to get the real story between the lines of data.

ACTION ITEM: I think this is the most under utilized question in business.

How do you feel?

Monday Doesn’t Matter

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Here’s the thing. It’s Monday.

Are you dreading Monday?

Most successful people I know, or follow, LOOK FORWARD to Monday. They embrace it like the hug of a loved one.

If you work every week of your life dreading Monday, and celebrating wildly on every Friday, I’m going to guess you’re not hitting your BIG targets.

Let me tell you why Monday doesn’t matter in your mental makeup.

Why Monday Doesn’t Matter:

  1. The swings are too large. The depression of Monday and the elation of Friday set the mind on a rollercoaster ride. Too high. Too Low. Balance and momentum are somewhere in the middle.
  2. To achieve success (whatever that may be to you), a weekly (and inevitable) Monday can’t set you off your track. Your goals are too big to get kicked in the face weekly for a “Case of The Mondays” uh-oh-sounds
  3. What does Monday really matter? What does it really matter? There are seven days in a week. I’m not recommending you work every single one of them, but I do think you can work on yourself every day of the week. Leaving Monday out of the mix is like only operating at 85% of optimal capacity.
  4. Think of the upper hand you’d have over all the “Monday Haters” if you showed up ready to kick Monday’s ass on a weekly basis instead of simply fighting and holding on so that Tuesday may inevitably show up.

You have five really solid days a week to make progress. Not Monday to throw away, and Friday to breeze into a weekend. Make the most of it and I PROMISE you’ll see the change.

ACTION ITEM: Take Sunday night and write down FIVE BIG things you want to accomplish the following week. If nothing else got done, you could live with these five wins. It can’t take more than 10 minutes. Spend your Monday making moves on the five things you wrote down.  Watch what happens.

Luck, Impatience, and Inching Along

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1 in 292 Million

These are roughly the odds of winning the powerball jackpot. Pretty poor odds if you ask me.

Why then, are so many people playing the lottery and trying to get lucky?

Because there is that ONE chance.

The hope in the “jackpot” can be felt. It’s immense. Its a real thing…real that in all likelihood will NEVER happen. But it could change our life tomorrow.  Tomorrow!

Impatience = searching for luck

Luck is a funny word. You work hard for years on a dream and when it happens you’re considered “lucky” because to all those who weren’t watching the entire time…it just happened ~ stupid people.

The fact of the matter is, the hard work was done achieving minuscule win after win, 10 or 15 years ago. However, when the trigger event happens, its then called luck.

Here’s what luck really looks like.
Patience.

Daily focus on a realized goal.

Every day working to literally inch forward, always progressing. Some days will progress more than others, but over time, tremendous momentum will be generated.

I’ve said to almost every team I’ve ever worked with, “how do we get a little better TODAY?” Same question the next day, and the next, and the next. Every day working on fine tuning the product. Never perfect, but always progressing.

Looking back on our team the past couple of years, collectively we’ve done some really amazing things. Together. Every day, by inching along. Reflecting back on two years of focused labor and momentum paints a much different picture that’s tough to see on a daily basis.

A beautiful picture of patience and persistence.

ACTION ITEM: Stop trying to hit a grand slam home run, with no one on base because you’re trying to get lucky and you’ve become impatient.

Exercise patience and maintain focus.
Inch Along with powerful momentum.

Go Get It. 

What if We Lived in a Trailer?

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I asked this question to my wife a few months back.

What if we lived in a trailer?
Imagine the look on her face…

Odd question I know, and in no means do I mean to offend anyone. It’s just that…I’ve never lived in a trailer. That said, I can promise you one thing, I’m not afraid of it either.

There comes a point when you have to realize something.

What are you afraid to lose?

I came to the following conclusion. If I have my wife, and my son, we’ll figure it out from there. What else is there to really worry about?

  • House?
  • Car?
  • Vacations?
  • Clothing?
  • Stuff?

I won’t lie one bit. I like to have nice things as much as the next guy, but reading stoic philosophy led me to a better understanding of how to see things for what they really are and nothing more. As Ryan Holiday puts it in his book The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph

Filet Mignon – Aged animal carcass
Great Wine – Old grapes
A beautiful car – transportation

If you’re worried about what your “friends” will think, I’ll give you the obvious answer.

They’re probably not really your friends. Move on.

By all means have fun. Experience all life has to offer and don’t feel one bit of guilt. But don’t get over committed to an empty and endless pursuit of more.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to take a chance or two along the way. The fear of losing your expensive car lease needs to be reevaluated.

This feeling of freedom will provide you all the energy and clear vision you need to achieve your goals.

ACTION ITEM: It’s ok to be afraid, but don’t be afraid of losing the wrong stuff.

Speed and Patience

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It is life’s constant dichotomy. The tortoise and the hare.

Hurry up.
S l o w  d o w n.

I think back to being 10 years old, longing to be a teenager. To be 16 and experience the freedom of driving and all things that came with it.

I think back to high school, looking forward to college and living what I’d been told would be the “time of your life,” only to have it rush by in the blink of an eye.

I think back to very early in my career. “Zac the Kid,” as one peer used to call me. I didn’t want to be the sharpe “young” guy anymore. I wanted a seat at the big boy table where the deals were done. I needed to be older, and having the face of a 16 year old wasn’t helping. Now my early twenties feels like so much more than a decade ago.

I think about my wife and I trying to get pregnant. No answer could come fast enough…but this isn’t something you can hurry. Here I am writing this just after celebrating my son’s second birthday and I can’t help but scream SLOW DOWN!!! 

But life doesn’t slow down. Oddly enough, we can’t speed it up either…no matter how hard we try. It only is, what is directly in front of us.

The best advice is only to embrace. Grab hold of the here and now and squeeze it tight for all you’ve got. Soon enough the moment will end, and you’ll be on to the next thing.

Personally, I’ll tell you very candidly I struggle with this. I get so focused on achieving and winning I forget to see what is right in front of me. That said, I’m working on it.

ACTION ITEM: I’m TRYING to be more present in the here and now. Join me.

 

Dying to be Impressed

Dying to be Impressed

World Class.

That’s exactly how I’d describe my recent dinner at O Ya (a new sushi place in New York City) a couple weeks ago. One of the only dinners I can recently remember that left me feeling utterly impressed and entirely exhausted.

I was exhausted because every round of the 18 course meal was its own little tasting universe. A two hour adventure for my tastebuds filled with unique flavors, textures, cool chills and slow mouth-watering burns artfully crafted for the eye and stomach. It was the most mentally exhausted I’ve ever been after a meal…and boy was I impressed. I won’t ever forget this meal or the service.

Oh and by the way, it wasn’t cheap…but entirely worth it. I bet there are at least 100 restaurants in the Flatiron district of Manhattan within two blocks of O Ya where we could’ve gotten stuffed. It wasn’t about money and I hope to do it again for the same expensive price. By the way, If you love the Sush (my short for sushi) check out the gallery and try not drooling on your keyboard.

Back to the experience. This is exactly what happens when you impress your audience. Your value goes up. You control more of the “ask” in the relationship.

People, clients, your boss, your closest friends. They’re all dying to be impressed.

Maybe a restaurant isn’t enough and you’d like a more real world example of someone (much more important than me)…dying to be impressed.

Enter Kevin Durant.

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The twenty seven year old NBA Superstar and mega free agent. Teams throughout the league came to his calling for services that would almost certainly cost them more than $30 million a year. The ironic thing about this story in my mind is everyone thought he’d stay in OKC (Oklahoma City). Every talk radio show and press I read had him staying put. EVERYONE. Apparently, everyone I just mentioned included OKC, their ownership, executives, coaches and team, because why on earth would Kevin leave a team one game (arguably one shot) away from beating the Golden State Warriors and heading to the NBA Finals?

He wasn’t impressed.

Who did impress him? The team that sent him packing in 2016. The team with the NBA record 73 regular season wins and already has three all-star level talents. They were dying to impress KD…and they did!

They went to so many lengths as to have four of their key players, their nucleus, show up arm-in-arm to meet with KD in the Hamptons (across the country from the “Golden State” of California) on New York’s coast. The logo (Jerry West) was also there from the GS Warriors management to help cement the deal.

They sold (and impressed the hell out of) Kevin Durant. He’s now a Golden State Warrior.

Thunder fans burned his jersey, the rest of the league cries foul, and a “super team” is formed yet again.  Whose fault is that? I blame Golden State for taking it upon themselves to leave no doubt. The rest of the teams came in second. Also interesting to note, it had nothing to do with money. He was going to get paid everywhere.

Just when you think you’ve got it whipped. Give the extra hour. Never forget the proverbial “icing on the cake” for every time you’re faced with an opportunity. The world is bombarded with mediocre pitches all day every day. Be great.  Take a risk and impress the hell out of someone.

Kevin Durant was the ultimate “buyer” in this high stakes buy-sell relationship. But all that said, I don’t care if you’re selling a car, a suit, a house, an architecture plan, an idea, or yourself.

Remember, the person on the other end is dying to be impressed.

Will you?

 

Unreasonable. My New Favorite Word

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Please say the following out loud, “Stop being unreasonable!”

What do you think of?

  • The jerk in the store?
  • Frustrated patron at a restaurant?
  • Parents expectations?
  • The price of an item that feels exaggerated?
  • Unfair terms in an agreement
  • Demanding boss

Does it feel sort of odd “Unreasonable” is my new favorite word with all the negativity?

Let me take you back to when I decided to get UNREASONABLE.

The moment of decision was a couple years ago. It was in this moment when it dawned on me.  The unreasonable end up getting more of what they want. Period. More time, money, freedom, flexibility, fringe benefits, you name it. The challenge for me (and I believe for most) is I wasn’t being specific enough on exactly what I wanted. I was being too reasonable in my pursuit.

That’s when I made my list. This list is saved on my computer, phone, and began hand-written in my notebook. The lists states I will be unreasonable in the pursuit of…

What does it say?  What does it say?

The list speaks very specifically to the future as if the event or pursuit already happen.  But first and more importantly, let me tell you what my list doesn’t include (and never will):

  1. I’d like to…
  2. Wouldn’t it be nice if…
  3. Someday I’ll…

Speaking in the tones mentioned above leaves the door open to the event not happening. They are far too conditional to make an all or nothing wager against. Words and phrases of this nature end in feelings of regret and being unfulfilled.

Time to get UNREASONABLE!

If you’d like me to divulge my list specifically, I won’t as it is too personal (and my wife doesn’t like sharing those things). However, ask me about it some time personally and I’ll give you some insight. What I can tell you right now is what the list contains.  My unreasonable lifestyle includes the following.  It contains words phrases like: I will, …

  1. Where will I work?  This is about not being tied to an office or desk.  Freedom & Flexibility.
  2. How will I work?  I won’t “work” or trade time for money.
  3. What am I worth or my time worth?
  4. Where exactly will my family live?
  5. What do we value most?
  6. How will we invest as a family for the future?
  7. Where do we choose to spend our time?

ACTION ITEM: Being unreasonable is an enormously positive thing when done the right way. When your reason or commitment is iron clad, when a decision is made, there are few things that will ever get in your way. Get specific and get unreasonable in your pursuit.