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.

 

 

Find Your Confidence Triggers

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If you’ve ever done any reading on the topic of triggers or behavior, you’ll note that most often times the word “trigger” is linked directly to negative thoughts or actions.  Negative triggers may cause a person to:

  • Light up a cigarette
  • Grab an alcoholic drink
  • Cause panic or fear
  • Lose our temper
  • Devour an entire tub of ice cream

Whether you know it or won’t admit it, we all have negative triggers in our lives and we live them out daily.  I had many triggers (built up over time) that caused my brain to want chewing tobacco. I’m not proud of it, but I broke them down and got rid of them.

But what about the other side of the trigger?

The positivity triggers that put you at your highest level of confidence? Tony Robbins calls this level of confidence being in a “peak state”. Your peak state is the place where all is right, you’re in a flow, confidence is high, and you’re in full-on CRUSH MODE.

Why do you want to get here?

The answer should be obvious.  It’s where you are at your best.  You’re the most intelligent, the funniest, the most witty, the sharpest, the most confident, and the best version of you is on FULL display.  Arthur Ashe described it best and most simply.

Loose body, tight mind

Can you be in a peak state all of the time? No. You  simply can’t. Tight body, tight mind is much more prevalent today. This state is labeled: ANXIETY. This is what we want to avoid. That’s exactly why you need to identify the positivity triggers to bring you back when you’re struggling or when you’re anxious.

Think of a great scorer in basketball.

The game started and they missed their first 3-4 shots.  What is the single most important thing they can do in game to adjust?

Get to the free throw line immediately. Why? Many reasons really.

  1. Its an unobstructed view of the basket.  No defense = easier chance of conversion.
  2. All great scorers and free throw shooters have a rhythm or cadence at the line to prepare for the foul shots.  This cadence allows them to get back into flow immediately.
  3. Most important. Great shooters need to see the ball go in. They need the confidence boost. It only takes one bucket to drop as a shooter to know the rest of them are ALL going in.

I’m a much better basketball player (or at least I was) than I am a golfer.  But they’re not that much different.  What does a struggling golfer attempt to find first when they’re lost with their swing? Tempo. They’re not trying to hit a 230 yd three iron with a 5 yd draw.  They have a wedge in hand and they’re exclusively focused on a couple mechanics and tempo, tempo, tempo. Finding confidence in the swing.

So how can this look in our daily lives?

I can only speak for me and give you insight into a few of my positivity triggers.  Side note – a couple of them may sound a bit weird (I don’t care).  Find something that works…for YOU!

  1. Clothing – There is a shirt maker in Richmond, VA I love called Ledbury (Ledbury.com).  They make limited run dress shirts and their slim fit sizing fits me nearly perfectly (15.5″ neck of course if you’re thinking of gifting me one).  One may argue they’re a touch expensive, but expense is rather relative when I think of all the money I’ve made wearing these shirts.  Why do I love them?  Because they make me look good (sorry, I’m a vain person) and feel good. My confidence levels flow at a high level because I’m not worried or focused on what I’m wearing.  Big meeting, speaking engagement, pitch, guess what I’m wearing?  Ledbury.
  2. Soap – Call me crazy, but hear me out first.  Have you ever stayed in a really nice hotel and used a great (and likely scented) soap?  If yes, how did you feel coming out of that shower?  AWESOME.  Guess what I’ve done? I buy more of it and keep it handy for a BIG day or special occasions.  Once again.  How do you think I feel?  Awesome.  This isn’t a smell thing, its a state thing.  A personal favorite I picked up from W Hotels is Bliss Lemon and Sage 
  3. Morning Videos – Almost every day of the working week (Monday through Friday) I start my day at home with a locked in mindset on success. Where do I go? Youtube.  I make it a point every morning to reset my mind on my goals and a successful mindset.  If you want the specifics, I’ll watch videos from: Tony Robbins, Steve Jobs, Eric Thomas, Brendon Burchard, Robert Kiyosoki, stoic philosophy and the list goes on.  Motivation is fleeting and I believe the mind needs to be fed just as the body needs nutrition.  News flash folks, the morning news isn’t nutritious brain food.
  4. Personal Audio/Video – I keep a few files saved when I need a reminder just how abundant my life is with my wife and son. There are 3-4 very personal videos and audio files I have saved on my phone that I listen to when I’m faced with a tough scenario, business decision, or life throws me a curve ball.  A coupe of them bring tears to my eyes almost immediately and I find that’s about all a grown man needs to get back to center.  No problem to big. No scenario too daunting. I have all that I need.
  5. 10 Minute Meditation – If you’ve followed the blog you know my growing embrace for the Eastern practice of meditation. Ten minutes of alone time and some practiced breathing can reset my mind, body, nervous system and overall well being.

I truly hope these ideas help you. I hope you become aware of what makes you the happiest and most confident version of yourself. Pay attention to what may work for others, but know you are unique.

It has to work for YOU.  That’s all that matters.

ACTION ITEM: Spend the next few days surrounding yourself with a list of positive triggers. I know you’ll be much closer to achieving what’s in front of you when you consistently operate at the highest level.

Our Parents Called “Grinding” Work

Grinding

I’m tired of the word, “Grinding.” I’m actually sick and tired of it.

  • Up at 5am to “grind” – a.k.a. workout.
  • Getting on the train at 6:30am to “grind” – a.k.a. go to work.
  • Monday. Rise and grind – a.k.a. go to work.
  • Sales guys making calls to “grind” – a.k.a. how you’re compensated when you create opportunity.
  • Athletes are the worst. “Grinding” – a.k.a. I’m practicing to play a game kids play and get paid STUPID money, so I gotta “grind” to earn my $5 MILLION.

Shut up with the grind.

It’s not a grind. It may be sensationalized in today’s social world so someone can meaninglessly pat you on the back, but our parents didn’t call it that. Remember when your mom and dad weren’t cool, but then you realized just how much they did for you?

It was called work. WORK. To give your family a better life than the one laid out in front of them. That’s WORK!

Our parents weren’t looking for truly “empty social support” or comments on their multiple social media channels about the “struggle” (I hate that too by the way). They were busy supporting their kids or husband/wife. My mom didn’t call cleaning the house “grinding” for the weekend. Mom cleaned the damn house.

I truly hope I’m not turning into the old man yelling “get off my damn yard,” but I’m really tired of it and I’m worried for what it means for all of us growing up in a time where we’ve never seen so much abundance. I believe it is this abundance that leads many to label their work as a “grind” the moment adversity strikes because they’re never truly seen what a grind looks or feels like.

Let me tell you about a grind.

My dad. I admire the hell out of him for what I’m about to tell you.

My dad didn’t grow up with a lot (which is an overstatement). He started working real jobs when he was probably 10 or 11…because he had to. He went to college to become something better and someone to support a family. He become a teacher. He was one of the best teachers before he retired (past students will back me up on this or comment my post). But mind you, being a great teacher doesn’t earn you any extra money, and they aren’t handsomely compensated to begin with. Instead what do you do?

If you’re my dad, you teach school from 7:30am-3pm and then operate a drywall business until 9, 10, sometimes 11 o’clock at night. Every night. And by operate I mean work a real job for 40 hours a week, and then work another 5-6 days a week on top of that. Have you ever hung drywall?  It’s not exactly easy or clean manual labor.

WORK.

He gave my mom, my sister and I all that we could ever ask for and more. I’ve never gone without. Opportunities piled on opportunities. He put in place a new trajectory for our lives based on where he’d been, the work he’d put in, and the future in front of us. I believe that trajectory leaves me where I am today and where I plan on going with my family. Changing the trajectory.

If you think I want one ounce of your sympathy, I don’t. Most importantly my dad won’t have it. I don’t think our story is unique. In fact, there are far greater stories involving hardship and triumph than the Keeney family. Look them up.

I’ll leave you with this. My dad is super-handy. It’s insanity to me to think about what he can fix or build. Conversely, I can’t fix a damn thing if my life depended on it. But, he did pass one thing along. He taught me how to work and showed me first hand the value of providing…not selfishly (which is my default emotion), but for the immediate benefit of others.

Grinding? I don’t think so. I’ll never call it grinding because that word didn’t exist in his vocabulary. It was just WORK.

HELL YES vs. NO

Hell Yes vs NO

I feel like this post is the most important post I’ve written this year!

Every day, we’re bombarded to make decisions on varying levels of commitment.  Every day, we purchase goods and services. What I learned is every day we waste tremendous amounts of energy and money on the trivial many vs selecting the vital few.

I’m going to paint the concept of HELL YES vs. NO to you in a few different ways.

  1. Time Commitments
  2. Consumption Habits
  3. Talent Investment

Let us start with a simple introduction on what I’m getting at before we jump into the aforementioned scenarios.  The choice of HELL YES vs. NO should feel exactly how it reads.  Say, “HELL YES” out loud.  Do it.  Right now. As if you were excited about something so much you jumped off the couch. Feels good doesn’t it?!?

Alternatively, say the word “NO” with a strong conviction.  Like asking me if I like the Iowa State Cyclones.  No! Not now, not ever.

Here’s the rub. Until a couple years ago, i.e. before I read Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, very few of my answers or decisions lived in either of these two polar opposite responses.  I was wasting away in the middle. Over committed with mediocre energy on too many things.

If the feeling of saying YES, isn’t 95% or higher. It’s a NO.

If you really want to put to use the ideas I share on this blog, you’re going to have to get very comfortable saying no. No, no, no.  It’s time to get unreasonable with your time and your commitments.  Unreasonable? Why? The reason why is an answer you already know.

If you only have 100% to give, would you rather give it to 3-4 things, or spread it out over 10?  Why then, do so many commit to doing 10 things (extremely mediocre mind you) when they should be saying NO.  In today’s society, if we’re not “busy” we must be lazy.  Wrong answer. It’s window dressing for a false sense of over-involvement equalling progress.  Unfocused action only leads to one thing FAST.  Burnout.

Busy = I lack the ability to prioritize and select the vital few…so I do it all.

Conversely, feel the alternative.  Say, “HELL YES” again out loud. Think about how much more you’ll deliver in a scenario with this amount of passion, focus and creativity. You’ll absolutely crush it, and I’m willing to bet you’ll be happier as a result. Happy because you’re 100% invested.  Happy because you’re not overwhelmed worrying about 10 other things.  Happy because you’ll make huge progress because you have nothing else in your peripheral begging for your focus.

Secondly, let us explore the world of “HELL YES vs. NO” in our consumption habits.  This one is really interesting to me.  A couple years ago i started following Ramit Sethi after reading his book I Will Teach You To Be Rich over a couple flights.  I then started following his blog: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.  He wrote something that really caught my attention about spending.

He makes the wonderful argument about spending lavishly on a vital few things we really want and bring us tremendous joy.

It could be an expensive pair of jeans, or premium shoes for someone.  For another person, it is great meals at posh restaurants because that brings them the most joy. For another, it was all about great travel experiences.  Point is, in each scenario, dialing back on many mediocre purchases, lead to tremendous happiness when big purchases were HELL YES purchases.

My HELL YES, looks very different than yours.  That’s ok!  That’s the point.  Find out what is most important to you and spend there.  But, don’t forget to dial back on all the other pieces that don’t bring you joy.  Save on the trivial, to splurge on the tremendous.

Lastly, let us take a look at talent investment in terms of skill set and time investment. I’ve written about this before and I want to reinforce it with the context provided in this post.

Find the two or three WORLD CLASS talents you have, and go all-in (HELL YES) on them.

Everything else must take a back seat. Remember, 95% commitment or more is a HELL YES.  Everything else is a NO.  When you get to a point where you’re spending most of your day on world class talents, you win.  You’re happy  You’re 10x more likely to gain new opportunities, establish great relationships, and I promise you…you’ll feel better.  You will smile bigger and hug longer.

ACTION ITEM: When met with an opportunity for a decision. Make sure you’re answer passes the HELL YES vs. NO test. No hurt feelings, just a cold hard reality check and understand the consequences if you don’t.  Your success and happiness awaits!!!

Go Get It!

Exposure, Jiu-Jitsu, and Growth

Jiu Jitsu Exposure Growth

Think about the last time you were exposed.

I’m not referring to the last time you were caught slipping out the back door in your undies only to drop a little rubbish in the garbage container in the alley…only to find out the door behind you locked.  Exposed.

Tell you what, think on it, and we’ll come back to this after I give you a little context.

As you know, if you read my blog I’m an avid listener to the Tim Ferriss Show podcast.  Twice in his 100+ episodes of deconstructing world class performance, he’s interviewed Josh Waitzkin (Link to podcast here). Without providing a complete wikipedia reference to Josh in this post, I’ll simply say this and you can click on his name.  Josh is a childhood chess prodigy (the subject of the book Searching for Bobby Fischer: The Father of a Prodigy Observes the World of Chess) a world class martial artist, and all-around brilliant guy (shocker).

In their most recent podcast session, Josh shed light on how he sees exposure leading to world-class performers and inevitable success. He discussed with great detail, how after four tireless rounds of Jiu Jitsu practice, the best, the most focused and driven will look for one more challenge. The toughest guy in the room. Those wanting to be world class, search for the most exhausting matchup even when their tank is empty.

This exposure, Josh says, is where excellence and success live.

The sparing partner looking for a “rest”or an easy matchup as they enter their fifth and final matchup of the day may very well be good. But, they’ll likely never be great, because they aren’t exposed to their true potential when it is needed most.

Think about this through another lens.  How does a muscle grow? I’m not a body builder, but I know it takes one key word. Resistance.

The toughest steel is forged in the hottest fire

Care for another example? There is a wonderful book I read a little over a year ago by Carol Dweck: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. I highly encourage this reading to anyone who asks me for a recent book recommendation.

To oversimplify Carol’s theory (which is slightly unfair) for the purpose of this conversation on exposure, think about this. Growth focused vs. static mindsets

Are you smart?

We’d all love to answer yes. But Carol would argue the mindset of being “smart” will limit our future success. It is static. So I should be dumb, you’re probably asking? Obviously not. But your mindset should be more focused on growth than static mindsets (static = I’m smart).

Carol expands with research linking kids who were told they were “smart” seemingly struggling when met with a real challenge in the future.  Since the answer isn’t found with relative immediacy, the smart kids tend to give up and feel worse about themselves in the process. Since they can’t figure it out and they’ve always been labeled as “smart”, the antithesis is I’m dumb. Confidence is shattered.

Conversely, the children with a “growth” focused mindset, those with an appetite to learn for the process of learning, were excited & excelled when presented with a really difficult challenge. They didn’t need to be smart to find the answer, but they wouldn’t give up when pursuing multiple solutions when an answer wasn’t immediately available.

The reason the growth focused mindset leads to more successful futures is directly linked to exposure.

Back to the beginning. I read and write frequently about the nature and origins of success. I love the topic and the learnings that come with it. One constant of success across all walks of life is exposure.  Exposure is the oxygen needed to fuel the fire. The people consistently seeking exposure to new challenges, new beliefs, new literature and new data are more often than not winners because they’re not afraid to take the next step in the stairway to success.

ACTION ITEM:  There are few things I love more than winning and a winning mindset.

Get exposed!

Is More School Worth The Price?

Is More School WorLook at where we stand today with our higher “Priced” education system. It’s not good for a multitude of reasons. Lets look at the opportunity cost. I’ll argue, more school is’t the solution.

The solution is more education. There is a massive difference.

Imagine being 18(again). You want to go to college? Perfect! Get your degree, rack up $20,000+ of student loans, and then what? The Wall Street Journal tells us last year’s graduating class will leave with a little more than $35,000 of debt. What’s next? Hopefully the student will enter the workforce with their college education and some vigor to learn and achieve great things. What if they don’t?

What if they don’t jump into the work force? I believe too many people are choosing the easy and dangerous path of more school in the form of graduate school(for the sake of more school) and more debt without a payoff, without properly weighing the alternative.  Hard work and education.

What happened to going out, finding a job (any decent job) and getting your ass to work? Ohhhh, I get it, it ins’t sexy to post on your Instagram profile? Get real people! I can make a very good argument for not getting more “higher education” and instead getting a real-world eduction. I’ve seen it done and lived it.

Soap box rant: I started in college as an UNPAID intern. Unpaid for about 7 months (that means $0 kids). In April of my senior year I took an entry-level job with a marginal salary because I knew there was opportunity to grow.  I’m extremely thankful for this opportunity and look back upon it fondly every time I think about where I started. Fast forward 10 years later, I’m helping to run and grow businesses because I’ve been learning about them for 10+ years. Learning AND working. It can happen simultaneously. Shocking I know.

You’ve all seen the graph of Charlie and Allen as they save for retirement. Charlie starts early and saves a little at a time, but he saves often.  Allen starts late and attempts to save big chunks to make up the lost time. What happens? Time wins. Compound interest wins. Charlie wins. Charlie retires and Allen continues to work.

Conversely consider this.  Charlie goes to college.  Gets a degree and gets to work.  He has a good work ethic, an open mind, and is willing to learn on the job to grow his career.  Five years later he’s earned a couple promotions, knocked out his student loan payments, and is on the fast-track to hitting his career goals. Charlie has tremendous flexibility and a proven track record to follow his passions.

Allen graduated under grad with Charlie, but couldn’t find that “perfect” employer who wanted to pay him $60,000 out of college to run business he knows nothing about.  Awww shucks.  Guess he better go get an MBA.  Allen goes to school to get his MBA.  In the process, he racks up an additional $50,000 in debt (on top of his $35,000) that he already can’t pay because he doesn’t have a job or income.

Allen, looking for work after his illustrious MBA program is completed reaches out and GOES TO WORK FOR Charlie.  Another shocker. I’ve seen it. I lived it.  Allen is $85,000 behind Charlie and has zero real-world experience.  He’s never had to fire anyone or have a difficult (but adult) conversation with a boss or owner.

Understand this. MORE THAN EVER, you don’t need an MBA to be successful in today’s economy.

What is needed is an appetite to continue your education, some common sense, a work ethic, and some “old fashioned” backbone.  The economy is moving faster than ever, and I’d argue is more entrepreneurial than ever.  Speed to adapt is the new currency.  Can you learn at a fast rate? Can you as a person continue to learn and evolve with the changing times.

A person must also consider the resources at their fingertips to continue your education(on your own time).  I think sometimes the structure of school only helps the student know where to look or how to start the next level of learning. It’s a map or a compass for the lost young adult.

The internet has and will continue to wildly disrupt the education system.  I think this is fantastic because of all I’ve learned online in the last few years.  Where exactly?  Let me list a few resources I use.

  • YouTube – The #1 place on the internet to learn almost anything in the world.  On your own time.  For FREE!
  • Podcasts – This medium erupted over the last 5 years.  Insights, interviews, and some of the best minds out there are podcasting daily or weekly for FREE
  • Online courses – There is a tremendous market to expand knowledge and education via people who’ve already achieved what you’re looking to learn.  Find them.  Follow them. Study them. Be wise in evaluation, but don’t be afraid to invest a couple hundred dollars to advance your knowledge.
  • TED Talks – I’m not goofy enough to compare a Ted Talk to an MBA, but isn’t it exactly the style of critical thinking you’re paying for? FREE
  • Blog Posts – There are some really wonderful blog posts out there for everything under the sun. I have a few favorites I’ve been following  for YEARS and also for FREE to continue to feed my beastly appetite for knowledge.

If you’d like to argue about your Harvard MBA, I can understand that viewpoint. I can understand where you are in your career and how your MBA got you there. What I can’t ignore however, is the number of entrepreneurs and business owners I’ve met (who are tremendously successful) who don’t have post secondary education.

I believe tremendously in the value of an education.  However, I’m deeply concerned with the price of school and what this price is doing to our future.

The Two Best Shark Tank Questions

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If you love the show Shark Tank, you know there are some great personalities and entrepreneurs who headline the show.  Mark Cuban, Mr. Wonderful, Robert Herjavec, Damond John, Lori Greiner, and Barbara Corcoran.  Each world-class entrepreneur has a unique story of what got them on the stress-enduced ABC stage. They also have a simple and fundamental understanding of what works and likely what doesn’t when they evaluate prospective deals.

Watch every episode and you’ll come away with two questions:

  1. What are your sales?
  2. What does it cost you to make/distribute/service your product (i.e. profit)

No sales. No deal.

The more my career evolves, the more I understand there is no value, zero, without a sale created.  Ironically from a “sales guy’s” perspective I didn’t understand this right away in my early 20’s.  I loved marketing, the style, the brand identity, value and overall quality design big projects yielded. That said, sales make the world go round and everyone (EVERYONE) has something they’re selling.

The sharks know, if you don’t have sales, they don’t have an offer.  Goodbye!

If you’re not selling, you’re sold to the fact you’re stuck.

Step back and think of everyone selling something today…not who you think:

  • Presidents of colleges are selling their institutions of higher learning for grant money and talented professors
  • Parents sell their children nightly on the value of homework and good decision making
  • Nonprofits sell their ideology to prospective donors
  • A mid-level marketing manager is selling a new idea to his boss to drive more market share.  His commissions: $0
  • College coaches out on the recruiting trail are selling their school, their knowledge, and their vision for the future
  • A new pilates instructor is selling prospective students to fill up her “pilates for moms” 6-week evening class
  • I’m selling my blog and my ideas.  The ideas that will make you a healthier, wealthier, and more fulfilled life.

If for some reason you don’t like the word selling, immediately start getting comfortable with the word: influence.

Your ability to influence, directly impacts your ability to achieve, advance, or crush your goals.

ACTION ITEM: If you find yourself in a position of not getting what you want, or what you think you deserve, find your way back into your passion and selling/influencing an idea. Creating opportunities for your team, company, or even yourself will get you what you’re looking for!

Live Your Eulogy

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This is an interesting topic and somewhat morbid to be totally candid.  But I couldn’t get it out of my head this last week given a couple books I read.

How Will I Be Remembered?

For some reason, I spent a great deal of time thinking about what this all looks like 60+ years from now?  Can I make it to 93? I’m not sure, maybe another topic for another time.

I don’t mean for any of this post to relate to my life’s achievements or accomplishments.  Although I don’t think that is a terribly bad thing, I was thinking specifically about legacy. It’s one of the only true things you can leave behind (and not be taxed).

There is something really simple and beautiful about this thought process to me. Once you wrestle with the idea for a little bit you come to a striking conclusion. It is the ONLY acceptable answer to the equation called LIFE. The dirt will hit each of us in the face. Some will meet it with grace and some will meet it suddenly and unexpectedly. Either way…life expires.

The fear isn’t the part that draws my attention.

My attention was and is focused this last couple weeks on legacy. The cool thing is when the thoughts start, everything else becomes entirely trivial with our day to day lives. Think about it. What did I do today that really mattered?  If not selfishly for me, for someone else. Now ask yourself again, what is really important and does it directly relate to what you accomplished today?

What replaced the trivial thoughts (today’s insecurities) were some great questions.

  • What would the people close to me say about how I lived?
  • Is there a chance I was able to help this person, push them, or make them better?  If so, how?
  • Would a stranger I just met have good words or a positive story to share with my son as an example of how I lived?
  • Did I leave the family in a better place?
  • What can I change TODAY…right now if I didn’t like the story?

Once again, I really don’t know why this came about, but I’m happy it did.  I think the thoughts are healthy and allow a person like myself who doesn’t take much time to slow down to almost stop and consider how they’d like to be remembered.

The way a person is remembered is directly attributed to the day to day.  Small efforts, magnified over time.

In a weird way its a goal I’m in pursuit of.  Trouble for all of us is, we don’t know when it will be.  Or maybe that’s exactly where the beauty lives. So until then, I’ll just have to put the work in every day and the legacy will take care of itself.

ACTION ITEM: Look at a story of a life well lived.  I don’t care if the person lived to be 25 or 105.  If you can define the life well lived, you have a legacy to pursue.