4 Key Ingredients to Masters Magic

Hello friends.

It’s Masters week and I want to discuss my experience last year at Augusta National with you.   Below please find a video I did after returning back home.  You’ll also find four key ingredients I took away from this remarkable experience and how Augusta delivers the magic.

The Masters

The Masters

  1. Committed to the Cause – Every single person on the grounds at Augusta National is all-in on serving their patrons.  The moment I understood this was in the bathroom actually.  There may be more bathroom attendants in the restrooms than there are patrons.  Every single time a patron uses a bathroom stall or urinal they are cleaned before the next patron visits.  I never thought I’d write something remarkable about a restroom experience, but I stand corrected.
  2. Over Deliver – I’d heard the stories.  I’ve seen the faces of friends change upon hearing the words “Masters Tournament” when uttered in a conversation.  I’ve watched hundreds of hours television and studied hole by hole breakdowns on the web, but I wasn’t ready for the experience when it happened.  Everything I heard, or saw, or thought I would experience was BETTER.  The grass was greener, the hills were steeper, the greens were slicker, it was more energetic, and more beautiful than I imagined.
  3. Compassion – I spoke earlier about the bathroom attendants.  You won’t find a single worker or volunteer who isn’t excited to welcome you to the Masters.  My favorite memories exist of early mornings walking through the East Georgia fog and you’d hear it.  “WELCOME to the Masters,” an older gentleman would say greeting the patrons as they walked into Disney World for adults.  But the voice wasn’t just an older man who treasures the game of golf.  It was every single person on the grounds and every one of them was compassionate in their delivery of the magic.
  4. Attention to Detail – The closest word I can come to grips with to define the grounds at Augusta National is perfection.  Some say you can’t achieve perfection, but I can promise you this.  You can get damn close with a serious attention to detail in every element of your pursuit.  This level of commitment can be found everywhere you look and with every experience you have.

ACTION ITEM: The Masters opened my eyes to how truly great an experience can exist in today’s cluttered and cynical world.  Surround yourself with truly wonderful people with an equal or greater fire in their belly.  Unite in a purpose and let your passions pave the way.  The rest will be magical.

Hustle 2.0

Hustle.  What the heck is that?

An insanely popular word in business today, but not yet as overused as some other buzzwords.

I believe one individual is highly responsible for transforming this word from the sports world to the business universe.  That person is Gary Vaynerchuk.  Gary is a mentor of mine and yet we’ve never met (with the exception of him signing my copy of “Thank You Economy” while at a convention in Las Vegas).  I think he’s a pretty righteous dude.

Are you ready to HUSTLE?

Are you ready to HUSTLE?

If you don’t know Gary I’ve included a link here to a recent interview with Inc: How to be Mr. Hustle and Have a Life, Too.

Gary is a pretty famous cat, and frequently references the word “hustle” in his conversations with other entrepreneurs, business coaches, media outlets and his own company VaynerMedia.  What I think is seriously overlooked though is the definition of the word hustle and how it’s helped Gary amass a thriving company and extremely successful career in social media.

Lets entertain a couple definitions or uses for the word hustle.

1. Zac displayed great hustle by diving on the floor numerous times in tonights basketball game.  This instance of hustle defines another level of hard work.  Hustle = perspiration or effort.

2. Zac got hustled in a game of golf (happens from time to time).  This instance of hustle refers to me getting swindled.  Not a great feeling or association

So what is this “hustle” Gary talks about and how is it different from pouring sweat and pool tables?

I believe Gary uniquely defines his hustle by the level of engagement he’s willing to invest in himself and his company and the context it’s delivered in.  His hustle most definitely includes massive effort, but massive effort isn’t what defines his success.  Gary’s definition of hustle is in the micro conversations and hundreds of engagements he’s willing to support (every one of them with a purpose nonetheless).

The 2014 definition of Hustle 2.0 involves 50% effort and another 50% strategic execution.  Notice I said strategic execution and not planning.  Planning is great, but there are no results.  Execution is the down and dirty result.  Execute frequently with exceptional context and you’re on the Gary V track to HUSTLE 2.0.

ACTION ITEM: Hustle isn’t limited to only your effort in a given event or scenario.  It also has to do with your level of engagement.  Combine both ingredients to get a Gary V level of hustle happening in your life

We’re Waiting For You

I was listening to a podcast today by John Lee Dumas (Entrepreneur on Fire) and I heard something that sparked this post.  Coincidentally enough, I saw the following post from a friend on Instagram earlier this week and it couldn’t have been more perfect.  Here’s the post (thank you Maria)!

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 9.42.18 PM

The title of this post is, “We’re waiting for you.”  We’re waiting for you to take a chance and be the ENTIRE person you can be.  We’re waiting for you to take risks, challenge your thinking, and take the next step in your journey. 

The angst of the wait is simple.  Not one subscriber on this blog or relationship is going to tell you when you’re ready.  Nor will someone give you permission if that’s what you’re in search of.

It’s likely you’re ready to take the next step or make big moves, but you’re waiting for the horn to sound or flag to drop.

I hate to disappoint, but I’ve never seen the sign when it’s ok to start or embark on a new journey.  You just start.  There is no official starter with the gun shouting, “On your mark, set,…BANG!”

Every time you start, take another chance, or challenge conformity it gets a bit easier.  Soon, (as the image states it) “it becomes a habit.”  Habits are really hard to stop (I speak from experience).

What I will tell you is everyone around you is waiting for you to BE MORE.  They’re just not going to beat down your door and show you the path.  They’re just as human as you and I, and we’re working on our own journey.  Take responsibility for your future and give people the eye opening experience they’ve been waiting for.  Until then, we’re waiting for you.  We need you!

ACTION ITEM: In the near future choose the uncomfortable.  It will take work and it won’t be easy, but the accomplishment you’ll feel will release the endorphins needed to start your habit.  “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao-tzu

Achievement Addiction Addressed

We’re a nation of addicts.  Uppers, downers, and achievement.  Yes, achievement.  I too struggle with this addiction.Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 11.02.02 AM

This week I got to reading about achievement addiction throughout generation Y and millennials.  What struck me as very interesting is the way many of us attempt to measure ourselves and those around us with our stack of achievements.  I decided to compile a list of a few of those things I see every day.

1. Your College/University

2. College GPA

3. Where You Live (City, Zip Code, Neighborhood)

4. Your Home Size

5. Name Brand Anything/Stuff

6. The Car You Drive

Truth be told it’s really hard not to be addicted to achievement, especially in today’s world. I know I’m a happier version of myself when I’m “achieving” or accomplishing goals.  It feels good.  I’m definitely not going to tell you to underachieve.  Those words will never come out of my mouth.

What I started to learn wasn’t so much about the feeling, it was the pursuit of why the achievement is needed.  Why do I need to feel this way?  What am I chasing in order to fuel these false achievements?  Who (more importantly) do I feel the need to compare myself with?  This is the scariest one!

Keeping up with the Kardashians has never been more prominent than in today’s society.  What I realized I needed to work on was the the idea that the achievement won’t ever overestimate who I really am.

In a famous NFL rant, then Arizona Cardinals head coach Denny Green screamed, “They are who we thought they were!” Here’s the clip

Green was referring to the undefeated Chicago Bears after the Cardinals blew a late game lead and squandered the opportunity to send the Bears home with their 1st loss of the season.

The lesson, I am who you think I am.

I came across this post on LifeHack.orgDo You Have An Achievement Addiction.  The element that brought me to blogging about it on A Keen Mind blog was the following statement, “Addicted to achievement, we forget there is a huge difference between success at a task or goal and success as a person.”

Stuff.  Achieve, accumulate stuff, and sometime hopefully many years down the road after my eulogy a garage sale of grandiose scale will take place.  Thrifty shoppers from miles away will be able to buy my once treasured “achievements” for pennies on the dollar.

Conversely I like to think of achievement as a legacy.  What can be taught, shared, or left behind, so that many years or generations from now it may still impact others?  This is a true measure of success and achievement.  Did I make those around me better?  Was I successful in leaving a legacy of: positivity, challenging others to be their best, and a winning mindset?  These are achievements and what I’ll work to strive toward.

I can’t promise you I’ll stop buying things or working toward a newer home or automobile.  What I won’t do is allow these purchases to be the measure of my achievement.  PS – if a Ferrari is in my future, I’m not going to get out of its way!

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 11.01.40 AM

ACTION ITEM:  Live your life for all the achievements.  Not only the ones associated with a price tag.


Six Temptations of Good

This post is the result of a habit I created a few years back after I received a sheet of paper from a very successful client.  He told me all I needed to be successful was outlined in what he provided.  If I could focus on these elements every day, success would be sure to follow.

It was only one sheet of paper with copy on one side and six very simple temptations we each battle every single day.  The title of the document read, “When Good Isn’t Enough.” I had to share because it is the perfect piece of content for A Keen Mind.

1. Leaders stop working on themselves

2. Leaders stop thinking BIG

3. Leaders of successful organizations “lead from the front”

4. Leaders stop developing others

5. Leaders stop holding others accountable

6. Leaders abandon the basics.

Give this just a moment of thought.  There are hundreds of business and success books published every year.  I’ve probably read 100 of them and each creates separate buzz within the topic.  Yet when I get back to working on myself as leader I always come back to this simple and short list.

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 12.59.07 PM

Here is a snapshot of my hand written list transcribed on the inside of by BIG IDEA notebook.

ACTION ITEM: Keep this link and list handy.  Share it with others looking to conquer a good mindset.  Review it frequently and take action against the temptations of good and I promise you success will follow.



The Pastor and Paterno

Paterno 816_0I had to write this returning home from church today.

First off, I’m not going to “bible beat” you or stand on a pedestal and preach.  My flaws are far too long to list in one blog post.  If you want to go to church then go.  If you don’t, then stay at home.  What I’d like to share with you today however was a lesson in learning.

Oddly enough, it had nothing to do with the sermon.  I got to thinking about the role of a pastor in the church and the work of delivering a sermon every Sunday.  Every Sunday from the same book this pastor or one of his peers helps us try to learn and understand more from only one book.  The Bible.

Every lesson, every week, every day is devoted to the work from this one book.  How many of us have the patience or persistence to continue learning from one book the rest of our lives?  Maybe this is a little too deep, so as my mind was wandering I tried to relate it to something else.

Football.  Yes, football is like the church and a coach is the pastor.  Now I’ve gone completely nuts!

Not sure why, but I immediately thought of Joe Paterno.  Controversial figure in the last few years, but I found Joe was a great lesson in the devotion a pastor displays.  Joe coached football for five decades at Penn State.  One school, one game, one focus.  Sure the rules changed over the years, and the players changed, but he was still coaching football every day.

The most interesting takeaway I came up with is that in each of these two scenarios (the pastor and Paterno) each was devoted to not only their craft, but a lifetime of learning.  People change, what’s socially acceptable to preach about changes, technology is evolving us all, but their core teachings remain laser focused.  Every single day they were going to get a little better.  Every day they were going to learn something new about their team, their staff, or the game/mission they were teaching.

I look back at my career in marketing and advertising and I’ve invested 10+ years in the process.  Author Malcolm Gladwell says in his book Outliers: The Story of Success it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in a field of study.  I’ve included links here for you if you’re interested.  

Do the math, it’s 20 hours a week for 50 weeks a year for 10 years.  I believe I’ve put in this measure of time, but when looking at the pastor and Paterno there is so much more to be learned in the next 40,000 hours.

ACTION ITEM: My challenge like most of you reading this is to remain passionate about what I’m doing and to continue learning every day like the pastor and coach Paterno.  It takes two things to turn a lump of coal into a diamond.  Persistent pressure and time.

Find Your Dimmer Switch

Are the lights on?

I just got done listening to an Entrepreneurs on Fire podcast from John Lee Dumas (great podcast btw).  The guest was JD Roth, former owner of Get Rich Slowly and current blogger at More than Money.  JD’s response to one of John’s questions really hit me.  The question was, “can you please tell the fire listeners about a lightbulb moment you had?”

JD’s answer wasn’t what I thought I’d hear.  He said his lightbulb moment was more of a dimmer switch than a lightbulb.  It was a slow progression not an instant aha moment.  I believe more now than ever people are in desperate search of this aha moment.  They’re looking for the fastest way possible to make a million dollars or lose 50 lbs.  “Aha” means I figured it out and sold it in the same instance. Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 10.05.33 AM

Trouble is the world doesn’t work this way.   I hate to be your dream crusher, but “aha” isn’t realistic.  You may have a better chance of winning the lottery.  JD’s lesson was it’s going to take some focused effort and work.  Oddly enough the pursuit of his dream required patience.

Back to the lightbulb/dimmer switch.

I give an immense amount of thanks to Justin Wise (@justinwise) and his Think Digital blog.  My wife follows Justin’s sister on Iowa Girl Eats (an immensely successful food blog) and recommended I checked Justin out.  My dimmer switch was on.  The light was extremely dim, but the power was flowing to the light.

This step was what I’ll refer to later down the road as “ignition.”  It got me started.  I dove head first into Justin’s teachings and maybe more importantly his network.  I dug into his podcasts, I followed Casey Graham, and I got introduced to Pat Flynn on Twitter.  I link to each of these guys as they’ve provided me with a ton of value.  A TON! I don’t care if you’re interested in launching a blog, starting a business, or just getting deeper into the learning process.  These guys will help.

I’m learning more about business now from a multitude of different angles and business possibilities than the pervious five years combined.  I’m using their teaching here in my blog and with team’s in the office.  The results are simple.  A Keen Mind is growing by the day and I’m seeing great results in my professional life.

The dimmer switch analogy is terrific because it’s real life.  Not some fairly tale we’re bombarded with daily on social media.  It takes time, an immense effort, and more focused power to reward the light we’re all looking to achieve.

ACTION ITEM: The first thing I’d do is subscribe to John’s Entrepreneur On Fire podcast.  There are nearly 500 episodes with really great content available.  The second thing I’d do is take a hard look at your goals and your dimmer switch.  Is it on?  If not, START.  If it’s on, focus on the next steps you need to take to burn that light a little brighter!




5 Valuable Characteristics From My Wife

In honor of my wife’s birthday today I wanted to share with you five of her most brilliant characteristics and what I’ve learned from her Keen Mind.

I frequently refer to Beth as my “better half” in conversation.  You may shrug this off as a joke, but I’m not the least bit kidding and here are five reasons why.

Five Characteristics I learned from my wife

5 Characteristics – Photo Courtesy of http://www.cmphotography.de

1. Selflessness – If Beth kept a list every day of who she was worried about, or was looking out for I can promise you she would be near the bottom if not last on the list.  I have no idea what makes her this way but it’s really easy to admire.  Family, friends, co-workers, recent acquaintances needs all come before her own.  This is tough love for me as I can be selfish from time to time.  Beth won’t allow it.

2. Flawed – Like every single one of you reading this Beth has her faults.  However, unlike most of us she’s well aware of what she is and what she isn’t.  She doesn’t struggle with what she’s not.  She doesn’t lose sleep over it, and she’s certainly not interested in pretending.  It’s not worth her time.  Once again I’m learning.  I used to strive to be perfect.  Perfect for her is being happy with who she is.

3. Organized – Yes those that know her well will tell you she’s very organized, tidy, and clean.  Oddly enough, I’m not referring to her cleaning skills.  I’m talking about her mental organization.  No one I know is as mentally organized as my wife.  She can turn herself off when she needs rest and power up when extra energy is needed.  This can only happen with a well programmed brain.  She’s working with me on this one as I have a tough time: shutting down, turning off, letting go, etc.

4.  Curious – Beth is 100% up to try new things.  Although it may not be with reckless abandon she’s a gamer to try new things.  We’ve traveled without notice, tried new and exotic foods, and she helped me launch this blog.   This is one characteristic we both comply with and I hope never diminishes.

5. Challenge – Beth will frequently challenge my thoughts, plans and actions.  It’s funny because I consider myself a pretty good schemer of new concepts and plans.  Yet, every one of them I run by her gets better, more streamlined or more valuable after our discussion.  She’s honest with feedback and we don’t always agree (if you know the competitive streak in each of us this gets interesting).  I really appreciate this as she’s challenging to help me or my project get better.  There is never negative intent and she’s compassionate about helping me see a different angle.  Lastly, I’m working at this one as well.

ACTION ITEM: I try to end every post with an action item and this is no different.  Today I’d love it if you read this to wish my wife a Happy Birthday!!!  You can tweet her at @Beth_Keeney or if you’re friends with her on Facebook send her a note.  Thanks again all!


Olympic Women I Admire

I’m going to tell you about two Olympic women I admire and it’s for reasons most won’t accept.  The two women I’m talking about are Hannah Kearney and McKayla Maroney.  The reason I admire each of them is they both know, “Second place is the first loser!”


Here’s how Wikipedia describes Hannah Kearney: Hannah Kearney is an American mogul skier who won a gold medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics and a bronze medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics.  This blog post was triggered from an interview I just viewed of Hannah with legendary broadcaster Al Michaels.  More on that to come.

McKayla Maroney: She was a member of the gold medal-winning U.S. women’s gymnastics team at the 2012 Summer Olympics and was the 2012 Olympic vault silver medalist. She defended her World title and won the gold medal on vault at the 2013 World Championships, becoming the first US female gymnast to defend a World Championships Vault title. Maroney is also known for her “not impressed” face, which became an internet meme during the 2012 Olympics

mckayla-maroney-pissedThis image should sum up the “not impressed” response with her silver medal in the 2012 vault.  Maroney was the odds on favorite to win Gold in 2012, but faltered in her last vault yielding the gold medal to another competitor.  She was NOT happy about it and I LOVE IT!  She was the best and expected to win.  When she didn’t her competitive side got the best of her emotions.

Each of these two women competed at the highest level and delivered what they believed was not their best effort during competition.  For this reason they were unsatisfied in their medal efforts.  Many will dream of competing in the Olympics, much less medaling in an event.  Even so, Hannah andMcKayla remain unsatisfied.

I mentioned the interview with Hannah and Al Michaels prompting this post.  Al asked Hannah if she had time to let the bronze finish settle in over the last 18 hours and if she now appreciated the medal finish.  She did the right thing and said she was happy to win the medal for her country.

The best part, she was still angry and I LOVE IT!  Her body language and feelings of discontent were palpable.  She’s a competitor at the highest level and was still furious with her lackluster effort.  She excepted nothing less than 1st place and a 2nd gold medal in Sochi.

Others will tell you these women got what they deserved with their effort and they’re probably right.  It doesn’t mean however they were going to settle for 2nd or 3rd place.  Their fire burns too hot to settle for anything but first place and that’s why I admire each of them.  Winning is the only option in their minds.

I stated in my bio about my obsession with winning and the acceptance for nothing else.  Most “normal” people will tell you to relax or to let it go.  Accept your outcome and be thankful for 2nd or 3rd place.  What these people will never understand is we can’t.  Even if we could, we would rather finish in dead last.

ACTION ITEM: Don’t be afraid to compete and not to accept 2nd place.  Keep your fire burning hot and continue to get better.  It makes the feeling of winning all the better!


I Hate the Word Customer

One word you won’t  hear me use is “customer.”  Just the sound of it makes me cringe and sends shivers down my spine.  It should make you feel the same way and I’ll tell you exactly why right here.

Customer Concept

My mom used to say, “Hate is a strong word Zachary.  You really don’t hate something.”  She is right, but I do hate the word customer.  Here are four reasons why:

  1. Customer – sounds and feels cheap
  2. Customer – is transactional and might as well mean one and done.  Wham bam thank you ma’am.
  3. Customer – means nothing long-term to me.  I’m not interested in short term relationships.
  4. Customer – every time you think of using this word, please substitute the word “client”

As a community, we are in search of clients and client partnerships.  Customers are expensive with your most valuable asset, time.  Investing a great deal of your time in a “customer” better yield a very sustainable profit opportunity.  Otherwise, I suggest we shift our mindset to prospecting, pitching, winning, and servicing the hell out of clients.

After asking a few people about the word customer, one popular response I received is, “What about companies like Apple, Amazon, and Zappos?  They rave about customers.”  I’ve read a great deal about product evangelists and to me the terminology and mindset screams client to me.  Repeat buyers focused on attributes outside of just price alone as a differentiator.  These legendary companies listen to the challenges their clients present in their lives and the provide solutions to solve them.

All that said, how will you know when you’ve found a client and not a customer?

Client relationships aren’t one-sided and demonstrative.  This is extremely important.  A great client relationship should feel good in your gut.  Each of you have something to benefit from the solutions you’re providing.  A client relationship will be open and share valuable information with you and your team.  This information will guide your focus on the client’s KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and plans to continually move the business forward.

The number one element of a great client relationship in my mind is the presentation of new challenges from the client.  This is what I live for.  Give me or my team the opportunity to help the client ease a pain, fill a need, or monetize an opportunity.  Bring it on!  Clients will challenge, customers will demand.  Customers will brow beat, throw a fit, curse your services, or tell you how lousy something is working.  This equals ZERO motivation and sometimes distain for the relationship.  Clients understand your value and will challenge you like a great coach working to get more out of his star talent.

ACTION ITEM:  Change your mindset today and stop using the word customer.  Today you will start looking for and working tirelessly to serve CLIENTS.  It’s much easier to grow the business you currently service than to always be relentlessly be focused on a new customer every day.  Keep them coming back for more!