I’m Baaaaaack

For those of you asking…where did you go?

Here I am. Back on the blog.

I took a few months off to evaluate the direction of a few things in my life and this blog was one of them. To be completely candid with any of you readers, I wanted to know if it would be missed. Spending 50+ hours a week running a national media agency, trying to be a good dad & husband, time with friends, etc. All hours need to be evaluated.

Again, would the blog be missed?

If it wasn’t, or no one brought it up in 90 days, I knew a couple things. One of them was I wasn’t really impacting the lives of my tribe. In all reality, there wasn’t really a tribe if there was no appetite for consuming the content. Removing emotion from these findings was going to be key.  My Ego wanted the work to continue, but we all know Ego can be quite the adversary.

Secondly, I needed to recommit. Commit to continued ideation and thought sharing. Commit to pushing myself into new thoughts/ideas/strategies. Commit to sharing the ideas and impacting lives of my readers. In the end, that’s what it is about. Impact. Even if it is just one person.

I have this fear deeply ingrained in our office culture. We are a tight knit group, and If we part ways with a team member, or visa versa, my biggest fear is the following day…everyone moves on. They’re not missed. You need a team, a culture, a product that if removed…there is a void.  Otherwise, you didn’t have anything to begin with and the end is near.

On another related topic, I had a friend tell me I should start A Keen Mind podcast. Can you imagine listening to episodes of my boyish voice?!? Still evaluating that idea. To be totally honest…I’m really in love with it, because i think my talents are better suited for audio and storytelling than writing. That, and one of my favorite “jobs” would be sports talk radio host. Why not do it on my won, with the format I choose?

I actually considered turning the primary driver of the blog into podcast form. However, as I’ve said before in learnings from Derek Sivers (founder of CD Baby), if it isn’t a “HELL YES”, then the answer is “No.” I’m still evaluating.

PS – If any of you have strong feelings on this topic, please share honestly with me. Good or bad.

In the downtime I also took the time to consume some new content. A couple pieces specifically impacting my current mindset are:

  • As a Man Thinketh (audiobook) – 55 minutes of simple, yet, deep thinking
  • The Joe Rogan Experience – This guy’s commitment to his show, his craft, and the litany of guests/topics is energizing. I’m listening every morning to 5-10 minutes. Here is a link to some of his simple genius
  • All things Chris Sacca. If you don’t know who he is, get introduced on this Tim Ferriss Show episode.

Trusted old partners I continue to consume on a daily basis are still in play. Tony Robbins, Gary Vaynerchuk, Tim Ferris, we haven’t met yet (YET!), but you continue to mentor and mold my day-to-day thoughts and actions. I also continue to listen to Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph about 1-2x per week as well.

A phrase you’ll hear me use around the office frequently with our team is “PLAY OFFENSE” – take the fight to the enemy. That’s what I’m here to do with A Keen Mind.

Play offense.



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!

Excuse Me While I Get Offensive

Time to Get Offensive

Offense vs. Defense

Some will immediately say, “Defense wins championships.”  Maybe.  But, I’ll argue truly great offense can’t be stopped.

My personality, my history, my focus, has always been offense.  Yes, this probably hurt me a little in my basketball career, but I’m wired for offense.  Score, score, score, and more, more, more.  It’s who I am. There is no hiding from who I am. Get buckets!

Play more offense

This is why I decided to make a move in my career at the end of 2014.  I needed to get back to playing offense.  I needed to be making more moves and taking a bit more risk. I needed the jolt of uncertainty, a new challenge, and eye-opening experiences of new relationships and new endeavors.

Tim Ferriss recently interviewed Chris Sacca on the Tim Ferriss Show Podcast. (Side note, Chris is a really REALLY interesting and smart dude.  Specifically I’d encourage parents to listen to how he was raised). Sorry, back to the story. I listened to the podcast on my flight back from New York City last week and loved what Chris had to say about two life changing decisions that set him on the wave he’s currently riding today.

Decision Number 1: He chose to get back on offense.  That’s what triggered this post.

Chris has an undergrad degree and law degree from Georgetown.  He spent time at Google in it’s early years, made millions, lost millions, went into debt, and is now worth an estimated $1.07 billion.  Just to clarify the $.07 billion is $70 million if you’re into that.

I have a friend who started the company MMOGM.  Make Moves or Get Moved.  The site says is beautifully.

It started as a slogan.

Turned into a motto.

Bottom line, it’s a lifestyle!

Boom!  Do you think that sounds like playing offense or defense? Do you think these guys needed the approval of the outside world to start this concept.  HELL NO!

To play offense you don’t need to be ready to save the world or start that company. Speaking candidly, I thought long and hard about my decision last year and wasn’t ready…YET.  It didn’t mean I couldn’t continue to play offense.

Coaches hate mistakes.  But, they can live with making an aggressive mistake.   Why?  Because the key word isn’t mistake, it’s aggressive.  Dictate pace.  Force the issue.  Make mistakes quickly, learn faster, and move forward with better direction.

Aggression, energy, motion, and velocity.

ACTION ITEM: More of the gas pedal, less of the brake.



Losers React, Winners Anticipate

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 9.11.24 PM

Tony Robbins – zackeeney.com

Which one are you?

This extremely powerful advice was shared by the one and only Tony Robbins.  I just heard this on the Tim Ferris Show Podcast and had to dive into more detail.  My addictive personality is really tuned into Tony right now and I loved the simplicity and realness in this statement.

Losers react, winners anticipate.

Maybe we don’t want to be called a loser (who does), so lets put this into a different context I’ve written about before.  Very simple question.

Do things happen to you, or because of you?

There is a great deal of shared value in the bolded statement and question above.  But, instead of casting a shadow of name calling and labeling, lets look deeper into each action and see how it makes you feel.  Better yet, lets paint a real world scenario for us to live and accurately depict two sides of the same story.  What this does to a person emotionally is very eye opening.

THE STORY – You have a client.  A client with high expectations of your work and your results.  You have an upcoming meeting scheduled with the client in 48 hours.  Both of you are aware of the date, time and location. How does this scenario play out with losers and winners?

LOSER (Reacts):

  1. Lacks preparation and insight (knowledge)
  2. Spends no time looking for solutions and ideas prior to the meeting
  3. Your relationship resembles more of a punching bag than a resource
  4. You leave with tons of work to do because you showed up with zero plans
  5. Never asks the questions: How can we provide more? How can we do better?
  6. Likely all of this is the client’s fault, certainly it can’t be you. This client can’t be pleased!
  7. The client controls the entire agenda (you have zero control)
  8. No matter what, you can’t get what you want out of the relationship
  9. How do I get all the bad clients?

WINNER (Anticipates):

  1. Prepares for multiple angles and directions the meeting can go
  2. Delivers fresh new ideas to the client without their asking
  3. The client places a great deal of value and trust in your relationship
  4. You leave with a plan and likely some (if not most) of the work already done
  5. Asks the questions: What more can we be providing? How else can we help you?
  6. The winner frequently demands more of himself and those around him
  7. You call the client, with a plan (and a great deal of control)
  8. Get what you want on your terms
  9. Loves the challenge and opportunity the client presents and can’t wait for the next opportunity

 Now the million dollar question. How did each scenario make you feel?

The loser feels like a weak-minded loser.  A weak, unenergized, unorganized, negative person.  To me, it is exhausting and draining just reading through the scenario.  IT SUCKS!  But yet we see it every day.

Contrast this with the feelings of reading about the optimistic winner.  An energized, enthusiastic, go-getter and nothing can stand in his way.  He creates his own luck.  This is invigorating.  My eyebrows lift in excitement as I was making my way through the list.  This guy is BADASS!

ACTION ITEM: Anticipating can be a learned skill.  The only investment needed to obtain this skill is focused time and energy.  If you can think about it, you can anticipate it and create it.