July 2, 2022

Scratch N' Hope

I was in a store last week buying milk. The woman in front of me had about a dozen plastic envelopes and the clerk had a stack of lottery tickets she had processed on the desk. Winner, loser, free play, ten bucks, play again, loser, rinse repeat. The lady stood patiently as it was tallied. $238 was her take. She said it was a good week.

She then started reciting what she needed for her next haul; and don't forget those scratch tickets! She placed each ticket into its corresponding labeled envelope, paid her money, and she was on her way. I wonder what would happen to these people if they ever won the big one. Would they retire from their career of buying lottery tickets?

Motivating factors 

This has happened before; perhaps it's happened to you. You just want to get your stuff and get home but I was fascinated by this woman. What was her motivation? She can't be up after all the weeks or months or even years she's been doing it, so she is spending money to lose money to spend more. That makes perfect sense. 

On my first trip to Vegas, the two guys behind me on the flight were calculating how much they were willing to lose. They knew it was doubtful they'd be coming home with more money than they went down with but they seemed okay with it. A buddy once remarked on the shuttle driver's comments on his first trip there who said; "Welcome to Vegas, folks. Please keep in mind this city was not built on the backs of winners." 

I've been there twice, both on business trips, and I've spent about $50 on blackjack. My short-lived Vegas career has me up about $450. One night, I hit a bit of a lucky streak. My two buddies kept saying I should keep going. I grabbed my chips, stood up, and walked away. You might win some but the house will eventually beat you. Breakfast on me in the morning and let's go home. 

Gambling on real life

How often do we go for that gig that may be a bit out of reach; ask that woman for a date who may say no; sell the house and move to a new town where we know no one for a chance at a new venture?

We know as we board the plane that we won't be playing Phil Ivey in the World Series of Poker final at the Bellagio but we go anyway. The woman in the store knows her odds and keeps playing. Is it lunacy or hope? Is it the thrill of the chance or the chase of a dream? It does bring up one important question.

How often do we place that bet on ourselves?
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June 16, 2022

Help is on the Way

In my experience, if we are currently faced with something we think we can’t accomplish, we can get clear on what we want, what drives us, and what makes us happy. Then we ask those around us for help, or we freeze in fear and nothing gets done.

The word selfish was always a tough one for me. It conjured up images of self-centered people who would take for themselves at the expense of others. These were loud arrogant people who would think nothing of walking over someone for their own gain. But the word selfish also means being self-aware and self-seeking.

Let's Dig Deeper

To seek more of one’s self is to get to the core and underlying meaning of our existence. And while we get clearer on who we are and what we want, the challenge is not in saying yes but rather in saying no to things that weaken our purpose. 

I've discovered it can be helpful to find a quiet place to focus on what is important. Finding that quite place in this busy lizard brain is my challenge. Allowing gratitude for those who help takes practice. There are people in our lives right now who want to help. 

 We just need to pay attention and accept their help.
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June 5, 2022

Something We All Share

They put a cast on a broken ankle; they give medication to the patient recovering from surgery; they prescribe pain pills for someone with chronic migraines. And yet, the stigma remains with emotional health because you can't see it on an MRI.

Key facts from the World Health Organization.
  • Globally, it is estimated that 5% of adults suffer from depression.
  • Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide.
  • More women are affected by depression than men. 
  • Depression can lead to suicide. 
  • There is effective treatment for mild, moderate, and severe depression. 
I am certainly not a doctor or a science expert but I don't agree with some of these points. I believe almost every human on earth deals with at least one episode in their life. And if it's happening to you, it certainly isn't mild nor insignificant. No one is immune.  

Check the Math

Depression isn't a one stop emotional shop; it is a range. I deal with emotional setbacks often. I work; I have friends; I'm in a wonderful relationship; I function and carry on. I guess that's mild but it doesn't make the struggle any less for me.

A past bad work experience; that presentation eleven years ago; that test I messed up at college. The amount of time I spend beating myself up over things no one even noticed, is exhausting. Some say it's not logical, but it's no less real to me.

Reveal in Plain Sight

Naomi Judd publicly talked about her depression for years. She appeared on camera in various stages of emotional and physical distress. She did it to help others and yet her depression told her the big lie and her life was cut short on the day before she was to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

We need to stop messing around. My emotional hurdles are just as critical as your broken leg. Enough tiptoeing around this health crisis that will take more lives than cancer. And death isn't the only result; most are struggling just to get through the day. This isn't a 5% thing; this isn't some "them" issue; this affects all of us. 

If it's something we share then let's share some help for each other. 
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May 23, 2022

Where Are You Right Now?

The world keeps getting faster and we keep adding gadgets and technology to make it easier which gives us more reasons to stay busier and less time for each other. The pandemic has created more Zoom calls than human connection. We're answering emails at all hours like hamsters on a wheel. There are days when I finally take a moment to look at a clock and it's 4pm. Where did the day go? I love my work but I don't seem to take a breath to gain perspective some days.

I once had a boss who traveled the country to meet with managers like me but was never really in the city he was located in at the time. During our meetings, his face was buried in his smartphone. He would fidget in his chair like a petulant three year old. His eyes would dart back and forth. He pretended to pay attention but it was clear he was somewhere else. The man couldn't sit still for a two seconds.

Busy Being Busy

Years ago, a friend moved to a much larger city. I asked him if he noticed the pace had increased and he said people seemed busier but he was unsure they were getting any more accomplished. A while back, I had a bit of a cold that lasted a few days. I tried to keep up with work but I had one critical realization; the world didn't fall apart because I wasn't answering emails within seconds. I'm not curing world hunger.

Let's heed the wise words of Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes; "We're so busy watching out for what's just ahead of us that we don't take time to enjoy where we are."

Sage advice from a cartoon kid.
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May 3, 2022

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

That won't work. It's a dumb idea. You're too sensitive. You can't do that. Don't dream so big. You aren't mean for great things. Don't be ridiculous. Lower your expectations. 

The stories we tell ourselves are often influenced by the stories others tell us about us. Bill isn't good with math; Sally tends to talk too much; Byron has issues with authority; Janet has no success with relationships; Kyle doesn't socialize well.

Mean What You Mean

Our friends, family, parents, and even our colleagues may mean well but they shape how we feel about ourselves whether their assessments are accurate or not. It's easy to say "don't listen to them" but it takes a lot of energy and fortitude to do that, especially if some of this imprinting has been going on for years.

Far too often, we put others and ourselves in a box. I'm too old, I don't have the money, I couldn't do that, it won't work, it's too late. Easier said than done, but let's accept the past has passed, and take the shot. We could just resign ourselves to letting others build our narrative. After all, they know best, right?

Or perhaps we may enjoy making some new stories.
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April 22, 2022

Sir Ken Robinson

Sir Ken Robinson devoted his professional life to education. He fought tirelessly for a global overhaul of how we teach each other how to think but fail to encourage each other to dance, sing, paint, write, and worst of all, imagine.

Sadly, Ken passed away in August 2020, and we lost a good one! He had a razor sharp sense of humour, gets us to imagine Shakespeare as a 7-year old boy, and shared his unwavering passion for helping people realize their talents. I have included his three TEDTalks - which have been three of the most watched in history.

These are all well worth your time.




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April 10, 2022

Changing Gears

There is much debate on whether the coronavirus pandemic is over. With over 450,000 new cases last week, I'd say it's not much of a debate. It's not over and may not be over for decades to come. 

Over six million have lost their lives since March 2020 and the reason it's not tens of millions like the pandemic of a century ago is because of scientific breakthroughs like vaccines. Despite the suggestion of some, the boogie man did not create this and magic rainbow dust did not find a way to save lives.

Shift and Pivot 

What I'm fascinated by is how many of my friends and close colleagues have taken the last two years to make a shift in their lives. Some have dumped that gig they hated and started something new; some are taking online courses to train in areas they've always wanted to explore; and others are still ruminating but have begun the process that will clearly bring them to somewhere much different than the former "normal". 

After a lot of discussions, I made a shift late last year, and as much as many would think it's a lot to take the leap, it doesn't mean you have to or are tossing all your experience away. Sometimes a small adjustment can give us an entirely new perspective. 

In my case, after over sixteen years in consulting, I returned to a role in a media organization. I do have a few decades of experience in many areas and this role gives me the opportunity to utilize all of them. But it took someone I've known for over twenty years to give me that nudge to take that leap.

Pump the brakes

In my case, I now have a boss and I work on a team and they rely on me as much as I rely on them. I worked for myself for a decade and a half and my boss was my clients. My other boss was the person writing this post who had to fight through self-doubt, ignored emails, dead end prospect meetings, and lots of Thursdays without a paycheck. 

We have had a lot of time to think about this over the past two years. If I can offer some advice; pay attention to the signs whether those are conversations with friends, articles you stumble upon online, or that big dream you promised yourself you'd reach for years ago. If we don't learn anything through this pandemic, then what was the point. 

Not one day of our lives is guaranteed and no one is coming to rescue us, so the question remains what we're going to do about it. You know you can do it. You know you want to see what else is out there for you. The question that remains is the key. 

Are you ready?
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March 21, 2022

The Five P's

Anyone in marketing can recite the four P's which are product, price, placement, and promotion. But how do the four P's apply to company culture and leadership? 

Practice 

Have you ever been to a sporting event or seen a live play or concert? Have you watched a great movie? Do you have any experience meeting someone else who is successful in business? Do you find motivation from people who show talent and prowess in a particular discipline? In each case, someone spent years honing their skills to make it appear effortless. Yet we are quick to criticize from the comfort of our 20oz beer mug in the 300 level. Now think about your skill set and what you can bring to any situation. Did you learn and execute all you know immediately? 

Patience 

If you enjoy writing, reading a good book may give you more determination to work on your own novel. You may know someone who went back to school and emerged with a whole new career path. Seeing others succeed may give you reason to study their process to improve your business. 

Persistence 

It requires working nights and weekends, writing ideas on scraps of paper you later find in the laundry, networking well, reading incessantly while life blends with work. No successful person in history has gotten it right the first time. And no one does it alone.

Play 

There are many ways to be successful. What's important is to be organized and have a strategic plan. It is equally essential not to settle for good enough - that's what the other guys do. It's critical not to rest on the past or think we have all the answers, that's where danger resides. And it's okay to get a little messy once in a while, take some chances. 

Let's add a fifth – Purpose. __________________________________________________________________

March 4, 2022

Boats and Neon Lights

The news reports say it's going to be the worst storm in the town's history. They predict over 50 feet of rain in the less than 24 hours. The sewers will be backed up, homes will be flooded, human life will hang in the balance. The warnings are telling residents to leave town immediately.

The authorities are feverishly going around town to gather up those who don’t have the means to do it themselves and all the while Bill has decided he is going to stay in his home and wait out the storm. 

Check the Forecast

A few hours later the rain is coming down in sheets. Bill is forced out of his home and onto his roof where the water is now five feet deep on his street. Two police officers in a motorboat come by to rescue Bill and bring him to safety. Bill declines their offer and proclaims; “My grandfather built this house. My father raised us in this house. And my family will stay in this house. I'll be fine because God will send me a sign!”

Several hours later, the water is now at Bill’s waist as he struggles to survive on his now submerged roof. Another police boat comes to rescue him and take him to safety. He again says; “No thank-you, God will send me a sign”. The rain intensifies as Bill tries to hang on, but half an hour later, he drowns.

Looking for Answers

Standing in front of the Pearly Gates, shocked and dismayed, Bill pleads to go God; “Why didn’t you send me a sign?” God replies; “Bill, I sent you two boats! What else did you want me to do?” 

We can often miss the help we need awaiting for some sort of divine intervention. The answers we seek don't arrive with neon lights and a map. Sometimes it's a dude in a boat offering a ride to safety.

This is not a story about religion; it's about paying attention. While we bemoan our lot in life, maybe we miss the very things we need to make the changes we want to make? 

Watch out for the boats.
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February 17, 2022

Introextrointroverts Unite

I'm an extroverted introvert who enjoys collaborating in team and group environments but must have alone time to recharge. Some days I prefer to work in my office and the phone calls, emails, and Zooms are enough people for me. In fact, my introverted traits are getting stronger as I get older. 

I am an ENFP (Extraversion, Intuition, Feeling, Perception) which means I am influenced by intuition and external connections. But there is a strong internal piece which is key to process how I feel about things and how they fit into my value system as well.

A Mixed Bag

When I look at the people I spend the most time with, it’s a mix, which is typical of an ENFP as I get energy from others and the varied traits they bring. And some of the closest people in my life are actually introverts. If you know one or are one, you know quiet and impersonal are not accurate descriptions of an introvert. Those in my life are incredibly personable, engaging, and funny. 

Being an introvert does not mean you dislike people and need to be alone all the time. I have a colleague who is an introvert and prefers to solve issues one-on-one in plain language through conversation and collaboration while her boss wants every report in triplicate to outline the effectiveness of the analysis of the plan. One gets energy from relationships while the other can’t operate without reports and structure. 

No Calls Please

One of my best friends – who is definitely an extrovert – is a very successful investment adviser who does most of his work with clients rather than sitting in his office doing paperwork. His energy comes from being with and helping people and he does it all day long. It is funny to note that he hates phone calls and will prefer to text if he has to use the phone at all.

So if you have someone on your team who isn't like you, celebrate that, celebrate them, and get to know their way, their perspective, and their view on the world. Our differences make our lives interesting.

Labels might be good for clothing but not for people. ________________________________________________________________

February 4, 2022

Bringing Our Work to Life

It has often been stated work is for work and if you want to interject something that is happening in your life, do that after work or during lunch, but work is for working.

While we see four generations trying to mix cultures in the workplace plus more telecommuting, virtual teaming, technology, and flex time, we are seeing a shift and the process may not be going smoothly in many cases. I’m not a fan of stereotypes but generally older employees are more resistant to change while the younger employees adapt quicker. The pandemic has forever shifted what work means to a large percentage of us. Some (many/most) companies may never return to the traditional Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5pm at your desk like a worker bee environment ever again.

Smile for the Camera

If you're like me, and millions of others, you spend your day working from home or on Zoom calls. This poses a unique challenge. I don't know about you, but I hate being on camera, so having meetings on TV makes me nervous and self-conscious.

But what is good culture? What does it mean to create a space people from all walks of life and demographics will enjoy and flourish? We know foosball tables and fancy coffee in the lunchroom isn't the answer. But blending generations, mixing perspectives, and allowing life to permeate your company will make it personal. 

How are you?

Through the last two years, we've all heard people say they can't wait until things get back to normal. This is now normal. Virtual teams, employees working from home, remote collaboration, and culture requires much more flexibility. 

The "new normal" featuring work environments with employees working remotely makes culture harder to define. But if we allow each other to bring some of our life to work on those calls and Zooms, we might see more of our work come to life.

It's worth a shot
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January 30, 2022

Count to Four

We all know we are flawed and we all make mistakes. We know we don’t have it all figured out and we never will have it figured out. We know there's work to do because there's always work to do. But part of finding clarity is discovering the joy in our work rather than the never ending deadlines and unattainable finish line.

Clutter makes us nervous and stressed. It derails us from our goals. Clarity can help us find our baseline and silence some of that unnecessary noise. To gain clarity, there are four questions we can ask ourselves and our teams. 

These may make the clutter crystal clear.

1. What do you stand for?
 2. What won't you tolerate?
3. Why do you do what you do?
4. What won't you do? ________________________________________________________________

January 17, 2022

Ready. Set. Then What?

“It's a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you're ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.” Hugh Laurie 

The second anniversary is not far off. It was the day we heard the phrase - Global Pandemic. It began somewhere far away and quickly became something every human on the planet deals with every day. The coronavirus, Covid-19, variants, vaccines, masks, protests, economies, it's all been too much and we're not out of the woods.

Are We Ready? 

When I was a kid, my parents would try and tell me to enjoy life and not get too caught up in the minutiae. I was always close to my mom, but during the last few years of her life, we had even better conversations about her life, my life, and life in general. This is a woman who put me, my sister, and my dad on her back and somehow got us through. She worked from the age of 14 until she retired at 71. She passed away in August 2020 mere months after this global crisis began. She was born during the second world war and died during the worst human crisis in over a century. 

If I had told mom I wanted to be a clown in a rodeo, she would have told me to be the best clown any rodeo has ever had with no judgement. The pandemic has made me more reflective and I put my words to actions late last year when I took another leap in my professional life. I took a shot at something I'd never done before and so far so good. In fact, it's been excellent. Mom was right; don't worry about what others think.

Let's Stop Comparing 

One of the most overused cliches is that no one will wish they had spent more time at the office as they take their last breath. How do we know that? And if we replaced the phrase "at the office" with "going for it", that's a more powerful statement. As Mr. Laurie says, why wait until we're ready to do anything because we'll never be ready. The world has forever changed and normal left the building in March 2020. So let's take the leap.

If we're waiting for a sign, it's right in front of us. Change your career, get out of that crappy relationship, buy the damn car, if you like the hat then wear the hat, eat the cookie, stop overthinking everything. If you want that relationship, go for it. If you want to try that new job, don't wait for an invitation. Put the mobile device or laptop down and do it before you are ready. If we're never ready, then why are we waiting?

That's what makes life so much more interesting.

January 1, 2022

2021: Year in Search

Since 2001, Google has published their year-end review through search statistics, news stories, and videos entitled Year in Search. As you look through these, you'll discover how much has changed and how much has happened in the last two decades.

Here's the 2021 Edition

 

Here's 2020 back to 2001

 

20092008200720062005 • 2004200320022001
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