Archive for June, 2010

26 jun

Ten Things to Do with Your Prosperity

JayForte“Prosperity-induced padding,” a term used by author Gay Hendricks in his book, The Big Leap, refers those extra 10 or 20 pounds many of us carry around on our frames because we are part of a culture of plenty. There are few places on the planet that have access to the amount and choices of food and resources we have. And though a recession has challenged this for many, we still have more than most.

“Prosperity-induced padding”– how interesting. Prosperity is the thing we work hard to achieve. “Padding” is the thing we work hard not to achieve. What does this tell us about how we use our prosperity? What does this tell us about our choices?

Our success, our prosperity, can allow us to have great things. And we Americans have a preoccupation with food – fast food, gourmet food, ethnic food, natural food, processed food, frozen food, farm-fresh food, food stores, mega-food stores, warehouse food stores, food TV, food magazines, food, food, food. And though eating is requirement of survival, many have taken our prosperity to a new and unhealthy level. Food uses more of our resources than it should, and when it does, other things that could benefit from our prosperity are ignored or disregarded.

Prosperity brings us:

- Time – many have enough resources not to need to work.
- Talents – many have the ability to develop their personal greatness.
- Treasure – many have great financial resources.

So, how do you use these? Consider these other ways to use your prosperity to not suffer from “prosperity-induced padding” and perhaps bring something more significant to the world.

Use your prosperity to:

1. Reorganize and redesign your space to commit to recycling 100% of what can be recycled to tread more lightly on the planet.

2. Insulate your home, replace wasteful appliances, tint windows, update heating or cooling with more efficient products, to reduce your energy consumption.

3. Donate to and support a charity you find personally valuable and meaningful.

4. Buy healthy food for those who don’t have enough, or any – locally, nationally or internationally.

5. Sponsor a child’s education – locally, nationally or internationally.

6 Mentor a child, peer or someone older in what has helped you achieve your personal or professional prosperity.

7. Invent something new and valuable that advances the quality of life, the respect for the planet, improved health, or something else signficant for humanity.

8. Work towards finding a cure for an illness that affects your life or the lives of those you care about.

9. To educate about tolerance, acceptance and respect for differences.

10. To support art, music, literature and other things of beauty that add to the quality of life.

A sign of success in many industrialized countries is the amount of food we have and how much we consume. Notice the amount of food thrown away each day at our restaurants. Notice the aisles of product choices we have in our food store. Notice how easy for most of us to have enough of what we want to eat. And having access to so much doesn’t always make us better. Many times it makes us less healthy, less charitable and less concerned. “Prosperity-induced padding” is what I now call using my “extra” for me instead of for others. And I am committed to ending it – for health and for impact.

So consider returning some of your prosperity back to your world. A little less food can make us all healthier. A little more time, talent and treasures shared with the world, can help others improve their lives. Absolutely celebrate your success and prosperity. But then share this prosperity with others. Another way to say this is, be great, then share this greatness with the world.

Jay Forte is a motivational speaker and performance consultant. He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition, and the on-line resources, Stand Out and Get Hired, and The Hunt for Opportunities Success Manual. He has just completed his new book, The Greatness Zone; Your Place To Live and Work With Power, Passion and Purpose; chapter downloads will soon be available on his website. He works to connect people to their talents and passions to live fired up! More information at

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Posted by Jay Forte on June 26th, 2010 in Family, General, Health, New Directions, Personal Stories, Technology, Things We Love | 2 comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , ,

26 jun

How to Handle Getting Kicked in the Head and Six Other Life Lessons I Learned from Martial Arts

RenitaKalhornBack in the mid-90s,I had just returned to New York after graduating from business school in France. I was feeling a little ungrounded career-wise – I had an MBA but no real interest in typical MBA professions like investment banking or consulting – and so, in the meantime, was temping at a 9-to-5 job.

Being a night owl, I realized, I still had a good six hours after work before bedtime and the idea of taking martial arts popped into my head (like most of my life-changing decisions do). Flipping through the Yellow Pages, I found a taekwon-do school a few blocks from my apartment and signed up for the one-month trial.

Within the first few days, I was hooked, going to class four or five times a week. And for the next seven years that I pursued my first-degree black belt, martial arts training was my anchor — through a myriad of jobs, roommates and relationships — a profound source of lessons and references that I could translate into work, music and every aspect of life.

1. Break down the impossible into the possible. When I first started training, I saw the students with advanced belts leaping high up in the air and throwing flamboyant kicks, and I couldn’t imagine ever being able to do them myself. Luckily, as white belts, we began with a basic turning kick, which was vaguely doable and, from there, almost without realizing, I made incremental progress until it was me who was one of the advanced belts breaking boards with a flamboyant kick.

This has been an invaluable reference that I’ve applied to everything I do. Feeling that awful “how am I ever going to do this?” pit in my stomach when faced with a daunting challenge – whether it’s distilling reams of information into a client presentation, learning the thousands of notes in a Rachmaninoff concerto or memorizing the names of all the muscles and bones for a fitness-certification exam – I remind myself that I’ve done the “impossible” before and I can do it again.

2. Feel the emotion without reacting emotionally. It’s so easy when you’re contact sparring to get angry and take it personally when your opponent lands a painful punch to the stomach or kick to the head. But when anger – or other strong emotion — clouds your thinking, performance suffers (it may also have something to do with the kick to the head). So, I learned to quickly process (not suppress) my emotions, and not let them (necessarily) dictate my actions or demeanor. (P.S. This is a handy skill to have at the office.)

3. If your first attempt isn’t successful, try it again (or something else). I think this may have been said more eloquently by someone else, but in truth, I often fell prey to the illusion that if something didn’t work the first time, perhaps it wasn’t meant to be.

In class, we would learn different kick combinations to counter or initiate an attack. Practicing with a partner, they seemed so simple and effective. And yet, I was frustrated when the combinations didn’t work in actual sparring. What was wrong with me?!

In fact, it wasn’t about finding a foolproof strategy or formula that would work right off the bat regardless of circumstances: it was about tweaking the formula or trying different strategies until one worked. (Hmmm, can you think of other situations where this might apply?)

4. No-one is good at everything. Surrounded by talented students — some who competed internationally, had black belts in multiple martial arts or had been training since they were two years old – they all melded, in my mind, into one incredibly fast, strong, flexible super-human composite. Intimidating and discouraging, to say the least, and not even accurate. As it turned out, everyone had their strengths and weaknesses, and it was a better use of time to maximize what strengths I had than to psyche myself out exaggerating those of others. (Corollary: Stop playing the comparison game.)

5. Energy starts in the mind. As passionate as I was about training, I didn’t always feel like going to class after work. Some nights I would drag myself sluggishly across the mat, shoulders slumped, focused on how I could sneak out early. But then one of the master teachers would appear in front of me with a kicking pad, and I would be miraculously flooded with renewed vigor.

How strange, nothing else had changed; I hadn’t eaten a Power Bar or gulped down a Red Bull. By virtue of the master’s attention, I simply felt inspired to try harder, to show respect by doing my best. That instant energy surge was vivid proof that it’s the mind that tells the body what to do, not the other way round.

6. Persistence pays off in more ways than one. Okay, it’s one thing to know this intellectually; it’s another to experience the confidence-building effects. The black belt test takes about an hour and consists of calisthenics, forms, sparring and breaking a block of five boards with a back kick. No matter how well you perform on the other parts of the test, if you don’t break the boards, you don’t get your black belt. This was the one part of the test I wasn’t able to practice and, as I faced the boardholders bracing for my kick, I was overcome by doubt.

I didn’t break the boards the first time. Nor the second time, the requisite three months later. I don’t think I have ever felt so discouraged and inadequate. But I was determined not to walk away, like some of the other students who never came back after their first failure. It took me five separate tries and hours of practice over the course of a year to finally break the boards, but the intense feeling of relief, sense of accomplishment and confidence in my ability to persist was priceless.

7. Commitment trumps ability. My frustration from not being able to break the boards was exacerbated when I saw students who were less fit or not as strong as me, kick right through with apparent ease. (And I’m guessing the muscular football player who also took several tries to break the boards felt the same.) The difference was they believed they could do it and they didn’t hold back. As the instructors used to say: “Kick like you mean it.”

I have yet to use any kicks or punches in actual combat. But the mental muscles I developed – confidence, resilience, ability to adapt, self-control — those, I have occasion to use every day.

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Posted by Renita Kalhorn on June 26th, 2010 in Uncategorized | 1 comment Read related posts in , , , ,

24 jun

Affairs of the Heart

JoAnnaBoccardI crouched down in the corner behind my bed hoping they wouldn’t see me. Hoping they had forgotten I was there and could hear everything. My parents were having an explosive and angry argument in the other room. I knew my mother was mad, because her usually soft voice was dominating their conversation. Their voices raised and lowered and the words I heard were related to my mother accusing my father of being with another woman. The significant part of the conversation was at the very end when my mother told him to pack his bag and move out.

My father did move out and it felt as though everything in our home was falling apart. I can only assume that they made up because he came back after only a few days. He never again moved out, but I don’t know if he had any more affairs. Regardless of a betrayal they did love each other and remained married for the rest of their lives, maybe because divorce was regarded as something you just didn’t do. After my father died, my mother told me she wished she had divorced my father. I told her that if she had done so, I would have stood by her.


Until my parents had the loud argument and he moved out, I did not understand the full ramification of his behaviors. Sometimes, when my father had an errand to run, he would take me with him. This was exciting to me, since we lived on a small farm and I was always bored. On one particular day he took me to what he called a “greasy spoon” café. He told me that it was his favorite place to eat, as it had much better food than the other larger restaurants. Presumably he had been there often, since the waitress behind the counter and he knew each other.

I watched him as he paid a lot of attention to and flirted with the waitress. It made me nervous and uncomfortable and I kept wishing he would stop. When we left the restaurant and headed for home, he told me not to tell my mother. This would be a secret between the two of us.


Had I not had the opportunity to read the books my father gave me, I may not have understood their argument as well as I did. He gave them to me discreetly so that my mother did not see them. He quietly told me not to tell her. It was our secret. It was another secret that he expected me to never reveal. This was okay with me. I enjoyed the books.

I knew they were hidden from my mother not because they were mysteries, but because they contained some sexually explicit parts. She would not have allowed me to read them.


It seemed that my father let me in on his secret life because he was treating me as his son. I was supposed to have been a boy, not a girl, and rather than continue to feel bad, my father decided I was going to hang out with him. Then it would seem okay, actually maybe normal for him to divulge his tawdry tendencies. So I was treated to something that was for me, a little strange, but because he was my father, I felt it was okay.


There were many smaller secrets, ones that were insignificant when my father would tease my mother. My father had a bigger than life sense of humor. He was always playing pranks on the unsuspecting around him.

My mother would be putting clean sheets on their bed, tucking in the sides, making sure it was perfect. Trying to hold his laughter in and starting to turn red he would look at whoever may be watching, put his finger to his lips signaling to not speak out. He would then divert her attention away from what she was doing. My mother, used to his sense of humor would turn and pretend to scold him by using his full name. This was a harmless secret.

Then there was the time when my father wanted my mother to ride on the new escalators that were recently installed in our department stores. She was very afraid to ride on them, so my father convinced her by telling her that they took the elevators out of the building and she would have to ride the escalator to get to the second floor. He chuckled, turned red and put his finger to his lips signaling to me not to let her in on the real truth. I felt very bad for her. My father was lying to her and I wanted to tell her the truth. But, I knew my father would be very angry with me if I did not go along with his plan.

She was furious with him as she bravely rode the escalator and in front of eyes as she got off was, yes, a working elevator.


I never told my mother about the books nor did I tell her about the waitress. I wondered if the waitress was the one they were fighting about. Had my father had an affair with her?

There was no reason why I should tell my mother about the waitress, or my suspicions. I was their child and I felt it was not up to me to come between the two of them. Obviously, I didn’t need to, as my mother seemed to have figured it out herself.

I became more tolerant and understanding in my observation of the relationships of others and of my own. Of course, there will be arguments, but that does not mean an end to the relationship.


List a time you were asked to keep a secret from someone.

Did you think it was right or wrong? Did you do it anyway?

Did your parents or friends ever have a heated argument?

How did you feel?

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Posted by JoAnna Boccard on June 24th, 2010 in Uncategorized | No comments

21 jun

Follow Your Heart, Quit Your Job

WaniManleyComing Out of Survival- Blog 4. Follow Your Heart, Quit Your Job

Follow your heart and quit your job. Yes, you heard me. You hate it anyway. Follow your heart and quit your dead-end job and go out there and do what you absolutely love. How many of you are at dead-end jobs where you have no future? Jobs that have nothing to do with your likes, interests, zest or what you have the slightest grain of passion for? Jobs in which you’re in it only to pay bills? Jobs in which you are living paycheck to paycheck, barely making it, scraping by? Robbing Peter to pay Paul? Jobs in which every potential client that walks through the door, rather than seeing them as an opportunity to serve their highest good, you see them as your life-line to pay your rent, your mortgage, or your car note? How many of you are at jobs in which you went in it for the money and if you’re making the money and don’t have a life outside of work and you are just miserable? Or worse, you are working like a dog and you still don’t make enough money and are struggling like hell to pay the bills?

How many of you spend all day at your nine-to-five daydreaming on what else you’d rather be doing, surfing the Internet, on the phone, or you’re on Facebook talking about how much you hate your job? On Friday, you’re happy till your heart’s content because it’s the weekend, and then Sunday rolls around and you’re having anxiety attacks because in less than twenty-four hours, it’s the dreaded Monday and it’s time to head back to Camp Misery. How many of you are in the corporate rut, day in and day out, year after year stuck in an office all day long working around the clock for twelve hours or more and still bringing work home with you at night, on weekends, holidays and even when you go on vacation? How many of you are your stressed pretending not to be stressed? Keeping up appearances? Behind that fake smile is a frightened worrying being whose life is falling apart? Stuck in an endless rut? Working for “The Man?” Have anxiety, panic attacks or worse, illness? Exhausted yet? Stop! Stop, and ask yourself, “Why?”

Did it ever occur you to that you can live your life, all of your life including your work life from a place of inspiration rather from a place desperation? What is it that you long to do? What would you rather be doing than what it is that you’re doing now? I know there are alot of people out there who might read this and say “Yeah Wani, I’d love to quit my job that I hate and do what I love. But I can’t. I have responsibilities. I need to make money. I’ve got bills to pay. We’re in a recession.” I hear you and I get it. I totally get it. You see, I was once where you are and I was beyond miserable (with emphasis added.) Not only was I miserable but was severely stressed to the point that my misery manifested into chronic chest pains, which landed me under doctor’s care as well as undergoing a biopsy for breast-cancer.

All I can say to you is let go of fear and take the risk as I did. You will be amazed as to what follows. Things will work out and they do indeed work out when you follow your heart and fulfill its desires and not other’s desires. Trust that when you follow your heart everything falls into place as your heart is where the Divine Plan for your life lies. Here in this energy, things have a way of just working out and at times they do so with effortless ease. Doors seem to just open. People tend to show up in your life that you need to meet, uninvited even. People change. Obstacles seem to remove. Conflict get resolved. Things seem to fall in your lap. Magical things happen. Why? Because you are fulfilling your life’s purpose and when you move in the direction of your life’s purpose, the Universe supports you. It conspires for you to succeed. Things unfold and you move through life harmoniously. Nothing that is built upon and supported by the love of the Universe fails. It is impossible. All of us have been placed here with unique talents and gifts exclusive to just as individually. We have a task, a purpose to fulfill using those gifts and talents. Your Dharma, if you will. It is up to you to seek out what that is and to do it. Until you do, you will never be happy.

So, what are you passionate about? What does your heart long for? Whatever it is, just do it, and if you don’t know what it is then find out. Your job is to find it and then go live it. If you don’t know, ask yourself, “If money were no object, what I be doing?” Do some introspection into your likes and interests. Go deep. At age five or six, what was your answer to the question of what you wanted be when you grew up before some adult or family member told you that you weren’t going to make any money doing that and steered you into becoming a lawyer, a doctor, an engineer, or some other “noble” profession. Once you’ve discovered what you’re passionate about, find a way to make a living doing it and just do it, and do it with love and service. What’s more, don’t’ be fooled into thinking that you can’t make any money doing what you love either, because while you’re busy making excuses as to why it can’t be done, somebody else is already doing it and getting paid .

You have control over what you choose to do in everything that you do. You have the choice and it is just a decision. Do not let fear grip and overtake you. Do not also get stuck in your identities or social or peer masks because that is not who you are. These identities keep your music inside of you, yet torments you as your deepest desires left unfulfilled. Why continue to live, or worse, leave the body at the end of this lifetime with your music still left inside of you? Why suffer, or be in bondage? Why be miserable? Why be stressed? If you’re going to suffer, held in bondage, be miserable or stressed, why not experience these states from a job or career that you truly enjoy and love doing. Deborah Gregory, author of the book series, The Cheetah Girls, says it best. That is, “If a job isn’t worth dreaming about, it isn’t worth having.” And, if money, or the lack thereof is Issue No. 1 for you then know that you cannot and will not acquire wealth working at a job you do not like or hate. When you are doing what you love, people will pay you handsomely.

Do what you incessantly talk and think about. Do what you’d rather be doing. Do what you wish you were doing. Do what you read about. Do what you daydream about. Do what inspires you, what motivates you, what uplifts you, what elevates you, and what radiates you from within. Just do it and don’t limit yourself. You are boundless, limitless, and incredibly powerful. Remind yourself at all times that we live in an “and” world and not an “either-or” world. You can do it all, have it all, and be it all. The time is now and in this moment for you to do what you love and what your heart desires. Whatever it is, do it with love and service for the highest good for not just you but for all of your fellow beings. So, get out there and follow your heart and pursue your dreams as best you can for as long as you can. While you’re at it, take Thoreau’s advice and go confidently in the direction of your dreams and desires. Live the Life you’ve imagined.

Wani Manly

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Posted by Wani Manly on June 21st, 2010 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

21 jun

It Was Only a Sip of Wine

JoAnnaBoccardI stood in the living room next to my aunt and felt my mother come up behind me. Before I knew it, my mother had taken the glass out of my hand and retrieved the bottle of wine from my aunt. She had been watching as my glass emptied my aunt filled it. I’m not sure if my aunt realized that she should not be filling my glass, after all I was only 10 years old. Perhaps she had herself been drinking too much and figured that behind an empty glass was a thirsty person. I heard my mother’s angry voice scolding my aunt and at that point I was feeling a little dizzy. It seemed that this incident was the catalyst in changing my mother’s mind about my being skinny and unhealthy, because I never had to have a sip of wine again and she stopped taking me to doctors.

For some reason my mother had decided that I was too skinny, therefore I must not eat enough and I must be unhealthy. Every doctor she took me to told her I was fine, I was healthy and for her not to worry. That didn’t stop her. She kept on until she finally found a doctor who would agree with her, telling her the way to make me eat more and gain weight was a sip of wine before dinner.


My mother’s concerns evolved into a pattern in my life. If I did not eat everything on my plate, it became an issue with whomever I was with. I severely upset a man I was dating when we went to a buffet for a meal. He was buying the meal and he told me I was to put plenty on my plate and eat it all, because he was not spending his money on me if I was not going to take advantage of the full meal. As he told me this, standing in the buffet line, he physically pushed me to the point that I lost my balance. He knew from past experiences that I never ate a lot and if there was too much on my plate I didn’t eat it. To him this was wasteful.

Another time, a man I was with became angry because I told him I was not going to drink anymore. People at our table were buying rounds, and I kept saying no even though the drinks were lined up in front of me. I did not conform to their demands even though I knew that when we were alone he would be even more angry with me.

It is frightening to hold my own with people who insist I live my life their way. I get angry when they tell me to eat my food or to consume all the drinks in front of me, but I don’t give in.


Eventually, these resonating concerns of my mother took hold in my mind in a different way. Now I eat everything I put on my plate due to fear that I might be really hungry later. If there is no food, what will I do? If I don’t have time to eat, what will I do? These thoughts and concerns contribute weight gain. I eat when I don’t need to, I eat too much for fear I will starve, then I feel guilty and console myself by stopping at a fast food drive-in. I do this when I am working at my job, because when I am there, I have no opportunity to eat for as long as six or seven hours. I work from morning until mid-afternoon, and these fears begin at breakfast. I fear I will be hungry, so I overeat. When I get home, I am starving, so I overeat. I know that in a few hours it will be time for dinner and I will force myself to eat even though I am not hungry. This pattern creates havoc with my metabolism and digestive system. There is no way to change the way my job is set up, it is what it is.

To feel good, I make better choices. When I am not at my job, I eat several small meals a day to keep my blood sugar level stable and improve the functioning of my digestive system. I know from experience that my body has to work overtime to digest a large meal, causing me to feel sluggish after I’ve eaten. Instead, I can eat small nourishing meals, which makes me feel good and energetic.

I prefer one drink or none at all. I believe that alcohol tends to mess with one’s mind and I really like having a clear mind at all times.

If I am mindful of what I am doing, I tend to stay healthy both physically and mentally. I follow a to-do list for exercise and healthy food until I get into the habit.

It seems to be difficult for some people to accept me as I am. But, I can choose to ignore their opinions and make better choices by turning the fear-based messages that my mother gave me into positive messages. I’m not “too skinny.” I’m “slender.” There is nothing “wrong with” me. I am who I am.


  • Are there things about you that are different from other people you know?
  • Do others make you feel bad for being different? How do you manage their opinions?
  • List the times that others have tried to control you.
  • List the ways you can start to take back the control of your life.
  • Take one step toward taking back control today.

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Posted by JoAnna Boccard on June 21st, 2010 in Uncategorized | 1 comment

21 jun

Trust Is Granted Not Earned

MikeRobbins96How easily do you grant your trust to other people? What factors play into your ability or inability to trust certain individuals around you? What do people need to do to earn your trust?

As I personally reflect on these questions, I’m reminded of both the importance and complexity of trust in our lives, our work, and our relationships. Trust is one of the most critical elements of healthy relationships, families, teams, organizations, and communities. However, many of us have an odd or disempowered relationship to trust – we’ve been taught that people must earn our trust, when, in fact, it’s something we grant to others.

I learned early in my life that it wasn’t always safe to trust people – my folks split up when I was three, I went to tough schools and found myself in some difficult situations, and part of my “street-smart, survival kit” was to be very suspicious of just about everyone I came into contact with. While this did serve me to a certain degree as a child and adolescent (at least in terms of survival), as I got older I noticed that my resistance to trusting others created some real issues in my life and my relationships.

No matter how many “tests” I put people through in order to have them “earn” my trust, at the end of that whole process, it was ultimately up to me to grant them my trust (or not) – and then to continue to trust them (or not).

We each have our own internal process about trust – much of which is based on past, negative experiences. In other words, we get burned, disappointed, or hurt in life and then decide, “I’m not doing that again” and we put up barriers around ourselves to keep us “safe.”

While this makes rational sense, it usually leaves us guarded, leery, and insecure – unable to easily create meaningful and fulfilling relationships with people. The irony is that no matter how guarded we are, how thick the walls we put up, or what we do to try to keep ourselves from getting hurt and disappointed; it usually happens anyway.

One of my teachers said to me years ago, “Mike, you’re living as though you’re trying to survive life. You have to remember, no one ever has.”

What if we granted our trust more easily? What if we were willing to make ourselves vulnerable, to count on other people in a genuine and healthy way, and to expect the best from others authentically? Michael Bernard Beckwith calls this being “consciously naïve,” which may seem a little oxymoronic on the surface, but at a much deeper level is very wise and profound concept.

Will be get hurt? Yes! Will we be let down? Most certainly. Will people violate our trust? Of course. However, this will happen anyway – it’s just part of life. Ironically, the more we are willing to grant our trust consciously, the more likely we are to create a true sense of connection, cooperation, and collaboration in our lives, relationships, families, teams, and more – even if we feel scared to do so or it seems counter-intuitive at times.

We almost always get what we expect in life. What if we start expecting people to be there for us, to do things that are trust-worthy, and to have our backs and our best interests in mind? As with just about everything else in life, it’s a choice. As Albert Einstein so brilliantly stated, “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.”

I choose “friendly,” how about you?

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info –

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Mike Robbins on June 21st, 2010 in Uncategorized | 2 comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , ,

14 jun

Marketing from the Inside Out to Win Buy-in and Succeed at Change

MichelleKerriganI read a line recently, “Everything is marketing.” How true. We all have the potential to influence people every day. If you don’t believe that, you probably don’t buy products, share opinions with friends, or have a Facebook page.

I’ve worked with marketing companies my entire career—two powerhouses, one startup—and have executed some amazing campaigns for some amazing clients. A great deal of time and money goes into building a brand, gaining attention, and telling a story to consumers. But what goes on inside the brand? And is anyone supporting it?

Here’s the bottom line: a company’s success is largely based on what its employees do (or don’t do), just as much as what their customers do (or don’t do). So where’s the marketing to employees? How are they being influenced? Today’s tactic of “you’re lucky to have a job” is wearing pretty thin. Coercion is not the answer to winning in the marketplace; maybe marketing from the inside out is.

One of the many things I was asked to change when I led operations at the startup was Customer Support. I had heard a lot of complaints about their lack of knowledge regarding product, policy and membership, their inability to get issues resolved, and their habit of giving away credits (a.k.a. revenue) to soothe angry customers. So, I was very apprehensive accepting this new challenge.

The team was based in California (our headquarters were in New York) so they were far from the everyday action—a difficult situation in any large operation, impossible in a startup where change is an everyday event. It seemed like everyone in New York had something to say about this group, but very few people actually interacted with them. Why??

Here was a team of support agents who were fun, flexible, positive, social thru and thru, and passionate about our product and all kinds of media (music, movies, TV, web). In short, they were our target audience. And, one more thing—the perfect change agents.

Customer Service is Marketing and is Change. It’s where the rubber meets the road, the best advantage point of influence. Yet, it is often overlooked and underutilized. Many companies find the word ‘service’ boring. So it is not surprising how little support customer support gets—another change that has to happen if businesses want to succeed. They don’t see that customer service is change management at its finest, that the same elements needed for employee buy-in and great service—communication, participation, education, support, commitment—-are the same elements needed for customer buy-in and great sales.

Just think of all the companies you love and hate, and why, and I’ll bet your customer service experience played an enormous role in making up your mind, or changing it. Correct?

So, I knew I needed to begin a dialogue between Customer Support and Marketing, Customer Support and Product Development, Customer Support and Merchandising….you get the idea. Whether you’re influencing employees or customers, the dialogue has to be continuous, connected and contagious to work. Marketing from the inside out is effecting change through exchange. The success you have with your internal audience will help you win your external one. Satisfaction guaranteed.

Our VP of Marketing and his team got Customer Support involved in everything we were doing, and a great exchange of ideas and enthusiasm happened across all levels. We discussed customer wants and needs, new feature buzz, targeted campaigns, and product development. We shipped our latest store merchandise out to California so they could see and feel what we were selling, and flew our product manager out to train agents for a new launch. The agents tested new products and shared invaluable feedback from our customers’ point of view which helped us tailor our offerings the right way. Everyone was focused, collaborating, and on the same page: exactly where you want your customer to be.

Marketing rewrote our entire knowledge base, and we began a new story, from the inside out.

It is the job of today’s business leaders to market from the inside out, to take every opportunity to influence employees because, after all, they’re customers too. Begin the dialogue, open doors, get people involved. Share marketing ideas, do internal market research, get product feedback. Create a culture that is customer responsive by being employee responsive.

Be the brand you want everyone to identify with. Your best campaign could be sitting right in front of you.

Marketing has been defined as: “the whole company, taken from the customer’s point of view.”

How do your employees see their company?

Copyright 2010 Michelle Kerrigan

For over 25 years, Michelle Kerrigan has been helping organizations and individuals improve performance and productivity in the day-to-day workplace. A trusted expert who uniquely combines extensive leadership and operations experience with powerful coaching and organizing techniques, Michelle helps clients develop skills and confidence critical to the bottom line. More at

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Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on June 14th, 2010 in Career, Global/Social Change | No comments Read related posts in , , ,

13 jun

What Went Right?

JayForteI hate to wait in line; I will avoid crowds like the plague. So when I have to do an errand at a big home center, I always choose an odd hour. I love that they are open at 6 am. And I don’t mind being the first one there if it means getting my errand done in hurry and without crowds.

So, let me set the stage – a Saturday morning, up early at one of the large home centers in South Florida. I needed three cabinets to mount on the wall of the garage to get things off the floor and out of sight. This has been on my to-do list for nearly a year. Today was the day to get it off the list.

But before I take you quickly through the event, I want to draw your attention to something. We do so many things during the day that work out well – the things that go great. But I find in looking at my own attitude and talking with others, we seem instead to notice and dwell on the things that did not go right, even if there were many things that did go right.

So here is my event. Let’s keep track of the things that went well (Good Thing – I’ll use “GT”) and things that did not (Bad Thing – I’ll use “BT”).

The normally busy highway had few cars and it was an easy ride (GT).

The store was open early and the parking lot had available parking near the door (GT).

The product I needed was not well labeled so it took 10 minutes of wandering to find what I was looking for (BT).

I locate the cabinets I need and the price is reasonable (GT).

There aren’t any of what I need on the shelf; plenty of other sizes but not the ones I need. (BT).

The staff member finds what I need on a higher shelf and prepare to use a forklift to retrieve them. (GT).

I find another brand of cabinet (already preassembled – I can save time and just hang them when I get home, not need to assemble them too) and get help loading on my cart (GT).

I go to the checkout and am the only one in line (GT).

I bring the preassembled cabinets to the car – they don’t fit in any configuration I try (BT).

Okay, stop for a minute. Count the GT’s, and BT’s. Six good to three bad. And at this moment, my only thought is how I hate this event. But actually, things have been great. Why do a few bad things overtake so many good things? Hold that thought. Back to shopping.

I reload the cabinets onto the cart and am now furious about having to return the pre-made cabinets and buy the ones that will need assembly. I now have to do this errand again, as if the first time (BT).

There are no other customers at the return register and they easily process my return, and laugh with me about how some things just don’t work out right (GT).

I find the cabinets I need, get help and they pull three down for me with the forklift truck in a matter of moments (GT).

I go back the check out register – only one customer in front of me in line with a small order. When it is my turn, the woman who initially processed my order recognizes me and looks at me with a face asking for an explanation. We both laugh at the event (GT).

These boxes fit beautifully in the car (GT).

I get them home to find rough packaging damaged one of the cabinets (BT).

I know how to fix what happened to the damaged cabinet and do not need to bring it back to the store (GT).

I follow simple directions and build all three cabinets quickly and easily. (GT).

In another 2 hours, three cabinets are up on the walls in the garage and I get to see the garage floor for the first time in a long time. (GT).

Okay, I know this was a mundane event but realize we are constantly assessing our situations and determining whether they are good or bad. The bad events trigger our defense mechanisms, so the more we focus on what doesn’t go right, the more we activate our fight or flight responses.

Fight or flight is designed to make us efficient at protecting ourselves by amplifying our circulatory system, enhancing our senses and being prepared to defend or run. When our systems shift into fight or flight mode, the rest of our normal systems (those that keep us in balance – homeostasis) are interrupted. And the more we stress and focus on the bad things (BT), the more we constantly activate this fight or flight internal response and the more we suppress our normal health functions and immune system – we get sick. It is actually far more complicated than that but the thing to remember is that when we focus on what went right, we activate a better health response than when we focus on what went wrong. And this response is our choice.

Even though I know this, when a neighbor saw me putting the cabinets up, I went right to the part of the story where the cabinets didn’t fit and basically I had to do the purchase event twice. Then I stopped myself and summarized the great things that happened and that the project was done sooner than I expected.

How do you turn the negative into positive?

  1. Focus on what went right instead of what went wrong. If you are starting to lose your cool, stop! Then list 5 things that have gone well in the last 5 minutes, 30 minutes or hour. Learn to focus on the successes.
  2. End your day with a “what was great today” list. Celebrate great things. Celebrate great responses. This allows you to approach your rest period in a grateful and generous way.
  3. Improve your language of appreciation. Speak kindly to yourself and to others. Notice great things others do and comment on them. Notice the impact on yourself and others when your language moves from negative to positive.

Approach every event with a challenge to stay calm, maintain your cool and find the good things. There are always great events – we just have to focus on what went right instead of what did not. It is our choice to be upbeat and positive. And if you look at the science connecting health and emotions, you will see that one of the greatest things we can do to stay healthy is focus on what went right.

Jay Forte is a motivational speaker and performance consultant. He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition, and the on-line resources, Stand Out and Get Hired, and The Hunt for Opportunities Success Manual. He has just completed his new book (due out in August 2010), Happiness Matters; Know Yourself, Find Your Fit and Transform Your World; chapter downloads will soon be available on his website. He works to connect people to their talents and passions to live fired up! More information at

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Posted by Jay Forte on June 13th, 2010 in Career, Family, Health, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Spirituality, Teens | No comments

11 jun

Harvesting Confidence

ScottSchwenkWhy does confidence seem so easy for some and yet so completely elusive for others?

Are the people we see as confident truly standing deep and firm in their own boots?

How do the seeds of confidence get planted, nurtured, and radically expanded?

First off, let’s dispel the tidy illusion that so many of the people you see walking tall are actually steeped in deep abiding confidence. A majority of what you think you see are the images people are projecting and wanting for you to see. These visions are largely smoke and mirrors. What passes for confidence on the street is usually some form of arrogance, otherwise known as insecurity dressed up in its Sunday clothes.

In the moments when you yourself are not confident, you can be easily fooled by imagery. Your own insecurity will be the lens through which you view life and people. If this is your case, you may not fully recognize the distortion until you experience points of view free from this energy-draining filter.

Abiding confidence arises through the visceral knowledge of who and what you are. Achievements and honors from the external world only build long-term confidence when they stimulate this inner recognition of your true nature.

If you don’t regularly taste this well-spring of confidence, you’re likely to be missing discipline around some form of meditative practice that actually reveals this true nature to you on a consistent basis. Consistency is the key.

One of the best practices I know of for getting a meal of Truth is meditation. Some form of daily (ideally twice daily) meditation. The most transformative forms of meditation I’ve come across are ones that encourage letting go of control and release the meditator from the rollercoaster ride of thoughts.

For this reason, I’m a big fan of active breathwork. It so quickly engages the parasympathetic nervous system and alkalizes the body that the thinking mind lets go, relaxation runs deep, and the heart opens. Imprinting the mind and body to trust this opening is the biggest part of my work in revealing Truth within.

Without this constant contact, you’re lost. All that’s left is to negotiate and barter with the external world for temporary energy spikes, brief moments of respite through food, sex, shopping, drugs, alcohol, caffeine, and other stimulants.

If happiness and confidence are dependent on another person, place, or object, they’re not yet abiding. They’re temporary, and like all temporary things, can instantly be taken away along with your sense of self. What follows is some form of drop in energy that will likely have the hallmarks of depression.

The challenge in all of this is in cultivating enough belief in what’s possible to take actions, and take them consistently enough to have experiences of growth in confidence. Which comes back to practices that bring what’s possible right into the foreground of your direct experience.

There are plenty of people working to grow confidence. So why isn’t the work proliferating? One reason is gossip.

Gossip is an investment in other people’s energy and opinions at the expense of your own rooted sense of Self. And it can also appear as listening to and believing those niggling thoughts in your own mind about yourself or another.

Gossip is like kudzu in the South. It will spread and spread and choke out anything not like it self, sucking up the water and nutrients for miles and miles.

If you listen to gossip and engage with it (internally or conversationally), your confidence can only go so deep, your sense of Truth will be distorted, and your capacity for intimacy nowhere near what it could be. This is simply because gossip creates separation between people, and when you sow separation, you yourself experience separation.

A Course In Miracles states that “All minds are joined,” so what you do to one you do to All.

My friend and mentor David Elliott spreads a well-known magnifying glass in other words, “How you do anything is how you do everything.”

Gossip is rooted in a hidden fear of intimacy, a fear of repeating past hurts. The irony is that gossip sows the seeds deeply for future suffering.

Every seed must bear its fruit. Which ones will you plant and nurture?

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Posted by Scott Schwenk on June 11th, 2010 in Health, New Directions, Uncategorized | 9 comments Read related posts in , ,

11 jun

Are You Willing to Be Uncomfortable?


How comfortable are you with being uncomfortable? I know this may seem like a paradoxical question, but it’s not. In fact, Michelle and I took a workshop this past weekend where they emphasized the importance of being uncomfortable – related to expanding our growth, success, fulfillment, and more.

Over the past few days I’ve been taking some real inventory of my own life and looking at how willing (or unwilling) I am to be uncomfortable myself. I notice that in certain areas of my life, I’m quite willing to be uncomfortable; while in others, not so much.

There seems to be a direct relationship between my willingness to be uncomfortable and how much excitement, creativity, and abundance I experience in a particular area of my life (both now and in the past). In other words, the more willing I am to be uncomfortable, the more I find myself growing, accomplishing, and transforming. On the flip side, the less willing I am to be uncomfortable, the more stress, resignation, and suffering I experience.

Our egos are highly trained at keeping us “safe” and making sure we avoid any and all “risks.” However, it’s difficult (if not impossible) for us to take our lives, our work, and our relationships to where we truly want them to be if we’re not willing to be uncomfortable in the process.

Being uncomfortable doesn’t necessarily mean that things have to be overly painful, dramatic, or challenging (although sometimes they will). When we’re uncomfortable it’s usually because we’re doing or saying something new, we have something important at stake, or we’re taking an essential risk. These are all beautiful and critical aspects of life and growth. Think of the most important areas of your life, your work, and your relationships – I bet there were and still are elements of these important things that are uncomfortable for you.

When we’re willing to be uncomfortable, we lean into our fear, try new things, and go for it in a bold and authentic way. It doesn’t mean we know exactly what we’re doing (in many cases we won’t). It also doesn’t mean we won’t fail (which, of course, we will at times).

We all have the capacity to be uncomfortable – we’ve been doing it our entire life (learning to walk, talk, ride a bike, drive a car, do our work, and so much more). However, instead of trying to “survive” the uncomfortable aspects of life – what if we embraced them, acknowledged ourselves for our willingness, and even sought out new, unique, and growth-inducing ways to make ourselves uncomfortable consciously?

Here are a few things you can think about and do to enhance your own willingness to be uncomfortable.

1) Take inventory of your life. Where are you willing to be uncomfortable and where are you not? The more honest you can be with yourself about your own willingness (or lack thereof), the more able you’ll be to make some important adjustments and changes. Be authentic and compassionate with yourself as you make this inquiry.

2) Identify your fears. There is always a specific fear (or a set of fears) that exists underneath all of our resistance. When we’re not willing to be uncomfortable, it’s usually because we’re scared. If we can admit, own, and express our fears in an honest and vulnerable way, we can liberate ourselves from their negative grip.

3) Create support and accountability around you. The best way I know of to challenge ourselves and step out of our comfort zone, is to elicit the support of others and make sure we get them to hold us accountable. There may be important things for you to do – that you know will take your life, work, and relationships to the next level – but they seem intimidating (i.e. uncomfortable). Getting people you trust and respect to help you, coach you, and push you is one of the best ways to make it happen – even and especially if you’re not sure how, or worried you can’t do it.

Being uncomfortable is, well, uncomfortable. But, it’s one of the most important things for us to embrace if we want to live a life of real meaning, purpose, and passion.

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info –

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Posted by Mike Robbins on June 11th, 2010 in General, New Directions | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,