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“Keep Ya Head Up”

“Some days you eat the bear and some days the bear eats you

I thought about that for a moment, mostly coz I’m feeling shitty this morning: Tired of the constraints, tired of not knowing and plain tired of this whole mother feakin’ routine. Then there’s the dog…..

Let us pause while I have a temper tantrum.

It is hard to hold your breath for too long at my age.

Nowhere, in that homespun adage is there a rejoinder or corollary that says, “And it’s all your fault!”

If it were, a couple of million people in Puerto Rico would be asking themselves what they did to deserve an earthquake Saturday morning.

More than once in my life I have witnessed and experienced the sometimes “shit happens” phenomenon and as brilliant as I pretend to be, I have no excuse.

Even as I sit here and write I feel compelled to tell you why I haven’t posted in the past week or so. It’s simple and remember I want you to like adore me, so it will bother me if I don’t tell you the “why.”

It is simple. Me meds were adjusted for my anxiety disorder and they threw me for a loop. I’ve had a super hard time concentrating.

I feel like I’ve let you down.

Some days, the bear eats you

As Tupac Shakur, (Not the guy the governor of Kentucky thought was scamming the unemployment system.) said

Keep your head up

Namaste, ya’all

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Do Not Make These Startup Mistake’s (Pssst. I did!)

A few years ago I taught a business boot camp at a local university. It was for people who had business ideas, but weren’t quite sure how to go about implementing them. It was a “how to.”

Everyone in the class had the similar needs:

  • They had an idea and wanted to grow it into a sustainable income.
  • They’d set aside some money to get started but weren’t sure if they had enough.
  • They had a plan. (Kinda-Sorta)

What they didn’t have was “The fourth bullet point.”

How do I make this real? -How does it go from being an idea to a reality?

Here is some of what I shared with them.

You don’t have a business if you don’t ever sell anything. You have a hobby!

Let that sink in for a minute.

Okay?

I’m going to ask you do something that will require a leap of faith on your part. I’m going to warn you that you are going to have to do this over and over, because like your favorite guilty pleasure – It ain’t going away any time soon: Fight the urge to believe that God, The Universe, The Angels and all the Saints are going to do the heavy lifting for you.

I know, I know! you are full of passion, desire and enough energy to supply power to a small country.

Maybe even The Universe.

Know what I mean Vern?

Who do you share it with?

You don’t know. So you fret and worry and wonder just what the heck you got yourself into. Who is going to buy my stuff?

When I started my business I decided the whole world needed me. I mean, why not? I confused love with need.

The whole world may have loved me but the whole world wasn’t buying from me.

They never have and they never will. I am a really great guy but not everyone needs what I offer.

Without your ideal client you have nothing to sell because if no one needs it why should anyone buy it except for the people who “get it.”

“Oh, John, please. This is cruel and unusual punishment. I have no clue who my ideal client is. I’ve tried and tried….”

Look in the freakin’ mirror for gosh sake’s. Read your journal and don’t burst out laughing when you read the things you wrote.

  • What turns you on?
  • What can you NOT live without?
  • What resonates with ya?

People don’t buy a product or a service. They buy us. They buy honesty, integrity and relationships. They buy YOU because you believe in your product or service. You cannot live without it.

Let me share an example with you of someone who nailed it by sharing themselves with their readers. It’s a blog called Defining Yellow written by Kourtney Benson. It’s all spelled our plain and simple and you know almost immediately if you want to follow her. A picture is worth a thousand words. When you click on Defining Yellow I’d ask you to read her ABOUT ME page and her PURPOSE Page.

When you are finished ask yourself if you know who Kourtney is, what she does, and why she does it. Kourtney wants to work with people like herself. That’s who she surrounds herself with. She’s very direct about who she is. So much so, that I wrote and asked her if I could share her blog with you guys.

Forget about your competition.

Don’t research them, don’t spy on them, don’t lie awake at night wondering and worrying about how they are doing exactly what your doing and worse yet that they are brighter and way more good looking than you are They are not going to steal all your customers!

Your business is different from anyone else’s . It’s your DNA. There will never, ever be anyone who is like you in the past, the present or future. The imprint you put on your business is one-of-a-kind!

You are not they and they are not you! Wanna know why?

Your competitions needs are way different than yours and I gotta tell you that many of the shipwrecks I see from new startups come from trying to do what they’re not prepared to do. It’s like going from your church softball team to the major leagues in fifteen minutes.

I know, I know, As one of my sons put it so eloquently: “Why are you stepping on my dreams?”

The people you choose to serve don’t want something from you they can buy ANYWHERE. They want what you and only you bring to the table. That’s the person you want to attract.

Your competition, the people who you worry about? They aren’t worried about you. They’re too busy being themselves. Follow their lead!

Start small and start now.

Once you’ve gotten the “have to’s” out of the way – legal requirements, insurance etc. it’s time to begin planning.

The first question you might ask yourself is “How do I know what I need?”

That’s where knowing and understanding who you your ideal client is – the one your business will serve and what their needs are.

Their needs. Not ours.

Let that sink in as well.

When I fist started my business I was working with a company that hired me to coach it’s management team. They had me on a monthly retainer which made it a really sweet gig. One morning the COO was telling me about a move he was going to make. I told him I didn’t agree with his decision. He told me he din’t really care if I agreed with him or not.

After the initial sting subsided and I worked through what he said I realized he was right. I was looking at things from my perspective, not his. He was doing what he felt was best for him and his team. It wasn’t my company and while my service was appreciated and valued, I wasn’t part of the team.

Let me put it this way. You have a water leak in your basement. You call a plumber and the plumber fixes the leak. You thank the plumber. You don’t want their opinion on how to remodel your house and when they give it to you it just does not resonate.

Start with what you know. Leanr along the way and when you are starting out lead with the best version of yourself and forget all the horse hockey you’ve been reading about.

Be you.

Start small, start now

Success, My Brother Joe, Angels and Homework.

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My siblings and I attended a Catholic grade school that was run by an order of nuns who didn’t tolerate any nonsense —- Period. They’d have given Navy Seals a run for their money

Even my mothers voice quaked a bit when one of them would call the house. My brother Joe and I would sit on the steps and listen to my mother say Yes sister, yes sister. I’m sorry sister. We’ll talk to HIM sister. 

HIM? A sure sign it was me or him. We’d start doing a quick inventory of what sort of trouble we’d caused in the past twenty four hours.

When Joe was in second grade his teacher told my parents that he wasn’t doing his homework. Everything had gone along fine for the first few months of the school year and then mysteriously he stopped turning in his homework.

Naturally worried mom and dad asked for an explanation. Was he sick? Did he not understand what he was being taught? What was it?

His explanation? He’d pray each night that an angel would visit our house and do his homework.

Easy-Peasey lemon squeezy, right?

To the best of my recollection he was told that while he could continue to beseech the gates of heaven for help, he had to start carrying his own water.

Why am I telling you this?

I am privileged to work with people who are committed to improving their lives and their careers. They define success in a lot of different ways and when things get a bit too much and life is a bit shaky, I tell them the story about Joe, the angel and the homework.

I tell them we are all looking for an angel to do our homework. Some of us stand in line twice a week hoping that the lottery ticket we purchase is going to wipe away all of our woes and then we won’t have to deal with life and all of it’s surprises. Some of us pray. Some of us daydream.

I remind them while successful people may call upon angels for inspiration, and guidance, they don’t turn over the keys to the condo.

There’s a lesson here. Of that I am sure.

We are always going to hear the siren song of the easy way until we realize the easy way isn’t easy at all. It just causes us more misery and many of us, like Joe, made it through second grade and went on to bigger and better things He got past hoping for the angels to make him look good and became a successful architect He and his wife Susan have raised two prolific writers and a mathematical genius who gave them four very cool grand kids.

The angels must be pleased.

Have a happy holiday. See you in January

Personal Development Is Not Playing “World of Warcraft.”

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It’s not “Pour water on it and watch it grow,” either.

If someone tries to sell you the magic beans – RUN

Lemme repeat: If someone tries to sell you the magic beans – RUN

Okay, so how do I know?

Good question

Number 1: There is no, one, formula that works for everyone. The exciting part about our personal development journey is the journey! It’s exploring and testing and crashing and burning and having exciting and hair raising stories to tell. It is not paying a kings ransom, watching a video that’s set to auto-play and listening to how someone else’s enlightenment led them to make millions of dollars. That’s Their Story.

Number 2: You can’t buy your personal development from someone else. You have to experience it for yourself. That’s why the first word is “personal.” It has to be carved on your soul and psyche and it has to …………. wait for it…………. mean something to you and only you not the talking head getting ready to sell you the magic beans.

What motivates us is the personal reward, the sacrifice, the knowing at the end of the journey you stand tall and can say with confidence that you accomplished something.

The experience you have in your life may motivate someone else to begin exploring the lint in their own navel and run around shouting Eureka! That’s cool and all, but the true purpose of self-development is for us to dive deep and create behaviors that full fill us.

It’s a really personal experience which is why its called personal development. (Duh!).

Number 3: Patience. No one likes to hear that word, most of all me. I am no different than anyone else scampering around the planet trying to make sense of just what the heck is going on.

I want it all and I want it now.

When it doesn’t happen as quickly as we believe it should happen we do one of two things. We give up believing the journey to a balanced successful life is for us or we start finding fault with anything and everything to justify the inner turmoil.

Sometimes, we even take out a second mortgage in search of a guru who’ll fix us. When all is said and done all we have is a second mortgage.

It takes time. It takes trial and error and most of all it takes commitment and I gotta tell you there are days I’m not to terribly anxious to be committed. I do it because I know one day before I close my eyes for the last time it will come into focus and I’ll see it clearly. Every now and then I take a deep breath and realize I am just a millimeter farther up the road than I was yesterday. It’s within my grasp!

That’s progress

Progress with patience.

Finally, one of my readers wrote and asked if I called myself a business coach why was I always talking about life foundations and getting our stuff together? Shouldn’t I be opining on financial strategies, marketing and the like? ( I do but frankly I fall asleep writing about it.)

Lemme tell you something.

I have been doing this work for twenty years. I have seen people take off with a flourish, stumble a bit, catch their balance and take off again. I’ve seen people give me the old I got this John. Thanks for your help. See ya later. There never was a later. Something short circuited them.

No eyes wide open and all that stuff.

It’s really sorta simple. If there is no structure, no commitment or no balance in our personal life, why should there be any in our career or business life? There isn’t two of us in one skin. The me in my business is the same me that walks upstairs from my office or returns home from a client. It’s not a separation no matter how hard we try to will it to be.

It is not about reading books, listening to talks or climbing mountains. It’s about packing a sandwich and a bottle of water in your back pack walking out the door and heading out on your own, unique journey. It’s the journey designed just for you at the moment of your creation. It’s about me reading me and you reading you and when we do that’s when the genuine Eureka explodes.

It’s what makes me different as a coach. I coach ALL of you, not just the part that has the latest and greatest business idea. What twenty years of working with people and my own journey has taught me is that when you have your personal stuff together or as together as it can be at the moment – your personal finances, your health, your relationships both personal and professional – chances are you’re creating more of an advantage to succeed.

I’ll leave you with this.

The Road goes ever on and on,
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say ~JRR Tolkien

Namaste dear ones.

Come back next week, k?



Building Your Business One Relationship at a Time

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I met Kevin about a month after I decided corporate America and everything that went with it wasn’t my thing anymore. I’d started a business coaching and HR consulting company.

If you’ve followed any of my posts, here, or elsewhere, you know that banner outside my front door would read “I didn’t know my ass from a hole in the ground!”

A friend told me about his boss who he thought could use me. He’d started his business ten years earlier. In the interim he’d built a pretty successful practice with a couple locations and had his eyes set on a few more.

Kevin was one of those people who knew what to touch and when to touch it and if he didn’t touch it chances are it wouldn’t work anyway. During our first meeting he readily admitted that he had no people skills and spent a lot of time in conflict with his team members. They stayed because the wage was good and he offered performance bonuses that weren’t a mainstream practice in his industry at the time.

He mighta been a jerk but he was smart jerk.

We met for coffee one morning and he was“professionally polite.” He told me he didn’t really have a need for my services and gave me a“Thanks for stopping by and have a nice day! Why are you still here?”

Yeah.

He started calling me every now and then, though. He’d ask a question or suggest we have lunch and pick my brain. I never thought much of it because the calls were far and few between. When I’d give him a suggestion I might get an email that said “Thanks for your help. Your advice worked out well for me.”

That was about it. Until one day…………..

The phone rang. It wasn’t Kevin. It was one of his managers. She asked if was I available for lunch?

I coulda told her I was busy, I mean I ain’t a social service agency but Kevin and I had established a relationship by then and BTW, I could have told him “pay me or quit calling me.”

There is a reason I didn’t.

My intuition told me there was some value in establishing that relationship. It could lead to other opportunities. Kevin was and is a leader and well respected in his community and sans the lack of people skills our values, both personal and professional were in alignment.

Marketing Messiah Russell Brunson said in a recent podcast. “Five good friends beats a hundred thousand subscribers any day.” I saw him as potentially one of those “good friends.”

There has to be a relationship first though. I mean I can teach my fourteen year old grand daughter how to sell something but learning to value people is something that takes time.

Anyways………..

When I sat down he looked across the table and said “I guess I need to start paying you, huh?

That relationship lasted almost 9 years.

If I drew one of those things that resemble a family tree he would be the trunk and the twelve or so referrals he gave me over the years would be the branches on the tree. He invited me to speak at a state conference for his industry as well as conduct his management retreats. He introduced me to a whole bunch of folks and even had me interviewed by a trade publication he was on the editorial board of.

Trust is not something you pour water on, stand back and watch it sprout in fifteen minutes. It comes from a cultivating a relationship and that, my friend, takes some time.

I coulda turned away after my first meeting with him or stopped taking his phone calls.

A number of people told me he was taking advantage of me being a newbie.

That, would make me just like everyone else. I ain’t, like everyone else.

I do have people skills and I do understand what it is like to run a business and be a coach and try to figure out stuff all on my own and I know that before I write a check I am gonna make damn sure the person I am writing it to knows what they are talking about. In the beginning Kevin would call every six to eight weeks and ask if I had a minute to talk. It was a test and when I passed that test I was given another one so that by the time he had a real issue he knew the value of my services because he’d seen tangible results from the issues I helped him with in the past.

We don’t create trust on the golf course or at the tapas bar. It comes when people SEE our integrity in action not just hear us blather on about it.

The relationships? It’s why we do what we do anyways. Ain’t it?

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It Begins With a Dream

Saturday was a gorgeous day in a string of gorgeous days we’d experienced over the past week. I decided it was time for a visit to my local farmers market.

Apparently so did everyone else.

The place was packed – Like wall to wall packed. I drove around for five minutes before I found a place to park. Then I had to walk a block to the venue.

As I was approaching the market I heard music. Not recorded music. Live music. A voice and a guitar. Huh, that’s new, I thought.

I came over a small rise and saw a sea of people all angling for the best spot to get their onions and tomatoes.

In the corner was a young woman sitting on a stool, oblivious to the throng around her. She sat with her eyes closed playing her guitar and singing. When she finished one song she took a drink of water and launched into the next song.

I noticed something. No one else was listening to her play. They were pushing, shoving, waving to friends and neighbors and floating past her. No one seemed to notice, much less care.

While I watched her perform I noticed the crowds reaction didn’t appear to phase her. She wasn’t playing for anyone but herself. She knew that one day, in some way, maybe someone else would notice and then a whole bunch of someone else’s would find her message and find that her style resonated with them. She was living her dream and it was her dream. No one else’s. You could tell by the look on her face that it gave her great joy.

We talk a lot about joy and passion and stuff like that but I wonder do we really tap into who we are and what we’re doing in our own unique way?

I’m driving home and thinking about all the times I stuffed my dreams in a neat receptacle and followed the flow of the crowd. I mean, it made me some money but it didn’t feed my soul. Being a child of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s I realized, much to my chagrin, that I’d sold out.

I fell off the tracks when I didn’t immerse myself in my dream. I kept it at arms length. That way, it couldn’t challenge me. It couldn’t laugh at me. I stood back and poked at it, refined, made excuses for it but never asking it to dance with me.

I was an observer, not a participant.

That was my ah-ha moment.

I’ve taken a step back and paused. For someone who’s been working since he was twelve years old that’s a damned hard thing to do. It’s not in my DNA.

For the past six weeks or so I’ve been on a conscious journey to get back to my roots, back to where the dream began. It’s getting back to where I started. A kid sitting in a park, writing poems for people. Someone who believed in the shear joy of life and everything it entailed. Someone who got excited and all jazzed up about the smallest of things that caused other people to whisper about his sanity.

Someone who is happy and fulfilled.

Someone who drinks in the small things in life and unpacks their joy.

In his book The Hero With a Thousand Faces, author Joseph Campbell shares something called The Hero’s Journey. It describes our journey from the known into the unknown and creates a new known. That journey, the journey each of us makes a dozen times or more in their lives is a journey fraught with danger, perils and dissappointments.

It’s also a journey filled with amazing discovery and unbridled joy.

I don’t expect you to be as jazzed as I am, but if you are – Welcome to my dream.

Stay tuned, there is more to come.

The road goes ever on and on, down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the road has gone, And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet, until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
J.R.R. Tolkien

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Success Begins With Learning to Bring Our “A” Game

Our thirteen year old grand daughter had a flute recital a few Sundays ago.

Some of the performers were seniors in high school and had been preforming since they were six. She is in eighth grade.

She was nervous at the start but regained her composure and acquitted herself well. Given the short time she had been playing I thought she did extremely well.

She didn’t concur.

She was mortified.

When we gathered around her afterwards she pronounced that she wasn’t pleased with her performance and looked on the verge of tears. She rattled off a whole list or errors and faults.

Driving home that afternoon I reflected on a time when I felt the same way she had felt after her perfomance.

A few years ago a connection of mine invited me to attend a visitors day their networking group was hosting. I’d been in business for fifteen years at the time and felt more than confident in my ability to impress this group.

When the day came I sat around a table with twenty five other people. Each had a minute to talk about their business. When all the members were finished, visitors had the same opportunity.

Did I tell you I was pretty confident?

When the time came for me to speak I stumbled and fumbled and pretty soon an alarm went off and the timekeeper cried Next person!

I was embarrassed. A large part of me wanted to eat a few more donuts and get the heck out of there, never to return. A voice inside of me said Hey buddy, this is the major leagues!! Guess what? You don’t belong here!

I was tempted to thank the person who invited me, stop at a hardware store on the way home, buy a shovel, dig a hole, crawl in, never to be heard from again. I was hosting a fully catered pity party with me as the honored guest. The more I thought about it the angrier I became. The world the universe, the cosmos was to blame. Everyone but me.

As I sputtered along vowing to get the person who invited me to attend in the first place, the words of Joyce Meyer somehow crept into my psyche. You can be pitiful or you can be powerful but you can’t be both.

Which means what? I answered!

I don’t know about you but when my self inflicted misery is in full tilt boogie mode you better not get in my way. Know what I mean, Vern?

I knew what it meant. I didn’t want to know, but I did. My mom used to put it a little less delicately. Sh*t or get off the pot!

It took a few days a few weeks but I realized my anger stemmed from my misaligned belief that just because I thought I was all that plus a bag of chips the rest of the world hadn’t taken notice !

I went back to that networking group and I am glad I did. In the two plus years I spent with them I learned a lot. A lot about business, life and relationships. I became a better coach because I was with people who challeneged me to become better.

Sometime in the near future I am going to share that story with my granddaughter and I am going to add the three things I learned from the experience.

You deserve to be successful. If you don’t believe in your ability to succeed in life, why should anyone else? The knowledge that we deserve success is a powerful motivator. It’s going all-in. It’s believing that you really can accomplish whatever you want. It sets you apart from those who simply “phone it in.” It means that you know who you are and the price you want to pay to get there and;

You are worth all the effort you invest in yourself. Success is hard work. Don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t. When you believe you deserve success the effort you invest to obtain it almost comes naturally. Practice can be dull, boring and sometimes frustrating. But, just when there is no end in sight, we have a breakthrough. The breakthrough comes from hard work and dedication. IOW(In other words,) There is no magic!

I would stand before the bathroom mirror and rehearse my one minute commercial each week until I felt it was natural and sincere. When I walked into the meeting room I knew what I was going to say and what the impact was supposed to be on my audience. My success came from a lot of boring hours staring at myself in the mirror, week after week, working on my delivery.

You can read all the books you want be inspired by the guru’s and poo-ru’s in the galaxy but it means squat unless you embrace the next thing I’ve learned in life:

You are who you hang around with. It’s so important to choose wisely. The people who invest in themselves and believe in themselves associate with other people who feel the same way. Those people lift us up, they challenge us to be better. They are not the status quo. We learn from them and we copy or emulate their behavior and add our own unique flare.

Those people, the people who lift us up don’t understand good enough! They believe in excellence, which BTW (By the Way) has absolutely nothing to do with the perfection that often causes us to crash and burn. Excellence means you are making your point, walking your walk or singing your song better than the other folks in lock step with you.

It also means that those other people who are motivated and believe in themselves will challenge you to become better.

You have to ask yourself what it is you want from life and when you discover it, devote yourself to getting it.

It’s called bringing your A Game. It’s called being the best you. When we learn that we have learned a lot.

Remember the lesson of the seed too in its sending a shoot down so that it may be rooted and grounded, while at the same time it sends a shoot up to be the plant and flower that shall gladden the world. from God Calling