Choose Your Reactions!

As the quarantine wears on, it’s important to remind ourselves that we can always choose our reactions.

Whatever is happening around us, our mindset is a choice we can make:

  • Positive, or negative
  • Happy, or unhappy
  • Productive, or idle
  • Taking charge, or worrying.

I first wrote about this in March when none of us had any idea how long the quarantine would go on. We still don’t. Argentina, where I live, has recently started to loosen some of the rules.

This week Jim Smith, “The Executive Happiness Coach“, sent me an excellent article on maintaining positivity. in the midst of all this.

Is it the quarantine, the election, the weather, or something in your personal life that’s troubling you? Shake it off! Put it aside, once you’ve done all you can do about it! Decide to be happy. Enjoy life. You have a fixed amount of time in your mortal coil. You can enjoy it, or you can make yourself miserable.

Remember though, that if you decide to make yourself miserable, that’s all on you. If you decide to enjoy life, regardless of your circumstances, that’s your doing as well.

Many people think more money, real estate, or whatever will make them happy. If you’re happy now, yes – you’ll likely be even happier when you achieve a sought-after goal. If you’re miserable now, you’ll be a miserable millionaire or real estate mogul – unless you change your mindset.

Happiness comes from inside you, never from anything you gain or achieve.

Which will you decide? I hope Jim Smith’s article helps you with that decision as the holiday season approaches.

Practicing gratitude every day is an effective means of bringing positivity into your life. For my U.S. readers, we get a poignant reminder of being grateful in our Thanksgiving this week. Hope you all enjoy it. Gratitude has a wonderful effect on you and those you thank. This is a great week to really focus on it.

I leave you with these brief comments so you can get on with holiday planning. Enjoy!

2021 Planning

Thinking about your 2021 plan? My friend, mentor and sales coach, Eric Lofholm, will conduct a free class (December 8, 10, and15) to help you build a plan for 2021. Will you join me there? Click here to register for Eric’s class. He’ll send you a recording in case you miss the live class, or want to review it.

Eric is unique in that his free programs offer solid value rather than just sales hype. He will offer links to paid programs at the end of each session. The body of the class is serious training, and it’s completely free of charge.

Many wise advisors have suggested:

Failing to plan is planning to fail!

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

“Emotional intelligence”, or EQ, has become a popular buzzword in business recently.

What does emotional intelligence mean? I guess you could call it a fancy term for what we used to know as “soft skills”.

Buzzwords seem to turn up in every pursuit employing a unique skill set. People love to throw them around, because it makes them sound smart or hip. Business leadership qualifies as one of those pursuits, for sure.

As a great believer in clarity in communication, I recently found this article by David Finkel. He adds some meaning to “emotional intelligence” by describing important aspects of it possessed by effective leaders.

David lists these traits as consideration for inviting someone to your executive team:

  • Team-building skills
  • Ability to motivate and inspire
  • Self-awareness and self-management
  • Social intelligence
  • Communication skills
  • Skill in navigating differences

A few comments of mine here, to add to David’s more thorough descriptions of these traits:

These skills are all important and they are all linked.

Teamwork happens only in an environment of communication and motivation/inspiration. Is your organization is of a size such that you’re considering an executive team? If so, great teamwork is vital to your success. (It is in every organization, and even more so as you scale up.)

Communication is vital to everything else. Here’s an extreme example of the importance of communication:

Think of a left-brained expert with many technical skills. That person must be able to communicate the value of his/her skills. Otherwise, those skills aren’t very valuable.

In order to have social intelligence (why people behave as they do), you must be self-aware. Why do you behave as you do?

Self-management is about controlling your own tendencies which may be inappropriate in certain situations. This too is an important skill.

Navigating differences (gender, culture, opinions, etc) is vital to the health of any organization. David suggests that exhibition of these traits should be prerequisite to inviting anyone to your executive team. Alternatively, more coaching may get someone qualified and I agree.

If you’re building an executive team, or coaching someone who is, Finkel’s list is a great guide. Of course, there probably are other things to consider in your particular situation. However, this list provides a great basis for any executive group. Add to it to meet your unique needs.

2021 Planning

Thinking about your 2021 plan? My friend, mentor and sales coach, Eric Lofholm, will conduct a free class (3 one-hour sessions) during December to help you build a plan for 2021. Click here to register for that class.

Eric is unique in that his free programs offer solid value rather than just sales hype. He will offer links to paid programs at the end of each session. The body of the class is serious training, and it’s completely free of charge.

Many wise advisors have suggested:

Failing to plan is planning to fail!

Keep The Positive Energy!

Here I focus on a fascinating audio interview with Donnie Tuttle and Keziah Robinson. Donnie styles his interviews as “The Purpose Driven Executive”. Keeping positive energy is key to satisfaction with your results, and a happy life. I truly hope that’s why you do what you do! Keziah Robinson was Donnie’s recent interviewee, She talks about keeping positive energy.

Of course, I recommend you listen to the entire interview to enjoy the thread of her ideas. Once you’ve done that, you may want to go back and review some highlights. Below I’ve pointed some of those out at specific time-stamps. The first short description of each is the specific point Keziah makes. The added notes are my additions to the topic.

3:45 – Business is serving others.. Zig Ziglar said, “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.”

5:30 – Avoid “playing small”. Take “massive action”.

10:30 – Scarcity mindset. Choose abundance instead. There’s plenty for everyone!

13:00 – Seeking perfection: Get it done! The last 10% of perfection usually adds very little value. It also delays your moving on to the next important thing.

14:45 – We get what we expect. Earl Nightingale: “We Become What We Think About”.

16:00 – Reluctance to change. Life is a process of evolution. Stay with it! On second thought, stay ahead of it! You can follow change…or you can create change!

18:00 – Purpose is productivity. You can be productive only if you know, with intention, what you want to produce.

21:00 – Avoid “Energy Suckers”.e.g.

  • Pointless messaging by phone, email, social media, etc.
  • Drop-in visitors, in your office or where you work remotely.
  • Your own thoughts – stay focused on doing the next right thing. Ignore the “chatter” around you, and in the news.

30:00 – Delegate. Each team member adds value by what he provides – and by what she takes off your plate.

31:00 – Make people feel important. One of the most valuable concepts in business. This goes right along with the 3:45 comment above.
36:00 – Recognize your own value. Be your own best cheerleader. You’re worth it! Recognize, and celebrate, your wins, even the seemingly small ones! Each one moves the needle for you, and usually for someone else as well.

40:30 – At the end, whoever has the most friends wins! Your relationships define your life:

31:00 – Make people feel important. One of the most valuable concepts in business. This goes right along with the 3:45 comment above.
36:00 – Recognize your own value. Be your own best cheerleader. You’re worth it! Recognize, and celebrate, your wins, even the seemingly small ones! Each one moves the needle for you, and usually for someone else as well.

41:15 – What do you want to have accomplished in your life? A very valuable reflection!

Have you found this interview valuable and interesting? Donnie interviews new guests every week on a wide variety of topics. Check it out!

What Is Your Core Talent?

Jack Canfield, of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame, followed that blockbuster with other bestsellers. Among those is The Success Principles, a book which Eric Lofholm discussed during October in his free 15-minute daily motivational call.

Teamwork In Action

Last Thursday Eric focused on Canfield’s principle #39, where he reminds us that we each have a core talent. We are so good at that one thing that it’s like “falling off a log” for us. Because it comes so naturally to us, we tend to think it’s not very valuable. Fact is, that thing that comes so easily to you is very difficult for most other people. They’ll pay you, often very well, to do it for them so they can focus on what they do well.

Discovering your core talent takes some introspection, maybe even some help from a coach. Quite possibly it seems so natural that it’s invisible to you. It is in you somewhere, whether or not you’re aware of it! You’re one of few who find it so easy and can do it so well.

Having found what you can uniquely offer the world, your job becomes:

  • Find the people who need and/or want what you do so easily.
  • Craft an attractive offer to provide it as a service or product to them, so they can focus their time and energy on their core talent.
  • Hire other people to do what comes harder for you, so you can focus your time and energy on your core talent.

(For example, I love writing about these subjects. It’s easy and fun for me. I can analyze SEO and edit to improve it, but it’s hard work for me and I don’t like it. So I hire an assistant to do that. He also takes care of some other things I’d rather not spend time, energy and attention on.)

  • Collect the benefits of selling your unique value while you feel like you’re not really “working”. And be satisfied that you’re making a positive contribution to the world.

Keep in mind, others may do the finding and offering I mentioned in the first two steps better than you do. Hire them!Do you like doing that, and do it well? Great – do it yourself!

Stories abound about people who have done something they didn’t really enjoy for years. They leave or retire from that work and do something they’re passionate about. They’re more successful doing what they love than they ever were in their “safe” job!

Assemble a team of collaborators (some may be employees) to do the things you’d rather not be bothered with or that you can both benefit from (e.g. marketing to each other’s networks). With collaborators it often works well to trade services. No monetary cost for either of you, and you both get more effective! How’s that for win-win?

Focus on what you easily do better than most, and that you enjoy.

What you do well and easily, you will enjoy. And usually, what you truly enjoy, you will do easily and well. Let your team do the rest and reward them well when they do their bit well!


Do You Take Enough Action?

Several years ago I was appointed Chief Pilot for a freight airline. We were incurring a high rate of “ramp strikes” – propellers or wing tips striking something on the ramp. Damage! Delays – a mortal sin in the freight business! Management’s patience was wearing thin!

In discussions with many pilots I detected a mindset of “Trying not to make mistakes”. This amounts to focusing on failure rather than success. Gradually we were able to help them shift their thinking. When they focused on a successful result of each mission performance improved dramatically!

Marcel Schwantes is a regular contributor to Inc. magazine. Recently he posted this wonderful brief article featuring the legendary Steve Jobs. As you know, Jobs founded Apple and was arguably one of the most successful businessmen in the world.

Did he get there by doing everything right? Hardly! Steve jobs failed more times than most people try. He attributes his success to his willingness to try. Put a new product on the market. Ask for the order. Ask for someone’s help. In the linked brief interview (1:42) Jobs describes asking for Bill Hewlett’s help when he was 12 years old.

Similarly Micky Mantle, one of baseball’s highest scorers, struck out more times than most players swing the bat. Why did he succeed? Because he swung the bat!

So step up! Ask the question! Swing the bat! Start a business! Take action! Most importantly, believe you’ll succeed! Sometimes you won’t – ask, swing, start again. A famous Japanese proverb: “Fall down 7 times, stand up 8!”.

My friend, coach and mentor Eric Lofholm asks nearly every day, “Are you taking enough action?” That’s a great “gut check”. Sometimes my answer has to be, “No I’m not”!

Connect! Connect! Connect!

As you’ve noticed, I often mine Alex Sanfilippo’s Creating a Brand podcasts for “golden nuggets”. I found a real gem to share with you this week, I think! I hope you agree.

Michelle Tillis Lederman and I have been connected on LinkedIn for some time. Her approach to communication and teamwork fits right in with mine. Michelle refers to herself as the relationship-driven leaders’ coach. When I saw her name on Sanfilippo’s website, I promptly listened to their conversation.

In this interview, Michelle focuses on 3 of the main points from her recent book, The Connector’s Advantage. I bought the book and read the introduction and first chapter. I recommend it! You can buy it at the link above ($9.99 on Kindle)

  • Connectors are open and accepting. Authenticity is a major part of this. You must be comfortable with who you are to be open and accepting. Hiding behind a false façade makes this impossible.
  • Connectors believe in abundance. A scarcity mindset makes deep connections impossible. An example she focuses on in business: When someone else lands the customer you wanted, what’s your reaction? Are you happy for the customer and the company they’re working with? Do you hope to learn something from what the other company did to win this client? A connector believes there are plenty of prospects in the market. They believe the customer that belongs with them will buy from them.
  • Connectors have a generous spirit. This goes with the abundance mindset. Connecting with someone is a gift. Connecting two other people is a double gift. Connections are gifts. Compliments are gifts. Of course, so are physical things. It’s important also to be generous to yourself. Be willing to say no, and be OK with it, when you can’t give as fully as you would like to.

Practicing gratitude with intention is a great way to help yourself exhibit these qualities. A great question to ask yourself often, especially when you’re having a tough day: “What’s the best thing about today?”

Michelle’s belief is that being a connector is always a learned skill. Nobody is born as a connector. No doubt it’s easier for some to learn than others.

When I heard her say this, I thought, “I’m a natural connector”. Reviewing my history though, I’d have to admit that I learned to be a connector. It’s something I learned quite easily. I seemed to recognize the benefits of being a connector without much urging from anyone. However, I wasn’t born with a “connection muscle”. Michelle is probably correct in saying no one is.

What I’ve written here is a mere sketch of what Michelle and Alex cover in their conversation. Check it out!

What Do The World’s Most Effective Leaders Do?

My continuous quest for ideas to help leaders do business better led me to this article by Justin Breen. Justin is the founder and CEO of BrEpic, a PR company that leverages a brand’s unique story to grow. In that work he interviews hundreds of high-performing entrepreneurs.

He’s identified 8 patterns of these leaders that appear repeatedly. I find these concepts appearing often with the coaches and mentors I work with.
Hopefully without stealing too much of Justin’s thunder, I’ll summarize the core concepts in these ideas:

  • Formulaic approach to difficulties and obstacles:

————-Identify, create an action plan, execute, get on with business

  • Simplicity
  • Abundance mindset
  • Vulnerability
  • Confidence (not arrogance)
  • Collaboration

I’ll leave Justin to flesh out these concepts and put them in action for you.

These all appear to be pretty simple ideas. It can be difficult to keep the discipline to apply them when things get tough. A somewhat crude quote I love, which illustrates this concept well, is:


“When you’re up to your ass in alligators it’s difficult to remember that your initial objective was to drain the swamp”.

The source of that quote eludes me. I think we can all relate to it.

Great Productivity Advice from 10 Women Leaders

During the past 20 years I’ve striven to understand ways to make my life more productive. Of course that also makes it more rewarding. Here we often discuss my own and others’ methods for improving mindset, attitude, work routines, and other ways of improving productivity. This issue continues that. We check out Anna Meyer’s assembly of success tips from women business leaders. Anna is an assistant editor with Inc. magazine.

Lately it’s in fashion to focus on women business leaders. My view is that good leaders’ techniques are always worth studying, no matter the leader’s gender, race, skin color, etc. The tips in this article are valuable for all business people. For that matter, they’re valuable to anyone wanting to live a more rewarding life, business or not.

One of the elements of a fully functional life style is an organized morning routine. In a minute I’ll share my own. Among the leaders discussed here, Jeanne David discussed her morning routine in more detail than the others. The great importance I find in morning routines leads me to focus on her section of this article.

Ms. David discusses her morning routine as a means of staying focused when life brings unimportant things into her view. The mind is most receptive in the first hour or two after waking. She suggests reading, praying, journaling, and making notes of gratitude during this time. I can only say “Amen” to that.

My own routine includes those things plus a cold shower, drinking 20 oz. of water, and some light exercise. Not being religious, my forms of prayer are meditation and journaling (including gratitude). The shower and drinking water are in the first 5-10 minutes after waking at 5 AM.

All of these leaders have great suggestions for ways to succeed in business. My focusing on Jeanne David needn’t detract from the value the others offer. I happen to believe morning routines are especially important so that’s where I focused.

Check out all the other great suggestions here.

The coronavirus and the huge amount of discussion around it have occupied many people’s attention. Since few of us can do anything about it, it deserves less of our attention than many people give it. Our focus needs to be on things we can affect. Many of the articles I’ve written in recent months discuss mindset and its importance, especially now.

Is Your Business Thriving, or Struggling, During COVID-19?

Hope you all had a great Labor Day weekend. I imagine there were fewer and smaller barbecue parties than in other years. I hope you were able to enjoy the holiday with your families.

As regular readers know, I’m a huge fan and proponent of coaching in all forms. Anyone who tries to learn a skill without help is making it harder than it has to be. Kevin Ryan of Inc. magazine, tells us here about a company offering on-line sports coaching from Olympian athletes.

Omer Atesman built and sold a fast-growing solar company, then used the proceeds to start The Skills. He enlisted the help of his well-connected former colleague to engage top Olympic athletes. A great example of the value of good connections in business. Working through your network can make good things happen fast. Several big name players and many less-known athletes have signed on. Two, Maria Sharapova (tennis) and Larry Fitzgerald (NFL football), have taken equity stakes in the company. Both are also coaches and advisors.

Tennis great Maria Sharapova is a contributor, advisor, and equity owner in The Skills. As many coaches and observers have pointed out, sports is a microcosm of life and business. Maria discusses the value of the coaching to other pursuits in life.

The companies who do well in the COVID-19 era are those whose leaders think “out of the box”. Those who pivot to offering new and adjusted services and products. Often this means attractively offering something on-line that’s traditionally been delivered over-the-counter or in-person. The Skills is a good example.

We’re seeing here several aspects of the concept of working with your network to get things done. In some cases you pay for that help. In others, it’s a win-win transaction among friends and associates. So find the people who have the skills and/or connections to help you.

And enlist their help!

Do You Value, and Nurture, Your Friendships?

John Stevens

Friendships! Positive relationships! How much do these elements matter in business? In health? In happiness? I suppose many people might agree that they’re important for health, especially mental and emotional health. Probably most people would agree that they’re important factors in happiness. But in business?


According to Shasta Nelson, they’re just as vital for business as for other areas of life. Give a listen while she explains all this in an interview with Alex Sanfilippo. Scroll down on that page for related links and textual explanation of some of Shasta’s ideas.

My Birthday Party in 2017

Many entrepreneurs describe themselves as lonely. Shasta starts her discussion by defining loneliness. It’s recognition that more is possible in personal relationships than we’re currently experiencing. It’s often not a lack of social skills – just a matter of seeing other things as more important. We may be communicating with many people in business. However, we don’t have enough or strong enough ties with people we want to be more intimate with. Shasta says studies show 70% of our happiness comes from relationships.

She also reports that many medical people find loneliness to be the prime factor in many serious ailments. Proper sleep is the only factor which may be more important to overall health than how supported and how loved we feel.

Entrepreneurs may experience this more than some others. According to Shasta though, 61% of all Americans describe themselves as lonely, so entrepreneurs are not alone in their loneliness,

Alex relates a story about an acquaintance who died in his early 70s. Outwardly this guy appeared to be very successful – in business, in finances, etc. He told Alex during his later years that he realized his life lacked in friendships and close relationships. He was sure he’d have been happier and healthier with more close relationships. He regretted his inattention to those things.

A little aside: This all supports my belief that my tranquil life among friends in Argentina might well add 10+ years to my life-span.

Shasta defines “frientimicy” – the close relationships in our lives that are unrelated to romance. She says the lack of frientimicy is much more prevalent for men than for women. I agree. And…they need it just as much as women. Men are culturally discouraged from pursuing these relationships. Perhaps they’re also less inclined. If so, social cultures support that disinclination.

Shasta has polled 15,000+ people on how they rate the friendships in their lives. Average self-scores are about 6.

That’s too low! The three things she says are most important to meaningful relationships are:

  • Consistency
  • Positivity
  • Vulnerability

Look in these areas to see how you might improve your frientimicy. And remember to include your business life as well. Contrary to some people’s belief, you can be friends with those you work and do business with. Some of those friendships can have great depth. Well-run businesses recognize this and promote supportive relationships.

We need to have a mix of relationships where these factors are present in varying degrees. We need some frientimate relationships and some more distant ones. As in most things in life, variety is important.

Shasta explains these concepts in more depth and thoroughness than I can in this short message. I recommend you listen to her interview with Alex to get her full import. It’s about a half hour long and well worth your time.

This relates loosely to the article I wrote a couple of weeks ago on the subject of “play” in addition to, and part of, work. I’ve posted other articles on related subjects on my blog page. Search for relationships – you’ll find several.