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November 2012

Even our Networks are Obese

As we slurp up the last bit of the gravy and pumpkin pies, I want to talk about our weight---Thanks John!

A colleague of mine manages a large annual betting pool to see who will lose the most weight between Thanksgiving and New Years. A foolish incentive to eat a lot of turkey to establish the base weight and then the diet begins. We do over-indulge. And we do over-promise ourselves to get into better shape. The result is extra weight, from a little unwanted ponch to larger quantities of former food residing within us. As a country, we are weight watchers. We wait and watch our weight grow. We are bigger, slower, and unhealthier. Just saw this report that showed that new immigrants to the US are in better shape than the average American until they start eating like us. And then their BMI and health vitals begin to "normalize" and they become unhealthy too. Obesity

Its interesting that all of the medical studies show if we hang out with overweight people we have a strong tendency to eat too much and gain weight too. But if we congregate with slimmer folks we are only slightly more likely to lose weight and eat more healthful foods. The dark side is strong! Negative habits have a greater attraction than the positive ones.

Our networks also reflect our habits, our qualities, our pasts, and determine our futures. Our networks have also become obese. Generally, they are too big and have too "fatty". We add FB friends like junk food. Our time with others is increasingly superficial and transactional. We want a diet of deeper and meaningful relationships but we more often opt for the fast food drive thru lane of life. 

It is time to evaluate our networks. Take inventory of how it reflects who we are and who we want to become. Discover the gaps in our networks. The gaps that relate to our goals. For example, you say you want to go back to grad school, start a business, write a book--connect with people doing these things to give credence to your words. 

Why do we waste time with people who neither support or stretch us? Because we are lazy. Because bad habits are hard to break. 

We need to exercise our networking muscles and get them into shape. Reconnect with people we know and have met. Here's the fix: Make a list of people who interest us, inspire us, and who we care about. Make that your new networking to-do list. Call them, meet with them, text them. 

Get off of the junk food and unhealthful habits of hanging with the crowd that limits your ability to pursue your life. Go look in the mirror and meet the person holding you back. Make a deal with that person that your network needs a makeover! Obese network

When you pursue people that advance your goals and your life, then you have less time for those who hold you back. It is not so much about losing the carbs in your network, it is about adding the protein in your network. And then get off the couch and connect!

Don't fall into the most common excuse--"I don't know any people that are good for my new networking diet." You do. You have met these people. You know them, but don't know them. People you want to meet. People you want to get know better. People you have lost touch with. 

An obese network is neither attractive or effective. 

It takes a village--is yours overweight? Take control of your network, trim it down and add some tone so that you can get moving on with your life. 

Thanks for reading. John

PS: Here is an interview I did recently for a national job network. It is one of the most succint interviews on networking I have ever given. Enjoy!


Want greener pastures but hate the weeding

Many of us have visions of ourselves and our futures that give us hope or delusion. We think about these visions and often make no efforts to purse them. Potentially dangerous stuff because we get mesmerized by our dream and get lulled to sleep.

Like Lenny in Mice and Men. We dream and then can literally squeeze the life out of our dreams by not waking up and taking action.

"One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is we put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon-instead of enjoying the roses blooming outside our window." Dale Carnegie

Rose garden

I hear a lot about these rose gardens or  "greener pastures" that exist in our dreams and over the horizon. Specific ideas and details of what lies ahead--in our imaginations. These roses are inviting and aromatic. The grass is green and lush. Green pasture

The trouble is we don't  actually visit these garden and pasture like places. Maybe we don't want to ruin the image and perfection. Maybe we are afraid of failure. Maybe we are too busy--yikes! Maybe we are waiting for the "right" time--double yikes!

I get exhausted from hearing these visions with no action. 

People ask me everyday, "What is a good mentor?" A good mentor pushes the mentee to start a rose garden or weed the pasture of their dreams. A good mentor will not tolerate hearing about the dream more than a couple of times without seeing real steps in pursuing that dream. I am trying to be a good mentor right now.

Stop talking about your dream and test it. Bring some reality to the dream by taking field trips to that place.

I recently was introduced by a friend in Barcelona to a new friend from Germany: Balazs. He has been dreaming about moving his family and business to LA. He had a short stint here in a study abroad program and a family member recently moved here. He was convinced that the pasture was greener in LA. He decided to pursue his dream. He researched the business environment, used his network--that's where I was contacted--and flew to LA. He gave himself a month to explore the pastures of LA and the limits of his dream. He immersed himself in a new place. Balazs is very bright and talented, but he is a reserved and trusting guy. Yet he pushed himself to network and jump into new situations, and literally knock on doors to conduct his research. He was like an amazing advance man for a big campaign. Testing messages, needs, and interest all the while selling himself. Hard stuff. I connected him to my network and he ran with it. He met hundreds of people, visited dozens of companies and in the end, conducted a thorough investigation of his dream. What he didn't expect was how this tour of LA was a tour of his soul, of his assumptions about his business and about his life. Because Balazs was open to the feedback, he learned that LA could work if he changed his dream. His dream has been tempered by reality and he can now decide if it is greener.

Reminds me of the two shoe salesmen who visited Africa many years ago. The first wrote back and said,"No one wears shoes here, no opportunities." The second one wrote back, "No one wears shoes, huge opportunity." Going to see things changes how you view things.

I have heard these phrases recently. I call them ambitiousness without ambition. 

I want to get an MBA.  What's the GMAT?

I want to own my own business. What's ebitda?

I want to run a non-profit without fundraising.

Who doesn't want the success without the work? The dream without waking up.

We say silly things and then dream about them. 

We need to know what we are saying and dreaming about. Reality can bring those pastures into focus and purse them. Or allow you to delete that dream and build a new one. What a waste of a life to regret a dream you did not want. 

Not trying to deter you from dreaming just dream in HD. Dream accurately. Understand the path to the dream. Every beautiful rose garden has thorns, bugs, and you have to bury some manure. Every picturesque green pasture has weeds, vermin, and requires a lot of work. 

Use your network and your mentors to visit the pastures and meet the farmers. Learn about the soil and seed. Wear the shoes. Is it still green?.

Curiousity may have killed the cat but it may breathe life into your dreams. 

Balazs traveled 6000 miles to test his dream. Odds are your dreams are so much closer.

Wake up, stand up, and smell the roses and run through those pastures. 

Thanks for reading. John


Develop Yourself by Exposing Your Film

Heard advice for 3rd graders and new retirees from two different leaders. Funny thing it was almost identical advice. 

What do 8year olds and senior citizens have in common? A lot. They both are at important junctures in their lives. 

At least that is what Robin Petgrave and Robert Emmons told me and others this week. Robin gives his time and talent to a non-profit called Tomorrow's Aeronautical Museum in Compton. And Robert is "retired" and has become a spokesperson to encourage senior citizens to make the most of their encore years. 

Robin said, "Kids are like good film, they just need exposure and beautiful things develop." Then he turned to a bunch of school children and said, "Don't think about a job, stay curious and think about stuff you love to do. And I guarantee you can find a way to be paid for doing it. I did."   Camera and film

Robin is a trained helicopter pilot and today he teaches elementary school children how to fly. Yes, fly planes . Some of them as young as 6 years old! He teaches these kids discipline, the science of flying and the history of aviation along the way. He is an incredible example of a person who is using his skills and talents to do good. His passion and his compassion are contagious. But most of all he now runs a very successful program that is literally and figuratively helping at-risk kids reach for the stars. 

The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm.  Aldous Huxley

Robert is an accomplished businessman and consultant. He has become a published poet and successful sculptor. He has written a number of books in his "retirement", to help others make the most of their retirements. 

He said, "Now is the time (retirement) for what you really care about. Remain curious. Great accomplishments are the product of great passion. If you do not have a passion, find one. Reinvent yourself. Align yourself with something you care about, something that stirs the passions within, something that will embolden and enhance your senior years. Make a mind shift that focuses on the possibilities for a better life." 

The only way to develop your life is through exposure. Exposure to ideas, causes, and concepts that inspire. Exposure to the people who shift your perspective and make you think. 

You will have many new starts in your life. Many new chapters. All of these are chances to re-imagine your path and reinvent yourself.

No matter what age you are. No matter what stage of your life. The advice is aways the same: Stay curious and pursue your passions. Philanthropy

Retirees are like older film that need new exposure to develop a new life.

It never ends. The answers are never easy. It has nothing to do with luck. You have to pursue who you truly are. So the journey is a self discovery of who you are, what you love doing, what defines you, what your talents and strengths are. External stimuli trigger these discoveries. People stimulate the triggers. True living only comes when one takes chances on oneself to become their best authentic self. It would be much easier to live a life that "happens". You take what comes to you. A life of passion and fulfillment is the opposite, you chase it. You hunt it down. You stalk your passion and purpose. 

So many people think that their dreams will emerge magically through their computer. By sitting at their desk and  fool themselves into thinking that they are trying hard. Life will not come to you, you have to go out and grab it.

 The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it keep looking. Don't settle. Steve Jobs

Meeting people like Robin and Robert remind me that I must continue on the infinite path of finding the ways I can contribute, help others, and engage my gifts. That my age and stage are just different versions of the same question: What am I going to do with my life? I must remain curious and open to new things if I want to reinvent myself. While passion will define what I do and who I am. I must seek it and always engage the people around me to help me find it.

Quit worrying about the age or quality of your film. Expose it to the things that matter and amazing things will develop.

Thanks for reading. John