energy

Will this be the Year? For You?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? Mary Oliver

Is this the year for your new life? The year you push yourself out and over the edge of your comfort zone.

Why can't this be the time? 

The challenge is in every moment and the time is always now. James Baldwin

This can be the time to make your dent in the universe. To go into our garages and build the new mousetrap. To build the new you. 
 
One that expresses who YOU are. Don't confuse this with your FB, Instagram postings, or even your resume, where you look more like wanna-bes than the real YOU. 

The recipe is pretty straight forward. You take you with all of the expectations of others removed, add a big heaping tablespoon of courage, add extra chutzpah and then a pinch of regrets to taste and voila you get the real you.

It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.  Seneca 49 AD

I have shared the following with thousands of people to remind them in a few minutes how precious life is.

What surprises you most about human kind?

“That they get bored with childhood, they rush to grow up, and then long to be children again.”
“That they lose their health to make money… and then lose their money to restore their health.”
"That by thinking anxiously about the future, they forget the present, such that they live in neither the present nor the future.”
“That they live as if they will never die… and die as though they had never lived.”

What are some of life’s lessons you want your children to learn?
“To learn they cannot make anyone love them. All they can do is let themselves be loved.”
“To learn that it only takes a few seconds to open profound wounds, and it can take many years to heal them.”
“To learn that a rich person is not who has the most, but is one who needs the least.”
“To learn that there are people who love them dearly, but simply do not yet know how to express or show their feelings.”
“To learn that two people can look at the same thing and see it differently.”
“To learn that it is not enough that they forgive one another, but they must also forgive themselves.”

(Excerpted from Interview with God.net)

How much time we waste. How our priorities are often upside down. How the most precious things we want get pushed into the attic and buried in our "hope chests". Hope Chest

We have to do the best with what we got and then do more!
  
I live completely in the present, released from the prison of the past with its haunting memories and vain regrets, released from the prison of the future with its tantalizing hopes and tormenting fears. All the enormous capacities formerly trapped in past and future flow to me here and now. Eknath Easwaran
 
Schedule little windows of time when you will develop your plans and yourself. Time to be focused and unfocused. Nothing will happen if you do not do this! What you need is inspiration. Which can come in a moment, any time, taking a shower, doing the dishes, taking a walk, meditating, reading. Fill your life with more stimulation, different voices, sources, points of view. Change it up. Shake it up. Find things that resonate with you that quicken your heart beat and put a lump in your throat. Then take notes and follow them.
 
You can work with the usual suspects, but find the new and different, that's connected to what we want, like or dream about. Meet with different people every week or month. Get disciplined about stretching your network. Use the existing connections to bridge to new tribes. Worlds that understand your unanswered questions, your "crazy" dreams and your insecurities and doubts. Tribes that will mentor you.
 
Still perplexed? Do you believe that every human is an infinite set of possibilities? Are you human?
My life experiences have shown me how people stop digging when they hit a few rocks. They stop peeling the onion when the tears start. They move away from the edge of the cliff when they see the rocks far below.
 
Get a jackhammer. Put on some goggles. Learn to para-glide.

Listen to what Alec Baldwin says:

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee "Alec Baldwin" 

I frequently worry that being productive is the surest way to lull ourselves into a trance of passivity and busyness the greatest distraction from living, as we coast through our lives day after day, showing up for our obligations but being absent from our selves, mistaking the doing for the being. Maria Popova

What I want for you is the delight that comes from doing what you want. Becoming you. Not merely the achievement of the financial or employment goals or even familial expectations. Yes do them. But make small, medium and large spaces for you. For when your passion bucket overflows everyone around you will get some. Whether you like it or not you infect others with your smile of delight, your glow of goodness, and your engaging enthusiasm for life. 

And when you are not yourself, when you are not smiling, and your passion bucket is empty--you also impact others, just very differently. 

Ripples flow from your life force either way.

So is 2016 the year of becoming you? Let's go!

To be and not to be, that is the answer. D. E. Harding

Happy New Year! Thanks for reading. 

 


Ambition to Walk the Talk

How do we become who we say we are? Is aspirational language how we grow into our lives? We often describe ourselves in generous terms. Are we who we say we are?. 

I call myself a social entrepreneur. I say I am one so it is so, right. Not so fast. We are not what we say we are!

We are certainly not what our bios say! :) Footprints-in-The-Sand-

I attended the spectacular Skoll World Forum a couple of weeks ago to meet with like minded people from around the world--so I thought.  

For me it was the Skull Forum, because I felt my cranium get filled up!

In my skull sized kingdom, ala David Foster Wallace, I am pretty good at what I do. A legend in my own mind! I know this is not true but I deceive myself by saying things and going to places where I look good. I joke I have always been in the top 10% of the bottom half of my class. :) Never fully convinced I belong or deserve to be there.

So at the Skoll conference I pushed myself to meet real social entrepreneurs. People who put their careers on the line for their ideas, to help others and solve a problem. It was so refreshing and humbling.

There were some sages on the stage--from Richard Branson to Malala who made me think. But the real impact of the conference was in the aisles and in the conference rooms where I sat with people from all over the planet who are dreaming and doing amazing things. (Did meet some wannabes like me too :)

Martin Burt: Changing the definition and solutions for poverty in Paraguay.

Dina Sherif: Growing the social entrepreneur community to energize the evolution of Cairo, Egypt.

Oren Yakobovich: Exposing human rights violations through innovative surveillance.

Monica Yunus: An extraordinary opera singer, daughter of Muhammad Yunus, who is changing the world through the arts.

They reminded me what social entrepreneurs look like, what they sound like, and what they do. Without role models we have nothing. Great inspiration for what I have to do--where I have to walk. Not to be like them, but to become who I am. Make sense?

Wanderer, your footsteps are
the road, and nothing more;
wanderer, there is no road,
the way is made by walking.
By walking one makes the road,
and upon glancing behind
one sees the path
that never will be trod again.
Wanderer, there is no road–
Only wakes upon the sea.

antonio machado

Walking the talk is ultimately about authenticity. Who am I and where am I going? What do I stand for? How do I learn? How do I make a difference? The truths.

Once we get real and stop believing our press releases we have a chance at becoming something. 

Ambition, if it feeds at all,does so on the ambitions of others.  Susan Sontag

If you allow it your ambition is altered by others. Your best ambition is open source and needs inputs and energy. It can not be static. And developing your ambition takes effort. When we are younger we just want more, more opportunities, more growth, more responsibility, more titles, more influence, and more money. As we mature, we realize that more is undefined and this type of amorphous ambitiousness is aimless and meaningless. That we must have purposes that energize us. Our paths will be defined by what we do versus what we want. And when we are fully engaged, wholeheartedly entwined, then we see the benefits of connecting to and learning from others. That our mission is not a solo flight but a community fight. Iterating requires the ideas and inspirations of others, not to get there first but to make progress towards the goals together. 

Walking the talk requires walking. Walking down the path of others, with others. Walking in their shoes. Walking to make progress and to push forward. Talking is never walking. Let your walking do the the talking. 

When you walk you meet people, especially if you are not following a single route, but a meandering path to your ambition. That way you can't just walk with your friends or family. You must walk with new sources of ideas and perspectives. 

When you learn new things you change your path, you alter your gait, you become less certain about your original destination and your ambition grows.

To some this sounds wish-washy and unfocused. But to me and others, it is the path to clarity.

When you go through the turnstile to enter the library of ideas-- to check out every aisle and every book--not to peruse the aisles and books you know, then you will confront new sources of truth and reality. 

Ambition is connecting and ambitiousness is isolating. 

Everyone says they want to change the world. But we all know that saying things and doing things are two entirely different universes. Walking your talk does matter. That's your ambition. Change your talk by walking. 

Think about what you say to yourself and to others. -How you define yourself and your future. Then start walking. 

Thanks for reading. John


Thermodynamic Networking

Energy exists in many different forms, such as light, heat, chemical, and electrical. Energy is the fuel and ability to do work. Thermodynamics is the study and understanding of energy.

The first law of thermodynamics: Energy can not be created or destroyed. But it can be changed from one form to another. The total amount of energy and matter in the universe remains constant, changing from one form to another. 

The second law of thermodynamics states that in the process of energy transfer, some energy will dissipate. This is also commonly referred to as entropy. Entropy is a measure of this dissipation and degradation that leads to disorder and uncertainty. The flow of energy maintains order and life. Entropy wins when organisms cease to take in energy and die.

There is human energy. We convert energy into new forms that fuel us and others. Energy propels us to do our work. We feed off others and they feed off us. Without energy we wither.

We are all connected; To each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe atomically.  ― Neil deGrasse Tyson

Whether we intend it or not we transfer energy. We give and we take. We deposit positive and negative energy knowingly and unwittingly. Energy is our human currency. Some people have great wealth others are incredibly poor. Some enter a room with much and others look vanquished. Some seem to have the gift of increasing the energy around them and others make it disappear like David Copperfield. Positive_energy

I have been increasingly conscious of my own energy and the energy around me. How do I add or take from the environment? Yet, I have found it tough to adjust my own attitude or openness to get beyond just reacting versus surrendering to the energy. What I mean is, I can easily spend most of my energy on my negative thoughts about myself or judging the world around me instead of investing my energy positively into others and the world around me.

What I have found, although not able to replicate it every time, that I can be a positive source of energy and surf off the energy around me. Everyone, and I mean everyone, can be a source of energy for me. By being engaged you can focus the positive energy.  Most days, I fill my tank off others with some to spare. If I do it well I leave my own energy trail. But if I do it in that order, that is, to seek the energy of others before I try and give off my energy, then the energy  is authentic. It's simple, the energy around us is so much more potent and unexplored then the energy within us. The combination, the fusion, the blend of energies is what life is. Not the preservation of our own. Protecting our energy by foolishly doling it out to only those deserving of it is where we get ito a real energy shortage. We need others energy to grow and advance. Energy was meant to share and be transferred. That is Thermodynamic Networking!

I used to think that I should inspire others (give them energy). But when I look to be inspired by those present, that inspires me! 

This is real energy!

I have witnessed many imposters and posers who try to add counterfeit energy. Inauthentic energy. I know this one young man who thinks being "up", smiley face, and positive is ALWAYS good. He is never aware of the context.  He is "happy" no matter what. He puts on a show. It is not only irritating but detrimental. Like a commercial you have seen too many times you know how it ends and you are tired of the message.  I know others who are very energetic--about themselves. So it is positive but ego-centric, which may be the worst of all.

A person functioning exclusively in the Cartesian mode typically lead ego-centered, competitive, goal-oriented lives. Overpreoccupied with their past and their future, they tend to have a limited awareness of the present and thus a limited ability to derive satisfaction from ordinary activities in everyday life. They concentrate on manipulating the external world and measure their living standard by the quantity of material possessions, while they become ever more alienated from their inner world and unable to appreciate the process of life. For people whose existence is dominated by this mode of experience no level of wealth, power, or fame will bring genuine satisfaction.  Fritjof Capra, Tao of Physics

But I have also seen the masters, who listen intently, allowing others to lead the conversations and who are better interviewers than 60 Minutes. They tease out the energy in others. They make you feel important even though they are the important one. They have a genuine interest in people and topics. They fill the gaps with attentiveness and eye contact. They are present when most people drift and think of themselves. They are in the moment and care about what is being said before they speak. 

Entropy occurs with selfishness and isolation. It comes when people think their success is their own making. Entropy comes from self deception and denying the energy of others.

So how do we gain and give energy? How do we enhance versus detract from the energy wave around us? How do we submerge our selfish thoughts to learn, explore and connect in meaningful ways? How do we adopt thermodynamic networking to positively invest our energy? How do we see the beauty in others before we think of ourselves?

In the end we neither create or destroy energy. We transfer it either intentionally or unintentionally. If we make an effort to be the source of authentic positive energy, then we can energize our life's purpose and the trajectories of others. 

Thanks for reading. John

  


Applying Your Passion to College and to Life

I was with a donor at a Hollywood eaterie. We both ordered ice teas. The waitress asked if we wanted regular or passion. I said regular and my guest ordered passion. The teas came and neither of the teas were passion. We called over our beautiful wannabe actress to correct her inadvertent mistake. The donor said, "Hey I ordered the passion ice tea and got regular." She leaned in close to him without missing a beat and said, "Didn't I serve it with passion?!" He reflexively said, "You did!" Glasses-of-iced-tea

Is our tea of life supposed to have passion it? Do we have to order it or make it ourselves? Or do we merely have to serve it with passion? 

I am pretty obsessed with living life with passion and helping others find their passions. To be perfectly honest, I help myself by helping others. Other people's passions get me psyched to be more diligent about my own. I use other people's passions to add to my passion river. Kind of a passion junkie. I must confess, I am trying to inspire and motivate yours truly. I have  learned that successful networking, mentoring, and careers are based on this principle of engaging  others' passions and defining my own.

This was a big week for the topic of passion: 

  • I gave a short speech on passion for my colleagues at a national conference of community foundations to add a little kindling to their belly fires. 
  • I led a  session for a giving circle to re-energize their collective passion around community needs and their personal definitions of meaningful giving. 
  • Lastly, I appeared on a friend's local radio show to discuss how the true passions of the students applying for college admission make a difference.

You don't need to be applying for college to articulate your passions. We all have a constellation of passions within us that we nurture and ignore. That we pursue and neglect. True passion involves others and the needs of others. It starts with the pain of our lack of personal fulfillment, the suffering of others we care about, and the the unmet needs of people we may never know. It can come as easily from disappointment or from total engagement. It is the basis of your emotional connection to what you do and WHY you do it. 

The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. Mark Twain 

You can discover it and have an aha moment. Or it can sneak up on you and scare you into understanding yourself.

Always taken by my mother's story of the moment she knew painting would define her life. She was 49 with 4 kids under the age of 10 she decided to take a sumi-e Japanese brush stroke painting lesson. She lifted the brush with fresh black ink on it and struck the canvas and she was transformed in that moment. She remembers it like it was yesterday, "I said to myself, "Where have you been?" She found herself and has been painting ever since. Her ability to express herself through oil paints changed her and everything around her. It centered her. Gave her energy and vitality. She had a purpose like no other. 

Sumi eWhen you share or when others share their passions it shines out of the eyes, the body language and the voice. We exude an extra energy when we connect with passion. It is when we present our best selves. You have to help others recognize this when they do it!

It is when work and play blur. When Mondays and Fridays are exactly the same.

I try to find and associate with very competent people who are also passionate about their lives. You have to have both! Because competence in the absence of passion is not only boring but is limited to mediocrity. And passion without competence is shrill and a waste of time. I look for both in every hire I make, every board I join, every job I take, and every one of my relationships.

A job is never just a job. A life is never just a life. We can't be waiting for something better. Or to do it all when we retire. How will we leave our imprint?

You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.  Jack London

Help your son or daughter see their inner strengths and talents before you tell them what their career will be. Explore with your friends why they aren't doing more of the things they say are important to them. Assist people who are nearing retirement age to explore their passions now. Make the pursuit of passions

This is the hardest work we can do--to help others and ourselves find passion. For there is no other work. We need people's passions to engage our total selves in our work and our lives. We need passion to innovate, to solve problems, and to wring out the potential in our world. 

There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. Nelson Mandela

Move passion up on your to-do list. Serve and live with passion!

Thanks for reading. John

 


Smile Networking

When playing poker or just observing people you notice a host of "tells": the signs a person makes when they are nervous or bluffing. Body, eye movements, smiles, tics, gestures, and inflection. All give you clues, hints, and ways to understand what is being said and unsaid. I have to work on these things everyday. Before I did work that was videotaped, I was unaware of my tells. When I listened I looked critical, I still do this from time to time. I have to think about eye contact because I can look down when I talk. And I have to remind myself to stay positive. For me, it takes mindfulness and being present. 

I will never understand all of the good a simple smile can accomplish.  Mother Teresa Smile2

I watch people's eyes and their smiles. It is so easy to see when people like what they are talking about. I ask people to "tell me more" about that subject, because I know they want to. 

According to English and Jewish proverbs--Eyes are the window to the soul.  

I believe this. And if the eyes are a window then the smile is the sliding glass door to the soul. It is the face of your heart.

No other form of body language can transform you and your networking, than your smile. 

Your face triggers the face and the feelings of those looking at your face. Your eyes are the window to your truth. 

I had an assistant named Pam who never smiled. It became a game with me. Every morning, I would greet her with a huge smile and a theatrical, "GOOD MORNING! How are you?" She always responded the same no matter what I did. She said, "Fine," without smiling. Actually it was more of a frown. So one day I could not stand it any more. She stood there and said "fine" looking like her cat died. I said, "Then Tell Your Face!" After that Pam faked smiled at me every morning and we laughed.  

Long time ago, I supervised telemarketers and we used mirrors to show the trainees their faces when they were on the phone. Your voice is so much different when you smile! Smiling telemarketers always performed better. 

I love the work of the Smile Foundation--restoring the smiles of children with facial deformities. 

Like most things you do for others it helps you more. Smiling almost always makes others smile. And smiling makes us feel good and makes others feel good. But recently researchers have shown that smiling, genuine smiles, not only feel good but actually make us healthier. Huh? Yes, recent studies show that smiling reduces anxiety, heart rate, and increased recovery from stress and even depression. There is a physiological and psychological reaction in your body when you use your smile muscles. Even if you just see another smiling it fires off neurons that simulate the feeling of your own smile. Serious studies show greater life expectancy and life satisfaction if you smile. Long distance runners who smiled reported they were less tired and stressed. It all makes sense. When you smile others smile. You give off positivity and get it back. So it is probably a combination of internal and external factors that feed off one another.We all know how quickly a look can turn us negative. We walk a very fine line between happy and unhappy. Satisfied and dissatisfied. Positive and negative. Glass half full, half empty.....A smile can push us and others around us over to the positive side of the street.   Smiles

The genuine smile--the real smile--is called by researchers the Duchenne smile. Named by the 19th century French neurologist. This smile uses the major muscles around the eyes and mouth areas. This is contrasted with the Pan Am smile, named for the socially polite smile of an airline flight attendant. This smile just lifts the muscles around the mouth. 

Funny ironic thing is that people with botox injections were also studied. Because their smile muscles were "impaired" they were less happy and had a harder time sensing the feelings of others! You want to look and feel good--artificially?! Shame on you. ;)

This research is dwarfed by the certainty that an upside down smile makes you and others feel worse. You have a great smile--use it! Smile! 

Thanks for reading. John

 


Avoid Career Alzheimers--Reconnect to Your Purpose

Through luck, fate and my own assertiveness, I meet incredible leaders and people who have achieved success. In these encounters they have said things that have altered my life. They have mentored me. Things I adopted as models for my own trajectory and just as often, things that frightened me. I have learned as much from those I want to emulate as from those I want to not be like. Just as in art you gravitate to the positive spaces because of the negative spaces. People's lives have become my yin and yang of life. Yin yang

Here are several of my favorite true encounters (some details were altered to protect the innocent):

  • After losing the vote to become Prime Minister of his country, he was stripped of his executive privileges, "How in the @&!# did I think I could run this country, I didn't even know what it costs to park in my building." 
  • 6 months before he was fired, this prominent Div 1 coach said to me, "I don't have time to go to practices as much as I should." 
  • After declaring bankruptcy, this owner of a chain of restaurants told me, "It had been a long time since I had eaten at one of my restaurants." 
  • A colleague of mine worked for a hyper wealthy family and was seeking permission to spend $100,000. She was told, "Why are we wasting time on this? I made this much money in the time we have been talking."

"Success" can breed an over confidence that can ironically lead to an utter disconnection from the very work and people that generated the success. That form of arrogance almost always leads to disaster.

Every week I meet executives and managers who have early onset of what I call Career Alzheimers. These are people who are getting tired (not necessarily old!) of their work. Yes, we all want less hassle, fewer people issues, and more theoretical work. Here's the rub. Once you lose connection with the customer (not the data), the staff (not the metrics), the community (not the view from your office), you have lost your way. You have Career Alzheimers!

Here's my mythical wikipedia post for Career Alzheimers:

Career Alzheimers (CA) is a common form of professional dementia. It worsens as it progresses, and eventually leads to career termination. Although Career Alzheimers develops differently for every individual, there are many common symptoms. Early symptoms are often mistakenly thought to be 'age-related'. In the early stages, the most common symptom is difficulty in remembering what they love about their job. When CA is suspected, the diagnosis is usually confirmed with telltale statements that rely too heavily on abstract concepts, theories, and metrics demonstrating a growing disconnection from real things and people. Some show confusion, irritability, mood swings, trouble with language, especially concerning their passion for their work. As the sufferer declines they often withdraw further and further from the day to day work, from colleagues and from the society. Gradually, these conditions worsen often leading to end of career. Since the disease is different for each individual, predicting how it will affect the person is difficult. CA develops for an unknown and variable amount of time before becoming fully apparent, and it can progress undiagnosed for years. The cause and progression of CA are not well understood. My unscientific research indicates that the disease is associated with the increasing depersonalization of the success metrics of work. Fortunately, CA is curable. Self awareness is the first step and then to seek mentoring help to confirm the disorder and treatment. Treatment is simple—take steps to humanize your work. Get out of your office. Get tactile, visceral, palpable stories about the solutions you are providing, unmet need, nuances and challenges of the execution of the work your department/team/company does. Regular doses of the humanity of your work will immediately combat CA and can keep it from reoccurring. 

I love that Warren Buffett drives his own car and talks to his shareholders and people in general. He may be elderly but he is still grounded to the basics of what makes him a success. He will never have CA!

Carve out more time to meet with the beneficiaries of your work. Make scheduled and unscheduled visits to partners, customers, offices, and even competitors. It will shift your perspective every single time. It will energize you! It will trigger a small and sometimes large reminder of the purpose of your work that too often gets boiled down to a "bottomline" that has sucked all of the humanity out of our existence. Yes, we need to measure things, but we also have to remember the measure of our purpose. 

Self diagnose. Ask people you trust. Early signs? Late stages? Re-engage or retire--and find something new to reinvigorate you. Never too late. You hold the cure. 

Thanks for reading. John 


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!


The One Percent/Degree Solution

Most of us work so hard. We are engaged with our lives and our work. We show up and put in the time.  And we are at our limits. We have little if anything else to give. Time, energy, brain cells--we are at capacity.  Seems inconceivable to do any more than we do. Right?

When will we pursue those "other" goals in our lives? Those things that we long to do, have to do? 

Was with a good friend this week and he was discussing his three new side businesses he is launching and pursuing. Three! He has a full time job, two kids and a labrador! He has little money, but puts in the sweat equity and engages his network. He is trying to build his future, keep his mind fresh, and make some money. How does he do it? He manages his time through his priorities. Is he stressed out? Nope. He is fully engaged in his life. Funny thing, he has other irons in the fire. And he thinks he is just an "average" guy!

If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. The more you do the more you can do. Lucille Ball. 

If you are human, then you waste so much time. C'mon admit it. There are times when you are just distracting yourself, biding your time, all the while your ideas/causes/dreams just wait and get older. Be honest!

It is trite and maybe irritating to hear, but you have to take small steps. Give one percent more--one more degree of effort. One percent! Everyone has one percent to give. One percent more in time, money, effort, and energy. Yes you do!

If you give that one per cent to something you have always wanted to do. Something you care about. Like your talent, your art, your dreams. You will feel good about yourself.

Don't fall behind on your bills and your dreams.  Les Brown

And, when someone says, "Hey what's new?" You can say something interesting! And those conversations will lead to new connections!

Now networking and mentoring have a purpose. To meet people who are doing what you are interested in. Getting advice about these special things. These pursuits will be treats in your life. Sweet and delicious moments for your personal gratification of understanding your larger role and purpose. These times that are not chores but times you will look forward to. And guess what happens, the one percent expands because it is so important to you.

Look if you have the perfect balance in your life of challenge, growth, and fulfillment, then please stop reading. 

For the rest of us, we are so close to what we want you can see it. But our inertia, doubts, resistance, and plain ole laziness prevent us from what we want.

Watch this video. 

One more degree of effort. We give up too easily in the pursuit of what is important to us. One percent more time and attention.

One percent of your time is  like 30 mins a week. What if you scheduled 30 mins during every week to reconnect with someone you have lost touch with. Put it on your calendar. Do it every week. Be discipined about it. Use the time to e-mail, telephone, Google people.

This is even more productive and fulfilling if you are reaching out to people about your idea, cause, or dream. To compare notes, pick brains, to learn, and to be inspired. To be inspired every week! Wow. 

Persistence, consistency, and building the habit of making time for what you want. It is simply amazing when you do something consistently.

You will regret not using this time--now. Over time you will get busier! And these special thoughts get shelved and predictably--absence will make the heart grow fonder. Neglect makes these lost opportunities more precious and more bitter regrets later.

Start by doing what's necessary, then what's possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.  St Francis de Assisi

I guarantee if you don't exert the one percent or the one degree of extra effort, nothing will happen. 

Little efforts lead to bigger ones. Small steps lead to bigger strides. Commit yourself to connecting your ideas with others and unexpected things will happen.

 Thanks for reading. John


Psych Yourself Up! The 5Ps of Networking

It takes a lot of energy to meet people, engage in conversations, listen carefully, give your attention and to be "on".  Some people are naturally comfortable at it. Most people struggle to do it. Like all things that you do and want to do well, you have to psych yourself up for the task. You have to get yourself prepared and in a positive frame of mind. Nothing good happens when you are unprepared AND have a negative or uncaring attitude. Very rare when great things happen when you "wing it". When you do nothing to prepare yourself for something you find difficult. In fact, it is more likely you not only disappoint yourself and leave some lost opportunities along the way. 

When I was younger I used to think Robin Williams was great at ad libbing. He could do magic in a moment. I also used to think that some people were born with the ability to speak extemporaneously. I also used to believe the myth that some people had the DNA to network and meet people. I have learned these are all fallacies. Of course, some people have more confidence, presence, and the gift of gab--but ANYONE can learn these things. Robin Williams is a very bright performer, after all he went to Julliard! But his routines are well rehearsed and planned. His gift is revealing them as if they weren't. 

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.    John Wooden

Networking is no different. Rocky

Here are some quick proven steps to boost your confidence, readiness, and ultimately your performance (this is beginning to sound like some of the spam we all get:) Stay with me! 

1. Plan and Prepare: You are going to yet another event, reception, cocktail party, company function, conference, seminar and you want to network well. 

  •  Visualize what you think networking success would be. Begin with the end in mind. What are my goals? Do I want to just take some small steps to increase my confidence? Is there information I am seeking? Expertise I need? People from particular orgs or companies I want to compare notes with?
  • Google people you want to meet to find commonalities and interesting facts. This will arm you with a way of breaking the ice. 
  • Think about people who can introduce you to them. Being introduced is the most credible, simplest and stress free way of meeting people. 

Being well prepared, even partially prepared will give you focus and more confidence.

2. Psych Yourself Up!: Before the event, start to get yourself in the right frame of ;mind to be your best self. Other people don't care about the bad day you have had. Get ready to make a good first impression. You need to be on--only you knows what that;feels like.You attract to your life whatever you give time, attention, and focus—positive or negative. I would add, and physically manifest. 

  • Look your best. If you look good you will be more confident and more comfortable.
  • Energize yourself. This is why getting into better physical shape makes a difference, but for now you need to use your nerves or anxiety to be channeled into your focus and personal excitement for the challenge.

3.  Power Pose!: Immediately before the event, take some advice from Harvard        researcher, Amy Cuddy. She has shown that your hormones shift with your physical        presence. Your anxiety and your confidence levels change with your body language. Your internal chemistry mirrors your posture. In other words, when your body is open  and tall, so is your energy and presence. When you fold yourself--arms and legs-- and become smaller, more fetal like, you come off weaker and less impressively. Here are two poses that you can do to boost your energy! Just 2 minutes will positively change your hormonal chemistry. Do these exercises privately :) --they help me before I give a big speech. Lynda_carter_as_wonder_woman

  • Raise your hands above your head in a victory pose. Even blind people who have never seen this pose use it to express their joy and success. 
  • Hands on hips like superman or wonder woman. 
4. Perform: Not telling you to be someone you are not. But we all have "party manners" when we are on our best  behavior. When we       are concious of making a       good impression. 
  • Relax and slow down. Nothing worse than feeling rushed or in a hurry. Try to enjoy the event and the conversations you have. Don't let your goals get in the way of your experience and the attention you give to others.
  • Smile. I know it is obvious, but look like you are happy to meet people. Just the act of smiling will make you feel better and warm others. 
  • Body language is positive. Don't fold up and unintentionally look unapproachable.
  • Be interested and then become interesting. Listen. Let the other person lead. Ask them questions. Engage them then tell your story or make your pitch.
  • Remember names and ask to continue conversations where appropriate.

5. Post-mortem: Critique your process, progress, and performance. Appreciate what you accomplished and make notes on how to improve. Follow-up on the people you met, ideas you gathered and commitments you made.

  • Make notes to yourself. People you met that require follow-up or for future reference. Use the back of the business cards or enter into contact database.
  • Send e-mails. For those you want to continue the conversation, send them an e-mail.
  • Send out information you promised. Every good networker provides as much info and help as they get. Mail or e-mail what you promised or suggested. 

Develop your networking confidence by practice and preparation. Like everything you want to improve upon, invest your time and energy--and psych yourself up! 

Thanks for reading. John


Psych Yourself Up to Network! The 5Ps of Networking

It takes a lot of energy to meet people, engage in conversations, listen carefully, give your attention and to be "on".  Some people are naturally comfortable at it. Most people struggle to do it. Like all things that you do and want to do well, you have to psych yourself up for the task. You have to get yourself prepared and in a positive frame of mind. Nothing good happens when you are unprepared AND have a negative or uncaring attitude. Very rare when great things happen when you "wing it". When you do nothing to prepare yourself for something you find difficult. In fact, it is more likely you not only disappoint yourself and leave some lost opportunities along the way. 

When I was younger I used to think Robin Williams was great at ad libbing. He could do magic in a moment. I also used to think that some people were born with the ability to speak extemporaneously. I also used to believe the myth that some people had the DNA to network and meet people. I have learned these are all fallacies. Of course, some people have more confidence, presence, and the gift of gab--but ANYONE can learn these things. Robin Williams is a very bright performer, after all he went to Julliard! But his routines are well rehearsed and planned. His gift is revealing them as if they weren't. 

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.    John Wooden

Networking is no different. Rocky

Here are some quick proven steps to boost your confidence, readiness, and ultimately your performance (this is beginning to sound like some of the spam we all get:) Stay with me! 

1. Plan and Prepare: You are going to yet another event, reception, cocktail party, company function, conference, seminar and you want to network well. 

  •  Visualize what you think networking success would be. Begin with the end in mind. What are my goals? Do I want to just take some small steps to increase my confidence? Is there information I am seeking? Expertise I need? People from particular orgs or companies I want to compare notes with?
  • Google people you want to meet to find commonalities and interesting facts. This will arm you with a way of breaking the ice. 
  • Think about people who can introduce you to them. Being introduced is the most credible, simplest and stress free way of meeting people. 

Being well prepared, even partially prepared will give you focus and more confidence.

2. Psych Yourself Up!: Before the event, start to get yourself in the right frame of ;mind to be your best self. Other people don't care about the bad day you have had. Get ready to make a good first impression. You need to be on--only you knows what that;feels like.You attract to your life whatever you give time, attention, and focus—positive or negative. I would add, and physically manifest. 

  • Look your best. If you look good you will be more confident and more comfortable.
  • Energize yourself. This is why getting into better physical shape makes a difference, but for now you need to use your nerves or anxiety to be channeled into your focus and personal excitement for the challenge.

3.  Power Pose!: Immediately before the event, take some advice from Harvard        researcher, Amy Cuddy. She has shown that your hormones shift with your physical        presence. Your anxiety and your confidence levels change with your body language. Your internal chemistry mirrors your posture. In other words, when your body is open  and tall, so is your energy and presence. When you fold yourself--arms and legs-- and become smaller, more fetal like, you come off weaker and less impressively. Here are two poses that you can do to boost your energy! Just 2 minutes will positively change your hormonal chemistry. Do these exercises privately :) --they help me before I give a big speech. Lynda_carter_as_wonder_woman

  • Raise your hands above your head in a victory pose. Even blind people who have never seen this pose use it to express their joy and success. 
  • Hands on hips like superman or wonder woman. 
4. Perform: Not telling you to be someone you are not. But we all have "party manners" when we are on our best  behavior. When we       are concious of making a       good impression. 
  • Relax and slow down. Nothing worse than feeling rushed or in a hurry. Try to enjoy the event and the conversations you have. Don't let your goals get in the way of your experience and the attention you give to others.
  • Smile. I know it is obvious, but look like you are happy to meet people. Just the act of smiling will make you feel better and warm others. 
  • Body language is positive. Don't fold up and unintentionally look unapproachable.
  • Be interested and then become interesting. Listen. Let the other person lead. Ask them questions. Engage them then tell your story or make your pitch.
  • Remember names and ask to continue conversations where appropriate.

5. Post-mortem: Critique your process, progress, and performance. Appreciate what you accomplished and make notes on how to improve. Follow-up on the people you met, ideas you gathered and commitments you made.

  • Make notes to yourself. People you met that require follow-up or for future reference. Use the back of the business cards or enter into contact database.
  • Send e-mails. For those you want to continue the conversation, send them an e-mail.
  • Send out information you promised. Every good networker provides as much info and help as they get. Mail or e-mail what you promised or suggested. 

Develop your networking confidence by practice and preparation. Like everything you want to improve upon, invest your time and energy--and psych yourself up! 

Thanks for reading. John


Get Energized!

The other day, someone described me as the "Energizer Bunny". They meant it as a compliment. :)I like the word energy. It defines something I value and depend upon everyday. Like all of nature, without it, nothing is possible.  I don't think of energy as just "the strength and vitality required for sustained physical or mental activity." I like the physical science definitions, such as "the ability to exert pulls or pushes against the basic forces of nature."Energizer
As we all know, energy exists in everything and everywhere, but it needs to be focused and contained to be useful. Energy is like intention. We always have it, but do we fully engage it to make a difference?

"No steam or gas drives anything until it is confined. No life ever grows great until it is focused, dedicated and disciplined." Harry Fosdick

It may be the number one question I get asked. "Where does YOUR energy come from?" I think they ask this because they see my energy as a positive or my energy bugs them. Never sure when I get the question which it is. :) The short answer that I give yields a wry smile, "I get it from my mom and dad!" While true, not a satisfying answer. But I know that the DNA plays a role.

My energy is within me and it drives what I do and who I am. I don't think of energy as a feeling. Do I feel energetic? No, I consider energy a deeper force that defines me, but more importantly, what I do. Never used "5 hour energy", Red Bull, or taken recreational drugs to increase my energy. I do have couple cups o java every morning though. I think energy is all natural.

While we are each unique, each of us has the same potential energy within us.

Renewing, preserving, caring for and investing in your energy sources is as important as it is for our planet's natural energy. It can not be taken for granted. It is so precious.

Energy has to be renewed everyday. Energy does not last. Like eating and exercise, you need to make re-energizing a daily routine.

There are a couple of pre-reqs

  • Physical and Fiscal Fitness: Yes, you need to be managing your physical and fiscal fitness and your level of stress. All are factors in your body and mind's ability to do things and to "show up" completely in your life of work and play. So you have to tend to these vital matters because they drain and undermine your energy. They keep you from your focus on what makes you unique and your overall ability to engage and deliver your talents.
  • Passion Alignment: Your work and your life have to have good doses of the things you care about. At work, as a volunteer, at church, in your spare time--you have to be engaging your passions.

5 Daily Steps to More Energy:

  1. Get Inspired: Seek out ideas and stories that give you a reality check on what's important to you. The needs of others is always a good place to start. No shortage of those stories today. Needs remind us of what we have and we have to help others get.

"Any time a thought, sentence, or a paragraph inspires you or opens up your thinking, you need to capture it, like a butterfly in a net, and later release it into your own field of consciousness." Steve Chandler

2. Get Connected: Engage people who can shift your perspective, push you out of your comfy box, and who help you think differently. Look for every opportunity to meet new and reconnect with existing network members. Other people's energy is highly contagious!

"Isolation is our problem, not our lousy attitudes."  Barbara Sher

3. Get Others What They Need: The satisfaction of helping others around you is so energizing. It gives you fulfillment, meaning, and energy! Do more than you do now. Volunteer! Go out of your way to assist and you will get a power surge!

4. Get Fun: Life is too short not to enjoy what we do. Get out of the toxic relationships and worlds around you. Get off the negative bandwagon and reinforce the positive.

"Laughter is an instant vacation." Milton Berle

5. Get Going!: Stop procrastinating. Start pursuing what you really want. Talk to your network about how to start or advance what you should be doing.

"Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass...it's learning how to dance in the rain." unknown

When you are just going through life without connecting with who you are, what you want to be, and where you want to go, then your energy can be easily sapped. Energy comes from your engagement with your life. The more engaged, enthused, and enriched by your work and your experiences, the less you think about time and regrets. You psych up for things you care about and it energizes you.

If you believe in energy as I have defined it, then the "pushes" and "pulls" of engaging your passions with others is a powerful source of energy. You get bits and bytes of energy by connecting with what's important, with the new, by rediscovering the "old" and by helping others.

Thanks for reading. John