Welcome to the "Thoughtful Kick-Start." If you subscribe, you’ll get something useful every Monday – savvy, upbeat insights - that will lead to exciting results by Friday (and beyond). Enjoy!

Being Creative and Resourceful

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Albert Einstein once said “Creativity is contagious, pass it on”. I wondered what it meant when I first read it. But it didn’t take long for me to recognize it as being aligned with one of my own favorite philosophies. I believe every human being is infinitely resourceful and creative. I believe that creativity is like the common cold. Anyone can catch it.

Think about how creative you are, even in the course of a routine you follow. Consider how many thousands of new combinations of words and phrases you create every week in your conversations. Think about the number of e-mails you write every day. Imagine your world if you weren’t engaged in being creative and resourceful in any transition you’ve ever made, from a career change, personal move, to a new home or leadership development. Being human, you are infinitely creative and resourceful.

The next time you get stuck on something, or better yet, as you consider something you’re stuck with right now, remind yourself that you’re infinitely creative and resourceful and see what ideas arise or which people come to mind who can help.

Last week I attended the graduation of 17 entrepreneurial women from a brand new program called “GrowthSource Academy.” Each of these women entrepreneurs was more creative than the next, and it was exciting to see how they developed from the training, mentoring and coaching that the program provided. Congratulations! Take a look here to see what I mean.

www.growthsourceacademy.com

I will close with this tantalizing quote from Dr. Seuss “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try.”

That’s all it takes, is to take it on.

So what about you? In what ways will you be creative and who will you bring along for the journey?

Take a Hike – (Leadership Lessons from The Woods)

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Nick Nolte and Robert Redford are starring in an upcoming movie about a trek along the Appalachian Trail. In Bill Bryson’s book, A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail, he writes

“Every twenty minutes on the Appalachian Trail, Katz and I walked farther than the average American walks in a week, that's walking of all types: from car to office, from office to car, around the supermarket and shopping malls – [which] adds up to 1.4 miles a week...That's ridiculous.”

Last week I went for a few hikes in Vermont, including trails around Mount Equinox in Manchester and a stretch of the Appalachian Trail. The friends I was leading through these trails had an excellent time as did I. Along the way, I pondered how hiking in the woods relates to leadership. Here’s what I discovered:

1. Leading requires clarity of direction and capacity to navigate.

Before we ventured out, we talked at length with someone who knows the area. With that insight and a good map in our hands, we set out, happy to chart a course. I was confident to lead because I had done what was required to know where we were going.

2. Stopping from time to time to smell the roses yields surprising discoveries.

When you take a break from usual hustle and bustle, you become present to elements and ideas that you otherwise overlook. In Vermont, we were treated to the sight of a little red fox scuttling across a road.

3. Knowing when to lead and when to follow makes a difference.

With mosquitoes attacking us and thunderstorms threatening the end of our second hike, one of our hikers wanted to charge ahead to get out of the woods faster. Being that the direction we were going was well mapped out, I was happy to let him lead. He moved us along at a terrific pace.

4. Getting active outdoors recharges batteries.

We all work hard in this fast-paced business world and it is so important for mind and body, spirit and balance to enjoy the beautiful smell of the air, the gorgeous vistas and be physically rejuvenated from an outdoor hike.

So how about you? What kind of outdoor activities do you enjoy most that will recharge your batteries, and when will you make time to treat yourself to some adventure nature time?

Bold and Unconventional

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EXCITING BOLD RESULTS

“What I’m doing is going to do some good. And we’re going to change the world.” -Bruce Jenner on being Caitlyn Jenner.

Celebrated male Olympic hero Bruce Jenner transgendered into Caitlyn and graced the cover of Vanity Fair last week. A former college football player, Jenner catapulted to fame when he won the gold medal in the men’s decathlon event at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal setting a world record that held for four years. As Bruce, he was married for 23 years and has six children before coming out as a transwoman after his divorce in 2015. Today, Jenner is the world’s most famous transgender person. That’s bold.

Meanwhile companies that demonstrate bold leadership or are outstanding in how they treat their employees tend to produce exciting results. For example, late last year, Apple overhauled its employee benefits, including longer paternity leave, to attract and retain top talent. This kind of progressive interest in having happy employees deliver exciting results is unusual in our marketplace.

Another example of strong leadership is demonstrated by the Westport, CT, based Bridgewater Associates which is infamous for its unorthodox work culture. It has been said to attract and groom self-styled intellectuals and deep thinkers who like constructing arguments as much as they enjoy constructing portfolios. Its 1,300 employees are expected, not just encouraged, to uncover, explore and confront their weaknesses and develop their strengths. As much as 40 % of new recruits don’t make it through their first six months even with an 18-month cultural orientation support program. But those who do survive, learn to be really rigorous about who they are, how they think and behave and how to make powerful decisions that have high-stake impacts . This is precisely how the company got to be the world’s largest hedge fund with $169 billion in global investments under its management.

What about you? What is your organization calling for in terms of your bold and unconventional leadership?

Big Vision - Exciting Results

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“When I grew up, what was interesting for me was that music was color and life was gray. So music for me has always been more than entertainment.”
--Pete Townshend, principal composer and lead guitarist of British rock band The Who.

I just saw The Who on in Brooklyn, part of the “Who Hits 50” Tour, celebrating their half a century as a band. Townsend said halfway through the packed concert that it seemed that getting to these big arenas start to happen within a year for today’s young performers. But it took The Who years before they played big venues like Brooklyn’s 675,000 square-foot Barclay Center that seats up to 19,000 fans.

That kind of exciting result requires vision – a very clear picture of the results you want to produce.

In the 1979 documentary film “The Kids Are Alright,” – the Who’s biography to that point, Townshend said that whatever The Who were doing, they were doing it big. That explains his signature big windmilling move he does with his arm when playing guitar, the smashing of instruments, and lead singer Roger Daltrey swinging the microphone in big wide helicopter propeller swirls. Even when the late John Entwistle played standing still as a spider in a web, his fingers would roll across the bass like a swift predator.

As I talk to clients this week, I ask all of them: what’s an extraordinary result that you want to produce in a period of time that would be a tremendous victory.

I ask you the same thing: what is an extraordinary result that you can envision celebrating? Lock it in your vision now, and you will do what it takes to succeed.

Getting Empowered - Staying Empowered

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"As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” Bill Gates.

The conversation today will be about extraordinary empowerment. Let it inspire you.

I was at an event last week at the Essex House on Central Park South to commemorate the 10th anniversary of “Getting Out Staying Out” or “GOSO”. This is a program that empowers young men in prison to get jobs on their release and stay out. Successful professionals go to Rikers Island to empower these young men from day one of their incarceration. They help get them ready for lives with jobs in mainstream society through education, vocational training, employment assistance and coaching. They continue to be coached when they return to their communities.

The evening’s headliner John Leguziamo, an actor and comedian, presented humor, insight and a personal commitment to the program. He introduced a few GOSO guys who each performed monologues from John’s writings. John augmented these personal readings with brief interviews, providing a deeper glimpse into each young man’s life. While everyone was dining at this posh banquet, the real gems of the night were the “GOSO Guys” between the ages of 18 and 24 who were keynote speakers, award recipients and performers at the event.

One of these guys, known for his big smile, had enrolled in every class the program offered. Another one was hired by a hair salon. He developed such a great attitude and created enough trust in his workplace that within a couple of months he was promoted and given the keys to open and close the salon. I had the pleasure of sitting next to a young man who was fascinated by numbers, data sets and market research. These skills led to his employment by a non-profit to help them get through the system of getting funding from the state. He was so animated and appreciative of me that evening for helping him “get his networking on” as he puts it. His energy was more delicious than the fancy meal at the Essex House.

I was moved by these touching stories about people who would otherwise have most likely returned to prison as NYC is known for its 67% recidivism rate for men in this age group.
GOSO reduces recidivism to under 10%. That’s empowerment.

So how about you – who will you empower today in such a way that would change the course of their life?

The Power of Purposeful Prefacing

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Andrew Stanton, Oscar winning film director, screenwriter and producer said, “Working at Pixar you learn the really honest, hard way of making a great movie, which is to surround yourself with people who are much smarter than you, much more talented than you, and incite constructive criticism; you’ll get a much better movie out of it.”

Today’s blog will inspire you to set a purposeful context for any conversation that you initiate to make a positive difference. The form of communication we’re exploring is called prefacing - if you start a conversation off on the right foot, it is more likely to go in the right direction.

For example, I was with a client last week and I sensed that he needed to upgrade his attitude towards his boss. He declared, “She doesn’t want me to collaborate with her. She wants to make all the decisions and just tell me what to do.” I knew that his point of view could be valid, but it was dis-empowering. I wanted him to consider a new view, but I wasn’t going to argue the point.

So I prefaced our next conversation with the words, “I want to provide you with some constructive criticism. You’ll hear it as good news.” By framing it up that way, he was able to hear my criticism as a contribution and a worthy suggestion rather than as me negating and debating him.

Prefacing is particularly useful when providing constructive criticism. Letting people know that your purpose is to empower them and to explore possibilities establishes a positive purpose. You are more likely to have the person listen and engage rather than misunderstand you. Without that preface, people you are managing might take a defensive position. When you declare your intent and/or ask a person if they are truly open to another view, you save time and energy. Such clear communication prevents bad feelings and makes the difference between a failed project and a successful year.

Be careful not to use prefacing as an inauthentic way to hide true negative feelings of disappointment, anger or frustration. Get over those emotions first. Make sure an authentic positive intention of your preface is fully appreciated and accepted. Otherwise, a preface can amplify the negative feelings they are trying to hide.

So what about you? What conversations will you generate this week with a positive, empowering purpose and how will your approach to prefacing make a difference?

Powerful Declarations

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“The word is a force you cannot see, but you can see the manifestation of that force, the expression of the word, which is your own life.” -Miguel Angel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements.

Today’s theme is going to knock your socks off. The subject is declarations.

Declarations are often a beginning. They also sustain and provide momentum for the something new and powerful happening, something that might not otherwise happen.
A dictionary definition of a declaration is that it is something that is avowed or proclaimed. It’s important to understand and be aware of the power of declarations in your communication. All of your work and life accomplishments boil down to speaking and honoring your word - the things you say, promise and put at stake.

A tremendous example is the Declaration of Independence, a statement that forged the United States of America into being an independent entity separate from Britain. In the 50’s Babe Ruth declared that he was going to hit a home run for a young boy who was sick in hospital and then did so. John F Kennedy’s famous declaration inspired people to rally “to put a man on the moon and return him home safely” within a decade. Wow!

More recently, President Obama declared that we would have health care reform which has been something that this country has struggled with for years. While not perfect, there is now a new health exchange.

The neuroscience on the subject is that the brain operates based on the programming we give it, primarily verbally. The more we speak with powerful declarations, the more our brains, and the brains of those who hear and believe in us, trigger behavior and commitment to fulfill on those declarations. There is biochemistry behind the notion that if you say it will be so, so it shall be.

I declared that this message would knock your socks off and it has or it will especially if you answer the next question powerfully and follow up with commitment.

So what about you? What’s a goal you are willing to declare will happen? What new actions and approach will you take this time to make it happen?

High Performance Energy

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“An energetic man (person) will succeed where an indolent one would vegetate and inevitably perish” Jules Verne –Late 19th Century Science Fiction Pioneer and Author.

Recent studies show that managing your energy to keep focused, motivated and confident is more important than managing your time.
Here are tips that will help you stay at the top of your game so you close more deals and better deals through networking, due diligence and business development.

1. Sleep. Follow your natural sleep cycles and you’ll have more energy during the day. The deepest sleep is in the first three hours. You’ll be in pretty good shape with another three hours. If you sleep more than six hours, go for seven- and-a-half or nine hours to follow the natural progression of 90 minute cycles. Get up as soon as you mind does and you’ll have the right biochemical balance in your brain.

2. Water. Have a water bottle handy and fill it up a few times. Drink enough water and your brain won’t have to struggle to get nutrients to your prefrontal cortex where you do all your decision making, relationship building and where you figure things out. You fill your car regularly with what it needs, so fill your body with the fluids it needs. While you’re at it, watch your nutrition and eat healthier foods.

3. People. If you are an introvert, close the door and shut yourself away to do the work you love to concentrate on doing. Extroverts should partner with an introvert who will love to do the desk work for you while you go to all 70 ACG meetings scheduled this year. You’ll do more deals and better deals and have the career accomplishments and satisfaction you deserve.

4. Mindset – The bottom line on high performance energy is to always be in an inspired, motivated state of mind, or to be able to return to that state of mind quickly, no matter what happens. If you want to win big in the game you’re playing, you might want to consider having a coach to elevate your mindset and strategies for success.

So what about you? What are you inspired to do differently to boost and support a high level of energy and confidence?

Dissecting The Fear of Success - Part 2

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“It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.” Theodore Roosevelt.

Last week we took apart the fear of success. We looked at the joy of success, and explored what you could be afraid of and would prefer to avoid if you were to be successful. If you succeed at one thing, you may fail at something else. So in a sense, fear of success is boiled down to fear of failure as well.

We created a diagram (see last week’s blog) in which we had you write down some of the things that you fear about success, for example, sustaining a high level of demand and responsibility or having no free time.

It is important to dissect your fear of success, understand your fear of failure and frame-shift into empowering thoughts. Otherwise, the limiting beliefs and fears hold you back or sabotage your full greatness and potential. You want to enjoy the one life you have to the fullest degree with no regret.

Frame-shifting replaces a fear or disempowering belief with one that leaves you empowered.

For example, in my career, I was concerned that if I were to be too successful, it would demand that I would have to travel a lot. While I like to travel, I was afraid that too much travel would get in the way of my commitment to being around for my children and I would fail as a father. A frame-shift gave me a new way to look at this. By being more successful and creating even more demand for my services, I could choose when to travel and when to collaborate on a project with a team member who would take the trip on my behalf. With that freedom of thought came great freedom to be more effective in my work, in my leadership development and in a balanced, happy life.

I will be going over this frame-shifting exercise more thoroughly in our tele-seminar tomorrow, March 31, at noon eastern. Dial 712-432-3066 and enter the code 410-106#. We take your limiting beliefs and fears and do some frame-shifting to provide you with new levels of freedom and empowerment for your balanced success.

Meanwhile, I always like to ask, how about you? What is the limiting belief that you’re prepared to frame-shift and replace with an empowering possibility?

Dissecting The Fear of Success

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“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did do. So throw away the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor… Explore. Dream. Discover.”
- Mark Twain.

Let’s take a deep dive into the fear of success, because it’s possible that you’ve only considered the fear of failure. It seems that the more insidious and sneaky fear that derails peoples from being successful is the fear of success, which is the belief that something bad will happen if you become successful. It is important to take this apart and dissolve it because it could, on some sub-conscious level, hold you back from the natural actions and communications that will have you easily be successful. It could lead to some frustrating sabotage.

A client of mine shared that if he were successful and made a lot of money, then he might be irresponsible and spend his money too quickly and then be frustrated with himself. That fear of mismanaging his money was holding him back.

We’re going to do an exercise on this in a one-hour tele-seminar on Tuesday March 31 at noon Eastern time. If you are on my email list or subscribe to this blog, you will be notified of this tele-seminar and have access to the recording.

Let me give you the first steps in an exercise to disappear your fear of success.

- Take a piece of paper. Write on top: The Joy of Success.
- Draw a horizontal line halfway down page, thus splitting the page into a top half and a bottom half.
- On the bottom half, write the words “Dissecting The Fear of Success,” and draw a vertical line down the middle of the bottom half, splitting the bottom half into two columns.
- On to the top half first, write down a few words that represent what you would enjoy if you were successful, for example, relaxation and freedom. What would be there for you if you were successful?
- In the left hand column of the bottom half, write down some of the things that you would have to deal with if you were to be successful or moving towards success that you’d rather avoid. For example, sustaining a high level of demand and responsibility; or having all your time consumed; or being suspicious that people are only interested in you for your money; or that it will contradict a long standing self-image or attitude about wealth.
- In the right hand column of that bottom half, we will reframe each of those challenges or find solutions to them. We’ll talk more about that next week.
- We will also fill the top of the page with more words representing the joy of success.

So what about you? What are you afraid of on your road to success that you can be courageous about this week?

Welcome! The purpose of this blog-cast is to provide thoughtful perspectives on leadership, team dynamics and peak performance for leaders and top producers. You'll start every week with savvy, upbeat and focused insights every Monday (read and/or listen) to produce exciting results by Friday (and beyond). Enjoy!

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