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!

The Power of Honor

The word, honor, is a big one. Some cultures hold it as one of the highest values to live with every day. Our culture has reserved it for special occasions.

Listen here for some insights into how honor can be expanded, especially when realizing it was missing in a relationship.

Just Keep Stretching

Can you really stretch so that you can achieve more in business and life? Yes!

Stretching is important in your development. Stretching is the process in which you go for what you really want - looking beyond what you think you are limited by and getting around obstacles that are in your way. Stretching changes the way your brain works, so you have greater capacity for producing the results you want. Then from there you can stretch more.
Listen more here.

How to get Unstuck

In your pursuit of creating outstanding outcomes, you will likely get stuck from time to time. The bigger the goal, the more likely it is that you will hit roadblocks and get stuck, whether you’re role is in transformational leadership, business development or you just want to continuously be fully engaged in your career success. Here are the top 5 ways to get unstuck and gain momentum toward your most meaningful goals.

1. Move – take a walk, get some exercise – don’t just stare at the screen.

2. Brainstorm with people – gather a list of possible ideas to draw from

3. Transform bad ideas to good ones. – Consider trying something that’s “not good enough” and see what it opens up. Getting stuck often comes from thinking that what you have in mind is not good enough.

4. Revisit the timeline – Create a MUCH bigger game with more time, or create a bold goal for an interim step and rally the team to that milestone.

5. Get coached. Coaching is the sure fire solution to getting unstuck.

What will you do this week to get unstuck?

Barbara Corcoran confirms – Fun WORK$

At last Friday’s Westchester Grow 2.0 conference, keynote speaker and “Shark Tank” celebrity Barbara Corcoran shared her stories and secrets of success. Barbara started the Corcoran Group with a $1,000 loan from a boyfriend and ultimately sold that business for $66 million. One of her “life lessons” was one of my favorite themes. “Fun is good for business” she said. She told stories of taking her employees on a double-decker bus tour through Harlem. Her company threw all kinds of costume parties (an underwear party on Valentine’s Day, 500 Nuns, etc…) Barbara also told the story of a sales manager meeting held under a conference room table. Can you imagine everyone dressed for success but crouching together under close quarters. With the laughter and camaraderie EXPERIENCED from these bond building experiences, everyone WANTS to WORK hard and support each other for unprecedented success. Listen here to find out what resulted and keep in mind that humor and humanity is refreshing in an environment of formality:

How about you? What will you do to shake things up a bit and bring more fun to your goals and challenges?

The Power of Alignment

When you have a team of people all unclear of the direction they should be going, it’s like everyone rowing a boat in different directions. It bobbles around an goes nowhere.

However, if you have everyone rowing in the same direction, the boat moves with velocity to the places you want it to go.

This takes transformation leadership, which are dependent on many ingredients. Here are three key elements.

1. Clarity of Direction – known what the clear vision is, what the intended outcomes are and what the benefits to everyone will be if those outcomes are achieved is a critical starting point.

2. Clarity of Communication – knowing the direction is irrelevant if you don’t use your powerful voice and passion to communicate your vision.

3. Listening – Even with a powerful voice and passion, you must speak to people who will listen, and they will listen more powerfully if you have listened to them.

Listen here for more on the subject:

How to Master Uncertainty

If you’re up to accomplishing something inspiring and worthwhile in the realm of transformation leadership and/or business development, you will often find yourself facing questions, decisions and situations that present an unnerving state of uncertainty. In fact, no matter what you do and what area of your life you look, you’ve already experience this a lot.

The bad news is that uncertainty is essentially the opposite of confidence, which we all aspire to develop and build on as an important ingredient in our success.

The good news is that there are some simple ways to deal with uncertainty that you can practice anytime you need, and thereby build even more confidence and strength.

But first, an inspiring quotation from John Houston Finely, 3rd President of the City College of NY…, who is known to have said “Maturity is the capacity to endure uncertainty.” I’m personally inspired to use this quotation today because last week I was honored to be included at the inaugural event of ACG Cares - hosted at The Macaulay Honors College of CUNY.

Let’s go over four situations of “not-knowing” and explore how to get confident and clear:

  1. Not knowing the answer to a question – This is a big one. We all would like to think we have all the answers, especially when we’re good at what we do. But we’re not perfect, and so it’s important to be prepared.

    • When making a presentation, having a meeting or networking, make sure you have memorized the answers to the key frequently-asked-questions you are responsible for.
    • For information that is regularly changing, set up an easy and fast reference system so you can get answers quickly and efficiently.
    • In the event that you can’t answer a question right away, don’t worry. People will respect you if you answer honestly and professionally by saying: “That’s a great question. I don’t have a thorough enough answer for you right now. When could I get back to you about that?” If the questioner really wants to know, that will become an opportunity to enhance a relationship!

  2. Not knowing the solution to a problem– There are two steps to this, and is best done in a team environment, or at least in collaboration with another person.
    • Breakdown – identify all of the aspects of the problem.
    • Brainstorm – come up with all types of ideas – good, bad, ugly, and brilliant – and explore them without judgment. Doing this allows unusual ideas to be presented, which can be turned into out-of-the-box thinking.

  3. Stuck on a Big Decision – Follow the three step process:
    • Set a deadline – You might think that this adds stress, but knowing there is a definitive endpoint actually makes the process a little easier – you’ll feel better and get more support when you know specifically when you’re going to complete this process.
    • Gather the data – Gather information, explore your feelings on the matter, weigh the pros and cons, and look at what I like to call the “fork-in-the-road factor.” If you go down Road A, what’s the cost if you change your mind – and how does that compare if you start out on Road B and then change your mind?
    • Introspection – The day before the deadline, find your favorite environment to reflect and ask yourself this question: “What is my best next move?” Don’t think about “should” and “shouldn’t”, but go with your gut, and trust your instinct.

  4. Not knowing the answer to the smaller decisions – This is a great way to practice honing your gut instinct. With the smaller decisions, trust your intuition. My friend, David, calls it “belly brain!” Get to know it better and better and it will always serve you well.

Have a question you can’t answer, or a decision you’ve been hesitant in making? Look through these steps and trust your gut. And if you find yourself a bit overwhelmed, let me know and we’ll figure it out together!

Where "Outside the Box" Comes From

Thinking Outside the Box is one of those cliché’s in business that you can’t ignore… because the truth of the sentiment is so critical to breakthrough business growth.

Businesses that want to grow rapidly and dramatically, distinct from incrementally and slowly, need to consider transformational thinking. If you agree and are in a position of transformational leadership, or if in your business development efforts you can get your clients and prospects to begin to think along these lines, you can make a world of difference.

According to Super” CFO Michael O’Connor from Arsenal Capital Partners, budgets can be limiting. “Budget’s limit creativity and creativity and innovation are imperative to transformation. Thinking Outside the Box is always the way we generate changes in companies that foster dramatic growth.”

Everett Cook, Private Equity Firm Founding Partner and Principal of Pouschine Cook concurs, “Sometimes the “Thinking Outside the Box” ideas come from inside the box… from employees. Your employees will tell you what they are doing wrong if given the opportunity… if you really listen."

The method I recommend is letting your employees know that they will be heard… and every complaint and every suggestion will be acknowledged and validated, although not every idea will be acted upon. If you let your people know that you will prioritize the top 10 ideas and put them into place in a reasonable time frame or perhaps in an outstanding time frame.

That brings to mind listening… Listening deeper, broader and intentionally is a key secret to leadership, business development and career success, not to mention personal satisfaction. We’ll talk more about that next week. For now, what will you do this week to listen to your customers and stakeholders for trends, changes and ideas that will blow the lid of the box of your growth plans?

Luck and Habits

Top o’ the marnin’ to ya, and Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.

Today we’re going to distinguish luck and habits, which actually are powerfully linked.

We’ll start with a quote from J. Paul Getty - “The individual who wants to reach the top in business must appreciate the might of the force of habit–and must understand that practices are what create habits that can break him–and hasten to adopt those practices that will become the habits that help him achieve the success he desires.” – J. Paul Getty

Listen to today’s podcast for some insights and inspiration regarding how you can create more luck in your business, your career and your life. Consider:

What habits do you have that contribute to your success – and how can you expand on those?
What habits do you have that interfere with your success or habits and practices that you don't do consistently that would make a difference if you did?

Through practicing the right activities, making habits of doing the right things and being in the right places at the right times, you create your own luck
"I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it." – Thomas Jefferson

Wishing you good luck and good fortune.

Raise Your Standards now – or lower them!

Should you raise your standards, or should you lower you standards? We always have standards, some idea or model or comparison... a picture of how it ought to look. As you develop your transformational leadership, interpersonal communication or business development goals and strategies, - be aware of where you are on the spectrum.

Listen along here to get the best results from this post

1. Raise Your Standards. Executive leadership includes looking at the elements, people, resources and practices that contribute to your goal. Is it time to upgrade your standards for excellence regarding those elements that are critical to your success, and make a plan to make changes that would make a difference

Sara Blakely addressed the Women's Summit in NYC in 2011 and spoke about how she had high standards in mind, sets goals along the way, keeps the ball moving, holding high standards despite feedback that her idea was crazy - she knew she was the standards enforcer for all who wear hosiery.

2. Lower Your Standards? Look carefully - are your standards too high, or based on an unrealistic timeframe? Are you striving for perfection when just good enough would do for now. Eric Reis, the creator of The Lean Startup concept, believes that a “Minimum Viable Product” mixed with a healthy dose of uncertainty is the secret to success - using efficient leadership and constant evaluation. Perhaps you can get done with stage one - raise standards later.
How about you? Is it time for you to get your ball moving forward by raising your standards or temporarily lower them?

Olympian Inspiration for Business

Today we are inspired by the last few weeks of the winter Olympic games, where the world comes together to compete in peace and harmony. There were rumors and threats by terrorists, but the games went on and provide outstanding drama, entertainment and inspiration.
Adam Toren, a writer published in Entrepreneur magazine, wrote a terrific piece called “Go For The Gold: 5 Business Principles to Learn from Olympians," which you can read here:

1. Big vision: Adam’s article poses the question, ” What separates someone who just skis from someone who skis the Olympic downhill course? To start, big vision.” Olympic skiers have had Olympics in their sights for years. Many since childhood. It doesn’t matter when it starts, but it does matter how big, bold and nearly impossible your dream is. If you want to always be wired and energized for success, then you need to create and focus on a goal that’s much bigger than “just getting by.” You can do that!

2. Tenacity – After speed skater Ahn Hyun-soo had already won two gold medals for his native South Korea in speed skating, he suffered from a fractured team in 2006 and a fractured knee in 2008. He nearly gave up the sport. Instead, he joined the Russian speed skating team, reinvented and renamed himself Viktor Ahn (Viktor is Russian for “winner”) and trained with great coaches to go on to win gold again in Sochi. When you have a setback, think about the figure skaters and ski jumpers who have devastating falls and injuries only to brush themselves off and get back in the game with a focus on winning. You can do that!

3. Grace Under Pressure – Olympians prepare themselves for what usually amounts to a few minutes or seconds of performance. In music, amateurs practice until they get it right, professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong, no matter how much pressure is present. In business, pressure and setbacks are abundant, but truly successful people do the preparation and personal development to stay cool and rise above all adversity, and therefore can play a bigger game with more at stake. If you play bigger, you win bigger in business. You can do that!

4. Mentors – Adam writes well on this subject, saying: “Coaches push their athletes during training and cheer for them during the moment of their performance. These athletes in return work hard, listen to the advice offered and push themselves to be the star their coaches see in them. You can do the same. Learn from the Olympic athletes and get yourself a coach. Your performance will make the investment well worth it.”

5. Teammates – in one of the speed skating competitions, Viktor Ahn was clearly helped to the gold position by his teammate’s crafty positioning and blocking. Adam makes the correlation in business by writing, “It’s up to you to select, support and sell them on your vision and surrender your interests to get them on board for the overall greatest success of your vision. Be an Olympian and assemble the best team available.” Again, I say – you can do that!!

SO… how will you apply the inspiration of the winter Olympics to be a champion in your business career?

Listen here for a motivating podcast on this topic

Keep me posted – I love to hear about your victories.

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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