November 07, 2013
It's only three weeks until Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays. Most years, we huddle up with family and friends, and give thanks for the bounties in our life. In too many cases, we are thankful for stuff: home, possessions, luxuries. In some cases, we are thankful for the people in our lives. That's when it has the greatest impact on our psyche.
In Today We Are Rich, I wrote that gratitude is a muscle that we need to exercise often. Otherwise, we get spiritually flabby, lose our gratefulness and nosedive in our relationship lives. This applies to work as much as it does our personal life, too.
So here's a simple exercise you can give your gratitude muscle over the next few weeks: Buy a box of Thank You cards (nice collection here). Create a list of professional connections that have made a real contribution to you or your work over the last year. Write a short note in each card, itemizing what he or she contributed, and what it has meant to you. Send the card so that it arrives the week of Thanksgiving. Your entire investment will run you less than $30, including postage.
Do not take any shortcuts here. Don't send an emails or an electronic cards to save time/money. They don't have nearly the impact as a real card that you've signed with a pen. Don't limit giving the cards to those that report to you or work side-by-side with you. Find people that might be surprised by your gratitude, yet deserve it for their contributions.
This exercise is inpsired by my friend Brian Palmer, who has surprised me on many occasions with a thoughtful Thank You card. When I've told him what a classy move it was, I could sense that he got just as much out of the exercise as I did. And now I know why.
The whole experience will force you to turn up your noticing knob, trying to locate the recipients for the 20 Thank You cards in your box. The act of writing a short note to each person on your list will cause you to recollect the times when he or she was there for you, and it will fill you with positive feelings.
Like any work related gratitude exercise, the experience will also drive something deep into your perspective: You are not alone. There are people in your life that are helping you, supporting you and caring about your future. This will bolster your sense of confidence about your future, knowing that you are not in it alone.
You'll also see your mood lifted and your behavior influenced by the process. One taxi driver I met in Denver told me that he was taught to believe that gratitude is a compound word: Gracious + Attitude. He's right too. When you are dialed into what people are doing for you, your ability to bounce back from life's little obstacles will be greatly enhanced.
Check out this video from Soul Pancake, which demonstrates the emotional benefits of expressing gratitude:Tweet
October 31, 2013
Success is not a destination, it's a direction: Forward. However, it's surprisingly easy to end up going sideways in life. Aimlessly moving neither forward nor backward. Passing time, waiting for a sign or a miracle. I've experienced this in my life, and I'm sure at some point you likely have too.
In some cases, a tragedy or adversity sends us spinning like a top. A death in the family, a lost job, foreclosure, divorce, etc. But in most cases, we go sideways because of our thought patterns and not reality. While life is still good to us, we find a way to go negative on the inside, and quickly steer our career into the abyss. Our thoughts shape our way of seeing the world, and design our emotional response system.
How does this happen? We change what we put into our mind. We start to listen to a new program on the way to work. At first, we enjoy the shocking news or crude humor, but then it eventually seeps into our psyche. Or we start to hang out with a mean spirited or pessimistic person at work. He eventually convinces us the sky is falling and that most people are 'out to get you'.
As we are adding these negative inputs, we stop consuming the positive. Our mind is quite binary in that it's hard to enjoy both diets at the same time. The former inoculates us from the latter. If the world is coming to an end and people can't be trusted, how can you be grateful?
At some point, the negative inputs change our focal point, and our work suffers greatly. Our new perspective makes us less appealing to others and less resilient when faced with a challenge. The little failures that follow likely confirm our dour outlook, and we add to the problem by increasing the negative inputs: More bad friends, more bad programming.
Here's the risk: At some point you stop moving sideways, gain traction and then enter the downward spiral. Going backwards into self-destruction. That's when it becomes hard to right the ship. There's not clear threshold either. You won't see the shift into reverse coming.
Here's your way out: Feed Your Mind Good Stuff. Be as judicious about what you put into your head as what you put into your mouth. If you find yourself muttering internally about all the things wrong with your life, this country or the world -- check your sources of information. Scrutinize them for positive-neutral-negative intentions. Rethink your media patters and consider changing out your work friendships.
Once you scrub out the negative inputs in your life, replace them with constructive ones. Spend your first 45 minutes of each morning reading from a book that gives you confidence, inspiration or direction. Find a new colleague at work to lunch or spend time with, and give her as much positive feedback as she gives you. Quickly, you'll find yourself moving forward again, as your thoughts dictate your actions and reactions.
If you know someone who has suddenly jerked his career sideways, and you cannot figure out why, now you know. And it's time for YOU to be the positive inputs in his life.Tweet
September 10, 2013
The abundance mentality comes from your belief that there is enough to share. It drives your success in both business and life. Without it, you possess the scarcity mindset, a primal way of seeing the world. While racked with scarcity-think, you'll hoard what you have, be jealous of those who are doing well and repel opportunities from your life.
I believe that the abundance mentality is MUCH more driven by our environment than our personality. All things being equal, kids are natrually generous with each other. Over time, based on their context and experiences, they either maintain that perspective or trade it in on the scarcity mindset.
These days, it's pretty easy to create an environment that induces scarcity-think. You turn on the news, and they bang the drums of gloom, doom and despair. You hang out with people that declare the sky is falling. You surf social media sites, often being drawn into bad-news or tragedies of the day.
In Vegas, there's a prevailing idea: Keep the betters at the table long enough and the house wins. This works the same for you: Keep eating negative information and eventually the forces of Scarcity win the battle for your mind. And you stop giving, loving and caring. You adopt unnatractive personality traits like envy and selfishness. You compete when you should be collaborating.
How do you avoid this? FEED YOUR MIND GOOD STUFF. You should be as careful about what you put into your head as you are about what you put into your mouth. You should avoid all types of media that are designed to grab your attention VS those designed to feed your mind helpful information. If you'd like my entire system of Good Mind Food, download this free chapter from Today We Are Rich.
One last idea: Your mind's breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Don't load up on info-carbs like your email Inbox, social media and TV news. Instead, spend a 1/2 hour or so reading out of a book that expands your mind, makes you better at your job or gives you a glimpse into the future.
Norman Mailer called his morning reading ritual "combing his brain." That's a great way to think about what it takes to stay positive, confident and generous.
For more, check out Mojo Rising: Get Out Of Scarcity Thinking on Vimeo.Tweet
July 18, 2013
Last week, I had a chance to catch up with a friend who just moved to LA to work in the music production industry. He's read Love Is the Killer App several times, and put several of the ideas into practice. He's mentored several up and coming engineers as well as lending his network to those seeking a new gig.
"But here I am, still living check to check," he said to me. "Few if any of the people I've helped have done squat for me. How can your system work in the real world?" This is a question I've struggled with while writing the book, touring to promote it and mentoring dozens of people over the last decade. It's very hard for a human to give to a taker, and then be OK with being took.
In my experience, however, I've learned something critical: Nice Smart People Succeed. Note I didn't say Nice People Succeed. The big difference lies in being smart about whom you help out and what to look for before you help out a second time. So here's the advice I gave him:
Only Give To Fellow Givers - Too often, we get sucked into helping out users, because they are very good at conning us out of resources. Screen people first for their generosity by asking them who they've helped out recently, and how it made them feel. If they fumble for an answer, reconsider whether this is a good person to promote or mentor. If you give to a generous person, at the very least, they'll pay it forward. (I know that it sounds harsh for me to say that we should deny selfish people our talents and gifts, but the Takers are well organized and constantly stealing what they can. The Givers need to circle their wagons accordingly.)
Don't Give Away The Scarce Or Non-Replenishable - You have intangible gifts that actually grow when you give them away. Take knowledge sharing. When you give wisdom or advice to others, often you get feedback from them later about how it worked, which only sharpens your saw. When you intelligently share your network of relationships, your total circle usually expands due to reciprocity and goodwill. If you give away too much time, money or permissions (letting others break the rules), you'll run out eventually, and then be VERY senstive to the ROI of giving.
Take The Long View - Don't expect to see results immediately. By suspending your expectation for immediate reciprocity, you send a powerful message to your recipients that empowers them: I expect nothing in return. This usually gives them a feeling that they too should be as generous and helpful as you, and that you truly gave them a gift...and did not look at them as an investment.
Photo/Drawing by Joy Martin
November 21, 2012
We were passing out gift certificates to employees, having some cake in the break room and knocking off early the Weds before Turkey Day. My admin got into a conversation with one of our maintainence employees about how much she was looking forward to Thanksgiving. She asked him, "what are you doing special tomorrow?" and he softly replied, "It will be another day, with too much food cooked, which we'll share with our friends and neighbors. Besides the sharing part, it's a typical day for us, because every day we give thanks for this bounty."
He and his family had moved to California from central Mexico several years before, and he was now a citizen with gainful employment and a way to send his two kids to college. "We never thought this could happen for us, and when it did, we made the decision that every day was Thanksgiving," he continued. "Except Nov 25, and that's the day we make more than we need. Then we have a ball feeding others with it. We can afford that once a year!"
This is the true spirit of what the Pilgrims meant when they set aside a day to give thanks. They never thought they'd find a new home, with so much bounty to feast on. Here's my takeaway: as Billye taught me, 'gratitude is a muscle, not a feeling. If it were a feeling, you'd be feeling it all time!'
I'm going to find a Thanksgiving signal in every day, from home to work or even as I run errands. I'll rethink Nov 25 as a day I demonstrate my gratitude by helping others find their bounty. This way, my focus will be on what I have to share, and not what I lack.
What are you thankful for, every day of your life!? Tell us in comments and exercise your gratitude muscle.Tweet
July 17, 2012
Yesterday, just before I took the stage at the CEMA annual conference, I got the news. Dr. Stephen Covey Sr. had passed away at the age of 79. It devastated me. Over the last 15 years, he's done so much for me, it's hard to put my gratitude for him into words.
We shared the same agent, and when Love Is the Killer App came out, he was one of the first people to endorse the book. Of course he would - I was one of his progeny of thought (more on that later). Later, he recommended me for a convention (one of my first big ones) and to a training company. He was that kind of person.
Of all contributions he made to me, my life and my work...identifying the Scarcity Mindset and introducing me to The Abundance Mentality moved the needle the most. Way back in 1996, just before I went to work for Mark Cuban and joined the Internet Revolution, I was reading The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People in bed one night. A passage from the book jumped off the pages and clobbered my way of seeing the world:
"Most people are deeply scripted in what I call the Scarcity Mentality. They see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everybody else.
The Scarcity Mentality is the zero-sum paradigm of life. People with a Scarcity Mentality have a very difficult time sharing recognition and credit, power or profit – even with those who help in the production. The also have a a very hard time being genuinely happy for the success of other people.
The Abundance Mentality, on the other hand, flow out of a deep inner sense of personal worth and security. It is the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody. It results in sharing of prestige, of recognition, of profits, of decision making. It opens possibilities, options, alternatives, and creativity."
Wow. I had a choice, and the more self-confident and faithful I became, the easier it would be to choose Abundance - making it my first response to adversity or plenty. It harkened me back to my days on the farm, raised by Billye to choose giving over hoarding.
Over the course of the next 15 years, I've told hundreds of thousands of people that they've had a choice, a final freedom and it would define us forever. Through two major meltdowns (dotcom bust, Great '08 Recession), I've counseled leaders to be aware of the impacts of Scaricty thinking and to 'give their way out of lack.'
What I've learned since then is that scarcity thinking is a natural response to life's downs. It invades our psyche, creeps into our langugage and eventually determines our actions. We start to hoard when we should be sharing. We respond to change with 'what about me' instead of seeing the bigger picture. We compete at work when we should be cooperating. It is the great equalizer, ensured by the business cycle and life's uncertainties.
I've given pretty simple advice on how to beat it: Feed your mind good stuff, Give to be rich and Excercise your gratitude muscle. I've received thousands of emails from people who have resonated with the message, and made great strides in their life. All of this due to a single passage in a wonderful book by a significant man I adore.
Dr. Covey frequently used the funeral metaphor to help us "start with the end in mind." He challenged us to visualize our funeral and our tombstone, and what people would say about us. Would they say we were effective, generous and significant? I suspect that later this week, at his wake, the talk will echo this post. While he often acknowledged that "he didn't come up with anything new", he did change the way we saw the world with his clarity and prescriptions for life.
The last time I saw him, it was in Salt Lake City at a Skillsoft taping a few years ago. He tossled my hair, encouraged me to expand my work beyond speaking at conferences and left me with a final thought: "People are great as a result of the small, but cummulative habits they develop. There's no one thing that makes a man. Its the combination of your ambition and attention that makes all the difference to others in your life." Amen.
From 2009, here's a video of me talking about the Scaricty Mentality.
June 19, 2012
Last night I gave a talk to a group of donors about generosity. The point of the talk was that giving is an area of excellence in our life, just like any other activity.
Some people are great givers, and others are sporadic to innapropriate. It's critical that we approach giving with a Good-2-Great mindset because, after all, there's only so much time or money in our budget ... and the world needs us to punch above our weight.
Here are 7 ways to be great at giving:
1. Turn Have-To's Into Get-To's: Don't give out of sympathy or duty. Your recipients don't want your charity, they need your support. When you find yourself at Aristotle's intersection of purpose (your ability and the greater need), rejoice that you've been given an opportunity. This will produce an attitude of gratitude on your part, and bring you the Helper's High that generosity can produce.
2. Give As A Relection Of Your Values: Don't give randomly. Focus on the values you hold the highest and concentrate your efforts there. If you value health, give to a hospital foundation. If you value community, consider donating time to local cause. By aligning giving with your values, you'll possess the tenacity to finish what you start.
3. Give All The Time: Generosity, like gratitude, is a spiritual muscle that needs to be worked out constantly. Don't let your generosity be a one-and-done phenomenon. The more you practice generosity, the better you'll get at making a difference with your assets.
4. Obsess About Return On Giving (ROG): Think of ROG as the ROI of charity. If you are donating money, question the flow-through rate of every dollar you give. Anything less than 80% is likely funding the organization, instead of moving the needle. If you are volunteering, review the results of the projects, to make sure they are worthy of your time.
5. Diversify Your Giving Portfolio: If you are in the habit of donating money, diversify your generosity by donating time. Mentor someone in transition that you can help. Invest an hour a week into networking others into opportunity. By combining tangible and intangible giving, you'll be able to keep doing it even when business/social cycles change your personal situation. Sometimes you'll have more money and time or vice versa. In either case, you'll remain generous .
6. Talk The Walk: Share what you are doing with your friends and co-workers. Don't worry, it's not bragging if you are helping. It's recruiting! When you share your walk of good with others, you influence them to do the same. Generosity is contagious, but if you keep it a secret, how can ever catch on?
For more, read The Power Of Giving.
June 01, 2012
We are a networking service that partners authors with publishing talents to produce great books that are effectively promoted upon release. After publishing four books through the antequaited traditional model, I realized that there had to be a better way...The Net Minds Way.
Currently, we are working with over a dozen authors on books of all types. We've built up a network of free lance editors, book designers, mareketers, and publicists to work with them. Each partner gets a piece of the book's profits as part of their comp package. We strongly believe that joint-ventures make better products ... and in my experience, sharing the upside makes all the difference.
Here's the May Net Minds list of projects, looking for partners of all types. The authors are impressive: Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, former CMO of AMD Nigel Dessau, media visionary Robert Tercek and nine others. If you know a freelancer that might be intersted, please forward this blog post to them. The deadline for responding is Thursday June 7.
November 23, 2011
It's easy, with all this Black Thursday Night and Black Friday talk, to think of Thanksgiving as a commercially made up holiday. But it's not. It's certainly at risk of being hijacked by the money changers, but still, it was created to observe a moment in spirit. A moment of abundance, community and fulfillment.
Many of you are up to your ears in last minute work or travel plans. But don't let that distract from the opportunity at hand: Give thanks. In Today We Are Rich, I talk about how my grandmother Billye always reminded me that gratitude is a muscle, not a feeling. "If it was a feeling," she'd say, "you'd feel it all the time!"
So, the key to staying gracious (gratitude is a compound word: Gracious+Attitude), is to flex your mental ability to sense bounty, attribute it correctly and express your feelings accordingly. There's no time like Thanksgiving to do that, without raising any suspicions amongst the cynics. Here's what I recommend for tomorrow, before the Turkey and football:
1 - Itemize your support system: Spiritual, Family, Friends, Work and Community. Think of their intentions towards you, how much they love you or are aligned with your goals. Always start gratitude exercises out focused on the sources of abundance (people, God, etc.) and not the symptoms of abundance (wealth, stuff, luxuries).
2 - Review how much your supporters have done for you over the last year. Don't forget to include the smallest gestures, often, they are the ones that make the biggest difference to us. Think of how far you've come in the last year, and how you couldn't do it by yourself.
3 - Invest a sitcom's worth of time writing a note or making a phone call to one-loving-soul to share your feelings and express your gratitude. There's an old saying that's appropriate here: Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a gift, but never giving it." You'll find that this part of the exercise leads to a real feeling of abundance on your part - far more effective than merely counting your blessings.
4 - Now, as a leader, help others in your life do this too. Be public about your exercise and encourage others to join you. Don't let the Thanksgiving Grump have his way, push him to admit that he's not alone in life, and that others are there for him. This is the season to realize that we have so much to be thankful for, and there are so many forces in the world that want to take that feeling away from us - because scarcity is the ultimate motivator of men to act.
Express your gratitude in comments, and experience the joy of expressed-thanks. Thanks to Sue Jenks for the graphic above, which I found this AM on my Top Stories feed on Facebook.
November 07, 2011
Not in a good or a bad way, just in a profound way: What does it mean? When I turned 40, the theme was, "it's the new 30, just a number!". The last big birthday milestone for me was 21, the age of legality and adulthood.
Our society makes a big deal out of turning 50, punctuated by my receipt of my inagural edition of AARP's magazine with my name emblazoned on the address label. Others I know have wrung their hands or shrugged their shoulders at turning 50. Everyone has a different POV about it, largely influenced by circumstances.
For me, turning 50 was a milestone, but not necessarily the last one. My thoughts crystalized over the weekend at a hot dog stand in Studio City, where I stopped for a guilty pleasure lunch. First: I got a polish with sauerkraut instead of a chil-cheese dog (my all time fave). That symbolized my sort-of-recent focus on eating and living healthy. I can still have fun, I realized, it just needs to be thoughtful.
As you get older, you realize you are not invincible and lifestyle decisions have real consequences. I went to the doctor with a cold last week, and she reminded me to have annual blood work, especially to check my blood sugar. "Diabetes will cost you 10 years of your life," she repeated to me. Wow, 10 years is a long time, I thought. I contemplated all the live I lived between September 11, 2011 and today. It was a life's worth of challenges, opportunities and thrilling adventures. Wouln't trade that for anything. So, I'm going to live healthy, to live longer.
Second, I noticed an octo-generian with her grandkids, huffing and puffing to keep up with them. She fawned over them like it was the last time she'd ever see them. In that observation, my second thought emerged: You are not getting older, just closer to the end of your story.
Everyone of us lives a story. It has a beginning, a very long middle and an end...sometimes sudden and short. We are the producer, director and protagonist of it. Sometimes the antagonist too. I've been thinking about my story, my significance, that I'm trying to tell with my words and deeds. It's a Love Story, that's for sure - my relationship with the world based on my belief that people are good and shouldn't suffer unecessarily.
As I get closer to the end of my story, I become more attuned to the feedback loop that informs me as to whether I'm giving, using or taking in my day-to-day life. 50 isn't the end, but by all accounts, it's the clear beginning of my life's Second Half (or 2nd Act). So, wishful intentions are not enough. I need to contribute in a meaningful way I can measure, iterate on and improve on until the day I die.
And so 50, then, is a milestone that means this to me: Live long and (help others) Prosper.