Blog2021-02-20T16:50:50-04:00

No Good Very Bad Day

Some days are not our best. We get tired, stressed, and don’t always have it together.

It happens.

When it happens we have to recognize that it’s only short-lived and we’ll get back to normal soon enough. Recognizing that this is the ebb and flow of life can help us stay positive and not get too down on our poor performance or circumstance as we realize we can get back to our normal self tomorrow.

However, if it becomes more of a consistent pattern then we need to analyze the root cause.

Have we changed our sleep patterns?
Are we eating differently?
Have we changed our exercise?
Are we stressing or worrying over something?

Inevitably we’ll go through spouts that knock us off our normal routine and it’s recognizing this early that’ll help expedite a solution and start working toward that better direction.

When in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask yourself these types of tough questions. Although we may not like to admit the correct answers all the time it’ll be worthwhile to our long-term mental state and help us get out of the rut much sooner.

June 25th, 2021|

I Don’t Know

Sometimes saying “I don’t know” is the first step to a new discovery. The admittance that we are naked with our knowledge, vulnerable with our thoughts, and open to what will come next might be all we need to break out into a brave new direction.

That single truth of acceptance is the catalyst for change.

June 23rd, 2021|

Optimization

Optimization the action of making the best or most effective use of a situation or resource.

It’s not about using the most gadgets to help us or getting things done as quickly as possible. It’s about the thoroughness and focuses we put into the work.

If we have 30-minutes to complete something, shouldn’t we put 30 good hard minutes in? 

Instead of figuring out how to get as much done as possible, we might consider what things are the most important to get completed and then doing those as best as we are able to. If we get to the others that would be a bonus.

Sometimes the most effective use of our time is not completing a task at all

As we practice, our best can get better, and therefore the craftsmanship we are able to put into a project improves and the rate we can judge whether something is worthy to complete or not will become amplified.

June 21st, 2021|

A Moment Of Silence

We are all bombarded by constant distractions from the moment we awake. Emails, texts, Social media, music, podcasts, TV, etc. It controls us from the onset and never lets up.

Some of it is useful but most of it becomes drawn out and overdone. These distractions have slowly crept more and more into our lives and it’s only getting worse. 

If we know these distractions are inevitable then it might be wise to block deliberate time out each day to find silence. Because when we find silence we start to find ourselves.

Silence can be weird, I know. It’s uncomfortable. Sitting with your thoughts and your thoughts alone. It’s almost become unnatural when it might be the best thing we can do for ourselves. 

The mind can quiet and relax. The mind can focus. 

When the outside world is shut off it allows our inner voice to finally speak up and share what we truly think. If we listen closely and respect the voice inside us then it has the power to open up new doors we haven’t considered before. It might be as simple as an idea to pursue or a thought to hold onto as we go through the day. It might point out some areas we should look to improve or be cheering us on to keep going. It doesn’t matter what it says because it’s all purely honest and authentic.

Each of our voices is unique but the only way we get to hear its true words is to quiet everything around us. 

Sit on the floor and close your eyes, go for a walk in the woods, relax on your back porch. It doesn’t matter how you do it. Find what works for you. 

It also doesn’t have to be for hours. Start with a minute. Progress to 5. Maybe someday get to 10, 20, or 30 minutes. 

If we make a small commitment to taking back ownership of our time and use that to eliminate the distractions then we might start to enjoy the silence. 

It becomes positive fuel for a happy and healthy life.

June 18th, 2021|

Cheering Them On

There is no downside to encouraging others and building them up to achieve greater heights.

We all need to take the “it takes a village” mentality as we go through life and remember that if others are doing well and improving then that’s a great thing.

Cheer them on. Applaud them. Help them. Guide them.

But don’t discourage them. It’s okay to provide constructive feedback but simply being negative and shooting down their hopes and dreams doesn’t do anyone any favors.

We’ll be in that situation soon enough and we’ll want to look back and see that there is a cheering section rooting us on in our next endeavor.

Let’s put the ego aside and show our support for others. It’ll give them the confidence to keep going and we’ll have a much more positive experience from helping them move forward which will only help us the next time around.

June 16th, 2021|

Staying At Arms Length

I used to teach junior golf when I was a PGA Professional and there is one thing I observed countless times that is very true.

The most independent kids and fastest learners are able to make mistakes, work through the answers, and solve the problem without parenting intervention. They might have struggled or have asked a lot of questions but they learned.

If parents are readily giving their kids the answers, doing things for them, and waiting on them for everything then the kids don’t learn as fast and cannot be self reliant in emergency situations. They have a hard time thinking on their own and solving real world problems.

With this comes self-doubt. They are always looking over their shoulder for an answer instead of acting in the moment.

Before we intervene, be sure it is actually necessary. A little struggle and life lesson learning isn’t such a bad thing for our kid’s and it can make them much more resilient and well suited for a world that doesn’t care if they are prepared or not.

June 14th, 2021|

Balancing Act

When we are starting, it can be helpful to look to others that appear “further ahead” as motivation and evidence that whatever we are thinking of doing is very well possible and within our means. This is not uncommon.

On the flip side, we have to be aware that what others are doing may not be exactly where we want to go and our aspirations and mission will undeniably be different. We have to learn when to value their insights and when to stay focused on what we need to do. We can’t fall into the trap of following.

Gary Vaynerchuk was a great “online mentor” of mine dating back to 2011 and helped me think differently about entrepreneurship and the impact I could make on the world. My brother was also in close proximity having started a business and was early in his entrepreneurial journey and he was someone I could leverage as a guide.

It took me a while to realize that their dreams and goals were different than mine and If I tried to copy, I wouldn’t be working toward my “North Star” and would inevitiely fail.

We can’t do it alone but we also can’t be held back from achieving our greater mission in life by matching others.

It can be a balancing act, but following your intuition and using others as the guide and not “the way” will help you level out your path and be able to follow your “north star” much more easily.

June 11th, 2021|

Ticking Time

We get 1440 minutes a day. Every day. It never changes. Well, until we have zero. Time is ticking.

When we feel we have so much left we often take it for granted and squander it away. We make some decisions that are questionable even if from the outside they seem so blatantly obvious.

We’ll sit in line at Chick-Fil-A but won’t find time to call a friend and catch up with them

We’ll thumb through Instagram but won’t start the book we’ve wanted to write

We’ll crank out work after hours but are too busy to read a book to our kids

We have all the time in the world to get busy work done but there’s never enough left for the important stuff.

Making the right decisions with our time and prioritizing the important stuff ultimately leads us in a direction of lifelong fulfillment. That is for certain.

It’s hard to recognize the we are wasting time when we are in the moment and only after we take a 30,000 foot view of the situation we can realize there are areas that can enhance our lives simply by replacing one time commitment with another.

Small wins, each day, leads us to the life we’ve always wanted. It’s just hard to see the trees from the forest at the beginning.

Zoom out and the picture becomes much clearer.

June 9th, 2021|

Deep Thoughts

We can make the argument that either deep exploration or a wide-spanning of information can work for a lot of varying situations. Part of it depends on the outcome goal. Defining that might alter the route we go.

Wide spanning and surface-level focus might be valuable as we try to discover new and exciting things. We can spend a small amount of time dabbling without committing a ton of time and energy as we figure out if we like it or not. This can be valuable to exposing ourselves to new endeavors and adventures.

At some point, if we ever want to rise above the noise we have to put a tremendous focus on going deep. Deep into a niche, deep into one direction, deep into learning.

It’s very uncomfortable to put a line in the sand because we have to make a decision and the accountability now comes on us to invest time and energy on one area knowing that we’ll “miss out” on dozens of other potential routes.

We can hang at the surface and be safe but the real growth and change happen when we dive deeper and give it all that we have without worrying about the alternatives.

June 7th, 2021|

Are You An Imposter?

Are you creating the life that you want?
Are you pushing the status quo?
Are you finding areas outside your comfort zone to explore?
Are you learning and adapting to change?
Are you different than you were a year ago?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then you are not an Imposter. You shouldn’t have Imposter Syndrome.

You are creating, you are exploring, you are evolving, and you are doing it your way. You are in the small percentage of people in the world that are actually doing this.

We cut ourselves down too often by thinking we are some “Imposter” in the realm of what society believes but the fact that we are outside the bubble and forging our own path is good enough.

Stop beating yourself up.

You’re you. There’s nothing Imposter about that at all.

June 4th, 2021|

What are you great at?

Greatness is hard for an individual person to conclude on their own. Although we might be able to lay out several areas that are worthy of the answer we can often skew the results with what we want to consider our “strengths” when they may not exactly be that. Ego gets in the way a lot.

If you want to know what you might be great at, ask your closest friends. Pick 3 for starters.

Ask them “if they had to pick the one thing they feel you are great at what would they choose?” This can be any number of things like writing, listening, compassion, organizing, etc. There are no wrong answers.

When you start to see patterns in your friend’s responses you can lean into their answers and start to discover where the truth lies.

We may not want to always admit or accept what others see as our great attributes but respecting the results of our close friends will get us on a path to happiness much quicker than going about it alone.

Try it and see how different their responses are from yours. You may save yourself a heck of a lot of time not going down the wrong path.

June 2nd, 2021|

A Day Off

Do you ever sit back and think about the abundance of technology and the impact it has on our lives, both positively and negatively, especially when it comes to those “smartphones”?

We often take it all for granted.

What if tomorrow we didn’t have access to Wifi or 5G.

Phones would turn back into actual phones. Their power over us would have limitations. We could be free.

What could we do? What would we do?

Have you ever considered what you might do if your phone wasn’t at arm’s length and the access to “boredom alleviating apps” weren’t accessible?

What would you do?

That’s what I’ve been pondering to myself. How much do the phones control us versus us controlling them?

Simple question but the answer seems much blurrier now than in years past.

May 31st, 2021|

Consistently Aware

It’s hard to argue that consistency is one of the key ingredients to accomplishing anything. If we don’t put in the time and energy into something for an extended period of time then there can’t be expectations that “success” will be achieved.

However, we have to keep in mind that as the days, weeks, and months pass we are growing and changing and so too should our investment in our awareness and how we continue to adjust the navigation points toward our future.

We must continue to review our work at various checkpoints throughout the journey to make sure we are still proud of what we have put out into the world and that it is continually leading us toward our North Star.

Just saying we’ve started something and have kept it going for an extended period of time does nothing if it is not providing us the value it once did.

Consistency is only good if we keep adapting and adjusting the finish line to keep up with the ever-changing course of life. If we are doing the same things we were doing a few years ago then it may be a good time to assess the “why” and alter the navigation to point in a newer direction which might lead to much more prosperity and happiness in our lives.

May 28th, 2021|

Lack of Patience is Lack of Preparation

We can all lose our heads amidst chaos and stressful situations. We are not immune to this.

But we have to continue to tap back into our core values and our original vision statement for the future. Far too often when we get sucker punched it is because of the lack of preparation in the first place. We had a rosy picture of the future but forgot to plan for the tough days ahead that were inevitable.

How often have we asked the question “Why did I do that?” as a reactive response to when something happens to go wrong instead of proactively asking “What are some of the things that may go wrong or maybe barriers if I make this decision?”

Had we done the latter, initially, we’d have something to look back on and give us a sense of peace that we knew these things were going to happen and that we planned our minds for this exact situation and “This too shall pass.” 

Prepare for the pitfalls but don’t let them prevent you from going with your intuition and the direction you want to pursue. We can paint up a perfect ending in our minds but we have to be realistic that there will be challenges. 

Uncover those, store them away in your mind, and recall them when times get tough. 

Patience will then prevail.

May 26th, 2021|

Good, Better, Best

We are provided with countless opportunities to rate our experience and review the services provided by others. With technology, reviews have grown in popularity, and become much easier to ask us for our feedback.

We gladly provide it, in most cases, and it’s oftentimes the more critical reviews that get our attention. When it is something that impacts us we want the highest quality products and services and do not want to settle for less.

But when have we thought about our interactions with others and the level of attention we give to them?

There are countless distractions, in more ways than on, while the person on the other side of the table or Zoom call is expecting us to be fully invested. 

What level of “service” would we rate ourselves in these encounters? 

It may be more valuable to our growth if we recognize when we are failing to focus on the people right in front of us and can be more attentive to their needs.

We might find that we build more empathy and compassion for others and help to improve our trust and communication with all of our relationships.

May 24th, 2021|

Swinging Into Action

Starting always takes energy, lots of energy. No matter what it is.

I was watching my son on the playground swing the other day and it reminded me of this fact. When you start on the swing it is very labor-intensive, assuming you are doing it yourself. You have to work back and forth to build up the speed and intensity to keep it going.

And then, at some point, it sort of just flows. We don’t have to fight it as much.

There is a lesson somewhere hidden in there.

We put a lot of decisions and contemplation on the table when trying to start something. Maybe there is a game plan we think we need to put into place. We might even have to juggle a schedule and “find” the time. There is a lot of energy expelled.

We are constantly trying to put all of the pieces together prior to starting something that we forget that the act of starting, the sheer process of putting one foot forward, is enough.

We don’t have to figure it all out on day one nor should we want to. Things will flow more smoothly and the momentum to create will build each and every time we put practice into whatever we are trying to go after.

Of course, there will be obstacles, but we have to let those naturally come into the mix as we progress versus creating artificial blockades right out of the gate.

If we start creating great energy from the onset we’ll be in a better flow state sooner with an increased chance to keep the momentum moving us forward.

May 21st, 2021|

Clear and Present Danger

If you want to accomplish anything you must set goals. We hear this all day every day and although this is sound advice it also comes with caution because goals can be a safe haven for procrastination.

They’re safe because they are in a far off distant land many moons away from us. We can put off the work today because we know that the goals will take time. We can “start” tomorrow and we won’t question it.

As much as we love setting goals we might be equally terrified in putting in the work today. 

Actually getting down into the grind and doing can be hard.

That terrifies us because it means we have to be vulnerable to creation and expose ourselves to the follies that come with creating or doing anything. We will not be perfect and that is hard for us to handle.

The only way to overcome this is to create today. Start today. Whatever it is you want to start or desire to accomplish. 

But…

We have to do it again tomorrow, too. We have to keep putting in the work. Through the good days and the bad. Through the low points and the highs.

Goals are really a culmination of consistency over an extended period of time. So the only way we actually get there is by taking action now and continuing that action on a regular basis.

Start today and your “tomorrow self” will be grateful for the momentum you’ve created.

May 19th, 2021|

The Silence of Generosity

We don’t have to overthink generosity. It can be a smile as you pass someone in the street or a random act of kindness to someone in need.

There doesn’t have to be a reward or recognition for generosity to exist. It exists because it’s pure and the intent behind it is truly selfless.

Generosity, on a much less discussed scale, can be about the things we don’t say and the actions we don’t perform.

As Jeff Bezos said on advice he learned from his grandparents, “It’s easier to be clever than it is to be kind.”

Sometimes kindness can be those words we never speak and they end up being the most generous gift we can give someone.

May 17th, 2021|

Downsizing

Our world wants big and bold and lavish lifestyles. We see it all over mainstream media. The “keeping up with the Joneses” ideals seem real. That’s at least the stories we were told growing up.

Get a job and work your way up so you can buy things and be happy and then when you retire you can ride off into the sunset. We were told to idolize the Hollywood celebrities and those that were “successful” which really meant those that were “rich”.

We were told a lie.

The loudest person in the room doesn’t necessarily win. 

Just because we might happen to hear them doesn’t mean we have to listen to them. It doesn’t mean we have to join in.

We have the choice. 

Sometimes silence and separating from the digital world becomes the true gift. Not “fitting in” can actually be a blessing because we don’t have to feel like we are comparing ourselves to anyone else. As we all know, “Comparison is the thief of joy”.

So when the world is shouting “Go left” it’s not a bad idea to sneak down the alleyway and go right. It’s not a bad idea to make decisions that make us happier versus making decisions that make us “appear” happier.

The people that live the most extraordinary lives are often the ones doing it in the shadows, out of the limelight, and away from the noise of the glittering lights.

May 14th, 2021|

Celebrate The Wins

This month I would be celebrating my 10 year wedding anniversary. 

But we didn’t make it much past year 7. 

In a strange way, I still celebrate on that day and spend time thinking about the past. 

The good times and the bad. The ups and the downs. The lessons I wish I knew then but only learned much later. 

The outcome may not have changed. Different people with different values may not have worked out if we played it back 100 different ways. 

And that’s why I reflect. 

It’s okay that it didn’t work out. 

I still cherish the time we had together. The early days were really fun. I was in love and I know she was, too. We’ll always have that time etched in the archives of our story. 

It was a big part of my journey to get where I am today. I’m more grateful than heartbroken. 

I don’t look at divorce as a failure. In fact, it could be considered a win. We both have the chance to learn and change. We both have the chance to explore new horizons we might not have ventured into. We both can use the past as a lesson to help in the future. 

The story of “us” looks different than it did 10 years ago and just because it might not have the fairytale ending doesn’t mean there can’t be a silver lining to it all. 

So, cheers to whatever you are celebrating that have been a big chapter in the story of your life!

May 12th, 2021|

The Same But Different

Today could be that day. Maybe it was yesterday or it could be tomorrow.

At some point, there is a beginning to something new.

A new relationship.
A new endeavor.
A new way of thinking.

We’ve been here before. It’s not new, just different.

So when fear creeps in to limit us from the potential of asking out that person, taking that trip, or starting on that novel we must remember that it’s not always the “fear of the unknown” that stops us but it’s forgetting that we’ve been here before even if it might have been a little while.

We all have been curious or interested or excited at various points in our life. Don’t let today’s decisions be crippling because we forgot how exhilarating it was to go down a new path.

Because we’ve experienced all of this before.

It’s just different now.

May 10th, 2021|

Mind Your Merging

We approach a road construction sign that reads “Right Lane closed ahead, Merge Left”.

Do we merge immediately, gradually, or do you wait until the last possible moment?

When we merge at the last moment we cause a bottleneck and it backs up traffic.

When we merge immediately we may miss cars in our blind spots.

Of course, when we merge gradually neither of these things tends to happen. We are cautious early on to avoid hitting other cars and since we are already in the new lane we can be focused on the road and the “late mergers” that merge in late.

This is how we might think of approaching our projects.

Although we might be nervous, fearful, hesitant or otherwise we must get into a new lane. Taking the gradual approach is the best way to ensure consistency and longevity with your endeavor. If we go too quick we might not have thought through a few of the first steps and therefore we get sidetracked and quit. We also can’t hesitate or procrastinate to start in the first place because we know other life events will get in the way and throw a monkey wrench into our best-laid plans.

So then it’s best to find the middle ground.

Start slow, but always start. Give yourself a chance at getting into a new lane and then focus on the task ahead and see where it takes you. We don’t always know what the road ahead will hold but we can at least be assured that we are on the right path to living our most fulfilling life.

May 7th, 2021|

Anticipate and Adapt

Anticipation is one of those skills that is rarely discussed because it’s not thought of much as a skill. It gets pushed to the side. But if we put focus on the importance of anticipating things then it can help us in numerous ways. You’ll save valuable time, heartache, and frustration.

Like a great “fire escape plan”, if you’re first exit point is blocked, what do you do? You need to anticipate all the time and not just in these high-stress and emergency situations.

Think of events in your life recently that could have gone better (or did go better) because of anticipation. They happen all the time without realization.

If you anticipate certain things happening or are prepared for alternatives should the main plan go sideways, you become more agile and can perform if (and when) things don’t work out as planned.

As a practice, it’s a good idea to think about 2-3 “worse case” scenarios with a situation upcoming and have a plan of action to counter with should the first one not work as planned.

Inevitably, Plan B and C will become the “go-to” in many of your everyday predicaments. Make you you anticipate them happening and adjust accordingly.

May 5th, 2021|

Slow Growth

Evolution, by definition, is inevitably slow. Change is happening but it can be so incremental you may not even realize it’s happening.

When we say someone has “evolved”, it’s a testament to consistency over time and recognizing change needed to happen and they were willing to put in the work to achieve that outcome.

We see others have achieved (insert whatever you are comparing) and often forget that it might have taken years for them to get to this spot. It wasn’t overnight. It never is.

And that’s where we can miss it. That’s where we can become short-sighted. Impatience can be the unruly neighbor in an otherwise peaceful neighborhood. Impatience can disturb the seed that you planted long ago, growing roots in the ground and ready to sprout, but you stop watering it because you haven’t “seen” growth yet.

Change happens on the inside for far longer before it might expose itself out into the world.

Be okay with things taking time as long as you trust you are on the right path. Just because the road isn’t paved doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be traveled.

May 3rd, 2021|

The First Steps Toward Financial Freedom

One of the big contributors to being able to “get started” with anything is to have control of finances and be in a place where we are not bound by our things or our bills and can freely make choices to improve our lives.

I remember the heartache of being thousands of dollars in credit card debt, student loans, car payments, etc. Restless nights were the norm. Not knowing how I was going to make next month’s rent was oftentimes challenging.

The first step, like with most big changes, is to accept the error of your ways and acknowledge that something you did put you in this position in the first place. How did you get here? What are you going to do to get out of it?

The journey isn’t quick. For me, it took almost 8 years from when I made the decision to make the change and become debt-free. It’s a slow climb up a steep hill but making that first choice can create momentum in the right direction.

And then you have two options. Similar to a business, you either increase your profits (income) or decrease your expenses (bills).

The easiest is to look at all of the areas you are spending money on and put a stronghold on those to tighten up a bit. Depending on your financial situation, you may need to make a lot tougher choices than others but the reality is it has to happen or you’ll have no chance to chip away at the avalanche of debt as well as current expenses that keep coming each month.

The second area, increasing income, can potentially be a long road but it doesn’t always have to be.

Questions you could ask yourself to start thinking this way could be…
Should I ask for a raise?
Am I in the right company and should I look elsewhere that would make me happier and increase my salary?
Is there work I can do on the side to make some extra money?
Are there items I could sell on eBay I am not using?

The questions aren’t as hard as the habit change will be. It’s do you really want to lift the financial burden off of you?

Are you willing to live in discomfort for a short time in order to reap the benefits of financial freedom?

There is a lot deeper you can go on this but these are the first steps to get on the right path.

Make a decision for your future and start the journey to get there today. You’ll sleep much better at night and you won’t be stuck making decisions that make you unhappy because you are in a bad financial situation.

April 30th, 2021|

Senseless Scrolling

What did the world do pre-social media? I am trying to remember.

What did we occupy our time with when we didn’t have mind-numbing apps to scroll through and consume.

There are certainly benefits to social media, we’ve all experienced those.

But at what cost? 

I learned a lot from the Social Media Detox I did for the entire month of January 2020 (read/listen here – https://brianondrako.com/all/socialmediadetox/ ) and have realized I am falling back into some of those poor habits again. It means it’s time for a detox again and I’d encourage one for you, too, if you feel you might be on a bit too much.

Try it for 3 days, 7 days, 30 days, whatever you want.

Delete the Apps off your phone to make them harder to access.

Find something else to replace them with; Podcasts, Writing, Thinking.

Assess how you are feeling afterward.

You can get it under control which will not only help in the short term but it will help recognize at later points down the road when you are starting to stray a bit as you’ll recognize the patterns.

Try it and you might find out that you haven’t missed much at all and you’ve gotten more accomplished and feel more focused in your pursuits.

April 28th, 2021|

You Don’t Score Until You Score

We get excited about upcoming events, whether personal or professional, and the impact they could have on us in the long run. We get so excited about the potential of it all.

Events could be anything from a contract that is expected, to a concert that we are watching, to a first date, or to a house closing. Or any number of things we look forward to. 

But how do we react when what is expected doesn’t happen?

The contract gets caught up in legal review, the concert gets rained out, the other person cancels the date last minute, or the house doesn’t pass inspection and misses the closing date.

Inevitably stuff will go wrong. Things won’t ever come to fruition as you hoped. And that’s okay.

That is what should be expected. 

If we are going to get very happy when things go our way then we must find a way to be equally positive when they don’t and take the good out of them for what they are. We may not be thrilled that what we wanted to happen ended up not happening as planned, but our reaction is extremely vital as it can build us stronger to withstand future unforeseen events that could be much worse.

Reframe the situation as best as you can and build a story in your mind on why what just happened can be seen as a positive. How it “not happening” is actually a good thing for you.

Accepting that things are how they are and that we cannot control most of them is one of the first leaps into life-long fulfillment. When we can let life happen, how it’s going to happen, and be okay with it either way then we can get our minds into a place of gratitude versus resentment and anger.

April 26th, 2021|

Be Pliable

Growing up I learned some poor lessons. The loudest person in the room wins.

Sadly, it took me 25 years to realize that wasn’t correct. Not even close to correct.

Shouting gets us nowhere. We may feel like we “win” because the argument ends but it’s only adding kindling to a smothered fire. 

Instead, be open to hearing out the other person on their ideas and working toward accepting that it may not be a bad path to go down after all. Although it means we are not in control it doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. 

Plus, it shows the other party that we can be open and our minds can be pliable to change with different situations. We can think clearly on our feet and make rational decisions that are for the betterment of both of us, not just us.

Rarely does a simple act like this do anything detrimental? The point is to get from A to B with whatever obstacle we are trying to talk through. If we always have to be right and control the situation, that is an “Us” problem, not a “Them” one. Growth happens in all different ways and sometimes it is stepping outside your body (metaphorically) and hitting the pause button on the remote when you are about to insert your dominance or controlling perspective again.

Take a quick breath and look at the situation. What happens if you ask what the other person thinks is the best route and then agree with it. 

It’s a novel idea but what if it works. What if it diffuses a situation and turns the control over to the other party for them to exert their energy. It could be just what they needed to feel heard and it could be exactly what you needed, to be supportive.

April 23rd, 2021|

Shifting Perspective

Humans, like other living creatures, work best when our backs are against the wall and when we are forced to make a decision in the face of certain despair. 

It is the adversity and hardship that can shape us for the better and teach us lessons that can only be learned by going through those experiences.

Have you ever spoken with someone who has been through great turmoil or despair? Maybe they faced war, famine, disease, or otherwise. Rarely do you find this type of person ungrateful or petty. Rarely.

Because they have perspective. 

They’ve scrapped and clawed to get to the point where many of us take for granted.

That is the beauty of perspective. We all can have it, every single day. But it comes with a small price. We have to be willing to step outside ourselves, accept our good fortune and the opportunities presented to us to get us where we are at today. It’s not taking away the fact that we may have worked hard but it’s empathetic to the alternative of what could’ve happened. That we have been dealt a hand with a few better cards in it to play in the game. We may have an advantage when we often don’t realize it.

 We might not have gone through incredible hardship as others but it is the acknowledgment of the potential doom we avoided coupled with gratitude for the path we ended up on that should give us a perspective for today and the days ahead to focus us on the positive when it can be so easy to dwell on the negative.

April 21st, 2021|

Worry

“We suffer more in imagination than in reality.” – Seneca

We can’t control future events that haven’t happened yet. So why do we worry about them?

Worry is based on our self-limiting beliefs that we hold tightly onto. We haven’t experienced the specific event that is in the future but we’ve had countless of “micro-events” in the past that lead us to think either positively or negatively.

If we have a big game to play, rarely do we think we are going to be the hero if we’ve choked in prior games.

If we have a presentation to give, rarely will we see ourselves dazzling the crowd if we generally get nervous in front of a group.

All of these things are deep-rooted in our self-limiting beliefs that we have a hard time getting rid of. The feeling that we will never be good enough. That we will never come through in the clutch. That we are destined for mediocrity.

Despite what you’ve done in the past, it all comes down to preparation with how the future will turn out. Preparing yourself physically, yes, but it’s more of the mental preparation that has a profound effect. Like a muscle in the gym, preparing your mind for these “worry” events takes time and it doesn’t happen overnight. 

Here are a few things to consider the next time you lay in bed and are worrying about tomorrow…

First, we must acknowledge that we are too tough on ourselves. We are imperfect beings. Grasp that and we become much more grateful of the good we’ve done versus the bad.

Second, we must accept that we cannot control future events. The future is unwritten yet so we have the ability to make the best of it and shine in the face of any fears we might have.

Third, we must prepare ourselves with the correct stories to alter our thinking. Just like how the type of bedtime story we tell a child can often determine if they have nightmares or not, we need to have an arsenal of stories to pull from when worry starts to creep in. 

Do you have those? Have you ever written those down? 

Simple questions to pose to yourself like:

  • What are the times you succeeded in a tough situation?
  • What are the times you were calm and relaxed when you could’ve overreacted?
  • When did you feel the most confidence?
  • When did you pull off a great accomplishment when your back was against the wall?

Arm yourself with positive stories that can help curb the negative nature of your worry when it creeps into your life. It inevitably will. 

Set yourself up for potential future success by the inception that happens in your mind right now. “We become what we think about” is absolutely true and only you can control the thoughts that creep into your head.

Choose wisely

April 19th, 2021|

Do Something Different

We know the old saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”

Yet, we don’t make the connection.

We don’t change.

Why?

It appears so simple when you think through it. Something isn’t working well. Let’s try something completely different. Simple. Yet so hard.

I believe it’s hard because we have an ego.

We don’t want to believe it’s that simple and we don’t want to give up our hard-headed approach to thinking we are right.

“Maybe everything is wrong and eventually it’ll change to align with us.” is what we tell ourselves.

Being wrong might be one of the most uncomfortable yet vulnerable things we can do as human beings. It shows humility. It shows strength. It proves we are confident in ourselves.

So, maybe that’s why it’s hard to change because we are not confident with ourselves. We are holding on to these deep-rooted beliefs from a past self. A past self, while quite younger and less experienced than us, still holds all of the power.

We know how to take that power away. It might be scary at first to do it.

We must do the work and expose ourselves to…well, ourselves.

What are we hiding in there that is so scary to come out? So scary to hear from. So scary to meet straight on.

We don’t have to do any of it. We can keep going about our lives like nothing is wrong.

But, then again, isn’t that the definition of insanity?

April 16th, 2021|

A Star Is Born

If you’ve ever studied how a star is made it is by the light elements being squeezed under enough pressure so their nuclei can undergo fusion. But there is also a gentle balance in this process. As long as the inward forces of gravity and the outward forces are equal, the star remains stable.

We often see this type of similar action play out in the world of entrepreneurship.

It’s not quick. It’s not overnight. But it’s a constant force of energy continuing to drive forward.

Why, then, are we so enamored with “influencers” or people who are making noise just to make noise. They may not be building anything of substance and anything that is making their passion bucket overflow.

We need to start following those that are subtle, quietly growing, slowly evolving, and continuing to put goodness out into the world.

They may not be an overnight success but the constant energy they are bottling up will eventually explode and their light will shine through.

That’s how a star is born. It’s in the long drawn out process of adaption as much as the explosion of energy.

Be the person that sees past the glitz and glamour and recognizes the hard work they’ve put in.

Be the person that recognizes the niche they are carving out and the impact it’ll drive for those individuals.

Be the person that believes in them from the beginning when nobody else did.

By the way, that person we are talking about could very well be you.

Your star may not be born yet but it doesn’t mean you aren’t gathering up the energy to burst any moment.

Keep going!

April 14th, 2021|

Don’t Wonder…Ask

There is always a trade-off between asking difficult questions and being comfortable by not ruffling feathers or potentially hurting feelings.

On one hand, you get the cold hard truth. It may sting but you can accept it for what it is and move forward one way or another.

On the other hand, you don’t have to be uncomfortable in a situation and “rock the boat”. However, you have uncertainty, doubt, maybe even “happy ears” by thinking something is good when it isn’t because you haven’t gained clarity.

There appears to be only one route that should always be taken, especially in difficult situations.
I’m constantly scratching my head and confused as to why we choose the other way around most often.

April 12th, 2021|

Create Now. Edit Later.

One of the biggest challenges I had in getting over the hump with creating (Podcasts, books, etc) is that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I felt I needed all of the answers upfront before I could put “pen to paper” and create something magical.

I was completely wrong. By hashing your ideas out in real-time you do a few things…

You learn – You start finding ways that you work best, how to structure your time, and when it’s the right time for you to do your best work

You evolve – You find efficiencies in your work. You find areas you can tweak and remove and other areas that need some extra TLC.

You focus – All of the ideas floating around, once in a tangible format, start to become much clearer. You can understand where the gold is and what is clicking versus the stuff that isn’t as relevant right now. It doesn’t mean it won’t be relevant in the future it means you can put a pin in it for now and focus on the most important stuff.

The first step is always the hardest and generally, the first step is not coming up with the idea but actually bringing it into reality.

Beethoven’s 5th symphony started with one note. Starry Night began with one stroke of the brush.

Your idea can’t begin until it comes into reality.

Get it out of your head and start sculpting it. It’ll transform from there.

April 9th, 2021|

Teach Me Something New

We meet a lot of people that are new to our lives. Some stay and some go. Some are around for a short time and some for a while.

The barometer whether they are a constant fixture in our lives versus a ship passing in the dark can be attributed to many things including the amount of learning we receive.

When we learn new things about them and about ourselves the value of the relationship exponentially increases. When the conversations are stale and “self-serving”, oftentimes the connection is lost.

Become a teacher and help others on their journey. Be selfless. You’ll help others immensely and, in turn, you’ll learn much more than you ever thought possible.

April 7th, 2021|

The Placebo Effect

Most mornings, we get the coffee pot cranking and a fresh tasting “cup of joe” comes out. It hits the spot and can be the spark to get us moving.

But is it the caffeine in the coffee that gets us going or the feeling we get from the process of going through this and the taste we get from it?

I find a parallel between this and social media. There can be the fine line between using social media as a tool and it consuming our precious time.

On one hand, we can convince ourselves that posting online is growing some greater following and “scrolling” is us researching, engaging, and learning. It can be a slippery slope if what was supposed to be a few minutes turns into 27 and we’ve missed other opportunities due to the frequent need to appear busy.

Time is precious and what we decide to spend our time on becomes increasingly important as the sands of time start trickling away.

Be careful to recognize the “feeling” of being busy versus actually putting in meaningful and impactful work. There is a difference and we often underestimate it.

April 5th, 2021|

Find Your Island

Focus is tough any day let alone with the challenges of recent years.

Remote work, virtual school, stress of being secluded. You name it, it’s been difficult.

Loss of focus not only affects our work projects, health, fitness, etc but most importantly it affects our mind. It can weigh on us and make us feel like we are not accomplishing anything. It has a way of making us feel like we are in a constant spiral with no way out.

But we do have a way. It’s a place, really. It’s a place deep down inside that we often don’t visit because it is uncomfortable. It is a place where we have to hold ourselves accountable. That can always be challenging.

In our mind, we can learn to control when it’s time to work and when we let the stress of things grab hold. We can control when to focus positively or let procrastination drip in. We can learn to push your body to the next level in a workout or cash it in and jog to the end.

We need to find a place in our mind to go. I call it an “island”.

It’s a place of loneliness where nobody else can touch you. It’s euphoric. It’s serene. But it may take some pain to get there. We have to push aside all of the distractions, less important work, fear of not being able to accomplish something.

All of it must go.

The only way to get to this spot is to keep showing up. When I was a kid delivering newspapers in freezing temps in New York, this happened to be a visual of a beach with the sun beaming down. That kept me warm. For a tough workout, it’s distracting my brain to think about something else when the pain creeps in versus focusing on the pain when it appears.

There is no right or wrong way for you. It’s about putting yourself in these uncomfortable positions and seeing how your body reacts. What you need to do to get out of the discomfort without quitting.

That’s when you know you’ve reached the island. You feel the same as you did before but are now on a much deeper level and have taken the steps to push yourself outside your comfort zone, through the zone of discomfort, and into a place where few ever find.

Welcome to your island. Isn’t it beautiful?

There is no right or wrong way for you. It’s about putting yourself in these uncomfortable positions and seeing how your body reacts. What you need to do to get out of the discomfort without quitting. 

That’s when you know you’ve reached the island. You feel the same as you did before but are now on a much deeper level and have taken the steps to push yourself outside your comfort zone, through the zone of discomfort, and into a place where few ever find.

Welcome to your island. Isn’t it beautiful?

April 2nd, 2021|

Are You In The Sandbox?

Have you ever watched a kid play in the sandbox?

Some waddle in, others go full-throttle, while plenty scope out the landscape before they enter.

I’ve never seen a kid not go in when the thought of playing in one is presented to them.

Kids are not held back by self-limiting beliefs. They don’t question what could go right or wrong.

They want to play, test, taste, and then iterate.

It may not be the iteration you think of but they iterate.

They build a castle, they knock it down.

They start to dig and then stop.

They drag a rake to make a road, and then they fill it with water for a moat.

Kids instinctively have an idea in their head, baked out or otherwise, as they enter the sandbox.

Then they keep ironing it out. Over and over. attempt after attempt.

It’s not about how great their masterpiece is or isn’t. That’s not what is most important.

It’s the fact that they went into the sandbox in the first place.

February 13th, 2021|

Play the Long Game

We all want to win. We want to be on top and show that we are the best, the brightest, the most talented in a specific area at a specific time. Winning generally feels good.

But what happens after we win? There’s a letdown, a lull, an empty feeling, and a drive to win more to get that feeling back.

That’s what we get when we have a finite focus and are looking to beat others at something. That is acceptable in a game but is hard to replicate when we look at it through the lens of life.

If we don’t have a “North Star” or some vision or purpose driving us forward we’ll always be trying to rush to get to these “feelings” of victory. We become short-sighted, we rush, we sell out, we make poor decisions in the short term that affect us dearly in the long term. Happiness is in short supply.

We have to flip that mindset. We have to believe in whatever our “North Star” is and head toward it. Not with so much of a shot clock running but knowing that we’ll always be going forward and progressing incrementally. Small steps, daily, can create amazing results in the long run.

Our decisions then become focused purely on the long game and they start to build consistency in our processes and our emotional and mental state.  We know we aren’t craving for that big payoff right now but a slow gentle drip of euphoria that we garner daily from walking down the path of our purpose and living in the present moment.

February 2nd, 2021|

F.E.E.L. Framework for Goal-Setting

If you’d like to hear the full audio version of this article on my Just Get Started Podcast click here -> The F.E.E.L Framework for Goal-setting or you can listen on any major Podcasting platform.  This episode originally aired on December 24th, 2020.

Every year-end most of us take time to sit and reflect on the prior year and make an assessment of the areas we achieved in as well as the areas we came up a bit short. No judgment, just realistic truths on where we came from in order to set ourselves up for success on where we’d like to go in the future.

Oftentimes, when assessing our goals, we either completed them too quickly, not at all, or there were too many to even focus on and put the right time into them given all of the other things that come up in life. 

As we sit down this year to put together our goals for 2021, I wanted to come up with a better system that would help us all create more structure around our goals and organize them in a more manageable way to be able to hit the target. I thought about the areas in my life where I always set goals as well as areas to improve that I hadn’t considered in the past that might be relevant to tie goals around.  

This led me to create the F.E.E.L. Framework for Goalsetting.

Here’s how it works.

There are 4 total categories; Focus, Eliminate, Experiment, Learn, and 3 items in each category. I am trying out 3, if you’d like to try 2 or try 4 or try another number then feel free. I’d be curious to hear how it works out anyway no matter the items in each category.

Let me share more on each one.

FOCUS

This category will contain our big projects for the year. What are the key items we’d like to complete that are going to help us get further ahead and bring more fulfillment to our life? Based on our lifestyle and mission, these could be anything from writing a book to starting a Podcast to creating a garden, to whatever. What are some things that we’ve wanted to accomplish this past year that got pushed down the list or is a new idea that has become important we’d like to spend more time on. Also, this doesn’t necessarily have to be a goal that gets completed next year. This could be apart of a larger project that might take many years but completing the first part gets us to the next. Remember, each of these are our goals and our goals alone. Focus on what will make us happy and lead us to a more fulfilling life and that should make choosing much simpler.

ELIMINATE

As we begin to focus on new projects and things we enjoy, it’s also time to look at areas that are creating stress or strain in our life or are distractions that are taking us away from higher priorities. As we think through bad habits, distractions, bad relationships, etc, pick three items that can have a big impact on improving our overall happiness. If we remove happiness blockers while adding items that make us happy in these other categories we will be able to walk out of next year in a better frame of mind and attitude for the future. Examples of things to eliminate like biting our nails, excessive Social Media/TV, sugary foods, negative friend, procrastination, etc. These are just a few and as we consider our own situations there will be some that pop to mind that we can honestly say removing would be such a huge stress reliever for us.

EXPERIMENT

I’m a firm believer that we should always be trying to acquire new skills that are related to a curiosity we have or tied to something that might help us achieve our goals in the future. Sometimes, these might be new hobbies we’ve wondered about and would like to experiment with. There is no right or wrong in these categories and the parameters are to help each and every one of us put together a sound list. We can certainly go, rogue, if we feel it’s in our best interest. Experimenting (or trying) new things is always exciting but it can also come with fear, anxiety, and doubt when entering a new arena we might not have ventured into. That is part of the fun of this because it’s supposed to help us get out of our comfort zone and create new opportunities and experiences in our life. Examples of this might be learning the guitar, doing Improv, learning Karate, starting a Podcast, taking up golf, etc. Notice that we put “starting a Podcast” in both the Focus and Experiment categories. This was done to show that based on each of our situations, one of us may have Starting a Podcast as a big project while someone else may want to try it out without it being tied to a larger project-oriented goal of theirs. Everyone will have different initiatives and drivers in their life. Choose what is best for you.

LEARN

Different than the Experiment category, the Learn category is geared towards topics that we are curious about, passionate about, or would like to get a better understanding of. This is not so much about acquiring a new skill but to acquire deep knowledge of a subject versus “headline reading” or doing a cursory search of a few articles. What are some areas we’ve wanted to learn about more in depth over the years that we haven’t invested the time in? Writing it down and making it an item of focus for next year might be the catalyst we need to put more effort into that learning process. Examples could be to learn about nutrition or more specifically gut health, learn about Mars, understand our political system, learn about Stoicism, etc. The topics are vast and the most important thing is what each of us is excited to spend time learning about through books, podcasts, programming, etc.

So that’s the Framework! 

  • Focus
  • Eliminate
  • Experiment
  • Learn

Organizing our goals into a more structured framework will help us create more actionable and repeatable goals that last far longer than the “new year resolution smell” that wears off weeks into the new year. 

I hope we are all able to create goals that mirror our mission in life whether focusing on big projects, eliminating the bad stuff, experimenting with new skills, or learning more insight about topics that interest us.  We need to hold ourselves accountable in setting time aside for these important items and not be afraid to adapt or change them as we see fit throughout the year. This is supposed to be a fun and motivating process so we need to make sure we keep a positive and optimistic mindset as we go through the year.

If you get stuck, remember this age-old quote; “Before you quit, remember why you started.”

Happy new year everyone!

Carpe Diem!

Brian

December 24th, 2020|

Benefits of a Bedtime Routine

Discovering the power behind sleep has been one of the most important findings of my life and I wanted to share a brief breakdown of some of the things I’ve learned in recent years and how they have impacted my overall daily performance.

Back a few years ago I would sometimes struggle with getting a full night’s rest. I’d either take to long to fall asleep, wake up during the night, or not get enough rest and feel horrible the next day. I uncovered that when I get a great night’s rest I normally have a ton of energy the next day but I didn’t know where the inconsistencies were coming from. Around this time I started to add meditation to my life and found that I liked doing it more in the evening before bed as that helped me wind down and relax. All of a sudden, my sleep quality improved. I was hooked on learning and discovering more.

Shortly after, I came across the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast episode with Dr. Matthew Walker who wrote the book “Why We Sleep” and is a world-renowned sleep expert. I started to implement a few of his recommendations but it was only after purchasing his book and fully grasping all of the reasons we sleep poorly that I was able to form a new bedtime routine.

I’ve kept it simple.

  1. I try to go to sleep around 10-10:30 pm every night
  2. I turn off all devices
  3. I read a book for 20-30 minutes once in bed
  4.  I meditate, sometimes, if my brain is very active that day
  5. I try to lower my body temperature by making the A/C lower or removing blankets (might even be a shower prior to reading)
  6. I shut off the lights and calm my mind

Some of the keys I’ve added to this routine like going to bed at the same time each night and trying to remove devices 30-minutes prior are paramount to gearing your body up for sleep and building consistent routines into this practice. By adding this routine into my life I feel more energized in the morning and I’ve had a lot easier time falling to sleep at night. Nothing is worse than laying in bed for an hour or two and trying to fall asleep and typically those nights happen when I am off a routine like where I might be out late, had a drink, got right into bed after doing work on the computer, etc. Being mindful of the things that prevent me from a good night’s rest has been beneficial to making the right choice most of the time and setting myself up for success with my sleep.

Again, I highly recommend Dr. Walker’s book if you are interested to learn more about sleep and sleep patterns and are trying to improve your overall health and well-being. Here’s a link to find it on Amazon: “Why We Sleep” by Dr. Matthew Walker

If you’d like to hear the full audio version on this topic I recorded a One Mic Session on my Just Get Started Podcast.  Click here to go to Apple Podcasts-> Benefits of a Bedtime Routine or you can listen on any major Podcasting platform.  This episode originally aired on October 22nd, 2020.

October 25th, 2020|

Blogging Every Day In May

Month 5 of my Dozen Months of Discovery is finishing up today and my challenge for this month was to write one blog article a day for the entire month of May, 31 days to be exact. As I write this post, this will be my final one of the month and I thought to share a few things I’ve learned throughout the month.

There are many people who write blog posts daily and have for years, for them this achievement is fairly pedestrian. I was originally going to learn the keyboard for this month but after a conversation in April with a friend and talking about sharing more of my message online, it became clear that a challenge like this would be good for me. I haven’t been consistent sharing my voice online besides my Podcast, which is mostly geared toward guest interviews. The written word is still very important on the internet and since I hadn’t blogged consistently in the past couple of years (5-10 posts a year), I wanted to challenge myself to get into a headspace where I can articulate my ideas into text and have to think through things more slowly versus just spitting off thoughts in my head while recording an audio Podcast.

With that, here are a few things I took away from the month:

Consistency is still the most important

This word has continued to pop up every month of the Dozen Months of Discovery and is a constant message shared with guests on the Just Get Started Podcast. Doing something once or twice is nice but putting the time and energy in to continually accomplish something takes more than just momentum; it takes discipline, prioritization, and grit. Whether it is a week, month, or longer or a different interval of time (launching a Podcast episode weekly), being focused on never missing this helps build the foundation to future success. One of the most glaring differences between anyone who achieved anything is putting in the work over an extended period of time. That has to be part of the equation.

You get better by practicing

Different than consistency, simply putting time into practicing something you are not great at improves that overall skill but it might help build others as well. For instance, I am not a great writer by any stretch but making a point to write every day helped improve my sentence structure, grammar, messaging, and most importantly my creativity. My writing has improved, even if just incrementally, but my creativity and observations flying around in my head were able to be articulated in a different way by making myself have to go through this daily practice. So keep practicing areas you are weak at. You don’t need to practice all of your weaknesses but weaknesses that might be essential to your overall growth, like writing, was something important for me to focus on.

Prioritize & Strategize

I’ve discussed the importance of prioritization before and when you have a challenge like this or anything that is important at the given time you have to make sure you understand where it falls on the priority list. It doesn’t have to be #1 but if this goal, however long, is important then you need to make sure it’s a priority or it’ll fall off early on when other “cool” things pop up and you’ll lose steam. Secondly, once you’ve recognized your priorities and have them listed, you need to strategize how you are going to fit them in during the day. Some days, I wrote my blog articles first thing in the morning while others I wrote right before bed at night. There are always a lot of balls to juggle each day and if you can think through what you’d like to get accomplished and the time it might take then you can make a simple to-do list to get these things done and block out the right time to do them.

Just Finish It

Everything prior is all leading up to the big takeaway, sometimes you just have to muster up the intestinal fortitude to get through “it” and finish. Some days get away from you and you might be tired but keeping your mind focused that you must keep the streak going can be enough to push you to the finish line. Remember, we all have bad days and we all have days that feel subpar but one of the most rewarding things you can do is finish whatever you had planned even when your tank is on “E”. That energy can propel you for multiple days going forward and be just the thing to pull out of your memory bank the next time you come across a tough timeline or situation and remind yourself that you’ve been here before and you’ve finished the race.

I look back at the past 31 days and it’s cool to see the great content I’ve put together, especially an 8-part series on a sales topic I had thought about writing for a year. Using this month as a motivator, I was able to complete those articles and will now be putting those together along with other content for a new Sales eBook in the coming months.  These 31 blog posts may do nothing besides additional content sitting on my website but I take away the fact that I completed another challenge (5 out of 5!) in my Dozen Months of Discovery and can use those experiences for future personal and professional goals I have going forward. Sometimes putting a timeline and line in the sand can be helpful and if you struggle to achieve certain goals you’ve had in the past then maybe this is the time to put that time constraint around it.

Every opportunity is a chance to learn and grow and I hope you’ve continued to do that for yourself this year and will set a new bar for yourself next time with the aspirations of exceeding your expectations once again.

Thanks for reading!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

……..

If you’d like to listen to the One Mic Session on this topic check out the Podcast link here -> Apple Podcasts Audio Link

May 31st, 2020|

Don’t Skip The Trail

I had a chance to get back out to Umstead Park today with my son to go for a nice trail walk and enjoy some of the beauty nature has to offer. As we were about halfway through the walk he started to ask the age-old question, “Are we there yet”, which prompted me to share some insight about life which I’ll share here.

The trail is a metaphor for life and the only thing certain is there is a beginning and there is an end.

We all start out the same way, through birth, although everyone’s trail looks different. 

My perspective on the trail and the difficulty in certain spots is based on my experiences in life up to this point. I might be able to easily navigate certain terrain more easily because I have come upon similar things before and can use those memories to help me get through.  There will inevitably be spots though where I need to pause and consider a plan of how to get to the next step; which rock should I step on to propel me forward, should I jump or take a long step, is there any spot that looks slick. All of these types of things come at us at different speeds and at different times, too. You have to be ready to seize all of the opportunities when they are presented to you and make the correct calculation and best decision with the information you have to go in the right direction. 

My son has a different perspective. For starters, he is much shorter than me so his view on the world is already different. Everything looks bigger and scarier and his footing is a little unsteady because of the surface area of the roots and rocks. It’s not harder, it’s just different. But he also doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. The things that I am looking out for, right or wrong, may not be things that he even considers and that can work in his favor, too. There is also a lot more fear of the unknown because he hasn’t seen as many paths as I have and hasn’t climbed as many hills so his mind isn’t callused as much as mine is.  That will come in time and he’ll have to endure these when they come upon him.

That’s why support systems and having people you trust are so important to get through life. We all need mentors and guides at various times and those lessons taught (like Yoda on Luke’s back during Jedi training) will come in handy as we are on our own and have to make decisions in real-time. You can walk the trail of life alone and maybe do just fine but it gets lonely and dark and depressing that way. Finding purpose is a lot harder.

You won’t always know if this path will lead to the right spot but if you continue to evaluate the terrain coming ahead you can try to get back on course if you happen to veer. So this hits another parallel, what happens when you get way off course?

We all get deep into situations we shouldn’t have whether it is a poor career choice, poor health, or a poor financial situation like when I was in $18,000 of credit card debt. That sucked. I couldn’t believe I got myself in that big hole on top of the car payment and student loans that needed to be paid off. Not to mention the other bills that had to be paid each month.

But I had a choice.

I could continue to go down that path even though I had a feeling of where that was going to lead me; more stress, more anxiety, more frustration, less happiness, or I could alter course and use my judgment and newfound experiences to lead me in a better direction.

It wasn’t going to be easy and it wasn’t going to be quick but for me to get back on level ground I had to keep chopping away in small increments. I had to choose that new path every day. In order to tackle newer challenges that were important to me then I had to make the sacrifices in the short term to help me out in the long run. Eight years later, I was completely debt-free, over 50k paid off, and I felt back on track to conquer new adventures.

And so that’s the moral here, as I told my son, the trail is the fun part and not the destination. Oh, you’ll certainly get somewhere someday but what stories are you going to be able to tell when you get there and what level of pride will you have that you navigated tough terrain and not only achieved your goals but worn the path just a little bit more to help people that are coming behind you.

That’s what I wanted him to learn and I hope it’s a great lesson for you reading this today.

  • Enjoy the peaks and valleys because they are inevitable.
  • Stop and smell the roses and don’t be in such a hurry to get somewhere.
  • Help others by being a guide and marking the trail with your experiences.
  • Don’t let fear guide you on your path but the belief in yourself that ultimately you know the direction if you just trust your own judgment.

Good luck as you navigate your own trail and hope to run into you at some point on the journey!

Thanks for reading!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

May 30th, 2020|

Stymie The Stress

Stymie The Stress

We all deal with stress in our own way and I’ve found that most of the “dealing” is rooted in childhood behaviors and situations that are not going away any time soon. There is hope though that you can change those behaviors and become a person who can deal with stress much better or whatever challenges you’d like to overcome.

I got to thinking about this with a work situation today when I was trying to get some information to a potential client and was waiting on others to finish their side of it before I could send it over. 

In the past, I’d get anxious and be stressed out if things were taking a bit too long. I’d be checking emails or refreshing salesforce or whatever to help me cope and feel like I was at least checking and would be ready to pounce when needed. This was rooted in a lot of childhood issues I dealt with around wanting to make everything perfect because I was always fearful of being judged and not being good enough. I was always someone to go above and beyond in many situations especially when it was with people I didn’t know because of this need to make a good impression. Not a bad thing, I guess, but I’d get stressed and worry a lot. As I got older, this worry continued to transpire into my work and always having that fear of judgment in the back of my mind I’d bend over backward to get things done so quickly.

I still like to try and get things done quickly, that’s just how my personality is and I have a hard time sitting around when things aren’t complete. However, I recognized that it didn’t make any difference for (insert a given task) to be done 2 days earlier, for example, and therefore I became much better at prioritizing and staying patient.

What I have come to understand is that I need to prioritize very quickly the tasks coming across my desk and make lists / time stamps on when these need to be accomplished. If urgent, then let’s get it done but if not then don’t fret so much if it’s sitting there to do in a couple of days. This is where the patience comes in. One of my best traits I’ve learned as an adult and it transfers to many areas especially when dealing with stress and getting things done. It wasn’t always this way but as I prioritize things more clearly I don’t let my mind get cluttered anymore with focusing on it and I move on to the next important item.

The big step to make all of this possible was to address those feelings as a kid that I had to please others and look good in their eyes or I wouldn’t be worthy enough. Although I am continually working on this, I’ve all but conquered that tall mountain. My self-confidence is at a high level and I’ve come to grips that I’m not perfect and will never be. I’ve realized that if I am true to myself and the others around me that’s all that matters and I can hold my head high that I am living the life I want. Trust me, this took many years to work through and it’s a continuing process.

Here are the steps I’d go through and still do:

  • Sitting in thought and reflecting on my past
  • Have the self-awareness to recognize where I need to improve
  • Have the courage to make changes, slowly if necessary, to move in a better direction
  • Keep checking back in with myself and repeating this process to build a more solid foundation

There is no “easy” button, that’s for sure, but dealing with stress and anxiety and worry has been a big issue in the early part of my life and I made a commitment to change this, among other things. It took time and patience but I had a vision for where I wanted to go and trusted the process of getting better every day.

One last thought, I’d encourage a read of the book “Awareness” by Anthony De Mello as a starting point as it was a welcomed addition at the right time and helped a lot in these areas above.

I hope my story helps you in whatever areas you are trying to improve and please reach out if I can be a resource at all.

Thanks for reading!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

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September 7th, 2019|

Grab That Notebook

Grab That Notebook

I’m thankful that I came across an article a few years back where Richard Branson had mentioned that he carried around a notebook to jot things down from time to time because he didn’t want to forget them. I never really thought of doing that in the past. I’d have ideas, thoughts, observations, etc and they’d come and go without any real consideration if they could turn useful down the road.

I decided about 18 months ago to order a couple of notebooks from Amazon (here are the ones I got) to start this process and try to form a habit around carrying it from various meetings or writing it in when ideas pop in my head.

It’s been a gamechanger!

I write down all types of notes from meetings with mentors, business ideas, or just a quote I see online that piqued my interest.  Having these jotted down has helped me stop worrying if I was missing out on an idea but what it has done more than anything is to help organize thoughts that I had in the past and then reference them to see how I’ve grown. Things like what I thinking then, why was it important, what could I learn from it today that I didn’t learn during that time. It allows me to recalibrate in more real-time as I look at where I could have altered course or made a better decision.

This seems a bit old school with all of the digital options out there but just the feel of the pen and paper helps me remember things easier and gives me quick access since it is normally next to my computer or in my backpack. 

Simple thought and idea but I know I personally lacked this understanding and notes I wrote down on a scratch pad would get lost or I’d just listen to a discussion and never fully absorb all the main points. I’d loved to have looked back 10-15 years and see what I was thinking then.

If you are looking to organize ideas and have a roadmap from where you’ve come from then I’d encourage you to take Richard Branson’s advice and carry a notebook around wherever you go. I hope it helps you on your journey!

Thanks for reading!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

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September 7th, 2019|

Consistency: Part 8 of 8 – The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional

Consistency: Part 8 of 8 – The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional

Consistencyconformity in the application of something, typically that which is necessary for the sake of logic, accuracy, or fairness.

I’ve put consistency as the last ingredient on the list because it tends to be the final piece that makes all of the rest work together very well. Nobody, and I mean nobody, has had sustained success in anything they do including sales without being consistent in their approach and work ethic.

There are tens of thousands of examples of short term wins by sales reps or maybe even hitting or exceeding their quota in a given year but it is the consistent professional who time after time continues to chop away and stay in the ring long enough to get to the next round. A Rocky metaphor is apropos here. There are always going to be bad months or quarters but when you continue to hone your skills, build up your book of business, and bring the right attitude to your work then you will only continue to succeed.

It is the sales professional who thinks they have figured it out, has a few big whales padding their pipeline, or is arrogant about their current place on the team that ends up getting complacent and ultimately frustrated when others pass them. These are the folks that tend to churn out of organizations at around the 9-15 month mark when their “ramp” is over and they’ve been found out by the rest of the team.

Consistency allows you to do a few things:

Build Repeatable Systems

Having systems that you can go back to over and over again can only be useful when you are consistent in the way you work both internally and with potential clients. If you continually do a lot of the same things and build repeatable processes behind those then that can ultimately help you carve out some of that wasted time mentioned above. Repeatable systems might be crafting similar email templates that you can customize on the fly, document client information the exact same way (I used OneNote and the Description section in my specific Opportunity), or can ask similar/specific questions in client interactions. This helps make sure you are working toward the partnership in the right way versus missing key information from one call to the next. Building these types of consistent systems in place can do wonders for your productivity and partnership discussions

Create Sound Habits

When you are organized in your efforts and understand how your week generally flows it helps you put up barriers to corner your time and not let the “time robbers” get in the way of it. When you focus like this great habits start to take form like proper time for “pipeline hygiene”, prospecting time, administrative work, and ultimately more time to spend in front of potential clients working through great partnerships. Habits take time to build but if you put the right systems in place and then focus on how to tackle those and what new habits can help achieve better results like task lists, blocking time, batching emails, etc it all starts to come together nicely.

Keep Ahead of the Game

As I said earlier, you are going to have bad months and quarters (sometimes just bad weeks if you are lucky) but they are inevitable. If you don’t get complacent in your efforts and strive to out-pace projections then this can help set you up for success down the road and not get behind. If you have a few good months and try to coast through the rest of the year you are hurting yourself because since nobody can see the future you can’t predict if some of the partnerships you thought were coming in will actually come to fruition.  Get ahead and stay ahead and this can be beneficial in more ways than one.

Consistency tends to get thrown around a lot like a thing that everyone wants to get better at. I believe that building systems to narrow your focus on all the different things you come across in a given week needs to be prioritized in order to be consistent. When this takes form, you begin to week out a lot of the wasted time and can spend it on the right things.

Then it’s rinse and repeat. It’s not sexy but it’s effective. It generally is the people that are the least flashy and stay head down on their goal that tend to win in the long run. They know that staying consistent will generally beat out almost every other person in the long run when others get tired, complacent, unmotivated, or in a rut.

Consistency is a skill that can be learned and it just means to suck it up sometimes despite many barriers. Ultimately, once those minor barriers get worked out you have achieved a lot more than you thought you could and are that farther ahead.

Keep your head down and keep moving forward!

Thanks for reading!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

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September 7th, 2019|

Respect: Part 7 of 8 – The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional

Respect: Part 7 of 8 – The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional

If you want to succeed in almost anything and you have to have others involved then having and gaining respect throughout the process should be a high-value focus item for anyone. In life, respect is so critical and as you get into a sales role when you are working directly with your peers and potential clients, it becomes extremely critical.

Respecta feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.

Internally:

Looking inside of an organization, I have found that respect has had a profound impact on being able to get things accomplished and arrive at a better place as a collective organization. When you are respected by others you are able to have your thoughts and ideas echoed and cheered for which might have a greater impact on helping them get adopted. Remember, this doesn’t always mean every idea will be great or accepted but it gives you more slack to be able to offer up those ideas and speak through them. I’ve often found that the most respected individuals also had the loudest voice because they spoke their mind, professional of course, and came at whatever situation it was with passion and exuberance. Others see this and get on board with the mission because they trust and respect you are also looking out for their best interest as well. As a sales professional, you are on the front lines with potential clients and hearing the good and bad about the company, industry, landscape of the market, etc and your voice has to be heard. However, if you haven’t earned the respect of your peers then it is going to be challenging to have your spot to share and have your ideas accepted.

How do you gain respect as a new sales team member:

  • Respect others and be graceful and polite in your approach
  • Speak up and share ideas – it still may take time to gain respect but often the new people have a fresh perspective on the issues they see so others are willing to listen. When you have your chance, articulate what you are seeing, be thoughtful in your approach, and try to present a solution along with the problem. Doing this early on will start to plant that seed of respect
  • Offer help – the easiest way to gain respect is to show you care. Help other peers when you see them struggle, listen in on calls and be interested in how others perform their job, ask other departments to shadow them to learn about their roles to make the relationship better, etc. 

These are just a few ideas but it is really simple. Come in with eagerness to learn and share and that starts to rub off on people. If you show you are a team player from day one then you gain instant street cred for being approachable and genuine in your dealings with your peers. If you act as you know it all and come in with all the answers, that won’t go over as well. Be mindful of the situation and the groundwork others have laid and try to build upon it and not tear it down.

Externally

I’ve mentioned other ways that respect starts to be gained in a client relationship. Honesty, Candidness, Punctuality, Humility, and so on. There is no secret answer here. It’s that you just want to be a good human being with good intentions and communicate in a way that helps your potential client get further ahead.

Being polite goes a long way. Simple things like:

  • Do you use their correct name or ask them the name they prefer (Mike vs Michael)
  • Do you interrupt or them off often
  • Do you regularly show up late for meetings
  • Do you avoid answering their questions and change course
  • Do you take forever to follow up on emails

These are a few examples but it’s basic etiquette. I boil it down to how you might act on a first date. You’re going to be your best self (i hope). Do that every time when working with a potential client. The more you do it the more it becomes a habit.

Remember, this should be an easy one to remember but it’s hard sometimes and that’s why I think these characteristics are so important to work on and improve. Respect is earned and by proving that you are an honest, trustworthy individual who is looking out for the potential clients best interest then you have the chance to build respect early on. When you gain respect, it opens up a new set of doors with the relationship.

More information gets shared, Your calls get answered or returned quickly. You are the first to know of any changes in timeline or scope. It makes it easier. 

It doesn’t mean you will earn every partnership, far from it, as there are other factors at play. However, wouldn’t it be nice to know if you didn’t earn the partnership and why very early after the decision versus emailing and calling a bunch to finally get a bland answer.

Focus on building the relationship early and often and the level of respect you receive from your potential clients will be in line with others in your organization even family and friends. That’s when sales get really fun when you can have a mutually beneficial relationship with a potential client and cut out all the noise that sometimes gets in the way.

Thanks for reading,

Carpe Diem,

Brian

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September 7th, 2019|

Punctuality: Part 6 of 8 – The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional

Punctuality: Part 6 of 8 – The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional

Punctualitythe fact or quality of being on time

There are so many different paths to success that really knowing the perfect combination is going to be hard to pinpoint. The attributes I’ve laid out so far are what I have observed and experienced myself that are cornerstones to top-performing sales professionals. Punctuality is probably one that can be argued either way but I’ll share why I think it is paramount to any successful person, sales, or otherwise.

There is a great saying that goes, “How you do anything is how you do everything.” I think it fits well into this example.

When you are on time it generally means that you are prepared and organized. If you are prepared and organized then one can assume that you are good at the work you do, thorough, and always follow-up through on expectations.

Those go a long way when serving your potential clients. They recognize the little things in your interactions with them. Politeness and punctuality are generally two of the most glaring. I’ll assume everyone knows how to be polite so we won’t focus on that here. Remember, selling is as much about the product fit as it is about a trusting relationship. You are an extension of the company you sell for and therefore if you are professional, polite, and punctual in all of your interactions with the potential client then they are going to assume that’s how the organization is run as well and they’d be a great long term partner to have.

The flip side, which I was reminded of just last week, is not where you want to be. I was on a first discovery call with a potential client and we had built rapport throughout and the conversation was fluid so when they brought up that they had been exploring some other products I made sure I pried in a bit more and here’s what came out.

Brian: That’s great you all are doing some exploration to see what’s out there, who have you looked at so far?

Potential client: Just one other one at this point…like Gov something..or you know I can’t remember their name exactly

Brian: (in jest) I guess they didn’t make a great impression then, huh?

Potential client: Oh you don’t know the half of it. We called and had a conversation and scheduled a demo of their product and then when the time came for it the sales rep didn’t show up. They didn’t send a message or anything. So we called in later to find out what happens and not only did they not have a good excuse they weren’t even remorseful for missing the call in the first place. Let’s just say they didn’t leave a good impression on us.

Going back to the dating analogy from a prior post, if you were to stand up a date and then not even feel bad about it when they called you do you think that relationship will progress anywhere? It’s disrespectful to the other person and shows that you are thinking about yourself more than them.

Besides scheduled meetings, being prompt with proposals, emails, etc are also very important. I don’t believe you have to reply the minute a message comes in but I like to at least get back to someone within a half of day or at worst by end of day. If the message comes in during the afternoon then certainly first thing the next morning. If you are needing to gain additional information internally prior to responding at least take a minute to acknowledge their email and tell them that you are on it and will return the message soon (or put a more defined time on it). This goes for proposals or other important documents. When you agree on a time then hold yourself accountable to that time (or earlier). It amazes me how simple this notion is but yet it can be missed without properly organizing your efforts.

I’ve written a lot about outward-facing activities when working with potential clients as it relates to these attributes but it should be noted that many of these, including punctuality, is extremely important when working internally with other teams. Showing up to meetings on time, being respectful of getting back to emails that ask for your guidance/insight, and completing tasks when your voice is needed are all things that show you care about the greater mission and are helping the other members of your team succeed.

Sales can seem like an individual sport but it generally takes a village to make you successful. Someone had to build the product, someone had to organize sales materials, someone had to define the ideal client that fits the product, someone had to sell and implement other partners before you so you had great references. Unless you have done this all by yourself, you need others around you to support your efforts and therefore it is important to show up for these types of activities or discussions even though it may not be your top priority. The company needs to hear your feedback in order to improve and it’s an opportunity for you to share your knowledge and help everyone get to the next level. 

Remember, A rising tide lifts all boats. Start by being on time.

Thanks for reading,

Carpe Diem,

Brian

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September 7th, 2019|

Persistence: Part 5 of 8 – The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional

Persistence: Part 5 of 8 – The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional

Persistence: firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.

I have to believe that persistence might be one of the attributes of top sales performers that won’t be questioned on this list. It’s real simple. You must have the ability to push conversations and stay on top of people to be successful because when working with humans there are a lot of commonalities that take place no matter which type of potential clients you are working with.

I could mention a ton fo them but will settle on a few of the major ones:

When They Say “No” Right Away:

This one took me a little while longer to figure out but when you understand the human psyche it actually makes perfect sense. People have been sold to in every which way throughout their lives so unless they are 100% actively searching for exactly what you say you offer then sometimes the early “no” or “not interested” is a reflex reaction that they don’t want to be bothered right now for a numerous amount of reasons you may not know about. This is where having persistence coupled with the fact that you believe you can really help the client based on the information you have can come in handy.

I had this situation come up on many occasions and one, in particular, was back in 2015 when I received a message back from an email that the person was not interested in what I was offering. Fair enough but I had some notes from conversations with this company in the past and really felt that we could help them make a difference with their business. I wrote a very professionally persistent email back explaining why a meeting for 30-minutes would be well worth his time and explained what I thought we could discuss. Long story short, he replied back and took the meeting and two months later they came in as a partner of ours. It was a great fit for their needs at the time and was a great partner and “logo” for our growing company. It turned out to be a win-win all around.

When They Say “Call Me Back In 6 Months”:

This type of conversation happens all the time and is very understandable if you are in the shoes of the potential client. This particular problem you solve is not a top priority at this time and they tell you to contact them back in 6 months or so. Happens a lot, right? Partly, this comes down to good documentation and organization of your accounts but it also mixes nice with a little persistence. Sure, you can wait 6 months and nobody would fault you for it. In fact, you’d be doing better than most sales reps who never call them back at all. However, if you know this should be a higher priority for them based on knowing their business then make a point to reach out 2-3 times over the next 6 months. Not to “check-in” but add them tremendous value. This could be an invite to a webinar that’d fit well for their business case, asking if they are attending a conference in their area, or anything similar to this. It shouldn’t resemble anything other than purely caring for them to improve and trying to help how you can. The reason this approach is helpful is most likely even though the problem you solve is not a high priority it still may be talked about internally and you should be seen as an advisor in their eyes, which makes it fitting on why you would be sending over additional information.

The Potential Client “Ghosts” You:

This should never happen if you have built a trusting relationship early on centered around respect and candor. However, in the case this does happen, use patience to first assess the situation and come up with the various scenarios as to why you haven’t heard from them. After that, persistence tempered by patience will be the winning formula.

You don’t need to “check-in” regularly

You don’t need to say “Hope you’re okay, haven’t heard from you”

You don’t need to tell them you’ve left several emails/voicemails and are following up.

They received them. They aren’t returning them for several reasons:

  • There is no new news
  • The timeline has been pushed back
  • They are swamped with other pressing matters at the moment
  • They are having some personal life challenges
  • And so on…

I tend to lean toward the side of logic in most cases and it’s probably that they are really busy with their actual day job that they get paid to perform at or they have had some challenging personal life things come up. Either way, if you come off as a pest from too many follow-ups you will seem desperate and that will lower your stock value. Continue to provide value in the ways we mentioned above but instead of every other month maybe it’s every couple of weeks especially given the timeline you might be aware of from past discussions. Keep them conversational and continue to back up the points you’ve agreed upon are important for them. Remember, if someone wants to buy something they will. If they don’t, they won’t. The need to remind them you’re there doesn’t help your case at all and can only put you in a worse position once you do get back in touch with them.

There are so many facets to persistence in personal and professional life and I firmly believe that continuing to push through when the times feel tough because you believe in what you are doing will end up paying huge dividends in the future by strengthening your relationships and adding new partners to the mix that didn’t seem possible before.

Thanks for reading!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

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September 7th, 2019|

Humility: Part 4 of 8 – The Evolution of The Modern Day Sales Professional

Humility: Part 4 of 8 – The Evolution of The Modern Day Sales Professional

humility: a modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness.

There is no question that humility has to be one of the characteristics of the best sales professionals. Additionally, one of the sub-categories that are almost certainly in line with people who are humble is confidence. There are certain people that may not be confident in themselves and still be humble, but in sales I’ve found that the ones who are successful in their role often times have a nice balance of humility and confidence. 

Confidence is such a big key to being successful and setting your mindset on a positive track helps you get there much quicker. When you are confident in your ability and realize that you will continue to exceed expectations then it is much easier to be humble. The reason I say this is that if you look at someone who exudes confidence then most of the time (not always) they don’t need to be told “great job” or “you’re the best” or anything like that. They act like they’ve been there before. They generally are the ones who are consistent and expect those results.

Similar to this situation, look at how the top sales professionals act when they bring in new partners. I am not saying they don’t get excited or accept the praise, I am saying that they are much more humble because they realize the hard work it took to get there and they don’t take it for granted. They don’t get a big head about it and gloat because it’s not about an “I’m better than you” mentality. It’s that they are continuing to compete against themselves and try to get better at their craft. They are confident in their abilities but humble in their approach and that balance continues to be a winning formula.

On that note, let’s make sure we don’t forget the humility needed when working with potential clients. I’ve really been speaking about internal-facing interactions but I think that being humble during client interactions might be more important, actually, they have to be.

The potential clients you are working with are fairly savvy these days. They’ve used a lot of products and services and have a good tell that almost none of them are perfect. Neither is your product. We need to look at ways of communicating with the client that exude our humbleness while articulating what we can help them with and what we can’t. If we are saying we can do everything then that’s not only dishonest but also comes off as arrogant. 

We’re the #1 ____ , We’re the Top ____, We are the industry leader in ____

All of this type of fluff and the stories around it don’t make us sound like we are trying to help the client. They are self-serving and arrogant and if you’ve ever tried to buy something and heard this touted you’d know what I mean.

Let’s take the approach that “we may” be able to help the potential client as we continue to look behind the curtain and find out what they truly need. I think it’s wise to be confirming that “we can help you here” but “may not be able to exactly help there” and walk them through a potential future-state where they can envision what is the most important and what isn’t.

A piece of this is also the real possibility that you may not be a good fit and have to tell the potential client that. There is a mix of candor in that but I believe you have to truly be humble to get to this level of comfort passing up on what might be a great “logo” to work with and focus on the fact that the partnership may not be the best fit, for a number of reasons.

A lot of this continually comes back to one tried and true principle of sales. 

Are you trying to help the potential client or are you trying to help yourself? 

If it’s the former, you win every time, even if you don’t win the partnership.

If it’s the latter, you might win sometimes or maybe more than sometimes but in the long run, you will end up losing because your reputation will be stained and your network of people that you could have leveraged for referrals and otherwise will be shrinking.

Start with humility and try to go into each potential client call with that same air of humbleness while still maintaining your confidence and I’m sure that your calls will be much more pleasant, more trust will be formed, and you’ll have a better chance of holding your head high, win or lose.

Thanks for reading!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

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September 7th, 2019|

Candor: Part 3 of 8 – The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional

Candor: Part 3 of 8 – The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional

If you seek out the opinions and perceptions of others about who you are you will generally find a lot of consistency in those responses. If you can look at that objectively and take it for face value then it can be a true eye-opener to confirm the things you already knew about yourself or things that weren’t so obvious and you might want to consider working on to improve.

To that end, I couldn’t pinpoint exactly how I changed over the past handful of years but I knew I changed a lot especially in how I was speaking to all various types of people. I had one friend recently say that I had a great balance of “compassion and confrontation” which came off as very genuine and honest and they knew that I was trying to help.

That’s where I fell on Candor as a trait I believe has made me successful in sales and have seen this in many of the folks I have been lucky enough to be around in sales roles and otherwise.

Candorthe quality of being open and honest in expression; frankness.

I think it’s a 2-part equation to get there, though.

Growing up I remember hearing something on a TV show, and can’t recall the name of the person now, but I remember them saying that they don’t tell any lies at all and are completely truthful in most situations. When pressed, they added “I never have to remember my lies” and that clicked for me. I was sold. I’ve been that way ever since.

Am I going to sit here and say I haven’t lied, of course not, I certainly have at times but I’m not speaking about a “white lie” that we all tell to save a friend from embarrassment or our kids from the joys of Santa Claus. I am speaking about your communication of facts and information to the other people you are around, both personally and professionally.  What has always been interesting to me is that we get upset when others deceive us or lie to us but then we can turn around and do the same exact t thing on a call to a potential client.

Deceiving a potential client to “get the sale” always comes back to bite you in the end. That could be if you are setting up an early discovery call, product demo, or bringing in the business, deceiving at all levels is a bad practice. Listen, we all know there are a lot of bad actors out there and one of the reasons why sales get such a bad rap. Don’t let that be you.

Answer questions about what your product can do completely honestly and be proud that you were able to provide the client with the correct information to make the informed decision.  More times than not, that questions about features they need may end up not even being that important and they’ll appreciate your honesty in sharing the correct information. But if they needed that feature and you blatantly lied then that will be found out during implementation or early use of the product. 

Remember, whether you believe it or not, most people don’t think you have the perfect product because they’ve been scorned in the past so don’t front and act like its the greatest thing in the world. It’s good to have a few warts and it’s okay to share those.

And that is why this is a two-part equation. Honesty is great but when used with Directness, it becomes much better.

Being direct has always been a skill that I’ve struggled with until much recently. I grew up a shy, unconfident, and an out of place kid and always had a hard time expressing myself to others. Additionally, when having conversations that were highly important I tended to succumb to the pressure of it all and give in. I never pressed the situation, I never came back and asked the really tough question, I crumbled.  

My confidence grew slightly as I got on my own as an adult but I really don’t think the directness piece became a strength until just the last few years. I had the great fortune of being around a couple of key people that would shape the way I looked at interactions with others and how to communicate much more effectively.  One of the things I learned from them is how to take my honest approach to sales, coupled with the relationships I was building, and be confident that I could make the room awkward and be okay with it. 

That’s at least how I framed it. Being okay with the awkward silence or look by asking a very direct but needed question. Boy was this a tough task. But it was so needed and it was refreshing the more times I’d do it. Not thinking this would be the case, but people appreciated that I was asking the difficult questions and wanted to uncover all the issues even if they were difficult to talk about. The by-product of it was that I was also more respected when I left the room versus when I came in. My stock would go up in their eyes and merely because I was intentional about solving a problem, doing it in an honorable way, and doing it together.

For that to happen, you must inject honesty and directness into each and every one of your conversations or said more simply Candor.

The most important takeaway I want to share is that this might be the most difficult of all the attributes needed to be successful in working with potential clients. It generally is the most difficult because you may be good at one side of the equation versus the other. It doesn’t work so well that way.

As I shared above, honesty without candor is good in a way because you are giving truthful answers but if you can’t rephrase the question, pose additional prying questions, ask the importance of it all and do it in a way that comes of genuine, it can fall flat. If you take the opposite and just have directness without the honesty, then you may just come off like a complete a**hole. You haven’t shown that you are honest and trustworthy so therefore you don’t have the long leash to pry and prod deeper.

I’m not sure where I’d be without candor. It matches my personality so well but I didn’t realize I had it in me until surrounding myself with people who perfected it and helped me pull it out. That is why it is so important to listen to “top performers” on calls if you can. You are not so much trying to dissect what they say but how they say it and what the reaction is from the person on the other end. I can almost guarantee, if they are one of the top sales professionals, they have a tremendous amount of candor and you can too if you put in some time to focus on the simple equation.

Honesty + Directness = Candor

Thanks for reading!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

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September 7th, 2019|

Empathy: Part 2 of 8 – The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional

Empathy: Part 2 of 8 – The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional

When I think of sales and interacting with people, I can’t think of a word that describes having a “client-centric” mindset more than empathy. This word embodies a mix of both emotional intelligence, social awareness, and the care factor that are all necessary to work with potential clients.

To make sure we are set on the definitions

Empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Sympathy feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.

Sometimes these get confused so I wanted to make it crystal clear. You certainly need to be sympathetic in certain situations that call for it but empathy is more of the “state of mind” that you can relate to what people are going through and put yourself in their shoes.

Here’s an example of a situation I found myself in:

I was speaking with a potential client and we were “late-stage” with the partnership discussions and we had a follow-up call scheduled to progress this to the final steps and get started. On that call, my “champion” shared that their boss’s spouse was gravely ill and this project was on hold for a little while longer until they could get back into the office and focus on this.

I could’ve asked questions like:

Do you have any expected timeline?

What else can I do to help move the project forward

Should I follow-up in a couple of weeks to continue discussions?

All of these would have been bad ideas because it doesn’t put the client first. Sometimes there is NO timeline. Sometimes the waters are muddy and hard to navigate through. That’s not just sales, it’s life.

The empathetic approach is to recognize that there are bigger things at play here, real humans are in pain, and this (insert whatever you are selling) is not the top of mind at the moment. 

It doesn’t mean it isn’t an important project or they don’t want to proceed. It’s that the timing has been shifted due to this unforeseen circumstance. 

Using this logic and stepping away from the situation and looking at it from a different perspective I did a few things:

  • I helped my “champion” know first and foremost that I fully understand the situation and this is definitely not a good time to discuss. 
  • I offered up myself as a resource in the comings weeks/months if they personally wanted to have conversations around process improvements away from the software
  • I acknowledged that there are too many unknowns to set any next steps and that I am going to put it in their hands to reach out 

This approach led me to continue our great relationship, solidify myself and my company as professional and “client-focused”, and earn the right to receive a follow-up when the times were right. I built that trust through empathy.

I’ve found that taking an empathetic approach into most of my conversations has provided me the mindset to help clients even more because I’ve already convinced myself they are likely underwater on projects, are stressed about their work, and their home life isn’t an A+. Part of this gets into Emotional Intelligence and social awareness but I still think it falls under the category of empathy. If we know our business better than anyone then we should know our potential clients and all that they are going through.

With that in mind, a couple of additional thoughts to consider in your client interactions.

  1. Be human and express you are also going through challenges as well which helps them reciprocate the empathy in a way
  2. Re-read your emails a second time and ask yourself “what is my tone and what am I trying to accomplish by sending the email this way?”
  3. When you hit roadblocks, don’t take it personally and try to uncover the true reasons behind it. It might not relate to anything you all have been talking about.
  4. Remember that you can’t fake empathy, your mindset and attitude help shape those CARE muscles and if you want to get better at this then you must change your focus and outlook on the process and your interactions with every potential client.

I feel that if I was stack ranking the eight attributes that I would put empathy as higher on my list of strengths because it’s just something I’ve always done and has been in my DNA since childhood. This comes a little easier to me but it’s also allowed me to recognize the importance of it has seen its impact over the years.

I highly recommend auditing your level of empathy, both personally and professionally, and seeing where you can turn the dial in a positive direction.

More to come on empathy as I’m sure we’ll weave it into the other core attributes because it is so important but hopefully this starts giving you some thoughts about the importance of it all.

Thanks for reading!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

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September 7th, 2019|

Patience: Part 1 of 8 – The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional

Patience: Part 1 of 8 – The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional

In Part One of this Eight-Part Series, I wanted to touch on what I feel is arguably the most underrated of all attributes to have as a sales professional, Patience.

I can understand why this is the case, though. For years the adage has always been to “sell, sell, sell” and “more, more, more” and it basically has been wired into our DNA that we aren’t doing enough and need to keep pushing harder. Although sales have changed drastically in the last decade, this mindset still exists.

It’s okay to move fast, there is nothing wrong with that as long as expectations are laid out but what causes a lot of issues is when we move at a different speed than the potential client and moreover when we try to push the accelerator when the potential client and we haven’t taken into consideration the true timeline of the potential client.

In any dealings with any human being, the quicker we can get to the right decision is always better. It means we can move forward to the next step and continue to grow. Nobody can argue that. I make sure I do that on (almost) every call with a potential client. We want to make sure we are on the same page in regard to where we stand. That’s fair. Where I messed up a lot early on with this is that if there is a needed break in the normal cadence or a timeline shift I might not have picked up on these cues and my “follow-ups” weren’t always on point. Luckily, I learned this early on and is still something I practice consistently.

You must not get happy ears when talking about the timeline and have to fully understand the next steps, future decision, evaluation process, or whatever other points on the map that need to be hit before a partnership is finalized. Patience is the secret weapon here. I’ve seen it all too often where we want to “get it in before the end of the month” and start to sound selfish and pushy. Generally, this has come with pressure from management to want to close business. This is where you need to really go with your gut. I’ve had this situation happen a lot. I always go with what I think is right. Except for a couple of times, and luckily I avoided disaster.

I’ll share a quick story that relates to this.

I was working a fairly substantial potential partnership that gave us the green light to move forward but had delayed multiple times due to internal hurdles. I had a great relationship with an internal champion and was getting fed a lot of intel so I knew where the hold-up might have been. In the meantime, they (my champion) was also dealing with a lot of challenges in their own role and things that had surfaced that were unforeseen.  He went dark on me for many weeks which was uncommon. I respectfully reached out a few times here and there not being pushy and understanding what he was up against. 

No answer. No response. Weeks piled up. 

After about 8 weeks passed with no response, I started to get pressure from my manager as our expected close date was approaching even though I had been transparent all along where things were at. He asked me if we should reach out to someone else there, my Champion’s boss, to get an update. I refused and pushed back knowing that person was mainly controlling the budget but not too involved in the overall choice. If we overstep my champion that could put a serious “knife in the back” feel to my champion and alter the partnership altogether.

I knew they were partnering with us and things like this just come up. After repeated pressure over and over I finally caved and said I would call his boss and try to get an update. Fortunately, the day I called he was out of the office and I decided not to leave a voicemail. Before I called back another time days later, I reached back out to my champion and fortunately received a response.  A little luck is never a bad thing.

But I was right. He apologized profusely for the lack of communication and shared what had been going on and how it’s been a nightmare over there due to some unforeseen business challenges with their organization. It wasn’t that he was trying to avoid me but he was just busy with his full-time job. We were all good and were able to proceed and keep the relationship going forward. 

Luckily, that situation didn’t hurt me but it confirmed a valuable lesson.

When you are a sales professional and are responsible for a quota you have to own that quota 100%. You have to do what is in the best interest of the client and yourself and trust your judgment all the way. You also have to remember that the person(s) you are working with has 40 other priorities to deal with on their end not counting personal life issues and things you have no idea might be going on. Having the proper level of patience shows that you respect their situation and that you have a relationship built on trust and communication, hopefully, established early on, and that wins in the long run. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and trying to speed up something that isn’t meant to be sped up can put you in a bad position. 

On that note, there is one other piece of the patience puzzle I wanted to touch on. The micro-side of patience.

The micro-side is something extremely important as well and it involves each and every interaction with a potential client. 

How many times have you received an email later in the sales process and just replied straight back to exactly what they are asking for? I bet the answer is almost 100%. 

But I’d suggest a different route. This is a great example of where patience can work in your favor. Why are they asking that question? What additional conversations have happened internally that posed that question? Does the answer, one way or another, change the direction? A question generally has much more meaning behind it and I always pick up the phone and try to get my potential client on a quick call to clarify. It allows us to make sure we are fully on the same page and we understand each other and it also recalibrates the next steps and timeline and confirms we are still in line with that as well.

Responding quickly just to get it done isn’t always the best approach and sometimes it takes additional time and energy to flush out a situation and learn the nuances and reasoning behind it.

This is most important when it comes to phone calls and the speed of your messaging, response to questions, and time on the phone. When you are trying to rush to just get through it you miss a lot of valuable information that is helpful during the partnership discovery.

Sales are like professional dating that if you build enough rapport and trust early on in the conversation you can go well past the intended endpoint. If things are going well, why rush through it. Be thoughtful, be insightful, ask deeper and curious questions, get to the bottom of something you don’t understand.

All of these things happen when you have a mindset focused on patience and an understanding that you are in control most of the time but the times that you aren’t you need to be okay with taking a deep breath and letting someone else lead even if it doesn’t match up with your expected timeline or path to finalizing the partnership.

Remember, patience is underrated so this might be one of the biggest areas you can find improvement in right away.  Start to think about areas in your entire sales process, both internal and client-facing, where you can start to leverage a more patient attitude and style and I’m confident you’ll start noticing a big change in the overall structure of your sales pipeline, relationships, and eventual partnerships.

Thanks for reading!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

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September 7th, 2019|

The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional

The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional

You don’t need me to tell you this but this is a TON of information out there on the sales profession and a million different opinions on what you should do and how you should do it. From prospecting new clients to navigating the sales cycle, to follow-ups and referrals, it’s borderline exhausting. It’s a big topic, I get it. But it can also be confusing for a lot of the new people that are trying to sell products whether you are “carrying your own bag” for an organization, are running your own business, or are pitching investors and gaining proof-of-concept in a start-up. I think there is an easier way.

I want to strip that all away for a moment and focus on the key characteristics that I feel are essential across the board for any sales professional to succeed. I’ve seen it first hand and it’s not complicated. It’s just logical and takes time to refine and sharpen. However, if you put the time into each and every one of these I am confident that you’ll be able to reach new heights in your career and start to understand the relationship element that is so vital in any partnership.

We are in a new era of sales with much more information out there for the buyer, and frankly, a much savvier buyer which I love. The reason I love it is because human interaction and relationships matter again. Honesty matters. Integrity matters. Respect matters.

I don’t think these things ever went away but a lot of software products were ahead of their time before the client could actually form an opinion and do thorough due diligence. Now, with much more information at their fingertips and the curve from innovators moving to the early and late majority there is more of a level playing field and buyers are back in control.

Times are changing and I feel this new age of sales is going to weed out a lot of those sales professionals that stick with the old way of doing it and fail to make the shift. You are going to have to have true empathy, you are going to actually put the client first, you are going to be professional and brutally honest in your responses when you can do something and when you can’t.

I think the hardest part about sales is all of the BS and bad habits people have learned for years that they try to wedge, fit, or shimmy into an already broken process. They drive to regurgitate what they learned in a book 10 years ago. It doesn’t work that way anymore. People are too smart. That all changes today.

I don’t have all the answers, far from it, but what I do feel I have uncovered is a clear path that new and old sales professionals alike can be cognizant of and continue to build on as they develop their “in-game’ skills. These are not tricks and tactics but the characteristics that will be paramount to future success. None of these should be a surprise but I hope they make you think a bit more about how you project yourself in your business dealings and where you can find areas to improve.

Here are the main areas I am going to focus on:

  • Patience
  • Empathy
  • Candor
  • Humility
  • Consistency
  • Persistence
  • Punctuality
  • Respect

Over the next 8-part series I’ll break into each of these areas, share some personal stories, and hopefully get you to focus inward on self-awareness and how we can improve in all of these areas. Like a video game, we all have different levels of each of these, and some rank higher in certain areas than others. I expect you to be strong in some and weak in others. What is important is that we know we can improve in all of these areas and my goal is to get you to think differently about each and every one of these and how it applies toward working through partnerships in your sales career going forward.

Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

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September 7th, 2019|

Can Your Motivation Be Forced?

Can Your Motivation Be Forced?

You can read a lot of articles and listen to many videos touting that motivation only lasts for a period of time and you have to develop the right habits to sustain consistency long term through an obsession to continue to put in the hard work. I don’t disagree at all. However, sometimes and maybe most of the time you need to be motivated to begin, and by doing that it leads to the next step. Don’t discount motivation because that burst of energy to get started down a path is extremely important to not only those beginning days but as you keep the consistency up long term.

As I sat back and thought about this more it occurred to me that some of the times when I’ve been the most motivated I was being “forced” into it. Either a challenge, deadline or similar made me have to just get started even when I might not be fully motivated to do so.

One time, in particular, came to mind and it was Senior year of High School. In one of the most favorite classes for all seniors who took it, Public Speaking was a course about getting outside your comfort zone and being able to speak up and at an audience of your peers. It was fun but very daunting especially for a lot of us introverts. Larry Hynes was our teacher and he was widely regarded as one of the best teachers in the school and knew how to keep the kids engaged throughout the semester.  He knew about using a motivation to make the kids learn.

Enter Invictus.

You all have probably heard the poem or parts of it at some point in your life.

Invictus by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me, 

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears 

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years 

Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll, 

I am the master of my fate,

I am the captain of my soul.

Well, Mr. Hynes used this poem as both an exercise in memorization and recalling that information when you were caught off guard and at your most vulnerable.  The kids didn’t take the task lightly either as this was a good chunk of your final grade to pass the class.

After handing out the assignment during the semester, Mr. Hynes would then catch the students in the weeks to follow and make them, right there, on the spot, recite the poem. He caught kids in football practice, on the bus, in the cafeteria.

He caught me in a Social Studies class. I remember being one of the last handful on his list he hadn’t gotten and the days prior I was nervous as all get out. But it made me motivated to practice as I did not want to mess up in front of whatever group I happened to be caught with.  I remember getting up and standing on my desk like a scene from Dead Poet’s Society and belting out Invictus confidently and articulately. At least that is what I told myself afterward as the embarrassment of the moment started to wear off.  Nonetheless, I memorized it and passed his test that day. 

But here’s something really funny, the lesson lasted a lot longer than I thought it would. Years after I’d randomly be thinking about that poem or the moment and was able to recite it without hesitation. 20 years later and it’s still ingrained in my soul.

Go ahead, ask me next time you see me. I’m confident I’ll ace the test again.

So that’s my point through this whole trip down memory lane. We all want to think that motivation has to come from within, and in a way, I guess it does when we are put to the test. However, that motivation sometimes comes from others around us and that’s okay too. You may not be remembering a poem years later but using the motivation to your advantage and seizing the opportunity can give you more confidence in your abilities short term and spark the path to new abilities, lessons, and experiences that help you continue your track of personal growth.

At the end of the day, remember, “You are the Master of Your Fate and The Captain of Your Soul”.

Thanks for reading!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

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September 7th, 2019|

Be Weary Of Advice Givers

Be Weary Of Advice Givers

We all are looking, at times, for a second opinion to confirm the decision we are making is the correct one. It’s hard to go with intuition exclusively on every decision and we’ve been told our entire lives to look for mentors and individuals that can help guide us to the next phase of our growth.

Mentors are vital. But there is a problem.

“Advice givers” are everywhere.

You must make sure you are seeking out the right ones.

I have started to think about this more recently because I’ve been getting out to the golf course with my son and having the opportunity to become a coach once again. I was a PGA Teaching Professional for many years and worked with golfers of all ages and skill levels. I had a certain style to me that was unique and I related to my students and was able to help them get better, not just physically but mentally. Although I left the golf industry all together several years ago, the coach in me and my knowledge of the game didn’t.

Maybe that is why it pains me when I overhear someone on the range driving giving advice to another person. I can tell very quickly by watching one swing whether they are a good enough player to even understand proper swing mechanics or sequence one needs in the golf swing. Also, the verbiage and amount of information is another tale altogether. Generally, the player they are “instructing” gets frustrated and is most likely going to have that poor thought in their head for a while leading to more harm than good. 

This happens a lot in all areas of life, and we’ve all been there. We all want to seek out advice but figuring out on your own is far better than being led down the wrong path when the path is very unclear. When it comes to more difficult decisions you certainly need to have your intuition be a guide, but it’s also vital to have people that you trust and that have been down that road before share their insights to help you navigate a decision more clearly. And that is why mentorship is so important. Having a couple of mentors or coaches to lean on for critical advice can save a ton of time and money and get you in the right headspace.

That is why it’s important to choose advice wisely. But how do you do that? 

I’ll share a couple of questions I like to ask myself prior to getting a mentor or seeking advice from someone I know.

  1. Does the person giving the advice have the domain knowledge to be giving this advice? 
  2. In the time I have known them, have they been consistent in their approach and actions?
  3. Are they available to be able to mentor me?
  4. Do I trust them without any doubt?
  5. Will they provide me honest constructive feedback or sugar-coat to avoid hurting feelings (look at #2 to help)
  6. Do I walk away from conversations with them feeling confident and energized or confused and unsure?

These are some of the things I like to consider in the process.

As I said, I believe most of the decisions we make on a daily basis need no advice from anyone. We don’t have to post a question on Facebook or text, 10 friends, because the reality is that we are going to be biased and go with the decision in line with our thinking anyways. We’re human, It’s our nature.

But mentors should be pushing us to think differently and expose our “weak-minded” thoughts that plague us in decision making in order to help us grow stronger.

I believe everyone needs at least one mentor in their life at all times, sometimes more than one. I have a couple of people right now that are mentors to me and they been tremendous in their guidance. I’ve gotten lucky I guess but I’ve also used the questions above to vet them well prior to letting them into that deep relationship with me.

If you need any more guidance on this please reach out, but there are probably a few people you can already see as possible mentors in your life. Make sure they pass your sniff test, and after you’ve done a full vetting, remember to not overthink it and go with your gut if you feel they’d be a great person to lean on.

Thanks for reading!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

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  • Ben Marcovitz Profile HeadshotBen Marcovitz
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    Champion for Growth, Leadership Expert, and Founder and CEO of the Rise Institute
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September 7th, 2019|

Eliminate The Obstacles

Eliminate The Obstacles

As I continue to go through this reflection period and have dipped into the memory bank of my earlier days it never dawned on me how many obstacles were in my way to grow as a person. Some of them I conquered, others it took many years to overcome, and others were sheer luck when they were removed for me, hence is the case with my older brother.

As a middle child, it was a brutal upbringing. Never feeling adequate enough as the 2nd son but certainly not new or different enough as the younger daughter. I felt stuck. I didn’t have many friends outside of school and hung out with a lot of my brothers’ friends. It’s funny now, really, but back then I looked up to him as an older brother and wanted to do the things he did. That’s pretty natural in most families and definitely wasn’t different in mine. Being only 17 months apart, we were close enough in age to play a lot of sports together and enjoy some of the same things. But we were so different it wasn’t even close. We thought similarly as we do to this day, but our actions were different which makes sense with his position as the first child and my place as the 2nd fiddle.

It was like that all the way through school. He was the cool, obnoxious, funny kid and I was, well, Nick’s brother. I played the role well and hid my feelings which most kids do and went on with it. What else was there to do.

But then my chance came to break out of the funk. A glimmer of hope to break free from the shackles of that existence. My big brother left for college.

So here I was, atop the mountain I so desperately was looking for. Finally, I took advantage. From afar you might not have noticed, but I knew there was a change. I was more outgoing, more sure of myself, and more the life of the party. See I too had quite a sense of humor, self-deprecating at times, and since I had forged my way as the “everyman”, I fit into many groups. I could hang with the athletes, spark conversations with the smart kids, and didn’t have a hard time talking to the girls (well unless it meant asking them out!). Still, some work needed to be done there.

What I noticed looking back is that I had built the tools in place to “win over” the crowds and be very likable and fit in almost anywhere.  

  • I had learned emotional intelligence from being the quiet one and observing my surroundings.
  • I built my confidence slowly from working hard on my golf game and earning my own money through various jobs.
  • I learned empathy and compassion from hanging around with my grandparents
  • I learned to listen from watching a lot of interview TV from Regis and Kathie Lee, David Letterman, and Oprah.

It was only when the main obstacle was moved to the side that all of these things, that I didn’t really realize back then were strengths, came to life, and allowed me to open up as a person and spread my wings.

I think this can be a lesson for anyone out there struggling to find their own way. You may have what you need already to push forward and succeed but maybe there is that one obstacle standing in your way. Maybe it is the wrong job, wrong city, wrong group of friends, or something completely different. I got lucky that my big brother went to college, but you may have to pull back the layers a bit more to find what is holding you back.

Look at all the clues and whiteboard it if you have to but more times than not the most logical answer is probably the right one. The right answer may not be the one you want it to be but at least you have identified the problem and can take action to overcome it.

Once you get that boulder out of the way I’m confident that you too will be able to spread your wings and fly.

Thanks for reading!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

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  • Ben Marcovitz Profile HeadshotBen Marcovitz
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September 7th, 2019|

Next Gen and Chill

Next Gen and Chill

I was sitting on a weekly “Community Coffee” Zoom call that the Next Gen group puts together weekly led by Rachel Gross, the Next Gen Director of Community. It’s an open forum for members to show up and have a collective discussion about almost anything. As we were having a debate around what people are doing to grow themselves, both personally and professionally, it reminded me of just how powerful a community Next Gen is. Here I was, around a mix of people of all different backgrounds, ages, and experiences but with the same common vision in mind – to surround themselves with a support system of like-minded people that are enthusiastic and inspired to change the world for the better.

I’ve been fortunate in many areas of my life for the opportunities that have come my way both as lessons learned from tough times or luck that just happened to work out in my favor.

One of those “luck” moments was the serendipitous introduction to Justin Lafazan, Co-Founder of Next Gen, to be a guest on my Just Get Started Podcast. Thanks, Bryan Wish for the intro!

Fast-Forward 18-months and the connections and life-long friends I have made from that single encounter could not be put accurately into words or probably an equivalent dollar amount.

I was able to attend their Next Gen Summit event in June of 2019, their signature event for their group of entrepreneur members, which totals in the thousands.

I’ve met countless Podcast guests through there, mentors, friends, and even have had the chance to provide guidance to members in need.

One member, in particular, Rich Keller has focused my mind on understanding who I am and the mission I have in life and has helped me discover my One Word, Navigator, which has been a key to defining that purpose.

Other members, Sean Casey and Nick Costelloe, Founders of Universal Dialect, have become fast friends and always have a couch for me to crash on when I visit NYC.

And Chau Mui, Founder of Ciaooo! Magazine has become a great friend where we can be a sounding board for one another with advice while always having the best intentions for the other in mind.

I have dozens of these examples from being a part of this group.

Throughout our lives, we come into new groups and leave old ones. We spend a little time with some and a whole bunch of time with others. We all have reasons for joining certain groups or being attracted to certain situations.

Mine was a community.

I haven’t had many great support systems in my life. Growing up as a middle child and having low self-esteem, I had a hard time fitting into a lot of groups and didn’t have a ton of friends growing up. As I got older and started to find my voice I found the best group of friends anyone could ever ask for. Guys that are still my friends 20 years later. But, as I started to venture into the entrepreneurial waters and tap into my mission in life, I was looking for a new support system, one that looked a lot different than any group I’d ever been a part of before. The Next Gen group appeared to be that fit I was looking for, even as an older Millenial like myself.

My expectations have been exceeded.

From their member-driven Facebook group, to live interviews with well-known Founders, to being one email or message away from making a warm connection to anyone, these folks have the goods.

Full Disclosure, this post was originally slated to be about great support systems, and maybe there was a flavor of that, but it’s also turned into a Next Gen Pep Rally of sorts, which I’d be leading the marching band in. The momentum behind this group, led by Founders Justin Lafazan and Dylan Gambardella, is unreal and I’m so thrilled to be a part of the next phase of Next Gen as we come out of these unprecedented times and into a “new start” filled with optimism, innovation, and gratitude; all key characteristics of the Next Gen group.

I’d encourage anyone looking for a new support system in their lives, has the drive to do great things, and has the “go-giver” mentality, to look towards Next Gen as a place for you.

Go check out their website here: https://nextgenhq.com/

Hope to see you at the next Community Coffee!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

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  • Ben Marcovitz Profile HeadshotBen Marcovitz
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September 7th, 2019|

Find The “Chip On Your Shoulder” 

Find The “Chip On Your Shoulder” 

I believe anyone that ever wants to accomplish great things has a “chip on their shoulder”. I don’t see how you can’t in such a competitive world we live in. We all get slighted or past over from time to time and that should motivate anyone I would think. It definitely motivates me.

I was thinking about this recently while watching the wonderful docuseries on ESPN called “The Last Dance” chronicling the Chicago Bulls Dynasty with a focus on Michael Jordan and their 6th and final championship in that historic run.

There are many instances where we see Michael Jordan use his surroundings to fuel him when needed whether a news story, a player from the other team or his own team. He found ways to keep motivating himself to push forward. I believe in a way we all do this and we may not readily admit it but I think it can be extremely beneficial to our future growth. As long as it not used in any malicious or hurtful way, I think having it inside us to pull out when needed is vital.

I was thinking about this personally as it relates to growing my Podcast or personal brand. Very few people know who I am and what my mission is in life and fewer than that actually care.  That’s fine with me now but there was a time when I was insecure and needed the attention.

That dates back to my childhood and many of the struggles I went through in my family life and upbringing with the feeling I was never good enough or could never feel included in almost anything. That took a long time to overcome (still working on it in some ways!) and it was important for me to get attention, any attention, in order to feel I had self-worth.

And that’s where I’ve used the “chip on the shoulder” mentality to help me. I use that fuel from all of the years of being slighted, or laughed at, or not thought of as worthy of anything. It drives me to want to produce a better Podcast, or write better books, or continue to share my story. 

I’m not sure what your past was like or the moments in time you felt less of a person or were treated as such but don’t let those moments die off into a distant memory. Although sometimes difficult, with the right mindset you can use those moments to refuel yourself and keep adding logs to the fire when you find your motivation wavering. I have certain memories cornered away in my mind to use when needed and it’s made a big difference. There was a lot of pain I had to overcome from earlier in life and proving myself over and over again is just something that drives me. 

We are often told to let go of the past and move on but unless you grew up with a silver spoon in your mouth and never had problems then I think those painful lessons you experienced should go to good use and become the “chip on the shoulder” material that you can use to reshape your mind and grow to new heights.

I’m not sure what you want to do in life but just know you can do great things, you truly can, with the right mindset and perspective on the world. Keep driving toward your mission and the impact you want to have on this world and I hope you continue to stay obsessed with changing the world in a more positive way.

Thanks for reading,

Brian

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  • Ben Marcovitz Profile HeadshotBen Marcovitz
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September 7th, 2019|

4 Things People Should Do Before Ever Reading A Sales Book

4 Things People Should Do Before Ever Reading A Sales Book

Before you go grab the latest and greatest sales book, understand you already have most of what you need to be successful at sales. You’ll learn a ton through experimental trial and error but I think a few suggestions below can get you started on an easier path as well.

In my opinion, I believe there are a lot of things early on that make sales hard for newer folks that don’t have to. 

There is:

  • Too much information – product knowledge, value statements, sales playbooks and frameworks
  • Too much bad direction – poor training, unproven sales templates, bad call scripts
  • Bruised confidence – Overwhelming expectations, high activity metrics, poor personality fit in the role

There are good intentions behind all of these, especially from organizations facilitating these practices, but oftentimes it comes in the form of misguided or misinterpreted information and that can cause a lot of uncertainty and anxiety for reps, especially new to the game. Now, throw in all of the sales books out there that sales reps are suggested as they start down this path. A lot of this information and the strategies or practices are outdated and what has worked for some that wrote the books may not work for all using its teachings.

I personally believe there are other things you can do first to help you get on your way and be a more well-rounded sales professional.

Learn How To Write

Most sales are done through phone or email so those are the two powerhouses, to begin with. This is not about “sales tactics” or anything like that. This is about proper grammar, word usage, paragraph length, bullet points, and all other things around professional writing. It’s vital because you will write thousands of emails and other documents in your career. Learn how to write in a clearer form and this will help when you start slipping in your sales language. Also, it translates well into your spoken word.

My Suggestion: First, I’d take a few writing courses online for free or jump on YouTube and type in How To Write Better.  It also doesn’t hurt to download the Grammarly plugin for Chrome as this will help instantly as you begin to type. Next, I’d look at the emails you write to people and which ones tend to get the most positive responses. Remember, the tone is very tough to pick up in an email so how you write can be taken in multiple ways if not structured correctly. That’s why I say positive responses. Also, emails tend to grab your attention from people. Are they short, bulleted, bolded, etc? Chances are, if they catch your eye then they probably will to your future clients as well. 

Learn How To Listen

Listening is hard and can be much harder when you are trying to think about the next question to ask without paying attention to someone. Stop that. You’ll have plenty of time to ask questions and a gentle pause isn’t so bad. Being able to dissect a conversation and pick up the undertones of the language as well as the social awareness piece all at once is a masterful skill to have. 

My Suggestion: There are a lot of ways to do this and it could be as simple as turning on a Podcast to try and observe the conversation or you might call a friend or family member and interview them. Try to catch yourself when you lose focus and attention as well as when you start to think ahead too much and forget to stay present in the discussion.  It can be much easier to lose focus over the phone without someone watching you being visibly distracted so keep an eye on this.

Learn How To Learn

When was the last time you actually learned something new that you knew nothing about the topic beforehand? It’s a No for most people, too. However, the great thing is you can start today. Pick something you are curious about and learn about it. For instance, during my Dozen Months of Discovery, I learned Spanish for a whole month. My sessions with the tutor were really difficult especially the first few days but it got me attentive and feeling like a beginner learner again. You may even sign up to do a demo of a product you are interested in. Whatever gets you into the mindset of knowing nothing and then having to take in information for the first time.

My Suggestion: When you are demoing a product, think of the person on the other end that has no idea what your product does, how it could help them, or is able to visualize use cases to help a problem they might not even know they have. You have to do a great job of communicating properly and simply and your messaging has to help them come along for the ride otherwise you’ll lose them. By going through this prior, you’ll be able to anticipate the challenges the future client might have during the call and it will help you navigate better. (i.e- Slowing down, fewer mouse clicks, reiterating key points, pausing to ask questions and get clarity, etc.

Learn How To Get Uncomfortable

The best sales reps and leaders I’ve been around have taught me how important it is to “own the room” in any conversation. Sales conversations can get uncomfortable really quickly. You need to be confident in yourself and believe that the product can truly help the client to solve a problem they have. This is tough when you are new to sales because you get nervous or timid or fearful or (insert appropriate word here). Heck, even I have these feelings every now and then and I’ve been doing this for a dozen years.  

My suggestion: Figure out how to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Put yourself into situations when you get really nervous or anxious and try to navigate yourself through that process. Even if it’s a big struggle, you’ve grown a bit and it will help you on the next try. This could be as simple as asking a person out on a date randomly that you see out somewhere, taking an Improv class, or signing up for a Public Speaking course. Many of these options cost minimal dollars and the experience gained is priceless. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to deliberate skill practice and the beauty of all of these is that whether you choose to remain in sales or not, these are very transferable in almost any other career you go into.

So, think a bit differently as you look at a sales role. This can be valuable for anyone doing sales especially entrepreneurs or company founders and, yes, even seasoned sales professionals. You should always be looking to refine your skills and improve your communication and I hope some of this guidance will be a big help in your life.

Please feel free to reach out with any questions and I’m happy to be a resource.

Thanks for reading!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

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  • Ben Marcovitz Profile HeadshotBen Marcovitz
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September 7th, 2019|

How Valuable Is Your Time?

How Valuable Is Your Time?

One of the things I’ve pondered recently is how much my time is worth considering the many competing priorities in my life and it always seems to be a balancing act of epic proportions to get everything done I need to get done. However, there are a lot of these items that I either don’t enjoy doing or feel they are repetitive and administrative and it’d be more beneficial to get help to complete them.

As I thought more about this it reminded me of several years ago when I decided to use a lawn care service to cut my yard, trim my hedges, fertilize, etc. I enjoyed doing it every now and then as it was my time to think but as my son was growing older I wanted to spend that 1 ½ hour normally set aside for yard work and spend it with him. So, that’s what prompted me to bring on German and let him do my landscaping.

I am using a similar thought process nowadays in regards to leveraging Virtual Assistants for many of these administrative tasks. I’ve found through sites like Freeeup.com and others like it there are many people looking for work and are offering their services for a fair price. In the past, I wanted to do everything myself as I thought I was “saving” myself money by not freelancing this workout. 

But now I’ve taken a different perspective on the situation and look at the value of my time as it pertains to my work and when the delta between these numbers is in my favor I will often side with the help to get tasks completed.

Here is what I am speaking about.  Let’s use a very simple example and this may be eye-opening if you’ve never done this exercise.

Let’s say, hypothetically, you make $100,000 a year working an average of 40 hours per week. And assuming you take a couple of weeks of vacation, let’s use 2 for easy math, that means you work 50 weeks for the year.

So, 40 hrs/wk x 50 weeks = 2,000 hours of work per year and divided by $100,000 = $50 / hour

That means your time can be equated to being worth $50 an hour. 

So, as an example, you need to get email lists together for a marketing campaign you are doing.  If that would take you 2 hours to complete (or $100 of your time) then you may be better off using a Virtual Assistant at $7-$10 per hour to complete the work while you spend your time using those 2 hours wisely to potentially increase your hourly rate, attract new business, or work on other projects that are important.

Virtual Assistants have become very common nowadays but it’s still something newer I am trying and many people have never even considered it. It’s definitely different handing over control of projects to people you’ve never or barely met but if you look at it as a professional situation and treat it as such you might be surprised at how it turns out.

My advice: 

Find a small project to start with that might take an hour or two and try this out. 

Make sure you give direct and clear details to your VA and I’d put everything in email and have it agreed upon prior to beginning the project.

You might find it works out well for you and frees up all sorts of time that can be valuable both personally and professionally.

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  • Ben Marcovitz Profile HeadshotBen Marcovitz
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September 7th, 2019|

Why Everyone Should Start A Podcast Tomorrow

Why Everyone Should Start A Podcast Tomorrow

Like it or not, Audio has been on a rise over the past several years and podcasts have taken a place near the top of content consumption. It’s no wonder companies like Spotify and iHeartRadio have made significant financial investments in podcasts and will continue to do so in the coming years.

So that begs the question you should be asking yourself, should I start a podcast?

The answer is almost certainly a yes and here’s why.

It’s How People Learn And Will Continue To Learn

With the growing distractions and short attention spans, people don’t always have time to read a new book and some don’t absorb the information as well as other mediums. In the past, you could basically listen to others teach something but you had to be in that physical location which made it expensive and time-consuming. With the invention of video, that added a new interactive layer to learning because you could now sit in the comfort of your home or office and get the same “in-person” learning without having to leave your chair.  However, there lies one problem, you must be viewing the screen most of the time especially if there are visuals like a presentation included. Since most people have access to a phone, watch, echo, or other devices besides the TV, they can now use that to multi-task and learn or get entertainment while doing other activities like yoga, washing dishes, running, etc.  The younger generations are always looking at ways to hack life and the access to podcasts has made it a clear path to do just that.

It Allows You To Stay Relevant

Let’s face it if you want to grow your own personal brand or business you have to continue to put out content and make it relevant to the audiences you are serving.  Since audio content is certainly a part of the future it only makes sense to start making your mark now. I look back to 2017 when I started my Just Get Started Podcast and would have never imagined the doors and relationships the podcast has opened for me.  Like anything, it takes time and consistency to build good content and the only way you stay relevant is to keep up with the times and speak about the things that matter today. With the world moving so quickly, content from a year ago may even be outdated in some regards. Furthermore, you can repurpose content in multiple ways to broaden the reach as people learn in all different ways. For instance, I can take this written article and turn it into a podcast episode and if I record with both audio and video I can now add this to YouTube or other social sites as video content as well. So, one piece of content can easily become three and many more if you break it down into mico-content.

There is No Better Time

The old cliche, “There is no better time than the present”, rings true in this situation. You obviously haven’t started a podcast yet, I’m assuming, but if you did then congrats and keep it going! If you haven’t, then consider all that could come from putting this content out there like gaining reach from other industry publications, reaching new prospects or clients, establishing yourself as an industry expert, networking with people who are where you want to be, and the list goes on for miles. I often hear people complain when they see others gaining notoriety or attention for their work and it’s followed up a lot by “They got lucky”. This is total BS as we all know. They received notoriety because they’ve proven in one way or another that they have a deep knowledge of a particular industry or domain and generally that comes from many years of experience in that field. Podcasting isn’t any different. Not only can you be seen as that expert by putting out great content you may be able to learn vastly more if you interview other like-minded people in that field on the show. Think of the immense learning you will have just asking them the questions you want to know. However, you don’t get here overnight. Imagine if you started a podcast a year ago and published one episode a week. You’d have 52 episodes to your credit and hours upon hours of thoughtful and relevant content. So, imagine you wait a year before you start after reading this and think about all you might miss out on.

I could go for hours talking about this and I’ll continue to share the learnings from my podcast journey in hopes that it helps you accomplish more on yours.

In the meantime, a good starting point is this eBook I wrote called The Bootstrappers Guide To Podcasting: How To Overcome The Fear and Just Get Started. It’ll give some real-world ideas of what to do to get off the ground quickly. Remember, this is what I chose to do but you may go a different path. There are so many resources (and podcasts) online talking about how to start podcasts so try to google some ideas as well.

Don’t hamstring yourself by overthinking as you can continue to tweak and refine it as you go along. So, read the eBook today and start to gather your thoughts but by tomorrow you should be energized and ready to start on this new adventure called podcasting!

If you had any questions I am happy to try and help and please send a message to me through my website.

Thanks for reading!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

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  • Ben Marcovitz Profile HeadshotBen Marcovitz
    EPISODE 166
    Champion for Growth, Leadership Expert, and Founder and CEO of the Rise Institute
  • Hallie Hart Profile HeadshotHallie Hart
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    Artist & Founder of House of Hart
  • Heath Armstrong Profile HeadshotHeath Armstrong
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    Author, Co-Founder at Rage Create
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    Professional Wardrobe & Personal Stylist
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    EPISODE 162
    Founder of Simply Good Press
September 7th, 2019|

The Toolbox of Knowledge

The Toolbox of Knowledge

Over the past several years I’ve immersed myself into a deep state of learning more than I ever had before in my life. I’ve been trying to figure out, how do I get better and better each and every day? And not just “better” because that can be anything, but how do I acquire more knowledge, how do I do research on topics that are important to me, how do I push myself past that comfort zone that I lived a lot of my life in and ultimately improve at a very high rate of return.

Let me take a quick step back and kind of give some context behind it. In my teens and in my 20s there were periods where I had a really good work ethic like having a paper route when I was 11 years old and doing that for six years. I would wake up every single day between 5-6 AM, and I’m from upstate New York, so maybe a foot of snow sometimes. That taught me a lot of work ethic. And I remember even practicing golf, which was very important in my life, for hours on end in high school and college. I actually worked for the Registrar, which is the department in college that handles all classes and records and those types of things. I actually was able to schedule all of my classes when I wanted before anyone else and so I scheduled them literally the first couple classes in the morning every day so I’d be done before lunch. That allowed me to basically hit golf balls for three, four, or five hours and play golf every afternoon. I would just pound golf balls. That taught me work ethic.

The work ethic was there in periods. But I also noticed that sometimes I would have some lapses in that, whether it was in my job, maybe not go full effort, or from a fitness standpoint, I’d have ups and downs. I look back at those moments and I realized I left a lot on the table. There was a lot of stuff that I could have done differently or better or improved upon. Maybe I would be further ahead now than if I didn’t do that but I also am a “glass half full” guy and realize that it happened and I can now learn from it for the future and maybe help other people that haven’t been through that yet and give some guidance and insight into something that I stumbled with that could be important.

One of the lessons I uncovered I call the Toolbox of Knowledge. If you think about it, we acquire various knowledge through our own experiences all the time whether it’s through school, a job, relationships, etc. These situations are exactly where my metaphoric “toolbox” comes in handy.

As an example, imagine hiring someone because something’s wrong in your house. They say they can fix and promptly come over but there’s only one problem, they only arrive with one tool in hand.  Now, they could certainly get that job done, potentially. But if they don’t really know what the problem is, or didn’t expect it to exactly as they found it, one tool may not be enough and therefore they can’t possibly handle the task or it might end up being extremely challenging and corners might be cut.

Now imagine that same person showing up and having one or two or three big toolboxes, all different tools, all sizes, and different materials to help out in whatever challenge they approached. I’d bet money they can get the job done.

That’s how I want everyone to think about their life. Since we can’t change the past, let’s not focus on it. What’s happened has happened. So, I really want everyone to focus on going forward. Whether it’s your day job you have, whether it’s some side hustle, it could be something with your family, it could be your fitness and nutrition.

What are you going to do to fill up that next toolbox or the next one after that?

Think about your job today. Are you maximizing every once of the opportunity to learn? If you’re in sales, for instance, do you seek out advice from the top reps in the company to learn, have you sat with other managers to gain perspective on how they run their teams or are you talking with customer success teams to learn more about the customer’s needs.  These are small examples but they are the kind of things that can be done to help you gain additional knowledge and leverage that experience for your future.

The real question when you look in your “accountability mirror” is are you maximizing your opportunities to learn information that could be very useful for you many years down the road.

I take it from a fitness standpoint, right? You can certainly putter around each day; maybe you go for a walk. But maybe you don’t eat well, right? Maybe you’ve put on some weight; maybe your fitness is not there.

Are you acquiring the proper knowledge to help you get healthier and improve? Are you doing research to figure out if there is a better way that’s going to improve my longevity, my sleep, or my energy? Or are you just using the information you’ve gathered from the past and assuming it’s still correct?

That’s really what I want to challenge everyone that’s reading this to think about. What could your “toolbox” be next week, next month, or next year? Could you just fill it up a little bit more or could you fill up three toolboxes full?

When you’re carrying it into that next job, or that new gym you signed up, or maybe a new relationship you have to ask yourself what you are bringing to the table starting out and how are you going to grow to be a better person going forward. How are you going to try and taste new things and new experiences to build up that toolbox.

Try one thing next week. That’s it, one thing, and see what happens.  Reach out to a co-worker in a different department that works with your department from time to time. Ask them questions to learn about their day-to-day and be curious to know what things they know that could be valuable for your role, and vice versa.  If you feel you’ve gained weight, go search online for an hour about healthy foods and ways to structure your eating such as Intermittent Fasting. There are so many simple ways to gain more knowledge and learn from new experiences.

The hard part is to slip out of the warm comfortable bath and into an uncomfortable cold shower. However, I’ve learned if you do it in small doses you start to form the proper habits and harden your mind to do these things more often.

I want everyone to have that mindset. It’s a glass half full mindset, you’ve got to be positive in order to have the courage to shed the insecurities and seek out unknown places and conversations because those are the situations that make you a better human being both inside and out and allow you to carry that toolbox around and tackle any job in your path.

If you’d like to hear the full audio version of this article on my Just Get Started Podcast click here to go to Apple Podcasts-> The Toolbox of Knowledge One Mic Session or you can listen on any major Podcasting platform.  This episode originally aired on September 12th, 2019.

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  • Ben Marcovitz Profile HeadshotBen Marcovitz
    EPISODE 166
    Champion for Growth, Leadership Expert, and Founder and CEO of the Rise Institute
  • Hallie Hart Profile HeadshotHallie Hart
    EPISODE 165
    Artist & Founder of House of Hart
  • Heath Armstrong Profile HeadshotHeath Armstrong
    EPISODE 164
    Author, Co-Founder at Rage Create
  • Holly Katz Profile HeadshotHolly Katz
    EPISODE 163
    Professional Wardrobe & Personal Stylist
  • Jane Tabachnick Profile HeadshotJane Tabachnick
    EPISODE 162
    Founder of Simply Good Press
September 7th, 2019|

Overcome Your Pain Wall

Overcome Your Pain Wall

Has anyone else ever had a needle stuck in their eye?

Weird question, I know. But there’s a point, I promise.

I had a corneal transplant when I was 21 years old that went very well and I was healing fine until one morning 6-weeks later I woke up and had a hard time seeing out of that eye. I went to class and still had trouble. I immediately called my surgeon and went into his office. Apparently, I rubbed my eye too hard during the night and 30% of the stitches in the healing cornea came out. I needed surgery again.

Being a bit stubborn, I didn’t want to wait for a day or two to get into surgery and asked if it was possible to get it done now, in his office. I wish I hadn’t asked.

It turns out it was possible. I was given a couple of Advil and told to lie down on a table in one of his office rooms. What ensued turned out to be the most pain I’ve ever felt in my life. 

I was awake, barely, if at all, sedated from the Advil, and watching my surgeon stitch my cornea back to my eye. Yes, you read that right. I literally could feel the sharp pain of needles in my eye and realizing I cannot move an inch or something really bad could happen.

As an aside, I give tremendous credit to the surgeon. How someone could have that steady of hands I’ll never understand. But I digress…

I reminded myself of this today on a run where I set a goal of 4-miles while wearing my 20-LB Weighted Vest.  First, I hate running. Second, I never have run more than 2 consecutive miles wearing the vest.  

So why does this all matter?

It matters because as I was hitting the 2-mile mark I could feel the fatigue in my legs set in (I had just done 200 Air Squats with the vest the prior day) so that was starting to take a toll on me and my feet were starting to cramp a bit.  I had every right to stop and pat myself on the back and feel good that I accomplished a PR by surpassing the 2-miles.

But then I remembered the eye surgery and I remembered the pain tolerance I had built up through that whole event. Oh, I forgot to finish the story. After he completed it and it went well, I had to go back 5 hours later at midnight to his office because my eye pressure had risen to a level I can’t explain. I couldn’t even think straight and was puking, that’s how bad it got. If anyone has ever dealt with immense eye pressure you know what I am talking about. 

I remembered I had relished taking pain and not having it bother me and using that as a badge of honor to push me through things.

This run was no different. I had to go deep down to help get me over that “pain wall” that I had put up in my head. The one that says it’s too painful, too rough, too hard to keep going. I had to find a way to overcome it and fight it.

My solution is creating a distraction. I distract my mind and divert the attention away from the pain to something else for just a minute until it passes. And then I thought about writing this article and how much the story would suck if I didn’t finish the 4-miles. See, I think the internal motivators are needed as well and I used them strategically when I need that kick of energy.

We all have a “pain wall”. Everyone is different and nobody can compare theirs to someone elses.

Do you break down that wall or stop at it every time you approach it?

Nobody can answer that but you and the only encouragement I can give is that deep down there is so much more pain tolerance we all have and just need to give ourselves that excuse or permission to pull it out. Use whatever method you like or try mine from above but I hope next time you encounter your wall you’ll be able to break right through it and form a new vision in your mind of what pain you can manage and overcome.

May 9th, 2020|

Keep Chipping Away

Keep Chipping Away

I had a serendipitous conversation today that activated something in my brain which reflected on my time in high school woodworking. Yes, I took woodshop in high school and loved it.

I certainly wasn’t the best at measuring and cutting but I created some cool things. A Poker table with a beautiful Formica top. A breakfast chair that I believe my Dad still has in his house. I also made a Chalace with the lathe machine (it’s a machine where you secure a piece of wood and it spins very fast and you can chip away or sand down the object).  I still have that Chalace somewhere, too.

And that’s what got me thinking about this call today.

I want to have all the answers to the puzzle from day one. I want to know the direction and the destination. I like having the “knowns” of the situation. It helps me. 

But it’s not realistic.

Everyone reading this now is doing something very different today then they were doing 10-years ago. A different city, a different family situation, a different career/title, etc. We don’t have the playbook.

Life is like a game of backyard football, we mostly just improvise on the fly.

So that what got me thinking about my Chalace and the lathe machine back in high school woodshop. I had an idea of what I wanted but as I started to widdle the wood down it started to take a different form. Some spots I had to shave more than expected. Others were a bit harder and laborious. Sanding took way longer than expected.

I focused on the journey and experience of the process and had a “sort of” path to go down but nothing more. I didn’t know what or how to explain it then, but that is what I now call my “North Star”.

The North Star is your mission and vision of where you want to go but it’s just that, a vision. There is no flag in the ground saying “I’m going to be here at X date and be doing X”. Life doesn’t work that way. As long as you start down the path that is leading you toward your mission you’ll find your way. I think we all do, eventually.  When you look all the way back later in life it’s really the moments of the journey that are most memorable and rarely the finish line.

Just keep chipping away at you “Chalace” and don’t get so caught up in the finished product but put a lot of focus and attention on the process and experiences you are building through it now.

In the end, whenever that happens to be, the stories and the experiences that shaped them turn out to be your legacy, and reaching the finish line becomes an afterthought.

May 8th, 2020|

Writing A Book In 30-Days

Writing A Book In 30-Days

Well, I knew it would happen at some point and my impulses to jump on a new idea would shake up my Dozen Months of Discovery.

It’s actually a great lesson to follow your feelings and passion and don’t be stuck in a certain path just because that’s what was initially scripted.

Originally, when I planned out my twelve months I had April slated as a month where I was going to learn the Ukelele. Solid choice and it was going to allow me to be that “beginner learner” again like I experienced in March learning Spanish. However, as I spoke with a friend and editor of a book I had been thinking about writing, it was determined that maybe the best thing to do was to put a time window into play and just get it done because it can be very easy to procrastinate especially when writing a book.

So, I took a short look into the future and said “Adios, Ukelele, and hello Book writing!”.

Little did I know the path it would take me down.

As I rounded out March and already had some ideas and notes down for the book I intended to write, one focused on the Just Get Started mission, I stopped myself and really thought about the path I was going down.

This is where self-awareness comes in.

My mission is to help the next generations of our world through earlier self-discovery about themselves and the world around them. This book idea was geared toward that but I had a change of heart.

So, I pivoted and started writing a fictional book taking the elements of the non-fiction book I was going to write and turn it into a story about a boy learning entrepreneurship at an earlier age. I had the idea finally and started writing. I scripted out notes, had the plot laid out, and began on my way. But there was just one problem…I couldn’t stop thinking about rhyming.

See, I am already in the process of publishing my first children’s book called “Luke’s First Round Of Golf” and finishing up on the illustrations as I type this. I couldn’t help but think; maybe this is my “thing.” Maybe someday I’ll write a longer story but I love the rhyming aspect of children’s books, I always have. I love rhyming, in general, having been a fan of the greats of Hip Hop all my life. It’s in my DNA.

So, after a second pivot one week into April I began freestyling on this book.

What did I learn through this process

  1. Go with your gut, sometimes it is always leading you in the right direction
  2. If you are not truly invested in something, you won’t get your best work. Don’t settle for something you deem so important
  3. Be patient – some days you don’t have your best stuff. Even Michael Jordan had off shooting nights. 
  4. Hold yourself accountable to finish – There are a lot of ways to weasel out of things and put it off until later but later sometimes never comes. Get back on the horse and ride and finish what you started. Parkinson’s Law works well here “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”

To listen to the audio version of this with some extra tangents and insights you can go here -> Writing A Book In 30 Days Podcast Episode or listen on any major podcasting platform you choose.

May 7th, 2020|

When Was The Last Time You Quit?

When Was The Last Time You Quit?

When was the last time you quit something?

Like realized it wasn’t fitting into your life and just quit it.

We all want to do more. Workout more. Make a few more calls. Spend more time with family. If you’re not doing more its said that you are falling behind or missing out.

But at what cost?

When was the last time we prioritized our day/week and analyzed the things that are distractions versus the things that are actually helping us grow or are important to us?

I believe this is one of the most ultimate struggles we have inside ourselves. We want to do everything and be everywhere. We stretch ourselves too thin.

Whether it’s wasted activities that are “time robbers” or giving our time to others who simply don’t respect it, there are a lot of applications to this question.

Something I’ve continued to ponder when it comes to prioritizing my time and efforts because I was doing so many things at surface level and feeling like I was just treading water. It wasn’t until I realized that I needed to go deeper into only a few of them and “quit” the others that I started to gain momentum.

By the way, it wasn’t easy, nothing ever is.

So, Here is how I prioritize some things now…

  1. My son
  2. Sleep
  3. Crossfit/Fitness
  4. Nutrition
  5. Full-Time Job
  6. Podcast/Children’s Books

And the list goes on….

There are a lot of balls to juggle and only so much time available. So let’s take a step back so I can share a bit more of how I found time.

For the longest time, my Sundays were filled with NFL Football all day long. As a huge 49ers fan (still disappointed in our Super Bowl loss!) I never missed a game. And I didn’t miss others, either. I played fantasy football, used to bet on games, and wanted to “enjoy” my Sunday. And that’s fine if you choose to do this. But for me, it wasn’t cutting it.

My son was growing, and it was a priority to be there with him and for him.

I started the Just Get Started Podcast and wanted to spend time editing it for the following week.

I also had business ideas I wanted to work on and test out.

And I was getting into CrossFit and had lofty goals of strength and weight gains.

Oh, and another HUGE priority of mine is sleep. I am a firm believer in all of the sleep research out there that you need a minimum of 7 hours per night of actual sleep, not just laying in bed.

So when I started to add it all up it made sense. Remove as much of the Sports/TV that I could while still allowing myself enough to satisfy those “cravings”. And that’s what I did. I only watched my 49ers and occasionally a game or two here and there if they were on a bye or played the primetime game. I also took out almost all TV watching during the week and spend that time with my son before bed and then work on some projects after.

As I’ve built this habit, it’s been amazing how I’ve trimmed even further without even noticing. I don’t have the NFL Sunday Ticket not so I can only watch my 49ers when they are on Primetime slots. I have taken out almost all weekly TV watching as well besides catching a few shows I like to watch like Shark Tank or Westworld. Since these are streamed, I can watch whenever I want so I am in more control.

Again, you may decide to do something different but it first starts with your priority list. What is most important in your life to focus on. Do those things first and if you are running into trouble with time available then you have to look farther down the list to what you are doing that is causing the problem. Although it may be fun or cool to do, you may have to make the sacrifice because, in order to grow and evolve and be fulfilled, you have to be focusing on the things that are most important.

Figure that out and I am confident you’ll free up a lot of wasted time and be much happier each and every day.

Carpe Diem,

Brian

May 6th, 2020|

Pain + Reflection = Progress

Pain + Reflection = Progress

I’ve followed Ray Dalio for many years and this is one of his cornerstones to a successful life.

Pain + Reflection = Progress

You need to go through bouts of pain and then add the element of reflection to the mix in order to grow to the next level.

As I pondered this more, I thought about my sales career and the sales professionals I’ve been around. We were always taught, as many in sales are, to find the “pain” with the prospect. Pull out the “pain” and you’ll be able to help them realize where you can help them.

But how many times do we take our own medicine? 

A virtual show of hands… How many people have figured out where their “pain” is in their sales process or career and worked hard to improve that area?

I didn’t think so. I’ve been bad in this department as well.

What we found that “works” is solid and we continue to use it over and over. Same pitch. Same play. Same song and dance.

When have we stepped outside that comfort and got really nervous or awkward or silly in order to improve? 

Maybe an SDR is struggling to get the right messaging on prospecting calls. When was the last time you did a role play and got really uncomfortable? When was the last time you actually asked a prospect what they thought of your approach? When was the last time…(insert your own curiosity)

Maybe it is someone that gets nervous with large groups in presentations. Instead of continuing down that road, have you considered Improv classes? Toastmasters? Volunteering at an event where you are thrust into speaking in front of people? Again, insert your own question here.

We are really good at getting to the “pain” of our future clients but have an extremely difficult time putting ourselves in that painful situation to improve first. 

It sucks but it’s the only way.

My question to leave you with is this…

What one thing can you do this week to feel some pain but know that it will push you forward to new heights?

May 5th, 2020|

Lessons From A Legend

Lessons From A Legend

I’ve had a ton of interesting experiences in my life, and some, where I made wrong choices and had to do things over or I made them harder than they probably needed to be. I hardly looked at the choices I was making, how I was reacting to them, and where I could improve. Unlike Sherlock Holmes, I wish I had laid the pieces out and tried to fit them together to unlock the mystery.

Then I hit what I have affectionately called my “Renaissance Period” in my early 30s. 

It has been a journey of deep learning and discovery filled with eye-opening lessons and revelations that have helped alter my path and set me on a more meaningful course for my life.

As I reflected and thought of the impression I wanted to make on the world, I was reminded of my grandmother, Nana Ro, as I called her. She was my everything and she taught me so many very subtle lessons that I didn’t realize until much later.  She had been through a lot. She had witnessed pain. When she was in her mid-20’s and with two toddlers at home, the love of her life and father to her boys got killed in a car accident. She didn’t find out until a day later.

She had several miscarriages later in life, worked 3rd shift to make ends meet, and raised five children along the way. She deserved to take a break every once in a while. She deserved to get waited on like a Queen. But she never once complained about it. She was the epitome of servant-leadership.

For the years I knew her it was extremely rare for her to do anything first or for herself, especially when her grandkids were around.

She cooked dinner, we ate first.

We wanted to watch a TV show, she turned the channel.

She cooked Christmas cookies, we always ate them first (and found her hidden spot in the downstairs freezer and raided that as well)

I wish I realized this all in my younger years. It wasn’t until this Renaissance Period and deep reflection that I realized (very luckily) that some of this rubbed off on me and a whole bunch more of it needed to be refined. It took some work to iron out the learnings and apply them to my life.  But here’s what I came up with. Simply put like Nana Ro would have done.

Feed others first that otherwise can’t feed themselves.

Translation – Many people, to no fault of their own, have a narrow view of the world, business, new technology, etc. and you have the opportunity to be the guide of information for them to open up a new way of thinking. You can help people help themselves by feeding their minds with creative ways of solving a problem or simply suggesting to them to ask the correct question to themselves to gain a new lens on the same situation. You need to do it with honesty and humility, however, as this is the way for people to start buying into those ideas but you have to let people be the hero of their own story and you are just the guide to get them to their destination.

Don’t be so polished and lighten the room up

Let the ego go! Nobody wants or needs the hard-ass and it doesn’t go over well anymore. I’m not saying to not be professional especially in business environments but try to be “business casual” in your encounters with most people. They’re human just like you and do you think they are as happy as they seem or don’t have 15 other things on their mind or even want to be at this particular job? So lighten up the room, have fun, be personable. It not only differentiates you from almost everyone else but you get more out of people that way. Being yourself builds trust and respect much quicker than putting on “a show”. Trust me, people can see right through the charade. Just stop it!

Bring a smile to everyone you encounter

Smile more often. Take the glass-half-full approach to life. There are a lot of bad times and challenging situations but you have a choice to make each and every day. You decide on the attitude you’re taking into your family life, your business, your workouts, and everything else that matters to you. Even though things may not be perfect, be the strong one that others can use for inspiration. I know it can be hard but looking at life through the positive lens ends up making it much easier and manageable. You somehow can breathe a bit more freely. The storm clouds seem to pass and the days just appear brighter. Trust me, it works, because I’ve tried it both ways.

Although I narrowed down to three bite-sized chunks, I learned so much from Nana Ro that I can’t put in one article. Some stuff I am still uncovering periodically as I reminisce about my childhood and the time I was lucky to spend with her. 

I miss my Nana Ro very much. She passed away in the Spring of 2019 and I think about her often. I think about her kindness and the love she projected out into the world and hope she’d be proud of my mission and the impact I am trying to make on the world.

I’d like to think it’d make her smile.

May 4th, 2020|

The Writing On The Wall

The Writing On The Wall

We all need an “Accountability Mirror” to look ourselves straight in the face and force us to deal with our shit, whatever that happens to be at the time.

That mirror for me happens to be my bathroom mirror. I get to glance in it many times a day and it offers up a lot of brutal honesty especially when I’m down on myself. 

But I’ve added a layer to it that has helped me get through the troubled times when my confidence is starting to lack and the “Imposter Syndrome” rears its ugly head.  I’ve added words in the form of questions.

I’ve written these two questions in dry erase marker that I have no choice but to look at every time I’m in there.

Question #1: Why can’t it be you?

I get down on myself a lot. Most of it stems from my childhood, but that story is for another day, and some of it is that I’m just a “late bloomer” and although I’ve had a ton of experiences and learning lessons along the way, I have to continue to kick myself to believe that I alone can make an impact in the world. Even though my mission is clear I still tend to question myself every once in a while.  

This question kicks me in the pants and “gets in my face” about why anyone else would be better suited to tackle the mission and change the world than I would. It pushes me away from the comfort zone and reassures me that although there are a lot of unknowns, on the other side of fear is the fulfillment I’ve been looking for. Keep moving forward

Question #2: Why am I here?

This question came from reading (listening to the audiobook) of “Can’t Hurt Me” by David Goggins. He was on the beach at the Naval Base in Coronado where they ran through the infamous “Hell Week” of Navy Seal Training. Goggins went through three of them.  As he faced physical exhaustion and his mental fatigue was on the edge as well he muttered this question to himself, “Why I am here?”. He recounts many times throughout his journey after that where he uses this question to check himself and remind himself how far he has come and why he made all the sacrifices to get to this point. He certainly puts in more eloquently.

I use this question to pull me back into reality when I start reverting back to old habits or old ways of old thinking. Just because you’ve accomplished certain things, physically or mentally, doesn’t mean the demons can’t come back. They will and you never know when they will show up. This question is a constant reminder of what I am trying to accomplish and all of the struggles I’ve gone through to get to this point.  There is a reason I am here and it’s because I’ve put in the time and effort and I can’t let a few moments of regression get me down.

These two questions have been a staple in my mirror for almost 12 months. I have no reason to take them down and I don’t want to. I want a reminder. I want the reflection looking back at me constantly. If motivation is on one level then regret is on a whole other tier above it. I certainly don’t want that so these questions check me at the door and help me stay focused on where I am going.

What do you use at motivation or the driving force to keep moving forward?

Please send me a note or message me on social and I’d love to hear!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

May 3rd, 2020|

The Bootstrappers Guide To Podcasting

The Bootstrappers Guide To Podcasting

Back in 2015 when I first began thinking of starting a podcast there were a lot of ideas in my head about what to do and how to go about it. After overthinking, making excuses, and ultimately failing at starting for two years, I finally took the leap and begun. Thus, the podcast name “Just Get Started” was born.

The reason, you might ask, as to why Just Get Started stuck with me is that I know there are a lot of people out there just like me. They have an idea and want to accomplish something bigger but for some reason, they have been pinned down by naysayers, fear of the unknown, and most of all, negative self-talk that buries your confidence and clouds your judgment. I want everyone to realize they have to take a different path than the norm to get more done then they have ever imagined. To do that, you must take the first step to overcome that fear and Just Get Started.

This won’t be a novel. This isn’t rocket science. There are a ton of great resources out there about monetizing podcasts, growing a following, and doing all sorts of crazy things with them. But, none of that matters until you start and I wanted to share one perspective on how you might go about it.

So, just like with what I struggled with, I wanted to give everyone some insight into what you might want to consider thinking about when beginning a podcast and some useful questions to ask yourself along the way. I’ll share a few tools I have used that have helped but in no way are the answer to every situation. A simple Google search would give you several options that may fit just as well and I’d encourage that. But don’t hamstring yourself with overthinking it. That’s what I did. Don’t make the mistake that you have to have everything figured out on Day 1 because you don’t.

This is not the end all be all guide to podcasting. I imagine, however, most people reading this are like me. They’ve listened to podcasts and enjoy the content and have always wanted to create their own but it seems like a ton of work and a lot of money that is needed to be spent to get started. I’m here to tell you that’s not the case at all and that you can create your own very quickly and with solid quality for minimal to no money.

You can do it BUT if you are going to do it then you have to give it everything. You have to commit to it. There are a lot of people that have started podcasts that do 6 episodes and quit. If you’re going to take the time to set this up and go through the motions then I suggest setting a minimum bar for yourself. Do at least 20 episodes and call it “Season One” or something like that. Then, sit and reassess and make sure this is something you want to commit to further. If you get past that, you’re golden!

I hope you enjoy some of my insight into podcasting and what I have learned through my experience of trial and error and figuring it out along the way. The views expressed in this ebook are my own and from over two years of being in the trenches and knocking out episodes almost weekly. I hope you get as much enjoyment out of reading as I did of writing and sharing.

Let’s get it started.

To get the full eBook please go here and download for free – The Bootstrapper’s Guide To Podcasting

May 2nd, 2020|

100+ Episodes and We’re Just Getting Started

100+ Episodes and We’re Just Getting Started

Do you know what these numbers signify?

880 Days…5,300 hours…100 People

The numbers above equal 880 days since I started the Podcast, over 300 hours of editing, over 5,000 hours of content, and over 100 Guests….and the Just Get Started Podcast is just heating up.

I didn’t realize the amount of time I’d take to get this far when I decided to begin. And as the great Jesse Itzler says, “I didn’t come this far to only come this far”. So I sure as hell am not stopping now.

The time investment never comes across the mind of someone determined to get outside their “fear neighborhood” and start something. Until I wrote those numbers above (and used a calculator to help) I never cared about the amount of time because all along the journey to achieving my mission was the most important. 

I balked on starting the Podcast for two years out of fear of what others would say and a poor self-confidence that I could even do it. 

I worried. 

I pondered. 

I battled myself. 

…But then I acted.

I built up this confidence, not in a single day, or a week, or even year but over a long period of time of consistent reflection and glances in the “accountability mirror”. I realized that maybe I could be the voice for others that have fear in their life. Those that have a fear to take the leap.

As Brene Brown once said, “I don’t leap for the perfect landing, I leap for the feeling in the air”. I thought that maybe I can be the invisible nudge they’ve need all along to take the leap.

And that’s why I began on this quest. 

And that’s why I continue to battle the doubt that creeps in and the imposter syndrome that looms too closely in the night. 

I know I can be their rock when life is holding the scissors in the hopes that the spark inside them fuels a bigger fire that can light the path for others in the future.

The numbers are irrelevant. The only ones I care about are the people positively affected by the message.

As long as that number is >1 then we’ve succeeded.

If you’ve read this far down then you get it. You feel the burn. You realize you have something deeper inside that yearns to get out into the world. You owe it to others to let it out. 

Life is too short to keep pondering. 

Let’s get started, shall we? 

I can’t thank everyone but a few quick shoutouts….

Thanks to Matt Heinz for being my first guest on the Podcast

Thanks to Gary Vaynerchuk for 9 years of being my “virtual mentor”

Thanks to Ryan McGuire for the great design work

Thanks to Rich Keller for coining my ONE Word, “The Navigator”

Thanks to Rob Munz for being the best Mentor and Friend anyone could ever ask for

…And Thanks to the Late, great Coach Larry Hynes for telling a young 18-year old that “You have incredible Pitch and Tone, You should be on the radio someday

Truly blessed. Truly Grateful.

Carpe Diem,

Brian

May 1st, 2020|

Learning Spanish In 30 Days

Learning Spanish In 30 Days

I am in month 3 of my Dozen Months of Discovery and for this month I decided to learn Spanish! I’ve always wanted to learn a language (Well, I tried once but failed Italian in High School). I thought this was an incredible opportunity to see what I could learn in 30 days.

I grade myself at a B+ after all is said and done. There were a lot of challenges going on in the world as we all know so I had to be hyper focused on keeping up with my practice and lessons and I’d say I learned a good amount.

Some things I learned like:

  1. I learned the entire alphabet and pronunciations (Did anyone know there are like 5 separate sounds with each letter!)
  2. I learned numbers up through 100
  3. I learned articles like The for both Masculine and Feminine words
  4. I learned many phases for general conversation

I probably learned a lot more that hasn’t fully sunk in yet and look forward to continuing practicing and evolving my Spanish speaking skills!

To listen to the full episode on Apple Podcasts – Listen Here – or search “Just Get Started Podcast” on any major Podcasting Platform.

To get a refresher on my “Dozen Months of Discovery” you can view the write-up on the blog article here

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If you enjoy this episode I’d be grateful if you would leave a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts, if you believe I’ve earned it.  Thanks for listening!

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April 7th, 2020|

Flexibility February and What I Learned

Flexibility February and What I Learned

This new One Mic Session is a recap of Month 2 of my Dozen Months of Discovery in 2020 where I chose to complete 1-Hour of Stretching every single day in the month of February.

Almost every day, I used a video online from Sean Vigue Fitness (link to video) which is about 40 minutes long and then I added 20 minutes of my own stretching exercises and mobility work to round out the hour.

Here are a couple takeaways I talk about in the episode:

  • Finding Your Balance
  • Ain’t Over Til It’s Over
  • Finish What You Started
  • Prioritize
  • Breathe & Have Fun

My challenge to everyone…For 7 straight days perform 30-minutes of stretching by using the video above, searching for your own through YouTube or an App you download, or just sit in some poses you know. It doesn’t matter. It’s that you are commiting to something and exposing your body to things that it needs which is activity and mobility so it can open up a bit more. Do you accept this challenge?

Report back to me or share your results with a friend and let’s pass on the good vibes!

Link to listen on Apple Podcasts – Listen Now

Or You can Listen on Any Major Podcasting Platform.

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If you enjoy this episode I’d be grateful if you would leave a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts, if you believe I’ve earned it.  Thanks for listening!

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March 6th, 2020|

My 30-Day Social Media Detox And What I Learned

On this One Mic session, I share a bit of my experience and learning from doing a 30-day social media detox in the month of January. This is the first month of my Dozen Months of Discovery in 2020 and helped me set the table for the rest of 2020 and kick it off on a positive start.

I share some of my thoughts on:

  • Cravings
  • Time-Management
  • Boredom
  • Prioritization
  • Habits
  • and much more

Listen to the full episode on Apple Podcasts – Listen Here – or Find it on any other major Podcasting platform by searching “Just Get Started Podcast”

February 12th, 2020|

Dozen Months of Discovery in 2020

Dozen Months of Discovery in 2020

It’s 2020 and the Dozen Months of Discovery have begun!

Part of the premise of the Just Get Started Podcast is to get out of your comfort zone and try to accomplish things far greater than you ever imagined. Whether it is changing your eating habits, a better fitness routine, starting a business, etc. At the micro-level, everything you do has to be “started” at some point but are we truly pushing ourselves outside our comfort zones as much as possible and learning new skills or knowledge that can become valuable. Or, maybe it doesn’t become something valuable but you can say you tried it because it was interesting at the time. That’s okay, too.

That, my friends, is the whole premise of the Dozen Months of Discovery.

12 months to have 12 new challenges or adventures. This could be anything from committing to a workout plan one month to learning how to play the piano another, learning a language, or detoxing from Social Media. Whatever it is you have to invest time into it and you have to practice but more than that you must create a different mindset and the focus on accomplishing the challenge must be present every day. We (and I certainly mean me) say over and over “I wish I could do….” Or “I wish I tried….”. As the old saying goes, “You can wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which one gets filled up first”. 

Stop wishing. Why not go out and do it? I know your answer. I don’t have time. It may actually take less than you think. Malcolm Gladwell famously wrote that you need about 10,000 hours to master a skill. But I’m not asking you to master a skill, I’m asking you to try and learn something new whether it be a new skill or just challenge yourself to stick to something for an extended period of time. So, how long would that take to try?

Well, someone already did that research for me and his name is Josh Kaufman. Now, Josh did a phenomenal Ted talk about this topic and, in short, concluded that to learn and be good at a new skill it would take about 20 hours. I highly recommend you watch the entire Ted Talk here – How to Learn Anything in 20 Hours – as it provides a lot more context.

Also, Podcast Guest (Episode 76) Scott Young and his book “Ultralearning” is a fantastic guidebook of some useful techniques and stories to speed up your learning and actually make it sticky.

So, the question I posed to myself a little while back and will pose to you right now is…How far did you advance yourself this past year? How much more could you have done that would have led to increased skill development, more fulfillment or joy in your life, new doors being open…all of it….How far did you push that needle? 

Get out of your comfort zone and try to make the next year your best year even. You certainly won’t get there by doing the same thing you are doing now. You must broaden your horizons and I think this is one way to do it.

So here’s the challenge.

Pick 12 new skills/challenges/topics you think would be cool or interesting or maybe something you always wanted to learn. If you can’t think of that many then ask your friends and family or post online and ask your larger community to throw out ideas.

Next, write them down and share with the world those 12 you are going to learn.

Here is my working list for 2020 (I may slip in something if I come across it during the year and swap out with one already on the list but that is still to be determined)

January – No Social Media for 30 Days

February – 1 Hour of Stretching / Mobility work every day

March – Learn Spanish

April – Learn the Ukelele 

May – No Sugar (Less than 20g a day)

June – Conduct an Interview a Day

July – Plastic Free Month (Don’t use single-use plastics)

August – Learn Adobe Illustrator

September – Run a Mile a Day (With 20 LB Weight Vest)

October – Charity Month (Donate 30 Hours of my time)

November – No Complaining 

December – Random Acts of Kindness Per Day

Finally, each month you need to pick a goal (if it is a learned skill) so you have something to reach for by the end of that month. If you don’t pick a goal you can’t conclude if you truly learned anything. Don’t make it too easy but I’d rather it be achievable than overly aggressive.

Now, start with the first one on the first day of the next month and do it. Learn by taking classes locally, watching videos online, syncing up with a friend skilled in that craft, whatever. Invest around 20 hours that month and see what you can accomplish. 

I’m starting this endeavor on January 1st, 2020. My first monthly challenge is to not launch one social media app (Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Twitter) for the entire month. I’ll document each journey prior to starting and the week after I finish each month. 

If you are down to join, let me know and we can hold each other accountable. If not, we’ll catch you for the next one and I’d love to hear what you are trying to do to challenge yourself and push beyond your comfort zone.

Let’s crush 2020!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

January 7th, 2020|

The Surprisingly Simple Way to Make Sure You Start In 2020

The Surprisingly Simple Way to Make Sure You Start In 2020

It’s a new year, a new decade, and a clean slate to get it all right this year. “This is going to be my year”, It seems is the type of thing we say to ourselves each orbit around the sun. Why will this year be any different? What have you learned in the past 12 months that will make you believe you can change?

We all have aspirations at one time or another to break outside of our comfort zones and explore new ideas or endeavors. Then fear sets in and the excuses start to flow on why we “Can’t” do it. Just like a butterfly that landed on your shoulder, it’s there for a second before the idea fleets from your mind. All too often, that isn’t the last time we think about it. It continues to pop up at random with no regard for the timing of it all and the longer it goes without being acted upon the fear generally turns into regret. A disappointment of what could have been. Arguably, one of the worst individual feelings one could have.

I have a hunch that as you are reading this there is something festering inside that you want to accomplish but for whatever reason, you haven’t taken the leap of faith yet. Whether it is the smallest action or the biggest idea we all know that overcoming the fear of starting can be quite challenging. Let’s try to get started on it before the chance of regret from not trying can even weasel its way in.

I think I have the key that will unlock that door for you. It might be quite literally the simplest action you can do but could end up being the hardest. Because it involves self-observation and accountability for your actions.

Think of all of the reasons or excuses you can come up with as to why you can’t get started. You can write them down or just think of a couple in your head. They probably seem legitimate and you may even be able to convince yourself there is some truth to them.

Now I’d like you to try something.

Simply change the “can’t” in the sentence to “won’t” and see how that sounds.

Here is an example:
I can’t go to the gym because I don’t have time.
I won’t go to the gym because I don’t have time.
Which one stings a bit more and why?

“Won’t” does sound a whole heck of a lot worse because it’s a choice. Can’t is final. Can’t has some boundaries. Can’t is a line in the sand that we are not able to cross.

But won’t, that’s a different story. That’s personal. That’s a direct reflection on you as a person, what you prioritize, and how you want to live your life. You are making the conscious decision to not do whatever it is you want to do. You are standing in the way of it happening. You are your own worse accountability partner.

This simple exercise on reflection can fundamentally change your perspective on what you are trying to accomplish and get you in the right frame of mind to accomplish it. I’m not saying it’ll work out every time and you may find instances where you confirm that this isn’t the right path. It’s okay if that is the outcome. However, most of the time, it will allow you to take a deeper look in the mirror and help you gain perspective on why you are scared to do this in the first place and what you would really lose (if anything) from trying.

We all have fear and doubt. We all overcomplicate things. We all worry about stupid shit that is ridiculous and mostly meaningless.
It is the perspective shift that is needed in order to overcome these obstacles and start moving forward. Please keep it simple and believe that you can do it. Once you alter your perspective and start improving your mindset it can open up a lot of doors you never imagined possible.

Now get out there and crush 2020!

December 29th, 2019|

Dozen Months of Discovery – One Mic with Brian Ondrako

BRIAN ONDRAKO

ONE MIC: Dozen Months of Discovery

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This One Mic Session is a Reboot of an idea I tried 2 years ago…but just like life, sometimes excuses clutter your vision and momentum to accomplish things. So, it’s back to stay! The Dozen Months of Discovery.

Part of the premise of the Just Get Started Podcast is to get out of your comfort zone and try to accomplish things far greater than you ever imagined. Whether it is changing your eating habits, a better fitness routine, starting a business, etc. At the micro level, everything you do has to be “started” at some point but are we truly pushing ourselves outside our comfort zones as much as possible and learning new skills or knowledge that can become valuable. Or, maybe it doesn’t become something valuable but you can say you tried it because it was interesting at the time. That’s okay, too.

That, my friends, is the whole premise of the Dozen Months of Discovery.

12 months to have 12 new adventures. This could be anything from committing to a workout plan one month to learning how to play the piano another, learning a language, or detoxing from Social Media. Whatever it is you have to invest time into it and you have to practice but more than that is your mindset and focus on accomplishing the challenge must be present everyday. We (and I certainly mean me) say over and over “I wish I could do….” Or “I wish I tried….”. As the old saying goes, “You can wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which gets filled up first”. 

Stop wishing. Why not go out and do it? I know your answer. I don’t have time. It may actually take less than you think. Malcolm Gladwell famously wrote that you need about 10,000 hours to master a skill. But I’m not asking you to master a skill, I’m asking you to try and learn a new skill and become good at it. So, how long would that take?

Well, someone already did that research for me and his name is Josh Kaufman. Now, Josh did a phenomenal Ted talk about this topic and, in short, concluded that to learn and be good at a new skill it would take about 20 hours. I highly recommend you watch the entire Ted Talk here – How to Learn Anything in 20 Hours – as it provides a lot more context.

Also, Podcast Guest (Episode 76) Scott Young and his book “Ultralearning” is a fantastic guidebook of some useful techniques and stories to speed up your learning and actually make it sticky.

So, the question I posed to myself a little while back and will pose to you right now is…How far did you advance yourself this past year? How much more could you have done that would have led to increased skill development, more fulfillment or joy in your life, new doors being open…all of it….How far did you push that needle? 

Get out of your comfort zone and try to make the next year your best year even. You certainly won’t get there by doing the same thing you are doing now. You must broaden your horizons and I think this is one way to do it.

So here’s the challenge.

Pick 12 new skills/challenges/topics you think would be cool or interesting or maybe something you always wanted to learn. If you can’t think of that many then ask your friends and family or post online and ask your larger community to throw out ideas.

Next, write them down and share with the world those 12 you are going to learn.

Finally, each month you need to pick a goal that will be the accomplishment you are trying to achieve by the end of that month. If you don’t pick a goal you can’t conclude if you truly learned anything. Don’t make it too easy but push yourself.

Now, start with the first one on the first day of the next month and do it. Learn by taking classes locally, watching videos online, syncing up with a friend skilled in that craft, whatever. Invest around 20 hours that month and see what you can accomplish. 

I’m starting this endeavor on January 1st, 2020. My first monthly challenge is to not launch one social media app (Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Twitter) for the entire month. I’ll document each journey prior to starting and the week after I finish each month. Some other ideas I have are Stretching for 1-hour each day for a month and learning a new language over the course of a month. The list is still getting worked out and look forward to any suggestions!

If you are down to join, let me know and we can hold each other accountable. If not, we’ll catch you for the next one and I’d love to hear what you are trying to do to challenge yourself and push beyond your comfort zone.

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October 10th, 2019|

My Journey to Intermittent Fasting – One Mic with Brian Ondrako

BRIAN ONDRAKO

ONE MIC: My Journey to Intermittent Fasting

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This One Mic session covers some of my journey with nutrition and how I started Intermittent Fasting and the things I’ve learned along the way.

I’m not a Doctor or Nutritionist but I’ve worked a lot off logic in my life and this seems like the proper approach for where I wanted to take my fitness and nutrition into the future.

If interested, just type in “Intermittent Fasting” into google and read some articles or watch some videos. There are a variety out there so I won’t guide in too many directions but just explore and make your own decisions and I’d encourage to always consult your doctor.

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July 25th, 2019|

Donating a Kidney with Special Guest Doug Neumann

BRIAN ONDRAKO

ONE MIC: Donating a Kidney with Special Guest Doug Neumann

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Another One Mic Session in the books and this time I bring on a special guest in former Podcast guest Doug Neumann (Episode 57). Doug recently did something that I think many of us would never consider, he gave away 1 of his kidneys.

I was so excited to learn more about this story and the process involved with it I had to do a separate episode on this topic alone.

Doug was given a lot of help and guidance locally by UNC Hospital and if you wanted to learn more about donating a Kidney check out the link below:

UNC Hospital – Become a Donor – https://www.uncmedicalcenter.org/uncmc/care-treatment/transplant-care/kidney-transplant/become-a-living-donor/

Hope you all enjoy it!

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July 3rd, 2019|

It’s Halftime…How Is Your Sales Year Going To End Up?

It wasn’t too long ago when everyone was at the same starting line. I don’t care what company you are at or how big your quota is. We all started from the big “goose-egg”. Sales, unlike many other careers, has very specific metrics to it. Generally, called a Quota, it’s a number the company gives you that in their estimation is how much revenue you should bring in for the given year. This number can be calculated a variety of ways and it depends on the company and their specific goals and projections for the year as a whole.

Bottom-line, You either hit it or you don’t. And all Sales reps know that going into each year.

If you’re not in Sales, that’s okay as some of the ideas I want to share can still help you think differently as you navigate a long year of work and goals that you want to accomplish.

For sales reps though, it’s pretty simple.

On the one hand, many are way behind there annual quota halfway through the year. We can come up with a number of reasons why but excuses don’t matter. Facts are facts. The numbers speak for themselves.

On the other hand, several are out ahead of the pack and well on their way to achieving and potentially overachieving on their goals.

And if you are wondering, there are a good chunk in the middle of the pack (like me!). On par and in a good position heading into the second half but still work to be done to keep pace.

So, 6 months in, which bucket are you in?

Here is the secret: it actually doesn’t matter which one it is. Because if life and sports has taught us anything it’s that there is still time on the clock. The game isn’t over yet.

Think back to the Super Bowl a few years ago when the Falcons were all but engraved the Lombardi Trophy heading into halftime. The scoreboard read 21-3 and Twitter was ablaze with reactions. That’s a stout lead especially when you are playing that well and the odds of relinquishing it are very small. Ironically, it’s a great metaphor for where we are at in the year and something all of us can learn from. Let’s observe some things that happened in that second half in hopes that it’ll help you attain your goals by years end.

Mindset is everything

Bill Belichick might be the best 2nd half coach we’ve seen in history. He is great at assessing the game and understanding where to make adjustments, if needed. However, the best thing he does (and he does this all season long) is to get his team to buy into the fact that the game isn’t over until it’s over. You must stay positive and level-headed through the good and the bad times. That consistency in mindset and focus on the steps needed to get back into the game is most likely the “X-Factor” that led to them making that historic comeback.

If you’re behind, remember what has gotten you there before. We all get into slumps but it’s the positive attitude and confidence that we can do it again that ultimately pulls us out of it. Stay focused and keep a level head and the good times will just be around the corner. If you panic and get frustrated, it will be hard to overcome future obstacles and maybe make you lose that partnership you had in your grasp because you got desperate or impatient.

Do Your Job

This is Bill Belichick’s classic mantra. Know your role and get your job done. Don’t let the noise and celebrations around you knock you off your perch. Think back to the Falcons and some of their biggest mistakes. They went away from what was working. They were running so well but yet late in the game they decided to call a pass play and had Matt Ryan drop back to throw which lead to a sack. That play-call kept them out of field goal position. However, The Patriots stuck to their game plan and never wavered. They knew there was time on the clock and they knew what made them successful all season long. It was only a matter of time before it clicked and they continued to chop away at the lead (which by the way ballooned to 28-3 late into the 3rd Quarter, if you remember.)

You know what needs to be accomplished to continue building value and guiding your future clients down the right path for them. Additionally, you can’t forget about the early part of the funnel and your prospecting efforts. You’ll win some and lose some but having a healthy and flowing pipeline will ensure that you have opportunities to finish strong. Now, if you’ve started out of the gate strong and are in a rock solid position, you can’t get complacent. You can’t think that you can take your foot off the pedal just because you’ve had a few good months. Things can change quickly if you don’t watch it. Don’t all of a sudden switch things up just because you’ve had certain results up to this point. Yes, some things may have to be adjusted but most of the time it’s small tweaks and not the grandiose ideas we like to think are going to be the difference.

Make Your Own Luck

Hey, we all need a “Julian Edelman type of catch” every now and then. I’ve noticed in my sales career we all get at least one of these a year, maybe more if we are opportunistic.  

However, you have to be in the right position to get those breaks. Are you creating enough pipeline? Are you building great rapport? Are you progressing partnerships forward? Are you bringing in the right people that are making the decisions? All of these questions help you get to a position where you can succeed and sometimes the timing just happens to be right.

That’s life, it happens, and you want to be on the right side of it but the only way you get there is to put yourself in those positions. Take a good hard look at your performance and where there might be one or two small tweaks you can make. If you were being honest with yourself, where have you fallen short? Where have you whiffed on some opportunities? Start there and make some subtle movements in the right direction. Maybe you have done zero call review or role play and need to get back to the fundamentals. It could be the “X’s and O’s” on your sales process need a retooling or slight shift. It could be something else. Like I said above, you don’t need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Have some self-awareness and make some great halftime adjustments to put you back in the game.

Just like with Football, in the end there are two things that generally win out. Talent and Work Ethic. Some only have one, few have both. But either way you need to recognize where you fall short and what you personally need to do to crush your second half, whether you are way ahead or dragging near the bottom of the pack. As cliche as it sounds, the first half of the year “is what it is” and you have to remain hyper-focused on the path ahead and do what you need to do to get to that mountain top. It’ll be different than others around you. Don’t get sidetracked. Focus on yourself and your abilities and have the mindset that when you are ringing in the New Year, you know you’ve given it everything to make this past year the best one yet.

Carpe Diem,

Brian

July 2nd, 2019|

Selling Like a Human – One Mic with Brian Ondrako

BRIAN ONDRAKO

ONE MIC: Selling Like a Human

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On this episode of the One Mic series I start the conversation around Sales especially as it relates to people who have never had to “sell” before. This idea was originated from a great conversation I had up at the Next Gen Summit in NYC this past weekend. A lot of Start-up Founders have many talents and skills but one of the challenges a lot have is actually understand sales and the sales process of pitching VC’s, selling their first clients, etc.

I’m going to turn this into a multi-part series but wanted to give a taste of how I look at Sales and what has helped me become successful in the world of Sales.

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