As a 1st time “Gen-er” (Is that a word? We’ll make it a word!) to the 5th Annual NextGen Summit I wanted to share a few key thoughts from the observation deck that might prove useful as you go about your day.
Before I jump it, let me take a quick step back. NextGen is a group of thousands of entrepreneurs that are looking to develop the next wave of innovative products and services to shape our future. It was started by Justin Lafazan and Dylan Gambardella five years ago and has had a “rocket-ship like” trajectory in years since.
Enter NextGen Summit.
This is their premiere annual conference to get all of these people together and connect them with great speakers and mentors to help shape their businesses. My journey to the conference was a unique one. See, I’ve gone through a Renaissance period, if you will, over the 5 years to rediscover who I really am and what I want out of life. With curiosity as my catalyst, I decided to start a Podcast called Just Get Started 18-months ago to talk with entrepreneurs and others trying to be fulfilled in life. If it wasn’t for that initiative and subsequently being introduced and then interviewing the Co-Founder of NextGen, Justin Lafazan, I wouldn’t have had this incredible opportunity to even share.
If you were so inclined, here is the first episode I did of the Podcast back in November of 2017 that explains my journey a bit more and how I finally got the Podcast going – Just Get Started Podcast: Episode 1
If you didn’t attend NextGen Summit that’s fine. Keep reading. There may be a few gemstones I gathered from the conference that might alter your thinking a bit and help you on your way to become the superstar version of yourself. Maybe not, but at least you can get the pleasure of my “almost failed English class” writing style.
Find Your Tribe
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
A tribe is only as strong as its people and to make those people be harmonious you have to have great Chiefs. It’s hard to find better Chiefs than Justin Lafazan and Dylan Gambardella. There is no shock that this NextGen community has grown so strong. The passion and drive behind Justin & Dylan’s vision is what makes this event special. That resonates with people and it makes people want to fight to hold onto that feeling they get from attending this event. The energy, the kindness, the curiosity, the sharing. It’s so organic and authentic it almost sounds made-up. So that’s my first takeaway. Who do you associate with that makes you feel that you can accomplish anything? That makes you believe you can change the world? I’ll tell you what. I found that here at NextGen. I’ve never been so motivated and hyper-focused in my life and I know, unlike other times in my life, this feeling won’t burn out as the days pass by but smolder and stay hot as I go forward. That’s what having a great tribe will do for you. They’ll support you. They’ll believe in you. They’ll high five you when you win and hug you when you fail. As the famous quote goes, “The whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts”. I’ve never believed that more firmly than after leaving this event and excited for the opportunity to keep in touch with my new Tribe!
How is Your Brownie Different
“If you don’t have a seat at the table you create one.” – Jesse Itzler
Jesse Itzler (@jesseitzler on Instagram) was a keynote speaker at the event and this guy literally brought the fire the entire session. I won’t give his bio here but go research him. Fascinating guy. I probably could write the whole article on him but one massive takeaway I gleaned was this, “How is your brownie different” (this is in reference to a story he told about pitching a business idea in school).
The punchline is that you can speak about features and you can speak about service and all that bullshit but when you get down to the brass tax of it all you have to go above and beyond the noise and truly create something that is world-class and doesn’t just limp over the finish line but annihilates the world record. He wasn’t just speaking about business. Personally, what are you doing to create a different experience that is impacting you, your friends/family, and the world. Are you “cashing it in” most days or are you truly trying to be different?
This reminded me of the time I had the Founder of ActiveLifeRX, Dr. Sean Pastruch, on my Podcast and he gave a great quote. He says, “In order to be World-Class, you have to prepare to be un-relatable”. Jesse has done that. He’s thought differently about the world he wants to live in and has set his sights and goals about making an impact in a positive way. He said, “If you don’t have a seat at the table you create one.” Don’t settle for what everyone else around you is doing. If you want to be different, you need to act, think, and perform different. Set the bar high and make your brownie different!
Serendipity Is Real and It’s Spectacular!
“To be called on, you must raise your hand” – Kim Kaupe
(Okay, who got the Seinfeld reference?) I preach Serendipity. The reason I believe in it so strongly is that we have no control over it and yet we have all the control over it. How I got to the conference started long before I got on the plane to NYC. We don’t know what the next step will bring (I could die on this plane flight as I am writing this). Don’t worry, I didn’t. But you get the point.
It’s an opportunity to get outside the dreaded comfort zone and let the universe steer the ship a bit. As Brene Brown once said, “I don’t leap for the perfect landing, I leap for the feeling in the air”.
As an introvert in sheep’s clothing going up and talking to people is tough for me at times. But I met some incredible people. People that I never would’ve crossed paths with if I didn’t accept the invite from NextGen. Full Disclosure: I declined for scheduling reasons initially and glad I made it work out. Who knows what some of those relationships will transform into but it doesn’t matter. My life and hopefully the people that I met will be impacted in a positive way forever. Kim Kaupe (@KimKaupe on Instagram), Founder of the SuperFan Company, spoke about this in her keynote in relation to growing your brand and business. She said,“To be called on, you must raise your hand”.
Sitting on the sidelines and telling a story to yourself of why something isn’t going to work out might seem cozy and nice but it’s not the way you make a splash and it is certainly not the way your create your own luck. If we live in a bubble then truly serendipitous moments are very few and far between. It might be a safe life but what’s the fun in that? Here’s a secret: The “comfort zone” is a made up place. Have the courage to challenge that mindset and look at creating life-changing moments for yourself and your business and not only will you be more fulfilled but serendipity might just connect you with something or someone in a magical way you never could’ve dreamed of.
Come Out of Hibernation
“You have two lives. The second begins when we realize we only have one” – Confucius
Just like a bear hibernating from a long winters nap (literally some hibernate for 7 ½ months), we all have pounds of weight we need to shed. But in my weird animal metaphor I’m not talking about physical weight. A lot of time it’s the mental burden of negativity and the mind warp we’ve all been through for most of our lives that needs to be erased. We’ve all heard it. You can’t be that. You’re not good enough. You’re too young. You’re too old. Whatever. It’s a bunch of Malarkey. Once you accept who you are and what you’re about and why that is absolutely good enough you can start to finally move forward. Maryellis Bunn (@maryellis.bunn on Instagram), Founder of the Museum of Ice Cream, gave a passionate talk about the journey of learning and asking questions that shouldn’t stop when you reach adolescence but should continue on for your entire life. I was amazed when she explained that children ask around 125 questions a day compared to adults who ask only about 6. What happens to that wonder and amazement and imagination we all had? Society happens. That’s what. We become this comatose society of zombies that are following old rituals and habits that haven’t made people any more happy or more successful. So why do it? As Maryellis says, “We have become a society that accepts what is instead of questioning what it should be”.
How many questions are you going to ask about the world today? Shed your mental weight, start believing in yourself and start living a life filled with passion and purpose that is on your own terms.
There Is No Spoon
“You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.” – Morpheus, The Matrix
Let’s be honest here. What I just wrote about won’t resonate with most. People will cast it aside with excuses of why they can’t do things and chalk it up to “that’s life”. They’ll go on with their day acting like each day before it. And that’s where this Tribe of NextGen-ers and others reading this are different.
You’ve had a choice. You’ve taken the red pill. You’ve become Neo…or Morpheus or Trinity or whoever you want to play in this adventure. Hell, you can be Agent Smith if you like to get down like that. But I digress. You’re already ahead because you’ve realized what most people never will. As the great Steve Jobs said, “Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again”.
The spoon only exists if you accept the world as it is and fit in that box. But that’s not you. There is something inherently different about you. You can’t explain it, I know. But don’t ever let that fire go. Remember what Rich Keller’s passionate talk was about. Just S.C.O.R.E.
Stand-out, Conquer Obstacles, and Reach Excellence.
Whatever you do, always keep that kid inside with wonder and imagination and curiosity to question the outermost realms of the universe and why this all matters.
Until next year.
So…what was your biggest takeaway from the conference? Leave a comment below and would love to hear what everyone enjoyed the most!
Over the last decade I’ve tried to observe our world from a different lens and really understand the human mind and choices we make. One of the areas that fascinates me is overall human health. Now, I’m not a trainer or nutritionist, but trial and error over the years and vast amounts of my own research and plain logic led me to realize there are some core fundamentals to follow for long-lasting health. Even with all the advances in science and research, we still decide to make really poor choices on a daily basis that contribute to many health issues. Currently, the one plaguing our nation is obesity, and I’m not just referencing folks that are morbidly obese. My explorations have led me to 5 simple truths about overall health that are shockingly simple but often overlooked. Whether you are trying to get in the best shape of your life or shed a couple extra LBs before beach season, hopefully these will help re-focus you on some easy things to keep top of mind for better health and fitness.
1. Drink Lots Of Water
I’m hoping this should not come as a surprise but drinking plenty of water is essential for a healthy lifestyle. Besides the fact that many medical journals say drinking a glass of water in the morning contributes to eating roughly 30% less calories a day, it just makes you feel good and has many additional health benefits. I see a lot of folks start with coffee in the AM and then move on to a sweetened or sugary drink by lunch. You wonder why you crash halfway through the afternoon? Lack of H2O is a big contributor. Stay consistent with your water (at least 7-8 glasses a day) and you’ll be more full throughout the day and able to keep your energy up.
I feel that sleep is one of the most misunderstood things we do as human beings. Your body needs to “reboot” for the next day and getting at least 6-7 hours of sleep is vital for a full sleeping cycle to happen. Plus, your body is working through that downtime to repair muscle fiber from your workouts and using stored fats to hibernate. Don’t you just feel really refreshed after a nice long night of rest? Do it. It’s good for you. Through my last round of P90X3 I stayed very strict to getting to sleep before 11 PM and noticed increased energy the next morning which helped improve my workouts. And to improve your comfort even further, I’ll plug a great company I use for my pillow and mattress. It’s like sleeping on a cloud. Check out HIBR and you’ll be saying “Thank you, Brian” in no time.
3. 30-Minutes Of Exercise A Day
You certainly don’t have to exercise to lose weight. However, working out for at least 30 minutes a day gets that adrenaline going and helps with overall health and your mood will actually improve. It’s a fact that people who work out consistently are in better spirits throughout the day. It’s true, look it up! Actually, I already did for you so go here. It doesn’t matter what you do but just get off your butt and do something. I’ve found it successful to mix up your workouts and routines regularly. Three main areas I focus on are Weights, Cardio, and Yoga. Weight training helps burn more calories and improves your over body tone and posture. Cardio (some, not excessive) helps with cardiovascular improvements and endurance. Yoga (even with some Pilates mixed in) helps “open up this ancient ol’ gristle”, as Tony Horton would say. It massively helps with balance and flexibility while improving overall strength in a lot of those little muscles. I’ve enjoyed a lot of the Beachbody programs over the years and would recommend P90X 3 as a great place to start for an overall mix of everything. All you have to do is show up and Press Play!
4. Smart Eating
You know the old saying “Weight Loss starts in the kitchen” and it’s so true. For any significant weight loss you must focus on what you put in your body. I’m not going to go all nutritionist route on you. See, I’m a regular person, just like you. I’ve learned through trial and error and making sacrifices. That’s all eating healthy is about. There are so many great blogs and resources for recipes and foods that are nutritious for you. Check some out and try something new. Some of my favorite foods recently have been Quinoa, Hummas, Steel Cut Oats, and Sweet Potatoes (not all together, of course). I’ve also found that it’s easier to stick to a plan by cooking a large amount and eating it over several meals. It saves time both in cooking and preparing meals each day for lunch. Check this article out for help. Bottom line, just be smart with portions, stay away from crap; like fast food, soft drinks, and greasy snacks, and treat yourself every once in a while to your favorite indulgence. It’s not always easy but you reap the benefits long term and that should be the deciding factor when making choices about what you put in your body.
The other four points above are irrelevant if you are not committed to improving. Have you ever seen anyone not passionate or motivated about something become a success at anything? I didn’t think so. You have to make the choice inside that you are going to push through the cravings, make an effort to hit the gym when you’re tired, and put down the soda in favor of the aqua. In a practical sense, motivation or determination, is doing something when you don’t feel like it. The good days are easy. Everything flows nicely. It’s on the tough days that you have to preserver and stay committed otherwise you fall off that cliff and have to start climbing again from the bottom. Find something that motivates you and use that as the fuel to get you through the grind of the tough days. Following a program can be helpful but also setting small, short-term goals makes you pass “checkpoints” on your path to success. Do 3 workouts in a row or Bring your lunch for a week straight. Achievable goals to get you moving in the right direction allow you to keep hyper-focused and present in the short-term while ultimately looking for long-term success.
There are a lot of things you can blame others for in life but your overall health is not one of them. It’s a shame most people don’t take it seriously but I’ve realized the fact that some people just don’t care. They want to hear bones crack when they roll out of bed, or get tired walking up the stairs, or keep having to adjust their wardrobe. I’ll never fully understand it.
But if you want to feel a little better or have more energy or maybe shed a few pounds or 20 then make the commitment in your head and heart and stick with it. Be consistent each day and set some goals and realize it isn’t going to happen overnight. Success breeds success and with each little “win” comes a monumental breakthrough.
Look forward to seeing you be the best form of you this year.
Thanks for reading
As we begin the fiasco that is the primary elections and embark on another year of electing a President, I can’t help but think there has to be a better way to do it. By “IT”, I am referring to voting. Already, we are one Iowa Caucus down and controversy over who “won” that state looms large. It’s ridiculous.
If everyone forgot, it’s actually 2016. There are cars on the road that can drive themselves, small computers in everyone’s pocket, and the word “streaming” is synonymous with everything. This is the world we live in. Yet, despite all of the technological advances, our country still makes you register to vote, drive to some local government building, step into one of those “private” booths, use a pen to nominate our next President, and put it in a box. No wonder our voter turnout is piss poor. The people that do have the right to vote, should. Why don’t we make it easier then?
There’s only one logical person that needs to be consulted and sought out to bring voting to every US citizen and that’s Mark Zuckerberg. Yes, that Mark Zuckerberg. Now, here me out for a minute.
If the government can take forever to build the healthcare.gov site and incur the many blunders it did early on then why not look to an established platform that pretty much controls the population anyways. Americans spend more time on Facebook per day than any other website by far. If we want to change our politics and truly get everyone we can to vote then the people need to be more involved and informed. There is no better platform to do that than Facebook. So, let’s lay out some simple facts on why I’d propose this as a solution.
1. An extremely high percentage of Americans are already on Facebook so you have a captive and engaged audience. If you’re not, you can sign up very easily. We can check that box.
2. It is secure. Rarely do we hear of hacking Facebook accounts therefore the opportunity to “game” the system is relatively low.
3. I’m confident a simple program can be written to confirm your social security number and that you are, in fact, a citizen and of the legal age. It can be done.
4. Accuracy and speed is crucial (we all remember 2000, right? Technically should have been President Gore. This opportunity would provide real time insight into the elections and provide voters with rich overviews of candidates and their information should you need to refresh your memory. Also, no more “hanging chads”.
5. It’s time. Why are we voting the way my grandparents did? The resources it takes to run polling sites and the amount of error that can occur is ridiculous. This can be all but eradicated with a central online location for the masses to come vote.
These are just a couple of logical reasons Facebook may be an avenue to solve our voting woes. The government can certainly build something themselves but why try to reinvent the wheel. For the time being, it just makes sense. I know the chances are slim to none something like I am proposing would happen. Hell, there are many political figures trying to keep voter turnout low. Maybe, just maybe, if enough people voice concerns then there might be a legitimate chance to break into the 21st century for something so important to our future as electing the President of the United States.
Hope you enjoyed my perspective.
I would hope that my friends and family, if asked directly, would agree that two personality traits I have carried throughout my life are Optimism and Patience. Over the last several years those have been pushed to the limit with what I have been observing with everyday life, whether in person or on the news. The way we have come to treat one another is pretty bad. Now I know that our crime rate is down around this country when compared to years ago which is great to see. Frankly, a very small percentage of people are making up that population of physically harming others so we can assume most wouldn’t. What I have always been shocked by are the simple things we don’t do that seem so easy to do in order to help our fellow humans out. It could be simply letting someone merge into a lane on the road (instead we speed up) or helping someone struggling to put the bag in the overhead bin on an airplane. Whatever it might be, we need to do more of it.
That is why today was great. I ran my first ever race and it was called the Tar Heel 10-Miler in Chapel Hill, NC. I have done other athletic things throughout my life but this was a huge challenge for me because I dislike running. Hate would probably be an appropriate word. However, I was challenged by my wife and some neighbors last fall and I accepted. I really focused on training to do well over the last several months.
Having never been to a race before, it was really cool to see the turnout. The atmosphere was electric with so many people around and I was pretty amped up and had my music blaring to keep me motivated throughout. It was fun (besides the pain in my legs late in the race), and I finished the 10-miles at 1:51:12. Not bad, I guess. But that wasn’t the biggest takeaway I had from the race as I thought it might be training all those months prior.
As I was on about mile 7, I was trying to keep focused on anything but my body which was starting to really hurt. So, I turned my focus onto the other runners. All different types of runners; large and small, short and tall, it didn’t matter. We were all running together!
Everyone had different goals in mind entering the race whether to simple finish to gain a sense of accomplishment or maybe to support a great cause. I even saw a Firefighter with his full gear on running the race. Pretty cool! It was so great to see all of these different people from all walks of life running together; no bad thoughts, no hatred, no judgement, just purely focused on the task at hand.
Then there were the fans. People setting up shop on their driveways, volunteers giving out water, or just random folks at various parts throughout the course. At every turn they were there cheering and applauding the efforts of people they have never met before. Maybe they enjoyed watching the runners or enjoyed athletic events but it’s not like we were Jordan Spieth at The Masters just a week ago, we were unknowns. However, those people knew why we were racing and why we showed up that day to compete. They took time out of their day to clap and smile and give us all a little extra motivation as we were finishing the race. It was a great sight.
Today gave me more hope in our human race. We have a lot of problems, no one will deny that, but for just a split second or maybe a few hours, we all came together to accomplish something, whatever that something was. The moral of the story is that we did it being KIND to one another, being FRIENDLY, and being COURTEOUS.
Today I saw a lot of good in the world.
I hope to see more.
Several months ago I pondered a thought…what did I do with my time before “smartphones” existed?
I figured it had to be something. I know it was a lot more golf and working out. I also found that I actually had conversations with friends when we hung out and not just texting or through social media. Times were different; Times were simple.
Back in 2002 I got my first cell phone. A beautiful Samsung that had a nice flip to it and a spacious dial pad. Do you know why I got it? To actually make a phone call to someone!!! It’s amazing where we have come from!
Over the years the phone was a nice to have. If you needed to call a friend quickly because you were running late or a nail found your tire and you needed some roadside assistance. All relevant reasons to have one and nobody batted an eye. Over the last several years you could probably hear many excuses coming from my mouth like “No, honey, I need to keep a pulse on what is going on…” or the occasional “I need to interact with my clients…” or my favorite, “But it’s part of my job”. After thinking back on it, not only were these excuses pretty lame, but by being so dialed into Social Media, I was missing the little things in life that become distant faded memories all too soon. I was living in this clouded world of “micro content” with so much flying through the feed in a matter of seconds and needing to try and consume every piece of it. It was dominating my life and affecting my family.
And then it happened…
I woke up one morning and it just hit me. Do I want to sacrifice the time I had with my wife? Do I want to miss out on all the things my son was doing because my nose was head down in a phone rummaging through information that was 98% useless? The answer was a big fat NO.
So I did one of the toughest things any human being could possibly think of doing.
I tried to change!
As Winston Churchill poetically said: “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”
I decided that I would start slow. And…Since I have been watching so much Special Agent Oso lately (Look it up, great show!), I figured I would do it in “3 Simple Steps”.
I’d start with weekdays from 6pm until my son went to sleep and I wouldn’t touch the phone. Only in an emergency situation would I answer. This allowed me to spend as much time as possible with my wife and son without the interruption of my Facebook feed clouding my mind. Sure I had the occasional slip up but no more was my head down in the phone.
Then, I moved to weekends. Minimal interaction online unless my son was napping, I was alone maybe watching TV by myself or taking a break from hitting a few golf balls. This has been the toughest thus far. I have allowed myself to take a few calls and check up on emails to not totally go “cold turkey” on this whole thing.
As I am writing this, this is my next step I will take in the coming weeks. No social media interaction on the weekends at all. This will undoubtedly be difficult to say the least. I know I can handle it, heck I went on a weeklong Facebook Detox at the beginning of July. It will just take patience and the understanding that some of this “stuff” online may be important, however, nothing is more important than my time and I want to spend it as much as possible with the people that make me happy.
(Cue the “Full House” music at the end of every show)
The “Real” First step in all of this is to realize that there are greater things in life than keeping up with everything “going on” online. If you find some solace that there is someone else like you out there struggling to balance all of this stuff then hopefully this helps. It won’t be an easy road. Mine is only a few months in the making. It is getting easier each day. Heck, I still find myself reaching for my phone dozens of times throughout the night as part of the natural routine I put in place many years ago.
The phone had to be put in its place. We all have plenty of time during normal work hours on a break, or lunch, to fidget with the phone, tweet, share, pin, etc that should last until the next day. The world will be fine. You will be too.
Just think, when you stop looking down at that phone you’ll be amazed at what is right in front of you that you could’ve missed all along.