Practical

Bring Your Own Awesome podcast

There are so many amazing, inspiring people in this world. So many who are making a difference and making the world a better place through their dreams and actions. We hear about the ones who are famous, but most of them happen to live next door.

As I’ve traveled, presented, facilitated, coached, and consulted throughout my career I’ve been blessed to meet seemingly regular people who are quietly going about doing extraordinary things. People whose lives probably look a lot like yours and mine as they strive for that next level in what they are doing.

Sure, I love listening to Tim Ferriss or Brian Rose (London Real) interview the big names at the peak of their game, but I have a hard time relating to most of the guests. The people who inspire me and whose stories I want to hear and learn from are the ordinary yet amazing and that was the genesis of the Bring Your Own Awesome (BYOA) podcast. I’m a fan of Dan Waldschmidt and his blog, book, and podcast. For years, I’ve appreciated (and been inspired by) his relentlessly practical approach to personal development and success. We got to talking about the idea for BYOA and were soon launching it as a mini-series on his regular podcast, EDGY Conversations.

BYOA is Dan and I co-hosting short (15-30 minute) interviews with people who are bringing a whole lot of awesome to their lives. Small business owners and entrepreneurs, sales people, writers, musicians, physical trainers, consultants, and more. Regular people with families, bills, and full-time jobs who are going full out body, mind, and spirit to create the lives they want. Social media glamorizes “living the dream” and reduces success and inspiration to memes and unattributed quotes, but that’s not reality. Dan and I dive in with our guests to the gritty real world hard work that goes into pursuing their dreams, what they’ve learned, and the advice they’d give others.

And we have a lot of fun along the way.

Have a listen and join the conversation.

Apple Podcasts: http://edgy.es/podcast
Google Podcasts: http://edgy.es/google

Listen from the website: Edgy Conversations podcast

 

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Doing What I Know

When I was a kid, I used to really enjoy watching the GI Joe cartoon. If you remember back to 1983 or so you know they always ended each episode with some sort of lesson and would say, “Now you know. And knowing is half the battle.”

Knowing is important. Ignorance doesn’t solve too many problems. But, knowing is not just half the battle, it is ONLY half the battle. Knowing isn’t enough.

Derek Sivers summed it up as, “If more information were the answer, we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.” Similarly, Tony Robbins once said, “Most people know what to do, but few do what they know.”

Knowledge is important, but it’s just the start.

Ever go to a conference or seminar? Attend a webinar or read up on a topic? Ever pay for advice from a doctor, physical therapist, or personal trainer? Of course you have. The more important question is: how much of that knowledge have you actually put into action? How much focused effort did you spend following the instructions, executing the plan, or taking action before moving on to the next conference, book, expert, etc.?

The past three months or so I’ve been on an intense learning curve. I’ve paid for knowledge, expertise, and advice through conferences, trainings, consultations, and books, but have only sort of done what was advised. Sure, I started with best of intentions, but that quickly faded against established habits and routines, as well as the unanticipated and unexpected steering me off track.

Yesterday, the question hit me: what if I went all in on this advice? What if I wrung every last bit of goodness out of each dollar paid and instruction given?

Where could I be in my life if I simply did what I know?

Where could you be?

Just Start Today

Skipping one day probably doesn’t matter much. If you run or lift several times a week, skipping one day isn’t going to change your fitness. If you are disciplined about what you eat, one stuff-yourself-to-the-gills meal isn’t going to change your weight. If you wake up early to make time read and journal, sleeping in once isn’t going to set your personal development back.

One day doesn’t change much in the big picture of our lives. Except when the day we skip is Day One. We think, “No problem, one day won’t matter. I’ll start tomorrow. Then I can really focus on it and do it right.” The next day we think, “No problem, one day won’t matter. I’ll start tomorrow. Then I can really focus on it and do it right.” Day three becomes, “No problem, one day won’t matter. I’ll start tomorrow. Then I can really focus on it and do it right.”

Start today, no matter how imperfect the start. Learn and improve and make day two even better. Build momentum instead of holding out for perfection. Waiting to take perfect action tomorrow will be soundly beaten by taking imperfect action today. Right now today. Not tomorrow. Today.

“To achieve greatness, start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.” ~ Arthur Ashe

Better Communication with Dirty Rhetoric

Do you write? Present? Communicate with other humans? Need to persuade or share a compelling idea? (hint: the answer is “yes”). Read on.

It’s been said, “When Cicero spoke, people marveled. When Caesar spoke, people marched.” That’s how I want to write and present. I don’t want people to like my ideas, I want my ideas to inspire people.

If only… writing and speaking, communicating and persuading, are not easy. The difference between good and great, between marveling at a speech and marching because of it, is often subtle. Learning those nuances has been a bludgeoning task of trial and error for me. Hard knocks and underwhelming responses and I still have a long way to go.

So, I was stupidly, geekily excited to receive a set of Dirty Rhetoric cards in the mail. Yep, that’s actually the name and, no, it doesn’t come from an “adult” themed store. Rather, Peter Watts Paskale (@speak2all), a communications coach and analyst, and Gavin McMahon (@powerfulpoint), a communication and presentation consultant, created a card deck to quickly and easily teach the fundamentals of persuasive communication.

The cards are color coded into four categories – persuasion, scaling, description, and memory – and  each card describes one technique (53 in all). Along with the technique’s name in English and Latin, there are icons showing whether the technique connects to Ethos (belief/ideals/credibility), Logos (consistency/logic), or Pathos (emotions/imagination). Plus, each card has a rating system indicating the difficulty of the technique, a simple description, and two examples. Woof, that’s a lot of info on a card only slightly bigger than an average smart phone.

The instructions include six “games” to help incorporate the techniques into your messaging. For example, Aristotle’s Dilemma has you draw four cards from the color category matching the purpose of your speech (persuasion, description, etc.) and then find ways to incorporate those techniques into your draft. Writer’s Block focuses on learning the techniques and asks you to write a sentence or two, shuffle the cards, draw one from the deck, and apply that card’s technique to your writing. There are also games for four to six plus players.

Today is the first chance I’ve had to really open and look at the deck and I can hardly wait to really dig in. I love the premise of Dirty Rhetoric – a simple, practical way of learning and applying effective persuasive techniques to my writing and speaking.

Peter and Gavin were kind enough to send me a pre-production set for review. If you want to learn more or get your own set, check out the Dirty Rhetoric webpage, follow the #dirtyrhetoric hashtag on social media, or participate in the kickstarter campaign at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/99144298/dirty-rhetoric .

The One Thing Worse Than Buying a Car

Quick. What’s the single most painful purchase process? Gotta be buying car, right? Nope, but you’re on the right track.

Now, buying a car is tremendously painful, I’ll give you that. It’s a big decision and a huge financial commitment. It seems impossible to have a simple transaction without the “I have to talk to the manager” games and even when you have the car negotiated out, the finance person will make your life miserable using techniques banned by the Geneva Convention until you agree to extended warranties, service plans, and maybe a life insurance policy or two. At the end you’re so mentally frazzled, worn down, and desperate for escape that you’ll agree to anything if it means you can go home. It’s hard to imagine any other purchase being so antiquated, cumbersome, and antagonistic. It’s almost as though the entire process was designed from the start to be as difficult as possible – sort of the opposite of Amazon.com’s one-click purchase.

Except, it’s easy to imagine how to make it worse by modeling another process involving a major life decision. Let’s have a bit of fun here.

Note: This was originally published at Performance I Create. Click to read the rest. [Spoiler alert: It’s about recruiting and the candidate experience.]

check the box and move on

checkboxThe other day I heard someone say, “It’s better to do the right thing poorly than the wrong thing well.” This made me stop. Do something poorly? Blasphemy! Yet…

So many of the things we measure in business (and in life) make no distinction on whether our actions are focused on the right or the wrong things. Only: 1) whether or not we’ve accomplished them; and 2) how well we accomplished them.

Check the box and move on. Don’t bother to consider whether the actions helped or hurt, moved us forward or held us back. Focus on quality, not usefulness. Check the box and move on regardless of whether there was a different action – a better action – we could have taken.

Check, check, check.

People ask us how our day was. We say, “Busy.” We don’t say, “Productive” or “Effective” or “It was bumpy but we’ve made some good strides in the right direction.”

It makes me wonder how much time we spend focused on doing the wrong thing well. Measuring whether something is done is so much easier than measuring if it was right or the best thing to do. So we don’t worry about it.

Nope. Just check the damn box and move on.

success secret? (not really)

There are all sorts of books and blogs about the “Secrets of $uccess”. Sadly, they tend to overcomplicate things or make it sound like success is outside the reach of most people, or attainable only through the authors 10 step program. Yet, as I look around, one thing that really sets people apart in their careers (and lives) is an insistence on doing things right. Very few set out to do things wrong, but most seem to strive to do “just kinda ok enough” (that’s a technical term). The number of people striving to do things right is so small that they immediately stand out. Be that person.

To be clear… Right isn’t a moral term. Right doesn’t mean perfect. Right isn’t “my way”. Right is not a generational issue. Right has nothing to do with position in the organization.

Doing things right means:

  • Holding yourself to a higher standard. It’s making decisions and taking actions with the intention of exceed the standards given versus doing just enough to not get fired.
  • Correcting things as soon as you notice they are incorrect or below standard. Mistakes happen, things get overlooked, and sometimes it just doesn’t work out like you expected. That’s a given to living on planet Earth. The bigger question is do you fix it?
  • Making decisions. There is such a difference in outcomes between making a conscious decision based on understanding and weighing the pros and cons of a situation and a “decision” made by not doing anything until it’s too late. It’s one thing to intentionally choose to do something at a bare minimum standard because you decide to focus your time and energy on higher priority items and quite another when do something at a bare minimum standard because you’re lazy or simply don’t care.
  • Accepting (embracing) responsibility for your outcomes. People striving to do things right rarely get caught up in playing the victim, blaming others, or using convenient or glib excuses. This rarely works in the long term and often does nothing more than damage your reputation.
  • Asking questions, seeking feedback, and finding ways to improve.

In short, “right” is simply caring about the outcome. There’s no secret to it. Nothing mystical, esoteric, or complicated. No system or program. Just caring.

Ken Blanchard said it so well: “There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it’s convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses; only results.

time to talk

I am a big believer in leadership development classes, workshops, and seminars. I’ve witnessed (and experienced) so many of those “light bulb moments” where there is suddenly a huge shift in thinking that changes a leader’s approach, and results.

BUT. I wonder how much of it is the content of the class and how much of it is something else. Good content is important, yet the magic happens in the spaces between the tools and concepts. The class provides crucial time to think, reflect, and discuss. It gives time away from phones, email, customers, and employees and becomes a catalyst for dialog and insight that doesn’t happen on its own.

The class gets people together and gives them space and time to talk. The information, theories, tools, and approaches gives context and content for reflection, dialog, and sharing. The conversation lets people know that they are not alone in their challenges, and leading is sometimes difficult and lonely and sometimes a bit scary for everyone, and there are solutions.

It’s amazing what happens when leaders drop the charade of invulnerable infallibility and get human. Suddenly, there’s so much to teach and so much to learn. Building trust, exploring ideas, sharing and learning from each other’s joy and heartache doesn’t happen quickly. It takes time before the conversation gets deep enough and rich enough to matter.

Time that no one thinks they have – until they take it.

What thinks you?

 

the hidden in plain sight competitive advantage

Business is conducted through humans, by humans, for humans. Humans invent, create, produce, market, sell goods and services to other humans. Business success is determined by how well the humans at the company meet the needs of the humans who are buying compared to the other options available.

Oversimplified, but reasonable enough. If I need a new mountain bike, the bicycle company that best meets my needs for price vs quality vs value vs features vs warranty vs availability vs etc is the one that I will give money to. If there are enough people with the same needs then that business will do better than their competition. Simple enough, no?

Well, no.

How the humans who are your (internal or external) customers FEEL about your products and services is much, much more important than what they THINK. [This is the single most significant line I have written in this blog ever. Period. Think about it. Internalize it. Apply it to your job.]

Us humans are emotional, illogical, and irrational. We are pleasure seeking pain avoiders. We almost always act in what we believe is our best interest or will at least what will make us happy in the moment. We almost always act in ways that support our self-identity and often put who we think we are ahead of our long-term best interests. Us humans are individualistic and driven by group dynamics. We want to stand out by fitting in and be just as unique as everyone else. Status matters – a lot – and we put considerable effort into creating and maintaining our position in our world. We cling to ritual and tradition more than progress and reason. We fear change yet get bored easily and constantly seek new and different. In short, we are a gloriously gooey, sloppy, contradictory, confusing, paradox.

Business gets done through, by, and for humans. If that’s true, then our skills for understanding the driving psychology of ourselves and others, communicating our needs and concerns while understanding and empathizing with those of  others, and leading and influencing  others (and ourselves) are paramount to long-term success. Those ill named “soft” skills are foundational to business success, individual success, and human success, yet are some of the least appreciated, studied, or taught skills.

If we were consistently rational and logical, understanding ourselves and others would be PRIORITY #1 for every individual, community, organization, and business. It’s not. There is a competitive advantage to be found wherever there is a gap between what’s available and what’s needed.

It’s worth repeating: How the humans who are your (internal or external) customers FEEL about your products and services is much, much more important than what they THINK.

Use that information to your advantage.