Why Vote?

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I’m not sure you’ve heard but there is a little election coming up in the United States. A couple of guys running for President seem to be the big news but there is a lot more going on than just that.

There are elections all across the land, for federal office, for state office, and tons and tons of local elections too. There are amendments and vital funding measures on almost every ballot.

It is not an overstatement to say that in one way or another, every single US citizen will be affected by the outcome of these elections.

Yet, many states will struggle to get 50% of registered voters to actually vote. That is sad, scary and downright disappointing on many levels.

It is also not an overstatement to say that many Americans have fought and many have even given their lives so that their fellow Americans could maintain the right to vote.

The right to vote – why do so many Americans take that for granted? Maybe it’s because they have always had it. Perhaps they believe that no matter what, they always will.

What if you knew that this was your final opportunity to vote? What if the rules said that if a minimum of 98% of eligible voters didn’t vote then “votes” would be done away with and the will of the few would be imposed on the many?

You wouldn’t allow that would to happen would you? Well, if you don’t vote, you DO allow that to happen. You matter and so does your vote. Your person or cause may not win but when you vote, you do.

Voting says that you care about people other than yourself. It says that you believe your opinion can make a difference. It says that you will be heard.

So get busy now, find out the positions of the candidates. Find out what those amendments mean. Find out where you go to vote, make a plan on how to get there. Don’t let anything, anyone or any excuse keep you from exercising this all important right.

Don’t just say you care, show it. VOTE!

I Love You Man!

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I’m pretty sure I don’t like this topic already but it is an important one so let’s talk about it. Let’s just sum it up like this: Getting hammered at company and industry events just ain’t what it used to be. Drinking to excess is becoming less socially acceptable by the minute. Professionally speaking almost nothing ruins more careers.

Here are some ideas to keep the fun coming while reducing the chances of “I love you, Man” moments… and generally minimizing the chance of becoming company or industry folklore for years to come.

If you have an entertainment situation where you’d prefer not to avoid alcohol altogether, consider…slowing your pace of drinking, alternating your drink with seltzer, club soda or water throughout the event, or eating more food throughout the event and consuming drinks or beer with less alcohol.

Alcohol quick facts…

generally… one 12-ounce beer = one 5-ounce glass of wine = 1.5 ounces of liquor (80 proof)

wine usually has an alcohol content of 12 – 16%

beer in most cases, has an alcohol content of 3.2 – 7%

as little as 1 – 2 drinks in one hour can impair an individual’s ability to drive and think clearly (depending on weight and alcohol content)

only time can sober up someone

So go ahead, enjoy yourself, just make sure you can still enjoy yourself tomorrow!

Truth be Told!

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Are you a leader that appreciates the truth? Are you a leader that not only allows but also encourages your people to tell you the truth?

Your answer to those two questions doesn’t really matter. The only question, and answer, that really matters is this one: Do your people trust you enough to tell you the truth?

The truth be told, in way too many organizations the answer to that last question is a resounding NO!

Here’s a sad fact of leadership that I’ve discovered through the years. Many, many leaders would rather be told what they want to hear rather than be told the actual truth.

These leaders believe a difference of opinion or a challenge to one of their ideas is a challenge to their authority. They treat it as a sign of disrespect and they have been known to hold a grudge for a long time. As a result, they not only limit the potential of their organizations today, they limit it for many tomorrows too.

They “teach” their people that the only truth that matters is the one that the “leader” wants to hear. Leaders drop phrases into conversations like “let’s be careful” and “I think you’re wrong” in order to slow down or even silence the dissenting, truthful voices.

If I want to give a leader the benefit of the doubt I would say they aren’t even aware they are doing that but I’m afraid in many cases it is absolutely intentional. It’s just easier for some leaders to handle the truth as they want it to be rather than the truth as it actually is.

Here’s an interesting check on what kind of leader you really are: when was the last time you made a major (or even a minor) change in a decision based on input from your team? Asked another way; when was the last time you allowed your team, or a member of your team, to overrule you?

If it’s been more than 30 days then either they aren’t telling you the truth or you aren’t listening. Either way, the outcome is the same, the truth has likely died at your hands.

Have you ever heard the saying “great minds think alike?” Well, it’s completely wrong, great minds most certainly do not think alike. If you have a room full of smart people then you also have a room full of different opinions and thoughts. If your people are too timid to share those opinions and thoughts then YOU are failing as a leader.

If one of your goals of leadership is to build more leaders then don’t just allow your people to be truthful with you, encourage it, reward it, and most of all show them that there will be no repercussions.

Successful People are Enthusiastic!

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Do we absolutely have to be enthusiastic to be successful? Probably not, we can likely find cases where a somewhat unenthusiastic person has become a success. What would be much more difficult to find is an enthusiastic person who is not a success.

Dale Carnegie said that “enthusiasm is the little recognized secret to success.” I believe that statement is as true today as it was when he made it 75 years ago. It is true for any profession but maybe there is a bit more truth in it where salespeople are concerned.

Think about it, you’re trying to convince a customer that your product is best, so much so that it is worth paying a premium to own. That is hard enough as it is, it becomes almost impossible when we have the enthusiasm of an autopsy subject. How can your customer become excited about what we have to offer when you appear not to be? Would you buy from someone just going through the motions?

Successful people are excited by what they’re doing and that excitement is contagious. They draw people to them because these people want to work with them, do business with them and just be around them. Are you that type of person?

Many Dale Carnegie classes begin with a “warm-up” that has participants shouting “act enthusiastic and you’ll be enthusiastic.” I’ve seen that “warm-up” many times and I know that statement to be absolutely true. Sometimes it is as simple as acting enthusiastic, you see, you can even catch enthusiasm from yourself.

“Too Little” is all You Need to Fail

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Ever wonder why some people fail and others succeed? I don’t think it’s all that hard to figure out. Almost all successful people have one thing in common. Now, different types of successful people have different things in common; athletes have great skill, professional people tend to have educated themselves well. Successful parents have great empathy and listen well.

But all successful people (regardless of what they do) seem to have this in common: they have done the things that less successful people simply didn’t like to do.

Successful people do the things that must be done, whether they wanted to or not. Less successful people(what some people would call failures) do the things they felt like doing.

Almost without exception, the less successful people have done too little to succeed. Too little school, too little practice, too little planning, too little effort. Too little of whatever it was that they needed to succeed at what they were doing.

Here is the saddest thing about people that do too little; they have it completely within their power to do enough. They can even choose to do more than enough, just in case they need a little extra down the road.

The difference between failure and success is the difference between too little and a little more.

So, here you go, just fill in the blank: I doing too little ______________________ to achieve my goals and succeed. (Make sure you’re not giving yourself too little honesty here.)

Now you know what to work on so quit reading this and eliminate “too little” from your life!

It Isn’t Safe to Play it Safe

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I’m a big fan of playing it safe. I guess it’s my conservative nature. I grew up in a “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” environment and I can still make a strong case for that strategy today.

The problem is, it’s a very bad strategy for the world we do business in today. The “let’s play it safe” people are getting hammered more and more everyday. There is not a business around today that can afford to “leave well enough alone.”

The only way to be safe today is to take a risk! I’m not talking crazy, thoughtless risk; I’m talking about thoughtful, considered risk. Doing the same thing next year that you did last year will NOT get you the same results. The people that thrive in the coming years will be the first who realize that just because something was the right thing to do yesterday doesn’t mean it’s still the right thing to do today.

Such a person is one Randy Gage. If you follow me on Twitter you have probably seen me tweet a bunch about Randy’s latest book, Risky is the New Safe. I posted those tweets for the same reason I’ve committed a blog post to this subject. I believe Randy’s book can help many people. There is absolutely nothing else in it for me. I’m promoting Risky is the New Safe because I believe it “fits” with my online mission of helping others.

I’ve never met Randy “in person” but here’s what I can tell you about him. This guy gets it! In his book Randy provides a kind of road map to success, and not just the success of today but the success of a great many tomorrows.

Here’s what I like most about Risky is the New Safe, when you read it you’re no longer alone in your risk taking. It’s almost like there is someone there with you, a coach if you will, offering support, guidance and lesson’s from his own life experiences. It’s written from the depth and perspective of someone who has vision and is willing to share it with others.

No matter what you do and no matter how you do it, it’s highly unlikely that you can maintain your success by just continuing to do it indefinitely. The world is changing everyday and everyday it changes a little faster than the day before. There is no more “safe;” you either accept the challenge of risk or you accept your fate. The choice is yours.

I truly believe that Risky is the New Safe will help you make better choices and decisions about your future. You might find it to be just the push you need to get out of your “supposedly safe” bubble and into a life filled with pleasure and success.

Lest I forget, you can also catch Randy’s wisdom on Twitter – follow him @Randy_Gage

I hope your very next choice is to read this great, potentially life changing book!

Spend or Invest?

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This title just sounds like money, doesn’t it? Should I spend my cash on something or invest it so I might have even more later?

Well, this post is most certainly not about money, it’s about something much more valuable, it’s about people.

So here’s the question right up front… When interacting with people, are you spending time on them or investing time with them?

That’s two completely different mindsets and they often lead to two completely different outcomes. Spending time on your people could indicate that interacting with people is not the highlight of your day. Investing time with your people could mean that you understand the value of all people and that you realize that your role as a leader is, at least partially, to make a positive difference in their lives.

Let’s go to a little deeper level than just work or business. Imagine the difference in your actions and attitude in these two scenarios: You’ve been really busy and “the kids” have suffered because of it. They just haven’t seen much of you lately so you commit to spend some time with them this coming weekend….. or, you realize your vital role in their life and commit to invest some of your time with them this weekend.

One scenario has the potential to cause you to go through the motions, it could be the cause of your divided attention. Spending time on, or even with anyone seldom means real commitment.

Now let’s consider the other scenario, you are committed to invest time with your kids. You plan the weekend out and you also plan to keep the distractions away. You take (as do most people) your investments much more seriously than you do your spending so you really put a part of yourself into the weekend.

Imagine the difference in the lives of your kids!

If you think I’m just playing word games here, you’re right. However, words are what we use to talk ourselves into more productive actions. Words make us think! Don’t use another minute of your day without asking yourself “do I want this time to be used as an expense or an investment?” The difference in those two words will change your actions and very well may change your life or the life of someone important to you.

Invest!