Reward Yourself- 7 Ways

Practice self-love.

Rewards come in all shapes and sizes and don’t need to break the budget, but not doing it could break your back. We all need rewards, but we don’t need to wait for them to come externally. It’s not productive.


Know what makes you happy. Then do it. Sounds so easy. Often is not.

We all get busy. So much is expected of us. I recently learned that a friend’s 21 year old son uses 5 computer monitors simultaneously at his summer internship. FIVE monitors. How can one possibly practice balance or self-care when this is what we are doing to ourselves?

No one will love you more than you love yourself. Not your spouse. Not your doctor. No one. They might disguise themselves as a friend and tell you they love you, while they enable you to continue bad habits. OK, maybe not, but I believe no one will love you more than you love yourself, assuming good mental health

A friend of mine once taught me the difference between sympathy and support. Honestly, it was a lesson for me. Sympathy is given by wallowing alongside you, when you keep wallowing. Support is different – constructive, productive and progressive.

A friend might listen to you go on repeating the same things. They observe you repeat unhealthy patterns and yet they don’t point that out. They give their listening ear without limits. But a TRUE friend listens and then reflects back to you what YOU might be doing to bring the aggravation on yourself in a pattern, so that you might break the pattern.

I digress. Today is about rewarding oneself. Do it. Often and generously. Here are some suggestions that work for me:

  1. Bubble baths
  2. Martinis
  3. Ironing cloth dinner napkins- perfect commitment to ironing process…a napkin
  4. Blogging – I like to think everyone thinks I’m as brilliant as I think I am.
  5. Chatting online with friends. Not with strangers…
  6. TED talks, so easy, informative, entertaining and accessible
  7. Exercise in any form, even if just a walk around the block.

It Actually Is Your Fault – 6 Tips

imagesThere’s a thinking trap that goes like this…you offend someone, then, when they let you know it, you apologize by saying, “Sorry, but I didn’t mean to offend.” This is a common reaction and it is 100% wrong and doesn’t qualify as an apology.

You can only apologize for your own wrong doing. You cannot apologize for someone else’s reaction to your behavior. Again, you can only apologize for your behavior. Anything else is not an apology.

Perception is reality. If someone you care about is offended, they are offended. If you caused it, you won’t help the matter by stating you didn’t mean to offend them, because that’s exactly what you did do.  Note: if you doubt this statement, fact check it with experience and let me know how that works out.

Yesterday was a very challenging day, in a challenging week, in what’s been a challenging year. Blah, blah, life’s not fair, grow up now.

My father came over for his usual Friday night dinner at our home, what should be a friendly, peaceful tradition and it went sour due to a couple of unfortunate minor events that occurred shortly after he arrived.  These events were minor, but they capped off a crappy day/week/month for me and I overreacted. My Dad is 87 1/2 years old and I truly cherish every ounce of his time that I still get to share and don’t want to spoil it. But I did spoil it last night and that’s a shame. However, it wasn’t a waste, because I’ve learned from it and now you are.

So here’s the takeaway in bullets, for the attention challenged, like myself –

  • Apologies admit the speaker’s fault – i.e. I’m sorry I was rude, not I’m sorry you misunderstood.
  • Apologies work best when timely – IMHO, it’s never too soon to apologize, so long as it is sincere.
  • Apologies never have a “but” – i.e. “I’m sorry, but I had a shitty day.” Nope, not an apology.
  • Method always overrides message – Successful relationships don’t come from avoiding communication of unpleasant topics. When said lovingly, perhaps quietly, with kindness and an eye on a mutual goal, you can say things that otherwise would crack a sidewalk without physical effort.
  • Timeouts can be effectively self induced – Timeouts work great for parents raising toddlers. They can also work for grownups, who sometimes need to choose this option over any alternative.
  • Assemble your troops – Seek a broad network so that you have someone who makes you laugh, one who lets you cry, a DD, a professional mentor, a hairdresser (man they know everything and are way under paid, most likely), and one who loves you enough and is courageous enough to tell you what you can’t see for yourself when you most need to see it.

Thank you to my network who keeps me sane and upright.


Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch

Trying too hardWhy is this the hardest lesson?

It is never about being right.  It is always about being liked. It’s always about fitting in. I need to write that 1000 times until my hand falls off.

What is it about human nature that makes us want to prove that we are right? It never works!

I recently spent some time checking out The Art of Charm.

First, it’s a great name, very catchy. Second, I agree with the concepts of Approachability, Attractiveness and Dominance, as it relates to making strong first impressions. I also don’t Scowl, Slouch nor Stare, so those aren’t the issue.

But there’s more to cultural fit than doing these right things.  It’s knowing when to stop. It’s controlling an overactive enthusiasm that makes you take one step too far.  That lizard brain reactiveness when you have a niggling feeling about whether or not to do something, then you ignore it and do it anyway.

I’ve been working for over 30 years and I still make this mistake. It’s like I’ve got some kind of blind self belief – that’s both the driving force behind much of my success – and also the Achilles heel that holds me back.

If I’m proving I’m right, I must be doing something wrong. I guess it’s like that adage – it’s not who you know, rather who knows you. It’s about a passive strategy, not an offense.  Maybe that’s why that’s called “offensive.”

  • Read the room.
  • Never assume where the partnerships exist.
  • Lead by listening.
  • Less is usually more when speaking.
  • If you’re investing energy in telling someone that you’re right, chances are, you are losing a different battle.



How to Self Extract and Succeed-5 Ways

self restraintWhen was the last time you sat back and observed as others spun themselves round and round an issue or task?

We all have phases of greater and lesser relaxation or confidence.  Sometimes we feel in a steep growth curve, or have something to prove to someone. At times like this, it’s challenging to sit back and let go. But often, it is the best plan of action.

You know when things are in flow. When you feel this, it is easy to sit back and listen more than speak. You know you learn more when you listen and observe than during those times when you are so focused on your angle that you can’t possibly take anything in.

The best leaders know when to listen. They intuitively know when to offer advice and when to just hang back until the message is more likely to be heard.

5 Ways to Curb Your Urge to Overdo

Breathe – When I get focused on a mission, whether it’s a task, an idea or a relationship pursuit, I tend to get singularly focused. When channeled properly, this is tenacity.  When untethered, it can be annoying or even offensive. Best executions happen when things are allowed to marinate first, then proceed at a measured pace.

Business moves at the speed of trust – Human relationships are at the heart of every successful venture, whether personal or professional. Great things aren’t done alone. It takes time to build that trust and things need to move forward at a natural pace. Natural varies by individual. Hang back and learn what feels natural to others rather than rush.

Ready isn’t until it is – Just because you are ready, doesn’t mean the team is. Stand back and observe. Listen more than speak before launching ahead of what works for all involved.

Stop convincing – Persuasion is the result of character, not attempts to convince. If you consistently demonstrate empathy, hard work, insightful value, partnership, openness – then people will start to follow your lead without your asking for it.

You are not the axis of the universe – Some days it might feel this way. You might be the most invested in a project. You might know the most about it, may have invested the most time and feel most responsible for the outcome. However, we are all truly replaceable. If you get sick, or have to tend to a family member, or become unavailable for any reason, the world will keep turning and work will still get done. Maybe not your way and maybe that’s okay.

“Just because you’re not coming, doesn’t mean you’re not paying.”

MillennialsMy son said this when he was about 18 years old.

Much has been said about the attitudes, behaviors and work ethics of millennials.  I’d like to spend a moment thinking about the positives of the perspectives of our millennial generation.

I happen to know 2 in particular that have great work ethics.  They are my children. They have more energy than me, a far more elastic memory, greater exposure to young minds and activities.  Add all of that up and, when channeled properly, great results can happen.

5 Advantages of a Millennial Perspective

  1. Sky’s the limit. Someone who is at an earlier stage of their career and their life often has a cleaner slate than not.  They haven’t yet failed as much. They haven’t been told, “You can’t”, as much. Simply stated, they have less baggage.
  2. You don’t know what you don’t know. It can be humbling sometimes to have less knowledge. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But, unharnessed, it can sometimes be paralyzing. Those at an earlier stage can often be more likely to try something new – make a suggestion of change at work, leave an inspiring job, begin a new relationship.
  3. No tech fear. This generation grew up with technology. They know that pressing a button won’t make the sky fall. They were raised to click and touch in order to learn.
  4. Curiosity. While curiosity can be age agnostic, I’d wager it’s more prevalent among youth. The more things we’ve tried, the more pre-conceived notions we tend to own, generally speaking. Curiosity will drive more change, resourcefulness and innovation than not.
  5. Appropriate entitlement. This one deserves a lengthier explanation, because it tends to be the most common single word associated with the negatives of the millennial generation.

I recently read a post from someone who was interviewing for a job, made it to the second interview and the hiring manager was talking about the comp package in too rushed of a way for the applicant to digest. Therefore, she asked for a written explanation of the comp package. Upon doing so, she noticed the body language of the hiring manager was not positive.  It was the last she heard from him, as well. Her reaction was that she’d been disrespected for having spent 3+ hours of her time over the course of 2 interviews, plus the amount of time she’d spent filling out some application forms.

When is it appropriate to ask for a written explanation of the compensation package – before or after receiving an offer? It is not desirable to ask for the comp package for a job you haven’t been offered.  You have zero leverage until receiving an offer.

Would you ask to see someone’s financials before they propose? You could, but I’d not respond well to that.

By the way, 3 hours is a very small time investment to make toward an association that could last for decades. Especially if that association could mean the difference between being independent or not.

Small investment indeed.

How to Present Your Message – 7 Tips

Preso XBA month ago, I had the opportunity to speak before a large group at an internal sales conference.  I was nervous, as I knew less than half of those in the room and there was quite a bit riding on my ability to make a good impression before my boss, his boss, that guy’s boss and scores of other executives across business units. Last week, I finally received the video of the presentation and I’m pleased with how it actually transpired.

Here’s what I learned.

Take care of yourself first. I had about a month to prepare for my talk, but about a week prior, I was sent specific corporate guidelines detailing what the visual presentation needed to look like with sample templates in a 16 page document.  There were specifically suggested graphics to choose from, company sanctioned icons, none of which appeared to match my message nor my vision of how I intended to present. Since I missed the whole “tech” thing in college because it hadn’t been discovered yet, this pretty much threw me into a tailspin at a time that I should have been feeling great about the honor of being chosen to represent.

I was prepared. I had notes online and on notecards. I rehearsed plenty. But, by the time the presentation was approaching, I was exhausted and functioning on little sleep.  I checked out of conference programming for the afternoon and took a nap.  That was the timeout my mind and body both needed to come out on stage, before a ballroom full of colleagues, and appear fresh, rested and on point.

If you think you fit in, you fit in. I was chosen to sit on a panel with 4 other colleagues. The day before the talk, I discovered I was the only panelist over the age of 25.   I’m significantly over the age of 25. My daughter will see 25 before too long. At first, I was slightly mortified.  But, that quickly turned to pride, as I knew I was there because I belonged there. I had something of great value to share and that’s why I was chosen to present.

One of my fellow panelists said that her greatest takeaway from her success story is that you don’t need to have a big title to have a big win. The context was that, about a year ago, she was a college student, and now she’s presenting a case study of her successful sale before a large group of colleagues at all levels. When I heard her remarks, it occurred to me, in the context of my relative age on the panel, you don’t have to be considered young in order to do fresh things in fresh ways.

Smile and breathe. Always helps to build credibility. Nothing sells like confidence. Nothing comes close.

Control your body language. If you are sitting on a panel, sit up straight and don’t swivel if you’re in a swivel chair. Your message to the audience will be lost in that motion.  You also won’t like how it looks if you have the chance to view it again on video.

Water and lozenges within reach are useful. Plan ahead. Have them on hand.

Have a conversation. Don’t talk at the audience. Have a conversation with them. It’s a practiced thing, but no one likes being talked at, while most everyone enjoys a good conversation. Statements like, “I’m going to tell you guys something and it is SO simple” or “You know, we really saw dollar signs when we got to this part of the project” or “Just start somewhere and here’s what you are looking for” are some conversational ways to share your ideas.

Isolate only 1-2 points. There’s something magical about narrowing the focus to only 1 or 2 key takeaways. It helps the speaker focus; it helps the audience absorb and retain. Use this as a guide, when you can, for your prepared remarks.  And for Q&A afterward, minimize your response to an open ended question by choosing the 1-2 key things that come to mind as soon as you hear that question. A laundry list would send both speaker and audience into the black hole.


Be Kind Always – 10 Ways

kindnessPeople are watching you.

Every day, we are confronted with opportunities to interact with others.  Whether ordering a cup of coffee at Starbucks, dropping off your dry cleaning, checking out your groceries, booking a hotel room, greeting a receptionist, presenting to a prospect, paying a bill, etc. How we choose to present ourselves is exactly that – a choice.

Here are 10 Ways to Practice Kindness Right Now

  1. Speak gently in public.
  2. Don’t use your cell phone in a restroom of any kind.
  3. Offer your extra snacks to a fellow passenger.
  4. If the creamer sits in front of you, pass it around when coffee is served.
  5. Use your inside voice on all cell calls.
  6. Never honk your horn unless safety is at risk.
  7. Give blood.
  8. Smile first.  Don’t wait for the other guy.
  9. Do not tailgate.
  10. Send written thank you notes – to family, to business contacts and to anyone who has helped you be who you are today.