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Want to Improve Your Career of Life? Learn Exactly Where and How to Hammer Your Nail

Improve Your Career or Life

There once was a man that had an annoying squeaky floor. Every time he walked across the TV room, this floor squeaked and creaked. 

Frustrated, this man called over a neighbor that was good with woodworking. The neighbor couldn’t figure out how to stop the squeak and recommended a handyman.

So, the man called a local handyman. The handyman came over and walked around the room. He tried everything, but couldn’t fix the problem. He even handyman recommended pulling up all the carpet and redoing the subfloor. Then, of course, offered his services to do that. 

This man didn’t want to pay the expense of redoing the floor. Frustrated, he waited. He continued for months with that damn annoying squeaky floor. 

Six months later, he had enough. He searched through Google and found a “master carpenter.” The master carpenter came. Just like the handyman, he walked around the room. But, he also took measurements, moved the furniture around, and even rolled a ball across the floor. 

All of this seemed a little curious to the man, but hey … this guy’s a master carpenter. And, if what the master carpenter is doing fixes the squeaky floor, then so be it. 

Finally, the carpenter finished studying the room. The carpenter asked the man to grab the hammer and a single 10d plywood nail out of his toolbox. The man walked over and selected the tools as requested by the carpenter.

Then, the carpenter knelt and pointed to a specific spot on the floor. “Now, nail right here, but slightly angled towards the back window.”

How to Improve Your Career or Life

The man was a little surprised at the carpenter’s request. But, went ahead and hammered the nail through the carpet, but angled towards the back window. 

When the man finished hammering, they both stood up and walked around the room — no more squeaking or creaking. The Master Carpenter reached into his pocket and handed the man a bill. 

The man didn’t understand. He said, “Wait a minute, you came here, walked around the room, and told ME to hammer the nail. I did all the work. How can you charge me when I did the work?”

The carpenter replied, “You didn’t hire me to hammer the nail. You hired me to fix your squeaky floor. You hired me to tell you EXACTLY how and where to hammer the nail.” 

If you want a better career or to improve your leadership skills, don’t rip up your entire floor. Learn precisely where and how to hammer your nail. 

Improving your career or life

When you hire an Executive Coach, you aren’t hiring him/her to hammer your nail. The power of an Executive Coach rests in his/her ability to observe your situation, goals, habits, and current actions. Then, provide you the resources, tools (hammer and nail), and location of EXACTLY where and how to hammer your nail. 

We hold you accountable, but it’s up to you to take action. If we solve everything for you, it won’t help in the long-run. You won’t learn and improve.

How can I support you?


Stewart Swayze

Here are a few Free Personal and Professional Development Downloads for you to enjoy:

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Warning: 4 Signs You Have the Fear of Success & How to Overcome Them

How to Overcome the Fear of Success

Many people fail to achieve their goals due to the “Fear of Failure.” However, are you aware there's another major fear we often overlook? 

This fear is equally dangerous. It damages our motivation to succeed. It's known as the “Fear of Success!” You got that right, the fear of SUCCESS!

The Fear of Failure stops us from acting or making decisions. We worry about rejection and negative outcomes if we pursue our goals. We can identify the Fear of Failure through more tangible fears. Plus, and there are tools and exercises to help us overcome mental blocks and reprogram our mind for success. 

The Fear of Success is a subtle little creature. It's harder to identify, transform, and eradicate.

How do you know if you have the "Fear of Success? 

Do you implement the correct self-improvement and personal development tools, but your life does not improve? Maybe your life even gets worse.

Have you ever settled for less than you deserve or are capable of achieving? Uh hum, this could be the Fear of Success.

Do you find yourself motivated about starting a new project, but your efforts and enthusiasm slowly fade? Or, you even stop short before you have completed the project.

Deep down, do you find yourself almost expecting things to go wrong, no matter how promising the situation?

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Do you identify with any of the questions above?

Just like the Fear of Failure, the Fear of Success can hold you back. Detailed in the list below are a few real symptoms of the Fear of Success.

1) You haven't found the right time – Always waiting until the time is right to start acting. Guess what? There's no perfect time and no ideal plan. 

Do it now. Start now. Again, the key to success in taking action. Zero + Zero = Zero. One step forward is better than no steps. If you wait to find the best time, there are other people out there moving right past you. Even if you take the wrong action, you just learned. You gained insight and knowledge. You are flexible and can adjust ... do it even better the next time.

2) You procrastinate – You putt off tasks that will bring you closer to your goal. Everyone suffers from this gremlin at some point, but if it's a reoccurring habit ... that's a problem. 

Take small steps toward your goal each day. Take action! Any action! Stop sitting around and doing nothing. 

3) You are a perfectionist - Similar challenge as above, you stay in the same place because you are spending so much time perfecting your move. Nothing in life is perfect. You can always find areas to improve. That's the great part! How many football games have you watched, enjoyed, and thought ... "Damn, my team just played amazing!" I'd be willing to bet the players and coaches of the winning team felt the same thing. However, I'd bet $1,000,000 that those same coaches and players went back and studied the game film. They enjoyed the win, but found areas to improve. Move forward, enjoy the ride, but ACCOMPLISH your goals. Then, once you've celebrated ... if you feel it's necessary, go back and improve. 

4) You are problem-focused – Do you spend more time focused on the problems or the solutions? Reframe your problem-focused mindset to turn it into your advantage. Transition from Problem Focus to Solution Focus.

Sit down for a “focused”, but short period of time. Use your laser focus to identify ALL of the problems. Develop a solution and prepare a plan to tackle each one. Create your plan with a checklist. Use the process of crossing off each problem as your motivation to drive forward. If you run across more problems, remind yourself of how well you dealt with the other issues. Ask, “what is the best solution to overcome this challenge?” Then, add it your list and keep checking them off! 

Enjoy the journey as much as the results. Move forward, my friend!  If you follow the above steps to overcome your Fear of Success, you will achieve success. Ultimately, your fear of success will reduce, and you will develop a personal "system" of success. 

Do you suffer from the Fear of Failure? If you’re reading this post, you’re in luck! For a limited time you can take $10 off my course: Transform Your Fear of Failure - Create the Energy You Need for Success. I have no doubt you’ll find great value in this course!

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50 Ways to Find Happiness

50 Ways to Find Happiness

The happiest people appreciate what they have, keep an open mind and seek out new challenges to grow. They use their leisure time to have fun, reflect and development. They have a few excellent friends and don’t measure friendship by the number of followers or connections. They enjoy music, books, hobbies, family and stimulating conversation. They know that small steps lead to massive action. They choose to be the “cause” of their happiness. 

 Sound hard? It’s not. Here are 50 ideas to get you started with becoming the cause of your happiness.

 1.    Laugh … laugh a lot

2.    Find time for fun

3.    Appreciate everything you are and aren't

4.    Enjoy time alone

5.    Focus on Improvement, not perfection

6.    Read awe inspiring stories

7.    Reach out and help others

8.    Be mindful and present in the moment

9.    Find what you are passionate about, do it as often as possible. Even if it's once a week

10.  Write or record what makes you happy. Refer to daily

11.  Exercise, even if that's taking a walk for 15-minutes

12.  Stand on your own, but learn when to be agreeable

13.  Build deep friendships with only a few people. Keep them close

14.  Give it your best, one small step at a time

15.  Don't sweat the little things, there's life, life changing, and life threatening … 99% is life.

16.  Learn that materialism does not equal success. Often people w/ the most expensive things have the highest debt

17.  Share your happiness with others

18.  Know that your past does not define your future

19.  Be grateful for what you have

20.  Everything in moderation

21.  Be YOU. Don't give shit what others think about YOU

22.  Listen to good music

23.  Simplify your life

24.  Money does not buy happiness. Some of the poorest nations in the world are also the happiest

25.  Overcome your Fear of Failure. Learn and experience new things (Click the Link for $10 Off)

26.  Open your mind, you don't have to agree, but you can learn the "why"

27.  Have meaningful conversations with strangers

28.  Maintain a healthy diet, but occasionally break it!

29.  Adopt / Rescue an animal

30.  Relax, become a little more flexible

31.  Find humor in your mistakes

32.  Be spontaneous once a day

33.  When life isn't going well, be the cause of change

34.  Keep faith

35.  Find your creativity 

36.  Be happy now. You are the only one in control of your happiness.

37.  Know that it's not what happens to you, it's how you perceive and react to it

38.  Enjoy the simple things in life

39.  Have goals with purpose and meaning for your life

40.  Stop watching doom and gloom news and TV

41.  Life is not perfect, accept that this is okay

42.  Don't forget to celebrate even the small wins

43.  SMILE

44.  Be supportive and seek support when needed

45.  Find a hobby that gets you in the flow

46.  Savor the moment

47.  Appreciate the beauty in art and the world around you

48.  Don't take yourself or others too seriously

49.  Surround yourself with happy people. Energy attracts like energy

50.  Sleep. Take a snap on Sunday


Become the Cause of Your Life. Become the Cause of Your Happiness. 

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Do you suffer from the Fear of Failure? If you’re reading this post, you’re in luck! For a limited time you can take $10 off my course: Transform Your Fear of Failure - Create the Energy You Need for Success. I have no doubt you’ll find great value in this course!

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Leadership: Connecting & Communicating Purpose

Many leaders hype their devotion to communicating purpose. On the same hand, many employees don’t believe their day to day activities connect to a purpose.

Employees not connecting their jobs to a purpose could be why statistics show that up to 70% of employees suffer from disengagement. Also, 79 percent of people who quit their jobs cite ‘lack of appreciation’ as their reason for leaving. Let me connect those two statistics through a short story.

When I was a new manager I made a simple, but a huge mistake. I’d ask my team to perform specific tasks but would explain the “why” or the purpose. Luckily, I had a leader, thank you Amar, that sat me down and taught me this vital lesson:

  1. When asking your employees to do something, a good leader spends 5 minutes to connect & communicate how those daily and weekly tasks relate to a higher purpose.

  2. They explain how an individual employee or team fits into the overall strategy.

  3. By connecting and communicating purpose, you can increase employee engagement and make your team feel more appreciated.

  4. Not only that, but this process also helps develop your employees for more significant roles. They start to see the bigger picture through the fine details.

 So, I have two question for you:

  • How can you spend 5 minutes TODAY to communicate how your team’s daily or weekly activities connect to a higher purpose?

  • I’m not talking about making a big speech. Think about it on a smaller scale: email, one-on-one, or during a meeting

  • How can you change your daily communication and actions to support your organizations declared purpose?

  • Remember, purpose doesn’t concern what you do. It involves “why you do what you do.”

Are you passionate about your career development?

Do you want to become a better person and leader? I know I do! I’ve recently created a Facebook Group, ShapeShift Lab, dedicated to career and leadership development. Everyone is welcome to join:



Why & How I Became an Executive Coach

Profile Pic.jpg

Don’t get me wrong, strategy consulting is exhilarating, and I’m damn good at it. For some reason, I am blessed with the ability to simplify complex problems and find real, executable solutions.

But, not too long ago I found myself wanting more and I couldn’t quite figure it out. I was successful and making money, but I wasn’t satisfied. I wasn’t as happy as I wanted to be. I wanted more. And, I found it.

Finding Happiness and Satisfaction

How did I find happiness and satisfaction? At first, deep self-reflection. I looked back at my life and career. I asked myself what I enjoyed most? My answer: Helping and developing people on an individual level. 

Well, what the hell do I do with that? How do I balance helping individuals with continuing to solve complex problems with strategy and executable solutions? Executive Coaching.

After extensive research, I went through the best Executive Coaching training program, iPEC. I spent months and countless hours completing their professional coaching certification program and becoming an Energy Leadership Index – Master Practitioner. I met and learned from the most amazing people. Now … I am an Executive Coach.

I couldn’t be happier! The energy I feel when coaching my clients is incredible. My head and my heart are connected. I’m in the zone! I love supporting my clients (testimonials)

Who I work with? 

As an Executive Coach, I support three different clients.

  1. Clients that are climbing the corporate mountain (ladder) but have realized they are on the wrong mountain and they are looking to make a career transition.

  2. Client’s that have full schedules and on-going responsibilities, but want to reduce stress, find greater satisfaction, happiness, and purpose in their current role.

  3. Corporate clients that are interested developing the leadership and team skills needed to succeed at all levels of the organization.

All of my client’s go through the Energy Leadership Index (ELI) assessment. The ELI is a mirror that reflects your world. It is a one-of-a-kind assessment that enables leaders to hold up mirrors to their perceptions, attitudes, behaviors, and overall leadership capabilities.

The ELI is an attitudinal assessment, which is based on an energy/action model. This assessment differs from personality assessments as it is not intended to label a person and have them work well within that label. Instead, it measures your level of energy based on your attitude, or perception and perspective of your world.

Utilizing the results from your ELI, you can alter your attitude and perspective, make a shift in your consciousness, and increase your energy and leadership effectiveness.

I was blown away by my ELI results. I have no doubt you will be too. You'll understand how to become your ideal image of who you need to be as a leader for your situation, division, team, or company. 

You Have The Ingredients. I'd Like To Help You Put Them All Together

As your coach, I’ll motivate, advise, and keep you focused on achieving your goals. Through the coaching process, we’ll remove the personal roadblocks stopping you from reaching your highest potential. We’ll develop strategies to reduce stress, increase engagement and satisfaction.

We work as a team, but you define the outcomes. We develop your definition of enlightened success. We work in partnership, but you set “New Rules” for your life. The goal is for you to acquire the knowledge, insight, and skills to handle all situations successfully. 

You are enlightened and empowered with the freedom of choice

Are you’re ready to break free from what’s holding you back and start your journey to a new life? Schedule a free strategy call with me today. We’ll discuss your situation and goals. You’re in charge, and there’s no pressure or obligation. 

**Mention this blog and receive a free 1-hr coaching session. I look forward to working with you.**




7 Tips to Reduce Stress at Work (6 Powerful and 1 Super Quirky)

Tips to Reduce Stress At Work

7 Tips to Reduce Stress at Work (6 Powerful and 1 Super Quirky

Your profession doesn’t matter. Everyone experiences stress at work. Reducing stress at work is one of the most discussed subjects with my clients. If we can reduce stress at work, we tend to lead happier and healthier lives. Below I’ve listed out 7 ways to reduce stress at work. There are many more, but starting with these will put you in a better place. 

1.    Plan your day, the day before

Many people walk into the office, open their calendar, and then plan their day. This means they spent a ton of time worrying Leave your planning at the “office,” don’t take it home. Take 5-10 minutes at the end of each day to review progress and plan for the next day. Once you’ve planned for tomorrow, clear that stress out of your head. You can go home knowing you are prepared for maximum productivity tomorrow.

2.    Everything has a solution

You are a problem solver. There is a solution. Take a deep breath and relax. The longer you hold onto your negative reaction to a stressful situation, the more it weighs on your mind, the worse it gets. The stress reaction you are experiencing is acting as a filter and limiting what you see as potential solutions. Remove the stress reaction, remove the filter, and shift your mindset problem spotting to solution focused.

Consider purchasing a Problem/Solution rock (pictured below). As a problem arises, take the time to reflect on the challenge. Close your eyes. Hold the stone in your hand as you rub the problem side. Take a few deep breaths and relax. Let go of the stress as you flip the stone to the solution side. Feel the texture of the engraved letters spelling out “solution.” Allow ideas to flow into your mind. You have the solution.

reduce stress with problem soultion rock.jpg

3.    Build Supportive Relationships

Having supportive and happy relationships is one of the most important ways to reduce stress. Avoid relationships that revolve around negativity. Subjecting yourself to constant drama, office politics, complaining, and general negativity only brings you down.

Develop strong relationships at work and at home. Having healthy, supportive, and positive relationships provide something to look forward to before, during, and after work. By surrounding yourself with positive people drains away your negative energy.

4.    Get up and take a walk

If you can feel the stress building, get up from your desk and take a walk. Spend 5-10 minutes away from your desk and the stressing situation. Breath in and out slowly as you are walking. Try to clear your mind or think about something pleasant. If you can get outside, take in some fresh air. No matter where you decide to walk, take a break from the negative emotions building up.

5.    Build a stress-busting playlist

Numerous studies show the impact music can have on our mood. If you want energy, you can listen to music that pumps you up. If you need to relax, you can listen to music that’s slower and chills you out. Music is extremely useful for reducing stress, as it connects to our emotions. Try making a calming playlist specific to reducing your stress.

6.    Learn to have “prioritization or timing” conversations with your boss (or client)

There’s only a certain amount of time in one day, week, month, or year. There’s a finite amount of work one person can complete without going insane. Keep a list of the activities, tasks, or work that you have on your plate. When your boss assigns another “priority,” revisit your list. If your list is too much for a certain period, you need to have a prioritization or timing conversation. Always bring several solutions to your boss, not just problems.

First, start with the pleasantries such as, “Hi. How’s your day going?” … All that fun stuff. Then, jump into the conversation –

Your beginning to the timing conversation (please put in your own words):

You: Boss, here’s my list of tasks to complete this week. According to the timing, I’m supposed to complete these ten tasks. This morning you asked me to finish this additional task by the end of the week. For me to complete this new task, I’ll need to adjust the timing of the other ten items. My suggestion is that we can move the schedule of X to next Wednesday and Y to Monday. What are your thoughts?  

Your beginning to the prioritization conversation:

You: Boss, here’s my list of priorities for this week. According to our agreed upon prioritization, I’m supposed to complete these ten items. This morning you asked me to prioritize this additional task. For me to prioritize this new item, I’ll need to adjust the prioritization of one of the other ten items. My suggestion is that we can move X down to the end of our prioritization. Moving X down means I may not complete it until next week. What are your thoughts?

 Your boss may say no, but this is an excellent way to start “managing up” in an organization. You can even have this type of conversation as a manager for your team. Remember, nothing is a priority if everything is a priority.

Reduce Stress through screaming

7.    Find a private place to yell, scream, and get it all out

Maybe you’ll think I’m weird because of this one, but guess what … it works. Screaming to release stress feels damn good too. I’ve done it many times but never knew there was an official name for it until writing this article. It’s called, “primal scream therapy.” Who knew! It’s a legitimate form of psychotherapy used to treat anxiety, trauma, and even stress. Don’t lie; you know you want to try it now! Ok, so now that’s established, let’s get to the fun stuff.  

Occasionally when I was stressed out, I’d find a private place. Then, I’d scream as loud as I could. When I was screaming, I’d release all the built-up stress. My heart would start pumping, no ... it would begin racing. Not only was I releasing the stress, but also creating blood flow and energy! Once I stopped screaming, I’d start taking slow and deep breaths. I’d bring my focus back to the challenge ahead of me. Now I had all the energy needed to find and execute the solution.

What are your fun, quirky, or interesting ways to relive to relieve stress? Oh, and if any of you have “primal screaming” stories, please do share in the comments!

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Course: Transform Your Fear of Failure

Create the Energy You Need for Success

Do you suffer from the Fear of Failure? If you’re reading this post, you’re in luck! For a limited time you can take $10 off my course: Transform Your Fear of Failure - Create the Energy You Need for Success. I have no doubt you’ll find great value in this course!


Coupon Code: FOFBLOG2019



10 tips to feel happier at work

increasing happiness and fulfillment at work

10 tips to feel happier at work

As an Executive Coach, I work with business professionals climbing the corporate mountain but have realized they are on the wrong mountain. I work with them to reduce stress and increase fulfillment, happiness, and well-being.

I’m often asked: “How can I be happier at work?” This question is not surprising. In a workplace happiness survey it was found that over 50% of the US workforce is currently unhappy at work. That’s ~65 Million people if you only consider the full-time workforce. The answer is specific to the individual I’m coaching. However, I’ll do my best to provide tips that anyone can use to increase happiness at work.

1) Identify what kind of work you are doing

A study by Amy Wrzesniewski, Yale School of Management, revealed that we can divide work into three categories: A Job, a Career, or a Calling. So, if you are pursuing happiness at work, the first thing you need to do is identify and categorize what kind of work you are doing.

Job: Your primary motivation is money. The work is a means to an end, getting paid. It helps you to pay for household bills, debts, and hopefully entertainment or activities.

Career: You appreciate or enjoy your work. Your primary motivation is advancement. Your goal is to gain promotions and climb the ladder (mountain). Each “role” is an opportunity to prove yourself and earn a promotion to the next role.

Calling: Your work is in direct alignment with your values. You are contributing to society or a worldly cause beyond yourself.

Once you’ve identified the type of work you are doing, you can reframe how you view the everyday grind.

Job: If you’re in a job, you could view it as “temporary.” It’s a way to make money while you work on other things. Once you pay off those debts, you’ll move onto something you love.

Career: If you’re in a career, but don’t like the work assignments in your current role, you can reframe it as a learning experience. You may dislike the work, but the skills you are gaining will lead to your next promotion. 

Calling: If you’ve found your calling, you’re in alignment with your values. Lucky you and high five! But, maybe your some happiness is negatively impacted because you aren’t making enough money. Reframe how you view it, you’re one of the luckiest people on the planet! Consider finding an enjoyable part-time job or side project to supplement your income.

Now that you’ve picked a category and reframed how you view your work, let’s move onto a few other tips.

2) Develop meaningful friendships

The fact that friendships can lead to happiness is a simple concept, but backed up by research. If you have a few good relationships at work, you look forward to going to work. If you have friends outside of work, you can look forward to social activities at the end of your day.

Officevibe conducted a study on work friendships. In this study, they found that 70% of employees said having friendships at work is the most crucial element to a happy work life. A Harvard Medical School study found that “having a friend who’s happy improves your likelihood of being happy by 15%.”

Get off your coach or from behind your desk and build those friendships.

3) Practice gratitude for YOUR work

There are numerous research studies correlating gratitude with increased optimism and an overall feeling of satisfaction. In one study, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami found that after ten weeks, participants who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives than other groups in the study.

When you start feeling down or unhappy, take 10-15 minutes to write down why you are grateful for your work.

4) Practice gratitude by praising others

Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, a positive psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, tested the impact of several positive psychology interventions on 411 people. The group that wrote and personally delivered a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been adequately thanked exhibited a drastic increase in happiness scores. The impact was more significant than any other intervention and lasted a month.

Compliments amplify positivity. They not only deliver positive effects to others, but also the person providing the praise. Find opportunities to personally appreciate and praise others at work. Please, don’t just send an email!

5) Find your happiness at home, more specifically your sex life

Has anyone every told you to separate our personal and professional life? Ha! They are interrelated; one impacts the other. If you’re happy at home, there’s an increased likelihood you are happy at work.

Keith Leavitt, a professor at Oregon State University, found that “those who prioritized sex at home unknowingly gave themselves a next-day advantage at work, where they were more likely to immerse themselves in their tasks and enjoy their work lives.” Who doesn’t want that advantage at work? The study also showed that bringing work-related stress home “negatively impinges on employees’ sex lives.” Nope. Don’t do it.

 I’ll leave the summary tip to you. Just know that happiness at work can start at home.

6) Stop believing that the only way to be happy at work is to “find something you’re passionate about and go do that!”

We are humans. Our passions are hard to prioritize. They also change over time. Your passions might not be your strengths or what the market demands. There are indicators, other than passion, that have a higher positive correlation to happiness: work-life balance, autonomy, and income.

Consider finding work that allows you to pursue an outside passion. If your passion is nature photography, you could work as a freelance graphic designer during the day, and pursue your passion on the weekends or vacations. 

7) Make your workspace a mood-boosting sanctuary

What boosts your mood? Inspirational quotes? Pictures of your family? How about plants or flowers? Think about what you can add to your workspace that will inspire you. Find items that make you smile.

It’s your workspace. Take a step back and find that creative designer deep inside you soul. Now, try making it your happy space. 

8) Connect your work to a higher purpose also called “Job Crafting.”

Author David Zax describes job crafting as carefully crafting how you think about your work. Amy Wrzesniewski (again) studied janitors at hospitals. She wanted to see “what strategies they might employ to find satisfaction in their admittedly low-skilled, low-paid jobs.” The results were fascinating. Some of the staff:

Felt their labor was highly skilled, they described the work in “rich relational terms,” says Wrzesniewski, talking about their interactions with patients and visitors. Many of them reported going out of their way to learn as much as possible about the patients whose rooms they cleaned, down to which cleaning chemicals were likely to irritate them less. “It was not just that they were taking the same job and feeling better about it, pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and whistling. It was that they were doing a different job.”

This second, happier group didn’t see themselves as custodial workers at all. One described forming such a bond with patients that she continued to write letters to some of them after they were discharged. Another paid attention to which patients seemed to have few visitors or none at all, and would make sure to double back to spend some time with them... What these workers were doing, Wrzesniewski came to realize, was quietly creating the work that they wanted to do out of the work that they had been assigned -- work they found meaningful and worthwhile. Wrzesniewski and her colleagues call this practice “job crafting,” and they think it could be the key to happiness in all sorts of jobs.

A-Mazing! You can craft how you feel about your job. Even if it’s only certain parts of your work, you can connect those parts, or the whole, to a higher purpose that increases your happiness, fulfillment, and satisfaction.

9) Find another line of work

You can only do so much by putting lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig. If you are thoroughly drained and unhappy, it might be time to make a move. Remember, the best time to find a job is when you have a job. I’d recommend putting in the effort to find happiness in your current work. However, don’t settle for life-long unhappiness.

Find a job that aligns to your values and provides the income you desire. As an Executive Coach that works in the space all the time, believe me when I say this, find work that makes you as happy as possible. Who doesn’t want to go to work happy?! If you’re having trouble, consider creating your dream job through entrepreneurship. Take the time to understand what you value the most. Develop a plan of action. Then go get what you desire. Finding work that brings you happiness for the rest of your life is worth the time it might take. Who wouldn’t exchange 30+ years of pure happiness for 3 months to 1 year of minimal discomfort?

Be the cause of your happiness

10) Become the cause of your happiness

You are either at the effect of something else or the cause of your life. If you are unhappy at work, your happiness is at the “effect of your work.” Become the cause of your happiness, instead of surrendering your life to the effect of your circumstances. I’ve provided tips above that can help. However, you have absolute control over YOU. Work on “the who,” your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Work on “the what,” your plans, actions, steps, strategy, and tactics. Only you control how you react to, feel about, or view your job. Only you control the actions you can take to increase happiness.

Stop waiting for someone or something else to bring you happiness. Go forth my friend. Connect your head and heart. Take control of your life. If you need help, consider hiring a coach to guide you along the way.

Take care and be happy!

- Stewart Swayze

Transform Your Fear of Failure

Course: Transform Your Fear of Failure

Create the Energy You Need for Success

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Being Intentional With Personal Development (Video)

Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward.” – Vernon Law. Right now, ask yourself, what can I do today that will make me a better person tomorrow? Learn more

Personal growth doesn’t happen automatically. You have to be intentional with your actions. You and only YOU must make it happen and learn how to grow. Stop waiting for the perfect time. Stop waiting for something or someone else to motivate you.

Be prepared, but do not fear, for anything worthwhile requires a price, trade-off, or some sort of sacrifice. Let’s be honest, if you’re not willing to “give in order to get” then you won’t succeed. Use your passion to generate the energy needed to conquer your fears. 

Keep faith that as you move forward both success and failures will help you evolve into a better person, leader, or entrepreneur. 

Be bold. Set your intentions and go! Move forward. Take action today. Growth is not easy. It’s time to stop worrying about making a mistake. We ALL make mistakes.

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The Benefits of Walking At Work (Video)

 I challenge you to start taking short walking breaks at work. Research shows that you’ll improve your productivity, concentration, and creativity.

Learn more

• Take your next coffee break outdoors and in motion for 10 minutes
• Hold non-confidential one-on-one meetings, updates, check-ins while walking around the block or building
• Walk for 5 minutes around your floor or up/down the stairs every hour
• Spend a few minutes on your lunch break taking a walk outside to clear your mind

Stanford University: “Walking opens up the free flow of ideas, and it is a simple and robust solution to the goals of increasing creativity and increasing physical activity,” the researchers noted. They found that compared to sitting, walking increased the participants’ creative output during cognitive exercises by about 60 percent.

Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science: People who walked three times a week during lunch felt a lot better after walking for just half an hour:
• They were less tense
• They were more enthusiastic
• And they were more relaxed, too

Researchers from the University of Colorado: Frequent, brief walking breaks were more effective at improving well-being than a single, longer walk before work. Results suggest that “even a little bit of activity, spread throughout the day, is a practical, easy way to improve well-being.”

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How Does the “Illusion of Control” Impact Your Leadership or Business? 

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One of the earliest and most exciting lessons that we learn in life is that specific actions produce specific results. If we scream or cry, someone quickly appears to help us. As we progress through life, we continue to learn. We talk, walk, write, sing, hit a home run, make an A on a test, drive a car, change a tire, and on and on. Our efforts produce results. We are in control, and it’s a great feeling.

But is being in control always great? Is it even possible? 
Well-meaning teachers and parents reinforce the notion that we always can and should be in control. 

  • “Next time, try harder.” 
  • “Figure out what you did wrong, so you do it better next time.” 
  • “Remember, how well you do is up to you.” 

While all of this is good advice for some situations, many times, it just isn’t right. Even worse, it can lead to frustration and failure to adequately prepare for setbacks.

Psychologists refer to the Illusion of Control as a specific type of cognitive bias. This bias makes individuals or even entire groups -companies or legislative bodies- believe that they can control outcomes which, realistically, they cannot.

We may be in control of specific individualized outcomes like whether we lose five pounds or learn to play a particular song on the piano. However, it is not possible to control more complex interactions, nor is it always in our best interest to try and do so.

On a personal level, we may recognize that we can control our actions and feelings but not those of others. But, how does the Illusion of Control bias impact our decisions and actions as successful entrepreneurs and business leaders? 

The Illusion of Control and Our Employees
While controlling others may seem to be a sign of strength, true leadership means bringing out the best in our employees. The notion that we must control our employees can lead to inefficiencies such as micro-management or not empowering employees. Or, even worse, we may hire less competent employees that we feel we can control more easily. Instead of focusing on control, successful leaders ask:

  • How can I empower my employees?
  • Do my employees have the tools that they need to do the job?
  • How can I encourage my employees to achieve the best results?
  • What traits can I hire to help my business grow?

The Illusion of Control and Our Customers
Customers make or break any business. You can control many factors that may influence customer behavior, such as developing what you believe is a great product and conducting a well-designed marketing campaign. Ultimately though, you can’t force anyone to buy from you. If customers aren’t flocking to your door, do you try harder to control their behavior, with more product features and more advertising? Maybe. But first, try finding answers to these questions:

  • What do customers really want?
  • What are my potential customers buying as an alternative?
  • Are there other potential customers that I have not considered?

The Illusion of Control and our Competitors
While you are busy running your business, the fact is that many other aspiring leaders are out there running theirs as well. You may be executing your strategy with military-like precision, but military strategy tells us, “the enemy gets a vote.” In other words, what your competitors do impacts the effectiveness of your strategy. Suffering from Illusion of Control bias can leave you vulnerable, believing that you do not need to have contingency plans. However, one of the characteristics of a leader must be flexibility.

  • What will you do if a more significant competitor opens near you?
  • What if the competition slashes prices?
  • Can you develop other products, customer bases, or revenue streams so that you are not so vulnerable?

The Illusion of Control and External Circumstances
Maybe you have developed great relationships with employees and customers. Your team has created a good product, and the company is profitable. Is this the point where you finally get to feel that you are in control? As an Executive Coach, I would recommend that you keep in mind that anything may change. 

Are you prepared for the loss of a key employee? What about damaging PR that affects customer relationships? Or, what about external factors such as a severe economic downturn or a natural disaster? Maybe even a disruptive product appearing on the market and almost overnight everything your company produces becomes obsolete? 

Find Opportunity In Chaos
These are all factors that you cannot control. If you suffer from Illusion of Control bias, you won’t even consider these kinds of events. However, developing your leadership skills and growing your business also means planning for worst-case scenarios such as these. In fact, it may even mean seeking ways to benefit from adverse situations. You might have to learn to be a surfer. Don’t fight or control the waves, but ride them instead.

- Loss of a key employee? Prepare by investing in the training and development of all employees. Allow others the opportunity to stretch their wings and make new contributions to your company.

- Damaging PR? This is an opportunity to show customers that you'll do what it takes to make things right.

- Economic downturn? Offer affordable alternatives to the competition.

- Natural disaster? Reach out to the community. This may not be a time for selling, but it is an excellent time for relationship and community building. And, if your physical location wiped out, maybe this is a great time to focus on your online brand.

- Disruptive technology from the competition? How can you adopt it too?

Instead of believing they are always in control, successful business leaders believe in embracing market changes and profiting from it too. They see opportunity when others see chaos. 

Recognizing how little you cn control is the first step to empowering yourself to deal creatively with the many things that are beyond your control.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to share with others. As always, let me know if you have any questions or comments. 





Don't be a victim of the "Curse of Knowledge."

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What is the Curse of Knowledge bias?

Many successful entrepreneurs and executives get their start as experts in their field. For example, tech giants Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were experts. And, what about local business people that you know? Your doctor, beautician, and auto-mechanic all may be experts in their field and may also be the owners of their practice or shop. They are probably very knowledgeable and have much to offer clients and customers.

With so much expertise, what could go wrong?

The aspiring entrepreneur or executive, who is also a subject matter expert in their field, may suffer from what psychologists call “curse of knowledge” bias. So, what does this mean and how does it impact our success?

Successful entrepreneurs and executives need to communicate effectively. Think about it. Business success depends on relationships and relationships depend on clear communication. This is where the “curse of knowledge” bias gets in the way. The expert tends to communicate with others as though they are experts too. They have difficulty breaking down complex concepts that they have long understood and struggle even to find words to use other than the specific jargon of their field.

How does the Curse of Knowledge Bias impact a business?

Let’s look at a few hypothetical examples.

Example 1:

After a successful performing career, professional ballerina Nikita decides to open a dance school. She meets with a website designer. Nikita insists that the website feature the fact that she is trained in the Vaganova method and that all classes begin with a traditional barre and progress to the adagio. The website is built and Nikita loves it! It gets decent traffic, but very few parents actually enroll their children in Nikita’s classes. Why? They have no clue what the Vaganova method is. They just know that their children want to have fun and be princess ballerinas. So, they signed up at the other local studio, the one with the website featuring pictures of smiling children in tutus. Nikita’s website doesn’t really speak to them. Curse of Knowledge bias = Marketing Fail!

Example 2:

Joe went for some medical tests and was more than a little nervous about the results. The doctor ever so patiently explained about selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and neuro-transmitters, but Joe didn’t really understand what those words meant. He ended up feeling more anxious than ever. Confused and upset, he decides to see another doctor. Curse of Knowledge bias = Client Relationship Fail!

Example 3:

Lonnie’s family has been in the nursery and greenhouse business for three generations, supplying plants and trees to landscapers and homeowners. Lonnie grew up in the business and knows everything there is to know about plants. It’s almost fall, and Lonnie is very busy. He hops in his pickup truck and before taking off, asks a couple of students that he recently hired to move all of the deciduous trees to the back of the lot of potted trees for sale. They are left staring at each other, wondering which trees, exactly, they are supposed to move. They find oaks and maples, as well as cedars and pines, but nothing called deciduous. As you may or may not know, Lonnie simply wanted them to move the trees that would soon lose their leaves, but his employees did not understand the instructions. Curse of Knowledge bias = Employee Management Fail!

5 Tips to Overcome the Curse of Knowledge Bias

There is nothing wrong with being an expert. In fact, it is usually a tremendous advantage. If you are an expert though, be wary of the Curse of Knowledge bias. You can use these five tips to overcome it in all your communication:

  1. Know your audience - Like a good speaker or stand-up comic, know your audience. What is their background? Nikita’s potential customers aren’t ballet aficionados, they are suburban moms. The patient, Joe, is an engineer, not a doctor. And the students who work for Lonnie? They are willing to work hard, but one is studying music and the other is learning software development. They are not botanists.
  2. Check your vocabulary - Are you using words that your customers, employees or others may not understand? Joe didn’t get “neurotransmitter.” If the doctor had explained that it is a substance that sends an impulse from one nerve to another, Joe, being a reasonably intelligent person could have understood better.
  3. Know your customers - This is at the heart of effective marketing and customer relationships. Just because you think something is great doesn’t mean that your customers do. In the case of Joe, some reassurance from the doctor that he would feel better soon would have gone a lot further than a science lecture.
  4. Educate your customers, but do it gradually - Start with what they want, then show them how it can be even better. If Nikita had managed to gain those suburban moms and their adorable children as her customers, she could gradually introduce them to the wonders of classical ballet and what it takes to truly become a star.
  5. Consider the “why” - Sometimes that is the most effective way to communicate. All Lonnie needed to tell his employees was, “Move the maples and the oaks to the back. They’ll be losing their leaves soon and we don’t want leaves everywhere.”

Let me know if you have any questions or comments. I always enjoy hearing from you.


Stewart Swayze 




Be Careful How You Interpret Actions, Events, Text, etc. (Video)

As a leader, be careful how you interpret actions, words, text, etc. Your first interpretation could be wrong.

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Decision Making - 5 Best Practices to Overcome Confirmation Bias

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So, you started your own business. Making that choice indicates that you probably have many great entrepreneurial characteristics. You are confident, smart, willing to work hard, and don’t mind making decisions.

Growing from solo entrepreneur to a successful business owner, you will be faced with more and more decisions: hiring, location, finance, business planning, products to develop, marketing, and more. Even if you wear many hats, good decision making is possibly your most important task. Ultimately, though you may seek advice, it is the one task that you must do yourself.
How can you hone this critical entrepreneurial ability?
It may come as a surprise, but your confidence, smarts and willingness to work hard can get in the way. Having a sense that you are right about a lot of things can contribute to what psychologists call confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is the tendency to seek or perceive information in a way that reinforces what we already believe, even though we think we are seeking the truth. And, for the aspiring entrepreneur, that terrific willingness to work hard may make it worse, since we believe it is possible to push through problems rather than consider them seriously.
How does Confirmation Bias impact our decisions?
On a simple level, most of us realize that certain biased hiring practices are wrong and that it is a good idea to bounce ideas off a spouse, partner or trusted friend. But avoiding confirmation bias goes much deeper. It involves developing specific standards for how we seek information, how we interact with others and even how we think. That sounds like a big ask, so first, let’s explore why it is so important.

Hypothetically, Zach thinks he has an excellent idea for a product. All his friends think so too. Zach does a lot of homework. He knows what it will cost to make this product and where he can have it made. Zach knows some people at a great marketing agency, and they even have some preliminary designs. Zach does some random surveys at several local coffee houses that he frequents, asking people if they would buy this product. The results are overwhelmingly enthusiastic. He checked all the boxes and is ready to take out a line of credit on his house.
Good for Zach, right? Wait.
When was the last time you drank a Crystal Pepsi or checked your Instagram from your HP Touchpad? Not recently, probably never. Both colossal business failures came from companies with much more money and recognition than the average entrepreneur. If they can fail, anyone can. The flaw in our hypothetical friend Zach’s approach, and in the approach of many large businesses, is that merely because it's ours, we think it's an excellent idea. Even under the guise of researching, we are just seeking confirmation. Zach’s research would have served him better if he had also asked what people thought was wrong with the product. And, chances are, people at the places he frequents already think like him. Seems that maybe he wasn’t seeking data, after all, just confirmation.
Confirmation bias can, unfortunately, lead to fundamentally flawed decision making.
Let’s look at how confirmation bias affects our staffing. Yes, not being swayed by gender, ethnicity or religion is the fair, legal and ethical approach to hiring, but it also can strengthen the business. Hiring only those who are already likely to think like you, coupled with the fact that you are the boss, makes it unlikely that you will benefit from having your ideas questioned. It may be good to have employees who encourage you to put on the brakes when you're heading towards a cliff. Great entrepreneurial leadership isn’t about always being right, but instead, seeking the best answers.
How do we recognize confirmation bias?
You must recognize that we all have biases. We are wired that way for our protection. On a simple level, our biases mean that we don’t eat things that smell bad, try to shake hands with a bear, or give our credit card numbers to scammers. On a more complex level though, biases prevent us from seeing all nuances of a situation.

Our efficient, basic survival brain seeks confirmation. Our complex, business survival brain needs to develop the entrepreneurial skills to see all angles. The online entrepreneur navigating the global marketplace and the brick-and-mortar venture navigating the neighborhood both have much to consider.
How do we overcome confirmation bias?
Can we grow past this fundamental, built-in tendency? Here are five practices you can start now to improve yourself and your business.
1 – Sleep on It. It may seem strong and smart to shoot from the hip and make an immediate decision. But, it’s almost a sure-fire way to depend mostly on your own biases. The world won’t wait forever, but it usually will wait at least overnight.
2 – Play or Find a Devil’s Advocate. Instead of seeking evidence that you are right, look for all the reasons why you may be wrong. Even better, encourage your employees to do this. Find a coach or advisor. Be okay with disagreement and keep the channels of communication open.
3 – Use the Rule of Threes. Instead of trying to prove that one idea is great, why not try to find out which is the best of three ideas? Or the best of three perfect candidates, or the best of three ideal locations?
4 – Integration of Ideas. Once you listen to opposing ideas, maybe you realize that your first take was wrong. But none of the proposed alternatives seem right either. Sometimes the best solution is an integration of ideas.
5 – Realize It Isn’t About You. You want to succeed, don’t you? Love your business more than your ego. Ultimately, whether an idea you have is right or wrong is neither endorsement nor indictment of you as a person. But a successful business is a lasting legacy, a reflection of your leadership and wisdom. 

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

- Stewart 

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Organizational Skills Can Significantly Impact Your Success! (Video)

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I remember the first year I filed my self-employment taxes. I was sweating, frustrated, and a bit scared. Not because I didn’t know how to file taxes. Not because how much I had to pay. Nope. None of that bothered me.

There was another more significant problem. It was my total lack of organization. I couldn’t find anything. I had receipts in my desk drawers,in my “receipts” case, laptop bag, filing cabinets, and even found a few in my luggage. Yep, buried deep down in my luggage.

Think about it this way, my unorganized mess caused unneeded stress, inefficiency, anxiety, and time. We all know time is money! Lesson learned.

The second time, damn I was organized. I had everything in the correct place. I had bookkeeping and accounting software ... with the click of a button, financial reports printed off in perfect format. Opened up one drawer, receipts in hand. Zip, zoom, bang, and done and off to the accountant.

If you want to be successful you must work on your organizational skills. This type of organization includes offline and online, paperwork in filing cabinets, or cloud-based folders.

Organization increases efficiency. You reduce the time spent on mundane tasks and free up time to work on growing your business.

Thanks for watching and see you next time. As always, if you have any success tips, feel free to connect, comment, and share!

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You'll find discomfort on your path to success. That's good. Here's Why! (Video)

You’ll find discomfort on your path to success. That’s good! Here’s Why.

If you’re on the path to success, you’ll encounter new opportunities to grow. These new opportunities require change and learning something new.

Most people experience discomfort during change. That’s a good sign! Lean into that discomfort. It’s telling you that you are growing, learning, and moving down the path to success.

Don’t fight the discomfort, embrace it. Learn from the change, give yourself permission to succeed or fail. Then look back at that change, look back at the success or failure. Gather insights and learn.

Apply those insights to grow faster, stronger, and start taking massive action.

Soon, instead of dreading the discomfort, you’ll welcome it. Your mind, body, and soul will long for the discomfort of growth.

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How Do You Reach The Highest Level Of Success? (Video)

Now, this video poses a question more than it provides answers or advice. But, this could be the most important question YOU’LL answer in your life!

It doesn’t matter what field you’re in or what job you do … if you want reach the highest level of success, it’s rather simple… You have to be the best at what you do.

I’m sure you’re thinking, whan whan. Thanks for the tip Captain obvious! … keep watching.

We can actually quantify what the “best” means. Think about it this way … the most popular musicians, the most influential experts, the greatest scientists, the most successful entrepreneurs … all of them … they are in, at least, the top 10% of their respective fields.

So, if you want to reach the highest level of success, you must be determined …committed … and competent enough to reach the top 10%.

So here’s the question: What one skill will YOU commit to developing that would have the greatest impact on YOUR Success? Think about that for a while. Then, make a plan. Commit time each and every day to develop that skill. Go get that top 10%. It may take time, but constantly commit yourself to achieving excellence. 

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A Lesson on Tolerance & Working Together from Napoleon Hill

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A Lesson on Tolerance & Working Together from Napoleon Hill

I enjoy reading non-fiction and especially classics. Should we be surprised that an impactful lesson from around 1925 - 1928 is still relevant and highly applicable in today's society? No. The book, "The Law of Success" written by Napoleon Hill is full of tried-and-true lessons, and I'm only on page 79! 

While reading last night I came across a particular story that stood out to me. The lesson from this story should be adapted and taught at every level of school or university ... written on the walls of every corporation and echoed through the halls of our government establishments. It should be weaved throughout the speeches of all leaders within our communities. I'm not making a political statement. I'm not pointing the finger at the right or left, at the corporations, Hollywood, or anything/anyone else. In fact, it is an observation and lesson that can be seen and learned across all of these institutions and their respective constituents. We need to look in the mirror. We need to reflect on how we can change as an individual first. Then, how to help support others to improve and spread tolerance across our communities. Right now in the US, the world, our communities, and within corporations, we are suffering from two major problems:

1) Intolerance - an unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behavior that differ from one's own 

2) A Lack of Willingness to Work Together - Not setting aside our differences due to intolerance, the lust for undisputed power, success, or any other illogical reason to come together for the good of all

Note: According to Mr. Hill, we can define Power as "organized energy and effort." Success is the "development of the power with which to get whatever one wants in life without interfering with the rights of others." 

So by now, you might be wondering about the story that inspired this message. It's a simple story of a father that had seven children that were always quarreling. The father wanted to demonstrate the impact of their lack of co-operative effort and intolerance. So, this father prepared a bundle of seven sticks and carefully tied them together. One by one he asked each child to attempt to take the bundle and break it. Each child was unsuccessful. The strength and power of the bundle was no match for the individual. Then, the father cut the strings and handed one of the sticks to each of his children. Again, he asked each child to try and break their stick. All sticks were broken. 

At this point, the father said, "When you boys work together in a spirit of harmony you resemble the bundle of sticks, and no one can defeat you, but when you quarrel among yourselves anyone can defeat you one at a time." 

To gain power and to reach a successful end (as defined in the note above) we must work together in harmony and be tolerant of others. 

It doesn't matter who you are, where you work, your political affiliation, or anything like that. Intolerance and the lack of a willingness to work together is hurting our communities and corporations. We are all different. We may have different beliefs. But, we are all seeking the same goal: To leave this world as a better place for generations to come. 

Some of you have already made snap judgements about this article. You might be thinking, "Hey, it's not my fault, it's their fault!" All I'm asking is for you to stop for a moment. Take a deep breath. This time, instead of immediately pointing fingers, take some time to start reflecting. Accept some of the responsibility. Conduct an internal inventory. Change yourself first. Learn to listen. Learn to be tolerant. Learn to work together with people you don't agree with. Lead the change. You set the example and spread the word. Show up each and every moment ready and willing to listen, to show tolerance, to be humble, and to work together. It may be a complicated and tough road ahead ... I know this. But, believe me, if we all work together, just like the bundle of sticks, there is a win / win solution. Success is inevitable when working together in harmony without interfering with the rights of others. 




We have the most innovative tech, why does the project IRR suck?

We have the most innovative tech, why does the project IRR suck?

If you don’t change behavior, it won’t matter how innovative your technology is …

 We all love technology. We are bombarded with amazing technology. It simplifies our life. Drives efficiency. Speeds up process and automates mundane tasks. Technology makes us happy, connected, and collaborative. But, only if we change our behavior and commit to proper use. 

I just finished a project with a Fortune 100 client. I was extremely excited to consult on finding innovative technology to help reduce costs in a major expense category.  Who wouldn’t want to research exciting technology and interview experts to help drive innovation?!

I enjoyed all the expert interviews and research. Together we found some cool new startups, products, and platforms. This new technology will help this client now and into the future. But, the most important take-away all of us … behavior. Some people may think … well duh … yet changing behavior is taken for granted all the time. The thought process is, "supply the technology and teach them how to use it. Everything else will work out."  Yet, we continue to be disappointed Once we finally calculate those IRR or ROI numbers

We get so wrapped up with innovative technology. We fail to realize the importance of changing behavior. Luckily on this project, changing behavior was a major theme from the beginning. Still, this project made me realize behavior is a perfect topic to discuss.

It doesn’t matter how innovative you are … how much technology you purchase, use, or implement … if you don’t change behavior, it won’t work

You’re return on investment won’t come to fruition. Your time management won’t get better. You won’t work out more. You won't increase your work/life balance, reduce costs, or exceed any other goal.  The “user” of the innovative technology must choose to take advantage of and properly use the technology. We always have a choice. Should I continue to do it the old way or the new / innovative way? If I change, I’ll have to learn something new. That takes time. I’m going to make mistakes and get frustrated.

Innovative technology is only the opportunity or medium that allows a change in behavior

If you think about it, the innovative technology is only an “opportunity” to change. Or, it’s the medium for the ability to change. It’s not “the change.” For innovation to happen, the user has to choose and commit to the technology. So if you are designing innovative technology, why not provide your customers with the steps to drive the change needed to modify behavior as well? If you are the purchaser of the innovative technology, understand that the technology won’t change you. You have to commit to the technology and mindfully change your own behavior to capture the full benefits.

 Innovative Technology Provider – Even if you haven’t sold 1 of your products, develop a change management strategy for your future customers. Understand the outcome they are seeking. Work backwards to determine the exact steps it takes to deliver that outcome. Build a generic change management process that you can provide to your customer as a starting point. As you take on more clients, work with your previous clients to design change management best practices to alter the behavior of the end users. This process will help you create more value and stickiness to your customers. It will help them reach and exceed their IRR/ROI hurdles.

 Innovative Technology Purchaser – When you’re evaluating new technology, ensure that you are developing a change management plan. If the supplier doesn’t have any best practices readily available, ask them to build some prior to purchasing. If that’s not possible, think through the end-user process. Develop a training and change management strategy. Don’t just teach your employees how to use the technology, put a lot of focus on how it will help them. Provide real life or day-to-day examples on the improvement this new technology will bring.

End-User – Be open to innovative technology, but ask/look for examples on how this innovation will help. If you don’t receive that information, volunteer to be the expert for your function, business group, etc. Dive into the new technology; learn it from the inside out. Commit to changing YOUR behavior via the technology. Provide open, honest, and constructive feedback after you’ve given it a good try! The old way might have worked just fine, but maybe the new way will open up even better opportunities to increase efficiency or spend more time with you family. You’ll never know until you commit and give it a shot.

 This also applies to your personal life

Think about it this way … personal fitness trackers have exploded on the market. Look around you; tons of people are wearing their favorite brand. Whether it’s a FitBit or Garmin Vivoactive (my personal tracker). But, are they wearing one to be apart of the crowd or are they truly changing their behavior? Do they check their steps each day to talk about it with friends or are they using the included software to track, analyze, and change? The majority of people are casually wearing this technology to not feel left out. However, can you imagine the impact to overall health if everyone was tracking, analyzing, and committing to changing their behavior? The technology is there to make a huge impact on health … what’s lacking is full commitment to change behavior.

 Apply this same thought process to the new technology you are providing to the market or purchasing for your company

 Unless you have a robust change management and communications process, the majority of your customers (end-users) or employees will either not use it or not fully commit. Only a select few will change their behavior enough to reap the benefits of innovation.



Answer to: Why are some CEOs so disconnected from reality?

Why are some CEOs so disconnected from reality?

A friend of mine recently asked me: Why are some CEOs so disconnected from “reality?” In this context, reality is defined as field level information. My immediate thought was to explain that CEOs shouldn’t be disconnected. A good CEO would understand his/her company from the field level and up. Then it hit me.

First, let’s change CEO to Sr. Leadership. Then, use Sr. Sales Leadership for illustrative purposes. You can apply this to any function. Next let’s consider opportunity cost and focus.

How does this disconnect happen?

As you move into a Sr. Leadership position, your goals & objectives expand beyond your specific functional task - “sales.” You are now creating strategy, developing tactics, managing people, operations, HR related issues, budgets ... etc. Your breadth of responsibilities expands as you move up.

When your breadth of responsibilities expands, there is less time to focus on specific functional tasks. For this sales example, less time increasing sales and delivering on targets. The Sales Leader has to balance his/her time. Trade-offs happen. Less time on one item or person and more time on another – opportunity cost.

Why is it OK for less connection to the field as a Sr. Leader moves up the organization?

In this paragraph I’m going to layout my current though process on why it’s OK for the field level connection to decrease. Later in the post, I’ll explain a few ways to manage or mitigate the disconnection.

1) As a leader moves up, the dollar value of their decisions should increase 

The numbers listed below are illustrative. Your values and ratios would depend on your company strategy, plus the span and layers of your organizational structure.

As an example: Company A sells a product at a value of $100 per item.  This company reaches $100 Million in sales per year.

If I’m a CEO of Company A, my breadth of responsibilities is immense. I need to focus my attention on sales decisions that are higher dollar value. If I’m a field sales person, I sell a product and manage a territory. I focus my sales decisions on lower dollar values. For this simplistic example, I'll use a 10X value system. 

Dollar Value for Decisions

  • Field Sales: $1-100
  • Field Sales Management: $100-$1,000
  • Regional Manager: $1,000-$10,000
  • Regional VP: $10,000-$100,000
  • VP: $100,000-$1,000,0000
  • CEO: $1,000,000-$10,000,000


2) You DON’T want Sr. Leaders making field level decisions if they are disconnected. 

  • Remember, breadth increases, time on a specific function decreases, and trade-offs create opportunity costs.
  • This leader wouldn’t know what’s going on at the field level. Why ask them to make a decision specific to the field?
  • It would take too much of everyone’s time to catch them up to speed?
  • The opportunity cost of that time would negatively impact the entire organization
  • They have historical depth in sales, but not day to day
  • You want the power and ability to make these decisions for your own career, development, and recognition

These two concepts are actually simple. As the sales leader moves up, the value of the decisions increases. As you move up, you want the power and ability to make decisions without the influence of a disconnected leader. Even though these are simple, the disconnect is still frustrating.

5 ways you ensure the disconnection doesn’t negatively impact the field and company? 

1. Empowerment: Your organization needs to develop a system or process that empowers each layer with the ability to make decisions based on their respective value. Understand your talent. Recognize their abilities and give empower them. If you aren’t comfortable with their decision making abilities ... develop, train, or attract better talent.

2. Field Visits: From the CEO level down, leaders need to visit each layer on a semi-regular basis. Connect with each level. Try to understand day-to-day operations as much as possible. Be present. Listen and learn.

3. Voice of Customer: Conduct internal and external voice of customer (VOC). Yes I did say internal too. It’s just as important to understand how the finance team is serving the sales team. Cross-functional relationships impact the entire organization. The VOC process will change a little bit depending on if it’s internal or external.

4. Data: Stop making decisions purely on “experience” or intuition. It’s fine to use those as qualitative factors, but clean data doesn’t lie. Collect data at all levels, internal and external. Find ways to simplify, track, and improve those numbers.

5. Reduction of Layers: Determine if there are too many layers. This goes hand-in-hand with empowerment. The more layers of management, the greater the disconnection. The more layers of management, the harder it is to gain feedback.

6. Cross-Functional & Multi-Level Meetings: Hold quarterly meetings with a cross-functional & multi-level group. Ensure all functions are represented. Make certain you have employees from the field level to the c-suite. These meetings are action-oriented. Goals: 

  • Gain feedback
  • Work on challenges
  • Create open-communication channels across the organization

Every organization is different. You’ll need to develop your own dollar value decision-making ratio. Empower your people. Allow them to take on more accountability and responsibility. If you aren’t comfortable with empowerment, consider training or upgrading your talent. Hold cross-functional and multi-level meetings, but make sure these are productive meetings. Solve challenges with this group. Create open feedback channels.

I hope this post helped. Feel free to give me your thoughts or feedback. This subject is something I’m still exploring. I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts.




The 2 Most Powerful Words for Coaching Employees

The 2 Most Powerful Words for Coaching Employees

During my last year at General Electric (GE), they successfully piloted a new employee evaluation process. I was a little skeptical at first.

Luckily we had an awesome HR Leader, Meghan DeFoe. She trained and coached our leadership team on the process. Plus, our team leader Amar Arekapudi championed the pilot within our organization. This program taught me the 2 most powerful words for coaching: Continue & Consider.

4 Basic Principles for Coaching

There are many different schools of thought or strategies for coaching employees. I even recommend a book - The Coaching Habit - Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever - by Michael Bungay Stanier. Yet, I’ll list out a few things you can always do below, then how to use continue and consider.

1. Actively Listen – Ensure you listen to your employees. Don’t interrupt and allow them to speak openly

2. Understand – Have them walk you through their thought process. Develop a greater understanding of the situation, decision, etc.

3. Remain Cool, Calm, and Collected – You’re the leader. To effectively coach, remain calm. This will allow your employee to feel safe and not defensive

4. Use Continue & Consider – Once you’ve listened and gained an understanding, use the terms continue and consider

How to use Continue & Consider?

It’s so damn easy to use Continue and Consider for coaching! Plus, the terminology disarms an employee. If you want to promote a behavior, action, or thought process … use continue. If you want to change something … use consider.

Example 1: Continue

Julie, thank you for being so prepared for your presentation today. Walk me through your preparation process? Listen & understand. Then you simply state, “Julie, continue to use that process to prepare for presentations." In fact, you can use the same X, Y, & Z principles to develop your next strategy session.

In this example you were able to promote Julie’s behavior, but also coach her on how it can be used for a different scenario.

Example 2: Consider

Jim, thank you for presenting during the strategy session today. Can you walk me through your preparation process? Listen & understand. Then, Julie, I like how you do X. Please continue to use that. Next time I’d like you to consider using Y & Z. Y & Z will help you provide a clearer message to your audience. I’d be happy to help you work through the process. Let’s set up time next week to review these steps before the next strategy session.

In this example you were able to understand Jim’s thought process for preparation. You then provided him a positive message to continue with a certain step. After the positive, you used “consider.” This neutralized any defensive behavior, but provided coaching on the proper process. Last, you followed this up with making yourself available to help the next time.

You Don’t Have to be a Manager or Leader to Coach

You can use continue and consider on your colleagues and managers as well. These terms are useful when providing feedback throughout the organization. It will depend on your organization’s culture, but hopefully your colleagues value feedback. 

I hope this post helped. Please continue to check back each week for my leadership posts. Also, consider sharing this article with your network if it’s helped you.

Last, how you are showing up as a leader? Consider if you could benefit from Executive Coaching. If you want to explore the idea, click here.

Take care,