Friday, April 28, 2006

Adventures in Mayoral Blogging

So, as I'm watching this whole mayoral campaign unfold, I'm wondering: why do people voice their opinions on things like blogs or letters to the editor? Is it to support something or to rail against something else? And it even got me thinking: why do I blog?

My friend Brad Swenson is running for mayor and someone posted a comment on a local blog here about the election. It said: "That Swenson reminds me of everything I hate about people." That's it. What does that mean? What would compel someone to write something like that? What does it accomplish?

Is political blogging like talk radio where the extremists are the ones who call/write in and the masses just listen? Or do the masses tune out and remain uninvolved?

And then I wonder what the most effective response is as it relates to traditional politics. Is it possible to remain on the high road and get elected or does winning an election mean you have to get in the mud with everyone else? What do presidential campaigns tell us?

I've never been interested in the politics of politics, so I don't know. The only candidate I remember being really interested in was Paul Tsongas because he had a very different attitude about the game of politics (read a little about him here).

You can see what I wrote and what others are writing here in Fargo on Fargo Maven.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Getting to the Heart

I just need to tell you about a couple of really insightful blogs that may give you new perspectives about business and also about education.

The first is a great resource I've found to help keep me grounded - and also to help keep my heart where it needs to be as I work to grow my business: Mark Silver's The Heart of Business.

Today's blog post and podcast is especially meaningful to me. Check out "Why Your High Prices May Really Be Too Low" for heartfelt insights to pricing your service.

The second is one that is also near and dear to my heart. As a member of the ONE commUNITY, I am privileged to be among the speakers/facilitators of this awesome program which teaches the CASTLE principles of leadership (Courage, Authenticity, Service, Truthfulness, Love, and Effectiveness).

The most recent ONE blog entry asks what would happen if we would teach these principles in our schools. Here's an excerpt:

A recent business magazine editorial suggested that "If we hope to fill our innovation pipeline with world-class knowledge workers, then we need to invest in an education system that can produce them….A competitive, knowledge-based economy will require the support of specialists in sales and marketing, HR, law, and general business management….". This may be true, but is that all? Don’t we deserve more than this from our educational system? Is it not time to aspire to an education system that does more than simply turn out highly trained people who can execute commercial tasks? After loving and being loved, the second greatest human need is to inspire and be inspired. Should this then, not be the most important goal of education?

To read the entire article, click here.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

You're Not the Boss of Me

How many times have you heard little kids say that? Where do they hear that phrase? And why is it so universal?

Maybe it's because somewhere in our human DNA, even as little kids, we want some level of independence in our lives. When we're toddlers, they (the former children who now are adults with poor memories) call that the "terrible twos" and just wait (im)patiently for us to "grow out of it." And then they domesticate us into believing that we should do what they tell us "because I'm the parent/teacher/authority figure."

Why is it so surprising that we have a certain level of defiance in our organizations? We've been trained throughout our lives that to speak our mind is somehow "wrong" or "bad" and we've been waiting all our lives with some pent-up resentment we don't even know about to say what we think. And then we have a real boss who we fight because all we can remember is that time we said "You're not the boss of me" and got punished.

Employees don't want to be told what they should do or have to do or must do. How does "boss-ship" work in our lives? That's the "do as I say because I'm the boss" mentality.

Employees are not toddlers anymore, although some may act like it because they haven't yet realized that all their pent-up anger from their toddler years is still in there pent-up somewhere. They're still resisting and defying and sometimes even sabotaging those bosses - and often the bosses are reciprocating, and it becomes a drama of collusion. What we resist persists, and that causes even more anger and frustration.

The Gallup organization says that "employees leave supervisors, not companies" ... but how often does that employee find another supervisor just like the one he/she left because "wherever you go, there you are"?

The only way to stop the game of collusion is to stop. And someone has to be the adult. We already know that it doesn't work to try to change someone else. So when an adult chooses to stop playing the game, he or she does it to alter his or her OWN behavior, not someone else's.

And now there's no game to play. When one side concedes, the game is over. If we as adults are still caught up in our childhood game of "king of the mountain," we will all lose.

I'm not blaming anyone here - employees or bosses. In fact, blame is probably the most useless emotion there is. But I am saying that in my experience, when things weren't working in my life the way I wanted them to, I got the best results when I looked in the mirror. When I realized that I'm not the boss of anyone but myself, that's where the magic began to happen.

You don't have to be the boss to be the adult. What do you have to lose?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Managing Time and Staying Efficient

My friend Alex over at Positive Sharing has nailed another great post with The Cult of Overwork.

Love this graphic from his site ... and it should compel you to head over and read what he's got to say!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

37 Days Will Knock Your Socks Off

I need to tell you about a new blog I just discovered, 37 Days, ... and it's amazing.

I'll let you see it for yourself, but in the meantime ...

What would you do if you discovered you had only 37 days to live? How would you change?

Don't wait.


Patti Digh, you totally rock.

SolutionPeople Helps Top Innovators

This week's issue of BusinessWeek magazine is all about innovation, a subject that is near and dear to my heart.

I've been blessed to work with SolutionPeople, an innovation and creativity company in Chicago, over the past couple of years and of the top 30 companies on BusinessWeek's list of the top innovators, SolutionPeople has worked with 15, and 8 of the top 10!

While SolutionPeople's effect is difficult to dispute, Own Your Brand points out a huge disparity in the numbers from the surveys. According to the report, 72% of senior executives say “innovation” is one of their top three priorities, while only 4% of North American business leaders rank “creativity and innovation” as the most respected leadership qualities within their organization.

What's wrong with this picture? As an innovation coach for SolutionPeople, it was my opportunity to work with people who had attended the training in order to support them, through ongoing coaching, in keeping their new ideas and new techniques alive in their workplaces where their co-workers - and sometimes even their leaders - didn't know how to support them in their new way of thinking.

I think this is true of any transformational opportunity - everything in our human nature wants to pull us back to the familiar and it's darn tough to stay in new mindsets over time.

This a perfect example of why coaching is so essential for any kind of change initiative, whether personal or within a business. By failing to plan, we really do plan to fail.

I'd love to tell you more about my experience with SolutionPeople and the successes - and challenges - of being an innovative thinker. It's so liberating to discover your own creative genius ... but so tough to have to sell it within an organization or even a culture that doesn't know how to support it. Tough, but certainly not impossible.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Visualizing Your Vision - i.e. BUILDING THE DREAM

OK, as promised, here is the idea from The Science of Success:

In one section of the book, after the author has told us how to create a new paradigm and visualize our success (you'll have to read the first few chapters to get that part), he tells us to "manifest your vision the same way you manifest your new paradigm - by using your willpower to focus on it exclusively and with laser-like intensity. The more frequently you do so, the more quickly it will manifest."

He says that in order to be the most successful, you should picture yourself actually living within the new paradigm at least once a day. And it doesn't work to watch yourself in the new paradigm - you actually have to be in it.

He suggests that the best time to do this visualization is right before you go to sleep, because your subconscious never sleeps.

So here's his suggestion from pages 77-78 in the book:

"First, let yourself relax as your head sinks into the pillow. Begin to feel yourself living your vision. Make it colorful and emotional. Be within the picture, not as an observer but as an active participant. Imagine yourself walking, talking, and feeling as if you already have your vision in physical form....Then hold that picture as you drift off to sleep. Your subconscious mind will take it and begin to work with it all night. That vibration will be sent out and the Law of Attraction will begin to bring those results into your life."

I don't know about you, but I'm game to try this. Let's see what we can manifest in our own lives. If you're really interested, let's start reading this book together and report what we're seeing.

Click on my link on the side of the blog for more information from Amazon. What do we have to lose except our old paradigms?

After all "The box, the box, the box is on fire!!"

My Personal DNA

Have you ever wondered exactly what your DNA would say about you? Here's your chance to find out!

Take the test at:

Here's what I learned about myself by taking the test (mouse over the various colors for more information):

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

What Happened to Being Happy?

I was visiting my friend Chris Bailey over at BaileyWorkPlay, and came across yet another nugget of wisdom from his overflowing-with-wisdom brain. Check it out, along with my thoughts on the topic:

A Message From The Founding Fathers

Here’s a thought…what if we treated our happiness and contentment with work and life as a RIGHT rather than a PRIVILEGE?

If You Build It, They WILL Come

I'm just thinking today about that classic movie "Field of Dreams" and how powerful the message of the movie really is. In that movie Kevin Costner's character has to overcome tons of doubt in his own mind - as well as financial obstacles - to build a ballpark in his corn field. Goofy, yes. Many people called him crazy, especially his brother-in-law. But something compelled him to do it anyway. And he listened. He built it - and they came.

This theory really does apply to anything we want in our lives - including more business. But we have to overcome those nagging brothers-in-law who say we can't do it, or we're crazy for thinking about it, or it'll never work. Mark Twain had it right:

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.

That's energy. We want to be around those who support us and who give off positive vibes as we struggle to maintain the small flicker of new energy that we create when we get outside our own boxes and sometimes fall back into that familiar place of self-fulfilling prophesy ("It'll never work anyway" and then we get to be right about it).

We give up so many opportunities to be happy by holding on to that ingrained need to be right.

At our chorus rehearsal last night we had a fantastic choreography coach who helped us "Minnesota NICE" gals get out of our own way. She gave us a chant we adopted for our new motto about the box we find ourselves in: "The box, the box, the box is on FIRE!" So we have to get out of it!

So let's build our own field of dreams, whatever it is. What are you willing to do to get what you envision for your life? I'll send you an idea in my next post from one of the books I'm reading now called The Science of Success by James A. Ray. You won't want to miss it, so stay tuned!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Get Radical - Change the World

Although I can't physically see it, the last few days have been very interesting inside my head.

It all started on Saturday when I attended a sneak preview of the upcoming movie The Celestine Prophesy. One of the main messages in that movie (and in the book, if you read it back in the mid-90s) is: There are no coincidences. So keep that in mind.

If you read my post a couple of days ago, you know I'm supporting my friend Brad as he takes on the task of running for mayor. (If you didn't read it, scroll down for some background info.)

Since I wrote that post (I also wrote a letter to the editor of our local paper with some of the same ideas but not quite that passionate), weird things have been happening.

I met Jill Konrath yesterday afternoon - author of the book Selling to Big Companies (see previous post about that, too). Jill graciously spent about 10 minutes telling me a little bit about her book and her process and 80 minutes listening to me rail on about the dreams and ideas I have and the roadblocks I've put in my own way to prevent me from having to get involved in doing something about them ... in effect, she showed me, simply by being a mirror for me, how I'm not walking my talk in my own business.

She challenged me to get over the block I seem to have right now with stepping outside my own comfort zone and selling my own services through my business. She introduced me to some fabulous women at the Awesome Women event, at which the theme for the evening was "What do you know to be true for yourself right now? What are you not saying 'YES' to?"

During my 3-hour drive back to Fargo last night, Chris, a friend and business affiliate, called me and we talked about how I'm not stepping out there to let people know about my business and my speaking and my coaching. He provided me an audio mirror as I heard myself repeat pretty much the same things I was saying to Jill earlier.

As I was talking to Chris, it occurred to me that I had purchased a new book when I was in Minneapolis by Robert K. Cooper. I couldn't remember the title, but it was nagging at me, so I reached behind me to the back seat and pulled out the Barnes & Noble bag, pulled it out and turned on the maplight - the title was: Get Out Of Your Own Way. (Click on the link on the right side of this blog for more information)

I got home about 1:00 a.m. and as I dropped my bags, a book I had been reading the day before fell on the floor - Steve Farber's The Radical Edge: Stoke Your Business, Amp Your Life, and Change the World. (Click on the link for this one, too.) I picked it up and literally couldn't put it down until I finished it. I won't give away the ending, but it was a great thought to sleep on.

I met a friend for coffee today and since I was early, I pulled out Cooper's book and was blown away ... and validated. I got to page 43 before Kate got there, and she consequently was the recipient of my enthusiasm not only for Farber's book from the night before, but also Cooper's inspiration (and statistics!) about the way our brains work to keep us stuck - or to get us unstuck. We created all kinds of answers to all the problems of the world and it was a fabulous conversation.

From there I was driving back home when I heard on Minnesota Public Radio about a woman named Rachel Boynton who produced a documentary called "Our Brand is Crisis." I only heard the last part, but I heard Rachel say that although she wasn't involved in politics before this documentary, she realized that all politics involves two sides: those who support change and those who fear change and support the status quo. When it's broken down to those basics, it's really pretty clear.

When I heard that on the radio, I immediately called Brad and told him I wanted to know what more I could do to support him in being the side that supports change. We talked for 20 minutes or so (really I did most of the talking, based on my experiences over the past 24 hours) and he told me I was preaching to the choir. So we want to figure out how to create a group like the one Farber talks about at the end of the book (you'll have to read it to know what I'm talking about) and get the citizens of Fargo to get out of our own way.

Based on that conversation, I'm convinced that I can get out of my own way, and have that conversation with other prominent people in Fargo, which will help me grow my business and get over my own blocks to selling myself, which I'm learning how to do by reading Jill's book.

So, for me right now, it's about getting ideas from books and using that new information to change the world. And the next step is to get my own book published. I'll be telling you more about that process very soon.

How might we be able to take some of these ideas and create a virtual community? What have you read or noticed that has inspired you to change the world? How can we support each other in going beyond ideas to action??

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Dream Job in Real Life?

Elana Centor over at BlogHer has discovered (and shared) a totally amazing and inspiring article called "The Best Company to Work For In the World - Period."

I knew this was possible in the world - I'm just so thrilled to find that it exists outside my own dreamworld.

Check out Elana's post here (along with a sadly amusing animation that too many of us can probably relate to).

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Perils of Involvement

My friend Brad is running for mayor of my city and I'm convinced he's nuts.

The hours are awful (basically, 24/7), the pay is even worse, the perks are minimal and the pains are potentially maximal (think about trying to serve the needs of an amazingly and beautifully diverse community of individuals, each with his or her own agendas and worldviews and beliefs and dreams and beefs).

Why would anyone purposely throw himself into a den of hungry lions who are ready to shred him to pieces?

Here's a guy who's an attorney and could be making lots more money than the mayor's salary pays, willing to take on all this junk in order to make a difference in the lives of the citizens of our community. His opponents say that he's got his eye on a higher prize - a senate seat, a governor role, heck, maybe even President someday and that means he's using this as a stepping stone. They say that he's originally from the neighboring community which happens to be on the other side of the river and, consequently, in another state, so that makes him a poor choice. They say that he's raised campaign funds which allow him to buy 5 billboards in our community, so that means they think their votes can be bought. Anything to stir the pot.

I realize that anytime people get involved in anything they subject themselves to heated debate. However, I’m more concerned about those people who create the debate without being involved. The most effective people are those who are willing to be on the court instead of in the stands.

Perhaps the question is not so much why would he subject himself to the teeming masses as it is why are the masses teeming? What's with all the mudslinging? Is that what politics is all about? You couldn't pay me enough to be a politician.

But thank goodness there are people like Brad who are willing to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune in order to make a difference. Feel free to visit him at Swenson For Mayor.

Thanks for your inspiration, Brad. Regardless of the outcome of this June's election, you've given me some new food for thought. Maybe politics is not my calling, but is there something else I could be doing to be on the court in my life instead of spectating?

How about you?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Selling to Big Companies - a MUST READ!

OK, I've only read the first five chapters (I just got it in the mail yesterday) but I have to tell you about this book! If you're even remotely interested in getting beyond your fear of cold-calling and getting some new ideas for getting your product or service out into the world of big companies, you need to get Selling to Big Companies by Jill Konrath!

I'm really looking forward to meeting Jill on Wednesday at the next Awesome Women gathering in the Twin Cities and I'll get her to autograph my book! (In addition to my other passions, I love autographed books!)

Jill tells you how to crack into big accounts, shrink your sales cycle, and close more business - all essential skills for any entrepreneur.

The "selling" part has always been the hardest for me in my business, but I've already got some great ideas for my own company - I can't wait to get to the part in the book where she tells me how to do what I'm learning I want to do! I cheated a little bit and checked out the appendix where Jill gives you an account entry toolkit, complete with templates, guides and a list of other resources.

Kudos to you, Jill, for making this book a reality - and for sharing your inspiration with people like me!! See you soon!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Worthwhile is Back! Worthwhile is Back!

I've been waiting for what seems like months - actually it has been months - for the new edition of Worthwhile magazine and it's finally here! And isn't their new website dandy?

My buddy (and former North Dakotan and fellow blogger) Curt Rosengren has a wonderful article in the current issue called "The F-Word" (no, it's not what you think).

I am so glad to see that Curt has brought this terrible word out into the open ... we need to talk about THIS F-word much more frequently in our workplaces and in our lives, so we can bring it to the light and expose its inauthenticity and release its hold on us.

Now you've got to go read the article! Nice work, Curt!!

And don't forget to head over to Curt's blog - The Occupational Adventure - for more inspiration!

Meet my Mentor!

Last night I had the privilege of sharing a 2-hour dinner conversation (and really, my own private seminar!) with my fabulous mentor, Dr. Bob Ash. I'd love to introduce you to Bob and let you know a little more about this wonderful man who has opened up so many avenues to me.

Bob is a nationally-acclaimed speaker and trainer who, according to his website, has provided training to over 950 organizations and businesses, numbering over 270,000 people. Once he delivers a keynote or a seminar, he is almost always asked back to the same organization, but never delivers the same message twice to those audiences. He has spoken to or trained people from corporations like Reader's Digest, Hewlett-Packard, the Chicago Cubs, Pepsi, Pillsbury, The Gap, and Sprint and even organizations like the National Funeral Directors Association and the CIA. In addition to his great speaking and training career, Bob also is a former major league baseball player with the Cleveland Indians.

I first met Bob in 2001 when I was working at a training company, but struggling to find my real purpose. A friend of mine at the local Chamber of Commerce knew of my struggles, and she suggested that I call Bob Ash, a speaker who had become a friend of hers through his various presentations to national and local Chamber audiences. I didn't even know who he was at the time, but she told me to call him - and he would have some advice for me.

If I've learned nothing else over the past few years, I've learned that amazing things happen when I pick up the phone, so I took her advice, and called the number she gave me. I got an answering machine, so left a very strange message, never expecting to hear anything back. But a couple of days later, he called me and proceeded to give me suggestions and advice about my career for the next half hour.

Remember, now, that he had never met me before and knew absolutely nothing about me, except that I was a friend of a friend of his. That was good enough for Bob.

Since that time we have remained in close contact, and he has supported me at every turn with my speaking and training career, even opening some doors for me as a keynote speaker at national conferences.

Seeing him again last night reminded me of everything good in the world as we shared stories and ideas for new training programs as well as lessons we've learned since the last time we talked. In addition to his wisdom and his knowledge, Bob has shown me firsthand the amazing power of the "pay it forward" concept. He has given to me freely and I, in turn, have been inspired to become a mentor to someone else in my community, offering my coaching as she builds her career. I could never have known the amazing power of a mentoring relationship had it not been for Bob.

If you need a keynote speaker or a training program that goes way beyond the ordinary and makes your audiences think about things from a much different perspective, please consider Bob Ash. You'll learn all kinds of Life Lessons ... and will be transformed in the process! I know I certainly have been!