Thursday, April 26, 2007

For or Against? Part Two

Kirsten Harrell at Think Positive wrote a post yesterday based on something both she and I had written nearly a year ago about the distinction between taking a stand FOR something or AGAINST something. In that post she shared a poem she wrote a few years ago called Standing for Peace.

Here's a portion of that poem:


These are difficult times.

Fear and hate preside.

Suspicion and mistrust prevail.

It’s easy to get caught up in the mix of it all.

But did you know that our thoughts create a powerful energy field?

Did you know that we each make a difference daily with our thought field?

Our thoughts either add to the pollution of fear, anger, and hate…

Or our thoughts can add to the peace, balance, and love.

What contribution do you choose?

What a beautiful reminder! Given all the buzz these days about the Law of Attraction, this is quite relevant. What are we creating - and allowing - in our world/World? Is there a distinction between world and World?

I'm reading Marianne Williamson's book Everyday Grace: Having Hope, Finding Forgiveness, and Making Miracles and this morning I read:

There is so much love in the human heart, yet hatred threatens our planet. And why? Because hatred is currently more committed than love. In the words of philosopher Edmund Burke, "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for enough good men to do nothing." Indeed, the forces of fear in the world are more disciplined, more courageous in a perverse kind of way, than are the forces of love. For hatred, as we know all too well, has no problem announcing itself and its intentions to the world. Our response should not just be that we oppose hate; our response must be that we love the world. Then and only then will love truly triumph: when the children of God don't just feel our love, but express our love.

How profound, yet how simple, especially given the events of the past couple of weeks - not just in America, but all around the globe.

I watched American Idol Gives Back last night. I've been especially interested in this year's Idol because Jordin Sparks has Fargo ties (her great-grandparents live here), so I was extremely touched by last night's amazing show. I am inspired to see how much of a difference focused energy and passion can make in the world.

What keeps us from showing our love more often? Think about Corporate America. We have trouble saying the word "love" and the word "work" in the same sentence. Yet the voice of fear is prevalent.

In his book The New Agreements in the Workplace, David Dibble gives us a quiz, asking us to fill in the blanks for some well-known statements. Here's an example:

  • Give 'em an inch and they'll take a ____________.
  • To get along, _______ along.
  • Cover your ________.
  • It's the boss's way or the ___________.
  • Do what I say, not what I ________.
  • We're not paying you to _________.
  • If his lips are moving, he must be __________.

Why is it so easy to fill in these blanks at work? Why is Dilbert still so cotton-pickin' funny to us? Why do we watch The Office and laugh with recognition?

This is my passion, my calling, my genius. I am inspired to have bigger conversations that lead to bigger action, and for some reason I'm drawn to Corporate America. I'm touched and moved and inspired by world hunger, the war in Iraq, and so many other causes in the world - but I'm not called to make a difference as much there as I am in our businesses. Another area that's calling to me is education - and teaching our youth how to THINK ... and how to ask better questions and to challenge the status quo without FEAR.

This is what I envision the Summit for Bigger Small Talk becoming - a place where thought leaders can come together to form action plans for all kinds of big ideas. A place where we can meet others who share our passions, and inspire each other to take action that we might not feel confident enough to take on by ourselves.

I believe in the goodness of people - and I believe that all people have huge capacity for goodness. But, as Marianne Williamson pointed out, when good people do nothing - are not moved to ACTION to demonstrate their goodness - that's when we remain at the mercy of the loudest voice. And the loudest voice doesn't have to be loud in volume - it can be the loudest voice because it's the only one doing the declaring.

If we're not able to take a stand FOR what we believe in - expanded capacity, love-based workplaces, world peace - we end up by default represented by what our thoughts may be telling us we DON'T want ... but what our silence has provided for us.

That which commands the most attention "wins," not by force, but sometimes by momentum and habit and inactivity. We ALREADY KNOW THIS STUFF ... but think how much more we can DO and BE when we don't have to DO and BE it alone.

Come to Fargo and meet others who are committed to bigger small talk. It has to be an amazing event because whoever will be here is the right people for this time and this place. We want you to be among those people! If you're called to bigger action, come and join us June 27-28!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Taking Action in a Big Way!

Plans are really taking shape for our Bigger Small Talk Summit in Fargo June 27-28.

You won't want to miss this opportunity to be part of an inaugural event that is sure to cause some big action in the world!

Think of the topic that makes your heart sing - that makes your blood race - that you're passionate about and want to connect with others about. That's what we'll talk about - and move to action about - at the summit.

Not sure of your passion or purpose? Then come and learn from Dick Richards who will help you name your genius which will lead you to your purpose.

The registration page is not quite complete at the website (, but if you want to come, register there (it won't ask for your money - yet!). Let me know which day/s you're interested in and put that in the comment box on that site and I'll save a space for you. Dick's workshop is limited to 30 participants, so make sure you register early!

See you in Fargo in June!

And thanks, Phil, for the slideshow!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Songs to Make Us THINK!

OK, so here I am in the radio studio between songs, and I told my listeners I would post today's playlist. The theme today was THINKING, something we really should know how to do, but we usually don't do it!

So here's today's list:

1) It's A Beautiful Morning - the Rascals
2) Think - Aretha Franklin
3) Waiting on the World to Change - John Mayer
4) Change the World - Eric Clapton
5) A Little Less Conversation - Elvis
6) Welcome to Wherever You Are - Bon Jovi
7) We're Here for a Good Time - Trooper
8) The Candle Song - Jon Anderson
9) UBU IME - Jana Stanfield
10) Place in the World - Mary Chapin Carpenter
11) Follow Your Dream - Sheryn Regis

You can tune in Sundays at 11 a.m. central at or

Let me know what you think!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Are YOU Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?

Are you smarter than a fifth grader? What do fifth graders know that we don’t? A lot, according to the show with that name. I’ve not seen it, but I understand that there are some tough questions on that show. It’s not that we haven’t learned these things – after all, I’m guessing nearly all of us made it through the fifth grade. But we’ve just forgotten the things we supposedly knew at one point.

This is kind of like our whole lives. We “learn” things, but do we really internalize them? We really do already know so much stuff – it’s buried somewhere deep in our minds – but we’ve spent all our lives forgetting.

Or we can't quite see how what we're learning applies to our lives where we currently find ourselves.

I'm wondering if that's what happens with traditional schooling. I have a friend who has two sons who just didn't get the whole high school thing. Each of them dropped out - which is like signing a career suicide note these days - because they couldn't see how the information was relevant to their lives. On the one hand that takes guts - to stand up for something you believe in enough to risk your future. On the other hand it is quite naive - after all, the reality is that education opens doors to opportunities that we might not otherwise realize are available.

Career options are rather limited these days for people without college degrees, to say nothing about high school diplomas. But there is also something to be said for learning from the School of Hard Knocks.

I, for one, obtained all of my education from traditional schools: high school, college, and graduate school. I "learned" what I was supposed to "learn" and have the pieces of paper to show for it. But I haven't really had too many chances to know what it's like to pull myself up by my bootstraps.

I'm thinking a lot about traditional education lately and wondering what is going on within those walls these days. Since I don't have kids, I'm pretty far removed from traditional education, but I hear and read a lot about how the systems are not cut out to provide the kind of training that might serve students best as they make their way into the "real world."

I want to figure out a way to teach some of what I'm learning and applying in my career - things like learning styles, effective communication, the power of intention, personal effectiveness and excellence and mastery, The Secret and other universal laws - to high school curricula. I'm not sure how to do that, but it's an area I'd really like to pursue, which is why I'm going to suggest it be one of the topics at the Summit for Bigger Small Talk this June in Fargo.

Are we really smarter than fifth graders? It depends on who's asking the questions. When we really learn to think for ourselves - to get beyond "right" and "wrong" and realize that there's only "what works" and "what doesn't," I think we'll see some huge strides in our employee engagement scores. When we can learn to internalize the strengths movement that Marcus Buckingham is so passionate about, we might find that we can stop fighting what we "should" be and embrace what we already are.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Breaking Through in Fargo

Lots is happening in Fargo - and Lisa Haneberg kind of kicked it off with her announcement of 2007 as the Year of the Breakthrough. Lisa will be here in Fargo on her motorcycle tour June 19-20 and will present wonderful ideas for breakthroughs from her newest book, Two Weeks to a Breakthrough. We're going to have a wonderful time when Lisa is here and that will preview the Summit for Bigger Small Talk the following week.

Check out Lisa's promotional video here.

Greg Balanko-Dickson also contributed to my bigger thinking with his post about BHAGs (making the Summit a smashing success is top on my list, but I'm still working on articulating the rest of my goals).

Today on my radio show the theme was "Life Is Good" and it got me thinking about how I find what I'm looking for - and also how important it is to play big.

Here was today's playlist:

1) Meaning of Life - Those Darn Accordions
2) The Meaning of Life - Monty Python
3) The Good Life - Tony Bennett & Billy Joel
4) Life is So Good - John Denver
5) Feeling Good - Michael Buble
6) The Good Life - Bruce Hornsby
7) Life is Good - Livingston Taylor
8) Big Time - Linda Eder
9) Big Time - Peter Gabriel
10) Life Has Been Good to Me - Randy Newman
11) For Good - Kristen Chenowith
12) Shiny Happy People - REM

I'm excited for both big events in Fargo this June. If you're planning a trip this summer, consider coming to Fargo for the Bigger Small Talk Summit - and don't miss Lisa Haneberg if she's coming to your town!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What's Good?

We had a conference call last week to discuss our plans for the Bigger Small Talk Summit and Suzanne Whang from HGTV's House Hunters was kind enough to grace us with her presence and her great ideas and perspective, which really helped me get some ideas for how we can get this thing off the ground.

One way Suzanne suggested we immediately raise the small talk in our lives is to get beyond our traditional greetings - especially "How Are You" by asking instead, "What's Good?" She pointed out that first of all that will throw people off because they're not expecting it - and secondly it will show you immediately where people are in their own mindsets. If they can't think of anything good to say, that will tell you something right there.

One of our other old standard greetings, besides "How Are You?" is "What's New?"

What's new? NOTHING! I was re-reading one of my favorite philosophers Emerson the other day and I was reminded of the wisdom he displayed in the mid-1800s:

What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.
That still resonates with me today.

Here's another example from an idea that circled the internet a while back.
  • 1000 BC: Here, eat this root.
  • AD 1000: That root is heathen. Say this prayer.
  • AD 1800: That prayer is pure superstition. Here, take this potion.
  • AD 1940: That potion is snake oil. Here, take this pill.
  • AD 1980: That pill is ineffective. Here, take this antibiotic.
  • AD 2000: That antibiotic doesn’t work. Here, eat this root.
What goes around really does come around.

How will we stop this endless cycle? JUST STOP! Think something original - or at least original for you. It may not be the first time someone thought of it, but that's where collective wisdom comes from! Find others to talk about your ideas with. But don't just look for people who will agree with you. Come to the conversation with an open mind - bring your own personal POWER (Purpose, Open-Mindedness, Wisdom, Energy, Responsibility) - and see what you can create together.

I've heard it said that man plans and God laughs - so instead of planning what you're going to say, be open to whatever can be created in that open space.

What's Good in the world? EVERYTHING!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Bigger Small Talk Update

I met today with a friend who works at the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau to get his advice on the details for our big event in June and I found out that he secretly dreams of being an event planner! What a bonus for all of us who plan to gather in Fargo June 27-28 for the Summit for Bigger Small Talk!

After talking with Suzanne Whang, along with Mike Sansone and Stacy Staiger on Tuesday, I think we've really got something going!

Suzanne and Stacy are not bloggers - in fact, I can probably count on one had the number of blogs they - combined - have visited. So it was great to get their feedback because we don't want to limit our event to just us bloggers.

We know we've got Dick Richards for one day of the summit to conduct a Genius Workshop for 30 lucky people (when we open registration, you'll want to get in early!). The other day will be the summit, which will include conversation about whatever topics the participants want to talk about (we'll ask for those ideas in the registration information).

I haven't talked to the rest of my impromptu committee about this yet, but I'm thinking that we might spend the morning in dialogue about topics like spirituality and business, global warming, government, religion, education, alternative medicine, finances, health and wellness, marketing, or any number of other topics. I'm not sure yet whether we have more specific questions (I'm leaning that way) or not, but at the end of the morning, I see us coming together and sharing reports from the dialogues so that, after lunch, we can move into a panel dialogue and then get to coming up with some ideas for action.

After talking with Suzanne (she's very inspiring!), I think we see the possibilities as well as the necessity for focusing our message to appeal to a wide audience.

I've now got a web designer to take care of the website (it will be at and we have a blog so please spread the word!

I hope you're planning to join us!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The B's Are Up!

We're on to the B's over at Andrew Young's Big Words for Small Business. At this site you'll see that:

"The simplicity of a single word is much more than what immediately appears.

"Big Words for Small Business removes the clutter and presents to you each month, one letter of the Alphabet around which a group of thinkers each write an article beginning with a word beginning with that that letter.

"By reading about these single words, you are able to come to a new understanding about various concepts, ideas and influences that can be made, to the way you operate and manage your business, how you see yourself and the things you say and do."

I'm honored to be one of the thinkers on Andrew's list. Head on over and read through the B's - and bookmark this site so you can see the updates (and enjoy Simon Kneebone's illustrations for each article!).