I’m in Bogota, Colombia this week giving a presentation on occupational safety and health to 350 executives. I’m glad we have an interpreter because my conversational Spanish leaves something to be desired. I’m solid on asking where the nearest bathroom is, but after that I’m nervous about accidentally causing an international incident. (Actually, I’m not too bad and I hope this will springboard me to improvement)
The really cool part of this whole thing is my return trip to Bogota after 40 years. My mother is Colombian and I made two trips with her in 1966 and 1971. I eschewed return trips over the years because I was just too busy chasing golf balls and girls (I actually caught one girl, or maybe it was the other way around, and we got married, so that one was worth it). Now is my chance to “go home” to my roots and re-connect with about 45 cousins and a myriad of aunts and uncles.
Family, heritage, and community shape individuals. No matter where you’re from or how long it’s been since you were there, “going home” is good for the spirit. In our culture of instant gratification, just in time learning, and high speed everything, I’ve found that going “old school” and taking the time to cultivate relationships and your history go a long way into creating a well-rounded and holistic individual.
Usted puede ir a case de nuevo!
This week’s quote – “”Tell a man there are 300 billion stars in the universe and he will believe you. Tell him a bench has wet paint on it and he will have to touch it to be sure.””
– Murphy’s Law
Last week, I performed a table top exercise for a client where we simulated a major data breach. Throughout the exercise, I threw in a few curve balls to add spice to the experience. More importantly, it actually adds reality because seldom does only one event occur when decisions are made and consequences of those decisions realized.
I spend a lot of time talking about business preparedness and resiliency, so let’s make this more personal. How prepared are you and your family to respond to situations (both good and bad) that unfold? Let’s be honest – probably not as well as you know you should. Why is that?
My friend Larry Kaminer (the personal safety guru) tells me all the time that the biggest enemies of preparedness and awareness are apathy, complacency, and denial. Don’t tell me you don’t have the time. Time isn’t a resource issue; it’s a priority issue. The people in your life are a priority and we need to do a better job of preparing to respond. I’m just as guilty, so this is a reminder to myself!
So here is your call to action – Find one (only one) impact area to work on this week (i.e. a house fire or earthquake). Discuss it as a family. Create a plan. Practice the plan. Eat ice cream (remember we are always about rewards). Captain Jack already has his red jump suit ready to go by the door. What about you?
This week’s quote – “A man always has two reasons for doing anything; a good reason and the real reason.”
– J.P. Morgan
Last week, I ventured out into my new cooking passion and made duck. A little bit of a risk as it went outside my comfort zone, but that’s the only way you improve, right? I had been cooking the duck breast on top of the stove and then transferred the entire skillet into the oven for 12 minutes. As the timer went off, I reached in to pull the bird out. Unfortunately for the palm of my right hand, I didn’t have “full coverage.” The pain of a skillet handle baking at 450 degrees got my attention! My next purchase is one of those full-handed mitts that Johnny Bench would have been happy to use. Happily, the duck breast on top of penne pasta and with a wine reduction sauce was a huge success.
Business and careers are like that. At some point, you’ve taken a risk (or maybe you’re even currently contemplating one) to gain a great reward. No duck, no feast. No doubt you’ve made bold moves, skinned your knee a few times (or in my case burned your hand), and had terrific successes.
Risk isn’t a bad thing, although in my business it can be characterized as such. We are taught to avoid, mitigate, and control it. There’s some truth to all of that, however I care to think of it as we need to embrace risk. Without risk, there is no reward. Nothing great has ever been accomplished without sticking your mitt into a decalescent oven. You won’t get anywhere in your career or business if you’re not willing to suffer a few scrapes, bruises, and burned hands. Don’t allow the kitchen to get too hot for you!
Bon A Petite!
This week’s quote – “”Life itself is the proper binge.””
– Julia Child
On Sunday, I had a 15-minute date with my wife, Barb. We were in Dallas and had a few minutes after Sunday morning Mass before we needed to head back to my cousin’s to pick up my mother prepare to leave. Our 15 minutes were spent at the local Starbucks enjoying each others company.
When I was studying for my Certified Risk Manager test last week, I took a 15 minute break about every 90 minutes. It allowed my brain to rest; my body to get some motion; and my spirit to rejuvenate.
Employees are mandated to take breaks during the day. Not only is it the law, but it’s smart. Studies prove that occasional breaks improve efficiency and productivity.
What about you? Do you allow yourself regular 15 minute breaks to recharge your brain? If you’re an entrepreneur, you may treat yourself worse than any other boss could. If you’re a business person who is in charge of their own schedule, you may do the same.
Reward yourself frequently during the day and give yourself 15 minutes just for you. Parlay that every few weeks into a full day. You will find that taking time for yourself and your most important relationships will not only pay dividends for you personally, but professionally as well.
This week’s quote – “One chance is all you need.”
– Jesse Owens
I’ve been complaining all summer about our lack of summer weather here in the Puget Sound. I’m a native of the Northwest and I’m used to the gray days and drizzle…in winter and spring. Normally, the summer and fall are brilliant. Just recently, the local ABC affiliate said that the Puget Sound has had 78 minutes of 80+ degree weather all year. 78 minutes! I can’t even get 9 holes in in 78 minutes!
Tomorrow I head to Dallas/Fort Worth for a 3-day professional seminar. It will be 106 degrees all week, and its been above 100 degrees for about 3 weeks there. I can’t imagine being anywhere that air conditioning isn’t on full blast. The grass is not always greener…
I think we get to that point in both our business and personal lives as well. When things are tough and we are challenged, it’s easy to look at the “other side of the fence” and wish you were there. The truth is that if you’re reading this then you are better off than the vast majority of this planet. Starvation, disease, lack of clean water, human trafficking, and terrorism are the way of life of most of our race. Many of our countrymen are being shot at in foxholes and in the air protecting our freedom. We’re pretty fortunate. If we take the time to gain some perspective, it makes our challenges less daunting and should give us the courage to look at our side of the fence and be happy with our grass.
This week’s quote – “A bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise.”
– Winnie the Pooh
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When I was younger, I played a lot of golf and was pretty good. I was part of my high school team that competed at the state tournament in 1982. One of my strengths in those days was that I was fearless on the golf course. I would take risks, attack tough pins, try to clear fairway bunkers from the tee. I imagined myself the swashbuckling Seve Ballesteros! Sometimes my daring would land me in trouble, but more often than not, it turned out well and I was rewarded with a good hole. It was fun.
Now, nearly 30 years later, I’m not quite so daring. I can actually hit the ball longer than I did back then and some of that skill is still there. However, I’ve lost some of that fearlessness. Now, I overthink three-foot putts. I’m scared about hitting a ball out of bounds or in the water. I take fewer risks, but more concerning, I’m more tentative. The outcome is never as good. Funny thing is that it’s just a game. I’m not in any danger, nor will hitting an errant shot drive me to financial ruin. It’s dysfunctional thinking and I’m working on that to improve my game.
This fearlessness affects your business in the same way. Young people come into business with an assertive, confident, and often arrogant attitude. They are viewed as “hard chargers” and “go-getters.” Over time, they turn increasingly cautious as they start families and increase financial obligations. Do you find yourself there? I have and that really changed two years ago when I attended Million Dollar Consulting College by Alan Weiss. I realized that this is supposed to be fun and what I do in business isn’t life and death. I was hitting too many balls “out of bounds” by being tentative and not succeeding to the level I wanted. I had to eradicate that dysfunctional thinking.
My takeaway for you this morning is to be bold; have fun; and be fearless. You may just find that your business “game” scores more birdies!
Now back to that golf game…
This week’s quote – “The most rewarding things you do in life are often the ones that look like they cannot be done.”
– Arnold Palmer
I watched with great interest the United States women’s soccer team playing on Sunday for the World Cup Championship. They completely outplayed Japan for the majority of the game, yet lost in a playoff shoot-out when they gave up goals near the end of both the regular and overtime periods. You might think that their inability to close the games and critical gaffes at the end were what lost the game. These were contributing factors, yet in my opinion, the game was lost in the first half. The USA was clearly the aggressor and the better team, outshooting Japan by a 15-5 mark well into the half. They had wonderful opportunities but failed to capitalize on one. Had they scored on any of those, they would have won in regulation. Opportunities lost.
The same can be said of us in business and life. How many opportunities to “score” do we get, yet blow over the net, or hit the crossbar? Do we play a great game, yet fail to “finish the deal” and take advantage of our opportunities? What are the consequences we face for not answering the door when opportunity knocks?
The good news is that just like sports, we will get another chance. I encourage you to keep your mind open and be in the moment to take advantage of your next shot on goal!
This week’s quote – “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer…”
– John Madden, Hall of Fame football coach and TV commentator
I started Saturday morning packing my golf bag and duffel bag and heading to Seattle via the ferry to play golf at beautiful Harbour Pointe Golf Course in Mukilteo. My friend Dave picked me up on the other side on a glorious day and we headed over for 18 holes in my Washington Athletic Club tournament. After the round, I scarfed down a turkey sandwich and beer and then like Superman in the telephone booth, changed into my “symphony” clothes. My wife Barb was herding cats by bringing my two daughters, my 87-year old mother, and our Rotary foreign exchange student over to Seattle to meet me for the playing of the Wizard of Oz with the Seattle Symphony in the background. Dave dropped me off at exactly the same time they arrived, we went to dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s, and then spent the evening re-visiting Oz. The next day, we got up early after a late night, went to morning Mass, and then hit it out to Barb’s parents for a day trip and visit. Whew! I’m waiting for Monday to relax!
Active minds and bodies are essential to living a well-rounded life. Sometimes maybe a little frantic, but always good to keep the brain synapses popping (or whatever they do). Staying active both physically and mentally is the real fountain of youth. It also is the “stuff” that a healthy life is made of. I encourage you to find ways in your busy professional life to add plenty of balance with a healthy dose of activity. It’s good for the body, mind, and soul…
This week’s quote – “You don’t have a professional life and a personal life. You simply have a life…”
– Alan Weiss, author of Million Dollar Consulting
Two-hundred and thirty-five years ago, our forefathers risked everything. By signing the Declaration of Independence, they pledged their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor.” These aren’t hollow words that Thomas Jefferson penned. They were reality.
As we celebrate our 4th of July with fireworks, barbecues, and baseball games, I encourage you to pause briefly and imagine what it must have been like 235 years ago. As much as that group wanted their independence, it came at a steep price and with much anxiety and fear. Their names immediately hit the Most Wanted list in England, and a bounty was now on their collective heads.
We make decisions every day in business and in life that are important. I’m guessing most of the decisions that we make don’t lead to a death wish. It’s good to have perspective in our daily lives and looking back in history often gives is that perspective.
This one will probably anger a few of you. I’ll take the risk.
It used to be that letters to the editor needed to be signed in order to be printed. It may still be the case, however in our new world reality of online comments, the names have been changed to protect the obnoxious.
Everyone it seems prefers to use glitzy and fancy avatars to wax poetic, hurl insults, scrawl snide remarks, and make light of situations. Easy to do when you’re hiding behind some made up name. Unfortunately, there is no accountability. I’ve heard opponents to my thinking say they fear retribution or disparaging thoughts about them. Then they shouldn’t write. If you’re going to stand up for a position, be big enough to put your name behind it. What usually occurs is a more thoughtful and collegial statement. Something that you’d be happy to have your grandmother read.
Here’s my bottom line – if you’re going to express your opinion, then be accountable. Put your name where your opinions lie.
P.S. All negative comments and complaints can be sent to my avatar CaptainJack08.
This week’s quote – “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.