What Would You Do if the FBI Knocked on Your Door?

My Aikido martial arts academy attracts a lot of high-powered students in Washington, D.C. I have influential business leaders learning from me, FBI agents and CIA officers, U.S. and foreign diplomats — all sorts of people who are part of the country’s (and the world’s) power structure. 

One of those students worked at the Russian embassy in Washington, DC.  And one day, some FBI agents approached me. It turned out that this Russian fellow was a signals intelligence officer — in other words, he was a spy. His job was to intercept U.S. signals and try to crack our codes. The FBI was pretty interested in getting close to him and keeping tabs on how his work was going, so they’d know if they needed to change their codes. 

Don’t Take This Personally…

In your business career, have you ever sat across from a person old enough to be your grandparent who screamed at you until they were blue in the face?  I have.  I closed a huge deal with a publicly traded commercial real estate firm where the obsessive-compulsive CFO painstakingly reviewed each and every invoice line-item by line-item.  According to his math, our six-figure invoice was over by — I kid you not — $1.27, and he wanted to know WHAT WAS GOING ON?! 

Want to Improve Your Leadership? Practice This…

I was recently interviewed about my battle with cancer on Nancy Solari’s “Living Full Out” podcast (jump to the 15:45 mark to hear the interview).  Nancy asked a very important question that went something like this, “Having won your battle against cancer, do you still worry/fear/think about it returning?”

And that question got me wondering.  How many times have you let past experiences — both negative and positive — impact your leadership, decision-making prowess, and business performance in the present?  If you are incomplete over a blown project, missed promotion, or failed business or personal relationship your leadership will suffer and you will lack the motivation necessary to create authentic business transformation.

What, Why, When?

A Russian diplomat client of mine was just kicked out of the country in retaliation for the London poisoning tragedy that happened in March.  Now my client had absolutely nothing to do with the poisoning — he was just caught up in the political “tit-for-tat” between super powers.  

This got me thinking — how many times has a business decision made way “above your pay grade” trickled down to adversely affect your career, company, or community?  I’ve seen it, and experienced it, all to often.   For example, a senior director or EVP changes a compensation plan, or closes a branch office, or kills a promising new product.  What would you do, or have you done, in those situations?

This Question Can Save Your Business (and Life)

We all know Toys “R” Us is shuttering operations after 70-years of making children smile.  And history is littered with famous companies that suffered the same fate such as Blockbuster, Border Books, Sharper Image, and Tower Records to name a few.  

What about the personal projects in your life that have also “shuttered operations”?  Ever go through a divorce, bankruptcy, or realize that the house you bought is not worth as much as you paid for it?  Although I never declared bankruptcy or made a poor real estate investment, I have gone through a divorce.  It sucks.

Why Do You Do What You Do?

ESPN recently published an article on Major League Baseball superstar, Ichiro Suzuki.  The article is simultaneously fascinating and depressing, though not surprising.  It explains how Ichiro has reached a level of professional peak performance and sustained baseball excellence, yet is still incredibly unhappy and unfulfilled.  He is successfully miserable.

I lived in Japan for 10 amazing years.  Early on I had a chance to do extensive research on successful Japanese companies, business culture, and the often bewildering customs that make Japan so unique.  And here is one trait that sets the Japanese apart:  They posses a preternatural ability — both singularly and collectively — to obsessively focus on perfecting a task, action, or outcome.  In Ichiro’s case, it was being able to hit a baseball left-handed even though he is naturally right-handed.  Why did he learn to hit lefty?  We’ll get to that in a minute.

Attract & Retain Top Talent with March Madness

Whether you’re a college basketball fan or not, March Madness is upon us.  And guess how much money companies lose from distracted employees filling out brackets, surreptitiously streaming games, or “getting sick” so they can take a road-trip to watch their alma mater play?  Corporations lose $6.3 billion due to unproductive workers during the three-week period of March Madness.  Yeah — thats billions with a “b”.  

Below is a very cool infographic that gives more interesting statistics on the socio-economic impact of March Madness.  But I want to draw you attention to one that I find the most interesting...

The Secret to Achieving the BEST Quality of Life

I just read an eye-opening report by U.S. News & World Report that says the state I live in, California, is ranked dead last in quality of life.  The report went on to say that, “In addition to a healthy environment, a person’s quality of life is largely a result of their interactions with those around them.”  Turns out, Californians’ social interaction and engagement with each other is horrible and this dramatically impacts quality of life.  

I was immediately reminded of a concept I often share with successful high-achievers as a keynote speaker and business transformation consultant to ensure they can maintain a level of success and peak performance without burning out and becoming successfully miserable:  Having an energizing, engaging, and educational “third place”. 

Multitasking is a Myth!

I once lost a HUGE sale because I was multitasking.  I was sitting in front of the decision-maker giving my final sales pitch.  My laptop was open because I was using Power Point during my sales presentation.  As I was talking to the decision-maker, I was also reading a text message from a current client and glancing at an email from my sales manager on my laptop.  

What do you think happened?  Instead of nailing all three — closing the new sale, handling the existing client concern via text, and answering my sales manager’s question via email — I blew all three.  I was neither present nor really thinking through any of the three situations I was trying to juggle.

Ever Been Told, “You Need to Work on Your Leadership”?

Have you ever been denied a raise or promotion because of the ambiguous excuse, “You need to work on your leadership.”?  What about the frustration of having a boss lead you and your team with the age old, “do as I say, not as I do” principle?  

I’ve experienced this and a lot more bizarre ambiguity around leadership during my time serving in the Marine Corps, working in corporate America, starting and running my own businesses, and as a loving father and family man. 

The “Honorable No” & My Challenge to You

“A ‘no’ uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a ‘yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.”  ~~Mahatma Gandhi  

I love this quote.  I call it the “Honorable No.”  Do you have certain people in your life — a boss, colleague, or loved one perhaps — that you have a hard time saying “no” to?  Are there certain situations that you find easier to just say “yes” because you don’t want to deal with the hassle of what a “no” will produce?  Be careful.  Saying “yes” when you really mean “no” is a dreadful decision.

Decision Fatigue — A Few Secrets You Need to Know

Did you eat that bowl of ice-cream before going to bed last night that you’re now regretting?  Or send a text to that certain someone late at night that, oh well, you really should NOT have sent?  What about firing off a scathing email to a business associate, friend, or family member that you wish you could “un-send”?

I’ve done all of these.  And regretted every single one.  (Except the ice-cream…)  Why does it seem that as the day wears on, we make worse and worse decisions?  Because its true!  This phenomena is called “decision fatigue”, and if you don’t do something about it, you, your team, and your business will suffer.

Blame the Millennials for (insert gripe here)!

Ohhhh those pesky Millennials.  Sales down?  Blame the Millennials.  Can’t find someone to work late?  Millennials.  Increased wait time for your drink at Starbucks?  Millennials again.  (Well, this one is probably true and is my main gripe…)

Every generation likes to blame the other for their woes.  And it seems that you can’t blink without coming across another article blaming Millennials for something.  Most of the gripes are nonsense, however...

Are You Caught in a “Success Trap”? Then Answer These 4 Questions.

Early in my sales career, I landed a huge deal and hit 230% of quota.  And got a nice 5-figure commission to go with it.  And then something interesting happened:  My sales manager raised my quota.  Now I was expected to hit 230% of quota EVERY month.  Uh oh….

Has this ever happened to you where you achieve a goal then become “successfully miserable” because you’re caught in your own “success trap”?   As a type-A high-achiever, I’ve fought to get out of my own success trap many times.  Now as a business transformation keynote speaker and leadership coach, I often speak to audiences and coach high-performing executives on how to make better decisions to ensure they do not become successfully miserable.

What Big Decisions Are You Putting Off Making? (And What To Do About It.)

  1. Do I leave my current job?
  2. What should I do about my finances?
  3. Do we hire this new outside VP candidate or do we promote internally?
  4. I want to move.
  5. Do I start a new business or sell my current one — or both?
  6. Do I end my miserable personal relationship?

Decisions.  Decisions.  Decisions.  We all have important decisions to make in business and life.  And we all put off making important decisions for one reason or another.  (I once put off making a decision to move for FIVE years because I really did not like the beautiful home I had just purchased.)