Friday, April 30, 2010

Happy Birthday Bugs!

Melvin was the kind of kid who struggled in school.

He was smart enough, but often bored stiff.

Once when skipping class, he found the halls of Lincoln High School had the perfect echo. He started doing cackles just to see how they echoed. Then he ran straight into the principal.

A fidgety type, Melvin had a hard time paying attention in class, often disrupting the concentration of other students with his wisecracks. The typical "class clown", he had a way of getting attention by imitating different ethnic voices all around him, especially the Japanese grocery clerk who lived around the corner.

He was also allergic to carrots.

But, that's not important right now.

Growing up in Portland, Oregon, attending Lincoln High, he changed the spelling of his last name after being told by one of his teachers that he would never amount to anything. The teacher went on to say that, Melvin would turn out just like his name - a complete blank.

And that's how a 16-year old went from from “Blank” to “Blanc”.

Decades later, a respected columnist in the L.A. Times would write, "For the majority of us, the sassiness of our childhood, muttered alone in bed or nursed in sullen silence at the dinner table, had a secret champion in the voices of Mel Blanc".

Those voices would be frozen in our childhood memories with lines like the bewildered, "I tawt I taw a putty tat", the lamenting "SSSSSsssuffering SSSSSuccotash" and the bureaucratic "Train leaving on Track 5 for Anaheim, Azusa and Cuc-a-monga".

Perhaps the best known one-liner of them all was the straightforward, "What's up doc"?

On this day, in 1938, the character known as Bugs Bunny made his on screen debut in a Warner Brothers cartoon entitled "Porky's Hare Hunt". And to get the sound just right, Mel would nibble on a raw carrot before using the signature, "What's up doc?" line and then spit out the vegetable before swallowing.

Known as "The Man of a Thousand Voices", Mel also graced us with characters such as Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Sylvester the Cat, Tweety Bird, Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam, Marvin the Martian, Wile E. Coyote, Woody Woodpecker, Barney Rubble and hundreds of others.

And while that wascally wabbit could never seem to follow directions, Mel certainly did.

His own.

"Bugs Bunny represents the suppressed desire of what men would like to do that don't have guts enough to do"

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Surreal Life

"A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where your mind can get both provocation and privacy"

A book is much more than the work of one author.

A book represents an extended journey shared by many.

And on this day, an author finds himself most grateful for the help he has received along the way from his book's "extended family".

Today marks the official launch of "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" - Common Threads of UnCommonly Remarkable People and Seamless Brands. There is a press reception this morning at City Hall, followed by a public book signing event later tonight at the Chapters location in the author's hometown of Moncton, NB. Hundreds of well-wishers are expected to turn out and I will be the first to admit that actually seeing the book on the shelf at Chapters, appearing on a radio talk show and having the inbox swell with congratulatory messages is more than a little surreal. As a close friend described it, "It's going to be like a funeral today in the sense that all these people are going to be saying only nice things about you. The difference is you're actually going to be there to hear it!"

Like I said.

More than a little surreal.

The launch of "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS", published by Wizard Academy Press out of Austin, TX, marks the completion of a two-year project that hits the finish line only to see a new race begin. In other words, getting published by a reputable organization is one thing; distribution to the masses is another journey altogether as one tries to determine the shortest route in clearing the hurdles that await in the massive North American book publishing industry.

While I don't have all the answers yet on distribution (still just learning to ask the right questions), I am fully aware that today is about celebrating the book itself and the many special people who played key roles in getting it to this point.

Before mentioning anyone else, top spot goes to my favorite son who stepped up to the plate in huge way with a cover design concept that kicks serious ass. Ryan has poured countless hours and buckets of energy into making sure his Dad's book and website would be a true reflection of what he wants the world to see when they think of his father. On this day, there is no prouder or more grateful dad for the work Ryan has done to ensure this book sticks out visually.

Many thanks also go out to my #1 cheerleader, fan, sister and best friend since we were little kids. Everyone should be so lucky as to have a sister like Karen who is always there to help in whatever way she can. Before leaving on a flight for London, England, Karen made sure all the details were looked after with today's launch and now she has her fingers crossed that everything will go smoothly while at the same time wishing she could be here in Moncton to be part of her big brother's big day.

Production Manager Sean Taylor of Wizard Academy Press has been a joy to work with through the layout process while editors and proof readers like Dana Zilic, Ian Varty and Katherine Grant can't be thanked enough for taking the manuscript to the next level.

The extended family behind "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS", also includes a number of other friends, benefactors and influencers. In random order, they are:

Denis Goguen, Ken LeBlanc, Dale Betts, Jeremy Demont, Walter Melanson, Allan Power, Jim & Dawna Gilbert, Dave MacKenzie, Darren Sears, Silvy Moleman, Daniel Gillis, Sandy Gillis, Jerry Simmons, Ronnie LeBlanc, The Four Divas (Sharon Geldart, Debbie Brine, Mary O’Donnell, Valerie Roy), Tyson Matheson, Leanne Taylor, Danielle Leger, Lisa Stutt, Bill Bishop, Don Schmincke, Mandy McLean, Dorothy Suley, Lenny Boudreau, Toby Davis, Botsford Productions, everyone at The Seamless Brand and the thousands that have attended more than a decade of seminars and workshops that provided countless insights that helped shape some of these ideas along the way.

Extra special thanks to Doug Stevenson for introducing “Story Theatre Method” and sharing it with the world.

Mucho supremo extra special thanks goes to Roy H. Williams, who impacts thousands of lives every day from an idyllic 30-acre campus about 20 minutes of Austin, TX. This book owes its existence to the vision of Roy and “Princess Pennie” when they opened up their hearts and the magical world that is Wizard Academy.

Once again, to everyone involved and who has supported "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" ...

Thank you.

“Of all the ‘attitudes’ we can acquire, surely the attitude of gratitude is the most important and by far the most life-changing”

P.S.... Wanted to save a special mention for Amanda Duff from The Seamless Brand who has done the heavy lifting required to make sure the new website was up and ready to go for today's launch. Also want to sincerely thank the boys at Botsford Productions for the work on the video that you will discover on the home page of the new site.

P.P.S.... The media launch is at 11 this morning at City Hall and big kudos to Kevin Silliker and his team for making sure everything is ready on their end. The book signing event starts tonite at 7 and also want to thank the people at Chapters in Dieppe, NB who have gone out of their way to make sure the book gets noticed as soon as you walk in the front door.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Motorvationally Speaking: "Danny Grant"

Danny left home at an early age to find work a thousand miles away in Peterborough, Ontario.

Back in the early sixties, that was part of the price that needed to be paid to make it all the way to the National Hockey League.

After a stint in the minors with Houston, Danny finally cracked the parent Montreal Canadiens roster, helping the Habs win the Stanley Cup in 1968. The following year, he was dealt to the expansion Minnesota North Stars for his first full NHL season, where Danny set rookie scoring records and captured the Calder Trophy as the league's top newcomer.

Before he was through, the Fredericton native suited up for 14 NHL campaigns which included a 50-goal season with Detroit. A durable, hard-working winger, he once managed to run up a string of 566 straight games played.

Today on TSB, we learn how lessons from the NHL translate to the business world with New Brunswick Sports Hall of Famer ... Danny Grant!

"Motorvationally Speaking", on CHCD TV, is a weekly, internet-based show focused on people who embrace the power of positive thinking. The guests may not always be famous, but they are always enlightening, and each one of them has an interesting story to tell. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome as we aim to inspire, educate and motorvate.

"Hockey is a man's game. The team with the most real men wins”

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What Really Leads to Success?

When he walked into the meet-and-greet last week in Halifax, Richard looked like just another ordinary, average guy.

At first glance, you wouldn't know Richard had founded a highly successful marketing company; had grabbed global awards for best corporate videos and scriptwriting; had run marathons on all seven continents and with his wife Baiba, had climbed two of the world’s highest mountains, Kilimanjaro in Africa and Aconcagua in South America.

Richard St. John doesn’t just talk about success.

He lives, eats and breathes it.

And then shares the "8 To Be Great" with others.

But wait ... there's more!

As Richard points out in a recent TED talk, the "8 To Be Great" never stops.

Richard St. John is not only a thoughtful, dynamic speaker who travels all over the world and shares the stage with some of the richest and most famous.

He is also a genuinely nice guy.

Wishing you continued safe and successful travels my friend.

"Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can't lose"

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Leader Without a Label

Every team - every office, every committee, every workplace, every home, every family - needs a leader like Josh.

He was a blonde, blue-eyed, and anything but smooth-skating 9-year old defenceman who toiled with the now legendary Riverview Senators back in the early part of the 1990’s. You can find him seated in the front row of the team pic, second from right.

Josh was what you would call a "nice kid". Polite to a fault. While his hockey skills could be classified as "minimal", he more than compensated through hard-work and a cheery attitude. In fact, Josh was so short-changed in the talent department; no one who witnessed it, will ever forget the time he took a turn in net and earned the dubious distinction of being the only kid any of us ever saw, helplessly surrender an agonizingly slow-roller from about 170 feet away.

But, when you’re competing at the novice level in minor hockey, there are more important issues than winning games. And the coach of that Riverview Senator squad saw it as his role to instill certain values and principles that extended far beyond how to break out of your own zone, do crossovers or properly execute a tape-to-tape forward pass. Over the course of about a dozen years behind minor hockey benches, this coach had developed a "3-RULES" philosophy he hoped would serve Josh and all the kids well:

RULE #1. No matter the score, Senators don’t give up. Ever.

RULE #2. No Senator ever criticizes a team-mate. Ever.

RULE #3. Everyone will play – regardless of score and situation. Everyone.

The third guideline took some getting used to for some parents but once explained, the vast majority understood. The way the coach looked at it, if the Senators were down by a goal with a minute to play and someone like Josh was up next, then he was the one getting the next shift. Parents and players all knew going in that no kid would lose any ice time just so a so-called “star players” could take an extra shift or two in hopes of scoring a tying goal.

It could be argued, that would only be rewarding non-performance. Because, if a so-called “star player” really was that good, he or she should have already done their job by now. Furthermore, how does anyone know this isn’t the shift when a less talented player - like Josh - doesn’t bang one in with less than a minute to go? Perhaps that one moment could forever alter not only the scoreboard but, maybe his self-worth and belief in the kind of player he could be.

The way the coach saw it, giving 8 and 9-year olds equal opportunity to learn and acquire skills and confidence would take priority over merely winning and losing hockey games.

And so it came to pass in March of ’92, the Senators are battling arch rival Dieppe Voyageurs in a late-season game that held great importance at the time. Late in the third period - Sens are down by a goal - the action is fast and furious, up and down the ice. Great scoring chances and great saves at both ends. Senators’ goaltender Wally Fowler is like a latter-day Tony Esposito keeping us in there. Fans from both teams are loud and boisterous beyond belief. A cacophony of noise rattling to the point where you can barely hear yourself think.

Just over a minute remaining, the play is deep in our own end and one of the Senators newer players, Adam, has the puck behind the net. Adam has been coached many times on what to do in this situation but, in the heat of battle... he panics.

Adam sends a pass directly up the middle of the Senators own zone.

You can probably guess with stunning accuracy what happens next.

The puck is intercepted by the dreaded Voyageurs who promptly bury it behind a stunned Fowler guarding the Riverview cage.

“DAMN!”. (Followed by expletives under one's breath).

Dieppe up by two with less than a minute to go.

Air escapes from the Senators balloon – both on and off the ice.

“Well, guess its game over in River City”.

Even an optimist like the Senators head coach knows there’s not enough time on the clock to come back from a two-goal deficit. And everyone else in the building knows it as well. The Voyageurs are high-fiving and celebrating and in that instant the coach knows how important it is to maintain composure and play hard to the end. (See RULE #1). Walking towards the defencemen side of our bench, the coach notices Adam as he is heading off the ice, skating wearily toward the door.

The non-verbals say it all.

Head bowed.

Shoulders hunched.

And you can see it in Adam’s face that he is visibly upset, knowing his miscue had just cost his team any chance of coming back. Instantly you can tell Adam looks like a kid who just wants to curl up and hide somewhere under a rock.

Watching this human drama unfold, the coach’s thoughts are racing.

“Gotta be careful and say exactly the right thing so as not to upset Adam’s already delicate psyche. I mean one ill-advised word and this emotionally-fragile kid is going to be turning on the tear tap. Who knows how many years of psychotherapy he might require to recover from the damage inflicted by his minor hockey coach? But, as his coach, Adam needs to realize what has happened and forever learns the lesson afforded by this teachable moment”.

“Just need to come up with the right words”.

As the coach is strolling over while collecting his thoughts, Adam comes through the door at the Sens bench only to be greeted by Josh who is now standing, getting ready to take his place on the shift change.

And 9-year old Josh utters words still frozen in time.

“Don’t worry about it Adam. It’s OK. We all make mistakes. The coach just wants us to do better the next time”.

And just like that, Josh nonchalantly skates away to take his place on the blueline for the upcoming face off.

Adam nods and takes his seat. Looks at least slightly relieved. Like part of the weight has been lifted.

The coach is left speechless.

Slowly and silently, he turns away from Adam, walking back to the other side of the bench.

Nothing more need be said.

Within the next thirty seconds or so, the coach allows a smile while mentally patting himself on the back.

“Hey some of this coaching must have rubbed off. I must be a crackerjack coach for Josh to be able to pull off something like that. Josh just applied RULE # 2. Never criticize a team-mate".

And for about a decade, that’s the story this coach told himself.

That he was the next Scotty Bowman, Pat Riley and Vince Lombardi, all rolled up into one.

Until one day, after a long overdue “comeuppance” followed by a massive “a-ha" revelation, the coach stared into a metaphorical mirror, mirror on the wall and plainly saw he was far from the fairest of them all. For whatever reason, it finally began to dawn on the coach what had really taken place that day back in March of 92.

He hadn’t taught Josh a thing.

The 9-year old had been doing the teaching all along.

With a single phrase.

“Don’t worry about it Adam. It’s OK. We all make mistakes”

Reflecting on what had really happened in that Riverview rink, the coach finally recognized many lessons from the way a 9-year old reacted in a pressure situation.

You see, Josh was just that kind of kid.

Always respectful, well-mannered; brought up by Doug and Marie, to look you in the eye when he shook your hand. Josh would later excel at his chosen sport, basketball, playing at the national collegiate level while earning academic honours and many accolades along the way. Eventually he would graduate from Lambton College and Mount Allison University with a doctorate in English before becoming a university professor. As it turns out, Josh had been preparing to be a teacher his whole life.

What can be learned from his exchange on the bench with Adam?

For openers, Josh didn’t point fingers.

You know yourself that when things go wrong (as they inevitably do), what is the standard human response? But, how much more difficult is it to restrain those verbal daggers when you're in the thick of an ultra-competitive situation, intensified by the roar of screaming fans? How many of us at the age of 29, 39 or 49 can resist the natural, human urge to wield the knife of blame when our team-mates – at work or at home - screw up?

Josh also helped restore a shattered team-mates confidence.

What he really said to Adam with that one gesture is “Hey your slate is clean”.

Can you think of the last time one of your team-mates – at work or at home - had the courage to show confidence in you during those moments, when deep down, you knew you plain blew it, dropped the ball or even fucked up royally?

But, it’s hardly fair to ask for things we’re not prepared to give, so ask this question. When was the last time you helped restore someone’s confidence? Is there an Adam in your life that needs you to stand up, go out of your way and find the right words to help wipe their slate clean?

When the chips were down – on something truly more important that winning or losing –it was Josh, of all people, who stood up. Isn’t that interesting? The least talented kid – one without a title or label - is the one who steps up, saying what needs to be said.

When it comes to the required qualities for leadership where is it etched in stone that those skills have anything to do with title, talent or tenure?

Or is leadership defined more appropriately and accurately by the way we think ... and the way we act?

Could the actions of a remarkable 9-year old demonstrate what it takes to be a leader in any organization?

Is there a way for you to rise above “normal” human tendencies to assign blame, play the victim or procrastinate and wait around for someone else to lead?

Most people see leadership as the act of leading others.

But, what if real leadership is really the act of leading ourselves?

With or without the label.

“Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work”

P.S. ... I have a feeling Robin Sharma's new book has a few stories that reflect the qualities Josh brings to the table.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Humble Howard

"Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them"

What is it about April 23rd when it comes to the passing of history's three greatest storytellers?

It was on this day in 1616, the most significant figure ever to put pen to paper in the English language passed on to another world at the age of 53. On the very same day in 1616, the greatest contributor to Spanish literature was also called to the heavens while in his 69th year.

And on this day in 1995, the greatest sports journalist to ever appear on camera, signed off for the final time at the age of 77.

As a sports-crazed boy glued to his TV set in the 70's, nobody on the air could hold Howard's microphone. He was the voice of "Monday Night Football"; pontificating even the mundane at such a bombastic level, one could never forget how he described plays such as a routine one-yard plunge by a San Diego Charger fullback.

"Right there Giffer, #37 Hank Bauer ... showing utter disregard for human life".

Howard was also famous for his role as a foil for so many of Muhammad Ali's greatest moments and for delivering the blow-by-blow articulation of some of boxing's greatest bouts.

On the anniversary of his death, I hope the Bard of the Broadcast Booth takes comfort in knowing his work has been compared in some respects to that of William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes.

The footage may be a little dated, but Humble Howard's legacy never grows old.

Howard Cosell.

You could call him a rarefied combination of quixotic journalistic zeal with a plethora of pomposity filtered through the spectrum of mass media.

Never reluctant to share even the most truculent of opinions, he was loved by some.

Loathed by others.

But, ignored by no one.

"What's right isn't always popular. What's popular isn't always right"

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Business from A to V

What is the life cycle of a successful business today?

"Successful",defined by staying on the S&P 500, is 18 years. That's less than two decades to launch, nurture and grow a company, a far cry compared to a lifespan of 30years in 1983 and 57 years in 1958.

Those sobering stats come from Mark W. Johnson, whose new book is called "Seizing the White Space: Business Model Innovation for Growth and Renewal." Given that harsh reality, Johnson spells out why he believes the name of the game today is building a brand capable of riding the waves of change that come with doing business in the Digital Economy.

Johnson believes Amazon is one of the best models of a modern brand.

Named after the largest river in the world, and growing from a trickle (books) to a veritable tsunami of items and services for sale, Amazon's initial goal was to include a product for every letter in the alphabet. Since launching with a splash in 1995, Amazon has grown to the largest online retailer in the world. From its roots as a Web-based bookstore, Amazon’s product line now includes movies, music, books (all digital or hard copies), plus computer software, video games, electronics, apparel, furniture, food, toys and a mind-boggling "much more." It operates standalone websites serving Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Japan, and China.

Right from the beginning, Amazon's ability to transform and anticipate shifting trends was embedded in the company's DNA. "If you want to continuously revitalize the service that you offer to your customers, you cannot stop at what you are good at," states Jeff Bezos, Amazon's CEO and founder. "You have to ask what your customers need and want, and then, no matter how hard it is, you better get good at those things."

Someone who shares that philosophy and has used it to extend the lifespan of his business is Richard Branson. His Virgin brand has a customer franchise that is so strong, it can be applied to a vast range of businesses.

The Virgin brand has been slapped on radio stations, record companies, retailers, airlines (such as Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Blue), mobile phone companies, broadband ISPs (Virgin Media), train services, motor vehicle sales, credit cards, loans, life insurance, car and pet insurance, home insurance, mortgages, pensions, savings and investments, music festivals, recreational experiences (such as using a sheep dog to herd a flock of sheep, and now space travel), network marketing businesses (e.g. Virgin Cosmetics), and much more.

And like Amazon, the Virgin brand is focused on delivering value pricing, great customer service, and innovation, and being authentic, people-oriented, hip, and associated with Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson and his personal reputation.

History shows many of the most successful brands were personally driven by a single person. Steve Jobs was both the inspiration and driving force behind Apple. Phil Knight lifted Nike, Howard Schultz spread the gospel according to Starbucks, Jeff Bezos personally crafted and Sir Richard Branson drove Virgin.

Bezos, Branson and people like them understand and apply a fundamental truth in making sure they extend the lifespan of their companies. It begins with how a company is defined in the first place.

Do you define your business by the products/serves you sell or by the customers you serve?

Choose the latter, develop a brand with which to communicate that message and there is no telling how long a business can last.

“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well. What's dangerous is not to evolve”

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Thinking Outside the Shoebox

Have you ever noticed how the best ideas are often the most simple?

PUMA did.

The third largest sportswear company in the world - behind Nike and Adidas - has come up with something so clever that it may not be long before the rest of the industry follows suit.

As you are about to discover, this shoebox is red on the outside, but green on the inside.

Management guru Peter Drucker once said, "Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship. The act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth". What makes the PUMA innovation truly remarkable is the number of customers who likely to start buying their shoes just for the bag.

Does it make you see PUMA differently?

Not just for the packaging, but for the way you view the brand?

"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower"

The Big Lie

You get to cast your vote for a new leader today and only your vote counts.

Here are the facts about the top three candidates.

Candidate A - Hangs out with crooked politicians, and consults with astrologists. A man who fancies the ladies, he's had not one, but two mistresses. A chain-smoker, he sips on about 8 to 10 martinis a day.

Candidate B - Was booted from office twice, sleeps until noon and used opium in college. An opinionated, cantankerous sort, he has loud arguments with his wife and drinks a quart of whiskey every evening.

Candidate C - Is a decorated war hero and best-selling author. He's also a vegetarian who doesn't smoke and only drinks an occasional beer. He has never cheated on his wife.

As you already know, appearances can be deceiving.

In this case, Candidates A and B represent what history considers two of the finest democratic leaders ever to emerge; Franklin D. Roosevelet and Winston Churchill. They were the leaders who halted a raving lunatic - Candidate C - from taking over the entire planet.

On this day, in 1889, Candidate C was born in Linz, Austria and his brand of megalomania has endured like few before or since. Perhaps, it was because Candidate C had a clear understanding of the power of "The Big Lie". As he openly admitted in Chapter Ten of his book, "In the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously".

Few leaders in history have ever distorted truth like Candidate C as he compared his country's plight to the prosperity enjoyed by the British Empire.

Candidate C was convinced that people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if repeated frequently enough, sooner or later people will believe it. This may be difficult for some to digest, but as Churchill once stated, "Personally I'm always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught".

Is there an element of truth in Candidate C's opinion?

How else does one explain how otherwise ordinary, honest, hard-working citizens be so misled as to follow a path of utter destruction towards the horrors of the Holocaust?

Appearances can be deceiving.

Underlying truths take a certain amount of effort to detect.

"How fortunate for leaders that men do not think”

p.s. ... Given the seriousness of this topic today, and the controversy it may generate, it may help to bring a little levity into the picture.

WARNING: This video may offend everyone from Realtors to speculators reeling from the housing credit carnage. If you decide to proceed, and insist on watching, TSB recommends you adjust your sensitivity meter to the "off" position.

In yet another case of an online parody taking on a life of its own, hundreds of web pranksters are dubbing over a scene from the movie Downfall. Released in 2004, the Oscar-nominated picture depicts the final 12 days of an agitated leader who clearly sees the writing on the bunker wall.

The Downfall clip has been remixed almost 100 times, lampooning everyone from the New England Patriots, to gamers banned from Microsoft's Xbox, football star Cristiano Ronaldo leaving Manchester United, Barack Obama giving a speech in Berlin and being forced to see an Adam Sandler movie.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Real Life Learning

Last week in this space, we introduced the story of a 14-year old boy attending a business seminar.

Today, that story continues to unfold with a note from Mom. A quiet, dignified woman, she has has been home-schooling her boy over the last several years and thought he would benefit from being by her side as she explored the idea of launching a new business venture.

Here is what she wrote:

Subject: Business Development Seminars
Dear Gair,

Thank you for the time you shared with us at the Business Development Seminar last week. Your seminar was one of the most motivating and realistic seminars I have ever been to. (the only other one equally motivating and realistic was Paula Morands) I left that day with some realistic visions and goals in mind. Within one week I have several leads and I am very excited about my venture.

This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for Tyson to learn what the real world is all about at his age. I am so proud of my son and I see him so motivated by this weeks sessions. I want to share with you that the episode with Eric at the beginning of the day was a real life lesson that Tyson needed to see. It could not have been more perfect had it been planned. For the past few years Tyson has been struggling with authority figures and does not like to be told what to do. Now I know your thinking about how respectful he was and mature, however in real life when things get tough for Tyson he tends to get mouthy. I have tried explaining to him for years that in the real world in order to hold a job or work with peers you will need to respect them and yes, do things at times you may not want to do. So when we left that day, on the way home, he says to me.."I don't want to be like that guy, he really had an attitude problem" It taught him so much about what happens in the real world when you do not respect people in any setting.

He was pretty overwhelmed by the end of the seminars but came out a better man and has really grown in the experience. He thought it was awesome that you wrote about him in your blog. I posted it to my facebook. He's an awesome son with many gifts beyond his years.

We need to finish up some of the sessions we missed next month in May, we may stop in for yours again :)

Sincerely, hoping that you have had a wonderful week and that your able to do something relaxing this weekend. You deserve it.

PS I used your facebook because the email address I had for you wasn't working, hope you do not mind

Today, Mom needs to know how awesome she is for introducing Tyson to the kind of experiences few of his peers will ever enjoy. Mom is pretty awesome herself, especially in the face of some of the criticism she has endured (typically behind her back) for daring to defy conventional wisdom by traveling the home-schooling route.

What this Mom needs to know, more than anything, is how forward thinking she is for wanting her boy to emerge as a "Linchpin".

More than just a catchy title for Seth Godin's new book, "Linchpin" serves as a personal manifesto for what you can expect in terms of your chosen career in the 21st century. In my opinion, "Linchpin" may be Seth's finest work to date and a large part of the book entails a deeper understanding of what Tyson's mom already knows.

In a recent interview with Lee Stranahan, Godin explains how the factory model of education called school - where kids like Tyson are lumped in batches called grades - is woefully inept in terms of preparing children to navigate these turbulent times.

Typically, upwards of 70% of the North American working population is doing work they would rather not do. Surrendering the better and best part of their day performing a role that in no way speaks to who they really are. And like the cogs in the machine they have been trained to become, the majority will refuse to look up from their desk long enough to pay attention to messages like the one Seth Godin is delivering in "Linchpin".

But, thanks to a mother who sees the future differently than most, 14-year old Tyson will, hopefully, fall out of that category. Thanks to Mom, he has a better opportunity than most to live out his hopes and dreams on his terms.

And discover his Personal Legend.

"Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dream"

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Man Cry

“I don’t normally shed tears over wins, and when Amy and I hugged off 18, that was a very emotional moment for us and something that I’ll look back on and just cherish”

When Phil Mickelson won the legendary Masters golf tournament last Sunday afternoon, viewers saw the side of a manly man few ever get to witness.

After draining the final putt on the 18th green, a teary-eyed Mickelson embraced his cancer-stricken wife Amy who had managed to get out of her sick bed to celebrate her man's victory, along with their three children.

Television viewers saw a deeply emotional Mickelson, who didn’t know whether Amy would be able to make it there or not, stop for what seemed an eternity, as an elusive tear rolled down his left cheek while hugging a woman he so clearly loves.

That tear labelled as "elusive" only because we're not accustomed to seeing men openly weep in public.

Men, afterall, are the less emotional sex. Supposed to be bastions of stability; the rock in the middle of any storm; cool as cucumbers regardless of circumstance. Displays of emotion through crying is not something men do. Hearts are not something to be worn on sleeves. True feelings are boarded up and barricaded; protected by invisible fortresses, steep and mighty.

But Mickelson is the kind of guy who has never been afraid to show what he feels for his family. For example, he skipped last year’s British Open to stay with his wife during her first round of breast cancer treatments.

Not only did Phil win a prestigious golf tournament in storybook fashion, he may have re-opened the debate on the social acceptability of the "Man Cry".

Men have always cried. Yet acceptance has varied over generations and across culture. A University of California study in 2001 indicated 65% of men said they almost never cried, whereas 63% of women said they cried occasionally and 18% frequently. There was also a significant difference in the type of tears. Most women described how they cried as “real sobbing and bawling”, or “slight sobbing and shaking”. The majority of men confessed only to “red eye and a tear or two”, or “feel like crying but no visible sign”.

That's why most men relate to what Tom Hanks once famously explained, playing the character of whisky-soaked baseball manager Jimmy Dugan in "A League of Their Own"... "There's no crying in baseball!"

While we still expect men to cry less than women, many see tears as a proof that a man is sensitive and humble and thus well rounded. In fact, a recent study from Penn State University suggests tears are becoming more acceptable for men and less so for women. The study, using a sample of 284 people, found that men were judged much more positively for crying than women. Men were seen as expressing honest emotion where women were seen as out of control. Professor Tom Lutz, of the University of California, Riverside, says it explains why male politicians can allow themselves the occasional tear, whereas women cannot. A man is seen as strong and unemotional, so crying hints at depth. A woman politician has to portray herself as tough to succeed. So when a woman cries it tells us her toughness was just a front and she is really too soft underneath.

So as we head into the weekend, feel free to grab a box of tissue and enjoy seeing the more emotional sensitive side of some famous men; superstar athletes like Phil Mickelson who, at one time, allowed the world a glimpse of what they were feeling.

Today, we present the TSB version of the "Top 5 Man Cries in Pro Sports"

#5. Terrell Owens

The Dallas Cowboys receiver struggles with a heart-breaking playoff loss to the Giants.

#4. Kevin Garnett

The Minnesota Timberwolves star turns on the waterworks in frustration over a disappointing season and the collapse of a once-contending team. The emotion really starts to bubble over at about the 4:00 mark and makes for riveting television.

#3. Mark McGwire

The St. Louis Cardinals star struggles with his public admission over steroid use.

#2. Michael Irvin

The Dallas Cowboys receiver exorcises personal demons during his Hall-of-Fame acceptance speech in Canton, Ohio.

and finally, the most famous "Man Cry" in pro sports history ... August 9, 1988.

The day the Edmonton Oilers traded the Great One to the Los Angeles Kings.

#1. Wayne Gretzky

"One's suffering disappears when one lets oneself go, when one yields - even to sadness"

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Social Media: The Seven Deadly Sins

Beginning in the early part of the 14th century - long before Twitter was contemplated - many European artists helped ingrain the popularity of the "7 Deadly Sins" into many areas of Catholic culture. Soon, those sins spread into the general consciousness throughout the world.

In case you were wondering, or maybe they just slipped your mind, the final version of the list looks like this:

- Anger
- Greed
- Sloth
- Vanity
- Lust
- Envy
- Gluttony

Regretfully, social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace have become a cesspool for transgressions to manifest on-line. Which is not a knock against the platforms themselves, but more of a critical observation of the manner in which technology is being used and abused.

Consider if you will, the TSB version of the "7 Deadly Sins of Social Media":

#1. The Gluttony of Over-Posting

Don't you think communication is about quality rather than quantity? Anyone tweeting more than twenty times a day either has too much time on their hands or is far too anxious to share far too much. You want to add value to the communities you join, not push, shove or shout your way in.

#2. The Sloth of Inconsistency

Either engage consistently on a daily or weekly basis or drop out altogether. It's a marathon not a sprint. If you're plastered all over Facebook for a month and then drop out of sight for a month, your friends or followers won't know if you are comng or going. It is about being engaged and creating engagement. Too many, however, put up a profile and expect followers/friends/fans without putting in any effort.

#3. The Greed of Spamming for Dollars

If your posts, tweets or FB updates are primarily geared towards pitching your own products or services, people tune out sooner or later. Share ideas. Don't sell. Remember, social media is not about selling but rather about engaging in a conversation that adds value. One of the very best in the on-line world is Chris Brogan, who is encouraging you not to be "that guy".

As Chris once explained, "Content marketing is the ability to produce useful and entertaining information that is worthwhile on its own, but that might also be useful towards a sale or subsequent action. Why spend time, money, and creative effort making fake, glossy, slick pieces of marketing material when something honest and informative and entertaining would likely do a better job?"

#4. The Vanity of Me and Only Me

People who focus on their efforts to quit smoking, their lack of sleep, day care issues and the latest asshole to cut them off in traffic bore the hell out of most of us. Even worse, is when private family information is revealed in a continuous, drama-filled, self-absorbed way. If you are going to engage in social media ask if your posts or updates are actually interesting to someone other than your mom or your cat. Social media is about contributing. Giving and offering advice, insight and information that has value.

#5. Lusting for "Friends"

Don't be one of those who starts “friending” everyone with a pulse. Or worse, making what amounts to a marriage proposal on the first Facebook message. Seriously. Lusting after people like that only gets you labeled as desperate. Keep it in your on-line pants and connect with people you have already met.

#6. The Sour Grapes of Wrath

Is anyone ever inspired by uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger? Motivated by a stream of vile meant only to tear someone or something down? If you do feel wronged, do everything in your power to take the high road and resist publicly lashing an individual or company. If you're genuinely pissed off, compose a Word document, take an Advil, sleep on it and come back the next day to see if it's still a good idea to post it.

#7. The Envy of Others Success

Why does it matter that so-and-so has a ton of followers on Twitter, the best articles on the front of Digg or the largest group on Facebook? Forget about the head start someone else has. Resenting the success of others won't get you where you need to go. And don't try and be anyone other than yourself. As Gary Vaynerchuck mentioned recently while promoting his book "Crush It!", "If you’re passionate about what you do, a wonderful personality will shine through even the fairest of wallflowers". In other words, this doesn’t mean you need to be GaryVee or try to act like him.

From a business perspective, social media is simply another marketing tool.

No different than a pen or a pencil.

But, before you pick up a pen to write, it is a good idea to know what you are writing about or at least who you are writing to.

And just because you write something, it doesn't mean you deserve to attract a million followers or a six-figure book deal.

In the world of social media, will you live on the dark side and annoy those who cross your path?

Or, will you become a valued contributor and a force for good?

"Don't drink hateraid. Spending any amount of energy on bullshit hateraid is ludicrous and a total waste of time"

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Three Lessons in Huggable Branding

Your brand is your company’s personality.

It’s a story - good, bad or indifferent - embedded in the mind of the market, carrying whispers of a promise of what you bring to customers.

Good, bad or indifferent.

It’s a story people will either fall in love with, casually ignore or reject like a loser boyfriend. But, if you are serious about building a brand customers want to fall in love with and marry, you can begin by avoiding these three common branding mistakes.

#1. Trying to be all things to all people

Hate to break it to you princess, but not everyone is going to like you. Get over it and fast. Not everyone will think you’re the best at what you do, and many just won't care. Instead of trying to please everyone, focus on a segment that will actually connect with your "story". And love you for it.

#2. Trying to build a brand overnight

Unlike FedEx, your brand will not positively, absolutely get there overnight. It will require time and patience to develop your "story", determining what makes it unique. If you're looking for the quick fix, forget it. Just remember, most of your competitors are obsessed with short-term booty call results. Why think the way they do? You're better than that.

#3. Trying to win on price A brand strategy based on offering the cheapest prices is almost always a losing battle. It becomes a race to the bottom as competitors drop their prices to match yours, creating a downward spiral to see how low you can go. Profits shrink to the size of crumbs and now you have to ask whether those morsels are worth fighting for. Instead of focusing on price, focus on offering value and something remarkably different in the way of an authentic "story" customers can believe in.

Few small businesses avoid these common mistakes better than Jim Gilbert's Wheels & Deals, otherwise known as "Canada's Huggable Car Dealer".

There might be 22 other car dealers in the Fredericton, N.B. market, but only one that calls itself "Huggable" ... and has the imagination and courage to do so.

And while this "story" might not connect with everyone, it does resonate with a large enough customer segment that has created staggering growth for Jim's dealership since the re-brand first unfolded back in September of 2006.

And, as the owner and Chief Visionary Officer, Jim has displayed the necessary patience to let those results happen.

Will you?

"Building a brand ain't about selling four wheels and a piece of tin. Look around you. Everyone's got four wheels and a piece of tin"

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

An Entrepreneur Waiting to Happen?

"I've got a job, I explore, I follow every little whiff
And I want my life to smell like this
To find a place, an ancient race
The kind you'd like to gamble with
Where they'd stamp on burning bags of shit.
Looking for a place to happen
making stops along the way"


14-year old Tyson is sitting in the front row of a business seminar, wondering what he has got himself into.

Tyson is with his mother. Together, they are learning what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur. In other words, what will be required to own and operate a business that turns a profit, employs people and supplies a valued product or service to a growing community of customers.

By the lunch break, it becomes abundantly clear that Tyson has never been exposed to this brand of instruction in the factory model of education called school.

But, neither has anyone else in the room.

Typically, audiences at these seminars, are dominated by former employees with about 20-years experience looking to transition to life as an entrepreneur. And unlike Tyson, their experience actually works against them. Many start to feel like New Orleans is sinking as they begin to realize the pain involved with unlearning everything they think they already know.

Sadly, Tyson and others like him, are offered little or nothing within the framework of the traditional school system that could equip entrepreneurs of the future. Fortunately, there are entrepreneurial champions speaking a different educational language with an increasingly louder voice.

One of the best is the former Chief Operating Officer of 1-800-GOT-JUNK.

Regarded as one of the top public relations experts in all of North America, Cameron Herold is inspiring audiences all over the world with his message on entrepreneurship.

And how it trickles down to a 14-year old like Tyson.

What Cameron Herold and other great entrepreneurs understand is how Tyson and others like him just might be looking for a place to happen. And need some valuable lessons along the way.

Lessons such as:

- Entrepreneurs see opportunities everywhere they look, unlike the majority of people who only see problems.
- Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won't, so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can't.
- Entrepreneurship. It is where you learn the only place "success" comes before "work", is in the dictionary.

The best reason to become an entrepreneur, build companies and hire people is to make meaning - not money.

Its about creating products and/or services that make our world a better place.

For kids like Tyson.

"The cover-your-butt mentality of the workplace will get you only so far. The follow-your-gut mentality of the entrepreneur has the potential to take you anywhere you want to go or run you right out of business--but it's a whole lot more fun, don't you think?"
BILL RANCIC, "The Apprentice"

Monday, April 12, 2010

Marathon Partnership

Have you ever noticed how much our culture focuses far too heavily on the one?

The CEO, the MVP, the leading man or lady.

But the fact is, none of us work alone, and we all do better when we work with others.

Much better.

Sir Edmund Hillary didn't climb Everest alone in 1953. He was joined at the hip with Tenzing Norgay.

Bill Gates had Paul Allen. Steve Jobs had Steve Wozniak. Bill Hewlett had David Packard.

Mick Jagger had Keith Richards. Jimmy Page had Robert Plant. Steven Tyler had Joe Perry.

Wayne Gretzky had Mark Messier. Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen. Joe Montana had Jerry Rice.

Brooks had Dunn, Sonny had Cher and Oprah still has Gayle.

Study the pattern of every great individual success story and you will discover a hidden story of collaboration.

Call it the "POWER OF 2".

But why do some partnerships succeed while others fail?

After five years of research, Gallup experts Rodd Wagner and Dr. Gale Muller crack the code for creating the most successful partnerships with POWER OF 2: How to Make the Most of Your Partnerships at Work and in Life. As they explain in their best-selling book, Wagner and Muller discovered, "In the workplace, employees with just one collaborative relationship are 29% more likely to say they will stay with their company for the next year and 42% more likely to intend to remain with their current employer for their entire career, compared to those with no partnerships." Those who are well-partnered are also much more engaged: "They generate higher customer scores and better safety, retention, creativity, productivity, and profitability for the business -- and a greater level of happiness for themselves."

Such partnerships are all too rare.

In fact, Wagner and Muller found 16% of us report they don't have a partnership at work, and nearly one-quarter say they've never had a great partnership at work. Perhaps it's because of a cultural bias that leads us to believe a person has to be all things to all people. Be good with math. Be a good writer. A good speaker with excellent communication and interpersonal skills. Be a good project manager, strategist, prioritizer and planner.

But have you noticed, human nature just doesn't work that way. Most people have some of those abilities but not all of them. And if you really stop to look around, you will discover, more often than not, one of your colleagues will possess a missing piece of the puzzle you lack.

For Terry, three decades ago, that missing piece was Doug Alward.

It is only appropriate we're talking about Doug today and the collaborative effort he brought to one of the greatest accomplishments this country has ever witnessed. Exactly 30 years ago today, Doug went along for the ride with his best friend and watched a Marathon of Hope unfold when Terry dipped his toe into bone-chilling waters in St. John's, Newfoundland. Doug wasn't in it for the glory and he didn't do the type of work Terry did, but he was there collaborating and contributing every step of the way before the final race was run that September in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

POWER OF 2 partnerships are rare.

But, not impossible.

"I know that you can do the impossible”

Friday, April 9, 2010

Snider Says

As a child, David sang in the church choir.

By the eighth grade, he was in a Black Sabbath cover band.

In the mid-seventies David joined a New York-based quintet that toiled in relative obscurity until hitting pay dirt in 1984 with an album titled "Stay Hungry". Millions of record sales later, David becomes personal friends with Ozzy, Gene Simmons and professional wrestler Mick Foley, among others. He even wrote a song entitled "The Magic of Christmas Day (God Bless Us Everyone)" which Celine Dion recorded for her album "These Are Special Times".

Eventually, this opinionated and oft- quoted performer would be ranked #83 in the Hit Parader's Top 100 Metal Vocalist of All Time.

David Daniel "Dee" Snider.

Married since 1981 to his wife Suzette, and a father of four, Dee Snider can be found these days on the Sirius Satellite Radio channel as well as where he is never shy about sharing his thoughts on a wide variety of subjects.

And just to wrap up the week, here is one of Dee Snider's favorite rock and roll "war stories"

"I went for an outrageous form of expressing myself. It seemed to be a way that I could make my name and show that I was somebody"

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Earl and Tiger

As Tiger Woods returns to professional golf today at The Masters, his longtime sponsor has made a bold statement.

Watch this.

As you may have gathered, this ad features the voice of the golfer’s late father, Earl Woods and says a lot about Tiger's current personal situation. And while brands such as Accenture and AT&T turned their back on Tiger and dropped him like a bad habit, Nike has stood by their main man.

Does the fact Nike dares to make such a stance explain why Nike is among the most revered and valued brands in the world?

Clearly, Nike is not taking the safe, conservative route.

But isn't that what makes great brands great?

"For many my behavior has been a major disappointment, my behavior has caused considerable worry to my business partners, and everyone involved in my business, but most importantly to the young people we influence, I apologize"

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Are You Coachable?

You may have seen this movie before.

Maybe you had a front row seat.

Or maybe it was you up there on the silver screen.

Picture somebody at a career crossroads, ready to embark on a new professional adventure. The leading man or lady in this film is bubbling with enthusiasm, bursting with anticipation for what comes next. When asked by their prospective coach, "Are you willing to do whatever it takes to make it?" the answer comes hurtling from their lips like a laser.


Regretfully, within a matter of weeks or months, this wide-eyed, shiny face optimism is far too often replaced by the pained expression of hopes and dreams gone sour.

"What have I gotten myself into?"

The coach and the business or endeavour once admired, respected and believed in, is now looked upon as nothing more than an additional prick in a growing number of mental, emotional and financial thorns. Blue-sky dreaming has been replaced by haunting nightmares of impending doom.

Have you ever wondered why so many business movies turn out this way?

Part of the answer lies in a clear definition of "coaching" itself.

If you were to Google the question, "What is Coaching" you will discover many and sundry answers from a wide range of professional organizations. Unfortunately, the majority of those definitions tend to be buzzword-heavy, leaving both coaches and their students to languish in theoretical la-la land.

After more than two decades of front-line, in-the-trenches coaching in both athletic and business environments, here is a definition to consider:

"Coaching is creating a safe environment for human potential to flourish, with success measured by doing your best within a process that demands complete accountability".

- Through a "safe environment", a coach ensures support is unconditional. It is the only relationship that is 100% about the player.

- "Doing your best" makes it clear the student will not be measured against the skills and talents of another.

- "Complete accountability" clarifies the role of the player in making sure tasks are taken care of.

However, you can have all the clarity you want on terms and definitions, yet one fact remains:

Certain people are simply NOT coachable.

They talk a good game, but nothing more. Nada. That's where commitment to the coaching process comes to a screeching halt.

And there is a reason for that.

Coaching is NOT therapy.

The best coaches recognized long ago, they are not there to help dig up past traumas so students and players can wallow in addictions to bad memories. The best coaches provide a road map to the future along with guidance and support, but ultimately step out of the way and let you do the work.

You could have Anthony Robbins, Scotty Bowman, Suze Orman, John Wooden, Pat Riley, Sean Payton plus the ghosts of Vince Lombardi, Herb Brooks and Knute Rockne coaching you and their efforts will prove futile unless ... you do the work.

Hollywood figured that out long ago.

Whether you are a coach or a player, do you recognize the difference between interest and commitment?

Being merely interested means doing something only when circumstances permit.

Being committed means, you accept no excuses, only results.

Will you do the work?

"It's easy to fool the eye but it's hard to fool the heart"

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Innocent Climb

You may have heard this expression, or seen it plastered on the walls of a high school locker room:

On a Team ... Together Everyone Achieves More!

When teams do work well, as in the above photo, this is precisely what happens.

Together, Everyone DOES Achieve More.

But, that's the end result. The prize. Not the process. And when you stop and think about it, the slogan offers little or nothing about what individuals need to know to achieve that.

Everywhere you turn, you'll discover - whether you signed up or not - you're on a team. There are teams at home. Teams at work. Teams at school, church and throughout the community you call yours. Growing up you may have heard how important it was to be a "team player" and how vital it was to your ultimate success, but where exactly do you learn to refine these essential skills?

One of the best handbooks ever written on the subject comes from a guy who has "been there, done that".

The son of a minor-league baseball player, Pat grew up in Schenectady, New York where he starred as a high school basketball player at Linton High School. On December 29, 1961, Pat and his Linton High mates pulled off the unthinkable, beating heavily favored Power Memorial which featured the best high school player in the country, Lew Alcindor (who later changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). As fate would have it, Pat and Kareem would get to know each other very well in the NBA.

What Pat lacked in natural ability, he more than made up in work ethic and after a career as a bench player, he moved on to become the head coach of a juggernaut that would become known as "Showtime". In doing so, Pat established himself as one of the great coaches in sports history and while winning championships with the L.A. Lakers and the Miami Heat, learned some valuable lessons about teamwork along the way. As he puts it, "All of my contacts and experiences have proved to me, over and over again, that the complex inner rhythms of teamwork - flows of ambition, power, cooperation, and emotion - are the keys to making dreams come true".

Pat's best-selling book, "The Winner Within", chronicle's key elements in the journey of any successful team.

Beginning with The Innocent Climb.

In this context, Innocence means understanding the team comes first and being willing to be carried along by that. Innocence doesn’t mean being naive. But it does require humility to see that teamwork and all of its benefits only happen when EVERYONE puts the team first and conquers the territorial instinct otherwise known as The Disease of Me. Were it not for The Innocent Climb, it would have been impossible for Pat to teach Kareem, Magic Johnson and some of the greatest players in the league to play as a team and not as individuals.

Maybe your team at work or at home is no different.

Perhaps you are surrounded by players who always want the ball. All of the attention. All of the glory.

But somehow, Pat's Lakers overcame all that, so much so that Magic Johnson became the first player in NBA history to give money back to his team so they would be able to sign a new role player to help win a championship.

Pat Riley has coached 5 NBA champions and has earned a spot in the Hall of Fame because he understood the magic of the The Innocent Climb.

In basketball, teamwork is the key to success, but according to Pat Riley, it’s the key to life as well. And right about now, you might be asking:

How does a struggling team form a covenant to work together in our lady peace instead of separately as rival factions?

How does a successful team battle complacency?

How does any team overcome the thunderbolts that strike out of the blue?

The lessons taught in "The Winner Within" apply to business, family relationships and any atmosphere where cooperation is required for success. Whether its at home , at the office or on the basketball court, teamwork is an essential part of everything we do.

And it all begins with The Innocent Climb.

Are you ready to take that first step?

"Ask not what your teammates can do for you. Ask what you can do for your teammates"

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Easter Angels. Broken.

"When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realised God doesn’t work that way, so I stole one and prayed for forgiveness" EMO PHILLIPS

Have you ever noticed how relationships are like glass?

When fractured or broken, do you leave relationships that way or risk hurting yourself in putting them back together?

This complicated adult stuff never concerned us when you and I were little kids; when skinned knees were easier to fix than broken hearts.

Today, TSB is focused on the painting at the top of this post.

Graffiti Angel. Broken.

The piece is a product of a famous British graffiti master known as "Banksy".

He is the kind of guy who was once quoted as saying "Think outside the box, collapse the box, and take a fucking sharp knife to it". Asked about his technique, Banksy explains, “I use whatever it takes. Sometimes that just means drawing a moustache on a girl's face on some billboard". His utter disregard for the conventional has him involved in a number of incidents including walking into the Louvre in Paris and hanging a portrait resembling the Mona Lisa but with a yellow smiley face.

"The thing I hate the most about advertising is that it attracts all the bright, creative and ambitious young people, leaving us mainly with the slow and self-obsessed to become our artists. Modern art is a disaster area. Never in the field of human history has so much been used by so many to say so little"

Banksy has an edge.

But if you study the painting above, he also has a heart.

Interpret what you want, but while heartache can be numbed by the old black rum, great works of art are like a shot glass for the soul; transcending pain for peace. Have you ever wondered what it is about the work of great artists, poets or musicians that can drill into the oil of our emotions, causing us to gush with feelings never otherwise expressed?

Study the painting again.

Take a good thirty seconds.

Allow yourself to see your own reflection and other angels encountered along the way.

Has Banksy captured a part of you that aches for a healing far too painful to attempt, lest the other person know the size of the hole in your world? Is there a darkness you constantly drift through by day and spiral into at night?

Thankfully, there are artists that find a way to celebrate sorrow, yet somehow lift wuthering spirits to new heights.

We are all broken in some way.

Few knew it better than Ray.

Ray Charles was blinded at six and orphaned at fifteen before overcoming tragedy and poverty to achieve respect, fame and wealth. Although hugely successful in his professional life, Ray never hit the jackpot in private. If Ray was on Facebook he would describe his status as "complicated", as he experienced two divorces and fathered a dozen children with nine different women. Much of his greatest music is thought to be a reflection of those broken shards of relationship glass.

Shortly before he died, Ray gathered his kids at a 2004 Christmas dinner, handing each of them a check for one million dollars. One of his kids recalled, "My dad talked about how they always wait until a person passes. He said, 'Why do that? I'll give it to you now so you can build on that now. It wasn't publicized because he was a very private man."

Hopes and hearts are fragile.

Relationships and angels easily shattered.

Yet artists like Banksy and Ray demonstrate how pain can be converted into joy and darkness converts into light.

As the Easter weekend approaches, do you need to be more protective of the angels surrounding you? Is it possible you could let a broken one - an angel you can't stop loving - know yet again, he or she is not alone? Perhaps now is a good as time as any to send distant angels a message; letting them know how high they were meant to fly.

Easter says truth can be buried in a grave, but it won't stay.

Easter provides us yet another opportunity to rise again.

And communicate "I Can't Stop Loving You" with whatever words and actions necessary.

How about we do our best this weekend, reach out to our angels and share that message with whatever means possible.

Do we have a deal?

"Angels, roll the rock away;
Death, yield up thy mighty prey:
See, He rises from the tomb,
Glowing with immortal bloom"

THOMAS SCOTT, Easter Angels

P.S. ... Inspired by Ray, a couple of Dutch brothers - angels broken many times over - were able to share the same message in a different way.

P.P.S. ... With the Easter holiday beginning tomorrow, TSB will take some time off before reviving the "each business day" posting schedule on Tuesday, April 6th.