Monday, August 30, 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"

Originally posted April 19, 2010

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Majumder by the Numbers

Is this a case of being cryptically clairvoyant - Canadian style?

Having a penchant for puckology prognostication?

"This Hour Has 22 Minutes" star Shaun Majumder may well have established himself as the undisputed Shaman of Shinny with an eerily accurate forecast at a pre-Olympic press conference. Taking number-crunching to an entirely new level, Majumder was not only balls-on right, but he also managed to upstage none other than Canada's #1 hockey hero - Sidney Crosby.

For the record, since this blog has been posted on March 26th, all one has to do is stare plain facts in the face and do the math.

Since March is the third month, look what happens when you add the number three to the number 26.

You wind up with 29.

Take the 29 and multiply it by three - the universally accepted number representing energy - and what do you come up with?


Is this just mere coincidence?

Or the sign of yet another Olmpian-level omen perhaps?

Are you as speechless as Sid the Kid right now?

"In my small hometown of Burlington,Newfoundland, you could put together five or six comedy groups.All you have to say is 'okay, siddown b'ys, an' we're gonna write some skitches,' and they would do it. Sometimes I think about what I'm doing now, and I'm doing the exact same thing I did when I was five years old. And they want to pay me for it. It's just make believe and being silly, but I think people forget how to be silly because of adulthood. When you do that, you're just robbing yourself of all that fun"

Originally posted March 26, 2010

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Three Lessons in Huggable Branding

Your brand is a story that reflects your company’s personality.

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

Good, bad or indifferent.

It’s a story people will either fall head over heels for, casually ignore or reject like a loser boyfriend. But, if you are serious about building a brand customers want to fall in love with begin a serious, long-term relationship with, 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 "Huggable"re-brand 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"

Originally posted April 14, 2010

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Monday, August 23, 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 there 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. Tragically, their experience often 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.

Fully, completely.

For kids like Tyson.

And maybe a kid like you.

"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"

Originally posted April 13, 2010

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Under the Covers is playing from a friend's computer the other day when the strains of a familiar melody ooze from the speakers.

But, something is different.

The Jewel version of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" is another example of an artist putting their own spin on a song that inspires them. Whether their cover version is any good is a whole other story and anyone who saw Celine Dion trying to belt out AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long" will know what we're talking about.

Cover songs can help take a career to new level as was the case with The Beatles and their 1963 version of "Twist and Shout", originally recorded by the Isley Brothers three years earlier. The Fab Four recorded their version in a single take for their debut album – and the world changed. John Lennon's lead vocal sounds as raw and urgent as a live concert, a gritty departure from the techno-driven, computerised sounds of today.

So what makes a great cover song? Is it a seamless, letter-perfect rendition of the original? How far it can be twisted from the original while still maintaining the song’s essence? Or is about putting that unmistakable personal stamp on it?

Just for a little Friday fun, let's reflect on what might be considered as the TSB "Top 5 Cover Songs" of all time. "Crossroads" by late sixties power trio Cream merits consideration after it was first recorded by blues legend Robert Johnson in 1936. Aretha Franklin hit "Respect" out of the park in 1967, taking the Otis Redding original and turning it into a girl power anthem. Manfred Mann Earth Band lifted "Blinded by the Light" to new heights after the Bruce Springsteen original failed to chart. And let's not forget the way Billy Idol was able to energize "Mony Mony" with a rebel yell; a far cry from the bubblegum original performed by Tommy James and the Shondells in 1968.

Other numbers that warranted consideration were Metallica's version of bob Seger's "Turn the Page", the Elvis rendition of "Hound Dog" as well as Cheap Trick taking a page from Elvis with "Don't Be Cruel".

So after much thought, reflection and the odd semi-heated debate, here are the official, TSB Top 5 Cover Songs of all time:

#5. "American Woman" - LENNY KRAVITZ

Canadian rockers The Guess Who, featuring the songwriting team of Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings soared to the top of the charts in 1970, before Lenny Kravitz reworked it with some of his magic in 1998.

#4. "Hurt" - JOHNNY CASH

Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails wrote it, but "The Man in Black" made it his own with heartfelt sincerity and meaning.

#3. "You Really Got Me" - VAN HALEN

The Kinks helped accelerate the "British Invasion" of 1964, but Eddie Van Halen cranked it up with this blistering version in the late seventies and changed guitar rock guitar forever. Van Halen also took a number of other originals to the mean streets such as Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman" and Linda Ronstadt's, "You're No Good".

#2. "Me and Bobby McGee" - JANIS JOPLIN

Kristofferson wrote it, but Joplin turned it into a classic and became a legend in the process.

And finally ... the most coveted position on this countdown, goes to the cover version of a song that inspired the entire genre known as Hop Hop with an assist from Aerosmith.

#1. "Walk This Way" - RUN-DMC

"The thing about hip-hop is that it's from the underground, ideas from the underbelly, from people who have mostly been locked out, who have not been recognized"

Originally posted March 19, 2010

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What Makes You a Linchpin?

"Take away my people, but leave my factories and soon grass will grow on the factory floors. Take away my factories, but leave my people and soon we will have a new and better factory"

When it comes to operating machinery, linchpins are essential.

A linchpin is a fastener used to prevent a wheel or other rotating part from sliding off the axle it is riding on. Remove the linchpin, the mechanism collapses.

Within organizations, some people - not many - emerge as linchpins. You could also call them anchors, backbones and mainstays.

Can you think of an individual right now who you would consider to be a linchpin? A central, source of steady support and stability?

In terms of leading edge thinking, few linchpins compare to Seth Godin. In his latest book, Seth makes a compelling case for developing yourself as a potential linchpin against the backdrop of a rapidly changing workplace. Godin argues it was easier, even expected that you could hide behind your Indistrial Economy job in exchange for job security. As he puts it, “You weren’t born to be a cog in the giant industrial machine. You were trained to become a cog".

But things have changed and today, successful organizations are on the hunt for people who make a difference.


Seth Godin has laid it out in plain English.

Most organizations currently have it backwards. The factory, the infrastructure, systems, patents, process, and let's not forget the ops manual are elevated, worshipped and placed on pedestals.

But, what if success in the Digital Economy depends on something else?


How close are you to becoming one in the workplace animal kingdom?

Will you stay huddled with the masses of bleating sheep?

Or charge ahead with the few roaring tigers?

"It turns out that success is coming from the atypical organizations, the ones that can get back to embracing irreplaceable people, the linchpins, the ones that make a difference. Anything else can be replicated cheaper by someone else"
SETH GODIN, - blog March 07 2010

Originally posted March 24, 2010

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday Morning Alchemy

"When you possess great treasures within you, and try to tell others of them, seldom are you believed"

You have a message and big ideas worth sharing.

Rock-solid, time-tested stuff you really know something about.

With people you sincerely want to help.

More often than not, however, you are disappointed when your generous offers of free guidance and direction are not only rejected, but the very individuals you cared enough about to try and assist, silently mock and scorn your efforts.

Behind your back.

Sound familiar?

If so, can you explain why you keep handing out parcels of wisdom to those who clearly don't appreciate gifts you have so carefully selected and are willing to present - for the low, low price of FREE? Do you really enjoy banging your head against brick walls of human ignorance so much that you just can't seem to stop?

Or, is it possible this trail leads to another destination you are not aware of?

Hang on.

This is going to get interesting.

Especially since I don't have a clue myself exactly where this post leads.

Looks like we're in this one together.

About six months ago, I was tipped off about a book and an author that someone saw great value in and cared enough to share with me. At first, I was tempted to brush off the messenger and the suggestion, like so many of the other book recommendations I get, but something about this individual told me she was worth listening to and her gift was not something to be frivolously tossed aside. So I made a mental note, followed by a relatively short two- week period of procrastination.

"I really should look that guy up and see what his book is all about"

On a Saturday in late October, a copy of Paulo Coelho's masterpiece was in my hands.

Several hours later, its message had rocked yet another world.

On, November 9, 2009, its message was shared in this forum, but in a quiet, understated way just to see how it would ripple through the TSB blogosphere. The reader feedback was loud and clear. This was a direction worth pursuing. On January 4, 2010, the message was laid out once again - this time, in plain, no uncertain terms -in the first post of the New Year.

Here are some of the signals that have registered with a number of your fellow TSB readers:

From: Facebook []
Sent: Monday, January 25, 2010 7:48 PM
To: Gair Maxwell
Subject: Thank you!

Good evening, Gair.

I hope all is well, in your world. I'm writing to thank you for a couple of things. I am a reader of your blog. I'd like to say I do it daily, but that would be a fib. I get to it when I have a few moments, then read back to the place I had left off on my previous visit. I have now found two items, thanks to you. The first was the Monday Morning Memo. That I read faithfully, as soon as I get out of bed on Monday morning. The second was The Alchemist. I read about it yesterday morning, in your blog, then rushed over to Chapters to pick up a copy. That was at 2:00 in the afternoon. Between browsing two football games and a Raptor's game, I finished the book by 11:00pm. It has instantly become a favorite of mine and I would say will have profound life changing impact. Once again, I thank you!

Have a great week!

Sent: Monday, November 23, 2009 12:36 PM
Subject: The Alchemist


Wow! What an enlightening, inspiring book!!

Since our meeting I have been immersing myself in The Alchemist as well as the other articles and videos you sent my way, and although I have yet to realize my Personal Legend, I can feel myself relaxing, breathing, and taking joy in experiencing my journey.

As for The Alchemist, where do you begin? Every line was so insightful and not only relatable to my life-but relatable to where I am in my life. Coelhos simple writing style reflects his simple messages. He doesnt allow the petty things in our lives to be used as excuses the way we so often rely on them in order to drown out what our heart is saying. The message is clear. Follow your heart, listen to it, go after your dream and dont let anything stop you. If love is real in your life then there is no reason to fear leaving it, which is something I personally struggle with. I know in my life I have drowned out my hearts voice in order to make someone I love happy, and I can foresee me doing this in my future in order to stay close to my loved ones.

Santiago was extremely brave. He sold his sheep, which was his family, his status quo, in search of his personal legend. He let nothing stop him from falling off his path and showed true patience along the way. I can become very impatient with my life at times (I want to start living for real as I once thought) but it took years for Santiago to reach the pyramids and it was what he learned along the way that allowed him to reach his final goal.

Thank you again,

Sent: Saturday, February 27, 2010 8:54 PM
To: Gair Maxwell
Subject: the alchemist

Wow.... You know what... I see a lot of myself and the last year and a half in this book. And I can see how you, just like I did, related with this story. There were lots of doubts in the road to where you are, and to what you have achieved in your life. There's a shit load of leaps of faiths in this uncarved, professional career that I'm still trying to create for myself.... Thanks for the reference, I really enjoyed the couple of hours I have spent reading this book!

Can't wait to have talk to you about this!

Self-discovery is a long, jagged road, often leaving you feeling there is no end in sight. However, the treasures within you on this Monday are nothing compared to the ones that await you on many Mondays to follow.

You may have already discovered that many people you interact with on your journey will sacrifice fulfillment for conformity. Only a select few will choose to follow roads that are there for the taking and dream without caution. That's why when you share a message you believe in - let's say to a hundred people or so - you will be fortunate to find even one person who will accept that which you have freely given and actually do something to dramatically improve their life and the way they impact people that surround them.

But, this is why you continue to share messages you believe in.

With people you care about.

So that one day, they will have an opportunity to thank you.

Just as I am doing today.

With heartfelt love and appreciation,


"You can become blind by seeing each day as a similar one. Each day is a different one, each day brings a miracle of its own. It's just a matter of paying attention to this miracle"

Originally posted March 8, 2010

p.s... A year after making the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in 1986, unknown author Paulo Coelho wrote "The Alchemist" and published it through a small Brazilian publishing house who made an initial print run of 900 copies and decided not to reprint. Refusing to abandon his dream, Coelho subsequently found a bigger publishing house, and "The Alchemist" went on to sell more than 30 million copies, becoming one of the best-selling books in history. It has been translated into more than 67 languages, earning Coelho the Guinness World Record for most translated book by a living author.

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Are You a One Night Brand?

Back in the 1950's Hugh scraped together $8,000 from family and friends and launched a business and a brand that took America and the world by storm.

His business model focused on a magazine that featured a style of photography and an element of brand notoriety that appealed to a certain demographic and a certain type of advertiser.

Hugh needed those advertisers in order to publish his magazine and after meeting with initial resistance from the stuffed-shirt crowd, he persisted and eventually signed up brands such as:

- Crosswinds House beach towels
- Scintella Satin BedSheets
- Lektrostat Record Cleaning Kit
- Mansfield Holiday II 8-mm cameras
- Leslie Record Racks
- Electro-Voice Musicaster loudspeakers
- The Ronson Electric Shaver
- Max Factor crew-cut hair dressing
- The Rogers "Rocket Flame" cigarette lighter

And lets not forget the unforgettable "Batch Book", that new and modern address book where you can jot down every pertinent detail and avoid those ghastly social errors.

Those brands aren't exactly household names today. Few of them still exist.

Some disappeared as society changed. Technology rendered others obsolete, while the rest ran out of creative, emotional and financial gas.

Brands can vanish for any number of reasons, but the real question is why should your brand be one that sticks around? How is your brand positioned to be a long-term player since now more than ever, even the best corporate brands are no longer guaranteed longevity in the marketplace.

And few figured out this brand longevity issue better than Hugh.

Hugh Hefner is the ultimate "lifestyle entrepreneur", creating a brand that has endured for generations. Playboy is still the leading men’s magazine in the world,
and the business model has diversified to include four income streams: publishing, licensing, online and TV.

And as Hugh learned a long time ago, the "story" never gets old.

Gradually, organizations are discovering a brand is no longer what they say it is.

It's what others say and whether they feel its worth talking about.

Hugh Hefner may be living a certain way personally, but his Playboy brand has been set up in another fashion. The question becomes whether you want your brand to be strategically positioned for a long-term love affair with your customers with decades of profitable bliss or something that smacks of pash-and-dash, booty-calls and one-night stands.

Think about your brand and the way it is positioned right now.

Does the brand "story" still resonate?

Can it be adapted seamlessly to other business models?

And how much staying power will it have?

"Life is too short to be living somebody else's dream"

Originally posted February 10, 2010

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Beating Entreprenurial Blues

How does anyone know what it feels like to be an entrepreneur until they have actually done it?

Lack of first-hand knowledge, however, doesn't seem to prevent anyone with a pulse and the ability to spew nouns, verbs and adjectives from volunteering an opinion on what it takes to own and operate a successful business.

Today on TSB we feature a guest post that will show you how to capitalize — as opposed to combat — “Entrepreneurial Disease” and the manic depression it creates through 4 cyclical stages. What makes this subject remarkable is how the author is able to match appropriate activities to specific — and not always positive — emotional states.

Our guest poster happens to be a "been there, done that" kind of guy.

He is Cameron Herold, the former COO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK, whose professional resume includes:

-Helping build revenues from $2 Million to $105 Million in 6 years (no debt or outside shareholders)
-Building a PR team that landed more than 5,000 stories in those same 6 years
-Hiring 220 people in 4 months
-Leading the sale, branding, and integration of 450+ franchise locations.
-Teaching his psychological theories at the Entrepreneurial Masters Program at MIT.

TSB was fortunate to be in a closed-door session recently in the U.S. where Cameron shared these insights with a select group of Canadian business owners.

Making the Rollercoaster Work for You
By: Cameron Herold, Founder BackPocket COO

Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape, once wrote:

“First and foremost, a start-up puts you on an emotional rollercoaster unlike anything you have ever experienced. You flip rapidly from day-to-day – one where you are euphorically convinced you are going to own the world, to a day in which doom seems only weeks away and you feel completely ruined, and back again. Over and over and over. And I’m talking about what happens to stable entrepreneurs. There is so much uncertainty and so much risk around practically everything you are doing. The level of stress that you’re under generally will magnify things incredible highs and unbelievable lows at whiplash speed and huge magnitude. Sound like fun?”

Many ultra-successful entrepreneurs are even clinically diagnosed as manic-depressive or bi-polar. Francis Ford Coppola has it. So does Ted Turner.

This article is about the emotional intricacies of being an entrepreneur – about what you’re going to feel during the journey.

The concept that we’re going to examine is called the Transition Curve. It resembles a rollercoaster.

Regardless of whether or not you believe you will ride an emotional rollercoaster running a business, you will. You have two fundamental choices: you can hold on and scream, or you can wave your hands in the air and have some fun.

I’m going to walk you through these different analogies, but let’s first look at the various stages of this process, which repeat.

* Stage 1: The first stage of the concept is called “Uninformed Optimism”. At this stage on a rollercoaster, just getting to the top of the rollercoaster, you experience feelings of an adrenalin rush, characterized by excitement and nervous energy.

* Stage 2: The second stage is called “Informed Pessimism”. As you ride over the top of the curve you now have a bit more information. Feelings of fear, nervousness, and frustration begin to set in. Perhaps you even want to get off of it.

* Stage 3 – The third stage is called “Crisis of Meaning”. You’re past scared. You feel despair. It’s as if you’re standing on the edge of a cliff ready to jump, and you begin to think “Today the rollercoaster’s going off the bottom of the track for the very first time.” You feel helpless and you’re both terrified and frozen.

At this point, you face a critical juncture. You can come off the bottom of the curve and crash and burn, which is when your business goes bankrupt, you lose your marriage, you start drinking, or you end up in a doctor’s office because of stress. Or you can come around the corner because you’re getting support at “Crisis of Meaning” and you can enter an upward swing call “Informed Optimism”.

* Stage 4 – Informed Optimism. You’re calm. You’re informed. You might even say you are cautiously optimistic.

Capitalizing on All Emotional Phases — Activity Pairing

Here is the critical point – at each stage of the curve, you can do things to leverage the feelings and energy — positive or negative — that you have at that moment. Fighting against these phases is like working against a natural force.

Stage 1 – Uninformed Optimism
As an example – at Stage 1 – Uninformed Optimism – it’s both a great place and a dangerous place to be for your business, depending on what you are working on or in at that time.

When you’re starting your business, you have seed financing, some friend and family money, or you’ve just started the business with $50 in your pocket. You can start a business without a lot of money directly because you’re benefiting from uninformed optimism. You can take risks when you’re feeling like this. Because you’re so full of excitement you don’t really know what’s coming yet. So you’re uninformed and your fully optimistic – or you wouldn’t have started.

When you’re at Uniformed Optimism you should be doing things like:

* Talking to the media. Imagine if a newspaper calls you when you’re at that stage of uninformed optimism. How’s your media interview going to go? It’s going to go amazing because you have unbridled excitement and big thinking.
* Talking to potential investors. That’s why everyone was investing through the 90s with the dotcom bubble. The entrepreneurs were so full of uninformed optimism and enthusiasm.
* Doing speeches in public – the audience will love you.
* Recruiting new employees – they’ll all want to work for you.
* Networking for new clients – who wouldn’t want to buy from you?

When you’re at Uniformed Optimism there are also some things you should avoid doing:

* Spending money is a bad thing to be doing at this point. Because when you are really excited and full of optimism you think nothing will go wrong. The last thing you want to be doing is spending all this money because the reality is – at some point, you’ll cross the curve and discover harsher realities.
* You don’t want to be doing business planning
* You don’t want to be working on your budget
* You don’t want to be making buying decisions
* You don’t want to be making hiring decisions
* You don’t want to be doing your accounting, or your bookkeeping.
* Anything that requires you to be making financial decisions or planning logical shouldn’t be done when you’re at the manic energy or uninformed optimism stage.

Remember that when you’re at that uninformed optimism stage, anything that’s outward facing — talking about your company, selling the story, raising money — is well-matched. Simultaneously, at that stage, you don’t want to make buying decisions, or hiring decisions, or planning decisions, or budgeting decisions.

Stage 2 – Informed Pessimism
At Stage 2 – Informed Pessimism – you have more information now. You’re not as excited as you once were. Coffee is helpful to get you started. You are worrying at times. You aren’t depressed or scared – but you’re somewhere in between scared and excited. You’re just a little bit pessimistic now. The great aspect of this stage is that it prevents you from making careless mistakes due to overly optimistic thinking.

When you’re at Informed Pessimism you should be doing things like:

* Planning the next phase of your growth
* Intermediate-term strategic planning
* Budgeting, as you’ll be more realistic
* Purchasing things like advertising – you’ll be careful with where you spend your money and will not over-purchase advertising based on exuberant pie-in-the-sky sales forecasts.

When you’re at Informed Pessimism, there are also a few things you should absolutely avoid doing.

Do not:

* make hiring decisions.
* talk to the media or do speaking events.
* work in roles where being excited would help you get a better result – wait until things turn around emotionally for you.

Stage 3 – Crisis of Meaning
This is a scary stage and can feel like you’re standing on the edge of a building needing to jump. It will feel like all the odds are stacked against you and that everything is going wrong. It will be hard to get out of bed in the morning. Sleeping at night will be close to impossible due to worries and fear. You’ll feel like you’re paralyzed and can do little more than clean your filing cabinet drawers successfully.

When you’re at Crisis of Meaning you should be doing things like:

* Cleaning your filing cabinet drawers – seriously. Doing a few little things can often perk people up.
* Reaching out to your support groups like friends, family, your church, groups like the Entrepreneurs Organization etc. to ask them for help, advice or to just lend an ear.
* Trying to set your TOP 5 daily and only work on the most important items each day.
* Taking breaks and going for walks, getting exercise, getting outdoors.
* Writing lists – lists about what you are strong at, lists about what you love – make lists that, when you read them, will help rebuild your confidence.
* Realizing that many others have been in this exact same place and usually turn the corner, just like you will.
* Remembering “The Little Engine That Could” – I think I can, I think I can – it can take time, but things will rebound.

When you’re at Crisis of Meaning there are also some things you should absolutely avoid doing:

* Don’t talk to others who are depressed.
* Don’t talk to others who are “half empty” types
* Don’t take any “all-in” Vegas poker type risks where you put everything on the line hoping for a big win.
* Don’t try to “rally the troops.” Your employees, the media ,etc. will all smell fear. And your fear will lead to making things worse
* Don’t turn to the bottle. Vices during stages of depression will lead to you spiraling out of control.
* Don’t think that you can “handle it” all on your own. You can’t. And when people “need” others, your true friends really will be there to support you.
* Don’t try to learn more. Reading books and magazines about how to be successful or how to grow your company will only make you feel worse about your current situation. They’ll just make you feel even more bogged down. Reading stuff like this is great when you round the corner though.

Stage 4 – Crash & Burn
I don’t really waste any time explaining this stage or what to do here – because if you slide off the curve, here it really is over – the company is done and/or so are you in the role leading it. Usually this is bankruptcy or forced sale, etc..

Stage 5 – Informed Optimism (or Hopeful Realization)
This last stage is much like when the little engine that could turned the corner – and realized “he did”. You’ll start feeling excited and energized again. You’ll start rebuilding your confidence. And you’ll start to feel momentum working in your favor again. You’ll also have a lot more insights and experiential learning to draw from. You’ll realize you have more competence and confidence than before and everything will start to go your way again.

When you’re at Informed Optimism you should be doing things like:

· Hiring
· Strategic Planning
· Reorganization of your team – putting the right people in the right seats
· Cutting the wrong people
· Generally getting everything in order to really start growing again.

When you’re at Informed Optimism there are also things you should avoid doing:

· Don’t lose focus.
· Don’t let your confidence slip.
· Don’t get cocky or you’ll fall backwards off the curve.

Conclusion: This cycle repeats itself.

Enjoy the ride instead of fighting it.

TSB thanks guest author Cameron Herold for sharing his insights today. Cameron's training modules are used by CEOs and companies in more than 15 countries. He also happens to be a pretty cool guy who enjoys his hammock, the music of the Grateful Dead and hanging out with his wife and kids.

What Cameron has clearly illustrated are the predictable patterns of psychological, financial and entreprenurial laws of gravity: What goes up must come down. The secret is being able to recognize the process while its happening and learn from the failures along the way. Someone who understands this dynamic better than most is Richard Branson.

The British-born billionaire, is famous for his Virgin brand of over 360 companies, but what many don't know is how Branson overcame mild dyslexia and poor academic grades as he learned how to ride the entreprenurial rollercoaster.

"I never get the accountants in before I start up a business. It's done on gut feeling, especially if I can see that they are taking the mickey out of the consumer"

Originally posted February 9, 2010

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Monday, August 9, 2010

The "A-Word"


It's a term often bandied about these days and just as often met with universal agreement in principle.

At least in terms of the value in "being authentic".

For the record, here is the definition:

au·then·tic· - not false or copied; genuine; real:

But, if you were to ask 100 people to score themselves on the "Authenticity Scale", where do you think most would rate on a scale of 1-10? And to really have some fun with this, where would you rank? How much of your true self is on display for all the world to see each day? Do you effortlessly whip off the social mask of ego with ease? Or do you struggle to maintain false fronts that keep the peace while the person inside falls to pieces?

Honestly, I wouldn't have a clue myself how to answer right now, but not knowing the answer should never be an excuse for not asking the question. Afterall, isn't that how really learning takes place? Ask a good question enough times and eventually you can learn a lot by patiently listening and waiting for answers to appear.

You can also accelerate that learning curve through research or by asking someone you respect.

Scientifically, Brian Swimme, Ph.D. has the cred to weigh in on this subject. Brian is a mathematical cosmologist at the California Institute of Integral Studies and has been featured in television programs along with scientists such as Stephen Hawking and David Suzuki.

According to Dr. Swimme, pursuing our passions as we respond to the deep currents of energy in the universe may be the ultimate creative act. Only through authenticity, are others served in a positive way. However, academic jargon or New Age mumbo-jumbo doesn't always cut through the information clutter for some people so here is where a friend comes in handy.

This particular friend would be pegged by many as being an "8" or a "9" on the Authenticity Scale, and as such, had no difficulty at all responding to the question. You might say this is the kind of person who eats the "A-Word" for breakfast.

Here is the unedited answer - warts and all.

"Authentic" - my version...No games. No lies. No masks. No ego. No bullshit. Letting the world see who you really are without any pretense.
Not getting caught up in superficiality. Being Real.
Being able to admit when you fuck up and accept the responsibility that comes with this.
Willing to be vulnerable with those you love.
Willing to change if you're hurting another person.
Willing to fight for what you believe in and not ever give up.
Being different in a world that demands the conformity.
And most importantly...doing what you feel is right even though most will tell you its wrong".

Thanks for the clarity my friend!

Nothing false or copied there.

It has been said that realizing one's destiny is the only real obligation we have on this planet. But, your journey to destiny will only be reached by following a path marked "Authenticity".

If you're asking questions such as:

• Have I really fulfilled my potential?
• What shall I do with my life?
• Now that challenge is over, what’s next?
• Is this all there is?
• Am I really living my own life?

Then, chances are there is a gap between the "real" you and the one you place on social/relationship/career/family display. The good news is with the advent of YouTube, you don;t have to look far to find real, chilling examples of "living on the ledge".

I've never met Paul in person, but something tells me he is off the charts on the 1-10 Authenticity Scale, at least as far as his choice of career is concerned. He is doing exactly what he is meant to do.

But today's post is less about Paul Nicklen, Brian Swimme and anyone else who will never have to worry about what waits at the end of the human existence checkout line. How tragic would it be to discover as they're ringing you in for your last living moment that you never did live your own life, but the life someone else wanted you to live?

It's been said that the world's great lie is that at a certain point, we lose control of what's happening to us and our lives become controlled by fate.

Don't believe it.

Not for a fucking minute.

"If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much room"

Originally posted December 14, 2009

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Friday, August 6, 2010

Motorvationally Speaking: "Capital Expresser"

Dave's name and voice is synonymous with sports in his city.

An award-winning broadcaster, he is part of the unique fabric known as "Fredericton" ever since his days behind the microphone calling play-by-play on 550 CFNB.

When the American Hockey League came to town with the Fredericton Express in the early 1980's, Dave was one of the key factors that put Fredericton on the professional hockey map and in the hearts of Capital City hockey fans.

Today on TSB, we get up close and personal with the "Foster Hewitt of Fredericton" ... now with UNB Athletics ... Dave Morrell!

"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.

"It turned out to be more than just a hockey series. A lot of pride came into play - pride in yourself, pride in your team, pride in your country"

Originally posted January 13, 2010

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Brand That Walked Around the World

What would it take for you to watch a six-minute commercial?

By choice?

Would it help to know that it tells the story - in one take - of how a humble Scottish farmer became an international brand?

This piece rides the wave of the hottest trend in brand marketing right now. Brands -big and small - are bypassing traditional media, creating their own platforms.

The smart brands have it figured out.

THEY are becoming the media.

Instead of being gouged by marketers or media outlets for glossy magazine ads or 30-second TV spots, smart brands go direct, sharing their story mainstream - for free. In effect, brands are competing with the traditional outlets they used to pay for their advertising needs.

So you might want to sit back and reflect how this trend applies to your business as actor Robert Carlyle regales us with a fascinating story of one of the world's most iconic beverages - in one impressive single take.

The video is a wee bit on the long side, but well worth drinking it in.

Each day, more people are sidestepping newspapers, radio and television, accessing news and information from multiple sources - Facebook, Twitter, blogs, YouTube etc.

Can you picture how this is a perfect environment for any brand serious about stepping in and becoming a trusted source? Is there a way you could leverage these conditions and become a leader in educating customers on your history/cause/expertise instead of pitching products or services?

Here's the final whisky shot: When a company or brand becomes the media - and has a compelling saga to share - it speaks directly to customers in a way that leads to increased awareness and sales.

What is your brand doing in 2010 to become its own media?

“The take that you have seen is the very last take we did at 8pm on the last day of the shoot. Take #40. The tension as we watched Robert do this take was unbelievable. It was such a good take at every stage and so the longer it went on without any fluffs the greater the pressure grew for nothing to go wrong. When he got to the end and I got to call cut there was this huge roar and applause from the crew and agency and I knew we had it.”
JAMIE RAFN, Director

Originally posted January 12, 2010

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Monday, August 2, 2010

Life in the Hope Lane

Cruising along the highway of life, you reach over and press the button marked "SCAN".

Your brain registers signals competing for your attention.

Self-Doubt 88.9 ... Frustration 91.9... Blah 92... SERENITY 93...Judgement 94.5 ...GRATITUDE 96... Worry 97...Self-Pity 98.9... P-O'ed 99... Jealousy 100... Anxiety 100.5... JOY 101... Regret 103.1 ...Grudge 104 ...Despair 106.5 ... HOPE 107...

Your human brain often operates like a distracted motorist, scrambling for a favorite radio station. Capable of processing 45 thoughts per minute (one every 1.3 seconds), your mind sifts through about 46,000 thoughts for the 17 hours you are awake each day.

Can you figure out which thought stations you tune in most?

Have you ever given serious thought how many are worth listening to?

And is it safe to say about 97% of those thought stations are the same ones you heard yesterday?

Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer and a number of other human potential experts maintain about 80% of our daily thoughts tend to be negative, self-critical and self-defeating. Life in the negative thought lane can surely make you lose your mind, sabotaging your best intentions. One of the most important psychologists of the last fifty years has discovered there is a way to reverse what he calls "learned helplessness" with, oddly enough, "learned optimism". In his research at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Martin Seligman discovered resilient people were optimists who think of adversity as temporary, specific, and external. Pessimists, on the other hand see adversity in permanent, pervasive and personal ways. For example, a pessimistic salesman might think: ‘I hate cold calling. I just annoy people and I'm not cut out for selling'. An optimistic salesman might think: ‘I gave it my best shot, but she was obviously in a bad mood'. A pessimist will likely give up and feel depressed, whereas the optimist will take it easy, keep going and remain determined.

Essentially, Marty and other researchers are concluding there is a scientific case to be made for dialing in Hope.

The good life is never problem-free.

Whether at work or home, the process of overcoming adversity often produces some of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have. Throwing in the towel at the first sign of trouble is easy to do, but in the long run, how far can anyone expect to travel dialing in stations promoting self-doubt, worry and regret?

Typically, despair and hopelessness set in whenever "impossible" situations present themselves. Just as often, those not so peaceful easy feelings are transmitted from one human being to another in such a way that they become self-fulfilling prophecies. And until a new song starts to be sung or hummed along to that includes Hope, the "impossible" situation you face will remain that way.

The Eagles were the biggest band in the world when they broke up in 1980, blown apart by clashing egos, boiling tempers, hefty substance abuse, tireless womanizing and meddling lawyers. Internal bickering came to a head on stage in Long Beach, California, July 31, 1980, with band members muttering dark threats to each other between choruses, leading to a backstage brawl. The ensuing split was so acrimonious that drummer Don Henley frequently asserted the only way the Eagles would reunite was when "when hell freezes over".

It took a while.

But, Hades finally chilled 14 years later, as Henley, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmidt resumed touring and singing songs of Hope in 1994.

At some point, even the Eagles learned yesterday is already gone. Nothing that happened yesterday even matters.

At one time or another you will be faced with a "hell freezes over" situation, but tuning into a frequency called Hope might give you an opportunity to turn it around.

Hope gives you a second chance every morning.

What you do with that chance is what really counts.

"Let hope inspire you, but let not idealism blind you. Don't look back, you can never look back"

Originally posted January 18, 2010

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