Sunday, October 22, 2017

Years ago I was in a job where I dragged myself to work every day. I lacked challenge, and I was bored. I was not growing and felt like I had no control over my life. What did I do? You guessed it – I stayed where I was. I didn’t know what I wanted to do or what next steps I could take. It took a buyout of my company to wake me up and get me to move out. My situation would have been a lot different if I had had the book Find the Fire by Scott Mautz at my fingertips. Scott’s new book is the tool that most of us need by our side to get up motivated about our jobs and finding our lost mojo.

All of us at one time or another have lost the spark that gets us up and going to work every day. Remember when you first started your job? You were inspired, motivated, and excited to get out there and make a difference. You had new ideas and planned to have an impact. Then, something happened. Perhaps you feel like that now as you drive to work. What happened to the excitement? Passion? Confident attitude? Scott challenges us to ask “How did I lose my inspiration in the first place.” Better yet, he has some answers, strategies, and ideas to get us back on track to the days when our careers and lives were stimulating, challenging, and we had that fire underneath us.

Before discovering how to reignite your life you need to understand what doused your fire in the first place. You need to address what brings you down and win back to control. Find The Fire introduces us to nine factors, called anti-muses that steal our motivation and spark every single day. Here they are:

  1. Fear: We need to learn how to overcome our fear of change, failure, and criticism
  2. Settling and boredom: Learn how to find an open mindset, set new experiences, start learning and growing again, and make your opportunities
  3. Inundation: We are busy and inundated by too much every day from all angles. We need to control how things are coming at us and push progress forward. Start learning again, procrastinating, and find how to ask for help
  4. Loss of control: When we have control we have inspiration. Scott show us how to take back our sense of power and how to emit it
  5. Dwindling self-belief: When we are inspired we produce more, have self-esteem and are optimistic. You can increase your confidence and learn how to persevere
  6. Disconnectedness: Feeling connected is what being human all is about. Learn how to reconnect with your peers, your career, and your boss to make change
  7. Dearth of Creating: Inspiration requires creativity. If you lack creativity, then you can’t produce at your best or share it with the world. Learn how to find and unleash your creativity
  8. Insignificance: Feeling insignificant is our most deep-seated human fear. This anti-muse tries to convince us that we can’t make a difference and that what we do is meaningless. Learn how to have an impact
  9. Lack of Evocation: We need to search for an external stimulus to dial up our inspiration. Sometimes we find our best inspiration from “external sources.” Have a draining boss or coworkers? Scott shows us how to change the dynamics to bring back our fire.

Find The Fire is truly a book that we all need to keep at our side. Better yet, if you know someone who is struggling and their fire has become mere coals, light them up with this book. Once you recognize that the nine muses are not your friends and you see how they detract from your life Scott puts your life back on track. This book has humor, stories, shares the journey of others and will build you up with tools and strategies. You can find your magic again and become the excited and inspired newbie that you once were when starting a new career or stage in your life. This book speaks to both your professional and personal life. Your power will restore, and you will gain better control of you.

Find The Fire offers actionable tools to use at every stage of your ignition. The last chapter spells out how to fight the nine anti-muses in detail. Concepts like “Give, Resist, Exude,” the “Arc of Perseverance,” and self-empowerment tactics may become your best friends. You CAN get your spark back. However, you need to be willing to work at it because the nine muses are lurking around us all every day trying to pacify and control us. Take back your power, build confidence, and light that fire underneath you for lifelong change.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

It All Matters - 125 Strategies To Achieve Maximum Confidence, Clarity, Certainty And Creativity by Paul Cummings

If you are an avid reader or interested in personal growth, you are well aware of the saturated market of books in this area. I always have a tough time recommending the “best” book for someone to read if asked. I’m drawn to books that encourage self-reflection, positive thinking, and goal setting. The problem is that most books only offer a peppering of each in these areas, not actionable steps to stay on the path of personal development. The new book release It All Matters – 125 strategies to achieve maximum confidence, clarity, certainty, and creativity by Paul Cummings is a game changer.

It All Matters has something to offer everyone. It’s a comprehensive guide to developing and using personal affirmations. It encourages increased self-confidence and self-awareness. Clarity will become your friend and guide. Goal setting will become an everyday habit, and you will see success. You will undercover your strengths, and your passion will shine like a beacon.

Paul is a masterful storyteller and draws us in with his life experiences. The book follows his journey as a young man selling books for Southwestern Advantage in the 1970s. His mission was the catalyst for the self-development techniques and strategies that he shares with us. He took leaps into areas of life that most of us never would. His mistakes are our blessing because we can grow without encountering the obstacles that he did.

This book is like having a personal coach by your side every day. Paul shares his unique process U.B.U.: understand who you are, be true to yourself, and always stay unique. Paul explains how to choose our outcomes, master our mindset and goals, and live up to our life purpose and intent. His stories and experiences show how to put ideas on paper into action. It All Matters can be used every day as a journal to take on your development journey. Here are some of the tools that Paul offers:

  • Stories of failure and success that help us learn and grow. Life lessons that make a difference
  • Toolkit with ideas, strategies, actionable plans to use daily
  • MAP: My Action Plan after each chapter journaling your next move and setting following steps
  • Comprehensive goal-setting program and ideas for avoiding obstacles
  • Questions that force you to think, prioritize, strategize, and get to know yourself
  • Methods to learn and expand on your strengths
  • The power of daily affirmations, how to develop your own unique set and how to put them into motion
  • You will determine who you are, what drives you, and where you should go to achieve your goals
  • Jump onboard with a progressive mindset so that you can master the key to riches and success

It All Matters is far from just another personal development book. It’s a daily journal for becoming a better you and finding your way in the world to have an impact. The book offers everyday clarity to setting and achieving your goals. It lifts you when you feel like you are clouded with doubt. Paul encourages us to be creative and unique while making a difference in both our own lives and to those that we have contact with. If there is just one book that you need for personal development and success, this is it!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Self Leadership and The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard, Susan Fowler, and Laurence Hawkins

I have always been a fan of the One Minute Manager books. I enjoy the art of storytelling and visualizing as I hear a story. Susan Fowler and Laurence Hawkin’s new partnership on the book Self Leadership and the One Minute Manager does not disappoint. Sure some leaders are born however, most of us acquire leadership skills through experience and mentoring. Have you ever started a new venture feeling like a superstar only to find that maybe you aren’t such a phenomenal leader? This book is for you.

I’ve never given too much thought to self-leadership but this book quickly jumpstarted my mind. We all need self-leadership in order to succeed and make a change. Our lives are ever changing and at one point we may need little more direction or support yet, we may find ourselves not pushing enough to ask for more support and assistance from someone else as circumstances change.

The book teaches us valuable lessons in business in a parable featuring Steve, a young advertising executive who feels that he is about to lose his job. He bumps into a friendly magician in a coffee shop who helps Steve realize how he needs to take the power of responsibility for his own situation and stop blaming others. The magician, Cayla, empowers others by coaching from what she has learned from the One Minute Manager. She shares 3 valuable self-leadership lessons that allow Steve to turn his situation around and lessons that we can all use in our own lives.

  1. Assumed constraints are a negative and are a belief that will limit your experience and hold you back.
  2. Activate your points of power: They include position, knowledge, task, personal, and relationship power.
  3. Self-leadership means being proactive to get what you need to succeed: The two most powerful words to get what you need are “I need”.

Stories are all about sharing and teaching. Self-Leadership and the One Minute Manager does not disappoint. The book shares valuable lessons but also provides a Development Continuum Model that illustrates the four stages people experience when they are learning to master something, like a new job or life change. The model captures what people experience and helps them to realize their competence and commitment to change as we learn something new or pursue a goal.

The book offers visual models of the four stages along with a complete list of competencies and commitments to help in understanding how to integrate the model into our lives. The book is a quick read yet offers so much information in an entertaining and empowering way. Steve was empowered by the gifts that Cayla shared with him and not only does he keep his job, but he becomes a One Minute Manager to those around him.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

How You Learn Is How You Live - Using Nine Ways of Learning to Transform Your Life by Kay Peterson and David A. Kolb

I am a lifelong learning geek. I enjoy learning new information and absorb it with a thirst for reading, taking online MOOCS, and watching videos. I've always known that I am a visual learner and have tried to gear my learning to my style. The new book How You Learn Is How You Live – Using Nine Ways of Learning to Transform your Life by Kay Peterson, and David A. Kolb was an eye-opening read for me.

Most of what we learn and retain is from experience and hands-on learning. We all embrace a defined method of learning, and for some of us, it's tough to change how we learn. We are introduced to the learning way which is an "awakening life force that's in all of us. We grow and develop by learning". Few of us even realize that there is a process for learning. To be effective learners, we need to view learning as a continuous ongoing process whereby we not only learn new skills but learn to apply existing skills to new situations.

The authors stress how critical it is to discover our personal learning style so that we better understand ourselves and how we best respond. Moreover, they encourage us to learn all of the learning styles because we need to remain flexible in our learning and adapt a style based on a particular situation or those around us. There are nine learning styles based on the Kolb Learning Style Inventory (KLSI 4.0).  Here are the nine learning styles:

  1. Experiencing
  2. Imagining
  3. Reflecting
  4. Analyzing
  5. Thinking
  6. Deciding
  7. Acting
  8. Initiating
  9. Balancing

Peterson and Kolb offer a quick assessment to determine your style along with detailed data on each as well as the strengths and weaknesses of each style. By learning more about all nine styles, you are better equipped to work with others in the style that is comfortable for them. You will have a greater understanding of how to communicate more efficiently with others as well. Caring about the styles of others makes for stronger teams and relationships. Moreover, there are detailed stories and insights about the various methods including how folks have learned about their style the hard way or how they had to adapt their style to a situation or career.

Learning about your style will strengthen your awareness, aid in matching your style preferences to the demands around you, and perhaps give you clues as to why your career performance isn’t where you desire it to be, or explain why some tasks just aren’t interesting to you.

Once you have a better understanding of the nine learning styles, you are ready to embark on learning how to be flexible with the nine styles. Most of us try to stay in our comfort zone when we learn or interact. That doesn't always work. You need to strive to develop strengths in the other learning styles. Effective leaders need to be able to respond differently in situations, and that means changing your style effortlessly.  Matching your learning approach by jumping into another style will enable you to influence others and keep you on the path to lifelong learning.
Integrating learning into your life is a commitment that never ends. We should all be deliberate in our practice and follow three key strategies to be effective. They include deep experiencing (mindfulness, intentional attention, and focus), deliberate learning, and start small with just one big thing. Intertwining your key learning style in with these strategies will set you up for success,

How You Learn is How you Live is a must read if you are a driven learner, desire to understand and influence others or want to become more flexible in your learning or unique situations. I enjoyed learning more about the nine styles and how I need to adjust my style to that of others or in different circumstances.

Each chapter includes a learning cycle checklist for action and practice exercise to put the information that we learn to use and to cement the new ideas introduced. I learned best through storytelling and immersed myself in the various stories and situations presented by Kay and David. The various scenarios enabled me to understand the importance of remaining flexible in using different learning styles as well as the need to learn how others learn in situations so that I can adapt to lead or have an impact.

How You Learn is How You Live is a must read for anyone interested in becoming a more active learner, leader, and communicator.  This nugget of knowledge will guide the reader along the path of learning with critical information, insightful stories, and self-exploration.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Culture Works How to Create Happiness in the Workplace by Kris Boesch

"When people feel good about coming to work it ripples into the community, into the homes and the coffee shops and the parks and ball fields. When people are happy at work, they are better parents, spouses, volunteers and citizens. When we make the workplace better, we make the world better" - Kris Boesch

Let's face it. Either you work in an organization with a healthy and vigorous culture, or you drag yourself into work every day knowing the drudgery and negativity that waits let alone collaborating with people you don't trust. For most people, pay is not the prime reason that they work. In fact, it is way down the list. So why do most of us continue to go to work day after day entering the realm of negativity and disenchantment? As leaders, we have a responsibility to create a culture where there is a strong vibe the minute our people walk in the door. We should offer a healthy and collaborative workplace. Our enemies are boredom, distrust, politics, lack of collaboration, burnout, and lackluster performance.

Kris Boesch’s new book Culture Works How to Create Happiness in the Workplace is an engaging book that guides leaders to create a unique and extraordinary work culture. Kris’s book will keep your eyes glued to each page as you experience some new innovative concepts, engaging stories, tools, and ideas “Action Jackson” activities to embark on with your teams.

Culture is the "superglue" that binds people together and ultimately urges our people to form healthy relationships, collaborate, create synergy among groups, strengthens emotional energy in the air, and breed happiness. Culture is an intangible asset that ultimately makes or breaks the profitability of a company. It drives everything from the mission and vision to healthy meetings, performance appraisals, and compensation. Knowing this, many companies still neglect to invest in the tools and activities needed to grow a culture that has an impact.

Kris introduces us to the eight Critical Happiness Factors every healthy organization needs for a firm culture to thrive. Each factor below is represented in one of the book’s chapters most impacted by the content shared by an icon specific to each factor. It’s not surprising that compensation, benefits, and perks did not win a place on this list.

1.       Supervisor
2.       Co-workers
3.       Meaning/Job Fit
4.       Autonomy
5.       Impact
6.       Organizational Support
7.       Organizational Fit
8.       Work-Family Climate

Culture Works offers some tools and assessments to test your organization’s culture and strategy alignment. The Culture Assessment will open your eyes and prompt you to think deeper about culture. Examining the ROI of happy employees using the factors above will undoubtedly convince you to jump on the bandwagon to make a difference in the culture quest. Kris offers online resources and tests along with intriguing questions to ask of your people. I read Culture Works effortlessly on a rainy Saturday afternoon because it flowed with ease. The variety of content and ideas intrigued me.

Here are some more key ideas that you can use to enhance the culture within your teams or organization tomorrow.

·         There are a variety of learning resources for every learning style. Culture Works notes a variety of articles, books, research materials, and videos for personal learning and to share with your teams that Kris terms as “Favorite Resources."
·         We are given numerous examples and stats about culture, engagement, conflict, and a variety of other workplace factors.  Kris presents the data in a leisurely and entertaining fashion so that the reader understands concepts without the eyes glazing over.
·         Culture Works contains at least one "Action Jackson" idea that is fun or inspirational activity you can use with your team that is relevant to the chapter content. These are by far my favorites in the book.
·         There is delightful humor dispersed throughout the book along with playful ideas and games to try with your people. How about a "Choose your tattoo," "Speed dating," or "Rose, Bud, Thorn" exercise?
·         I loved the variety of ideas offered on how to recognize and reward people. My favorite part of being a manager is unexpectantly thanking people in a way that makes them comfortable.
·         Kris introduces numerous acronyms to trigger our memories with some of the tools she suggests. Ideal for my mind!
·         No stranger to change, I particularly enjoyed the insight regarding change while learning more about eight key change styles and steps.

Culture has always been my priority when looking for a new employer partner. Once you have worked where you feel valued, engage in open collaboration and recognition, people enjoy working and achieving with one another, and would almost work at a place for free because of the strong culture you will never settle for less. As a leader, you have an opportunity to enhance the culture of any organization that you come into contact with even for a short time. Why not jump into creating happiness by impacting culture? Pick up Culture Works today!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time 3rd Edition By Brian Tracy

I have been on a personal crusade to be more efficient and beat the monster called procrastination. It’s so easy to put projects off when I feel that I have time but just don’t feel like working on them. I’ve been trying mini habits to build up my commitments and bullet journaling to get myself primed for action. I am an advocate that there is no sure way for planning success and that everyone needs to find what works best.

Years ago, I read Brian Tracy’s book Eat That Frog! I used several of his suggestions to avoid procrastination and to motivate myself back on track. The problem is that I fell off and needed a refresher. Brian just released the 3rd edition of Eat That Frog! With enhanced chapters highlighting the good and ugly of technology. I enjoyed the book, even more, this time because I had tried more motivational tricks and tips over the years and no one gives sound advice better than Brian Tracy. Eat That Frog! Gobbles up any other resource on procrastination or goal setting in the market.  I encourage you to return to the 21 time tried suggestions for becoming a better you to meet surpass goals and scare the procrastination monster away.

I admire Brian’s analogy of the frog on the outset of his book. He likens your “frog” to your biggest and most critical task that you need to accomplish. It’s also the goal that you are most likely to procrastinate about and put on the back burner.  Brian eloquently says that "It has been said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that it is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long”. Very powerful isn’t it? We all have a weight off of our shoulders when we can throw off the one thing that prevents us from enjoying life and bringing key results.

We need to commit to ranking our core objectives and tackling them first. Don't complete the smaller tasks on your daily list just to have a feel good moment. You will only set yourself up for additional stress when your biggest task monster stares down at you. Always have clarity about what you want and make lists of categorized goals so that you can rank them and eat the biggest frogs first thing every morning.

Setting and achieving goals is a process and won't happen overnight. You need to build new routines and habits to maintain structure and guide you. Brian shows us the 3 "D's" of new habits to jumpstart our journey. They include the decision, discipline, and determination.  Once these behaviors are ingrained, we can start to visualize where we want to be and stop procrastinating on what is hindering our success.

Successful people know that they can’t focus on everything at once. Goals need to be ranked, and some may never even be touched. They are often "filler" goals that can be delegated or deleted off the list. We should focus on the goals that will give us the biggest bang for our buck and will have a meaningful impact on our lives. This process makes us more productive and leaves us more time for the precious areas of our lives. Too often people think that getting things done equals productivity and instead they are just busy bees flitting around accomplishing little. We need to zero in on what is critical and push for productivity with intent.

Brian offers 21 intriguing ideas in separate chapters to improve your productivity and kick procrastination aside. Each idea is recapped so that you can immediately implement it. We all have unique methods of organizing and approaching goals, so I love the many options that Brian introduces us to. You may want to pick one tactic a week to focus on until it's a habit or be more flexible in how you choose. Time management is your personal system and having flexibility is the key to success.

Last, Brian shares the good and ugly of technology. Being wired in all day real time is a blessing because we can feasibly do our job from anywhere and we have so many tools to choose. Conversely, technology can control us and drive procrastination or encourage poor habits. Use technology wisely and to your advantage. Don't allow it to consume you.

Eat That Frog! Is one book that I have marked up and highlighted to aid me in fighting procrastination and to use my time more wisely. In the past, I have listed my goals but conveniently started with the tadpoles first because they are easy.   I convinced myself that I'm hacking away at the list and being productive. Now, I'm eating frogs every morning and enjoying it!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Stop Guessing The 9 Behaviors of Great Problem Solvers by Nat Greene

Over the years I have worked in numerous companies in the turbulent financial services industry. There were always special projects and consultants in and out the door trying to solve problems or force solutions. Inevitably, the result was reworking teams or systems and even layoffs. After several months the same problems would crop up, and another roller coaster ride began.

Not everyone has the skills to be a problem solver and look at an issue objectively to find root causes. Companies spend too much money and resources chasing down problems and often end up sticking in short term solutions or even worse, they guess what is causing problems or go with the traditional groupthink of the moment rather than going through a process. It becomes a headache for everyone.

Nat Greene’s new book Stop Guessing The 9 Behaviors of Great Problem Solvers is a read for anyone that faces problems at work or in their personal lives. We all need to change the way that we think of and approach problems. Nat has worked with companies for years to solve problems and change mindsets. He is frustrated that the biggest problem with problem-solving is problem-solving. Problem-solving for most has become just good old guessing. When the first guess fails, we move onto the next theory or as some like to call it, hypothesis. This can turn into an exhausting game of guessing which costs time, resources, money, and burns everyone out. Many problems consist of too many facets to even begin guessing at a problem, and nothing is solved.

Nat Greene shows us how we should approach problems differently. He offers numerous engaging real-life stories to illustrate how we can change our problem-solving mindset and provides tools that can be used by anyone for any problem. Stop Guessing is an easy read that seamlessly flows from chapter to chapter and Nat builds on the principles that he shares. His passion is assisting people to make more efficient decisions using behaviors that are immediately implemented.

The core of Stop Guessing is the 9 behaviors that Nat introduces us to so that we can jump on the path to become better problem solvers. It doesn’t matter if the production equipment is broke or your oven stopped working. The approach that he shares is the same and will save time, money, and hours of frustration. Ready to start solving real problems?

The 9 behaviors of great problem solvers

1.       Stop guessing. Most of us default to guessing or brainstorming for solutions. We are pressured to make quick fixes and solve issues yesterday. Understanding why a problem exists and investigating it is the place to start. Nate suggests that when a problem crops up, have everyone write down their guesses as to what the problem and solution are and put it in a drawer. Look at it after the problem is solved. The remaining behaviors below should assist in measuring the problem, not guess.
2.       Smell the problem. You need to get out of your office and roam around into the field to find the pulse of the problem to use your senses. Attempt to find some patterns that emerge by being out and about. Ask relevant questions and involve people, study details, sift out what is happening – no guessing.
3.       Embrace your ignorance. What you don't know is what can solve a problem. Put aside any previous knowledge or assumptions. Start with the basics and work up from there. Proudly accept what you don’t know and don’t hide it. Ask dumb questions and don’t worry about how you look. Ditch the ego.
4.       Know what problem you are solving. Sounds crazy but often people jump to conclusions and work on the wrong problem. Define what the problem is and keep those assumptions out of the picture along with staying within the scope you initially defined. Use time and resources up front to properly measure and explain an issue.
5.       Dig into the fundamentals. Learn how a process functions by understanding the process and any data or science around it. Dig only into what is relevant, not everything. Be mindful of which variables you examine and have control over.
6.       Don’t rely on experts. This is my favorite. What is the first thing that we do if we can't solve an issue? Bring in the outsiders and walk away. They can be helpful for understanding a system or its functions, but we shouldn't just turn everything over to them. We should still own the process. They aren't wizards but our collaborators. The problem solving is on us.
7.       Believe in a simple solution. Have the tenacity to continue working on the problem until it is solved. Don't always assume a solution is expensive or complicated. Find the cause and perhaps 1-2 variable that are off and your problem may be solved.
8.       Make fact-based decisions. Try to avoid relying on opinions, guesses, team votes or ranking systems. They won’t bring you any closer to solving problems. Always challenge your facts and measure without any biases.
9.       Stay on Target. It’s easy to get lost in data and causes when you have a problem if you embrace too much you will be testing and forever wasting resources. Try to “measure drivers” that control a problem and don’t allow the issue to become cluttered. Stay on course and do not permit yourself to become distracted.

Nat concludes our problem-solving journey by assisting us in choosing our personal method for solving problems. We are all unique in how we approach problems using the strengths and tools at our disposal. An efficient problem solver needs some structure to stay focused and individual behaviors of the 9 Nat introduced us to will play to our strengths. No matter what methods that you employ you should not use guessing as a tool. Once you read Stop Guessing, you may never guess or make assumptions again! Nat's goal is for us to use structure, find patterns of failure, stay on track, and understand how a process works so that you can use data and measurable information to have a solution.

I highly recommend reading Stop Guessing and using some of the 9 behaviors that Nat shares. The behaviors are people and human capital focused and are the key to bringing actionable solutions to problems of all sizes. The ideas that Nat shares will save time resources, money, and egos. Teams will feel empowered to solve problems without all the “stuff” getting in the way.

You can pick up a copy of Nat’s book on