Monday, December 28, 2009

Happy New Year: Two Weeks in a Row

Yep, I have posted two weeks in a row. This is a record of historical significance. Songs will be sung. Poems written. A feast ordered in my name.

I wanted to share a few links:

1. A business reporter with Newsday (which covers Long Island, NY) included me in her column about motivating employees at small businesses.

2. I found this review of my book published in the South China Morning Post. I didn't even know they were working on a review. So, if someone from the South China Morning Post reads this blog, thank you very much for the excellent review. Actually, I think this is my favorite review of my book.

3. I appeared on the Career Solutions radio show a couple of weeks ago. The podcast has not posted yet. However, here is the interview I did with them in the summer. Many of the same thoughts, the difference is that it was hot and humid outside when I said them.

Have a Happy New Year.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Tis the Season for a New Post

I am starting my 2010 blogging goal this week. I will post every Monday. Let's see how long I can last.

A client asked me to answer the following questions for their conference publicity. So, I thought I would share. Have a great week.

1. Why do you do what you do (three or four sentences)?

I always tell people the speaking business chose me. When I started, I had no idea people spoke for a living. I was just having fun, performing some improvisation games and talking about teamwork and creativity. If someone offered me a chicken lunch and a paperweight with a clock in it, I was thrilled. My wife says I found a way to combine my two passions: making people laugh and telling people what I think.

2. What is your most important professional goal (two-three sentences)?

My goal is to always have fun and be passionate about what I do. Everything else will take care of itself. I don’t have a job. I have a passion. From that passion, I am rewarded each day.

3. What, when and where was your first paid job (two sentences)?

I delivered a community newspaper, which came out once a week. I think I started the paper route around the fifth or sixth grade, and I gave it up during high school.

4. Your personal philosophy of life (three or four sentences)?

Stay hydrated. Always use sunscreen. Always recycle. Give back. Eat lots of fruit. Leave things better than when you found them. And everything goes better with laughter.

5. Your favorite quote:

“It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbled or how the doer of deeds might have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred with sweat and dust and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause and who, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States of America

6. What did you want to be when you grew up?

At different times in my childhood, I wanted to be a doctor, comedian and a writer. As Meat Loaf once said, “Two out of three ain’t bad.”

Quick Facts:

Last book read:

I read about 37 books a day. Most of them are about a large red dog, furry monsters, trucks, firefighters, a curious monkey, magic tree houses, dinosaurs, and other assorted talking cars and animals.

Hometown fair:

We attend the State Fair of Texas every year. Sometimes, we go twice.

Favorite fair food:

The first thing I eat at the fair is a Fletcher’s corny dog. Everything else comes second.

Best Vacation Spot:

I have to add some specifics.

Best ski vacation: Whistler, British Columbia.
Best Island vacation: Kauai
Best European vacation: Scotland or Italy
Best golf vacation: Pinehurst, North Carolina or Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Best California vacation: Carmel, Sonoma County or San Diego.
Best theme park vacation: Disney World.
Most recent “best” vacation: Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Pharaohs' Code

A colleague of mine, Mohamed Tohami, has written a new book called the “The Pharaohs' Code”. Tohami interviewed me on his podcast a few months ago. I had a great time on the podcast. My favorite part was answering questions from listeners around the world, including the woman who may or may not have been screaming at her cat. You will have to listen to the podcast to see what that means.

You can check out Tohami's book here:

Here is what Tohami sent me about his book:

"It's the latest trend in the science of success, even though it delivers a message from 5000 years ago – a message that contains invaluable wisdom that has been true over the entire human history. The key to one of the major transformations in his life was the Pyramid of Khufu, also called the Great Pyramid of Giza – the most magnificent and only remaining monument of the 7 Wonders Of The World."

"When he entered it, he saw a narrow passageway that goes upward between huge stone blocks, exuding the ancient smell of mystery and magic. After a long journey up the passageway, and even crawling through a hole in a wall, he finally reached the chamber of the King Khufu. It's a huge room at the exact center of the pyramid."

"And he stood there for some time to observe the spirit and the meaning of the place.Then he realized an important insight. He felt that the Pharaohs had given him a message to carry to the world from 50 centuries ago. And the message is that we can find our joy and happiness, and we can build an everlasting success only if we strive to stand out, like the Pyramid, make a difference and serve other people in every way we can."

"And now, in his new book “The Pharaohs’ Code”, Tohami reveals amazing secrets of the Pharaohs that will inspire you to find joy in your life, and hence make a difference and leave a legacy that ensures you, like the Pharaohs, will stand out and be long remembered in the hearts and minds of others."

Tohami is celebrating the official launch of his new book "The Pharaohs’ Code" by giving away over 80+ hours of exclusive Success interviews from his podcast. Tohami has interviewed Jim Cathcart, Tony Alessandra, Mark Sanborn, Michael Gerber and yours truly. To get the deal, you need to order his book before MIDNIGHT TONIGHT at:

Here is the link to Amazon: The Pharaohs' Code. Send him an e-mail that you purchased his book and he will give you access to the interviews on

Monday, March 9, 2009

Time to Grab Your Harmonica

I lost my job during the last major recession in 1991. They called me on Sunday and said the newspaper would close the next day. I had just moved to Dallas a little less than six months prior to the announcement. I was told to come down to the office and clean out my desk.

I was in a new job in a new city. I had very few contacts, no prospects, and barely any savings. Hanging up the phone, I took a deep breath and looked around my very sparse one bedroom apartment. I knew what I had to do: I grabbed my harmonica.

When I arrived at the newspaper's building, employees were packing up boxes; commiserating, a few were crying, and most were basically trying to figure out what they would do next. I headed to the back loading dock where the local media had encamped.

Let me pick up the story with the description I wrote in my book, Make the Right Choice:

"For no other reason than to prove that I was back in control of my happiness and attitude, I stood on the back dock of the newspaper in front of the television news cameras and made up a blues song about losing my job. I barely know how to play one note on the harmonica. It didn't matter. I just started making up lyrics about losing my job. The cameras started clicking. The television cameras zoomed in for better focus. I performed for a few minutes until someone pulled me off the dock and said to me, "You will never work in this town again." I swear someone said this to me. I am not making this up."

Yep, I just lost my job. Yep, I had very little money. Yep, I was playing a very poor rendition of the blues on my harmonica. It was one of the best days of my life. We have the choice to wake up in the morning and be bitter, frustrated and stressed. We also have the choice to be happy, energized and passionate. I chose the latter. Every normal, sane person given the choice would choose passion and happiness. Why do we so often choose to be bitter and stressed? Sometimes, we allow something out of our control to decide for us. We allow the economy, the situation, someone's words; or someone's actions make the choice. If it was truly our choice, we would choose happiness.

Anyway, back to the story from my book:

"I decided I was going to choose happiness. My blues performance made the front page of the Fort Worth newspaper and two local newscasts. Thinking back on it now, I think my performance made the paper and the news broadcasts because I chose my attitude. When someone loses their job, you don't expect them to stand in front of news cameras and perform an off-key and somewhat comical blues performance.

You see, the day was a life-changing experience. I didn't know what I was going to do next. I didn't know where I was going to live or work. I did know that I wanted to have ownership again for my happiness and attitude."

We are all going through a difficult time. We can either let it beat us down and become stressed and frustrated. Or, we can choose to be passionate and energized and find a way to succeed. We need to focus more on our customers and each other. We need to live and work more in the moment. We need to have more fun. What do you plan on doing? I am going to grab my harmonica.

Please read the rest of my Fall newsletter here.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Now is the Time to Communicate

I wanted to share some thoughts on communication from my book and my presentations. Now, more than ever we need to make sure we effectively communicate with each other. We have to help each other be successful. To do this, we must focus, listen, and communicate.

Focus is the start of good communication.

  1. We must increase our focus when dealing with employees, managers and customers.
  2. Listening is the most important tool in communication. Listening will allow us to be better leaders, teammates, and communicators. Listening also increases creativity.
  3. Good listening is a choice.

In the Moment

  1. We must be open and flexible to change.
  2. We have no control over many things.
  3. We always control our attitude and how we react to change.
  4. By being in the moment when we communicate, we are more prepared for whatever happens next. Being prepared allows us to be successful and more productive.

Three C's: The goal is to communicate to your audience effectively so they are comfortable, confident and in control.

  1. Be a leader and help the other person be comfortable, confident and in control.
  2. Provide the right details at the right time.
  3. Be patient.
  4. Be flexible.
  5. Be open to ideas.
  6. Define constant communication.
  7. Speak up when something is bothering you.

Be more detailed. Everyone needs a different amount of details to effectively communicate. Give the right amount of details at the right time.

  1. Understand we are all different in how we communicate.
  2. Some people are chit-chat people and some are down to business. Communicate differently to each employee. Treat them as individuals and not as a group.
  3. Each employee will respond to different ways of communication.
  4. Be patient and positive.

Create a 50/50 partnership. Involve the employees in the communication process. If the employee has ownership and is involved, they care. When the employee cares, they have passion.

  1. Ask the question: How do I make the other people around me successful? This is the hardest part of effective communication. Most people come in to work and say, "What can everyone do for me today?"
  2. The dynamic shift is asking the question, "What can I do for the people around me to make them successful?" Ask the question. Answer the question. Act on the answer.

Stay in the Game

  1. Anyone can quit. The only way to be successful is to stay in the game. If you stay in the game, you might have to learn something new; get out of your comfort zone; communicate differently; or try a new approach. If you quit, you are guaranteed failure. If you stay in the game, you will fins success.
  2. Create opportunity for people to communicate. Match the opportunity with positive support. When was the last time you asked your employees what they needed to be happy?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Presentation Tips and Ideas

I was forwarded an inquiry this morning regarding an article on how executives can improve their presentation skills. The writer was looking for some tips. Since I have seen thousands of executives give presentations, I jotted down a few thoughts.

I plan on writing a full article based on these tips. Until then, I hope this helps.

As an executive speaker, please DO NOT:

1. Stand behind a lectern. Basically, you are standing behind a wall that separates you from the audience.

2. Read your presentation. We can all read. I don’t need to be read to like I was a toddler. Just e-mail the presentation.

3. Try to make jokes when you are not funny. Humor is a powerful tool. Please do not make offensive jokes, bad jokes, jokes that exclude.

4. Use business clichés. I don’t want to hear about synergy, cross-functional team environment or a paradigm shift. As soon as I hear someone say these things, I know they are full of it.

5. Give me tired and used examples of other company’s success. Nordstrom’s, Disney and Starbucks are all great companies. I got it. Do a little more research and uncover something I haven’t heard 1,000 times.

6. Overuse PowerPoint. A few key words and phrases are all you need. I don’t need the history of your organization and the theory to global peace all on one slide.

As an executive speaker, please DO the following:

1. Connect with your audience. Speak to the audience and reach out to them from the stage.

2. Move around the stage a little. Don’t just stand there behind the lectern.

3. Speak from the heart.

4. Understand that you are going to make mistakes. Nobody cares. I would rather you be real, make mistakes and have fun with them, then read a boring presentation full of business clichés.

5. Have something to say. We all know where we have been. We know where we are. Tell us where we are going. The rest you can send in an e-mail.

6. Stay on time. Nobody wants to sit through your business cliché filled presentation as it runs 30 minutes over. I want to use the restroom. I want to have lunch.

7. Have a sound check before the presentation. Learn how to use the microphone. The time to do both is not during your presentation. “Is the microphone on?”

Finally, I want to give you a link to a great review of my book, Make the Right Choice:

Have a great week.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Survive the Recession: Listen to this Podcast

As you can tell, I have not posted in some time. Depsite the economy and the media preparing us for armageddon and the apocolypse, I have had a very busy last three months.

Here is my goal: I will try to post every Sunday/Monday with something. Anything. So, in honor of Cloris Leachman's continued pursuit of the mirror ball trophy on Dancing with the Stars, I give you my first blog post for the Fourth Quarter 2008. Or, as the history books will some day refer to it, the moment everyone realized that it wasn't such a good idea to buy everything on credit.

By the way, for those of you who do not respect Cloris Leachman the comedian, you might want to rent/buy Mel Brook's Young Frankenstein. It is certainly in my Top Ten funniest movies of all time. (

I recently was a guest on three podcasts/tele-seminars. On each, I talked about my book's messages on leadership, work/life balance, passion, communication, creativity, change and teamwork. Strange things seem to happen to me when I do these tele-seminars/podcasts/webcasts/phone interviews/whatever you call them.

Here is what happened during my last three:

1. During a tele-seminar, someone’s line became unmuted and the listener was having a conversation with I think was her cat. This is classic. To hear this podcast, you have to sign up as a member (I believe there is a fee).

2. Yesterday, I was being interviewed for a blog podcast when the host somehow dropped off the line. I began calling out his name like a lost child looking for a parent at the department store. And yes, the dead air and me calling out the host’s name was still in the podcast for a few days. I think, by now, it has been edited out. The podcast is free. Here is the link:

3. My most recent podcast was fun and uneventful. The podcast is free. Here is the link:

Have a great week. Happy Halloween