Sunday, June 26, 2022

Never Again

If only never again was always our choice. 

When last I wrote about Top Gun: Maverick, I mentioned we saw it in a regular theatre, and the sound was less that stellar. Last night, we remedied that, as our local AMC put it back in IMAX - though it was a 10:30 p.m. showing. The sound was tremendous. Made me realize even more how bad it was the first time. And the movie was still fun the second time around. 

However - I'm never doing that again. 

So tired today. Trouble even staying awake during the movie. Nope - I'll just be a little more patient, or I'll plan better when a movie is first released. It's all my choice. 

But never again isn't always our choice. There's the moment we never again will walk into the office - and not because we quit. There's the moment we never again will run as fast, jump as high, or climb as far as we did in our youth. And of course, there's the moment we realize we will never again speak to a parent, a spouse, a friend - as death has taken them. Sometimes we see those moments coming, sometimes they are unexpectedly thrust upon us. 

I write this simply to acknowledge to you that I do understand that never again is not always our choice. 

But when it is - it can be powerful. 

When we choose to never again smoke a cigarette, or pick up a drink. To never again waste 5 hours bingeing a Netflix series. To never again eat our way to bad health. There a countless 'never agains' that could change our lives, if we choose to create them. Only you know what they are. 

We always talk about what we want to do - you know, the 'gotta starts'. Our lives can get pretty cluttered. Try some 'never agains' - and then replace with those 'gotta starts'. 

Sorry AMC - 10:30 movies? Never again. As for my 'gotta starts' - maybe I'll take about those next time! Share your 'never agains' below - big or small, or somewhere in between!

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

How Authentic is TOO Authentic?


"I didn't expect an answer like that from you."

My answer was to a question on a speaking page on Facebook, asking what our biggest challenge is as a speaker. I answered: "Finding people to pay me" - the truth.

The conversation on my answer thread went down an interesting path. My fellow commenter was surprised I would have issues finding paid speaking opportunities. Apparently, my social media makes me look more successful, financially at least, than I am as a speaker.

I replied that I never say I am a high paid speaker. A great speaker? Yes. I'll say that - I'm at least above average! A fun speaker? An inspirational speaker? Yup and yup. I always have a place to speak, as Toastmasters. But getting paid? Nope. Not often. Not yet.

I went on to explain, as I usually end up doing once a month to various people in various circumstances, that I actually hold down a J.O.B. Yep - I sell advertising - newspaper advertising. It's right there on my LinkedIn profile for all to see. In fact, I've sold newspaper or magazine advertising for years in Utah, Washington, and Colorado.

On the SIDE - I'm a presentation consultant. Speaking coach. I help professionals discover, develop, and deliver their best message. Emerging keynoters, entrepreneurs, sales people, or poor Joe whose boss told him this morning he's giving a 45 presentation at their industry conference in two weeks. I've worked with engineers, nutritionists, accountants, politicians, marketers, even ex-convicts to help them build their message for maximum impact on stage. But it's a SIDE job - I don't market it as much as I could or should - and it doesn't regularly pay the bills.

Also on the SIDE - I'm a speaker. But I don't actively seek paid speaking opportunities. Yet. I get them every now and again, but it has not been a focus.

These leaves two WHY questions:

  1. WHY am I NOT a full-time speaker/speaking coach?

  2. WHY would I publicly ADMIT it - isn't that marketing suicide?


  1. WHY am I NOT a full-time speaker/speaking coach? I got married before either of these side jobs were even a glimmer. We had two kids from day one from her first marriage, and had four more within seven years. Three of the six had major medical issues, one requiring chemotherapy over a couple of years. The full story is complicated - a roller coaster that would scare the bravest amusement park goer - but to put it simply, financially and logistically, becoming a full-time entrepreneur, being absent as a working speaker, didn't make sense. Now, hindsight is 20/20, and maybe I could have made something work - but we make the best decisions we can at any given time. Today, I still have two kids at home, life is different, and I'm expanding what I allow myself to do - even while continuing to work my day job.

  2. Why ADMIT any of this on social media? Two-fold answer, I suppose. First, I don't go out of my way to explain myself (this article is a rare exception) - but if you piece together my speeches - when I talk about my daughter's tumor, our three kids with Neurofibromatosis, my own below-the-knee amputation, and combine it with various Facebook posts and twitter tweets, you'd have the full story. Because my life is my life, and I don't hide it. I just don't negatively linger on it. Second, I'm always fascinated that people see me as a financially successful person online, despite the fact that I never claim that I am. I'm not curating posts to deceive - no pictures in front of corvettes or private planes, and any travel I've done has been for Toastmasters or, in the case of DisneyWorld - Make-A-Wish. But I don't go out of my way to post about being at the end of my money before the end of the month (as most U.S. residents tend to be, by the way). I don't complain. I stay upbeat, try to avoid public controversy, and usually brush my hair before posting a picture. Usually.

I think I could be accused of being both TOO authentic, and not authentic ENOUGH. I never lie, but I do try to lead with positivity and professionalism. Doesn't always happen - especially on Instagram, Tik Tok, and Twitter - but I am who I am. If that costs me customers, so be it.

Ultimately, you have to decide the level of authenticity you want to put out into the world. What are you comfortable with people knowing about you? Are you determined to put just one side of who you are out into the world, to ensure you get or keep your job? To impress your friends? Hey, no judgment here. The crazy thing is this: no matter who you paint yourself as in the world of social media, people will still form their own opinions based on their own place in the world, and their personal and/or virtual interactions with you. They may be spot-on, or totally wrong, or, more likely, somewhere in-between. Different platforms can lend themselves to different parts of your personality, and you can build different audiences. Whatever you do, be intentional about doing it, and prepared to deal with the consequences, bad or good.

Of course, the authenticity question isn't new with social media. People have always had their split personalities - there's the family you, the work you, the dating you, the church you - all different, whether you admit it or not. Now there's the online you - which is more all-encompassing, more complex, more risky, and more public. Which is why I'd rather err on the side of TOO authentic - without giving out my social security number, at least.

If people think I'm wildly successful, wealthy, and the owner of six-pack abs, so be it. Someday, maybe all of that will be as authentic as what I'm authentic about: Husband. Father. Speaker. Coach. Consultant. Author. Super-hero fan. #WinAnyway

Want to set up a free 30 min presentation consult with me? Message me, and we'll make that happen - and start you on your way to delivering your best message.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Are You Paying Focused Attention?

I was off course.

I'd bought two tickets to Top Gun: Maverick for my wife and me for Saturday. I was disappointed, however, that no where in the area were any theatres showing it in IMAX or Dolby, as the newest Jurassic World movie had supplanted Tom Cruise after just two weeks!

On the AMC site, you can choose different theatres in the chain, but my search was fruitless - only small or semi-small theatres were available, and even those were filling up fast. I picked the biggest small theatre I could, got ideal back row seats, and went to bed knowing I had at least gotten us safely into the movie.

Next day, Kristi, who used to manage the theatre we were headed to, asked which screen I got us tickets for (it's a 24 screen theater) - so I went to double check. Turns out I had bought us tickets for the AMC 20 minutes away, instead of our local location, just five minutes down the street. I was so irritated, so distracted...after my fruitless search of other theatres, I forgot to switch back to our default location, and bought the right tickets at the wrong place.

End of the world? No. Canceled the tickets, found suitable seats at a similar time at the close theater, and off we went. Mission accomplished.

BUT - if she hadn't asked, I might not have noticed it until we were already at the wrong place, without time to get to the right one, and the inconvenience would have been far more frustrating to all involved. She told me this situation was a top three customer service complaint she used to deal with before she changed careers.

Bottom line - I wasn't paying attention - focused or otherwise.

Our lives are filled with distractions. Distractions that cost us our focus, eat up our time, and often have a direct effect on our bottom line - be that financial, emotional, or familial. We often justify our distractions - even brag about multi-tasking. But studies show we can only focus on one task at a time - so multi-tasking isn't doing a lot of different tasks simultaneously, but doing a lot of tasks in short, interrupted bursts. Thinking of it that way reveals the obvious potential downfalls - forgotten steps, taking extra time to reset, and even losing track of the end goal.

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Even writing this article, I've been bombarded with beeps, buzzes, and screen blips on my second monitor. That doesn't even account for the distractions of the brain, as I let thoughts about the rest of my day slip in (gotta pick up drycleaning, want to update my gym membership, have a networking meeting tonight, need to get the kids to do laundry and vacuum) - and it sends me away from my actual task at hand. Which was.....

Right - the article. Are you paying attention? Focused attention? Try it. Set a task timer - 5, 10, 15 minutes, and just do one task. (Yes, this is the Pomodoro technique). It's not easy, but it IS effective. Certainly more effective than letting ourselves get completely overwhelmed by everything we have to think about.

Pay attention - and stay out of the Danger Zone - unless it's playing in the right theatre, at the right time!


Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Just Because You've Arrived Doesn't Mean It's Your Last Stop.

Have you arrived?

As in, have you reached a point in your life where you're completely happy? Ready to just put yourself in park and watch the world go by?

I'm betting not, or you wouldn't be reading this. I know these people must exist. Right? Or is it simply a function of being human to never be completely happy?

What about those folks who meditate and claim to be in a complete Zen state? Or Great Grandfather who watches ME TV in his rocking chair all day, reliving the glory days of Maverick and The Rifleman? I would suggest even they are attempting to put themselves INTO a state of complete happiness, vs. being in one by default.

Life is a long series of iterations. We change from one day to the next. Sometimes we move forward, sometimes we move back. This happens not just day to day, but often hour to hour, or even minute to minute.

This week, I converted my latest book, Go Ahead & Laugh Vol II (an iteration by definition!) to Kindle. As I did so, I ran across numerous typos I now need to go and fix in the paper version. I swear I went through that original manuscript with a fine tooth comb – and yet....

When you realize you're off course with your diet, with your relationship, with your career, you try to course correct. Sometimes it's something small, other times, you take giant steps in a new direction.

There does come a time when you and I just have to, as Seth Godin puts it, 'ship it'. Publish the book. Marry the one you love. Buy the house. But even these seemingly permanent decisions are no longer as permanent as they once were.

Heck, marriage is hardly permanent - it hasn't been for years, and unless you're iterating your way through it every day, it likely won't last very long. Few people buy a home and live there the rest of their lives, and even if they do, you can bet they upgrade the carpet, the windows, or the kitchen. Even books come out with expanded, revised, and updated editions with 'bonus content'.

Nothing is truly permanent, and ultimately, that creates an active, ever-changing world. On a grand scale, a local scale, and on your personal scale.

Does that create unrest within you? Do you suddenly feel the urge to go back and make sure your last project is truly complete? That's OK. But it doesn't mean you have to go backward. Maybe your next iteration is a completely new project, a new goal. A new YOU.

Ultimately, life is an iterative process. If it's not, you're probably not really living. Or you're really completely happy with the status quo - and should write a book or start a coaching program - except that would require iteration.

It's up to you to direct your iterations – to know when to ship, to know when to revisit, to know when to move on to something new. Even 'knowing when' is an iterative process. The process to #WinAnyway is iterative - Review, Celebrate, Redesign, Act - it's a process of moving forward with strength and momentum.

Even if you've arrived - it doesn't have to be your last stop. #IterateAnyway.



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