R3H1: Could This Be the Answer to ALL Your Problems?

February 3rd, 2016

18123690_sWhat is your problem? It may not matter. R3H1 may be the one answer that directly solves about 98% of what is bugging you, getting in your way, and keeping you stressed.

R3H1 is my code for Rules, Routines, Rituals and Habits.

Arising from the science of project management, R3H1 gets you focused on working out the ideal process to overcome or complete something – anything. Then you simply follow through on the process steps you set out, rather than stressing about reaching the ideal goal.

Anytime you can substitute work for worry: you know you have a winning strategy.

Worrying is “illegitimate suffering,” per psychologist CG Jung and many others since Jung first studied neurosis.

Worrying keeps you circling a problem, but weirdly it also stops you from solving it. You simply cannot worry your way out of bad circumstances, unless you want to fall into victimhood and expect the charity of others – emotional or otherwise – to bail you out.

We all have the friend or co-worker who seems overwhelmed almost all the time. Each OMG episode somehow comes to a bumpy end and delivers relief, if not the ideal result. This is the person without a process who hosts a dinner party but doesn’t remember to get enough chairs to seat everyone. This is the friend who enrolled in a college course but can’t write or edit a term paper.

It’s you when you think you are crushing on someone and then you realize you hardly know the person. So you and all your friends must be consumed with worry about what your prospective romantic partner means by not texting, texting daily, or texting on a weekend but not asking you out.

Imagine if you had a process to follow that cut through all this suffering. Imagine how much you would enjoy a sense of accomplishment, plus the freedom and creativity you yearn to enjoy. Imagine if all the rules, routines, rituals and habits were ones you choose consciously, experiment with, and settle on.

Work, love, relationships, dinner parties, deadlines, big projects, and new job searches: anything becomes easier when you set up a process and follow it.

That is the greatest value of R3H1 to me. It is the source of confidence I have. Living with the rules, routines, rituals and habits I created for myself, leaves me with time to think, reflect, have fun, develop new ideas and love.

Love? Why would a personal brand need R3H1 to get the time and space to love? Isn’t it a basic human emotion? Yes. It’s just that getting time to act with love, engage with love and revel in love only occurs when there is time available to do it. I have to put a lot of my life into R3H1, so I can save my brain for big things and that includes relationships.

Do this. Whatever your problem is, document your current process in dealing with it. Consciously follow your process steps for a week. At the end of each day rate the results. How do you feel? What do you do right? What could you refine? What needs to change completely? Is there something that could give you a better arc toward your end goal?

Much like a food diary, a process diary gives you an objective look at your life. It’s private unless you are open to dialogue about it. You can select someone you trust – a partner, great friend or coach to help you talk through what steps you are taking – and which ones might bear changing.

For example, a client of mine made these three rules for leaving the house. “I make the bed, defrost the dog food, and get to work a half hour before I’m due for a meeting.” Her meetings became hugely successful because she felt confident. She felt mastery over her mornings, often the most chaotic part of our day.

So, if you are seeking a promotion, battling with a co-worker, going after a new career or building a business: consider each goal as an opportunity to document your process, review it, change it and get a bigger, better result in your life and work.


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Personal Branding Pledge 2016

January 6th, 2016



This is the real time, a surreal time when obstacles fall away

By simply approaching them and encroaching on a new field of play

I go where I want because suddenly nothing is too tough

No barrier is too tall, no opponent is too rough to defeat me

Today, this year, or the remainder of my time here

No ogre, no monster, no bully, no evildoer

Will be the boss of me or scare from moving forward

Suddenly it’s clear, this is no time to stall or stray

This no time to malinger, no time to delay

I demand rather than declare

I command rather than dare

Now I am in charge of my time, my mind and my career

It took me quite a while to find out the truth

This life is a jagged path

There are no perfect routes

I have found my way home on my own in the dark

So I am not afraid to go out on my own anymore

I am not afraid of hearing there might be closed doors

Or that people won’t approve or vote yes or pitch in

I am on a road worth traveling even if I am alone

There is freedom ahead and what could be a bigger win

Than relying on myself and getting away from the din

Of naysayers and grumblers and bullies and bears

I rise on the heat of all their hot air

Yes, that’s me way up high, above and ahead

In a place of my own, where no could have led me

Because each of us has a unique way, we must find

Our own place called success that’s uniquely sublime

So stop trying to steal mine, compete with me or else

You will lose your precious battle, which is really with yourself

When you find your own path, you will love what you see

I’ll be happy for you, because I am happy with me

Feel free to ignore me if you can’t bear my zeal

Because this is my time, my path and my purpose for real


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The New TLC: Trustworthy, Likable, and Charismatic!

December 16th, 2015

22087247_sGet ready for a shock to your ego. You may be the most reliable, congenial and caring individual – but it don’t mean a thing if you don’t have that zing! By zing, I mean that magnetic power some people have to light up a room with their personality. Charisma.

For a long time, we’ve known that prospects and referrers are drawn to people whom they find trustworthy, likable and caring. There’s an old adage:

No one cares about what you know, until they know that you care.

It’s true. People like other people who seem to care about them, as well as those who share the same values, goals and perspectives. For your current clients or employer, you want to project trustworthiness, likeability and caring.

But TLC (trust, likability and caring) turns out to be necessary but not sufficient if you are building your business or career and need to really connect with people.

A recent scientific finding proves charisma is more important than any other quality. This may explain the current presidential candidate polls, because charisma doesn’t equal telling the truth or appealing to people’s higher morals and values. It just means ….. what?

What exactly is charisma, from a scientific point of view?

Being fast with responses to questions, both general and specific. Appearing to be quick witted and able to almost effortlessly express your point of view is what magnetizes an audience to you. And, if you know my work, “audience” is the word I use for anyone or ten thousand “anyones” you’re speaking to.

But, where does that leave those of us who need time to think before we speak? Frankly, it leaves the less prepared in the dust. When it comes to remembering and liking someone, the winner is almost always the person who has the ability to speak up on-the-spot.

That’s why I invented “trigger talk” for myself, and my clients who are in a myriad of fields but need to impress others with their competence and attractiveness. Trigger talk is perfect for the 99.5% of us who are not good at improvising, but need to make a great impression with our personal brands.

Trigger talk is simply 25-50 phrases or sentences that you prepare and practice before you need them. For example, job seekers should expect to hear: “So tell me about yourself.” If you’re not prepared: that long silence before you speak up isn’t just uncomfortable, it’s a killer mistake. The same is true for conversations about the topics of the day, or those specific to your business or industry.

The success of my clients has proven that charisma is not the star quality that only a few are born to have.

Just take the time to create your own trigger talk. Start with the news of the day, your favorite way to spend down time or why you are seeking that new job or client. Then get together a brief sentence or two on each topic that matters to you. Trigger talk makes for easy conversation – and an even easier road to the top!


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What Do You Give A Mentor at Thanksgiving?

November 25th, 2015


Mentors are an uncelebrated group of devoted individuals, who often give their time in return for nothing more than your carrying on their legacy of giving back. If you have a mentor, you know the advice, conversations, guidance, interest and encouragement may be the single greatest determinant of your success. A mentor can help you keep a good job, gain a promotion or help you transition to a position more suited to your nature, your personal brand and your skills.

Isn’t it wonderful to have someone not just rooting for you, but acting as your advocate, sounding board and trusted advisor?

Every year I choose two people to mentor, although if you looked at my calendar, you would wonder why. Or more directly ask: how do they get fit into such a demanding schedule? I ask myself the same question every week. But, somehow the time gets set aside and the sessions take place.

The two people I mentor are simply and truly wonderful.

They are hardworking, self-motivated and put into practice everything we cover. We have a terrific dialogue, where we raise questions, go over details, discuss potential strategies and end with a list of tactical changes for them to put into play.

The best part is they report back their progress.

Sometimes I get a text that shares the triumph of their actions. I get to hear them crowing about their latest achievement. Sometimes I get a urgent text that asks a need-to-know-right-now question. I tap back some alternatives, with some predictions about how they will be received.

I welcome these short interruptions as much as our mentoring sessions, because they reflect how seriously these individuals are taking our time together.

That’s all the thanks mentors need.

You might not have a formal mentoring relationship, like the ones I have with my mentees. You might not have the same magnitude of access, attention or advice from a mentor. But you may have quite a number of people who have taken an interest in you, answered some questions or provided some direction for you.

Those less formal relationships are the ones that you might want to honor at this time of the US Thanksgiving holiday. Send a card, an email, make a call or text the people who have helped you out this year. Let them know what you’ve done, how far you’ve come and if you’ve passed on their legacy, by doing a little mentoring of your own.

Yes, now is the time to give thanks to all the people who have done at least a little something to guide you, been a shoulder for you or in some way made your life better. I have a long list of those people, since being a mentor does not mean I know it all – I just know some of the finest people in business, and they have made my journey easier, safer and richer.

You are one of my informal mentors. Each week, you give me a destination; a time to reflect on what’s important and what I have to share about it in a blog that’s read by people all around the world. Without that responsibility, my life would not be as rich or filled with the connectedness I share with 4.5 million people who read my blogs, books, posts or attend my learning programs.

So two words from me to reflect on now: thank you.

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How Do You Make Facebook Enemies?

November 18th, 2015


With every attack on innocent people everywhere: we try not to lose faith in humanity. We urge each other to believe that good triumphs over evil. We propound that we will continue to go out, to shop, to go to school, venture out to work, eat in cafes and attend concerts.

We say that to stay at home and hide, means the terrorists win. They terrorize even those of us who are still safe and uninjured, because our safety seems tenuous and we begin to doubt our freedom and second guess where we should travel.

Terrorism is the enemy of freedom.

But there is a bizarre number of angry personal statements that erupt with each event. What seems to spark this outcry is when other people show sympathy and unity with the attacked.

Of course, this most recently happened when apparently ISIS killed and maimed hundreds of people in Paris. Several of my friends on Facebook changed their profile photos to the colors of the French flag. Several displayed art that re-interpreted the peace sign into the Eiffel Tower.

Unbelievably, this set up a war of whose death matters. Some posts I read in reaction to the terrorism in Paris:

“Facebook doesn’t have a Kenya flag update on people’s profiles!”

“Nearly 2,000 Civilians Were Killed in a Single Terror Attack in Nigeria—Where Was Facebook?”

“Where is the Facebook flag for Syria?”

It’s unbelievable, but each tragedy sets up a war about profile graphics on Facebook.

I always wonder about what such admonishments say about the personal brands who hurl them.

If your grandparent dies, and someone gives you sincere condolences do you condemn that person as mean-spirited or disrespectful for not sending condolences to everyone who lost a grandparent?

I don’t know about you, but I did not seek to overlook, deny or avoid the importance of tragic events in any place; in any of 196+ countries on the planet. Violence against innocent people, enslavement, beheadings, and all manner of horror have been part of the world events I attend to and grieve.

There is not a country without violence, inhumanity, and terror.

But it is not a competition. Nor a time for aggression against mourners.

If you are moved by events of any place and you wish to change your profile photo – you do not need Facebook’s graphics team to give you a flag to transpose over your face.

You can do that yourself. And, when you do: you will perhaps inform those who know less than you do. Or, you will affirm your solidarity with those who know what you know.

But, don’t use the most recent tragedy to start a war of words, or attack on anyone’s character. Not all of us wear our grief on our profile photos. Most of us bear the sadness of the world’s inhumanity in our hearts.

There is no flag for how I feel, although I respect those who post one. There are lyrics by John Lennon that seem to sum up what I imagine might eventually come to pass to save us all.

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace.

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Is There Really Cross-Cultural Communication?

November 11th, 2015

7066445_sAs a corporate director of global marketing, a former Coke executive (in 190 countries around the world) and an instructor of Global Marketing at UCLAx: I could not be more cross-culturally inclined. So, with all the authority that I can muster, I tell you this.

There is zero communication between people of different countries or cultures.

To be successful, you must start with the belief that you are not just talking a different language than the other party: you are talking about concepts that you in no way share with anyone from another country or culture. Of course, culture means you don’t have to step outside your own office or Skype to dust up the differences.

What differs between cultures? The meaning of everything.

“Funds are being wired to you today.” That has no meaning whatsoever.

Neither do documents they sign. Leases. Contracts. Approvals.

Nor conventional business practices like paying employees. Paying rent. Paying any bill. Bank accounts having money in them. Reimbursing expenses. Having reasonable inventory on hand. Gluten-free, fragrance free and sulfate-free.

None of those concepts are universal.

In fact, the violation of what may seem like really basic business 101 procedures, or illegal business practices and ethics to you? Not even close to what the other party believes the definitions or boundaries are.

Hence, among the questions I ask most in global business right now is this.

How MANY is amazing? This in response to:

“We had an amazing response at the trade show.”

“We have an amazing number of products in our line.”

“The media coverage was amazing.”

Once again, I ask. How many is amazing?

Because, as a classically trained and practicing marketer: I have metrics on my mind. Simple ones like: we need a specific number of qualified prospects to sign up as actual customers, to generate measurable income to sustain or grow a business.

Of course, growth is anther concept that is not universal.

For me, growth means more revenue and profit. Increasing the product line, when you see evidence of sales from other products. Expanding to other countries as your current markets generate the income to do so.

Silly me.

Because metrics don’t mean a thing if the other party simply rages at vendors who want to be paid. Not apologetic. They get righteously angry at an unpaid vendor who won’t ship more? Who knew? They want you to convince the vendor, landlord, or clients that zero is one million dollars? Apparently this is done in other lands, just not one on planet Earth as I know it.

So fair warning. Do not believe anything from anyone. Do not think you heard what you heard, even though you recorded the conversation (with everyone’s permission). Listening to that audio over and over to see what went wrong? It will only drive you insane.

In order to have any communication, you have to believe you have nothing in common: not language, not meaning, and not intention. It’s exactly as Jim Camp says in his book about successful negotiations among any two parties, Start with NO!

As the distance between us all grows smaller, because WhatsApp, Skype, Facetime and jet airplanes make the world seem like we are all in this together: you realize one thing.

How far from each other we truly are.

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Evil Does Exist. It May be One of Your Coworkers.

November 4th, 2015

14383290_sNarcissists are among the most interesting coworkers. They are also repugnant, disruptive and poisonous to a business, and potentially to your career. That is, if your narcissist sees you as anything except a reflection of his or her greatness. So, you must interact with your narcissist as if everything she does deserves nothing but positive regard and appreciation. Otherwise, expect that your narcissist will attempt to destroy you.

Actually, no matter what you do: your narcissist will attempt to destroy you.

Our office narcissist has picked on everyone except me. That is, until Friday. Then, she pointed her ugly, crazy, manic, depressed, stressed-out-because-I-don’t-have-enough-work-to-do-but-I-have-too-much-work-to-do tantrum in front of me. This came right after it took me 30 seconds to find an important corporate contract that an investor said he needed. It had been created long before I arrived. Our narcissist said the document didn’t exist. After all, she had spent 5 days “looking for it.”

So there I was holding it in my hand after near-zero effort to get it. And my ease of finding it tripped the venom in her mouth to spew. At one point there were words like “you never had a friend” and “you think you know everything” coming like projectile vomit at me. “Stop,” I said. “Go away. I have to get this document to the investor.”

Ten minutes later, she walked by my office and stopped in the doorway. “Oh,” she said. “You’re still working? It’s after hours – do you want me to stay and help you?”

A dead calm hit me.

And in that moment of pure serenity, I had the epiphany.

OMG. She’s a malignant narcissist! A rare breed.

These are people who work to make trouble and cause distress, then reverse on you to suddenly become helpful and appear goodnatured. M. Scott Peck does a great job of describing malignant narcissists in his book, People of the Lie.

The thesis of Peck’s monumental work is this. These people are the evil in the human race.

They have a self-image of perfection. Excessive intolerance of criticism. Scapegoating. Disguise and pretense. Intellectual deviousness. Greed. Coercion and control of others. Symbiotic relationships. Lack of empathy.

So it took two months to actually “diagnose” her, just in time for our malignant narcissist to give her 30 days notice. When we gratefully accepted? She changed her mind. After all, as a malignant narcissist: you believe giving and taking back your resignation would be your right.

This will be an eventful week. We anticipate lots of (false) accusations, blaming, crying, sick days, and precision attacks on the character of others. That is, after all, how we went from “Isn’t she amazing?” to “What’s wrong with her?” At least now we are over the confusion – which is the first sign that you have an malignant narcissist.

She’s not crazy. She’s not suffered any misfortune. She is simply a bad apple, as organizational psychologist Adam Grant calls these folks. Or evil, as the renowned psychiatrist Peck calls them.

For the rest of us good eggs, it’s been a startling realization.

So, if you have been confused, aggravated and disrupted by a co-worker, subordinate or superior: wow! Isn’t it nice to know there’s a diagnosis for these folks? And, as a boss I find it reassuring to learn there is no amount of training, no amount of support and even no magnitude of praise that I could muster to help her.

I had a plant like this in the outer reaches of my property at home. The plant is called poison ivy. It makes you itch, blister and scar. It looks benign, even nice. But, it’s poisonous. Just have to cut it out. Then the rest of the plants can blossom.

And so we will.


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Are You the Office Trick or Treat?

October 28th, 2015

36096388_mOrganizational leadership guru Adam Grant recently commented on what spoils a workplace culture. It’s surprisingly simple. It takes just one person to obliterate a collaborative, supportive and positive environment. It doesn’t have to be a person at the top. One mean-spirited, conniving, credit-hogging, work-shirking colleague will ruin your day, your week, or however long you can stand being employed in the same organization.

One rotten apple spoils the barrel.

But one good egg does not make a dozen.

It’s unfortunate to learn that one super-generous, caring and helpful colleague does not cancel out the dirty trickster.

In other words, an organization can’t neutralize a bad apple with a good egg.

That frustrates a lot of workers who enjoy their work and each other. No matter how large the group that gets along and happily produces great work, the impact of a negative, slacking, tattletale telling lout is an unstoppable, sickening virus.

In a client company that I consult with now, there is a really bad apple. In fact, he is a poison apple. He fakes illness. He doesn’t return emails. He verbally attacks junior staff. He demands help when he simply doesn’t want to do his own work.

This was an open secret before I arrived. Now it’s exploded – because he has finally lost the few allies who personally liked him despite his behavior at work.

There is only one answer. It’s a choice, really. He either gets fired or the company will devolve: making less profit, generating less revenue, getting less worker productivity and lots more errors because caring is wearing thin among the minions.

Company layoffs, financial belt-tightening and vulnerability to competitive threats are often laid at the feet of various departments. What went wrong? Did finance manage cash poorly or fail to secure the right financing? Did marketing make bad decisions about buyer behavior and preferences? Were sales reps not filling their prospecting funnels or selling upgrades and add-ons? Has R&D missed the category roadmap, or built when it should have acquired?

“WHAT went wrong?” is commonly asked; however, “what” is the beginning of the wrong question.

WHO went wrong? That’s the question few companies ask or address. Why?

It’s nearly impossible for top management to imagine that ONE person – something so granular in an organization – could be responsible for organizational dystopia or even its demise.

It’s difficult to imagine one person can infect an entire organization.

But, come off an airplane where one person coughed and sneezed throughout a five hour flight, and within the week you have a former planeload of passengers who are now just a bunch of sick people unable to work.

As Adam Grant advises: fire the taker, the faker, the bad seed and the trickster.

Like pruning my beloved rose trees so they can flourish again, I made that recommendation this week.

Watch this space. More will be revealed.

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