Your Future Called…Here’s 10 Things You Should Know

People will dictate the future. It won’t be a poll, the Internet, social media, or some secret government agency.


  1. The future will start, as always, with ideas.  The ideas that become reality will be those that capture the imagination of strangers, most never knowing the origin of the ideas they now “own” emotionally.

  3. People will dictate the future.  It won’t be a poll, the Internet, social media, or some secret government agency.  People, acting in the pursuit of their own self-interest, will decide with their votes at the ballot box, and the way they choose to spend their dollars.

  5. Nothing predicts your future better than your own attitude and expectations.

  7. The future belongs to those with personal motivation, determination, and a willingness to fail in pursuit of success.

  9. Your future is finite, just like everyone else’s.  Enjoy today as your prepare to greet tomorrow.

  11. 99.9999% of your success will happen when you open yourself to helping others succeed first.  Of course, you already know that since you listen to Zig Ziglar.

  13. The mark you leave on the world starts and ends with those closest to you.  Everything else is a bonus.

  15. Learn to teach and you will never stop learning, or helping others.  This is closely related to number 6.

  17. You are the only arbiter and defender of your core values.  Think about your core values, understand why you have them, and live them to the fullest, every day.

  19. History continues to find its way into the future.  Study history.  Study the people who drove history.  Learn the lessons history provides like your future depends on it…because it does.

Seven Steps to Creating Your Goalprint

People who buy shovels don’t want shovels…

There’s a classic quote in business:

People who buy shovels don’t want shovels.  They want to make holes, or fill in holes as quickly and easily as possible.

Chances are pretty good that you’re selling shovels to someone.  Or, maybe you dig the holes?

Either way, the planning, the shovel, the digging, and the hole itself are all merely steps along the way to achieving someone’s goals.

Your goals?  Maybe…that all depends on whether you know what your goals are.

The funny thing about goals is that no one has the same goals.  They may share some, or agree on goals to pursue together.  But, no two people have the exact same goals.

Each of us has a goalprint as unique as our fingerprint.  It captures our passions, our dreams, and the specific goals we’ve laid out for our lives.  Partially-developed goalprints live in our subconscious mind, until we take the time to bring them into our conscious mind and fully define them.

Consciously defining our unique goalprint isn’t easy.  Nothing worthwhile ever is.

Here are the seven steps for creating and living your personal goalprint:

1.  Define five things you are most passionate about, and how you plan to center your life around these passions over the next five years.  Not willing to focus your life on this list of passions?  Maybe these aren’t really your passions.

2.  Define at least seven things you plan to experience over the next ten years.  A quasi-bucket list, only with a ten-year horizon.  Notice this isn’t a list of seven things you want to experience, rather a list of the seven things you plan to experience.  How many of these involve the things you are most passionate about?

3.  Money isn’t everything, but it does make the world go around.  With this in mind, write down how much money or assets you plan to have set aside for big ticket expenditures (i.e., home purchases, kids’ college, retirement, something you were passionate about in item 1, etc.) in one year, five years, ten years, and twenty years.  What income do you need to hit these targets?  Start saving now, if you haven’t already.

4.  Define what you plan to be in one year, five years, ten years, and twenty years.  This can be personal, professional, or anything else you define as what you plan to be.  Keep working until your “what” supports what you’ve listed in the first three steps.

5.  If you’re blessed with a spouse, or a soon-to-be-spouse, compare and discuss your answers in the first four steps above.  What do you have in common?  Are your goalprints compatible?  How will you each accommodate and support your spouse’s goalprint in the coming years?

6.  Hold yourself accountable for fulfilling what you’ve laid out in your goalprint as you make decisions in your life.  Enjoy defining success on your own terms.

7.  Repeat this exercise once a year.

Unlike fingerprints, our goalprint will change and grow over time.  That is, if we have the courage to let it.


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The Bargains We Make

I bargained with Life for a penny…

I came across this classic poem recently:

My Wage

I bargained with Life for a penny,

And Life would pay no more,

However I begged at evening

When I counted my scanty store.

For Life is a just employer,

He gives you what you ask.

But once you have set the wages,

Why, you must bear the task.

I worked for a menial’s hire,

Only to learn dismayed,

That any wage I had asked of Life,

Life would have willingly paid.

–by Jessie Belle Rittenhouse (1869-1948)

My Question for You

What is your bargain with Life?

Are you working for a penny, or something more?

How about your end of the deal?

Are you even keeping score?

If we get out of Life,

Only what we ask,

I say go for the Moon,

And reach for the stars.

But, are you willing to bear the task?

Just Another PICNIC

I learned a new acronym recently: PICNIC

I learned a new acronym recently:

                PICNIC–Problem in chair, not in computer.

“Way” back in the early 90’s when one of my jobs was desktop support, I referred to the same phenomena as a “nut on the keyboard” problem.  At least 80% of the “computer problems” were actually human problems.

It’s the same thing with Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer.  Most “dog” problems are human problems waiting to be solved.  Cesar spends most of his time “whispering” to dog owners.  Cesar can’t call his show The Human Whisperer, even if that’s an accurate description of the service he provides.  To do so would alienate the audience that he’s trying to help.

The challenge with humans is that most of us would rather not admit that we are the problem.  It’s so much easier to blame the computer, the dog, the airline, the car, traffic, evil Republicans, evil Democrats, government, the economy, our manager, our parents, our kids, society, the system.  The list of excuses is infinite.

The good news is that the solution to most of these “problems” is in the chair.

We Are All Mountain Climbers

Until you face a climb yourself, you can never fully understand what it takes.

AlanAroras--Mt Everest 2013

There it is…Mount Everest from the air.  Each year, about 150-200  climbers attempt to reach its summit, 29,029 feet above sea level.  There are thousands of other mountain peaks in the world, but Everest is the highest, and most challenging.  Of course, from this angle it looks pretty tame.

That’s the thing about mountains.  Perspective is everything.  Until you face a climb yourself, you can never fully understand what it takes.  Watching others make the climb, or hearing their stories about what it was like, are no substitute for taking on the climb for yourself.

Look around you.  If you look closely, you’ll see that each of us are climbing a mountain.  Some mountains are short and easy, while others are as high or higher than our friend, Mr. Everest.

This is the point where I could wax on poetically about striving for the highest peaks in life, chasing ever higher summits, new vistas, and new challenges.  Yes, do all of that.  Don’t let anyone stop you…especially yourself.

No, I’m not going to talk about the standard, inspirational mountain stuff.  Instead, I’m going to talk about weight.

When embarking on a climb, is it better to carry twenty pounds, fifty pounds, or one-hundred pounds of gear on your back?  Obviously, all things being equal, less weight is better.  Gravity is not your friend.

How much weight are you carrying on your climb?  Only the essentials?  Anything extra?  Are you carrying baggage that won’t be used?  Why?  Carrying all that extra baggage isn’t helping you reach your summit.

What about your fellow climbers, especially those closest to you?  How much extra baggage are they carrying?  How much of it is yours?

The best strategy for extra baggage (and its unnecessary weight) is to avoid packing it in the first place.



Photo Credit:  Alan Arora, who owes me some details on how he was able to be in the cockpit jump seat of an Airbus A319 at the perfect time to capture such a beautiful shot of Mount Everest.

What the Flock is Going on Here!?!?

Which are you, predator or prey?

Lots of animals live and move in groups.  Cows, sheep, wildebeest, mackerel, geese, humans…just to name some examples.  We’ve come up with lots of names for these groupings:  herd, flock, school, gaggle, gang, company, industry trade group, union, political party.

Each of these groupings have one primary purpose:  defense.  There is safety in numbers, or so the saying goes.  Groups moving in unison appear larger to predators.  Their coordinated movements confuse and intimidate those who would otherwise do harm to the individuals in the group.

When predators attack, they pick the weakest and most vulnerable in the group to attack first.  That’s okay with the group, since protection of the group as a whole is paramount.  Any particular individual is less important than the survival of the entire group.

Predators often travel alone.  Eagles, bears, cheetahs, sharks, jaguars, Tesla…all loners.  Sure, some predators travel in groups.  Lions have their pride.  Wolves have their pack.  Orcas and dolphins have their pods.  The primary goal of a predator, whether alone or in a group, is offense.  They work in a coordinated effort to maximize return on their energy investment…capturing the most prey with the least amount of energy output.

Nothing is safe in the animal kingdom.  The food chain takes no prisoners.  The hunter often becomes the hunted.  The same is true in human enterprises.  In the (hopefully) never ending capitalist cycle of invention, construction, destruction, re-invention, and reconstruction, the roles of predator and prey can switch on a moment’s notice.

An instinctive drive for safety leads to new alliances.  Predators who would never think of joining a defensive flock are drawn in by the promise of safety from some new, common enemy.  Defense against the enemy becomes the rule of the day.  Thoughts of maximizing return on investment, or re-inventing the future, are replaced by a focus on defending the status quo of the flock.

In a uniquely human twist, the defensive flock may even take on a new mission.  The defensive flock goes on offense.  This flock actively seeks out the lone predators, the re-inventors.  They marshal all of their creative energy toward destroying predators before their new ideas wreak havoc on the flock.  Protection of the group is all that matters.  The individual is less important.

Which are you?  Predator or prey?  Loner, or flock member?  Are you a former predator, now seeking the safety of a new flock?  Are you defending the status quo, or throwing in with the crazies who are re-inventing the future?  Are you on offense, or defense?

Are you making this choice for yourself, or are you allowing the flock to make the decision for you?

Becoming a Chief Simplicity Officer

Looking for ways to become more customer-focused?

Can you name the most important thing that Amazon and Google have in common?

If you said simplicity, give yourself a gold star.  While they may have other things in common, the one thing that makes each a leader in their field is their simplicity.  And these are anything but simple companies!

Imagine the operational complexity at Amazon as you click around their site, looking for a Kindle book to read on your next flight, an inflatable kayak for your upcoming vacation, or the Reynold’s aluminum food wrappers your youth group needs for this weekend’s snack bar.

You don’t need to worry about which vendor partner, or warehouse has the goods you’re purchasing.  The server farms that power and deliver the website to your device never enter your mind.  The patchwork quilt of state and federal laws that Amazon must navigate aren’t your concern.  The logistics involved in instantaneously determining your price, shipping costs, and sales taxes are all handled by Amazon.  All you have to do is select the items from an incredibly easy search bar, and make sure the price is competitive (however you define the word competitive).

Navigating Amazon’s online store is simple.  The site even recommends accessories for your purchases.  Do you need a paddle or life preserver to go with your kayak?  Amazon has taken something incredibly complex and presented it to the customer in a simple way.  Do you prefer to use Amazon from your mobile device?  No problem, that’s simple too.

Google doesn’t say how many servers they have, but the number is thought to be well over a million, spread across the world in at least a dozen gigantic data centers.  Google’s data centers continuously consume at least 260 million watts of electricity.  How’s that for an electricity bill?

Google indexes over 20 billion web pages a day, and handles over 3 billion daily search queries.  They serve up millions of YouTube videos every day to millions of viewers.  Google provides millions of map queries and turn-by-turn directions to just about anywhere on the planet on a daily basis.

Want to do your search in German, Spanish, French, or any number of other languages?  No problem, just enter your search in the language of your choice and the search returns what you’re looking for in that language.

I spent a few minutes Googling these factoids, but as a consumer of Google’s services, I never have to know any of it.  Google works tirelessly to make sure their services are easy to consume.  Google’s home page is a feat of simplicity.  Enter the search you’re interested in, and it handles the rest.

How simple is your company?  To put it more succinctly, how simple is your company from your customer’s perspective?  How easy is it to access your services, to buy your products?  How much expertise does your customer need in order to work with your company?  How much of your company’s operational complexity gets exposed to your customer?

Customers have shown time and time again that they gravitate to the simplest solutions.  I’ve highlighted only two companies as beacons of simplicity.  I could have added Apple, McDonald’s, Geico, and countless others that have seen great success by making the complex simple for their customers.

Looking for ways to become more customer-focused?  Focus on becoming their Chief Simplicity Officer.

Simplicity equals Success.  Complicated equals Failure.  It’s that simple.

Curiosity and Zombies

Curiosity is better than shotguns…

Are you genuinely interested in how something works, why things happen, what people think?

Do you look at articles describing how some industry you’re not a part of is facing a new market or regulatory challenge?

Are you entertained to learn that Starbucks Frappuccinos and iced coffees may be changing ice cube usage customs in Europe?

Do you click on links to articles about Africapitalism and venture philanthropy?

Have you ever imagined what it would be like to “fly” off a cliff wearing a Wingsuit?

Do you wonder how the education systems of the US can be improved by the proliferation of MOOC’s and alternative learning services like Udacity, Khan Academy, and others?

Do you marvel at how a rocket engine made mostly of solid rubber can power a spaceship launch?

Do you look at things as they are, and imagine how they could be changed by process improvements, new inventions, or new technology?

Are you an “early adopter” of new ideas?

The ultimate question is:  Are you curious?

The happiest and most successful people I know are curious.  They choose to be explorers in a modern world.  Pursuing answers to what, where, who, how, and (of course) why is what makes them tick.  Their curiosity is the key to an engaged existence.

They may not find, nor like, all of the answers.  That doesn’t stop their insatiable curiosity to learn more.

Show me someone lacking curiosity for life, and I’ll show you the closest thing to a living, breathing member of the walking dead.  Who knew curiosity would be better than shotguns against zombies?

Scrambled Eggs or Omelets?


Scrambling eggs is easy:

Whip a couple of eggs in a bowl

Pour the mixture in a heated pan, preferably over melted butter

Stir randomly until the eggs are cooked

Less stirring equals larger egg pieces.  More stirring equals smaller egg pieces.

Enjoy with Cholula.

What about omelets?  A little more complicated:

Determine what you want in your omelet

Slice-up and/or pre-cook (sauté) the filling ingredients

Whip a couple of eggs in a bowl

Pour the egg mixture in a heated pan

Let the egg mixture sit in the pan until mostly cooked


Add your filling ingredients

Fold the egg over the ingredients

Enjoy with Cholula.

The main ingredient (the humble egg) is the same for both.  The process you choose determines the outcome.

Scrambled eggs require very little planning.  The variation in outcome is based upon the amount of mixing during the cooking cycle.

Omelets require planning, decision making, preparation, patience, and finesse.  They also require practice, and the acceptance of potential failure.

If your omelets consistently come out scrambled, the egg isn’t the problem.


Last week, I had an employee come in and tell me how something is unacceptable.  The details of the thing that was unacceptable aren’t important.  As I sat there, considering how to best respond to this “unacceptable” situation, I wondered if the employee knew what she had done by using that word to start the discussion.

Merely stating that something is unacceptable, without offering up potential solutions, isn’t helpful.  The recipient of the news (in this case, the manager) is placed in a position of having to extract additional information, and then determine if there are any acceptable alternatives.  Of course, since one situation has already been deemed unacceptable, it’s quite possible that one or more of the alternatives may be similarly unacceptable.

It goes even deeper than that.  By starting the conversation in a deep hole of unacceptability, the potential for finding an alternative that is not just acceptable, but ideal, is very low.  In other words, finding an ideal solution is probably not going to be the goal.  Rather, it will be to find something that is at best “not unacceptable.”

There’s a mindset at play in the person who chooses to use words like “unacceptable” on a regular basis.  That mindset is focused on off-loading responsibility for finding solutions to someone else.  It is focused on creating short-term impact at the expense of a longer-term environment for success and collaboration.

It’s true that some things in life are unacceptable to us.  When these situations arise, we have an opportunity to express this from the perspective of trying to find a more ideal solution.  If your manager or co-worker holds the keys to an “unacceptable” situation, describe it with words like “challenging,” “difficult,” or possibly use the situation as a pivot point to what you see as more ideal alternatives.  Bring an understanding of the pro’s and con’s of your alternatives to the discussion.

Building collaboration is much easier when we seek ideal solutions together, rather than merely working independently to avoid the unacceptable.

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