Mar 192014
 

We have an efficient society, but far from a perfect one. People like to think the the cream always rises to the top, makes the big bucks, deserves all the respect and accolades. Meritocracy theory rules the day.

The truth is that we do live in a time of extraordinary opportunity. The market for talent, ideas, and creativity does give some people a change to become overnight successes in just 5 – 10 short years. But, there are also many other factors in play. If you ask a few questions at the right time, most entrepreneurial success stories that I hear always have one or more “…and then I got a lucky break…” moments in them. When you dig deeply, you tend to find other moments of extraordinary support from a third party, whether financial, resource, or connections. I have yet to find a person who really went from no where to the top of the world without some good fortune and a bit of assistance along the way.

Meritocracy is good, but if you are wise, you must also clearly see and understand the issues that surround it. The dark side of the coin is that it gives rise to a certain snobbery, a lot of jealousy, and tremendous frustration for those who make the wrong decision when faced with a crucial crossroads moment.

Here is a great little video that delves into the idea of meritocracy and whether it is truly possible. Alain de Botton: A kinder, gentler philosophy of success:

alain_800x600

With all thy getting, get understanding.

I.M. Optimism Man

Jan 272014
 

Much conflict occurs because two sides don’t truly “hear and fully understand” the other person’s perspective. When a debate gets heated, the combatants tend to spend the time that they are not talking reloading their next salvo in their brain. Each barely listens. They cannot wait to interrupt and machine-gun their next salvo as soon as the other takes a breath. This is the same, no matter if we are talking about loved ones at home, students on campus, or associates at work.

Most conflicts continue, and fester, far longer than they would if we deeply understood the other’s perspective.

Invest three minutes and watch this bit of video wisdom, as told by Stephen Covey:

drstephen_covey

Give it a try. I know, from personal experience, that it works. It will produce positive, optimistic resolutions to the thorniest of problems.

I.M. Optimism Man

Jan 022014
 

John Wooden is perhaps the greatest basketball coach that ever lived. He saw himself, first and foremost, as a teacher. Many of Coach’s lessons had much more to do with life than just with basketball. John’s wisdom is captured in several books that are well worth reading, including one of my favorites, Wooden on Leadership.

Coach Wooden, March 24, 1969

Coach Wooden, March 24, 1969

Here are my top 10 John Wooden quotes to consider and apply in your life:

If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?

If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything.
I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.

Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.

Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.

You can’t let praise or criticism get to you.
It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.

Success is never final, failure is never fatal.
It’s courage that counts.

It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.

Young people need models, not critics.

Don’t let making a living prevent you from making a life.

Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.

Thank you Coach, for inspiring me and thousands of others. Rest in peace.

I.M. Optimism Man

 

 

Dec 112013
 

Last weekend, we lost power for more than 12 hours, as Dallas got hit by a nasty ice storm. No electricity for just one day — a dark, cold house without warm water, internet, or T.V. — combined with the inability to drive anywhere — will wake you up to how much goodness you take for granted. That got me thinking, yet again, about the essence of happiness.

Dallas-Ice-Storm

I’m happy and at peace. Very happy. All of the time. Being a hyper-analytical guy, I wonder why. Why am I so happy and at peace, when many others seem to be less happy and less at peace to varying degrees?

It is not because I have enough time — I don’t — and I’m a person that is quite focused on investing my time wisely. It is not because I have more than enough money — finances are tricky most the time — there is always more to invest in, more to fix, stuff to improve and buy, than there is budget available. It is not because everything goes smoothly — it never does — Murphy’s Law seems to be getting stronger all the time. It is not because I’m caught up — my list continues to expand like the universe — I’m frustrated when important items remain undone for months, even years, on end. But I’m very happy and at peace none-the-less.

I want to understand the “why” behind happiness. Why am I at peace in a tumultuous world? How can clearly understanding happiness lead me to help others to be happy too? One of my theories has been expectations: if you are always longing for more than you have, it is hard to be happy. A key is to love what your already have, and I do.

When I look at my life, I see nothing but countless blessings. I love my wife, truly and completely, happy in every way that she said “yes” nearly twenty years ago — she is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I love my kids truly and completely, and could not imagine them turning out better in any way than they already are. I’m very proud of them. I love my mom and am very happy she has moved to Dallas. I love my home, my stuff, my laptops, desktops, tablets, and smartphones. I love the color of my office. I love my coffee cups and my chair. I love my constant flow of geeky gadgets. I love my vault of ideas that grows every day, full of promise, even as I know that I won’t be able to sincerely work on 99% of them. I love my Macs. I even my Windows laptop (Lenovo T510) and it takes a leap to appreciate your windows machine sometimes. I love that I live in this age of extraordinary progress. I love that the (public-sphere) internet was born in the 90’s — how did we live life before wikipedia and googling something?

I have just discerned a key component — if not the key component — to happiness. I was on the right track, but a bit hidden in kind of a “cart before the horse” equation. Many people think gratitude is a product of being happy, but, after watching the video below, I have come to appreciate the subtle difference of “gratitude leads to happiness” not “happiness leads to gratitude.”  When you start from a perspective of being grateful, of being thankful and feeling blessed for all of the people in your life, as well as the wonderful little not-so-important things, it puts you on the right road for true happiness and peace.

Please watch this rather “zen” video when you have a few minutes of tranquility to think without distraction:

david

Peace, Joy, and Happiness this Christmas Season. It is definitely not about getting a new Lexus, no matter how shiny it is!

I.M. Optimism Man

PS> Like this article? Try these two from last year — Escaping Average and Want to Be Happy?

Dec 092013
 

I listen to so many talking heads, all talking incessantly on talk shows on talk channels, news channels, satellite radios, and streaming internet feeds. Everybody sounds smart.

stern

Here is a point to ponder:

All of us are smart enough to know there are problems. Most of us are smart enough to point out specific problems in an eloquent way. Some of us are smart enough to ask the right questions to understand the true, underlying causes of a problem better. Few — very few — of us are smart enough to ask the right questions, at the right time, in the right way, so that the people who are in the position to act come to the right, logical conclusion, fueled with the motivation to move forward and solve the true problem.

McKinsey & Co is well regarded as the smartest guys in the room when it comes to business strategy consulting. McKinsey teams often propose “brilliant” solutions that can’t be, or are not, implemented, given a company’s situation, personnel, and organizational culture.

It is only brilliant when the smart solution makes it to the finish line and helps as designed.

Smart guys, like the bright stars at McKinsey hired from the best Ivy League schools, often don’t get the essence of the lesson. Solutions that get implemented are worth much more than solutions proposed but abandoned. It often comes down to asking the right questions, not telling people the solution to their problem.

Think for just a minute about the federal government in DC. Is anyone asking the right questions or is everyone, on both sides, simply trumpeting their “we should do this and we should do that” messages?

I.M. Optimism Man

Nov 252013
 

Jim Rohn is one of my favorites. His philosophies and mine are most often in harmony.

In my opinion, Jim is the perfect guy to listen to when you decide a three day retreat to some lonely, beautiful mountain top cabin would do you a lot of good. Mr. Rohn was not the most succinct, but his message was absolutely outstanding. Here are my choices for a Jim Rohn Top Ten Quotes of all time.

jim-rohn

Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.

I would argue that discipline and execution are where most of us fail. We all have ideas. Few ideas are ever converted into written goals, a failure of discipline right out of the gate. Those written goals then need to be distilled into written missions with due dates, missions are distilled into projects (with due dates), and projects into readily achievable tasks (with due dates). Tasks need to be managed on the calendar, and discipline is needed every step of the way.  That is execution.

We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment.

I would rather suffer the pain of discipline. Let’s take staying in shape as one small example. Staying in shape takes a discipline of eating well and keeping a fitness routine. Yes, there is pain to get up a bit early and fight the bitter wind to get to the gym. But would you rather lose your mobility at 70, and spend your golden years stuck in a senior center? I’d bet the pain of regret is worse than the pain of fitness.

Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.

Never stop learning. Too many folks stop learning after school. Yet, all the people that knock it out of the park have three things in common:

  • they have the discipline to set written goals and plans while driving toward accomplishment,
  • they prefer to suffer the pain of discipline over the pain of regret, and
  • they embrace learning new things, seeking out knowledge at every life’s turn.

If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.

Prudent risks must be taken. This one element stops 99% of people on this planet. Choose to be one of the one percent.

Failure is not a single, cataclysmic event. You don’t fail overnight. Instead, failure is a few errors in judgement, repeated every day.

If you are not making mistakes, you are not taking risks. All progress involves failing forward, never giving up while taking chances. The US Marines teach the idea of adapt and overcome, and they are dead-on right. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.

People think they can’t change. Change involves a decision made in a millisecond. If you don’t believe you are shackled, you are not.

Character isn’t something you were born with and can’t change, like your fingerprints. It’s something you weren’t born with and must take responsibility for forming.

Becoming a remarkable person is your responsibility and your duty. Read my previous article here.

You don’t get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.

Few people understand this simple economic truth. I would add that supply and demand of your value-added abilities matters too, because the marketplace is quite efficient. But, in the end, find a way to offer more value than most others, improve yourself in valuable ways, and you will make a lot more income in the end. Financial success is not a mystery.

Make measurable progress in reasonable time.

Too often a week goes by, and I don’t make a first down that matters. Sometimes a month goes by. Sometimes a year… Keep a log, keep a diary. Measurement requires pale ink to stay honest with yourself. Make sure that you are making meaningful, measurable progress. No one will worry too much about your lack of progress except for you.

And my all time favorite Jim Rohn quote:

Let others lead small lives, but not you.
Let others argue over small things, but not you.
Let others cry over small hurts, but not you.
Let others leave their future in someone else’s hands, but not you.

Rest in peace, Mr. Rohn. Job well done.

I.M. Optimism Man

PS. Taking a three day contemplation weekend — without T.V., without radio, without noise, without crowds —  is something we should all do, at least once every three years, but it is easier said than done.

mountain-cabin-in-winter

Nov 052013
 

I get many great ideas by reading quotes distilled by others. The beauty of quotes (and the people that search for them and give them to us for free) is that they often are the true essence of a big idea.

Jack is no saint, but he is a heck of a businessman. He is a top ten guy in the big business Hall of Fame. Here are ten great quotes from one of the most passionate and successful corporate leaders America has ever had:

  1. An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.
  2. Control your own destiny or someone else will.
  3. Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.
  4. Giving people self-confidence is by far the most important thing that I can do. Because then they will act.
  5. Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it to be.
  6. If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.
  7. You’ve got to eat while you dream. You’ve got to deliver on short-range commitments, while you develop a long-range strategy and vision and implement it. The success of doing both. Walking and chewing gum if you will. Getting it done in the short-range, and delivering a long-range plan, and executing on that.
  8. You measure your people and you take action on those that don’t measure up.
  9. The biggest cowards are managers who don’t let people know where they stand.
  10. The essence of competitiveness is liberated when we make people believe that what they think and do is important – and then get out of their way while they do it.

This brings me to another question – why does America never manage to elect a president with serious experience at running an complex enterprise with hundreds of thousands of employees? It seems that we should — someday soon — give it a try. Experience matters. But, that’s a topic for another day.

I.M. Optimism Man

 

Sep 292013
 

I spend my time trying to convince people on a daily basis that true business insight, real expertise, and competitive advantage can only be found in the details and specifically, how those complex details connect and interrelate. My competitors usually argue the opposite. They try to convince companies that summarized data stores and pre-canned reports are good enough. The reason is that my competitors’ underlying technology is not good enough to a) keep one true, integrated copy of the (big) data and b) allow any user to access and analyze that one true copy of data at any time.

This is not an easy concept for everyone to understand because most of us come from a long history of working from pre-canned, summarized, much of the value washed away reports. Its all we have had and we have gotten by — we did the best that we could with what we had.

I stumbled into this TED talk that illustrates the idea that “the true insight is always in the detail data” brilliantly, although that was not the goal these speakers had. This truth applies to any industry, for every industry is complex and ever-changing. It is well worth watching this short eight minute video — you will gain understanding:

 

The more the world architects for big detailed data and asks iterative questions of the detail data, the greater the advances we will see in our lifetime. Hail big data analytics! The world will be a better, safer place. We have only begun to invent.

I.M. Optimism Man

Aug 302013
 

Here is a great, first-hand account from the founder of Cypress Semi. It was published in the Wall Street Journal. It is well worth reading.

I strongly encourage you to subscribe to the Journal. It is one of the few newspapers on earth that sees things clearly in its reporting, not going to the extremes we witness with most other news sources.

I.M. Optimism Man

T.J. Rodgers:

Targeting the Wealthy Kills Jobs

My investment in my company helps maintain 3,470 permanent positions. What’s not ‘fair’ about that?

By T.J. RODGERS

One of the signature themes of the Obama administration is that the American dream is under attack due to “income disparity.” The words divide the country into haves and have-nots, suggesting a national condition that needs to be corrected—presumably by “progressive” taxation as a mechanism for income redistribution. The American dream has traditionally been one of individual success that is rewarded and admired. But we are now urged to become a zero-sum society in which those achieving the American dream are envied and even resented.

The American dream is not politically affiliated. The last time it was alive and well was the period from Ronald Reagan’s second term in office through Bill Clinton’s second term in office. In those 16 years, we enjoyed continuous low taxes, low government spending and economic prosperity.

Since 2000, the economy has staggered under the record government spending and deficits of two presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The result of that spending spree has been lower real wages and higher and more-persistent unemployment. The Federal Reserve has pushed interest rates to near-zero, and, for the first time ever in the U.S., that Depression-era medicine has not worked—a scary situation reminiscent of Japan’s decade-plus economic demise.

According to the latest 2012 IRS income-tax data, the top 1% of American taxpayers earned 20% of all income and paid 36% of all taxes. The top 5% earned 36% of all income and paid 58% of all taxes. Will even higher taxes help the economy? My experience in Silicon Valley tells me that high and so-called progressive taxes are a major cause of the country’s current economic problems, not the solution.

In Silicon Valley, the rich commonly reinvest their wealth close to home. For example, I have reinvested most of my net worth in 8.5% of the shares of my own company.

Since its 1982 founding, Cypress Semiconductor has been a net creator of jobs and wealth. We have returned $2.2 billion more to the economy through stock buybacks, share dividends and spinouts than we have taken out in total lifetime investments. That figure doesn’t count the $4 billion in wages the company has paid or the taxes paid on those wages. Currently, my investment helps maintain 3,479 permanent, high-paying jobs with good health-care benefits that are now threatened by more taxes.

A couple of years ago, I decided to invest in my hometown of Oshkosh, Wis., by building a $1.2 million lakefront restaurant. That restaurant now permanently employs 65 people at an investment of $18,000 per job, a figure consistent with U.S. small businesses. If progressive taxation in the name of “fairness” had taken my “extra” $1.2 million and spent it on a government stimulus program, would 65 jobs have been created?

According to recent Congressional Budget Office statistics on the Obama administration’s 2009 stimulus program, each job created has cost between $500,000 and $4 million. Thus, my $1.2 million, taxed and respent on a government project of uncertain duration, would have created about one job, possibly two, and not the 65 sustainable jobs that my private investment did.

On the other end of the capital-intensity scale, Cypress Semiconductor required huge investments to create jobs in its chip-manufacturing plants. Between 1983 and 2003, those investments totaled $797 million and led to the creation of 4,033 jobs at an investment of $198,000 per job created. Thus, my own experience on the cost of job creation ranges from $18,000 to $198,000 per job, compared with $500,000 to $4 million per job created by the Obama stimulus program.

This data squares with the broad numbers showing that private investment is more efficient than government spending in creating jobs. In other words: Every dollar that is taxed away from private investment and spent by government produces fewer jobs than the jobs destroyed by the loss of private investment.

Yet the politics of envy, promoted most notably by President Obama himself, continuously stokes the idea that the wealthy are not paying their “fair share.” This injured sense of unjust rewards was summed up on a radio show I heard the other day, when a caller said of the rich: “How much more do they need?”

How much more do I need? How many more jobs do you want?

Even European socialist democracies are starting to understand that tax-and-spend policies kill jobs. For example, both Italy and Spain have repealed their incentive programs for solar energy (along with their “green jobs”) because the countries have calculated that for every job created by government investment in green energy, somewhere between 4.8 jobs (Italy) and 2.2 jobs (Spain) are lost because of the reciprocal cuts in private investment. I am aware of these figures because from 2002-11 I was a major investor in and chairman of SunPower, the world’s second-largest solar-energy company, also based in Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley is today’s brightest example of the traditional American dream still at work. The investments for most startup companies must come from individuals who can wait 10 years to get a return on investment. Only very wealthy Americans can afford that.

Like many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, I have reinvested in the next generation of entrepreneurs, in my case via the Sequoia Fund and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, two venture-capital firms that gave me a shot at the American dream. I also serve as a board member of their portfolio companies.

Does anybody really believe that moving investment decisions from Silicon Valley to Washington by raising taxes on venture capitalists and their investors would make Silicon Valley more productive? Consider the Solyndra debacle: It was obvious to most of us here that the solar-energy company had zero chance of survival. That’s why the company had to be government-funded near the end; no real investors were willing to step up.

During the 2012 presidential campaign, President Obama insulted America’s entrepreneurs by telling them: “You didn’t build that.” Progressive taxation is just another tool used by government to take over an ever-larger part of the U.S. economy. The horrible irony is that the government keeps telling the very people whose jobs it destroys that if we only tax the rich more, everything will be better.

Mr. Rodgers is the founder and CEO of Cypress Semiconductor

May 062013
 

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
— Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo was spot on right when he made this observation.

Those of us that have made a great living with successful professional sales careers know that less is more: finding the one aspect that really matters to the prospect is priceless while pursuing a sale. If you find that one item, professionals don’t dilute it with a fog of other features, functions, and benefits that cloud the decision.

The problem is that simplicity is often difficult to distill. Finding a perfect, clear message that motivates people in just 7 – 10 words is what makes or breaks a pricey highway billboard campaign. There are lots of very expensive television commercials but few communicate as well as this one. Finding a perfect 90 second elevator pitch makes or breaks many budding entrepreneur as they pursue angel or venture cap funding. Finding the simple but powerful theme behind your product line that resonates is often the difference between success (what does BMW stand for?) or failure (what does Saab stand for?).

How can we apply this important concept to our daily lives? We are all selling something all the time, no matter if “it” is a product, a service, our company, our personal capabilities, our kids, or ourselves. The video segment below offers an important clue, an important change of thinking that can have big positive ramifications as to how you approach your messaging.

Simon Sinek has simplified how to sell, how to market, so that all of us can become far more effective. It comes down to focusing on why, first and foremost. Why is all powerful, yet 99% of companies, 99% of people start with what, then how, and finally and often optionally, why. Speeds, feeds, horsepower, megawatts, gigabytes, megahertz, and fiber-connect are not what blows people out of the water and gets them to join your side.

Think differently. Start with why. Think better.

I.M. Optimism Man

Mar 282013
 

Optimism is necessary for success. Unfortunately, sometimes we find ourselves less than optimistic when facing a challenge.

There is a simple step that we often forget. We are not alone. Say a prayer and you will find new peace, new confidence, new strength, and new optimism to persevere. Belief is incredibly important.

This comes more naturally to some folks than others. If you wonder what prayer to say, you don’t need to complicate things, for Jesus gave us some pretty explicit directions:

Matthew 6

5 “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6 But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.[b]

7 “When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

9 “Pray then in this way:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.[c]
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And do not bring us to the time of trial,[d]
but rescue us from the evil one.[e]
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; 15 but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

It is easier than you think. Give it a shot.

I.M. Optimism Man

Feb 152013
 

Websters defines a “dud”…

Main Entry: dud 
Pronunciation: primarystressdschwad
Function: noun
1 plural a CLOTHES b : personal belongings
2 : a complete failure <the movie was a dud>
3 : a missile (as a bomb or shell) that fails to explode

Too many people don’t set goals for this week, this month, this year — and the result is that they are a missile that never explodes in a blaze of glory. They become a dud. Don’t be a dud.

I ask many about their New Year’s resolutions when February arrives. Half of those asked never set any resolutions in January. The other half are all too predictable — they mostly set weight and fitness resolutions — and most of them are already falling off the too-painful-to-follow formula that they created only six weeks ago.

That means that around 80% of you are ready for a new February 15th resolution. Here’s my thought for you: quit setting negative, painful resolutions. The truth is most resolutions are difficult and fraught with feeling of disappointment when one’s results come up short. Getting in shape is not easy for most people. Eating four servings of fruits and vegetables each day is not easy. Stopping complaining, saving more money, stopping smoking are all difficult.

So, here’s the solution. Make this your new resolution:

Make this your only resolution. Then, execute. Plan one fun event for every month that remains in 2013. Put the events on the calendar. Buy tickets. Let yourself go, forget your daily worries, and be sure and take pictures. If you don’t, you are likely to end this year as a dud. Don’t choose that path!

Make a slide show of all the great pictures you take while having fun in 2013 and set it to music. Upload it to youtube in December 2013 (send me a link if my idea helped!). Repeat in 2014. Forget the incessant negativity of the news media. Life is good and fun is always within reach.

Optimistic, positive resolutions are much better, and far more likely to happen.

I.M. Optimism Man

Jan 242013
 

I believe unrealistically high expectations doom results.

No event, save perhaps the expectations Jerry Jones puts on the Dallas Cowboys each year, comes closer to proving this than the 2012-2013 Los Angeles Lakers. They began by assembling all-star parts and were crowned as favorites to make the Finals if not win it all. All the media and fan hype is exactly why the team has underperformed and seems destined to miss the playoffs.


I believe an optimistic has a much better chance of success than a pessimist. But an optimist that drinks the kool-aid of other people’s usually undeserved or at least overstated commendation and adoration will forget the realities of fighting through adversity, overcoming obstacles, adapting to conditions, and staying positive through it all. It is important to approach all worthy endeavors knowing that it is never going to be easy. Teams — no matter if we are talking about sports or a sales group — require positive cohesion, belief that they will prevail, and mutual respect. Unrealistically high expectations basically bake in the “perfect season” as a must. Few teams have ever had a perfect season for Murphy’s Law does in fact exist. As losses mount, pressure builds. 

Set your sights high but plan for lots of adversity along the way. If others have great expectations for you, play them down at every turn. Learn from these Lakers. You will have a much better life and track record if you do.

I.M. Optimism Man

Dec 112012
 

There are a lot of experts — but experts are rarely the world-changing entrepreneurs. These experts often sport IQs that make them puff up quite proud of themselves, whenever they admire themselves in the mirror. Why do most experts fail at changing the world?

Ernesto Sirolli gives us one of the most important missing components to being truly smart, not just book smart. A lot of money has been poured into lots of truly BIG issues by a lot of well-intentioned experts — sub-Saharan Africa a prime example — trillions in fact. Watch this talk. It will open your eyes. It is the best 20 minutes I personally have invested this week.

ernesto sirolli

The Missing Component - Listening

Listening is everything. Listening will help you succeed. Listening will help you become special. Listening will help you change the world. Listening is magical. Listening makes your smarter than 99% of the experts.

I.M. Optimism Man

Dec 102012
 

Few people understand the magic of persistence. Most people will take one shot, maybe two, at something at some point in their lives, and then quickly retreat back to the safety of their everyday rut. Why is the everyday rut such a draw? I think it’s because it is mental-state-of-mind safe… when you are in your daily rut, you don’t have to evaluate whether you are succeeding or struggling, winning or losing. You don’t have to make any truly difficult decisions where there are no clear-cut answers. You can do the same’ole things without ever thinking about your personal scorecard.

The truth is that there is no failure, if you get up each morning and try again, giving it your best effort. There is only success in your future, with the only unknown being “when” the breakthrough will happen. Those independent souls who decide to believe, to go for it, to remain positive, to adapt and overcome, do win in the end.

Here is a fantastic truth that all of us should remember and take to heart:

 

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.

— Winston Churchill

 

 

 

Becoming unstoppable — and remaining enthusiastic during the ever-present struggles — are choices each of us can make.

I.M. Optimism Man

Nov 302012
 

Be kind.

How often do we give this advice to our kids as we send them off to school or to win the big game? Not often I’ll bet. Do we, as a society, admire the kind CEO, the kind football coach, the kind Hollywood superstar? Do we, as parents, insist that our kid help the other kid up after a foul in sport? Do we let the person in a hurry cut in front of us in traffic or do we block his path, enjoying the moment of silly triumph? Are there any reality T.V. shows following the lives of kind stars, or just Kardasians and tyrannical Abby Lee Millers of the world?

Should we then be surprised that kindness and respect for others seems to be disappearing in our society?

I believe kindness, to be kind and considerate, is very important to becoming a well developed member of a family, a community, and society as a whole. At the root of it all, I think there is a misguided perception that kindness and respect somehow leads to weakness and failure. This is not true. I wish to be kind this year, and kinder the next. Ultimately, I will be a very kind old man, not a cranky one yelling about the kids cutting across my grass.

Consider these five observations about kindness:

Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

As much as we need a prosperous economy, we also need a prosperity of kindness and decency.
Caroline Kennedy

To practice five things under all circumstances constitutes perfect virtue; these five are gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness.
Confucius

And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve had more of a tendency to look for people who live by kindness, tolerance, compassion, a gentler way of looking at things.
Martin Scorcese

There is overwhelming evidence that the higher the level of self-esteem, the more likely one will be to treat others with respect, kindness, and generosity.
Nathaniel Branden

A great idea would be to decide to have a personal quota of just one kind act each day, and record what you did in your journal. Great habits start with small daily steps.

I.M. Optimism Man

Nov 252012
 

You are either growing or you are dying. Never maintain anything. Never maintain a career, a marriage, a small business, a life.

I love Coach Holtz. This speech, which is broken into four parts due to youtube restrictions a few years ago, is well worth watching. You could live a great life with just the simple lessons from this 30 minute talk:

Living well comes down to making lots of good little decisions each and every day.

I.M. Optimism Man

P.S. A great goal is to learn one fun magic trick.

Oct 302012
 

There is a lot more to success and happiness than simply having a God-given great computational noggin. It is easy to see that our companies and our communities are not often led by rocket scientists sporting 160+ IQs.

Why is that?

Well, I think the reality of it all is is summed up eloquently by this one quote:

But the person who scored well on an SAT will not necessarily be the best doctor or the best lawyer or the best businessman. These tests do not measure character, leadership, creativity, perseverance.

— Dr. William Julius Wilson

I personally would add a few more qualities, such as emotional IQ, empathy, experience, faith, optimism, and taking decisive action, to the recipe for success.

When your kid comes home from school, discouraged because she just earned a bad grade on a test, please embrace the opportunity and teach her of what it really takes to succeed, starting with perseverance above all.

I.M. Optimism Man

 

Sep 092012
 

I try to stay away from politics but this election seems more important than any in recent years. President Obama is not only heading in the wrong direction but he is spending so many billions than the government takes in. Four more years will likely produce a financial hangover that may persist for multiple decades. Entitlements are a runaway freight train – take a look at this essay but buckle your seat belt first!

I am tired of America’s penchant for electing unqualified guys without big business or large organizational experience to our highest office. It would have been really interesting if Perot would have won because there is no way it would have been the same-ole same-ole inside the Beltway. It is high time we elect a business man to office and see if practical problem solving can turn this trajectory around. President Obama and the Dems continue digging a deeper hole and I’m sure our preferred destination is the center of the earth or China. The Dems continue to produce policy after policy that punishes the business man and the entrepreneur, also known as the employer. They punish those who succeed and create more commerce and employment. We must not forget Calvin Coolidge’s spot-on observation that “the business of America is business.”  America is great when business is bustling.

Many political speeches put us to sleep but former Governor Mike Huckabee did a great job in summing up what the Republican prescription for the turnaround is: less regulations, less taxes, less welfare, more business, more employment, more personal freedom. If you have a few minutes, please watch and listen to his optimistic perspective from the GOP convention — it is short and to the point:

Lets make America great again!

I.M. Optimism Man

Sep 042012
 

Many people spend their lives wishing that they were dealt a different hand of cards to play. In doing so, they waste valuable time or even waste their entire life. You must play your hand in life’s game of poker, no matter if you hold a lowly pair of deuces, three kings, a full house, or nothing more than one ace.

This video is well worth watching. It runs a little over an hour. I promise you that it is an 76 minutes well spent. Randy Pausch might just change your life for the better.

After you have watched Randy’s lecture, I have a small challenge for you to think about.

Have you written a letter to your spouse and kids in case you get run over by an 18-wheeler on the way to the work today? Or recorded an audio file? Or taped a video? It is worth doing. Randy has left something truly great for his kids. And it has a side benefit — it might help you play the cards you have been dealt better too. Remember that pale ink helps you think clearly.

Rest in peace Randy.

I.M. Optimism Man