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Great approach to life and business!

This week Adam Bryant interviews Marla Malcom Beck, the chief executive of Bluemercury, a beauty products and spa services retailer. I really appreciate her no-nonsense, common sense approach to life and business! Regarding hiring she states, “In about two minutes, I can ascertain skill based on what they’ve done… Will is about hunger so I’ll ask what do you want to do in five or 10 years.”

I talk often about will and skill or desire and ability. Both can be cultivated but there’s no substitute for natural ability and passion. A lot of business owners bring this up: does a prospective employee have the passion and ability to make a real difference in my organization? I look for something similar when I hire too. Do they really care, do they want to be here and do they have the skill sets too? These are important considerations next time you are about to hire someone new!

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Trust is a major factor in how people work together

Don Knauss, the C.E.O. Of the Clorox Company is a former Marine and athlete who makes tons of sense. He believes in motivating others by creating trust through exercising power cautiously and caring about his people to such an extent that they are primary – what he refers to as the heart piece. Like myself, he agrees that intelligence is important too but without heart over time it’s hard to retain great people. He too looks for passion over pedigree and believes in the necessity of becoming an excellent communicator. I really enjoyed his perspective because it reminded me of so much that I offer and teach others; especially the importance of hammering away at the fundamentals: my core teaching is to avoid nothing, be as present as possible, have bang-up integrity, honor yourself, and learn to develop and trust your intuition!

Thank you Mr. Bryant for your outstanding interviews and Mr. Knauss for sharing your perspective!

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Successful Women in Male Dominated Careers

This New York Times Sports Sunday article on female sports agents in the N.F.L. is very interesting. To break into a male dominated profession like engineering is challenging but pro football is a whole other realm! I really respect the women who are up for the challenge and actually succeeding. I often talk about passion, commitment, and perseverance as fundamental aspects of success in life and business. In a profession such as this, Kristen Kuliga, Kelli Masters and others must have all that and more! Good stuff!!

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An Inspiring Success Story

Adam Case, the 35-year-old offensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos never played college football and was a mediocre high school tight end by all accounts. Through a combination of hard work, ingenuity, and tenacity he worked his way up the ranks of professional football to become an invaluable part of the Broncos offense!

I love success stories like this because as a life coach, business coach, and sports psychologist I am constantly helping others overcome challenges and accomplish things they never thought possible. As I often say: if you want to achieve anything difficult you must believe that it is possible, take tons of action, and tweak your game along the way. In other words, it is essential to constantly learn and make adjustments along the way. Clearly, Adam Case did all that and more!

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Innovative Leadership Approach

Each week I write about business managers and leaders featured in Adam Bryant’s Corner Office section of the Sunday Business section of The New York Times. Mr. Girish, the C.E.O of eClinicalWorks, a privately operated provider of IT healthcare solutions, says that he hires primarily on “heart” because the rest can be taught. He is seeking passion, commitment, and desire for excellence above all else! Instead of firing people, he tells the employee that it’s not working out and to take three months off to seek something else. If after three months, they want to come back they must change. I love his innovative approach to employee challenges! He also spurns job titles instead creative teams and team leaders! Good stuff Mr. Navani!!

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The Courage or Craziness of Athletes

Reading about dangerous sports in the Los Angeles Times Sports section while traveling out here on business made me think about a golfer I am coaching who used to be a professional snowboarder. He’s shared several adrenaline addiction stories having had a series of near death experiences in his younger life as his passion for extreme sports and dangerous situations like surfing in near hurricane conditions nearly got him killed.

I too understand the desire to get a rush out of life but I also know that as we get older the best way for us to feel more alive is to learn how to create what I often refer to as the “magic” in life and business – the feeling that we are on the right path, enjoy who we are, what we do, and look forward to each and every day! This takes patience, discipline commitment, and trust – not necessarily easy traits to develop but well with it. So enjoy the extreme stuff while you are young and learn the magic of creating as you age!

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Becoming a Better Listener

I enjoy the Corner Office section of the Sunday Business section of The New York Times. This week Mr. Bryant interviews Penny Pritzker, the U.S. Commerce Secretary and successful businesswoman. Her family built the Hyatt Hotel chain. She learned the value of passion, commitment, energy, and desire to learn from her father who valued those traits above all. She also regards Integrity to be paramount in the hiring process. Ms. Pritzker discusses the importance of becoming a better listener too, especially as it pertains to management and decision making.

I often coach people to become better listeners. I’ve found that many people listen more to the thoughts in their own heads than they do to others. Great listening skills adds value at every level in business and at home. I challenge you to become a better listener today!

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A Story about the importance of finding your passion

I was sitting on the top floor of the Starbucks in Fairfield, Connecticut contemplating what makes life magical. Later that morning, I had a psychology/coaching session with a man in his early forties who used to be an investment banker. Several years ago, he went through a brutal depression and quit his job. In his twenties, he liked many aspects of being a banker; the technology research, the challenge of landing new clients, and the intensity of creating and delivering pitches. However, over time, he began to hate the long hours, endless travel, and the “jerks” that he interacted with on a daily basis.

After years of non-stop travel, hundred-hour work-weeks, mental and physical exhaustion, he finally sat down with his boss to ask for more flexibility and less travel.  His boss told him that his two young children wouldn’t know what they were missing. This conversation turned out to be the last straw. At 35, John had finally had enough and walked away. He went out on his own and after two years of hard work, his new startup failed. More depression followed.  John turned to psychiatry, only to find himself in the endless abyss of psychotropic medication.

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Inspiration and Passion for Living

What inspires you to be great? I love asking people this question. Some people think of world leaders like Nelson Mandela or even JFK. Others think of Astronauts, test pilots, or famous race car drivers like Danica Patrick. Still other people think of famous business leaders like Steve Jobs and Jack Welch or top athletes like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. And then there are celebrities like Angelina Jolie or Russell Crowe.

Notice that the question wasn’t who inspires you to be great? Instead, it is what inspires you to be great? So, what inside you inspires you to be great? The famous people that I mentioned earlier all have a fundamental passion to create, experience, and excel. Inspiration is important even if it starts from without, but eventually it must become internal to stick. Have you ever attended a personal growth seminar or retreat and found yourself all charged up for a week or so upon returning? If you have, you are like many of us. The group experience, combined with the charisma of the teacher, guru or adventurer or whatever he or she refers to himself as, only lasts so long. Just as we must internalize change for it to last, inspiration must become internalized as well.

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A client of mine asked me to work with her thirteen year-old daughter who is a competitive ballerina in south Florida. I said sure, relishing the challenge of helping an adolescent in a sport that I have never experienced first hand. The cool part about working with athletes as a Sports Psychologist is that no matter what the sport, the underlying issues are similar. And so are the techniques that we can apply to address them!

This young girl was experiencing significant anxiety before big competitions as well as having normal adolescent challenges with her family and friends. We chatted for a bit about her life, her friendships, and her passion of dance. Attending a performing arts school, she was consistently dancing five to six hours a day during and after school. This left her with very little down time and much less social time than most of her peers, two significant challenges for anyone let alone an adolescent.

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