Thursday, October 1, 2015


Your successful competitors often have more than you:

More money.
More employees.
More clients.
More press.

More darlings they refuse to kill.
More preconceived ideas.
More “this is just how this market is.”
More baggage and red tape.

Someone will always have more than you and there will always be others who consider you the successful competitor with more.

Originally published December 2014

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Successful Storytelling

A client doesn't hire you just because they heard your story.

A client hires you because they believe your story will help make their own story better in some way.

Stories drive marketing and stories are what sell, but make no mistake: when it comes to these things your story is never really about you.

If you want your storytelling to succeed, try a little less me, a lot more here's how life can be easier/simpler/better/more joyous/more memorable.

Originally published July 2013

Monday, September 28, 2015

Sitting On The Answers

Taking the posture of a learner is necessary if one wants to lead a rich, full life. At times, though, we allow our endless quest for new knowledge to paralyze us. We become workshop and conference junkies, read every new book on the bestseller list and are always looking for the next epiphany that will make us better people or push us into more success.

The posture of a learner quickly turns into the posture of an impatient know-it-all:

"Yes, yes, I already know all that, what else do you have for me?"

Okay, but have you tried it? Do you live it? Is it part of your workflow?

Sometimes our search for new answers remains fruitless because we've done nothing with the ones we've already been given.

Originally published March 2013

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Arrogance vs Humility

Arrogance says, "I am talented, roll out the red carpet for me."
Humility says, "I am talented and get to stand on the shoulders of giants."

Arrogance says, "You are lucky to work with me."
Humility says, "I am lucky to get to do work I love."

Arrogance says, "I've arrived."
Humility says, "There's always room to grow."

Arrogance says, "Everything everyone else does is inferior."
Humility says, "Look at this community of talent!"

Arrogance says, "My work has the power to change the world so the end justifies the means."
Humility says, "My work has the power to change the world so how I do things matters."

Arrogance says, "Oh, this lil' old thing?"
Humility says, "Thank you."

Arrogance says, "I have to take on all opportunities."
Humility says, "I can pass on good opportunities so I have time and energy for the great opportunities."

Arrogance asks, "What's in it for me?"
Humility asks, "What's best for everyone involved?"

Arrogance says, "I deserve this."
Humility says, "What a gift!"

Arrogance says, "I want and should have it all."
Humility says, "I want and will make room for what's important."

Arrogance is stingy and greedy.
Humility is generous and joyful.

Arrogance is thoughtless with the hearts under its care.
Humility sets boundaries.

Arrogance is a doormat because it demands everyone's approval.
Humility has a backbone because it knows its core values.

Arrogance assumes it knows all the answers.
Humility asks better questions.

Arrogance jumps to conclusions.
Humility knows there are always far more than two sides to every story.

Fear is the root of arrogance.
Gratitude is the root of humility.

Many people mix these up, but make no mistake: arrogance is synonymous with insecurity, true humility is synonymous with confidence.

If you want to be better, own your talent. Acknowledge that what you bring to the table is worth something. True humility doesn't hide its gifts.

Originally published January 2013

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

7 Thoughts On Choosing A Mentor

I've been really fortunate to have some amazing mentors in my life over the years. People who were and are generous with their wisdom and poured into me, who weren't afraid to lovingly call me out on my BS, who didn't laugh at my crazy, outlandish dreams, and who checked their ego in order to cheer me on. I am a firm believer that we should be lifelong learners and that everyone at ANY age should have a mentor (or several) in their life, especially if you are in a position of leadership (and if you own a business, you are). Here are seven things I've learned over the years about selecting a mentor. It is by no means an exhaustive list, but just a few things that come to mind as I write this:

No mentor is one size fits all and it's fine to have different mentors for different areas of your life. Some people may kill it in business, but have a parenting style you'd rather not emulate. Some may have a marriage relationship you want to learn from but have a managerial approach you don't care for. If you're looking for people who are perfect in all areas of life or work, you will end up navigating life alone.

They should be good at or continually working to improve their conflict resolution skills and will encourage you to voice your truth. Effective leaders use healthy communication to work through conflict. Cowards use the silent treatment to dissolve relationships. While no one is perfect in every area, conflict — large, small, exaggerated or imagined — crops up in every part of life and a good mentor is willing to do the hard work of peacemaking. They won’t push you to sugarcoat reality or to sweep things under the rug and they won't model that in their own life.

A good mentor will be committed to helping shape you into the best version of yourself, not a mini-me of themselves. They will give you the space to be yourself yet will push you out of your comfort zone. Extroverts who insist extraversion is the only way to do life won’t be a good mentor to introverts. Extroverted mentors give introverts space to recharge, recognizing that for an introvert, alone time is life-giving and provides the needed capacity to be effective in interpersonal relationships. Likewise, introverts realize that extroverts need more activities and opportunities to socialize as they draw their energy from other people. A good mentor helps you create the margin you need, not necessarily the margin they need.

A good mentor will recognize that different seasons of your life require different priorities. For a long time, "go big or go home" was a mantra that worked for me. These days when I hear that phrase, my first reaction is, "home, please" and I have made embracing the joy of missing out (JOMO) a top priority. Acknowledging that different seasons bring different priorities is healthy; not just for you, but for your family and friends as well.

Some mentors are a good fit for a season, some for a lifetime. It's okay to recognize when you have outgrown what a particular mentor has to offer you. This doesn't mean they or you have stopped learning, but rather that you are now on different paths. This also doesn't mean that you need to end every aspect of your relationship with them, just that the mentorship part has reached a point of closure.

A good mentor should have similar values as you. It’s okay if they don’t match exactly, and you may be passionate about different things. One of my mentors is passionate about animal rights and, while I feel this issue is important, my passions are very specifically orphan care and issues of systemic poverty. What matters to me is not whether we champion or donate to the same causes, but that we’re both interested in the world beyond the end of our driveways — that I’m not choosing to be mentored by someone who is solely interested in using all their resources to make their own life better in the name of “looking out for number one.”

Choose a mentor based on who they are offline rather than on how put together their life looks on social media. Instagram is typically a (heavily edited, well curated) snapshot of singular life moments, not a portrait of real life as a whole. On the other side of the coin, oversharing via social media is typically a red flag signaling deeper issues and isn’t necessarily an indicator of healthy transparency. Not allowing strangers to have access to every part of one's life does not make someone any less authentic. Choosing a mentor should never be based solely on what you see online.