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Vacations and Ruminations

I took much of the month of April off as a vacation of sorts. Having worked for myself most of my life, I’ve never really spent much time separating time into slots with one called work and one called vacation. It’s all living and creating a life for me. But, I called this a vacation because I unplugged (for the most part) and spent quite a bit of time reading, thinking, and plotting.

Rylie Poole

Early in the month, Joann and I traveled across the state of Pennsylvania to the Pittsburgh area and into Ohio for about 9 days. My adult children, Mindy and Ryan live in Erie and Pittsburgh respectively. Ryan is married to Sue and they have two daughters, Rylie and Sadie. Rylie just turned two and Sadie will be one year old in June and since they live almost 6 hours away we don’t get to see them as often as we’d like.

Sadie Poole

 

 

We also got to spent time in Pittsburgh with the funniest man I know – Walt Zastawa and his wife Becky who keeps him in his place while working as his foil. After an evening with him your sides hurt from laughing. He is the best medicine for anything that ails you.

Next it was two days spent with mom in East Liverpool, Ohio. Day one was a semi-family reunion with my brother and one of my three sisters and some of their kids and grand kids.

Mom - Dorothy Poole

Day two was spent being run ragged by mom who is almost 83 years old. She is deaf and has worn a cochlear implant pretty much since they were first approved in the US. Sadly, it does not help much anymore despite being upgraded several times to the latest models. But, that didn’t stop her from having me take her to get a new cell phone. She said she couldn’t hear very well out of hers. Try keeping a straight face when your deaf mom tells you that!

Despite my skepticism that any cell phone was going to improve mom’s hearing, I started doing some research. I needn’t have as she had already done the same things on her computer. I was just repeating her research which she showed me. I then put a call into her audiologist who verified what we had found out and who also told me not to get mom’s hopes up for much improvement. But, mom is one tenacious lady and I wasn’t going to say no. So off we went on the trail of a new phone.

I was skeptical.
We got the phone. It worked.
Mom was right – once again.

Cottage in Erie
The Cottage on Lake Erie

Finally we hit the road once more – this time for Erie, PA and my daughter’s new home on Lake Erie. Her and her partner, Tom, have turned a storybook cottage into one of the most charming and comfortable homes I’ve ever visited.

Mindy and Joann

We had a great time including an outstanding dinner at their favorite restaurant, Petra. Petra serves exquisite Middle Eastern cuisine complete with warm hospitality on the part of the owner, his family and staff. If you’re ever in Erie, make a reservation and treat your taste buds.

We had originally planned on stopping on the way back across the state from Erie to Bucks County. It’s a pretty long drive and can take as much as 7 hours. But, Joann and I were both anxious to get home and to also see our dogs Bucca and Max and kitties Winnie, Bear, and Toby who seem to miss us terribly when we travel. So, I pushed on and made the trip in an uneventful 6.5 hours without once breaking the speed limit or honking at people to get out of my way.

Maggie
Maggie

The day after we returned we got a visitor of our own. Eight-week old Maggie, a gorgeous Caveshon puppy came to visit for 11 days while her owners were on vacation. I had volunteered to watch her when our friends told me they didn’t want to leave her in a kennel all that time. We introduced her to our zoo the week before she arrived and she had a blast during her visit. Joann and both spoiled her something terrible and she spent most of that time playing with Max and Bucca or curled up next to me while I read and caught up on things on the Internet.

Why do I share all this with you? Well, one of the things I learned while sitting with Maggie and going over some data is that over 63% of you are over the age of 45. Actually, the percentages are 45 – 54 years old, 28%, 55 – 64 years old, 29% and 65 years or older, 6%. 46% of you are female and the data says 54% are male. Apparently there are no canines following the blog.

I figure that means that many of you probably have kids and grand kids of your own and you might like to hear a little bit about mine and even see their photos. At least I hope so. And, for the 20% of you between the ages of 21 and 34, I ask you to give me some leeway as I talk kids and grand kids today.

For those of you who are into numbers, you’ve probably already added up the totals and realize that something like 17% is missing. That would be the 35 – 44 year olds who also tune in and offer much of the feedback that I get here. I thank you for your continued reading and commenting.

I have quite a few new things I want to share with you that I’ve been working on this month. I’ll still be discussing sales, marketing, and creativity as well as leadership and the occasional foray into the world of politics and current events. You’re welcome to join in anytime and if you’d like to use my soapbox as a venue for your own post, just let me know. For now, enjoy the photos. And, when you’re done here, stop over and take a look at what Seth Godin and Paul Durban have been cooking up. It’s really, really good soup.

I Haven’t Been The Friend I Want To Be

I feel like I haven’t been a very good friend in the last few months. I’ve spent so much time on Facebook, Twitter, learning how to optimize email and tied to my computer that I ended up not spending face-to-face or telephone time with my best friends. Yesterday afternoon I had lunch with Bob who is a good friend and also the father of my god-son Matt. Joining us was Len who is Bob’s 80 year-old father-in-law and also a good friend of mine. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been with them over the last six months.

And guess what? We had a wonderful time laughing and catching up about everything and nothing. Working by yourself has many benefits but it also has plenty of drawbacks and one of them is a tendency (at least on my part) to forget how important it is to spend time with people – especially your close friends.

Facebook has its place but virtual hugs and face-to-face conversations are no substitute for the real thing.

So, I’ve decided to take time every day to pick up the phone and call someone just to say hello and ask them how they’re doing. If I can’t reach them by phone, I’ll write a short note on real paper and put it in an envelope and mail it. I think I’ll get some bright colored envelopes that will make them wonder what’s inside.

Life is too short and when my time comes to check out of here, I want to know that I was the friend I want to be.

I have a favor to ask of you. I want to make my blog, The Water Cooler Hangout, more valuable and relative for you. So, I’ve put together 5 questions that I would really appreciate if you’d take 5 minutes to answer. And, I even want to give you something for your time and for helping me out. So, please click on the link below and give me your feedback. And, once you’re done, drop me an email at [email protected] and send me your mailing address and I’ll send you a surprise. And, we all like to get good surprises in the mail!

Thank you!

Give Bob Your Feedback by Clicking Here!

Shine a Light On It

I had an Aha Moment this weekend and I want to tell you about it. I was rooting around the basement when I came across some old black & white photography equipment. One of the pieces of gear is a contact print frame. It is a very basic piece of equipment that you use to put a negative in contact with a piece of photo paper (all done in the dark) and then you expose it to the light. The next step is to put the paper through a 3-step chemical process that will give us a print that we call a photograph.

The Aha Moment came to me as I thought about how this process turns a negative into a positive. And, then I started thinking about the entire photographic printmaking process and realized you can follow it to turn any type of negative into a positive.

Here are the steps.

  1. Expose the negative to the light. Keeping it hidden (out of sight – out of mind) will not turn a negative into a positive anything.
  2. Develop. The first chemical used after exposing the negative to the light is called the developer. We need to develop a plan, a goal, an action list, a different attitude in order to begin our process of turning negative into positive. The thing to remember is that the photo developer is highly selective is what it affects. It only affects those areas where you have allowed light to penetrate the negative.
  3. Stop. The second chemical is a stop bath which is used to stop the development process. We don’t want to stop our own development process but we do want to stop the negativity. So, my advice is to just stop it. Don’t over-analyze it. Don’t have a committee give you their opinion which will take forever and probably be wrong for you. You know what to stop – so do it.
  4. Fix. Yep, the third step in the print making process is called the fixer. The fixer stabilizes the image and removes all the things you don’t want in it. What a great metaphor for fixing our own negatives!

I’d love to give you an acronym that you can use to remember this process. But, I know this isn’t likely unless you’re a photographer who has used a non-digital method to create photos.

So why write to you about this? My Aha Moment was personal for me. Like most everyone else, I struggle at times with negative thoughts and habits. And, what I realized this weekend is that often all it takes to change them is to start by exposing them to the light and bringing them out of the darkness. Sometimes we may need someone else to hold the light for us. And, sometimes we just need to change the picture.

Photo courtesy of sirwiseowl

They Are the Boss of You

I was doing some web surfing last night that left me shaking my head at how some companies still think they are in control of what consumers want. There was a time when they could jam advertising down our throats and we pretty much had to accept it in order to get the content we wanted. Everyone knows those days are over – everyone that is except those companies (almost always large) that just won’t give up trying to be in control of our viewing habits.

Are you familiar with the term pre-roll? It is the online video ad that comes up and forces you to watch it when you click on a link to content you’d like to see. ABC is one of the worst for pre-roll video in my opinion. If the news story is hot or one likely to attract a lot of eyes then you can bet that ABC will put a 15 – 30 second ad in front of the story that you cannot stop if you want to watch the story.

So what do people do about that? If they are like me they click away from ABC and find the same story someplace else. TubeMogul states that 16% click away. I’m not buying that. I think it is a lot higher.

But, then maybe most people have lots of time to waste and enjoy being manipulated into watching something. I doubt that!

I’m very interested in using online video for business and so should you if you care about sales and marketing. Using video to market, educate, entertain, sell, etc. is the sweet spot of online marketing now and for at least as many years forward as I can see. I don’t have to tell you (but I am) that your television, computer and mobile device screen (especially your mobile device screen) are all kind of merging together as far as where you get information.

YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world – larger than Yahoo. Your customers are watching more online video all the time and it isn’t just the kids. The middle-age to senior demographic is also showing amazing growth in online video viewing.

What you need to remember is the customer is in total control now. You need to get their attention but not by manipulating them into watching your advertisement. Most of them are not even original but just a 30 or 60 second commercial the agency cut down to fit in a shorter time span online.

What you and I will be doing is delighting our customers, clients and prospects with video that is interesting, educational, entertaining and fun! Video can be a great salesperson for you but just like you need an exceptional salesperson to get exceptional results the same thing goes for video. Put out junk video and it will work as well as using a junk direct mailing.

The same companies using manipulating tactics with online video are also using Twitter and Facebook to push advertising instead of having a conversation or putting out information people want to read or see. Don’t let yourself become one of them. Find yourself someone to guide you and run from anyone who says you need a big production budget. The most watched online videos are short and simple.

I’m excited about the future of online video. I want my clients to use it to not only market but to improve customer service, interactively engage with people, teach, and make them smile.

If you have any doubts about how important online video is to your business, I want you remember that is a medium like film, radio, and television. At the time those three mediums began people scoffed and said it will never replace the previous, it won’t become popular, it is just a gimmick, etc. It is a fact that many of those people were marketers who wanted to stick with what was working. I wonder things turned out for them?

Don’t be one of them. Start learning about online video now. I’m going to sponsor a free “How to Use Online Video in Your Business” webinar in the near future. If you’re interested in getting an email announcement before we invite the general public, then click here and you’ll have the first opportunity to register. It should be both educational and fun!

Funny How Life Works Sometimes

I have a neighbor who inspires me with her self-honesty. We should all be so lucky as to know ourselves the way she knows herself. Almost every day – rain or shine – hot or cold – she is up before dawn and heading out to run miles – a lot of miles.

It would be easy to label her as obsessed with running or exercise in general if you saw her running full out in snow and ice or in the pouring rain. I’ve come to understand that for her it is all about self-honesty. Running is her meditation. It is what gives her strength and serenity. It is what allows her to re-frame the dark parts of life into something good – into something that is supportive and life giving instead of taking. And, so she inspires me to know myself as well as she knows herself.

I began studying T’ai Chi a couple of weeks ago. In fact, I will be leaving here shortly to meet with my instructor. In our first class he addressed the students with a story about his journey with T’ai Chi. It was the last sentence in that story that left me with an indelible impression.He said:

“And for the past 35 years it is something that I have done almost every single day.”

That’s over 12,000 days of practice. He also inspires me. In 35 years when I’m 97 years old I hope to be at his level of self-awareness.

In any given week I probably see dozens of postings on Facebook, Twitter or a blog where someone asks the writer or entrepreneur, “How do you find the time to do all the things you do?” Quite often the answer is, “I don’t have a life.” Does that answer mean they have chosen to put all their energy into creating their business or promoting themselves at every opportunity only to wonder if they are being honest with themselves – to wonder if they are connected to their true self?

Are they focused on making a living rather than making a life? I believe that knowing and being honest with yourself gives you access to the way to create a life of happiness for both yourself and for those lucky enough to be part of your world.

Funny how life works sometimes.

I was in the middle of writing this when my best friend who I’ve written about many times, Walt Zastawa, called to tell me his brother Tom passed away Tuesday. Tom Zastawa was a simple guy. He liked the Steelers and his beer and his friends and family. He made you smile and laugh no matter how down you might be feeling. He was a genuinely wonderful person.

He didn’t have what anyone would call an easy life. A truck driver by profession, Tom spent years battling chronic back pain, bad surgery and in the final years – lupus and all it can entail.

And yet he was one of the most self-honest people I have ever known. The world has lost a good guy this week. But, I have to come back to what I wrote a couple paragraphs ago because if you have read this far it is important for you to read it again.

Tom focused on making a life. He wasn’t rich in terms of money. He didn’t have fame or glamor and he was lousy at playing cards. But, he did have something a lot more valuable and precious.

He KNEW who he was. How many of us can say that?

He has family and friends who love him and will miss him terribly. But, we’ll also remember what he taught us. Just be yourself. First you’ve got to figure that out but once you do – then live it.

Thank you Tom for the lessons and wonderful memories.

We Need a Leader – Not a Manager

Obama asks us to believe in change.
I’ve had a lot of time to think lately. You might have noticed I’ve been pretty quiet the last few weeks. Sometime last month I managed to come into contact with a very nasty bug of some sort. What started out as a sinus infection turned into a 20 day battle with two rounds of antibiotics and lots of rest time. In the long run it turned out to be a blessing of sorts as I haven’t taken any time off this year so this was a chance to spend more time with Joann, read a pile of magazines, books, and newspapers and day dream a lot.

I thought a lot about leadership. Many of the articles I read were about President Obama and our current legislative bodies. I’m someone who bought into the President’s ideas two years ago for changing politics as usual. Change was the key motivator for millions of people especially for the 25 million young people between 18 and 29 years old. They (and I) believed he was going to transform things.

Instead he focused on maintaining the status quo. Over 69 million people voted for him and were ready to follow his leadership. We were ready to help him make the changes he talked about and the changes we also wanted and supported. Instead of using the tribe he had ready to help with the hard work of change, the President became presidential, surrounded himself with status quo advisors, stopped using his inspirational speaking abilities and spent two years trying to compromise with people who had no intention of compromising.

So a few months ago the Democrats got walloped in the election. Almost 40% of the young people who voted in 2008 stayed home this time. Disillusioned? Absolutely! I’ve talked with them and they all say the same things. “He let us down.” “He got in office and became just another politician.” “I believed him. Now I don’t.”

Here is what I don’t understand. Sixty-nine million Americans voted for change. What would have happened over the past two years if the President had stuck to his promises and used the media (both mainstream and social) the way he did to get elected and asked us to not accept the actions of both the Senate and House. Would we have said, “Oh no, we voted for you but it’s up to you now. We’ll just sit and watch you do all the work.” I don’t think so. I think we would have done what he asked of us. But, instead of asking us to work to make change happen, he spent his time asking for compromise from the very system he vowed to change.

I wonder what would have happened if he had acted like a leader instead of a manager?

What do you think?

Photo courtesy of marcalandavis

Small Business Government Loans – A Letter to the President

Dear President Obama:

I’m pleased to hear that you took time out of your busy schedule yesterday to meet with 20 CEO’s of some of the top businesses in the country. I hope the CEO’s of  General Electric, Google, Intel, Comcast, Dow Chemical, Cisco, Honeywell, PepsiCo, Motorola, Eli Lilly, DuPont, Boeing, Duke Energy, UPS, Pritzker, and Amex offered up some good economic solutions.

I read where you stated, “This morning I hope to elicit ideas from these business leaders that will help us not only climb out of recession but seize the promise of this moment.”

I’m not exactly sure what that means but I’m going to assume it means you believe that this point in time offers an opportunity to get the economy going. I hope that’s what you mean, sir, and with that in mind I’m going to make a couple of my own suggestions. First may I offer some information and statistics about small business.

I think you should know that the group of 20 companies you met with employs less than 3,000,000 people. According to an agency of the United States Government (Small Business Administration) small businesses employ approximately 60,000,000 people. There are about 23 million small businesses in the US so I don’t expect you’ll find time to meet with all of us. But maybe some of us?

The truth is we’re a very diverse group and you can’t count on us to agree on all things. Pretty much all of us are proud to be small business owners. We’re proud to be able to support ourselves, our families and our employees and their families. Oh, and just in case you’re thinking that we might employ a whole lot more people than big business but it is big business that is the major contributor to our Gross Domestic Product, I wouldn’t blame you. I figured the same thing before I looked it up. The SBA says that small business contributes more than 50 percent of the GDP. Pretty much all these numbers are in here.

We also make up 97 percent of exporters and produce 29 percent of all export value. How’s that for contributing to the balance of trade?

One last statistic that I find interesting – the latest figures show that small business creates 75 percent of the net new jobs in our economy. Kind of makes you proud of us, doesn’t it?

So here is my suggestion to help get this economy really going again. It’s based on talking to clients, customers and friends of mine who own small businesses.

Get the banks to lend them money again.

These big companies are sitting on trillions. Banks won’t lend to small business without making them jump through processes that make loan sharks look downright tempting. I know owners who need more equipment in order to expand and hire more people. They have the sales but they can’t accept them without expansion. And, the same banks that used to come to two of these particular companies begging for their business now won’t let them get to second base.

Besides meeting with these CEO’s yesterday, you also made an announcement that you are going to help get small business government loans into the hands of small business owners. That was right after the SBA quietly announced that the agency will end its existing Community Express loan program on April 30th.

Then according to the SBA’s announcement, it will replace Community Express with two new programs on March 15. One is called “Small Loan Advantage and the other is “Community Advantage.” Both programs will go up to $250,000 and carry SBA’s basic 7(a) program guaranty structure — 85 percent for loans up to $150,000 and 75 percent for those greater than $150,000. But the loan application process will be more streamlined than basic 7(a).

Then I read that Small Loan Advantage will only be made by the nation’s largest banks that are in the agency’s “Preferred Lender Program.” These banks have historically made larger loans that are 50 percent guaranteed up to $350,000 under the Express Loan Program, and 75 percent guaranteed up $5 million with basic 7(a).

From both personal and anecdotal experience, these big banks only want to make big loans. In over 40 years experience I have never met a small – small business owner who actually ever got an SBA loan. I do know quite a few people who have tried only to be turned down or turned off by the process and red tape.

Maybe you are familiar with Jerry Chautin, Mr. President. He is a volunteer SCORE business counselor, business columnist and SBA’s 2006 national “Journalist of the Year” award winner. He has a good article about the new programs and the death of the old one here.

He also says that “Small-business owners have reason to be a bit less merry this holiday season,” as a result of these changes that you

I don’t know who is getting these loans, Mr. President. But, I do know who isn’t getting them and they are business that have been around for years with good financial histories. The SBA programs aren’t getting out to everyone.

I think you need to spend some time with small business owners. And, please not only the larger ones. Home-based businesses now make up over 52 percent of all small business. It would be beneficial if you talk with some of them too.

One last thing, Mr. President, red tape is a big problem for small business. The Small Business Administration states that it costs us annually $1.75 trillion to meet federal regulatory compliance. We could create a lot of stimulus just by eliminating some of the federal regulations we have to live with. Let’s start with the 132,000 new ones that were added just since 1982.

So that’s about it for now. I appreciate you taking the time to read this. I’ve been a small business owner and entrepreneur most of my life. I’m 61 years old now and I still believe in the dream of owning your own business. At least 23 million other Americans agree with me.

Respectfully,

Bob Poole

Late to the Party

I am late, late, late to this party. My friends Kyeli and Pace have an awesome program that I signed up for and I’m recommending it to everyone. Registration closes tonight! That’s what I mean by late to the party.

Please take a look and think about doing it. I guarantee (and so do Pace & Kyeli) that the benefits will far outweigh the investment. And, the investment is only $37 if you jump on it today.

Thank you!

52 Weeks to Awesome

Imagine what your life would be like if you were totally awesome. What would you do? What would your typical Tuesday be like? How would you feel? How many of your dreams could you turn into reality?

Go ahead, take a moment and think about it. We’ll wait. (:

So… let’s do it! This isn’t an idle fantasy. This isn’t something that only other people get to have. You can live an awesome life, and we’ll show you 52 ways to do it.

We’ve written down the 52 most important things to make your life more awesome, in plain, easy-to-understand, and easy-to-practice language. Concrete things you can do to be happier, be more motivated, be more productive… ways to figure out exactly what you want out of life and make it happen.

Each week, we’ll give you one bite-size tidbit (something that’s straightforward to learn) and one bite-size mission (something that’s straightforward to do). 52 minor life improvements add up to one huge life improvement.

The course is 52 weeks long and available in 3 formats: email, audio, and a downloadable workbook. There will be about an hour of self-work per week, on average. Becoming more awesome does take a little effort, after all.

52 Weeks to Awesome

Your 52 Missions

What does “awesome” mean, anyway? We prefer clear communication to being weasely or vague, so we’ll explain exactly what we mean by “awesome” by telling you exactly what we’ll teach in the course.

These are missions, not lessons or assignments or topics, because we’re not just lecturing about a bunch of philosophical crap. We’re not going to fill your inbox with a bunch of motivational clichés that will make you feel good for a few minutes and not really improve your life at all. Real change takes action, and that’s why we’re sending you on 52 missions. Concrete things you can actually do… should you choose to accept them.

Here they are.

  • Week 1: Helping you complete the next 51 missions (and anything else you commit to)

1st Module: Knowing Yourself

  • Week 2: Self-acceptance essentials
  • Week 3: Self-esteem essentials
  • Week 4: Self-love essentials
  • Week 5: Introspection introduction

“I never expected to make such concrete, obvious progress in the year, let alone so quickly. Thank you, I can’t believe how much you guys are helping me to help myself.”

-nic

  • Week 6: Why we do the things we do
  • Week 7: We are not our thoughts (and why it matters)
  • Week 8: Get this tape out of my head!
  • Week 9: Creating awareness of repeating patterns in your life
  • Week 10: Stopping the downward spiral
  • Week 11: Self-care essentials
  • Week 12: Self-empowerment essentials
  • Week 13: Figuring out your personality type and how it helps you be more awesome
  • Week 14: Forgiveness: freeing yourself without leaving yourself vulnerable

“I loved [Mission #12]! Partly because it assumes I’m the kind of person who will have a pterodactyl at hand, but also because the exercise was both practical and easy. And because it explained something I’ve read before but not really understood: that we can just switch our own emotions. I thought there was some secret to it, but, uh, no, you just SWITCH. Really useful, Pace and Kyeli! Loved this one. I’m going to make a point of practicing this a few times a day, just to get the hang of it. Another fabulous tool in the set.”

-Beth

2nd Module: Trusting Yourself

  • Week 15: What is fear, anyway?
  • Week 16: Building courage and self-trust
  • Week 17: Self-confidence essentials
  • Week 18: Moving through social anxiety
  • Week 19: Standing up for yourself without being a jerk
  • Week 20: Practicing “no”
  • Week 21: Processing criticism
  • Week 22: The mystery of the voodoo doll

“This week’s mission came right on time for me. I’d had a very difficult day of saying ‘NO’ to two career opportunities that came my way – lots of anxiety about it right before the assignment arrived. So, I was so happy to receive this one. it made me feel much more confident about my decisions and alerted me to how difficult it is for me to say no to things that I think I should do but just don’t feel right. This course is lovely!”

-Elyse

  • Week 23: Finding and respecting your limits
  • Week 24: Vanquishing procrastination
  • Week 25: Decision-making essentials
  • Week 26: Sunk cost
  • Week 27: Dodging stuckness and letting go of worry
  • Week 28: Having faith

“I’ve really been enjoying 52 Weeks to Awesome, because each week is like a nudge in the right direction. Sometimes the concepts are new, sometimes they’re told in a new light and I really appreciate that. My brain likes to tell me I know this stuff already, but I think Pace and Kyeli have got it right – it takes a year to make these incremental changes that will affect your life for the better.”

-Nathalie Lussier

3rd Module: Understanding and Being Understood by Others

  • Week 29: The two reasons that people communicate (and how to tell them apart)
  • Week 30: Avoiding pointless arguments (especially on the internet)
  • Week 31: Communicating clearly without provoking an argument
  • Week 32: Finding common ground
  • Week 33: Using words to make you happier
  • Week 34: Using words to empower yourself

“I love this program. Usually the topic is freakishly EXACTLY what I needed to hear or work on for that week.”

-Rachelle Lucas

4th Module: Meaningful Action

  • Week 35: How to follow through on your dreams
  • Week 36: Decluttering essentials
  • Week 37: Trip over your motivation
  • Week 38: Make a down plan when you’re up
  • Week 39: Organization essentials: Putting your brain onto a coffee table
  • Week 40: Time management essentials: Putting your brain into a calendar
  • Week 41: Finding and honoring your best creative time
  • Week 42: Improving your memory
  • Week 43: Raising the awesome bar
  • Week 44: A company of thieves
  • Week 45: Time flies when you’re having fun: the good
  • Week 46: Time flies when you’re having fun: the bad
  • Week 47: Time flies when you’re having fun: the ugly
  • Week 48: Energy management: how to use your willpower and how not to use your willpower
  • Week 49: Multi-tasking and single-tasking
  • Week 50: Spawning a background thread
  • Week 51: The 30-day trial
  • Week 52: Manifestation essentials

“I’m really enjoying 52 Weeks to Awesome; I look forward to getting the emails each week, and always open them up with a sense of excitement — they feel like a little ‘just for me’ treat. There’s always something which makes me think, and several missions have really opened my eyes to something that I’d otherwise have taken years to realise on my own. Thank you!”

-Ali Luke

52 Weeks to Awesome

All it takes is commitment and 52 baby steps.

The course consists of 52 awesome missions. You’ll get an email each week containing that week’s mission. That email will also include a link to an MP3 file you can ignore, listen to, or download to listen to later. You’ll also get a 135-page workbook containing all 52 of the missions, for you to download or print out. You can pick and choose which format(s) work best for your learning style.

And you get it all for $52, just $1 per week.

If you pre-register this week, you get a discounted price of $37.

Buy Now

52 Weeks to Awesome

Bonus #1:
Pace & Kyeli’s best-kept secret
to living an awesome life

After we had already constructed the list of 52 missions, we realized that we’d left out the most important thing. We had completely ignored it because it’s part of our daily routine, and so it had become invisible to us. Usual error, anyone? (:

When we come up with something this important that makes such a big difference in our lives, we usually share it with everyone as a public blog post or in our newsletter. We’re not generally big on secrets. But for this one thing, we agreed to not share it publicly, but instead to leave it as a special bonus only available to folks who sign up for 52 Weeks to Awesome.

We’ll whisper it to you between Week 1 and Week 2, so you can make the most of it during the year.

52 Weeks to Awesome is, for lack of a better word, superb. Kyeli and Pace have crafted their program with care and love. Through just ten weeks, I can tell they put a lot of thought and effort into the order and structure of the program with each lesson building on those before it. I feel like the program has given me the tools and guidance to build my awesomeness, and the space to use them myself. And I think the biggest compliment I can give it, is that even though I feel almost as awesome as I can get after just 10 weeks, I will still complete the final 42 weeks because I know it will only get better.”

-Conor

52 Weeks to Awesome

Bonus #2: Early Bird Bonus Missions

We came up with 4 additional weeks’ worth of material for How to Be Awesome, but we didn’t want to cross any of the other 52 off the list, so we decided to make them special bonus weeks that you only get if you pre-register.

  • Early Bird Bonus Mission #1: Money management essentials
  • Early Bird Bonus Mission #2: Sticking your foot in the door of awesome
  • Early Bird Bonus Mission #3: How to be lucky
  • Early Bird Bonus Mission #4: Manifestation essentials
52 Weeks to Awesome

Bonus #3: Partner Pack Bonus Missions

52 Weeks to Awesome is designed so that you can complete it on your own, but part of being awesome is learning how to interact with others in a more awesome way. That’s why we’re including these 5 bonus missions, designed to be completed with a partner, if you pre-register this week. Even if you don’t have someone to do the missions with, you can still read through them.

  • Partner Pack Bonus Mission #1: Boundaries: what they are, why they’re important, and how to set them
  • Partner Pack Bonus Mission #2: Asking for what you need
  • Partner Pack Bonus Mission #3: Communication essentials
  • Partner Pack Bonus Mission #4: Becoming a better listener
  • Partner Pack Bonus Mission #5: Communication as a way to increase your awesomeosity
52 Weeks to Awesome

Bonus #4:
Creating Your Goddess Year
Workbook, Planner & Calendar

The lovely and generous Goddess Leonie is offering her 2011: Creating Your Goddess Year Workbook and the accompanying 2011 Calendar and Day Planner as bonuses for everyone who pre-registers for 52 Weeks to Awesome.

The workbook is handwritten & rainbow illustrated, and it’s gorgeous, like everything Leonie creates. It’s all about dreaming big and then making stuff happen to make those dreams come true. It includes:

  • A monthly calendar
  • A daily planner template you can print each day you need it
  • Creating affirmations for your new year
  • Creating a list of things to do when everything sucks
  • Creative projects to help you dream bigger
  • Making a powerful theme for your year
  • Making new year habits that sustain, nourish, & inspire you
  • Loads of reflective, soulful questions to help you get clarity, joy, & healing
  • Collecting tools to help you whenever you need extra support during your year
52 Weeks to Awesome

Bonus #5: Jen Hofmann’s The Wish Kit

The Wish Kit

The amazing Jennifer Hofmann of Inspired Home Office was generous enough to donate her very best entry-level product, The Wish Kit, as a bonus for 52 Weeks to Awesome.

The Wish Kit is a 28-page workbook that combines the right questions with your inner knowing. It’s a process of discovery that is unlike any organizing book – because it’s all about you.

The Wish Kit helps you discover and clarify what you wish your office could be. It’s about you and about what you need to create a supportive, inspiring workspace.

In the end, you will have insights, enthusiasm, and a clear plan to create an office that truly supports you while you do the work you love.

What’s in The Wish Kit?

Most importantly:

  • hope
  • inspiration
  • a clear path forward

Practically speaking, the workbook has 5 parts. Put them together and The Wish Kit:

  • Prepares you for opening to the creative process.
  • Explores your ideas of a supportive, inspiring workspace and deepens them.
  • Helps you understand what’s currently happening in your office and why it affects you so strongly.
  • Assists you in discovering compelling solutions that help the clutter and confusion disappear.
  • Moves you forward with enthusiasm and clarity.

Kyeli loves this workbook, and she wants to point out that you can use it for any space you want to make more awesome, not just a home office. (:

52 Weeks to Awesome

Bonus #6: Coaching with Pace

World-Changing Coaching

Once you’ve made it through the entire course and completed at least 80% of the missions, I want to show my appreciation of your awesomeness by offering you a free coaching session. We can talk about what’s next for you, figure out what area of your life you’d like to make even more awesome, and make it happen. It usually costs $500 for a coaching session with me, so I’m offering this as a big incentive for you to keep up the good work and make it through the whole year. Kyeli and I will be rooting for you all 52 weeks!

It takes a lot of commitment and integrity to make a big investment in yourself, so these bonuses are our way of saying thanks for having faith in us, and even more importantly, thanks for having faith in yourself.

52 Weeks to Awesome

Pre-registration is only open until Thursday, Dec 2.

If you pre-register now, you pay the discounted price of $37 and you lock in all your bonuses. But the “pre” in “pre-register” means that the course doesn’t begin until January. We’re closing registration on Friday, December 3rd. We won’t open it up again until 2011, and that’ll be without the early bird bonuses.

Why? We’re going on a big road trip soon, and we’d like to get everyone registered and ready to go before we leave. That’s also why we’re closing registration during most of December, because it’ll be easier to switch things over and add in all the cool new stuff if we’re not also entering new people into the system at the same time.

52 Weeks to Awesome

Here’s what you get:

By signing up for 52 Weeks to Awesome, you get:

  • 52 emails, each with a tidbit to learn and a mission to accomplish
  • 52 MP3s, the audio versions of the missions for you to listen to
  • A 135-page workbook so you can peek ahead, refer back, or print out and scribble in
  • Our best-kept secret to living an awesome life
  • 4 Early Bird Bonus Missions
  • 5 Partner Pack Bonus Missions
  • Creating Your Goddess Year workbook, planner & calendar
  • Coaching with Pace as a reward for completing 80% of the missions

The course costs $52, just $1 per week.

If you pre-register this week, you get a discounted price of $37.

When you pre-register, you get the two bonus workbooks immediately, and the rest of the course begins the first week of January, 2011.

“Thanks so much. I actually feel that with your support and guidance I can do this, which is a very new thing for me. Thank you both.”

-Jane

52 Weeks to Awesome

Take a peek behind the curtain…

Here’s a free sample: just one of the 52 missions you’ll get as part of 52 Weeks to Awesome.

52 Weeks to Awesome

Our commitment to you

Our sincere intention for this course is to help you live an awesome life. With that intention in our hearts, we offer this commitment to you:

If you do the work (complete at least 80% of the assignments with an honest effort) and you don’t feel totally awesome after 52 weeks (by your judgment of “totally awesome”) then we’ll not only refund you 100% of the money you paid for the course, we’ll give you two hours of personal coaching for free.

In fact, if you’re cool with talking about what did and didn’t work for you in the course, and how we could maybe make it better for the folks who take it next year, we’ll give you double your money back.

You’re pledging your time and your money by investing in this course, and we want to honor your choice by pledging our time and our money as well.

52 Weeks to Awesome

Here’s where you sign up!

Click here to pre-register for 52 Weeks to Awesome.

Buy Now
Remember, pre-registration is only open until Thursday, December 2nd.
(If you’re buying this as a gift, please include the recipient’s email address, first name, and any special instructions in the “note to seller” box.)

National Time Warp Day

There needs to be a term for the day after our time changes back or forwards an hour. It deserves its own name. It’s actually regulated in the US by something called the Uniform Time Act of 1966. And, none other than the Department of Transportation has responsibility for all time laws. But, nobody has seen fit to give the Sunday on which it occurs a special name.

I think we should call it National Time Warp Day because for me time really does seem warped for a few days after the change. I used to handle it better but now I have all these clocks in my home that automatically adjust to the correct time and I find myself shaking my head and thinking, “No it can’t be that (early or late).

And, weird things seem to happen to me in the 48 hours following the changing of the clocks. For example, last night I work up in the middle of the night and seemingly wide awake I said “HTML.” Now why would I suddenly decide to call out the acronym for Hyper Text Markup Language? It isn’t like I spend much time thinking about it. Years ago I woke up sometime on Sunday night/Monday morning, got into the shower, dressed and was ready to work only to realize when I got into my car that it was 4am.

A lot of people have opinions on the use of Daylight Savings Time. There is even an excellent book published in 2005 called Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time by Dr. David Prerau.

In fact, right now as I write this it is 3pm here in the east but I can sense the darkness arriving early and it just doesn’t feel right to me. This morning my two dogs were very confused that the alarm was going off and it was already light outside. They’ve been sleeping a lot today.

How about you? Does your energy level change with the Time Warp? Do you think you’re less productive in the first few weeks when it gets dark outside so early in the evening? Maybe it’s only me. Well, in a few days my body and mind will adjust and time will seem normal to me again.

Until March.

You’re Going to Put a What in Your Pocket?

My friend Stephen is a little – well – different. He's had something like a dozen or more near death experiences starting when he was four-years-old. We met about nine years ago when I called his tree service and landscaping company. I picked him out of the phone book as I was new to the area and was in a hurry to find someone. Truth is I called three companies of which two showed up to give me a proposal. Stephen wasn't the cheapest but I had a feeling he would be the best. The rest is history. I became his client and later he became mine. Along the way we became good friends.

Since he's had so many near death experiences Stephen seems to have lost all fear of things like what might happen if you go swimming in a lake in a thunder storm. He's already been struck by lightning twice (not in the lake) but he actually does swim in his own lake during storms. He's invited me to join him as he says it is quite invigorating. Sadly, I always had a root canal scheduled during the same time as his invitations.

As you probably know, I enjoy playing with video. So, about once a month I visit Stephen at his absolutely beautiful 37 acre farm about 20 minutes away and I shoot some video of him for posting on YouTube. A few years back he decided to write a book about his past experiences. He now has two books out and he does quite a bit of speaking. He has a beautiful message once you strip out some of the fringe science. At least that's my opinion.

Last week he asked me if I could video him outdoors at dusk when it was pretty dark in order to use the dark woods behind as a metaphor for the darkness than can affect our lives. I said, "Why not give it a try." 

I arrived about 7:30pm and set up a camera and tripod outdoors in front of some trees. While I was setting up Stephen started telling me about an idea he had to include a live baby squirrel in the video. He's been into wanting to use props lately.

Stephen's company removes hundreds of large dead trees a year. And, very often they find a nest of squirrels with babies in the tree. I doubt too many tree surgeons bring home baby squirrels who have to be fed every two hours 24×7 for weeks by hand but that's what my friends do. Or, I should say that is what Stephen's wife, Kathy does. It seems like she always has a house full of baby animals that need care and she takes them all in. And, right at this moment they have a litter that Kathy has been nursing along for weeks.

Stephen told me thought it would be a great idea to put the squirrel in the front pocket of his cargo shorts and then at the end of the video he'd reach in, pull out the squirrel and make some point about the mystery of life. He asked me what I thought about the idea. My first response was the title of this post. But, I know better than to try and dissuade him from anything he's set on doing. And, honestly, there was a bad little devil sitting on my shoulder saying, "Oh this is going to be too good to miss! Let him go"

Right after this discussion, Kathy showed up on her way out to a meeting. She stopped and asked me if I had been told about the live squirrel prop yet. We both were grinning madly at each other as we contemplated the possibilities of what could go wrong. Kathy said she had already warned Stephen that the squirrels were getting quite large and almost ready to be released and that they were not the tamest at this point. In fact, I think she said they were getting nasty. You'd think that would be enough to stop most people but not someone who has been struck by lightning twice.

Kathy waved goodbye and Stephen headed off to change into his cargo shorts and put the squirrel into his pants.

Meanwhile, I waited and talked to Stephen's youngest son. We discussed the squirrel idea and he was smiling from ear-to-ear. He definitely wanted to be there for the video. A few minutes after Stephen had gone into what he calls his shack to change, his oldest son pulled into the farm and saw me talking to his brother. After saying hello he asked if we knew where his dad was at the moment.

"He's in the shack putting a squirrel in the pocket of his cargo shorts." I said. He didn't even raise an eyebrow. Instead he headed for the shack. About 3 minutes later out same the oldest son and he was carrying a cage like you'd use to transport a cat to the vet. Or, a squirrel back to the house.

"What's up?" we asked. "Dad got bit by the squirrel – twice." came the reply. My first thought was I hope he's okay. But, my second thought was "I can't believe I missed videoing it." I know. Not nice. But, you would have thought the same thing.

Then his other son asked, "Where did he get bit?" The possibilities were frightening when you think about putting a squirrel in your pants.

Turns out the little critter nailed him twice on his hand as he was trying to insert him into his pants. When Stephen reappeared, he actually seemed saddened by the fact he wasn't able to get it in his pocket. I think I managed to stifle myself as he described what happened.

Now, I tell you this story for a couple of reasons.

One, I hope it puts a smile on your face.

And, two, Kathy called me today as she and Stephen were in the car. We talked about the squirrel adventure and she ended the conversation with a statement that is worth repeating and remembering.

She said, "I've always told my children you can learn things one of two ways. The first way is to learn from other people who know what they are doing.

The other way is the hard way – which is how your father likes to learn."

And, then we both giggled as I heard Stephen laughing in the background.

Squirrel illustration courtesy of Martin Whitmore