It’s a numbers game…but what do those numbers tell us?

Many of you may have noticed, I disappeared. Without any warning I just dropped off the “internet” for a little while. The reaction was actually the most interesting part. I got quite a few emails from those who were looking for more ass-kicking. It is amazing to me how much we can touch people’s lives without us never even knowing it. For months and months I had been writing away and posting  things all over the place. Then I decided to take a break. Hide out at a cottage for a while and enjoy some sun and allow for some much needed re-energizing, yes indeed, even a professional ass kicker needs to give his boots a break once in awhile and get his feet firmly back under him. It has been a really wonderful summer! But now I’m back and ready to share some more of my learning from my own life and those around me.

So what have a I learned lately? Well 1 thing is for sure. You are making a difference in people’s lives everyday whether they tell you that or not. Therefore, keep plugging away and doing the work that you love because it is helping. Fascinating to me though that we don’t tell people how much they help us or change our lives so quickly. After receiving some emails after I went “off-air” it made me think-‘wow do I do that to people? Do people help me and I don’t really let them know what a great job they are doing?’ So my mission this month is to thank every person who is excelling at their job and excelling in life to provide me with quick service, friendly smiles, filling my head with wonderful and inspiring information, and all the other good stuff that exists in life. I honestly can’t say that I do that now. I know I complain a lot when I get bad service, someone cuts me off in a line, and/or I get ripped off on some bill but what if I spent more time thanking those that are doing all the little things right? Wouldn’t that make my life and theirs so much better. Perhaps that is the lesson: Ignore those who are not helping and appreciate those who are. Even if it is just the little things.

Ok so what about the title? What about the numbers? Well when I just kind of went “off-air” (it should be noted I didn’t put a whole lot of thought into it, it just happened) one of my really close business friends scowled at me and said “WHAT ABOUT YOUR NUMBERS? Shawn you have to keep writing, you have to stay in contact, you have to constantly be publishing, and creating new things, you will lose ALL of your people.” My friend even asked me how often I check my numbers. Believe me I understood where he was coming from. I know that readers like new content and that they do get distracted and venture off onto new things. That said though I’m not NUMBER crazy. I don’t look at my statistics everyday maybe not even every week. I look at the numbers casually but what I’m most interested in is making connections. I want to really understand who it is that is reading the things I write, why they are reading it, and how else I may be able to help. I really want to just get to know people. The best thing about my numbers (at least what I think, and really isn’t that all that matters) is that people from over 50 different countries are reading what I write. I love that I have a chance and have connected with people doing amazing things from all around the world. This internet thing can be just so amazing. It gives us a chance to meet like-minded and diametrically opposed minded people from almost every nook and cranny. I know these numbers get me excited. Even more than the numbers, names get me excited, stories get me excited, personalities get me excited. So what do your numbers tell you? What do you want your numbers to tell you? Loyalty vs Breadth? That is always the question for me.

The lesson I learned from the numbers discussion: Numbers can be important and fun to watch. It helps you understand growth patterns and it can help you decide what is relevant. But, and this is a big BUT don’t get too caught up in the numbers. Remember you are a person and that all the content you are writing is for other PEOPLE. Get to know a few of them if not all of them and you will be amazed at what you can find out.

Welcome back and thanks for sticking around! Next time should I let you know I’m taking a hiatus?

A new club in Ottawa-make the changes you need

I’ve been working on this one for a while and after a few years of people asking to make it happen I have finally put together some pretty good material. I am excited to offer this new LIVE professional ass kicking club. Just like the boot camps that people are joining to lose weight, gain muscle, and overall get physically fitter this club is going to kick people’s butts and minds. This club will work to help you lose some of the negativity and hesitation you have in your life, it will help you gain some self confidence and assurance, it will push you mind to grow and to act. This club will be the difference for some in their ability to succeed or fail. This club will push people’s limits and will ask them to achieve beyond their limits. If any of this sounds like something you would like to have happen in your life then please by all means check it out, send me a message, or like batman just shine the symbol of a boot in the air and I’ll be there.

If you think you need a quick kick in the butt or you know someone that could then sign up today: http://bootclub.eventbrite.ca/

Don’t forget your fans and your supporters

Lately I have been blessed with some really great supporters. Really my whole life has been filled with supporters. I grew up in a really small town where everyone knew you whether you wanted them to or not. My small town was a place where the good and the bad was aired on a daily basis in our small shops, in the gas station, in the grocery store, in the barber shop. People talked a lot and shared the news and excitement of the day. My small town was like a real living soap-opera with all kinds of subplots and twists and turns. If you were a student and you smoked for the first time at the high school chances were your parents knew before you got home. This small town became my breeding ground for support. I’m sure some don’t feel this way but to me growing up in a small town provided me with just the right people to give me my early kicks in the ass and my gentle pats on the back.

I will never forget growing up in that small town and just now when I saw this amazing video “Tribute to the Helpful” I could not think about anything other than my hometown.

There is a whole lot of support out there if you are willing to look for it, embrace it, and pass some of it along.

How do you remember your fans and supporters? I try my best to stay in touch, to send cards, to write small notes. Every chance I get to speak in front of people I mention their names and talk about how important it is to find your team, to find your supporters, your fans, and never ever go a day without thinking about them. And finally, when you can, support them, help them, do for them what they would do for you.

So who are your fans? Who supports you? Do you even realize all the small things that people do to help you move forward?

Thank you to those out there who have ever helped me become the person I love being today! I will forever be in gratitude to you.

Thank you for helping me be a better athlete, a better teammate, for showing me what followership and leadership is all about, thank you for helping me communicate better, thank you for volunteering your time to help young people develop, thank you for rarely saying no but rather saying how can I help?, thank you for making me stand on those stages and give those speeches, thanks most of all for just being there and having an ear willing to listen. You are all amazing and you have to know I think about you lots and your legacy lives on as I continue to pass on the lessons you have taught me to others.

Please I ask one thing: Share a story of one of your most memorable supporters/fans in the comments section, I love reading those stories.

Don’t fail to have a great career

When Larry Smith’s video from TEDx Waterloo first came out I was one of the first people to watch it in awe. I loved it, Mr. Smith was speaking my language. It’s true you know, most people will fail to have a great career. Not for any other reason than they have let themselves, in fact they have even talked themselves into a career that is not as stellar as the one they once imagined or dream of now. That’s not to say that many others along the road don’t help out but man do we, as human beings, usually do a number on ourselves. We talk to ourselves a lot in negative tones, in disbelief, and we are really afraid of failure. What if we slip up? What if we look silly? ‘What if’s’ out the ying-yang and instead we often choose the easiest path, the one that is filled with praise, A’s, and gold stars. We choose the path that those around us tell us (sometimes openly, sometimes inadvertently, sometimes what we have convinced ourselves to hear) we will be best at. Now most of you will get in this ‘chosen’ career and feel comfortable, you will learn along the way to deal with some of the bumps, you will put in several years months (remember I’m dealing with millennials now and believe me, we, yes I’m close to being one of you, think we should go from school to CEO and that we could run the company better than anyone) before you start to resent how the office/place of employment runs.

Well Larry Smith has some wonderful things to say about all of this so I will leave you with him now. But please do think of 2 things for me:

  1. What are your passions? Really, what are they (yes they, you have more than 1, work to figure out what they are, WORK!)? How could you use them to earn some money?
  2. What pisses you off about this world? What would you do to change it?
Now a little Larry Smith:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/carminegallo/2012/07/09/why-you-will-fail-to-have-a-great-career-the-interview/

What the hell has networking become?

Just yesterday I came across a great article on the Pin Striped Suit blog (authored by Matt) that spoke about why networking is a dirty word: http://thepinstripedsuit.com/2012/05/13/networking-is-a-dirty-word/. This article struck a chord with me and I thought I would put my own little spin on it.

Networking is about making RELATIONSHIPS it is not about getting the all mighty cards to add to your rolodex of people you may or may not ever contact (more likely never). I mean think about it and look around you probably have a stack of cards lying around somewhere, here is an exercise: flip through them, pull out every single card that has a name on it that you really know and that you would invite for a drink or for a catch up; When you have made that pile of people you really know and would spend some time getting to know then DO IT! Invite them out, chat about their work and who they are. Then the other pile, most likely the bigger pile, throw it OUT! You will never contact them.

Networking is more than getting 1000 “friends” or “likes” on Facebook and certainly is more than finding yourself swimming in Twitter followers. I was hosting a seminar only a week or two ago about Social Media and one of the participants asked how many followers is a really “good” number to have. My advice was quite simple, make sure that you have a network that when you reach out to them they respond. Of course this network can be small or it can be big but the only real value in a network is when it responds when you post, when you ask a question, when you seek advice. If you have a network that is engaged I argue it doesn’t matter how big or how small it is but rather how often you can interact with it. If you can interact with it and there is value in the network for everyone then most likely the network will grow.

Again networking is about building relationships so don’t ever forget that your network goes TWO ways. You can’t simply continue to ask questions, seek advice, and/or sell stuff all the time but rather sometimes you must also be willing to help out, respond to others request, speak up when someone takes the time to put themselves out there. Keep the conversation going and your networks (notice the ‘s’ yes you can have multiple) will thrive.

I really like that in Matt’s post about networking he wrote “find ways to create value for your contacts.” This is perhaps one of the most important steps that almost everyone usually forgets. If those people in your network are happy and you are finding ways to help make and keep them happy then believe me they will want to reciprocate, don’t you think?

When you are physically at an event and someone approaches you for the all important CARD SWAP, next time why don’t you stop them and ask them some questions. Play a small game with them see if they really want to get to know you or if they are just handing out cards. Be cautious with your cards-you don’t have to throw cards at everyone you meet hoping that they will be able to BUY from you or pass on your information to someone really important. Instead take the time to get to know them and see if you have a connection. A general rule that has often worked is that if I see that I could invite that person to my dinner table for a conversation then they are definitely getting a business card. Don’t be afraid to laugh at a few jokes or even talk about things that are not directly related to work.

One last point that needs to be reiterated from Matt’s great post on his blog: be consistent in staying in touch. When you find that you haven’t heard from someone in a little while one of the best ways to reconnect is just send them a quick email or a give them a quick call and see what they are working on these days. Ask them a few questions, try and remember what you talked about last and what they were up to. You can even cheat a little bit sometimes, I use social media and I keep a bit of a database that helps me make up some questions before I get back in touch with a long lost contact.

Finally this wouldn’t be a good ass kicking post if I didn’t talk about getting over your fears when networking. If you want to meet someone then there are a MILLIONS ways to get in touch with them now so reach out, don’t be afraid. For goodness sakes any contact you want to make is just another person like you. Remember the contact you are looking to make (famous, important, or not) was most likely exactly where you are now so reach out, tell them your story, and invite them on a skype chat or if they are close enough invite to get them a coffee, a beer, or even buy them a lunch.

Bottom line is: build relationships, get to know people, offer them some value and your network will thrive.

*cautionary note: this post does not by any means suggest to say that you have to LOVE every single person in your network and that you need to invite them over all the time and be best friends but if you want your network to thrive then you have to want to at least know a few things about each of your contacts.

Being Honest

I in no way have any affiliation with America but I just came across this video, which is simply a clip from a TV show called “The Newsroom” where Jeff Daniels (Will McAvoy in the show) is honest about why America is NOT the greatest country in the world.

If this is not professional ass kicking then I’m not sure what is. I think more of us need to stand up (perhaps in real life thought) like this and speak what is on our minds. These are truths and if all of us were more honest about our own lives and our own situations like Jeff is, on the show, about the state of America right now then I think we would all be in a better place.

What  I do like is that Jeff SEEMS to be speaking about how he truly believes in what he said on the show: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/brad-wilmouth/2012/06/25/actor-jeff-daniels-sorkins-anti-america-speech-resonated-me-its-gold

Interested to hear feedback. Can we be this honest with ourselves?

Life never gets easier but maybe a little clearer

To me life can be a beautiful picture as we move forward, as we embrace the bends and turns and curves that life throws at us. Believe me there are days when I wish there were a straight path, a path that contains the least resistance, but then what fun would that be? A little bit of panic, a little bit of sweat, pain, tears, and persistence is what truly can make all those good days become the BEST days.

I have been so fortunate lately to have been moving closer and closer to the work that I know I love, to the work that makes my spine shiver when most things go right.

Recently I have been working with Company ABC (not to be confused with Company XYZ) to do some change management and I have thoroughly enjoyed every single minute of it. People are fascinating creatures and putting a group of people together and saying “produce” is even more fascinating. I am falling more and more in love with the human puzzle that we call offices and “work”. I mean does anyone else find it fascinating that every single one of us is supposed to be a “snowflake” (no two alike) and that we all coexist and cohabit to produce “things” and in most cases we do it pretty darn well with only the occasional hiccup along the way (in most cases).

What I love about this work is that Company ABC came to me on a whim and a notion that there was 1 singular issue; 1 singular person that might be causing a whole lot of challenges in their business. But in reality when we lifted the mat up there were all kinds of things that had been swept under there for years. There were deeper roots that needed some trimming. To me this was a big challenge with a bit of a discovery to take on but one that, luckily, Company ABC was willing to embark upon. I also have to give HUGE credit to the fact that what they (the managing partners) were willing to do, in bringing all of their employees into the process, and in trusting the process was a vastly beneficial and unfortunately far to uncommon factor in this processes success. Change management is by all accounts not easy and usually entails a bit more mess but in the end if all are heard and a few things are shifted often times calm and cleanliness begin to take shape.

So what have I learned:

  1. I love human nature and examining human nature even more than I ever thought I did.
  2. I REALLY love working with teams and discovering group dynamics.
  3. That Creativision needs to take a bit of a shift itself-for the better.
  4. There is nothing better in life for me than to see other people succeed beyond their own beliefs.
  5. I have profound respect for those that are willing to trust and to make changes and to get messy and to try new things.
  6. That I never want life to stop throwing me curveballs.

In the end I ask….

What are some of the lessons that you are learning about yourself on a daily basis? How much effort are you putting into learning more about yourself and making yourself happier?

Caine’s Arcade-A Story of Inspiration and Imagination

There doesn’t need to be anything said about this one. I just love the imagination and the inspiration.

I truly believe that we need more education that facilitates projects like this, we need more parents willing to give their kids this chance and encourage kids to use their imaginations. In a world of tech and speed this kid has found a way to bring fun back to the world with simplicity. I think his ingenuity is just AMAZING!

Hallelujah Steven Johnson: Where good ideas come from

Got up this morning only to see that someone had sent me this wonderful TED talk by Steven Johnson:

I thought this was because of my latest article on Copyright but in fact it was just a simple: “thought you might like this.”

I really do believe that the story of our genius is much much longer than we tend to think. This is also one of the reasons that I have questions and queries about copyright and keeping things to ourselves.

Read more from Steven Johnson: http://www.stevenberlinjohnson.com/