Personal Development

Bula! Life Is Good (Why Optimism Is Your Best Choice) - GROW GREAT

Bula! Life Is Good (Why Optimism Is Your Best Choice) #4059

Bula! Life Is Good (Why Optimism Is Your Best Choice) - GROW GREAT

Over 30 years ago I ran across the term – Bula. I don’t remember where. I do remember instant fondness for the term because it carried the connotation that “life is good.” How can you not like that?

I was so smitten with the term that I began to use it as the greeting on internal memos in the company I was operating. Bula!

A single explanation took care of it. After that, everybody instantly remembered the meaning of the word.

Fast forward and here we are about to enter May 2017. I’ve devoted my professional career to selling, marketing, building organizations, creating processes/workflows and leading people in the quest for us all to grow, individually and collectively. There’s been a crazy amount of change through the years as I’ve chased those pursuits. But one thing has remained a constant – people do make all the difference! Well, something else has remained –

the outlook with which we view ourselves and the world serve to largely determine our destiny

High performers are not only driven, but they’re optimistic. Hopeful. Always chasing a better outcome, an improved version of themselves and a place of higher accomplish. In short, the best performers know that growth and improvement are possible, even probable.

They all have another common trait: willingness. They’re willing to do the work. Willing to do what’s necessary to make it happen. Willing to be responsible and practical. Willing to be patient, realizing that growth takes time. Willing to acknowledge the power of compounding, in everything.

But there’s a contradiction because they’re also unwilling. Unwilling to pursue something they don’t believe in. Unwilling to follow every rule. Unwilling to sacrifice their strengths in order to pursue some weakness. Unwilling to let their lives be ruled by dread. Unwilling to let a single day go by without finding reasons to be optimistic.

For over 2 years I’ve been holding out optimism as I noodled with an idea of serving just a few small business owners. Optimistic that I could make a meaningful impact on the lives of perhaps a few dozen small business owners. Not by holding forth, or being the answer-man to all their problems, but knowing — and believing — in the collective power of small groups of peers (other small business owners) who together could wrestle down problems, more closely exam opportunities and enjoy a depth of relationship designed at learning, growth and improvement.

Magical things happen when you put yourself around optimistic people. The reason is simple: optimism is rare. Negativity is the order of the day. Slamming politicians, blaming the government, finger pointing, shouting — those are the habits most often displayed. They wear on us. In time, we join in. Sometimes not even realizing it’s happening. We moan and complain. We find excuses for our failures instead of celebrating them as efforts in an attempt to find out way, and figure it out. It’s wearisome, robbing us of life, much less a good life.

The losers around us don’t help. They quickly provide ample reasons why our optimism is unfounded. Even foolish.

They reason with us about the latest legislation that will certainly be bad for our business. Or the looming disruptive technologies sure to hurt our company. They yearn for how things once were and cheer us on to join their chorus. Sometimes we do. Sometimes we romanticize the past glory we may have once enjoyed. And get lost in our daydreaming of wondering what happened.

Rubbish. It’s all rubbish.

Life is good. Worth celebrating, and even more worth being thankful for.

Add to this list. Go ahead. I know you’ll be able to do it. And quickly, I’ll bet.

Here are just a few things I’m thankful for:

  • Living in the U.S. where we’re free to pursue our dreams with enormous opportunities
  • Living in this era where we have the Internet and all that it affords
  • Health (whatever measure of it you’ve got, but thankful)
  • Family (I’ve got a wife of almost 40 years, 2 grown kids, 2 kids-in-law, 5 grandkids – don’t tell me life ain’t good)
  • Friends (I more than ever value the really close friends who deeply influence my life)
  • Experiences – the work ones and the personal ones (life has afforded me many lessons, some that were painful but priceless)

You get the drift. We’d be here all day and all night if I merely listed them all. The same goes for you. I don’t care how bad you think things are, or how good. We’re all ridiculously blessed. 

Life isn’t fair or equal. It just IS. Build your bridge and get over it.

That doesn’t mean we accept our current state as being our “fate.” Hogwash. No such thing. Fate is what we make it. Henry Ford was right in that notion about whether we think we can, or we think we can’t – either way, we’re right. We don’t like to think that’s so when we’re down and out. We want to think it’s somebody else’s fault. Surely it’s not on us! Yes, it is.

Own It

If one little phrase has permeated my life over the last decade, it’s this one: own it! Not that I’ve always done it, but that I know I need to always do more of it. Optimism helps.

Fact is, optimism helps EVERYTHING. That’s that why I want to focus your attention on it today. And I’m doing it with a purpose…primarily to show you that it may be time to get out of your own head and into a room where you can share experiences, stories, concerns, worries, opportunities and celebrations with others. People who committed to their own quest for optimism. People determined to not stop growing, learning or caring. People who understand they need people.

When I was a boy Barbra Streisand hit the world by storm. In 1964 she performed a monster hit song, People.

It was true in 1964. It’s true in 2017. And if the world stands, it’ll be true 100 years or 1000 years from now. Our lives are made better by people.

We all know this is true yet we somehow remain isolated with our own thoughts and demons. We go it alone when we could so much more easily go it with others. When we do, our optimism soars and it changes everything. Because we surround ourselves with others who believe we feed our own optimism, which in turn feeds the optimism of those we’re hanging with…and together we all find new heights for ourselves.

Have you ever been fascinated by the stories of actors, singers or comedians who talk about their early years? Those years of toil, struggle and hardship. Do you think it’s coincidental that some of the biggest names you’ve heard of in those arenas are people who “came up together” with other big names? No. There’s a method to that madness. For starters, they all had some degree of talent for the game, whichever game it may have been – acting, musicianship, comedy. Secondly, they all were committed to make it. They worked hard, put in long hours, did whatever they could to survive while they were making it. Thirdly, they all endured the grind because they loved what they were doing. Success takes however long it takes. Some took longer than others. That’s life. Fourthly, they maintained the belief – and determination – that they’d make it. Optimistic that eventually, it would be reality.

Barbra Streisand left home before her 18th birthday. She lived like a gypsy and her mother would lament how she was choosing to live. Her mom’s disbelief fueled Barbra’s belief. As the universe grew pessimistic, she grew more optimistic displaying an “I’ll show you” attitude. Her enormous talent wasn’t going to be enough – it never is. It would require people in her life propping her up, encouraging her, helping her. That combination made her a star. And even then it took time. But had she gone it all alone, it may have never happened.

This isn’t restricted to creative endeavors like acting, music or comedy. It’s universal. You’ve seen it in your life and in the lives of people you know.

One person makes an impact. One person willing to be candid with us because they’re helping us – not because they’re judging us. One person willing to encourage us because they believe in us, not in what we’re doing! And if we’re very lucky, more than one person comes along in our life willing to do for us what we can’t do for ourselves.

It’s that belief that has driven me for two years to reach this point – a point where I’m pushing all the chips into the middle of the table to bet my professional future on a belief that I can help put people in a virtual room together so they can find new levels of achievement they’ve not yet experienced. In business. In life. Financial. Emotional. Across all spectrums of our lives because we’re not singularly-focused people. We’re complex and our lives often times seem even more so.

It’s about YOU. Your life. At work. At home. When you goof around, or when you’re at your soberest.

It’s about YOUR BUSINESS. The daily challenges. The special challenges. The constraints and the opportunities.

It’s about belief. Confidence.


It’s fueled by one foundational idea – that no matter how things are right now, they can be improved. That with the help of others we can reach summits we may have doubted even existed.

Fun. Let’s not overlook a major benefit of optimism. It’s just more fun than being negative. It’s more fun to consider how great things will turn out, than to fret about how awful it may be if they don’t.

I’m currently looking for 14 small business owners who share my beliefs. Fourteen people who know they can grow, learn and achieve more than they’ve ever achieved if only they could be surrounded by 7 other people who were like-minded and willing to put in the work that optimistic people know is required. Fourteen people who aren’t satisfied with being surrounded by people more interested in finding excuses than opportunities to learn and improve. Fourteen courageous people willing to step forward with a commitment to grow their business and to grow their own leadership so they can be a more positive influence in the lives of others.

It’s why I’m basically shutting the doors on all other professional activities – all the coaching and consulting – to go all in on this one big idea I call the Bula Network Owners’ Alliance. At long last the term “network” has found it’s true meaning. What started out as a “network” of professional services, and morphed a bit into a podcast has come around to what it was always intended to be – a network of people helping each other. It’s why you may have noticed the tagline appear some months ago…

leveraging connection & collaboration for improved performance


Be optimistic.

What have you got to lose? Nothing but your negativity and those things holding you back from soaring as high as you can.

Business Owners Sometimes Find Themselves In The Dark

The darkness overtakes all of us. Some of us remain in the dark for a long time. Others are able to climb out of it more quickly.

Get up in the middle of the night when your house is pitch black. One small light (of any color) can make all the difference in the world in helping you navigate the room. It provides a reference point and just enough illumination to help you find your way.

Without that small little light – a light no larger than a pen light – you blindly feel your way without quick success. It takes longer and requires you to go slower.

About 8 years ago my career came to an abrupt fork in the road that I didn’t see coming. It happens. Welcome to the wilderness. The darkness.

In a flash my identity was gone. Or so I thought. I read a book by Marci Alboher where she talked about the slashes behind your name – all the different roles you have in life. For decades my identity had been something that I now wasn’t. I started thinking of the most important roles of my life, the ones closest to my name.

Randy Cantrell, Christian/Husband/Father/Grandfather

For 3 years I was completely lost in the darkness, struggling to regain my confidence. And my identity.

These more important roles – the ones having nothing to do with work or business – were far more important than the one identity I lost. But it was more than identity that I lost. It was self-confidence. It was belief in myself.

People closest to me didn’t help. They didn’t know how. And over time I could see them lack confidence in me. I took it hard until I realized what it really was. They weren’t lacking confidence in me. They knew I could find the light switch in the dark. But they wondered if I ever would. It wasn’t them. It was ME.

Like most people who love us and are closest to us, they just don’t often know how to help us. We just need a very small light to give us a reference point, and just enough illumination to find the light switch. We need people able to do that for us. Usually it’s somebody who isn’t too close to us emotionally because those people aren’t often able to provide the feedback and accountability we need.

Don’t stay in the dark. You can find your way out. The switch is there. You just have to know where you are relative to the switch. Find people who can provide the pen-light you need. Incorporate them into your life. They’ll need you at some point to do the same for them. It’ll make all the difference in the world by helping you navigate out of the darkness much, much faster!

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If you have a chance, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking Review on iTunes. It’ll help the show rank better in iTunes.

Thank you!


Serving Others (And Yourself) By Sharing Your Story

Some people are more open than others. We’re not all driven by our natural wiring to share. I am, but even guys like me have a reservation sometimes. It’s appropriate.

Today’s video is less than 7 minutes long, but it can help you better understand how valuable it can be for you to open up and share your story. Yes, you want to have a safe place to do it, but as a business owner (or leader) you owe it to yourself (and others) to find a place. Few things will help elevate your mental wellness and fitness as much. And it’s absolutely true that if you’ll put yourself in the company with others who can help you achieve higher performance…you’ll find yourself serving them to perform better, too. Everybody wins.

Subscribe to the podcast

bula network podcast on itunesTo subscribe, please use the links below:

If you have a chance, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking Review on iTunes. It’ll help the show rank better in iTunes.

Thank you!

The Heart Is The Engine Behind Small Business Owner Success

When a business owner tells me, “Sometimes, I speak from my heart,” then my radar sounds a warning. Well, not a warning as much as an alert. It gets my attention.

live long and prosper
“Live long and prosper.”

You can’t separate your head from your heart so stop all this foolishness of something either being head or heart. It’s not an either/or proposition. It’s always an AND deal. What are you, a Vulcan? Nope. You’re human.

Sheryl Sandberg has a new book coming out today called Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy. She’s #2 at Facebook. Worth billions. But her world got rocked and her heart got broken a couple of years ago when her husband died suddenly leaving her with a 2-year-old daughter. To raise alone.

In spite of her resources she needed to find her way back to life without her beloved husband. She not only needed to speak from her heart, but she needed to hear from her heart. Facebook isn’t such a small business, but my work focuses on small business (it’s what I love). Proof I suppose that the heart isn’t just the engine behind small business owner success, but ALL business owner success.

Today’s video is just 10 minutes long and I hope it inspires you to find your way through whatever challenges and opportunities you’ve got. Live long and proper!

Subscribe to the podcast

bula network podcast on itunesTo subscribe, please use the links below:

If you have a chance, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking Review on iTunes. It’ll help the show rank better in iTunes.

Thank you!

Pain- It Doesn't Care If It's Work Or Personal #4026 - GROW GREAT

Pain: It Doesn’t Care If It’s Work Or Personal #4026

Pain- It Doesn't Care If It's Work Or Personal #4026 - GROW GREAT

When I read Dustin McKissen’s article on Inc. I was already filled with a fistful of stories of top executives and business owners. Dustin’s article, entitled “3 Things I Did to Come Back from Career Failure” resonated with me because I knew how true it was. Not because I know Dustin personally, although he’s totally the kind of person I’d love to get to know. No, it was because there’s just so much fraud among business people, especially leaders. Even this morning I noticed a friend, Marcus “The Sales Lion” Sheridan posted a short video about comparison-itis and trying to find balance.

Conversely, it seems easier to find content online that extols the virtues of hustle, outworking others and making choices to fuel your career or business. Success evangelists like Gary Vaynerchuk, Grant Cardone and others (whose work I respect) preach loudly sermons of 16-18 hour workdays, hitting the ground at 5am, putting in the work, giving up things so you can devote more time to the hustle of your business. Gary at least is very clear that it’s how he’s choosing to live. Sure, his sermons insinuate that it’s the way to go, but he says you should make your own choices. I know it’s hard for some of his disciples to make their own choices though because they so desperately believe and follow his advice. I don’t blame him for that. It’s just these two fundamental differences in how people approach life. Nobody doubts where Gary is placing his bet. All his chips are in the middle of the table toward buying the New York Jets one day by accumulating as much wealth as possible because that’s what it’s going to take to buy the Jets. Entry into the NFL ain’t cheap. Just this week Gary announced the start of VaynerSports, a new sports agency collaboration.

I’m not here telling you what to do. Nor am I going to judge whichever side of this debate you embrace. Roll the way you want to roll. There are prices to be paid for either choice. The work/life balance crowd perhaps could find greater financial success and business accomplishment if they spent additional hours at work. The spend-all-my-time-working crowd perhaps would find greater family/relationship success if they spent less time at work. Trade off’s abound.

CEO’s and business owners aren’t robots. Yet.

They’re people with a past. And with hopes of a better future. Sounds a lot like everybody else, right? That’s because they’re not different. Not really.

They had parents who may have failed miserably, or who may have succeeded wildly. They did well in school. Or they failed. They have advanced degrees. Or no degrees. They’re extroverted. Or terribly introverted. They drive fancy foreign exotic cars. Or they don’t even own a car. They wear $3000 custom made suits. Or they wear jeans and t-shirts. They’re articulate, able to easily express their thoughts and feelings. Or they stumble, battling to express one easily understood idea. Some are engineers. Others are artists. Some show off the money they make. Others appear to be penniless.

Welcome to the world of absolutes. This much is absolutely true – 100% of the time. There are no absolutes. For every CEO or business owner who did it one way, there are dozens of others who didn’t do it that way at all. Time and chance happens to all of us. For good. Or bad.

There’s another absolute — everybody hurts, sometimes. Cue the REM hit song. Pain is universal. Money won’t cure it. Business success won’t remedy it. Not in terms of getting rid of pain completely or preventing it. Life is a grind no matter if you’re failing or succeeding. And sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. Some months ago I remarked to a friend that success can sometimes feel like failing. I’m sure the reverse is also true sometimes.

Many things aren’t universal – like how you choose to approach business. But pain is very universal. We do all hurt. Sometimes.

During a regularly scheduled business meeting with the leaders of the organization, the CEO notices one of the VP’s isn’t himself. It’s Thursday afternoon. Just after lunch. The group is normally very business-like, but fun loving. That’s how the owner (who is also the CEO) operates. He takes business seriously. Himself, less so. It’s a culture he fosters, especially among his inner circle – these 3 people seated at the table with him.

Rick, the VP of Technology, joined the team 3 years ago because it more ideally suited his personality. He often jokes with people that he’s a “geek with a personality.” Rick is the kind of perceptive technology guy most CEO’s would love to have. He’s not so in love with the technology as he is the positive impact it can have on the company. The CEO hired him largely because during the interview process Rick impressed him with a practical approach to incorporating and integrating technology…coupled with his ability to relate to and understand the perspective of non-technical people. Rick has been a perfect fit for the role here.

All week the CEO has noticed Rick is quieter than normal. Much more so. He wrote it off as a pre-occupation with a new project management software integration that’s scheduled to go live late next week. The project is going well, but the CEO knows Rick is fanatical about details and obsesses about having all his ducks in a row. It’s just another reason why the organization loves having Rick.

The meeting opens up with the CEO going around the room asking everybody to say one thing they’re thankful for. Lots of leaders begin meetings with some sort of “check in.” This leader hopes to focus his small group of leaders on something he values – gratitude. He begins with his own story. “I’m thankful for the contract we got yesterday. I know you’ve all worked hard to land that deal and it’s going to really open up some opportunities we’ve been looking for.” He turns toward the VP of Sales who talks about being thankful for his wife of 8 years. Friday night (tomorrow night), they’ll be celebrating by attending a concert of one of her favorite bands, Coldplay. The group teases him kindly about going to a Coldplay concert. Up next? Rick.

Rick’s expression quickly grows serious after the chuckles subside. He looks as though he’s about to cry. The room grows tense and anxious. Rick mutters, “I’m sorry.”

The CEO takes the reins. These guys have been together as a group for at least 3 years. Rick is the newest member. The others have been together almost twice that long. The door to this meeting is closed. This is a private setting of four men who’ve been leading this company in strong double-digit growth since things started. Fifty percent annual growth is more common than not. These are exciting times, driven by some pretty exciting people. The CEO isn’t about to let this tension get the best of them.

“Rick, you’re among friends. We’re here for you,” says the CEO.

Rick is struggling to gain his composure. Speech isn’t easy. Not right now. “Take your time,” encourages the CEO.

“I’m sorry, guys,” replies Rick.

The CEO, sensing something major is happening with Rick, decides to disrupt the meeting’s set agenda. “Gentlemen, we’re in this together. Today’s meeting agenda is now changed. We’re going to conduct this meeting for ourselves. There’s nothing on our agenda that can’t be pushed off for another day. But this – this right here – this pain deserves our best efforts. Let me tell you something else I’m thankful for — each of you. Rick, tell us whatever you feel comfortable telling us. We’re here to help.”

Rick swallows, tears are now coming more freely. “My wife left me,” confesses Rick. The VP of Sales slumps his shoulders almost immediately, as if to be guilty for celebrating his 8th wedding anniversary. Rick has been married longer – 14 years, or close to it. That’s all Rick can say before almost falling to pieces.

The CEO is a toucher. I can relate because so am I. He touches people on the shoulder at appropriate times. He’ll even hug somebody if the occasion calls for it. Sensing this is one of those times, he gets up, walks over to Rick, leans down and puts his arm around him. In a scene you just won’t see in normal business scenarios, the CEO tells Rick that he loves him.

Wait a minute, what?

“Rick, I love you man. We all love you,” says the CEO.

It takes a few minutes, but Rick begins to grow comfortable and he tells them of his wife’s decision. The details don’t matter as much as their net impact. It had happened Sunday night. Here we are on a Thursday, early afternoon. Rick has lived with this for almost 4 days, suffering in silence. And now, it’s all coming out. Rick is feeling horrible, he says, for bringing this problem to work.

That sparks the discussion of pain having no respect for where you are, or what your role is. Or how much money you make. Or what corporate title you wear, if you wear one at all. Or the make/model of car you drive. Or the square footage of your house. No, pain doesn’t care about any of those things. Pain just is.

Nobody on this management team would dare argue that personal pain impacts the workplace. Or that workplace pain often travels home. Some are pompous enough – and dishonest enough – to claim perfect skills in compartmentalizing pain. Sorry, I don’t buy it.

Pain hurts and it doesn’t care where you are what else you’ve got going on. Have you ever had a headache? I get them every now and again. When your head hurts it’s impossible to set it aside. It permeates everything you do. Or everything you attempt to do. Reading isn’t going to happen. Concentration is impossible, unless you include concentrating on how badly your head hurts. You don’t feel like doing much of anything…and unless you’ve got good meds to help you get over it, laying down to sleep it off is also impossible. It’s the biggest elephant in the room no matter what you’ve got planned. No matter what deadlines are staring you down. Your headache doesn’t care about any of that.

CEO’s and business owners can experience levels of pain unique to their role. They have the authority to make decisions that have the biggest impact on their companies. Risks are higher. Consequences potentially more powerful. Rewards are also higher. Well, their potential is. The higher up the ladder you go, the more powerful the impact of the decisions made at that level. Up goes the pain potential, too.

What do you do with your pain?

Rick was trying hard to deal with it alone. He held it together pretty well – albeit quietly – until the staff meeting, where a co-worker unsuspectedly mentioned his own wedding anniversary. That’s all she wrote. Rick lost it. All the guys understood why, too. Maybe it needed to happen as it did. Maybe it couldn’t have happened any other way. A person’s personality and company culture have quite a role to play.

Thinking about the CEO though and how often I’ve encountered a top level leader who was enduring something painful – whether personal or work related – I was made to realize how valuable it is to have an atmosphere and culture where he or she can shell things down. And feel safe. Secure. Knowing that the tears won’t diminish how others see them. Knowing the only judgments being made are, “How can we help?”

How can Rick quantify the price or the benefit of his team members as they rally to support him during what he admits is the most painful experience of his entire life? He can’t. It’s priceless. It’s value no amount of money can buy. These are relationship with people, in a culture that is extraordinary. Rick knows it.

Almost daily I tell a CEO or business owner that my role is to do for them what nobody else can – to help deal with, and overcome or endure their pain. Yes, it’s about building stronger, more profitable businesses and organizations. However, sometimes our pain has nothing to do with business yet it has the potential to negatively impact our business. Where will YOU go to have those conversations and to get some perspectives to help you manage them better? Who will you turn to, not to complain and moan, but to help you take meaningful actions to fix it and get past it? Who can you lean on and not make it a burden they’ve no business bearing? Where can you go where you’re completely safe and secure knowing that there’ll be no repercussion for you or others by letting your hair down?

You deserve to find a place where you can better manage your own pain. We both know you’ve got plenty of it. It goes with the turf, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Truth is, if you keep doing that it’ll take a heavy toll on your life professionally and personally. The cost is too high. And the remedy is too available.

In a world focused on vitamins, I’m working very hard to be an aspirin.

Be well.


Subscribe to the podcast

bula network podcast on itunesTo subscribe, please use the links below:

If you have a chance, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking Review on iTunes. It’ll help the show rank better in iTunes.

Thank you!

My BIG Mistake: I Thought It Mattered, But It Didn't - GROW GREAT Podcast Episode 4014

4014 My BIG Mistake (I Thought It Mattered, But It Didn’t)

My BIG Mistake (I Thought It Mattered, But It Didn't) - GROW GREAT Podcast Episode 4014

I don’t have enough time, bandwidth or storage to tell you about all the mistakes I’ve made so I’ll just focus today on a BIG mistake I’ve made. I’m sharing this one because I think it’s probably one you’ve made, too. Maybe you’re still making it. Today’s show has just one objective – to help you learn and think by showing you that you’re not alone, even though many days you feel alone.

First, let me give you some back story. I started selling hi-fi gear when I was just a kid in high school. I loved music and the gear that would play my records. Yep, I’m old. You may not remember vinyl records. Or the family sitting down to supper every evening. Or the TV show Bonanza or The Andy Griffith Show. Or when ZZ Top’s first record came out. Well, I’m old enough to remember all of that.

Little did I know my first job would morph into launching me into a lifelong career in the consumer electronics business. Such is life. Like many of you, I stumbled into a career where I was blessed to be given the helm of a multi-million dollar operation by the time I was in my mid-20’s. I’ve spent most of my adult life leading and building organizations. My education mostly happened in the real world of operating a business, even though I did attend journalism school at LSU. I’m an operator. Proudly.

Part of being an operator was founded in selling because my very first job was in sales. I cared about people. I enjoyed talking with people. Early on, I was mostly interested in finding out what their favorite music was and how I could hook them up with a killer stereo to play their favorite records. That’s how it started and honestly, not much has changed. I still enjoy finding out what people get stoked about — and what problems they’ve got that I may be able to help with.

For the past 7 years I’ve been mostly coaching and consulting with business owners or top executives. I’ve reinvented myself more times than I can count, but that partly goes with the turf of growing older. The hippies of the 60’s were just slightly before my time, but I remember being a grade school kid during that time. “Finding yourself” was a mantra of that era. I’d like to tell you that I found myself very early on, and in a sense I suppose I did. But mostly, it’s been a lifelong journey of finding myself only to discover I’m not who or what I thought I was, or that I want to head in a different direction.

During my formative years of running businesses we didn’t use (and had never heard) the word PIVOT. We grew up learning to fix our problems by learning from our mistakes. When somebody gave it a cool name, PIVOTING, I was rather jealous that we didn’t have that term during the early years of my career. I have to tell you though — the term might let some people off the hook in facing their failure. For example, people often use failure as a badge of honor. It’s as though they’ve mistaken failure being the point of trying. I’m not in favor of putting so much pressure on success that we refuse to try, but nor am I a fan of not putting enough pressure on it to make our effort count.

That brings me to something that we all face and something that in recent months has too often put me in a funk.


You’ve heard the adage that fear stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. That resonates with all of us. Our fear is real.

Google “fear” and you’ll find over 523 million results in less than half a second. Half a billion search results for one of the most fatal four letter words in the English language.

Let me use a word that’s better, at least in describing what I often feel. That’s right, I said OFTEN.


Fear is defined like this.

an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat

Here’s the definition of anxiety.

a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome

In case you were wondering, Google the term “anxiety” and you only get 167 million search results. Not nearly as many as fear.

Do those definitions help you understand the difference between fear and anxiety. Probably not very well. Thanks to the folks over at, an organization dedicated to the relief of childhood anxiety, and a video they produced…we can get a better grip on the difference between the two. It’ll only take 90 seconds for you to learn it.

Fear is from immediate danger. Anxiety is from our thoughts. BIG difference, right?

That’s also my BIG mistake — letting my anxiety completely, and utterly trip me up.

I want you to learn from my BIG mistake, even if you’re one of those special (VERY special) fearless people. Boy, do I envy you.

As a lifelong operator I’m used to problem solving. Years in the luxury retailing business – one of the fastest moving industries on the planet where profits are razor thin and competition is around every corner – there’s little time to strategize and formulate a plan that takes weeks or months to execute. There’s just no time. You have to have a gunfighter’s mentality and a gunfighter’s skill. Pull your weapon faster than the other guy, fire it faster than him and hit the target. If you miss, forget a pivot. Sometimes your miss can be deadly and set you back months, if not years. That margin for error adds to the pressure of making sure your fast action is as on point as it can be. And I loved it.

Even my wife called me a stress junkie – for that kind of stress. The stress of competing and being fast drove me for over 4 decades. There was only one word for it, exhilarating. It was like oxygen for me.

Back in 2009 I stepped away from the C-suite to serve other CEOs and top executives. At first, with consulting. Roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty, do the work kind of stuff. I enjoyed the work, but was more often than not frustrated by a business owner or CEO who wanted one or more of the trifectas of business building: get new customers, serve existing customers better and no go crazy in the process. But I had a problem. I was – and always have been – fanatical about customer experience. Making customers happy wasn’t negotiable for me. Ever. I wanted customers to be dazzled. Sometimes I found myself doing work for a CEO or business owner who wasn’t so passionate about it. Few things in my career frustrated me like getting in my car and driving home from a client engagement knowing they had very unhappy customers and they just didn’t much care.

So I walked away from it. Consulting was something I was good at, but I found it too difficult walk away with no ability to affect the outcome. The execution part was missing. That was almost 3 years ago.

Say hello to what most call coaching — I just started by calling it serving because that’s what it is.

Now I was onto something. I wasn’t bringing the answers. Mostly I was bringing the questions, something I was always good at. Since I was in my 20’s organizations I’ve led have heard me preach, “The quality of our questions determines the quality of our business.” I preached it because it was true. It still is.

The better our questions, the better opportunities we have to build a great business. And deliver great experiences to our customers.

So it seemed fitting to take that experience in running businesses and in asking great questions to serve other CEOs, business owners and top executives. I’d connect with one leader who would need and want my help. That would lead to another. I wasn’t a marketing genius by a long shot, but I was focused on the work – the service to help people grow and to help them grow their business. Unlike some people in this field, I wasn’t driven to become a fixture. Repeatedly I told clients that their success was my success. I had a vested interest in helping them achieve more. Sometimes that meant fixing a problem. Sometimes it meant seizing an opportunity. Sometimes it was purely work related. Sometimes it wasn’t – it was very personal. It didn’t matter. I was a resource with a single aim of helping this leader navigate through whatever water they were traveling through at the time. There were times it was merely months. Other times it was years. The connections I forged were real and deep because it’s the only way I know to roll. I knew “coaches” who were perfectly comfortable with the one and done approach, but I wasn’t and I’ve never done it.

I’ve tried a few things – different approaches – to elevate my own performance. It’s rarely comfortable, but I’ve learned that dread and long-lasting fear is no way to roll. So some years ago when I began to morph my practice into a combination of coaching and consulting I wasn’t sure how thing might work out. I had a vision and a goal. The trick was to make it come true.

It started as fear, but that very quickly gave way to anxiety as I realized nothing bad was going to happen to me. There was no threat.

What’s the worst thing that can happen? 

I’m a guy who has always asked and answered that question. Just ask my kids. I taught them to ask it, and answer it. I learned as a kid that lots of people ask it, but I never found many people courageous enough to answer it. I was always willing to answer it. So that’s what I did. I began to answer the question. And the answers were laughable. If I were to approach a CEO about the value – which I believe is extraordinarily high – of being coached and possibly joining a small, intimate group, what’s the worst thing that can happen? They could hang up on me. They could kick me out of their office. They could dog cuss me. Okay, truthfully, that first one is likely the WORST and most real one. Oh, man…what kind of a wuss am I? Somebody hangs up on you and it breaks you, I thought.

I thought. 

There it was. The problem behind it all. My thoughts.

I was letting my thoughts race out of control. I was looking into some fictitious future where terrible things would befall me simply because I was attempting to help people see and better understand an opportunity that I was never given when I was running companies. What kind of a demon, villain must I be?

I wasn’t trying to sell anybody anything. Fact is, what I offer isn’t for everybody even though every top leader can benefit from it. Those who don’t see it aren’t worth my time to try to convince them (and I don’t).

I wasn’t trying to convince people of anything. People either want the value, or they don’t.

I wasn’t trying to persuade people to like me. People either resonate with me, or they don’t.

Think about your own anxiety because I want you to learn from my mistake. I sat down the other day and hit record on my iTalk app (it’s by Griffin and it’s a terrific audio recording app on my iPhone). It’s $1.99 and well worth it.

Here’s what I did – and I want this to help you.

I asked myself questions. I decided to do for myself what I do for clients all the time. Sit down with myself and ask questions designed to help me gain clarity and resolve. Questioned aimed at getting to the crux of the matter. If you’ve never experienced that, but you’d like to – I’m going to share with you a kinda, sorta secret page where I sometimes offer people a no cost, no obligation enrollment session. It’s a powerful taste of what it’s like to have somebody help without any agenda other than to help move you forward — click here.

I’m a smart guy. Why it had never dawned on me to ask myself these questions, or interview myself before — I don’t know. It just happened. I got the urge and notion to do it and hit record. The recording went for about 1 hour and 45 minutes. It was interrupted by some phone calls, but I picked back up after each interruption. I’ve listened to that recording at least three times now. It’s fascinating to hear how even the tone in my voice changes as I’m asking the questions to the person who is answering them. It’s all me. Just me.

I did it because over the past few months I’ve learned the power of stepping outside ourselves to examine our thoughts from a more objective place. All those little voices in your head will drive you nuts if you let them. Most of us never really deal with them. The common refrain is, “Be more confident.” Simple advice. Over simplified advice that doesn’t help the person struggling with confidence. Ditto for our head noise. “Don’t listen,” is bad advice. It doesn’t work. The more you try to quieten the voices the louder they begin to shout. I knew that didn’t work so I went looking for better answers.

I found them. First in some YouTube videos by Gary Van Warmerdam. I’d never heard of this guy. But I watched this video.

That led to me Gary’s book, MindWorks: A Practical Guide for Changing Thoughts Beliefs, and Emotional Reactions. That was important because had I not gone through the exercise of identifying these characters in my head, these voice telling me various things – then my interview with myself wouldn’t have happened as it did.

By the time I hit record to interview myself I had already identified 10 different characters who live inside my head. And I had learned what you may not yet know – that I’m brilliant (and so are you) in that I can hold multiple viewpoints and multiple opinions which often contradict each other, at the same time. For example, I’m so talented I can believe Conrad the Confident (he’s one of my voices) who tells me I’m experienced, capable, empathetic and good at what I do so there’s every reason to know I’ll succeed…and at the same time I can believe Phillip the Prophet who tells me “this will never work; you’re an idiot for even trying.”

How can Conrad and Phillip both be correct? They can’t. But that doesn’t stop me from believing both of them, at the same time. See, I told you I was brilliant?

Well, so are you. You have that same ability. It happens to you all the time just like it does me. You believe contradictory things about yourself all the time. Not because they’re true, but because you’re buying what they’re selling.

Now I’m a Christian. If you’re offended by that, then get over it. I make no apologies for it. And I’m an elder at a small congregation in Ft. Worth, an accomplishment I’m proud of (for myself and my family). It’s not a title. It’s a work. A service.

God is important. God is first. Because that’s the spot He demands.

As I’m interviewing myself I ask myself an important question, “Do you trust God?”

I answer that I do. Then I ask myself, “Then how do you resolve all this anxiety when Luke 12 and other Bible verses command Christians to not be anxious, but to trust in God?”

Right there I was thrown to the floor and put in a choke hold I couldn’t escape. It was a gotcha moment. I had to confess that I wasn’t trusting God as I should.

I saw my big mistake. Letting anxiety rule my life and cripple my efforts in being the Christian I should be, and in helping CEOs learn about an opportunity so valuable that it could change their lives for the better.

That’s it. No hard sell. No soft sell. Just an information exchange. Just two people sitting down face to face to have a conversation to examine whether they mutually want to proceed. Or not. And either way, it’s okay. Either way, God isn’t going to be pleased or displeased. What displeases God is my being anxious and not trusting Him. Shame on me.

After I stopped the recording I went to a quiet, dark spot, knelt down and prayed.

For weeks and months I’ve been riddled with some of the highest anxiety of my life. Putting pressure on myself and letting some others put pressure on me to make so many phone calls, contact so many people, do this, don’t do that, say this, don’t say that — and I’ve come to conclude I’ve made a terrible mistake. One of the BIGGEST mistakes of my life in recent years.

I’ve let myself fall prey to my own anxieties. I’ve forgotten who I was and what I was. I’ve been listening to too many of the wrong voices and ignoring the right ones.

Is that YOU?

Have you got things all worked out in your head…and it doesn’t look very good?

How many characters are talking to you right now, telling you everything from “you can’t” to “yes you can?” I’ve identified 10 of my own and I’m betting there are more if I just look more closely.

How many obstacles are standing in your way to achieve what you most want for your career and your company?

Don’t be ashamed thinking CEOs and top leaders don’t experience these things. I’m 58. I’ve run many companies. I’ve led lots of people over the course of my life. I’ve been capable and successful. But here I am at this ripe old age battling things you’d have thought I might have long ago conquered.

Welcome to the human race.

I’m not sharing this for any reason other than to make you realize you’re not alone. We’re all in this together. Some of us are open and honest. Some of us are more willing than others to put ourselves out there. I’m hoping that through hearing of my struggles and my big mistake you’ll find some courage to help yourself and some willingness to be helped.

I thought many things mattered. Details. Strategies. Tactics. Fears. Anxieties. But I was wrong. They don’t matter.

At the end of my interview with myself I asked myself this question about my anxieties – hearing how wrong-headed and illogical they mostly are:

Can you open both hands and let them go?

I’ll end today’s show by asking you the same question. There you sit in your nice corner office. You’re the founder. The CEO. The top dog. Everybody is looking to you for the answers. Surrounded by smart people who are employees, direct reports, service providers, financial partners and all the rest of the cast who surround you. They’re all terrific and they serve you well. But they’re all beholden to you. Each of them want something from you — need something from you. A paycheck. Their career. A contract. An ongoing client relationship. Something. But deep inside your heart and in your head is the anxiety.

Your thoughts.

You believe certain things based on those thoughts. Those beliefs often limit you. But who can you talk to? Who can ask you the questions that desperately need to be answered? Who can help you open both your hands and let it go?

I answered out loud on my recording my answer to the question, “Can you open both hands and let them (my anxieties) go?” — “Yes, I can.”

That’s what I’m trying to do. And yes, trying is a good thing because I’m doing it, sometimes more successfully than at other times, but I’m going to succeed. I’m doing the work.

By the way, I’ve got an answer to that question of who can help you do the same thing.

All the best.


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