I tell my students who are concerned about the times in which they are beginning their adults lives and careers that greatness comes from great adversity.

Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, rose to greatness by emancipating the slaves, a divisive issue that eventually claimed his life.

FDR, a Democrat, was elected and reelected to four terms as president during two major wars and one ten-year depression.

When the current virus “pause” ends, life will not return to exactly the way it was because time has moved on – a year so far and counting.

But adversity helps us know and appreciate ourselves and presents a golden opportunity to be great.

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Relationship Fatigue

The big thing during these days of quarantining is “relationship fatigue”, a fancy term for getting on the nerves of people we love and care about.

Tough times will pass but one thing they are good for is practicing skills that will be useful when normal returns, for example …

  • Once a day greeting those we live with as if we haven’t seen them for several weeks.
  • Being present not just there by focusing in on what is being said and respond.
  • And if all else fails, practice the awesome power of listening because no one doesn’t like being heard and it makes being in close quarters almost bearable.

Relationship fatigue is when we’ve become tired of doing things that make others want to be in our presence.

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Isn’t it interesting that we can automatically show an animal more love than we can show ourselves?

A treat, a hug, warmth and love and it happens without thinking.

Meanwhile in the people world, we often can’t find the words to tell ourselves “nice try”, “good job”, “I’m awesome” but we have no problem being self-critical by default or worse, repeating the criticism we have heard from others.

There is a reason why our faces light up when we interact with our pets – we are showing unconditional love not “if you chased the ball better, we’d have more fun at the dog park”.

Accept yourself the way your pet accepts you without conditions.

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Effective Leadership

Think of it like this – you’re the conductor and the people who work with you are the musicians.

To make music together, a conductor alone is only as good as the talent around her.

The assembled talent without a leader is squandered brilliance.

Every meeting, then, is one in which you extract the best performance possible from those around you – that’s what real leaders do.

That’s why meetings are often a waste of time – talent listening to a leader do most of the thinking.

Why even great ideas are useless if they never get heard – kind of like a musical performance that exists on paper and never happens.

Effective leadership is teaching then directing not directing and trying to force an outcome.

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When we succeed, we want to continue so our tendency is to keep doing what made us successful.

That’s why Victoria’s Secret couldn’t keep up with how women changed, radio stayed the same by doing less to save money and Toys “R” Us went out of business because children changed their toys.

The thing is what usually got us there in the first place was change, disruption but success breeds an affinity toward playing it safe.

Cultivate a propensity for change by doing things differently, thinking differently and acquiring different skills.

Apple changes so they continue to succeed, but they really don’t take a lot of risks – new products (a watch, coming soon glasses), reinventing things (their iPhone is essentially a better camera with each iteration) and making digital life increasingly easy (as Steve Jobs said, “it just works’).

Challenge yourself long before someone else does – that’s the mental version of a workout.

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The Price You Pay for Worry

As I’ve mentioned before, my mother was a professional worrier – she had her reasons.

My father was deployed to war for four straight years without a leave long enough to return home and when he did, a few years later, he had a major heart attack at just 37 years old.  Although he survived, his health was impacted and my mother’s worry grew with every day.

In the end, he lived to his 80’s and my mom to 96!

Ok, I’m a worrier, too but I have the benefit of a gift my parents paid dearly for but one that I greatly appreciate.

Many reminders during the day of the high price to be paid for worry.

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Mastering Public Speaking

I used to teach public speaking when I was a Dale Carnegie Course instructor.

I learned quickly that those looking to overcome the fear of speaking to assembled groups – even small ones – believe they become someone they are not.




And yet some of the most effective communication in the world has come from people with quiet voices and a homespun manner.

It turns out becoming an effective public speaker is best accomplished by accepting yourself as you are and then have a strong desire to send a message.

I ask:  “what am I passionate about saying” and then I do it with my east coast accent, my broadcasting voice complete with hand gestures (I’m Italian, I speak with my hands).

Being what you’re not or what you think someone else feels you should be never works in public – and the truth is, it doesn’t work in private either.

Being you is enough.

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Songs You Can’t Get Out of Your Head

When a song repeats in your head over and over either because you heard it or for some unexplained reason just think of what happens when we run ourselves down.

It’s one thing to put a stop to others who say hurtful things, but it’s even worse when we allow negative thoughts to kick around in our brains like a song we can’t stop playing.

Imagine positive things to line our subconscious and put them on repeat.

We know the damage that can be done when the we take the hurtful words of others and keep repeating them, but turnabout is fair play here – change the message and hit repeat over and over.

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My Confidence Building Routine

Here it is.

  • “I have earned the right” to be here, speak before you, entertain, write, teach, contribute – the most powerful thought is I have qualified for what I am about to undertake.
  • If it’s something I have never done before, I repeat this mantra “I have done new things before, I can do them again”.
  • For an extra boost, I review accomplishments large and small, related or unrelated to what is before me.
  • I never fear failing – I do it all the time. When I fail, I will learn and get better.

The thing about confidence is it has to start with you, not someone else whispering in your ear.

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Accumulating Power

Becoming powerful is not about control, it’s about how you use the power you gain in an effective way.

Those people you’ve worked with that spend all their time seeking power and control over others are probably not very effective at using it – it’s the chase that drives them.

You accumulate power by building bridges, by doing favors, helping others, teaching and even by giving away power to win cooperation.

The person skilled in human relations is the most powerful person.

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