Leap of Faith

Today I decided that I’m leaving Michigan State University for the first time in 16 years. I’ve spent the past 16 years walking around this campus in some capacity and today the decision was made that it was time for me to try something else. I’ve accepted the Associate Director position at Skypoint Ventures.

I’m excited and terrified all rolled into one.

Michigan State University has played an integral role in my development personally and professionally. I’ve often told people that all great opportunities that I’ve had in my life have come from a Spartan in some form or another. But I’ve decided to leave that comfortable feeling of East Lansing and pursue an unknown path.

Let me be clear in saying that this decision was not made based on something MSU didn’t do. This decision came about from all the things that MSU DID do for.

Never have I been around an environment that has challenged me to innovate and grow. Encouraged me to ask questions and look for a better way or taken me out of my comfortable zone by pushing my toes to the edge.

I’m grateful for the people I’ve worked with at MSU; they’ve all taught me so much along the way. This is an exciting time for me and my family and a great start to a new chapter of life

An Inch or a Yard – Doesn’t Matter Just Move the Ball Forward

That’s it; I’ve reached the finish line.

Today marks day and post number 30 for my 30 blog post in 30 days challenge I levied against myself last month and the process taught me so much but if I had to choose the most important thing I learned over the last month, it was an increase of self-awareness.

I began to dig deeper into conversation or things I’ve read and reflect on how certain topics have been a part of my life. I started to see that there are learning experiences baked into our everyday lives and it’s our job to look for and apply them to our day to day existence.

Writing everyday also helped me refocus my discipline; I knew I had to write something every day for myself. That discipline created a freedom for me for how I’m using my time and allowed me to trim away nonessential behavior more easily.

Overall, it’s been awesome and I suggest that everyone try something like this. Try to challenge yourself to do something every day for a month. Do it for yourself and no one else. Find the motivation within and stop relying on external factors to be your driving force. At the end of the day you’re in charge of moving yourself forward. It doesn’t matter if you move the ball forward an inch or a yard, it only matters that it’s moving forward.

“Some quit due to slow progress. Never grasping that slow progress ……is progress.”

Options and Opportunties

Options and opportunities

Two of my favorite words.

I love the process of looking and creating more options and opportunities for myself and for other people. The part that trips most people up is that once you do uncover options and opportunities they come with a lot of work and sacrifice. Nothing great is going to come easy or without having to make extremely tough decisions.

Biz Stone, co-founder of twitter says you have to architect the circumstances for opportunities and that requires your ability to take risk, audit your circle of influence, constantly evolve your ideas and communicate more than you think.

“Some people think of opportunity the way it’s defined in the dictionary—as a set of circumstances that make something possible—and they talk about it as if it just arrives organically. You ‘spot opportunity’ or wait around for ‘opportunity to knock.’ I look at it differently. I believe that you have to be the architect of the circumstances—that opportunity is something you manufacture, not something you wait for.”

The creation of opportunities comes from you putting yourself in the right situations with the right people. I like to refer to something I call the dumbest guy in the room concept. If you’re consistently in rooms with people smarter than you then you’re going to always be learning and having conversations that can make you better and open doors.

“To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities” – Bruce Lee


source -http://99u.com/workbook/42481/the-best-opportunities-are-the-ones-you-create-for-yourself




You’ve Got to Pay the Price by Vince Lombardi

This post was originally written by Vince Lombardi in the late 1960’s as a part of a program for national rental car on what it takes to be No.1.  It hung on the wall of my dad’s wall while he was in high school and he recently gave it to me.

Winning isn’t a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while, you don’t do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time. Wining is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

There is no room for second place. There is only one place in my game and that is first place. I have finished second twice in my time at Green Bay and I don’t ever want to finish second again. There is a second place bowl game, but it is a game for losers played by losers. It is and always has been an American zeal to be first in anything we do and to win and to win and to win.

Every time a football player goes out to ply his trade he’s got to play from the ground up –from the soles of his feet right up to his head. Every inch of him has to play. Some guys play with their heads. That’s OK. You’ve got to be smart to by No 1 in any business. But more important, you’ve got to play with your heart – with every fiber of your body. If you’re lucky enough to find a guy with a lot of head and a lot of heart, he’s never going to come off the field second.

Running a football team is no different from running any other kind of organization – an army, a political party, a business. The principles are the same. The object is to win – to beat the other guy. Maybe that sounds hard or cruel, I don’t think it is.

It’s a reality of life that men are competitive and the most competitive games draw the most competitive men. That’s why they’re there – to compete. They know the rules and objectives when they get in the game. The objective is to win- fairly, squarely, decently, by the rule – but to win.

And in truth, I’ve never known a man worth his salt who in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn’t appreciate the grind, the disciple. There is something in good men that really yearns for, needs, discipline and the harsh reality of head-to-head combat.

I don’t say these things because I believe in the ‘brute’ nature of man or that men must be brutalized to be combative. I believe in God, and I believe in human decency. But I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour – his greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear – is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.

Sometimes you just have to tip your cap

If you’ve watched some of the NCAA tournament you get understanding that sometimes you are going to lose even when you’ve done everything exactly how you game planned for it. You’ll be a situation where (to use basketball terms) good offense beats good defense.

The Wisconsin vs Xavier game was a perfect example of it. The kid from Wisconsin hits a fall away three pointer at the buzzer for the win. It’s a ridiculously hard shot to make when you’re alone practice, let alone doing when you have a defender in your face, 20,000 people watching and the fate of your season riding on it.

But it happens and all you can do is tip your cap.

Tipping your cap doesn’t that you’re not pissed off or hurt by the loss, it’s not a way of downplaying the emotions that come along with being on the short end of the stick. Tipping your cap isn’t a concession, it’s the most respectful way to say you got me today but I’ll be back.

Your cynical response….sucks

“Just living the dream” or “Just another day in paradise”

These are starting to become standard answers when you ask people how they are doing around the work place.   There seems to be an overall unhappiness about what a day of work looks like and I’m not sure if it’s centered around the actually work that has to be done, the other people you deal with or general unhappiness.

The thing that strikes me the most is that people seem generally resigned to being in a situation where they are unhappy when the opportunities for finding something you enjoy are out there. I get it that change is a scary thing but so is living an unhappy life that you dread.

The projection of cynicism is an epidemic. It acts as a snowball of negativity and soon than later it’s gathered momentum and becomes impossible to stop.

I’ve never seen an expiration date on change.

You always have the option of finding something that you’re truly excited about it.

The Important Thing is to Not Stop Questioning

When did you stop asking questions?

I’m not sure how many of you have a small child at home, but I do and I can attest to the fact that he asks no less than 100 questions per day, every day.  While it can be a tad irritating when you start going down the rabbit hole of him saying “why” to everything I say, I’ve come to the realization that it’s my duty to foster that curiosity.

I’ve become fascinated by the notion that at some point we all had that curious nature that made us ask questions and dive deeper into learning.  But there had to be a tipping point where we started to just blindly accept that the things being told to us or the things we read were fact and shouldn’t be questioned.

If you want to easily unlock opportunities to make change, than you all you need to do is ask “Why?”

This one question forces an immediate reflection into what you’re doing and if the purpose is beneficial.

The inability or lack of desire to ask questions ensures that things remain status quo and puts an immediate road block in front of development.  You owe it to yourself to revert back to the four year old child inside you and start asking “why?”. 

If not, you commit to forming assumptions based on what other people are telling you. One of my favorite quotes from Gary Vaynerchuk is “If you want to be an anomaly, you have to act like one.”

Ask your question and you might feel like a fool in the short term, or don’t ask your question and you may remain ignorant forever.


Understanding Ego

One of the basic needs of all human beings according to Tony Robbins is significance. Each one of us wants to feel a sense of accomplishment and success regardless of what we are doing. The one thing that comes along with that success is the development and growth of the natural human ego. The way we think, feel and express ourselves on a day-to-day basis gives a good insight into our individual egos.

We’ve all been around a person that has an inflated view of who they are and what they’ve accomplished. Your ego is always going to put your priorities on the top of your list. In these instances, ego is expressed through attention-seeking, power hungry, controlling behavior.

A big ego can cause resentment within any relationship and especially within a team structure. Nothing constructive comes from resentful interactions. Below you’ll see a few suggestions to deal with your ego and maximize your interactions.

Let go of the need to win

Your ego loves to make things seem like it’s you versus me and if I beat you it elevates me above you to a certain extent. Winning is impossible to do all the time. You are going to lose occasionally because you are bound to run into someone who is better than you, at some point. Remember winning/losing and/or successes/failures do not define a person; they are simple outcomes to an individual event. We can’t look in the mirror and call ourselves a winner or a loser based on one specific event. Define yourself by how you handle those events.

Stop having to be right all the time

Your ego will act as a source of conflict for you. When you’ve became stuck on a point that you know is correct you will fight and argue that point regardless of right or wrong. Ego will cause you to forget that when we are in decision-making discussions, it’s not’s about who is right but it’s about what is right.   We all have the need to feel superior. Your challenge is to stay focused on your growth and understand that that might mean you’re wrong.

Stop worrying about your rep

As much as we want to think that reputation is something that is inside of us, it’s a completely external factor. You might run into 10 different people through out a day and each person is going to have a different idea of what they think your reputation is.   Your ego will spend a lot of time worrying about what others are going to think and what rewards you might gain. Remember that you need to stay focused on the PROCESS, not the OUTCOME. You have to take responsibility for what actually resides inside you: your character.

Do you live in the 1 yard?

I was working a speed and agility camp a while ago and I saw something that became increasingly annoying as the night went on.   At one point during the session every single camper was involved in a speed station that required him or her to turn and sprint through a specific spot on the court. I would estimate that it was about a 20-yard distance that they had to cover and I would also guess that 90% of the campers slowed down at 18-19 yard mark and coasted through the line. Repeatedly you could hear me or Todd “TJ” Duckett instructing the kids to “finish the drill!” We got to the end of the session and TJ was burst to talk to the kids, what he said was full of passion, intensity and desire for each kid to work like a champion.

Duck shared that for 29 years working out was his life, everyday consisted of running sprints, lifting weights and eating healthy so he could compete at a championship level. During those years he was able to perform at every level of athletics he ever played. Earning a full ride to Michigan State and ultimately becoming a first round draft pick. Along that rode he played with and competed against players who stopped running the 20-yard sprint at the 19th yard. TJ knew that at a certain point he would defeat those opponents because he had run 21 yards when 20 were required.

TJ lives his life in the “1-yard” and always has. He has never stopped short because it wouldn’t be fair to himself, his teammates, his coaches or the people who paid to see him. The “1-yard is what will help you separate yourself from the rest of the crowd and will always give you an advantage in the longer run. It doesn’t seem like that big of a deal but it’s amazing how those yards add up.

Old School Guide to Defining Winners/Losers

I picked up the mail the other day and noticed that I had a letter from a family member. I opened it out and found a copy of a 1967 Detroit Free Press article called: Winners & Losers : Their Key Traits by Sydney Harris. I read them and found it ironic that the things that their written about in 1967 still hold true today. Below is the article,

Winners and Losers : Their Key Traits

Part IV : How to Tell a Winner from a Loser:

A winner know that to forget and what to remember; a loser forgets what he should remember, and remembers what he should forget.

A winner seeks for the goodness in a bad man, and works with that part of him; a loser looks only for the badness in a good ma, and therefore finds it hard to work with anyone.

A winner admits his prejudices and tries to correct them in making judgments’: a loser denies his prejudices, and thus becomes their lifelong captive.

A winner in not afraid to contradict himself when faced with a contradictory situation; a loser is more concerned with being consistent than with being right.

A winner feels challenged when odds are against him; a loser is always looking for “the edge.”

A WINNER APPRECIATES the irony of fate, and the fact that merit is not always rewarded, without becoming cynical; a loser is cynical without appreciating the irony of fate.

A winner possesses ideas; a loser is possessed by them, and so, even when successful remains their slave

A winner knows how to be serious without being solemn; a loser is often solemn as a substitute for his lack of capacity to be serious.

A winner looks it over; a loser looks it up

A winner rebukes and forgives; a loser is to timid to rebuke and too petty to forgive.

A winner recognizes that the only true authority is moral authority; a loser, having little of this, tries to assume more external authority than his character can handle.

A WINNER TRIES to judge his own acts by their consequences, and other people’s acts by their intentions; a loser gives himself all the best of it by judging his own acts by his intentions, and the acts of others by their consequences.

A winner feels that his past failures have contributed to his success; a loser feels that his past failures blocked his success.

A winner does what is necessary with good grace, saving his energy for situations where he has a choice; a loser does what is necessary under protest, and has no energy left for moral decisions.

A winner accepts the fact that, finally, no mortal can know who the real winners and losers are; a loser thinks that status and power and applause confer a kind of immortality upon him – and never wonders what the lessons of crucifixion might be.

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