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Two of My Go-To Songs For Motivation

I’m not aware of another classic rock song that has a stronger opening than Neil Diamond’s “America.” First, the violins, and then the drum cadence getting louder and louder during the first 30 seconds of that song. It’s powerful, but so are those words.

“We’ve been traveling far.  Coming to America. Looking for freedom’s light burning warm. They’re coming to America.”

They’re looking for the freedoms and the benefits and the opportunities and the rights that this country affords its citizens.

It reflects the diversity of America through its immigration program from a hundred years ago, and its diversity today. It’s a powerful song.

It’s used at concerts, conferences and conventions, and significant events in America.

I used it when I spoke before 3000 high school students at a national conference at Indiana University in Bloomington. That music preceded my opening address, and you can imagine how it got the audience fired up prior to my message.

Songs can do that. They will motivate you to get yourself ready, to get yourself pumped up, to get yourself focused. Or they can bring a memory – reminding you of somebody you love.

Another Neil Diamond song I love is “Sweet Caroline.”

Because I’m a father to a baseball coach and a father-in-law to another one.  It’s played during the eighth inning at Fenway Park, at every baseball game. And now it’s played throughout America, at Little League games, high school games and college games.

And guess what my youngest granddaughter’s name is? You got it right. It’s sweet Caroline.

Use the power of music to get you to that next level, to get you focused, and to get you centered.

Tell me what your favorite song is in the comments below or send me a message. I’d love to hear from you. Let’s go out with a little bit of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.” Neil Diamond recently announced his retirement due to health. We wish him the best.

God bless.

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Life Lessons From A Sea Turtle

Recently my wife and I returned from a trip to Hawaii. My story is about it being 5 o’clock – which means happy hour.

After my wife and I sat down and ordered our Mai Tais,  I turned around and saw a wooden sign that said Life Lessons From Sea Turtles.

Swim with the current. Be a good navigator. Stay calm under pressure. Be well traveled. Think long term. Age gracefully, and spend time at the beach.

Now all of these things the turtle does,  and I’d like to hope that I do most of these.

Swimming with the current is one that I probably struggle with. Sometimes you need to go upstream. Sometimes you need to fight the currents. Some of your best lessons are learned when there’s a powerful force up against you.

I hope I’m a good navigator. My wife and children would probably disagree, but here I’m referring to navigating and mentoring people in their careers. If you’ve been mentored, thank that person. If you don’t have a coach or mentor, go find one.

Stay calm under pressure. That’s a powerful message.

Be well traveled. If you haven’t traveled outside of the city or state that you live in, or if you’re from the United States and you haven’t been to other countries, you need to get up and get out and see the rest of the world. You will learn to appreciate people and cultures and governments and geography and topography like never before. And when you come home, you’ll appreciate the country you’ve left – the freedoms, the rights and the privileges that you have.

The next message is to think long term. What is that long term career goal that you have? What wishes and dreams do you have for your family, for your children and grandchildren?

Age gracefully.  I’m getting up there in age but I’m enjoying every year more than the previous one. As I have life experiences, I’ve come to appreciate the people I’ve met and the places I’ve been. I’ve learned to be much more grateful.

And finally, I love to spend time at the beach. I always have, from the time I was a teenager out in Southern California at Hermosa and Torrance and Redondo Beach. I thought I was one of the Beach Boys. So let’s take this message out with a little bit of surf and music, from the surfing band of the 60s.

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Is Your Glass Half-Full?

I love that song. The topic this morning is glass half full. Some of you might say the glass is half empty, but I’ve always been an optimist. That glass is half full for me.

Sometimes I’ll hear bad news. There were times when something awful happened in my career. Maybe I didn’t get the sales call. Maybe I didn’t get the promotion. But I always believe that I will learned something from that moment, and I’ll take it to the next step. I’ll take advantage of that moment and believe in myself. Believe in the job. Believe in the mission. Believe in my family and that things will be fine.

How often do you hang out with a negative person and enjoy yourself? It’s difficult. Saturday Night Live has a routine – Debbie Downer. It’s a funny routine where the person is always just complaining and always discouraged – never positive.

You’ve got to believe in yourself. You’ve got to believe in your family, and in your job, and in your company, that things are going to be fine. Sometimes you’ve got to work at it. Sometimes each day, each moment won’t be pleasant, but you’re going to get there.

Let me tell you a half empty, half full story. I was raising money for an organization and I had put together a proposal asking for a million dollars.

Nothing happened.

My co-workers teased me that I had asked for too much money, and that if I had asked for a smaller gift, I might have been successful. But I kept believing that what I was presenting to that company was the right request.

I waited patiently. I did my proper follow up, tweaked the proposal a little bit so it could be more attractive to that potential donor. Eventually, in fact, it was eight months later, that gift happened.  And it was a significant gift to the organization, one that kept renewing for six years. It changed that organization’s fundraising model,  changed its reach around the world, and it was because I kept believing that was the right proposal. I kept believing that I could get that glass full. Instead of giving up, and saying that that gift wasn’t going to happen.

If you have a belief in yourself, if you have strength of character and a foundation to get you to the next level, it will happen.

But sometimes you’ve got to look at that glass and say “how do I get it full?”

Does that mean I need more education? Does that mean I need a mentor? Perhaps I need to have some counseling. Whatever it is to get that glass full, that’s what you need to do.

So believe in yourself. Do what needs to be done to get that glass full. And take that song that you just heard and use it as a motivator to keep you going and to shake it off.

 

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When A Moment Has The Potential To Be A Game-Changer

 

Listen to the words of This Is The Moment. They are powerful. It’s one of my favorite songs. This is the moment from Jekyll and Hyde. Turn up the volume real loud when you listen to that one.

It talks about taking advantage of a moment, being ready for it. Reach out and go for that star. Maybe you’ll only hit the moon, but you’re going to be successful.

Let me share a story with you. I was a young man. I had the opportunity to take a position on the East Coast. I was a brand new father. It was a very big position, a big advancement in my career, but I’d be moving my family halfway across the country with a new child, taking her away from proud grandparents.

I dwelled on that decision and chose to take that moment and take that job. That positioned me well for the next ten years of my career. Was it a hard decision? Was it an important decision? Was it a life changing moment? Yes, on all counts. It was difficult for our family. It was a hard job for me, and a difficult job for my wife, but we survived. We were better for it. It was a moment we took advantage of.

Here’s another moment in my life that I’d like to share with you. I was working with an environmental organization and we had decided to give an award to an oil company. After some news hit the papers about something that had happened with that company, we made the decision to not present that award.

That was a hard decision to make. I had to take that moment and decide what I was going to do. I informed the CEO that we would not be presenting that award. He called me one afternoon a few days later. I was sitting in the bleachers watching my son play baseball. The CEO  introduced himself and he said, “Bruce, I think you’re making the wrong decision. That award is very important to us, and we would like to receive it.”

I said, “No, sir. We cannot give you that award.”

His response was, “Well, this could be a career-ending decision for you, young man.”

I said, “It’s a decision our board and I have made and we have to stick with it because of the principles and the vision and the mission of our organization.”

Did it end my career? Absolutely not. Did I feel better about myself? You bet. Did it affect my career? A little bit.  That’s that’s the power of a moment.

We’re all going to have those moments in our family, in our careers, in our life.

Take advantage of those moments, but also make sure you’ve thought it through – with your spouse, with your parents, with your co-workers or whoever might be that mentor, that person that cares about you, that knows you and can help you make that decision.

 

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My Favorite Books and Videos

I am always searching for more education, motivation and inspiration. Here’s a list of my favorite books and videos. Please share your favorites in the comments section below this post.

Some of my all-time favorite books

One Thing by Gary Keller

Everybody Matters by Bob Chapman

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Strength Finders by Tom Rath

Good to Great by Jim Collins

Start with Why by Simon Sinek

Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

The Great Game of Business by Jack Stack

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Lead with a Story by Paul Smith

The Elephant and the Dragon by Robyn Meredith

Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott

The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo

On the bookshelf waiting to be read

Tribe of Mentors by Timothy Ferriss

Primal Leadership – Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Galeman

Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury

Links to some of my favorite videos

Start with Why – Simon Sinek: https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action

US Airways video (fast forward to 4:00) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tE_5eiYn0D0&t=297s

It’s Not about the Nail: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4EDhdAHrOg&feature=youtu.be

 

 

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Four Principles of Fundraising Success

Four Principles of Fundraising Success

If you spend any length of time in the nonprofit world, sooner or later you’ll be faced with the need to raise a large sum of money in a short amount of time.

How do you pull together a successful fundraising campaign quickly, especially given the pressure you’re under and the stress you’re feeling? (more…)

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3 Time Management Tips for Busy Executives

3 Time Management Tips for Busy Executives

You’re a busy executive with a million things that all have to be done right now. You’re not sure if anybody else really understands.

As the Chair of our local Vistage group in Springfield, Missouri, I work with lots of other executives who are in the same boat you’re in. I have also been that busy executive, working with organizations around the world. So I know what it’s like to have that endless stream of responsibilities coming from all directions.

We all get the same 24 hours in a day. So, how do some leaders spend those 24 hours better than others?

Here are 3 tips for effective time management that I’ve learned along the way. (more…)

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Four Habits for Leading in Uncertain Times

Four Habits for Leading in Uncertain Times

Uncertainty.

It’s a word you hear a lot these days.

Not knowing what the future holds is a big source of stress for large and small organizations alike — from nonprofits to private firms.

Patrick Harker, President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, has declared uncertainty to be the biggest risk to the economy in 2017.

Uncertainty comes from all directions.

  • Is your current job the right fit? What should you do if you don’t like your job?
  • How do you address work performance issues with employees? How do you improve your own performance?
  • Should you hire new workers or wait for more economic data?
  • Do you launch that new product or will consumer habits shift on you?
  • Will policy changes put a dent in your plans?
  • What about the impact of new technology or pop culture trends?

In over 30 years as a CEO or executive, doing business in more than 40 countries, I’ve learned that every age is an age of uncertainty, and that good leadership skills include the ability to make good decisions even when you can’t see the road ahead very clearly.

I’ve also learned that practically every situation you face, no matter how dire it seems, offers opportunities for personal and professional growth — for you and all of your stakeholders.

Today I’d like to share four interconnected habits that will help you and your organization to be more successful, even in today’s unpredictable business environment. (more…)

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Make 2017 a Better Year by Investing in People

Make 2017 a Better Year by Investing in People

…Another year over, and a new one just begun. — John Lennon

Once again, we find ourselves taking stock of what has been in 2016 and how to chart a successful course in 2017.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll see the familiar litany of New Year’s resolutions — lose weight, make more money, be a better spouse or parent, and so on.

And once again, all the talk shows, websites, and magazines will runneth over with self-proclaimed experts peddling an endless array of diet secrets, wonder potions, self-help books, and hot new gadgets to help us out.

But if you’re a CEO or business owner, you’re likely making New Year’s resolutions for business, too. You may be pondering how to make 2017 a better year, not just for yourself, but for your workers, your customers, and your family. How can you make life better for all of the people affected by your decisions? (more…)

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