Category Archives: CONTRIBUTORS

BUSINESS, CONTRIBUTORS, HUMANITY, PERSONAL GROWTH, SALES

How Communicating Can Cost Seconds but Save an Hour, and Your Job

By Ashley Francis, Contributor and Owner, TURN Studio

In a world today where there are more ways to communicate than ever before, one of our biggest issues as a society is communication. I have spent a lot of time venting about this in my past career as a sales consultant, however, now that I have ventured out as an entrepreneur and started TURN, I realize that we lack communication in every type of relationship, on a much deeper and serious level. Let’s explore.

First off, it might be necessary that we define communication. Merriam-Webster defines it as “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior. Personal rapport.” Over the last 9 months of developing my own company, I have learned that people must have simply forgot this ever so simple definition…that people have either become so lazy that they can’t exchange or perhaps people have too many options on how to communicate so they get overwhelmed and give up!

Let’s dumb it down: smart phones have text messaging, emailing, direct messaging, and messenger, to name a few. Throw in the laptop and you double the above choices! I’m a little hesitant to mention phone calls because today’s society fears actual conversation…don’t worry, you are not the only one silencing calls.

So where am I going with this? My hope is that you have already had a moment of shaking your head in agreeance. If not, then you must be an extreme introvert who owns your own company that needs no one else but yourself to operate and you must work from home. If you shook your head in agreeance, look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself how many excuses have you have made as to why you have lacked in communication? I will help here: I’m too busy. I forgot to reply. I have kids!! I was in a meeting and then I got busy. Let me insert a motivational line I recently read that hit me hard: “it is not that you are too busy, it is that it is not a priority.”

Let’s first discuss why communication is so important in a professional setting. Every single one of us relies on other people to function, every single day. I personally need so many different people operating at full potential to start TURN, my Indoor Cycling and Strength Studio. From a full detailed marketing plan, an architectural design plan, a budgeting plan, to a simple “yes or no” to a question. Communication is the most important role in starting a company. When I need an answer, regardless of it’s the one I want to hear, I want an answer. I’m sure you can relate to this; simply think about the time you asked an employee to cover a shift for you and crickets…oh the anxiety, right?!

Think about the time you sent an email to your boss, your employee, your coworker, or to your vendor and then from the time you pressed send to the time you finally got a reply you had stirred up so many (negative) thoughts because “you just need a simple response, what in the world is taking the recipient so dang long?!” When someone takes the time out of their busy schedule to write to you, no … you’re not the only busy person, simply reply! Even if it you write “I got your email, I will reply within 24 hours” or “I will get back to you after this conference”! The amount of time it takes to reply, maybe 11 seconds depending on how fat your fingers are, is worth it. You will rise above your colleagues, you will gain more trust from your boss, and you will earn more business from your customers. (read that sentence again but in your King Arthur voice)

Communication is so lost in our world today that the simple examples of showing that you can reply to an email, answer a text, reply to a DM on Instagram or to a message on Facebook, will make you shine like the little star that you are within your company! For the record, just in the last few minutes of me venting, I have replied to 3 emails and 4 text messages. Instant gratification! Not to mention, the most important part of it all, I make that person feel important which then leads to them feeling inclined to do business with me. Let me conclude this segment from a business owner’s perspective, the ones who cannot communicate in a timely matter or the ones that I am constantly having to resend emails to or ask, “did you get my last text?” (because you know, technology these days might lose a text) will be and should be replaced. If you are too busy and if you have reached your max on excuses, then I, the owner of a startup company, am too busy to employ you.

Go on, take a moment now to answer your emails and to reply to your texts. Hell, get crazy and call back the missed calls!

Now let’s entertain myself and discuss communication on a personal level. A quick roll of the eyes and shake of the head because this is the most challenging and intense issue between two people, yet it is SO simple! I’ll start by asking you this: at any given moment during your day, how far away is your phone from your hand? 99.9% of you answered, “in my hand, my pocket, or extremely close to my body at all times.” Even when you go to the restroom, your phone goes with you. Slightly gross but I get it, we all are glued to our phones. The point is, if we are so good at having our phones always on us, then why are we so bad at communicating with people? This is not to ignore the deeper, philosophical reasonings behind why people respond to some things over another, but its simply a time for you to stop and to think about all the times you were “too busy and forgot” to respect another human being enough to answer or to reply. I laugh a little just writing that because Apple clearly has the same pet peeve as me and prove it by making it as simple as double clicking on a text message and boom, you can thumbs up, thumbs down, love, laugh, hype, and even question a text. How simple is that?! Takes less than a second and then you will have proven me wrong, communication is alive!

What crawls under my skin the most is when someone has the audacity to make up some bs excuse as to the why I was not an important enough priority over however long the time was between my initial communication and their reply. Because when we finally are together or are effectively communicating, the person is on their damn phone! Literally, right in front of me, the person is texting, emailing, on social media, or whatever it is on their phone that is more important than the communication taking place with me! I’m guilty of it, you are guilty of it, and unfortunately, us as a society has come to accept it. And yet we wonder why divorce rates consistently rise and why self-worth is constantly being compromised!

Think about how many arguments, whether with your loved one or a friend, could have been avoided if we were better communicators. If instead of ignoring that text or okay, forgetting about that text, you would have replied. Perhaps you would have avoided the hour-long argument. Just one 30 second reply, to avoid an hour-long argument. Time is money, people! Perhaps a simple reply would not make the friend of yours feel insignificant in your life. Have you ever wondered why he didn’t return the communication or why she didn’t just tell you she had other plans and can’t hang out with you? Hurts a bit, right?

My next thought might come across as cold, but then maybe that means it is true for you. We will see. Think about someone you have lost. Whether it was expected or a sudden, traumatic death. Did you find yourself wishing you had more time with that person? We hear stories all the time of the regrets we have when someone passes away. Well then why the hell do we not live each day like it’s whoever it is in our lives’ last day and communicate better?!

Point of my rant is simple: if someone or something is important to you and of value to you, communicate. Be the boss that makes the time to answer your staff. Be the rep that your customer can always depend on for an answer. Be the coworker that your associates can rely on for guidance. Be the employee that your boss can always trust. Be the spouse that your loved one expects to be there. Be the friend that you simply wish your friend was to you. Everyone is busy, everyone is rushing to the next appointment or to carpool. Your excuses, my friend, should be left unread.

At the end of the day, if we learn to communicate, given all our means to do so today, our relationships will be healthier, our partnerships will be stronger, and our sales will be greater. More importantly, you will limit your regrets when someone is no longer here to communicate.

#staygold

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BUSINESS, CONTRIBUTORS, HUMANITY, LEADERSHIP, PERSONAL GROWTH

10 alternatives to thinking outside the box

I am sick and tired of people saying that it is time to think outside the damn box. So, instead of fussing about it, I came up with ten alternatives. Here they are:

1. Step on the box. And move to a higher level. Use the box to get to where you really want to go…

2. Paint the box. Give it a new look. Sometimes the box just needs a fresh, new feel. Nothing has really changed internally, but doesn’t a freshly-painted house look brand new?

3. Poke the box. [h/t Seth] Just read the book. Right now.

4. Crush the box. Flatten the old, tired way. Start fresh. A flat box serves a purpose too. Plus, you can probably rebuild it if you wanted – or needed to.

5. Shred the box. Sometimes you’ve just got to begin again. And complete destruction is the only course. Damn the torpedos. (But don’t worry, if all else fails, someone will construct another box.

6. Hack the box. Sometimes boxes can be used for something other than storing stuff. Repurpose. Retool. Innovate. Open your mind to new possibilities. Come on, don’t be afraid. The people you are worried about aren’t really paying attention. Do it.

7. Rewire the box. Sometimes the box works quite well, and just needs to be rewired. This brings things (ideas) up to code, gives you a fresh start, and gives you confidence to move forward.

8. Deliver the box. Sometimes, you need different opinions, a different viewpoint, and fresh look. Give the box to someone else. Maybe they will do something that matters with it.

9. Bury the box. Sometimes, you just need to let it go. Put it away. Forget about it. Bury it. Move on. Because someday, someone will unbury it, and find wonder in the box.

10. Kick the box. When I was a kid, I loved taking boxes and simply destroying them. Kicking them, crushing them, clubbing them with sticks. I guess it was therapeutic to vent some energy. Sometimes, we just need to do this to begin again, to feel better, and feel alive. So go. Kick it, now. In the end, it is still a box. But you are different.

What are your other ideas? Please share!

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CONTRIBUTORS, PERSONAL GROWTH, SIMPLE LIVING

Why are you always in a rush?

I am tired of always being in a damn hurry. Tired of rushing through things. Hurrying up, and being stressed, trying to quickly get to the next thing I have to do.

Simply put, we are always in a rush. And I am here to declare: our goal in life should be to no longer be in a rush.

Now, as I write this, I think about two single mothers I know, each with three kids. They might read this and tell me I am full of it. “Dream on buddy,” they might say. But even so, I think it’s even more important for them to think about how they can be less rushed.

And of course, life happens, and sometimes we will be rushed. Sometimes it cannot be helped.

But the simple goal is to be completely focused on the current task that you are working on, without feeling pressure about doing something else/the next thing. Whether that is a work project, cooking a meal, taking the dog for a walk. Whatever.

In fact, that’s a good example of what I am talking about: Walking the dog.

Walking the mutt should be a very pleasant experience: Quality time alone with your pet; movement and exercise for both of you; a chance to get some fresh air; a break from the realities of the busy, fast world around you. This time should be fun; relaxed; enjoyable!

But for most of us, it’s stressful. “I don’t really have time for this,” you might think to yourself, “I have to get back to that thing I was working on.” And that’s when you get a little frustrated that Fido is taking too long to make a poop.

(And then, if you are like me, you feel totally guilty that you get frustrated).

What a shame.

So, stop doing it. Build a life structure that prevents you from always being in a rush: Do less work, say yes to fewer things, stop overscheduling yourself, build in more cushion time on the calendar…however this has to look/and work for you.

Now, quite obviously, the key to all this is honing your ability to prioritize.

Many have written of this before, but here it is again: A task list of twenty items per day will NEVER get done. So, what you should do instead is pick five of those tasks, and focus on those instead. ONLY THOSE FIVE THINGS.

But, pick the five most important tasks that advance your important goals. Leave the other fifteen for down the road. They aren’t nearly as important, and life will go on without them.

And don’t pick the five easiest tasks, just to feel good about completing something, and checking them off the list.

That gets you nowhere.

Instead, spend the day focusing on those five tasks. You won’t be in quite the same “rush mentality” if you have only five things to think about, rather than feeling the panic and pressure of knocking off all twenty tasks.

This is a big mindset shift, yes. Trust me, one I am still learning myself. This will also require serious discipline.

You have to want this. You have to be really tired of always being in that rush, in that panic, in that state of guilt that you aren’t getting everything done, and always feeling the clock running your ass down.

Hit the brakes and stop rushing through life. You’ll actually end up LIVING more.

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BUSINESS, CONTRIBUTORS, PERSONAL GROWTH

Finding Your Entrepreneurial Geek Pack

Growing up as a pre-teen in the 70’s and as a teenager in the 80’s, I watched Star Trek reruns, watched Star Wars a hundred times, read science fiction, learned to code Basic on my Atari 1200XL and played Dungeons and Dragons.

I was a girl geek. And yet (I think) I was still popular in school. I don’t remember feeling alienated or an outsider. Maybe because I hung out with a lot of other geeks (band nerds mostly) and we declared ourselves to be cool.

It didn’t hurt that I was also an athlete and a good student so I was friends with or at least got along with the “sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, waistoids, dweebies, dickheads …” etc.

Still, in my heart of hearts, I knew I was a geek and I was willing to own it.

It takes some courage as a teenage girl to be willing to be different.

Not Cool is Now Cool

It’s completely annoying that today, being a geek is totally cool. When you can buy a t-shirt with a schematic of the Enterprise on it, you know it’s mainstream.

“But isn’t that what all you nerds, dweebs, and geeks WANTED?” cry the former cheerleaders and quarterbacks, “To be mainstream, to be popular, to be like everyone else?”

Nope. We sure didn’t.

Lynn Anderson released the song “I was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool” in 1970. Oh, Lynn, do I feel you.

Now that Star Wars buffs, computer programmers, and gaming is mainstream, I have to resist the urge to shout “I was a GEEK when geeking wasn’t cool!” every time I see Chris Hardwick’s face.

Are you with me? Do you look at “kids these days” and want to tell them how you got beat up because you hung out in the computer lab at lunchtime playing “Oregon Trail” or posting on a BBS?

It was hard being a geek back in the day! And yet we did it.

Still, I wouldn’t have done it all on my own. I had friends to play D&D with, I was in the school band, and my favorite boy friend in school owned the first Apple any of us has seen and taught me DOS. So I wasn’t alone.

At the time, it really didn’t seem like what we were doing was a big deal. In retrospect, I see now how we didn’t really think of ourselves as outcasts.

We all had each other and in each other’s eyes we were all cool. And that’s what made all the difference.

Solopreneurs are the New Old Geeks

There are now more than 20 million “non-employer businesses” (that’s what the government calls solopreneurs) but even a few decades ago it was a weird and rare thing. If you were a consultant, people just considered it a euphemism for “unemployed.”

Now that I’ve recently re-entered that mileu myself, I’m realizing that it’s “back to the future.” We’re rapidly breaking into a time when it’s becoming cool to be an entrepreneur… IF you’re a millennial hacker programmer working in an old loft with exposed brickwork and exposed ducting in the ceiling (which is painted black) working off a plywood/pipe upcycled table.

If you’re a 40-something solopreneur working on something completely unsexy like accounting, insurance, HR, or non-social media marketing, you’re back to being an invisible geek of business as far as the “popular kids” are concerned.

You better find yourself a nerd-pack.

Maybe you can call it your tribe. Although that seems to be used more and more in a marketing connotation: a demographic who can relate to you and wants to consume your content. People who become what Kevin Kelly calls the “1000 True Fans.” Beth Ziesenis calls hers the “Nerd Herd” (of which I am a proud member).

I’m not talking about this. I’m saying you need to find peers who share your business obsessions. Who know who Kevin Kelly, and Seth Godin, and Michael Gerber, and Mari Smith are. People who are interested in talking about processes and systems and strategies with the same enthusiasm that football fans use when talking about rushing yards and completions.

I’ve used these groups personally for years to help me with big projects. I’ve always called them “mastermind groups.” Which in itself is apparently pretty nerdy. I thought it was a well-known term but I’ve been surprised at how few people know the term.

Although after reading an extensive and well-researched article about Napoleon Hill (the first trackable user of the term “mastermind”) establishing a solid case that he was more of a scam artist than a self-help guru, I think I might personally adopt “nerd-pack” or “geek gang.”

Whatever you want to call it, you need a small, focused group of people who make your (healthy) obsession with business, entrepreneurship, process, systems, and strategy feel NORMAL.

Do it now.

Find three or four people, set up a regular meeting time and space, and declare yourselves the center of business cool in your neighborhood.

Then you can go back to grumping about how you were a Doctor Who fan wearing a ridiculously long scarf long before bow ties became cool.

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CONTRIBUTORS, LIFESTYLE, PERSONAL GROWTH, WELLNESS

Paying Ourselves the Biggest Commission Check

By Ashley Francis, Contributor and Owner, TURN Studio

Your alarm goes off. Maybe two, maybe five times depending on the type of person you are in the morning. Regardless of the amount of times it takes, you get up. You get presentable enough to make the person you are selling to think you cared enough to be there. You make your pitch, shake your customers hand in hopes you closed the deal, now off you go to grab a coffee. Another call or two and yes, it’s lunch time! You hurry and eat just to repeat the morning all over again in the afternoon. You are finally home, traffic was exhausting. Ah, the wine glass awaits you while the crock pot’s perfect timing strikes again, and you sit down with your slippers on to forget about the oh-so-stressful day. You binge watch the addicting tv show that you and your friends are texting about. Your eyes start to fade so you crawl in bed, only to repeat the day’s work all over again until Friday at five o’clock. Sounds borderline close to a typical day in the routine of a sales career, right?

We are habitual with looking the part, closing the deals, boasting our chests as we walk out of the meeting we crushed and let’s be honest, we barely prepped for it. We are great at being a boss and everyone knowing our name…because we are simply just that good. I feel you! What I don’t understand then, is why are we not habitual in an overall healthy lifestyle? Why are we more motivated by recognition and commission checks than by our own self health? The one thing we can control (by means of diet and exercise), yet most of us have no control.

Before I continue I think it is important you understand a bit about me. I am a successful sales representative who proved all the territories wrong and grew them to the top. I was genius at working smarter, not harder. Meaning, I worked less hours than the average American employee (which is 42 according to my google search) and made a significant amount more than the average American (google search again). I work out six days a week and I eat mostly healthy. I am a believer in spoiling myself with queso, wine, and tailgate food for sure, but in moderation! My point in sharing that with you is so I can gain a little credibility in this blog. You can be better than average, regardless of where you are today, and I hope we all want to be better than average.

I have worked for five different sales companies before finally giving in to my inner entrepreneurial spirit begging me to start my own company, which brings us to where I am today: Owner of TURN Indoor Cycling + Strength Studio. During my time with those five companies I worked with hundreds of different sales reps and thousands of customers, but one thing was consistent: the conversation around working out and eating healthy. Regardless of who the conversation was with, I always got asked: “How do you stay so fit? What do you eat? When do you work out? How do you have so much energy?” Inside I was thinking, “What do you mean, how? How do you not work out and eat healthy? How do you go more than a day, okay I will give you a few days, without some sort of physical activity?” Most of the time I would fight the urge to reply with that and instead, I would just say, “I make it a priority.”

Let’s circle back to the over-excused story above. We are all extremely busy, especially today. Over the years we as humans somehow have grown to multi-task better than ever before and the demands from companies have made us clock over sixty-hour work weeks. Whether the drive thru is all we have time for and even then, the four-car line is going to make us late, or the candy bar in the desk drawer screams our name and we have to eat it or our work just will not get done! I get it, I really do. But what I don’t get is why we accept it. I challenge you to take the next bit of this article to inspire you (if you are living the “too busy” life I have described) and become better than average.

Instead of living for your company, living for your boss, and living for the paycheck, I encourage you to live for you. Prioritize yourself over everything else. The benefit: an overall healthier personal and professional life. I understand you have a family and bills to pay, they will love you even more and your bills will still get paid. If you do not have a gym or a fitness routine, google will guide you or ask a friend or colleague where they enjoy working out. Find a community gym that welcomes you and motivates you to show up each day. Find a workout routine that you cannot wait to put on your workout gear for every day, maybe one that motivates you to go buy new workout gear! I challenge you to not give up if you don’t fall in love with prioritizing fitness right away. It ain’t easy falling in love, but once you do, the sweet spot is worth it. With time, your meetings now go without yawns and the meetings are more invigorating…your energy has increased! You feel stronger, you look more fit…your priorities are in the right place. Your mirror selfies make you smile, not sigh…commitment looks good on you. Okay you get the picture. I know this is not easy for most people. According to the CDC, 21.7% of adults over the age of 18 meet physical activity guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity. Be better than average, prioritize you.

Living life as a sales representative we are constantly on the road and “wining and dining”. Nothing cute or scientific about this part: eat clean, eat consistently healthy, and your body, mind, and spirit will change. Your sleeping habits improve, your skin looks better, and your mind becomes sharper. Yep, all great traits to possess to help reach your quota and earn that rewarding commission check. Eating clean is hard, no doubt about it. We live in a world surrounded by temptation. If you aren’t currently eating healthy, the beginning of this era in your life will seem impossible. Just trust the process and stay committed to the meal plan just like you are committed to replying to your customers email, and over time eating healthy
becomes as easy as the email.

If you train yourself to prioritize your own self, the results are beyond worth it. Not only does the couch and whatever show you binge watch sound less important to you now, you crave the high of a good sweat or the smell of the city on your run. Instead of fast food, you find yourself meal prepping or asking the waiter to hold the butter. You prioritize your schedule around your healthy lifestyle. Now I get it, all this isn’t just as easy as it is me writing about it. You have the drive and the desire to be better than average at work, so why not have the same drive and desire to be better than average in life? Your company, your boss, your coworkers, and even your family will all crave your energy and positive buzz surrounding you. Just watch.

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CONTRIBUTORS, LIFESTYLE

Please do not recline your seat back and other rules on proper airline etiquette

While I am not a billion mile flyer, I do travel more than the average person, and over the years, I’ve accumulated a few basic rules of common sense and basic courtesy that all should follow.

Frankly, I shake my head at what some people do on airplanes. And don’t excuse it because they do not fly very often – a lot of these guidelines are just common sense.

And if you follow these, you’ll enjoy your flight more, the passengers around you will too, and won’t want to smack you with a brick!

Flying On Commercial Airlines: The Guidelines:

1. Don’t recline your seat. The person behind you is in a sardine can already. Why be thoughtless and selfish? And every day, we hear about how the airlines are going to add more and more seats, and take away more and more room…

2. You are sitting behind me, yes. But that doesn’t mean you are allowed to use my seat back as a means of pulling your fat ass up from the seated position. You do realize you are sling-shotting me into my coffee, right. And every now and then, pulling my hair.

3. Why do you have to eat food in the plane before we take off? Can’t you eat in the terminal before boarding? Especially stinky food. Really?

4. Middle seat patrons gets both armrests. Period. End of sentence.

5. Go ahead and sleep. But if you know that you snore, be mindful. If you do, I will Instagram your face when you drool all over yourself.

6. Who in the hell farted? Jesus-age-of-Christ-on-a-popsicle-stick. Really?

7. It’s bad enough that TSA makes us take our shoes off at inspection. But don’t do it on the plane. Your feet smell.

8. Enjoy your music. Just don’t make ME “enjoy” your music. #VolumeControl

9. When the flight attendant walks up and down the aisle to gather refuse, this is not license to empty all the crap out of your backpack.

10. If I’m wearing headsets or reading, it means that I don’t want to talk to you.

11. Kids are going to cry and fuss on a plane. That can’t be helped. But the parents better make an effort to try.

12. Don’t kick the seat in front of you. You’d bitch if someone did it to you.

13. Don’t invade my personal space. Your elbow, shoulder, or belly is NOT allowed in my space.

14. If you’re boarding and wearing a backpack and you turn and smack my head with it, I may stand up and smack you right back.

15. When you are the last zone to board, don’t be surprised and don’t complain if you have to check your bag. #Reality

16. When the TSA agent says “Keep nothing in your pockets,” it means the following: KEEP NOTHING IN YOUR DAMN POCKETS.” No keys, no ID, no wallet, no coins and change, no pens, no candy bars…NOTHING. It’s actually quite simple…

17. Why do you wait until the last possible minute to get yourself ready for the TSA X-ray and bag scan process? As in, don’t wait until you get scolded by the agents to remove the STUFF FROM YOUR DAMN POCKETS.

18. When you put your carryon in the overhead rack, can’t you take an extra second to position it so that others can utilize the space too? That overhead bin isn’t your personal, private storage rack.

19. When deplaning, don’t stop immediately after exiting the jetway – and in the middle of the exit area – to check your connecting flight info. There are 200 people stacked up behind you. Get your head out of your fanny, and get off to the side.

20. If it is an evening (or early morning) flight, and you AREN’T reading or doing anything that requires it, please turn off your overhead light. That damn thing is bright.

21. A little hack I’ve devised over the years: If I am assigned to Row 20, I don’t wait until I get to Row 20 to see if there is space in the overhead bin. If I notice available space on my way back, say at Row 10, I’ll go ahead and put my carryon right there, and just pick it up as I deplane. Simple.

22. If you have an assigned seat, sit in the damn thing. Almost every flight I take, someone sits in a different seat. And every time, this causes stress and a commotion.

23. And if you are assigned a window or middle seat and take my aisle seat, don’t ask me if I want to switch. I specifically requested that aisle seat.

24. When getting your luggage from baggage claim, don’t jump all over me and step on my foot to grab your bag. I promise, it will come around again.

25. For gate attendants: We know that you cannot control weather delays, crew issues, or mechanical problems with the plane. But, for God-sakes, I beg you, please get on the PA system and keep us informed. That’s all we want. Well, and a cocktail.

26. When you arrive at your seat during boarding, don’t stand in the aisle for ten minutes extracting all the crap you’ll need for the flight. Get out of the way, there is a long line of people trying to get to THEIR seat too.

27. You don’t get to cut in line just because you are running late. We’re all dealing with tight flight schedules. Manage your time better.

28. Build in some time at the airport pre-flight. Why wait until that last minute? If you have time to kill, so what? No stress, and you’ve got time to grab some coffee or cocktails, and read a book.

29. When we are waiting to deplane and we are ALL standing in the aisle waiting to get off the plane, be sure to scan the area before you blindly open the overhead bin door and smack some poor bastard in the head as it pops open.

30. When we are waiting to deplane after landing, and we are all standing in the aisle, that’s NOT the time to try to lower your suitcase from the overhead bin. All you end up doing is smacking someone in the shoulder. Just wait for an extra 30 seconds until the folks in front of you have started to clear. #CommonSense

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This is BY NO MEANS a complete list. And I will continue to add and revise as time passes, and as new experiences inform new rules and guidelines!

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CONTRIBUTORS, HUMANITY, PERSONAL GROWTH

What It Takes to Go “All Out” in Running and Life

The next time you see someone staggering across a marathon finish line, barely able to walk, or carried by fellow runners because their legs have buckled, don’t feel sorry for them.

Envy them.*

These are people who know what it feels like to give it their all.

So many of us say “I did my best” or “I gave it 100%” but did we truly? Could we have done better, worked harder?

When I first started running in races, I just wanted to survive. I usually went hard enough that I was sore for days but right after the finish, I always felt like I could have run faster .

As I trained more and got in better shape both cardiovascularly and in strength, I did keep getting faster. I still thought I was running as hard as I could, but soon after finishing, I’d lament “I could have run faster.”

If you’re a perfectionist, this is probably the story of your life. “I could have done better, worked harder, put in more time…”

You probably could have. I don’t think hardly any of us have ever reached that extreme, whether athletically or professionally, where we could honestly say “I absolutely went to the limit. That was the best I could possibly do. Any more and I would have collapsed/passed out/won an award.”

It’s a goal of mine to reach that limit at some point, both professional and athletically.

I’m not talking about damaging yourself. Or ruining your health or relationships by being a workaholic.

I’m talking about going so hard, going all out, that there’s no doubt in your mind that you could have done better or gone harder.

Instead of giving a good presentation, you present like a boss.

Instead of covering the basics, you work out every detail.

Instead of running fast, you go so hard that you cross the finish line with your last possible step.

I’m getting closer, but I want that life experience of knowing I gave it my absolute all.

Here’s what it’s going to take:

Practice

In running fast or long, half the battle is getting used to feeling bad. I realize this doesn’t make much of a positive impression on people who are considering running as a sport …

It takes repetition to make the discomfort if not more comfortable, at least tolerable. You learn to keep going, adjust to that feeling, and recover.

This very much applies to business and life. Physical discomfort is sometimes easier to push through than mental discomfort.

We’ve been training ourselves to divide our focus or jump to the next interesting thing. Giving it your all in a writing project, business plan, or marketing campaign often takes long, sustained bouts of thinking and creating which can literally feel painful!

It takes practice to push through that initial desire to stop and do something more interesting or less mentally taxing.

Perception

The first time I ran a sub 80-second 400 meter, I didn’t have a watch on and my Coach didn’t call out splits. I just ran. Like a wild woman!

Maybe I’d never run that fast before because I “knew” I couldn’t run that fast. I would glance at my watch and think I was running as fast as I could.

You KNOW that if you think you can’t do something, you’re usually right. Your perception of yourself is going to influence your outcome.

Don’t measure yourself by your self perception. Sometimes you’ve got run without feedback, without knowing where you are, or measuring against previous performance.

Physiology

Laziness is a survival trait. Understanding that is half the battle.

Your mom was right. Hard work (almost) never killed anyone (it’s the unrelieved stress).

We evolved to do just enough to the get the result we needed. If you were “homo habilis” and you were threatened by a bear, you ran or fought just enough to get to safety.

You didn’t run until you dropped from exhaustion if you didn’t need to. You’d be killed by the next threat that came along because you wouldn’t have the energy to escape that new threat.

Today, most people on this planet are fortunate enough that their daily routine doesn’t include life or death flight or fight situations. If you’ve planned your day or weekend right, you could go to exhaustion Monday through Friday or on a Saturday morning and be safe in assuming you could lounge on the couch the rest of the weekend.

That physiological injunction against going to exhaustion is still very much hard-wired into our brains.

You may run until your brain says you’re “tired” or even “exhausted” but you really aren’t. Your body literally tricks your brain into thinking you’re more tired than you are so you’ll quit or slow down long before you’re completely spent.

Knowing about this mechanism helps you understand the lies your body and brain are telling you.

Jens Voigt, professional cyclist, is famous for his saying “Shut up legs.” He should add “Shut up brain.”

Passion

Whether it’s athletic or professional, stretching yourself that hard is probably going to hurt. You’ll suffer on the path to get there.

You’ve gotta want it badly. If it’s not your passion, your desire, your obsession … you’re just not going to want to go past that “danger signals” point.

This means that going all out is probably going to be limited to just a few things in your life. Maybe only one thing.

Personally, running is one of those things for me. I’ve had a few experiences where I crossed a finish line and could barely lift my legs to get off the track…. And I loved it!

Not the burning pain of lactic acid. Or the searing lungs.

But the feeling that I absolutely put it all out there. Did my best. Laid it on the line. Gave it my all.

I want to feel that feeling again and again and again.

—–
*They’re fine. They’re usually just glycogen depleted and just need rest and carbs. Gonna hurt the next few days though!

Cover photo courtesy of Juan Esparza Loera.

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CONTRIBUTORS, HUMANITY, LIFESTYLE, WINE

Hungry for This Wine: The Wine for Transitions: Donnafugata SurSur 2016

The Donnafugata SurSur is a transitional wine, and I do not mean that it’s the wine that’s in transition.

Donnafugata SurSurIt’s us who are transitioning, and this is the wine that is bridging us this week from one place to the next. Literally. We are moving houses, from one part of the city to another and, though we left most of our wine in the “old” house for now, this wine made the cut of the very few bottles that we hand-carried on our move.

Here’s why I’m that hungry for this wine.

We live in Atlanta, and it’s the month of July, and it is hot. As in, sweltering. In the midst of that heat is the physicality of moving heavy boxes and bulky furniture, and making 537 decisions about what needs to go where inside a new home that we don’t yet know.

It is all, in a word, exhausting, even for someone who enjoys the karmic shake-up and editing process of a move.

So I knew that, at the end of the day, I would want something cool and refreshing and, especially in these conditions, white and crisp.

That’s one reason that the Donnafugata SurSur made the cut.

The second reason has two parts: it’s from southwestern Sicily (Sicilian wines are all the rage right now, thanks to a major surge of interest in volcanic wines from Mount Etna), and it’s made from a native grape (Grillo) that is mostly unfamiliar to me.

Being Sicilian and unfamiliar raised the chances significantly that I would be interested in this wine even though I may have been too tired to be interested in much.

And then there were the bonus points. Its low alcohol (12.73% ABV), with just enough body without ill-timed weight or heft, and fruit and florals (which I love) on the nose. There is also a clever naming convention that, among my “tougher-minded” friends, I’d be embarrassed to admit that I find adorable. In addition to being the name of an ancient indigenous Sicilian grape, “Grillo” is also the name for the cricket, which brings good luck. “SurSur” means cricket in classical Arabic, which was once also spoken in Sicily.

That’s a lot going on for one bottle of wine that made our very short-list transitional cut.

I placed a bet that I would – still – be hungry for this wine, even in a time of transition. And that bet paid off.

This wine reminds me why I love wine. Which reminds me why I love living my life. Which reminds me of all the thousands of things I’m grateful for, including moving and fresh starts and the luxury of relishing a glass or two of thirst-quenching wine at the end of an exhausting experience.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS WINE!

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Find Cathy Huyghe’s book here:

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CONTRIBUTORS, HUMANITY, MARKETING

Things I learned from being nice on social media

A few months ago, I decided to ONLY be nice and positive on social media.

I made this decision for two reasons: One, I grew tired of spewing my own social media venom; and two, because I grew increasingly tired of observing others doing the same.

Online, all far too many people seem to know how to do is SCREAM all day long; bitching and venting about this and that. It never seems to end.

Personally, I no longer wanted to add to the noise.

In terms of my past online behavior, this largely manifested itself in two ways: One, I bitched, moaned, and complained when a brand or organization wronged me (at least in my opinion); and two, I injected my political opinion into the wider dialog around a specific political news event or policy discussion.

At the end of the day, this was getting me nowhere. I needed to stop. I was getting frustrated. And it was causing unnecessary stress and anxiety.

And the spiraling behavior could only be dealt with by feeding it more. And more. And more. The process would never stop.

In the end, I decided that I needed to model better behavior online, the kind of behavior I’d prefer to see online, at least from others in my various social networks. I realized that I cannot control the whole internet, but I can control what I do and whom I follow online.

So, in addition to my stopping my own venom, an important part of the work was also to distance myself from people doing specific things online, activities that would ultimately provoke me into responding, or at least commenting. This would usually be something not very nice. Or at least not optimistic or supportive.

I grew weary of people picking political fights just for the sake of picking fights (not because they had a legitimate or principled stand on any actual policy position). They just relished the fight and heated, angry debate.

I grew to dislike people who stirred up trouble and controversy, not because they believed strongly in the issue, but because they wanted to have 100 people comment on their post, and stir the pot within the comments. It was more about the action there.

I also tired of people who spent twenty-four hours a day complaining about brands. Endlessly. It really came to a head for me when United Airlines had its unfortunate experience of dragging the poor fellow off the plane. It felt to me that people relished the chance to pile on to a brand who had done wrong…not to necessarily voice deeply-held, principled opinion, but rather, they loved the schadenfreude. That made me sick. I unfollowed more people after that incident than any day since. And have been a shadow of my former self on Facebook since that incident.

And when one controversy ends, they wait and pile on the next brand that does wrong.

On the occasion that I did offer my thoughts and opinion on a matter of political opinion, people would jump at the chance to shit on my opinion. No, these people never commented or engaged with anything else I did online, but jumped at the chance to smack me upside the head when I offered something political. It was almost like they were lurking in the shadows waiting for me to say something…

Finally, and most frustratingly, I no longer wanted to observe people complaining about their lives (and doing nothing about it).

All these behaviors combined, grew very, very tiresome. And I was tired of feeding it all with my own venom and vitriol.

So now, when someone acts in this way on any of my networks, I unfriend and unfollow, or disconnect however appropriately. It’s not personal, really, but I just don’t have time for it.

So, here are the basic guidelines I’ve made for myself:

1. I will no longer complain about brands online. I will contact the brand directly if I have a complaint that warrants further action.

2. I will not discuss religion or politics. I will conduct face-to-face, offline debates with people who are interested in understanding my point of view on an issue; not with people who just want to shout louder than I can.

3. I will not engage on someone’s post to disagree and debate. If I feel strongly enough to discuss it with them, I will do so offline.

4. When there is a big controversy that has got everyone commenting and offering their opinion, I will simply unplug, get offline, and read a book.

So what will my behavior look like? Well, I’m going to post lovely photos of my hometown, the food we eat, the travel I do, our crazy dogs, share music I am listening too, and document my marathon training (which is taking more and more of my time).

And of course, I will continue share the results of the work from my media company: Our interviews, client work, our business series, and other fascinating material generated on our platform from our collaborators.

Some of you might find that boring. But I make no apologies, because that’s my life. You’ll engage with it, or you won’t. I won’t lose any sleep over it.

So, how’s it going so far?

Well, for several months, I haven’t been negative, haven’t complained publicly to and about any brands, have ignored and/or unfollowed anyone who has been politically nasty, and disconnected from most people who spent all day long complaining about people, brands, and their life.

I will admit, it wasn’t always easy. In today’s crazy political climate, it wasn’t easy to keep silent, especially in the face of some pretty repellent behavior, commentary, and media coverage.

But I did it. And now, it’s like I’ve gone through detox. I no longer miss it. It’s easier and easier to disengage and not pay attention to all the childish antics and behavior.

Here are my key lessons learned and (sometimes surprising) observations:

1. Assholes have stopped picking fights with me. This alone was worth the effort.

2. I’ve literally stopped sending dozens and dozens of tweets complaining about things. Nothing ever really comes from doing this anyway. And I don’t even really feel better after doing it either.

3. When I do make a comment on something now, I have to put a positive spin on things. This changes how I react to situations, and that’s a good thing. I am more optimistic and positive, rather than negative. Big, positive mindset shift!

4. I have become more proactive on these channels, rather than always reacting to people stirring up trouble. This affords more control to my personal messaging.

5. Similarly, this has made me a better journalist myself, as I am no longer reacting to poor journalism. And I am learning what NOT to do myself.

6. I had long felt required to follow provocative people just to be able to react to them. Now, I can simply unfollow them, get their vitriol and poison out of my life, and stop wasting my precious time.

7. I’ve learned how to discern real news, rather than trying to count on untrustworthy sources to get their opinion on the day’s events.

8. When I personally stopped pouring gas on the fire, a lot of the negative crap went away, at least in my world (which saved me a lot of anger, time, and stress).

9. Instead of taking so much of this crap personally, I can now laugh at most people online, and realize how foolish they are acting. It now amuses me, rather than infuriates me. My blood pressure has gone down significantly.

10. I’ve learned how relatively unimportant social media is. For as a result of my decision, I spend a lot less time on social media, and much to my surprise, I really don’t miss it.

11. At first, the urge to go negative was strong. But over a couple of months, that same urge has largely gone away, and now, I couldn’t be bothered. I’ve got more important things to do.

12. And WOW the time I have saved from not getting dragged into useless, pointless debates with people whom I will NEVER convince otherwise. That time can now be spent on positive activities, at least for myself.

So, those are my key findings from being nice on social media for a couple of months.

As I’ve said before, I won’t judge people for how they act online. The beauty of these digital channels is that you can utilize them however you see fit. So, far be it from me to judge people on platforms such as these.

Do as you will, and as many have continued to do, do your worst. But for me, I’m over it. I don’t have time for that anymore.

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CONTRIBUTORS, LIFESTYLE, WINE

Hungry for This Wine: 2016 Malbec Rosé from William Chris Vineyards

It’s very hard these days to not get into a rosé mood.

Malbec RoséThe weather’s changing. The earth is tilting toward the sun. Its radiance is stronger on our face. The green grass is greener, and the blood flowing through our muscles is somehow warmer.

Welcome to the season of rosé, the one that lifts our mood and reminds our tastebuds of all that’s light. Translucent, even. And definitely sunny.

I am huge fan of rosé and here are two reasons why: it can be made from just about any grape (giving it tremendous diversity and range), and it can be made from just about anywhere.

By “anywhere” I mean the places you’d expect, like the Provence region of France, Italy, and California.

But did you also know that rosé is made in places that wouldn’t expect, like the Rioja region of Spain, South Africa, and Chile?

And also… wait for it… Texas?

Yes, Texas indeed.

Stay with me here.

It may not have hit your radar yet but a THING for wine has hit Texans. Hard.

In recent years the amount of grapes grown and wines made in Texas has leapfrogged over most other US states. This momentum has been bolstered by local and regional tourism boards, which are posting enviable numbers of consumer visits and engagement.

Here’s one of the best parts, in my opinion, of this major upswing:

The rosé of Texas.

I love it because, as this week’s wine pick shows, it’s made from unexpected grapes like Malbec.

I love it because, when I pour it for friends, they are surprised — actually, “shocked” is more accurate — that it’s from the Texas Hill Country.

I love it because they love it even before I tell them that.

I love it because it’s opening all of our eyes.

And I love it because it’s GOOD, and because it’s exactly the wine that I am hungry to drink right now.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS WINE!

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Find Cathy Huyghe’s book here:

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