Some words that get a bad rap


The English language has a lot of them:

  • Curiosity
  • Yes
  • Relax (chill)
  • Obsessive

Yes, let’s talk about ‘obsessive.’

If someone calls you obsessed, you might be tempted to take it as an insult. But, chances are, you’re probably doing something right. You’re, most likely, doing a lot right.

In the words of a certain sports journalist (and a number of other people): “obsessive is the difference between great and legendary.

Most people who call themselves “professional” do the bare minimum. But the reality is, if you’re doing the bare minimum, you’re still performing like an amateur.

Not everyone can become legendary. There are only a select few who have done it in their respective industries. But, if you’re interested, it takes a level of commitment others aren’t willing to strive for. It takes being obsessive.

Week 28 '18 reflection


Every week, I take some time out of my Sunday evening to reflect. Specifically, I look back at my week and consider what I've accomplished and what I've learned. It's something I've come to love and look forward to each week. It doesn't take a ton of time—at the very least it's an effective way to combat the Sunday scaries. At it's best, however, it allows me to refocus my attitude to prepare for a successful week ahead and reevaluate my approach so that I can reflect on the things I'm grateful for and tweak the things I need to work on. This habit of looking back at my week and reflecting on everything that has happened helps me put things in perspective. There are all kinds of things that happen throughout a given week, both big and small. It's easy to overthink some things and not treat other things with a greater sense of urgency. 

Some weeks, more things happen than others. For me, this was my first week at a new job. Not a ton of surprises but first impressions are that I'm going to really enjoy this. Not sure if it is like this everywhere else in the world of recruiting, but the people here (my co-workers and now friends) take a ton of pride in what they do. It's such a collaborative environment and the culture feels much like a well-functioning sales floor.

I have learned so much about recruiting. The thing I'm most happy about is that my day-to-day routine is really similar to how the rest of my sales career has been. It's a lot of time-blocking, organizing notes (on candidates and clients), phone calls, meetings, sourcing, collaborating, etc. The thing I'm most excited about is what I'm selling. As a recruiter, I have the opportunity to sell opportunities. And I love that I can meet someone and immediately be able to help them with something in regard to their career. 

Looking ahead to my schedule next week, it feels good to again have a booked calendar. It feels even better to be doing things that align with my career and personal goals. Not to mention the incredible chance to make a difference doing something I love. 

The Coaching Habit: Michael Bungay Stanier


The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier is one of those gems that isn't just full of platitudes, but rather teaches practical and concise lessons you can apply today. The book is really about a few well-researched questions and the power of silence. 

Q1: What’s on your mind?
Q2: And what else?
Q3: And what else?
Q4: So what’s the real challenge here for you?

Bonus "Learning" question: What was most useful for you?

People occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.
— Winston Churchill

That’s equally true about the conversations you’re having with those around you. There’s wisdom to be found, but only if you hang around for a moment to take a look.

And what else?...

"Start with 'what.' When it comes to focused organizational conversations, asking why can put people on the defense. When you ask why you may be solving the wrong problem before just trying to understand the problem. Reframe the question so it starts with “What.” So, as some examples, instead of “Why did you do that?” ask “What were you hoping for here?” Instead of “Why did you think this was a good idea?” ask “What made you choose this course of action?” Instead of “Why are you bothering with this?” ask “What’s important for you here?”

You’ll be surprised and delighted at just how often these are exactly the right questions to ask. Open with: What’s on your mind? The perfect way to start; the question is open but focused. Check-in: Is there anything else on your mind? Give the person an option to share additional concerns. Then begin to focus: So what’s the real challenge here for you? Already the conversation will deepen. Your job now is to find what’s most useful to look at. Ask: And what else (is the real challenge here for you)? Trust me, the person will have something. And there may be more. Probe again: Is there anything else? You’ll have most of what matters in front of you now. So get to the heart of it and ask: So...what’s the real challenge here for you?"

My final takeaway: bite your tongue. Don’t fill the silence. This may seem incredibly uncomfortable, but it creates space for learning and insight.

Read the Coaching Habit. Say less, ask more, and change the way you lead forever.

On urgency


You don’t need more time, you just need to decide.  

Some of the most innovative products or influential works or art out there WERE built in a day (or close to it). John Grisham wrote a best-seller in a day. Willie Nelson wrote his three best songs in a day. The first version of Facebook was shipped in a week. The best salesperson on the floor doesn’t think about when she is going to do her next call, she just calls.  

Chances are, you're way more prepared and further along than you think. Sure, you might break stuff—in so doing you learn way more than you ever could by not trying in the first place. 

If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late
— Reid Hoffman

Here's another one you hear a lot:

Most fast and break things

This one might be more difficult to apply to relationships, which might sound more like "move fast and build things." Where, in this case, the 'thing' is the person. In any event, it's your job to drive the relationship, process, product, or service forward. And, again, you don't need more time, you just need to execute. 


On getting referrals


"Sure, it's important to you, but why is it important to me?" 

Whether they realize it or not, that's what's going through their head when you ask them for referrals. 

Why would people give you referrals? First, is what you have to offer worth offering? We are literally exposed to thousands of brands and services every day, what makes yours so incredible? Start there, because maybe it's not...maybe there's something you need to change. 

Second, make it easy for someone to bring up what you do. You do this by being incredibly generous with your marketing efforts. Free content, clever packaging, making it specific and relevant. Then, of course, it's easy to bring something up when it's already helped you. You're wearing it, you benefited from it, you use it (or go to it) every day.

Finally, be the type of person people want to work with. There's a reason why software companies invest so much money in salespeople. They may be selling machines and robots, but it's the relationships that matter most. Be deserving of people passing your name along, whether they are or aren't; if you do the right thing, others will eventually notice.

The easiest way to help people understand that you are worthy of their referral is to tell a story. Be someone they can relate to.

The best way to get people to refer you is to back up your story with admirable action. 


Solving the problem before knowing the problem


We love solving things. 

Our best friend comes to us with a situation, we offer solutions. There is friction in the sales process, we know how to fix it. We feel sick, we take medicine.  

But here's the thing, solving the problem isn't the problem. The problem is knowing the real problem.

Diagnosing before prescribing is hard. It takes silence (something most of us aren't very good at). It takes asking more questions (when most of us would rather give answers). It takes overcoming the fear of uncertainty (aka the fear of saying 'I don't know').

Most of all, it takes practice. We have all been conditioned to immediately try to solve stuff. We are too often judged, ranked, and measured based on the number of solutions we offer rather than the number of real problems we identify. Probably because it's a lot easier to talk about features, hours worked, and time spent reviewing things and a lot more difficult to dive into the real problem.

What's the real problem? 
What's the real challenge here for you? 
What else?
What made you choose this course of action? 
What's important here for you? 
What else? 

If you're a recruiter, you're a marketer


What is direct marketing? 

It's the artful, meticulous, slow process of persuading people to stop what they are doing to come and join you. It's an outbound effort. It's a personalized approach. A successful direct marketing campaign demands that you have something worth changing for, even quitting for. Because this kind of marketing isn't just a one-time effort. It's playing the long game. It's taking the time to build genuine relationships—earning trust and gaining attention—counting on the fact that your endeavor will compound upon itself over time. 

Every great direct marketer knows that their job is to create problems, not merely solve them—which is also the job of a recruiter. The people you sell job opportunities to don't know what they don't know. They already have a job (usually). Then you come along and present a problem. Nothing stays the same at that point. They either quit and join a new company, or spend their time wondering about opportunity cost. 

Which begs the question (for every recruiter—marketer): IS the problem you are presenting worth quitting for? It's the job of the recruiter, therefore, to not only understand who they are recruiting for but also be an expert on them. Believe in their mission and have a clear understanding of what they require to be successful. Otherwise, you might sell the wrong thing to the wrong person.  

Here's the other thing: a good recruiter can probably sell you and convince you to join a company that's not a good fit, but a great one won't.

The 10X Rule: Grant Cardone


While reading The 10X Rule by Grant Cardone, I found myself raising an eyebrow out of skepticism about 10% of the time. However, I also realized that much of this book had me nodding my head the other 90%. 

As you can imagine, the book is all about taking massive action in order to achieve massive success. It's that same message over and over again. Granted, there is much criticism with this book. It does, at times, seem like Mr. Cardone's answer to everything in life is to just take more action. But there are still some valuable takeaway's that can help anyone change their mindset about how they look at reaching their goals. And, in the end, that's what this kind of book is about. It's less about concrete lessons and more about just trying to change how you look at things. Grant takes things to the extreme. It's difficult to believe him, at times, but you can't help but feel motivated to do more and work harder. Which, I think, was his ultimate goal in writing this. 

Here are a few of my takeaways:

1) Take massive action. In other words, look for ways you can create and make rather than wasting your time trying to find ways to save. Expand your efforts, don't contract. Contracting is a losers' mentality. Here's the thing, you're probably not doing enough. Your goals are too small, commitments too weak, and amount of action too little. The world has taught you to be conservative. That setting 'realistic goals' is the way to go. But setting these kinds of goals is a form of retreating. What might seem like an obstacle, is actually the way. Eat your fears. Set massive goals. Overcommit, even. When something seems undoable, start taking action right away before you can start overthinking things. Take massive action quickly and it will seem like you are fearless. 

2) Being obsessed is good. Look up the definition of 'obsessed.' Children are obsessed. It's what helps them learn at a rapid rate. It's what keeps them curious. Quit thinking in terms of either/or and start thinking in terms of all and everything. Successful people think in terms of “all,” whereas unsuccessful people tend to place limits on themselves. They may believe that “If I am rich, I can't be happy” or “If I thrive in my career, then I won't have time to be a good father, husband, or spiritual individual.” In fact, it's interesting to notice that the people who put limits on what is available to them are also most inclined to talk about “balance.” However, this is a flawed manner of thinking that neither time management nor balance will resolve. Most people only work enough so that it feels like work, whereas successful people work at a pace that gets such satisfying results that work is a reward. Truly successful people don't even call it work; for them, it's a passion. Why? Because they do enough to win! An easy way to achieve balance is to simply work harder while you are at the office. This won't just leave you with more time; it will allow you to experience the rewards of your job and make it feel less like work and more like success. Try to take this approach: Be grateful to go to work, and see how much you can get done in the time you have. Make it a race, a challenge—make it fun.

Week 27 '18 reflection


I'll start off this weekly reflection with a quote:

We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.
— Carlos Castaneda

As I get ready to start my new job tomorrow and kickstart my new career as a recruiter and career coach, I'm reminded that it will be hard work. But as I reflect on the times in my life when I shied away from work, I recall always feeling tired and unmotivated. I would much rather feel tired and driven. However, something interesting happens when we work hard; our energy seems to compound upon itself. The days I wake up early, write my blog post, get a workout in, do some meditation and reading all before 8:30 am are the days I feel most energized and motivated. I also fall asleep way faster. That's the advantage of going into the office every day. You have something structured to hold you accountable. It's harder to do that when you work from home. I personally think I'm healthier and happier when I go into the office each day. I meet people. I'm more motivated. I get more done...I'm certainly looking forward to getting back into that routine. 

On another note, the Sunday scaries are real! The way I have learned to deal with them is through goal-setting. There's nothing like reviewing previous goals and setting new ones for the coming week and (in this case) quarter to get you going. At least it gets me going. Seriously, nothing motivates me more than a good goal-setting session. 

So next time you're feeling the Sunday angst, try taking some time to reflect upon your previous week (or 90-days) and create an action plan for the next week and, if necessary, quarter.

A culture of caring


People may or may not hear what you say, but they always remember what you do. 

You're not the exception, you're the reason. If you care, others will follow. 

Leaders may eat last, but they are the first to apply the rules to themselves. They are the first to show transparency. They are the first to be accountable. They are the first to sacrifice. 

Playing for free


I hear a lot of musicians sharing their gifts in the Subway and on the streets, but today I heard a unique sound I never heard before. This guy was making amplified sounds with a didgeridoo while, at the same time, drumming with his hands and keeping a beat with his feet on a hi-hat cymbal. It was impressive and it sounded amazing. 

But something interesting and obnoxious happened every time he played. As soon as he noticed a crowd begin to gather, he would stop and almost yell at the gazing spectators demanding they either contribute money or take one of his cards to pass along. "Why don't you contribute instead of just gathering data for your own pleasure!" He would shout. Needless to say, he lost his fanbase pretty quickly. 

Sometimes—well, most of the time—you need to be willing to do things for free in order to earn trust and gain attention. If you love it, you would do it for free, anyway. Plus playing for free pays off in other ways you don't even plan on. It's rare to get a crowd these days in the Subway. Everyone's got places to go and there are lots of talented performers demanding your attention. Not to mention the variables that make it difficult to draw a crowd—loud noises, hot, mucky conditions, etc. So if you're lucky enough to provide something people like, don't all the sudden get cocky and turn your something special into something distasteful. 

If people are into what you're offering, chances are you got there by being generous in one way or another. As you continue to grow and scale, remember that people like free. They will wait in long lines for free. They will share things (your things) for free. They will trust you for free.

Playing for free always pays off in the end. 

Here's to saying yes


Saying 'yes' gets a bad rap. It's the popular thing for entrepreneurs to counsel people to learn to say 'no.' But the thing is, saying 'yes' leads to way more opportunities than saying 'no' ever will. 

Saying 'no' doesn't get you out of your comfort zone, saying 'yes' will. 

Saying 'no' is valuable when it comes to personal principles and specific commitments, but for everything else, saying 'yes' will only open doors and push you to exceed your own limitations. 

If you have a lot on your plate, that's a good problem to have. So say 'yes' to your clients, your boss, your spouse, your kids, your friends. Say 'yes' to things that will push you in the direction you want to go. 

'No' is a powerful word. Save it for those rare occasions when you need to stand by your values. But saying 'no' should never be your default answer. Try saying 'yes' to everything. See where it elevates you. 



Smiles are free


When you're walking down the street, minding your own business, you meet people with your smile. It takes you out of your own little world on connects you to others'.

It puts everyone in a good mood. A smile makes you feel happier and it's a gift to other people who, in return, might pass along that gift to other people later on. 

Meeting people is about making their lives better. Give like crazy, embrace generosity, and make others more successful.

Smiling is just a tactic, but a powerful one. It's a statement, a conscious decision that, no matter your circumstances, rights, privileges, and freedoms you have control over something: your attitude. You have the chance a to make a choice—how will you feel today? 

Feeling unprepared


It's easy to spot the tourists in New York City, just notice the people constantly looking around, either in awe or pure confusion. They also usually have maps and are trying their best to navigate where they are going. 

You can study a map, read articles, talk to the 'locals,' watch videos, etc. but to a certain extent, when you are visiting a new place you will still feel (at times) a little lost and unprepared. Something always comes up that causes a moment of panic. 

This happens when we are trying something new or doing something for the first time. We will always feel unprepared. 

We've been trained to not be okay with this. We, unfortunately, compare this feeling of unpreparedness to how we felt when we took a quiz in school and forgot everything we had previously memorized. 

This feeling of being unprepared is not a happy feeling. So we might be tempted to take certain measures to ensure we limit the number of times we feel unprepared. But therein lies the paradox. The things we feel most unprepared for are the very things we should embrace and pursue. For they are things that bring the most satisfaction. They will be the sources of our growth and development. 

Another thing about the 'feeling' of being unprepared. There comes a point when this feeling is a choice. You may still be leaping into the unknown, but you've seen it play out enough times that you have an idea of how it possibly ends. I'm convinced that this ability to remain confident in ambiguity is one of the most important skills someone can develop—especially when it comes to navigating one's career and, of course, life. 

Reverse engineer it


What do people want to read? Write an article about that. 

What does your dream team look like? Recruit the first person.

What is a product people wish they had? Outline it. Sketch it out. Then begin building it.

What would your ideal career look like? Start from the end, work your way back to where you are today, plan it out into steps, start by executing step one. Don't stop until you've accomplished all the steps.

What about your life? If you knew you couldn't fail, what would it look like? Where would you live? What would you be doing on daily basis? Dream a little here. Imagine every detail. Write it all down. Start with the easiest thing on the list. It's more doable than you think.

Week 26 '18 reflection


It's not often you get the chance to just veg. So when those chances come, take advantage of them while you can.

I don't start my new job for another week so I'm doing all of the exploring I can of the city while I still have the chance. Cruising around the city on my bike, checking out different neighborhoods, trying new foods, is still one of my favorite parts about living in New York City. I've had the chance to see some really beautiful things and meet some incredible people. 

On Saturday, I went to Brooklyn Bridge park and played basketball by myself. Shooting hoops has always been somewhat therapeutic for me. I get in this rhythm and become so involved in the moment that I'm able to just cancel everything else out. With every made shot I start feeling better and better about my life situation, with every miss, I feel motivated to tweak some things so that I make my next one. 

It's so important we have these kinds of hobbies in our lives. Something we can go to that helps us put things in perspective. I have a few hobbies that do that for me, I've mentioned riding my bike and playing basketball, but traveling does that for me, too—as does writing or watching the sun set. 

I get the chance to do more of these things this coming week. But I am also so looking forward to starting work in a week.

How to keep a customer


Most of us have our 'go-to's' when it comes to eating out. Places where we know the staff and they know us. What keeps us coming back? Why did we choose those particular places? 

They, no doubt, sell something worth buying. The service is probably pretty good and the prices are within budget. Is there anything else? What do restaurants do that keeps the customers around?

How about doing the right thing? 

Today, we ate at the marvelous pizza joint on the pier, Fornino. Great pizza, cool vibes, friendly service. But there was a hiccup, we arrived at 10:30 am and ordered a pizza. The lady that helped us was new and didn't know that they only start making pizza's after 11:00 am. So instead, we got a sandwich even though we paid for a pizza. It wasn't a big deal. The manager apologized and gave us a free drink. By 11:00 am, we were still there watching the world cup when the manager brought us a freshly cooked margarita pizza. 'Here's your pizza you ordered on the house, sorry about the confusion.' Talk about doing the right thing. We couldn't thank him enough. Fornino gets our 5-star review. It get's our word-of-mouth recommendation. It earned our loyalty. 

And that's how you keep a customer. 

Of false imperatives


When something seems like an emergency, it's usually because we are ill prepared. Our anxiety flairs and we turn something small into something urgent. Project deadlines turn into do-or-die scenarios. Simple assignments become mission-critical ventures. 

It's easy to become emotional. We are, after-all, emotional beings. But this way of doing things never scales and is certainly not sustainable.

When everything becomes urgent, nothing receives the kind of attention it deserves. 

Take your time and prepare for what is to come. It's usually not as bad as you make it out in your mind to be. Do the reading. Do the research. Slow down so that you get it right. 

The modern workplace


Work to live? 

Or live to work? 

The modern workplace is what you make of it. There are some industries that demand more than others but the terms are still dictated by you. Your attitude is the difference.

Also, purpose and intent matter. If you show me two people who work at McDonald's, both making minimum wage, but one plans to open up McDonald's franchises when she grows up and the other is just working there so he can buy more video games, I don't have to tell you which one will be the more engaged worker. 

Just like you dress for the job you want, establish habits and make decisions based on the career you want. It's your mindset that matters. 

There is a huge difference between getting a job and CHOOSING a job. The modern workplace is made possible by things like Glassdoor and LinkedIn. Do your research. You're going to be spending hours upon hours with these people. Where you work determines what you learn and partially who you become. You have so much more power than you think. Trust that the right opportunity is out there. 

Your time is valuable. Not every product, service, experience, client, or JOB is worth your time, attention, or love. Be picky. You deserve that much. And the modern workplace landscape allows for it. But more importantly, be the kind of person that companies would kill to hire. The pickiness goes both ways. 

If it is to be,


it's up to me. (By 'me' I mean 'you,' not me).

This is the kind of attitude it takes to be successful. 

You need to believe that, no matter the problem, you can figure it out. Even if you don't know how to do something, be confident that you possess the ability to figure it out. There will always be reasons to come up with excuses, but those who persist and take extreme ownership of the situation always come out on top. 

It's okay to be unfamiliar with something, as long as you remain determined with a promise that you will either learn it, solve it, discover its cause, or find someone who can. 

If it is to be, it's up to me. When something looks like a problem, approach it like an opportunity. Think of it as a challenge. Something to conquer. Then, no longer is it a 'grind' or a drag' but something that stretches you, inspires you, something that can (and should) excite you. 

Success is overcoming a challenge.

If it is to be, it's up to me.