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Icebreaker

Activate New Users By Doing The Minimum

When it comes to starting a new venture — success follows a singular focus on the needs of today. It does not follow the concerns about the unpredictably predictable shit storm of tomorrow. Finding focus in the midst of deep uncertainty is  akin to plowing a boat through several feet of ice that’s gathered on top of the water – it’s really hard.

 

Anytime you’re starting something new, think of yourself as an icebreaker seeking to maintain momentum regardless of what’s happening around you. Decisions must be made while constantly surveying weather conditions, ice thickness, and the status of your vessel. There’s no option to navigate to open water or have tim to process and think before you make a decision.

 

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Vulnerable Dog

Strength Through Vulnerability

When it comes to thinking about great leaders, I’ve been conditioned to immediately zero in on characteristics that reflect a strong personality– traits like confidence, decisiveness, vision, and fortitude. But are these “strong” traits enough to be successful today?

 

There are countless leaders across industries that match this description of strength – from Steve Jobs to Jack Welch to George Patton to Vince Lombardi, and Mark Zuckerburg. There’s no emotional coddling coming from this group – only an expectation of greatness and drive.

 

But over the course of the last few years, these strong personality leadership traits have started to feel incomplete. Command and control leadership has fallen out of favor amongst the creative class. In the creative space, intrinsic motivation reins supreme, making one thing crystal clear: Modern leadership demands more than traditional traits of strength.

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Football Chess

One Plus Anything Equals Zero

In football, the quarterback is the undisputed leader of the offense and the bell cow for the entire team. The quarterback calls the plays, touches the ball just about every play, and perhaps most importantly – dictates the successes or failures of the team based on his performance.

 

So what happens when you have two quarterbacks that are both good enough to play? Maybe Jimmy is a better passer and Joe is a better runner? Perhaps Connor throws a better deep-ball, while Tyler has laser-like accuracy on underneath routes. It’s even possible that the coach sees the two quarterbacks as carbon copies of one another, each with equally good skills across the board.

 

Here’s the harsh reality in football: When a team claims to have two quarterbacks, it means they don’t have one. It means there’s no quarterback that’s shown the intangibles to truly lead the team and the coaches are hedging their bets.

 

Here’s what I say: Pick a leader, coach.
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Hoos Racing

Stop Looking Ahead and Start Racing To Right Now

Back in 2009, I made the trek from Chicago to Orlando for the Capital One Bowl college football game between my beloved Michigan State Spartans and the Georgia Bulldogs. I’m not a Disney guy – so what’s a man to do with extra time in Central Florida on a hot day in December?

 

Go-Kart Racing. Really fast Go-Kart Racing.

 

I knew I was enjoying my time navigating the track when I started shouting with glee to nobody in particular. And even once I was conscious of what I was doing, I still screamed. It felt amazing.

 

I was completely focused on what was happening on the track: stepping on the gas emphatically to get every mile per hour possible out of the engine, maneuvering the steering wheel with authority to beat the guy next to me without hitting him (at least not too hard) or running into the wall, and strategizing how to pass the car in front of me.

 

My time on the track was so blissful that I’m still talking about it six years later.

 

Here’s why: It was the first time in way too long that I actually left my worries & ambitions behind to focus 100% of my energy on living in the moment.

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Tee shirt city background

Learning From the Dingy Undershirts In Your Dresser Drawer

“You’re only as fashionable as the oldest white undershirt you still wear.”

 

Many years ago, I read this quote as part of a fashion piece in my favorite magazine, Men’s Health. Rifling through the clothes in my dresser on a recent Saturday, these words came racing back into my conscious mind.

 

While I can’t say that I typically spend a lot of time examining the white undershirts in my dresser, there was something insightful that came from taking the time to look at these tee shirts through the lens of the Men’s Health quote.

 

I discovered that over time I had let it become normal to have and use old yellowed shirts. Without ever making a conscious choice, I’d come to accept dingy shirts that didn’t reflect how I wanted to dress or present myself. Not cool. It was downright embarrassing looking at some of the shirts in my drawer that day.

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Seats

When 20 People Walked Out of My Presentation Before It Started

I’m a big believer that with everything you do – you either win or learn. If you take the time to process information and make yourself better, that’s a learn – not a loss.

 

Welp. I definitely learned recently.

 

For the second year in a row, I joined forces with a good friend of mine, Adam Brown, to speak at the Michigan Business Professionals of American conference, a gathering of 2,000+ top high school students launching their business career. As part of the conference, students present to a panel of judges and attend a handful of talks called Legacy Launchers. Adam & I delivered a Legacy Launcher presentation as part of the conference.

 

The presentation itself went spectacularly well. Our content was top-notch and we were locked in with our delivery to the two hundred high school students in attendance – using examples that resonated and the right balance of fun & professional. Adam & I left feeling like we nailed it thanks to a long line of students that came to talk with us after the presentation, most armed with excellent questions about their career and plenty of compliments on the talk. Students even used social media to share they learned a lot from our talk & said it was “thought-provoking” and “really inspirational”.

 

So where’s the problem?

 

The title of our talk was terrible. It didn’t resonate with the audience and when we projected our title slide on the screen, about 20 students actually walked out of the room. That’s bad. They thought they were sitting in a room where a history lesson was about to start.

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