Monday, September 1, 2014

Risk Business... LIFE

Learning how to be more
Interdependent and to
Function better by linking
Everyone together!

Try to imagine the perfect family… can you?  For many, it may be hard to believe that one could exist, but for me as a kid, mine was. I was youngest of 4 siblings growing up in a middle income family with access to all of what one might expect a perfect family to have… living in a nice house in a quiet neighborhood, having frequent family get-togethers with the many extended relatives that all lived close by, being in a close knit church community and receiving all the supports that come with that, having numerous opportunities to play a variety of sports and just enjoying the freedom of being an adventurous a kid who had pretty much everything a kid could hope to have. It wasn’t a life of over-indulgence like so many kids of today have. Rather, it was a life where love was generously provided, where I felt absolutely safe and secure and where I rarely, if ever, felt any significant disappointment or loss. It was as “Leave it to Beaver” as any family could possibly be. Simply put, I loved my life as a child.
When I was growing up, my parents did everything imaginable, or at least everything they knew how to do, to ensure that I would become a success, both personally and professionally. After high-school, I attended one of the best colleges, graduating with a major in Business and within 10 years, I was working in management for a major high-tech company, holding a sizeable portfolio and making six figures. My personal life was filled with much joy. I had married my high school sweetheart. We lived in a beautiful home, drove nice cars and had two children – both handsome boys – and had one on the way. We served in our local church, where we spent a lot of time helping young people. We were also involved in the local hockey community, where we were always doing our best to help others. I was duplicating for my children the same life that I had as a kid. Life couldn’t have been better; I was on top of the world… or so I thought.
Fast forward to 2007 and in a matter of a few years, all hell broke loose.  Everything I had worked so hard to build seemed to unravel before my eyes. Of the three boys we had, one was diagnosed with type 1 Juvenile Diabetes and another received a dual diagnosis of both type 1 Diabetes and Cystic Fribrosis – a double whammy.  I was surprised to discover that my marriage was not the perfect relationship that I had thought it was. It did not take long before I was divorced. Struggling with so many personal issues, my performance at work was affected and shortly thereafter, I was let go from the job I loved. Within such a short period of time, I had to deal with multiple losses – the health of two my children, my family, my home and my career.
As I reflect back on those times, in spite of the best efforts of my parents, I had never been prepared for the many challenges life was throwing at me. In some ways, the idyllic life I had as a child magnified my feelings of loss. I felt very alone, partly of my own doing because my way had always been to keep personal matters private and because the pain of my many issues was so intense. However, it was also because few people seemed truly interested in listening to me talk about my struggles or providing any meaningful support.
The next 5 years would turn out to be a journey into no man’s land. Not only could I not find a job that was anything remotely close to the one I had, it was hard  to find a job period. I did some consulting, although that was somewhat inconsistent and required that I augment my income by other means. Jobs were not plentiful at the time, which meant I didn’t have the freedom to be choosey, but I did find a job working for a company requiring that I work full-time Monday to Friday, but also evenings and weekends. I was doing the best I could to support my family but in the end, my situation was financially unsustainable. I had no choice but to claim bankruptcy.
During the chaos of those times, I needed help on many levels. I was struggling daily just to cope with everything that demanded my time and money.  However, I was shocked to discover that the people who I thought would “be there”, weren’t. To add to the other losses, my father and chief mentor had been diagnosed with cancer and died not long afterward. Without his gentle, calming presence to help guide me, I needed the support of people who could “be there” and who could help me to get back on track both personally and professionally. Fortunately, there were a select few who stepped up to the plate and with their support, I was able to finally find solid ground beneath my feet again. If it wasn’t for these people and the support they offered me, I don’t know what I would have done. I’m so grateful to those who were willing to stand beside me to help me get through those trying times. It was profoundly challenging having to go from being someone  who so often was a help to others, to being someone who needed help himself… and who needed to be able to ask for this – a very humbling experience, but also one that provided much opportunity. I don’t think I am alone in feeling more comfortable being the helper than being the helped. However, I learned in a completely new way how true the axiom is that every time there is someone(s) who serves in the role of being the “helper”, so too must there also be someone(s) who functions in the role of being the “helped” and that we all need to be prepared to perform in both roles.
I have always been passionate about serving and helping people. Doing so brings me great satisfaction as does seeing others succeed at something. Yet, I have discovered from others and from my life journey that people often live their lives with so much disappointment and regret. They are either not happy with their career and thus their personal life suffers or the opposite can be true and that, as occurred with me, they don’t necessarily know what to do when this happens. Where does one go for help to manage and cope with life’s many challenges? We are taught to be independent beings, but innately, we are also collectively wired to be interdependent with one another. These two paradigms – independence and interdependence – are always in tension with one another and the challenge we each face is to find balance between the two. We grow up wanting to be able to “do it myself” and yet as we go through life, we are each challenged in unique ways to discover that we cannot. If you consider the analogy of your life as a department store, where each section is connected to the other, I like to think of our lives as having two distinct departments – Our Personal and our Professional and that We balance what we do between both of them. Success or failure in one department can determine the success of the other. If you want to take it to another level… the profitability of the Personal department determines the profitability of the Professional department and vice versa.
We are not meant to be alone and because of this, I believe that a collective wisdom also exists among us all as a society. Because we tend to learn as we get older and because as a society we have such a large generational and aging group in the baby-boomers, so too do I believe that they have a collective wisdom from which we can learn.
I created  The Mentor+ Project  to be a part of the solution and know there are others that want to be the same. We observed that there was a need to build a mechanism that could bridge those who can help with those who need that help. The Mentor+ Project focuses on bringing individuals or groups together in a way that makes it easy and simple to get personal and actionable advice.   Having struggled in my own life in many ways, I know this would have been helpful to me. Hence, the reason for this project and why we are proud to now announce that we have a mobile app called Hitch+. This is unlike any other social or professional community as it aims to provide the help and advice you need to find success in both your career and personal lives. It is also easy and fun to use.
I hope you join us on the journey as we move forward together with our lives the best they can be! If this sounds good to you, please download our app and check us out.  We appreciate you giving us a try and getting your feedback.
A star wants to see himself rise to the top. A leader wants to see those around him rise to the top.” – Simon Sinek

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Doing Business In Deep Waters and Getting a Yes For Help

I just listened to a talk from one of my favorite inspirational speakers. The talk was about "Doing Business in Deep Waters". The speaker talked about people doing extraordinary things and how to spend your time. If you’re going to do anything great in life there is always going to be opposition, setbacks, delays, and critics. Many people get discouraged because of these things. People will ask themselves “why is this happening to me?” The answer is that you’re breaking new ground because you’re making progress. Those that go into deep waters with big dreams are going to face big challenges. Being in deep waters means that you’re not in the shallow waters with ordinary problems. When you’re in deep waters you’re trying to make a mark... you’re a history maker... you’re a world changer.

You need to know there are always going to be critics, and when you have big dreams you cannot expect ordinary problems. People don't talk about average people; they talk about extraordinary people. So take it as a complement when you are criticized, because it goes with the territory. You may try to move forward but find yourself facing major challenges. This is because you have a major destiny, and because you’re an extraordinary person you will face challenges. The good news is that there are people out there willing to help you with these challenges and help you come through those obstacles. Be selective in how and who you spend your time with. The critics that come against you will only bring you back to shallow waters and waste your time. Don't lose sleep over this, but stay in the deep waters and do what you’re destined to do. Set your face like flint and run your own race.

Getting a Yes for Help 

Often times when we are trying to move forward and overcome obstacles we don't know where to turn. When we reach out for help the challenge becomes getting people to say YES to our request. I am passionate about mentoring and paying it forward by helping those in need. I continue to try to create new ways to help build bridges for those that are looking for help and those that are willing to help. Connecting people has been one of my passions and this is the reason I created a mobile app called Hitch+. Hitch+ will give you the ability to explore daily insightful content, to share advice and easily get connected with great experts.

We are also excited to now have the ability to get you connected with over 10,000 experts through Clarity is a community of experts who want to help and have created a better way to scale the delivery of their expertise. If you want to know more about how you can get help or be involved with helping others then read Clay Herbert's article: The New Way to Say No (that's actually yes).

We love to hear from you. Please join us to share your dreams, give and get advice, and connect with great experts. Click on the logo below to find out how.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Keep Your Vision in Front of You

I spent some time this weekend thinking about the vision I have for myself and my 3 sons over the next number of years. There are things I see every day that remind me of what I am believing for, things that inspire me and ignite my faith.

There is a Proverb in the Bible that states: "Where there is no vision, the people perish."

With no vision, it's easy to get stuck where you are and expect nothing to happen. I know because at times with all the pressures of this world to achieve wealth and success it becomes difficult to know exactly where you fit in.

I admit my inspiration comes from some of the great mentors I have had in my life. The ones that want to make a difference and do something that will effect a change or impact someone's life.

Everyday I try to make it a goal to make a small impact whether at work, with my boys or people I meet socially.

I continue to develop and validate my own ideas of how to help others not only have a vision but a BIG vision for their lives. This includes teaching and helping people create ideas for practical, daily steps to set a vision as well as creating reminders. It's not enough to just dream it, you need to see it and let a seed take root in your heart.

If you have a big vision, then start believing in your heart that it will take root and see it come to completion. You will be amazed at what happens!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

5 Lessons I Learned On Commitment From Rocky Balboa

The past few weeks I have spent a number of days in intense meetings with a company that I am involved in. It is inspiring to see the leadership’s commitment to ensure that the company is successful in the future. One of the highlights for me was the passion they have to make sure people are growing and being challenged to be the best they can be at their job. It was not just talk but they are putting together action plans so that individuals have the support and mentoring they need in order to be successful.

As I reflected on the past few weeks I could not help think of the great Rocky Balboa (2006) speech he gave his son. Everyone loves to win but only winners love the process. It's exactly about how you come back, how you deal with failures, because a person who is truly trying to succeed will always have more failures than successes.

Here are the 5 Lessons I learned from Rocky's speech on commitment:

Don't Stop Being You
Somewhere along the line in my career and personal life I pushed myself so hard toward success that I forgot how to be me. When failure struck I allowed people and the things of this world to beat me. I started scrambling and struggled to do my best to make everyone happy. Don't stop being you because somewhere the YOU and your talents will find happiness.

Stop Looking for Someone to Blame
This can be so much of a distraction and a slippery slope. Get up every day and work on how YOU can improve and be better. At the end of the day, reflect on the wins and failures and make the next day even better.

Keep Moving Forward
We have all heard of the phrase “roll with the punches”. The key to overcoming adversity is to take the punches, forgive yourself and others and become flexible when dealing with difficult issues.

Take the Hits
You are either in or you are out. If you are 100% committed to something and willing to take what life throws at you, eventually you will win and become the person you’re supposed to be.

Believe in Yourself
The fact is no one believes more in yourself than YOU do. Get up everyday believing that you are working toward achieving your goals and win.

Here's the clip from the movie if you have never seen it before...enjoy.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Building my personal brand and not trying to screw it up.

It's been awhile since I posted a personal blog as I have been finding it tough to write. It's not always easy to sit down and put "pen to paper" that people would find worth reading and helpful. I like to mostly share some of my personal journey with the hope of helping someone be better at what they do.

In my last blog post I shared some personal stories of my own failures and some points on what I am doing to find success. One of the things I am working hard on is improving my personal brand in order to fix my weaknesses. For me it's finding the right mentor(s) that are not telling me how to run my personal, career or business life based on their strengths and experiences, but understanding my weaknesses and how I can fix them.

I think a mentor should treat you like a research project. Instead of telling me his life is the blueprint of success they openly acknowledge that there is no single path to success, what is right for them may not be right for you.

 Here are some things to ensure you don't screw up your mentoring relationship:

1. As an entrepreneur or career professional don't leech life lessons from your mentor but engage in with them in order to seek the answers as they are relevant to your business or career path.

2. Help your mentor learn. Mentors should be learning as they are guiding you through the process of making you successful.

3. Mentors should be uncomfortable with the status quo. Mentors should be interested in making themselves better as they are making you better.

4.  The best mentors don't play by the rules.

What are some things you are doing to improve your personal brand?

Here is my online Prezume using Prezi. Would you use this tool to increase your brand? Do you think this would capture interest to potential hires? Recruiters?

Monday, March 11, 2013

10 Ways To Handle Adversity

Guest post by Blake Young, Mentor+me member

I've always considered myself a freelance mentor with zero buyers. I may not own my own company or have throngs of underlings who survive on my whim, but I have been through many blenders in life. With each brush with adversity I noted several commonalities that would inadvertently help me through the next one.

1. Never take life too seriously. Humanity is nothing but a giant mess worthy of a good laugh.

2. Avoid hatred. It's an unnecessary burden well worth abandoning.

3. Peaceful acts of protest can be the most potent.

4. Always have an escape plan, no matter what - even when you're taking the high road. Some evil folks can't handle being ignored or failing to intimidate you, and they will come after you. Either be where they can't find you or end up somewhere for which they will pay dearly for hurting you.

5. You're never alone. Someone always can relate and usually has it worse than you.

6. Weird is the new normal. Embrace it and don't be afraid to express it - so long as it's totally legal to do so.

7. Never bully. You never know who will ignore rule #2.

8. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, except for the deliberate, immoral ones. The wisest people have the most scars.

9. Never attack. Only defend. The judge and jury will side with you.

10. Be nice. A smile will get you far in life on its own.

Memorize one or two of the above and just wing the rest.

Blake Young --
MBA, Bio-medical Management Concentration; BBA with honors, Management Information Systems; University of Memphis. Humor writer and dedicated sympathizer. Computer geek and high school survivor. Likes nachos.