What do anxiety and gratitude have in common

Anxiety can be thought of as a real

What is anxiety exactly?

It is the feeling of uneasiness due to the belief that something isn’t right. This feeling can vary in intensity depending on how long you focus on it. As Tony Robbins said, “Where focus goes, energy flows.”

Anxiety can also be thought of as a real feeling about an imaginary threat.

Whether it’s the result of insecurity or ADHD associated restlessness, anxiety can seriously sabotage your productivity.

So when it comes to problems like this, I’m a fan of of simple solutions that have great impact.

Here’s an exercise you can use to help you shift your focus on what isn’t working to everything that’s wonderful just the way it is. In fact, I’ve created a downloadable pdf for you so you can jump right in.

All you need to do is keep a tally of every time you say, “Thank you,” as well as every time you’re aware that you smiled. Then check your score at the end of the day.

Why do you think this works? It’s because:

1. We enjoy high scores
2. We have a wonderful way of seeing what we’re looking for
3. It helps us decide to focus on what’s right about our lives
4. It’s surprisingly simple

Here’s your template, click here for a printable version, do this today, let me know how it goes.

Thanks for being you.

ThanksAndSmile copy


How a dead car battery was the cherry on top of a customer service sundae


What’s the best customer service experience you’ve ever had?

Mine was this past week while attending the LDA International Conference at the Chicago Hilton Hotel. 

I often travel for business and each time I do, I feel homesick. However, everywhere I turned there seemed to be someone eager to take care of me. I don’t know how the Hilton brand trains their staff, but they have mastered the process of hiring the right people and training them to be their best.

Every person I encountered had a big smile and was bursting with enthusiasm. Every person, from the gentleman who checked me in, to the hostess at the restaurant and the gentleman helping me find my way around that massive hotel was eager to serve.

The more I felt taken care of the safer I felt, and the more I was able to relax. Do your customers feel safe with you? When they call you do they begin to relax the moment they hear your voice or the voice of one of your employees, because they know they’re about to be served instead of given the run around? 

My experience with this staff reminded me that the act of asking you whether you’d like more water can be transformed from a rote action to a moment between two people, the difference being in how you choose to do it and who you choose to be while doing it.

The last hurrah came on the second to the last day of the conference. My wife Cathy texted me to let me know she was sick and was going home early from work. A few minutes later I received a call from the elementary school letting me know my youngest son was in the nurse’s office with a fever. A quick text to Cathy with this news so she could pick him up on her way home.

My oldest son Zach had been eagerly awaiting to test for his driver’s license, which was scheduled to take place the next day. I knew that with a sick wife and a sick child that it was up to me to be there to drive him. I realized I needed to cut my stay short and head home.

I quickly packed, checked out and felt an intense sense of focus as I climbed into my car to begin the trip home. But NOT SO FAST.

I turned the key, but nothing happened. Two more tries then I realized with much dread, the battery was dead. I began thinking of how much it was going to cost me to call a service shop to jump start the car, not to mention how long I was going to have to wait.

So I hustled back down to the hotel where I approached the concierge with my problem. To be clear, I decided to park in the Hilton parking deck. I told the young lady behind the desk of my conundrum and she shot me a smile before directing me to another window not far from where I was standing.

She informed me to let the person at the window know what I’d just told her and that he’d take care of it. I did what I was told and was met with yet another smile.

The gentleman at the window asked me where my car was, upon telling him he replied, “I’ll have someone meet you there in two minutes.” It wasn’t long before I saw two Hilton Employees approaching my car with what appeared to be a portable charger.

I popped the car’s hood, and about three minutes later one of the men made a gesture for me to start the car. BINGO, on the first turn, it started right up. As I heard the sound of the engine running the stress melted from my body.

What I thought was going to be an expensive, several hour ordeal was solved in about 15 minutes by a string of smiling Hilton Hotel employees who knew they could help, were committed to being helpful, and made a point of helping me feel like the most important guest they had.

The final smile I experienced at the end of my stay was the one that grew across my face. 

It’s the first time I’ve stayed at a Hilton but they’ve earned a customer for life. This stay has inspired me to step up my customer service game even more, I hope it does the same for you.

Thanks for being you.


The art of the conversation

Have you had the experience of meaning well, but choosing your words poorly? Of course, it’s a common experience.

I was so socially awkward growing up that this experience happened to me several times daily and there seemed to always be a line of people who were upset with me for some reason.

Then at some point in my early 20’s, I decided to commit myself to figuring out how communication and relationships worked. That way, I hoped, I could spend my energy on connecting instead of apologizing.

Today, I want to share with you, a tool I created to help myself and my clients learn to be so mindful of how they’re speaking, that it’s as though they knew exactly what to say and how to say it in that moment. Does this interest you?

I’ve even created a handy graphic to help us walk through this approach together.

Art of the Conversation

What I refer to as the “Art of the ConversationTM” stems from what I’ve come to understand as the essential building blocks of every conversation. My intention is for the above graphic to look similar to a tree, therefore conveying that with strong roots you’ll also have strong branches.

I believe that before you even begin speaking, you must have a goal in mind. In other words, why are you having this conversation? Do you intend to convey information in the form of a statement, or ask a question in order to gather information?

This belief alone makes sure that I dispense with mindless chit chat and get to the point. 

Once you’ve determined a goal for the conversation, then you can move into the specific Zones above to choose the specifics of the statements (give) and questions (get). Trust me, this is quite easy to do once you do it a few times. Ready to jump in with a few examples? Great.

Let’s say you want to invite a colleague out to lunch. Your goal is to find out whether your colleague wants to join you for lunch. Keep in mind, you’re not looking to convince your colleague, you simply want an answer to your request. Yes or no is fine, it’s an answer you desire.

Note, this approach doesn’t assume you don’t know how to speak properly, it’s intention is to help you be more mindful of the purpose and the impact of your communication.

In order to accomplish your goal you can begin with a statement (give) then follow it with a question (get). For example, “Excuse me Sue, I’d really like to take you to lunch later today so we can continue that great conversation we were having yesterday. Is that something you’d like to do?” 

Before we break this statement down, I’d like you to take a look at the diagram above and notice that there are four zones that we draw from to inform what we’re going to construct our statements and questions with.

Zone 1 (The roots of the tree)

  • Goal – the desired outcome of the conversation.
  • Give – statements that convey to the listener what your goal is.
  • Get – questions you ask to collect the information you need in order to accomplish the goal.

Zone 2 (Experiences)

Describes the impact we’d like our words to have on the listener. Do we want to impact their: 

  • Emotions
  • Thoughts or
  • Actions

The best communication impacts all three.

Zone 3 (Subjects)

Determines whether you’re discussing a:

  • Person
  • Place
  • Thing

Zone 4 (Timeframes)

Makes sure you’re clear on the time during which the subject of the conversation takes place.

  • Past
  • Present
  • Future

Now, let’s break the earlier statement down to see how we used this approach to construct it:

The statement is, “Excuse me Sue, I’d really like to take you to lunch today so we can continue the conversation we were having yesterday. Is that something you’d like to do?”

Here’s are the zone elements addressed by this statement. . .

“Excuse me Sue (PERSON), I’d really like to take (ACTION) you (PERSON) to lunch (THING) later today (FUTURE) so we can continue that great conversation (THING) we were having yesterday (PAST). Is that something you’d (PERSON) like (EMOTION) to do (ACTION)?” The question, “Is that something you’d like to do” is your goal as you’re seeking an answer to it.

Notice how complete this request is because it includes every zone. Often, until we know better, we tend to make incomplete requests such as, “Hey, want to do lunch today,” which doesn’t give enough information for the listener to know what the benefit of going to lunch with you may be.

Practice using this strategy today and let me know what’s different in your awareness of the words you choose and the impact you have on the listener.

Thanks for being you.

How to avoid one of the biggest conversation boo boos you make


Have you ever discovered after the fact that someone made a decision for you and defended it by saying, “I assumed you’d be okay with it?” Me too.

The reason this happens is because of what I refer to as the “conversation of one.” Meaning, a person, in her own mind, plays out the conversation she believes she’d have with you, complete with your answers and makes a decision based on that conversation.

Here’s an example. Let’s say she wants to invite a friend to a movie, and without even asking the friend she has this conversation, “Why don’t I ask Cheryl? Well, on second thought, she’s been busy lately and she’s probably tired so she’d likely say ‘No.’ I’ll just ask Jill instead.” Make sense?

Later she finds out Cheryl was not only available but would have loved to see the movie with her. 

This is an all too common habit practiced by men and women alike and is a significant saboteur of healthy communication in any relationship whether business or personal.

Why then, when these assumptions so often lead to hurt feelings do people continue doing this? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

Here’s a reason I’ve found that explains this. People enjoy predictability and base their “conversations of one” on how their friends have responded to similar situations in the past. The problem with this is that people can and often do change their minds. 

The reality is that the past doesn’t equal the present or the future. We make our decisions in the present based on those circumstances. The principle I employ to avoid “conversations of one” in my own mind is this. Though s/he has responded in one way in the past, I’m going to ask to see if that still holds true for him/her. Make sense?

Always ask to see if s/he still feels that way. I understand, however, and have experienced those who get upset when I ask because her feelings in fact haven’t changed. She’ll offer responses such as, “How do you think I’m going to answer?” To which I reply. 

I respect you too much to assume I know what you’re thinking or to deny you the right to change your mind.

This is a simple yet powerful strategy of the master communicator. It requires a focus on first hand information instead of self-serving assumption. 

Share your thoughts with me about how you plan to use this strategy.

Thanks for being you.

Photo Credit Brett Jordan via Flikr

Act like the creative genius you are

-Life is a great big canvas; throw all


I had a fascinating conversation with a colleague that began with us simply catching up, then somehow we ended up on the subject of creativity. We discussed how people tend to view creativity in terms of outcome: artistic expression, writing, painting, sculpting. 

What they don’t realize is that creativity is more than painting, it’s the way of life that is expressed in one moment as a painting. Creative lives are about making things happen, from imagination to creation. 

We can lose every material possession, then what are we left with, the values upon which we built our lives in the first place.

A tree is only as strong as its roots, a life is only as powerful as the values that compel the experiences it creates moment to moment. Where are you focusing? What art, what value, are you creating?

Every word and action can be considered a stroke of our paintbrush. So what are you creating today? Are you creating bitching, self-doubt, blame? Are you creating goals, happiness, determination, resilience?

What are you creating for others? Are you offering compliments to help them create greater self confidence? Are you giving them help or telling them you’re too busy to be bothered?

What else are you creating? Do you create images of what is possible for yourself, or fear of what danger lies ahead? You are the sculptor, you are the painter. You choose the paints and you choose the strokes.

When life gives you a pile of crap you can complain about the smell or you can turn it into fertilizer and grow a beautiful garden. When you act like the creative genius you are, you will be astounded by all of the good you have to contribute to those around you.

But only when your contribution is an extension of what you create in yourself. The Sistine Chapel wasn’t paint by numbers, it emerged from within the vision of Michelangelo.

Take a good long look at where you were a few years ago and look at yourself now. If you celebrate nothing else about your life, at least give yourself credit for hanging in there. Within your perseverance lie the seeds of greatness. When you finally decide to give them what they need to grow, the world will  shower you with gratitude you never imagined.

I’m not blowing smoke here. I spent the first half of my life being a devout pessimist and what I envisioned with that attitude is exactly what I created. When I changed my mind about what I wanted to create and took action, my life changed dramatically. What did I choose to create today? Well, for one, I wrote this for you.

Thanks for being you.

P.S. Thank you in advance for sharing this with others.