Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My Best Friend Died Today

The messages you’ve usually received from me have mainly focused on Sales, Speaking, Presentation Skills, Customer Service and Leadership. Very rarely do you get something very personal. But today is different.

Today my best friend died. He had gifts not many others have. He was brilliant, insightful, joyful, and had an almost photographic memory.  

To say we were close is an understatement. All of my favorite activities were his favorite activities. For 12 wonderful years the outdoors was where we both wanted to be. Didn’t matter if we were fishing for striped bass at Lake Powell, or jet skiing into the canyons, or going bike riding in the desert, as long as we were together. He loved to hunt but was rarely successful. I just loved watching him and cheering him on.

His end wasn’t sudden… rather it was a gradual loss of his physical powers. He began to get tired easily. His eyesight dimmed and his hearing diminished. Yet we stuck together like brothers. That’s what best friends do!

The night before he died I slept next to him, gave him a drink of water when he needed it, and held his head in my hands, telling him how much he meant to me.

By now you may have guessed… my best friend was Spencer, my beloved Golden Retriever.  I miss him so much already and I’ll never forget the thousands of days we spent together, having so much fun and being each other’s Best Friend!

Who is your best friend? Who’s always there for you? Who listens and doesn’t judge and somehow makes everything right? Who sees you not with their eyes, but through their heart, and would do anything for you?

Whether it’s your dog or a human being that’s your best friend, go give them a hug right now. Tomorrow might be too late!

There’s nothing better than a best friend… unless it’s a best friend with chocolate!

MAKE it a great day! 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

"The 24-Hour Rule"

How many times has this happened? You call an associate, they're not in. So you leave this brief but urgent message on their voicemail: "Hi, sorry I missed you. Need your input on LMNOP. Please call, email or text me on how you think we should proceed. Time sensitive. Thanks and make it a great day!"

Sounds pretty common... You leave someone a voicemail or you send them an email or text them and you expect a reply. But nothing happens! You wait and you wait and still nothing. So you repeat the process, and two possible things happen. Either you miraculously get your associate on the phone, and they make excuses, "Oh, I was so busy." Or, you try leaving another more urgent message. 

The side effects of living and working in our fast paced world is that people are so busy they let things slide. They may be well-meaning people, they may like and respect you, yet they don't feel the need to respond as quickly as they should, for whatever reason.

Here's where "The 24 Hour Rule" can help you...

You might have heard Tom Izzo, Basketball Coach at Michigan State, give his team his 24-Hour Rule. "You have 24 hours to wallow in pain and frustration over a loss, not one second more. Then you flip the switch and move on in positive action!" That's good advice. Yet it's not the 24-Hour Rule we're discussing.

Then there's that old saying: "When you're upset or angry, wait 24 hours before you react. It's like counting to ten except it's just longer, 24 hours."  That's a good rule, but no, that's not it either.

This is "The 24 Hour Rule" that can increase your effectiveness immeasurably: 

"Respond to your customers, associates or loved ones within 24 hours, even if you don't have an answer to what they need."

Yes! Get back to EVERYONE who contacts you for ANYTHING ... in 24 hours! That response can be by phone, by text message or by email. It can be as short & snappy as this: 
  • "Got your message -- buried now, will call you by Friday."
  • "Got your message -- impossible to respond till next week, advise!"
  • "Thanks for the update on LMNOP. Have no new ideas. Use your judgment -- trust you!"
Think how YOU feel when your messages just plain go unanswered. Your opinion of the person you've contacted goes down and your frustration level goes up!

Decide now to be a 24-hour responder! Get back to employees, customers, associates and friends in 24 hours, no matter what! No answer is better than no response. At least it shows that you can be counted on and that you're on top of things! And it shows you care!

One "little" company decided to use "The 24 Hour Rule" and it increased their sales 21% in the first year, plus it earned them their highest JD Power rating in the company's history. That was Ford Motor Company and their CEO, Alan Mulally, was the driver of "The 24 Hour Rule."

Now it's your turn. Look at all your emails and text messages, listen to your voice mails, and respond to them in 24 hours. If you have too many, send a blanket response saying: "Got your message. Will get back to you as soon as I return to the office on the 15th."

Think how frustrating it is for YOU not to hear back from people. At least now THEY will hear back from YOU! 

Implement this powerful idea... and I'll look forward to hearing from you in 24 hours with your good results!

MAKE it a great day!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Greatest Speech of the 20th Century

You probably know that even after 50 years, most Americans still rank the speech given by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963 as the greatest speech of the 20th Century. And you probably know that the speech is commonly called the "I Have a Dream" speech.
But you probably don't know what Dr. King did during his speech when he got to the bottom of page 4, and that the technique he used can help you give your greatest speech or presentation!
Before you find out more about this technique, let's set the stage, since you probably weren't one of the quarter of a million people there when Dr. King spoke live at "The March on Washington" during the Civil Rights Movement.
Dr. King had a 5½-page prepared script that he planned to deliver that day, and he did deliver it. Except that he stopped at the bottom of page 4 and used one of the most important techniques you can possibly use when you're speaking to almost any group on almost any subject! It's to "Trust your gut!" That's it!
Put another way, "Listen to that voice within you." Or "Trust your instincts and what's in your heart." Your head says, "Stay with your prepared message," but your gut, your heart, and that still, small voice within you says, "No! Go in this new direction!"
And that's exactly what happened on August 28, 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Here's what Dr. King said later that year to Donald Smith, author of the book, "The Dream."
"I started out reading the speech, and I read it down to a point, and just all of a sudden I decided (the audience response was wonderful that day, you know) and all of a sudden this thing came to me, I HAVE A DREAM! I just felt I wanted to use it. I don't know why. I hadn't thought about it before that speech."
Dr. King used those four words, "I HAVE A DREAM," eight times in three paragraphs. That's what made his speech so amazing, and now, over 50 years later, it's still called "The Greatest Speech!" Wow! What if every time you spoke you listened to that voice within you, and trusted it!
As a professional speaker for 40 years, I have used Dr. King's technique, trusting my instincts. It has served me well and it will serve you well too. Why? Because your audience will sense your conviction, your sincerity and your passion!
The next time you speak, think of Dr. King. Trust your instincts, your feelings and that voice within that can help you give the greatest speech or presentation of your life!
I too "have a dream" ... that you'll be calling or writing me, and sharing how this idea has helped you!
MAKE it a great day!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

It's Like Having a Crystal Ball for 2014....

When You Answer These 7 Questions....

Here's something you can do right now to look into the future and make 2014 an AMAZING year! You're already busy, of course -- but before time gets away from you, why not take stock of your priorities for the year ahead? We're not talking about New Year's Resolutions here! They don't work! In fact, based on Gallup Poll findings, 24% of New Year's Resolutions are broken in the very first week! 53% are broken within six months! And get this, 92% are broken by year end!
As an alternative, as you visualize your plans for the year ahead, here's an exercise you can do, and I think you'll find it very helpful. The exercise consists of asking yourself these six questions about last year:
1. What was your biggest success in 2013?
2. What was the best decision you made?
3. What was the most important lesson you learned?
4. What made you the happiest?
5. Who had the greatest positive impact on you?
6. What were you most grateful for?
Now I've got one more important question for you ... and the answer to this question will help you see things even more clearly in 2014. Here's the question:
7. If you could re-live 2013, knowing now everything that happened, and everything you did to make things happen the way they did, what would you do differently?
Answering all seven questions is like having a crystal ball! Save these questions, and your answers to them, in a safe place. At the end of each year, answer them again. You'll find clarity and conviction to carry you through the year, as you accomplish whatever you decide is really important to you!
And forget New Year's Resolutions! Instead, make a commitment to yourself that you will MAKE 2014 a wonderful year, in spite of change, in spite of conditions, in spite of circumstances!
Your life is your choice! What 2014 brings you is up to YOU!
MAKE it a great day...every day!  
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Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Knowing What To Say & Where To Say It

“Crossing the line” is a common expression in society today.

It’s heard in politics. “He crossed the line saying we should do away with Social Security.”  It’s heard on sportscasts. “The coach crossed the line on what he just did to his players!” And in stand-up comedy , “Oh my gosh, I’m afraid she crossed the line on that one, about a pig, a rolling pin and her mother-in-law!”

What about you? Did you ever cross the line at a business meeting, a religious gathering or a family event? Most of us have at some point in our lives. It taught us a lesson, and hopefully, it didn’t do too much damage.

So how do you know were the line is? No one draws it on the ground for you. You’re just expected to know, if you’re an adult, what you can and can’t say and do.

In the past there were guidelines such as: “Don’t talk about politics, religion or sex.” What? Are you kidding? Turn on the TV or radio. Check out radio talk shows. Surf the internet and blogs and they overflow with religion, politics and sex. Religious groups discuss cross-gender and homosexuality. Kids in school discuss politics. Politicians debate and discuss religion, everything from the Muslims in Afghanistan, to the Jews in Israel and the Christians in Korea. (South Korea has the largest Christian church in the world!) Do we not discuss these things?

What’s the penalty for “crossing the line?”  Oh, that’s simple—you offend someone! That’s it! Someone hears what you said or sees what you did and they are offended. Big deal! Oh, it is a big deal if you “offend” your biggest client, or your mother-in-law. It can be a huge issue in international relations and diplomacy if the people of one country offend another country. Wars have resulted when people were offended.

Now chances are, your crossing the line antics won’t cause a war—but it could cost you and cost you dearly.

If in reading this you expected to find a simple answer, I say to you, “Nay-Nay.” There isn’t a simple answer, mainly because what could be offensive to one person isn’t offensive to another, or ironically that very same “offended” person wouldn’t be offended in a different situation. Foul language used by a Sunday School teacher in a religious setting could offend a 17-year-old boy. That same foul language used by his high school football coach during practice wouldn’t raise his eyebrow a millimeter! Oh, did I offend you with millimeter instead of a fraction of an inch? See how vague that line location is?

Now let's look at suggestions. As a professional speaker who’s been in front of over half a million people, the guidelines have always been that I wouldn’t do or say anything I wouldn’t do or say if my two wonderful daughters were sitting in the front row. Nowadays, I add to that, imagining my four grandchildren sitting there with them.

That’s a very clear line and fairly easy not to cross. You need your own line markers in the important areas of your life.

Another example—Blue Comedy. Raw and raunchy funny stuff peppered with every sexual example imaginable and every dirty word you’ve ever heard and some you haven’t. But it’s OK—the line is clear. That comedian has a reputation for that kind of stuff. There is no line. Most of their audience isn’t offended. They prepared themselves for raw and they got it. Yet, the biggest paychecks in comedy go to “clean” comedy. Yes the “G” and “PG” rated comedians like Brian Regan, Jerry Seinfeld and Jim Gaffigan  don’t get close to that line! If they did they would “offend” with even a tippy toe over the line.

What you can also do is lighten up a bit, lower your “I’m offended” monitor. Work at being even more tolerant. As a society we’ve gotten so uptight and so protective of our lines. Remember it’s a land of free speech. Each one can legally say almost anything. It’s not always easy, but think of the alternative—restrictive speech, banned words, sensored writing and burned books.

Let's just agree, yes, there are lines not to cross. They vary in location based on time and place, and yes, you can lower your “I’m offended” monitor just a little bit and, most of all, work at thinking more correctly who you’re speaking with and where their line might be. In the days when 70% of adults smoked, the thoughtful ones would say: “Would you mind if I smoke?” They were looking for the line! When in doubt ask! If you don’t, then you’re a stupid, self-centered, egotistical jerk!

Oops, guess I crossed the line there, because you were expecting me to close with… MAKE it a great day!

Monday, August 5, 2013


The perfect way to tap your unlimited potential
They learned foreign languages, designed buildings, and invented products.
They played their favorite sports—repeatedly hitting homeruns and scoring touchdowns. Had they not been locked in tiny, filthy cells, fed like animals and frequently tortured, they could have passed for students in a special university.
And, in a way, that’s exactly what they were: students at the “University of the Imagination”—American POW’s who used their imaginations to transcend the horrors of North Vietnamese prisons.
Remarkably, after years of incarceration, many of them came home speaking three lan­guages fluently. Some earned millions of dollars on their inventions. Others, having learned to play the piano on imaginary keyboards scratched in the dirt, or having learned to play the guitar using crude wood slats with no strings, were accomplished musicians when they returned.
Col. George Hall is representative of these “University of the Imagination” students.
Before he was captured by the Viet Cong, Hall was an outstanding golfer. But his imprisonment lasted seven years, during which the closest he came to stepping on a golf course was when his bare feet touched the mold growing on the floor of his cell.
Still, he played eighteen holes of golf every day—in his imagination!
With his eyes closed, his concentration focused on the courses he’d played back home, he experienced every detail as if it were real. He could smell the freshly cut grass, feel his hands caressing the grip of his driver as he teed off, see the ball’s soaring trajectory against a vividly blue sky, and, later, see the ball falling gently into the cup.
Not once did he envision himself hitting wild shots, missing easy putts, or landing in the water. His imaginary practice was perfect practice. And, upon returning to the U.S., he continued playing near-perfect golf. In fact, his first time on a course—just a few weeks after his release—he entered a tourna­ment and shot a brilliant 76, holding to the four handicap he had established seven years earlier!
When wide-eyed spectators asked him how he did it, Hall said, “What’s the surprise? I’ve been practicing every day for over seven years.”
Practicing indeed. He had graduated summa cum laude from the University of the Imagination.
Here’s what you can do:
   1. Discipline yourself to habitually imagine the best possible results. See the sales agreement being signed. Feel the thrill of achieve­ment as you reach your business goal and receive recognition for a job well done. Hear the praise your loved ones will lavish on you as they share your victory.
   2. Write your own script, just as Col. Hall did when he played his imaginary, perfect golf games. Decide what result you want, then imagine yourself accomplishing each step necessary to attain that result.
   3. Don’t waste time. Use your free moments—stuck in a traffic jam, waiting for an appointment, or just before going to sleep—to exercise your imagination and tap more of your unlimited potential.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


You're out for dinner with friends, great restaurant, terrific food and an interesting and stimulating discussion. Your server comes over, leaves the check and thanks you for coming in. Suddenly the mood changes. In all the years you've been friends, they very rarely pick up the check. But you've decided that tonight it's going to be different! It's their turn to pay the bill and you won't pick up that check, no matter what!
No doubt you've experienced people with Alligator Arms. Yes, Alligator Arms! Their arms are so short they can't reach the check or their wallet! They not only have Alligator Arms when it comes to paying for dinner, they're just plain CHEAP about everything! Stingy and miserly people who go to great lengths to avoid spending their own money on almost anything! This is not a good trait.
Now keep in mind, we're not talking about being "financially conservative", "a wise shopper" or "thrifty." Those are positive qualities! CHEAP is taking those positives to the extreme, and it becomes a serious weakness that can alienate your friends, turn off your associates and estrange you from loved ones.
Using a scale of 1 (really cheap) to 10 (really generous), how would you rate yourself? A passing grade might be a 6 or higher. Those friends with the Alligator Arms would be a 1, 2 or 3. And the person who always picks up the check, puts on the parties, funds scholarships for needy kids, pays for a neighbor's kid to go to summer camp, and slips the homeless guy 20 bucks, is a 10!
Most people, it seems, fall between a 4 and an 8. How about you?
If you're cheap in other people's eyes, you might not even be aware of it. But trust me, those that know you, know you.
To help you improve your generosity, here are a few suggestions to consider...
  1. You decide to split the check. Two couples, 4 meals, $80 bill, 50/50 split, $40 each. Don't say, "but you guys had salads and we didn't so it should be $30 us and $50 you." For ten bucks be a sport! Next time maybe you'll be the salad people and they won't.
  2. The tip you leave is seen too. As you know, if things are even just "OK" in a restaurant, 15% is the minimum, 20% is good and 25%+ is generous. Be generous if you've gotten great service and write a thank you on the check to your server.
  3. Someone invites you out as their guest to play golf or tennis at "their club." Offer to buy the balls, pay for drinks and food, or follow up with an invite to "your club."
  4. Do you get to go boating, fishing or waterskiing on someone else's boat? Always offer, no, insist on paying for the gas! Our family is really into boating. We own a houseboat, fishing boat, ski boat and jet skis and they all use gas. For 25 years we've invited friends out to be with us. Most offer to at least pay for gas. One good friend brought me a T-shirt that said, "Saying Thank You doesn't pay for gas!" I loved it, but probably won't wear it because if you have to ask someone to pay, it's just not the same, is it?
OK, you get the point. Alligator Arms do not go unnoticed! And you know the kind of people I'm talking about...
"He's so tight he squeaks when he walks." "He's so cheap he named himself as the beneficiary of his life insurance."
"He's so cheap he married a skinny gal so he could buy her a smaller ring."
"He's so cheap when he got run over by a liquor truck it was the first time the drinks were on     him!"
Hopefully now you're laughing. But the next time you're given a choice between being cheap or being generous, choose generous! Why? Because it's only money! And you can always earn more money... but it's hard to mend a relationship when you have... Alligator Arms!
MAKE it a great day!