Tag: inspiration

The Best Business Books I’ve Read in 2019

To win in business – and life – we all know that being a lifelong learner is mission critical. As the cheesy saying goes, “learners are earners.” Clichés aside, I have a deep love for learning and the written word. Great books inspire, inform, and give us the tools we need to win in these increasingly challenging […]

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Leadership Lessons from the Most Feared Jazz Song Ever Written

Ask any jazz aficionado about the most challenging jazz standard ever written, and you’ll likely get a knowing smile followed by two simple words: Giant Steps. The tune, composed and performed by legendary saxophone genius John Coltrane, has sent chills down the spines of would-be performers since its release nearly 60 years ago. Performed at […]

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Is Your Work Environment a Greenhouse or a Prison?

A friend of mine’s passion is growing orchids. We’re talking perfect, exotic, contest-winning orchids. To get the best results, she does her work in a greenhouse. An environment that is perfectly situated to maximize growth. It fosters the ideal conditions for the natural act of creation. It’s pretty obvious that orchids grow better in a […]

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The 4 Must-Have Ingredients of a Winning Speech

Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired a generation with his powerful “I have a dream” address. JFK, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton reached the highest office in the land, in part by delivering moving speeches. TED talks have vaulted unknowns to celebrity status based on their ability to deliver compelling and inspiring messages. Simply put, great […]

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How One Pizza Delivery Inspired the Nation

Benjamin Houston was having an especially rough night. As a Domino’s Pizza delivery driver in Flint, Michigan, it had been a tough road. The fact that Benjamin is deaf made his situation even more challenging. It all came to a head on July 15, when his car broke down on a delivery run near midnight in a […]

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How a Six-String CEO Revived an Iconic Brand

As a guitar player for over 50 years, Andy Mooney leapt at the chance to take the helm of the legendary Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. Setting the standard of guitar innovation with breakthrough models like the Stratocaster, the Telecaster, and the Mustang, the company had fallen on harder times. Silo thinking, a flat industry, and […]

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Hittin’ the Woodshed

Charlie “Yardbird” Parker transformed himself from decent professional saxophone player into one of the most influential jazz musicians of the last 100 years.  The change happened during a 10-month period, when Parker essentially dropped out of the scene and worked deeply on his craft. By fully immersing himself in an environment that pushed his mastery, he […]

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Getting Better All The Time

In the 1967 Beatles classic, McCartney and Lennon sang a persistent mantra: “It’s getting better all the time.” They contrasted life’s problems, including bad teachers in school, general dissatisfaction and anger, and bumpy relationships, with the idea of continuous improvement as their prescriptive cure. As we look into the future, most of us are hungry […]

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The Zen of Heavy Traffic

Here in Detroit, the arctic weather has delivered one giant mess on the roads. Colleagues of mine have reported downtown commutes as long as 2.5 hours for a ride that would normally take 35 minutes. The seemingly endless traffic causes mere frustration for the patient person and outright rage for the flustered. While waiting at […]

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Taming Your Nemesis

There’s a good chance you have at least one person in your life that does more harm than good.  Perhaps it’s a boss that criticizes your every move.  Maybe it’s a competitor, client, or colleague dead set on crushing your spirit.  It could even be a parent or spouse that cuts you down rather than boosts you up. […]

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Training For Your Own Super Bowl

In less than a month, the two best football teams in the nation will square off for the biggest sporting event of the year.  With an expected audience of over 100 million people, this is the pinnacle career moment of these world-class athletes.  Their chance to shine.  To win.  To make history. To reach the […]

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You Are Who You’re With

In high school chemistry, we learned that adding several new chemicals to an existing one could create a dramatic effect.  In fact, the surrounding substances can literally change the original into a completely new form of matter. The same holds true for you and those you surround yourself with.  If you regularly hang out with […]

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Thread The Needle

In business (and life), you are constantly faced with challenges that seem insurmountable. Your inner voice says “it can’t be done,” and you may give up before even trying. The thing is – obstacles can be shattered with a creative solution if you take the time and effort to approach them in an unconventional way. […]

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The Tweet Heard ‘Round the World

Little did she know, Justine Sacco’s entire career was ruined while she flew from London to South Africa this past Friday.  Unfortunately, these were self-inflicted wounds that were set in motion by a single tweet she made prior to boarding the flight.  With horrible judgment, zero sensitivity, and a bigoted perspective, she tweeted: “Going to Africa. Hope […]

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Defy Your Barriers

Convicted felons who finish their sentences often struggle on the outside just like they did behind bars. Often lacking skills, support and education, many go back to a life of crime, with nearly 70% returning to prison (44% within one year of their release). But some — including many drug dealers — have exhibited strong […]

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Why the Middle of the Road is for Road Kill

The French Laundry in Napa Valley, California is consistently ranked among the top five restaurants in the country.  Celebrity chef Thomas Keller spares no expense in making the food and dining experience pure perfection.  Even with a price tag of up to $500 per person, this premier bistro is sold out every single night. The […]

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Getting Uncomfortable

Human comfort has become a booming industry and a way of life in modern society. The push of a button or the pop of a pill can pacify nearly any discomfort. Our cars are ergonomically designed, often including a duplicate set of controls on the steering wheel to avoid the agony of leaning over 14 […]

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Git ‘er Done

Paul Glomski, the CEO and co-founder of mobile app developer Detroit Labs, is a scrappy leader.  He is laser-focused on driving meaningful results in his business and realizing the company’s full potential.  As a result, he’s unwilling to get tripped up when things don’t go according to plan. The entrepreneurial process is often mischaracterized as […]

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Find Your Superpower and Use It

Aquaman has the unique ability to communicate with sea creatures. Comic book heroine Invisible Woman can — you guessed it — become invisible at will. In fact, each of the superheroes we grew up with and admired have one or more superpowers. Turns out that most highly successful people — both mythical and real — […]

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Time: Your Most Expensive Expense

Business people waste a lot of time worrying about spending money.  By conserving cash, the thinking goes, they are protecting their most precious and scarce resource.  As an investor in startup companies, I see this pattern play out again and again: leaders that invest too slowly in growth, believing this is a safe approach. In […]

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The Power of Smoke Detectors

David Lee Roth, the legendary lead singer for the band Van Halen, was the poster child for 1980s excess. He was chastised in the news media for demanding only non-brown M&M’s in his dressing room, the obvious sign of a narcissistic diva. While his ego may have been the size of the stadiums he rocked, […]

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Unleashing Chain Reactions

Scientists have long been enamored with the concept of chain reactions. A chemical change, for example, triggers a change in a nearby chemical, which in turn triggers change in other surrounding forms. In the case of a drop of water radiating out to impact an entire still lake, a single action can create far-reaching impact. […]

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A Higher Standard

The football coaches at Utah’s Union High School decided to make a bold decision.  With reports of poor grades, cyber-bullying, and attitude problems, the coaches were unwilling to support the declining behavior of their team.  So right before the big homecoming game, they decided to suspend the entire group.  Every team member was instructed to […]

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Life Can Be Like Playing Without Sheet Music

Classical musicians possess a number of enviable qualities such as discipline, precision and attention to detail. In a symphonic setting, they play the notes from the musical score with incredible accuracy, commanding their instruments to play precisely what the composer has documented. Intricate details such as attack and release, volume, tempo and vibrato are carefully […]

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Leveraging Mentors

Learning from others who have succeeded before you can be a difference-maker in your own pursuits. In fact, strong advisers have played a key role in the achievement of nearly every celebrated leader. The challenge is, how do you connect with the best mentors and persuade them to contribute to your success? I’ve observed that […]

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A New da Vinci Code

I never had a dog growing up. In fact, for years I didn’t really understand what all the fuss was about. Pets seemed messy, expensive and illogical. And then, without planning or consideration, I came across a puppy that was irresistible. So in mid-July, a new member was added to the family — da Vinci. […]

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A Simple Formula for Achievement

There appears to be a massive achievement gap in our country.  The large number of people that have a big goal to accomplish dwarfs the small number of those that actually achieve it.  Working with many startups and high-performance leaders over the years, I’ve observed a pattern that is followed by those who rack up […]

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The First (and Hardest) Step

Most people who are struggling and want to improve their situation aren’t lacking vision.   While they may not know the exact path forward, they have clarity on what a better career, family, or community might look like.  It’s easy to imagine a job where you get to contribute your best work, have the respect of […]

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Have a Plan Z, Your Dream Plan – Not Just a Plan B

Plan Z … Chances are your parents instructed you to always have Plan B. We all are familiar with this concept — a fallback plan in the event things go very wrong. The notion is so widespread that it’s even the name of a morning-after contraceptive pill. Most people first focus on their careers, which […]

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Take Responsibility For Setbacks, Not Just Successes

The dog ate my homework … Jan was furious she didn’t get that big promotion. “I deserved it,” she complained. “The boss is a jerk. My company doesn’t get it. The person who got the promotion instead of me is a suck-up.” When life doesn’t go the way we hope, it’s easy to attribute blame […]

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