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Discover Your Winning Value Proposition

Alan Andersen


I have never been accused of giving up when striving toward an objective. Yet, the older or should I say, more mature I get, I understand that winning is only as valuable as the people that you empower in the process!

How beneficial would it be if we all understood what "winning" really looked like. Thankfully, today we can learn how to uncover our "Winning Value Proposition". 

Let's follow Daniel Hallak's lead and learn to win well!

Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen

How to Discover Your Winning Value Proposition

Value beats experience and credentials. Most job seekers are selling the equivalent of vanilla ice cream to the job market. Vanilla ice cream tastes great but in a crowded market with custom flavors, it needs more to stand out and catch a customer’s attention. For example, my young children love rainbow sherbet, and bubblegum flavored ice cream, candy-like flavors with colorful synthetic dyes. My parents tend to have a more refined palette and they enjoy flavors with nuts inside. Each flavor is designed with the right audience in mind. Discovering and defining the value that you bring to an organization is just like selling cotton-candy ice cream to kindergartners—a perfect alignment of product and consumer desires. This is similar to what makes a laser-focused value proposition one of the most powerful ways to put you in front of the competition in your job market.

1) Start by focussing on a target. Pick a few similar job titles or by zero in on an or industry. Assess your strengths, values, personality, and skills. You’ve probably got a target in mind already. Don’t be too broad or too specific with your target. Find a Goldilocks focus that’s just right.

2) Do some career research so that you can learn the needs, challenges, and opportunities that Research industry publications. Talk to 4-5 people to where the industry is going. If you’re targeting a specific organization, figure out what is happening internally and where the business is heading strategically.

3) Craft your value proposition in 3-8 bullet points. Answer these questions:

  • What do I bring to the table that is unique?
  • What key issues can I solve?
  • What do I bring beyond experience and credentials?

Be careful selling your experience and credentials. Lots of people tout impressive backgrounds but don’t connect the dots to the value that they bring to the most important challenges an organization is solving. Be sure to take the extra step to highlight how your background and prove how it helps you solve the problems your future employer is looking to tackle. Unless you clearly articulate value, nothing you promote means anything.

Here’s a personal example of what it looks like to identify key business needs and how to articulate a relevant value proposition that overlaps with it. For several years I led career services for graduate business students. Here are some of the core needs that my target organizations were wrestling with

Career Services—Needs and Challenges
Career service professionals solve problems for individuals related to vocational choices and employment as well as help increase student retention and student success for the institution. The problems that a candidate will be hired to help solve are:

  • Increasing the number of traditional students who engage with the career center
  • Increasing the reputation of career services among faculty and staff
  • Increasing the number of companies that recruit on campus
  • Increasing the number of students who obtain jobs and internships
  • Increasing the level of professionalism among the student body
  • Increasing the satisfaction levels of students, and employers with campus career services
  • Scaling career services while simultaneously preserving service quality
  • Guiding career exploration and decision-making challenges of clientele
  • Guiding employment and personal marketing challenges of clientele
  • Increasing student retention and student success rates

Based on these needs, I was able to see where my unique skillset overlapped. Here’s an example of the selling points I’d communicate to an employer in my résumé, online profiles, and interviews:

My Career Services Value Proposition

  • Understanding of the business model and current trends in career services as well as creative ideas to enhance career services and transform it from an institutional cost to a benefit
  • Ability to scale career services with limited or diminishing resources
  • Capable of increasing career service usage by effective marketing to students
  • Increased student hires through effective and assertive employer outreach and engagement
  • Versatility to perform all career service functions at a top-shelf level with any demographic, especially students and young professionals

Discovering and defining your value is hard work. Most people struggle with this but it’s the foundation of a successful job search that sets you up for success once you’ve landed. Take the time to get this right or get some help to guide you along.

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Why Complaining Doesn't Work

Alan Andersen

Have you ever been around a leader who complains? Who talks about team members in a negative way? Michael G. Rogers shares why leading this way will break down a team and erode relationships quicker than you can imagine!

Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen


Why Whining and Complaining will Literally Destroy you as a Leader

Several years ago I wrote a popular post on this blog titled 3 Ways to Deal With Whiny and Complaining Employees. In hindsight I have should have quickly followed that up with a post on “3 Ways to Stop Being a Whiny Leader.” Because the reality is, we all have our whiny moments too.

Recently I have found myself getting more and more frustrated by “stupid things” and quickly pointing them out. So I decided to stop.

I don’t know if it is an age thing or simply a gradual spiral over time in to negativity (maybe both), but it feels like things that didn’t warrant a complaint in the past, suddenly need one now. And honestly, I don’t like how it makes me feel any more.

Complaining is a fairly common human thing. Complaining about the weather is one thing, but complaining about other people is a whole other level. It is also unhealthy—socially, emotionally and physically.

When leaders complain about others, especially in front of those they are leading, they open the invitation for others to do the same and that has the potential to create a workplace no one wants to come to. They also generate a lack of respect for both themselves as well as others.

When leaders regularly complain at work and outside of work they are also less happier as a person, and negatively affect the mood of those around them. Jeffrey Lohr, a psychologist, who co-authored a study on the effects of venting stated the following: “People don’t break wind in elevators more than they have to, venting anger is an emotional expression. It’s similar to emotional farting in a closed area. It sounds like a good idea, but it’s dead wrong.”

Complaining also opens us up to all types of diseases. Dr. Travis Bradberry wrote an article in the Huffington Post titled, “How Complaining Rewires Your Brain For Negativity.” In the article he talks about how complaining literally leads to brain damage. He states, “When you complain, your body releases the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol shifts you into fight-or-flight mode, directing oxygen, blood, and energy away from everything but the systems that are essential to immediate survival. One effect of cortisol, for example, is to raise your blood pressure and blood sugar so that you’ll be prepared to either escape or defend yourself.

All the extra cortisol released by frequent complaining impairs your immune system and makes you more susceptible to high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. It even makes the brain more vulnerable to strokes.”

Okay, who's on board for less complaining?

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Why Trying Doesn’t Work

Alan Andersen

Screen Shot 2018-01-23 at 11.33.16 AM.png

This post from Michael Hyatt highlights the root cause that separates the winners from the whiners! Enough said, please jump straight to it and take it heart.

Never Settle,

Alan Andersen

The Difference Between Trying and Doing

There’s an instructive scene in the Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back. Yoda is instructing Luke Skywalker in how to use the Force. He asks Luke to retrieve his disabled spaceship out of a bog where it has sunk, using only his mind.

Luke, of course, thinks this is impossible. Sure, he has been able to move stones around this way. But a spaceship? That’s completely different. Or is it?

Yoda patiently explains that it is only different in his mind. Luke reluctantly agrees to “give it a try.”

Yoda famously says, “No. Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

Why Trying Doesn’t Work

Tony Robbins gave similar advice to a woman who was struggling in her marriage. She stood up in one of his seminars to ask a question. She complained that she had “tried everything” to improve her relationship with her husband but nothing had changed.

Tony went on to make a distinction that I think is vitally important. He asked the woman to try to pick up the chair she was sitting in. She turned around and picked up the chair.

Tony said, “No, you picked it up. I said try to pick it up.”

The woman looked confused. Tony reiterated, “Try to pick it up.” The woman just stood there, not knowing what to do.

Tony continued, “No, now you’re not picking it up. I said try to pick it up.” Again, she picked up the chair.

Again, Tony, said, “No, you picked up the chair. I asked you to try and pick it up. You either pick it up, you don’t pick it up, or you try to pick it up.”

Just Stop Trying

The point is that when we say we are trying we don’t really have to do anything. It also provides us with an excuse for why we didn’t accomplish the outcome we say we want.

Do you understand the difference? You either do something or you don’t do it. Trying is really the same as not doing it. It just makes it easier for us to let ourselves off the hook when we fail.

Where are you trying to improve?

  • Are you trying to get in shape—or are you getting in shape?
  • Are you trying to improve your marriage—or are improving your marriage?
  • Are you trying to make more sales calls—or are you making more sales calls?

This may sound like a small distinction, but it has huge ramifications.

3 Suggestions

Maybe it’s time to quit trying and just do it. Here are three suggestions:

1. Eliminate the word “try” from your vocabulary. Language is subtle. The words we use can program us to perform certain ways. Using the wrong language can create an outcome we don’t intend.

“Try” is a worthless word that accomplishes nothing. It might make us feel better when we fail, but it actually induces the kind of behavior that leads to failure.

2. Decide either to do or not do. If you don’t want to do something, fine. Don’t do it. But don’t pretend that trying is the same as doing. They are two completely different postures.

This is what Yoda was telling Luke. Everything important we accomplish begins with decision. We don’t slip into our greatest achievements. We commit and then make them happen.

3. Commit 100 percent to the outcome you want. Like the project manager in Apollo 13 said, “Failure is not an option.” Play full out. Don’t quit. Don’t settle for merely trying.

Remember the point behind suggestion No. 1 above. Language is subtle. When we get comfortable with trying, even a bit, we open the possibility of failure because we make it respectable to walk off the field before the whistle blows. Don’t give yourself the out.

As Yoda suggested to Luke, the difference may only be in your mind, but it has a dramatic impact on the outcome of whatever you set out to do.

Question: Where have you been trying instead of doing?


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The Heart and Science of Winning Goals

Alan Andersen


I just have to ask, did you set goals when you turned the calendar to 2018? So many of us do! Let's be honest, though. Sometimes we set goals that aren't really aligned with what we desire for our lives.

Check out this blog by Daniel Hallak, in which he cuts right to heart of the matter on goal-setting.

Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen

The Heart and Science of Winning Goals, Part 1

I’ve been failing at goal setting since my 6th birthday party. My parents created thoughtful birthday games to keep everyone entertained. We started with a round of pin the tail on the donkey in the yard. They surrounded me with my friends, spun me till I was dizzy, and set me loose to pin the tail on the paper donkey—or the closest person to me. The game was fun but the reward wasn’t fulfilling.

The next game seemed better. Mom and dad setup a piñata full of candy. Sign me up! They gave me clear instructions, “Smash the piñata hard enough to create a candy shower”. It was go time. They again blindfolded me and spun me in circles. With some help I turned in the right direction and I started swinging. Every time I stepped up to bat my parents would pull the string. I’d swing at the air and fall to the ground. I kept swinging, sometimes grazing the piñata, occasionally getting a solid hit. Visions of the candy shower kept me going. Every kid took a swing but none of us could make sugar rain from the sky. Finally, the piñata broke—maybe because my dad was yanking the string so hard—and we all scrambled to fill our little hands with loot.

Is goal setting worthwhile?

When I coach people on setting goals, sometimes it feels just like the piñata at a birthday party. People start with excitement but they give up after a few swings at their goal, even if the reward seems sweet. This is why some people hate setting New Year’s resolutions and why lots of organizations spin their tires with new priorities seemingly every minute. So why do people make such a big deal about goal setting? The short answer is that goals work and goals win. The trick is that not all goals are created equally. It turns out that most people set goals that suck, if they set any at all. The good news is that setting strong goals can accelerate and equip you to cascade that motivation to others leaders who get busy developing even more leaders. Crafting energizing goals can propel all of you forward to create more health and flourishing while building resilience for setbacks. Goals set your leaders up for success. To set goals that work and win you need to tap into the heart and science of setting goals. Let’s start with heart.

What do you truly love? 

“Follow your heart” is the some of the worst, potentially misleading advice that people give on a regular basis. Here’s the problem. Sometimes your heart wants the right thing for you and other times your heart can get you in a lot of trouble. When I mention the heart, I’m referring to the core of who you are as a person. I’m not talking about the blood pumping organ that beats over 3 billion times times if you live to be 80 years old. I’m focusing on the place where your deepest emotions and affections live. Your heart is a wildcard that can equally drive human potential or pathology. This is dangerous. It means that it’s possible to set strong goals in the wrong direction and cause a lot of collateral damage along the way. You can be effective and evil at the same time—all in good faith. We don’t need to look too far into the past to prove this. Adolf Hitler was arguably very effective at carrying out some of the most terrible atrocities in the history of humanity. The worst part was that in his heart he believed that he was creating a better world.

Even though your heart can be deceptive, when it comes to setting goals, your heart is a good place to begin. Starting with heart reveals what you deeply love and what you identify with most closely. Once you begin to explore your core driving forces you can harness them to focus on building the right goals. At the end of the day, running after goals is all about love. We prioritize the things that we love the most. If your heart is invested in something, if you love it a lot, you’ll make it a priority with your calendar and your credit card.

Think about it, why do new parents sacrifice precious sleep for small, helpless humans? Because they love their baby son or daughter more than their own comfort and they are committed to caring for the little person even above their own well-being.  Or think about advancing your career. We all know people who’ve endured long-hours or intensive training to achieve a promotion or earn a credential. Why? Because the reward was greater than the cost.

On the flipside, do you have a “friend” who regularly loves catching up on shows more than consistently going to the gym? Your “friend’s” problem isn’t about getting a bit of down-time, the problem is a stronger love for the comfort of a comfy couch and tasty snacks than the energy and self-confidence that comes with staying active and healthy. The same thing holds true for your conscientious, overcommitted coworker who can’t say no to extra assignments at work even at the expense of family involvement. Why? Because the love for affirmation outweighs the desire for a healthy family legacy. We all have aspirations that we really want to invest in but our efforts get diminished because there is something else that we love more. Forward motion is blocked until we reorient our desires.

This might seem radical to you. How could there be anything wrong with catching movie, or becoming recognized as the reliable person who gets things done? You’re right. Sort of. These things aren’t bad in and of themselves. The danger is when we love the wrong things too much—when we consistently prioritize good things over the best things—to the point that our misaligned affections begin to hurt ourselves and other people.

How do you know if you’re going in the right direction?

How do you know if your desires and goals are rightly aligned? How do you know if you love the wrong things too much? Ultimately, you can test the direction of your heart and the goodness of your objectives by the drawing the line of sight between your goals and human flourishing—yours and other peoples. If your heart loves the wrong things they will eventually harm you and corrode or break relationships with other people.

So, what if you love the wrong things? How do you love the best things so that they get your attention, affection, and energy? You replace them with a greater love. Humans aren’t wired to unlearn something. Trying to stop focusing on something never achieves the desired result. Try it. Don’t think about pink elephants flying around. Serious, stop thinking about pink elephants. You’re welcome. Now tell a child to try as hard as possible not to press a button or not to eat a cookie. Stand back, watch and wait. Working to avoid it only causes them to fixate harder. We can’t just stop focusing on something and we can’t just stop loving something. We need to find something else to focus on, something that we desire more. This is one potential explanation for why people who engage in volunteering and community service experience multiple mental and physical health benefits as well as an increased sense of purpose. Connecting with and serving others and engaging in relationships can help replace our natural inward bent. A person struggling with depression who is focusing on other people instead of their symptoms doesn’t have the time or space in that moment to fixate on their struggles. We don’t undo things, we can’t undo things. But we can replace them over time with the power of a new desire.

Where do you have energy?

Start with heart and consider what you really love before you set any goals. Pause to evaluate your motives and be honest about your true loves. Focus on your loves and consider which ones can help humans grow and flourish. Then harness the power of those deep loves as you start to build your goals. Greco-Roman wrestlers and Jiu-Jitsu practitioners learn early on that one of the best ways to sustain energy is to leverage the drive of their opponent. When pushed, they pull. When pulled, they push, accelerating their power toward the winning pin or submission. If you already have momentum you’re a lot more likely to keep pursuing your goals. A goal isn’t worth pursuing if you if you don’t care a about it. Goals that win already have energy or commitment for you to harness.

OK, are you being honest with yourself about what you really love? Are your motives pure? If the answer is yes, then you’re ready to dissect the anatomy of goals to build some goals that work and win in Part 2 of The Heart and Science of Winning Goals. Check back soon.

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Let's Get Real

Alan Andersen


There have been a handful of people in my life that I appreciate like James Altucher. He has helped me in many ways, namely, learning to unlearn.

Unlearning unnecessary ideas, concepts, and dare I say harmful or limiting beliefs.

In light of this, I appreciate a post he wrote earlier this month in how to approach 2018. I would encourage you to read it. Note: this is a "PG-13" read. There is one curse word, at least that I caught. But I would encourage you to catch the emphasis that this article is highlighting so well.

Pulling for you, 

Alan Andersen

Things I Refuse To Worry About In 2018

“You sound like a moron,” one of my closest friends recently told me. It was because I was feeling sick but I haven’t been to a doctor since I was 18.

In one month I turn 50.

The last doctor i went to was my pediatrictian before I went to college. I don’t even know what doctors do now.

“You could be a hypochondriac,” another friend of mine told me. “Maybe you’re so afraid you might be sick that you refuse to get a check-up.”

So I don’t know if I should go to a doctor or get even more scared. Sometimes I’m always scared.

“You have to move into your own apartment,” my friend above told me. “Moving around from Airbnb to Airbnb is creepy,” she said.

A few months ago I finally did it. I was scared to do it. I don’t know why. I don’t like buying things for myself.

I don’t like roots. I don’t like to lock myself into a place. Bad things happened to me when I do that.

But I did it. I didn’t want to be “creepy”.

It was really hard. I have never had a credit card. So I have no credit score. So nobody wanted to rent to me.

And then I had no furniture. I only had one bag with two outfits and a toothbrush and a computer.

I’m 49. I’ve never moved into my own apartment by myself.

“You will feel stable,” my friend told me. “You don’t even realize how good you will feel.”

She’s right. It’s amazing.

I’m still a 14 year old with acne and braces and afraid to talk to people and begging for people to like me.

I beg my children to like me. Sometimes I try to show off just for them.

I want to please people all the time. And I don’t want to disappoint people so I make promises and say “Yes” to things I can’t live up to. And then I disappoint people.

Aren’t you the guy who wrote “The Power of No”.


I can't predict next year. Last year came out 100% different than I thought it would.

But I feel like (I hope) I'm moving in the right direction.

And here are the things I hope I don't worry about in 2018.

Please, Force, let me surrender these worries to you:


We need money to pay the bills. I get it. We need money to support our families. We need stability.

I get it. I get it. All my life. All my fucking life. I’ve been worried about money. I’m so sick and tired of it.

My parents went broke. I paid for every dime of my college and graduate school.

I moved to NYC with a single garbage bag with an outfit or two in it and lived in a one room apartment with a roommate.

But worrying about money never made me money.

The ONLY times I’ve ever made any money was when I solved someone else’s problem, communicated my ability to solve it for them, and got paid for it.

Look around you. Your friends, your colleagues, your bosses, other companies. Everyone needs help.

And if you are at the right place and the right time, then some of those people will pay you to help them solve a problem. Not always (so you can’t be. disappointed) but sometimes.

Right place, right time, right solution, right communication, right execution, right pay. Then repeat.

That’s a business. That’s an income stream. Then make more.

It’s so hard. And it’s EVERY. DAY. the stress of making money. But I won’t worry about it. When I worry, I’m going to look around, solve a problem, communicate, execute, get paid.


I’m completely ignoring politics. Trump was elected over a year ago. An entire total of ONE bill that he has proposed has passed Congress and ZERO vetos. He does nothing. His one bill (tax bill) does nothing as far as I can tell.

The ONLY thing he has been good at is making one side of the country hate the other side. Good JOB!

I won't fall for it.

Change happens when YOU and I DO things. Not when we argue.

Everyone has critical issues. No one set of issues you care about will ever align with a perfect candidate who agrees with you on anything.

I’m the father of an 18 year old and a 15 year old. The only purpose of war, as far as I can naively tell, is to send teenagers to other countries to kill other teenagers.

I’ve never seen a Senator go off to war. Or a “supreme leader”. Or a king.

This is my main issue.

Kids killing kids. People killing people over hate.

If it all blows up, I don’t really care. I just don’t want my kids to be sent to any war. I wish we had never gotten into the wars we were in, and I don’t know why we are still in them (and why 1/3 of my taxes goes towards paying for them).

Earlier this year, someone wrote a blog post suggesting I run for governor of NY on the Libertarian Party. For the fun of it, I even met with the actual guy who is running for governor on that party (a party I am not a member of).

I would be the worst governor or congressman or whatever of anything because I have so little cares about what is happening in the world.

Naive or not, that is the way I feel.


Please God, please please please let me not pander to other people’s opinions.

It’s ok to listen. It’s ok to entertain and make people happy. It’s ok to judge your progress with the applause (or lack of) of others.

But never get stuck in the hole of where everyone else wants you to be.

Everyone wants to have status over you. I need to remember this. To remember that only I have the power to give myself status.

To never out-source my self-esteem to others. Oh god, please please please.

Anybody who is creative, will start off striving and yearning to be better at what they do.

They see the nuances and the beauty in the art created by masters before them.

I want to have those nuances in the things I do: in writing, in podcasting, in comedy, in career, in whatever I attempt to be creative at.

But people will always hate. And it’s the ones closest to you to be the most careful around. They will hate. Or disappoint. Or accidentally crush you. Or mistakenly make you feel so sad you don’t know how to ever create again.

It’s never the neighbor down the street. It’s the friend you let into your house.

Pandering to what they like, or what the crowd likes, is the one creative sin.

They dig the hole, they put you in a casket, they bury the casket.

But only if you pander to them. Breaking free from the grave might make them angry or disappointed or scared. They don’t want you to escape the nice grave they buried you in.

But it’s the only way to live.


It’s so easy to mortgage the present in exchange for a better future.

To think: if only she/he were like THIS, then I would be HAPPY.

To think: if only I had this amount, then I will be a SUCCESS

If only, this effort works, then I will be WHERE I WANT.

The fiber of life is drunk by our souls only when we squeeze all of the juice out of the current moment. Ugh. That sounds like a cliche.

Also a cliche to say, “be mindful of the current moment”.

So how else can I say it?


What can I be grateful for right now?

Hmmm. Cliche also.

We are insignificant on this tiny dot? Cliche.

I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m just not going to worry about it.


Every day I feel like I'm disappointing someone. I don't try to. But it happens.

I'm sorry.

I'm sorry I can't do everything I promised. I'm sorry I let you down. But it happens. We can work it out. Or not. But I can't worry about it anymore.

I'm doing my best. Please believe me.

I love to do what I love doing, regardless of personal benefit.

Podcasting makes me zero. Writing makes me zero. Almost everything I do makes me zero and costs me aggravation if I let it.

This past year I started doing standup comedy up to six nights a week. I’ve always loved it. And I’ve always analyzed it. But now I’m trying to get good at it. TRYING. It’s so HARD. AGGHHGHAH!!!

And it’s so “in your face”.

I go on the stage, and I say things, and they might not respond how I want. Right then, they might not like me, or they might not understand me, or they might not care. Or they might be tired or drunk.

Or I might be just bad.

I videotape each set. I watch it. I write more. I study. I talk to comedians. I try to learn. Every time I go on stage I want it to be better than the last time.

We’ll see.

But in a microcosm it represents every attempt I have at pleasing others.

My one NEW mantra for comedy, and my one mantra for going on TV, or having a meeting, or being with friends, or being with family, or being with a life partner. or being with colleagues is:


And everyone who wants to join in is invited.

Those are the things I will try (please please please) not to worry about in 2018.


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Responsible vs. Foolish Freedom

Alan Andersen


One of the highest forms of responsibility is the responsibility to be free. One of the highest forms of freedom is the freedom to be responsible…Yet if we examine our lives closely, most of us will find that we are slaves to something that defines our zone of comfort – whether it be the approval of others, a need for status, a need to avoid conflict, or any one of a thousand other things that keep us from being truly committed to a purpose. (Robert Quinn, 2004, Building The Bridge As You Walk On It)

Read on to hear what Bret Simmons has to share about responsible versus foolish freedom.

Your Coach,


Responsible freedom emerges from commitment to the purposeful pursuit of the richer connections of interdependent relationships. Choosing to be responsible for continued personal renewal requires a lifetime of discipline, a lifetime of practice. Only when you continually abandon the hypocrisy of your current self can you grow to know your best self. A balance of self-control and expressive spontaneity mark the speech that flows from the character of a leader modeling responsible freedom. When you choose to step into the fullness of your responsibility for your intentions, behavior, and words, you become a signal in an ocean of noise.

Foolish freedom is the ocean of noise generated by those with unbridled hubris. Now more than ever, you really can choose to say and do whatever you want; however, you can’t pretend that your choices are void of consequence. Freedom without responsibility for consequence is fools gold. The words and behavior of a leader modeling foolish freedom are so spontaneous and expressive as to be undisciplined and irresponsible.

I teach these concepts in my MBA course on Leading Change. Robert Quinn’s is the first book we read in the course because his message is simple and powerful. Quinn’s key point is that organizations do not change significantly unless someone inside the organization changes significantly; hence, self-change is the key to organizational change. Ever increasing integrity is the driving force of self-change; the discipline to chose to daily confront the biggest hypocrite you will ever encounter in your organization – the one you see in the mirror.

I’ve taught the concept of responsible freedom numerous times, yet I still struggle to understand what it means in my own life. The responsibility to be free is easier for me to wrap my brain around. I try to focus less on what people think about me, and more on clarifying my values and aligning my behavior with those values. The more difficult concept for me is the freedom to be responsible. According to Miriam Webster, “responsible” means able to answer for ones conduct or obligations.

I can’t think of a higher freedom than to be able to answer “who am I becoming?” In any group that I’m a part of – family, church, work, city, country – I recognize that my ability to answer “who are we becoming?” will always be a direct reflection of who I choose to be today.


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What Matters Most, Effective and Ineffective. Period.

Alan Andersen


There are few people in the health and wellness industry that I trust like I do Charles R. Poliquin (maybe you know him as the Strength Sensei). While I have never met or connected with him personally, I have used his services and am a part of his online community. In a word, Poliquin is effective.

In the NYT Best Seller Extreme Ownership, my friend Leif Babin captured one of the best thoughts on this exact notion I have ever heard.

The only meaningful measure for a leader is whether the team succeeds or fails. For all the definitions, descriptions, and characterizations of leaders, there are only two that matter: effective and ineffective. Effective leaders lead successful teams that accomplish their mission and win. Ineffective leaders do not.

So with this in mind, let's read how Poliquin breaks down the driving force behind being effective. 

Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen

The Myth of Discipline, Let Love Be Your Driving Force

There is no such thing as discipline. There is only love. Love is the most powerful creative force in the universe. You are the result of what you love most.

You either love finely etched muscular abs more than donuts or you love donuts more than wash board abs you could do your laundry on. It is as simple as that. Don’t beat yourself up that you have no discipline or further drown yourself in a sea of refined carbs out of guilt. Admit that you like crappy food more than you love strength.

Or ask yourself this, what do you really love? Self-esteem is the reflection of self-judgment. One of the best ways to raise self-esteem is to make truly loving choices that lead to increased strength of body and mind. No need for discipline there. For example, if you truly love yourself in the gym, you choose the full squat with chains over the leg extension machine. At the restaurant, if you truly love yourself, you pass on the heavenly smelling basket of bread and creamy butter, and ask for some more limes for the water. Limes alkalize your body which in turn helps your bones, muscles and your ability to deal with stress.

When you are faced with difficult choices, ask yourself, in context of course, what would a loving knowledgeable expert recommend? For example, when working chest, would a loving strength coach recommend the pec deck, or full range dumbbell presses. When choosing desserts, would the loving nutritionist recommend a bowl of berries or the gluten rich pro-inflammatory triple decker brownie submerged under melting vanilla ice cream.

How to free yourself from the outdated concept of discipline:

  • Accept that all your choices are reflections of what you truly love.
  • Love is the greatest creative force of the Universe. Use it wisely.
  • Choose to love yourself more than external things.
  • Treating yourself well accelerates the growth of your self-esteem. When is the last time you went for a massage?
  • When people comment on your results and say things like “Wow you have a lot discipline” answer “No, I just make loving choices for myself. Reinforcing your own positive behavior will help you grow in strength.
  • What you appreciate appreciates. Whenever you make a truly loving choice, say to yourself ‘Thank you for taking care of me in a loving way”. The more you talk to yourself like a loving parent, the faster you will grow. Let’s say, for example, you just did a single on the squat with a load you didn’t feel like doing. Say: “Wow! I am impressed with your strength of mind, that’s why you are a champion”. By documenting and rewarding your successes, they will grow in magnitude and frequency. Whenever I meet a goal, I reward myself with positive things like a vacation or a new piece of equipment. When I get something better, I make the choice of giving away the old piece to someone who will appreciate it. Living a clutter free life allows for more growth.
  • The more you believe in yourself, the more objectively you will be able to take the advice of authority figures.
  • “Use your faults” was French singer Edith Piaf’s motto. I don’t like to stretch athletes. It is too time consuming and requires too much energy. Using that fault, I developed the Kinetic Chain Enhancement modules, which is a system that uses a myriad of body work techniques such as acupressure points that instantly give increases in flexibility.
  • Always reward behavior/effort not qualities. For example, you made a better a choice, and you say to yourself “You are great”. There is a better approach. Instead, say to yourself: “ I am
    impressed with the ability to make the right choice out of love for yourself”. One the best books you could ever read is “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol S. Dweck. Contrary to most fluffy self-help books, she uses peer reviewed research to provide her advice.
  • Learn on how to meditate. I always knew meditation was good, but not THAT good. Actually, to be completely truthful, it is one of the things where you wished you had actually listened to people. Thanks to Janet “The Passion Test” Attwood, I got to learn transcendental meditation along with Brendan Burchard and Joe Polish. The invested 20 minutes twice a day, has already paid off as in fatherhood, teaching leader, and of course in the weight room.

There is an old Hindhu saying: “The World is as we are”. Are you tired of seeing the condition of the world around you? Start by changing yourself- be the change you want to see in world. Be what you want to attract more in your life. Being loving to yourself is the fastest way to enjoy a more fun and productive life.

Coach Charles R. Poliquin

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Alan Andersen

Entering Thanksgiving week, we are reminded about the importance of gratitude and giving thanks. So how can you as a leader apply this to your team?  Here is an article by Michael Hyatt highlighting Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski) of Duke University, who is the is the winningest coach in college basketball. 

As a leader, he challenged his players to focus on gratitude. Find out what he asked them to do and the inspiring end result! A great read!

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Your Coach, 



One Simple and Proven Reason Gratitude is the Winning Attitude

Before their 2015 tournament, Coach K and his players and coaches wrote the names of people who had helped them on a ball. They took it with them everywhere they went.

“Players started carrying the ball around—to team meals, on the plane, at practices, in the locker room,” Coach K told Success magazine. “Some of the guys even slept with it—had it right there with them in their rooms.”

It kept gratitude at the center of their game. And it helped them win. Why?

There are several reasons, but here’s one we probably don’t think about enough: Positive emotions like gratitude help us become more resilient. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never met anyone who wins at very much for very long without resiliency.
What’s the connection? The are at least three ways gratitude encourages resilience. And these apply to athletes, entrepreneurs, parents, leaders … anyone.

  1. Gratitude keeps us hopeful. Gratitude is a contrast game. We remember something one way, then something else happened to improve it. Suddenly, we have something to be thankful for.

That process teaches us something critical about life. While our circumstances might be bad, they can also be better. And our stories prove it to us again and again. Gratitude keeps us positive, optimistic, and able to keep coming back for more when life throws obstacles in our way.

  1. Gratitude reminds us that we have agency. This might seem counter-intuitive, but it’s true—and super, super important. It seems counter-intuitive because gratitude involves giving thanks for what we couldn’t manage on our own. But you know what they say about unopened gifts.

If we didn’t use our agency to receive and act on what others have done for us, we wouldn’t have benefited.

Coach K and his players highlight this. None of them would have made it to the tournament without the names on that ball, but they still did the blocking, shooting, and rebounding. And because of what they were already doing with the gifts others had given, they knew they could keep blocking, shooting, and rebounding.

  1. Gratitude expands our possible responses. I talk a lot about the difference between abundance and scarcity and how it affects our lives. Gratitude moves us into a place of abundance—a place where we’re more resourceful, creative, generous, optimistic, and kind. When we’re operating from a place of scarcity, it tends to make us reactionary, close-minded, tight-fisted, gloomy, and even mean.

Positive emotions, say researchers, “broaden one’s thought–action repertoire, expanding the range of cognitions and behaviors that come to mind. These broadened mindsets, in turn, build an individual’s physical, intellectual, and social resources.” In other words, make us more resilient.
They call it the “broaden-and-build theory.” But most of us know this from practical experience. We feel better, perform better, and respond to life’s ups and downs better when we’re grateful.
Coach K is one of the best basketball coaches of all time for a lot of reasons. One is gratitude. And his example can and should inspire the rest of us who want to win at work and succeed at life.
Originally submitted by Michael Hyatt. Article adapted. 

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What Choice Will you Make?

Alan Andersen


Everyday we are given the opportunity to make choices. The article below by Seth Godin, discusses how our attitude is the most important choice we will make.

The brain naturally gravitates toward the negative. We have been talking about the perils of a judgmental attitude and how it is a cancer in relationships. Every working person knows how it wreaks havoc in the workplace and sends everyone home in a bad mood. As leaders, we need to train people to think differently and arm them with tools to think positively and appreciate diversity of thought.

Awareness of what our motivators and values are helps us avoid judging others. Instead we learn to accept that people think differently than and are motivated differently than we are. Thus it shields us from the hazards of being a critical person.

Your Coach, 


The Choice

Attitude is the most important choice any of us will make. We made it yesterday and we get another choice to make it today. And then again tomorrow.

The choice to participate.

To be optimistic.

To intentionally bring out the best in other people.

We make the choice to inquire, to be curious, to challenge the status quo.

To give people the benefit of the doubt.

To find hope instead of fear in the face of uncertainty.

Of course these are attitudes. What else could they be?

And of course, they are a choice. No one does these things to us. We choose them and do the work (and find the benefits) that come with them.

Originally posted on Seth's Blog.


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Five Ways Leaders Lose Credibility

Alan Andersen

Credibility - while it takes years to build a reputation and credibility, it takes mere moments to destroy it.

My friend Dave Kraft shared this blog post on credibility and I think you will find value in the content. As he states: Credibility is essential in leadership. I agree!

Your Coach,


team and boss.png

Credibility is key in leadership. When you have lost your credibility your leadership is pretty much over. What causes a leader to loose credibility with followers. Here are five of them from Eric Geiger,

In The Leadership Challenge, researchers and authors, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner claim that the most important leadership characteristic is credibility. Based on extensive research over two decades, they write that “more than anything, we want leaders who are credible. People must be able to believe in their leaders.” Without credibility a “leader” won’t be leading long.
With similar thinking, Aristotle believed that effective communicators possess logic, passion, and credibility (logos, pathos, and ethos). A communicator without credibility is a communicator who won’t really be heard.

Credibility is essential in leadership. Here are five common ways leaders lose their credibility:

1. Lack of humility
Pride is repulsive. Over time, people loathe following someone who continually displays pride. Leaders who are unwilling to admit mistakes, who think everyone else’s ideas are inferior to their own, and who never asks for help lose credibility over time … and in escalating amounts.

2. Lack of clarity
When a leader fails to offer clarity of mission or clarity of values, people are unsure of their collective mission and their collective identity. When clarity is absent, trust erodes. An unclear leader loses credibility as people look to leaders for direction.

3. Lack of love
A leader without love is a clanging cymbal. A leader who continually is angry, not hospitable, and views people as tools instead of people with value decidedly loses the heart of those he/she is seeking to lead.

4. Lack of moral authority
People do not expect their leaders to be perfect. But they do expect their leaders to be men and women of character and integrity. A leader whose life lacks integrity is a leader who lacks the authority to really lead.

5. Lack of serving
Leaders who never get their hands dirty, who never step into the context of those they are leading, who never experience what their teams experience lose credibility to lead. They are perceived as dictators and talking heads and not leaders who serve alongside those they lead.

Originally submitted by Eric Geiger

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How's Your Motivation?

Alan Andersen


As a leader, the success of your business relies on how well you keep your team motivated. You have to be intentional, creative, and when it comes to your people, know what motivates them!  

John Rampton shares in his article below, 4 Ways to Motivate Employees to Achieve Phenomenal Results Every Day.  Rampton says: "Many entrepreneurs have started companies by themselves but none has ever grown a company by themselves."

This is so true!   How are you going to fuel your team today?

Your Coach, 


Motivating your employees’ day-in and day-out is no easy task. But, if you want to keep them engaged, productive, and happy, then it’s a necessity if you want your business to thrive. Not only will your employees give you their all, they’ll also be more inclined to stay with you, which reduces the cost of hiring and training new employees.

If you’re looking for a good starting point, here are four ways to motivate your employees to be phenomenal every day.

1. Identify and retain your A-Players.
Arguably the most important way to motivate your employees everyday is to make sure that you have people who are talented and can fit your company’s culture. In other words, you want to surround yourself with people who are, as Brent Frei, executive chairman and co-founder of Smartsheet, describes as “A-Players.”
Your A-players are trustworthy and reliable. They have good communication skills and insatiable curiosity about how things work. They set a high-bar for themselves and are willing to take calculated risks to achieve big results. You increase your odds of retaining them long term by allowing them to take control and accept responsibility on tasks or projects. Challenge them to them to work on difficult projects. Provide them with regular feedback and build trust by being honest and transparent, like sharing day-to-day revenue. Rewarding their hard work with everything from saying “thank you” to giving them a bonus or raise is, of course, essential.

Frei’s process achieves two goals. It inspires your top talent to be the best that they can be and weeds out toxic employees who aren’t pulling their own weight.
2. Live your mission statement.
One of my all-time TED Talks is from leadership expert Simon Sinek where he discussed the value of "why."
"Every single person, every single organization on the planet knows what they do, 100%. . . But very, very few people or organizations know why they do what they do. And by "why" I don't mean "to make a profit." By "why," I mean: What's your purpose? What's your cause?"

Inspirational leaders provide their employees with a sense of meaning. And you can find that sense of meaning by revisiting the mission statement that won over investors and partners. The reason? It outlined your goals, what you want to achieve, the steps to achieve those goals, and why you want to come into work each and every day.

You mission statement convinced investors to financially support you with their hard-earned money, so it should also be used to motivate your employees on a daily basis to help you achieve your, and theirs, dreams.

3. Tap Into their passions.
When employees are passionate they’re engaged and productive, but how can you tap into their passions?

For starters, regularly meet with them one-on-one to discuss their goals and values. You can then provide them with advice and the resources to harness their skills to achieve those goals. For example, you could provide training or offer to pay for them to take an online course or college class to make them stronger and more well-rounded team members.
Another tactic is to have employees rotate positions. Along the way, they may discover that they enjoy that new position and are now doing a job that they love. Connect their work with something that they love and they’ll be more motivated, engaged, and productive.
4. Create a Happy and Productive Work Environment
I am thoroughly impressed with the workplace environment that Google has built. It’s just amazing. Google offers unique perks and benefits like reimbursement of up to $5000 to employees for legal expenses, 18-weeks of maternity benefits for both parents, free lunch and dinners, and on-site fitness center, car wash and dry cleaner. A forum every Friday allows employee to get questions answered by team leaders
The list of what Google does to motivate its team is long. 

  • Employees have the freedom and flexibility to tackle projects on their own terms, working the hours that they work.
  • Google encourages employees to work on passion projects. That’s how Gmail got it’s start.
  • The workplace is actually be fun. Google has things like pajama days and employees can take breaks to play volleyball, bowl, or rock climb.
  • There’s also unconventional office designs like conference rooms that look like an Irish Pub. Also, Google allows employees to design their own work areas.

Even if you don’t have a budget or the resources like Google, there are simple, and affordable, ways to create a happy and productive work environment.

  • Keep your office clean, organized, and comfortable.
  • Make sure that it’s well-lighted. Natural light is the best option, but if not, then have light fixtures with filters.
  • Create a quiet space where employees can relax.
  • Encourage employees to personalize their work areas by selecting their own desks and decorating it how they please.
  • Hold fun activities like birthday and holiday parties or weekly events like an ice-cream social.
  • Encourage wellness by offering gym memberships or even just doing yoga in the office.
  • Create spaces where teams can collaborate with each other to complete a project.
  • Be flexible with their work hours. Maybe you can allow them work remotely once a week or leave at 3pm so that they can pickup their children from school.

Here is to making the best office environment possible.
Originally posted on

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The Top 10 Fears that Keep People from Getting What They Want in Life

Alan Andersen


There are many things that can prevent humans from attaining what they need and want in their life. Probably the biggest obstacle that comes disguised in many "costumes" is fear. Fear can paralyze us, it can prevent us from making decisions, from taking any action, from asking for what we want, and from even realizing what it is that we truly value and need and want in our life. The following are the more common areas where fear shows up. A famous quote which is very helpful to remember when facing fears is, "Fear knocked at the door, and faith answered, and no one was there."

1. Fear of Failing.

This has traditionally been one of the things people say they are most afraid of when asked why they did not do something or try something. It is based on old ideas that everything we do has to be entirely successful (or even just successful) and that there even is such a thing as a real failure!

2. Fear of Success.

As with fearing failure, many people are just as afraid of succeeding. To them, success could mean more responsibility, more attention, perhaps more liability, and a continued pressure to perform at a high level. Many of us were taught to be prepared for failure and not for success, so we are therefore more afraid of it.

3. Fear of Being Judged.

We grew up wanting the approval of our parents and peers. This carries through to adulthood for many, and can create real problems if the fear that others are constantly judging us keeps us from doing what we want or need to do, and from going after our dreams and our goals. Judging others or ourselves is a waste of time and serves no positive purpose.

4. Fear of Emotional Pain.

This, like all fears, is one where we can only suffer or allow ourselves to feel pain if we give permission for it. Life is full of lessons, and within those lessons people make mistakes and errors and experience some kind of let down. That let down does not have to turn into emotional pain nor suffering unless we give it the green light to do so.

5. Fear of Embarrassment

Most people do not like the feelings associated with making mistakes publicly, usually because they allow themselves to feel ashamed, or they assume people view them as foolish. This again is a place where we have the choice to allow ourselves to live and to not be concerned with the judgments or opinions of others.

6. Fear of Being Alone/Abandoned.

For many, the fear of being alone keeps them in relationships (personal and business) even though they are abused and miserable. Others fear speaking their true feelings for fear their friends, colleagues, or loved ones will turn away from them or abandon them. Realize that we are never really alone, and that if people reject us or leave us because we are honest about our feelings, we are better off without those people in our life. There will always be new friends, new colleagues, and new projects we can become involved with which will keep us connected to others and we need not ever feel alone. As one builds a strong sense of their self worth and what they have to offer the world, the fear of being alone fades.

7. Fear of Rejection.

When we take a social or professional risk, there is usually the potential that what we say or the ideas we present might be rejected or not accepted as we had hoped. And so? The rejection of an idea or even the rejection of us personally does not mean we are not worthy, talented in our work, or otherwise desirable. It means a person or group of people views something(s) differently than we do. Period. So rather than take it to the heart and feel like we are a leper who has been shunned, or an idiot whose ideas are all bad, it is productive to view it as a single incident where what we had to offer was not compatible with what others were wanting, and move on. We have a lot of other people to meet and who will accept us freely, and we also have many others who might like our idea that someone else rejected. We need to move on, not take it as a personal attack, and keep being ourselves and create what we know to be positive work and social contributions.

8. Fear of Expressing Our True Feelings.


Lack of good, clear, honest communication has ruined more than one relationship, business or business transaction. It is vital, if we are to be successful in our life, to be able and willing to express our true and honest feelings to our loved ones, our colleagues, our adversaries, and even to ourselves. If we do not know how we feel, we need to take time to discover that. If we need help, we need to ask for help. Honest, open communication, delivered in a non-abusive non- violent manner, is a learned habit. Once learned, it is much easier to do, and practiced regularly, it does more to enrich and keep our lives in balance than almost any other thing we can do.

9. Fear of Intimacy.

While many think of intimacy as strictly having sexual connotations, it encompasses much more. It is actually the highest and best form of being and communicating with other people (or another person). Most importantly, true intimacy is made up of unconditional love for the people with whom we share it. Unconditional love is not easy for many to learn and master, but it is essential if one wants to learn to be a tolerant, non-judgmental person who respects both the needs and the wants of the other people in their life.

10. Fear of the Unknown

Life is full of unknowns. The best any of us can do is to know what our values and needs and standards are, and use that to determine what we are willing to spend our time and money on throughout our life. This includes some risks, but so does driving a car, crossing the street, or playing any sport. If we stay in the present moment time frame, we will not allow the fears of anything that happened or that we heard from the past to influence us. If we do not allow ourselves to think into the future and worry or "what if," we will not allow ourselves to incorporate any needless anticipatory and totally speculative anxieties into our mind. The unknown can be exciting and vast in a very positive way, especially if we use our common sense, our intuition and heart-felt feelings, and our values and standards barometer to guide us from moment to moment, day to day, and project to project. More often than not, that which we fear might happen never does, and if so, we are much more prepared for it than we imagined we would be when we were worrying.

Your Coach,


This piece was originally submitted by Dennis R. Tesdel

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The Top 10 Ways to Give Your Self More Time

Alan Andersen


In our quest for personal growth we often discover that our time is more valuable than ever.  We desire to invest in our time in things that are a part of our values, priorities, and passion.  We hope this list gives you some new ideas for how to facilitate that process in your own life!

The Top 10 Ways to Give Your Self More Time

Your day starts in a rush and continues on pretty much at the same pace until the end of the day when you collapse on your bed and have to struggle to quiet your mind chatter so you can get some sleep and do it all over again. Does this sound familiar?

How would it feel to have more time to do the things you love doing and to feel more at peace as you go through your day? It is possible.

1. Eliminate redundant activities and things that do not add value to who you are or what you do.

Limit the amount of TV, electronic games and other such activities to 5 hours a week (if that). These types of mind-numbing activities should be used sparingly. Eliminate anything that does not contribute to your personal or professional development. Ask yourself whether the information is nice-to-know versus need-to-know. Eliminate redundant activities to free up valuable time for more enjoyable activities.

2. Stop putting up with stuff.

When you stop putting up with stuff, you are redefining your self and raising your standards. There is great power in choice. When you choose to no longer put up with stuff, you have more energy and time to focus on the things that matter.

3. Value your time.

Don’t let others steal your time with unnecessary interruptions or long conversations. If others come to you with gossip, stop it. If you value your time, others will. Time equals life. How you spend each minute/hour/day of your life is your choice.

4. Eliminate the rush.

If you are someone who constantly runs late, drives too fast, procrastinates or avoids things, you may be an adrenaline addict. Stop the triggering behavior and avoid crisis mode. Arrive 15 minutes early for every appointment. Drive slower – you have the time. Eliminate procrastinating from your life, just get it done and you will increase your energy reserve and decrease your stress. Under promise and over deliver. Slowing down, doing less and taking care of yourself physically will actually give you MORE energy.

5. Organize.

Eliminating the mental and physical clutter in your life will allow you to focus more on getting things accomplished. Only touch a piece of material once and deal with it using the 3D model – Do it, Delegate it or Dump it. Resolve personal issues and issues that hold you back.

6. Do less. Simplify everything.

Stop doing things that are not a good use of your time. Learn to delegate. Automate anything and everything you can. Learn to say no to things that are not the best use of your time. Eliminate 50% of your projects. Stay involved in only 3 associations, volunteer organizations or Boards of Directors. Boredom is the gatekeeper to peace. Once you have simplified enough to bring boredom, you can fill the space with things you really enjoy. Do less; you will have more.

7. Identify your priorities. Live by them.

If you value spending time with your kids and you are working late every night, you are not living by your own values. Have your actions reflect your values. Stop comparing yourself to others and create your own standards. Identify and eliminate anything that gets in the way of living by your priorities.

8. Realize that you are already perfect – perfectly human.

Perfectionism is a great time-waster and energy-drainer. It doesn’t work. Don’t take life so seriously. Mistakes are our way of inviting lessons. These lessons are perfect for our growth. Be abundantly human and know that we are all perfect in our humanness; what is not perfect is our definition of perfect.

9. Take care of yourself.

Regular maintenance is necessary for your car and computer to run in perfect order. Your body, mind and soul need regular maintenance and fueling to run smoothly as well. Regular doses of exercise, meditation (15 minutes of quite time daily) and soul food (music, dancing, touch, etc.) rejuvenates and energizes you. This is necessary to maintain your engine in perfect working condition. If you are calm and at peace, you are in better condition to be productive.

10. Focus on Being rather than Doing.

If you rush through life you avoid being yourself. Give yourself permission to be a human being rather than a human doing. In school we are taught to think but no one ever teaches us how to feel our feelings and express them appropriately. Feelings are so important in decision-making, problem solving and goal setting. Give yourself time to reflect and experience your feelings. When you experience your feelings, you save time and energy by addressing the underlying issue right away. Learn to just be with yourself. When you have time to think and breathe, you let the creative juices to flow and you are able to synthesize the information and ideas that surface. When we are too busy doing, there is no time to consider the possibilities.

Your Coach,


This piece was originally submitted by Julie Fuimano 


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How To Truly Be Effective

Alan Andersen

There are few people that are leading effectively like Dave Kraft! Over the years, he has been an endless source of wisdom and passion for our firm. 

Today we learn from Dave Kraft about how we can truly be effective. In his words...

it all basically comes down to one thing…in many cases:


I had a coaching call with one of my clients recently and the entire call was pretty much a discussion about some bad habits he had gotten into and what he needed to do to break the vicious cycle and build some good habits.

Much of life, in general, and of the life of a leader, in particular, is all about breaking bad habits and forming good habits; as we are led by him, empowered by him and seek to honor Him.

Habits in how we are:

1) Using time

2) Spending money

3) Making decisions

4) Dealing with Conflict

5) Reading

6) Leading meetings

7) Hiring the right people

8) Letting the wrong people go

9) Continuing to grow ourselves and our leadership potential

10) Sleeping

11) Exercising

12) Eating

Using the above list what bad habits, over time, have you allowed yourself to get into?

There is something commendable about, by his grace, trying to stop doing things which are hurting you and the ministry and to, instead, start doing thing which will help you and the ministry. In a sense, we are all creatures of habit to one degree or another, for better or worse.

Let’s stop over-spiritualizing what’s wrong and look at our habits which are getting us into trouble…maybe even lots of trouble.

Oh, it’s the devil, or it’s this town, or it’s the people in my church or organization.  Maybe it’s YOU!  Maybe it’s some bad habits you have allowed to creep in, start with yourself. I have the habit of (fill in the blank).

By way of application, ask yourself these two questions:

1) What is one habit I have gotten into which is hurting me and the work I’m called to do?

2) What can I, will I, do to stop that habit and start building the habit of doing things differently which could make all the difference in the world?

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Go Ahead, Take That Vacation!

Alan Andersen

As Summer begins to wind down, it often means our thoughts turn to the next season where things get busy and life begins to change. But wait! It's not too late to enjoy one last summer vacation. Michael Hyatt shares how to optimize time off and come back refreshed in his article, Go Ahead Leaders, Take That Vacation

Go Ahead Leaders, Take That Vacation

7 Strategies to Optimize Your Time Off and Come Back Refreshed

The days are getting shorter again, but it’s not too late to take a few days off before the end of summer. August is often the perfect month to take some time away from work.

You should consider getting away for a bit because you probably need it. Vacations are vital for rejuvenation, especially for high-achievers.

And yet people constantly tell me they don’t know how to get time away or what to do with themselves when they get time off. So I’ve put together 7 strategies for how leaders can best plan and enjoy vacations.

1. Understand the Various Types of Vacations

Vacations come in different varieties. There are spiritual pilgrimages, health improvement vacations, change of pace vacations, rest and relaxation vacations, sightseeing vacations, and other kinds of vacations. You can see one longer list here.

2. Choose the Vacation that Makes Sense for You

There is no wrong answer, but it’s helpful to know what kind of vacation you want so that you can plan accordingly. Money matters as a consideration. I wouldn’t go into debt to go on a vacation, but that shouldn’t stop you from taking time off.

If you just need a change of pace, a “staycation” might work for you. Don’t go into the office, don’t commute, ignore all email and other social networks, and just have a good time with family and friends. Maybe read some books that you’ve been putting off, barbecue in the backyard, and sleep in.

Several years ago—when I was still CEO of Thomas Nelson—my family joined me after a business trip to Brazil with a rest and relaxation vacation in the fishing village of Buzios. We hung out there for a week, and it was totally refreshing. We ate fresh fish every day. We got massages. We laid out in the sun. It was fantastic.

3. Get Caught Up Before You Leave

I’m never more productive than I am in the few days before I go on vacation. Even if you have to work late for a few nights before you leave, you’re going to rest better knowing your physical and digital inboxes are empty and that there’s not some important task left half-done.

4. Delegate Authority to Act in Your Absence

If you don’t have anybody working for you, this may not be important. But if you’re a leader and you have a department or executive assistant or people counting on you for decisions, then you have to set this up.

If you already have a number 2 to delegate that authority to, that’s great. If not, then I suggest you do what I did at Thomas Nelson. I picked someone and sent an email out to the leadership team saying “While I’m away, I’ve authorized Joe to make any decisions that need to be made on my behalf. He has my complete confidence. Whatever decisions he makes will have my support when I return.”

5. Set Other People’s Expectations

Sending that email is an important part of setting other people’s expectations for what to do at work while you’re on vacation. If you don’t tell people you’re on vacation, they’re not going to know. They’re going to still send you emails or make phone calls, and they’re going to expect a response.

You have to make sure your voicemail and your email notifications are turned on (you know, your out-of-office messages). You have to tell people you’re not going to be checking messages. Then tell them what to do in case of an emergency.

You should also tell them when you’re going to return, and tell them not to expect replies to messages sent while you were on vacation. If it’s not resolved by the time you’re back, they can contact you again about it.

6. Focus on the Purpose of Your Vacation

Focusing on the vacation helps you to be fully present. Don’t think about the office. Don’t think about all the stuff you left undone, which, if you followed the previous step, you didn’t do. Don’t wonder what’s happening in your absence. Don’t think about what you’re going to be doing when you get back. Don’t be planning the future.

Instead, really focus on the people you’re with and the purpose for which you went on the vacation to begin with. Enjoy doing something wholly different from your usual workaday routine. This is the whole point of vacations. Miss it, and you’ll miss out.

7. Block Out a “Catch up Day” for Your Return

On the day I come back to work after a vacation, I have no meetings and take no phone calls. Usually, in my out-of-office message, I tell people that I’m coming back to work a day later than the day I come back to town. I don’t lie about it. I say, “I’ll be available on such-and-such a day.”

That gives me some buffer time when I can really catch up, where I can process email and other inboxes. Then I can hit the ground running again, feeling both refreshed and totally caught up.

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How to be a Leader who Coaches

Alan Andersen

At Shandel Group we are committed to helping you become the best leader you can be. If you've ever wondered how to become a great leader and coach to those on your team, the Ken Blanchard blog recently shared these great tips: 5 Important Coaching Techniques Every Leader Should Practice.

Your Coach,


More and more organizations are looking for their managers to use coach-like behaviors in conversations with their direct reports.

Here are five of the most important techniques coaches use in their conversations with clients.

Consider how these techniques could help the managers in your organization be more coach-like in their communication style.

  • Be fully present. Practice being fully present in your conversations with people. Avoid distractions, give undivided attention, and show you care. Of course, we all know this is easier said than done—but this alone can go a long way toward building trust.
  • Get, and keep, the conversation focused. It is easier to help a direct report move forward, faster, if they are the one who declares a specific focus for the discussion. Having them establish a focus creates a more deliberate and intentional conversation. Keep in mind there will be times when the conversation goes off topic. When it does, the manager is expected to get the conversation back on track.
  • Ask mostly open-ended questions, especially those starting with what and how. Open-ended questions promote discovery for the other person. The most essential questions coaches ask are what and how questions that help direct reports discover their own answers or course of action.
  • Stay action focused. Help the direct report create a plan of action that will move them forward. Share coaching questions such as “What do you think you need to do now?” As much as possible, keep the ownership of the plan, and any actions, in the direct report’s court. Actions they take may turn out to be excellent growth opportunities. Keeping the ball in the other court allows managers to get on to other things on their to-do list.
  • Follow up. Check in with direct reports on their progress, their learnings, and any challenges they might be facing. Doing this helps them keep what they said they would do top of mind. It also shows them again that you care—which is never a bad thing.

There are many ways for managers to incorporate a coaching style to help people develop more competence and confidence. The ideas above are in no way a complete list, but I encourage you to have the managers in your organization give them a try. Practicing coach-like behaviors in your conversations creates a learning environment not only for those you coach, but for you as well.

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How to Give Feedback that Actually Works!

Alan Andersen

This week, we are talking about constructive feedback. Here are some suggestions to help you get the conversation started with your team. Below, 13 entrepreneurs share some insight on how they communicate with their key people when they start sliding in their performance.

In your own experience, what has worked for you?

Your Coach,


How to Give Your Employees Feedback That Actually Works: 13 Suggestions

Is a key staff member suddenly underperforming? Here’s how to tell them the truth.

Your team can make or break your company. So what do you do when a valued employee isn’t living up to expectations or performing to their full potential? Fourteen entrepreneurs fromYEC share the best ways to deliver constructive feedback or criticism.

1. Find out what it is about their job that isn’t living up to their expectations.
Make the conversation about what that employee wants for his/her future. What type of career do they want? What do they think are their strengths and weaknesses? If you can frame it in a way that prioritizes getting the most out of their potential, they will be much more receptive to your concerns about their current productivity.–Simon Casuto, eLearning Mind

2. Use the sandwich technique.
When you have to criticize someone for any reason, always say something nice to begin with, then provide a bit of constructive criticism before ending with something else positive. It works every time.–Bobby Emamian, Prolific Interactive

3. Use the “2 ears, 1 mouth” approach.
My granddad advised, “You’ve got 2 ears, 1 mouth. So listen double.” First, ask the employee to self-evaluate. Their answer tells you if they’re honest or delusional. Many times they’ll suggest a solution. They’ll commit to an internal solution far more than anything you’d suggest. When it’s my turn, I commend one thing they feel they’re doing well. Then I dig in with where they must improve. -Joshua Lee, StandOut Authority

4. Schedule reviews regularly so issues don’t build up.
We have a review cycle that takes place every 6 weeks. These reviews are a free back-and-forth exchange about how things are going, what’s working and what’s not. The frequency makes sure that strong relationships grow and no small issue has time to evolve into something larger.–Robert J. Moore, RJMetrics

5. Understand the roadblocks they’re facing first.
Your lowest performing employee may not actually be the weakest link within your firm. Before offering advice, listen carefully to what may be hindering true productivity. Help eliminate those roadblocks, then see if performance has changed. If so, then you avoid an awkward conversation which challenges a person’s worth. If not, then you may directly diagnose and address the problem.–Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep

6. Get personal.
Talk to employees on a human level and refer to a time in your own career where you received similar feedback. We all make mistakes and have personal growth opportunities, and sharing your own experiences with the employee can soften the message and get the discussion focused on improvement.–John Tabis, The Bouqs Company

7. Begin with a positive.
The person has to be doing something right. Initiate the conversation with that, and follow with an “and” rather than a “but.” For example: “Alex, you’re doing a wonderful job managing the client database, and I’d like to see you take more initiative to solicit updates for it.” This approach will put the employee in the right frame of mind (i.e. nondefensive) to receive the feedback. -Alexandra Levit, Inspiration at Work

8. Split the ownership.
At RTC, we’re known for our interventions. When someone has a blind spot that is not serving them, our clients, or our company, we have a responsibility to make them aware and then challenge them to engage in coaching to overcome the issue. We split the ownership by saying, “This is going to be awesome for both you and the company.” And we offer to split the cost of the coaching. Works every time.–Corey Blake, Round Table Companies

9. Reiterate their importance to your business.
A common tactic most people use is leading in with one positive for every negative comment, which is always helpful. I think it’s a good idea to take it one step further and reinforce that they’re part of the team, and everyone is working toward the same goals. This can prevent them from feeling singled out.–Daniel Wesley,

10. Be clear from the get-go about expectations.
Be clear about what you expect from your employees from the beginning. A lot of disappointment can be avoided if everyone is on the same page. When you do need to deliver constructive feedback, be honest and straightforward about it, understand where they are coming from and create an action plan with them to improve it. No one benefits if you don’t respond promptly when you’re disappointed.–Basha Rubin, Priori Legal

11. Give specific details about the impact of their actions.
People always wants to know where they stand, whether good or bad, so they can focus more on what they’re doing right or wrong. But delivering the news is key. Try to word it in a way where the job they’re doing is letting their teammates down and putting more pressure on others. Give specific details so they clearly understand.–Michael Sinensky, Village Pourhouse

12. Make it about us, not them.
Most likely, if a good employee isn’t living up to expectations, you as a leader haven’t provided them a clear path to the goal. So take some responsibility and make it a “we” conversation with them. How can we work together to fix these problems? How can we make the end goal clear and work together to get there? They will be more receptive to change, plus you’ll learn something and become better too.–Kyle Clayton, Better Creative

13. Whatever you do, don’t sugarcoat it.
If an employee is not performing, it is your duty to clearly communicate your exact expectations and discern the nature of the issue. If you did your job and hired the right person it could be something else, personal or professional. But if you decide to let the person go, be sure to do so with respect and dignity. How you treat people who have been promoted out will have a direct impact on morale. –Joseph DiTomaso, AllTheRooms

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Meetings: Time-wasters or Team-builders?

Alan Andersen

Have you ever been frustrated when thinking about the meetings you go to? Here are some great observations and ideas from Dave Kraft. As you read, consider how you can contribute to more effective meetings in your own workplace, team, or organization.

Your Coach,



Many leaders spend a fair amount of hours sitting in meetings which are always mentioned in surveys as the biggest time waster.

For the most part, meetings I have experienced over 49 years of leadership are poorly prepared, poorly executed, with poor follow-up.

One of the key issues is that we spend too much time discussing and not enough time pulling the trigger and making decisions. We can discuss something to death, but seem afraid to make the necessary decisions.

There are a number of reasons that meetings have a well-deserved bad rap. Here are a few:

1.  There is no clear purpose for why we are having this meeting in the first place. Some are held simply because they have always been held…the first Monday of every month.

2.  There is no agenda so people are not prepared by having thought through some of the issues to be discussed, getting their problem-solving skills cooking and their creative juices flowing. Additionally, it’s easy to go down rabbit trails with no clear pathway for the meeting

3.  Some of the people who need to be there (for whatever reason) are not there and some who are there don’t need to be there.

4.  The meetings start too late and take too long, often eating up more time than is actually necessary and that was originally agreed upon.

5.  No one is taking notes so there is a lack of clarity on what (if anything) was decided, who is responsible for executing the decision(s), what the time-line is for the execution and how this person(s) will be held accountable?

6.  We optimistically think we can accomplish more than is realistic, so go longer or leave with a lot of unfinished items which is always frustrating

Do any of these sound familiar to you? What can you do (whether you lead your meetings or not) to address some of these common reasons for “Poor Meetings?”

In my thinking, there are three kinds of meetings:

1.  Meetings where the ball is moved down the field

The agenda is followed without allowing things to go down rabbit trails. It is clear from the get-go what needs to be discussed and what needs to be decided. It is clear who has authority to make certain decisions. If it is not clear who can and will make the final call, not much will happen, to most everyone’s disappointment.

2.  Meetings where we sit on the ball

In meetings where you are striving for consensus, it takes only one person to hold everyone hostage. I was in a meeting once (as a consultant) where the same topic came up yet again and was voted down by one individual. I was told afterward that this same person has been doing this for a number of years and they have never been able to make this decision because they feel they need to have 100% unanimity. Lord, have mercy!

There is a difference between taking your time and patiently waiting before making a decision and simply procrastinating because you feel you need more time or more information. In many cases you will never have all the information you would like to have, but more than likely have enough to make an intelligent, God-honoring decision.

3.  Meetings where we actually allow the ball to move backward

In some meetings we can actually move the ball backward by second-guessing ourselves and reversing a decision which has already been made because we have thought of more reasons not to make it; among them, caving to the fear of what others may think or the fear of making a wrong decision.

Here are some simple, but helpful, ideas on making decisions in your meetings. These are from the little book “Managing Your Time,” by Ted Engstrom, which I purchased for 95 cents in the 1960s.  What follows here is as relevant today as it was when first written in 1967--for sure an oldie-but-goody.

  • Don’t make decisions under stress
  • Don’t make snap decisions
  • Don’t drag your feet
  • Consult other people
  • Don’t try to anticipate everything
  • Don’t be afraid of making a wrong decision
  • Once the decision is made, go ahead to something else

Readiness to risk failure is probably the one quality that best characterizes the effective leader.  Never vacillate in making a decision.  Indecision at the top breeds lack of confidence and hesitancy throughout an organization.

Indecision ranks high among the time robbers, frequently resulting from fear of failure.  Failure to make timely decisions can result in significant long-run waste of effort and loss of time.

It has often been observed that a less desirable decision made in a timely fashion and implemented with discernment may result in far more progress than the best decision which is first delayed then implemented with hesitancy.

The risk of decision-making is inherent in the executive position.  Those unwilling to take the risks involved do not belong in this position.  Most important, yet perhaps least recognized, is the factor of time allowed for corrective action by a decision made and implemented in a timely way.  Even if it is not the best decision, prompt action often provides the added margin of time for correction.

-Adapted from an article by Dave Kraft.

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Worry is a False Sense of Control

Alan Andersen

Everyone has fear. The courageous learn to not listen to fear. Instead they choose to take action and press through to do what’s right.

The cowardly learn to listen to fear. They choose either passivity or control to hide behind — and ultimately compromise their values resulting in a boring meaningless life.

Either way it’s a choice. Your choice.

False Sense of Control

For me, choosing to not worry is nothing short of a miracle every day. Yes I fail sometimes. But what I notice is that when I stop myself, whatever I am thinking about is not that urgent, rational, or even real. When I stop the thought, nothing in my life changes!

You know why? Worry is trying to control the future, which clearly cannot be done. When we are anxious it is never about the present, it always about the future — and our need to control it.

Worry is a big fat lie and a false sense of control — which is addicting if you haven’t noticed.

During a coaching call, I had a client share about his victory over anxiety. He shared that his “A-HA” was that he is really good at solving problems and even better when it is a crisis. He is sometimes at his best in those situations. Therefore, why worry that something might happen when, first of all, it rarely ever comes true, and secondly, when it does, he is the man for the job to solve the problem quickly and efficiently? He has his joy back.

Learn to Trust

It’s true. We have what it takes to solve most problems! We all struggle with different fears, depending on how we are wired. Your fears may not even faze me, while my fears might make you laugh.

I am learning how much I suck at trust and lean heavily on worry for a false sense of security and control. However, I am learning the great lesson of trusting in something bigger than myself for that 3% of negative that might happen, and to leave the 97% behind (or at least for tomorrow to worry about LOL).

Live Fearlessly!

I often will ask my clients, “What if the fear of ______ (name area here) did not exist in your life, then what would you do?” The answers that pour forth are so amazing and life-giving it always gives me goosebumps. Try it right now and you will see what I mean.

Dismiss worry from your life! Or at least try it out for a few weeks. Do not allow yourself to worry and see what happens!

Let me know your thoughts below.

Fearlessly Your Coach,


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To Follow Through or Not to Follow Through?

Alan Andersen

To follow through or to not follow through — that is NOT the question! The question, what does it look like in your world to be a master of the skills of Follow-Up and Follow-Through? (See previous blog entries for the Why and the How!)

You are a master of Follow-Up and Follow-Through when you:

  • Have a vision for your commitments. Use visual reminders in your work area to boost your motivation.
  • Provide encouragement and motivation to others. You’ll uplift yourself in the process.
  • Follow prevailing standard operating procedures (if established) until you can improve on them. Model your actions on someone successful.
  • Plan your processes ahead of time. Create checklists so you don’t have to rely on memory to ensure each step is completed.
  • Schedule next steps using specific dates and times. Use business tools such as mobile devices or computer calendars to set automatic reminders at the time you schedule.
  • Respect other people’s time and wishes by asking what works for them and being on time.
  • Plan to take actions every day that can move you toward your commitments.
  • Schedule periodic evaluations of your effectiveness. Identify what actions were missing that could have improved outcomes and add them to your checklists.
  • Offer resources of value to others based on their needs, working towards a win-win situation.

When it comes to sales or new business development, you as a master of Follow-Up and Follow-Through:

  • Embed your campaign with value. This is helpful for building new relationships, maintaining current ones and expanding current engagements into larger accounts.
  • Build a favorable “personal brand recognition” with your customers by using frequent, brief emails, tweets or phone calls to provide communications the customer is genuinely interested in.
  • Educate people to aid their decision-making process and motivate them to action. Help prospects move towards making a decision without pressure or hype.
  • Personalize your efforts. Plan ahead to provide something of value from the other person’s point of view.
  • Be persistent, but don’t continually pester people who have told you no. Have a valid business reason (such as new information) for asking them to reconsider.
  • Ask permission to follow up with them at a later date when they may have further needs. Set a reminder to do so.

These are just the beginning of applying Follow-Up and Follow-Through in your working world. Of course you can (and need to!) apply Follow-Up and Follow-Through in your personal life as well.

If you could use a little assistance in strengthening these skills, let us know. We’ll follow up with ya!

Your Coach,


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