A Life Well Lived

As someone who values productivity and efficiency, I decided to get a head start on some future projects.   Here is a letter I am writing to address the many,  requests I assume I will get asking me how I became amazingly successful in achieving all my goals.

Worm's Head

Worm’s Head (Photo credit: Calidenism)

I want to get a head start on this since I’ll be busy fishing on Lake Tahoe, or surfing in Hawaii, or playing with great grandkids. Inspired by Eugene O’kelly‘s heart wrenching end of life memoir,  Chasing Daylight, I am sharing with you my perspective on my life,: a life well lived.

Family and Friends,
As I enter the sunset of my life, I am humbled to reflect upon the success I have in every aspect of my life. I have been seen by many as wise, entertaining, influential, and an all around awesome guy. My most coveted awards include “Best Dad Ever”,  “Best Grandpa Ever”, and “Husband of the Year”.  My personal life has been ever as successful as my professional life.  A corporate journey through success and innovation, as well as an award winning international speaker on topics ranging from relationships to productivity, my true professional joy has come from my many best selling fiction and non-fiction books.  Traveling the world sharing my stories has brought me close to the people, You!  Every day, I inspire people to live their dreams and live a life of love and adventure.  The best part of this all is that I have shared my life with a wonderful family. As I slowly fade from public figure to legend, I would be remise if I didn’t share the “secrets” to it all.  Here are 10 things to consider in living a life well lived.
1. Priorities in order:. God, wife, kids, myself, work, everyone else.
2. Do things to help others. Money and fame are side effects.
3. Surround yourself with trusted advisors who will keep you honest.
4. Happy family life equals happy work life.
6. Maintain Friendships and don’t keep score.
7. Wake up early and be passionate about every day.
8. Exercise with purpose. (I have ran at least 2 marathons per year since 2012).
9. Wake up early and don’t waste time on things that don’t matter.
10.  Perfection has never been the goal.   Give maximum effort and the results will follow.
Rocco De Leo Ph.D.
President and CEO of DeLeo Enterprises International
May 29, 2060
How are you living well today?
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Be Intentional or be Nothing

Running through the beautiful hills of Murrieta, California, I felt like I was running  underwater.  I couldn’t maintain a respectful speed and my legs were screaming.  I have been a runner for 4 years, and for 3 of those years, I progressively grew faster and gained endurance. This last year, however, I took a step backward. Running was never anything I thought much about.  I put on shoes and ran a specific set of miles and that was is. I had “big picture goals” such as completion of my first half and my first full marathons.  There were certain trials I wished to conquer. Once completed, I didn’t create new goals other than continual running.  Singular achievement goals are great goals to have, but they are achieved and forgotten.. For me, achieving these goals marked the end of key component to my training: intentionality.

Whether running, writing, parenting, or anything important to you in your life, don’t take for granted that you will always move toward your goal “automatically”.  Yes,  it does happen. Sometimes.  Why take the chance?  The tyranny of beginners luck or the honeymoon phase of new endeavors can fool you into thinking things will always be easy. Here’s a list to guide you toward maintaining intentionality and relentless forward movement.
A Marine undergoes water survival training

A Marine undergoes water survival training (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Differentiate the daily from the long term goals. Steven Covey pointed out the difference between tasks that are important and urgent (doing laundry, answering the phone, cooking dinner) and those that are important and not urgent (getting your Master’s Degree, exercise, writing a book).
2.  Align high energy (physical and mental) tasks appropriately.  For me, this is typically in the morning before the kids are up.  If you have a spouse, this time should be agreed upon as your time to focus on your high level tasks (writing, research, excersise, etc. ).
3.  Align the mundane tasks (important and urgent) that don’t involve high levels of thinking or creativity to times when you are less creative for you. For me, that’s in the evening after working and i’m distracted by kids’ homework and tired from work.  This is a great time to hang a picture, do dishes, or clean the patio.  Not a great time to research for my book.
4. Write it all down.  It seems as though the one thing all productivity speaker/writers agree on is the absolute necessity of writing things down.  Goals, tasks, ideas.
5. Create an internal sense of urgency.  Guard your quality time from internal distractions such as getting off task (Facebook, twitters, checking the weather) and outside distractions (phone calls, emails, unimportant tasks). You have to REALY want this!
6.  Keep perspective.  Baby cries, 9 year old is sick, wife had a particular bad night not sleeping.  These things happen.  Understand the difference between pause and procrastinate (click here to read my article on this topic). Sometimes the urgent and important trumps the not urgent and important.  It is up to you to maintain contingencies but also keep perspective on when to allow “intrusions’ upon your times. if you are in a positive and intentional workflow, you purpose can handle occasional interruptions.
What are you doing TODAY to be intentional?
Rocco De Leo

Making Customers Angry Does Not Create Fans

Have you found yourself feeling swindled by the cashier while shopping?  You clearly misread the price tag and the 2000 word explanation for the sale price. The idea of reloading a cart full of groceries and dragging cranky kids back to the wine isle makes you want to drink the entire thing.  Is this you?  “You got me this time!” you tell the cashier as you pay full price, which you never would have intentionally. Recently I took a trip to the store to purchase a bottle of wine.  As I was paying, the cashier asked me if I understood the pricing.  The sale price of $7.99 was listed twice the size and brighter than the disclaimer.  The bottle is $11.99 unless you purchase 4 or more bottles. I was caught off guard and aggravated.  I had, in the past been angry by misreading this exact sale.  This time, I knew what to expect.  I learned the hard way. Did she remember me?  Had I made a scene? She told me a lot of people have been angry at this particular selling tactic. She was trying to prevent trouble by presenting clarity.  Is this an intentional strategy?  Why risk angering customers?

Whether you own a store, write a blog, or work for a big company,  make  your customers your biggest fans.  Giving them a positive experience and making them feel important, builds trust. The grocery store lost on a fleeting moment of customer engagement.  If we are talking about effectiveness, a pricing strategy that “steals”  an opportunity to make a fan out of customers is the wrong strategy and costs more than money.   Pricing strategies work and are appreciated by customers when they are simple and reward the right behavior.  I have an unhealthy and deep rooted affinity toward Frozen Yogurt. I love getting my 10th frozen Pinkberry on the house. Be mindful of the consequences of your intentions.  Are you making fans or frustrating your customers?  2590571627_3a1d979c15

What 1 thing will you do today to turn your customers into raving fans?

How the Road to Awesome Took a Detour to Jerk

As a busy dad of 5, including a newborn, I am pulled in multiple directions.  My time is no longer my own.  I am on the road driving from client to client during the day.  I read (audiobooks) and  keep up with my favorite podcasts in the car.  My purpose in life is to succeed at helping others succeed.  As Jon Acuff says,  my Awesome is to help others find their Awesome.  I do it at work as well as in writing. First things first however, I need to keep up with the latest articles and tweets on awesomeness.  Twitter is a great place to keep up to date on your favorite topics.  If you missed it, I wrote an article on how I use Twitter.  In my infinite wisdom, I recently found the 3 perfect opportunities to completely suck at being awesome while learning how to be awesome.

The Jerk

The Jerk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Elevators are not for twitter.  Seriously!  I was literally tripping over an old lady in a wheelchair the other day as we were both exiting the elevator at a doctor’s office. My excuse: I was reading an article on my iPhone about how to be nice.  You may have seen my Re-tweet.  Epic Fail!
2.  Feeding the baby is not twitter time:  If you have ever had a baby, you know when the biological stuff is happening.  My little girl makes quite the “splash” when her system is a-go.  Unfortunately, this usually happens as I’m deciding whether to RT a tweet or via@personwhotweeted regarding a great article about being a blogging dad or parenting advice.  Of course my 3 week old appreciates this so much that she’s willing to sit in her “splash zone” for 3 or 4 more tweets.
3. Red lights should be twitter-free zones.  I say red light to make it sound not so bad.  Actually, the red lights I am referring to are the red brake lights that startle me as I scroll through my twitter feed. I recently discovered Pocket, the “read later” app.  I’ve never been twitter-elite enough to read the articles while driving, but I can tell a perfect “pocket-able” article with re-tweet potential with the best of them. No bueno!
In my great effort to be awesome, I have become a jerk. All is not lost however.  Here is a list of  5 things to consider when recovering from an acute case of jerk-itis associated with hypocrisy.
1.  Remember that today is a new day.  Don’t be so hard yourself that you give up being awesome.  Besides God, no one loves you more than you.  Sometimes, that causes you to get caught up in yourself.  Recognize it, and push forward.
2.  Take a YOU holiday.  Spend one day hyper-focusing on others.  If this doesn’t come natural to you, give yourself notes as reminders.  Be interested in those you interact with on a normal basis, but step your game up a bit.  Ask the barista at Starbucks about her weekend.  Compliment the bank teller on his tie.  Thank the police officer pulling you over for texting and driving for keeping the streets safe.  Be intentional.
3.  Take a “self-help” break.  I may be mislabeling “self-help”.  Jon Acuffs book Start was phenomenal.  It’s more than simply self help.  Brene’ Brown’s Daring Greatly was life changing.  5-stars abound.  Maybe, as Jon Acuff shares, its time to go to your own Central Park.  A place to “chill-out”.  As a reader, a fun fiction book, can take me out of myself and the pressure to be Awesome.
4.  Pray and Trust in Lord: As a practicing Catholic, my relationship with Christ is key to my happiness.  It’s also key to my awesomeness.  I  find myself praying for guidance and grace on a Sunday morning, and trying to create it myself by Sunday night.  No can do! Pray and trust in the Lord.
5.  Find perspective:  It always amazes me to reflect upon where I’ve come from.  I recently went for a long 10-mile run with very disappointing results.  I felt sluggish and heavy.  I realized that I have gained 25 pounds in 6 months.  That’s how long I haven’t weighed myself.  It snuck up on me and I had no idea I had gained so much.  On the other hand, I look at positives in my life that sneak up on me.  My relationship with my kids since I became a full time full custody dad 5 years ago has grown. Reflecting upon the communication at bedtime or dinner from when I got custody to the normal and relative respect and efficiency I see now provides tremendous perspective on days I feel like screaming.

Awesomeness isn’t easy.  If it were, it wouldn’t be so awesome.  Try too hard or try too little, you will make mistakes.  Try just enough, well you’ll still make mistakes.  Keep on keeping on is the key.  Share some of your irony  on your own road to awesome.  I would love to hear from you.

Rocco De Leo

Choose the Heroic Life

Becoming a Navy Seal is perhaps, the most physically and mentally challenging experience a human can face. The training school BUDS is a rigorous 24 week challenge of underwater dive, land warfare, and parachute training. The 24 week journey begins with a 3 week orientation leading up to a “hell week” in which the candidates continuously train with minimal sleep. They live by their motto “the only easy day was yesterday”. What makes a person sign up for this? When they leave BUDS, they are strategically deployed to one dangerous crisis after another. Whether it’s rescuing kidnapd sailors from pirates in the Indian ocean or the daring mission to “eliminate” Osama Bin Laden , Seals, live a heroic life of adventure and danger.

St. Augustine writing, revising, and re-writin...

St. Augustine writing, revising, and re-writing: Sandro Botticelli’s St. Augustine in His Cell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They are able, as George Sheehan suggests in his 1978 classic Running and Being, to feed a desire within themselves to overcome a daily “element of present danger”, a threat to the status quo that threatens [their]everything. American poet James Agee writes “that in war, many men go well beyond anything that any sort of peace can make for them.” These men are heroes without a doubt. What, then, do they fear? Death? Pain? They fear, the same battle you and are fighting every day. This isn’t simply the struggle to find our purpose, its the epic fight to live out our purpose.You are built for adventure. We are all fighting internal battles. If you choose not to fight, you will decend into a dizzying world of mundane emptiness. The soldier fights an obvious battle for physical survival . He returns home to join our fight. He may or may not be comforted in knowing you that he is not the alone in fighting this battle. We all are soldiers. Some just choose not to fight. Your fight, however, is your fight alone. If you don’t lead yourself into battle, no one will. Your fight is less obvious and against a much more cunning and relentless enemy. Your fight is for a true adventure to discover what your soul desires and to draw arms against resistance. Your mortal enemy is’t a foreign army or a terrorist cell. Your enemy knows you better than any spy or undercover agent. Your enemy is you. The ultimate desire to live a life of holiness and purpose, a life moving forward toward greatness rather than mere survival lives within the heart of every man. Only the heroic person spirit stands up to the internal powers and proudly proclaims adventure and purpose over survival. This is a battle the hero fights every morning when he awakens before the sun and arms himself with the weapons of his own war. This may be the blank page for the writer, the shoes for the runner, or the books for the student. Somedays the battles are glorious invasions of Normandy achieving an overarching goal and driving toward purpose. Somedays are 9/11. The hero doesn’t just lick his wounds and wait to recover. He regroups and plans his next attack. If you are reading this post researching blogs on productivity or purpose, you are winning today’s battle. If you are reading this because you are stalling on your next project, you are loosing. You must recognize that you are made for adventure beyond mere survival. God gave us all free will, intelligence, and talent to do great things to glorify him. To live a purpose and discover it within, loving God, and never giving in to mere survival shall be our battle cry! Be your own hero and inspire others with your awesomeness.
Share today’s battle plan for living your purpose.

Rocco De Leo

The Dangerous Space Between Pause and Procrastination

The international space station “sits” over 220 miles above the earth’s surface in what is essentially called “low earth orbit“.  Inside, the environment is pressurized for comfort as well as simple survival of its inhabitants.  Often, astronauts are called to exit the safety of the station and enter the vast vacuum of space for a “space walk”.  Before they are able to safely transfer from the pressurized environment inside the station, they must enter an “airlock“.  This is a small chamber with two doors, in which the pressure is regulated.  Without this chamber, exiting would be disastrous. While inside, the astronauts must wait out  the changes.  Imagine your  first trip into space as you prepare to make that first space walk; fear and doubt surface. As time goes by, you are caught between the relative safety of the space station and the vast unknown of space.
You  now find yourself in the space between the comfort of the status quo and the pressure of pursuing your ambitions. You have decided to pursue your dream of owning a boutique coffee shop (insert your dream here) and are researching next steps.  Hours upon hours of studying coffee beans, interning at local shops, learning the culture, and doing everything necessary to prepare yourself to fully commit to your dream.  While sitting in the “airlock” of life, you are reminded of the relative safety of your day job and the status quo.  The stable work hours, company car, health care, and the  weekly pay check. The quaint beauty  of the venetian Cafe’ from your honeymoon hits a spot on your heart and awakens your spirit to live beyond the 9-5. After several “false starts” in years past, you are equipped and focused to believe this is real and that you will flawlessly execute your plan of owning a boutique coffee shop.

How do you trust the voices in your head telling you to press the pause button?  You have family commitments, a day job, and a life beyond the coffee shop. You are forging ahead to prove to the voices of doubt, that you aren’t on another false start.  Pausing to evaluate where you are is like pulling to the side of the road read the map.  You must find where you are at a this moment on your journey to make necessary adjustments. Enable the “location services” on your journey. The voices of doubt tell you that you are failing again if you hit pause.  You are confusing the pause button with procrastination.  Here is a list of 5 things to consider as you navigate between pausing and procrastination.  Remember that pausing is necessary to stay on your course.  Procrastination is your internal fear stealing your dream of awesomeness.

Map of the World in 1922

Map of the World in 1922 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Build adjustment time and flexibility into your plan:  Jon Acuff discusses, in Quitter , that we must practice our dream in a low stakes environment in order to become a master.  Planning too early leaves no room for flexibility and will focus us on the plan rather than the ultimate goal.
2. Milestones: Build manageable, accountable, and measurable milestones into your plan: Mike Vardy of Productivityist.com, recently wrote about doing the right things rather than just doing things (activity vs right activity).  Milestones should have rough timeliness, but don’t back yourself in a corner with your calendar.  Leave room for soccer practice and date night with your wife.  A looming “due date” rather than relative milestone will awaken the voices of doubt.
3. Stand on the shoulders of giants: Read, listen, and watch others who have come before you. Others most likely blazed a similar path to the one you are on.  They will likely embrace the idea of sharing their journey with a fellow traveler.  Seeing that “life happens” to others, and success can and usually follows deliberate pauses will be encouraging and provide valuable instruction to you on your travel to awesomeness.
4.  Seasons change:  Life has different seasons.  You must recognize your responsibilities are different with 3 school age children at home than with college age kids out of the house.  Its imperative that you are intentional and deliberate during your busy season.  Intentionality will provide you focus and direction to appropriately work  your dream as well as “permission” to “work” on other things, without loosing.   As with seasons of the year, things will change.  If you are not careful and intentional important moments will pass you by.
5.  Have fun:  It’s your dream!  If you are not enjoying the journey, maybe you are on the wrong flight!
Share with me the craziest season of your life, and how you got through it.
Rocco De Leo

Unintended Consequences: Kitchen Trash and Jenga

imageOne of my favorite games is Jenga. You know the game? You stack blocks and carefully remove them without knocking down the growingly cumbersome and wobbly tower until, alas, the blocks are scattered and a winner is crowned. Jenga is fun with blocks, not with piles of kitchen trash. I hate taking out the trash. Someone has always stacked juice boxes, cans, and bottles in a well enginered stack that I simply cannot maneuver. This is especially true on rainy days and in the middle of the night when the prospect of walking outside to dump the smelly remainants of last nights’ pasta bake and fish filet is about as pleasant as eating it. I am usually the unsuspecting victim who chose to volunteer to take the bathroom trash downstairs, or empty the vacum cleaner. In my unwavering kindess to my family, I am often known to pick up those mystery pieces of paper that always finds their way to my kitchen floor. Many times, this ritual is done after a long battle with the dishwasher, homework, and tupperware containers with lids missing in action since the Bush administration. The sinks are wiped shiny clean, the hum of the dishwasher sings in the background and the lights are extinguished for another evening of clean, relaxful slumber. Oh, so I think! Next time, I’ll pretend I don’t see the extra trash.
How many times have you stopped to do something so simple and found yourself facing a monster? Unintended consequences haunt our good itentions. In this case, my intention to clean a “little” has resulted in me cleaning “a lot”. This isn’t simply relegated to the terrible and almost nonsensical analogy of trash can theory. People have debated unintended consequences for years. Gun control is a hot topic. “Gun free zones are safe because there’s no guns allowed.” Sounds simple. Except for the crazy guy who could care less about an ordinance outlawing guns in the local shopping mall. Laws that force small businesses to incur certain costs beyond 50 employees tend to hover around an employee base of 49; not helping the unemployment situation. In many of these cases, the intention was well meaning. Making malls safer and asking employers to provide health insurance are noble goals.
Success is typically not measured by intention, rather than by result. Even more challenging, the result may be two-fold. The expected positive outcome (ie, more people with jobs who have health care) and the unintented consequence (less people with jobs, thus less people overall with healthcare). We must live in reality to achieve real and sustainable success in what we do. You are working hard to build your dream. You work extra hours for that promotion. Missing a few soccer practices, maybe a wedding or a ballet recital? In the end, you may get that promotion. What has it cost you? Time with your kids? Divorce?
Big issues like gun control and trash can theory teach us to think through the course of our actions. You will be measured on the totality of your results. No one will care what your intentions were if there is trash all over the kitchen. What have you done that resulted in a ridiculous unintended consequence?

Rocco De Leo

What’s the Deal With this Twitter Thing?

So what’s all the buzz about this Twitter thing anyway?  After all, it’s just the shortened Sit-Com version of Facebook.  Just another place to comment on the spinach fritatta you want your friends to think you ate for breakfast when in fact you had a stack of pancakes, sausage, and a blueberry muffin.  Forget sharing the truth, this is the Internet! Truth is so Analog!  Ok, so really, what is the point of Twitter?  I have been active on Twitter for an entire month, and I am a quick study.  While I am not prepared to tell the HOW of Twitter today, I am going to tell you the WHAT and the WHY.

Washington DC: Smithsonian Castle - Pile of Loot

Washington DC: Smithsonian Castle – Pile of Loot (Photo credit: wallyg)

You must be on and active on Twitter.  Whenever I meet a high level executive or have interviewed for jobs, I always ask what the person reads.  This says a lot about the person.  Do they read?  What type of material do they read that influences their thinking? In a Pre-Twitter world, knowing what they are reading at that particular time was all I could capture.  It’s important to read what people you wish to emulate and/or learn from are reading.  It simply makes sense.  Twitter gives you that option.  I love to read and hope to be a published author in the near future. Surprise, surprise, a blogger hoping to publish a book! Guy Kawasaki is extremely active sharing what he reads on Twitter. He’s not sharing other twitter feeds like “he look my neighbor planted roses last weekend”.  He’s reading piles of articles a day.  He filters out the ones he deems valuable to share, and shares them.  Simple.  Multiply that by however many people you follow.  I am always impressed by Rush Limbaugh‘s “stack of stuff” he refers to everyday on his show.  I attempted to compile a “stack of stuff” once.  I spilled coffee on 10 articles that would never have been read and was over that. I am not Rush Limbaugh or Guy Kawasaki.  I can, however, participate in the what goes into their minds.  Before Twitter, I would have had to go through Rush’s garbage to see what magazines he was reading.  Guy Kawasaki has 2 big and hungry dogs, so I was never able to go through his trash.  I can “follow” authors like Dave Ramsey, Mark Sanborn and Glen Beck.  These are people  I enjoy and from whom I have a lot to learn.
Ok, now you ask, what’s this cost me?  It costs you what you want to get out of it.  I know that sounds dangerously like that guy who wanted you to sell life insurance in the 90s.  The new cost of entry in the twitersphere is “engagement”.  This is what we as bloggers (I’m yet to have much) are seeking.  Followers are nice, but people who stick around and engage through comments are the high value targets.  They make this twitter thing fun, and can also support those providing monetized value (i.e., books, seminars, etc). I share this blog 2-4 times a week on Twitter.  I also re-tweet or share tweets several times per day.  Most of the tweets I enjoy are links to well written articles read by people I follow reading authors I NEVER would have found on my own.  In essence, Twitter provides me a FREE knowledge staff.  Twitter is my think tank. Thanks Twitter!
Share with me your favorite Twitter personalities. You can admit if it’s Kim Kardashian.  I’ll laugh, but I’ll probably follow you on twitter.

Rocco De Leo

Be a Faker and Remain Authentic

No Hunting (OR TRESPASSING)

No Hunting (OR TRESPASSING) (Photo credit: Nathan James)

You’re asking yourself, ” how can a guy who published an article on AUTHENTICITY write an article about being fake?”. Keep reading.
You are in the midst of a good [not great] and productive life.  You are moving along nicely with a decent career, family, and some personal goals.  Yet, there’s something missing…fleeting.  You are staring down the barrel of a rather intimidating milestone age and hear nature’s time clock tick…tick…ticking away.  To be honest, When I say “you” I mean “me”…and “you”. With the birth of our 5th child, I have had an awakening.  This is why I am writing this blog.  You have these moments.  I have more to offer.  You have more to offer. Do you know how much Barrack Obama spent to become President in 2012?  Nearly a billion dollars.  Crazy?  For a job that pays $400,000.  Not crazy enough.  Mitt Romney spent nearly the same  NOT get the job.  Presidential candidates have their lives, and their family’s lives, torn apart, researched and flushed out.  We all know where all the bodies are buried.  Why do they put themselves through this?  Ego.  Not in the sense of I’m cool and you’re not.  Obama so believed the world must have him as President that he would endure almost anything.
 I’m assuming you are not running for president.  But, almost as intimating, you are or are trying to step out of your comfort zone and SAY something.  You are timid about pushing forth your dream, especially when you have yet to perfect your message. Permission has yet to be granted for you to “intrude” upon the world. You fear this vast land filled with great minds. You feel guilty just listening in on the conversation.  Like you don’t belong. You sit in the back of life’s classroom and half raise your hand to say something in the ongoing conversation of society.  Quietly you apologize, in essence telling the world that you are an intruder rather than an active and worthy participant.  Today, through my FAKE power and FAKE authority, I am granting you FAKE permission to speak.  Seth Godin, one of the most respected blogger/authors in the world was once a FAKER.  He granted himself persmission to speak.  It’s time for you to grant yourself permission.  You have something important to say.  The world WILL be BETTER for having heard your message.  FAKE your confidence until you make your confidence.  The world can’t wait for your confidence to catch up to your message.  We need you NOW.  SPEAK!
Rocco De Leo

Be Different, Sincere, and Succeed: A 10 step guide on how to be an all around nice guy…or gal

We are living in a crowded age.  Busy is normal, and attention is hard to capture and keep.  You want to be noticed and MEMORABLE.  Are you doing enough? Unless you’re satisfied with a “me too” existence, you probably aren’t doing enough but are eager to learn.  Afterall, That’s the reason you’re reading this post.  Don’t worry, you can get better. You will get better. I just finished reading Michael Hyatt‘s book, Platform: Get noticed in a noisy world.  In it, he gives a detailed “how-to” on building your social media  platform and how to utilize it appropriately, intentionally  and authentically. Platform is the BIG PICTURE, 30,000 foot approach to strategically building your personal brand.   You must read it. What about the SMALLER PICTURE, the 10,000 foot level, tactical approach to getting noticed and DIFFERENTIATING yourself?  This is a simple list of things you should already be doing.  They are so simple, you won’t believe everyone else isn’t doing them.

1. Hand written thank you cards are better than emails.
2. Pick up the phone and call (not all the time, have a voice, not just Facebook)
3. Proactive Networking: Birthdays are nice, in fact they are crucial, however saying high on a random day without asking for something is the icing on the cake. This used to be called Networking.  Today it’s called–well, Networking.
4.  Under promise and over deliver: Surprise people with fabulous results beyond there expectations. Don’t set that bar too low as to be insincere, but give yourself some room to excel.
5.  Names, names, names. Don’t forget names. Use  names early and often.
6.  Showing SINCERE interest in people’s kids is more important than their hobbies.
7. Follow up and follow through on your commitments to people. Unfortunately, people are used to empty promises. Surprise them with delivery.
8. Stay positive. Misery loves company but we still like to have happiness delivered our way. A smile will go a long way.
9. Make aggressive mistakes.  You are going to mess up.  Make sure you mess up because you tried to be kind rather because you tried to avoid trouble.
10.Give more than you ask.  In fact, give way more than you ask.
Bonus:  Pray for people when you tell them you will pray for them.  Offer to pray for people. This will bless you more than you can imagine.

Successful people do the BIG things very well.  They do the SMALL things even better and more often.  Don’t feel as though you must master this list.  Use it as a guideline and learn from it.  Change your mindset to focus on the little things while keeping your eye on the big picture.  The most important thing to remember is that sincerity goes a long way.  You may find yourself in situations where you can’t sincerely execute these steps.  A tough client may not seem appropriate to engage in a conversation regarding his daughters ballet recital.  Don’t go there if you aren’t sincere.  Make these steps a part of your mantra.
Share with me a time a sincere attempt at a nicety went wrong.  How did you resolve it?  Did it affect you in the future?
Rocco De Leo