Stop Being the Character and Play Your Authentic Part

Disneyland is a paradise for kids.  All the fun, food, and entertainment all catered toward them.  One of our favorite things to do at Disneyland is take pictures with our favorite characters.  Goofy has always been my guy.  In fact, I have a great picture of my kids and I with him on my Facebook.  Goofy is  a 6 foot tall talking dog that runs into situations that are hilarious. The thing about Goofy  is he’s not real.  He is a character with an actor “playing” the part. There is nothing wrong with playing a character for work or fun, but what about the character we play in the game of life?

drama queen

drama queen (Photo credit: beccaplusmolly)

I am guilty, guilty, guilty of playing many roles.   I was,  for many years the “super single dad“.  My high flying antics included taking kids to the dentist, doctor appointments, church, and school plays.  I have chronicled my adventures on my Facebook page.  Before my heroic adventures as a single dad, I was the super “victim husband“.  Everything was my [ex] wife’s fault and I was just trying, heroically, to keep it all together.  I spent a lot of energy griping and complaining rather than listening and seeking to understand. There are characters everywhere.  The “super single mom” posting pictures of soccer practice.  The “super athlete teen” with all his trophies and championships, and the “tortured soul teenage girl” with black lipstick and and angrier than Avril Lavigne look.

Many of these characters are important and inspiring.  Once again, the problem remains that they are not real.  We where these badges, all polished and shiny for the world to see.  We have 275 friends on Facebook (of whom 2 send you a Christmas card).  When I played the “super single dad” hero, I posted pictures of myself doing cool things with the kids.  The little red box in the corner would light up with a 4 or a 5 and I would be validated.  Sometimes the photo upload session happened at a stoplight, or a school event, or the dinner table.  The world needed to see my character.  Lights, camera, action.  See the irony?

When you play the character you were born to play with authenticity and intentionality, it isn’t “play” at all.

There’s nothing wrong with sharing on Facebook.  As with anything in the pursuit of awesomeness, you must be intentional and in control.  Are you posting a picture to share something, for laughs, or perhaps memories?  Excellent.  Are you seeking more?  What if no one “liked” the picture of you and your daughter at choir?  Would that diminish the value of your time together?  My challenge to you and myself in this New Year is to be aware of WHY you are doing things.  Do things with purpose, love, authenticity, and a giving spirit.   Click here to read my article on authenticity. Be present.  Maybe even leave the iPhone in the car.

What character have you played the most this year?



Uniqueness Is Overrated: Authenticity vs Unique Overload

I remember the excitement of Krispey Kreme coming to my town a few years ago.  As a sales guy, I love to bring treats to my customers, and nothing sounded more “treaty” than a dozen of the finest warm donuts my corporate American Express card could by.  I was going to make a splash with my customers.  Pulling up to the drive through, waiting nearly 20 minutes for donuts, I could hardly contain myself.  As I finally picked up 8 dozen (one for each planned stop of the day), I was ready to deliver some tasty smiles to go along with my unique treat.  As the story goes, I wasn’t the only sales rep being unique that morning.  Several of my offices had piles of Krispey Kreme boxes stacked in a corner.

Unique (Photo credit: Goldmund100)

My “get unique quick” scheme didn’t work so well.
 Today. nothing has really changed.  A few years ago, someone began using the hashtag on twitter as a means to organize and monitor trends.  Facebook is following suit with hashtaging.  Everywhere you look online is hashtags. The problem is once hashtaging reaches a critical mass, it will cease to be useful.  Several hundred, maybe even several thousand references to Iphone 6 (#iphone6) can draw attention and add value to the reader, several million is just plain stupid.  If everyone is hashtaging, then no one is hashtaging.
Uniqueness has a tipping point where it becomes boring and no longer unique.

Where do we go from here?  Here’s a quick guide to help you stay authentic in an attempt to be unique (I argue that many times the attempt at uniqueness is enough if you are authentic).

1.  There are no shortcuts to being Unique.  Delivering Starbucks to the office is not unique.  There are 10 Starbucks within a few minute’s drive of my house.  Feel free to bring the coffee though.  It’s still nice.
2.  Unique is rare, don’t fuss over being unique 100% of the time.  A free Starbucks, while not unique, is still welcome.  As a nice gesture to a good customer,  a tool  to warm up a tough gatekeeper, or a pick-me-up on a rough day for your girlfriend. An authentic gesture is just as valuable as a unique one.
3.  Be infrequent in your uniqueness.  regular uniqueness is inauthentic and exhausting.
4.  Do your homework. You won’t hit a home run with every interaction you make.  Understand your audience, however, will vastly increase the impact of what your attempting.  Finding time to uncover a passion of a client, or sentiment for a girlfriend, will dramatically increase your odds for the “breathtaking” moment.
5.  Know WHY you are doing what you are doing.  Being authentic and having the appropriate motives is much more important than being “different” or unique.

Go be yourself.  You are unique in being yourself.  You are not the lightning thief, don’t worry about catching lightning in a bottle.

What is your unique “thing” you bring?

Your Awesome Needs an Antidote to Going Viral

The advent of social media forever changed the term “viral”. Myspace, and later Facebook, ignited the explosion of “going viral”.  Today it seems like a new social media outlet pops up everyday.  Instagram, Pinterest, Google Plus are just a few.  I think I saw a cat chasing its tail get 25,000 likes on Instagram.  Who can forget the 2007 You tube sensation “Charlie bit my Finger”? Over half a billion people laughed at the little boy with the accent cry out “OUCH”!.   This is the essence of viral in the new age.  Long before the term “internet” was everyday language, a 58 year old Polish Cardinal was elected Pope.  Korol Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II in the fall of 1978.  A key player in driving Communism from his native Poland, and later all of Europe, Pope John Paul II, along with Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher influenced change that affected the world for decades to come. Communism, particularly the oppressive Soviet Union, has fallen from its once strong seat of power, and more people are better for it.

English: The Fall of the Berlin Wall, 1989. Th...

English: The Fall of the Berlin Wall, 1989. The photo shows a part of a public photo documentation wall at Former Check Point Charlie, Berlin. The photo documentation is permanently placed in the public. Türkçe: Berlin Duvarı, 1989 sonbaharı (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In your search for awesomeness, be careful to avoid the “viral” trap.  Whether it be as simple as being the likeable sales rep with little sales and a huge personality, or the marketing faux paux of Disney’s environmentally aware Lorax campaigning for Mazda’s newest SUV, the sizzle doesn’t always sell the steak.  The sales rep without sales goes home hungry regardless of how likable he is.  The cute and colorful marketing campaign with contradicting messages doesn’t sell. They may be fun to watch, but no one really cares and no one changes for it. Influence is much harder to achieve and sustain than being viral.  Author and blogger Jon Acuff writes about doing work that matters, work that is vital, not just viral.  The secret to adding vitalness to the viralness is practice, practice, practice. A healthy level of self-awareness is needed to take a step back and work at your craft.   Understand your customer’s “Why” and connect with them, and make stuff that matters. Afterall, your goal is not to be well known, your goal is to be awesome.  That means you are positively influencing people by playing a vital role in their quest for awesome.

What one thing are you doing today to practice being awesome?

Rocco De Leo


You Are The Joyful Artist

My 8 year old daughter, Angelina, sang her heart out last year in the 2nd grade Christmas show.  The sprit of the season was alive and well  in that school auditorium.  While she may not be the next American Idol, she was in her sweet spot.  She was joyfuly creating art; her art and loving every moment of it.  No one was scoring her pitch or tone.

Kids painting

Kids painting (Photo credit: BarelyFitz)

No assesment of costume design.  Hair and make-up were what you’d expect from dad and ten minutes of prep time.  None of that mattered.  She was enjoying the experience and still giving it her all.  She did it because she loves to sing and make me smile.  The bible tells us to have faith like a child (Mat 18:3).  This is Belief with no strings attached, totally focused on one thing.  Can we, as artists, create in the essence of “faith like a child”? To create a sustainable flow of content, we must! Driving home late last night, I struggled to keep the car straight and lane changes felt as deliberate as speaking an unknown language.  I was tired and didn’t feel well, so what normally is  “mental muscle memory” needed specific focus and deliberatness.  Driving, like walking and chewing gum, is much more effective with an element of the “automatic”.  The same is true for creativity.  Whether writing a book or developing a marketing campaign, we are all creating something.  We will be judged for the quality of our work by our customers, peers, and bosses.  If, we can capture some of the “freedom” Angelina had singing Jingle Bells,

we can move ourselves from deliberate and forced content creation to intentionaly free creation:

“creativity in the essence of faith like a child”. This doesn’t come with a 10 step or even 5 step how-to.

Free creation comes from intentional practice.

Unnecessary creation, a term coined by Todd Henry of the Accidental Creative suggests giving yourself projects for you that give you the chance to develop skills.  Being intentional with creativity, as I am with this blog, gives me a low risk opportunity to practice writing.  Maybe you want to paint, or sing, or build cabinets.  Do something for yourself that won’t get any judjement or expectation. Enjoy the process of building.  You are the joyful artist. Find your canvas. If you can’t enjoy the process of your art, you might be creating the wrong art.

Rocco De Leo

Dancing with Fear

Fred & Adele Astaire. ca. 1906. The photograph...

Fred & Adele Astaire. ca. 1906. The photograph is a publicity photograph illustrating Fred Astaire and Adele Astaire in a vaudeville act entitled “A Rainy Saturday”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The hills above my town are filled with trails for running and hiking. Rolling green hills, creeks, and beautiful canyons invite the adventure seeker. By day, its beauty pops and inspires, by night, it is hidden in the mysterious shadows, barely visible in the moonlight. What made me decide to shake things up and run into the dark? Forty dollar headlamps and a desire to conquer my fear. Running this the first time, two years ago was scary. Today, it’s a walk in the park.


Fear comes in many shapes and forms. Physical fear of the dark, inner city gas stations, or rattle snakes is your body’s way of protecting itself from dangers. Seth Godin refers to the Lizard Brain, the amygdala. This is the survival portion of your brain that only cares about the NOW and protecting you from immediate dangers. In our civilized society, we don’t face the same dangers humans did a million years ago. Our brains, however, don’t know the difference. Stephen Pressfield wrote about the Lizard Brain in a his brilliant work “The War of Art”. He calls it the resistance. I have written extensively about this subject throughout this blog. The resistance lurks in the comfort zone of your psyche, trying to pull you away from greatness and into the safety of mediocrity. Your brain works much like a parent who in an effort to protect his child from embarrassment or disappointment tells him not to try out for the school play. Like a child, we tend to listen to our Lizard Brain/resistance. Sometimes, like a rebellious teenager, we push away the resistance and end up with something amazing. Pressfield has articulated one of the most fulfillment zapping phenomenon in modern history; writers’ block, procrastination, distraction, self-doubt etc. Whatever shape or form you may experience, you WILL see the resistance. Pressfield suggests a WAR; a fight. Perhaps he’s missing an opportunity to dance.
In his recent work, Seth Godin challenges the notion of a “war”, in which we challenge the resistance. He instead, suggests that we must dance with it. I nearly drove the car off the side of the road (listened on Audio) when I heard this. The WAR concept is etched in stone in the creative world. Godin, however, is becoming the William Wallace of creative battles. Perhaps, instead, he would rather be the Fred Astaire. A day of writing without distraction is typically considered a good day. Not anymore:
The resistance (in its many forms) doesn’t show up when we are busy average.
I have never procrastinated sleeping in. Never has my Facebook exploration been interrupted by the desire to pray, or write, or do something meaningful. The opposite, of course, is a daily occurrence. The resistance, like the oppressive government in The Hunger Games, only comes after threats to the status quo. All the other “things” are safely locked behind a fence, unable to affect change. If working toward your fulfillment does not yield any resistance, no “Peacekeepers” coming in the night to take you away, there is no threat to the status quo.

Unless your status quo is complete fulfillment and you’ve achieved everything you were designed for, “status quo” is “status NO”.

You must pose a threat to invite the resistance. Start making progress and you’ll see resistance in its many forms lurking. Mother Theresa faced almost an entire lifetime of spiritual dryness known as the Dark Night of the Soul. The warm and fuzzy we get when we go to church was replaced with numbness. Mother Teresa was a real threat to the status quo of the poor being poor, body and soul in Calcutta. She did not fight the resistance, she danced with it, and many souls are dancing toward heaven for it. Replace the warm and fuzzy, the desire to do something else, the urge to question your ability, with the new dance of fulfillment. It’s coming whether you like it or not. Give up now and be average or put on your dancing shoes! Embrace the desire to procrastinate. If you feel it, you’re on to something. Welcome the inner voice that says you’re not good enough. Laugh a giddy laugh at the desire to check Facebook while your halfway through marathon training. You are a threat to the status quo. That, my friends, is moving the needle toward awesomeness.
I overslept and almost didn’t write this article today thinking inspiration will be here tomorrow. I chose to dance instead of procrastinate. How will you dance today?
Rocco De Leo

How the Connection Economy Unlocks the Mystery of Sushi and the Kindle

Sushi is one of those things that draws people together.  Like the comraderie in the trenches of war, eating sushi with someone instantly builds rapport.  Sushi is a cultlike experience.  Maybe its the co-worker who is grossed out or the relative who calls it bait that makes it an experience rather than a meal.  Whatever it is, I love it.  My only problem with sushi is that I can’t order.  I’m not intimidated by the non-tranferable names such as the “santa-monica roll” or the “Vegas dynamite”, names which mean completely different things at Joe’s Sushi and Sushi on Fire.  The variety gets me.  Too many choices.  I’m the same way with Christmas presents.  I am convinced that you can choose something for me that I’ll enjoy much more than I can choose.  I’ll analyse my choices to death, agnogizing missing one joy by choosing another.

Solo dinner: Sushi & Kindle

Solo dinner: Sushi & Kindle (Photo credit: inju)

I am a typical, albeit neurotic, consumer.  I am over saturated, underwhelmed, and looking for assurance that I will make the right choices.

As marketers, how do we capture the hearts and loyalty of consumers paralyzed by too many choices?

My recent journey to choose the Kindle Paperwhite over Nook Simpletouch with  Glowlight was a snapshot of the connection economy at work. Like a hungry patron at Mika Sushi, I was looking for someone to tell me what and why to buy.  The old economy would have me going to a store asking a sales person about each model, then making a choice.  Typically the choice was dumb random luck; like the last store I happen to walk in to. Economy 2.0 had me comparing company websites and reading reviews.  Better, but still predictable.  Nook would champion Nook, and Kindle would champion…guess who.  The reviews usually point out terrible products well,  but comparison of multiple products beyond specs are rare from a website that just sold one particular product. The connection economy is different. It seeks advise from  and true compatriots.  I’ll trust you if you tell me the Miso soup tastes like rotten mushrooms if you are in the restaurant experiencing it with me.

 The connection economy  with tools like Facebook and Twitter is much like the Sushi place with countless mysteries on the menu.

Searching for clarity, I reached out to people I trusted would provide detailed considerations in chosing an e-reader. ultimately, my tribe pointed me to the Kindle.  Not so much endorsing the Kindle as superior, my tribe of writers, entrepreneurs, and leadership experts have more “experiences” on the Kindle.  Amazon has connected with its users by understanding why they use an e-reader.  At least in my tribe, the Kindle is a partner in delivering the fruits of many dreams of people I follow.  Rebels of publishing pushing out unconventional products on a mainstream device through the Kindle.  Amazon affiliate programs at the grass roots on blogs, an ultimately the fear that I would have a Nook and a desire to read a Kindle only book, forced my hand.  The connection economy is real and is growing leaps and bounds everyday.  Individuals, now more than ever, have the capability of building a tribe of trust and influencing customers. Will you be driving influence or watching from the sidelines?

Rocco De Leo

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

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 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

Master Time Management By Turning Down the Noise

Your To do list is running your life and perhaps ruining your life. Mundane after mundane task with a sprinkle of useful tasks marks a typical day in your life. Amazon shows over 120, 000 books on time management. With so many resources out there, why are many American’s failing to complete a simple to do list? We are a nation of people with too much to do and usually too much of the wrong stuff. One answer is that you spend way too much time listening to “noise ” in your daily life. Noise is all the stuff that doesn’t matter to your overall plan and purpose. Distractions. Stephen Pressfield, best selling author of The Art of War refers to resistance as what gets in your way of getting things done to be great. I am suggesting that your resistance tells you to listen to the noise. How much noise do you listen to?:

1. Facebook: constantly browsing, posting irrelevant comments, and looking for the little red number at the top. This is fine if its part of what you are attempting to do, but you better be honest with yourself. Do you need to be doing this to complete your to do list?
2. Texting: How many conversations do you have going during the day? Can you manage a single train of thought, or make one trip to the store without stopping to text someone? How about at a red light?
3. Internet surfing: Unless this is a specific task on your to do list, this is a time waster. Blindly surfing the internet without a purpose just to “peak” your interest is like floating on a life raft hoping you’ll land in Hawaii. The only place you’ll end up is with the sharks.
4. Sleeping in: Sleep is important, and sleeping in is nice when your to do list isn’t holding you back. Beyond the to list host Erik Fisher asks his guests questions about productivity. They all get up early in the morning and most find this time the most productive and creative time of the day. I personally prefer the 5:30-6:30 hour to read.

This is not an exhaustive list, there are plenty of other ways to waste your time. Turn down the volume. Eliminating these things is not feasible, and is ridiculous. You work hard and probably enjoy these things. Here are a few suggestions to help move the needle on your to do list:

1. Facebook: Use these instructionsto adjust the notifications on your facebook. The constant ping of your facebook is very distracting and can derail any train of thought and get you off task. Or you can simply take facebook off your mobile devices and access only from a desktop (that may require some detox).
2. Texting: Let people know you are in the middle of something. Tell them you will call them later. Keep the texts short and purposeful. Avoid texting too many people. Once people know you are a “texter”, they will want to use that as a primary communication method. This has its own problems we will address in another article.
3. Internet surfing: Have a purpose. Look up something and move on. Wandering around aimlessly is a waste of time. If you are truly interested in research a topic on the internet, assess how much time you think you need and schedule some time to do this. Don’t, however, use this a break from your to do list.
4. Sleeping in: Make and agreement with yourself and those you are accountable to on the days you want to sleep in. Be reasonable here, you don’t get those hours back. If you are going to sleep in, make it count. Make sure you actually get to sleep in and not get interrupted by other noise.

How has noise affected you? Share with me some tools you use to turn this noise off. I am particulary interested in numbers one and two, but share with me any type of noise you have dealt with and a solution or two in the comments section.