Leadership, Mindset, Reading, self-awareness

Just Read

“Reading is Fundamental” is how the old saying goes. I remember my parents saying this to me as a kid as I argued with them to instead watch Saturday morning cartoons. I recall seeing the posters all over my junior high school “Reading is Fundamental”. I remember thinking (foolishly) that it was the teacher’s job to put stuff inside my head and I didn’t need to read more on my own. Finally, I remember countless school administrators and various other adults throughout the years peddling the same catchphrase as I rolled my eyes and obtained a stellar “C” average.

The truth is that I should have listened. It was more than a saying…It was good advice…It was a winning strategy. In this blog I have talked about the importance of having a “growth mindset”. Having a growth mindset means nothing if action does not follow. The best and most effective way to maintain a growth mindset is simple…..Read.

Why read? The evidence is clear…people who take the time out and consistently read are more successful. Sadly, over a quarter of Americans have admitted that they have not read a book in the last year (which means that the number is probably larger) (Pew 2016). This number has grown since 2014 when it was at 23%. When you look closer you can see the numbers directly correlate to success. For example, adults with a high school diploma or less are about three times as likely as college grads (40% vs. 13%) to report not reading books in any format in the past year (Pew 2016). Adults with an annual household income of less than $30,000 are about twice as likely as the most affluent adults to be non-book readers (33% vs. 17%) (Pew 2016). The non-reading rates for minorities and rural Americans (both white and non-white) are just as alarming as they are within the 29% to 40% range as well. These are the communities that are consistently behind in education statistics, employment, and wage earning.

If you don’t like statistics take it from some of the most successful people on earth. Take this quote from Warren Buffett (CEO Berkshire Hathaway, net worth 74.8 billion):

“Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will…”In a recent 2016 interview Bill Gates (Founder of Microsoft and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, net worth 89.8 billion)  says:

“It is one of the chief ways that I learn, and has been since I was a kid. These days, I also get to visit interesting places, meet with scientists and watch a lot of lectures online. But reading is still the main way that I both learn new things and test my understanding.”


You can read the full interview here: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/04/fashion/bill-gates-gates-notes-books.html?smid=tw-nytimes&smtyp=cur&_r=0

Oprah Winfrey (CEO Harpo Studios, net worth 3.1 billion) has a world famous book club and say this about her joy of reading:

“Nothing, not one thing or activity, can replace the experience of a good read—being transported to a different land, a different realm, through words and language…..

I love being surrounded by books. For me, they’re like art, little pieces of sculpture placed all over the house, reminding me, always, of the power of the written word. Just looking at them brings me the purest kind of joy.”

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/inspiration/oprah-on-the-joy-of-reading#ixzz4oGfKb2MP


The message is clear. Reading is fundamental. Reading should not end with your highest level of school. The only way to continuously improve is to continuously learn. Read whenever and wherever you have the chance. If you don’t have the time to sit down and read a book, listen to audio books. Most will not have the time or the patience to read  the 500 pages a day a Buffett suggests this should not be an excuse to do nothing. Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

I understand that it isn’t easy to always read. This is especially difficult in the age of Facebook, Candy Crush and Netflix. Why read a book when binge watching “Master of None” is so much more enjoyable? As much as I love Aziz Ansari, I love my potential for growth and education more. Today, I ask you to start small. Read 10 pages a day or listen to 15 min of an audio book per day. Use your commutes, workouts, and household chores as opportunities to learn with audio books.  Positive actions are reinforced by habits . You must commit to this life changing habit. The habit of reading has changed my life. I know it can change yours.


Leadership, Mindset, self-awareness, Sports Leadership

Second Chances

I believe in growth so therefore I believe in second chances. Michael Vick is a very controversial figure. He has gone through being at the pinnical of celebrity to the depths of society.  For those of you who don’t know who Michael Vick is, he is a 13 year NFL veteran(Falcons and Eagles), Pro Bowl Quarterback and the former first overall pick.He holds the record for the most career rushing yards by a quarterback (6,109) and the most rushing yards by a quarterback in a season (1,039). At his peak, he was must see TV and one of the most exciting players ever to play the game. At his lowest point in his life he was an inmate convicted of unspeakable and inhumane crimes. 

He was involved is one of the biggest sports scandals in recent history when he was found to have been the leader and financier of a dog fighting ring. On his way down he burned many bridges and lied to people who trusted and cared about him. He deceived people who invested in him and a community that believed in him. He ended up losing everything. He lost multi-million endorsements deals (Nike, CocaCola, PowerAde), his multi-million dollar paying job, and most importantly his freedom. 

You can watch his public apology here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=iigURcLGdRg

He was sentenced to 23 months in prison. He payed his debt to society and then went back into the NFL. He was helped by a fantastic leader and coach named Tony Dungy. Tony Dungy mentored Michael and preached the importance of redemption and growth to NFL teams on the fence in regards to signing him. Michael was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles who was coached then by Andy Reid. Michael said being Mentored by Tony Dungy and Coached by Andy Reid taught him numerous life lessons and things about football he never was taught throughout his career. 

He had the best season of his career in 2010 season with the Eagles. Vick finished the 2010 regular season with 3,018 passing yards, 676 rushing yards and 30 total touchdowns. He had career high passer rating of 100.2. Vick made his fourth Pro Bowl and was named NFL Comeback Player of the year. He had team success as well as the  Philadelphia Eagles went 10–6 and made the playoffs. 

Michael Vick has grown off the field as well. He is a messenger and speaks for many causes. The one I feel shows the most growth is his commitment to the Pets for Life program to end dogfighting. He is helping to spread the message through his public appearances. He does personal videos that extend the reach of his message to many more people.

Recently Michael Vick did an interview on the Colin Cowherd show and what you hear is a genuine, accountable , and mature individual who has been through a ton. It was the inspiration for this post. 

You can here the interview here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-herd-with-colin-cowherd/id1042368254?mt=2&i=1000389992360

We can learn infinite lessons from the Michael Vick story but here are the ones that stuck out to me.

1. We shouldn’t wait for rock bottom to evaluate ourselves and course correct. This should be a continuous process and personal growth should always be the focus of our lives. 

2. It’s never too late to grow. Michael Vick could have fallen of the deep end after his heinous crime and prison sentence. He used his mistake as a learning experience and accepted mentorship. He re-focused his his life and improved to become better in many aspects.

3. Appreciate the gifts that life has bestowed upon you by honoring them. Honoring your gifts mean working hard and learning continuously  to maximize potential. It means taking every opportunity to better yourself . Michael Vick states in his interview that if he could go back in time he would take things more seriously and do thing differently. You never want to have regrets in regards to wasted potential.

4. Be accountable for your mistakes and learn from them. Ignoring mistakes do not make them go away. It will only get worse. Michael Vick realized that when it came to changing his life that it was up to him. He could have kept blaming others and lying but that would’ve helped no one. The path to redemption started with Michael Vick. 

Book review, Leadership, Mindset, self-awareness

The Importance of Self-Awareness

Are you self aware? For years I thought that life and leadership began with mindset. I thought that is where it all began. You learned about fixed vs. growth mindset and then charted a path on how you would obtain and maintain the growth mindset. On my journey I often consume books, articles, and speeches that in one way or another have supported this piece of my philosophical foundation. Recently I have read something that has made me think that something comes before mindset.

How does one get to that point? How does one come to the realization that they have a fixed or growth mindset? A recent book I have read has just rocked me and the bedrock to my life and leadership principles. It will also fundamentally change how I teach and coach others on leadership. The book “Insight” by Tasha Eurich is going on my all time list and will be a foundation of my life and leadership principles.

You can get it here: http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/545088/insight-by-tasha-eurich/9780451496812/

The book is all about the all important but overlooked trait of self-awareness. The book states (and I agree) “the most important, and yet least examined, determinant of success or failure at work and in life is self-awareness. Self-awareness is the ability to understand who we are, how others see us, and how we fit into the world.  Research shows that while 95% of people think they are self- aware, the real figure is closer to 10-15%. We all can tell when others lack self-awareness but we tend to be terrible judges of our own knowledge, performance and abilities.” Without self-awareness we have no idea what skills we have or need to improve on in life. So I will ask you again? Are you self-aware.

One can think they have a growth mindset and that they deal with mistakes, challenges, and feedback well but it seems like 85% of us would be wrong. Without self-awareness we wouldn’t really know if we were getting better or getting worse at anything. We wouldn’t know who are true friends are and who has best interest at heart. We wouldn’t know if our significant other is happy in the relationship. We wouldn’t know how to conduct ourselves around other human beings. No one can really know 100% of what others think of them and that is ok. However,  The more self aware you are the more you can know, absorb, and deal with what others think about you. You can improve on what you are deficient and know for sure you are working on the right things.

Like mindset this is foundational in regards to continuous learning. As you know I feel continuous learning and growth is the core of life and leadership. You may be asking yourself … How do I become more self aware?

Like any other skill your self-awareness can be worked on. I will be posting much more on self-awareness but for now take ten minutes today and honestly ask yourself these questions. What are my strengths? What are my weaknesses? Where do I have room for growth? What am I most passionate about? Then ask your best friend, spouse, or trusted co-worker the same questions about yourself. It is a small action item for tremendous insight.


Book review, Leadership, Mindset

Mindset by Carol Dweck

Here’s the Rub: This is an all time favorite. This is an amazing book with a life changing message. This book the foundation of my approach and view on life and leadership. Much like the core value of this blog, it teaches you that the journey of success begins internally. It states that to be successful and to remain successful you must obtain and maintain a certain mindset.  The book lays out the differences of two mindsets: the “fixed mindset” and the “growth mindset.”

People with the “fixed mindset” believe their qualities, intelligence and potential are unchangeable or “fixed”. They believe that you are not in control of you own abilities.

People with the “growth mindset” believe their qualities, intelligence and potential are changeable and that they can improve over time. They believe that it starts with you. They believe that people who excel at something excel because they decided they wanted to be good at a specific thing and then worked hard to improve.

It really is that simple. It is also very powerful specifically when it pertains to leadership. I truly believe that the best leaders are the best learners and it all starts with your mindset. If you believe that your traits are fixed then you have given up before you started. If you think some people are born smart or they are born a leader then it gives you the excuse to not try and become better. This has a huge impact on the people you lead and how you lead them.

You have heard it before in your life right? You have heard people at work or in your family say. “That guy is a born leader.” or  when referring to someone who excels in certain subjects that “She was born with it.” It just isn’t true. Everything in life is learned and everything in life is earned. Everything.

At 8 hours and 34 minutes this book is a short listen and narrated brilliantly. At 288 pages it is also a read you can finish in no time. The lessons from this book are well worth the investment of time and money.

The first three chapters lays out the fixed vs. growth mindset. Dweck  gives you the research behind the concept. She discusses her work and studies with children and their approach to education and failure. It is fascinating stuff. She also lays out the definitions in detail of both mindsets and why starting here is so important. The reason your mindset is so important is because it is the foundation of your ability to learn. If you don’t believe you can learn and improve you will never even start the process and if you do you start …. you wont follow through. If you know that you can learn anything and then also become great at anything the world is full of possibilities.

The building blocks of mindset are your beliefs and your focus. These building blocks have enormous impact on the key factors to learning and growth which are effort, challenges, mistakes, and feedback.

Those with the fixed mindset believe skills are born and you cant do anything about it. These folks focus on outcomes and how they look to others. I like to call them output focused people. 

Those with the growth mindset believe skills and potential are built through learning and growth and they focus on the process. I like to call them input focused people. (Clever right :0 )

When you have a fixed mindset you don’t believe that you can improve so you don’t put in the effort. Setbacks and challenges are not temporary to those with a fixed mindset because they affirm the belief that excellence is predetermined at birth and not crafted through years of hard work and learning. Feedback on improvement will be useless to these folks as well because the don’t believe in getting better and they are not focused on the process…only the outcome.

When you have a growth mindset you believe that you can improve so you put in the effort. You are focused on the process so setbacks and challenges are a part of the learning process. A mistake is only temporary and just another opportunity to learn. Finally, when you have a growth mindset you crave constructive positive or negative feedback because it only helps you in the growth process.

Imagine believing that you can do anything humanely possible. Imagine knowing that this belief is backed by an overwhelming amount of scientific research. Having this mindset almost becomes a superpower.

The remaining chapters of the book look to the worlds of sports, business, leadership, relationships, parenting and education to show the concept in practice.

In the book you will hear the stories of many with both mindsets. You will hear stories about figures like Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan was famously cut from his high school team the first time he tried out. He then went on to work his tail off and become widely seen as the best basketball player ever. He would be the first one to tell you that he got there by hard work and the belief that he could always get better. Imagine if Michael had a fixed mindset. He would probably never picked up a basketball again after he was cut from the team. He also probably would have never quit basketball in his prime and tried to play baseball (a sport he was awful at and a topic for another article). A couple more stories about those who persevered with a growth mindset here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLYECIjmnQs

You can look at many areas of life and see those who have a fixed mindset and those who have a growth mindset. They are everywhere. I think the most important factor within this concept is that fact that no person is completely fixed and no person is completely growth. Also no person is permanently fixed or growth. You must work hard to maintain the growth mindset and you must also work hard to make it reach into every area of your life. You can be growth mindset at work and fixed when parenting.  You can then read parenting books and listen to parenting podcasts on a regular basis and then implement what you have learned. This is the beauty of the concept ….that fact that it isn’t fixed.

All in all I couldn’t not recommend this book more and to consume any media that helps you learn and maintain your growth mindset. Mindset by Carol Dweck is a masterpiece.

This is the best video I have seen that summarizes the topic of mindset :

Train Ugly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75GFzikmRY0






Leadership, Political Leadership

The Vanishing American Leader

Senator Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska) has been touring the country lately and talking about his book “The Vanishing American Adult.” I haven’t read it yet ( I plan to this year) but I have heard him talk about this book and it has some very interesting concepts. Basically the theme of the book is he believes Americans have lost their core of personal integrity and discipline. The country has many serious and quite complex challenges ahead and to even begin solving them he states—people must recover their sense of virtue. The survival of the nation depends on this. I know it’s weird to start your first blog post on a book you haven’t read but the concept is too important to not write about. The idea for this post comes from that concept.

In his many interviews Sasse believes that our children will not be prepared for the world they will inherit. I don’t know if that says more about the generations of parents and grandparents that raised them but I think that is for another post. The Vanishing American Adult is something we should worry about and try to remedy. What we should be more concerned with and work harder to remedy is the Vanishing American Leader.

American Leadership everywhere is in crisis. The state of American political leadership is a tragedy. This did not start with the man in the White House or the current administration. Leaders in Washington have been serving the interests of the rich and powerful long before Trump. Political polarization may have gotten worse over the years but this has been a 30 year journey (some would argue longer).  Business Leadership from the executive boardroom to middle management is inconsistent at best.  Unprepared and disengaged managers make the work place culture ineffective and stressful. Output and “bottom line” focused executives see human beings as replaceable assets instead of the key to their success.  Our community organizations and movements are increasingly polarizing with varying expiration dates.  With the leadership in these three vital institutions failing us it will be that much more difficult for us to reach our full potential as a society.

Is all lost? I don’t believe so.

First we must admit a pair glaring truths to ourselves. We have to admit that we need leadership. That is first. Leadership is important at all levels. Stable and productive families have parental leadership. They have a parent/parents who actively and lovingly develop and discipline their kids.  High performing schools have administrative leadership. They have administrators who put the best systems in place for students to excel and achieve. I could go on but you see the pattern. Successful tribes and organizations need leadership. Families, Schools, Churches, Businesses, Governments all need this.

Second, leadership can come from anywhere and from anyone. Leaders are not born …they are made. Trust and faith in a leader is not given it is earned. All the great leaders, across all of human history were not given this title. George Washington, Martin Luther King Jr. and even Jesus had to prove themselves and earned the trust of followers. The title of manager does not mean that a person is a leader. The title of Vice-President does not mean that people will follow. Leaders are given this title and distinction by the people who follow them. It is those same people who can take it away. A cashier at McDonald’s may have more people who call her a leader than a Director at a Fortune 500 company.

This is where I will end this first post because this last point needs to be explored more. The first point is that human beings need strong leadership and leadership is important. We will continue to make this point. The last point is the message and purpose of this blog. It starts with you. We have to be the change we want to see in the world. We can look to Washington and see porous leadership but it should not stop us from educating ourselves and getting involved in our political process. We can look at our managers and executives and be uninspired but it should not stop us from mastering our craft, continuously learning new skills, and executing so efficiently that you cant be ignored. Finally, If your parents and family aren’t a good example then see them as a horrible warning. Educate yourself, don’t hesitate to get help (you can email me) and take yourself out of any toxic situation. The message is clear: never give up. Where there is life there is hope.

This blog will aim to help you become that change. We will post resources, interviews, tips, connections, and much more to help you become that change. We will explore and discuss leadership from all walks off life. We will try to cover it all and help in any way we can. Lets build the next generation of leaders. The right ones.

Hopefully this first post wasn’t too cheesy. Hopefully you will join us for this journey. Thank you for reading.