I recently had a conversation with a friend who was unhappy with his job.   Over drinks he explained in great detail how he felt that he had been passed over for a promotion, wasn’t being paid enough, and didn’t see the opportunities on the horizon that he felt he deserved.

I was actively listening, trying hard to only acknowledge and ask questions—not agree, disagree, or offer advice.  After all, he didn’t come to me asking me to solve his problems.  He came to complain, and that’s ok.  We all need to exhale once in a while.

I’ll admit, it wasn’t easy.  In truth, I had a number of thoughts on how he could improve his situation.  I’m rarely without at least one opinion on a subject.  However, Dale Carnegie teaches us that it’s one thing to politely offer constructive criticism when it’s asked for; it’s another thing to correct someone (even when they’re wrong!) if they didn’t ask for your opinion in the first place.

The conversation did get me thinking though, mainly about the subject of entitlement.  So many people feel that they deserve things in life.  Why?  The universe owes us nothing.  The fact that we are alive, here, and able to think about these things at all is spectacularly amazing.  We really aren’t entitled to any sort of success.  Anything we receive in life without working very hard for it is a gift and should be truly appreciated.  Anything we earn in life as a result of our own hard work should be appreciate even more, because more often than not, hard work often goes completely unrecognized and unrewarded.

Very few people get the round of applause, the big fat check, or the simple “thank you” that they so richly deserve.  Honestly, if you do find yourself with enough time to complain about the fact that you’re not being adequately recognized or rewarded, couldn’t that time be better spent working even harder toward your own success?

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Happy Holidays: A Time for Giving

In this time of year when we celebrate holidays, family, and the spirit of giving, I would urge you to consider giving to someone in need.

In particular, if you have the time or money, consider giving to a food pantry. You can donate to your favorite local charity, or give to a larger organization. I personally recommend the following charities:

Feeding America

Feeding America’s “mission is to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger.”

The Hunger Site

“The Hunger Site provides simple, effective, feel-good ways to address an urgent, specific humanitarian need:  the eradication of world hunger.”

These have been my charities of choice for years and I highly recommend the work that they do to help those in need.

Happy Holidays,


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What is the Single Best Thing We Can Do for Our Health?

Thanks to my good friend Stephanie Benedetto Padovani for sharing this great advice with me on making a difference in your personal health!

One really great way to track your fitness and follow Dr. Mike Evans’ advice is to use a site like Everyday Health (http://www.everydayhealth.com).

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Be a Great Resource: Advice for Wedding Vendors on Bridal Show Sales

For most wedding vendors, there are only two seasons–wedding season and bridal shows.

Actually, this isn’t entirely true–winter weddings are really a fantastic idea for brides and grooms in terms of overall originality and cost savings, and many venues and promoters hold outstanding wedding expos throughout the year.  However, most wedding business owners will agree that there sure are a lot of bridal expos in January and February.

After watching a video posted by my friend Milwaukee DJ Brian Redd on the subject of “Wedding / Bridal Expos & Fairs” I started thinking a bit about the fundamentals of sales and how difficult these events can seem not only to brides and grooms, but also to wedding vendors themselves.

There are a lot of emotions at stake.  For the customer, it’s their once-in-a-lifetime wedding day, a celebration of their marriage, and an investment of a lot of time and money.  For the vendor, it’s their business, their livelihood, and their professional identity.  (Nothing says who you are like a giant poster of yourself or your name!)

If you own a wedding-related business and are thinking of setting up a booth at one of the upcoming bridal shows in your area, here are two questions that I think are especially relevant to the experience of most vendors and most brides and grooms.

1.  “Are you a sales person?”

This is a great question that Brian Redd asks.  Bridal expos are all about making a first impression.  (You can close the deal later during a follow-up meeting!)  How you set up your booth, what you bring, etc., is important, but it’s not nearly as important as your ultimate sales presentation:  you.

I know many wedding vendors who are great at their jobs (DJ, photographer, florist, etc.) but don’t feel that they’re the best sales people.  Many of them approach these bridal shows with a sense of hesitation–they want to show off their incredible skills to their potential customers, but they’re not comfortable being sales people.

That’s ok.  Most people aren’t natural-born sales people, and–even worse–many people who think that they are great at sales are actually quite terrible and don’t even realize it!  If you’re uncomfortable with sales you have two options:  education and / or team work.

There certainly are tons of great books and websites out there not only about basic sales principles, but also about wedding-business sales you can use to sharpen your skills.   To do it right, I highly recommend a few of the following resources that I’ve personally beneifited from over the years:











In terms of team work, consider reaching into your network of family, friends, co-workers, and former customers for help.  While you may be the owner of the business, do you have an employee who is a real natural at sales?  Consider putting them out front and center and then joining the conversation after they make a first impression for your business.  How about inviting a friend or family member along to help you come work at the show, if nothing else than for moral support?  Finally, many wedding vendors invite a former bride and / or groom to come share their experience with potential customers at wedding shows.  Nothing beats a one-to-one recommendation!

2.  Are you a talker or a listener?

Brian gives some great examples in his video of what to do (and what not to do) once you’ve actually started a conversation with a potential customer at a wedding expo.  People love to talk about themselves, and truly listening can be a rare gift.  For the most part, a bridal expo isn’t the best time to talk at length about your wedding business–rather, it’s a time to ask and answer questions.  Find out about the couple, their friends, their family, and who they are.  Find out some of the couple’s specifics for their wedding (where and when) and the their more general ideas (style, vision, . . . and what they don’t want!)

Be a great resource for the couple from the beginning and they’ll have confidence that you will deliver throughout the planning process and on the big day.  Offer advice, recommend other fellow wedding professionals, maybe even share a quick story that relates to their wedding plans.  If you find it very easy to talk at length, force yourself to ask at least 3 concrete questions about their wedding (questions that can’t be answered with only one or two words) before you say anything about yourself or your business.

Before you know it, you’ll know all about their wedding and have a really great place to start when you begin to explain how your business is the perfect fit for their once-in-a-lifetime event.

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December 21, 2012 – The End of the World, or the Beginning of a New One?

What if you only had one year left to change your life?  What goals would you set?  What would you try to accomplish for yourself and for those around you?

Today marks one year until December 21, 2012, a date which some have speculated to be an apocalypse of some sort—so many, in fact, that even NASA felt the need to weigh in on the subject:


While there are much more comprehensive resources out there about the “2012 Apocalypse,” Wikipedia offers a brief overview of why Lloyd Dobler was driving around in a limo while Roland Emmerich blew things up and why Jay Sean was signing about numbers:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_phenomenon.

Unlike our 24 / 7 / 365 Gregorian calendar, the Mayans used their rather progressive astronomy work to formulate “b’ak’tuns,” or long count calendar world ages of roughly 5,125 years each.  Assuming that Western scholars were even close in their interpretations of Mayan b’ak’tuns (and that all the math is right for the conversion from the Julian to Gregorian calendar, and so on), December 21, 2012 would come up as the end of a Mayan calendar cycle.  Then again, since it’s also the winter solstice (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/19/winter-solstice-2011_n_1156526.html) let’s just give those scholars the benefit of the doubt that December 21, 2012 would indeed mark the end of the Mayan fourth world age.

Or does it mark the beginning of the fifth world age?

Really, our numbering systems for marking time are a combination of astronomical observations (the rotation of the Earth, etc.) and our marking of significant points in our history.  Different cultures and different religions create calendars based in their systems of belief.  Individually, we celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and other milestones because they hold meaning in our lives.

The Mayans also viewed the end of a cycle as a time of renewal, rebirth, and change.   As Harvey Bricker of Tulane University’s Middle American Research Institute points out “There are abundant written references to dates before the current era, and there are written records about the time after the current era.  You know what’s going to happen on the 22nd of December 2012? It will be the first day of the rest of our lives.”  (http://tulane.edu/news/newwave/062508_maya.cfm)

You can believe in the end of the world, or you can believe in the beginning of a new one.  What if you chose today, December 21, 2011 as the starting point of a year of renewal?  Watching the calendar pages peel away over the next year, what could you accomplish for yourself?  What could you change for the better in the world around you?

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Three Views of The Secret

Re-reading Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret again, here are three quotes that I really think sum up The Law of Attraction and The Power of Positive Thinking:

“Thoughts become things.”
— Mike Dooley

“The scientific use of thought consists in forming a clear and distinct mental image of what you want; in holding fast to the purpose to get what you want; and in realizing with grateful faith that you do get what you want.”
— Wallace D. Wattles

“You want to become aware of your thoughts, you want to choose your thoughts carefully and you want to have fun with this, because you are the masterpiece of your own life. You are the Michelangelo of your own life. The David that you are sculpting is you. And you do it with your thoughts.”
— Joe Vitale

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What is the Sound of Your Success?

To me, the sound of my own success has always been two words:  “Thank you.”  They’re simplest, most meaningful mark of one’s accomplishments that I can think of in any industry or endeavor.

But are you waiting to hear them, or are you saying them?

True success is about collaboration, teamwork, gathering ideas, and listening.  What can you do for others in your business or in your life?  How can you create opportunities to not only say, but also hear two words that are even more meaningful than “Thank you?” . . .

“You’re welcome.”

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