Risk = Reward

Years ago when I entered the recruiting industry, I had mentors pushing me to success. The firm I worked for exclusively placed Accounting/Financial professionals, which still is my favorite specialty. Once a month, the CEO of the company came to the office for a Friday afternoon staff meeting. Just when you are aching to end the week and party hardy, he would come in, often late, and hold this arduous staff meeting. He often evoked fear and was most often inappropriate. His behavior quickly taught me how to navigate around the gender disparity and abusiveness which was so common in the workplace in the 1980’s.

During one meeting, he was getting his point across when we were behind on goals. He looked up at the team, pointed his finger and stated “No Risk = No Reward”. It was as though a bring light went off in my head when I heard those words. No one had ever said that to me and at 24, I was very impressionable at that stage of my career. I left the meeting that evening, ready to start my weekend yet I remember his words resonating through my mind all weekend. I came into the office on Monday with a different perspective. I picked up the phone (which was our only form of communication with the customers in those days) and took a new approach. Whenever I felt butterflies in my stomach, I knew this was the moment that I had to try something new for me (taking a risk) in order to move the work on my desk to the next level of success. And that’s what I did. From that moment on, my productivity increased and I was noted from being one of the top producers on the team……. all because I took a risk and tried something new. Mind you, I am an introvert, hardly a sales person, but what drove me and continues to drive me is finding people new jobs is so fulfilling. My work has meaning.

When the day came that I was CEO, I changed the mantra that drove me. It is now Risk = Reward because I wanted the mantra to be positive rather than putting a negative word into it. I wanted to be more empowered and I wanted to empower my employees. We tend to attract what we speak!! My goal was and continues to be that when we take a risk in our careers, that is often the key to our personal success. The risks can be small throughout the day such as: picking up the phone to have “live” connection with a person (email allows us to hide out----share your personality and watch all the good stuff that comes back to you). In my field, phone contact is the quickest way to increase your success rate. Go have that conversation with a co-worker. If they are playing music too loud, for God sake, just kindly ask them to lower it. Why does everything have to be drama filled!!! If a co-worker is distracting you or there is too much conversation around you which interferes with your focus, again, set your boundaries and say you have to get back to work. Why do we all take something so simple soooooo personally. It’s not person, dude, I have to get my work done!!!

So take a risk today!! Life is lived only once and if we hold back on those little risks, we’ll never know what we are truly capable of. And we are worth seeing the best in ourselves. Success is never reached by staying the same. So give yourself the gift of risk today and just have fun with it!!!

The Small Business Engine

Often times there will be statements in the news saying that “small business is the backbone of the American economy”. That is so very true. There are far more small businesses in the United States than large corporations and we employ way more people that our behemoth counterparts. Not to mention, we are downright just great! I’ll tell you why!

A small business has to be nimbler, more flexible and quicker to respond to our client’s needs. If we don’t, there are so many more choices knocking at their door to take away the business. Many of our large competitors show up with their glitzy presentations, elaborate give-a-ways and sales pitches that offer big results at lower prices. They can do that because their massive growth is based off volume. Look at how Walmart has cornered many markets and put many small stores out of business yet this evening I saw on the news how Walmart is closing 150 stores across the country. This is not the only large chain feeling some pains from high growth.

The large businesses just don’t have the level of quality and care as the small businesses. As an owner, I can say this on behalf of many of my colleagues……we bring a passion that leaves our large counterparts in the dust. While we are guided by budgets and facts, it is often our intuition that determines the final outcome. The reason is that we are closer to the pulse of our clients and our employee’s needs. We see it, we feel it, we breath it. In 26 years of owning my company, not a day or even an hour goes by where I am not thinking about the AdNet engine and all the people who drive it.

I’m actually writing this blog at 2:00am because my mind is working through an obstacle that just won’t let me sleep. So rather than grind it out as I stare at the ceiling, I’m at my desk writing out strategies, resolving a problem and asking questions to open up possibilities. I think the only time I ever said “I give up” was over how a landlord was handling an issue in the office building. Other than that, I charge through a problem like an eagle because no person or situation (other than God’s will) deters me from taking my company to where we need to go. Telling me “no” simply means “no for now”. And no one gets to mess with my employees. They are part of the ongoing legacy of AdNet and I go to all lengths to protect them, push them and teach them to be the best they can be even when we would rather kick back. A small business must always step up to be ahead of the competition. We are Olympian’s at every level within the business. We practice, stretch our potential and play to WIN while keeping the lines of communication open. It’s just like an engine; for it to run at its best, the lines are flushed, the fluids are changed and the driver must pay attention to how it feels……much like an engine. We are proudly the backbone of the American economy and we take it very seriously.

The Gift of Resolutions

Around this time of the year, we look to New Years as the beginning of something different, out with the old and in with the new!! Often we make resolutions to lose weight, save money, clean our clutter, spend more time with loved ones and the list goes on and on.

Many times I hear the naysayers make fun of people who set resolutions and either don’t follow through or start then stop. My feeling is that if there is something that you want to change within yourself or a new practice you want to start, use this time to give it a try. If you don’t follow through, then find something else that matters to you. Start small and start any time of the year.

When we are ready to hear the lesson or make the change often times it is said that the teacher appears. Sometimes the best teacher is oneself. We get hit over the head enough times, maybe we’re ready to change a behavior. If it doesn’t feel good, why do we keep running into the same wall like a wind-up toy staying in motion until it runs out of juice? Only that person can answer the question and maybe we need to focus on ourselves only. That should be plenty of work to keep a person busy.

As the New Year approaches and people talk about setting New Year’s resolutions, have fun with it. Start with something small and maybe it’s as simple as saying hello to a stranger every day or letting someone go ahead of you in traffic. What we really need is peace in the world and that peace starts with ourselves. When we feel that twinge of joy in our hearts everything else seems to fall in place. Just pay attention to your surroundings next time. If you keep doing the same things that make you stressed out, go be a random acts of kindness type of person and watch your solutions start to pop up in your life. You give joy, you get joy!!! It’s very simple. You act like a victim or be moody/testy then that is just what you will create around you and often alienate those around you. You see, those of us who get it about joy, don’t stay in the space of those who are moody very long.

So give yourself the gift of a resolution any day of the year. Your happiness starts with you and that is a very powerful gift!!

May 2016 bring you all the joy and love you can hold in your heart.

What does Christmas mean?

I find as I get older, my Christmas spirit is evolving. There are some years that I can feel when the “spirit” hits and fewer years when the holiday came and went with not much impact. I have seen that the holiday season whether you are celebrating Hanukah or Christmas triggers a multitude of feelings for people. Feelings like joy, excitement, kindness, giving, are the main themes while other feelings of loss, sadness, anger and loneliness creep in for others.

This season, we have taken longer than usual to decorate the house and the cards have not been sent yet. I told my wife this year that I just want to “feel” Christmas rather than seeing it. There is so much rush to put up decorations, check off the Christmas list of “stuff” to purchase and make sure cards are sent to everyone that I slide into Christmas Day exhausted waiting for the day after Christmas. That means the rush is over and I can do nothing. So this year, I started reading morning and evening Christmas season meditations from the bible to really feel what Christmas is all about. It has been a most soothing gift I have given myself.

So what is Christmas all about? I think Linus said it perfectly in A Charlie Brown Christmas……."for unto you, born on this day in the City of David, a savior………….” Just that one event changed our world for the better. It’s probably the most powerful event ever in the history of time. If we think of it in those terms, it’s really amazing how one story, whether or not you believe, has such an impact around the world. We focus on miracles and this birth was a miracle.

Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, shows us the journey of Ebenezer Scrooge from being a miserable and greedy curmudgeon to a blossoming, generous & joyful man. Through Scrooge’s Christmas Eve night, his visits by the Ghost of Christmas Past-Present-Future highlights how he was shaped into the miserable Scrooge we know. But when he discovers that Christmas is about gratitude and embracing the joy at his fingertips, he is able to shed his armor of anger and live again.

Dr. Seuss’s, The Grinch, is a similar character who was determined to take Christmas from The Who’s. Even with every stitch of Christmas commercialism stolen by the Grinch, The Who’s still come together to sing about the joyful coming of Christ. Once the Grinch see’s this and gets it, his heart grew and he became the giving & loving Grinch.

So the story of Christmas started with the miracle of the birth of Christ and from that great story tellers of our time wrote about miserable men who were miraculously transformed into loving human beings. We can say these are just stories but look around each Christmas season for the little miracles; we may not readily see them because often times they are private moments of gratitude. We tend to be kinder, give a little more, show more flexibility, smile a little more and spend more time with people we love. Don’t you wish everyday was a holiday? It can be.

The gifts that we open are temporary “fixes” to what we have been conditioned to feel as joy. Christmas doesn’t come in “packages, boxes or bags” as our friend the Grinch would say. It really does come from our hearts.

So this holiday season, whichever one you are celebrating, give the gift of your kindness and allow yourself the time to reflect on all that is joyful in your life and I promise that you will count many more heart centered blessings than all the wrapped packages being given this season.

Why Inclusion is a Great Thing!!!

We accomplish so much more when we include others. There is such a focus on diversity & inclusion within corporate America, finally!!! Everyone deserves a piece of the business pie to be shared fairly.

Over the past few years, the LGBT community has been invited to the table as partners for business in corporate America. I always say that if the door is going to open for my company because I am part of the LGBT or WBE community, that’s great yet it’s our exemplary service that keeps us in the door!!! I take it very seriously that if I am out there opening doors for the younger generation of business owners as others have done for me, then I will be one of the best in our industry. And I feel like we are accomplishing that every day. You may wonder why I am not saying that we have accomplished it? Well, one must be their best in business every day and every day business demands are changing. We move with the needs of our clients and internal employees. So we take one day at a time and act be our best.

Within the journey of inclusion, we still exclude. So, I “crusade” along with my other LGBT peers to make it a safer and fairer place for our business community. Yet, if we within our community are excluding each other because of gender and ethnicity then we are moving through quicksand to include all people. We are missing the boat of what inclusion is really all about.

It’s a fact that Caucasian gay men still have the advantage over the rest of us in the LGBT community. That’s not fair and I am blowing the whistle on the disparity wherever I can. If we are breaking down barriers to be accepted than it must be all the way around. We have to make space for everyone AND we are not to exclude those outside the LGBT community. This isn’t an exclusive club, this is life and all the personalities and backgrounds come together to make a beautiful blend of wisdom & expertise.

Just as we take to the streets when ignorant public servants don’t issue marriage licenses, we need to also take to the streets for world peace and that includes all of us. We need to understand each other’s challenges and find ways to be inclusive so our collective experiences can allow for collaboration.

So as we approach 2016, let’s be inclusive everywhere, in our workplaces, in our neighborhoods and in our families.