Powerful Book, Powerful Content!

Extreme Ownership

Let me start by confessing I am enamored by our Navy Seals. It all began when my best friend from high school, Tom, entered the navy. Tom was one of the craziest, yet smartest people I had ever met. While home after attending basic training in 1985, he told a story about his brief encounter with a group of Navy Seals who for some reason were helping with the swimming portion of his class’s training. I simply recall Tom saying to the effect, “These guys are nuts!” A couple of years later when Tom was deployed to an attack sub, he described again these crazy Navy Seals. All he knew was they would deploy underwater them from the sub and then they would return to the sub after completing clandestine missions. According to Tom, not a soul on the submarine had any idea what they had done or where they had been. His descriptions of them made them sound as if they were superhuman. So you can imagine how enthralled I was to watch in 2002, Navy Seals: BUD Class 234 which followed 80 candidates and their efforts to be Navy Seals. Watching these men being pushed to their absolute limits under continuous stress while being required to complete tasks precisely was awe inspiring. Since then many feats of Navy Seals have been relayed to the public, yet they are still masked by a cloak of secrecy. So you can imagine my delighted to learn two Navy Seals had written a book on leadership. Yes, my two favorite subjects Navy Seals and Leadership. I was geek’d out to say the least!

The book covers all the important principals of leadership, but the most important lesson is: everyone is a leader and when you are a leader you have to look at yourself first. What is your role? How did you effect the outcome? The book is full of powerful illustrations from both the battle fields of Iraqi and the competitive environment of corporate America. This is truly one of the most complete yet concise books I have read on leadership. It combines the concepts from all the greatest books written on the subject and delivers them in a way only Navy Seals could. I strongly encourage you to read this book if you want to be the best, lead the best and Win! As the Navy Seals say, “It pays to be a winner!”


My 66 Days to a New Habit

66 day

I’ve tried many times to establish new habits in my life and truthfully, have never been successful. Sure I’ve had moments, and even months, where I felt I had created a new habit, but none really stuck. I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say, “Do something for 31 days and it will be a habit.” Horse manure is what I think of that saying, as I have done many things for 31 days yet it never became a true habit. I sort of chuckled the first time my boss passed out “amazing” 66 day challenge sheets. She proclaimed simply pick anything and do it for 66 days straight at will be a habit. I love her, but talk about over simplifying such a task. I’m sure many people can simply will themselves to do something for 66 days in a row. I tried on three separate occasions. Each time I was confident I had it. I made it all the way to 18 days on my first attempt. I proclaimed to the universe I was going to exercise for 30 minutes each night as if the world could hold me accountable. The next time I said I would not drink beer and made it a whole week. On the third attempt, I said I would send a daily text to my children each morning reminding them how much I love them. I did that one 31 days straight. It should have stuck, right? It didn’t!

Then I read the book The Power of Habit which does an amazing job  explaining why we have habits and how there short cuts, or as I prefer to think, the brains way of maximizing its time by just running a loop that requires no thought to perform the task. I am a bit lazy by nature so this made total sense to me.


The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Live and Business by Charles Duhigg

Okay, so it was awesome that I better understood why I formed habits and I felt better knowing it’s simply my brain trying to be more efficient. I’m not sure why that made me feel better, but it took a habit from being a bad thing or a good thing to simply being an automatic response. I always wondered how I could drive for long stretches of time and have no recollection of it. I was on autopilot and that isn’t by itself a bad thing. But, it didn’t help me move any closer to changing or creating a new habit on purpose which is what I desperately wanted. In the graphic below you see what appears to be a simple key to the formation and pattern of any habit loop: cue, routine and a reward.


In the past when I would try to establish a new habit, I never consciously considered these three things. My main focus was on the routine (habit). I knew I needed to keep the routine easily definable and finite, but I had spent little or no time considering cues or rewards. At best, I thought of the cue as the start of my routine, but never as a separate crucial component.

Let’s examine the cues and rewards for the 66 day challenge I just completed. The habit I wanted to establish was exercising every day for at least 30 minutes. Ironically, the 66 day challenge manifested the cue, routine and reward by magic. My stepdaughter in a manic state declared she would help me get healthy and “we’d do it together.” She declared we shall rise each morning at 5 a.m. go to the gym and workout for an hour then come home and drink delicious nutritious smoothies.

While I was not at all stoked by the idea of dragging my tired ass out of bed at 5 in the morning, I am more of a 6:30 a.m. stumble to the bathroom for a shower kind of guy. I was excited to have a partner in this endeavor. You know someone I could lean on and we could encourage each other when the other lacked the will to push forward. The first morning went off without a hitch. I had set my cues in place. I set my alarm for 5 a.m. and had layed my tennis shoes, socks, underwear, T-shirt, shorts and ear buds in a tidy pile, so I was good to go. The cue is imperative, in my case it is the laying out the clothes the night before or as I learned setting them out for the whole week was best. I only had to set my alarm the first night and awoke each morning since without it. So at the end of day one, we high-fived each other and said how great we feel. This was the reward I was counting on for this 66 day challenge.

Day 2 at 5 a.m. I got up, dressed and looked around for my stepdaughter who hadn’t stirred yet. Being an encouraging partner, I stroll into her room to find her sound asleep. I gently shake her on her shoulder and kindly say it’s time to go workout and sadly not to my surprise I hear her say, “I am going to work out later today.” I shrug in disappointment, but I had expected from the start she was more talk than action. I go and workout for an hour and return back sweaty and wide awake. Then it happened, I felt the overwhelming desire to needle her or say to her see I did it and you didn’t. I sent her a simple text that read, “Day 2 check.” I am embarrassed to admit it but sending that text provided me with tremendous joy. If I were a dog being trained to do a new trick it was my equivalent to the tastiest dog treat every made! I was hooked.

Dog Treat

Day 3 I awoke again at 5 a.m. and the pattern repeated. I smiled with glee as I sent off my text that read, “Day 3 check!” I did the same on day 4, however, I didn’t bother trying to wake her as honestly if she did come it would have messed up my reward system. I continued to send her a text daily until my challenge was complete.

Truthfully, I’ve never had such a powerful reward for a behavior and while it may not be cool to poke fun at another person’s failure while gloating at my own accomplishment, it clearly demonstrated that in the past I hadn’t had a strong reward in place. For me, it appears the reward is more important than the cue and the routine. This thought was reinforced when I was watching a Sunday morning TV show where a dog trainer explains how he picks out a dog to train from a shelter. He said and I quote, “It is important the dog have a high food drive.” What he is really saying is that it is much easier to establish a new habit/routine if the animal loves the food reward. It turns out I am a lot like a dog without a high food drive, so I need to make sure I have a reward I really enjoy.

I am now contemplating my next 66 day challenge and with each new idea I am more focused on what my reward will be than the routine nor the cues. I’d love to hear your thoughts, experiences and advice.


Facebook Experiment


Recently, a colleague told me a Facebook post that is shared by several people just after it is published is more likely to be placed into other people’s news feeds. Being a skeptic, I decided to run an experiment to test this theory. I sent a simple text message to 30 people (friends, co-workers and clients) asking them to share and comment on a post I had made regarding the Portland Real Estate market.

What my 30 “test” subjects didn’t know was that they were actually the experiment. I wanted to see how many of the 30 would actually follow-up on my request. I was shocked by the results. Out of the 30 requests, 25 people shared and commented on my post which was 83%! The 5 that didn’t complete the request? 2 close family members and 2 people were out-of-town on vacation and they asked if were too late to participate the next day.

What can be learned from this little experiment? If you ask people to help you, they will. Take a minute and think of one thing that others could do to help you in your career, with your family or to grow your business and then run your own experiment.

Below are 4 keys to increase the likelihood your request gets carried out:

  • Make them feel special for being asked
  • Make sure the ask is clearly stated
  • Create a sense of urgency for it to be completed
  • Thank them in advance for helping you

Last thought, I truly did want to learn if my post got extra eyeballs. I know without a doubt it did, but since the post wasn’t a video Facebook didn’t display the number of views. So looks like I’ll have to try it again but I’ll use a video next time.

The New Head Shot

No one thinks twice about spending a few bucks on a well done head shot. We get our head shot and we place it everywhere. We put it on our business cards, our signature lines on our emails, LinkedIn, Facebook, our websites, our blogs and on our marketing materials.

Traditional head shots where designed for a “paper” world in the sense that it was a big deal at some point to have your picture on printed materials, but we are living less and less in a “paper” world. We now live in the digital age where everyone has access to the internet and moving images have replaced the still photography of the past. While I still fully believe a head shot is important. It is ever more important to have a head shot that better matches the world in which we currently reside.

So, a 30 to 60 second self promoting well done video is the new head shot. Below you’ll find my recently completed video head shot. I’d love to hear your feedback and what suggestions you have for creative ways such a video could be utilized.

12 Lessons from Candy Crush

candy-crushI personally have never played Candy Crush for the simple fact I’ve watched too many others become obsessed with the game. I sort of viewed it as a form of social media “meth” for adults. However, my wise friend and colleague Scott Koch was sucked into the seedy seductive world of Candy Crush and has come out the other side even wiser. Below you’ll find the 12 lessons he learned while wasting precious moments of his life.

That’s right folks, Candy Crush is not just a mindless way to spend a few minutes escaping reality.

As I have been “stuck” on level 147 for some time now, it occurred to me that I should not follow my first instinct which would be to erase the game and move onto the next puzzle game that looks interesting.
If you have a smart phone, tablet or any other electronic interactive gadget and you have been able to avoid the Candy Crush craze, then I applaud you, however for the rest of us that have got caught up in this cute yet challenging game, I offer you some comfort as you look back on all the hours that you have wasted and will never get back. These hours are not completely wasted as there are lessons to be learned… in Candy Crush.

  1.  The game starts easy and gets harder, kind of like life.
  2. There is always a next level to overcome, life constantly gives us challenges.
  3. Planning helps you win easier, but a little luck doesn’t hurt either. You cannot plan for everything in life, there are twist and turns along the way.
  4. Just when you think you know what you are doing a new element is added. Life never gets boring.
  5. When you fail a level, you learn what you did wrong and know how to do it right the next time. This only applies if you learn from your mistakes, if you don’t then you are “stuck” at that level.
  6. The first move you see is not always the best move, look at all your options first and then make an informed decision.
  7. Ignoring the bombs won’t make them go away, they just explode later ending that round and erasing all the work you have done to that point. I think you get the point on that one.
  8. Failing a level is not permanent neither is winning a level, there is always another round ahead. If you fail at something learn from it, if you succeed, take a moment to smile and then move on to the next challenge.
  9. There is great satisfaction on beating a tough level, none on beating an easy one. This applies to all the obstacles we face in life, are you up for the challenge or do you want to take the easy way?
  10. You can pay for cheats and if you do, you will not be prepared for the next levels coming and will be set up for failure. Taking short cuts in life do not pay off in the long run, if anything they will make your life harder.
  11. When you are stuck, you can always reach out for help from your friends. No explanation needed.
  12. There is nothing like the satisfaction you get when you finally beat that tough level. Life may not be easy, but it does have its rewards for persistence and hard work.

This is only a small sampling of lessons to be learned from a free game!!

So even when you think you are wasting time, you may be learning a lesson that can change your life or approach to life. You just have to look for it!

Scott Koch, Territory Manager/VP, Sterling Bank

THINK… Facebook is doomed?

My daughter, Sophia, had begged to get a Facebook account until she discovered Instagram. Now she could care less about Facebook. In fact, most of her friends think Facebook is for “old” people and isn’t “cool.” I had no idea Instagram even existed until she enlightened me to the fact she had an account with them. Being a concerned father, I made her show me all her posts and the posts of people she was following. I was pleasantly surprised to discover she is generally a thoughtful positive poster of inspiring images or sayings, as were most of her Instagram friends.

One of the images she had shared on her Instagram was a picture of the acronym T.H.I.N.K. which is a reminder to consider before you speak if what is about to come out your mouth is:

  • True
  • Helpful
  • Inspiring
  • Necessary
  • Kind

I could have saved myself a ton of misunderstandings, hurt feelings and embarrassments in the past had I taken the time to ensure the words I conveyed passed the THINK test. I have based along information that wasn’t true because I thought it was true, but wasn’t sure. I’ve said far too many hurtful words when compared to constructive words I’ve shared. I like to think of myself as inspiring, but those around me know I can be a really downer too. For some unknown reason, I have a knack for wanting to be right all the time which leads to me often saying things that are completely unnecessary. As for kind words, well when you have a gift for sarcasm it can be challenging to make sure my words are kind.

It looks like I have some thinking to do.

  • What about you?
  • What have you said you wish you hadn’t?
  • How might taking time to THINK improve your relationships?

“If you don’t have something nice to say then don’t say anything at all.”