Thursday, November 23, 2017

23 Ways to Express Gratitude this Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! Here are 23 ways to express gratitude:

1. Send a message to someone you haven't spoken to in a while and let them how much they mean to you.

2. Volunteer

3. Jot down 5 things you are grateful for in a journal each night before bed

4. Say, thank you. A LOT.

5. Focus on "being more" rather than simply "gaining more."

6. Help someone out without needing to be asked

7. Make an anonymous donation

8. Listen more than you speak

9. Take inventory of ways you can improve yourself

10. Serve others before yourself

11. Promote a cause you believe in

12. Take care of yourself so you can do the same for someone else

13. Recommend a great book

14. Give someone a compliment

15. Exercise patience

16. Call and wish someone a happy holiday

17. Take time to consider those who aren't as fortunate

18. Show kindness

19. Avoid waste

20. Avoid gossip

21. Be present

22. Given someone your undivided attention

23. Share laughter

And I'm extremely grateful to ALL OF YOU for supporting my daily message.

Much love,


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Everybody Writes

I'm reading a terrific book right now called, Everybody Writes. The book is by content marketer, keynote speaker, and best-selling author Ann Hanley.

For anyone looking to write, and potentially make a living out of it, I can't recommend this book enough. 

Here are just a few quick tips on punching out what she calls, "The Ugly First Draft."


Jot down your key ideas as they come to you. No need to curate them or put them in any particular way when starting out. 

If you get stuck simply take some quick personal inventory. Do you need more examples, research, or is there another point that needs to be made?

Most importantly, keep the self-talk positive. Don't beat yourself up telling yourself you don't have the goods as a writer. 

Every writer struggles. As Hemingway once said, "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed."


It's likely you'll first ugly draft won't exactly be Shakespearean. This may take a little bounce from your step, forcing you to already forget the remarkable accomplishment you've just made!

Take a breather. Walk away and focus on something else for a while. You'll be amazed by the clarity and perspective you come back with.


Nabokov once said, “I have rewritten — often several times — every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers.” 

Take the best parts of your first ugly draft and use them in your final product. Remember, writing is about the reader not indulging the writer.

Ultimately, our job is to be of service. We do that by having the courage to cut whatever isn't in harmony with that mission. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Some Quick Takes on the Importance of Reading by the Super Successful

Bill Gates

"I don't let myself start a book that I'm not going to finish," Bill Gates said in a recent interview. He regularly takes notes in the margins of his books to ensure he's concentrating on the information he's taking in. 

Gates also believes it's important to constantly ask yourself how you feel about the author's perspective. Do you agree, or disagree? He claims if he disagrees with a writer it becomes increasingly difficult to finish the book because his notes begin to pile up. 

What's important is the fact he's engaged and thinking critically.

Elon Musk

Elon Musk reportedly finished reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica by the time he was 9 years old. He credits his love of reading for much of his success. When asked how he learned so much about rocket science he responded by simply saying, "I read books."

Warren Buffett 

Warren Buffett also loves reading. A lot. The second richest man in the world says he reads between 5-6 hours a day. "You can learn so much," Buffet says. "I particularly love biographies. To be able to live the lives of these people seems so extraordinary -- the lessons, the discouragements they faced. Just everything about it. You can't get enough of reading"

Monday, November 20, 2017

You Have Plenty of Time

Dani and I had exchanged, what seemed like an infinite number of emails, texts, and missed calls before finally pinning down a date to meet for coffee. 

“SO MUCH to talk about and I think it’s meant to be that we talk soon,” she told me. 

Dani and I met just a year earlier, while volunteering at an elementary school in East Los Angeles. Right away, I could sense a restlessness about her; the beautiful angst that often accompanies youth, possibility, and not quite knowing what to do with it all.

As we casually sipped our coffees at a busy Culver City coffee shop, I saw a bit of my former self, sans tattoo and the shiny Vespa helmet sitting beside her. I recalled once feeling so young, but that I was quickly running out of time to make my mark on the world. 

I wanted to start the journey, the Appian Way to my unrealized dreams, but like her, I didn’t know where to begin. 

Listening to Dani that afternoon, everything seemed hurried as her words tried valiantly to keep pace with her thoughts. 

She showed me notes from a scratch pad Kerouac himself might have toted, full of scribbled thoughts, arrows and charts in tow. Her confusing notebook resembled a fake map devised to mislead an invading army.

But Dani was a very special girl whose passions varied from becoming a filmmaker to a human rights activist. I could tell she’d sought my help that afternoon for a little guidance on what to do and how to get the ball rolling

“If you think of all the things you want to get done at once, you’ll quickly get overwhelmed,” I said.  “You’re young and have plenty of time. First, pick one thing and do it as best you can. As you continue to try different things, your path will slowly reveal itself to you. And then, it gets simpler. Work really hard, be kind, and doors will start to open.”

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Turn Your Pain into a Movement

In 1980, a 13-year old girl was killed by a drunk driver in Fair Oaks, California. The driver who hit Cari Lightner had recently been arrested for a previous DUI hit-and-run. He left the young girl's body at the scene.

Cari's mother, Candace Lightner, would go on to found Mothers Against Drunk Driving at her kitchen table. Her decision to turn her pain into a movement has changed our country forever.

Since MADD was started drunk driving deaths have been reduced by 50% and more than 370,000 lives have been saved. 

We're all going to experience ups and downs. Both will vary in intensity depending on the individual, but what applies to us all is our capacity to turn our grief into something productive.

We have a choice in how we show up and how we react to setbacks. Some of the greatest movements have been fueled by pain and loss. 

When we pour our efforts into something larger than ourselves we have found a sense of purpose. And having a mission can make you unstoppable.

We can shape lives, prevent similar tragedies or mistakes, start important dialogues, inspire others to do the same, and make sure our loss and pain wasn't in vain.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Power of Praising Process Instead of Intelligence


Professor of Psychology at Stanford and author of the transformational book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck, notes the following about self-esteem:

"Self esteem is not something you give to people by telling them about their high intelligence. It is something we equip them to get for themselves by teaching them to value learning over the appearance of smartness, to relish challenge and effort, and to use errors to routes of mastery." 

Dweck's point is that too many of us put far too high a premium on the importance of appearing intelligent. We take it personally when our intuition is challenged and as result many destructive byproducts can ensue: 

1. We become isolated
2. We cling to bad ideas 
3. We overlook the importance of collaboration and vulnerability

Fixed Mindset versus Growth Mindset

Feeling inadequate, especially intellectually, triggers a reaction. But the good news is if you have a growth mindset you run to challenges, while those with a fixed mindset flee from them. Even worse, we seek someone we deem to be better than in order to boost our own self-esteem. Dweck notes how this wasn't always the case: 

"We invented as a western modern culture the idea of stupid. Stupid did not exist in the wild. You learned your skills, they worked or they didn't work before you made the appropriate corrections. We invented the idea of intelligence that gets measured by your success and failures." 

Advice for the Little Ones

Dweck has also done extensive work with children. She teaches parents to focus less on praising intellect and more on the process. Specifically, the following:

1. Hard work
2. Focus
3. Persistence

As a result of this conditioning a child begins to develop a Growth Mindset encouraging them to love challenges rather than be thwarted by them. It also helps them react better to setbacks.

A recent study tracking the mothers of 1, 2, and 3-year olds also revealed the more mothers praised process the more likely the child was to have a growth mindset and desire for challenge 5 years later.

The takeaway is if you're willing to put in the work it's never too late to go from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Power of the Hawthorne Affect

Take a Stroll

Ever take a stroll with a friend who walks a little faster or slower than you normally would alone?  Your stride will invariably take on their pace and rhythm to keep pace. 

It's this same act of taking on the same energy and patterns of people around us that is the foundation of something called, The Hawthorne Affect. 

I'd like to talk about what it is briefly and illustrate a few ways where it can be used effectively to boost your productivity.

The Origin of the Hawthorne Affect

The term Hawthorne Affect was coined back in 1958 by a researcher named Henry Landsberger. Hawthorne Works, which was an electric company based in Chicago, commissioned an experiment to see if their workers would be more productive under higher or lower levels of light. 

Although this particular research was the basis of the study, what they found about the habits of productivity were quite interesting.

The Compound Effect

It turns out seemingly insignificant adjustments like clearing floors of debris, switching around workstations, or maintaining clean work areas all served to boost company productivity. 

How Can We Apply it to Our Daily Lives

I mentioned in a previous blog post that a recent study revealed those who write down their goals are 39% more likely to achieve them. That number jumps to nearly 75% when you have an accountability partner. Once you've made the proclamation that you plan on doing something to another person you will move mountains to get it done.

Those who write down their goals are 39% more likely to achieve them. That number jumps to nearly 75% when you have an accountability partner.

This study beautiful illustrates the power of accountability. Serial entrepreneur and New York Times bestselling author Gary Vaynerchuk elaborated in a recent interview on the value of looking outside one self in order to achieve greater results. 

"You know what really sealed the deal for me? Getting healthier. I was 38 years old and it didn't come naturally to me. I hate the gym. I hate it now. I don't like it. I don't want to do it. But I knew it was important...I've won and I'll never lose again. The system was, I needed to be accountable to another human being. I'm doing it almost weirdly more to not let them down. So I feel like there's a shift that can make people work harder."

Coffee with a Friend 

If you want to apply the Hawthorne Affect right now, do what learning expert and keynote Jim Kwik suggests. 

He'll often ask a very focused and productive friend out to a coffee shop when he needs to get some work done. He'll take on the energy of his friend and put an equal amount of heightened focus, time, and effort into what he's doing in an attempt to mirror their effort. 

As a result, he gets more done in less time.