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Archive for March, 2010

Is Bigger Better? It Can Be!

March 30th, 2010

By Dr. Mollie Marti

Business is mainly about relationships.  If you are here reading this blog, you likely went into business in response to a burning desire to help others make a positive impact in this world.

Here’s the catch-22: you make your presence more public as a way of helping more people…and then more people begin asking for help!

How can you grow through the greater and greater demands on your time while maintaining your desired happy and healthy lifestyle?

Here are a few perspectives that may help you support your priorities in the midst of business growth:

  1. Accept that you simply do not have enough hours in the day to share a piece of yourself with anyone and everyone who wants you.  A business built on time with you is not scalable.  The brutality of this truth does not make it any less of a reality. You may not like it. But if you fight with this reality, you will lose every time. To make a bigger impact, you must prioritize and get really good at saying ‘no’ to requests (while saying a bigger YES to you!).
  2. My golden rule: do not leave anyone worse off than when you found them. I distinctly remember the ‘aha’ moment I had when sitting in a law school lecture and the professor said that the basis of our tort system was to make the injured party as whole as possible.  I thought, “well, isn’t that a minimum level of every human interaction? Going forward, I am consciously bringing this choice to all of my
    relationships!” Seek to shower kindness on others while embracing no less than a rule of Do No Harm. If you hurt someone, make amends.
  3. With an inherent inability to show all of those we love how much we love them and to help those who deserve our help, there is no room to give time and energy to takers.  If someone is making your life worse and it is clear that they don’t have your best interests in mind, move on (but see #5 before you do!).
  4. Adopt a daily gratitude ritual of giving thanks for all the people who have nourished you over time.  Hold them in your thoughts and bless them. Parents. Family. Teachers.  Friends. Clergy. Significant others. Perhaps even those who have hurt you … and made you more of who you are today. Consider using 5 minutes each day to contact at least one person who comes to mind and express your gratitude for how they have helped you become a better person.
  5. It’s a common (and I believe extremely foolish) mistake to move on from close relationships too quickly. In today’s world, people seem more inclined to walk away from a relationship than to walk away from their television set or computer. Commitments matter. Investing in those you love and who love you reaps rich rewards. Learning how to best connect and communicate is time well spent.  There are several great resources for better connecting to your partner or kids – one I strongly recommend is Dr. Gary Chapman’s book, The 5 Love Languages.
  6. Take a look in the mirror. What are you bringing to your relationships?  Social media, with its openness and live time interaction, can fool you into thinking that relationships are quick and easy.  The truth remains that relationships take time and effort.  You must invest in them.  Examine what you want others to do for you…and then ask the better question, “What can I do today to bring value to this other person?”
  7. My life’s greatest mentor frequently reminded me as a young professional, “Friendship is a two-way street.” This is true of business relationships as well.  In both life and business, pay more attention to those who show they care. Give them special treatment and opportunities for time with you.  This will nourish you as you nourish them.
  8. Finally, love yourself. You simply cannot give away what you don’t have.  Invest in making yourself whole and then creating more to share with others.  Consciously design your best life. When you know your personal definition of success and you make smart daily choices to keep your fuel tank full, you are capable of leading a massive caravan of like-minded travelers who enthusiastically want to share this journey of life with you.

I look forward to hearing your feedback – and your best ideas for serving others in a bigger way while leveraging your time and energy.

About Guest Blogger Dr. Mollie Marti

Dr. Mollie Marti, founder of and coach to elite performers around the globe, pulls out all the stops to help you live a high impact life. This mom/psychologist/professor/lawyer/entrepreneur/author (…the list goes on) is smart enough not to play alone. She hangs with some of the world’s top thought leaders, from Mariel Hemingway to NY Times bestselling authors Daniel Pink and Bob Burg and her team is coming together to offer a powerful (and free!) Best Life Design TeleSummit. Grab your seat at this escaping mediocrity experience before they’re gone:

Don't You Forget About Me

March 29th, 2010

And here is a song dedicated to you – my tribe:

Don’t You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds

Eliminate the Noise (or What Happens When I Walk)

March 25th, 2010

One of my (almost) daily habits is taking a walk.  I do this both as physical exercise and as mediation time.  Walking allows me to clear my head and ideas and solutions appear as if by magic.

People often ask me what I listen to when I walk. The short answer is I don’t listen to anything. In fact, to allow walking to work is special ju-ju on me, I have some particular practices that observe that I thought I would share.

1. I don’t listen to music or anything that puts speakers in my ears.

2. I usually don’t walk with a friend.

3. I walk outdoors as often as I can.

Because I don’t drown my senses in noise or distraction, I find that I

a) I pay attention to details.

b) I am fully present with my body and with my environment.

c)  I have a  keener power of internal observation.

d) I actually see things – the person walking down the street, the tree on the corner that’s just started to leaf out, the color of that car that would look great in one of my next blog designs. And if I am lucky, I get the hear the bells from the church in my neighborhood.

And, at least to me, I am a better person because I don’t shut out the world around me.

So my challenge to you is this: the next time you start to turn on your ipod to shut out what is going on around you, don’t. I’ll be curious to know how that unfolds for you. 🙂

Creating connections

March 23rd, 2010

“Be the change you want to see.”

That is one of my favorite sayings in the whole world. And it has echoed in my head over and over again since returning from SXSWi.  Lots and lots of people who attended made the same observations that I have here: there is a dirth of opportunities for meaningful connection and engagement.

And I don’t think that is limited to mega-events like SXSWi. I think that people everywhere – especially those attracted to social media – feel a deep yearning for not only connection, but for community.

Together we’ve built a pretty amazing community here at Escaping Mediocrity and I am so proud to be a card carrying member of this tribe.

But I feel pulled to do more. To help others connect with each other so they can form meaningful relationships independent of me or this blog.

So….I am going to spend some time on twitter and in my email – and (gulp) maybe even on facebook, making one-to-one introductions. Myabe it’s my southern upbringing, but I get particular joy from helping two people find each other who might have some interesting things to talk about.

So, that’s it. That is today’s post. I am going out there and doing something to fill the void I see.  Want to join me and do the same?!


SXSW Series: What Can We Learn From Mega Churches

March 18th, 2010

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my SXSWi experience. My very favorite part was meeting, connecting and hanging out with people who matter a lot to me. We are separated by distance – and some of them I’d never even seen in real life. So walking around, sharing meals, going with “flow”, laughing and talking while in their company was a total charge. I wouldn’t trade that time for anything.

Interestingly, though, while all this great relationship building stuff was happening, I was also engaged in a  persistent and consistent back channel conversation with LOTS of different people over and over again. At this huge, career changing event, there seemed to be a great disconnect between the fact that people were there to meet and engage with like-minded people and the opportunities to actually DO that.

There are twelve THOUSAND people at sxswi and very few formal  gatherings or gathering spots designed to facilitate the kind of connection and conversation that I heard people craving. If you are lucky enough to know people and get invited to the small, private parties, things are a little easier, but what about the majority of people who are not so well connected?

How do we integrate, meet, connect, converse and engage with others who are like minded, interested in the same things and then develop real relationships?

Chris Brogan wrote a spot on post ( of course) on his observations while he was in Austin. You can read it here. His quote…”Know what I saw more than anything else when I really took a moment to look around? Lonely people.” was spot on. I saw them everywhere too – yearning to connect, not wanting what the huge Super Parties had to offer and with no platform to empower them to do anything about it.

I thought about this… a lot. In fact, in one of my nap-induced fugue states, I began thinking about the challenges of navigating and engaging at a mega-event and how similar they are in many ways to navigating and engaging at a mega-church (think Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in California). 

[And so you know how that connection was made in my sleepy brain, I had a conversation with the effervescent Rochelle Veturis the night before and she talked about her church, which happens to be Saddleback. See? I’m not as crazy as you think. Well, maybe I am but that is the subject of another post. ]

At any rate, here’s where my dreamy thoughts led me:

The challenges of a Mega Event and a Mega Church are actually quite similar.

Number 1:  A LOT of people are attracted to “the big idea” found in a single physical location.

Number 2:  A wide demographic of age, interests, personalities and desires are present in the audience.

Number 3:  The sheer logistics of helping thousands and thousands of diverse people get “fed” through relevant ideas, relevant conversations and relevant relationships is staggering.

I am certainly not saying that the entire burden of solving these challenges rests at the feet of the mega-event organizers. In fact, I would say that much of that weight must be carried by others who are willing to step in and fill this very real need.

Here are just a few ways that mega churches rise to the challenge and I believe there are lessons we can learn and apply as we find ways to put meaningful engagement high on the list of what actually happens at a mega event.

1) Very small (say eight to 10 people) groups gather around a core commonality – young singles, married no kids, married with kids, single again, etc.  This small group is where the most meaningful relationships are fostered. It becomes “home base”.

How this can be applied at a mega-event:

Volunteer leaders can pre-arrange dates, times and locations for non-star-power driven small group conversations. Of course keeping it to eight to ten people wouldn’t be possible but keeping it small and intimate could be. What would REALLY be awesome is if the rockstars took the time to participate in these small group conversations as actual participants. No fanfare, no entourage,  no big announcement. Just show up and contribute.

2) Hundreds of larger (say 75-100 people) groups gathered around a particular interest or topic, ie book discussion group, dad’s basketball group, professional women’s group, etc. An individual won’t connect with every single person in that room but they are incredibly likely to connect with three, four or five people in a meaningful way.

How this can be applied at a mega event:

Have “continuing the conversation” rooms set aside that have designated conversation themes. For example, at SXSWi, the themes might be “Getting heard in the crowded lifestyle space” or “How can the artists blogger actually get paid?” or “What wordpress plugins do you actually use?” – you get the idea. No facilitator or leader is present but when I walk into that room there are people there I can talk to.


Have break out session after certain panels. Panels are not conversations. There are opportunities to ask questions of course but Q & A’s and conversation are very very different.

3) Offline and online channels connect members of the audience.

How this can be applied at a mega event:

Set up a site (official or otherwise) that allows  mini-groups to form prior to the event. These mini-groups can be based on geography, special interests or any other demographic so people have a chance to find their tribe and arrange to connect in real life once they arrive at the event.

Those are the three dream-state produced ideas that took hold in my napping brain. Are they perfect? No. Are there more, better ideas? Yes!

The trick is, I have to stop dreaming, talking and thinking about them and start putting feet under them. I may not have star power, but I have desire and I have the ability to fill some of that hunger for engagement I saw in Austin. Anyone with me?

As always, please make this post infinitly better by sharing your thoughts and ideas. That is always my favorite part. 🙂

SXSW Series: Top Ten Things I Learned at South By Southwest

March 16th, 2010

So I am on the plane flying away from Austin and SXSWi and headed to Tampa to join up with my family. I learned some interesting lessons during my first trip to South by Southwest and I hope you find them useful.

(On Thursday I will write a more in depth article about one of my particular observations, so watch for that.)

*** I must give much much credit for this post to my BFF ElizabethPW. Many of the ‘backchannel” conversations we had while walking around Austin, during our morning coffee time or afternoon downtime are reflected in my list below. ***

Top Ten Things I Learned at South by Southwest:

1. All the cool kids call it “South By”. I still call it either SXSW – and I love hearing Nicky Hajal @tumbledesign actually prononunce that – or “South By Southwest”.

2. I really need to learn how to pack like Jonathan Fields. I brought too many clothes and way too many shoes. Next year: Two pairs of my favorite jeans,  a few shirts, a hoodie and two pairs of shoes.

3. You don’t need to by a pass. Chris Guillebeau shared this tip with me in January and because Chris really knows his stuff, I followed his lead. And if SXSWi keeps it’s current setup (the subject of Thursday’s post), you can get a ton of value and only experience minor inconveniences without a pass.  Conversations can happen everywhere, connections can happen everywhere and a sxswi badge does not enhance either of those experiences.

4. Set up the how/when/where of connecting with important people BEFORE you arrive in Austin. I missed seeing some people I really value just because I didn’t coordinate beforehand. Once the bedlam of South by Southwest begins, tracking people down becomes incredibly difficult, if not impossible.

5. Be very solid about who you are before you arrive in Austin.  The air around SXSWi can get very thin and very heady. Are you the kind of person who is going to run from party to party or chase after Gary V.’s flash wine tastings or not. It’s really easy to fall into the trap of thinking you are missing something if you aren’t at this place or connecting with these high profile people. It can be tempting to starting doing things or behaving in a way that isn’t reflective of who you truly are.

6. Know your limits. Because I am primarily an introvert, I have to know what I can and can’t do if I want to protect my energy. Even extroverts can get overwhelmed by the crazy schedule of events. Being aware of what you need to keep your energy and be your best, most authentic self is critical in such an intense environment.

7. Introduce yourself. I can’t tell you the number of parties/events I attended where people did not do this. They stuck with their crowd and didn’t open their energy to including new people. It doesn’t take much to smile and make contact.

8. Be kind. There are two heroes of my sxswi experience that I will thank privately because they, like me, are introverts. They are so well connected and were incredibly kind to introduce me to people, finagle invitations for me to closed parties and check in with me from time to time. I tried to be kind to others with the limited time/contacts I had. Being kind costs nothing and means so much to the recipient.

9. Most of the public parties are not designed for connecting and conversing with people you don’t already know. This makes me sad because that is the one thing I heard people craving over and over again. BUT if you know these mega-parties are loud and often dark, you can set your expectations accordingly.

10. Sometimes when you meet the people you know online, they are way WAY better than you even imagined. And sometimes, they totally suck. I experienced both. It was a great reminder that people can put forth whatever personality they want to online. The only way to determine it’s truth is to meet them in real life.

Bonus: Have a roommate or core person who really gets you at this event with you. It is overwhelming at best and being able to decompress and debrief in a completely transparent way is critical.

Those are the biggest takeaways I am bringing home from South By Southwest. If you have questions about it, ask away. I can’t promise I know the answer, but I will do my level best. 🙂

Pimp Your Blog & Share Your Link Love

March 11th, 2010

As you all already know, I have super smart friends. They come up with amazing ideas all the time. And today I am stealing one of them. 🙂

Recently Danny Brown, Gini Dietrich and Cameron Herold invited readers to pimp their blogs in the comments of their blogs. I KNOW you all have amazing blogs because I’ve seen and read most of them.

Now is your chance to share your brilliant work with everyone here and get some new readers!

Here how it will work. In the comments below, include the following:

1. The blog’s name and link

2. A one sentence description about why someone should read your blog.

3. Your full name

4. Your Twitter handle (if you have one)

As an alternative, if you don’t have a blog, give us one blog you love to read in the comments.

Go ahead! Pimp your blog!

I can’t WAIT to see them all – YAY!!


March 9th, 2010

It’s a term we hear all the the time.

“I resonate with that.”

“What he said really resonated with me.”

“She writes in a way that resonates with me.”

We all have a general idea of what the word means – something along the lines of “that really speaks to my heart”, right?

Today though I want to dig in a little deeper into where the word originated and tell you an amazing story about how I saw the word demonstrated live. 🙂

So first, a definition:



1. To exhibit or produce resonance or resonant effects.
2. To evoke a feeling of shared emotion or belief: “It is a demonology [that] seems to resonate among secular and religious voters alike” (Tamar Jacoby).
3. To correspond closely or harmoniously: “Symbolism matters, especially if the symbols resonate with the larger message” (William Greider).

To cause to resound.

Good – but still not what I’m after. Let’s try Resonance.

res·o·nance (rz-nns)
1. The quality or condition of being resonant: words that had resonance throughout his life.
2. Richness or significance, especially in evoking an association or strong emotion: “It is home and family that give resonance . . . to life” (George Gilder). “Israel, gateway to Mecca, is of course a land of religious resonance and geopolitical significance” (James Wolcott).
3. Physics The increase in amplitude of oscillation of an electric or mechanical system exposed to a periodic force whose frequency is equal or very close to the natural undamped frequency of the system.
4. Physics A subatomic particle lasting too short a time to be observed directly. The existence of such particles is usually inferred from a peak in the energy distribution of its decay products.
5. Acoustics Intensification and prolongation of sound, especially of a musical tone, produced by sympathetic vibration.
6. Linguistics Intensification of vocal tones during articulation, as by the air cavities of the mouth and nasal passages.
7. Medicine The sound produced by diagnostic percussion of the normal chest.
8. Chemistry The property of a compound having simultaneously the characteristics of two or more structural forms that differ only in the distribution of electrons. Such compounds are highly stable and cannot be properly represented by a single structural formula.

Now those are some VERY cool definitions!

I like this one: Richness or significance, especially in evoking an association or strong emotion: “It is home and family that give resonance . . . to life” (George Gilder).

And I am particularly interested in this one:

5. Acoustics Intensification and prolongation of sound, especially of a musical tone, produced by sympathetic vibration. Especially these words “sympathetic vibration”.

I believe that is the essence of resonance. When someone says, does or writes something that “resonates”, with us, I believe it creates a “sympathetic vibration” in our very core. The words vibrate and create a similar vibration within us which is why our response can often be so very visceral.

And here is the story of how I saw this illustrated.

I was at a conference and this topic of resonance came up. The speaker had a grand piano onstage and invited one of her friends onstage who is a professional singer. They lifted the top of the piano and put a microphone and small camera inside. The singer belted out and held a perfect “C” note. After about 90 seconds, the C string inside the piano began to vibrate and then hum the exact same “C” note. It was amazing.

Now, when something I hear or read or see strikes me deeply, I remember this image. My internal chords are vibrating and humming at the same level as that which moved me.

Isn’t that just beautiful?

As always, I am deeply interested in your thoughts and experiences around resonance and cannot WAIT to read what you share!

Five Emergency Steps to Getting Unstuck

March 4th, 2010

Today I am guest posting for MOMeo Magazine’s 30 Day Momentum Challenge.  You can read my 5 Emergency Steps for Getting Unstuck post and join the conversation here:

See you there!

Escaping Mediocrity: My Blueprint

March 2nd, 2010

So many new adventurers have joined the Escaping Mediocrity Tribe in the past six months, that I thought revisiting the blueprint I am using for my own escape plan might be helpful.

I originally wrote this post back in  – oh wow, just checked the date – MAY 2009 as “Hatching My Escape Plan”. You can read it here.

I am going to copy and paste it here and add some updates. Plus I see that I have neglected to write posts on each element of the blueprint, so I am going to step up that game so that we all have something to go by as we design our own plan to escape mediocrity in our businesses and our lives.


Hatching My Escape Plan

So, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my Plan to Escape Mediocrity. I swear it feels like I am masterminding a breakout from Alcatraz. (Cue Mission Impossible music!)

WAIT – I’ll do that for you since I now know how!!

Seriously, I think if I – and anyone else who wants to come along – will ever break free from mediocrity and into a life and business filled with authentic adventure, we need a plan, a map, a blueprint so we can tell if we are on the right track.

I want to share what I have come up with so far. These are in no particular order because no one is going to have the exact same escape mediocrity route. But I think we can at least use them to stake out where we need to begin digging the tunnels.

My plan now is to write a blog post for each one of these so we can elaborate and discuss them.

(As mentioned above, I have dropped the ball on this so I’m going to kick up it up so we can dig in hard on our plan to Escape Mediocrity.)

My rucksack is packed – have a compass, a shovel, and a canteen. Anyone else coming?!

Blueprint for a Kick-Butt Escape Mediocrity Plan

  1. Accept Responsibility, or Not. (wrote blog posts about this here and here.)
  2. Define and Defend Your Integrity. (Though I have touched on this here & there, I want to write a dedicated post.)
  3. Check Your Assumptions. (I talked about this here, but again – it deserves its own post.)
  4. Consider Your Choices. Score – wrote this post It’s All About Choices
  5. Pay Attention. Have this post already planned – yeah me!
  6. Get Into Gratitude. another score – wrote about that here.
  7. Secure Your Spiritual Core. Yeah….need to write this one.
  8. Play to Your Strengths. and this one.
  9. Seek Wise Counsel. and this one.
  10. Protect Your Priorities. Ok – I wrote about creating what matters here, but I want to dig in on how to protect what matters in a future post.

***Emergency Plan for when you get totally lost: Go find someone who needs help and help them.***

Original Art uploaded on May 23, 2008
by phill.d

So, there you go. My blueprint for Escaping Mediocrity. It certainly isn’t the be all to end all, but I still think it is a great place to start. 🙂

So, as always, I am intensely curious about what you think. Do these elements of a plan of escape resonate with you? As you develop your own blueprint to escape mediocrity – however you define that – what elements would you add?

Can’t WAIT to start this conversation!!!