Control Your Fears

In May of 2017, I decided to do something. That was when I officially began the journey of a very public transformation. I've had a large social media following for several years, as a result of starting a couple companies that grew into thousands of fans and customers. But, they only knew me as a car enthusiast, or an oil industry worker. Even though I've been consulting businesses and mentoring startups for over a decade, I was only doing this privately. I didn't have the confidence to inspire and educate people in a public manner. We all have the fears of rejection, and failure. I decided that I would overcome these fears, and step into this big social media spotlight.

It wasn't easy. It still isn't easy. I'm only about a year into this, at the time of this writing. I've learned many things during this past year. Not all of them have been good things. I've learned that some people that you considered friends for years, would not support your goals. Even those who you have always supported, with their dreams. They will laugh at you, talk behind your back, and make passive-aggressive comments to try to take you down a notch. I'd say this was the most disappointing part of the journey, so far. If anything, it has been a great eye-opener, and has exposed these people for who they really are. For that, I am actually grateful. I have a very strong and determined mindset, and it is very clear that I do not let these critics stop my progress. Obviously, they must have underestimated my drive and determination.

Conversely, there has been a positive aspect to this. An opposite realization, which carries far more weight than what naysayers bring. For every negative critic that showed up, there have been dozens of unexpected supporters that also appeared. People that I may have misjudged, who I never thought would support me. Those relationships have grown stronger, and it has highlighted the good people in my circles. The amount of positive emails, texts and messages I receive completely overwhelm me. It tells me I'm doing something right.

Getting back to the topic of fear. I knew I had stories and lessons to tell. I just knew that I wasn't brave enough to deliver them to my own acceptable standards. I had to get better at public speaking. Some people actually rank public speaking higher than the fear of death. There would be no way around this fear. I'd have to trudge right through the middle of it, if I ever hoped to achieve my goals. So, I took a deep breath, and called myself a few derogatory names, and signed up to attend a local club meeting with Toastmasters International in my area. For those of you that aren't familiar with Toastmasters, it is a non-profit worldwide organization that provides education and practice in public speaking and leadership. Chances are, there are a few clubs near you. You can search for them on their website,

In less than one year, I went from having zero experience in public speaking, to competing - and winning at public speaking contests. Had you asked me a year ago if I'd be competing at this, I'd have laughed at you as the cold sweats began to form just thinking about it. No way in hell could I see myself doing that, especially in a short amount of time. But here is the thing, I was simply determined. Like everything in my life, I set goals, and then deliver on them. I attended every single Monday night, only missing them on vacations or holidays. I found great mentors, and a room of positive, supportive people, who feel more like family now. We are all there on the same mission, for self-improvement. I recently earned my Competent Communicator certificate, having completed 10 prepared public speeches. Something to frame, and be proud of. Very few start and complete that journey. Most take several years to do so. There are no shortcuts.

I feel that anyone that joins, and participates within Toastmasters will be forever changed for the better. In one year, you will not be the same person that joined. I found so much value here, that I became a VP of this group. I plan to stick around and mentor others. I also have plenty of room to improve. Watching the weekly transformations and improvements of others in the group, is something astounding to witness.

Anyways, here is a contest speech that I delivered a week ago, on the subject of FEAR! I hope that the story captivates you, but more importantly, the message is heard. This is how I live my life, nowadays. If something makes me feel fear, I go after it and try to overcome that fear. Enjoy.

Look In The Mirror

Do you want a better life? It starts with you. How badly do you want it? Are you all talk, or are you actually taking action to improve yourself?

If you want to achieve levels different from where you currently are, you have to redefine yourself to grow into that higher level. It would be absurd to think about massive lifestyle changes happening, without investing in yourself to create and master those new opportunities.

Want to be the boss? How much time have you invested in learning how to become one? Read any management books in the last month, or take any recent courses on leadership? If you said no, then you are not serious about it. Rest assured, other people you know are investing in themselves, and improving. They will get that job.

Want to start a company? How many books have you read on doing so? How many mentors have you approached with questions? Done any legit research on the business niche? Have you done a simple business plan to estimate the financials and returns? No? Then you aren't ready.

We should always look into ourselves first, if we want changes to happen. Rid yourself of things that do not move you closer to your goal. That may include bad habits, excuses, negative people, and your attitude. Make these changes to yourself, and watch the opportunities arrive. Most people simply hold themselves back, but they do not realize it.

Become the best version of yourself, and seek to improve every single day. Little positive changes, performed over a long time, will bring exponential gains.

Managers vs. Leaders

Are you currently a manager, or do you aspire to become one? Do you consider yourself a leader? The reason there are two different questions, is because there could be two different answers. Most people believe a manager and leader are the same thing, but this statement is not accurate. Anyone who has worked within any company has seen proof of this. Within all companies, the role of manager is certainly an important one. The position is purely authoritative, intended to keep the employees following the process and rules. One could even argue that the leadership aspect of some of these manager roles is not always required.

Not all managers are leaders. "Manager" is just a job title. Conversely, not all leaders are managers. Some individuals lead from behind, regardless of their corporate rank. These people motivate and inspire everyone around them to perform at a higher level, by offering encouragement and leading by example. Leadership is a personality characteristic, not related to any specific title. It is something you have to decide to become, and practice to improve.

Within our corporate world, many people get promoted into management without having the leadership persona. Someone could be an ace at performing within a skilled support role, but that doesn't automatically make them leadership material. They may have mastered the intellectual IQ requirements for that technical role, but may have not developed the EQ (Emotional Quotient) to lead people. Some managers are just not interested in managing people, but will accept the promotion for the title, status, or salary increase. Once in that position, we find they under-perform compared to their previous roles. These managers still want to focus on the technical side of their role, and disregard their human resource requirements. Managers like this will cause your talented employees to look elsewhere. Most people quit their boss, not the company. When considering the promotion of someone, companies need to stop prioritizing tenure ahead of talent. People should never deserve a promotion, they should earn it. Great companies will be able to identify which individuals will flourish within specific roles.

Each of us has experienced good and bad managers. Fortunately, we can learn from both. The bad managers exhibit indecisiveness, negative attitudes, and poor business habits. These failures provide us with invaluable experience. If you take a look back along your career, your best managers will be easy to identify. These are the people you still retain contact with, even after years of having worked together. You still bounce ideas, ask advice from, and network with them. They likely have become friends with you. The main difference between the good and bad, is that the good managers actually cared about you and the rest of their team. This is what separates managers from leaders. Leaders care about the individuals on their team, and understand what uniquely motivates each person. Leaders never ask their reports to do things they would not do themselves, or haven't done themselves. Leaders are interested in the personal development of their team members, and do not avoid the career development plans or mentoring responsibilities. Leaders want each member on their team to succeed within their current role, as well as their future roles. Leaders do not hold down superstars.

Take this moment to evaluate yourself as a leader, with one simple question. Would your team follow you anywhere you go, or will they cheer the day they quit working for you? Hopefully the answer is a positive one. If not, hope is not lost. This is something you can improve upon. Start today.