Winner's DON'T Necessarily Want the Ball


In sports, you often hear the old axiom that winners want the ball. I heard it growing up playing a myriad of sports and even as a college athlete. It becomes ingrained in our psyche as athletes and competitors. We witnessed it during March Madness when Notre Dame’s Arike Ogunbowale hit a buzzer beater to give the Irish the Women’s’ National Championship. She wanted the ball and the chance to win it, right? Not really. She wasn’t the one who was supposed to get the ball, but her teammate was covered so she ended up with the ball and made the shot.

I believe that winners don’t necessarily want the ball. They want the ball in the right person’s hand at the right time. That isn’t always themselves. I believe that great leaders can (and often should) take a step back and let a team member take the winning shot, make the winning pitch, close the winning sale, etc.

Winners elevate others. Sometimes it is up to the leader to be the one to make the crucial move for a team, company, corporation to win. But I believe it is more impactful and lasting if that leader sets up those around them to win and passes the ball at the right time to the right person.

At the end of the day - the entire team gets that championship ring (or benefits from closing the deal).

I Don’t Believe in Blogs - Do This Instead!

I don’t believe in blogs. There - I said it. A blog is a segment of content marketing that is overvalued. Before you fly off the handle and blast me in the comments section, let me clarify. If done properly, I think blogs have their place. I think they are a great way to get your point across and further thought leadership. Remember - if done properly.

Here is a different approach to your thought leadership. DON’T WRITE BLOGS… write op-ed (or byline) pieces that you or your PR firm can pitch to the media instead. For example, if you own Nala Chewing Gum Company and have 10,000 followers/fans on social media and a blog readership of 1,000 people, your small biz isn’t doing too shabby. You are also limiting yourself to about 1,000 people reading your thought leadership pieces.

Why limit yourself? Shoot higher!

If your gum company can pitch a timely op-ed that is carried by AdAge (readership of 2,650,000) or even American Dental Association (readership of 1,000,000), you have automatically extended your brand well outside of what your blog can get you.

Another thing to keep in mind is that your op-ed can often get your company spokesperson an on-air opportunity as well (which can be turned into a piece which you can use on your website and social media pages). Thus turning your thought leadership into something that can reach far beyond your original distribution list.

Three key things to consider as you are crafting your op-ed:

1) Make sure it is timely. A piece that can reflect on current events and/or topics that your targeted reporter covers have a much better chance to be picked up.

2) Keep it tight. If you write a novel, you won’t be picked up. Keep in mind that editors have column inch restrictions. Keep your word count around 600-800.

3) Stay on-brand. In my gum company example, having a piece about hurricanes or DACA isn’t on-brand for you. You need to use your thought leadership space to talk about topics that are relevant to your customers and your company, but it also needs to build trust and extend your brand.

The beauty of the op-ed/byline approach is simple. The piece will never go to waste. If you pitch your awesome and timely article and not a single publication/site picks it up, it will not be lost and a waste of time. That article now becomes a blog or newsletter piece that you can still share to your followers and fans and then you can move on to your next op-ed/byline.

By thinking of your thought leadership as a media piece first, blog last - you have a much better chance of breaking past your 1,000 readers and growing your brand at the pace it deserves.

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One Simple Trick to Win Business, the Interview and Friends…. the Pause.

In 1937, Dale Carnegie wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People. The book was read by executives and everyone trying to move up in their job or life. The masterpiece contained 291 pages of groundbreaking techniques that are still used to this day. 


Unfortunately, I’m one who jokes that I like the movie better than the book - two hours, no reading. Nothing against Carnegie and his amazing work, but here is a simple technique that you can use to win friends, influence people, win business and nail that interview without opening a book. Pause. That is it, just pause and take a breath.

As a professional that trains executives to put their best foot forward when they speak to the media or in front of their board of directors, I can tell you that this technique is lost on many people. Think about it. We have all watched that TV interview where the anchor rattles off a fast and multi-pronged question to the guest and the person in the hot seat quickly spouts out the first thing that pops into their head. Nine times out of ten, it is either an “umm” or a “well” and then something off topic and it takes them a while to come back on point. President Obama was a master at this. He would be asked a question and ponder it for a moment before coming up with the best words and answer possible.


If the person being interviewed would just pause for a second and take a breath, they would be much better prepared. It is amazing what can be done in a brief moment. Usain Bolt can travel nearly 13 meters in one second. Your brain can accomplish a lot in that one second. It can gather thoughts, prepare a better answer and get a point across in a more concise way. It also ensures that you won’t try to match or imitate the interviewer's pace or volume, but use your own voice at your own pace.

This works in the boardroom as well. Too often we just start spewing data and jump to our overly manicured powerpoint following the phrase - “let’s get started!” Take a breath while reading the room and gather your thoughts. You are able to choose your words more carefully and set yourself up for success. The same is true in social situations. If you are asked a question at a networking event or even your kid's tee ball game, take a second to gather your thoughts before you respond. You will be amazed how you can get more out of a conversation and steer it in a way that is advantageous for you.  

In your head, that second may seem like a lifetime. Trust me, it isn’t. Your audience, whoever that may be, won’t even notice. So from now on, do yourself a favor………. breathe.

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The Microwave Ruined Our Expectations


30 seconds and my food goes from ice cold to the perfect temperature. That is commonplace now, but 25 years ago, that was a pipedream and we knew it took a solid 45 minutes to get my meatloaf and tator tots to the table and in my belly.

Our expectations of everything have increased at an alarming rate as well. We want the heat in our car (especially us midwesterners) to be at a perfect 70 degrees in a matter of seconds during the negative windchill winter weather. We publish an article or musing on social networks and feel like a failure if it hasn’t gone viral in a matter of minutes. We expect immediate success in all that we do.

I’m not saying that immediate success isn’t something to hope or strive for - but when we expect it for everything...all the time, then there is a firm disconnect with reality. Success involves sweat equity. It takes time and proper planning. Sometimes it takes sleepless nights and caffeinated days. But the payoff is worth it.

We all know the failures that many famous people went through before they hit it big (we’ve read the “successories” our moms have shared with us). From Abraham Lincoln losing elections to Thomas Edison going through thousands of tests before he finally came to the right formula for the light bulb, it took time, frustration, and failure before they hit success.

So while we hope for immediate success, we need to pause and look at that light bulb glowing in our microwave as we heat our hot pocket and realize that a lot of time and work went into making it all happen. We need to adjust our expectations because dreams don’t come true in seconds or even minutes. They take hard work, but when they do become a success - they are even more delicious.

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The Escalator is Actually a Fun Ride


We’ve all been behind those people on the escalator. You anxiously get off the train or quickly want to hurry to the next floor of the store and there you are - stuck behind someone who isn’t walking up the escalator. This used to bother me. Bother isn’t even the word - it would make my blood boil. Why aren’t you walking up? This is meant to speed the process up and yet, people on the stairs are passing you as you wait behind Mr./Ms. Standing Person. I used to go on rants on social media screaming in all caps - THE ESCALATOR IS NOT A RIDE!

Today, as I went to get on the escalator and was stuck behind a full line of people standing - I realized. This is a ride… a fun ride that is breaking up the monotony of my commute. Why not enjoy it. Why not take those 15 seconds to stop and smell the roses. Why shouldn’t we use those brief moments and take a deep breath and enjoy the little things? Riding an escalator doesn’t cost you a dime. It is a break from the world to let someone (in this case - something) help you out. We don’t have that opportunity very often in life and maybe we should look for them. Instead of doing everything on our own (and often times half-assed because we are overwhelmed with a billion projects and tasks), why not rely on others to help out? Have a colleague proof that article. Have a friend pick up the phone and make that call to a contact on your behalf. Why not have your kids set the table today, or do the dishes? Why not get that CRM software that can increase efficiency in your business instead of trying to force everything into a spreadsheet?

We often hurry through things because we have to move on to the next task. There are people and processes all around us that can make our life easier if we let them. It isn’t giving up or taking the easy road, it is working smarter - not harder. So go ahead - step on to that escalator and have a fun ride.

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