Archive for the ‘Leadership Articles’ Category

I believe that being productive leads to happiness. The most productive people in the world are also the most happy. Our happiness often manifests when we meet our internal desire to make a difference in someone’s life or the world.

The last few weeks I have been documenting ways that I can make it a highly productive day.

  1. Believe in myself and my abilities
  2. Read inspirational books before I go to bed. Books that guide my dreams, goals, and actions for the next day
  3. Avoid negative people
  4. Never make excuses
  5. Make a decision today to change my life for the better, everyday
  6. Surround myself with motivation through books, mentors, quotes, pictures, audio, positive people, exercise and motivations
  7. Be a role model
  8. Take action
  9. Learn my lessons fast – and move on
  10. Forgive myself
  11. Learn to forgive others
  12. Be grateful for what I have
  13. Read my goals
  14. Get plenty of quality sleep
  15. Give someone a helping hand
  16. Listen to my wife and kids laugh
  17. Make my wife and kids laugh
  18. Eat healthy foods
  19. Smile
  20. Exercise
  21. Breath deep
  22. Drink plenty of fresh, clean LeBleu water
  23. Take time out for my wife, kids and friends
  24. Stretch
  25. Over deliver on my promises – do 10% more than expected
  26. Relax
  27. Don’t take life too seriously
  28. Dance with my kids to the Jonas Brothers
  29. Never give up on my dreams or myself

If you have some ways that make your days highly productive, feel free to comment. I’d love to read them and add them to my Productive Day Library.

Until next time, Leaders develop daily…Not in a day!


Have you ever been to a meeting, presentation or event that you walked away saying to yourself “that was a total disaster”? I’m willing to bet that there was a serious lack of preparation on the part of the leaders involved in the event.

Many people believe that they can “wing it” and creates a success. The best leaders don’t buy into this and spend serious time preparing for meetings, presentations, and events. They subscribe to the philosophy that LEADERS PREPARE.

Preparation is not taught in college, graduate school or on-the-job leadership training. It is a critical dimension that is often overlooked, but never forgotten, once you see it not occur and lead to an unsuccessful event.

What does preparation look like?

Here are some tips to assist you to prepare and increase the odds that you will be viewed as a professional, organized and “buttoned up” leader.

1. When planning for a leadership role in an event, break the event into 15 or 30 minute intervals. For each interval, plan the work/discussion so the entire event planning does not overwhelm you. You eat an elephant one bite at a time and this interval approach can break that huge preparation into much more manageable pieces.
2. Keep in mind the adult attention span. Most research I have seen states that adult attention span is 45 minutes (I know, it feels like 45 seconds sometimes…). Prepare to this attention span. Don’t create 2 hour brainstorming sessions or a 4 hour conference call on one topic. You will lose people, their energy and support.
3. In your preparation, focus on the sections that will lead to success. These include goals and objectives, processes to meet the goals and objectives, tasks, time allotted, budget, resource requirements, change management plans and monitoring/validating techniques,
4. Buy a lunch and listen to a leader that is successful in leading events. Guarantee that leader prepares! Ask for tips and techniques on what they do to prepare for an event. You may learn something new to add to your preparation or validate what you are already doing. I am a huge proponent of setting aside the ego and asking successful people for their advice. No need to re-create the wheel. Just ask open ended questions and listen!!
5. Use a colleague, team member, or mentor to critique your preparation and give you feedback. Again, set your ego aside and let others “poke holes” in your preparation. You will only get better if you listen and take action on the advice. Remember it’s business, not personal.

Use these tips to be seen as a top notch, professional leader not an amateur. We all want to be involved in successful meetings, presentations, training and events. It takes the leader’s preparation to ensure this will happen.

Make it happen – spend the time preparing; consider it part of the role of a great Leader.

Until next time, Leaders develop daily – not in day.

A New Season and A New Focus

Posted: September 7, 2010 in Leadership Articles

We are coming upon a new season in 2010, Autumn. I have been reflecting on the season and the opportunity to re-focus and re-commit to some of my most important goals in my life.

Two of the most important goals, that will become daily disciplines in my life, are staying energized and healthy both mentally and physically. I have committed and built in daily rituals in my life to exercise, both mentally and physically.

I recently read some research by Gomez-Pinilla at UCLA that highlighted the importance of physical exercise, how it relates to our mental abilities and our overall performance in life.

The research suggests that exercise is vital for not only physical health but brain health. It appears you can learn 20% faster immediately after working out as opposed to sitting in a meeting. But like everything, you have to use it or lose it. As in anything worth having, consistency is critical.

Other desirable side-effects of physical exercise include:

  • Physically inactive people have 45% greater chance of developing heart disease
  • Colon cancer is approximately 40% more likely to occur in those who are inactive
  • HDL cholesterol (involved in reducing cardiovascular disease) increased an average of 4.6% with exercise
  • Epidemiological research suggests that each of us can gain 2 hours of life expectancy for each hour of vigorous physical activity
  • Women being treated for breast cancer who practice moderate exercise have 50% less recurrence and death than those inactive
  • Depressed individuals who walk 180 minutes a week experience 30% more remissions than those who don’t work out
  • People who aren’t physically active have approximately 60% greater risk of developing osteoporosis

Those are some wonderful benefits from spending 45 minutes to an hour of a day getting better physically and mentally.

A key component to my new rituals around exercise involve support and accountability from my best coach, my wife Jewell. We all need coaches, not because we are weak but because we want to remain strong.

Jewell, and I are doing P90X in the garage 3 days a week and providing time and support for each other to go to our gym the other 3 days for individual workouts. On Sundays, we take a “break” by having a good 30 minute walk or doing some physical activity with our 2 kids. We hold each other accountable for our exercise and nutrition, everyday.

The discipline of physical exercise is critical to my performance, leadership as a husband and father, and overall success. I feel more confident, more in control, energized, action oriented, decisive and accomplish more when I am consistently taking care of myself and my health.

I challenge each of us to invest in ourselves and success by using this new season to re-commit and re-focus on a goal.

Start small, get consistent to build momentum, and realize this is a process. Enjoy the process with the constant belief that you reap what you sow. You will feel and see the difference.

In my next post, I will provide some insight into my strategies around mental fitness.

Until next time, leaders develop daily – not in a day

I have recently completed Dr. John Maxwell’s latest book “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect“.  It is an outstanding leadership book. Dr. Maxwell believes “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less”and connecting with people is the key ingredient to any leader’s success.

Connecting is the ability to identify with and relate to people in such a way that increases your influence with them.  Four critical techniques I have learned from the book to more effectively connect with people are:

1. Connecting increases your influence in every situation. The successes in life come from connecting with people — No ifs, ands or buts.

2. It’s not about YOU! Connecting is all about others. It doesn’t matter if you are the leader or not, it’s about the other person. Leaders will be unsuccessful if they are insecure or arrogant because they will make it about themselves. Connecting takes getting to someone’s heart and the only way to do this is to get to that person’s soul. Find out their passions, values, failures, successes and most importantly their story. Ask questions!

3. Connecting is more than words. It’s how you say it, more than the words you use. What type of demeanor are you showing up with? Do you bring an energy and openness to that person? Is your posture open or closed? Your physical appearance, not attractiveness, makes a huge difference.

4. Connecting demands ENERGY! Connectors put a great deal of effort and energy into connecting. Connectors are tired every evening. Non-connectors look for others to bring the energy, connectors bring it — everyday!

Leadership is influence. Influence is all about connecting with others.

What can you do today to “show up” as a connector, an influencer, a Leader?

Until next time, leaders develop daily -not in a day.

Do Your “UnThinkable”

Posted: September 2, 2010 in Leadership Articles
In early August, I had the opportunity of meeting one of those people that change your life forever. I met Scott Rigsby, the first and only double-amputee using prosthetics to ever complete the prestigous Ford Ironman World Championship triathalon in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

I read Scott’s book “Unthinkable” a few months ago in preparation to meeting him at a 5K race in my hometown of Mechanicsville, Virginia. My wife and I wanted our two young children to meet a hero and champion like Scott and hear his message of faith and determiniation.

My brother’s Swim Club sponsored Scott as a speaker at the 5K event. Scott also participated in the 5K run. Just to brag on my little brother a bit – Jeff is a triathlete that recently finished in the top 15% of 2500 triathletes at the July Lake Placid Ironman. I am extremely proud of him and his commitment to his dream.

Scott Rigsby was involved in a horrific accident when he was 18 years old. He was thrown from the back of a pick-up truck and pinned under a trailer. The accident took one of his legs, mangled the other leg and left him with 3rd degree burns on his back from being dragged over 300 yards on asphalt. That summer he was preparing to go to college, meet new people and start his adult life.

Scott suffered through many years of depression, addiction and dozens of surgeries. Several years ago, Scott decided to have his other leg removed due to the infections and lack of functional use.

Scott completing the Mechanicsville Waterboy

On race day, Scott’s race group started before mine. At about mile 1.5, I saw Scott ahead of me running a hill. I stopped running. I watched Scott. I was completely inspired and amazed by this man who 4 years ago had never run a race, swam, or rode a bike more than a mile. On a daily basis, he displays courage, faith and determination to do what he was called to do – help others realize they can do their Unthinkable!

That Saturday evening, Scott spoke to 120 people at the Swim Club. My family and I listened in awe to Scott’s speech. He told the audience about his journey, his fight with prescription drug and alcohol addiction and finding his purpose in life. Scott’s speech has truly changed my life and the way I view goals and my potential. His message was focused on taking our Unthinkable goals and dreams and turning them into tomorrow’s reality. If a 38 year old man with no legs who had never competed in a triathalon could train for 6 months and finish the most difficult triathalon in the world, we can achieve our goals.

Scott believes there are 5 steps to living an Unthinkable life.
1. Have a dream. The dream cannot be about you. The dream must be something greater than you. People may think you and your dream are crazy. So what? Your dream MUST scare you out of your comfort zone.
2. Get a good support team. If your dream is so small that you can do it by yourself, then your dream is not big enough.
3. Faith releases fear. Fear is the biggest enemy to accomplishing your goals. Fear manifests through procrastination, self doubt and lack of action. Believe in yourself and your God.
4. Obstacles will come, keep your hope burning every day.
5. Cross your Finish Line. Don’t let fear stop you from reaching your Unthinkable.

Scott Rigsby & Team Tunstall

On Sunday after meeting Scott, my wife and I got two pieces of flipchart paper and wrote down our Unthinkable dreams. We then took post it notes and began writing down the actions we need to take to make our Unthinkables happen. No limitations on our goals or actions – All Out! This has provided a focus for us and Scott provided us with the belief that we can do it.

One statement Scott made has really stuck with me. He said ” The accident is not the worst thing that has happened to me. Actually, it has been my masterpiece. The worst thing that has ever happened to me was living in fear for 20 years after the accident.”

I challenge all of us to take action, to dream your Unthinkable, and to live your masterpiece.

WARNING – This blog post contains the truth about development and growth. If you are looking for the magic bullet, secret formula, quick fix or you are adverse to work, discipline and commitment – this post is not for you. This post is about the three requirements to develop and grow personally.

We have been bombarded with claims that are “over the top” and too sensational for way too long. Lose 10 pounds in a week, make a million dollars by working 4 hours a day, and other claims just are not true. Overnight successes do not happen. In order to develop and grow in our leadership, job performance, relationships and faith, we must get back to the “old school” basics.

I believe there to be the “Big 3” when it comes to succeeding in Personal Development & Growth

1. Development requires Accountability
Accountability is a foundation to achieving goals and overcoming barriers. It takes a great deal of courage, self-awareness and honesty to be accountable for the daily choices that drive action toward our goals. Most people that achieve their goals have leveraged the power of accountability whether it’s having an “accountability partner”, making goals public, asking people to hold them to their goals, or simply writing them down. The bottom line is – You are 100% responsible for your choices and actions. These choices and actions drive your goal achievement

2. Development requires Help
Achieving goals takes more than you. It’s 100% O.K. to ask for help. Help is not only for the weak but for the strong that want to remain strong. It takes the support and help of others. Enlist others in your goals by communicating the reasons this goal is so important to you. I find it surpirsing the number of quality people that will serve me in helping me reach my goals once they understand the impact. This inspires me to help others reach their goals.

3. Development requires Work
No bones about it, we have to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty when it comes to development and growth. To get something, you have to give up something. You may have to reduce your entertainment time and increase your education time. Turn the television off and get focused on you. Set small goals to read 10 pages a day on mastering your goal, make 2 extra prospecting calls a day or have lunch twice a week with someone that can teach you something.Developing and growing takes extra effort and focus and is hard but the rewards are 10 times the effort.

Developing and growing throughout our lives is hard. It can be tedious, laborious and even boring. Following the three requirements to develop and grow will help you develop a plan of action toward your new success. The bigger picture we must keep in mind is that IT’S WORTH IT!