Lessons from Mom and Dad

Dad Maggie Steve Mom

September 24, 2011

“Your life can be a stepping stone for your children to do greater things or it can be a stumbling block that causes them to struggle and live in mediocrity.” –Joel Osteen

We all have a mom and dad. Some of us are even fortunate enough to feel proud of them. If you fall into that category, do you think of your parents as leaders?

My friend, Lowell Nerenberg – an executive leadership coach in the DC area – blogged about the notion (fact, really) that we’re never not leading. This is especially apparent with parents. Many of us look up to our parents, learn about life from them and … perhaps even spend a lifetime seeking their approval. Entering my 41st year as Marvin and Sharyn Dorfman’s son, I’m especially conscious of the multitude of positive examples my parents have set for me, my brother Rich, sister Jodi and countless others who’ve been fortunate enough to know them through the years.

It’s easy – especially when it comes to immediate family – to find and focus on what’s “broken,” wrong, or that which simply drives us crazy. However, [Read more…]

Why do you do what you do?

He was coaching me and he didn’t even know it!

I thought he was the hired photographer but…

At the end of my seminar for a trade association last September, the guy who’d been taking photos all morning came over and introduced himself as Hersch Wellman. He said he was the region’s past president and wondered if I’d be willing to come and speak for its larger Eastern Zone meeting a few months later.

Toward the conclusion of our in-depth and engaging 30-minute chat, Hersch asked me a question I’d never heard posed quite this way. He asked, “So, what do you want people to get from your talks? What’s the message you’re hoping to impart?” In other words, “Why are you doing this?”

Seeing as the talk he’d just heard was on Leveraging Social Media for Business and I speak mainly on the topics of customer service, sales and leadership, I asked him to clarify which topic he was referring to. “All of them,” he replied. “What’s your ‘message’? What do you want people to get out of what you’re doing? … Do you need some time to think about it?”

By the time he was done asking, the answer hit me like a ton of bricks. [Read more…]

What was I thinking?

What are you allowing in?

Do you have thoughts … or do your thoughts have you?

I invite you to consider what you are currently filling your head with; allowing in. Is it useless morning deejay chatter; shock-jock banter; political chitchat; water-cooler gossip; sports updates; constantly negative news; death metal? (That’s a type of music, by the way.)

Consider the types of thoughts that are conjured up as a result of allowing these types of things into your head — are those thoughts useful; powerful; inspiring; joyful?

What was I thinking?

Thoughts drive results

We experience 60,000 thoughts a day — more than having thoughts, it often seems that our thoughts have us. These thoughts are a direct result of what we are allowing in.

Aren’t we all looking for results?
Results <—– Actions
Actions <—– Decisions
Decisions <—– Thoughts

Results are a product of your actions … actions are the product of your decisions … and thoughts are what drive your decisions.

So isn’t it safe to say that your thoughts are ultimately driving your results?

Be selective about what you are allowing in.

You are either growing or you’re dying. Some of the healthiest and wealthiest seasoned professionals will tell you that their constant yearning for ongoing growth, learning and discovery is their secret to success and longevity.

As bestselling author Dan Pink says, our default setting as human beings is to be active and engaged — just look at any 2- to 4-year old. Somewhere along the way, many of us choose to unplug; tune out; go unconscious; follow, rather than lead.

SO … Let yourself experience: things that make you happy; things that inspire you; things that are new and exciting; things that promote learning and growth.
…and then pay it forward — share your new knowledge — we teach what we need to learn.

U Rock! Pay it forward

We teach what we need to learn


:: What thoughts do YOU have? ::

(If you don’t see “Share Your Thoughts” below,

simply click on this article’s headline at the top)

© Copyright 2010 – Driven To Excel, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Great Photos … Taken by Us Amateurs

A “Focus” on Impeccability

8 Easy Tips for Taking Your Photos from Good to Great

Have you ever given your camera to someone, asked them to take a picture of you (and perhaps your significant other) only to watch them walk nearly a block away from you before snapping the shot? Okay, maybe a block is an exaggeration but I’ve noticed so many things we could all discover – very simple things – in order to take better shots.

Whether you’re taking photos for business use or pleasure, the following tips are designed to help you make the most of every shot.

1. Get a good zoom lens

The Magic of Zoom

Candid shots are the most admired and often complimented. Perhaps the magic lies in the innocence and authenticity. The further away you can get, the more candid your shots will be since your subjects are less likely to notice you and your camera.

Walk … don’t zoom: For non-candid shots it’s always better to get physically closer to your subject(s) than to do it artificially, via zoom. In other words, don’t walk away only to zoom in. (I see this all the time.)

What IS that?

2. Composition

Framing your shot properly means making sure it won’t look like a tree is coming out of someone’s head. Decide what subject  your main focus is upon, and then be sure you look further – above, below and beyond – to ensure there are no distractions or intrusions.

3. Don’t just smile … laugh

Don't smile ... LAUGH!

The photos that seem to get the most compliments aren’t usually the ones with the obligatory smile. It can be difficult for some people to smile without that smile looking contrived or forced. For an authentic smile that radiates joy every time, do something to make your subject laugh. Our friend Nancy likes to request that people say, “Fuzzy Pickles.” I like to make funny faces or speak in funny voices. Do whatever works for you.

4. Know when to turn off your flash

On most cameras, your flash will automatically fire when there’s not enough light. The problem is when you are trying to take a picture of something that is more than 20 feet away, since that’s about as far as your flash will reach. You end up with a well-lit foreground and darkened (or invisible) background. Be sure you know how to manually turn off your camera’s flash.

5. Use both hands (and the wrist lanyard)

Are you getting lots of blurry shots? There’s a good chance that you may be jerking the camera each time you press the button that snaps the photo. Use both hands for more stability and press slowly. Also, get into the habit of placing the [Read more…]

Have you driven into the rumble strips?

LOOK! …where you want to go >>

Look familiar? Our state highway administrations carve these rumble strips (seen on left) into the shoulders of our roads and especially in areas where we are prone to fall asleep at the wheel. So a fair assumption, from the title here, might be that I wanted to write about the business metaphor for … falling asleep at the wheel. Nope. Good guess, though. 😉

Elaine has been cutting my hair for many years and we usually talk about what’s new. Well, her youngest son just started driving and I said, “Wow, I can’t even imagine how stressful that must be for a parent.” She went on to tell me how — to her amazement and wonder — her son (wide awake) recently drifted over into the rumble strips. She just shook her head after sharing this with me, so I asked if I could share a coaching tip…

“Tell your son: LOOK! …where you want to go,” I said. It’s that simple — so simple, in fact, it almost seems too easy. How could it be so easy? If you ask aircraft pilots, motorcycle instructors and driving teachers, this may be the most valuable advice they could ever share. I, myself, learned this from taking a motorcycle safety course and I’ve heard this same advice from someone who has learned to fly a military jet…

Remember when you were a kid, riding along on your bicycle? Every once in a while you’d see a twig or branch on your path, right? Do you remember what would happen if you fixated on that obstacle? [Read more…]

Google’s CEO on Coaching … and Self-Perception

What you can learn in 40 seconds from Google’s CEO

A billion-dollar tip (or 2) in under a minute

My friend and colleague, Myron Radio, must feel as strongly about this 40-second video as I do — He has a link to it, at the bottom of every e-mail he sends out.

There are two related — yet very distinct — messages in this short clip from an interview with Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt. I was so inspired by both topics and really wanted to share an observation, especially since I’m wondering if most viewers will only see the obvious one. I’d love to know what you think…

The Obvious:

Eric Schmidt’s tip on hiring a coach may already be a familiar one to you. The most recent observation and parallel you could draw from coaching has to do with our Olympics. For the last 16 days, we’ve watched in awe as the world’s top athletes have endured what most of us would consider unfathomable.


These Olympians achieve such greatness in their area of expertise that there is only enough room (in the world) for a select few to even compete on their level.

So, what can a business owner, CXO, manager or salesperson learn from these elite few? You guessed it: coaching is what helped get them there and coaching is what helps keep them there. A coach can help you navigate your path to success and a coach can help you maintain your existing success. Every Olympian has reached great success and every one of them has a coach. Every single one. Shouldn’t you?

“The one thing people are never good at … is seeing themselves as others see them.” ~Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google

The Not-So Obvious:

Okay, this is the part of the video (below) that really got me excited. It’s related to the Driven To Excel tag line, “Aligning Behavior … with Mission.” At the end of this video clip, Eric Schmidt says, “The one thing people are never good at … is seeing themselves as others see them.” So true, right? If you’ve ever taken a personality test, you know exactly what he’s talking about. At a recent leadership meeting, our facilitator took us through an interactive exercise involving the four personality types. What was most fascinating to me was that the group’s perception of each individual was usually completely different from that of the individual. In other words, you could think (perceive) that your dominant personality trait is influence while everyone around you sees (perceives) it as dominance — two distinctly different personality types. And perception is reality…

The same holds true for your organization. How are you (your organization; team) showing up for others? If you saw this ad (left) in the paper, what would you “make true” about the “county?” They’re spending $250k! … to advertise … A LACK OF FUNDS?!?

Just today, I was visiting the web site of a marketing company … a marketing company. The site consists of one single page of (boring, me-centric) text (not one single picture) and the founder’s personal email address at the bottom. What would you “make true” about this company? Obviously, the founder doesn’t see herself (her company) the way others might. She’s simply unaware of how she’s showing up in the world. Maslow might classify this as unconscious incompetence. She doesn’t know … what she doesn’t know. I’m sure I’m guilty of this from time to time … aren’t we all?

I see it every day; everywhere I turn. A self-proclaimed “seafood restaurant” serving frozen fish, an Architect’s flimsy-thin business card, an Editor with misspellings and grammar faux pas on his brochures, a financial planner driving a Yugo, a depressed-looking comedian, a real estate agent … well, you get the idea.

While these might be the examples of obvious and blatant misalignment, the more subtle ones are all around us too. And all of these things are gathered as evidence, both consciously and unconsciously, by onlookers. QUESTION: Based on the “evidence,” what are your potential clients “making true” about you?

Maybe it’s time for an assessment. Maybe it’s time to consult with the CIO (Chief Impeccability Officer)

Embedded video from CNN Video

© Copyright 2010 – Present – Driven To Excel, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Go-Givers Sell More

Everything You Learned About Sales Is Backwards

[Guest Post by: Bob Burg and John David Mann, coauthors of Go-Givers Sell More*]

“I’m no good at selling!” Have you ever heard someone say that? Or maybe said it yourself? (Now, tell the truth.)

We hear it all the time. Everyone who is not in sales thinks, “I could never sell” — and most people who are in sales secretly think the same thing.

Go Givers Sell MoreThere is a reason people feel this way: most of us look at sales backwards. Backwards how? In the most fundamental ways.

For example.

They see sales as convincing people to do something they don’t want to do. It’s not: it is about learning what people do want to do and then helping them do that.

They think sales is about taking advantage of others. Not so: in fact, it’s about giving others more advantage.

Most people think of sales as a talking business. Nope: it’s really a listening business.

Classic sales training focuses on the “close.” The true sales greats hardly notice the close — they are too busy focusing on the open.

But the biggest inversion of all, the great upside-down misconception about sales, is that it is an effort to get other people to do something. Ask most anyone to define sales and you will hear some variation of this: “Sales is getting people to buy something.”

The truth about sales is that it isn’t about getting at all. Sales at its best, at its most effective, is precisely the opposite: it is about [Read more…]

It’s All About Me!

With all the “me,” where’s the “we” and the “you?”

“…but enough about me, lets talk about you…what do you think about me?”

The share of adult Internet users who have a profile on an online social network site has more than quadrupled in the past four years — from 8% in 2005 to 35% in 2008*

Have you noticed? Social media is blowing up these days and I believe one of the biggest reasons for that, is that [Read more…]

r u “There” ?

How “Human” is Your Customer/Client “Experience?”

4 Tips to Recapturing Some of the Good Ol’ Days

The mother of a 13-year-old told me a very interesting story. After she encouraged him to do so, her son wrote a thank-you card to his grandmother in response to a recent gift he’d received … he wrote it with pen and paper in text language!

“Tx grnma 4 the awesome new fone. Mus’ve cost u alotta $$. U rock!”

According to Nielsen*, “During the second quarter of 2008, a typical U.S. mobile subscriber placed or received 204 phone calls each month. In comparison, the average mobile customer sent or received 357 text messages per month.”

Did you know that we experience 1/20th the number of human interactions today, as compared to just 20 years ago? Put another way, Baby Boomers grew up with 20 times more human interactions than Generation Y (approximate current ages 9 to 29).

While this is certainly startling, it’s also clear as to why it’s so true. Often, when I hear a Baby Boomer say, “These kids today!” what I’m hearing is a frustration around a “disconnect” that they’re feeling.

How is it possible that we only have a twentieth of what we had just 20 years ago, with regard to human interaction? [Read more…]

We Felt Like We Were Interrupting Her Personal Life

How Professional is Your Organization? (4 Tips for Being Regarded as a True Professional)

Meet The Parents, Universal Studios and DreamWorks

Meet The Parents, Universal Studios and DreamWorks (CLICK to WATCH (1:41))

We stood there, dumbfounded…
Recently, while attempting to make an airline connection in Brazil, my girlfriend (Maggie) and I took our paper tickets to the counter to get our seat assignments. As we approached the desk, the clerk, “Mariana” had her head down and was carrying on about her weekend to the person on the other end of the phone. When she finally looked up, we were greeted with a half-smile (no words – she still had the phone held against her ear). For the next 31 minutes (we timed it), Mariana continued with her personal phone conversation and occasionally pecked at the computer keyboard, never really telling us what she was doing. Maggie and I just kept looking at each other, as if to say, “I can’t believe this is actually happening.” We felt like we were interrupting her personal life.

You might be thinking, “But Steve, why would you put up with such behavior for 31 minutes? Why didn’t you say something?” [Read more…]