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Tag Archives: Leadership
Life Leadership and Orrin Woodward
I don’t know if you’re like me, but as a kid growing up I was mesmerized with The Guinness Book of World Records. The whole concept of setting a “World Record” was fascinating, and so were those women with the really long nails or that guy who was eleven foot tall. I remember laughing at all the obscure records and categories, and wondered who would be crazy enough to do most of those things.
Then a friend of mine (who shall, for the time being, remain anonymous. Let’s just call him some guy (spelled Sum Gui)) suggested that for a promotional idea for the release of Orrin Woodward‘s new book, And Justice for All: The Quest for Concord, that he (Orrin, not Sum Gui) should break the record for the number of books signed in one sitting. As soon as he made the recommendation, all my childhood memories of looking through friends’ Guinness books came flooding back to me. My initial reaction was, “Is that stuff real?” But then, having lived a few years here and there, I realized that, of course, it was real, and quickly deduced that there must be a real company somewhere that kept track of these things and made sure they were “official.”
Realizing that Sum Gui had come up with a really good idea, we quickly found out that the previous record was held by a guy (different guy from Sum Gui) named Sammy Lee from China, who signed 4,649 books in January of 2013. We also learned that, yes, in fact, Guinness had a process for all this, and you could get the services of their “adjudicator” to bless the proceedings and declare them official (assuming that you did, in fact, set a new record).
All it would take was thousands of people, a book to sign, and a signer willing to subject himself to the grueling marathon of signing book after book for hours on end.
Orrin Woodward would be perfect!
All we’d have to do is make sure he felt sufficiently challenged, and then, as everyone who knows him knows, there would be no way he would quit until victorious. So we promptly told him about our idea, that it would be a fun way to launch his new book, and that we were quite sure he could never do it (this works in basketball, too, if you ever happen to play against him. Just trash talk him a bit and you’re toast). So voila! We had ourselves an “Official Guinness Record Attempt!”
And would you believe it? Orrin broke the record without taking even one of his allotted five minute breaks, and he did it in less than half the time of the previous record holder! But that wasn’t the end. Orrin continued on until he had not only broken the record, but shattered it! The final official count was 6,786 books!
Now, if I could only think of some kind of record to break . . . maybe I’ll start growing my nails . . . .
Your Life is Your Business
John Wooden, record-setting coach of the UCLA basketball team and one of the most successful coaches in any sport, wrote, “Activity – to produce real results – must be organized and executed meticulously. Otherwise, it’s no different from children running around the playground at recess. Time, used correctly, is among your most potent assets. For many leaders, however, it seems otherwise. The months, weeks, and minutes are ill defined and almost intangible in their minds, evaporating without leaving a trace of achievement behind. In the mind of those leaders whose organizations get things done, time is tangible, a commodity as touchable as gold. The success of my leadership was directly linked to using time wisely. Respect time, and it will respect you.”
This is personal management of the highest magnitude. Note that any consideration of personal management necessarily involves a focus on what you are doing with your time. But it also involves other aspects, such as how you think, the management of your attitude, and your overall hunger to accomplish your purpose.
There are a few practical things to seek out in order to maintain the highest level of personal management, and thereby keep yourself fully locked into productive life habits:
- Informational Reinforcement – to stay sharp and continue learning and growing, one needs to be plugged into a source of information pertaining to the craft at hand. Read all you can about your pursuit. Listen to audio recordings as well. Peruse trade magazines and familiarize yourself with any and all websites of authority pertaining to your field. Find out if there are events or symposiums, concerts or competitions that you can attend and use as educational experiences. Gathering and digesting all the information you can get your hands on for your particular area of chosen mastery will keep you fresh and be a shortcut forward in your development.
- Relational Reinforcement – There is an old joke that goes like this: “Two idiots and one genius go into a room together. After a period of time, out come three idiots.” Beyond being funny, it clearly demonstrates the power of association with others. Choose your associations wisely (as the wrong ones can be incredibly wrong). Make sure you are hanging around with people who are experts in the endeavor you are pursuing. Find yourself a Mr. Miyagi and wash the heck out of his car, sand his floors until they shine, and paint his fence like Tom Sawyer’s friends. The reinforcement you get from mentors and experts in your field will quiet the voices of dissent around you who don’t understand what you’re doing or why.
- Self-Talk – in one of the odder techniques available, many of the top masters in their fields long ago had to learn to stop listening to themselves and instead begin talking to themselves. This is because our minds are quickly capable of “going negative” on us, and, believe it or not, our own words to ourselves are very powerful. For this reason, practice the art of positive self-talk. This can be done through affirmation statements and memorized phrases of encouragement (Bible verses are also good for this) to keep yourself focused and provide a quick re-centering when your wheels begin to wobble.
In 1923 a member of the board of directors for Lloyd’s Bank in London asked a literary expert at a party: “You may know of one of our employees who is, I understand, a poet. Mr. Eliot.”
To which the reply was given: “Indeed I do. He is a very remarkable poet.”
“I am glad to hear it. He is also most proficient in banking. Indeed, I don’t mind telling you that, if he goes on in his present way, he will one day be a senior bank manager!”
Thankfully for fans of literature the world over, T.S. Eliot didn’t settle merely for what he could become, but instead pressed forward to what he should become.
We have discussed the elements of meaning and scandal as they relate to leaving a legacy. These two opposite poles should be ever present in our minds as we live out our lives. We should strive to matter as much as we possibly can, and guard ourselves against the inevitable temptations that would come along and cheapen our accomplishments. But leaving a legacy is much more complex and multi-faceted than all of that. There are other elements that must be part of the mix. Primary among these is originality. There are many things we can do, but probably only one that we were born to do.
Your Personal Brand
It happened to you and it’s uniquely yours. No one else has your story. No one else has your particular mixture of experience and ability. Not only did God make you unique in all your parts, but also the life he lets you live is just as uniquely yours. Nobody else experiences the world in exactly the same way as you. These concepts are important to understand, because they form the basis of your personal brand.
What is a personal brand?
A personal brand is whatever you do or bring to the world that is entirely and uniquely yours. Perhaps surprisingly, the more you stick to what is uniquely yours and the more authentic you are in what you do, the more interesting it is to others and the more marketable it is.
Allow me to give an example.
My wife Terri Brady is a very interesting person with a compelling personal brand. Beyond all the foundational things that attracted me to her back in our college days (her love of the Lord, her values and her upbringing, her beauty, her courage, her playfulness, her native intelligence, her musical gifts, and above all, her undeniable wisdom in choosing me!), she has lived an incredibly interesting and inspiring life. Her list of brand experiences include prolonged infertility, surviving a life threatening brain tumor, engineering degree and work experience, home schooling four children, a consistent record of physical fitness, mastery of multiple musical instruments, dedication to serving in the name of Christ, leading and mentoring many other women, high level entrepreneurship and business ownership, fabulous public speaking to audiences around the world, a very popular blog, not to mention being married to a rascal like me!
In addition to these unique experiences, many of which were beyond her control, the way in which she carried herself through them is even more impressive. The trials came without complaint, and the victories came without conceit. If you wrap all these things together you’ve got one incredible woman with a lot to share. All of these pieces together comprise Terri’s personal brand. They make her interesting. They give weight to what she teaches. They give power to what she says.
Now, what would happen if Terri tried to teach people about scuba diving? Or produce a product focused on fashion? It wouldn’t work. It’s simply not her. It doesn’t fit her brand, and people would sense it subconsciously, rejecting it as false or insincere.
The purpose of this example (beyond a shameless ploy to get points with my wife) is to demonstrate that who we are at the core, in the most authentic version of ourselves, is what we should focus on bringing to the world. When you do precisely that, you will be the most fulfilled. It’s when you are doing exactly what you were built to do with the specific gifts God gave you that you feel the most alive. Any time you stray away from this reality you feel less yourself, less alive, less real. Further, though, it is when you strike this authentic chord that the world takes notice. People only want the best you have to offer, nothing less.
The Margaritaville Concept
Jimmy Buffett is an overwhelmingly successful musician and entertainer. He has attracted a following of fanatical fans who dress up in crazy costumes and follow him around on concert tours. He has sold millions and millions of dollars worth of music and books. He has a string of successful restaurants and a clothing line. He even has a channel on satellite radio! Over the course of more than four decades,
Jimmy Buffett has assembled a massive entertainment empire. And really, when it gets right down to it, he did it all with just one song.
If you listen to Buffett’s early music, you will notice that it doesn’t really match his brand. Most of the songs are serious, the topics are ordinary, and it’s obvious that in those early days he hadn’t really struck the chord of his true authentic gift, of his personal brand that would someday delight millions. Brent Webster, a musician friend from Buffett’s very early days, said about how badly Buffett wanted to break into the music scene: “The impression was, he was trying too hard. His exuberance preceded him.”
Twenty-six record companies rejected Buffett. Capitol Records executive Joe Allison said of Buffett in those days, “He pitched some stuff to me, but it wasn’t anything I could ever use. His stuff is so off the wall it’s hard to think of somebody else doing it. He didn’t write like everybody else, he was really different.”
As soon as Buffett released the song Margaritaville (originally to be titled Wastin’ Away Again in Margaritaville, but changed by Buffett at the last minute), he had found his authentic swing – an escapism genre that whisked people away from their cold, boring lives and put them in the warm tropical sun. According to Steve Eng, “Jimmy’s deepening commitment to Caribbean imagery was at once separating him from mere country-rock and from new-hippie folkpop. By the mid-Seventies, Jimmy was setting, not following, a musical trend.” The song Margaritaville would win the 1977 BMI pop award, the 1978 country award, and the “Three Million Air Award” for that number of radio plays that year. All of this was pretty impressive, but it was only the beginning. The most important part was that Buffett had not only struck upon his true, original gift, but he quickly recognized it. Ever since, with each and every album, song, book, restaurant, and clothing line, Buffett has exploited this very original personal brand.
The image we get here is of an ambitious young musician working hard to make it, searching for his particular and unique personal brand, and then gradually combining all the elements of his life interests into his music. Eng wrote, “Jimmy claims that the Florida Keys theme of his albums wasn’t planned, it just evolved naturally.” It may have evolved, but once it did, and he discovered this original niche, he built upon it relentlessly.
Imagine going to a Jimmy Buffett concert. You take in the enthusiastic crowd; you sing along with some of the songs, you feel relaxed and happy as you too escape to the islands for a few fun figurative moments. But what would happen if Buffett finished up his concert and failed to play the song Margaritaville? You would not only feel disappointed, you’d feel cheated. Buffett has to perform that song at every concert because it is the classic embodiment of his personal brand, and Buffett, being the consummate entertainer and crowd pleaser, knows this better than anyone.
This principle applies everywhere. How disappointed would people be if Stephen King came out with a marriage book? Or if Dave Barry released a serious novel? Or if Michael Jordan left basketball to play, I don’t know, let’s say baseball? These people, and every successful person in every walk of life, have succeeded by finding their true authentic gift and then giving it over and over again with gusto.
Which brings us back to you.
What is (or could be) your unique brand?
What are your particular foundational gifts?
What are your unique experiences?
How have you grown as a result, and what can you give out of it?
What innate talents has God given you that are yours?
What makes you feel the most alive?
What makes you feel the most fulfilled?
What things do you do that seem to bring the most accolades from people?
What could be your Margaritaville?
The key is to know yourself, to know what you have. You may not be able to answer these questions just yet, and as was true for the entertainers we have considered in this chapter, it might take years for you to discover. But I guarantee that if you answer these questions and package all of this together, you will be at least heading in the right direction. Knowing that you should be looking to discover this idea about yourself is a great starting point.
Whether this means you will write books, blog, create music, speak on stages, preach, start a company, paint, organize something, play sports, become a surgeon, lead a charity, invent a new technology, or whatever, if you line things up to be a product of who you are and what you uniquely can contribute, you will succeed. You may not be a musician, but you’ve got your own, original figurative song to sing. You may not do what you do in the public eye, but you still have a personal brand to be discovered and built upon. I truly believe that everyone has his own Margaritaville waiting to be discovered. By this, I mean that you will find meaning and fulfillment in contributing something that only you can contribute.
Don’t live anyone else’s life for even a minute. Live yours. It’s unique. Find your Margaritaville and then sing it with all you’ve got until you can’t sing anymore. Glenn Kelman, CEO of Redfin, said, “. . . what this spun-out, overhyped world is absolutely famished for is a little genuine personality.”
I promise, there will be fans cheering for your authentic output. There will always be a market for your original best.
LIFE Leadership Makes a Difference
People approach me all the time with “great” ideas about products we at the LIFE Leadership company “ought” to carry in our portfolio. These ideas range from the good to the downright wacky. However, none of them need be analyzed on their own merits because none of them fit the key criteria for being offered by LIFE Leadership.
Because they are not information products.
You see, as Orrin Woodward says, LIFE Leadership is about information, plain and simple. We lead people to truth through a large community of people dedicating to selling life-changing information. This information has saved marriages, improved familial relationships, brought hope, fixed finances, and a host of other meaningful accomplishments in the lives of people.
This is the first most important reason we at the LIFE Leadership company are in the information only business: to make a difference. None of us is interested in hawking products, foisting commodities into the marketplace, etc. We are simply not interested in leveraging our personal reputations for products that aren’t primary in improving lives in a deeply meaningful and lasting way. Period.
LIFE Leadership Can’t Be Commoditized
Almost any product quickly becomes commoditized. What do I mean by this? Simply that any widget, physical product, conventional item, will soon be copied by the competition and improved to the point where what was once at the head of the class is quickly sent to the mid-pack. However, when producing and representing such products to the marketplace, those who well them are forced to push them even though they have slipped from their leadership position and may no longer be the best. Instead, what was once a leader becomes a mere commodity.
This doesn’t happen with the information LIFE Leadership provides and sells. This is because our content creators cannot be commoditized. There will never be another Orrin Woodward, and we have the only one. Further, not only is his teaching style (and all the other content-creators in our bullpen) unique, it is also improving. As Orrin (and our other leaders) continue to grow, learn, and improve, their teaching gets better and better, remaining the whole time, however, as unique and special as ever. In essence, it can’t be commoditized. So while LIFE Leadership is committed to developing information products that truly change lives in positive and lasting ways, it also by default does so in a way that can’t be commoditized. This means that all the LIFE Members out there who sell our information products never have to worry about representing something that has become commoditized and has fallen from its position of uniqueness in the marketplace.
LIFE Leadership Leads in value while maximizing a pay plan
Finally, the third key reason LIFE Leadership is firmly ensconced in the life changing information product category, is because information products have an enormous margin between the selling price and the cost of manufacture. In essence, information can be “produced” into a format such as CD, DVD, video stream, live web broadcast, download, or whatever, in a very economical fashion, with very little “cost of goods sold.” This means that we can both offer our products for a very low price in the marketplace (which we strive mightily to do and are very proud of our low pricing strategy), AND put a nice margin of money into the pay plan to reward the LIFE Members in the field who are selling our products (which includes ourselves, by the way). In this way, LIFE Leadership currently pays out a little over 70% of gross PV (point value) revenue back into the field – meaning we run the cost of production, administration, customer service, legal representation, overhead, etc. all under 30%. This payout plan is an industry leader and is extremely attractive to people looking to make some money in a business of their own. Also, at any level of involvement as a LIFE Member, the sale of any product produces an immediate 25% sales margin that goes directly to the person who did the selling as profit.
For these three reasons, LIFE Leadership is proud to being in the information business. And I hope this particular information has been helpful!!
I was only a few years out of grad school and a year into my marriage when I got into business with co-worker Orrin Woodward. From the very beginning of our entrepreneurial adventure together Orrin was enthusiastic about getting personal improvement information into my hands. He began with the book Magic of Thinking Big by Dr. David Schwartz and followed that up with a constant barrage of audio recordings and additional books. I couldn’t have known it at the time, but this was the beginning of my real education; a self-directed learning hunger that would carry me for the next two decades. In fact, nearly everything I’ve been blessed to accomplish in that time is in some way due to the learning and growth engendered by the habit of ongoing learning inspired by those first exposures to personal development information. Thank you Orrin!
The LIFE business is now one month old. It exists to bring the exact kind of information that was so critical in my own formation into the hands of others. It follows a program whereby busy adults in the modern world can learn and grow and change in the most low-drag, friction-free manner. While much of what exists out there in the training world involves expensive conferences, a “drinking through a fire hose” approach, and a massive strain on budgets (and usually culminates in the employee heading back to work with a thick binder under her arm that, at best, will end up in the credenza of her desk), the LIFE learning programs operate on the principle of “a little-at-a-time,” thereby respecting the busy schedules and distracted lives most of us lead. Additionally, though, we also know that for true change to take place (and to last), it must be reinforced over time. Baby steps of improvement taken consistently over time are the secret to massive advancement in station – not expensive one-time deluges.
LIFE is in the business of producing life-changing information, and we know it works because it first worked for us!
Revolutionize your life! Take the leadership challenge! Plug into a positive source of information and be prepared to be amazed at the changes you see in yourself and your results in LIFE.
Welcome to the LIFE you’ve always wanted!
The LIFE business launched with the purpose of providing world-class leadership materials to business executives, entrepreneurs, corporate climbers, pastors, church leaders, administrators, community service leaders, public servants, teachers, parents, and anybody who will find themselves in a position to lead. My friend and co-author Orrin Woodward (one of the world’s Top 25 leadership gurus) recently said, “When it gets right down to it, leadership is for everyone. Nobody will be able to make their way through life without needing the draw upon the toolbox of leadership.” Sadly, many people lack these tools and therefore get to live with the consequences of being ill-equipped. These consequences include missed opportunities, unfulfilled career aspirations, financial woes, and broken relationships.
Although leadership is for everyone, not everyone will equip themselves. Therefore, it may be helpful to consider a list of people for which the LIFE materials don’t apply. LIFE leadership training materials are NOT for those who:
1. Refuse to take 100% personal responsibility for their results in life.
2. Would rather fix blame than fix problems.
3. Want an easy, comfortable life without having to earn it.
4. Already know everything and are therefore unteachable.
5. Have character issues they refuse to address.
People who fit these descriptions need not apply. Again, to quote Orrin Woodward, “LIFE is for those who earnestly seek a better life, are interested in the strenuous process of personal growth, are driven to succeed in significant ways, and are committed to a life of excellence for a higher purpose.”
Mediocrity is for the many.
Leadership is for the few.
Everyone will be called upon to lead – few will be ready.
LIFE is for those few.