Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Sailing with Joe's Kid

There we were, sailing along, having a great time, chatting up a storm when suddenly, the wind dropped out of our sails. Perhaps the wind changed direction, or we strayed a bit off course, but suddenly there was a dramatic loss of momentum and the sails started to flap. This flapping of sails is called “luffing” and it signals that its time to pay attention, to see what’s going on and make some adjustments. Sometimes its only a slight adjustment, other times it means changing course altogether.

As I pulled into my driveway the other day I noticed my neighbor Steve was in his garage. (His name has been changed to protect the guilty!) Steve is an interesting guy. He's got two 1940 Oldsmobiles -- a fully restored two door convertible and a completely disassembled 4 door sedan he tells me his grandfather dated his grandmother in -- and a 1960's Pontiac GTO.

Steve is always "Fabbing" something up. He can take a broken, worn out anything and rebuild and restore it to better than new. Talking to Steve is like talking to Wilson, the faceless neighbor over the fence on the 90’s television show Home Improvement. Always a fount of wisdom, always fixing something, always smoking a cigar and wearing a beat-up, greasy ball cap from the 1950's.
Even before I walk over to his place, I know Steve is working on something in the garage because all the lights in the "hood" as he calls it, dim as he fires up his welder.

Yet Steve is also the Senior VP of Supply Chain Management for a multi-billion dollar international food manufacturer and, given the stories he’s shared about work, they’re a company I think I can help.

Anyway, Steve -- who read my book when it was still in manuscript form and knows that I transform companies for a living -- starts to tell me about how he again used another quote from my book to make a point in one of his meetings.

So there I was, sailing along on a full breeze doing hull speed and feeling pretty good when BAM, in his next breath, Steve goes on to say how he really wants to bring in this other guy to help him "engage his people" in his latest innovation initiative.

"And I even bought 150 of this guy’s books for my people so they can all get on board," he says.

So, never one to be shy, I ask him, "Steve, what keeps you from asking me to come in and work with your group? You know dam well it's what I do."

He doesn't answer me, he just looks down at a piece of metal he's grinding.

Then he says, "That's a good question, Tom, you need to figure that out, don't you?"

Talk about having the wind knocked out of my sails!

Now before you think I was feeling sorry for myself, let me assure you that I wasn’t. Fortunately, I've become quite adept at seeing and benefiting from everything that's previously been invisible to me. In the past I would have felt TOTALLY dejected, but this time I immediately thought to myself "Joe's Kid!"

You see, Steve is a guy I hang out with on Saturday afternoons talking about cars and life. He, no matter how he tries, can only see me as his unshaven neighbor who wears torn jeans and holey t-shirts and complains about his lack of book sales.

To Steve, I'm not the savior consultant on a quest to go global; I'm "Joe's Kid."

Let me explain with a bit of background from my Catholic upbringing. One of the few times in the Bible where Jesus gets really pissed off is when he goes home to Nazareth. In his home town He wasn't revered as the Savior, He was just the carpenter’s son. He was just "Joe's Kid," and no one took him seriously. (He said later that “a prophet has no honor in his own country.”) Jesus got so angry that, when he was leaving town, he shook the dust off his sandals at them. In that part of the world, that's about as serious as a single digit "good by" is here.

If Jesus had listened to his neighbors he might have totally missed his destiny. But he didn't, he left town and worked miracles.

Well guys, just as Jesus left town and went on to fulfill His destiny, we are getting out of dodge by leaving port together, and, hopefully, getting out of our own heads in order to fulfill our own destiny.

My goal this year is to move from a practice to a Global Enterprise. If I listened to Steve, if I thought for just one moment that I “wasn’t good enough”, I wouldn't be able to leave the "hood" much less “go global”.

So, who, or what, is the "Steve" in your life?

And, by the way, who are you treating like "Joe's Kid?" Your spouce, kids, employees, the guy accross the street? We tend to keep people in their little box to the point where they have to leave the relationship to grow. And we miss the real brilliance that they are.

Sail on!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Parallel Synchronized Randomness

I am using my space today to share a post from a new friend, Paul Kearley. That's him on the right. I have been suggesting you read his book MUST Thinking for weeks now. I am posting his blog post today for three reasons: The first is because it so reinforces what we have been talking about. The second is I want you to experience a really great writer. And third, well, he lives so far North he can use all the exposure he can get! Enjoy. --Tom

There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle. ~Albert Einstein

My daughter Lauren and I were in my car on our way to Halifax where she was to have an appointment with an eye specialist to see if there was anything to be done for her blocked tear duct.

It was snowing, the roads were snow packed and slippery, and we had 350 kilometres to drive there and 350 to return. While I was not looking forward to 700 kilometres of white knuckle driving for a 15 minute appointment, I was really looking forward to spending the time with her. She has this natural and instinctive way to not only make you feel good about yourself, no matter how you are feeling, but she is a master at dragging you from your worries and focusing you on what is really right with the world.

As we were driving along, weaving in between bare spots on the road that weren’t snow covered, counting the cars that had slid into the ditch and in between changing CD’s in the stereo from “Alexis on Fire” to something else, she blurted out, “Dad, you know what my favourite saying is?”

“What is it?” I asked, dragging my attention from driving to her words.

“Parallel Synchronized Randomness” she said.

“Parallel Syncho what? What is that” I asked.

“It’s when the random occurrences of your life line up to look like they were planned that way and that they were supposed to happen.” She replied. “Do you know what I mean?”

Boy, did I ever know what she meant. One of my favourite sayings is “There are no coincidences in life.” There are just way too many things that happen to me that make me say “Hmmm.”

For example as I have been trying to connect with people about my ebook “MUST Thinking”, I am finding people whom I have never met before, but I feel like I have known them all my life. I learned from Bob delBuono, an old mentor and friend, 15 years ago that when life randomly gives you an opportunity to meet someone that you can learn from about your current situation, you had better take the time to connect with that person right then and there, because it will not happen a second time. Those “stars” may never align again and you would have missed an opportunity to gain clarity or direction on what you needed to know.

Take, for example, how I met Tom Voccola.

Three weeks ago, I didn’t know him from Adam, but ‘m sure that I was supposed to. In case you haven’t heard of Tom, who I’m sure you will soon, he is the author of a book called “The Accidental CEO – A leader’s journey from ego to purpose”. I came to meet him through a business networking site similar to Facebook called Linkedin. I was looking through my 3rd level of contacts, I don’t know what for, when I saw his name. My fingers were obviously more in tune to the universe than my mind was and they clicked on his profile and presto, three weeks later, we have shared emails back and forth, Tom has written a testimonial for my ebook, we have chatted on the phone, and we are eagerly trying to see how we can support each other in business. Parallel Synchronized Randomness.

The person you happen to meet on the sidewalk who knows a person you should meet. The phone rings, it’s someone dialling a wrong number but somehow you get to speaking and she knows all about the answers that you are seeking. You get a flat tire driving to work and someone pulls over to help you and it just happens that this person knows someone that you have been trying to meet and makes the introduction. The book that just magically appears on your desk one morning that no one knows how it got there, but carries within it the secrets that you have been searching for.

I could go on, but you get the point.

Life is as big a miracle as you want it to be.

When we set out each morning, if we can become open to these experiences, it is amazing just where we could arrive in life, but we must be in tune with the “music” that is playing. If we’re always plugged into our “I” pods, we will miss and sometimes walk right by the “you” pods that are out there all around us, just waiting to be discovered.

This week, please take the time to listen to what is going on around you. Be curious. Take no random happening at face value and be in tune to the circumstances in life in which you find yourself. Dare to discipline yourself to look behind the randomness of them and you may find answers to the life challenges in which you have been searching. But you must be open to take a chance and see where it will take you.

Make this your best week ever.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

When Providence Moves too...

Hold onto your hats, mates. Trim the sails! The sun's come out, the wind's picked up and we're clipping along at hull speed!

Suddenly, my calendar is full, the phone's ringing off the hook, my hair (if I had some) is blowing back, and I'm enjoying the heck out of it.

Here’s a sampling of what’s come up lately. A previous client called to say he’s taking over a new start-up and committed to bring me in when they get to 100 employees. Then he referred me to his lawyer. The lawyer turns out to be a partner in the largest law firm in the world (did you get that?) And this lawyer specializes in start-ups and high-tech businesses in Silicon Valley. We set a date to meet and I will be sending him my book. In the meantime, he’s referred me to one of his serial entrepreneur clients who is a key influencer in YPO (Young President’s Organization.) I have been trying to break into the YPO speaking circuit for two years...suddenly this door opens.

I got a call from another consultant who was referred to me by yet another consultant who wants to bring me in on an assignment in Los Angeles. During our conversation, guess what? He is trying to do EXACTLY the same thing I am trying to do — go from a practice to a Global Enterprise. We begin work together this week.

And Tony, my new friend and associate at The Alternative Board, and I are now engaged in creating the visibility and marketing mechanisms to help fill our next two high level CEO Boards here in Ventura county.

So, there's a principle at work here that I simply MUST share with you that I, myself, am just beginning to have some understanding and competency around.

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way."

— Walter H. Murray, The Scottish Himalaya Expedition, 1951

As we all know, to achieve anything in life, we must commit to a Vision, a picture of what we really want. Without that, it can be hard to muster the energy to get out of bed, much less climb a mountain.

But then, we must take action toward our Vision, even if we don’t know exactly what to do. The key is to take some action, any action. It doesn’t seem to matter as long as it is in authentic alignment with our desire and our values.

Then be alert to what unfolds — like the sun breaking out and a northwesterly wind coming up — and trim our sails accordingly.

When I cast off on this journey with you three short weeks ago, I had no idea how I would be able to move From a Practice to a Global Enterprise.

In the past, I thought I had to figure it out. To construct a detailed plan. To know exactly what was needed to get from here to there. But I never did figure it out. So Sea Fever and I stayed near shore doing little practice runs (nothing wrong with that), my grand sailing adventure mostly a figment of my imagination.

It wasn’t until recently that I finally got it. I mean, really GOT it. I don’t have to figure it all out. I’m ready, my boat’s ready. (I have been preparing for my next level of success for decades, just like you’ve been preparing for yours!) All I had to do is throw off the damn lines and go.

Now, just a note to be aware of. Not everything that shows up will be an open door or come to fruition, so don’t get discouraged. I met with a client yesterday who felt discouraged because his actions seemed to be producing little result. When he looked at it more closely, though, he found that he wasn’t really fully committed, not yet ready to move forward — and that he needs to first focus on readying his ship and his crew for the adventure that lies ahead.

So, what about you? What’s unfolding or not unfolding in YOUR life and your business?

Once you're committed, providence will move too...

There is so much that we can accomplish together.

And this is only day 22!

Yours on the Journey,

Captain Tom

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Day 15 - Out to Sea

In my last post, as we headed out to open sea, I asked you to answer 3 questions to help you chart your destination - your Vision of the future for 2008. I heard from many of you and I am inspired about the challenges you’re taking on.

In return, here's my business Vision: A World that Works because Business Works. This is big, but you know what, it inspires me and pulls me forward. It calls me to be bold!

As a first step toward realizing my Vision I know I MUST transition from a solo Practice to a Global Enterprise. I cannot get there alone. And, while I am totally committed to this outcome, I have no idea how to get there.

The first rule of accelerated success is to find someone who has already done at least part of what you want to do and learn from them. So, on January 6th, I flew to Denver, Colorado to be trained as a CEO Board Facilitator and Coach for The Alternative Board.

The Alternative Board (R) is an international provider of peer advisory and coaching solutions to leaders of privately held companies. In other words, TAB has already mastered much of what I want to do.

What did I learn in just 7 days? Well, I learned how they built their organization, I learned how they market to, engage and train CEOs, Presidents and Owners, and I learned one way to successfully build an enterprise. I also learned that these are amazing people, and discovered an opportunity for a strategic alliance.

What's more, I met fellow participants who are former senior executives in both the automotive and defense industries who are just as passionate about changing the workplace as I am. They are natural allies on my quest.

So where do we begin, you and I, when we're sailing uncharted waters? The first step is to seek out some old salts that have sailed those waters themselves. Go sailing with them. Listen to their tales. Benefit from their wisdom. Learn from their mistakes. Nine times out of ten they will gladly teach you what they know.

Today is Day 15. Do you know where you are going? Make sure you’re clear on your destination. Focus and take action in alignment with your Vision. Next week, onward, through the fog.

Yours on the Journey,

Tom Voccola

Saturday, January 5, 2008

I Promised You Adventure...

And adventure we will have.

We're gathered in the cockpit as we sail away from the harbor. You can no longer see the breakwater. As you look astern, the wake itself disappears into the fog. You can only hear the sound of the water against the hull and a fog horn in the distance. You feel the movement of the deck under your feet as Sea Fever rises and falls with the ocean swells. You decide to sit down. The deck moves up and meets you before you are ready.

You think to yourself, "This is different" and you're right. Everything about ocean sailing will require you to be different than you were just a few hours ago.

We are on our own. There is just us and a new environment. Water, blackness and fog. We have no idea what kind of challenges we will face. And we are not going to turn around. Yet we are on course. We are heading for a destination. A place where there is freedom to be ourselves. You want this. To test yourself. To be different. To be fulfilled. To learn to be - Captain - of your life, your career, your unique enterprise.

Okay, wake up. Pay attention. Now that we're aboard we're going to create a routine. Sailing in the open ocean requires a great deal of consciousness, or you will die soon enough. There's only one mission critical rule. Don't fall overboard. And only you can keep that rule. I can't keep it for you. You must remain on the boat to get to your destination.

The simple act of getting up and moving to another part of the boat requires a great deal of thought and coordination. Where is the nearest hand hold? When is the next roll of the deck? Who is where? Who is responsible for what? Is my life line attached?

There are measurements to be taken, a course to be followed, sails to be trimmed and weather to be watched. There is food to be prepared and watches to be scheduled and manned.

You think to yourself, "Why did I do this, anyway?"

You know there is actually an on-line virtual world called "New Life". In this virtual world you can give yourself an entirely new identity. We can change everything about ourselves. How we look, the kind of relationships we have, the life style we want, the home we live in and the games we play. I'm told that many times people in this virtual world excel in their new lives. They become richer, more famous and successful. Their businesses thrive and their people do what they are told. Yet, mostly, in their real lives, they continue to behave the same as they always have. Interesting.

In the next twelve months, the duration of this cruise, I will, you will, we will do what ever it takes, what ever we MUST do, to reach our destination.

But first, what is your destination for 2008?

Below are 3 important questions from my friend Paul Kearley's new book MUST THINKING

Go Here to Buy Paul's New Book

I want you to answer these 3 questions before your first watch. (We are on a boat, after all, and we will be recording our progress every Tuesday morning for the rest of the year.)

Now. Lie down on your bunk. Turn on the new LED light. Enjoy the gentle rocking of the ocean. Smell the coffee and the great supper cooking for you. And answer each of these questions for yourself.

1. What MUST happen for me to feel fulfilled and succesful? (My Vision)
2. Why MUST my Vision happen?
3. When MUST my Vision happen? (December 31, 2008)

Be creative. Write in the present tense, like it has already happened. Paint a word picture so that it moves you inside, so that it touches you dearly. Be ready to share your answers with me soon. (You can email me at tvoccola@ceo2.com if you want me to comment on them.)

I can't wait to share mine with you.

Dream Big. Be Bold.

Yours on the Journey,

Tom Voccola, Captain, The Sloop Sea Fever

P.S. If you just can't bring yourself to answer the 3 questions, buy Paul's book. You really MUST get in touch with what you really want. Because:

'Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back is always in effect. The moment one definitely commits oneself then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material sustenance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.' - Goethe

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year, Mate!

A few days ago I invited you to set sail on a grand adventure with me.

During 2008 I will be sharing new ideas, concepts and questions about leadership that will help you with every aspect of your life, especially your business.

We’ve been working hard on the charts all morning and we are getting ready to cast off. If you haven’t reserved your bunk, you can do so right now by filling in the box to your right to join the team. All we need is your e-mail address. I promise not to share it with anyone. It is only for our work together here. Because with you on board, we can make this dialogue an international journal of new leadership thought, discovery and achievement.

Courage! Do not miss this adventure!