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Joe McGonigal | On Being Remarkable in Business and Life

Biggest Life Lesson From My Recent Trip To Disney World

IMG_0316Last week, our family spent 5 days at Disney World. We are expecting our third child in September and realized it might be a while before we get the chance to go back, so we surprised our 5 and 3 year old with an impromptu trip.

There are countless lessons to be learned from Disney – the experience, the culture, the imagination and creativity.

Everyone knows the deal. Disney is a magical place where memories are made. Where everyone, no matter how you old you are, becomes a kid again, if only for a few days.

And, although it may sound a little cliché, it’s true. Continue Reading…

What I Fear The Most

The greatest limiting factor for so many people is fear.

You’re afraid of failing. Afraid to give up whatever security or stability you have now. Your afraid of embarrassment, judgment, and ridicule.

It can be scary to step out of your comfort zone, to raise your hand, to go against the grain. Maybe you’re afraid of starting over or having to learn something new. Continue Reading…

The easy way vs. the hard way

There’s always two ways to do things – the easy way or the hard way.

Often times we opt for the easy way. It takes less time, less thought, less energy. It usually comes with lower risk or a smaller investment.

For example, there’s the chef who chooses to make her stock for sauces and soups from a store bought base. Something that comes in a jar that she can just scoop into some hot water. Voila! Chicken stock the easy way.

People choose the easy way over hard way because the hard way can be daunting. It’s a path where outcomes are less certain, and definitely not guaranteed. It usually requires more work, a different level of effort, maybe even learning a new skill or two. Continue Reading…

Could You Play Piano With Billy Joel?

To get the full effect of this post, there are a few steps.

1. Read this post from Bob Lefsetz, a music industry veteran. He captures the story from Billy’s point of view.

2. Watching this MSG performance is optional for this post.

3. Watch the Vanderbilt video below. But before you do, here are few things to notice.

On this blog I talk about taking chances, going after what you really want, facing your fear. I talk about how you have to embrace risk and judgment and raise your own hand.

It’s rare to find a real life example of all of those things. You’re about to see it.

:24 – You have to pick yourself. If you don’t have the guts to put yourself out there, why should other people take a flyer on you?

1:22 – From the first note, it’s clear that this kid is in no rush. Chances like this don’t come along often, if ever, so enjoy them.

4:30 – When you get your chance, give it everything you got. Don’t be afraid to be creative. Every now and then you get to improvise a little. There’s some space to show people your uniqueness, your gift. Take those chances.

2:05 and 2:16 – It’s hard to narrow down to one or two spots because it is evident through the entire clip, but these are good examples. Look at how much fun he is having. Look the smile on his face – the one that goes from ear-to-ear that says, “I am playing piano for Billy Joel right now.” It’s so great.

And then there’s the part you don’t see in the video. The years of lessons and practice. The coaches and commitment. You don’t see the choices and the sacrifices made in order to get that good. To get so good that when the time comes you have the confidence to say, “I belong up there.” I know I can do this.



Why People Frame Their First Dollar

Take notice next time you’re in an independently owned business – a restaurant, a dry cleaner, the hardware store. Look for it around the register. It might be in frame or just tacked to the wall. Maybe it has a date written on it, maybe not.

The first dollar. Continue Reading…

Clean Start

matchbox 20:3 a.m.The beginning of a new year has an energy all its own. The calendar provides a natural close to yesteryear and a fresh start for everyone. You can choose to wash your hands of the year that ended or carry forward the momentum you’ve built. The choice is yours. Personally, I find it refreshing and energizing.

That being said, I’ve never been big on resolutions this time of year. But these last few weeks I’ve spent a lot of time really thinking about how I want the next year to look. There’s a lot going on right now that I’m excited about. For starters, SCC Partners is off and running, with a lot of interest from both organizations and individuals. Our first course is going to be launching mid-February, and I’m really happy with how it’s shaping up.

I’m also part of the Actionable Book Club with 21 other talented people. I already read a lot, but this is different. This group is about action – taking the concepts from business and personal development books and making them actionable. You’ll hear a lot more about this as the year goes on.

There’s no shortage of posts around the web offering strategies for resolutions, setting goals, or building new habits. The one that resonated the most with me was from Chris Brogan. He recommends choosing three words to help you focus on your goals for the year.

“In an effort to tell bigger stories, I’ve found that the concept of three words allows me to think in more dimensions about what I want to do with my life and it lets me apply lots of tangible goals instead of what most people do when they focus on just a finite task.

Instead of focusing purely on individual goals, I like the idea of identifying a few major themes to serve as a framework for the year. I think having the themes will create a helpful way to decide what to say yes to, and more importantly, what to say no to in the coming year.

Here are my three words:

Student- In the last few months, I’ve read a few books on learning. Not only is it a fascinating topic, but I am now convinced more than ever, that if you are not committed to life-long learning, you are screwed (and I mean that in the nicest way possible). It’s impossible to grow if you are not open to and seeking opportunities for growth. Aside from that, learning new things is fun. I’m going to be exploring some new topics this year and going deeper in others.

Execute – 2012 was a year of planning and leaping. I spent a lot of time and energy shaping my new company, which involved clearly defining who we want to help and how we can use our strengths in meaningful ways. Late in the year it was finally off the ground and I had left the corporate job I had had for the previous 12 years. Now it’s time to execute.

Present – Life moves fast….really fast. It’s easy to caught in the current and miss the important parts if you’re not paying attention. Now that I work from home and have a lot more say over my schedule, I have more opportunities than I did in the past. There is more freedom (and less excuses) to take advantage of the little things…picking my son up from school, doing a puzzle at 10am with my daughter, or a Tuesday afternoon movie with my family. I want to make sure I take advantage of it this year.

Do you have 3 words? Feel free to share them in the comments, I’d love to hear them!




The biggest part of the problem…

… isn’t the economy. It’s not that your manager doesn’t give you enough new leads. It’s not that your competition practically gives stuff away. And it’s not that you don’t have the same access to the tools, knowledge, or resources as other successful people. It’s not the marketing department, the CEO, or jobs going overseas. Nope.

The biggest part of the problem is you. Tough news to hear, tougher to accept.

The problem is you don’t have a plan. You’re afraid to make the necessary changes. You’re scared of being exposed, being criticized, taking a stand. You’re afraid that it’s going to be uncomfortable, lonely, require commitment, discipline, and hard work. You’re afraid you’ll quit when it gets difficult. You’re afraid people will judge you, question you, maybe even talk behind your back. Continue Reading…

Remember What Is Really Important In Your Life – Kathy McGonigal

This is the final post in a series of 16. If you are just joining in, read this post  first. It will give you the whole back story about how this series came about. If you’ve missed any, this link will take you to the ones I’ve already published.

After hearing from best-selling authors, successful entreprenuers, and other adventurers, there’s only one person left I could think to call for some final words of advice as I start a new venture – my Mom – Kathy McGonigal.

She’s known me longer than anyone. She knows my strengths, tendencies, and weaknesses. She’s well aware of why I’ve decided to carve a new path. Her and my dad have been supportive of my decisions my entire life. They haven’t necessarily agreed, but they’ve been supportive. They’ve been role models, friends, confidants, and safety nets. They’ve know when to let go and when to pull back. Continue Reading…

Go! – Seth Godin

This is the 15th in a series of 16 posts. If you are just joining in, read this post  first. It will give you the whole back story about how this series came about. If you’ve missed any, this link will take you to the ones I’ve already published.

Few authors have had a bigger impact on me than Seth Godin (and there are millions of others he’s impacted as well). I’ve applied his work to my business and my life. He has a knack for writing right to you, for calling your bluff, and making it seem completely idiotic to settle for anything less than being remarkable. He is work is so expansive that it would be impossible for me to link to it all, but I highly recommend reading Linchpin if you haven’t, especially if you feel like you are capable of more.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, he said something at one of his events that stopped me in my tracks and was a catalyst for me to explore a new path. During a Q&A session, I asked him what keeps him awake at night. He answered (paraphrased), “I’ve been very fortunate to have earned the attention of many people through my work. I have a successful blog, I’ve written many books, and at least for right now, many people are giving me their attention. What keeps me awake is I’m afraid of wasting that opportunity. I’m not afraid of blowing it, but I am very afraid of wasting it.” Continue Reading…

Limit Risk As Much As Possible – Chris Guillebeau

This is the 14th in a series of 16 posts. If you are just joining in, read this post  first. It will give you the whole back story about how this series came about. If you’ve missed any, this link will take you to the ones I’ve already published.

If you’ve read any of the previous posts in this series, you know that I usually start by giving you a little background on the person who is offering advice. Maybe they have a book or a blog I liked. Maybe even two. Buckle your seat belt for this one.

As I was putting this altogether, I was amazed by how much Chris Guillebeau has accomplished in a relatively short time. I’m not suggesting he is an overnight success (I don’t think they really exist), but he has been so productive and continues to create at a breakneck pace, that it’s worth telling you about  for two reasons.

First, it’s really friggin’ inspiring. And second, if one person can be this productive, what’s stopping you? Or me?

So here goes.

You can read Chris’s bio here, but I’ll start with his blog, The Art of Non-Conformity, which he started in 2008. That’s it, four years ago. Chris writes about entrepreneurship, lifestyle design, and “unconventional strategies for work, life and travel.” Chris also has a book by the same title, which I highly recommend if you want to design and live your life on your own terms, not one dictated by others. Continue Reading…

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