Getting the most from a team.

Taking team lessons from the field.
Taking team lessons from the field.

We have different goals for different teams, at different times. This tip is for getting a high level of productivity from a team we are leading. Maybe, a group at work trying to hit defined targets, or in a community trying to achieve a certain level of excellence, or even a family team working together towards a specific achievement.


In most teams there will be high performers who we rely on to make things happen, the middle level contributors, and low performers who are not achieving their potential.

When working towards a specific team goal, our tendency is often to focus on the low performers and try to increase their contributions, as in the saying, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

Unfortunately, the squeaky wheels suck up our time and energy, and bring the rest of the team down. In many workplaces, systems are set up for these low performers. These lesser producers are often given extra support in the form of training, more of our time, and a minor workload. The given support is great, unless it’s at the expense of the rest of the team. The problem is, it often results in providing fewer resources to the high performers.

Our key people are usually the ones that complete tasks successfully without a lot of attention, so we tend to ignore them and just let them do their thing. However, it’s these people that we should be focusing on if we want the team to be more productive. The top-notch workers need to feel appreciated, valued, and respected, even though they don’t ask for accolades. They still need appropriate guidance to grow.

If we redistribute some of our top performers’ less challenging tasks, they won’t relax, they’ll fill the gap with whatever needs to get done next.

Instead of trying to fix the low performers, we should be putting our resources into the superstars. There will likely be complaints from those just coasting along, but the team will reach targets and goals. If we put our energy into the low performers, our team will underachieve, and there will still be complaints.

Take action: What should you do with a low performer? Everyone has a place and fit and often people who are dragging themselves, do so because they haven’t found how they excel and what they really enjoy. While redistributing tasks from the high performers, try to find something that will be a better fit for someone else.

:: Inspired by Ron Clark’s book, Move Your Bus: An Extraordinary New Approach to Accelerating Success in Work and Life.

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30% more productive

Quick video: Cut 2 things to be 30% more productive.

I love this productivity hack so much, I made a video to explain it. I’ve doing it and cannot believe how much I’ve accomplished…





Get a jump start on a mid-life crisis.

Get a jumpstart on a mid-life crisis.
Why wait to turn 50 to live like we’re 25?

When we are young, we learn fast. There’s new experiences all around us, constantly: gaining independence, starting our careers, partnering with someone, having children, etc., These happenings keep our brains moving and our minds active.


Somewhere along the way, we tend to settle into comfortable, repetitive, predictable lives. Our mind goes into auto-pilot mode and we get stuck in our comfort zone.

Our brains and biology enjoy this mode. They like the easy route, recognize patterns, feel secure and get lazy. Our cells even crave the chemical balance that has become the norm.

But our mind wants more out of life. Our mind wants to evolve, progress and learn new things, just like the “good ol’ days”. Our mind wants the excitement that comes with novel experiences and this emotion causes conflict with our conservative brain.

To avoid suddenly hitting this crisis, we can pre-empt it, by getting out of our comfort zone early and giving our mind new ways to grow. By doing it early, we can take advantage of making our decisions before our heads are desperate and irrationally clouded.

Anytime we find ourselves boxed in by our own thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, at any stage of our life, we should shake things up before it becomes overwhelming. That way we have a better chance of making wise decisions that benefit who we want to become, without the stress of urgency that can sneak up on us if we wait.

Take action: Our beliefs influence our thoughts, which become actions, and if repetitive, become our state of being. So if you’re shaking things up, you can flip the equation around and first consider who you want to become, such as a good parent, for example. Next, what actions you’ll need to be that person. Perhaps it’s coaching your child’s soccer practice. Then what thoughts and beliefs will be required to put the task in motion, such as “I can figure out how to coach kids’ soccer.”

:: Inspired by Joe Dispenza, DC’s book, Evolve Your Brain

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It’s not the idea that matters, it’s how you bring it to life.

Lots of us have great ideas, and on their own they can be fun and inspiring, but to make them real is a whole other story.

Whether at home, a workplace, or other group environment, ideas need to be championed to make them a reality. It’s in this stage that we are challenged. Ideas are meaningless, unless acted upon. They need to be developed, shared, grown, tested, improved, turned into something useful, and then shared again. If they are hoarded and hidden, they go nowhere.

Getting others to latch on to our ideas can be tricky because it requires them to change their own thought. They will often put up blockers or excuses. The objections could be based on real concerns, or just a resistance to change. Here’s how to spot the difference…

First, define the problem that the idea will solve. Keep in mind that what may be an obvious issue to us, may not be considered a problem by others. Make sure we’re clear that things could be improved. For instance, if our idea is to go for regular walks with our spouse, we should make sure she or he agrees that a sedentary lifestyle is unhealthy, before we present the walking concept.

Then, work on removing the excuses. If not immediately fixable, ask if that reason gets solved, would there be any other issues?

Remember that ideas can take time to spread. Try using a catchy name for the idea, and leaving out a prototype for easy visualization. For the regular walks example, the prototype could be an image of a healthy-looking couple enjoying a stroll. If it’s an idea for work, maybe use a mockup of a website or leave a 3D model on your desk where people can see it and inquire about it’s benefit.

Don’t worry about people stealing the idea. The work is in making the idea a reality. If someone adds to it and then feels like it’s their own, then you know you’ve succeeded in getting them on board.

Take action: Learn the process of championing an idea in a small way before going for the big one. Start small by implementing a new idea with one or two people. Grow into bigger ideas with larger groups once you’ve figured out which ideas are feasible, and how to overcome people’s resistance.

:: Inspired by Seth Godin’s book, Free Prize Inside: How to Make a Purple Cow.

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S.M.A.R.T. goals and stretch goals.

These two types of goals can work together for incredible results.

S.M.A.R.T. stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and based on a timeline. This system works really well for defining how to make small adjustments to your current performance to hit short term targets. It’s often used in the corporate world and can easily be applied to our personal lives so that we can turn vague aspirations into a concrete action plan.

For example, if we want to be more fit; we’d get specific, measurable, and set a timeline with, “I want to run up the hill at the park in under 2 minutes, by the end of the month.” We’ll train at the gym twice a week for 20 minutes before work (achievable) and we know it’s within our grasp (realistic). Checking each goal off our list will make us feel great and give us motivation for the next one.

A fulfilled life, however, requires more than a series of short-term goals. It’s also important to stretch ourselves now and then with challenges that we don’t immediately know how to achieve. Such as starting our own business, or fundraising for a charity, or travelling to an unknown destination with little resources, or pushing the previous goal past climbing a hill to perhaps a triathlon challenge.

A stretch goal is innovative and transformative. It may seem audacious at first, so we need a flexible, open, creative mind to brainstorm possible paths to achieve it. If it’s a true stretch, we’ll also need some outside resources. Books, courses, and a coach or mentor can help us figure out how to make it real.

Once broken down, we can pair stretch ideas with a series of S.M.A.R.T. goals, to help turn our big dreams into reality. Even if we don’t end up with the results we initially expect, the journey will improve our lives.

Take action: What stretch goal do you want to achieve? Think big enough that it makes you a little nervous. Next, brainstorm ways that could make it possible, consult some outside sources, and choose the most enjoyable route. Then start breaking it down. You don’t need all the details, just the top line view and first few steps. Know that when ready, you can turn those steps into S.M.A.R.T. goals, and start achieving them.

:: Inspired by Charles Duhigg’s book, Smarter, Faster, Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business

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30% more productive

Quick video: Cut 2 things to be 30% more productive.

I love this productivity hack so much, I made a video to explain it. I’ve doing it and cannot believe how much I’ve accomplished…





A simple smile can change the world.

Have you ever had a stranger compliment you as they passed by? Or someone you barely know appreciate that you’ve done something well? How about a genuine smile, or a, “Good morning,” from an unfamiliar person?

It makes us feel good, shifts us out of our thinking patterns, and can set us up for a good day.

Now consider how many times we’ve done it for others, we can all spread more kindness in this manner.

Some people are harder to connect with than others. Maybe we have set patterns that we can break, for instance, we never say, “Hello” to a security guard we see regularly at work and think it would be odd to start. Or we think it would be strange to compliment a taxi driver on his driving, because that’s just not what’s done. Or how about a conversation with the outcast parent at your daughter’s ballet class who always sits by herself?

We don’t know what others are going through and what state of mind they are challenged with. A simple smile, or a few nice words can sometimes snap someone out of their negative thoughts and into a better place.

It can be like, The Butterfly Effect where one small kindness can lead to better thoughts, which can lead to better actions, and then better habits, and a better life.

Or maybe our smile goes to a “pay it forward” type of person. If the cab driver we complimented gets a lift in his mood, he might next pick up a school teacher and share a kind word. The school teacher may then be extra encouraging to her students, who then go home and have a good evening with their families.

People do bad things when they are feeling bad, and we can deter them by making them feel good. A simple smile is a small gesture that can have an incredible impact.

Take action: “Hugging is fully returnable.” It’s more than just a cute saying, a good hug can have massive benefits for people. It can relieve stress, give us security, build trust between the huggers, and increase our human connections. Become a good hugger by thinking of the benefits you’re giving the hugged.

:: Inspired by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen’s book, Chicken Soup for the Soul: 101 Stories to Open the Heart and Rekindle the Spirit.

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The 4% rule for our retirement number.

Many people avoid finding their retirement number because it seems too complex. But, it can actually be easy to get a rough idea of the amount we want to have saved before retiring. The 4% rule works for most people, most of the time. If we use this simple math as a base, we can then adapt it to our own circumstances, such as using a 3% rule if we want a higher level of security.

Start here: Based on your current annual budget and lifestyle, what amount could you happily live on for income post-retirement, in today’s dollars? Remember your post-retirement spending will likely be less than what you spend in your working years. You should have debts, including your mortgage, paid off by then. Children should be independent. You’ll no longer be saving for retirement, and you may have figured out how to have a fulfilling life with fewer expenses. Plus, at a certain age government benefits will kick in; find out how much you can expect and subtract that from your future annual income.  

Got a rough idea? To figure out what you should have invested, multiply your future income by 25. Let’s use $50,000/year as an example. Multiply that by 25 and the amount to save is $1,250,000.

Here’s how the 4% math works: If your average investment return is 6%, and you minus 2% for inflation, that leaves 4% to withdraw annually, without touching your principle. Of course, these numbers are only rough estimates, but it will give you a goal to work towards. We multiplied by 25 because that’s the mathematical number that matches 4%. If you want to base your plans on a more secure 3% rule, then multiply by 33.3.

Take action: If your number feels daunting, remember you can brainstorm to figure out how to get on track. Don’t forget the magic of compound interest, if you start saving now. Or, you could live in a less expensive city. You can’t count on surprises, but it’s possible an inheritance may be in your future. If you’re in good health, semi-retirement is a great option that can be enjoyable and contributory. Or, you can build a side business that gives you a somewhat passive income. There are so many ways to be golden in your golden years.

:: Inspired by’s article, How much is enough?

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Spend consciously. Know where your money goes.

Need a fancy breakfast sandwich and high-end latte to kick start your day? Go for it. Want a pair of designer shoes that are well made and you’ll wear regularly for years? Bring it on.

Spending consciously is not about being cheap, or denying ourselves life’s pleasures. It’s far from a mindset of lack or scarcity. It’s about awareness and making choices that align with what’s important to us.

Many of us spend beyond our means, not because we can’t afford things, but because we don’t pay attention to where our money goes. No one wants to start their day with interest payments and bank fees, yet those undesirables can add up to be extremely expensive. Worse, they can cause stress, block us from spending on things we actually enjoy and restrict us from some of our life options.

So, those little trinkets or sale items that we buy for ourselves or as gifts? It’s time to stop and ask, do I really want this item, or just have an urge to buy? Was I dreaming of it for days, or did it suddenly pop up in front of me?

If we look around our home at all the stuff that we don’t use – clothes, shoes, books, coffee mugs, tools, decor, old food, etc., we can see what’s been holding us back from a great vacation, or an investment, or time off between jobs.

Take action: Try adding up how much interest and unnecessary fees you pay each year. Include mortgage interest, auto and student loans, bank fees, and what you pay on credit card debt. It could easily add up to $8,000 every year. Next, look around your home and roughly cost out what you spent on all the things you could easily live without. Now that you are more conscious of the monetary trade off, focus on spending only on what’s worthwhile to you.

:: Inspired by Ramit Sethi’s book: I Will Teach You to be Rich.

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Four money blockers that keep us broke.

We’ve all grown up with beliefs about money, and if we haven’t yet extracted them from our subconscious, those beliefs may be holding us back. Beliefs are often blind-spots that cause us to unconsciously act in certain ways. If we look at our net worth, we’ll see the sum result of our money beliefs. Here are some common stories that you may be telling yourself:

  1. “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” Of course it doesn’t, but by focusing on a lack of money, we’ll get more of the same. Even a simple phrase such as, “I can’t afford that,” puts us into a scarcity mindset, which effects our decisions. Try replacing it with “I’d rather spend my money on _____, so that I can feel _____.”

  2. “Money is the root of all evil.” Money is a tool. Greed and self-serving power is evil. But, money can help us be generous and nurture ourselves and others. If we say things like, “It’s not about the money,” it’s likely that we relate to money negatively and avoid it.

  3. “I have to work harder to earn more.” Wealth is not directly proportional to effort. Yes, some effort is needed to produce money; we can’t manifest it without action. However, the popular hustle and grind mindset best serves business owners telling their employees how to perform. Plus, when money is hard earned, we tend to keep a tight grip on it. We can’t profit from our money, if we are not willing to let it go.

  4. “I’m not good with money.” If we believe that handling money is complicated, then we are likely to over complicate our process. Maybe we have too many accounts, or a tricky budget, or rely on someone else to take care of it for us. However, just like we can learn any new skill, we can learn to be good with money.

Take action: Acknowledge and accept that you have beliefs that hold you back. Get curious about what’s not working for you and replace the old thoughts with new stories, such as “I am a money magnet.”

:: Inspired by Amy Porterfield’s podcast, #181: Eliminating Money Blocks with James Wedmore.

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One word that will change your life.

Swap “I have to…” for “I choose to…”.

Have we forgotten that we have free will? Over time, we tend to allow ourselves to be conditioned by our environment. We can forget that we have a choice. Our life gets taken over by unconscious decisions.

Are there times when you feel like you are just existing? Or feel trapped by circumstances? We have options. If fact, we have countless options. We can live by choice, rather than by chance.

Most of us use the term “I have to…” when explaining what we plan to do. For example, “I have to go to work,” “I have to meet my friend,” or “I have to pick up groceries.” We actually don’t have to do any of these things. Consciously or not, we choose to do them.

Using “I choose to,” reminds us that we’re making it a priority. If we start to question if it still feels like a good choice, then we can reconsider how we are living our life. The altered phrase prompts our mind to recall that we are the ones in control, deciding what’s important. It promotes empowerment.

Take action: Here are the above common phrases turned into possible choices: 1. “I have to go to work,” could switch to “I choose not to go to work. I’ll take a year sabbatical now, and push back my retirement by a year if I need to.” 2. “I have to meet my friend,” can become “I choose to meet my friend because I want more fun in my life.” 3. “I have to pick up groceries,” can be “I choose to delegate the grocery shopping to my kids tonight.”

:: Inspired by Hal Urban’s book, Life’s Greatest Lessons: 20 Things that Matter.

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How to apply our strengths to more areas.

Our strengths are transferable, we have more skills than we think.

Do you hit every deadline, but often arrive late to events? Or maybe you’re a wiz in the kitchen, but don’t realize your creative ability. If we recognize our strengths in one discipline, we can use them to grow in other areas.

Step 1: Identify what skills you’re struggling with, for example; relationship building, communication, dedication to a goal, or perhaps eating well. Step 2: Recognize what your strengths are by analyzing the areas where you are getting desired results. Be specific. Step 3: Approach your challenges with a focus on applying your strengths.

Here are 5 common examples of transferable skills between work and home life:

1. If we tell great stories to our kids at bedtime – we can dissect the key story elements and use those same skills to pitch a client.

2. Many of us are supportive team members at work, chipping in when someone needs help, and contributing our skills with enthusiasm. Surely then, we can find a dedicated way to help our family members. Or if we’re caring at home, we can bring that human connection to work.

3. Do you do quarterly evaluations with your manager to set goals and problem solve? Why not book regular evaluations with our loved ones, asking them to rate us on important relationship needs and get feedback on how we can grow.

4. If we can figure out what works well in our relationship with our best friend – maybe it’s openness and trust – we can bring some of those characteristics to other relationships, including co-workers.

5. Skills developed managing a household translate very well to managing a team. Planning, prioritizing, time management, budgeting, and communication are important both at home and work. Parental leave can be an asset to your work life.

Take action: To apply your strengths, you first need to know your strengths. Ask for opinions from people who know you well in various areas of your life. Pay attention to compliments you get, they are likely unique to you. Grab a list of characteristics online and do a self evaluation. Recall situations that have energized you and figure out what charged you up. Note what annoys you about others and invert it; your strength might be the opposite. With these exercises, you should see some key personal strengths emerging. Now double down on them.

:: Inspired by The Art of Charm’s podcast interview with Olaniyi Sobomehin.

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