Leadership Tip: The Guilt Factor

I am a Jewish, Italian, Catholic girl born and bred to feel extraordinary levels of guilt. I have perfected this gift and it is one aspect of my life I now strive to stay aware of and committed to changing.

I know that guilt is an illusion, and it is an illusion that can control your mind. Guilt is an energy sucker that we bring upon ourselves. 

Here are a few things I have been working on to dump this head trash of mine, let me know if you have any suggestions!

  1. I am committed to sharing what I really think vs. keeping it to myself until I can’t take it anymore, and then turning into an ugly witch because I was trying to be nice. This usually ends up with me being wrong and resentful and I’m consumed with guilt for such a bad choice!
  2. I am committed to not feeling guilty for putting myself first. I will always consider others and I plan on considering myself in my decisions too. I am officially on my own priority list!
  3. I will no longer worry about what others think about me, my choices and the way I live my life. Why do I care?
  4. I am committed to be the best version of myself and forgiving myself when I am not. I just clean up the mess and move forward.

Guilt is head trash and it needs to be dumped!


Live all in,

Leadership Tip: What Are You Giving?

At an intellectual level most of us get it; what you put out into the universe is what you receive. 

If you are open, the possibilities are endless.  If you are closed, the possibilities become limited. If you are engaging, people engage with you. Smile, and others will smile back. If you are fun, you attract fun.  If you are a drag…well, you get the picture. This is especially true as a leader, as your team reflects your energy. 

When life feels heavy or not aligned with what you want in your life, take a look at what you are giving. 

One thing is for certain…what you give is what you attract. 

Live all in,  

Is your team learning?

Have you ever heard a parent say “I trained my child to ride a bike this weekend?” Just as kids learn how to ride a bike, your employees learn how to do a job or improve a skill.

And learning never stops.

If you don’t believe me, think about what you have learned in the last six months.

Of course, some learning happens proactively while other learning happens through the mistakes we make with our customers. That, of course, is not the best learning approach because of its direct impact on profits.

Why doesn’t traditional training work?

  • Training is event-oriented.
  • Training does not deliver a change in competency. It delivers knowledge. “Knowing” is not the same as “doing.”
  • Not all people are motivated to apply the knowledge on their own.

How is learning different from training?

  • Learning begins with getting the employee’s head into the game. Share how his or her work affects others and the guest experience.
  • Learning incorporates knowledge and application.
  • Learning begins by first giving knowledge to someone and then showing them how to apply that knowledge so they can demonstrate it to others.
  • Just telling someone how to do something is training. Learning involves demonstration and ongoing coaching to ensure competency.
  • Learning environments create higher competencies and increase employee confidence. This, in turn, creates a pride and enthusiasm in the employee for his or her work and organization.

How does a company encourage learning?

Organizations that have a culture focused on “engaged learning” naturally optimize their people and get big returns. The employee keeps learning, keeps thinking and keeps contributing more effectively. When you have long-term employees who are not learning in new ways, you have people doing things “the good old way,” also known as “the same old way,” which costs money and limits your business potential.

Focus on learning. Ask your people what they are learning, reading and doing differently to improve their competencies and performance. Learning is the cornerstone to constant and never-ending improvement.
In a nutshell, stop training and get your employees learning.

Leadership Tip: Blamers and Shamers

“Yeah, but …it’s not my fault…”

You know them…the blamers & shamers. People who just don’t take responsibility for their actions or missed deliverables. As leaders, we have to understand that where this behavior exists it only persists unless you step in and do a collaborative reset.  

Here are a few tips for realigning:

1. Ensure clarity of expectations for both of you. Not just what is to be done, but also when.

2. Address concerns of a “it’s not my fault” perspective and how others perceive this attitude….and the disconnect it inflicts. 

3. Establish tighter follow-up meetings until things are back on track.

4. As you see progress – encourage.  Coaching is crucial.

Know for sure that allowing the blamers and shamers to be a loud voice in your organization is destructive and it undoubtedly disrupts your culture. By realigning, you will illustrate how important accountability is within your organization and your entire team.

Raise the bar.

Live all in,  

Leadership development: Always Have an Eye on the Future…

When it comes to leadership, how do you stay ahead of the competition? How do you innovate in your niche? How can your team think differently when most people hold on tightly to what they know? To have the competitive advantage, it’s all about keeping your eye on the future and looking for opportunities.

Finding opportunities can be difficult. in my experience, it is easiest to identify opportunities vs. create them. But make no mistake, identifying opportunities takes real effort. 

Here are 5 ways you can open your mind and begin see possibilities in front of you.

  1. Read more, and all not social media.
  2. Look for trends in your customer’s behavior, stress points, and issues.  They are opportunities to solve.
  3. Don’t assume what you have known is applicable now. Being in the “know” limits what you can see.
  4. Opportunities with bad execution are lost opportunities that cost you time and money.
  5. Hang with people who are smarter and don’t see things through your same view finder.  Think with them.  They will open your world.

When you are constantly asking yourself “What opportunity is this presenting me?” you will be surprised to find out how much room for growth, innovation, and change presents itself.

Be an opportunity identifier! 

Leadership tip: How to Motivate Your Team

The Aspire Momentum Formula – How to Motivate Your Team Today

As leaders, we all go through times when it gets challenging to motivate our team.  Whether you are new to a leading a group, in the middle of a difficult project, or have a team that’s just “in a rut,” we all could use some help.  It’s time to turn on the momentum switch.

Check out the Aspire Momentum Formula, and then write me back.  Tell me what you’ve done TODAY to get your people fired up.  I can’t wait to hear how you’ve taken your team to the next level!

Live all in,


How to get your team motivated today!
Aspire’s Momentum Formula


#momentum #Leadership #Tips #Thinking #Mindset #Productivity #Work #Business

Leadership Development – It’s All About Coaching

When it comes to leadership development, are you a manager or a coach?  It is much easier to be a manager, but if you are looking to develop the talent of your team, you must be a coach.

Coaching is not about having the answer. It is a mindset of helping others find the answer! Coaching is different than managing:

  • Management is facilitating people, product and process. Managing is mapping and directing.
  • Coaching is optimizing the potential of people.

Coaches are “shiner” finders. They are people potential junkies. They know that if a person has the right mindset, then learning new skills and processes will be easy. They inspire people to explore their internal motivation. They help tie a person’s work to their own values and higher purpose.

Coaching requires patience, time, preparation and commitment to the person you are coaching. Coaching is a gift we give and when we are being coached, it is a gift we must be open to receiving. Your success reflects your effort and commitment to developing your people.

Need help?  Aspire is all about leadership development.  We believe that leadership is a behavior, not a position.  We love working with teams to bring out their best through developing their people!

Reach out to us today, and let’s collaborate!

Raise the bar with development of your people
A great coach is always raising the bar with development

Find joy in the love of your work.#Leadership #Coaching #Tips #Productivity #Work #Shine

Leadership tip: Pay someone to quit!

Paying people to quit their job, it’s a great practice.

Why would you ever pay someone up to $5,000 to leave their job?  Find out in my video below, and let me know what you think.
Video Tip of the Week

Live all in,


Sometimes the choice can be difficult, but make it.

#Video #Leadership #Tips #Thinking #Mindset #Productivity #Work #Business

How to Find More Joy in your Work

Finding joy in work can sometimes be challenging. As the days can fly by, we often find ourselves on autopilot, feeling like something is missing…..and often, it is joy.  It is important to find happiness at work, as it is the #1 thing that keeps us motivated, engaged, and reduces our stress…all things that help us shine at work.

Joy is like anything you want. You create it!  Here are a few tips to begin finding your joy at work:

1. Engage with intention. The more engaged we are, the more our contributions help to connect us to our team.  Engage in your work as if your life depends on it.

2. Help others focus on what they like and love about their work. This creates joy and improves productivity as people who love their work are competent and interested in learning and growing.

3. Whenever possible, do work that leverages your strengths. The more you use your strengths, the more fun you have. No one likes to focus on their weaknesses and people generally love to do the things they do well.

4.  Look at your mindset. Ask:

  • How is my work valuable to the organization and others?
  • Who can I better connect with at work so I feel more a part?
  • How does my job help me have what I want in my life?
  • What can I do that will help me bring joy every day?

5. If you don’t have a positive mindset then the real question is, “What and where is my next job so I have more joy in my life?”

6.  Be realistic. Not all aspects of a job will bring you joy. What matters is that you find more joy than sorrow or annoyance.

Remember: what you focus on comes true.  When you focus on joy, you will find more happiness and trigger your motivational switch.  Go ahead, and flip that switch.  Find your joy.

Live all in,

Find joy in the love of your work.

#Leadership #Tips #Productivity #Work #Shine #Accountability

Be a Better Leader: Fear Less

Play big in leadership, and fear less 

Why play small as a leader? I don’t get it. Why not be “all in,” in every aspect of your life? You were put on the planet to make BIG things happen without fear. Not some of us…all of us!

Today, ask yourself:

  • What are the big things you are focused on in your life right now?
  • How are you taking care of the people you love?
  • How are you opening your mind to all the possibilities that are lying around waiting for you to explore?

As you answer these questions, don’t let fear slow you down. Stop worrying about what others may think about you. It’s energy you don’t want to waste!

You are a badass. Go out there and make every day count.

Live all in,

#Fear #Leadership #Tips #Thinking #Mindset #Productivity #Work #Business

How to become more innovative: think differently.

Innovation Starts Here – By Thinking Differently

Smart leaders become innovative by building muscle around thinking differently.  They don’t see the world through the same viewfinder as others, and they challenge themselves to spend time thinking about what else may be possible.  If you want to be innovative, you must change your approach.

6 tips to begin thinking differently:

  1. Ask a new question.  If you want to think differently you have to ask a different question. The same question yields the same thinking.
  2. Change your environment.  For example: staff meetings are really thinking and communication meetings.  How often do you change the agenda or location?   Does everyone sit in the same seat, next to the same people?  How much time to you spend thinking and ideating vs. going through the action items?
  3. Be a fanatical obstacle remover.  Ask: What obstacles am I overlooking that I need to minimize to help my team get where they need to go?
  4. Creativity counts.  What resources do we have that we underutilize?  How can we take the mundane and make it something special?
  5. Know your goal.  Focus on the outcome of what you are trying to think differently about.  Don’t get stuck on what you currently do or how you might do it.
  6. Think more.  Process less.  Ideation opens the mind and that is where new ideas, solutions and approaches live.

Take a peek into your world’s kaleidoscope and you will be surprised by all the opportunities you see when you take the time to think, look and listen differently.

All in,

Start with changing HOW you think!
Think differently – get results

#Innovation #Leadership #Tips #Thinking #Mindset #Productivity #Work #Business

Women in the World – 10 Key Takeaways From These Incredible Leaders

What is your legacy?

I attended the “Women in the World Summit” in Manhattan last week with 2000+ other amazing women.  It was an enlightening three days beginning with Oprah kicking us off, and then Hillary closing us down.  With so many fantastic speakers and panels… my head is still spinning with excitement, learning, awakening and inspiration.

A few BIG takeaways and inspiring quotes to live by:

  1. Don’t run from it.  Run it! ~ 12-year-old poet
  2. Character is the only thing you have absolute control over. ~ Susan Rice (former National Security Director)
  3. You can’t have what you want by focusing on what you don’t want…
  4. Your behavior reflects your values. Take ownership!
  5. We have 12 years before climate change is unrepairable. Don’t believe it? Ask a scientist.  This is not a political issue this is a human issue.
  6.  “Let yourself shine.” ~ Oprah
  7. Let your haters be your motivators.” ~ Stacey Abrams (ran for Governor of Atlanta)
  8. Clarity is the foundation for others to successfully execute the mission…the work.
  9. “You don’t defeat someone else.  You set your intention and focus on the win.” ~ Hillary Rodham Clinton
  10. Stop waiting for permission.  Own what you are destined to be great at…get busy!

It is time for us all to lead.  Lead in our lives, our work, our community, our families.  Each voice matters and it isn’t enough to just vote.  It is our privilege to be involved in what we believe in.  Make your legacy extraordinary.

Live all in,

Oprah Winfrey
Let yourself shine

#Shine #Leadership #Tips #Legacy #Mindset #Productivity #Work #Business

Outstanding leaders do this one thing with problems….

The way leaders look at problems is a key difference between outstanding and mediocre leaders.  Often, leaders tell their people to only bring a problem if they can present a solution (or don’t bother with bringing the problem in the first place).  This is a terrible strategy!  Why would they need you if they already have a solution?  And if they have a solution…then they should be executing it.

You want to encourage people to bring you their problems.  Creating an environment where problems are welcome actually raises your awareness of the challenges your team is facing in real time.
In addition, when people bring you their problems, you can think with them on ways to solve it together.  You will foster a place where your team learns, feels empowered to say “I don’t know,” and becomes a part of whatever solution you design together. Not to mention, problems are at the heart of innovation.

Be a problem lover!


Problems welcome here
Problems always welcome

#Leadership #Tips #Engagement #Mindset #Productivity #Work #Business

Accountability: it’s the Secret Sauce

Responsibility = accountability.

We all want our team to be functioning at its most optimal level.   Whether it’s your team at work, your own family at home, or even your recreational softball team, we all want to know we can count on our people to deliver.  So, what is the secret sauce?  It’s all about taking ownership, AKA being accountable.  When we hold one another responsible, we create accountability.

As a leader, the 3 most important questions you can ask to ensure you will set the wheels of  accountability in place are:

*What will you do?
*By when will you do it?
*How will I know?

Next time you have a meeting, be sure you are asking all three of these questions to make sure all the “assignments” really are covered.  You will be amazed at the difference it makes when people truly are held accountable to their deliverables.




#Leadership #Tips #Productivity #Work #Shine #Accountability

Engagement is the Name of the Game

Employee engagement is key!  According to Gallup, around 70% of American workers are either “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” at work. When you consider that the average American will spend at least one-third of his or her life working, this is a particularly sobering statistic!

It’s no secret…engaged people are the more productive, aligned and committed to the cause.  Of course, the opposite is also true.  Where you have indifference or lack of engagement you can watch your brilliant team become mediocre in no time flat.  Engagement is the name of the game.

Here are the 5 foundations to creating an engaged team…one person at a time.

  1. Connection:  it is the foundation to gaining trust.
  2. Being Heard: the most important communication skill is listening…. real listening.  When the other person is doing the talking and feels heard they are naturally engaged!
  3. Compassion: when they see you are concerned, they will care.  If they don’t care, why would they engage?
  4. Contribution: when we feel our contributions matter, we feel valued and being value feeds our soul.
  5. Personal Growth:  nothing kills engagement like boredom!  Challenge your team…raise their bar.

As a leader you can predict your performance based on your team’s level of engagement.  In every aspect of life from work and career, to romance and parenting, your life gets fuller when you engage. Be a passionate engager.

All in,

PS: this formula not only works at home. It applies to creating truly loyal customers too!


Engagement is the key of great leadership

#Leadership #Tips #Engagement #Mindset #Productivity #Work #Business

Everyone Wants to Shine

Everyone wants to shine!  A great way to be a champion of your team’s “shine factor” is to help them feel pride.  When people feel they contribute, they shine.  Think of how you feel when your contribution makes a difference your team.  That pride is contagious.  Here’s three ways to make an impact today:

  1. Find ways that individuals can champion tasks. Everyone feels pride when they take successful ownership of a project, big or small. Then, recognize their efforts and results publicly.
  2. Make sure your employee of the month or other recognition is consistent and substantive. When you honor your people for their specific contribution, others take notice. Keep it authentic, not just going through the motions makes a big difference as well.
  3. Recognize accomplishments outside of work. Give people bragging moments about their life and acknowledge their contributions no matter how big or small. This builds connection with your team, and often gives people perspective into other’s lives that otherwise may not happen.




#Leadership #Tips #Productivity #Work #Shine

Be an Includer. Never Underestimate the Need to Belong.

Are you an includer or excluder?  Includers are the people who rally the team and know how to get things done effectively.  They understand that when people feel valued and included, they participate (pillar 5*) at an entirely different level.  They care more deeply.  They communicate more effectively. They support others with more kindness.

Excluders are people with low self-confidence.  They find their inner power through making others feel small and lack the compassion needed to align people and make big results happen.  They tend to trigger drama and allow gossip to have a voice in the workplace.  They can move things incrementally, but can’t sustain any long term or remarkable success.

People have a need to be included.  They want to be a part of a tribe.  Imagine the power of an organization of committed includers: the way new team members will feel, the synergy it will create, and ultimately the tribe that will become unstoppable.

Never underestimate the need to belong.  Start your mission to be an includer now…

All in,

*Download the Six Pillars of Intentional Leadership HERE

Be the includer
Be grateful for those who raise your bar

Live all in!

#Leadership #Tips #Choices #Mindset #Productivity #Work #Business

Leadership Lessons are Everywhere

7 Leadership Lessons I learned on my Ski Adventure

It has been 7 years since I got back on my boards.  I used to ski a great deal when I lived in Colorado, where I spent a lot of time on what Denverites affectionately call “the hill”.  Recently, I went on a ski trip to Telluride with people I didn’t know well, who all indicated they were frequent skiers…so I began to pray.  Thankfully, most of it came back to me.

Life is full of learning moments and you never know when they will hit you.  So here’s a few of those lessons:

  1. Head trash is the devil. It’s hard to find confidence when the little people in your brain are scaring the crap out of you. Good to note… my pride and limbs are in good shape.
  2. Take a class. You can never learn enough.
  3. Habits can be hard to break and it sometimes takes a little more time than you want.  Hang in there and keep practicing the new and improved ways.  Follow someone who is really outstanding. They are the models you need!
  4. Lean forward – when you sit back on your skis (or laurels) you run the risk of losing real control.
  5. New equipment (resources, competition, etc.) changes the game.  Take time and learn to use new tools (skis have really changed in 7 years)!
  6. When the conditions go south (as in you can’t see through the white out) be humble enough to know when “it’s time to call it a day.”  Some days just don’t work out the way you had hoped.
  7. You never learn anything in your comfort zone…

Challenge yourself today, become a better leader tomorrow.
Challenge yourself today, become a better leader tomorrow.

Live all in!

#Leadership #Tips #Choices #Mindset #Productivity #Work #Business

Beat the competition with this

Everyone in business wants to beat the competition.  Sure, there are many ways to do this, but let’s talk about one thing you can start doing TODAY.  What is it?  Start by your number one asset: your people.  The happiest employees make the happiest and most satisfied customers, and the key to beating the competition.

Of course, there are a lot of ways to ensure your employees are happy.  In our experience one of the most underestimated, but highly motivating & important keys to employee happiness is TRAINING!  When your employees feel confident, they shine.  They also make your customers feel confident in doing business with you.  Again, happy = happy.  Your people want to do a good job.  Make sure you take the time to train them.


  • If you want to keep your customers…. make sure your people know how to do their jobs. Competition is fierce. Choice is prevalent.
  • A highly satisfied customer is six times more likely to buy again.
  • Training doesn’t have to be formal. Even daily 5 minute stand-up meetings can help people understand areas to focus on and improve.
  • Put your money where your mouth is. Make training a piece of the compensation plan. Put a value against the training so people value its worth.



Training is at the heart
From our book, Aspire to Be


#Win #Competition #Training #Fun #Leadership #Tips #Productivity #Work[/fusion_text]

Make the right choice today….be where you want to be tomorrow.

Life is About Choices

Are you living the life and making the choices that reflect who you are or want to be?

Life is about choices. The decisions you make every day reflect the life you get to live.  The quality of your life comes down to your daily actions – the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Of course, we all make our share of bad choices, but our character is defined by how we move through those mistakes and learn from them.

Are you living a life you value?  Are you planning what you want next in your world?  Will this choice have a positive impact? 

Life happens because we are active in it.  No one is responsible for you, but you!

Time to get busy.

All in,

#Leadership #Tips #Choices #Mindset #Productivity #Work #Business

Building a Strong Team Requires This

So how is your connection at work these days?  I’m not talking about the connection of your WIFI – I’m talking about face to face, REAL connection with people.  If you are looking to win the game, then the most important thing to remember is: connection builds teams.

Connection creates a space of mutual engagement and a feeling that “I can trust you…that you have my back.”  When you build connection with others, they know you care.  This will likely form a space of caring and support even in the toughest of moments. Take a look around… who are you connected with and who do you need to engage so you can build a stronger connection?

Leaders take the lead when it comes to connection.  So what’s my #1 advice for starting to connect?  HAVE FUN.  Here are some tips to do just that:

  • Today, find something to make you belly laugh & share it.
  • Stop focusing on what is wrong and focus on what is good.
  • Tomorrow, do one thing that will make your work a lot more fun.
  • If all else fails, buy a joke book and bring it to your meetings. Start the meeting with a good joke and change the entire meeting experience.
  • Cartoons are also a great way to get people engaged.
  • Take note: run is something you choose to create. It isn’t a “committee” and it doesn’t need a director.
  • Do something spontaneously fun at work and see what happens around you.
  • Put fun into your life vs. on your calendar (aka, walk the talk).


Connected, your community is stronger.



#Connection #Culture #Passion #Fun #Leadership #Tips #Meetings #Productivity #Work

How to win the game in business…

Keep Your Eye on the Ball (in business)

While soaking up the sunshine at a recent Spring Training game, I was reflecting on how much business is just like baseball.  It offers lots of options, many decisions, and requires you to play on a team. You can’t win on your own; you don’t lose by yourself. It starts with desire and ends with a variety of powerful experiences.

On a baseball team, you have 9 players on the field at one time but there are lots of other players on the team. Everyone has a role, along with responsibilities that make impact and drive the results of the team. It is not just the 9 players on the field: the coaches, the sports therapists and doctors, the manager(s), the batboy, the field crew, and even the bench all come together for one powerful and common purpose (vision): TO WIN!

Management defines the vision; the coaching team determines the strategies and the players’ job is to execute. In baseball, the mission is about coming together to win each game while entertaining the fans. It is about selling seats, hot dogs and caps and creating energy that energizes an entire community. Everyone contributes, including the fans. It is more than winning the pennant…that symbol of the measurable goal! To get there, a good team and coaching staff knows that maximizing the potential of each player while choreographing the entire team’s efforts gets you to the win.

Whether you win or lose is a reflection of how you play.  While some people play full out, others do not.   As a business leader, it is your job to encourage your team to play ALL IN, together, to win the game.

How to win this game:

  • Choose your team carefully
  • Get everyone in the right position
  • Train hard to condition and prepare to play
  • Practice often to build and hone your skills
  • Know the competition
  • Take calculated risks during the game
  • Move beyond your comfort zone

Let’s touch base soon,

#Leadership #Tips #Baseball #Mindset #Productivity #Work #Business

Want success? Start with passion.

Passion is the energy of your heart, the fuel of your life.  It is the combustion of energy, emotion, and focus and it is at the core of people who shine. Passion is also an emotional state of mind. It drives you to engage and to perform at an outstanding level. Passion gives you the tenacity to persevere when others would quit or play small. Passion makes you consider more. Dare more. Be more. Live more. It allows you to make mistakes and move forward against difficult odds. Passion is unlimited energy and it positions you to achieve extraordinary results.

When you realize that mediocrity makes up 72% of the people in most normal organizations, you come to realize that when you awaken the passion in your people, you have a secret weapon in your toolbox. You know that most people in the room will not play full out. Most will not be willing to put forth the extra effort nor push themselves into unfamiliar territory.  They are unwilling to challenge things in search of better ways. Everyone has passion but many of us are too afraid (or can’t remember how) to tap into it.

Steve Jobs said this about work: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

How to awaken our passion? Passion is not something you have to create. It is something that already exists within you and just needs to be unleashed.
Here are the best ways to tap into your passion:

  1. Work for people who have passion for what they are doing. If you work for a boss that lacks passion, they will generally limit yours.
  2. Avoid passion killers in all walks of your life. Sometimes you just have to fire people. Personally and professionally.
  3. Understand what inspires you, not just what may make you successful. When your work is fulfilling, your passion naturally comes alive and your life is not a struggle.
  4. Use your passion as a motivator. Understand why you are here and how your work supports the bigger purpose. This will allow you to lead yourself and others more effectively. Why is at the heart of why people care. Know your WHY!
  5. Your passion aligns with what you value. Together, they are the light that shines off in the distance and calls to you, helping you when you lose our way.
  6. Make work fun! You don’t need a fun committee(though I was once asked to lead one). Take the lead and just try having some fun! Laugh often and don’t be afraid to laugh loudly. Others will begin to wonder what they are missing.
  7. Try new things. Dare to step out of your comfort zone and experience the many facets of life. Stop doing the same boring things and expecting to feel different!
  8. Never let others tell you that your energy needs to be contained or is a problem for you. Use it to your advantage. This is not to say that obnoxious behavior is acceptable, just that energy is life.
  9. Know that passion is your sword. Regardless of your life events, you can live with passion in a moment’s notice. Just decide to live with passion. Do it now!




# Culture #Passion  #Leadership #Tips #Meetings #Productivity #Work

Successful leadership starts with this.

Getting your Head into the Game Starts with your Mindset

All human beings have one thing in common.  We feel the way we think, and our thoughts drive our behaviors.  Successful leadership starts with a positive mindset.

Everything we do regardless of what it is, begins with how we think and that reflects our truth, and ultimately our mindset.  For example, I know that when I feel excited about working out, I love it and when I don’t, it is the longest 45 minutes of my life.  The head tells the heart how you will participate.  If your head isn’t in the game, you can rest assure those you are leading won’t be in either.

If you want to take your leadership effectiveness up a notch today, check in on your mindset.  Are you positive, engaging and dialed-in?  Remember, you are responsible for the energy you bring in the room.  If you want to your team to be “all in,” then you need to start with having your own head in the game.

Your mindset starts the gears in motion!


#Leadership #Tips #Mindset #Productivity #Work #Business

Building a Great Culture with Employee Recognition

What do successful organizations who have great cultures do?  They take the time for employee recognition.  Whether its’s a quick note, a shout-out in a meeting, or presenting a well-deserved award, people shine when they are encouraged.  People want to know that you believe in them.

Here are three ways to start recognizing employees today:

  1. Send an email recognizing a specific contribution a person has made, and CC the team when you do it. It doesn’t have to be an essay!  Even two sentences that say “Nice work, keep it up!  You are really rocking it this week” is great.
  2. Acknowledge successful results publicly. If someone did outstanding work, let them know!  At Aspire, we finish our staff meeting with “Shout-outs” to recognize peers when they are doing an awesome job – publicly.
  3. Coach employees and share that you know they can generate important results. The more often you coach your people, the more they feel recognized.  This is especially true when you take those moments to show how their work is contributing to the team.

When you take the time to recognize your employees, you will build the rapport that is needed to have a successful culture.  It’s worth the effort, and you will find both the immediate and long-term results are highly impactful



Focus on your people!


# Culture #Innovation #Coaching #Leadership #Tips #Meetings #Productivity #Work

Successful leader trait: Self-confidence


Having strong self-leadership requires a sense of confidence which is much different that ego.  If you are a self-confident leader, you have faith in yourself and your abilities to get the job done right.  You accept constructive criticism, and although you make the final decision, you welcome other’s opinions in order to get the best outcome.

However, ego is all about the “What’s in it for me?” attitude.  Leaders that have a big ego are more likely to step over anyone who gets in their way, are resistant to feedback, and always want to be “right.”  Clearly, this is not a way to be an effective leader!

Be sure that you leave your ego at the door and bring your confident self to the table.  As others are watching and learning from you, modeling a healthy self-confidence is a great way to develop this important leadership attribute among your team.

The Self-Leadership Awareness Quiz

Here are 3 self-reflection questions that will enhance your leadership effectiveness awareness:

1.  How do people feel when I walk into a room
2.  How do people feel when I leave the room?
3.  Do people who report to me tell me the truth?

  1. Practice makes progress
    Practice good meetings


Is it ego or self-confidence?  Be aware… be very aware…


#Leadership #Tips #Confidence #Ego #Productivity #Work

Inspire innovation with your team – three great hacks.

Ready to create the most innovative company in your industry?  It starts with contribution.  People want to contribute.  It increases employee engagement and satisfaction, particularly if ideas are put to use.   Even the smallest ideas can become a part of a brainstorm that turns into significant innovation.

Three ways to inspire innovation within your company:

  1. Create opportunities for people to give: ideas, feedback, knowledge, etc. They can be formal or informal meetings, off-site activities, or dedicated time at the end of a meeting.
  2. Have a weekly topic for emails or ideation box, and get people to contribute their ideas. This is a great way for the introverts to still stay involved.
  3. Challenge your team come up with solutions to a problem through improving a process, customer experience and profitability – all within 30 minutes. You’ll be amazed at their ideas.

As a leader, it is worth the effort to create an environment that fosters innovation.  Take the time and see the results!



All In
Encourage your team to play BIG!


#Innovation #Coaching #Leadership #Tips #Meetings #ProductivityHacks #Productivity #Work

Love Within All You Do

Love never fails.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 New International Version)

Love never fails.

Where there is love…in your home, your relationships, your work, your spirit…. your life is full.

This week, we celebrate and are grateful for LOVE.

Happy Valentine’s Day,
Renie & all of us at Aspire

The only way to do great work is to love what you do
Love is….

#Leadership #Tips #AllIn #Love

Are you a manager or a coach?

If you want to be a better leader, be a coach – NOT a manager!  Those who take the time to learn great coaching skills are far more effective, and get the best results from their people.

Coaching is different from managing. Coaching is about optimizing an individual’s potential.  Managing is the facilitation of people, product and process.  Coaches don’t focus on their ideas; they focus on helping the employee uncover the best solutions.  This is why those who coach have stronger teams, stronger outcomes, and higher revenue.

Great Coaches:

  1. Coach to the employee’s style – not their own.
  2. Don’t judge, tell, or pretend to know all of the answers
  3. Are prepared, have compassion and are fully present.
  4. Create a powerful learning environment – they care how the experience feels.
  5. Don’t let their own crap get in the way of helping a person with their crap.

When we coach instead of manage, we bring out the best in our people, and ultimately our business.

All In


#Coaching #Leadership #Tips #Meetings #ProductivityHacks #Productivity #Work

Leadership and Business Strategy in the “Big Game.”

Leadership Inspiration from the Championship Game……

Every year, like millions of other people, I love to watch the “Big Game.”  Between the stories of the players, the competitiveness of the teams and, of course, the entertainment – there are a lot of great leadership and business strategy lessons to be learned:

  1. Know your opponent.  Their strengths are your proactive defensive strategies.  Their weaknesses are your opportunities to capitalize on.
  2. Preparation and discipline are half the game.  They always pull through in the end.
  3. Never underestimate talent. The more people on your team who play at the truly outstanding level, the more likely you win!  Fill your team with mediocre players, and you won’t make the playoffs.
  4. The head game is always a predictive index.  If you lose your focus or your positive mindset – you lose.  Also, visualizing your success is another key to keeping your mind in the right space.
  5. Entertainment matters.  Making things interesting and engaging for the audience (aka customers) keeps people present, accounted for and buying…and it’s not just the half time show.  Commercials are part of the entertainment package and that’s why companies pay $5.25 million for a 30 second spot!
  6. It always comes down to leadership, on and off the field.  Tom Brady and the rest of the New England Patriots are a perfect example of that.  Their ability to win six championship games is because the team is full of leaders.  Remember – leadership is a behavior, not a position.

Be Daring in leadership - Mediocrity changes nothing!
Go for it!

Is your team playing like the “Big Game” every day?

All in,


#Leadership #Tips #AllIn #Football


High performance leaders are intentional in their approach to leading themselves and others. Leadership is a behavior not a position.  Emotionally engaging leaders have 6 common pillars which allow the work to become more exciting; the environment more empowering and enjoyable; the creative mind more dynamic and curious; the human spirit more open to change; and, the contributions each team member makes gain more value through improved synergy and alignment.


#1 Connection: the ability to connect with others even when things are tough. A feeling that another person can trust you. They care and want to support you. You are in strong, positive rapport with another. Willingness to accept and acknowledge another person even in disagreement. Connection builds trust. Connection is different than chemistry.

#2 Clean Communication: the commitment to say what must be said even though it feels uncomfortable. Saying it in a caring and compassionate way. Not delivering bad news via email or on “the fly.” Real communication is kind, not nice. Listening at levels 2 and 3. Ability to acknowledge what another person is saying. Clean communication is different than clear.

#3 Compassion: caring about the individual – the being – and still honoring the work and contributions they bring to the community. Compassion isn’t just kindness and empathy. It recognizes limitations and avoids putting people into situations where their limitations take them down. Working with another person without being in judgment of them. Lead with compassion and others will feel safe enough to follow, learn and stretch.

#4 Higher Purpose: standing for the greater vision, far beyond financial results. Higher purpose is what your organization is ultimately delivering to its customers and community. This higher purpose allows everyone’s work to be equally valuable to the overall purpose. In an organization that stands for its higher purpose [its heart beat], each person regardless of their place on the “org chart” knows their contribution is vital to an extraordinary client experience and hence their own experience and how they interact with their fellow team members.

#5 Participation: getting everyone on the bus and emotionally engaged. When a person does not feel included in the community, their work will be mediocre at best. Participation is that feeling of being included even when you might not be performing at your best. Helping clean up the mess even if you didn’t make it. Participation is your responsibility to show up and play “all in.”

#6 100% Responsibility: Accountability: owning your tasks and commitments without being chased or directed. Following up and following through with stakeholders. Owning your deliverables and being accountable to them.  Being coachable to learn and grow.  Ultimately responsibility answers the question: “can I count on you?” which is accountability.

The Aspire Learning Model

Here at Aspire, we say that there is a big difference between training and learning.  Training is the delivery of information and knowledge.  It does not create sustainable change.  Learning is different however.  Learning focuses on improving specific competencies and goes beyond just the mere delivery of knowledge.

We know that to build impactful and long lasting learning change you must start with collaboration, integrate research that allows for competitive advantage and innovative thinking, and ultimately make the learning interactive, accountable and energizing.

Here is the approach we take and you can start to apply to your own work:


Training is simply as it is just the delivery of information. This is where a typical training program stops, and Aspire is just getting started. Aspire uses more than just a facilitator and a manual. We integrate real customization so it is easy for the “learner” to apply the knowledge, research that gives our clients a competitive advantage and interactive learning, that we call play, to your people see how the knowledge actually works to improve their work and results.  Research shows that people want to do a good job and we leverage this into our training, or as we call it, learning approach. Play gets participants to think differently, know differently and gets their head into the game, not just into the information.

Training is simply as it is just the delivery of information. This is where a typical training program stops, and Aspire is just getting started. Aspire uses more than just a facilitator and a manual. We integrate real customization so it is easy for the “learner” to apply the knowledge, research that gives our clients a competitive advantage and interactive learning, that we call play, to your people see how the knowledge actually works to improve their work and results.  Research shows that people want to do a good job and we leverage this into our training, or as we call it, learning approach. Play gets participants to think differently, know differently and gets their head into the game, not just into the information.


Aspire shows participants how to apply the knowledge so they can clearly see new opportunities for everyday application. The “Learner” truly grasps the improvement possibilities through practical practice so the actually use the new processes and approaches. Doing is believing and believing is at the foundation of changing a competency.


Demonstration is the key to promoting change and improving competencies within your organization. Each person must be able to clearly demonstrate their ability to perform learned tasks. When a person demonstrates their ability, they are demonstrating the skill that is required to complete the task successfully. This is critical if competency, confidence, pride and enthusiasm are to follow which are the key ingredients for both sustainable change and constant and never-ending improvement.


A new competency means a better, smarter, faster way of getting to the desired outcome.  Competency comes from applying new knowledge, understanding its application and practice.  Practicing in a safe learning environment is important to helping your people feel good about making change and improving their skills and results. You have to change competencies to get a different result.


This is when people really perform. Confidence is knowing that you know. When a person is both highly competent and has high confidence, you will find that they understand the task at hand and are able to use it effortlessly to its full intended purpose.

Pride & Enthusiasm

Imagine the ability to tap into a person’s real potential. Now multiply that by 10, or 100. When there is pride and enthusiasm, people will naturally want to know more and ask more productive questions.  This person is now on a self-guided path to endless improvement.

Let’s GO!

It’s time to start your journey! Contact us today to schedule your custom learning programs: Sales, Reservations, Call Centers, Customer Service, Leadership and more.

Keep learning

Three tips for better communication – even if you’re the boss

People want to hear from the boss.  Communication is a key element of leadership, and it’s something you definitely need to make the effort to do daily.  Here are three great tips for better communication that you can start TODAY!

1.  Create an internal blog that is from your President or COO. Get people sharing and talking.  The more personal you make it – the better.  Don’t be afraid to share, and even be a little vulnerable.  It makes you real.

2.  Walk around the business and spark conversations.  Too often, we get stuck behind the desk, which keeps us disconnected.

3.  Ask people what they think. They will tell you.  Do your best to make it a habit to ask open ended questions such as “What do you think we could do to make this better?” Or, “What are your thoughts….?”  This inspires clean communication.

These ideas are simple ways to get started, but it takes time to develop open communication.  The best thing to do – start TODAY!



#Communication #Leadership #Tips #Meetings #ProductivityHacks #Productivity #Work

To Meet or Not to Meet…..That is the Question + Four Meeting Hacks

The Meeting Dilemma.  In most organizations, everyone feels they have to attend too many meetings that eat up our workdays.  So, how do we solve this?  Make meetings productive.

Meetings should be about thinking time.  What are we focused on?  What business problems do we need to solve?  What are customers saying to us that we need to think about?  How can we leverage this market opportunity? What obstacles are in our team members’ way and how can we remove them?

The best way for leaders to get the most out of meetings and people’s brains, is to ensure that they are about thinking and solving business problems together, not regurgitating information.


Team Self-Reflection

Give your meeting members the following quiz to see how effective your meetings are, and their value:

  • Does the meeting start and end on time?
  • Do people respect each other enough to respect the time and preparation required for the meeting to run effectively?
  • Does the meeting have a clear outcome/purpose?
  • Is there someone designated to send a timed, specific agenda 48 hours prior to the meeting?
  • Are things that need to be reviewed at the meeting shared in advance?
  • Is there a visual timer (use an IPAD) and timekeeper to keep the meeting on track? Do participants respect the thankless timekeeper job?
  • Does someone keep a “bin” for things that fall outside of the meeting agenda or that need to be addressed at some other time, have a place to live?
  • At the end of the meeting do participants report out on what they will do and by when, so there is an accountability to follow up in place?


4 BIG Tips for Productive Meetings

  1. Skip minutes (it gives those not taking them an excuse not to listen).   

    Practice makes progress
    Practice good meetings
  2. Have agreements about squirreling, repeating, tardiness and general meeting commitments.
  3. Keep a timed agenda. It will keep your more accountable and help you from running late or not addressing everything that is on the agenda.
  4. Start with the hard stuff upfront. Leaving it to the end means you won’t get to it.


Let’s meet soon…Renie


#Leadership #Tips #Meetings #ProductivityHacks #Productivity #Work

Thinking First Matters Most – Take the Time

As proactive as we may want to be, the reality is stuff happens…. and the world tends to shift us into a reactive mode.  Welcome to living a life of endless “urgent and important” in leadership.

Thinking is a critical part of every job.  It doesn’t matter what the position is, we bring our best value when we are thinking, and the more proactively we think, the better.

The benefits of thinking are endless. Thinking allows you to feel grounded in your direction and more confident in your decisions.
It ensures you stay more proactive and less overwhelmed when you are thrown into those inevitable
reactive realities of your world.

How much time do you and your teammates spend thinking and preparing?
By taking the time to think, we improve productivity while lessening mistakes and redundancy….plus, it feels good.

I had a boss years ago put it to me this way: “Renie, I pay you to think and then do…thinking first matters most!”
Honestly, it rocked my world and to this day I plan time every Sunday to think and plan.

Something to think about…

All in,

#Thinking #Time #Proactivity #Plan #TimeManagement #Leadership #LeadershipTips


If You Don’t Take a Break, a Break Will Take You

Us “Type – A’s” are doers.  We tend to be highly focused, passionate, and driven to achieve.  It’s a gift but it can also be a curse.

Over the years, I have learned that taking a day here or there is not enough to refresh the mind, body, and soul.  Creativity cannot exist in exhaustion.  Our ability to listen weakens when fatigue creeps in. We become less interested in thinking and tend to focus more on moving, faster and faster.  Of course, this pace is unsustainable and the frantic energy brews into a storm where destruction is lurking close by.


Recommendations on How to Keep Your Mind, Body and Soul at Their Best in 2019:
  1. Take a 3 to 5 days and do nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  Warning: for the type-A’s, this may cause high levels of stress.  Push through it!
  2. Learning is key to keeping the brain active and imagining.  At least twice a year, take time to go to an educational event. Spend time listening, learning, and thinking – not doing.
  3. Travel is good for the soul.  It opens your mind, palate, and energizes your being.  Plan your next adventure now so you have something to look forward. This will help to protect your time.  Remember time is always moving forward, and there are continuously things (including people) looking to steal yours.


When your mind, body and soul are at their best, so are your work, relationships, and creativity.  This year, take time to relax, regroup, and reinvigorate.  Breathe in. And then, turn it all back on.


Remember: If you don’t take a break, a break will take you. 


Live big. Dream big. Enjoy your life big.

Play BIG,


#mindbodysoul #takeabreak #beyourbestself #2019goals


5 Ways to Capture More Joy in 2019

This is your year, and if you want more joy, it’s time to rally!

Follow these tips to get more joy out of your life.

  1. First, Stop being afraid.  Fear, like joy, is something we create, but unlike joy, it tends to limit us.  Fear can suck the life out of you and is a drain on your joy…  STOP FEAR NOW!
  2. Did you know that we become like the people we spend time with? Do you have people in your life who support you? If this question makes you uncomfortable, you need to take a look around you and change the company you keep.
  3. Find someone each week to thank for their support, kindness, or generosity towards you.  Be specific in what you share.  Giving joy creates more joy.
  4. Are you working with people who are committed to your development? There is something special when we know that others see our potential and value us enough to give their time and coaching to.
  5. Live your life from a perspective of focusing on what is right and building on it.  Many times, we focus on what is wrong with our work, relationships, thoughts, or behaviors. When we recognize what is right, we feel grateful and can build from there.


Happy 2019.  Please…

Go spread some joy!


Keep Inspiring Others,




#joy #gratitude #thankful #2019 #stopbeingafraid

Turn on your 2019 Motivational Switch

A New Year can be overwhelming. It can be daunting to think of the challenges you face in your life, and how you want to grow, succeed, and prosper. Sometimes our goals can be so big that facing them can be intimidating. Here I share my 3 tricks for turning on the motivation and setting yourself up for success.

  1. First, break down those big goals. Think of your big goals as preparing to run a marathon… the best way to prepare for a marathon is to up your running routine one mile at a time. Watching yourself progress can be motivating.
  2. If you are adding something to your life, what are you letting go? You have to make room for the new things (including people, hobbies, personal time…) to give yourself enough space to grow.
  3. Cut out people and things that haven’t brought you joy in the last 6 months. Waiting for others to change is a waste of your time and energy. The only change you can control is your choice.

WRAP UP: Only you have the key to turn on your motivational switch

Keep inspiring others,

Leading with Compassion

What I have learned (and for the record, seem to keep learning… darn it!) about compassion and leadership…

  • You can’t lead effectively without compassion.
  • You can only push people so much.  At some point, they will shut down and shut you out.
  • Be wary of judging others.  It minimizes their potential and clouds your perspective on their gifts.
  • Love is underrated in leadership.  When people know you care deeply, they are less afraid, more engaged, and open to unlocking their potential… if they choose.

WRAP-UP: In 2019, let’s lead with more love and compassion.  It isn’t just being kind, its good business.


Keep inspiring others,




#love #compassion #leadership #caredeeply

What I Know About Change…

As the end of 2018 barrels towards us, it is important to begin thinking critically about the past year. Our accomplishments, our failures, what held us back from making progress, how can we move forward, etc… We may even begin to realize that what may have held us back was ourselves, our own actions, our own behavior. That realization may be painful, but it is necessary to carve a new path forward. If you display negative thoughts or behaviors, it is necessary to Change….

  1. People change when they want to and only then.
  2. People are perfect as they are, but they may not be perfect for you.
  3. The only change you can control is changing your choice.
  4. If you are waiting for others to change, please, stop hallucinating.  You can inspire people to consider change, but ultimately only they can make the final choice to change their behavior.
  5. Leading change is rewarding work.  It is work that, done effectively, requires foresight, patience, commitment, focus, and tenacity to stay on course. Especially since there is always someone who wants to get you off-track!
  6. Beware of procrastination.  Decide on the changes you want or need and then get fanatical about moving forward.  Every step is progress.  Don’t undervalue it, always celebrate it!
  7. If you think change is hard to do…imagine how hard it can be when it forcibly happens to you.  Be proactive towards change, or be ready for a rough and usually difficult, reactive ride.
  8. The higher your connection and engagement with people during change, the easier and faster the transition will be.
  9. Know that someone will always be opposed to changes.  Consider their perspective: weigh the effect of the change on them in terms of their significance and needs vs the needs of the whole organization.  The whole is always more important than any one part.
  10. If you can’t facilitate proactive change, the effectiveness of your leadership is limited.


Change can be painful.  Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid the pain of change, but you can minimize it!  Remember, being unable to change what needs to be changed is always more painful than accepting the changes you need to make.


Keep inspiring others,



#change #2019 #perspective

10 Easy Ways to Improve your Communication

We all know that communication can help or hurt relationships and yet frequently we don’t take the time to ensure our communication is landing as we intended.

Here are a few tips on ways to raise your communication bar:

  1. Talk less, listen more
  2. Stop sending emails and texts with bad or embarrassing news. A great self-leadership rule is: If you wouldn’t want to receive the email you probably shouldn’t send it!
  3. Give those closest to your customer a platform to be heard. Take them to lunch. You will be surprised what you don’t know!
  4. Clear communication is frequently ineffective communication. You want clean communication. (Click here to read an exert from Aspire to Lead)
  5. Avoid secrets. Someone always finds out and it isn’t clean.
  6. If you want to stop someone from repeating themselves over and over, acknowledge what they have said. People repeat themselves because they don’t feel heard.
  7. When it comes to email and text know that you can’t control how the message is received and though sending communication electronically may be efficient it is rarely effective. Email should be used for information purposes, updates, or positive recognition only.
  8. Mind contact means you are truly listening to understand what is being said and present in the conversation.  Anyone, including a 5-year old, can make/fake eye contact.
  9. If someone isn’t present in a conversation, don’t bother having it. They won’t hear it. Why waste your time?
  10. An effective conversation is a dialogue not a monologue. If you are the only one talking, you are probably the only one listening.

Bonus TIP!

Want to be a stronger communicator? Spend more time in face-to-face communication as this is how you engage with people and increase the likelihood that they are listening. Listening, or lack thereof, is the #1 reason you have misunderstandings or upsets with others. If people aren’t nearby use Zoom or another visual technology or dial the phone so you can have real conversations with people. Remember, words only account for 7% of what the other person hears. Why would you risk having your communication potentially being misunderstood 93% of the time? Bad odds!

Let’s talk soon,

Your Mind Predicts Your Success

Head Trash…we all get it. Some people choose to live in it. It is the leading killer of potential and more importantly of JOY. 

So, what do you do when you find yourself stuck in it?

Head trash is a mindset issue. The fact is: you feel the way you think and your thoughts determine how you will act. Your mind is the great predictor of where you will put your energy and how you will engage in your life.

You feel the way you think and your thoughts determine how you will act.

Are you stuck? Here are 3 tips on how to shift your mindset and get your mojo back where your real potential lives:

  1. Negativity attracts negativity. It is the law of energy. Stop hanging with naysayers and people who puke all over everything. They suck your joy and leave you head full of doubt and limitations. This includes people you live with…
  2. Start everyday with “what’s right” and build from there. When you see what is possible you move towards it. When you see nothing is possible you do nothing. The thing about doing nothing is, it gets you nothing.
  3. Listen to yourself. Your self-talk (those little people in your head) can support you or hurt and limit you. Understand your self-limiting beliefs and how to live in the connecting side of your brain. Click here to download the four Self-Limiting Beliefs.

Your actions tell the world who you are.

Life isn’t about what we say, it is about what we do and how we live. You were put on this earth to do great things…get busy and get your head into the game. It’s what makes you the extraordinary being you were born to be.

Play all in,


Aspire would like to thank The International Stevie Awards for Women in Business for choosing us as winners of the Bronze award for Innovation in Business at last week’s New York City Gala. Most importantly, we thank you: our clients, friends, families, and partners, for being a part of our lives. Thank you for pushing us to continuously raise the bar.

Are you a dreamer?


When is the last time you stopped, closed your eyes, and really thought about what is next in your life? Next in your career? What are your dreams?

“What you focus on comes true.”

Dreams help us visualize what we want in our future. They move us towards what we value for ourselves. When we have dreams, we place our mind in a space that allows us to manifest them.

If you really want your dreams to come true, I suggest writing them down. This creates front-of-mind awareness, and naturally positions you to work towards them. Remember: what you focus on comes true. As you think through your dreams, you will begin to see opportunities that align with them, and you will be surprised at how readily they begin to present themselves.

When you stop dreaming, you limit your potential. And without dreams, your dreams won’t come true.

Dream BIG,


Aspire would like to thank The International Stevie Awards for Women in Business for choosing us as winners of the Bronze award for Innovation in Business at last week’s New York City Gala. Most importantly, we thank you: our clients, friends, families, and partners, for being a part of our lives. Thank you for pushing us to continuously raise the bar.


What Are You Grateful For?

With Thanksgiving this week, it’s a good time for us to think about all of the things we are grateful for.

Here are 10 Things I’m Grateful For:

  1. My health…it’s really the whole deal!
  2. My daughter, Bella, who bring love, light and joy into my world every day. It’s incredible!
  3. The people who love me even when I’m not at my best. Thank you for that…
  4. My family. I come from a passionate bloodline. We are “all in” kind of people. My favorite kind of people.
  5. My ex-husband. We are a great parenting team. It makes everyone’s life happier and easier.
  6. Wanderlust. The gift of travel has been in my blood since I was 2 camping with my family. I don’t camp anymore but I sure do love the world, other cultures, different food and interesting people.
  7. Writing. It just makes me happy. It makes me think, turns on my imagination, takes me to creative places and helps me stay curious about life. My writing also turns on my love of reading. Learning inspires me.
  8. Cooking. I love to cook for others. Hanging with them and eating a meal together is a gift every time. I never tire of it.
  9. Friendship. Friends are the family we choose. Great ones help us through the hard times, laugh with us in the best of times and support us as we find the best within ourselves.
  10. My work. I love my work. I have had the privilege of working at Aspire for 24 years and I still find it interesting, challenging, emotionally engaging and I love the people I get to hang with every day. With my attention deficit…24 years is truly remarkable. Thank you all for that!

Happy Thanksgiving.

Live in Gratitude,  Renie

We follow the leaders we love…

We follow the leaders we love…

Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.”   ~Robert Frost

Remember, when your people feel deeply connected, they participate in their life (and work!) with a different level of commitment. Don’t forget: connection builds rapport; rapport builds trust; and the intimacy of trust allows us to be emotionally engaged.

This week, try showing people you care by acknowledging their behavior and contribution. You can do that by either word or actions…recognize work in front of others, give credit on projects, write a thank you note, or simply smile and say thank you.

All in,

5 Perspectives that Drag you Down

  1. Negativity is not a platform for change, it depletes energy and limits our ability to see what is possible.
  2. You can’t shine if you don’t have the mindset, skill set or processes that allow you to do a job, of any kind, well. Shiners are competent and fanatical about learning.
  3. Stop waiting for others to inspire you or teach you. Decide what you want and why, this is at the heart of turning on your motivational switch. If you aren’t turned on you can’t shine.
  4. Choosing not to engage in your life passionately. Engagement and enthusiasm are at the heart of shining, your energy is like electricity and it lights others up.
  5. Living without gratitude limits your shine. Gratitude and our compassion to help others serves not just others but enlightens our soul. Live “all in”.

All in,

#Positivity #Mindset #BeaShiner


Interested in a leadership learning platform that develops leaders, strengthens cultural alignment, and builds talent bench strength? Click here to inquire about the NEW Leadership365.

Beware of the Energy Suckers…

Beware of the Energy Suckers…The Pukers

I recently was reminded of the impact of the energy suckers in my life. I couldn’t find what was draining my energy. What was limiting my creativity which has always been like a faucet for me, I turn it on and it flows. Who had my controls?

I looked up and there it was…the Puker was smiling at me but quietly putting their negativity all around me and those I care about. I felt myself withdraw and walking on eggshells around them, I felt the energy in my world slow down and shift.

Accepting that others impact our world so directly is hard, especially when we care. Sometimes we don’t realize this quiet drain. Of course, intellectually it is easy to understand that if people can impact our world positively they can also drain our lives with negativity. We cannot control the road they are on, we can only choose our own path and mind set. The choice requires action.

Having the courage to walk away, let go, and accept this reality allowed me to regain my spirit and my energy…

We are always choosing our life’s course, directly or indirectly. Check in with your world…are you surrounded by people who feed your soul or deplete it? Is it time to make a few changes?

You are the captain of your ship and the navigator of your life.

All in,

#shineyourlight  #stopnegativitynow  #positivityfuelsprogress

Interested in a leadership learning platform that develops leaders, strengthens cultural alignment, and builds talent bench strength? Click here to inquire about the NEW Leadership365.

Is Intentional Leadership a Priority for You?

Are you making intentional leadership a priority?

High performance leaders are intentional in their approach to leading themselves, others and the communities they work in.

Emotionally engaging leaders have 6 common behaviors (pillars) that they are intentionally focused on. These pillars create organizational alignment and makes:

  • the work more exciting
  • the environment more empowering and enjoyable
  • the creative mind more dynamic and curious
  • the human spirit more open to change
  • each team member feel their contributions are more valuable through improved synergy and engagement

If you would like a “CliffsNotes” version of the 6 Pillars for Intentional Leadership, click here.

Everyone leads as leadership is a behavior not a position.

Never underestimate the power of your leadership.

Lead with intention,

#Leaders #IntentionalLeadership


Interested in a leadership learning platform that develops leaders, strengthens cultural alignment, and builds talent bench strength? Click here to inquire about the NEW Leadership365.

Faith is Fuel

Faith is an interesting perspective. Some attach it to religion while others align with the word from a spiritual perspective. Regardless of your take, I am inspired by the Head Coach of the Croatian Football (soccer) team when they played in the World Cup Finals. It was a gift in my life to be in Croatia at the time of the game; to watch the Head Coach as he stood proudly believing in his team until the final whistle was blown.
I have a thing for great coaching. Coach Zlatko Dalic, highly focused, having been a player himself, knew first-hand what it means to have a coach that believes. It takes a unique perspective and person, who has the mind power, to believe with certainty, something is possible when so many doubt.

Let’s take a step back and look at the resources. Croatia is a small country that didn’t even exist 30 years ago, it isn’t a wealthy country with the financial resources to buy players or underwrite huge football team resources. So how did they beat England in the semifinals, a far stronger team with greater resources?

It’s a David and Goliath story, though they didn’t win the World Cup, their great journey speaks to their team’s spirit. Spirit is always a reflection of great coaching at all levels of a team from head coach to team members.
It is about believing. Believers are driven differently than non-believers, they have passion, focus, and a sense of faith that they can do it. Believers are inspirers, they don’t let the naysayers get in the way. They tune out those who don’t share their vision or drive.

As I say: “Get on board or get out of the way!”

Faith is not a strategy for success. Faith is the fuel that gets our tank running on high octane and helps us believe that what we deserve can be ours. If we are willing to do what it takes and believe that everything you need is within.

All in,

#believer #shine #faith

10 Travel Lessons…That Make for Good Life Lessons

Constantly traveling, I have found many ways that my traveling lessons make for good life lessons too.

Here is how I have applied them:

  1. Hang with people you like and respect. Life’s a journey and it’s more fun with like-minded people.
  2. Find something to laugh about every day. Laughter lightens our load!
  3. Say you’re sorry when you make a mistake and move on. Worry never gives you a return on your time investment.
  4. Let go of annoyances, they suck your energy and your energy is your fuel.
  5. Be thoughtful, this is someone else’s world. Appreciate it.
  6. Be aware of cigarette smokers. They may be addicted, and they literally pollute the world and steal your oxygen.
  7. Pack light, if you need it you can buy it!
  8. Arriving 15 minutes early saves you stress and time.
  9. It helps to have lodging on the 1st and last night, let the rest of the trip unfold. Be careful not to over plan or you miss out on the unknown adventures that are waiting for you.
  10. Enjoy diversity. There is a lot to see and do that is different than what you know. The world is an interesting place…get out there and live it!

All in,

#wanderlust #livelifetravel

You Win, or You Learn

Thomas Edison had over 1,000 “learnings” to create the light bulb. Edison didn’t create it because it came to him and presto “there was light”. Edison was unwilling to stop until he got the result he knew was possible and in doing so he changed our lives forever. If you want to leave a lasting legacy are you willing to push through the learning?

Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

Not everyone has this learning mentality to fanatically seek progress and innovation. Here’s a look at the 4 types of mind sets that set the tempo of your life and legacy.

  1. The Progress Suckers: Those that see what is wrong and live with it, they hope things will change but they are unwilling to do what it takes to stand up and make progress happen.
  2. The History Holders: Those that live in the past, they hold tightly to the past and limit the possibilities for tomorrow. The past is over folks. It can teach us, but it does not define the potential of our future.
  3. The Spirit Takers: Those that stir the pot and talk about other people, they are the drama seekers. They undermine others to boost their own spirit never realizing that their negativity only limits their own potential as well as those around them.
  4. The Learner Champions: Those that imagine what is possible and are willing to make it happen regardless of the trips and falls along the way. They are curious about how to take things to their next level, they push for progress and stand for what they believe is possible.

Our willingness to push through our disappointments is of one mind set. When we focus on the outcome that we believe in and an absoluteness that we will get there we have a different experience and result than when we focus on what is wrong.

Greatness lives in our willingness to push forward. To dare convention. To imagine new possibilities. To have the courage to not let the naysayers slow us down.

You are creating your legacy every day. You were born extraordinary. It’s solely up to you to live extraordinary.

All in,

#learnerchampionsrock #dareconvention

5 Things that Limit your Potential to Shine

It’s a great thing to find your shine, now make sure you keep it by avoiding these 5 things that limit your potential to continue to shine:

  1. Shine requires happiness. Apathy sucks all joy. Avoid apathy and the pukers who suck your energy. Even if you have to “fire” the people around you. Life is too short to live with sorrow and anxiety!
  2. Stop waiting for someone else to turn on your motivational switch. YOU are the only switch operator and for the record, you can’t motivate anyone but yourself.
  3. Allowing fear to rule your world. Fear is an illusion the little people in our heads (self-talk) make up. Squash fear and you will see your own potential screaming to get out and shine.
  4. Blame and shame. Your life and your misery is no one’s fault. Have the courage to own your life. Your life reflects your choices. You can change anything in a nanosecond by making a different choice.
  5. Your environment will inspire you to shine or not. You can still shine in an uninspiring environment you just have to create your own little world.


All in,

If you want different results you have to ask different questions…

It’s that time of year…the annual planning session is bearing down on us.

Here are eight strategic planning topics to talk to your leaders about as you begin to explore how to grow your market share and financial performance in 2019. Take one question at every staff meeting. Give it some real thinking time.

  1. What can we learn from our competition?
  2. How will we differentiate our service experience in 2019?
  3. What areas of our service delivery or sales efforts are falling short and what training and support do we need to improve our performance in 2019?
  4. What is our client retention strategy?
  5. Where do we have process improvement opportunities?
  6. What are our margins telling us about how we are running our business?
  7. How can we improve our sales and marketing efforts to drive top line performance?
  8. If we owned this business, what would we do differently in 2019?

Make 2019 a fantastic year…

All in,


Leaders, Listen and Learn

Listen and Learn. Your employees are the voice of your operational realities. They are your eyes and ears of your guest experience and give you foundational insights into your real SWOT (Strengths. Weaknesses. Opportunities. Threats.)

Here are three questions to ask your employees. Invite them in small groups to meet with you and just listen and learn.

  1. What is one thing that slows you down or gets in your way to delivering better customer service?
  2. When you experience a disappointed guest, what are they upset about?
  3. If you owned this business how would you make it better?

Make 2019 a fantastic year…

All in,



Click Here for more info about our programs!

What do you wish you could tell your younger self?

There are things we all wish we knew when we were younger. Here’s my list…

  1. Be a Believer. It’s going to be an extraordinary journey.
  2. Effort matters A LOT more than anyone says it does
  3. Find your tribe. You aren’t everyone’s flavor and that’s okay. Your people will lift you.
  4. You won’t be a bag lady.
  5. Be you. It’s better than a fake version of someone you are supposed to be.
  6. Don’t worry so damn much.
  7. Parenting is harder than it looks. Have a baby later in life; it’s better for you. You need to know yourself first and your friends with parenting experience will help you focus on what matters most. (I did this and thank you to all my girlfriends who have helped me be a better mama!) #mostimportantjob
  8. People will come into your life and people will leave your life. Learn why as soon as possible. Otherwise, you get to experience it over and over and over again until you learn the life lesson. Try not to repeat the same class!
  9. Your character is defined by how you treat people in your best moments and how you treat them in their worst. Never forget this!
  10. Real friends matter. It isn’t in the number…it’s in the intimacy. Ultimately your real relationships live in your willingness to share the 5% you really don’t want to share. Let people know you. You’ll be surprised!

Now, please send me something you wish you knew then!

All in,




Do I have to change?

Change happens in one of two ways:

It either happens to you (others are controlling it) or it happens with you (where you find a way to lead or influence it and you choose to have a voice in it).

Regardless of which way it happens, we all have to deal with change. It is required for growth and evolution and is happening every day.

Have you seen a dinosaur recently?

How about “You’ve got mail!”?

Evolve or die!

Here are some ways to deal with change even when it feels uncomfortable or downright wrong from your perspective:

  1. Accept your fear and remember: fear is an illusion that lives in your darkest place
  2. Take a look inside and see if old beliefs are limiting beliefs. Times change. Are you staying current or are you holding on to a past that has passed?
  3. Find what’s right about the change. Move from what is possible.
  4. Think about how you can be a part of the change so you are influencing it verses standing against it

All in,





Love Matters Most

The gift of love imprints us like nothing else.

It makes us stronger when we let it. It allows us to explore who we are and gives us the strength to be who we can become. When we love unconditionally, we are at risk. Love and loss live in the same place and we get one with the other. It’s a package deal.

As I reflect on George and Barbara Bush, I can only imagine their amazing highs and lows together. Life wasn’t always a picnic and they made it through the journey because they chose respect and intentional connection—the power that fuels love and intimacy.

Intimate love is like glue. It binds us together.

It helps us find our way through life’s inevitable storms. It gives us a safe place to be both our best—and our worst—selves.

I think love enhances our lives. It makes us strive to be better than we actually are. Love raises our bar. It demands that we show up and look deeper.

Love gives. Love takes. Ultimately, love is all there is.

Love is what matters most.



Are you burning yourself out?

We have all been there…

Your inner drive kicks in. You are loving what you are doing. You are in your success zone and your inner power is in full throttle. Before you know it, you are on fire…in a good way!

Face it, if you are reading my tips you are a performer. A doer. And doers love the zone. It’s invigorating. Big things are happening. The mind is focused, engaged and hyper-energized. And, the truth is you have to manage the zone or eventually burnout comes knocking at your door.

It’s a fine line for me. I love my zone. It’s fuel! In it, I am more creative, more innovative and optimally, more productive.

But the mach-10 pace is unsustainable and the side effects are treacherous.

For me, a clear sign is when my communication gets sloppy because I’m moving too fast. My mind tends to be overly output-focused and little things start to bother me. Don’t dare get in the way as things are moving so fast it can be hard to slow down quickly! You with me?

Slow Down


I know that if I don’t slow it down and regroup, I will burn out.

Burnout is dangerous! It takes away our perspective and worse yet, our joy. It actually makes us and those around us less productive. Burnout steals our ability to be grateful, to live in the moment, or enjoy the ride. We are just too busy!

What to do?

For me, I throw it into neutral and glide a bit. I catch my breath, look around, and regroup. I go back to my real goals and deliverables and get my time and energy realigned with them.

As you may know, I love to write. After I wrote aspire…to lead followed by aspire…to shine,  I hit the speaker circuit. It was invigorating until it wasn’t. Two books and more than 20 gigs in less than 26 months was just too much.

I have enjoyed finding my center again. I feel my creative side back in full bloom. I am remembering every day how lucky I am to love what I do, who I do it with, and the beautiful life I have.

The truth is burnout doesn’t look good on anybody.

Burnout doesn’t live in The Shiner’s House!

All in,



Read this!

Here are some things we know about reading


  • Triggers your mind
  • Expands your ideas
  • Engages your emotions
  • Challenges your perspectives

People who don’t read are as challenged and perhaps even as ignorant as people who cannot read.

My Challenge to You: Please reply to this email to share with me a book or article you recently read and one takeaway that made it worth your time. Then I have more for my reading list!

In the meantime, if you are looking for a couple of books to add to your list, try one of my favorites:

Off Balance by Matthew Kelly

Being off balance in work and life is normal and smart. What a relief!

Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

Focus on the blue ocean. Most companies live and focus on the red ocean…death.

Conscious Capitalism by John Mackey and Raj Sisodia

Higher purpose, stakeholder integration, conscious leadership, conscious culture and management help build strong businesses.

Traction by Gino Wickman

Fundamentals matter. Know who you are.

All in,


#beathinker #readmore

Fire Prevention

So often in life we are drawn into what is next on our never-ending To Do List verses what is most important.

Many of us have become such extraordinary fire fighters (reactive focus) that we have lost our way with fire prevention (proactive focus). If it’s on fire, we tend to run towards it and we can get swallowed up in it.

Next time you are feeling overwhelmed or fed up with your list, stop and regroup.

Prioritizing the work (both at work and home) allows you to pay deliberate attention to what work you should really focus on. Organization helps you escape those feelings of being overwhelmed and chaos is frequently at the heart of feeling like you are swimming against the current.

Once you realize that your To Do list is agile and that you actually can control it, you will realize you’ve got this!

All in,


#getorganizeddaily  #beintentional

The 1 Thing

I was recently asked, “As a leader, what is the one thing…the one must I should focus on everyday regardless of all other things happening around me?”

It was a brilliant question.  It got me thinking…for days and days.

I considered a lot of things:

  • Great strategy
  • Inspiring culture
  • Hiring people who are smarter than me at the stuff they are doing for our team
  • Hanging with smart people period (as much as possible—I’m always hoping their smart energy rubs off on me!)
  • Making the work place a happy place
  • Having people to think and go deep with
  • Training people so they are so competent and optimal at their work…their confidence shines through and makes them feel amazing
  • Keeping “crap” in perspective

My list was longer. Finding the one thing took weeks!

In the thick of my thinking, I was interviewed by a reporter who asked me, “What is the most important thing about behavior change?”  It, too was an intriguing question.

My response:

  • Behavioral change is organizational change.
  • It’s the key to constant and never-ending improvement.
  • It allows for constant competitive advancement (which is better than a competitive advantage).
  • Behavioral change evolves people and the organizations they play in. It makes important shit happen.

The answer to that original question: 

What’s the 1 Thing?


The seed to engagement lies in your culture and its alignment…the energy towards its mark on the world. But it isn’t about the leader, it’s about ourselves.

How we engage in our life, our work, and our world defines everything.

All in,



Creative Environments are Smarter Environments

Don’t think of creativity as an ability to draw, paint, or design. Think of creativity as the ability to think and see things differently. We all have it in us.

As leaders we have to be intentional and create moments to think and inspire.

Here are a few ideas for you to enhance the creative thinking on your team:

  1. Messaging.  Think of creativity and inspiration like an endless drip campaign. I had a client that reminded people of their amazing culture through a poster campaign in their bathroom stalls. Honestly, it was awesome! Their read factor in the bathroom was higher than their company Facebook page! And more importantly, it inspired people to think and create because the messaging was compelling…not to mention people-focused. What else do you focus on?
  2. Push out interesting articles to your team and ask, “What is the major idea you gained from this article and how can we leverage it in our work product(s)?” Creativity requires an active mind. Thinking matters when it comes to creativity. Create those moments.
  3. Once a month at your staff meeting, present a business problem or revenue opportunity and make this request: “With a partner, think about how we can leverage this situation to benefit our customers and our market position.” Thinking in small teams helps. Recently I was working on a brand strategy and thought I knew where it needed to go until the two other people shared ideas I had never considered. Together we created something special. Damn, it felt good!

We were all told false stories in our lives. I was certain I was bad at math until I was exposed to how data told a story. Looking at math through that view finder changed me and I became a strategist. Generally speaking, I actually am not bad at math and analytics! Who knew?

Likewise, I was always told I was creative. I thought it was about painting (I paint occasionally) but I have to tell you…quitting my day job is not a good option!


Creativity comes in all shapes and sizes. Open up your team’s view finder. You won’t believe what they will create.

All in,



Your vibe is your tribe

I am blessed to hang with my fellow aspirates every day.

Don’t get me wrong…things hit the fan. People can sometimes drive me crazy. Pettiness pisses me off and mistakes happen.

Then I step back and remember I would rather spend time with this tribe any day than with any other. Nothing is perfect. No one is without limitations. These people are the best of the best and I am lucky to stand beside them.

Perspective matters when you are on a team, whether it is a 2-person team (like your partner) or a 1000-person organization!

The right perspective is “How do I enhance the world today?”

When you are feeling like you need a reality check, instead consider a perspective check:

Questions to check yourself:

  • How will I inspire myself and others today?
  • What do I love about my work? How does it serve my purpose?
  • How do my teammates make me better?
  • How can I give and inspire today?


Take one action right now and feel the shift. Action is empowered change. Do nothing and you get nothing!

Leaders always find a way to intentionally create the vibe of positivity and progress.

All in,



It’s all about the motivational switch

We all have one. Our motivational switch.

Your motivational switch only has one operator…you.

As a leader we have to accept that though we may see someone with potential, they have to turn on their switch. We can only create an environment where they choose to turn it on. For those that don’t, their work product lives in mediocrity. Even if they show great results, their mindset and negativity (no matter how disguised) impacts everyone around them. This means that others get dragged down by this negativity.

FACT: If you pay people, you deserve their commitment and engagement. To get people to play “all in” you have to create an environment that inspires and creates a sense of value in their contributions…one that allows them to emotionally connect to your company’s why and be a positive force in the workplace. That’s the leader’s job.

But we all know that not everyone wants to play “all in” and that some just don’t fit your culture. Some people just can’t get onboard or when they do, they still don’t turn it on. It’s time to part ways.

Understand their unhappiness isn’t about you, it’s about their mindset…their desires or disappointments. It doesn’t make them wrong or bad—just mis-fitted for your team. Respect that this is their choice and move on.

Unhappy people need to work someplace else.

Everyone’s motivation comes from within. You can inspire people but you don’t control their switch.  Just as people choose their mindset and perspective, they also choose when to turn on their motivational switch. As a leader, it is hard sometimes as we see the potential of a person and yet we have to accept that their attitudes or levels of commitment are controlled by them.

Only you can turn on your motivational switch—no one else’s. If you have children, you know this is true.


You can’t turn on someone else’s switch. There is only one switch operator and each switch is motivated uniquely by its owner!


All in,


12 things I’ve learned about evaluating my own leadership

If you think leadership development is expensive, imagine the cost of weak leadership!

Think about you and your team.

Where are you? Where is your team? How are your leaders performing? Do you know what people want?

Every year I self-reflect on my own leadership effectiveness focusing on 12 things. These focus areas are included in this Leadership Self-Test.

Is it time you took stock of how you are leading lately?

Take our Leadership Self-Test

See the results immediately upon completion.

Email me to me share what you learned, what you expected, what you plan to do next. I’d love to talk with you about it.

All in,


Is your communication all talk?

Most people confuse communication with talking.

Talk can be inspiring. It can be engaging. It can be informative. But talking tends to be a monologue.

I’m a talker. Hell, I get paid to talk for a living and that doesn’t mean I’m a great communicator.

Communication is a dialogue.

It is always interesting to me when people say they are a strong communicator. Oprah is a great communicator! Not just by what she says and the endless dialogue she creates, but also by her ability to be present and truly listen to the conversation. She engages the person she is communicating with, as well as any audience that may be listening in. This is what makes her an extraordinary communicator.

A few reminders for even the greatest communicator:

  • If you want people to listen to you, you need to start by listening to them
  • Be open. Stay curious. A great conversation starts with great questions. Questions are where dialogue begins.
  • If you have to be right, you had best learn how to deal with conflict effectively. I see people ‘dig in’ all the time. They spin what they heard because they can’t be wrong. It is an unbecoming trait.
  • Make people right more often. People don’t like to be wrong. When you make a person wrong, you break rapport. Find common ground and build on it.
  • Not everyone is worth your dialogue time. Be gracious and walk away.
  • Listen more than talk. The other person will tell you everything you need to know. Many times they really aren’t worth having a conversation with based on what they are saying.
  • Many people say they want diversity. Diversity generally provides different perspectives. Different perspectives are not likely to be your perspective. You can’t have diversity and think everyone will agree with you. A great conversation is one that is interesting and enhances your world. Like opinions are fun and easy…it is in our differences that we learn and grow and gain perspective.
  • Being validated by others isn’t a requirement of a great communicator
  • Aggression is usually met with aggression


If communication was easy, everyone would be a good communicator. The strength of your communication is defined not in the easy times but in the most difficult.

Can you navigate a challenging situation with grace and get people to a more productive space? When you speak are people listening? Do you engage dialogue?


All in,


Lead with heart

To be All In requires your heart…

I was recently asked what role emotional intelligence plays in the 21st century workplace. My answer:

If you want employee engagement, you had best be an expert in emotional intelligence.


How do you strengthen your leadership effectiveness through improving your emotional intelligence?

  1. Find ways to connect with your people at a deeper level
  2. Listen more. Talk less. People want to feel heard and what they tell you tells you everything you need to know about them.
  3. What people value is what inspires them. Know what they value.
  4. Give people what they need not what you need.
  5. Find emotionally intimate moments to share who you are. To laugh together. To be humble together. To share your fears and understand theirs.
  6. Be supportive. Fear is within all of us. You don’t have to understand another person’s fears. Great leaders do accept them.

Most of all, lead from your heart.

Lead from a place of love. There is nothing more valuable in a person’s life than love.

Where you give love, you receive it.

All my Love,


Do you shine?


People ask me all the time,”How do you find the energy to travel so much?” The answer is simple: People!

People inspire me.

People get me thinking about how to help them remove the obstacles they face. People remind me of how hard it can be to change and make progress. People get me where I need to be and I appreciate that. And mostly, people today need more inspiration than ever before…they need encouragement to keep moving forward. I hope this message today gives you a little bit of that!

I love hanging with people. They say the most amazing things. Most people I meet want to do something better. Be better. They want to improve. They want to contribute more. Most people I meet care deeply.

Recently I was meeting with one of those people—a leader who cares deeply about making the right decisions. They were vacillating on a variety of decisions that were inadvertently holding other leaders back and keeping the team from moving forward. The issue was not their competency…they are an extraordinary talent! They just had a focus problem and a need for perfection that was overriding the need for progress.

Most people want to shine and yet there are things holding them back.

Here are 10 things that can limit your shine:

1 Shine requires happiness.Avoid the pukers who suck your energy, even if you have to ‘fire’ the people around you. Life is too short to live with sorrow and anxiety! Remember, apathy sucks joy too.

2 Stop waiting for someone else to turn on your motivational switch.You are the only switch operator and for the record, you can’t motivate anyone but yourself.

3 If fear rules your world, your world will get very small.Fear is an illusion the little people in our heads (self-talk) make up. Squash fear and you will see your own potential screaming to get out and shine!

4 Blame and shame.Your life and your misery are no one’s fault. Have the courage to own your life. Your life reflects your choices. You can change anything in a nanosecond by making a different choice.

5 Your environment will inspire you to shine or not.You can still shine in an uninspiring environment, you’ll just have to create your own little world within it.

6 Negativity is not a platform for change.It depletes energy and limits our ability to see what is possible. Nothing positive comes from negativity.

7 You can’t shine if you don’t have the mindset, skill set or processes that allow you to do a job (of any kind) well. Shiners are competent and fanatical about learning and improving. 

8 If you aren’t turned on, you can’t shine. Decide what you want and why, and get inspired or be proactive about learning something new.This is at the heart of turning on your motivational switch. 

9 Choose to passionately engage in your life. Engagement and enthusiasm are at the heart of shining.Your energy is like electricity and it lights others up!

10 Living without gratitude limits your shine.Gratitude—and your compassion to help others—serves not just others. It enlightens your soul.

Shiners play all in! #beashiner

All in,



Lead with kindness

Pay-It-Forward Day was this past Saturday. It is an annual, global celebration to raise our consciousness around the impact of our kindness and the ripple effect we each have on one another. It is a day of reflection on how we commitment to acts of kindness.

When I viewed this video, it reminded me of what matters every day. It made me reflect on my own deliberate acts of kindness. It made me want to raise my own standards of kindness to meet the expectations of the young girl narrating the video who expects more from me.

Imagine the world as seen through her eyes. She’s right! It’s possible. It only takes our own individual choice each day. When those around us feel our kindness, the odds are they will share a bit of their own.


Make a choice each day to find deliberate acts of kindness knowing you might just be changing another person’s tough day into one with a little more happiness and hope.

#kindnessmatters  #sprinklekindness  #smilemore

All in,


Squash Negativity

Recently I was in a meeting full of stimulating conversation…people solving dynamic and difficult problems with diverse and passionate perspectives. I was inspired. They were aligned and respectful as they sat at a table that influenced so many people both inside and outside their organization. They were supportive and passionate–and even in their different ideas and solutions they were mostly positive. Except for one person. The Puker. The C.A.V.E. (Constantly Against Virtually Everything) person. The Naysayer. The NO Person.

I have tried so hard to stay in compassion with the NO people. You know, the ones that start with no. They find what’s wrong instead of exploring what can be done, what hasn’t been thought of, or how to take deliberate action towards progress.

Honestly, I am tired of the Pukers. Done with them. Negativity drains people, regardless of how powerful their personal energy or how positive their hopes.

I say, “Let’s squash negativity.”

Let’s draw the line and not accept it.

THE REALITY: There are negative people influencing us and draining our energy every day.

The real question is:

How do you decrease the impact of negative people and the negative energy they create in your life?

  • Accept that they can’t help it. Create deliberate space between you and them.Don’t engage with them. Apply the 3 Step Disengagement Process: (SAM, I am)
    • Smile. If you have to engage with them, smile and share that you have boundaries: “I understand you are unhappy and I want you to know that it drains me. I don’t mean to hurt your feelings and your negativity depletes my energy.  Thank you so much for respecting my energy and I hope you feel better soon.”
    • Acknowledge their dissatisfaction. When they talk and you don’t agree, just acknowledge what they are saying. Remember acknowledgement is not agreement! “It sounds like you are really disappointed with that decision.” This is far more effective than trying to convince them they are wrong or that they need to change their mindset.
    • Move on and cut your interactivity short.
  • Stay curious. Don’t get hooked emotionally.Your emotion only engages them and their negativity. Avoid being in judgement of them and know that their journey is hard right now. Practice compassion.
  • Progress is a result of deliberate actions towards solutions. What is possible is a result of optimistic, focused, and creative minds. Positivity fuels progress.

Join the conversation!



Imagine what happens when each of us inspires one person who inspires another… 

I’m in,


Coaching and Character

I watched an amazing thing happen this weekend. My daughter’s speech and debate team won 2nd place in Division 1 for the State! It was remarkable as this is a high school with only 270 kids beating all the other schools that are many times bigger. In this intellectual sport, numbers do count. But it wasn’t the win that teared me up. It wasn’t even the fact that my daughter and her speech partner won first place in their event…though that was a very big celebration.

What was really fantastic?  The Coaching.

It started years ago when the middle school coach inspired the kids to try something they didn’t understand (this is not an easy “sport”).  Coach Joyce engaged these kids and took them to nationals so they could imagine their future. The Head Master of our school, Andy Rodan, has been all in with funding. He ensures we have the coaching chops and provides the team with the same respect our winning swimming and soccer teams receive.

But here is where it all came together. Speech and debate Head Coach Klemp and his coaching team set the tone when he got our small school in Division 1 this year. He believed, so they believed. He shared his vision a week before the state finals that this was important and that the team was ready. Before the competition started, Coach Klemp shared his gratitude to the seniors for their leadership. He told them how they would be missed. He spoke about the commitment and effort each team member had made. He talked about the fact that they were here to compete and show the world that they had what it takes. He was emotional and the kids felt his pride, his requirement to play all in, and his commitment to each of them.

This is what sports are about. They teach us responsibility. They show us how to lead or how not to.

But most of all, great coaches help us define our character: who we want to be when we win and when we lose.

Next year…this team will take #1! We have the momentum. The talent. The leadership. The coaching and the mental chops to show the world it’s our turn. And regardless, win or lose, it will be another year that this fantastic coaching team helps each team member define their character as our character is defined by our humility in victory and our graciousness in defeat—a lesson worth learning and remembering, regardless of age!


All in,


Don’t be a Lone Ranger

You are a leader.

You want things to happen.

You want them to happen now.

This is what makes you successful…

You make shit happen.

I relate.

I like moving things forward. I look at obstacles and can’t wait to figure out how to blow them up!

I understand that it isn’t about the destination but the journey and to a certain extent I believe that to be true. The fact remains…I want to see a lot of journey.

Though managing speed may be hard for me, it is vital to my effectiveness as a leader (and I still don’t like it).

I wish I could say that I am happy with these things I have learned about warp speed:

  • Moving at a speed that no one can keep up with (including myself) isn’t effective. It’s dangerous. It causes less joy. It can inadvertently create mistakes or gaps when there is not time to prepare. Warp speed creates unneeded chaos and miscommunication.
  • If you only have one speed—the fast one—you will run out of steam.
  • Having a team around me that helps manage my speed and focus ensures I am not a lone ranger…that I am not out there trying to do it all by myself. Great teams are made up of talented, aligned people. Ask for help. Create a village.

Then with your village…

make shit happen together.

All in,


Balance is BS

I am asked all the time, “how do you create balance in your life?”  We have to stop feeling bad that we are not in balance at all times as balance is not possible.

Think of a see-saw. Remember how hard it was to sit on one side and find balance with the other?

Life is the same.

My issue with balance is it just makes me feel guilty. I put balance on my never-ending To-Do List and it never gets off the list. It was on the list for 25 years so I took it off a year ago and gave myself some breathing room!

The key to life isn’t balance. It is self-care. We need to take care of our selves and that means a give-and-take in our complex worlds. Sometimes my self-care is spending extra quality time with my daughter Bella.  Sometimes it’s staying up late and writing (what I hope to be) an inspiring leadership tip. Sometimes it’s traveling like a crazy woman while other times it is traveling, hanging with friends, or laughing and learning with my team.

I am sick of people talking about balance. I say it’s time to take it off our list.

Put self-care at the top of your list and decide how to best take care of yourself!

I love my work. I don’t want to have to apologize for spending time doing it. I am grateful to have it as one aspect of my life (well…maybe 2 or 3). I am also grateful when I walk away from it and enjoy my family, friends, relationships, a great walk around my lake, or a nice glass of red!

Life is never in balance.

#stoptheguilt  #selfcare

All in,


10 Leading Change Truths

10 Things I have learned about leading change for a living

1 People hate change.

2 Most people would rather ignore what needs to be changed than proactively change it. You can change anything but you cannot ignore it. It will not be ignored!

3 If you listen, people will tell you all you need to know. When you are changing people’s worlds they need to feel heard and safe to stay engaged in a positive way. This is the trick to change.

4 Change happens for one of 2 reasons—pain or pleasure. From my experience, it is usually pain.

5 People would rather hate their current situation than risk the unknown. When you can shine the light and create a safe environment, they will walk the path you need.

6 When you attach the personal why (WIIFM) to what must change, people will be more inclined to get on your “this is changing” bus.

7 Change usually starts off with a feeling of excitement. Then, when the hard work happens, your leadership is defined. How people align during changing times reflects your leadership effectiveness.

8 Fear is the leading objection to change. Find ways to minimize it. People change more through encouragement than fear and threats.

9 If you don’t have coaching skills, you have a limited skill set for effecting change in an empowering way.

10 Change is hard. Compassion and patience are important in helping people through the inevitable storms that change brings.

All in,


Why Change Hurts

Change. We all want things to change but most of us secretly prefer—

“Your things need to change. My things are fine!”

Change messes with our minds. It creates a sense of discomfort. It is a deliberate act that triggers risk.

When we are changing things, we tend to feel less competent. Changing your diet is easy to understand and hard to do. Changing your approach to your work sounded great until you started screwing up all over the place. Now you even start to question the things you used to do well.

Change is easy to create or ideate and hard to execute and sustain.

It starts with self-talk. The little people in our brain start questioning and the resulting thoughts are often not inspiring. They put us into the survival side of our brain. We feel the way we think and it is these thoughts that make us question the change…and ourselves.

“Will this really be better than what I/we have?”

“This is way more work than I realized. I just don’t have the time for this kind of change.”

“This isn’t working as planned. We should ditch it!”

“Why are we doing this anyway?”

Exercise is imperative to my health and I am committed to it so I recently bought a stationary bike. (Change happens in a nanosecond when we make that initial decision. It is the challenge of sustaining change that is killer!) I felt endless guilt each time I drove past my athletic club and didn’t go in. I tried having a trainer come to my house. That didn’t work as I frequently travel and my schedule is controlled by too many things for me to keep the same time each week. So I got the bike…and I know I need to actually get my butt on that bike to make something happen.

It isn’t the decision to change; it is the commitment to stay with the changes you make.

Change really hurts right now. I just got off my bike!

All in,


P.S. Download Aspire’s 4 Stages of Change Poster here!

What’s the big idea?

Big Ideas? We should all have them. Please think. Thoughtlessness is annoying!

The Scenario:

I was recently on a one-week, four-city trip. With this many destinations, I was loaded with bags and I arrived late in the evening to check into a hotel. Though the hotel was only half full, the front desk agent checked me in to a room that was — literally — the farthest point from the lobby. It must have been close to a half mile!


Be present enough to notice the small woman with too much luggage in front of you. When you are forming the words to tell her that the bell man is busy and she will need to schlep her own bags, Think! Maybe realize a room closer to the lobby makes sense for this guest.

The Scenario:

I was staying in a hotel recently and called to utilize the free shuttle. I was told to come on down. When I arrived at the bell stand, there was no one there. No problem! I went to the front desk. The agent did the right thing, calling many numbers trying to get an answer to my question, “When will the shuttle driver be back?” She even left the front desk to go to the bell stand and then through a door behind it. Still no one could tell her when the shuttle might be back.

Ten minutes later, she found a bellman standing outside. She clearly tells him I would like a ride so he proceeds to call the shuttle driver. Then the unimaginable happens…he comes up to me and says, “Were you the person who called down?”

I answered, “yes.”

He replied, “It will be 10 minutes.” He handed me a card and schooled, “In the future, just call this number so you can find out how long it will take and make arrangements.”  Hello?!


When you offer free shuttle service, maybe have a process so guests can use it! Consider posting something in the room on how the shuttle rules work. It might have been helpful to give me the number I needed when I called to request the service! At least give one of those cards to the poor front desk agent who spent 10 unproductive minutes getting something done that should have taken one minute or less.


This is why customers leave. ThoughtFULLness matters!

All in,


And the credit goes to…

I love the Oscars!

People doing what they love and honoring those that helped them get there. It makes me reflect…

I would like to thank, apologize, and give credit to…

  • My mother for putting up with me
  • My father for making me believe I could do anything I committed to
  • My coaches and teachers who never gave up on me
  • My aspire teammates over the last 24 years who have made me better, smarter, and kinder
  • My clients who have inspired me to keep raising my bar
  • My sister who thinks ‘I’m great’ even when we both know it’s not my best moment
  • My brother who makes me laugh and shows me how to keep what matters most front and center #phillyrocks
  • My girlfriends who bring me joy, laughter, adventures, and life navigational  sense even though I don’t always use it. I beg forgiveness for this!
  • My guy friends who give me a perspective I never understand and always value
  • My daughter who shines so bright it makes me want to be a better human!



All in,


5 ways to shine the light

Every day we have the opportunity to bring a little sunshine into someone’s life. Imagine if each of the 7.6 billion people on the planet chose to bring joy into another’s life today?

Energy is what makes the world go round. It is what gets us up and moving and the lack of it can take us down for the count. I am often asked where my passion comes from. For those of you who know me, it was a gift I learned early on…that life is to be lived and cherished.

Each day we have a choice: How will we see and experience both our world and the people around us?

We can help people shine or we can turn off their light. Encouragement and engagement are easy tasks if we make a decision to get fanatical about them.

When I needed some light it was my father who used to say, “Renie, in life you have to bring your good time with you!” He was right and as leaders we can help others see that they too can bring their good time with them and shine the light.

This world could use a lot of light so today I challenge you to shine the light on 5 people:

Here are 5 ways to shine the light:

  1. Give someone extra encouragement

  2. Coach someone

  3. Acknowledge as much good work as you can find all day

  4. Make someone laugh

  5. Say you are sorry to that person you needlessly blamed


When we shine the light on others, it always reflects back on us.


All in,


Does Culture Matter? Ask Tom Brady!

If you don’t think culture matters, just ask Tom Brady.

It wasn’t that he had a bad day. And it wasn’t the unsportsmanlike conduct he displayed by not shaking the winning quarterback’s hand. Even die-hard Patriots fans questioned that!

Instead, it was that this Philly team showed up with the right owner (stakeholder), coaches (leadership team), and players (associates) who created a culture of passion, love and respect. This culture fueled them to outplay the Patriots—mentally, physically and ‘spirit-ly’.

The facts are better than fiction!

The underdog Eagles:

  • Lost their starting quarterback and started a guy who was going to quit 12 months before
  • Lost 7 starters due to injury…one of whom wason his way to becoming the League MVP—Carson Wentz. After his injury, Wentz said the Eagles could still win it all with Nick Foles and that he was going to be on the sideline rooting for him at the Super Bowl. Nationals scoffed at him (see all the underdog stories), but that is exactly what he did.
  • Had no 1000-yard rusher. No team has ever won a Super Bowl without these. Until now.
  • Demonstrated balls of steel with the “Philly Special”. They knew when to make the big play and how to keep it as a competitive advantage.
  • Have an owner who is a class act. He loves his players. Loves his city. Doesn’t cheat. Philanthropic. And his city loves him right back.

Before the start of the season, a former GM named Mike Lombardi was quoted as saying something like, “Doug Peterson has no business being an NFL coach,” or “The Eagles will regret this decision.”  What the world saw on February 4:

The right coach with the right players is always a winning combination.

More than 2 million people peacefully celebrated at the parade staged in a city built on pride. Built on character. Built on hard work. Passion. I call this Brotherly LOVE. This is the city of Philadelphia.

The Lessons

  • The right coach with the right players is always a winning combination
  • Setbacks are moments where great teams come together
  • Alignment on- and off-the-field matters
  • Don’t let other people define you
  • The game is always played first in the head. Head trash kills!


Co-written with love, passion and respect by my brother and me…

Seth & Renie Cavallari

Balancing Act

Life is Never in Balance that’s why it’s a Balancing Act.

If you’re like me, you struggle with life-work balance. It’s a never-ending pursuit for my team, too.

Entrepreneurs are “all in” kinds of people. (And so are many leaders… that’s how you got where you are today.)

We have to be tenacious, demanding, and driven. There is a constant adjustment being made between workload and quality of life outside work.

As a company, Aspire is a collection of talented, smart, and highly intense people who love and care personally about their work. This is their gift and our challenge!

As a leader of this type of team—probably much like yours—you have to constantly consider how to help your team balance work, thinking time, love-your-life time, my-life-is-a-mess-I-need-to-clean-it-up time, take-care-of-your-health time, and more. You get the picture!


Make sure balance is a priority… and it is a fine line.

All in,


Stop procrastinating!

Do you want to decrease your stress?

Stop procrastinating and check in on your need for perfection!

These 2 habits—procrastination and perfectionism— slow you down and create mediocrity. (And that is all they are: habits. They are not genetic!)

What’s the worst that can happen? 

For the most part, a bad decision can be corrected and generally, bad decisions are the way we learn how to be better, smarter, or faster. Don’t be afraid of a wrong decision. Be afraid of not making one!

Know this:

Indecision is still a decision.

It’s just a disempowered, irresponsible one. And usually it is  a bad one, too!


Never underestimate the power of a decisive decision.

Make things happen in 2018. Go big or go home!

All in,


Are you All in?

Imagine everyone in your organization engaged, aligned, and performing to their potential.

Imagine everyone playing “All In”

Great organizations have synergy. Their culture allows them to play to a rhythm at a different tempo than the average organization. How do you get that at your organization? Consider this:

  1. If you aren’t all in, no one else will be. Be a fanatically engaged leader.
  2. Today—more than ever—people want to be inspired through progress and positivity. Be their hope. Shine the light so they can see what is possible in the future.
  3. Help each person understand how their work and contributions matter. Be specific. No position is more or less valuable as it takes a village. Make sure your villagers know they are valued. Every job is a patch in the patchwork.
  4. We become our environment. If your culture isn’t healthy, fix it now! Don’t worry about how solid your strategies are because they won’t matter. Your best hope is that your competition is a bigger mess than you are… and hope is not a strategy.
  5. Focus on what matters most. Do the important stuff first.
  6. If you aren’t coaching your people, please know they aren’t operating at their full potential and capacity. Growth in your people directly equates to growth in your organization’s performance.
  7. Stay agile. Holding on to what you know limits you. Surround yourself with smart people. Read more. Get your mind thinking. Smart leaders spend time thinking and preparing.
  8. Replace the pukers and non-performers. Get rid of them. They slow you down and the market is too competitive to have people on your team throwing the race.
  9. Think:
    • People (Stop accepting mediocrity)
    • Environment (Culture is the secret sauce)
    • Focus (2 great strategies are better than 5 average ones)
    • Execution (Don’t try and do everything. You’ll end up doing nothing)
  10. Enjoy the journey. Find time every day to be grateful. The energy you push out is the energy you receive so if you aren’t feeling it…you aren’t giving it! And remember, it could be a lot worse! Promise!

Are you All In?

All in,




What is YOUR Personal Brand?

Just like your business has a brand… so do you. Your brand is what you are known for… it reflects the value you bring to your organization through your presence and work product (deliverables).

As with ensuring brand relevance for a product or organization, it is important for you to identify what you want your ‘Brand.Me’ to be. Ultimately your brand is defined by what your customers—both inside and outside of your team—say about you.

Here are a few things to consider in defining Brand.Me

  • What do you want people to say about you when you are not around? This is your aspirational brand identity.
  • What do you want to be known for? What makes you better than anyone else at the things you deliver?
  • What is your personality in terms of your brand? Are you a playful professional or are you the “dependable, count on me to clean up the mess even if I didn’t make it” professional? Your style and personality are part of your Brand.Me.
  • When people receive your work product, is it done at an outstanding level or just mediocre? Every time you hit ‘send’, every time you complete a report or a presentation, and everything you deliver to a client or a stakeholder reflects you and your brand. How does your work product reflect what you want to be known for? What do your stakeholders think of your work product?
  • What’s it like to hang with you? Happy? Stressful?  Chaotic? Dependable? Fun? Thought-provoking?
  • Define your brand. Write it down! Defining your brand lays the foundation for how you will act and how you will deliver your work product(s). It defines the experience people will have when hanging with you.

Understanding that your brand is your personal imprint helps you reflect on where you want to grow. It helps so you consciously build value in your brand relevance.


Be you! Be a brand that everyone wants on their team.

All in,



Make 2018 Your Year

It’s a new year! This year, I am going to keep these things top of mind…

Let’s not call them resolutions as those tend to go by the wayside. Instead, let’s call them new habits. As leaders, I urge you to adopt them, too:

  1. Laugh more
  2. Be critical less
  3. If you are going to show up then play all in!
  4. Shut down all whining. It solves nothing.
  5. Be nicer to people
  6. Stay away from energy vampires. They only take and never give.
  7. Say hello to people in an elevator or walking down the street. For goodness’ sake, ENGAGE!
  8. Make someone feel valued every day
  9. Put down your damn smart phone and have a conversation
  10. Use page numbers and spell check
  11. Get involved or stop complaining. Your choice.
  12. Your bad day is someone else’s good one… live in gratitude

Make 2018 your year…

All in,


10 Tips for 2018 Take-off

Here is my take-off plan for 2018. You can use it too!

  1. Rally your leaders daily. Reach out. Inspire. Set the tone and tempo because leaders inspire all that is possible.
  2. Leadership is a behavior, not a position. Everyone leads so decide how you will lead today. Ask everyone to lead and inspire each other. Make leadership a part of your annual review process, regardless of the position.
  3. Have a plan. Focus on the priorities (the big ROCKS) over the next 90 days. Avoid squirreling your teams focus because too much on anyone’s plate is a disaster coming your way! “Strategy de Jour” guarantees you will accomplish very little of what is most important.
  4. Work your plan. Start by reviewing and prioritizing it. Put it into your calendar on Monday and review it every Friday. Discipline allows you to get the right things done at the right time.
  5. Take time to think every day. The more you think, the more effective you are and the more prepared you are, the more agile you can be. Preparation decreases redundancy, mistakes, and the cost of errors so people feel good about what they accomplish!
  6. Forget balance… It’s BS. We are never in full balance so it just makes us feel guilty! Think self-care instead. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, there is no one to blame but yourself.  #selfcarematters
  7. Stay away from the CAVE people (Constantly Against Virtually Everything).  You know them: The Pukers and Drama Seekers. They slow up everything and suck your energy. Give your energy only to those who deserve it!
  8. Find what’s right and build on it. Encourage growth knowing that growth can be painful. Growth means improvement which (for some) feels like they weren’t doing it right before. A positive mindset is the foundation for all growth.  Thank the people who care enough to give you feedback and help you grow. They are the ones that truly care about you and see your potential!
  9. Be self-aware, self-reflective, and present. Many people don’t know their impact as they are not present within. Intention doesn’t matter; impact does.  Help clean up the messes you make. People notice.
  10. Inspire everywhere! You can change a person’s day by saying hello on an elevator. Touch people’s lives. Don’t let the negativity in the world affect the world you can control. Be the light!

All in,


10 Lessons Learned this year

Here are a few lessons I learned in 2017. In some instances, I was reminded AGAIN!

Lesson 1: 

Look at your business with fresh eyes. Think as if today were your first day in your position and plan your priorities accordingly. Ask yourself, “If I were hired today, what would I do with my business tomorrow?”

Lesson 2:

When it comes to mistakes:

  • Once is interesting
  • Twice is puzzling
  • Thrice is a trend

Beware of trends. Without correction, you have trouble.

Lesson 3: 

“The secret sauce is always culture”

~Scott Steilen, President of Sea Island Resort Company

Lesson 4:

Change is easy when it isn’t yours to experience. Have compassion for the hard work that is required to evolve as a human, evolve in your work, and evolve your relationships.

Lesson 5: 

It’s called ‘owner-shit’ as in—own it! Blame and shame is the cancer of a team and if you don’t fix it, know with certainty that those inside your organization who aren’t owning their mistakes are causing chaos and stress.

Lesson 6: 

If people are always trying to please you, you don’t have clean communication (Pillar 2). If you don’t have clean communication, you are in for withholds (which are dressed up lies). Make sure you create a safe place to talk and then talk more. Email less.

Lesson 7: 

Encouragement is a better coaching tool than criticism. Find what’s right and build on it.

Lesson 8: 

Never underestimate the power of good processes. Mistakes generally happen due to one of 3 things:

  • The wrong mindset (How you see the work is how you will engage in it)
  • Lack of knowing how to do something (process)
  • Lack of ability (skills)

Lesson 9: 

What you focus on is what you get.

Lesson 10: 

“Lead from Love”

~ Coach Ken Niumatalolo, Head Coach of the US Naval Academy’s football program since 2007

Thank you for the lessons, 2017!

All in,


The happiest time of the year

As we come to the end of the year and see the light at the end of the tunnel, there is no better time than NOW to breathe in and take stock of what you and your team(s) have accomplished in 2017.

Who needs some extra acknowledgement?

  • Make a list and check it twice! Make sure your family is on that list as they put up with your crazy self all year!

How can you show gratitude for the progress made?

  • A simple note goes a long way
  • How about recognizing individuals at your next stand-up meeting?
  • If you are in the creative lane, maybe you could write a fun poem that calls out individual contributions!

I know the endless moving and shaking can leave little time for applauding the progress and appreciating all the many lives we have touched. As leaders, each of us needs to take stock. Leadership is everyone’s job so to those who report to someone, be sure that you take a moment to share your gratitude for their coaching, leadership, and support. Find what’s right and build on it. We all need to feel appreciation and what we give, we receive!

Personally, as I say goodbye to 2017 and welcome 2018, I thank you for being in the Aspire Community. It is our honor and privilege to hang with you—each week—and through the work we have done together over the years.

As anyone on the Aspire team will attest…I/we are fanatical about one thing: our Aspire community. And you are at the HEART of that community. We are blessed to again retain 96% of our clients this year—a retention rate we have maintained year-over-year now for 23 years. We work hard to make sure we have your back, delivering the work and inspiration you expect and need to lead and own your niche.

From all of us Aspirates, we wish you an extraordinary holiday season. Thank you for letting us be a part of your world. See you next year!

With deep gratitude,

Renie, JC, Barbara, Jeffri-Lynn, Kendall, Liz, Kim, Misha and all of the Aspire team members around the globe

Mindset Matters Most

Over more than 20 years of working with people and helping them unlock their potential, I have seen one thing remain constant:  It doesn’t matter what skills people have or what skills they need… If people don’t have the mindset to learn new things, change their behavior, and enthusiastically engage, their potential is limited.

The Lesson

People don’t change their behavior because you tell them to. They don’t change their behavior because you pay them more and they definitely don’t change because you beg or threaten them.

People change because they decide to.

They make a decision to do something differently because they feel emotionally connected to making the change.

Leaders and coaches can inspire. We can encourage a new direction or provide additional skills and processes.

In the end, it is our head (our mindset) that determines our actions. We feel the way we think and our actions reflect our true feelings.

Mindset is always first.



You can read more about mindset and its impact on performance in my book, Aspire to Shine.

Download the chapter on mindset FREE for a limited time!

All in,


Reflections: The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions

I began my journey as an entrepreneur 23 years ago. It has been an amazing gift…an amazing ride!

I was asked in a recent interview if leading Aspire has been a smooth road. I had to laugh. Loudly! Anyone who says owning a business is a smooth road is lying, ignorant or unconscious! The road is windy. The road is bumpy. The road has pot holes and needs repairs.

And more importantly, the road is an amazing journey, with insightful learning, many sights to see, and experiences that change your life. Great people, great friends, humbling moments (okay days) and whole lot of fun.

I think the toughest challenge is the personal worry. The worry about people. The worry about our work product and its evolution in support of our clients’ needs and market relevance. The worry about the economy and its impact. The worry about the journey of those I work beside as they go through happy times and sorrow.

TIP: Buy Proactive Smooth Road Protection Insurance

  1. Have knowledgeable mentors, models and coaches
  2. Work beside and ride with extraordinary people (team members AND clients)
  3. Listen. Never stop listening and not only with your ears!
  4. Stay humble or be prepared to be humbled
  5. Read…it stimulates your mind, helps you innovate your business, and minimizes ignorance!
  6. Don’t let worry be your energy source. It is negative energy and you need a lot of fuel on a road trip! Nothing positive comes from negativity.
  7. Have a direction. Know where you want to go.
  8. Watch for road signs (predictive indicators). They are always worth reading.
  9. Have fun! Enjoy all the elements of the road…

All in,


Get your crystal ball

Look. Listen. Explore. Evolve.

The future is easy to predict. Leadership is the hard stuff!

Leaders have to inspire all that is possible, optimize people and market opportunities, and push for maximum performance.  At the same time, they must:

  • Be grounded
  • Be present to their organization’s realities
  • Facilitate their team’s growth and evolution

As a leader, it is vital that you carefully look and listen for key predictive impact indicators:

  1. Team energy levels and collaboration
  2. Trends:  internal performance and market
  3. Operating mistakes:  redundancy, productivity, process gaps
  4. Ever-evolving client needs and expectations
  5. Financial indicators from forecast to NOI


Success is led by leaders who predict and proactively react to the future.

Look, listen, explore and evolve!

All in,


Can you fall in love again?

I have been playing my flute again. I took a break—a long break of 30 years or so—and when I picked it up, I thought, “This can’t be that difficult. Isn’t it likeRenie, playing her flute riding a bike?” Not. At. All!

I was a classically trained flutist and by no means was I ever going pro. Shall we say, “good, but not great?” I loved playing the flute! I especially enjoyed making music with others. It didn’t matter whether I was playing with ensembles, orchestras or bands. I liked sitting in and playing with anyone who would let me! I reveled in the camaraderie. The performance. The joy of music and the energy it engages. It was my drug of choice!

A couple of years ago, I decided I wanted to incorporate music into my keynote speeches so I took a few lessons and presto… I fell in love again! I always had a thing for jazz so I decided that I would train to become a jazz flutist. How hard could it be? Damn hard! Jazz performance is the antithesis of classical performance and yet it never dawned on me that being classically trained might make playing jazz difficult. What was I thinking? That’s like saying, “since I can speak English, Mandarin should come easily.”

Classical flutists are trained to read what is on the page. Mozart wasn’t interested in our own version of his sonatas. And classical flute players don’t utilize cords which are foundational in jazz. Plus, the the heart of jazz is improvisation—a no-no in classical performance. It was no longer applicable to play what you read on the page and that was where I excelled!  I won’t even  begin to explain the scales as there are endless applications: harmonic scales, blues scales, minor blues, melodic scales… and all I ever knew were the majors!

The Good News

There are some things that are the same regardless. You need air, you have notes, and you need to have rhythm. But don’t kid yourself (as I kid myself), learning jazz has been a stretch. And that stretch has brought me so much joy! It’s crazy how much fun I am having while battling the frustration of not being as good as I want nor having the time I would love to dedicate.

What’s my point? 

Even when you know how to do something, when you learn to look at it differently (jazz), you create the opportunity to explore a whole new world. To reach and fall in love again.


What can you look at differently? Could it make you fall in love again? Give it a try. It’s worth the stretch.

All in,


Expecting Loyalty?

A person I often work with recently asked if I was still loyal. The answer was yes and still the question was uncomfortable.

We all expect loyalty… from our friends, co-workers, boss, spouse or partner, and from our employees. What are we really asking?

Being loyal means you honor and respect a person enough to have real conversations. This is my kind of loyalty. It sounds something like this: “I have your back and you can count on me to be there, deliver, and not bullshit you.” Please have those conversations with me!

They say the road to improvement is paved with good intentions. Yet people often don’t say the hard stuff as they want to please the boss. They don’t want to upset the boss as there may be “hell to pay.” In this environment, people on your own team won’t say things that truly need to be said in the spirit of helping the team.

Loyalty is tricky.

Leaders often face this challenge: the higher up the proverbial food chain you get, the more withholds you encounter. And for the record, a withhold is just a dressed-up lie! Not long ago, someone asked me, “whose side are you on?” I was stunned and responded,

“I am on the side of progress and supportiveness.”

I define loyalty as honoring your commitments and responsibilities. It’s being the kind of leader, partner, coach, and raving fan you can count on as all in.

What is your loyalty expectation? How does it serve you? More importantly, how does it limit you and your team?


Loyalty. It’s playing “All in!”

All in,


8 Steps to meeting your goals this year

We set goals individually and as teams. Some of us even avoid setting them at all for fear of not reaching them!

A lot of research and study has been done on goal setting, and here is how leaders can ensure they (and their teams) focus first on the goal and their motivation toward that goal, then on the tasks they must perform to get there.

Don’t be tempted to begin with step one and jump to step five! It will reduce your chances for success. Follow the steps without skipping for best results. This process can help you think, plan and then move with focus and optimum productivity.

  1. My Goal is X. Be specific. If you aren’t clear, you won’t focus. It has to be measurable. Without measurement, it is just a dream.
  2. Define your Motivation… the passion behind why you want what you want.
  3. List the benefits you will receive by achieving this goal.
  4. What is your emotional gain? How will you feel when you achieve this goal?
  5. What will you need to do to get there? Step by Step. (If you arrived at Step 5 directly from Step 1, go back to Step 2 and complete each step. No skipping!)
  6. Establish your step-by-step timeline, detailed by necessary task.
  7. Review your timeline weekly. Revise and reset.
  8. Setbacks are just resets. Guilt depletes us. Celebrate your reset button.

Knowing the goal is only step one. You have to understand your real motivation behind the goal to achieve it. This keeps you committed and drives persistence toward achievement.

Once you have completed this critical path to achieving your goals, you will understand what you stand to gain by achieving your goal. Your motivational switch will naturally move into the “on” position. And once you have completed it on your own, it will be easier to guide your team to understanding their motivations, as well. Imagine! An entire team working toward their goals because they have all turned on their motivational switches.
Do you think you already know what motivates your team? You may be surprised! Your thoughts about what might motivate an individual may be far from what they believe. Understanding what motivates our people is as simple as asking.


Leaders align goals with the motivations of their people.

For your team to reach their goals this year (and your own, for that matter), you need to understand their motivations. Be an inspirational leader. Stop assuming and start asking!

All in,


Summarizing for Executives

Selling your Strategic Plan & Budget to your Boss and Owner!

aka  Writing an Extraordinarily Effective Strategic Plan Executive Summary

I have to say… this may be one of the most boring tip titles of all time and having seen a lot of executive summaries, I am always amazed at how terrible they are! If you don’t share your vision and assumptions effectively, you risk not getting what you want or need. In my experience, decision makers look at the executive summary (ideally one page) and the budget—nothing more. Everything else in that plan was created to help you get to what really matters most to drive success.

First let’s understand the Executive Summary’s true purpose.

The Executive Summary is just that: A Summary! It is created to help others understand your realities and assumptions for consideration as they review the budget. These assumptions would have been identified and utilized throughout the planning (and ultimately, budgeting) process.

Pre-Writing Suggestion:

If you haven’t vetted your boss and owner on what they believe are the priorities, gathering insights they would like to share, you are playing Vegas. As the saying goes, all those lights are there because people are winning. For you to win, you must understand the mindset and expectations of those who hold the keys to your castle.

Executive Summary tips:

  1. As you go through the Strategic Planning process, start building your assumptions, obstacles, and other insights the “boss” may not be aware of
  2. Keep it an actual summary: short and sweet. One page… two, tops!
  3. Use a footnote process to back up assumptions or highlight market insights so you don’t get caught oversharing in the narrative
  4. Think bullet statements vs. paragraphs
  5. Headers: Executive Summary Content
    • Opportunities & Threats (obstacles we must overcome)
    • Plan Assumptions
    • 3 Key Strategies
      • each followed by the top 3 priorities you must deliver on to leverage the strategy referenced
    • Chart of high-level budget indicators for current year end and for 2018. Where possible, you want to tie revenue growth back to related expenses like marketing increases.
    • Skip telling about the current year. It’s in the past now, taking up space you don’t have.


As an author, I have learned the hard way that you must understand your audience and write to their mindset and needs. If it isn’t compelling, no one is buying! Write as the author you were meant to be. (And yes, a great editor is a must!)

All in,


The best strategy is good strategy

What are you doing to prepare to kick ass in 2018? You should be thinking! It’s strong strategy.

Strategic thinking lays the foundation for strategic planning and ultimately, for your success. If it’s worth doing, do it right so find the time you need. Stop trying to just “fit it in.” There is never a good time and you will never have everyone you want in the right spot, at the right time, with all positions filled.

You need strategic thinking and planning most when you are not optimal!

As I often say, success is rooted in three elements: Think, prepare and move. Most leaders are great at the “move” part and to improve your creativity and openness to what else might be possible, you must think and think and think beforehand. Then prepare. Preparation means involving others in your plan; building out tactics; identifying obstacles in the way; and determining how to eliminate or minimize them. This is where capital prioritization and spending comes in. Not the other way around.

Good strategy requires data, analysis, trending information, client feedback, employee feedback, and other key performance indicators… and if you don’t prepare, you may make decisions based on personal beliefs vs facts. The preparation for a strategic meeting can take around 20 hours of your leadership team’s time so have homework distributed two weeks before your strategic thinking meeting. If not, participants may be rushed and unprepared.

Finally, build out your budget assumptions throughout the process. Make them compelling to your ownership and bosses because if you don’t make the case for your plan, you can count on them looking only at the math.


If you have put in your thinking time, and your team is prepared and focused for your strategic planning meetings, you will be able to get plans done in half the time. Redundancy, lack of forethought, and trying to do too much are where teams often go wrong.

And as for putting it in writing, stay tuned for next week’s tip: The Executive Summary.

All in,


Icebergs ahead!

Problems are a lot like icebergs…  The real issues tend to be hidden below the surface.

Over the years of working with thousands of leaders (and I would include myself in this count!), most see a problem and look for the quick, painless way out. We don’t want to dig deeper to explore and identify the core problem. To illustrate my point, let’s take a look at some examples of potential icebergs.

Potential Iceberg: Someone quits.

Most bosses accept that a person resigned because they found a better job. There is no doubt that is true and below the surface, why were they looking to begin with? If I am unhappy, a new job would definitely be an obvious solution.

In my experience, people leave because they are unhappy and want something else. Most people don’t like change so must be pushed to make a change. Odds are something drove them to it and you need to find out why.

Potential Iceberg: Someone needs to go.

You keep feeling disappointed and still hope they will “get there.”  The problem isn’t with what you are seeing, it is with what you are not seeing. We can tell the person can’t do the job and we start thinking about how to modify it or how to promote them to some other place in the company.  Worse yet, we just do their job for them. What is below the surface? The problems we see are numerous… and yet the real problem is that we don’t have the guts to just make the cut.


Leadership is serious business. It requires a balance of compassion and patience aligned with honesty and urgency. The single biggest job of the leader is to see the icebergs and steer your team around them with plenty of time and space to spare.

All in,


Away we go

Lumbering herald of Fall,

We surrender to introspection…

A gift from our future,

Please offer us the quality of silence.

Give us the strength to move inward… toward peace and tranquility.

We make this journey with confidence and faith,

Knowing you are within us; here to guide us.

We let go.

We embrace the winding road ahead with glee.

We move in joy.

And like the coming breeze, we lean in.

Here is the future. Away we go!


Harvest the bounty. Enjoy your gifts!

All in,


Color outside the lines

To have something you haven’t had…
To expand your brand relevance so you own your market niche…
To innovate your approach to doing business…
To grow your performance 25% in a year…

You must dare to color outside of the lines.


You can’t win by focusing on holding on to what you have. You cannot dominate if you focus on not losing. To take your business to its next level, you have to look at your organization, the business, and the market. Then ask:

  • What challenges are my customers having that I can eliminate?
  • What rules am I/we holding onto that don’t serve us?
  • What one thing would quantum leap our business/brand?
  • Is our structure the same as it was 2 years ago? What reporting can I shake up to get people thinking and playing differently?
  • What companies out there are changing things up? How? How can I apply their thinking and actions to my business?
  • What people, things, beliefs, or past realities are holding back my people?
  • Are my people aligned with me and our direction? What is the state of our organization’s culture?
  • How do we double our traction?

 “The only safe thing is to take a chance.”
~ Mike Nichols, Film Maker

Leaders are busy and the best pause to actively challenge the status quo. They are strategically focused on the team or organization’s next quantum leap.

Play big or go home…

All in,

Just Say No

You can be comfortable with saying “No.”

Recently, I was boating with a friend of mine—a true adventurer and a responsible boater who has owned and operated many.

I love boating!  I love being out on the water though I don’t feel safe in the water.  I am afraid of it.  I can swim… and the idea of drowning is one of my only true fears.

We all have head trash and when it comes to being in the water, mine screams: “Must. Have. Air… or you will die!”

Even my diving instructor told me, “Scuba diving just isn’t your sport.” And if I ever had any chance of getting over my fear of drowning, the movie Jaws finished it off!

Back to my boating adventure…

On this beautiful sunny day, we were out for a sunset cruise when suddenly, the swells came up. They were big. Very big. I felt fear run through me. With each minute, I asked myself if I was safe.

It took all my courage to overcome the contradicting conversations taking place inside me. One conversation said, “Enjoy the ride, it’s an adventure! You are safe.”

The other conversation went more like this: “You are not safe! You are a Mama. Make a responsible choice. This is not fun. It’s time to make decisions that honor how you really feel.”

Finally, I said words that I rarely say, “I’m sorry but I’m not comfortable. I’m not all in… actually, I’m all out!”

In a nanosecond, I felt better. The boat circled and we road back inland with the waves at our back and a smile on my face. (Maybe next time, I just need a bigger boat. Way bigger!)


Sometimes owning your ‘crap’ is hard. You have to find your courage, suck up your pride, and honor yourself. Even if it means saying, “No!”

All in,


Responsibility Drives Accountability

Last week, I talked about staying in your own lane and encouraging your team to come up with their own answers… to think things through rather than run to you with every question. This is because the only way to have accountability is to ensure people stay in their lanes—without becoming silos! Here are some ways to do just that:

  1. Be clear on who is responsible for what
  2. Be clear on outcomes and expectations. Think: what and by when. If you have time to meet, then you have time to ask:
    • What will you do next?
    • By when will you do it?
    • How will I know?
  3. Avoid cleaning up the mess when it isn’t yours
  4. Ask questions to ensure people are thinking through processes so they are not wasting time. Moving without a plan is an attempt to demonstrate activity vs. productivity. You don’t make money with ineffective activity.
  5. Design your alliance with your teams and those that report to you. Rules of how we will work together give everyone clarity and this helps get everyone focused—doing the right things at the right time.

Responsibility is at the heart of accountability.

All in,



Stay in your lane

As the boss,  it is easy to get trapped in the “go to the boss and get the answer” habit. The mindset that unconsciously develops is…

  • “I’ll ask the boss. They know what they want.”
  • “I submitted the project and I know the boss won’t let it go out wrong. She’ll clean it up and address any issues or look for gaps… heck, she can spell check it too!”
  • “I placed the ad like you requested. It’s not my job that no one answered it!”
  • “Our results look good; I’ll let this request slide until the boss remembers to ask me about it. At her age, that is unlikely to happen anyway!”

This is the trap leaders can inadvertently create with their team members.

Signs you may be in the wrong lane:

  • People come to you with problems without thinking through solutions or presenting recommendations
  • Missed deadlines. The deadline keeps moving. Sometimes it may be other priorities or it may be they don’t want to do the assignment (or don’t know how.)
  • People send you things that are not ready for show time. The first time is a coaching opportunity. The second time is a RTS (return to sender) moment.
  • People punt. They talk high level as they haven’t done the research, preparation or work needed, thinking you will think for them.
  • You find yourself working on other people’s work

Rule #1: If you will do it, why should they?

  • If you are the only one with the answers, you get to keep all of the questions, problems and responsibilities.
  • If you are the one cleaning up after others, why would they clean up after themselves?

The good news: it is only a habit and it is one that needs breaking! It minimizes the potential of your people and sucks your time into things that are not your responsibility.

Rule #2: Leaders have to learn to stay in their lane!

  • Whether you are leading one person or one hundred, leaders need to respect and stay in their OWN lane. This allows others to take responsibility for theirs.

Expanding your team member’s lanes expands their potential and allows them to soar. Get out of their way. They have gifts or they wouldn’t be working for you. If you don’t trust them to do what needs to be done, stop waiting and begin your exit strategy. Trust is foundational to building a truly outstanding, unstoppable team. Without it, it becomes difficult to weather the inevitable storms.

Rule #3: Patterns are habits and bad habits need to be broken

  • Usually, the “let’s just go to the boss” problem is a leadership pattern that develops over time. In the beginning, the leader thinks they are helping by quickly giving the answer or cleaning up the mess. In truth, they are limiting the potential of their team members. By answering, they are not keeping the responsibility in the chair “over there.”

Staying in your lane allows others to stay in theirs.  Everyone wins!

All in,


All Terrain

Learning to enjoy the ride

I just returned from my EO (Entrepreneur’s Organization) annual Forum Retreat.  After working on our businesses for a few days, we went out for “a ride.” I had never been on an ATV before and thought, “it has four wheels and a cushion seat… you sit and you drive… how hard could it be?”

As you know, I am an “All In” girl so I jumped on my ATV and followed those that knew what they were doing.  As I tried desperately to keep up, I felt both exhilarated and scared.  I wasn’t dressed quite appropriately and though I initially complained about the weight of the helmet, once I got out on those backcountry trails with divots the size of my entire body, I came to love that thing!

Riding an ATV is both exciting and dirty. The dust is insane. Though needed, goggles with a bandana are not my best look!  As I grew confident in how to use the gas, the brakes, and the heavy steering system, I started to focus on how to enjoy the ride.

Lesson 1: Sometimes you have to get through the initial discomfort of life’s adventures to get to the really fun stuff!

One thing is for sure: I had no idea that ATVing was a great analogy for strategic thinking. You have to look ahead, sit up, and become one with the bike, adjusting to the trails that change instantaneously from smooth to deep grooves with crater-like crevices. Then there are the numerous rocks that can throw you off balance—usually when you least expect it.

My ATV had the gas on the right handlebar (this may be the norm, but hell if I know) and you use your thumb to accelerate. I believe I now have carpal tunnel syndrome from holding on so tight and using the throttle. My inability to get a steady flow of the gas would have made anyone sitting behind me sick. I was so focused, it never bothered me!

Lesson 2:  What you focus on comes true. Look ahead. Stay agile. Move with the road. And don’t worry about things you can’t control. You need gas/fuel so does it matter how smooth it flows?

ATVing is a sport where mindset can really mess you up. It’s a lot like skiing that way… When you see those moguls on a double black diamond ski run, you must decide how you are going to think because that is the predictor of both the ride down the slope and the joy factor.

While riding, if you worry about the huge land craters that are around every turn, the odds are you will drive into them. When you hit them, you get off-balance.  Being off balance when responsible for a large moving machine does one of two things:

  1. You find the courage to ride that baby with all you’ve got, or
  2. You park it.

Head trash is no laughing matter with 800 pounds of metal under your butt as it could easily be above you. Fear is the enemy!

Lesson 3:  Balance is an important part of riding an ATV (as it is in life) and to have it, you have to have the right mindset. Beware of head trash. It messes up the ride!

In conclusion, I survived. I loved it! And most importantly, I don’t want my daughter ever doing it!  !And boy, what a ride!

All in,


You get paid to think

It was a profound moment when my boss said, “Renie, stop hoping I will congratulate you on a job well done. You need to understand that I pay you to think and the fact that you did is an acknowledgment of you doing your job!”

Harsh? Well, maybe a little. It was a big pill to swallow and it was also a moment I have valued for decades. It made me a much better thinker, strategist, and reader. Reading stimulates thought and personally inspires innovation in my soul like nothing else.

Thinking improves performance. 

Most of us rush to dive into action. Action without thought is usually a time waster. It depletes productivity and is the silent profitability killer.

Here are a few tips on how to turn on your mind…

  • Block time on your calendar every week to just stop and think—Minimum of 1 hour. Do not cancel it! This is not the time to plan your week… this is time to think, innovate, and explore without limits.
  • To help you think, consider the following questions or create your own. I use index cards and put a question on each card (Of course I have a process! It helps keeps my creative mind focused). I pick my card(s), close my eyes, and let it rip. Before I know it, I am typing an endless stream of thoughts. Sometimes they are crap; other times they are interesting; and still other times…
    • What are my most important outcomes?
    • How am I spending my time against them?
    • What matters most?
    • Where are the low hanging opportunities I am too busy to notice?
    • Who is wasting my time?
    • How can I think through this assignment so I can do it smarter than ever before?
    • What projects do I have in front of me? How shall I go about them?  What am I not thinking about?  Who can I involve to challenge my approach? And how might they help me think smarter or bigger?
    • What is inspiring me?
  • What inspires your mind? Reading, running, going to a conference, learning something new, looking at analogies in the world? Once you know where to go to find your internal inspiration, you have the fuel to think BIG.

All in,


PS:  People do engage more with sugar and sometimes you have a boss who believes,”If you want a friend, go get yourself a dog!” At least you know where you stand and what to expect. Maybe it even inspires you to be a better boss!

Are you that one person?

It only takes one person to inspire many…

Be that person!

  • Leaders dare to do what others won’t

  • Leaders inspire us to see something we would otherwise not see

  • Leaders know that where there is connection people will follow and fanatically engage

  • Leaders know that if they want others to play all in, they must lead the way

  • Leaders help us find joy in our contributions


Are you willing to do what it takes to be that one person?

Playing all in,



Stagnation is destruction

I find the fear of change an interesting challenge. The real fear is not changing.  Stagnation and the status quo are the enemies… and not just in business or as a leader. This is true as a human being too!

How you lead change and the culture you create around it is how people embrace it. If you make change part of your daily conversation, it will produce a mindset of continuous and never-ending improvement (nice words for CHANGE THINGS!)

As you are thinking, “We are half way through the year!” ask yourself a few questions:

  1. What goals are still in reach and what needs to change immediately to reach them? If you are tracking to surpass your goals, a great question to be asking is, “What else?”  Momentum is always an advantage as it lowers risk!
  2. If you were hired 90 days ago, what would you do with your team and its talent to optimize performance?
    1. Who isn’t cutting it? Who would you fire?
    2. Who would you move into another role based on their strengths and your needs?
    3. How would you reorganize so you could double your team’s success? Yes, double! Think of your organization as a blank page. Look at the talent and their strengths. Then draw a new org. chart to optimize your talent against your needs and resources. Stop filling in the same boxes. (It might be time to redefine the boxes!)
  3. What market opportunities can you leverage? Ask your team to come up with one way their team can drive the top line or improve productivity. Hopefully, they will start by asking and engaging their teams. Nothing helps you change things like having people participate in the change!


Staying proactive is an important mindset of a leader.  Don’t wait for the annual planning process to think about optimization and utilization.

When is now a good time…

All in,


Watch the Weather

Similar to a meteorologist showing you weather on its way—and its potential impact—business intelligence indicators predict winds of change. Yes, weather patterns change and in your business, things change at a moment’s notice. It gets cloudy and sometimes stormy, and the thing about weather is that it always passes.

So do challenging times!

Strategic leaders utilize the weather (the indicators) to predict needs, opportunities, and threats. They adjust the sails of the business so the team can get through the inevitable storms. They leverage the storms into marketplace opportunities and make decisions that minimize potential storm damage.

Storms come in many varieties. There is the ‘new leadership is now in place’ storm… and how about the ‘new strategies and new competition on the horizon’ storms? There are the ‘people coming and going storms’ and so on.

Your team needs to speak to the storms they see on the horizon and discuss their preparation for them. (this is what staff meetings are for!)

You can’t outrun a storm!  You need to prepare and leverage a storm’s opportunities. (Think The Home Depot. That company loves storms!) Then, ride them out to see where the impact is, adjusting your sails again as you go.


Leaders need to teach their people to stay agile during storms and the changes that come with them.  How we see a storm is how we embrace or fear it. As with everything… leaders set the tone. What kind of a meteorologist are you?

All in,


The obstacle course

As a leader,  you want to focus on clearing obstacles every day. Remove them from your team’s path so they can stay on course. Obstacles can be a lack of tools, ineffective equipment, or levels of incompetency. And they can be less tangible than that…

The single biggest threat to your team’s productivity and overall effectiveness is noise created by the “energy suckers.” It is always more petty than productive, yet its power is significant. Noise. It clutters our minds and takes our eye off what matters most. It is often full of negativity, sucking your team’s energy like a slow leak on a car tire. At some point, it slows you down. Noticeably!

Squash negativity. It is a priority. The naysayers slowly and (not-so) quietly drain a team’s mindset. As I share in my book aspire…to shine, the number one tool in ensuring a person is working at their full competency is their mindset. If their head isn’t in the game, you will never get their productivity up to 90% or above. Yes! Positivity is a profitability strategy.

Your people are your single greatest competitive advantage. Optimizing their talents is a strategic tool in winning the market share—and ultimately, the relevance—game. We all have our bad days and when you see a situation where a few days turns into a week or more, it is your responsibility as the leader to take action and squash negativity NOW.


Great leaders who ignore the negative noise and don’t deal with those undermining the team’s effectiveness are often the ones who find themselves explaining poor financial performance and the consequences that follow. Think of it as a small brush fire in the woods that could burn down the entire forest.

Fluffy? Hell, no!


It is time to take on the pukers of the world and set the tempo of alignment and respect for the business at hand. Stop global whining now!

All in,


Brand Relevance: My 4 Truths

If you do not have a solid brand architecture that everyone on your team understands and is aligned with, you can bet your brand will be diluted. Diluted brands are not relevant. Be vigilant in protecting your brand—both today and as it evolves.


Ultimately, your customers tell you what your brand is—via why, how, and what they buy. If you listen, you’ll know what you need to do next. Most people just don’t listen. They think a brand is about advertising or social media content. These are simply messengers that reinforce your brand. The voice of your brand is your customer. Period.


If you can’t deliver on your brand promise, you have two choices: 1. Change the promise or 2. Give your people the resources (training, technology, process improvement, etc.) they need to deliver on it.


The hardest part of bringing your brand to life is pulling it through your operation! I used to think brand strategy work was the bomb… I was a strategist and too ignorant or arrogant (I hate that truth!) to understand the real work is the day-to-day delivery of the brand experience… to each customer and vendor you serve.


The heroes of your brand relevance are your people. Give them what they need to ensure your brand longevity!

All in,


Stressed leaders are bad leaders

Just ask me… been there, done that!

I get it. We have deadlines. We depend on people to do what we ask. To deliver what they are responsible for. To make things happen. Now, thank you!

I once had a boss who said,

“Renie, this job would be great if it weren’t for the people!”

Well, in most businesses, our success is rooted in our people. Our mindset has the power to impact everyone else’s.

Here is one way to help you slow it down, gain some perspective, and get back to the leader you were meant to be!

Close your eyes (yes, I want you to try this with me… give it a go… you have time. If you think you don’t, ask a few people around you if you are both stressed and pleasant simultaneously? If they say you are, please call me. I need to model your brain!)

  • Close your eyes
  • Breathe
  • Take the air in
  • Let the air exhale
  • Slow down
  • Close those eyes and let the noise go silent
  • Let go
  • Just breathe

Now ask…

What am I grateful for in my life?


Who am I grateful for in my life?


What kind of leader do I want to be?


How can I demonstrate that now?


Find peace, my friend.  It’s nestled next to joy.



If it feels wrong…

When you feel that something is wrong…

and you see that something is wrong…

Odds are, something is wrong!

It is where knowledge, experience, focused listening, and your gut (mind, body, and soul) all come together to tell you what you need to know. I’ve always had good intuition though I have not always listened to it! I really find this quality in me annoying!

They say that mistakes are great moments and I agree with that—except for when you make the same ones!

Being a leader means making tough decisions and making them definitively, swiftly, and proactively. I get so annoyed with myself when I know what I need to do and yet I procrastinate for so many not-so-good reasons… then I watch a situation unravel, sitting in the knowledge of having known better.

Compassion, clean communication, and commitment to the development of people are vital to a leader’s ability to develop an aligned, emotionally engaged, and ever-evolving organization. Respecting that not everyone is “all in” is also a vital responsibility of the leader as the pressure and strain it puts on others is unfair.

This week… look, listen and take action towards something you know you need to correct. Just do the next one thing… and know that in doing so, you decrease everyone’s stress—including your own!

All in,


Growth in Disguise


It hurts.

It doesn’t matter if it is emotional pain, physical pain, spiritual or financial pain. It stings.

Yet pain is the way we grow. Without pain, we live in the status quo. We evolve through pain. We learn from it. We find humility and acceptance in it.

Our potential is on the other side of pain.

There is no escape button for any of us when it comes to pain. No one gets out of life without it. What is more important is to move through the storms of life, work, and love so we can find the light again.

We are not alone in life—nor in the experience of pain. As friends and supportive co-workers, we must not get in the way of another person’s pain as it is their lesson to learn. We must strive to find empathy and support as they find their way through it.

We are not here to enable others in their learning. We are all leaders and our responsibility is to lead through support, kindness, and acceptance as we support the path toward progress… the path of growth.


For us to gain the lessons pain will teach us, we must move through it. Pain is like inclement weather…the storm always passes. So, embrace the pain. It’s only growth in disguise.

All in,


The Leaders’ Guide to People

People have 3 predictable secrets:

  1. They want what they want the way they want it.
  2. They think they deserve what they want the way they want it, even as they are not always willing to do what it takes to have it.
  3. They want things to be easy.

As a leader, you have to understand:

  1. What do you want?
  2. What are you willing to do, risk, or give to have it?
  3. Life is not easy. Love is not easy. Work is not easy.


When we create joy from within, life gets easier… How are you creating your own joy?

All in,


Competent People are Happy People

Over the years, we have studied what makes some people outstanding performers while others are simply mediocre.

Say hello to the Aspire Competency Model™

We spent thousands of hours of study, research, modeling and analysis to synthesize how to coach people to their potential and have identified the three components that predict competency levels which determine your team’s ability to deliver on your Brand’s promise and your results.


People with the wrong mindset never reach their potential. People who are not playing “all in” don’t get my time or my attention. If you don’t have the right mindset, you need to go work for someone else! As a leader, stop wasting your time on people who don’t deserve it. If a person isn’t playing “all in,” you have to have the conversation about what a healthy mindset looks like, setting the expectation that their success starts with their mindset. If they don’t have the right mindset, you will never help them tap into their potential, even if you may see it in there somewhere.

Skill Set:

Skills are vital to competency and are secondary to mindset. You have seen it: You hire someone with experience and they aren’t interested in learning your firm’s way. Their mind is not aligned so it doesn’t matter what their skill level is, they will never be outstanding. Likewise, if a person has a great mindset but hasn’t been trained on the skills required to do the job, they will fail. Without the skills to do a job, incompetency is predictable; therefore, the mindset will (no doubt) decline into negativity as most people don’t want to feel incompetent!

Process Set:

Process gives us sustainability. It improves productivity. It allows for improvement. A process gives us a sense of confidence in how to deliver or approach a task. Without process, you have limited evolution as it is the foundation for improvement—a nice word for change. And when it comes to change, you are either leading the change or change is happening to you. Most people don’t like change when it is done to them!


Take a look at your team. Where are they in the Competency Model?  Now… How will you coach them so they can be highly competent, grow, and reach their potential?

Welcome to leadership… it never ends!

All in,


Is negativity sucking the life out of you?

Our world is full of negativity. It dims the light in people. Think about it… In your life, would you prefer to be around people who generate light and positive energy? Or with those who suck the life and light out of you? And beyond that, which one are you?

As leaders, regardless of our positions, we have to use our power to help people get excited about what is possible—even when it is difficult. We must shine the light, create fanatical engagement, and fuel each other with positivity and hope.

Step up! Find what is right and build a future on it. What’s next? How can you be the kind of leader who brings the most out of people?

Leaders must coach people who are failing or not playing all in. It is the role of the leader to ignite a spirit and energy that gives others a platform to perform. We must take away the obstacles and ask for a commitment to take the work to its next level.

Here are 3 Ways you can turn on your team’s energy and shine the light:

1. Look for ways to connect with one another versus disconnecting. When things are difficult, our instinct is to move away from people—to stop communicating and further disconnect. To be effective, you have to move towards the person and connect. Be the bold and brave leader. Reach out.
2. Ensure you and each of your team members are aligned and working together. Supportive always wins over critical! Celebrate progress… regardless of how small and tie every bit of that progress towards your overall mission and goals so people feel the movement in the right direction.

3.Be a responsible communicator. Don’t sweep things under the rug because the dirt always shows at some point! Not telling people the truth or withholding the truth because you don’t want to hurt their feelings or risk their anger is a lie. And telling others rather than the person who needs to know is the worst kind of disrespect.

The Lesson

Negativity is not a platform for change.
Be the change leader by creating a platform where change is in progress and possible.

All in,

What do you want your tombstone to say?

Life is about choices. And the choices you make every day reflect your life.

Stop worrying about the bad choices! Let go of the fear that you may not be as good as others think. Fear is an illusion and when it comes to bad choices, we all make our fair share!

It isn’t the missteps that define your character…

Who you are is defined by how you lead and contribute to our world.

You lead every day in how you engage with others, how you give of yourself, and how you make others feel.

All day, every day we imprint on one another. We touch one another’s lives.

  • How are you impacting the lives of those you work with in a positive way?
  • How do those you work beside feel when you enter or leave the room?
  • Who are the people you value most in your life… and how do you make them feel?

The quality of your life comes down to what you do to have what you want in your life. Ultimately, the choices you make reflect what you truly value. Stop hoping that someone else will give you what you want… the courage lies within you to design a life of substance and joy.

Are you living the life that reflects who you want to be?

All in,


Are you a Shiner?

Shiners are the people who inspire.

They are fanatically engaged and lead as a behavior, not because of a position they may (or may not) hold. The Shiner is connected to what motivates them, seeing their work—regardless of the job and its function—as a vehicle to fulfill their own higher purpose.

Motivational Switch

As a leader, you want to understand what motivates your people.

What turns on their motivational switch?



You cannot motivate another person and when you understand their motivations, you can connect them to their contributions, work, and future possibilities.

Shiners find what is right and build on it.

They are the energy generators of the world.

The Lesson

Shiners make things happen and shine the light on all that is possible.


All in,


Fire a New Hire

Don’t be afraid to fire someone within 90 days.

Here’s what I have learned… a few too many times!

In 30 days, you suspect they won’t make it.

In 60 days, you know.

Pull the trigger!

It doesn’t get easier with time—only more annoying!

When you make a bad hire, you need to look at your interview process. The mistake happened before the new hire’s first day.

The new hire’s first 30 days set the pace, emotional engagement requirement, and productivity expectations. Be actively involved. Meet with your new hire daily (Yes, daily!)


  • What did you learn today?
  • What do you need to work on?
  • How will you improve on that?  (Coaching begins on day 1!)

Interviewees need to be interviewed by those who will become their peers, not just their supervisors. When you bring someone into your organization, you disrupt the team’s synergy. You need everyone to find the new beat.

Before you hire someone, ask those who will be impacted by the new hire if they believe in this person’s ability to do the job and whether they are personally committed to this new person.


  • They will be inconvenienced by the new hire’s needs.
  • They will be giving the new hire their time and attention.
  • They will be cleaning up the new hire’s mistakes.
  • If they aren’t all in, find out why and then move onto someone else, if necessary. There is always someone else that will be a match.

Stop looking for talent in the same places. Go hang out at Nordstrom. Find out who is amazing at your favorite local restaurant. Always be looking for people you want to hire.

And look for people you can train. Smart, tenacious, learner mentalities always pay off. Those who already ‘know everything’ are always a PIA. Always.

All in,


I Believe in You

Be around people who believe in you!

In my experience, it is better to have people around you who believe in you and push you toward your potential versus people who tell you everything is “fine” and aren’t really committed to you. Those “nice” people are not being kind!

I am a product of people seeing something in me that I did not see… people who pushed me outside of my comfort zone and demanded that I grow and stretch because they believed in me. I want to say thank you to all those people: the bosses, clients, friends, family, peers and co-workers (to name a few)!

Who believes in you?

  • When you look at your boss today, value their commitment to your growth. Recognize how and why they challenge your thinking or demand more than the status quo. Be grateful for the devotion of time and attention as they are actively telling you they believe in you and your potential.
  • If you don’t have someone coaching you, regardless of where you are in the “food chain,” find someone. Everyone needs a coach. And the higher up you go, the more coaching you need. When you are the boss, people want to please you and you must have peers or co-workers who will tell you what you don’t want to hear. These are your people!
  • Who are your cheerleaders? Who are the people that support you when you aren’t at your best? Identify the people who say, “tomorrow is a new day. Grab hold of it!”

Your gifts are endless and you want coaches, mentors, and leaders who awaken your potential… Who give you the space to grow, make mistakes and contribute. Your job is to let go of the need for perfection and be comfortable with your stumbles along the way.

Look around. Say thank you. Be a coach and mentor to someone. It’s the law of the universe:

What you do (or don’t do) for others is what you create for yourself.  

Thank you all!



Do you want your people to play “All in”?

aspire…to shine has been out for 2 months and many people have asked me for suggestions on how to use the book to help their team grow.

Here are 3 ways to leverage
aspire…to shine





Shine was written so leaders could take the chapters and make them into assignments, i.e. “Read this chapter and come to the next staff meeting prepared to answer the following question…” and then choose one to discuss:

  • What was the major takeaway for you?
  • What about the story Renie shared connected for you?
  • What is something you want to incorporate into your work or life?

Use the quotes at the beginning of the chapters (and referenced within) to open the various meetings you have, including your daily stand- ups. Share the quote that resonated with you and ask, “How can you bring this quote to life in your work today?”



Ask each person who reports to you, “What motivates you?” Tie their motivations into their work then watch them soar!


I wrote this book because, as I traveled the world and spoke to leaders just like you, there was one overriding request:

How can I get my people to play “all in?”

It starts with you so show them what all in” looks like.

Shine that light,


5 things I have learned as an entrepreneur

I was recently asked to share a few lessons I have learned as a business owner over 23 years. Here are the five I wish I had known when I started!

Time flies…enjoy the journey. Bring your good time with you.

Humility is always the better perspective. Have it or you will learn to have it!

People are always making mistakes. I would suggest that 50% of the time, your people are making mistakes of varying importance. Some are minuscule while others could take you down. Be on the constant lookout. The biggest ones are usually around wasted time, process gaps and not thinking and preparing. Error correction is expensive and tends to occur through an erosion of margin… death by a thousand paper cuts.

Cash is king. If the market tanks and you don’t have cash, you are dead. Your banker is not your friend when it hits the fan.

When you start a business you have little to lose, so risk-taking is easy. As you build the business, you must manage your risk. You must have the discipline to think, analyze and let go of any emotion while taking calculated risks. Emotion is good for leading; emotion in decision-making usually leads to bumpy roads.

All successful businesses start with a crazy entrepreneur who had a vision.

Long live us crazy people!

All in,



Your Personal Billboard

Do you want people to notice your work?

Do you impact what matters most?

It isn’t just what you do; it is how you do it that gets noticed!


  • The passion and effort you put in
  • The quality you choose to deliver
  • The innovation you imagine
  • The progress you create

Ultimately, the energy you generate!

Big Ass Fact:  

Your work and its impact are your personal billboard. Your work reflects you. No blaming. No shaming. It’s all about you and how you show up. It’s whether people can count on you. It’s about choosing to be ‘All In’ over choosing to be part of the mediocre crowd.

Have the courage to stand out from the clutter. Be the being you were born to be! Be who you are and still make your contributions matter. Be someone that inspires those around you to stand up and shout about how proud they are of your contributions, your effort, and your impact.


Even if you aren’t the right flavor for everyone, who cares! If you make a positive impact every day, you will always stand out from the clutter of mediocrity!

Let me ask you…

What does your billboard say?

All in,


Intention vs. Impact

Your intention doesn’t matter!

You hear it all the time:

“It wasn’t my intention to…”

Most people don’t accept the reality that we are responsible for our impact, not our intention.

It may be your intention to reach your sales goals and if you don’t, the impact on others is significant. It may be your intention to be a good friend but if you can’t be counted on, that is your true impact.

We all have times our impact is not aligned with our intent. They are called mistakes! Our self-leadership is defined by how we own the impact of them and correct them.

Owning our impact is the difference between the person with confidence and the person who thinks that the situation (or how they made someone feel) is justifiable in some way. It is the difference between someone who is accountable and someone who is a “blamer and shamer.”


It isn’t our intention that matters in life, it’s our impact.

All in,


Lead through influence

Face it:

Everyone leads and if they don’t, they should! We lead through our decisions. We lead through how we contribute. We lead through how we support.

Leadership is not in some of us… It is in all of us! We sometimes have the position of leadership; and we ALWAYS have the behaviors of leadership. We demonstrate leadership in how we go about the work we do. We are leaders in our homes, our communities, our relationships, and our work places.

Imagine our potential if the world was full of “All In” leaders! 

There are 6 pillars to self-leadership… the same pillars that support us as intentional leaders.

  1. Be a connector.  Connection builds rapport and trust.

  2. Communicate cleanly not just clearly.  Listen more… talk less!

  3. Move from compassion. You will find more influence (and therefore more progress) through love than through fear.

  4. Stand for something. Share the organization’s true higher purpose and make sure you tie your work product into that purpose.

  5. Fanatically engage. Why not be all in? That is where your influence is strongest.

  6. Take responsibility. Own the work. Own your mistakes. Own your future.

Leadership is a choice we make every day through our actions and examples. Lead! People notice leaders that inspire, encourage, and create momentum and progress.


Be “All In.”  Or go home.


All in,


What do you generate?

The way I see it, there are 2 types of people in the world:

The energy generators

and the

energy suckers.

You know the energy suckers—those that only see what can’t be—they worry incessantly but don’t have the courage to move forward or make change. They often see what is wrong with a situation and blame others but own nothing. These vampires foster negativity and poo-poo positivity. They limit their own potential and others’ as their energy impacts everyone around them… if you let them.

Energy suckers live everywhere. Maybe you see them in your office or in your children’s school. Worse yet, you may find them in your home.

I’m sick of the energy suckers. I’ve had it! I choose not to play in their sandbox. It halts progress. Goodbye and good riddance!

Imagine the world if we built on what was right! Picture what is possible… what is next. Positivity is not fluffy. It inspires us and fuels our productivity. It energizes us to contribute and fanatically engage. It helps us find our Shine!

Here are a few tips on dealing with the energy suckers — the blamers and shamers.

Set boundaries. Establish that their negativity impacts you and though you respect their opinion, it doesn’t inspire you. It limits you. Request they ‘zip it!’ Tell them you don’t want to hear it. Stand up for the energy you want to live in!

If boundaries are impossible (perhaps with your boss or co-worker), know that the energy drain will impact your work and you will ultimately be responsible for your work product. Find the courage to move on—out of that position, company, or situation as nothing positive comes from negativity.

Choose to be an energy generator. The vampires may try and shame you but you have the light to shine it forward. Nothing kills negativity like positivity. You must be the louder voice.


Decide Today: Are you an energy sucker or are you an energy generator?

Be a Generator…

Generators shine the light…

literally and figuratively. 

All in,


Action required!

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” *

~ Charles Darwin, English Biologist


History’s greatest value to us as human beings is in our willingness to embrace it and learn from it.

Then to act upon what we know to be true!


Take action in what you believe in.  When is now a good time?

All in,


*The most commonly cited version of Darwin’s quote from his book, On the Origin of Species.

Negotiate from Strength

Rule #1, #2 and #3: 

There is no room for emotion at the negotiation table. Leave it at home!

Here are a few other ways to improve your negotiating results:

1. The goal of a good negotiation is that everyone wins. To ensure everyone wins, you have to know what you want and – equally as important – you have to know what is most important to the other team or person for them to win, too. One winner works on the football field but it does not work well at the conference table!

2. They say timing is everything and when it comes to negotiations, picking the right time matters. People must be ready and open to the conversation. Distractions limit progress.

3. Lastly, there is no room for emotion at the negotiation table.

  • Be respectful
  • State your position clearly and succinctly
  • Focus on the issues that matter most to you. It is important to negotiate in order of priority. Leave the small stuff to the end.


Most importantly when negotiating, leave your emotion at home.  It always weakens your position!


All in,


Silence the Echo Chamber

I remember the first time I went to diversity training…

I didn’t get it. 

I was born and raised in Philadelphia. Diversity wasn’t something you needed much training on. It was (and remains) a wonderful element of life. 

Diversity in our teams is important. 

Having a variety of perspectives and experiences allows you to make smarter, more informed decisions. It engages people to feel comfortable in their own skin and we always play and work better when we feel like we can be ourselves!

When we fear others who see the world differently, it is our insecurities that drive our ignorance and lack of empathy towards them. I can’t imagine the massive failure Aspire would be without our team of open-minded, curious, free-spirited thinkers with diverse life choices all coming together to create things I never imagined possible. 


Being surrounded by an echo chamber gives you a false sense of alignment and limits your team’s potential. 

Aligned teams have different perspectives and are grounded in the same values and higher purpose. This gives them endless bounds of creativity and possibilities. Work is interesting when you can engage in passionate discussions with different perspectives!

Here’s to celebrating our differences and all they add to our lives!


All in,


Solution vs. Resolution

Have you ever been in a staff meeting and thought, “Why are we talking about the same problem again?”

The difference between solution and resolution is significant.

When we are solving a problem, we are dealing with the situation at hand. Often, we are dealing with the circumstances or symptoms of a situation vs. the core problem.

Problem resolution means that we are addressing the core issues of a problem so that the problem no longer exists. Most teams spend their time in problem solution vs. resolution as teams tend to feel the pressure of the fire fight and react to the current situation.

Though this is important in the moment, the follow up must focus on how to resolve the problem so you don’t have to deal with it ever again. In observing teams during staff meetings over the last year, more than 70% didn’t move from solving the problem to resolving it by eliminating it altogether.


Problem solving:  Incident-focused and reactive. Begging for customer forgiveness is usually involved.

Problem resolution: Focused on permanence and proactive. Process changes are usually involved.

Where does your team spend their time? 


All in,



Sending my love

Love is all there is.

In life and in business…

When we lead from love, we engage people in a different way. 


Whether it is with our children, our life partners, or those we work beside…

When others feel our authentic love, they commit differently – especially during the inevitable turbulent storms.  


What does love have to do with it? Everything.


Love for our work inspires us to play “all in.”

Love for our co-workers engages us to help clean up the mess, even if we didn’t make it.

Love for our boss reminds them that they matter, too.

Love for our children means acceptance that builds their confidence in being the extraordinary humans they were intended to become.


Today is Aspire’s annual day of celebration! We have honored Valentine’s Day for the past 22 years.

So today, I send my love and gratitude for your friendship, engagement and commitment to help us all reach our true potential and to Shine.




What is your mark?

Every day each of us leaves our mark on others.  It can be as simple as a smile to someone you don’t know.

Or coaching someone who is underperforming so they feel safe enough to raise their own bar.

Or helping someone turn on their motivational switch!

We touch each other’s lives every day.

Our leadership is defined not by the best of times, but by how we navigate through the challenges. Regardless of how big or small, the people in our world look to us to reassure them and lay a foundation of positivity and productivity in our work environment…  and at home, too!

But our work is not just about our results. It is how we achieve those results. It’s the journey we take others on as we get to where we are going.

As Maya Angela said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

The Lesson

We leave our fingerprints everywhere — as parents, friends, sons, daughters, leaders, and human beings.

What do you want on your tombstone?

All in,


Ego Leader, Beware!

There is a big difference between a confident person and an egotistical one.  I suggest you choose the former. When we are effective, we are confident whereas ego tends to hide our insecurities.

Your confidence is a beautiful part of who you are. It is your conscious competency shining through. Your confidence is not defined by a single act or result; it comes from a lineup of competencies that build inner strength.

On the other hand, ego frequently disguises itself as confidence and sometimes appears as arrogance. We all have an ego and the trouble comes when we lead from our ego as our ‘self’ is on the line… when we define ourselves by some immediate, single event or act. When the ego is at work, we are positioned in a defensive stance when we falter or fail.


Who we are should never be defined by what we do. Nor should it be defined by the title we may hold, the power we may have, the car we drive or this month’s fantastic results.

If you are an outstanding leader, you are that leader in the great performance months as well as those that are stormy. The confident leader shines the light during the storms and helps others realign through positivity, coaching, focusing on what matters most, and ensuring that the right people are doing the right things (accountability).

The ego leader instead blames, shames, and tends to cause more work and storms.


When our ego is on the line, we tend to worry about what others are thinking about us vs. knowing that our greatness lies within ourselves. Our worth is not defined by some event, situation or acquired thing.

Fluffy?  Not a chance!

Confidence looks good on everyone.

All in,


How we play reflects how we lead

I was recently speaking at a conference where the leaders wanted me to speak about how to get their people more engaged and motivated. We started the event with a musically oriented interactive for 700+ people.

As I watched the audience decide if and how they would participate, I saw that as the leaders played “all in,” so did their staff. The same was true for those leaders who thought the exercise was fluffy and didn’t take part nor demand their people start participating… they never realized their team was taking a cue from them.

How we play in life is how we experience it. If we are waiting for someone else to light the way, we spend a lot of time in darkness. If we need our boss to tell us what to do, we don’t take the opportunity to show our potential and ability to contribute at a bigger level. And most importantly, why wouldn’t you want to play all in? You never know what you are going to get until you go for it!

The Lesson

Play like no one is watching.  Show the world you rock!

All in,


Lead Change!

Be a Leader of Change. Be a Disrupter.

If you don’t lead change, rest assured… change will lead you. How you help your team navigate change minimizes the inevitable storms and keeps your team moving forward.

When it comes to change… think progress, not perfection.

A few tips to consider:

  1. Watch out for the drama inventors…the people who stir the pot to slow progress. They tend to use the words “but and however” in most sentences and often don’t have the courage to say what needs to be said when it is appropriate to say it.
  2. Do the homework and then make the decision. Procrastination serves no one. And the armchair quarterbacks are just creating noise — Shut them down.
  3. Watch blame and shame. Change requires risk and risk means mistakes. Prepare for them. Make the adjustments to the process and move on.
  4. Focus on what matters most. How people feel about change is how effective your efforts will be.
  5. Stay in clean communication. If you are doing something and people need to know… tell them! Generally, when people know what is happening they feel safer — even if they don’t like it. Explaining the why of things gives insight to prevent misunderstanding.
  6. Watch for those who are holding on to the past, finding what’s wrong instead of building on what is right. Fear never wears well on anyone so help them let go. Be direct and still inspire.
  7. Mindset in your leaders is everything. Making any change is easy… you make it and it is done. What is hard is helping people engage and live with the changes! Having change come to life is the responsibility of the leader.

The Lesson

More gets done through small steps of frequent progress than looking for the quantum leap forward.

Most people can’t handle the quantum leap anyway!

All in,


The Leader’s Greatest Message: “You are good enough.”

People are inherently worried that they are good enough. This is one of the reasons the self-help industry is a $10 billion industry in the USA alone!

Most people want to do things well. They want to feel valued and they want to know that their contributions are important. Insecurity is a natural human trait that everyone experiences and are especially prevalent when we are learning something new, experiencing any kind of change in our lives, or missing the mark.

It is the leader’s job to help their team members understand that regardless of the circumstances, they are good enough. That their contributions matter. It is true some people won’t make it on your team and you have the choice to be the kind of leader that ensures a person knows they are good enough even if that job is not the right fit for them.

In today’s world, we need to lift people up. People are thirsty for leadership that inspires them and gives them hope. Your people need to know that you to believe in them.

The Lesson

Don’t skimp on praise.

All in,


How to kick ass in 2017

  1. Be passionate and choose to play all in.  How you play (engage) reflects the life you get to live.
  2. Find what is right and build on it. Be aware of the allure of negativity. Nothing positive comes from negativity.
  3. Strive for progress in all that you do… stop waiting for things to be perfect! Procrastination is foolish.
  4. Head trash is the leading killer of your potential and your joy. Your mind set determines how you feel; how you feel determines how you think and act.
  5. Find gratitude every day. The more you move from gratitude, the more joy you have! 
  6. Take a look around… who you hang with is who you become. Your environment and the people in it either limit or enhance your world. 
  7. Focus on what matters most. Watch out for the “shiny pennies” or the on-fire distractions that are really just noise. 
  8. Make your plan. Work your plan. Toss out dumb stuff on your plan. Rework your plan. Work your plan some more. Discuss your plan. Hold everyone accountable to executing your plan. 
  9. Regroup every Sunday for the next week. If you go into this week unorganized or mis-focused, you will be ineffective all week. If you don’t manage your time and priorities, you are sunk!
  10. Stop hoping that someone else is going to motivate you. Only you have control of your motivational switch… so turn that damn thing on and go for it! When we know our motivations, we can tie our work into them and that fuels us.
  11. Remember that leadership is a behavior, not a position. Live the 6 Pillars of Intentional Leadership
  12. Get a coach. Thank your coach. Be a coach. Take charge of your own development. 

 Now go out there and rock the world!

All in,  


Talent Protection Plan

Successful organizations are always a target when it comes to stealing talent.  How will you ensure your talent is not just playing ‘All In’ but also wanting to stay, grow and brag about you?

  1. Do the right thing when no one is looking or listening
  2. Be a fanatical developer of your people
  3. Provide continual feedback. Annual reviews are for financial discussions and shouldn’t be the only time people find out how they are doing.
  4. Hang with your people. Know them. Understand what is motivating them today. Motivations change.
  5. Have open and transparent communication. This is the foundation of trust.
  6. Find what is right and build on it
  7. Have a stellar reputation. Pride is a powerful aligner
  8. Keep people happy even if it seems unfair at times
  9. Help people see how their work and life contribute to a better world through your organization’s higher purpose
  10. Have a culture they are proud to be a part of
  11. Take time for fun. Comradery enhances our connection and connection is a fundamental human need.
  12. Lead with love and compassion

The Lesson

People will come and go but your imprint on them lasts a lifetime.

All in,



Navigating Change. A Leader’s Guide.

It is intriguing to watch organizations go through change…  Ours included!

Yes, change is scary.  And yes, most people hate change…

Change can make people hold on tightly to things that don’t serve them even when they don’t want the things they are holding onto.

It is how we help people through change that defines the kind of leader we are.

Leaders tend to fall into 2 camps:

Camp 1:  Analysis Paralysis

As the saying goes, ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions.’  Leaders want to do everything right the first time but the need for perfection throughout the process of change is the single biggest component holding up the execution of it. Over-analysis kills progress as does everyone’s need to weigh in on every decision. Not everything can (or should!) go to committee when it comes to change.

Camp 2:  Progress over Perfection

Progress is the cornerstone of momentum and momentum is the fuel for change. Leaders need to focus on a simple formula to successfully cycle through change:


Progress leaders let people who are experts BE the experts. They respect “lanes” of responsibility. Once the experts weigh in, Your team must design an alliance that ensures everyone will support the effort — even if you personally aren’t certain the changes make sense.

So how do you effectively navigate change as a leader?

  1. Watch out for the drama inventors… the people who stir the pot to slow progress. They tend to use the words “but and however” in most sentences. They don’t often have the courage to say what needs to be said to those it is appropriate to say it to (and when).
  2. Do the homework and then make the damn decision! Procrastination serves no one. And the Monday night quarterbacks on yesterday’s game are just creating noise. Shut them down.
  3. Watch blame and shame. Change requires risk and risk means mistakes. Prepare for them. Make the process adjustments and move on.
  4. Focus on what matters most. The effectiveness of your efforts will reflect how your people feel about (and approach) change.
  5. Stay in clean communication. If you are doing something and people need to know…tell them. Generally when people know what is happening they feel safer — even if they don’t like it. Explaining the why of things gives insights that can otherwise go misunderstood.
  6. Watch for those who are holding on to the past and who find what’s wrong vs. how to build on what is right. Fear never wears well on anyone so help them let go. Be direct and still inspire.
  7. Mindset in your leaders is everything. Making any change is easy: You make it and it is done! What is hard is helping people engage and live with the changes. Having change come to life is the leader’s responsibility.


More gets done through small steps of frequent progress than looking for the quantum leap forward. Most people can’t handle the quantum leap anyway!

All in,


What time is it?


We all do it. 

We wish for more time even though we all wake up with the same 24 hours every day. 

It is what we do with our time that defines the quality of our lives as what we choose is how we use the time we are given. 

We must protect our time.  We have to think about where we are spending it and how we value it. When we value our time, we feel aligned inside. 

No one steals your time. Our time is one important thing we can give to others. Without time there is nothing else…

The Lesson

How do you use your time? The clock is always ticking…

All in,


We follow the leaders we love

“Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.”  

~Robert Frost


When your people feel deeply connected, they participate in their life (and work!) with a different level of commitment.   Connection builds rapport……rapport builds trust…….and the intimacy of trust allows us to be emotionally engaged.


You want your people to know they are highly valued and even loved — as LOVE is all there is.  

Strengthen your commitment as you reflect on what you LOVE about being a leader.  Build on what is right.  Acknowledge those who matter in your life, both at work & at home, and encourage people to join you in the journey. 

Be deliberate in your actions!

In the end, we follow the leaders we love. This is the foundation of our wanting to play “All In.”

The Lesson

Give your heart and they will too.


All in,

Love it or leave it!

Leaders who are Shiners think BIG! They know their targets and move towards them. They understand that wanting something is not enough… that you have to have the absolute desire to know where you will go, why you will go there and how your team will arrive. This focus ensures you are always looking and moving forward.

Teams that shine have leaders who shine.

Leaders must:

  • Be fanatically committed to aligning their team
  • Focus on creating progress and urgency towards critical goals. Leaders often have too many goals. It is imperative they look to clarify what matters most and stay that course!

If you don’t feel it, you can’t have it (as in all aspects of life)!

Alignment, focus and the right mental attitude are the formula for creating a high-performance team. When leaders add passion into the mix, they shine and set their teams up to succeed. To have passion, you must love what you do.  There is no other way.


If you aren’t a shiner, odds are the people who work for you (or beside you) won’t be either.

All in,


12 Ways to Leverage Your Independent Spirit



You have an updated, clear brand strategy and brand architecture.



Your brand promise against your operational experience & delivery.



5 to 10 signature touch points that differentiate you from your competition.



Identify what must change, what should change, and what obstacles you need to remove to make those changes effective.



Ensure your team members represent your Brand — visually and emotionally — using your Brand language.



Are your people “All In”?



Make sure you are developing new training every two years. Keep your people learning and your guest experience evolving.



Evolve your landing page every year.



What is special about the experience? Leverage it!



Consider all aspects — from pre-arrival through departure.



Use subjects and scenarios with emotional hooks. Capture the essence of your brand and the uniqueness of your experience. If you want to stand out, you must engage people visually.



Think strategically. Identify channels that truly matter to your distribution and psychographics (Instagram? YouTube?), then define the audio-visual plan that works for each (still photos, videos, audio clips?) Have your team make a compelling video about what makes you special and why they love working there. Post and distribute!


Chaos breeds brilliance


Chaos is where brilliance is born!

When I see chaos, I look for the great kernels of brilliance lying within it. Chaos happens for many reasons and in minimizing the noise, solutions and innovation appear before us!

As a leader you have to actively focus on the why behind the chaos so you can establish effective priorities and leverage the havoc into brilliance.

So how do you do it?

  1. Start with asking, “What is the point?  What matters most?”
  2. Filter out the noise. Noise distracts you from your focus.  As the author Greg McKeown writes about in his great book, essentialism: What is essential?
  3. What question are you trying to answer?  Synthesize it down so you can focus your energy and find the brilliance
  4. Choose to think more and do less.

I know that last one is a killer. Years ago I worked for a man who told me, “Renie, I pay you to think.” It changed my professional life.  I actually block time just to think. Just to listen. Just to look at chaos and uncover what is relevant and how to leverage it.

The Lesson

When you think more, you focus yourself and your people. You turn down the noise and improve the effectiveness of action.

All in,


How are you changing focus in 2017?

As times change, so must people… either in their role, their skill set, or their position. You need to look at your team’s strengths and not be afraid to focus them differently to align them with your 2017 business objectives.

How will they benefit? How will you?

Some people may not make the cut and transitioning them proactively takes courage. Waiting is always a bad decision. It is risky and it is cowardly. Harsh? No.

This is what it takes to lead.

In the end, we all know it is our people who make our success. If you don’t re-align them with what you need to do differently next year, you won’t get there.

Here are the focus areas of re-aligning your people:

  1. Where are your biggest opportunities? The ones that will give you 10% growth? Those that will take your guest experience to its next level? The BIG ideas?
  2. What are the true motivations (needs and wants) of your people? You have to ask them.  Don’t assume you know!
  3. What are the strengths of your people that you can leverage to move toward your opportunities?
  4. Who goes where?
  5. What training will they need?
  6. What obstacles do you need to get out of their way?

Think about your top 20 people. If everyone in your organization thinks about the top 20 people, before you know it you will get through the entire organization and re-align their focus.


You have to align your needs with theirs or you will not get engagement. This requires real thinking and deep planning with your leadership team. Share the WHY behind the changes. Create enthusiasm for where you are going and the impact on them specifically.

The Lesson

If everyone is doing the same thing next year as they are doing this year, don’t expect much progress.

All in,


Attitude is Everything! Business is like Baseball Part 8

Attitude is everything

Peak performers have one thing in common: Attitude. They have the certainty of knowing they will achieve their desired result and they will not be denied. They have a drive that allows them to accomplish whatever they want in a way that energizes them and makes them outperform others.

Many people think skill is everything but imagine the player who had the ability but couldn’t get his head into the game. They never are the most valuable player because they are inconsistent. They lack the love of what they are doing and are not outstanding in every game. The same holds true for any person on any kind of team. What is the advantage some hold that makes them top performers? Passion.

Passion is the energy that fuels us

Passion is the energy that fuels each of us. It is not only in some of us, but in all of us. Unfortunately for many people, they choose to live without passion. To just let life happen to them one long and boring day at a time. Without passion, you miss out on celebrating life as you go and forget to just have fun. When we take ourselves too seriously, we limit our energy and ultimately our potential.

Drive is critical to our success

Drive, which is the pure desire to do whatever we put our minds to, is critical to our individual success whether it be at a sport, our work or in a relationship. The sheer desire to make something happen actually turbo charges our soul and allows us to perform at a higher level.

With passion, we choose to take massive action towards an end result and we let nothing, not even pukers, get in our way. Passion helps us stay focused on our purpose and your goals. Passion puts a sense of meaning in your work.

Some people who haven’t tapped into their passion or who have accepted their life as just “the way it is”, fear people with passion. The passionate have an intense force that sometimes feels overpowering. This is about their own issues and serves no one. Once we define ourselves in terms of others, we lose the freedom to shape our lives so when people try to minimize your energy or your passion, know they are just telling you to play smaller as they feel they can’t keep up.

For those of us who live with passion, we know the joy of helping others tap into their own. Passion stirs us up inside and gets our energy going at a peak level. As a leader you must tap the passion in others, as this will awaken their true potential.

Teams with passion achieve

Teams without passion cannot win. Teams with passion always achieve beyond expectations and frequently beyond their natural abilities.

Tapping into your passion is always part of your role on the team (AKA in your job). It is a key to living, performing and playing full out. When you don’t tap into your passion, you rip yourself off.

Many times an outstanding coach can help us really tap into our passion. These are people you must thank in your life, as they are willing to give you some of their fuel to help you reach your own potential. Once you tap into your own potential, you become unstoppable and find joy in helping others tap into their passion and ultimately their potential, as well.

So how do we win this game we call business? Use all you’ve learned in this blog series.

Here’s the post-game rundown:

Aspire Post Game Rundown

Download a poster of the Aspire Post-Game Rundown.

Now let’s get out there and… Play Ball!



Once you decide where you are going, you must become a fanatical messenger to your team members. Communicate why you are evolving and what it means to them.

  • How will they need to act differently?
  • How will they need to think differently?
  • Most importantly, what will they need to DO differently for the change to become a success story in this next chapter of your businesses life?

All success requires action. Hope may inspire us…

Action is what makes things happen!

Focusing your team on what actions matter most (and first) is the most important part of your voice.

  • Share your direction in bite-size pieces
  • Make it relevant to the audience
  • Communicate on a consistent basis. If you are not in their head weekly, you are not loud enough.
  • Find ways to talk to everyone on one platform. Use electronic mediums or social media to be present in their world.
  • Build connection between yourself, your people, and your message
  • Be fanatical about where you are leading them and why

The Lesson

People care when you do. Be their voice and they will play “all in.” Leadership is intentional. Get busy!

All in,


Team Pukers. Business is like Baseball Part 7.


Pukers of the World

All teams have pukers.

You know the people who just throw up all over everything? These are the people who have decided that they can’t win or don’t care if they do, so they spew on everyone and everything else. Yes, I realize that this is a graphic and uncomfortable term for many but the truth is, pukers undermine teams.

Some people live in worlds of pukers. Maybe they experienced it at home where a parent said things like, “You can’t get on that team,”You’re no good at that,” or “Why are you trying?” Others are exposed to them at work.

Pukers take the possibilities out of teams.

They suck the energy out of teams and individuals and limit their potential. Pukers live small. Their attitudes are just reflections of their lack of self-esteem and self-confidence. They hold others back so they don’t get left behind instead of using their own gifts to contribute or help drive the team to its potential.

These fear-based souls are death to a team as they look to undermine individuals and possibilities. They hate puking alone and tend to find other people (weak souls) to puke with. These people do not “just come around” as so many managers wish and dream for. They are detrimental to the health of an organization.

Pukers require direct coaching

Pukers require direct coaching. If you cannot redirect their energy through communication and collaboration, then you must cut them from the team. A lot of times, pukers are also performers and performing pukers are the most dangerous kind.

The Performing Puker tends to be easier to keep around than others as they contribute to some results you pursue. Maybe they hit a home run. Perhaps they sell lots of tickets or have relationships with important people in management. Do not be fooled! They can and will damage your team far more than they contribute.

These naysayers will undermine the energy and confidence of your team. They will stop or slow the creative thinking, confidence and camaraderie. Other top performers may consider leaving the team (free-agent status) or may no longer be top performers. Then you risk trading (firing) the wrong people.

Pukers on a team make the team work harder at the easy things, leaving the team with less energy for the harder things. They deplete the team’s energy.

A puker is different from a person who cares about the organization.

That player offers ideas, solutions and possibilities that will make the team better or smarter. Pukers hate change and yet complain endlessly about the current situation. They offer only self-driven solutions and don’t die without a fight.

All teams have pukers. If you don’t get rid of them, know one thing…they will ultimately kill your potential.

Think BIG

It’s that planning time of year and it is imperative that leaders think with their teams “outside of the trees.”

Forest Through The Trees

Stopping to think and prepare now is monumental to your 2017 success. It isn’t about getting the budget and planning process done just so you can get back to running the business! Yes, I get that it has to get done. How you go about it will reflect how you perform in 2017.


How are we changing up our planning process this year to get your people thinking bigger, thinking differently, thinking smarter?


What is essential for us to focus on and accomplish next year to drive our performance by 10% in 2017 and 15% in 2018?

I know that some of you now think I have lost my mind. You don’t have to budget this growth, so why would you?

If you want to think differently about the business, you must think differently about the results. Results are the deliverable.

How you get there is what you want to focus on.

Don’t worry about the result. I challenge you to worry about the strategies, the resources you need, the processes you must change, the skills your people need to develop, the mindset of your leaders and team members, their engagement, and most of all: What is your culture saying about you, your brand and your potential?

As the saying goes (or at least my version),”you have to see the forest through the trees,” so this year when planning, don’t focus on the trees! Think ‘forest’ and then have your managers and supervisors figure out how to get through the trees to expand your forest.

The Lesson 

Forest first.

Trees second.

If you want some help, reach out and let’s go hang out in the forest. This is where we do all of our leadership retreat work…figuratively and literally.

All in,


P.S. Email me if you would like my forest poster in printable PDF format.

Fielding – Business is like Baseball Part 6


On the field, you have to stay alert as you never know when the ball will come your way. When you are fielding the ball, concentration is key. Sometimes there is a lot of focus on other areas of the field and the pros know that keeping your head in the game is critical to being able to contribute when the moment arises.

As with any team, there are a lot of positions to choose from. Each member of the team must consider what their strengths are and what the needs of the team are and then let the coaching staff decide who will play where. This doesn’t mean that if you don’t like your position, you can’t change it. You will need coaching on how to make that change and what skills or muscles you will need to develop.

You must have a good arm regardless of the position. In real life this is called having the basics down. You can only become an expert at any area once you master the fundamentals.

Some people are naturals but even those who are gifted must practice and stay focused.

When you are on the field, you are holding your position or playing defense. You want to ensure you do not let the other team move ahead, so it is critical to know each player at bat as they will have patterns that tell you what they will likely do and how they are thinking. This gives you competitive advantage as they have the entire field to consider and you have only one person capturing your attention.

A smart team will adjust to the player at bat. Sometimes, you will bring in the outfield. Other times, you will pull them back to cover more of the field. The catcher communicates with the pitcher and the infield and recommends how best to play the batter. If the pitcher disagrees, they collaborate until they come to some agreement. Then the inning begins.

teammates must communicate

On the field, each position has a different responsibility and area to cover. Just like on any team or in any company, there is a position for all areas of coverage. Though a lot of ground must be covered, the teammates must communicate to minimize errors and capitalize on opportunities.

Before the pitcher winds up, the fielders move to their appropriate positions. They are not standing on the heels of their feet but on their toes where they can be agile and react to whatever occurs. This agility allows them to stay open and not check out of the game.

As the ball comes their way, the fielders must move quickly and make decisions based on immediate circumstances as well as what they are anticipating next. For example, they will allow a slower runner on base when they know the next batter tends to hit singles. Or they will intentionally walk a home run hitter who doesn’t have the speed to steal bases. They have to determine where they should throw the ball as they may not need to worry about the person running to first base but instead focus on the person in scoring position.

All this is happening at once and each player is responsible. Not only for covering their position but for setting up for the win. Each player must be listening, communicating and moving fast to ensure they control the opportunities provided to the other team.

In fielding, knowing your competition is key and staying agile (not complacent) ensures you will be able to handle anything that comes your way.

Missing an inning? View the instant replay of the blog series here. The seventh inning airs October 27. Stay tuned...

Business is like Baseball, part 5: Getting on Base

Getting on Base

No one said getting on base was easy…

And speaking of getting on base, if you missed the first few innings, start here or here’s a refresher of Part 4.

When it comes to baseball, you have to step up to the plate in order to play. You must practice your skills to be outstanding. Batting practice is no different than the preparation undertaken in any job. Think of a Target employee’s practice as they make guests feel comfortable and want to spend money. A skill, no matter what it is: bookkeeping, selling, checking people in at a hotel front desk, cleaning a home, or batting takes discipline and practice. Build “muscle” for those skills and like any muscle, you must continue to work it and build it or you will lose it.

To be a great ball player you have to swing the bat every day. You must work on your swing, your concentration, and your ability to focus under pressure. You must immediately evaluate a pitch to see if it’s worth the swing. Should you let it go by as a ball or a possible strike? Great vision at the plate is like great vision at any job. Think, focus and stay in peak condition. Be energized and passionate about getting on base, and then swing.

Great vision at the plate is like great vision at any job.

When you get to the plate and have the opportunity to get on base, you face a number of decisions. You must know your own ability verses what the pitcher is going to throw (know your competition’s strengths and weaknesses and position yourself to be able to capitalize on them). Will you go for the home run or try for a base hit? You can get on base by outsmarting the opposing team with a bunt or you can use your knowledge and vision and get a walk to first. In order to go for a double and get it, you have to be in good enough shape to outrun the ball and the fielding play.

You have all the choices when you are at bat, so you have the power

You have all the choices when you are at bat, so you have the power. All the resources you need are available to help you make a decision. There may be other teammates on base that need you to do one thing or another. Your coaches direct you on what they think your best options are. You know your opponents. The more information you have, the better your decisions and the more likely you will be successful at attaining your first goal: getting on base.

After getting on base, you are presented with even more choices. Again, you must know your pitcher but you also need to know where the competition’s weaknesses are on the field. Is the catcher quick and accurate? Can he get up and throw you out at second base if you choose to steal? Can you get an edge up on the pitcher by pulling away from first base to position yourself with a big lead?

As with any steal, there are risks. Weigh the risks… and getting input is key. That is why there is a third-base coach communicating with you via hand signals. They have the ability to see more from their position than you can see from yours. First you have to listen — not just with your ears but also with your eyes. Look where the competition is positioned on the field. Consider what kind of pitch will come from the pitcher and whether your teammate will likely connect and get you to the next base.

Simultaneously (just like all businesses), the man at bat is making a variety of his own decisions (running his own agenda). If you know him well and have good communication with him, you are in a better position to take advantage of what he delivers. He may move in close to the plate to tighten the strike zone and allow you a little extra time to get to second base. He may go for a home run, causing you to hesitate to ensure the ball is over the fence. You may need to tag up before you make a mad dash to take advantage of the pop fly.

Then you have the benefit or challenge of the fans, depending on whether you are playing at home or away. Their energy can enhance your potential or deplete it. You’ve got to find the energy from within to make it all work even if you don’t feel like playing that day!

As you move around the bases, you face new decisions. You are now playing with lots of people. Coaches are giving you a variety of options and you cannot see behind you unless you physically adjust your stance. Will you round third base with the momentum to get to home plate or will you slide to ensure a safe call? Risks abound and you must weigh each of them against your goal — not just to reach the next base, but to get to home plate.

As in any team sport or business, there are multiple, simultaneous goals. You have to consider and prioritize them to determine which will best support the team and then yourself.

Celebration is the key to sustaining energy

When you cross home plate, you have created an opportunity for you and the team to celebrate. Celebration is the key to sustaining energy! People want energy and excitement in their life but don’t often take the time to really celebrate the small victories along the way. Celebrations for things like getting on base or catching a fly ball. Yes, they may be easier than hitting a home run but even home run hitters don’t often get to celebrate.

Having an attitude of gratitude ensures you and your teammates celebrate and enjoy the entire game, not just the results. Celebration allows you to sustain your energy even when you are tired or discouraged and teams without that synergy don’t win as often.

Decide what kind of hitter you will be for the team. Will you consistently get on base? Will you have such a good eye that you will get a walk by saving your energy for the run around the bases? Or will you hit home runs? Are you the player who doubles or triples, setting yourself up to get home with the next good hit? Where you contribute will define where you are in the lineup and whether or when you will be a star — just like on a business team. Everyone has their moment in the light and you have to determine what your primary contribution will be.

Move on to the next post in the series is coming October 25. Stay tuned or follow us for notification.

Create an improvement platform!

I find it interesting that I hear so many leaders talk about wanting Constant and Never Ending Improvement (CANI) and yet they don’t focus on it.

Ask yourself these 3 simple questions:

  1. How are we improving our processes to improve our customer experience?
  2. What are we doing that improves our team members’ competencies?
  3. Are their ways for us to improve productivity?

These questions start the conversation around CANI and are just the beginning.

If you want to improve, you have to change. This requires you to engage your people, improve their skills, and update your processes. These tactical musts ensure productive change… another way to say, “Improvement.”

CANI: Constant and Never-Ending Improvement

Once you have answered the simple questions, determine whether you are really committed to improvement because improvement requires training. Training costs money and needs to be budgeted so your people can receive the knowledge — and application — of how to get to where they need to go next. There is no magic wand.  It doesn’t happen just because you want it; it happens because you value improvement and you fight for it knowing that the front-end costs improve competencies, productivity and engagement. When they know you care…they care.

The Lesson

Training is not a program! It is an ongoing, never-ending process of improvement. How are you ensuring your people are engaged and constantly improving their competencies?  When you invest in them, it shows up… both in them and on your P&L! Budget smart.

All in,



The Great Coach — Business is like Baseball Part 4

Business is like Baseball Part 4: The Great Coach

All great teams have great coaches. A great coach knows that how they communicate and share the vision is the difference between winning big and losing.

As a player, you want to be on a team with a great coach who knows how to get the best out of every person on the team — A coach who communicates with each player in a way that allows them to tap into their true potential.

Teams need different strengths and the coach must fill the positions accordingly. This creates challenges as no one sees the game from the same perspective as those with another, different position on the field. The coach’s job is to energize each player, get them to listen to the strategies/direction the team needs to go, and then take them there.

A great coach does not judge people on how they live but coaches them on how they can perform better. A coach creates an effective environment that works for the team rather than one that only suits him.

Great coaches help you see your own potential

Great coaches help you see your own potential. They give you opportunities to build new competencies. Of course this requires training and practice and with this, you gain confidence to know you can do whatever needs doing — even when the odds are against you. (Think: unhappy client)

Coaches need to have people to think with; they must understand the competition thoroughly so they can position themselves accordingly. An effective coach knows that reviewing game day tapes is one way to continue to identify gaps and move the team to its potential. They understand that celebrating and acknowledging each player’s contribution regardless of how big or small, is key to creating a synergy that will make them unstoppable.

Face it; people like working and playing for great coaches.

A great coach can get people to go far beyond their natural ability or even desire because the “ride” (experience) is so exciting and exhilarating.

Key management and ownership define the culture. Coaches live it. Culture is just a capture for “how we play here.” It defines a team’s values. These values drive daily decisions and create a certain rhythm for the team. All teams/corporations have a culture; one that is clearly defined assists teammates in understanding where they are going and what the rules are. Companies without a clearly defined culture have difficulty surviving times of trouble. Just ask the dot-coms. Many had no clear vision nor defined corporate values so when the going got tough, they did not know how to create synergy and stay alive.

Coaches require discipline: they have systems for how to practice, how to communicate, and how to deal with conflict. They have a style that tells people, “this is the culture here.” If they aren’t congruent with the culture, they know they cannot win and usually find a new coaching job.

It is easier to win when you have a big bankroll though having capital doesn’t necessarily make you a winner.

Culture is the glue that keeps a team together during the inherent storms in every season. It’s the energy that will sustain them during turbulent times.

All in,


Go to Part 5 in the series, or if you missed the previous post, “Getting on a Team,” visit it here. You can also begin the series from Part 1.

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Getting on a Team. Business is like Baseball Part 3.

Getting on a Team

Remember when you were waiting to be picked on the recess field? Most of us do remember: that feeling in the pit of our stomach began to develop if someone didn’t call on us right away… or worse yet, if we were last to be picked! Why is it that once we were chosen we didn’t necessarily celebrate this accomplishment and begin to make our mark?

After getting on a team, not everyone will bat over 300 (by the way, if you are batting 300 in business, you are about to be fired). So how do you make a contribution, just the same?

Each role is vital

All teams have different roles available for players. Each role is vital or it wouldn’t be there. Teams can’t afford dead weight nor can they afford positions that don’t make important contributions. Not everyone will be the home run hitter or the hotshot pitcher. Some people will realize playing time while others will be on the bench supporting those on the field, waiting for their opportunity to contribute. Others will be responsible for promotions to sell seats or for strategies to outsmart the opposing team. Still more will supply enough balls, clean uniforms, and bats that work for each player.

You must apply for the “job” that allows you to contribute and  then be the best at it. It doesn’t matter what job it is because

YOU are not your job.

Nor are you a position. What matters is that you find pleasure in your work and on your team! That you have an opportunity to contribute and lead. Leadership is a behavior, not a position and you can lead whether you are the batboy or the catcher. I know a number of managers who are lousy leaders. The more leaders on the team, the better!

leaders on the team

Once you find the job or position on the field that is right for you, you have the opportunity to contribute and begin to develop yourself for a better job.

First you must be outstanding at the job you were hired to do.

Teams have lots of jobs (players/positions) and when a team is truly superb, all of the players step up and perform at an outstanding level regardless of their position. Once you get on a team, you must focus on your contribution to become the best at it, no matter what that position is. It is true some people on the team won’t notice or acknowledge certain jobs… and who cares? This job is just a stepping stone for the next one and your goal is to contribute and grow. The growth is for you, not for anyone else. It’s a mindset.

If you live in fear of change, you minimize your potential for growth, doing the same job for 20 years and never knowing what else is out there for you to try and experience. This is playing small and life is too short for not living full out!

“Dance as if no one is watching. Sing as if no one can hear; love as if you’ve never been hurt; live as if Heaven is on Earth.” ~Author unknown

 Lastly, remember: To stay on a team and have the opportunity to grow, you need two things to happen:

  1. You must perform and play with all that you have or you will be sent back to the minors – or worse yet – let go

  2. You must live with an attitude of gratitude, thankful for the opportunity (the job or the chance to play on that team)

Even if you don’t like the team, you must believe you are there for some purpose and that the more you contribute, the more they will miss you when you are gone. Most of us want to be remembered fondly and for the contributions we made.

Your farewell speech is being written while you are still on the job.

In case you missed them, here are links back to Part 1 and Part 2 of the series. The next post, Part 4 in the series: The Great Coach can be found here.

Follow us to keep up with new posts!

All in,



Practice. Business is like baseball Part 2.

Business is like Baseball Part 2: Practice

“Practice” is Part 2 in my blog series, “Business is like Baseball.” If you missed the first post, “Everyone is on a team,” you can go back and read it here.

As with any sport or activity, practice is key and doesn’t stop when you make the team. It is a consistent and endless commitment that (at times) is downright tiring in and of itself. Sometimes you don’t feel like it or would prefer to do other things. As an opera singer must train their voice, you must do the same — in life or on the playing field. Once you stop practicing, you could lose your edge (and thus your spot on the team) to someone with more commitment and consistency.

Practice Takes Discipline

Practice takes discipline. Discipline requires thought and a system. There is a certain way to ensure you can work the infield as the shortstop verses playing left field. You make different decisions and possess different strengths for each position. With practice, you learn to hit the ball or catch the ball or throw the ball well with each opportunity. The same thing applies whether you are the manager of a business, the leader of a Fortune 500 company, or the person responsible for answering the phone at your office.

When you have a system — a way of doing something that creates consistent performance — and you practice that system over and over again, you are more likely to deliver outstanding results. In addition, you will create a sense of competence and hence confidence, about what you are doing. This confidence allows you the opportunity to improve upon your system, making it better and smarter so your ability to deliver certain measurable results will continue to improve and outperform others with similar responsibilities.

Practice Takes Focus

Practice takes focus. You can’t go out there and just play around. You have to think, concentrate on your desired outcome, and work hard at whatever it is you are doing. YOU make it happen. Not anyone else. Stay focused to make smart decisions in a nanosecond based on the outcome you are trying to achieve. If you don’t know that desired outcome, you must ask and discover it or you will never feel confident making those key decisions. Remember, no decision is still a decision. It is just one without any powerful thought behind it. And that’s risky.

Practice is your insurance policy.

If you want job security in times of change, you had best be ready for job adaptability. You don’t need a union to secure your position. You need to constantly improve the quality of your work and contribution. The more skills you offer, the more flexibility you have and the more you will learn, grow and contribute. This will give you job security. The people who lose their jobs will be those offering less and if you happen to get laid off anyway, you will have enough to offer that is beyond the norm and above the field of mediocrity so you will be in a position to improve your situation. Face it! Those with an abundance of skills and a desire to perform and contribute always end up on top. You control this.

Practice how you play on the field! You must be able to communicate with the other 8 players on your team without always having the benefit of voice-to-voice contact. You have to support your teammates, backing each other up. Of course, you must also get in shape so you can quickly get to the ball.

Use your resources

One last thing about practice. It has to happen outside of formal, organized team practice, as well. Read up on your competition; determine what needs improvement; build new muscles so you can adapt with changing times; and don’t worry about your position or security. You’ve got to use your resources — from the Internet to the library. Model those you want to be like. Study and understand those you do not want to emulate. Put aside the time to think of new ways to make impact and create value for your team.

All in,


P.S. Check out the next blog post, “Getting on a team,” here.

Business is like Baseball Part 1

Baseball Blog 1: Everyone is on a team

Life is like a baseball game. It offers lots of options, many decisions, and requires you to play on a team. You can’t win on your own; you don’t lose by yourself. It starts with desire and ends with a variety of powerful experiences.

In life, everyone is on a team. Actually, we are on several teams! Teams, like businesses and individuals, compete. On a baseball team, you have 9 players on the field at one time but there are lots of other players on the team. Everyone has a role, along with responsibilities that make impact and drive the results of the team. It is not just the 9 players on the field: the coaches, the sports therapists and doctors, the manager(s), the batboy, the field crew, and even the bench all come together for one powerful and common purpose (vision): TO WIN!

Management Defines the Vision

Management defines the vision; the coaching team determines the strategies and the players’ job is to execute. In baseball, the mission is about coming together to win each game while entertaining the fans. It is about selling seats, hot dogs and caps and creating energy that energizes an entire community. Everyone contributes, including the fans. It is more than winning the pennant…that symbol of the measurable goal! To get there, a good team and coaching staff knows that maximizing the potential of each player while choreographing the entire team’s efforts gets you to the win.

Whether you win or lose is a reflection of how you play. How we play reflects how we live. While some people play full out, others do not. Those that don’t miss out on their real potential as well as the real possibilities in their life.

Coaching team determines the strategies

Key to how we play is how we think. Our thoughts are a reflection of our beliefs and our scripts. Each of us has “little people” in our minds that run our scripts. Some of the scripts are good: “you are a good human being,” while other scripts are negative like “you are no good at…” How we live is a reflection of our choices and behaviors and these choices are just reflections of what we truly believe (think). Ultimately, how you manage your business and its growth is a reflection of what you think. For you to grow your business or make any change, you must first step out of your comfort zone and consider the possibilities.

To change the quality of our lives and our experiences, all we really have to do is change our scripts. Instead of negative scripts that disempower us, we can replace them with more freeing and empowering scripts that support us.

The Players Execute

It has been said, “Life is not a dress rehearsal.” The quality of your life is determined by your choices. You choose to live with enthusiasm and determination just as you can choose to live with pessimism and anger. Why would you want to live with less?

You control the choices you make and the way you feel about the events that occur in your life. That is why some people persevere against difficult odds and others who have been given many opportunities do not accomplish much in their limited time here on earth.

Just like in baseball… the game of life — and business — is just a reflection of your choices. It is that simple. Honest.

So let’s consider how to win this game…

Let's consider how to win this game...


Find the next installment in this Business is like baseball blog series here. Posts continue throughout the World Series!

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Everyone can inspire

Check this guy out.

He is homeless and he is a fan of poetry and of Robert Frost, in particular.

Every few days, he comes to the beach and with the end of his beach umbrella, he shares a poem. This one is The Rose Tree by William Butler Yeats:

Everyone can inspire

He chooses to inspire. He leads us to think. To imagine. To love the poet.

He cares about how his message is delivered, ensuring that the lettering is clear and the lines are aligned. He engages us all into reading what he has shared. He takes the time to select each poem and everyone stands by, patiently waiting for his next inspiration. We want to know him because he touches our hearts.

He makes me ask, “how can I hang with him?”

This is a leader.

The Lesson

Never underestimate your ability to touch another person’s life.

All in,


4 Steps to hiring people who will shine

Recruiting the right people is more strategic than most people realize. Your recruiting must align with both your brand and your culture.
Recently, I went to lunch at a place called Tender Greens and this was the posting at the register:

awesome job postingThat’s right, they are recruiting while you are standing in line to give them your money! Better yet, every person who goes into this cool place knows what it is about and what to expect. And now they know Tender Greens is hiring! Kind of sums up their culture and the people they are looking to attract, doesn’t it?

So, how can YOU have people lining up to work for you even if you are in a difficult location?

  1. You have to engage them. Use interesting visuals and fun photos. Ask them to tell you something about themselves. People will share more than you ever imagined possible. We all love to talk about the “man in the mirror!”
  1. Make it compelling to the audience you are looking to hire. Recruiting a line level employee is likely to require different messaging than recruiting someone looking for a career path. Your audience and message must align.
  1. You are looking for the right people FIRST, so keep the messaging short and sweet. I would rather have someone who is aligned with my culture over a person with a better skillset any day! Skills and processes can be taught. Mindset cannot. It’s a choice… a personal choice!
  1. Set up a website and continuously build up your talent pool by allowing people to apply any time. Be sure to engage with every resume. You never know who may be your next customer!


Is it time to change up your recruiting strategy?

All in,


26 Questions 2 Ask: Drive your 2017 Voice Channel Results

26 Questions To AskConsider this:

Some in the hospitality industry may think that the voice channel is dying. The truth is, it just looks different. Many of these same people thought GDS would go away, too!

Your voice channel’s margin averages 85% flow through — far higher than any 3rd party you do business with and you control the channel on your own terms!

If you ask the smartest retailers in the world, like Zappos and L.L. Bean for instance, they will tell you that the voice channel is a cornerstone to their capture of wallet share, upsell and loyalty.

As you think through your 2017 leisure revenue growth strategies, defining your conversion, REVPAR and distribution goals, our team put together a few questions to help you think differently about how to leverage your voice channel.

Download the checklist here.

If you want to explore a voice channel optimization plan or it is time for training and team development that drives 5 points of conversion within 90 days, please reach out to renie@aspiremarketing.com to talk it through.


Wide Awake

Are you fully present in your world these days?

Or are the days running you?

Do little things annoy you?

Do you find yourself paying attention to what is on fire in front of you rather than staying focused on what matters most?

Sometimes we need to slow it way down to get things moving. The noise of our everyday lives can be loud and nonessential things can become our mind’s focus. The old adage, “what you focus on comes true,” still holds true.

As you begin reflecting on 2016 while planning for 2017, what things were critical that did not get the time and attention they should have? What will you do differently to not let that happen in the future?  Let the guilt slip away as guilt is an illusion. Guilt is noise!

You can change anything with a moment’s decision. Make the decision. Own it. Move on it. Our ability to stay present and focused defines how we spend our time. Other people don’t own your time, no matter how hard they may try!


(actively) TAKE your time.

All in,


If people aren’t cutting it, cut them.

We all know that we can’t accomplish much of anything beyond mediocre without the right people. At some level, extraordinary businesses have a no-tolerance mindset towards mediocrity which results in a high number of outstanding performers.

Is this harsh? Of course not. If you want to be the best, you have to select and coach the best. The deeper your team’s talent pool, the easier it is for you to leverage opportunities, proactively effect change, and drive outstanding results.

The Rule: Who (talent) matters more than what (task). If you don’t have the right person in the right seat on that proverbial bus of yours, you can’t get to your desired destination (results). Stop lying to yourself! If they aren’t cutting it, cut them.

The Lesson

A high bar helps your people reach their true potential. A low bar serves no one. Talented leaders make the cut!

All in,


Intensity to Impact

I find it interesting when I hear people say their boss or someone on their team is “so intense” as if that is a bad thing! Intensity is the gas pedal in a car. It is what it takes to get anything moving. Just because you have a car with fuel in the tank doesn’t mean it is going to go anywhere. Someone has to actually start the car and put the pedal to the medal!

This is leadership and everyone leads.

Creating a healthy level of intensity sets a rhythm for your team to align together. You begin by effectively thinking through what you want to accomplish and how you will get there. In the end, intensity puts those intentions into action.

It is action that makes impact.

The Lesson

Nothing big happens without intensity.

Embrace it.

Pace it.

And let it rip!

All in,


People are your billboards

Why is it we are willing to spend so many marketing dollars on attracting new customers and not nearly as much on retaining our current customers? What can you do to ensure the customer in your lobby is definitely coming back? How do you create real loyalty?

It’s your team members who hold the key to your retention marketing. Your people are your voice. They connect your customer to your brand experience and are the foundation to ensure your guests are engaged. Loyalty has evolved. Has your loyalty strategy evolved with it?

Your associates give your guests meaningful time and attention. Are your people the billboards you want?

  1. Train them on your brand essence and how they bring it to life. Ensure they see how their work connects the dots. Set the bar: they are to be present and engaged with each guest.
  2. Your people must know what experiences your clients want to explore and always make the experience about the guest.
  3. People like what their friends like. Your social media is your lobby billboard. Make sure it says what you want!
  4. Training people is the only way to get your people to do what you need them to do in a way your guests will speak about. In the end, your guests are your billboard. Ensure they say all the right things.

When it comes to loyalty, Maya Angelou said it best:

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

All in,


17 Things to Consider when Planning for 2017

Think Differently…

As you and your team start the 2017 planning process, step back and aggressively challenge the status quo.  

If you want to raise the bar, you will have to do things differently. That means change and evolve. Hoping that things will just get better is not a strategy for success;  it is a formula for failure!   

To help you and your team take on 2017, check out these 17 tips for turning it on in 2017:


Include as many of your leaders, supervisors and up-and-comers as possible in your planning

  1. Don’t worry about tactics until you have the strategic direction Many people think tactically. Tactics are only effective if you have the right strategies. Strategies answer the question “what will we do?”
    • First, think about “what” (the key strategies).
    • Then ask, “how can we be disruptive?”

The strategic direction should be defined by your entire senior leadership and key department heads team. Take a strategic look at these 7 places:

  • Guest experience
  • Associate / Team Member journey
  • Retention strategy
  • Brand optimization
  • Customer development targets
  • Ownership expectations and alignment
  • Business Practices: Process improvement & productivity optimization

THINK TOGETHER. Meet offsite with your leadership team to discuss current results and indicators. Open with the question: “If we could do anything to quantum leap our market share, revenues and/or profitability, what would we do?”

THINK OPENLY. Begin your plan with a concentrated review of your Vision, Mission and Brand Strategy. Ask how to expand your imprint and strengthen your point(s) of differentiation. It leads to innovation.

BE A CHANGE INSTIGATOR. Identify what must change, what needs to change and what obstacles you need to remove in order to make those changes effective.

CANI (Constant and Never-Ending Improvement). Review your meetings, meeting agendas and outcomes. Look for redundancy. Tie meetings into improv- ing processes, optimizing time and maximizing productivity.

6 ASK. What are your operational improvement areas?

REVIEW FEEDBACK. What does your social media tell you about your operation that you need to change, enhance or leverage?

WHO ARE YOUR BEST CUSTOMERS? How do they think? How do they prefer to buy? Who else thinks and acts like them?

9 REFLECT. What does distribution look like today? What is the optimal distribution approach? How can you improve margins through shifting your channels?

10 FINISH THIS SENTENCE: “People love hanging with us because…” What is the narrative you want to create and be known for?

11 HOW ENGAGED ARE YOUR PEOPLE? Are they “all in”? How competent are they? What training needs refreshing (minimum every 2 years) and what training needs to be developed? You should have something new every year to keep your people learning and your guest experience evolving.

12 GRADE YOUR TALENT ON A SCALE OF 1-10. Everyone. Where are you strong? Where are you weak? What are you going to do about it? Look at the 3 indicators of high performance:

  1. Head in the game – How is their attitude? Attitude has a 68% impact on performance
  2. Skill levels – Do they know how to do the job functions?
  • Process capabilities – Do they us the processes in place to ensure consistency and sustainability around their work product?

13 HOW CAN YOU REFRESH YOUR SERVICE? What is special about the experience? Find your signature.

14 EXAMINE. What are your opportunities to leverage pre-arrival wallet share capture?

15 REVIEW YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION TOUCH POINTS. What enhancements do you need to make? Consider your arrival experience, website, front door, parking lots, hallways, elevators, etc.

16 WHAT IS YOUR DEPARTURE EXPERIENCE LIKE? Ensure it makes every customer say, “I really love this place!”


  1. Ask the team to explore: “How will we stand out from the clutter as a brand?” Your entire leadership team should spend 4 hours on how to strengthen your brand, market position and customer retention. Every leader/discipline manager should participate in your sales and marketing plan if you want everyone to be a “sales person”.
  2. Do not click [file/save as] when building your sales and marketing Rethink your entire plan approach. Make it into one page. Then…
  • Develop a one page sales/marketing plan for:
    1. Each sales person
    2. Each revenue department
  • Each marketing key focus area

Think and prepare before you move. Planning is a thinking process. It requires quiet space and time — as many as 50 to 100 hours — to develop a truly well designed plan. We call the process TPM™…Think. Prepare. Move. If you think and prepare first, when it is time to Move, you move better, smarter and faster.

Need some help facilitating your annual retreat? Want help thinking differently about your business and how you will drive stronger results through strategy in 2017? Email renie@aspiremarketing.com.

CLICK to access 10 more things to do in preparation for 2017.

All in,


Are you a soul thinker?

Soul thinking is our ability to envision and ultimately live from a place that matters, a place where we don’t have to worry about what we don’t know or can’t control. A place where we have clarity of what matters most and which allows us to prioritize our never-ending to do list. Where we can act on the things we want to do or change vs. procrastinating.

When we think from our soul, we think deeply about what we want and are less focused on how it has to come to us. Sometimes we get so caught up in the absolute actions that need to occur, we miss the signs that would allow us to have something even better. When we think with soul we don’t let the little people in our brains run our lives, directing us toward chaos and fear.

The Lesson 

Soul thinking allows us to truly feel and know what we want and stay aligned, moving towards it.  And this gives our soul peace of mind.

All in,


Stressed out?

You don’t shine when you are overly stressed. Stress generally creates negativity. It does not drive innovation nor inspire people to perform at their best. Focus does. Stress puts endless limits on how you think. It triggers fear which makes us small ­– and small does not serve you or the world.

Stress doesn’t really motivate us, though it can make us more productive or efficient at times. To truly shine at our work and in our lives though, we have to keep our stress levels in check. Frequently, others trigger our stress. Sometimes this is due to a lack of connection or ineffective communication and other times it is due to unrealistic expectations or performance. There is nothing we can do to change other people and yet we can manage their expectations through improving our communication and approach. To decrease stress, we must have a dialogue NOT a monologue.

Look around! Who are you stressing out? How is that serving you or them? Look for ways to help people succeed and you will decrease their stress and help them shine. Ask people to solve their problems and they will feel empowered through the process of correcting what is wrong vs. defending it.

The Lesson

Stress puts us in a busy-ness and busy-ness stimulates intensity, creating more stress. Stress sucks the joy out of our lives. Remember:

  • No one gives you stress – you give it to yourself
  • Over-scheduling always causes stress
  • Stress is a view of the world coupled with your need to try and control it
  • Cut back your never-ending to do list and focus on what really matters 
  • Laughter is a good cure for stress as it gives us perspective and allows us to have some fun

All in,


Fear the status quo

How do you positively disrupt your customer experience? How can you innovate your sales pitch? How do you ensure your brand’s relevance?

You must make sure your team knows that they are expected to act boldly to challenge the status quo.

I don’t understand why people hold on so tight to the status quo. The status quo is mediocrity. Who wants to be part of that crowd? The world is full of mediocrity and as a leader, regardless of your position, you must ask how to rise above it.

Nothing changes when you hold onto what you know. The safe and secure. We know that we want more and we have to have the courage to take the risks required to stretch and lead innovation. Yes, doing something differently is risky and most don’t dare!  Actually, 72% live in the status quo zone.


Imagine what you can do if you push people to think differently and dare to kick the status quo’s ass.

Imagine the possibilities…

All in,


Self-leadership today

Today… things are moving fast. Our never-ending to do list is longer than ever. We find ourselves with less time and more to do. What is happening? Why does life seem so out of control? So spinning? Why are we less tolerant? Less thoughtful? More aggressive? Less hopeful?

Today… we are a world in great transition. Transition is like an awakening – it is the time when we must check in and reflect. Where am I in my life’s journey? Do I find joy in my work? Do my relationships enhance my life or do they detract from it? How do I serve others? How do I contribute to the world at large? All great questions and ones that we have to answer thought-FULLY.

Today… is a time of self-leadership. It is about leading from within. Self-leadership is the sense of knowing that you are in total control of your life. No one else’s; just your own. Self-leadership is the reflection that what you contribute is important to how things come to be in your life.

Today… we need to move from the transitions we are feeling outside of ourselves to the transformation that we want within ourselves, as this is our life. Transformation starts with making a different choice. It means to let go of fear that only depletes who we were meant to be and believe that with new choices, we have the opportunity to have the life we dream.

The Lesson

Don’t be afraid of change. Be afraid of not changing.

All in,


Rights are not wrong

Something to reflect on…

Roll of Thunder

Racism is a fierce thing;

Don’t let others control you;

Love is strong so let it roam;

Laughing until it hurts is good for you!

Oh, but family counts the most.

To this day, people still judge others

However, that doesn’t make it right;

Up in the tree I shall climb

Nearer and nearer to the sky;

I get a clearer view there of what’s up down here.

Equality and rights are the key…

Emotional and exciting days:

A lot of wrong and mean things;

Rights are who we are.

Myself, you and others…

But only you can change something in yourself.

We all cry sometimes, some more than others;

The ring is not big enough for both of us.

Only you are the key to yourself.

By Bella de Roos


My daughter’s perspective when she was 13. She continues to teach me every day.

All in,


The story makes the experience. The experience makes the brand.

Every interaction is an opportunity to tell your story… a story that speaks to your brand and your culture. From how it feels when someone answers the phone to how you present your menu and food, your stories unfold.

Storytelling is fundamental to how you market your message. It is a differentiator. It takes a customer on a journey that comes to life at various touch points, both small and significant; and anchors in who you are over time. Stories have meaning and bring a customer into your world so they become a part of it. This is where loyalty begins. It isn’t about points… it’s about how they feel inside your story.

What are your top 5 client touch points? What are your stories?  Where are your signature imprints for the customer to understand why they want to be a part of your story?


To make the story come to life, you have to teach your people how to tell your stories. Service stories must be short, interesting, provide a twist, and stay aligned with your brand.

It can be as simple as, “you may notice the art around our hotel… it highlights that we see the world a little bit differently so please be sure to take a look.” Or, “our menu is inspired by our local farmers and we go way beyond fresh. We want you to taste something different so let me share a few of our Chef’s favorites and what makes them special.”

We all love a good story. What’s yours?

All in,



You are either engaging or you are disengaging…

Every single contact with your people is an opportunity to engage… or to disengage your people. That is the power of your leadership. If that doesn’t freak you out, I’m not sure what will.


Be an engager!

I’ll skip the rest of this narrative this week.  I think this sums it up!

All in,


Too much energy?

Why people get annoyed with energetic and enthusiastic people is beyond me. I get that not everyone is moving at 100 miles an hour or sees the full spectrum kaleidoscope rather than just the three primary colors. I can respect that! But the world is fueled by energy. It takes tremendous momentum to innovate and effectively disrupt the bloody status quo so many hold onto so dearly! What are they so afraid of? More of the same seems a lot scarier to me!

There is no passion without energy.

Passion is the combustion of energy, emotion and focus… and it fuels our lives.

What kind of life is it if it isn’t one full of passion? Who wants that?

The Lesson

Today is your day, so go LIVE BIG. Let those energy squashers look on in disbelief. Never let anyone convince you that you were born to play small. That’s not why we were put on this planet.

Play full out…like your life depends on it!

All in,


Time, Priorities & Choices

What matters most?

With all of the choices we have to make every day, our endless To-Do lists, and all this talk of work-life balance, we can sometimes feel overwhelmed. When this happens, the question I find myself asking is:

“With all of these priorities on my list, what problem do I want?”

The fact is: Something Will Not Get Done.

What will be the impact? How big a problem will I then face?

For example, if you don’t make your health a priority, you will have a problem (I can assure you) that you do not want. Health doesn’t just improve our lives; health is at the core of our ability to think. And everything is a derivative of thinking:  innovation, problem solving, love!

If I don’t make my daughter a priority, I am not living with my value to be a present and engaged Mama who ensures she has the confidence to live a happy and productive life. That is a MUST on my list!

The Lesson

We all get 24 hours a day. That’s it. No more. No less. How we use those hours is our choice. No one else’s. It is in our choices that our life is defined. Choose wisely.

All in,


Quiet the Noise

More Noise = Less Productivity

Noise. It clutters our minds. It tends to be full of negativity and depletes our energy. It is frequently petty rather than productive, and it can get SO LOUD that it sucks our focus. It takes our eye off what matters most. If you want more focus, energy and productivity, shut down the noisemakers.

Whether you lead people or lead yourself, it is imperative that you look for and stamp out the noisemakers.

Noise comes in many forms. Sometimes we create our own noise through our self talk and fear. Other times it is the people around us that stir noise to change our focus or deflect accountability. Regardless of your position, you have to listen for what matters and filter out the rest.

I often see noise creep up when people are trying to solve a problem. They overthink the situation or come up with so many obstacles, they get overwhelmed and cannot think of solutions. They tend to get into their head vs. addressing the issue in a clean and healthy way: Using their voice!

The best way to solve a problem is to turn that problem into a question and then focus on answering the question.

My single favorite question to help me when I feel like there is too much on my plate or when I am stuck following up on what others have somehow deemed most important to me (which is really most important to them) is to ask:  “What matters most?” This helps me with my focus – whether it is in my business or trying to find the time to work out and take care of my health.


Yes, you can still draft your endless to-do list. Then you must stop and ask, “what matters most?” Then delete the rest. Once we understand that we “cannot do all,” we free ourselves from the feeling we have to find a way to get it all done.

All in,


Squashing the Pessimists

“No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.” Helen Keller

Aren’t you sick of the complainers? The whiners? The naysayers? Those with no real platform except to complain about what is wrong and simultaneously feeling no responsibility to suggest how to fix it?!  Everyone, especially our organization’s leaders, has to be aware of these cancer carriers.

Pessimism is a drain on your team’s potential. People who focus on why things won’t work tend to stop the organization from exploring how to innovate and taking risks that allow for real growth and differentiation. Pessimists long for the lazy way, the status quo. They hope that if they scream loud enough people will go with “the devil we know.” I call them the small thinkers! They don’t get my time or energy.

So how do you stop those pessimists whose voices tend to be so loud? Teach your team to think together. To understand that you really pay them to think and imagine what else we can evolve that makes a difference – in influence and impact. Start with this approach and make it your own.

  1. At least once a month have a “thinking only meeting.” Identify the area you want to solve, innovate or think differently about. Create your topic. This allows people to get in the habit of thinking together and thinking about things differently. The easiest way to do this is to pose a question. The ideation comes from the question. The stronger the question, the stronger the thinking.
  2. Be sure to set the ground rules: We are here to expand our thinking so everything goes.
  3. Let it rip. Have someone who has no vested interest in the topic capture the feedback, comments and ideas. Use a chart format so you have the contribution in one column and the contributors in the other.
  4. At the end of the meeting, take 10 minutes to discuss what needs to happen next to move the ball. Don’t be overly committed to doing anything. See if there was something worth moving forward on. Sometimes great ideas occur on the first round. Sometimes you need a few rounds. Sometimes you had the wrong question. Lead on!

The Lesson

No progress comes without cost. Don’t let the voice of the pessimist undermine your team’s potential to do something extraordinary!

All in,


The Culture Club

What matters most in building a strong culture? Engagement. What is engagement? At Aspire we define it as the ability to build a fanatical commitment to your brand’s promise and company values. Your brand promise is the experience every customer gets from  your product or service. Your values are how you get things done.

When you have high engagement, people want to come to work. They understand how their contributions support the company’s success. They enjoy their jobs. Engagement is the emotional energy your people desire to give. The more they positively engage, the stronger your velocity. Of course the opposite is also true.

Your culture in action

Here are a few elements you have to consider if you want your people to be fanatical about your brand and committed to how your customers experience it:

  1. If you can’t make a business case to define, strengthen and constantly fund the training and tools to sustain engagement you won’t be able to have a strong culture. All levels of the organization must be committed to the power and ROI of an engaged culture.
  2. Who are your champions? You must have a voice and it needs to be at a variety of organizational levels. The voice of your mission must be compelling to ownership, management and associate levels. If you can’t get direct buy-in, then you haven’t made the business case to the audiences you need aligned. It is that simple!
  3. If your leaders are not aligned, forget it. If your top brass are not engaged, it will reflect on how the rest of the team engages. Leadership is a behavior and they have to behave and demonstrate what this culture looks like, sounds like and feels like. You can’t say it and hope that people just buy in. People decide if it is real based on what they see and how it feels.
  4. Keep it simple. Your people have to be able to understand what matters most about the culture. I share with every new hire that I have 3 expectations:
    1. Bring joy into the building – regardless of where that building is. Negativity is not productive or accepted. If you are not happy here, no problem. You need to leave.
    2. Be prepared to work your ass off on behalf of each other and our clients. Great work requires great effort, talented people, alignment to our clients’ needs and the energy to care deeply – especially when things are hard. Lazy people don’t make it past 30 days.
    3. Help clean up the mess regardless of who made it. Blame and shame is not productive. When you mess up, own it and ask for help. If someone else needs help, give it. We all have responsibilities and we are always stronger when we have the compassion to help each other succeed.
  5. Speak to your audience. Different people have different needs, wants and expectations. Some people want to see their career path while others want to know how to make more money. The more you know your people, the more compelling you can make your case on why they want to engage deeply.
  1. What is your sustainability strategy? Culture is not a credo card or a poster campaign (though these can be powerful sustainability tools). If you want to keep your culture alive, keep it in the discussion. Think of it as an endless internal drip campaign.

The Lesson

Culture is like a plant. You have to take care of it, talk to it, water it, fertilize it, change the pot when it grows and make sure it has sun or whatever it needs (encouragement!). When you are fanatical about your culture, you will ensure your people are fully engaged… or as we say it at Aspire:

All in,



If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses. Henry Ford

It is hard for people to imagine what they cannot see. If they could, the iPhone, iPad, the PC and the Walkman would have never been envisioned. The key is to stop and think with your team. Just ideate!

We recently took horrible hallways and designed them into floors of art galleries, taking the bad and making it into something unique and extraordinary. Imagine walking down a hotel hallway and experiencing a curated gallery experience of beautiful, fun, interesting, original local art?

Innovation occurs when we stop and think without restrictions. Great ideas come through collaboration and an openness to explore… imagining without all the rules. Using a process to guide a team helps to identify gaps and opens up endless possibilities. We tend to just evolve vs. invent, so this week take some time with your team to just imagine.

I once had a boss who told me, “Renie, I pay you to think!”  It was powerful beyond words. I can’t stop thinking…

The Lesson

What could your guest experience be that is one of a kind? How can you break a few rules to create something that stands out from the clutter? Something that people will value?  What might you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?  Skip the rules and the reasons why not and just imagine.

All in,


Are you coasting?

Fantastic speaker, author and coach Toni Newman said it best:

“Coasting only happens downhill.”

As a speaker, I get to attend conferences all around the world and that gives me an endless platform to learn and grow! In our busy world, it is always important to fit in time to learn —whether it is networking, hanging with a mentor for an hour, reading, or attending a seminar just to collect ideas and think.

The learning never stops unless you start coasting…which begs the question: are you coasting?

Many of us work day in and day out, and we get good at it…and yet, are we really pushing ourselves to our potential? Being truly extraordinary at anything takes fanatical commitment and a desire to evolve…to change! The real question is: are you fully committed to improving your craft and playing at the highest level every day?

The challenge with constant and never ending learning is finding the time. Currently, I am reading seven books. How is that possible? My favorite way to learn is to read. I dig into a book and use it more as a workbook, jotting down ideas and applications inside the front cover, in margins, and on blank pages so I know where to go to reflect.

Another way I love to learn is through attending conferences. Hearing what others are thinking and studying stimulates me to think and study. My team at Aspire always has a look of fear in their eyes when I head off to a conference as they know an endless stream of consciousness and possibilities on improvement and innovation is about to arrive in one form or another.

I also love thinking with my team. Taking the time to slow up and think together is truly a gift. Sometimes, we just sit in my dining room and work together on a variety of projects and as we move through our own work, we engage with one another on ideas or questions that stimulate us all to think differently or ask new questions. Questioning is at the heart of problem solving and innovation. What we question shapes how we look and think about a situation. I never get bored with that!

Why do so many hang on to what they know rather than get excited about what they don’t? It is in what we don’t know that we grow and evolve. Evolution is what allows us to become the extraordinary beings we were meant to be.

This week, step back to ask yourself and each member of your team:

  • What are you reading or doing that is inspiring you to think differently?
  • How are you feeding your mind to learn and grow?

The Lesson

Stay curious. Learn something new today!

All in,


If we don’t want the Status Quo, why do we hold on to it so tightly?

Why do so many hold on to the status quo? Who is inspired by the tried and true? To do what we already know?

We were put on this earth to leave a legacy behind and nothing of significance comes from leaving behind something that is “just more of the same.”

It takes courage for leaders (and remember… leadership is a behavior not a position) to dare to do what has not been done or for that matter, to evolve things beyond what we know is a sure thing. The real challenge in moving your team’s bar is in dealing with the power of those who judge so aggressively as they are the loudest voices.

The Voices…the ones that scream out for immediate impact. It is overwhelming. (Shout out to those with tough investors and Wall Street.) And yet true evolution takes time. It takes thought. It takes collaboration. It takes risk and bold thinking. Sometimes, even failure. And with great leadership, this well thought-out strategy allows for the sun to rise and something unique and significant to happen.

Let’s look at our industry. Was the heavenly bed really that brilliant? You bet it was! It took the logic behind the question, “what does it take for a great night’s sleep?” and not only identified the void, but filled it. The heavenly bed said, “Hello customers, let’s really have a good nights sleep.”  At the time, it was heavenly and now every brand delivers some level of “heavenly.” Face it. It was smart. And smart is just smarter!

How do you do something extraordinary as a leader when so many people insist on doing something ordinary? Something immediate. Something small.

The Lesson

Be bold. Dare to take a stand. And then communicate what it will take in terms of time, money and effort to make something extraordinary kick the status quo’s ass.

All in,


Love is all there is

I just had the pleasure of seeing Ken Niumatalolo, the head football coach of the Naval Academy. I have to say I loved him. He was so real and so aware. It all comes down to culture and he, as the Coach, defines the culture. Nice to hear a leader take responsibility for the culture…for better or for worse! This man has done great things with his team including defeating Army every season where Niumatalolo has been head coach (eight times).

What was really compelling to me was that to him the core of leadership starts with love.  I so agree. Why are we so “weirded out” about loving our teammates? When we love, we are committed. We are accepting. We are “All In.”

Coach Niumatalolo was also clear on his WHY and does everything he can to align his team against it. His goal may be to win games and his WHY is to build character in men while building a “brotherhood,” a family. No one person is of more or less value than any other.  It made this short, petite girl wish she had played football for him!

The Lesson

Lead with love and your people will love following and performing for you. In the end, love is all there is anyway!

All in,


“With great power comes great responsibility,” (from “Spider-Man”)

Power is an interesting thing. With it you can make tremendous impact relatively easily. Understanding that impact is what makes some leaders Super Heroes and others Super Duds!

When I see someone with power misuse, it just makes me feel “icky” inside. I understand that power triggers our egos and when we move from an egocentric mindset vs. from a confident one, we tend to cause destruction that we may not even notice.

I believe that knowledge is power. When we give our knowledge to others, we empower them. That not only leaves a powerful legacy, it allows for those around us to contribute more and find joy in the process.

The Lesson

Leaders who use knowledge to control or spread fear are just crappy leaders and not-so-great human beings from my perspective. Great leadership is in the humility of knowing that the more power and influence we have, the more responsible and supportive we need to be.

All in,


Thrive or Survive

The difference between thriving and surviving is as vast as its impact on our life. When we are thriving we are in a creative, engaged mind set. We see abundance and tend to be open to how we can achieve more of what we want in our work, relationships and lives.

Surviving, on the other hand, is fear-based living. We tend to focus on the limitations we are faced with and can easily move into blaming and shaming others. In survival we see the problems – not the solutions – and this causes us to generate more energy within us that doesn’t serve us.

We all move into survival at times and the goal is to help find ways to get out of it. Here are a few ways to move out of survival:

  1. Be curious vs. sitting in judgment of the situation. This can be hard to do so it is always helpful to have people around you who can help guide you out of judging and into curiosity.
  2. If you don’t like what is happening, realize that you can begin to change it in a nanosecond by changing the question you are asking. For example:
    • “Why is this happening?” may help you understand the problem but it doesn’t move you out of the problem. If you change the question to “what needs to happen differently so I can solve this problem?” you naturally move into a solution mindset.
  3. Find what is right about the situation and move from there. Building on what is right, regardless of how small that might be or of how it feels at the time, builds momentum towards the progress you are seeking.
  4. Be open and talk through the challenge with those who can solve it so everyone wins. Realize that most people want to be a part of a solution.

The Lesson

Though thriving and surviving may be vastly different, you can move to thriving quickly if you change your mindset and your actions.

3 Questions that will change your life

There is nothing quite as annoying as when people aren’t accountable for their work and deliverables and yet, managers frequently do not lay down the foundation of accountability.

Teams with accountability issues remain mediocre in their performance. They may find a rhythm and yet they cannot sustain it. What does it take to create a highly accountable organization?

  1. Be clear on expectations
  2. Be clear on the priority and timing
  3. Be clear on the follow-through agreements. How will you or others know that it is done or where it is in the process?

The Lesson

If you want more accountability, end every meeting – whether it is a one-on-one or a staff meeting – with the 3 greatest questions of all time:

  1. What will you do?
  2. By when will you do it?
  3. How will I know?

Bonus Tip:

If you are the person taking the notes, you are the person who truly owns the deliverable. If it is someone else’s responsibility, the only thing you should be noting is what you get and by when… Your calendar is your best friend!


All in,


The only thing in your way is you!

Procrastination is just our brains saying, “this really isn’t a priority I am committed to.”

When we live with the knowledge that we control our destiny… that life in the past is the way it was and life in the future is the way we decide to create it… we stop thinking about what might be directly in front of us and start moving towards what we want our life, including our work, to be.

If you want to exercise, start by getting off the couch! If you want to create a more financially secure future, start by not spending and begin tracking your expenses. If you need to replace someone on your team, start interviewing.

The difference between what you have and what you want is in your willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve it and to start moving towards your goals, both immediate and long term.

The Lessons

  • Think differently about what you want to change
  • Start with one thing that moves you closer to what you want to accomplish
  • Decide what you will do now that you have been procrastinating around

When is NOW a good time?

All in,


Passion is your sword!

Passion fuels our lives. It lives within us and though some of us have yet to awaken it, it is still there… waiting and hoping. Passion is the combustion of energy, emotion and focus!  When we awaken our passion, we become unstoppable! If we truly feel passionate about something, we work and move toward it with the charge of a rhinoceros.

Many timsword-891358_640es passionate people are told to “tone it down.” Of course these voices are the noise of those less passionate. The truth is toning down our passion does not serve us; it only holds us back.

Your passion is your sword and the gift that will allow you to have what you want in your life. Passion as a leader is the drug of engagement. We all want to be around leaders who believe and passion is at the heart of what connects us emotionally.

The key to truly being outstanding in your work, friendships, relationships and life in general is to unlock and awaken your passion.

The Lesson

Screw the naysayers. Don’t be afraid of those who spend their life worrying about limitations. You were born to play big. Live out loud!

All in,


Encourage Productivity

I recently witnessed a conversation that was unraveling. It was interesting to watch how the person who was holding another person accountable became the bad guy. No one won…

It is true that how we say and do things is more impactful than what we actually accomplish in most people’s eyes. Aggressive leadership, though in the short term may feel powerful, is actually destructive. It shuts down the desire to participate in a solution and get to the goal at hand. It is frustrating to everyone involved.

So how do you get the productivity you need when nothing seems to light the fire?

  1. All of us make excuses when we drop the ball and humiliation won’t get a person to own their crap. Instead, start with open-ended questions to engage in a discussion. This does not mean that you are fluffy or weak. It means that a conversation is always more effective than a lecture. I always say, “conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue!”
  2. Leave your frustration at the door. State your disappointment and move on to a solution. Avoid the “why story.” You will just get frustrated and it takes the person’s focus off the real solution.
  3. How you say it is actually what you say. Words generally have little value when it comes to dealing with a conflict. Tone and body language are your message.
  4. Timing is everything. When it comes to holding people accountable, it is best done one-on-one.
  5. End all conversations with…agreements. Otherwise, get ready for another conversation…

The Lesson

If you want to improve productivity, try encouragement.

All in,


Are you Living with Gratitude?

My daughter turned 15 this week. It is still extraordinary to me that they let me leave the hospital with her 15 years ago! There is no real “training program” on how to be a great parent. I was blessed as I was “older” when I had her so my many friends, whom I admired as parents, have been my parenting coaches and mentors. I was never afraid to ask those I respected for their opinions on just about any parenting topic. I still ask!

As I look at my 15-year-old today, I can’t help but think about how blessed I am to have her in my life.

This is also true when I look at the people I work beside each day. Over the last 21 years, my fellow Aspirates have been many and with few exceptions, they have each enhanced my life in some way.

A full life is one that has many sources of love in it. And the only way to honor your life is to express your gratitude.

The Lesson

We are all so busy. There is always too much on our never-ending to-do lists. Take a moment today to reflect on how blessed you are for the family, friends and colleagues you are lucky enough to stand beside and for the many who love you.

Hell, a “thank you” might make sense, too. After all, they put up with you!



Change does not live in the same house as Comfortable

For the most part, people understand that things have to change. We get it intellectually! We may not like it… and without evolution, all things die. Why is it that we hold on so tightly to things that may not serve us?

I think one of the hardest changes is when we have to make the decision to let someone go. It is a change that feels uncomfortable in so many ways. We start with “Well at least they are the devil we know.” I see people say this in their relationships all the time. Who wants to hang with the devil anyway?

The real challenge with change isn’t the change. It is the discomfort we feel when things are not as we know they need to be. We are all for change if we can make the change occur through other people so we don’t feel uncomfortable in any way. The saying is “for things to change, I must change.” It is not, “You must change even if we would prefer that the change that needs to occur not affect our world.”

Change triggers all kinds of fear: The fear of the unknown. The fear of not making the progress we need. The fear that the change we need to make might not give us the result we are looking for.

The Lesson

Change has its risks and challenges. It is uncomfortable. And in the end, change happens. The trick is whether you are leading the change or waiting for it to happen to you. Your choice… because the one thing that is for sure is that change is a constant.

All in,