How to Talk With People You Cant Stand (It’s a Good Idea)

It's such a popular notion to get rid of the nay-sayers and negative people. If you label them as toxic, then you can write them out of your life. Logic, and lots of authors, suggest you ignore them, unfriend them, forget they exist. They claim its good for your health.

Except.

That's not only impossible, it's not good for you.

Keep this in mind: You never know when you can help someone you don't like.

I had an experience recently that brought the point home. It's embarrassing, however worth my red face, for a lesson learned.

It's about a very nasty colleague I just wanted to erase from my life. However, he wouldn't go away. The more I ignored him, was slow with responses, the more he persisted.

Finally, to get him off my back,I texted him that I would be available for coffee. I figured if the meeting had boundaries that included one cup of coffee I could get away fast.

Now, here's where it got interesting.

He has extreme views on everything from politics, to climate change, to how to hire and fire employees. I've heard everything he disagrees with over and over. Nothing was going to change his perspective so I just figured I would listen and leave, fast.

I'm sure he could tell I thought he was a nuisance by my body language. Normally, I'm pretty relaxed and fun to be with (so I've been told). Around him I was very stiff and formal.

Until.

He wanted some advice. Just that was different from this bombastic know-it-all I was used to when I worked with his leadership team. 

The human being inside of him began to show up. He told me he was worried about his job. He knew, he told me, he turned off most of his colleagues with his strong points of view. Suddenly he didn't sound like the guy who had all the answers in the team meetings. After the second cup of coffee he got to the heart of the reason he wanted to meet.

He was divorced. OK I knew that. He then shared that he had two grown children who ended their relationship with him several years ago and it was ripping him apart. He said that when I taught 'you need to clear the past to free the future' it hit him like a ton of bricks.

Quietly, he asked for coaching. He didn't want it to be paid for by the company and he wasn't sure I would even agree to it. He sat with his head down as he waited for me to respond.

I must admit, I felt like a fool. I know better than to judge. And yet, that's exactly what I had been doing. 

I started a private coaching program with him. Months later he decided to reach out to his son and daughter. It took some time and is still a work in progress. He is also less of a bully in meetings. He now waits to hear others and asks questions rather than just talk over everyone.

I knew better than to ignore this guy. Yet, I did just that. I took the easy way. I still feel stupid as I write this. If you have a toxic person in your midst, don't wait.

                                          1. Invite them for coffee.

                                          2. Pay attention to your body language.

                                          3. Admit that you want to find a new way to relate.

                                          4. Ask open ended questions (How, what, where, when).

                                          5. Be open to outcome and don't impose your perspective.

Everyone who is in our lives has a role. Once you know that and you decide to talk rather than run the other way, you may be surprised to find a friend rather than a foe on the other end of the relationship. It's worth the effort. Wort case, you will have done your part and that's real leadership.

5 Lies That Will Hold You Back in Your Career & Relationships

Working with clients in all domains of their lives I see patterns. Here is a recent trend of patterns I've seen popping up over the last year. Whether it be in their career, with their boss or business partner, their direct reports, or their spouse, their friends, their kids, stuff comes up that slows us down. Here are 5 common "lies" I see holding people back, slowing them down, and wasting precious energetic resources. Have a look, any of these for you?

  1. I'm too busy. You're never too busy. Make the time. Be it time for communication, time to find the perfect fit of a job, a new venture that inspires you, or nourishing a relationship you want to grow -- you're not too busy, make the time. The ROI for creating the space and time for anything you WANT in terms of career and relationship can be grand. But you have to own the time. Claiming busy is a scapegoat that will go for miles yet get you nowhere. (For more on time, see my recent article in this column.) 
  2. I'm not qood enough. According to who? Check yourself before you wreck yourself and get in there. Check your IEP (Intentional Energetic Presence®) and hop to. Ready? Work your mindset; what are you intentions? Are you going in there to be in service of? Check your energy; what's the energy you're bringing into the room/conversation with you? What's your vibe? Do you come across as burnt out and busy, or are you awake, present, and ready to roll? And finally, your presence; how are you going to show up in that room/conversation? Where will your attention be? (On yourself and your nerves or on being present with them and tuned in so that the conversation is rich and you have a better shot at getting your intended outcomes.) Your IEP is all up to you.
  3. They don't like me. The assumptions we have about people tend to have a way of designing us and can impact how we show up. Case in point, if I think my colleague doesn't like me or that lady at my kids' school doesn't like me, I'm likely to show up in more resistance, more careful, and more tethering evidence to prove my point. If I hold that they do like me and that we're going to get along just great -- I show up in a way that will invite that. I might not be right, AND at least I've set the stage for helping things go well.
  4. I have to get it right/perfect. No. You don't. Be clear on your intended impact, go in with positive intent, do your preparation and due diligence, but forget about getting it right or perfect -- there is no such thing. Show up, serve, and go. See what unfolds.
  5. I have to be unique. Easy peasy, that's already done. You are unique -- there's only one of you in the Universe and only one of you with the combination of characteristics, skills, presence, life experience, and heart that you have. Waste ZERO energy on this. No need for inauthenticity, trying to be something you're not, lying, overdoing authenticity, etc. Just do you.

Whether we're talking business or personal, career or relationships (they all meld together anyway if you're living a rich and full life!), these things apply to all. Notice where you spend ANY energy, wasting precious bandwidth, brainwidth, heartwidth, and just energetic currency on any of these. And then breathe and let it go.

Get in there.

Why a Sports Exec Shifted from Formula One to Esports

Pro esports organization FNATIC recently announced that Nick Fry, former CEO of the Mercedes AMG Formula One Team, was joining the team as Head of Commercial Strategy. He is now tasked with aiding FNATIC in its next phase of its growth, particularly when it comes to performance management, media rights and partnerships.

It's a big pivot for an experienced individual going from a more established entity to one that has a lot of promise and growth predictions, but is still very young in its development.

I recently spoke with Fry about his switch in professions and what particularly interested him in making the move.

Q. As someone who's moved between the two worlds, what are the similarities F1 and esports?

Nick: When it comes to traditional sports, F1 in particular shares a lot of characteristics with esports. Both are technically complex in different ways, and both are centered around a strong team mentality, and some standout individual stars. Both core audiences are interested in and engaged with technology, and unlike other sports, geography isn't as a defining factor for fans. Whereas most traditional sports aren't global, just look at the NFL, NBA, and MLB, both Formula One and esports are watched globally, and physically appear in locations around the globe.

There are a few major differences - esports audiences largely consume their content online (although we are also seeing this shift, to a lesser extent in F1, 25% of F1 fans aged 16-34 want to watch F1 live streaming, via laptop or mobile). Formula One for a long period of time completely failed in terms of online engagement and reaching a younger audience. Up until last year, Formula One was run by Bernie Ecclestone, a benevolent dictator, who was actively resistant to social media, and quite dismissive when it came to building an online presence for the sport. Liberty Media, which acquired F1 in 2016, is trying to rectify this problem, but it is still early days. Esports is the exact opposite, and that is one of the factors the drew me to FNATIC.

I was introduced to Sam [Mathews] through a mutual contact from the investment firm GP Bullhound. My knowledge of gaming stopped at Tetris, but after my first visit to the FNATIC headquarters I was hooked. I found a group of extremely smart individuals completely motivated to be successful in their sport. I was blown away with the diversity (both in terms of nationality and gender), which is unusual in most sports. Sam has done an exceptional job attracting talent.

Q: What can esports learn from F1, particularly when it comes to brand/commercial partnerships?

Nick: In my experience, F1 has always welcomed commercial and brand partnerships wholeheartedly - so much so that sponsors and brands have become part of the backdrop for the sport. This approach has helped power the continued development of tournaments, athletes and teams.

Esports is still in its' infancy compared to F1, but to flourish and grow it needs to take a more aggressive approach to partnering with non-endemic brands. We're seeing this adoption start to happen, but hopefully hires like mine that bring knowledge from sports that have successfully conquered this challenge will help speed it up.  

F1 is rooted in technology. I'd argue that it is the most technological of all the sports that are popular globally. Over time the brands involved in F1 shifted to technology providers - Sun, IBM, HP, and SAP for example - who see the benefit of marketing to a technology-savvy audience. We are seeing some of these same companies dip their toes into esports as well and realize the potential of this younger audience.

Make This 1 Move to Go From Entry-Level Employee to Successful Entrepreneur

Do the same things over and over, and you'll get the same results.

It's easier to eat pizza than run on the treadmill. But it won't do anything for your healthy eating goals. And while no one wants to give up on goals, sometimes we need something to shake us out of our routines.

Usually, it takes a change in mindset. It takes thinking about what's possible instead of what can go wrong. When you starting believing you can achieve the things you want--as a glass half full instead of half empty--it's easier to step boldly toward your dreams.

And if you want to control your career and life, you have to shift your mindset. Here's how:

Ask the Tough Questions

A mindset shift starts by asking yourself key questions and opening your mind to new possibilities. This means believing whatever you want is achievable, and envisioning yourself achieving success.

Ask yourself if you have total clarity on what you want. Are your goals clear? Are you living your life, or is your life living you? Are you actively working to obtain certain outcomes? These aren't easy questions to give honest answers to. Reflect honestly about how you're living your life and stepping toward what you really want.

When I first had the opportunity to speak in front of a crowd, I loved it. I talked about how much I enjoyed speaking. Guess what happened? When people were looking for someone to speak at their next event, they asked me. When you know what you want and focus on it, talk about it, and put your energy toward it, you're more likely to achieve it.

Find Clarity

When you have clarity about your wants and goals, you don't get caught up in things that don't matter. You know your goals and you work towards them.

Clarity and focus sculpt everything in your life. By taking a larger initiative and breaking it down into manageable steps, it's easier to work toward your goals.

For example, I had friends that graduated college and bought brand new cars, even though their old cars still ran perfectly well. They added an $800 payment to their monthly bills. That's not the best way to hit financial goals

Clarity helps you avoid common pitfalls that distract from long-term goals. You don't have time for them. They aren't helping you in any way.

So, identify the top three to four things that matter most in your life and work towards them. Every week, reflect back on what you did each day that led you closer to your goals. Did you do what you needed to take the next step?

Dream Big

Open your mind to what's possible. Don't just brainstorm--dreamstorm. It's okay if you don't know exactly what you want but know your general direction. The more steps you take, the more clarity you gain. You don't have to wait until you have everything figured out to start.

I didn't know exactly where my career was going when I started out. In undergrad, I switched my major from computer science to business--and switched again to marketing. I got a job in project management and learned Agile. I started speaking at conferences. Then, I started my own consulting and training company and began working with companies around the world. But even then, I got a chance to DJ and realized I loved it. So, I began DJing as I traveled.

Could I have predicted all that back when I was a computer science major? No way.

I didn't know what I wanted to do at first, but I did my best every chance I got. I continued to grow and develop my skills. It didn't all happen overnight. It took dedication, persistence, and a big dream.

Level Up

Even sitting at my desk as a project manager, I knew I wanted something bigger. So, I developed my skill set and diversified my portfolio.

Constantly look for opportunities to level up. Get better at what you do, learn something new, get certified--there's always a way to create more opportunities for yourself.

And know most people only see the results of your work. They'll see you as an "overnight success." They don't see the sleepless nights or the days you work until 2:00am. The weekends spent at home working on your business, building your brand, and getting ahead while others were out partying. But you get out of life what you put into it.

So, find clarity, dream big, and take it one step at a time. That's how to control your life. And maybe after a decade of hard work, someone will call you an overnight success.

How Drones Are Asking Us to Ask Vital Questions About Human Intelligence

I first became intrigued with drones looking up at a brilliant blue sky on a freezing cold day. Was it a kid's toy up there? No, it was a signaling devise to alert protestors who were prepared to clash with police about the Dakota Access Pipeline at the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, December 2016.

That drone was there to help. It did. Drones have been a hot topic for some time, ready to affect our everyday lives in many useful ways.

                           * Jeff Bezos, in a CBS "60 Minutes" interview said Amazon is testing drones to drop off packages under 5 pounds at your home in less than 30 minutes after receiving order.

                           * Dominos is delivering pizza in New Zealand.

                           * Farmers use drones to monitor crops, find where water is needed.

                           * Films, TV, even real estate agents get great shots from above.

                           * Humanitarian aid is enhanced when supplies are parachuted in.

                           * First responders get targeted information to save lives.

Recently, a drone was sent to rescue teen boys trapped in 10 ft waves lashing about in  rough seas in Australia. The drone was launched to their location and a life raft dropped so the boys could get back safely.

These unmanned aerial vehicles are also being used to spot underwater predators such as sharks and jellyfish. They have 90 percent accuracy compared to 16 percent with the naked eye.

Enough said? Entire companies now exist to provide drones for commercial use. The potential is unlimited. How can your organization use drones for better results?

Life is good with these helpers. Or is it? According to Musk, Hawking, and 114 other specialists looking at the downside of drones, of AI in general, they wrote "We do not have long to act. Once this Pandora's box is opened, it will be hard to close."

Intrigued with so much doomsday reporting and the chills from watching the 7 minute film Slaughterbots (graphic and upsetting), I was fascinated with what Pascal Kaufmann hasproposed. A neuroscientist and founder ofStarmind, a company that is revolutionizing the  fields of artificial intelligence and cognitive computing, Kaufmann is clear. He thinks we need to look in other directions and not give into fear.

Taking the success of Starmind in hand and looking into the future, Kaufmann talks about where we are heading and in his quiet way said, "We are not asking the right questions."

He continued. His answer interfaced with my own work about behavioral pattern repetition. "Using our established behavioral patterns, our outmoded strategies, that have been anchored in our brain for millenniums, we will face more and more difficulties as a society on our planet. We need to tap into people's heads and find the questions we are not yet asking."

Simply put, he said, "It's time to crack the Brain Code."

Initially it sounded like he was going to talk about a spy novel. I leaned forward as I listened. Instead he was a researcher talking about brain research. "Most of what has been done in the past 50 years has been about how neurons work. While neurons only make up about 10 percent of the brain, 90 percent of the brain consists of other cells whose function are unclear at best. What is exciting is that now, with all our technological achievement, we can now look at the brain from a better vantage point. And as important, we can unite the scientific  community faster and more effectively.

Starmind has been successful in connecting smart people with other smart people to solve business problems. Now there is another project on the horizon.

Enter Mindfire. This is an organization offering a global invitation to join a revolution to become part of the new question askers. The core of Mindfire is to break down silos of thinking and unite great minds to unlock the underlying principles of human intelligence.

Whether you are an entrepreneur, educator, student, stay at home parent, philosopher, psychologist, whether you live off the grid or in a fancy home in a big city, you are welcome. What could be more exciting that helping to crack the Brain Code? This is where human intelligence sets out to trump fear.

We circled back to the drones. Pascal asked me what sounded like a Zen question. I give this to you to think about before you answer. "When drones can make decisions for themselves what type of legal status should they have?

5-Steps to (Re)Create Your Experience & (Re)Set the Tone

Both of my kids play school sports. I've sat through many a practice, game, qualifier, tournament, win, loss, tie, and a lot of things in between.

In my experience, it's a beautiful thing to watch your babies (or anyone you care about), play their game. Tournaments, while beautiful, can also make for tedious, long, crazy-making days. In fact, as I type this, I am sitting in the gymnasium of a school, far from home, that my daughter and I got up for 2 hours earlier (on a Sunday), to drive to the middle of nowhere, to sit in a gym where we dig into the disorganized chaos that is the first tournament of the year. I find it exciting, adorable, exhausting, and irritating -- all at the same time.

And what's better than an extra 70 miles, chaos, and a bunch of screaming girls? No coffee allowed in the gym. At all. Nada. In fact, if you get caught with coffee or food, or even better spill it -- your team loses points. Despite the fact that I think this is a brilliant strategy on the organizers' part, as a parent who's been up since 4 a.m., with kids screaming and balls flying everywhere, and the tournament about 2 hours behind (best I can tell) -- I think this is one of the worst ideas ever. And the food situation? Well not only is there not food here, or allowed inside the gymnasium, there's no healthy food nearby, and due to my own assumptions and lack of forethought, I've not planned right. We're missing healthy food for the day. (Emergency nuts and protein bars in a bag shall only take a girl so far, especially with a hungry athlete.)

I'll spare you more drama and, let's just say there are a lot of parents (and kids) here who are hungry, tired, overstimulated, under-caffeinated, and irritated as all get out on a Sunday afternoon.

AND, I am painfully and deliciously aware that my experience is all on me.

I get to choose.

Over and over and over again.

This both delights and irritates me.

See, here's the magic; my choice will set the tone for my whole day, will be contagious for those around me, and ultimately will impact my beloved who's playing her heart out and just wants to show up.

So I decide to choose well.

But I'm also human. (And hungry. And in strong desire of a hot beverage.) So the day becomes a dance of choosing well -- and not. Alternating between choosing to experience the gift, the humor, amazement, amusement, gratitude, and awe. To then choosing to have, what can only be best described as, mini internal (and external to those who dare text me today) temper tantrums.

Choosing well saves my day. It makes me more pleasurable to sit next to (I hope). It makes me better to drive home with and hang out with. It creates Monday's column.

Cool. I'll take it.

So how do I do it? I reboot -- over and over and over again -- using these 5 steps...

  1. Notice. What's the experience I'm creating? Where am I focusing my thoughts?
  2. Envision and intend what I'd like instead. How would I like to feel? What's the experience I want to create for myself? For others?
  3. Take care.  What do I need to do to take care of myself to shift? (Get up, walk around, find emergency food, breathe, call someone, have a mini tantrum, dance a little, insert music, or simply just choose love in whatever way that may show up right now?).
  4. Step in and reboot.  Do it. Make the shift. Choose a different experience and decide to create it. No one can control my internal experience and how I choose to feel and show up. If something really doesn't work? Great -- I make note, find the request or suggestion, and make a plan to either make it better next time for myself or to communicate productive feedback to someone who can.
  5. Rinse, repeat, and reboot. Over and over and over again. Anytime I notice contraction in my body or an experience I'm not digging; I breathe, get conscious, take note, decide, and hit up #1-4 here again.

That's a simple version of the IEP Method's Presence Reboot®. You can use it to reboot presence and experience in any moment -- big or small. Dig in.

Think this is JUST for a tournament or personal life experience? Silly rabbit, this idea will follow you everywhere; from Starbucks, to the boardroom, to your kid's play, to your next business meeting, to your next fight with your man or woman -- you choose all.

Choose well.

The experience you create for yourself and for those you love and lead, your results, and how you spent this precious day, will all thank you for it.

The NFL Needs a Massive Rebrand. Here’s the Group That Might Be Able to Spearhead It

With compounding scandals plaguing the NFL and controversy over the handling (or mishandling) coming from fans, players, politicians, and even between the 32 teams and their franchise owners, the league is in desperate need of a rebrand. And the decision over who will be the next owner or owners of the Carolina Panthers could be pivotal in how the NFL repositions itself.

The original owner of the Carolina Panthers, Jerry Richardson is selling his rights to the team after it became public that the Panthers organization made multiple confidential settlements for incidents of sexual misconduct and a racial slur by Richardson.

It's not just Richardson though. The last five years have been the perfect storm of scandals contributing to indicators of slowing growth in the NFL brand. The newly formed Carolina Keep Pounding, LLC, a diverse ownership group, is shaping up to be the bid that could help the NFL brand pivot to put a bigger emphasis on fan value.

Scandal Effect Indicators On Brand Value

The NFL is the most popular sports league, reportedly earning over $14 billion in the 2016-17 season. It's not new to dealing with potential brand (and revenue) damaging scandals. But the long-term effect of compounding scandals potentially impacting the bottom line should be the most troubling for brand NFL:

  • Drop in TV Ratings - Ratings and viewership has been trending down due to a slow adoption of new media arrangements and controversial sponsorship with DraftKings and FanDuel that has fallen flat with many fans.
  • Empty Seats - The divisive scandal involving kneeling during the National Anthem is reported to have been impacting ticket sales with many fans streaming videos of low attendance and empty stadiums.
  • Decreased Interscholastic Football Participation - The pervasive concussion problem has resulted in lower enrollment of kids playing football. According to the California Interscholastic Federation, football participation decreased by 3.12 percent this year and is down 10 percent this decade.
  • 20 Percent Dip In Product Sales - The National Anthem and sex scandals have been noted by licensees as contributing to the problem of declining merchandising revenue. If you follow my column you know how frequently I cite the statistic that 85% of retail sales is controlled by women. NFL merchandising is no different and the effect is being seen at the cash register with a reported 20 percent dip in NFL merchandise, the largest decline in a decade. Note: The Washington Redskins name controversy alone, led to a year-over-year drop of 43.8 percent.

Carolina #KeepPounding In Charlotte

So who's behind Carolina Keep Pounding? It's a coalition of seasoned and multicultural entrepreneurs, investors, Hall of Famers, political figures and philanthropists aiming to acquire the Panthers and keep the team in Charlotte. The group is led by Charlotte-bred entrepreneur Arthur Wylie, whose team of advisors includes civil rights pioneer and Washington Post proclaimed power broker Bob Brown, and his firm B&C International's senior partners, Osyris Uqoezwa and Larry Yon. B&C is the oldest and most respected minority-owned global strategy firms.

In addition to Wylie, Brown, and Uqoezwa, the Carolina Keep Pounding team also includes: former Carolina Panthers; John Mazzarino, founder of the $2 billion fund Cherokee Investment Partners; Michael Rollins who runs Jamaica's Rose Hall Estates and is a member of the Rollins family, the commercial services company behind Orkin Pest Control; and Dale Godboldo philanthropic investor and actor ("The People v. OJ Simpson"). The group is already gaining support from local and state government officials for the city of Charlotte and the Carolinas. Discussions are underway with other high-profile investment partners in efforts to build a well-resourced, diverse team.

Do They Have What It Takes?

If this group is committed to developing everything they need to be a strong franchise partner and direct the Carolina brand, then they need the right skills for brand value zone coverage. Every good brand needs to have these four critical factors to build sustainable growth value:

  1. Media Business Skills: In this case, being business savvy means media and merchandising more than it does sports. The members of the Carolina Keep Pounding team have depth in many diverse areas of media and sports business strategy, investment and tactics making them a fit to steer a brand franchise.
  2. Fan First Focus: According to the Carolina Panthers Twitter page, "The fan is the most valuable member of our team." Understanding who Panther fans are and why they love the team is essential to building fan trust - the real key to brand growth. 
  3. Integrity & Heart: This goes deeper than supporting local charities, having a youth program and wearing camouflage on Veteran's Day. This is a commitment to the responsibility as role models and people of integrity. Doing what has heart has always been a better bottom-line strategy.
  4. Diversity: Again this goes deep...deeper than skin color. This is about diversity in perspective, age, political leanings, cultural experience, gender, and economic background. Retail brands that have homogeneous management have weak products and even weaker fan loyalty. 

This Carolina Keep Pounding team seems to cover the field with cultural and age diversity, heart, media experience, and passion as fans and as locals. But the question remains as to whether or not they fit the brand plans and re-brand efforts by the NFL and its ownership. There is a tremendous amount of NFL franchise brand value riding on the decision of who will be awarded this elite investment opportunity. It is not just about who can write the biggest check.