Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Today is That Day - Last Post!!!

NOTICE: We've Moved! Please click here to be taken to the new location!!

Well, this is it. Today's post will be the last one here. Yes, I know, I know. Feels strange, doesn't it?

In a funny sort of way, I've become a little attached to this blog but as you know, it was time to move on. A few of you somehow found the new location even though it isn't yet ranked on Google or Technorati. Imagine my surprise when I found a couple of your comments over there:
Really terrific look, feel and tone. I especially like the analogy to buying a house — because that’s what this process is closest to. You find that you always have to trade off here and there. But it looks like you’ve got yourself some prime real estate. Consider me a frequent houseguest. Ivana Taylor
I stumbled across your comments to this theme creators design and followed to your new site. Kind of crazy isn’t it? Anyway, I like the look and feel of this theme..... Chris Melton

Okay, are all 170 of you ready to join me? In the next day or so, I will be posting my first NEW article at the new blog. When you go over there for a look, you will see that I was successfully able to import every single article from here to there. I still have a lot more tweaking to do in the coming days, weeks and months but the hard part is over.

There's one more thing we have to do.

Remember I told you in a previous post that RSS and email subscribers "wouldn't have to lift a finger" to be moved over with me?

Well, I learned to my surprise that it isn't quite as simple as that. I've looked high and low for a painless subscriber transfer method but for the life of me, I could not find a ready-made solution! Quite frankly, I was shocked. The email subscription service that I am using at the new site (Feedburner) does not even offer an import feature!

Do you know what that means?

Yes, you got it. Would you mind? It'll only take a few minutes of your time. In fact, I've provided links below to help make the re-subscribing process easier for you. We'll get to that in a moment.

I read in a few places that by asking current subscribers to sign up at the new site could cause me to lose half of you out there. Apparently that's the risk I had to take by moving. But you know what?

That's their opinion.

Just because "they say so," doesn't mean it's true. Right? Will you help me prove them wrong?

All 170+ of you on the subscriber list are a unique and special group of people who have been drawn to Adversity University through the law of attraction. You came here and signed up for a reason. And you've stayed. Now that speaks volumes about what you think of Adversity University! That's why I feel good about asking you to take a few minutes to re-subscribe to the new location.

A quick note before we charter a plane to the new site. For those of you who are email subscribers, I will be sending you a follow-up email in the next couple days personally inviting you to re-subscribe. You will see "Adversity University" in the subject heading so that you won't think it's spam. Please be on the lookout for that. Okay?

I think I've covered all the bases. Shall we?

Welcome to my new home!

To re-subscribe by email, please click here. (this means you get an email notifying you of new materials automatically without having to re-check the blog every so often).

For those of you who prefer to re-subscribe by "regular" RSS FEED, please click here. (this means the blog address has been bookmarked under your Favorites tab in the browser - every time you're on the Internet, you simply check your "favorite feeds" and click on those that appear in bold - that means new information has been posted).

And finally, do you have a favorite RSS Reader? If so, click here to continue using your favorite reader. (you know how your favorite reader works, so no need to explain further).

That's it! That wasn't so hard, was it?

Let's see a show of hands....how many of you just re-subscribed?

Let me count: 1...2....50....100...170.

Hooray! We did it! See you soon........
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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Virtual Realtor Hands Over New Keys!!

NOTICE: We've Moved! Please click here to be taken to the new location!!

After canvassing blogging neighborhoods all around the globe and looking at differently designed themes over the last three days, I'm happy and relieved to say that the virtual realtor finally handed me a new set of keys yesterday!

Now that I'm a new blog homeowner, I've been busy painting, adding, deleting, tweaking and otherwise fixing it up. I want it to not only reflect my personality but also transform it into a pleasant environment for those who have become part of the Adversity University community as well as for visitors who might stop in for coffee and browse around.

As I mentioned in the previous post, the goal was to find a place that gave me at least 5 things:

1. Prime real estate screen space (i.e. from 2 to 3 columns, without the clutter)
2. Intuitive navigation capabilities
3. Easy to read text with clean white background
4. The ability to create new pages with tabs on top for future material
5. A theme that was compatible with Wordpress 2.3 version

When I first started looking, I found 20 potential themes. Each designer was sent an email with questions to gauge how responsive and friendly they would be. While waiting to hear back from them, I browsed through their blogs to ascertain whether or not they were keeping up with regular postings.

If the designer got back to me within a reasonable period of time, appeared to be friendly and maintained a current blog, that meant I would probably get a fair amount of support throughout the installation/tweaking process. Keep in mind that while I've learned a lot about blogging in the last year and a half, I'm still learning my way around, especially now that I'm in a new environment with a learning curve to content with. It helps to have some kind of live support on the way, you know what I mean?

After hearing back from some but not others, the list was slashed to 5 potential themes. All of them were well designed and compatible with Wordpress 2.3. The clincher was when I learned one of designers was commissioned to write a book by a well known publisher, which I think will turn into a mega-bestseller. That meant this designer probably knew what she was doing when creating the theme I had my heart set on. In addition, it helps that she was hired by some well known bloggers to redesign their sites. Last but not least, she has a bunch of documentation at her site about how to tweak the theme to each individual blogger's liking - a huge bonus.

Yes, it's a woman. But that's all I'm going to tell you. I am purposefully keeping you in suspense until I launch my new site, which I expect to take place on Wednesday, October 10th at 12 pm EST.

As you can imagine, there's a lot of work ahead. Over 150 posts from this blog are being exported to the new location. In order for that to happen seamlessly, I might be forced to upgrade to Blogger's new template. If that happens, a lot of stuff you now see on the sidebar will be forever gone (which is one of the reasons I'm moving in the first place). In addition, I will be focused on transferring email and RSS subscribers, adding/moving around furniture (i.e. sidebars and plug-ins), plus a host of other things like inserting a notification in each and every post at this location telling visitors where to go.

After we are settled in the new location, I want to throw a blogwarming party!! Any ideas how I can do that? Go ahead and use the comment feature to let me know your ideas or if you prefer, send me a private email at stephen(at)sjhopson(dot)com (this is just in case the email link on the right side disappears if and when I am forced to upgrade to Blogger's new template).

Have a great rest of the weekend! Stay tuned for more updates......
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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Some News and Link Love

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After months of dragging my feet, I've FINALLY decided it's time to move Adversity University to a new home.
Yes! We are moving! (Above Photo Credit seen here).
Over the last few months, traffic has spiked well beyond the normal levels, resulting in a 50% increase of subscribers. Adversity University now ranks #1 on Google when someone types in those two words in the search box. Technorati reports well over 200 blogs linking back here, attracting even more traffic. Word about my work here at Adversity University has begun to reach the attention of well-known bloggers like Liz Strauss of "Successful Blogs," Phil of "Make it Great" fame, Laura Young of "The Dragon Slayer's Guide to Life," Aaron Potts of "Today is that Day," to name a few.
Simply put, Adversity University is growing by leaps and bounds!
Because of that, it's time for an extreme makeover and move to a more flexible platform (Wordpress) that will allow me to accomplish even more. It's like that five and ten store in a tiny building that needs a bigger place to handle more customers.
Before I share with you my vision for the new home, if you are an email or RSS subscriber to Adversity University, THANK YOU. I truly appreciate you being here and look forward to continuing our love affair. You will NOT have to lift a finger because through the miracle of technology, you will automatically be directed to our new home.
Here are 7 main reasons we're packing up and moving:
1. While we will keep "Adversity University" because of it's unique name and "play on words," I want it to be branded as a personal development site covering subjects including, but not limited to, the Law of Attraction, Thought Transformation, Positive Thinking, Blogging, Adversity Stories from Other People (You?), Power of Visualization and Wealth Building among others. Naturally, this calls for the creation of categories, something I cannot do here (unless I upgraded to Blogger's new template but that would result in the loss of all the tweaking I've done to it). If I'm going to lose a year's worth of tweaking by upgrading, why not start fresh elsewhere?
2. The comment feature at Blogger does not give commentators the ability to receive automatic email notifications on any additional comments that might come in after theirs have been left at this blog. If they wanted to see other people's responses to their comments, they'd have to keep checking back to see for themselves. That makes absolutely no sense to me. Wordpress has a little box that gives everyone the option of getting an email alert for that purpose.
3. More often than not, I tend to edit my writing repeatedly in an effort to give you the best possible material. On more occasions than I care to admit, whenever I went back to edit, the formatting would somehow go haywire, forcing me to manually fix it before republishing the post. I want to be able to repeatedly edit my work without having to worry about the formatting going nuts on me.
4. I am also looking for a more attractive design and go from two to three columns, giving me more "screen real estate" to play with.
5. While I own the copyright to everything at Adversity University, I do not own the domain name. Why? Because Blogger owns it (i.e. adversityuniversity.blogspot.com). By creating my own domain name and hosting it at a server of my choice (Hostgator), I become the owner of the new Adversity University site. If in the future someone wanted to purchase the Adversity University domain name, I would have the option of accepting that offer, putting me directly in the driver's seat instead of the other way around.
6. On top of all this, I want the ability to post-date my articles, a feature Blogger does not have available. Every time I am inspired with ideas, I'm stuck with writing one post for each day I want to publish something. Otherwise if I uploaded more than one at a time, you'd be deluged with a bunch of articles that were meant to be spread out over a period of time. By deliberately post-dating them, I could write a week's worth of articles at once (if I'm inspired to do so) and then arrange for their delivery on the days I want them delivered. How cool is that?
7. In the last year or so, I've been looking at different online income streams that are passive in nature. This calls for making more room for Google Ads, affiliate links and other programs. While daily traffic at this site is substantially higher than before, the overall click-through rate on the Google Ads has been dismally low. However, thanks to the experience I just had with "Pick the Brain," I've seen firsthand what a huge surge in traffic can do. When thousands are visiting your blog at the same time, the Google Ad click-through rate goes right through the roof. Since I will have a new category called "Blogging" (or maybe even "How to Make Money with Blogging") over at the new site, it puts me in the position to share with you what I've learned along the way. That would be especially beneficial for those of you who happen to have a blog of your own. What a great way for me to give back!
Now, of course, the decision to move isn't without risk. Because I am, in effect, starting all over, I will be focused on rebuilding traffic, increasing the number of incoming and outgoing links, regaining Google/Technorati rankings as well as put a forwarding link to every single post on this blog so that new visitors will be directed to the new location.
Despite the amount of work involved in moving (who ever said moving was easy?), let's take look at the big picture. I anticipate blogging for at least the next 20 years. What's one year in starting over again? Makes it seem small by comparison, doesn't it? By having a blog that I own and operate, I'm positioning us for bigger and better things. Blogger.com provided me with much needed "training wheels" and now they are coming off. I've learned a lot in the last year and a half. It's time to sprout my wings and expand. Won't you come along?
Now for some link love.
The following sites are blogs I currently subscribe to. Every one of them have recently mentioned my name, Adversity University and/or embedded the fast-spreading YouTube video on their sites. Not only do I want to publicly thank them but I also want to introduce you to them because I believe they are truly making an impact:
1. Pick the Brain - John Wesley at "Pick the Brain" responded to an email from me one day when an idea occurred to me to see if I could contribute to his blog with an article or two. To my delight, John responded quickly and opened the door for me to submit a couple that I thought would be a good fit for PTB. He ended up publishing an article originally entitled, "How to Deal with Difficult People" that was subsequently renamed, "7 Tips for Resolving Conflicts Quickly and Peacefully." In that article was a link to my "Adversity at the Barbershop" story that drew well over 2,000 visitors last week (and continues to bring in hundreds more every day!). If I hadn't had the courage to ask, I might not have experienced such a sharp increase in new traffic/subscribers. So I thank John for opening the doors for me. It's well worth your time to check out PTB - it's chock o' full of great information! (Did I get that right?)
2. How to Have Great Confidence and Self Esteem - David Rogers from England has many wonderful tips about developing self esteem and increasing confidence. He's worked in various mental health positions over the last 20 years, putting him in an unique position to share ways of achieving more confidence and self esteem. His words of wisdom will surely inspire you.
3. One Powerful Word - Wisdom of the Ages - Mr. Biggs, as he likes to be called, is a young guy whose picture I kept seeing over and over on the Internet. In this picture, he stands next to a shiny black BMW, which he manifested through the Law of Attraction. What you probably don't know is that owning a BMW is dream that I intend to manifest - particularly the 535i series. In any case, after seeing his picture for the umpteenth time, I realized the universe was nudging me to contact him. So I did and we ended up becoming Internet buddies. His blog focuses on utilizing the power of the Law of Attraction. Pretty uplifting material!
4. Communicatrix - Colleen Wrainwright wrote a very cute article with a photo of a doll with dazzling pink hair and glasses. The article was called "Can You Lead an Authentic Life with Fake Hair?" I found her on Priscilla's world famous list of Personal Development Blogs. When I arrived at Communicatrix, I was immediately drawn to the fake hair article, not because I have fake hair - I have NONE - but because she touched upon the power of authenticity, something I strongly believe in. I enjoyed that article so much that I browsed around Communicatrix some more. It's is mostly about her own personal life but because she is so authentic, I have fun while reading about her adventures.
5. Success from the Nest - Here's one of my favorite discoveries on the Internet. Tony D. Clark is quite the creative blogger. His niche is primarily on self development for small business owners complete with colorful cartoons and illustrations, making frequent visits to this blog a great source of information and pleasure for me.
6. Gus' Gang - Jenny runs a small ministry reaching out and encouraging families with chronically ill children and families who are suffering the loss of a child. I found her on the Priscilla list too and was immediately inspired by her ministry. There are loads of pictures of very cute babies that will absolutely, positively melt your heart.
7. Shards of Consciousness - Rick Cockrum is a personal development blogger who specializes in helping people raise their level of awareness on a spiritual and emotional level. He writes in a way that you intuitively understand what he's trying to say. Go check him out too!
8. soupornuts.com - Here Chris Melton covers topics like people skills, the law of attraction and many others but what's even more intriguing is something his business partner (Scott Kay) invented. It's a product called "The Rotater" (not a misspelling) that's fast making news in the world of sports and physical therapy - if you've ever had shoulder problems, I'll bet you'll benefit from using one of them. Even I'm considering one for myself because my right shoulder seems to be perpetually sore for some strange reason. They have a demo video on the rotater site showing you how easy and effective it is. It's pretty cool! It's probably one of those ideas that's causing people to bang their forehead like that V-8 TV commercial exclaiming, "WOW, I could have had a Rotater!"
Well, that's all for now folks. I hope you enjoy reading through some of these blogs and end up subscribing to them.
Meanwhile, I'll continue working on the move and keep you posted. I'll also throw in some older posts from this blog to keep you entertained and/or informed.
Are you excited about your forthcoming new home? I hope so!
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Saturday, September 29, 2007

More Articles, Stories, Observations For You

NOTICE: We've Moved! Please click here to be taken to the new location!!

Here are some more articles, stories, observations and tips from the past year at Adversity University:

1. Power of Thanking People w/ Handwritten Notes - I'm a big believer in taking the time to thank people who helped you in some way, with personalized thank you notes, which I think goes a long way these days. This is another one of those "timeless" articles that will never go out of style.

2. Passion at Southwest Airlines - One of my favorite airlines on what passion can do for the entire company. This is one of the secrets of a very successful company that knows how to infuse passion from the bottom all the way to the top.

3. Entertaining the Possibilities at Southwest Airlines - How SWA got their start despite a rough beginning because they were willing to "entertain the possibilities" and ask themselves "can we do this?" Apparently, they thought they could because look at where they are today!

4. Acting on Intuition at Southwest - This is a story about what a flight attendant once did for an elderly passenger who missed her connection. It's a heartwarming story that all companies should pay heed to.

I hope you enjoy the re-posting of some of my earlier stories today. Be sure to comment if you feel inspired to do so. I love hearing from readers of AU. Have a great rest of the weekend! There's more coming in the coming days.
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Friday, September 28, 2007

More Stuff from the Past Year

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Did you enjoy some of the earlier articles in yesterday's post? In an effort to celebrate the existence of this blog, I am bringing back some of old articles I wrote when Adversity University was just getting started for old times sake.

1. The Importance of Surrounding Yourself with the Right People - I was experiencing a challenge with some people that did not feel good to be around, prompting this article. It's been over a year since I last associated with those people b/c I felt it was detrimential to being in their presence so I had to take action. This article helped me help myself! It's a timeless article.

2. Winston Churchill - KOB: A short article about him after watching a movie about his life.

3. Battling the Weeds of Adversity - A humorous story written by fellow speaker Tony Brigmon who was mowing the lawn at his house.

4. Blizzard Housecleaning - A story of what happened when driving through a howling blizzard in Canada.

5. Faith Realignment, It's How You See It - Consciously setting the tone when you wake up.

That's all for today folks! Expect some more tomorrow, over the weekend and the beginning of next week! Be sure to comment if you're enjoying these old stories and articles from the past. Let me know which ones impacted you the most, I'd love to hear from you!

And one last thing. Thanks for signing up and being such a strong part of Adversity University! I enjoy writing for you and sharing my experiences with you.
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Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Blast From the Past

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At this point, I've written almost 150 blog posts since April 17, 2006, the day Adversity University was officially born. A lot has happened since then and I wanted to celebrate its existence by bringing back some of the articles that very few people got to see since I was just starting out.

1. My Very First Blog- a short introductory piece. Number of readers: 0

2. On the Road for Speaking Engagements - sharing an experience I had with a speaking engagement.

3. Imagine You're in the Clouds and You Break Out - a pretty picture showing what it's like being a pilot through instrument weather (i.e. "bad weather") and then breaking out of the clouds to see the runway in front of you. It's the greatest feeling in the world!

4. An Actual Instrument Approach - a link to a Google Video of an actual approach to an airport through bad weather. Although this was not a video of my flight, I've experienced similiar conditions numerous times.

5. Is Your Price Too Low? - a link to a great article about the value of pricing your services higher than you've been charging.

6. Universal Secrets of Turning Adversity Into Possibilities - my first real "self-help" post.

Tomorrow, I'll add some more from "way back when" to give you a chance to see some of the earlier posts. I hope you enjoy going back there with me for a bit.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Attention: Calling All Teachers

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In addition to asking everyone to help me pass forward a special YouTube video showing the ripple effect my fifth grade teacher made on me, I have more goodies for teachers everywhere.

There's a fun contest being run by my good friend, Michael Werner, CEO of InfoSource. They are calling it "Perk Up Your Classroom." Won't you take a moment of your time and visit them to find out what it's all about? They are offering cool prizes including Amazon gift certificates, supplies from Staples, and an Ipod Shuffle!
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Monday, September 24, 2007

Stephen a Guest at Popular "Pick the Brain" Blog

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This morning I am off to Traverse City, Michigan for a speaking engagement, returning tomorrow (Tuesday) night. I will be speaking to a group of CEO's who specialize in health care risk management and patient care issues. The title of my talk will be "How to Turn Adversity Into a University of Possibilities." You can see the agenda here if you're curious.

Meanwhile, popular "Pick the Brain" blog with over 7,000 readers gave me an opportunity to share 7 ways of dealing with difficult people in an article entitled "7 Tips for Resolving Conflicts Quickly and Peacefully." It is exactly the same article I once wrote (see "Most Popular Articles" in the right sidebar) called "How to Deal with Difficult People."

Enjoy the beginning of your week and when I return from Michigan, I will come back to Adversity University.
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Friday, September 21, 2007

Passing a YouTube Video Forward

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The Ask! Ask! Ask! article from two days ago generated such a great response that led me to Peggy Collin's very helpful, "Ten Ways to Ask for Help Without Feeling Helpless." I was so surprised that there was someone out there who actually specialized in teaching people how to ask for help!

Peggy's list actually gave me an idea. While I've shown the following YouTube video before, I've never actually asked you to help me pass it along. According to traffic statistics at Adversity University, about 100 people a day stop by for a visit. If each one of you took a few minutes to forward this video to 5 people on your list, that you personally know would be inspired by its contents, that means at least 500 people could witness the power of three words that once tumbled out of a fifth grade teacher's lips so many years ago.

As you will see in the video, Mrs. Jordan simply said three words, "THAT'S RIGHT, STEPHEN!", forever causing a ripple effect that continues to expand even 30 years later. I have written a book with that title (which I expect to publish in 2008) and plan to do a bus tour that same year. By speaking of how much of difference she made in my life, this is my way of giving back to her and reminding current/future teachers that they are very much needed in today's classroom.

Can you imagine if teachers knew the potential impact on their students the way Mrs. Jordan impacted mine?

Will you help me pay it forward? You are invited to do this a couple of ways:

1. Click the "Share" button at the end of the video and follow their instructions (YouTube provides three ways of passing this forward easily and effortlessly).

2. At the end at the very bottom of this post, there's an icon resembling a tiny envelope. Click on that and you'll be able to forward the entire blog entry to people you think should see this.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ask! Ask! Ask!

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The Abraham-Hicks book, Ask and It is Given, inspired me to write today's post. One of the greatest things we can do for ourselves is to ask for something we want. The trouble is those who were our early influencers while we were young (i.e. parents, teachers, siblings, friends, caregivers and/or authority figures) may have admonished us with a withering look that signaled that it was not okay to ask for help. (Photo credit: Amber Waves).

If you asked for help in school, you were probably called a "brown noser" or maybe a "teacher's pet." Perhaps you've heard someone say to you, "Quit bothering me and do what you're told," "I don't want to hear about it," "I don't have time for this right now," or "You're so selfish, all you ever think about is yourself!"

After a lifetime of hearing those comments, we're programmed to think we can't ask for help or pose a question without appearing stupid. We become fearful of being met with one of those looks-that-could-kill. We learn very quickly that it's not okay to ask stupid questions or appearing to ask for a handout.

So what happens later in life? We subconsciously hold ourselves back, afraid to ask, hoping someone will read our minds and reach out to us first.

Well, no one ever said it was easy to ask for what you want but the rewards are immeasurable if you just take that chance. No one has ever succeeded on their own - it's impossible to. Not if you want to take yourself to the next level.

Several months ago, I hired a designer to completely overhaul my speaking website. When she was done, I realized there was something missing. I needed something that would boost my creditability as a professional speaker. After all, I charge thousands of dollars to give a speech. If you were in a position to hire me to give a motivational talk, wouldn't you at least want the reassurance that your investment would be well worth spent? I know I would.

What was needed was a couple of video testimonials from those who were considered heavyweights within their fields who were not only well respected and well known but also heard me speak. After all, how could they say I was a good speaker with a good story if they hadn't been at one of my speeches?

So I got to thinking who I could ask for help in that area. A couple of names immediately came to mind. They were Howard Putnam, former CEO of Southwest Airlines who is in great demand as a business speaker and author of critically acclaimed "Winds of Turbulence" and Mark Sanborn, another popular business speaker, blogger and national best-selling author of "The Fred Factor."

Now, before I go any further, I want to relate to you some of my earlier experiences with asking for help. Yours truly has been accused numerous times as a youngster of being a "brown noser." Due to my disability, I often had to ask others to repeat themselves if I didn't understand what was being said, especially in the classroom or in social situations, only to receive a dramatic rolling of the eyes and a heavy sigh. After years of putting up with reactions like that, I eventually stopped asking because it used to be my perception that people just didn't want to be bothered.

Boy, did I pay a heavy price for that attitude!

Little did I know that people, by nature, are generous and don't mind being asked for assistance if given the opportunity. It certainly helps if you believe in yourself and demonstrate that you are someone with potential. People like to be associated with those who they perceive as winners. Even if you have a couple of flaws, they still want to help you because your likeability factor is pretty high on the scale. If you're an authentic person, others can't help but wanted to be affiliated with you. Whether or not they get anything in return (other than the satisfaction of helping a "deserving person"), they're more than likely willing to lend you a hand.

When those two people came to mind, because of years of programming, I almost held back and didn't ask. Thoughts like "They're too busy," "Don't bother them because this would be too much trouble" immediately bombarded my mind. Fortunately, I had done enough reprogramming of the mind by that point to stop those thoughts from turning into an avalanche.

So I went ahead and boldly asked if they would be willing to do a short video testimony for my website. What helped was that I remained detached from the results. The worst that could happen was a polite, "Perhaps sometime in the future" or an outright "Thanks for thinking of me but my current schedule does not allow me the luxury of doing so, perhaps I could recommend someone else."

Imagine my pleasant surprise when both of them replied favorably! With today's technology, they were able to do it by using a simple video camera within the comfort of their homes, download it into a video file and send me an email attachment. That was all there was to it! You can see their video testimonials here.

Until I do a survey of clients who have hired me since those videos were uploaded, I won't know if I was commissioned to speak solely on the basis of those video testimonials, but I am willing to bet my bottom dollar that if I hadn't asked for their help, I might not have gotten some of those engagements! So I want to publicly thank Howard and Mark for the time and effort they took to do a video for me.

Is it easy to ask for help? Heck, no! Especially if you are asking someone whose visibility, popularity or earnings power far exceed those of your own but you won't know until you ask.

What's more, if there's anything I've learned from asking, it's that many of these successful people did not get to where they are today if they didn't receive help somewhere along the line. So they really do want to help you, especially if they see you have potential. Everyone wants to be associated with a winner. Believe in yourself first and then go ask for help. Otherwise why should they believe in your potential if you don't think you have any yourself?

Henry Ford once said, "If you think you can do it, you can. If you think you can't do it, then you won't. Either way, you're right!" Wow!

Food for thought: There's nothing wrong with asking for help. If you don't ask, you won't get. People can't read your mind - so why not go ahead and give it a shot? The worst they can say is "No." How bad can that be?
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Monday, September 17, 2007

10 Magical Ways to Feel More Abundant

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As a follow up to "The Importance of Feeling Good," I found some great ways of making myself feel financially abundant, regardless of the present state of my bank account. It works amazingly well because as I'm doing them, I truly get excited. According to the Law of Attraction, you have to feel good about abundance before it can flow into your experience.

I am and will always be a continuing student of the Law of Attraction. Even though I've heard of Jerry and Esther Hicks, a husband and wife team who teach Law of Attraction principles through a spirit guide named Abraham, it wasn't until recently when I felt inspired to learn more about them. One day I kept seeing their names all over the place and realized that the universe was sending me a message to look into their teachings. So I went on Amazon and ended up buying two of their books: The Law of Attraction and Ask and It is Given.

I read both of them in three days. Yes, three. They were that good. As a result, I was given some really great tips on fun ways to feel more abundant.

1. Withdraw a $100 bill from your bank account (an actual $100 bill, don't ask the teller to break it up into twenties, tens, etc.). Put it in your wallet or purse. Several times a day, open it and look at it. I don't know about you, but it's been a very long time since I've physically seen a $100 bill. But every time I see one, I get excited. As you go throughout the day, imagine spending it 20 or 30 times. Say to yourself, I can afford to get (name of product you see or think of). What will happen is you'll increase your financial well-being vibration by spending two or three thousand dollars a day. The universe sees that you are feeling good about money and will respond by giving you more of it. Why? Because here you're focusing on abundance, not the lack of it. For years I rarely carried cash on me. My wallet was always empty because I was using my debit card to keep track of expenditures by recording them on Quicken (financial software). Every time I opened my wallet to find it empty, how do you think it made me feel? What do you think will happen when I see a crisp $100 in there instead?

2. Create a fake bank account on your finance software (i.e. Quicken) or if you don't have one, buy yourself a ledger. On Day 1, deposit $1,000 and increase daily deposits by an extra $1,000. For example on Day 1=$1,000. Day 2=$2,000, Day 3=$3,000, Day 25=$25,000. Create at least one deposit and one withdrawal every day. Before you make a withdrawal, have some fun with it and do research. Find out how much something you really want costs. You want that high definition TV from Best Buy? Look it up and then go "buy it." Do you owe money on your car? Look up the balance and pay it off! Pretty soon you'll be feeling quite prosperous. The universe does not know the difference between your real bank or fake bank account. What it responds to is the level of emotion you're experiencing. And if you have fun with it and "play along," you won't be able to help but feel a tremendous measure of excitement.

Several months ago I created a fictitious account and deposited $1,000,000. But I let it sit there, not doing anything with it. Even though I was looking at it often (because I reconcile my bank account online every morning), it was not generating much excitement because it didn't feel "real." Following the suggestions of Abraham-Hicks, yesterday I made my first deposit of $1,000 to this account. Then I looked up the balance of my car loan and paid it off. Let me tell you--it generated so much excitement that I actually felt abundant the rest of the day! The simple act of entering my first deposit and adding it to the $1M balance and then paying off my car loan in one fell swoop significantly ratcheted my "good-feeling" UP on the emotional scale!

I'm going to do this for one year and see what happens. Why don't you try it? The key it to have fun with it. Let your inner child come out and play. Then watch what happens. You might want to keep a journal of what financial manifestations you start to experience after that.

3. Get yourself a "treasure box" (perhaps a cardboard box) and write "Treasure Box" on it. Every time you see a picture in a magazine of something you desire whether it be new clothes, a nice house, a big TV, cut it out and put it in your treasure box. Put the box in a place where you can see it every day. On the days you feel "down" for whatever reason, dip into the treasure box and look through the contents and re-inspire yourself. Absorb the energy it gives you and breathe it in. An alternative to this is to get yourself a bulletin board and tack up those pictures and words (or phrases) so that you can absorb the feelings your "vision board" gives you.

4. Look in your closet and wear the nicest clothes that you have in there. Wear whatever clothes make you feel "abundant." For me I love wearing attractive polo shirts and docker pants (or shorts). It makes me feel prosperous when I dress in "business casual" clothing. Give yourself the gift of buying a nice outfit once in a while so that you can feel more prosperous with the clothes you have just bought yourself. Consciously decide that you will wear something that makes you feel good. And then wear it often. Why not?

5. Do you have a dream car? Why not visit your local dealership and go for a test drive? It won't cost you anything. The salesman will give you a couple of brochures to take home. Then cut out pictures of your dream car and put it in your treasure box (or up on the vision board).

6. Go on a huge rampage of appreciation. Consciously appreciate the beauty of nature or send thank you cards to people who have made a difference in your life. Yesterday, I was at a small lake with a friend. The autumn air was cool but the sun was out in full force. The water was incredibly calm, reflecting the trees surrounding it. I drank it all in, consciously thanking God for such beauty. By the time I left, I was feeling content.

7. Tithe 10 percent of your income to whatever source (i.e. your church, a nonprofit group) that provides you with spiritual nourishment. What you give away, you get back.

8. Volunteer your time, effort and resources to help others. For instance, I like to mow the lawn for my church so when I am in town, I do it at least once a week. It gives me a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of giving back.

9. Be truly grateful that success is happening for others.

10. Treat yourself to a very expensive dinner or stay in a fancy hotel for one night. Give yourself the gift of luxury and take it all in throughout the experience. This will make it easier to remember the sights, smells, sounds, feelings and tastes when visualizing yourself living that way later. It's like taking your dream car for a test-drive. Because you've actually experienced it, you'll have an easier time visualizing it.
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Friday, September 07, 2007

The Boy Who Sees Through Sound

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I came across a very inspiring article in People's online magazine about Ben Underwood, a skinny 14 year old blind boy who functions independently by "seeing sounds." It is a most incredible, inspiring story and I recommend you not only read the article but also click on the video link and see him in action.

Here's the link: http://www.people.com/people/article/0,26334,1212568,00.html

Enjoy and be inspired!
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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A Friendship Story

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Everyone once in a while I stumble onto a story that I did not write but want to share with others. This is one of them. I chose to share it with you because it reminds me so much of what my fifth grade teacher did for me so many years ago. The Friendship Story has been floating around the Internet for some time now but I have no idea who wrote it. If you own the copyright to it or are the original composer of the piece, and wish to claim credit for it or want it taken down, please contact me immediately. Please also inform me if you are aware of its origin.

One day when I was a freshman in high school, I saw the new kid in my class walking home from school His name was Kyle. It looked like he was carrying all of his books. I thought to myself, "Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday? He must really be a nerd." I had quite a weekend planned with parties and a football game with my friends. So I shrugged my shoulders and walked on.

Just then a bunch of kids ran toward him, knocking the books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt. His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in the grass about ten feet from him. As he looked up, I saw a terrible sadness in his eyes. My heart went out to him. I jogged over to him, picked up the glasses and handed them to him.

"Those guys are jerks. They really should get lives," I commented.

He looked at me and said, "Hey, thanks!" There was a big smile on his face. It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude.

I helped him pick up his books and asked him where he lived. As it turned out, he lived near me. As we walked home, I discovered he was a pretty cool kid. I asked him if he would like to play football with me and my friends on Saturday. He said, "Yes." We hung out together all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him. My friends liked him too.

On Monday morning, I saw Kyle carrying his huge stack of books again. I stopped him and said, "Dang, boy you are gonna really build some serious muscle carrying this pile of books everyday!" He laughed and handed me half the books.

Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends. By our senior year, Kyle had filled out and looked great. He was one of those guys that really found himself during high school. All the girls loved him, and he always had lots of dates. He had studied hard and was valedictorian of our class.

On graduation day, he was to give a speech. I could see that he was nervous. So I smacked him on the back and said, "Hey, big guy, you'll be great!" He looked at me with one of those really grateful looks and smiled, 'Thanks."

He started his speech, "Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years: your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach, but mostly your friends. I am here to tell you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give."

Then he began to tell the story of the first day we met. I stared at him in disbelief when he told how he had planned to kill himself that weekend. He had cleaned out his locker so his mom wouldn't have to do it later. I heard a gasp go through the crowd as this handsome and popular boy told about his weakest moment.

He looked hard at me, gave me a little smile, and said, "Thankfully, my friend saved me from doing the unspeakable."

His mom and dad looked at me with a grateful nod. Not until that moment did I realize that in one small gesture I changed a person's life. Now I never underestimate the power of my actions. I learned that the support of a caring friend can impact someone in ways we may not fully understand and appreciate.

Food for thought: Doesn't this remind you of the fifth grade teacher story? Think of what the power of reaching out to someone can do for that person. It will forever cause a ripple effect. Whoever wrote the above story, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing it!
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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

"Pursue the Passion" Bus Tour Stops at Adversity University!

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From left to right: Noah Pollack, Zach Hubbell ("The Puppy"), myself and Brett Farmiloe. Not pictured is James Whiting ("Jay") who took this photo.

On Sunday, October 2nd, four young college graduates from the "Pursue the Passion" cross country bus tour stopped and visited me here at Adversity University in Akron, Ohio. In a previous article, I had written about Brett Farmiloe (far right side of the above photo) who started this whole project, to interview people from different backgrounds about their professional passion(s). They are now on a country-wide mission to find out how and why people succeed by doing what they love. Jobing.com is their major sponsor.

As a result of their visit, Brett wrote: What Confidence Can Do.

Brett and Zach once worked as corporate auditors (I did too - you may remember "Harry the Bank Boss" story - "Harry" was my irate boss in the auditing department at a Wall Street bank). Brett held me spellbound with a riveting tale of how he was planning to quit his job so that he could start this bus tour. One day his boss called him in to have a "talk." On her desk were two envelopes. One was a bonus and the other was a raise. Little did either of them know what they had in mind for that fateful meeting!

Zach (affectionately called "The Puppy" - if you ever meet him, you'll understand why they call him this), on the other hand, quit one week before the "Pursue of the Passion" bus tour started. Now that's passion, if you ask me! He was among the most frequent participants during the interview, asking a whole bunch of great questions.

Noah and James ("Jay") are both creative writing/music geniuses who met and became friends at the University of Arizona. You can read their blog at Class Project. Noah even wrote an article there about his visit to Adversity University: "Shut Up and Listen." Jay used to be a football player and told how he broke his collarbone three times. He was such a gifted and inspiring storyteller that I felt as if I were there, watching the whole thing unfold in front of me.

Each and every one of them had the magic ability to inspire me with the realization of latent possibilities. After their tour is over, they intend to write a book and produce a documentary. You could be a part of it. In fact, why don't you head over to Pursue the Passion schedule and see if they are coming your way soon? If they are, write Brett an email and introduce yourself. If they are heading your way and you're passionate about what you're doing, you most definitely qualify for an interview with them. It doesn't matter what it is that you do. As long as you are living your dreams and following your passion(s), they want to meet you!

Trust me, you can open your home to these extraordinary pacesetters. They are not only polite but exceedingly grateful for your time. Give them the use of your scrubbed down shower and provide them with a stack of clean smelling towels, they'll sing your praises until you tire of it. Give them a tray of delicious muffins and feed their hungry bellies, you've made friends for life! Talk about your innermost passions, they'll listen raptly and make you feel special because they have each mastered the fine art of listening.

Finally, and this is very rare, each one of them carry a heart the size of the world. By the time you bid them farewell, you won't be able to help but want to hug them tightly. That's exactly what I did. I stood there and watched their RV pull away while Noah opened the back window and thrust his fist in the air in victory.

Do yourself a favor and give yourself the same opportunity to have them in your midst - you'll forever remember the experience.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Flight that Almost Killed Me - Part II of II

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(Note to everyone: Here it is, the sequel to Part I but if you are pressed for time, please come back to this post later to relax with your favorite beverage because this is an exceedingly long one - probably the longest I've ever written to date but hopefully it will be an enjoyable read for you).


It was a good thing I departed Michigan on the 24th because Mother Nature threw a hissy fit and dumped several inches of snow in New York the following day, giving us the first white Christmas in a long time. This was followed by a low pressure system covering the entire Northeast, which meant I might be stuck for a few days longer than I anticipated.

A call to Berz Airport reassured me that they were not in a hurry to get their plane back. Several years ago, a renter pilot apparently felt pressured to return on time but got caught in a major thunderstorm and crashed. Not wanting to have another death on his conscience, the airport owner (Mr. Berz) went out of his way to remind renters not to mess with Mother Nature and to fly back safely. Taking his message to heart, I spent three tense-filled days waiting.

On December 29, 2002, I got the break I was looking for. Dad and I piled into his truck at 8:30 am and left for the airport. On our way there, butterflies were churning like crazy in my stomach, which was normal but mixed in there was a tiny twinge of anxiety. There was 400 miles of flying to do in the middle of winter where anything could happen!

Just as I pulled the plane out of the Schenectady County Airport hangar to conduct the preflight inspection, wet snowflakes began to fall.


Caught off guard, I pushed the plane back inside and borrowed several dry towels from the flight operations department to wipe the plane down. It was the least I could do to keep myself busy. Besides, I didn't like the idea of flying a wet airplane through subzero temperatures.

Meanwhile, the air traffic controller on duty that day, the same man who gave me a light gun landing earlier that week, came down from the tower to personally wish me luck. When I voiced concerns about the unexpected snowfall, he told me, "Oh, it's a temporary thing, don't worry, you'll be fine. It's just a snow squall passing through but the sky behind it looks quite clear." With a reassuring smile, he added, "You'll be okay."

But the snow showed no signs of slowing down. Since the plane was dry as a bone by that point, all three of us (my Dad, the controller and I) went inside the building next to the hangar and helped ourselves to some hot chocolate. At one o'clock, the sun finally broke through.

Due to the snowstorm the night before, the airport was still buried under several feet of snow. A couple of giant yellow plows were busy spewing snow over to the side. Only Runway 28 was clear. The other was halfway plowed, giving me just enough wiggle room to taxi over to Runway 28 for takeoff.

"Just follow me and I'll take you over there." said the friendly controller. It must have been a strange sight for anyone who happened to be watching this little parade. Imagine a red pick up truck slowly driving down a half-plowed runway with a small plane tagging after it!

The engine check at the run-up area revealed no anomalies. The controller parked his truck several hundred feet ahead of me, off to the side. He was leaning against the hood, holding a hand-held radio and watching me. The moment I gave thumbs up, he immediately began to talk on the radio, probably announcing to anyone who was listening on that frequency that a deaf pilot was about to takeoff from Runway 28, west-bound.

Positioning myself on the runway, I slowly pushed the throttle forward. The plane quickly gathered forward momentum and lifted easily into the sky, climbing 1,500 feet a minute. At five hundred feet, I rocked the plane sideways, bidding farewell to the controller. He waved back. Dad was probably watching from the opposite end of the airport but I couldn't see him. Still, I rocked the plane a second time, just in case.

On my way up, the clouds got closer. Should I stay below or climb over them?

Emboldened by the previous flight to New York, I put the plane in a steep climb, zigzagging around the clouds to avoid touching them. Soon, I was cruising at 10,500 feet, drinking in the glorious sunshine, a virtual carbon copy of the first trip.

On the way back, there was nothing to do but sit back and monitor the instruments, checking fuel/oil pressure indicators, the RPM and a host of other things. At one point during the scanning process, my heart skipped a beat when I noticed the fuel pressure gage bordering on red. Adjusting the throttle and fuel mixture controls seemed to have fixed the problem and the needle fell back into the green.

I was completely alone virtually the entire time I was up there. Only once did I see another airplane, a gorgeous blue and white Gulfstream jet depositing long white trails in its wake. It was flying several thousand feet below me, probably on its way to some airport in New York. Now I know why they say it's "lonely at the top"!

Three hours after rocking the wings, I began the descend for a fuel stop and a weather update at a small airport in Akron, NY, just outside Buffalo. The New York-Canadian border was just fifteen minutes west of that airport.

On the way down, I saw what looked like a clearing just north of my flight path and made a beeline toward it. But by the time I got there, it disappeared, forcing me to pull up. Although I could see the ground through patches of broken cloud layers, the holes were rapidly opening and closing like a fish's mouth in water. The small plane was simply not fast enough.

My mind was racing, contemplating, strategizing, thinking, rationalizing.

How thick are the clouds?
How high is the bottom of the cloud level?
Should I do it?

For several minutes I circled above, debating. The puffy, white clouds were busy transmuting themselves into all kinds of strange shapes and configurations. The wing tips were barely brushing by them.

Then I did something I never, ever thought I would do.

Cutting the throttle back to idle, I aggressively shoved the nose down and instantly disappeared into the clouds! The engine shook while the plane slid down an invisible chute at 2,000 feet a minute in total whiteout conditions, rendering me completely blind.

Less than a minute later, the plane sailed into the clear as if nothing happened. Panting, I looked left and right to see if anyone else was near me. No one was. But my eye caught a control tower off to the right. In the sudden mad dash through the clouds, I had inadvertently punctured the outer fringes of their airspace. That meant an irate controller in a bad mood with a pair of powerful binoculars could have easily read the tail number off the side ("airplane's license number"), tracked me down and then reported me to the authorities. My heart raced at the thought.

Moving a little further to the west, I smacked my forehead rather hard, almost knocking myself unconscious when I realized that if had I flown just another couple of miles, I would not have needed to do the little disappearing act! The entire western portion of New York was clear!

Damn, damn, damn.

At 5pm, I landed at the Akron Airport and pulled up to the self-serve fuel tanks. Both tanks were quickly filled and paid for. A call to the weather briefer verified what I had already seen on the computer with partly cloudy to clear skies with unrestricted visibility. Excited about completing the last leg of my flight, I lost no time getting back in the air. It was 6 pm. The sun was starting to set.

As I was passing over the New York-Canadian border, I was transported back to my childhood when Niagara Falls came into view. As a family, we went there for vacation a couple of times. Although it wasn't yet completely dark, it was already lit up in its brilliance.

Pulling on the yoke, I added full power and began to climb when I saw some clouds several miles ahead at my altitude. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it would not a good idea. Clouds are invisible and therefore deadly at night if you don't have an instrument rating. Turning around, I went right back down and flew underneath them. It turned out to be the best decision I would make that night.

Comfortably settling at 4,500 feet, I watched with great pleasure different cities light up the night sky like Las Vegas. A well lit bridge connecting the mainland to a small island added to the extravagant visual stimuli. Several large highways seemed to crisscross to a series of curves, loops and straight lines. The night air was extraordinarily calm, making for a smooth flight. The plane was flying without input from me - I barely had to touch the yoke!

About halfway into the flight, the landscape began to alternate between large black spaces and tiny, remote villages with very few lights. But I was not worried. Everything was just fine, I would be home in another hour or so. The Canadian-Michigan border wasn't far off now.

Little did I know everything would come unglued in just a few moments!

The first warning sign came in the form of rainbow-like rings around streetlights that could be seen when flying over some of the towns.

Then I noticed a faint outline of a runway for a private airport to my left, beckoning me to land immediately. It was as if God put it there just for me. That was the second.

The third came after realizing that although the weather briefer advised me to expect clear skies with unrestricted visibility, the city lights were gradually fading away. I found myself squinting through the windshield without seeing much of anything.

While subliminally trying to process all of these warning signs and wondering just what the heck was happening, BOOM, the airplane was suddenly swallowed whole and thrown in pitch blackness!

Sheer panic spread throughout my body, causing me clench tightly on the yoke, overcontrolling the airplane. It gyrated wildly, climbing and descending like a yo-yo over a thousand feet a minute, temporarily rendering the plane out of control.


Fighting to regain control, I prayed like I never did before, using every available ounce of energy to concentrate on the panel-lit instruments. Somehow I managed to bring the airplane under control and then decided to go lower so that I could see something - ANYTHING.

In a flash of divine insight, I suddenly I remembered there were tall wireless cell phone towers everywhere! At 1,500 feet, I was dangerously low, without much of forward visibility but I didn't dare go any lower.

Gratitude overwhelmed me when the faint outline of a well lit highway suddenly appeared through the murkiness. It crossed my mind to make an emergency landing there. Traffic was sparse at that time of the night and it appeared to be wider than a runway of a major airport. But before I could put that plan into action, a pair of blinking red lights mysteriously appeared out of nowhere, completely distracting me.

Both of them were blinking a hundred feet ABOVE ME.

And I was flying BETWEEN THEM!

It took me a full minute to realize what this meant.


Heart pounding relentlessly, I delicately maneuvered between the two towers, not daring to turn around and try landing back on the highway. Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, another wave of shock thundered through my exhausted body.

The GPS was taking me to the wrong airport. Instead of flying west, I was going Northeast, taking me deeper into into no man's airspace!

Drawing every last bit of air I could fill my lungs with, I shakily re-entered Berz Macomb Airport's identifier into the GPS. A new pink line was immediately remapped, telling me to bear several degrees to the left.

The fog showed no signs of letting up. Completely relying on the GPS and the instruments, I did not know whether I would survive the night but I refused to give up.

With only three miles left, the unimaginable happened.

God took one giant hand and literally wiped away the invisible clouds in one clean swoop, instantly granting me unrestricted views of the entire metropolitan Detroit area! My eyes feasted upon the sea of lights that sprawled before me. The spectacular sight was so overwhelming beautiful, I nearly missed the faintly lit runway of Berz Macomb Airport right below me.

Wiping away tears of gratitude, I knew it wasn't over until I was safely back on the ground. Clicking the mic seven times to brighten the runway lights, the plane made its final landing of the night with nary a squeak, a miracle when considering both legs were acting like a pair of jackhammers.

Slowly making my way over to the parking spot between the hangar and terminal building, I noticed a small crowd gathering on the brightly lit tarmac. I was not expecting anyone at the airport so late at night. It was almost 10 pm.

The moment I shut down the engine and opened the cockpit door, five guys poked their heads in at the same time, their mouths agape. Their faces were begging for an explanation. But I was in no mood to talk. Not after that hell raising experience. I was still reeling in shock.

Someone handed me a cold bottle of water, lubricating my parched throat. My entire body shook while I took things out of the baggage compartment. One of the guys told me that the visibility was a mere quarter of a mile.

That's when I realized how dangerously close I came to death that night. If it wasn't for the handheld GPS that I borrowed from a pilot friend, I might never have found Berz Macomb airport and lumbered away into the abyss, meeting my maker that night.

Thank God for small favors.

Food for thought: Instead of writing what I learned from this experience, let me turn the tables and open this up for you, the readers, to share what life lessons you got from this story.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Power of Authentic People

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Seth Godin wrote an interesting article, The Scarcity Shortage, where he wrote in part, "So what's scarce now? Respect. Honesty. Good judgment. Long-term relationships that lead to trust."

I'd like to add to that, "authenticity and integrity." A person who genuinely cares about the needs and wants of others are going to increase their "likeability factor" several notches higher. It is this person who will succeed because they recognize that it is human nature to feel good when someone else is genuinely interested in them first.

There's nothing wrong with getting what you want. In fact, ever since you were born, you've been in a perpetual state of wanting something for yourself. It's human nature but the secret is giving what others want FIRST before you get yours. And in my view, authentic people know exactly how to do that.

Just what constitutes an "authentic person"?

1. Great Listening Skills: Everyone, regardless of who they are, want to be acknowledged, appreciated and loved. People want to feel important and respected. How do you give them that? Well, when you are in a conversation with another person, are you truly focusing 100% of your attention on what the person is saying? Or is your brain formulating something to say at the next possible opportunity? Or are your eyes roaming the room, wondering who else just walked in the room? An authentic person's attention is razor sharp, enabling the listener to see the other person's point of view.

2. Fair and Just Treatment of Others: When carrying out your role, regardless of whether it be a mother, business executive, pilot, waitress, teacher or coach, to name a few, you are always dealing with other people. The biggest secret is how you treat them. Do you treat others with respect or are you condescending, especially if they screwed up? I once read a very interesting account of something that happened to famed aerobatic air show pilot, Bob Hoover. He was well known for purposefully shutting down both engines of his plane in various configurations and heights, always landing safely.

One day he was performing at an airshow when 300 feet above the ground, both engines unexpectedly quit. He immediately knew the plane had been misfueled and who had done it. Upon finding the quivering line boy, what did Bob Hoover do? In the eyes of everyone else, he had every right to angrily eschew the line boy because it could have cost his life. Instead, he put his arms around the tear streaked kid and said, "To show you I'm sure you'll never do this again, I want you to service my F-51 tomorrow." Imagine that! That's one truly authentic man because rather than belittling the young kid, he approached it from the point of view of respect and love. Do you think the line boy forever learned his lesson? You decide.

3. Having Integrity: Everyone wants something. But authentic people are conscious of the operative watchword: integrity. They will do the ethical thing even if it means a loss of personal benefits for themselves. Consider a doctor at a major hospital who advises the parent of a small boy (I saw this in a movie but can't remember the name of it), to have major, life-threatening surgery. After much research, the mother learned of a non-invasive treatment available at another hospital several miles away and vigorously sought for his release. The doctor refused, telling the mother she had to go through several legal hurdles for that to happen. One of them involved bringing in another qualified physician from the outside to come in and sign a written statement testifying to the validity of the other treatment. Even though the mother satisfied that requirement, the treating physician refused to budge and fought like crazy to keep the boy there. Eventually, he relented. It turned out that the alternative treatment ended up saving the boy's life. A truly authentic doctor would have seen that possibility rather than blindly serving his hospital's and ultimately his own needs.

4. Ability to Communicate: Growing up deaf made me acutely aware of the importance of communication. I was often left out because I was not always in a position to catch what other people were saying. This often resulted in me being the last to learn about something everyone else already knew about. I hated nothing more than the feeling of being left out in the cold. As a result, I grew up very sensitive to how others might feel in a similar situation, regardless of whether they were hearing impaired or not. Because of that, I make every attempt to keep people in the loop whenever necessary. Business leaders who conscientiously communicate in the open, especially when there is a lot of uncertainty hovering over the future of their employees, end up earning tremendous amount of trust. Rather than hiding behind the cloak of their boardrooms, they step up to the plate and keep people informed as much as possible. Everyone from the top down knows what is going on and are therefore in a position to make informed decisions. Authentic people make themselves valuable because they care enough to keep others in the loop.

5. Willingness to Show Transparency: Public speakers who aren't afraid to stand up on stage and speak from the heart, showing their childlike enthusiasm rather than presenting themselves as flawless packages, often win the hearts of their audiences because it makes them real, just like them. Authentic speakers go into a speaking engagement with the attitude of "I am grateful all these people are spending time with me and I will give them a reason to laugh, cry and otherwise enjoy themselves without worrying how I look." Inauthentic speakers will say, "Well, there's a bunch of jerks out there, I'll just get in there, get it over with and fool them senselessly with my appearance of great success." Speakers who are willing to be transparent win the love and respect of their audiences.

Food for thought: Authentic people make more friends in two weeks by becoming interested in other people than in 2 months by trying to get other people interested in them!
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Monday, August 27, 2007

Another Viewpoint on "Winners and Losers"

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I am a subscriber to my mentor's electronic newsletter that he sends to all kinds of leaders around the world. He is Howard Putnam, former CEO of Southwest Airlines.

In today's newsletter, he had a very interesting thing to say about "winners and losers" that pretty much complement my thinking on this subject. Without further ado, here is the newsletter, reprinted with his express permission. Thanks Howard.

Leadership: "It Isn't Winner Take All"
Volume 2 Number 24
by Howard Putnam

Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon.com, was asked by USA Today about all the competition Amazon faces. He said: "Our premise is there are going to be a lot of winners. It's not winner take all. Other people do not have to lose for us to win."

A very profound statement. Many organizations think they have to put the competition out of business to succeed. Our philosophy at Southwest, when I was there, and years later it still seems to be: "Expand the size of the pie, increase the total market."

I have known Zig Ziglar, the famous motivation speaker for many years. Zig is quoted as saying about the speaking business: "If you help enough other people get what they want,you will get what you want."

When you bring people together and build on partnerships and collaborations, you also build friendships and "everyone wins."

Howard Putnam speaks on leadership, change, transformation, customer service, teams and ethics. The National Speakers Association inducted Howard into the CPAE (Council of Peers Award of Excellence) Speakers Hall of Fame in 2005. He also is accredited as a CSP (Certified Speaking Professional).

He is the former CEO of the highly successful Southwest Airlines and the first CEO to take a major airline, Braniff International, into, through and out of Chapter 11, getting it flying again in less than two years.

Howard authored "The Winds of Turbulence". If you would like more information on how purchase it go to http://www.howardputnam.com/windsofturbulence.html

To check his availability as a keynote speaker or seminar facilitator, go to http://www.speakersoffice.com/ or call SpeakersOffice at 1-760-603-8110.

Copyright 2007 Howard Putnam Enterprises

U.S. Federal Copyright laws protect all material in this weekly subscription email. It may not be reprinted in any form, or hosted on any Web site without explicit written permission from Howard Putnam Enterprises. That includes publishing it on Web Sites, in ezines, in magazines, newspapers, or any other media, on or offline.

Howard D. Putnam, Speakers Office, Inc. 5927 Balfour Court Suite 103, Carlsbad, CA 92008

People you care the most about can get this publication by sending an email to execdirector@profnet.org with SUBSCRIBE PUTNAM in the subject line.
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Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Importance of Feeling Good

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While you anxiously await the cliffhanger of a story that I am working on as Part II of "The Flight That Almost Killed Me" (don't commit premeditated murder, please, I'm doing my best to work and rework the true story - hang in there!), I stumbled onto a very compelling Law of Attraction experiment over at Made to be Great. It reinforced the importance of finding ways to feel good. Because we have the power to do so. It is just a matter of opening our eyes and looking.

As you know, I am a big proponent on the Law of Attraction. We are 100 percent responsible for our lives. We draw to us people, places and circumstances. The LOA says that if we want good things to happen to us, the key is to FEEL GOOD. Feeling good raises our energy vibration, bringing us what we want for ourselves easily and effortlessly.

Take a look at a few things that make me feel bad and what I'm doing about them:

1. Budgeting does not make me feel good. People will tell you it's a "responsible thing to do" but I digress. It only serves to remind me how much more money I want to have so subconsciously it sets in motion the lack feeling. What happens? I feel bad. So why do it?

2. Eating junk food makes me feel fat and causes me to experience low energy. If I eat enough of that stuff, I start to see results in the mirror, which makes me feel bad. So why eat junk food if you know it's going to make you feel that way?

3. When I was a stockbroker at Merrill Lynch, I was obsessed with monthly sales quotas and if I wasn't close to making them, I felt bad. So what did I do? I stopped looking at them!

4. When I don't go to the gym for even a brief workout, I feel bad. In fact, I feel "guilty." Why? Because I KNOW that if I go, even for a brief period of time, I feel better afterwards yet I don't always do it because I get lazy or let "life" interfere. The solution? I discipline myself and workout even if it's only for a half hour so I can feel better.

5. This one is my favorite. Comparing myself to others make me feel bad. When I do that, I feel inadequate and feel like a failure. So what to do? I stopped comparing myself to other people and instead believe that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be and that I will get to where I want to go at the right time, under the right circumstances with the right people. That line of thinking always makes me feel good.

6. In the closet of my hallway there is a container of Tide detergent called Simple Pleasures (Vanilla and Lavender scent). I discovered this when shopping one day and decided to try it. Once I did my first load of laundry with this detergent and realized how great it smelled afterwards (thus making me feel good), I've been using it ever since. Who would ever have thought that a particular brand of detergent would make you feel good? Imagine how good it feels to slide under the freshly laundered bedsheets smelling of vanilla and lavender when I go to sleep at night! That means I feel good every single night when I retire, putting my mind in a good frame of reference regardless of how the day went.

7. What about when you look at yourself in the mirror? I'll bet this one will draw some ire from the "I love myself folks." Do you feel bad when you look at your body in the bathroom? Are your eyes drawn to those love handles that you've grown to detest? Does looking at them make you feel bad? I know it does for me. Instead of staring at those love handles, I now look at other parts of myself. Without being vain or egoistical, I do think I'm a pretty looking guy so I'll say to myself in the mirror, "Hey, dude, you ain't bad looking"! Then I'll wink at myself for good measure. That always makes me feel good.

8. How about the people you hang around with? Do they belittle you under the disguise of "joking around," making you feel bad? Actually, no one can make us feel anything unless we allow them to but suppose you feel uncomfortable or ill at ease around those people? You know, the people who give off "bad vibes." You feel bad in their presence. What to do? I don't hang around them! I'll call up someone whose positive energy makes me feel good and go to a movie or have coffee with that person. My vibrational energy always jumps several octaves higher after taking that step. In fact, I feel a great sense of gratitude when in the company of a good friend who treats me with love and respect.

9. Are you the type who won't buy a nice bottle of cologne/perfume? If you've hit a low snag for some reason, why not give yourself a nice treat, go to the mall and buy yourself your favorite fragrance? Almost every Sunday during church services, someone tells me "You smell good." They're saying that because I usually smack a couple dabs of "Tuscany" (by Aramis) on my neck. Looking in the bathroom cabinet the other day revealed I was running on low so what did I do today? I went to the mall and bought a new bottle. Did that make me feel good? Yep!

10. When I'm down for any reason, I'll jump in the car and drive myself to the park and go for a long walk. I find that when I commune with nature, I come back recharged. I have more energy and I feel better.

In order for the Law of Attraction to work, it's vitally important to feel good. It's up to you and me to bring the "feel good factor" up a couple notches. No one else can do it for us.

When you feel good, you raise your level of vibration and you attract the right people, situations and opportunities to you. People can't help but want to be in your presence because you feel good about yourself. When you speak, they listen to you. When you walk into a room, you don't have to do anything to get anyone's attention. Your "feel good energy" has already done that work for you.

So why not look for ways to feel good and attract more of the same? You deserve it.

Food for thought: What things make you feel good? Are you doing enough of it? Can you think of at least 5 things that make you feel bad and replace them with "feel good activities"?
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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Flight that Almost Killed Me - Part I

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In the winter of 2002, I was working part-time as a line service specialist at Berz Macomb airport to supplement my income in between speaking engagements. It was a fun job towing planes, refueling them and providing customer service for pilots and their passengers. They also had a very generous 50% aircraft rental discount available for the few employees who had a pilot's license.

Rather than booking a commercial flight to fly home for the holidays, I decided to take advantage of the discount and rent myself a plane instead. My choice airplane was a small four-seat Piper Cherokee similar to this one.

In preparation for the 400 mile flight, I had two options. One was to fly south of Detroit, around the bend of Lake Erie, and fly east through the upper portions of Ohio and parts of Pennsylvania before arriving to Schenectady, New York. The other was to fly straight through Canada, saving significant time and fuel.

Although it had been a year, draconian airspace restrictions that were put in place as a result of 9/11 were still being enforced. That meant if I wanted to fly through Canada, it was going to require special planning and coordination since I would be flying through international territory with their own set of rules. This was made complicated by the fact that I would not be maintaining two-way radio communication throughout the flight.

Since I absolutely, positively did not want to take the long way, I enlisted the help of a very resourceful air traffic controller to help me get clearance for flying through Canada. This man had read about me in a magazine article published shortly after I received my pilot's license the year before. He had sent me an congratulatory email introducing himself and offered to help me in any way he could.

This controller, whose name I cannot remember, jumped at the chance to help. He lost no time making a flurry of phone calls to various control towers along the proposed route. After weeks of phone calls, I was eventually cleared to make my first "international" flight home for the holidays.

The winter in 2002 was beset with howling blizzards, low lying ice-filled clouds and poor visibility. Obviously, my intention was to make it home in time for Christmas. After several nail-biting days, the weather finally turned for the better on the day before Christmas. I woke up that morning to a forecast of partly sunny skies and excellent visibility. Excited, I rushed to the airport to prepare for the flight.

After pulling the plane out of the hangar and completing the required pre-flight check, a telephone call was placed to the faceless man who made all this possible. He gave me a four digit code for the transponder box inside the cockpit. Once the transponder was activated with this unique code, my airplane would appear on everybody's radar along the route, with a special note reminding them I was a deaf pilot flying without radio communication capabilities.

After thanking him for his help, I was airborne, finally on my way home to New York. The morning air was gloriously tranquil. It was 7 am and I was passing over homes full of sleeping occupants. The roads below me barely had any traffic for the town had not yet stirred. But I was wide, wide awake.

Since Berz Macomb airport was on the east side of Michigan, it wouldn't be long before the Michigan-Canadian border would come into view. Despite the excellent weather (which gave me one less thing to worry about), my overactive imagination was painting me a stark picture of international proportions.

What if one of the Canadian controllers experienced a technological glitch and could not identify me?

I might be seen as an unwanted intruder in their airspace, causing a flurry of fighter jets to be scrambled after me! It was not a pretty picture and the thought made me somewhat nervous. I tried to push those imaginary thoughts out of my mind but it took several more minutes of flying through Canada before I began to relax and smile for the first time since taking off.

No one was coming after me - everything was going to be okay.

Encouraged, I shoved the throttle forward and began the long climb to 11, 500 feet putting me far above the scattered clouds. There I was, all alone with the sun shining against a brilliant blue backdrop. Even though the temperature outside was bitterly cold at twenty below zero, I was comfortably warm in the cockpit. The possibility of a Canadian fighter jet intercepting me slipped further and further from my mind with each passing mile.

Two hours later, the GPS alerted me that I was approaching the Canadian-New York border but when I tried to find it, I was shocked to the core to discover that the puffy white clouds had transformed themselves into one solid layer, completely blocking my view of the ground! Unfortunately, I had allowed myself to relax a bit too much, never noticing the gradual change taking place several thousand feet below me. It did not look like I could descend without putting myself through the clouds.

My heart quickened again. I began to wonder if I had made a mistake by climbing so high.

It would be another hour and a half before I had to land for refueling. I rifled through copies of weather reports, trying to see whether clear skies were forecast for nearby airports. When I couldn't find anything, I decided to keep motoring on, hoping to see a break in the clouds up ahead.

An hour had past since crossing the border. The handheld color GPS, borrowed from a fellow pilot (which would end up saving my life later), indicated I would be at Penn Yan airport in less than 30 minutes. At that moment, I received the surprise of a lifetime when the clouds magically opened up, similar to the way Moses was reputed to have parted the Red Sea.

Taking no chances, I immediately throttled back to idle and put the plane in an emergency descend configuration. The plane dropped like a hot potato, literally diving at 2,000 feet a minute. When the airport finally came into view, the clouds above me slammed shut!

My heart was yammering like crazy. It was the first time I ever put my emergency descend training to use. And it wouldn't be the first time either.

After landing, I put in a request for fuel and went inside the terminal to call my father. To my surprise, he and my mother were already at the Schenectady County Airport, waiting for me.

"But I won't be there for another hour and a half," I told him.

"There is a surprise waiting for you here," he said. "Hurry up. After you land, we have a 2 hour drive to your sister's house for dinner and we're already behind schedule."

When I pressed him for details on the surprise, he wouldn't elaborate.

Changing the subject, I said, "Dad, what's the weather like there?"

"Its gorgeous with clear, sunny skies. We're looking forward to seeing you!"

"Okay, I'll be there in a little while." And then I hung up.

One more call was made, this time to the controller at Schenectady County airport to inform him that I would be landing within two hours.

"You will be using Runway 28," he advised. Continuing, he said, "when you get here, look for the green light gun signal from the tower for permission to land. Your new transponder code is 4865. And don't forget to make your one-way call on the radio when you're about 10 miles away from the us. Okay?"

"You got it!" I was pumped and could not wait to see my parent's faces after completing the long flight.

Back outside, I rushed through the pre-flight and hurriedly got back in the air, climbing to 11,500 feet again. Since Dad told me the weather was pristine clear in Schenectady, I figured I wouldn't have to worry about going through some clouds on the way down.

Forty-five minutes after takeoff, I put the plane in gradual descend, going down at a leisurely pace of 500 feet a minute. But on the way down, I was once again smacked with the realization that the cloud deck insidiously thickened somewhere between Penn Yan and Schenectady County airports!

I couldn't believe it.

It was happening all over again and definitely not looking good.

This time there was the real possibility that I might have to arrest the descend and lumber around the sky looking for a hole to poke through. Beads of sweat sprinkled across my forehead. It was a struggle to control the sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Just what the hell had I gotten myself into?

Keying the mic, I put in a call to the tower, "Schenectady County tower, Piper Cherokee 56136 with deaf pilot on board, 10 miles west, landing Runway 28."

The cloud deck continued to rise up with only a few more miles to go. At the 5 mile way point, the Piper Cherokee was barely skimming the tops of the clouds.

It's now or never.

Without warning, the powers-to-be apparently decided to give me second chance and granted me yet another glorious Moses-style parting of the clouds, creating a hole the size of a gigantic crater! My eyes feasted upon the delicious snow covered scene of Schenectady sliding beneath me. A few miles later, the airport sprung into view. The tower controller was already directing the powerful beam of green light at me, immediately giving permission to land.

Pulling the throttle back further, I pushed the nose down and entered the airport pattern. As I was doing that, the plane unexpectedly hit a pocket of turbulence. The winds had gotten stronger and was cascading up and down the hilly terrain causing unstable air. Despite the stiff winds, I managed to make a safe, if not clumsy landing.

The tower beamed a flashing green signal, instructing me to taxi across an adjacent runway on my way over to the main terminal. In the distance, I spied a line service guy giving me hand signals, directing me to my parking spot.

Imagine my surprise after shutting down the engine when a bunch of people with TV cameras and reporters streamed out of the terminal toward the airplane. My first thought was the controllers in Canada had alerted the authorities about an unidentified airplane flying through their airspace, setting off a terrorist scare. Dancing in my head were visions of headlines screaming, "DEAF PILOT VIOLATES INTERNATIONAL AIRSPACE!"

Then I saw Mom and Dad calmly standing in the midst of all the confusion, smiling at me.

I shot them a quizzical look, wondering what all the commotion was about. Reporters were shouting questions, probably not realizing that I couldn't hear them anyway. It seemed they all wanted to know how a deaf pilot could fly alone for 400 miles without using the radio. Seizing an opportunity to ham it up, I had a blast with them. But since we were pressed for time, I had to cut the interviews short and join my parents for the 2 hour drive to my sister's for dinner.

On the way there, I learned that Mom and Dad had tipped off the press. Up to that point, they hadn't believed that I could become a pilot and this was their way of saying, "Sorry we didn't believe in you before but we're proud of what you've accomplished and want the world to know about it."


To be continued.......Part II
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