On Toxic Thought


I am an entrepreneur and I spend a great deal of my time mentoring others who want to be entrepreneurs.

I love what I do.  And like most things in life, I learn a great deal from my coaching students.

One of the greatest challenges to success is the self-doubt, second-guessing and downright toxic thought process that invades their minds.  Most people that want to be successful entrepreneurs have a clear vision of their goals.  Unfortunately, many are not really sure if they’re capable or worthy of leading the process.

You can’t succeed unless you believe you can.  Period.

We all have doubts about our own capabilities.  That’s not the issue.  The skill is to get past the doubts.  I don’t know of anyone that built a successful business while thinking “I’m not capable”.

John Rampton is an entrepreneur and blogger.  He created a list of ‘toxic’ thoughts and some great counsel on getting past them. I agree with him.  Totally.

John writes:


You’re more likely to fail with that self-talk, certainly. Plus, you don’t really have statistics on your side since the numbers don’t lie: The vast majority of startups do fail. It’s how you see those challenges and take them on that make a difference.

You only have two options as a potential entrepreneur who knows the failure rates: Think you’re going to fail, or think you’ll be an exception. Choosing the latter is a much healthier option. However, should you fail (it happens), learning valuable lessons will make you much more likely to succeed next time.

Related: The Morning Rituals of 10 of the World’s Most Inspirational Entrepreneurs (Infographic)


Nobody is a natural-born leader, but everyone has traits they can hone to make them a great leader. Remember there are many different types of good leaders, and you don’t need to mimic a particular style to find success. Of course, there are a lot of successful entrepreneurs who aren’t good leaders. That’s why they hire a CEO to take care of the overall leadership for them.

Entrepreneurs are jacks of all trades, masters of none (it’s kind of a requirement), so if leadership isn’t your thing, work on that weakness but also consider bringing on a stronger leader to fill the gaps.


There’s no industry-wide degree, certification or licensing to become an entrepreneur. It’s not like saying “I’m not a real plumber.” The reality is that even the definition of an entrepreneur is up for debate. It’s not about fulfilling a certain number of criteria to “be” an entrepreneur. Don’t ask yourself if you’re really an entrepreneur or put yourself in charge of defining what it is. It’s not important. If you want to start a business, you’re on an entrepreneurial track. It’s time to step out of your shell and become the leader that you’re meant to be.

Related: Are You a Real Entrepreneur or Just a Fake?


Join the club. It takes a very special kind of person to be a “natural” salesperson, but anyone can learn those skills. There are many ways to work on your sales skills, but remember that the ultimate goal isn’t to be the salesperson on the floor talking to every single customer. Right now, you need to “sell” yourself, your business and your goods/services to investors and your early customer base. There’s an end in sight, since ideally you’ll eventually hire sales teams. You can do anything for a while. Remember: It’s not only “salespeople” who can sell.


If you don’t think you’re “worth it,” why should anyone else? A lot of entrepreneurs don’t believe in themselves and devalue their worth, which sets them up for failure. Don’t focus on your “worth,” but instead work on your business drive. Being scrappy with a hustler attitude is what it’s going to take in the early days. Also, “worth” is very subjective, and not necessarily tied to a specific figure. There are plenty of other things to focus on at this point.

You’ll face plenty of negative talk on this journey, so why join in? Welcome support from all angles, especially yourself.

Related: 6 Toxic Beliefs That Can Ruin Your Career

Bottom line for me is that, like any other challenge in life, it’s up to you to push through, abandon your comfort zone and just go for it.  It’s absolutely worth it.

Closing as always with something to think about: “When things go wrong, don’t go with them.” (Elvis Presley)

To A Diminutive Warrior

brandon banks




The picture tells it all.  It was a crushing moment.  A moment that Brandon Banks will never forget.

Brandon Banks is tiny compared to the rest of the professional football players in the CFL.  He says he weighs 153 pounds. His trainer says he’s 143.  He’s fast with dependable hands and a heart as big as the stadiums where he plays.

The Hamilton Tiger Cats were building what could have been a huge upset in the championship game.  Down to the Calgary Stampeders 20-6, the rally started.  And with just minutes left in the game Brandon Banks returned one for a touchdown.  Or so he thought.  It was a memorable display of athleticism.  As he was zipping down the field he had a purpose, a mission, a dream – get the ball into the end zone, score the winning touchdown and finish a remarkable comeback for his team.  That’s the stuff that heroes and legends are made of.

It wasn’t to be.

As Banks ran, behind him a penalty flag had been thrown.  A clipping call on Hamilton.  And as the camera zoomed in on Banks with the look of determination on his face that led to a victory celebration in the end zone, my heart sank for this diminutive warrior.  He had no idea that a penalty had been called.  He had no idea that this amazing kick return was in vain,  that the score wouldn’t count and that his intense effort to inspire his team would quickly turn to anguish.

Within seconds of feeling the triumph of what could have been the game winning touchdown he realized it was not to be.  Something totally beyond his control had stopped his team from achieving the dream they’d battled for all year.  He crumpled in the end zone.

This is a learning experience for all of us whether we watched the game or not.

Because Brandon Banks proved a point yesterday.

If he had been in tune with the stunned silence that began as the fans recognized a flag had been thrown, would he have stopped?  Had he taken a quick look at his teammates on the sidelines holding their hands to their heads would he have just given up?

He didn’t stop.  He didn’t give up.  And the reason he didn’t stop was very simply that his focus was so intense that he had no idea that something had gone terribly wrong.  It was out of his mind, out of his sight and out of his control.

Brandon Banks was focused on one thing and one thing only.  Achieving the dream.  And in that picture of a crumpled, heart-broken football player is the true essence of motivation.

We should all have this kind of drive, determination and focus.  And despite the fact that he didn’t score the game winning touchdown Brandon Banks caught the ball, turned on the jets and did exactly what he set out to do.

His touchdown didn’t wind up creating CFL history.  It didn’t count.  But he scored it anyway with laser-like focus on completing his mission.

That’s what heroes do.

That’s why this picture of a dejected, devastated athlete has been placed on my computer monitor.

To remind me that Brandon Banks’ touchdown didn’t make it to the scoreboard.  But he completed his mission.

“Always focus on the front windshield and not the review mirror.” (General Colin Powell)



Turning 60

60 is the newToday is my birthday.  My 60th birthday.

I find the concept very confusing.  I look in the mirror and know that I’m 60.  But I don’t feel it.

Allow me to explain.  First the part that I understand.

I’ve been blessed with a wonderful life that includes an amazing wife of 34 years, a remarkable family plus a glorious list of long time, trusted friends. I’m in good health and mostly sound of mind.

But I’m wondering today what ‘being 60’ is supposed to be.  I grew up in an era that dictated “you can’t trust anyone over 30” so I knew when I turned 30 that I couldn’t trust myself.  When I turned 40  my waistline taught me  that the Roman Numerals for 40 are XL.   50 was a blur.

But 60?  What is it?

I have so many questions.

Does my favourite tv channel now automatically become the Weather Network?  Why do I see all my favourite childhood toys selling for huge dollars on Ebay?  How has the word ‘spry’ crept into my vocabulary?

Ever so many questions.

Do my pants start to creep upwards daily so that I’ll ultimately look like a pair of pants with a head?  When my phone rings at 9:00 p.m. are people going to start the conversation by asking “did I wake you?”.  When do I begin driving under the speed limit because, well, I don’t have anywhere to be that fast?

Endless questions.

Are my secrets now truly safe with my friends because they can’t remember them either?  Do I need to start an exercise program so that I can remember what heavy breathing sounded like?  Am I now obligated to have supper at 4:00 pm?

There is no manual for this.  There is no Cole’s Notes or cheat sheets or even some heavily funded government document that answers these questions.  There’s nothing that tells you what being 60 is supposed to be.

At 60 the government has started paying me to stay home.   I fooled them.  I’m not staying home.  I’m on the way out the door right now or at least as soon as I can find my glasses and car keys and double-check my phone to see where the heck I’m supposed to be.  Which reminds me.  Why is my phone now my calendar?

And because there is  no information on what it’s like to be 60, it appears that  the duty has fallen to  me to define it.  Somebody totally ditched their obligation to society and this is now in my hands.  Not the best decision whoever you are.  So here’s my plan.  I’m converting to Celsius.  60 is 16 Celsius.

So yes, today is my birthday.  My 16th birthday.





The Green Thing

Green bin 2Last week I posted a personal opinion on the issue of credibility when it comes to walking the walk and talking the talk.  It was called “Climate Change, Coffee Cups and Credibility“.

What follows is a very  interesting and honest document on the subject of recycling and the environment.  The problem is that I have absolutely no idea who wrote it.  I’ve scoured the internet for the original source and although it has been reposted and blogged multiple times, nothing I’ve found gives credit to the original author.

If you are the original author, you have my deepest respect and I am posting your thoughts, without changes, just as I received it from a regular reader of this blog.  If you are the original author, please contact me so that I can give you the proper credit for this incredible piece.

This is what arrived in my inbox from a friend after reading my earlier post:

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days.”

The young clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”

She was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were truly recycled. But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks.  This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribbling’s. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags. But too bad we didn’t do the green thing back then.

We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days.  Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.  But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana.  In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us.  When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she’s right; we didn’t have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of
buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn’t have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?

And as always, I end this post with something to think about:  Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.” (George Orwell)

Mentors – How to Choose

mentorI have never met anyone that has had massive success without the help of a mentor.  Period.

Mentorship is the oldest form of education.  It is one-on-one learning from a person that has already travelled the path you desire.

Plato was mentored by Socrates.  Together they founded the Academy in Athens,the first institution of higher learning in the western world.  Along with Socrates and his most famous student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the foundations of western philosophy and science.   I’d say that mentoring relationship was pretty successful.

So how do you find a mentor?

I asked myself that question over 35 years ago when I decided I wanted to become a radio broadcaster.  There were virtually no institutions of higher learning that taught broadcasting and I couldn’t have afforded the tuition anyway.  So I took a gamble.  I called a man that I knew had massive success in the industry and said “If it’s okay with you, I’d like to take you for lunch and pick your brain about getting into broadcasting”.  He agreed and when we sat down to lunch he asked me to repeat, word for word, the request I had made when I originally called him.  I said, “If it’s okay with you, I’d like to take you for lunch and pick your brain about getting into broadcasting”.  His response was, “If you want to have huge success, stop asking for permission.”  That little nugget alone was worth the price of the lunch.  We had a lengthy mentoring relationship that created a 35 year career that I loved.

When I decided to expand my horizons after reading a book about multiple streams of income, I called an acquaintance that had the kind of success in business that I wanted to achieve.  Having learned from my first mentor, I dialled the number and said “I’d like to take you for lunch on Thursday or Friday this week.  What works best for you?”  Instant positive response.

In anything I have ever achieved, I have been blessed to find truly wonderful mentors.  Here’s a short list I give people when they ask me how to find a mentor:

1.  Has this person already achieved the success necessary to help you reach your goals?

2.  Do your personal values align?  It’s important to find out whether there is a common moral, educational and family basis for ongoing conversation.  A great mentor not only works on your specific goal with you.  They know that your life has to be in alignment on all fronts if you’re going to succeed.  It’s much easier to have those discussions if you share common values.

3.  Is this someone you would trust with your family, income and future because that’s exactly what you’re doing when you agree to a mentoring relationship.  You are putting total trust in someone’s ability to get you where you want to go.

4.  Most importantly, ask questions and listen to the answers.  Is this a person that you want to spend the next several years working with?

I get asked to take the role of mentor regularly.  My available time is limited and precious but I help whenever I can to pay homage to the mentors that have influenced my life.

I’ve had a life that has taken many interesting paths. I’ve learned a lot from mentors who were instrumental in shaping me, and I want to share what I’ve learned.” (Herbie Hancock)