Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Top 3 Lessons from 2009

Bidding farewell to this year is quite easy as change is in my blood. As I start to formulate objectives for 2010, I can't help but look back and reflect on 2009 with awe. I could write for hours (days) on all the lessons I learned this past year but I won't. I'll sum it up in three.

Lesson #1 from 2009 - Even when a storm rages, keep your focus and don't lose hope for greater spoils.

2009 started in a storm that held over from 2008. Precisely on New Year's Day 2009, I received a phone call that clearly let me know that the storm from the previous year was far from over.

By April, not only had the worst of the clouds cleared out, but a new adventure awaited with my election to the Board of Trustees for the Village of Lake in the Hills. Seven months into the job, I can honestly say, I love it.

I never lost hope that greater things awaited me on the otherside of the challenges I faced.

Lesson #2 from 2009 - Surrender is a life altering attitude and daily action.

As the year progressed, several endeavors both personally and professionally really gained momentum. With each passing month, focused energy on the goals which included rebuilding trust in my most important human relationship and finding meaningful purpose in my work life, forced me to relinquish my death grip on the "outcome" in all areas of my life. I learned what true surrender means in 2009 and what a freeing and liberating concept it is to live by.

I challenged my Maker to show up and own the most important and mundane situations in my life in 2009 because it was just too damn exhausting trying to do it all myself.

Boy, did He show me.

From the littlest details of my daily life to the big decisions and angst I wrestled with throughout 2009, my Maker orchestrated every move and gave me peace. And joy. Joy is not tied to circumstance or a feeling, but an internal force that propels you forward.

Joy comes only when you surrender your control over the outcomes in your life.

Lesson #3 from 2009- Trust yourself and give your dreams some love.

By late November, I had my epiphany. Relationships Matter Now. Now you may read that and say, "Duh, how'd you get to be a 38 year old marketer without figuring that out?" I mean that Relationships Matter Now is my calling. My life's work will be centered around this thought , "Relationships Matter Now". Today, it is not all clear what exactly it will entail but I am building on this concept day-by-day until it manifests itself fully. It is exciting and scary all at once. Be sure and tune in in the coming days, it will be part of my 2010 objectives. We will watch this new project will unfold before our collective eyes over the next year.

The reason this concept has taken hold of me is the realization that relationships of all kinds abound in our lives and most often, most people don't embrace them, care for them - cherish them. Even the fleeting work and transactional interactions with other humans matter and they matter greatly. I am convinced that as we press forward into the new century, we must recalibrate how we look at relationships, all relationships. This isn't a just a company or a campaign - it is a movement.

A movement I plan to lead.

So long 2009... thank you for all you taught me.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Greetings from an Authentic Christmas Lover

This picture is great imagery for what is in my heart today.







My house smells like cookies and cakes as I am only cooking desserts this year. Thanks Famous Dave's for the BBQ feast. That may just have to become a tradition. We did it once way back when Emma was a baby and judging from every one's reaction - it appears that we need to order in BBQ as part of the Barreto family Christmas celebrations to come.

We attended a Christmas service at Willowcreek Community Church earlier this week that touched our hearts in a special way. I met one of my favorite leaders

Tonight, we'll anxiously await "the man with the bag" to bestow Emma and Evan with some of their wishes.

This time of year means different things to different people. I am always amused by the various "debates" about Christmas among my Christian brethren. For me there is nothing more "Christian" than just respecting others and being kind whenever given an opportunity. This season we are given ample opportunities, perhaps many more than in other time of the year.

I'd debated about blogging about two topics before today but Mandisa (of American Idol fame and current Christian contemporary artist) and one of her commentators, Susan H. Lawrence covered them adequately so go take a look:

Mandisa's Christmas vs Xmas

Susan's Too Much Nativity

Enjoy these two well written viewpoints on the topic of Christmas and Christians. And if you happen to be one who doesn't celebrate Christmas at all, enjoy your days of rest courtesy of all us Christmas celebrants.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Encounter with an Authentic Leader

This post will go 100% against everything the person it honors stand for... individual recognition. But I have to write it because I believe it will enlighten folks who've only heard of him or interacted with him at a distance.

The person is Bill Hybels, founder and Senior Pastor of Willowcreek Community Church.

Last night, my family and I had the honor of sitting in the second row for a historic event at Willowcreek Community Church, the first Christmas service presented in Spanish in 34 years of Christmas services - Dios Con Nosotros. The picture above is not great but gives you an idea of the magnitude of the event - close to 10, 000 Spanish speaking people in the auditorium.

Fernando Arau, the Mexican born entertainer opened the event with an incredible testimony of how he experienced Immanuel (God with Us or Dios Con Nosotros) in his life.

What followed was a heartfelt mix of music, drama and message delievered to close to 10,000 Spanish speaking guests in the main auditorium of the third largest church in the United States.

I could not help but be excited when I spotted Bill, one row over from us in the front. I've been part of Willowcreek, off and on since 1990 - settling there once and for all in 2002.

I've attended 3 out of the last 4 Leadership Summits at Willow that draws church and marketplace leaders from around the world with faciliators such as Carly Fiorina, Bono, Colin Powell, Jim Collins, Patrick Lencioni and next year Jack Welch.

To say that Bill is a rock star to me is really an understatement. I have admired him from a distance for many years. His example of leadership has especially touched me since I started attending the Summits in 2006. But none of it prepared me for the chance encounter last night.

At the conclusion of the service, we moved to the front of the stage to hug Gaby Hermosillo, the wife and partner in ministry of the Casa de Luz Pastor Hector Hermosillo. As I turned around, there he was, standing pretty close and not talking to anyone

I introduced myself and told him a brief story I crafted in my head a moment before, as I spoke - he looked at me intently. Smiled warmly. It was as if it were me and him in the room (with 10,000 of our closest friends nearby).

Just as I started to tell him how awesome Willow has been in my life over the years - he got the look of "Please don't thank me" and quickly acknowledged that it was "God thing" how Willow had come together for me over the years including the start of Casa de Luz, a Spanish language service that not-so-conincidently began in the fall of 2002, just as we moved to the area looking for a church home.

Sorry Bill, but I disagree.

You, your authentic leadership and obedience to God is what has propeled Willow in the last 34 years.

Your humility that I witnessed first hand last night, up close and personal is astounding.

Your vision is unshakable.

Your compassion for others and particularly for me and my family last night is moving.

Your genuine desire to put Him at the center of everything is inspiring.

Thank you.

You didn't let me say it last night but I will say it here.

Thank you for your quest for justice.

Thank you for leading by example.

Thank you for leading me (and Willow) all these years.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Do What You Love. Period

Today, I did just that.

I woke up at my normal 5:15 call time. Started the day with a little reading and a lot of prayer.

Laid out my objectives for the day and set out to achieve each one.

By 2:30, I'd landed on the purpose for my upcoming venture. By 3:00, I connected with a contact that had eluded me lately regarding 2010 speaking opportunities. Score.

I worked out later and made a fabulous dinner for my family.

We opened a bottle of wine for the occasion.

Today was a glimpse of my future. I plan to work as hard as it takes to ensure that one day in 2010, I will do what I love everyday.

If you are on the fence about pursuing your dream, whatever that may be - I encourage you to do a trial run. Give that dream some love.

You will feel the love in return.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Be Authentic in Business So We Know

This past week, I was soooooooo glad that two different businesses I interact with were authentic in their dealings with me. Because of their authenticity and consistent treatment, I've taken my business and hard earned cash to their competitors. Happily.

In the first case, it was a service organization who had no clue how to manage a potential customers expectations. My kids take music lessons and since the school they had been with moved too far south, I'd found another school opening a new studio near my house. We signed up with them months in advance of the opening to secure the spot we desired. Time passed and there was no call from the business to our house to confirm the start of our engagement. I made three calls to the company to gage when we could expect to start the classes. On the final call - two weeks AFTER the classes should be going, the owner was slightly agitated when I pressed to understand the exact date the lessons could start. "We are going to start fresh in the new year and I'll call you to confirm the date."

Further, I asked if they had a referral program because others at the school I patronized were looking for a new location - she said, "No, but I'll happily take the referral and thank you." Then the kicker - the owner asked if I could change the night that I'd secured almost four months prior because she could not work out a teacher.

They were fired that day and I called another nearby studio who had availability on the night I need to accommodate both children - piano and guitar.

A day later, I was attempting to purchase a necklace at an establishment where they experienced a temporary loss of credit card processing with a long line of customers. I was midway through the line and heard that they were accepting checks or cash. So I piped up that I was a cash paying customer and started toward the front of the line. I was immediately admonished that I was "cutting" people who were there before me (all of which were paying with credit or debit). I held out my cash and explained that I was ready while all those people wanted to wait for the credit machine to boot up again. Nothing. I was told to get back in line and they'd wait on me when it was my turn.

They were fired that day and I went to their competitor two days later and purchased the same necklace for about 40% less.

Moral of the story here - believe them! The first time!

Don't think that the business you deal with is just "having a bad day" when you are mistreated.

Don't give them the benefit of the doubt more than once.

Yeah, this is a rant but as a future business owner, it's also a note to my future competitors.

Go ahead, be yourselves.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Classic Authentically Grips Me This Season

This is my favorite time of year, musically speaking.

I love to hear all the various artists singing songs to honor our newborn King.

It's cool to hear Barenaked Ladies singing "God Bless Ye Merry Gentleman"

I cannot pass up any Harry Connick, Jr version of any song but his "O Holy Night" is by far my favorite, followed closely by "Ave Maria"

What moves me the most are the actual words to these songs that we pull out once a year...

"Fall on your knees"

"No crib for a bed"

"Peace on earth and merry mild"

Every year, all the traditional hymns grip my heart and cause me to pause every time I hear them. Something new is happening this year - a song from the animated classic "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" has gripped along with the others.

"Put One Foot In Front Of The Other"

You may remember it, it's the song where young Kris Kringle tells Winter Warlock he can change from bad to good. The chorus is what it is -it's the verses that have moved me, especially in my current journey.

Check this out...

"If you want to change your direction
If you're time of life is at hand
Well don't be the rule -- be the exception
A good way to start is to stand"

You don't have to be a sage to pull the business advice from this verse.

Or look at the first verse...

"You never will get where you're goin'
If you never get up on your feet
Come on! There's a good tail wind blowin'
A fast walkin' man is hard to beat!"

Funny, I have been listening to this song for almost three weeks. Practically daily. It was today on my commute with Evan and I singing it loudly that it smacked me in the face.
I have my business idea.
Confirmed validation from the trusted core of advisers.
I've got the "tailwind" that Kris references.
I just need to walk a little faster.

Friday, December 4, 2009


Earlier this week, after pretty much avoiding it like the plague, I joined Twitter for a work project.

Tweetastic - what the heck had I been thinking!!

My rationale was simple... I don't need another media.

I don't need another way to be "connected" to my peeps.

What could I possibly say or tweet all day long?

I was wrong and I'm not afraid to tweet it!

In five short days - Twitter has connected me with Simplicity Inc. who will surely be instrumental in guiding me on my first business adventure.

I have also connected to award-winning authors, mommy bloggers who rock and my beloved Lenny Kravitz.

More importantly than the connections is the sheer Twitter 140 character function that has forced me to be more succinct. To the point. Clear in my communications.

That is the biggest blessing and has had the MOST EXCELLENT timing in my current journey.

While I am still navigating how to manage my Twitter time, it has been a gem in my life so far.