Thursday, December 27, 2012

Get Ready For 2013

What does a piano lesson, a question on LinkedIn, a random Facebook forward and a small baptist college in Elgin, IL have in common? They were all vehicles for the brain trust that came together as a "super" tribe for Relationships Matter Now on Saturday Dec 8, 2012.

Super tribe because this group of people spent  1/2 that December Saturday - two of them remotely via Skype - thinking about the future of Relationships Matter Now, LLC, strategic planning for 2013 and beyond.

I share this story for two reasons... one to encourage you to gather like minded people around your 'cause' for the coming year and to remind you to have a plan for that cause.

Whatever it is you want to do, whatever you need to accomplish  - it will not happen with you alone. It must be aided by the relationships in your life and what better time to rally folks than in a reflecting exercise on where you are and where you want to go.

That's what we did that cold Saturday morning. Three in one room and two online. Technology challenged but we stayed to course and hammered out some clear cut things that Relationships Matter Now can do to jump start 2013.

Not only is there a basic framework for the founder to follow but there is built in accountability because 4 other people know what needs to happen as well. There are specific deliverables, dates to regroup and road map to get started immediately.

Relationships Matter Now is ready for 2013! Are you? Is your business? your career? If you cannot say yes to all these things - I'm gonna need you to do the following:


Take a moment to reflect on the past year. What was good? What was not good? What could have been better? What could have been worse? Who helped? Who hindered? Grab a journal and write it down. Grab a tribe member and get their feedback. You (like many of us) are too close to it. You need some outside perspective. Reflect alone and reflect in a group or with a partner but please take the time to reflect on 2012. You cannot move forward well without at least reviewing what's happened and why.


As you think ahead - record what you feel, what you want to feel. Record what you envision happening. Write down the people who can help make it happen. Write down a few scenarios on how you can get it to happen. Share these recordings with your tribe -perhaps your "super" tribe - those closest to you and who have the most interest in what you are doing. Don't share this with just anyone - these thoughts, actions, plans are precious and only need to be shared with your inner circle. Recording them is step one and sharing is another step but both are essential to getting you ready for 2013.

So what are you waiting for? Get going!

Monday, December 17, 2012

3 Easy Ways To Protect Your Fun This Holiday Season

Over the next few weeks, most of us will be faced with the prospect of spending more time than normal with our close and/or extended loved ones.  That thought can bring both joy and terror to the hearts of many.

We all know that the holidays adds pressure that is not there at other times of the year. I want to encourage you to protect your fun this holiday season. Here are three practical things you can do:

Breathe Deeply. Often.

In our rush, rush, hurry hurry society, it is easy to just quickly move from place-to-place, person-to-person without ever really truly experiencing a moment.  Breathing deeply, often forces you to do that. When we take deep breathes, we are confined to the moment we are in. It forgets what is behind and holds off what lies ahead. A deep exaggerated inhale and intentionally pushed out exhale holds the participant in the time it takes to do it. It clears the mind and empties the heart, even if just for a few seconds. You cannot do anything else when you do it. 


Genuinely open your heart and widen your mouth as much as you possibly can over the next few weeks. Especially try this at that trying dinner/cocktail/visit you know you will be faced with. Smiling eases the muscles in your face and takes less energy than a frown. Use a smile in response to the dig you may get from the family member who takes sarcastic digs at everyone. Smile to yourself as you realize you missed a gathering or forgot to buy a gift you'd planned on getting.  Smile knowing that your regular routine - good or bad is just a few days away. Smile knowing your have an opportunity to make the new year that is fast approaching, a new beginning.

Use Fewer Words.

Speak less words in your interactions this holiday season.  Precise communication really helps all situations. Choosing wisely what to say and what not to say can make the difference in every relationship you have this holiday season. This is especially tough but important for both those close relations and the distant ones. In our close relations, we feel comfortable saying "all we have to say" while in our distant relations, we often feel the need to "fill them in" because of the distance. I say use fewer words in all settings and see how it goes. You may hear more than you normally do. You will certainly have less pressure to say the right thing if you go this route.

Picking one or more of these tips will surely protect your fun this holiday season.  I employed them all last year and will be doing it again this year.

Happy holidays. Merry Christmas. Happy Hannukah. and a Happy and Prosperous 2013!

Monday, December 10, 2012

RIP Jenni Rivera - What A Difference 17 years Makes or Not

The late Jenni Rivera and her now estranged husband, former White Sox Pitcher Esteban Loaiza

Another young famous person is gone too soon.

With the news of the passing of "La diva de banda" Jenni Rivera sending shock waves through Latin America and across the Spanish speaking community in the United States, I'm no longer an outsider looking in. I am feeling this loss even though I do not listen to banda - the music that Jenni made a household name to most anyone who speaks Spanish in the world. She'd sold close to 20M albums and just released a new one in the last few weeks.

The last time the Latin world mourned someone with such charisma, beauty and potential to cross over into general market stardom was over 17 years ago when Selena Quintanilla Perez left this planet by an assasin's bullet.

I remember seeing the news and not understanding, at all the magnitude of the loss. As the death of any young person always grips me, someone who had to deal with death since a very early age, I could not fathom the blow that the Latin community seemed to take when they lost Selena in 1995. I'd never heard one song. I'd never even remembered seeing her on the Grammy Awards show the year before her death and I was a huge music fan.

After her death, I proceeded to learn all I could about Selena since really my only connection to her at the time of her death was that we were both born in 1971. I read articles, books, anything I could get my hands on in English and in Spanish to learn about this fallen star and why so many people were hurt by her parting.

I did this because of how annoyed and disgusted I was by hearing people say things like - "Who is she?"  "Why does this matter?" Of course, every person matters, famous or not -but my goal then was to spread myself outside my world - which at that time really consisted of very little outside "mainstream American culture."

That journey, the spring and summer of 1995 opened my eyes to a rich culture that had been in my life all along growing up in Chicago Heights, IL when the census count was most likely 30% White, 30% Black and 30% Mexican-American. I bet back then that many of the gals I grew up with in da Heights knew and mourned the loss of Selena and vowed that would not happen to me again.

The years that followed saw me do many many things to broaden my culutral horizon including travel to many countries in Europe and Latin America. I became fluent in Spanish because I knew it would help me as I worked for a Major League Soccer team start-up - the Chicago Fire. Mostly teaching myself via telenovelas and Spanish music. Amazing how the universe conspires to change your life when you are ready.

Fast forward to 2012.

LOTS has changed in my life since 1995, most notably, I am Mexican por matrimonio (by marriage). So you can imagine, upon hearing the news of Jenni Rivera's missing plane and subsequent crash that not only did I know who Jenni was - I'd actually seen her show, I Love Jenni on mun2, once or twice. I'd heard her music at a quincenera or even at my home as we flipped though the hundreds of channels on cable TV - a third of which are Spanish speaking in our house.

So what? You may be thinking...

Well not much has changed in 17 years. People are still in the dark about the "Jenni Riveras" of our country. Social media amplifies that now versus then - did you see some of the comments on the CNN stories or on Twitter?

"Who cares? I don't know her"

"Why is this news?"

Those were the most frustrating comments to me.  And they were the same comments I heard 17 years ago when Selena was killed. Famous American women not even recognized in our shared country. Yeah, our country. Jenni and Selena were both born here in California and Texas.  Both were groundbreaking musical artists who appealed to a huge and growing segment of the US. You could even say that Selena opened the door to Jenni's success. Their contributions to music and beyond were huge and growing each year with both women branching out into fashion and other industries with their unique style and appeal. And because their contribution to our American mosaic is still not quite accepted and valued, these women packaged their talents and sold them to millions of  people outside their home country. Nothing is wrong with that, I'd just like to see the day when we can accept that America is evolving and changing and everyone's contributions to that change is valuable. And until our relationship with diversity and differences changes in our country, we will continue to have more to the same behavior towards one another.

I'd love it if the next Selena or Jenni does not have leave these shores to make their fortune.

RIP Jenni Rivera, I'm glad I had the chance to know who you were.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

From Here To Your Life's Work: Step 5 - Make A Bold Move

Fifth and final step toward your life's work
We've come to the place in the journey where the rubber meets to road.

Do you really believe you've found your life's work?

Are you ready to take a gamble on yourself?

Will you make a move that scares you?

Regardless your answers to those questions, you at this point and you need to answer them honestly.

Over the last few weeks, we've journeyed through the main topics of my book, From Here to There: 5 Steps To Doing Your Life's Work Every Day. The final step in the journey comes easy for some.

After spending the time to find your voice, build the tribe, start something and committing to using your best talents daily - the final step just presents itself and many will grab the opportunity. Or it could take time practically pass you by like it happened for me.

While I was starting stuff and using my talents daily, the "bold move" took more than a full year to manifest itself for me. I contend that this step is actually a series of small bold moves that allow you to take comfort in your direction.

Had I not started making small bold moves before the fall of 2011, I am pretty sure I would not have recognized the bold, bold move when it appeared.  One of my small bold moves was making an identity for the my business and making business cards in the summer of 2010. Engaging a design group to create a logo and mark for Relationships Matter Now was one of the first moves I made to bring the ideas and thoughts on my life's work to life.

Stepping out, spending money and engaging outsiders in that vision way back then was really a bold move albeit small in my eyes. There were a series of these small bold moves for the 15 months until I made what I now point to as THE bold move that changed the course of the business and subsequently my life. Without question, the small steps made me ready for the big one when it appeared. It is the simple law of momentum. Once an object is set into motion in a direction, lots of forces support the move and only a huge counter effort can stop it.

We must not waver. Once you start the journey to your life's work - you must complete it. There is no time frame but you have to take advantage of any momentum you generate and you have to make bold moves. Often.

Be ready when your bold move presents itself.