Tag: personal development

Why We Don’t Ask Questions – Pt 2

A couple of weeks ago, we discussed the notion that being told “no” creates a personal fear when asking questions and also looked at how to dispel that fear.

Today, I wanted to address a second cause that keeps us from speaking up: not listening.


Earth to Me
Do you ever find yourself in a situation and realize you completely zoned out? You know you missed something, but you’re too embarrassed to ask?

Me too.

The problem in this situation is that there’s no great way around it. I can try to piece together what I missed based on context clues, but do I really want to ask that question and look like a fool? Nope. I’m just going to keep my mouth shut, thank you very much.

Tune In. Listen Up.
If you’ve ever heard the phrase “active listening”, this is really what it takes.

I understand that meetings get long, professors can be boring and that guy that just walked by the window looked eerily similar to Lenny Kravitz…but he didn’t have a jean jacket on so that couldn’t have been him…wait, did someone just say my name? Dang it…

Personally, I find my listening skills directly conflict with my ego. As in, “I already know what she’s talking about”, so I don’t really need to listen. Or, “His jokes are so lame”, so I would have said it this way. And then, “I can’t wait to share my two cents because it’s the only thing I’ve thought about since we all sat down”, so I missed someone sharing that same opinion already.

It can become so easy to focus on “me” in social situations that active listening ceases to exist. I have to put my own agenda aside and work on giving my full attention to whoever is speaking.

Put my phone away.

Make eye contact.

Nod in agreement.

Take notes – which includes writing down questions, so I don’t focus on my question and stop listening.

Be Interested, Not Interesting.
In his book “How To Win Friends and Influence People”, Dale Carnegie talks about the importance of “being interested, not interesting”.

One of the most basic elements of being human is a desire to be known. Whether that’s by one really good friend or a group of peers, we at least owe it to each other to listen. It shows that we’re interested in them, shows them respect and affirms the fact that they have self-worth.

Will we always be perfect? No, but but that gives us something to work on.

Does that mean we always have to agree with someone and bottle our own opinions? Definitely not. But as much as we want to share our own stance on a subject, so does someone else. Let that create a dialogue.

Going to Level 3
In college, I took a class on consumer marketing where the bulk of our discussion revolved around Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. One thing I’ve always remembered was the professor’s insistence on being able to ask “Level 3” questions. Meaning, ask questions that are personal and allow someone to share their expertise or a cherished memory. It’s something that has stuck with me to this day, and I try to practice it when I can. It shows that I’m interested, and you can oftentimes see a visible change in that person’s demeanor.

So if I’m honest with myself, the real reason I typically don’t ask questions is because I’m either over thinking it (Pt 1) or not actively listening. If I can work through both of those, questions should become an opportunity for personal, professional and relational growth. So let’s ask away!

4 Books to Help Launch Your Dream


If you have an ounce of entrepreneurial spirit in you, odds are good you’re looking at 2015 and thinking “This is my year!” You’re ready to bust out and do something big. When I decided I wanted to start this blog, I began to look for resources to help focus my goals and bring my vision to life. Below are four books that I found extremely motivating and technologically insightful to get this show on the road. Regardless of what you have in mind, each of these has something to offer.

off balance

1. Off Balance by Matthew Kelly
The primary takeaway here is that work-life “balance” isn’t real. One will always effect the other, so it’s a matter of finding what’s important to you and prioritizing. Along with helping you determine these priorities, Matthew also shares his system to drive behavioral change. As he says, “Satisfaction doesn’t come from experiences and things, but rather having experiences and things that you deem important”.



2. Essentialism by Greg McKeown
With a similar feel to “Off Balance”, this book helps you figure out how to do less but do it better – cutting out the trivial many for the important few. Greg discusses topics like the power of choice, the importance of sleep (my favorite section) and how to say “no” gracefully, among many other things. He then gives his step-by-step process to work toward the “essentialist” life. A must-read for anyone feeling overwhelmed and too busy for their own good!


start3. Start by Jon Acuff
A great book that’s both motivational and humorous, Jon’s writing style is easy to relate to – because we’ve all been in a situation where we just needed the gumption to get going. This book will help you flip the switch to “awesome” by debunking any fears lurking inside of you. Whether it’s making action payments at 5:30am or going to rehab to gain experience, Jon is honest with you about how to begin your journey and get where you want to go.



4. Platform by Michael Hyatt
Talk about a power-house playbook! Not sure how to get your message heard or set yourself up for success in the digital world? Read this book. I knew how to blog and use social media before I read Platform, but Michael lays how out to tie it all together (and then the real work begins). I know I’ve only scratched the surface in the whole process, but I’m also confident I’m headed in the right direction – and that’s a good feeling to have. It’s an in-depth discussion on setting up your product, your blog and your social media and then leveraging those resources to stay in contact with your tribe to drive success.

So there you have it…my recommendation for some great reads to help pursue your dreams in 2015. What are your goals for this year, and what will you have to do to accomplish them? Any recommended reads you’d like to share? Please let me know in the comments!

Every Job Has a Lesson

I once heard a speaker named Frank Mercadante share his research on what makes the millennial generation (i.e. my generation) different from those previous. One of the attributes that stuck with me was who millennials consider a role model; more often than not, we pick our parents. Having put my Father’s Day card in the mail, I’ve been thinking about the lessons my dad taught me, specifically those that shaped how I try to navigate the business world.

For thirty-plus years, my dad has owned more than a dozen rental properties, on top of being a full-time pilot (has an entrepreneurial gene been discovered yet?). That means, for as long as I can remember, my brother and I had steady summer jobs mowing lawns and cleaning houses when tenants moved out. Many of Dad’s teachable moments came from these very tasks and have all had an impact on my still-young career.

1. The Devil is in the Details

One of the biggest lessons I learned was to pay attention to details. If my mower couldn’t get any closer to a house and the weed-eater was broken, I had better stop and pull the weeds out of the ground by hand; there was no excuse for having an unruly lawn. And before an apartment was really ready for move-in, someone (see: me) had to tighten every screw in the house – outlet covers, switch covers, door hinges, door knobs, kitchen cabinets, you name it. While it all seemed a little crazy at the time, I eventually came to realize that the final touch I left on a project was someone else’s first impression, and that goes a long way in building credibility and earning people’s respect.

2. Burn the Midnight Oil

I also learned that to meet a short deadline you sometimes have to sacrifice your short-term schedule. Repairing, painting and cleaning ten houses in a week isn’t easy, but when we had a plan, worked with a purpose and delegated tasks, it all somehow got done. The hours were long (and the summer temperatures in the 90’s), but I learned that sometimes you just have to put your nose to the grindstone and make it happen. There will always be an ebb and flow of high-intensity workloads mixed with a more normal workload, and it turns out, when you’re surrounded by the right cast of characters, a sixteen hour day can actually end up (kind of) fun!

3. Learn from Others’ Experience

Lastly, my dad taught me to make every new task a learning opportunity. Whether he was changing a spark plug, replacing a toilet flap or building a patio, I always got the hands-on tutorial so that I could one day do the job myself. In my current role, there are national events that move from region to region. If I didn’t take insights away from our team in Boston and apply them to Charlotte, I would be doing myself a disservice. I work with people who are smart, creative and driven, and knowing that I can learn something from every one of them makes my job that much more enjoyable. It also ensures that I’m expanding my horizons and constantly developing my business acumen.

I’m sure many people can reflect on their first jobs and remember lessons they have kept in their back pocket throughout the years. I’m especially thankful that my first boss was full of patience and business insight, and also a really great dad.

Do you have any lessons from your first job that stuck with you? Please let me know in the comments below.

*This is a re-posting of a blog originally written for LinkedIn Pulse on 6/12/14