Peak Motivation

  • The secret to staying motivated is to constantly measure progress.
  • Nothing succeeds like success because nothing keeps us motivated more than seeing progress.
  • Winning or accomplishing is never the result of one thing.
  • The Atlanta Braves were the unlikely winners of the World Series but they lost 73 games and won 88 enough to win their division and make the playoffs.
  • But it was a feeling team members say they had about winning it all this year not the actual number of games.
  • It’s a series of many smaller steps in the right direction.
  • Peak motivation comes when success is measured the way doctors take blood pressure readings so you know you are headed in the right direction.

Gambling on You

  • What’s really odd is that people play the lottery expecting to win – they even bet money on it.
  • The odds are always against them.
  • Yet we find it difficult to bet on ourselves where we often expect to lose.
  • Betting on you is more of a sure-thing than buying lottery tickets.
  • The payoff is greater when we expect ourselves to succeed the way we believe we’re going to hit the lottery.
  • And it’s cheaper.
  • If you can believe your odds-against lottery bet every time you buy a ticket, you can believe in yourself every time you need confidence.

Resolving Disputes

  • When I was a professor at USC, I asked my music industry students to listen and compare music from each generation going back to the 1940’s until present and describe what the songs were saying.
  • For example, love songs in the 40’s were different than when rock and roll came along or when hip-hop arrived.
  • Then I asked them to pull the generations together and describe what each generation’s music had in common – many times they were getting to the same thing but in different and refreshed ways.
  • The process of looking for what things have in common helps train us to deal with difficult people.
  • We know the differences – what do we have in common. Keep looking until you find something.
  • Dealing with difficult people has less to do with over emphasizing areas of disagreement which are likely not to change and more to do with things where you can agree.
  • Justice Ginsburg didn’t at all agree with the politics of Justice Scalia and vice versa but that didn’t stop them from being friends where their mutual love of opera paved the way to maintain a warm relationship.


  •  We forget that our car will not run without fuel, we have to eat to stay alive and rest when we get tired.
  • Our positive mental attitude cannot exist without taking a break and refueling with positives not negatives.
  • Time out for a pat on the back, a pep talk, a moment of courage, a good laugh.
  • We are humans not digital devices, algorithms or robots.
  • We run on encouragement, self-care, pride, confidence and conviction.
  • More important than the coffee break is give yourself a break and feed yourself the things that keep the best of you going.

No More Zero Days

  • It’s one thing when someone else darkens your mood and ruins your day and quite another when you let them do it.
  • You are always in control.
  • Walk away, shut them down, seek solace in someone positive.
  • Just about everything that I have accomplished in life, others have doubted.
  • Doubt is out.
  • Get relief from belief.
  • You will likely not be the ones tearing yourself down, but are you allowing others to do it?

Men Cry More Than Women

A recent poll of 2,000 Americans say men cry an average of four times a month and women only three times.

I’m going to save the psychobabble and tell you about a man I admired for exactly that reason.

My high school Spanish teacher was a 40-something physical specimen, assistant football coach – not someone you’d want to tangle with.

EXCEPT, he was the gentlest man who could be moved to tears in front of men and women when touched.

I so admired him for that – living a life where he defined strength as compassion and gentleness as well as physically strong and determined.

One real life example means more than all the surveys in the world when gender is removed from judging humanity based on emotions.


Teamwork begins with the individual.

5 weak individuals do not make a strong team.

In my role as professor, I was asked this week to submit a grad school recommendation letter for one of my students.

The applicant’s intended university asked me to assess whether the candidate was better as a team member or an individual – pretty tricky.  They even used a sliding scale that I was to use to push in one direction or the other.

I pushed it to the middle because my answer was both and so I am writing this morning to remind all of us that teams only succeed when they consist of talented, hardworking, dedicated individuals.

The same as in sports.

There is strength in numbers and when the players are strong, the team is strong.

Breaking the Comfort Zone

I’ve noticed that when I start a new semester all the students in my classes always sit in the same seat that they chose for the very first class.

If it is not available, they will find their original seat the next week when they arrive on time.

But if they tend to always arrive late, they sit in the back.

The front row almost always contains above average students.

  • People look for ways to be safe and feel comfortable instead of changing seats and meeting new people.
  • Sitting in the back makes it harder to be called on (unless the professor knows that and calls on the back rows first).
  • It’s easier to be on your phone and digital devices in the back of the room unless the professor has great vision (I do).

Feeling safe in your comfort zone is a big deal.

Switching things up has its merits, too — you are training the pathways in your brain to take small risks, seek out discovery and meet new people.

Break a routine to discover something or someone new.

To Get Your Way

If there is something you really want, make it second in a list of three options.

Most people don’t like one thing because it is not a choice.

Two is better, three is best.

Put what you would really want them to choose second in the list.

I learned this from the great radio owner Jerry Lee and put it to work selling ads for my publication Inside Radio.

  • The one-year deal was the first option.
  • The two-year deal was the third option (it was less expensive than the one-year ad buy).
  • The second choice was the one I wanted an advertiser to choose – three years at the best rate.

About 40% of the time by my count, the second option (the one I wanted) was chosen.

People are shrewd:  It’s no choice when there is one or two options just the minimum alternatives, but with three it is your best chance to position what you desire in second place.

And by the way, this works at home and for personal things because any choice is a win-win for all parties but the second one is extra special for you.

Save the Best for First

Do you start with your best material or save it for the end?

Daniel Kahneman in Thinking Fast and Slow says start big by creating a halo effect that makes you more effective.

Speakers (and even professors) sometimes hold back the best stuff until the end and that would be a mistake.

But start with it and your chance of being successful will be improve.

Even at home with children – lectures don’t work because they’ve likely tuned you out before you can hit them with your best stuff.

In presentations, imagine blowing the audience away with the best you have instead of running the risk of losing them until the end.

Especially in the quick paced digital world in which we live in, go big from the start.