10 things to do to increase your personal energy.

There is one thing about me that people comment on all the time. It’s not my very subtle good looks. Or my intelligence. Or my sense of humor. It’s not even about my hair.

I get a lot of comments about my energy. In fact, recently, in a 24-hour span, I was asked where my energy comes from, I was told that my energy is even more noticeable in person than on the phone, and that my energy is just what my fellow elevator passenger needed that day.

Last week as the keynote speaker at an energy symposium in Dallas (thanks to David and Molly Sengstock), I gave a talk on how to energize your life. After my talk, the entire audience stuck around for 20 minutes asking more questions. This was despite the fact that my talk ended at 6pm and there was free alcohol and appetizers awaiting them just outside the room.

What makes this energy thing even more exciting to me is that I am in the last 10 days of my 40s. So as I approach my 50th birthday with energy that makes people comment I expect I am doing something worth knowing.

So lately I have been evaluating my personal energy inputs. I have collected a list of 10 things I do that contribute to my energy. But before we get into them it may also be worth noting that I don’t drink coffee or energy drinks. And I have never drunk alcohol. I don’t know the actual effect of the things I don’t do. So the rest of this is focused on things I do do. (I just dropped a do-do…)

10 Ways To Increase Your Personal Energy.

  1. Sleep. I make sleep a priority. I think of sleep like stopping at a gas station to fill your car with gas. Your sleep is doing the same thing for your body. (Except you can’t grab a Slim Jim and a 64-ounce Bladder Buster soda pop in bed.) Every night you should fill your body with as much sleep fuel as you can. Note: I also like to nap. Especially on the weekends. And when talking to boring people.

2. Eating. I make sure to eat 3 good meals a day. I prefer not to snack. But I have snacks around in between meals to keep me going. Together, sleeping and eating provides a great foundation for my energy. But I have also implemented a policy of only eating until just-full. This helps prevent me from feeling sluggish and chunky. I have lost 16 pounds over the past year with this approach. Being less fat is definitely more good for my energy.

3. Exercise. I exercise about 5 days each week. Exercising for energy is a paradox. Because while it is easy to feel like you are too tired to exercise, the exercise itself is energizing and ultimately increases your go. Within the past year, I have added significant exercise resources to my home gym. This includes a treadmill, elliptical trainer, Rogue Monster rack, bench, and about 600 pounds of free weights, and dumbells up to 90 pounds. I found that I had plenty of will to workout, but often lacked the time to get to the gym during normal operations. So the home setup has helped me get my workout on. And all that weight and equipment in my basement should make my house less likely to get sucked up in a tornado.

4. Work I Love. Your work is a major part of your life. Finding work you love adds significantly to your daily energy. When you look forward to going to work, performing the tasks required of your day, and when you are challenged in a healthy and enjoyable way, it fuels you. Rather than dreading work, your work becomes exciting and interesting. You start loving Mondays the way other people love Fridays. Or Applebees on a date night, eating Bourbon Street steak with the Oreo shake.

5. Smiling. The smile is like the pilot light of the human body. When you put a smile on your face, everything seems to catch fire. Your body feels the energy and responds appropriately. The people around you smile back and add their energy to yours. It’s remarkable. And overlooked. I smile a lot. Smiling is my favorite.

6. Goals: I have a lot of goals. Both having goals and making progress toward your goals are energizing. They excite, inspire and encourage you to bring more to every day. My goals keep me busy and focused. I suspect that my goals are one of the greatest sources of energy that I tap into that others don’t. So get yourself some goals that you really, really want. Like a Spice Girl.

7. Surround Yourself With Great People. We feed off the energy of others. I am no different. I love to be around ambitious, energetic, and successful people. I am inspired by the success and undertakings of others. They push me to do and accomplish more. I am always seeking more world-beaters to spend time with. Their appetite for work, accomplishment, and adventure is like positive peer pressure. Which is better than an appetite for destruction, Axl.

8. Time Scarcity: The lack of time I have left to achieve my goals and experience all that I want provides a great source of energy. It creates urgency in each day. That urgency makes me go. I know that time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping, into the future. Which means it is always go-time.

9. Optimism: If nothing else, I am optimistic. I believe that good things are coming. And I can’t wait to greet them. Or make them happen. I believe both me and the world around me will be better tomorrow. That belief is exciting. And energizing. I believe that hard work pays off. I believe I will reach my goals if I just keep working toward them, and I don’t get hit by a bus or a mosquito carrying malaria. I believe that new friends are around every corner. And I believe my friendships are getting better and deeper all the time. Those are great reasons to get out of bed every morning.

10. A Healthy Home Life: I really enjoy my home. I enjoy my relationships with my children Ava, Johann and Magnus. I am blessed with a wife I love talking to and spending time with, even after 23 years of togetherness. A healthy, happy and supportive home life helps feed and reinvigorates you.

Key Takeaway

Tap into your own energy sources. Start with the basics of sleep, food and exercise. Then discover the people, situations and activities that energize you. Set goals you really want to achieve. Work toward them every day. Smile. Believe in yourself, in others, and in the world. Share your energy with others. When you do, it will multiply and come back to you.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

Goal setting allows you to make these 2 valuable evaluations.

Careers are journeys. They have a starting point, a middle, and an end. Which direction you travel, and how far you go are up to you. But setting your career goals is important because it tells you how quickly you need to paddle and which turns to make.

But if you’ve never been in a canoe, think of your career like an airplane flight. That flight starts with an origination and a destination. The interesting thing about commercial flights is that they are off-course for 95% of the flight. This is because of the air highways that pilots follow, weather, traffic, the fact that the runways are not lined up like Evil Knievel ramps, and occasionally because the pilot didn’t ask for directions and took a wrong turn at Albuquerque.

But knowing where you want to end up paints a vision of your ideal carer path and allows for a constant set of adjustments that allow you to reach your destination. And with that in place, you can use it to make the following 2 valuable career decisions.

1. Opportunity Evaluation

Opportunities of all shapes and sizes will come your way. You need to decide which ones are right for you. But how do you know? The career goals tell you if the next opportunity is aligned or misaligned with your goals. It is like choosing rocks to step on as you try to cross a stream.* Does the rock opportunity take you in the right direction? Your path doesn’t need to be a straight line. It just needs to add to your skills, knowledge or experience in a way that will serve you on your journey to your goal. (*If you are not hunting ghosts it’s okay to cross streams.)

2. Pace Evaluation

Your career won’t last forever. This is true of your work career, athletic career, music career or whatever other career you may have in high school, college, or after graduation. Although if you are sentenced to life in prison, that career will last as long as you do.

Because you have a finite amount of time to reach your goals, you need to keep yourself moving and progressing at a minimum pace. Unless you are a monk you can’t sit in any one position too long, or you won’t be able to make it to your goal before the career buzzer sounds.

Size Matters

Don’t set your goals too small or you won’t challenge yourself enough. Don’t let anyone tell you not to set your goals too big. Because big goals help you grow. And even if you don’t reach them, they will push you to go as far as you can. Which is the goal of an aggressive goal. Which is totally meta.

Key Takeaway

Establish your goals. They will keep you moving in the right direction. They will force you to think about your pace and progress. They will force you to think about the skill development work, self-education, and training you will need. And goals provide a scorecard and progress indicator that make your career a fun and interesting game to play.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

Here are the 3 types of opportunities available to you now.

Opportunities are the seeds of success. Just as the acorn becomes an oak, opportunities can transform into happiness, wealth, fulfillment, or success. And like little pigs, musketeers, and Charlie’s Angels, they come in 3 types:

  1. The opportunities that find you.
  2. The opportunities that you find.
  3. The opportunities that you create.

The first kind falls in your lap. The second kind you catch. The third kind you make.

If you wait around for the first type, you may wait forever, like an airline customer service representative.

The second type you need to look for. And you better be ready to compete for it when you find it. Kind of like parade candy. Or the t-shirt shot out of a cannon at a sporting event that isn’t even your size.

The third type will have no competition. Because without you it doesn’t exist. Like your next business, book or baby. This includes connections, creations, innovations and organizations of all types. Basically anything with a tion in it. Because the suffix tion turns a verb into a noun. Just like opportunities empower you to make things with your actions.

Key Takeaway

Keep your eyes open to find opportunities. But more importantly, keep your mind open to create your own. Because those are the most valuable and available variety of all.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

Why the greatest success stories are created by the hour.

Every January we think about the year ahead. We set goals and resolutions and dream about how we are going to be different in 365 days. It’s a beautiful idea. But it doesn’t really work. Because while there is no shortage of goals, dreams or plans, results are harder to find than a squeezable pack of Charmin in 2020.

A major part of the problem is that a year is just too long. It gives you too much time to slack off. Think about the hare from the law firm of Tortoise & Hare. That bunny had too, too, too much time on his hands. In a one-minute race, the rabbit would have dominated. It was the perception that he had plenty of time for a comeback that ruined him.

The Solve

The best way to crush your goals like red pepper is to stop measuring your progress in years. Instead, focus on having great hours.

Start each day with your success list. Then block your activities on your calendar. Those time blocks are your building blocks for success. By stacking several great hours together daily, and doing that day after day, you will build great weeks, months, and years.

It all starts with the hour you are in right now. (Like Van Halen said.) Focus on making this hour great. Then, think about grading your hours every day. If you do what you intended to do with an hour, give it an excellent grade. If you didn’t do the work, workout, reading, rest, socializing, or play that you intended to do, that hour gets a poor grade.

The feedback is immediate. And motivating. Experiencing a bad hour will inspire you to respond with a much better next hour. Which means your comeback is always less than 60 minutes away. (Although L.L. Cool J won’t call it a comeback.)

There are 168 hours in every week. Which translates to a lot of opportunities for progress and happiness. Make them count. And you will turn your entire life into a success story.

Key Takeaway

Shorten your measurable units of success. The power in a great hour is instantly recognizable and controllable. An hour well spent provides a great return on your investment. Which has a compounding effect. Remember, great hours are the building blocks of a great life. And you will start to see the results in just 60 minutes.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

Why you should tap into the great power of unhappiness.

Most people consider me a very happy person. I am lucky that my baseline is happier than most. I see the good in people and in situations. I find silver linings in setbacks. (I can also find a silver lining inside one of my favorite sportcoats.)

I study happiness like Tim McGraw. Because I like it. I love it. And I want more of it.

But I also embrace unhappiness. Because I have discovered that unhappiness in high enough doses leads to greater happiness.

Mild to moderate unhappiness, as they say in drug commercials, is fairly useless. It simply makes you feel bad.

But serious unhappiness is a gift. When you experience a significant level of unhappiness, whether acute or accumulated, it provides motivation for change.

Motivational unhappiness comes in several flavors, including sadness, frustration, anger, and disappointment. (But not dat-appointment.) You can use any of these forces to your benefit.

So when you feel unhappiness, don’t just feel sorry for yourself. Feel it until it fuels you to make a change. Those emotions are there to tell you to change directions. That’s why your response to unhappiness can save any day. And it can change your entire life for the better.

Key Takeaway

Happiness is the ultimate goal. But sometimes the path to happiness runs directly through unhappiness. Because in great enough doses, it provides the motivation you need to move forward. Recognize the gift. And use it to your advantage.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

The greatest teacher of all time doesn’t work at a school.

One of the great mistakes you can make in life is studying things to death. By this, I mean that you read and research the things you want to do. And then you die. Your life is full of studying, thinking and preparing. But never actually doing. This is a big mistake. Huge. Like Julia Roberts said.

Most people think they need to prepare to get started. But they are never prepared enough to go. If you subscribe to this philosophy you will never meet the greatest teacher of all. Because she isn’t in your books. And she isn’t part of the PTA in Harper Valley.

The best teacher in the history of the planet is action. Action provides immediate lessons, feedback and progress. You learn by doing. You do not really learn by not really doing. I think Dr. Doolittle said that.

You learn to play a game by actually playing the game. This was true on the playground. It’s true in board games, video games and head games. (Just ask Lou Gramm.) It is also true in the game of life and in the great game of business.

As an entrepreneur, I learned how to start and run a business by simply jumping in and doing it. I learned more in the first week I launched The Weaponry than I learned from all of the books, magazines and articles I ever read.

I’ve learned how to coach sports by jumping in and doing it, while I was still totally ignorant. (Now I am just 3/4 ignorant.) Each step you take teaches you what you should do next. It’s how Mark Zuckerberg invented Facebook. And why the Winklevosses did not.

Key Takeaway

If you really want to learn how to do something don’t study it. Do it. You will learn more and faster by taking action than you could through any other approach. The more action you take the more you will learn. You are already prepared enough. It’s go-time.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

The best thing to do after you set your goals.

Like a soccer player, I am goal-oriented. I always have been. I set goals in all areas of my life. They challenge me. They motivate me. And they make it easy to track my big-picture progress.

However, I also recognize that my ultimate goals are really lag measures. They are results. Or outcomes. Or accumulated totals. And if all I ever did was focus on my lag measures, I would be unlikely to ever achieve them. Which would be laggravating

The secret to achieving your goals is to focus your attention on the lead measures.

The lead measures are the inputs that are likely to lead you to the results you want.

An Example We Can All Relate To

I have a big birthday coming up in May. So I set a goal of weighing 210 pounds by May 25th. I picked the number because it is what I consider to be my ideal weight, where I feel and look my best. For context, I weighed 215 lbs when I graduated from high school and 211 lbs when I graduated from college. But I have been as heavy as 224 lbs within the last 6 months.

But I don’t obsess over the number 210. And I am not dieting. Instead, I am focusing on the 2 lead measures that impact weight loss:

  1. Calories consumed
  2. Calories burned.

It’s that simple.

I weigh myself first thing every morning. That gives both a progress report and a baseline for the day. I write the number down every day to track progress over time. Because if I can measure it I can manage it. (Which I think was a quote from Stanley, the retractable tape measure guy.)

I eat every day. But I don’t eat beyond the just-full feeling. (Which is better than that not-so-fresh feeling.) This means I am eating what I need. But I’m not taking on excess food or calories. So my lead indicator is ‘Did I eat past just-full? If ‘no’, I have a positive meal experience, and I give myself a tally, Ali. I want to have 3 of those every day.

However, I also track my calorie burning. In fact, to improve my calorie-burning habit I bought cardio equipment for my home gym so that I can burn calories every day that I am home. Each day I track whether I burned calories through deliberate exercise of at least 30 minutes.

By focusing on my lead measures I am taking actions that are leading to predictable weight loss. Today I weigh 214 pounds. And I have 4 months to lose 4 pounds. Which is quite manageable. Or woman-ageable.

But Wait, There’s More!

On my quest for self-improvement and achievement, I track several other lead indicators:

  1. Hours of sleep at night: This is a great indicator of energy, mood, productivity and Zzzs caught.
  2. Books Read Per Month: This is my indicator of increased intelligence. I want to read at least 2 books per month. One of them can’t be a picture book.
  3. Hours spent writing per day. This is a great indicator of how many blog posts I will publish and pages I will write for my next book. If I write for 1-2 hours every day, my progress is steady and good. By doing so I can usually come up with one funny joke per day. (As judged by me, which is totally cheating.)
  4. Hours spent on business development per day. I am the Founder & CEO of the advertising and ideas agency The Weaponry. Which means that I am responsible for growing the business. The most important thing to know about business development is that you have to plant seeds in the spring if you want to harvest in the fall. So I track the time I spend planting. #WWJAD (What Would Johnny Appleseed Do?)
  5. Placing water on my vanity each night: Drinking water is a valuable part of my health plan. It helps with my mood, and alertness, and makes me feel full, which prevents overeating. I track whether or not I set a glass of water next to my sink each night. Because if I do that I drink water first thing in the morning.
  6. Dates with my wife per month. This year I want to have at least one date with my wife every month. It is an important investment in our relationship. You can’t just set the goal of having a happy marriage. You have to spend quality time together, talk, and focus on each other regularly to achieve the goal.
  7. Speaking events per month: Since publishing my book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? I have had a lot of speaking opportunities. These enable me to share more positivity, inspiration and valuable life lessons with the world. I can track my positive influence on others, in part, through the number of talks I give.

Key Takeaway

Set measurable goals. Then determine which lead indicators you can measure to track your effort toward achieving your goals. Your lead indicators are great predictors of success. Focus on the lead measures and they will lead you where you want to go.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

If you want to be an entrepreneur the great limiter is you.

I thought about becoming an entrepreneur for a long time before I summoned my inner David Lee Roth and actually jumped. In fact, I thought about starting a business for nearly 2 decades before I launched the advertising and idea agency The Weaponry. Which means that, unlike Geddy Lee, I didn’t rush into anything.

Once I had my entrepreneurial awakening in the summer of 2015 I began generating income within just a few months. I officially legalized The Weaponry as an LLC (yeah, you know me) in the spring of 2016. And while I have physically looked back since then, I have had no regrets.

Over the past 7 years, I have learned a lifetime’s worth of lessons about entrepreneurship. (Starting with how to spell the word itself.) But the most important thing to know about entrepreneurship is this:

The entrepreneur is the great limiter of the business.

10 Ways Entrepreneurs Limit Their Business

  1. You will be limited by your energy and ability to work hard.

2. You will be limited by your network and willingness to reach out and connect.

3. You will be limited by your ability to recruit and hire. (Think about it. There must be hire love.)

4. You will be limited by your willingness to create standardized processes.

5. You will be limited by your ability to give up control to others.

6. You will be limited by the size and scope of your vision.

7. You will be limited by your ability to control your greed and keep your hands off the cash flow, Gordon Gekko.

8. You will be limited by your ability to grow sales to scale your operation into a more effective and efficient machine.

9. You will be limited by your creativity and willingness to innovate

10. You will be limited by your risk tolerance. If you are not willing to walk the tightrope to the promised land you will never get there.

Perhaps most importantly, there is no one else to blame if you don’t become an entrepreneur at all. And if you are an entrepreneur, there is no one else that will prevent you from growing your business’s annual revenue to $100,0000, $1,000,000, $100,000,000, or $1,000,000,000 per year. That’s on you.

As the entrepreneur, you are both the gas pedal and the brake. Most people are afraid to take their foot off the brake, and as a result, never get going. Which means they never see where their journey could have taken them. Don’t let that be you.

Key Takeaway

Find your entrepreneurial gas pedal. Get going. Keep going. Then go faster. It will be your willingness to go, grow, create, and accelerate that will determine how far your journey takes you. We all have a limited amount of time. So go while you can. Realize that you are the determining factor. So be determined to be more.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

The best way to have a great year is to tighten your tolerances.

Yesterday morning, at 6 am, my alarm went off, just like it does every weekday. But yesterday the alarm woke me up in the middle of a dream. Which is rude. Because dream sleep, or REM sleep, is the hardest to wake up from. In fact, it is so deep that in REM sleep not even Wham wants you to wake them up before you go go.

As a result of my alarm going off during my body’s no-wake zone, I didn’t spring out of bed immediately, like I usually do. I lay in bed thinking ‘Dude, it’s time to get up.’

I was disappointed with myself for how long I was laying in bed. And I really dislike disappointing myself. I pride myself on being a morning person. The whole, laying-in-bed all morning thing was messing with my self-construct. And I don’t like anyone messing with my self-construct. Especially me.

Finally, I put a smile on my face (which is my daily habit #1) and I motivated myself enough to crawl out of bed.

I grabbed my pillows to make my side of the bed. (Which is daily habit #2.)

As I grabbed the pillows I reluctantly glanced down at the clock on my nightstand the way you might look at the bathroom scale the morning after you skipped a workout and replaced it with a Brontosaurus burger with a side of large fries covered in gravy and cheese, and washed it all down with a cake shake.

Even though I thought I was prepared for the worst, when my eyes finally found the digital numbers displayed on my alarm clock I was stunned.

It was 6:01 am.

Key Takeaway

Raise your standards. Create great discipline and high expectations. By shrinking your tolerances you will experience greater results. And you will live closer and closer to your ideal life. This is one of the best things you can do for yourself in the new year. Because your standards and tolerances drive your self-improvement efforts. And they will ensure you are a better person a year from now than you are today. Which is the greatest gift you can give yourself.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

Why it is so important for your dreams to survive the pre-boil stage.

Success always sounds easier than it really is. You set a goal. You work hard. And you accomplish it, right? It’s all so so logical, and linear.

But the logic overlooks the most overlooked stage of success. The pre-boil. You remember. It’s the lesson we learned in science class. And it’s a lesson we’re reminded of every time we watch a pot. Because that mofo never boils.

When you boil water there are 5 stages to the process:

  1. You fill a pot with water.
  2. You place the pot on the stove.
  3. You turn on the burner
  4. The burner heats the water.
  5. The water boils.

4 out of the 5 stages of the process last only a matter of seconds. Like an Instagram story. But one of the stages takes much longer.

Stage 4: The Pre-Boil.

The Pre-Boil is the part of the process when you put in the necessary work to get the result. But you are not yet getting the result you are after.

You have to go through the pre-boil phase:

  • When you exercise.
  • When you want to lose weight.
  • When you want to establish a successful career.
  • When you want to be an influencer.
  • When you start your own business.
  • When you are a student.
  • When you write a book.
  • When you want to make a tasty lobster dinner.
  • And when you want to build Rome. (Because everyone knows that is not a one-day job.)

The Most Common Cause Of Failure

Most attempts fail because they don’t survive the pre-boil. Because during this stage the effort you put in is far greater than the results you get out.

However, during the pre-boil, your effort, work, dedication, and sacrifice are accumulating. Just like the heat that is accumulating in that pot of water on the stove.

The pre-boil is the price of entry. It is the initiation to the club. It is the test to see if you really want what you think you want. If you really want that dream to come true you must keep marching through the pre-boil. It is the only way to get to your goal.

Key Takeaway

All great accomplishments require sustained effort. The energy you exert is added to your account. But you won’t see the results right away. Know that. Accept that. And keep going. Success is a test. The universe holds back the reward to sweeten it. Which makes it worth both the work and the wait.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.