What It Means to Be Rich (A tribute to Uncle Eddie)

May 16, 2011

This weekend I attended the funeral of my uncle, Edward Minicozzi. But before I tell you that story, let me first tell you this story.

I remember really liking Uncle Eddie ever since I was little, but I’d always been a little intimidated by him. He seemed larger than life. My uncle and aunt had a very nice house with lots of nice stuff; to be blunt they were the wealthiest people in our extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins. They weren’t uber-rich by any scale, and my parents certainly weren’t poor, but the difference was enough that a child would notice.

As I grew older, I started to understand why he was so successful: He worked hard and he treated people well. If that’s not a formula for success, I don’t know what is. And this weekend, I got to see just how successful he really was.

My personal experience with my uncle was that he was generous—I only asked him for a few favors over the years and he’d say yes without hesitation—but until arriving at his wake yesterday, I had NO IDEA just how generous he was.

The line of people waiting to enter the funeral home stretched around the corner and down the street. Half a dozen fire stations sent trucks to hang a huge American flag from their ladders in his honor. There were five viewings over three days, and each was just as crowded as the previous one. It’s estimated that 2000 people showed up to pay their respects and say goodbye. (2000 people is the size of the student body at the college I went to.) And everyone I talked to or overheard talking about him had some story of generosity or kindness to share.

That’s when I realized what it means to be truly rich, truly wealthy.

To put it simply, I’m inspired. His obituary is amazing. The list of groups and causes that he gave time, energy, money, and heart to reads like a directory of charitable organizations. He did not keep this part of his life a secret, but he didn’t brag about it either. He acted in generous ways because that’s who he was, and those who were paying attention learned valuable lessons in contribution (as his three sons can attest). I wish I’d paid more attention.

My experience this weekend has made me take a good look at what I have to give and how I can give more, how I can be more like this amazing man. The priest at the funeral mass said that maybe he seemed larger than life to some of us because our view of life is too small. Uncle Eddie saw a much bigger version of life, full of possibility.

I share this for those of you who would like to be inspired to see life full of possibility, to be inspired to play a bigger game, to be inspired to become as “rich” as my Uncle Eddie.

Here’s his online obituary:
http://oysterbayfuneralhome.com/online-obituary/80814

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A Turn On to Life! theme song?

January 24, 2011

I’ve always wanted a theme song like those 80s TV shows had. You know, Magnum PI, Fall Guy, Hardcastle & McCormick, and of course, The Greatest American Hero.

Well, here’s a submission left on my voicemail by an enthusiastic client. Tell me what you think… (Warning: Contains some profanity.)


The End of Time Management

April 14, 2009

Discover why your biggest “time management” challenge is not time, and find out what you can do to increase your productivity and effectiveness in any area of your life.

Part 1:

Part 2:


Hope & Fear (5/5): Shape Your Child’s Future

November 19, 2008

No matter what you think you can DO for your kids or GIVE to your kids, the best thing for them (for anyone in your life) is for you to be peaceful and happy and have a passion for what you do. This may sound like a paradox, and that’s good. There’s lots of wisdom in paradoxes. The reason you experience something as a paradox is because it challenges your old way of seeing things. It’s a sign to look deeper — there’s probably something for you to learn.

Let me confess that I am not a parent. So you might be wondering how in the world am I qualified to tell a parent what’s best for their kids? First, I was a child of two parents, one who was happy and peaceful and loved what she did, and the other who wasn’t.

Guess who I felt loved me more? Guess who I felt safe to be myself around? Guess who encouraged me to try new things? Guess who I have a closer relationship with today?

Guess who criticized me? Guess who discouraged me from pursuing interests he didn’t understand? Guess who I was afraid of? Guess who I hardly speak to today?

It’s obvious, isn’t it? My life was served best by the parent who was peaceful and happy and loved what she did. Now understand, both of my parents loved me. I know that. Yet my relationship with each of them is like night and day. Because love gets distorted by stress and unhappiness.

I see it in other parents, too. And this is the second reason I’m qualified to speak on this subject. I’m an informal student of parenting. I love to observe how parents relate to their children.

I see the parents who are stressed and don’t like what they do snap at their kids over the smallest things. They hurry them impatiently from here to there. In that state, they literally cannot see the wonder and beauty of their children. I see parents who are peaceful and love what they do take time to listen to their kids, to understand what’s important to them, and even — can you believe it? — LEARN from their children.

That’s why it’s so important for YOU to be peaceful and passionate.

Parenting in Uncertain Times

Besides the relationship you create, there’s another reason why you being peaceful and passionate is so healthy for your children. You will teach them (by example) how to be peaceful and passionate themselves.

They will learn that their happiness is not controlled by what’s going on in the world. They will learn that they can choose their state of being regardless of circumstances. They will learn that peace comes from the inside, it’s a choice. And they will learn that productivity — choosing what’s important to them and then making progress in that area — is within their control, too.

They will be empowered to face whatever future they encounter. What better gift can you give your child?

Focus on You

If you need to use your children’s future as an excuse to be good to yourself, that’s totally cool with me. 🙂

Cultivate your inner peace. If it means your child spends an extra half an hour in daycare, or with a family member, or watching Sesame Street, take some time each day for yourself. And increase your productivity. Now that doesn’t mean doing more of what you don’t want to do. That would be self-defeating.

Productivity means making progress on the things that are most important to you. Sometimes that requires some big changes (like a career change) that may take time to implement. Those are changes worth making, but you can also focus on some shorter-term changes that you can feel right away.

Focus on the areas of your life where you can make some changes quickly. Most parents give so much of themselves away to others that’s it’s relatively easy to find something you can take back for yourself. Resign from the PTA or the board of some community organization, or cut your volunteer work in half. Yes, those things are important. But your happiness is more important. Your health is more important. Use that time instead for joyful and revitalizing activities like hobbies or exercise.

(If your life is so maxed out that you can’t find anything to cut back on, then your path is to cultivate peace in WHATEVER you do. Surrender to fact that this is the way life is right now. And when you surrender, that’s when you’re more likely to see opportunities to change your life circumstances — another paradox!)

There’s a reason they instruct you on airplanes to put your oxygen mask on first before you help your child with theirs. Self-care is a prerequisite for caring for others.

Learn more about creating greater passion and peace of mind in this week’s free teleseminar called “Productivity & Peace of Mind — You Don’t Have to Sacrifice One for the Other.”

In addition to being a feel-good hour of self-care, you’ll learn:

  • The 3 steps to increase your productivity
  • The 3 steps to greater peace of mind
  • The 2 paths to Peaceful Productivity
  • And lots more…

The choices you make in your own life play a huge part in shaping your child’s future. Help them prepare for the challenges of life by being the happiest and most peaceful person they know. It’s the best thing for them…and what do you know, it’s good for you too!

Find out more about this free teleseminar, and sign up today:

http://www.PeacefulProductivityNow.com

©2008 Curtis G. Schmitt

This is the fifth in a daily series of five posts on how to respond to this mixture of hope and fear in the world today. Here’s the full list:

  1. Commit to Change
  2. Keep Your Job and Prosper (for busy professionals)
  3. Grow Your Business in a Bad Economy (for entrepreneurs)
  4. Avoid Layoffs and Down-sizing (for business owners & executives)
  5. Shape Your Child’s Future (for working parents)

Hope & Fear (4/5): Avoid Layoffs & Down-sizing

November 18, 2008

As a business owner or top executive, your priority is the survival and growth of your business. Sometimes you have to make tough choices. In a bad economy those choices may include scaling your business back. Of course, things like layoffs and down-sizing are not your first choice. You’ll make that choice if it’s your only option. But you’d prefer to GROW your way out of tough times, right?

My intention today is to give you some tools to help you avoid layoffs and down-sizing in a bad economy. I can’t PROMISE these tools will work — the choices you’ve made up to this point play a big part in what’s possible for your business. But these tools give you the best chance. It’s like this: if you’re lost in the woods at night, having a flashlight and compass doesn’t guarantee you’ll find your way out. But without them, you’re doomed!

Assess the Situation

Anthony Robbins says it best: See the situation AS it is, not WORSE than it is. But to do that, you need to have a clear perspective. Your vision can’t be clouded by stress and worry. In other words, you must be peaceful.

I’m sure you’ve had the experience where someone close to you was very worried about something, to the point where they were reacting foolishly in ways that only made the situation worse. But you were calm, so you could see quite clearly what the best, rational course of action was. That’s the power of a clear perspective.

In your business, you need to be passionate enough to inspire and innovate, yet detached enough to make all of the rational, clear-headed decisions that make your business successful. Too much passion and you lose that clear-headed perspective. Too much detachment and you stop inspiring and innovating. Inner peace is the bridge between those two worlds. Both clarity of perspective and creative inspiration arise from a state of inner peace.

The human mind is almost magical in what it can do. But when the mind is filled with worry or stress, it can’t function to its full capacity. When the mind is peaceful, that’s when the magic happens. When the mind is peaceful, that’s when the million dollar idea suddenly POPS into your consciousness. When the mind is peaceful, that’s when you suddenly have the perfect solution to your most intractable problem.

So how do you keep a peaceful mind in a bad economy? Separate the FACTS of the situation from your INTERPRETATION of the situation.

Normally, we see THROUGH the lens of our interpretation. It distorts things just like a funhouse mirror, making us think the facts are something they’re not. But when you acknowledge there is this lens of interpretation, you can recognize the distortion in what you’re looking at. And you can get at the actual facts, the actual information you need to make effective and powerful choices.

Assessing the situation means creating a clearer perspective by becoming more peaceful. When it comes to a strategy of action, we want to revisit earlier lessons in this email series and expand on them.

Team Productivity Saves Jobs

Parts 2 and 3 of this series went into detail on how to increase your productivity and use that as a strategy to grow your business. For employers, there’s an added layer. Instead of just focusing on your own productivity, you get to be a leader and increase the productivity of all of your employees.

Whole books have been written on this subject, so the best advice I can give in this limited space is that you lead by example and enroll your team. Increase your own productivity, and do so openly. Make it public. Encourage your managers and their staffs to do the same. Grow as a team. Then enroll everyone in increasing the productivity of the company as a whole. Set team goals and communicate why those team goals are important to each individual employee.

If there are 10 people in your business, for example, let them know that if everyone increased their productivity by 10%, that would save one person from getting laid off. Show them the connection between the success of the individual and the success of the company.

Peaceful Productivity for Teams

Even if you kept all of this a secret, practicing Peaceful Productivity will transform your life and your business. But when you lead others and train them to be more peaceful and productive, a powerful synergy happens. In a group, people learn at an exponential rate. Everyone benefits from each other’s insights and growth, not just their own. It’s like a chain reaction in an atomic bomb that explodes the growth of your business.

As a leader, you can create that experience in your company.

Be a leader today and sign up for this week’s free teleseminar called “Productivity & Peace of Mind — You Don’t Have to Sacrifice One for the Other.” You’ll learn:

  • The 3 steps to increase your productivity
  • The 3 steps to greater peace of mind
  • The 2 paths to Peaceful Productivity
  • And lots more…

And just think, if you can train your team to grow your business in a bad economy, what might be possible in a good economy? Pretty exciting thought, right?

Learn more about this free teleseminar, and sign up today:

http://www.PeacefulProductivityNow.com

©2008 Curtis G. Schmitt

This is the fourth in a daily series of five posts on how to respond to this mixture of hope and fear in the world today. Here’s the full list:

  1. Commit to Change
  2. Keep Your Job and Prosper (for busy professionals)
  3. Grow Your Business in a Bad Economy (for entrepreneurs)
  4. Avoid Layoffs and Down-sizing (for business owners & executives)
  5. Shape Your Child’s Future (for working parents)

Hope & Fear (3/5): Grow Your Business in a Bad Economy

November 17, 2008

One of the silver linings to a bad economy is that it forces us to grow as entrepreneurs. Innovation is what drives business growth. In other words, doing something BETTER adds value to people’s lives, and that’s what gets them to open their wallets and buy from you.

In good times, we all get a little lazy. Why innovate when we don’t have to, right? But as they say, necessity is the mother of invention. And when the survival of your business is at stake, that’s some damn good necessity!

When innovating, remember that there are two perspectives. On one side of the table is the seller. On the other side of the table is the customer. Let’s first look at the “bad economy” situation from your customers’ side of the table…

Provide the Most Valuable Solutions

Your customers are not interested in your products or services. They ARE interested in solutions to their problems. So your job is to solve the problems of your target market. And no matter what those problems are, a struggling economy will tend to make them worse. So the solutions you provide are needed even more. But, there are many others who provide similar solutions, so you need a way to stand out.

In my opinion, the best way to stand out from your competition is to do things BETTER than they do. In other words, create more value for your target market than your competitors do. To create the most value for your customers, you need to maximize your productivity. In other words, they will choose you if you produce solutions to their problems more effectively than anyone else.

Now let’s look at the situation from your side of the table…

Focus on Your Customer’s Problems, Not Your Own

In a good economy, a business can hang up their shingle, and as long as you provide a decent product or service, customers will buy from you. In a bad economy, people tighten their belts and don’t spend so easily. As I’ve already pointed out, they may still need your product or service (maybe even more so), but they are afraid to buy it.

So your job is to communicate better. And communication includes two parts: listening and speaking. Start by becoming a better listener. Listen to what your customers’ fears are, listen to what they really want, and listen to how they want it.

Now let me ask you a question: How well do you listen when YOU’RE stressed or fearful? Not very well, right? The more peaceful you are, the better you’ll be able to listen to your customers and really HEAR how they need you. And once you know that, then you can educate them on how perfectly suited your product or service is to solve their problems.

To summarize how to grow your business in a bad economy:

  1. Increase your productivity so you can create even more valuable products and services for your target market
  2. Cultivate your inner peace and confidence so you can listen better to your market and hear what their fears and problems are
  3. Educate your market on how YOU are perfectly suited to solve their problems

The entrepreneurs who thrive in a bad economy are the ones who respond most quickly to the needs of their market. This ability to respond (your response-ability) is magnified tremendously by the practice of Peaceful Productivity.

Productivity is a learnable skill. Peace of mind is a learnable skill. Do the response-able thing for your business, and sign up for this week’s free teleseminar called “Productivity & Peace of Mind — You Don’t Have to Sacrifice One for the Other.” You’ll learn:

  • The 3 steps to increase your productivity
  • The 3 steps to greater peace of mind
  • The 2 paths to Peaceful Productivity
  • And lots more…

Keep in mind, the businesses that thrive in a bad economy will likely become the leaders in their industry when the economy gets booming again. This is an awesome opportunity to really grow as an entrepreneur!

Learn more about this free teleseminar, and sign up today:

http://www.PeacefulProductivityNow.com

©2008 Curtis G. Schmitt

This is the third in a daily series of five posts on how to respond to this mixture of hope and fear in the world today. Here’s the full list:

  1. Commit to Change
  2. Keep Your Job and Prosper (for busy professionals)
  3. Grow Your Business in a Bad Economy (for entrepreneurs)
  4. Avoid Layoffs and Down-sizing (for business owners & executives)
  5. Shape Your Child’s Future (for working parents)

Hope & Fear (2/5): Keep Your Job & Prosper

November 16, 2008

Life has always been potentially stressful for the busy professional — juggling a career, family, personal relationships, health, hobbies (“yeah right!”). But this uncertain economy adds a brand new wrinkle. You might be worried about job. So let’s break this down into what’s within your control and what isn’t.

The fate of the company you work for is in the hands of the decision-makers at the top executive level. They are the ones who made the choices in the past and will make the choices in the future that determine whether or not the company survives this economy. What they choose to do — whether they layoff employees or cut bonuses or scale back work hours or close the branch you work for — is not within your control. So stop focusing on what they may or may not do. Focus instead on what’s in your control.

So what IS in your control? Just two things: What you choose to do and how you choose to feel about it. Let’s take them one by one…

What You Choose to Do

There are two parts to “what you choose to do”: what you focus on doing, and how well you do it. And the name for how you measure your success at these two things is productivity. In other words, your productivity is within your control. And to maximize your productivity, you want to focus on the most important things first and then do them as efficiently as possible.

Time for a reality check: Are you as productive in your job as you could be? Be honest…

So how much more productive could you be? To answer that question, try this: Think of a specific time when you were being your most productive. Call this your “kick butt” level of productivity, and give it a number from 1 to 10.

Now think about your “average” level of productivity. Those normal days where you maybe surf the internet a little, or chat with co-workers, or get sucked into meetings that go on longer than necessary, or get distracted by less important tasks, or just simply procrastinate. Give that a number from 1 to 10.

Compare that “average” level of productivity with that “kick butt” level of productivity. How far does it fall short?

In that distance between those two levels of productivity lives your opportunity to keep your job and prosper.

Most people perform so far below their peak level of productivity that in just weeks they can double or even triple their output. How much more valuable would you be to your employer if you doubled or tripled your output? In bad economic times, the demand for productive employees becomes even higher than usual. And as demand increases, price increases. So it’s even possible to get a raise in this economy if you increase your productivity.

And if layoffs do happen, the LEAST productive employees go first, right?

How You Choose to Feel

How productive are you when you’re worried? You may be busy when you’re worried and think you’re productive, buy how much important stuff do you really get done, and what’s the quality? Not a lot and very low. How productive are you when you’re happy and peaceful? When you’re happy and peaceful, there’s something called FLOW, where productivity seems almost effortless. Some call it “being in the zone.”

Whether you’re happy or worried, stressed or peaceful, you are CHOOSING to feel that way. And you can choose to create feelings of peace and happiness, even in an economy like this one. So in good times, your productivity sky-rockets from that state of peace and flow. And in bad times, you don’t let worry or stress cloud your decision-making or decrease your productivity.

When you’re peaceful and productive, you’ll have a calming effect on your co-workers and your employer. You’ll be part of the solution, not part of the problem. You’ll be one of the most valuable, level-headed members of the team. And even if you were to get laid off from your job, you’ll make better decisions about what to do next if you are peaceful inside.

Increase Your Productivity & Peace of Mind

Productivity is a learnable skill. Peace of mind is a learnable skill. When times are good, you can get by in your job pretty well without being very skilled at either. But when times are challenging, the employees who prosper are the ones WITH those skills. The employees who get hit hardest during times of uncertainty are the ones who are less skilled at productivity and peace of mind.

To make sure that you’re as valuable as you can be to your employer, and you’re able to prosper in these uncertain times no matter what happens, sign up for this week’s free teleseminar called “Productivity & Peace of Mind — You Don’t Have to Sacrifice One for the Other.” You’ll learn:

  • The 3 steps to increase your productivity
  • The 3 steps to greater peace of mind
  • The 2 paths to Peaceful Productivity
  • And lots more…

Focus on what you CAN control and you’ll give yourself the best chance for success and happiness. Learn more and sign up today:

http://www.PeacefulProductivityNow.com

©2008 Curtis G. Schmitt

This is the second in a daily series of five posts on how to respond to this mixture of hope and fear in the world today. Here’s the full list:

  1. Commit to Change
  2. Keep Your Job and Prosper (for busy professionals)
  3. Grow Your Business in a Bad Economy (for entrepreneurs)
  4. Avoid Layoffs and Down-sizing (for business owners & executives)
  5. Shape Your Child’s Future (for working parents)