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Jurriaan Kamp, the pioneer in the Solutions Journalism movement shared his thoughts about optimism as a “verb” with the audience of the Good Leadership Breakfast Series last Friday.

Here’s how a world-class optimist thinks: “We simply don’t have enough problems in the world for all of the solutions we can create,” said Jurriaan Kamp, the speaker at the Good Leadership Breakfast last Friday. Jurriaan was in town at my invitation to share his thoughts about why optimism is so important to goodness and good leadership.  Here’s some of what else he had to say:

“We know today that what we eat has a lot to do with our health. Most everyone knows that it’s not good to live on McDonald’s [junk food] alone,” he framed the point. “And now, we are discovering the same thing about what we put into our ears and eyes, and how that affects our health.”  Jurriaan shared how the 24/7 news cycle, invented by CNN, dramatically increased the assault of traumatic news on people with the Gulf War. Before CNN, when bombs went off in a war the event only happened once on the morning or evening news and people could move past the trauma. After CNN, the bombs keep going off every hour for days, until something else as dramatic comes along to take its place.

Jurriaan Kamp shared his thoughts about Li-Fi and Seaweed as optimistic solutions to problems we all face.

How does negative news affect leaders?

The consumption of  negative news has substantial affects on our blood pressure, heart rate, and nervous systems. Jurriaan cited modern studies show that it takes an equal amount of good news or mind-clearing meditation to normalize after consuming negative news. That means if you absorb 15 minutes of news like the school shooting in Florida last week, you need another 15 minutes of positivity to recover. “Good leadership is about finding ways to not only care for others, but to care for oneself first,” he observed. “And these days, the best way may be to simply ignore the news altogether. You won’t find any new solutions to your business problems by consuming recycled, negative news in the mainstream media. That’s likely doing you more harm than good.”

More than 220 guests shared the kick-off of the 2018 season – our 65th meeting since 2010.

Optimism as a verb

Jurriaan was quick to point out that optimism was not artificial happiness, naiveté or a blind Pollyanna point of view. “Optimism is a verb – meaning that you are actively looking for a positive solution in every problem. And that’s what good leadership is all about,” he exclaimed.

It’s the optimism is a verb concept that triggered his shift from conventional, problem-seeking journalism to becoming a global thought-leader on what’s now called “Solutions Journalism.” His original publication, Ode Magazine for Intelligent Optimists, evolved into an online news source today called The Optimist Daily. I highly encourage you to register here.

Jurriaan Kamp signed my original copy of Ode Magazine from December 2011 – where I was inspired to spread the Goodness message.

For me, having a Jurriaan Kamp as our speaker represented a whole new level of confidence and impact for the Goodness movement. When I reached out with an invitation, I gave the request a less than 10% chance of success – he’s an international personality…why would he come to Minneapolis in February?

But then again, why not? “I was drawn to how you’ve articulated a very important subject in ‘goodness,’ and I’m really impressed with the caliber of people you’ve gathered to spread goodness,” he shared with me before parting on Saturday. Which has me thinking…by thinking of optimism as a verb…who else might say “yes!” to my invitation?

Good leaders understand we need to feed our mind and soul with positivity to overcome the traumatic affects of dark noise. And we are actively seeking out positive solutions in every problem.

Watch a two-minute summary of the February 16, 2018, Good Leadership Breakfast featuring Jurriaan Kamp.

Please share with me: How are you feeding your optimism?

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Expected in February – the Goodness Pays Leadership Podcast, featuring speakers from the Good Leadership Breakfast Series.

Over the past four weeks, our team has been experimenting with producing The Goodness Pays Leadership Podcast. What experimenting really means is a whole lot of trial and error, raw emotions, and nervous energy. In my role as the thought leader for Good Leadership Enterprises, I spend a great deal of time creating, designing, editing, and sharpening things into simplicity. Well, the podcast trial and error has been anything but simple. It’s messy, and it makes me nervous. Excited, and nervous!!

Emotions are a great teacher

So, the coach in me asks: You say “messy” makes you nervous…What’s that all about?”  It wasn’t until we made the decision to be in the podcasting business that I began to understand the power of podcasting. Good podcasts are intriguing, insightful, inspiring, and sometimes a little raw with authenticity. Once I started to study podcasts I wanted to produce all of that. That’s when I started getting nervous!  Two things surfaced as the source:

Our first live podcast will be recorded this Friday, when Jurriann Kamp will speak about optimistic solutions to important global problems.

1.  The pressure to honor the voice of our guests. The Goodness Pays Leadership Podcast is not a podcast of the Good Leadership Breakfast. It’s a podcast of the speakers from the breakfast. So, we are adding words to their wisdom. And since their speeches are a multi-sensory experience – it’s a difficult art-form to re-create their magic in just one of the senses: sound. Which leads me to the second thing that makes me nervous:

2.  Technology.

Lowest common denominator

At the recommendation of an expert, we paid really good money for a top-of-the-line microphone. Which of course didn’t work for us. Who knew it would only work correctly inside a top-of-the-line audio studio. We don’t have a top-of-the-line studio, we just have the Aspiration Suite. So after hours and hours of disappointing tests, we abandoned the fancy mic for a cheap one. Shazam – the cheap one works great!  The cost isn’t the issue. The most expensive part was all of the negative emotional energy that was burned up by five people trying to figure out why the #%&$ mic was making us sound distant and echo-y!!!  Our confidence is growing now with experience and cheap mics. Go figure.

It takes a great team

Kelsey Meyer Schalkle is my co-host on our podcast series.

What fills me with confidence is the amazing team we’ve assembled. It’s been fun to see and feel us go through the classic learning curve for a team: Forming, storming, norming, performing. Tasha is learning to be producer. Katie is learning to translate her video editing skills into audio editing. Chloe is learning to be a podcast coach, producer, writer, and co-host. Kelsey is learning to be a podcast co-host. And she’s learning how to handle the anxious energy of her co-host – nervous Paul Batz.

Coming soon

Our most recent audio studio includes two cheaper mics that have improved our sound quality. Just another part of the Goodness Pays Leadership Podcast learning curve.

After last Friday’s recording session, we have four episodes “in the can.”  The fifth episode will be recorded this Friday, April 16, immediately after the Good Leadership Breakfast. It will feature our international speaker Jurriaan Kamp. The little voice inside my head says, “Nervous is good!” We’re all re-learning that nothing significant every happens alone. And if we weren’t a little nervous…we wouldn’t care.

Good leaders embrace the messiness of trying something knew, especially when it makes them nervous. And they hang in there with their team, when they believe the work is really important.

Please share with me: What experiments in your life are making you nervous?

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This beautiful tree image is the symbolism that frames Richard Leider’s message about purpose. And it’s a symbol for growth.

One year ago, Richard Leider was the kick-off speaker at the 2017 Good Leadership Breakfast Series. He was the first internationally-accomplished speaker, being known as the world’s foremost authority on the power of purpose in life and leadership. By saying “yes!” to our invitation, he encouraged us to reach higher and farther for speakers to help amplify and spread the Goodness Pays message.

The core of his message was that purpose helps with all aspects of life and leadership. And, for those of us who don’t know our purpose yet he offered this as the place to start: to grow and give, everyday. At that very instant, I recalled how I discovered my purpose.

Connecting to goodness

I kept this copy of Ode magazine I received as a gift from one of my kids. It changed my life.

In 2011, one of my kids in college gave me a copy of Ode magazine with the headline: Giving is Good. It was an essential part of a class on world societies. While reading that issue, I vividly recall making the commitment to my purpose: to spread goodness through leaders. From that day on, I was determined to meet the founder and editor of the publication, Jurriaan Kamp.

Jurriaan is the kick-off speaker for the 2018 Good Leadership Breakfast Series next Friday, February 16. We’re sold out, so this message isn’t intended to lure you into buying a ticket.

My goal is to embolden you to think deeply about your purpose, and what that purpose has to do with spreading goodness.  Here’s how Jurriaan and his magazine – today called The Intelligent Optimist – did that for me.

Jurriaan Kamp, The Intelligent Optimist

The subheading for the December 2011, Volume 8, Issue 6 said: How giving improves health, spreads wealth, strengthens social bonds – and, best of all, it’s contagious. Somehow, I mistakenly (subconsciously) inserted the word “goodness” where “giving” was in that sentence and SHAZAM. I found my purpose.

Jurriaan Kamp

It was only four years later, that I realized my reading mistake. Perhaps it was optimism that caused me to mistake “goodness” for “giving.” But who cares?  I was inspired by these articles that surfaced my purpose:

●   Reflections on a generous life

●   The flip side of “getting”

●   The art of intangible gifts

Each was meticulously researched and expertly sourced, and I was hooked.  So, next Friday, we are hosting our second internationally-acclaimed speaker. Jurriaan Kamp is one of the founders of the Solutions Journalism movement, and his claim-to-fame includes introducing Deepak Chopra to the world, long before Oprah.

Hard to say ‘no’

I’m deeply sorry that we cannot accommodate more guests at this breakfast. Our season ticket sales have nearly doubled year-over-year, and we’ve turned away far too many ticket requests. I guess these are good growing pains.

Good leaders measure their growth by the satisfaction they feel in serving their purpose. And they reach higher and farther as their confidence grows.

Please share with me: How have you grown over the past year?

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The question for today is: How does goodness “pay?”

The debate about the value of “soft” and “hard” business results isn’t new. But it’s taking on a new meaning for our writing team as we negotiate with skeptics on the value of goodness in business. I’m grateful for the discerning questioning from my writing partner, Paul Hillen. He’s a professionally-trained skeptic, who learned a “prove it with data” orientation from a marketing mentor at P&G. That perspective served him well at Cargill, and now at Platinum Equity Partners. Here’s how we are working together to make a “soft” concept cut through the skeptical firewalls:

Normally, things like employee engagement, community involvement, industry reputation and product/service quality are considered important by most leaders but also “soft.” Because Investors, bankers and business owners really only respect bottom-line performance and positive financial results – the things that are considered “hard.”

Sustainability is a benefit of goodness

The argument starts when we discuss what role the “soft” things have in creating those “hard” results. Which comes first, positive financials, or things like goodness? Hillen is helping me see how to create measurements for the “soft” stuff that really makes a difference financially.

This book bag rarely leaves my side these days. I’m in LA this week, using every spare minute I can to advance the Goodness Pays book.

A lot of people are stepping forward to voice their opinions about this subject. Lynn Casey, CEO of Padilla, and twice a past speaker at the Good Leadership Breakfast, was one of 15 highly acclaimed leaders lending their insights to this project. In her book interview, Lynn said it this way, “Many leaders can create a short-term frenzy of activity that will produce a profit,” she observed. “But, the goodness test is whether or not anyone will want to come back to work with that leader when they have to produce those results again.”

The payoff

So, the real test of goodness is: when it’s time to start a new project, launch a new product, or create a new company…will the people involved in the last gig want to work with you again?  Goodness is magnetic – if you have it, the best talent will be compelled to join you again.

One of the payoffs of attracting an A-team quickly, is spending less time and money on recruiting and hiring. With less time spent finding and building a team, a leader can move faster taking ideas to market, which also costs less. How is that “soft?”

Goodness pays by creating a magnetic pull that brings the best talent to us. Fast.

Always learning

What we’re learning is that goodness, like many aspects of leadership, is difficult. It means creating an environment where people believe they can thrive together. It comes alive fastest through encouragement, accountability, and good teamwork. That’s what people crave from their work these days.

Good leaders embrace the challenge of proving how the “soft” stuff plays a role in creating “hard” business results. And they lead in ways that are magnetic, so the best talent is compelled to come back to work.

Please share with me: How do you think goodness “pays” for you?

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Minneapolis/St.Paul is digging out from a whopper of a snowstorm today. Did mother nature add insult to injury after the Vikings big loss?

Mother nature dumped her pure white snow on Minneapolis last night – it’s the first really strong snowstorm of the season. With accumulations of more than a foot deep, she’s creating huge amounts of work for anyone who needs to free a car, a sidewalk or a driveway.

Insult to injury?

The timing of the snow added hardship to misery in Minnesota yesterday. The blurry blizzard added color to how Minnesota Vikings fans were already feeling from Sunday’s disappointing result.

For several weeks now, this arts-loving community had gone purple-crazy over the success of our National Football League team. The cherry on top of the anticipation was the artistic lighting of the most famous  Twin Cities landmarks – each awash at night in Vikings purple and gold. The whole state believed!

Goodness in everything

The snowstorm reminded us that life goes on. We embrace living in the bold north, including life-altering snowstorms and the risks of pinning our hopes to a team that just can’t seem to win the big game – yet.

I was at the big game to celebrate the “Minneapolis Miracle,” where the Vikings won. Even after the recent big loss, we gotta BELIEVE!

Here’s what I believe is the most important thing about goodness in life and leadership: good leaders can find the goodness in everything. And when they make that goodness grow, everyone benefits because of the rejuvenating boost of positivity. Finding goodness is not naive. Finding goodness is not limited to religion. And it’s not soft or easily exploited. Finding goodness in everything is oxygen for living and leading a good life.

Good leaders find the goodness in everything, because that’s how they thrive. And when they help that goodness grow, people begin to thrive together.

There will be more snowstorms, and there will be more big games. I believe there is goodness in both! Do you?

Please share with me: What do you believe about goodness?

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Living in the bold north of Minnesota requires midwinter boosts of bright energy. That’s why my team and I are excited to share a slate of speakers who radiate goodness for the 2018 Spring Good Leadership Breakfast Series. Positivity and optimism are particularly important today, as we search for effective ways to drown out the “dark noise” that dominates our media consumption.

Jurriaan Kamp, founder of The Intelligent Optimist.

Celebrating The Intelligent Optimist: February 16

The series begins on Friday, February 16, with a world-class purveyor of optimism. Jurriaan Kamp is our first international speaker at the Good Leadership Breakfast. He will visit us from his land of origin, the Netherlands, on his way to his US home in Santa Barbara, California. Jurriaan is one of the pioneers of the international “Solutions Journalism” movement, and the co-founder of The Intelligent Optimist magazine. “It’s a fact that reporters spend most of their time digging for problems to report to us,” he shared. “I believe journalists have a moral responsibility to help create hope in the world as well. I’ve dedicated my career to reporting on intelligent solutions to the biggest problems we all face – things like energy, poverty, and famine.”  Get tickets for Jurriaan Kamp here.

Goodness Pays Research: March 16

Paul Hillen, co-author of the Goodness Pays book project.

Paul Hillen is best known to the Good Leadership Breakfast as the very first sponsor of the breakfast when he was the Chief Marketing Officer at Cargill. Today he is the Chief Commercial Officer and SVP of JM Swank, a Platinum Equity Company – and he is co-authoring the Goodness Pays book with Paul Batz. His appearance in March will be the first public unveiling of the research, and the beginning of the build-up to the 2018 book launch. Get tickets for Paul Hillen here.

What’s Possible When We Work Together in Healthcare: April 20

Erik Gabrielson and Moira Petit, healthcare advocates and leadership coaches with Activ8.

Erik Gabrielson and Moira Petit are the second husband and wife speaker team at the Good Leadership Breakfast. They are partners together in the human potential coaching, research, and consulting firm Activ8. A dramatic and heroic healthcare journey centered around their one and only son resulted in a real-life story about how encouragement, accountability, and good teamwork not only saved their son’s life, but gave them all a life where goodness pays. Get tickets for Moira and Erik here.

Taking Goodness to Main Street America: May 18

Amanda Brinkman, creator of Small Business Revolution, Main Street TV series.

Amanda Brinkman is the Chief Brand & Communications Officer at Deluxe Corp, and a relentless champion in America’s quest to help small businesses thrive. She’s won almost every business community award bestowed by the Twin Cities business press, but her most rewarding honors come through her involvement with Small Business Revolution – a movement created to shine a spotlight on the vital impact that small businesses have on our economy, our communities, and our daily lives. Amanda is not only an on-camera talent, but also is the creator of the Small Business Revolution – Main Street TV series. Get tickets for Amanda here.

We’re excited to begin podcasting the speakers from the Good Leadership Breakfast, beginning on February 16, featuring Jurriaan Kamp.

Good leaders find positivity and optimism by living and working with people who radiate goodness. And they find ways to help the people around them thrive by drowning out the dark noise.

Please share with me: Which speaker are you looking forward to most, to boost your winter mood?

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With the glow of our Christmas tree gone, I am creating my own sparkle focusing on aspirations for 2018.

The twelve days of Christmas have passed. My Monday morning meditation seems a bit flat because the colorful glow of the Christmas tree is gone. The tree is on the curb, and I put the lights away for another year. So now I’m creating my own sparkle, by plugging into my two significant aspirations for 2018: 1) Finish and launch the Goodness Pays book, and 2) take my first sabbatical for rest, renewal, and family adventure.

First, the book

I’m focusing on two compelling aspirations: the Goodness Pays book project and a sabbatical coming in March.

Over the course of a 32-year professional career, I’ve never worked on any one project that’s taken 2 1/2 years. Normally, I would not be described as a person with patience. But it’s now beginning to feel as if the persistence will pay off. Here’s why:

While coaching, speaking and writing about the idea “Goodness Pays” has been fruitful, I’ve been yearning to go deeper. Specifically, to gather data that answers the two questions: What do you mean by goodness?  And How, specifically, does a leader make it pay?

Clarity emerging

Alas, nothing significant ever happens alone. With the artful help and encouragement of my writing coach, Sean McDonnell; the experience of our research advisor Jeri Meola, CEO of SMS Research Advisors; and the practical/skeptical insights of my co-author Paul Hillen, whose employed by the world-class Platinum Equity Partners – on assignment as the Chief Revenue Officer of a mid-size firm, JM Swank, in Iowa; we are creating both clarity and excitement around the Goodness Pays subject.

Our confidence has been bolstered by this impressive roster of A-list leaders who’ve agreed to share their specific point of view on how Goodness Pays – for the research, and for the book:

Large company leaders (more than 5000 employees): Richard Davis, Former CEO and now Chairman of US Bank; Greg Page, Former CEO and now Chairman of Cargill; Amanda Brinkman, Chief Marketing Officer, Deluxe Corp; Ray Kowalik, CEO of Burns & McDonnell; Chris Policinski, CEO of Land O’ Lakes.

Mid-sized company leaders: (500-4999 employees): Jerry Matty, CEO of Tactile Medical; Liz Smith, CEO of Assurance Agency; Marcia Page, Chair of Varde Partners; Mike McMahan, President of St. Francis Hospital; Lynn Casey, CEO of Padilla.

Small company leaders: (50-499 employees): Charles Antis, CEO of Antis Roofing; Karen Clark Cole, CEO of Blink UX; Umit Nasifoglu, CEO of Wedding Day Diamonds; Clara Shih, CEO of Hearsay Social; Colleen Needles Steward, CEO of Tremendous! Entertainment, Inc.

In the coming weeks, the focus of this blog will be on bringing alive the research for the book, and promoting the leaders who will be contributing to the Goodness Pays movement through the Good Leadership Breakfast Series. The full 2018 line-up will be announced next week!

I’ll write more about the March/April sabbatical soon.

Good leaders persevere through ambiguity by focusing on the end goal. And they stop along the way to celebrate the people who are helping them spread goodness.

Please share with me: Who is helping you spread goodness?

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President George W. Bush took up painting after political life. His work is beautiful and inspiring.

My favorite Christmas gift this year is a book of paintings and writings by George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States. It’s a beautiful coffee table style book called Portraits of Courage – a Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors. I love it for many reasons, but mainly because it’s a joyful celebration of what’s possible when we follow our aspirations.

Aspirations help life and leadership

As a reader of this blog, by now you know my belief in how aspirational thinking changes life and leadership. It’s the subject of my most recent book. Resolutions come and go. So much so that it’s almost cool to say “I’ve already broken my New Year’s Resolution.” Anything that makes it cool to quit on something important to you isn’t cool.

But aspirations never die. They just keep growing.

What George W. discovered after a life in politics was a yearning to express himself. He read Winston Churchill’s essay “Painting as a Pastime.” Until that moment, he didn’t know he could be a painter. “I figured if painting sated Churchill’s appetite for learning, I might benefit from it as well,” George writes in the foreword of the book.

Aspirations are passions

Bush’s aspirations today include telling the stories of US Military warriors through painting and prose.

“Paint what you love,” his teacher encouraged. So he started with the family pets. As skill and courage grew, he began to paint portraits of people. Holding this book in my hands is a multi-sensory experience – an admiring tribute to the fascinating, courageous military warriors George knows from his journey.

My grandmother lived to 103. She memorized all 27 Chopin piano etudes after the age of 90.

Looking ahead

So, today is a launching point into a new year. What are your aspirations?

Good leaders never stop considering “what’s possible?” in their lives. And they continue to stretch and grow with aspirations, because that’s what good leaders do.

What are your aspirations for this year?

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The ability to take time off over the holidays is a gift. Are you counting this as a blessing today?

Today is the day after Christmas. If you had the day off of work yesterday or today, I hope you are counting your blessings. Why?

There is an entire slice of our society that needs to be “on” 24/7/365. Hospitals, police and fire, hotels, etc… and somebody has to work to keep them running.

It’s a gift to be able to take time off. Are you counting your blessings today?

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Sunday brunch with my mother and best friend from home was a fabulous way to celebrate a good life.

December is, well…December! If you have created meaningful friendships and strong family ties, the invitations for special things expand exponentially as you age. Even now, absent the child-raising obligations at school, my life outside of “work” is abundantly full.

Growth on the Seven Fs everywhere

Ever since Tim Schmidt and I created the Seven Fs: faith, family, finances, fitness, friends, fun, and future, as a framework for goodness in leadership, I’ve been able to handle the “outside of work” influences more effectively. This past week was a Lalapalooza of Seven Fs joy and goodness:

My nephew Birch sang a fantastic concert at the Basilica in Minneapolis, on Monday night.

Family first

It started with the Minneapolis Southwest High School Christmas Concert at the Basilica to watch my nephew Birch Batz Rogers sing first tenor in a spectacular concert. Then, Melinda and I raced home, to have a 10 pm Skype-date with our son and daughter-in-law who are now living and working at a Non-Government Organization in Bangalore, India. The 11.5 hour time difference meant a late night on a Monday. Ouch.

One of our team members gave Melinda and me this special bottle of wine!

Later in the week, we hosted the Good Leadership Enterprises team at our house for a Christmas celebration, and then welcomed our daughter Anna home from college. Saturday, I welcomed my best friend since junior high school, Rob Joyce, for the weekend. Saturday night, Melinda and I hosted our December “Feast with Friends,” with lots of food, wine, and singing around the piano.

“Feast with Friends” for the Bloomington crowd.

Football, the 8th F

Sunday morning, Rob and I got up to share breakfast with my 81-year-old mother, before going to the Minnesota Vikings football game. After the game, I went to a graduation party for Drew Martin. Then, Sunday night we hosted “Sunday Night Pizza” to celebrate our daughter Katie’s engagement to Maxwell Bowell – they have chosen a date and a space for their wedding.

And every day for the past 8, I’ve been reading a CaringBridge site to follow the health journey of someone I don’t even know. Our newest employee Kathy’s brother suffered a brain aneurysm and the miracle of surgeries helped him survive. Mark makes me humble and grateful to be so alive.

Sarah (center) and Ben are celebrating Christmas this year in India.

Even though my #1 priority at work is to finish writing the Goodness Pays book, I found all of these “distractions” to be helpful. There are so many special relationships – and responsibilities – in my life that make me want to get better. A better husband, father, brother, uncle, and son. A better leader and business owner. And a better writer, speaker, and coach to fuel the goodness movement.

Rob and I cheered on the Vikings Sunday afternoon during a Lalapalooza of Seven Fs weekend.

Good leaders embrace their full life – inside and outside of work – as motivation to get better. And they seize every opportunity to see growth in their faith, family, finances, fitness, friends, fun, and future.

This week includes both the Winter Solstice and Christmas. Both are excellent reasons to celebrate a good life. Enjoy!

Please share with me: What outside of work influences are making you better?

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