Own your excellence – here’s how

Thank you Tsufit

Successful author of “Step Into the Spotlight” posted a LinkedIn update about Tony Robbin’s new show “Breakthrough“.

I wouldn’t have caught it if not for her. I recorded and watched it today.

For those of you who cringe at the name “Tony Robbins”, with his giant blinding white baby-seal sized teeth, his gravelly voice and patronizing-feel-good platitudes. Stop reading. Now.

No judgment, it’s not your thing. I get it.

I tried years ago to get into Tony’s books and tapes.

It didn’t stick and mostly made me feel fake.

Then a couple years ago it was simply “my time to hear his message”. The audio book “live with passion” did it for me. It helped me with actual tools to cope with daily challenges at work and at home. It was real and practical.

It empowered me to embrace challenge and clearly see it as a growth opportunity by teaching me how to project the reward and the reason I was struggling in the first place.

Today, I watched this show with great scepticism but excitement too.

This was a story about a couple who had experienced bizarre tragedy on their wedding night of all times. No joke. Dream wedding in Mexico, as the reception finishes he jumps into the pool, hits his head and is instantly paralysed.

Yes it’s dramatic and some might say taking advantage of a tough situation but watch it for yourself. Their issues are larger versions of the ones so many of us face every day. It was moving and uplifting.

A confession. I have a marriage rant. Romantic movies leave you at the point-of -proposal and end there with an arrogant pronouncement of “happily ever after”. There are no movies about living daily life. No one will make a movie called “washing dishes. again”, “mortgage interrupted” or “desperate housewives – who are pretty much ok but have a ton of work to do and it’s 5pm and dinner isn’t ready yet and another load of laundry – for real?!”. Thank goodness, for mentors, community members, parents and frankly, shows like this.

Back to breakthrough. I’m not going to lie, there was a LOT of crying.

I really freaked out my dog too.

As soon as the show finished I took those tools and did some things for my wife right then and there. Tony gave me the tools, reminded me of some I had put in place recently when I read a cheesy titled but very good book on how to FIND the motivation to do dumb daily but critical tasks at work and home without complaint, resentment or the regular barriers holding you back: procrastination, laziness, fatigue, entitlement.

But as much as this has helped me improve my personal life this blog is mostly about improving your business life.

I mentioned a person named “Tsufit“. Her book “Step Into the Spotlight” sounds like some narcissistic ego amplifier. It is certainly not.

Here is a quick quote from my original review: This book should be titled, “tips for real human beings who work in client service, want to stand out and not be phony”. It is the sharpest book I’ve ever read on being your best professional self, heck it’s helped me to be “on” much less and to be more “real” without fear.

It is a networking must read for anyone with customers, donors or clients to serve and connect with. For anyone who believes relationships are critical but struggles to stand out because of situation or self.

Connecting and keeping in touch with Tsufit through her site and LinkedIn is constantly a learning opportunity.

I don’t like crying. But a little raw emotion is cleansing and empowering. This show made my spirit soar and do something for my family and myself – instantly.

There are physical therapy coaches for the injured, fitness coaches for the wealthy, psychiatrists for those diagnosed with the need but for the rest of us – the potential zombied nation. We need something to help, we need tools, ideas from outside ourselves.

All the above books are reviewed on my LinkedIn book list.

Thank you Tony.

A very special thank you Tsufit.

Who’s got your back? The secret partner

The Blues Brothers were Roman Catholic fundraisers

Just like me.

-spoiler alert- The entire movie is about how these two misfits try to raise an honest $5,000 ($20,000 in 2010 dollars ) to save the orphanage that they grew up in.

To quote Joliet Jake “we’re on a mission from God”.

By now, it’s no secret that I live life through movies. Blues Brothers is my strategic plan. Every time I start a project that scares me I think of this statement.

These guys are not upstanding citizens, they don’t claim to be pious or hold themselves up for others to admire. They just want to make music.

They gather their team – some leave from successful jobs, others leave family behind and they try to do one thing right.

Story of my life. Probably yours to eh?

Along the way they come across people who help them, people you know as Cab Calloway, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Chaka Khan, John Lee Hooker, John Candy and many more. Some of the best blues music ever captured in a movie.

Also for some reason Princess Leia is trying to kill them. It has the record for most cars destroyed in a movie of all time.

Keith Ferazzi’s book “Never Eat Alone” is an international best seller. It’s his most famous book.

But it’s the less glamorous follow up book “Who’s Got Your Back” that I find indispensable when working with young professionals.

Among my mentors and the successful leaders I’ve studied there is a strong personal network. But there is also a secret partner, the voice of reason who helps us stay grounded in reality when all those around us have other motives.

Who’s got my back?

His name is Thomas Tran.

He is objective, cool, calm, thoughtful, methodical. As Zen as a human can get.

All the things I struggle with and maybe never will be.

Sure we are very good friends.
He’s been involved in every caper I’ve ever gone on.
He’s the godfather of my first child.

But he’s my ultimate business partner.
All my fun with weddings work is because of him.

He’s the ultimate networker, he lives in the service of others and yet he seeks no recognition. He actively rejects recognition.

A thousand people consider him their personal touchstone – listening is his currency.

I can’t count the times he’s said the following words that would be an insult coming from anyone else:

“You’re being hot-headed”
“You’re moving on this too quick, consider the alternatives”
“Don’t do this. I mean it. Don’t do this.”
“You know you’re wrong. You’re being an idiot.”
“It’s none of your business, there’s nothing you can do and nothing you should do”

And every time I do what he says not to, and end up hurt or embarrassed he doesn’t say “I told you so”, he helps but he says “you made your bed friend. Now sleep in it overnight and learn this lesson”.

So. Who is your Joliet Jake, Elmwood or Tom?

Your sounding board, your voice of reason who knows you better than yourself.

Find them. Today.

And if you like blues or soul music, watch the Blues Brothers.

What if you could be a leader…right now!

Robin Sharma is a great business and inspirational writer. Author of several best selling books.

A few years ago he shared a concept called “leading without title”. Something that really stuck with me as many in my network struggle with what is still a “command and control” hierarchical world of work.

His brand new book, “The Leader Who Had No Title” has brilliantly illustrated the concept in fable format. I finished it today – a truly enjoyable read which shares this truly practical but life-changing concept.

It left me very thoughtful.

Recently, more books and people have been helping me to understand the real world challenges of working in a leadership role. My eyes have been opened to appreciating where I am and how to work and lead from “the middle” rather than “the top”.

Today I was working in Collingwood Ontario. Have you been there recently?! They have JUST I mean just today finished about a year’s worth of work downtown (getting ready for the International Elvis Festival of course). I can’t tell you how beautiful it is. If you haven’t been in a while, go for a drive and visit.

I was sitting in a lawyer’s office before a meeting and had this thing up on the wall called “Desiderata“. I have read over 200 business books. This 100 year old poem is heavy, thoughtful, good advice. Read it below but what really stood out for me was “Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.”

However humble.

Like so many professionals, I tricked myself for so long, thinking that there is more control and more ability to influence from the top with an “important” title. Thanks to my current leader, many mentors and the great Mr. Maxwell and Mr. Sharma – I finally get it.

I can lead, make change, help others, help my mission, from anywhere.

If you’re struggling with this, make contact with me and we can talk.

Enjoy Desiderata – (click for clear version )

Get the RED card Starbucks users!

What if something you do every day could generate a donation to help AIDS in Africa? With NO work on your part? Why would you not do that?

So it’s no secret, I spend a lot of time networking in Starbucks.

Not the $6 latte stuff, just plain $2.21 Americano coffees ( no more eating donuts every day!! )

I hope you’re reading this because you’re a fellow junkie/patron.

Together we can use this daily habit/addiction to help others.


So, it’s no secret also, that I work in philanthropy (fundraising, for the layperson).

If you switch to the “Starbucks Red” card for your prepaid use every purchase will generate 5 cents for Project Red to help people with AIDS in Africa.

It’s something you’re doing anyway, as a time saver if you want to switch to a RED card and there are none at your local Starbucks ( they go quickly at some ) I have scored about 100 full size and keychain size cards.

I have also put $5 randomly on ten of them and will send you one or more in the mail if you use it and if possible share this message with others.

Email me at paulnazareth at rogers dot com.

What is Project Red? Where does the money go and what has it done?

Click here to find out.
So far since 2006 it’s raised over 150 million dollars for their cause.

Lastly for Startucks users DON’T forget to register your card online.

Did you know what you can do with a registered pre-paid card?
– Free refills on coffee or tea ( brewed or iced )
– 2 hours free daily wireless internet
– Free flavour shots in your coffee
– Free beverage on your birthday

Disclaimer and thanks:

No disrespect to Tim Horton’s. I still do a ton of business in there and if I’m on the road it’s Tims ( because there are no Starbucks drive-through’s downtown. Curse you 905!! ).

To all lawyers and financial planners who converted me ( not to mention visiting Los Angeles where it’s the only place to get a decent cup of coffee ) – thank you.

Understanding the reality of “leadership”

WARNING: This will be by far my most juvenile blog post to date.

My personal journey for the past few years has been to understand what “leadership” is all about, why do I think I want to commit to it and what could I possibly contribute?

It’s been a lot of reading and even more face to face meetings with leaders in business, community, faith and not-for-profit as well as mentoring by those ahead of me at various levels.

Just finished a great book by the prolific John C. Maxwell about “living and leading from the middle”.

And then last week it was like the window I’ve been peering through for years was smashed…

by a guy named Darren Pries-Klassen.

I have many wise, thoughtful mentors who have walked with me for the better part of the last decade. But Darren was a peer just a few steps ahead of me. Dedicated to pursuing his own opportunity to serve…like me.

Recently things changed and he is every bit the leader I hope to be; leading without title, empowering and relying on his team, dealing with the challenges of leadership like a human being who understands that he manages human beings. Not machines.

Listening to his reflections on real daily challenges in a language I understood I had the deepest most profound insight into this world I thought I knew.

Then, at that point. I started to think about…um…. Transformers.

I need help. I know.

Darren had been reading, listening, thinking, waiting and praying for twice as long as I had and it was astounding to hear the wisdom he had accumulated. His journey until his transition and then the change that had taken place in the short time since.

I finally realized how massive this transition needs to be and….

Crap. Transformers again.

You see, the first time I ever considered the concept of leadership was watching someone I knew ascend to this level of responsibility – I was ten.

His name was “Hot Rod”. A carefree, young, brash character was called to leadership. Right in front of my eyes he changed (with killer 80’s music in the background) and was a totally new person – instantly.

Thoughtful, wise, patient – his new name… “Rodimus Prime”.

Look, it’s an 1980’s kids cartoon, they keep it simple.

Here is a picture of the toy Hot Rod and Rodimus Prime before and after his change.

See the difference?

What an odd way of showing kids that massive life change is required of leaders.

Something I guess I took to heart.

Destroying the “looking glass” like Darren did, allowed me not just to see through but to ask direct questions about the life of a leader, and it changed my world.

A hundred sessions about, management, board expectations, staff development, strategic planning and leadership came to life in a few conversations about what these things mean when your number is called.

It gave me a better understanding and appreciation for every “boss” and leader I’ve ever served at work and in life.

It is certainly fun to continue the networking adventures of a hot rod but it’s good to finally understand what that change I witnessed at ten years old really means in the world of adults. That change certainly in not instant but every day can contribute to that transition!

Thanks Darren for being the kind of leader to openly share. You inspire with your candour, integrity and generosity.

Thanks Hasbro for branding these crazy ideas into my head. Even if you made a terrible new set of Transformer movies.

Now, can I help YOU find the Darren in your sector or industry?

Can YOU be a Darren for another? Could I help facilitate that meeting?

Can I help YOU make your transition from Hot Rod above to Rodimus Prime?

Let me know, make contact. Stay in touch.

Knight Rider – Carlos Diaz

Everyone has their dark unhealthy obsessions.

Mine is Knight Rider……. Don’t judge.

Today I met a Chilean Hoff, an actor by profession as well.
A young loner by the name of Carlos Diaz.

The opening lines of the show fuel my passion to make a difference in this world: “Knight Rider. A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist. Michael Knight, a young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of the innocent, the helpless, the powerless, in a world of criminals who operate above the law”. I may say this on the way to work every day – don’t you judge me!

How is Carlos like Michael?

Yes he has good hair – but he’s on a personal crusade to help the land of his birth in what has been a pretty much overlooked tragedy in Chile – a devastating earthquake measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale. The 7th most powerful earthquake ever recorded worldwide and the worst national Chilean disaster in over 50 years. Damage to infrastructure was extensive and many towns were almost completely destroyed by the earthquake or both the earthquake and tsunami related waves that crashed inland on coastal towns. Five months after the quake, thousands are still homeless and homes need to be built to get them back on their feet and out of the current cold winter months.

Like the great and wondrous Hoff, Carlos is going big.

He’s already raised over $7,000 and he’s going to hit $40,000 with your help on July 21. Not only that but after his event he’s going to GO to Chile and film a documentary about the event and what our funds are doing to help.

Check out his site and the event.

View a short video of clips by some celebs supporting the event.

Join us and be there on July 21! It’s going to be a fun evening!

Because one person, CAN make a difference. And today that person is you.

Ps. I tripped onto Carlo’s show on Showcase. An American show called “Rent-A-Goalie“. Funny stuff.

Now that’s a day job.

Two Fundraisers – Trading Places?! What is professional courage…

What is courage?

One of my favourite quotes states that “courage is not the ability to ignore or not feel fear but the ability to acknowledge that something else is more important”.

On my networking travels I meet peers of incredible courage.

Two such people remind me of one of my favourite movies of all time.

A film virtually no one has ever seen. It stars a few big names, includes a big ship like the Titanic, incredible music ( not that symphonic garbage ) – Jazz and Big Band.

The Legend of 1900. If you haven’t seen it, watch this.

And then go rent it. ( Then tell me what you thought )

What is professional courage?

The character in this movie can’t leave the ship he’s born on.

I have a ton of networking courage, but I just can’t leave this city I love.

These two fundraisers, who I have a ton of respect and warmth towards are making big moves. In fact….they’re trading places!

Paul Thorne and Kelly Trickett have paid their dues in the fundraising world.
They are professionals, through and through.

Paul in the world of annual and major giving. He’s a Linchpin by every definition of the word (and holds a dark secret – he’s a Jedi master of Microsoft Excel. A most coveted talent in any sector ). Paul will soon travel to Vancouver from Toronto.

Kelly in the planned giving world is walking gold. She’s not only paid her dues as a fundraiser but has that rare experience managing estates and the many vehicles that mystify so many peers. Kelly will soon travel to Toronto from Vancouver.

They both have some prospects in their designated landing cities but I’d much rather someone in my network steal these two sharp, thoughtful, strategic and frankly stellar human beings before they get lost in big shops.

Will you be that smart charity?

Funny story, I haven’t introduced them to each other. Until now.

Kelly, meet Paul T. Paul T meet Kelly.

You are two courageous professionals. I have told you before that I admire and derive courage just from knowing about your brave leaps.

If you don’t know these two, help me to welcome them when they hit your town.

Until then, I’ll continue my adventures in networking. You go watch 1900.

Why AREN’T you using Zipcar?

These two cards allow you to rule the city of Toronto!

So it’s no secret that I use and love Zipcar

I haven’t paid for gas for work and a lot of fun since 2006.

You say the HST increases the price of gas?
Not my concern.

Being on a Metropass instead of tokens is a way of life. Jumping on and off the subway for meetings, shopping, going out and at any time walking up to a car when I need one and driving has been liberating.

Been thinking about it? Take the quiz… is Zipcar for me?

Or of course, send me an email or call me and I would be happy to answer all your questions about how this program has improved my quality of life.

Here’s a little secret too. Yes you’re saving money. Yes you’re helping the environment. BUT! Have I had a blast driving brand new smartcar, prius, mini, mustang convertible, bmw, and every great sedan on the market? Heck yeah! They’re always clean and I don’t have to maintain them. For those of you who use cars to visit clients, donors or for work, this is the program for you.

Now, I’m not going to bore you with the story, but in June, I had a car accident where I could have easily died. I was in a Zipcar. Although I’m still dealing with the mortality issues of the accident – the Zipcar insurance process was unbelievable. In fact for just $70 a car my damage deductible is $0. Yes it’s true. I had the unfortunate opportunity to test it.

I’m all about customer service. I hold the companies that take my hard earned cash to a high standard and the GOLD standard has been Zipcar for years. You simply cannot understand the kind of service you get until you join or call.

Now, ok, for those “family folks” I know it’s hard with family but why not dump the second car?

We love our car, in fact I bought it because I used originally as a Zipcar ( it’s Canada’s smallest, most fuel efficient and fun to drive Microvan ) – the Mazda 5

If you have a young family, watch this video and understand.

You can’t fit an infant car seat in a sedan and still enjoy driving!

Now the payoff. What if joining was free? It’s $30 to apply but if you use my personal referral ( I hope this button below works, otherwise email me ) you get a $50 credit!

Join Zipcar and get $50 in free driving!

Change your life today. Join Zipcar.