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Global Leadership Speaker and Premier Work-Life Balance Speaker
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Archive for September 2008

I am tired of trying to sound smart this week.

I have been sitting here trying to think up something that will make me look profound and smart because a) all the bloggers are trying to be profound these days and b) several meeting planners happened to call yesterday and I know I am up for a few big gigs and they will likely read this. And yet…

I have watched enough CNN and MSNBC, I’ve read the news online nonstop and…

I am tired.

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No.

I am sick and tired. I am on bad news overload. I feel like I am fully informed about the state of affairs and like I still know nothing — just like most of you and like most of the members in Congress and…

Forget it. I went kayaking at sunset this evening because I wanted to take a minute to count my blessings and…

I realized…

That no matter what the stock market does…

No matter what those boobs in Washington do…

No matter what my financial planner reports…

I

Am

A

Rich

Woman.

We live in an incredible world, and we are blessed with so very, very much. Look around.

The good news is everywhere.

Fawn Germer is the best-selling author of four books, including an Oprah pick. She speaks to corporations and organizations on courageous and creative leadership strategies taken from her interviews with the best-known leaders of our times.

Stung by the economy? Here’s what to do…

The bailout vote blew me away today. Unbelievable. We aren’t just watching history — we’re making it. Individually, the decisions we make will affect our futures and shape the economy for others around us. I am as shocked as you are.

What should you do? Pay attention to the news. Digest it. Talk to people. Figure out what you are going to do.

Then, go to work. The only thing that will get America through this kind of crisis is that old American work ethic that our parents and grandparents had. If we step back and look at the world we have created for ourselves, we have to admit we’ve turned into a bunch of spoiled softies. What got us in this mess? People spent more than they could afford, and the fat cats were only too happy to exploit that excess.

I have talked to so many people in the last week who are so beaten down by all of this bad news and so sure that they will suffer the consequences of our economy. My advice to them — and you — is that you do two things:

1. Stay informed of the news so you can make the proper financial decisions.

2. Compartmentalize the negativity and confidently accelerate your own performance so you are one of the winners who succeeds in this environment.

Remember, America is still open for business. Most people are feeling fear and negativity and defeat. This is a moment when you can charge forward with confidence, positive energy and a commitment to win. All you have to do is remember that the world has not ended.

Persevering, minute by minute

I don’t think any of us understands the concept of perseverance until we have persevered through the darkest times. I can tell you to hang in there, things will get better, but until you’ve experienced your share of crucible moments, those words will ring hollow. Your greatest learning occurs when you are persevere when every sign seems to be telling you to give up.

It would be easier if you knew a) when you are going to prevail or b) if you are going to prevail. Unfortunately, once you start getting tested by obstacles, you seldom have a clue when or if there is going to be a payoff. All you can do is keep on keeping on. Or, you can quit.

I once took a cycling vacation in Colorado that began with a 10,000-foot climb up the merciless Grand Mesa outside of Grand Junction. Although I’d had a strong history of cycling in the mountains, I’d gained weight and hadn’t really trained for the vacation. That mountain beat me up harder than any other. At some point, I realized that this would be the first mountain I would not be able to conquer – no matter how stubborn I was.

Halfway up, I got to a rest stop where the sag vehicles were shuttling the quitters and their bikes up to the top. I knew I would have to do that, and the thought of quitting really ate at me. I’d long adhered to the saying, “Death before SAG.” I felt dead, but I did not want to get in the SAG wagon. So, I made a decision to take a good, long break – for as long as I needed – before trying once again to make it further up that brutal mountain.  If I were going to SAG, it would be further up the road, where I literally could not ride another mile. I would stop only when I could not ride another inch.

I waited at that rest stop for more than an hour and a half. Finally, I started to ride again. I made up my mind that I would stop every mile if I had to, and there were some points when I stopped two or even three times a mile. But, I would keep on going as long as I could keep on going.

Mile by mile, I moved closer to the top. That climb was so hard and the weather so hot that more than three-fourths of the cyclists took rides to the top. I was prepared to do that, but only when my legs were truly done.

I remember the moment when I realized I was less than a mile from the top. I knew I would get there. I had persevered through every excuse to quit. I’d silenced every desire for the ordeal to be over. I felt proud. I got to the top and climbed off my bike, laying on the ground – truly exhausted. I’d learned something about perseverance. You don’t quit until you absolutely have to quit. Sometimes, you just need to slow it down and move forward a little bit at a time. As long as you continue to move forward, you will get where you are going.

Remember that when you encounter obstacles and start to doubt whether you should keep fighting. You might lose your battle, but you won’t know for sure unless you push as hard and as long as you possibly can.

I learned long ago that you never know how close you are to turning the corner until you actually turn the corner. All you can do is be determined and remain focused on moving forward. Take it one day at a time. When it is really rough, take it one minute at a time. Don’t quit until you have to quit. When you finally do turn the corner, you will realize how much more your success means. That which comes hard is always more meaningful than that which comes easy. And the fight to persevere through adversity will grow you into a stronger, more resilient person.

What to remind yourself when you are hitting the wall and feel like the universe is telling you to give up: Adversity is only temporary. Things will get better, sooner or later. You are learning and growing, and the moment will come when everything makes sense. The obstacles you are experiencing will grow and define you as a stronger, more brilliant individual. See them for the opportunity they give you. Remain focused on your goal and just keep moving toward it.

When you are ready to give up: Delay the surrender! Decide to give it one more hour, one more day, one more round. Only quit when you realize you truly cannot persevere another minute, or when you realize you are on the wrong track and want to do something different.

When you know it is okay to give up: If you can say, “I don’t want this anymore and I have no regrets,” or, “This is not worth it to me,” or, “It’s time. I’m done,” then give it one last push – just to make sure – then do another gut check. If you are still thinking you are done, you may really be done. But only quit when it is truly time to quit.

Tuning out the negative

It is very easy to get swallowed up by negativity when we get a daily dose of doom and gloom on the front page, television set, radio and Internet that tells us how bad we’ve got it and how much worse it is going to get. Eeesh. If we buy into it, we might as well just give up and get in a bread line right now.

If your read the news faithfully, you can’t feel uplifted. It’s just too heavy. People openly fret that they will lose their savings, that their retirement funds will be looted, that there won’t be a dime left for Social Security and that they will have to work until they die.

And yet…

If you stop listening to the bad news, the world is not quite so dark.

Realize this is being written by a former journalist who has been a lifelong, can’t-get-enough news junkie. I have always immersed myself in the news and have judged those who didn’t bother with it. Now I think they might have the right idea.

I’ve always said that the easiest way for power to run amok in government is for the populace to stop paying attention. But, power has run amok – even when we are paying attention. So, I try not to be quite so obsessed with incremental news because, in times like this, the increments can really bring me down.

When you hear bad news, you expect bad news. When you are told again and again that all is lost, all is lost. Start tuning the negativity out! Know what’s going on in general, but make a conscious decision to mute the volume and frequency of the pessimism because, otherwise, the negativity will swallow you up.

Even if these are the worst of times for millions of people, they are not the worst of times for all people. Those of us who are adept at finding opportunity in moments of great adversity will create success for ourselves, regardless of what the market does. Maybe we will have to change what we do or how we do it, but successful people have the confidence to know that they will figure it out.

There is a lot of talk about the tough times we are going through. Too much talk. Even if it is real, the negativity is powerful. It can drag you down and derail you professionally and financially because you can buy into the notion that we are experiencing a moment of great scarcity, rather than abundance.

Put it in check. Don’t delude yourself into thinking things are better than they are, but don’t get sucked under by the negativity. Figure out a way to use these tough moments as an opportunity to create more success, rather than to fight hard to just maintain.

 The window is open. Opportunity is there. If you see only adversity, you will experience adversity. Take control over the negativity by tuning out the pessimism and getting about the business of creating more success for yourself.

Going there.

I have heard so much talk about the book and video for The Secret, which pulls together the old concept of the “law of attraction.” I avoided The Secret

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for a very long time because I thought it was stolen right out of Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich,

but then I realize he’d taken it from someone else who took it from someone else who got it from The Bible. So, I now like The Secret or anything that drives home the point that you create your own reality. If you see yourself as moderately successful, you’ll be moderately successful. If you see yourself as wildly successful, you’ll be wildly successful.

If you think you have money problems, you have money problems. It goes on and on. So, people see the video and they get all excited because they get it in their heads that they can talk themselves into fame and fortune.

I just think there is one other component to it. I believe wholeheartedly in the law of attraction. But I believe it only works to its fullest potential when combined with a spiritual element.

Whoa. I am going to “go there.” Please don’t be offended.

I am going to talk about something that corporate speakers don’t talk about — the big taboo. I will never tell you what you should believe in terms of spirituality. Just believe in something.  I absolutely convinced that there is an energy out there that is bigger than any of us, and it is big. I was raised Jewish, but practice in my own, deeply personal way. I think my Christian and Moslem friends are all traveling to the same place via a different road. I don’t think any of us is more right than the other.

I used to reserve my prayers for my most desperate moments, like when my mother had her stroke and it looked like she was going to die. Or when my father was shot in a holdup.  I never wanted to bother God with things like career or finances – things I felt certain I should be able to manage for myself. But when I couldn’t get my first book published and I felt like an absolute failure. I did the only thing I could do. I prayed.

Ever since, I have constantly counted my blessings and been rewarded with more abundance than I ever imagined and, best of all, a stronger spiritual connection. I never, ever feel alone or lonely. I always feel supported and loved.

I have some friends who kill themselves at work, then come home to a beautiful house that has been teetering on verge of foreclosure for about four years. Every minute of every day they feel the weight of looming financial crisis, largely because they bought a great home that they never could afford, and now they can’t unload it because the market has soured.

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There is nothing I can say that will fix their financial situation. I can’t coach them to work harder or take leadership roles at the office because both of them are struggling with companies that have cut budget and staff to the minimum. They have been trying – for years – to find jobs elsewhere, but they haven’t gotten anything.

There are so many sad stories out there. So many people are in turmoil and crisis, and if you are one of them, I have to hope that you will remember that you are never, ever alone.

What can you do when it gets that dark?

Have faith. Believe in abundance and ask your God to be beside you and carry you through to the other side.

The window is wide open. It’s your moment.

This is a defining moment for us as a society, but it is also a defining moment for you as an individual. You can give up like everyone else, or you can see that when everybody else is giving up, there is a huge window of opportunity for those who have the courage to persevere. download thirteenth floor the movie

What that means is you run ten times faster than you have ever run, knowing that it is your moment to break from the pack and win. Think about it. If everyone else is wallowing in negativity, their performance is going to stink. If you don’t buy into that defeatism, you can create a moment of tremendous success. Few companies are doing zero business. Make it your business to go after what opportunity exists.

If you aren’t in sales but are in a company that is stalling, you can use this as a moment to expand your skills set and pitch in to help solve problems or lead others through crisis. Whatever you learn will help you later on, so this is really a chance to grow and shine. There are three options when things begin to sour: 1) Give up 2) Follow the leader 3) Take the lead. Who will collect the rewards once the tough times pass? The one who showed courage and vision and was relentless in trying to make a difference.

These tough times will pass. They will. The more we buy into the negativity, the easier it becomes to believe that our nation is moving into the dark ages and the prosperity we’ve always known is gone forever. It is not. Things will turn around eventually. Better days are coming.

The question is, are you banking on some politician or the government or the winds of change to make things better for you, or are you banking on yourself – the one part of the equation that you can actually control?

Look around. Be visionary enough to see where you can make the difference that will either propel you financially or give you more experience or clout to help you later on. mr brooks movie download

Shut down the negativity. If you see bad times, you will experience bad times. You don’t have to live in a world of make-believe, but put the negativity off to the side and train yourself to always see the opportunities that arise out of adversity. Be first on the scene to grab those opportunities.

Work harder than you have ever worked. Whatever you were doing before won’t be enough if you want to profit from these challenging times. If you were already overworked, you may roll your eyes at this suggestion, but don’t. All of us have been through times when we have had to exert Herculean effort in order to either make a deadline or master some challenge. This is a time for that kind of effort.

Stand out. By working harder, delivering excellence and taking the lead, you are a valuable player – either to your current boss or to some other company that is looking for good talent. Those who blend in risk being dumped on when there is more work to assigned or cut when cuts are called for.

Be seen as part of the solution – not the problem. That makes you valuable to others who can’t lead alone.

Overdeliver. You don’t want to be seen as below average, because you will be punished for it. You don’t want to be seen as average, because you’ll be dumped on and pushed until you are viewed as valuable. “Above average” is good, because the powers that be will, at least, think twice before messing with you. But, if you are seen as consistently excellent and productive, you will emerge as a go-to person who will help create a stronger future for your company.

Fawn Germer is the best-selling author of four books, including an Oprah pick. She speaks to corporations and organzations on courageous and creative leadership strategies that she learned through her personal interviews with more than 200 world-famous leaders.

Seizing the moment, despite a lousy economy

Fannie! Freddie! AIG! Bear Stearns! Wall Street! Gas! Oil! Lord!

There’s no hiding the ugly truth about The Way Things Are these days. Things are terrible. Look at all those indicators. Inflation. Unemployment. Income…

Forgive my absolute optimism here. I know that times have never been tougher for most Americans. I get it. I got a $396 electric bill today, plus a $460 health insurance bill and a $130 water bill and I’m paying so much in property taxes, homeowners and auto insurance that it now costs me almost $3,000 a month just to breathe. That’s without housing, food, entertainment, necessities, splurges or anything else. Three grand a month just to be insured and air conditioned.

I could go on and on and on about it, but I don’t because that everyone else is buying into that negativity loop. They are making a big mistake by  constantly worrying about what’s wrong. Instead of harping on it, I figure I’d better make sure I make a lot of money this year.

What happens when one day of bad news is replaced by another day of even worse news? We become psychologically beleaguered, depression sets in, we start to expect the worse and we can’t help but give up.

You can look at almost any group of sales people to see this. Once they believe things won’t sell, guess what? They won’t sell! primeval dvdrip download But, let’s say you work in a pool of twenty salespeople. Your 19 co-workers have all given up and spend more time thinking of excuses to explain their bad numbers than they spend out there tearing things up to turn things around. You can be in a bad economy and a very flat economy where nothing seems to be selling. But, somebody is closing deals. Somebody is doing something. You just have to make up your mind that, if somebody is going to succeed, it is going to be you.

Tomorrow: The window is OPEN. It’s your moment.

Fawn Germer is the best-selling author of four books, including an Oprah pick. She speaks to corporations and organizations on courageous and creative leadership strategies taken from her interviews with the best-known leaders of our times.

Don’t let security be your dangerous anchor

Several years ago, I weighed my options. Stay in Denver at a job I hated and continue working for an absolute jerk, or move back to Florida for a better job and more money, but work as an editor for a less prestigious newspaper. I was ready to bolt, then froze.

What was I doing? I had a union-protected job where I couldn’t be fired. Five weeks of vacation, good money, great benefits and I got to live in Colorado, a state I loved that was filled with the best friends I’d ever had. I knew what I had where I was. I didn’t know what I would be trading for in Florida. What if my new boss was an even bigger jerk? What if I was even more miserable?

I weighed the options with my friend Jill Gould, who was and is one of my mentors and sisters in life. Finally, she said two things that changed my world.The first thing was, “Don’t let security be your dangerous anchor.” She said it three times, emphasizing the point. The second thing she said was, “If you ain’t doin’ something, you’re doin’ nothing.” I can’t imagine two more profound pieces of wisdom to guide us through turbulent times as we make the decisions that will determine where we go next.

I quit the job, moved to Florida, stayed in the new job in a year-and-a-half and found my way to this new, exciting, oh-so-fun life as an author and speaker. None of this would be mine if I’d clung to that union protected job. Instead, I would have been stuck in an archaic job in a dying industry. A position that would have left me with no security whatsoever.

I see so many people clinging to what little security their jobs offer, not recognizing that the security is not real at all. Look at the behemoth companies collapsing in front of our eyes. There is no security in trusting institutions that have to make a profit first and take care of employees second. It’s good to have faith in the companies you have loyally supported and buoyed with your talents, but don’t have blind faith.

A friend called last night and lamented how much she deplores the work she is doing for a government agency that is so demanding of her time, energy and spirit that she knows she has neglected her husband and herself. And, for what? The security of a paycheck. I remember when she and I were starting our own businesses at the same time. I worked so hard to run fast enough to make mine take off. She seemed stuck to the floor. Finally, she called to tell me she’d taken the job she is now so miserable in. I remember telling her that self-employment was a lot like a tightrope walk in the circus.

“Those tightrope walkers never look down because, if they do, they fall,” I said.

“My problem was, I couldn’t look up,” she said.

It was the most concise description of the difference between success and failure. To succeed, you have to have faith in yourself so you can move forward with absolute certainty that you are on the right path.

Don’t let security be your dangerous anchor.

Fawn Germer is the best-selling author of four books and speaks to corporations and organizatons about courage and creative leadership strategies.

Discovering her mother, discovering herself

I am getting more than 100 e-mails a day and am really behind. Yesterday, I found this lovely note and photo from my friend, Dianne Williams. I have to share it with you…

“Even in death, she’s teaching me lessons about life. Fawn, your beautiful story led me to write a slightly different one. Unlike your relationship, my mother and I were not very close for most of our lives together. Neither of us would ever eat cat food as long as the other drew breath, but at a heart level we struggled to find common ground. Now, a little over a month after her passing, I wrestle with what I learned from her, and what I will carry with me through the rest of my journey. First, I learned to have long term health care insurance! The second lesson will require more effort than the first. That lesson is that I’ll be happier if I live my whole life.

“As I sorted through old pictures and documents that I had never seen, I met a different woman than the one I knew. I found her signatures as president of several women’s organizations, her picture standing strong and resolute in front of a state office building, and a letter from a U. S. Representative, thanking her for her community service. Who is this woman, I wondered? Who is this part of her I never met? I’m not sure when my mother just took a seat and sat down in her life or why, but my own life offers clues. Did she get immersed in the day-to-day “administrivia” of living? Did she pour all her energy into someone else’s future? Did she get bumped around once or twice by failure and decide to stop trying? Will I? I pray that the answer is no, and fortunately I have something she didn’t have. I have the perspective of her life to guide me – perhaps to warn me. Thank you mother for the sacrifices you made for me and for all the lessons you taught me, even these last ones. I’ll do my best to live all the days I am given, to be true to who I was born to be, and make us both proud.”

I am proud to know Dianne. She is such a gift in my life and I am happy to share her with you.

On the road again…

I have gone six delicious weeks without getting on an airplane. What good fortune that all of my speaking events have been in Florida this summer, giving me time to recover from the last frenzy and prepare for the next. I will spend most of the next eight weeks on the road, which means e-mail will pile up, voice mail will fill up and I will wear down. The good news is, I love my work.

The reason I even have this career is because my old friend Kerri Smith suggested I become a professional speaker way back when I was a starving author. She said, “You ought to be a professional speaker. They make a lot of money.” It never even occurred to me that you could make a career out of speaking and that companies and organizations would actually PAY for something like that, but I checked it out and, WOW. She was oh-so-right. As I waited for that book to finally get published, I joined Toastmasters. There are thousands of Toastmasters clubs where you can polish your speaking skills, and the group gave me a chance to give a speech every week. Eventually, I started going to meetings of the National Speaker’s Association, which teaches you how to turn speaking into a business.

I used that time that I struggled to get my first book published to get ready for the biggest reward of all: this career as a public speaker. I go out on the road, meet great people, talk onstage and get so much love from my audiences. Then, I come home to Clearwater — the best place on earth. I can’t believe I get to live this life. I say that every single day.

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And even though I am on the eve of an extremely chaotic and exhausting fall travel season, I know how lucky I am.

Fawn Germer is the best-selling author of four books and speaks to corporations and organizations about courageous and creative leadership strategies.

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