Encouragement Unleashes Potential

May 10, 2018

Thomas Edison’s teacher said he was a poor student. His mother was furious at that characterization and took him out of school and taught him at home. Edison gave this account of the incident in an interview published on Nov. 29, 1907: “One day I overheard the teacher tell the inspector that I was ‘addled’ and it would not be worthwhile keeping me in school any longer. I was so hurt by this last straw that I burst out crying and went home and told my mother about it. Then I found out what a good thing a good mother is. “She came out as […]

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Wash Your Mouth Clean Of These Career-Killing Phrases

May 3, 2018

How many of you remember your mom or dad washing your mouth out with soap when you said a bad word and got caught lying? I don’t know if it’s still a common practice, but many people of my generation remember the awful taste this left in their mouths and dutifully passed this teaching opportunity to their children. My dad always told me, “Think before you speak.” Easier said than done. However, over the years you learn NOT to use certain words that you know will invite a negative reaction or worse. Words matter. They can uplift or they can knock down. They can unite […]

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3 Bones Lead To Success

April 26, 2018

A young woman was starting her career and leaving her parents’ home when her father pulled her aside and said, “There are only three things you need to make a big success in this world – three strong bones.” “Three bones?” the young woman asked. “Three bones,” her father repeated.  “A wishbone, a jawbone and a backbone.” “You need a strong wishbone to dream big and imagine a life of endless possibilities,” he said. “Your jawbone is to ask for help when you need it,” he continued.  “Speak your mind when you have to and raise insightful questions to feed your curiosity and […]

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Make The Call To Improve Phone Skills

April 12, 2018

The world is getting smaller every day. Thanks to advances in technology, we can be connected to points around the globe in seconds through our computer or telephone. We can even be on the other side of the world almost in person in a matter of seconds. Businesses can easily reach people and places that were inaccessible just a few years ago. This is why I say the phone is one of the most awesome tools available. We’ve all had years and years of experience using a phone, so why are so many people bad at using it? Here are […]

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Humor in business is no joke

April 5, 2018

Life is funny.  As a businessman, public speaker and author, I especially love clever stories with a message because they make important points more memorable.  Over the years I have collected a filing cabinet full of great material.  Since April is National Humor Month, I thought I would package up some of my favorites which cover a variety of topics.  Enjoy! Unless you are a one-person shop, teamwork is not optional.  This story says it all:  The loaded minivan pulled into the only remaining campsite.  Four youngsters leaped from the vehicle and began feverishly unloading gear and setting up a […]

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Believe in yourself even when no one else does

March 29, 2018

Life is not a parabolic curve.  It doesn’t go straight up.  There are a lot of lumps, a lot of bumps.  I have never yet met a successful person that hasn’t had to overcome either a little or a lot of adversity in his or her life.  Overnight success is much more of a myth than reality. Remember the four-minute mile?  Humans had been trying to do it for centuries, since the days of the ancient Greeks.  They found the old records, how the Greeks tried to accomplish this.  They had wild animals chase the runners, hoping that would make […]

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Perseverance pays offs

March 22, 2018

The popular Academy Award nominated movie “Darkest Hour” has brought a lot of attention to former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill recently.  It’s also brought a lot of attention to Gary Oldman, who won the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Churchill. According to biographers, Churchill did not have the happiest of childhoods.  Neglected by his uninterested parents, he was sent to boarding school at a young age where he would write letter after letter pleading for his parents to visit him.  Most of his requests went unanswered, and he ended up spending a succession of holidays alone at […]

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Billy Graham – the best salesperson I ever met

March 16, 2018

Other ministers told funnier jokes than Billy Graham, did a better job of illustrating Bible passages and organizing sermons, but no one was more effective than Graham in getting people to step forward in front of the congregation and make a commitment.  Translated from evangelism, that is what I call closing the sale.  It’s no wonder since he started his career as a Fuller Brush salesman. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), which was headquartered in Minneapolis, was instrumental in helping me get started in the envelope manufacturing business in the 1960s.  No one I’ve ever done business with has […]

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Let it go

March 8, 2018

Joe paced back and forth in his sister’s kitchen one Sunday before dinner.  His sister Carol recognized the worried look on his face and called him over to where she stood next to the sink. “Hey Joe, can you hold on to this for me?”  She handed him a can of vegetable scraps. Joe took the can and walked outside where he threw the scraps in the compost bin before returning to the kitchen. “Why did you toss my scraps?  I asked you to hold on to them.” “Why would you ask me to hold onto garbage?” Joe asked. “I […]

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Finding your purpose is like a treasure hunt

March 6, 2018

I had the pleasure of attending the Super Bowl in my home state of Minnesota in February along with many of the parties and events leading up to the big game.  One of my favorites is Taste of the NFL, which made its debut in 1992 when Minneapolis first hosted the Super Bowl. My friend Wayne Kostroski, a successful Minneapolis restauranteur, started Taste of the NFL to address the needs of the hungry and homeless by raising awareness and money through programs and special events.  Wayne saw the opportunity to use the world stage to help those who could not […]

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Street Smarts put you in the fast lane

February 15, 2018

I’m back with another installment of street smarts, those skills that go beyond what is taught in school – the lessons we learn by experience and practice.  Never underestimate the value and importance of “extracurricular” education. First idea:  Don’t be afraid to make a decision.  Be afraid NOT to make a decision.  Good judgment is a critically important skill for any person to have, but especially for those in leadership positions.  Good judgment is such an important attribute that it is often listed first by employers as required qualities of job applicants. In business, the success or failure of the […]

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Look for these traits in successful team players

February 8, 2018

It was a cold winter.  The hedgehogs, realizing the situation, decided to bunch together to keep warm.  However, the quills from each hedgehog pierced their next-door neighbors, so they decided to move apart.  But then they started to freeze and die alone, so they made the decision to cuddle back together and live with the little piercings caused by the close connection with their companions in order to receive the heat that came from the group.  This allowed them to survive. And that, my friends, is the perfect definition of teamwork. No team is composed entirely of perfect people.  Whether […]

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Rudeness is contagious in the workplace

February 1, 2018

Germs can run rampant in a workplace, but so can another problem.  Researchers at the University of Florida, presenting their findings in the “Journal of Psychology,” say that rudeness can be contagious. The researchers followed 90 graduate business students as they practiced negotiation techniques over seven weeks, switching partners several times.  Students who described a partner as rude were more likely to be considered rude themselves by subsequent partners more often than those who negotiated with people they felt were polite.  The researchers theorize that this suggests that experiencing rudeness may make people more inclined to engage in it themselves. […]

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The wisdom of Bruce Halle

January 29, 2018

I often use the expression – One person can make all the difference in the world. That adage certainly applied to my friend Bruce Halle who recently passed away.  Bruce was the founder of Discount Tire, the nation’s largest tire and wheel retailer with 975 stores in 34 states and more than 20,000 employees. He truly was a self-made man, working as a paperboy as I did, and even being a gravedigger to support his family.  He tried selling life insurance before he opened his first tire store in 1960 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  He was the sole employee.  His […]

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A smile adds face value

January 19, 2018

Readers of this column know that I am a big fan of Dale Carnegie, the master of making friends.  I carry a poem from one of his books with me and often share it when I am speaking to groups.  It’s called “The Value of a Smile,” and I hope you learn as much from it as I have. “It costs nothing, but creates much.  It enriches those who receive, without impoverishing those who give.  It happens in a flash and the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.  None are so rich they can get along without it, and none […]

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