Cindy Novotny

Happiness at Work!


Every day at Master Connection Associates we conduct a line-up in our office where everyone gets ready for the productive day ahead.  Each week there is a theme we focus on which is related to our values and standards.  This week it was all about honesty.  

So today I thought I would write my blog around this topic with a different twist of how to avoid office politics and game playing in the workplace.

Although this should be something that we avoid just as smart adults, it runs rampant in most organizations.  Everyone talking about each other behind their backs, telling the boss what he or she wants to hear, siding with one group or another and not being honest in communication and feedback.

So how do you manage to stay out of the fray of office politics and stay happy?  Here are some Cindy tips for you:

  1. If you are leader, create a culture where you cut off the "behind closed door" conversations that start with ‘oh, I am not going to say who said this.’  I tell anyone on my team to tell me or never say that again.  It is such BS to hide behind that statement. Speak up and speak out!
  2. If you don’t like something that someone is doing, tell them and then tell their boss you told them to stop!  When did you wake up and decide it is not your responsibility to help the company be better?  You get a paycheck from this organization don’t you?  
  3. Don’t ignore the gossip – get to the bottom of it.
  4. When someone comes in to ‘tattle’ on someone else, immediately call the other person into the office so the THREE of you can discuss the issue – this will stop false rumors.  
  5. Be sincere in your communication.  When giving feedback to someone be sincere in wanting to help them get better and don’t let this person blow off the feedback.

When Will You Finally Get Things Done?


I am a firm believer in getting things done NOW!  I can’t understand how so many people simply can’t meet deadlines, be on time, and have an organized home and office while constantly living in chaos.  

What comes to mind when I see people who are always behind in tasks is the word “accountability.”  Of course accountability means different things to different people.   Some people are professional ‘dumpers,’ meaning they wait until the last minute to ask for help or even worse, they just ‘dump’ their to-do's on someone else.  

To be clear, ‘dumping’ is not delegating.  And ‘dumping’ will often backfire as the person you ask to do the task is not as committed to the outcome as the owner of the task.  

So let’s go back to the topic of getting things done and not passing the buck!  Here are some of my tips that allow me to live on the road, stay focused, meet my deadlines and still have a life.

  1. Eat the big frog first.  Get up in the morning and tackle the toughest tasks first – the hard call to that client, the uncomfortable meeting with an employee, the detailed proposal or even a simple conversation with someone in your personal life that is causing you issues (oh and by the way if you have never heard the term ‘eat the big frog first’) just imagine having to eat 5 frogs – would you really want to start with the small one and at the end swallow that big frog?  Start with the big one and all others go down easier!!!  Just sayin'!
  2. Stop complaining about ‘overload’.  If you are constantly complaining about being overwhelmed, overloaded or overworked it is YOUR problem and no one else’s.   What have you done to get yourself organized?  How do you plan your day?  How do you prioritize?   
  3. Stop being tired!  You signed up for this gig so stop complaining.  Get more sleep and take responsibility for your relationships
  4. Take a mental health day and get out of your own way!
  5. Want more out of your life?  Put more planning in to it.  



As I’m sure we’ve all seen on the news, Hurricane Harvey has brought devastation to many parts of Texas.  However, through the destruction and loss of lives and homes, we see that this has also brought out the best in the people in Houston and all over the US. Amidst all the craziness, we’ve seen people come together and help one another in a big way.


What I’ve been thinking about this week is that it shouldn’t take a disaster such as this to make people stop and think about being nice to one another.  We should be living with that mentality daily. So here is my challenge for all of us: take time to reflect on who you are and the part you play in your life with family, friends, coworkers, etc. and really reset your priorities. Reevaluate what you need to do in order to contribute more to those around you instead of living in a self involved world.

Life is short – in the blink on an eye a storm turned into a hurricane that resulted in the worst natural disaster we’ve ever seen. Even as you’re reading this, hurricane Irma is “rapidly intensifying in the open Atlantic and poses a major threat to the Caribbean and potentially to the United States next week,” according to CNN. Things can change THAT FAST. 

Let's take a play from JJ Watt's book - just look at the impact he has had. He has raised almost 15 million dollars as of today! In his words, “I'm not just here for the initial fundraiser, I'm here to make sure that we take care of you down the road." Want to contribute? Click to donate:

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Focus Friday!


As summer starts to wind down and budget season approaches, it is time to focus on how you will finish the year.

I have found that the month of August is relatively slow in business.  So many people take time off during this last month of summer and when they return to the office after Labor Day, their focus is blurred.  Resist the temptation to stick your head in the sand and pretend that business will be back to normal after a few weeks off.  It doesn’t happen like that.

You need to adjust your thinking, be critical of your time management and create solutions to smoothly re-enter the ‘work zone.’ 

Here are my top 3 tips to smooth the transition:

  1. Tackle the ‘tough’ jobs first
  2. Make the hardest calls first
  3. Have that meeting with the boss or employee who had some issues while you were away. 

Vacation is a great time to re-charge your batteries for coverage once you are back – but make sure they are charged to 100% and get ready to finish the 3rd quarter in a big way!

Have a great weekend and let’s get ready for some real focus in the coming weeks!

History and Heritage: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow!


It is so sad that the world is fighting the ugly war on terrorism and we Americans can’t get together in a peaceful and loving manner.  Maybe we have all become so stubborn, entitled and privileged that we feel the need to hurt others.  Yes all of us hurt others, not one side or the other.  

Letting go means to come to the realization that some people are a part of your history, but not a part of your destiny.
— Steve Maraboli

I feel so fortunate sitting in my Victorian cottage (over 100 years old) in the peaceful small town of Frankfort, Michigan where history and heritage surround me.  We look down on Betsie Bay where the U.S. Government initiated dredging a channel from Betsie Lake to Lake Michigan as early as 1859.  In 1873, the lighthouse was constructed on the north pier to mark the entrance to the channel and over time this tiny town became the center of marine traffic up and down Lake Michigan.  History and heritage never to be forgotten.  

I grew up in the north and was taught to have respect for everyone regardless of their heritage, social economic class or ethnicity.  I lived in a mobile home (we never called it a trailer, yet that is what is was), and I have never forgotten where I came from.  My parents have shared all their stories of their grandparents, great grandparents and the struggles they all grew up with.  Our daughter keeps journals of both of her families ancestors and their history.  We have all the Native American arrowheads that were found on our farm in Iowa and I have the basket that the Ottawa Indians gave my great-great grandmother in 1871.  I am reminded every day of where I came from and where I need to go.

Historians around the country work endless hours preserving the unique history of their heritage and history in their respective communities because history and heritage is here, it happened and it will never be forgotten.  

Too many young people are growing up today without a guiding light or a true north.  Many have no idea what their ancestors went through or even where they were from.  It is time to focus on what matters in this country to keep us safe as we go forward.  


You Want It? Go Get IT!

Facing adversity and disappointment is the true measure of how much you believe in yourself.
— Cindy Novotny

Determination is a wonderful trait and to have the persistence to get what you want out of life takes a great deal of skill.  There are many people who will leave their values at the door to get what they want - but there are others who work hard, pay the price and have the persistence to never give up or look for the easy way out.  

This week my Monday Mentor Moment talked about my 82 year old dad who has wanted a 53 foot Hatteras motor yacht his whole life.  It was the number one bucket list item that he never quite achieved until this summer.  My parents have always been the type who worked hard, saved money, spent wisely and waited for the ‘extras’ as they knew you can’t always have what you want when you want it.

So together my wonderful parents bought their dream boat and my dad and a good friend are making the long journey from Little Rock, AK to northern Michigan.  This reminded me that you never give up hoping and dreaming for what you want – but it also confirmed that things may take a while.

In life you will never fail unless you give up.  To be successful and happy, you need a distinct set of guidelines and game plans, but you must be willing to sacrifice.  To win at this game of life, you do need to know where you are going every day, every month and every year. Even when negative things happen, you need to change the game plan and work through it.  

I have always said, ‘things don’t just happen in someone's life to make them successful or happy... people make things happen.’ So remember; whatever life throws at you this week, don’t let anything stand in your way. Facing adversity and disappointment is the true measure of how much you believe in yourself.   

Staying Successful in Business is Like Traveling – Deal with Change or Get off the Plane!


This week I have talked about changing the playbook like an audible.  An Audible is a change in the offensive play called by the quarterback at the line of scrimmage.  I shared in my Monday Mentor Moment how Peyton Manning used the audible ‘Omaha’ to change the play.  

Yesterday it took me 12 hours just to fly to Traverse City, Michigan from Orange Country, CA because of bad weather and delays.  I cannot begin to describe how people were acting on the plane, at the airport and in the Untied Club.  It was as if their life was coming to an end because of these delays.   I mentioned to several people (as you can imagine) that weather is not predictable and flying through a tornado is not a good idea, so the only option is to drive.  So instead of driving all of us crazy, go rent a car and get on your way.

Business today is a lot like flying.  To get off the ground you need a flight plan (sales plan), full throttle (energy to make the numbers) and the skills to fly through the storm when it is not expected.  

Business is just like flying - you really can't fly without a plan, you can’t stay at the same speed throughout the entire journey nor can you just fly on auto pilot.  Once you reach your cruising altitude, you pull back a bit, check your instruments and fuel levels to make sure you are on target and going in the right direction.  

If you have not had anything force you to make some changes lately, then get ready as you no doubt will deal with surprises soon.   If you have the skills, the plans, the right goals and the stamina to keep going, you will be successful and you will reach your destination.  Don’t forget to call an audible should you need to change the playbook.  

Stand Strong and Never Give Up!


Every one of us has dealt with what we feel is the worst day of our life.  You will even hear yourself saying at times, ‘this is the worst thing that could happen to me.’  Well if you are reading this, you survived that day and will survive many others that come your way.  The way to get through these days is to be strong.  Easier said than done, but if you surround yourself with people you trust and can rely on, there is no obstacle you can't overcome.

It is often said that you are only handed what you can deal with and I believe that is so true. We as individuals have choices we make in life every day... however, some people suffer from illnesses and circumstances which doesn’t allow them to make those decisions, because those choices are being made for them.  If you are one of the lucky ones who are healthy, then you should truly try and live a full vibrant life - free of drama.  In order to make that happen, you need to stand strong and never give up.  If you have a friend or family member who is suffering from an illness such as cancer, alcoholism, addiction of any kind, or any sickness, then your job is to surround these people with love, patience and support because their choices are tougher and many are not completely in charge of their destiny without a great deal of support.  

So this week, give yourself the gift of standing up and taking control of your life, your attitude and your direction.  Surround yourself with those who will be on your team, have your back and contribute to the beauty of living authentically.  Let's be there for one another.

If you Lose Your Passion You May Lose your Way!

Always be upfront, talk to me, tell me the truth and we will work through it.  I also say to everyone on my team, if you lie to me our relationship is over.  Why does this seem so hard?  My answer is simple – most people can’t handle the truth.
— Cindy Novotny

I hope that anyone working for me finds their job completely fulfilling and worth the ups and downs in a growth company.  But with that said, there is always the person on the team who is ‘faking it' and acting as if everything is fine when it is not.   I have always been the type of leader who wants full transparency and honesty and I am clear about it while on-boarding new people.  Always be upfront, talk to me, tell me the truth and we will work through it.  I also say to everyone on my team, if you lie to me our relationship is over.  Why does this seem so hard?  My answer is simple – most people can’t handle the truth.

You want more money?  Work harder, take on projects, be open to feedback, come up with new ideas and don’t sit around waiting for the next paycheck. 


Recently I had to deal with some internal conflict regarding an employee.  This caused me to think about my team and our future direction.  In doing some research with the HR Specialist on our team, I was shocked to find that according to a 2017 Gallup Survey, only one-third of U.S. employees feel engaged at work. That means, only one of three workers brings a consistently high level of initiative, commitment, passion and productivity to their job. That leaves the majority of employees less than satisfied with their work.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME????

Digging into this a bit deeper, I found that some people feel stuck doing the same thing and question the next move in their career.  What was also interesting is that people who feel stuck and are not engaged are doing nothing about it themselves.  They are not talking to their leaders, creating new lines of business, coming up with new ways for the company to make more money or save on operational costs.  They just sit back and wait for someone to make things better for them.  The dark side of this downward spiral begins when the employee stops contributing to the existing team or company and starts working on their ‘side business’ while staying employed with you.  Not wise, not smart and certainly not ethical.   

So if you are stuck in your career or not happy, here a few tips that will help you change things up or get you ready to resign before you spiral downward!

1.      Assess what you really want out of your work at this point in your life.

Is this a career, a job or a real calling?  I do what I do because it is a calling.  Of course I want to make money but I love the business of helping others, training, developing people and I also love traveling and seeing the world.  What do you really want and are you willing to sacrifice for it?  Are you willing to do the heavy lifting (even if there is a part of the job you don’t really like to do) in order to keep growing?

2.      Re-imagine your job.   

Don’t wait for your leader to do this for you.  Come up with new ways to create a better version of yourself.  What unique skills do you bring to the table that will benefit the team, the company and your clients?  Recently we had 2 people on our team who have been with us for years switch their jobs.  They are learning new skills, bringing different energy and ideas to their new roles.

3.      Have a real conversation with your leader and be ready for authentic feedback. 

Maybe you will hear things you don’t like, but if you want to grow in your career you will need to hear the truth.  Keep in mind that staying true, ethical and honest will guide you into the future.  It will give you the foundation to grow and always be happy at work.  The Ethics Resource Center in Washington D.C. says the top unethical behaviors in the workplace today are:

  1. Misusing company time
  2. Abusive behavior
  3. Theft
  4. Lying
  5. Violating Company Policies

None of these seem that hard to avoid, yet even the most trusted colleague can lose their way!  Don’t let this happen to you!

The Comeback of Wolves!


The revered (and sometimes reviled) gray wolf has made an unprecedented resurgence within Yellowstone National Park, and I couldn’t be happier.  I have always loved wolves and even as a person who owns a farm and is concerned with livestock – I love the stamina of a wolf.  In many cases, I relate to this animal as I too find that we all make comebacks and when we do, we are stronger than ever.

Some people like me cherish the wolf as a symbol of strength in the wilderness, while others I know rage against them as they prey on their cattle, but in the end there is no one who is not mesmerized by the beauty of the wolf.

Since the wolf restoration project in Yellowstone, wolf watchers trek across Yellowstone looking to spot their favorite pack of animals.  Wolf watching in Yellowstone is an economy worth an estimated $35 million/year.  Now that is great tourism!

In the 1880’s, Teddy Roosevelt who was known for being a top conservation president in American history wanted to rid the land of wolves.  He grew up on a ranch, lived in a saddle and thought the wolves were beasts of desolation who killed his cattle and ruined the land.  Even in the wildlife park of Yellowstone they were unwelcome.  It is said that rangers in Yellowstone shot the last wolf in 1926.

Wolves have never been as big a danger to humans as other animals - in fact grizzly bears and cougars are far more dangerous to campers and hikers than wolves.  But that was then and this is now.  In 1973 the Endangered Species Act was implemented and the gray wolf was now protected. 

So now the business lesson from wolves:

Sharing the Work!

Every member of the pack does not want to be the leader (or boss), but each wolf takes a share in the leadership responsibilities where necessary. During a difficult journey in the snow for example, the pack leader starts as the trailblazer, but then other pack members take turns to lead, allowing the former leader to rest.  This is how a real team should work - with loyalty to the end.

Wolf pups are trained from an early age to assume their part in the leadership of the pack, because their life depends on it.  This is the same in high performing organizations and families.  Team members of any organization or family must be prepared not only to carry their own load but also to assume greater leadership at any time. The success of the team depends on it. 

Wolves have the attitude that everything they do is based on what is best for the pack.  I don’t believe that 100% of the time, every single person on my team would think like that.  There are those who definitely think about what is best for MCA but there are those who think about themselves first.  This type of person won’t last long in the pack or on my team.  A wolf pack member "understands his/her role and understands exactly what the pack expects of them".  In business this should be the same. 

Successful teams have the right perspective and right attitude, and it is obvious when it is not a good fit.  There is a delicate balance between ‘pack mentality’ and allowing individual contribution.  No matter how small or large the organization is, each person should contribute to making the organization better.

Perseverance and purpose:

Wolf packs have only a one in 10 success rate when hunting but when a hunt fails, they don't brood, they get on with the next hunt and the lessons learned from their mistakes become part of the wolf's collective knowledge base.

We need to be more like wolves when it comes to disappointment and conflict.  Learn from your mistakes and get on with it. 

Last but not least is something dear to my heart – Training and Loyalty!

Wolf pack elders constantly teach and mentor the younger wolves and all members of the pack take a role in training the young.  Remember the young is the future.  When a pack loses an older member, their role can be quickly filled by another wolf – their succession planning is beyond impressive.  As mentioned earlier, they are loyal to the end and truly have each other’s back – do you?


Lose Sight of the Shore!


I am currently enjoying a wonderful week in Northern Michigan and as I sit on the beautiful beach of Lake Michigan it reminds me of my messages all this week.  My social media theme for the week was about being an entrepreneur and never being lazy.  My #mondaymentormoment was based on Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote on laziness and it was also my #thursdaythought.  

I am constantly aware of the massive strength of the Great Lakes.  Those who only know the oceans may not realize how mighty these lakes are and how many huge ships have been taken down by the wicked storms that cross these waters.  I grew up sailing these Great Lakes and learned from an early age that I needed to respect their strength.

My dad always told me to avoid the storms I could not handle, and weather the storms that I ran into.  Fishermen, yachtsman, skippers and Captains of all the freighters that sail these waters know the dangers of the lakes and the terrible storms they can encounter, but they are brave and never let these dangers give them a reason to hug the shore.  

This is an entrepreneurial person on full throttle.  I believe in taking things head on – the work, the pressure, the fun and the rewards.  I will lose sight of the shore and I will always be looking for fresh, new open water.  Let yourself dream about how you can change direction and finally let go of your fears and lose sight of the shore. 

Don’t Let Future Generations Ruin Your Business!

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This week I visited a true Texas establishment – The Salt Lick restaurant outside of Austin, TX. In true Cindy fashion I am always looking for the story behind a business and how it relates to life today.  I am a strong believer in writing down your goals, dreams and aspirations, but know that you need the muscle and hustle to put those goals into reality.

Here I share with you the story of The Salt Lick hustle!
‘In the 60’s, Thurman Roberts traveled constantly across Texas working for a bridge construction company.  He dreamed of spending every day where he and his family had put down roots in Driftwood, TX.  One day, he and his wife Hisako took out a legal pad of paper and wrote 54 things the family could do for a living to stay in Driftwood.  

The idea for The Salt Lick was #14 on list.  So in 1967, Thurman (who was known for his great barbecue at family reunions) cooked meat for paying customers with his son Scott in a huge barbecue pit.  He would go to the pit on Thursday nights and cook throughout the weekend, sleeping on a cot in the evening until the meat ran out.  

He kept coming home earlier and earlier every night as the meat would run out due to all the customers trying to get in.  After a few months they built a screen porch around the pit and The Salt Lick grew from there.  

What is most important to know is that Scott Thurman’s son is The Salt Licks current owner.  He is running the business as successfully as his dad.  Not much has changed except how big they have grown and their online orders.  

There are many businesses that are built by one generation and destroyed by future generations.  Don’t let this happen to you and your business… 

The first generation builds the business, the second makes it a success, and the third wrecks it

Developing Confidence!


Confidence is part skill and part attitude.  You gain it over time, but when you lack confidence you can tend to overcompensate and come across as arrogant or even difficult.  The best way to gain confidence is to be open to learning, ask for feedback and get coaching.  We all get overwhelmed during our day to day lives, so if you get it in your head that you are not good at something or can’t do something as well as others, you may be losing what confidence you have and it will take some positive thinking to get it back.  

Here are a few tips to help you be confident:

  • Think positively. The more you focus on what you can’t do, the more intimidated you’ll feel. Look at a new challenge not as a threat, but an opportunity to learn new things.  
  • Pay attention.  Observe how others work, act and lead. Focus on how they use humor, silence, and charisma to influence others — then customize that behavior to your personal style.  
  • Be bold but not bossy.   Hold your head up high, walk tall and sit up straight. Your body language conveys a lot about you and your ability to do the job.
  • Watch your attitude.  You can’t ever afford to show a negative attitude and that positive attitude will always give you confidence.  There are many people who tend to say whatever they feel like saying and this can affect your future.
  • Stop negative ‘self-talk’.  Don’t put yourself down in your head.  Give yourself ‘kudos’ even if no one else is
  • Ignore gossip.  There are many people who love to spew gossip meant to hurt others.  Never be that person.  Stay away from the fray!

Steal Like an Artist


A few weeks ago in my Monday Mentor Moment, I talked about authenticity and the importance of being the “real deal” – not a copycat. Last Week at #engage17 in Grand Cayman, we actually learned an exception to that rule from Austin Kleon.   He wrote a book called Steal Like an Artist. In the book, he discusses the proper way to “steal” from your competition and use their research to build off of because nothing is original. 

In his book, he says you don't need to be a genius, you just need to be yourself. That is the difference – it is very difficult to ‘steal’ an idea, one that you have no experience in and try to make it your own.  There is creativity everywhere, and creativity is for everyone. He says, “The writer Jonathan Lethem has said that when people call something “original,” nine out of ten times they just don’t know the references or the original sources involved. What a good artist understands is that nothing comes from nowhere. All creative work builds on what came before. He mentions that nothing is completely original. It’s right there in the Bible: There is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9).” 

So here are my thoughts on “stealing like an artist”

  1. Give credit where credit is due ALWAYS – don’t just copy someone without telling everyone where you got it or learned it
  2. Use the “so what” test and the chart below
  3. When you take someone’s idea, do it with honor
Creativity is not a talent, it’s a way of operating.
— John Cleese

So, do you want to learn how to be the real deal and steal like an artist? Buy his book!

Life is Like Learning to Skip Rocks!


I love skipping rocks on the lake in Michigan during the summer.  I've spent many summers looking for the perfect smooth, thin, flat and circular rocks to use in my attempt to master the art and as I sit in my bungalow in Grand Cayman overlooking the beautiful blue waters, I realize that the waves would make it so hard to skip rocks here. 

Well, this is a bit like life.  When you spend your life looking for the perfect set up, the perfect person, the perfect landscape and the perfect life, you end up frustrated when the waves are too big to even skip your ‘perfect rock.’

Hear me out.  Life is all about ups and downs and it is not always perfect, but we each have the ability to try and create what ‘our own perfect life’ looks like.  Just as skipping stones, here are the tips to a good stone’s throw:

1. Get into position – stand sideways by the shore with your non-dominant shoulder closer to the water.  Bend your knees so your toss will start lower, nearer to the surface

  • a.      Life conversations – get in the best position to start off the conversation at the beginning
  • b.      Don’t dominate the conversation
  • c.      Lead in nearer to the surface of the issue

2. Create speed – lean back and swiftly whip your throwing arm across your body.  The more oomph you put behind your toss, the more skips your stone can make

  • a.      Life – get on with the tough issues fast – don’t hesitate.  Whip into the issue
  • b.      Give the issue all you’ve got and throw yourself into it with follow through
  • c.      The more you put into these relationships and conversations the more easily the next one will come

3. Add some spin – roll the stone off your fingertips so it rotates toward the water.  Spin will help the rock skim over the surface rather than sink to the bottom

  • a.      Life – let the words roll off your tongue with passion
  • b.      Occasionally you need to spin your thoughts or viewpoints of a life situation so you don’t risk sinking

4. Let it fly – hurtle your stone down and out.  The rock should meet the water the way an airplane lands – at a shallow angle with its front end tilted up

  • a.      Life – let life go and fly away with positive results - don't worry about being perfect
  • b.      Not all stones will skip well and not all conversations and life situations will go well
  • c.      Just remember that the goal is to land safely in all aspects of life and not sink it

Let’s Get Ready for Summer Festivals


As we round out spring and get ready to kick off summer, I can’t help but get excited about festivals that will take place all over the world during the summer time.  Since my childhood I have spent most of my summers in Michigan -  #puremichigan and it is a tradition I have continued to this day.  The end of May and beginning of June is when we celebrate summer’s sweetest smelling blossoms over 10 days during Mackinac Island’s Lilac Festival.  This year it is on June 9-18, 2017.  You will want to plan a quick trip to northern Michigan immediately.

If you have not had the pleasure of smelling fresh lilacs, you have missed out on welcoming summer to your life.  I am lucky as we also have several large lilac bushes on our farm in Iowa.  So if you can’t make it to #puremichigan this year, then let’s see what other festivals you can visit around the globe!

  • Glastonbury | Pilton, Somerset, UK; June 21-25 - Join 150,000 people who come together to listen to great music, dress up in silly outfits and have a wonderful time on a farm in Somerset.  Rain or shine this festival is like no other.
  • Nothing says festival more than Chicago – join in on the fun at Lincoln Park Greek Fest on June 2-4. Yiasou! The annual Lincoln Park Greek Fest in Chicago, Illinois, is a cultural celebration of Greek heritage and traditions smack dab in the middle of the bustling Lincoln Park neighborhood. The three-day event features live musical performances by traditional Greek acts and buzzworthy emerging bands, authentic Greek favorites with modern twists such as spiced feta spreads, lamb sliders and pastitso. Additional attractions include hands-on kid’s activities and arts and crafts. Opa!
  • And finally back home in Orange County, California (where I call home a few weeks a year) - Sawdust Arts & Craft Festival June 30-September 3rd – Laguna Beach, CA. Enjoy local artists, classes, and hands on demonstrations, food and the fabulous scenery of Laguna Canyon.  Nothing beats a day at the Sawdust Festival.



These are just a few ideas to get you started.  As you travel and visit new places this summer, remember to try something new, experience life in that city and have fun! Life is meant to be lived like a local and local festivals are the real deal

Lessons From a Beauty Mega Brand!


Several years ago in my hometown of Rancho Santa Margarita, CA the new Ulta Beauty opened.  I had been in a few Ulta stores in the past to pick up some makeup or hair products but now that it was right in my neighborhood, I decided to go in and really check it out.  What started as a curious look around became an experience that made me one of their best customers for the past several years.  They were the reason I left my high end salon and now I get all my services for hair and facials at Ulta Beauty.

Ulta, (who started out as a sleepy discount brand) has now become a force to be reckoned with as a leading cosmetic retailer.  They have surpassed Sephora to become the nation’s largest beauty merchant, opening more than 200 new stores and expected to open 300 more in urban centers by 2019. 

As a business leader myself I was interested in their success which I attribute to the dynamic leadership of Mary Dillion, Ulta’s CEO.  She focused on the two most important aspects of running a successful business: the customer and the employee

We have been teaching and implementing that concept for years and it is quite simple; take care of the employee and they will take care of the guest or customer.  In fact, in my Ulta Salon,  they call us ‘guests.’

Keeping this culture alive is not easy when you are opening so many stores, but if your on-boarding and training process is solid, you will be successful. 

In addition to remarkable service, it is the engaging in-store experiences that keep me coming back for more.  While getting my hair colored I can browse around the store and try out samples, get my make-up done, learn how to use new tools such as the new Dyson Supersonic hair dryer and visit the Benefit Brow Bar.  I get bored very easile, and sitting in one spot while my color is processing is so boring to me.  At Ulta, I get an experience, not just a service. 

So ask yourself – how can this concept work in your business?

Act Your Age!

 I truly believe I am a boomer with a millennial mind.
— Cindy Novotny

How many times do we remember our parents telling us to act our age?  I don’t know about you but I've heard it a few times over the years.  As I sit in meeting after meeting focusing on the mindset of the millennial, I often chuckle to myself that they ‘should act their age.’  What do I mean by that?  Simply stated – ‘you are 25 years old, graduated with a double major, have not worked in the trenches forever or if at all and you expect to join a company, get a fast pass to the top and become the most remarkable person on the team.’ 

Ok, makes sense.  That is exactly how I felt at 25.  I knew more than my boss, had more energy and was going to take on the world.  Fair enough.  I believe in everyone rising to super stardom and they don’t even have to pay their dues if they are truly remarkable.  

But what I am finding is that today, there seems to be an unbalanced view of work.  Sorry folks but the word is work.  You can’t achieve your goals or 'have it all' if you don’t work hard.  Forget paying the dues, it is about paying the price.  You can’t party all night, oversleep, go into work tired the next morning and expect work life balance.  We have to get the job done on the client’s time frame.  Depending on your career choice, that might mean weekends or nights and extensive travel where you are away from your family.  If you can’t take that pressure, you need to look for another career.  But I have news for you, there are few careers out there that will tolerate your demands without impressive results.

What makes you so remarkable?  What makes you better than the rest?  Everyone is searching for the ‘perfect life’ but few put in the effort.  You could be a great artist, but how do you become the best and stand out in this world if you don’t work hard and get people to buy your work?

So why do I say ‘Act Your Age?’  I truly believe I am a boomer with a millennial mind.  I have become very successful by being curious, staying open to new ideas and not getting stuck in my ways.  I am never arrogant in thinking I have all the answers.  I feel like a child every morning when I wake up; new day, new people to meet, new places to travel, new food to eat, new conflicts to get involved in.  Then at the end of the day when I put my head on my pillow, my boomer brain analyzes it all to get me ready for tomorrow.  

These days we are all busy trying to balance it all.  There is more stress in my life today than there was years ago and I always thought it would be the opposite.  I know that my experience, my tenacity, my faith and my hard work ethics will keep me going and nothing else will.  I can’t take a ‘gap period’ and go away for a sabbatical for one year. I cannot change my schedule and still be successful.  Therefore, I won’t tolerate anyone who wants to take the easy way out.  Life is not easy, life is not fair, but I refuse to believe that there is an easy way out.  

I am young at heart but wiser in my convictions.  I am strong and I am open to new ideas.  What I am not is lazy, average or mediocre.  If you don’t give 150% today, regardless of your age, you will get back what you put in.  I don’t know about you but I want a bigger return on investment with my life!


Send Your Goals into The Universe!


Last week I spent the day in Galveston, Texas speaking at The Galveston Island Tourism Summit.  The theme was all about ‘May the Force Be with You” as it was on May 4th.  They gave us papers with instructions to make a paper airplane and write our biggest goal on it before we put it into flight.   It was fun, but scary knowing that someone in the room was going to get my goal with my name on it and hold me accountable to it.  That is really the only way you will ever meet your goals;  You have to put them out there for everyone to see.

So here are some tips to help you do that:

1.    Write down five goals that will impact your life and help you grow this year

2.    Write down at least three realistic alternatives to problems you are facing

3.    Write down the most important goal you MUST achieve this year

4.    Write down the impact of not accomplishing that BIG GOAL this year

5.    Get buy-in from others around you

6.    Write down what you heard from your ‘circle of trust’ and increase your commitment to make these goals by involving others in your actions and strategies

7.    Schedule a follow-up every week (not every month) with a ‘stake holder’ so that you are held true to your commitments

As we say at Master Connection Associates and even in our own home...

“Go big or go home!"

Take Charge of Your Life - NOW!


Are you the type of person who likes to take charge of their life?  Do you like to have control?   Regardless of the answer, you must own who you are and decide who you want to be in the future.  I like taking charge and being in control.  Does everyone in my life like that about me?  Not really!  I believe you have to be the type of person who is true to yourself, but willing to compromise for the important people in your life.  Be real and authentic - if that means you are a ‘bad-ass’, then own it.

You have probably all seen all of the Facebook quizzes that ask you about yourself.  There were two this week that stood out to me.  I didn’t share them on Facebook but I will share it with you now.   At first I thought they didn’t really fit me, until I shared them with people close to me who said – ‘oh this is you.’ 

So here is what Facebook said about the Type of Girl Cindy is.

“Cindy is the kind of girl that likes to be in control.   Nothing can stop her from being herself.  She slays the dragons that get in her way, but her bad-ass attitude will protect those close to her – always!”

Yep that is me.  I am that girl.  I will fight to the end to win business, take care of my family and do the right thing every time.  Do I make mistakes?  You bet I do.  Do I own up to the mistakes?  Oh yes!  So as you set out this weekend for a few days of fun in the sun, reassess yourself, your actions and how you will continue to change in order to take control of your life.  Don’t let anyone get in your way and never give up your destiny to anyone but you.  You make the rules and you live the life!