Cindy Novotny

Zero to 260 mph

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As many of you know, I am the type of person that goes from zero to 100.  I like to get on with it and love getting things done as quickly (and as efficiently) as possible.  Life is so busy for most of us, but it is worth it when we stay productive and on top of it.  The most successful people are the ones with the go-getter mentality!  I’m talking about those who push through, don’t give up and those who use their failures as lessons of growth.

But what most of you DON’T know is that at a very young age, I was able to visit the pits at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  And let me tell you, it was such an incredible experience.  It was right about the time when electronics became more reliable for the teams to use two-way radios for better communication.

The reason I bring up that story relates to my blog today. This week I was able to work with the amazing Capitol Auto Group up in Salem, Oregon.  It is so much fun to spend a few days with a client who really “gets it.” In addition, I even got to enjoy my love of cars and racing as I spent time speaking to over 300 employees about drive, commitment, sense of urgency, enthusiasm and ambition.

But to top off the night, one of the service managers invited me to visit Gregg Lawrence’s ( garage where he and his team of mechanics were taking apart an A/Fuel Dragster.  I was able to watch these talented men work for an hour and see how quickly, yet efficiently they move.  The car that I watched be taken apart has to be back up and ready in two weeks to race.

As I spent an hour just in awe, I also learned about the incredible amounts of money that is put into this.  I mean hundreds and thousands of dollars go into just the tools!  This is the kind of hobby that can only become a business if you WIN.  What most people in this industry are trying to do is figure out how to make money in a hobby like this, while knowing that it is also an extremely competitive sport.

When you invest your own money into a sport or hobby that will bring you nothing in return unless you are first to cross that finish line, it can be an extremely scary thought.  But how will you know if you never put yourself in that situation?  Sometimes you do have to take a risk to be able to do your best to win the race and accomplish what you wanted from the beginning.  It’s the same way with your job today.

Do you have the drive, ambition and guts to make that final push as the car does as it comes out of the pit?  Because in all reality, in a race like the Indy 500, pushing yourself to make it through the 500 miles with your timing on point is crucial for you to win.

So do you have what it takes to push yourself in your 500 mile race when you get out of bed tomorrow?

Living with Greater Courage

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It is very difficult for me to write my blog today.  As most of you have heard, I held off on my blog last week because my dear son-in-law passed away.  With that being said, I knew I had to deal with it but I also needed to focus on the light.  I believe John Kane’s passing has touched the world.  He brought light to what so many people sadly struggle with.  John’s work with the PTSD Foundation and Camp Hope helped so many combat veterans deal with so many problems.  Earlier this week, Camp Hope held a beautiful service in honor of our beloved John Kane.  During this service, I was touched deeply when listening to the stories about how my son-in-law saved people’s lives.  He truly was one of a kind.

I had no prior experience in dealing with this.  Now I know so many people who have struggled at different times in their life.  Because of this and all the stories I have heard, we must slow down.  Pay closer attention to our family, our friends, our neighbors and colleagues.  Someone standing right in front of you could be struggling, and by you paying attention could give them a hope they feel is missing.

A month ago when I was working in the UK, the entire country was focusing on mental health for the entire week I was there.  I was shocked when I read all of the information about how many people suffer with mental health issues, and most of them never fully confront their issues until it is too late.

I believe we need to continue to bring this topic into the light of day.  To show that it is not something that should be whispered about, ashamed of or only discussed with therapists.  We all need to find the courage to help those around us who may be battling demons – realize that everyone has something going on.

There always seems to be a wake-up call that gives people the ability to make major life changes, but for some it is too late.  So what can you do?

1. Start having real conversations with your loved ones.

2. Develop positive thoughts to share with people you know have some issues.

3. Live a great life – Live one day at a time.

4. Don’t let society push you in the wrong direction.

5. Take charge of your destiny and know that the truth will always win.

I also want to take a minute and thank all of you for your kind words, thoughts and prayers during this extremely difficult time.  I am so blessed to have such a beautiful and strong daughter and blessed that she has one amazing angel watching over her.

 “Life is no brief candle to me.  It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to the future generations.”... George Bernard Shaw


Stop Wasting Time!


I don’t know many people who haven’t read Stephen Covey’s book ‘7 Habits for Highly Effective People.’  But I do know many people who didn’t implement any of the ideas from the book.  Taking control of your time means taking control of YOU!

Stop talking about time management because you can’t manage the watch or the clock – you can only manage you.  So what I will talk about today is how to stop wasting time by managing yourself.  Stephen Covey talks about focusing on what is important but not urgent.  You and I both know that staying healthy is important, but missing a work out is not that big of a deal.  Missing a deadline could cost you a client.  But missing one work out will not cause you immediate health issues. 

We all have 24 hours in a day and many of us accomplish more in 8 of those hours than most accomplish in a week.  Why?  Because we focus and manage ourselves. 

So as summer approaches and we want to have more time to spend with our family and friends at the beach, you need to take my tips and get on with it.

1.    Stop spreading your work out over the day – put your to do’s, plans, projects in buckets on your calendar and do them each one at a time.  This means blocking out one hour at the most and not checking emails, answering your cell phone or letting anyone interrupt you

2.    Carve out time in the morning or late day for social media – not all day long

3.    Plan your work out when you know you can REALLY do it

4.    Eliminate distractions during the day that take you away from your goals so you can take that Friday off to go the beach

5.    Swallow the big frog first.  If you have never heard that saying it tries to give you a visual of why you should do the most important things first.  Picture having to swallow 5 frogs.  They are lined up in front of you.  They range in size.  There is one big toad that you can’t even imagine swallowing so you save it until last.  Imagine after swallowing 4 frogs what it will be like to finish off with that huge, ugly toad!  Do the most important things first and the rest of the day will be a breeze

6.    Stay the course.  Hold yourself to the schedule and if you have to reduce your scope – do it but stick to the schedule always

Life is a journey of never ending goals.  Remember you must live it with energy and zest if you wish to create unbelievable memories!


The Story of The Bamboo Tree!


Since I am in Korea this week we have been talking a lot about of the strength of bamboo so I thought I would share the story of the bamboo tree with you.

Like any plant, growth of the Chinese Bamboo Tree requires nurturing – water, fertile soil, sunshine. In its first year, we see no visible signs of activity. In the second year, again, no growth above the soil. The third, the fourth, still nothing. Our patience is tested and we begin to wonder if our efforts (caring, water, etc.) will ever be rewarded.

And finally in the fifth year – behold, a miracle! We experience growth. And what growth it is! The Chinese Bamboo Tree grows 80 feet in just six weeks!

But let’s be serious, does the Chinese Bamboo Tree really grow 80 feet in six weeks? Did the Chinese Bamboo Tree lie dormant for four years only to grow exponentially in the fifth? Or, was the little tree growing underground, developing a root system strong enough to support its potential for outward growth in the fifth year and beyond? The answer is, of course, it’s obvious. Had the tree not developed a strong unseen foundation it could not have sustained its life as it grew.

The same principle is true for people. People, who patiently toil towards worthwhile dreams and goals, building strong character while overcoming adversity and challenge, grow the strong internal foundation to handle success.  While people who try the ‘get-rich quick’ scams and the charlatans who pretend to be something they are not, and even the lottery winners usually are unable to sustain unearned sudden wealth.

Do you have the patience to gain your strength and keep growing? 


Why I Love Traveling


As many of you know I am always on the road for my job.  This week has been even more exciting than most.  I flew to London and each night when I finished my sessions we jumped on a train and headed to a new city in England. 

I have heard from so many people say that my job is so stressful.  Running from offices to train stations in heels, getting on the train, making conference calls and getting in after 9:00 pm each night!  I LOVE it.  Different cities, different cultures, different food and lovely landscape along the route. 

I organized my travel bag for this trip well before we started.  Normally my lip gloss is tucked in between my USB cords, my power pack is not re-charged, my train tickets are buried under stacks of files and I am a ‘hot mess.’

Not this time – I used my best travel tips on myself. 

I love my Tumi carry-on but it is heavy, so I am on the lookout for a lighter version of my favorite bag to make traveling easier.  I have been looking at a few different websites of new companies like Away at their new carry-on bags.  There are so many options.

Let me know if you know of a light carry-on for computers and work versus clothes!

So that takes me to my other message of traveling today.  I really don’t have a bucket list as the world is on my list.  I also want to take travel back to a much grander time when you were excited about your upcoming trip.  Where you dressed well, thought of travel as personal transformation and were curious.  I want to live my whole life and be present on all my journeys – not living in a bubble acting like a know-it-all.

Get out and enjoy this fabulous world, even if you jump in your car this weekend and explore your own back yard.


Keep the Standards High to Motivate Your Team!


There is a misconception that a tough leader is not motivational.  This in fact, is simply not the case.  Employees are always observing their leaders and with that, sets the tone for their development. 

If a leader doesn’t walk the walk, talk the talk and hold themselves or others accountable; no one else will either.  Setting high standards and living to those standards separates the good from the great.  High standards and work ethics lead to high performance.  Low standards lead to low performance and lack of commitment. 

I believe that my energy, work ethic and high standards not only energizes my team, but also motivates them.  Those who do not agree with my approach most likely would not fit in.  As a leader of your own business, department or region, it is up to you to set the bar.  But you also have to remember that it goes both ways.  With that said, the members of my team who are the most self-motivated give me the motivation and energy I need in order to continue being successful not only at my job, but also as a leader.  They are the ones who step up, give ideas and are true in their feedback to me.

But in all honesty, I am not a perfectionist.  In fact most of the time it is my team that finds the mistakes and areas that need improvement.  I consider that the highest standard ever.  Being a tyrant or nitpicker is not my style.  I just demand that we all give the best every day and do whatever it takes to be excellent. 


What Can You Learn from 7 Year Olds?


At MCA, we believe in “walking the talk” of our ethos every day in our line up and we help our clients focus on their non-negotiable standards. So, you can imagine how impressive it was when I visited my 7 year old nephew’s elementary school in Texas and witnessed this very thing!!!

Every morning at this elementary school they do something called ‘Rise & Shine’.  This is where all K-5 grade students join in the cafeteria together for their ‘morning lineup’.  Each grade is announced and every child participates.  They know their songs, chants, and act as part of the team at their school while learning to treat everyone with respect.  These kids read their 8 expectations out loud, stand for our Pledge of Allegiance and the Texas Pledge.  They have a joke of the day, chant of the week and also read through everyone’s birthdays.  This was Bradford’s role… a 7 year old kid, standing in front of hundreds of students with no fear because these are his friends.  They all felt together, equal and loved.  They were disciplined, sat in line correctly and listened to the kid who was talking.  There was no division.  They know what is to be expected of them and they will handle themselves in the RIGHT way – making RIGHT choices.



The Dolce and Gabbana Style

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I am so fortunate that I get to travel the world and meet remarkable people everywhere I go. Today was special though. Who would have imagined that on a sunny afternoon in Sardinia, Italy I would find myself enjoying lunch by the seashore, dancing to the music of Italy all while sipping Rosé with none other than Alfonso Dolce, the CEO of Dolce and Gabbana?!

...Dolce and Gabbana are considered the inventors of a Mediterranean style that draws its inspiration from Sicily. 

At the beginning of their career, the designers turned to Sophia Loren, Claudia Cardinale, and Stefania Sandrelli for inspiration. The Dolce & Gabbana woman is unbiased and brazen, but fearful of God and devoted to church and family - an attitude typical of southern Italian Catholicism.

A Dolce & Gabbana woman is one who simultaneously reveals and conceals brassieres and corsets, lace, lingerie, veils, and who is disturbing in her impetuous sensuality; a provocative woman proud of her body.

I just love this!!!

The designers' models are soft, round, and full-figured (love this too).  They were not looking for a retro look; however, Dolce & Gabbana turned to the past for innovation. The designers remarked, "We want to use the past to project it into the future.” 

In past blogs I have talked about fashion and how it represents business today.  I wrote about Brooks Brothers and their ability to sustain for over 200 years and how today they have moved from ready to wear, to made to measure.  Dolce and Gabbana is a perfect example of the explosion of Italian “ready to wear” but with style, creativity and versatility.  This brand has exemplified how to stay relevant in the world of couture fashion and not lose your sense of authenticity.

So here is my question to you...  How can you apply this to your business?


Falling in Love with Uncharted Travel

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Today I drove from Houston, Texas to Sikeston, Missouri with my friend Shelley Marlow and my parent’s wonderful Malamute, Charley. Why? Because every year my parents leave the heat of Texas and enjoy their summer in beautiful northern Michigan - that’s why!

What I realized during my drive is that I love the scenery of our country. The rolling hills, Bluebonnets, farm land and the vibrant green woods. For me, this is uncharted travel at its best. My normal travel consists of planned flights, Uber rides to a hotel and flights to the next destination.

Although I love my life, I thoroughly enjoyed my 8 hours of driving north today and will equally enjoy it tomorrow as I continue north to Michigan.


I love packing my bag and heading to a new destination and this wanderlust only grows deeper the older I get.  Sure - when you are a millennial it is so fun to pick up and go.  No kids, pets, or worries.  But if you plan better you will end up with more money to make memories.  So no matter your age, pick up and go when you have the freedom to do so.

Here are some of my tips for you to ‘pick up and go’ -

  1. Save money for a spur of the moment trip
  2. Don’t make too many plans
  3. Be open to try new things
  4. Don’t be afraid to travel alone – I do it all the time and meet so many people
  5. Travel pushes you out of your comfort zone - be ready to grow as a person too!

As I left my parents’ home at 4:00 AM in their van with their dog, I watched them wave goodbye as we pulled out of the driveway.  No matter how old I am, my parents still worry.  This was the first time I was driving this trip without one of them.  They wrote out my directions with precision so that I wouldn’t get lost and this gave me the comfort to hit the road and enjoy the ride. 

Get out on the road and enjoy the beauty of life on the road!


If Someone is Drowning, Throw them a Life Ring


The pressure is on everywhere I look.  The pace of work is increasing with less resources than ever before.  I have never heard more sales professionals and executives use the phrase ‘I have too much of a work load.’  Now I hear it every day.  We are all expected to do more in less time.

So what do you do if you have a person on your team who can’t keep up?  First, figure out right away what is causing the issues.  What is the root cause of their slacking? Is it laziness, not understanding what to do or just that they are not motivated? In many cases, this person might be struggling with a new task or devoting too much time to certain projects because they’re a perfectionist. Don’t make assumptions.

Allocating the right amount of time on projects could be the biggest issue.  If that is the case, you need to start each day with this person and review their tasks for the day and what you expect as far as productivity.  Even if you have an idea of what the root cause might be, ask the person directly.

Try being curious and less punitive.  Help them solve their own problems but guide them along the way.  Be direct and make sure they know what is expected of them.

You can’t solve the problem on your own.  You need to involve them in the brainstorming so they will take ownership of the outcome. 

Don’t let one person pull down the team – keep the energy high, the goals on the wall and the excitement to enjoy the pressure along the way.


Wake Up and Smell the Apples!


How do you jumpstart your day?  The old adage of ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away,’ applies to energy as well.  A green apple is said to give you as much energy as a cup of coffee with better health benefits.

When you wake up feeling groggy in the morning, should you reach for an apple or a hot cup of coffee? Apples and coffee are harder to compare than apples to oranges (at least they are both fruit), but both coffee and green apples make you feel energized. 


Coffee gives you a zippy zap in your step because it contains caffeine. One cup of coffee contains about 95 milligrams of caffeine, which works as a stimulant for your brain and nervous system. That stimulation may make you feel more energized, but coffee isn't actually giving your body energy because that cup only contains 2 calories and no sugars or other carbs.


An apple doesn't provide the stimulation that coffee can, but it does fuel your body with more energy while helping to stabilize blood sugar. An apple keeps you going because it contains calories and carbohydrates, as well as vitamins and minerals.

Now you may be mystified at my new take on health, but always remember I am known as the ‘energizer bunny,’ and that happens without going for a run.  I am a firm believer in getting the day started off right and that is a critical first step in my success. 

I have recently started having an apple in the morning before my first cup of coffee and I can actually tell the difference in how I feel.  I drink less coffee, feel satisfied without eating a huge breakfast and have even more energy than before!  Watch out!

So next week just try it – I dare you to give yourself a new boost in the morning that will last all day. 


Happy Friday!


It is beginning to look like springtime and it is time to be ‘happy.’  Not that you shouldn’t be happy all the time, but sometimes you need to focus on what makes you happy and that happens when you have sunny days.  So why don’t you start NOW!?

  1. Don’t compete in life in areas you really don’t care about
  2. Focus on what matters most to you and your family, friends and loved ones
  3. Never cheat at life
  4. Be authentic and true
  5. Give more to your job so you are valued and happy
  6. What is your goal today, tomorrow or for the rest of your life?
  7. Set your sights on being happy everyday
  8. Look at the obstacles thrown at you and learn from them
  9. Know what makes you happy and spend more time doing it
  10. Be gracious, grateful and curious everyday!

The Italian Job

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I have spent several weeks in Italy over the past few months and in addition to the love of their food, fashion, history and art, I am enjoying their creativity and innovation more than ever.  ‘The Italian Job’ always reminds me of the 2003 American remake of the 1969 British film of the same name.  A team of thieves plan to steal gold from a former associate and although it is a remake, the plot and characters definitely differ from those in the original film - taking you to my story today.

For 200 years, Brooks Brothers has created the classic American suit.  I purchased my first Brooks Brothers item 39 years ago when I bought a briefcase there for my boyfriend – now known as my husband Lefty!  At that time it was a big ticket item for me and I had the best time in the store choosing my gift.  Now all these years later, he still has the case, we have the memories and Brooks Brothers is taking on their next chapter. 

With a renewed focus on made to measure, a veteran of Milanese menswear is bringing Italian spirit to the heritage brand.  While in Milan, Lefty and I visited several fine gentlemen clothing boutiques.  Lefty is the guy who no matter how casual business becomes, he is always booted and suited.  *Brooks Brothers Heritage

Lucky for Lefty, he is always in fashion as suits have changed much in 200 years.  Jacket, vest, tie and trousers.  Shoulders have risen; 2 button, 3 button, 1 button lapels; pleats have come and gone and are back again.  The American version has always been a representation of Italian and British flair. 

In 1818 Henry S. Brooks invented the button-down collar and “off the rack” suits and has dressed American conservatives from Abraham Lincoln to Don Draper.  Today, the brand is owned by Claudio delVecchio, son of the founder of the Italian Luxottiaeyewear conglomerate since 2001.  So what is the next chapter of American Suits?

Made to Measure!  Matteo Cavaliere is the new Director of Brooks Brothers Made to Measure program which offers custom suits starting around $2,000.  People today want luxury and they are not afraid to pay for it.  If you are not comfortable in whatever you are wearing, you will never look elegant.  You can’t fake this.

So back to my story and how this is about your business and mine.  ‘The Italian Job’ remake was different but kept the same bones of the original story.  Brooks Brothers’ DNA is woven into the fabric of every suit and that legacy is being kept alive in America with Italian leaders.  When Cavaliere is asked who is better at designing suits, Americans or Italians, he always tells the same story...  “Italian fashion is where it is because of America.  After the Second World War many Italian tailors came to America to work in the apparel industry.  Many returned to Italy with American industrial know-how thus improving their native lands tailoring industry.”  “We want to keep this exchange program working and the tradition of classic tailoring alive.”

When many people think that the traditional, conservative ideas and looks of the past are not for the younger generation, they need to think again.  Companies that produce fast fashion with low prices and only a casual look like the Amsterdam company, ‘Suitsupply’, are losing market share.  Luxury retailers are seeing a swing of younger consumers buying classic looks that will last a lifetime. 

So as you consider throwing all the ‘old fashion rules’ out the window for high-tech technology solutions that take the human element out of your business, just remember how this company is going through an evolution not a revolution and has lasted 200 years. 

I must say Lefty looked very up market this month as we traveled through Europe wearing his suit with a waistcoat.  Classic is always in style.


Spring Clean Your Business


March 20th marks the first day of spring.  For me it marks the end of the first quarter and time to dust off the winter blues and clean up your act! Springtime gets people thinking about getting their gardens into shape and getting rid of the extra winter pounds you put on during the holidays.  But for me I think about ‘gardening my business.’

Here are a few business gardening tips to jump start your second quarter:

  1.  Any clients that you haven’t connected with need a springtime call - or even better send a bit of spring to them.  Grab their attention and personalize what new ideas you have for them.
  2. Spring clean your website - Now is also a good time to clean your site and social selling platforms.  Make sure you are up to date with pictures, links, blogs and ideas.  Put something new and fresh on your site to show you are springing into the future.
  3. Come up with some new offers - A good way to grab ones attention is to come up with some new offerings or packages.  Think about new, fresh ideas that would prompt a new client to call you.
  4. Get outside and meet new people - Attend local shows, events and business meetings in your own neighborhood.  You would be surprised at how much business potential is right under your nose.  Due to travel, weather constraints and other winter obligations you sometimes lose sight of these prospects.  Go out and meet people.
  5. Plan for filling your pipeline by June - You only have 3 months until the half way point of the year.  Get your pipeline as full as possible by June so you do not have to panic for year end.  Push harder in this second quarter so you have time to plan better for next year in the third quarter.

Take Action


Let’s take some action friends.  Nothing in life happens unless someone does something.  There may be someone or something prodding you to take some action and you need to listen to your instincts.

Don’t let the outside world or personal circumstances stop you from being all you can be.  Let’s motivate ourselves away from the masses.  Back away from the herd and the branding iron and lead your own stampede – only a stampede that will get you closer to your results.  We only have 3 weeks left in March which ends the third quarter.

What are you going to do about it?



Who is Your Mentor?


When it comes to mentorship many organizations try and force a ‘mentor program’ which often doesn’t work.  A mentor must be a trusted adviser, someone who puts your best interests before their own.  I am so proud to have my own father as a mentor.  Both of my parents have been incredible role models to me my entire life and in different ways they have become my mentors.  But in business, my father is my rock. His own success in sales, leadership, education and training have helped us build our business and continue to help me thrive in this crazy world. 

In addition to his vast experience in organizational development, he keeps me motivated every week.  Just this week he started sending me daily ‘tips’ on many topics.  The one I received just yesterday is so critical to business today.  We were talking about competition and he made it very clear why so many people fail at selling against the competition.  His point – ‘when you are selling against competitors or they are selling against you, the question isn’t your competitive advantage, it is - are you really competing against them or are they competing harder to win the business?’

Simple but not easy.  Most people give up too fast because they don’t want to fight and compete harder. 

There’s a certain competency ALL WINNERS must possess. I know I have it… do you?  You need the HUNGER TO SUCCEED.  Not once in a while, but every time. In order to do that, the winning competitor knows every strength and WEAKNESS about both the competition and the customer.  So I leave you with this….

  • Be Hungry
  • Be Aware
  • Be Analytical
  • Be Strategic

This was my lesson this week from my mentor.  If you don’t have a mentor – find one!  A few tips when looking for a great mentor:

  1. The relationship is critical and will evolve into a mentorship – not the other way around
  2. Look for character rather than competency – look for self-awareness
  3. Reach out to a person who you feel you can learn from and ask for their time
  4. Become a mentor yourself – you will learn so much from each other
  5. Put egos aside and open up to learning

I am a “Prioritizer!”


Recently I took a survey that said I was excellent at prioritizing.  It made total sense to me because I am able to successfully travel every week, manage many projects and lead an impressive team while still having time for family.  This illustrates my ability to prioritize.  Although I am not what most would call a logical and analytical thinker, I am realistic and get things done.  I use my time effectively and focus on the highest-value tasks, accurately completing significant amounts of work.

Here are some productivity tips to help you get better at prioritizing:

  • Put all to-do’s on your calendar on the date you will do them
  • Streamline your work flow weekly and prioritize daily
  • Use your tasks and to-do stamps on your iPad or computer
  • Invest in apps like Evernote
  • Use “ScanBizCards”, which lets you scan business cards on the run
  • Send yourself voice notes
  • Take pictures of receipts for expenses
  • Plan your day the night before
  • Do revenue producing activities first

Do not become overwhelmed with life.  Grab the reins and live your best life!


The Best Skilled Player May Not Be Able to Win the Game!  


I love the analogy of sports and business even though I am a novice in the sports arena.  But, I still have strong opinions about talent, skill, attitude and strategy both in business and in sports.  In the NFL’s biggest game, with a loud and excited crowd, the old master failed at one play he needed to make while the underdog executed his play to perfection. 

My Super Bowl celebration was a bit different as I was working in Australia.  But, in between meetings on Monday, I watched online what I could.  What I did see of the game proved to me that you can never be too sure of yourself and never be too confident that you will always win.

In business just like sports, there is always a play that changes it all - the very thin margin between winning and losing.  It seems like a small thing to decide such a significant game.  The success of a quarterback catching a ball rather than throwing it surprised the most dominant team in the NFL – just like that!

I read in an article this morning that Eagles QB Nick Foles later said when describing the mental approach that allowed him to handle the moment suddenly thrust upon him,  “You need to worry about the little things.”  YES!

This is music to my ears!  I always tell people, the saying that "you don’t have to sweat the small stuff" is rubbish.  Yes you do, to win!

So the greatest quarterback in NFL history could not beat the ‘career fill-in’; the player the team had to turn to when they needed someone to play while they looked for a better replacement.  Foles was labeled as the worst quarterback Tom Brady had ever faced in a Super Bowl.  Foles stepped up when Philadelphia’s star quarterback Carson Wentz had a season ending injury and ended up as the Super Bowl MVP.

Never rest on your laurels, always pay attention to the little things, improve your communication during the game and stop making so many mistakes.  Lessons learned on the field are also true in the board room.

My Best ‘Aha’ Moments Come When I am Calm!

Definition of aha moment: a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension.

I know I am viewed as an ‘over the top’, energizer bunny, crazy traveling road warrior that goes 100 miles an hour.  But what you don’t know about me is that all my best ideas come when I am sleeping, dreaming and relaxing.  I keep a pad and pen on my nightstand and when I come up with an idea, I actually wake up and jot it down.  You may think this disrupts my sleep pattern and is not a good habit...(and you may be right). 

My research shows that a wonderful way to wake up refreshed despite minimal sleep is to wake up during a period of your lightest sleep.  Being woken up in a light stage of your sleep cycle has proven to make people feel more energetic and alert upon awakening for the day.

We all know that when you fall asleep you experience rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep throughout the night.  The beginning stages of sleep prepares your body to shut down – this is where you can be easily awakened by noise or thoughts.  Then, the middle stage (lasting about 25 minutes) also involves light sleep.  This is where most of my ideas come up and then I write them down. 

This is NOT affecting my deep sleep (REM) as it is the last stage of the sleep cycle – also where you have the most dreams. 

My point to this message is to relax, rest, think, find solitude and create the next brilliant idea.  It may even happen in the shower in which case, you can call out to Alexa or Siri and tell her to record your thoughts!  I always believed in this philosophy; the best ideas and solutions to our problems come to mind when we are quiet and our consciousness is relaxed.  As busy as I am, I find that the best ideas come when I am in a quiet place or with my headphones on, outside just relaxing or simply focusing on my thoughts.

I wish I was the type of organized person who could block out 20 minutes each day to mediate but I can’t seem to do it.  So instead, I find greatness at the wildest times when I least think I have the time to solve a problem. 

Good ol’ Fashion Hospitality Starts in Sales!

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Since I have talked about goal setting this entire month, I thought I would end January with thoughts on how to actually succeed.  Everywhere you look businesses are focusing on getting back to basics, and yet there are some leaders in the hospitality arena who are still trying to be ‘cutting edge’ without considering the actual customer or guest. 

Beyond self-driving cars and robots serving your breakfast, maybe it is time to shake a hand, give a smile and welcome a guest back to your hotel. 

Let’s take the actual customer journey in sales and catering in the hotel industry.  If you are in a different industry, there are many similarities to what I will share.  General Managers, VPs of Sales, and Regional VP’s need to step into the life of a sales professional today.  The inquiries, RFP’s and technology tools (like Cvent, Knowland and LinkedIn) have changed the competitive landscape.  Selling in the industry today takes a ‘back to basics’ approach.  Stop trying to complicate the sales and customer journey with convoluted sales strategies.  Make sure your phones are answered by ‘live people with energy’ instead of having calls go to an automated message.  Make sure there are sales professionals available to take the calls, have proactive sellers finding new business and stop making it difficult for a sales person to quote a rate or a price. 

Every focus group we have done in the past 6 months with clients has supported these same thoughts.  Stop making this so hard!  We are in the hospitality business and we have lost the art good ol' fashion hospitality.  Let’s find it! 

It doesn’t stop at sales.  We need General Managers to act as hosts again, meeting with guests and clients.  We need guest rooms that are comfortable and workable.  If you have the latest in AI technology and Alexa (who knows my every wish), GREAT!  BUT - when the room is so cold and I can’t figure out how to change the temperature without an engineering degree, that is a real problem. 

Beyond self-driving cars and robots serving your breakfast, maybe it is time to shake a hand, give a smile and welcome a guest back to your hotel.