Graham Crackers and Homemade Chocolate Frosting

My mom always made homemade cakes for our birthdays when we were growing up. There were eight kids so that was a lot of birthdays and a lot of cakes. She usually had some frosting left over and my sister would pull out the graham crackers and dip them in the leftover frosting. What a treat!! If we'd been little entrepreneurs at the time we would have developed Dunkaroos - packages of cookies and frosting for dipping - but Betty Crocker beat us to it.

I have a journal that a friend gave me years ago with a note to write down all of the creative ideas I have. There are now hundreds of ideas on those pages. I occasionally go back through the book and am amazed how many ideas have already been produced by someone else - like the card holder for little kids' hands, the puppy carrier that straps on your chest and the beach lounger with a built in book holder. One friend once suggested to me that I write down all of my ideas in a book and publish it - All the Ideas I Never Had Time to Work On - and let other people run with them. That idea is still on the list.

We have so many ideas for new products or processes for the corporate environment or our personal lives that stay stuck in a journal or a folder or in our head. Why do they stay stuck there? The reasons are as numerous as the ideas. We may have thought at the time that the idea didn't have any merit so we put it aside. Possibly, we wanted time to develop it a little further before we shared it and we never found the time to reflect on it. Maybe we were afraid to speak up because we aren't comfortable bringing ideas to high level people at work that can give the go ahead? And what happened? Someone else came up with the idea later and ran with it, improved the work environment or processes immensely and now they are in the position we wanted to be. (Or with household products or games - maybe they are now a millionaire advertising their idea on the Home Shopping Network!).

What do you do with the ideas that pop into your head? How do you determine if they deserve your time and attention? How do you prioritize when you will address them? What one thing will you do going forward to make sure your ideas are heard and given the opportunity to thrive?

Beyoncé - Feyoncé - Put a Lawsuit On It

There is a retail store in San Antonio that sells wedding related merchandise and has been selling t-shirts, sweatshirts and mugs bearing the Feyoncé mark.  One mug reads "Feyoncé - he put a ring on it". 

Beyoncé filed suit against the San Antonio, Texas-based defendants earlier this year, alleging that they “have willfully traded upon the goodwill and notoriety of Beyoncé, arguably one of the most famous musical artists and entrepreneurs in the world” by offering for sale an array of “infringing merchandise...” This week the courts handed Beyoncé a loss, saying that consumers are unlikely to confuse her name with the Feyoncé brand. 

I think the merchandise is fun. I think their idea is super creative. Is it an infringement? - well - the courts ruled it wasn't. 

Most ideas are actually not new. They are a modification or improvement or they built on other ideas. There are many ways Beyoncé could have responded to this situation. Her Company chose the lawsuit route. I see other options - one being a partnership. These Texas ladies came up with a very innovative play on the song and Beyoncé name. Beyoncé might have connected with them to partner on the merchandise - increasing her good will and fan base and supporting the business.  

I have a friend that makes and sells yoga leggings. She was wearing them to a yoga class she was attending and a fellow yogi inquired about her pants. She shared her business and passion in a private conversation with that woman that was overheard by the yoga studio manager. She was reprimanded and directed not to discuss her business in the studio. What?! The studio could have realized that members really liked my friend's pants and offered to partner on selling the pants in the studio instead of policing private conversations (in which you are allowed to discuss anything you want to). 

So many times we push to be right and make the other person wrong instead of stepping back and seeing opportunities to work together. 

What are your stories? What opportunities have been missed because of the knee-jerk reaction to correct and be right instead of seeing opportunity. What is at risk?

It's Elementary My Dear Watson

I attended a play at the Alley Theatre recently here in Houston with family and friends. The play was Holmes and Watson. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was tired of writing about Sherlock and wanted to get into other things so he killed him off in 1893 - both Holmes and his arch enemy Moriarty went over a cliff and died. Or did they? There was such an uproar from the public that Doyle eventually brought him back.

In this play, three men in an asylum all claiming to be Sherlock Holmes are discovered and Watson is called in to determine which one is the real Sherlock.  At the beginning of the play Watson introduces himself and shares what he has been called to do. You are immediately wrapped up in the situation, believing everything he says. 

But is he telling the truth?

It turns out he wasn't. But because we were initially led to believe that he was in the beginning we accepted that at face value and went through the entire play observing the story as if the real Watson was the man that introduced himself. How different the play would be if we went back to see it again knowing who he really was.

The same is true for The Sixth Sense that came out in 1999. In the movie, a boy who communicates with spirits seeks the help of a disheartened child psychologist. It's ok for me to reveal it after all this time that the psychologist was actually deceased in the movie and didn't realize it. But the first time you saw the movie you had no idea. And once you knew the catch, and went back to see the movie again - it was such an interesting watch from the new perspective.

We are all so quickly pulled into situations accepting things at face value. We need to go a little deeper and stay open to possibilities. How easily our lives get influenced by our first impressions. What a great risk it is not to question and remain curious. Stay aware - stay curious my friends. 

Go the Extra Mile

I bring cold eucalyptus scented towels to my Sunday indoor cycle class as a treat for the participants. Why? About two years ago I stayed at a hotel on the beach with some friends for a few days. Every day while we were out at the pool they brought around cold scented towels. They were a welcome relief from the heat. As I enjoyed their cooling effects I thought they would be a great treat for my cycle class members. So when I returned home I purchased some washcloths and essential oils and made a batch for my next cycle class. They were such a hit, I still continue the process. 

The other day, a young woman came up to me after class and thanked me dearly for the towel. She said she wouldn't have made it through class without it. She loved my class and the towels. She said was about to leave class at the halfway point (it was about that time I brought them around), but the towel saved her. She then proceeded to tell me that ever since she went through chemotherapy for breast cancer she couldn't tolerate the heat and 30 minutes of cycling was all she could handle at a time. I was so glad I was able to give someone exactly what they needed at exactly the right time without knowing then how much I was really helping them. Isn't that a cool feeling? We probably do it more often than we know, but don't always get told about it. 

She then shared she was going to have some additional surgery in two days and was going to be at the gym working out the next morning in weight lifting class since she didn't know when she was going to be able to come back to the gym. I filed that comment away and told her I would be thinking of her on surgery day.

On the way home I decided to Go the Extra Mile. I stopped at the store and bought a pack of washcloths affixed with a pretty bow and a bottle of eucalyptus oil. I packaged them up in a colorful little bag with tissue paper and put it in the car to take to the gym the next morning. I don't normally go to the gym on Mondays, but decided I was going to get up the next day and attend the weight lifting class that member was going to be in. 

Sure enough she was there, just like she promised herself. I gave her the package and she was delighted to find what was inside. It made both of us so happy. I just saw her at the gym tonight and the surgery went well. She looked happy and healthy. 

We see it and do it all the time. Maybe it isn't so noticeable - because it is part of how you act all the time - or we are not aware of every little thing other people do. I noticed it recently when I visited the bulk discount Sam's club. When I entered the store, there was the greeter getting a cart ready for me, pulling it out of the tightly packed cart line and cleaning it off with a sanitary wipe. How wonderful I thought. But it stood out even more the next time I went to the store and the greeter was just sitting behind a table looking bored. That made the person that pulled out my cart even more special - and it reminded me to pay more attention to noticing people going the extra mile.

There's a Chick-Fil-A commercial airing about a woman with several children that had a hard time getting them all together to get to the Chick-Fil-A restaurant in time in the evenings for family night. A restaurant worked realized her plight and was able to get the family night hours extended by an hour so this woman would be able to treat her family. That is Going the Extra Mile. It first involves noticing - then it takes action.  

I encourage you to Go the Extra Mile and connect with people at a deeper level. What's the risk if you do? What's the risk if you don't?

What's SUP? The Day I Almost Didn't SUP

In July, we visited family in Minnesota - the land of 10,000 lakes. I was talking with my niece, Amy, about plans for the week and we started to throw out ideas around what we could do to enjoy the area. SUP - Stand Up Paddleboarding came up as an option. Neither of us had ever done it so the idea sounded fun, adventurous and a tiny bit scary all packed into one. I suggested we could do some yoga on the boards too, as teaching yoga was one of my many treasured jobs. Amy checked in with her sister by phone for tips and then checked out which lakes had the sport option. We opted for the closer lake. Her sister assured us it was easy to pick up the techniques and the rental company would surely give us a lesson on how to SUP. So we changed into our bathing suits and headed to the lake, still a little nervous underneath our excited facades.

It was a gorgeous sunny day and many people were out enjoying the lake, hanging out on the beach and in the water, We checked in at the equipment rental shack, but were dismayed to find that the wind speed was above the limit for paddleboarding and they couldn't rent to us. Our first reaction was disappointment - we were physically and mentally prepared. Then there were a few seconds of relief - at least on my part - that we weren't going to have to scare ourselves out on the water. We considered just hanging out on the beach to wait and see if the wind would die down. Then Amy, with her growth mindset in high gear, (mine usually is - but that day I was comfortable sitting back and not growing!), said - "let's check with the other lake, maybe their rules are different". She called them and sure enough - their wind speed limit was a lot higher, (me - silently questioning if that was a good thing or a bad thing), and we headed off to the other lake. 

We arrived at the new location, a bit busier but just as beautiful (what lake isn't!), and headed toward the rental shack. Once we were checked in, we were directed to the paddleboards on the beach. The young man let us know the guy down by the water would show us what to do. We grabbed boards and headed toward him. He set mine out on the water and told me to step up, placing my feet on the markings on the board and said, "Ok - go!". "What about my lesson?", I exclaimed, "That's it! Just go!", he replied. And so I did. Amy was right behind me, and soon ahead of me though I tried to keep my paddling rate even with hers. It was a lot easier than we both expected. Though there were a few times when the wind blew us off course toward a pile of anchored boats or the side of a bridge (maybe that wind speed was a little high!) - but never too much to handle. We had a great time exploring the lakes and even tried some yoga without falling off. We were quite proud of ourselves. 

I mentioned the growth and fixed mindset above. Fixed is where you believe things are as they are and your personal qualities and capabilities are carved in stone. A growth mindset believes that you can develop your qualities through your efforts, strategies and help from others. I like to apply this here - where my temporary fixed mindset believed our options were limited by one lake's rules and I threw up my hands accepting our fate while my niece's mindset didn't stop there and she set out to explore other options. (What was holding me back? - a little bit of ridiculous fear!). The growth mindset opens up the thinking to be creative and solve problems. It can be applied to our paddleboarding adventure in another way. It wasn't a skill we had and we approached it as if we could learn it anyway. We continued to express that mindset by watching others paddle and imitating their expert moves. 

Your mindset may fluctuate from fixed to growth. If you stay aware you can steer it toward growth every time. What area of your life is in need of a mindset adjustment?

Flip It - Like A Pancake!

Occasionally I treat my yoga class with a format I've dubbed Sock Day! I bring dozens of clean socks to class and give each participant a pair. During several parts of class we put on the socks and do yoga poses, sliding from one challenging pose to another (i.e. from a forward one legged lift sliding both legs back behind us for a plank), playing with creative plank jumping jacks and with other vigorous atypical yoga poses. It is a great fun challenge for all. 

One member delighted in the format and claimed we needed to do it more often. So the next time I knew he was coming to class I decided to bring my socks for a Sock Day. But I had been working late into the night for weeks on a work project and didn't have time to make up more Sock Day pose challenges. So - I decided that we would still do a Sock Day but the members would suggest poses when my list was exhausted. 

And so they did.

And they were great ideas that we played with until we couldn't slide any more.

I flipped the classroom and made the students the teacher. It turned out to be a great idea that I will definitely use again.

I actually heard about it years ago at a training conference. A gentleman relayed a story in which they had a speaker set up for a session at a conference. The speaker didn't show up and they were stressed out about what they would do with the 200+ people gathered to hear him speak. The host ended up having each table in the ballroom select one subject from the missing speaker's agenda and discuss their tips on the topic. Each table ended up sharing their best tip with the whole room. It turned out to be a great alternative. (The speaker had an emergency and couldn't make the event). The attendees became the experts in the room - flipped!

So what can you flip in your organization, during your next speech, or in your work or home project to add creativity and a new twist?

All In - No Exception!

All In - No Exception! Do it or don't do it but if you are going to do it - go all in.

There is a program called Whole 30 - a 30 day program in which you eliminate a number of foods from your diet including sugar, dairy, processed food and alcohol to reset your body. The point is to see how different you feel without those foods in you. Most people lose some weight, feel 100x better and even recover from some medical conditions including skin issues. You basically eat vegetables, protein (meat, fish, eggs), and some fruit. Everything is clean and as close to the source as possible. I eat that way most of the time but do enjoy an occasional Diet Coke (love those bubbles), chocolate every day and I sure can't turn down great bread at a restaurant. 

I first went on the program last summer right before Hurricane Harvey hit. I decided I was all in and followed the program 100% to the tee. To me it was easier than cutting back on M&M's or limiting bread to one serving a day. Most people think it would be so hard but to me - going in 100% left out the decisions and the hemming and hawing that waste time and energy. There were no decisions to make - it wasn't allowed and I wasn't going to eat it. And I was very successful. Within two weeks I noticed significant changes in how I felt - no aches and pain, I was stronger and less tired. It was amazing. I gradually added a few things back but to this day have not had an M&M. I did try a Diet Coke one day when there wasn't anything else to drink - and it tasted like chemicals to me - so that was the end of that! 

Jack Canfield, author of the book series, "Chicken Soup for the Soul" shared many of the struggles in his life including how he got rejected by over 140 publishers. In a video of his I recently viewed, he shares the story of how much easier it is to go all in at 100% versus 99% and says that 99% is a bitch and 100% is a breeze. 

Are you ready to go all in? Take a chance! Take that step! Take that risk!

The steps for taking a risk are - 

·                select your smart/heart goal (S - specific, M - measurable, A - actionable, R - realistic, T - time-framed - Heart - means something to you - ask yourself why you want to do it and you will have the Heart part)

·                get creative about ways to accomplish the goal

·                select a path considering your personal risk-taking style

·                increase your chances of success - with research, taking more time to plan, share risk with others, try a prototype

·                go all in 100% take action!

What do you think? Is it a bitch or a breeze? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. 


What Would Happen to You If You Tried to Follow Every Piece of Advice Ever Given to You?

I was attending a day long women's leadership conference at a local university. It was an annual conference with a few hundred attendees. I remember attending the previous year and wished that instead of all panel discussions on a specific topic, that they would sprinkle a few workshops or presentations by an individual speaker on popular leadership issues. The conference did have a keynote speaker at lunch, which was delightful.

I was sitting in on one panel and one question posed to the panelists really intrigued me. It was about stolen ideas at work and how to respond. Everyone had a different opinion. One person said to pick your battles and sometimes when another claims your idea for their own it isn't worth it to correct them. Another person said to state that you liked how they picked up on your original idea and added their own twist to it and go on to clarify your idea and thoughts on implementation. Others said to address it in private. Each panelist had a different opinion based on their style and personality. It was important for the listeners to realize they needed to take the advice under consideration, assess their situations and determine their own best path. They also needed to reflect on ways they could prevent their ideas from being stolen in the first place. Paying attention to our inner guidance is key.

I also participated on an SPE (Society of Petroleum Engineers) MIT (Members In Transition) panel around the same time. We were providing advice and tips on finding a job, including interviewing and resumes. One person asked how long a resume should be. One fellow said don't worry about that - just get in front of people. A second person said no more than two pages. Another person in the recruiting industry said four or more pages were ok. I said it depends on your experience and what the interviewing company is looking for - that two pages were a typical recommended length but if your career has spanned decades and the job requirements are expansive, you may want to include more. So everyone had a different opinion. It would drive the listeners crazy to try to please all of us or adhere to all of the recommendations.

Following everyone's advice will have you running around like a squirrel, darting from one idea, plan or project to another and you will end up exhausted.

It is ok to ask for and listen to advice. But don't act on it without thinking it through. Pay attention to what parts of it resonate with you and what parts don't feel right. Formulate your own plan forward based on what you perceive to be the best route for you. Copying other people's ways of doing things will not necessarily get you the same results they experienced.

When have you asked several people for advice on the same issue - what kind of responses did you get? How did you decide what to do?

Need a sounding board? Contact me at


There's Risk In Fixation

I've always wanted to own a beach house. Over the years I've rented quite a few in various parts of the country - from the shores of Lake Michigan to Folly beach in Charleston, South Carolina. A few years ago I checked out some houses in Galveston to rent for a weekend yoga beach retreat I was planning. I found one in the second row from the beach that was offset so it really had a front row view. It was perfect and I put my deposit down. It has been on my list as the dream beach house to buy ever since. 

It wasn't until recently that I seriously started to look at beach houses in Galveston to buy one. I searched on-line first and found quite a few I loved. When I was looking at one of my favorites with a roof top balcony and hot tub, a message popped up to "contact realtor" and I spontaneously checked yes. Within a minute I received a call.  I set up a date to meet with her to see the houses on my list. The rooftop balcony one quickly became number one. I decided to rent it out to really check out its condition, inspired by a call from some Michigan girlfriends that wanted to escape the cold. And soon we were sitting on the living room porch looking out at the water. The house across the street caught my attention. Sure enough - it was the house I rented for a yoga weekend retreat a few years ago. No wonder this area and the street seemed eerily familiar every time I drove down it. The beach house I had been waiting for was right there in front of me. I totally missed it with all the other visits to that area. The fixation on the rooftop balcony caused me to totally miss the house that was right across the street.  Unfortunately it's still not for sale - but something tells me it won't be long since I keep coming back to it. 

A few years back I was coaching two executives who wanted to grow their well-established corporate consulting business. One shared his dissatisfaction with a recent airline experience and even detailed the angry letters he had written to the company. I asked if he had considered offering his company’s services to the airline instead of just expressing his customer dissatisfaction. He hadn’t, but in hindsight, thought that would be a great idea. His focus on being frustrated with the airline caused him to miss seeing the situation as a potential opportunity for his business. 

Sometimes it’s hard to remember to look at the big picture. Are you so focused on your current ways of doing or being that you are missing opportunities placed in your lap? Consider intermittent checks from a trusted advisor or coach to help keep you focused yet open to possibilities. Focus on the tasks at hand, but remain open to other ways of accomplishing the tasks or other beach houses to buy! There's a risk in being fixated!

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Parties Get Your Butt In Gear

Our niece coaches a women's hockey team at Stevenson University in Maryland. Students from the hockey team, golf and basketball teams and a few non athletes from the school volunteered to come to Houston to work with Habitat for Humanity. They spent the last week up early every morning working til dinner time rebuilding homes devastated by Hurricane Harvey. They did their own fundraising to make enough money to make the trip - 28 of them in all. My niece asked my husband if he would cook for them on their last night and of course he said yes. He spent two days cooking brisket, chicken, pulled pork and stuffed jalapenos along with his famous macaroni and cheese. I contributed chocolate chip cookies and brownies. But I also did a few major things to the house that I had been procrastinating on. 

Our back yard has been in need of a landscaping makeover. I called our friend/landscaper and asked for a yard update. I was delighted he was able to spruce up the place in time for our party. I also got into some boxes in the garage that had been sitting there for quite some time. Some boxes contained CD's from years of teaching fitness classes, others had old workbooks from business classes, and a few were full of pictures from the beginning of time - our time at least. I was amazed how many I was able to get through - with all of the "stuff" ending up in a save, dump or donate pile. Uplifting! The third area I was able to take action on was the old patio table and chairs. The chairs were starting to rust a little as well as the table though they were still functional and looked fine to the casual observer. When I looked up patio tables to find a new one, conversational patio sets also came up. I already had a few wicker chairs with cushions and decided to add two more with a love seat and ottomans. There was also a table that went nicely with the set. And there you have it - a "new" backyard ready for summer parties.

What I love about having parties at the house is that it almost forces you into doing things you know that you want to do or need to do but just haven't found the impetus to get them done. They become a driving force - a strong motivator to get things done. You find more energy than you ever had to make it to the party deadline.

There are so many things we are procrastinating on for different reasons. There is risk in not getting things done. Maybe that potential loss is enough to get you moving. If not, how could you apply the party lessons to your story? There are a lot of why's and what's behind it. Part of it is the deadline staring you in the face. Part of it is the way you want things to be when you are done making your adjustments. What will motivate you to stop procrastinating and finally get those things done at home or work?

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