Over a decade of Sandy’s weekly written articles on strategies and motivation for your business and your life.

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In 2005, Steve Jobs gave the commencement address to the Stanford graduating class of approximately 5,000 students.

“I never graduated college,” he began, and then held his audience’s attention as he told three stories.

The first story was about “connecting the dots”.  Jobs told them that even though he dropped out, he continued to attend classes anyway—the ones he liked.  One of these classes was calligraphy.  Years later, when he and Steve Wozniak created the Mac, one of its main selling points (eventually copied for Windows) was that it had multiple typefaces and proportionally spaced fonts.

“If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class,” Jobs informed the graduates, “And personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do.”

The second story was about getting fired from his own company, Apple, at age 30.  This event led to the creation of NeXt, and Pixar, and to Jobs meeting his wife.  Pixar created the first fully computer-animated film, Toy Story, and became the largest computer animation company in the world.

“I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple,” Jobs told his audience.  “It was awful-tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it.”

“Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick,” he attested.  “Don’t lose faith.  I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did.  You’ve got to find what you love.”

The last story was about his first brush with death, when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2004 and told to go home and get his affairs in order.  The stunned graduates listened intently as he told them:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.  Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.  Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.  And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become.  Everything else is secondary.”

Jobs did not succumb to his cancer until 7 years later, in 2011, living by that very advice until the end.

He concluded his commencement address by quoting from the back cover of a popular publication from his youth, The Whole Earth Catalog:


Stay hungry, stay foolish, and keep REACHING…

SUCCESS: It’s about who you’re BEING

Success, however you define it, may not be easy to attain, but what you need to do to be successful is simple.

You’re the boss.  The buck stops with you. If you want your organization to be successful, you have to get it from where it is at “A” to where you want to go–“B”.  And as Dusan Djukich says in Straight-Line Leadership, “A leader’s job is to get to B.”

As in geometry, the shortest distance between point A and point B is a straight line. If there were no forces being asserted against your efforts, you would simply direct your people to move in a straight line from A to B.

The problem leaders face, though, is that there are forces being asserted against your efforts to move in a straight line. Some of them come from realities of the world around us—mistakes, employee problems, unforeseen events, supply shortages, market conditions, competition, etc.

But the biggest forces working against you may be internal—having to do with who you are being—that is, what kind of leader you’re being.  Too often, the problem with staying on that straight line is that you aren’t a straight-line leader.  You might show up as a circular leader. Djukich describes this kind of leader as someone who keeps seeking more information—more than he needs—but won’t act on it.  He keeps circling around looking for more information but doesn’t set in motion the action needed to get to B.  Other leaders show up, he tells us, as zig-zaggers. Zig-zag leaders repeatedly thrust forward on a straight line and then stop to circle around before they thrust forward again.

What you’re doing to get to B is less important than what kind of leader you’re being. It’s hard for any team to get behind someone who is not calling for action or who starts and stops again and again.

Straight-line leaders come from a place of empowerment.  They believe that B is attainable and that they can use their human and other resources to get there.  They say what needs to be said even if feelings will be hurt. Djukich tells us that they’re loyal to the greatness of their people rather than to their smallness. And they keep moving forward, acquiring the knowledge they need as they go and applying it to move forward, rather than stopping and regrouping or changing direction.

Is there a “B” that you’re having difficulty moving your organization toward? Maybe who you’re being as a leader is the problem.

Contact me if I can help you be the leader you need to be and keep REACHING…


Who’s in charge of your business today?

I talk with CEOs almost every day who appear to have two people residing in their bodies:  The Fearless Leader and the Fearful Manager. 

When the Fearless Leader is in charge, she has a clear vision of the company’s future and plans to get it there. She knows she will need to invest time, energy, human resources and money to do it. She understands that she will get there more certainly with investments in training, technology, etc.  She knows there is risk involved, but sees the potential reward as her driving force. If financial resources are tight, she finds a creative way to raise the money the company needs because she’s committed to her vision. And she inspires her people by sharing that vision.

When the Fearful Manager is in charge, even if he sees the value of something that will help him improve business, he is deafened and blinded by his terror. He sees taking an entrepreneurial risk as a direct road to disaster. He sees his Board, if he has one, gunning him down. He hears “expense” wherever the word “investment” might appear to his counterpart.  “If I have to spend money for (technology, human resources, etc.)” he exclaims, “it’s just too risky.”  He closes his creative faculties to any ideas that would generate the resources needed.

There’s no doubt that when the Fearless Leader is in charge of your company, you will do significantly better in the long run. As long as the Fearful Manager is in charge, however, your company will fall further and further behind your competition.

Who’s in charge of your business today?  If it’s the Fearful Manager, fire him. Believe it or not, who you put in charge of your business is a choice you make every day. Keep the Fearless Leader in charge.

I coach business leaders to keep the Fearless Leader in charge.  If the Fearless Leader is in charge of your business let me help you sort out the steps you need to take to accelerate your company’s growth and productivity.  If the other guy is in charge, let me help you get rid of him.

Contact me to help you stay the powerful leader you’re capable of being.  And keep REACHING…

Be First, Be Daring, Be Different

Some time ago, I opened up a fortune cookie at the conclusion of a Chinese dinner and read this:

“To Be Successful in Business Be First, Be Daring, Be Different.”

I dropped the fortune into my nearly empty tea cup. But then it struck me that this little slip of paper extolled the exact advice I give many of my clients—not just about business, but about careers and as a way to live their lives. It really did say something about someone’s future! I dug the wet fortune out of the cup with a fork, dried it off and saved it.

These days almost everything on the market has become a commodity–like apples in a supermarket.  If you want one, you look for the juiciest one you can get at the lowest price. You don’t particularly care what farm it came from or who the distributor is.  Twenty or so years ago, if you wanted a computer, your choices were an IBM (First), an IBM “clone” (Daring), or an Apple computer like the MacIntosh (Different). Today, however, if you want a computer, you may still want a brand name, but unless it’s an Apple (Different), you are unlikely to care which brand name it is. In other words, name-brand computers have, for most of us, become . . . well . . . expensive apples—commodities that are not unlike fruit in the supermarket.

Has it happened in your industry? To you? Does your business or product or service look to your customers and clients like supermarket fruit? Is the only way you can think of to compete by price, resulting in smaller margins, less revenue and significantly weaker client/customer loyalty?  When you’re First or Daring or Different, your competitors are the supermarket fruit, but you’re not one of them. You’ll attract the people who don’t want just any apple. They want YOU.

Take a stab at being First, Daring or Different:

  1. Change your business. If you’ve been telling people you run a [whatever you do] business that works with anyone and everyone, stop doing that.  Be the number one company in a category.  Be the one that dares to _____.  Be the only one around whose fee structure is _____.  First, Daring, Different.
  2. Articulate your unique value to your customers. With so many choices, why should they be working with you and not someone else in the same business?  Do what you can to keep price from being the distinguishing factor.
  3. Get help with your brand, your leadership, and your services. Turning yourself from an apple into anything else is never easy. That’s one reason why top executives hire coaches.

Whether you get help or not, to be successful in business be First, be Daring, or be Different. And keep REACHING…

What’s your WHY?

“People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.” ~ Simon Sinek

Leaders who have worked with me know that I believe that business owners and professionals need to be crystal clear about their answers to three questions:

  • Who do you work with? (Who are your customers/clients?)
  • What do you give them that they want or need? And
  • Why will they buy this product or service from YOU (and not someone else or using some do-it-yourself workaround)?

In his eye-opening TED Talk several years ago, author Simon Sinek talked about how communicating your WHY is the most important factor in growing your business.  Sinek drew what he called the “Golden Circle”:

“Most companies sell from their WHAT,” he told the audience. He used computer companies as his example:

We sell great computers. They’re beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly. Wanna buy one?

“The most successful companies,” he continued,  “sell from their WHY.” He used Apple as his example:

[In] everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo.  We believe in thinking differently. (WHY) The way we challenge the status quo is making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user-friendly. (HOW) We just happen to make great computers. (WHAT)  Wanna buy one?

Sinek went on to tell his audience that leading with its WHY allows Apple to sell other electronics products with similar ease, while other well-known computer and peripheral companies had difficulty launching related products.

What’s your WHY? What do you believe that drives what you do and who you do it with? Once you are clear on that, you can talk about WHAT you do and HOW you do it.

If you want help figuring this out, contact me. And always keep REACHING…

P.S. If you’re interested, you can find Sinek’s talk here:

I disappeared quietly…

I’ve been inspired to write this today by my daughter, Madeline. I just posted it to Facebook.

While there are people who don’t want to know about all your trials and tribulations, Madeline told me, there are also people who would feel badly if you excluded them from the important things in your life—good or bad.

And some, she continued, might just find some comfort in a share about something that makes their own lives seem pretty good.

At the beginning of October, I abruptly stopped writing my Blog and e-letters. I stopped posting on LinkedIn. I stopped regularly posting on Facebook and on my pages.

I had just started working on my biggest coaching challenge in years when an oncologist confirmed that I did, indeed, have cancer again—for the third time. The prescribed treatment included 42 daily radiation sessions and injections. My life was consumed with travel to and from the hospital waiting to be strapped down for those treatments. I didn’t want to blow the new coaching assignment, so that (and being with my family) was my only other focus for the next several months.

But I didn’t share all of that. I didn’t want to put it in the faces of Facebook friends and my e-letter “family”, many of whom probably didn’t want it in their faces. I didn’t want to see little teary-eyed or angry emojis. So…I disappeared quietly.

My first blood test last month was a zero. Never was a zero on a test more welcome.

I’m sharing this today because Madeline may be right. Maybe a friend who didn’t know about it will feel better that they heard it from me. And maybe, by sharing the story of my struggle, I can make someone feel better about his or her life.

You tell me.

For as long as I’m able I’ll help people get what they want in business and in life, and together we’ll keep REACHING…

Leading vs. Managing


Image credit: Pixabay

Leading and managing have become so synonymous with each other in our language that an employee might refer to his boss as either. But the two terms are not interchangeable.

RetailerNow offers succinct definitions for leaders and managers: leading serves as the heart, they propose, while managing acts as the brains.

Managers come up with the vision for the company and then establish systems in order to enable their team to reach the goal they have set. They establish measures to determine whether or not their team is staying on track.

Leaders, on the other hand, inspire and motivate the group to work together to achieve the objective. They monitor the progress of the team, urging them on to meet those goals.

So, is a good CEO more of a leader or a manager? According to BFS Capital, he or she should have both skillsets. It’s important for CEOs to be the visionaries for where they want their company to go. At the same time, however, they need to do their part to motivate and inspire their employees so that they are excited to get into their work every day.

This is particularly true in small companies–especially startups.  In larger organizations with larger resources, leadership and managerial roles may sometimes be handled by different individuals. provides a helpful guide that differentiates the tasks performed by managers and leaders so that the people performing these functions will better understand what is expected of them.

A recent Forbes article also provides some examples that help CEOs recognize the difference between the responsibilities of leader and manager in a company. The article focuses on Coca-Cola’s CEO Doug Ivester, who makes a conscious effort to provide direction and guidance to his managers so that they can make decisions over matters under their control.

The article points out that in any organization, there should be a clear understanding between CEOs and their managers with regard to who performs which roles so there won’t be any overlapping. It also stresses the importance of collaboration, pointing out that neither the leader nor the manager will be able to perform his/her job effectively without working closely with the other.

While in any organization, roles should be clearly defined, the CEO still retains the ultimate responsibility to be both a leader and a manager. But what if a CEO is good at only one of these skillsets and not the other?

In ’What Will You Earn Your ‘Oscar’ Doing?’, I talked about the importance of mastering your craft. If one of these aspects–being a leader or a manager–is not natural for a CEO, he should look to develop these skills.  By consistently self-reflecting to see his weaknesses in one or both areas (and, of course, working with a coach) he can take steps towards improvement.

If you’re a CEO, work on your skills as both a leader and a manager, and keep REACHING…


What’s your compelling message?

This month, I began working with the advisors at a national financial institution under an exclusive agreement which limits my ability to take on new financial advisor clients.  I will be finishing up my work with current advisor clients and will not be taking on new advisors.

I will continue to work with CEOs and professionals in other fields (attorneys, consultants, coaches, etc.) And my e-letters will return to their motivational and business advice roots.

While my regular one-on-one clients are generally entrepreneur-CEOs of companies that have grown well past the $1 million earnings mark, I have partnered with a couple of incredible business consultants to create online learning centers for businesses that are either just starting or established but generating less than $1 million annually: our Business Leadership Training Center and our Business Startup Training Center.

Today’s article is aimed at these smaller businesses and professionals, who often spend most of their time trying to find and convert new customers and clients…

Does Your Marketing Grab Your Prospects’ Attention?

Do your marketing messages compel your prospects to buy what you sell? Do they tap into their basic emotions? Are you leveraging the fact that most prospects buy on emotion and only then justify their purchase with logic?

Your marketing must convince your prospects that you offer “extraordinary value,” and resonate with them emotionally.

Simply telling them that you’re the best at what you do, or that you give the best service or care about them won’t work. You can’t just say you’re trustworthy, reliable and exceptional. That’s the same thing your competition says. Prospects won’t believe you. Instead, you must find a compelling way to educate them as to why you’re trustworthy, reliable and exceptional.

To consistently attract more clients to your business…and to effectively convert prospects into clients… it’s critical that you create a series of short, clear and concise messages that compel your prospects to instantly want to know more. These short messages must focus on the benefits your business provides to them, and on the value you provide that your competition doesn’t. Here’s an example:

“I help confused and frustrated guys find that perfect discounted diamond that has the highest quality, the lowest price and is backed up with the boldest customer protection guarantee in the industry.”

Compelling messages about what you do and the value you provide will have prospects seeking you out for additional information. They’ll be”pre-qualified.”

Find a compelling message that resonates with new prospects. When you have something that works, it can be incorporated into scripts that you or your staff can use to convert those into paying clients.

Effective marketing is the key to small business success, and the small business owner who learns how to do it will dominate his or her industry.

If you’d like to learn more about this and other topics addressed in our inexpensive, powerful online training, take a Test Drive at

And always keep REACHING…


Ask for What You Need.

Let’s talk movies.  My father loved the “lone hero” characters played by Gary Cooper, who faced off with all of the bad guys virtually solo in the 1952 movie High Noon.

To my dad, Cooper represented the idea that action heroes had to find their way by themselves.  Dad believed that strong, successful people don’t ask for help—and while he was always quick to help others, he found it almost impossible to ask anyone to help him.

I loved my father, but he died broke and broken.  And I believe that a large part of the reason for this was his view on what it takes to be successful.

He had missed one of the main points of his favorite Gary Cooper movie.  Cooper’s marshal, Will Kane, asked everyone in town for help—they were just all too afraid to stick their necks out.  In fact, soon after the movie’s release, veteran “lone hero” John Wayne was publicly infuriated that someone had actually made a Western wherein a marshal asked for assistance.  Wayne found a counter-vehicle for himself in the 1959 film Rio Bravo, in which he played a sheriff who didn’t ask anyone for anything.

Personally, I’m a fan of the 1992 movie My Cousin Vinny, with Joe Pesce and Marissa Tomei.  In the ending dialog, Vinny becomes upset when he realizes that he didn’t succeed all on his own.  His fiancé, Mona Lisa Vito, mocks him:

You know, this could be a sign of things to come.  You win all your cases, but with somebody else’s help, right?  You win case after case, and then afterwards you have to go up to somebody and you have to say, “thank you”.  Oh my God, what a f*cking nightmare!

The moral?  Keep trying, but STOP trying to do it yourself.

We all recognize that athletes have coaches.  That’s where the idea of professional and life coaching comes from.  But we are stuck with this archaic view that it’s okay for them, and not for us.  They have special needs, and we don’t.  Do you accept this view?

If not, find someone who you’d want to let help you.  We spend our lives trying to convince other people that we have our acts together, but it’s an achievement to be able to say, “Here’s what I don’t have and here’s what I think is holding me back.  Can you help?”

Whether it’s an assistant, a coach, a therapist, or a friend or loved one you never quite let in all the way, make it your hero’s mission to ask him or her for what you need.  Often times, you don’t need more information to get things done; what you need is more application–an extra set of hands on the challenges of your career, practice, or personal life.  And the motivation to get it all done is often most accessible when you’re working with a teammate, partner, or colleague.

Asking for what you need is courageous–and essential.  Please, don’t end up like my dear old dad did.  Choose to voice your needs to someone–anyone–who can help you accomplish your dreams.

In the meantime, keep REACHING…


I often talk with clients and in workshops about the “success formula” Napoleon Hill shares in his 1935 classic, Think and Grow Rich:

(1) Set a clear goal. What do you want to accomplish?

(2) Develop a detailed plan to reach that goal. Define exactly what actions you will need to take

(3) Take immediate (and, as Tony Robbins would say, “massive”) action on that plan, and

(4) Persist until you reach the goal

I use Edison’s invention of the light bulb as an example:

Edison’s clear goal was to create a lamp that operated safely and inexpensively using electricity as its power source, replacing gas and kerosene lamps in buildings and on streets.

His detailed plan was extraordinarily simple: test materials and combinations of materials until he found something that would not melt, burn or explode and would, instead , safely and inexpensively cast off light whenever and for however long someone wanted it.

His immediate action was to begin testing materials by running an electric current through them and he persisted in that action by continuing to test materials day in and day out for what turned out to be thirteen months (and not 6 weeks, as he had projected).

In his book, Straight Line Leadership, Dusan Djukich adds two important components to the formula: (1) deciding if you are willing to pay the price, and (2) monitoring your actions, making corrections as needed.

The price Djukich is referring to is the willingness to take the specific actions and to persist until you reach the goal. In other words, if it isn’t working, are you willing to keep at it, monitor it and make adjustments until you get it to work, or do you know at the outset that if you run into difficulties, you will stop.

With few exceptions, almost all of the failed projects and initiatives the CEOs and professionals I work with can point to failed for a simple reason: When the specific actions required became too difficult, they allowed the project to stop.

The remedy for this is simple: STOP STOPPING. Starting a project and stopping is not the result of a lack of conviction or desire, or of willpower or courage. It’s a habit—a choice.

If the history of your business is littered with projects and initiatives that didn’t pan out, it isn’t because they were not good projects. It’s the result of either a lack of willingness to pay the price, or the choice to stop when it became too difficult or too expensive.

If you’re taking action on an important goal and you’re 100% committed to it, choose a new habit…STOP STOPPING.

Oh…and keep REACHING...


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