Do You Have A Messed Up Life? How To Influence People’s Lives By Sharing Yours

Photo by Alan Levine

Photo by Alan Levine

I Was One Messed Up Trumpet Player

In the late 1980s, I was an undergraduate trumpet student at a prestigious music conservatory. My trumpet teacher at this school is a well-known principal trumpet of a major symphony orchestra. He is a very natural, incredible musician. In his trumpet career, he has never really encountered any personal playing problems.

I, however, have always struggled with a couple of different playing technique-related issues. My teacher at the music conservatory had no idea how to help me. At the time, he just didn’t have enough teaching experience to help me correct my trumpet playing problems. We struggled through two semesters in my sophomore year and nothing was helping. As a matter of fact, I was actually getting worse with each passing lesson.

After two difficult years in music school, I ended up dropping out defeated and discouraged. I ended up moving back home with my parents, applied at a local university, and changed my major to electrical engineering. I was done with music, altogether.

But then, I connected with a couple of different trumpet teachers who understood my playing problems and were able to help me tremendously. Because of their own personal playing problems, they brought a wealth of experience and knowledge into my trumpet lessons. As a result, I was able to move forward and be successful in my music career. To this day, I owe them a debt of gratitude and appreciation for their help in getting me back on track as a musician. I seriously doubt I would have enjoyed the life of an electrical engineer!

The more problems you have experienced and the more mistakes you have learned from actually makes you WAY MORE qualified to help others.

Experience Is Pure Gold

Interestingly enough, those of us in our 40s who have experienced some pretty horrific failures have the tendency to think we may have disqualified ourselves from being able to help others. We have this messed up view that we have to be “perfect” in order to dispense advice to others.

Believe it or not, the opposite is true.

The lessons learned from your own personal experience make you uniquely qualified to share and help others going through similar circumstances.

Sharing Is Caring

When you care, you share.

And, if you’re over 40, then chances are you have built up a wealth of valuable knowledge and experience.

By this stage in life, you have probably had several failures and a few successes. You generally have a firmer grasp on life than those who are younger than you. For the most part, you have entered life’s “sweet spot.” You have learned from your mistakes and are typically making better choices in your mid-life journey.

There are many younger people in the generations directly behind you who could learn a lot from your experience.

Why not grab some of the younger people in your sphere of influence, especially the ones who are really struggling right now, and take them out to lunch. Listen to their stories and share yours.

Maybe, just maybe, you can help someone in a generation behind you that nobody else can reach.

Question: What life experiences do you carry around inside of you that could possibly benefit others?






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Who Else Wants To Raise Children, Successfully?

Photo by Jose Roco

Photo by Jose Roco

My Daughter’s Essay Was An Important Reminder

“Well, Daddy, I wrote about you.”

My oldest daughter and I were having a quick phone conversation right after school about how her day went. I asked her my usual questions, “How was your day? Anything special happen at school?”

She probably told me that not much exciting happened. Then, I probably asked her a few more questions about some specific subjects. These questions led us into a conversation about an essay she had to write in one of her classes. The assignment was to write about a person you know who has set goals and accomplished them.

She chose to write about me!

Actually, I was somewhat taken back when she said this. A tear showed up in the corner of one eye. We’ve never had any kind of “official” conversation about goals or goal-setting that I can recall. I’ve never shared with her any of my life goals.

I have been a goal-setter pretty much my entire life, though. Somehow, my daughter picked this up from me without words. Over the last 13 years, she’s been observing my actions.

She then went on to tell me my list of goals that I had accomplished from her viewpoint as my daughter. I was totally blown away.

At the same time, I was also reminded that what we do in front of our children has a bigger impact than we truly realize.

Actions Speak Louder

We’ve probably heard this statement a million times, “actions speak louder than words” or “more is caught than taught.” I am still amazed, though, at the number of parents who don’t seem to understand that what they do in front of their kids each day makes a HUGE impression on them, way more than words do.

Your words either support your actions, or they contradict them. Unfortunately, I suspect that many parents have words and actions that are complete polar opposites.

Children are a lot smarter than we give them credit. They listen to what we say, but more importantly, they watch everything we do.

Get Into Alignment

If you struggle in this area of right words but wrong actions in front of your children, then there is no better time to change this aspect of your parenting than today.

The best time to make any kind of parenting change is now; not tomorrow, or when the sun, moon, and stars line up.

Start with a change in just one area. Begin by making just one single positive action in front of your children. Then when that takes hold as a habit over a few weeks, then add another positive action and follow the pattern.

Small changes over time have a greater success rate than trying to change everything about your parenting all at once.

Be sure your actions support the words you speak to your kids. Actions really do speak louder than words.

Questions: Do you struggle in this area of alignment between your words and actions with your children? If so, what small change could you begin with today that would make a huge impact on their development over time?






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4 Ways To Reignite Your Passion Not Only For Your Spouse But For God As Well

Photo by danielmoyle

Photo by danielmoyle

Are You In The Doghouse?

Valentine’s Day and dog houses. For guys, they kind of go together.

This is the day when men are practically required to step up to the plate and hit a home run on this special day of love, or we end up in the dog house, right? Maybe some of you men reading this post right now were in the doghouse over the weekend.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to be extremely purposeful for this Valentine’s Day. I placed the order for the roses in advance. I made the dinner reservations ahead of time. I discussed childcare options with my wife. I wanted my wife to see that I took this day of love seriously. I wanted to demonstrate thoughtfulness and care. I wanted there to be no doubt that I love her.

So, since we just passed the Valentine’s Day holiday last week, I thought I’d share five thoughts I had over the weekend about marriage relationships and the lessons we can learn to apply to not only our earthly relationships, but also lessons that we can apply to our relationship with God.

4 Ways To Reignite Your Passion

1. Show up more. When I was dating my wife, we both had demanding responsibilities and schedules (and still do!). Because we loved and cared for each other, we were always planning our next opportunity to get together for dinner, a movie, or other event. We wanted to hang out. We wanted to spend time together. But, then you get married, life happens, and if you aren’t careful, you end up spending less time with each other. You must be purposeful in spending time alone on a very regular basis to renew and strengthen your relationship.

The same is true with our relationship with God. When we first accept Christ as Savior, we’re hungry to spend quiet time with Him. We can’t wait to be in church for every opportunity to gather with God’s people. But then, as we grow older in our faith, we find excuses to stay away from both our quiet time and from church. We’re just not in God’s presence as often, and the sad thing is that we don’t even really seem to care. We take God for granted. You must be purposeful and resolute in your relationship with God. If you have a challenging schedule, then you need to get God back on your schedule. As the saying goes, on paper, on purpose. Plan your day so that you give yourself enough time in the morning for some quiet time with the Father. Make church a priority. Don’t let other people, circumstances, sports, or other earthly pursuits dictate whether you will be in church each Sunday.

2. Talk more. A natural outgrowth of spending more time together with your spouse should be communication. When you started dating, you guys probably talked all the time. Over time, though, maybe you ran out of stuff to talk about. Sometimes, the conversation flows naturally. At other times, you may need to work at it, but keep on talking no matter what. Treat your spouse as your best friend and share not only your daily activities, but also your hopes, your fears, your very life with them.

God wants to converse with us. He speaks to us through His written Word. We speak to Him through the vehicle of prayer. We must set aside time in our busy day to read God’s Word and pray. My own personal recommendation would be to do it early in the morning before your day gets cluttered and your mind gets scattered. Again, we must make our conversation with God purposeful, otherwise our busy lives will quickly crowd Him out.

3. Give more. I believe the secret to a successful marriage is sacrificial, unselfish giving. When we purposefully plan and give our spouses the very best of our time, energy, and resources, then we end up appreciating each other more. Sacrifice would seem to be a dirty word in this culture. Everybody wants what they want, when they want it, and don’t even bother asking me to give any more than I’m already giving you. I believe this act of giving, though, is the key to success in any relationship. Give, and then be willing to give some more.

God wants us to give back to Him. He wants the “firstfruits” of our life: the very best of our time, talents, and money. But, what do we usually offer back to Him? I bet most of the it’s probably our leftovers. We “tip” Him financially by throwing a few bucks in the offering plate. We make it to church every other week. We don’t read our Bible or pray consistently. We don’t use our God-given talents to further the Kingdom of God, but we waste them on earthly pursuits. How do you think that makes God feel? Are we truly demonstrating that we love God with everything we have? I seriously doubt it.

4. Submit more. Submission is another one of those bad words were supposed to ignore in our modern culture. An attitude of submission, though, is critical for success in any relationship. When I speak of submission, I’m not talking about becoming a doormat and allowing yourself to be abused. Submission is simply recognizing the needs of the other person and putting their needs and desires above your own. A woman’s primary need is love and affection. A man’s primary need is respect. The Bible says in Ephesians 5:21-25, “ … submitting to one another in the fear of Christ. Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body. Now as the church submits to Christ, so wives are to submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her.” I’m not sure why we have made this issue so complicated in our (supposedly) Christian marriages.

In our relationship with Almighty God, He wants our complete submission. He wants us to be completely surrendered to Him and His desires. Once we have entered into a relationship with Christ, we should be completely submitted to Him. Our lives are no longer about living a selfish, self-absorbed lifestyle. Our lives should be about accomplishing His mission through us – advancing the Kingdom of God.

Questions: How’s your passion for your spouse? Are you showing up, talking, giving, and submitting? And how about your relationship with God? Are you really demonstrating a passionate love for Him as well? Do you think He will say to you one day “Well done, thou good and faithful servant?”






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Get Out There And Find Yourself Some Wise, Rich Friends

Photo by MCFlainez

Photo by MCFlainez

Huh?

You’re joking, right Larry? The title on this post seems a little over the top.

Yes, I meant the title to be a bit of shocker, but I’m really only half-joking around about it. Check out the following quote:

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn

While there have been no scientific studies done to substantiate this quote (to my knowledge), I don’t think there can be much dispute on the influence of others on our life. We become like the people with whom we hang out and do life with.

If we spend a lot of time with rebellious, worldly, marginal “Christians” (I’m using this label, loosely), then there’s a good chance we’re going to end up worldly and rebellious.

If we hang out with people who are challenged with a poor work ethic and a poverty mindset, then we’re probably going to adopt that same attitude with our work and finances.

If we spend time with selfish, me-centered people, then there’s a great possibility we’re going to become toxic people and self-centered in our personalities.

But …

If we hang out with people who have a deep walk with the Lord and are engaged in a passionate pursuit of the Kingdom of God, then there’s a great possibility that we will become mature in our own walk with the Lord.

If we spend time with hard workers, abundance thinkers, and people who are rocking their career niche, then we’re probably going to start growing in our own area of expertise.

If we spend time with people who live debt free lives with attitudes of contentment and generosity, then there’s a great chance we’re going to pursue this type of financial mindset and lifestyle as well.

What Scripture Tells Us About Friendship

God’s Word is clear that the people we hang around with do have an influence on our lives, for good and for bad. Check out these verses from Scripture about the importance of our personal relationships:

  • Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm (Proverbs 13:20).
  • Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare (Proverbs 22:24-25).
  • Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
  • Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety (Proverbs 11:14).
  • Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future (Proverbs 19:20).
  • Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17).

Our Friends Will Make Us Or Break Us

The people we hang around with will truly make us or break us. Our friends have the power, the ability to build us up or to tear us down. They can encourage us or discourage us to make great life choices or bad ones. They can give us wise, Biblical advice on how to manage God’s money, or they can advise us to live wealthy lifestyles with no consideration for God’s Kingdom work.

Does this mean we dump all of our current friends in favor of “better” friends?

Maybe. Maybe not.

I would simply do a friend audit. If you have a group of friends that impact you negatively, then yeah, it’s time to drop them in favor of more positive influences in your life. On the other hand, if your friends have perhaps a mostly neutral influence in your life, then you can hold on to them. Over time, though, seek out Godly, positive, wise, hard-working friends who can help you move up to that next level in your life.

Questions: Have you done a friend audit, lately? If you did one, what kind of grades would your current group of friends receive? Passing, failing, or excellent? Is it time for you to get out there and find some more positive, influential friends?

3 Ways We Leave A Legacy, So Make It A Great One!

Photo from City of Boston Archives

Photo from City of Boston Archives

Legacy Building

What do all second term U.S. Presidents and failed, former Presidents have in common? They are all on a quest to build a unique legacy for which they will be remembered in the history books after they have passed away.

The reason I know this? At the time of this writing, we still have alive with us the longest surviving/retired former President and perhaps greatest example of legacy rebuilding: Jimmy Carter. Since leaving office in January 1981, Mr. Carter has been working extremely hard on rebuilding a failed Presidential, personal legacy. He has been busy doing amazing charity work with Habitat For Humanity. He also founded The Carter Center whose mission is “guided by a fundamental commitment to human rights and the alleviation of human suffering; it seeks to prevent and resolve conflicts, enhance freedom and democracy, and improve health.”

But, who can blame former President Carter for working so hard on building a better personal legacy post 1981? President Carter has been branded as one of the worst presidents, especially in recent history. Here’s how Wikipedia records his presidential legacy:

The Independent writes, “Carter is widely considered a better man than he was a president.” While he began his term with a 66 percent approval rating, his had dropped to 34 percent approval by the time he left office, with 55 percent disapproving …

… His administration suffered from his inexperience in politics. Carter paid too much attention to detail. He frequently backed down from confrontation and was quick to retreat when attacked by political rivals. He appeared to be indecisive and ineffective, and did not define his priorities clearly. He seemed to be distrustful and uninterested in working with other groups, or even with Congress when controlled by his own party, which he denounced for being controlled by special interest groups. Though he made efforts to address many of these issues in 1978, the approval he won from his reforms did not last long.

In the 1980 campaign, Ronald Reagan projected an easy self-confidence, in contrast to Carter’s serious and introspective temperament. Carter’s personal attention to detail, his pessimistic attitude, his seeming indecisiveness and weakness with people were accentuated in contrast to Reagan’s charismatic charm and delegation of tasks to subordinates. Reagan used the economic problems, Iran hostage crisis, and lack of Washington cooperation to portray Carter as a weak and ineffectual leader. Carter was the first elected president since Hoover in 1932 to lose a reelection bid.

Ouch! When Wikipedia writers write that about your Presidency, you would be busy rebuilding your legacy, too!

Good And Bad, We’re All Leaving A Legacy

Will President Carter really be able to ditch the legacy of his failed presidency? Unfortunately for him, no, he won’t. But, we will all be able to look back and see that he has done some amazing work after leaving office. He didn’t just roll over, give up, and go on vacation for the last 32+ years. He wanted to make a difference after leaving office, and he certainly has accomplished his mission.

All of us are leaving a legacy each day. Some days, I’m sure our legacy looks amazing. On other days, probably not so much. But, we all have a daily opportunity to leave a legacy to those around us through what we say, through what we do, and through what we give.

3 Ways To Leave An Amazing Legacy, Today

We leave a legacy by what we:

  1. SAY. Our words have an impact on those around us. Proverbs 15:1-2, 4 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly. The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.” We have to be so careful with the words that come out of our mouths! Just remember that people will remember those words and attitudes behind your words. Maintain a positive, loving attitude with the words you choose! Also, related to this area, we live in an amazing time in history where we can leave our very own personal words to succeeding generations through written digital documents, as well as audio and video recordings. I don’t know about you, but I know little to nothing about my grandfathers and great-grandparents. I think it would be a really amazing to hear their voices and see them on a video recording. I would love it if they had compiled some Jones history in their personal journals. In today’s digital world, you have an amazing opportunity to leave a part of yourself to the next generation!
  2. DO. Our actions really do speak louder than our words. 1 John 3:17-18 tells us, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” It’s easy to tell people that we love them and that we’re praying for them. It’s hard, though, to take the time out of our busy schedules and help others. When we do, though, this is what people ultimately remember about us. Be proactive and take time today by loving others through your actions.
  3. GIVE. We will be remembered for what we gave while here on this earth: our time, our talents, and our treasure. Proverbs 13:22 states, “A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.” If we claim to be a follower of Christ, then our lives should look like His. Our Lord was the ultimate giver; He gave His very life for us! Give of your time and energy to your spouse, kids, and friends. They will definitely recall the time you spent with them after you have gone on to be with the Lord. Give financially to your church and those in need. Also, be proactive in setting up your estate planning to give financially to both your earthly and spiritual families when you pass from this life to the next.

Questions: So, how’s your legacy building going? Like former President Jimmy Carter, have you been diligent in creating a better legacy?

The best legacy building happens proactively, on purpose. Don’t forget to both say AND do, today! Write stuff down regarding your family history. Compile all your writing journals, audio and video recordings and keep them in a secure location. Keep your legacy legal documents up to date. Leave an amazing legacy of love to those you leave behind.

Provide Massive Value First, Then Go For The Ask

Photo by jamesbastow

Photo by jamesbastow

Asked To Complete A Survey

One morning here recently, I was sitting at my iMac doing some writing, and an email came through from a social media/business networking company that I subscribe to. There was nothing outstanding about this email. It was pretty simple and straightforward. In fact, here’s what it said:

Dear Larry Jones,

Thanks for being a member of [company name]! The [company] Research team is conducting a slightly different kind of survey. The 7 to 12 question survey allows you to write answers based on what comes to your mind first after reading the question. Don’t think about your answers too much and feel free to keep your answers short. Your top of mind feedback will guide us in developing products and services to help you.

To take part, please respond in the next two business days. We will close the survey once we receive the desired number of qualified responses.

Please click here to begin the study.

We appreciate your time!

Best Regards,
[lady’s name]
Market Research Lead

See, it’s exactly as I said. A very simple, straightforward email. What I found interesting, though, is that this email immediately pushed me to take action.

Normally, on an email such as this, I would make a mental note and say to myself, “yeah, when I have an extra five minutes, I’ll fill out this survey.” But, not this time. I immediately stopped what I was doing and turned my attention to completing the survey for this company.

One could make the argument that it’s a well-written email with the claim of an easy-to-complete survey with a tight deadline to complete it. Yeah, I can see how that was part of my motivation to complete this quickly for them.

But, for me, the real reason I wanted to jump online and complete the survey is that I really like this company. I have received a lot of value from them. I appreciate what they do for me, personally and professionally. I can’t live without their product. I want to help them improve and become even more successful

You see, when you provide massive value to people, it’s easier to go for the ask and then ultimately get the action you desire.

Provide Value First

I believe the currency of our new economy is adding value. And, you must add a lot of value, too, over a lengthy period of time.

A quality, successful blog is a lot like this. You need to provide months, many times even years of high-value content before you can truly reap the benefits of the time and energy you have put into your content. Michael Hyatt’s blog is a good example of this. He’s currently riding a financial tidal wave of success based on years of blog writing with very little to no monetization on the front end. He built is tribe over several years, and now he’s receiving the financial reward from his tribe.

Of course, building relationships is key to anything we truly want to accomplish, whether it is a quality blog, influential ministry, successful business, or loving family. We must go above and beyond to provide massive value to those whom we influence.

Then hopefully, after we provide value to others, people will read our blog posts, follow our leadership, buy our products, or feel loved and appreciated. It’s as simple as that.

How Do We Add Value?

Adding value to others can be a challenge. I’m not going to over-simplify this. In 20+ years of leadership, I’ve noticed that every personal and professional relationship in the area of adding value varies from person to person.

With some people, you need to add tons of value with them before they completely trust you. For others, you may have an immediate, personal connection, and then they’re willing to follow you to the ends of the earth.

Here are some quick thoughts on adding value with people:

  • Be present. Show up. The only way you can add value in building relationships is to be present on a regular, ongoing basis.
  • Be energetic and magnetic. Is slow and lethargic inspiring? Probably not.
  • Have personal, meaningful conversations with them. Quality communication is key to developing any and all relationships
  • Follow-up quickly. If you promised to do something for someone, make that turn-around time as fast as humanly possible.
  • Provide WOW content. Your sermons have to be amazing. Your blog posts have to be killer. Your products have to be world-class. Your leadership has to be decisive and compelling. Your love must be unconditional.

Once we have added value, once we have gained the trust of those around us, then we can start the process of asking. The starting point, though, is always providing high value to others.

Questions: Are you doing a lot of asking for stuff and not receiving a whole lot in the process? If so, have you examined the value you are providing for others? Has your focus truly been on adding value into people’s lives or simply making the ask?

8 Characteristics Of An All-Star LinkedIn Profile

linkedin_logo_11I Love LinkedIn

I was recently accused by a buddy of mine of having too slick of a LinkedIn profile. With a sly wink, I said “No way. I’m sure mine’s a pretty basic profile.” I was exaggerating though. Over the last few months, I have purposely put a lot of work into creating an above average profile.

I love LinkedIn for a lot of different reasons. It’s a great social web platform that allows professionals to make professional connections instead of just friends or followers. These same professionals also publish some great articles as well as post links to articles out on the web.

It’s also a great place to have a quasi-home base platform to showcase you as a professional. I view a quality LinkedIn profile as an online resume on steroids!

8 Characteristics Of The Best LinkedIn Profiles

Over the last several months as I have been designing my own LinkedIn profile, I have read one book, scanned several web articles, and viewed the profiles of other professionals. I believe the following 8 characteristics represent the best practices of stand out profiles.

  1. A recent, decent photo of yourself. Now, you would think that this small, basic item wouldn’t need to be included, but there are a lot of boring profiles with no photos. C’mon people. Uploading a simple digital picture of yourself is not that difficult. People that want to make a connection with you would really like to see what you look like. Just do it already!
  2. An interesting summary. What makes you, well you? What unique qualities do you bring to the professional world? Don’t just list a bunch of certifications you have. Really tell us what makes you an all-star employee, writer, business person, etc.
  3. Quality recommendations. If you’re a half-way decent, friendly person and have enough pull with people, you can politely ask several of your best LinkedIn connections for a recommendation. Ask them to focus their recommendation on your personal character and specific, best work practices.
  4. Projects. See if you can add 3-4 larger-scale projects in which you have been heavily involved. Also, try to link up fellow team members who are also on LinkedIn to these various projects with you.
  5. Link up projects and recommendations. Link the proper projects and recommendations to the appropriate positions of experience you have held or currently hold.
  6. YouTube videos. If you have any decent video clips of you doing what you do, then you need to get these uploaded to YouTube and linked up to the appropriate work experience. I recommend using Apple’s iMovie to edit your videos as needed. So, for example, if public speaking is part of a particular position or passion, then you need to put a video of you speaking in public. If you’re a musician, then you need to get a video of you playing your instrument, and so on.
  7. Publications. In the information age, you should be known for publishing something, anything, whether it’s your personal blog, business writing, ebooks, or traditional print publishing. Get these listed and add samples and links to your work wherever possible.
  8. Get some endorsements. A unique quality about LinkedIn is that people can give you quick, little endorsements on your various skills and abilities. I put this last on the list, because personally for me, it’s just way too easy for people to endorse you for any and all areas of skills and expertise. I have a bunch of endorsements from people who barely know me, so I question the overall credibility of them. But, there are others out there who believe they are useful to get a snapshot of your best skills and areas of expertise.

My Profile

My personal “front door” profile can be viewed at: http://www.linkedin.com/in/joneswlarry

You can view all 8 of these characteristics on my own profile if you are connected with me on LinkedIn. If you are not a connection, then I extend an invitation to connect with me.

Questions: So, what do you think of my list? Am I missing any additional important characteristics of a quality LinkedIn Profile?

How’s your profile looking? What do you need to add or fix to your own profile?

How To Organize Your LinkedIn Connections On A Free Account

LinkedIn-InBug-2CRev500+ Connections And Counting

Over the last several months, I’ve become a big fan of the business/social network LinkedIn. I’ve had an account for a few years but didn’t really understand how to use it properly.

While I wouldn’t say that I’ve completely arrived, I believe I currently have a much better grasp of the importance of this business networking application. I really appreciate the great tools LinkedIn has provided its users to create killer profiles. I have also enjoyed making over 500 professional connections over the last few years.

Since I continue to make a number of unique connections each day, I’ve been curious as to how I can organize this massive group of people into various categories based on where they live, how close of a connection they are, what industry they work in, etc. I also like employing the Pareto Principle in my networking efforts and spending the most time and energy on my top 20% of connections.

I initially considered upgrading my LinkedIn account from Basic to at least a Business account so that I could organize my contacts into a maximum of five separate folders. At $19.95/month billed annually though, this was too expensive for my usage.

So, I did some more research on the free account. I discovered there is a way to organize all your connections through the use of tags at no cost!

Using Tags To Organize Your Connections For Free

LinkedIn provides a wonderful little tags tool to organize your contacts for free. Here’s the step-by-step process to organize them:

  1. From your profile page, look at the top menu bar. Here you will see the follow categories: Home, Profile, Contacts, Groups, Jobs, Inbox, Companies, News, More.Screen Shot menu
  2. Place your cursor (arrow/pointer) over the Contacts category. You should have at least two links underneath: Connections and Add Connections. Click on Connections.Screen Shot pre
  3. Now you should see the following screen shot. In the center of your screen, you will see an alphabetical listing of all your connections. Select a specific connection you would like to organize.Screen Shot 1
  4. Now, in your connection’s info to the right, you will notice a link that says “edit tags.” Click that link.Screen Shot 2
  5. Here, a small dialog box will appear where you can create new tags or select tags already created. In my screenshot, you can see that I have tagged my connection to Phil Holmes as “friends” as well as “Worship Ministry.” You can be creative as you want in tagging and organizing your personal connections!Screen Shot 3
  6. Once you have completed tagging your connections, you can go to each tagged section over in the left side of your screen in order to view a particular grouping of your contacts.Screen Shot 4

That’s it. It’s that simple and it’s completely available in your Basic free LinkedIn account.

How Do You Organize Your Networking Connections?

Most likely, there are some additional ways you could work around the organizational aspects of LinkedIn connections without having to pay for a premium account. I’m aware that you can export your connections completely out of LinkedIn into a separate software application such as Microsoft Outlook.

So, how do you organize your LinkedIn connections? Do you have additional information to share with the community based on your own unique experience? I’d love to hear your thoughts and processes.






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Two Life Secrets I Learned From The Quotes Of Zig Ziglar

Photo from Zig Ziglar’s official website

Zig Ziglar Goes Home

Last week, the world lost one of its most beloved motivational speakers – Zig Ziglar. Zig passed away on November 28, 2012, from pneumonia. In the last five years, he has struggled physically from a brain injury after a fall down a flight of stairs.

Zig Ziglar is best known as a motivational speaker. He has done numerous live seminars. He has written over 30 books. He has audio and video recordings of his seminars that have been readily available for many years now. If you’ve had any connection with the self-help, success, and motivational world, then you know Zig Ziglar.

What I’ve Learned From Zig Ziglar

Over the past several years, I have listened to many of these motivational recordings from Zig Ziglar. I have read some of his writing. I have seen some of his seminars on DVD.

If there are two primary life lessons I have taken away from Zig Ziglar, it would be these:

1. Better thinking leads to better living. We can see this in the following quotes from Zig such as:

Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.

We all need a daily check up from the neck up to avoid stinkin ‘thinkin’ which ultimately leads to hardening of the attitudes.

If you want to reach a goal, you must “see the reaching” in your own mind before you actually arrive at your goal.

Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes.

Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.

If you don’t see yourself as a winner, then you cannot perform as a winner.

I believe there are a lot of important truths contained in these quotes. The world would be a much better place, today, if all of us would work on better thinking, expectations, and attitudes.

2. Helping people get what they want is important to successful living. We can see this advice revealed in the following quotes:

You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.

If you treat your wife like a thoroughbred, you’ll never end up with a nag.

People who have good relationships at home are more effective in the marketplace.

The greatest good we can do for others is not just to share our riches with them, but to reveal theirs.

In our drive to be successful, it’s very easy to forget that the people around us are a large part of that journey. The more people we can help along the way, the greater and deeper our own success will be.

How About You?

How’s you’re thinking? Do you need a check up from the neck up?

And, how are your relationships with those around you? Are you taking them on the journey with you? Are you helping people get what they want out of life?

These two ‘big ideas” from Zig Ziglar can definitely help create a successful life for all of us.

Do you have some additional favorite quotes or other big ideas from Zig Ziglar? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

How To Speak Well And Make An Impact On Others

Photo by GetAmbITion

Don’t Speak Like A Goober

Have you ever been a casual observer of how people speak? Some people use a lot of slang. Some may choose to use curse words. Some use improper verb tenses. A lot of our everyday population plain slaughter the English language.

Others speak just fine, but use way too many words. They wear out their listeners. They haven’t learned the art of focused brevity.

The interesting part of it all, though, is that people don’t realize how much they can come across as ignorant, unlearned, and uncultured.

Some Thoughts On Speaking Well

Here are some thoughts regarding speaking well with others in everyday conversations, especially with professional connections.

  • Don’t curse. You would think this would be common knowledge and obvious. As a professional, make your mark, rise above the rabble, and make a noticeable difference in how you speak.
  • Don’t take God’s name in vain. Related to the first point, as a Christian, I get a little irritated with people who pepper their conversations with “God” and “Jesus Christ” when they’re not even having a spiritual conversation. Hey, you may not be a Christian, but don’t accidentally offend others because of your words. It may cost you a potential job or a great business relationship.
  • Don’t repeat the same point over and over again. There are a few people I have regular, lengthy conversations with who simply repeat their key point over and over again. They probably say it different ways, but at the end of the day, they’re just saying the exact same thing. A 30 minute conversation takes place that could have been a very simple, 5 minute one. Respect people’s time. Get to the point and move on.
  • Be careful of the “um’s” and other repetitious filler sounds. All of us do this to a certain extent. Monitor your usage and eliminate the filler as much as possible.
  • Be careful of cliché’s. We all like to use them, but after a while we start sounding like our parents or worse – hicks!
  • Be careful of your speaking flow. Some people talk really fast. Others speak slowly. Some speak hesitantly with starts and stops. Try to have a nice, smooth flow to your speaking voice so that you’re not bringing too much attention to yourself and speaking mannerisms.
  • Be aware of your general grammar usage. This is a little more difficult to monitor when speaking extemporaneously, but be careful and try not to break grammar rules on a regular, ongoing basis.
  • Don’t slip into different accents. Do you have one? Do you slip into an accent at different times for various reasons (i.e. Southern, Canadian, etc.)? Try not to do the accent thing if you can avoid it.
  • Maintain a pleasant EQ balance. What I mean is this – you don’t want to speak too high or too low. Ideally, you need to speak pleasantly in the midrange without too much treble or bass in your vocal cord vibration. I realize this is easier said than done with many people.

How Do You Speak?

Have you ever stopped and considered how you sound to other people when you talk to them? Have you ever recorded yourself speaking just to see what you sound like?

Take some time over the next week to take mental observations on how you talk to others. For the areas of speaking that you don’t like, see if you can make some minor or maybe even major improvements if needed. Then, observe how these changes impact your everyday conversations, especially in the area of professional connections. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the outcome.