United and Ignited!

United and Ignited!

Toastmaster International is truly a respected world-wide institution helping people in many countries to become inspiring communicators and leaders.  In any city, town, or village near you, there are organized clubs offering the chance for individuals to use their voice.  I often tell people “Toastmasters is like going to a local fitness center to train and perfect your voice.”

 

Active club members stay united by demonstrating their willingness to attend each scheduled meeting and participate in various roles offered to them.  At South Cobb Toastmasters in Mableton, Georgia, we recently celebrated our club’s 15th year and as a group, we wanted to band together and take an excursion to Kenya, Africa.  To ensure everyone had time to save money, receive time off from work and prepare our families for this experience, we spent two years planning for the journey.

 

Over the past 15 years, I’ve traveled to the “Motherland” many times escorting others in doing humanitarian work in remote and less traveled places.  It was an honor to invite my fellow Toastmasters into the professional work that I love most.  A quote from a travel journalist, book author and photographer named Jeff Greenwald reminds me of this special travel invitation: “Sharing a bit of yourself, opening a window into your own world, is a Good Place to Begin.”

 

In the two years of planning, there were new lessons for all:

 

  • This adventure drew us closer – some had the fear of flying for long periods of time; some had never been to another continent; some didn’t know much about the culture of where we were going. As we intimately and openly shared these concerns, others would edify or support one another – chiseling off the stress of international travel.

 

  • This adventure opened our senses of the world – too often we can easily open up our computers/laptops and thoroughly read details of a country, its people and culture. That may be a great thing to do, BUT it doesn’t give real justice.  An adventurer need to feel and embrace the untimely breeze of a different place; an adventurer need to unexpectedly slip into the distinct aromas of new surroundings; an adventurer will need to become a food connoisseur and appreciate unexplainable tastes of a place; and an adventurer opens kindship conversations in new places.

 

  • This adventure improves our global understandings – the world becomes much smaller when you explore other cultures and places. A person who often visits and spends time in other places will see the world in multiple perspectives.  A person will also reflect upon their position in a global society.  Our group experienced a great deal of engaging with the beautiful people of Kenya.

 

Of our leisure travel experience in Kenya, we took time to attend a Toastmaster club meeting!  The Nairobi Toastmaster Club held its bi-weekly meeting the same week we were enjoying the downtown sites of Nairobi.  Under the leadership of Margaret Njoroge, Club President, she and her members graciously welcomed us.  Prior to the start of the club meeting, we and their members happily united in true fashion to serve in various meeting roles!

 

The club meeting experience in Kenya ignited our ability to share and learn ways to build comraderies and new friendships.  As we were impressed with the professional meeting culture, they were impressed with our enthusiasm to be there!  This made long-lasting memories that everyone will never forget.

 

From delightful hotel staff members, people we met throughout the city, tour drivers, to young walking tour guides and friendly street vendors, the created synergy of global connectedness stirred our hearts and minds.  Every minute on the ground, each person within our group beautifully blossomed in their own way; discovering a new sense of themselves and who they are – a new sparkle of life emerged.

 

After our extraordinary travels of Kenya, South Cobb Toastmaster members were ignited and eager to share their journeys through prepared speeches back at home in the United States.  Will we take another global group adventure in the near future?  I do hope so!

Let get out there people and do some good!

The Purpose Equation: Idea + Implementation = Impact!

I get excited when I hear the wonderful ideas people dream up – especially if the idea develops into something that could impact the lives of others.  But once the conversations are over and days/weeks/years go by, I wonder why people don’t move into the next phase to implement their ideas.  Thomas Kuczmarski (Kuczmarski and Associates – http://www.kuczmarski.com), a Chicago consultant specializing in innovation, wrote a contributing article in Fortune Magazine several years ago.  He stated “Only one of every 20 or 25 ideas ever become a successful product – and of every 10 or 15 new products, only one becomes a hit.”

Those whose product becomes a “hit” mostly likely followed the “Purpose Equation”

Idea  +  Implementation  =  Impact

Idea

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word idea: any conception existing in the mind / thought or notion.

We conjure up ideas all the time…at work, at home, watching the news, reading a book, over lunch with friends, from an overnight dream, etc.  Ideas can: (1) make you money, (2) change an existing process by making work easier for you and those around you; (3) satisfy other people; or (4) create a movement.  Probably 90% of us (including myself) have dreamt lots of ideas at some point in time, but do we act on them? Do we have the courage to implement those ideas?

Implementation

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word implementation:  to carry out / execution, or practice of a plan, or method.

Out of that 90% Idealist group, few of us will embark on the journey to implement the idea by first evaluating the cost.  “The Cost” mean: (1) how much will it take to finance this concept; (2) how much allocation of time will I need to promote this concept; (3) how much will the idea consume my everyday life – will it cause me to be away from family and friends; and (4) how many people will this idea benefit?  You might even evaluate the pros and cons of your idea.  Probably a brave 8% of us will venture into this level.

Impact

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word impact: to influence; effect.

Few have reached this level because they strongly believe their idea will make money, change a process in their professional work, satisfy other people or create a movement.  At this point, you have to erased all doubts in your mind and simple embrace the “No Fear Zone Attitude.”  You have to weigh the cost and seek good counsel.  You also have to forecast the possibilities on how your idea will make an impact to your inner circle, where you live and eventually to the world!  You have studied those in the business on where you want to do well.  The more you get people to be convinced by your idea, the more passionate you become. Probably 2% of those will reach this status level.

I recently watched a local news report of a young father whose 1 year old son died of heart failure.  It was an un-expectant event and the parents had no idea why their son died.  Through their own health examination, the wife had some kind of rare heart condition that she was not aware of.  Months later, the young father heard the plight of another married couple who lost their teenage son of an apparent heart ailment while playing on a football practice field.  This led the young father to do something about this and he created an organization to help young kids get proper heart check-ups.  During the recent 2013 Final Four Collegiant Basketball Tournament in Atlanta, his organization along with a team of physician registered 350 young kids to get a ‘free’ heart examination with another 100 on the waiting list to be examined later this month!

The young father converted his sadness into success.  He is a great example of the Purpose Equation!

So in summary:

 

Are you ready to innovate   your IDEA?

Ask yourself: Is it supposed to make money? Will it make a   difference in the workplace? Will my idea satisfy other people? Will it cause   a positive movement to change my local surrounding, neighborhood, country or   world?  If you answered “yes” to one or   more of the following questions, then go to the next stage.

Have you weighed the   cost to IMPLEMENT your idea?

Ask yourself: How much would it financially cost to invest in my   idea?  Do I have enough time in my week   to spend on my idea?  Can I balance my   life where I can still spend time with family and friends? What are the true   benefits of my idea and would people buy into it?  

Are you ready to make an   IMPACT?

Ask yourself: As it relates to my idea, have I changed my   mindset to erase all levels of fear and doubt?  Am I good at selling my idea to those   who’ll benefit from it?  Am I prepared   to receive slow or instant results   of my idea?  Have I done enough to   research my target audience, spend time with wise counsel, prayer, and   prepare for IMPACT?

The Purpose Equation formula becomes evident by constantly working on your idea 90% of the time plus implementing the idea 8% of the time which will result in 100% impact!

Let’s go people and do some good!

Succeeding Through a Time of Sorrow!

As always, my weekly goal was to write about how one could bridge their passion with purpose, but I suddenly learned of an unexpected event that forced me to express my thoughts concerning the loss of a dear friend back in Michigan.

Most people will agree with me that we can’t be certain of our longevity here on Earth.  While some individuals may experience an unplanned shorten life, others are fortunate to live a long healthy life.  To me it doesn’t feel right that the imbalance act of death is favorable for some but not for others.  It seems that we all should be given an opportunity to live a long/healthy life.

I so appreciate seeing the many Facebook comments and references about John L. – our friend, father, brother and confidant.  Its time like this when we need to comfort each other as instructed in the Bible – “All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” (1 Corinthians 1:3-5)

A good friend of mine John L. passed away this week and tried to find solace in his passing.  I can go as far back in time when he, another schoolmate Tony R. and I were creatively talented in art class.  Mr. Woods (the Art Teacher) always complimented us on our adolescent drawings and made us feel that we were the Renaissance trio of Filippo Brunelleschi, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo (Simoni) of our times!

When most boys discover bondable friendships through sports, my friendship bond with John started through the work of art.  I don’t believe we ever attempted to single out one or another in art class; there was a sincere respect on our parts to draw comparisons and contrasts to the uniqueness of our finished art production.

We continued a friendship throughout the entire school years at Walter F. White Elementary School and later at River Rouge High School.  In all occasions, John took every advantage to perform the solo act of setting the comedic tone when it was time to have a good time.  When in high school, John went on to become more involved in sports while I focused my direction on academic pursuits.

After high school graduation, we would only see each other occasionally when I came to Detroit to spend time with my family.  It was extremely comforting to me when I learned that he desired to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  While maintaining his witty attitude, he was sincere about gravitating toward a meaningful life to know Christ and wanted to devoted more time to study the Bible.

Two years ago would mark the last time I would sit down with John along with other friends.  Oddly at that very moment now locked in my mind, he reminded me about the days of Mr. Wood’s art class.

How do I succeed through this period of sorrow?  First – knowing that God still remains on the throne and His plans are designed in mystical ways to deposit a lesson for us all.  Second – I usually find a way to honor loved ones who leave us so soon.  I believe you can always find metallic luster of precious diamond qualities lying beneath the soul of an individual.  For John, I felt he had a gift of making people feel better about themselves [especially after a good laugh]!  Prayerfully I’ll plan to share my stories of John through courses of mentorship programs, donate to charities [in honor of him] that brings joy to various children hospitals, my speaking events, future international mission trips and maybe join with other high-school alumns and create a foundation in his name.  I’m sure he’ll be please to know we’re doing something good versus nothing at all.  What about you?

Let’s go people and do some good!

5 Reasons to S.T.A.R.T. Today!

The last five years have been turbulent for the United States.  The uncertainty of keeping or losing a job, people experiencing less wages across every work industry, and a continuous news theme of higher food prices and “pain-at-the-pump” has effected nearly everyone.  But the sign of the times are beginning to move toward better pastures.  This is the time now to gear up for a better future for you and your family!  So here are five reasons to START today!

S – Seize the Opportunity

It seems that everyone wants to develop, begin or start a personal project or new private business.  Some of my friends look to do this for the benefit to: (1) increase monetary wealth; (2) shape and empower a targeted audience; and/or (3) offer an innovative product to satisfy a group of constituents.

Here are some latest business economic trends:

1)      The number of franchise businesses in the U.S. is expected to grow this year to 757,438 from 747,359, an increase of 1.3 percent, according to the International Franchise Association’s first quarter update to its economic outlook.

2)      Trading Economic reports that Business Confidence in the United States increased from 54.20 in February 2013 from 53.10 in January of 2013.

3)      The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Small Business Optimism Index increased 1.9 point in February to 90.8.  Still far from high indices rates of 100 in 2004/5, analysis remains hopeful that we’re moving into a positive trend.

So if you are lagging to push yourself to start that business or personal project you’ve been talking about all these years, it’s time to seize the opportunity and start now!

T – Tell Your Story

To have a successful business venture, you must tell and sale yourself to anyone who will buy into your purposeful venture.  Think about this, your box of 500 business/networking cards just arrived in the mail.  If you’re really serious about moving your new business forward, there is a great chance you’ll develop numerous business relationships within that one box!  Please remember, the business card doesn’t tell your story; that’s your role.  Passing the card to the prospect only invites the opportunity to have a scheduled meeting.

A – Activate the Brain

The brain is a multi-factorial part of the body.  Divided in two parts, the right hemisphere of your brain is more creative, emotive and non-rational or intuitive.  The left hemisphere is responsible for analytical and more logical processing.  When building your business relationships, be adventurous, creative, expressive and open-minded.  Open communication and dialogue to others are essential in developing your vision into reality.  Remember, a closed mind and mouth, is a closed business!

R – Read

As it relates to hitting the books, Founder and Chairman of ActionCOACH Brad Sugar wrote a supporting piece in his featured web article – Grow Your Business By Getting Back to Basic: “Many people discount the value of seminars, books and workshops, but there’s no better way to get ideas than to learn from those who have ‘been there’ and ‘done that’ before you.”  It’s a good practice to learn and study what other successful people are doing.

T – Thankful and appreciative

As you start your venture, it’s wise to remain humble and thankful for each and every experience!  As a courtesy, send thank you notes or small gifts to those who help map the course for your business or organization.  Stay close to positive and uplifting people while you craft and invent you passion.  It’s been said “Be thankful for what you have today!  Work hard for what you want tomorrow!

So friends, get out of that “foxhole mentality” and begin to START your journey now!

Let’s go people and do some good!