Four for the 4th (#183)

This week’s Friday Forward falls over the July 4th holiday, a time when most people in the U.S. are on vacation, including me.

Although I have never skipped a Friday Forward, I thought that I would honor the spirit of vacation by re-sharing some of the most popular Friday Forwards related to travel and vacation.

Many of the posts below were published when the Friday Forward community was much smaller. For some, it will be the first time reading them. For others, including me, these posts will serve as helpful reminders about the value of travel, getting out of our routines, and family time.

The Rewards of Travel: An extended trip to Australia with my family reminded me of the many personal and business benefits of travel.

18 Summers: This Friday Forward affected a lot of parents. Many wrote to tell me that it inspired them to make similar plans with their family.

RV Reflections: 9 lessons learned about life and business from a 10-day RV trip with my family through Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.

BS of Busy: Being busy has become somewhat of a status symbol and cultural crutch, but it doesn’t make us happier or more productive.


Quote of The Week

“There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.”


-Alan Cohen



The post Four for the 4th (#183) appeared first on Friday Forward.

Family Matters (#126)

Two weeks ago, I wrote a Friday Forward called Fighting Words about lessons I learned from engaging with toxic people. Although the situations I shared were related to people who were strangers, I received many heartfelt responses from readers who experienced the same septic characteristics in people they knew well: their family members.

Many shared that they had come to realize they needed to move away from – or even completely sever— the relationship with a member (or members) of their family. Here are a few examples.

“I recently had to face the fact that my Dad is a hammer (everything else is a nail).  At 70, that’s not going to change. I’ve had to completely disengage with him. Which means he’s also lost regular contact with his granddaughters. It’s sad, but I do not miss the toxic energy.”

This is a lesson I learned 5 years ago and keep re-learning to some degree. When the toxic people in your life are family, it’s hard to disengage, but walking away was the best decision I ever made.”

Well, my dad is one such person. Having had a very tough childhood from his hands, I grew up hating him, then matured to not contest. He is 76, and exactly the same.”

For most of us, including me, family is one of the most important things in our life. I feel very fortunate to have healthy family relationships and not be faced with these incredibly difficult decisions. However, that doesn’t mean I think family should be an absolute.

Yes, family is important. That said, if someone in your family makes you miserable, and cannot or will not change, then I am of the belief that the only real choices are:

  1. Change your reaction to their behavior or
  2. Walk away from the relationship

Ironically, when you take the “walk away” option off the table because they are “family,” you are essentially giving the person permission to continue their behavior without consequences. What’s more is that this behavior – and your permission of it – will be recognized (consciously and unconsciously) by others, including your children.

What kind of message do you think that sends? And is it one you feel good about?

One of the biggest frustrations I hear repeatedly from people is that they consistently receive unsolicited feedback and opinions from their family members. From my perspective, what constitutes a valuable opinion should ideally meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • It was requested
  • It has relevance or a direct impact on the giver
  • It’s given out of genuine concern for the receiver

If these criteria are not met, chances are that such feedback falls into the unsolicited advice or judgment category. Often, the true intention behind this “advice” is to make the giver feel better about themselves and their own decisions or to make the receiver feel worse.

Just as it’s unhealthy to stay in an emotionally or physically abusive romantic relationship, toxic family relationships can cause a great deal of harm. The key to a happy, healthy life, according to a 75-year Harvard Study of Adult Development, is good relationships. And that may mean making some hard decisions.

In the end, who we consider family should be determined more by behavior than by our genes.


Quote of The Week  

“Family is supposed to be our safe haven. Very often, it’s the place where we find the deepest heartache.”

Iyanla Vanzant

The post Family Matters (#126) appeared first on Friday Forward.

With Gratitude (#114)

A few years back, my family and I started implementing a practice that was recommended to me by a mentor of mine, Warren Rustand. His advice was, after your stay at a hotel had come to an end, leave a handwritten note thanking the person who cleaned your room along with a monetary tip.

There are many reasons why this is a good thing to do, but four in particular are:

  1. It’s an act of gratitude. Practicing gratitude has numerous benefits for our health and state of mind.
  2. It shows respect, dignity and appreciation for someone’s hard work; work that often goes unnoticed.
  3. The tip is often insignificant to you, but meaningful to them.

We travel a lot and when we stay at a hotel, my kids typically take turns writing the notes. But it is my youngest who has really come to enjoy it. Even though he’s only nine, he asks to write the note as we’re packing up to leave.

A few weeks back, we were on a ski vacation. We had a lot of gear and rushed out of our room each morning to hit the slopes. To say we left a mess would be an understatement. Yet, when we returned each afternoon, the room was cleaned very well and all our belongings were neatly organized. It must have taken the housekeeping person well over an hour each day to get it that way.

When we went to check out, my son asked to write the thank you note and I pulled $40 out of my wallet to leave as a tip. My wife, Rachel, looked at me and said, “We should leave more. She worked really hard.” As usual, she was right and so we did.

At almost the same time, I received a note from a friend via a What’s App group. He too was inspired by Warren’s advice and had begun leaving a tip with a thank you note after his hotel stays. He shared that after a recent stay at an Airbnb in Guatemala, he’d left a $15 tip each day to the person who had cooked and cleaned for them. To his surprise, he received a note from the owner a few days later that read:

“I want to thank you so much for being so generous with Sandra’s tips. She told me today she was able to take her child to the dentist and to de-parasite her other child from amoebas. It really made a difference, thanks for your generosity.”

In our haste, we often neglect to show appreciation for the little things or take the time to thank and acknowledge those who have served us. And the reality is, these individuals are likely far less fortunate.

We’re all guilty of focusing on our first-world problems and overlooking the challenges/circumstances of others.

When we take the time to think about and recognize those who have served us in some way, with nothing to gain from doing so, it has a positive impact that is greater than we can imagine.  I also believe it’s simply good karma.

As you head into your weekend, I encourage you to take the time to sincerely thank someone who’s done something to serve you and see if you can improve their life in some small way. It’ll very likely make a difference to them and, as a bonus, it’ll also likely make you feel good about yourself.

A relatively small gesture can make a real difference in the life of another person.

Quote of the Week

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”

William Arthur Ward

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2017 in Review (#104)

Sometimes, what we need is a reminder of what we already know rather than learning something new.

Because many of you (myself included) are on vacation this week, I thought that, instead of writing a new post, I would highlight the top Friday Forwards of 2017 and give a quick summary of each.

The Human Element: In many ways, our focus on technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is causing us to lose our ability to effectively communicate with and relate to each other as humans. It doesn’t always feel like progress.

18 Summers: This post affected a lot of parents. Many wrote to tell me that it inspired them to make similar plans with their family.

BS of Busy: Saying we are busy has become a cultural crutch. Being busy doesn’t make us happier or more productive.

Bad Week: The story of how Dr. Mary-Claire King was able to push forward during the worst week of her life, leading to a medical breakthrough that has saved millions of women’ lives.

Freedom to Fail: Important lessons from a soccer coach on how we all need to have room to fail, learn from our mistakes and grow.

Beautiful Day: This is the story of a man who created a wonderful legacy for his family.

Tri-It: Reflections and lessons learned from running my first Olympic Triathlon, including why you should practice on stage.

RV Reflections Part 1 and Part 29 lessons learned about life and business from a 10-day RV trip with my family though Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.

Burning Bridges: Why it’s never a good idea to burn a bridge, even when you need to walk away from a relationship.

Carpe The Diem: The improbable story of how my son and I ended up together at the greatest Super Bowl in history after I decided not to be a hypocrite and take a chance.

Quote of the Week

“Any idea, plan, or purpose may be placed in the mind through repetition of thought.”

Napoleon Hill

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Thankful Reflection (#99)

As we head into the last few weeks of the year, it’s a good time to reflect, celebrate and make connections. Two weeks ago, the Acceleration Partners team did just this. We gathered our employees from around the world for our sixth annual AP Summit, our most impactful one to date.

I thought I would share a few themes that I took away from our week together that have both personal and professional applications this holiday season.

Connecting in Person: These days, we have a lot of ways to communicate with each other. And while video calls are a big upgrade over voice alone, in-person face time matters. People connect differently in person. They tend to open up and share more vulnerably. For example, one of the highlights of the week was our employee TED talks. Team members spoke on topics that were important to them and shared ideas they felt would add value to others.

With this in mind, let’s make the time this holiday season to cultivate our most important personal and professional relationships. Let’s spend quality time together, face-to-face, talking about things that matter; not on our phones.

Demonstrate Gratitude: Throughout the entire week of our AP Summit, there was a lot of gratitude given, formally and informally. Everyone likes to be appreciated, but I think we often underestimate the impact showing gratitude to others has on our own outlook. When we take the time to recognize and appreciate others, it often feels better to see the impact it has on someone than to receive it ourselves.

Celebrate Humbly: Historically, empires fall from within. There’s no faster way to ensure your demise than by believing you are great and have nowhere to improve. Sure, it’s important to reflect on what went well and celebrate successes – both individual and as a team. But, especially at the end of the year, it’s also important to keep a level head and acknowledge that future success is never guaranteed.

In my opening AP Summit presentation, I shared what I believe to be one of the best speeches of 2017, delivered by Dino Babers, head football coach at Syracuse University. Just after his team defeated the number one-ranked team in the country in a major upset, Dino displayed some key leadership themes, which members of our organization took notice of.  He:

  • Did not take credit
  • Was humble
  • Showed respect for the competition
  • Was emotional and vulnerable
  • Reminded his team to take care of each and get back to work the next day

Before you rush to the store for a Black Friday shopping spree, take a few minutes to watch Dino’s Barber’s powerful speech. This is what great leadership looks like.

Quote of the Week

“If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he’s going to get.”

Frank Clark

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RV Reflections – Part Deux (#87)

Last week, I shared my initial takeaways from our recent RV trip though Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks. Upon some additional reflection, here are five more insights that I wanted to share.

5. Less is Often More: Living with four other people in 200 square feet of space for 10 days gave me some important perspectives. First, I was reminded that happiness is really not connected to material goods. Having less things (clothes, toys, gadgets, cars, shoes, bags, etc.) can be very liberating, especially as we traveled each day with all our possessions. Along our journey, we met many people who had sold their homes and belongings and were now happily living in their RV. They were fully mobile and enjoying life to the fullest. Although I didn’t bring that many clothes, I could have brought half of what I did and been fine.

6. Constraints Improve Creativity: Having constraints (space, monetary, etc.) forces you to be much more creative in solving problems and finding solutions, rather than just throwing money or resources at a problem. For example, we used duct tape and bungee cords in a myriad of different ways and a highlight of the trip was when we made an ice cream cookie pie in a frying pan over an open fire that will become a family tradition. We also got creative about recycling and waste, which you become aware of when you have to travel with your trash.

7. Over-Scheduling is Over-Rated: Somehow, we have come to associate being busy as being better. We spend our weekends running from activity to activity and have a hard time saying no, something that we often carry over into our vacations. I’m totally guilty of this. I tend to try and pack in way too much in a short amount of time; I over-schedule and then regret it.

With only ten days to enjoy two of the most captivating parts of US, we knew we needed some sort of plan – especially since we had kids with us. And while we scheduled hikes, swims and other fun excursions, some of the best moments of the trip were the unplanned ones. This included the kids’ playing cards on my son’s birthday while looking for bears at sunrise on the side of the road; roasting s’mores; and playing “do you remember” from past vacations. Often, the desire to see and do everything ends up diluting the overall experience.

We have decided to cut back on some activities this fall so that we can dedicate more of our weekends to “family time” instead of “divide and conquer” time.

8. Dare to Delegate: This entire trip would not have been possible had I not coordinated with team members, delegated my responsibilities and created processes and escalation paths that others could follow in my absence. For the very first time, I made the decision to completely walk away from my e-mail while on vacation, something that I was nervous about doing. I even removed my work e-mail from my phone.

Making and acting on the decision to truly un-plug forced me to create long-overdue delegation processes. Was it a perfect process? No. But one should never expect a new process to be. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Now, I know what worked and what didn’t so I can improve the process for next time. One thing that this email-unplugging experiment definitely did was allow me to see the value of permanently changing how I interact with my e-mail going forward.

9. Detox from Digital: Related to #8 above, this was my first real digital detox. As with any detox, I experienced some withdrawal for the first day or two, but it subsided quickly by the third day. It also helped that most of Yellowstone doesn’t have cell phone coverage, so there really wasn’t even an opportunity to cheat; nor did I want to. It was a welcome change.

There is a real fear that our technology has become an addiction and that our brains crave the dopamine in the same away as other stimulants. Without the constant distraction, I was able to read and write more attentively, think more creatively and contemplate strategically about the future of my business and family. I even had several breakthroughs on both fronts. It was also really nice to focus on and engage with my kids, play games and simply enjoy each other’s company.

If you have yet to visit Yellowstone, Grand Tetons or any National Park for that matter, I can’t recommend it enough. I think you’ll find the experience unrivaled, inspiring and truly memorable.

If you do plan on a trip to WY, reach out. I am happy to share our itinerary.

Quote of the Week

“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.”


* Glazer Family Grilled Cookie Recipe: Light a fire and lightly spray a flying pan with Olive oil. Open package of Immaculate Baking Cookie Dough. Fill pan with dough balls, pressing them flat to cover up any seams. Cook for 20-30 minutes about three to six inches away from the flame, making sure outsides aren’t sticking to pan (similar to an omelette) with your spatula. Add a pint of your favorite ice cream to top and remember the handle will be hot. Enjoy!

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