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How I Moved from Warp Speed to Allowing for Blank Space; An essay by Katie Rasoul

I used to move a mile a minute. I had only one pace because I was always headed somewhere to do something. Move with purpose; that was how I rolled. One time at lunch, a coworker stopped and said, “I just can’t do it!” I asked, “Do what?” She had been racing me to see if she could eat faster than me, and without me even knowing or trying, she couldn’t do it (cue embarrassment over eating like an ogre). I remember walking through the mall on the weekend and my husband (who is nearly a foot taller than me) asking, “Why are you walking so fast? I almost can’t keep up.” I had stuff to do, people.

“Why are you walking so fast?”

Over the years my days became so packed that I no longer had time for creative thinking, blank space, or frankly, time to appreciate the journey. Here are a few other absurd things that I did at work, in case any of these sound familiar:

  • Drank eight ounces of coffee, and literally nothing else all day
  • Forgot for three hours (frequently) to go to the bathroom
  • Ate entire meals in the elevator traveling between floors

I had spent years of my life fine tuning my calendar in the name of “work-life balance” and while I packed my days full I failed to see the bigger picture that I was not allocating my energy to the things that mattered most in life. I now think not just about managing my time, but managing my energy is practice even more valuable. Until I took this new approach, my life never really felt balanced despite the black-belt calendar management.

One of the changes that I have made in my life is to slow. down. I have created space in my day for productive time, creative time, and restorative time. And do you know what happened? I am more productive than I have ever been. Allowing yourself the down time you need can fuel your productive time, and allow for reflection on where your energy is most needed.

In any given week in the past between meetings and “have to’s” I estimate that I only had about six hours in the week to sit with myself and do any meaningful work (these six hours also reflected elevator meals and no bathroom breaks). If I could get my work done in six hours surrounded by meetings and conference calls, I could get it done in the same time surrounded by intentionally planned time. So now, I choose to plan my calendar with blocks of project time, restorative walk breaks or workouts, or even an hour where I get to read or research something that interests me.

Here are some ideas for creating more black space on your calendar:

Block the time off: Use calendar invites to block the time you need for you so others don’t see it as available for the taking.

Create a goal (Google Calendars): If you use Google calendars, create a goal for yourself and set your own frequency and length of time, and your calendar automatically keeps that block but moves it around if you place a conflict over it.

Remove the clutter: Question everything on your calendar as to, “Do I need to attend this?” or “Is this meeting necessary?” No need to sit in meetings where half of it is deciding the agenda that could have been prepared in advance.

Use micro-spaces of time wisely: I often would have meetings where the other person was a few minutes late. Just enough time to read a few HBR blogs and news articles, I say.

Pick one thing to say “no”: Find one thing that you can just get rid of. Just one. Then, make sure you spend that time on what you really want to do. (Make sure you don’t waste it checking email or trolling Twitter, you won’t feel that sense of accomplishment you are looking for.)

Easier said than done, right? Try one new thing, or a few. Give behavior changes time to sink in, and be “listening” for the change in how you feel about how you are spending your time. Maybe you can even eat that banana while going for a walk outside instead of in the elevator.

About the author:

Katie Rasoul is the Chief Awesome Officer for Team Awesome, a leadership coaching and culture consulting firm. She is a TEDx speaker alumna, author of the best-selling book, Hidden Brilliance: A High-Achieving Introvert’s Guide to Self-Discovery, Leadership and Playing Big, and co-host of The Life and Leadership Podcast.

Find out more by visiting or join the Team Awesome Community for awesomeness coming straight to your inbox. Follow Team Awesome on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

See more about Katie’s keynote presentation on this topic, “Manage Your Energy” here.

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Why YOU should, in fact, be a Wise Guy; Guy Kawasaki, The Intrepid Interview

My third interview with Guy Kawasaki (author of Wise Guy); This is a raw, authentic, and very real conversation about several strategies to change your life, based on his long, successful, and sometimes unsuccessful life…

Guy Kawasaki’s Nuggets of Wisdom (and things we talked about on the show):

  • Change a losing game
  • Take an interest in others, help them. And listen to their advice.
  • Seek out and embrace people who challenge you.
  • Accept that people aren’t good OR bad. Good people do bad things, bad people can do good things.
  • Don’t worry about what motivates you.
  • Embrace the inspiration of people’s success.
  • Don’t consider yourself a victim. If you believe you’re a victim, you’ll truly become one.
  • Don’t fear the impact of quitting something.
  • Get in any way you can, and get in at any level you can.
  • Don’t assume the only motivation for employees is money and fringe benefits.
  • “I made many mistakes in these positions, and I discuss them here so you can at least make different  mistakes.”
  • Do whatever it takes to get your second follower.
  • Sweat the big stuff and ignore the chatter – especially on social media.
  • Be humble. Humility.
  • Look for good news.
  • Don’t assume that others are helping when you see people in need. Or, as you say later in the book, help people who cannot help you.
  • Keep trying new stuff (surfing).
  • Life regresses to the mean.
  • Start with simplest explanation.
  • Don’t be afraid to show weakness (being vulnerable).
  • Try to prevent problems rather than to correct them.
  • Be positive or be silent.
  • Growth mindset vs. fixed mindset.

Find Guy Kawasaki’s Book Here!

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Do work that feeds your soul, not your ego; An essay by William Childs

Of all the terrible traits that have the potential to damage your career or prevent you from earning respect from your peers, a giant ego is at the top of the list.  To be clear, I’m not talking about confidence; I’m talking about an exaggerated sense of self-importance. Confidence is healthy; an out of control ego is not.

Confidence says, “I’m valuable,” while ego says, “I’m invaluable.”  Big difference. Doing creative work often involves a certain amount of risk and vulnerability.  Having an over-inflated sense of self can be extremely limiting to that process because ego feeds off of your fear.  And when you’re operating from a place a fear, you won’t be very effective. Dr. Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston who has spent the last thirteen years studying vulnerability said this, “Vulnerability is not weakness.  That myth is profoundly dangerous. Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.”

If you’re unwilling to be viewed as vulnerable – which can be an essential component if you hope to do serious, groundbreaking, and fulfilling work, just as failure and success are linked, so is vulnerability and strength. People with amplified egos are not comfortable asking for help or admitting they don’t possess specific skills. Their egos take over, and they tend to judge everyone and everything based on appearance, possessions and other superficial aspects.

Ego is dangerous because it rejects the truth. There’s an excellent scene in the film ‘Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade’ when Harrison Ford, playing Indiana Jones, must choose the right Grail to save his dying father, played by Sean Connery.  The villain picks first and chooses a cup adorned with rubies and emeralds, beautifully shaped and what he thought would be representative of the cup of a King. “He chose poorly,” says the Templar Knight standing guard as the villain dies a hideous death.  Harrison Ford then remembers that Jesus was a carpenter. He looks for an old, deformed, dirty cup that looks worn and used. It turns out to be the one that saves his father’s life. He chose wisely. I think people can be like those cups.

Don’t be the one that represents ego, pride, greed, or narcissism.  Be the one that represents humility, gratitude, and vulnerability. It will make a huge difference in how you approach people and your work.  My strategy has always been to work with those who are better than me. I’m at peace with the fact that I will never know everything there is to about my craft, but I’m smart enough to know that strength comes from humility and gratitude towards my co-workers and the work we collaborate on.  

I’ve had the pleasure over the years of working with some of the most talented artists, designers, copywriters, videographers, photographers, actors and directors and I learned something from all of them. Those of you who do creative work need a certain level of confidence to help propel you forward into the uncharted waters where the best ideas can be found.  Early in my career, I sometimes struggled to keep my ego at bay. These days, I keep it in check by having an attitude of gratitude. I surrender my need for control. I work on being a better me and less on trying to be better than everyone else around me, and I’m open to constructive criticism.  Plus, I’m wise enough to know that if I’m the smartest person in the room, I’m in the wrong room. While these might sound like simple tactics to employ, they’re effective at keeping my ego in check. Besides, we should all strive to do the type of work that feeds our soul, not our ego.

THE AUTHOR: WILLIAM CHILDS | Creative Director | Brand Storyteller | Columnist | Optimist
Bill is an accomplished creative leader with a history of delivering award-winning campaigns for a variety of businesses. Relentlessly dedicated to the skillful and creative translation of strategic business objectives, he’s known as a collaborative mentor and champion of fearless creativity. With a career spanning three decades, Childs knows how to take an acceptable idea and turn it into an exceptional one. His reputation of setting high creative standards while helping to create a culture of genuine collaboration and engagement is one of things he’s most proud of across his career. Recognizing and mentoring talent, and building high-performing, cohesive teams is one of his passions. Email. Website. Twitter. LinkedIn.

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The Warrior Spirit: Laughter is a critical component of resilience; An essay by Chris Schafer

What is considered a threat today pales in comparison to what our ancestors faced daily. A clear tribute to the ability of humans to create and invent better ways to live. At the same time, as we advance there arise new threats that are perceived as real but are less than physically harmful. Today there are unbalanced perceptions of what threats are. For many of our school-aged young adults, these perceived threats materialize into forms of despair through the loss of social status and reputation through shaming and malicious posts. However, being less than a threat to life or limb these new perceived threats have a real impact.

The Association for University and College Counseling Centers Directors in a 2017 survey found that one-third of students are depressed and about one in four students had thought of suicide.  Is there a direct correlation to our tech-savvy and social media society? Maybe however unlikely the correlation is singular.

Today we have an abundance of perceived threats like ‘trigger words’ and politically incorrect speech which are not threats unless the individual is unstable. Unfortunately, the National Association of Medical Illnesses has found that 1 in 4 college students are on psychological medication which may be the reason for Safe Spaces and the elimination of ‘offensive speech.’ The issue is who is determining what is considered offensive and what is not.

Physiologically the worlds that are created through platforms via technology like online gaming and social media become very real within the mind that is still developing. They like the rest of us struggle with the deluge of information that is available unlike any other time in our history. Training and guidance are key to defeating perceived threats and dealing with them in a positive way.

Real Threats

In our first world difficulties, there is little to teach our mind in how to distinguish between what is a real threat and what is not, outside of being in the military or first responders career fields. For the majority of us, everyday life is non-threatening. This impacts what we perceive as threatening events and shapes our response. Ever seen someone freak out about not getting enough ketchup packets in their value meal or a road rage incident for someone being cut off while driving? Unfortunately, these things do happen every day but are they real threats. Should they elicit an aggressive reaction? Our minds are naturally wired for flight or fight response but what of the non-threats that are perceived as such?

Threats like that of a damaged reputation and social status or that of being eaten by a lion have a commonality, and that is “loss,” and without training and perspective, the response to non-threats may be perceived as real enough to take action. Action to a threat without purpose and analysis can lead to disaster. The ability to laugh at situations that are less than threatening can thwart irrational acts and reduce anxiety and blood pressure. If you think it can’t be done or it won’t work, I offer the following:

Laughter in the Face of Death

I once asked my great grandfather Fred what it was like in WWI, the war to end all wars, with an estimated 40 million causalities. He told me that he had been mustard gassed and spent some time in a French hospital “The nurses were fine,” he said to me with a smile on his face. I was about twelve at the time. I gathered that the nurses that took care of Private Fred Schafer for nine weeks were very kind and pretty. Today I’m confident that he, like many of the Dough Boys, found the local women charming. The point is that he remembered the women, not the horror of being mustered gassed. Fred lived into his 90’s.

Laughter is a Commonality

I have found that many times when I talk with veterans of other conflicts, we laugh about incidents that would be considered mortifying and less than humorous by our non-military peers. Similarly, my teammates and I laughed more often when the threat was intimate, and we were at a disadvantage. The ability to see the lighter side of events while suffering hardship is a core principle of the Warrior Spirit.

Laughter can be a defensive mechanism and a way to cope with a situation that has little chance of improving or changing. Once the harrowing event has past, laughter is a way of conquering the moment and demonstrating relief. It’s a key element in seeing the problematic and embracing it with defiance. The question is how to train one’s self to laugh in such situations.

Training To Laugh In The Face Of Death.


Training to be resilient takes some self-awareness. It’s better to consider how the event impacts your ability to function. Asking questions like:

How it hinders or impedes the ability to do an activity or accomplish a task.


The warrior spirit analyzes the event for its ability to impact the function of an individual and calculates a response that is appropriate. Many times the warrior will do nothing understanding that patience and doing nothing is statistically better than forcing an action a majority of the time.


Warriors will take an initial look at something and then carefully consider the event before taking action. A seasoned warrior will go one step further studying and caculating the related return on investment before taking action. If it appears that it will be less than profitable, then the warrior will move along knowing that he was stronger for not being provoked.

Keep Calm

Remaining calm in stressful situations is paramount to survival. This improves our ability to react correctly to a real threat.

Today threats are new and more overt in their nature and require a warrior spirit to overcome them. There is a great need to teach and train or young in the warrior ways and to understand the difference between real and perceived threats and what is appropriate an action to take and how.

Photo from (Baiajaku)

CHRIS SCHAFER is a retired Green Beret and the COO of Tactical16 Publishing. He is an expert in leadership and business development with 13 years of experience. Chris is co-author of the book Intrepid Professionals, a book that helps executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and self-improvement seekers understand and leverage principles of the military mindset. Chris has advised foreign militaries, worked in 20 countries, and worked with numerous U.S. agencies including the FBI and DEA. He resides with his wife and children in beautiful Colorado. You may also email Chris here, or call him at 719.398.8002.

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Accepting the Gifts Put Before You; An essay by Beth Bridges

Right now, someone is trying to give you a gift.

Do you see it?


Maybe you’re looking for the wrong kind of gift.

I’ve been receiving a lot of good stuff for a long time but I’m just now realizing they are gifts.

Nearly a year after his sudden, shocking death, my husband JD continues to leave me gifts. The greatest of those was this understanding and ability to see, recognize and accept nearly everything –  pleasant and unpleasant – as a gift.

The first gift I recognized was a big bag of frozen chicken breasts.

You can laugh, but it’s so typical of him. You were thinking he paid a year in advance for floral deliveries or left me millions from a secret bank account.

Nope. Prepared and practical daily living was JD’s thing. If I broke something – a piece of jewelry or my favorite sunglasses – I only had to show it to him and the next morning, it was fixed.

One day, he brought home a padded toilet seat after I complained about how cold and hard the old seat was. He didn’t say a word, just brought it home and installed it.

That was his love language – practical gifts that made things easier and more comfortable.

When he was in the hospital I ate only because my friends and family put food in front of me, but I wasn’t so out of it that I couldn’t feed his dogs. And there was no way I was going to have him come home and tell him that I fed them dog food instead of the hand-crafted gourmet breakfast of home-cooked chicken, sweet potato and vegetables that he made them.

But then three days later he died. And the container of chicken in the refrigerator was empty.

I couldn’t even think of how to start the BBQ much less go to the store, buy a bunch of chicken and grill it. So I opened the freezer – maybe they liked TV dinners – and there was a dozens of frozen, individually packaged bags of chicken breasts.

Just thaw, cut them up and go.

What a gift.

Weeks later I still wasn’t ready to spend Saturday afternoons cooking dog food, so I tried canned chicken (too expensive), the WalMart roasted chicken (too much sodium) and “frying” chicken (too messy).

I was learning the gift of home-cooking ingenuity with all these options.

Then I found the InstantPot I had given JD but that he had never used. Cooked chicken in 10 minutes?

What a gift.

Once I started looking for the gifts he had left me, I saw them everywhere.

It helped ease my grief and yet the greatest gift he gave me was directly tied to that grief.

As The Networking Motivator, I had been a very public networker for years. I went to events all the time and even if I hardly knew anyone, I was always relaxed.

And confident. In command. Comfortable.

Then – after two months of wandering around my house in a fog, leaving only to go to my Mom and Dad’s or to run with my running buddies – a business friend invited me to be his guest at an award luncheon.

A big luncheon. Full of people I probably wouldn’t know. Or worse, who would know me and would know what happened.

I think he suspected I might back out, so he offered to pick me up and graciously insisted that he needed me, his networking coach, to make sure he took full advantage of it.

I was terrified.

What if people asked me how I was and I froze up? Said the wrong thing? Forgot someone’s name? Or worse, started crying in the middle of the event? (I did, but very quietly, during the keynote speaker’s presentation.)

Me and good-guy Ted at the BBB Awards luncheon. I did my best to smile for the picture.

I was incredibly uncomfortable and unhappy while I was there and completely exhausted when I got home.

I didn’t realize for months what an incredible gift that feeling of discomfort was.

I have attended over 3,000 networking events in the last 15 years. It had been a very very long time since I had felt those distinct, unpleasant feelings.

It was a shock to be sitting there thinking:

“What am I doing here?”

“What am I going to say to these people?”

“Did I just make an ass of myself?”

And “How soon can I leave?”

So many of the people who read my book and hire me as a keynote speaker and trainer are looking to me to help them solve and resolve those feelings in themselves and for their members and audiences.

I always sympathized with them and that’s one of the reasons I do what I do… but I couldn’t completely empathize.

Oh, do I get it now.

I went to my first party later that summer and I’ll admit, I drank too much and I clung all night to the arm of a friend who had escorted (and driven!) me there.

And just in case I didn’t get the picture yet, I repeated the experience of extreme discomfort at a friend’s Christmas party.

I was fine until I got there. Then the first person I talked to asked if I had just come from running practice (his girlfriend smacked him) because apparently I was dressed inappropriately casual.


Once again, I felt awkward, out of place and dreading the effort of trying to make conversation when all I wanted to do was leave.

I ended up huddled in the kitchen with an old friend who was willing to do most of the talking.

I fled right before the toast …

It wasn’t until was invited by a friend to go with him to a conference that I wouldn’t otherwise have gone to. Add that “I don’t belong here!” feeling on top of the continuing social networking anxiety and it was a perfect storm.

Until suddenly, standing in the middle of this event full of truly lovely people, I realized that that feeling of discomfort was a GIFT!

And that’s when I began to embrace it. I soaked it in and relaxed into that feeling.

What a deep, useful insight into the feelings that so many people have about networking.

It caused a shift in the direction of my networking teaching, both in my trainings and in my keynote speech. I’ll be able to show people that I acknowledge and can relate to those feelings and I will be giving them mental tools and specific networking strategies to specifically address their perspective.

JD’s gift wasn’t just for me. It was for YOU too. I hope you’ll see it.

And you’ll see that right now, someone in your life is trying to share a gift with you.

Maybe they’ve got some wisdom to share.

Or they’ve had a similar experience and they can empathize with you.

Maybe they’re setting a good example.

Or serving as a horrible warning.

Everyone has a gift to share and they are freely offering it up to you.

Open your eyes and open yourself up to accepting that gift.

BETH BRIDGES is the author of “Networking on Purpose: A Five-Part Success Plan to Build a Powerful and Profitable Business Network.” She attended over 2,500 networking events in 10 years, secured a new job in 18 hours with one email, and launched a marketing consulting business through networking. She speaks at chambers of commerce, associations, and conferences across North America. Beth, 2018 Western Regional 400m and 800m W45 Champion, is training to compete in the World Masters Athletics Championships in 2020. Learn more at The Networking Motivator.

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“Outliers” and the Sense of Belonging; An essay by Katie Rasoul

For decades, we have talked about the need for our organizational cultures to enable the engagement of its employees. If you haven’t seen the value in that yet, we may have bigger problems on our hands. But assuming you are on that boat, another way of considering engagement is not looking at it from a sense of engagement in the work, but from the perspective of seeking belonging in a community.

This is not the first time I have argued the value of belonging. Previously I discussed using good communication as a means to create belonging, rather than leaving employees out of critical information. There are countless opportunities to create a sense of belonging in your organization, and communication is simply one way to do that. And on a day-to-day basis, that is all that culture is. A collection of teeny-tiny moments that add up to a feeling. Culture is the cumulation of every small decision you make as a leader, how it is perceived, and how you represent yours and the company’s values at every small opportunity to do so (whether you are consciously choosing to or not).


The inverse of feeling belonging is feeling like an outlier. It doesn’t always have to be black and white (as emotions never are), where you either feel entirely part of a group or not. It usually presents itself in much subtler gray tones. Perhaps you love your company and coworkers, but some part of you notices that you are the only woman in the board room. Maybe you are in a meeting with a group of people who like to talk things out as they go, rather than having planned an agenda as you would do. Sometimes addressing outliers and belonging is as obvious as the inclusion efforts for people of color, LGBTQ employees, young people, old people, you name it.

If we listened closely enough, we would be amazed to discover the larger subcultures of outliers. Banded together by the mutual experience of feeling like “the other,” we begin to question what is true for us. Because what is true for us seems to go against the grain of what is true for everyone else. We have all felt this at some point in our lives. We’ve questioned what was happening around us or if we were in the right place, with the right people. We have felt out of alignment with ourselves, but couldn’t quite place why that was. In most of these cases, that feeling of misalignment you feel as an outlier is rooted in being at odds with something you value. If you feel a sense of belonging, then all of the important parts of you, your values, are generally being honored.

Sense of Belonging

For companies looking to retain their talent resources, we have to take a mental picture of what belonging feels like, and what it feels like to be the outlier. And then, bridge the gap for the humans with whom we spend our days. Think to yourself for a moment. When was the last time you felt belonging? And what did it feel like to you? Often in my experience if feels safe. It feels whole. Like home. And none of these are words that we ever use to describe work.

Not sure who might feel like an outlier? Here’s a list of possible scenarios that go beyond race, color, gender and sexual orientation to get your brainstorming started:

  • Introverts around pontificators
  • Questioners around “yes” people
  • Young, high-potential leaders in a “this is how we’ve always done it” culture
  • Salespeople around creatives
  • Seasoned employees around a Millennial-aged workforce
  • Parents around non-parents (and vice versa)

Think of it as a club that you can only be in based on something you can’t change about yourself. People feel belonging when they feel heard and understood for who they are at the core of themselves, and cannot change. I will always be an introvert, a parent, and a woman, and these have all been both a source of belonging and feeling like an outlier for me.

Your Next Move

As a leader, here are a few questions to help you do just that:

  • When do you feel like an outlier?
  • What are some situations when others around you may feel like the outlier?
  • How can you create a sense of belonging for those on your team?

Once you have an emotional understanding of where you are, and where you want to go you can begin to make small but frequent changes to encourage a sense of belonging on your team. Remember, culture and belonging is made of a collection of small moments, not one event you can check off of a list. They have to be micro-small, consistent changes made over time. Here are a few ideas to consider for creating belonging on your team:

  1. Walk life milestones together: Celebrate babies, birthdays, weddings and soberversaries. Band together over funerals, breakups and hard stuff. People will only share these with the group when they feel safe to do so.
  2. Learn a lot about your team: Learn what they like, what frustrates them, how they work best, and how they respond to stress. Share the same about you with them. Choose actions that create an optimal environment for your fellow humans.
  3. Drop any judgement: Ask your team where they do and do not find belonging from their perspective, and ask about their experiences. Listen without attaching any right or wrong, good or bad to their responses, simply learn a new perspective.

You’ve experienced what it feels like to be an outlier. But have you identified when you have caused that experience for someone else? What small changes can you make to create belonging and an inclusive environment for your team? After all, it’s just a series of tiny decisions and actions.


Katie is the Chief Awesome Officer for Team Awesome, a leadership coaching and culture consulting firm. Find out more by visiting or join the Team Awesome Community for awesomeness coming straight to your screen. Follow Team Awesome on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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Knowledge + Faith + Action = Courage; An interview with Ryan Berman

Joined in studio by Ryan Berman, Founder of Courageous (a creative change consultancy) and the author of Return On Courage: A Business Playbook for Courageous Change.

CLICK HERE to listen to Ryan Berman’s interview!


  1.  “You cannot have a conversation about courage without having a conversation about change.”
  2.  Ryan defines courage: knowledge + faith + action = courage. And courage requires all three!
  3.  “We shouldn’t be fearless. In fact, we should fear more.”
  4. “We suppress fear rather than address fear.”
  5.  Fear can be an indicator that something important CAN happen.
  6.  What types of risks should businesses and organizations consider taking?
  7.  There is a price to pay to become a courage brand. And most coward brands choose to take no action, even if they feel something.
  8.  What does Ryan mean by “return ON courage?” With a strong ROC, you can certainly impact your ROI.
  9.  Courage is not recklessness, and if done right, can become a competitive advantage.
  10.  “People want to be courageous, they just don’t know how.”
  11.  Can one develop a “central courage system?”
  12.  Is courage a skill that one can develop and learn?
  13.  “Courage breeds courage…”
  14. Who is this for? Is this ONLY for the C-Suite? Or for anyone who wants to be a difference-maker?
  15. We discuss the PRICE methodology (Prioritizing through values; Rally believers; Identify fear; Commit to a purpose; Execute your action…
  16. There is both lack of empowerment AND process to create space for courage.
  17.  You can “plan” for courage…
  18.  “There’s a massive difference between risky and risk.”


RYAN BERMAN, author of RETURN ON COURAGE, is the Founder of Courageous, a creative consultancy that develops Courage Brands® and trains organizations through Courage Boot Camp. Berman also founded Sock Problems, a charitable sock company that supports causes around the world by “socking” problems and spreading awareness. Previously he was the cofounder of i.d.e.a., an integrated marketing agency based in San Diego. He has helped brands such as Caesars Entertainment, Major League Baseball, Puma, Qualcomm, Subway and The US Ski & Snowboard Association. To learn more, visit


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Creativity is the fuel needed to drive education reform; An essay by William Childs

It always hurts my soul when I hear that a school is forced to cut back on creative classes, like music and art.  After all, allowing kids to be creative in school helps set them up to become creative adults – where creativity can lead to innovation in the workplace.  

The current public educational system in the United States was developed in the 19th century, primarily to meet the demands of the industrial revolution.  The spread of industry necessitated mass schooling to produce a skilled workforce. The system worked — factories had workers and workers had permanent jobs.

Today, the global economy demands new ideas and innovation, but our educational system doesn’t encourage entrepreneurial traits like creativity, risk-taking, or leadership.  The system is set up to teach kids how to take standardized tests; not to help them nurture their passions. I don’t blame the teachers; I blame those who refuse to admit that the world has changed and that we should keep doing the same thing over and over and expect different results.

Irish poet, William Butler Yeats gets it right, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” A wonderful example of what  Mr. Yeats is referring to is in Jack Foster’s fantastic book titled, “How To Get Ideas,” where he writes about an exercise he calls, “What is half of 13?”  The purpose of the exercise is not to find the correct answer — Foster already knows the answer is 6.5. Instead, he’s more interested in seeing if we can solve it creatively.

Since schools are not required to encourage creative thought, it’s hard for us to imagine how to solve the challenge.  When you view it through a creative lens, the clues begin to reveal themselves. The number 1 is half of 13. The number 3 is half of 13.  What about ‘thir,’ How about ‘teen.’ What if you wrote the number thirteen and erased the bottom half? What about roman numerals? Thirteen is written like this: XIII, so ‘X’ is half of thirteen. ‘III’ is half of thirteen.  The exercise is designed to show that when you look to solve a challenge creatively, you must be willing to look at it from different angles and be open to new possibilities, which is precisely what young children do effortlessly.

Think back on your childhood, and how you could play for hours with an empty refrigerator box. You could use it to create a boat, a car, a rocket ship, a castle. Endless possibilities. That’s the beauty of imagination and creativity, which is why, if you can reach back into your childhood, you can taste genius.

Children’s book author and creativity expert, Vince Gowmon states, “Children do not move, think or speak in a straight line, and neither does imagination, or creativity.  Sadly though, our standardized pathways of education still do.”

In one of the most viewed TED talks ever given, ‘Do Schools Kill Creativity?’ Sir Ken Robinson, who led an advisory committee on creative and cultural reform, said, “Our children and teachers are encouraged to follow routine algorithms rather than to excite that power of imagination and curiosity.” He also adds, “young children are wonderfully confident in their imaginations … Most of us lose this confidence as we grow up.” 

The next few years in our country are going to be crucial.  It’s time for creativity to be granted its proper status in education.  It’s every bit as important as math, science, history, and social studies.  While the industrial revolution is over, now is an excellent time to re-engineer how we structure our curriculums.  Curiosity, wonderment, and imagination are no longer child’s play. Those attributes must be encouraged and treated with respect at every grade level if we ever hope to change the current outdated educational system and put students on a path to success.

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THE AUTHOR: WILLIAM CHILDS | Creative Director | Brand Storyteller | Columnist | Optimist
Bill is an accomplished creative leader with a history of delivering award-winning campaigns for a variety of businesses. Relentlessly dedicated to the skillful and creative translation of strategic business objectives, he’s known as a collaborative mentor and champion of fearless creativity. With a career spanning three decades, Childs knows how to take an acceptable idea and turn it into an exceptional one. His reputation of setting high creative standards while helping to create a culture of genuine collaboration and engagement is one of things he’s most proud of across his career. Recognizing and mentoring talent, and building high-performing, cohesive teams is one of his passions. Email. Website. Twitter. LinkedIn.

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My highest and best use; An essay by Katie Rasoul

I usually write about business, personal development or some other (hopefully) helpful topic. This one is mostly just about being human.

I recently brought a new baby girl into the world, and she is perfect. We have been waiting for her. And I am doing everything in my personal power not to squander this moment that is terribly fleeting. She will never be this little again, and I make efforts to be as dialed in and present as possible during our time together. In fact, this is my one main goal of 2019; to be present.

Some days are hard. Particularly torturous are the days when you have not nearly enough sleep to fuel any sort of patience, and my four-year-old stomps around like a Clydesdale while doing the very thing you just asked him not to do five times.

Sometimes the joy is overwhelming. I can be rocking my little girl to sleep on my shoulder, checking in the reflection of a nearby window if her eyes are closed yet while dripping tears of joy from my face. These moments are so short, ever changing. Good or bad, I know whatever it is it will be different in a matter of weeks or even days. Those without children wonder why all us parents ever do is complain about our children. It is because we simply cannot find the words to adequately describe the joyful moments. So, we ineloquently huff around instead about the minor annoyances we can articulate.

When I had my first child, I was a different person. As a result of coaching and a lot of personal development, one unexpected side effect has been that I feel more alive and experience emotions with greater force. Not only sadness or frustration, but also joy and love. Before I had dulled my emotional awareness with busy schedules, fear of failure and “shoulds”. Now that I can experience every emotional direction much deeper, I feel like I am living life in technicolor. If I am coloring with bold markers now, I must have been using pastels before without even knowing it.

I now have space to just be. I am living in the present and letting the joy and love settle in. I have memorized the path on the floor to walk that has the least creaks to not wake anyone. I use the quiet moments in the middle of the night when it is just me and baby girl, rocking and feeding her, as my mindful and most present moments. No Facebook, no Amazon Prime. Just me soaking in the moments knowing that one day they will be gone without much notice. As she grows older, I already find them to be a rare treat to be soaked up. (All this coming from a person who is convinced sleeping is her greatest superpower)

It is challenging to take a break from your work. Partially because some part of you still thinks you “should” be working, advancing, grinding. And partially because your heart is in it, and it is hard to hit pause on heart-filled momentum. Sometimes I feel grateful to take a breath and hit the reset button in this moment away from work. There are some moments when I feel “benched,” as a lot of working parents do when you watch others accomplish things you would like to do while your biggest “accomplishment” for the day is coaching a tiny newborn to lift her head a little more.

Yet I know better. I often preach in leadership that it is important to do the work that only you can do. This means delegating things to others, letting things go that aren’t meant for you, and hiring people to do their best work for the things that aren’t yours. The work that only I can do (and parents, I know you get this) is be Mom. That will always be the job I won’t outsource (or want to). I appreciate this moment to walk my talk and live to my highest and best use.

I will blink and all of the sudden I will be buying prom dresses and drivers licenses, and in the business world that seems such a flurry of “busy” I am certain nothing is all that different now that I am back in the game. Companies still need help with their culture, leaders still want coaching, and the world of organizations still have plenty of fixin’ to do. If there is one thing I learned in the corporate world is that people are so busy doing their “stuff” that they barely notice when you are gone for 12 weeks. What has been some of the most memorable weeks of my life are barely a blip on the collective radar, so I’ll be damned to waste it.

For now, parents, you are not benched unless you’ve decided to bench yourself. Whatever you are ready for is ready for you. If you need me I will just be over here trying to find the best way to bottle baby snuggles, so I’ll get back to you when my highest and best work is done. Until then, let’s all enjoy the ride.


Katie is the Chief Awesome Officer for Team Awesome, a leadership coaching and culture consulting firm. Find out more by visiting or join the Team Awesome Community for awesomeness coming straight to your screen. Follow Team Awesome on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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Why you need to redefine success

The reason most of us are unhappy is that we are following someone else’s definition of success.

And I spent the first three-quarters of my life doing this same thing, trying to live up to the expectations of others. This almost led to my undoing.

When I finally changed the paradigm through which I was viewing the world, and my success in it, everything changed for me.

I was reading an article that reminded me of an older podcast featuring Amanda Palmer (NSFW, at the time of publishing), the musician, author, and artist who is redefining what it means to be a performance artist and entrepreneur.

She was talking about the moment when she redefined success. As a recording artist and songwriter, success was always determined by Billboard rankings, iTunes downloads, and Twitter followers.

The minute she realized that “success,” and more importantly, happiness, had NOTHING to do with those numbers, her perspective on life changed dramatically.

And that’s what I want for you.

Chances are, the definitions of success you are measuring yourself against are not necessarily yours. And look, I am not suggesting that you should ignore what your boss and manager expects of you.

But honestly, if what they expect of you isn’t in alignment with what YOU expect and demand of yourself, something isn’t right.

And that’s why you feel stress. That’s certainly why I felt like I was always letting people down. Trust me, that’s a hard way to slog through life.

So, change how YOU define success. What will get you moving when you wake in the morning? What will make you stop dreading Sunday evenings? What will make you stop counting the hours ’til 5pm on Friday afternoons? In other words, what will make you happy?

Set bold and aggressive goals for yourself, certainly, but set expectations of success that you really want, expectations that will make YOU happy.

Life is too short to be doing anything different.

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