Monthly Archives

December 2016

My NYE Ritual — Review, Reflect, Write

By | Create Value, Inspire Ideas, Invoke Passion | 47 Comments

I am not a believer in New Year’s Resolutions. I think most people set unrealistic resolutions, become short-term crazy fanatics, slip, get back on it and then just fall off the wagon completely. It’s complete insanity. All those gym memberships go to waste, savings accounts stay empty, yelling at the kids commences, booze is drunken excessively, clutter builds back up, nails stay bitten and things just continue on the way they were. In some cases, things get worse and people carry out a major case of the f-its.

I do, however, have what I believe to be an awesome tradition that I have maintained every year for the past 13 years. My tradition is comprised of three parts. Reflection, review and goal setting. The coolest part of this tradition is that the reflection part gets more awesome every year, the more you have to look back on.

First, write down a minimum of 10 accomplishments, things you did or things you are proud of from the past year. The first few years, the actual original exercise called for 20 – I always get afraid that number will scare people away so I just say 10 – but as many as you can think of. You may be surprised once you get on a roll. (Plus, I am a rebel and don’t like to follow instructions all the time). The accomplishment can be anything big or small, professional or personal. Maybe you went on a fun trip, got to see an old friend, got a new job, broke an old habit, exercised more, tried a new food, wrote a BLOG every week for a year (Hey that’s me!) – anything you can think of that is positive from the past year.

Review your goals from the year before. These will be the goals you wrote the previous year. What did you accomplish? What obstacles stood in your way? Did you forget anything on your reflection list? For the goals you did not reach, do you want to try for them again in the coming year?

The next part of reflection is the absolute best for me. My favorite part is starting with the very first reflection list and reading them all in chronological order. This gets better and better with each year and you see how far you have come! I get to see my life journey from getting married, to having a child, to building my professional career. I get to see how things have changed and shifted and most importantly, how I have grown. It is a list of years’ worth of accomplishments and reflections. Really, such good stuff.

The next part is writing down what I want to accomplish over the next year. It is a mix of personal and professional things I want to achieve. Again, some big, some small and some very, very personal growth goals. It can be anything! Losing weight, making more money, cleaning your garage, getting outside more, going on a trip, spending time with a family member, seeing friends, starting a hobby, stopping a bad habit, change in mindset, getting married, having a child, buying a home. Doesn’t matter. Anything goes. It is YOUR life.

I also take a look at what I had on the previous year goal list that I did not get done and determine if I want to add it to the next year. Can anyone guess how many years in a row cleaning out the garage has been on the list? I can still only park one car in the three car garage. Maybe 2017 is my year of the clean garage.

The interesting thing about this step is that I don’t post these goals and I don’t keep them out to look at. Nope. I tuck them away in the same binder and don’t look at them until the next year. Some may think this is weird. How can you achieve something if you “forget” about it? The whole point is to be present in the moment you write that plan for 2017. It becomes part of you. It is whatever you are feeling is most important at THAT very moment. Maybe things change over the year and that is ok. I believe in setting incremental milestone goals through the year too – sometimes things that were not even relevant at the beginning of the year.

I wholeheartedly believe in challenging and pushing myself physically, mentally and spiritually. This is one of the many ways I practice self-challenge and most importantly, self-reflection. We often forget how far we have come. We forget to celebrate life’s greatest moments. We let experiences fade away. This helps me keep all this alive. My daughter joined me in 2012 so this will be her 5th year. Her goals started as things like; no night light, no training wheels, do a cartwheel and grew into — be nicer to my parents, get straight As, sing a solo and book commercials. She has things like go to Hawaii, go to Europe, go on a cruise and get a puppy – those are more to-dos for Mom and Dad, but hey, it is her list so I let her put whatever she wants on there. Try it. I dare you…

Credit Due: I was first introduced to this tradition by a man by the name of Tom Batchelder. I despised him (literally) at the time.  I found him annoying and all warm and fuzzy like which was not my style. Don’t worry, he knows this, and since then, he has been a life mentor to me and a good friend. We sort of go back and forth on whose life is messier. Sometimes we have big gaps in the time we connect but when we reconnect its on like Donkey Kong. He has written a pretty cool book, Barking Up a Dead Horse which you can find here.

The book is only slightly annoying and mostly SUPER helpful.

Maintain Tradition or Simplify?

By | Be Genuine, Create Value, Inspire Ideas | 47 Comments

Why Can’t I Give These Things Up?

Hand addressing Christmas Cards

I have seen the demise of the postal Christmas Card for many years. It seemed to start with the rise of e-cards. Everyone thought, hey, why not? I will just send an e-Greeting instead of a physical card. I am sure there were some altruistic thoughts of saving paper, saving stamps, saving money or whatever. The e-card is not entirely defunct; a few pop up here and there. The strange thing is that the few I do receive, I actually enjoy as they are from the same people, it is their MO, and that makes me smile.

Then people started just posting “social greetings” on whatever social media channel. You know, “from our family to yours” overlaid on some photo taken the night before. Or across a collage of past profile pics from FB. Yes, those. This year, it has gone a step further and I’m getting status updates in lieu of anything at all. They go something like this: “We are not sending cards this year but we still think of and love all of you blah, blah, blah.”

This is by no means a knock on people who go this route. In fact, I am freakin’ jealous. Why can’t I do that? It would be way easier. Instead, I have to search what used to be dozens, but is now hundreds of designs, pick a custom message, select the paper type, paper weight, corner type, glossy or matte, matching envelopes, pre-printed return labels on stickers and the list goes on ad infinitum.

Even those who are hanging in there with me on the physical mailed Holiday cards have gone to printing address labels. I envision their card labeling goes something like this.

  • Step 1 – Pour a glass of wine.
  • Step 2 – Mail merge a file with label layout
  • Step 3 – Top off the wine
  • Step 4 – Hit print.
  • Step 5 – Get a snack
  • Step 6 – Peel off labels and stick to envelope and put in mail. One bottle of wine and an hour at most. And voila – all done!

I, instead, design the card, have them printed and then proceed to hand label them all in my horrendous handwriting. I stress day after day about “getting them out”. I seem to hold a resentment over my whole family for them not being able to help me to hand address. It isn’t even that they are not willing. It’s that I am working off the same printed address list I used for my wedding 12+ years ago. There are additions, subtractions, retractions, name changes, front and back, arrows and some odd color coding system that I can’t even follow. Every year, I vow to change the process. Every year I do the same process. Every year I get so damn jealous of those who do not do it like this.

I know there is a person or two out there who appreciates my physical, mailed, hand addressed Christmas Card. I hope they noticed this year. Because it is the last. I swear. Never again. Probably. I think. Maybe. We will see.

Handwritten thank-you notes

I have been doing this bullshit since I was a kid. Thank-you note for everything no matter what. I have passed this torture on to my child. I get like 5 handwritten thank-you notes a year. They are my favorite things. I actually post them up on my wall and they make me smile. I love them and I’m so sad for this lost art. I have managed to somehow escape the TOTAL torture of this by passing it on my 10 year-old. She is forced to write them now and I figure, hey, if I can get an elementary school kid to sit at a table and hand write these cards, my thank you is “built in”. The torture is in me insisting Ella write them. To every single person. And she has to specify what the gift was and what she liked about it. None of this “thanks for the gift” bullshit. Not cool.

I know this is a good lesson for her in manners. I still send them when friends give me gifts, or do something kind and meaningful. They always make note on how I should not have, and don’t have to, but this is the one old-school thing I am not giving up and neither is Ella. I don’t care if she is 50. I will go to her house and make her write them. I used to get her the fill-in-the-blank kind and now she has to write the whole thing. Oh and address them all too (off that same dreadful address list I use for my Christmas Cards).

Gift-wrapped Christmas presents

I could probably get about 40 extra hours of sleep, or binge watch something meaningful like Shameless, if I would just give up wrapping gifts. I totally suck at it, and they do not even look nice. I waste way too much paper and I get mad. I could EASILY, just throw my gift into a gift bag with a few pieces of tissue on top and be done. I could have an assembly line with Ella. Insert gift, plop down tissue, place under tree. And those bags get reused like 60 million times.

Buuttttttt…. I simply can’t. Don’t know why. I just can’t. They take up a lot of space under the tree and isn’t part of the fun ripping opening the wrapping papers and throwing it all over the place? Again, I have no disrespect for people who do this. Once again, I am jealous of them.

I am constantly on a quest to simplify things, but there are some things I’m just not willing to compromise on and take the easy way out. Just can’t do it. Maybe someday. I know these are things I really should not give up. And that they are proper. Truthfully, I probably won’t. But I would be sort of proud if I did. Should I?

Thank You Mom

By | Be Genuine, Create Value, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others | 57 Comments

Adolfo Moran (this week’s guest blogger) joined SoapBox as a project manager in our first year. His height, stature, quiet (and I mean very quiet nature) coupled with his long, scraggly beard caused me pause at first. But, I soon learned that Adolfo is truly a gentle giant. He’s super smart, cares about his job and his clients, and has overcome some insane personal obstacles.

My favorite part of my job is getting to know the SoapBox staff at a personal level. It makes a lot of people uncomfortable at first, but I find each time someone is willing to be vulnerable in this way, I have the privilege of experiencing people at a level I love most — their true, authentic selves. Cool stuff.

Earlier this year I had an opportunity to go hiking with Adolfo in Oregon. He picked the spot. He made sure it was easy for me to get to, brought me water and was an awesome conversationalist. He did not seem the least bit nervous to be hiking around with the “COO” and confidently went along with my “let’s go this way,” seemingly fearless of getting lost.

His tough-looking exterior and reserved personality hide a genuinely compassionate heart. In other words, his mama raised him right. (Thanks Adolfo’s Mom.) I was so excited to read Adolfo’s guest BLOG about the impact of his Mom on his life — learning what I did on our hike, and seeing Adolfo through a different lens makes me want to meet his Mom and give her a great, big hug.

Thank You Mom

by Adolfo Moran, SoapBoxSample Project Manager

I’ve been working since I was 14 years old. My mom provided a roof over our heads, food, clothing (not brand name clothing), guidance, support, love, and a strong work ethic. Anything else we wanted (materialistic things); we had to buy with our own money. I’ve been working since a young age partly to help out around the house, but mostly to buy the brand name clothing I thought would make me cool – I blame market research and advertisers for that, JK. Back then, and to this day, when it comes to work, my biggest pet peeve is the phrase “that’s not my job/responsibility.”

This reminds me of a little story.


This is a story about four people named: Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized the Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done. — Anonymous

A “that’s not my job” attitude does not create value. On the contrary, it prevents things from getting done, like in the story above. I am not here to say what management can do to change this type of attitude. To be honest, it’s not my field of expertise. I just hope that talking about it helps motivate and inspires others to create value whenever possible.

Thinking back to my college days, I took a class on grant writing for the nonprofit sector, my altruistic days. It was an early morning intimate class, about 40 students (trust me; this was intimate compare to the 200 student lecture halls). The professor liked conducting the class round-robin style, meaning all the students were facing each other in a circle. Being the morning person I am, I would always get to class early. I started arranging the desks in a circle prior to anyone else showing up. The professor was always impressed that any student would show such initiative. Mind you, I never took credit for arranging the desks prior to class. Midway through the term, the professor showed up early to find me arranging the desks. He said to me, “The sign of a good leader is someone who creating value when no one is watching” and he expressed his gratitude.

We can all do a little something to create value; it doesn’t have to be something huge. Here are three small things that you can do around the office to create great value.

  • Say a new employee has joined the team; everyone could help train and answer questions. Not only will it help speed up training, but you could also make a new friend.
  • Helping to keep an area clean, adds value and benefits everyone.
  • Moving furniture or lugging around 5-gallon water bottles because you are the biggest guy in the office also helps create value.

The professor’s words have inspired me and I still believe in working to create value when no one is watching. I still believe in doing a job or task without being prompted, it’s just something in my nature and probably instilled in me by my mom. Most teens don’t want to work from a young age, I know I didn’t, but I’ve grown to appreciate the work ethic she instilled. Thank you Mom

She Let Go

By | Be Clear, Be Genuine, Be Honest, Inspire Ideas, Motivate Others | 49 Comments

Sometimes life becomes overwhelming. It may be everyday stress, loss of a loved one, injury, illness, or even something as simple as a flat tire. Most of us don’t have the option to just “freeze” in time (#mannequinchallengefarce) when we are knocked down. Everyone needs tools to get back up.

Lately, a combination of physical injuries, illness, work and life have hit ALL at once. Like a brick (no, actually a piano) landing on my head. I’ve learned that the only way to the other side is right through the middle. That middle area can suck pretty damn bad. But you have to acknowledge, deal, accept, and then trudge through by adding new tools to your toolkit of life. It doesn’t really matter if it is a hobby, exercise, spiritual practice….whatever.

This past weekend I had the privilege of spending a dear friend’s milestone birthday with her. The weekend was intended to be a freeing reset. I have not made it to the other side of this reset but know it kicked off a process. We were lucky enough to have a Kundalini instructor come and lead us through a session. It was quite an experience and something very new to me. It was powerful. One of the most poignant moments was the framing and intent of what we were about to do.

The kick off started with a reading of this poem about letting go (no, not the annoying song we all hope to never hear again). While it refers to “She” I think it really applies to anyone, and everyone, no matter the struggle. Big or small.

She Let Go

by Rev. Safire Rose

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of the fear.  She let go of the judgments.  She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.  She let go of the committee of indecision within her.  She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a book on how to let go.  She didn’t search the scriptures. She just let go.  She let go of all of the memories that held her back.  She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.  She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go. She didn’t journal about it. She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer. She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper. She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope. She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go. She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter. She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment. She didn’t call the prayer line. She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.

No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or congratulations. No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing. Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be. A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.