Category

Invoke Passion

Why Having a Social Life Can Save Your Life

By | Inspire Ideas, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

So, the SoapBoxSample team decided to start a new “thing.” We committed to spending 15 minutes each week, focusing on ways we can grow personally or professionally. We call it 15 Minutes of Growth (because coming up with clever names isn’t our strong suit, unless Jacqueline is involved). We all take turns presenting, and it’s led to some inspiring and eye-opening conversations.

A couple months ago I presented on a TedTalk I found about the secrets to living longer. Here’s the secret – social interaction is good for your health.  Turns out, I’m already taking this speaker’s advice (*brushes off shoulders). My wife Sarah laughed when I showed her the video. She joked that I’ll most likely live to 100 given my network of friends and my active social life!

Surprisingly, it’s not the close relationships (people you go to for a loan or visit you in the hospital) that matter the most, it’s the social integration that matters. Meaning – do you stop to chat with people, or do you talk to your neighbors? (Hopefully you don’t have a horror-movie type of neighbor who could actually shorten your life in a violent manner.) Assuming that the people you would integrate with are generally not psychos, having more interaction with them has long-term benefits.

You may be thinking to yourself, I’m super integrated. I have like 700 Facebook friends. Before you go congratulating yourself, I have to break the news to you —  social media interaction is not the same thing. If you want to achieve the health benefits of being social, you have to meet people face-to-face. Going online and liking 1,000 baby photos will not help you. (Except if they’re pictures of my new baby Charlotte. Her cuteness will definitely lengthen your life.) But if you’re just looking at regular baby photos, and vacation photos, and grammar police commenters, and all the other aspects of social media interactions, it won’t help (according to science).

If you want to live longer by being social, here are some things you should do:

  • Eye contact
  • Handshakes
  • High-fives
  • If you’re a salesperson like myself, meet your clients in person instead of over the phone
  • If you can’t meet someone in person, call them on the phone instead of emailing them. When someone can hear your voice they automatically think you are smarter. (Again, this is according to science. Don’t ask me how they know this stuff.)
  • Get to know your co-workers by going out for Happy Hour (Be careful with this one, as you may find out waaaay more than you ever wanted to know.)

Basically, it’s the stuff that happens in-person, face-to-face, and in real life that matters. Social media is great, but it can’t take the place of looking into someone’s eyes and sharing a moment. So instead of forwarding a link to this blog to your friend or co-worker, call them up and tell them how great it is with your voice. And find out how their real lives are going.

If I Could Change One Thing

By | Be Genuine, Be Honest, Invoke Passion

Ok. So if I were actually granted this wish, I might choose a different one. But right now I am super fired up, which is code for pissed off. I have done a lot of self improvement work, and one thing I feel like I’ve changed, is limiting the amount of time I spend obsessing over what other people think of me. Everyone cares about this to a certain extent, and we should. But if other people’s opinions, approval and/or acceptance of us becomes a ruling force in our lives, we stand to live a very unhappy existence.

News flash. You (and me and all of us) can’t control other people. I know you may be thinking to yourself you can, but ultimately you can’t. You can’t control what other people think or feel about you. You can’t control how other people (adult folks anyway) act or don’t act, what they do or don’t do etc.

When I think about all the time in my life I have spent worrying about this person or that person, it is crazy. It took getting hit by a car (literally) to let go of some of this. I simply don’t have the time or energy or health to put into that obsession with other people. You either like me, or you don’t. You want to be my friend or you don’t. I want to be your friend or I don’t. You want to work for me, or you don’t. Basically, the toxic people had to go – either out of my life completely, or at least out of my mind. Sorry, toxic peeps don’t get my energy or my emotions any more. I’ve taken away your rights to control my mind.

However, there are times I still find myself letting toxic people sneak back in my life somehow. I cant even hold them responsible. They are toxic and don’t get it. Most toxic people have a common trait – they are so self-obsessed they don’t even know they are toxic. They believe their problems in life, relationships, work (basically any and all areas of their life) are someone else’s fault. Basically, anyone else in the world, except them, are to blame. I’ve got news for you, if you run across more than one asshole in a day, you may want to check yourself. I feel sorry for these people actually, as if everyone else is to blame, you will be perpetually unhappy. Your life will be full of drama, chaos and disatisfaction. If you have energy for that sh*t, then keep on keeping on, as they say. Whoever they is. People do say that right?

Today I found myself totally fired up by someone. Even worse, it was like a 20-word text. I completely lost my sh*t. My body temperature rose, I started gritting my teeth, I typed and erased like 80 replies to the text, and then proceeded to act super mature by yelling and screaming a bunch of not-so-nice insults. I even screenshotted the text and sent it to a friend. Cause I’m that mature – and don’t you know I have suffered injustice and you should all feel bad for me?

I have a lot of people in my life who love and care about me. They accept me for who I am. They love, or at least put up or ignore, my crazy. They don’t make me feel bad. We mutually support each other. They enhance my life and I try my damn best to enhance theirs. So why, oh why, do I let that one person, who doesn’t matter one bit, get me all worked up? Because I am human. I am not perfect. I let my character defects creep up. I can ignore the dozens of people I care about and focus all my time and energy on that one pain in my ass – or a I can get mad, say a bunch of bad words, write this BLOG and let it go.

You should too. Free yourself from the crippling grip of those people who suck your energy. Let them go. I assure you they will be fine. They will just glom on to that next person who will tolerate their stickiness. I can pretty much guarantee it.

The Woof Woof of Word Clouds

By | Have Fun, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

Word Clouds. We’ve all seen them. Maybe we’ve made (or tried to make) them. But what is the point?

I’ll tell you. Every year, we do a group exercise with SoapBoxSample and icanmakeitbetter where everyone is asked to submit words to describe the coming year. Then we combine them all into a word cloud and give a printed copy to each person to display on their desks (in a fun, colorful frame.) We started doing this back in 2015, as a way to mark the end of not-so-great era. You can read about that first word cloud creation here.

Since then, it’s become a tradition. A blown-up version is posted in my office and in the conference room.

Language is powerful. But visual cues can be even more so. When you combine words with visual elements you can end up with a powerful one-two punch that can help people focus their efforts, become inspired and create a shared experience.

Aside from the personal benefits to the individual, having visual cues in the workplace (like colorful art) can provide a sense of place. Who wants to work in a boring, generic space that looks exactly like every other office? Not me.

What does our art say about us? Maybe it says that employees are so engrossed in their work that they might forget what year it is. But hopefully it conveys a sense of shared values, the concept that we are all working together to achieve something, and the uniformity of duplicate images on each desk conveys that we are all on the same page.

 

Company culture is something that I think about a lot. Creating a single image that every employee has a personal connection to is a powerful tool, and also it looks pretty. And also it’s fun to guess who contributed what word. One of our project managers contributed the phrase “Woof-woof” for this year’s cloud. Guess he’s planning on getting another dog?

What word would you use to describe 2018 so far? Tweet me your words @jax_rosales

Dirty Hair, Messy House and an Impromptu Baby Shower

By | Have Fun, Invoke Passion, Take Risks

I recently had shoulder surgery. I went into surgery very optimistic (aka dumb) thinking my arm would be in a sling 7-10 days and I would have a few months of painful physical therapy and then voila – magically better. Turns out, that is not the case at all. Looking back, it’s also like all the people around me knew what was really going to happen, but they just humored me and nodded in encouragement. I suppose, in the end, things are just how they are anyway so in these situations, ignorance prolongs misery, and I guess it is worth it. Why squander the hours that could have been useful worrying about what is going to happen? If it’s going to suck, may as well just wait until it sucks instead of worrying about how it will suck.

When I woke up from my surgery, I was in a full on terminator contraption – an immobilizer that wrapped around my waist and back and held my arm out from my body. It did not allow it to move at all. You see, I needed an anchor and a pin so I had to be in an immobilizer for 6 weeks. Six weeks in a bulky, scratchy, itchy contraption that needed adjustment every five seconds. And yes, I had to sleep in it. I am still only doing range of motion physical therapy for at least another month before I even start strength training.

So I have to wear this brace. It is so big and bulky that we have to buy Double XL sweatshirts from Walmart to go over it. I cut off all my hair as I knew I couldn’t blow dry or style it. I don’t bother putting in contacts as it is a pain. It was starting to seem like Christmas decorations would just be up early for next year since I couldn’t manage to get them down. I had started this home redecorating project (no, I don’t think things through sometimes thanks for asking) that is half in the works and half just boxes of crap everywhere. Our dog is not getting walked and digging up the back yard. Basically, both I and my entire house are one great big sh*t show.

Oh, and I can’t drive. My doctor said maybe around the ten week mark. Are you kidding me? It is so maddening. My husband and my daughter’s Nanny drive me everywhere. It is lovely. It’s not like I really go gallivanting about, but not being able to get in the car and just go, is crazy making. And my husband doesn’t put up with my foolishness. If I am like “hey let’s stop at [insert random store here]” he always wants to know what I need to get there. How the hell do I know what I need if I haven’t even gone in yet? RIGHT? Like if I actually NEED something I just order it on Amazon Prime. It’s not about needing things. Geez.

Then, last week, the unimaginable happens. I am on a conference call in my home office, with my disgustingly dirty hair, glasses, no makeup, sweatpants that are 3 sizes too big because they are easy to pull up, and there is a knock on my door. Assuming it was on those Amazon Prime deliveries (you know, something I NEED), I answer the door, with my headset, totally unsuspectingly to find SoapBox’s marketing assistant at the door wearing one of those masks people wear given the crazy flu epidemic. I have no idea what she is doing at my house, but feeds me some line about visiting a sick family member and was sent to see what I need help with. I embarrassingly help her weave her way to the kitchen table through all crap that is everywhere and keep going on my call. Then I finish and realize that she maybe can give me a ride and then I ended up back on the phone with I.T.

From my office I hear her yell, someone is at the door. This time, it MUST be an Amazon Prime delivery. I open the door to find my front steps full of SoapBoxers with their phones in the air filming me. “Surprise” they yell. Some are nervously laughing, some looking down at the ground fearing for their lives (or at least their jobs) and others just kind of holding their breath to see what happens. You see, since I can’t make it the 70 miles each way to the office right now, our VP of Operations thought it would be fabulous to bring the whole team to me for our annual kick off meeting, That’s right. TO MY SUPER DIRTY HOUSE WITH SH*T EVERYWHERE for a surprise visit. Oh, and let’s forget that I could not look any worse if I had tried. I wanted to scream obscenities, punch someone in the face, slam the door and run up the stairs (maybe fire a few people and then die), but I am not a total a**hole.

Instead, they all come piling in. They have computers and food and balloons and cake. Why balloons and cake you ask? Turns out we are also having an impromptu baby shower for one of our staff members. They had some amazing Greek food delivered from a local place I didn’t even know existed. I pretty much blacked out, but in between moments of clarity I observed some things.

  • This was my team and they are awesome. We are slow at hiring to make sure people are “right”. This team is totally right.
  • They were laughing and teasing and seemed like a group of friends at a reunion – not just employees working together.
  • They like working at SoapBox – while some were hesitant (like are you sure we should drive to COO’s house and surprise her hesitant) they were all happy.
  • They take care of each other (me included) – that it was I want from a team.

And finally, Dan Parcon, our VP of Operations is in deep doodoo. That’s right. Payback for this one will be of EPIC proportions. We have had a five year “prank” game running (I always win and he has zero points), but this was good. He tried to call truce. I thought he knew me better than this. There is NO TRUCE. This is only the beginning…

What is All Over Your Hands?

By | Create Value, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others, Take Risks

A Salty Story of Entrepreneurship

Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. For like two years, they were the bane of my existence. I had to listen to relentless begging from my kid. All my friends eat them. They aren’t bad for you. I swear I didn’t eat them (despite the distinct hand swipe stain on her uniform pants). Listen. I don’t personally have anything against Hot Cheetos. My kid just happens to be allergic to cow’s milk, so these are super no bueno for her. And that cheezy stuff gets all over your hands which is sort of annoying.

Why am I even talking about Flamin’ Hot Cheetos? Shouldn’t I be talking about Christmas (sorry, Holiday) Carols or seasonal baked goods? Well I re-read the story of Richard Montanez twice in the past week and wanted to share. Many of you may already know it, but too bad. You should hear it again – it is good.

Spoiler alert summary – Richard Montanez, a high school dropout, invented one of the most iconic American snack foods of all time, for Frito-Lay, while he was employed there as a janitor. Montanez called up the CEO with his idea. Yup, the janitor called up the CEO – and was put through! Today Montanez is the Vice President of Multicultural sales for PepsiCo America, and he teaches MBA classes at a college near his home in Rancho Cucamonga, CA.

The story has been told before, but my favorite version is from The Hustle, my favorite newsletter. (I plan to keep giving them shout outs until they agree to let me guest blog, or send me a cease and desist letter — whichever comes first.)

Recently, a student asked him how he was teaching without a Ph.D.

“I do have a Ph.D.,” he responded. “I’ve been poor, hungry and determined.”

In case you missed the two hyperlinks to the article posted on The Hustle, you can click here to read it.

What I love about this story is the idea that every employee can make a huge impact on their company no matter their role. I also love finding and hiring people that exhibit traits of GRIT — guts, resilience, initiative and tenacity. And Richard Montanez is a prime example of this. Mental grit is what powers a person through personal tragedy, and IMHO, will get you farther than anything else. (Further reading — The Power of Mental Grit.)

Comparison – The Thief of Joy

By | Have Fun, Inspire Ideas, Invoke Passion

Comparison /kəmˈperəsən/ noun

:the act of looking at things to see how they are similar or different

When I read my friend Francesca’s BLOG post recently, I found her message so relevant and poignant, and I wanted to share it on Telltale Ten. Too often we are judging ourselves by comparing ourselves to others. As I get older, I care less and less about what people think. I was also hit by a car (for real) which may have accelerated the awakening of my “I don’t really give a shit” nerve.

I constantly see people in both my personal and professional lives suffering from unnecessary misery (not to mention driving me a little cuckoo) by constantly comparing themselves to others. If we would all just mind our own business and stop worrying about what everyone else is doing or not doing, everyone would be a lot happier. At the very least, I would be less annoyed dealing with folks who plant themselves on the pity pot regularly.

If your life goals are to be as insecure, annoying, unhappy and as full of self-doubt as possible, I highly encourage you to constantly compare yourself to others. Better yet, compare your life to other’s social media lives. That will get you to your goal even faster. It’s pretty much a surefire rocket ride to low self-esteem.

I love the idea of writing letters to ourselves. Letters to our past selves and future selves. I really loved Cheka’s message – and she is pretty damn funny too. Hope you all enjoy this week’s Telltale Ten.

An Open Letter to My Former Self

Guest Post by Francesca Campisi

Have you ever wanted to write and postmark a letter to your younger self?

What would you say?

Would it change anything?

Lately, LIFE has been teaching me some very important lessons. We reap what we sow (obviously not something new I learned, but ya get my drift). From the time I was 21 – I sowed emotions of hurt, anger, negativity, bitterness and just so much yuckkkkkk. It took me many years, tears, and breakdowns to change my views and to start sowing joy, love, gratitude, confidence, and happiness. I reflect back on my younger days and wonder if I could have prevented the pain. But, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I wouldn’t have had to fight for that person. My story may be rough with weeds and thorns but it’s starting to blossom up roses (“WHOA!” As JOEY from BLOSSOM would say. I’m reaching huh?) My story may be long, emotional and a roller coaster ride, but let’s be honest, who likes an easy cookie cutter read?!?!

Dear Younger Self,

Where do I start? Do I start singing, ‘A Whole New World’ to you, just as Aladdin did to Jasmine while on a magic carpet ride?

|Sidenote: I have SUCCESSFULLY applied a Disney movie to my life. I can die happy now.|

Probably not. Because younger self you are cynical at times and emo.

I wish I could save you from all the pain and heartache you will experience over the next 10 years. But if I could save you, then you wouldn’t be the (WONDER) Woman of God you are today. You wouldn’t be able to experience all the happiness, joy, love, gratitude, and beauty that came from the times that were just yuckyyyyy.

Francesca, you will never be perfect. And that is okay. You will fail, fall, and plunder down some ugly stairs. But you will get back up. Do not be afraid for what’s to come. For what is ahead is a life filled with purpose and promise. From the failures, heartache, and pain – you will rise like a phoenix from the ashes.

You will meet many people, who will be in your life for one minute and gone the next. These are not your people. You will be lied too and taken advantage of. You will lose yourself in people and forsake all that you believe in. This is the ugly truth of life – that along the way sometimes we lose ourselves. However, you are not innocent in this. You also have cast stones and hurt others that have come along your path. But we can find our way back. Your tribe, your people, will love you even when you are at your lowest of lows. When you find your tribe, LOVE them hard. And in the end, your FAMILY will always be there to love and support you.

Don’t let the world views of beauty change what God has created in you. You are more than a number on the scale or the size of your Lululemons. You must learn to love yourself before you can love another. Don’t hold back from letting your light shine. The social media platforms, Facebook or Instagram, the double-tap likes, or the amount of friends do not define your worth in this world. Popularity is fleeting. Love is everlasting.

Never compare where you are in life to someone else’s highlight reel. Comparison is the thief of joy. Learn to choose faith over fear. You are a sinner by nature but by the grace of God you have been saved and you are made whole by his perfect love.

Charles Spurgeon says, “A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget me nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts not on marble.” The educator Edgar Dale, who developed the ‘Cone of Learning’ concept, claims that after 2 weeks we tend to only remember 10% of what we read but we remember 90% of what we say and do. What YOU say and do, how YOU treat others, when YOU choose to love or be kind, and express gratitude – these are the things will be left of you after you are gone.

This letter may be filled with many ‘DON’Ts’ but I hope you DO know how ah-mazing you are and how much you have to offer this world. You may not make everyone happy and at times may not be enough for others, but you can’t please everyone – you aren’t a jar of PEANUT BUTTAAAA.

But know YOU ARE ENOUGH for YO’SELF.

Love,

Francesca

Happy Blog-iversary

By | Create Value, Inspire Ideas, Invoke Passion

Dear Diary Blog –

According to research, the average lifespan of a blog is only 100 days. I didn’t make this up. Holy cow. So how did we make it to two years? Let’s be clear, that is 730 days – sounds more impressive right? Or in research speak, more than seven times the average. In blog life  you could say Telltale Ten is geriatric. She can’t hear very well, forgets things and has to pee a lot. Like blog, like author.

To celebrate the 2-year anniversary of Telltale Ten I thought it would be fun to go back and re-read the blogs. It was part fun and part torture Anyway, I also thought I’d share some of my favorite and most popular blog posts. Too bad these things don’t earn residuals. In all fairness, there were some I wanted to delete from the Blogosphere altogether, but since I am not technically savvy enough to do so, the suckiest of sucky entries are still there. The following you might find worth actually reading:

1. Just When You Think You’re Ready for the Week (August 1, 2017) Be Genuine, Create Value
2. When Life Kicks You in the A** (January 25, 2017) Be Genuine, Be Honest, Be Reasonable
3. Lazy and Genius Had a Baby (November 22, 2016) Be Genuine, Have Fun, Inspire Ideas
4. Indecision – The Evil Accomplice of Procrastination (October 18, 2016) Be Clear, Be Reasonable, Inspire Ideas, Take Risks
5. HALT — Stop, In the Name of Love (September 20, 2016) Be Clear, Be Genuine, Be Honest, Be Reasonable
6. Let It Go – Helpful Advice, Not Just an Annoying Song (August 30, 2016) Be Reasonable, Take Risks
7. Save Your Apple – No Teacher’s Pets Here (June 28, 2016) Create Value, Inspire Ideas, Invoke Passion, Take Risks
8. So You Wanna Be the Boss? (August 2, 2016) Be Honest, Be Reasonable, Take Risks
9. What Do Waffles, Luna Bars and Diet Coke Have in Common? (June 21, 2016) Be Genuine, Have Fun, Invoke Passion
10. I Ran Out of Gas (May 17, 2016) Be Genuine, Be Reasonable, Take Risks

I’ve learned a ton of lessons during my last two years as a blogger, and two worth noting from a business perspective.  One, free marketing is awesome. Two, blogging can be a great way to help make key decisions about those who be might be a ‘fit”. When clients or prospects or employees identify with the blog content, it’s a good sign they may be a good fit to work with; they are probably just the right amount of crazy.

My biggest aha from my two-year lookback, is that I really suck at writing things I am not passionate about or that are not current issues/challenges/adventures/happenings in my life. Here’s the truth. I don’t totally LOVE most of what I wrote in 2017. Some of it I don’t like at all. Reflecting on the topics I first tackled in the beginning has been a good reminder of why I wanted to start a blog in the first place. Looking ahead, my goal for Telltale Ten is to expand my audience to reach more people who are searching for that extra push to get them to the next level, whether it be in their personal lives, starting a business, growing a business, being a better parent, or a healthier person. So stay tuned for more whacky top ten lists, life hacks, and real talk. Let’s have a little fun and laugh as much as possible – at my expense of course.

 

Thanks for reading!

Yay! My Kid is Not a Jerk.

By | Create Value, Inspire Ideas, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

So back in April, I wrote a BLOG called “Lessons From a Ten Year Old” about my seemingly unreasonable happiness over my daughter Antonella’s journey of turning a No into a Yes. Through hard work, pure determination, and relentless desire she earned a spot on the Hyht Gymnastics Pre-Team. In case you didn’t read it (you should), here’s the recap. Her coach gave her the good news that she finally made pre-team, but in the same breath she also told her, “I only want kids who work hard. If you stop working hard, you will be removed from the pre-team. If you keep working hard, you may actually make it from pre-team to team. Your work is just starting.”

Your work is just starting. Super powerful words. How a ten year old will act on those words is a total crap shoot. Ella had worked her a$$ off to get to her goal and it was just the beginning. Her commitment up until that point simply prepared her for the next phase of hard work. It was just one obstacle of many. In my last BLOG on this topic, I wrote about how happy I was that she didn’t make the pre-team on the first go around. And I meant it. I still mean it. Once she made the pre-team I was CERTAIN she was not going to like it. It meant more practice, which meant more drills, more working out and worst of all (for Ella) running sprints.

Well I was wrong. She embraced the challenge. Not without complaint, but she kept at it. She got her Dad to build her a beam and taught herself the Level 3 Team USA Gymnastics Beam routine from YouTube – she wasn’t even on the team. She had a list of skills she had to learn, and slowly kept knocking them off the list. The worst one was the back handspring. That damn back handspring. She practiced for months and months and just couldn’t get over the fear. She couldn’t, correction, wouldn’t do it. We endured months of “Will you spot me?” day after day. Her Dad and I were sure she would never get it. Some days I wanted to say, “No, I will not spot you again – just give it up. You won’t get it. Let’s just go inside.” You probably think I am a total douche, but seriously, try doing the same thing, day after day, watching a kid just flail around. It is not fun. And God bless her nanny. I bet she spotted that kid 1000 times – at minimum. But she kept at it.

She saved up her money sold stuff on Etsy and Poshmark and finally earned enough money to buy a tumbling trampoline. Yes, she is a working actor earning a nice paycheck. But she doesn’t get to spend that money – sorry kid. You will thank me some day when we didn’t let you blow all the dough. She even talked her Nana into having a yard sale in the dead of the summer in the heat. It was 110 degrees that day. But she had some money to make! She is a very persuasive young lady. And guess what? It took several months, but she finally earned the $500 to buy the trampoline.
She practices on that thing until it gets dark. “Wait, just one more. Can you watch?” Armed with her mat, her homemade beam, and her tumbling trampoline, she has just kept on keeping on. And guess what? She got that back handspring, and a dozen or so other skills. One by one. She would come home after practice each day and tell me if she earned gym bucks for a new skill. Some days she would bust through the door screaming “I got my back hip circle today” or whatever it was and other times she would say she had more work to do.

Yesterday she turned eleven years old. Today she went to practice despite being convinced she has a broken toe (she is the one convinced not us or we would actually take her to a doctor – we aren’t total a$$hole parents). Her coach pulled her aside before class started and told her she made the team. Ella had NO idea she was going to get that news. No idea at all. She was just showing up, with her broken toe, to practice.

As her parent, my belly gets all squirmy with excitement thinking how it must have felt in her little heart when she got that news. How proud she must have felt, and how badly she wanted to run home and tell us. As a business leader, I find this type of unrelenting focus, unceasing drive and bullish tenacity to overcome something outside of your comfort zone, is what it takes to be great. And look at that, I may have just defined greatness (Why Tony the Tiger is My Idol).

The Road Show Rolls On

By | Have Fun, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

This week at SoapBoxSample we held an all-hands meeting where we talked about the things that keep us motivated — through the stress, through the long hours, and through the demanding projects. One of my biggest motivators has always been working out. Almost any type of physical activity helps me focus, centers me, and just makes me feel good. But why should I have all the fun? I like to encourage (some would say force) my staff to get outdoors and do the same. This week Matt Thurston, the COO of icanmakeitbetter (our insight community platform) flew in from Austin to spend some time with the Van Nuys office. I encouraged (it was optional I swear) Matt and our Senior Account Executive Anthony Bean to head up to Runyon Canyon at the end of the day to check out the best view that Los Angeles has to offer. Seeing them conquer that hill make me think it was time to revisit one of my favorite blog posts — Work Out Road Show. Yes, it is possible to stay in shape when you travel for work. And sometimes the best way to see the sights is while you’re sweaty and out of breath and being harassed by a small blonde drill sergeant who looks like Amy Poehler.

Digging Deep – Success Happens Outside the Comfort Zone

By | Be Genuine, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

What do a former roller derby player, a French-trained Sabreur, the President of SoCal Toastmasters and an international marathon runner all have in common? That would be Aaron. To be more specific, it would be SoapBoxSample’s Director of Systems and Programming, Aaron Cole.

The first employee of SoapBox, Aaron is a fashion extraordinaire (who refuses to buy his clothes in America), a recovered hair-dyeing addict, a current tattoo addict, a vegetarian, an artist, a Spartan and a world traveler.

Come to think of it, he may have way too many hobbies to actually be doing any work. Hmmm….

He also has somehow managed to buy the exact right gift for my daughter every single year, from talking storybook dogs, to fuzzy slippers and phone cases, he has an uncanny knack for buying her just the right Christmas gift each and every year. If I didn’t know him so well, I’d think it was creepy. But he likely does all kinds of research as that is just the way he is.

Oh – and he trained his dog, Charlie, to run races with him. They also have been known to wear matching costumes for Halloween.

Aaron is also this week’s guest blogger! Check out Aaron’s guide to digging deep and pushing beyond your limits.

A Guide to Completing a Marathon in the Outback …Without Getting Yourself Killed

Guest Post by Aaron Cole

I was all alone in the middle of the Australian Outback, running up a sand dune. Dehydration and exhaustion threatened to overtake me. This was Mile 19. I still had 7 more miles to go. How did I complete my mission? By following the simple, but difficult, steps outlined below.

I’m happy to say that I not only survived the Australian Outback, but that I also finished in 4th place overall, was the first American to cross the finish line, and beat my own personal best time by over 15 minutes with a final finish time of 3hrs 23min 25sec.

When I first decided that I wanted to complete a marathon on all seven continents, I immediately began looking for the most unique, exciting, and memorable races I could find. For my third continent I settled on the Australian Outback Marathon; 26.2 miles of grueling masochism through one of the world’s harshest environments. (I also raised nearly $1,000 to support The Wilderness Society to help protect Australia’s many endangered and at-risk species.)

Curious how this went from an idea to a reality? Here’s how I did it.

  1. Have a Vision and Purpose: Running a marathon wasn’t enough for me, I also wanted to raise funds and awareness for The Wilderness Society. Whether for your own benefit or the benefit of others, having a vision and purpose is essential as it serves as the foundation for your motivation and drive.
  2. Set Goals (and Follow Through): In the 16 weeks leading up to the Outback Marathon I averaged 50+ miles of running per week. It. Was. Not. Easy. Some days I didn’t feel like putting in the work, but I had a vision and I knew that if I didn’t accomplish the goals I set for myself, it would jeopardize my ability to accomplish my mission.
  3. Just Do It: Like the slogan goes, you’ve got to get it done. When I felt tired, weary, or my schedule was jam-packed, it created obstacles for my training plan. It’s not easy to run 50+ miles when you’re working Monday through Friday and then lose your weekend to other responsibilities, but if you want to accomplish something great, you’ve got to put in a greater amount of effort. This involved many late night runs, running while on the go, re-organizing my schedule, and a whole lot of commitment.
  4. Prepare for the Specifics: If your goals aren’t targeted and purposeful, you won’t be successful in your mission. In order to prepare myself, both physically and mentally, I ran a lot of hills, long distances of up to 22 miles, and sandy beach runs. This gave my legs the experience, built the resistance, and helped to get my head in the right mind frame for the challenges I would face in the desert of the Outback.
  5. Support and Accountability: Putting in this much time and effort can be draining, and it can be easy to slip, so having a support network is essential to keeping you on track! Family, friends, business associates, or anyone else that can lend positivity and support are all crucial to your success. I joined several running groups, finding camaraderie with my running mates and even gaining new tricks and tips to improve my skills. I also found greater consistency in my training, helping me to accomplish my 50+ miles per week goal with significantly greater ease!
  6. Have Fun Along the Way: As I mentioned, the time and effort you put in to accomplish your mission can be draining at times, so you need to find ways to re-fuel your energy. This will vary from person to person, it’s really what’s works for you. For me, however, I used food, travel, and other races to keep me motivated. Rewarding yourself with a giant cinnamon roll with blueberries, almonds and cream cheese after a long and hilly 22-mile run is pretty much the best thing ever!
  7. Take Care of Yourself: It can be easy to overlook your own personal well-being when you become so engrossed in accomplishing your goals, but the impact of an injury can be far greater than the moments you spend to rest and recover. Even in a more professional setting, it can be easy to burn out if you don’t have a way to vent the stresses and take care of your mind and body. I had to nurse some injuries, ease back on training, and allow myself the time to recoup, which in the end resulting in even greater improvement, allowing me to far exceed my performance expectations!
  8. Dig Deep: All the motivation, support, and sense of purpose you carry may feel irrelevant when you’re faced with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. But I’m here to tell you that nothing is impossible, and any obstacle can be overcome. This is when you need to dig deep and draw from within. For the last 10 miles of the Australian Outback Marathon, I was running in complete isolation; not another runner for over a mile in either direction. I was combating dehydration from the desert’s dry heat, and come Mile 19, the final sand dune drained the last of my strength. The remaining 7 miles I had nothing left. I was running on fumes. But I never stopped running, I never lost sight of my mission, and I dug really, really, REALLY deep.
  9. Celebrate and Recover: Victory! With your mission complete, it’s time to bask in the glory of your accomplishment. Savor this success and know that you’ve earned it! But don’t be too quick to jump into your next mission, give yourself time to recover so that you can tackle the next one with the same energy and enthusiasm.

After all this I’ll bet you’re feeling ready to tackle a marathon of your own, right?? Maybe not. But that’s okay, because these strategies apply to more than just running marathons, you can apply this to any dream or goal you wish to accomplish. Whether your passion is to open your own restaurant, grow your business by 50% in the next 12 months, or even something as simple as learning how to roller skate, if you follow these steps, I can guarantee your success.

However, if you don’t find success with these steps, please direct any complaints and refund requests to Jacqueline Rosales c/o Telltale Ten!