Archive for July, 2008

When Others Are Absent

My wife and I recently entered into a fishing competition. A group of us entered the competition together.  We had two boats and five people: my wife and I, her father, our niece, and a neighbor.  We had two boats between us.

The first morning, my wife and I went in the boat with the neighbor. We didn’t know him, he didn’t know us. It was an eye opening morning, and it was NOT because of the fish! Instead, my wife and I were shocked to hear how this man spoke of his wife.  He continually complained about her, stating that he did all of the work and that “she doesn’t do anything”.

Certainly this man was out of line.  It reminded me of an important saying, “always speak well of people in their absence.” In other words, never speak negatively of someone behind their back.  Don’t gossip, don’t complain, only speak good things.  Speaking negatively of others when they are not present does not help anyone, it only causes hurt:

  • You don’t look any better.  By speaking negatively about others when they are not there, those that hear you will view you more negatively.
  • People will not trust you.  If you speak negatively about someone else, how do I know you won’t do the same to me?
  • The person you are speaking of doesn’t look better. The words you say will have an effect on the person you are speaking about.  Their reputation will take a hit.  People will believe what you say, even if they inwardly ridicule you for saying it.

If instead, you do the opposite and speak good of others in their absence many good things will happen:

  • You will look better.  People like to be around positive people and by speaking well of others you demonstrate your positive life outlook.
  • You will feel better.  It always feels better to lift up others.  You may be tempted to speak down about someone so that you look superior to them, but that is rarely the true effect.
  • People will trust you more.  These people will see how you speak highly of others, and believe that you may speak the same about them.
  • You elevate the standing of the other person.  Not only do people trust you and think more highly of you, but your words have now elevated the stature of another person.  You are making a difference in their life.
  • The other person will eventually hear about your kind words.  While I might not share negative comments made about someone, I’m more likely to share the positive comment, and even compliment the person in question about it.

In our fishing competition, the negative neighbor didn’t do any good to himself or his wife by speaking negatively about her.  A simple switch of attitude would have been helpful.  When others are absent, always speak well of them.

If you enjoyed this article, please Digg it! I would appreciate it!

Posted on July 31st, 2008 by The Success Professor  |  4 Comments »

6 Steps to Plan Your Week for Success

Effective planning and goal setting is important. Often we hear lessons about having long-term goals, and annual goals, but to keep on track and keep your business, and life, moving forward the goals and plans to achieve those goals must be broken down into weekly and daily bites. As the famous saying goes, the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. By following these simple steps, you will get more completed, you will accomplish more of the right things, and you will reach more of your goals.

Step #1 – Define your life roles
In his book, First Things First Stephen Covey recommends dividing your life into the various roles you fill. For example, my roles including: my job as a college professor, my role as a blogger, and my work as an entrepreneur. I also have an important role as a husband, and another with my involvement in my faith community.

Beyond these sorts of roles, everyone should also include personal development goals. Covey recommends capping your number of roles at seven. These roles will change from time to time as your life changes, but they should cover the important aspects of your life.

Step #2 – Set goals for each of your life roles
Now that you’ve divided your life into a number of manageable roles it’s important to set goals for each goal. By setting important goals each week in each of your roles, you will be able to keep a better balance in your life. I recommend setting about 2-4 goals in each of your important roles. Now at certain times you will need to be in a period of focused imbalance for a few weeks, putting more efforts into one of the roles than the others, but over the long-term you should remember to always be setting goals in each of the life roles. The goals on this list should be based directly off of your long-term goals. In other words, you should be doing things each week that help you move towards your long-term goals. It is these activities that are your weekly goals.

Step #3 – Schedule all meetings and booked times
Each week you will likely have a number of appointments, meetings and scheduled events that you have to be at. These are things that you can’t avoid as you have to be at a certain place at a certain time. Schedule these into a day planner. I strongly recommend using a planner with a week at a time view. Each week I book in the classes I need to teach, any athletic events I’m participating in, and other meetings and obligations. You should still have plenty of blank space remaining for the rest of your tasks and other meetings that may pop up.

Step #4 – Schedule time for your most important projects
Using your goals list that you developed in step two, schedule the most important ones into the space left in your day planner. Be sure to allow time for goals in each role including those that are not directly professional goals. Allow for time with your spouse and children. Allow time to serve others and time to grow.

Step #5 – On a daily basis plan your next day
Each night before you go to bed, take 10 or 15 minutes with your weekly goals sheet and plan a daily to do list for the next day. Use your weekly goals to plan tasks to do the next day. Write this list in order of importance starting with the most important tasks to complete the next day. Add to this list any phone calls you need to make, emails you need to send or any other small things that may have come up throughout the day. By writing them down you won’t forget any important details. With a daily plan like this when you start each day you will have a list of priorities that correspond to your weekly goals.

Step #6 – Remember people are most important
One risk with any type of weekly or daily plan is that you can become so focused on the goals and schedule that you don’t have time for anyone who comes in your way. You may find yourself angry when you are interrupted by your child or spouse. While some uninterrupted time is important, it is also vital to remember that people are more important than things. Chances are that you are working so hard in order to provide for your family. Don’t neglect the opportunity to act with love towards them now. Use your schedule as a guide but don’t let it control you.

As you follow these steps, be sure to adjust them in anyway you need so that you can be most effective and most efficient at what you do. Set weekly goals, organize your daily tasks and work hard to achieve them. You will reach YOUR goals!

Danny Gamache
The Success Professor

Posted on July 29th, 2008 by The Success Professor  |  10 Comments »

6 Success Principles From The Tour de France

Success in the Tour

Photo: Guano

As the 2008 edition of the Tour de France wraps up, it is a good time to reflect on some of the success principles that are evident in the Tour and that can be applied in the rest of our lives.  The Tour de France is a grueling bike race that goes for 21 days (or stages).  The winners (and in to some extent all who compete) follow these success principles.

1. You need to have a good team – The Tour de France, and professional cycling in general, is an individual sport that requires team work.  At the end of each year’s Tour there is only one winner, but the winner needs a strong team to win.  This year’s tour has been dominated by team CSC.  The individual winner is Carlos Sastre from that team.  There are many ways that Sastre’s team helped him win. For example:

  • team members set the pace – especially on the difficult mountain stages, Sastre’s team mates would ride at the front setting the pace for him.
  • team members protect the leader – cyclists generally ride in a group known as the pelaton.  Sastre’s teammates surrounded Satre in the pelaton protecting him in the event of a crash
  • team members help carry the load – throughout the race teammates go back to the team car and bring up water, energy bars and other forms of  sustenance to their team leader.

For success in life and business everyone needs this kind of team.  Who is your team?  If you don’t have one, look for ways to develop a team around you.

2. You need to be prepared for different stages – The 21 stages of the Tour de France are not all the same.  Basically, the stages can be broken down into three categories.  There are flat stages, mountain stages and individual time trials.  Each stage needs a different kind of strategy and mindset.   In a flat stage of the Tour de France, the team leader needs to simply stay with the pack.  They need to make sure no top contendor (ie. anyone with a chance to beat them) gets away.  By finishing with the pelaton the team leader will not lose any time and will continue with his chances to win.

On a mountain stage the team works together to get the team leader over the first mountains, with the knowledge that the team leader may end up all alone on the final climb ready to fight it out with the other top cyclists.  Mountain stages are the most difficult and require the most effort but are were the winners separate themselves from the pack.  On the primary mountain stage of this year’s Tour, Carlos Sastre beat is main competitor by over two minutes.

The final stage type is the individual time trial.  In this stage each individual rides alone against the clock.  There are no teammates and no competitors around to race directly against.  The winner must do well (or excel) during the time trial.

Life has similar stages.  At times you simply need to stay with the pack, rely on your teammates and just keep riding ahead.  At other times you are all alone climbing a mountain.  These times are very difficult, but this is where the biggest rewards are found.  Your team can get you there, but you need to climb the mountain yourself.  Finally, there are times that are just like the individual time trial.  You are all alone.  You have no team, no competitors to mark yourself against, you just need to put your nose down and keep on going.

3.Understand that everybody has a bad day sometime – Over the 21 stages of the Tour it is a common understanding that everyone will have a bad day sometime.  This year was no different.  All of the race favorites had at least one bad day.  Even in his prime, Lance Armstrong had bad days.  The champions are the ones who push through on their bad days and limit their losses.

In life, everyone will have bad days.  In those bad days champions in life, and the Tour, need to maintain a positive attitude, continue to work hard, and rely on our teammates.   We cannot give in to our bad days, let our attitude go negative, or stop working.

4. Persistence Pays Off – Most champions of the Tour exhibit a significant level of persistence.  Lance Armstrong is perhaps the most famous example of this as he persisted through his fight with cancer and subsequent return to cycling.  Sastre also demonstrated persistance having competed in ten prior Tours.  During that time he had 5 top tens including a 3rd and a 4th place finish.

Success does not always happen immediately.  In fact for many it is this kind of persistence which is needed for success.  Too many give up early.  They are satisfied with a ‘top 10 finish’, or give up when they have a significant challenge.  Persistence is a key to success.

5. Ride like you’re wearing yellow – The leader of the Tour de France wears the famous Yellow Jersey to signify their lead.  An interesting thing tends to happen when a rider takes the lead and puts on the Yellow Jersey: they tend to ride better.  Wearing yellow brings out another level in many riders.  This has been seen year after year in the Tour.  This year Sastre entered the final time trial with a minute and a half lead over his top competitors.  Sastre however, is not good at the time trial.  Virtually every expert and commentator figured he would lose the lead.  Spurred on by the Yellow Jersey and the knowledge of the opportunity to win the Tour, Sastre pulled out the performance of his life, droping only 30 seconds of his lead.

Did wearing yellow actually change Sastre’s abilities?  Of course not.  Sastre had the ability to do a good time trial in him all the time.  It took the inspiration from wearing yellow to pull it out of him.  What abilities do you have that you aren’t using?  Live like you are wearing yellow.  Take hold of the things that inspire you and live with that inspiration.

6. Know your goal – When you enter the Tour you need to know your goal.  Each team must set their goals and each individual rider has goals within that.  For some the goal is to win the Tour.  Others aim for a top ten finish, and others simply aim to win an individual stage.    Your goal will determine your strategy.

Once you have determined your overall goal, you then need to set goals for each stage.  Is this a stage you want to attack on, trying to gain time on your competitors? Or is this a stage to defend your current position?  The goal for each stage is set by the team in order to help reach the individual goals within the team.

The same principle is true in other areas of life.  You need to have your overarching goal that you are pursing.  Within the overarching goal you need to break it down into weekly and daily goals.  Knowing what you want to accomplish will set you up for success.


Sastre spoke after his win was sealed, summing up many of these points: “I think the key to our victory was to care for one another. And to take decisions in the right moments, knowing what we wanted and how we wanted it. We believed in ourselves, and that’s how we won the Tour de France.” What is your goal?  Who is your team?  Work towards your goal, know that you will have bad days but persist through the challenges.  Understand that life will take you through different stages but always live like you are wearing yellow.

Posted on July 27th, 2008 by The Success Professor  |  1 Comment »

Life Laundry Day

As you have like figured out (assuming you linked here from my original blog), I’m switching to WordPress from Blogger.  Overall it has been a very good experience.  It does mean that I’ll be making frequent changes to the layout over the next week and a half.  I leave for the Olympics on August 4th, so I need to get things set up a little more organized before then!

In the mean time, I want to encourage you to check out this post:

Actually, don’t CHECK OUT the article – follow the article! Put it into action.  Take a step today by determining your life

laundry day for this week, and then tell me how it went!


Posted on July 25th, 2008 by The Success Professor  |  No Comments »

When to Start Giving?

Tim Ferris, author of “The Four Hour Work Week”, recently answered the question: when should I start giving: right away or wait until I’m rich?

I really enjoyed Tim’s post. You can read it here:

PS. If you haven’t read his book, it is well worth it. It is guaranteed to get you thinking.

Posted on July 21st, 2008 by The Success Professor  |  No Comments »

A Wicked Example of Customer Service

Hello everyone,

I’m back from our vacation time and I’ll be posting regularly for the next couple of weeks before I leave for the Olympics.

One of the things that we did on our vacation was to take in the musical Wicked in Chicago. The musical itself was phenomenal and I highly recommend it. Before the musical started there was a great illustration on the importance of customer service and taking initiative.

When we got to our seats my wife and I noticed that there was a railing obstructing our view. This was frustrating as we had paid for full-price tickets, not obstructed view seats.

I spotted an official looking attendant who was clearly supervising the ushers. I approached her with the situation. She immediately went into blame mode putting all of the responsibility on the box office. She explained that the box office determines the seats. She stated that she could not do anything for me and that I would have to go to the box office. With only a few minutes before the start of the show there was not time for this if I wanted to catch the opening scene. I went back to my seat even more frustrated.

A couple of minutes later I saw another official looking lady who was also clearly a supervisor. I approached her with the issue. Her reaction was the opposite to the first supervisor. She immediately checked out our seats and apologized for the blocked view. She not only sympathized with us, but agreed that the seats should not have been full priced seats. She left us for a moment as she looked for other alternatives. Quickly she returned with two alternative seating options, both lower and better spots. Finally at the intermission she came and checked to make sure we were happy with our new seats.

The difference in how the two supervisors handled the situation was amazing. The first one left us with now solution, and increased my frustration level by how dismissive of our concern. The second supervisor made us extra happy with our evening and with how she resolved the situation. The theater is lucky to have the second supervisor. I’ve been recommending the show to everyone, something I may not have done if we hadn’t had our seats changed.

How is your customer service? Do you go out of the way to take care of your customers? Do your employees? Employees need to be empowered. If you are employee, you can distinguish yourself and make yourself invaluable by providing great customer service.

Whatever your role, customer service needs to be your priority. Great customer service will create fantastic word of mouth for you and your business.

- The Success Professor

PS. To earn more income visit:

Posted on July 19th, 2008 by The Success Professor  |  5 Comments »