Featured Posts

I don't want to settle, do you? One of the main reasons I decided to create this blog was because I wanted to share my thoughts, struggles, losses and victories on following through with others. I could...

Readmore

Coloring outside the lines I have three beautiful goddaughters who are wise beyond their 4 years. Ok, so it is possible that I may be a tad biased, but whenever I get to spend time with them they inevitably...

Readmore

My wife married an athlete, but now she's stuck with... What is it about hitting 30 that changes so much? In my 20s it was harder to talk myself into taking a day off from working out than it was to talk myself into going to...

Readmore

What if I'm not an Outlier? In my constant quest to figure out the "It Factor" that true follow-throughers have enabling them to actually achieve the goals they set out to accomplish I'm always looking...

Readmore

I want to be a follow-througher! We’ve all done it. We’ve all seen a movie, heard a song, seen an ad, watched a show, read an article, read a book, tried a product…. we’ve all seen or used something...

Readmore

Follow Throughers Rss

Coloring outside the lines

Posted on : 11-29-2010 | By : Adam Piotrowski | In : Change, Entrepreneurship

2

I have three beautiful goddaughters who are wise beyond their 4 years.
Ok, so it is possible that I may be a tad biased, but whenever I get to spend time with them they inevitably do something that reminds me that their generation will someday be smarter than ours.

Over Thanksgiving I was fortunate enough to spend some time with one of them who I don’t get to see very often. I was standing in the kitchen as my wife was sitting with her doing some coloring.   As my wife meticulously colored in the drawings of the Tinkerbell scene on her page, Alexis went at her page with broad strokes of random colors at will.

My wife paused as we both watched her. As an adult, our natural tendency would be to “teach” her to take her time and fill in the drawings with the colors that made sense – yellow for the hair, green for the grass, etc. As if she sensed our disapproving glances she paused, looked up at us and said:

“It’s funner to color outside the lines.”

I couldn’t help but feel proud when she said that.  What a wise statement from a four-year old.  I hope she can keep that mentality as she goes through life, but sadly there will be countless societal forces trying to beat it into her that it’s not ok to color outside the lines.

I had a fantastic vocal coach once who made a similar point that I’m sure you never thought of, but will make a lot of sense once you hear it.

She would always say that we’re all born with loud voices.  While we may not necessarily all be singers, we’re all born with lungs capable of belting for hours on end.  I also spent Thanksgiving with my two newest nieces (Alexis’ little twin sisters) and let me state for the record that these 3 month olds had no problem pushing their vocal chords all day and all night. No warm-up or cool down needed. My voice hurt just thinking about it.

But then it begins.  Everyone around us starts conditioning us to quiet down:

- “Shhh…”
- “Hush, not so loud”
- “Quiet please”
- “Inside voices children”

Then before we know it, we can’t sing out loud anymore.  We need to actually find a vocal coach to help us relearn to breathe properly so that we can use our voices as freely as we did when we were young.

I see the same things holding our ideas back.  We’re all visionaries when we’re little, but then we grow up with so many different forces telling us what we can’t do and what we should do that our instincts can shift from originality towards status quo.

It’s pretty tough to do something big, something unique, something innovative with that mindset so here’s to taking a lesson from my goddaughter and trying to relearn how to color outside the lines.

I don’t want to settle, do you?

Posted on : 11-22-2010 | By : Adam Piotrowski | In : Business, Change, Entrepreneurship, Ideas

3

One of the main reasons I decided to create this blog was because I wanted to share my thoughts, struggles, losses and victories on following through with others. I could have just made notes for myself and given myself morning pep talks in front of the mirror, but sometimes the sign of a smart individual is admitting that you may have a better chance of accomplishing something with a group than on your own. So I decided to create a blog and not just keep a journal. The idea is to create a community and essential to that is sharing other great resources.

Travis Robertson is someone I met my first week in Nashville. Travis definitely embodies the visionary thinking and drive that I think anyone who hopes to follow-through on something big must have. Recently, Travis started a blog called Don’t Settle. In his words:

“Too many people settle for average, mediocre lives. They make a choice that building a life of significance – a life that matters is too difficult. So they go through life working for the weekends and vacations. They’re unhappy, unhealthy, bored, burnt out, frustrated, tired, and lost. This isn’t how life is supposed to feel!”

I think we can all relate to that feeling. We’ve all been there, stuck in a point in our lives when we’re just going through the motions.  So what is it then that paralyzes us from breaking out of that monotony? True, in the tough job climate we’ve seen the past couple years giving up the security of a comfortable situation may be an intimidating proposition. Or is that just another excuse to put something your passionate about and could truly excel at on the backburner once again? I guess what I’m saying is, if now isn’t a good time to take a chance, then when is?

I’ve taken some big chances in my life and it was scary each time. Yet, each time I did take a leap of faith, whether or not it worked out as planned, it always seemed to spring me into something better than before. Funny enough, as I write this I now realize that the cycle naturally wants to start over in that whenever you reach a point again where you need to take another jump it’s as if your logic forgets that it was a good decision before and so many forces within you (and maybe around you) try to keep you from taking that next jump. Are we starting to see a pattern here?

I’m definitely at one of these points again in my own life. I’ve had a few big ideas that have sat on the backburner for far too long. Can’t say exactly why because I am genuinely passionate about them. It would be easy to say I was just too busy to get at them before, but I don’t think lack of time is ever really a valid excuse. If it matters enough to you, you’ll find the time to make it happen.

So here I am, telling myself again to go ahead and take a jump, to not settle. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t. But at least I’ll know. I think that all of us already have too many “what ifs” in our lives and to me, those are way harder to live with than trying something that doesn’t work out.

Everyday’s a battle

Posted on : 11-17-2010 | By : Adam Piotrowski | In : Change, Fitness

Tags: , ,

2


A good friend of mine has a saying:

“Everyday you’re either
winning or you’re losing”

For the record, he is the embodiment of what it means to be a follow-througher and an all-around bad-ass. He went to the Naval Academy after which he decided he wanted to be a runner even though he had never been a competitive runner. In fact, of my competitive memories of him growing up (he was the first friend I ever remember making), where he perhaps most excelled was as a hockey goalie – not exactly a position you’d probably equate with a future runner.

Well, it didn’t take him long to become the top runner on the marine core marathon team. That wasn’t enough so he went on to do triathlons where he would routinely finish in the top for his age group in even the biggest races. If that wasn’t enough he became an ultramarathoner, running 100 mile races at altitude!

Needless to say, he has a level of follow-through and determination that not many are able to maintain. Stepping back and taking a look at some of what he’s accomplished to this point he’s done some pretty incredible things.

I think his philosophy of every day being a battle has played a great role in his success. For me it doesn’t mean the same as the old saying of “taking it one day at a time”. “Taking it one day at a time” to me gives a sense more of surviving each day whereas “everyday you’re either winning or your losing” strikes me as a much more proactive approach to life. It’s easy to sit back and say that today is just one day in the grand scheme of our life so what’s the big deal. But Blake doesn’t work that way. He strongly believes that each day the decisions you make either move you closer to your goals, or put you further from reaching them. I’ve heard him say it, but I’ll be honest and say I haven’t genuinely lived that way.

For example, this post was supposed to go up on Monday. It’s now Wednesday. That may seem small, but to me it means that for two days I was losing in this aspect of my life. Rather than moving forward I was moving back.

The actions we take contribute to the patterns of our life and if, as the saying goes, we win most of our days by making positive decisions and following-through well then, that sets us up for a pretty winning life. Like any battle, you can’t win ‘em all so we’ll have our losing days. The goal though is to put more marks in the W column.

So how did you do today?

Breaking out of your shell

Posted on : 11-08-2010 | By : Adam Piotrowski | In : Business, Change, Networking, Relationships

1

How often to you take a minute and try to think about the aspects of your persona that could possibly be holding you back from achieving your goals?

I don’t spend enough time focusing on the things I’m not good at.  Let’s face it, if we’re not good at something we probably don’t enjoy it and if we don’t enjoy it then, you guessed it, we’d probably rather not spend time thinking about it.  We’d all rather focus on the things we love doing and do well, no?

One of the first times I remember being aware of this need was thanks to my high school soccer coach.  Soccer wasn’t the biggest sport in MN when I was growing up.  It wasn’t really that big at all.  But somehow that’s what I loved and thanks to my Dad spending countless hours with me in the backyard I was able to get pretty good at it.  Good enough that I could always get by focusing on the parts of the game I was good at and loved while getting away with not doing all the little things (ahem defense anyone?).  But hey, it’s not like they were going to put someone else in for me, right? So I thought.

That changed in high school because our coach was a great coach.  I think I probably hated him at first because it seemed like all we talked about was the things I didn’t do well.  Of course, all I could think was: “But hey, can’t you see how hard I can shoot?  Or how many guys I megged (put the ball through a defender’s legs)?”

Now I know that he did appreciate those things (ok, maybe not the excessive megging), but what he knew that I didn’t was that being great at a few things is not good enough if you don’t address your weak points.  While not a superstar by any means, except for maybe in the eyes of my parents, I was able to play at a pretty decent college level and have some success beyond what most soccer players growing up in MN were able to be a part of.  I can say without a doubt that would never had happened had it not have been for my coach’s insistence on focusing on the weaker parts of my game.

So now as I enter a new chapter in my professional life and try to make the switch from player to leader I’ve been asking myself what are the weak parts of my game?  What aspects do I need to get better at that need to help me follow-through on a more consistent basis?

Given that I just relocated to Nashville and am in a new place with a limited network what I’m focusing on first is breaking out of my shell and putting myself out there more.   Don’t get me wrong, I’m not shy, but I’m also not the one to typically just start the conversation.  One step I’m trying to take here is to make a more conscious effort to meet more people.  I’ve always said that your life is only as good as the people you have around you.  That’s easy to say when you have a great group of friends and family.  But what happens when you’re thrust into a new environment?

I feel like I’ve met a lot of great people already in my first few weeks in Nashville.  That’s not to say that there’s a greater population of great people here than in other places I’ve lived, but I’m making more of an effort.  Part of the thanks goes to Ryan Bitzer who I was fortunate to meet over coffee a couple of weeks ago.  Ryan spends his days as VP of Business Development at sparkart.com making kick-ass websites and implementing online marketing strategies for artists like Bon Jovi and Carrie Underwood. A like-minded individual also passionate about music and interactive media, I tried to take a page out or Ryan’s book when he told me that he has a weekly goal of trying to meet two new people every week.

I had never heard that before, but it sounded great so I thought why not.  So far, so good and I’ve met some really cool people.  Let’s face it, there are a lot of great people out there (and yes, a few not-so-great ones as well, but win some, lose some), but how many do you ever get the chance to even share a conversation with.  We can always learn something new from someone else.  That’s what growing is about, no?

So I’m breaking out of my shell.  Not sure who the two new people will be this week.  Maybe you if we haven’t met?

And I’ll throw down the gauntlet to you as well, invite someone you don’t know to coffee or a beer this week and come tell us about it.

My wife married an athlete, but now she’s stuck with me

Posted on : 11-01-2010 | By : Adam Piotrowski | In : Fitness

Tags: ,

2

What is it about hitting 30 that changes so much?

In my 20s it was harder to talk myself into taking a day off from working out than it was to talk myself into going to the gym.  After 30 it’s been the opposite.

The odd thing is, I still love how I feel when I’m on a run, but until I am actually out the door and start running, running is about the last thing I want to do each day. And let’s just say it’s started to show.

Battling for work-out consistency is something I think most of us can relate to. And there are thousands of programs and probably hundreds of thousands of books and websites on ways to follow-through on your fitness goals. I have to admit that I’m at a bit of a loss lately since I haven’t really found it so tough in the past. Maybe I can take a little from Cialdini’s book and add in a little commitment to consistency on record? I haven’t tried that before, so I would say it’s worth a shot here.

And if not for me, than at least I owe it to my wife.   After all, when she agreed to live happily ever after with me I was an athlete and  not too unpleasant to look at with my shirt off.   Now I haven’t been able to wear my favorite jeans in over a year. :(

So here I am on public record saying that in 3 months I will fit into my favorite jeans again.  Photo proof will be provided.

Goal: Fit into favorite jeans
Realistic weight drop needed to achieve goal: 20 lbs.
Start Date: Nov 1st, 2010
Target Date: Feb 1st, 2010

Ok, off for a run.
If you have some tips for what gets you off the couch and into your workout gear let me know!

Taking lessons from someone who gets it

Posted on : 10-27-2010 | By : Adam Piotrowski | In : Entrepreneurship, Ideas

0

According to the US government, there were over 29.5 million small business alone active in the U.S. This doesn’t even account for the medium and large companies that were started by visionaries. Now granted, the majority of businesses fail, but all of these people had at least the follow-through to get it up and running.

And if we look at the ones that actually make it, how many of them are revolutionary ideas? Not too many. And how many great ideas were part of the failures, or even the non-starters. A whole lot I’m sure. I am venturing to guess that aside from the obvious things like having a viable business model, the success of the ones that do make it have for the large part to do with the dedication and follow-through of the people leading the charge.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to be talking to some people who I think have found a way to get things done.
They have that follow-through factor that we’d all like to have. Instead of just talking about doing something they do it.

I have to say I’d like to have a little of what they had for breakfast.

If you have anyone you think would be good to include in this who may have some thoughts, please send them my way!
I’d love to talk with them.

Or maybe you yourself have been able to make something big happen. Send me a note and maybe we can have you write a guest post to share some of your thoughts with the rest of us.

A leap of faith

Posted on : 10-25-2010 | By : Adam Piotrowski | In : Change, Nashville

0

There are a lot of great things about Los Angeles.

For starters it’s the perfect day, everyday. Growing up in MN I could never envision what it must be like to live in a place with palm trees. Now I know, and that part of it is great. Secondly, it’s the land that created my better half. That in and of itself makes it a great place.

But, like any place LA has it’s not-so-great aspects as well. One that immediately comes to mind: my 20 mile, 2 hour commute to work.  For me what this meant was that 3-4 hours of everyday was pretty much time lost. If you’re lucky enough to sleep 6-8 hours that’s nearly 20-25% of everyday lost to the 101 and the 405 freeways. But it was what it was. It was a good job and there were bills and a mortgage to pay.

One thing that drive did give me was plenty of time to think. And with all that time, it’s hard not to question if it was really worth it. It just so happens that my wife was also wondering if all the hustle and bustle was worth it. We had a great house on a great street in sunny LA, but it never felt like there was time to enjoy it. But the routine was there. She had her dreams of new show ideas and working in an industry she was really passionate about while I had my dreams of creating innovative new ideas to blend music and digital media. But in our LA life, those always seemed to always be forced to the backburner.

We always say tomorrow we’ll do this, or when I have time I’ll do that. But like so many of us, we found ourselves waiting for the right moment. But what if the right moment doesn’t come? Do real follow-throughers wait for the right moment, or do they make their own moments?

I guess I can’t really even put my finger on the exact cause, but one day not to long ago my wife just came to me and said:
“What do you think about moving to Nashville?”

Now that may not seem that dramatic, but for two people who’d never even been to Nashville and had a wealth of responsibilities, family and friends in LA it sure seemed like a big deal to us. We actually made the decision before even visiting and announced it to my mother-in-law for what was probably a not-so-great mother’s day gift that we were moving and taking her only daughter away.

And in 3 short months we made it happen.
I’m not sure why we told her parent’s at their house that day because I don’t even remember us being certain. We certainly hadn’t talked about telling them because we didn’t even had a plan yet. But we did and I guess a la Cialdini we went on public record.
It was a leap of faith and who knows what’s going to happen (we’ve only been in Nashvegas a few weeks), but we definitely followed-through in this instance.

What if I’m not an Outlier?

Posted on : 10-18-2010 | By : Adam Piotrowski | In : Books, Entrepreneurship

Tags: , ,

1

In my constant quest to figure out the “It Factor” that true follow-throughers have enabling them to actually achieve the goals they set out to accomplish I’m always looking for a good read on the subject.  There’s no better way than studying some real life examples, no?

My latest read was Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers.
If you haven’t read it, you should. It’s definitely an interesting read. Essentially, the book is a study about the patterns that shape greatly successful people (Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, pro athletes, etc). Our common thought is that greatest comes from hardwork and determination. That’s the true American ideology, no? That you can achieve anything you want as long as you’re willing to put in the work to get there.

Gladwell’s argument is that this is not the case. True, it takes hardwork, but his point is that ultimately, the underlying reason for most success stories is a combination of cultural influences and timing. I’m not going to spoil the book for you by going into it all, but I will say that I finished the book and one of my first thoughts was this:

What if I’m not an outlier?
What if the timing of when I was born didn’t coincide with the optimal timing for me to be successful in the things I really want to do?

He does provide a lot of great examples to support the arguments he presents. But like any study, it’s definitely easier to present your theory favorably if you only give attention to the examples that support your idea. Granted Bill Gates is a great example to support your idea, as are the others he presents. Yet I find it hard to believe that there aren’t a good amount of examples of people without the ideal cultural or timing factors that prove those aren’t the only cases.

Likewise, what about all the people who also grew up at the same time and had the same or similar opportunities and cultural upbringing of those highly successful people? Opportunities are never afforded to just one individual, but perhaps only one individual capitalizes on a given opportunity. That’s where I think the follow-through factor comes into play. I have to believe that. If not then wouldn’t we become victims of our own circumstances?

There is no doubt that the timing of our birth and the culture in which we grow up as a profound impact on the opportunities we get and the individuals we become. We are definitely products of our environment in many aspects, but do we not have more control over our futures than Outliers may suggest?

I’d like to think so.
Thoughts?

Talk Is cheap

Posted on : 10-11-2010 | By : Adam Piotrowski | In : Books, Change

2

There’s something about the act of writing something down that just makes it more real, if that makes sense. We can tell ourselves, or others for that matter, that we’re going to do something, but there’s something much different about just saying it and actually writing it down.

The key here is the commitment level with each action – speaking vs. writing. If you’ve every read up on human behavior, you may have come across Professor Robert Cialdini’s thoughts on the science of persuasion. Essentially, Cialdini’s research suggests that there actually 6 basic laws of winning friends and influencing people. I’m not going to get into all his ideas in this post as they merit much more attention than that, but am going to touch on one key one here: commitment.

This has to do with the principle of consistency and how people are inherently hard-wired to align with their clear commitments. His research shows that once an individual takes a stand or goes on record for something, he or she prefers to stick with that commitment. I think the key here is going on record. That’s actually part of the psychological science behind petitions. Asking someone to sign a petition in support of an upcoming issue, for instance, is a small request. And the petition itself doesn’t decide if the issue goes through or now. But research shows that when it comes time to vote, those who signed the petition were more likely be consistent with their previous commitment in line with the petition. So if this works for influencing others, can it work on ourselves?

Maybe that’s why writing things down is different than just saying you’re going to do something. Writing it down is going “on record” in making the commitment. So that’s part of the “science” behind the creation of this site. It’s me going on public record things I aim to accomplish. There will be plenty to come, and I’ll share that here, but here is commitment #1:

- Stop procrastinating on getting this blog (ironically enough about follow-through) up and running and commit to a consistent post every monday.

Baby steps, but have to start somewhere and I know that fitting this in between my work schedule and our recent move from LA to Nashville. So I’m going in line with Cialdini’s arguments in the belief that consistency and commitment will work in my favor.

How about you? Any tricks for getting things done you care to share?

I want to be a follow-througher!

Posted on : 10-07-2010 | By : Adam Piotrowski | In : Change

Tags:

4

We’ve all done it.

We’ve all seen a movie, heard a song, seen an ad, watched a show, read an article, read a book, tried a product…. we’ve all seen or used something that someone else has created and thought to ourselves:

“I could do better than that.”

And in a lot of cases you could very well be right, in theory at least.

Not every idea that has been brought to fruition has been a great idea and I don’t think anyone can argue that (Flowbee anyone?).  By the same token, not every great idea is brought to fruition.  In fact, the vast majority of great ideas conjured up by human minds all over the globe barely ever even make it out of the person’s head and onto their lips for discussion.

Why is that?  What is it that allows some people to make their ideas and dreams (even the crappy ones) become reality while so many others will never get past the “I could do better than that” stage no matter how ground-breaking their ideas may be?

Well that is why I am here writing this.
That’s why I created this blog.

I’ll be honest and say I get frustrated when I see things out there and can’t fathom how someone ever thought THAT was a good idea, let alone how they managed to get enough buy-in fro other people to get it out there.

I have  ideas.  Lots of great ideas.
I have dreams.  Big dreams.

But then again, I’m like most people in this scenario. Most of those ideas and dreams stay in my head.  Some make it into Word files sitting somewhere on my Mac, and a few even make it out of the secluded digital world of my laptop and into the real world.

But the fact is that I, like most of you probably reading this, tend to have a lot of grand ideas/thoughts/dreams/goals that aren’t always accompanied with the necessary follow-through.

They say the first step to fixing a problem is admitting that the problem exists.
So then consider this my confession.

What will follow will be stories, thoughts, examples and ramblings – some from myself and some from others – that will hopefully help me (and you if you keep coming back) become a follow-througher.

This is the beginning of my road to recovery.
I want to be a follow-througher.

How about you?