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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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Coloring outside the lines

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

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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

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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.

Taking lessons from someone who gets it

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

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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.

What if I’m not an Outlier?

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

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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?