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40 in 40: Lesson #27

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40 in 40: #27

One of my sons went through a difficult experience recently.

It was not something he had anticipated, not a situation he wanted to be in, and changing the situation was going to be painful.

No parent wants to see their kid deal with a painful situation.

But pain is inevitable and in many circumstances the only thing you can do is act.

And then wait.

Lesson #27

You have to give time, time.

That may sound trite.

But for a lot of issues that we face, time will be what is needed. In fact for many things time is the only solution.

  • Great relationships don’t happen overnight, they take time.
  • Businesses don’t happen overnight, they take time.
  • Children don’t mature overnight, it takes time.
  • Broken legs don’t heal overnight, it takes time.
  • Culture isn’t affected overnight, it takes time.
  • Doctors aren’t trained overnight, it takes time.
  • Getting a job if you are out of work takes time.
  • Creative work like we do at Blue Ocean Ideas doesn’t happen overnight.

It all takes time.

What things in your life do you need to give time, time?

Keep moving forward,


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40 in 40: Lesson #26


Route 40

40 in 40: #26

Some weeks I work really long hours.

In fact the next 6 months are likely to take quite a few hours per week to accomplish what I want to. I won’t be working 80 hours every week but it’s going to be a lot.

I rarely let my inbox get above 30 email messages. Which means I manage email from bed, the bathroom, in front of the TV, and other places outside of work.

I wake up early to get to work. And I often stay late.

I try to exercise every day.

I’m trying to be a part of a small group at our church every other week.

I serve on a few non-profit boards and volunteer organizations.

Lesson #26

Work-life balance is a myth. I can no sooner keep it balanced than I can hold the tide back. My life is an integrated whole: family, work, spiritual life, exercise, reading, recreation, etc. are all part of one life. That life shares time, energy, talent and treasure.

There’s another part of this story:

  • I take 4-6 weeks of vacation a year (two weeks uninterrupted in the summer, a week at Christmas, 1/2 weeks at Thanksgiving and Easter).
  • I try to have dinner alone with Elise at least once a week.
  • I take Riley to breakfast every Friday.
  • I don’t miss many sporting events for the kids.
  • I try to be creative about how to spend the time with my family

David Greusel of Convergence Design speaks to this very clearly:

“I have also come to believe that the idea of achieving work-life balance, as it is referred to in the Human Resources departments of large companies, is a myth. I don’t cease to be an architect when I go home at night any more than I cease to be a husband and a father when I leave home for work. I have been trying very hard to de-compartmentalize my life the past few years. I want to be a whole person who is husband and father and architect and citizen twenty-four hours a day, attempting to order my various responsibilities so that I can discharge them well. But I think the notion that what results is a balance between work and family and community commitments is absurd.

“It is more like a well-rigged sailing ship, where keeping the lines in proper tension results in moving briskly across the ocean to your intended destination. My life is at least as complex as a three-masted schooner, and that requires making constant adjustments to keep the lines in the proper tension, neither too taut nor too slack”

And as I’ve said before…this is not about doing more or being busy.

Different people like different paces of life. I happen to enjoy when things are moving along at a clip. And occasionally I crash, or get sick (like today), or unplug on vacation.

That’s not a standard for anyone else and plenty of people think it’s too much. Part of the struggle for each of us is figuring out what YOUR rhythm is.

How are you keeping the lines on your ship in the right tension?

Keep moving forward,


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40 in 40: Lesson #4

Route 40

40 in 40: #4

Most people who know me know that I am an independent person.

I was going to add a modifier to that phrase like “fairly” or “somewhat” or “sort of” but that would make that phrase a damn lie.

I am VERY independent.

Last weekend my parents were telling my kids that when I was 3 I took a bike from our garage and decided I was going to learn to ride a bike. Then I got on that bike and rode down a big hill we had in our yard. No dad running along side and encouraging, no easing into it, no training wheels. Just get on and ride.

The same story would be true in other areas of my life:

  • Learning how to ski (I lasted about an hour in ski school before my dad pulled me out because I was losing my mind).
  • Leaving home (I left before I finished high school and had my own apartment).
  • Going to college (I worked full time while going to school and starting a family).
  • Starting my own businesses (I worked for Erickson Retirement Communities for 4 years at the beginning of my career and have owned my own companies since then).

My independence is an asset. As a consultant and brand strategist you need to be able to think independently. It’s crucial.

But there’s a price.

Lesson #4

Ask for help when you need it.

This probably seems obvious to most of you. Somewhere in your brain there’s an “I need help” button that you push and then you look for who can help you with what you need.

My brain didn’t come with that button.

The button in my brain says, “You have to do it all by yourself.”

The problem with not asking for help is that you can’t navigate life alone. The richness in life comes from relationships where we are helping each other. For many years I deprived myself of that richness because I couldn’t ask for help.

For the last few years I’ve been able to ask for help and see the results.

  • In friendships this has meant new depth.
  • In business it has meant I’m able to have a partner to rely on.
  • In my marriage it has meant new intimacy with Elise that wouldn’t have happened without asking for help.

Are you able to ask for help when you need it?

Keep moving forward,


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Thanks for your help Thursday!

Towson University - Stevens Hall

Thanks for your help Thursday at Towson University

Last Thursday I asked for 5 minutes of your time to give your thoughts on entrepreneurship, social media, and personal brands. I received some great comments from you that I shared with the class.

I was shocked that the class was packed full and most students were taking detailed notes. I thought I must on fire that day with my presentation. It wasn’t until the final 5 minutes of class that one young women raised her hand and said “Professor Maurer said that your material would be on the final…do you know which material he might test us on?”. Nice one Tim. I assured them that Professor Maurer had no idea what I was actually going to talk about.

I like to learn as much as I can from any audience and this one was engaged and interested in talking. I love that. Here are some of the things that I learned specifically (there were about 40 students in the room):

  • only about 10% called themselves “active” social media users
  • 95% were on Facebook, the 5% that weren’t had been but were taking a break
  • about 7% were on Twitter and most of them were not using it often
  • about 5% had heard of Words with Friends (the largest multi-player game on mobile phones)
  • 1 student was using linkedin
  • 3 students actively used groupon (the vast majority hadn’t heard of it)
  • there were no students that had personal blogs
  • all of these students were concerned about their ability to get a job after graduation
  • only 1 student considered themselves entrepreneurial
  • less than a handful wanted to own their own business

For the most part I wasn’t surprised by much of this information. The biggest social media takeaway that we find is that social media is largely a mobile device medium. If your audience doesn’t have an iPhone, android, blackberry, etc. then they generally will not be active in social spaces.

Now the great part

The great part about Thursday was the phenomenal responses I received from you. The students couldn’t believe that I had posted 3 hours prior to class and received the response that I did. They were also delighted to hear “real world” responses from people on these topics.

[Side note: These students favorite part of professor Maurer’s class is that Tim is a real world business person so he speaks from experience not just from a textbook.]

Here are the key takeaways from you, the real contributors:

  • There is more to life than a paycheck.
  • Pursue your passions and success will follow.
  • Servant leadership has been the most effective leadership style for me.
  • Experiment with different things in social media. It’s a conversation; it should live and breathe and move.
  • Find what you love and can help people in the process of doing…then no matter what you get paid you will still be rich.
  • Strive to give more than you get – people who only focus on getting their needs met will never have enough.
  • Let people know you care about them – then they will care about what you know.
  • Acknowledge your mistakes, take full responsibility for them, figure out how to not make them again, make amends where necessary and possible, and then move on – carrying that baggage gets very heavy indeed and we weren’t meant to be that heavily yoked.
  • Always be open to learning – and realize that some lessons come from the most unexpected sources.
  • Don’t get locked into thinking something must be done a certain way since it’s always been done that way – don’t be afraid to go against the grain.
  • Work on your business not just in it – in many businesses management functions of planning, developing strategy, measuring performance, and evaluating results do not get the time and attention to detail that they require.
  • Understand your financials and make sure you have accurate data to help you make decisions.
  • Understand the cost of capital and make sure you reinvest in your business – many owners take too much out too soon and as a result struggle with cashflow.
  • Too much debt dramatically increases anxiety and stress levels and can suck the joy right out of going to work everyday.
  • Your brand is your truth, expressed consistently.
  • Listen to how those around you describe you – do you like what they are saying?
  • Nothing is more powerful than a “free agent” with a powerful brand.
  • Now is a great time to work on your brand before larger life commitments hem you in.
  • Find older wiser mentors to help you along the way.
  • Balance is completely underrated.
  • Be intentional, faithful, hard-working, creative, practiced, authentic, humble.
  • Have relationships that inspire you, challenge you, humble you, keep you balanced, provide rest, and make you better.
  • Live generously with everyone you come into contact with.
  • Don’t be surprised when you fail. Let it hurt. Learn from it. Become better and don’t make the same mistakes again.
  • Pursuing a dream profitably is much harder — and will take much longer — than I expected, but there is nothing like sleeping soundly with the knowledge that you are doing good work to the best of your ability, that you are responding to unmet needs, and that you are helping people.
  • Live by the Rotarian Code: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Is it beneficial to all concerned? Does it build goodwill and better friendships?

The best part of my day on Thursday was being able to read through this list from such a great group of people. You couldn’t get much higher quality wisdom to start a career than what is on this list. For those of us a little further down the road this is a great reminder of what is important.

Keep moving forward,


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Had a great time tonight with the guys around Yacoub’s pool. What a great spot for all of us.

Pat shared a bunch of principles about following Jesus. This is the essence of what I took away:

Christ is my life.
Christ and I love people

  • Elise
  • kids
  • family
  • friendships
  • employees
  • neighbors

Christ and I determine who I am going to be
Christ and I manage my body

  • exercise
  • diet
  • rest
  • being present with people

Christ and I run my business
Christ and I feed my mind, body and soul

  • what I take in determines my output

Christ is my life

The evening reminded me of one of the ideas that has helped me focus in the last year:

“The disciple is one who intends upon becoming Christlike and so dwelling in his faith and practice, systematically and progressively rearranges his affairs to that end.” Dallas Willard

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