1st days of school 010_edited-1There are fleeting moments in life that we rarely think twice about, until we look back and see that they are a part of our greatest successes.

When I took the responsibility of dropping my son off at Kindergarten this past year I thought I had taken on an extra “thing” to do. However, I was surprised the first week at how much I enjoyed parking the car and walking him to class. The second week of school my heart stopped for a moment when he told me he was ready to walk into the school from the car drop-off and find his classroom without my assistance. Every morning I told him “I love you” as he left the car, and he would smile and tell me the same. As I left the parking lot each day he would stand at the edge of the sidewalk calling and waving “good-bye!” until I had driven away and was out of view.

It is interesting that as I look back at those kindergarten drop-offs I compare them to my businesses successes of this past year: I have been able to bring steady work in the door in a terrible economy, I have had the opportunity to speak several times, I have been published multiple times, the Design and Construction Network has grown much further than I ever imagined, and I realized a dream when I received a copy of the multi-author book that I had co-authored. Yet all of these work related successes pale in comparison to the personal relationship I cultivated with my son this last year.  It is in this realization that I again find the resounding truth: success is always found in relationships.

True Success

It is no secret that the greatest successes and failures in life have nothing to do with money, power, stature, or a lack of these things. Yet even with this knowledge we as humans have an innate tendency to push towards these quantifiable objectives rather than the one which we inherently know will yield the greatest life rewards: relationships. We allow relationships to crumble for the sake of our ambitions based on the belief that relationships will come and go with the ebbs and flows of life. Yet when we look back at our greatest moments, it is long lasting relationships that are always at the center of our true successes.

Your turn

What are you going to pursue this week?

Hermanisms: Writings of a Failure Expert

hermanismsI was speaking at AIA Design DC this past week when I meet John Herman. After our brief conversation he handed me a copy of his latest book: Hermanisms: Axioms for Business & Life. Now most of you know that I am not the least bit cynical, but when someone gives you a free copy of their book it usually means that it is a really lousy book. So I stuffed it in my bag with the intent of scanning through it before sharing it with the recycling bin. Sitting in traffic on the way home I picked it up and started flipping through the pages only to find it difficult to put down. Two days later I finished the 285 page book and would easily describe it as one the best business books I have read in years!

The Failure Expert

John is a self described failure expert, and rightfully so. Many of the stories in his book come from the lessons he learned while he was the owner of a consulting firm that worked with over 1,000 failing businesses (think bankruptcy, not just having a bad year). His “Hermanisms” recount many of the stories and lessons that he learned while cleaning up the mess these firms were in, and provide a unique look at the causes and effects that the decisions we make have on our businesses.

Knowledge learned through stories

One thing I enjoyed about Hermanisms was the use of stories to make a point. John is clearly not just a great story teller, but someone that knows how to help you understand more about yourself and business through the telling of a story. The stories in his book are crisp and to the point, yet ring true to life as they make his points come alive through humor and as you see the pain others have gone through.

Hermanism #60

When it comes to business, I especially enjoyed Hermanism #60: “A great idea, talent, hard work, good timing, help from others, immense publicity, and luck are sometimes all you need to make it.” How often have you had a great idea only to realize that in order for it to succeed you needed so much more?

Enough said, let me encourage you to just buy the book (You can’t beat the used price at Just be forewarned: you also might not be able to put it down.

Return the Favor

Has someone ever helped you to the point that you sat at your desk and tried to think up ways to return the favor?

One such time happened for me in 2006 when a friend worked to get me on a team for a major project that resulted in an $800,000 contract from my company.  What took her 15 minutes (time spent selling someone else on using my firms services) would have cost me 40 hours of phone calls, multiple lunches, and numerous meetings, and even still I wouldn’t have been guaranteed a spot on the team.  Needless to say, I was not only thankful to my friend for her work, but I literally sat at my desk working up ways to return the favor.

 The key to this story wasn’t how she helped to get me on the team; it is how your actions can motivate other people to help you.  Those 15 minutes of work have resulted in dozens of referrals and project leads as I have worked to return the favor.  As my friend focused on helping me, she was developing a mutually beneficial relationship that resulted in me working hard to help her.

If you are looking to increase your effectiveness, start by helping other people in your network.  What can you do today that will leave someone else pondering what they can do to return the favor?

The Best Unknown Websites – PART 2

It was great to have several thousand people stop by the other week to check out the first part of this series, The Best Unknown Websites. As I noted in the previous post, it seems that every week I am telling someone else about one of my favorite little known websites, so this week I wanted to add to my list and share a few more of my favorites.

As a reminder, you are always welcome to sign-up to receive these weekly posts via e-mail using Google FeedBurner. I hope that you find a website that you will use for the next several years in this list: my favorite websites that not everyone knows about.

Part 2 has been combined with the original post The Best Unknown Websites: