Creating Long Term Success

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Creating Long Term Success

I have often heard many “business experts” discuss how leadership methods and business principles in one area or industry simply do not apply to another industry. They argue, “I am a non-profit, the guidelines used by ‘for profit’ companies simply do not apply.” Another one is “My industry is so unique that we have to come up with our own set of guidelines. I must respectfully disagree. While the industries or businesses differ in what they do, I have discovered Ten rules or steps or guideline or principles (call them what you want) that worked for me in turning around six different organizations.

After thirty years, I came to the realization that similarities between organizations in crisis, be it a business, an industry, a government entity, a non-profit, an education system, a church and even an athletic program are strikingly similar. All are failing but are unwilling or unable to try new approaches. All become very defense when a new person comes in and tries to initiate change. The majority of the current staff says they are open to hearing the new plan, but will not make a real effort to help execute the plan. They would rather pay lip service to the plan and stand on the sidelines and watch the new plan fail so they can say “I knew it wouldn’t work.” The bottom line for organizations in crisis is this – What you are doing and the way you are doing it is not working. That is why new people are being brought into the organization.

I had the opportunity to work with Jim McLaughlin the head coach of the women’s volleyball program at the University of Washington. This program had it “rock bottom.” They had finished last or near last in their conference for several consecutive years. The former coach had resigned two weeks before the start of a new season. The program was clearly in crisis. The athletic director was able to convince a Jim McLaughlin to take over a job that was described as “Becoming the captain of the Titanic after it hit the ice burg.” The athletic director had accomplished the first of my Ten guidelines.

1. Find the right leader

This is often easier said than done. How do you know if you have the right leader? Initially you don’t. You do your due diligence, set your goals and requirements, conduct interviews, check reference and make an informed decision. In other words you take a leap of faith.

2. The leader must clearly articulate the vision

If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll never know if you get there. Every leader must have a vision or a plan. Everyone in the organization must know that vision and make it his or her own. The more concise the vision the better. Coach McLaughlins’s vision at the University of Washington was three points

Graduate every player
Finish in the top three in the PAC-12 every year. This gives the team the opportunity to compete for the national title
Prepare players for the U.S. national team

3. The leader must inspire people to believe

People become inspired when they see a consistent positive movement. The leader must stay the course by continuously articulating the vision and pointing out the “small steps” that are occurring. Consistency in the message and the method is critical. At Washington the team was playing with passion and intensity. The fans and the team saw the improvement and started to believe.

4. The leader must clearly define what he/she wants to do and what pieces are needed to get there.

When you take over an organization one of the first steps is to take inventory of the existing staff, products, processes, procedures etc…The leader must quickly determine the strengths and weaknesses in each area and have the courage to make the changes that will continue to move the program forward.

At the Washington, a new defensive specialist was being added to college volleyball. The goal of this position is to keep the ball from hitting the floor (called a dig), which prevents the other team from scoring. Two returning players believed they had the inside track for this position. The Coach McLaughlin had recruited a freshman who won the position. The premise was simple. It we can make it more difficult for the opponent to score, we improve our chances of winning. Starting a true freshman in a critical role, was a courageous step but one that was needed to get the organization to where it needed to be.

5. The leader must select the right people and put them in the best position to succeed.

The most difficult task in turning around an organization is evaluating and or replacing the people you inherit. These people were there before the new leader arrived and obviously have some vested interest in the organizations success. Hopefully most of the inherited people will buy into the program and are willing to change. Those that change can be valuable assets. Those who refuse have to be let go. This is concept Jim Collins described in his book Good to Great. Mr. Collins described it as getting the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus. Most leaders will say the most important asset in any organization is the employees. This is not really the case. We discovered the most valuable asset is the right people. The right people understand and accept the vision. The right people are motivated and driven. The right people are both ready and able to execute. The wrong people do none of these things. The wrong people lower standards. The wrong people drive away the right people.

At Washington Jim McLaughlin had a system. He needed people at each job who were willing to accept their role (job description). He selected (recruited) people who understood that the collective contribution of like-minded people would produce a result greater than what could be achieved alone. He often passed on a more talented person if that person was more interested in his/her individual success rather than that of the organization.

6. The leader must focus on details and training.

Once the leader starts getting the right people on the bus, the next step is to make sure everyone knows not only what to do but how and most important, why to do it. Many leaders call this falling into a routine; I prefer to call it finding your stride. Consistency is now the key. Constant repetition or practice must occur. The leader at times seems like a broken record. Some people call this having a mantra. The leader must constantly preach three things:

This is what we do
This is how we do it
This is why we do what we do
At Washington this was accomplished by the mantra “There are no small things in volleyball. Everything we do is important and has a purpose.”

7. The leader must document everything; the organization must operate without key people present.

Far too many organizations rely on word of mouth or the company grapevine to establish processes and procedures. This works if your organization is small with little to no turnover and people interact with each other daily. Many companies in crisis wanted to avoid creating a bureaucracy particularly if they came from large stagnant bureaucratic organizations. For many companies I heard the term “flat organization.” We have someone in the organization who knows what to do when a situation arises. That raises the question, what if the person who knows the answer isn’t there? Does the operation stop? Do you wait for the person to return in a day or two? Having a plan as simple as an instruction manual that is reviewed frequently allows the organization to address and resolve issues quickly. In short people know what to do.

At Washington every step and procedure was detailed and documented. Little was left to chance. They created written practice plans, game plans, training plans, travel plans, meal plans, position plans, recruiting plans, official and unofficial visit plans, home visit plans etc… Every day the white board was filled with the specific plan for that day. Failure to plan is planning to fail.

8. The leader must constantly review all aspects of the operation making adjustments as needed to stay on course.

The only constant in life is change. Truly great leaders constantly evaluate themselves. Once they have a good sense of what the market is doing and what opportunities the market is offering, they must have the courage to change. A prime example is Walgreen’s. At one time food service, (soda fountain), was highly profitable. As then CEO Charles R. “Cork” Walgreen projected forward he saw no role for food service. Over five years he eliminated food service and focused on convenient locations and wide product availability. Today we find Walgreen stores at nearly every major intersection.

In 2004, Washington went to the volleyball Final Four. While they did not win, the vast majority of the team was returning the following year. Projecting forward, Coach McLaughlin made three major changes.

He replaced the staring middle blocker, a senior, with a physically gifted but very inexperienced sophomore.
He brought in an assistant coach whose specialty was coaching how to block at the net.
He moved his three time All American to a new position on the right side.

He knew his team was good enough to return to the Final Four, but unless they improved their blocking and generated more scoring from the right side they would have trouble beating Nebraska. The adjustments paid off handsomely. The young sophomore became a force at the net becoming an All American, and the team’s blocking went from a weakness to a major strength. Washington won the 2005 national championship sweeping Nebraska for the title.

9. The leader must continue to bring in people that are better than the ones already in place.

How and why do you find better people once you have achieved success? The answer is fairly basic. If you figured out how to become better, so will your competition. Many great leaders become more nervous when things are going well. As hard as it is to reach a high level of success, it is even harder to maintain. Success also brings competitors attempting to raid your top people. It is critical to continue to raise the requirements and expectations to attract more of the right people.

At Washington, the volleyball program went from last place in the PAC-10 to the Elite 8 and three consecutive Final Fours including one national championship in five years. Some of the best student athletes in the world were now interested in coming to Washington. A player from the 2001 team said to me, “The transformation of this program happened so quick it is beyond belief. Most of the girls I played with in 2001 would not make this team.

10. The leader cannot lose sight of the goal.

As a leader, the worst thing you can do is relax when your organization is doing well. At times success breeds apathy and complacency. A leader must guard against the attitude “We got to where we wanted now we can take it easy.” I will never forget what a speaker at a turnaround management conference in New Orleans once said: “We worked so hard to pull our company from the brink of disaster. We were able to convince the staff that we had the right plan and the right vision. As things started to improve, I noticed complacency had begun. The attention to detail was not as intense. We started to fall back into some bad habits. I saw it, but I guess I started to believe our own press releases and didn’t move quickly enough, and we found ourselves back in danger.”

Washington continued to have laser like focus. Over his 14 year tenure his teams reached the NCAA tournament 13 straight years, the eighth-longest active streak. In addition to a national title, Washington produced four NCAA Final Four appearances, three national players of the year, three Pacific-12 Conference titles, 17 players who combined for 34 American Volleyball Coaches Association All-America awards, nine CoSIDA Academic All-America scrolls and 58 all-Pac-12 awards.


I think we can safely say that the turnaround principles described here are not limited to for profit businesses. With the right leader, the rules can be applied to any type or size of business of organization. So if your business or organization is at a cross road give these rules a try. They are not easy. They will test and challenge you in ways you could never imagine, but in the end they work. Give me a call. I will be happy to help your where I can.

The Future of Aging

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The Future of Aging

The Eldercare Advocate

Are we living longer as a society? According to Paul Irving, Chairman of The Milken Institute Center for The Future of Aging, while overall it appears people are living to advanced ages, there is inequality in longevity which can be linked directly to socioeconomics and community.

The quality of people’s lives is significantly affected by their financial means and as well as where they live. Access to, and knowledge of, a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and a more healthful diet, access to health care, as well as depression, loneliness, and isolation, are factors linked to decrease in life span over the past 3 years for people who life in communities where they may be facing more challenges as opposed to those living in more rural areas. Other factors which may affect a person’s overall health issues is actually discrimination against older people, also known as ageism.

The John Hartford Foundation[1]released an issue brief in April of 2017 entitled “Reframing Aging”.  The brief emphasizes the negative impact of our society’s view of becoming older, and because of this negative view, as if it is a fate to be avoided at all costs (a conundrum in and of itself. In a previous blogpost, I suggested the incongruence of us mourning premature death as a life unfulfilled, and yet shunning the notion of getting older, avoiding the discussion at all costs.)  However, discrimination faced by older people is actually an issue of national concern which needs to be addressed. This discrimination leads us as a society to accept, tolerate or seem to be disinterested in the poor care, poor treatment, lack of dignity and lack of respect faced by older people, and indeed those that are very old.

The brief goes on to call for the need to redefine aging. This is based on the negative assumptions about what it means to get old. In addition, as Paul Irving states, there is no one size fits all. There is a vast difference to each person who is 65, 75, 85, or 95. No different that there is a vast difference amongst people of any other age group. These differences may be defined by health, wealth, education, religion, gender and sexual preference but can certainly go on from there.

Rather than having sympathy for the older person, society must shape its attitudes towards inclusion. It is indeed a human rights issue. The rights of the older person in no way differs from the rights of any other person in society.

The words we use also has a tremendous impact on our attitudes. In American culture, from the time we are little we are using the word ‘old’ as in “how old are you”. Other cultures ask the query, “how many years do you have?”, or “what year are you living?”. Transforming our language will play an important role in changing our attitudes.

Lastly, the brief suggests an entirely new perception about aging, both from society as a whole, as well as from the perspective of the person who is advancing in their years. It suggests the notion of building momentum, I support terminology such as advancing in years or continuing life’s journey. It is an accomplishment, something to be admired and respected. Other cultures consider reaching an advanced age as a jubilee of sorts.  In the latter case, it is documented that a person’s self-image has a tremendous impact on their overall health.

Science has done its part in helping people live longer. But institutions, society, businesses, communities have not necessarily kept up with science on the one hand yet, on the other, it has perpetuated our youth oriented culture. This is most evident in the $16.8 billion spent on both invasive and less invasive cosmetic techniques to maintain or regain their youthful appearance. Is this not counterintuitive to the idea of accepting and appreciating one’s age. I’ve heard people say, look at the wrinkles on my face and the gray hairs on my head, I have earned every single one. They have meaning and importance, not only in my life, but for the life of others.

What is the cost to society if we don’t change our attitudes, provide better care and a better quality of life to people as they advance in age? Those “wisdom keepers” are a valuable natural resource that can add tremendous value to our society on many fronts and to the lives of those younger than they who can indeed benefit from the wealth of acquired knowledge through years of life experience.

What is it to feel a particular age?

When we are younger, as we advance from our 20’s. to our 30’s and probably to about our 50’s we feel a sense of growth and maturity. But, what do we feel as we continue on our life’s journey from that point upward to our 60’’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s?

Irving points out that prior to the 20thcentury creation of the “Happy Birthday” song, age was judged by fitness, health, etc. A return to this way of thinking may help us on the road to restructuring and refashioning our attitudes towards people as they continue to age.

Hugo Gerstl, a guest on Voices for Eldercare Advocacy remains a practicing trial attorney and author of 5 books at seventy-eight years of age.  He suggests that despite what we see in the mirror, a person always remains the same age deep down inside himself or herself, and that age is early maturity.

Gerstl also suggests that there is not a limitation or an endpoint in the jobs of life and he believes that the attitude one has toward or traditional idea of a job affects our attitudes towards life.  In our early years, through teens or early twenties for some, it is the job of going to school which is followed by years of gainful employment. But, if one chooses to end their traditional employment, they can think of their job as a continuation to acquire knowledge, to grow, to help others, to have interests beyond himself or herself. This is what keeps a person vital, vibrant, active and engaged. In doing so, there are significant contributions one can make though they may take on a different form.


People, People Everywhere And Not A Person To Hire…

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People, People Everywhere And Not A Person To Hire…

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This blog is provided by Dave DuBose and Will O’Brien from True North Growth Partners, as a companion to their interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future. This interview Lasting Solutions for Distribution Center Labor Shortages aired on 9/10/19.


Of course, that title is a takeoff from Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”. The author referred to a thirsty sailor surrounded by saltwater that he cannot drink. This is what many distribution center (DC) operators face when they can’t attract and retain the workforce that they need to support their operations. With historically low unemployment, the demand for DC labor is escalating- a trend that will continue. This drives higher wages while the quality of the available workforce drops.

Other factors make this situation more complex. Job candidates may be unable to meet an organization’s hiring requirements for drug testing and work history. Lowering standards creates workforce reliability issues. Ecommerce is a big driver. Amazon (the biggest example) has over 100 fulfillment & sortation centers. The e-comm channel requires 4X the labor compared to retail and wholesale fulfillment. This creates a salary war, undercutting any loyalty that workers might have had. This is magnified at peak season.

How does a leader deal with all of this? Three strategies underpin a winning playbook:

  1. Reduce the Work Content
  2. Be a “Sticky Employer”
  3. Get the Most Out of Your Workforce

Strategy #1, “Reduce the Work Content,” is the focus of this blog


Reducing work content is a challenge that belongs in the playbook. Analytical rigor is required to appropriately consider each option for achieving this goal and careful planning and execution is a must-have: these are not “quick fix” alternatives, but they can be very effective.

  • DC Bypass is the method of flowing goods to the customer or store while bypassing the DC or fulfillment center. It is necessary to analyze volume and order history so that an effective program can be designed that will provide the relief to the facility and have minimal-to-no impact on supplier charges or the customer experience.
  • Store-Based Fulfillment is growing rapidly. The most common version of this is BOPIS (Buy Online – Pickup In-Store). Walmart will ship an e-comm item to a store at no charge. Many grocers offer the increasingly popular curbside pick-up service. Others enable their stores to ship e-comm orders to customers’ homes. One retailer performs this function early in the morning, before the store opens for walk-in traffic. DSW stated that its stores are within 20 minutes of 70% of their customers, so they can’t afford to NOT take advantage of that proximity for improved speed and delivery cost. Target, Dick’s, Best Buy and others use store-based fulfillment as an economical way to compete against Amazon’s hyper-fast delivery model. Details related to how a retailer handles allocation, store operations, order management and small package carrier relationships are critically important. Creating and communicating a detailed plan ensures that leaders understand the assumptions about inventory, handling and transportation costs, as well as reductions in markdowns – and are committed to execution.
  • Pop-Up Fulfillment Centers are used during peak seasons to provide relief from surges in demand. Advancements in robotics enable operators to slot more items in pop-ups than ever before, with reduced training needs and improved speed and customer service. Robots, in this case, Automated Mobile Robots (AMRs) from companies like Locus, Fetch Robotics and 6 Rivers can be deployed very quickly, typically in less than a day. The software that operates AMRs is cloud based, which eases the IT requirements. AMRs are safe around people and other mobile equipment. The interface between the worker and the AMR is very simple, so training for the associate takes only minutes. Worker productivity dramatically increases because the robot eliminates the need for the worker to walk the entire facility. Most AMR providers offer their products on a “Robot-As-A-Service” basis, avoiding the large capital outlay that is needed for traditional material handling equipment. There is great flexibility with AMRs as the number of machines can flex over time with volume.


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AMRs in work environment

The two most significant advantages of pop-ups are reductions in labor and the cost of the last mile. By locating pop-up facilities in markets with dense demand, the operator shifts its labor burden from hiring  hundreds of associates in a labor-constrained single market to hiring dozens of associates in each of a handful of locations across the country- a much more achievable task. The cost of the last mile is    significant and is reduced by having pop-ups in dense markets. Given the success of pop-up DCs, operators are beginning to consider keeping them open year-round to augment distribution networks that need e-comm friendly solutions for speed, cost effectiveness and customer service. Careful product flow analysis and cost modeling ensures that the solution will deliver the intended benefits.


  • Automated Material Handling Equipment (MHE) solutions offer different options for reducing labor requirements in large, capital-intensive DCs. Continued innovation in automated-storage-and-retrieval and goods-to-person systems, as well as in conveyors, sorters and put-walls, enable operators to realize significant labor savings. 60% of a DC worker’s time can be spent walking in the facility, sometimes as much as 15 miles per day. Innovative developments continue in pack station and auto-bagger technologies. Automated MHE solutions fit well in high-volume operations and these solutions require significant effort to properly design and select the appropriate equipment for each situation.
  • Leverage a 3PL Partner: Finally, sophisticated 3PLs provide a wide range of services, from end-to-end fulfillment, including last mile delivery, to executing only the pieces of an operation that are most challenging to the business. A 3PL is a viable option for many scenarios. It is very important to perform due diligence in partner selection and in the integration of all processes and technologies to guarantee a flawless conversion and smooth operation.


If you are facing distribution or fulfillment challenges in your business, there are many options available to you. If you would like to discuss your situation with Will O’Brien or Dave DuBose, they can be reached at

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

About the Authors

Dave DuBose is a senior supply chain professional with strong cross-industry experience including retail, consumer products, resources and high-tech in the North American and global theaters. Dave has held executive positions in logistics and supply chain in industry as well as consulting and has more than 30 years of professional experience. DuBose delivers innovative results and can translate business strategy into operating strategy and tactics. He has deep expertise in end-to-end business operations and in deploying business solutions from strategy through implementation. Dave is currently serving as the Columbus Roundtable board president the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals. He is active in speaking and writing about contemporary supply chain issues.

Will O’Brien is a partner at True North Growth Partners where he works with organizations on the supply chain and operations sides of their business. He helps his clients overcome the things that hold back their growth and profitability. He has over 30 years of experience in supply chain and operations. He has held executive positions in both industry and consulting. As an executive at Lowe’s Home Improvement he helped to lead the development of the supply chain for that big box retailer during a period of rapid growth, from $35 billion to $50 billion in revenue. He also helped pioneer Lowe’s omni-channel fulfillment when its online sales were growing significantly. He successfully grew a mid-sized family owned supply chain consulting firm by over 50%, expanded its markets, improved its pricing, reengineered its sales and business development organization and created career paths and professional growth for its associates.

The Mission Specialist

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The Mission Specialist

The Mission Specialist
Over the years I’ve had a lot of people ask me: “Are you in Radio?”
Or tell me: “You should be in Radio!”
And over the years I considered Albert Schweitzer to be a mentor: and I liked what he had to say about happiness and success. A couple of my “most favorite” quotes: “Success is not the key to happiness, happiness is the key to success” and “The only ones among you who will be truly happy are those who have sought and found a way to serve others.”
I share that idea with pretty much every group I speak too. And I’ve spoken to a lot of youth groups. And young people often are still figuring out what to do with their lives, what to go for!
I’ll also share a thought from Howard Thurman who advised us: “Don’t ask ‘what does the world need?’ Instead ask ‘what makes me come alive?’ then go do that!”
See I reckon that what the world needs is people who have come alive! Who are doing what they love to do.
Now I should let you know that I said I speak to youth groups, and I recently had an idea about that that I’d like to share with you. In fact, if there’s anything you get out of today’s show I hope you’ll remember this:
“Youth is not an age, not a number, it’s a state of mind, and perhaps even more than that, it’s a state of having passion for ideals.”
And a friend recently shared this idea:
To really grow we need to get out of our comfort zone. And she said that means: Do something that excites you, and maybe even scares you a little bit.

I recently started reading a book by Rich Karlgaard called Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a world obsessed with early achievement.

So many of us are taking the chance on something new.
Sherry told me the other day that she loves to see me doing what I love to do. This lights me up!
And it scares me a little too.
I’ve been on the Radio, quite a lot over the years. As a guest of Al MacIntyre, EdSchultz, and even Marlo Anderson on their Radio shows. But I’ve never been the host before!
You know, everything reminds me of a story: and this is an example.
That reminds me of the time when I gave my first speech at a Toastmasters club. Now, many of you probably know that speaking in public is one of the greatest fears that people have. Well, I was giving my first speech. I said the opening line, and forgot what I was to say next. I just stood there, then I remembered what to say next and went on with the speech. Well Tony Livernois was my evaluator, and he started his speech evaluation by saying “you’ve got the pause down!”
It was then that I realized: Hey I can’t make a mistake up here. No one knows what I’m going to say next. (Heck, Most the time I don’t even know myself what I’m going to say next!) Join me Mondays at 4pm Eastern, 1 Pacific to find out! BraveHearts Radio, on the Voice America Variety Channel.

We MADE it!

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We MADE it!

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Miracle Moment®

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,

When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,

When the funds are low, and the debts are high,

And you want to smile, but you have to cry,

When care is pressing you down a bit,

Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.


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MESSAGE FROM CYNTHIA BRIAN, Founder/Executive Director

WE MADE IT!!! Twenty years of serving our communities and country through numerous life-changing outreach programs with 100% volunteer positions and no paid staff! What an accomplishment for everyone involved. On September 9th, 2019, Be the Star You Are!® is 20 years old. Yes, it has been a labor of love for me to trudge forward despite our numerous setbacks. There was a time when BTSYA had only 43 cents in the bank and I knew I would have to close the doors within a week because we just didn’t have the funds available to proceed further. Sadness filled my soul.

Then a miracle happened. Actually…THREE miracles in the same day. 

  1. #1 I opened the mail from my 18-year-old daughter who had just started her first year of college and was also working to pay her expenses. Out fell a check for $100 with a note that read, “Mom, this to help Be the Star You Are!® continue its great work. I know I’ll always have you, but if you quit, the other kids won’t have you. You CAN’T quit.”
  2. #2 The phone rang and a restaurant offered to give a percentage of their proceeds for a full day to Be the Star You Are!® 
  3. #3 A big envelope arrived from the kids at juvenile halls that we had been providing free books and reading circles to for several years. In the envelope were numerous hand-written thank you notes from these incarcerated youth. The hand-crafted cards were colorful and happy with mostly misspelled words and messages saying “thank you, gracias, or love you for caring”. One note read “Not only was this my very first book, but it was the first gift I’ve ever received.” But the note that tugged at our heartstrings the most said the following: “Thank you for saving my life. Without Be the Star You Are!®, I would have committed suicide.”

With those three “coincidences” occurring on my darkest day, I went outside at night to look to the heavens. “If I’m supposed to keep up this mission of empowering women, families, and youth, I need to see a sign. Please send me a shooting star.”  Yes, I was praying for a signal. And miracle #4 transpired. A bright star shot across the dark sky going from the far left to the far right so that there was not a chance I would miss it. 

It hasn’t been easy leading a non-profit but we are still here and we are always making a difference. I am honored to work with women, families, and teens. Their successes in life give me great joy.

I want to thank every person and business who has crossed paths with our outreach through two decades: volunteers, sponsors, beneficiaries, and donors. Be the Star You Are!® has touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of individuals across the globe. We donated over $2 million in resources with a 100% volunteer workforce. Read about our amazing accomplishments at . Special thanks to Lamorinda Weekly, Mechanics Bank, and Moraga Hardware and Lumber for recent donations and to Justine Christoff for creating our new logos.

BTSYA still struggles to get funding and we hope you will be generous and make a tax-deductible donation to help us celebrate our 20th birthday. You can donate through PAYPAL GIVING FUND with 100% going to BTSYA with NO FEES:

We are not throwing a party or a gala, even though we wanted to, as we will use every donated penny to help others live and thrive.

No, I never quit. And I hope you will follow your heart and never quit either.

In the trilogy of Be the Star You Are!® books, I always include the poem, Don’t Quit.  You can support the charity by buying books, at . 

But I leave you with the last verse:

For Life’s battles don’t always go

To the stronger or faster man.

But, sooner or later, the man who wins

Is the one who thinks he can.


What I’ve discovered is that success rarely comes on the first, second, third or fourth try. Sometimes even the hundredth. Keep trying and don’t give up. Even when you are rejected unnecessarily, consider each rejection as character building. You are a miracle of life, and you can do it. Give yourself a break, but never quit. You are a star! Embrace each “no” and exclaim, “Thank you, I am now that much closer to a yes!”

Together WE CAN!

Thank you for being part of our galaxy.  Make sure to visit to see our gallery of photos from the past twenty years. In this newsletter, we share a few!

Our new motto is “Communicate, Collaborate, Innovate!” Hope you’ll join us.

Blessings and Gratitude,

Cynthia Brian

Founder/Executive Director

Be the Star You Are!®

PO Box 376

Moraga, California 94556


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Volunteering is a great way for teens to band together or to work individually to make a difference in the community. BTSYA offers the opportunity to become a leader and learn communication skills with its numerous volunteer opportunities. Brigitte Jia is a university sophomore interested in helping to bring the flaws of society to light. A volunteer with BTSYA, she is a host and reporter on Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio, artist, and published writer. She enjoys reading, playing the violin, and weightlifting.

Read Press Pass with the full story from Brigitte:

Read the newspaper article:

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On Saturday, September 28 from 11-3pm, Event Teen Director Siri Phaneedra and BTSYA volunteers will be offering fun and free activities at the Be the Star You Are!® booth at the Pear and Wine Festival at Moraga Commons Park in Moraga. Henna, face painting, reading circle, pop up concert, teen radio reporters, and more will be available to celebrate our 20th anniversary. The canopy will have the name of our sponsor, The Lamorinda Weekly. Stop by with the family, enjoy the festivities, and make a tax-deductible donation. More info at bestpear fest.jpg

To aid with sponsorship, email


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Be the Star You Are!® partners with The Reading Tub to increase literacy by offering first hand, honest reviews of books for young people. BTSYA Star Book reviewers read and write reviews which are published at The Reading Tub at

and also in our creative community at . You’ll find more than 3000 reviews of books. We thank Founder and Executive Director, Terry Doherty, for her passion and dedication to books while collaborating with Be the Star You Are!®

WOW! 20 years. That is awesome. Perseverance and passion … you have them in limitless supply.” Terry Doherty, Founder and Executive Director, The Reading Tub


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‘Give yourself a boost of positivity by buying copies of our signature books in the Be the Star You Are!® series. 100% of the proceeds benefit the charity and you’ll treasure the stories for a lifetime. Buy now at

PPS: Read how BTSYA is Making a Difference: 



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“I Am Because We Are” 

by Karen Kitchel

Photo from Wiccanbipolarforum’s Post

An anthropologist proposed a game to the kids in an African tribe. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told them that whoever got there first won the sweet fruits.

When he gave them the signal to run, they all took each other’s hands and ran together, then sat in a circle enjoying their treats.

When he asked them why they chose to run as a group when they could have had more fruit individually, one child spoke up and said: “UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?”

‘UBUNTU’ in the Xhosa culture means: “I am because we are.”

Contributed by volunteer Karen Kitchel who is passionate about scattering kindness. Currently, she serves meals to the homeless, is a volunteer teacher, writer, job coach, and mentor. She wrote the chapter, The Gift of Adoption, in our book, Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers Celebrating Gifts of Positive Voices in a Changing Digital World and she continues to volunteer as a contributor to our newsletter.


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Get inspired, motivated, and informed with our two upbeat, life-affirming, innovative radio broadcasts from Be the Star You Are!® Radio heard on the Voice America Network, Empowerment Channel. StarStyle® airs Wednesdays LIVE from 4-5pm PT with host Cynthia Brian as your empowerment architect bringing you edu-tainment that will change your life for the better.

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Express Yourself!™ airs on Sundays at 3pm PT with teen and young adult hosts interviewing a variety of authors, musicians, celebrities, and experts on topics of interest to the younger generation.

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Visit to see the descriptions and photos.

To sponsor or advertise on any of our programs, please email

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 We appreciate a direct donation most of all via PAYPAL GIVING FUND at

Checks can be sent to PO Box 376, Moraga, California 94556

Other easy ways that assist our mission and don’t cost you a penny!

1. AmazonSmile donates .5% of purchases

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2. Discounted books at Amazon:

3. Buy or Sell on EBAY:

4. Use GoodSearch to search the web & buy from your favorite stores. Choose Be the Star You Are as your charity to support. You can log in with Facebook, too!

5. Shop at over 1300 stores on IGIVE:

6. BTSYA Logo Store:

7. Giving Assistant: Shop. Earn. Give! Use Giving Assistant to earn cash back at 3300+ popular online stores, then donate a percentage to BTSYA:

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8. Designer Clothes to Buy or Sell:

9. Buy “Read, Lead, Succeed” T-shirts and tanks $19.99 at StarStyle® Store:

10. Are you a gamer, lover of new software, or other digital content? Buy all of your favorites at Humble Bundle.


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Direct Links you can use for Be the Star You Are!®

Positive Results:

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We invite you to volunteer, get involved, or make a donation. Make a DONATION through PAYPAL GIVING FUND and PAYPAL with 100% going to BTSYA with NO FEES:



Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.

~ Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama


Be the Star You Are! 501 c3, PO Box 376, Moraga, California 94556.

Celebrating 20 years of stellar service to the world!

Be the Star You Are!®

PO Box 376

Moraga, California 94556

All donations are 100% Tax Deductible according to law. Thank you!


Read the newsletter:



Gaslighting : An emotional abuse to burn your sanity

Posted by presspass on
Health & Wellness
Gaslighting : An emotional abuse to burn your sanity

Gaslighting or Gaslighters …. this term is being used more than ever before in clinical and research literature as well as in political commentary. The term Gaslighting is now commonly used to describe behavior that is inherently manipulative. Gaslighting is a powerful form of emotional abuse. This sophisticated emotional abuse tactic makes victims question their own sanity.

Gaslighters use this mind game to gain control over the victim. Like other types of abuse, gaslighting can turn out in all sorts of relationships, including personal, romantic, social and professional. You may find gaslighters everywhere; political leaders, social media influencer, news anchors, celebrities, your neighbor, a close friend, your boss, colleague, your sibling, parents or other close relations – anyone of among these people surrounding you is in the position to gaslight you.

What is gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a form of psychological and emotional abuse used to eradicate or alter another human being’s perception of reality to gain influence, power, and control. Gaslighters deliberately play subtle mind games and psychological manipulations; which are carried out gradually in stages. To undermine the mental stability of its victim gaslighter repeats such manipulation time after time. These cause another individual (victim) to doubt his/her own judgments and perceptions.

The origin of the term Gaslighting

I know a question must be bugging you; from where did this term come from? The trendy phrase “Gaslighting” is originated from a 1938 mystery thriller play written by British playwright Patrick Hamilton called Gaslight . It was adapted into a popular movie in 1944 ; starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer and directed by George Cukor. In the movie, husband Gregory manipulates his innocent, loving and trusting wife Paula into believing she can no longer believe her own perceptions of reality.

Gregory tries to convince Paula through manipulating situations that she is going crazy. In one pivotal scene of this popular movie, Gregory causes the gaslights in the house to flicker by turning them on in the attic of the house. Paula notices this change asks his husband why the gaslights are flickering. Gregory convinces Paula that it’s not really happening and that it’s all in her mind, causing her to doubt her self-perception. Hence the term Gaslighting was born.

While the term Gaslighting never vanished, over seven decades later, gaslighting has fully resurfaced in personal relationships. The word gaslighting has become more popular everywhere since Donald Trump’s inauguration, so much so that the Oxford Dictionaries included it in one of the most popular words of 2018.

Effects of gaslighting

Galighting can have catastrophic effects on your mental health. The process is often gradual and may lead a person to develop mental health concerns. Gaslighting can impact your life in following manner

  • Constant self-doubt
  • Altered perception about reality
  • No trust on own judgments
  • Stressed out feelings
  • Lack of self-confidence
  • Low self-esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Social isolation and withdrawal
  • Decreased decision making ability
  • Depression

signs of gaslighting

Gaslighting tactics used by Gaslighters

Gaslighting can take place in various forms. Sometimes; it involves manipulating a person’s environment behind her/his back. On some other occasions the form of psychological abuse is entirely verbal and emotional. Common techniques used by gaslighters include following manipulative actions. These are most common warning signs of gaslighting

Lie and deny

A gaslighter is a constant liar. Gaslighters lie, lie and lie. Lie and deny these are the biggest weapons of gaslighters. They set up abusive pattern using them. The target/victim begins to question everything and become uncertain of the simplest matters. This self doubt and confusion in victim’s mind is what all gaslighters want. The constant self doubt and confusion that the abuser has instilled leads the victim to become desperate for clarity. In most of the cases the victim tries to seek clarity from abuser only. It becomes cycle and victim become more vulnerable.


Projection is gaslighter’s signature technique. They are liar, cheater, manipulator and have negative mindset. Whatever the gaslighter/narcissist is or whatever he/she is doing, he/she will assign those characteristics or behaviors to you. Gaslighters uses this technique projection so often that target/victim starts trying to defend him/her; and is distracted from the gaslighter’s own behavior.

Gaslighting - an Emotional Abuse


The congruence is missing in what gaslighters say and what they do. One can notice the mismatch in their words and actions. They will make promises and commitments but their words mean nothing. When it comes to action, their behavior is altogether different. They will also use compassionate words as a weapon at times to smooth over the particular situation. Then questioned for any incident, they may use words like, ” Honey, you know how much I love you. I can’t even think to hurt you like this.” These are the apologies and words which victim want to hear, but those are not authentic. When dealing with gaslighters always pay attention to their actions and not on the words.

Listening refusal

The gaslighters refuse to listen any concerns of gaslightee or pretend not to understand them. They try to make the victim feel bitter and question own sanity.

Challenge memory

They challenge and question the victim’s memory. Gaslighters deny the incidents and events occurred in the way the gaslithtee remembers. They may even deny and pretend to forget incidents or events that have happened actually, this manipulation helps further question the victim’s memory. They may also create false details of the incident or event that did not occur.


Change the subject

Gaslighters change the subject and try to divert the target’s attention from a topic. They divert the topic by asking another question, or making a statement typically directed to challenge your thoughts. They may also twist and redirect the conversation into an argument about the person’s credibility.


Gasligter declare that you are crazy. They know that victim is questioning his/her sanity. As I mentioned earlier, unfortunately in most of cases the victim search for clarity in the person who is purposefully causing the confusion. Here they call victim crazy and make them to believe it. They also spread it to other people, relatives and friends that “you’re crazy”. Gaslighter spreads rumors and gossips about you to relatives, friends and other surrounding people to you. They will pretend to be worried about you and “your behavior” while subtly telling others that you seems to have mental health issues like emotionally unstable or crazy. When victim approach them (friends and relatives) for help, they does not believe him/her. They don’t take the victim seriously. This way gaslighter isolates the victim from getting help.

gaslighting tactics used by gaslighters

Signs of Gaslighting

I have already mentioned the harmful and bad effects of gaslighting on receiver or victim. Long exposure to gaslighting triggers many mental health issues. Therefore, it becomes extremely important to recognize when you are being gaslighted. Check the following signs of gaslighting and ask yourself if any of the symptom or statements is true for your life:

  • You start doubting your own feelings or your sense of reality, and try to convince yourself that the gaslighter’s behaviour is not that bad or that you are being too sensitive on the issues.
  • Decision making becomes tough and you distrust yourself. You look towards your friends, partner or relatives for taking decisions for you.
  • There is no congruence in words and actions of your spouse, family member or friends. Their behaviour confuses you.
  • You feel like you are having low self-esteem. The thoughts like you are not “good enough” always prevails in your mind.
  • You always keep apologizing for what you do or who you are, assuming people are disappointed with you.
  • You try to live up to the  ingenuine, unrealistic and unreasonable expectations and demands of others.
  • Sense of insecurity and vulnerability, you feel like your behavior and actions will be questioned and you will look like fool in front of others.
  • You feel like something worst or terrible is about to happen whenever friends, spouse or relatives surrounds you.
  • A strong feeling that you are good for nothing.
  • You feel lonely, powerless and trapped.

The more you are aware of these gaslighting techniques, the earlier you can identify them and avoid falling into the gaslighter’s trap.  Are you experiencing gaslighting?  Do you know someone else who is?  Do you have any recommendations that would help others?  Please feel free to share in the comment section.

Be the Star You Are! 501 C3 Celebrates 20 Years Serving the World!

Posted by presspass on
Be the Star You Are! 501 C3 Celebrates 20 Years Serving the World!

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Local Literacy Non-Profit, Be the Star You Are!® Celebrates 20 Years of Service

by Brigitte Jia


On September 9, 2019, Moraga based literacy and positive media message charity, Be the Star You Are!® marks a major milestone…20 years of serving the community, county, and country.  A two-decade feat of being a non-profit is even all the more spectacular knowing that Be the Star You Are!® is 100% staffed with volunteers, no paid employees, and operates solely with the generous donations of individuals and businesses.


For six years, I’ve been a proud member and volunteer for the top-rated non-profit Be the Star You Are!® charity. In my freshman year at Campolindo High School, I stumbled upon the opportunity to be a behind-the-scenes “art coordinator”. With the encouragement and enthusiasm of Founder and Executive Director, Cynthia Brian, I soon spread my wings to become a reporter on Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio, brought to the airwaves under the auspices of Be the Star You Are!®  (BTSYA) charity. I quickly sharpened my communicative abilities, giving me the chance to grow from an awkward high school freshman into an open, articulate individual.

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My volunteer role gradually expanded with time as I participated in many activities that Be the Star You Are!® offered. I advanced to hosting the award-winning international radio show interviewing authors and celebrities from around the globe. I provided free books to children at events, shipped supplies to survivors of natural disasters across the United States, performed pop-up concerts with other BTSYA volunteer musicians throughout Lamorinda and for seniors at Moraga Royale and Aegis, read books to children at the Moraga Faire, painted faces at St. Mary’s events and the Pear Festival, helped children write letters to Santa at the 5A Rent-a-Space Holiday party, and continued to be the resident Be the Star You Are!® artist.

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In 2018, Be the Star You Are!® published the third book in its Be the Star You Are!®series titled Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers Celebrating Gifts of Positive Voices in a Changing Digital World. How honored I was to have two of my chapter submissions accepted for publication, the Gift of Activismand the Gift of Art!Thirty-one Be the Star You Are!® volunteers are now published in that book. Two of the recent contributors were also published in Be the Star You Are for TEENS where an additional 41 volunteers and supporters were published. All proceeds from sales of these books benefit the charity.

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There are numerous opportunities for teens to get their community service credits while growing as people and leaders. Besides reporting on the thought-provoking radio broadcast, one of the most popular Be the Star You Are!® outreach programs is to become a writer on the Star Teen Book Review Team. To date, over 2000 book reviews have been written and published.

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In these past six years, I’ve experienced some truly heartwarming moments of gratitude and collaborative power. A unique trait that I admire about volunteering with Be the Star You Are!®501 c3 is that the Founder, Cynthia Brian, is a dedicated mentor helping each volunteer find his/her passion and individual strength.  Read the reviews at Great Non-Profits: have a motto, “Read, lead, succeed. To be a leader, you must be a reader.”  Through Be the Star You Are!® programs I have found my voice and my leadership capabilities.


With my chaotic college schedule, I have less time, yet I’m glad that I’ve been welcomed as a part of something so much larger than just myself. Because of my involvement with BTSYA, I am no longer afraid to talk to others about my feelings and opinions. As part of this organization, I’ve grabbed the globe by the horns and have been able to concretely change peoples’ lives. The work I do alongside Cynthia and other members of our BTSYA family will stay with me for the rest of my life.

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It’s a big deal to celebrate 20 years of nonstop grassroots service. Our new slogan is “Communicate, Collaborate, Innovate!”  I can’t wait to see what BTSYA has in store for me and the world in the future!

For more information, to volunteer, or make a donation, please visit the main web site at https://www.BetheStarYouAre.organd our creative community at Reviews:


Brigitte Jia is a university sophomore interested in helping to bring the flaws of society to light. A volunteer with BTSYA, she is a host and reporter on Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio, artist, and published writer. She enjoys reading, playing the violin, and weightlifting.


Edited version published on 9./4/19:


How to Go Big With Your Podcast as a Media Brand

Posted by presspass on
How to Go Big With Your Podcast as a Media Brand

Launching or growing your podcast as a media brand to build your reputation, connections, network, and business starts with you, your story, and a powerful and appealing concept. Yet even if you’re somewhat tech savvy and feel comfortable talking to people and even doing interviews, turning that podcast into a highly popular and attention grabbing media vehicle in a vast sea of digital content already out there requires much more than a microphone, some cheap software, and maybe a podcast service.

You probably have listened to a few podcasts, and seen them featured on the app or platform you use. You may have wondered how did they become popular? How did they acquire that audience or get those big numbers of subscribers or followers on social media? Simply, how did they do it? 

The reality is there is not one single ‘magic formula’ to make a big splash with any kind of media, whether audio or video based. Yet the good news is there is a process and a strategy that does produce great results and success — and I am about to tell you what that is. First, though, there are a few things to understand about the digital media industry before you dive in with some kind of podcast you think people would be interested in listening to in the first place.

I’ve been a producer all of my professional life. For the past 14 years I’ve been working in the digital media industry and developed more than 200 original podcasts for best selling authors, leading business personalities, influencers, celebrities, top speakers, and many other professionals. Some of my shows reach millions of listeners every year and a number of them are sponsored; which means their shows bring in advertising dollars. I started my career as a producer working in the entertainment media industry in Los Angeles; then worked as a journalist writing breaking news for mainstream media such as CBS, AOL, and the U.S. State Department media division. So my experience in the online media industry covers before the Internet and from when it started, until today.

When I am asked “the success question” I tell people that the digital Internet of today is a media business, just like the business world of movies or TV. It follows the rules of traditional ‘show business’. That means nobody “makes it big” without some kind of professional support — people who take care of the things you’re not an expert at doing, don’t have time for, or don’t want to spend time learning to do well. People outside the media business sometimes don’t understand this and think they can just DIY everything and sure, this works for some who don’t mind the learning curve and the time involved, and also usually also spend a lot of money to get there as well.

Simply stated, no one does it alone. The best and most successful media projects are created by a great team of experienced pros, or with expert help of some kind. If you are considering a podcast for yourself or your company to build your reputation, sell your service, or promote your organization — what would your goal be for it? Who would want to listen to it? How would you like the podcast to build the reputation and business you have established and go big? These days, its called developing a media brand and executing it is a media strategy.

So traditionally, as a producer, I am one of those professionals who develops an idea in collaboration with a passionate individual with an idea or a mission of some kind and creates that media brand supporting the goals of that person. One method is a podcast whose audience builds over time with content produced consistently (week by week is best). I’ve had some podcast hosts become ‘thought leaders’ in their space (like Brett King above) using that media brand approach. It takes knowing your audience, creating great content, and being very consistent in working your media strategy over a long period of time. There are of course, a long list of other marketing and social strategies that are also essential to attract, engage, and retain an audience — a network of dedicated followers, subscribers, buyers, connections…whatever your goal is.

Producers know how to help you tell your story and communicate your own unique value proposition, identity, expertise, or message. We help you define your audience — who your show will be talking to (your market). Or as we say in show biz, “who is this for?” This is where a media brand begins — with your story and your passion. And the”why” you are creating it — because it’s not about you — it’s about your audience. What will they get out of listening to it?

So what are the right ‘go big’ questions to ask? One of the smartest ones is “how do people find my show if they don’t know about it or have never heard of me? How do people find me across the Internet? The long list of other questions I usually get asked usually center around these general topic areas:

How can the show be recorded/produced and what are technical options?

What are the best ways to distribute the produced show?

What are the most efficient methods of promoting the show through social media channels, email, press releases, and more?

How long does it take to build an audience?

Is there a way to accurately track actual listeners or viewers ongoing?

How do I get high quality guests?

What if I also want to go live with my show — what are my options?

What are ways of making money with my radio show? Or ‘how do I monetize the content?’

How does one pitch advertisers and close deals for sponsorship that actually works?

Are there ways of incorporating video along with the podcast?

What equipment is required?

So the response I usually get from people when I give them this “media reality check”, goes something like this:

“So I don’t have time for all that…is there a way to get some kind professional media support where I can just drop in every week to talk and do interviews?” (or something like this)

Yes, there is — it’s where I hang out as a producer. It’s called VoiceAmerica. You may have heard of it.

The VoiceAmerica Network was an early pioneer in the podcast and digital live radio industry. They have been and still are the world’s leading live digital network for talk shows and have been online producing and distributing content for 20 years — longer than just about any other operation out there. VoiceAmerica started when the Internet started and its still running a successful platform — that in itself should tell you something.

Yes, before there were mobile apps, iTunes, Facebook, and You Tube, there was VoiceAmerica.

There are more than five million active listeners that tune in and hear VoiceAmerica shows every month all over the world. It’s a destination online that people actually go to looking for ideas, solutions, and answers and to hear what’s going on in the world. That’s an important point. It features some of the world’s leading experts in various fields and many influencers and change makers that do weekly live talk shows which are also distributed as podcasts through the latest digital technology.

These smart hosts also get creative, technical, business, marketing, education, media coaching, and other professional support from people like me. They don’t do it alone. And, yes, the reality check is if you are not willing to spend the time and money involved in learning everything you need to know to be successful to do your podcast, you’re going to have to have somebody produce it for you. That’s the business part in ‘show business’.

Like I said, I’m a producer. If you didn’t know what a producer actually does, now you know.

So now I think I’ve given you enough to think about. If you want to know more, visit

And…you know where to find me if you want to know “how does it work?”.

Randall Libero, Senior Executive Producer.  

Influence Is All About PEOPLE

Posted by presspass on
Influence Is All About PEOPLE

This blog is provided by Brian Ahearn, the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC, as a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future. This interview Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade aired on 9/3/19.

When it comes to influence I believe it’s all about PEOPLE. I write that because we don’t try to persuade things. Dale Carnegie had it right when he wrote, “Dealing with people is probably the biggest problem you face, especially if you’re in business.” The more you know how to ethically influence people the better your chances are for success at the office and happiness at home.

When it comes to PEOPLE I encourage you to think about the about the Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical. Let’s take a quick look at each component of PEOPLE.


Who says influence is powerful? Here are what a few well known people from history had to say about persuasion:

“Persuasion is often more effective than force.” Aesop, Greek Fabulist

“If I can persuade, I can move the universe.” Frederick Douglass, American social reformer, abolitionist, writer, and statesman

“The only real power available to the leader is the power of persuasion.” Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th President of the United States

In addition to those intelligent people, we have more than 70 years of research from social psychology, behavioral economics and more recently neuroscience, to tangibly prove how powerful persuasion can be.


Unless you’re Tom Hanks in Castaway you interact with people every single day. Quite often in your communication with others you make requests hoping to hear “Yes!” Nobody goes it alone, especially the highly successful. Jack Welch, former General Electric CEO said, “Nearly everything I’ve done in my life has been accomplished through other people.”

Here’s something I love about persuasion; it applies at work and home, a 24x7x365 skill. At work you try to persuade your boss, direct reports, coworkers, vendors and customers. At home influence helps with your parents, significant other, children, neighbors and anyone else you come in contact with.


In virtually every communication you have there will be opportunities for you to do seemingly little things just a bit different to potentially reap big rewards. For example, wouldn’t you be interested to find out what the Cancer Society did to increase their volunteer rate 700% in one area of town or how Easter Seals doubled the number of donors? Both were accomplished by doing a few, nearly costless things differently to employ a little psychology.

The problem is, all too often people miss the opportunities that are right in front of them. However, once you begin to learn the language of persuasion you’ll be amazed at how often you spot the opportunities to engage psychology to leverage better results.


What exactly is persuasion? The definitions I hear most often are “to change someone’s mind” or “to convince someone of something.” Those might be good starts but they’re not enough. In the end you want to see people change their behavior.

With a focus on behavior change I think Aristotle, the famous Greek philosopher, put it best when he said, “Persuasion is the art of getting people to do something they wouldn’t ordinarily do if you didn’t ask.”


Sometimes your interaction with another person is “one and done” but quite often it’s an ongoing relationship. In those relationships you don’t want to go back to the drawing board time after time. No, you want to have communications that change people’s thinking and behavior for the long haul.

Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower understood the power of persuasion to create a lasting effect when he said, “I would rather persuade a man to go along, because once I have persuaded him, he will stick. If I scare him, he will stay just as long as he is scared, and then he is gone.” Done right, persuasion can have a lasting impact on others.


According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, manipulation is, “to treat or operate with or as if with the hands or by mechanical means especially in a skillful manner.” That’s not so bad but another definition for manipulation is, “to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one’s own advantage.”

Manipulation makes most of us bristle because it connotes taking advantage of someone. I’m confident in writing this next statement – no one likes to be manipulated. I’m reasonably certain the vast majority of people don’t want to be known as manipulators either.

When it comes to the difference between ethical influence and manipulation I like the following quote from The Art of WOO (Richard Shell & Mario Moussa), “An earnest and sincere lover buys flowers and candy for the object of his affections. So does the cad who succeeds to take advantage of another’s heart. But when the cad succeeds, we don’t blame the flowers and candy. We rightly question his character.”


Your ability to ethically influence others will be a big determinant when it comes to your professional success and personal happiness. Knowing that, and knowing how much you use this one skill each day, doesn’t it make sense to get better at it?

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

About the Author

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An international speaker, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the topic of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book – Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical – is available online through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and most other online sites.

His LinkedIn Learning courses Persuasive SellingPersuasive Coaching and Building a Coaching Culture: Improving Performance through Timely Feedback, have been viewed by more than 70,000 people! Keep an eye out for Advanced Persuasive Selling: Persuading Different Personalities this fall.


Check out this and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the ILI LinkedIn.

De-Stres 101: Who Taught You How to Relax?

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Health & Wellness
De-Stres 101: Who Taught You How to Relax?

Most Americans know how to vacation real well, go the full nine yards for two weeks and then remain stressed out most of the year.  We are really novices at relaxing and letting go of stress in our day to day lives.  Our mojo is self-actualization and we ascribe great value to being efficient and busy.  In fact, we tend to WORK AT relaxing which is counter-intuitive to how to become relaxed, but is very American.

I’m Dr. Miriam Franco, a psychologist and Relaxation and Guided Imagery specialist and host of Imagine That! on the Voice America Wellness Channel.   Every time I conduct a workshop to teach people how to use the power of their imaginations to relax, I ask: “Who taught you how to relax?”  And typically I hear: “No one.”

On my first Imagine That! Show, I introduce listeners how to let go of stress, to tune in and become aware of ways of slowing down by guiding them to turn on their relaxation response and to imagine   relaxing, sensory images, like your ideal place of relaxation, which in this state, your body captures it and allows it to deeply resonate within your body.  It’s a fun, easy way to evoke a paradigm shift, to become attuned to a different way of knowing and experiencing  by relaxing and evoking images that help you open and connect to a natural way of being in the present and letting go of stress stored in your body or mind.

Most of us need strategies for how to get started, to really learn to sink below the surface of activity and become deeply relaxed because this is foreign in our culture.   The quickest way to tune in and let go of stress is to learn Relaxation and Guided Imagery.  Tune into The Power of Your Imagination to Relax on Imagine That ! Show on September 3rd at 12 pm PT or 3 pm EST on Voice America’s Wellness Channel  and  I’ll guide you to playfully imagine with your senses centering techniques like imagining an ideal place of relaxation, a safe place or even picturing someone easy to love.  These gentle yet powerful  imagery skills are easy to practice at work or during transitions in your day. And they do not require much time or skill level as do most forms of meditation.

Come join me and discover the power of your imagination to relax, cope, heal or learn. And have some fun too.

Dr. Franco

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