Weeds, Green Grass & People

Editor’s Note: Success Is Voluntary is very excited (and proud) to introduce you to Bryan Yager of the Bryan Yager Group. Bryan writes a very popular newsletter that is delivered each week titled Monday Morning Minute. To find out more about Bryan, and the fantastic work he does, just head on over to BryanYager.com

Monday Morning Minute

First a quote: “Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.” 

H. Jackson Brown, Jr. Author, Life’s Little Instruction Book

Ok, I’m guessing I’m not the only person who is ready for spring. (Compared to the rest of the country, we have had an unusually easy winter here in Boise, ID.)  Spring fever has arrived for me; I am anxious to be spending more time outside, both relaxing of course, and tinkering in my yard.

I’m likely to be amongst a small minority of people who, for the most part, enjoys yardwork. I have always mowed and maintained my own yard. Returning from a road trip to a home with a green, weed-free yard is gratifying for me. There are also important life lessons about relationships, teams and organizational cultures to be learned from green grass, weeds and mother nature herself.

Gardeners know the best deterrent to dandelions and other weeds is thick, green, healthy grass. (A related sports analogy would be, “The best defense, is a great offense.”) When the grass in our lawns is thick and healthy, there is no room for weeds to grow or even germinate. Healthy grass works like a barrier or shield against even the toughest weeds. Of course, the opposite is true as well, once grass becomes weak, perhaps from neglect, undernourishment, lack of water or stress, weeds attack with a vengeance.

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Culture Matters! How Fast Are You Driving?

Editor’s Note: Success Is Voluntary is very excited (and proud) to introduce you to Bryan Yager of the Bryan Yager Group. Bryan writes a very popular newsletter that is delivered each week titled Monday Morning Minute. To find out more about Bryan, and the fantastic work he does, just head on over to BryanYager.com

Monday Morning Minute

First a quote: Culture eats strategy for breakfast.

Peter Drucker (Maybe)

While many people attribute the quote above to Peter Drucker, it should be noted the phrase does not seem to appear in any of Drucker’s 39 published books on management theory. Regardless of its origin, anyone who has ever attempted a large-scale change initiative knows there is at least some truth in the statement. 

The implied message is that a company’s culture is more important to the organization’s success than some grand strategy. Bottom line, it doesn’t matter how wonderful your strategy is if your existing organizational culture won’t support it; or worse yet, attacks the strategy like the human body attacks an infection.  And yet, so few leaders measure, monitor or intentionally shape the culture of their department, function or organization. Why? I suspect, in part, because culture seems so squishy. It is perceived by many as “soft stuff”. Or, leaders assume, “the culture is what it is,” and can’t be measured, shaped, changed or reinforced.  Or perhaps, they’re just too busy fighting the fires of the day to care. That is a mistake.

You have heard me say this before, “the soft stuff, is the hard part” when it comes to leadership responsibilities. Organizational culture is seen by most as a “soft stuff” challenge.  I’m a believer, when it comes to organizational norms, behaviors, actions and results, culture is a stronger force, than strategy, policies, management edicts and glitzy marking campaigns. Let me use a simple example.

Envision a local highway, interstate or thoroughfare near your home or office during a “non-rush hour time of day.” Have a road in mind? Now, let me ask you two questions. First; “What is the posted speed limit on that road?” And second; “How fast do most people drive on that same road?”  For this discussion, let’s assume you have envisioned a road with a posted speed limit of 65 as pictured above.  And now, what is your answer to the second question; “How fast do people drive on that same road?”

I have asked workshop participants these same two questions for years. Most people answer the second question with something like, “You’re safe up to five or ten miles over the speed limit.”  What I find interesting; they’re not talking about their physical safety here; they’re talking about “safe” from not getting a speeding ticket from an officer of the law.

Here is the point, the law says, “Thou shalt not drive faster than 65 miles per hour on this section of road.”  The sign is not a suggestion; nor does it say 65ish, or 65 + 10. It says the speed limit is 65!And yet, our culture seems to say, “It is OK to drive five to ten miles an hour over the speed limit.” Repeating, culture matters because it controls human behavior, with more effectiveness, than any policy, procedure or management edict ever will.

This same phenomenon is at play in every division, function and department in every company around the world. We put up posters in our breakrooms announcing: (pick your favorite)

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Pessimism; Good or Bad??

Editor’s Note: Success Is Voluntary is very excited (and proud) to introduce you to Bryan Yager of the Bryan Yager Group. Bryan writes a very popular newsletter that is delivered each week titled Monday Morning Minute. To find out more about Bryan, and the fantastic work he does, just head on over to BryanYager.com

Monday Morning Minute

First a quote: “I like pessimists. They’re always the ones who bring life jackets for the boat.”
Lisa Kleypas, author

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I like to write about positive energy and how important it is for leaders to be forward looking, optimistic and creators of hope, confidence, trust, promoters of opportunity and a better world for all. (see links below) Today, I focus on the opposite end of the optimistic/pessimistic continuum.

I am often asked to deliver workshops demonstrating the importance of diversity and the role of diversity in an organization’s success. As you might correctly assume, there is often a focus on gender, ethnicity, age and sexual orientation in most diversity initiatives.  Those are certainly important topics and at the same time, the importance of diversity extends well beyond those critical topics.

There is also a need for diversity in terms of personalities, working styles and leadership tendencies. Just to give a few examples, please consider:

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Is Your Leadership Energy Positive or Negative?

Editor’s Note: Success Is Voluntary is very excited (and proud) to introduce you to Bryan Yager of the Bryan Yager Group. Bryan writes a very popular newsletter that is delivered each week titled Monday Morning Minute. To find out more about Bryan, and the fantastic work he does, just head on over to BryanYager.com

Do people follow you like sunflower follow the sun?

Monday Morning Minute

First a quote: “Become the kind of leader people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.” 

Brian Tracy

Did you know young sunflower blooms follow the sun across the sky every day until they are fully mature? I certainly didn’t. However, I noticed the phenomenon on a 2-week road trip I took with my dad across the western United States in late summer three years ago.

As we passed fields of commercial sunflower crops in the morning, I noticed every single bloom was facing east in the direction of the sun. It was as if they were standing at attention and ready for whatever the day might bring. I didn’t give it much thought until I made another observation about those blossoms in late afternoon; they all faced west in the direction of the setting sun. The next day, I paid attention throughout the day… sure enough, entire fields of sunflower blossoms followed the sun across the sky from east to west! Absolutely amazing! At least I thought so. I was curious enough to do a little research which confirmed my observations to be true.

There seem to be several scientific theories behind this phenomenon, but one thing is for sure, the blossoms are attracted too, and follow, the warm energy of the sun across the summer sky. (Those of you with house plants already know how plants will grow in the direction of sunlight.)

I submit there are leadership lessons to be learned from Mother Nature about the power of not only the sun, but of warm, positive, growth-stimulating, life-giving energy. As leaders, the energy we radiate will either attract people, turn them off or worse yet, turn them away! Our style and approach to leadership can either be energizing on one end of the spectrum or completely stifling and paralyzing on the other. This is an important leadership concept! In today’s competitive environment, our organizations must attract and retain the “best & brightest” if we are to not only survive, but flourish and grow, well into the future.  As leaders, we must lead in such a way that the “best & brightest” want to work with us and support our organizational mission and vision. If you’re following the generational trends in the workplace, you already know many people from Gen Y and Z tend to value leaders who are willing to make an investment in their growth and personal development.

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Come join me (and a several hundred of my closest friends) in Nashville Tennessee!  The great team at SourceMedia and Employee Benefit Adviser have put together what promises to be an outstanding conference.

I have been honored to give the kick-off, keynote speech! I couldn’t be more humbled and excited. The title of my talk is Leaving a Legacy Through Recruiting.

For more information about the conference just CLICK HERE  But you need to hurry! The conference is almost sold out.

See you in Nashville ‘ya all.

Date: February 20, 2019
Time: 3:30-4:15 p.m.
Appearance: Work Place Benefits Renaissance
Outlet: Keynote Speech - Leaving A Legacy Through Recruiting
Location: Omni Hotel - Nashville, Tennesee
Format: Other

I will be announcing the full launch of the VoluntaryLeader.com website!

Are You Taking Your Health for Granted?

Editor’s Note: Success Is Voluntary is very excited (and proud) to introduce you to Bryan Yager of the Bryan Yager Group. Bryan writes a very popular newsletter that is delivered each week titled Monday Morning Minute. To find out more about Bryan, and the fantastic work he does, just head on over to BryanYager.com

Invest in Your Health

Monday Morning Minute

First a quote:Health is not valued till sickness comes.”— Thomas Fuller

Bill Gillispie, Jr., a good friend of mine, recently suggested I write an article on the importance of valuing, and appreciating, your health before it is gone. It’s true isn’t it, far too often we take our health for granted until it is too late. It almost feels like an epidemic; poor eating habits and/or too little exercise, too little sleep, maybe a sedentary lifestyle, could be too many cigarettes or too much alcohol, or perhaps a combination of bad habits with little desire or effort to change, all because we take our health for granted.

Bill should know. While his health challenges are not related to his personal habits, he was diagnosed with MS in 1999 and has been fighting this disease for almost 20 years. His MS progression has been slower, and his symptoms are currently manageable, making him one of the more fortunate people fighting this crippling disease. More recently, Bill was also diagnosed with prostate cancer which required the surgical removal of his prostate gland. All of this prompted his suggestion of imploring people to not take their health for granted.

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SIV #070: Eric Silverman Returns

Single-handedly disrupting a 100-year old industry.

All we have to do is change everything.

I’ve known today’s guest Eric Silverman for a long time. When we had him on last time he sparked some controversy with some of his opinions and thoughts around where he thinks the Voluntary Benefits industry, or as he calls it enhanced benefits, is headed.

Well if you though his last appearance was controversial, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

I’ll be honest with you, I don’t agree with him on several things we talked about but I do admire, respect and am willing to be challenged by his positions and beliefs. How open are you to hearing things that might challenge your status quo? I never want to close off my thinking by digging into my position without understanding the other side of the argument.

As you listen to today’s podcast, my guess is that there will be somethings Eric talks about that might not sit quite right with you or even make you mad… And that’s great!

Eric would love to start a conversation with you and listen to your point of view.

During our interview I forgot to talk about his excellent book Breaking Through The Status Quo. That was completely my fault. (Sorry Eric!) I can’t recommend it enough!

Now SERIOUSLY get out blue crayons and brown paper bag to take some notes. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and facilitating a lively discussion around this interview.

Things Eric And I Talked About

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Is Your Attitude Intentional or Accidental?

Editor’S Note: Success Is Voluntary is very excited (and proud) to introduce you to Bryan Yager of the Bryan Yager Group. Bryan writes a very popular newsletter that is delivered each Monday titled Monday Morning Minute.

He has agreed to share it with the SIV tribe as a regular contributor each and every Monday morning! To find out more about Bryan, and the fantastic work he does, just head on over to BryanYager.com

Monday Morning Minute

First a quote:“Gratitude and attitude are not challenges; they are choices.”— Robert Braathe

I’m going to ask you to do something I often ask of workshop participants. This is an experiment of sorts. Know up front the task is only possible as a mental exercise because doing it would be impossible. It is a three-step process. Here it is:

First, I would like you to visualize all the people you know, from all aspects of your life, facing you in one single line from left to right. (For some, this will be a very, very long imaginary line.)

Second, I would like you to mentally arrange these people from “most successful” on one end of the line to “least successful” on the opposite end of the line in a continuum.  For this exercise, you may use your own personal definition of success.  For some, it might be financial or career success, for others, it might be relational, family, or spiritual success. For still others, it may be a happiness index of some kind. I have learned that for this activity, the definition doesn’t seem to matter much.

Now, looking at all the people from “most successful” on one side to “least successful” on the other end, what do you think is the biggest differentiator between the people standing on opposite ends of the spectrum? What do the successful people tend to have in common that separates them from those on the other end?

Based on my experience, with most workshop participants and groups, I can predict your answer. Almost always, the number one answer I get in that mental activity is… ______________?  If you guessed “attitude”, then you agree with most people who have participated in this experiment over the years.

I find this puzzling! If most people know that “one’s attitude” is a key factor in “one’s level of success” in almost every aspect of life, why do so many people persist with a negative attitude? It seems the correlation is obvious to even the casual observer. I offer three possible explanations:

  1. People truly don’t know how important a positive attitude is to their level of success in life.
  2. People have low self-awareness and don’t know how their attitude is received or perceived by others. (They believe their attitude is just fine and not a problem. Simultaneously, they often see other people as the primary source of problems in their life.)
  3. People have come to believe their attitude is justified. (“If you had my boss, my spouse, or my upbringing, you would have a bad attitude too.”)

“Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”

John Wooden

I was once taught that attitude is nothing more than the outward expression of inward thoughts. How we think on the inside determines our attitude on the outside. I’d like to suggest another definition; attitude is nothing more than a person’s “habit pattern response” to life. In other words, a bad attitude has become a habit. To change our attitudes, we must change and upgrade our thinking… and we must do so intentionally.

I would like to convince you that attitudes are a choice we make, minute by minute, day by day, person by person. Here is my challenge to you for this week; think and act intentionally. If you’re not proud of your recent attitude, choose to be more positive this week and see what happens. Don’t leave your attitude to chance or habit this week. Choose your attitude, your “habit pattern response to life” intentionally!

“No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.”

Helen Keller

How will you lead differently, or better, this week? Be your best and the best shall be returned to you if full. I promise.

Bryan Yager – Expanding your capacity for success

This post was first published on January 21, 2019 at BryanYager.com

To have his newsletter “Monday Morning Minute” delivered to your email inbox every Mondy, just click here: SUBSCRIBE

SIV #069: Wes Schaeffer – The Sales Whisperer


The A,B,C,D,Es of Selling

I first met Wes Schaeffer at a convention in Phoenix back in 2014. He was just starting to get some real traction in his business and he has exploded from there. His “The Sales Podcast” is one of my must listen to podcasts and he has taught me a ton!

You are going to enjoy our time with Wes and I hope you come away a better salesperson.

Do you know the only way to ensure you learn something from this podcast? Take some notes!

You don’t have to be all fancy about it and write them in your leather bound journal. Just grab a brown paper bag and some blue crayons and let’s go to work.

Things Wes And I Talked About

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It Worked So Good…

We stoped doing it!

I love technology! I love anything that is shiny, sexy, new. I love the latest and greatest ANYTHING!

Technology is great but it isn't necessarily better than the system we are already using.

So many things that show up on my Amazon suggestions call to me to just hit “Buy with 1 click!” So many information products (classes, seminars, resources, do it for you programs, etc.) sing to me.

I’ve seen a lot of marketers claiming that you no longer have to cold call. How cool! Wouldn’t it be awesome to just use social media? “Who needs to cold call,” the charlatans cry out. Just buy my course for $1,999 and I’ll show you how to leverage LinkedIn!!!

I’m not alone. As I work with sales teams all over the country, I regularly see organizations that have walked so far away from the basics of sales, they couldn’t find their way back with gps.

The reality is that we aren’t really leveraging technology. Technology is leveraging us.

Please understand that I am not a technology hater. I am more connected than I probably should be. Technology has made many aspects of our lives much easier (not necessarily any simpler.)

We get so caught up in learning the new tool that we forget to do the basics. Why? It is very safe to spend 4 hours learning how to do LinkedIn searches. Nobody can tell us no when we are watching videos.

Instead, we start spamming inviting people, we have zero connection to, to learn about our awesome opportunity. When they don’t respond or tell us they aren’t interested, at least it was so easy to ask we don’t feel the rejection the same way we would on the phone or in person.

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There MUST be a reason.

Some days it is hard to remember why you went into sales. Some days you get your head handed to you. Some days that big client you were counting on (and had already spent the commission check in your mind) backs out of the deal.

Really, Why?

Why do you keep going? Why is it that you believe things are going to get better? Maybe like many salespeople, you are overly optimistic. But I don’t think so.

I think you have a bigger reason than just making money (at least I hope so.) The challenge is that it is easy to sometimes lose sight of what really drives us.

There was a reason you went into sales. There was a reason you chose the company you represent. There is a reason you are still there. There is a reason you don’t have your resume on CareerBuilder.com


One of the most powerful exercises I have done with my team is

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Your Sacred Duty

Leadership is bigger than an expectation

“To whom much is given, much is required.” – Luke 12:48

Regardless of your faith system/worldview, the message of the above passage is universal. As leaders in this industry, we have been given much. I have a friend who regularly says, “If I had settled for my wildest dreams, I would have sold myself short.” I feel the exact same way. If that is true, then I am REQUIRED to pay it forward, even if I wasn’t in leadership.


So what does the “REQUIRED” mean? You will have to figure that out for yourself. As for me, it means I owe it to the people that are counting on me, the people I lead, to give them my absolute, level best every single day. Regardless of my own personal circumstances. Regardless if I feel like it. Regardless if I am tired. Regardless if the last two people I tried to help didn’t listen. Regardless if people sometimes try to take advantage of me. Regardless if…

Hard Work

Being in leadership is not always puppy dogs kissing

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