Tag: Leadership

Are You Guilty of Committing the 7 Deadly Sins of Leadership?

Are You Guilty of Committing the 7 Deadly Sins of Leadership?

These are not the traditional ABCs of deadly sins (i.e., avarice, greed, lust). As humans and leaders, we know success and its opposite are complex parts of life, not cut-and-dried results of moral failure.

Exhibiting the following traits doesn’t make you a bad person. The fact that you are reading this means that you are a person who is actively working to become a better leader. Through a few silent behaviors, however, you may be contributing to an environment that stunts your organization’s promise.

As a C-suite executive leader, your colleagues take their cues from you. If you are mired in bad habits, you are closing yourself off to reality, misguiding your team, missing opportunities, and overall not enjoying your work. So use the following list as a checkpoint. If you commit these “sins” regularly, heed the words of Ice Cube himself and “check yourself before you wreck yourself.” It could be time to start shifting your perspective.

1. SELF- DOUBT

We grow up with a distorted sense of confidence: either we have too much or too little. In leadership, confidence is essential. Let’s compare the effects of confidence and doubt.

Confidence creates committed action, curiosity, creativity, cooperation and communication—all things CEOs must stand upon as the company’s rock. Confidence makes this possible because you have a healthy sense of your skills and experience, as well as your place among your team.

Doubt is distortion from which flows fear, anxiety, negativity, and isolation from the team. A company with ailing roots will never thrive.

Luckily, confidence can be inborn, and as discussed in my post on the fixed vs. growth mindset, it can be built. It is also your job to instill it in your employees. That’s what great leaders do—create certainty by putting aside nagging self-doubt in order to express positive clarity.

I don’t mean shooting positivity beams wildly in all directions. I mean setting achievable and challenging goals, praising what is going right, and giving honest feedback about what is not working. To remove self-doubt, remove the focus from yourself and tell your team how and why they are essential to the achievement of strategic outcomes.

2. AFFECTATION

Affectation is pretending to be someone you’re not. Masks are easy to see through because it’s obvious the person is focusing on the wrong things, like their appearance, over the team’s needs.

True leaders are genuine because they bring their own experience to the table. They meet experiences head-on, drawing conclusions and learning lessons they can share.

There will always be others who seem bigger, more successful, and with more presence than you. It’s great to take notes from highly successful executives, and put them into practice. If you’re copying verbatim from the big-name leadership gurus, you’re not leading…you’re following.

Nothing good comes from envy. Resources and inspiration are plentiful, and stillyou must be the one to interpret, to apply, to inspire, and to lead your unique organization.

3. ARROGANCE

Those dealing with self-doubt may think this isn’t their issue. And it is quite easy to swing to the extreme, especially when money, public image, and status are at stake. The key word to checking arrogance is respect—respect for other people’s tempo, boundaries, and knowledge.

Arrogance can lead you to believe you know better than the rest of the team, that you know better than everyone. If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room. And if you’re talking more than you’re listening, you are blocking out valuable insights. Why even head an organization if you know how to do it all yourself? Leaders make work cohesive—not make work a vehicle for their egos.

4. MICROMANAGING

Micromanaging comes from a whole host of issues: arrogance of thinking that you can run an operation all by yourself, greed to flex your brain power and do every task yourself, and doubt in your team rolled into one. If you think you may be micro-managing, ask yourself about the last time you checked in with your employees. If you don’t ask them to define their own challenges and strategies for meeting them, you may want to give more trust.

5. ANGER

Anger should be rightful, not righteous. It is authentic to let yourself feel upset when things go awry. Blind, overwhelming anger is just emotion—pure force that controls you. Left unchecked, it wreaks havoc on your health and relationships. If your stress levels are through the roof, consider taking a step back and examining: Are you overly attached to winning at all costs? Is your self worth tied to some egocentric victory? Perhaps you fear criticism? The next time you feel gripped to take it out on your employees, go outside and take a few breaths. Take a vacation. Or consider yoga, meditation, coaching, and even therapy if your negative interactions at work outweigh the positive.

6. INDECISION

Leaders call the final shots on the best course of action for their organization. When you waffle between courses of action for too long, you may fall behind competition who is willing to take risks and roll with the consequences or miss out on market opportunity. Indecision and procrastination also waste the company’s time, lowering morale and progress—perhaps even revenue. You won’t grow if you’re not making some kind of progress every day.

7. SHORT-SIGHTEDNESS

Being a workaholic is a badge of commitment—long hours are often important to a company’s success, and executives should be the most passionate employees. But focusing too much on one thing, whether it’s immediate profits over culture, or hours rather than productivity, can lead to short-sightedness.

Conversely, taking time to learn about colleagues personal lives, celebrating progress, achievements, and recognizing the road ahead all contribute to loyalty, contentment, and working towards a common purpose. An enjoyable process focused on performance excellence makes results so much sweeter.

This is the greatest time in the history of the world to be a corporate leader. We’re all looking to conquer the world with what we are doing. We need good people to help us do it. People who want to achieve success for themselves and can help us do it as a team. Investing in our people, making culture our strategic advantage is the way to victory in our businesses and in our lives.

 

What You Need to Know About High Performance & the Science of Success

What You Need to Know About High Performance & the Science of Success

Dreams alone never took anyone anywhere. Dreams require massive action in order to become success stories.

I’m counting down to my third Ironman Triathlon. With just a few hours left before the race, what matters most now is the work I’ve put in for the past year to prepare. There are no shortcuts to high performance. There is no cramming for this physical, mental and spiritual test.

Fitness is a science, not an art. Nutrition is a science, not an art. They can be precisely measured, calculated, adjusted and improved. Research, data and strategy can be applied to optimize training and maximize power, performance and results.

The most important measures of athletic performance can easily be tracked—things like VO2 max: the measure of the maximum volume of oxygen an athlete can use, or your lactic threshold: how hard your body can work before it starts producing lactic acid. You can measure your body’s limits and set goals to improve.

Measuring base units of production for the purpose of elevating performance is key not only in sports, but also in business. What gets measured gets managed. What gets reported, improves. Success, too, should be approached as a science – it can be studied and advanced.

Here are some strategies, cool bio-hacks and tech I’ve discovered that have helped me optimize my own performance and Ironman training:

Nutritional Ketosis – Timothy Noakes, M.D., professor in the Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine at the University of Cape Town, teaches athletes to train their bodies to burn fat as a primary fuel source, a physiological process known as ketosis. His teaching is gaining traction around the world. The biggest change I’ve made in my training regimen for my 3rd ironman is how I refuel. This time around, I’ve altered my body to burn fat instead of carbs – based on research by Noakes and doctors Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney. Modeling the diet and training of Bevan McKinnon, I’ve increased my intake of coconut oil, fish oils, avocados and olives while reducing carb intake. This has allowed my body to become fat-adapted and access a source of fuel that is exponentially more available and sustainable than the common practice of carb-loading and sugar-burning. An aerobic metabolic assessment can measure your breath to calculate how much fat you’re burning versus how many carbohydrates in order to design an endurance performance plan that burns 50/50 fat and carbs during racing.  Ben Greenfield also touts nutritional ketosis for endurance racing since fat is a much cleaner fuel for the human body to burn and it burns longer, more efficiently and with less waste left over. Nutritional ketosis is the future of all endurance sports.

23andMe & DNAFit  – There has been a significant amount of research done that confirms the influence of genes on human physical performance and athletic ability. Through 23andMe, you can have your saliva tested to learn your genetic makeup. It gives incredible insights into your genetic ancestry as it relates to fitness, diet and sport. The DNAFit test goes one step further to tell you if your genetic makeup is better served by power workouts or endurance workouts. By understanding your genetic predispositions, you can optimize your workout and increase your performance gains exponentially. Based on my DNAFit assessment, I’m 37.5% power, 62.5% endurance—and that has very real implications on how I train.

Tanita RD-901 Body Composition Monitor – This is one of the most advanced tools to measure changes in your body composition—including important metrics like total body water, metabolic age, muscle mass and muscle quality. I love this thing and closely monitor my water intake and the affect it has on body fat and muscle mass.

Garmin Fenix3 HR Watch – This is the coolest and most versatile watch! At home, in the gym or at the office, I can monitor all my important metrics and activities—including triathlon, swimming, cycling, running, climbing, skiing, hiking, rowing, and even golf. I can keep track of all my health stats, including heart rate throughout the day, VO2, LT,  and activity including sleep patterns. It syncs up with the Garmin app which includes even more rich details to totally geek out on!

Wahoo Kickr & Peloton Indoor Bike Trainer – After factoring in traffic and road conditions, I found I could get a significantly stronger workout cycling indoors as opposed to outdoors. Wahoo Kickr was one of the most amazing tools for indoor cycling – that was until my wife got the Peloton indoor bike. This is a game-changer. Peloton not only tracks your performance with advanced metrics like cadence, resistance and output for each ride; it also allows you to compete against yourself, set new PR’s, follow other riders, and send and check social media status updates and data from other riders. It allows you to push yourself by ‘competing’ with other riders on Peloton. Having a social network of high performance athletes is a great support system. It keeps you sharp, accountable and striving for greater performance.

CryotherapyThis is serious stuff. And it has the serious benefit of instantaneously removing most or all of the aches, pains and soreness that come from overdoing it with your training program. Crossfit, interval training or powerlifting can create lactic acid build up that needs to be worked through. If your tolerance for being sore is low, cryotherapy can accelerate recovery. During Ironman training, I do this once a week. Cryotherapy has been used by top athletes to boost recovery, promote weight-loss and improve overall wellness. It has even been shown to boost collagen production to keep you looking healthy and youthful.

Hypoxico Altitude Training “Exposure to reduced oxygen levels (altitude or hypoxia) is a challenge to the human body because oxygen is the primary source of energy for our cells. Under a state of hypoxia the body strives to produce required amounts of energy with less oxygen available. To do so, a protein called Hypoxia Inducible Factor (HIF-1) sets off a host of reactions geared toward improving the body’s ability to utilize oxygen.” If you ask my friend Matt Eckert ([email protected]) for “The Dave Special” he’ll set you up with a sweet discount.

This is the greatest time to be alive. It has never been easier to understand, track and improve human performance in sport, business and life. Achieving victory, it turns out, can be accomplished in precise, measured units of progress!

The Stunning Hope and Promise of Global Entrepreneurship

The Stunning Hope and Promise of Global Entrepreneurship

I was invited to speak at the United Nations as a part of the Global Entrepreneurship Initiative and the Entrepreneurs International Fund.  

During my experience at the UN, I met Seattle Mariners catcher Dave Valle. I was moved by his powerful message of hope. He talked about the promise and power of micro-lending to pull entire communities out of poverty, empower women with economic control and uplift the common humanity that binds us all.

When Dave Valle came to the Dominican Republic to play winter ball in 1985, he was only expecting to improve his baseball. Instead, he found a lifetime commitment. Motivated by the poverty he and his wife witnessed during his visits to the region, Valle and his wife founded Esperanza, an organization that empowers mothers to become entrepreneurs with businesses that have lifted both their incomes and their spirits.

When we broaden our sights above our own political theatre to the greater global perspective, we’re able to experience a greater humanity. Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” And, as Jeff Hoffman stated in our meeting, entrepreneurship truly is the shovel you use to dig a path to a brighter future.

The work we are doing at the Global Entrepreneurship Initiative is so emotionally moving for me because the truth is that I came from humble beginnings. During my talk at the United Nations and in my new book, Masters of Success, I share my entrepreneurial journey from my family’s humble roots in Ecuador and my childhood in Brooklyn to my experience power-building businesses from the bottom up.

In Masters of Success, leading entrepreneurs share their secrets for mastering success in health, wealth and lifestyle. Royalties from copies sold will fund charities around the world, including the Esperanza.

Nothing can stop an idea whose time has come and the promise of micro-lending to lift entire communities in developing nations — is here now. In business and in life, leadership and love are the highest calling for the life that is inside of us.

How to Build the Power You Need to Achieve

How to Build the Power You Need to Achieve

All personal power comes from within. Power is a function of truth, force is a function of emotion. And the truth is that we are much greater and much more capable than we even believe ourselves to be. Reconciling the gap between our inner truth and our self image creates an enormous level of fortitude and personal strength. We must own the person we are and the greater version of ourselves that we want to become. Realizing this, we can achieve our driving purpose in business and in life.

To build this inner power, we must first recognize that we have all the right stuff to achieve the success we have the courage to desire. Train the mind. Nurture the soul. And weaponize the body.

Our bodies are machines. Like all living things, the right fuel will make it flourish. Learn to recognize which fuel your body needs and which has the cleanest burn. I’m training for my third Ironman triathlon. My diet is as disciplined as my training regiment. This time around, I’ve trained my body to burn fat instead of carbs – based on research by doctors Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney. Increasing your intake of coconut oil, fish oils, avocados and olives while reducing carb intake can allow you to become fat-adapted and access a source of fuel that is exponentially more available and sustainable than the common practice of carb-loading and sugar-burning. Fat is a much cleaner fuel for the human body to burn and it burns longer, more efficiently and with less waste left over. The full optimization and maximization of your body requires you to familiarize with the most advanced thinking on human physiology and sport.

Some look for power and validation from external success – money, titles, influence. True leaders who have achieved great success know it works the other way around. Learn to cultivate the strength you hold within yourself first, and the rest will follow.

Your Most Powerful Muscle is Your Mind

Your Most Powerful Muscle is Your Mind

In business and in life, we fight many battles. Before we face any external challenge, we must first face ourselves. The greatest battle in life is the one to proclaim your inner truth. Though we often underestimate the significance of our internal dialogue, the conversations we have with ourselves will prepare us to meet any obstacle. Your own mind can be the engine driving you to success, or it can be your biggest saboteur.

Whether your goal is to run an ironman or build a billion-dollar business, the first and most important muscle you must train and strengthen is your mind.

Here are some critical drivers for optimizing your brain power and achieving the greatest version of yourself:

  1. Build Clarity of Purpose

Influential leaders lead with purpose. Define and build clarity around what the greater purpose is behind everything you do. If purpose breeds influence, clarity breeds power. When I was four years old, my parents finally had enough money to bring my family from Ecuador to NYC. We had so little growing up. At night before bed, my Mom would teach us to kneel down beside her and pray. She taught me to believe that anything was possible and that we could rise up from our humble beginnings and become anything we set our minds to. She was programming me with clarity of purpose.

2. Commit First

Make a commitment to yourself and write it down. Once it’s written down it transmutes from an ethereal idea to a concrete plan. Then treat yourself as you would any good friend and be impeccable with your word. Once you’ve committed with words, commit with action. You can take small steps at first, but take them now. As you begin to develop competence, you’ll build confidence and the courage to continue stretching outside your comfort zone.

3. Believe and Achieve

In 1922, psychologist Émile Coué introduced a new method of self-empowerment based on ‘optimistic autosuggestion.’ Continually tell yourself, “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better,” he contended, and what you say will come true. Coué believed this positive internal discourse could greatly add to the benefits of modern medicine. He taught his patients to replace the “thought of illness” with the “thought of cure.” His research showed that being optimistic could vastly amplify the results of a patient’s treatment.

If you’re facing adversity, embrace the struggle. Don’t let your brain allow you to give up. Let your purpose be your driving force. You can use your mind to override the fail switch. Learn to cultivate positive self-talk and believe in your own triumph. Visualize it. Achieve it.

4. Consistency Builds Ability

Most people have a desire to win on game day. What about the desire to prepare everyday? Do the daily work, burn deep with the discipline of preparation so that you can show up in the strongest version of yourself, with more than just the gusto of game day and hubris of pretended preparation.

  1. Love and Respect Yourself to Success

When we’re filled with ambition and racing for success at full-speed, we often sacrifice the time and effort it takes to care for ourselves and optimize for maximum high performance. The greatest investment you can ever make is an investment in your own learning, growth, health and wellness. Then you can maximize the contribution you make to others.

Remember the words of Jim Rohn, “We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.”

How to Seize the Most Market Share in the Midst of an Executive Search

How to Seize the Most Market Share in the Midst of an Executive Search

Seizing market share is about speed to execution and quality. Achieving this requires a combination of team alignment and strong leadership. A bad executive leader can interfere with both of those things.

The skull-crushing pain, suffering and brain damage that results from hiring the wrong leader is usually followed by a whole host of problems that reach beyond the realm of just lost market share.

A failing functional leader can continue to hemorrhage cash burn while damaging organizational effectiveness. And not only is the bad hire costing you cash, it’s also interfering with your ability to grow the business. You aren’t seizing market share the way that you would like and it’s creating uncertainty. The market opportunity is slipping through your fingers.

So what can you do to seize the most market share in the midst of an important executive search?

1. Step into the Role

No matter the drama, the show must go on. And that means that someone has to step into the functional role that your executive search seeks to fill and provide leadership to the team. You as the CEO now have to act as the marketing lead or product lead – whatever needs to be done.

2. Rally the Team

Once you’ve stepped into a hands-on role, use this opportunity to bring your team together. Communicate, build clarity around core values, create and share your vision for the better outcome you are all working towards. Franklin D Roosevelt said, “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.” A missing leader may have created some tumult – and this represents an opportunity to let your leadership lead the way. A crisis is a terrible thing to waste. This is your chance to reinvigorate and strengthen team alignment.

3. Recruit Like an Expert

Learn from any mistakes you’ve made in your executive search so far and make corrections – immediately. If you’re replacing a bad hire, you’re probably also thinking you chose the wrong search partner. Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. Change the way you recruit so you can get the results you desire. Most search firms operate at Level 2 recruiting, relying on referrals and networking. For top high-growth companies who want the best, this strategy won’t nearly suffice. There’s a better way of recruiting and that’s through Level 3 Recruiting™and a Core Fit Process™. Bring in an elite, special forces recruitment team that is equipped with the expertise and proven methodologies to turn any situation into a silver lining.

We’re all looking to conquer the world with what we are doing. We need good people to help us do it, people who want to achieve success for themselves and who can help us achieve our greater purpose as a team.

Dave Carvajal Awarded ‘Team Builder’ Honor at Harvard Business School

Dave Carvajal Awarded ‘Team Builder’ Honor at Harvard Business School

Dave Carvajal, CEO and Founder of executive search firm Dave Partners, was awarded the prestigious ‘Team Builder’ award at the Business Expert Forum at Harvard Business School on Saturday, July 30, 2016.

The Business Expert Forum is held each year by the Entrepreneurship Students Club of Harvard Business School. As a master headhunter and expert in finance and executive leadership, Dave was invited to share his experiences with 120 emerging entrepreneurs and future leaders.

“Dave is purpose-driven and committed to leading by serving others. His passion for building a better workplace and a better future left a powerful impression on everyone at the forum,” said Alex Jeffreys, Founder and CEO of MarketingWithYou, Inc., which was rated one of the fastest growing privately-owned companies in North America by Inc. Magazine.

During his talk, Carvajal, who grew up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the 1970s, recalled his neighborhood’s rough past and how a clear purpose changed his own direction in life. “My mom taught me to believe that we could rise up from our humble beginnings and become anything we set our minds to. She was programming me with clarity of purpose,” said Carvajal at the event. “Today, I’m on a mission to eliminate human suffering in the professional workplace. I serve public company boards, CEOs and startup entrepreneurs who themselves are using technology to make the world better.”

Dave Carvajal is an intrepid builder of billion-dollar businesses and a thought leader in the executive recruitment space. As CEO of Dave Partners, a bespoke executive search firm serving the high-tech sector, Dave leads an elite, special forces recruitment team that extracts and secures the executive leaders that drive high-growth at venture capital and private equity-backed companies.

In 1997, Carvajal co-founded HotJobs.com and power-built the fledgling startup to 650 employees, $125 million in revenues, and a $1.2 billion market capitalization after its IPO. Dave then continued his success at TheLadders.com.

“I’ve seen Dave in action over the span of two decades building HotJobs, TheLadders and multiple high-growth companies that have financial backing from some of the top private equity and venture capital firms. He is an indefatigable force of nature,” said serial entrepreneur Alexandre Douzet, CEO and Co-Founder of TheLadders and the new startup reinventing subscription pet nutrition, Ollie. “There isn’t anyone more qualified to be named ‘Team Builder’ because there isn’t a headhunter out there more qualified than Dave to build the highest-caliber executive leadership teams. He used to be the best-kept secret in the NYC tech ecosystem.” Together, Carvajal and Douzet built TheLadders to 400 employees and $82 million in revenues.

In the midst of the credit crisis of 2009, the headhunting industry was collapsing to a fraction of its size. In this turmoil, Carvajal founded Dave Partners as both a capstone venture and labor of love. Since its launch in 2009, Dave Partners has served as a key architect of the burgeoning New York City technology ecosystem.

Via: SiliconValley.com; PRWeb

Tech’s Top Executive Recruiter Dave Carvajal Co-Authors Bestselling Book

Tech’s Top Executive Recruiter Dave Carvajal Co-Authors Bestselling Book

New York, NY (PRWEB) September 06, 2016

Tech’s Top Executive Recruiter Dave Carvajal Becomes Bestselling Author with New Book, Masters of Success

Dave Carvajal, NYC’s top tech headhunter and a pioneer in online job search services, joined executive coaching expert Brian Tracy and other leading entrepreneurs to co-author the new book, Masters of Success. Since its release on June 28 this year, the book has topped two bestsellers lists.

In Masters of Success, leading entrepreneurs and professionals reveal their secrets for mastering success in health, wealth and lifestyle. The book ranked #10 in Direct Sales and #56 in Sales & Marketing on Amazon’s bestseller lists.

In his chapter, “Welcome to the Playground of the Fearless – How to Build a Billion-Dollar Business,” Dave shares his journey from a tough neighborhood in Brooklyn to co-founding HotJobs, being an early investor and executive at Ladders, and launching his own executive search firm, Dave Partners.

Since the advent of online job search through HotJobs, Dave has built the businesses and leadership teams that have shaped the tech landscape. In 1997, Carvajal co-founded HotJobs.com and power-built the fledgling startup to 650 employees, $125M in revenues, and a $1.2B market cap after its IPO.

“He single-handedly built what was recognized as one of the best sales forces in the tech industry. Today many of the people Dave recruited for HotJobs hold leadership positions in top companies across America,” said Richard Johnson, Founder and former CEO and Chairman of the Board at HotJobs.

Carvajal’s endeavors revolutionized hiring and job search, disrupting tech, media and advertising. By taking classified help-wanted ads from newspapers into the digital world, HotJobs and Ladders created massive efficiency and helped millions of job seekers in the process.

As CEO of Dave Partners, a bespoke executive search firm serving the high-tech sector, Dave leads an elite recruitment team that extracts and secures the executive leaders that drive high-growth at venture capital and private equity-backed companies.

Dave Carvajal and his co-authors will be recognized by The National Academy of Bestselling Authors™, an organization that honors authors from prominent independent bestseller lists. Masters of Success was released by CelebrityPress™, a leading business book publisher, and can be purchased on Amazon.com.

Via: International Business Times; PRWeb

Secrets To Success: Iron Will And Determination

Secrets To Success: Iron Will And Determination

In 2010, I had dinner with Madonna – Sister Madonna Buder, the “Iron Nun.” Sister Madonna’s story of success is amazing: She started training for Ironman triathlons when she was 48. In the Kona triathlon, Sister Madonna was knocked down in the windswept fields of lava where the road asphalt reaches 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The wind literally picked her up and dropped her in the harsh, hardened lava rock. She broke her collarbone. The following year, she returned only to have race organizers tell her that they had new weight requirements due to high winds and that she did not qualify. She swam, biked and ran the course anyway. “This is the USA, it’s a free country,” she reasoned. The following year, they changed the rules and she competed again, legitimately.

When we met, it was my first Ironman Triathlon. It was Sister Madonna’s 36th. We had dinner just 2 days before the big race, Ironman Canada. The day after the race, I would turn 40.

In Ironman competitions and entrepreneurial ventures, the most inspiring words of wisdom and insight seem to come from those who have real operating experience actually doing things versus hypothesizing about them. Sister Madonna could tell I had the nervous jitters of a first timer Ironman competitor. It wasn’t about technical knowledge as much as nervous anticipation. “If an 80-years-young nun could do this race, certainly you gentlemen have to believe that you are capable! Pain is temporary,” she said. “Ironman is forever!“

success iron nun ironman triathlon leadership dave carvajal

Sister Madonna is still a force to be reckoned with. Now 86, she’s pushing herself to limits people not even half her age even dream of achieving. Meeting Sister Madonna left me with three big lessons valuable in both business and in life:

1. Dream Big

“The only failure is not to try.” 

What defines greatness is not the ability to do something with ease, but the strength and audacity to keep going when something is really, really hard. In the four decades Sister Madonna has been competing, she has broken her hip twice, her right arm six times, her left arm twice, her shoulder, her collarbone and almost all her fingers and toes. She keeps going because, “the only failure is not to try.”

2. Strategy & Self-Mastery

“We have all been given different talents. We have to dig deep to discover them. And when we find them, we are obligated to use them for the greater good.”

Sister Madonna started running when she was 48 as a way to “harmonize the mind, body and soul.” Training for an Ironman and building a business mean learning to elevate all three – mind, body and soul. It’s an incredible process of self-actualization and you’ll need a strategy, tools and resources to reach your highest goals. I continue to discover better tools for measuring, learning and improving performance. Measure everything. Organize your data and glean insights to improve.

3. Work Hard & Achieve

“Your effort in itself is a success.”

All success begins with hard work and massive action. For years, Sister Madonna joked that she would train “religiously.” When she and all the Ironman competitors step up to the start line, we’ve already completed a longer race of preparing ourselves. People don’t run triathlons because they’re easy. The physical limitations and the emotional inner dialogue are all obstacles we choose to inflict on ourselves especially on the edge of an enormous achievement.

In business and in life, leadership and love are the highest calling for the life that is inside of us.

How to Know if You’re in the Right Leadership Role

How to Know if You’re in the Right Leadership Role

You are the architect of your life. The vision and grand purpose of your life must be decided and committed on by none other than yourself if you are to maximize your life’s meaning. If you’re in the wrong leadership role, you’re probably the first to sense it. Are you still learning, growing and moving closer to the greatest version of yourself?

Here are three signs that you’ve found the leadership role that is truly best for you.

1) It Keeps You on Your Toes

Great leaders love a challenge. Innovators have an insatiable urge to build and create. Ultimately, you’ll know you’ve found the right leadership role when you feel driven to solve problems, take strategic risks and push your business to greater performance. When you engage with your work out of obligation and fear of risk or challenge, you leave at the end of the day feeling exhausted or anxious. When you’ve found a role that dares you to level-up your own leadership capabilities, you’ll begin to anticipate activity that drives production. You’ll feel pride, fulfillment and a sense of invigoration. You’ll go home thinking about the mission, not because you’re worried, but because the work has tapped your skill set and engaged you at the core of who you want to become.

2) You Trust Your Team

When you take a leadership role, you should feel that your executive team is communicating and cooperating in all the right ways to bring the company’s vision into reality. Strong trust in your team is rooted in a performance-based culture of excellence. Some companies try to build a foundation of false harmony in order to achieve operational excellence. They fill their office space with ping pong tables, snack rooms and kegerators to appear competitive with Google-style employment perks and to lure top recruits. But no one works for Google because of the free food. When your team is driven by excellence in its craft, by excellence in the rigorous disciplines required for disintermediation of an entire industry then, and only then, can you have harmony from the top down and from the bottom up in professional life. Moreover, you’ll be working in culture of excellence where colleagues can trust and rely on each other to grow, expand, provide more value to your clients and become more. This is the way to prosperity.

3) You’re Working For Something Greater Than Yourself

Everyone wants happiness from their professional role. This includes a sense of security and appropriate compensation. A big paycheck, even if it’s from a big name, might provide partial fulfillment. The most fulfilling roles are those where you genuinely feel connected to a mission that’s larger than yourself and you are being pulled to grow and expand in your capabilities. Productivity drives progress and lifts humanity. A great company always has a vision for serving humanity at its core. Look for companies whose vision matches yours, and you’ll have an enduring source of energy and passion for the work. You might find value in doing the role even if it comes with a smaller paycheck than you’re used to.