Friday, July 27, 2012

"Gifts From Others" Music Video

Here's a video that we put together about "Gifts From Others" I hooked up with good friend and local Toronto rapper, Mic Boogie to make this happen.

Check out the official video for "Gifts From Others" and Prepare to be Inspired!

See you on the court!

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mentorship & "Gifts From Others"

I recently was a guest on Daytime Peel TV and I was given the opportunity to discuss the importance of mentorship, who some of my mentors were and what it takes to be a good mentor.

Plus I also spent some time chatting about "Gifts From Others"

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Comedian/actor Rodney Perry on Motivational Book, "Gifts From Others"

Comedian, actor and former co-host of The Mo'Nique Show, Rodney Perry took the time out of his very busy schedule to shares his thoughts on "Gifts From Others".

The former United States Navy member turned funny man knows exactly what it means to serve as an inspiration to others and I'm appreciative that he took a moment to talk about the book.  If you'd like to learn more about Rodney, visit his website or follow him on Twitter.

See you on the court!

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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Don Yaeger on "Gifts From Others"

NewYork Times Best-Selling Author and longtime Associate Editor for Sports Illustrated, Don Yaeger provides his thoughts on "Gifts From Others"

“Gifts from Others”  is a powerful collection of important life lessons presented in the form of over 500 quotes, expressions and thoughts meant to aid our personal growth and development.  These gifts also provide a framework that we can use to advance and encourage others.

Don is a great guy and I'm glad that he was kind enough to write the foreword of the book.

Thanks pal!

See you on the court!

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Friday, July 13, 2012

My Mom Talks "Gifts From Others"

It was the world renowned business investor Warren Buffett who once said, "Tell me your heroes and I'll tell you how your life will end up".

It's a great quote with lots of truth to it and I think we all can admit to having heroes in our lives that we've looked up to and admired at some point.  It could have been a specific trait they possessed you valued, perhaps it was their approach to living that struck a chord with you? Or maybe they simply performed some remarkable feat that you admired.  I can say for myself that I've had people in my world who've displayed qualities I thought were worth emulating but they didn't quite make the cut as far as being a hero in my books.

That spot has always been exclusively reserved for my mother who was the real hero in my world.  When I look at the example she laid out through her daily living, it doesn't come as a surprise that I'm doing the work I do or that I've written a book like "Gifts From Others"

Winnie Marshall originally immigrated to Canada in the early 70's from Kingston, Jamaica in the West Indies  with a dream in hand of creating a better life for her four children.  After a variety of jobs, she eventually found employment at a seniors nursing home in he heart of downtown Toronto called, St Thomas House.  She worked as the head cook and was there for over 20 years until the home eventually closed down.

She took her cooking skills, good nature and distinctive laugh to the local Salvation Army church our family attended to help start up a community outreach program almost 25 years ago.  The program is still going strong today and my mother can be found at the helm preparing and serving meals to 400-500 people every Thursday on a weekly basis.

It's estimated that during her time with outreach program, she's joyfully served over 450,000 meals to hungry people from all over Toronto and her compassion for people has never wavered.

She recognizes the kind of impact we can have on one another through the process of giving to others and she looks to do so continually.  I remember her humbly telling me once after her efforts were publicly acknowledged that, "These hungry people are coming with needs and I'm doing my part in my own little way to help"

I had to correct her by letting her know that what she's doing is not little.

She's had quite a run with the outreach program and I'm constantly inspired by her dedication, perseverance and commitment to people despite times when she was tired or not feeling well.  Much of who I am and what I've done can be attributed to my mother so after giving her a copy of   "Gifts From Others" I decided to call one morning and get her thoughts on a book she helped influence to write.

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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Gifts from Others Theme Music!

Check out the official theme song for my book, "Gifts From Others"

Special shout out to my man Mic Boogie for doing a great job by putting together a very cool sounding track and providing his lyrical skills on the vocals!

Click here to listen to the song!

Be on the look out for the official video!

See you on the court!

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Saturday, July 7, 2012

7 Reasons Why Exceptional Leaders Are Like Smart Phones!

If you've ever had to look for a new cell phone in the last little while then you could probably attest to the fact that there's no shortage of choices, features and options at our disposal.  Before you even determine what you're looking for, you've got to decide if you're in the market for a conventional cell phone or go the smart phone route.

Within each of those options, there's a bevy of styles and colours for you to choose from.  At the end of day, both phones perform the same basic function of making and receiving calls, however the additional options the smart phone offers makes it much more attractive and is considered the better of the two.  (This of course depends on who you speak with and what preferences they value.)

Smart phones offers a multitude of features and uses that go beyond just talking to people.  The ability to access the internet through any available wi-fi signal and download applications (or apps) broaden your horizon and make the experience of owning a smart phone much more practical.  For example,  you can use UrbanSpoon to help you decide what restaurant to go to, Tripit Travel Organizer to look after your travel plans or download WeatherBug to stay up on the latest weather forecasts plus so much more.

Owning a smart phone is the equivalent of having a mini computer in your back pocket.

So here's where the leadership comparison comes in.

As I see it, anyone can pretty much step into the role of leader and "do the job".  They might even able to produce results and even get others to follow them too.  That to me is a pretty basic function and is the equivalent to dialing out and making a telephone call.

An exceptional leader is much more like a smart phone.  They have a positive impact on the people around them and offer lots of options to make things easier to get the job done - they go beyond just making a simple call.  Their emphasis as a leader is more on "how" part of what they do instead of the "what" part.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg!

Here are seven things exceptional leaders do to make themselves more like smart phones:

Communicate Instead of Direct
We too often forget that communication is a two sided street and listening is a big part of what makes the whole thing work. Exceptional leaders don't make a living barking directions or telling people what to do, they obtain information and understanding by listening and learning from the people around them.  Communication shouldn't be viewed as an extra task, it should be considered to be a necessary function.

Collaborate Instead of Control
Collaboration can best be described as a group of people coming together to achieve something collectively that they couldn't do individually.  Exceptional leaders recognize that the key to effective team work is giving people an opportunity to contribute their unique skills for the greater good of the team.

Proactive Instead of Reactive
The exceptional leader is always thinking three steps ahead. Working to master his/her own environment with the goal of avoiding problems before they arise. A reactive approach is dealing with fires as they happen while a proactive approach prevents them from occurring. 

Inspires Confidence Instead of Being Unsure
It was the 6th president of the United States, John Quincy Adams who once said, "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." The starting point in being able to do this is understanding that it's impossible to inspire others to do anything if you're not confident yourself. To put it bluntly, if you're not doing anything that inspires those around, then you're not doing your job as a leader. 

Open Minded Instead of Opinionated
It's not outside of the realm of possibility for one to be open minded and opinionated at the exact same time.  People who open-minded are willing to listen to and consider the another person's point of view but still can be very opinionated on certain matters.  The key is that there has to be a willingness to let go of their own bias opinions and viewpoints.  Otherwise opinionated leaders risk not progressing themselves or their people. 

Empowers Instead of Delegates  
Empowering others requires much more effort, energy and time for exceptional leaders however, the end result in the long run leads to a more effective and productive group of followers that feel trusted.  By empowering their people, exceptional leaders are displaying both faith and confidence while constant delegation sends a clear message that they may not exist. 

Inclusive Instead of Egocentric
Being an exceptional leader solely can't be about yourself and your hopes, wishes and desires.  Including others in the decision making process where at all possible helps to strengthen the relationship and build cohesion with those around you.  When its all said and done, people want to know that they're thoughts and feelings were taken into consideration and not left out of the equation whether purposely or not.


The Main Po!nt
It's not impossible to lead people by taking the old traditional approach of leadership of direct and command and still get results however, the exceptional leaders who stand out are the ones that offer more, give more and continually ask of themselves, do I want to make a difference or am I content with just making a call?

See you on the court!

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

What I Learned From Coach Wooden

Anyone who's followed me for even a short time would know that I'm a big time fan and supporter of the lifetime work of the former UCLA coach, John Wooden.  His on court achievements of coaching milestones and records will probably never be reached by anyone ever again, let alone broken.  He was heralded as "The Wizard of Westwood" and while his remarkable accomplishments still leave many in awe until this day, I'm a much bigger fan of  his work off the court and the things he did to help grow the basketball players charged in his care into responsible high character individuals.

Coach Wooden was a wonderful writer who shared his life's work through the written word and had authored several books in relation to coaching, leadership and character development.  While I can't profess to have read all of his books, his very last one written just before he passed away in 2012 was probably the most impactful to me.  The book was dedicated to the art of mentoring and entitled, "A Game Plan for Life".  It spoke to me so much that it ended up being the inspiration and central theme for my own motivational quote book, "Gifts From Others".

"A Game Plan For Life" highlighted an important point in relation to the words and actions of others. You see, Coach Wooden spoke fondly of quotations from people like Abraham Lincoln, Mother Teresa and others who's words served as an inspiration to himself.  Essentially proving that a mentor can be anyone who's words of encouragement or message of hope inspire you to be better. Quite simply, the words they've left behind are precious gifts to be cherished.

While I never had the opportunity to meet "The Wizard of Westwood" myself, I feel fortunate to have interacted with individuals like Don Yaeger, Steve Jamison, Pat Williams and Andy Hill.  All of them have had personal and dealings and connections to Coach Wooden and continue to keep his legacy alive through their own work.  On that note I thought that it was fitting that I share a collection of 16 lessons I learned from my mentor, Coach Wooden:

1) Self improving never stops and can span our entire lifetime;
2) There's much power and influence in the written word;
3) Our daily lives can serve as motivation to others;
4) You don't have to have physical contact to touch people;
5) Wholesome knowledge doesn't have an expiry date;
6) Never discount the value of putting in a good effort;
7) Take responsibilty for those charged in your care;
8) Character character character;
9) The final score is the least important part of the game;
10) Anyone in life can serve as your mentor;
11) True love never dies;
12) Good character is at the heart of a good person;
13)Your approach to life remains constant;
14) Learning never stops regardless of your age;
15) Never ignore the fine details;

16) Always take responsibility for your actions.

See you on the court!

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Monday, July 2, 2012

Building Future Leaders Starting With My Own!

As I was thinking through this blog post and laying out how I wanted it to look, the popular expression "charity begins at home" immediately came to mind.  It's one of those practical truthful phrases that just makes sense and no matter how long its been around and I thought it was an appropriate fit given the topic.

As a parent, I feel that one of my main responsibilities is to create positive memories that my children can fondly reflect back on when they become adults.  Much of our learnings and behaviour can be traced back to our childhood so starting with a firm foundation is a great first step to leading a life full of greatness.  In addition, I also feel parents should be equipping their children with the necessary skills needed to be the personal leaders they're capable of being.

It's my sincere desire, hope and wish that my own children are able to use their innate talents and abilities to positively impact other people as a way of making their personal imprint on society.  Through the process, they're not only demonstrating leadership skills but also taking one step closer to their serving their individual purpose.

I take the job of a parent very seriously and that's one of the main reasons why I wrote my motivational quote book, "Gifts From Others".  I wanted to give Vanessa, Jahleesa and AJ something tangible with substance that can provide some form of guidance as they continue to grow and develop into the personal leaders they're individually destined to be.

To that end, I thought I'd pass along 11 quick important points in no particular order that I'd like my children and other future leaders to bear in mind as they embark on the journey of life:
1. Treat People With Respect & Dignity
Your ability to progress in life has a lot to do with how you treat others and the respect you show towards them, you're setting yourself up to reach new heights when you do and say the things that demonstrate both respect and dignity to those around you.  We all want to be treated this way and made to feel that we're valuable and of importance so extend to others and you'll see the returns.

2. Don't Forget The Sandbox Lessons
We were taught the importance of playing in the sandbox as kids but for whatever reason, we grew into adults and those skills got lost along the way.  Because our lives weren't meant to be lived in isolation, the ability to work cooperatively with others is an valuable skill to have.  Our minds will never be big enough to hold all the answers so somewhere along the road we're going to have to look to others for help through an obstacle or problem.

3. Give To Get 
The law of reciprocity says that every single action has an equal and opposite reaction. Smile at another person, and they'll most likely smile back at you. Be critical of others and they'll most likely have something negative to say about you.  Much of what we get from life is based on what we give to others but let's bear in mind that this only happens if we do so from a place of genuineness and sincerity and not because we want something in return.
4. Be Positive
A positive attitude is contagious and enough can't be said about the importance of maintaining a happy outlook on life for yourself and others.  A point that's oftentimes overlooked is that people tend to like being around others who help make them feel good about themselves and positively influence the enviornment. So while everyone has bad days, do everything in your power to limit those days to moments.

5. Keep Your Word
Establishing a reputation as someone who keeps their word will get you much further ahead in life then someone who is unreliable and untrustworthy.  Through the process, you'll also develop an attitude of accountability where you'll accept 100% responsibility for your actions, keep your promises and mean the things you say instead of pointing fingers, laying blame or falsely accusing others.  The quickest way to have people lose their faith in you is to demonstrate a lack of accountability for your own actions.  Remember, we don't only look to leaders for answers, they also turn to them for inspiration and support.

6. Eyes Wide Open
No matter how much insight and knowledge we amass, there's always more to be learned about ourselves and the people around us.  Life is always offering tons of learning opportunities and it's our job to be ready for the lesson when it comes our way even during our perceived mistakes and failures.  You see, the only time we truly make a mistake or fail is when we walk away from an experience without learning the lesson.

7. The Power of a Good Deed
I'm a firm believer that the true measure of success is tied into the number of people we're able to positively impact over the course of our lifetime. As a result, I would encourage you to never take for granted or underestimate how much of a difference our actions can have on others.  As the saying goes, even a single candle can light an entire dark room.

8. Be Truthful & Honest With Yourself
The importance of being truthful and honest to yourself can't be overstated because if you're unable to be truthful and honest with yourself, how can you possibly expect to do so with others?

9. Take Others Along For The Ride
Having a general idea which direction you want to go in life is important but the journey takes on an entirely new meaning when you can take others along for the ride with you.  The psychology behind it is that by helping to create positive experiences for others in the present, you're also contributing to their future outlook where its only natural to expect the best from life.  These positive expectations can lead to a healthy state of mind that makes the ride that much more enjoyable for all.

10. Be Satisfied With Your Efforts
I've always felt that it's far more important to tie our happiness and satisfaction into our level of effort as opposed to the end result.  Unfortunately, the end result doesn't always come out in our favor and at the end of the day we have to know that we tried our absolute best and be satisfied that we did as much as possible to achieve what we were after.  The results will come eventually and our level of satisfaction will serve as the bridge to keep us motivated to push ahead.

11. Find The Things That Bring You Joy and Stick By Them
This is very similar to the expression that reminds us to do the things we love and we'll never have to feel like we're working ever again.  Take the time to figure out the things that drives you to stay up late at night, motivates you to see a task through to its completion and excites to the point that its always on your mind.  Once you figured what they are, keep them close by your side at all times.  They'll serve as a reminder of the great things life has to offer and help build up your resiliency particularly when things don't go your way.

See you on the court!

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