Accidental Inspiration



I just got the nicest note from a colleague regarding my post about Loyalty. He said: “You always tend to inspire me to take more action and to improve my self-discipline.” What a great way to start my day, knowing I was an inspiration for someone else.

I’ve heard this a few times during the last 18 months of making positive changes in my life.

When I spent a year losing 40 pounds, a few people told me I inspired them.

Then I spent eight weeks turning myself into a morning person who gets up at 4:30 a.m. and a few more people said I inspired them.

Then I decided to quit drinking alcohol 24 days ago and, you guessed it, more inspired people.

Inspiration for Others

Here’s the thing. I haven’t done any of these things to inspire anyone else. I’ve done all of them for me, and the inspiration is just a byproduct.

Don’t get me wrong. I love being an inspiration to others. Making positive changes is rewarding, and knowing you might inspire others to do the same adds even more motivation to succeed.

Most of the time, when I start working on a big change, I tell others about it so they can help hold me accountable.

Sometimes people just notice, like my colleague Stuart.

Work every day on being the best version of yourself. You might inspire someone else to follow your example.

Photo by Thought Catalog



After writing posts this week about loyalty and legacy, it seems appropriate to write one about learning.

This tweet from Eunique Jones Gibson inspired the post:

No matter what.

That’s powerful stuff.

Always Be Learning

If there’s one thing I’ve always been good at, it is learning. Rather than bingeing on Netflix, I expand my mind by reading a book or a dozen blog posts. Rather than feeling content and grinding away at the same job I’ve done for years, I absorb new knowledge, build new skills, and think about my next job.

I’ll never know enough about or be good enough at my current job. I’ll never be ready enough for my next job. So learning is my job. It’s my mission to learn something new every day.

This mission isn’t limited to my work life, either. I get up at 4:30 am every day and spend two hours learning about myself and how I can improve my health and happiness. At 6:45 am, when I used to start battling the snooze button, I’m reflecting on what I’ve already accomplished to start my day: three handwritten morning pages, my morning journal of gratitude, intentions and affirmations, another published blog post, ten minutes of meditation, and 20-30 minutes on the treadmill.

What’s your mission?

Commit to learning something more or something new every day. The next thing you know, you’ll be writing that book you always wanted to write. Starting that blog you always wanted to start. Getting that job you always dreamed about.

Never. Stop. Learning.

Photo by Green Chameleon

Leaving a Legacy


“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”
—Shannon L. Alder

Since learning of the sudden passing of my brother-in-law earlier this week, I’ve been thinking about what it means to leave a legacy.

Joe was an elementary school principal, and according to this article on, those who worked alongside him said: “He wanted to leave a legacy of learning and working with others.”

He did that and so much more. Based on the countless stories people have shared about him on Facebook, it is clear he left a legacy not only at work and in his community but also with his family and friends. I was lucky to know him and I’ll never forget his sense of humor, generosity and humility.

The important thing about leaving a legacy is the impact it has on those you leave behind. I’ve learned from Joe’s example, and a piece of him will live on in me as I try to incorporate his best qualities into my both my daily life and my legacy.

Rest in peace, Joe. Thank you for sharing your best self with us. The world is a better place because you were in it.

Please take a couple of minutes to watch this touching news story about Joe and the impact of his loss.

I shot the photo of Joe and his kids a few years ago, incorporating two photos into one through the magic of Photoshop.


loyaltyLet’s talk about loyalty.

I celebrated my 26th anniversary at American Family Insurance this month. Go ahead. Make your old guy jokes. I’ll wait…

Ok, with that out of the way, here’s a quick overview of what 26 years of loyalty to one employer has looked like for me.

  • 3 states (MN, IA, WI)
  • 4 cities (Eden Prairie, Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Madison)
  • 6 offices + 3 years of working from home
  • 5 divisions
  • 9 job titles plus 8+ months working and coaching in our lean startup innovation accelerator
  • 18 different managers

I tried to remember how many desks I’ve occupied, but we move around so often that any number I come up with would only be an estimate. I’ve definitely had more desks than titles, though, and probably more desks than managers.

The reaction I get when I tell people outside the company I’ve been there 26 years is priceless. But inside the company, I live firmly between two groups of people–those who’ve been there less than 5 years and those who’ve been there more than 40. My tenure just isn’t a big deal. As a matter of fact, it’s almost impossible to attend a meeting where there isn’t at least one person in the room who’s been there longer than I have. Longevity is the norm, at least for the time being.

What is loyalty?

People tend to call long-term employees loyal, but loyalty is not the same thing as years of service or willingness to move to a different city or office. Those things don’t mean much if you’re not increasing, or at least maintaining, your level of motivation and passion for your work every year. I’m 50 years old with 26 years of service behind me, and I’m more engaged than ever. Every day I show up driven to do whatever it takes to serve customers, business partners and colleagues, and to learn as much as possible to be an even better employee tomorrow. That’s loyalty.

It’s a two-way street, though. The company has also shown its loyalty to me, especially this past year when they encouraged me to pursue my passion for innovation by allowing me to step away from my marketing job for a year to work on an innovation team and develop my coaching skills in our Ignite lean startup accelerator.

I’ll always be grateful to my leadership team for approving my request, and to my social media marketing colleagues for taking on extra work every day for a year so I could pursue my dream. How do I pay them back? It starts by continuing to bring my best self to the office every day.

That’s what this blog is about; building and maintaining my best self every day, both at work and at home. I’ve been disrupting myself for the past 18 months, and that disruption will continue. Stick around, and I’ll share stories about how I’m accelerating my life and taking control of my future.

It’s never too late, and I’m here to prove it.

Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

Shots Fired at the Ballpark Change Your Perspective

roses thorns

NOTE: This is the last post from my original blog before it was hacked, causing me to throw my hands in the air for almost four years!


Last night, I experienced something that changed me and my perspective on what’s really important in life.

It was the bottom of the 5th inning. The score was 5-5. My fifteen-year-old daughter was on the field, focused on helping her varsity softball team win an important conference game. What happened next changed not only the course of the game but also the perspective of everyone present.

Two vehicles sped into the parking lot, less than two hundred yards from the field. The occupants of one vehicle fired five shots at the other vehicle, one of the vehicles crashed into a parked pickup truck, and both vehicles fled the scene. 

The players froze. The fans froze. Within seconds, everyone processed what just happened and both fans and players took cover in the confusion that followed. One moment our girls were playing a game they love, and in the next moment, the fans and coaches were scanning the park, looking for the shooter and for anyone who may have been hit by a stray bullet.

The tension and fear were palpable as several parents called 911 to report the crime. We identified witnesses and accounted for everyone, confirming there were no injuries. It’s fortunate the only damage was to the parked pickup truck. My daughter and her teammates were visibly shaken, but everyone was safe.

As the police arrived and started their investigation, the coaches conferred and decided to end the game in a 5-5 tie. In the big scheme of things, the outcome of the game doesn’t matter. It’s just a game and we all gained some perspective on what really matters. Our children were safe. Their parents, fans and coaches were safe.

I also saw how potential tragedy brings out the best in people. It was senior night for the opposing team, and one of their seniors approached our bench, visibly upset and apologetic that we all drove an hour for a game that ended prematurely because of the actions of a few dangerous people with no respect for life. Even more moving was the support shown by the fathers of the opposing players, who organized themselves to safely escort our players and coaches to the team bus for a long, emotional ride home.

I drove home alone in silence, with nothing but my thoughts. During that drive, I gained a new perspective on what’s really important in life. Suddenly, everything stressful in my life didn’t matter. I realized my problems are insignificant in a world where lives can change in an instant. I could have lost my daughter. I didn’t. She could have lost me, a teammate or a coach. She didn’t.

This morning, my daughter and her team will meet with the athletic director and school counselors before school. Softball, which was once a safe bubble of fun and competition, became something more last night. Sometimes the world is a complicated and messed up place, and they need reassurance that this event, although scary, is not the norm. They’ll all need time to process and heal, and hopefully it won’t take long to restore that bubble of fun, competition and safety.

Do me a favor and hug someone you love today. Life can change in an instant, and I hope you’ll take a moment to consider your perspective on life and what’s really important to you.