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Bill’s February Reflections

The first quarter of 2016 is two-thirds over! And despite the relative lack of sunshine during February in northern Michigan, it was a super-productive 29 days for me. I’d like to share some of my highlights with you:

Favorite Book: The $6,000 Egg by Deb and Todd Duncan.
After listening to a provocative podcast interview with Todd, I immediately ordered this book, which is an inspiring how-to guide for delivering over-the-top customer service. Beginning with a powerful story involving a simple request for a fried egg that turned into a customer service nightmare, the Duncans provide “10 New Golden Rules” for serving customers, complete with great stories and insights. And it’s only 100 pages–you can read the entire book in less than an hour! This book is only available on their website–check out the ordering options here.

The $6,000 Egg by Deb and Todd Duncan

Best Community Event: The 5th Annual Celebrity DreamRoom Classic on Feb 13th, 2016
This annual benefit for Child & Family Services of Northwestern Michigan has become one of the social highlights of the winter season in Traverse City. Local celebrities are paired with Golden Fowler designers to create a series of themed rooms complete with food, craft beer, and even live music from area artists (who donate their time and talent). Debbie and I are pictured below with local radio DJ Christal Frost and designer Michelle Mitchell. A huge thanks to Golden Fowler owner Michael Mann for putting on another great event… and raising tens of thousands for Child & Family Services!

The 5th Annual Celebrity DreamRoom Classic

Best Experience: The 2016 Crossfit Open on Feb 26th, 2016
As the fastest growing fitness phenomenon in the world, crossfit combines constantly varied functional movement at high intensity with a community of passionate, supportive people. The crossfit Open is a five-week international competition attracting nearly 300,000 athletes across the globe and hosted at thousands of local crossfit gyms, including Cold Front Crossfit here in Traverse City. Each Thursday evening, a new workout is announced on Crossfit’s website. Competitors then have three days to complete the workout at any local affiliate (most gyms host a “Friday Night Lights” event to create a high energy atmosphere) and submit their scores online. The top finishers advance to regional events and from there, the very best compete for the “fittest on earth” title at the Crossfit Games in July. If you’re looking to get in the best physical condition of your life in the company of an amazing community of Crossfit lovers, I urge you to give it a try! (And if you’re worried about whether you can do it or not, check out my recent post on cultivating a growth mindset!

Crossfit Open 2016 launch at Cold Front Crossfit

Favorite Quote:

“Multi-tasking is a non-existing word; it should really be called ‘switch tasking’ because all you’re doing is switching back and forth between two or more things. And every time you do that, you incur mental switching costs that waste time, induce stress, and increase the likelihood of making mistakes.” — Dave Crenshaw, The Myth of Multitasking*

*Still think you can successfully multitask? Take Dave’s free online exercise and put your skills to the test!

What were the highlights of your February? I’d love to hear your feedback!

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Bill’s Friday Five: January Reflections

Wow, I can’t believe the first month of 2016 is history!

As we launch into February, I have been reflecting on some of my highlights from the first month of the new year–I’d like to share five of my favorites with you.

by Jordan McQueen |

Favorite Podcast Episode: EntreLeadership interview with Good to Great author Jim Collins (January 18th)
One of the most compelling speakers I’ve ever heard, Collins delivers a summary of each of his best selling books with his trademark clarity and passion. My favorite excerpt:

“No truly great company ever had as its purpose principally to make money. Money is like blood, food, oxygen and water: Absolutely essential for life, but it’s not the point of life. The point of life is to do something useful and significant…that will leave an enduring legacy. It’s exactly the same for great and enduring companies.”

Favorite Books:
The Happiness Advantage: Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor: If you kept up with my blog last month, you’ll recall two posts (here and here) based on the fascinating content from this best selling research project. Isolating seven practical, actionable principles that have been tried and tested everywhere from classrooms to boardrooms, stretching from Argentina to Zimbabwe, Shawn shows us how we can capitalize on positive psychology to optimize our joy, improve our performance and maximize our potential.
How to Say Anything to Anyone: A Guide to Building Business Relationships that Really Work by Shari Harley: I discovered this book while preparing a training session for our leaders on conducting performance reviews. Written in clear, no-nonsense style, Shari delivers practical solutions to create a “culture of candor” in your workplace. She also has a series of YouTube videos based on the book. Check out the video for her 8-Step Feedback Formula below–she demonstrates how to tell someone they smell. It really works!

Favorite Quote: If you read my post from last September on goals verses habits, this famous quote by personal development icon Earl Nightingale will resonate with you. I first heard this on a well-worn cassette tape of his legendary “Motivational Moments” series more than 25 years ago. Despite its age, Earl’s timeless wisdom is just as applicable to our lives today:

“An hour a day is all it takes; one hour of study in your field every day will put you at the top in three years, five years of learning and improvement will make you a nationally recognized expert, and seven years makes you one of the very best in the world.”

It’s the power of the slight edge: Simple, repeatable disciplines compounded daily–not for a few days or weeks or even months, but over years.

Favorite Experience: Kensington Church Leadership Gathering (January 22nd-23rd)
One of the fastest growing non-denominational churches in the midwest, Kensington assembled over 1,500 leaders from their five campuses for a vision-casting event that inspired and challenged me in a powerful way. The theme of the weekend was Living Strategically… in a way that ignites people’s hearts for Jesus and builds His kingdom. One of the memories I took was a poignant quote from Mark Twain: “The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you found out why.” Now that’s Tweetable!

Favorite Community Event: Big Brothers Big Sisters Spelling Bee at Right Brain Brewery (January 29th)
This was our first year fielding a team for the annual BIG Brain Spelling Bee! The “Bill Marsh Spelling Beasts” made it to the ninth round, and we went down on the word, “aerogramme” (which is a self contained fold-over lightweight air mail letter.) I’m proud of our team in their first time around–plus the event helped raise thousands for the BIGS, we enjoyed some fantastic craft beer from our super hosts at Right Brain, and committed to start studying for next year’s event!



What have been the highlights of your 2016 so far? I’d love to hear your feedback!

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Bill’s Friday Five

Here it is — Friday already — and hopefully your week was full of positive experiences! As a little sneak peek into my life, this Friday Five highlights some recent personal experiences that I recommend and hope you’ll enjoy (and check out), too.

Favorite Podcast
As a student of branding, this week I listened to a fascinating interview on the EntreLeadership podcast with Donald Miller, NY Times best selling author of Blue Like Jazz and seven other books. Donald’s latest work revolves around building your brand through story. It is one of the most information-rich and helpful sessions I’ve heard in years! Here are some highlights:

  • The human brain understands and remembers story.
  • Every story has seven steps, or “rules.”
  • Filtering your company’s message (or your personal message) through this seven-step framework can revolutionize your brand’s impact.
  • Why do most companies completely misunderstand the most powerful tool to creating a brand that resonates?
  • The real reason why presidential candidates like Mitt Romney, Al Gore, and John McCain lost.

Favorite Food
Edson Farms has upped their game!
Like most of Traverse City, I’ve always thought of Edson Farms Natural Foods as a great place for supplements, earth-friendly foods and body care products. But thanks to a recent expansion in their deli, Edson’s is serving up some of the best sandwiches, salads, smoothies and other super-tasty stuff in northern Michigan. Here are some of my favorites from their expansive menu:

  • Cobb Salad (the best I’ve had in Traverse City!)
  • Cherry Chicken Salad Wrap
  • Hail to Kale Smoothie (you’ll never know you’re drinking something so nutritious — it tastes that good!)
  • Sweet Potato Slaw
  • Zucchini Pancakes

Conveniently located in the Garfield shopping plaza (with the Agave restaurant), their phone-in orders are ready in minutes and the staff is uber-friendly. Check them out!

Edson's of Traverse City

Favorite Quote of the Week
“You’ll never change anything in your life… until you change something you do daily.” – John Maxwell

Favorite Book of the Week
Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin
The theme of this insightful book revolves around answering the question: “How do we change?” Here are some of my take-aways:

  • Our habits make up about 40% of our daily lives.
  • The ability to form habits is different for different people.
  • When it comes to dropping bad habits, abstinence is better than moderation.
  • Self knowledge is absolutely essential. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to forming good habits.

Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

Coolest Experience of the Week
As a member of the Northwestern Michigan College Foundation Board, I had the opportunity to tour the new Nursing Simulation Center at the Health & Science Center on NMC’s main campus. Designed to replicate a hospital ward, the center features high tech mannequins on which nursing students can practice everything from taking vital signs, to performing NG Tube insertion, tracheotomy procedures and more. The mannequins can be programmed with medical issues like allergic reactions and seizures, allowing students to learn under real-life conditions. Pictured here is their new $70,000 birth simulator mannequin complete with an 8-pound baby. According to Nursing Director Vicky Fagerstrom, having state-of-the-art technology like this gives nursing students the training experience that before, was only available at major universities, but is now right here in northern Michigan and at a fraction of the tuition cost!

NMC Sim Mom

NMC Sim Mom

As you prepare to wrap up this week and head into the weekend, what were your favorite things about this week? I’d love to hear from you.

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Bill’s Friday Five

Last Friday, I received an email from my friend Mary Rogers, who recently started a podcast called Experience50, highlighting Mary’s Friday Five — a fun and insightful list of items and thoughts from her week. To recap this week on a positive note, and inspired by Mary, I decided to create my own ‘five favorites’ list this Friday!

Favorite Blog Post
I read an insightful post this week from Bill Zipp, one of my favorite bloggers. He uses the analogy of sneezing to illustrate how leaders connect with their people in order to bring out their best. The provocative title — “How to Sneeze: 10 Keys to Positive Emotional Contagion”— spells out these simple but effective daily leadership behaviors:
1. Make Eye Contact
2. Smile, Smile, Smile
3. Say, “Please”
4. Say, “Thank you.”
5. Remember and use people’s first name.
6. Ask curious questions
7. Listen intently without being distracted.
8. Compliment freely and praise publicly.
9. Shake hands and give high-five’s. Hug when appropriate.
10.Laugh. A lot.

In Bill’s words, every day we have a choice about what kind of environment we create, transferring negative or positive emotions by our behavior.

Favorite Event
The Northwestern Michigan College Annual Fund kickoff happened this week and students showed me the new unmanned underwater vehicle technology (most of it went right over my head!) including the 70,000 gallon water tank. The advanced technology at NMC is amazing. What a resource for this community! I most enjoyed interacting with the NMC students in aviation, marine technology, and the Great Lakes Water Studies Institute. Their passion and entrepreneurialism was awesome!

Bill and NMC students at NMC Annual Fund kickoff

Favorite Book
Eat, Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes by Tom Rath
My big takeaway: While most self-help books focus on time management to improve your productivity, Tom’s well documented research shows that how we manage our energy is the real difference maker. It’s the little choices we make each day about what to eat, how much time we spend standing verses sitting, and how much sleep we get that determine our real productivity and health. One tip: the extra minutes of sleep you get by hitting the snooze button aren’t really restful at all. By training yourself to get up as soon as the alarm sounds, you could go to bed 15 minutes earlier and get more real sleep.

Eat Move Sleep by Tom Rath

Favorite Podcast Episode
I listened to a fascinating health and wellness podcast called “Fat Burning Man” featuring an interview with running coach Danny Dreyer who presented a super-helpful tip on breathing that will not only benefit runners, but also anyone looking to add energy and mindfulness to their lifestyle. Designed to duplicate high altitude training, Danny’s simple instructions include:
· Breath in and out through your nose—NOT your mouth.
· As you slowly exhale, walk as many steps as you can before taking another breath without gasping for air.
· Repeat this 8 – 10 times a day.

Recent research has shown that gently starving your lungs for oxygen like this triggers your body to produce more red blood cells to transport oxygen, increasing the capillary beds in your lungs. This is exactly the benefit that high altitude training provides.

Fat Burning Man feat. Danny Dreyer

Favorite Night Out
Debbie and I enjoyed a BIGS night out this week!  The Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Michigan Adopt-A-Match Sponsor Dinner was held at The Boathouse on Thursday night. Attendees were treated to a fabulous dinner and all-around beautiful evening for a great cause. Thank you to all the mentors who have impacted the lives of the 365 “Littles” across northern Michigan.

Bill & Debbie at The Boathouse for BIGS

As you prepare to wrap up this week and head into the weekend, what were your favorite things about this week? I’d love to hear from you.

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