Life Lessons

The Value of Staying Curious. Building your CQ (Curiosity Quotient).

By Life, Life Lessons, Motivational One Comment

I’ve really come to appreciate the value being curious, where curiosity is defined as a state of mind where one is interested in the how, why, what, when, or where of an event or statement.

Curiosity allows us to challenge ourselves, challenge what we’re being told, see if things make sense (vs. blind acceptance), and make breakthrough’s that we would never even consider before. By giving ourselves the permission to dig a little deeper and feed our minds, it helps us discover new passions in ourselves and new delights in others.

Staying Curious in Business

In business, staying curious is more than a good habit. It’s critical to your success. A good way to practice curiosity is to do zero-based thinking.

What that means is taking a look at a problem or situation without the shackles of your current perception. Approach the challenge this way. Ask yourself,

“If I had not made the decision I did, and I knew then what I know today, would I still make the decision again?”

If the answer is no, then step away and see how you can unwind. There is no credit for climbing a ladder if it’s leaning against the wrong wall.

Curiosity in Personal Life

In your personal life, over the long term, staying curious is one of the key components to keeping your mind young, vibrant, sharp, and in shape. And if your mind is in shape, it’s much easier to improve your quality of life over the long term.

Try it out for a couple weeks. Do things purposely to build your CQ (curiosity quotient).

  • Order a different beverage at Starbucks
  • Go to the local coffee house instead of Starbucks
  • Go a new route to work
  • Work on displaying an emotion that has become dormant
  • Surprise your significant other and shake things up
  • Ask why
  • Ask why not
  • Ask a co-worker to respectfully challenge you on something
  • Become aware of your beliefs, then ask if they are still valid

The great Bob Dylan put it this way

“He who isn’t busy being born each day is busy dying”

Bob Dylan I Can't Sing

Hand-Made and Heart-Felt

By Art, Life Lessons, Love No Comments

I closed my eyes like she asked me to, and held out my hands. She came over, kissed my cheek, and placed something at my fingertips.

I felt thick, velvety paper, rolled up like a scroll.

I opened my eyes to see a hand-made valentines card, complete with a ribbon and adorned with heart-felt thoughts on what our relationship means to her.

It helped me realize a couple things:

  1. The things I value the most are rarely the things purchased.
  2. The computer can melt circuits, but the pen can melt hearts.
  3. One hand-written, heart-felt sentence can say more than a hundred pre-printed cards.
  4. I need to practice writing from the heart. Even if it’s one sentence at a time.


Valentines Day Card

Break the Rules

By Entrepreneur Insights, Life Lessons No Comments

We were down to our last few dollars and I didn’t know how we were going to make payroll.

Our business model wasn’t working the way we planned, and we were burning cash faster than expected.

Something needed to change. Something big – and something now.

The year was 2008 and TakeLessons was working to find our place. Our best thoughts had been tested – and failed. With our backs against the wall, we did a complete 180 degree shift in our model without really knowing whether it would work. What we did know, however, is that (a) what we were doing wasn’t working and (b) there was no option to give up.

So, we broke the rules. We broke out of our current methodology and tried a radically different model.

And THAT saved our company.


Struggling on finding a breakthrough?

Ever feel trapped – confined – and can’t see a way out?

Sometimes, the right answer is forget everything you know – forget how it’s supposed to be done – and break the rules.

Break the Rules

Support Zach Sobiech as He Battles Cancer Through Music

By Life Lessons, Music, Videos No Comments


Zach Sobiech is a 17yr old musician from Lakeland, MN that was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer. Through surgeries, therapies, and biopsies, and months of chemo, Zach has used music to stay strong. He wrote and performed this song as a way to say goodbye to his friends and family. — You can download a free version of the song and learn more about buying his album:



The Confidence Loop

By Business Philosophy, Leadership, Life Lessons, Motivational, My Writings No Comments

I was chatting with a young employee over a beer the other day and we started talking about confidence and its importance. Here is a summary of the conversation along with a diagram on the cyclical pattern of confidence.

What is confidence?

Confidence is a state of mind. It is a lens that we choose to view the world with. What’s cool about it is that it’s available at any time, to anyone.

The state of mind then carries over into how we carry ourselves and the actions we choose to take.

By acting as if you’re confident, you take on the role of a confident person. Your body changes, your mindset becomes different. You become that which you think. You begin to look and carry yourself in a certain way. And a funny thing happens. People treat you as such.

When others see confidence, they instinctually trust and follow it because we all know that these are the types of people that end up creating wins for the companies, their families, their communities, and their world. People instinctually know that the results will be beneficial and leave positive lasting affects on them.

For the most part, people admire those that make impact and they end up sharing their feedback with those that have taken action. That positive feedback helps fuel even higher levels of confidence, which in turn creates more action and results.

It’s one big loop – I call it The Confidence Loop. - The Confidence Loop

How to Get Confidence? Start the Loop

And how do you start the loop? Take Action.

Take action on things you fear. Things you know you should be doing, but are afraid of what people might think.

Take action on something you care about deeply – something that makes a difference.

Be comfortable with knowing that a lot of the action will not produce the outcome you want immediately. But if you keep working at it and persisting towards a clear path, you WILL get better, you will produce better results, and you will be able to affect change in the world.

People (except haters) love others who take action because they’re a true manifestation of living the dream. Just by getting the results, it means the confident people chased their dream, and they’re making it. They are making it work – and it shows us that we, too could have our dream.

It’s a hope for a better tomorrow. Hope for a higher plane of happiness.


Design Life. Drive Life.

By Life Lessons, Motivational, Uncategorized No Comments
Mykonos - Photo by

Mykonos – Photo by me

Drive life.

Say Yes more often.

Challenge your barriers.

Be comfortable outside your comfort zone.

But, don’t just drive life. Design it.

Design your outcome.

And design time in between driving, to be still – to float.

To explore.

To be, without trying.

To breathe, without thinking.

And to surrender, without wanting.

– Steven 2011.

You have all that you need to create an incredible life.

By Life, Life Lessons, Motivational, Quotes No Comments

My friend Erin Mellinger posted this on facebook the other day. It’s so insightful, I wanted to share it with you:

“There are only 3 colors, 10 digits, and 7 notes; its what we do with them that’s important.”

Wow! How powerful that is when you think about it.

Every number ever produced is a combination of 0 -9.

Every color I see is a blend of just three.

And every song I love is the same primary notes – played in a different way.

We all have the same 24 hours in a day. We’re all given our own two hands, and feet, and brilliant mind. We all have the space between stimulus and response where we are given the freedom to choose how to act.

Each of us choose to arrange the notes of life a certain way, or to view the digits dealt to us a through our own lens.

It’s what we decide to do each day – its how we decide to perceive – that adds the songs and color to our lives.