Can I Ring Your Bell?

NYSE Euronext celebrates 2nd Annual Veteran Associates Program
NYSE Euronext celebrates 2nd Annual Veteran Associates Program – Photo Credit to Ben Hider at Ben Hider Photography

Through an initial vision, or a Call-to-Action of NYSE Euronext CEO, Duncan Niederauer – the NYSE developed the Veteran’s Associate Program.  After Niederauer’s idea was relayed to the Human Resources department, a program was developed from the ground up and implemented for the first time in June 2012.  The program offers a paid internship to Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces who are currently seeking or have recently received a degree.  It provides key exposure, education and experience in the corporate world to Veterans.  The Veterans, effectively demonstrate their value by demonstrating the high-value, highly sought after, intangible traits they have developed during their military careers.  These are the same traits that have made Veteran Specific recruitment a multi-million dollar industry for multiple agencies across the nation.

Now that there is some perspective, I wanted to boast a little bit about an amazing experience.  I also wanted to include the first ever, YouTube videos on  Below you will find the recordings of U.S. Military Veterans ringing the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange.  You can find me in the July 5th closing, front and center as I push the button to ring the bell and my adjacent colleague strikes the gavel.

I have included all 3 closing bell ceremonies as participants of the 2013 Veteran Associate Program were part of, if not the entirety of each bell ringing.  Lastly, I have included a brief video documenting the 2012 Veteran Associate Program’s Inaugural class, and their closing bell ceremony.

Learn more about the Veteran Associate Program, and how to create a Value-driving program in your organization at the NYSE Veteran Programs and Initiatives page.

July 10th, 2013 – Celebrating the Veteran Associate Program 2013

July 5th, 2013 – Celebrating the Veteran Associate Program 2013

June 14th, 2013 – Celebrating the U.S. Army 238th Birthday with Members of the VAP 2013

As promised, Celebrating the Inaugural Veteran Associate Program, July 5th, 2012

“I Incorporated” – What’s Your Brand?

My personal Brand Part I (Part I – of a three part series)

I was introduced to a concept called “I Incorporated” during my final year of college by one of my business professors, David Bennett.  It was mentioned often in our Career Development class.  Now, I had a concept of what it was before he mentioned it, but I didn’t have a title or a real grasp of it until then.  Since, I have found myself to be a very conscious purveyor of personal branding, or what “I Inc.” is referring to.

Branding is largely what differentiates products that would be commodities based on the consumers experience with that brand.  Or is it that unique experiences received by consumers through actively differentiating products that would be otherwise be commodities is “Branding”?  Maybe it works both ways.  For the sake of this article, the most important concept of branding in the larger sense is that Companies…ahem… successful companies, actively seek to provide their consumers with unique experiences through the companies’ products as an act of branding, in order to garner product and further, brand loyalty. The difficult thing about Personal Branding is regardless of what you say, your actions will constantly provide your audience data/information that will be used to make a conclusion about YOUR brand.

Jim Joseph, a Finalist for the 2013 PR News Social Media Icon of the Year Award, has a great series of books known as, “The Experience Effect” (you can see them listed here under Recommended Reading).  I believe a 3rd part to the series will be out soon enough.  Joseph starts the series with The Experience Effect with large scale branding.  The Experience Effect for Small Businesses is, well, self-explanatory.  The third – as I anticipate will follow the trend – and is sure to give great input on “I Incorporated”.

With this I ask: What do YOU want to be remembered for?  That is part of a brand isn’t it?  When you think of a brand, you don’t think of what they DO; you recall what you REMEMBER them for!

Let’s try it:






Johnny Knoxville? …

Alright, the first things I recall: BP – Gulf Oil Spill, gas & snacks; Xyience – UFC, working out; Exxon-Valdez – Oil Spill in Alaska, Questionable drilling practices in South America; Coca-Cola – Caravan of lit-up Coca-Cola trucks, Polar bears, Christmas and great with Rum; FEMA – Have they ever figured out how to do their job? & Katrina; Johnny Knoxville – Jackass.

You might have had different experiences, so the brand associated with each figure or name may be different.  I venture to say that the more successful companies are both better at translating the same brand experience consistently AND better at making each individual experience unique – but still consistent with the branding they desire.

A Brand can have a positive or negative effect.  Clearly, when thinking of personal branding, we cannot afford a negative effect.  This is something I think about in my daily activities, my projects, my efforts, and my goals.  What am I doing that I can influence that is will build my brand?  Well, a good solid base is something I and my peers like to call, “being a good dude”.  Now, what do I want to be known for? Well – reliability, determination, drive…

I know that my brand will be incorporated in anything I do, and it drives me to do even better.  Every person I meet, every interaction I have, and most importantly every action or inaction I take and whether it coincides with what I say, is a reflection of my brand.  What will people remember of me? What do they recall when they think of  What feelings does my name provoke in others?  How am I, and how WILL I be remembered?  Needless to say, I have a lot of personal branding to do – and it is never over.

I look forward to building the Veteran Recruitment Division at Creative Solutions Services, and I know its brand, as a tool for Veterans and Corporations alike will be based largely, on the my personal brand – until it takes on a brand of its own.  I am leveraging my own brand, to gain initial support for this new product, this new brand.  My leverage will only go so far.  Even more so, if the VRD brand does not prove successful, my personal brand will take a hit.  If the VRD brand does grow to be successful, as will my personal brand grow in reliability.

Stay tuned for “My Personal Brand Part II” as we discuss “intent vs. result” and examine choices some have made to protect their brand and how the efforts turned out.   Then to conclude, “My Personal Brand Part III” as we discuss the conflict and what Veterans Need to be aware of as the dynamics of “I Inc.” change upon leaving the Military.

Join In! The Game Plan 2013: Plan for an Improved Life

The New Game Plan 2013

Feb 1 – May 1, 2013

“The Game Plan 2013” is motivated by the Sarrano Kelley book, The Game: Win Your Life in 90 Days.  I have played it once before and it was a GREAT tool to help me focus on personal goals.  It helped me focus on making my goals S.M.A.R.T. and also to keep me on track when things were VERY hectic for me at the time.

You choose 3-6 games to play to improve your life.  They are all covered in the book, and here is a list:

The Game List

–          Balance

–          My Body and Health

–          My Money

–          My Relationships

–          My Spiritual Life

–          My Mind

–          My Tools

–          My Environment

–          My Education

–          My Family

–          My Work

–          My Charities

–          My Hobbies, Interests and Art


I HIGHLY encourage as many as are willing to join in The Game Plan 2013 and grow with me!

You will need:

–          Sarrano Kelley’s Book, The Game.

–          A WordPress Account

–          Email Account

–          The Will to be Better!

For all who participate, I already have a Private, Invitation only WordPress Blog set up.  There, we will make daily blog entries where we can hold each other accountable to our goals, and to encourage, and seek encouragement to reach our goals.  The goals can be as simple as saving for the weekend vacation, or losing a couple of percent of body fat.  The blog, again, is already set up, and you will only be able to access it if you are invited.  This is why you will need a WordPress account. (It’s free, just sign up already!)

I am making the announcement now so you have time to prepare.  Prepare by ordering the book on Amazon, and begin reading it. I suggest giving it a good read at the intro, scan the games sections, and really read the conclusions.  Then, decide on your games, reread those sections, and take note of the tools and suggestions/tables, etc that are offered!  I can even start a book discussion thread on The Game Plan 2013 Blog (that is the name of the invitation only blog).  You also need to make your WordPress account and give me your email to send you the invite!

Before The Game Plan 2013 begins on 1 Feb, Everyone should have some sort of template, or blog journal/statement of Games, Goals and Objectives listed that each person wants to be held accountable for.  Email this to me in a doc/docx format and I will start a new thread with it. That will become your progress thread, where we can see what you want to be held accountable for.

This is a “Game” about positive growth, support, accountability and working for improved life!  I have high hopes and hope to have as many on board as possible!  NOBODY is TOO BUSY for this!  IS your life perfect? If it is, congratulations and please join to help guide the rest of us!  If it is not, please join us and know you are helping to build your life and obtain your goals!

Please, do not hesitate to send me any questions, comments, or concerns. I look forward to an Amazing Game Plan 2013!

6 Points to Positive People – Ready for 2013!

More on Being Positive!

The Chicken or the Egg?  Are positive people successful or are successful people positive?

2012-11-12_17-50-57_HDRToo much too fast? Ok, I’ll slow it down and just say it, all in one!  People with positive attitudes are successful people!  Or, perhaps it is more accurate to say:  People with a positive (yet realistic) attitude and outlook are more likely to achieve success than those who have a negative outlook on things.  This positive attitude and general happy demeanor comes before the success, and then only feeds the success in a great, success & positivity circle!

I really wanted to pull up some measurable and relatable statistics that correlate a defined “positive attitude” or at least a defined list of behaviors that can be described as those exhibited by one with a positive attitude – and their correlation to benefits.  Well – Being as I am a full time Real Estate agent in my first year, I am too cheap to pay for the access of the scholarly articles that will display any of that information.  So, for the most part, any of my statements in this article are some sort of loosely-tied, personally bought-into ideas between my personal experiences, observations, and the thoughts and theories I’ve read in a myriad of books on business and psychology.

Short Answer – Positive People do more; thus creating more positive; thus getting more out of life.

–          Positive people do things for others.  There is nothing better about being in a good mood than sharing the good mood with others and seeing positivity passed on.  Think about it, when you get good news and are smiling ear-to-ear, how hard is it NOT to tell someone and NOT expect to see them smile and excited for you?  We WANT to pass on the positive feelings!

–          Positive people set goals.  We’ve all heard or even said “I feel like I could take on the world right now!”  It’s a perfect example of how a positive attitude will influence someone to reach for a goal that he would otherwise not have the motivation to WORK towards!

–          Positive people have less negative self-talk.  Forgive the lack of citations, but feel free to google all the articles on Self-Talk. Negative self-talk is the top inhibitor of ambition!  Positive people reword their self-talk, taking the same could-be negative experiences and turning them into a positive opportunity. (e.g. Negative: “I’ve never done this before” => ‘I don’t wanna’ v. Positive “What an opportunity to try something new!” => ‘Let’s do this’)

–          Positive people have an internal locus of control.  Positive people take responsibility for their influence on life and their own actions.  They more often see consequences as a result of their own influences on the situation and that they had an impact in how a situation turned out. (e.g. Neg: “That was just a bad recipe, IT made the cookies too crisp” V. Pos: “I think I cooked them too long; I can check on them sooner next time, but this batch will be GREAT with ice cream”).

–          Positive people seek due credit given to those around them, not for themselves.  Positive people are confident with their self and are always looking to grow and bring others with them.  Not to mention, a good leader is more focused on those she can develop, not how to simply excel herself. A positive person is more likely to deflect a compliment for a professional accomplishment toward the team’s actions.  Not only is it a sign of confidence, but also a sign that the person will more than likely have others around when he needs them – reciprocity is a great thing!

–          Positive people are magnets for other successful people.  Positive people like to be challenged, grow, and all the while enjoy the synergetic power of other positive people where 1+1=10 (See Stephen Covey’s The 3rd Alternative).  It’s like going to the gym with a work out partner that is just as excited to see you push your limits as you are to see him do the same.  You just work harder – again reaching new levels of performance that you are consequently HAPPY about!

I hope you have enjoyed this year’s entries and ideas from  It was my first year, and a complete year of running my own blog.  Needless to say, I have lots to learn.  Reflecting, I have found myself to be more productive and more active in my blog when I am reading more often.  Perhaps that will be something I contribute to my “Game Plan” that I will be pursuing at the beginning of 2013.

I hope you have been able to take away value from what you have found here – be you a repeated visitor, or this being your first read.  Whether you agree or disagree – I consider it a success if anything you read hear at least provoked thought and hopefully some sort of action in your life – it certainly has for mine!

What do Grandma’s fridge and your Facebook account have in common?

My Wife says I’m insensitive… I say it’s not my fault my grandmother had a refrigerator!

Beach BBQ 2007
Fighting Fifth Marine Rgt – Beach BBQ 2007

To please my on-going fascination with behavioral psychology & general interest into why people behave the way they do and further to find out what motivates the behavior, I have recently grown more attentive to the conversations that hide in plain sight – Body Language.  I have found it very interesting and have read a couple of books on the topic.  The Definitive Book of Body Language by Allan and Barbara Pease, and What Every BODY is Saying by Joe Navarro.  I suppose my curiosity to human behavior, the motivators, and how to read it might be tied to my love for understanding consumer trends, and for leading others.  Being able to accurately read what people are saying without words is a vital skill to social life – and perhaps survival in general.

This skill to communicate through the understanding of the body language we display and receive is not anything new to us, as humans or even as mammals.  I’ve seen it referred to as implicit communication, emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills (a new HR/recruiting hot-term), social skills, etc.  There is much to be said on the topic, and I by no means am a professional or expert.  However, I do feel I have noticed a trend – the greater “Social” media has become a part of our lives, the greater the focus on “Emotional Intelligence” and “Interpersonal Skills” in the work-force.  I have to wonder if it is looked for with more ferocity now because we, as developing and technologically advanced people, are less frequently able to apply interpersonal skills – in person.  Do we over-interact virtually, and under-interact face-to-face?

I have no hard evidence, nor am I in a University Laboratory and able to spend the time and resources to gather the data and write a scholarly article to say one way or another.  I can say, that since Sears-Roebuck made home deliveries possible thanks to the railroad, and shortly after refrigerators became a household product in the 1920s and 1930s, our social interaction became limited by design. We no longer had to make daily trips for perishables from a market where we interacted, face-to-face.  Nor did we need help to haul large items because they could be delivered from catalog.  Recently, since Facebook, and Myspace were launched in 2004, and the ever growing online forums and communities, not only do we not have to go out for necessities that limits our chances to interact, we don’t even have to go out to “interact”!

Could this be why we now need so much instruction to understand “Emotional Intelligence”, or why we have to be educated on “Interpersonal Skills”?

Part 2 – Courage

Part 2 – Courage

It has been a while since my last article.  For that I admit my faults in being delayed.  I will do my best to excuse myself, being that I have been very much consumed in the transition of going from military professional, to business professional.  I’ve stepped into a completely new world, and have so much to learn.

That being said, I’d like to start off with today’s article with an introduction.  I call it “Part 2 – Courage” even though if you scour the archives, I have never written a “Part 1”.  Or maybe I have…

“Honor, Courage & Commitment” is uttered as a motto for the Marine Corps, the Navy, and various versions have been used through-out the world.  My article, Do What You’re ‘posed To Do, was really about commitment.  This article, less ambiguously, will be about “courage”.  At some point, I will finish the 3 part series with “Honor”.

I’ve heard many meanings and definitions of “courage”: Moral Courage, physical courage, mental and emotional courage.  I’ve heard it described as, “Doing the right thing when nobody is looking”; “doing the right thing just because it is the right thing”; “persevering in the face of adversity and fear”; “facing your fears” and “not just not being afraid, but admitting you ARE afraid, and facing the challenge regardless”.

I can say, I feel like I’ve come across a time in my life where I have faced a test of my own courage.  I couldn’t tell you what definition it falls under, but I will admit it has, is and will continue to be tested.  Each day presents itself with new challenges.  However, the challenges are only new to me… the same hurdles to many others around me… aren’t really hurdles at all.  I guess you could say recently I have been facing the challenges of being a rookie – in a sport I’ve never played.  It is extremely shocking because I have gone from a place where I was nearly masterful at my trade, and often looked to for advise, mentorship, guidance and wisdom in my trade.  Now, I feel so very lacking in all of the fore-mentioned departments.

Going from one end to the other so drastically has created one of the biggest challenges I think I might have faced yet.  Being able to understand and retain my self-worth, while not inversely over-inflating my ego and feeling like I am “too good” for anything is difficult.  It is tough.  I can’t say what else it would be, other than courage that I face the new challenges.  There seems to be a struggle between self-belief and accepting/understanding of reality.  To what extent do I chase the dream and high-expectations that I have set? Am I on the right path to find them?  Or was it all just a lie?

It is here.  In this place —  I find a major test of courage.  Being able to hold on to a dream, not just dream but hold the conviction, swallow the pride, and continue to persevere to obtain the “dream” and make it reality.  Did I step onto the right path?  I don’t know – but if I didn’t, perhaps I will build one.

Reflecting on: Markeing: No Longer a Support Occupation

This week’s article is less of an article and more about a reflection.  As a part of my career development and transition into the “civilian” world after 9-years of Active Duty military service, I have been doing my best to review and evaluate the actions I have taken that provided the most assistance and value as a part of the transition process.

As some of you already know, I am passionate about marketing, about the constant problem solving it requires.  There is always something to be solved, inferred, and identified.  Always brainstorming, and always learning.  I love it. I feel more and more passionate about Marketing, Public Relations, and the psychology behind it all.  Marketing isn’t just knowing who to sell to…  it’s about knowing people, or persons, and specifically individual persons.  My continuous study in marketing and human behavior has led to a recent fascination in profiling.  Profiling itself is a subject for its own discussion, but the idea behind it is still so exciting.

Marketing isn’t just knowing how to make someone think they want what you have to offer… it’s actually offering what people really want while providing increasingly demanded value, and superior quality.

Below is an “Occupational Analysis” I wrote as I was graduating from CSU San Marcos with a B.S. in Business Administration.  I keep it, in printed copy with a binder I refer to as my, “Portfolio” which I completed, and others can do so as well, by following the Trek Tasks in Troy Nielson’s helpful and easy to follow career development book, “Career Trek: The Journey Begins“.  It sheds light into both objective analysis and personal, psychological benefits I find in the marketing profession, as well a some of my own personal insights on what Marketing means to me.

Military Leadership…wait, no… Followership.

Military LeadershipFollowership

Training Leaders

In the 9 years I have spent in the Marine Corps, if there was anything I’ve learned that the military, and Marine Corps specifically, produces aside from a healthy installment of arrogance…err – confidence, are leaders.  We boast about making boys and girls into men and women and men and women into leaders of Marines.  The Basic School’s “Basic Officer’s Course” that all Marine Officers attend to start their military careers as leaders is touted as “The World’s Best Leadership Course”.  Recently I’ve come to question if we have really been teaching “leadership”…or is it something else?

I recently read an article that was published over 6 years ago by the incredibly insightful, and near genius author, Malcolm Gladwell.  I came across the article while reading his book, “What the Dog Saw” (Know that once I am finished, it is headed straight for the Recommended Reading List).  The story of “Million-Dollar Murray” told of one Murray Barr, a former Marine that was a homeless alcoholic to say the least and to make an incredible understatement.  This article inspired the article of mine that you are now reading.  The article is available for full reading, at no charge HERE.  There were a couple of specific mentions in the article that made me feel like, while there were additional influencing circumstances… Murray’s outstanding qualities were credited to the Marine Corps.  But the Marine Corps’ influence on him may have also been his demise.

Murray’s story is tragic, and while I can’t come close to doing Mr. Gladwell’s article justice by making a summary, I would like to call attention to one of the closing paragraph’s that struck home with me, and I will never forget:

“You know, when he was monitored by the system, he did fabulously.  He would be on house arrest and he would get a job and he would save money and he would go to work every day, and he wouldn’t drink.  He would do all the things he was supposed to do.  There are some people who can be very successful members of society if someone monitors them.  Murray needed someone to be in charge of him.”

What really struck me, is when I read this out-loud to my wife, herself a veteran Marine-reservist of six years, her immediate reply as if she were finishing the missing sentence from Gladwell’s article was, “…He was a Marine.”  It troubled me that her immediate response was so terribly correct… and I’ve spent the last week going over it in my head.

I’d like to borrow some insight from someone much smarter than me, Mr. John C. Maxwell.  He seems to know a little bit about Leadership (Yes, that is sarcasm).  I often compare the abilities of a “leader” to his “5 Levels of Leadership” model (for which he has composed one of my recommended reading books about).  You can see the five-levels in graphical form there for visual reference as I mention them.

I don’t believe we, as in the Marine Corps, build leaders that are truly “Pinnacle” Leaders… Leaders that can develop other leaders that then can also replicate the development of more, leader-producing-leaders.  I believe we train to Positional and Performance leadership, and fewer military leaders than we’d like to admit actually see the levels of Reproduction and even fewer to the level of a Pinnacle-Leader.  We just rarely develop leader-producing-leaders.  However, we do exceptionally well at developing leaders who can replicate accountability.  Military leadership is much better at establishing strict followers of, well, followership than developers of leadership.

The missing link is that being a “leader” is easy when in middle management, which every “leader” in the military is at, to some varying degree.  You have subordinates that you have to lead towards a common goal, consistently trying to achieve and set higher standards.  But in the military, as in many large businesses and structures, a leader with subordinates is also subordinate to somebody.  And that “leader” is kept on track, constantly reminded of their responsibilities and to whom they are accounted to.  Under this structure, it makes it a bit easier to give the illusion that an organization is producing leaders.  But I believe it is more accurate to say the organization is producing followers, exceptional followers, that can perform when given someone or something to be held accountable to or for.

The problem with Murray Barr, as is the case with many Marines, and veterans of other services, is that they are not only taught, but rigidly enforced and have engrained the willingness to perform to exceptional standards when they have someone to hold them ACCOUNTABLE to those standards.  But what happens to those that were never taught how to hold THEMSELVES accountable to their own standards?  What happens when a team, squad, or platoon leader isn’t there to remind them that certain behavior is expected of them?  One may argue that any job will provide a manager or boss that will tell you what you are accountable for.  This is correct and any good boss or manager should be clearly communicating to their employees what is expected of them.  The difference is, in the military, you aren’t just told what you will be held accountable for from 9-5, but every aspect of your life is the responsibility of your senior leaders.  They hold you accountable for everything from the smell of your breath to the cleanliness of your rifle.

Junior Military members that never make it into a seasoned, experienced, and truly Leadership-bearing, leadership role never learn leadership beyond BEING accountable to someone and actually understand the how, why, and need for HOLDING oneself and others accountable.  Junior leaders and junior members of the military never really learn to wholly understand the need for accountability and development for the sake of being able to make the right decision… or if I may quote myself, in order to, “Do what you’re supposed to do”.  This argument could be extrapolated into the problem with over regulating laws that take away the populations learning ability to decide what is right or wrong morally and ethically, versus “knowing” something is right or wrong because it is legal or illegal.  That is a debate for another place, and another blog.


Mavens, Connectors and The Salesmen….  All credit due to Malcolm Gladwell and his amazing book, The Tipping Point.

I’m out to eat at restaurant A, and notice a server/bartender from restaurant B (also located nearby).  Not in uniform, she knew nearly half of the customers at restaurant A.  They didn’t just recognize her, she knew them and their stories.  And they knew hers… It was then, I saw it… She was, or rather is, a connector!

I began to notice this, and got excited that I was able to recognize it. But then I quickly thought to observe her interactions with the customers.  I wanted to further see if she was popular as just a moderately attractive “waitress” or if my snap assessment of her connector-hood, was correct.

I think her being attractive is not really a factor… When she talked with all who she knew, she listened, acknowledged, and recognized all her “fans” individually.  I was thinking… “sure, everyone talks to a bartender.. But, she wasn’t even in the place she worked.  She was at a competitor’s location!  And I don’t recall such a social, and known beyond, “I recognize you from B” waitress, server, or bartender.

So, is the natural ability to communicate with people what is so instinctive to those we call connectors? Is that the hiding-in-plain-sight secret of connectors?

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Keeping Productive, Not Busy

As I prepare for my transition from active duty, after 9 years, into the civilian and corporate world I have been doing my best to keep busy.  At times I find myself frustrated; frustrated in a way that I don’t feel like I am creating value… and I think I know why.

Being “busy” is not necessarily the opposite of being lazy…or even inactive.  Let’s be honest, who really likes to be “busy”?  Nobody likes to do “busy work”. To be completely honest, I absolutely abhor “busy work”.  I hate to do it, and I refuse to assign it.  In the opposite, I LOVE being productive!  The two are clearly different.  Recognizing that will increase the value we find in the task we set for ourselves.  Not because the task or activity magically becomes more valuable, but because our awareness allows us to consciously task ourselves with productive activities, not busy work.

Busy all too often becomes, doing things that consume our resources (mental, physical and spiritual) and takes away from doing what we need to get done — takes away from creating value.

Productive is actively seeking to and getting the most accomplished while bringing us the most value from the amount of resources we use to accomplish the tasks.

With that, don’t expect to find me “keeping busy” — I’ll be keeping productive!

How do you keep productive?

Posted from my Droid RAZR