Eat Like a Business Athlete

ImageIn my workshop “The Seven Lessons That Any Business Can Learn From the Vancouver Canucks” I address the little things that they do to help their team perform at the highest level.  One of the many advantages that they give their players is personal chefs to prepare the right food at the right time to nourish the players bodies before and after games and practices, and even during rehabilitation.

But you don’t need to look after your body like that right?  No, you have never slumped in your chair at the end of the day exhausted from a day of tough sales calls, negotiations, management, planning, learning.  That doesn’t happen to you ever.  Right?

Image  Of course there is and if you ever wonder why you feel worse than a penalty killing, shot blocking hockey player it probably has a lot to do with your diet.  I clued into this after engaging the services of a nutritionist, Kristen Bell RRD, last year. Together we have worked on my diet to create easy to make, easy to eat, tasty meal plans that I can look forward to but that also serve my business athlete needs for a (more) consistent energy level throughout a long day.  Since then I have lost 12lbs and have a far better level of productivity due to avoiding that dreaded afternoon energy crisis.

What follows is the summary of our work together and as we move into fall and winter I will be asking her to provide some more recipes for us all to enjoy. Thanks Kris.

Energy Management for Business Athletes!

Do you ever wonder why you get sleepy around mid-afternoon and feel less motivated to get your work done? Studies show that having a higher carb breakfast is related to how tired and hungry you will feel throughout the day.  As a business owner myself, every hour counts to be as productive as possible, and I can’t afford to have these crashes. I have made permanent changes in my diet to keep my blood sugar levels steady throughout the day (spikes in blood sugar causes low energy and cravings), maximize my energy by eating every 3 hours, and combining any carbs I have with a protein or fat source. This not only keeps me full for a longer period of time, but also keeps me alert and productive.  Use these tips below to maximize your energy throughout the day, and prevent those energy crashes.

DON’T leave the house without breakfast –

A complete breakfast should consist of all three: Carbs, fat and protein.  Instead of grabbing a bagel and running out the door.  Cut the bagel in half, spread some all natural peanut butter on it, and grab a hardboiled egg for some protein.  Breakfast should be consumed within 30 minutes of waking up.

Avoid the vending machine after lunch. Your crashes and waistline will only get worse if you give in to your chocolate cravings reaching for the snickers bar at the nearest vending machine. Be proactive, bring your own snack.  Try a handful of trail mix with some beef jerky, a ready to drink protein shake, or maybe some of your left over lunch.

If you fail to plan, you will plan to fail. We have all heard this saying before, but couldn’t be truer when it comes to your diet!  Avoid eating out of emotion or convenience. Instead plan to bring healthy food so you will not give in to the pressures of unhealthy food around you, but have healthy choices that are comparable so you still feel satisfied.  Such choices are things like vegie sticks, some nuts (not too many, don’t be greedy or use the salted type which tempt you to a) stuff yourself and b) go to the bar!)

Try this recipe for a healthy, high protein lunch you can take with you to work!

Thai Lettuce Wraps


·         1 head fresh iceberg lettuce OR prepackaged lettuce for wraps

·         3 cloves garlic, minced

·         1 thumb-size piece ginger, grated

·         1 red chili, minced, OR 1/4 to 1/3 tsp. chili flakes

·         2 shallots, sliced finely

·        1 pound ground turkey – extra lean

·         1 carrot, grated or cut into thin strips

·         5-6 mushrooms, thinly sliced

·         1 egg

·         1/2 cup shredded cabbage (any type will work)

·         3 spring onions, sliced

·         2 Tbsp. lime juice

·         2 Tbsp. soy sauce

·         1 Tbsp. Thai sauce

·         TOPPINGS: optional

·         1/3 cup fresh basil OR mint, chopped if leaves are large

·         1/3 cup fresh dry roasted peanuts, roughly chopped

·         Fresh bean sprouts


1.       Drizzle oil into a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, ginger, chili, and shallots. Stir-fry one minute, or until fragrant. Stir-frying tip: add a little water if the wok/pan gets too dry instead of more oil.

2.       Add turkey, carrot, mushrooms, cabbage, and spring onions. As you stir-fry, add the lime juice, soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce (or vegetarian substitutes). Stir-fry about 1 minute.

3.       Push ingredients to the side of the wok or pan, and crack in the egg. Stir-fry quickly to break the yolk. Mix in with the other ingredients.

4.       Add the bean sprouts and stir-fry briefly to mix (avoid over-looking or it will go limp). Remove from heat and do a taste test for salt, adding more fish sauce if not salty enough.

5.       Cut off the stem part of the iceberg lettuce so it’s easier to separate the leaves. Now place the lettuce, stir-fried filling, and the toppings on your table in separate bowls/plates, allowing family or guests to make their own wraps.

6.       To assemble, take a whole lettuce leaf and place 1-2 heaping tablespoons of filling in the center. Top with a sprinkling of fresh basil and peanuts plus fresh bean sprouts if desired. Then wrap up and eat! (For those who like it extra spicy, fresh-cut chili can be added as another topping.)


So in summary, treat your body as well as an athlete would.  Let’s face it you expect your career will be longer that theirs and you have to set yourself up to succeed – starting with your diet.


Achieve more consistent performance – For FREE! Today!

What would happen to your business?

This was the marked increase in the performance of an amateur golfer using visualization over his normal pre-shot routine. How does this apply in your business?

Last Friday I took a highly valued client to the golf driving range to help him learn a valuable business lesson.  One about the power of visualization.

I got him to hit single shots with a 3-wood, 4-iron, 7-iron and wedge in rotation until he had hit 10 shots, scoring himself on each shot on a scale from 1-10 based on how satisfied he was with the result (10 being a very good shot).  The point about single shots was to ensure that muscle memory played as small a part in the results as possible.

After ten shots we paused and all I asked him to do for the next 10 shots was to visualize the flight path of the ball to its intended destination.  Nothing else.  I didn’t change his stance, swing or anything mechanical.  My sole instruction was to use his imagination to create a clear image in his head of the ball’s flight.  I asked him to think of it like those images that you sometimes see on the TV coverage where the ball flight is tracked on the camera.  We gave him as long as he needed to get that image clear in his head and it typically took him 20-30 seconds.

We then repeated the exercise of hitting the different shots in rotation.  The graph we created shows the rolling 5 shot average score for the two exercises.  The red ones being his usual pre-shot routine and the green ones being the shots he made after making a concerted effort to visualize the outcome.  Although they both ended up at the same average point for the final shots (which included the last shot being interrupted by the range staff) you can see the huge improvement in the earlier shots.  Regardless that both sets ended up pretty much in the same place I would take that improvement, wouldn’t you?

So don’t underestimate the power of visualization.  In a business context it is useful in determining the outcome of a meeting, a presentation or any other business event.  In this case the goal was short-ter but it works equally well if not better on longer term goals.  Try it for yourself.

This was a simple, immediate feedback exercise that I’ll be using again and again with clients.

Goal Setting – Step 9 – Who do you know?

Sir Isaac Newton claimed to have been “standing on the shoulders of giants.” when he made some of his scientific breakthoughs. You should too.

From Step 8 we have a long list of identified gaps in our knowledge.  We could stop here and learn everything that we need to know before we start.  The drawback with that plan is that by the time that we emerge from the books our money will likely have run out, we’ll be much older and life will have moved on.  Someone else will probably have stolen our idea and we’ll have to start again.  Don’t get me wrong, I love knowledge and I am constantly acting to increase my own stores of it but why should I gather all that knowledge personally when others already have it to spare?  It’s NOT being lazy.  It IS being smart.

Part 1 – Make a list of all the people who have the knowledge that you need. Think hard and think differently.  For instance, you don’t just want to know who the person is at City Hall who grants planning permission for this kind of building, you want to know how that person thinks and what motivates them. So who knows that?  Go deeper, go to a level that your competition won’t go.  In many cases you can easily identify a person who could be your mentor.  Do not worry at this point about whether you know them personally or not.  Getting a mentor is not as tough as you may imagine.  It is the topic of a longer blog but most people are flattered if approached directly.  Even if they are famous people and therefore relatively inaccessible then think about the books that they have written or interviews they have given. You can get a degree of mentorship by proxy.  At the end of Part 1 you know who knows what you want to know.

Part 2 – Now you can decide what you are going to do to ENSURE that those people want to share that knowledge with you?    For instance what would be in it for them to enter into that relationship?  How are you going to turn up as the mentee?  Assuming that it is a one on one relationship you have to be punctual, respectful, responsive, accommodating, give credit where it is due …. the list goes on.  You won’t get very far if you ask someone to be a mentor and then don’t listen well or act on the advice you are given.   So work out right now what is in it for the person of whom you are asking to receive help from. Then provide whatever that is in spades.  If you elect for a different kind of relationship, how are you going to pay for that knowledge, financially or in other ways?  Some kind of apprenticeship might be suitable.

This exercise can be inspiring as it makes you realize that not only do you not have to go it alone, you can identify others who have blazed the trial before you.  Even if your trail is expressly untrodden, someone will know more than you do about breaking new ground. Go find them and work out how to gather their lessons without you having to learn them all the hard way.

Stand “on the shoulders of giants.” – It worked back in Newton’s day and it works now!

Goal Setting – Part 6 – Timeline – Gift yourself an extra year’s income

I can keep this step pretty short because we already touched on it in SMART Goals.  It is as simple as giving yourself a deadline.   Something happens when you set a deadline. I seems to focus the mind.

Don’t just set an arbitrary deadline though. Do the same exercise though as you did on the size of the goal.  Cut the time back, add some time.  Find where feels comfortable and bring the deadline a shade closer.  There will be a date that you’ll tell yourself that you could NEVER achieve your goal by. That is fine.   Push the date out slightly and check that you haven’t pushed it so far that there is no urgency to start now.  Somewhere in there is your sweetspot.

Last week I was coaching a client on this and we brought his increased income goals forward from December 2013 to October 2012.  That is 14 months.  His goal was significantly higher than a 10% increase but even at 10% we just created an additional year’s income for him.  In 10 minutes.  Does coaching work?  Is it worth it?  I think so.

That’s all for today folks.  Give your goal a date get ready to start to work towards it  but only when we’re done with the 12 steps.  Until then keep revisiting and refining the first six steps.

Goal Setting – Part 5 – Where am I?

Compass By Vinicius de Carvalho Venâncio





This is a stage that I often personally struggle to complete properly because it involves facing up to reality.  The stage is called “Where are you now?”  Simply put you have to be honest with yourself in terms of how close you are to your goal you are today.

There is a joke about a man who was lost and he pulled over to ask a local directions to a far-away town.  The unhelpful reply was “If you want to get there you don’t want to start from here.”  There is a route from anywhere to anywhere else but pretending that you are starting from way ahead of where you are will only delay real progress and pretending that you are further from the goal than you actually are will erect unnecessary barriers.

What assets do you have in place?  What competencies do you already have?  What (tested) connections already exist?  Spend a good deal of time really identifying your exact position right now and you will move through the remaining steps much more smoothly and with greater confidence.

If we return once again to reasons why people quit on goals, a large reason is that they only skim over this stage.  They assume that they are much closer to their goals than they were.  Then, just a few quick steps in to the journey  they realize that they have a much longer and harder journey than they had planned for.  At this point most people turn right around and quit, labelling themslevs as quitters in the process and they stop setting any kinds of conscious goals.  So my advice is to not declare a goal to yourself or anyone else until you have completed this process.  Doing otherwise means that you will not be set up to succeed.  That’s not to say that you can’t achieve the goals but why make it harder than necessary?

Tomorrow we get serious.

Goal Setting – Part 4 – Why?

Assuming that you have followed me through parts 1-3, you now have a specific written goal that you really want to achieve and believe is achievable.   Even if you have no idea how you will achieve it at this point that doesn’t matter.  Stop there.  Now we work on ourselves before we work on the goal.

We ask ourselves why do we want it?  Spend some creative time writing out all the reasons that you will benefit from achieving the goal.  For instance my income goal is now partly tied to me buying myself a top notch driver to aid my golf game.  I went to be fitted yesterday and am adding up to 70 yards from my unfitted driver and that’s a huge incentive for me to earn more so that I can purchase that club as a reward.

The reason that we write out all the ways that we will benefit from the goal is that a proper goal is hard to achieve and we need enough to draw us forward to help us over come all the obstacles that we will face along the way (identifying these is a future step in this process).  So who can you help when you achieve your goal?  How will you feel?  What else would achieving this goal be a platform for building towards?  Think about it from all angles and make note of even slight positives, they may become more significant over time.  Your list should be as long as you can make it.

This is not a one time exercise, you shall return to this stage a number of times during the life of the goal to refresh and add to the list and remind yourself why you started out in pursuit of this goal in the first place.  If it is a big goal there will be times when you will want to quit and having this list will help to stop you giving in to temptation.

Simply put there has to be a huge WHY you want the goal and that can be lots of little ones or one monster.  I advocate focussing you list down to a limited number of larger whys rather than going for one extreme or the other (lots of tiny whys or just one mega-whopper).  Don’t start on a goal that doesn’t have lots of exciting reasons to achieve it.  That is a sure-fire recipe for “shiny object syndrome” where you chase more interesting, exciting opportunities to the detriment of your main goal.  Even if you have one huge why at the start there will be times when that why seems pointless and it needs the support of other whys that ebb and flow in their significance too so that at any given time one or other of them is keeping you focussed.

The next step is to set a baseline and we’ll cover that tomorrow.

Goal Setting – Part 3 – Specificity

Someone about to take Step 3. Let’s hope they did step 1 & 2 first.

Now that you have a pre-qualified goal that you REALLY, REALLY want and that you believe that you can achieve we can move to step 3.  You just write it down.  On paper and in your own handwriting.  Simple eh?

Well yes and no.  It is simple to write something down but you have to smarten up the goal.  It has to be:

S-Specific – Be precise.  Do you mean “I will earn $195,495 dollars”?   Or do you really mean that “My account will show that figure”?  Or do you actually mean that “I will deposit that much into my account” between now and the deadline (more of which in a future post)?  All three require drastically different actions to achieve them. The first allows taxes to erode the final amount, the second does not but also does stipulate where that money comes from.

I am such a believer in the power of specificity that one of my goals is “To achieve total financial freedom, defined as …….., through my own efforts or those whom I have employed.”  This doesn’t allow me to rely on the lottery (which I don’t play so that would be hard) or, more significantly, inheritance.  If my mother died tomorrow I would be well on my way to my current version of financial independence but I don’t want that to happen so I have to give the super-conscious explicit instructions about what I do and don’t want to happen.

For instance last year I wrote out a goal “By 31 December 2011 I have played on the final table of a poker tournament in Las Vegas.”  I had no plans to go to Vegas but, no joke, three weeks later we get a call on a Saturday from two friends saying that they were getting married in Vegas the following weekend.  We were there like a shot.  I hadn’t really had time to put aside a large buy-in to a big tournament so I played the Sunday evening tournament in my hotel.  There were 36 players.  I made it to the final table and busted out in 8th place.  The thing was only 4 places paid.  What I should have written was “by 31 December 2011 I have played AND CASHED on the final table of a poker tournament in Las Vegas.”  It’s all about details people, details.

M- Measureable.  There must be a point in time (ideally your deadline or before) when you can shout Yes and declare that you have achieved your goal.  “I just wanna be happy” is not a goal that you can achieve.  “I want to be rich”, likewise.  How will you measure it?

A- Achievable by YOU.  “My daughter will be an Olympic Gymnast in 2024.”  Nope, not up to you.  Some people get their knckers in a twist over achievability and it is this thing about setting stretch goals.  Don’t let limiting beliefs tell you want you can and can’t achieve.  As long as YOU believe that YOU can achieve it it qualifies.  Just yesterday there was an article about a man who walked up Mount Kilimanjaro ON HIS HANDS.  He has no legs.  Now personally I would have thought that would have been impossible but the fact remains that my thoughts are no match for his belief.

A2 – Aligned to your values.  Some people really hate the limiting beliefs that crop up when we talk about ‘achievability’ and I understand why which is why goals setting in a coaching engagement is so powerful – we can coach our clients through those limiting situations.  That said I have seen the issue of achievability totally avoided and it was taught that A stands for “Aligned with your values”.  The point being here that you won’t really follow through on something that you don’t believe is right to want, do or achieve.  I totally believe this to be true so I advocate that you do both A’s.

R-Relevant to your larger goals.  Again it is easy to see why we set so many goals that we fail to achieve.  “By the end of summer 2013 I have climbed Mount Everest” would require me to drop what I am doing and go climb mountains for 18 months to have even a tiny a shot at achieving my goal.  The problem is that I have a business that I enjoy, a family that I love, a financial base that I am nurturing and all of that would have to be sacrificed.  I’m not prepared to give up on the bigger goals that I have around my life to achieve this one momentus one.  So just make sure that each goal takes you towards a bigger goal and adds momentum to the direction of your life.

R2- Reasonable.  I have heard it said that R stands for Reasonable and I can’t stand that word.  Don’t be reasonable, be unreasonable.  Be demanding.

T-Timebound.  We will cover this in more detail in a future post but as Brian Tracy said “A goal without a deadline is a wish”.

So you now have written down a SMART goal but you are not done yet.  Re-write it out in the present tense.  Take out words like  “will” and “by” and heaven forbid and “should” or “could”.  For example, “By 31 December 2013 I will have earned $100,000 from public speaking.” should be rewritten to “On or before 31 December 2013 I have in my hand a cheque (or equivalent) that takes my total earnings from public speaking to over $100,000.”  Tomorrow never comes so write your goals like you have them today.

So as you can see there’s a lot more to writing out your goals than just writing them out.

And even if you never review it, and I advocate weekly if not daily reviews, this exercise is scarily powerful.

Tomorrow we talk about the Why? of your goal.

Goal Setting – Part 2 – Belief


Once you strongly desire the attainment of a goal you have to check that you really believe that you can achieve it.  And this is a fine line to tread.  You can’t know that you can achieve a goal and still call it a goal.  If you know with certainty that you could achieve it then all that is between you and the achievement is a set of predefined tasks.  For instance I can’t really set a goal to go and buy a pint of milk.  I either do or I don’t. It’s a task or a set of tasks.

But on the other side of that fine line is that you have to believe that you can achieve it even if you don’t yet know how.  I worked with a client earlier this week on exactly this point and we found that his belief was that he could achieve a target that was 30% above where he started.  Lower than that and he was sure he could achieve it and above that his belief started to wane.  So we found his level of discomfort and set the bar there.  Within one year that effort to find the stretch target that he was just uncomfortable with will be worth to him exactly one hundred times what he invested in that coaching session.

So for all that people will tell you to reach for the stars I would say that is bad advice particularly if you are talking about an immediate goal.  As a long-term one then I could be persuaded that star-gazing works but starting where you are you just have to stretch and then stretch again.  Going back to my point of yesterday about how people lose their willingness to set goals by failing to achieve so many, well I think that it is as much because people declare goals that they never really believed that they could achieve.  So they stop that silly game but throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Of course some don’t.  “I WILL be a superstar singer.” they say.  But they know and we all know that they lack the raw talent, attitude, drive or acumen to achieve it and just saying it out loud doesn’t make it real.  Not to us and not to them either.  And over time they will “learn” to be meek and drift along and not to be ambitious.  That would be the wrong lesson to learn from that experience.

So, in summary, when it comes to goal setting do a gut check.  If you know you can achieve a goal then it is not a proper goal.  As we used to say in the UK, “J.F.D.I.” (please don’t make me expand on that one).  If you think that you can achieve it but you have no idea how you will do so then you are in the right ball park so play around until you find the point that you say “nope, not now, I really can’t see myself achieving anything more than X.”  X marks the sweet spot.  Congratulations.  Hold that thought Step 2 is complete. Step 3 is tomorrow.

A 12 Step, Guaranteed Goal Setting Process – Step 1 – Desire

Further to yesterday’s post about planning your life and even your vacation I want to take a few days to step you through a 12 step system that will guarantee that you reach your goals.

Many people stop setting goals for themselves because, along the way somewhere, they lost confidence in their innate ability to reach them.  And yet they constantly make blind strides towards the things that are important to them without even knowing it.  This process just shines a light on how you are already achieving the degree of success that you are achieving and by exposing the techniques I hope that you’ll employ them more consciously to achieve greater, more deliberate success.

Step 1.  Desire.  In my opinion the greatest reason why people give up setting goals is due to the fact that they fail so many times to achieve what they set out to achieve but never stop to ask why.  The biggest culprit in my personal and observed experience is desire.  We want a result but we don’t deeply desire it.  Hence the effort to get it is too great and we quit and label ourselves “quitters”.

That is so wrong.  I don’t think that the world really needs another person writing another book but if I was to be persuaded to write one the title would be “Quitting is for Winners”.  Winners only go after a limited number of things at a time and they quit everything else.  So should you.  Quit striving for the goals that you just want and go after the ones that you NEED.  Deep down, MUST HAVE’s.

Take a page now and list out all the things that you are working towards in your life today.  Are any of them “nice-to-have”s?  If they are, I suggest that your likelihood of achieving them until all of your musts are achieved (unless they are very easy to get in which case they aren’t really goals they are tasks) are slimmer than you light like to admit.  More importantly they are stealing resources from your NEEDS.  Time, money, energy, focus all getting spread thinly won’t get you what you NEED and very often they won’t even get you what you want.

So strike the unnecessary goals from your list and devote all of your resources to achieving the goals that you truly desire.

How can you tell which is which?   I ask my clients to use a scale of 0-10 with0 being low and 10 being high.  I them get them to ask themselves if I didn’t achieve this goal what impact would it have on my life.  And be tough.  What tangible, spiritual, long-term, short-term impact is going to happen if you don’t achieve this goal.   Kick it around and don’t just take the first thought that comes to you.  Is this a MUST HAVE?

Sense check your work.  How many Must Haves do you have?  Ten is probably enough, more than that and my experience suggests that only the most prolific achievers with teams of people to support them will achieve that.  Why not start with just 2 or 3 until you build your goal-setting muscles?  For now though keep a list of 10 because we still have another filter to apply tomorrow.

So in summary, thin your list of things to do by focusing more of your resources on fewer, more important goals and you’ll immediately start to get better results.

Oldies are Goldies!

I was in a client session today and was blown away by how powerful a tool was that we used.  It wasn’t even the first time that we’d gone over it but it just seemed to strike a chord with the group and lights went on all over the place.

The tool was not a new one, in fact it is one that I first heard about over ten years ago and I’m sure it wasn’t new then.  It was simply that you have to set S.M.A.R.T goals.  But here was the kicker, not just for you, for your team too.

ImageSo much of the client’s frustration, stress and anxiety was wrapped up in not knowing whether people would come back to them in a timely fashion or with what degree of completeness or quality.  So having the S.M.A.R.T. acronym as a tool is going to be key for their management styles and goal construction from now on.

The real lesson here is not that S.M.A.R.T. is extremely an useful acronym but more that you can hear something once and not really get it or it doesn’t seem particularly relevant at the time but leave it 5 weeks or so and all of a sudden it is manna from heaven.  So my suggestion today is that you go and revisit your favourite books or audio programs and see what else you glean this time around.  There is gold in there that you will have previously overlooked.