Hallelujah! There’s a glimmer of hope in my list of “Top Ten Success Habits!” – SCN Encourager

Sure, a degree of effort is still required. But that’s okay.

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 9.03.45 PMGood news is good news!

That’s the nice thing about yesterday’s list of success habits.

Every habit on the list is totally –
and grounded in common sense.

No wonder I typically flub-the-dub at each one.

But our most successful leaders don’t.

Along with carrying out daily disciplined rituals, they also share these three attributes.

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 9.26.31 PM#1  They are dogged in the pursuit of their clearly defined goals without getting locked into any “one way” to achieve them. They benchmark results and are willing to pivot, redirect, postpone, or scrap plans entirely if they have to.

#2  They value honesty and relationships. They are good evaluators of their own personal strengths and weaknesses, the dreams and aspirations of their customers, and the skills and interpersonal dynamics of their team.

#3  Most importantly, they are incredible managers of the same finite resource we all share – TIME.

So, how does any of this help me “level up” my own game?

How do I not feel overwhelmed by the list of 10 success habits?

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 9.57.54 PMWell, there’s magic in the power of 3.

That’s where many top leadership coaches say to begin.

Just choose three.

Just choose three habits and stay the course with them for 30 days.

They say you’ll be surprised by the results.

And remember, you have to stick with the same three habits.

You can’t do three one day… and then three different ones the next day.

That’ll do nothing for you.

I should know.

That’s what I’ve trying for 17 years!







The 10 Point Checklist of what most successful leaders do everyday – SCN Encourager

And you know what the key word here is, don’tcha?


That’s always the one that trips me up.

I can do most anything “for a day.”

But “everyday” is another story.

(Unless being a pest at home counts.)


habitsThat’s the last thing any of us want to be reminded of – that everyday habits are the key differentiators which separate the marvelous from the mediocre.

But it’s true.

So, after a fair amount of reading and podcast listening while shaving every morning, here’s my 10 Point Checklist of what I’ve discovered most successful leaders do.

As I noted yesterday, not only do high achievers typically get a head start on the rest of the pack, they’ve also got these ten habits nailed as well.

EVERYDAY… The Most Successful Leaders in our Midst:

1.  Write specific goals down. And they usually review them the night before the start of a new day. (Uh, oh!)

2.  Get a good night’s rest and get up early. And no, they aren’t immediately jumping online. Rather, they’ve dedicated 15-20 minutes for quiet time. (And reading the Encourager, I’m pretty sure.)

3.  Exercise at least 30 minutes per day. They make health and wellness priorities. (Yikes!)

4.  Eat right. (Oops.)

5.  Watch less than 60 minutes of TV per day. (With sports exempt, I hope!)

6.  Create time blocks in their calendars to ensure things get done. (Winging it apparently only worked back in the 70s.)

7.  Have a trusted mentor or coach. They’re always learning. (My budget affords me NPR and Shark Tank.)

8.  Infuse their relationships with a sincere spirit of gratefulness. They send notes and cards. (I’m grateful to you. But saying this probably doesn’t count since I didn’t buy a stamp.)

9.  Believe in network-building. They intentionally try to add to their networks every week. They live the maxim “most people have careers, but the most successful have networks.” (Where’s a third option?)

10. Embrace stress, technology, and change. They typically commit to one significant new learning per week. (It took me months to come up with this list of 10, so what’s that tell you? One per week might be a stretch.)

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 9.44.09 PMGiven how horribly I do on this 10 point checklist, it might as well be named “Millionaire Ninja Tricks.”

I still wouldn’t be any closer.

But I uncovered a piece of good news in all of this for folks like me.

Stay tuned tomorrow.

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It’s the beginning of October and I want to wish you a “Happy New Year!” – SCN Encourager

And you thought October was just about loading up on Halloween candy…

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 5.13.53 PMI wish it was.

But it isn’t.

Did you know that October is when top-flight organizational leaders and our most admired “movers and shakers” decide the new vistas they’d like to conquer in 2016?

They don’t wait until New Year’s Day to make their resolutions.

They’re doing it now.

I thought I was doing pretty well to get a handle on my resolutions for 2015 the week before the SuperBowl back in February.

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 7.59.37 PMI thought wrong.

The best leaders and organizational influencers make up their minds in October, a good three months before the big ball drops in Times Square on New Year’s Eve.

This allows them to stride toward their key objectives while I’m marking time “winterizing” my house and still trying to locate my favorite gloves stored somewhere in the basement.

Along with fine tuning their personal road maps for the New Year at least 90 days before folks like me, high achievers do other things differently in life and on the job, too.

There are a bunch of studies out there that reveal their secrets.

I’ve been reading up.

So, don’t be shocked when you see my 10 point Success Habits checklist tomorrow.

And don’t pooh-pooh my checklist yet, either.

It’ll be grounded in research, rather than personal experience.

(Like I had a choice!)



Money. Money. Money. The Benjamin Franklin Effect and our schools. – SCN Encourager

Can you imagine Ben Franklin as your school superintendent?

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 8.03.13 PMWhat a hoot!

For one thing, he’d never have to beg the Legislature for more money.

He’d just reach into his pocket and voila!

Instant Benjamins!

Franklin also would’ve liked my recent Encourager about the importance of “asking.”

I realize this is quite a claim for me to make – but since he can’t refute it in person – I’m sticking with it.

As you know, Franklin was renown for his witty aphorisms (early to bed… a penny saved… just do it…etc.). 

Most of them are beyond debate.

But one of his observations seemed so counter-intuitive, it was put to the test in a recent psychological study.

And the researchers were hardly alone in doubting Franklin’s contention that when YOU do a favor for someone, YOU’LL like him or her more over the long run.


I would’ve thought you’d be more prone to like people who do favors for you, not the other way around.

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 9.26.37 PMThe participants in the study were attracted by the opportunity to win money.

I wished I hadn’t missed the recruitment announcement; I would’ve made my wedding-bound daughters sign up.

The study featured an actor “proctoring” a fairly lengthy exam to large group of people.

After the study, the participants were paid.

Now, here’s where the fun begins.

1/3 of the people were asked donate their money to the proctor.
1/3  were asked to just return the money to the exam organization.
And 1/3 were not asked to return the money at all.

The people were then asked to fill out a survey.

They were asked if they liked the proctor.

Of the three groups, the one that donated money to him liked him the most.

I didn’t know this before, but our common tendency to “justify our actions” is called the Ben Franklin effect.

This means that whenever we do a favor for somebody, it’s important for us to believe we really like that person, even if our feelings are actually more luke-warm in reality.

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 9.18.27 PMThis conclusion is significant for our schools.

It means if we want our parents, students. or community to think more highly of us – we need to invite them to help us out more often with specific do-able tasks.

This still seems kinda weird to me.

But I’m open minded.

I’m going to make a list of favors I’d really like for YOU to do for me and express mail it to your home.

Please keep an eye out for it.

Boy, it’s comforting to know you’ll like me better once Monday morning rolls around.

Have a nice weekend… good buddy!

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Hanging out with Bill Gates, LeBron James, Brad Pitt, Oprah, and Hugh Jackman – SCN Encourager

“You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”

Jim RohnYeah, right.

When the late Jim Rohn said this years ago, it all sounded so simple.

But it’s been dang impossible to get any of these people to spend any time with me.

Now, I ask you, how can I ever hope to bump up “my average” if none of these folks will even return my calls.

And I can’t show up in person and just start begging them to spend time with me since their personal “gatekeepers” are no doubt merciless, muscular, and masters of kung fu.

Obviously, the five selective superstars I’ve been trying to connect with probably keep close tabs on their averages as well – and are quite content with their numbers right where way they are, without risking the embarrassing downhill slide including me would bring.

success & leadershipWith the lane to the top so long and narrow (and in my case, lonely), I wondered if Jim Rohn offered some better advice for people of my social standing.

He did.

In one of his recorded workshops he said that every person who wants to tackle a big idea or goal must address four questions.

Why not?
Why not you?
Why not now?

Rohn emphasized that these questions were also crucial  points for pondering for every lifelong learner desiring to step up, whatever the challenge may be.

This makes perfect sense to me.

(I’m desperate.)

Maybe Rohn’s FOUR points for pondering could provide the magic necessary to attract the FIVE A-listers I needed to boost my average.

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 7.27.00 PMMaybe I could just simply ask them to hang out with me over a weekend… or join me for Thanksgiving dinner and the Lions… or something else that would not require a long-term commitment.

Imagine how that would inflate my average!

But nope.

The five superstars beat me to the punch on those four points for pondering, too.

Even reaching a clear consensus!

No way Tom.





This “new sexy” may work for you. For me? Not so much. – SCN Encourager

Some of my best subject lines get me in trouble at home.

That’s why I usually play it straight.

Not the real Cindy

Not the real Cindy

Not because Cindy’s a prude.

Rather it’s because she’s too honest.

When she saw words “new sexy” she pounced.

“Hmmm…” she unfortunately wondered aloud. “And your ‘old sexy’ was exactly when?!?”

But I didn’t take the bait.

There really is a “new sexy” out there despite what she thinks.

It’s grammarly.com.

And unlike any of the other new sexies that have popped up on the scene, this one is free.

The New Sexy at 7.22.46 AM

From grammar checking to vocabulary assistance, this app is amazing.

It claims it can help anyone become a better writer.

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 7.50.18 PMWell, they haven’t met me yet… so we’ll just have to see how long they can keep yapping about that!

Now, here’s a neat twist.

I think the grammarly Twitter feed is even more amazing than the app!

It’s a fantastic model of doing Twitter right.

You know, strategically connecting with the three best things a social media channel should do:
and engage.

There’s definitely something here for our schools mirror.

But you’ll see it will require a fair measure of creativity and planning.

I might try to carry this out myself someday, though.

But first I’ve got to get through grammarly’s suggestions for becoming a better writer.

Dang, that is one long checklist!

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What you know. Who you know. And one more three word “big deal” for you – SCN Encourager

Mastering “how you ask” is an essential school PR skill.

 questionsTake note.

Crafting just the “right ask” is an art.

And there’s scientific research to back this up.

Princeton University published the study.

I probably would’ve missed it entirely – but given the way the Detroit Lions have been playing – I was on the lookout for something exciting.

The Princeton Study was a worthwhile viewing option.

The study zeroed in on what is called the Consistency Principle.

While some of us would describe this as kind of a “fake it ’til you make it” tactic, Princeton defined the principle as our inclination to want to stay consistent with what we think, say, and do – even if we have change things up on occasion.

The research might sound familiar to you.

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 10.13.26 PMPeople were called on the phone and asked if they would be willing to volunteer to help the American Cancer Society.

Only 4% said they would.

A different group of people were called by researchers.

These people all received an initial call that posed “if you were ever asked, would you would be willing volunteer for the American Cancer Society?”

Then three days later, when they received second phone call to specifically ask them if they’d be willing to volunteer for the American Cancer Society, more than 30% agreed to do so

Apparently, a fair number of people wanted to live up to the commitment they had voiced earlier, even though it was totally hypothetical.

The takeaway concerning the consistency principle is this.

There may be an actual benefit to employing a “two call” ASK strategy; one to first establish a general “lean in,” and followed up by a second phone call containing the specific ask later. (the yes or no)

You’ve got to agree that this “two call” approach sure seems to improve the overall chances of success.

It’s weird, but the Princeton Study reminded me of how I tried to use this technique back in my high school days.

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 10.27.47 PMThe memory is still somewhat painful, too.

For a few weeks during my junior year, I’d get my high school buddies to go up to particular girls in class (or call them up on the phone) to ask each one if “hypothetically, she’d say “yes” to going out on a date with Tom Page if ever he were to call and ask?”

As an early adopter to the Princeton study (well before it even existed), I thought this strategy had “no fail” stamped all over it.

If anyone needed to improve their odds, it was me.

But no such luck.

All of my buddies reported back to tell me I’d be wasting my time making any second phone calls.

Urgh… dang those Ivy League studies, anyway!





Picky. Picky. Pacifying pointed peer pressure from School PR pros – SCN Encourager

Okay. Here are my School PR Reflections in one package.

It’s called “the drip.”

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 10.14.15 AMThat’s the technique I employed last week.

You know – where I dripped out my Seth Godin inspired School PR Reflections in onesies and twosies everyday last week.

I received some nice comments back and several people asked asked me to combine all 7 reflections into one Encourager.

Why force me to click all over the place?
How could I share it with my team like that?
Why force them to click all of the the place, too?

Cindy warned me this might happen –
where my “drip” tactic would boomerang and tag me as the real “drip.”

Life is tough enough without you all proving her right so often!

So here are my School PR Reflections #1-#7.

#1 Reflecting on “What’s the best school marketing for our schools?”

The best marketing is always grounded in the development and delivery of the best product, program, or service.

That’s it.

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 9.27.02 PMWhile Question #1 in bold above looks crazy simple, and indeed it does evokes a speedy-kwik answer, we all know the monumental challenges that come along striving to deliver “the best.”

But you can’t escape this core truth.

Your district’s PR and communications effectiveness are directly tied to the day-to-day operational excellence and reputation of your programs and services.

Beauty, the eye of the beholder, and School PR Reflections #6 and #7 – SCN Encourager

You know what they say about how beauty is perceived? Well, people “behold” our schools in much the same way.

What could be more beautiful?

What could be more beautiful?

We all see beauty differently.

And this fact strengthens Master Marketer Seth Godin’s contention that we need to be very much aware of the varying interests, preferences, and experiences of our parents, students, staff, and community members.

Because they’ll often surprise us, we can’t be complacent about deploying our school PR radar.

There are a few other notions we should keep in mind as well, and my first five reflections are shown here.

Here are the final two as we wrap up the week.

And I heard your cries to keep it short –


Q6 What’s the best way for schools to win in a competitive environment?

Demonstrate levels of competence, service, and caring that rise above the “jingles,” the hype, and the practices of others.

Nothing more needs to be added.

This is difficult enough.

Q7  In general, what’s the best measurement for school PR? (Can’t forget your metrics!)

Collecting data for data’s sake is pointless.

Focus on this.

Determine the gap between what you are promising (and ideally, it’s sky high) and what you are actually delivering.

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 8.43.08 PMThis gap is the best indicator of how the people you serve perceive the value they are receiving.

It’s worth surveying.

When promises are exceeded, people are delighted.

When promises don’t live up to expectations, they’re disappointed.

And whoa – if they’re disappointed about something – they’re just seconds away from telling their friends!

Seth Godin says the best way to keep this from happening is to stay in close contact with your parents (your choosers) and never be afraid to “ask” them about what they’re thinking.

But asking people what they’re thinking always makes me nervous.

That’s why I sent Godin a suggestion for an alternate tactic, something other than time-consuming and annoying surveys.

I proposed that school communicators should refrain from making any promises in the first place.

Why shouldn’t we avoid the whole “gap thing” altogether if we can?

That was my reasoning, anyway.

But since Godin hasn’t gotten back to me yet, maybe it would still be a good idea to keep your “school surveys” file in a spot where you can quickly grab it.

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School PR and communications reflection #5 – SCN Encourager

Since Seth Godin’s attorney hasn’t put the kabosh on my series of school PR reflections yet, here’s one more.

mailAt least I don’t think he has.

Sometimes I’m a little slow in getting around to my mail.

(If you know what I mean…)

As we head into good ol’ #5, here are my first four “Godin inspired” school PR and communication reflections from yesterday.

Q5 What is our best content? How do we tell our story?

In my view, the key differentiator between good school communications and great school communications is this:

School districts that have GREAT school PR strategically and consistently set out to CREATE the stories people will tell about them.  At every opportunity (AKA touchpoints), they strive to exceed the expectations of the people they serve.

Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 11.18.05 PMSome school districts may still find success in a more traditional model of school PR, in which the emphasis is on spotlighting and telling their school stories, not so much creating them.

With communications clutter running amok and getting worse, though, this approach is getting harder to carry out well.

Achieving the intended result depends on repeating good school news often enough, so that people will eventually see the magnitude of what all our schools are doing and jump on the bandwagon.

It’s hard to knock this tactic. It’s well meaning. It shares truth (our schools are doing wonderful things!). And absolutely, messages that get out there and repeated will have a hundred times greater impact than those messages that are never shared at all.

Now, you should know that not everyone agrees with this last point.

Cindy would say that some of the Encouragers I’ve never written are indeed far better than some of the ones I have!

Maybe this should bother me, but it doesn’t.

I just keep reminding myself that she’s not a seasoned and trained school communicator.

We should never go overboard in accepting anecdotal feedback.

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