If you want to be the author of your own life

The first time I saw the phrase, I thought it was beautiful: “Be the author of your own life.” It seemed so appealing and uplifting, like “Be the CEO of your own career” or “Be the change you want to see in the world.” The prospect of self-determination inherent in the phrase, the power to actively craft your own future, seemed to offer both hope and inspiration.

But the more I reflected on it, the more it seemed like a cruel hoax.

After all, what prepares you to be the author of your own life? Is it the HR survey that tells you what your strengths are? The personality profile that describes your color or element and suggests jobs that are right for you?

Of course that’s not enough. You can’t be an author unless you actually write. And read. A lot. You need to do it every day, day after day, until you develop the skills, habits, and mindset of a writer. It’s your deliberate practice over time - experiments, feedback, connections - that enable you to develop the grit and heart and craft you need to make something great..

The same goes for an intentional life. You must explore, attempt, fail, learn, and adapt over and over and over again. Only through an endless series of small steps will you develop a sense of what feels right for you, broaden your understanding of what’s possible, and expand the perimeter of your potential. 

Crafting a life is not something you say or wish. It’s something you work on every day. Start now.

Author of My Own Life.JPG

The 2nd edition of “Working Out Loud”

A lot has happened since Working Out Loud was published in June of 2015. Working Out Loud Circles are now in a wide range of organizations and over twenty countries. (Hello, Sri Lanka!) There was a TEDx talk that helped raise awareness. And to spread the practice further, I started ikigai LLC so I could work on it full-time. 

Perhaps most importantly, a growing community and I have learned a lot about what works and doesn't work. So I’ve begun to update the book with all we’ve learned. 

Since you’re reading this, chances are that you have your own opinions and experiences related to Working Out Loud. Here’s a question for you.

What would make the book better?

There are certain things I thought I would keep the same. For example, many people seemed to like the short exercises and chapter recaps in the first edition. I also have a few specific things I want to add.

  • A new chapter on how organizations are using Working Out Loud Circles to create a more open, collaborative culture.
  • More stories showing an even broader range of people who work out loud, and how and why they do it.
  • Updated information on how Circles work and how they spread. (It was only after the book came out that I published the first complete set of Circle guides.)
  • Ways the community and I are adapting the practice, including Working Out Loud for Teams and for Communities.

I don’t want the book to be longer, so I’ll eliminate some things too. My intention is to complete the 2nd edition over the next few months and publish it later in 2016.

If you have an idea for making the book better, or have a story you want to share, I would love to hear about it. Just post a comment below or send me email

Thank you for any suggestions. I'm looking forward to incorporating your ideas into the next edition.

Lessons from self-publishing a book

There’s something special about holding a physical book in your hands. The feeling is even more special when it’s your book. It gives the ideas more weight somehow (no pun intended, honest). The contents weren’t just written, they were published. Well, now it’s easier than ever for you to publish your own work, whether it’s the next great novel or just stories from your life for your kids to read.

Earlier this year, I self-published Working Out Loud. By sharing what I learned in the process, I hope to encourage you to publish too.

Working Out Loud on Amazon

The trade-offs

The benefits of using a traditional publisher are that you get more services: editing, design, marketing. But those things come with a cost. Because the publisher is providing those services, you tend to have little or no control over them. They’ll cost you in terms of reduced royalties too. (Though it’s the rare author who makes money from publishing a book no matter how they do it.)

Also, the value of their services, particularly marketing, has decreased over time. Because publishing margins have gone down, and because the expectations for most authors are low, a publisher won’t spend much on marketing your book beyond offering it in their catalog to wholesalers. As for the other services, it’s easier than ever to find good copyeditors and designers.

Perhaps the biggest cost is a mental one: you have to be picked. You’ll spend time and emotional energy searching for validation which will be hard to come by, and the vast majority of aspiring authors will never get past the gatekeepers.

Resources to help you self-publish

The best book I’ve found on self-publishing was self-published by a popular and acclaimed author, Guy Kawasaki. Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur is the single best reference guide on the process and the different options. Reading this book can save you a lot of time and help you avoid some grave mistakes.

Author Publisher Entrepreneur

Your First 1000 Copies will help you think about reaching an audience for your book. Without the traditional marketing and distribution channels of a publisher, you’ll need to do something yourself. This book helps you understand what that is and how to do it.

Your First 1000 Copies

Pleasant and unpleasant surprises

While self-publishing necessarily means you’ll be doing work that a publisher would have done otherwise, some context might be helpful. In terms of hours spent, my rough estimate is that 98% of publishing my book was writing and 2% was publishing. So while publishing is important, those percentages make it clear where you should focus most of your time and energy.

I chose Createspace because it’s owned by Amazon and provides a complete set of services. The editing service was excellent, and they easily customized the cover design I had done elsewhere. They created the Kindle version automatically without any work on my part.

My biggest mistake was related to the interior design of the book. I naively assumed I would just submit a Word document and they would “format it.” But the first proof copy came back with issues ranging from header sizing to spacing to capitalization mistakes. It took me three more months of scrupulously checking every line - and ordering more proof copies and paying more fees - till it looked the way I wanted. I could have avoided that by setting up headers more carefully in Word and providing more detailed instructions for formatting from the beginning.

Createspace has some limitations. They don’t print hardcovers, so if you want one you’ll have to use another service (and distribute it yourself). They also don’t offer the same discounts to bookstores as other publishers (20% instead of 40-50%). If you want a bookstore to carry your book, you’ll have to sell it to them yourself.

All things considered, I will use Createspace again for my next book. (Note the self-affirmation in that last sentence!) The Createspace staff was extremely friendly and helpful, and the entire process cost well under $2,500. On June 10th, after years of working on it, my book was available on Amazon sites around the world as a paperback and ebook.

I remember the thrill of opening up the Amazon app on my phone, searching for “working out loud,” and seeing my book there. Just like all the others.

Choose yourself

Each of us has our own story and our own ideas. Now, more than ever, it's up to you to decide whether they are worth sharing, whether what you say might help or entertain or inspire someone else.

You don’t have to wait to be picked. You can choose yourself.

The world needs more good stories and good ideas. Why not yours?

The First 1000 Copies

Sometime last month, someone purchased the 1000th copy of Working Out Loud. I mention it not because it’s a big number (it isn’t), but because it’s a milestone of a kind, and I wanted to share it with you as well as a few things that have surprised me so far.

A bulk order of Working Out Loud

A bulk order of Working Out Loud

A few surprises

Originally, I figured people would find out about the book via the blog, buy a copy, and maybe tell their friends about it if they liked it. That does happen sometimes, but here’s something I didn’t expect.

Surprise #1:

More than half of the orders so far are from bulk orders from 4 different companies.

A company in Washington, DC (not the one I work for) ordered 300 copies while I was on holiday in Japan. What made it especially memorable was that it was a corporate bookstore and I had to figure out how to take the order and credit card payment directly. That was a thrill on several levels.

My firm did indeed place the first bulk order, which was a shock at the time, and that has led to something wonderful and surprising at work.

Surprise #2:

Working Out Loud is now part of my job, and there will be 150-200 circles at the firm this year.

I started presenting Working Out Loud at career events, and demand gradually grew. Now I’m holding these events in multiple cities and countries, and every week I'll get mail about additional opportunities.

Perhaps the nicest surprise is the wide range of people I’m meeting around the world. They’re in industries as different as banks, healthcare, and manufacturing; they’re different ages, they have different experiences and reasons for working out loud; and they’re in a wide range of locations.

Surprise #3:

There are Working Out Loud circles in 11 countries: US, UK, Australia, India, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Sweden, Canada, Japan.

In November, for example, I’ll be visiting 3 cities in Germany to speak about Working Out Loud at a conference and to help spread the practice there. My interactions with people around the world have made me appreciate how the desire for a better career, and life and for deeper relationships, is universal.

The book launch party that lasted 3 years

A year ago, when I thought I was close to publishing the book (an event that happened 9 months later), I wrote about the kind of book launch I envisioned. I wrote about how I was inspired by the incredible success of Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now which took 3 long years.

“While I enjoyed Tolle’s books and the rags-to-riches nature of the story, what I liked most was how he originally published his book to help other people. He had no hope of making much money with it, yet he did it anyway. And word spread.

That’s my approach withWorking Out Loud. It’s meant as a gift. If people find it useful, they’ll tell a friend or pick it for their book club. Some will form a Working Out Loud circle and put the ideas into practice. Maybe a few thousand people might buy a copy in the first year. Maybe word will spread. Maybe not.”

So far, people around the world are finding it helpful. The reviews on amazon.com (and amazon.de, amazon.es, and amazon.co.uk) are all lovely.

I appreciate each and every order, each and every review, each and every contribution to the Facebook community, each and every email.

Thank you.

When work doesn’t feel like work

For years, I’ve heard platitudes about people who love what they do. How it doesn’t feel like work. How they would pay to do it. “How annoying,” I would think to myself.

During most of my career, we used the expression “combat pay” to capture our feeling that we earned our money because we were so often stressed and unhappy. I figured a job wasn’t meant to be fun or enjoyable, and that’s why they paid you. That’s why they call it work. 

This week, though, I saw for myself how - and why - work could feel like something else entirely.

Whistling while I work

Channeling my inner Snow White

I was on a plane heading for holiday in Japan with plenty of options for passing the time: books, movies, sleep. But instead I worked on presenter notes for slides. Even more unusual is that the notes weren’t for me, but for people I’ve never met.

It took me several hours, and as I was working on it I felt happy.

A few days later, my wife and kids were visiting friends and I was on my own for the day. I could have taken a train and visited any of a number of spots in Japan that I love.

Instead, I worked in various Kobe cafes for 6 hours, updating peer support guides. This was harder than working on presenter notes as it involved more thought and creativity, as well as uncertainty about whether the outcome would be worth it. It wasn’t fun. Yet at the end of the day, after making good progress on the guides, I felt fulfilled. Later today, I’ll be on high-speed train and I’m looking forward to working on them again.

It’s remarkable even to me. Why am I happy to spend precious holiday time doing these things?

5 reasons 

Some of the reasons will be clear to anyone who has studied motivation or read Daniel Pink’s Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us:

“We have three innate psychological needs—competence, autonomy, and relatedness. When those needs are satisfied, we’re motivated, productive, and happy. When they’re thwarted, our motivation, productivity, and happiness plummet.”

As I was working on the notes and the guides, I was tapping into these intrinsic motivators and more:

Autonomy: I was self-directed, without a boss, process, or system controlling me.

Mastery: I was actively researching and learning while trying to improve my work.

Purpose: I knew why I was doing my work - to help other people access a better career and life - and that higher purpose ennobles even mundane work.

Connectedness: Though I was working by myself, I was interacting before and afterwards with people around the world who were giving me feedback and expressing thanks.

Compassion: At first I labelled this generosity, but it feels like more than that. We may or not be wired for generosity beyond our inner social circle, but there’s plenty of evidence that compassion, or living with an other-centric viewpoint, is a key ingredient in the recipe for happiness and fulfillment.

The $$$ question

My sense is that anyone who has donated their time to a good cause can relate to my experience this week.

A question for me is how money would change things. More precisely, if there was an extrinsic motivator involved - Every WOL circle pays $10! The client is demanding it on Monday! - would it rob me of my feelings of fulfillment? Would it feel like work again?

It seems obvious that the answer is yes. But perhaps there’s another way. Perhaps you could give away most of the work and figure out ways to monetize a portion of it. Then you might be able to retain most of the feeling of joy and fulfillment, of flow, knowing that the paid portion makes all the rest possible.

What do you think? Have you seen people do this well? Are there role models to emulate?

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70 exercises to help you Work Out Loud

New Reources for Working Out Loud

New Reources for Working Out Loud

Many people who have read Working Out Loud have asked if I could put all the exercises in one place for easy reference. So I created a free workbook.

You can download it here: Working Out Loud: Exercise Workbook

This 42-page workbook is based on the 70 exercises in Working Out Loud. The exercises are presented in the same order as in the book, and I hope that having them all in one place and with extra space for you to write in makes it easier for you to do them.

The short exercises at the end of each chapter – something you can do in less than a minute or five minutes – are simple nudges to help you practice. The slightly longer exercises starting in chapter 10 will help you build your network. Some of these longer exercises are also used in the peer support groups,Working Out Loud circles.

The workbook is one more step toward making it easier for you to work out loud. I'll be adding and updating more resources over the coming months. As always, I appreciate your comments as they help improve the materials and the circle experience.

Thank you. I hope you find this helpful.

Working Out Loud: Exercises

Working Out Loud: Exercises

The 6 feelings I experienced when my book was finally on Amazon

As of Thursday, June 11th, you could buy “Working Out Loud” on Amazon. I thought I would simply feel happy. But it turned out to be a bit more complicated than that.

Working Out Loud on Amazon

 

Surprise

My first reaction was surprise. You might find that odd considering I had been working toward publishing the book for a few years. But on Wednesday, I was told it would take “3 to 5 business days.” Then on Thursday morning at 10:15, I saw this:

Pia Helm buys Working Out Loud

My pulse quickened. I didn’t know Pia Helm from Munich. She must be mistaken, I thought. So I went on Amazon, searched for “working out loud,” and there it was.

Pis Helm buys Working Out Loud - pt 2

Camaraderie

I sent out tweets and Facebook updates to let people know, and the next 2 days were filled with congratulations and good feeling from around the world.

A colleague I have never spoken with before wrote this beautiful Amazon review:

“I am using this book currently in a Working Out Loud Circle at work and I am so impressed with how simple it is to implement and how effective the techniques are. After just one WOL Circle meeting, I was already feeling more connected with my colleagues and more encouraged about my career. I believe at the end of 12 weeks, I will be well on my way to new habits to accomplish my goal. I believe I will return to this method to reach future goals, and hope to implement many of the insights in my day to day work habits as well.

Bravo! It is long overdue for someone to address the problem of work not being as fulfilling as it could be. The secret indeed lies with us, our interactions with our fellow human beings, and gratitude and kindness.”

Although I’ve been writing for a while, it’s still an extraordinary thing to feel connected with people around the world. Friends, family, colleagues, strangers - all connected by their interest in an idea. I felt like I was part of something bigger than me and it felt good.

Happiness

All the nice comments from my network made me happy. Seeing a bulk order from my firm for 350 copies (one for every intern in the US) made me feel even happier. Not just because I sold books but because it felt like a symbol of institutional validation.

The day the book was available, I was invited to give a keynote speech in Sydney. And I spoke to two other companies who are interested in spreading the practice of working out loud among their employees.

I was feeling happy about the present and also about the possibilities.

Anxiety

Anxious? Yes. It didn’t take long for the snakes in my head to appear: What if someone gives it a 1-star review? What if they don’t think it’s good enough? What if there’s a problem with my thinking, writing, or research?

As those thoughts popped into my head, I remembered the two quotes I cited in the book.

“You can be a delicious, ripe peach and there will still be people in the world who hate peaches.” - Dita Von Teese

“It’s arrogant to assume that you’ve made something so extraordinary that everyone everywhere should embrace it.” - Seth Godin

Slight letdown

Of course I looked at the online royalty report to see how many I sold. I won’t tell you how often I did that but it was more than once. It's clear that whether I sell 1,000 or 10,000 or even 100,000, it's still a small number compared to how many people I want to help.

In my letter from my future self that I wrote over five years ago (and is also in the book), I included that I'll have known I reached my goal when “I will have authored a book or other notable content that more than 20,000 people read.”

Now I know that books alone are not enough.

Determination

I remind myself that the book is both a culmination and a beginning. It’s an important step, and now there are other steps to take.

One of the most important next steps is a movement to form at least 1,000 Working Out Loud circles this year. In the first few days after it was announced, already people from 7 countries have pledged over 300 peer support groups. (You can see the growing list and add your own name here.)

Other steps include making it easier for people to take their own steps and make working out loud a habit. Working with companies and HR associations to include working out loud as a practice. Helping students work out loud so they have access to opportunities. Work with people who normally don’t have such access to equip and empower them to get it.

Nine months ago, when I thought the book was almost finished, I wrote that the book launch party might take three years. That sounds about right.

7 short stories I’ll never forget

7 short stories I'll never forgetRecently, I went through a box of books that I had read long ago and had been collecting dust. Many were like passing acquaintances, and I only vaguely remembered their stories. A few were complete strangers except for the month and year scrawled in my handwriting on the first page. But some stories stick with me. They grip me and won’t let go, like the 7 short stories I’ve selected here.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. If you’ve read a short story you’ll never forget, please share it in the comments.

“Last Night”

I started reading the work of James Salter only recently, including a collection of short stories. “Last Night” was so intense and disturbing I couldn’t sleep. When Marit, the wife, says “I thought you were going to help me,” I could feel the different kinds of shock and horror that each of the characters was experiencing at that moment.

“Starving”

The stories in Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout are connected, each one a glimpse into different lives that intersect in both small and significant ways. The characters are like beautifully detailed paintings, and “Starving” focuses on Harmon who, though he’s getting older and his family is settled, is still hungry for a full life.

Something happened the year Derrick went off to college. While their bedroom life had slowed considerably, Harmon had accepted this, had sensed for some time that Bonnie was "accommodating" him. But one night her turned to her in bed, and she pulled away. After a long moment, she said quietly, “Harmon, I think I’m just done with that stuff."

They lay there in the dark; what gripped him from his bowels on up was the horrible, blank knowledge that she meant this. Still, nobody can accept losses right away.

"Done?" he asked. She could have piled twenty bricks onto his stomach, that was the pain he felt.

"I’m sorry. But I’m just done. There’s no point in my pretending. That isn’t pretty for either of us."

“House of the Sleeping Beauties”

This story won’t appeal to everyone. Written by Yasunari Kawabata, it’s so bizarre and macabre - so other - that it’s seared into my memory.

“He was not to do anything in bad taste, the woman of the house warned old Eguchi. He was not to put his finger into the mouth of the sleeping girl, or try anything else of that sort."

The house is a secret club for elderly gentlemen who have lost their sexual powers. Eguchi, with his promise to abide by the rules, begins his life as a member there.

“Rashomon” & “In a Bamboo Grove”

These two short stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, were written six years apart, in 1915 and 1921. Together, they served as the basis for the film “Rashomon” which introduced the world to Japanese film.

Re-reading the stories, they seem like small fragments from another time and place. “In a Bamboo Grove” is a treatment of memory, how truth is so relative, memory so subjective. As a small example of that, I don’t know myself whether it’s the stories or the movie that have made such an impression on me.

“The Babylon Lottery”

Borges’ stories stretch the imagination to absurd limits. Yet as incredible as his plots and characters may be, we can still relate to them in some small way.

The lottery of Babylon reduces people’s lives to pure chance, a series of drawings by The Company. It makes you consider just how much control we truly have.

“Like all men in Babylon I have been a proconsul; like all, a slave; I have also known omnipotence, opprobrium, jail. Look: the index finger of my right hand is missing…An adverse drawing might mean mutilation, a varied infamy, death.”

“A Good Man is Hard to Find”

I remember my shock when I first read this classic story by Flannery O’Connor. I remember how, based on the title, I was expecting something entirely different, perhaps a story about seeking and finding love.

I could not have been more wrong.

“Big Two-Hearted River”

Looking through the 650 pages of The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway reminds me of how I felt reading them. Through these stories I got a glimpse into experiences I would never have known otherwise.

I could have picked “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” or “The Killers” or “My Old Man.” I chose instead a simple story about a young man, back home from the war, fishing and camping along the river where he spent time as a boy.

It’s beautifully written. Like all great short stories, it transported me to another time and place, and made me feel something I hadn’t quite felt before.

How an undisciplined person was able to blog for 200 weeks in a row

I still remember this all-nighter in college, writing on my trusty Smith-Corona typewriter. That undisciplined person is me.

I'm someone whose list of things to do is scrawled on scraps of paper. I put off things I don’t enjoy doing, like taxes and even the smallest of administrative tasks. Occasionally <ahem> I’ll eat and drink too much.

Despite my lack of discipline in some areas, though, I’ve managed to write a blog post every week for 200 weeks. By sharing how I did it, maybe I can help others who want to write more too.

The beginning

It was about six years ago when I first started writing. Looking for some kind of creative outlet as I was changing roles at work, I began using a low-tech blogging platform that was available inside the company, and the early posts were therapeutic. I wrote about things I was interested in, and with each post I felt like I was developing a useful skill.

I wrote only half a dozen times that year, but one post about trying to use Gmail at work attracted over a thousand comments. I was amazed at how a simple essay on a social platform could make it possible to connect people and build a movement. Something clicked. I saw that by making my ideas and work visible, I could shape my reputation and get access to opportunities I wouldn’t have known about otherwise.

I started to take writing more seriously. My friend Eric, an author and journalist, helped me by editing my work and offering support. I gradually started writing more, enjoying the feedback, and after 18 months or so I was posting something every week inside my firm.

The struggle

Writing did not come naturally. I would procrastinate. I would stare at a blank screen not knowing what to write. I would hate my early attempts at a post as I kept failing to make a concise point.

I was mindful too that I was often spoiling Saturday mornings with my brooding over a laptop, testing my wife’s patience. And for what?

I thought of stopping, but I remember reading Seth Godin’s daily blogs at the time, and they provided me with much-needed encouragement. Here’s one of them:

“Where, precisely, do you go in order to get permission to make a dent in the universe? …

If you think there's a chance you can make a dent, GO. Now. Hurry. You have my permission. Not that you needed it.”

And another:

“Are you making a dent in the universe?

Hint: lots of random pokes in many different spots are unlikely to leave much of an impact. And hiding out is surely not going to work at all.”

I always thought I could make a dent, but I was increasingly aware that time was running out. I became more purposeful. At a low point in my career, I saw what it was like not to have many options, and I saw writing as a way to take some control over my learning and access to possibilities. I refused to give up.

In June 2011, after writing for a few years at work, I was going to give a talk at a conference and I wanted people there to be able to find my work online. So I bought a domain name, picked a Wordpress theme, and anguished over my first public post.

I think only 16 people read it, and despite all that writing at work, I still hadn't found my voice - what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. But that is now 200 weeks ago. The more I wrote, the more comfortable I became. Over time, a gradually growing audience would tell me how they came to expect my posts every Saturday morning. Not wanting to let them down motivated me to ship each week.

Making it a habit

As the weeks went on, I gradually got smarter. I kept a list of topics so I wouldn’t ever panic in front of a blank screen. I started drafting posts earlier in the week so my subconscious could work on the post for a few days. And I stuck to a schedule. Everything I had read about authors I admired said they treated writing like a job. You sit down and write, and you meet your deadline no matter what.

After perhaps 100 public posts the writing started to get easier or, more precisely, I didn’t worry about it as much. The regimen relieved me of much of the stress. The difficulty of writing a good first draft is now familiar and my anxiety quickly turns into recognition. “It’s okay,” I tell myself, “it’s just part of the process.” I also know that each post is another small step towards getting better.

While I still don’t recognize myself as a disciplined person, I have become a disciplined writer, posting twice a week now and having just finished a book. Writing is now something I enjoy doing, and I can see applying that process, that discipline, to other parts of my life.

I’m looking forward to it.

The two best moments in my career happened just this month

One moment was during an evening event at the office, and the other was while I was on holiday in Costa Rica. As different as those circumstances were, the moments were connected, and they represented both a culmination and a beginning. I share them in the spirit of sharing good news with friends. And in the hope that the path I took to those two best moments might help you experience your own.

Overcoming the resistance

John Stepper_CoverWearing a bathing suit and sandals, I capped several years of work by shipping the final manuscript of Working Out Loud to be formatted, the final step before it’s available on Amazon in about a month.

It’s not so much finishing a book that made it a special moment. Millions of people write books each year. It’s overcoming what Steven Pressfield calls “the resistance” and what Seth Godin refers to as “the lizard brain.”

Every day till the moment I hit “submit,” the voices in my head were insistent:

It’s not ready.

It’s not good enough.

You’re not good enough.

I couldn’t turn the voices off. They are, I know, just trying to protect me from disappointment and rejection. I also know that the long-term consequences of not making the effort are much more harmful.

The things that helped me ship are framing the work as a contribution and the feedback from people who have read and applied the ideas in the book. Offering my work as a gift means I can be free of expectations - number of copies sold, good reviews - as my only goal is to help people. The feedback lets me know at least some people will appreciate my contribution. If others don’t like it, I'll take solace in knowing “you can be a delicious ripe peach and there will still be people in the world that hate peaches.”

Bringing my whole self to work

Presenting "Working Out Loud"The other moment was earlier this month was when I spoke to a large group at my firm about Working Out Loud circles and half of them formed circles as a result.

Though I had written and spoken about my work before, this event wasn’t sponsored by me but rather by an official employee network in the firm. It was promoted via email and on screens in the elevators and in the lobby.

It was as if I finally connected all the time spent researching and writing and coaching with what I actually do for a living. After all, no one had ever asked me to write a book or give talks or try to form a movement that empowered people. I just did. Somehow, having that work recognized and promoted by the institution helped connect the different kinds of work I do and made me feel whole.

As a result, my presentation that evening was the best talk I ever gave. I think it was because I delivered my authentic self, and put all of me into the talk.

When will your best moments be?

When I ask people “When are the best years of your life?” some people are clear that their best moments happened long ago.

It makes me sad they’re so certain about their future and that it holds so little promise for them.

Whatever your age or job or experience, I want more people to know that the best moments of your life are just the best moments so far. By equipping people with some new skills and habits, and some simple switches in their mindset, I want to help them discover and gain access to more possibilities.

I want to help them experience more best moments.