Aliveatwork's Blog


What If … ?

You, you may say, I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

John Lennon

Years ago there were a series of Hewlett Packard commercials whose tag line were “What If …”

Since then a number of folks have done similar “What if” campaigns, Nike and Michael Jordan, the NHL, even the Cleveland Indians (now that’s a real what if!)

The idea is to get people to imagine something beyond what is in front of them.  To imagine something more than what they are currently experiencing or to ignite their hope for the possibility of something better. Especially if things are not going too well at the present time ( i.e. the Cleveland Indians haven’t won a world series since 1954).

As I thought about how powerful the “what if” question is, I realized that for many people the “what if” question actually has the opposite effect. In fact for some folks the “what if” question can actually suck the power right out of their idea or worse yet … themselves!

How many times have you had a truly great idea until you started asking yourself the “what if” question. What if things go wrong, what if I fail, what if I lose, what if I make a mistake, etc.

So that got me to thinking … IMAGINE if for the next 10 days you looked at every decision or situation from a more positive perspective?

I am not saying you should ignore glaring negatives and forge ahead blindly. However, I am challenging you to look at the possibility of what is good, possible, and true.

Below is a list of  10 Positive “What If” questions  to ask yourself the next time you have an idea, are stuck trying to make a decision, or just not sure what to do:

  1. What if I succeed beyond my wildest dreams?
  2. What if this is the perfect decision?
  3. What if I already have the perfect partner for me?
  4. What if I wasn’t afraid?
  5. What if I believed I was enough … more than enough … in fact way more than enough!
  6. What if I loved my spouse, my kids, my brother, neighbor, sister, as much as I love myself? (yes the golden rule)
  7. What if I knew I was brilliant, smart, and amazing?
  8. What if I knew I couldn’t fail?
  9. What if I trusted myself?
  10. What would I do if I wasn’t afraid? (Yeah, I know but it’s worth repeating!)

So there you have it!

Use this list for the next 10 days every time you have a decision to make or dilemma on your hands and just watch what happens to your life.

You just might find … “It’s easy if you try …. and It isn’t hard to do!”



Humor is a Funny Thing … Seriously!

As we approach the 4th of July we are already officially past the half way point through the year, I thought we would take a laughter break.

You may recall in the Jack Nicholson movie, The Shining that, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

That said, I thought I would share some of my favorite one-liners from two of my favorite comedians, Henny Youngman and Steven Wright.

You might be thinking, I don’t have time to laugh … actually you don’t have time not to!

Humor has been scientifically proven to improve mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health.

And to think … no co-pay and no deductible!

So here you go:

Henny Youngman:

  • A doctor gave a man six months to live. The man couldn’t pay his bill, so he gave him another six months.
  • A man goes to a psychiatrist. “Nobody listens to me!” The doctor says, “Next!”
  • My wife and I have the secret to making a marriage last. Two times a week, we go to a nice restaurant, a little wine, good food. She goes Tuesdays, I go Fridays.
  • The Doctor says, “You’ll live to be 60!” “I AM 60!” “See, what did I tell you?”
  • Any married man should forget his mistakes, there’s no use in two people remembering the same thing.

Steven Wright:

  • I installed a skylight in my apartment… the people who live above me are furious!
  • I poured spot remover on my dog. Now he’s gone.
  • I think it’s wrong that only one company makes the game Monopoly.
  • My neighbor has a circular driveway… he can’t get out.
  • What’s another word for Thesaurus?
  • When I was a little kid we had a sand box. It was a quicksand box. I was an only child… eventually.
  • “I’d kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.”
  • “Why are there five syllables in the word “monosyllabic”?”
  • “Do Roman paramedics refer to IV’s as ‘4’s’?”
  • “Is it possible to be totally partial?”

Some folks take themselves way too serious. They never take the time to relax, laugh, and to simply enjoy the moment.

We can get so stressed out over the little things in life that we actually make ourselves sick: ulcers, muscle tension in our necks, backs, and shoulders, and all sorts of ailments that are a result of too much stress on our bodies.

Remember to take time to laugh each day it can save your life … after all … laughter truly is the best medicine!



When I Grow Up … Making Your Dreams Come True!

Do you remember when you were a kid and someone asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up?

“I want to be a … fireman, policeman, a nurse, a superhero, etc.”

So what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was 7-years-old I wanted to be an entertainer, a stand-up comic. My parents and I would listen to Pat Cooper albums and we would laugh hysterically.

Pat’s real name was Pasquale Caputo and he would talk about growing up in an Italian Family. It didn’t matter if I understood the jokes or not … if Mom and Dad were laughing, I was laughing too.

When I was 16-years-old, I wanted to be the drummer for Van Halen. It didn’t matter that I didn’t play the drums, I dreamed of getting an emergency phone call from Eddie Van Halen telling me that Alex got sick and they desperately needed me!

What is it about children and dreams?

When you’re a kid your dreams and ideas are unlimited, you don’t care if it’s realistic or not, you simply believe you can be anything you want to be.

When a group 5-year-olds were asked what they wanted to be when they grew up, the number one response … a super-hero.

What is it about adults and dreams?

At some point most adults give up on their dreams and end up settling. The excitement and aliveness that once filled them seems to fade away each year that passes. Almost as if time is slowly erasing the image of their dreams they painted so many years ago.

A recent Salary.com survey found that only 16% of the people surveyed said they were living their childhood dreams. They went on to say that 60% of those surveyed still wished they could fulfill their dreams!

So what about you?

Maybe your dream to be a ballerina or a policeman changed over the years. The core question here isn’t whether you actually became a super-hero or not … the real questions are:

  1. Are you happy?
  2. Do you love what you do?
  3. Do you love the person you’ve become?
If the answer to any of those question is “no” or “maybe” here are 7 steps that will help you:

7 Steps to Realizing Your Dreams:

  1. Ask yourself: What did I want to be when I grew up?
  2. Look for any correlations between what you wanted to be and who you are today.
  3. Write down on a sheet of paper 10 things you love to do?
  4. Look for any gaps between who you wanted to be and who you are.
  5. Look for any gaps between what you do and what you love to do?
  6. Write down one action you can and will take today to close that gap (make a phone call, an appointment, or put on a cape and run around the house).
  7. Commit to doing one of the things you love to do once a week for one month and watch what happens to your happiness meter.

No, I never became a stand-up comic or the drummer for Van Halen and yet … I love what I do … I cannot imagine doing anything else.

Sometimes I get chills thinking that I get paid to be a professional speaker and to help other realize their potential. It’s like I’m living a dream!

Oh and one last thing … I have a drum set in my living room that I play whenever I want to feel like a rock star …

I’m sure Eddie will call … eventually!



Hey Don’t Wait … I Got An Idea!

This week we’re talking about ideas …

After pondering the topic I had this realization … ideas are simply thoughts that when acted upon, materialize in the physical world.

For example, the Empire State Building was just an idea that formed in someone’s mind. It took action and a whole lot of collaboration to make it come to life.

How many times have you had a brilliant idea  … THAT YOU NEVER TOOK ACTION ON?

Three months later you see your idea materialized in someone else’s business, family, career, relationship, etc. and you say  to yourself, “I coulda, I woulda, I shoulda!”

It is the actions that you take that bring your ideas into existence and sometimes taking action is the only thing  holding you back from being more successful.

Just think if Nicolas Appert never invented the idea of canning food in 1809, Ezra J. Warner might not have been the one to invent the can opener in 1858. Both of these inventions were simply ideas that were acted upon.

So the next time you have an amazing idea … ACT and act fast.

The longer you wait the greater the probability that you will never bring your idea into existence … and someone else will.

It is better to bring an idea that is 70% complete into this world than to NEVER bring an idea that is 99.99999999% complete …

So what amazing ideas have been rolling around in your mind lately?

And you were waiting for what … ?



Customer Loyalty: “Let Me See if I Understand You …”

Maybe this has happened to you …

You walk into a restaurant when you receive your bill and along with it comes a request to join an elite club.

And like all elite memberships yours comes with special deals, points for free meals, bonuses, and all the things that one would expect when you belong to an elite club… AND IT’S ABSOLUTELY FREE!

Recently my friend Pamela and I were having lunch at Claim Jumper Restaurant here in Phoenix. Claim Jumper is part of the Landry Group of restaurants which include the likes of Morton’s, McCormick & Schmicks, etc.

While we were there where we received an opportunity to become a member of their elite club.

We learned how we could earn points for discounts and free meals all for the low, low, non-refundable, one-time, membership fee of $25.00!

EXCUSE ME … LET ME SEE IF I UNDERSTAND YOU?

You want me to pay you $25.00 for  the privilege of having the opportunity to dine in your restaurant? You want me to pay you for something that you should be providing for free. You want me to pay you for being a loyal customer?

Somewhere along the line somebody thought it was a great idea to bring customers back by offering them the opportunity to pay for being loyal … I would love to meet that marketing guru!

5 things you can learn about this to help you in your business:

  • It is 6 to 7 times more expensive to find a new customer than it is to keep one.
  • Unhappy customers tell other people about you and they simply tell other people and they tell other people … and you damage your brand.
  • Loyal customers tell other people about you and those people in turn become loyal customers … and your business grows.
  • Customer loyalty is something you earn … it’s not something you charge your customers  for … don’t ever believe that your customers should pay you for their loyalty.
  • A loyal customer is worth their weight in gold!

Prior to this experience I made Claim Jumper a regular part of my dining out experiences.

Will I ever go back? Maybe  …

Has my perception about their brand changed? Absolutely …

The gifts in all this is that it should remind you to never lose sight of how valuable your customers are to you.

It also is a great reminder that in this day and age when customers can turn on a dime (literally) … customer loyalty is more valuable than gold!

And that my friends … is a claim I’m willing to jump all over!



Hope and Change and Change and Hope and … Get Over it!

Webster’s dictionary defines hope as a feeling.

It states … hope is “the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.”

I believe that hope begins with a thought, a frame of mind, and that thought causes us to feel a certain way, and then we act on that feeling.

Nearly 4 years ago the world was filled with the idea of hope, actually hope and change. Four years later many people are filled with a sense of hopelessness because promises that were made were not kept. In many ways some folks are worse off than they were four years ago.

If you sat around and waited for someone else to step up and deliver you a basket full of hope, I can’t imagine you’re beaming with hope right now. And for the record it doesn’t matter who’s driving the bus!

This is not a statement about politics, it is a gentle reminder that no one … absolutely no one … is going to fulfill your dreams.

Not the government, your employer, the church, your spouse, your favorite sports team, or any other external factor … CREATING YOUR DREAMS AND ACHIEVING SUCCESS IS TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY UP TO YOU!

Sitting around and waiting for someone else to give you what you need will lead you down a path alright … a path that ends in hopelessness.

If you’ve lost your senses of hope lately here are 10 things you can do right now to take back control of your life and renew your sense of hope:

  1. Agree to take 100% responsibility for everything in your life … no excuses!
  2. Stop hanging around negative people who don’t line up with your values, your beliefs, or don’t believe in you … regardless of who they are.
  3. Stop watching the television and reading the newspaper. My friend Kama calls them hopesuckers and she’s right, they will literally drain you of any hope you that you have quicker than you can say lick-ity-split!
  4. Start reading books that will help you get what you want. Here are 3 I recommend: The Power of Intention by Wayne Dyer, The 7 Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Choprah, and Power versus Force by David Hawkins.
  5. Decide that you already have everything you need in this moment to get the results that you want.
  6. Start meditating on a daily basis so that you can clear your mind of all of the distractions and old beliefs that are getting in the way of your dreams.
  7. Remember this is your one and only one life and that you are never too old to realize your dreams. Colonel Sanders was 66 years old when he started Kentucky Fried Chicken.
  8. Live as if everything you do will be the last time you will ever do it. Your last blog, kiss, sales call, etc.
  9. Remember that you are amazing and extraordinary and you have limitless possibilities.
  10. When and if you start to lose your sense of hope go back to the beginning of this list and start again …

Hope begins with your thoughts … so think big and never let anyone else tell you that they know better than you, what you need or what you are capable of …

That is my hope for you!



That’s What Friend Are For …
May 10, 2012, 5:52 am
Filed under: Alive @ Work, Alive at Work, Aliveness, Joe Contrera | Tags: ,

“For good times, for bad times, I’ll be by your side forever more, That’s what friends are for!”

Burt Bacharach & Carole Bayer Sager

Back in 1982 Dionne Warwick and Friends (Elton John, Stevie Wonder, and Gladys Knight) collaborated on the hit song entitled “That’s What Friends Are For.”

Recently, I was thinking about the topic of friendship and realized that “back then” the word “friend” seemed to have a much different meaning

“Back then” I knew who all of my friends were. I didn’t feel the need to do a mass correspondence to beg people to like me, something I liked, or something I did.

They were my friends because we liked each other and we liked hanging out together.

And we hung out together … at the park, at my house, or someone else’s house … not in some virtual living room that didn’t exist!

“Back then” I didn’t need to know that my friends were drinking a cup of coffee, sitting in a restaurant, eating a doughnut, or burping.

“Back then” we played games like dodge ball, baseball, and kick-the-can, where you actual had physical contact … it was real. I didn’t play an imaginary game with person I claimed to be my friend whom I never met.

And when I made a move while playing monopoly … with my friends, I didn’t have to broadcast to 1,357 other friends that I just bought Baltic Avenue.

It seems to me that that the word “friendship” has been diluted down to a point where it really doesn’t have a whole lot’ve meaning anymore.

Today there are people who believe they have 4,000 friends on Facebook.

Here’s what I know …

I can still count on 2 hands my good friends and on one hand my very best friends. These are the folks who have stood by me during the good times and the bad times in my life.

You know who you are and I am grateful that you are in my life.

And for those of you who truly believe that you have 3,757 friends on Facebook …

As your “friend” I think I need to tell you this …

WAKE UP, get a real life, and get some real friends.

I wasn’t gonna say anything but … THAT’S what friends are for!



Multiplying Your Talents …

Yesterday we talked about the difference between talents and skills.

We said that getting clear about your talents, strengths, and gifts, will lead you to your purpose.

Well maybe that got you thinking … how will I know if I’m getting close to my purpose?

Here’s how you know you’re getting close …

Answer this question: “Is my purpose about serving me, or is it about serving others?”

You see when you utilize your strengths and talents to serve others you accomplish 2 things:

  1. You have a greater sense of fulfillment and joy in your life.
  2. You will be multiplying your talents by inspiring others to work and live from theirs!

Marianne Williamson in her famous “Words To Live By” says it so eloquently …

“There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine as children do.

And as we let our own light (talents) shine we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.”

Think about that … living and working from your talents actually inspire others to live from theirs.

And THAT my friends … is a powerful multiplier of your talents.

I think this may be the first time I can truthfully say that I like math!



Talents, Skills, and Being Extraordinary!

People seem to use the words talents and skills interchangeably, almost as if they had the same meaning.

I believe that talents and skills are different.

Talents encompass your strengths, your brilliance, and your genius.

And by genius, I mean in its original form found in the word – genie which mean magic … specifically, your magic!

Talents also include your God-given gifts and when you’re aligned and utilizing your talents in your work … it doesn’t feel like work.

Skills are a little different, skills are the things that you work on, learn, develop, and continue to work so that you can become an extraordinary lawyer, parent, teacher, leader, etc.

It is in the blending of your talents and skills that 2 of the 4 ingredients for greatness are found.

Michael Jordan was probably one of the most naturally gifted basketball players who ever played the game. One of the components that made him so extraordinary was his commitment to constantly sharpen his skills.

Even after winning 6 NBA Championships, if he missed foul shots during a game he would go out on the court after the arena was empty … and practice free throws.

So that got me thinking …

3 Questions To Ask Yourself:

  1. Are you conscious and aware of your natural strengths, gifts, and talents?
  2. Are you utilizing them in your work?
  3. What are you working on (reading, learning, growing) today that is enriching your skills as a leader, as a sales person, as a teacher. etc?

Every single person on this earth has a unique set of talents and gifts. Identifying them and incorporating them into your work/life will bring you happiness and set you on a course towards discovering your purpose.

Additionally, if you continue to develop your skills by learning, growing, and constantly increasing  your skill base … you will be on a path to being extraordinary!

So are you on your path to being extraordinary?



Taken To The Cleaners …

Have you ever taken your clothes to the dry cleaners …

Only to find that and they come back in worse condition than when you dropped them off?

I started taking my dry cleaning to Delia’s Cleaners here in Phoenix, as the one I was using was getting pretty pricey.

The article in question was (yes, wuzzzzzz) one of my favorite Tommy Bahama shirts.

Since it was a short sleeve shirt, it had been sitting in my closet for awhile. I wanted to wear it the other day but when I was removing the plastic and paper from the dry cleaner I found a number of giant white marks where the heat had damaged the silk.

I brought it back to the store and explained that this is the second time I’ve had to return shirts. 2 months ago they shrunk 2 long sleeve Tommy Bahama shirts.

A few days later I received a letter explaining that my shirt had been “restored to it’s original condition” along with with a $5 dollar gift card … very nice!

I go to pick up my shirt and find that it still has melt marks. I explained that it was unacceptable and they needed to replace it or make it right.

A few days later I get a phone call from Anthony … “Sir I apologize and I think your going to like what we did,” “Really, are the marks gone?”  “No, but there hard to see!”

“If it’s not right, why don’t you replace the shirt?” “Well you brought it in last October.” “Oh, so that means you can burn it?” (I didn’t know their was a statute of limitations on bad service) “Well sir, we’re not sure what you may have done with it in the meantime.”

He goes onto explain that they never get complaints from “other” customers who bring in their  Tommy Bahama shirts.” “That’s interesting, you had to restore 2 others that you recently shrunk!”

I went to pick up my “restored to its original condition” shirt … the burn marks are still there.

3 Lessons if You’re a Service Provider:

  1. If you provide a service to your customers stand behind your product … not behind a policy that causes you to lose a customer.
  2. Customers who are having a problem with your service don’t want to hear about your other customers who aren’t … they simply want their issue resolved.
  3. Make sure you understand the math of the issue: Don’t try to resolve a $128.00 problem with a $5.00 solution.
3 Lessons if You’re a Buyer:
  1. You always get what you pay for!
  2. Stick with what works … I tried saving a few bucks by switching dry cleaners and it ended up costing me a lot more money than I saved.
  3. When you get great service … tell everyone … when you get lousy service  … do the same thing!

By the way … if anyone is interested in purchasing a men’s, slightly used, partially melted, black, silk Tommy Bahama shirt … I know a guy!