Aliveatwork's Blog


Happy New Year … ?

As our year starts to wind down, we might be coming to the realization that we didn’t accomplish everything that we had planned on this year.

We might be asking ourselves “Why am I not getting what I really want in “X” area of my life?”

For some of us this area might be the same one we’ve been talking about …  for years.

It may be our financial situation, our job, our health, where we live, our relationships, or even the way we feel about ourselves.

If you should find yourself in this situation (not getting the results you want in life) here are 4 paths you can choose:

Path #1 – Hope the situation will change by itself.

Path #2 – Make excuses as to why you can’t change and then end up having the same dialog next December or January.

Path #3 – Choose to accept your situation exactly the way it is and decide to be happy … just the way it is. Sometimes what we say we want is not really what we want.

Path #4 – Choose to change your attitudes and/or beliefs about your situation and then take the necessary actions to correct it so you can have the results that you want.

Five Really Good Question To Ask Yourself:

  1. Is there anything about your life that has to change in order for you to have a successful year in 2012 or to have a successful life?
  2. Which 1 of the 4 paths do you really need to apply to this situation? Why?
  3. When will you take action?
  4. How will you stay on track so you can achieve success in this area of your life?
  5. How can you be held accountable even thought you really don’t want to?

Wishing and hoping for things to be different is not going to get you where you want to go. Don’t wait till the first of the year to start thinking about how you want your 2012 to be even better… that is unless you’re totally and completely happy with the way your life is going and don’t want to change a thing!

So don’t just sit there …

Start thinking … better yet … start writing!

If you’re interested in finding out how 2012 can be different email me:  joe@aliveatwork.com and learn about an exciting new program! Just add “My Best Year Ever … in the subject line!



A Nudge … Towards Greatness?

Recently I attended the National Speakers Association (NSA) Annual Conference in Anaheim, California. For those of you who don’t know NSA is an organization made up of some of the world’s best professional speakers.

Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy, Les Brown, Dr. Norman Vincent Peal, and Og Mandino are just a few of its legendary members.

As I sat listening to some of the current greats in the business, I found myself in a state of awe and fascination. Not necessarily because of the words they spoke, but more so by the delivery of those words … precise, accurate, perfectly timed, perfectly pitched, and eloquently spoken.  I saw myself as a student sitting at the feet of the masters, watching their magic unfold.

During a breakout session, one of the speakers from the main stage asked his audience why we chose his particular session. One of the audience members replied, it’s because you seemed relaxed, easy going, non-rehearsed, and not as polished as some of the other speakers while you delivered your message on the main stage.

The speaker replied, it has taken me 30 years to perfect my speaking, I have spent a lot of money on speaking coaches, mentors, theatre coaches, and worked extremely hard to be able to present that way, so please don’t think that it was easy or unintentional.

And that had me thinking:

Am I working as hard as I need to in order to be great … in my business?

A mentor and friend of mine by the name of Nido Qubein once said, “We are so busy being good that we don’t take the time to become great!”

3 Questions:

  1. Are you continually learning and studying how to be a great leader, sales professional, or whatever your chosen profession might be?
  2. Have you become comfortable being … good enough but not great?
  3. What action do you need to take in order to take your business or your life to a level of greatness?

Inside each and every one of us is the seed of greatness. Sometimes it just needs a little nudge in order to break through the surface and begin the journey upward towards its destiny … consider this a nudge!



Exceeding Expectations and Beyond …

It was late in the day and I had just found out that a dear friend of mine had returned home from having back surgery earlier that day. I wanted to send flowers however,   there is a 2 hour time difference between Phoenix and Chicago and it was already 3:45 PM in Illinois! Oh well looks like a delivery for tomorrow … not so fast!

I searched the web and found Donna’s Custom Flowers in Mundelein, IL,  I chose her store based on the great reviews I found on Google. 3 minutes later I was     entering an order online with special instructions to add some of my friend’s favorite flowers and colors. At 4:36 PM Central Time I received an email from Donna (the owner ) with a picture attached of the arrangement. At 5:35 PM I received a text from my friend thanking me for her beautiful custom floral arrangement that included all of her favorites!

Apparently, Donna decided this order was important enough to make sure they were delivered today …  so she delivered them … HERSELF!

I was shocked, Donna had totally blown away my expectations! So of course this got me thinking …

3 Questions To Ask Yourself:

  1. As a salesperson, leader, or business owner, when’s the last time you took the initiative to blow away a customer’s expectations?
  2. Does stuff like this happen in your business with your employees or is your business about exchanging a product for dollars?
  3. Donna’s Custom Flowers now has a customer for life … how many of your clients would say the same thing about you and your business?

Sometimes we get so caught up in the “busy-ness” of our business that we forget to focus on the reason we are in business to begin with … our customers!  Or maybe we get so wrapped up in our “stuff” that we lose sight of the fact the we don’t generate revenue … our customers do! And yet some of us spend more time trying to meet our own needs that we leave our customers needs unfulfilled … and we lose revenue and customers.

So here’s my challenge to you this week … do one thing that blows away your customer’s expectations and see what happens … who know’s somebody might blog about you!

And by the way if you want to send some amazing flowers to one of your customers go to:  http://donnascustomflowers.com/index_home.html



The Power of One

The Power of One

“Sometimes the slightest things change the directions of our lives, the merest breath of a circumstance, a random moment that connects like a meteorite striking the earth. Lives have swiveled and changed direction on the strength of a chance remark.”  – Bryce Courtenay (Author of The Power of One)

Sometimes we get caught up in the more is better syndrome and that more will make us happier. And yet, it seems that there is something deep down inside of us that reminds us that less is more … but how much less?

Have we lost sight of the of the extraordinary Power of One?

Perhaps it is that one simple act of kindness we take that could transform our life or the life of another?

Maybe it is that one idea that’s been percolating in your brain. Yes, the one you have pushed down many times before, but it keeps percolating to the forefront of your mind. What if that … was the one thing that could change your business or the world? How would you ever know … unless you took action?

I am learning that truth, real truth, lies in simplicity and that the more I over think, the more I complicate things, the further I move away from the truth.

The truth is that you already know the power of one on a deep level and yet … you haven’t taken the time to implement, reflect, or sit with it!

So what if you did?

What is the one thing you could say, the one thing you would do AND when would you do it!!!!



Change … an About F.A.C.E.

Life and it’s circumstances continuously offers us opportunities to change. Change might means that we need let go of the past and move forward. It could mean that we need a  new perspective on an old problem, a new idea, or simply the willingness to change by trying something different. Regardless of the change that may need to take place in our lives, the fact is that each of us deals with change in a different manner.

The good news is that we have choices in how we F.A.C.E change. We can:

  1. Fear it –  We can run, we can hide, we can pretend like it’s not happening and that we don’t have to change.
  2. Accept it – We can agree that it’s there and that maybe, possibly, someday, we might have to adapt … or not.
  3. Challenge it – We can confront it, fight it, and try to convince ourselves and everybody else around us why it     doesn’t apply to us or why we don’t need to change.
  4. Embrace it – We can wrap our arms around it and look for the gifts that this new opportunity might bring us.
So which do you choose most frequently? Do you find yourself clinging to the past, hoping that nothing will change? Or do you lean so far into the change that you can’t go back?
A few questions …
  1. What would you do if you could not fail?
  2. What if you believed that you were so powerful that you could change your life TODAY!
  3. What if you made a decision to not just F.A.C.E. change but actually embraced it?
Now wouldn’t that be something!


I Was Sick … But I’ve Been Keured!!

I’m Sick!

Approximately 14 months ago I had a routine physical. It’s now over a year later and I am still trying to get the insurance company (Aetna) the lab (Sonora Quest) and the doctors office to cover the cost of the blood work on a routine physical examination which is included in my plan.

Over the course of the year on multiple conference calls about improper coding and who’s to blame between the 3 of them, I have on numerous times heard the following statements:

  1. “I’m so sorry Mr. Contrera, I promise I will get this handled”
  2. “I promise to call you back”
  3. “We value you as a customer!”

The most recent conversation went something like this: “Mr Contrera has anyone ever told you that your plan has a $200 limit for a physical examination and that includes the Doctors visit, consultation, and any blood work associated with your visit?”

My response, “So let me see if I understand you, I’ve payed you over $6000.00 in premiums, I go to the doctor once a year for a physical, and it’s not covered because you limit the cost to a paltry $200 which barely covers the cost of walking in his office? AND it took you 14 months to come up with that brilliant answer? Well to be honest … that’s makes me sick!”

The Problem:

  1. The issue is still not resolved.
  2. No one has ever called me back when they said they would, I’ve always had to call them back to follow up.
  3. I will never do business with the doctor, the insurance company, or Sonora Quest Laboratories again!

I’ve Been Keured!!

Over a year ago I bought a Keurig coffee maker which just recently stopped working. When I called on March 17th and was asked when I purchased my machine I told them the truth, March 10 th of last year (It carries a 1 year limited warranty). Bottom line: I was beyond the warranty period.

To my surprise Amy the young lady on the phone turned me over to Frank the technical expert who walked me through a process and then said, “Well Mr Contrera looks like we’ll have to replace the machine,  let’s get you taken care of!”

Today is March 23rd I have a brand new Keurig coffeemaker sitting on my counter … it showed up yesterday, within 5 days of my conversation with customer service. It carries a brand new 1 year warranty.

The Lesson:

  1. Buying a new Keurig coffee machine over a year ago … $154.00.
  2. Enjoying a freshly brewed cup of chocolate raspberry coffee on my brand new Keurig coffeemaker this morning …. $0.00!
  3. Having a customer for life … priceless!!

Why is it that some companies “get it” and some companies don’t? You and your company make decisions everyday that communicate to your customers whether you value them or you don’t.

How you treat your customers determines whether you find yourself continuously replacing the ones that you’ve lost (as a result of delivering poor products or providing lousy service) or actually growing your loyal customer base and your sales revenue.

How Do Treat Your Customers?

  1. Do you make it difficult to resolve problems your customers have with your products or your service?
  2. Do you misrepresent the truth or hide it in the small print or in a fast talking words of the announcer at the end of a commercial?
  3. Are you flexible with your policies living by the spirit of the law rather than the law?
  4. Are the people who interact with your customers the most (customer service, inside salespeople, accounting, etc.) trained and knowledgeable or do they make promises that they don’t keep and give answers simply to get the customer off the phone?
  5. Do you have customers for life or customers for the moment?

Remember: It costs 5 times more to find a new customer than it is does to keep an old one!

One last thing: Did I tell you that my Keurig coffee machine makes the best coffee I’ve ever brewed at home … I highly recommend that you buy one … it is well worth the investment!



C.Y.A.

CYA … Choose Your Attitude!

Sometimes thing happen life that don’t feel good, we don’t like, or we don’t understand why this had to happen to us.

The truth is that even though we may not like what happened we can always choose how we will respond to that particular situation or event. We choose what we make it mean and what we make it means determines our attitude.

Waking up on the wrong side of the bed is simply another way for saying that you’re choosing a bad attitude. The attitude you choose each and every morning can determine the quality of your day,  your week, your month, and your year.  The average person living in the United States will experience approximately 28,616 mornings. That’s 28,616 opportunities to wake up on the right side of the bed.

American author and clergymen Chuck Swindoll said this about attitude:

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.”

So what about you, how’s your attitude? Do you choose your attitude or do you give your power away and let someone or some external factor determine your attitude?

5 Things You Can Do To Shift Your Attitude:

  1. Decide: make a decision to choose differently. Remember that you hold the power to determine your attitude. Doing this will bring the power inside of you instead of allowing an outside factor to determine your attitude and your results.
  2. Do something physical, exercise, go for a walk just move! Physical activity can shift your attitude and get you moving forward.
  3. Pet Therapy … in other words go spend time with a pet. If you’ve ever noticed, animals, particularly dogs, don’t walk around with bad attitudes they just want to play. They want to chase a stick and bring it back, they want to play with their friends or the friend at the park they haven’t met yet. Watch them, observe them, you might learn something!
  4. If you wake up in the morning on the wrong side of the bed. Get undressed crawl back into bed and roll over to the other side and get out on that side telling yourself, “this is the side I needed to get out on, this is perfect!”  You think I’m kidding … I’m not! It’s called anchoring and it’s about tying a physical object or activity to a different way of thinking.
  5. Affirmations: before you go to sleep at night, tell yourself that tomorrow you’re going to wake up rested, refreshed , and with an attitude of joy and happiness regardless of what happens!

A  Brooklyn New York homemaker born in 1927 who once described herself  “As an overweight woman, married to an overweight husband, surrounded by overweight friends.” She also said, “It’s choice–not chance–that determines your destiny.”

Jean Nidetch is the founder of Weight Watchers, one of the most successful weight loss programs in the world. Based on her words and action she apparently chose a different attitude one day and started a business that not only changed her life but changed the lives of millions of people around the world! 

So what are you waiting for? You know what you need to do … when will you take that first step?

Maybe you just need to decide that you want an extraordinary life.

If that’s the case … remember that it all starts with your attitude … and that my friends all starts with you!