6 Ways to Speak Like You Mean It

Repetition can be a useful communication tool, but if you find that you constantly needing to repeat yourself, your communication style may be to blame. By following the six part “speak like you mean it” framework you can spend less time repeating yourself, and more time on what matters.

  1. Be authentic. Be true to who you are when you communicate.
  2. Be clear. Think about the recipient, is your message clear to them?
  3. Use influence. What does your message mean for your team? Keep it relevant and influential to what’s going on now.
  4. Inspire. When your team member feels it, they’re more likely to be part of it.
  5. Use physical and vocal energy. Your body language and tone help you connect with your message recipient.
  6. Bring the conversation to life. Stories, anecdotes, and metaphors make the conversation more relatable.

By using this framework, you can get your message across most effectively. Staying on the same page with your team takes work, but speaking like you mean it can make things easier!

“If you aren’t authentic and people don’t feel that you’re being real, it’s a little bit like a dart hitting a dartboard, but there’s no point on it… you can’t connect with somebody who’s not real.”
— Melissa Gordon

Adapted from Leadercast.

28 Top Books to Get Ahead in 2018

28 Top Books to Get Ahead in 2018

2018 is an open book of possibilities, and it’s time to start reading! Reading is known to be one of the primary habits of ultra-successful people, and can open up a world of new ideas and new possibilities.

Start off the New Year right by resolving to read! Here is a list of 28 business books to add to your tablet (or your night stand):

  1. Outside Insight: Navigating a World Drowning in Data by Jørn Lyseggen
  2. Hug Your Haters by Jay Baer
  3. Superconnector: Stop Networking and Start Building Business Relationships by Scott Gerber and Ryan Paugh
  4. Selling Vision by Lou Schachter and Rick Cheatam
  5. Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant.
  6. The Startup Hero’s Pledge by Tim Draper
  7. Leading Through the Turn: How a Journey Mindset Can Help Leaders Find Success and Significance by Elise Mitchell
  8. Surviving the Tech Storm: Strategy in Times of Technological Uncertainty by Nicklas Bergman
  9. Performance Partnerships: The Checkered Past, Changing Present and Exciting Future of Affiliate Marketing by Robert Glazer
  10. They Ask, You Answer by Marcus Sheridan
  11. Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change by Ellen Pao
  12. The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone by Brian Merchant
  13. Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott
  14. You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth by Jen Sincero
  15. Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness
  16. Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong by Eric Barker
  17. Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
  18. Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies by Geoffrey West.
  19. The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World’s Greatest Teams by Sam Walker.
  20. The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World by Brad Stone
  21. Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age by Jeff Goins
  22. What To Do When Machines Do Everything: How to Get Ahead in a World of AI, Algorithms, Bots, and Big Data by Malcolm Frank, Paul Roehrig, and Ben Pring
  23. Learn Better: Mastering the Skills for Success in Life, Business, and School, or, How to Become an Expert in Just About Anything by Ulrich Boser
  24. Sensemaking: The Power of the Humanities in the Age of the Algorithm by Christian Madsbjerg
  25. Spark: How to Lead Yourself and Others to Greater Success by Angie Morgan, Courtney Lynch, Sean Lynch and Frederick W. Smith
  26. The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone by Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach
  27. Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction by Derek Thompson
  28. Giftology: The Art and Science of Using Gifts to Cut Through the Noise, Increase Referrals, and Strengthen Retention by John Ruhlin

That should get you started for a great year of exploring new ideas and experiencing new challenges!

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” – Amelia Earhart

10 Simple Tricks to Maximize Your Mental Strength

man reaching for sky

Great leaders stand out for their ability to disrupt the status quo. They have the courage to make bold moves, and to innovate new solutions to old problems. Where others see impenetrable barriers, they see challenges to overcome.

This knack for seizing opportunity when things look bleak is not an innate ability that a fortunate few are born with. Instead, it represents a mental strength that is built over time and economically used. Developing mental strength takes intention, focus, and daily practice; and so does spending your mental resources wisely. Start with these 10 practices to work out your mental muscles, and to make the most out of the mental energy you have:

  1. Establish goals: with each goal you achieve, you’ll gain more confidence in your ability to succeed.
  2. Set yourself up for success: Stop wasting your energy resisting temptation or trying to find the tools you need. Want to eat better? Stock your pantry with healthy food. Want to limit distractions? Place your phone in a drawer.
  3. Tolerate discomfort: Don’t let yourself use short-term solutions to address long term problems. Instead, taking care of things the right way the first time, can help you maintain your mental reserves.
  4. Reframe your negative thoughts: Replace overly pessimistic thoughts with more realistic expectations to help you stay on track. “This is too hard to do” becomes “I am going to have to figure out a different approach”.
  5. Seek balance between emotions and logic: You can confidently move forward with decisions when your emotions and logic are in sync. Strive for a balance that allows you to live compassionately and rationally.
  6. Work towards your purpose: Write out your personal mission statement to remind yourself why it’s important you keep going, and to help you spend your mental energy where it matters most.
  7. Look for reasons, not excuses: Acknowledge and face your mistakes so you can learn from them and avoid repeating them in the future; without wasting energy dwelling on them.
  8. Say no: When you’ve reached your limit, say no with confidence. Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and allows you to successfully fulfill them.
  9. Overcome procrastination: Recognize that there is no magic time in the future where you will suddenly want to do the undesirable task. You are as motivated to complete the task now as you ever will be. Start now, and get it done! The more your practice this, the easier it becomes.
  10. Take care of yourself physically: Getting enough sleep, and eating the right foods can ensure you have the reserves you need to keep going, even as things get tough!

“I attribute my success to this – I never gave or took any excuse” – Florence Nightingale

Be a Backpack Buddy and Aha! Leadership Will Match Your Donation

Girl picture backpack buddy

Be a Beacon of Hope! Reach Out to Support Low Income Students this School Year

The students who attend Beacon Elementary in Harper Woods are extraordinary leaders in the making! With the new school year on the horizon, many of Beacon’s students are facing a big challenge: starting the school year off right.

100% of Beacon’s students receive free and reduced lunch. This means all of the students who attend Beacon are provided breakfast, lunch, and a snack daily based on household income. Some of Beacon’s most vulnerable families struggle to provide the basic school supplies. That’s where you come in!

Members of Beacon’s staff are teaming up with Ward Church in Northville to provide 50 backpacks. Each backpack is chock full of the supplies one student needs to thrive this year! While any amount is appreciated, a gift of $25 gives one kid everything they need for the first day of school.

… AND for every child that one of our friends sponsor, Aha! Leadership will sponsor one in kind.

  • Donations can be made online and are tax deductible. Visit this link to make a donation.
  • In “select a designation”, please choose “Outreach Backpack Drive”

Together we can help develop future leaders!

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples.” -Mother Teresa

10 Things that Require Zero Talent


Being a leader is about using influence to implement decisions and to gain support for ideas and vision. Especially when it comes to leadership, actions speak louder than words; and when it comes to changing behaviors, oftentimes the best way to lead is by example. You can set that example starting today by following the ten things that require zero talent:

  1. Be on time
  2. Make an effort
  3. Be high energy
  4. Have a positive attitude
  5. Be passionate
  6. Have a positive work ethic
  7. Have effective body language
  8. Be coachable
  9. Do extra
  10. Be prepared

Click here to download the full White Paper to learn about influence and power, as well as the three most effective ways to influence people.


“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” – Leonardo da Vinci

6 Key Tips for Leading by Example

1. Establish an impeccable standard of excellence.
Set high expectations at the outset and raise the bar on any crucial factors. The best way to establish a standard is by modeling the expected behavior yourself. Showcase excellence. Your actions have the potential to affect everyone around you and the bottom line, don’t dabble in mediocrity.

2. Deliver on results promised.
Able leadership requires an ability to deliver results. Rhetoric has little value if outcomes are what’s essential. Instead of touting wins from past performances, focus on capturing tangible gains now. Harness the power of chunking, a process for organizing tasks and breaking them down into bite-size pieces, to avoid stress and burnout.

3. Value people and nurture relationships.
Top-notch people skills are vital to sound leadership. Develop premium listening, communication and decision-making skill sets. Demonstrate integrity by being open, honest and fair. If you treat people well, most will be encouraged to return the favor.

4. Promote strategic cooperation.
Collaboration is an indispensable component of leadership, this is especially true if you can build high-performing teams. Isn’t it fascinating that no matter how brilliant people are as individuals, they are often far more effective when working with others? People often produce higher quality, more efficient work products when collaborating.

5. Resolve conflict quickly and effectively.
As a core leadership competency, conflict resolution is a delicate process that requires thoughtful intervention. Disagreements naturally occur. But persistent hostility should not be tolerated. The bottom line? Conflict gets in the way of everything else. Thus, your ability to quickly and effectively facilitate resolution will undoubtedly boost your ability to lead.

6. Freely develop and support others.
Professional development is an extraordinary mechanism for facilitating growth. Demonstrate your commitment to growth by prioritizing opportunities for enrichment. Challenge yourself and your team to overcome shortcomings at regular intervals throughout the year. Then acknowledge and reward proactive participation to build enthusiasm.

Author Credit: Karima Mariama-Arthur

My Favorite Books on Leadership Philosophies and Personal Growth

What are some of your career or personal goals?  Become an expert in your field? Or even an expert with your finances? Cooking?

How do you become an expert in your field or area of focus?  Read.  As quoted by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.”

Self-development expert Brian Tracy tells us that, “If you read just one book per month, that will put you into the top 1 percent of income earners in our society.” Now, imagine what would happen if you read one book a week!

If you read 30-60 minutes a day in your chosen field, that translates into 1 book a week, resulting in over 50 books per year.  In three years, that is 150 books in your field or area of focus – quickly allowing you to become an expert in your field.

I know, I know, you don’t have the time to read. I hear that excuse all the time. Try this … listen to audio books.

It works for me. My iPhone is a mobile library.  I listen while I drive around town, cook in the kitchen or even while exercising.  I was able to read five books over Christmas break this way.  There are many online resources for downloading audio books, even your local library might offer them.  If you prefer to read physical books, be sure to set time versus saying you will make time. Schedule your reading – this makes it a routine and it will quickly become a habit.

Twelve books that have shaped my leadership philosophy:

  1. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
  2. The Speed of Trust by Steven M.R Covey
  3. Great by Choice by Jim Collins
  4. Decisive by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  5. 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
  6. The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal by Jim Loehr
  7. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You by John C. Maxwell
  8. Principle-Centered Leadership by Stephen Covey
  9. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry
  10. Entreleadership by Dave Ramsey
  11. How Full Is Your Bucket by Tom Rath
  12. 8 Dimensions of Leadership by Jeffery Sugarman

Three books that have helped me grow as a person:

  1. Jesus Calling by Sara Young
  2. Daring Greatly by Berne Brown
  3. 20,000 Days and Counting by Robert Smith

….and a personal author from my childhood is the beloved Dr. Seuss as he was always very wise – “the more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go”.  Happy reading!

What are your favorite books?

Attitude of Gratitude – Thankful for YOU!

A friend shared a story about how when they feel grateful for even the small things in life, it changes their whole outlook.  It retrains them to think of all the good things in their life versus the things that are wrong, or little annoyances.

He used a shiny plastic gem.  I have heard others just carrying a small stone in their pocket, etc.   The purpose is to carry it wherever he goes-whenever he touches it in his pocket, it reminds her to be thankful regardless of the good or bad of what is happening at the moment.

This simple act changes his perspective – to a thankful attitude.  Thankful for what he has, instead of lacks.

We may think we lack so much….wish we had a different job, or that our kids behaved better, or were heading off on vacation for the holidays. It certainly does not dismiss the pain and suffering that some people may be experiencing, especially at this time of year, but all this “lack” thinking depletes us.

The gratitude stone is one tool that helped my friend, and believes it will be a life-changing experience if we all give it a try.  As 2014 comes to a close, let me challenge you to push the pause button and write down ten items you are thankful for right now. I know one at the top of my list….it is all of you – thank you for your business, or being a participant in various training programs, or even just reading this newsletter to inspire yourselves and others.  I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Robyn Marcotte
Founder, Aha! Leadership

Concentration Busters

Many people start projects with good intentions but struggle to stay on track.

Here are a few of the most common concentration busters that throw people off schedule:

  • Social media and email. Avoid logging into social media and checking email when you’re working on a project. Consider turning off your alerts and possibly even Wi-Fi. If you feel compelled to check your email, wait until breaks throughout the day.
  • Multitasking. While people often think they can accomplish more in less time by 8047b7b9-2bd5-4800-bf30-dff0253cd2a7multitasking, they lose time when shifting attention from one task to another. Try to devote your time to one solid project and see how much further you can get.
  • Hunger. Remember to always eat breakfast and snack on high-protein items, such as cheese and nuts; and always choose complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains.
  • Disorganization. Rather than attacking the day’s projects randomly, take some time to organize your deadlines, projects, and plan of attack. Rank them in order of importance, and always tackle the hardest projects first.
  • Cell phones. Utilize caller ID and let calls go to voicemail. Silence your phone so you can have distraction free time.
  • Lack of sleep. Most adults need a solid seven to nine hours of sleep each night to fully recharge. If you feel exhausted and tired, your body and mind will benefit from some extra sleep.
  • Dehydration. Drink water. Even mild dehydration can cause inattention.
  • Clutter. It can be hard to focus on the task at hand in a room full of cluttered items, so try to work in rooms that are well organized and de-cluttered.

Congratulations, You’re the Boss Now

Help for those Managing Former Peers

ManagerHave you ever been in a situation where you were asked to step in and lead a team you were once part of as a peer?

Making this transition from team member to team leader can be a tricky one.  You go from being one of the group; hanging out at lunch or in the break room, to being “management” and the relationship changes.  At times this feels like an overnight transformation as your once“lunch-buddy” group is now treating you like an outsider.

How do you navigate this situation?  Are there some ways to make it easier?

Here are some tips for managing your former peers that can help things transition more smoothly.  By the way, these tips apply to ALL LEADERS very well:

  1. Address the change immediately and openly.  Share your excitement to earn the respect of your team.
  2. Acknowledge that your relationship with former peers has changed.
  3. Accept that there may be mixed feelings about your promotion:  people may be happy for you, at the same time, wondering what they were not selected to receive the promotion.
  4. Meet with each team member privately and ask what issues or concerns the person may have.
  5. Engage each team member – learn what excites, motivated and inspired him or her.
  6. Show that you deserve the promotion by demonstrating the skills, knowledge and abilities that go along with your new role.
  7. Focus on earning people’s respect, not being everyone’s friend.
  8. Be your authentic self: don’t radically change your behavior.
  9. Resist the urge to share information inappropriately. True friends will not force you to choose between friendship and career.
  10. Be honest about what you know and don’t know.
  11. Be willing to listen for understanding and value other’s opinions.
  12. Do not treat your friends on the team differently than how you treat others.
  13. Deal with tension by speaking directly and privately with former peers.
  14. Be physically and emotionally present during interactions.
  15. Include your skeptics in decision making; take initiative to turn them into supporters.
  16. Be understanding.  Give former peers time to adapt to your new role on the team.