Roy Kent, your inner voice…

“Hey, Siri. Play the ‘Roy Is Sorry For Not Understanding Keeley’ Playlist” – Roy Kent

If you haven’t seen Ted Lasso yet on Apple TV, you’re really missing out. A show about football, the proper kind, and so much more. One of the characters, Roy Kent, based on real-life Roy Keane, instantly became my favorite.

He says what my inside voice thinks.

You see, it turns out that Roy Kent is both a real hard-a$$ on the pitch and in the locker room, yet has a soft heart when it comes to those he loves.

“What do you have to be sad about? Did one of the Paw Patrol dogs die?” – Roy Kent

We all have that inner voice – you know the one – that tells you what you should be doing, or should say, but then you hold it back and temper yourself.

Roy Kent doesn’t.

Should you?

“Have some f*&king pride in your shirt or don’t f*&king wear it.” – Roy Kent


It’s probably a good idea to listen to that voice sometimes, and certainly, let it out in private, or with a trusted colleague, or even better, with your therapist.

Roy Kent is about as blunt as they come, and he says it straight to your face with no fear of repercussion.

In today’s world, and especially in a leadership role, it’s good to hold on to Roy and let him inspire you perhaps, but best to polish the message a bit before it hits your lips.

Unless you’re talking about love, I suppose. Then Roy can be a real inspiration, and you should just let it rip.

“You deserve someone who makes you feel like you’ve been struck by f*&king lightning. Don’t you dare settle for fine.”

You deserve to have an inner Roy. And when it comes to love, life, and the pursuit of happiness, don’t settle for less than you want…It’s there for you, just waiting.

Oh, and don’t forget. Roy gets stuff done by being everywhere! So get busy, go lead, and push those goals of yours…

Need that playlist? I got you fam…

Roy Is Sorry For Not Understanding Keely” on Spotify


Cheap Thrills & Happiness

Come on, come on, turn the radio on
It’s Friday night, and it won’t be long
Gotta do my hair, put my make-up on
It’s Friday night, and it won’t be long

Happiness comes from inside you.

And lucky for you, you have everything it takes to be happy. Right now. Where you are. In whatever situation you’re in. Just be the you that you are, can be, should be… to honor yourself.

All it takes is a little perspective.

A company lunch is nice, convenient, and might even feature your favorite dish. But it won’t make you happy in the long run.

A t-shirt or hoodie with a slogan works the same way. It’ll keep you looking snazzy, and keeps you warm and cozy during an autumn hike. But happiness?

If you believe that happiness comes from an external source – money, fame, a nice house… you mistake those feelings and those attributes for what really matters.

Happiness is something you have total control over. And it doesn’t require anyone else (if you don’t want it too).

Feel the beat in your chest, beat your chest like an animal
Free the beast from its cage, free the rage like an animal

Free yourself. Be happy. Take charge of your happiness, and complement your journey with the partners it takes to make it happen. Invite others to be happy with you, too.


“Avoid people who are unhappy and disgruntled about the possibilities of transformation.. they are the enemy of the spirit…”

– Christoper Emdin

Baby, I don’t need dollar bills to have fun tonight

But I don’t need no money
As long as I can feel the beat
I don’t need no money
As long as I keep dancing…

Feel the beat. Keep dancing. Make your own happiness.

You’ve got this.

All lyrics by Sia…


If you want to…

Three things to come to terms with, today:

(1) If they wanted to, they would…

and so,

If you want to, then do it.

(2) No response is a response.

and so,

How will you respond?

(3) Not everyone is like you, and share your vision, drive, or passion.

and so,

How will you deal with that, and what will you do about it?

The next moves are up to you. Own your future by controlling your emotions, your reactions, and your long-term strategies now. Best of luck!

Inspired by


For the last time…

At some point, it’ll be the last time you talk to someone. See them. Deliver a product. Crush an objective. And then, you move on…

If you get stuck in those feelings – not knowing when that last time is (you won’t) and worrying too much (no reason to), it might mess with your mental health a bit.

So learn to let go.

Learn to live in the now, and embrace what’s around the corner.

Never mind the “what could’ve been…

But remember…

Last impressions matter, too. It’s how you build your legacy.


That first sip feeling…

Is it possible to offer that “first sip feeling” every time you’re with someone? That top-of-the-line customer service & expertise. That caffeinated boost of sweet sips of you that hits just so…

It might be.

Or it might be exhausting.

It all depends on how you view your own brand, and how you drive your vision & missions fueled by your passion.

So the next time you’re next to those you lead, why not serve something extra special? Just the right blend of strawberries and lemonade. Maybe a dash of mint?

Ready? Execute.



What road will you take?

When I was in basic training in Fort Knox, KY in 1997, my platoon sergeant was Drill Sergeant First Class Raphael Coppin.

He was a hard man. A man of conviction, discipline, and non-stop energy for flutter kicks, side straddle hops, or everyone’s favorite – the push-up!

He was also a little bit paranoid. Or so I thought…

Drill Sergeant Coppin would share with us all the lessons of life, military lore and history, and how to do combat on a daily basis.

A seasoned warfighter himself, he and another 11 Drill Sergeants in our troop had seen action in the 1990-1991 Gulf War.

War, combat, and chemical weapons were real to them, and I suspect he only wanted to prepare us for what came next.

One story in particular, or directive more like it, was centered around how he traveled to work each day at Fort Knox. He never, obviously, shared where he lived, but I suspect he was off-base somewhere.

“Never take the same road to someplace!” he would say. “Never!”

“Always have a backup plan, and keep switching routes. That way, the enemy doesn’t know what to suspect. It makes it harder for them to plan your death.”

I was 17, and had never thought about alternative routes to places I went to, or why, or how to make it a habit.

Drill Sergeant Coppin instilled more than his version of paranoia in me that summer. Let’s unpack the route choices a bit…

(1) First – to be able to take a different route each day to work, what do you have to know?

You have to be aware of your surroundings, and you have to widen your scope of what’s possible, what’s available, and what works.

(2) Second – the discipline to execute.

Sure, it’s easier to keep driving the same route to work each day… to forget what happens between home and away… and that’s when you become complacent and hit a deer… or a landmine!

(3) Third – make a habit out of knowing your surroundings, and reacting to danger, to new information, to clues about what’s up ahead, or what action to take in case of hostile intent.

In other words, prepare to be successful more often than not.

We all thought he was a little crazy. He would PT us for hours for no reason, or add in ‘bonus’ mileage to the road march because “It will be good for you, Private!”

And turns out, it was.

I am better off today because of him, and his teachings, and think of him every once in a while when I turn left instead of right at the end of my street…just to mess with chance.

I now act with purpose, with a plan, and with the knowledge that there are more choices than the default.

I’ve also learned to look for the small details, the pieces and parts that make up the whole, and take steps to exploit what can be. Like your route to work…

How will you get to work on Monday morning? Maybe there’s a better way… And whatever you do, don’t be predictable!

The Ghost of Coppin might be right around the corner to correct you, and having a few plans up your sleeve might not be so crazy after all…

Set the PACE, then execute!

RIP Raphael L. Coppin, 1SG, 19Z, 1959-2003, Fort Knox, KY


Do you even lift, bruh?

Remember back in the day? Back when Super Mario Bros. was a thing, and you and your neighbors played for hours and hours without the ability to save?

“Mom, dad – I’m gonna speed-run Super Mario Odyssey on the Switch today! Ok?”

“Ok? It’s Saturday, so do whatever you want…? Need help?”

“Yes – can you time me?”

Having a limited understanding of what speed runs are, we agreed to time Oskar in his attempt to do something we knew little about. After all, he was in our living room, safe, and seemed happy about his attempt.

Three hours later, or “sub-three” as he put it, he was done. Done with what, you ask?

The whole game.

Not just level 2-2 from Super Mario Bros. which is where I tapped out in the 1980s… no, the WHOLE GAME!

Oskar played every level, every mission, every objective. In less than three hours. Unreal.

Turns out there’s even a speed run tracker ( where you can log, track, and see others’ attempts.

And here’s the takeaway / reflection…

We’re dealing with different kids these days, with skill sets far beyond those of our childhood. Kids that are able to solve problems, navigate obstacles, and make things happen outside of our own imaginations, and in very different ways than we experienced being 11.

How are you going to deal with that? How can we help them capitalize on their skill? How will the world change from here on out?

“The whole game, Oskar?”


I stood there in awe for a minute or two, reflecting on my own inadequacy in the videogame arena as a child.

He’s going places, that’s for sure. But likely, not the same places I’ve been, and that’s ok, too! I can’t wait to see what game he speed-runs next…


What’s holding you back?

I drove on the Ohio Turnpike this morning, and after a tense weaving in-and-out-of cones, dodging traffic and rain showers, I finally got to my exit.

And had to wait…

  • Do you have solutions, but others aren’t ready to implement?
  • Are you able to see the vision, but others just can’t figure it out?
  • Is the path clear for you, but murky for others?

What’s holding you back?

How can you communicate your needs, your vision, your solution in such a way that a few more lanes open up, and possibilities begin to emerge? What questions would help clarify?

And even if all the lanes finally open, are you ready to go around when conditions change last minute?

Or do you wait in line to get there? Patiently, nerves twitching, and emotions building, an explosion of frustration nearby?

For most projects, like the Turnpike, do we even need gates to hold people back from performing? Can’t we just trust those around us to do the right thing, to drive the mission, to launch the project, and to help the whole team excel?

I think we can.

PS – If you don’t have an EZ Pass, please get one


16habits ajoBlog

Are you impulsive?

“Make it habitual.” – Jocko

Research on thinking and behavior reveals some identifiable characteristics of effective thinkers. It is not necessarily scientists, artists, mathematicians, or the wealthy who demonstrate these behaviors. They have been found in mechanics, teachers, entrepreneurs, salespeople, and parents – people in all walks of life.

The second one – managing impulses.

Good problem solvers have a sense of careful deliberation. They think before they act. They intentionally form a vision of a product, a plan of action, a goal, or a destination before they begin.

They strive to clarify and understand directions, develop a strategy for approaching a problem, and withhold value judgments until they fully understand the idea.

I’ve learned a lot about myself and my need to improve my listening skills in just the last two weeks. In separate instances, I’ve been fortunate to receive some coaching, some insight, and some advice on how to be a better listener, and how to listen for understanding, not just fixing, solving, go do…

I’ve written before on not responding immediately, and saying “I don’t know, but let me find out…” and it remains solid advice.

By waiting, and not responding, or responding with a request for more, and with a side-step “let me check,” you gain some time to compose yourself, think deeper about a proper response, and gain time to formulate a [better] plan.

Responding immediately often sprinkles too much emotion [Red Hat] in your answer, and can ratchet up the tension between you and the other side.

An exercise I was presented with this week helped me better clarify (to myself) how I engage in conversation with others, and what my mind does when listening.

Listening to your own listening (meta?), and activity in the Onward workbook by Elena Aguilar asked me to think about the mental journey my mind takes while listening.

Do I make a connection, and want to interject immediately? Do I want to fix it, right now? Do I disagree, and wait for an opportunity to say so? Am I uncomfortable listening?

I, for sure, reach for the “fix it” mode often, but through this exercise, I gained some clarity, and allowance, to just listen to understand.

What about you?

Listen to learn more, and listen as a partner.

I tend to put on a critical hat (black, blue), too, more so than disagree and come up with a bunch of plans, reasons, and issues that might present themselves later.

All are based on reality, as I don’t care for hypothetical scenarios, these critical inflections come from experiences and historical analogs. This is what happened last time we…

So what did I learn about my listening, and how to manage my impulses when it comes to immediate responses?

I need to wait. Ask more questions. Restate their thoughts, feelings, concerns, questions, and objectives.

Just like I’m being persistent in my craft, I will continue to seek advice and feedback about my soft skills, and manage my impulsive desires to fix and solve.

Those qualities are good, no doubt, but others have valid contributions, too, and I could do a better job in making sure they’re heard, really listened to, and part of an even better solution and future together.

How are you managing your impulses?

16habits ajoBlog

Are you persistent? And are you smart about it?

I keep coming back to the 16 Habits of Mind by Costa and Kallick, and even now, after 10+ years of being out of the traditional K-12 classroom, I find that they still apply.

I used to work these habits into my daily lessons with kids, to better prepare them for what lies ahead, and to kickstart their metacognition about what it means to be a student.

The Habits apply equally to adults. So, here’s a review of the Habits, and I’ll tackle each one in the next few (16 weeks).

Research on thinking and behavior reveals some identifiable characteristics of effective thinkers. It is not necessarily scientists, artists, mathematicians, or the wealthy who demonstrate these behaviors. They have been found in mechanics, teachers, entrepreneurs, salespeople, and parents – people in all walks of life.

The first one – about persisting.

Why? Because I’m in a session this morning with the Jennings Foundation focused on resilience and preventing burnout, and keeping our healthy emotions in check.

Resilience is similar to persisting, I think. So here we go…

Good problem solvers stick to a task until it is completed. They don’t give up easily. They are able to analyze a problem and develop a system, structure, or strategy to attack it. They have a repertoire and employ a range of alternative approaches. They collect evidence that their strategy is working; if one doesn’t work, they know how to back up and try another.

Persisting is the drive to keep going. Persisting is the ability to make it happen even when others say “no way” or “it can’t be done!”

But, those that are persistent aren’t dumb. They don’t keep pushing when data tells them otherwise. They know when to stop, rethink, review, and realign.

Persistence comes from experience and having the right support structures, and access to resources. Without those building blocks, you’ll just tread water until your head dips below, and you burn out, fail miserably, or quit for no reason.

And you know what? Quitting is okay. It’s always an option. Persistence is about leading smart, and knowing when to pull the plug, or when to add fuel.

The gap in between is the knowledge and experience that what you do will work, so it’s worth pushing forward, or it’s not, and let’s go do something else.

Are you persistent? And are you smart about it?