Take the Gold

“Within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.” – Ryan Holiday

New Year’s Eve 2020 was like that frat party in college where the kegs kicked and the police showed up at the same time.

Everyone wanted out.

And we dashed to the exits at midnight full speed.

Good riddance. 

2020 did an amazing job smashing most of our plans. 

But we survived.

Now it’s time to turn the page.

Before we drag 2020 out to the curb with our dead Christmas tree, we need to do one thing. 

TAKE THE GOLD with us.

There’s a saying from Ben Franklin, who was no stranger to challenging years, “The things which hurt, instruct.”

2020 was a fantastic teacher.

It did an incredible job of showing us our weaknesses. 

It tested our mental and physical health.

Punched our daily routines in the throat.

And tried it’s best to cross collar choke our businesses. 

It forced us to evolve or become irrelevant.

But OBSTACLES also have a positive side.    

They not only obstruct, they instruct.

Obstacles show us what we need to change

In The Obstacle Is the Way, Ryan Holiday writes that obstacles can teach us a better way.

“What impedes us can also empower us.”

When we are forced to find new ways of doing things, progress is not far behind.

Here are 3 GOLD NUGGETS I am bringing into the new year:

LESS COMMITMENTS

We stopped trying to be everywhere.

2020 crushed our superficial relationships.

Which is NOT a bad thing.

No driving an hour each way to that party you did not want to attend on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

There was less work travel because we found out that not all meetings need to be live. 

We got to hang out and spend quality time with our number one customer – our family.

We did less and learned to do it better. 

THE GREAT OUTDOORS

Fire pits on a Friday night with your friends.

Long hikes with your family on Christmas Day.

Outdoor bike rides in December.

These are no longer just for people in the OC. 

You may need to dress in 6 layers for the Philly winter, but 2020 showed us that the great outdoors is the gym that never closes and never charges a monthly fee.

BUY TIME BACK  

Time is our most precious asset.

No one ever has enough of it. 

2020 taught us that we can delegate out time drains like market trips and Costco runs.   

I never realized how much time was wasted going food shopping. 

Now the market gets dropped off at your doorstep with a few taps of your phone. 

If we save just an hour per week NOT going to the market, that’s over 2 full days you just bought back to do whatever you please in 2021.

Word.

Years like 2020 show us what we need to change.

They show us a better way. 

The new year is in front of us.

Time to turn the page.

Just TAKE THE GOLD with you.

#TakeTheGold

Wish you an amazing 2021!

Joe Ciccarone

www.SalesVibe.Blog

50 Lessons on the Path to 50

50 Lessons on the Path to 50

“If a man looks at the world at fifty the same way he looked at it when he was twenty and hasn’t changed, he wasted thirty years of his life.” – Muhammad Ali

Welcome to The Vibe!

The blog that believes age is a MINDSET.

Each week we discuss an IDEA that helps you live a better life.

This week’s topic is 50 Lessons on the Path to 50.

But let’s keep this “turning 50” thing between us.

Deal?

The Vibe: 50 Lessons on the Path to 50

Here are 50 Lessons on the Path to 50.

Some of these are lessons that have stuck with me since childhood.

Others were realized only after MISTAKES and FAILURES.

These IDEAS can help you live a better life no matter what age they are put into use.

Your results may vary.

#50For50

Joe Ciccarone

www.SalesVibe.Blog

Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad

Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad

“Now don’t be sad, cause two out of three ain’t bad.” Meatloaf, Bat Out of Hell

Welcome to The Vibe!

The blog that believes the kids should be back in school while still not letting anyone inside their home.

Each week we discuss ONE IDEA that will help you live a better life.

This week’s topic is your FIRST DOG.  

And why sometimes “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad.” 

The Vibe: Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad

We adopted our first dog.

She’s was an 85 pound lab rescue.

The experiment lasted 68 hours.  

The dog went back with the foster, ready to be adopted again.

Never Say Never

Rewind 10 years back.

The year was 2010.

It was the year the iPad was released.

The cast of MTV’s Jersey Shore fist pumped on the board walk.

And every mom in the suburbs sang along to Train’s “Hey, Soul Sister”.

That’s about the time I went on record saying I had ZERO interest in doing any of the following: 

  1. Move.
  2. Have a 3rd kid.
  3. Get a dog.

So funny…

Let’s start with the fact that I am writing this while looking out to the back yard of the house we bought two summers ago as my 8 year old is doing cart wheels next to me.

The new home is great.

Having a third kid is awesome.

Getting the dog?  

Well…

Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad.

Pandemic Puppy

I started hearing whispers of us needing a puppy a few days into the COVID-19 shutdown.

Two of our kids talked about it non-stop.

After weeks of them asking, we agreed to start “looking” for a “small, little puppy” on two conditions:

  1. The kids would do the majority of the work.
  2. They would stop asking us about getting a puppy.

We soon found that trying to get a puppy during a pandemic was like buying a house in a seller’s market.

There was very little inventory.

And the good ones went really fast.

We missed out on the first 5 little dogs we applied for.

Then the next thing you know, we are pulling up to a farm about an hour from our house to meet an 85 pound lab rescue.

Her name was Willow.

We spent about 30 minutes petting and playing with her.

Willow was friendly, a bit assertive, and about an 8.5 on the energy scale.

Oh…

And definitely NOT small.

The foster told us there were 2 other families coming to meet her after us.

We got back in the car with a decision to make.

Two of our kids were SO EXCITED.

They were ALL IN.

It didn’t feel right to me.

But I wanted to give our kids an experience I never had as a child.

So I broke the cardinal rule I run decisions like this one through…

“If it’s not “Hell Yeah!”, it’s a definite “No”.

I went along and said “Let’ do it!”

68 Hours

We had a few days before Willow was going to be officially ours.

So we geared up by buying every conceivable toy, leash, and other dog swag at PetsMart.

We also took a crash course in dog training by watching Brandon McMillion’s Master Class.

It was the equivalent of watching a few Jiu Jitsu videos on YouTube before jumping into the Purple Belt division of a BJJ tournament.

Three Words come to mind…

Brace for impact.

The foster, who was fantastic, dropped off the dog to our house late on a Friday afternoon.

To make things extra interesting, our lawn was aerated a few hours before Willow arrived.

We had no idea if we were scooping up dog or dirt.

Willow immediately took to my wife and I.

She wanted little to do with our kids no matter how much they tried to engage her.

We quickly realized our youngest kid, who was the most excited about getting a dog, could not even walk her.

The dog was too strong & energetic.

By the end of the second day, my wife and I were doing the majority of the work for a dog we got for our kids.

By the end of third day, we were realizing that we may have bit off more dog bone than we could chew.

To cap off our third night together, some neighbors started shooting off fireworks.

Uggh.

I heard about dogs not liking fireworks, but now got to see it first hand in our living room.

After the fireworks calmed down, we all looked at each other.

It was time to change course.

We called the foster.

We both agreed it was best if the dog went to another family.

That next day our entire crew played with Willow one last time before the foster picked her up.

Our three days of furry chaos was coming to a close.

When Willow saw the foster in our driveway, she took off, leaped into her car and never looked back.

No offense taken.

As they pulled away I was somewhere between SAD and RELIEVED.

Thank you for being our first dog.

Wish you an amazing life.

#TwoOutOfThreeAintBad

Joe Ciccarone

http://www.SalesVibe.Blog

A Long Strange Trip

A Long Strange Trip

“What a long strange trip it’s been.” – Jerry Garcia

Welcome to The Vibe!

The blog that refuses to get a haircut until this whole quarantine thing is over.

Each week we discuss ONE IDEA that will help you live a better life.

This week’s topic is A LONG STRANGE TRIP.

The Vibe:  A Long Strange Trip

Last week I was standing in the produce aisle.

I looked up and saw a man quickly walk into the market. 

He was wearing a camouflage jacket, camouflage baseball hat, gloves and a black bandana pulled up over his face.

My first thought was “active shooter”.

I was ready to dive behind the avocado table.

But then the man grabs a shopping basket.

He starts examining the blueberries.

All good.

No threat.

Just a guy buying blueberries while rocking out his version of pandemic gear.    

The past 70+ days have been A LONG STRANGE TRIP.

Restaurants shutting down. 

No graduations parties.

No baseball. 

No jiu jitsu class.

Drive-by birthdays.

And the final insult…

Washing off your groceries (I hate you Covid-19). 

Not fun.

To say this summer may be different is like saying the next Pope may be Catholic.

A friend asked me a question that really made me think.

“Do you want your post-lockdown life to look more like it did before or now?” 

At first, I thought my friend may have had a high fever.    

But when I thought about it, it was a real POWER QUESTION

The past few months were rough.

An invisible virus shut down the entire planet. 

Everyone’s life changed overnight. 

But a crazy experience like this can be an amazing teacher.

What do we need more of in our lives? 

What do we need less of? 

Ben Franklin, no stranger to uncertainty, wrote, “Those things that hurt, instruct.”  

Look back over the past 2 months.

What are you going to bring with you?  

We need to take more out of this experience than just The Ozarks and White Claw.

3 Things I Learned from A LONG STRANGE TRIP: 

Prepare the Night Before

I started the quarantine wasting a ton of time.

The lockdown blew up everyone’s routines.

I was unfocused.

Everyone was home. 

Distractions were everywhere.  

A few days in I stole an idea from Jocko Willink.

Jocko calls it PRE-STAGING.

I started preparing for the next day the night before. 

It sounds simple (it is) but it’s also amazingly effective. 

Each night I charged my MacBook Air, placed it on my desk and opened it to the project I was working on.

The book I planned to read was put on the table with my journal and highlighter next to it.

I scheduled the next day’s workout in my calendar.  

My son and I confirmed a time for our BJJ session.

PRE-STAGING sets the tone for the next day.

It also makes the next morning way more FOCUSED and PRODUCTIVE.

Long Walks Are Magic 

There’s a great quote by Nietzsche that’s says, “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.”

We never walked so much as family.  

Some were walks during sunset on way too chilly March nights.

Others were long, meandering walks through neighborhoods I never knew existed. 

Walking may be the closest thing to a magic pill.

It makes you feel better.

Walking makes you think better. 

The more we walk as a family, the more meaningful our conversations become.  

You get to hear what’s on everyone’s mind. 

You get to bounce ideas off each other. 

Long walks are here to stay. 

Work(out) from Home

It took a global pandemic to teach me that you don’t need to drive 20 minutes to the gym or yoga studio to get an awesome work out.

There are so many ass kicking workouts you can stream and rock out right at home. 

Saves time.

No traffic.

No parking problems.  

And you’re on no one’s schedule but your own.    

Namaste Covid-19 for shining the light on home workouts. 

Anthony Bourdain wrote, “Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts…But that’s okay. The journey changes you. You take something with you.” 

A long journey can make you see the world differently.

We return home a different person. 

We just have to be open to the lesson. 

Keep traveling…

#ALongStrangeTrip

Joe Ciccarone

www.SalesVibe.Blog

Find Your Beach

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“Life takes you down many paths, but my favorite one leads to the beach.” – Anonymous

Welcome to The Vibe!

The blog that tries to make this quarantine more bearable in 500 words or less.

Each week we discuss ONE IDEA that will help you live a better life.

This week’s topic is how to FIND YOUR BEACH in the middle of a plague.

Good vibes only…

The Vibe:  Find Your Beach  

It’s starting to feel like we’re stuck in the middle of an endless snow day.

But we can’t play with our friends because the snow is contagious.

Spring Break felt more like 1918 than 2020.

We were putting on face masks instead of SPF.

The last few weeks have been like no other.

Stuck at home with no clear end in sight.

We could all use a long walk on a sunny beach.

Unfortunately BEACHES and PANDEMICS don’t play well together.  

With no beach time in sight for the foreseeable future, we are forced to get creative.

It’s like we’re in a real life Corona beer commercial – just trying to FIND OUR BEACH.

Maybe we could use a few extra moments to ourselves each day.

Or perhaps we’re looking for a better way to spend the crazy amount of family time we have now.

Here are 3.5 ways to FIND YOUR BEACH:

1) Get Combative

If you had to pick an activity the CDC would ban during an outbreak, it’s hard to beat Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Plagues mean no Jiu jitsu class.

You don’t realize how much you miss getting choked semi-conscious by your friends until you can’t do it anymore.

But as one door closes, another opens.

After years of talking about it, my son and I started training BJJ on the mats in our basement.

Family bonding (and rear naked chokes) at its best.

We have only one rule.

He is NOT allowed to submit me for at least the first year.

2) Go Back To The Future  

This lockdown has given us the chance to introduce our kids to the shows we loved back in the day.

One of them is “Band of Brothers”.

My all time favorite mini-series.

Based on Stephen E. Ambrose’s incredible book, it follows the members of Easy Company 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne Division from basic training, D-Day, and through some of the fiercest battles of WWII in Europe.

My wife and I watched this series during the Fall of 2001 in our apartment in Philly.

The series helped get our minds off of the chaos following 9/11.

Nineteen years later we are watching it again with our kids trying to get our minds off a plague.

History may not repeat itself, but it rhymes.

3) Be Like Churchill

During the Nazi Blitzkrieg, Winston Churchill started off his day reading to calm his mind.

Churchill said, “It has been a comfort to me in these anxious days to put a thousand years between my thoughts and the twentieth century.”

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.

Reading just 20 minutes from an amazing book can bring a flash of insight that will help us be WISER and CALMER.

Looking for a great book?

Ryan Holiday puts out a killer monthly book list.

3.5) Up Before The Enemy 

Jocko WIllink says we have to be “Up Before the Enemy.” 

The “enemy” in this case is the rest of our house.

There is nothing like the early morning.

Getting up early creates space between you and the day ahead.

The time is all yours.

You are at your most creative.

At first, getting up early sucks, then once you create the HABIT you’ll never go back.

Own the morning, own the day.

These last few weeks were rough.

Our families, especially our kids, need the best version of us to show up each day.

So spend some time on your favorite beach today.

Even if it’s only in your mind.

Surfs up…

#FindYourBeach

Joe Ciccarone

http://www.SalesVibe.Net

 

 

 

Fight the Resistance

 

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“Fear is a lie.” – Steve Maxwell

Welcome to The Vibe!

Each week we discuss one idea that will help you live a better life.

This week’s topic is the RESISTANCE and how FEAR of FAILURE keeps us from sharing our best work.

Thank you for reading The VIBE.

If you think this post is helpful, please forward to a friend.

Let’s do this…

The Vibe: Fight the Resistance

After writing and sharing over 200 blog posts, the RESISTANCE showed up out of nowhere and started to rear naked choke my courage to write.

The RESISTANCE is that mysterious force author Steven Pressfield claims acts against human creativity by raising the voices of FEAR and DOUBT inside our heads.

The RESISTANCE has one goal: to keep things the way they are.

It does this by crushing our courage to be creative.

Every time I came across a new idea to blog about, the RESISTANCE told me a dozen reasons why I shouldn’t…

“Your writing sucks.”

“No one is going to read this.”

“No one cares what you think.”

“Who are you to write anything?”

I was afraid to show up and look foolish.

So I stopped blogging for 2 months.

It felt safer to play it safe.

But safe is BORING and AVERAGE.

Keeping the status quo is a waste of time.

No need for any of these.

We have to keep walking past our FEARS and DOUBTS.

At some point, that walk is going to get uncomfortable.

We have to learn learn to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

This takes time and practice (PS – Jiu Jitsu helps).

But the RESISTANCE is a persistent enemy.

It keeps showing up.

Seth Godin likes to say that FEAR and DOUBT will never fully go away,  but we can learn to dance with them.

My 2-month sparring session with the RESISTANCE taught me two great lessons.

  1. Action crushes fear.
  2. Fear is a liar.

Rosa Parks said, “Knowing what must be done does away with fear.”

We all have things we want to do.

We all have projects we know we should do, but that FEAR VOICE in our heads keeps holding us back.

What project are you holding off on?

What conversation have you been avoiding?

It’s time to PUNCH that fear in the throat and take a step forward.

I may not be the best writer.

My blog does not have a million followers.

All good.

Hey RESISTANCE

Guess what?

F*ck You!

I just hit the publish button.

#FightTheResistance

Until next week,

Joe Ciccarone

http://www.SalesVibe.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Look Over

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“I am more afraid of our own mistakes than our enemy’s schemes.”  – Pericles

You can see it when a swimmer glances over to the next lane.

You see it when a jiu jitsu competitor lets their opponent dictate the pace of the match instead of executing their game plan.

You can see it when a SALESPERSON focuses more on what their competition is doing than bringing value to their customers.

When you FOCUS on things outside of your control, BAD things happen.

You start reacting instead of initiating.

Momentum disappears.

You fall behind.

Instead of dictating the pace, you are playing catch up.

Elite competitors FOCUS only on what’s in their control.

They DON’T LOOK OVER to see what their competition is doing.

They take care of their responsibilities.

Then ADAPT and ADJUST to anything outside of their control.

Ryan Holiday wrote, “Very few empires are destroyed by external forces.  They are undone by their own hubris….We should be far more concerned with our own ego and our own inadequacies than what someone else may do to us.”

Over the next 12 weeks, the rest of the year will play out.

Your FOCUS needs to be on executing your GAME PLAN.

Show up prepared.

Lean forward.

No reason to hold anything back.

If you feel the need to look somewhere…

Look in the mirror.

Because that’s your REAL COMPETITION.

Word.

#DontLookOver

-Joe Ciccarone

http://www.SalesVibe.Net

 

 

 

The Hard Part

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“The hard part is to just keep going.” – Shunmyo Masuno

It’s easy to start.

It’s fun to make RESOLUTIONS.

You join that new gym.

You start a blog.

You take up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Goals are set.

Excitement builds.

Then it happens….

The Achilles’ heel of human nature shows up.

Inconsistency.

Your new project is no longer fun or easy.

The excitement of the start fades like the Phillies playoff hopes in September.

Welcome to the THE HARD PART

Darren Hardy said, “Consistency is doing what you said you would do long after the mood you said it in has left you.”

Consistency creates your reputation.

Consistency separates the AMATEURS from the PROFESSIONALS.

An Amateurs waits for the mood to strike them.

A professional shows up when it’s inconvenient.

Consistency will make you relevant.

What does consistency look like?

It’s the writer who writes 200 words a day no matter how busy their day was.

It’s the parent who makes the baseball game coming from the airport.

It’s the runner hitting the pavement at 5am when its dark and drizzling.

Keep showing up.

Do the work.

Especially when you don’t feel like it.

Because that’s where the MAGIC happens.

It won’t be easy.

But will be totally worth it.

#TheHardPart

-Joe Ciccarone

http://www.SalesVibe.Net

 

Keep Showing Up

“Fortitudine Vincimus.  (By Endurance We Conquer).” – Ernest Shackleton, Arctic Explorer

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The year was 1999.

I started training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ).

The BJJ academy I trained at was one of the first on the East Coast.

Many world class instructors and killer competitors got their start there.

The training was intense.

It was like nothing I ever done before.

Before each class, I packed the same 4 things:

  • GI
  • Mouthpiece
  • Head gear
  • Medical Insurance card

I had a notion that at some point it was going to be my turn to take the 2 block trip to the emergency room.

That trip finally came.  The ER doctor told me I needed chest x-rays.  But we’ll save that story for another day.

When I first started BJJ I was awful:

  • Choppy
  • Tense
  • Hesitant

To become proficient at BJJ you have to learn to deal with BIGGER, FASTER, STRONGER people smashing you into the ground.

I needed to grow both PHYSICALLY and MENTALLY.

It’s an ongoing process that continues to this day.

Training BJJ has taught me many life lessons. 

The BIGGEST of these lessons is this:

KEEP SHOWING UP.

Woody Allen said, “Eighty percent of life is showing up.”

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a microcosm of life.

It’s a long, winding journey.

It’s process, not an event.

After a particularly frustrating training session, one of my training partners took me aside and shared this analogy.

He told me, “Training Jiu Jitsu is like creating a huge mosaic made up of thousands of tiny tiles.  Your job is to add one or two tiles to that mosaic each time you SHOW UP.”

This analogy is true for all aspects of our lives.

Accomplishing anything worth doing is going to take more time than you think.

You have to KEEP SHOWING UP to get it right.

It’s a journey that’s going to take you through PEAKS & VALLEYS.

There is no “hack”.

There is no easy fix.

Your CONSISTENCY and TENACITY are your secret weapons.

SLOW AND STEADY 

Don’t worry about not moving fast.

There are so many people that have progressed faster in their BJJ training than I have.

Guess what?

It doesn’t matter.

The race is only against yourself.

Confucius wrote, “It does not matter how slow you go, so long as you do not stop.”  

Focus on making slow, steady progress.

WHERE DO YOU NEED TO BE?

In life (and BJJ) SIGNING UP up is the easy part.

Doing the hard work is where the MAGIC happens.

So…

Who’s counting on you?

It’s time to SHOW UP.

Create something special.

You’ll be glad you did.

#KeepShowingUp

-Joe Ciccarone

http://www.SalesVibe.Net

Adversity, Knee Braces, & Attitude

“If the road is easy, you’re likely going the wrong way.” Terry Goodkind 

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ADVERSITY enters our lives when we least expect it.

How we respond defines who we become.

While training in jiu jitsu, I heard a loud pop in my knee.

Yikes!

Not the background music I was hoping to listen to while training.

2 weeks later…

I’m standing next to an orthopedic surgeon.

He looked at the MRI and explained my injury –a full width tear of the ACL”.

Fun times.

A knee injury brings a level of adversity into your life.

I am firm believer that life is 10% what happens and 90% how we respond.

Jeffrey Benjamin said, Adversity always hides a gift.”  

Our job is to find it.

Here are 4 Gifts I learned by tearing my ACL:

STAY CALM

Fear thrives in adversity.

Expose yourself to enough stories of the worst possible outcome, and your mind will start to believe them.

One way to empty the fear out of our minds and fill it with positive vibes is to BREATHE.

As soon as I heard that “POP” behind my kneecap, I focused on my breathing:

  • Slow, deep breaths.
  • In my nose.
  • Out my mouth.

It’s amazing how FOCUSED BREATHING calms your mind.

Focused breathing is one of the true GIFTS I learned by training jiu jitsu and practicing yoga.

EMBRACE CHANGE

Take a page out of Charles Darwin’s play book.

Learn to ADAPT to your environment.

My energy comes from being active:

  • Playing sports with my kids.
  • Training jiu jitsu.
  • Traveling with my wife.

But with a knee as strong a Kardashian marriage, I needed to make adjustments.

I had to watch class instead of train.

To stay in shape, I had to trade my jiu jitsu Gi for the elliptical machine at LA Fitness.

There wasn’t a trade that bad since the Red Sox traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees.

But they served their purpose.

THE POWER OF COMMUNITY

Adversity puts fear in your head.

Speaking with friends who went through the same situation crushed that fear.

Discussing rehab options with a top physician & awesome PT’s created a game plan and built confidence.

Never underestimate the power of community.

KEEP MOVING FORWARD

Life moves on.

The world stops for no one.

An injured knee was not going to stop me from living my life.

A few days after I got hurt, I was scheduled to chaperone a Class Trip for my son’s 2nd grade class.

I bought my 1st knee brace ever and jumped (more like limped) onto the school bus.

It was an awesome day –  Kardashian knee and all.

Call it my Kirk Gibson moment.

Getting injured is AVERAGE.

Living life in the face of adversity feels REMARKABLE.

#FindTheGift

– Joe Ciccarone

http://www.SalesVibe.Net

This article was originally published in June 2015 on http://www.JoeCiccarone.com.