When under stress, Reconcilers, like President Biden, tend to give excessive weight to the loudest and most pious voices in the room.

I’ve admired President Biden since he visited our remote outpost in Afghanistan in 2008 and praised our paratroopers in a National VFW speech. I found his sincerity and open-mindedness refreshing, and he quickly got the importance of our relationship-building efforts to Afghans. Biden agreed that accumulating allies was more helpful than aggregating your enemies. He talks about that visit when he mentions the Kunar River Valley in his Afghanistan speeches.

I’m having difficulty reconciling his words in 2008 with his recent speech that branded half or more of his citizens as treasonous racists (here’s a favorable view of the speech). He deserves credit for building the most physically diverse cabinet in history and could benefit from boosting cognitive diversity among his advisers.

Just because people look different does not mean they think differently. Cognitive uniformity puts you in an echo chamber that leads to poor decisions. Confirmation bias is like freebasing your own gunpowder. When under stress, Reconcilers, like President Biden, tend to give excessive weight to the loudest and most pious voices in the room. [Stressed Pioneers, like Biden’s predecessor, often surround themselves with sycophants and become louder and more outrageous.]

Civil War General William Rosecrans, also a Reconciler, won a string of victories in Tennessee as his army captured Chattanooga. Battlelines drew together at Chickamauga. The Union generals nagged Rosecrans for particular places and reinforcements. The Confederates attacked when Rosecrans shifted forces to please a subordinate. The mass confusion led to a defeat that sent Union forces back to Chattanooga, and Rosecrans lost his job.

Lincoln and Eisenhower were Reconcilers, too, and valued cognitive diversity. They surrounded themselves with people committed to the common good who presented different points of view, respected each other, and challenged the leader’s thinking. This practice helped them to avoid super empowering the loudest and most pious. Their decisions weren’t always perfect, but they tended to avoid self-inflicted disasters.

Lincoln held the Union together, gained buy-in for the Emancipation Proclamation and the 14th Amendment, and won the war. Eisenhower amassed consensus to end the Korean War and build the interstate system, a large standing military, and a robust nuclear deterrent.

Cognitive diversity was also vital in the success of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. I highly recommend The Sword and the Shield (which is on my 2022 reading list) in which Peniel E. Joseph discusses Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (a Maverick) and Malcolm X (a Pioneer).\

Pioneers, Reconcilers, Operators, and Mavericks — our PROM archetypes — have distinct superpowers and different reactions when under significant stress (you tend to be your most extreme version). When you know this about yourself, you can sense the warning signs and avoid surrounding yourself with subordinates who egg you on to extremes. When you know your subordinates’ archetypes, you can recognize their stress reactions and take steps that bring them back to their best selves.

The value of history is not in teaching you what to think but in how it heightens your critical thinking skills, aids self-examination, and highlights the importance of gaining diverse perspectives from trusted sources. Freebasing gunpowder tends to create bad outcomes. Whose bringing in the fresh air for you?

Are you interested in using history to take your critical thinking skills to new heights and develop practical action steps that accelerate your success? Join me and seven others on March 15-18 for the Antietam & Gettysburg exclusive. When you have meaningful discussions with other extraordinary people at powerful venues, you gain perspective that pays dividends for life. There are three places still open.

My mission is to help successful people like you gain new heights by being the best version of yourself and inspiring people to contribute their best and most authentic selves to your team’s success.


Last year’s life lessons translated into leadership lessons


For me, 2021 was a transformative year. I left the world of education in June and joined the Strategic Leaders Academy on July 1 as a consultant and professional speaker. It made perfect senseI have been speaking about my experience in Iraq since 2004, and I have held leadership positions in almost every facet of my life since high school. I was ready, willing, and able for this next chapter in my life.

I am abundantly happier and less stressed now that I have more control over my life. Has it always been easy? No, not at all. I had to move from the public system to private, I had to learn to “speak business,” sell and market myself, network like there’s no tomorrow, and say goodbye to the many wonderful people I worked with as a principal. It was, however, the best decision I ever madethat, or I’m making the best out of my decisionwink wink.

I learned so much last year, especially in the past six months. Here are 21 of those lessons and how they translate into leadership:

1. The life of a principal is so tiresome that it was difficult to look for another job.

  • Make sure your employees and leaders have enough time to enjoy life and do things that can rejuvenate them. Also, how can we help the overworked school systems?

2. People are inherently good, but put them into a group with toxic people and that sludge will infiltrate even the best of people.

  • Hire the right people. Don’t compromise. If you need a body, hire on a temporary contract to see if it’s a good fit for you and them or don’t hire at all.

3. Values are not to be compromised. I was very close to doing so. I felt differently about how to deal with people than my superior. We never communicated about our fundamental values around this topic which could have alleviated a lot of stress from everyone involved.

  • Be explicit about your values and expectations so that you hire people who’ve bought-in to your core values. Don’t assume your employees have the same values as you. Have a conversation with them and make sure their values align with your Team’s common purpose, vision, and mission.

4. Autonomy, creativity, and innovation are inextricably linked.

  • The more autonomy your employees have, the more innovation and creativity will occur. This will also boost belonging and buy-in—a win/win.

5. Everyone has advice. All the time. No matter who you are or if you asked for it. Audit this advice. It has the power to overwhelm and shut down.

  • See my article on feedback for more information. Hire a trusted advisor to help you weed out the feedback that matters.

6. People act in mysterious ways.

  • You are the only person you can control. Sometimes it’s hard to “let it go,” but you will be much happier when you can move on from a difficult situation.

7. Control of my time sounds better in my head than in my guilty conscience. By that, I mean that even though I have complete control, it’s hard not to work all the time. Something always needs to be done.

  • Make sure your Team is taking their much-needed and much-deserved time off. If you lead by example, they will follow. If you show up to work before sunrise and leave after sunset, they will feel like they have to do the same and may become resentful.

8. There are so many amazing and wonderful people out there.

  • Get to know your Team on a personal level. It will make difficult conversations much easier with a solid foundation intact.

9.  Social Media is a time suck. I already knew this one, but I had never worked with LinkedIn before. I’ve found it especially challenging to make sure I’m doing what is best for my business while maintaining boundaries.

  • Keep track of how much time you spend on social media. Increase your productivity at work to increase your time off at home.

10. Talk at the speed of trust. As a type-A personality, I need to make sure that I’m not moving too fast for my clients.

  • Sometimes too much information can be damaging. Know who you’re talking to and how to talk to them.

11. It’s easy to get stuck in hypnotic habits.

  • So often we think we’re busting our humps at work, but in reality, we’re spending all of our time in emails and meetings without working on our business.

12. “Commission breath” is a real thing

  • Make sure you build trust before you start using the salesperson swagger.

13. Avoid “putting your great ladder along the wrong wall.”

  • Make sure your vision aligns with your outcomes. Otherwise, burnout is inevitable.

14. The longer you spend working within your strengths, the happier you’ll be and the more productive and innovative you will become.

  • For many, working on our weaknesses is a badge of honor, but it might not be a point of joy or passion. Delegate as much as possible and do what brings you joy to boost productivity at work.

15. My brain shuts down between 2 and 3 pm every day. This is my low point and when I need to take a break, go for a walk, or get a snack to re-energize.

  • Pay attention to your natural rhythms and align your work to those rhythms. For example, I am most productive in the morning. This is when I sit in the quiet and create. I try to have my meetings with others in the afternoons because they re-energize me and get me away from my screens.

16. It costs 50%-200% of someone’s salary to rehire for their position.

  • Putting people first is a must in today’s great recession. If you want to learn more about how this trend will continue, read this ebook—Demographic Drought

17. You have a choice. So many people have told me that they wish they could do what I did by quitting their 9-5 job.

  • Here’s the secret: YOU CAN! It’s a choice. We all have them. It’s about making the most out of the decisions you choose to make.

18. Living without fear is liberating. I am an all-in type of person. I love new experiences and I love to meet new people. From backpacking to Europe, to purchasing my first house as a single person, to marrying my husband in 4.5 months of meeting himmy lack of fear has provided me with abundant joy and amazing opportunities.

  • My lack of fear is based on realistic optimism and grit. I am one of the most fiscally conservative humans you’ll meet. Please tread lightly and logically with this one. But by all means, don’t let fear of the unknown hold you back.

19. Authenticity is key. I’m a people pleaser but the more I’m myself, the happier I am.

  • Choose you! You’re the only one we’ve got.

20. Rely on your network. When I’m stuck, down in the dumps, or need a thought partner, I have amazing individuals to reach out to. Thank you to Chris Kolenda and Jeff Marquez for being my top two go-tos!

  • Don’t try to lone-wolf it. Who do you go to when you need help? Remember, I’m here if you need me!

21.  Family Firstmy “why.” These four cuties are what make me the happiest. I love watching the kids learn and grow and become their own little humans. As long as I prioritize my family, I feel successful and they know they’re loved.

  • What’s your “why” and how can you prioritize that?

2022: New Year’s Resolutions Fails – Remember, Determination is the Shortest Path to Success

I was putting in the miles on my bicycle, preparing for the 1700-mile Fallen Hero Honor Ride in September 2022. Three months into my training, I had made progress, but to reach my full potential and maximize my chances of success I needed professional support.

Cycling guru Chuck Kyle had me get my bike custom-fitted for my body, and he created a training regimen that worked for me. His advice, program, and accountability have been game-changers. I’ve leaped forward, and I’m getting stronger and faster.

I learned the hard way long ago that creating resolutions and trying to will yourself to success rarely works. You make your ritual New Year’s resolutions, gut them out in January, and fall off the wagon in February.  Just look at the gyms, yoga studios, or any other self-improvement venue. Attendance in January skyrockets; good luck finding an available machine or mat. By mid-February, everything’s back to normal. The regulars are still there; the New Year’s resolution newcomers are gone.

What’s happening?

It’s not a lack of dedication or willpower. It’s the simple human tendency to drift, to settle into comfortable routines, to return to familiar habits.

Napoleon Hill wrote about this phenomenon in Outwitting the Devil, which is one of the books on my 2022 reading list for leaders and consultants.

You tend to know your situation and what success and failure look like. You find that the habits that keep you drifting become hard to break. Willpower may create temporary success but will fail if you haven’t set up the steps to make new practices habitual.

Poor application creates further drag. No one ever learned to drive a car solely by reading a book or watching a TikTok video. You gain some knowledge but lack the customized skill transfer. Staying on track becomes harder.

Lone wolfing dooms your New Year’s resolution because you have no accountability to do the right things, the right ways, customized to you. You return to the old habits, drifting hypnotically toward the place you do not want to go.


Determination is the shortest path to success. P3A is the secret to making it happen: set a clear purpose, establish the priorities and organize your time and activities to meet them, surround yourself with the right people to create customized implementation and accountability.

A trusted adviser will help you clarify your purpose, and provide you with the skills transfer, tailored-to-you application, and accountability so that you stay focused and meet your goals. As your confidence builds, you take more action and get better results. The cycle becomes self-reinforcing and creates new habits that propel you to new heights.

Imagine a bisecting line: mediocrity, and a timeline along the bottom. Your comfort zone pulls you toward mediocrity. Habits become hypnotic and act like compounding interest over time. The longer you drift, the harder it is to reach the determination line.

The determination process gets results. Chuck Kyle, David Newman, and Alan Weiss are trusted advisers who have encouraged me, kicked my butt, helped me build new habits, and enriched my life. I’ve learned not to waste time and emotional energy on New Year’s resolutions. Invest, instead, in your determination curve and the payoff will take your life and business to new heights.

My mission is to help successful people like you gain new heights by being the best version of yourself and inspiring people to contribute their best and most authentic selves to your team’s success.


Shortening your Path to Success

Consulting Mastery is my 8-week mastery program for consultants and experts who want to build a meaningful, joyful, and profitable business and take it to new heights. This program, a variant of FOCUSED, orients exclusively on consultants and experts. I’ll run this program twice in 2022. We meet once per week for 90 minutes via zoom. The program begins in late January; only eight spaces are available. Your investment is $4500 by January 15; then, the fee rises to $5500. Most participants say that the program pays for itself in the first two weeks.

Click here for more information and to apply.

Consulting Masterclass. In this interactive, 90-minute masterclass on January 13, you will gain the action steps you need to establish your expert business or take your existing business to new heights.

1. How to carve your compelling niche: the three core ingredients to a successful expert business.

2. How to move your clients along the value chain that increases their results and your fees.

3. Setting solid foundations on the three most essential elements in taking your business to new heights.

4. Ways to innovate so that your business stays relevant to your clients and avoids complacency.

5. Action steps to maintain a positive trajectory and avoid the drift of most expert businesses.

I’ll take your questions during the event and remain available for an additional 30 minutes afterward. You’ll get a recording of the session.

By the end of this masterclass, you will have the actions you need to build a meaningful, joyful, and profitable expert business.

I will run two sessions of this program on January 13. Register by clicking on the session you want.
11 am – 1 pm US Central.
2:30 – 4:30 pm US Central. The fee is $279.

Predictable unpredictability is the new reality. 

How will you help your clients thrive?

The Innovation Mindset is an 8-week mastermind that begins in February. We’ll examine the most important 2022 forecasts for implications to small business leaders, consultants, and experts. Each week, the group meets for 90-minutes to develop unique intellectual property that sets you apart from the pack (who’s always swinging behind the pitch) and gives you significant competitive advantages in serving your clients. Your investment will pay for itself in a single sale. I’m limiting the group to 8; the fee is $5500. Reply to this email to see if the program is a good fit for you.

The Trusted Adviser Program is my most intensive 1-on-1 program. Within 90 days, you’ll gain sustainable habits that create breakthrough success. You get personalized coaching and support, strict accountability, and commonsense action steps that get results so that you reach your goals more quickly and consistently. Soar to new heights here.

CEO Mastermind group
 is for Milwaukee-area small business leaders and consultants who want to accelerate their growth in 2022. We meet monthly for lunch, and you get unlimited access to me for coaching and advising. I’m limiting the group to 8. Four places are remaining. Reply to me for more details.

I put together this 2022 influential book list to shorten your path to success and avoid wasting time on faddish nonsense or hyped-up drivel. 


Here is a QR code to the booklist for leaders and consultants.

No one ever learned to drive a car solely by reading a book. You’ve got to get behind the wheel and practice.

Reading and learning from mentors make practice more successful. You learn the signs and rules of the road, ways to increase fuel efficiency, proper maintenance practices, and how to lower risk.

Imagine the opposite — learning to drive solely by practice. Traffic accidents, injuries, and fatalities would skyrocket, impaired driving would be endemic, people would waste more fuel, and burn out more engines and transmissions. If you’ve ever driven in places like Afghanistan, you know what I mean.

Experience is the most influential teacher of leadership. You have to be in the arena. Relying on experience alone, though, puts you in the school of hard knocks, where the tuition is painful for you and the people you are supposed to lead.

The rules of the road are relatively fixed. Once you learn good driving practices, you are good to go. Leadership is different because your marketplace is constantly evolving, so your application of sound leadership habits needs to grow, too.

People look to leaders to anticipate the future and figure out how to succeed in the face of new and unexpected situations. These challenges are where leaders tend to make the biggest mistakes, which happen even faster when growing or facing competition.

Having trusted advisors that guide you, and reading about the experiences of others who faced analogous situations during other times or contexts, improves your practice and builds your imagination to lead your team successfully.

My mission is to help successful people like you gain new heights by being the best version of yourself and inspiring people to contribute their best and most authentic selves to your team’s success.

Here’s a link to one of the books I have on my list:

Alan Weiss, Your Legacy is Now

Create meaning that delivers worth and impact.


The Great Resignation

Some Americans are resigning to find new careers. For the most part, people are moving within industries or roles. The Great Resignation is The Great Reshuffling.

Joe bragged about berating a hotel desk agent for a problem with his room. “He was worthless to me. I yelled at him. He yelled back at me and then walked out — quit on the spot.” He won’t be worthless to any more customers, joked Joe.

“I don’t care about employee turnover,” Lisa, a restaurant owner, told me, “There’s always another body waiting to fill the job. I’m a tough employer with high standards. If they can’t hack it, I’m happy to show them the door.”

Joe and Lisa are otherwise decent people whose sense of entitlement and inability to handle chronic stress have made them into monsters. It’s no wonder that roughly 46 million Americans left their jobs in 2021 — the so-called Great Resignation.

The Great Resignation

Some Americans are resigning to find new careers. For the most part, people are moving within industries or roles. The Great Resignation is The Great Reshuffling.

Employee turnover plus high inflation are going to eviscerate small businesses in 2022. Turnover can cost up to 2X an employee’s annual salary. Replacing one $50k employee is likely to cost you at least that much due to factors such as recruiting, time costs, lost momentum, and rebuilding relationships, among others.

If you lost ten such employees per year, you’ve just thrown $500k or more down the drain.

People don’t leave their jobs; they leave their managers. COVID has lowered people’s tolerance for bad bosses and crappy work environments. They vote with their feet more quickly to find a better place. Hence, The Great Reshuffle.

The Great Resignation

Add in the inflation costs, and you can see why low-margin businesses with high employee turnover rates are at high-risk next year.

Employers are turning to workplace gimmicks to attract and keep employees. No one ever stayed with a rotten boss for a bag of trail mix or a free yoga mat.

What can you do to keep your top talent engaged and on the job?

1. Custom-fit roles to people’s natural strengths (a.k.a. affinities or superpowers). The skill-fixation has perverted the hiring process and locked people into high-skill, low-superpower roles. Their energy drains faster, leading to frustration, burnout, and the need to find more challenging work. For a great starting point to identifying your superpowers, take our PROM (TM) Leader Archetype quiz. You may be surprised at your results.

2. Train your first-line leaders and middle managers. Most companies have programs for senior leaders but neglect their junior leaders, creating a trust gap at the employee-management interface. Very few junior and mid-level leaders have had good exemplars. Too many companies are on quicksand. Jeff Marquez and Laura Colbert help you strengthen these vital foundations. Junior and mid-level leader training rank among the best low-cost, high-payoff actions you can take in 2022.

3. Increase front-line agency. Give people the latitude and resources to solve problems at the lowest possible levels. This practice lowers the probability of unhappy, stressed-out customers like Joe taking it out on your employees and damaging their emotional well-being. The serotonin boost they get from solving problems will put them on an emotional high. Joe might even become less of a jerk.

In the musical chairs game of the Great Reshuffle, the best employees will find the best-led teams. You will get the virtuous cycle of the top talent coming to and staying with your company.

Are you leading at your very best?

What action steps will you take to make 2022 your best year?


I Focused my Forecasts for 2022 and Beyond on Trends most Relevant for Small Businesses, Consultants, and Experts.

I’ll host an 8-week mastermind group in January to discuss the implications of these forecasts and others so that you can provide vital thought leadership to your clients and anticipate the future for your business.

1. The Inflation bubble bursts. Due to employee turnover and inflation, small businesses will fail at a historic rate. COVID has decreased tolerance of bad bosses and poor work environments. Inflation rises to 4% if BBB fails and 6% if BBB passes, forcing many poorly-led, low-margin small businesses to close. High-margin solo and expert businesses will thrive.


2. Landgrabs. Russia and China seek to time moves against Ukraine and Taiwan, respectively, on signals that President Biden’s health fails. Iran and North Korea will do the same with their nuclear weapons and missile programs. A gulf state reveals its atomic weapons program in response to Iran’s.

3. Change for a BitCoin? Countries will begin to adopt crypto as alternate reserve currencies in response to America’s increasing weaponization of the dollar; investors will add crypto to their portfolios to hedge against inflation.

4. Trades strike back. Companies will lose confidence in supply chains that include overseas vendors. Local manufacturing and storage will rebound. Elite snobbery that the only road to a dignified professional life is an expensive 4-year degree will reduce. More people will enter trades and find substantial prosperity, independence, and joy.

5. Waking up to Woke. Businesses stop hiring consultants who pedal revenge racism and begin hiring people who improve teamwork. The best companies will hold CEOs and line managers responsible for diversity and inclusion; women and non-whites will gain a more significant share of P&L roles.

6. 280 characters fewer. Trust in conventional news outlets, experts, and punditry will continue declining, forcing at least one primary news channel, newspaper, and social media platform to close. People will turn increasingly to trusted advisers for perspective.

7. Revenge of the Nerds. Zillow Offers is the tip of an iceberg. Businesses that rely on AI platforms for customer relations and marketing will face significant setbacks because they act as a blunt instrument when customers expect concierge service. Hackers will learn to spoof AI decision-making tools by acting more like humans and luring machine decisions into unproductive corners.
8. AC Anyone? Climate change debates will shift towards alleviating the effects of rising sea levels and warmer temperatures. Wisconsin’s climate by 2040 will be like Tennessee’s in 2010.

9. Rolling Green-outs. Fossil fuels and nuclear power will make a comeback as a reliable base for energy supply. During extreme weather events, cities that rely on renewables will face significant power outages. Global predators will intensify cyberattacks against vulnerable power grids.

10. The open office is dead. Hybrid workplaces are here to stay. The most innovative companies will create in-office requirements based on need rather than arbitrary percentages. The most talented will seek jobs with those companies.

11. COVID theater closes. Companies will reduce wasteful activities that do little or nothing to stop the spread of COVID. The major media will reduce COVID-hype. The vaccinated will begin to revolt against COVID-control mandates because the virus is spread overwhelmingly by the unvaccinated and the vaccinated are tired of feeling punished. More businesses will require proof of vaccination or infection within the past six months for entry and employment. Vaccine boosters will be annual as COVID becomes endemic.

12. Big Red Resurgence. The Nebraska Cornhuskers football team will go to the BIG 10 championship game in 2022.

The Innovation Mindset Group is an 8-week mastermind that examines these trends and others for implications to small business leaders, consultants, and experts. We’ll meet for 90-minutes each week and develop unique thought leadership that will help you anticipate the needs of your businesses and clients. Your investment will pay for itself in a single sale. I’m limiting the group to 8. $4500 if you enroll by December 31, then the fee goes to $5500. Click here and scroll to the bottom to register to learn more about this limited time offer.

People mostly make decisions based on emotion and then rationalize the decision after the fact.

The Biden administration has been stubbornly tone-deaf about the outrage and disappointment that many Americans feel about the disintegration of the Afghan government and the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan after we spent 20 years and over $2 trillion, suffering over 2300 US service members killed in action and thousands wounded.

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The President has been steadfast in his decision to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan and has defended it fiercely as the meltdown unfolded. The generals talk about working with the Taliban to help American citizens get out of the country. Diplomats whisper about recognizing a new Taliban-heavy government.

Many Americans are furious about all of it, and the administration’s explanations and rationalizations seem to dig the hole deeper. Unless the administration acknowledges the emotions of so many Americans, they’ll be unable to rally them for the difficult choices ahead.

As an expert business owner, you face tough choices all of the time. The stakes are different, but the emotions are genuine: fear about starting or growing your business, anger at a partner that let you down, joy at gaining a new client and supporter, anxiety about investing in yourself, joy at seeing your clients get to new heights.

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Emotions affect your judgment. People mostly make decisions based on emotion and then rationalize the decision after the fact. Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman shows how this process can lead to major errors.

Here’s what to do when you’re facing a challenging decision.

1. Label the emotion that you feel: anger, sadness, joy, contentment, surprise, fear, confusion, among others.

2. Identify the circumstances that are driving each emotion.

3. Develop options to get to your goals.

4. Decide which one is best and act on it.

Creating space between emotion and action, in action:

I’m concerned that an investment in my business won’t pay off (fear of wasting time and money). The best way to reach my goals and shorten my path to success is by getting the right support. Here are ways to do that: A, B, C.

Which one has the best potential payoff at the lowest risk?

BOOM! You got this!

What’s your top takeaway? Please share your thoughts!

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