Friday, October 31, 2014

"Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do" - Podcast Update

Happy Halloween.

This week on the podcast we have two episodes you will not want to miss:

Episode 9 - Lara Loest, The Queen of Show Notes

Episode 10 - Why Networking Matters to Entrepreneurs... roaming interviews at the October Austin Tech Happy Hour.

Please download, listen and review (downloads and reviews really make a difference to a new show).  

We hit #3 on the "Careers Podcast List" on iTunes this week.  I appreciate all who listen and who have given feedback.  Next week there are two new show (I am getting better at these podcast interviews each time).

CLICK HERE to hear the show!!!

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Monday, October 27, 2014

What's New on the Podcast?

The Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do Podcast had a big weekend on the iTunes charts, ranking #4 in "Careers" and #15 in overall "Business".

Not sure how they do the algorithm for these lists, or why the show appeared so high, but it was fun to see it score well in a list that is populated by so many amazing Podcasts.

Last week the show featured Michael O'Neal (host of The Solopreneur Hour, and Mary Kelly, PhD (CEO of Productive Leaders).  This week will have two new shows that will release on Tuesday and Thursday.  I am having so much fun learning from the people I interview that I wish I was doing a 7 day a week show.

It is important for a new show to have listeners.  If you have an iTunes account please subscribe, download and leave a review.  If you are not on the Apple platform, you can go to Stitcher and also get the show (You can get the Stitcher app in the Android store), and the show can also be heard at  

The show is getting better with each interview, as I am finding my voice and getting some good feedback on how to interview by those with lots of experience.  I have a long way to go, but we are on this journey together.  Thank you to those who are investing their time to be part of the show.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

The Cowbell Principle (Guest Blog Post by Brian Carter)

How To Succeed By Defying Mediocrity

Have you seen the More Cowbell sketch from Saturday Night Live? It’s more than just funny. Believe it or not, it’s a powerful metaphor for a successful work life. And it provides insight into the kind of people you need on your team, and what makes an effective team.

Everyone has at least one cowbell — it’s your unique, profitable talent people pay you for or your company's unique offering. It’s something people have a fever for. When you discover it and give those people a ton of it, you gain success and happiness for both yourself and others. It’s a win-win.

A cowbell is simultaneously something you love doing and something other people really want as well (although, as we’ll see, you still will have detractors and critics). A cowbell creates joy for you and other people. It makes them yell for more. They can't get enough.

Defy Mediocrity

If you’re too vanilla, it’s hard to be successful. You don’t stand out. And, interestingly, the most popular flavor is vanilla. But that’s because it’s ice cream, something most people find hard to ignore. Vanilla wafers, not as popular. Vanilla Ice, not popular at all. We talk about him in the section of the book about being annoying. But anyway, vanilla is mediocre. Pink bubblegum ice cream? Now that gets noticed.

Are you in an environment where people praise mediocrity? Then you might be incentivized to stay mediocre, which will only get you an average career. Do you want a remarkable career? Then become a remarkable person. And go weird out some mediocre people.

What you achieve is somewhat determined by your expectations and the expectations of those around you. For example, some families won’t allow their kid to live at home after dropping out of college. They expect their children to get a degree. They expect excellence. Dropping out of college is unacceptable to them. They paid for you to go, so you must succeed. No excuses. Some families are willing to shun their children if they fail. Right or wrong, that’s pretty motivational for kids. Where excellence is expected, mediocrity is rare.

Mediocrity goes along with low expectations, a lack of motivation, a lack of ambition, and zero passion… it’s sleepwalking through life. Is that what you really want? I mean zombies are cool, but do you really want to be one?

A small percentage of people leave their jobs and create a business out of their personality. They don’t have to invent a car or resell wholesale foods or split atoms. Successful speakers and consultants believe the power of their words and intellect is worth more than most things. Are these people confident? Definitely.

Some people succeed just because they want status; they want to look good and be acknowledged as special. Pathological? Maybe, but effective.

If you had $10 million, would you live in a private house on the ocean with huge walls around it? Sure, unless you really want the neighbors to see when you buy your wife that Lexus with a bow on it. Garrison once heard a guy say, “I bought my new Mercedes, and it came with tinted windows. What’s the point of that if no one can see who’s driving it?”

Culture vs. Success

Sometimes your culture fights against your success. Brian learned when speaking in Norway that many Norwegians are fighting against a traditional cultural idea called Janteloven (pronounced yonta-loave-en), based on the laws of Jante, from, believe it or not, a novel. Why they let a novel hold such sway over them, we don’t know!

These rules are so extreme that we want to share them with you, because when you read them we think you’ll understand why the Norwegians need to rebel.

The 10 rules of Jante state:

    1.       You're not to think you are anything special.
2.       You're not to think you are as good as we are.
3.       You're not to think you are smarter than we are.
4.       You're not to convince yourself that you are better than we are.
5.       You're not to think you know more than we do.
6.       You're not to think you are more important than we are.
7.       You're not to think you are good at anything.
8.       You're not to laugh at us.
9.       You're not to think anyone cares about you.
10.   You're not to think you can teach us anything.


Those rules make us want to punch somebody in the face (a very American reaction best carried out by anyone with “rock” in their name: Rocky, or The Rock, or Jim Rockford). Or at least we want to make fun of these rules.

Americans don’t believe that stuff, which is why the Scandinavian motivational company Speaker’s Club imports American speakers. We feel bad that they have to fight that inside themselves, and we wish them all the best in fighting it.

But even Americans fight something similar, to a degree. When we succeed, even if we don’t hear explicit jealousy from others, we can imagine it’s out there. Your inner voice may ask you, “Who are you to deserve this or that?” And when we do succeed, we can feel a kind of survivor’s guilt: “Is it bad that I’ve attained this or that when the people from my high school or college haven’t?”

You Can Be Remarkable And Humble

Still, we love humility, the kind you find among Tim Duncan’s San Antonio Spurs teams; they are great, but their greatness comes from teamwork and good fundamentals. They never get too high or too low.

Brian’s favorite definition of humility is this: a right-sized view of yourself, neither greater nor less than you actually are. Humility insists that we be honest, confessing when we’re lucky but taking credit for the action we have taken and results we’ve achieved.

False humility is believing you are worse than you actually are. Egotism is believing you are better than you actually are.

If you’re good at something, or even great at it, tell people. Or show them. Don’t deny it. Don’t hide it. Don’t be embarrassed about it.

If you have gifts, talents, and skills, you have cowbells — and there are probably people with a fever for them. So go give them more

Get A Free Digital Copy Of The Cowbell Principle

This post
is an excerpt adapted by Brian Carter from the forthcoming book The Cowbell Principle: Career Advice On How To Get Your Dream Job And Make More Money, by Brian Carter and Garrison Wynn. Brian and Garrison will be giving away a limited number of digital copies at launch time. To get notified when they’re available, sign up at

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Cool Things My Friends Do (Week #117): Tim Hayden - "The Mobile Commerce Revolution"

Each week on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their personal and professional lives.

Welcome back to "Cool Things My Friends Do".  This nearly weekly blog post series is now in week #117.  I have not posted lately, as this series has spun out a new podcast: "Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do", and launching a podcast is a lot of work.... but the first six shows are live (two new episodes each week coming to an iTunes or Stitcher account near you!!!).  Check it out, subscribe and leave a comment.

Tim Hayden just released his book, "The Mobile Commerce Revolution". That is cool. Tim is a serial entrepreneur, marketing guru, speaker (he just joined the National Speakers Association), and a friend. I have known Tim for several years, and I mentioned him in my 2nd book, The ABC's of Networking. It has been great to see him navigate the ups and downs of an entrepreneurs, solopreneur, and intrapreneur.

Tim is a real thought leader in the world of social and mobile marketing.  He is also a hard working entrepreneur who makes things happen.

His book ,which is co-authored with Tom Webster, is an actionable guide is packed with brand-new case studies and practical guidance from small startups to large brands. The authors share their immense experience in a way that will make the reader think.

Congratulations to Tim and Tom.  I am thrilled to have them as week #117 of "Cool Things My Friends Do".  Also, Tim has agreed to be a guest on the podcast... so check back in a few weeks to listen to that episode.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Saturday, October 18, 2014

TEDx San Antonio

Today was TEDxSanAntonio.  My 17-year-old and I spent the day together listening to the inspiring speakers and participate in this 5th Annual event.

Yes, we live in Austin. Texas.... not San Antonio.  But TEDxAustin has apparently died off (temporarily, they say).  I had attended the Austin event a several times, and always found it cool to be part of the TEDx community.  The ideas that most speakers share are original and make me think. My daughter is on the planning committee for the TEDx youth event in Austin, and is a big fan of all things TED.  Since San Antonio is only 70 miles away, it was an easy decision to drive down for the day.

Wow, what a great event.  All the speakers were good, and covered a wide variety of topics that linked to the theme of "Ideas in Action".  Three of the speakers were outstanding (this is my opinion, haters leave me alone):  SJ Murray -"Hardwired for Story", Trevor Muir - "Should School Take Place in the Real World", and Leezia Dhalla -"Hiding in Plain Sight".  Each of these presentations were a perfect combination of powerful content with excellent speaking skills.  

I was surprised that more people from Austin did not attend the TEDxSanAntonio event.  Our two communities are separated by approximately 70 miles and are two of the fastest growing cities in the United States.  The San Antonio community is filled with amazing people who are as nice as you find anywhere on the planet.  While we did not know many people at this event, those who we met were friendly and welcoming.  

When it comes time for the 2015 event, I would happily head back to San Antonio to participate again.  Kudos to the organizing committee who curated a perfect day.  

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Friday, October 17, 2014

This Week on the Podcast

The new podcast, "Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do", is booming along.  It was number SIX on Thursday on the "Career Podcasts" list on iTunes.  It was also #44 in the general business category. 

Not sure how it ranked so well, but it was fun to see the green circle logo riding high for much of the day.

This week's interviews (Tuesday and Thursday) were with Beth Ziesenis and Roger Courville.  Both are friends of mine from the National Speakers Association ("Cool Things My Friends Do" seems to be merging into the podcast!!!).

Here is where I can use your help.  Please jump to your iTunes account and subscribe to the show.  Also, it is helpful if you leave positive ratings and reviews (5-stars and a few words).  In the first few weeks the show gets discovered via something called "New and Noteworthy" on iTunes.  A year ago it would have been easier to land high on this list.  But podcasts are all the rage right now, and thus the competition is crazy.  Your investment of 90 seconds is valuable to me.  (Thanks!!!)

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Importance of Real Friendships In Your Industry

Today I got to hang around with my fellow professional speaker friend, Beth Ziesenis (Beth lives in San Diego).  Beth is an established national "Tech Speaker" (known as "Your Nerdy Best Friend") who was in Austin to present at a conference.  

One of the coolest parts of being an active member in the National Speakers Association is all the "speaker friends" you make along the way.  Being a professional speaker, and often on the road, can be a lonely business.

When I find myself in other cities I meet up with my NSA pals.  We either connect for a meal, drink, or a business brain-storming session (or all three).   When some of them are in Austin they often call me to get together.  I usually take them to the Salt Lick for dinner (that has become a tradition, visit Thom, eat lots of BBQ) or to another Austin favorite (today I took Beth to Casa de Luz and Delish Cupcakes).  Choosing to make time for people is how relationships are forged.

Being part of a trade / industry association is a great way to develop contacts. I would not be in business if it was not for the NSA and the things I have learned from the people I have met.  My participation in a few other associations also bring me to more understanding of the meetings world. Participation can lead to more inspiration than most ever imagine.

Many who want to be professional speakers miss the value in having meaningful relationships with other speakers. Some see their fellow speakers as competition, others are just "too busy" (or too scared, too cool, too something) to invest in friendships.  But the speaking business is tricky, and from the outside it appears different from the reality. Navigating a career as a speaker is made much easier when you have your "speaker buddies".

Regardless of your industry, it is important to have friends in your business who have your back.  Do not push away the people who could help you uncover the path to more success.  The sharing of best-practices and the mastermind meetings are paramount to discover fresh perspectives.  If you sit alone and believe you cannot catch a break, examine your relationships with your peers.  Nobody is an island and those who have peer groups always seem to uncover more opportunities.

It was fun to see Beth, but she also inspired me by how she connects to her clients.  She is doing great things with her speaking career, and that is cool.  

***Speaking of "Cool".... Beth Ziesenis is also the current interview on the "Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do" Podcast.  Log onto iTunes and download the episode.  Oh, and leave a 5-star review (it helps the show get found).

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Monday, October 13, 2014

Work In Progress - There Is No Rewind Button

The progression of a life is not always linear.  It goes up and down and all around.  From the outside other people assume that everyone else have their stuff together, while they only see their own struggles up close and personal.  

Part of being human is we are constantly being exposed to new ideas and information, and this can deeply impact a person.  Too often we think we know someone, only to later learn we knew the "old them" from long ago.  People do change, and often for the better.

We all are working out our own "stuff" and it is not easy for anyone.  There is "good stuff" and "bad stuff", but we all have piles of stuff littered around our souls. When someone opens up and shares their journey we get a glimpse, but even then we do not know all the details of how they wrestle their thoughts.  Too often the assumptions that are made are simply off track, and that keeps people from forging the mutually-beneficial relationships we desire and that could have positive impact on many lives.

Where it gets difficult is how judgmental most of us can be about others.  If we catch a glimpse of flaws in another person, decisions are made about the whole. In any one moment that you encounter someone, you may have not found them at their best.  Be careful not to close the lid on how you judge them, as your vantage point many not allow you to see the whole picture.  

I am totally a work in progress and know I have rubbed some people the wrong way in my nearly 50 years on earth.  But when I make a mistake (and understand what I have done - and agree that it is a mistake), I work diligently to improve from that moment forward.  I am cool that I am flawed, and do not hide from the bumps and bruises of living life.  There is work to be done to grow, and the more I learn listen to others, and hear them, the easier it is to find ways to improve.

The jumped to conclusions I have made about others are often wrong, and these warped impressions have caused me to miss out on knowing amazing souls.  After my 30th high school reunion I realized that the teenage version of me was surrounded by amazing people who I never talked to in school.  Why?  Who knows?  Maybe fear?  I was not a cool kid, and to protect "self" I apparently did not let everyone get close (fortunately I also had many great "forever friends" from my early days!).  

Over the years I have learned that most people are worth getting to know, and now try to let everyone into my world. I am even good about re-opening doors to those who have come and gone. Walling off and judging never brings new opportunity.  Sure, some folks are takers (or full of drama) but most are wildly awesome. Some wont gel with me in the long run, and that is okay.  But others bring fresh points of view and expose their knowledge that expands my own.

I wish I could go back and repair the mistakes I have made with people in the past.  I wish I could let people know I see and hear them.  Yet a work in progress is all about the progress. I am doing work each day to improve how I see the world.

There is no rewind button in life.... and that is okay.  The people who share my journey today are the ones seeking to get past their own negative stuff.  We will figure this out together!!!

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Podcast Launch - Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do

The new podcast, "Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do" has gone live with the first three episodes.  Twice a week it is my plan to bring interesting and informative interviews to the listeners highlighting information and ideas about starting a business and leading a life as an entrepreneur or solopreneur.  

The guests will include business leaders, entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, and anyone with a high dose of the entrepreneurial spirit. This concept spun out of the popular "Cool Things My Friends Do" blog post series (and the early guests on the show are all my friends, too!!!)

I spent the better part of 2014 researching the idea of hosting a podcast.  I attended the "Podcast Movement" conference in Dallas this summer, and made friends with several others who host shows.  At first I was not sure I would enjoy this, but it has turned out to be a ton of fun.... and I can't wait to talk to each guest.

I am still learning how to capture higher quality audio, how to edit (outsourcing that for now), and I am actively working to find "my voice".  But like all journeys, it begins with the first steps.

Please go to iTunes and download the podcast, or better yet.... SUBSCRIBE.

Thanks for your support.  A positive review would be great too!

If you have an idea for a guest, I am open to all types of suggestions.  I am seeking out people who have unique businesses and a sparky personality.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Sunday, October 05, 2014

High School Reunion - Dang....That Was Fun

My favorite photo from the reunion weekend

Leading up to my 30th high school reunion I wrote a post called "5 Tips for Successfully Attending a High School Reunion".  This was written as my high school classmates prepared to gather in California to celebrate three decades post graduation.

Many people don't do reunions. The reality is our class of around 800 people had less than 200 who chose to attend the gathering.  I have heard that in the age of Facebook fewer people decide to show up for high school reunions, as they feel they "know" what the people whom they care about are up to regularly.

Ms O'Brien's Kindergartners from Hugo Reid 
I had hoped to share the evening with many who never arrived. Some had conflicts with their schedules, others lived far-far away, and many simply did not want to attend.   However, the people who showed up brought with them a festive spirit and the party (and post parties) lasted late into the night.  The whole weekend was full of hugs and discovery.

As I reflect on this monumental event (I do not believe when we crossed that stage in 1984 dressed in maroon or yellow caps and gowns we could have imagined a future that included our lives 30 years later), I was reminded how fortunate I was to grow up in this community.  A real community is comprised of people, and we had some great people in our graduating class.  While we were a big school, many of us began together in elementary school and shared memories that went back to our earliest years.  (Attached is a photo of those who were in my kindergarten class).  We laughed about the past (good and bad) and reveled in the journeys that all have taken.

Those who "got you" in high school still understood your most basic self.  I spent the weekend with several people who I affectionately list among my "Forever Friends", those people who are always an active part of your life no matter what happens along the way.  Some I chat with regularly, others not as much.... but the connection is real and never seems to fade.  It actually grows stronger over time.  

The most interesting part were the people I did not know, or could not remember.  Thirty years is a long time to match a face to memories in a class so large.  But each classmate whom I proactively started a conversations brought another stitch in the tapestry of this reunion. Every person I talked to happily shared their life and wanted to know about the other people present in the room  (There was only one person from whom I felt a negative vibe, but without having talked to that person I have no way of knowing if there was a real issue with me or if I imagined the stink eye!).

While a party like this is not for everyone, I wish fewer people had stayed away.  So many people showed their heart and soul and it was clear what makes individuals special.  One friend who is "fun in a bottle" had me laughing all night, and another lapped up the evening and being with us all like a puppy whose owner had just returned home.  There were former preppies, mods, beauty queens, punk rock types, athletes, band members, cheerleaders, social butterflies, dancers, actors, etc.... and all showed up at the reunion and stood shoulder to shoulder.  Time had erased almost all issues that may or many not have mattered back when Ronald Reagan was president.  

1983-84 Apache News Team
People remembered their teachers, best friends, first crushes, summer vacations, and a plethora of extra-curricular activities.  The evening kicked off with some video clips from the "Apache News" (our twice a week closed circuit newscast that reported the goings on at our school).  The news team anchors from 1983-84 stepped in as the EmCee's of the reunion program (myself included), and it was fun to work together again.

As I boarded my flight home to Austin, I was filled with an excitement to return in another decade.  My hope is to keep in better touch with those I encountered and establish new friendships with those who I share this connection.  The evening was exactly what it was meant to be, and I thank everyone who made the trip (regardless of if they traveled three blocks or 3000 miles).  It is my hope that all of us who were there will rally the troops in 2024 when we do this again.

If you were there, or you attended another reunion recently, please leave a comment with your own observations.  I know there are others who can add to this discussion.... as people have lots of opinions about reunions!!!

Have A Great Day.

thom singer