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order from chaos

Making Order From Chaos – Understanding the Roles of Containers and Expanders on Your Team

It’s interesting how the universe works. This morning as I was watching the local news, and heard that several people have mysteriously died recently in the Dominican Republic – one of which was Barbara Corcoran’s brother.

If that name doesn’t ring a bell, she’s been one of the more prominent sharks on Shark Tank over the years.

As I was learning more about the loss of her brother, I ran across this tweet:

She goes on to talk about this further in her post on LinkedIn: There are Only Two Kinds of People

What’s ironic is that this is something that I’ve been thinking about quite a bit recently.

The Study of People Using Assessments

In my studies over the years regarding human and organizational behavior, I’ve come to appreciate personality tests. And one thing I’ve come to realize is that there are all kinds of ways to explain how a person ticks.

Some use academic means to assess the subject (Reiss Motivation Profile) while others are more widely used simply because they’re more well known and the information seems easier to convey (Myers-Briggs, DISC).

Up until recently, I’ve mainly used variations of the DISC profile to understand where people are coming from. Heck, I know the model so well that, when I’m waiting out in public, I’ll simply pass the time watching people and guessing their personality based on their personal style and how they’re interacting with others.

Here’s the kicker: most personality tests such as DISC are great if you’re checking to see how people react to a certain situation. I can tell what a person’s primary “personality” by how they respond to tasks and people.

If they’re given a task, will they try to do it or pass it off? Likewise, if they’re around others, will they try to be friends with them all or will they chill with a select group that they know well?

However, if you really want to know a person, you need to know what their Why is. Why do they approach certain situations in certain ways? This is what the Reiss Motivation Profile can help us with.

Instead of saying “they act this way around people/tasks” it instead helps us understand  “this is Why they act this way around people/tasks”.

Containers vs Expanders: Order vs Chaos

In conversing with upcoming guest of the AoL Podcast, Andy Dix, about Reiss Profile assessment, I’ve come to a realization. There are people who thrive in chaos and there are those who thrive with order.

Based on the results of my Reiss assessment, I like to think I’m somewhere in the middle. I like to make connections in chaos and help others apply that knowledge to their lives and/or business.

But I’m definitely more on the order side of things than the chaos side.

In other words, I’m more of a Container than an Expander.

Containers are detail oriented, like to keep on top of things, and like to create systems.

Expanders love ideas and action, thrive in chaos, and are 100% all out all the time.

Leveraging this Knowledge as a Leader

Generally speaking birds of a feather, flock together. Containers will naturally gravitate towards other Containers. Expanders will group with other Expanders.


Well, it’s human nature to see others from our own perspective.

Truth is, if let alone in the workplace, these individuals have the potential to drive each other crazy if made to work together without proper leadership. Containers might think Expanders are careless. Expanders might start believing that Containers aren’t moving forward fast enough.

If you compare them side by side, you might be right.

But as we’ve found out, they’re not the same. We’re comparing apples and oranges. So to avoid that frustration on your team and network, let’s tie this all together.

The Expander Leader

Let’s say that you’re an Expander – you’re constantly taking action. If you’re not making waves and meeting new people, you’re not happy.

That’s great and all, but if all your doing is planting seeds… who’s harvesting them? If all you’re doing is making the meal, who’s cleaning things up?

That’s where the Container comes in. Containers can make sense of the work you’re doing. They can help you be more efficient. And they can clean up after you if needed.

These are the types of individuals you’d want as part of your advisory team – your inner circle.

However, that being the case, you also need other Expanders. You can’t do all the things that need to be done in the field. So having other Expanders around will allow you to take more territory and explore new opportunities twice as fast.

The Container Leader

Likewise, if you’re a Container like myself, you’ll want at least one or two inner circle members to be Expanders.


If all you have is a group of Containers trying to make sense of things, you might get stuck in a loop of improvement. You’ll overthink things more than you need to.

With the addition of Expanders on your team, you can turn to them and ask “Hey, can you take this idea out to the market and see if this is something people want?”. Or, you can ask them “Hey, who do you know that could help us with…?”.

Because they love taking action, they’ll either find out the information themselves or, better yet, share the task with other Expanders in your network.

Action Steps

So to me, it’s fairly understandable why Barbara is so adamant about this topic. When paired together, Containers and Expanders can do amazing things!

With this knowledge, you can now determine whether you’re a Container or an Expander.

Then, it might be good to do an inventory of your team. What skill sets do your team members currently have? Which do you need?

Is your organization currently lead by Expanders? Then I’d imagine you need some Containers to make sense of things. There’s a good chance you’re making quite a lot of waves!

Is your startup made up of Containers? You’ll need to find some Expanders. You’ll naturally want to work on the product or service, but you need those Expanders to test it out in the market and get that feedback you need to make your company more relative to the outside world.

Either way you look at it, find and leverage those that compliment yourself.

reinvent yourself

Cross the Thinking Gap and Reinvent Yourself!

How do you reinvent yourself? For the longest time, I questioned how this is possible. Aren’t we are who we’ve always been? How do we get another identity than the one we’re so familiar with?

A book that I found during my years at Purdue, called Reinventing Yourself made me start thinking more and more about this. And I realized that I had started on this path early on.

When I was growing up, I understood competition. In fact, I remember the first time I “lost” in the real world. It was in 4H in a shooting sports competition. And frankly, I hadn’t practice – and apparently it showed. I ended up getting 7th out of 10 competitors in my age range.

reinvent yourself

I was pretty upset when I heard the news. Up until that point, I felt that I was good at about just anything I put my mind to. I just couldn’t believe that I didn’t do as well as I thought I was going to do.

I vowed that next year I was going to be better.

That next year, I made it a point to get up super early on Saturdays and go out to the firing range with the club.

That next year, I didn’t do much better. In fact, if I remember right, I got 5th place. Still not nearly as good as the champions and grand champion ribbons I was seeing in my other projects.

However, one thing did stand out to me. Everyone at this event, which was supposed to be highly competitive, got a small trophy.

This was the first time I was exposed to the idea of all participants get a trophy.

I remember being pretty ticked off. Why should they get something for not even placing? I worked at my loss!

So the next year I opted to focus more on Dog Club and left the shooting sports group all together.

Generation Entitlement?

Many argue that Millennials are the most entitled generation. In fact, there are all kinds of books and articles that suggest that the reason for this is because of the rampancy of participation trophies.

Whether that’s truly the case is unknown. However, a lot of Millennials have been told their entire life that they can do anything they want if they put their mind to it.

Well, that’s simply not the case.

What’s worse, is that when things don’t go a certain way, many blame others for their downfalls.

It’s my parents’ fault.

The professor screwed us!

The government needs to do something about that!

Society teaches us that using phrases like this are ok. Unfortunately, they’re only ok if we plan to stay stuck where we’re at in life and in our careers.

Owners Win & Victims Lose

You might have heard the phrase “Own up to it!”. If so, you know that this is slang for taking responsibility for one’s actions.

When you own up to doing something wrong or incorrectly, you’re acting in a space of courage. You say something like “This is my fault. I will do better next time”.  

When we’re denying that we didn’t do something we’re accused of, we’re shedding responsibility. We think “I didn’t do anything wrong. Why should I change?”

Here’s the thing. We can only get better if we acknowledge our failure. If we don’t acknowledge that failure, we’re setting ourselves up for that same failure in the future.

So, really, it’s not much of a stretch to say that what you say on the outside starts with what you think and feel on the inside.

Become an owner and reinvent yourself

If you’re tired of losing, then it’s time to turn things around. But how? How can you reinvent yourself?

Well, here’s a few things that you can become a bit more aware of as you’re living your daily life. Once you break your habit of doing these things and turn it around, you automatically set yourself up to win.

1. Life is Hard! It’s Me vs the Rest of the World!

No, it isn’t. It really isn’t. Life is what you make out of it. 17 years ago, I believed that the world was acting against me and my goal of graduating. It felt like all professors were conspiring against me.

Truth is, engineering is just super tough and I wasn’t putting in enough work to get it done. Once I realized that it wasn’t working out, I switched majors and life started getting better. I got into a study group and started making the grades that I knew I was capable of. Heck, I even had time to do extracurricular activities for once!

2. I’m Not My Fault. They Made Me Do It!

Here’s a phrase that you’ll hear in movies quite a bit. Often times, you’ll hear it from a villain who’s trying to get back at the government or some kind of company.

We as the audience know that while they might have gotten a bad rap, it’s their fault that they’re acting the way they are. They’re making active choices to take the actions that they are.

Soon after, the villain gets what he deserves and the hero rides off into the sunset.

In our own lives, while using this phrase might not involve high stakes as a building exploding or aliens from another dimension being released into our own, it does have the same effect.

It’s our job to realize that we can totally change our perspective of the world at any time.

For example, there are plenty of people out there who have lost a limb and think they can’t be their former selves. That might be true, but it’s also totally possible that they could now be a better version of themselves now.

Also, there are homeless people who are constantly miserable and there are others who are fighting to get out of their funk. I’ve interviewed two people fairly recently who were both homeless in high school and now, years later, are living their dreams.

3. Why Should I Take Responsibility of Something I Didn’t Do?

I’ve mentioned this before, but Andrew Luck is a great example of a leader. In all of his post game interviews, he always takes the responsibility of a loss. And when the team wins, he sheds the glory to his teammates.

We all should try to be this humble in our own lives. Take responsibility even if it’s not our fault. And when we’re awarded, give thanks to those who have supported us.

Action Steps

As far as additional action steps to reinvent yourself, it might be worth your time to listen to a couple of interviews from those who had plenty of reasons to be a victim.
David Anderson, Antonio Smith, Jr., and Kristian Aleixo.

Also, you can learn more about crossing the thinking gap by checking out the newest version of Reinventing Yourself by Steve Chandler.

organic marketing

Organic Marketing Methods for the Artist and Musician

As an artist or musician, should you be using paid or organic marketing? Short answer: it depends. But let’s look at what might work for your situation.

Last night at this month’s Amplify Indy Experience, we showcased 2 speakers and 2 performances. The speakers consisted of an artist who works with steel as a canvas for his paintings and the president of the Indiana Filmmakers Network. We also had a couple of segments of future play performed as well as a band.

It was a pretty fun event!

As I was watching the event unfold, it occured to me that these individuals were very passionate about the work they were doing. Unfortunately, as I looked them up after the event, I realized that some of them weren’t doing much service to their work. They weren’t really getting the word out to the public that they existed!

Getting the Word Out

Since there’s not much difference from a business which fulfills a personal mission to being an artist, there are a lot of transferable skills and ideas that each side can teach each other. And to be frank, in the end, both want to do things they care about and they also want to make a living doing it.

So when it comes to getting the word out on what they’re doing, what can these artists learn from the online business world?

Well, as we know, there’s currently two types of marketing methods being used today. There’s paid and organic marketing. If you use Facebook and Instagram as a creative entrepreneur, you’ll probably see a lot of hype about paid marketing methods. But interestingly, a lot of people that started their online businesses 10 years ago used organic methods to to get the word out.

So which one should you be using to get your work out into the world?

I think it depends on what you’re trying to accomplish and what kind of resources you have available to you.

PAID OR ORGANIC marketing? WHICH should You use?

Let’s say that you’re just starting out like some of the artists from last night’s event. You’re going to approach things much different than someone who already has a following and money to spend.

For one, since you’re not pulling in much income from your work, there’s a pretty fair chance that you’ll be frugal about where you’re spending your time and resources. Since that’s the case, paid marketing might not be the best idea.

Another thing to consider is that even if you have a budget to spend on advertising from say a previous company or work, you have to consider if you have the systems in place to deal with a huge influx of interest and leads.

If you’re a painter like our artist, for example, then having this big campaign for your work might not make the most sense.


For starters, you can only physically produce so many pieces. However, if you were doing prints of this work and had a website set up that automatically took orders, then that might be a better match.

Of course, you’d have to think about how you’re making those prints. Are you physically making each one yourself or is a third party doing it? (Just make sure that third party is up to your standard in quality.)

Something else to consider is exclusivity. Do you want to even have prints and/or copies of your work out there? If not, then you’ll definitely want to work in the organic world vs blasting it out to a million people on Facebook and Instagram.

Types of Organic marketing

So, as we’ve looked at why you probably don’t want to touch paid marketing yet, let’s look at the options you have in organic marketing.

Simple Posts and Videos

You need to start somewhere. But where? Well, that’s a good question. There’s several answers to this, but a common one is start where you can post for free. There’s nothing wrong about posting on your FB personal profile or Instagram account. If you’re an artist, post about your process of creating the piece. Break it down about why you’re creating the piece that you’re creating. It has a story, share it.

Obviously, if you’d prefer to do it in video format, you can do that too on YouTube. There’s plenty of makers who do one project, talk about the process, and then move onto the next project.

Direct Outreach

So maybe, posting all the time on Facebook or Instagram isn’t your thing. Sure you might post something here and there, but you don’t want to run on some “fake” schedule. Maybe you don’t want to document EVERYTHING. Or maybe you’re more introverted and only want to talk about your work with those you think might benefit from it. If any of these sound familiar, then you might want to consider using my personal favorite of marketing, direct outreach.

Just like in the real world, there’s tons of groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. If we’re going with the painter example, search for a handful of groups that interest you. (Make sure you stick to only a handful however, you don’t want oversaturate your feed!!) Start participating in those groups regularly and before you know it, people look at you as an expert in your craft.

Once that’s the case and people are pretty familiar with you and your work, they might actually ask to have a commission done, or if your a musician, buy your album.

Make People Take Notice

When I was growing up, I remember receiving samples of products in the mail. Cereal seemed to have made it through a couple of times. Toothpaste was one we received at one point as well. And if I remember right, bars of soap were sent a couple of times as well.

What’s interesting is that I remember these particular products because they were in the mail. They stood out from everything else.

Back in first half of the 20th century, there used to be all kinds of ads that were placed on the side of the road. One of which I remember in particular was a product called Burma-Shave. They would have multiple red little signs spaced far enough apart that would only make sense if you were going 35 mph or more. These signs would actually spell out a short sentence and at the end of the series of signs there was always one that had the logo on it.

What do these promotions have in common? They were noticeable. They weren’t promoted like other items similar to them.

So, as an artist, how might you stick out from the pack? Perhaps if you’re a painter, you might go to an art fair. But on top of that, why don’t you paint while you’re there? Or if you’re a musician at a music festival, go out and meet the crowd before you play.

Leveraging Pre-Existing Networks, Local TV and Publications

If you’ve been in business before, you might have heard that it’s a good thing to own your own list. This is true for anyone who’s trying to make a living from their work.

For example, when Dane Maxwell started his music career a couple of years ago, he didn’t start from scratch. In fact, he used the list that he had already developed as he was building The Foundation. While on the surface the fans of each not be the same, there was in fact a lot of overlap because people knew Dane and wanted to see what he was up to next.

If you don’t have your own list, then there’s nothing wrong with using those of others. Whether it’s through an appearance on TV, or an editorial in a local magazine, take these opportunities to show your work. You never know who’s going to be in the audience!

Collaborate with other Artists

I’m sure you’ve heard songs over the years that are credit for one singer but are “featuring” someone else. Just like the previous examples, musicians often times partner with people who are more well known than they are. This gets them exposed to a larger audience.

Likewise, perhaps you’re a painter. Remember that thing about being noticed? Perhaps you can collaborate with other painters to make mural in your city or town? Or perhaps you can help host an event?

In the online entrepreneurial space, we would call these doing joint ventures. However, as a real world artist, you have so many more ways of working with others!

Action Steps

So there have it, folks. A few ways to get out into the world as a new artist or musician. If that doesn’t describe you, don’t worry about it! All of these are ideas that can be used in a regular business as well.

Again, I’d use these methods to build up whatever it is you’re doing before you start with the paid methods.

For one, you want to make sure that people want what you’re offering.

But two, you want to make sure that you have the structure (systems) in place that would allow you to benefit from it.

For example, if you were to do a webinar for a list of people who knew you from something else (like Dane), there’s a good chance they won’t buy your new thing. It’s not that they don’t like you, they’re just not interested in your new project. (There’s nothing wrong with that… not all of Dane’s followers from The Foundation days follow his music.)

However, if you were to use that same webinar with a well placed Facebook Ad which targeted the right demographic of people, then you might actually see a good ROI initially. Problem is, if you’re doing things manually on your end, it might be awhile before those folks who raise their hands as interested hear back from you. By the time they do, they might have moved on to something else. So, what looks like it was a great campaign at first, may end up not being as great because you weren’t able to follow through quickly.

Anywho, as usual, I could go on about this topic. But I hope that helps some of you struggling artists out there get your work to those people who need it!

real income

How to Get Real Income and Recognition as A Creative Entrepreneur

In the last decade, entrepreneurship has exploded. Especially the online entrepreneurial scene. If you get connected to it on Facebook as much as I am, then all you’ll see are ads for courses, events, and plenty of “friends” offering free value for people to like them and eventually buy from them.

There’s such an ocean of online creative entrepreneurs these days, that it’s easy to be overlooked when you’re beginning. Especially if you do B2B work (which I’m not necessarily a fan of the terms B2B or B2C terminology).

So, instead of going the route that we’ve all been trained to believe is the only way, I have a idea for you I was reminded of from a book I’m reading called the Win Without Pitching Manifesto.

In the book, author Blair Enns shares with us the mindset that we need to use to be seen as an expert in our art and work. He does this through Twelve Proclamations which, when I read them, I was like “Yes, yes, YES! Finally someone is telling it like it should be!”

Practitioners Don’t Present, Stars Don’t Audition

See, here’s the thing. The whole idea of sharing content and essentially your work for free is a relatively new idea. Before the internet, what was heard or seen in popular culture was generated by networks, large labels, and celebrities. Nothing was “free”. Not even the music you heard on the radio or TV. It was (and continues to be) paid for the same way that Facebook is paid today – ads!

As hard as it is to imagine today, not all millionaires and billionaires made their fortunes through the internet. Sure, the internet changes things a bit, but like anything else, it should be seen as a tool.

Believe it or not, there are “online entrepreneurs” today who never built an audience until they were already millionaires. In the most recent session of the AoL Podcast with Tony Whatley, we find that he became a millionaire while he was still working a day job as a mechanical engineer! It’s only now that he’s building his audience.

Same thing with Damion Lupo of session 125. He made his millions in the real estate way before building an online following.

Popularity doesn’t necessarily transfer to profit. Is it a way? Sure. Is it the only way? No.

Personally, I’d rather be a practitioner and NOT a performer.

Embrace Your Inner Expertise

As Blair said in his book, no matter what you make, have experience in, or help others do, it’s much easier to work with them when you’re not constantly pitching your services.

Here’s the general idea of how online marketing usually goes down:

We have been trained to think that we must give work for free so we can show our value. Once we show our value, then we have the potential to market. Then, as we market regularly, we might see some sales if we have a product that’s desired by our audience.

The problem with that is that when we pitch our work and services to potential clients and customers, we’re giving them the power to control if they want to buy from us.

However, if we were to approach sales like a lawyer, doctor, or a mechanic then you don’t give up that control.

Doctors, lawyers, and mechanics never do free work. Any time we go to them, we expect to pay (unless of course it’s a pro bono case) for their efforts.

Why should we as creative entrepreneurs think any differently?

Examine, Solution, Implementation

So how do doctors, lawyers, and mechanics work that’s different than other entrepreneurs?

For one, they respect their work. They know that the person who’s talking to them can’t do what they can. Therefore, if they don’t work with them, their problem won’t be solved.

This is called positioning.

Next, through examination, they determine if they’re a fit for what the potential client needs. They do this by offering a vague solution so the client has an idea of what the situation calls for, but they don’t give all the step by step instructions in how to do it.

Next, once the potential client believes that the solution that has been given to them is what is needed, they agree to pay once the expert’s work is implemented.

In our situation, we might not feel comfortable with that arrangement, so we might only implement after payment. Or, you could go halvsies and pay 50% before the work and the rest after the job is done.

Action Steps

Anyhow, guys. This is some advice that I hope you think about. If you’re an artist and want to be rewarded for your work, then this approach will get you more commissions.

Of course, you’ll need to go to more trade shows, go to more conferences, and/or pay for more ads on social media, but it’s much more efficient then hoping you’ll get results.

Oh, and don’t forget to check out that book! It’s a game changer!

community builders

6 Simple Practices for Community Builders

As we all know, it’s one thing to have the heart to want to make a difference in your community. It’s quite another to actually express that in a way that others can understand.

In the last post, I wrote about the mindset it takes to have an impact in your community. Essentially, if you want to grow your community, you have the community in mind as you’re working.

Meaning if you’re working with a nonprofit, for example, you want to be working with those people the nonprofit is meant to help to reach solutions. Same could be said about developing an online following. If you want people to engage with you, you have to reach out first.

But what does it mean to reach out? To be someone who cares? What are the actions that this person takes?

Here’s 6 simple practices to help you reach out and start impacting the lives of others.

6 Practices of a Community Builder

Listen and Examine

The first place you want to start when making an impact for your community is to simply listen. What are some of the problems that aren’t being addressed? Out of these problems, are there some issues you could personally help with? Is there something that sounds like it’d be fun, but maybe you don’t know that much about?

If so, get good at asking questions and digging deeper. This process, called Idea Extraction, is a skill just about anyone can put to use in their work.

Skill Up and/or Branch Out

Once you learn what the issues are in your community, it’s time to figure out some solutions. In the entrepreneurial space, this could be anything from coming up with a service of some sort to creating some software, or even creating a course that people can take on a particular topic.

If you’re in the nonprofit space, maybe you find out that a group of people aren’t being addressed the way you’d like. What would be the solution to that which would be beneficial to everyone in the community? How can you make it a win-win-win?

In either situation, you can choose to do the work yourself (or learn to) or you can team up with someone who’s already well vetted in the work you’re looking to do. A great skill to have is one where you find problems and plug people into them who are naturally gifted at fixing that kind of issue.

Act like Nick Fury and find your team!

Plan Together

Now that you’re starting to put together your own group of Avengers, it’s a good idea to get their input as far as decision making goes. Forming a council or a board of these early folks is a great idea so that you can regularly bounce ideas off of each other.

One thing you don’t want to do is to be the one constantly making decisions for the entire group. If you find yourself in that role, then there might be some things you don’t see and people might inadvertently keep info from you that would have helped make a better decision.

So make sure this group of yours plans together regularly to avoid these issues. Also, there’s the added benefit in iron sharpening iron… if you’ve selected the right people.

Oh, and make sure that these meetings are kept to a minimum. Idea people love to think things out, but if you include implementers into this meeting, they might just lose interest.

Mobilize and Implement

In the US military, there are two distinct groups of people. There are enlisted folks and then there’s officers. Officers are the supervisors of the enlisted. While they think about what needs to be done, the enlisted people have to figure out how to actually get it done.

In this new group of yours, it makes sense to plan. However, great plans don’t lead to great results on their own. You’ll need to take action to get the desired effect you want.

What’s great is that usually your implementers are usually not the idea people in your group. So make sure you let them figure out how something will actually get done once you figure out what that something is!

Adjust and Re-adjust When Necessary

Here’s the thing about implementing a plan. Sometimes it might not work out the way you thought it was going to go. In fact, most of the time, it’s not going to work out the way that you first expected it to. However, that’s not a problem. You’re not a sniper. You don’t have to calculate all the things that can go wrong with your one shot before you take it. Instead, you should think of yourself as someone who’s in control of a machine gun. Fire, then adjust your aim until your bullets start hitting the mark.

So, for example, what does this mean in the nonprofit world? Let’s assume you’re working with people who have a specific kind of health related issue. It’s your job to get them the care they need or connect them to people who can. However, they’re not showing up to their appointments with you or with the other people who can help them.

Why? Why is that not happening? It’s NOT your job to blame them for not seeking the help. It’s your job to reach them where they’re at!

Celebrate Wins

I’m sure there’s people out there that say that they don’t like taking the time to celebrate a job done well. However, those people are few and far between.

Truth is, people like being rewarded for their efforts. And sometimes, the work might be hard, and sure the outcome was worth it, but it might feel a little empty to some of your group members. They might feel like they’re being taken advantage of.

So make sure to celebrate the successful campaigns, the stressful events, and the big launches. Your team will feel like you actually appreciate them and will want to continue to put the effort into this meaningful work.

Action Steps

Now that you see what kind of work it takes to build a community, it’s up to you to fit in the details. This is simply a formula that works for just about any kind of mission. If you have any questions regarding some of the specifics of any of these steps, ask below. I’d love to tell you how we handled something for Amplify.

community building

4 Principles of Community Building

Those of us who are influencers have to repeatedly ask ourselves “Who or what am I trying to influence?” Who am I trying to help? The reasons for this varies, but I think a big part of it lies in our internal motivations.

What do we internally find important?

When it comes to the Reiss Motivation Profile, I have four motivators that lie outside of the bell curve: Curiosity, Idealism, Saving, and Honor.

When I took this test earlier this year, I struggled a bit to see where these motivators fit into my life. However, as I reflected more, I realized that my interest in politics and community building comes from these core motivators.

  • Curiosity leads me to want to keep on the forefront on whatever’s going on. I’m always asking Why?
  • Idealism leads me to ask if the situation is fair. And if it isn’t, how can it be made that way?
  • Saving shows its head by seeing the value in things that have been forgotten or are considered outdated by most.
  • And Honor pops up by me asking “What’s the right thing to do?” in just about every situation.

While I think this gives me a bit of a natural interest in working with people in my town and state, not all current or future community leaders are going to have the same motivations.

So, let’s look a bit into some of the internal principles that a successful community builder believes in.

Community Building Principles

While not every community builder has the same motivations, there are some key ideas that will help a person be successful in this role.

Go to the People

The first thing we need to focus on is the people inside the community. You can’t build a community if you don’t help those that are in it day in and day out. And to find out what people need in a community, it would make sense to go where the people are. Whether that’s in social gatherings, local meetings, or large events, you need to get out and be with the people you want to help.

Just Start

When many of us first start working on something we care about, we often think that we have to have credentials showing that we’re capable of being helpful. But that’s not always the case. In fact, most of the time we feel like we’re capable of doing something ONLY after we’ve put the time into learning it.

So, in other words, you have to start somewhere. Start with what you know and build on what you have.

Be Generally Helpful

When we are first starting out in our craft or working in our community, we often don’t feel like what we’re doing is up to standard or having the effect that we’d want it to. Which is fine – you just started!

Often the best strategy we can have is to reach out and see if we can learn from anyone who’s going down our path who’s just a bit further ahead of us or, better yet, learn from people who are already where we want to be. You need to engage with all of these individuals. That means, be available, be accountable, and be helpful whenever you can. For example, if you have a ton of connections (like me) make sure that those people are meeting each other regularly. If your gift is organization, then help people get more organized. You’d be surprised how little things mean a lot to people at all levels.

Keep the Community in Mind

When we see politicians start their campaigns they make all kinds of promises. They have an agenda, and unlike the last guy who was in office, they’re going to stick to them.

Many times, however, we see politicians let the power go to their head once they’re in and they’ll do just about anything to stay in that role – even if it goes against what they previously said they were going to do.

When you’re working in the community and you’re known to do a certain thing or be a particular role, never forget why you started it in the first place. If you do, there’s a good chance that you’re not doing the work that needs to be done. Furthermore, there’s probably a chance that you’re going to get replaced.

Action Steps

So there’s a few things you need to keep in mind as you’re setting out to make an impact. To be clear, this is simply some things to consider as you’re doing you and adding value where you can.

That said, there are a few practices you can make into habits that will help you keep these principles in check. We’ll be talking about those in the next post. In the meantime, think about the actions you currently perform in your work and how they’re of benefit to your community. If it’s a bit of a stretch to make the connection, then the next post is for you.

out of curiosity

Out of Curiosity… Why Asking More Questions Leads to More Creativity and Solutions

When I was growing up, I remember that I was always curious about how things worked. “How does a controller send signals to the TV to control Mario?”, “How could people build things as big as the pyramids?”, or even something like “Why is the Great Wall of China still around after all these years?” were examples of questions I’d find myself asking.

Little did I know that when I found an interest in Leonardo Da Vinci, I’d learn that he too was a curious mind. And what I’ve come to find out since is that creatives, especially creative leaders, are curious in general.

In this post, let’s dive a little deeper into this idea that curious minds (and understanding them as a leader) lead to better results for your team and business.

Curiosity at Play

I often to think of myself as a gatekeeper when it comes to information – a natural advisor. When it comes to the social circles I find myself in, I’m usually the one that knows random pieces of information that actually help find the solution. When I look at this characteristic and how it plays a role in my life, I don’t think I can find a better example of it in play than when I was on my high school’s Quiz Bowl team.

Quiz Bowl, if you’ve never heard of it, is basically a game where two teams compete through answering trivia. The team that answers a particular question correctly first, gets the point. On a well rounded team, the members know info about all kinds of topics. And interestingly enough, it’s often suggested that players watch Jeopardy to get practice in when we’re not practicing together.

That being the case, the members of my team were all over achievers. In fact, at times, I felt a little out of place. There were your typical book worms, sure. But there was also a few players who didn’t care about grades nearly as much as they cared about art, music, or their other usual extracurricular activities.

We were all curious. We all had great imaginations (we often referred to Whose Line Is It Anyway? and Star Trek on bus rides). And I have to admit, many members of the team were pretty damn creative.

Curiosity Yields Opportunity

While I don’t remember what each member of this team went off to do after I graduated high school, I do remember that I felt at home at Purdue when I started on my engineering degree. Not only were my friends and I focused on our school work, but we were constantly having conversations where we were asking “What If?” or “How Can I?”. We were always asking questions. And later, when I got involved with various student organizations, it was because of these brainstorming sessions that we were able to come up with all kinds of tasks and question.

Truth being, to get anything done in a particular group, you had to think outside of the box. Be it finding new sensors for a robot that was being built in IEEE to finding funding opportunities for projects in Alpha Phi Omega, thinking outside of the box was the norm.

So, from my perspective, the more questions you ask, the more options you get. And because you have more options, you’ll have more answers or solutions.

Roadblocks of Curiosity


If you follow this blog at all, you might know that I’m not a huge fan of the current formal education system. Main reason? It’s hugely out of date. It’s not designed to be super flexible and frankly, most students are being left behind because they’re being told what to think, not how to think.

I started realizing this in grad school when I figured out that college wasn’t for everyone. I’d often find myself asking “Why are these students even in this class?”. Sometimes because there were some who didn’t put effort in their work, but others because they simply just didn’t seem to fit. Their personal gifts were more artistic, more EQ driven, and sometimes even more “real world” friendly.

These students were forced to think that formal education was the only way to get ahead. And 10 years later, I’ve realized that these students should have had education crafted more towards them as an individual than a one size fits all solution.

That’s what formal education is and it simply doesn’t work for everyone.

Training Managers vs Leaders

Another thing I realized during this time is that the traditional business world – the corporate world –  is the only other place where it’s frowned upon to be creative. While I was teaching in OLS, we would make it a point to remind students that an MBA is typically focused more on managing processes while our department was more focused on managing people.

It’s because of this that I think the corporate world sponsors more employees to seek an MBA. They don’t necessarily want leaders, they want managers.

These are two big hurdles in today’s world that prohibits people from being more creative.

Action Steps

So, at this point you might wondering “Ok, I have a team that could possibly be a bit more creative in their work. How do I help them get outside of the box when it comes to problem solving?” Here’s a few ideas to keep in mind:

Let Creativity Flourish!

I think, the first thing we have to realize is that creative people are inherently risky. Because they’re outside of the box, there’s going to be times when they’ll cross boundaries or simply be a bit rebellious. So you have to be willing to give them some space to work in their own world and come up with ideas. When it comes to these individuals, you’ll have to be comfortable with leaving the rule book at the door.

Help Flush Out Ideas

Speaking of ideas, another thing you want to do with creative types is work with them as they’re developing new ideas. As a business owner, you have to see them as your scientists or scouts. They’ll have many hypotheses or a half baked ideas, but they might not have thoroughly tested them. Instead of waiting for the entire process to conclude, it should be part of your job as a servant leader to help them through. Not only will you be able to sniff the idea out and determine if it’s useful for not, but if it is, you can implement it in your business quicker. Of course you have to work on your own curiosity to help them out!!

Be a Servant Leader

And finally, again as a servant leader, it’s your job to not do everyone’s job all the time, but make sure that every part of the business is working smoothly.

Take a restaurant manager as an example.

It’s not their job to just sit in the back and have the other employees come to them with issues. Sure, there might be some time in doing this, but they also need to be able to check in with those who are cleaning tables, dispensing ice cream, working the drive-thru, and serving food regularly. If they wait for something to actually go wrong until they address an issue, that’s not being proactive – that’s reactive. And we know that leaders can not be reactive!!

A quote I saw this week, goes like this:

“If you look at the people in your circle and you don’t get inspired, you don’t live in a circle, you live in a cage.”

– John Maxwell

In that same instance, don’t be the one creating the cage.