Saturday, September 29, 2007

More Articles, Stories, Observations For You

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Here are some more articles, stories, observations and tips from the past year at Adversity University:

1. Power of Thanking People w/ Handwritten Notes - I'm a big believer in taking the time to thank people who helped you in some way, with personalized thank you notes, which I think goes a long way these days. This is another one of those "timeless" articles that will never go out of style.

2. Passion at Southwest Airlines - One of my favorite airlines on what passion can do for the entire company. This is one of the secrets of a very successful company that knows how to infuse passion from the bottom all the way to the top.

3. Entertaining the Possibilities at Southwest Airlines - How SWA got their start despite a rough beginning because they were willing to "entertain the possibilities" and ask themselves "can we do this?" Apparently, they thought they could because look at where they are today!

4. Acting on Intuition at Southwest - This is a story about what a flight attendant once did for an elderly passenger who missed her connection. It's a heartwarming story that all companies should pay heed to.

I hope you enjoy the re-posting of some of my earlier stories today. Be sure to comment if you feel inspired to do so. I love hearing from readers of AU. Have a great rest of the weekend! There's more coming in the coming days.
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Friday, September 28, 2007

More Stuff from the Past Year

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Did you enjoy some of the earlier articles in yesterday's post? In an effort to celebrate the existence of this blog, I am bringing back some of old articles I wrote when Adversity University was just getting started for old times sake.

1. The Importance of Surrounding Yourself with the Right People - I was experiencing a challenge with some people that did not feel good to be around, prompting this article. It's been over a year since I last associated with those people b/c I felt it was detrimential to being in their presence so I had to take action. This article helped me help myself! It's a timeless article.

2. Winston Churchill - KOB: A short article about him after watching a movie about his life.

3. Battling the Weeds of Adversity - A humorous story written by fellow speaker Tony Brigmon who was mowing the lawn at his house.

4. Blizzard Housecleaning - A story of what happened when driving through a howling blizzard in Canada.

5. Faith Realignment, It's How You See It - Consciously setting the tone when you wake up.

That's all for today folks! Expect some more tomorrow, over the weekend and the beginning of next week! Be sure to comment if you're enjoying these old stories and articles from the past. Let me know which ones impacted you the most, I'd love to hear from you!

And one last thing. Thanks for signing up and being such a strong part of Adversity University! I enjoy writing for you and sharing my experiences with you.
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Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Blast From the Past

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At this point, I've written almost 150 blog posts since April 17, 2006, the day Adversity University was officially born. A lot has happened since then and I wanted to celebrate its existence by bringing back some of the articles that very few people got to see since I was just starting out.

1. My Very First Blog- a short introductory piece. Number of readers: 0

2. On the Road for Speaking Engagements - sharing an experience I had with a speaking engagement.

3. Imagine You're in the Clouds and You Break Out - a pretty picture showing what it's like being a pilot through instrument weather (i.e. "bad weather") and then breaking out of the clouds to see the runway in front of you. It's the greatest feeling in the world!

4. An Actual Instrument Approach - a link to a Google Video of an actual approach to an airport through bad weather. Although this was not a video of my flight, I've experienced similiar conditions numerous times.

5. Is Your Price Too Low? - a link to a great article about the value of pricing your services higher than you've been charging.

6. Universal Secrets of Turning Adversity Into Possibilities - my first real "self-help" post.

Tomorrow, I'll add some more from "way back when" to give you a chance to see some of the earlier posts. I hope you enjoy going back there with me for a bit.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Attention: Calling All Teachers

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In addition to asking everyone to help me pass forward a special YouTube video showing the ripple effect my fifth grade teacher made on me, I have more goodies for teachers everywhere.

There's a fun contest being run by my good friend, Michael Werner, CEO of InfoSource. They are calling it "Perk Up Your Classroom." Won't you take a moment of your time and visit them to find out what it's all about? They are offering cool prizes including Amazon gift certificates, supplies from Staples, and an Ipod Shuffle!
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Monday, September 24, 2007

Stephen a Guest at Popular "Pick the Brain" Blog

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This morning I am off to Traverse City, Michigan for a speaking engagement, returning tomorrow (Tuesday) night. I will be speaking to a group of CEO's who specialize in health care risk management and patient care issues. The title of my talk will be "How to Turn Adversity Into a University of Possibilities." You can see the agenda here if you're curious.

Meanwhile, popular "Pick the Brain" blog with over 7,000 readers gave me an opportunity to share 7 ways of dealing with difficult people in an article entitled "7 Tips for Resolving Conflicts Quickly and Peacefully." It is exactly the same article I once wrote (see "Most Popular Articles" in the right sidebar) called "How to Deal with Difficult People."

Enjoy the beginning of your week and when I return from Michigan, I will come back to Adversity University.
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Friday, September 21, 2007

Passing a YouTube Video Forward

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The Ask! Ask! Ask! article from two days ago generated such a great response that led me to Peggy Collin's very helpful, "Ten Ways to Ask for Help Without Feeling Helpless." I was so surprised that there was someone out there who actually specialized in teaching people how to ask for help!

Peggy's list actually gave me an idea. While I've shown the following YouTube video before, I've never actually asked you to help me pass it along. According to traffic statistics at Adversity University, about 100 people a day stop by for a visit. If each one of you took a few minutes to forward this video to 5 people on your list, that you personally know would be inspired by its contents, that means at least 500 people could witness the power of three words that once tumbled out of a fifth grade teacher's lips so many years ago.

As you will see in the video, Mrs. Jordan simply said three words, "THAT'S RIGHT, STEPHEN!", forever causing a ripple effect that continues to expand even 30 years later. I have written a book with that title (which I expect to publish in 2008) and plan to do a bus tour that same year. By speaking of how much of difference she made in my life, this is my way of giving back to her and reminding current/future teachers that they are very much needed in today's classroom.

Can you imagine if teachers knew the potential impact on their students the way Mrs. Jordan impacted mine?

Will you help me pay it forward? You are invited to do this a couple of ways:

1. Click the "Share" button at the end of the video and follow their instructions (YouTube provides three ways of passing this forward easily and effortlessly).

2. At the end at the very bottom of this post, there's an icon resembling a tiny envelope. Click on that and you'll be able to forward the entire blog entry to people you think should see this.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ask! Ask! Ask!

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The Abraham-Hicks book, Ask and It is Given, inspired me to write today's post. One of the greatest things we can do for ourselves is to ask for something we want. The trouble is those who were our early influencers while we were young (i.e. parents, teachers, siblings, friends, caregivers and/or authority figures) may have admonished us with a withering look that signaled that it was not okay to ask for help. (Photo credit: Amber Waves).

If you asked for help in school, you were probably called a "brown noser" or maybe a "teacher's pet." Perhaps you've heard someone say to you, "Quit bothering me and do what you're told," "I don't want to hear about it," "I don't have time for this right now," or "You're so selfish, all you ever think about is yourself!"

After a lifetime of hearing those comments, we're programmed to think we can't ask for help or pose a question without appearing stupid. We become fearful of being met with one of those looks-that-could-kill. We learn very quickly that it's not okay to ask stupid questions or appearing to ask for a handout.

So what happens later in life? We subconsciously hold ourselves back, afraid to ask, hoping someone will read our minds and reach out to us first.

Well, no one ever said it was easy to ask for what you want but the rewards are immeasurable if you just take that chance. No one has ever succeeded on their own - it's impossible to. Not if you want to take yourself to the next level.

Several months ago, I hired a designer to completely overhaul my speaking website. When she was done, I realized there was something missing. I needed something that would boost my creditability as a professional speaker. After all, I charge thousands of dollars to give a speech. If you were in a position to hire me to give a motivational talk, wouldn't you at least want the reassurance that your investment would be well worth spent? I know I would.

What was needed was a couple of video testimonials from those who were considered heavyweights within their fields who were not only well respected and well known but also heard me speak. After all, how could they say I was a good speaker with a good story if they hadn't been at one of my speeches?

So I got to thinking who I could ask for help in that area. A couple of names immediately came to mind. They were Howard Putnam, former CEO of Southwest Airlines who is in great demand as a business speaker and author of critically acclaimed "Winds of Turbulence" and Mark Sanborn, another popular business speaker, blogger and national best-selling author of "The Fred Factor."

Now, before I go any further, I want to relate to you some of my earlier experiences with asking for help. Yours truly has been accused numerous times as a youngster of being a "brown noser." Due to my disability, I often had to ask others to repeat themselves if I didn't understand what was being said, especially in the classroom or in social situations, only to receive a dramatic rolling of the eyes and a heavy sigh. After years of putting up with reactions like that, I eventually stopped asking because it used to be my perception that people just didn't want to be bothered.

Boy, did I pay a heavy price for that attitude!

Little did I know that people, by nature, are generous and don't mind being asked for assistance if given the opportunity. It certainly helps if you believe in yourself and demonstrate that you are someone with potential. People like to be associated with those who they perceive as winners. Even if you have a couple of flaws, they still want to help you because your likeability factor is pretty high on the scale. If you're an authentic person, others can't help but wanted to be affiliated with you. Whether or not they get anything in return (other than the satisfaction of helping a "deserving person"), they're more than likely willing to lend you a hand.

When those two people came to mind, because of years of programming, I almost held back and didn't ask. Thoughts like "They're too busy," "Don't bother them because this would be too much trouble" immediately bombarded my mind. Fortunately, I had done enough reprogramming of the mind by that point to stop those thoughts from turning into an avalanche.

So I went ahead and boldly asked if they would be willing to do a short video testimony for my website. What helped was that I remained detached from the results. The worst that could happen was a polite, "Perhaps sometime in the future" or an outright "Thanks for thinking of me but my current schedule does not allow me the luxury of doing so, perhaps I could recommend someone else."

Imagine my pleasant surprise when both of them replied favorably! With today's technology, they were able to do it by using a simple video camera within the comfort of their homes, download it into a video file and send me an email attachment. That was all there was to it! You can see their video testimonials here.

Until I do a survey of clients who have hired me since those videos were uploaded, I won't know if I was commissioned to speak solely on the basis of those video testimonials, but I am willing to bet my bottom dollar that if I hadn't asked for their help, I might not have gotten some of those engagements! So I want to publicly thank Howard and Mark for the time and effort they took to do a video for me.

Is it easy to ask for help? Heck, no! Especially if you are asking someone whose visibility, popularity or earnings power far exceed those of your own but you won't know until you ask.

What's more, if there's anything I've learned from asking, it's that many of these successful people did not get to where they are today if they didn't receive help somewhere along the line. So they really do want to help you, especially if they see you have potential. Everyone wants to be associated with a winner. Believe in yourself first and then go ask for help. Otherwise why should they believe in your potential if you don't think you have any yourself?

Henry Ford once said, "If you think you can do it, you can. If you think you can't do it, then you won't. Either way, you're right!" Wow!

Food for thought: There's nothing wrong with asking for help. If you don't ask, you won't get. People can't read your mind - so why not go ahead and give it a shot? The worst they can say is "No." How bad can that be?
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Monday, September 17, 2007

10 Magical Ways to Feel More Abundant

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As a follow up to "The Importance of Feeling Good," I found some great ways of making myself feel financially abundant, regardless of the present state of my bank account. It works amazingly well because as I'm doing them, I truly get excited. According to the Law of Attraction, you have to feel good about abundance before it can flow into your experience.

I am and will always be a continuing student of the Law of Attraction. Even though I've heard of Jerry and Esther Hicks, a husband and wife team who teach Law of Attraction principles through a spirit guide named Abraham, it wasn't until recently when I felt inspired to learn more about them. One day I kept seeing their names all over the place and realized that the universe was sending me a message to look into their teachings. So I went on Amazon and ended up buying two of their books: The Law of Attraction and Ask and It is Given.

I read both of them in three days. Yes, three. They were that good. As a result, I was given some really great tips on fun ways to feel more abundant.

1. Withdraw a $100 bill from your bank account (an actual $100 bill, don't ask the teller to break it up into twenties, tens, etc.). Put it in your wallet or purse. Several times a day, open it and look at it. I don't know about you, but it's been a very long time since I've physically seen a $100 bill. But every time I see one, I get excited. As you go throughout the day, imagine spending it 20 or 30 times. Say to yourself, I can afford to get (name of product you see or think of). What will happen is you'll increase your financial well-being vibration by spending two or three thousand dollars a day. The universe sees that you are feeling good about money and will respond by giving you more of it. Why? Because here you're focusing on abundance, not the lack of it. For years I rarely carried cash on me. My wallet was always empty because I was using my debit card to keep track of expenditures by recording them on Quicken (financial software). Every time I opened my wallet to find it empty, how do you think it made me feel? What do you think will happen when I see a crisp $100 in there instead?

2. Create a fake bank account on your finance software (i.e. Quicken) or if you don't have one, buy yourself a ledger. On Day 1, deposit $1,000 and increase daily deposits by an extra $1,000. For example on Day 1=$1,000. Day 2=$2,000, Day 3=$3,000, Day 25=$25,000. Create at least one deposit and one withdrawal every day. Before you make a withdrawal, have some fun with it and do research. Find out how much something you really want costs. You want that high definition TV from Best Buy? Look it up and then go "buy it." Do you owe money on your car? Look up the balance and pay it off! Pretty soon you'll be feeling quite prosperous. The universe does not know the difference between your real bank or fake bank account. What it responds to is the level of emotion you're experiencing. And if you have fun with it and "play along," you won't be able to help but feel a tremendous measure of excitement.

Several months ago I created a fictitious account and deposited $1,000,000. But I let it sit there, not doing anything with it. Even though I was looking at it often (because I reconcile my bank account online every morning), it was not generating much excitement because it didn't feel "real." Following the suggestions of Abraham-Hicks, yesterday I made my first deposit of $1,000 to this account. Then I looked up the balance of my car loan and paid it off. Let me tell you--it generated so much excitement that I actually felt abundant the rest of the day! The simple act of entering my first deposit and adding it to the $1M balance and then paying off my car loan in one fell swoop significantly ratcheted my "good-feeling" UP on the emotional scale!

I'm going to do this for one year and see what happens. Why don't you try it? The key it to have fun with it. Let your inner child come out and play. Then watch what happens. You might want to keep a journal of what financial manifestations you start to experience after that.

3. Get yourself a "treasure box" (perhaps a cardboard box) and write "Treasure Box" on it. Every time you see a picture in a magazine of something you desire whether it be new clothes, a nice house, a big TV, cut it out and put it in your treasure box. Put the box in a place where you can see it every day. On the days you feel "down" for whatever reason, dip into the treasure box and look through the contents and re-inspire yourself. Absorb the energy it gives you and breathe it in. An alternative to this is to get yourself a bulletin board and tack up those pictures and words (or phrases) so that you can absorb the feelings your "vision board" gives you.

4. Look in your closet and wear the nicest clothes that you have in there. Wear whatever clothes make you feel "abundant." For me I love wearing attractive polo shirts and docker pants (or shorts). It makes me feel prosperous when I dress in "business casual" clothing. Give yourself the gift of buying a nice outfit once in a while so that you can feel more prosperous with the clothes you have just bought yourself. Consciously decide that you will wear something that makes you feel good. And then wear it often. Why not?

5. Do you have a dream car? Why not visit your local dealership and go for a test drive? It won't cost you anything. The salesman will give you a couple of brochures to take home. Then cut out pictures of your dream car and put it in your treasure box (or up on the vision board).

6. Go on a huge rampage of appreciation. Consciously appreciate the beauty of nature or send thank you cards to people who have made a difference in your life. Yesterday, I was at a small lake with a friend. The autumn air was cool but the sun was out in full force. The water was incredibly calm, reflecting the trees surrounding it. I drank it all in, consciously thanking God for such beauty. By the time I left, I was feeling content.

7. Tithe 10 percent of your income to whatever source (i.e. your church, a nonprofit group) that provides you with spiritual nourishment. What you give away, you get back.

8. Volunteer your time, effort and resources to help others. For instance, I like to mow the lawn for my church so when I am in town, I do it at least once a week. It gives me a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of giving back.

9. Be truly grateful that success is happening for others.

10. Treat yourself to a very expensive dinner or stay in a fancy hotel for one night. Give yourself the gift of luxury and take it all in throughout the experience. This will make it easier to remember the sights, smells, sounds, feelings and tastes when visualizing yourself living that way later. It's like taking your dream car for a test-drive. Because you've actually experienced it, you'll have an easier time visualizing it.
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Friday, September 07, 2007

The Boy Who Sees Through Sound

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I came across a very inspiring article in People's online magazine about Ben Underwood, a skinny 14 year old blind boy who functions independently by "seeing sounds." It is a most incredible, inspiring story and I recommend you not only read the article but also click on the video link and see him in action.

Here's the link:,26334,1212568,00.html

Enjoy and be inspired!
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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A Friendship Story

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Everyone once in a while I stumble onto a story that I did not write but want to share with others. This is one of them. I chose to share it with you because it reminds me so much of what my fifth grade teacher did for me so many years ago. The Friendship Story has been floating around the Internet for some time now but I have no idea who wrote it. If you own the copyright to it or are the original composer of the piece, and wish to claim credit for it or want it taken down, please contact me immediately. Please also inform me if you are aware of its origin.

One day when I was a freshman in high school, I saw the new kid in my class walking home from school His name was Kyle. It looked like he was carrying all of his books. I thought to myself, "Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday? He must really be a nerd." I had quite a weekend planned with parties and a football game with my friends. So I shrugged my shoulders and walked on.

Just then a bunch of kids ran toward him, knocking the books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt. His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in the grass about ten feet from him. As he looked up, I saw a terrible sadness in his eyes. My heart went out to him. I jogged over to him, picked up the glasses and handed them to him.

"Those guys are jerks. They really should get lives," I commented.

He looked at me and said, "Hey, thanks!" There was a big smile on his face. It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude.

I helped him pick up his books and asked him where he lived. As it turned out, he lived near me. As we walked home, I discovered he was a pretty cool kid. I asked him if he would like to play football with me and my friends on Saturday. He said, "Yes." We hung out together all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him. My friends liked him too.

On Monday morning, I saw Kyle carrying his huge stack of books again. I stopped him and said, "Dang, boy you are gonna really build some serious muscle carrying this pile of books everyday!" He laughed and handed me half the books.

Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends. By our senior year, Kyle had filled out and looked great. He was one of those guys that really found himself during high school. All the girls loved him, and he always had lots of dates. He had studied hard and was valedictorian of our class.

On graduation day, he was to give a speech. I could see that he was nervous. So I smacked him on the back and said, "Hey, big guy, you'll be great!" He looked at me with one of those really grateful looks and smiled, 'Thanks."

He started his speech, "Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years: your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach, but mostly your friends. I am here to tell you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give."

Then he began to tell the story of the first day we met. I stared at him in disbelief when he told how he had planned to kill himself that weekend. He had cleaned out his locker so his mom wouldn't have to do it later. I heard a gasp go through the crowd as this handsome and popular boy told about his weakest moment.

He looked hard at me, gave me a little smile, and said, "Thankfully, my friend saved me from doing the unspeakable."

His mom and dad looked at me with a grateful nod. Not until that moment did I realize that in one small gesture I changed a person's life. Now I never underestimate the power of my actions. I learned that the support of a caring friend can impact someone in ways we may not fully understand and appreciate.

Food for thought: Doesn't this remind you of the fifth grade teacher story? Think of what the power of reaching out to someone can do for that person. It will forever cause a ripple effect. Whoever wrote the above story, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing it!
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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

"Pursue the Passion" Bus Tour Stops at Adversity University!

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From left to right: Noah Pollack, Zach Hubbell ("The Puppy"), myself and Brett Farmiloe. Not pictured is James Whiting ("Jay") who took this photo.

On Sunday, October 2nd, four young college graduates from the "Pursue the Passion" cross country bus tour stopped and visited me here at Adversity University in Akron, Ohio. In a previous article, I had written about Brett Farmiloe (far right side of the above photo) who started this whole project, to interview people from different backgrounds about their professional passion(s). They are now on a country-wide mission to find out how and why people succeed by doing what they love. is their major sponsor.

As a result of their visit, Brett wrote: What Confidence Can Do.

Brett and Zach once worked as corporate auditors (I did too - you may remember "Harry the Bank Boss" story - "Harry" was my irate boss in the auditing department at a Wall Street bank). Brett held me spellbound with a riveting tale of how he was planning to quit his job so that he could start this bus tour. One day his boss called him in to have a "talk." On her desk were two envelopes. One was a bonus and the other was a raise. Little did either of them know what they had in mind for that fateful meeting!

Zach (affectionately called "The Puppy" - if you ever meet him, you'll understand why they call him this), on the other hand, quit one week before the "Pursue of the Passion" bus tour started. Now that's passion, if you ask me! He was among the most frequent participants during the interview, asking a whole bunch of great questions.

Noah and James ("Jay") are both creative writing/music geniuses who met and became friends at the University of Arizona. You can read their blog at Class Project. Noah even wrote an article there about his visit to Adversity University: "Shut Up and Listen." Jay used to be a football player and told how he broke his collarbone three times. He was such a gifted and inspiring storyteller that I felt as if I were there, watching the whole thing unfold in front of me.

Each and every one of them had the magic ability to inspire me with the realization of latent possibilities. After their tour is over, they intend to write a book and produce a documentary. You could be a part of it. In fact, why don't you head over to Pursue the Passion schedule and see if they are coming your way soon? If they are, write Brett an email and introduce yourself. If they are heading your way and you're passionate about what you're doing, you most definitely qualify for an interview with them. It doesn't matter what it is that you do. As long as you are living your dreams and following your passion(s), they want to meet you!

Trust me, you can open your home to these extraordinary pacesetters. They are not only polite but exceedingly grateful for your time. Give them the use of your scrubbed down shower and provide them with a stack of clean smelling towels, they'll sing your praises until you tire of it. Give them a tray of delicious muffins and feed their hungry bellies, you've made friends for life! Talk about your innermost passions, they'll listen raptly and make you feel special because they have each mastered the fine art of listening.

Finally, and this is very rare, each one of them carry a heart the size of the world. By the time you bid them farewell, you won't be able to help but want to hug them tightly. That's exactly what I did. I stood there and watched their RV pull away while Noah opened the back window and thrust his fist in the air in victory.

Do yourself a favor and give yourself the same opportunity to have them in your midst - you'll forever remember the experience.

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