Personal values.

I believe reflection builds traction and both require routine. That said, I got into the habit – the routine – of a Sunday morning reflection of the week gone by to get traction on the week ahead.

This past week I had the pleasure of spending in-person together time with my Code42 friends and colleagues at the Disney Institute. We collaborated on everything from our company values and brand promise to our personal values and promises and how they intersect in ways that can delight our customers. I left reflecting on my personal values and promise. I have my 3 words (Positive, Present, Passionate), but have I ever written down my personal values & promise?

That was my epiphany. At Code42 we talk about our values almost everyday. We see them on our screens, hear them in presentations, talk about them in meetings and do our best to live them every day. Why don’t we do the same for our personal values? Why don’t we write them down, have them on our screen, talk about them, share them. We should. So, after much reflection, I thought I would start my week with traction – reminding myself what is most important to me. When it comes to delighting customers, teammates, peers –

I value making their voice, their time and their value matter more than mine. I believe everything is personal and that true leaders do the heavy lifting to make our customers, teammates and peers the hero.

So the year ahead is about getting traction on delighting my customers, teammates, peers by asking myself – is what I am doing making their voice, time and value matter? If not, stop.

What are your personal values? Write them down. Keep them in front of you. Share them and never compromise.

My 3 Words for 2022: Be Positive, Be Present, Be Passionate.

In 2021, my 3 words were: Room, Render, Rally. Each and every day I would write in my Full Focus Planner goals for that day – room goals, render goals and rally goals.  Every bit of my focus centered on my three 3 words. They became the lighthouses Chris Brogan describes:

The my 3 words idea is simple. Choose 3 words (not 1, not 4) that will help guide your choices and actions day to day. Think of them as lighthouses. “Should I say yes to this project… does this align with my three words?”

Chris Brogan

At the end of 2021, I began to wonder if I selected the right 3 words. Sure, I accomplished a lot last year. I had some great wins at work, but missed miserably on my personal and family goals. Why was that? Was I off balance? Were my priorities out of whack?

I set off on a journey to respond to those very questions with BetterUp and my coach and now friend, Will Wiebe. What I discovered, learned, used and experienced would set the groundwork for my 3 words in 2022 and my purpose, passion, promise and thus my priorities as a partner, father, friend, teammate and yes, leader.  Heck, I even wrote an eBook about the journey.

The journey culminated in my 3 words for 2022:

Be Positive: Being positive is about embracing the opportunities that come with each imperfection, flaw, stumble and mistake. It’s about the constant pursuit of better. It’s not complaining about things that are wrong, instead welcoming the chance to make things right, to make things better and grow. Being positive manifests itself in the words we use, the emotions we evoke and the actions we take. To be positive takes discipline, practice, routine and support. Support from those we depend on to tell us when we’re not and affirmation when we are. I can honestly say that I have not always been positive and it has a negative effect on those around me. I know this. I embrace it as an opportunity and I choose to pursue better and welcome the opportunity to grow. 

Be Present: Being present is about putting the phone down, being in the moment, looking people in the eye. It’s not multitasking during Zoom calls, or checking Instagram while your wife is talking, or worrying about that big presentation one week from now.  Being present does not mean I ignore the future or stop thinking strategically or setting long term goals. It means seeing each day, each moment as a strategic step and as progress towards my goals. It’s about trusting my vision, mission, purpose and promise and celebrating each opportunity, each step, each bit of progress that happens along the way.      

Be Passionate: Being passionate is about embracing my strengths, what makes me unique and staying true to myself.  It’s not about second guessing myself, my influence or my contributions. It’s about doing what I love, sharing what I experience and learn, and being authentic, transparent and yes, vulnerable when doing so. It’s never being afraid to take risks, never fearing what others think or setting expectations for myself that do nothing but knock me down. I know what I want and why I want it. I know what I need to do to get there and I know where to focus.  The only thing that can get in the way of being passionate is me.  

My read write render epiphany – it’s always personal [growth]

In my last post, which feels like forever ago, I made the personal commitment to start a new routine: read, write, render.  Admittedly, that has been easier said than done, or so I thought.

One thing that is routine for me is the read part. I read everyday.  Just an hour of reading or listening (Podcast) in the morning starts my day.  From random articles coming across my social feeds, to subscribed research pushed to my inbox, to the recommended content from family, friends, peers and coworkers, I’m never short of reading material (probably why I love the Pocket app so much).

Making time for reading is not the issue. It’s the making time to write then render (visually) that I thought was my achilles heel. Take for instance how I started this post, “In my last post, which feels like forever ago…”  – those words alone imply I’m holding myself to some standard on the volume of writing and rendering I push out via this blog or other channels.  That’s not the point of the routine. Read write render is not about unselfish acts of sharing some insight or thoughts with the masses x number of times a week, month or quarter.  My read write render – at its core – is personal.

It’s Always Personal [Growth]

I read everyday to be a better father, husband, friend, coach, mentor, marketer. I write every morning to remind myself of what’s important. I render everyday to challenge myself to think outside the box and always approach things with creative thinking.

Writing is not about turning some new found knowledge into a blog post.  Rendering is not about turning every idea into pictures and pushing it out via social media.  For me, writing and rendering is not supposed to be work. It’s supposed to be routine and in hindsight, I’ve been sticking to a routine fairly well.

From my Focus Planner to my Field Notes to my Idea Reel in PowerPoint, I’ve been reading, writing and rendering constantly. It’s become routine for me. I haven’t felt the need to throw everything that I read, write and render at you.  Instead, focus on the times when what I read, write and render is worth sharing, perhaps worth your time.

Compelled to share

Take for instance this morning.  Combing through Pocket, I read five articles. Two were related to remote work routines. Two centered on strategic focus and one was about scheduling time for creative thinking.  What felt like random topics when I started began to blend and gel into an epiphany, so naturally, following my routine, read turned into write and write turned into render.   This is what I wrote in my Focus Planner for today 08.08.20 under Myndfuel:

  1. Write everything down (Ironic, I know)
  2. Focus on the 30 percent (Steve Jobs rule)
  3. Schedule the work  (Full Focus Planner)

Embracing the change in my Talent DNA


In a leadership role, I’m a believer in playing to one’s strengths – including my own.  I’m also a believer in building upon one’s strengths, and that true balance comes from harnessing your strengths both personally and professionally.  That said, I’m a fan of Gallup’s CliftonStrengths Assessment. It defines strength as “Your Talent DNA – the ways you most naturally think, feel and behave,”   and it follows one simple formula:  Strength = Talent x Investment. I recently took my strengths assessment for the second time in 3 years, and my talent DNAhow I naturally think, feel and behave – changed.  I took the time to reflect on how and why strengths change and what it means for me and my team.

My Talent DNA in 2016

I took the CliftonStrength Assessment (aka StrengthsFinder) for the first time in 2016 and told me I lead with Strategic Thinking.  In 2016, my top 5 strengths were:

  1. Achiever – You work hard and possess a great deal of stamina. You take immense satisfaction in being busy and productive.
  2. Strategic – You create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, you can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.
  3. Relator – You enjoy close relationships with others. You find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.
  4. Includer – You accept others. You show awareness of those who feel left out and make an effort to include them.
  5. Maximizer – You focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. You seek to transform something strong into something superb.

I’m a believer in the power environment has on the way one thinks, works, and relates to others.  When I first took the assessment in 2016, my environment was much different. My kids were in their mid teens.  Our 1 year old chocolate lab puppy became a tripawd.  We were in the middle of completing a home remodel and I was traveling 3 weeks out of the month – everywhere from Seattle to Singapore.  I had just changed employers. I moved from an established large, publicly traded technology manufacturer with three competitors to a software start-up one thousandth the size in an industry with thousands of companies competing for buyer mindshare. I moved from being a relatively remote worker to an environment where I was physically sitting side by side with my marketing peers. I was a people leader for the first time. My team was a team of 2 – myself and 1 direct report. The pace was a thousand times faster and in my new role, the stakes were higher.  No wonder I thrived on being busy and productive, quickly spotting opportunities for improvement and making sure I included and maximized the strengths of my team. I was playing to my strengths.

My Talent DNA in 2019

Fast forward to 2019, and my environment was much different. I have a daughter in college and one touring colleges. My chocolate tripawd was still an energy sucking lab at age 4.  I was traveling much less but working much longer hours (my love can attest to that). In the 3 year span, my team grew from 1 to 4 to 8 direct reports. We were still finding ourselves and our groove competing for mindshare in a security software space that is crowded, complex, and wrought with chaos.  I was filling in for my boss who was on maternity leave. I was speaking up more, directing & delegating more and forcing myself to focus on execution because time was not a luxury. We were on the cusp of something big –  waiting to be sure we dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s was not an option.

Needless to say, my environment had changed. I took the CliftonStrengths assessment a second time in 2019,  and my top 5 strengths shifted, some quite dramatically. I went from being a Strategic Thinker in 2016 to being Execution-minded with my top 5 strengths being:

  1. Achiever – You work hard and possess a great deal of stamina. You take immense satisfaction in being busy and productive.
  2. Consistency – You are keenly aware of the need to treat people the same. You crave stable routines and clear rules and procedures that everyone can follow (moved up 26 positions in the 34 CliftonStrengths).
  3. Learner – You have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. The process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites you (moved up 6 positions in the 34 CliftonStrengths).
  4. Competition – You measure your progress against the performance of others. You strive to win first place and revel in contests (moved up 22 positions in the 34 CliftonStrengths).
  5. Includer – You accept others. You show awareness of those who feel left out and make an effort to include them.

Being an “Achiever” and an “Includer” remained core strengths in my top 5 which is not surprising given my personal discomfort  with downtime and a lack of acceptance.  I’ve always been curious, so “Learner” moving up 6 spots feels right. (Heck, I titled my blog myndfuel 5 years ago for a reason).  What surprised me most were the dramatic shifts relative to my needs for “Consistency” and that I thrive on “Competition.” Incidentally, my strengths as a “Relator” and a “Maximizer” – what feels like the opposite of competitiveness – shifted from my top 5 to my bottom 10 in the 34 Clifton Strengths. What the hell is going on!? Have I become less of a team player? Have I lost focus on the growth and development of my team? Is it all about me? That was my immediate reaction and in all honesty, harsh opposition to my new found “strengths.”

I shared my results with my team and reflected on the 3 year span between assessments.  A lot happened in 3 years.  My very environment changed. I had a larger seat at the table – a table of decision makers, drivers, directors, delegators.  I was forced to adapt to this new environment and establish new strengths that centered on getting sh*t done.  I came to the realization that I had a team of rock-star marketers that I could trust and confide in. I was given the luxury of not having to be involved in every single decision they made. I reflected on the fact that in my 3 year journey, my team would tell me, “give us more, we got this, and we got your back.” My very strengths around being a relator, includer and maximizer actually paved the way for my team to want to take on more.  They allowed me to get a lot more focused on getting the sh*t done that I believed mattered most – and that required full focus.

Full Focus.

Focus is defined by Clifton as “the powerful ability to prioritize, set goals and work efficiently, avoiding time-consuming distractions and staying on track toward an overall objective.” A big part of my  journey included adopting Michael Hyatt’s  Full Focus Planner – a Christmas gift from my previous manager and now friend.  I started the Full Focus Planner in January 2017 and have committed to it every quarter since. I established a rigor around breaking down annual personal and professional goals into quarterly, weekly and daily goals – the little wins.  When it came to getting sh*t done, I had to prioritize, commit, drive and track to results and outcomes on a daily, weekly and quarterly basis.  No wonder the “Focus” strength climbed from #21 in 2016 to #6 in 2019.

In January 2019, I went through a similar reflection and committed to some things that needed more focus:

  • Balance – from working on work to working on me.
  • Meetings – from meetings taking time to making time for meetings.
  • Rituals – from letting things happen to making things happen.
  • Leadership – from wanting perfect strategy to executing imperfect plans.
  • Teamwork – from prescribing their path to trusting their journey.
  • Growth – from adding up little wins to little wins that add up.

Looking back, I did pretty well staying focused on four of my six guiding principles. Admittedly, I still have a lot of work to do in the time department. I’m a bit off-balance. That said, following Chris Brogan’s lead, I’m committing to my three words for 2020:

  • Build – from my personal to our personnel brand
  • Believe – from seeking all the answers to trusting all the work
  • Balance – from working all the time to timing all the work.

As leaders, our environment is in a constant state of change. If it wasn’t, then we would never challenge ourselves, push ourselves, grow or develop as leaders.  The same is true for our teams.  Leadership is not only about embracing the change around us. It’s about guiding our teams through that change and embracing the change in each individual team member – starting with yourself.

From Product Marketing to Portfolio Marketing – it’s all about the buyer

I’m a big believer in “Portfolio Marketing.”  Granted, it’s not the most widely used term to describe what is commonly referred to as Product Marketing, but it’s much more than that.  Over the past 3 years, I have been building a team of experts driven by one single mission:

To know the buyer more than anyone else in order to drive demand for our company, products and services. 

I thought I would share what took 2+ years to put together and the method to our Portfolio Marketing madness:



 Target Market & Marketing Analytics
This person is the expert on our target market and our target buyer personas. They’re responsible for mapping our buyers journey and defining the best path to reach our buyers. Marketing and sales should lean on this person for insights and best practices on how to reach our target market and target buyer and deliver buyer enablement through each campaign, program, tactic and content.

Voice of Customer
This person is our customer expert. Never has customer advisory and advocacy been so critical to buyer enablement because we know that buyers rely heavily on their peers when making buying decisions. They’re the go to expert on how we best leverage our customers’ voice to engage with our buyer to accelerate their journey to selection. Lean on this person for customer insights when planning your campaigns, programs, and tactics as well as the customer logos, stories, case studies, references, speakers, and quotes that will give brand and demand efforts the peer teeth they need to win over the buyer.

Market & Competitive Intelligence
This person is a fanatical market and competitive analyst.  No one knows more about the market and competitive landscape than this person. They are your go to expert on the market players and our competitive positioning both technically and economically. They play an instrumental role as a partner to sales providing competitive ROI and TCO analysis aimed to move opportunities to wins. Lean on this person to help build market  expertise, validate competitive positioning and messaging, and build challenger POVs, and competitive campaigns, programs, and content.

Product Story
This person is the product marketing lead crafting everything from product, platform and services positioning & messaging to creating the over-arching product story aligned to our target market and buyers’ needs. Marketing and sales should lean on this person for the over-arching product story, launch strategy and the positioning and messaging and content essential to delivering compelling brand and demand campaigns, programs and tactics.

 Market Development
This person focuses on market development aimed at expanding market reach through analyst relations, tech alliances & integrations, and the channel. This person works closely with Channel Marketing, Sales, Business Development and Corporate Marketing.  Lean on this person for analyst quotes and endorsements, partner strategy and planning, channel enablement, and the positioning, messaging, and content needed to leverage an ecosystem of partners to drive awareness and interest in the company.

Campaign Strategy
This person creates a ton of synergy in Portfolio Marketing, extending market, product, buyer and customer research into campaign strategies and plans.  They’re driven by target buyer engagement and conversion rates across marketing programs online and offline – identifying and advising on the optimal marketing mix. Lean on this person to arm you with the campaign strategy, story and content needed to increase the odds of success for both brand and demand programs and tactics.