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Plans – Busted Apart

December 20th, 2010

“We’re sorry, Mrs. Robinson, but we cannot allow you to accept donations for the orphanage in Russia.”

And with that, Paypal wrecked the Escaping Mediocrity Russian Orphanage Project.

You see, Paypal says I can create a “Donate” button too raise money for my favorite charity – and allowed me to do so.  BUT after I created it and so many of you generously donated to the project, I started getting emails about “requirements”. The short version is I either need to be a 501(c)3 or be sanctioned by a US non-profit and be able to provide proof of that fact.

I faxed them. Twice. They lost the fax. I kept asking them to find it and read it. But they didn’t. I kept saying, I am raisingmoney directly for an orphanage in Russia. They don’t have the internet and I doubt they have letter head. They just kept sending me the list of requirements. Again and again.

(Don’t get me started on how POORLY they’ve set up communicating with their compliance department. They’ve clearly set it up for their convenience, not the convenience of their customers. This matter could have been settled in about 30 minutes instead of a week.)

Finally – yesterday, I got this email:

Hello Escaping Mediocrity,

Unfortunately, access to your PayPal Account will remain limited.  For
security reasons we do not close accounts with limitations.  At this point
you can refund the donations received and have the contributors donate to
you by another method.

PayPal Compliance Department
PayPal, an eBay Company

So they played the ultimate trump card. Do it our way because we are holding your Paypal account hostage. Awesome customer service don’t you think?

See – here’s the thing. If Paypal had made all this clear on the front end before I ever created the “Donate” button, none of this would have happened. I would have found another way. But they didn’t. And then, when their lack of clarity caused this mess, instead of working with me as a partner in the mess, they just pull out their muscle.

In order to ransom my Paypal account, I will begin refunding donations tomorrow. There is no way to get this put back together in time for Christmas, but don’t worry – it WILL be put back together. Too many little ones are counting on us.

Oh – and don’t worry. You all acted in good faith, so your names are still in for the book drawing and you will get your $50 coupon code once I straighten out this mess.


The Great December Book Giveaway

December 14th, 2010

I did this back in October and it was so very popular with all of you that I’ve decided to do it again this month – with a twist (of course!)

In just a sec, I’ll tell you the seven nine TEN books that are up for grabs in the giveaway. But first, here’s how you get your name in the pot:

1. Leave an intelligent comment. Which means it has to say more than “great post”. And, in the end, I am the judge of what qualifies as intelligent. Do this and you get ONE ticket in the drawing.

2. Make a donation. For every $5 you donate to my Escaping Mediocrity Orphanage Project, you get ONE ticket in the drawing. Plus there are some bonuses that go along with that.

Donate $10  – 2 tickets and your name and a hotlink to your site listed in my thank you post.

Donate $25 and you get FIVE tickets in the drawing, the above bonus and a $50 coupon code you can use anytime during 2011 on anything I put up for sale. Of course you can always donate more and get more tickets!

If you’ve already donated (and thank you so much for that!) your tickets are already in the pot. 🙂

Ok – ready to know what I’m giving away?!

1) My personal copy of Chris Guillebeau’s The Art of Non-Conformity. You can read what I think about it and why it REALLY matters to you here.

2) My personal copy of Smarter, Faster, Cheaper: Non-boring, Fluff-Free Strategies for Marketing and Promoting Your Business by David Siteman Garland. Read my review here.

3) My personal copy of Social Nation: How to Harness the Power of Social Media to Attract Customers, Motivate Employees, and Grow Your Business by Barry Libert. I plan to do a full review of this book soon but it is a killer resource for companies who want to build a deeply connected social community like Apple, Etsy, AmexOPEN and Zappos have built.

4) It’s Not About the Coffee: Lessons in Putting People First from a Life at Starbucks by Howard Behar with Janet Goldstein. If you want to learn how to build an amazing team and an unparalleled culture, this book is a must read.

5) Fierce Leadership: A Bold Alternative to the “Best” Practices of Business Today by Susan Scott. It’s no secret that I think most “best practices” are pretty lame and mediocre. This books give you an alternative approach for leading your company (even it is just a company of one!) to greatness.

6) My personal copy of Do More Great Work by Michael Bungay Stanier. I love the tagline on this book – “Stop doing busy work and start doing work that matters”. That’s really all I need to say about that. 🙂

7) My personal copy of Leo Babauta’s The Power of Less: The fine art of limiting yourself to the essential….in business and in life. To escape mediocrity, we’ve got to know what is essential and eliminate everything else. Makes for light travel. 🙂 This book will show you how.

JUST IN >> Rebel Brown is generously offering a personally signed copy of her book, Defy Gravity, as part of the Great December Book Giveaway! As a growth expert, Rebel helps managers and leaders shed the weight and drag that are holding their companies back and propel their business to high-velocity growth.

NEW BULLETIN: My friend @BarryMoltz is adding a copy of his fab book on delivering stellar customer service – B-A-M! Bust a Myth: Delivering Customer Service to the giveaway.  Wow! Whomever wins this is gonna rack up!

YEAH – ANOTHER ADDITION! >>> Connie Dieken is offering up a copy of her new book AND 3-CD Audiobook Set – wow! Talk Less, Say More: How to be more influential and ignite positive responses.

So there you have it. December’s Great Book Giveaway. And by the way – these books make great gifts for that hard-to-buy-for entrepreneur on your list. 🙂

Now get busy! Leave a comment below and, if you are so moved, make a donation to my Escaping Mediocrity Orphanage Project. The deadline is NOON EST on Friday, December 17.

(And P.S. To keep my holiday sanity in tact, this is a “winner take all” kind of thing.)

Help Them Escape Mediocrity

December 6th, 2010


Because I am not working through a US umbrella organizations AND because I am sending money to an entity oversees, Paypal will not allow me to collect donations for this project using their system. A longer blog post is forthcoming.

For as long as I’ve been an adult, I’ve chosen a holiday project that made a real and specific difference in the lives of people who need it. I’ve provided Christmas – and I mean ALL of Christmas – for a family of 7. I’ve stocked the kitchens of families enrolled in a program to get them off of welfare. One year, in lieu of gifts they didn’t need anyway, my entire family got letters from me describing the specific gifts I gave specific individuals in need.

I’m not saying this to say how great I am. Just wanted you to know how deeply this passion runs in my veins. 🙂

This year, I have a very special project in mind. One that is so near and dear to my heart that I touch it ever single day. And I don’t think any of you will be terribly surprised. 🙂

My 2010 Holiday Project is providing for the orphans we left behind in Russia the day we drove away with The Mini Turk.

They need the basics. They need the things most us take for granted each and every day. Good, healthy food. Clean water. Clean, warm clothes. Shoes. Socks. Medicine. Diapers. And I want to see that they have what they need. (I have other, bigger plans to help them as well, but I’m still ironing out those details.)

We’ve stayed in touch with our translator who lives in the same city as the orphanage. I will Paypal the money I raise to her and she’s agreed to play “Santa”.

I can’t offer you a 501(c) 3 letter so you can take a tax deduction. I don’t have a seperate charity I’ve set up for this. There’s just me, paypal, and your faith in me to do what I say I’m going to do.

Here’s what I will offer you in return:

– Everyone who makes a donation of any amount will get listed in my thank you post, complete with a backlink to your blog or website.

– Everyone who makes a donation of $25 or more will recieve a coupon code from me for $50 that you can use on anything I put up for sale during 2011. Lots of stuff is coming down the pike, including my live event in the fall, so you’ll have lots of opportunities to use that.

Help these small lives escape from the mediocre world in which they find themselves. Every little bit counts.

And thank you. 🙂



P.S. My paypal addy is [email protected]

UPDATE: So Far we’ve raised over $325 for the orphans who live at the Mini-Turk’s former home. THANK YOU!!

US Residents can contribute using this:

Canadian residents can use this:

What She Said

November 11th, 2009

You know, I thought I was writing edgy posts. In fact lots of people have told me so. But you know what, my posts aren’t edgy. They may be slightly dark at times and push the envelope a little, but edgy? Nope.

Wanna know how I know?

Because my dear friend (I feel so amazingly lucky to call her that) Elizabeth Potts Weinstein writes edgy, gut level real elizabethposts. Her voice takes enormous courage and clarity – two qualities I am striving for and learn from watching Elizabeth in her Live Your Truth journey.

Her post today….all I can say is wow. She said so many things that I have thought for so long and am too chicken to say out loud. That’s right. I am too chicken, too afraid of the repercussions, too afraid of not being liked.

Today though, reading my friends words was like seeing a bright beacon in a very dark forest. I felt hope and courage and relief. Like everything was going – no – IS going to be okay.  I need people in my life who do that for me and I bet you do too.

Wanna read this post – the post that will now be the standard by which I now measure my own courage? Excellent!

Here it is:

Doing Good

November 9th, 2009

As sort of a follow-on to last week’s post and in celebration of the upcoming Tweetsgiving season, today’s post is dedicated to highlighting so the ways social media is being harnessed for doing good.

If you have not yet found your way to “do good” on the web, I HIGHLY recommend checking these out!

12 for 12k (
This “movement” is the brainchild of @DannyBrown and I’ve been involved with it since my earliest days on twitter. The premise is simple. Each month we choose 1 charity and commit to raising $12,000 for them using social media.  Bloggers volunteer to write posts highlighting each month’s charity, others tweet about it and still others work tirelessly to raise awareness AND $$$.  The thing I love most about 12 for 12k is that everyone can do just a little bit and make a HUGE difference.

This is an annual online and offline event produced by Epic Change (and12 for 12k’s charity for the month of November).  TweetsGiving is a global celebration that seeks to change the world through the power of gratitude.

Scheduled for November 24 – 26, 2009, the 48-hour event created by US nonprofit Epic Change will encourage participants to express their thanks using online tools and at live events. In honor of the people and things that make them grateful, guests will be invited to give to a common cause at events held across the globe.Tweetsgiving

In 2008, Tweetsgiving successfully raised over $10,000 to build a classroom in Arusha, Tanzania in just two days. Proceeds from Tweetsgiving 2009 will, in part, benefit the school, where a dormitory/orphanage, library, school cafeteria and additional classrooms are much needed. In addition, TweetsGiving 2009 seeks to fund new Epic Change partners and fellows in other parts of the world.

It’s super easy to join in this celebration of gratitude. And really, we have so much to be grateful for in our lives, let’s use it to make lives in other parts of the world better. Go here to find out how you can make a difference just by being grateful. 🙂

And no post on Doing Good would be complete without mentioning the work my friend Nate St. Pierre is doing with a movement he is creating called It Starts With Us. The mission is simple: make a positive impact in the lives of the people around us.

Nate emails out simple, weekly “missions” that take all of about 15 minutes and make a SIGNIFICANT difference in the lives of others. For example, a recent mission that arrived in my email inbox was writing a letter to a five year old little girl undergoing the trauma of surgery to remove a massive brain tumor.  If I don’t have time to do that, my priorities are totally screwed up.

I really REALLY encourage you to get involved in It Starts With Us. You may change the lives of others, but YOU will be the one who be changed even more. 🙂 Go here to join “The A Team”:

Other ideas for doing good? This is your open invitation to pimp your favorite charity in the comments of this post. 🙂

Your Corner of the World

November 4th, 2009

When I was a teenager, I thought (as most teenagers do) that the world existed mainly for my enjoyment and pleasure. Being a teenager in the 80’s only fostered that ego-centric attitude. Fortunately for me and those who must live with me, I’ve discovered that doing my part to make this world we live in a better place is much more gratifying than demanding that the world make me happy. Sadly, I know lots of grown-ups who have yet to make this discovery.

The lesson I would like to share with you is that taking this particular personal responsibility can be far more gratifying than anything you could demand of the world. One of my clients thinks this idea has the potential to induce guilt. Please know that that is not my point at all. It’s not about feeling obligated – it’s about feeling joyful. I’d like to illustrate this lesson with a true story that happened to a dear friend of mine.

She was at the checkout counter of a large grocery store. Her purchases exceeded her cash by about $1.75. She had no checkbook and no credit card. And she was in a hurry. As she began to verbally panic about which item to leave behind, a voice behind her said. “How much do you need?” She turned to face a woman whom she swears looked just like a bag lady.

“$1.75,” my friend replied.

“Here,” and the bag lady handed the clerk $1.75.

Now my friend really began to panic. “How can I find you to pay you back?” “Where do you live?” “What is your address – I’ll mail it to you.”

The bag lady surveyed my friend with something akin to pity. “Don’t you know nothin’, lady?” she said. “Just do it for somebody else.” onenicething

Well, aside from stopping my friend dead in her tracks, these words put her on a mission for a year and a half. Every single time she was in a checkout line, she got all excited hoping that someone ahead of her would come up short and she could repay her debt.

Finally, her opportunity came and she excitedly and joyfully stepped up to the cashier to pay the way of a complete (and rather confused) stranger. As my friend said to me “It wasn’t the money I was paying back – it was the life lesson I was given that I was so grateful for – just do something nice for someone else.”

Accepting that challenge and that responsibility will give you, as it gave my friend, the daily joy of anticipation. What can I do today? What small effort can I make that will make someone else’s day?

As is true with all parts of Escaping Mediocrity, this lesson is paradoxical. Though you are the one giving, you will be the one who receives so much more. Don’t believe me? Try these exercises over the next week:

1.Think of five small things you can do for someone else. You don’t have to do them – just think of them.

2.Spend one whole day looking for an opportunity to be helpful to someone else.

3.Look around your community. Is there something you think “someone should do something about”? Could you do it?

BONUS POINTS: Do something nice for someone but don’t let them find out you did it or do something really nice and just don’t tell anybody. If you are discovered, it doesn’t count.

Oh and if you think this lesson doesn’t apply to your business, think again. 🙂

Can’t wait to hear about your adventures with this!

100% Money-Back Guaranteed to Help You Escape Mediocrity

September 28th, 2009

One of the most common questions I get via DM or email goes something like this: “How can I escape mediocrity when I feel so stuck, so confused, so depressed, so overwhelmed, so [fill in a similar adjective]?

First let me say that anyone who puts themselves out there- even those who appear to be INCREDIBLY successful – knows what this feels like. So if you find yourself in this space, cut yourself some slack and know that others have come before you and gotten through it.

How to get through it can take many forms and people far greater than I have written entire books on this very subject. But today I am going to propose a different kind of “cure” if you will. One that does not involve a lot of internal work or even external work – on yourself anyway.

And this cure is GUARANTEED to shift your outlook and your thinking, that I can promise you.  And it is one of the most powerful tools in my personal arsenal for escaping mediocrity.

What is this powerful, 100% money back guaranteed cure?

Find someone who is in worse shape than you are and go help them.

Radical isn’t it?!

And believe me, I’ve heard every excuse in the book for not trying this cure.

“I don’t have time.”

“I don’t have the energy.”

“I need to stay focused on my own business.”

Etc., etc.

To which I respond, “Well, then you must be content with the way you are feeling. Good luck to you.”

Why do I believe so strongly in helping others? Because over and over again I see these kinds of results in my own business/life – and the businesses/lives of those who embrace the strategy:

1) When I help someone who is in worse shape than I am, I immediately have a shift in perspective on the ACTUAL size of my problems.

2) When I stop staring at my own belly-button for five minutes, all kinds of solutions start presenting themselves.

3) I am a big believer in the karmic boomerang. I’ve never EVER seen it miss.

Need ideas for a place to start helping? I’m so glad because I have a GREAT suggestion!

Starting at midnight PST tonight, September 28, an organization near and dear to my heart, 12 for 12k, is pulling off a 24 hour tweet-a-thon for the non-profit Doctors Without Borders.

From their website: Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organization created by doctors and journalists in France in 1971.

Today, MSF provides aid in nearly 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care or natural disasters.  MSF provides independent, impartial assistance to those most in need.

For ways you can help Doctors Without Borders through this tweetathon, check out this page.

Even if this event/non-profit isn’t for you or if you read this post after the event is over, I hope you will choose someone, somewhere, to reach out to and offer your help.

It’s a complete game-changer. I promise. 🙂

Guest Video Post: Elizabeth Potts Weinstein

August 10th, 2009

Today, my friend and colleague Elizabeth Potts Weinstein (@ElizabethPW on twitter) launches a very cool and very free project called Live Your Truth. She interviews 24 entrepreneurs (I’m one of them) about living and working in full truth and authenticity. I’ve already gotten access to mine the morning and am super excited about learning from every one of the rockstars she interviewed!

As part of the Kick-off celebration, I asked Elizabeth to put together a guest video post on her vision for Escaping Mediocrity. And, in true Elizabeth style, she knocked it out of the park!

You Were Not Born to Be Mediocre by Elizabeth Potts Weinstein:

Help Them Have a Vision – Eye Care for Kids

July 15th, 2009

As most of you know I’ve been an avid and vocal supporter of 12for12k (a growing Twitter movement that raises money and awareness for GREAT charities!) since February of this year.

It is the brainchild of Danny Brown and we are committed to raising $12,000 a month for 12 different charities.

The charity for July is Eye Care for Kids – an organization that helps countless children overcome the obstacle of impaired vision to become better learners and better students.

I remember the first time I realized my vision wasn’t right. I was navigating the streets of Washington DC – where I lived at the time – at dusk.  Even though I’d driven the route a million times, I still checked the road signs, etc, to make sure I was in the right lane and going in the right direction.

On this night though, I couldn’t read the signs. They were all blurry.  Not a fun thing to discover with traffic whizzing around you at break neck speed and making the wrong turn might add 30 minutes to my commute!

Fortunately, I leaned heavily on my memory and intuition and managed to get where I was going without making a wrong turn or causing a wreck. The next day, I went straight to the eye doctor, got fitted for glasses and contacts and POOF! problem solved.

I’m guessing that’s how most of us have could or would solve a vision problem of our own or of a loved ones’s. Pretty simple thing to fix, right?

Not if you live in rural Utah – especially if you live on an Indian reservation.  In that state there are over 9,000 docuEye-care-for-kids-home-pagemented annual cases of children who need eye care and their families can’t afford it.

Which means there are children in school who can’t see the books in front of them or the teacher or the blackboard. Children who can’t clearly see the leaves of a tree or blades of grass or even their parents faces.

How can we expect them to have a big vision for themselves if they can’t see their own face clearly in the mirror?

We can change this and make a big difference for these children.

Visit the Eye Care for Kids website and learn more about what they do.  You’ll see at 12for12k widget that makes giving even a small amount super easy.  If you want to know more about the work of 12for12k, you can visit our website here.

I so appreciate that you took the time to read this post and hope you will take a small action today that can make a big difference in a child’s life/

Stop The Silence: A Message from a Survivor

February 17th, 2009

Last week I put out a request for bloggers willing to post about 12for12K’s Stop The Silence campaign this month. One of the replies I got was from a survivor who had read my original blog post. I am overwhelmed by the fact that she entrusted her story to me and is allowing me to share it with you. Her courage and authenticity will move you beyond words.

A Message from A Survivor

I am a survivor.  We are all around you, but for the most part you do not know who we are.  The tears have been welling in my eyes since I went to the Stop the Silence site, but not only because of my own suffering.  In watching their video I stepped out of my own story and awoke to the abuse and extreme suffering that continues on in the world.  I’ve been trying to write this for the last few weeks hoping to encourage support for this cause.  In the process I have been reminded that despite how far I have come in moving on, this will never be behind me. The abuse itself damages us to the core, but it is the silence that can ruin lives.  No child should have to endure this.  It must be stopped.

Contrary to the belief of many, sexual abuse is not simply a pathology of a few broken individuals.  It is a systemic issue in many cultures and in families.  In fact, what most people don’t realize is that many abusers were abused themselves.  Unfortunately, shame begets shame. And in the cultures and families in which there are more taboos around sex, the more prevalent the shame and horrific the victimization seems to be. 

This did not start with any one of us as individuals.  Yet those of us who have been the unfortunate victims as well as those who have become the new generation of abusers can choose to have it end with us.  We cannot do that without help to create awareness and understanding, and providing support for all involved and affected.

Donating to Stop the Silence is one very important way you can make a difference.  I wholeheartedly encourage you to do so.  I also hope that if you choose to read on, you will gain insight into how you might help in other ways.  This is my story, what I have learned and what I have come to believe over the last 35 years about what it will take to end the abuse.

The Personal Cost of SilenceWhen asked to describe his life’s work in one sentence Sigmund Freud said “secrets make you sick.”  They also make our society and our families sick.  This sentence defines my personal struggle.  And it does not just apply to the secret of sexual abuse.  The intensity of shame that kept me silent has taken a tremendous toll on my life in the form of depression and autoimmune disease.  In some ways I feel like I have only gotten to live half a life because I have spent so much time being ill and recovering.  Yet I feel lucky.  I witnessed a dear friend have a psychotic break, returning to the age of 5 when she and her sisters experienced a violent attack by their brother.  Another friend had to be institutionalized for a time after the birth of her sons because the birth triggered such painful memories that she had suppressed.  I know people whose very survival and ability to move on required that they sever all ties from their family. 


So why post anonymously?For the abused stopping the silence is not about telling the world.  It is about breaking your own silence and the silence of the people around you so the abuse can be stopped and the healing can begin. 


I stopped the silence in my family.  What would sharing my name publicly really accomplish now?  It would simply perpetuate a conversation around me and my family that I am committed to ending for me and future generations once and for all.  I also don’t care if people think I am courageous.  Stopping my abuser at age 13 all on my own was courageous.  Confronting my family was courageous.  Telling the world my name would not be courageous, it would be reckless given the risks to me and my family.  We have all suffered enough.  I will do everything in my power to make sure this ends with me and the only people who need to know are the people who can help me do that.

Breaking the Silence Goes Beyond the Abused Speaking UpAnyone who has had the courage to speak up has likely encountered some combination of denial, anger, compassion, and pity.  Some people do not believe you.  Some direct their anger by blaming you.  Others simply pity you.  We pray for and are eternally grateful to anyone who greet our story with compassion, respect and understanding.  Our fears of not being believed and of being shunned are justified.  Breaking our silence is fraught with risk.  The silence destroys the abused, but it keeps the abuser safe and the system intact.  There is not much incentive to listen.


While many recognize the courage it takes to speak up, the closer it is to home the harder it is for people to hear.  It is easier to hear it from a stranger than from someone we know and love because in the moment this is shared both people are somehow changed forever.  We are forced to make a choice we never wanted to make about so many things and even the people in our lives.  Knowing can place us face to face with our own fears and judgments or even cause us to face our own abuse in whatever form that may have taken. 

 Some people are just not ready.

We must do more than just open ourselves to hearing the cry for help as a society if we are to end this. 

We have to become awake to the signs.  We must work to change the beliefs that have made sex shameful rather than a beautiful and essential expression of our humanity.  Both the abused and the abusers are all around us.  But do we know enough and are we willing to be aware enough to recognize it?  My parents did not know.  The doctor who diagnosed my ulcer at age 15 did not even suggest seeing a therapist.  I did well in school, had nice friends and was a generally good kid.  They simply thought I just overanalyzed things and needed to learn to lighten up.  The system is clearly broken.

And There is Hope.In so many ways I have moved on in my life.  I have said my peace, forgiven and continue to heal with my family.  It seems I am never really done, but perhaps that is true of any deep wound.  I can honestly say I have a great life with a loving husband, beautiful children, amazing friends and work that I love.  This has been my circumstance, but it no longer defines my life.  I continue to struggle with my health to some extent, yet I have come a very long way.  I am free of chronic migraine headaches, and no longer suffer many of the debilitating symptoms of fibromyalgia, depression and interstitial cystitis.  I am living proof that you can heal with the right kind of support physically, emotionally and spiritually.  I am certainly not done yet, but I have tremendous hope for my future.   Shame no longer defines my inner world and illness no longer defines me to the outside world. 


You can make a difference in Stopping the Silence by making your donation today.  I welcome your comments and your questions.  The conversation cannot end here if we are to stop the silence once and for all.

I want to thank John Haydon, Danny Brown, and Sarah Robinson for taking a stand for this cause, for being willing and able to listen and for giving a voice to this survivor.