Monday, September 20, 2010

Measure Your Life

Part 2:

… What came next was not instantaneous. I spent a year in a malaise, an emotional coma traumatized from the failure.

Note: Earlier blog where I said learning from failure and how to deal with it is crucial for future success. I speak from what I know.

Everything was turned upside-down. My plan of world dominance at any cost, one that had worked so well for over a decade, had crashed and the remnants littered every facet of my life.

One day, while driving aimlessly in the city viewing the abundant buildings being constructed, my epiphany emerged. I needed to, and could, rebuild. However, the question remained, what structure did I want to erect?

The self-imposed introspective sabbatical taught me I couldn’t return to a linear, no-nonsense configuration resembling my former self. Although, I wish that there was a easier and less painful way to have gotten to this point, I realized in this next chapter of my life that I really could have it ALL.

I remembered the business emotional theorist, Fredrick Herzberg, asserting that the powerful motivator in our lives isn’t money; it’s the opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, contribute to others and be recognized for achievements. Easy to accept when money is flowing, but could he actually be right? I have come to find out the former can arrive in abundance and with more pleasure, if the latter is the core focus.

Here are some of my life principals:

Life Strategy

I created a structure that needed to prove long-term returns. I started at what was the most important: how can I ensure my relationships with my family and friends prove to be enduring sources of happiness? No one ever sets out to have estranged relationships, disruptive communications, and failed businesses, however, so many plans lead to that result. They didn’t keep the true purpose of life at the front and center as they decided to spend their time, talent and energy. Many fooling themselves thinking they can focus at a later time.

Every day I spend an allocated period of time to focus solely on enhancing the above. If instead, I use this time to work, I would be horribly misspending my life. I apply my knowledge of business far less and with far less importance per year, than apply my knowledge of the purpose of my life, which I do daily. It’s the single most useful thing I have ever learned.

Andy Grove has remarked, “Clarity about the purpose in life will trump knowledge of activity-based costing, balanced scorecards, core competence, disruptive innovation, the four P’s of marketing, or the five forces.”


The next area of focus was what brand of “me” I wanted to development. I am not a visionary and never was blessed with a crystal ball to show me the future. As such, I needed to create a culture that was rooted in strong values that could deal with any ebb and flow. At work, I wielded one-sided power for over 10 years, coercion, threats, punishment, etc. to secure cooperation. Many business leaders and leaders of households start this way, asserting their will. If “success” is shown, a culture is formed.

Problem is that over time it proves taxing and counterproductive for long-term success. If you’re a CEO maybe you get fired, your workforce quits or your company loses market share. Bad, but not nearly as horrible if you don’t create the right culture in your life. I have many friends who operate with their children and relationships in the power culture. There comes a point, usually in teen years for children, when power no longer yields the same results. At that point, too many parents wish they had begun to build a culture at home where children instinctively behave respectfully towards one another, choose the right things to do, listen and adhere to advice. Families, just like businesses, have cultures. If you want your workforce or your children to have strong self-esteem, confidence and the ability to solve hard problems, those qualities do not magically materialize.

You must design your culture early and reinforce it with love and understanding often.


My friend Brian was famous for saying he was a master at compartmentalizing. I, on the other hand, put everything on my plate and allowed my ADD to battle out what to attack first. The decisions about allocating your personal time, energy and talent ultimately shape your life’s strategy. People who are highly driven to excel have an unconscious propensity to underinvested in their families and friends and overinvest in their careers -- even though intimate and loving relationships are more powerful and more enduring sources of happiness.


I never showed much humility in that prior life. Being void of humility is actually a form of low-self esteem. Realizing your place in the world provides great comfort and personal power. I now know who I am and feel tremendous about the form I have molded. As such, my humility has allowed me to respect others more, have the confidence to understand I know very little of life’s forces, learn to be open to contrarian view points and always live life trying to help others.

My yardstick

As I mentioned last week, I had lost it all. However, the people I made money for still had theirs. I made them millions of dollars off ideas and executables I created. During my soul searching I concluded that I had to live my life by a different measuring tool. My friends and family and business associates will not assess my life in dollars, but with the metric of the amount of individuals whose lives I touch. I do not want nor do I personal judge my life with individual prominence. I believe that’s the way it should and untimely is for all of us.

Your time to read and share my words is greatly appreciated. I know these past two weeks seem less about marketing or business and more of a personal melodrama or a page from the playbook of some self-help book. In truth, it’s more about business and life than all those others combined.

I look forward to hearing what is on your life plan.

All my best,

Greg Salsburg
The Big STIR
Miami | New York | London
c: (561) 386-8064
o: (305) 407-1723

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