Easy Comes with a Risk

October 8, 2009 by

EasybuttonWatching a recent Staples commercial, I was again amazed at our culture’s fascination with the “EASY” button.  Commercials promise EASY (no diet, no exercise) weight loss, EASY (dollars while you sleep) money, and EASY health “fixes” in terms of the latest and greatest pills.

In fact, I want to challenge you to LISTEN to these “prescription” commercials with a new purpose.  IGNORE the “EASY” part… the part that promises instant and life-changing results.   Instead, I want you to pay attention to the “warnings”… you know, the part of the commercial in which they begin to speak really quickly.  This is when they “caution” you about the REAL risks of the drug they are pedaling.  “The risks / side effects can include heart attack, irregular menstrual cycles, and, oh yeah… DEATH.”  I’m paraphrasing, of course.

But the truth is that EASY comes with a RISK.  The risk of NO RESISTANCE is a lack of growth.  The RISK of far too easy credit is a national financial crisis.  The RISK of “blanket” tolerance is a lack of standards.  The RISK of not allowing anyone to FAIL is in the creation of an environment in which no one wins, either.  The RISK of “taking it easy” is the INABILITY to get TOUGHER THAN THE TIMES.

I am already writing a sequel to the soon –to-be-released fable:  Run to the Roar:  A Fable of Choice, Courage, and Hope. It will focus on the COURAGE of our CONVICTIONS.  As I write this book, I am reminded that our nation was built by a people that would have ruthlessly questioned (the existence of and need for) an “EASY” button.  Our American ancestors didn’t seek, hope, yearn for, NOR expect to find an “EASY” route.  They expected that life would be tough at times.  Their commitment was to be TOUGHER than the TIMES.

And sometimes… just sometimes… our greatest moments are in the “tough times”… our greatest accomplishments…. our greatest growth… our greatest contributions…


Effective Managers Learn How to Discriminate

October 2, 2009 by
CommunicationOf course, I am not advocating a hate-based, or ignorant habit of discriminating against those you are trying to lead.  But, if you are communicating in the SAME WAY to EVERYONE under your leadership, you will not be as effective as you could be if you began to use some knowledgeable “discrimination” in how you communicate.
Here is what I am saying:  YOU and everyone you work with comes to work with their own personality and communication style.  Whether this has been developed as a result of “nature” or “nurture” or some combination of the two really doesn’t matter.  What DOES matter is your willingness to acknowledge that personality and communication styles DO IMPACT a leader’s ability to accomplish results through others.
Once you accept this as fact, the first step in using “communication discrimination” to your advantage is to learn more about personalities and communication styles.   (For a complimentary podcast, contact my assistant at rachyl@rolfecarawan.com)
Next, acknowledge your own personality tendencies and communication style, and make it a habit to recognize the same in others under your leadership.  The quickest way to develop rapport with those on your team is to made a concerted effort to minimize the stark differences between their style and your own.
When we speak and treat everyone the SAME – in the way we communicate – we will fall way short in our ability to tap into the potential of those we lead.

Me vs. Them

September 25, 2009 by
“… considilovemepnger others better than yourselves…” – Philippians 2:3

I am always refreshingly reassured by how practical this ancient book is for today’s circumstances.  When I look at the verse above, I am positive this is never more apparent than when you consider the development of state, corporate and church leaders
Leaders are facing unprecedented challenges today, yet there are a few time-tested principles that will allow them to be “Tougher than the Times” no matter what circumstances they face.  Developing a “THEM” mentality instead of a “ME” mentality is one such principle.
You see, leadership isn’t about the leader at all…. only about the people he or she lead. When a leader keeps their eyes on their TEAM, instead of on THEMSELVES, we avoid many “traps” of leadership, including:
  • Taking circumstances and conversations too personally;
  • Clouded judgment that often comes when a leader is more interested in protecting his or her own “standing” rather than dealing with a situation more directly and objectively;
  • Timid leadership;
  • Stress associated with carrying every outcome squarely on your shoulders rather than sharing burdens and rewards with the team; and
  • Unnecessary “power struggles” – that often completely disappear when a leader is willing to fully embrace his or her primary role: serving their team.
Leading my very first Tougher than the Times Leadership Roundtable has been incredibly exciting and rewarding already!  I would like to thank EACH leader and company represented for all you bring to the group!  Until October… we remain… Tougher than the Times!!

Raccoon Trails

September 10, 2009 by

Lea’s dad loved to feed nature’s bandits, the neighborhood raccoons, that is.  Behind huge open windows, we would watch nature’s parade of curious and hungry creatures.  RaccoonLoaded with piles of dog food, the back porch was an open invitation that provided a pretty entertaining spectacle.  We’d stare as these furry little guys poured out of the woods and made a beeline to the food.  As many as 30 raccoons would trample through the grass, rushing to gorge themselves on the delicious morsels.  We’d sit in amazement at the little paws that would reach up and touch the windows as if to say, “More, please!” It’s safe to say, we had the fattest raccoons in all of western Washington.

For more than 20 years these raccoons would carve trails in and out of the woods.  But when Lea’s dad passed away, the raccoon trails disappeared underneath the new vegetation.  Even after generations of raccoons had destroyed nature’s beauty, the woods sprang back to life.

There’s a picture.  Patterns of thought are a lot like trampled raccoon trails.  Whatever you feed puts patterns and imprints on your mind. Consequently, if you stop feeding it, the wildlife will grow and be lush and beautiful again.  If we quit feeding negative thoughts, then our tendency to view life negatively will weaken and eventually disappear. “Take captive every thought” (2 Corin. 10:5).  We must learn to isolate every thought before it spirals into a raccoon trail.

“Learned optimism works…through the power of non-negative thinking,” says Dr. Martin Seligman, author of Learned Optimism and Authentic Happiness.  Change patterns of thought by isolating a negative thought and responding to it.  “It is how you cope with negative statements that has an effect,” reiterates Seligman.  Challenge a negative thought and attack it with the truth.  It is only then that wind will blow and the dust settle, leaving a clean, unmarked trail path.

A 22 Year Profitable Relationship

September 4, 2009 by


It’s the perfect Sunday afternoon.  The couch is comfortable, the snacks appetizing and the game’s a close one.  As I plop into the sofa, remote in hand, I no sooner flip the game on, than I feel my wife, Lea’s hovering presence in the room.  Completely engrossed in the head-banging, I do my best to ignore her.  The hovering presence, however, keeps hovering, and I soon realize she isn’t planning on leaving.

“Everything ok, honey?” I ask half-heartedly.  One look from Lea and I realize my football watching is finito.  But, being the wonderful husband I am, I graciously turn the game off to focus all my love and attention to my lovely bride.  (Granted, we have TiVo, so all I did was hit the pause button, but that’s beside the point.)

I immediately face Lea and snap into my counseling mode.  I’m nodding my head profusely, making eye contact and making appropriate gestures, when mid-way through pouring her heart out, she stops.

“Forget it, we’ll just talk about this later,” she says, abruptly.

“What, what did I do?” I say, feeling wrongfully accused; I had been doing everything a trained counselor is supposed to do.

“Just forget it; she says more adamant than before”

Exasperated I say, “But I’m right here. I’m looking you right in the eye. I’m listening!”

“You don’t care.”

“What?!  I have to care, too?”

I was flabbergasted.  I had been doing all the right things.  I stopped watching the football game, nodded my head and even made eye contact!  But that was just it; I was just going through the motions and Lea saw right through the façade.  Behind the glazed over look and empty head nods, she knew I wasn’t listening.

It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of life and miss out on relationship.  We pass by people with fake smiles and a rhetorical, “How are you?” when we don’t really want to know.

So, in response to my question, yes, we DO have to stop and care.  Investing in relationships, whether it be family, friends or co-workers, will always pay off.  Sometimes we just need to slow down and make the deposit.

ACN – Ingenuity in Tough Times

August 24, 2009 by

ACNWhat if you discovered electricity? What if you had known about the internet before it exploded? What if you were privy to technology’s latest and greatest advancement before anyone else?  Imagine.

In today’s spiraling rat race in technology, very rarely someone paints a picture with a sheer stroke of entrepreneurial genius.  But every once in a while, a stroke is made and a business born.  This time ACN holds the coveted paintbrush.  ACN has emerged as an undeniable leader in the telecommunications industry, as the largest direct seller of telecommunications and home services in the world.  This up and coming company got its stamp of approval from the man himself – Donald Trump, and was even featured on his last season of Celebrity Apprentice.  What’s their secret?  What the business world has been waiting for…the videophone.

Awarded “The Success Award” in the July/August issue of Direct Selling News, for “reinventing their business building tools for ACN representatives,” their future has only gotten brighter.  This company offers something 100% of Americans use every day – phone, web, security and now VIDEOPHONE services. They hit the jackpot of all marketplaces. Their product is practical and they are relevant.

Forward thinking entrepreneurs have joined the ACN opportunity and one local representative has taken it to the next level, literally.  Promoted to a Team Coordinator in just 4 months, international superstar Art Sandler is definitely not joining the recession.  His generosity, work ethic on behalf of others, and perseverance through the tough stuff is a true testament to the quality of ACN representatives.

In the face of tough economic times, innovative, forward thinking pays off.  So pick up the paintbrush and make a stroke.  Even Donald Trump agrees.

Check out the videophone for yourself at  http://rolfe.acnrep.com

Is UNITY a Profitable Corporate Initiative?

August 17, 2009 by




A perfect example of America’s love / hate relationship with success played out on the national stage not long ago. While many financial institutions are still struggling, even after spending large tax-payer funded bail out checks, Goldman Sachs turned a $5.2 Billion profit during the first half of 2009. That was 5.2 Billion – with a “B”.



Instead of applauding their ability to rebound spectacularly from financial crisis, this organization was called “an assemblage of swine”, and “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity” by various media personalities. While none of us can deny the creativity of these insults, and Goldman Sachs REMAINS a controversial company, I was curious. WHY would Goldman Sachs be doing so much better than any other bank? At the risk of sounding like an anchorman heading to commercial break, I have to ask: WHAT is in the water at Goldman Sachs?

The answer was not surprising. A little bit of digging led me to this conclusion: UNITY. UNITY is the ingredient that led this financial institution to outperform ALL of its peers. Let me explain.

Charles Ellis published a “history” of the firm last year called The Partnership: The Making of Goldman Sachs. In it, he detailed the firm’s slow recovery after the stock market crash of 1929. Facing extinction, Ellis concluded, the people over at Goldman Sachs had no choice but to stick together and work towards the future.

This successful management approach of “extreme UNITY” led Ellis to explain cause of the firm’s success in this way: Goldman “recruits the most extraordinarily talented people” and thing “brings these talented leaders together in by far the most team-oriented environment” on Wall Street.

Did you see me on GMA?

August 10, 2009 by

GMA It Factor

On Saturday, August 8th, at approximately 8:41 AM, I “officially” made it onto Good Morning America’s Weekend edition.  Well, sort of….It was more of a “Where’s Rolfe” version of the popular “Where’s Waldo” activities, but still… =)

Months ago, I was asked to contribute to a volunteer initiative to help people who were recently laid off find profitable employment.  I was so happy my schedule allowed me to participate.  So, I spent an evening in a coffee shop talking to each member of the It Factor Job Club about what I call their “sovereign foundation” and gave personality assessments to each member and discussed it with them.  I love to watch people learn more about themselves and embrace what makes them unique.  It was even more fun to watch these job club members determine that their “next job” would be one that would use their innate talents and gifts. 

After a few months, EACH of these job club members found employment and the club’s success was featured on Good Morning America.  As you watch the video clip, if you look really closely, you will see that one of the computer screens the camera captures is on my linked in page.  So, I – or at least my linked in page – finally made it onto a national tv program. 

You will also notice a woman wearing bright yellow in the video.  That is our lovely Executive Administrator, Rachyl Johnson.  We met Rachyl at the job club event and are so pleased to have her join the Carawan Global Group team.  You can read more about her participation in the job club here:  http://www.itfactorjobclub.com/2009/07/college-graduate-goes-from-0-interviews.html

Rags to Riches

July 27, 2009 by
Rags to Riches - JK RowlingJ.K Rowling is the author of the best-selling Harry Potter series, which is “all the rage” with audiences today.  Here is what you may not know about this woman,born “Jo” Murray,  who is now reported to have more money than the Queen of England:
“Joanne Murray” is a British author who has a fabulous rags to riches story.  In fact, she went from being a single mother and living on welfare to being a multi-millionaire in the span of only five years.  Yet that is not what most impresses me.
After writing the Harry Potter series (and still living on welfare) she sent her manuscript to countless publishers.  They all turned it down… calling it a “silly farce” that would “never sell”.  But she remained optimistic. 
And because she BELIEVED optimistically, she BEHAVED optimistically. She submitted that “silly farce” to another publisher… and then another… until she found one that saw its potential and took a risk on a then unknown author.  The rest is history. 
However, EVERY future would be better if we followed her lead… FIRST, BELIEVING optimistically and THEN, BEHAVING optimistically.  It was her “secret” to success.  And yours. 

New Orleans’ Entrepreneurs Show U.S. a “Blueprint for Economic Recovery”

July 20, 2009 by
New Orleans Entrepeneur
Four years ago, I was horrified as I watched Hurricane Katrina batter the town of New Orleans.  Just this year, Lea and I were able to visit the city when I spoke for the New Orleans Association of Opthamologists.  While the levees and floodwalls gave way just 48 months ago, it is evident that the will and optimism of this unique and creative city have not. 
This month, Entrepreneur magazine profiled four entrepreneurs who are breathing new life into the economy of New Orleans. The cover story headline read : “NEW ORLEANS:  A Blueprint for Economic Recovery”.   Could the new wave of entrepreneurs making New Orleans their home really provide the rest of our nation with a detailed blueprint for economic recovery? 
Only time will tell, but it looks promising.  See, in the past (i.e. Pre-Katrina), New Orleans was associated more with “big industry confabs” rather than a great place for a “start up”.  But, as with every crisis moment or ongoing challenge we face, we can choose to give in or we can choose to get “Tougher than the Times”.   It is made evident by just one quote in the article that this new “start up nation”,  laying down roots in New Orleans as you read this post, is choosing the latter. 
New Orleans fashion designer, Seema Sudan, says of the current economic calamity, “Everyone’s going through Katrina right now.  When I go elsewhere, I feel what’s going on in the world.  When I’m here, I feel the optimism.” 
FIRST STEP in an economic blueprint for recovery:  Recognize that you are not alone…. and that you are not “the” victim.
SECOND STEP:  Employ one of the most profitable mental technologies available to all of us:  Optimism.