The first hour of the morning is the rudder of the day – Henry Ward Beecher

The first hour of the morning is the rudder of the day — Henry Ward Beecher

It has been said that your attitude at the start the day can have more affect on you than ten cups of coffee! If that is true, we have to challenge ourselves to begin our days with positive thoughts that prepare us for success. This series is about just that — — starting the day with the right thoughts.

I have been sharing the Success Thought of the Day now for about 17 years. The brief story behind it starts with my joining JPMorgan Chase back in January of 2000. During the interview process, I was invited to meet with people at various buildings, I believe 270 Park Avenue and 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza — — both of which are very well kept buildings, representative of the JPMorgan Chase brand. However, when I received my offer letter I was told to report to another building I had not visited. Upon arrival that morning I could not help but notice that aesthetically, things were very different. More important than the aesthetics outside the building, were how it felt inside — — without going into details, I would just say it did not feel welcoming.

To make a long story short, I found that the environment was not conducive to conversations amongst the new team that I was just provided the opportunity to lead and it really concerned me. During my 2-hour morning commute from Philadelphia to New York, I would read newspapers, books and articles on the train, often finding something noteworthy that inspired me. On one particular morning, I decided to send a “quote” to the team. To my surprise, I found that throughout that day, that quote provoked people to not only give it some thought, but talk about it with others. That reaction was beyond what I could hope for and so I did it again the next day and here we are some 17 years later of me still doing it.

The natural question of course is, after I stopped leading that particular team, why didn’t I stop? A few reasons — — the first, it has become a part of how I start my day, but the second — — which is more important to me, it that people have come to expect it. When I left that particular team, many asked me to keep them on “the thought of the day list.” I didn’t know I had such a list, but I guess I did!

So that’s the story. I will post them here often, but If you would like the email version sent to you for yourself, your team, students, etc., so can sight up for it here. It costs you nothing except the risk of some daily inspiration!



6 Ways To Avoid Drifting Through Your Career

After working for 25 years, and through trial and error, I finally realized something powerful. I understood and acknowledged that it wasn’t a random set of acts or events that produced the success and joy I have felt in my career.

What I learned in going through challenges, in encountering roadblocks and obstacles, is that I have to be true to myself. These six promises are commitments that I’ve made to myself and mindfully put into practice in every situation that I’ve been in. My advice, from someone who has been there, is to make these six promises and keep them:


Don’t discount your dreams. Return to that childlike fascination you once had and find a way to spend your work and life passionately!


Most of us have experienced the paralysis that often comes from perfection or the pursuit of it. Here is an alternative to the paralysis of perfection: what if you performed to progress toward your goals and dreams, celebrating each small step along the way? As I referenced before, passion is at the root of the promises. It is a key part of the larger process of fueling your progress. However, the world doesn’t reward dreamers for dreaming but for doing. You must also perform at the highest possible level, seeking progress with each new skill set learned and action taken.


Let people know who you are in a way that is personal and purposeful. No one enjoys the slick self-promoter. People will, instead, recognize and reward those who stand confidently in their strengths authentically and purposefully.


Your “platform” is the station in life you’ve achieved thus far. It may not be where you want to be yet, but it is yours! It includes your network of friends, coworkers, your mentors, and even those bosses who partner with you to achieve your passions, just as you’ve helped them achieve theirs. Your platform is the sum total of all your efforts in honing your talents and skills. It’s that sense of confidence and awareness you’ve grown into and developed by walking the path of your life, including insights gleaned from all your business experiences.


I don’t believe that opportunity knocks only once. I believe it knocks often. But we have to keep our eyes and ears open to see and hear it when it does! Often, opportunity stares us in the face and we’re too busy working to notice. Instead, be alert and aware. Take action on the four steps that lead up to this one as earnestly and as often as possible.


Give. You can never go wrong giving, even when nobody hears about it. Giving helps not just those to whom you give but also helps you find the purpose to give and give again. So many of us have benefited from the gifts of others, and you’ll never know what your small, or even not so small, gift might mean to someone in need, be it a coworker, a friend, and even a boss. As you find success, make giving a habit commensurate with your earnings.

First and foremost, you are making these promises to yourself within the context of being the very best you possible. Not everyone is going to applaud you along the way as you fulfill that purpose. You have to create the expectation of success so that you have motivation to draw from as you move forward.

Find comfort in committing to and fulfilling the promises you make to yourself. Others can’t run the race for you. You can only run it for yourself. If that means turning around at the “Finish” line and being the only one there to pat your back, then go on and pat it!

This is not about your education level or formal training. This is about your willingness to take action on these six promises and to make them a part of your daily routine. Remember, it is not always the large, Hollywood ending or the “Rocky” moments that determine our success.

Instead, it’s the small things we do daily, habitually, that make us successful. Based on my life experiences, I have created the game plan and roadmap I wish I had when I started out. I share it with you now.

–From Success on Your Own Terms: 6 Promises to Fire Up Your Passion, Ignite Your Career, and Create an Amazing Life, by James Rosseau (Career Press Inc, 2014). 

Get started now with a free first chapter of my book.

 Also, for a limited time, grab a copy of the workbook as well.

One of the most dangerous words I know

One of the most dangerous words I know is comfortable. In all honesty, we often don’t use the words, we just act them out. See, in the world of career and personal development, we want to constantly challenge ourselves to be the very “best version of me” possible. I like to think of it as positioning ourselves on an incline – where we are not only looking forward, but upward. This is important as we need to be challenged, regularly, to get better.

Let’s compare it to exercising. In running, we challenge our pace, which strengthens our heart rate. In weight lifting, we challenge our muscles, which tear, rebuild and become stronger.  The key, is that in both cases, we embrace the challenge and discomfort consciously and deliberately, in order to grow and move towards that “best version” of ourselves.  For example, if you think about building muscles, the process is a very simple one. As you lift more weight (and as many say “no pain, no gain”), you in fact, stress and slightly tear, muscle tissue. That tissue not only repairs itself, but swells a bit and over time results in stronger muscles and more strength.

Akin to exercising our bodies, we must exercise our minds, through by regularly creating growth opportunities. Often, when we take on new positions, we readily do just that by embracing the challenge and discomfort of potentially needing to learn how to operate in a new company, with new people, new products and services and everything else that goes with that learning curve. Similar to exercising, during that time we deliberately focus our energy on working through that discomfort of that new position. Over time, as we go through the learning curve, the act of performing our job can become somewhat of a routine and we naturally grow in our comfort. It certainly is not to say we believe what we are doing is any less important than when we started, nor are we less committed, but as some say, “the game has slowed down for us” and we are comfortable.

By definition, a “position” or “rank” can be a temporary place. Don’t get comfortable with it, take it as temporary, LevelUp to your next position and the challenge and discomfort that awaits you!

I share a picture below of my class, EMP98 at Kellogg Business School (we graduated in December 2015 together), because they are people I hold in high regard, that came to the class already accomplished in many things, but who wanted to challenge themselves to be the “best version of me” possible.

Podcast Interview

I was very honored to be a part of this podcast with Jon Umstead.  Great conversation!

How do you define success? More importantly, what do you do to go get it? In this episode of Business is ART, Jon and his guest, executive and author James Rosseau Sr., discuss the topic and the 6 promises James defines in his book Success On Your Own Terms.

You can listen to it here

Managing Talent in a Passion-Driven Job Market

Follow Your Passion - James B. Rosseau, Sr.

The fact is that many people are not excited about the work they do each day. Indeed, recent surveys have stated that four out of five people are not happy with their current jobs. That is 80%, which sheds new light on the 80/20 rule. Just think about that the next time you are sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic on your way to work. As you sit there, looking at your phone (when you shouldn’t be), notice the cars around you and realize, for every five cars, four of those drivers are not happy at all about the work day they are heading to face.

The question then becomes, as a business owner, leader or HR manager, what should you do about it? I would contend that the best investment you can make is in talent management. Every organization is looking to create and protect its competitive advantage and those often come in two flavors — resources or capabilities — and talent (your people) help you create, sustain and protect both. However, it is common, that when we think about talent management, the systems we create around it are usually geared towards the long-term goals and strategy of the enterprise. In essence, we funnel people into the vision, goals and strategy we have for the company. That manifests itself in how we recruit, manage, appraise and develop talent. Through each of those phases, the interactions are guided by the organization’s interests, language and prerequisites of what it believes qualifies an individual to “fit into” that vision.

I would argue that in today’s environment, which is probably best described as transient, fluid and global, that employers need to create relationships with talented individuals and networks versus the historical route of creating jobs/roles and plugging people into them. In what I describe as the passion-driven job market — where individuals are less concerned about achieving a post at the top of the chain in a fortune 500 company and are more concerned about enjoying what they do — for the long haul, employers need to re-pivot.

To re-pivot, employers need to genuinely engage talent on their terms, seeking to understand what they are passionate about. Employers will need to understand what drives a person and why; where does the person ultimately want to go and how; and what experiences the person believes he/she will need along that journey — and then becoming a part of it.

While big brands can certainly still attract talent in the traditional manner, we all know that turnover drives high costs. I would suggest that to pressure test my theory, we all watch those costs, as if I’m right, in a passion-driven job market, that cost will rise exponentially as passion seekers will follow their passion, not a brand, nor the convenience of ‘hanging around’ a place that does not help them chase their passions and their journey.

Passion is endless fuel.  I would your comments, either on this article or my book, Success on Your Own Terms: 6 Promises to Fire Up Your Passion, Ignite Your Career, and Create an Amazing Life, which expands on the topic further.

Article: “Managing Talent in a Passion Driven Job Market”


I have not sought out nor come across any empirical data set that proves this, nor do I plan to. However, I have spent a lot of time hearing the same story over and over again. Many people are not excited about the work they are doing everyday. The last Forbes survey stated that four out of five people were not happy with their jobs. Four out of Five – that is 80%, which puts the 20/80 rule (that 20% of your efforts get 80% of the work done) into an entirely different perspective. Just think about that when you’re heading out the door and on the crowded bumper-to-bumper highway on the way to work. As you sit there, looking at your phone (when you shouldn’t be), look at the cars sitting there around you and realize, for every five cars, four of those drivers are not happy about going to work.

Read the Rest of the Article here