Success Thought of the Day – 7/19/18: The Force of the Determined

JULY 19, 2018
Written by James Rosseau

There is in this world no such force as the force of a man determined to rise. The human soul cannot be permanently chained. - W.E.B. DuBois

There are certain TV shows or movies that I tend to watch over and over again.  For me, the hitlist that jumps to the top of my mind are Jurassic ParkThe Temptations Movie, The Good Times TV Series and Jaws.  In each of those, there is a character who illustrates the force of the determined.

Interestingly enough, in Jurassic Park, it is highlighted as truth early in the movie in one of my favorite scenes.  It is when John Hammond, Jurassic Park owner, along with the scientists, are speaking with Dr. Ian Malcolm (played by Jeff Goldblum).  They are trying to convince Dr. Malcolm that they can control Jurassic Park’s growth because they have engineered it that way by producing only female dinosaurs.  Dr. Malcolm then states the following in response:

If there is one thing the history of evolution has taught us it’s that life will not be contained. Life breaks free, it expands to new territories and crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously, but, uh… well, there it is.

The Take-Away

Fun and dinosaurs aside, the point is, your decisions and determination are powerful.  Make no mistake, you will face barriers, hurdles, and valleys – – but your tests and trials will produce your testimonies.  The Force of the determined will prevail.

Have a great day!


Success Thought of the Day – 7/18/18: The Trust Ingredient

JULY 18, 2018
Written by James Rosseau


A critical ingredient which binds a customer to a brand is trust. – Bernard Kelvin Cline

The realm of possibility is fascinating, as it is about things that may happen or may be the case.  The inherent differences between the beginner’s mind and the expert’s mind have been readily explained.  Beginners will trust intuition and curiosity over analysis and pre-conceptions.

Last week, in my capacity as an Executive in Residence at the Kellogg School of Management, I had the opportunity to speak to the EMBA cohort in Miami.  Big shout out to EMP 111.  Thank you, guys, for being such a great group to hang out with for a few.  During that time, I spoke about our roles as leaders in creating the company culture, which naturally surfaced a discussion around the trust ingredient.

Back to the point of the quote.  We all have a personal brand, and, in that context, particularly in a business environment, everyone is a customer.

The Trust Ingredient

“Back in the day,” if I’m even allowed to say that, I remember phrases such as “trust is built over time with tiny deposits.”  While I don’t hear those phrases used as often anymore, we know that it matters.  Perhaps a huge difference today is that we are more collaborative than ever before.  Therefore, in the business environment, we have an almost immediate need to trust each other.

Ways to Build Trust

Please forgive me if this appears rudimentary, but let’s not assume that everyone knows how to build trust in a business environment. Below are a few tips to get started with:

  • Company Alignment: Operate in alignment with the company vision, mission, objectives, and goals.  If you don’t know and understand them – get them, read them and have someone (e.g. your supervisor, manager, etc.) clarify them so you know them.   If they do not resonate with your core values and such, discuss that openly and resolve immediately.  Do not let this go unresolved – that doesn’t work.
  • Be a Team Player: Operate in the spirit of team Interests over self-interests, understanding your role on the team, how it fits with others and ensure you are adding value.  Seek ways to deliver beyond expectations on the team.
  • Openly share information with others. As you read things, attend conferences, etc., share what you learn for the benefit of others.
  • Avoid gossip and non-value-added conversations about others. Litmus test – – if the conversation is not positive about the person or is critical in tone, but not about how you are going to go help the person, give it a second thought.
  • Deliver consistently: Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Accept assignments with your eyes wide-open, ensuring you can deliver OTOBOS (On time, On Budget, On Scope) and don’t miss the mark.  This is critical for your reputation.
  • Use informal time: We all need to eat, use those times to genuinely get to know your colleagues. Whether breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack or whatever.  Find times to have casual conversations with collogues.  Time spent deepening relationships matters over the long haul.
  • GASHAC: This was advice given to me by my manager, Lisa Neal-Graves (hi Lisa!) when I joined JPMorgan Chase in 2000 and I remember it dearly.   The acronym stands for Give A (fill in the blank), Have A Clue.  In other words.  CARE.  Pay attention to people.  Look out for things such as non-verbal cues, what is not said, etc. and manage relationships.

Take away Item

For your personal brand to be successful, particularly in business, the trust ingredient must be managed.  These tips can get you started down that road.

Success Thought of the Day – 7/17/18: Realm of Possibility

JULY 17, 2018
Written by James Rosseau

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few. Shunryu Suzuki, Zen philosopher

The realm of possibility is fascinating, as it is about things that may happen or may be the case.  The inherent differences between the beginner’s mind and the expert’s mind have been readily explained.  Beginners will trust intuition and curiosity over analysis and pre-conceptions.

There should be no conflict.  You see, operating in the “mind of an expert” is less about how the mind actually works.  Unfortunately, it is more about how a person persons him or herself.  Researchers have demonstrated that the most skilled persons, in a multitude of fields, never stop learning – – and thus behave like a beginner.

Take-away item

Seek to be a life-long learner, forever growing and evolving.  Let your intuition guide you towards opportunities, allow your curiosity to be eager to learn, while your analysis improves over time with experience.

Success Thought of the Day – 7/16/18: Habits are Powerful Tools

JULY 16, 2018
Written by James Rosseau

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. – James Rosseau, Sr. Habits are Powerful Tools

Habits are powerful tools.  John Maxwell shares a great story along this line that creates a visual that reinforces it.

The Story

One day, a man goes out his back door, grabs an ax and takes five chops at the same spot on a tree.  He puts the ax back and goes back in the house.  The second day, the man goes out, grabs the ax and takes five chops at the same spot on the tree. He puts the ax back and goes back in the house.  On day three the same – –  on day four the same – – and so on.

After some time, the tree finally falls.  However, if the man would have stopped going outside each day; or would have used another tool; or would have only taken three chops; or would have taken five chops, but at different spots on the tree; he likely would not have cut the tree down.  It is the consistency that allowed him to achieve the goal.

The Science

In the Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business by Charles Duhig, he points out three points of a habit.

Cue: something that prompts us.

Routine: something that we do upon seeing the cue.

Reward: the thing we are looking forward to once we execute the routine.

The science behind habits is worth understanding, whether you are trying to establish a new one or break a bad one – – which some say is really replacing a component of a bad habit with a new component.

Applying the science

Let’s use the John Maxwell story in the construct of what we learned from Charles Duhig.

Cue: Something caused this gentleman to start his routine each day, perhaps an alarm clock or an event (e.g. in sequence after another task).

Routine: The routine was to go out the back door, pick up the ax next to the shed and take five chops at the designated spot on the tree and put the ax back.

Reward: His reward would be that tree finally coming down, but that would not happen at the end of the routine each day! In other words, he never knew when he would receive his reward.  This introduces us to the idea of delayed gratification rewards when we consider replacing components,

This is obviously not a new concept as we do it all the time. Point in case when we consider the very reason there is a multi-billion-dollar weight loss industry.  As an example, we want to stop the habit of eating sugary foods which offer the immediate reward of great taste and satisfaction.   As a recommendation to achieving weight loss, when the cue occurs, the routine is changed to grab some rice cakes to achieve the same reward.  (Note:  Some might suggest the person needs to ignore the cue and build up to full resistance and control.  I am not a weight loss professional, nor is that the point of this case).

Take-Away Items

Your habits can work powerfully in your favor.  Instead of focusing on “bad habits to break” or “Good habits to start” perhaps begin with “I need to understand my current habits in order to modify them.”

Analyze your habits over the next week.  Look out for what rewards you are seeking.  Determine what cues trigger you to begin a routine to achieve those rewards.  This will help you understand things you may be doing consciously and subconsciously and take advantage of swapping out components to align things to achieve your goals.

Have a great day!

Success Thought of the Day – 7/13/18: It Truly Takes A Village

JULY 13, 2018
Written by James Rosseau

It Truly Takes A Village

Earlier this week I had the incredible experience to spend some time at The Village, which is run by the Atlanta Children’s Foundation for the sole purpose of helping children in need.  More specifically, they are working towards serving the 4,000 children in the foster system within the state.  If that in and of itself is not a problem statement, at to it that statistically, today, only 8% of the children in the system ever graduate high school.

The Visit

Upon pulling into the campground, I was a bit overwhelmed.   200 acres of beautifully planned out campgrounds, structured with activities that seemed to never end – – – basketball, archery, fishing, pool, etc.  Then I meet the kids.  Fifty-five wonderful children ranging from the ages of six to twenty-one, being facilitated by counselors who are graduates of the program if you will and lead by Robert and his team, particularly the chief (as I call her), named Natalie.  This team is phenomenal.

Days began with and ended with devotionals, included exercise and an abundance of activities to help these children grow physically, mentally and spiritually.


First and foremost – – hats off to Robert, Natalie and the team for the work they are doing to impact the lives of others.

Huge thanks to Will Adams for arranging and Robert Willis for allowing me to spend some time there to learn.  As I endeavor to do more to fulfill my passion for helping others reach their potential, Will and Rob thought it would be a good idea for me to visit their camp.  You were right!  I am forever grateful for the opportunity and look forward to being there again.

For everyone else, please visit the Atlanta Children Foundation’s website if you would like to become more educated and involved in helping children in need.

Success Thought of the Day – 7/12/18: Stop Wishing and Just Do It

JULY 12, 2018
Written by James Rosseau

If you feel like there’s something out there that you’re supposed to be doing, if you have a passion for it, then stop wishing and just do it. - Wanda Sykes

If there was a role available for Chief Passion Officer, I would take it, hands down.  While I have several passions such as music, innovation and helping others reach their potential, without a doubt, helping others reach their potential is my chief passion.   Helping a person reach that point of feeling empowered to stop wishing and just do it, does it for me!

Why is chasing passion so important?

From a creation perspective, as human beings, we acknowledge that each of the more than 7 billion humans on the planet has unique fingerprints.  So, in that same vein, I’d like to submit we are created with a unique purpose to fulfill (passion).

From a psychological perspective, Brian Schwartz has suggested that “A consuming passion is the last thing you think about before you go to bed at night and the first thing you think about when you wake up.

Scientifically, the passioncentre has been compiling various forms of data.   Some key observations included that feeling a sense of purpose is worth seven years of extended life expectancy and that  Angela Duckworth‘s, Grit (The power of passion and perseverance) showed that this combination was a higher and more consistent indicator of success than talent or skill.

Success Thought of the Day – 7/11/18: Self-awareness

JULY 11, 2018
Written by James Rosseau

When nobody around you seems to measure up, it's time to check your yardstick. -- Bill Lemley.

In a previous Success Thought of the Day, we touched on the fact that we can become the average of the five people we spend the most time with.  Thus, if we can’t change the people around us (e.g. help them become better), then we need to change the people around us (e.g. be around different people).  However, how do we know that we, in fact, are not the challenge, versus the others?  The question is one of self-awareness.

Success Thought of the Day – 7/10/18

JULY 10, 2018
Written by James Rosseau

Success Thought of the Day – 7/9/18: Your Atmosphere Affects Your Outcomes

JULY 09, 2018
Written by James Rosseau

The atmosphere you permit affects the outcome you will experience. – Steve Hare

Interestingly enough, many of us will listen to the weather forecast before we leave the house for the day.  If it is going to rain, many of us will take an umbrella so as not to get wet.  We will drive a bit slower and perhaps be even more mindful of other drivers.  We might even have an expectation that it will take us longer than usual to arrive at our destination.  Indeed, your atmosphere affects your outcomes.

Compounded effect

With that being the case for a morning commute as an example, just imagine how much more impactful the atmosphere you live with on a continual basis to your outcomes.  Consider being in an atmosphere where the environment tends to mold around your needs (not wants, but your needs).  Trumpets roar as you rise to get going for the day, nutrients abound, there is an infectious energy about from everyone you interact with as you exchange ideas and work in harmony towards your vision, mission, and goals.

It would be hard not to be motivated and a conqueror in that kind of environment.  So, let’s go back to the quote, it is up to us to permit the atmosphere.  Permit means to give authorization or consent to (someone) to do something.

The Take-Away

Often times, we tell people what we do not want them to do.  More specifically here, we might have people occupying our atmosphere who are not bringing infectious energy but are literally killing it.  To them what may want to tell them what we will not permit.  Try a different approach, you have nothing to lose – – go to people in your atmosphere and give them permission to be positive, be energetic, be encouraging, bring opportunities and ideas and more.    Speak to them in the affirmative – – “Let’s give each permission to be great for each other!”

Success Thought of the Day – 7/6/18: Controlling Execution

JULY 06, 2018
Written by James Rosseau

The good thing about execution issues are that they are within our control. - N. Robert Hammer

Leading and controlling execution is key to your success.  Earlier in my career when I was head of HR Service Delivery for North America at JPMorgan Chase, I would typically get into my Delaware office around 6:30 AM or so.  I really enjoyed the morning time.  So, I would pop up like clockwork to be at the gym around 4:30 AM, work out, grab some Dunkin Donuts coffee (sorry Starbucks fans) and head into the office. I enjoyed that quiet time until …. just about 7:15 AM. LOL.  It seemed like something broke almost every day.

In fairness, we were responsible for approximately 200,000 employees (if I remember correctly), with nearly 30 functions covering everything from immigration services through retirement services.  Naturally, something is bound to happen.

I recall when Tornados hit, and we literally had payroll checks in FedEx Trucks that were on their way to employees literally vanished, when half of the East Coast lost electricity, not to even mention the major catastrophic events such as 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina, etc., where we served to help locate employees, get funds to people, etc.

Lesson Learned

The enemy of a good operation is variability and that enemy will always show up to challenge you.  That means your plan need to contemplate it.  Your plan needs to anticipate risks and how you will mitigate them.  To the storyline above, we got much better!

By the way, if you thought “the world should just lie down and make way for your plan and by nice to you,” sorry, it doesn’t work that way, I really wish I had better news.  If you’re looking for a great book to get your head around this, I would advise grabbing Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win.

Have a great day!




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