They Can Own It – Jason Barger (Author, Speaker, & Entrepreneur)

Jason Barger - Paper Napkin Wisdom

Jason Barger – Paper Napkin Wisdom

The last time Jason Barger was on the show, he talked about how important it is that we ReMember and make the active choice to evaluate and reconnect to the memberships in our lives. This time, he switches his focus to culture and talks about the importance of culture in leadership and employee performance. Jason borrows his Paper Napkin Wisdom from a poster he saw during a visit to Southwest Airlines. He says: “We are all ambassadors of our culture.”

The phrase is one that has stuck with him throughout the last year. While on a visit to Southwest Airlines, Jason was blown away by the amount of times he saw Southwest’s core values around him: Count on me to own it; we are all ambassadors of our culture. The latter half of the phrase really resonated with him and throughout our conversation he talks about what culture means and why it’s so valuable.

The best companies proactively think about the experiences they can provide to engage the hearts and minds of their team members, they help the employees participate in the culture. This is essential because culture work is not a drive-through experience; it is continuous process and one that is a collaborative effort you have to share with your team. As leaders, we do have to be the biggest ambassadors of our company but if we can empower and create other ambassadors in our teams, people who become an extension of our own voice; that is a powerful asset.

Culture is a reoccurring theme in our Paper Napkins, which I think goes to show the shift in the dynamic of leadership. As leaders, we have to be beacons of our culture, attract people in alignment with our values, and trust our teams to step-up and take ownership. When our teams are taking ownership instead of ‘renting’ their jobs, they are acting as co-creators and participants in our company culture and that makes our team collectively better at dealing with challenges and succeeding as we strive for our goals. When you think about the culture of your own company, do you have a team of tenants or ambassadors? Tenants will maintain the status quo, ambassadors will strive for more.

A great culture isn’t something that happens by accident, nor is it something that will persist without effort. What are you doing to nurture your organizational culture?

Listen to my conversation with Jason here:

Books by Jason Barger:
Step Back from the Baggage Claim
ReMember: renewing our memberships, relationships, and focus in a distracting world

7 Steps to Leadership Success – Kirk Dando (Author & Leadership and Growth Expert)

Kirk Dando - Paper Napkin Wisdom

Kirk Dando – Paper Napkin Wisdom

Kirk Dando helped to grow a business to more than a billion in sales, and is a leadership and growth expert who has been working to unlock growth in business for more than 20 years. He believes that when it comes to leadership, people often try to do a post-mortem on success and failure until the concepts are overly complicated. Kirk prefers the Albert Einstein school of thought, which is very fitting for Paper Napkin Wisdom: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” On his Napkin, Kirk shares leadership and growth sound bites that have stuck with him.

As a total reversal of this sort of reactive leadership, Kirk says we can only really grow when we practice what he calls “Predictive Leadership.” The best leaders predict and proactively solve challenges by making sure they are deeply connected to what’s really going on.

The sound bites Kirk shares are about different aspects of business but all of them revolve around the idea of being active: You have to purposefully choose your perspective and your reaction to situations, you have to stay authentic, you need to get everyone involved and invested in the processes that lead to your goals, and you have to show your people you care. These things cannot happen without the impetus coming from you. Being purposeful in what you do and how you choose to approach situations, is about looking into the future and preparing for it to the best of your ability as a leader.

Kirk talks about choosing to be a problem predictor rather than a problem solver. You can be a problem predictor, prepare, and innovate or you can be a problem solver. As leaders, says Kirk, we are called to look around corners and really predict problems. If we can see what’s coming and if we know and understand how to share that with our team in a way that puts everyone out front, we give ourselves the opportunity for remarkable growth. However, if we only work as problem solvers we will miss that opportunity and could potentially stunt the growth of our company. We have to choose to look forward.

Many times we, as leaders, get stuck in the hero mode – where we have customers, suppliers, and staff come to us for solutions to problems. We fix them, we’re the hero. Kirk reminds us that this is not scalable, that entrepreneurs need to shed the cape to really grow themselves, their teams, and their businesses.

The conversation with Kirk is one jam packed with good advice. It’s easy to talk about the way things should be done or the way to be successful, but Kirk’s sound bites remind us that it is up to us to implement the wisdom we have. If we don’t use the knowledge at our disposal, we rob ourselves and our companies of the potential for growth. We need to ask ourselves: Are we problem solvers or problem predictors?

Problem solvers make companies work, but as Kirk explains to us, problem predictors make companies grow.

Listen to my conversation with Kirk here:

You can pre-order Kirk’s book Predictive Leadership: Avoiding the 12 Critical Mistakes That Derail Growth-Hungry Companies here.

WOO WOO Philosophy – Randy Cohen (Entrepreneur, Author, & Founder of Ticket City)

Randy Cohen - Paper Napkin Wisdom

Randy Cohen – Paper Napkin Wisdom

Randy Cohen is an entrepreneur who brings an incredible amount of energy, enthusiasm, and fun to a conversation because he is a person of passion. Randy’s passion is reflected in the Paper Napkin Wisdom he shares with us. He says: “Love what you do. Do it well. Keep on doing it.”

The sentiment is at the heart of the way Randy approaches business. To have a successful business, he says, you have to have a game plan. Loving what you do is the beginning of setting that game plan into action.

It’s all tied into Randy’s personal philosophy, which he calls the Woo Woo Philosophy: When you get out of bed every day you need to be ready to start the day running. What are you going to do today? How are you going to make a difference? What can you get done today? The Woo Woo Philosophy is about injecting passion and purpose into your work every day. Passion is as contagious as happiness and working with a passion initiates that top trickle-down effect that we as leaders strive to create.

As the conversation progresses, Randy speaks to the importance of tending to your company purpose and culture. To progress as a company, he says, you need to reinvent yourself and the purpose of your company as you grow. You need to make sure your culture is set up for the growth within your company and that the purpose of your company is still authentic and in alignment to the dynamic of your company.

As we’ve talked about in other Paper Napkins, maintaining the culture of your company vital. It guides how you interact with your team and, as Randy points out, your team spends more time with you and their work tribe than they do with their own families so it’s important that they feel valued in an authentic way. Leading with authenticity is about genuinely caring, says Randy. Having a team that knows you genuinely care, a team ingrained within a strong culture, means that you’ll be able to tackle challenges and roadblocks with strength and teamwork because there is an inherent understanding that you can rely on one another.

When you listen to Randy talk about his work, you can hear the passion in his voice. He clearly loves what he does; he sells more than tickets, he sells the experience to his customers and it’s something he takes a lot of joy from. If you’re thinking that his philosophy of having fun in what you do doesn’t apply to your business, he would challenge that. He believes that finding the fun in your business is up to you, and it’s up to you to find what you love and to do that.

When you love what you do and when that’s apparent to both your team and your customers, you set yourself apart from the competition and create a team feeling that people want to be a part of. That kind of enthusiasm is as attractive as it is contagious. Ask yourself “Do I love what I do?” If not, maybe it’s time to start changing what you’re doing. Find the fun, find the passion, because that’s what will lead you to success.

Listen to my conversation with Randy here:

Get Randy’s Book:
Ticket to the Limit: How Passion and Performance Can Transform Your Life and Your Business into an Amazing Adventure

Just do it on Purpose – Yanik Silver (Author, Entrepreneur, & Adventurer)

Yanik Silver - Paper Napkin Wisdom

Yanik Silver – Paper Napkin Wisdom

Yanik Silver is a serial entrepreneur, a best-selling author, and an adventure junkie. His story and his businesses have been featured in multiple publications and with good reason; he’s a fascinating guy with a great message. In his Paper Napkin Wisdom Yanik shares with us what he believes is the key to a successful business.

Yanik says that you need to create and align your business with your true essence and calling, there ought to be a core impact there. Though he admits it is not strictly necessary, Yanik is adamant that it is a necessary element if you wish to take your business for the next level. He believes that in six or seven years, perhaps sooner, companies that are not built on a core impact that comes from their business leaders will be at a distinct disadvantage in the marketplace.

A business is always a reflection of the founder, says Yanik. As such, it only makes sense to center the values of the business based on your own. What’s your cause? What is your impact? What is your reason for existing as a business, beyond making money? These questions, and the answers to them, are surrounded by impact. Yanik breaks Impact down into three words: Culture, Community, and Creation.

Yanik defines Culture, Community, and Creation like this:

Culture is the bigger meaning behind what your people are doing. It’s a painted picture of why you’re all there and it is the guiding force through which your team grows and learns together.

Community is about your customers. It’s something you build through the language your company uses and the rituals you create. For example, ingraining your company with a cause that has a local or global impact; studies have shown that customers are more likely to buy a product if it associates with an organization that has an impact. It makes your customer feel like there is an element of teamwork there, which is essential to customer loyalty. If you can get your customers to be your biggest cheerleaders, you’ve got a tribe of beloved brand builders.

Creation is the product or service itself.

Though these three elements appear to be simple, it’s important that they are fulfilled authentically rather than superficially. Yanik talks about companies that fill the above elements really well, like Toms who have a program called One for One, meaning that for every pair of shoes or glasses bought the company gives a pair of shoes or provides assistance in restoring the eyesight of one person. He contrasts this with an ill conceived effort by KFC to raise money for breast cancer with pink buckets of chicken.Though the sentiment was commendable, it wasn’t an authentic fit and didn’t have an impact at all comparable to that of companies like Toms.

The best part is he says that all the trends show that customers are preferring “Firms of Endearment” over ordinary transactions. Why wouldn’t they?

This element of giving back, or ‘giving forward’ as Yanik prefers to call it, is intrinsic to the entrepreneurial spirit in so many ways. As we’ve said before on Paper Napkin, as leaders we have a call to serve. What is your service going to be? How are you going to answer that call?

“I get rich by enriching others,” says Yanik and it’s such a true and powerful statement. When we enrich our communities, be they local or global, we’re helping ourselves and those around us much in a cyclical way. It’s like planting a tree; yes you enrich the soil but the tree provides you with oxygen. With this sort of baked in impact in our businesses we can, as Yanik says, take our companies from transactional to transformational to transcending business as usual.

That’s something we should all be aiming for, how will you transcend the traditional and move to exceptional?

Listen to my conversation with Yanik here:

Gimmie Three Steps – Jim Sheils (Entrepreneur, & Co-Founder of Board Meetings International)

Jim Sheils - Paper Napkin Wisdom

Jim Sheils – Paper Napkin Wisdom

Jim Sheils is a busy man: he’s a real estate entrepreneur, speaker, and social entrepreneur. Despite having such a busy life, Jim regularly makes time for his two boys through The Board Meeting Strategy and it’s that strategy he shares with us in his Paper Napkin Wisdom.

“I do it all for them,” is something that many entrepreneurs say when referencing the long hours, business trips, and lack of regular day-to-day balance of our work schedules. We often will ask our children to wait while we finish an email, a call, or reading a report. What happens if one day they stop tugging at our leg for attention?

What happens if they no longer care about the BIG family holiday, or house, or options that comes from making the entrepreneurial choices we’ve made for so long?

What happens when they say that all they wanted was more time with us?

Jim takes the guessing out of that. And his strategy is simple. Give your children, each of them, the same attention you give to your best clients, suppliers, or Board Members. He says that once a quarter, you have a “Board Meeting” with each of your children. The meeting has to be at least four hours in duration and it consists of three principles: one-on-one time, no electronics, and a fun activity with focused reflection.

It’s about deepening the connection you have with your kids and each principle of the strategy has its own importance. One on one time is important because children want individual attention; they need to be appreciated as individuals. When you use the Board Meeting Strategy you give them that attention in an educational, fun, constructive way. You put a magnifying glass on your relationship with your child and give them the ability to be more confident and open with you because they feel that they’re valued.

The philosophy behind the second principle is an extension of that one-on-one time. Spending time without electronics keeps you in that human connection and keeps you from getting disconnected. You can’t truly say you’re spending quality time with your child if you’re simultaneously answering texts, calls, or e-mails. Nor can you say you’re spending quality time if you’re both just sat in front of a screen and not engaging. In removing electronics from the equation of your time together, you show your child that you are guarding that time with them, that you want to be engaged with them, and that is a powerful message.

The last principle is arguably the most difficult, not because a fun activity is hard to find or because focused reflection seems daunting, but because it involves letting go of control a bit and being vulnerable. You have to give your child ownership of your day together, let them pick the activity.

As leaders, we tend to think it’s up to us to make the plan, design the day, but you have to let your child take the initiative. In giving your child the power you are not only teaching them independence, you’re showing them you care and are interested in what they might be interested in, and that further instills the message that you value them.

Listen to my conversation with Jim here:

Jim’s website:

Practice Focus – Brian Price (Olympic Gold & Silver Medalist, Speaker, Cancer Survivor)

Brian Price - Paper Napkin Wisdom

Brian Price – Paper Napkin Wisdom

Brian Price is a leader and a champion. At the age of seven he was diagnosed with Leukemia and battled for five years before beating the disease into remission. As a result of the chemicals from his treatments, Brian was unable to reach his full growth potential and while his height was restricted from what it might have been, it did leave Brian the perfect size to be a coxswain.

He is a three time Olympian, a world class coxswain, and a motivational speaker. In his Paper Napkin Wisdom, Brian shares with us one of the lessons he learned from his coach Mike Spracklen: “Focus is doing what you say you’re going to do.”

Focus, says Brian, is something you have to practice. Even when you’re the best at what you do, you can’t just assume you’re going to be focused because there are so many things that can take your mind away from doing the task at hand. It’s difficult, he says, because focus isn’t something that’s quantifiable. Focus is not something easily measured; it helps if you have someone who knows what you’re capable of and can be there to call you out when you lack it.

The way Brian talks about focus speaks to its importance both as an individual effort and as a team effort. You need to be focused not just for yourself, but for your team. If you’re distracted, that has the potential to distract your team and soon the group dynamic falls apart. A big part of succeeding at working as a team is practicing that focus together, being ready, and preparing to be ready.

Brian talks about the way the men’s Olympic rowing team practiced together with different goals at specific times during the practice: there was a system. A regime and a clarity that meant everyone knew the plan and all of them were able to focus on that and on improving. The method is one that can easily be applied to a team of any nature: Take a big goal, break it down into little steps, then manage those steps, and prepare for them beforehand. In practicing as a team consistently, you can structure your team and share a vision that is so clear, it creates alignment naturally.

“You can’t just light switch, be focused,” says Brian “you’ve got to practice it all the time.” He emphasizes that focus is a journey, not a destination. We so often think of the word focus as a synonym for ‘concentration’. As though all we need to do to focus is pay attention and while that is true in a way, it undercuts the importance of what we need. We need to not just pay attention in a moment; we need to be prepared, dedicated, and mentally engaged; that is true focus.

Think about a goal you have for yourself or your company. How much progress could you make on that goal if you practiced focusing on achieving it? Focus, like any other skill, requires practice and it’s the key to success- just ask the Canadian Men’s Rowing team.

Listen to my conversation with Brian here:


Pull the Future In – Rugger Burke (Principal and General Counsel at Satori Capital)

Rugger Burke - Paper Napkin Wisdom

Rugger Burke – Paper Napkin Wisdom

Rugger Burke is a member of the Investment Committee and General Counsel at Satori Capital who pays close attention to not only his own purpose, but that of the companies he considers. In his Paper Napkin Wisdom, Rugger presents us with a Venn diagram showing the interconnection of Talent, Need, and Love. The moment of intersection between these three aspects, says Rugger, is where you find your purpose. “Find your purpose and be it in thought, word, and action” advises Rugger.

Ask yourself: What would the best _________do?

The blank can be filled in by whatever you want, whatever applies to you, by whatever you feel comes to you naturally. What would the best entrepreneur do? What would the best investment banker do? What would the best podcast host do? Ask yourself that question, he says, and then do whatever the answer is. By asking yourself what the best entrepreneur would do, you’re able to align yourself with your goals and start looking for a path of action to get there. It’s about pulling the future into the present, considering what the best version of you would do and then living that way now.

There are three questions Rugger asks companies when considering them for investment and they are questions every entrepreneur and business leader should ask themselves: What are the great gifts, skills, and capabilities that you have? What does the world need? What is it you really love to do? It’s the best form of sustainable competitive advantage. Be what you love.

In asking these questions you determine your assets, the need you can best fulfill, and your passion. Once you have a firm understanding of those three elements, you can find the point at which they intersect. It is at that point that you are able to articulate a purpose for your company that is both needed in the marketplace and aligned with your skills and passion.

That knowledge is valuable, not just in terms of being able to be a better leader, but in a tangible cash value sense. Rugger says that companies with an articulated purpose that model that purpose are valued higher, run better, attract better talent and persevere even in difficult times. There is a value there, he says, that is distributed through the chain of people it touches.

Striving to be our best, raises everyone’s game and that’s one of our jobs as leaders – to have everyone at their best. When we do this we create a domino effect; those around us see our efforts and mirror that, creating a ripple effect of positive change in our company.

Are you raising the game of those around you? Are you aligned in your core purpose?

Listen to my conversation with Rugger here:



Live the Picture – Jack Daly (Speaker, Trainer, Coach, & Author)

Jack Daly (II) - Paper Napkin Wisdom

Jack Daly (II) – Paper Napkin Wisdom

Jack Daly is an inspiring, enthusiastic, and dynamic entrepreneur and speaker. The last time he was on the show, Jack shared the way he cultivated the skills he has now and followed a painstakingly detailed plan for his success. This time Jack shares with us the lessons he learned while training for and competing in the Ironman competition. He makes a clear parallel between preparing himself to compete in the Ironman competition and business.

The Ironman competition is a three part triathlon competition consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bicycle ride, and 26.2 mile marathon. It’s a daunting goal that requires substantial endurance and training, but more than that it requires a plan. Jack attributes his successful completion of the Ironman competition to 7 aspects and he believes that they are as essential to success in business as they are to the triathlon. If you want success, Jack says you need: A vision of where you’re going, a playbook or a game plan, a coach or a model to learn from, practice, you need to measure your improvement, take care of yourself fitness and nutrition wise, and a have good attitude.

The aspects that Jack details for success are seemingly simple, but that’s what makes them tricky. It’s so easy to overlook the obvious but we have to make sure that we’re putting focus on those necessities, putting the work into them every day. We have to make sure we keep whatever vision we started with and that as we move forward, we’re moving forward towards that vision.

Jack says that when he was building a business, he never worked in the company that existed; he worked in the company that he envisioned. That’s important. Having that clear sense of where you want to go keeps you on target. See yourself in that place, act in a manner consistent with being there – now. Don’t wait for the future to appear to begin behaving in the manner you’d need to in order to succeed in that space. Do it now. If we do this, he says, it’s a matter of following his seven step process..

Since completing his first Ironman competition, Jack has gone on to complete a dozen more. He carries an 8 ½ by 11 photo of himself crossing the Ironman finish line in Africa. Before each race, he visualizes crossing the finish line again. He literally carries around his vision with him, and more than that, he works until he lives that picture.

Ask yourself, what’s your vision? If you could have a picture of it, what would that look like? Figure it out in great vivid detail. What does it look like across that finish line. If you figure out what’s in your picture and carry that vision around with you, be it literally as Jack does or metaphorically, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

If you happen to see Jack out and about, ask him about that picture, he guarantees he’ll have it with him. Can you say the same about yours, is it at the ready to be shared? Is it ready to be lived?

Listen to my conversation with Jack here:

Check out his previous Paper Napkin Wisdom here.


Call it in the Air – Chris Scott (Entrepreneur and President of The Paperless Agent)

Chris Scott - Paper Napkin Wisdom

Chris Scott – Paper Napkin Wisdom

Chris Scott is an entrepreneur who has created strategies to help guide the careers and business development efforts of CEOs, business leaders, and entrepreneurs. Knowing that, Chris’s own strategy for decision making might surprise you.

In his Paper Napkin Wisdom, Chris shares the story of how he and his wife made the decision to bring his grandfather out of hospice and have him live with them and their young family for the last few months of his life. How did they make that difficult decision? They flipped a coin. Making a huge decision based on a coin flip might sound slightly insane, but as Chris explains, it’s an excellent tool for figuring out what your intuition is telling you.

We all have two sides to our brain: The left brain, in charge of analysis and logic, and the right brain, in charge of creativity and emotion. When we’re making a decision, it’s important that we’re using both sides because each half of the brain has its own effect on the way we approach things and how good we are at maintaining them. To visualize it a bit more metaphorically, it’s about thinking with the head and the heart. We need to be aligned internally; the stronger that internal alignment, the less likely we are to lose resolve in moments of self-doubt. A large part of success after we’ve made a decision is our commitment and resolve to follow it through, and that resolve comes from being as aligned as possible and committed to the decision we’ve made.

In using a coin flip to determine a decision, you’re not really just letting a coin randomly decide what you do, you’re gauging how you react to that decision. When Chris and his wife, Nicole, flipped a coin to determine whether or not his ailing grandfather would be moving in with them, the coin’s outcome dictated that he would not. Neither Chris nor Nicole felt good about that decision and that provided them with the clarity they needed to make the decision that was right for them.

The coin flip tool is not one that works for everything, Chris points out that he finds it doesn’t really work for small decisions, but the idea behind it is powerful. We need to know where we stand on decisions both from a logical perspective and an intuitive perspective.The coin flip, if you’re in the right mind, is a great test of that intuitive alignment.

As entrepreneurs, we can often fall into a kind of buyer’s remorse regarding decisions. When we do that it’s because we’ve lost faith in that decision and if we lose faith in it, we need to be asking ourselves how much faith we had in it to begin with. In the long term our focus goes where our heart goes. What decision do you have to make? Where does your heart stand on it?

Flip a coin and find out.

Listen to my conversation with Chris here:

Get the book we talked about:
The Highest Goal – The Secret that Sustains You in Every Moment by Michael Ray

En Guard, Prêt, Allez – Jamie Douraghy (Entrepreneur & Competitive Foil Fencer)

Jamie Douraghy - Paper Napkin Wisdom

Jamie Douraghy – Paper Napkin Wisdom

Jamie Douraghy is an entrepreneur and competitive foil fencer. He’s been fencing for 35 years and over time he’s come to the realization that there is a lot of overlap between fencing and business. In his Paper Napkin Wisdom, Jamie shares this philosophy. He says: “The art of business is like the sport of fencing; you always have to be strategic, mentally engaged, physically prepared, trusting of your abilities and focused.”

As a sport, Jamie explains, fencing is both a team effort and an individual sport. It’s a team effort in that you work with your coach, the other members of your club, and it involves the support of your friends and family. There’s a team behind you but when it comes to the competition itself, you are there on your own and can’t pass the ball to someone else. You have to perform. Jamie points out how similar that dynamic is to the business world. Like fencing, you’re sometimes working as part of a team and sometimes you’re on your own and have to fend for yourself.

Part of the reason the fencing works as a comparative model for business is that the two endeavors benefit from similar structures. In fencing, you have a coach to lead you through challenges and provide you with guidance. In business, you often have a mentor there to provide a similar role. In business you rely upon your colleagues in the same way a fencer relies on his fellow club members; they are people to learn from and improve with. In both roles, as with most things in life, you’re always going to rely on the support of your friends and family.

As he describes the relationship he’s discovered between business and fencing, Jamie emphasizes the importance of mental clarity and focus. It’s clarity that allows us to focus on the process we’re in and, as we’ve talked about in previous Napkins, it’s the process that leads to results. Jamie also speaks to the problem of fear and mental back-talking, aspects that clutter our minds and prevent us from moving forward. When the mind isn’t focused, he says, you risk becoming distracted and you risk losing. If your mind is clear, you can recognize distractions and actively say “No” to them. “Fear and stress hold people back,” says Jamie “pressure pushes people forward.”

How do we avoid the trap of falling into fear and stress? Jamie says that we need to learn to put that fear aside and focus on the process itself. We need to trust in our abilities and prepare ourselves in business, the same way we would prepare ourselves for a fencing match. “Preparation is the key to success,” he says “because it gives you the confidence to trust in your abilities.”

Are you prepared for the direction you want to take your business in? Do you have the abilities, the support, and the level of focus you need? If so, there should be nothing holding you back. You need to enter the fray, because if you don’t you simply won’t have the chance to succeed.

Listen to my conversation with Jamie here: