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The Value of Engaging In Conversation Thru Feedback


I’ve been very busy with speaking and presenting at different events this year alone. As a speaker, I value great feedback especially when I know that I can take it to improve myself. While events and conference organizers provide feedback forms in both paper-based and online formats, I make it a point to ask attendees for their personal feedback after my presentations.

At the last PASS Summit in Charlotte, NC, I spent some time at the Community Zone to engage attendees in some conversation. Both first timers and alumni have their own different perspectives about the event. I was specifically interested in what the first time attendees had to say so I scanned name tags to see if they were indeed first timers. Conversations after conversations, my question simply boiled down to a single theme: How was the PASS Summit experience for you? The responses were similar, ranging from “Great” to “Wonderful,” but that wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I knew for a fact that these would be the common responses. That wasn’t the goal. The goal was to find out what specific details led them to saying it was a great experience.

I like asking WHY questions (Michael Hyatt wrote a blog post about 7 Suggestions for Asking More Powerful Questions.) Apart from the fact that I’m just really curious, the WHY questions lead to more WHY questions. This triggers the one answering the question to really think about and articulate their response. It also engages the individual in a conversation. Let’s be honest, we all feel like we have something to say. We sometimes just need an opportunity to be heard. That’s what I try to accomplish whenever I ask for (and provide) feedback. When I asked the conference attendees why they consider it a great experience, they started telling stories about their experience on how they felt being at home in a group of complete strangers. For the event organizers, this is a more detailed feedback about knowing that the feeling of community is something of importance to the attendees. Of course, my curiosity didn’t stop there. I asked what specific event that made them feel that way – Community Zone, speakers, SQLKaraoke, SQLRun, etc. These are just a handful of events happening within the context of the main event. Everyone of them made the attendees feel like they were a part of a bigger community.

Unfortunately, these types of detailed feedback go unaccounted for. Feedback forms are not made equal. What’s worse is that a lot of feedback forms are designed to capture scores and not engage in conversation. The challenge I see here is that it is difficult to automate the process of capturing meaningful feedback in free text format. Imagine trying to read every single comment from thousands of attendees. Even businesses who try to capture feedback from their customers have this challenge (Aaron Bertrand (blog | Twitter) provided some insights on the PASS Summit feedback for speakers.) What’s more important is to think about gathering (and providing) feedback in a way that engages conversation. Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, was known for visiting stores and asking employees how they feel about the store and asking for suggestions to improve operations. While he could have afforded to pay consulting companies to design and implement the perfect feedback form, he opted to have a conversation. No scores nor numbers, just conversations and stories that he took from those he talked to.

Beyond scores and ratings, providing and gathering feedback should be a conversation. And when the conversation starts, meaningful insights emerge. No amount of business intelligence technologies can substitute for the insights gathered during meaningful conversations. What’s more, relationships are built which, for me, are the most important factor in the overall feedback system.

Leadership Lessons from Running a SQLSaturday Event


SQLSaturday Philippines

I’ve been involved with the SQL Server community ever since I can remember. I’ve been both a speaker and a volunteer and I know how it felt like to be on both sides of the fence. However, the one thing I haven’t been is an organizer myself. Until SQLSaturday218. This is the very first SQLSaturday event in the Philippines that was held last 9-Mar-2013.  Attendees, volunteers and speakers all claim that the event was a huge success and that they want it to be an annual event. But what they didn’t realize until the event was finally over was that SUCCESS always comes at a PRICE. The rewards of a champion only comes after the hard work and sacrifice, not before. SQLSaturday218 has reinforced a lot of leadership lessons that I have been practicing and teaching throughout the years.

  1. Find a higher purpose. I’ve blogged about this before and I’ve taught others about finding a higher purpose for things that we do.  SQLSaturday218 for me is more than just a SQL Server community event. It’s an attempt to express my patriotism in ways that I can do best. While most SQLSaturday organizers talk about technical education, I talk about loving my country. With the upcoming national elections in the Philippines, political candidates talk about bringing about change. I just made change happen thru SQLSaturday218. This wasn’t my original idea. Marlon Ribunal (blog | Twitter) and Justin Dearing (blog | Twitter) came up with the idea of running a SQLSaturday event in the Philippines. They included me in the conversation because they knew I was a die-hard FILIPINO. And the rest was history. My higher purpose helped me pursue even when the times are tough.
  2. Find allies, ignore detractors.  Every noble goal will have both. I always say that only fruitful trees get picked on. Nobody picks fruits on trees that don’t bear any. And, so be ready to have both allies and detractors. I heard a lot of folks tell me this is an insane idea. Nobody has ever organized a SQLSaturday event without physically being there. I was in Canada planning and organizing an event that was thousands of miles away from where I am, not to mention with a 12-hour time zone difference. I only knew (and have met) a handful of the volunteers. Regular SQLSaturday sponsors won’t fly to the Philippines just for this event. The odds are stacked up against me. I expected to have detractors. I was willing to take the stones that will get thrown at me. But I also did find allies. Niko Neugebauer  (blog | Twitter,) a fellow SQL Server MVP and PASS Community Evangelist was my greatest ally. He was the one who told me that it is possible and that I can make it happen because he was able to do it before. Allies will help you raise your shield when the detractors start throwing stones at you.
  3. Build a GREAT, UNITED team. People are what make things happen. That’s why you need to build a GREAT team. I’ve enlisted the help of people I knew who had the same passion for the community as I have. Culture is very important to me. That’s why I made sure that members of my team share the same values. They all went the extra mile to do things that I can’t because I wasn’t physically available. Some of my allies ended up being a part of the team.  And that’s why I brag about the people in my team who made SQLSaturday218 a huge success. But a great team will only go so far. A GREAT, UNITED team is unstoppable. In order to build a united team, they need to feel that they are a part of it in the first place. And building relationships is what makes that possible. Talk to team members. Understand what matters to them. Make them feel that they are special. Be willing to go the extra mile for them. If we are willing to do this for them now, imagine what they will be willing to do for you in the future.
  4. Over communicate.  It’s the leader’s job to keep the team informed. But sometimes, the same message has to be communicated several times in order for every one to get it. Over communication breeds clarity. It also addresses misunderstandings among those who receive the message. SQLSaturday has a website that organizers can use to do whatever they need to organize and run the event. While I maximized the use of the feature to send email communications to speakers, volunteers and registered attendees, I went the extra mile of sending personal emails. Every week for the past 6 weeks, I sent event updates to the registered attendees and those on the wait list. I also sent emails to the volunteers, giving them a picture of what to expect and what is expected of them. I also sent emails to my team about things that matter to us in order to make this event a success. I responded to emails, answered questions on instant messenger, did Skype calls, etc. in order to properly deliver the message.
  5. Ask for help but operate with a bootstrap mindset. My idea was to run SQLSaturday218 with very minimal to no sponsorship. That’s is because I wanted to create a mindset of creativity and resourcefulness. Plus, I also understand the challenges that most of the SQLSaturday sponsors have. It’s hard to spend money on sponsorships without the possibility of having immediate returns on their investments. I call myself the “self-proclaimed marketing guy” and I try to practice what I preach. I didn’t just go around asking for sponsorships. I only asked those who I believe will benefit from doing so. I even turned down several potential sponsors and explained why this would not benefit them. However, I didn’t just turn them down without offering them a long-term perspective of their marketing initiatives. And because we kept the bootstrap mindset, we operated as if we didn’t have resources. It’s amazing to see how people come up with creative ideas just because we don’t have the resources. So, when the resources became available, they were used to reward those who came up with creative ideas that got implemented.
  6. Have a detailed plan but be flexible enough when things don’t go as planned. I had a detailed project plan in place from start to finish. I shared it with my team and allowed them to make suggestions and modify it as necessary. But everyone knows that nobody can prepare and implement a perfect plan. Being flexible when things don’t go as planned is necessary for success.  We had delays with some of our deliverables. There were changes in the room assignments that affected the schedule and the signs that we printed out. But because everyone on the team understood what was expected, they all made things possible outside of the plan.
  7. Step back when necessary. Leaders have the tendency to do everything because they believe that success (and failure) lie in them. What they don’t realize is that not stepping back prevents potential rockstars to shine. At the day of the event, I knew exactly what I needed to do. Same thing with the volunteers. What’s really surprising is that I didn’t even have the chance to do a briefing session before we start doing the real work. All I did was shake their hands and introduced myself to them. Now, understand that these are people whom I haven’t personally met. But it’s as if they knew me very well and knew exactly what I expected of them. The volunteers were running on auto-pilot. That kept me focused on what I can do best. Had I not stepped back, I could have ruined the creative ideas that they were able to pull off and possibly discouraged them from trying again.
  8. Give as much A.I.R. as you possibly can. I blogged about giving appreciation, inspiration and recognition. As attendees were commenting on how great the event turned out to be, I took that opportunity to thank the sponsors, volunteers and speakers for making the event a huge success. At the volunteers’ and speakers’ dinner, I commented on the fact that I felt like having a great team from heaven. I sent emails to my contacts about how the event turned out to be, again, mentioning the fact that I had the best volunteers and speakers ever. I sent emails to the local sponsors, highlighting some of their staff who did a great job of volunteering at the event. I kept telling others, even sending personal emails and instant messages to the volunteers and speakers after the dinner, and constantly appreciating and recognizing their contributions. All of them wanted to be a part of next year’s SQLSaturday Philippines.

Leadership expert Dr. John C. Maxwell once said that “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” It’s one of the reasons why I’ve been a student of leadership for the past decade.  The lessons I’ve learned help make me become a much better leader and also inspires others to do the same. With the outcome of SQLSaturday218, I think this will become an annual event with the help of the local SQL Server user group.

Empowering Others By Giving Them A.I.R To Breathe

February 23, 2013 1 comment

Flight Emergency v.2

Flight Emergency v2 by Patrick Cheng

In a previous blog post, I talked about empowering individuals with double As. The idea came up from the concept of lithium powered batteries that power up electronic devices: appreciation and affirmation really do empower individuals. This past week, I was listening to an episode of the EntreLeadership podcast where Chris Hogan, a former All-American college football player, talks about empowering others by giving them A.I.R to breathe. We all know that air is vital to our survival, much like food and water. A general rule mentions that humans cannot survive if they do not breathe air within 3 minutes.  That’s how important air is for our survival. Conversely, we also need to breathe A.I.R. on a constant basis in order to survive in any organization. Leaders need to understand the importance of A.I.R. in the success of their organization.

  1. Appreciation. I’ve already talked about this in my previous blog post but it is worth repeating. Appreciation is one of the cheapest and most rewarding way to reward your staff. It applies to anybody as well: your spouse, your kids, your parents, your customers, vendors, suppliers, etc. A short, hand-written thank you note still has its place in this day and age of digital communication.
  2. Inspiration. To inspire someone is to literally stimulate their energies to achieve something beyond their imagination. Bill Gates was inspired by Dr. Henry Edward Roberts to start Microsoft back in 1975. Steve Jobs inspired a lot of people to do something great. As leaders, we need to be pedlars of inspiration to people around us, especially our staff. You’ll be surprised at what they can accomplish when they get an inspiration from you.
  3. Recognition. Didn’t we all love getting those stickers and stars when we were in pre-school? What about that plaque that we got for being best in math? Unfortunately, recognition, like dinosaurs, have become extinct inside corporations. Managers usually think that employees are already getting paid for what they do so no other form of recognition is necessary. Sadly, this is also one of the top reasons why employees leave an organization. To retain top talent, practice the art of recognizing them both privately and publicly. It could be as simple as giving them a plaque or certificate or as extravagant as hiring a marching band. Be creative, just make sure you do it on a regular basis.

If we need to breathe air within 3 minutes to live and survive, breathing it regularly makes us healthy. We need healthy individuals to fill our organization and what better way to do it is to empower our staff (and everybody else) by giving them A.I.R. to breathe.

Leadership By Conversation

January 22, 2013 1 comment

Connected by Conversation

Connected by Conversation by mikecogh

With all the travel that I’ve done for the past few years, I’ve learned how to pay attention to the people around me – how they talk,  act and even how they carry themselves. I’ve watched people talk to their kids, negotiate a seat on a plane, ask for favors, etc. I’ve learned a lot about people just by observing and watching them go about their life. One thing that caught my attention during my recent trip was how people like to engage in a conversation. I was on a flight from Charlotte to New York City getting ready to tighten my seat belt as I heard the flight attendant talk to one of the passengers aboard the plane (I was just a few feet away to hear their conversation.) The passenger happens to be another flight attendant who is on his way to Europe for a vacation. What’s very interesting is that their conversation evolved from the trip itinerary to the strategic approach that the airline can undertake to improve customer service and satisfaction. In a previous blog post, I’ve highlighted how merchandise staff who didn’t even go to college talked about strategic positioning of products for increased sales. This is the kind of information that leaders value. But why isn’t this kind of information making it’s way into the boardrooms? Let me tell you why. It’s because upper management have not taken that extra step of engaging their staff in conversations. Do you remember one of those conversations you’ve had with your close friends where you kept talking yet they weren’t paying any attention? I bet you stopped talking when you noticed (or maybe tried to do something to get their attention back.)

Leadership expert Dr.  John Maxwell said this in his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Engaging people in conversations means more than just extracting information from individuals. It means paying attention to what matters to them. Even the small details matter. Sometimes, even as simple as listening could mean a lot. When we know that what we say matter to the listener, we’re more inclined to be open and speak more.

Leaders and managers have resorted to memos and emails to communicate their message to the organization. Unfortunately, this approach has created barriers in communication. As leaders, it is our responsibility to take that first step. Get out of your office, walk among the crowd and engage your staff in a conversation. Who knows, your next big product or service idea might come from the janitor.

Create An Environment For Learning

December 31, 2012 1 comment

Salamat sa regalo

Every time we have an opportunity to go back to our home country, the Philippines, I try to give back as much as I can.  We also try to schedule our travel around the Christmas and New Year season because it’s like a pilgrimage for every Filipino living overseas. It’s the season of getting together as a family and, most important of all, GIVING. Our alumni association based in Singapore – the University of the Philippines Alumni Association (Singapore) – has an annual community program called Pamaskong Pambata. Thru the program, the group partners with a local non-profit organizations that focus on the welfare of children and it becomes the beneficiary for the year. I take this opportunity to teach my kids about the value of community work while at the same time opening their eyes to the living conditions of our less fortunate countrymen. In 2007, my youngest son and I joined the community program as they partnered with an orphanage. As a 3-year-old, my son had the opportunity to distribute food and gifts to kids much older than him. One thing he remembered vividly was putting on a Santa hat as he started giving gifts. He still remembers how each recipient had immediately put on a smile as they received the gift he was giving.

This time around, I took my eldest son with me on this trip. I was informed that the location for this year’s community work was in Payatas in Quezon City. Payatas happens to be the main area for garbage disposal in Manila. Most of the people here make their living by collecting and selling recyclable garbage from the dump. The girl in the picture below is sorting out recyclable plastic in a place that she considers both her home and workplace.

Payatas Dump - Plastic Recycler

Payatas Dump-Plastic Recycler by suvajack

It’s easy to teach kids (and adults) lessons on gratitude and the importance of properly managing one’s resources. We can talk about it in the dinner table or even in the board room when we want to emphasize operational efficiency in the company. Internal memos, emails and parental nagging may end up being ignored and not get the results we want. But to really drive the message across, we need to create an environment for learning. And not just learning thru theory and concepts but something that they will always remember. Here are few ideas that you can use to achieve the results you want:

  1. Put it in their calendar. As early as November, I’ve already made arrangements to join the community outreach program. There were slight changes in the date but I made sure I update my calendar. I told my son about the schedule so that he can make the necessary preparations. Creating an environment for learning requires telling the people involved that it has to be on their schedule as well. 
  2. Engage their emotions. Theoretical and conceptual learning only lasts for a while. Emotional learning creates an impact. I bet you remembered a very important lesson that your parents or friends told you because of the experience associated with it. As we were heading to the meeting place, I kept showing my son the difference between our house and the ones he’s seeing along the way. He did see several kids playing near the dumps, most of them don’t even have anything to protect their feet. It’s priceless to see the look on someone else’s eyes (both kids and adults alike) as they see other people searching thru the garbage to find food that they immediately take in. That experience immediately teaches them the deeper meaning of gratitude.
  3. Tap in to their passion. My kids have different personalities. While my youngest son would enjoy engaging with people, my eldest is a bit timid. I thought about how he can make the most out of this trip. Then, I realized that he likes taking photos and videos. I told him to charge up his iPod and be ready to snap photos. I also let him take charge of my DSLR camera. Since I already taught him the basics of digital photography (I’m still learning myself), I was confident that he’d do a great job. And he did. As I was distributing food to the kids, he was taking as much photos as he can. It was easier for me to engage him in the moment because he was having fun with what he was doing.
  4. Re-tell the experience. The day with my son ended up with a trip to my alma mater. As we were enjoying a great snack, I asked him about the experience. I also told him some of those “remember when…” stories: “Remember when we couldn’t even buy you an ice cream cone?” We’ve told him this story several times but this time was different. Because now he has seen kids that are younger than him who can’t even afford to go to school, who need to scour the dumps in order to have something to eat and who think having an ice cream cone is a luxury. The lessons and stories we used to tell him now made  more sense because of his personal experience.

Whether you’re teaching a lesson to a kid or an adult, it is important to make sure that the lessons do stick. Because it’s not just about teaching them lessons, it’s about creating memorable experiences.

Question: What is that one lesson that stuck with you? Did it come with a memorable experience? You can share your story by clicking here

The Pen and Paper in the Digital Age of Social Media

November 18, 2012 2 comments

I wanted to start this blog post with a reference to a TED Talk by Hannah Brencher about love letters to strangers.


In an earlier blog post, I talked about my experience with working on a large SharePoint 2010 upgrade and migration project for a Fortune 500 company. I’ve told people stories about why the project became very successful despite the different challenges and difficulties that we encountered along the way. The secret lies in the great and wonderful people I’ve worked with – from the project manager, the engineers and even the application testers. The project has given me he opportunity to establish meaningful relationships with those involved.

Several weeks after the project went live, I was having a conversation with the project manager about the way we manage our relationships and dialogues we have with the people that matter to us. She mentioned the fact that even after celebrating her birthday just a few days ago, most of the greetings that she received were all in digital format – text messages, emails, Facebook messages, etc. The conversation concluded with the fact that greeting cards have now joined the ranks of dinosaurs and the Dodo bird on being extinct. I have to admit that while I like sending hand-written notes and letters to people, I save the reader the agony of reading my hand writing. I still remember the gruelling writing exercises that I had to go thru in grade school just to improve my hand writing – write, scribble, erase, write, and so the cycle goes. And while most people say that practice makes perfect, I just couldn’t get my hand writing right. I can’t even read my own hand writing sometimes that I always resort to typing my notes after meetings so I could legibly read and recall the ideas I wrote.

A few weeks ago, I sent the project manager and one of the application testers books that I think would be valuable to them.  Dr. John Maxwell’s book  – Everyone Communicates Few Connect  – was the latest book that I have read from the author and decided to send a copy to the project manager. For the application tester,  sent a copy of the SharePoint 2010 branding book because I believe that the book would be very helpful in her day-to-day job. Included with the book was a hand-written note thanking them for their contribution to the success of the project and described how the book would help them improve their productivity at work. I think I’ve scribbled on a few sheets of paper before finally tucking one inside the envelope and headed over the post office. I was more concerned about the recipients having a hard time reading my handwriting than the impact that it would have in their lives.

In today’s digital age where social media has taken over our modes communication, it’s so easy to take for granted the value of  inter-personal relationship. It still amazes me how people in the workplace would send an email response to a colleague that’s a few cubicles away rather than take a few steps and have a face-to-face conversation. Oh, those lovely email threads spanning multiple responses when it could have been made even clear with a phone call. Social media and the digital age only thrives because they leverage on the most important ingredient in the marketplace : PEOPLE. We humans desire to feel special and important. We love receiving feedback for the work that we do and long to be connected with the people that matter to us. That’s why people flock to Facebook and Twitter. We want to join conversations, share our uniqueness and simply feel validated. And that’s why I feel that the pen-and-paper approach of connecting with people will never go out of style.

After coming back from the PASS Community Summit in Seattle, I received a hand-written card from the project manager thanking me for the wonderful gift. She was also a big fan of Dr. John Maxwell and his books. But what really struck me was how she related the story of the application tester who received the other book. The gift came at a time when she felt really discouraged and was starting to believe that her work in the company didn’t matter. The book and the hand-written note from me made in impact in her life: it validated her value. It didn’t just make her day, it literally ignited her to become excited again with the work that she does. Most importantly, I’ve gained another level of appreciation for the hand-written letters that I send out, knowing that they do have an impact on the lives of the recipients. I’ll still make sure that they’re legible before I send them out.

Question: Have you been encouraged recently by a hand-written note? When was the last time you sent out one? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

How Does Your Personal Growth Plan Look Like?

October 7, 2012 2 comments

This is a response to Michael Hyatt’s (blog | Twitter) and John Maxwell’s (blog | Twitter) blog post on reaching our fullest potential.

In 2003, I have had the privilege of attending Dr. John C. Maxwell’s conference in Manila, Philippines because I was part of the event hosts’ production staff (being a volunteer sound engineer for an event has its benefits.) While listening to him teach, I realized that I have been practicing the lessons that he was teaching, albeit in an unstructured way. Since then, I’ve read his books, listened to his teachings on audio and continuously learned from him. And I’m a big fan of continuous professional and personal development.

Throughout the years I have developed a personal growth plan that focused more on the mental and spiritual aspects of life. Having been raised in a Christian family, the focus was more on developing and growing the spiritual aspect. And since I love reading books, the natural inclination for me was to grow the mental aspect as well. But in order to reach our full potential, it is important to have a well-rounded, balanced personal growth plan that addresses the four major aspects of life, something that I took from Dr. Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Throughout the years, my personal growth plan has evolved to cover all four:

    1. Physical. I’m not a physically active person and am not into sports. When I was a kid, I suffered from a lung infection that prevented me from getting into sports. As I grew up, I became workaholic and very self-driven. This accounts for countless sleepless nights and skipping meals. This went on until I realized that the only one responsible for my physical well-being is myself. A few years ago, I started adding the physical aspect in my personal growth plan which included the following:
      • Exercise. I didn’t go into a gym and enrolled in a physical fitness program. Instead, I became intentional about what I do everyday. I took the public transport to and from work so that I get forced to walk several blocks away from our house to get to the bus stop. If the weather permits, I take bike rides and long walks while listening to audio books. I help my wife clean the house and do manual labor to get my body moving. And as somebody who works with computers everyday, I make it a point to avoid prolonged sitting.
      • Rest. Didn’t I say I’m a workaholic? What I did was to start implementing timeouts. I forced myself to quit working during  weekends and specific times of the day. I sleep an average of 7 hours a day and intentionally disconnecting on a regular basis – no phones, computers, tablets, Internet, and anything that has to do with my work. I practice the Sabbath by avoiding activities that are directly related to work.
      • Balanced meals. I stopped skipping meals and eating in front of the computer during lunch breaks. I’m blessed with a wonderful wife that’s awesome at cooking at baking and so I avoid fast food as much as I can. My special meal requests include vegetables and fruits that kids won’t even think of eating (bitter melon happens to be my favourite). Recently, I’ve reduced my consumption of white rice, something that I’ve struggled with throughout the years because it is what I’ve considered my staple food.

      Adding the physical aspect in my personal growth plan has helped me become more aware of my physical well-being. I constantly remind myself that the small investments that I make in myself is more than enough to avoid the medical bills in the future.

    2. Social/Emotional. I’m an introvert and have struggled with interacting with people as I was growing up. I think that’s one of the main reasons that I love reading books and playing the piano – both activities don’t require human interaction. As I took stock of my gifts and talents and, realizing that I was a teacher, I made a conscious choice to develop the social aspect in my life. I also realized that my productivity and performance is directly affected by the health of my social and emotional life. Here are key areas that I work on to develop these areas.
      • Family and Friends. I make it a point to express myself to my family daily – affirming my love for my wife and kids, teaching and modelling valuable lessons, and enjoying quality time together. I reach out to old and current friends and acquaintances by sending personal emails and giving them a call. I even use social media to connect with family and friends and engage in meaningful dialogues.
      • Communication. I constantly try to improve my communication skills because I believe that part of leadership development is the ability to communicate effectively. Whether you’re sharing your ideas, leading a team or engaging a family member, effective communication is key to making an impact.
      • Community. My active involvement in the Microsoft technical communities has given me an opportunity to give. I try to find ways to help others in ways that I can – whether by teaching somebody how to learn a new skill or volunteering to clean up a new apartment where my friends would be moving in. We’re wired to be a part of a community so it makes sense for us to make it a better place.
    3. Mental. As I said, this comes naturally for me. In fact, I would trade a new gadget with a book anytime. I remember saving my meal allowance in high school to buy my very first Chicken Soup for the Soul book. My office is filled with books that I read on a regular basis and use as a reference for my presentations. I’ve broken down the list of categories that I constantly read about in different formats – books, blog posts, articles, videos, Twitter and Facebook posts.
      • Spiritual. Bible, inspirational, self-help and personal development.
      • Leadership and business. Timeless principles and new trends that shape today’s leadership landscape (that’s why I’m a big fan of Michael Hyatt and John Maxwell.) These days, I’ve been reading a lot about marketing and how the Bible can be the greatest marketing handbook of all time.
      • Computers. It’s my bread-and-butter so I need to constantly keep up with the technologies and how to solve business challenges using technologies.
    4. Spiritual. We are spiritual beings and we need to take care of our spiritual life the same way we take care of our bodies. I’ve seen great leaders whose achievements have been influenced by their spiritual beliefs. In fact, a Wall Street Journal article has been published about financial advisors talking to clients about their religious beliefs. Taking care of my spiritual life has been a priority for me, having been raised in a Christian family. Here are some of the things that I have in my personal growth plan.
      • Bible reading. The greatest book that was ever written and has a solution for every challenge that we face in life. It’s not just for hearing a great story about a child defeating a giant but also for creating a strategic marketing and sales plan for your organization. I have the YouVerse application on my iPad and iPhone and downloaded reading plans that I go thru every morning.
      • Prayer. It’s my way of being connected with God. Sometimes it’s formal, often times it isn’t. A quick way of saying thank you or asking for guidance throughout the day is my personal preference because it keeps me aware of the fact that He is always with me.

A personal growth plan has helped me get to where I am right now and has kept me on track when I felt like going astray. Mine has evolved thru the years as my values have been clearly defined.

How does your personal growth plan look like? You can leave a comment by clicking here.