He Got Rejected 1009 Times

KFC 1009

Several years ago I attended an “Unleash The Power Within” seminar by Tony Robbins.  It was great, and yes I did complete the firewalk.

During the seminar, Tony shared a story so remarkable that it permanently stuck. It was a story of perseverance and tenacity so incredible that I was shocked when I first heard it.

It was the story of Kentucky Fried Chicken’s founder, Harland Sanders. Better known as “The Colonel”. 

The story seemed so remarkable that it was almost unbelievable at first.  When I got home from the event I did additional research to see if I could substantiate, or otherwise refute, what I had heard.  The more I researched, the more I found confirming accounts.

The essence of the legend is this:

Colonel Sanders was rejected 1009 times IN A ROW before he made his first sale 

He was a simple retiree with a chicken batter recipe that he wanted to license.  That was it.  And the story goes that he received 1009 rejections, consecutively, before he got a yes.

No matter how unhealthy you think KFC is, no matter how silly you may think he looks with that bow tie, that story is impressive.  That story, if it is true, is amazing.

Even if it isn’t true, the principle still holds true: how far are you willing to go to see your dream through

I think about this concept all the time.  Whenever I get a setback, I think, that is only 1.  1008 to go.  I’ve never in my life had to battle that type of resistance…..yet.  Perhaps my goals haven’t been big enough.  Perhaps I need to set goals that will require 1010 Nos before I get a yes.  Something to think about.

How about you?  How resilient are you? Are you willing to get 100 rejections, 200, 1009? What is your number?  How far are you willing to go?

How I Met My Muse In Australia

Muse, Writing

This post is about an experience that I had with the creative process through writing.  It’s a story that happened to me this past summer while I was touring Australia with our business.

I’ve always loved writing.  The act of writing has also cemented a special place in my heart, as it was the salvation that I had six years ago when I was struggling with depression as a result of being in the wrong career.  Writing exists, in a way, as a powerful metaphor for me.  Each day as I would write I would dig myself out of an emotionally dark hole, one word at a time. Writing served not only as therapy, but also as a continual refinement of my belief system.  I can honestly say that I’ve found who I am through the act of writing.

I also love reading – particularly authors who I consider to be much more innately talented than myself.  I love how a good writer can cause me, through their descriptive method, to transport into another world within my own mind – thereby completely eliminating my consciousness of “self”.  Because I am fascinated (err, obsessed) with flow psychology I’m particularly drawn to good writers because of how easily I can induce flow in myself when I am reading their work.

Fast forward to today and writing is a daily habit that I cannot (nor do I want to) stop.  My first book, Unsuited: How We Can Reject Conventional Career Advice And Find Empowerment is a non-fiction book that challenges some of the “common” assumptions about how to approach our careers, and looks deeply, from an intrinsic point of view, into our motivations surrounding work.

I started my second book literally the day that Unsuited was submitted for editorial review to my publishers.  I had such a strong habit of writing that I wanted to keep the momentum.  That’s also why I know that I was born to write because writing isn’t a chore for me, it is enjoyable.  It seems at times that I can’t “not write”.

I was encouraged by a successful writing mentor to stretch my comfort zone.  So I chose a format, for my second book, that I have always been intrigued by – the fable.  I love allegorical fiction, I always have.  I love books that teach philosophy through the use of a story.   Now that my first draft is complete I am happy with the results.  Hopefully you will also enjoy it should you choose to read the book.

When I started this book I had an idea in my mind about a general theme that I wanted to teach. I also could see the main characters.  I created an suitable plot and proceeded to maintain my 500 word a day habit that I had fostered during the writing of Unsuited.  Then I went to work.

I worked on the book pretty much everyday in 2014.  New characters presented themselves.  The plot clarified and crystallized.  Progress felt steady.  By August (the time of our two and a half week trip to Australia) I was – I’d estimate at the time – 85% done the book.  A few odds and ends still needed to be finished, but generally speaking, I was ahead of schedule and excited about my progress.

Our first stop in Australia was in the tropical north Cairns region.  We were staying at a little tourist spot on the ocean called Yorkeys Knob.  It was a very peaceful location.  Several of the nights that we were there, as the sun would go down, I would sit on our balcony and write.  Inspiration seemed to flow easily here.

Then my muse decided that she needed to visit me. 

One night, after I had completed a productive writing session earlier in the evening, I awoke from a deep sleep.  I checked the clock, it was just after 3:00am.

Everyone was asleep.  Our condo was black other than the light from the stars and the moon glowing off the ocean.

Immediately, as soon as I opened my eyes to check the clock, my mind was flooded with ideas about my book -

  • This part of the plot is wrong.  It needs to go;
  • This character need to be introduced;
  • This character needs to die – this is when he needs to die;
  • You need to introduce this theme at this location;
  • You need to get rid all together of this character.  They add nothing to the theme or the flow;
  • You need to set this part of the book in this location;

I typed out, at 3:00am, while my wife was sound asleep, over three pages of word document notes.

Then the muse vanished, as quickly as she had appeared.  When I wrote my last impression, there was nothing more.  I shut my computer and easily fell asleep.

When I woke up I was absolutely convinced that I had a lucid dream.  So I reached for my laptop, which was sitting on the bedside table.  Sure enough there were three typed pages of notes.

I went from 85% done my book to less than 50% done when I looked at the changes that now needed to be made. I didn’t know what to think, but when I looked over the notes again I knew that the impressions that I had made the book substantially better.

This past week I finished incorporating all the notes into the draft, and I can say, unequivocally, that the book is much better having made these substantial changes.

Since that night I have asked myself, many times, what is the nature of the muse? Where did she come from?  How do I interpret this experience?

Truth is – I have no idea.  

Anyone who ventures down a creative path will be able to relate in some way to this experience.

Sometimes ideas just come, like meteors from outer space.  I can honestly say however that I had placed my butt in the chair for hundreds of days in a row before the muse whispered in my ear.  I don’t know if that is a pattern, or a coincidence.  I don’t know if the inspiration was always in my head, and I just needed time for it to work its way out, or if the muse truly is something greater than myself.

All I know is that being part of the creative process is really cool, and easily the most intrinsically rewarding aspect of my life.  I love it.  I will create for as long as I live.

Find a way to create.

Your life will never be the same.

You will never lack for fulfillment.

As you “create” something, so will you “create” fulfillment in your life.

A “Real Cost” Paradigm For Achieving What We Want


Up until two years ago I consistently read “success” and inspirational literature for close to a decade straight.  I’ve read hundreds (literally) of books on the subject and have consistently applied the various suggestions to my life to try to achieve certain results that I want.

I think that we are all the same in many ways.  We may not all seek out books or models to learn “how to achieve” but we all consistently operate in a way that suggests that we move towards what we what, and move away from what we don’t.

This is the essence of being “goal oriented” in my opinion.  Somebody may say that they “don’t have specific goals”; however, if you analyze closely their behaviour you’ll see that they still operate in a goal oriented manner.  Their time, and actions, are organized around obtaining what they want.  This is consistently programmed into everyone.

I’ve found that most “success literature” is full of inspiring stories but over time it can feel quite repetitive, perhaps even overly marketed, and sometimes we are made to feel that we “need” it when in actuality the answers are quite innate in us.  

I can say that in all the years of reading “success literature” I’ve only really come across a few lessons that have been really, really, important.

Now that I understand these lessons I can honestly say that I’ve moved away from “success literature” and now spend my reading time in either fiction, philosophy, religion, science, and historical or biographical non-fiction.  I haven’t bought a “self-help” book now for several years.

Here are the “lessons” that really matter in my opinion.  I call it my “real cost paradigm for achieving what I want” .  I’ve created it by taking what I learned from the various books I’ve read, applying them, gauging feedback, deciphering what was most important, and then simplifying the process into an easily duplicatable model.

It is quite simple, and involves three simple steps:

1.  We must know, with clarity, exactly what we want

Clarity allows us to control psychic entropy, focus, and trigger flow in our actions.  Clarity also allows us to find the most effective plans to achieve what we want, engage the most helpful resources and mentors, and avoid distraction. Clarity truly is power.

2. Clear goals require “objective outcomes” 

We have to be able to know when we have obtained what we are seeking.  We need to know when we actually achieve the goal.  For example – if our goal is “happiness” that is a goal that is wrought with difficultly because we never “arrive” at happiness.  Happiness is always a part of the process (and in my opinion happiness is the by-product of continually achieving emotional states of flow in the pursuit of our objective outcome).

3. Each goal has “real costs” associated with it.  I have to pay these costs to achieve my goal. 

The “real costs” are both fixed and variable for each goal.  They are fixed in that certain results require a certain “quota” of action that cannot be shortcut.   But the costs are also variable in that everyone has a different skill set, and access to resources.  As a result certain people may be able learn and progress faster in (and thus “pay the cost” in a quicker time).

Allow me to illustrate this principle by using specific goals in my life. Over the last two years (among my other business and personal pursuits) I have been writing books, and learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ).

For me – writing is easy, BJJ is hard.

Writing comes naturally.  I have an easy time sitting down each day. I hit flow naturally.  I am constantly full of ideas.

BJJ isn’t as natural. I’m not naturally flexible.  I struggle with some of the movements, and physical confrontation is a fear that hasn’t been easy to overcome (and I still struggle with it despite having attended dozens and dozens of classes at this point).

Now let’s analyze both of these activities from my “real cost paradigm”, using two specific goals.

BJJ: Get a blue belt (the first progression rank from white)

To get a blue belt I must learn and be able to apply in a real setting (BJJ enthusiasts will know this as rolling) certain techniques.  This is the real cost.

The variable component is that certain people will understand these techniques quickly, apply them easily, and not have to deal with the same fear in applying them (as BJJ is a full contact sport). They will be able to obtain the blue belt faster than someone who struggles with these. The person can who struggles can still “pay the full cost” and get the blue belt, but it will seem like the cost is much higher (hence the variable cost metaphor) because they aren’t naturally inclined to the sport.

Writing: Finish a book

To write a book you have to organize your thoughts in a coherent fashion that ends up (generally speaking) in 50,000-100,000 words around a central theme or thesis. This is the real cost.

The variable component is that some people will find it easy to write 1000 words a day.  Thoughts, organization and content will flow easily.  Other people will really struggle with this task.  The person who is inclined to write will get the book done much faster (and likely produce a much better book) than the person who struggles.  The person who isn’t naturally inclined to write can still get the book done but the cost will seem much higher (hence the variable metaphor).

Can you see how this model applies to all goals for all people? 

With me, in the last two years I’ve finished two books (one published, one in the editing phase), but I haven’t gotten my blue belt.  The variable costs for me in BJJ have been much higher than the variable costs in writing.

However, both goals are possible if I pay the appropriate real costs.  I have paid the costs in writing, but not yet in BJJ. 

All goals are theoretically possible by all people using this model.  If you pay the “real cost” for any goal, then you can achieve anything. However many people aren’t willing to pay the real cost, particularly because the “variable cost component”  for certain goals will make the cost seem much higher (since they aren’t naturally inclined for the behaviour). 

I can get a blue belt, but it will seem much harder than someone naturally inclined to BJJ.

I do write books however much easier than someone who isn’t inclined to writing.

The reason that I like this model is

1) it actually works (every time)

2) it causes me to be “honest” with myself.

This model forces accountability.  If I’m not achieving a goal it is because I haven’t (or I’m not willing) to pay the cost.  I cannot place the blame with anyone but myself.   If I pay the cost then there is nothing that I can’t achieve under this model.  This gives me hope and encouragement, while holding me accountable at the same time.

Don’t Wait To Get Picked, Pick Yourself Instead


pick yourself

Remember what it was like when we were kids and we had to choose teams?  There was usually two captains (often self appointed) and everyone else would line up, and one at a time, a poor kid’s self-confidence would either be validated or weakened.

I was always big for my age, and a decent athlete, so fortunately (at least I thought at the time) I was usually in the top half of the group.  But I can remember, distinctly, the look on the faces of the kids who were picked in the lower half  – particularly the kid who was picked last.  Often that kid would turn instantly into the comedian – which I believe now to be the only coping mechanism that they had at the time.

I can remember more than once however a look of sadness on the face of the boy or girl who was picked last.

The look of sadness knowing that they waited and waited, with anticipation, to be picked, but no one wanted to pick them until there was no one else to choose from. 

From an early age our socialization conditions us to gauge the quality of our experience by how our efforts, or abilities, are received, and judged by others.  This creates a habit of passivity – we take a passive approach to our experience, and our fulfillment.  Many of us come to believe (at least subconsciously) that our life is not entirely in our hands – how we feel is highly influenced by how others feel about us or our work.

We love playing baseball until we are picked last, then we aren’t sure we want to play anymore;

We loved doing that science project until our teacher gave us the C-, then we stopped loving science;

We learn to wait – wait for approval, and wait for enjoyment.

For a lot of people, this “waiting to get picked” stays with them into adulthood, perhaps even throughout their entire lives.

They wait for their company or their boss to notice how valuable they are and finally reward them for what they’re worth. 

They wait for that recruiter to find them and offer them the job of their lifetime.

They wait for that pay raise so that they can feel good about their contribution.

They wait for that vacation so that they can find peace and enjoyment.

They wait for the day that never seems to come.

We don’t have to wait anymore.  We don’t need to be picked.  We don’t need anyone’s permission to be fulfilled. 

The Internet has completely changed the game.  It has created opportunities for business, expression, publishing, learning, and relationships, beyond anything even imaginable fifty years ago. It has completely changed the way that we do business, the way that we communicate, and the way that learn.

It can also completely change the way that we view our lives. We don’t need people’s approval, validation, or acceptance to feel good about ourselves. We can feel alive and fulfilled on our own. 

I don’t think that it is a coincidence that the many biographies of unique, authenticand innovative people that I’ve read reveal something that all of these people seem have in common:

They didn’t fit in the “conventional” model. 

Isn’t that telling us something?? Perhaps that the “conventional” model of life, success, what we are supposed to be, do, learn experience, is wrong – or maybe broken?  Shouldn’t we instead model those innovative people and intentionally try not to fit in the conventional model?

Many of the most successful people were picked last.

Many of the most unique and authentic people didn’t have anyone’s approval – at least at first.

Many of the most creative innovators were social outcasts, couldn’t find success in school, and didn’t fit in the box that society had created for them.

If this is the case then why would we ever want to be picked? Why would we even care one bit whether or not we had anyone’s approval.

Now is the time that we can pick ourselves.

Want to create a business?  The Internet has made it easy start.

Have an opinion you want to share?  Throw up a blog, within minutes you could have a meaningful discussion.

Do you have art to create?  Create it and share it with the world.

You don’t need fancy degrees.  You don’t need an institution’s permission, or the approval of a boss.  You don’t need anyone’s permission for that matter.  You don’t need to wait to get picked.

You just pick yourself.


15 Practical Questions For Every Start-Up Business


This weekend I am participating as an entrepreneur Coach with the Startup Weekend EDU Calgary.

The great thing about this initiative is that it is designed to create business plans for young entrepreneurs that result in “implementation” not just idea incubation. This is critical for an entrepreneur to understand – especially someone who is embarking on their first start-up.

For each team that I’m working with I’ve been encouraging them to find an answer to the following questions.  This makes them look at their business as a real entity, from the beginning – not just a theoretical idea.  I want to get them in the mindset that this is real, and not just a weekend project (because if it’s not real when why do it?).

Here are questions that I believe every entrepreneur should be able to answer.  They are “practical” questions that I believe really separates a business plan that is merely “theoretical” from one that is “real” and can be implemented:

1. What problem does your business solve?

2. How do you know this is a problem?

3. How does your idea solve this problem?

4. Who else provides a similar solution?

5.  How is your solution different from theirs?

6. Why should I choose your solution over theirs?

7.  What does it cost to produce your solution?

8. Who is going to purchase your solution?

9. How will you find these customers?

10.  What will it cost to find these customers?

11.  How will this business make money?

12.  What will it cost for you to earn your first $1.

13.  What will it cost for you to run this business for a year?

14.  Where is this money going to come from?

15.  Who is responsible for getting sales?

What Are You Willing To Do To Achieve Your Dreams?

Lewis Howes, DJ Irie

This podcast (The School of Greatness Episode 94 by Lewis Howes) is well worth the hour and a half investment of time to listen.

DJ Irie (Official DJ for the Miami Heat and the FIFA World Cup) worked full time for free for seven months straight because he knew it would open the door to greater opportunities. What are we willing to do to achieve our dreams?


Why Long Term Planning Can Limit You In Your Life

Long term planning

What is your 1 year?  Your 5 year? Or your 10 year plan?  What do you want to be when you grow up?  How do you want to spend the next 20 years of your life? What’s on your bucket list?

These are all questions that we have asked ourselves (in one form or the other), and it seems like at least having an idea of the answer to these questions is universally sought.

A person who knows what they want out of their life has their head screwed on right?  They are going places, and they will accomplish things……right?

Yes, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the only way to live, and in fact you could make the case that specific long term planning is actually a very limiting way to live.

What??? How could that be?  That’s what we’ve been told by every mentor, and “guru” that we’ve ever come across. Set goals.  Have a specific objective. Clarity is power, and if we know what we want we are more likely to get it.

Well that might be the case.  But a question remains:

Will we actually enjoy it when we have it? And if we don’t enjoy it, then what was the point of making the long term plan in the first place?  Could there not be another (perhaps even better) way?

I am living proof of this concept.  In my early twenties I made a very specific long term plan involving higher education and success in the “corporate world”.  I achieved my goals only to find myself discouraged and depressed.  I realized that I valued certain things (like freedom, risk, and creativity) that I wasn’t getting to experience on a frequent basis.  I walked into the uncertain world of entrepreneurship and have been remarkably happier since.

When I left that “other world” I didn’t have a specific long term plan.  In fact I rejected the notion of one.   I just wanted to live each day what I valued.  I stopped thinking about 20 years from now and started to only focus on now.  I wanted to live entrepreneurial freedom, creativity and adventure.   I want to communicate and contribute value to others every day.  Now every day I get to do these things, and I am happy.

The last several years I have seen things come into my life that I probably couldn’t have even planned for – experiences, opportunities, business interests, speaking engagements that have been wonderfully fulfilling, but that probably wouldn’t have been in the “long term plan” had I made one 5 years ago.

By not having a long term plan I have allowed myself to experience incredible things that I wouldn’t have had the foresight to even include in the plan in the first place. 

Allow me to make the case why specific long term planning can be detrimental to our life

1. In almost all cases, we underestimate what we are capable of achieving

We make our “long term plans” from the perspective of what we believe we are capable of.  In almost all cases we underestimate ourselves.  As a result our “plans” become limiting self-fulfilling prophecies. By not having a long term plan we keep the door open for an incredible future that we wouldn’t have even otherwise imagined.

2. When we are so focused on a path, we don’t look up to see the incredible opportunities around us. 

Having very specific goals may actually keep us from noticing a variety of opportunities that will come into our path.  If we allow ourselves flexibility in our approach then we keep ourselves open.

3.  It becomes very stressful – the pursuit – and we often are so busy “fighting for success” that we don’t enjoy the process

When this happens it is a shame.  All of us know people like this (perhaps we are, or have been, like this ourselves) – so busy achieving that we never stop to “smell the roses”.  People like this are boring, and not very fun to be around.  Overly ambitious, status driven people (in my experience) are also very internally unsettled as well.

4.  Failure becomes catastrophic – and a reflection of self worth – under this model.

When life is a mystery, an adventure, a wonderful engagement of uncertainty, then the odd failure or setback is merely feedback, even education.  But when we are “do or die” on our pursuit of success then failure destroys the meaning of the journey.  All becomes lost if we can’t achieve.  This is sad.

We set specific goals because uncertainty – for many people – is not an option.  Their brains can’t handle the entropy.  Driving it into a tight little controlled plan allows for a sense of “mental control” and this feels good.  Also, it seems like the “responsible” and “prudent” way to live life – and we all want to be conscientious citizens don’t we?

So what is the alternative, and why should we consider it?

Great question – I’m glad you asked :)

1. Understand what you value.  

What makes you come alive?  What makes your heart sing? Do you love creating stuff?  Do you love helping people?  Do you want to solve complex puzzles?  Are you a communicator?  Do you want a life of adventure and risk, or safety and security?

2.  Each day do what you value

Make sure that your life (and your career) is aligned with what you value.  That way you get to actually “experience” the things that are meaningful to you and your whole life isn’t about waiting – you know waiting to achieve, waiting for the paycheque, waiting for the reward. You want to be living – not just waiting. If you are doing what you value you will hit flow daily.  You will enjoy the ride.

3.  Do the very best in everything you do

Good work gets recognized.  When you get recognized you open the door to future opportunities (maybe even opportunities that you wouldn’t have even believed you were capable of had you been making a “long term plan”)

4. Work as hard as you can every single day

Work yourself to exhaustion, every day, doing the things you value.  You will meet the right people.  You will open the right doors. You will put in the time to achieve mastery.  You will overcome your fears.  There is very little that your life can’t have if you are willing to hustle each day.

5. Put your ass where your heart wants to be

Show up in the places (literally) that you want to be.  Talk to the people in the industries that interest you.  If you dream of having a business then simply start one. If you want a book, then shut up and write every day.  Do the things that you dream of.  Go out and talk to the people you dream of talking to.

6. Embrace the mystery 

Life is fun this way. Who knows what will happen in your life. Don’t feel the need to control every aspect of it.  Let it go.  Embrace the mystery.  If you live this way (while working your ass off every single day) you’ll probably achieve far more than you even believed you were capable of when you were making your long term plan.


Author, Public Speaker and Entrepreneur. Helping People Find The Work That Makes Them Come Alive


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