How to Make a Leader Better, Stronger and More Inspiring

argentina_flag_by_chokorettomilkku-d7idrpsIf you want a leader to change; to become more authentic, compassionate and kind, send them on a mission trip. If you want a leader to become better, stronger and more inspiring, send them to a place where the culture is rich in respect for humanity and the Earth. 

One of the greatest life-changing experiences I’ve had to date was when I went on a two-week mission trip to Argentina, from Buenos Aires to Patagonia to Iguazu Falls. Argentina is not a wealthy country. It was at one time, but the country has suffered great economic hardship, and many people are still living in poverty. And yet, as a visitor, you would never know that was the case. Every person with whom I came in contact had a sense of life inside him or her that I had never seen before. I could look into people’s eyes and instantly see and feel how much gratitude, appreciation, and love they had inside them. The people I talked with listened, asked questions, and cared enough to keep the conversation going, even though we didn’t even understand the words that were coming out of our mouths. In fact, many conversations ended up with both of us just laughing, because we had no clue what was going on.

When the trip ended, we cried. In two weeks amazing friendships had formed and no one wanted to leave each other. But we said our goodbyes, and in that moment I realized I was actually saying goodbye to who I was and hello to someone new. You see, here’s what happened on that trip: When I looked into the eyes of these people who had nothing, I saw people who had everything. I saw life. And I realized that they were no different from anyone else I knew; I was the person who was different. For two weeks I was immersed in a life without materialistic items, status, or money—those distractions were gone. I lived simply, because I didn’t have a choice to live otherwise. And with everything stripped away I actually noticed life, and I noticed it inside another human being. I stopped long enough to see, feel, and experience what it meant to actually connect with another human being—and change happened.

I came back to the States a different person; a better person. I started to look at life differently. The experience was an igniter, and it put me on a path where I started to align my life with my values and my purpose, and it helped me begin to understand what it meant when someone said “authentic relationship.” And I realized, once I was home, that if I stop long enough to look into someone’s eyes, life always looks back into mine.

Mission trips are important, but not for the reason everyone thinks they’re important. Sure, you physically help other people who need your help, and you have a significant impact on the world in amazing, tangible ways, but the real point of a mission trip, and the real change, is that you come back a different person—a person who begins to understand life. It’s that understanding that has the power to open eyes, and it’s that understanding that has the power to improve the well-being of humanity and change our world.

So before you jump into your next leadership course, or send one of your leaders off to another leadership course, consider this… Real change—in people, communities, and the world—only occurs through experience. If you truly want a leader to change; to become better, more authentic, compassionate, and kind, you need to immerse them in a culture where authenticity, compassion and kindness thrive. So rather than attending another leadership course consider going out into the world to literally be the change.

Gina Soleil, is a speaker and acclaimed author of Fuel Your Business: How to energize people, ignite action and drive profit. She blogs and speaks about how to create a business where people are energized, feel good and are happy. Visit Gina Soleil and follow her on Twitter.

What the Lion and Mouse Have in Common

lionmouse (1)

Who do you identify with? Are you the lion, or are you the mouse? From the outside, how do others see you?

Most people can identify with both the lion and the mouse. It depends on the day, hour, year or even decade. Sometimes you’re the king of the jungle and can conquer the world. Other times you wonder if anyone even knows you’re still breathing–feeling small and under appreciated.

The lion appears untouchable and invincible. Lions are perceived has having courage and bravery. They are regal by nature, and reach the top with grace and ease. In business, these are the leaders (regardless of title) that we want to follow. These are the people who make us feel safe and protected. They inspire us to be better. We trust and respect them for their unwavering strength; and we are in awe with their ability to dodge the common day hardships and suffering. For some, to become a lion is a long awaited for honor.

Now here’s the reality. Lions cry. And they fight battles most people know nothing about. Not because their battles are unique, but because most lions feel alone and void of another who will listen compassionately to their story when it’s needed most. Lions are lonely, and most suffer in silence. In fact, most lions envy the nest of mice beneath their feet. For the mice have community, support and a place to share their suffering safely.

The truth is, lions get tired. When the going gets tough they persevere and appear resilient. When the pressure grows they unintentionally distance themselves further away from the mice as a form of coping. And because of the distance, the mice tell each other stories of why the lion should be feared. When all along the lion only wants a friend that can show them they care.

You see, the lion and the mouse have a great deal in common. At times they both wonder if anyone knows they’re still breathing. Being part of a community is equally important to the lion as it is to the mouse–having others who show them compassion, support and encouragement. Like the mouse, it saddens the lion to be alone. The difference is that the lion doesn’t always know how to tell the mouse that it wants to be part of the home. In fact, in many ways the mouse is actually stronger than the lion.

The moral to the story is this…. If in this moment you have a lion in your work life or personal life, show kindness. They most likely need you to reach out, but they have no idea how to ask. In fact, their roar may actually be a cry for help. Have compassion rather than rage. Use the power of community to strengthen and build a positive culture rather than breeding a river full of toxic gossip. And if the lion in your life is on top of his or her world, still reach out–a celebration is nothing unless you’re among friends who want to be part of your journey.

Gina Soleil, is a speaker and acclaimed author of Fuel Your Business: How to energize people, ignite action and drive profit. She blogs and speaks about how to create a business where people are energized, feel good and are happy. Visit Gina Soleil and follow her on Twitter.

7 Must Read Life Lessons from Benjamin Franklin


This post is from Business Insider. Published in 2011. My personal favorites are #4 and #7. Enjoy. Gina Soleil

Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America (USA). A famous polymath, Franklin was a leading author and printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat.

As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. He invented the lightning rod, bifocals, the Franklin stove, a carriage odometer, and the glass ‘armonica’. He formed both the first public lending library in America and the first fire department in Pennsylvania.

His colorful life and legacy of scientific and political achievement, and status as one of America’s most influential Founding Fathers, have seen Franklin honored on coinage and money; warships; the names of many towns, counties, educational institutions, namesakes, and companies; and more than two centuries after his death, countless cultural references.

7 Must-Read Life Lessons from Benjamin Franklin

  1. Waste Not
    “Do not squander time for that is the stuff life is made of.”
    Your time is your life. If you waste your time, you are wasting your life. I’ve never met a successful person who didn’t value their time, and I’ve never met an unsuccessful person who did.Don’t let other people waste your time either, why is it when someone wants to “kill an hour,” they want to kill your hour as well? Protect your time, it can never be replaced, it can never be replenished, your time is your life.
  2. Learn
    “Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.”
    Benjamin Franklin said, “He that won’t be counseled can’t be helped.” Always be open to learning. You can learn from anyone, and from any situation. You can learn from the fool as well as the genius. Bruce Lee said, “A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.”
  3. Make Mistakes
    “Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out.”
    Success comes from doing things “right,” and doing things right is usually the result of first doing things wrong. You are certain to make mistakes; the path to success is lined with mistakes and failures, just keep moving. Successful people make a lot of mistakes, but they don’t quit, they keep moving until they arrive to their goal.
  4. Energy and Persistence
    “Energy and persistence conquer all things.”
    To have energy and persistence you must have passion, there must be an inner vision that drives you to achieve your goal.If you don’t have a clear picture of where you’re going, then you don’t have the energy or persistence to make any noteworthy progress. You must be driven by a picture that is bigger than your current reality.
  5. Prepare
    “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
    It’s better to not have an opportunity and be prepared, than to have an opportunity and not be prepared. Success loves preparation, are you prepared?If the perfect opportunity presented itself, would you be ready for it? Spend your days preparing for success, so when your opportunity comes, you will be ready.
  6. Be Diligent
    “Diligence is the mother of good luck.” Solomon wrote, the diligent shall be made rich. If you want to be lucky, be diligent, the more diligent you are, the luckier you will be. Everyone has the ability to increase their luck seven fold by becoming more diligent. Create the habit of being diligent in all you do, and you will be surprised at how lucky you become.
  7. Make an Impression
    “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
    Benjamin Franklin said, “Many people die at twenty five and aren’t buried until they are seventy five.” I hope you’re not dead, I hope you haven’t achieved all that you’re going to achieve; I hope your best days are in front of you. I think they are.

Thank you for reading and be sure to pass this article along.

Written on 5/27/2011 by Mr. Self Development who is a motivational author that offers a practical guide to success and wealth; support him by visiting his blog at or by subscribing to his feed.

Melt Away Your Worry and Anxiety


On this Friday evening I’m being reminded about the importance of taking care of our self. The often neglected part of our week. Even when the weekend hits we all seem to be off and running in different directions trying to attend functions, see family and friends or get the unfinished yard work complete. Exhausted, we find refuge in front of our favorite TV program or just any program that helps numb our mind from the crazy activity that seems to be nonstop. And let’s not forget the bottle of beer, glass of wine or cocktail that washes away our stress–at least for a brief moment.

Tonight I’m reminded to stop. Be silent. Leave the noise behind so I can give my self an opportunity to heal. I’m reminded that we all have permission to let our self just be. Even if just for 5 minutes, the short refuge has the power to melt away our anxieties and the worry that snuck inside our psyche over the past week, month or even year. I’m reminded that we all deserve the gift of stillness so we can revive our self and feel good again. Just the thought of it allows us to breathe.

This weekend take a moment to stop. Even for 5 minutes. Just stop, breathe, and give your self the gift of being still. Watch the sunset, the sunrise, the grass or the trees. Find a shape in the clouds, or simply close your eyes and just breathe. In that moment be grateful for your beautiful life, and choose to release what you cannot control so you can walk forward Monday feeling free.

Gina Soleil, is a speaker and acclaimed author of Fuel Your Business: How to energize people, ignite action and drive profit. She blogs and speaks about how to create a business where people are energized, feel good and are happy. Visit Gina Soleil and follow her on Twitter.

Unlearn How to Be an Adult


This little thing happens when we grow up; we forget how to play. We forget what it felt like to wake up in the morning ready to discover a brand new world. To be curious. To be light. To laugh uncontrollably at nothing. And for nothing but the wind to sweep us into some sort of adventure filled with trees, dirt and friends. Friends, that were either visible to the human eye or just part of a brief moment that we created with our imagination. At some point, we grew up and we stopped asking our friends to play.

We grew up, got “educated”, put on a suit, and headed into the “real world”. In the process we left our friends behind. And those endless days of adventure became nothing more than nostalgic memories. Getting dirty was replaced with being refined. Being politically correct and rising to the top became more important than truth, kindness and imagination. And rather than showing love to someone who at one time would have been invited into our adventure as our best friend, we learned how to show snobbery and pass judgement to those who appear “lesser” than the “in crowd”. Or worse, we limit rights and take away freedom gifted at birth from those who appear “lesser” based on our beliefs and how we choose to see the world.

It’s time to unlearn what it means to be an adult. Hell, let’s throw the word adult right out of the dictionary. Let’s bring imagination back. Let’s love everyone for who and what they are inside and out. Let’s lead with kindness and truth. And tomorrow morning, let’s wake up and play. Let’s wake up and allow nothing but the wind to sweep us into some sort of adventure filled with trees, dirt and friends–even if those friends are just part of a brief moment that we create with our imagination.

Gina Soleil, is a speaker and acclaimed author of Fuel Your Business: How to energize people, ignite action and drive profit. She blogs and speaks about how to create a business where people are energized, feel good and are happy. Visit Gina Soleil and follow her on Twitter.

It’s Time to Break the Rules


The happiest people break through the idea of “normal” and write their own rules. What rules are stopping you from getting what you want? It’s time to break the rules and live your life.

Most people have become master complainers. I can’t do this because of this… I can’t do that because of that… All statements that are driven by some type of rule that’s been opposed upon you. A rule that you’ve accepted as “normal”.

The rules that do the most harm are those that fall into the bucket of, “That’s just how it is.” I’m not talking about the rules of morality or traffic laws. I’m talking about the silent cultural rules that play havoc on your life. The rules that silently infiltrate your thoughts and imprison you to a way of life that your soul desperately wants to break free from. The rules you unhappily follow out of fear. The fear of…what will people think? Who will I be to the rest of the world if I…? How will I fit in if I jump? Most people’s greatest fear is the judgement of others. The fear that their character, credibility and sanity will be questioned and challenged.

It’s time to break free. To be free. To fly through this life on your own terms and in your own way. Today, break a rule! I don’t care what rule, just break it. Step right outside “normal” and do something that makes you feel free.

Here’s the reality. When you actually live life on your own terms. When you choose to honor yourself. That big giant fear of judgement completely disappears. Poof! It’s gone. It’s gone because when you break the rules and follow your heart people respect you for it. In fact, they become inspired by you.

It’s time to break the rules and live your life.

Gina Soleil, is a speaker and acclaimed author of Fuel Your Business: How to energize people, ignite action and drive profit. She blogs and speaks about how to create a business where people are energized, feel good and are happy. Visit Gina Soleil and follow her on Twitter.

Surprise! You Can Now Buy Employee Engagement at Target

24266506_BG1You just need a mirror and an open mind.

Whenever I’m facilitating an engagement or culture strategy the business leaders usually want to spend a great deal of time telling me all the reasons why they’re frustrated with the lack of results they’ve experienced thus far. Most clients have done their due diligence and spent countless amount of hours assessing the problem and coming up with possible solutions. I always enjoy listening, and I always wait until they’re completely done telling me the whole story before I respond. I wait, because the story always ends with the same statement and question: “Here’s where you come in. What do we do next?”

My response is always the same. Sometimes it’s more colorful and elaborate, but regardless of the leadership team my response is always, “I know exactly why your business isn’t getting the results you want in the timeframe you want. And I have the solution. It’s guaranteed to work. It’s low cost. And you’ll get the immediate results you’re looking for—again, guaranteed.” At this point I have their attention. Some people laugh. Most people grab their pens and get ready to take notes. I tell them what they need to do:

“Tonight, on your way home from the office, each of you needs to stop at the store and buy one thing: a mirror.” At that point the room always becomes silent. I usually wait at least 30 seconds, and let everyone sit in silence before I start talking again. Then I keep going. “You see, you are a direct reflection of your business and all of the people within it, and the business and all if the people within it are a direct reflection of you. If your business isn’t “working,” or your people aren’t responding, you’re the problem—bottom line. Now you have a choice. You can either own the reality that you’re the problem, or you can avoid it. It’s your choice, but I will tell you that owning it costs a hell of a lot less, and it’s a hell of a lot more successful than avoidance.”

I always end with one question, and I don’t talk again until everyone in the room answers it: “Which is it, ownership or avoidance?” Every once in a while I’ll have a leader actually stand up and walk out—a direct indication that he or she is suffering from dysfunctional leadership disease, and he or she is at the core of why engagement is suffering, and why unhealthy energy is running rampant. Most often, the room answers the question with another question: “What does ‘owning it’ mean, exactly?” That’s when I know it’s game time and the culture has a chance at becoming healthy.

There is one other scenario that sometimes plays out: denial. Some businesses have what I call a numb heart. The heart of the business is toxic, and the business is circulating enough unhealthy energy to take down a city, yet the leaders of the business, collectively, are convinced there is nothing wrong. They’re still asking for help with engagement, and they still want a healthy internal brand, but they refuse to admit, or face the fact, that they as the leadership team will never get the results they want until they figure out how to get functional, and walk in the way of trust, compassion, and freedom. If this is your business, I recommend you have your leaders take the leadership health quiz. After I have leaders take the quiz, most leaders begin to acknowledge the fact that an issue exists, and from there we can begin to have a more serious discussion.

Bottom line: you’ll never be able to move forward and build a healthy business culture unless you have a leadership team (at all levels) willing to “own it.” You see, the heart of a business is just like the heart of a human: it only becomes strong when surrounded by people who are willing to live in a way of high-character and show acts of love to those around them. When business leaders are finally willing to face their fear and “own it,” engagement increases, the culture turns healthy, and the business becomes a place where everything good is possible.

Gina Soleil, is a speaker and acclaimed author of Fuel Your Business: How to energize people, ignite action and drive profit. She blogs and speaks about how to create a business where people are energized, feel good and are happy. Visit Gina Soleil and follow her on Twitter.

A Parable to Live By


A Man, a Walk, and a Bucket

A man went for a walk in the early morning to gather water. Step-by-step his bare feet took him on a journey through the dewy grass and rich dirt that smelled of earthworms and life. He walked forward.

Only thinking of the water, he traveled across a bridge above a gravel road. He walked across a field covered in wild flowers and cocktails. He received a greeting from a turkey, a blue bird, and a pheasant. He walked forward.

The sunrise filled the sky with hues of yellow, orange and red. The air was still. He walked forward.

An hour later he approached the stream. While filling his large wooden bucket full of water the handle broke beyond repair. In that moment, a young man was approaching the stream. He looked at the man with the broken bucket handle. Smiled. Filled his bucket full. And silently gave his bucket filled with water to the man in exchange for the bucket without the handle. With a look of gratitude, the man asked, “How far is your walk?” The young man pointed toward the horizon, picked up the bucket without the handle, balanced it on his shoulder and responded, “Three days time.”

And with that, both men walked forward each a better man.

— Gina Soleil, American Author  

There are many lessons in the parable. Selflessness. Gratitude. Being present. Receiving. Awareness that someone else is always suffering a greater hardship than the one you’re experiencing. Patience. Compassion. The list goes on and on.

As you’re starting off your busy week take a moment to reflect on the message this parable has for you. And then walk forward a better man, woman, mother, father, sister, brother, friend, colleague or leader. In both word and action, today choose to walk forward in a better way.

Gina Soleil, is a speaker and acclaimed author of Fuel Your Business: How to energize people, ignite action and drive profit. She blogs and speaks about how to create a business where people are energized, feel good and are happy. Visit Gina Soleil and follow her on Twitter.

The Best Health Advice You’ll Ever Receive

01wellness-it-is-not-just-about-health--article-4730I was in a workshop one evening when I shared with the facilitator that I felt so damn tired. Falling-asleep-in-the-middle-of-the-workshop kind of tired. She said to me, “Did you give yourself fresh food and water today? Did you take yourself out for a walk?” I just looked at her and said, “I’m not a pet. I’m a person.” We both started laughing, and she said, “I’m serious. What would happen if you just left your pet cooped up without any fresh food or water, and then you decided that you didn’t want to take it for a walk.” I just looked at her again and said, “You’re right. That would be horrible. And no, I haven’t done any of those things.” Then I started laughing again, and said, “Oh my God, I’m my own pet. I have to give myself fresh food and water, and take myself out for walks. That’s the problem, I’m doing none of that.” She was a genius. So I started treating myself like my own pet, and it worked. Amazing. Fresh food, water, and daily walks are magic.

The advice is not rock science, but we have made health and wellness so complicated that most of the time we forget that to stay healthy and awake all we need is fresh food, water, and a walk. An easy way for a business to help people feel energized and happy is to make sure that fresh healthy food and water are available to everyone, and that everyone finds time to take a walk. Make it fun, and start asking people if they’ve taken their number-one pet out for a walk that day. I guarantee they’ll laugh, and laughter in and of itself fuels businesses with healthy energy.

Gina Soleil, is a speaker and acclaimed author of Fuel Your Business: How to energize people, ignite action and drive profit. She blogs and speaks about how to create a business where people are energized, feel good and are happy. Visit Gina Soleil and follow her on Twitter.

The Secret to Making Change Stick

Puppets-123_lS-1024x819It’s not about turning people into puppets. Change happens when you respect people for their individual brilliance and value their input along the journey.

One thing most people can agree on is that change is hard, uncomfortable and many businesses do it very wrong. A large percentage of change efforts fail even before the business tries to launch the new initiative; leaving people disengaged, disgruntled and looking for a better opportunity to sweep them off their feet and bring them to greener pastures.

Here’s how to make change stick and keep people energized, feeling good and happy through the process.

  1. Get crystal clear about behaviors.
    Define the exact change you’re looking for and map it to a specific behavior. Every change no matter how small is linked directly to a behavior. What specifically do you want people to say or do? Every element of communication should be around the behavior change and the benefit to the employee. If you make it just about the business no one will care and change will be a constant struggle.
  2. Shop it around.
    Most businesses skip this step because it’s scary. You would never launch a new product or service without first consulting your customers, so why would you launch a change effort inside the business without first consulting employees. This is critical. Let me be clear, I understand there are changes that must happen regardless of input. That said, people are brilliant (that’s why you hired them) and they can help you figure out how best to roll out the message and gain support from the masses. Yes, this even includes massive change like a company reorganization. If you choose to create a change plan behind closed doors you are literally asking for it to fail.
  3. Ditch the email.
    When it comes to change email is your worst enemy–at least when it comes to the initial communication. Have a one-to-one conversation with everyone in the business letting them know about the change that’s coming. Don’t stop there. Then ask them what they think, how they feel about the change, and what the business and/or leader can do to help make the change easier? During this conversation give people the opportunity to surface questions, comments and concerns. Use this conversation to address any potential “derailers” in a constructive way. Most importantly, this conversation is about listening to people and giving them an opportunity to vent on the front-end so they can support the change in the long run. If you have thousands of employees, this step will require you to leverage the leaders throughout the business to facilitate the conversations with their teams.
  4. Be transparent.
    When you have the initial one-to-one conversation with people be transparent. Don’t hide uncomfortable details and try to avoid certain topics–the truth always comes out. If you’re transparent on the front end you’ll lesson the resistance to the change. If you lie people will turn into angry birds and your business will turn into a breeding ground for toxic energy. Remember, if it’s not the whole story it’s a lie. When it comes to change don’t leave out details or try to spin the truth. If the business is transparent people may not like the change but they’ll respect the approach.
  5. Send an email and follow-up.
    Once you’ve clearly defined the change and behaviors you’re looking for, had transparent one-to-one conversations with everyone, and made adjustments to the change plan based on employee feedback, you can then send out a company wide email. Be careful… no surprises. This is not the time to make last minute changes. If you try to sneak in new or different information people will feel deceived and your change effort will fail. Once the email is sent follow-up (3, 4, or 5 times if need be) with everyone and check in with how their feeling. They may have additional suggestions. Great! Take note, and incorporate those suggestions during the next change roll out.

Bottom-line: if people feel respected, valued and taken care of by the business, it’s easy to make change stick because people want to support the things in life that make them feel good.

Gina Soleil, is a speaker and acclaimed author of Fuel Your Business: How to energize people, ignite action and drive profit. She blogs and speaks about how to create a business where people are energized, feel good and are happy. Visit Gina Soleil and follow her on Twitter.

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