THE HATERS CALLED IT AN INSULT, I LIVE IT AS A COMPLIMENT

No matter who you are, or what you are doing in life, you will have negative detractors. These days these people are known as ‘haters’. Especially with the advent of the internet it would seem people are more than happy to offer their negative feedback on you and your life. How do you combat such people? I have found the simplest way is to live the best version of yourself. When you do so you make them look as if they are the foolish ones. When someone says something about you and you are doing the best you can, that says something more negative about them than it does about you.

Let me share a personal story that better explains what I am talking about. A year or so ago, there was a party Margie and I were invited to. When we arrived we were told there would be snacks and people playing games. Margie and I love board games so we figured this would be right up our alley. We could not have been further from the truth. In this particular game, you could write your own answers. As the created answers rolled off the pens of those in attendance, I found myself a mixture of shocked and appalled. From this group of seemingly well-mannered individuals, came answers filled with racism and extreme prejudice. Not at all what I had expected. In a very short time, the answered went from mindless, bigoted stupidity, to advocating violence and other horrific acts against people for their race, religion or orientation. I had had enough. I informed Margie I was leaving.

When I got home, I felt so coated in negative energy I had to jump in the shower. Why did this bother me so much? Simple, racism and bigotry are stupid. They are an arcane belief that shows both a lack of culture and a great deal of ignorance in the individual speaking it. In a world where most of us are a mix of nearly everything, it makes absolutely no sense. With the internet and other advanced forms of communication, it takes only the smallest amount of effort to see how similar we are and how small the world truly is. As we are pone to thinking a great deal in the shower I thought of the dangerous implications this gathering could cause. Even in a group of such close-minded individuals there are always a few that are even more morally bankrupt and impressionable than the rest. Where most of them may have found this a sick sort of humor, there are people who think these acts may actually be permissible and proceed to act on them. This is how we end up with the violent acts we recently seen against the Asian-Americans in Atlanta and the attacks on the LGBTQ community in Orlando several years ago. These individuals were undoubtedly exposed to the same sort of racist and violent discussions.

Knowing I had to do something, I used the one platform I had to express my concern and feelings by writing on the issue. There is no doubt that several people in attendance that evening wrote what I had written. Fast forward 12 months and that group was having another party. I was not invited this time. (I was certainly happy with that) At the party one young lady expressed her joy at my absence telling a mutual acquaintance, “It is sure good Neil is not here. He is really offended by this.” While it was her attempt at painting me as a person who was overly sensitive to racist remarks as if that were a bad thing, I received it as a compliment. By speaking up for what I had felt was right, I now, apparently, had a reputation for someone who did not stand for discrimination of any kind. This woman was saying, in essence, “Neil is offended by our humor demeaning and advocating hatred and violence towards others who are different than us.” I stand guilty as charged. I believe everyone deserves respect and compassion. When I see that is not the case I speak up about it. If people think of that as a negative character trait of mine, they are welcome to it.

In this case, by living by the principles I have in my life, I have not only shown the haters for who they truly are, but turned their attacks into compliments in my opinion. They may mock my sensitivity to their racist and bigoted humor, but I will thank them for it. Live the best version of yourself my friends. It is better to be hated for who you truly are than to live a life that does not live up the standards you have set for yourself.

DOES MICHAEL JORDAN WRITE YOUTUBE COMMENTS?

Last post we talked about exposing yourself to as much intelligent content and great leaders as you can. This post comes from such a venture. Recently, I was watching to the Joe Rogan podcast where he was interviewing Kevin Hart. There was a great deal of surprising content on this show. I learned a good deal about both men, especially Kevin Hart.

At one point in the podcast, they were discussing the negativity so prevalent online. It is a reason why we do what we do on this website. It is safe to say this part of the conversation really resonated with me. The focus narrowed to people who feel the need to be contrary. You know the ones. You are having a discussion about a movie or band you like and out of nowhere they pop up and say, “I don’t like them, they suck.” When pressed for a reason, often they don’t even have one. This goes ten times when you post something online. You are sharing a nice romantic date you had with your spouse. A fancy dinner, a show and maybe some quality time together after. No sooner is it posted, the comments begin. “That restaurant is overrated.” “You saw what show? That was terrible and boring!” or even just an attack on your love itself. “Stop with all of the romance already!” or even comments like, “You make me sick with all of that love.”

The million dollar question is why do people feel so compelled to be negative? They could keep their opinions to themselves. They could simply just keep scrolling. Instead, they stop, take time and what to be a cloud to your sunshine. Apparently, they have so much free time that this is possible. Online there is no repercussion for a total lack of manners. You can hide behind a keyboard and say as many negative things as your heart desires. Sadly, I have seen this begin to show itself in person as well. You could be discussing your favorite recipe with a coworker and here comes the sunshine-challenged. “What? I would never eat that! I can’t stand onions.”

While discussing this on the podcast, Mr. Rogan made a joke, but it had a very good point. “Do you think Michael Jordan comments on YouTube videos?” he asked. The point is that Michael Jordan is busy running his businesses and basketball teams to bother with such trivial matters. He is busy improving his life to comment some contrary statement on a social media post. Taking time to leave a little encouragement or motivation on a friend’s post can really do wonders for them. What do you think is accomplished with doing the opposite? What is the point really?

Next time you feel the urge to inject a contrary or negative comment on someone’s post or in their conversation, ask yourself, “What am I going to accomplish by doing this?” “Is there a better way I could use my time?” You can rest assured Michael Jordan, Warren Buffet, Elon Musk or any other driven and accomplished individual is not wasting time on such activities. Let us build each other up, not tear each other down.

I’VE BEEN A THIEF FOR THE LAST 20 YEARS! (and why you should be too)

In the last two decades of my self-improvement career I have become quite a thief. Some of the greatest people in history are thieves as well. Albert Einstein, Oprah Winfrey, and both Tony Robbins and Jim Rohn. When I say that both myself and these greats of history are thieves, I do not mean stealing ketchup when you are three years old and your mother has to take you back to the store to explain and return it. For that you would have to get some clarification from my lovely Margie. When I say that myself and these other wonderful folks are thieves, I mean of the information variety.

As you can see Mr. Einstein gave credit to those who have went before him and used it as motivation to further his work. Can you imagine if everything in the scientific and mathematical community had to be relearned every generation? If we had to go back to square one? Relearn Newton’s laws of physics? Rediscover the periodic table? This would have ripple effects on the medical profession, meteorology, zoology and many other ‘ologies’ that I can’t even think of. What we do is build on and learn from the knowledge of the generations before us. We learn their discoveries and make our contribution. Different generations can look at the same information each from their own unique perspective. They can also present it in their own way and with their own words. This will bring the information to light in a whole new way to an entirely different audience. Without stealing this information, very little advancement or new discoveries would be made.

Nowhere is this more true than in the field of self-improvement. One of the gentleman in the photo above most of you know. That would be Tony Robbins. My self-improvement journey and consequently career was inspired, in part, due to Mr. Robbins. I found myself staring at the television in the very early hours of the morning while getting ready for work at the post office when one of his famous infomercials came on. Perhaps it was lack of sleep, or maybe it was just the right moment, but I felt the desire to order one of his tapes and see what all of this was about. Over 20 years later and I find myself speaking and giving my own seminars. The more of a teacher or mentor you become in the field of self-improvement, the more of a student you become. Every day I read, listen to audio or watch video of other teachers. On an ambitious day I do all three. The other man in the photo is Jim Rohn, the gentleman who taught Tony Robbins. When you listen to Tony, you hear a lot of what Jim would teach, but with Tony’s flair and added knowledge. Jim, on the other hand, learned from a man named J. Earl Shoaff.

All of these gentleman ‘stole’ a little from each other. Perhaps a better word would be the modeled them. They listened to the words earned through years of wisdom each man had. It gave them knowledge that would have taken them years to learn on their own. Les Brown, another one of my favorite speakers, quotes so many other teachers and mentors that my head starts to spin. Oprah Winfrey has had the unique opportunity of interviewing some of the greatest minds of our time. She gladly shares things she has learned from them.

And then there is me, who has stolen knowledge from all of these men and more! I have learned discipline and overcoming odds from the likes of David Goggins, former Navy Seal. I have learned the art of being a good interviewer as well as the knowledge from all the great guests on Impact Theory ( I highly recommend looking that show up) Hosted by Tom Bilyeu. I even try my best to steal nuggets of wisdom on nature from my good friend Shannon, philosophy from my friends Nick, Amanda and Russ, the benefits of nature and rock-n-roll from my friend Eduardo and of course my beautiful Margie and I spend every day sharing and learning from each other.

I am encouraging you to become a knowledge thief now. Whatever field you are interested in or pursuing, there is information out there. Your library is full of books, YouTube has millions of videos. There are podcasts, webinars, seminars and audio available. Search out this information that is being shared and steal some for yourself. Here is the best part. When you share that knowledge with others, you will do so in your special and unique style. It will reach people who may never have been touched by a Tony Robbins or Les Brown. Your words might touch a special place in someone’s heart that nobody else could. Before long, people may begin stealing from you.

MAKE YOUR HABITS STICK

Last post we looked at why developing winning habits is so important and how they can have a dramatic impact on our lives. The million dollar question is how can we be motivated to make those habits stick, especially in the moments we really don’t feel like doing them. This can be true early on. After a habit becomes a part of our life, it is usually much easier to stick with. Some habits you will even come to find yourself looking forward to and end up feeling like something is missing when you don’t do them. We are getting ahead of ourselves. Let us back up and tackle the question as to how we can maintain our level of commitment and enthusiasm for our daily winning habits.

One of the biggest mistakes we make is right at the beginning. When we are putting a new habit in place in our lives, we need to have a strong enough ‘why’. Let us use the example of eating healthier. If we are doing it because we know we should or simply that it would be good for us, that is not a very powerful why. Will this reason hold up when you find out the local pizza place has buy one get one free and you are tired from a hard days work? I am guessing not. Before we put our new healthy habits in place and make them a part of our lives, we need to become emotionally attached to why we are doing them. It is simply not enough to know on an intellectual level why what we are doing is beneficial for us. In order to stick to our winning habits, especially in tough times, we need to become emotionally invested in the outcome. Let us take a look at a few ways in which we can do that.

One of the most powerful things we can do is to really get clear as to not only what pleasurable and positive things will happen by us sticking with our new winning habit, but also what painful and negative things will happen if we do not stick with this habit. Using both will not only double our motivation, but will help us be motivated in an entirely different light. Most of us tend to use only the former and forget the latter. Take trying to quit smoking for example. Some of the reasons you may list for you ‘why’ is as follows. I will be able to breathe better and do more things without becoming so winded. I will stink less and be more attractive to others, especially those who do not smoke. My skin will age less rapidly. My immune system will be stronger and I will be able to fight off sickness better. All very good and helpful reasons to quite smoking. Let us look at examples of what would happen if we don’t stop smoking. These can often be discovered by taking to opposite of our positive statements. I will miss out on playing with my children and grand children because I will be too winded to keep up. In several year, or less, I will have to depend on oxygen and not be able to breathe on my own. I will meet the person of my dreams but they will be sick from the smell of cigarettes on my clothes and hair. My skin will dry, have more wrinkles and I will look older than I am. My immune system will be so weak I will spend more days sick than healthy. I will not be able to taste and appreciate some of the wonderful food I enjoy.

Some people may consider looking at the negative aspect of not achieving your goal or sticking to your habit as ‘scaring yourself’. In a way that is true, but when we are looking to transform our lives in a positive way, we need to use both the carrot and the stick. Both hope and fear are great motivators and should both be employed.

Another great motivational tool is considering something that may be more important to us than ourselves. For parents, this is hopefully their children. These quotes in the pictures above paint a pretty honest picture. You can tell your children how it is important it is to eat right and not to spend all of their time in front of the television or on their phone playing video games. If, however, they watch their parents spend hours a day on Facebook, twitter and other social media platforms while having a coffee and doughnuts for breakfast. What we say goes so far. When faced with believing someone’s words or actions, especially if they contradict, people will always believe actions. This holds true not only for children, but for our friends and coworkers and other people who observe us. If you want to be known as a great spouse and you are consistently posting loving words on social media, but when people see you out together you are disrespectful to your spouse, which one are they more likely to believe? When you are busy lecturing your children on the importance of good health and finances, make sure you are showing them as well. That is even more important.

So when the temptation to stray from the path of the winning habit creeps in, remember your ‘why’. If you have had a stressful day and your are tempted to light up, picture and really think about both running around playing with your grandchildren as well as laying in a hospital bed not being able to breathe on your own. It will certainly make it easier to find an alternative to that cigarette. Free doughnuts in the breakroom? Imagine your children following in your footsteps on unhealthy dietary habits and what that will mean for their lives going forward. It is important to use every means at our disposal for changing our healthy habits. We will not only be transforming our own lives, but you never know who may be watching us as well.

SOME HARD TRUTH

We here at Secret2anamazinglife.com convey what we have to say in a positive manner. That does not mean, however, that we sugar coat things. The quote above is a prime example of that. Recently, I was asked how I manage to maintain a positive attitude daily despite new, and sometimes fairly intense, life challenges. People often ask what was the ‘one thing’ that I did to transform my outlook on life and be able to maintain that positive mindset. The good news is that you can stop looking for that ‘one thing’. The reason being that it is not just one thing, there are several things and they are done daily.

I often use physical fitness as a comparison for self-improvement because the two go hand in hand. In today’s society people are looking for the 6 minute abs routine that will transform their bodies. Some are looking for that one diet, or even diet pill that will do the trick for them. When the trainer tells them it is a daily habit of working in at least 30 minutes of physical activity they are shocked. “I have to do this every day?” It depends how bad you want change. If you really desire to have that healthy and fit body so that you have more energy and less illness, then yes it will take some time and dedication. That is why diets seldom if ever work long term. You need to change your mindset and eating habits, not go on a 28 day diet.

This holds true for any type of self-care. The most common excuse people have for not starting healthy and productive habits is “I don’t have time.” What they are really saying is that it is not a priority for them. If having a healthy body was important to you, then you would make time to go for a daily walk in the park or go to the gym for 30 minutes. Can you find an hour a day to meal prep for the week ahead? If you are dedicated you could. You know that spending 10 minutes a day in quite meditation would greatly reduce your stress, but you just don’t have the time. Then reducing the stress in your life and all the unpleasant side-effects is not a priority for you.

We all are guilty of wasting time. I am no exception. If there is an area of our life that is suffering, we must develop and dedicate ourselves to habits to improve that area. We discussed ways in which that can be done in the physical fitness arena, let us take a look at a few others. Let us say your relationship is not at the level of intimacy you wish it would be. You need to develop a habit that increases that intimacy. You could send your significant other a message on lunch every day letting them know something you are grateful for in your relationship. You could get in the habit of planning a weekly date night with your spouse. If your finances are not where you want them to be, you need to develop a habit of savings and/or investing. That could be as simple as swapping out that gourmet coffee drink you usually stop and spend $5 on for one that can be created at home for $1 or so. You do that 3 times a week you are saving $12. Doesn’t sound like much, but multiplied times the 52 weeks in a year you just saved $624. Simple, small changes in daily habits can make big transformations in our life. There is a simple

We have seen how important changing our habits can be. How can we make sure that we do implement them? More importantly, how can we make that easier to do? Most importantly, how can we make sure that the habits we put in place stick? To answer those questions and more come back and read tomorrow’s post.

A POWERFUL LIFE HACK

I’m not one to promote ‘life hacks’ as a solution. Generally, it takes consistent action and work to change one’s life for the better. This idea above can certainly guide us in the right direction. If we consistently ask ourselves how the person we want to become spend their time, we will find ourselves wasting a lot less time.

Another way to do this is to write down everything you do one day and how much time you spend on it. Do not try to alter what you would normally do. If you find yourself sitting down watching meaningless YouTube videos for 30 minutes, write that down. Do you scroll through social media for just a little bit? Write down when you start and when you end. It may shock you how much time all of those little bits add up to. Also, write down what you do that is productive and how long you spend on that. Did it seem like forever you spent cleaning the house or sending emails out to promote your business? Write down when you started and when you stopped.

As you spend time sitting and pondering what the person you are striving to be would do, it would be helpful to pull out your list. This is not merely to find out how much time you are spending productively verses unproductively, but gives you a list of other benefits as well. It will show you when you tend to be most productive during the day, as well as when you seem to fall victim to distraction. You could use this information to better plan when you should schedule work related items verses recreational items. Adding items from the list of things the person you are working on becoming would do will be easier if you have this list as well. If you spend an hour a day watching videos of bears sitting at picnic tables, it may be more beneficial to slip in a few videos of cost effective ways to promote your book. Maybe if you would like to dedicate a certain amount of time to getting the the house in order you could look at your daily list and find out when you seem to have the most energy and set a timer for 30 minutes.

Thinking about how the person you want to be would spend their time will keep you disciplined to not waste as much time and make better use of the time you have. This does not mean there is no time for recreation, but that there is certainly ways in which time can be better spent. Perhaps having a picture, or pictures, of the kind of person you wish to become posted where you will see them will also serve as a good reminder. Remember it takes more than asking yourself this question once. Ask yourself at least once a day, preferably first thing in the morning, how would the person you are trying to be spend their time and energy? This will give you some great energy and plans for your day. Do this often enough and in no time you will become the person you are striving for.

FARWELL TO A LEGEND

He looks a little older these days

Most of you have heard me mention my friend Curtis before. I first ran into this gentleman on a trip to the local establishment Urban Joe’s Cafe,. Throughout the years I have known this man I have watched him navigate his way through school, maintain a fitness routine, become a father all while working full-time as the face of the franchise, if you will, of Urban Joe’s. This past Saturday was his last day. Curtis, his wife and young son are moving next month to start a new chapter of their lives in sunny Las Vegas. Although the restaurant will continue to offer the mouth-watering cuisine prepared by chef Carlos, and the same charming atmosphere, it will no doubt miss the personality of Curtis.

Curtis and his wife, Danie

Curtis has done a great deal to become more than just the face of Urban Joe’s, but a piece of the fabric of the community. When people think of the city of West Allis, they can recall a visit where they received great food in a pleasant place. What made Urban Joe’s so special when Curtis was there was his ability to care for his customers. To make them feel less like a number and more like a friend. To that end, he became a pleasant part of the people’s lives that live and work in the city. I know several people who, when visiting the city, make it a point to stop and see Curtis. They do so because everyone likes to be treated with respect. They like to feel valued and cared about. Those are qualities that you cannot put a price on and ones that will surely be missed with the departure of this wonderful family.

While the city of Las Vegas is going to gain some amazing and wonderful people, the city of West Allis will have lost a great deal of it’s warmth and welcoming nature. Whatever city you are from, I am sure this has happened there as well. Great people come, bless us with their gifts of love and hospitality and move on to share it with a new city. That means a great responsibility falls on the hearts and shoulders of the people left behind. It is why we must work to provide a warm and welcoming feeling to everyone we meet. We not only represent ourselves, but the places we work and the cities we live in. We should remember how we like to be treated and feel when we go somewhere. Let us provide that feeling to others. We need to work together to make sure the light of love and welcome shines bright for all we come in contact with.

On a personal note, I know Margie and I are going to miss seeing Curtis and Danie as we consider them good friends. We wish them and their family great health and fortune in their new adventure. Margie, my mom and I were lucky enough to spend some time with Curtis on his last day at Urban Joe’s. We will certainly continue to support this local business but we will always miss the presence of our goods friends. Those who have had the pleasure of knowing Curtis and Danie no doubt feel the same.

HOW A STARBUCKS EMPLOYEE IS CHANGING THE WORLD

This is actually the Starbucks by my work

Most days after my day job at the Post Office I like to stop and unwind with a nice cup of coffee. It is rather convenient that about 2 blocks from the office I work at there is the Starbucks you see pictured above. The staff there are always pleasant and I have had many great conversations with several of them. Today’s post comes from a recent conversation with a barista named Deb. I mentioned the pleasant staff, Deb is certainly an example of that. Always greets everyone as they walk in and has a great memory for the names of several of the regulars.

Back in the days when you could sit in a coffee shop

On this particular day, Deb and I exchanged greetings. My answer to the question of “How are you doing?” that day was my usual “Living the dream!” (which if you are keeping score at home is the title for my soon to be released second book) Deb looked at me and exclaimed she was living the dream too, ‘one cup at a time’. I let that sink in. Considering we were in a coffee shop where she was serving customers, it was good to be living the dream one cup at a time. I let her know how much I enjoyed that response. Little did I know there was an even more amazing side to it. She used to work at a different Starbucks location (ironically one that was by an office I used to work at) While at that location she tried doing something a little extra. Do you remember when they used to write your name on the cups? Now it comes on a sticker, which I feel is not nearly as personal. This time as Deb was marking the cup she decided to add a little smiley face. Nothing too crazy, just a little gesture of happiness. The reaction from the customer told her that it was surely a gesture that was appreciated. “When I noticed how much that meant, I started doing it to more cups.” Deb explained to me. I thought about how I felt when I received a smiley face on a to go cup or even the bill at a restaurant. That simple gesture not only lifted my spirits, but made me feel more valued as a customer.

Does putting a smiley face on a coffee cup amount to changing the world? I began to do the math. If Deb did this to a mere 3 customers per shift and she worked 5 shifts a week, she would bring joy and a little bit of unexpected happiness to 15 people a week. If we were to multiply that times the 52 weeks in a year and throw in a few extra smiles during the holidays, we would be approaching 1000 people. How do you think the world would change with a 1000 people experiencing a little extra joy? What would the ripple effect be? Would they pass that smile on to someone else? Would they take it home to their family at the end of the day? if you work with the public, I know it can often be a trying affair. It is, however, a situation filled with opportunity! When I used to work the counter at the post office, I would often stamp a smiley face on the customer’s receipt. I was always amazed at how much that meant to my customers. It was my intent, much like Deb, to make sure they knew they were not just another customer, but a valued person and that their time and business was appreciated.

In today’s mask-filled pandemic world, a smile can be a rare and valuable treasure. If you can’t share one with your customers on your face, we must be creative and find other ways. They are always appreciated even more so now. A simple gesture of kindness can change someone’s day. You do that enough and you too can change the world.

THINK ABOUT THIS

I know there are days when the sky looks cloudy and it feels as though the sun will never shine. I am not just speaking of the weather where I live, but more of an emotional forecast. A friend of mine posted this online and it really made me think. We have survived 100% of our worst days. If we didn’t, we couldn’t be reading this.

Just last night I found myself in a little of a funk. Wasn’t even sure why or where it came from. We all have those days to be sure. With the world in the crazy state that it is in, we may be having them more often. Lucky for me by spending years in the self-improvement field I have discovered ways to be able to find my way out of the emotional darkness. This includes having a list of people, places and things that bring joy to my life ready ahead of time. This is important because when you are in a depressed state, remembering these items can be just this side of impossible.

My list includes a tea called “cup of sunshine”, which I enjoyed. I also enjoy talking to friends who share an interest in self-improvement topics. One of the places that seems to lift my spirits is the grocery store. Not sure why this is, but it seems to be a relaxing sort of retail therapy for me. Last night I found myself pushing a cart down the aisles of a store called Fresh Thyme. It is a brightly lit and slightly overpriced store but the people were friendly and it is usually not too crowded. As I walked along and placed items in the cart I felt the funk slowly giving way. After checking out I came home and Margie and I watched a rather silly movie from the 80’s that helped push me back to a state of joy.

Not really Margie and me

Having inspiring sayings like the first picture in this post surrounding you makes a big difference too. I have a day-by-day calendar that keeps me inspired. The reasons to have these around you every day is that you never know when life will push the down button on the elevator of emotion. That is also why it is important to craft a list of people, places and things that bring you joy. Not only is it handy when you are feeling down, but it is fun to compile as you go along.

It has two bonus functions as well. It has your subconscious mind on the lookout for things to add to the list. In other words, things that make you happy. This leads to a far better life than focusing on the things that make you unhappy. Sounds like a ‘no brainer’ but you would be amazed at how many people get this backwards. Another wonderful side-effect of this activity is it fosters an attitude of gratitude. As you are compiling a list of movies that make you feel inspired or laugh until your side hurts, how can you not be grateful that we can watch them with a push of a button? As you think of people that you enjoy spending time with or talking to, how can you not feel grateful they are in your life? As you begin to list places that bring you peace and joy, how can you not be thankful to have that option? Lastly, as you watch your list of joyful items grow, how can you not feel grateful to have so many of these things in your life that you may not have taken the time to notice, and certainly not list, prior to this moment?

So list away my fabulous friends! You never know when this list will become an item of necessity. It will certainly become a fun activity to create and a great thing to add to. I suggest maybe keeping a little journal of these items and opening the pages to treat yourself to a few of them to help keep your spirits up and keep the funky feelings away! By doing this often enough we will create an amazing life.

LOCAL MASTERMINDS WORKING TO BETTER THE CITY

The internet defines ‘mastermind’ in 2 distinct ways. noun – a person with outstanding intellect and verb – plan and direct (an ingenious and complex scheme or enterprise) In the city where I live, West Allis Wisconsin, we have a local group of masterminds who fit that definition exactly. The group is called “West Allis Masterminds”. It consists of a small group of local business owners from the city. Recently, I sat down with the group’s founder, Ricky Grabow, to learn more about this amazing group, who they are and what they are doing to improve the city.

My first question to Ricky was what exactly is the West Allis Masterminds? As I discovered, not only are they people of outstanding intellect, but they are owners of local brick and mortar stores located in the city of West Allis. How does such a group come together and why the name masterminds? Several years back the city had decided to disband its local chamber of commerce. When Mr. Grabow heard of this, he saw a great opportunity to establish a group of people that are not only vested in the city, but dedicated to its success. The exact mission statement of the Mastermind group reads as follows, “To provide West Allis small businesses a supportive community that ensures long term success and survival.” That certainly fits the second part of our definition of mastermind, plan and direct an ingenious and complex scheme or enterprise. In this case they are planning and scheming ways in which to improve the climate for small businesses in the city by working together cooperatively.

Ricky is the owner of Peak Physique a local gym here in West Allis. He is not only vested in the city, but has a passion for seeing it, and those in it, do well. I asked him how he chose the name for the group. He said it was inspired from the 1937 Napoleon Hill classic Think and Grow Rich. In which Mr. Hill advocates forming a group of individuals all with different opinions and talents dedicated to a common purpose. In this case that means Mr. Grabow contacted other West Allis business owners who also wanted to work together to not only improve their chances for success, but the chance for other local businesses to succeed as well.

There were several local businesses that were involved from very early on. Westallion Brewing Company and their owners were eager to help out. They often do many things to promote and benefit the city. Peanut Butter and Jelly Deli was another business working within the group. Mike, the owner, is not only a great businessman, but one of the friendliest people you will have the pleasure of meeting. Andrea and her business Oniomania, a small boutique on the east side of the city was another early member. Lisa and Josh from Transaction Skate Shop were also eager to help Ricky in his mission. These five businesses were soon joined by others and continue to work to improve the environment for small business.

Being a man of specifics, I wanted to know what steps they were taking to improve the climate for local businesses and how people can become a part of their efforts. The first way in which they are assisting local businesses is by providing a platform on which they can network with each other. In this way, the businesses can discover ways in which they can both support each other and work together to increase business in the city as a whole. Local business owners are encouraged to attend one of their monthly meetings and become a part of this amazing group. The next one is April 22nd at Westallion Brewing Company at 2pm. There is no cost to attend the event or be a part of the group and it is a fun and unique way to get to know fellow business owners.

The current goal the group is working towards is developing a stream of revenue to be able to provide new businesses with grants to assist them in getting started. They are also focused on being able to provide assistance to businesses that may be struggling in these current and difficult circumstances. I was curious as to how an average citizen could play a part in the efforts of the group. Once again Mr. Grabow had an answer. Starting June 8th, the group will hold a vendor fair showcasing many of the amazing businesses that are a part of this group. These will be held in the beer garden right outside the restaurant Public Table. Past events have not only featured beers from Westallion and amazing gift ideas from Oniomania, but also massages from Susan of Massage MKE. It is a free event where you can browse and experience many of the amazing businesses present in the city. A portion of the revenue will go towards the group and their goals. You can enjoy a good meal, a tasty beverage, a relaxing massage and do some shopping all while helping support the health and vitality of the city and its small businesses.

If you would like to know more about the group, the fun things they have planned and how you can be a part of the great positive changes they are striving to make in the community, I will include a link to the group’s Facebook page at the end of this blog. I am very proud to be in a city that is filled with such caring business owners. They are people dedicated to not only the health of the local business community , but the city as a whole. I strongly encourage you to learn more about the group and attend one or more of their vending fairs.

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