4 Keys to Winning When You’re an Underdog

Categories Entrepreneurship, Inspiration, Your CareerPosted on

We have all had underdog moments. These are times when we feel lesser than, find ourselves ill prepared, or simply see a long uphill battle in front of us.

Perhaps you are experiencing an underdog moment right now.

Maybe you are:

  • trying to land a job against very tough odds
  • opening a business in the face of a strong headwind
  • looking to turnaround your performance when everything seems insurmountable
  • and the list goes on and on…

Whatever your situation, I invite you to watch this video to learn 4 keys to winning when you are an underdog.

Applying the underdog lessons

I invite you to take a few minutes to consider if the four keys outlined in the video are present in your life.

To help you assess your situation, think about a time when you found yourself as the underdog.

(Seriously, take a moment to do it.)

Now, consider these questions about how you approached being the underdog.

Key #1: Taking on the right mindset

  • What was your mindset?
  • How did you see yourself in the situation? Victim? Feisty upstart? Etc.?
  • Did you sport a large chip on your shoulder?
  • Did you quit in your mind before you even got started?

Key #2: Setting a clear goal

  • Did you take the time to set a clear goal, even in the face of serious adversity?
  • Was your goal specific or vague?
  • Did you share the goal with others to gain feedback on it? If so, what did you do with their comments?

Key #3: Doing the the hard work

  • Were you willing to do the hard work needed to persevere through the tough times?
  • Did you work in smart ways, asking for help as needed? Or, did you take everything on your shoulders and make things harder than needed?
  • Were you constantly working to acquire new skills to accelerate performance?
  • Did you work, while others rest?

Key #4: Having someone in your corner

  • When times are tough, you need someone in your corner. Who was rooting for you to win?
  • Were you willing to share your goals and progress with your cheerleaders so they know what to root for? Or, was your ego not allowing you to bring them into the discussion?
  • Did you take time to celebrate small victories with someone who was your advocate?

Being an underdog can be a tough and exhausting situation, but doing it well, can be the source of your greatest successes.

I wish you all the best as you strive to win in the face of adversity.


(In case you are curious, the dog in the picture is my daughter’s maltese, Oliver. He is the littlest of the bunch, but sees himself as the feistiest of all.)

8 Behaviors of Highly Successful Creatives

Categories Brands & Ads, Entrepreneurship, Your CareerPosted on

What might Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, and a wide-range of other creative people have in common? Arguably, they practiced (whether simply part of their DNA or the result of honed discipline) 8 key behaviors.


disney and apple

I call these key behaviors, the 8Cs of Creativity. The first 4 behaviors are individual practices and the second 4 represent how teams work together to generate creative results. If you apply these steps, you will no doubt improve your own creative skills.

Take a moment to score yourself from 1 (low) to 10 (high) for each C. Use your scores to assess what you do well and where there may be room for improvement.

Individual Level

1. Conscious Observation: Purposely take in the world around you in a quest to find new ideas, concepts, or ways of doing things.

  • When a new style of car drives by, do you notice it? (Heck, was the last street light you drove through green or red?)
  • What was the wall color at the last restaurant you visited?
  • What type of shoes is the closest person next to you wearing?

2. Capturize: It is not enough to consciously observe the world around you. You must also organize the information in a way that you can later access.

  • Do you take photos of things that inspire or intrigue you so you can refer to them later?
  • Do you keep a journal to capture ideas? Pinterest? Blog?

3. Contemplate: You must invest time in quiet reflection. Turn off the television, shut down the computer, silence the radio, and set time away from others to think.

  • When was the last time you sat silently and thought about something – thinking is a business skill after all?
  • Are you always surrounding yourself with noise? When you walk into a quiet room do you immediately turn on the television?

4. Contextualize: As you think about what you have observed and captured, uncover the meaning of what you see and how it relates to the roles you play.

  • The next time your favorite store changes its displays, ask yourself why? Who are they trying to attract? What message are they trying to convey?
  • Consider the names of new products that you see in the store – is there a theme out there that you should pay attention to?

Team Level

5. Cross-Pollinate: Similar to moving pollen from one flower to another, people who effectively use the creative process take an idea and move it to another environment.

  • What ideas have you exposed yourself to in one place that you could apply to your current situation?
  • Are you facing a challenge that you can’t seem to solve using your old methods? Perhaps another industry can give you some insights.

6. Clamorize: The root word of clamorize is clamor. Clamor means commotion, uproar, and conflict. Individuals and teams should embrace conflict as they tackle problems, create new products, improve existing services, etc. Coming up with an idea, tearing it apart, and building something new from it is the essence of creativity.

  • Does your team actively engage in discussions or do they look for the leader to provide the answer?
  • Are people as passionate about brainstorming answers to a work challenge as they are to thinking about what they want to do over the weekend?

7. Crystallize: Crystallizing is the process a team follows to ultimately select the approach they will employ to address the challenges or take advantage of the opportunities they face.

  • How does your team decide which idea wins? Consensus? Leader’s choice? Etc.?
  • Is the decision-making process you use now working?

8. Critique: Creativity must include taking time to step back and assess what worked, what didn’t work, and what can be done better in the future. When put into practice, critiquing focuses on what we can learn from the experience.

  • Are you so busy slaying the next dragon that the team fails to reflect on how the last effort went?
  • Do you document what you learn so you don’t have to revisit the same issues again and again and again?

So, how did you do? What steps can you take today to move your scores in the right direction? Can you think of any Cs we left off the list?

(Note: The list came from an effort that I and my colleague, Scott Miller, undertook a few years ago on a project at FranklinCovey. If you don’t know FranklinCovey, I encourage you to check them out. Scott and I were working to capture the process we used to create marketing programs, identify strategic initiatives, and simply get things done in creative ways.)

How to Be Heard in a Noisy World, Compliments of a Music City ‘Landmark’

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Many years ago (far more than I care to admit), I was sitting in a marketing class in college. The professor was discussing the challenge companies face when they try to get consumers to buy their products.

I recall him saying, “Customers need to hear about a product 7 times before they make a purchasing decision.”

I don’t remember the source of his statement, but the implication stuck with me. The claim meant that people needed to see an advertisement on television, read a story in a newspaper, have a friend recommend it, etc. on average 7 times before they would open their wallets and buy something.

20+ years later, I’m the professor in the front of the marketing classroom.

A few things have transpired since my time as an undergraduate student. Technology has fueled the creation of email, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and an ever growing world of devices, programs, and apps.

Technology makes it easier and harder to truly communicate. You can literally send a message around the world in a fraction of second. So can everyone else. Thus, there is a lot of noise in the system.

I recently took a stroll in Music City’s 12 South neighborhood to see what we could learn from one message that seems to cut through the noise. Take a look at this video to learn about the power of creating clear, bold, and engaging messages the Nashville way.


Here’s a shot of Authentically Alex enjoying the mural with her cute dog, Oliver. The mural is helping her to cut through the noise of the blogosphere.

What about you and your messages?

Take a few minutes to consider the emails you write, advertising campaigns you implement, and presentations you deliver.

  • Are people listening to you or is your message not making it to your audience?
  • If your messages are getting lost along the way, is your problem simplicity, boldness, engagement, or something else?
  • What could you do today to more effectively cut through the noise?

I wish you the best as you try to effectively cut through the noise.

This Road Warrior Remembers True Warriors

Categories Inspiration, Leadership & Management, Your CareerPosted on

My plane pushed back from the gate at 6pm this past Thursday night – 4 1/2 hours of sitting on the tarmac it returned to the same gate at 10:30pm.

Nearly 24 hours later I finally made it home.

I then remembered it was Memorial Day Weekend and how quickly I forgot the lesson I learned just a couple of years ago. This post, from three years ago, will hopefully help all of us to keep things in perspective.

Original post follows…

October 2014

I just landed in Atlanta on an early morning cross-country flight. It’s been a long couple of weeks and, frankly, I’m tired. Admittedly, I have been feeling a bit sorry for myself. I’ve been on the road a lot this year – a lot! The last several days, I’ve worked in North Carolina, Washington DC, Michigan, and California and traveled on 14 different flights. To further add to my pity party, I was thinking about how the weekend was going to be cut short because I fly back out for work on Sunday.

Life was quickly put into perspective as the plane began its final approach. The flight attendant asked that everyone remain seated as a military escort, traveling with a fallen military member, disembark the aircraft.


My intent in sharing this is not to exploit the situation, but to remind all of us that we need to keep our lives and work in perspective.

As a former military member, I’m familiar with the sacrifices people make so I can travel on a plane, perform fulfilling work, raise a family, hang with friends, and occasionally feel inappropriately sorry for myself. I thought about not sharing; however, my hope is that others will benefit from putting things in perspective.

I’m going to make sure I do these 3 things this weekend. What will you do?

  1. Take the time to truly express thanks to my family for making my life a rich and enjoyable experience.
  2. Reconnect with my purpose and accomplish one thing this weekend that will make a difference.
  3. Reach out to someone who might benefit from some encouragement or support and offer to be there for him/her.