MVP Seminars Blogs

Harassment in the workplace is a critical issue and all organizations must be careful in making sure they have appropriate processes and procedures in place to avoid significant problems. It is also important that all employees have a thorough understanding as to what kinds of things might constitute ‘harassment’ and what kinds of impact that might have.

Harassment in the workplace can come in various shapes and forms. However, in general it is about treating everyone the same way (i.e., fairly) no matter who the individual might be and how different he/she might be from others. As we all know, employees can be different from each other in many different ways. That is why it is critical to make sure they are all treated fairly and similarly.

If an organization is not able to maintain a well-established approach in this regard, it may have to deal with difficult situations that might be significantly unproductive for the organization. First of all it creates a negative environment that contributes to under-achievement as a company. It can also be damaging financially if the victim decides to fight back in terms of a lawsuit. In general, it can cause several different outcomes that are typically negative for the company.

That is why training in this area is critical for all employees. It is important for all organizations to have appropriate processes and procedures in place so that difficult situations can be handled through a well-established framework.


Sumi Mukherjee

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For an unbaised and more educational look on the history of gun control, our friends from have written an indepth article dating back to the late 1700s all the way up to day. Please read the article on their website. Hope you enjoy!

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I love flying jets. I'm so grateful to have the privilege of connecting my passengers with their moments that matter most. But that's not all I do. In another life I am a musical conductor. And in that arena several years ago I had the great privilege of working with Maestro Travis Branam on a project he called "The 303 Choir." (I wrote about that here.)

The choir was made up of enthusiastic middle and high school kids who have had very little choral training, but who love to sing. As part of that experience we organized an opportunity for them to "meet" internationally acclaimed composer and conductor, Randall Stroope, via Skype. We encouraged the kids to show up with questions, and right out of the chute one of the kids asked, “Why do you write music the way you do?” Not bad. Not bad at all.

Dr. Stroope didn’t miss a beat. He explained that it’s always about enhancing the text. The text always dictates how the music is written. Every aspect of the music – notes, rhythm, meter, harmonies – should be about bringing out the message that the poet is trying to convey. The music should always bring the words to life.

Which brings me to the question of the day: Why do you do what you do?

The art of writing music can certainly stand on its own. Choral music on the other hand, at least as imagined by Randall Stroope, is an endeavor that exists to support others. For example, one of Stroope's pieces that 303 was learning was his setting of Robert Frost's poem, "The Pasture." And the second question they asked that day was, "What inspired you to set that piece to music?

Randall said, "I wanted the music to convey the reality that Frost wasn’t talking literally about cleaning out a pasture spring. He was talking about building a relationship. So I built the notes around that idea.”

As Randall worked to bring that piece to life, his efforts were in complete service to the prior efforts of Robert Frost. He was determined to bring additional clarity and deeper meaning to the poem. In being "of service" over time, Stroope was able to create an entire catalogue of music that would be heard and loved by millions and would become a remarkable legacy in its own right.

Can you do that?

Everyone around us is writing a text, a story - the story of his or her life. What are we, you and I, doing about it? How are we supporting those around us? How are we "enhancing the text" of their stories? Are we working to help them bring their words to life? Are we being "of service?"

Or are you so busy writing your own story that you don't see those around you writing theirs? Yes, creating our own legacy is a worthy objective. We should all be about it. But should it be all about us? Or could you weave their stories into yours? What might that look like?

How about this: Is there something you can do today, tomorrow, next week, next month to enhance the self-esteem of a colleague? Can you add tangible value to a friend's life? Is there a way for you to ease someone else's burden? What notes, rhythm, meter and harmonies can you bring to their stories?

Think of someone on your team who is facing a challenge right now. Is there a level of mentorship you can offer from your own life experience that would make it easier for him or her to win that hard battle?

Randall Stroope is able to make powerful poems even more impactful by adding a musical dimension to the text. You, as a composer of life can do it, too. Let's pick a text today and write a composition that will magnify the writer's meaning for the world.

Thanks for reading!

The  Symphony of Your Life


#stayintheprocess #symphonyofyourlife

The Symphony’s YouTube Channel

Mark graduated from the USAF Academy in 1982. After nine years as a pilot on active duty, he left the military to join a commercial airline. In addition to flying B-737s around the country, Hardcastle spends time in the Rocky Mountains and serves on the artistic staff of the Colorado Children’s Chorale. He lives in Centennial, Colorado, with his wife and four children. Need some help figuring out why you’re on this planet? Want to talk about discovering your mission and purpose? Contact Mark today at 720.840.8361 to schedule a free personal consultation. He can also deliver an inspirational keynote or workshop for your organization! email: for information.
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Some time back at a Toastmasters Club meeting a speaker had just finished his presentation and round robin critiques were underway. Another attendee, Toastmasters World Championship Finalist Rich Hopkins rose to offer his critique: "The audience won't care about you until they know how much you care about them." Brilliant!

That wasn't the first time I'd heard that sentiment. As a novice speaker several of my coaches had emphasized that every presentation is always about the audience members - not the speakers. I'd heard it over and over again in different forms and different forums, but never quite so succinctly. Bravo, Rich!

These years later I make it a point to pass that idea along when it's appropriate. That's not always in a training setting for speakers.

Some weeks ago I attended a training event for new captains. One module was dedicated to team building. The idea was to give each new captain tools she could use to build the team, i.e., her flight attendants, gate agents, baggage loaders, and mechanics, who could in turn help her realize her vision on every flight.

Rich's wisdom came to mind during that conversation, so I piped up. "Folks, your support team won't care about you and your vision until they know how much you care about theirs." As far as I knew it was one nugget among many during the course. I had no expectation that it might be remembered over any other of the great ideas we gleaned that week.

Yesterday I learned just how much impact Rich's idea had on at least one other attendee. I walked into the operations office at Newark airport and immediately ran into one of my fellow new captains from that course.

"Hey Captain!"

"Well hi Captain! How's it going out there?"

We visited for a few minutes, then he told a story that bowled me over. He said that he remembered what I had shared with the class about his team members not caring about his vision for every flight until they know how much he cares about theirs. And how much effect that approach was having with bringing the flight attendants and others on board. Which was in turn having impact on his passengers. And how grateful he was to have received that one little nugget he could immediately apply to his new captainship and come out of the gate as an effective leader at least in part because of that one idea.

Rich doesn't know I've been sharing it. He has no idea I'm writing it here. Maybe I'll call him. I'd bet he would appreciate knowing how far his 10 second offering at that Toastmasters meeting has gone. First to me. Then to a room full of new captains. On to dozens of flight attendants working for this one new captain in the months since. From there to thousands of his passengers.

And  there were 17 new captains in that class. If you take a minute to do the math the numbers get pretty big pretty quickly.

You just never know how far what you say or do is going to go.

Have you thought about that? Are you conscious of what you are saying and doing with those within your sphere of influence? All the time? Are you being deliberate with how you are living day-to-day?

Something else I learned at that captain development course is that "everything speaks." Your influence is being created with every aspect of how you are living: how you present yourself to the world all the time every day. What are you saying to the world by how you show up?

Are you good with that? Give it some thought. That would be a great way to let everyone in your world know how much you care about theirs.

Thanks, Rich!

The Symphony of Your Life
#stayintheprocess #stepoverthebar #leadership #teambuilding #employeedevelopment


Mark graduated from the USAF Academy in 1982. After nine years as a pilot on active duty, he left the military to join a commercial airline. In addition to flying B-777s around the world, Hardcastle spends time in the Rocky Mountains and serves on the artistic staff of the Colorado Children’s Chorale. He lives in Centennial, Colorado, with his wife and four children. Need some help figuring out why you’re on this planet? Want to talk about discovering your mission and purpose? Contact MVP today to schedule a free personal consultation. Mark can also deliver an inspirational keynote or workshop for your organization!
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To understand that answer we must understand the 7 Gates of Power. What do I mean by that? The 7 Gates are the 7 areas of life. The reason I am calling them Gates is because the areas of your life are channels, portals through which your inner being expresses itself. Each area of life, for example the Gate of the Body, which is the area of the physical structure of our life expresses how we feel about ourselves, how we feel our environment, how we take care of our physical body and our personal environment.

Another example, the Gate of Emotions is the area of life that contains our emotions, etc. In this video I am explaining how important it is to keep all of these areas free, expressive and vibrant to achieve total well-being, health and success.

All the 7 areas are interconnected and they impact each other just like all the parts of ones body. the goal is to create a life in which all of the areas work in harmony.

Click to begin with Part 6.

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sexual harassment in california

The Bill Cosby publicity & many others, have ignited the #MeToo movement, providing women with a forum grounded by social media sharing their sexual harassment abuses in the workplace.
Sexual harassment and Discrimination are simply illegal under both Ca.state and federal law.
Sexual harassment has a broad category of negative areas, from unwelcome conduct, lewd jokes, gropingand suggesting promises in exchange for sexual favors.
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act bans sexual harassment in the workplace. 
Applicants, employees, independent contractors, unpaid interns, and those with which an employer has a professional relationship (such as clients and vendors) are all protected by this law.
Under federal law, Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1964 forbids sexual harassment. This law applies to companies with 15 or more employees.



It is a requirement for California since 2005 for employers to provide training sexual harassment education and provide employees with the tools to prevent workplace harassment issues.
This training ( 2 hrs. ),is required every two years for managers working for employers with 50 or more employees anindependent contractors.Starting in 2019 all employees must receive preventive Harassment educational training.The training must take place within 6 months of being hired. SB 1343 which passed in Ca., Oct. 2018, changes  existing training laws, & now requires employers with five or more employees to provide non-supervisory employees with a minimum of one-hour of Harassment prevention training every two years, in addition to requiring employers to provide two hours of the bi-annual management training for sexual harassment and bullying.



Hostile work environment . . . . 

Hostile work environment issues occur when an employee is subjected to frequent sexual comments, groping or unwelcome conduct, of a persistent nature. This may include off color jokes, offensive computer material, groping, and social media exploitation. One time events or isolated frequency, does not necessarily count as sexual harassment. The bottom line is that the abusive actions must be pervasive, frequent, and unwanted.


Quid pro quo . . . . 

Quid pro quo typically occurs between a owner, or manager and the office employee. The manager may ask the hourly employee for sexual favors in exchange for employment benefits, such as promotions. This most frequently is between a person with business related leverage , or "power", with a high level of influence, targeting and attempting to seduce ,or intimate a lessor employee. The Hollywood movie environment would be a perfect example, of this power structure.



Employees owners, or managers can initiate sexual harassment. If a workplace employee causes the sexual harassment, the employer will be held legally responsible, if the manager did not take immediate and appropriate action to remedy the situation.
If the manager causes the sexual harassment, the employer faces strict liability under California law.  
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 allows the employer to escape liability if the following situations have occurred:
  • No tangible employment actions were taken against the victim;
  • The employer took reasonable and appropriate action to prevent and correct the abusive behavior.
  • The victim, who had knowledge of the complaint process, and Ca. preventive training, did not take advantage of the complaint process and the opportunities available to correct the situation.


In the perfect workplacethe employer will take a harassment claim seriously and work quickly to resolve it, which is certainly in the companies best interest.However, if the employer does nothing and the harassment continues, the environment may become so stressful, creating a "hostile work environment" , which multiplies the issues.
The employee could easily suffer physical discomfort, and mental anguish from the harassment. 
 It is quite possible that the employee could recover damages from the harassment endured, such as mental anguish, job loss, and lost wages. 
No employee should be afraid to come to work because of sexual harassment. A workplace with a "Zero Tolerance" for abuses is the only solution. If you are a victim of harassment, it's important that you inform your manager, so that the appropriate steps can be taken to remedy the situation immediately.
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A “Symphony of Your Life” blog with Captain Mark Hardcastle

Captain's Log Photo


“Right is right, even if none be for it, and wrong is wrong, even if all be for it.” – William Penn

But how do you know what’s right?

I’ve been reading, enjoying, and learning from Gus Lee’s memoir, With Schwarzkopf: Life Lessons of the Bear, perhaps the best book on leadership I’ve ever read. One of Lee’s stories took me back to early 2005. In the summer of that year I was a brand new real estate agent with a rental property of my own I was ready to flip. The work on the house was done. It was time to get it on the market.

And sure enough an offer came in. But as I read the offer I realized that something was very wrong. It was as if the buyer’s agent had written it on my behalf. Almost every negotiable item was written to my benefit.

Think back with me to the summer of 2005. The Denver market in which I practiced had not yet started the spectacular decline that was already on the horizon. The economics were still fairly well-balanced, unlike today as I write in 2018 with the market heavily tilted in favor of sellers. So back then there was no reason for a buyer to make a particularly generous offer. I was puzzled.

As I looked more closely it became clear that this agent was new. Not only were the terms poorly-written, but there were technical errors, lots of them, in the way the contract had been prepared.

This was my very first transaction as a licensed agent – I had no idea what to expect from other real estate professionals. But it wasn’t my first deal. Over the years I had acquired and sold multiple properties as an investor. So despite my “greenness” in the agency world, I was able to recognize that this agent was exposed. Were I of such a mind, this would have been an opportunity to take advantage of her inexperience. I could just see some of my fellow investors licking their chops.

But it didn’t feel right. I was after a fair deal, sure. Maybe even a “good” deal. This, though, had the potential to cause harm to the buyer. And that reality hung me up. Because this was my own property, I could do whatever I wanted. Ultimately I would completely re-write the contract.

But what if I were negotiating on behalf of a client? Having just graduated from real estate school I was powerfully aware that my fiduciary responsibility would have “required” me to negotiate the absolute best possible deal for my client regardless of what I might do on my own.

I didn’t want to be that agent. You know the one I’m talking about. The hard-nosed, hard-driving stereotype of an agent who takes advantage of every unintentional slip without any regard for good faith.

I needed guidance. Newly minted, I didn’t have the tools. And having recently hung my shingle with the largest real estate company in Colorado, I feared that they would expect me to be… aggressive. Still, I went looking for advice.

Unfortunately it was a Saturday. The broker wasn’t in. The agency trainer was enjoying his weekend as well. So I went to the front desk receptionist to ask who was taking agent questions. She pointed me down the hall to a senior agent whose name I didn’t yet know.

His door was closed, but the light was on. I knocked. When the door opened I was looking up at a mountain of flesh with a face of thunder who was clearly wondering why I’d interrupted his desk work. My palms started to sweat. Quaking, I stammered out my dilemma.

I’ll never forget his answer. He didn’t roar at me. He was actually rather gentle. In the voice of a father, he said, “you know, Mark, it’s simple. Just do the right thing.”

Do the right thing. He didn’t ask for numbers. In fact, he didn’t ask for any details at all. He didn’t care about the commission split to the company. He only had one concern: do the right thing. Not necessarily easy. But simple.

If up to that point I’d had any reservation about whether I’d made the right choice of agency to join, those doubts evaporated in an instant and I knew I was home. And as ethical questions came up during my years as an agent I found great comfort as well as utility in his advice.

In his book, Gus Lee reminisces about Schwarzkopf telling him, “every real question in life comes off as a tough ethics question. And the answer’s always the same to tough questions: do the right thing.”

Of course, the point here is that those “real” questions are called “tough” for a reason. The right thing sometimes requires personal sacrifice. And The Bear had plenty to say about army “careerists” protecting their own interests at the expense of the “harder right.”

Still, as humans living in the real world we naturally want to avoid that. And our own interests can be legitimate. It’s ok to be as fair to ourselves as to others. In the case of my first real estate transaction, it wasn’t really all that hard, partly because I was a principal to the deal, partly because I knew that even if this particular deal failed another buyer would come along.

Which takes us back to the “tough” part. Sometimes, the right thing has nothing to do with us. Had I been working for a client it wouldn’t have been so easy. The client’s interests would have been at play. And the agency under whose license I toiled always had a say. Multiple interests, sometimes in conflict, make it harder to discern “right.”

So here you are, facing a tough question. Maybe you’re involved in the problem, maybe you’re not. Regardless, you’re the decision maker. How can you know what to do?

Again from Schwarzkopf: “Character means you have to do the right thing all of the time. Character guarantees competence because to do the right thing you must acquire and develop your competence.” In other words, the better you get at what you do, the easier it becomes to know what’s right.

Finally in this regard, The Bear referenced the cadet prayer from West Point. Part of it implores, “…strengthen and increase our admiration for honest dealing and clean thinking. Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half-truth when the whole can be won.” He then taught that “you need fine judgment to know the harder right. You get that judgment by practicing and by learning from errors.”

I imagine that General Schwarzkopf might suggest you face today’s difficult decision by sifting through the issues in search of the harder right. And then move forward with admiration for honest dealing and clean thinking. Not without fear of making the wrong decision, but with the courage of knowing that if you make a mistake you will learn.

Doing that will lead to your best decision today and will make hard decisions easier tomorrow. Learning begets competence; competence begets judgment. The more you practice the better you will become. And in time you will become the one to whom the new folks turn, because you will know where to find the harder right.

And you’ll hear yourself saying, “It’s simple. Just do the right thing.” And then you’ll lead the way.

Thanks for reading!

The Symphony of Your Life



Mark graduated from the USAF Academy in 1982. After nine years as a pilot on active duty, he left the military to join a commercial airline. In addition to flying B-737s around the country, Hardcastle spends time in the Rocky Mountains and serves on the artistic staff of the Colorado Children’s Chorale. He lives in Centennial, Colorado, with his wife and four children. Need some help figuring out why you’re on this planet? Want to talk about discovering your mission and purpose? Contact MVP today to schedule a free personal consultation. He can also deliver an inspirational keynote or workshop for your organization!
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Employees who do dumb things can be good entertainment unless of course they’re your people.  Getting the bill for stupidity is no laughing matter.  If costly mistakes were not bad enough, consider all the expensive side effects like; loss of performance, absenteeism, loss of company reputation, penalties, insurance costs, legal fees and crashing morale.

I could go on, but I’m sure you could come up with a few examples on your own.  I don’t mean to be a total downer, but the truth is, as the captain of the ship, it’s probably your fault.  I know that sounds harsh, but I’m not here to sugarcoat anything.  Its monkey see, monkey do, and if your people watch you make bad choices, well, they will too.  Funny how inspiration works?

I was asked once if I could do a keynote on preventing bad decisions?  The truth is if someone (leadership or staff) are making chronic bad decisions, it’s a symptom of a much larger set of dysfunctional issues.  An I not taking about management ordering the wrong style of t-shirts for the company softball team kind of mistakes, I mean full pro F ups that can include attorneys, insurance companies, federal regulators and the media. 

Let’s step away from the ledge now so I can give you some good news.  If someone is dysfunctional and making bad decisions to prove it, it because they are operating on their own authority without complete information, trust, communication or consequences.  Wait, that was not the good news part, here it is, dysfunctionality can be fixed if it is not continually allowed.

Here’s the short answer:  Are they trainable?  If so help them prevent stupidity by providing additional training and consultation.  If they are not trainable, set them free to ruin someone else’s day.  If you can’t train them or fire them, better remind them of that big reason or goal to do everything right.  Better yet, lead by example, if they see you successful, maybe your dysfunctionally fun crew will stop and think before getting drunk with the intern at the next company party.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Jack W. Peters

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Much as been written and said about teamwork and team building to the point now that it could be a bad cliché as unsuspecting employees run for cover when the boss springs on them another team building activity.  Besides now you could not get your staff off their phones long enough to even conduct an old skool Trust Fall exercise. 

Knowing that staff working together in a productive way is the key to meaningful productiveness, what is a leader to do?  Some take the approach of labeling, like calling employees teammates and forming them into workgroups.  That’s like calling your Hyundai a Ferrari.  It might make you temporarily feel better, you can even shut your eyes and rev the engine, but its still not the same thing.

Oh ya, you still might be wondering what I was doing at 2 AM to learn so much about teamwork?  I used to lead a search and rescue team for a sheriff’s department in Oregon.  From this I learned three critical things:  1. No time for endless meetings and planning.  Get your resources together and help your team get the job done.  2. Don’t get too hung up about the process, just get the persons found before they could die.  Anything less is a failed mission.  3. If you want your team to respect you and each other, there must be complete trust and communication.

I know is sounds so easy when I list them out that way, but it’s that darn ‘Trust and Communication’ part that so many have trouble with.  I promise you this, if you can achieve it, magic will happen.  Not only can you form high performance teams faster, but critical bond will be nearly unbreakable.  Teammates will go above and beyond for each other, even risk each other’s lives for one another.  Meanwhile your workgroup is till calling in sick.

Next time you have a big job to do, think of it as a search and rescue mission, in a storm, 2 AM, knowing you are not sleeping until the mission is complete.  It helps put everything into prospective real fast as far as who you want to help you and how are you all going to work together to get the job done efficiently and successfully.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Jack W. Peters

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Café’s use the term Americano because no one is going to pay $5 for watered down coffee.  Well its no surprise that some business change gurus do the same thing.  The more exotic something sounds, the more expensive its going to be.  The truth is most personal and organizational development concepts are very simple.  Over the decades the same ideas get re-branded and sold under a more exotic label.

Another truth is, simple is good.  In today’s busy world with distractions around every corner, simple ideas are what is needed for your people to understand let alone implement in a way that will make a difference on Monday morning.

I developed the presentation, ‘The Goldfish that Barked,’ to feature seven simple things anyone can do to help distinguish themselves and improve their lives immediately. 

7.  Be ready for Success, 6.  Don't fall into Traps, 5. Learn to Communicate, 4.  Educate Yourself, 3.  Find you Superpower, 2.  Give Thanks, 1.  Pursue your Mission.

Another benefit is that these simple ideas do not necessarily require spending money.  The presentation takes time proven ideals and packages them in a way that is entertaining and rememberable so they are more likely to be implemented in the audiences’ own lives.

So enjoy your Steak Au Poivre, but once you get down to the basics, you can save the money and grind the pepper yourself.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Jack W. Peters

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