MVP Seminars Blogs

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

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#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: info@mvpseminars.com 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

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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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TRUE LEADERS HAVE THEIR LIVES OPTIMIZED, DO YOU?
 

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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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

#stayintheprocess

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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!
Read More →

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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We each want to be the leader of our lives. Many times we don’t feel that we are, other times we feel that we are the victims of our lives. 

What is the secret of becoming the leader of your life? 

More and more people are training themselves to do just that. They want to be coached, mentored, they want the tools to grow. The movement to become self-reliant, self-motivated, self-educated and self-empowered is a dominant color in our modern culture, and that’s great. Yet, we still have a lot of difficulties doing this, and we want to know… why?

We want to understand what is the direct road to get there.

We don’t want to waste a lot of time. We want to get there at fast as we can, since life is ticking.

The question that I want to ask is, do you recognize the Inner Leader inside of yourself? If you do, do you know how to step into those shoes? Do you know how to walk in those shoes? Sometimes we know about it, kind of, theoretically. 


We feel that there is a certain power within us, or some spiritual understanding.  

We have a sense of it. But, between having a sense of it, and actually living it… living within IT, acting from there, feeling from there, thinking from there… there is a BIG difference.

This part of you, that I am calling your inner leader… the Expanded Self, is your guide. It is your healer, your inner parent, the one that holds in its consciousness your optimal life, the vision of your optimal life and the path of fulfilling your purpose and your destination. This is the part of you that can take you where you spirit /soul wants to go.

 

A lot of us have a sense of our personal power, and our wisdom, but many times we aren’t living from there.

We need to know how to tap into this part of us. How to strengthen it. We also need to know what are the other parts of us, our Defensive Self and our Emotional Self. We love these parts, we need them and we want to nurture and support them. it is just that these are not meant to be your leader.

 

There are exercise, actions, meditations, insights that you can do, that you can experience, to ground you in your inner leader.

Get the tools you need to create your inner leader strong, powerful and forward moving inner leader. Stay open to the possibilities that live within you, all that you can be is right there.

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I attended a business meeting today for which I was the facilitator and observed one individual I’ll call Michael, exhibit poor leadership skills. He had a lot to say about everything discussed and was a poor listener to other attendees who asked clarifying questions or had contrary viewpoints. Twice in the meeting he mentioned that he had been rebuffed by the group and did not care whether his views were shared by all members of the group. Quietly the chair and a few others began to try to summarize Michael’s concerns into coherent statements. This was difficult to do because his statements were somewhat inconsistent and he rambled on about a myriad of issues. He attacked some people personally who did not agree with his ideas. To advance the discussion and to end the discomfort someone made the motion for a change which captured some of the issues Michael wanted. The vote carried unanimously. While Michael believed his actions displayed leadership because he vocal and willing to risk unpopularity, others saw his behavior differently. Many viewed his comments to group members as disrespectful and because of that they were closed to the ideas he tried to share. It was not what he was saying, but how he was saying it. Outside of the meeting people commented about how important it is to be coherent in communicating and to show respect for others. In prolonged conversations attendees stated that leadership is about effective communication, demonstrating caring for others of the groups to which you belong. Most importantly, one must listen to be thought of as a leader by others. Effective leaders listen with the right approach and respond appropriately to the person who is talking. They are able to express themselves clearly and professionally. They listen for understanding. When there is a match in the communication, successful interactions are the result and conflict is minimized. Asking questions and paraphrasing what is heard ensures two-way communications. Lastly, respectful dialogue creates a supportive environment for the thoughtful expression of differing viewpoints and the exchange of ideas. As shown in this real life example, forcing individual perspectives, verbal attacks and poor listening, can lead to hasty decisions in organizations simply to “ease the pain”. Have you ever found yourself behaving like Michael? If so, people may have commented about you, too, after the fact beyond your earshot. To be an effective leader: Express your ideas in a positive way Talk less, listen more Handle objections to your ideas professionally, not personally
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Leaders are visionaries. They see the possibilities. They dream the dreams. They imagine extraordinary feats. But they can’t just see the future; they have to be able to convince their team members to see it. When leaders share their vision in a way that others can feel it, they attract more energy toward the belief it can be achieved. This is the motivation which is needed to get beyond the challenges they will face. What helps leaders share their inspired vision? Leaders have to help their team members find their inner motivation. The first step is sharing their passion. When people feel passion, they believe in possibilities. Passion goes beyond time, setbacks, and sacrifices. Passion is a driving force. When leaders share their passion, they are sharing a part of themselves. They are reaching out, giving to others, and showing the idea burning inside them. Through this revelation of caring about making a difference, leaders gain followers.  Team members want to be close to their leaders, to feel what they feel, and to share in their excitement. Enthusiasm is contagious; it spreads to others. But team members aren’t going to jump on board just because their leader is excited; they need to know how their own aspirations and visions can come true. When the leader includes them in the picture and shows them how they will benefit from the shared goal, team members are more likely to remain excited. How can leaders include their team members in their dream?
  • Help your team members understand how you discovered your vision.
  • Engage team members in the goal process.
  • Allow them to see the plan from beginning to end.
  • Listen to their advice and show them you value their words.
  • Hear what is important to your team members.
  • Give them direction but allow them to find the answers.
A visionary understands the vision isn’t the end; it is a means to joining people together for a common goal. Exemplary leaders don’t just hold a vision; they give it energy by sharing it with others. This sharing process includes appealing to team members in such a manner they feel it is their vision. They understand how the accomplishment of the goal will positively affect them. A shared vision involves the passion of all team members. It keeps everyone focused on the future, and provides purpose and drive through obstacles and challenges. When people are engaged in a meaningful endeavor, one that makes a difference in other people’s lives, they find extraordinary resolve to make it happen.  
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BLACK BELT LEADERSHIP

Black Belt Leader As Peacemaker

“Peace is a gift, It is a gift we give to ourselves, And then to each other.”

– Richard Goode

I was a young boy once. I had a friend whose family had a Christmas tree, and they weren’t very religious. In fact, they were atheists. Though I didn’t ask my friend about this at the time, I wish I had. Because I’ve always wondered why his family celebrated Christmas; it didn’t make sense to me. But now living here in Tokyo I think I’ve found the answer, and it came the other day while talking with a Japanese woman.

  

I asked, “Why do the Japanese have Christmas trees in their houses? Why do they have Christmas parties and exchange gifts when they aren’t Christians?”

“Because,” she answered, “it’s very peaceful.”

Tokyo 1985

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