All We Have To Do Is Hold On

Hi there, it’s Mic here. I’ve been thinking about the following topic for quite some time. Inspiration hit recently and the following post flowed out of during yet another rainy Sunday morning in Kansas City. I’d love to hear your perspective as it relates to your own life experiences. As always, thanks for your continued support of Blue Gurus. We appreciate it more than you’ll ever know.

I’m fascinated (and, in some instances, deeply saddened and disturbed) by how often one’s happiness, confidence and self-worth are so closely intertwined with one’s career and financial situation.

I routinely hear about people who are miserable, lost and defeated by their career and financial situation. Anxiety, fear, uncertainty and depression are their bedfellows. I also routinely hear about people who are happy and confident (and, in some cases, overconfident) by their career and financial situation. Optimism, hope and security are their bedfellows.

Ironically, in many cases, those are snapshots of the same people (myself included)—just at different times in their lives.

Roller coasterThe illusion of course is that any situation or level of happiness or unhappiness is permanent….though it most certainly often feels that way when you’re in the moment.

That is coupled with the illusion that we’re entirely in control of our career and financial destiny. Many people like to believe that everything they’ve accomplished has been solely through their own hard work. While hard work is definitely important, the reality is that luck, timing, opportunity, courage, risk tolerance, socioeconomic status and countless other circumstances all factor into the ever-evolving equation.

No one has it all figured out. As the saying goes, “Man makes plans…and God laughs.” It’s never as good as you think it is and it’s never as bad as you think it is. Life pulls us in all different directions…sometimes in the same day. The happiest people make a conscious effort to keep perspective and remain humble no matter where life takes them.

If I’ve learned anything throughout my life, it’s this:

Life is like a roller coaster. All we have to do is hold on.

Introducing Awesome

Post Author: Mic Johnson

Many of you know that one of my goals in life it to proactively get away from people who suck. The flip side of that goal is, of course, to spend as much time as possible with people who are awesome.

It was with that in mind that (per Jason’s recommendation) I started my own peer advisory group over two years ago. The name of the group is Introducing Awesome (IA) and is composed of people who I felt very strongly were innately awesome. We meet once a month for a couple of hours, sometimes over drinks, and sometimes in a conference room. The group was formed with a simple mantra:

 “Bring awesome people together and let the magic happen.”

Introducing AwesomeIA is intentionally cross-generational and comprised of people who naturally and instinctively love helping others.

The group has evolved beyond my expectations and and continues to lift each other up, help each other through the ups and downs of business and life, and turn to one another for trusted advice.

I’m routinely inspired by the members of Introducing Awesome and wanted to take a minute to introduce you to the group I affectionately call “The Awesomes”….

Shawn Kinkade – Shawn is the President of AspireKC. I routinely refer to him as “The Best Business Coach in Kansas City.” Shawn is definitely one of the first people that come to mind when I think of awesome people. His monthly Business Book Reviews are also one of my must-attend education and networking events.

Cynthia Kyriazis – Cynthia has owned Productivity Partners for over 20 years. How many Productivity Coaches do you know? I know one…and she’s awesome.

Brad Douglas – Brad is Vice President and Retirement Plan Consultant for Alliance Benefit Group. The first time I got together with Brad we talked for over 2 hours. He’s one of the most inquisitive people I’ve ever met and is someone I could spend hours talking to about life and business.

Jennifer Peek – Jennifer is the Managing Partner of Peek Valuations. If you need help understanding the financials of your business and how to improve them, Jennifer is who you want to talk to.

Alana Muller – Alana is a Networking Coach & Consultant and the author of Coffee Lunch Coffee. I knew Alana was awesome the first time I met her. She’s intelligent, motivated, well connected and is another person that’s great at asking questions and helping drive solutions.

Melissa Eggleston – Melissa is a Director, Private Banking at Alterra Bank. I knew Melissa was awesome within minutes of meeting her. Melissa loves helping people, always has a smile on her face, has an attitude that is infectious, and sees the possibility in everyone and everything.

Jacob Wayman – Jacob is a Provider Engagement Consultant at Humana. He’s passionate about Healthcare, passionate about helping others, passionate about being a Rotarian….heck, he’s passionate about all that he does! Jacob brings a youthful energy and enthusiasm to IA and has benefited from the experience of the group as he develops into a young professional.

Andrew Hinrichs – Andrew is a Partner at HinrichsZenk & Pesavento. He provides accounting services specifically focused on the dental industry. Andrew is a classic entrepreneur who wears many hats and goes a million miles an hour. He’s intelligence and drive are contagious and he’s come to truly value all of the business perspective and experience of the IA group.

Laura Wildman – Laura is the President of MomCorps Kansas City and is the newest member of IA. Laura is a strategic search partner and helps link highly qualified candidates to job openings with her clients. I met Laura a couple of years ago. I knew then that she was awesome and we’re thrilled to have her a part of the IA team.

It’s been an honor for me to get to know these people personally and professionally. They inspire me every time we get together.

If you, your business, your clients or someone you know would like to know more about the services that these people offer, reach out and set up an initial phone conversation with them to learn more about how they can help.

Take it from me. They’re awesome.


Give Employees A Voice. And Then Watch What Happens.

Post Author: Mic Johnson

One of the items that stuck with me throughout all of my classes in college was a lesson I learned in Organizational Communications (Coincidentally this was also the class where I met my wife Missy, so I guess two things stuck with me from that class.)

I remember the professor reviewing various business case studies and then she said something that hit me right in the heart. I’ve believed (and preached it) ever since:

“In organizations, people want a voice more than a vote.”

That lesson has remained with me throughout my career. Unfortunately, what I too often found, particularly in larger organizations I worked for, was that although I always had a voice and wanted to share ideas to make things better, there weren’t always people (particularly in leadership positions) willing to listen.

VoiceThis decades-long trend continues to be a problem and is a missed opportunity for organizations of all sizes to grow in ways they’ve never imagined. There are countless ideas, solutions, process improvements and more that employees have, but no one is taking the time to ask them or provide an engaging platform where they feel comfortable sharing.

I guarantee that the more you engage your employees, the more you give them the opportunity to speak into how your business is run, the more you get their ideas on how best to serve your customers, the better your company culture will become.

On top of that, your company will become a place where other talented people will want to work. This is critically important to organizations that want to be successful in the future, particularly with Gen X’ers who are ready to move into leadership positions, and with a growing Millennial workforce that are known for wanting to voice their ideas. The organizations that figure this equation out the quickest will be the winners over the long term.

So what can organizations do to create a culture where employees feel engaged and comfortable sharing their voice?

Here are just a few ideas:

1. Commit to Regularly Scheduled Meetings

If you aren’t already, schedule weekly, bi-weekly or monthly meetings with your team to give them an overview of what’s been going on in the company. Give them an opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas and champion the idea of being open, honest and transparent.

2. Encourage Employees to Write for the Company Blog

If you’ve got a company blog, encourage your employees to share their stories, both personal and professional, with your audience. We have several clients that are doing this. Most employees enjoy it as a creative outlet and a way to be engaged in something other than their normal day-to-day job. It gives them more of a sense of ownership in the overall success of the company.

3. Talk to Them…and Then Listen

Business owners, managers and others in leadership positions should get into the habit of walking around and talking to employees each week through informal discussions. Stop by their office or cube. Take them to an impromptu lunch. Ask questions. See how they’re doing. Ask what they need help with. Give them opportunities to work on special projects. Schedule monthly touch base meetings.

In Closing…

For too long in my career I was one of those employees that had a voice, but felt like my ideas, energy and passion were falling on deaf ears. To be honest, that was one of the primary reasons I kept moving in my career.

As I work with organizations and talk to prospects, it’s clear to me that what I have believed for a long time is still very much a problem:

There’s a culture crisis in many companies throughout Kansas City.

There are incredibly talented people working for organizations all throughout the city who desperately want to have a voice, but who are stuck in cultures that don’t give them that opportunity. We’ve all seen reports about how low employee engagement is. This has to change.

If you’re one of those companies and truly want to change your culture for the better, start by giving your employees a voice…and then watch what happens.

10,000 Steps

Post Author: Mic Johnson

Wow, what a great night’s sleep. I love it when that happens. I love feeling refreshed in the morning knowing I got some quality REM sleep the night before. Heck, I didn’t even hear our dog Hinrich get up on the bed and smash himself in between me and Missy. It’s always hilarious when he pushes on us with his paws, as if it’s his bed and he just lets us sleep in it. Oh well, I’m not feeling particularly motivated or inspired, but I guess it’s time to get out of bed and head to the gym.

After nearly 8 years of doing this 4-5 times a week, I really thought it would get easier…that I would learn to love it. If I’m honest with myself, I really can’t believe I’m still doing it. 8 years of working out 4-5 times a week. And I haven’t lost a pound. It’s easy to see why most people give up. It’s hard work. It takes commitment. You have to do it when you don’t feel like doing it. I just keep reminding myself that I know it’s good for me. I feel better when I work out. I sleep better. I feel healthier. It gives me time to think…time to clear my head. And when I got my annual physical last year, my doctor told me “You’re the healthiest overweight patient I have”, so there’s that. Yeah, all of those things keep me going.

Sylvester Powell Community CenterAh, there she is…the Sylvester Powell Community Center. This has almost become a second home for me after all of these years. Walking in now, putting my finger in the little fingerprint scanner thingy to check me in. That’s pretty cool technology. I wish it took off 20 pounds every time I did it.

Walking up the stairs now as my hour+ long workout awaits. What am I going to do today? Weights? Cardio? A mixture of both? You know, I think I’m going to do something different. I keep hearing about how you’re supposed to walk at least 10,000 steps every day. 

Man, I wonder if I EVER get 10,000 steps in a day? I spend a lot of time in front of the computer. Heck, I bet I go days where I don’t even get 2,000 steps in a day. Ok, that settles it. I’m going to walk 10,000 steps today around the elevated track at Sylvester Powell. This will be fun. Something different. In a weird way, I’m kind of excited about it.

Time to count my steps. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7….ok, walking around half of the track is 100 steps, so walking around the whole thing is 200 steps. That means I have 50 laps ahead of me. That doesn’t sound too bad. In fact, I just finished my 5th lap…look at me, 1000 steps in already…only 9,000 steps to go!

I have a lot of time to think as I walk around this track, seeing the same things and people over and over again. I need to write a blog post today. What am I going to write? Stop it, Mic. Worry about that later. Use this time to free your mind. Now I’m thinking about my buddy and his mom, who are both having health issues. I say a few quick prayers for them as I make another lap.

15 laps in now. 35 to go. Wow, 35 seems like a lot. This is going a little slower than I thought it would. Maybe I should abandon this 10,000 steps deal and go lift some weights to break up the monotony of the walk? No Mic, stick to the plan. You’re going to get those 10,000 steps in today. Keep going. Ok, ok, I will. Still trying to think about what I’m going to write about for my blog post today. I don’t feel like writing about LinkedIn, or web development, or blogging. There you go again. Worry about it later Mic. Why are you thinking about your blog post while you’re at the gym?

10000 Steps35 laps in now. Man, this really seems like it’s taking forever, but I’m getting closer to my goal of 50 laps. It’s funny what happens as I walk around this oval track time and time again. I see the little old lady who seems like she’s about 4 feet tall. She’s here every single day. I love her commitment. I’ll say hi to her as I walk past at a quicker pace.

Oh, and there’s a guy I haven’t seen before, shooting hoops below me. He’s probably in his mid-50’s. Now it looks like he’s doing some basketball drills like he’s trying out for the NBA. Maybe he plays in a rec league? Swish. Nice shot, buddy.

Hey, there’s Mike. He’s here every single day, wearing the same gray shirt and black shorts. He talks to me for a bit about the Royals and what a bummer that Alex Rios broke his finger. I agree and then Mike gets off the track to go “have my morning cup of coffee.”

Approaching my 45th lap now, feeling good and my pace is picking up as I know the end is near. Oh, there’s my friend Arly. I see him here almost every day. He’s got to be about 80 years old and he understandably walks at a much slower pace. I don’t really want to slow down because I’m so close to the 50th lap. Oh well, I’ll get there eventually and I love talking to Arly. I’m guessing it can be pretty lonely at his age to come to the gym and walk in circles. He asks how I’m doing and we exchange some small talk. He tells me his wife has been battling an illness for years. I can tell there’s more to the story, but I don’t want to pry. It was good chatting with him, but I need to pick up my pace and get done with this workout.

As I approach the end, my 50th lap, I joke with myself and see an imaginary finish line with people congratulating me. Good job, Mic. You stuck with it. You tried something different. You fought through the boredom of going in circles. You said hello and shared some idle chatter with some people. You got your heart rate up. You may have a blister forming on your foot. Your legs and feet hurt a little bit. But that’s ok, you did it. You got your 10,000 steps in today. The rest of the day is gravy. Ok, time to write that blog post. What am I going to write about?

Whatever it is, I hope it inspires people.

3 LinkedIn Profile Spring Cleaning Tips

Post Author: Mic Johnson

I love Spring. Optimism is in the air. The buds are starting to appear on the trees. Flowers are blooming. The grass is greening up. Kids are out playing. People (and dogs as you can see from my buddy Hinrich below) are thrilled to be able to get outside and get some exercise. And of course our American League Champion Kansas City Royals are getting ready for Opening Day at the K!

Spring is also a great time for cleaning…closets, garages, storage rooms, and more. We all need to get rid of the physical and emotional baggage from winter and start preparing for a season full of warmer weather.

So with so much optimism in the air, I wanted to share 3 LinkedIn Profile Spring Cleaning Tips to help take your profile to the next level:

LinkedIn1. Upload A New Photo
When was the last time you updated your LinkedIn photo? If it’s been more than a year, either get a professional photo taken or have someone take a picture of you with their smartphone. It’s as simple as that.

2. Personalize Your Professional Headline
Your professional headline (which appears just to the right of your photo) doesn’t just have to have your job title. Attorney. Sales Manager. Accountant. CEO. Those are just titles. Humanize your professional headline with some personality and things that make you are who you are. Take a look at mine and Jason’s to get ideas.

3. Write (or review) Your Summary
I often look someone up on LinkedIn and am let down when I see that they never took the time to write a Summary. A well written Summary is your opportunity to “welcome” people to your LinkedIn profile and share your professional story with them. It’s also completely fine (and encouraged) to include a little bit about your passions and interests outside of work. Again, it’s about humanizing your profile and making sure it educates visitors to your profile about your personal and professional journey.

I hope these tips have been helpful. Have a wonderful Spring!




I’m Selling Common Sense.

Post Author: Mic Johnson

I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out something that has driven me crazy ever since I started working with Blue Gurus 5+ years ago.

Over the years we’ve had way too many sales calls to count where we explain the 3 things we do for clients…Blogging, On-site WordPress Web Development, and LinkedIn Training.

They always understand it. They always agree with it. They always admit that they know they should be doing it. And then they do….nothing.

I often tell people “I feel like I’m selling common sense.”  Here’s why:

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The Book of Mormon – A Networking Event?!?!

Hello friends!  It’s time for another post from Jason.

book-of-mormonRecently, I went to see the Broadway musical “Book of Mormon” at the Music Hall in downtown Kansas City. For those of you that haven’t heard of it, it’s a play created by Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of South Park. Yes, it’s vulgar and profane.  And really funny. In 2011, this play won 9 Tony awards including best musical.

One of my best friends, David Carey, invited me to go see it with a group of his friends.  I didn’t really know what to expect other than I would need to go into the experience prepared to not take it seriously. That’s in line with most of the content that Stone and Parker create. They usually push things well past the line of acceptable language and topic. But I knew it would be entertaining… South Park is a guilty pleasure of mine.

I really enjoyed the show. The performances were outstanding. The music was excellent (even though the words made me cringe at times.) In my experience, there are usually a couple of people with amazing voices and a decent supporting cast. I was inspired by the fact that at least a dozen of the cast members had rock star voices.

And Then I Was Really Surprised…

At intermission, I saw a TON of friends that we do business with:  Doug Hubler and Jerry Meinert with Apex Business AdvisorsJason Moxness with Alterra BankJanine Akers with DataFile Technologies. I couldn’t believe that intermission had turned into some kind of strange networking event!

It was fun to share the experience with even more people I know and trust. And it was another great reminder that no matter where you go or what you’re doing, there is usually someone you know who will see you doing it.

Did you get a chance to go see the show?  Let me know!

David Carey, and Jason and Paige Moxness stayed with me after the show to get a picture with some of the cast members.

book-of-mormon-david-web book-of-mormon-moxness-web

A New Batch Of #micnuggets

Post author: Mic Johnson

Over the years I’ve found that my mind and creative levels are at their highest right when I wake up. Not too surprising, I suppose, because the power of a good night’s rest is well documented.

Such was the case recently as I laid in bed one Sunday morning thinking about the types of advice I’ve been giving people (and of course applying in my own life) over the years. I started documenting these years ago and call them #micnuggets. I literally have a 17 page Word document full of #micnuggets that I hope to eventually turn into a book one day.

So here are some of the #micnuggets that popped into my head that one Sunday morning. Enjoy.

micnuggetsTake risks.

Trust your instincts.

Voraciously pursue happiness.

Don’t settle.

Surround yourself with awesome people.

Helping others is addicting.

Find someone who believes in you more than you believe in yourself.

Corporate job security and loyalty, for most people, is a myth.

You don’t realize how stiff career headwinds can be until you’re in a career with the wind at your back.

People are drawn to enthusiasm and optimism.

You don’t have to do it like everyone else does.

Do what you say you’re going to do…every time.

Once you figure it out, help other people figure it out.

Never stop dreaming… that’s where every reality starts.

Regularly brainstorm with yourself and with others…sometimes all it takes is one good idea.

Fear is part of the process of moving forward.

It isn’t failure if you learned from it.

You impact more peoples’ lives than you’ll ever know. Act accordingly.

Be the one that lets other people know that they aren’t crazy.

Walk in the light of your own authenticity and others will be drawn to you.

Always believe in your ability to figure it out.

It’s called the road less traveled by for a reason.

micnuggets2Every day you’re lucky enough to wake up, you have a choice to be awesome.

There are few things better than inspiring someone to make a positive change in their life.

Saying I’m sorry is one of the bravest things you can do.

Tell people how you feel. Being honest is better than the alternative.

Fill your life with people you love doing things you love doing.

Outside of your comfort zone is where the magic happens.

Be organized… it’s better than the alternative.

Make a regular, conscious effort to reduce stress in your life.

Take vacations.

The only critic that matters is you.

Any time spent on regret or envy is wasted time.

It doesn’t have to always be one way or another… sometimes it’s both.

You can learn a lot about life if you pay attention at funerals.

Stop procrastinating. Start doing.

You can always convince yourself it’s not the right time. The hardest part is having the courage to take the leap. Don’t be the person left standing on the high dive at the end of your life.

Slow down.

Don’t run away from your emotions. Things you put in the closet always end up falling on you.

Find mentors. Be a mentor.

Be a giver. Avoid the takers.

Stop beating yourself up. Life throws enough punches.

As always, thanks so much for reading.  Let us know if you have question or topic you’d like us to consider for a future blog post.

Top 5 Things on Jason’s Mind – February 19th, 2015

Author: Jason Terry

Okay friends. I had a hard time writing about a single topic this week, so I am going to do another “Top 5 Things on My Mind” post.  I hope one of these gets you thinking, makes you laugh or helps you take action.

1) Companies are spending money on marketing and training again.  That’s a good thing.

DollarsWe’ve noticed a jump in requests for new websites and LinkedIn training over the past quarter.  Almost double the normal volume.  Thank you to all of you that have sent opportunities our way!

I think that our type of business is an early indicator to where the economy is moving.  The services we offer tie directly to the sales and marketing efforts of the companies we help.  When companies start spend money on those efforts, it usually means the economy is in growth mode.

I’ve talked to quite a few companies lately about this trend and many are seeing the same thing.  More activity than normal.  Are you seeing that in your business?  I hope so!

2) One space or two after a period?

Completely random, I know.. but this has been on my mind for two weeks for some reason.  I stumbled onto an article that opened my eyes to the ongoing debate about how many spaces should be after a period.  One, or two?  I was taught two spaces in typing class in grade school. And there are a lot of people loudly claiming there should only be one space.

I think the most interesting perspective on the argument is that people might be able to tell you are over 40 if you double space.  Dang, that’s me.  I double spaced my sentences up to this point in my blog post.  Ugh.  What do you think?  Do you use one or two spaces?

Do a google search on “one or two spaces” and enjoy reading 70 million results. Read more

The Power Of Awesome

Post Author: Mic Johnson

I wrote a blog post in January 2014 called “The #1 Secret To Get Real ROI From Blogging.” In that article I talk about all of the ROI that came from meeting my friend Carol Bush, who I’d never met or even heard of until May 2013, when she sent me an email with the subject line “We Need Help.”

This is a story about the power of quality relationships…which is how smart business is done, friendships are made, and AWESOME happens. Carol had been reading the Blue Gurus blog for over a year before she ever reached out to ask for help. Since then our relationship has blossomed and the “ROI” for both of us has been more than we ever could have imagined. Carol has become a brand advocate for Blue Gurus…and vice versa.

Recently Jason emailed Carol thanking her for a referral. Shortly after Carol responded back to both of us with the email below. It’s an amazing feeling when someone pours their heart and enthusiasm out in a way that is so genuine and enthusiastic that you just can’t help but smile.

I wanted to share Carol’s email with our readers. I’m hopeful that it will inspire you…to reach out to someone…to try something new…to get outside of your comfort zone…to be someone who enthusiastically helps others. If you do, and you do it consistently, you too will feel….

The Power of Awesome.
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