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Name of author Rick Baker, P.Eng.

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Be There, Be Positive.

by Rick Baker
On Feb 8, 2016

Sure, we can be distracted or negative but let's remember we have these other two choices: being there and being positive.

If you are not naturally inclined to ‘be there’ and ‘be positive’ it will take some time and effort to adjust your mindset into those zones. 

Being There: It is easier to 'be there' when you are curious, tolerant, and truly interested in other people.

Being Positive: It is easier to 'be positive' when you are genetically predisposed toward optimism, hopeful about the future, and creative enough to envision alternatives and possibilities.

Perhaps, you are not at this time blessed with any of these traits.

Regardless, you can become an expert at 'being there' and 'being positive'.

Yes, any normal human being can become an expert at 'being there' and 'being positive'. It will, of course, require some effort. It will require some thought. It will require some education - ideally, self-education over a patient period of time. In addition, it will require a desire to grow and excel as a person. And, a good sense of humour will help you along the way.

There is no perfect approach to developing the abilities to 'be there' and 'be present'. These abilities are built over time, by trial and error, and you will make missteps along the way.

It seems to me one of the most important considerations is 'control'. To fully succeed you must understand and (wholeheartedly) believe you can control yourself. To fully succeed you must understand and (unconditionally) accept you cannot control other people or situations. The more you believe in and practice self-control the greater your ability to 'be there' and 'be positive'. The more you accept the limitations around your ability to control other people and situations the greater your ability to 'be there' and 'be positive'.

To be clear - I'm not talking about 'fundamentalist' perfectionism...or about taking huge leaps or about making major sacrifices.  I'm talking about taking some initial small steps aimed at 'experiencing the moment' as an observer. I'm talking about setting personal desires/goals aside for brief moments...long enough to listen to one other human being. I'm talking about imagining another possibility that isn't laced with annoyances (or doom-and-gloom thinking). I'm talking about trusting others. I'm talking about thinking between the lines of other people's comments/actions rather than jumping all over them and proving you are right and they are wrong.


PS: Now this all makes sense doesn't it? I mean, it makes sense at least until all that adrenalin and cortisol kicks in.

Know People

by Rick Baker
On Dec 23, 2015
Father-to-Son Business Lesson #19
Below is a note sent by me to my son, over 5 years ago.
This note was #19 in a long series of father-to-son Business Lessons.
In this note, I was trying to present my thoughts about ‘knowing people’, as it relates to business and particularly to sales.
“We must work continuously to understand ourselves and to understand others. This is important for business success in any role. This is important for business success in a Sales role.

Responding in the same order you have written...

Centaurs: just like "perfect salesmen", they do not exist

Motivational Momentum: my philosophy is: "Only you can motivate you. Only me can motivate me. So, seek the motivation from within. If you wait for others to motivate you then you will be either disappointed or their slave."

Sales: for sales this is the most-important lesson I can offer…
Sales is not about products and product knowledge.
Sales is not about services.

The essence of sales is: the customer.

The essence of the customer is: people.

The essence of people: maybe it is 'emotions'? I think there is a good argument to support: the essence of people is emotions. Even if it is not the essence it is wrapped up in the same package as the essence....emotions, conscience, thought, wonder, etc.

Sales is about understanding people. What they fear and what they desire....

What makes them happy? They want that.
What do they fear? They want to avoid that.
What do they need? They want that.

The training for Sales is about knowing what makes people tick.

The training for Business is about knowing what makes people tick.

To learn sales - learn people.
To learn people - start with yourself.

What inspires you?

What do you fear?

What do you desire?

What do you need?

Those sorts of questions....

As you start to learn about yourself, and it will be a lifetime task, try to expand your knowledge of people by adding others....those you feel you can trust.

Study famous people who clearly understood people: Gandhi, for example.

Listen to motivational tapes: Covey's 7 Habits, etc

Business = Sales = People.

Get my point?”

First posted July 5th, 2011

Do Family Businesses Have Better Values? [revisited]

by Rick Baker
On Dec 15, 2015

Five years ago, I wrote a Thought Post with that title, Do Family Businesses Have Better Values? During the last 5 years I have been involved in many conversations with many family-business people about this topic.

The consensus is – Yes, family businesses do have better Values.

An observation – Regardless of what people think about Values in family business, there is another related facet to consider: the people who work at businesses led by family-people live with the personalities of those family-people. To the extent the family has better Values the non-family-people enjoy that environment. To the extent the family does not have better Values the non-family-people tolerate, grin & bear that [or they depart].

When family-business values are not inspiring, people either put up with the flawed family-business values or they depart in search of better values. If they stay, sooner or later, their talents and strengths are stifled and replaced with mediocrity or dysfunction.

That’s a consequence of flawed family-business values. Talents and strengths never rise to the top when they live in environments laced with flawed values.

Similarly, when people do not receive clear signals to confirm the presence of better values they tend to assume the worse…they tend to think values are less than ideal, likely flawed…i.e., this is one of those negative-bias tendencies people fall into.

As a leader at a family business…

What do you think?

What values do you project at your business?

What values do you want to project?



Leaders' Thoughts | STRENGTHS: People-Focused for Success | Values: Personal Values


by Rick Baker
On Dec 14, 2015

Before you can accurately measure you must learn to observe.

Isn’t it interesting that we have been taught much about measuring, using tape measures etc., yet we have been taught little about how to observe. Observing is an art-skill that apparently goes without saying so it is mostly left to chance.

We rarely teach how to see [use our eyes], hear [use our ears], or feel [use our sense of touch].

We rarely teach how those ‘senses’ work with our brains to deliver information to our minds.

For example - enhanced civilization has brought to us nano-accuracy in measurements...coupled with the inability to identify trees and their flowers or birds and their calls.

Yes – of course we admonish, "Pay Attention!" We began to hear that from figures of authority when we were very young.

We rarely teach anyone How to Pay Attention…

…Let alone Why they ought to Pay Attention.

[For example – Has anyone ever helped you understand the huge advantages you will experience if you understand both Why you should improve your observations and How you can go about learning the good habits of skilled observation?]

And, another key consideration: How can you fully engage and employ your Talents if you lack the skills and habits of observation?

The answer is simple enough: you cannot; in fact, without development of observation skills you cannot even understand your Talents let alone put them to constructive use.

The good news is it is never too late. You may have never received observation education or training. Your children may have never received observation education or training. That is not a problem. That only becomes a problem if you now choose to ignore the need for observation education and training.

Being graphic -

If you choose to think there is no need for improved observation skills then you are wrong-thinking.

If you choose to think there are no methods for improving observation skills then you are wrong-thinking.

If you choose to 'live and let live' or 'live to learn another day' then you are wishful-thinking and setting the stage for life-long mediocrity.




"Observe constantly that all things take place by change, and accustom thyself to consider that the nature of the Universe loves nothing so much as to change the things which are, and to make new things like them."

Marcus Aurelius

Roman Emperor ('Meditations', circa 180 AD)




Confidence provides the building blocks for Relationships

by Rick Baker
On Nov 27, 2015

I was about 30 years old when I learned that specific actions can be taken to build Confidence. I learned this from books, not directly from people.

Perhaps, that's unusual? Perhaps, most people learn about plans and actions for Confidence at a much earlier age? Perhaps, most people learn about plans and actions for Confidence through direct conversations with other people?

I did not...plans and actions for Confidence building just wasn't something people I knew discussed. And, it wasn't something I thought through and figured out on my own.

Likely, my experience is not singular; I expect some, perhaps many, people do not know planned actions can bolster Confidence.

This Thought Post is for those people...and for others who may need a reminder.

There are many ways to build Confidence.

Here is a summary-introduction to one example, from the work of Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Les Hewitt in their book 'The Power of Focus', (2000).

Six Confidence-Building Strategies

  1. Every day remind yourself that you did some things well: give yourself a mental pep talk at the beginning of the day
  2. Read inspiring biographies and autobiographies: build a file of the stories that inspire you most
  3. Be thankful: focus on the benefits you already enjoy
  4. Build excellent support around you: excellent relationships will boost you
  5. Push yourself to accomplish short-term goals: get things done
  6. Do something for yourself every week: celebrate your accomplishments


Confidence is one of Spirited Leaders Values. When Confidence is healthy good things happen.

Here is a link to Spirited Leaders' definition of Confidence.

Here is a link to one of our favourite inspiring stories about Confidence.

The words above were first posted January 24, 2012

Very recently, I reached the conclusion that confidence provides the building blocks for relationships. Confidence is the necessary starting ingredient for relationships. Without confidence there can be no ground for trust and without trust productive relationships are either not possible or quite uncomfortable. 


STRENGTHS: People-Focused for Success | Values: Personal Values

Talents & Strengths - another perspective

by Rick Baker
On Nov 23, 2015

Talents are innate. They are the substances that define us and make us unique. They are our traits and characteristics; they guide/dictate what we do and stand to explain why we do what we do.

If we dig deep enough and study our Talents then we understand why we feel how we feel when we perform Tasks.

The Gallup Organization teaches Talents + Knowledge + Skills = Strengths.

Malcolm Gladwell teaches – even the most Talented people must spend about 10,000 hours to develop master-level skills. I have emphasized that by inserting the word ‘Practised’ in front of skills.

Napoleon Hill taught the importance of ‘Specialized’ Knowledge, in contrast with General Knowledge as provided in libraries. Today, of course, knowledge is much more available to one and all. So, what was Specialized Knowledge today will be General Knowledge – say, in Wikipedia – tomorrow. This is what I call global commoditization. We must be on a continuous quest for Specialized Knowledge in order to keep ahead of the global pack. And, of course, in addition to being curious we must be inventive.

I have inserted Opportunities into the Strengths equation.

Without Opportunities, Talents & Strengths will be wasted.

Business leaders are in the best position to provide Opportunities.

And, that’s exactly what they must do.


Leaders' Thoughts | Solutions & Opportunities | STRENGTHS: People-Focused for Success

Copyright © 2012. W.F.C (Rick) Baker. All Rights Reserved.