2014: My thoughts…and moving forward

blog Dec 17, 2014

My life is amazing.

2014 is another chapter in my journey, but I want more. I am willing to put in the hard work to make my dreams a reality. Here are a couple of highlights of 2014, in no particular order.

The year began with a house in escrow, because I needed something a little bigger as my family grew. Also, I was putting the finishing touches on my new book Big Dreams Take Small Sacrifices. In April, I found out my wife was pregnant with our second child. I witnessed my boy Andrew take his first steps, and say the words Mama, Dada, and—of course—touchdown, which his Grandma taught him. I also had fun taking trips to Vegas, Seattle and Lake Tahoe. I watched friends get married and welcomed my first nephew Ezra into the world.

Years ago, I thought an amazing night was going out to the clubs and getting home no earlier than 3am, but now an amazing night is having a 7pm dinner with the people I love and getting slapped by my son Andrew as he’s laughing at Daddy.


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A Holiday Note

blog Dec 05, 2014

We are coming upon the holidays and bombarded by what to buy and what to eat and who to hang out with. We also put our dreams and goals on hold during December while we eat a lot, drink a lot, and wear stupid sweaters. The last thing that we want to do during the holidays is think about our waistlines, our hopes, our dreams etc….

After all, isn’t that what January is for? On January 1st, when we are all hung over and bloated, we realize things need to change. We unpack our dreams, our goals, our desire to lose 10lbs…and we feel ashamed.

Holidays are all about reflection, good food, good drinks and having an excellent time. But this time of year should not be about excess or going into debt because you want to make other people happy.

The holidays are a great time to get a jump start on everybody else that waits until mid-January to set up the next year. I’m not implying that you should lock yourself in your house, not hang out with your friends, or not go...

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Thanksgiving 2014

blog Nov 26, 2014

This year was one of the best years of my life: I moved to a slightly bigger house. I found out that my wife Leslie and I are having our second child. I watched my other son Andrew take his first steps. I published another book. I even snuck in a couple of trips with the guys. I have so much to be thankful for. Here is a brief list. (I have been doing this ever since I blogged for the USC football team back when Pete Carroll was the coach.)

  1. Watching my son sleep, take his first steps, and a hundred other things that only my wife and I care about.
  2. My amazing parents, who always take the time to make sure I’m OK.
  3. My amazing friends, especially Patrick Saylor, who I’ve known since second grade.
  4. Chris Stevenson, who is my speaking partner; we did some amazing work this year.
  5. Smile TV, who I’m talking with to produce a documentary about me and invited me to speak to four hundred people at Contagious Optimism LIVE, where I got to share the stage with two of my mentors,...
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An Amazing Couple of Days

blog Nov 20, 2014

On Friday morning, I woke up early because I was going to give a speech at USC (which is always on honor). A film crew from Smile TV came to record my speech. On top of everything else, my baby sister Sanaz was getting ready to give birth to my nephew. I woke up at 5:30 in the morning, took a shower, and met my speaking partner, Chris. We drove down the Pacific Coast Highway, and cut across the 10 freeway into downtown L.A.  When we arrived, I was greeted by the Smile TV crew and my former communication professor, Stacy Geck. (As Chris and I were getting mic’d up, we were cracking jokes about nothing in particular and I was wondering if our mics were on!) Then Jim Ellis, the Dean of the business school, walked in and introduced me to the class. When I was at USC, he was a marketing professor and we continued a fourteen-year relationship. It’s an honor to be invited as a guest speaker at USC, especially by Jim.

There was a time when I assumed that I could never...

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The Resources Exchange

blog Oct 31, 2014

Being amazing requires time, energy, money, love, inspiration, motivation, and many more resources. There are two types of resources: hard resources and soft resources.

Hard resources are quantifiable–they include time and money. Everybody has 24 hours in a day and a buck is a buck. They might have different meanings to different people, but they are tangible and quantifiable.

How you look at each resource is important to becoming amazing. Your relationship with time, money, knowledge, and other resources can propel you into an amazing life. When many high school students graduate, they have the choice of exchanging their time for money or investing their money and time into getting an education, which in the long run, will lead to an amazing life. Everybody has the choice every day to either just get by, keep up with the cycle, or invest their time, money, and energy into having an amazing life.

There are three types of activities you can perform with your resources. You...

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What is Your Job?

blog Oct 24, 2014

If you observed at a waiter at a restaurant (where else you find a waiter? Well, I guess maybe a bar or sporting event…) and asked yourself what his or her job is, your answer would probably be that they take orders, get them to the kitchen, and bring food and drinks to the table. It’s a lot more than that. A competent waiter has to recommend items, take special requests, be friendly to customers, make sure the kitchen isn’t overwhelmed, anticipate when the customer needs a refill or to-go container and many more little activities—the list is endless. There a good waiters, there are bad waiters, and then…there are amazing waiters. In any job there are the good, the bad, and the amazing. The first step to being amazing takes understanding what that means. To be amazing requires the knowledge that there is a regimen of activities, which must be executed on a regular basis whether you’re having a good day, or a bad day, or you have a hangover....

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The Process

blog Sep 19, 2014

I read about ten self-help articles every week.

Last week, I read an article by James Clear. He presented an idea that really hit home in my mind.  He said instead of focusing on achieving your goals, focus on building a process. That was very insightful to me because long-term goals can be very far away. He gave an example of a coach who has a goal of winning a championship. Instead of focusing on said goal, he focused on the process of what he needs to do every day in order to achieve his goal.  Even though he now focuses on the process, he’s more likely to win that championship. I love to speak.  I love to publish books.  I love to write.  There are a lot of activities that I need to perform in order for me to achieve my goals.  Some of them I like and some of them I dislike…and there are some parts of my job that are boring, like ordering postcards and other office supplies.

One of the mistakes that I made early in my career was...

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Never Forget The Fundamentals

blog Sep 11, 2014

On Sunday, I brought up my DVR and saw that I had an episode of 60 Minutes Sports recorded. My wife and son were taking a nap and the 49ers were destroying the Cowboys, so I decided to watch it.

The first story was about Peyton and Eli Manning, who were both coached by the same coach. Every year, they go back to David Cutliffe, who is now the head coach at Duke University. Cutliffe was Peyton’s QB coach at Tennessee and the head coach of Old Miss when Eli was QB there.

Every year before the NFL camps start, Eli and Peyton travel to Duke for a private tune-up, as the brothers call it. Watching it, you would think that both brothers were just beginning their careers.

There are two things that stand out in my mind. First, the fundamentals should never be ignored. The fundamentals are the keys to success! I have struggled with remembering and executing on the fundamentals all my career. It’s fun and exciting to get on stage, sell books in the back of the room, and give...

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David and Goliath

blog Aug 21, 2014

I was reading David and Goliath by Michael Gladwell who is one of my favorite authors. The book was about how perceived weaknesses bring out hidden talents.

There have been periods of my life where I assumed that my disability completely screwed me out of life. The more and more I that I write and speak I realize that my disability influences the way I think and the way I look at the world. That’s not to say that I  don’t wish I was not disabled, let’s not get carried away.

When I was in college, I started to look at how my disability affected my studies. I could not write stuff down, I could only listen. I could not study without assistance which forced me to study only when I could find help. I was lucky because my mom was there if I needed her. When I took tests, I had to dictate my answers and sometimes I had to repeat myself to people I only met 10 minutes before. Yet, I was doing very well, even making it on the dean’s list often. I asked...

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It’s Been Forty Years

blog Aug 14, 2014

Back in the summer of 1974 a young exchange student from Iran went back for the summer from Cal Poly Pomona in Southern California. When he went back home for the summer before his senior year, he told his mom that he wanted to meet a girl and marry her before he went back to Cal Poly for his senior year. His mom didn’t hesitate to start inviting all her friends with daughters to meet her son.

Two weeks before my father returned to America, he met my mom. This week, they are in Hawaii celebrating their 40th anniversary. With one grandkid and another two on the way (by the way, my wife Leslie is pregnant again and this is the first time I’m sharing it on the internet), they are as happy as ever.

If there are two people that understand the notion of sacrifice and love, it’s my parents. As hard and challenging it is to be disabled, in a way it’s harder to be the parent of a disabled child. Yet, they did everything in their power to make my sister and me feel...

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