TGIF: Sam Horn

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Happy Friday! I hope everyone had a great week of achievement this week. If this is your first time reading our blog, Welcome! You can read more about Velocity in the tabs above this post. If you’d like a daily dose of inspiration, like us on facebook or add us on twitter.

Our Achiever this week is the amazing Sam Horn. A six-time published author, public speaker, and a business dynamo, Sam is also an enthusiastic giver and a warm friend. Having met Sam personally, if you have a chance to see her speak or an opportunity to read her books, TAKE IT. Without further ado, Sam Horn!
Sam Horn, The Intrigue Expert, is an award-winning communication strategist with a 20 year track record of results with an international clientele including Intel, Cisco, Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), Young Presidents Organization (YPO), Fortune 500 Forum, NASA, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, KPMG and Capital One.

A couple other notes about Sam:

She is the author of 6 books from major publishers (Tongue Fu!®, POP!, ConZentrate, What’s Holding You Back? and the upcoming SerenDestiny) which have been translated into 17 languages, endorsed by Seth Godin, Stephen Covey, Tony Robbins, John Gray, Susan Jeffers, Jeffrey Gitomer and Ken Blanchard and featured in NY Times, Investors Business Daily, Boston Globe, and the Washington Post.

She’s a 17-time Emcee (and former Executive Director) of the Maui Writers Conference, who has worked alongside Hollywood Directors and bestselling authors including Frank McCourt, Ron Howard, Mitch Albom, Garry Marshall and top agents and editors in the publishing industry.
In 2009, I made a commitment to compete in and complete the Waikiki Rough Water Swim. This is a 2.35 mile swim in the open waters of the Pacific Ocean along Waikiki Beach in Oahu, Hawaii.
I’m reminded of two quotes:

Johnny Depp – “Nobody wants to go out mid-sentence.”

Frank Sinatra – “You gotta live every day like it’s your last because one day you’ll be right.”

It’s amazing how we can lose velocity in our life and get caught up in commitments and responsibilities. Swimming once defined me. But this thing that I loved so much got lost in the midst of my busy life as a business owner who’s often on the road speaking. I chose this goal because of something I saw one morning in my home town of Reston, VA. I live on a lovely lake, and every Memorial Day Weekend, we host a national open water swimming competition. From my porch, I could see the swimmers gathering near the starting line. The different age groups wore colored swim caps that indicated their age group and predicted finishing time.


The starter’s pistol fires and the first group jumps in the lake – a group of young, athletic swimmers competing to win.


The second group dives into the water – this time a group that is a few years older or not quite as fast.

This continued a number of times until the last group entered the race.


The 80 and above age group jumped in and cut through the water. I thought to myself, “80 year olds?! What am I doing sitting on my porch?”

What many people don’t know about me is that I used to swim competitively in college. In fact, I studied and majored in Recreation Administration, and paid my way through college by running recreation programs and coaching tennis and swim teams. I lived in Hawaii for 17 years and was in the ocean at least 4 times per week. Swimming was a big part of my life.

When you see 80-somethings out there being physically active, it reminds you of your own mortality. Not in a morbid way but in an “Am I taking advantage of my freedom and health or taking it for granted and wasting it?” kind of way.

I realized there were no barriers to entry to getting back into swimming. It’s not hard on your knees. It doesn’t matter how much you weigh or how out-of-shape you are. No expensive equipment. No excuses. Anyone can do it anytime they want.

Committing to a public event, race or competition and putting it on your calendar is the best way to get out of inertia and into motion.

Once you’ve literally and figuratively “signed up” and “paid up”, you’ve emotionally “signed on.” The goal becomes a given. Now, all you have to do is figure out how to reverse engineer from there how you plan to achieve it.

The best intentions of getting back into something you love (or starting something new) can fall by the wayside when dealing with the daily pressures of an obligation-packed life. Unless you have something tangible on your calendar you’re working towards that helps hold you accountable.

The Japanese have a strategic planning process known as Hoshin Kanri (which is literally translated to “shining metal, pointing direction” – or in other words, a compass). Part of the theory is that if you start with a problem and try to fix it, your mind will always remain focused on the problem which is a way of anchoring you in what was wrong.

But if you think of perfection (the future) vs. the problem (the past), you stay focused on your outcome, which means it’s no longer in question or in doubt. It’s assumed. Instead of getting distracted or detoured by daily “Should I – Shouldn’t I?” decisions, you’ve made up your mind to do this – all you have to do is stay on track.
I don’t look like a swimmer or an athlete right now (or then). If I let this be an obstacle, competing in and completing that race never would have happened.
Malcolm Gladwell once said, “All I ever see at gyms are fit people getting fitter.”
There are a lot of people who won’t train for a swim because they don’t like how they look in a bathing suit. Some people are discouraged from running a 10K or a half-marathon because they don’t look like the hyper-fit runners they see on the trail. Some people don’t go to the gym because they don’t want to look in the mirror or work out next to lean, hard bodies in spandex.

For those who may think, “I’m not an athlete,” I recommend Mariah Burton Nelson’s insightful and inspiring book, We Are All Athletes.
Doing it is its own best reward. For me, powering through the water is one of life’s great joys. It’s hard to believe something so rewarding – something that once defined you – is no longer a part of your life. Once you start swimming again, it’s as if nothing’s changed. When I’m swimming, I don’t want to be doing anything else. It’s its own best incentive.

My sons. Andrew volunteered to swim the race with me (see picture above). My other son, Tom, served as support crew. They both value their health, keep themselves fit and are wonderful role models for me to get up and get moving.

I celebrated with my sons and family friends after the race. I remember as if it were yesterday sitting at an ocean-side restaurant, debriefing the event and drinking iced-tea after iced-tea to rehydrate. It was such a perfect, blessed day. When you achieve something you’re proud of and get to share it with people you love, you are just lit up. What could be better?

Once it’s over, it’s important to put a new event goal on your calendar again.
The 1st thing you should do is sign up with Velocity! The 2nd best thing to do is to seek out an accountability partner to help you along the way. Find a buddy so on the days you’re little light on commitment, they will be there to get you in gear. And when they’re feeling a little lazy or unmotivated, you’ll be there.
Next, realize there is always somebody out there who wants to achieve a similar goal as much as you do – whether that’s participating in the Susan B. Koman Breast Cancer Walk, writing a book, or starting a business. You’re not alone. There are resources and networks available waiting for you to reach out.
On any given day, we have the freedom to get off the couch, pick a tangible goal and work toward it. And I am not using the word “work” casually. The benefits that come from establishing something meaningful and investing “sweat equity” to pull it off – no matter what – provides a recurring momentum in our lives. It provides velocity.
As test pilot Chuck Yeager said, “At the moment of truth; there are either reasons or results.” At the end of my life, I want results, not reasons for why I didn’t do what I knew was right and wanted to do.My mantra for this year is “contrast.” My goal is to do the opposite of my “always.”
It means looking at routines and habits and asking if they’re serving me or sabotaging me. So, if I normally focus on pragmatic ideas people can instantly use in their professional lives; I now include personal stories to balance that “neck up” intellect with embodied, heartfelt emotion.
I’ve spoken primarily in the U.S. (more than 30 states) so this year, I’m going on a speaking tour through Europe – to Russia, Germany, England, France, Spain Netherlands and beyond, and already have a relationship with British Airways.
As an entrepreneur, we often end up working solo; so I’ve become involved in a mastermind group and I’ve sought out strategic partnerships which have already enriched my life in ways better than I could have imagined.
I have always been grateful to do work I love that matters with people I enjoy and respect. Changing up patterns and committing to “Do the New” has made my personal and professional life even more fulfilling.

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