Telling Lies


I read once that if you want to get comfortable with telling lies to others, you need to get comfortable with telling lies to yourself.  Kind of chilling when you think about it. I agree with the analogy.

Now, what are these self-lies we tell ourselves?  In my case, during my days in the corporate world, it was performance.  For example, if I hit this number I will get an applause at the weekly staff meeting.  I would sit and find myself perspiring and feeling so much adrenaline at the thought of telling my peers how well my group was doing.  The lie I embraced was that age-old dysfunction of; “if I do this or that, I will be liked/loved.”  Did my peers like/love me because of my great feats?  No, and if some were of the flattering variety, it never lasted very long.

Telling, and believing, self-lies is a dangerous habit.  Like an awful addiction to any opiate.  You can never find the strength to stop. It can cripple you from finding and leading an Epic Life.  One scary part is found in how many people/messages are out there to fuel the habit. It ends when the habit births regret.

In the end, lies are lies, no way around it.

Lying to oneself is not only confined to the individual.  But creeps into the organizational world too.  Take the large corporation that proclaims, via marketing, that it values the client.  Ironically, though, its client service department can’t even return phone calls in a reasonable fashion.  The organization continues to print materials, hold town hall meetings, formats focus groups, but the truth is still the same; valuing a client is more of a fantasy.  And by the way, most loyal clients know this.

So what happens if we start embracing the truth versus the lie?  Here are some outcomes to consider:

  1. We can get down to the business of change-for the better.
  2. We’ll stop blaming the competition, our dads, the economy or some other phantasm for our poor results.
  3. Focus and happiness.
  4. A legacy colored in the brush strokes of love and action.
  5. Freedom!

I’m sure there are more outcomes to list, but the point remains for us to stop the lies.  Our Epic Life/Venture depends on it.

Why Men Don’t Value Women

Considering where we’re at in America (the world too) today, I felt moved to put this post from 2010 out again. I’m still learning…

Hospital sisters picnic beside the Katherine River, Northern Territory / Arthur Groom

I’ve been thinking lately about what we value and what we don’t.  This is important because our values do define our lives.

For example, if your career is what you value most, then everything (I mean everything) will be second to that.  I’m not writing to judge, just stating a reality.  It’s ironic how little values are considered in our current age.

The above brings me to why men (significant numbers) don’t value their women.  I know this post might generate some scathing comments, but I speak as a recovering jerk in the area of valuing my wife and her motherhood.

I worked, as many readers/subscribers know, in corporate America for many years.  The majority of that was at a senior level.  And yes, I drank the kool-aid, participated in the rah, rah sessions and terminated the employment of people who were deemed disposable.  I was paid well and thought (at times) my path was only going to get better.

During this time my wife gave up her career to raise our two children.  This decision was mutually agreed upon.  The idea of her being the primary care-giver seemed like the right thing to do.  To this day, I would say our children are the better for this decision.

But along the way I began to see our roles as separate and equal.  She took care of things at home and I took care of things career related.  There were times when we’d share the burdens, but I thought little about her struggles and work load.  After all, I saw it as her role/job.  The “taking things for granted” process settled in.

Many times she would call me at the office to vent or seek affirmation.  I gave her words, but not my heart.  Life went on, money was made and security (perceived) became the normal.  We lived this way for almost ten years, and then things changed.  My wife went back to work and corporate America said goodbye to me.   I became a man who did many different things (author, consultant and stay-at-home dad).  All of sudden the world looked strange.  For example, work on the book manuscript and make sure my son got to preschool.  Ironically, after about six months, I found myself longing for affirmation and encouragement from my wife for all of my hard work at home.  I felt like a man exposed by his ghosts.

I don’t claim that my experiences are unique or more important than other men.  But here are the reasons why many men don’t value their wives or motherhood:

  1. As men we are taught early on that money makes the world go round and you’d better work hard to get it.  Therefore, making money becomes part of our root system.  Like a tenacious weed.
  2. We assign roles without understanding or caring.  I made so many assumptions without taking the time to understand my wife’s greatest needs.
  3. We’re too busy (cop-out) to give the attention where it’s needed.  We decide that our wives are fine in our mind, and then we just move on.
  4. We don’t evaluate the magnitude of motherhood.  We don’t consider what our wives went through to carry and birth a child, let alone be the primary caregiver.
  5. Being a wife and mother doesn’t, in form, produce money.  Assigning value becomes tough and we just take it for granted.  If wives and mothers started being paid for what they deal with, we’d probably stand-up and take notice.  But it would be too late to applaud then.

The Eric that walked the halls of corporate America is dead.  The post-corporate America Eric is learning how to live and has been given a chance to be remade.  It’s very difficult to live differently.  But I have found a life worth living-Epic if I may so.

Don’t Trust The Beast



A re-post from 2010.

You coexist with your business.  It should not be your friend.  It is a beast and not meant to be trusted.  It demands much, but as it is with a circus lion, a chair and whip are in order.  To think of that animal in any other light only invites ruin.

Sadly, many entrepreneurs, corporate slaves and others have wrapped their identities around the beast.  It is a sad love affair.  Just like the lover who swears this is the last one of many, a broken heart sits in waiting.  By the way, you can know how tightly you’re wrapped by how much you think about the beast.  The more you think, the tighter the wrap.

This post is not meant to talk you out of your business pursuits.  As a matter of fact, it can be a fantastic tool for growth.  The issue is one of ownership, not should I or shouldn’t I pursue a business idea/career.

Here are some solutions to the problem(s):

  1. Buy yourself a chair and whip.  It might be in the form of cutting back on your hours or developing a fitness/exercise program.  If you’re wondering what those two have to do with managing your business, look at the statistics around those who work long hours and don’t pay attention to their health.
  2. Look failure in the face and don’t back down.
  3. Start working smarter and stop trying to do everything.  Rugged individualism may sound great in a speech, but it’s highly overrated.
  4. Re-evaluate your needs.  In America two-thirds of the economy is based on consumption.  Nothing wrong with consumption, but do you really need…
  5. Prepare for battle.  The beast will not like you taking back control.  This one is important.  If you’re not careful you might give up, but don’t.

5 Questions with Dr. Andrew Thorn, Author of Leading with Your Legacy In Mind

download (1)

This edition of 5 Questions features Dr. Andrew Thorn. Dr. Thorn wrote a guest post on legacy last year, so I was excited when I had the opportunity to interview him about his new book Leading with Your Legacy In Mind. I know you’ll love our conversation and the book as well.


In the preface for the book, you give a personal take on the struggle between career and family. What’s one strategy from the book that could help someone breakthrough?

Choose to be guided by purpose instead of passion. The purpose of your work is not to be passionate, it is to be useful, to be honorable, and to be of value to your community. When we align with our passion we are constantly caught in the struggle of trying to feed our own self-interests. When we align with our purpose we make a difference, we add value, and we connect our actions to our values.

In our society, fame (even on a small scale), money and status drive many of us to leave our legacy in the dust. Is legacy becoming a forgotten art?

We have forgotten what legacy means and so naturally creating a legacy is a forgotten art. Too often we confuse it with impact, but that is what others feel. We carry our legacy with us. It is the ultimate answer to the question “Who am I?” That is why it is so important for each of us to live and lead with our legacy in mind.

You have a chapter in the book addressing the move from change to growth. What’s that all about?

Change is always driven by external pressures. None of us change because we want to, or because we like to. We may tell ourselves that we do it for those reasons, but in our most truthful moments, we recognize that we only change when we have to. When we do for external reasons, we rarely can sustain the change.

Growth on the other hand is internally motivated. It is the answer to our deepest yearnings and aspirations. It comes about as a result of true desire. This is what makes growth easier to sustain. There are still challenges and trials along the way, but we are committed to our own idea, so we keep at it when the going gets tough.

I read recently, that organizations spend billions on leadership development annually. Are we getting a good ROI in developing leaders?

Sadly, most leadership development initiatives fail to live up to their promise. This is because they are generally focused on the wrong things. Leadership is not a competency or a skill. It is a behavior. Most organizations are ill equipped to measure and manage behavior, but they are very effective at measuring and managing performance. Naturally, and without a lot of effort, most leadership development initiatives become nothing more than just another performance management strategy. When a leadership initiative becomes tied to performance the game is over. Instead of reaching deep into authenticity, it remains an effort to cover up weaknesses and threats. To grow, our weaknesses and threats need to be exposed so that we can understand them and even use them to our advantage.

Another reason why so many initiatives fail is because we forget that leadership is an individual journey. This makes it difficult to teach it in a group setting, but organizations are afraid that it will be too expensive to work with each individual. They know they have to do something so they invest in ineffective strategies, just so they can check the box. We can never check the box on our leadership development efforts. It must be ongoing or we will create a stagnant culture. No one wants that.

Do you believe we’d have better balance in life, if we made legacy a top-of-mind matter? What kind of positive outcomes might we see there?

I think balance happens naturally, so the only time we feel unbalanced is when something is wrong. In life and in work, the unbalances we feel are directly related to our own inability to focus on the things that matter most. We are easily distracted by our business and busyness and we run out of time and energy to deal with what really matters. This is an easy problem to fix. All we need to do is adjust our focus. This doesn’t mean that we forget the things that matter least, which would be impossible because they are directly tied to short-term demands. It simply means that we take time each day to put the big picture in perspective and then do our best to allow our short-term actions to be aligned with bringing that picture to life. When we do this, our legacy is strengthened and we are happy. Most people are surprised by how easy it is to focus and recalibrate their life and work experiences.


Thorn_Press Materials_Headshot-NEW

A pioneer and leader in the field of work/life balance; Dr. Andrew Thorn is widely recognized for his breakthrough thinking on how to help people discover their sense of purpose and create greater meaning from their personal and professional experiences. He personally guided 2 of the top 50 business thinkers, currently listed on The Thinkers 50. His work extends to over 50 major corporate clients and over 250 Senior Leaders from many of the Fortune 500 Companies.

Graduating with a Masters in Business Administration from Pepperdine University, Dr. Thorn also holds a PhD in Consulting Psychology and a Masters in Personal and Executive Coaching.

He resides near Los Angeles, CA with his wife of 25 years, Stacy, and their seven children.

There’s One in Every Crowd

one in every crowd

Picture yourself going along and things are flowing as you like. You might even feel genuinely successful. And behold, out of nowhere (feels like that) comes the one. The one who wants to point out where you’re off or what you’ve missed.

There’s one in every crowd.

It’s not fair to have someone come in and point out the latest rumor regarding your project, or point out all of the terrible dangers ahead if you proceed. Alas, life is not…

I now look for these folks. Yep, that’s right, I look for them. I see them as a barometer of what I may be onto. Does my idea make anyone feel threatened or uncomfortable., Remember, Martin Luther King, Je. had folks tell him that forming boycotts was too risky. There are numerous examples of people who the status quo felt were dangerous. You might call them an annoyance, which they are, we just need to see the bigger picture. You don’t want your movie dominated by a jealous bit player. These types have often given up and given in. They don’t want to see you rise. The mission is too important to crumble under the weight.

I have a warning for you. The people who take on these roles in your story can be deceptive. Look at them as old hands who know how to upset the cart. They come to you subtly and in a caring manner. Don’t get sucked in. I would even advise you do something  daring. In your next encounter, ask a probing question for motive and then embrace silence. Don’t say a word no matter how uncomfortable it feels. Count 10 breaths in your head, stare into space, but do not speak. The uncomfortable silence is designed to bring out motive. Best that you know who and what you’re dealing with.

It’s not a question of if you’ll meet the “one in every crowd,” but when. The encounter after is what makes all the difference.

5 Questions with Dirk Knemeyer of Facio

Dirk Knemeyer 12


A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to chat with Dirk Knemeyer, founder of Facio. Always love the conversations I have with Dirk. So happy to finally share one of those with you. Enjoy!


What trends are you seeing in how organizations and employees are engaging via mobile and desktop technology?

The shift from “company phones” to allowing employees to use their personal phones for company business has been a big one. That was largely driven by the iPhone, where executives sort of strong-armed IT into allowing it and has trickled down through companies in the years since. Also, the rapid adoption of iPads and other tablets has been a bit of a surprise. The result of both these things is a surprisingly rapid shift toward major enterprise apps behaving with mobiles and tablets either in a truly native way or with experiences that are “as-if” native. This opens up rich possibilities for people to work differently. So many of us, for decades now, have sat behind a desk at a computer. Now that it is no longer structurally necessary we are also learning about how bad sitting all day is on our bodies, especially our hearts. So this is a moment where technology enables companies to re-think how knowledge workers actually work at a time where the physical damage our work does to us is being scientifically understood. So I think the workplace proliferation of alternative computing technologies will accelerate a trend toward non-traditional work environments such as from home and shared spaces. It should be fun to see.

 Can an individual, inside or outside of work, use your technology to measure and track their personal growth?

Yes. We designed Facio for both personal and professional use. On the personal side, each day you can record your happiness, effectiveness, and how well you are getting on with others. It is like a “quantified self for behavior”. Professionally, we have a wider range of 360 tools where both yourself and those you work with can report on your behaviors, skills and natural preferences. Viewing your data over time is an important part of the story, to help you understand yourself and those important to you. It is all web-based so, unlike other similar tools you may have taken now-and-then, this lets you and anyone you give permission to view really nice graphics showing a slice of who you are.

 What’s the biggest obstacle in using technology to improve performance in life and work?

Commitment. Using software to improve performance shares a lot psychologically in common with things such as a workout regiment or diet. If it becomes a habit and you are committed to that it is fantastic. But it is easy for people to forget, or miss some time, and just not get back fully into it. For those that do, though, the impact on their lives is profound.

What inspired you to start Facio?

I’ve never fit in. I was a high school drop out, sent to reform school. I became an entrepreneur because after a couple of years at a company I simply didn’t fit any more, quitting or getting fired out of restlessness, essentially. I was married at 18 and divorced at 25. All of this happened because I didn’t understand who I was. The culture, the education system…forget that it is not designed for someone like me. It did not even give me knowledge as to who I was, why I didn’t fit in, and where perhaps I could fit.

I’m an extreme example, but look at the work world. More than 70% of people are not engaged in their jobs. That is real research, from Gallup. Engaged employees work harder, work better, and are generally happier in their personal lives as well. The fact that less than 30% of us are engaged is literally a tragedy. It is lives that could and should be happier. It is companies that are getting far less from the people they are paying. This is not rocket science; it is solvable. I want to solve it.

You’re an entrepreneur who has succeeded on more than one venture, what’s been your greatest lesson learned?

“Greatest” is always a hard one. I think it is the importance and value of business partners. I’ve had at least one co-founder in every venture I’ve ever done. The ones that have been least successful are those where one of the principals is less involved. The times I’ve had my greatest success is when it is two or three people who are “all in” and working together as a team toward the shared goal. For me, at least, it is simply essential.


Beginning with his university training and culminating in 18 months of extensive research building up to the launch Facio, founder Dirk Knemeyer is certified in the MBTI®, Hogan Assessments®, Everything DiSC® and the Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument®, and has made understanding the human condition his personal passion. In addition, Dirk has worked at the vanguard of the software industry. He is the co-founder of Involution Studios, which has carved out a reputation as a best-of-breed choice for companies who aspire to offer the best apps in the world. 

What Entrepreneur Means

I have written many times that everyone is an entrepreneur (risk taker).  The size and scope varies from person to person.  The place where it happens can be different too.

I was in a conversation with a CEO yesterday about how we've moved to a place where if you don't see yourself as an entrepreneur, you'll be left behind.  This is tough work. Many, I know, haven't accepted that we no longer live in an industrial age.  Accept is the right word to look at here.

I've been an entrepreneur for 6 years.  And as I think about that conversation yesterday, I realize that entrepreneurism did something I didn't expect when I started the conscious journey.

Entrepreneurism reintroduced Eric Pennington to Eric Pennington. Regardless of how much money I make, how many people experience what I offer or whether applause comes in waves, the reintroduction is a difference-maker.

5 Questions with John Baldoni, Author of The Leader’s Pocket Guide

                The Leader's Pocket Guide

I had the pleasure of doing this interview with leadership expert, John Baldoni, who is the author of the new book The Leader's Pocket Guide a few weeks ago. I've always admired his wisdom and energy. Enjoy!

your book you note the importance of what people think, but in a way that
builds a solid reputation. What’s at stake in doing this?

is good because it points us in the right direction. But when it comes to
leadership, action counts. Leaders put their thinking into gear when they lead
by example.

important is critical thinking to the growth of a leader?

must often choose between two good alternatives. Critical thinking teaches
leaders how to balance alternatives as well as to put things into context.

role does hubris or arrogance play in hindering a leader from impacting their
organization in a positive way?

a Greek word, is the condition by which a leader is blind to his or her faults
and often leads to living in a bubble, surrounded by yes people. This is never
a good thing.

of the last tips in the book mentions the importance of finding interests
outside of work. What keeps leaders from doing this?

time. time… Anyone in a leadership position needs to recharge themselves. A
hobby, a trip or close associations with family and friends can do this.

In your mind, what
organizations are doing the best job of developing and growing leaders?

than focus on names of companies I focus on the many capable leaders in
organizations large and small who are making a positive difference in the lives
of their customers, employees and customers. They are legion.


JOHN BALDONI, president of Baldoni Consulting LLC, is an internationally recognized executive coach, speaker, and author. In 2011, Leadership Gurus International ranked John No. 11 on its list of the world’s top 30 leadership experts. He is a regular online contributor to CBS MoneyWatch, Inc, and Harvard Business Review.