George J. Ferko V

A collection of posts from the adventures and day to day activities of George Joseph Ferko V.

Modesty in Conversation: Ben Franklin’s Persuasion Techniques

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“Immodest words admit but this defense, That want of modesty is want of sense.” – Benjamin Franklin: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

I make conscious effort to sound sure of my opinions. I think confidence in conversation is looked at as a valuable.  I think confidence gives greater persuasive power in conversation, sales, leadership, and relationships.  Confidence and certainty might play a positive role occasionally, but it has a negative side. It prevents me from learning the opinions and knowledge of others, creates enemies that are silent rather than vocal about their opposition, and can cause others to lose attention because there is no debate to be had and nothing valuable to say.


“… as the chief ends of conversation are to inform or be informed, to please or persuade, I wish well-meaning, sensible men would not lessen their power of doing good by a positive, assuming manner….”

Constant curiosity is a core principle I’ve always tried to keep in mind.  My firm opinions probably have made others less likely to debate me and caused me to learn less.  Franklin said both teaching and learning are goals of conversation.  The person with no modesty doesn’t learn and I have failed to learn things because of this fault.  Immodest people become less knowledgeable than their peers because their peers never raise their voices to argue. This lack of knowledge only leads to being more opinionated and falsely certain.  Speaking in definite or certain terms might not be the opposite of being curious, but they might be inversely correlated

“If you wish information and improvement from the knowledge of others, and yet at the same time express yourself as firmly fix’d in your present opinions, modest, sensible men, who do not love disputation, will probably leave you undisturbed in the possession of your error.”

Certainty in conversation creates silent opposition instead of vocal debate. If there is opposition I want to know that it is there instead of it sneaking up on me. When I make mistakes I definitely want others to help me correct them. I think it is interesting that someone who is polarizing in the public eye can create outcry from their opposition, but there would likely be no private debate between two individuals with opposing fixed opinions.  Since most people don’t hold a public position I think having a fixed opinion has almost no value for the majority of people.

“For, if you would inform, a positive and dogmatical manner in advancing your sentiments may provoke contradiction and prevent a candid attention.”

When it’s clear that I am seeking the opinion of others they show candid attention. They have a valuable response because they believe that I am looking for their opinion instead of just sharing mine. Even if I have no desire to learn from someone and my goal is to teach them or persuade them gaining their candid attention has value and because of this trying to learn from every is important to being influential .  Franklin wraps up his thoughts on these ideas with a quote for Alexander Pope: “Men should be taught as if you taught them not, And things unknown propos’d as things forgot.”

I am going to commit to using phrases like, “I think,” “I’m not sure but,” and “What do you think about…?” moving forward.

The Only Strategy: Musashi Miyamoto’s Legacy

The one strategy worth spending a lifetime mastering is recognizing how to win… There is nothing that can’t be turned into an advantage. A broken sword, an enemy, an angry co-worker, or a dismissive loved one. All have a use. It is our duty to find that use and capitalize on it.  Complaints serve no use and no time should be spent on things that have no use….

Source: The Only Strategy: Musashi Miyamoto’s Legacy

Living 100% Out of Your Comfort Zone: Thoughts on Richard Branson

Source: Living 100% Out of Your Comfort Zone: Thoughts on Richard Branson

Sir Richard Branson has put himself in a constant state of intentional discomfort.  His life story is madness.  He is the model for growth through making yourself uncomfortable.  He has said,  “I don’t think it would be much fun to not to be outside my comfort zone.” His overall business model and approach to life seems to be that if he tries enough new things, signs enough new artists, opens up enough new locations, or starts enough new business something is going to stick.  It  makes you wonder if he realized when he was a young man how much of it would stick….

Read the rest at Living 100% Out of Your Comfort Zone: Thoughts on Richard Branson

7 Steps to Developing and Sharing a Vision for Your Team

Source: 7 Steps to Developing and Sharing a Vision for Your Team

1. Make Your Message About Others
A vision should inherently and directly benefit the people meant to be lead by that vision. As leaders each of our visions should be about serving others. Whether it be stockholders, employees, or customers the people we sell our vision to should be the ones that benefit from that vision.

Sharing a goal of being the number one office in the nation, making it into the Fortune 500, or hitting some revenue or sales goal is not vision. That is just goal sharing and goal sharing does not inspire anyone. To inspire other people to take action those people must know that the actions they take directly:

  1. Improve their own situation personally, professionally, or financially. And in that order of importance.
  2. Improve the world for the better in some way so they are making a contribution to the greater good of mankind.

Visit the original post to read more! 7 Steps to Developing and Sharing a Vision for Your Team

Taking Total Control

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“Circumstance does not make the man, it reveals him to himself.” – James Allen, As a Man Thinketh

James Allen sounds an awful lot like a stoic philosopher when he writes this famous quote. Too often we focus on how we wish our biggest difficulties didn’t exist or never happened or weren’t approaching, but the reality is that we should be grateful for the worst circumstances in our lives. These circumstances are our opportunity to reveal to ourselves our own character and to grow our selves into the people we want to be. Without massive almost unbearable challenges we would never know if we are the people we think and tell others we are.

Guarding the truck outside of a small trading post somewhere in the Northern part of the Limpopo province in South Africa. Taking control of whether or not we get to keep our bags.

Guarding the truck outside of a small trading post somewhere in the Northern part of the Limpopo province in South Africa. Taking control of whether or not we get to keep our bags.

When I read the book Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankel I started to realize that in his struggle through the worst death camps of the holocaust he came to find how powerful his love for his wife was. His entire future and present had been taken from him and his existence sometimes hinged on something as trivial as a Nazi SS guard pointing him to the left or to the right. In this existence he came to realize that he loved his wife so much that it didn’t matter whether she was alive or dead anymore. Her memory was enough to bring him joy and control over how he felt. Even when he was undergoing unspeakable tortures. Sometimes a man cannot know who he truly loves and what he truly values until his entire life, liberty, and future have been taken away. Only then are his most valued memories revealed to himself.

We always have control of the decisions we make and we always have a choice of how to feel.  Whether we are enduring the worst of humanity or a traffic jam how we respond and how we behave is a choice that we have to make and that choice defines our character. James Allen explains that a person of good character will only encounter good circumstances. I’ve always struggled with this idea that our inner being creates the environment around us and that we need to take complete responsibility for everything that happens in our lives.

There are so many things that as a young man I was sure were bad and were not my fault. Personal struggles with bad habits formed around everything from studying to alcohol, difficulty with relationships and especially ending them at the right time, difficulties with money and debt, and difficulties with leadership and taking responsibility for others. I am guilty of, as I hope most people are, blaming others and blaming my environment for when things did not go as I would have imagined were ideal.  I think that we need to eventually admit to ourselves that there is no real ideal outcome.  Especially for people who go through life obsessed with movement in some direction.  For these people there is no outcome that eliminates the positive dissatisfaction that comes from their healthy level of hunger.  After years of struggling with taking responsibility for things I perceived as being bad and at least in a large part not my fault I’ve come to some conclusions.

  1. Circumstances aren’t inherently good or bad. We decide whether they are good or bad and whether we are fortunate or unfortunate.  Accepting the perception of others about whether a situation is good or bad will only hold you back from progress. 
  2. The greater the difficulty the more change you will undergo to meet that challenge. Since stagnation feels so universally depressing and improvement is universally rewarding difficulties and struggles are almost always at their core a good thing.
  3. Development of inner vision, clarity of purpose, and frequent exercising of will power ensures your ability to recognize the good nature of any challenge and helps you make the move from dreading challenges to accepting them to finally seeking them out in all aspects of your life.

This philosophy has helped me and continues to help me as I take on greater and greater challenges. I hope it helps you as well.

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Discipline Always Beats Motivation

Photo by Vern. CC. Changes Made. Photo by Vern. CC. Changes Made.

We allow ourselves to use not feeling motivated as a reason to not get things done. How often do we tell ourselves, “I just don’t feel like doing this today. I just don’t feel motivated.” Motivation gets mistaken as a good thing and we even look to the leadership of others who make us feel motivated, but we have all been mislead.

Motivation is a feeling that we allow to take power over our decisions and our actions. Motivation only opens us up to having a new excuse for not getting done what we need to get done.

Motivation is in the hands of others and our environment and from the principles of stoicism we know that we should always put most of our focus on things that we have a high level of control over. Other people can change our emotional state and change whether or not we feel motivated. It doesn’t make sense to allow our performance to be dependent on something that is so fickle. Motivation can be thrown off by what we’ve eaten that morning or by hunger if we haven’t eaten. Motivation makes us think about whether or not we slept enough to be in the right state or if we just need to exercise a little more each week to have the right amount of energy.  Motivation can be destroyed when things go wrong and can make us feel complacent when everything goes right. Motivation is not a friend, it is an enemy.

Every time we rely on motivation or being motivated to get things done we stray further away from the real core abilities that allow us to accomplish.

Why do we need motivation to do the things we are suppose to do? The answer is we don’t. We have just become reliant on it because it feels good without us having done anything at all. For most people motivation precedes action so to be in a motivated state means to feel good despite having not yet done anything at all in some cases. This in itself is a contradiction to a healthy internal system of risk-reward where we reward ourselves for actions we have taken and decisions we have made rather than just feeling good.

A much better friend to the high achiever is discipline. Disciplined is just something that we are. A disciplined person has habits and strategies to ensure that they follow through on their commitments, plans, and intentions despite what happens in the world around them or how they are feeling. They aren’t unreasonable inhuman machines. If their grandmother dies they mourn her loss and they spend time with family, but they achieve anyway. Their world and sense of purpose isn’t tied into whether or not everyone was nice to them today or whether or not they slept perfectly the night before. A disciplined person wakes up everyday and does things because they have decided they need to get done.

In the pursuit of living a happy fulfilled life I think we all should learn to ignore motivation. With a solid amount of clarity about what it is we want to achieve and why those things are important to achieve for us it’s much easier to just form habits and strategies that we just execute out of discipline.  We are creatures of habit after all and in this way achievement doesn’t need to be left up to chance or up to others be we can take complete responsibility for our own achievement.

Successful Businessmen Say Persistence Drives Success – Growth Talk

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This is the first article in a series of articles titled “The Quotable Leader”.

A true leader is one who understands the importance of allowing others to lead once in a while and can absorb knowledge in the various ways that life presents information. Sometimes our greatest lessons are learned through the experiences of others. We can learn from the mistakes and successes of others, and combined with our own life experiences, use this knowledge to become leaders in our own rite. That is what The Quotable Leader series is all about. Our writers, who are striving every day to become leaders in their own lives, have taken a moment to share their most inspirational quotes with you. Through this series we hope you will gain some insight on what Growth Talk, Inc. is all about and maybe even gain some inspiration for your own personal growth. Every great leader has one motivational moment that tells them they can do anything they put their mind to; we hope these stories help you find yours.  

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This simple quote guides me every time I ask myself what it takes to be successful.  As human beings we have a tendency to complicate what it takes to be successful, but at our core we all know that the only difference between failure and success is persistence.

I recently started reading a book, technically it is classified as a guide, titled Demystify Your Fear by Peter Shallard.  You can get this book for free by visiting his website  Peter says that only five percent of entrepreneurs make their business profitable within their first year of business and it is the entrepreneurs who fail, but keep fighting anyway that become successful.

Read more….

Unlock Limitless Energy Through Ultimate Vision

Bottom line up front: Building a vision for an organization or yourself that revolves around numbers and results can always fall apart, but finding your core ideology and building from it will always guarantee success.

I received my start in business, and learned about my passion for leadership, through selling Cutco knives and coaching others on how to do the same.  The company has shown me how much I love growing as a person and helping others to grow and monetize that growth by selling an amazing product.  Although many of my ideas on growth come from internal reflection and outside reading and have nothing to do with my experiences with Cutco, I have to admit that this concept of creating an entire organization straight from my vision and creating my vision from my own core ideology was spawned entirely from a short and informal talk by one of the great leaders of the Cutco world, Earl Kelly.

This year our company has experienced great losses in the form of many managers leaving our company and correspondingly we have also faced great losses in profits.  As the company goes through its own failures I have also been going through some major failures with regard to my abilities as a leader and a businessperson.  The company’s failures could not have come at a more opportune time for me because now, as I think about rebuilding myself and my organization, great leaders like Earl Kelly are also thinking about rebuilding.  I have someone whose lead I can follow as I began to recreate what my organization is all about.

On the afternoon of September 20th Earl introduced me to a business concept that has forever changed the way I plan and build:

1.       Allow the core ideology to drive your company

2.       Do not let profit be your main focus

The instant after Earl said these words I realized a strong ideology that moves my team and moves me to the very core of my being was exactly what I was missing.  My vision was not strong enough.  In the past I had relayed to my team that I wanted financial success for them, and growth, and significance and we had tied that into our goals as a team and talked about what it would feel like to be the best sales team and the influence that our financial success would bring us.  We had envisioned how this would feel and we set goals and we worked toward them, but here was the problem – our goals were centered on our results rather than on upholding our core ideology. That was an enormous mistake.  The question I should have been asking myself was:

“Why did you want financial success in the first place?”  

It is no secret that great companies become great because of great leaders and if you want to be a great leader then you must have your own ideology and your own vision developed to a point of absolute clarity.  If you are like me and you consider yourself an agent of change then not only do you create new ideas, but you draw your feeling of significance from teaching your innovations to others and seeing their worlds change for the better as well.  That is why I wanted financial success.  I wanted others to ask me what I did so that I could teach them.  I craved an audience and I believed and I knew that my audience would expand if I was financially successful.  This is true, but it is also a major mistake.

A company’s vision should never hinge on whether or not it is successful financially, just as your personal vision for yourself should not and just as your vision for any of your collaborations should not.  A strong vision produces financial success as a byproduct, but the origins of the vision are something much more perpetual.  So the question I began to ask myself and you should ask yourself is:

“What would your world have to look like for you to want to commit all of your energy to it?”

I don’t mean what excites you or what feels good or what is rewarding.  I mean what do you have to do everyday in order for you to hate going to sleep because you can’t keep working and keep pressing forward.  You don’t have to choose to stop sleeping or break up with your girlfriend or divorce you wife if you create this world around you, but what does it look like anyway?  For me this thought process turned into one of my personal daily mantras:

“Every day I will explore every way I can to find people whose development I am excited to devote all of my energy to.”

There is power in a personal mantra.

Now every day I can wake up and repeat this mantra to myself.  The importance of every task I encounter throughout the day can be weighed by how much it ties into my vision.  The power of having this absolutely clarity of purpose is unmistakable. Every single action that I undertake throughout my day is in some way related back to this mantra and this gives me an enormous amount of energy as it should anyone else who takes the time to self-reflect and discover their vision.

The thing about forming my vision and discovering my purpose is that I still don’t know what my purpose is.  I’ve given up on finding my purpose and all that I ask myself is:

“What would give me the most energy?”

Ask yourself the same question.  If everything in your life was centered on one goal that would give you limitless energy because of the excitement you have about reaching that goal what would the goal be?

Now create your vision and remind yourself of it every day.