How Our Children Will Achieve in the Workplace

In my opinion, we don't succeed in the workplace.  We achieve in the workplace.  Success implies that we have reached the end.  We don't want to plant the idea in our mind that one success is the ultimate, that we have reached our capacity for success.  We determine that we have succeeded when we are ready to end our workplace journey.  At that time we can look back and determine our level of success.  Until then we want to continue to achieve new things.

Dr. Ben Carson, author of  Gifted Hands - The Ben Carson Story,  writes that "Success is determined not by whether or not you face obstacles, but by your reaction to them. And if you look at these obstacles as a containing fence, they become your excuse for failure. If you look at them as a hurdle, each one strengthens you for the next.”

To achieve in the workplace you must continue to meet your employer's or your customer's expectations in four areas:

    1.  Performance - find ways, large and small, to inspire those around you as well as to be a champion at your job.

    2. Trust - every action you take should deepen your employer's reliance on you.

    3. Consistency - be aself-starter, someone who understands the mission and knows what to do every second of every day.

   4. Deliver peace of mind - be great at 1, 2 and 3.

The great actor, writer, comedian and musician, Steve Martin, when asked how to achieve in Hollywood, said, "Be so good that they can't ignore you."  That's what an inspired performance is all about.  Learn as much as you can about your job, expand your knowledge, become a leader by setting a good example and make yourself invaluable.

Prove that you can be trusted by silently communicating your core.  Your employers and your customers will watch you carefully, just as you observe them, and they will determine by your actions whether you will earn their trust.  Outfluence coined the term "Constant Messaging" which references the fact that everything we do sends a message to anyone within our sphere of influence.  Learning to control your message while also being aware of the incoming messages of others is at the foundation of trust. 

How can we consistently demonstrate our commitment to mission?  Let's look at it from the perspective of an employer evaluating the value of a prospective employee.  In my book Outfluence, the Better Way to Influence, I describe how NBA scouts assess a college player's assets.  Here's what I wrote:  NBA scouts have an interesting method of assessing a player’s assets. They ask five questions about a college basketball prospect:

1. Does he have a weapon? For example, the “sky hook” that Kareem Abdul Jabbar had in his day.

2. Does he have a position? Can he play either guard, center, or forward so well as to leave no doubt as to what position he should play?

3. Can he get his own look? In other words, can he work the court in order to get a shot at the basket from his highest percentage spot on the floor?

4. Can he defend his position? A player has to move his feet quickly in order to stay in front of his opponent and keep him from scoring, or at least to make it difficult for him to score. It takes commitment to play good defense.

5. Does he “get it”? Can he lead? Does he have a work ethic? Is he responsible? Will he be a team player?

You can make the same assessment about yourself. A prospective employer will want to know the same things about you that the basketball scout wants to know about a player. When making your personal assessment here are a few basic questions you will want to address:

1. Do you have a weapon? What makes you nearly impossible to replace?

2. Do you have a position? What’s your specialty?

3. Can you get your own look? Are you self-sufficient? Are you a self-starter?

4. Can you defend your position? Do you know your stuff? Can you express yourself?

5. Do you “get it”? Are you a responsible individual? Are you a team player?

These five questions get right to the heart of the matter, don’t they? To begin your assessment, make an honest determination of your attributes. Next, evaluate the requirements of the position to which you aspire. Finally, formulate a plan to fill in any gaps between your current attributes and the requirements of that position.

Peace of mind is what every employer wants every employee to bring to his or her business.  Peace of mind can only be delivered by an individual who has developed a strong set of personal ethics, a person who is confident, aware, educated and is able to communicate well in any circumstance.  The Outfluence program You Are Here . . . Now What? teaches high school students how and why to develop those attributes.  We teach them how to persist in pursuit of their goals and we teach them the skills needed to complete the pursuit.

Psst... Pass It On.


My wife and I were grocery shopping. A young boy was standing idly in front of a customer ticket-generating machine we wanted to access. My wife, in a gentle, friendly manner said "Excuse me, sir, may I sneak in front of you for a second?" The little boy looked up at her as he stepped aside, and she said "I like your hat." The little boy smiled and said thank you.

Now, this was a perfectly innocent exchange. The little boy learned how to interrupt someone in a positive way and he had a nice moment with an adult. The two adult women with him didn't see it that way. They looked at my wife with daggers in their eyes and, as the saying goes, if looks could kill . . .

This event occurred weeks post-Ferguson and days post-New York City, both locations having experienced police-involved deaths.

25 years earlier a similar incident happened to my wife in a grocery store. Two young children were shopping with their mother. My wife struck up a conversation with them. Their mother accurately interpreted the silent communicators of friendship and sincerity and she used her life experiences in a positive way and chose to recognize an opportunity for friendship. Those two children eventually graduated from college and became life-long friends of our family.

What are we passing on to our children? Are we passing on the mistakes of our predecessors or are we teaching them how to build on the blocks of success that have been achieved in the midst of fits of violent disharmony?

In our program for high school students titled "You Are Here . . . now what?" we teach communication from the perspective of the sender of the message as well as from the perspective of the receiver of the message, and we spend time discussing the art of crafting a message. We meet with the students for one hour per week. Communication is taught over an entire semester each of the four high school years. We cover communication in great detail, all types of communication, and we bolster it with activities. When we are finished, students are armed with the tools needed to accurately interpret messages and they are able to respond appropriately.

I will never forget a lesson learned early in life. An elderly gentleman told me, "Son, you will always get exactly what you're looking for." What he meant was if you are looking to pick a fight with someone you will find a reason to fight. If you are looking to overlook imperfections and make a friend, you will find a way to make a friend. The youngest among us are looking to adults as examples of how to live life. We are certainly not perfect examples. We make mistakes. Our children will learn our lessons, good and bad, as we pass them on.

For additional information about Outfluence, LLC or to learn how to bring You Are Here . . . Now What? to your high school, visit our Contact Page, and drop us a line.

"False Sense of Security" in MD's Educational Needs


From the Washington Post:

"EDUCATION OFFICIALS in Maryland and the District had pretty similar responses to the release of test scores showing that most high school students in the two jurisdictions are not on track to graduate ready for college or careers. “Obviously, this is a cold shower. There’s a lot of work to be done,” said Maryland Board of Education member Chester Finn. “These results are not easy to see, and certainly we have a lot of work to do,” said D.C. State Superintendent Hanseul Kang. As sobering as the results are, they also must be seen as a credit to efforts to require new rigor in Maryland and D.C. classrooms and provide honest assessments of what students have learned.

The first results of testing on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC — geared to the heightened academic standards of Common Core — were released Tuesday. In Maryland, only 31 percent of studentsmet proficiency standards for Algebra I and 40 percent of students met the standard for 10th-grade English. In the District, 27 percent of students were proficient in 10th-grade English and 12 percent met standards for geometry. The dismal first-year results mirror the experiences of other states that switched to PARCC and had been anticipated by officials who nonetheless recognize the value of tests that accurately measure college or career readiness."

“Why are we here?” Maryland’s interim superintendent of schools, Jack R. Smith, asked. “Because we raised expectations considerably.” That inflated scores from previous state-administered tests did not reflect what graduating students need to know could be seen in the large number of students required to take remedial classes before they could enroll in credit classes at Maryland community colleges. And, as Maryland officials ruefully learned this week with release of scores on another national test, gamesmanship with the assessments does great disservice to the educational needs of students. Maryland was the only state to have falling scores on the Nation’s Report Card in both reading and math and in both grades tested; one factor cited was the exclusion in previous years of high percentages of students with disabilities or English-language learners who would lower scores.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) spoke about “a false sense of security” that was created by exclusion of these students. He could just as easily have been talking about how inflated scores from undemanding tests allowed students to coast through school and graduate without the knowledge needed for life. Maryland and D.C. officials are right in setting ambitious new goals for students, and these first-year test results, while disappointing, should not discourage those efforts.

Removing Obstacles

"Silver Oak Academy is a residential program that inspires learning, growth and positive change for at-risk and disadvantaged youth. Silver Oak utilizes evidence-based practices and cognitive behavioral approach, and is guided by our belief that each youth has strengths."

Silver Oak Academy opened in 2009. The Keymar, Maryland sleepy country community which surrounds the 65-acre Academy was anxious but welcoming. Silver Oak's predecessor closed following the tragic death of a resident/student several years earlier.

I attended an event at the Academy last evening. Local government officials, residents and other interested citizens gathered to discuss security policies and to receive an update on the status of the program. Community support for the work Director Kevin MacLeod and his staff have been doing was overwhelmingly positive. Stories of the community volunteering at the Academy, attending events, and generally supporting the resident/students at Silver Oak were unabashedly shared.

Kids, teenagers, are placed at Silver Oak Academy because they broke the law. Drugs, assault, petty theft are among the violations. The kids are removed from an environment of obstacles with little to no hope for anything productive into an environment of love, structure, discipline, expectations. It's a difficult learning environment for a very few who are sent elsewhere if behavior becomes an issue but most graduate from the Academy and move on to great opportunities. For example, of 15 recent graduates, 6 were offered college scholarships. Seven students are moving into the Navy SEALS program.

It was exciting to listen to the stories of the neighbors surrounding Silver Oak. They talked about their fondness for the residents/students, their pride in their accomplishments, their joyful support of them as they slowly move forward and embrace community. Living an others-focused life is incredibly rewarding, and the residents/students at Silver Oak Academy are discovering it every day.

Outfluence, LLC, is the developer of "You Are Here . . . now what?" a soft skills and leadership program for middle school and high school students. or call Kay Betz, MBA, 410.365.0741 for information.

Day 2: Teachers Act, Students Win

Astute educators with an eye to the future embrace opportunities to win on behalf of their students.  On the second day of a recent implementation of our program for high school students titled "You Are Here . . . now what?" a teacher who was observing said, "I just have to learn your program!"

He noticed immediately the impact our professionals were having on the students.  They were engaged, they were interested, they were learning.  Our program prepares students to persist in the pursuit of their educational (and later, workplace) assignments and complete them successfully. 

Dr. Nancy Grasmick, former Maryland School Superintendent, recently wrote an article in which she said, "It is past time for us to design and implement a new high school model that is innovative, technologically savvy and focused on the interrelatedness of knowledge and skill in the 21st century and which teaches grit and perseverance. American high schools must undergo a radical sea change if they are to maximize the potential of every student and meet the workforce needs of corporate America."

If you are an educator, I encourage you to contact Outfluence, LLC at or call Al Betz at 410.365.0742 to schedule an introduction to our program. 

 (Designed by professionals, tested in 50+ years of life experience and in 20 years of classroom application, You Are Here . . . now what? works.)

Tweet Your Heart Out.

75% of businesses own a company page, like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

But only 69% of that percentage actually post.

Who cares? Well, it seems, everyone does nowadays.

A shocking 73% of Americans use social media today. (1) That's a large potential audience for your business. And not everyone is micro-blogging about what brand of dental floss they use, or Instagraming their duck lips. For the business professional, social media can be the most valuable tool in your kit, whether you are an owner, a marketer, or just a member of the workforce.

In the business world, the quickest way to sell  is through visibility. The consumer sees your product, likes it, and thus considers buying into it. Social media can be your best introductory 'handshake'. You  present your cause the way you want it to be seen, more easily than ever before. Most sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram are free to use, which effectively eliminates other costly methods meant to increase visibility, like newspaper ads, or radio segments. 

You also have the opportunity to attract more customers. In 2013, 52% of all marketers attracted new customers via Facebook alone. (2) The relationship between the company and the consumer has become closer, and easier to nurture, with the advent of immediate personalized messages.

Customer service is easier than every before, too. Every consumer can reach out, and feel like they are safe in your company's hands. Check this out:

Possibly your greatest advantage, when using social media, is the ability to observe your audience first hand. What do they need? How can you better serve them? These are questions your marketing department is asking themselves everyday, and now we have exact answers. Got a new idea? New product? Share it with your followers and friends, and get instant feedback. You can also distinguish your group of people with a hashtag, like #Outfluence, to promote a feeling of unity, and keep up with everyone's latest  point of view.

"If you can write with a smile and insert emotion into your respectful and coherent messages, you are again sending a silent message. The person you are communicating with will know that he or she is important and worth the extra time you take to get the message just right."
-Al Betz, Co-founder of Outfluence

There is such a thing as online etiquette, though. For example, you may want to avoid doing this:

And this.

Bottom line? Start Tweeting.

Need help? Have questions? Chat with us today on Twitter @OutfluenceLLC, or visit our contact page We are always happy to help you.


(1) According to


Project Investment, Maximize Potential

So you started your novel, your new business venture, your blog. Congratulations! Did you BEGIN with commitment, with passion, with real inspiration? Are you now wondering ...what happened? Where do I go from here? How can I transform this into a success?

We can help.

The Event: How to Finish What You Start Workshop

FALL 2016  |  Westminster, Maryland

Presented by: Outfluence®, LLC

Three of Outfluence®'s four dynamic success speakers chat together about the agenda for the exclusive upcoming event: How to Finish What You Start, scheduled for Fall 2016 in Maryland. Graduates, employees, companies, entrepreneurs, anybody and everybody is welcome to attend.

To register for this exclusive upcoming event, please visit our store.

We LOOK FORWARD to see you at the workshop!

*Group pricing is available

The Hazards of Not Finishing What You Start

It's insane!  Insane, I tell you!  "Unfinished work is debt.  It's debt because we've incurred costs and spent money building stuff but it's delivered no value yet.  It hasn't even started being paid back.  Like debt, too much unfinished work, or unfinished work that has been in progress for a long time, is too much debt and needs to be tackled."  That's what Kelly Waters of Agile Teams says. 

25% of people around the world, says Joe Ferrari of DePaul University, are chronic procrastinators.  "The law of inertia tells us a body in motion stays in motion.  And the same goes for projects," Joe's research shows, "When you interrupt a task it can be difficult to pick it up again."

What separates people living meaningful lives from those living average lives or failing lives is that the failures don't finish what they start.

If you are a business team leader interested in learning how to finish what you start concentrate in four areas: 

  1. Leadership.

  2. Diversity.

  3. Corporate Etiquette.

  4. Performance.

Leaders keep their teams mission-focused.  Creating a corporate culture in a dispersed work environment is critical to persisting toward the completion of a project.  Maintaining enthusiasm and cultivating persistence is the result of an excellent corporate etiquette program.  Performance that is inspired to excel motivates a team to achieve completion.

Outfluence, LLC was formed to accomplish several things, one of which being to teach individuals and organizations how to finish what they start.  So many people with incredible potential fail because they never complete what they start.  The process of achievement often begins at failure.  Sometimes we have to hit rock bottom before we are ready to accept the message of persistence and completion.  It's never too late to achieve.  If you are individually ready to move forward, or if you are ready to accept the knowledge of an outside force to teach your team how to finish what you want them to start, consider attending our next How to Finish What you Start workshop scheduled for April 2nd in Westminster, Maryland.  Watch this page or visit our website for registration information soon.