Trimming the Tree

Putting up a holiday tree has become a sentimental experience. Each ornament, gathered through the years, holds significance.

I’m fortunate to have vintage, glass bulbs salvaged from my grandmother’s now extinct collection, and pieces representing the birth and growth of each of my three children.

Through the years this little tribe of mine and I made it a practice to gather ornaments from our travels and adventures:

*See story below in postscript

Each year now, as the children have grown and so have I, trimming the tree with my partner is a celebration in the journey of all our lives. Strangely enough, or maybe not so strange, I determined that this year’s tree would have an added dimension of intention and manifesting. I decided that we would decorate with ornaments that followed a color theme: red, silver and black. (I had to make a deliberate trip to Salt Lake’s Modern Display in order to find the black ornaments.) The purpose behind the color theme is to appreciate, honor and manifest more of the following into the upcoming new year:

Red – increase the amount of passion in work and life

Silver – increase our vibration with the highest energy available to mankind

Black – increase the fertility and growth in all we undertake

 As I sit back and enjoy the presence of this tree in our home, it seems “right” to have utilized it for these purposes.

It evokes reflection backward with joy and forward with hope and purpose.

And looking at the lights and glow it creates in our living room makes me wonder what other people/families are feeling as they trim their homes and trees.

I took time to read about Mary Strait’s experience from her blog Strait Talk: The Strait-up Life of the Straits Family.

What about you? I’d like to hear whatever you are willing to share about your decorating or non decorating experience this year.

Post Script

(Here is the post script you’ve been waiting for! See the Bear and Dart Ornament above.)

Our first home, post divorce from the children’s father, offered us a third-floor view of a red dart lodged near the top of a tree lining our backyard stream. When an ice storm had its way with said tree, the single branch dismantled by the storm just so happened to be the very one impaled by the dart. We rescued the dart and attached it to this teddy bear for Christmas memories to come.

Putting It Together

Putting it all together… of all the exercises in the Hedgehog experience, this is the one that takes the most creativity.  Now is the time to enlist the help of three people who love you unconditionally.  These people must not be afraid of any change or shift in your working identity. They must be supportive to you, no matter what.

You can assemble this group in a final meeting or have separate meetings with each one.  Here’s how to proceed:

Step One:  Understand the mechanics of using a Venn Diagram or, some may refer to it as a “bubble map.”  Share that information with your group as you meet.

– The principle of these diagrams is that classes or sets be represented by regions in such relation to one another that all the possible logical relations of these classes can be indicated in the same diagram. That is, the diagram initially leaves room for any possible relation of the classes, and the actual or given relation, can then be specified by indicating that some particular region is null or is not null.

Step Two:  Now that you know that the intersecting regions represent areas of relationship, compare what information from your strengths circle combines with a parallel thought from your passion circle. Record those answers in the area shared by both circles. Do the same for the other two intersecting areas and leave the triangular center area free at this time.

Step Three:  Once you have the relationships recorded, look to see where these three areas can converge down into a specific line of work.  Those specific lines of work are now recorded in the center area.  When I say “specific lines of work” please be aware that I’m not talking necessarily about traditional careers.  I am talking about new working identities that could prove profitable.

Here are specific ideas that have shown up in the past month with the four clients I’ve most recently taken through this exercise:

  • Trainer
  • Coach
  • Consultant
  • New Age Minister for Peace
  • Speaker
  • Diplomat
  • Film maker
  • Athlete
  • Business owner
  • Broker – of information
  • Innovation Wizard
  • Healer

From this new list you have generated, fodder for your future. The boldest step yet is to craft an experiment:  carve out one simple experience where you can try-on a new working identity and see how it feels. See what you can give and what value is repaid to you. The course you will be charting from here on out is experimental.  Use these iterative experiences where you earn and you learn what you can do with the strength, passion and earning capacity that lives innately within you.

If you need further questions answered concerning the Hedgehog experience, you might want to check out The Entrepreneur Starter Kit.

 Return To The Introduction Of This Series: You Have Hedgehogs 

Economic Engine

It’s time to show yourself the Hedgehog money! Look at the convergence of your strengths and your passion.  Now, the one remaining leavening factor…we must learn where you can make money with what you have.

Take the steps needed to formulate your success:

Step 1: Invest time (I suggest about a week) observing where money is flowing. Take note of where people are spending money and where other people are making money. These observations will open you up to “seeing” what is out there already in terms of financial exchange.

Step 2: Notice where you make money easily now. Ask yourself, “Where are people willing to hand over cash for what I can/do offer?”

Step 3: Pull out a spreadsheet and a calculator and go to work comparing the costs and projected profits from each of the ideas.

Step 4: Be ready with all the information you’ve gathered in Part 3, Discovering Your Deep Passion and Part 4, Economic Engine, so we can put it all together in the next installation of this series.

Coming Next: Part 5 Putting It Together
Return To The Previous Post: Discovering Your Deep Passion

Discovering Your Deep Passion

Knowing what you can be that is “world best” is important.  However, you may not always want to do what you can do well.  A person who is deeply caring and compassionate may not want to work as an emergency room Head nurse.  Maybe this person wants to run a pre-school.

This is part three of a five part series on the entrepreneur’s hedgehog.  For an initial understanding of the Hedgehog concept, we wholeheartedly recommend that you read Chapter Five of Good to Greatby Jim Collins.  For audio learners, Jim Collins provides several videos and audios on his website.  While we rely on Jim Collins for the initial idea, we have extended his concept to small business owners over a number of years.

Building on this five-part series, let’s tackle the portion of the hedgehog concept known as “What You are Deeply Passionate About?

When I’m taking clients through this exercise, this is the point where they create a “passion” list.

You want them to compile the longest and most honest list. The secret to success here is to be sure you write down things you love to do and that you do not down-shift to recording things that you like to do.

Here are a few distinctions which will help you better understand the type of things to add to your list:

  • When you are doing these things, time flies because you are fully engaged;
  • You might be worn down or tired from your efforts, yet you’d get up and do it again tomorrow if given that chance;
  • You are on fire;
  • Your life seems enriched by it;
  • You feed a hunger that afterwards is deeply satisfied;
  • You include things as personal, like watching a sunset; and
  • You are as professional as outlining the instructional design for a lesson plan.

Feel free to fill part of your list with examples from any special occasions.  They will encourage you to revisit this list and may also help you to envision your passions.

See if you can grow your list to 50 entries, or if you are an achiever by nature, try for 100 entries on your list.

When the list is finished, ask a handful of your friends to tell you what they think you are most passionate about. Add their ideas to yours. Store the list somewhere safe. Get ready for the next step.

Coming Next: Part 4 Economic Engine
Return To The Previous Post: Finding Your Best In The World

Finding Your Best in the World

The hedgehog concept is the ONE thing that can make the difference between loving what you do while making money, and all of the alternatives.  Not that those alternatives are necessarily horrible.  It’s just all ‘round better to be at the core of your hedgehog.

This is the second of a five-part series on the Entrepreneur’s Hedgehog–how can you, as an entrepreneur, discover what you can be the best in the world at?  For an initial understanding of the Hedgehog concept, we wholeheartedly recommend that you read Chapter Five of Good to Great, by Jim Collins.  For audio learners, Jim Collins provides several videos and audios on his website.  While we rely on Jim Collins for the initial idea, we have extended his concept to small business owners over a number of years.  The hedgehog is the intersection of three aspects of your life:

  • What you can be the best in the world at;
  • What you are deeply passionate about; and
  • What drives your economic engine.

You would think that you would know what you can be “best in the world” at, don’t you?  That is seldom the case without some work.  Imagine trying to look at the back of your neck.  Even if you can get it centered in a mirror, it’s backwards!  Additionally, your “best” may seem so natural to you that you don’t even recognize it as a strength.  Do you have one of those “walking encyclopedia” friends who shrugs his shoulders when you ask him how he always knows the direction for “North?”  Maybe you know one of those people who can add four digit numbers in their head or who always knows the “right” question to continue a conversation.  Those are people with a genetically-coded ability and they often don’t realize that others don’t have it.

As I’ve worked with clients to discover their “can be best” strengths, we’ve often used a combination of three approaches.  When the three all point towards the same strengths, you know you’ve got it right.

First, conduct a brief survey.  I’ve worked with several clients to contact friends, mentors, business associates, and customers as part of their discovery process.  I ask them to pick ten people who will be honest and answer three questions:

  1. What do you see are some of my greatest strengths? Can you relate a specific example?
  2. What is the greatest contribution I have made to you personally? Again, can you relate a specific example?
  3. What is, in your opinion, my single, most greatest strength if you had to narrow it down to one? Can you give an example that would illustrate your point?

The results from the survey can fill pages, so I’ve worked with some clients on a way to squeeze out the data.  They go to and create a word cloud.  The results are often visually clear.  This is a word cloud generated for

Second, look inside yourself.  Start by thinking about what you do naturally that others admire.  You are probably on the right track.  If you want an outside stimulus for this phase, you can turn to almost everything that Marcus Buckingham and the Gallup Management team has produced that contains the Strength Finder instrument in it.  The most recent publication is Strength Finder 2.0.  Are you a lifelong learner?  Maximizer?  Strategist? WOO?  Read the book, take the survey, and add the answers to what you find out from others.

Third, ask your customers.  The Entrepreneur’s Toolkit, Chapter 4, has a section on getting customer feedback as part of your marketing.  It works for this as well.  Often I will send a simple request at the end of a coaching contract that asks my client to “spend a few minutes thinking about the value our coaching brought to you.  I am asking you because I believe that you will be candid and objective.”  Your customers will tell you what you bring to the table, and that gets added to your other answers about what you can be best in the world at.

You can take the results from these three approaches and triangulate the results.  You will find what you can be the best in the world at.

Next: Part 3 Discovering Your Deep Passion
Return to the Previous Post: The Entrepreneurs Hedgehog 


You Have Hedgehogs

When I use the term “hedgehog”, I am referring to something beyond the frumpy little pin-cushion like critter.  I’m talking about each person’s latent working identities.  I’m talking about those places where your passion, your strength, your ideas meet in powerful synergy with a market need or a market want.

 Years ago I wrote several blog spots with a coaching colleague on this topic. Over the next few weeks we’ll be reposting the articles which outline the process I generally use when supporting a reinvention client.  I hope they are useful for those of you who are switching out the way you work and the way you live.

Please let me know if you have further questions on the process or the programs we currently run on the topic at SoulSalt Inc.

Coming Next:  Part 1 Entrepreneurs Hedgehog


Stop Feeding Pessimism and Shame and Start Accepting Attachment

We are bonding animals wired for love. This drive in us is more powerful than sex and aggression. As humans we are wired toward attunement and responsiveness.”  Dr. Su Johnson, June 2012 at the Easlan Institute

Like many of you, life has found me seeking over and over for something seemingly elusive within the world of love and romance. I’ve experienced a hunger for strong, emotional bonding. I’ve longed for undaunted, genuine attachment with a single, significant other. The bits and morsels I’ve enjoyed of strong, consistent healthy connection have been few and miles and miles apart.

Sadly, I’m not alone. This repetitive pattern speaks loudly about what we are NOT taught and what we in general do NOT learn as a species through parenting and educational programs. We must gain the most valuable pieces of relating information through the lab of our own lives. So, on I went.

Persisting on the quest for getting my emotional needs met found me divorced and studying Melody Beattie’s recovery work, which introduced me to the term “codependency”. Grabbing onto her bestselling lifelines I practiced setting the anchors of “self-care” and “boundary work”. Gratefully these tools improved my relationship with self. They gave me a stronger foundation for all relationship to live upon. Yet, gripping too hard to the handle bars of personal growth while pedaling away from codependency left me still wanting to fully metabolize a nagging, deeply rooted desire for intimacy.

Undaunted and gaining strength, I drove through intellectual discourses on healthy interaction. I encountered the likes of Stephen R. Covey and his 7-Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey added many useful layers to my advancement through sharing the concepts of:

Synergy -cooperation, trust building action and communication bent on finding respectful win/win situations. Win/win meaning both parties come out with things they need and want. As a formula, synergy looks something like 1 + 1 = 3, 8, 12 or any number > than 2.

Interdependence – a means by which both participants are emotionally, economically, ecologically and/or morally reliant and responsible for self first and then for each other.

I applied these principles logically and practically. The quality of my relationships improved. My satisfaction with life increased. Yet, once again a big corner of my heart kept waking up at 1:00 a.m. crying out for comfort. It wanted intense compassion, empathy and deep emotional bonding.

Eventually I evolved enough to step into a beautiful, strong and stable relationship with a partner equally prepared for our union. Undoubtedly it has been the quality of what I’ve said “no” to in past and what I currently say “yes” to in this relationship that has given me a new sort of courage – a courage that now speaks out loud:

I am ready to be seen, honored, adored, trusted, respected. I need to be held safe within your arms. I want to be ever close to the noble heart that beats within your breast.

Yet even in the bliss of a wonderful partnership, one dim and unproductive misunderstanding triggered up the demons from my past and tripped me up. I said something unkind. She withdrew. Her withdrawal triggered my self-defeating, wounded mantra to spin and blare on the turntable of my mind:

SEE! I am defective. I can never get the love I so desire. I feel like f^@king running away and giving up. 

An ancient and familiar backwash of shame poured over my emotional wiring. I didn’t run away. I calmed myself down (I have tools and I use them), retreated to the computer and started to fight back my demons.

I don’t remember the “key word” plugged into the search that night. All I remember from the blur of emotion and lack of sleep is that I found IT! I found confirmation that my intense emotional desire was truly a blessed and natural “need” and that there were smart and capable people out there studying and bringing scientific research forward to prove the point. They call this dynamic Attachment Theory.

The origins of Attachment Theory are attributed to John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth. However, it wasn’t Bowlby and Ainsworth who captured my attention.

Studying human relationship and attachment as a child growing up in the lab of life known as her parent’s pub, Dr. Su Johnson caught my focus.  I found her words inspiring and hopeful. I watched these two clips:

When Hold Me Tight arrived I started reading it. And when I came upon this comment, the part of me once flooded with shame about wanting and needing forever stopped being flooded. Instead a new layer of embracing that a need for love is full of “rightness” and “goodness” and a sign of health.

This drive to emotionally attach – to find someone to whom we can turn and say “HOLD ME TIGHT” – is wired into our genes and our bodies. It is as basic to life, health, and happiness as the drives for food, shelter, or sex. We need emotional attachments with a few irreplaceable others to be physically and mentally healthy – to survive.

I put down the book, asked my partner to join me at the next workshop. She agreed and I purchased two plane tickets and tuition to a live encounter with Dr. Su Johnson at the Easlan Institute in California.

I could go on and on about what I’ve learned from her. I think it wiser to leave you with a fist full of sound bites gleaned from Su during the workshop. And encouragement that if what you’ve read here was useful and hopeful to you, find out more about Dr. Su Johnson’s work immediately.

  • Connection is a need and this need is actually a strength.
  • We deal with stress better when we are courageous. And we have more courage when we have someone there for us.
  • Secure couples can reach out and be sure of one another. This sort of touch says, “You are important to me.”
  • Our most important work is to learn how to connect.
  • Love is an ancient, ancient survival system attached to our sense of safety.
  • We are designed for close connection. We grow and thrive when we are emotionally connected.
  • In order to be healthy and strong, you must also be aware of your need for attachment.
  • We are bonding animals wired for love. This drive in us is more powerful than sex and aggression. As humans we are wired toward attunement and responsiveness.

– Dr. Su Johnson, June 2012 at the Easlan Institute

Dr. Su Johnson, and myself at the Easlan Institute, June 2012

Perfect Gift

Every once in a while a magical, perfectly picked gift drops in your lap. That happened to me today while meeting a former client for coffee.

I wonder how this young yet wise woman was able to find such a sweet match between her gift and myself.

Could it be a matter of showing up at her office one too many times bedecked in a black suit and matching high-tops?

Could my personal belief about chucks have leaked out to the general public? (One can rarely have too many Converse shoes. Yet at the moment I’m practicing the concept of enough and holding my collection at five pair.)

Could it be that I love socks? I really, really love socks?

Could it be that Miss Erin is a talented on-line shopper with an eye for what will dazzle her friends, family and associates?

It could be all of the above. Never-the-less and no-matter-what this pair of socks have instantly become my favorites.

So I offer a huge hug to you Erin Hofman who has now insured many more happy days of sock passion for my feet.



Genesis of Finding Your Hedgehog

For over a decade, I’ve been taking clients through a process I call Finding Your Hedgehogs. The genesis of my work started in 1998 when I began coaching. About 30% of those who came to me for coaching were seeking support while making a career-based transition. I took note and started to study unique and effect ways to “walk the sideline” of such clients.

In 2001 I read Jim Collin’s newly published Good to Great. Collin’s described the “hedgehog” concept as the convergence of three main business elements: Passion, World-Class Ability, and Economic Drivers. As I studied Collin’s book I realized that what was universal for companies, could be specifically applied to individuals.

That same year I also discovered Now, Discovery Your Strengths by Donald Clifton, the father of the Strength’s Finder Assessment, and Marcus Buckingham. Their research made sense. The Strength Profile that came with the book as an online test quickly showed me a correlation between their work and the “World-Class Ability” Collin’s spoke of. I started using the assessment with clients to help them uncover their potential “world-class” offerings.

Two years later in 2003 I read an article in Harvard Business Review about Herminia Ibarra’s new book Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career. Immediately I ordered a copy and devoured each page at least three times. I made extensive notes on legal pads (notes I still review on a regular basis) and combined all these findings with some methodologies of my own.

Today I have a successful system for assisting people who are reinventing or reimagining their working identities. This portion of my blog is dedicated to the testimonials, stories, downloads, and real-time reports from the playing-field of those who have, are and will be changing the way they earn their livings