Tag Archives: brilliance

Bringing Out Your Brilliance: Determined like Diablo

“How good are you? Well, I’m very good!”

I was finally going to take my own advice. For years I have been recommending recreation. As in “Re-Create-tional” activities to stay balanced and to re-charge your emotional batteries and creative juices.

So here I was ready to reinvigorate myself with horseback riding. I had been given a free trial gift certificate. The appointment had been set- a 90-minute ride up into the foothills. I had been riding once or twice before and had fond memories of the experience; I especially enjoyed the pony rides in circles at the fairs when I was 5.

A cowgirl approached and simply asked , “Do you ride much? How good are you?” For whatever reason, I fibbed, told basically a bold-faced lie, “Well, I’m very good! Lots of riding experience in my background!” Really, I just didn’t want to be stuck with one of those old has-been grey horses that don’t have any spark left in their eyes. I wanted a horse with some zip and get-up, a horse that would trot and gallop!

I grew up watching “Bonanza” and I wanted to play Little Joe and Ride ‘Em Cowboys!

They brought out a beautiful horse named Diablo. Diablo was a girl horse, but maybe I should use a different word… I’m not sure but I think she was emotionally unstable. I know she lacked emotional intelligence! She was angry from the beginning. She was stubborn. She must have been part mule!

It took me 30 minutes to get her out of the barn and stable and up the trail. It was not a good match. The plan was to enjoy a relaxing ride up to the bluff and enjoy the meadow there…. Ahhhh. There would be a breeze and we could gallop across at a nice pace…ahhhh.

As you may be guessing, the day did not go as planned. Instead, as soon as we got to the bluff, Diablo U-Turn hooked on me and started galloping for home. I pulled the reins but nothing happened, except that she went faster. I screamed. I said “Woooooaaaahh.” Nothing was working. She was hell bent on getting back into that barn.

As we raced towards the barn at full speed, I had two choices, either bail off Diablo or duck low going through the door. I decided to duck. She stopped immediately once she was inside and walked happily into her stall. I could almost hear her say “Ahhhhh, home…”

The cowgirl came back, looking confused, and asked “Back already?” Trying to save face, I said “Yeah, I just wanted a quick little ride today. Thank you!” As I walked away from Diablo, I muttered to her “You’re nothing like Little Joe’s horse…”

I have to give Diablo some credit; she knew what she wanted!

  1. What is your one thing that you want?
    You cannot market to the masses. You cannot shoot a bunch of shot-gun pellets everywhere. You must focus on your ONE MAIN THING.
  2. What is your primary goal?
    I’m going to suggest you narrow your focus in the next 90 days.
  3. Get clear on your brand and your message!
    Find your strength and stay with it!
  4. Become an expert in your field
    Knowledge is power. Hone your craft.
  5. Get single-minded and determined.
    Not to say you can’t enjoy variety. But you must know what you want and know your one big goal.

There will be days when people try to pull in you lots of directions away from your purpose and goal. Stay true and vigilant. There is a good word: VIGILANT!

If I could suggest one more thing to every leader I know, it would be to write down your one big goal. Then put 10 action items under that goal as to how you will make it happen!

Here are some closing thoughts that I refer to when I am veering off from my one big goal:

  1. Goals create positive energy and hope
  2. A clearly articulated goal offers you a North Star to guide you out of rough seas and into clear waters
  3. Know exactly what you want and clearly write it down

Determined like Diablo,
You matter to me,
Steve Gutzler

Bringing Out Your Brilliance: Flipping Pancakes

“I thanked them but failed to look them in the eye”

For nearly three and a half decades my parents owned and operated a restaurant called Tom’s Pancake House. Not a burger joint, not a steak house, not one of those really posh places you go on your anniversary, just a little pancake house named after my father. 30 different types of pancakes, some waffles, omelettes, coffee, and hot chocolate… yum yum. It was kind of a blue-collar restaurant. But white-collar people liked it too…we had some big names visit us, shhhh… Phil Knight from Nike lived just down the road and loved Tom’s.

My father was born to own and operate that place. When you arrived, chances were that he would be up front with a big friendly smile to greet you. He only ever took Wednesdays off and loved working the busy weekend mornings; they were the bread and butter, or the “pancakes and syrup” of the business.

My sister, Becky, and I cut our teeth on that restaurant business. I started working at the ripe age of 9-years-old (aren’t there laws against that? Haha). Well, at nine, it was only two hours a week. Every Saturday, my mom would drop me off at 11:00AM. I worked a rigorous two-hour shift until 1pm. At noon my dad would bring me an R.C. Cola, do they make those anymore?

What was my job, you ask?

Peeling Potatoes! Yep. Two hours of potato peeling a week. You see we served freshly cooked hash brown potatoes, none of that frozen freeze-died stuff. The old-fashioned actual potato. I was too short to reach the counter so I would stand on an overturned milk crate. Steaming hot potatoes would be rolled out onto the counter for me to peel. I had a paper towel, a paring knife, and a bucket. Then I would place the potatoes on the drying rack. On a good day we would cook five to six huge batches. It felt like mountains of potatoes to a nine-year-old… actually, it would probably feel like mountains to anyone…

If I was lucky, Candy, the prep woman, would help me. I look back and smile, thankful that my folks taught us the importance of a good work ethic. I later moved up to dishwasher, busboy, host, and finally manager by age 19.

At Tom’s we had three business mantras:

Even now when I speak at leadership trainings to Fortune 500 Companies, I still use these same three thoughts.

  1. Meet and Greet the Customer:
    If you walked into Tom’s, you wouldn’t have to worry about seating yourself or wonder where you are supposed to go. We had a 60 second rule: get to the customer and meet and greet them with a smile. For whatever reason that is deeply ingrained in me. I still initiate the greetings in every business encounter. My father held an iron-clad conviction for kindness, appreciation, and being cordial.
  2. Surprise and Delight:
    In food service this is very important! You must deliver what is expected, and then some! I have a sales team presentation based on this mantra called “The And Then Some Attitude.” Wow, in this multi-media, social media, high-tech, low-touch world, what would happen to your business if you gave yourself to “And then Some?” What would happen if we surprised and delighted our clients and customers with more than they were expecting? Treat them like a 10, like royalty and they will say those magic words “I’ll be back.”
  3. Look Them in the Eye and Say Thank You:
    It only happened one time. I took money from a young family checking out. I thanked them, but failed to look them in the eye. My father, ever attentive, spotted me. After rush hour slowed, he took me aside and admonished me to “look them in the eye.” This was a second-generation customer I had been serving and I needed to treat each person that came in like royalty. He taught me that we need to appreciate each of our customers! Even as a 19-year-old kid, that lesson really sunk in.

I slip occasionally, like we all do, but not often. My daughter had a serious project in college a few years ago and said that the number one lesson she learned from her parents was the value of appreciation. Look people in the eye and tell them thank you.

Speaking of appreciation… I want to make sure you know that I appreciate you, my readers! I appreciate you! You matter to me!

Feeling thankful and craving pancakes…

Thank you for everything, Dad!

You matter to me,
Steve Gutzler

Bringing Out Your Brilliance- Let’s Soar!

“Dad, if we are going to do it, let’s go to sixteen-hundred feet!”

If you have been to the Caribbean or parts of Mexico, you are quite familiar with Para-sailing. From the beach it looks peaceful. The colorful sail gliding through blue sky being pulled by one of those Miami vice speed boats. Awesome. Let’s do that!

In reality it’s nerve wracking. The water is choppy. The drivers of our boat seemed to be suspiciously sipping tequila. The cables looked shaky. The harness straps creep up into places they shouldn’t creep. Sure it looked peaceful from the beach… but once you got out there, suddenly everything seemed so much more difficult and intimidating!

Once you arrive at the liftoff point, they ask, “How high do you want to go?”

The options are for 800 feet, 1,200 feet, or a terrifying 1,600 feet.

I was thinking that 800 sounded like a good option for me. I’m not really a big fan of heights, or tight harnesses, or choppy waters.

But before I could say anything, my son, Jayce, answered “Dad, if we are going to do it, let’s go for 1,600 feet!”

I was the last of my family to sail. I watched my three kids and my wife all take their turns flying above the water. I listened to their laughter, their screams, and the shouts of excitement. I watched their faces, their wide eyes, and their big smiles. All of this emboldened me to give it my best shot. I do have a serious fear of heights so this was a huge deal for me!

When I got up there, it was brilliant, it was breath-taking. It was so amazing to finally SOAR!

What about you?

Is there a part of you that has settled comfortably on the beach of life? Seriously, when was the last time you looked your fears in the eye and told them that they are not going to keep you down any longer? When was the last time you stretched yourself?  When was the last time you looked yourself in the eye and said “If I’m going to do it, I’m going to go 1,600 feet?”

Discover your Brilliance

This is a new series where I am going post blogs that are related to Bringing Out Your Brilliance. This is for you to take what you have and find that extra degree of sparkle.


In my coaching and corporate speaking I typically will issue a leadership challenge:

First: Set targets in life and business which are high! 1,600 feet high! Get off the lounge chair and dream big! Think big! And get crystal clear about defined goals and greatness. Set your targets to stretch you even higher than you can imagine!

Second: Start listening to your “Big Voice” that drives your subconscious and mind and in turn, determines your conscious actions. Transform your thoughts through inspirational readings, books, and messages.  Read to lead. Personal Development books, futuristic books, soul-based books, and spiritual books. Your mind and thoughts are key to igniting positive emotions. And remember, Emotions drive our behaviors and performance!

Third: Move toward that which you fear. I used to be afraid of ultra-success. “Just give me a little,” I would think. But I had to break that meager and small-minded thought.

Note: I set a big stretch goal this year- a fear-defying goal!
Double my business and double my influence in one year!

Sometimes you have to challenge yourself, you have to risk it, you have to write, and you have to say it!

Now, if I get there I might go back to Mexico and celebrate! Maybe I’ll even sail again!

But this post is about you. I want you to SOAR. Risk. Come on, if we are going to do it in life, let’s go to the full height! Let’s go 1,600 feet!


You matter to me,
Steve Gutzler