What’s Your Network Character Sheet?

How organized are you? Imagine you have a great idea and want to float it by some people who can help you make this dream come true. Could you quickly figure out who to go to for marketing, software development, or other things? How passionate would they be about this kind of idea?

As I learned from the wonderful Octalysis Prime group (OP), to be able to find that crucial bit of information at a glance is exactly what’s needed. Knowing this, I realized I needed to invent the Network Character Sheet.

For those who have ever played a Role Playing Game (RPG) like Dungeons and Dragons, the notion of a Character Sheet is well known. It’s the sheet of information that highlights a person’s abilities and other key information. It tells everyone at the table what the person can do for you and your friends. For keeping track of my current network of associates and friends, I need that kind of organizational tool. I want to track people’s passions, skills, and other key items. So, what exists now that I can use?

The Hunt Begins

On LinkedIn, the Character Sheet is the online profile aka online resume. It has all kinds of information which may be useful for getting a new job. However, it’s way too much information for my day-in / day-out networking needs.

In order to really keep track of what is important, I need a Character Sheet template that reflects just those things I care about. I also need a place to electronically search and store these.

So, I went back to the basics. What would be in my character sheet template and what can help me make what I want?

I looked at apps that help create RPG character sheets and also some example Dungeons & Dragons character sheets for inspiration.


For Windows, I found a free app called NBOS Character Sheet Designer 2.0 (CSD). Although it’s a rough app to use, it’s free and simple enough in concept. At first, CSD looked promising, but it felt rough to use and being stuck on Windows was finally a deal breaker.

I looked at other possibilities like Apple’s beautiful Pages app and Excel. For Pages, the Invoice template seemed like a good thing to start with. For Excel, I started with the “Family Budget Planner” template. I worked with both of those, but they weren’t a good fit.

Finally, I landed on using the Contacts app for the mac. It’s an app carefully crafted to handle a person’s contact information and some person meta-data. In other words, Contacts lets me add key information about the person. Plus, I can easily search for something like “Marketing.” Contacts even integrates with other things like Twitter and my iPhone.

Contacts App

Inspired by the Octalysis Prime Real Life RPG idea of calling key contacts my Allies, I created a special group called Allies in Contacts. Yet, how to add custom fields? For example, I want dedicated Skills fields. How to customize Contacts cards on your Mac and exploring the app got me there.

By adding a custom “Related Name” field, I could add a “Skill” field, “Super Power” field or whatever I wish. Related Name selected

With this figured out, I created a “Generic Person” with all the fields I need that I can copy / paste whenever I need a new Network Character Sheet created.


Using the Contacts app that comes with the macOS, is currently the best available platform for my Network Character Sheet idea. Since searching is the electronic version of finding something “at a glance”, the Contacts app’s custom fields feature is just what I need. Now it’s time to store my allies awesome abilities. Perhaps with enough personal organization such as the Network Character Sheet, we can all help each other make our dreams come true!


Night Sky

You are the night sky. The stars that shine are from all those that contributed to your soul, your essence, and your experience.

When you die, the lights are out. However, do not fear death. Having fear about what unknown events are coming is normal.

However, death is known. Your death is the largest un-event for you. All happenings cease.

Live today. Be the brightest and richest night sky ever! Enrich yourself with good interactions with others. Together, we are the brightly filled universe.

Find the constellation by Jeremy Stanley

Scary Brain Power

In our lifetime, we will have more control over our brain than ever before. That may delight and scare you. The reason why it might scare you is because you may not know exactly what to do with such power. People may think they want to always have total happiness and ecstasy.

Eternal ecstasy and pleasure are not sustainable. What we want to do instead is go for balance, ease, and peace. Proactively, insight meditation can help you know what your brain is all about. You should find out about this before Elon Musk makes it so we can hook up computers to peoples’ brains. You’re also going to want to learn about motivation, habits and addiction. This is all important. With great power comes great responsibility. More than ever before, you are responsible for your mind.

Brain by dierk schaefer

Bowl Bottom Centered

There is an easy approach to relaxing into focus and thus calm. It’s a concept I created called Bowl Bottom Centered.

Imagine a curved bowl. The center of the bowl is balance. It’s the calm and focus you seek.

As George Mumford says in the 10% Happier app, the goal of mindful meditation is to be “Resting in the body. Resting in the breath.” It is to slip into focus.

If you see yourself off track and off task as George might say, observe that you’re crawling up the side of the bowl and out of focus. You’re not in the bottom of the bowl. So, let it all go. Begin again.

Allow yourself to slide back down the side of the bowl and be centered. Observe yourself sliding down the side of the bowl into the center. Be in the center.

Everything slopes down to the center of the bowl. Harmony, goodness, peace, tranquility, and focus is in the bottom of the bowl. Let it all go and rest. Be “Bowl Bottom Centered.”

Bowl by Rebecca Siegel

FinneyCanHelp Five Fingers of Freedom

The FinneyCanHelp Five Fingers of Freedom framework empowers one to take action and live with freedom in one’s heart.

FinneyCanHelp Five Fingers of Freedom

  1. Flow Like Water – This was inspired by a Bruce Lee quote.
  2. Fantasize about the possible – We’re only limited by our imagination.
  3. Forgive yourself and others – Lose the emotional luggage.
  4. Faith – Have faith that there is a lawfulness to the universe. This was inspired by George Mumford. See George Mumford: “The Mindful Athlete” | Talks at Google video and the 10% Happier app that has George Mumford in it.
  5. Feel Freedom – Choose to see this freedom.

We choose to see by AM Renault

Love Apple Seed

When it comes to the Apple company, I love the infant Apple, the Apple seed. I love Apple’s vision and passion of long ago. The Apple where Steve Jobs was figuring out how to make positive impacts on the world while still on this planet.

Investopedia says it well where:

..what satisfied him [Steve Jobs] most was watching kids use Apple products in the classroom

Steve Jobs wanted to improve people’s life experiences. He saw that he could do that through Apple products. Steve Jobs is gone, but it’s my hope that the momentum of his positive vision continues through the decades.

There is a new hope. Tim Cook spoke about the general philosophy of Apple and it’s captured nicely in the article Apple’s mission statement (Tim Cook text). I recommend one checks out the “The most interesting lines” section. It captures the concepts of keeping it simple, make a difference, keep focused, be excellent, and make excellent products.

So, keep the faith when it comes to your own personal mission statement and carry on! What is your personal personal mission statement? Feel free to share it with me on Twitter and let’s make paradise on earth happen together!

How to Mindfully Take Risks and Joseph Goldstein

Oh, Joseph Goldstein. I wish I knew him decades ago. He always generously shares his wisdom about mindfulness, meditation, and living a good life. Recently, I finally got to thank him!

I first encountered Joseph in the Waking Up With Sam Harris podcast episode titled The Path and the Goal. Listening to that podcast episode and a followup episode titled Questions Along the Path, led me to the iPhone app known as Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by 10% Happier.

How ironic that 10% Happier made it possible to thank Joseph!

10% Happier holds video events and in March they had the Joseph Goldstein Live Q&A by 10% Happier event. (Logistical side note: If you don’t have a Crowdcast account, you can create one for free and then see the video using the link.)

Since this was a Q & A event, I felt it proper to ask a question on my mind first. 50:10-ish into the event, I asked “How does one mindfully take risks?” In other words, how do you take big leaps of faith in a career or elsewhere with “right action” in mind? His generous wisdom flowed forth.

My takeaways from Joseph were to explore:

  • Fear – Relationship of oneself to fear. He has worked with fear a lot. Favorite phrases of his are “If this fear is here for the rest of my life, it’s OK. It’s OK to feel this.” It’s important to work with the fear.
  • Letting go of attachment – Act without attachment to the outcome. There are too many variables at work in life. So, work with what you have, try your best, and accept the outcome.
  • Checking the motivation – The value in the action is based on the motivation behind the action. As he said, “Is this a wholesome motivation or not?”

So, if you deal with the fear, let go of outcomes, do a motivation check, and they all checkout OK, you can “go for it!”

At the end, I gave him the FinneyCanHelp thumbs up of approval which made him chuckle. That’s from the heart. If all of humanity took his lessons to heart, the world would be a better place.

Finally, I was able to share my gratitude with Joseph. I said:

I just want to conclude by saying it’s an honor and thank you for everything you have done.

His lessons and the lessons of other wonderful meditation teachers are in the 10% Happier app. I recommend you download the iPhone app and give it a try. Subscribe if you want to explore it further. Use the coaching feature!

No iPhone? You can go to 10percenthappier.com and checkout the Web App.

My 10% Happier subscription is the best ROI I have ever had! If you have any questions about my personal experiences or just want to share your excitement, please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter at @finneycanhelp. Also feel free to checkout my other posts about 10% Happier and meditation.

Cold Dark Eerie Fear

“I’m Too Nice” Is No Excuse For Lack of Accountability

Saying that one is “too nice” to hold someone accountable is a cop out. What we really mean is that one has not yet found an effective way to hold people accountable without acting in a dictatorial way. It sets up a false dichotomy of nice / no-accountability vs mean / accountability. This is definitely a false dilemma.

If someone has this false either-or mindset between nice vs no-accountability and they want to partner with or hire leaders, they’ll seek out those who are “tough on others.” They think they want someone who “can get people moving” even if rough or even a little brutal about it.

Unwittingly, they hire a manager with a dictatorial management style. In playground speak, they hired a bully. Bullying behavior is poison to the longterm growth and well-being of any group.

Is dictatorial behavior OK as long as things get done? No. Employee turnover will be high and you’ll never know why. People will sense the oppressive culture and word gets around so people won’t join you in the first place.

So, it’s not just about getting things done. Being a leader is about empowering others to contribute to your group’s mission. Besides making money, your mission is your group’s reason for existing.

In Agile speak, you want passionate leaders as opposed to bullying managers. Don’t compromise on this! It might be extremely hard to change the culture once it gets grown in too deep.

As revealed in “Why Do Bad Leaders Always Seem to Win?”, it’s hard to convince managers to not act in a dictatorial style since we’re so used to giving them a “free ride.” A strong vertical mindset may have set up a reward system to encourage dictatorial management styles. At the expense of a group or organization, bullying can be rewarding to the person being a bully. Someone seeking power and who gets things done by bullying puts emphasis on a vertical flow of power through strength. Such managers will set up metrics to reflect efficiency and control over all else.

Your metrics will never reveal bullying that is happening in your leadership team. It’s hard to expose bullying behavior since things seem efficient and predictable. As beautifully expressed in the Why Do Managers Hate Agile? article:

Its values are efficiency and predictability. The key to succeeding in this world is tight control.

What you really want are people that are passionate about what they do. There’s a whole other article about Debunking Myths About Worker Passion that we won’t repeat here, but I recommend you read it. Suffice it to say, you want to foster a culture of empowerment, innovation and creativity.

Taking some concepts from several sources such as the late Roger Mellott (author of Stress Management for Professionals), Stephen Covey (efficient vs effective leadership), and Agile Leadership concepts, it is possible to hold people accountable in such a way as to make a relationship stronger and less stressful as opposed to oppressive.

Since this article is long enough, we won’t go into details about how to find and be an effective leader. However, I strongly suggest reading “Why Do Managers Hate Agile?” in full, seek out leaders instead of power hungry managers, and never stop promoting a culture that values leadership skills.


Notes on “Self-Awareness is Product Management”

Although the focus of the Self-Awareness is Product Management episode starts with self-awareness, it also covers communication skills, habits, and relationships between people.

The guest is Kelley Amadei, co-author of Founder of SparkShift. The rest of this blog post contains pretty much raw notes. The notes contain a mixture of direct quotes from the podcast, my own thoughts, and sometimes ideas that came to mind while listening.

Foundation for Leadership

“Self awareness is the foundation for leadership.” By being self-aware, one can be vulnerable in a good way and recognize their impact on others. Usually self-awareness is low in a person. From a cultural standpoint, people typically learn content specific for their job and push through as they climb the corporate ladder. Thus, the concepts of empathy, trust, compassion, and deeply understanding others / ourselves is weird to many.

If people don’t understand what is in it for them, they won’t do what you need. Understanding your people requires self awareness. It’s basic and foundational. It’s not even hard. One acknowledges their new found understanding externally to just trusted people initially and then expands into the “greater organization.”

If leaders focused on self awareness, they would be more effective. To do this, one needs to be a researcher and an antropologist. We should be objective. Let’s not get self-judgmental. Self-mastery is the goal. Pay attention. She teaches this to all kinds of people such as executives and people in grad-schools.

Beginning the Process

To begin ask yourself, what habits do I have that serve me and what habits should I drop?

Only choose one thing. “Identify the one thing that’s getting in your way.” Identify the thing that makes you cringe. Check it out with people you trust. Perhaps even a boss if there is a trusted relationship. “Is this the right area to focus on?”

Most common symptom of not having self-awareness is not listening. It is common with senior executives. It’s understandable though. If you’re a leader, you feel like you are supposed to know and quick to respond to questions. There are cultural things that get in the way:

  • Supposed to know
  • To appear quick, one usually is formulating a response while listening. That’s actually counterproductive.
  • You feel like you are not supposed to hesitate.
  • You feel like you’re not supposed to even take a moment to reflect.

Validate the behavior you want to work on: Don’t have to pick the hardest. Can pick the easiest one to gain confidence. Once you figured out the one thing to work on. There are strategies to apply.


For example, let’s say it has to do with eating. People usually will want to jump on the thing they want to change right away. “Don’t do that.” Don’t immediately jump into action. Watch and observe yourself. Side note: this sounds quite close to what was said on the 10% Happier podcast episode #61 titled Dr. Judson Brewer, Using Mindfulness to Beat Addiction.

When interacting with your direct reports, in meetings, and all areas of life observe yourself. Watch for when you are listening and not listening. Side note: reminds me of Stephen Covey, Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

The approach:

  • Pick a week or ten days.
  • Log it. Collect data.
  • You will see a pattern of when you are not listening and you will understand what is motivating the behavior.

Example: Direct report comes into the office. They have something to tell me. Trigger: they walk in. Response: Ready to tell them something first before listening. They are telling me and I am waiting to share what’s on my mind. Reward:I got stuff done. However, it could have been better.

Psychology and the Brain 

She is trying to drive a wedge between the trigger and response. We have less than a 1/2 second to work with. The first 1/3 second is physical. Most of what we do is an automatic response. Science says 90% of what we do is automated behavior, driving, swallowing, and so on. The brain starts on pathway and creates a groove (wrinkle). The brain says this works. So, it keeps doing it.

Another side note: This sounds similar to the aforementioned 10% Happier podcast, Stephen Covey as described by Michael Hyatt, and Dr. Victor Frankl. As said in Don’t Just React: Choose Your Response:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”   -Victor Frankl

If you are trying to stop an automated behavior, you have a small fraction of a second. Side note: Nir Eyal talks about habits all the time.

We’re driving a wedge between trigger and response. You can choose to do it the old way or when a direct report comes in, one can say: “I will shut my mouth, experience the uncomfortable feeling (it’s normal), and learn from it.” Try it for a couple weeks.

From a chemical standpoint, a habit is rewarded when dopamine gets released in the brain. That’s when the habit loop starts. Whether taking a drink or exhibiting a behavior in an organization, you are fighting the same battle.

Leaders are rewarded by getting things done themselves and they stop trusting others. They stop collaborating and delegating effectively. They second guess a lot.

A habit of not trusting is rooted in the fear of being let down. If I trust you and you let me down, it reflects on me. Trust requires vulnerability and understanding. A lot of leaders don’t feel they have time for that.

New VP of Operations Example

Example: There was a VP of operations. He focused on lean strategy and efficiency, efficiency, efficiency. Everything was through a very logical approach. He was 36 years old. His approach was by blowing things up (organizationally) and make things better.

When he got the VP position, he went in assuming that no-one knew what they are doing and so on. He built a habit of mistrust. He assumed that he had the only solutions. It would take too long to get things done. Now that he’s the VP he could no longer blow things up. Behaviorally, he was:

  • Too direct
  • Aggressive
  • Didn’t listen
  • Didn’t trust
  • He would second guess their solutions
  • He should have let his seasoned and senior people be part of the solution

His people went to the CEO and said this “guy’s a jerk.” He wasn’t listening and trusting. They brought Kelley Amadei in.

That’s one example of how something that serves a leader in the past can backfire later in their career.

Support the Right Culture and Also Build Authentic Relationships

Google has spent a lot of time learning about the successful attributes around leaders (related). Most psychology books would call some of this psychological safety.  Do I feel safe? Are my ideas heard? Can we have constructive conflict? Can we disagree and leave the relationship intact? One should allow constructive conflict. That’s where great ideas come from. Steps to make that happen:

  1. Encourage authentic connection between people.
  2. Never interrupt. When running a team meeting, don’t ever interrupt. Encourage team to do the  same.
  3. Allow everyone to be heard. If someone is in the corner, call them out. They are probably have something to say and are being squished by others.
  4. Known conflicts should come out in the open. Otherwise, the unresolved conflicts will waste people’s time later when talking in subgroups later.

Most people think they have a work persona. Can you get people / teammates to connect as real people?

Have an offsite and bring some questions. Examples:

  • What are you most afraid of?
  • Want do you most want out of your life?
  • What’s something difficult you have overcome?


There is plenty of great information in this podcast episode around self-awareness, communication, group relationship building, and even psychology. It’s clear Kelley Amadei is passionate about her work. She has great strategies for helping organizations improve their productivity and undoubtedly their overall happiness. I recommend you listen to the podcast episode yourself.

Sticky Notes

Sticky Notes by Gabriel Toro

What Do Your Emoticons Mean??

She caught me, bless her. Recently someone special to me asked me what the green leaves ? meant in a message I sent. There is a deeper meaning behind what I was sharing. So, I confessed. Here’s what I shared:

The green leaf / leaves symbolize life. It’s the nourishing energy that makes the flower petals possible. When I share the ? with someone, it means “may you have a stable and nourishing foundation upon which to grow so you can share the beauty of your life with all. ?

There are other emoticons I share regularly which have a deep meaning to me. Such meanings enrich my life and I believe are good for the brain. Such emotions are even contagious.

If interested, I can share what it means when I share other emoticons. ?

Until then, you might ask yourself: What feelings do you feel when sharing an emoticon with someone? Is there a special friend you share a specific emoticon with?



Caresse by zenera