Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

“I am not about caring. I am about winning.” Harvey Specter, Suits TV Show

Be careful who you step on climbing the ladder. You may have to meet them on the way down. Have you ever wondered how some people sleep at night the way they treat others? They seem to have no conscience in how they talk to people and how they interact with them. They see people as objects to use and discard when necessary.

I recall early in my career working with a manager that was known as the hatchet-man. He was hired to clean house. His attitude was: “Better thee than me.” This was in a Fortune 500 company that you would recognize.

We lost a lot of good people that year. It was a lesson that never left me. He did not last long with the company because not only did he clean house, he hacked off everyone he worked with. He was like a bull in a china shop. Sadly, the china he destroyed had faces and families.

If you ever have to work with or for someone like this, here is a piece of advice from a survivor:

  • Don’t make any waves to draw attention. Think of it as swimming with a shark. If they smell blood, you are dead in the water.
  • Imagine it is election year and you have to choose who you support. If you place your loyalty with the wrong side, you will be replaced. If you are going to work in an organization, you best learn how to play the political game and know who is really in charge.
  • Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.
  • Do your job so well that they will think twice about replacing you. It helps to be a top producer.
  • Don’t gripe about your job to anyone at work. The walls have ears. If you are thought of as a complainer, you will be cut at some point. Never complain without offering a solution.
  • The more specialized your skill-sets, the harder you are to be replaced.

Be aware of the sharks, swim at your own risk, and remember that sharks get eaten too.


Dan Skognes


Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

How did we get to the point where there is a pervasive attitude of “You owe me?” As a grandfather I understand the desire to spoil the kids, but I wonder if in the spoiling we have created a monster?

It is an attitude not just with kids, but with adults as well. Everyone seems to have their hand out and expect the government, their parents, or anyone to step up and give them what they want. It does not matter that they did not earn it. They want it, and in their mind, they deserve it (for some reason).

How do we stop the madness? Quit giving people everything they want! When I was growing up we had to earn our allowance and it wasn’t a crazy amount of money either. The chores were not difficult, but it took some of the burden off my parents and gave me a sense of accomplishment in the process. What happened to letting people earn what they get?

I know there are people who are disabled and get welfare. I am not trying to put the ones who truly deserve it in this discussion. I am pointing out that we have countless people on welfare that are milking the system. We have untold numbers of kids who don’t know the value of a dollar. We have adults who never learned to earn money, so they expect someone to ante up for them. They don’t care who does it either.

I wonder how many billions of dollars are wasted every year on people who don’t really need the help but demand that they get it? I know that this is a huge problem for our country and possibly around the world as well. We have to use common sense and admit that the system is broken.

We definitely need to help those who are disabled, but there are too many able-bodied adults and kids who are content collecting their checks and never lift a finger.  We can start by setting the proper values in our own families. Let them earn their keep. They will appreciate you for it when they are grandparents. The only way to stop the madness is to change what we are doing.


Dan Skognes


Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Rules can be followed, broken, or bent. There is a time to do each of them. Have you ever been pulled over by a policeman for a traffic violation and given a warning? Technically, you should have received a ticket, but he showed mercy. You probably gave a sigh of relief and thanked him for the warning.

Most recently there was a lady who got caught on camera because she was calling the police to report a little girl selling bottled water on a public street corner. She was unbelievably angry that the girl had no permit to sell the water. Wow. The public backlash on social media was immediate. She was not only humiliated, but she actually received death threats! Another big WOW. She definitely overreacted, but threatening her life? Those people could go to jail for making threats like that. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Personally, I thought it was great that the girl was earning the money rather than begging. Kid, if  by chance you read this, here is my advice to you:

  • Don’t let the haters ruin your day. Just keep doing what you are doing. I love your entrepreneurial spirit.
  • Think about charging $5 per bottle with half of the proceeds going to your favorite charity, like The American Heart Association, The American Cancer Society, Feed the Children, etc. That takes your enterprise into another realm of giving back to those less fortunate. Now you are not just selling bottled water, you are giving hope to the hopeless. Just make sure you follow through on giving the money to the charity.

I do believe we need rules or we would live in a world of constant chaos and danger, but some rules need to be bent, and some need to be broken. It is just my humble opinion, but next time I get stopped by a policeman for a traffic infraction, I hope he or she has mercy on me. Let’s cut each other some slack, particularly if they are kids trying to earn some money.


Dan Skognes


Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

“The hardest person to please may be the man in the mirror.” Dan Skognes

Perhaps you know someone who is a perfectionist. They can be excruciatingly difficult to deal with if you are not one of them. They tend to focus on what was not done vs what was accomplished. You often see them in careers as Doctors, Lawyers, Accountants, Chemists, and Scientists.

I personally would prefer to have someone like that working on my behalf if they are dealing with my health or welfare. After all, who wants the guy that says, “Let’s give it a try and see if it works?” Nobody wants to be a Guinea Pig or a sacrificial lamb when their health or finances are at stake.

Here is the challenge for those of us who are not perfectionists: How do you deal with someone like that?

  • Keep them in the loop and listen to what they have to say. They just may keep you from making a fatal mistake.
  • Put what they say in perspective. Weigh risk vs reward and make an educated decision that mitigates your losses.
  • Value them and acknowledge that you need their input. If they feel ignored or under-appreciated they may withhold the very counsel that you need.

If you yourself are a perfectionist, here is my advice for you:

  • Cut the rest of us some slack and value our input as well.
  • Realize that nobody is perfect. It is great to have high standards, but don’t put on others or yourself a standard that cannot be maintained.
  • Sometimes good is good enough.
  • Don’t let perfection kill creativity.

I do believe that we should have high standards in regard to all aspects of life, but I also know that life is an imperfect puzzle. Our task is to put the pieces together to make sense of the picture. Make sure you have enough pieces to know what it is going to look like and understand that every choice has consequences. The bottom line is: Can you live with the picture you got, and what is the impact on yourself and others? It is never just about you.

“Perfection is the enemy of progress.” Winston Churchill


Dan Skognes


Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

“Find where you fit, then commit, don’t quit.” Dan Skognes

One of the biggest gripes I hear about job seekers today is they won’t commit…they quit. I don’t know if it’s fair to make such a broad statement, but it apparently is enough of an issue that many employers have the perception: “It’s so hard to find good people these days.” It’s a common problem that transcends age, gender, race, and geography.

Here are a few things I’ve noticed about people actively seeking employment:

  • Many have a sense of entitlement. They want the title, benefits, and big salary without proving that they can even do the job. Their expectations are unrealistic.
  • They think that because they got a degree they will automatically be hired. What they come to realize very quickly is that the real world is very competitive and not fair.
  • Many blue-collar and service jobs are standing vacant because people go the route of getting their degree…mistakenly thinking that a degree is their golden ticket. I do believe in formal education, but many people are better suited for a blue-collar job. They have overlooked the possibility of getting certified as an electrician, plumber, brick layer, etc., as being an education for something where they could make a lot of money and really enjoy doing their work.
  • Some have the attitude that they will quit if they hit any resistance. That is a time-bomb waiting to explode because there are no perfect jobs or bosses. There will always be issues with any job, so expect resistance and learn from it. Success and failure are both great teachers, but failure may be the greatest of the two.
  • They seem to balk at things asked of them that are not in their job description. That attitude does not bode well in a team environment. Learn to go beyond what is expected.
  • A lone-wolf mentality doesn’t gel with teamwork. They need to work on their people skills and quit looking at everyone as their enemy.

If we find what we are truly passionate about we are likely to find our purpose, and that is what we all seek: our purpose in this life.


Dan Skognes


Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Life events identify who our true friends are. Think about it. If you get married, divorced, have a baby, have a death in the family, graduate, are moving and need help, just want to hang out, need someone to talk to in the middle of the night and don’t want to be judged, who do you call?

Fair-weather friend is a term for fake friends…much like the many “friends” we have on FB and social media. Real friends are there for you no matter what life hands you. They don’t always agree with you, but they respect you, honor you, serve you, and love you for who you are. They will encourage you to expand your horizons, dream big, and let go of past hurts. They walk with you through life.

If you are fortunate to have more than one true friend, you are indeed wealthy. A proverb says, “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” You may be thinking, yes, but I have always heard “Blood is thicker than water,” meaning family comes before everyone else. Is it possible that both are correct?

Blood is thicker than water when it comes to our relationships and priorities, but there are friends who would go the distance when even blood relatives might pause. Here is my question for you: Are you a true friend to anyone? Have you invested in someone in your life to the point that they know beyond the shadow of a doubt that if they needed anything, you would be there for them?

True friendship is not one way. It takes two people investing in each other. This takes relationships from good to great. It works in marriage, business, and casual relationships. If you don’t invest, you’ll never have the best.

If you do have a cherished friend, I hope you let them know how much you love them and that you are there for them. If you don’t have a true friend, don’t despair. Another proverb says, “If a man wants friends, he must show himself friendly.” Just get out of your comfort zone and be the friend that you would like to have. It is worth the investment.


Dan Skognes


The Best Medicine

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

You might think that the best medicine is the one that works, but I think it is a little more complex. Medicine and advice have this in common: it is guaranteed not to work if you won’t take it. We have all known people who just don’t take what is good for them. Why do some people choose to learn the hard way?

Here are a few reasons that people won’t take what is good for them:

  • They think they can ignore the medicine or advice and do better on their own. The question they should be asking is, “How has that been working out for me?”
  • As ridiculous as it sounds, some people would rather stay stuck in the mud rather than do what someone tells them to do to get out. You will be their guest in the mud if you allow it.
  • They won’t listen because they don’t like them, trust them, or can’t forgive them for something in the past. Forgiveness becomes the greatest hurdle to overcome for many.
  • I know people who have been making the same dysfunctional decisions for so long that it is normal to them. When people think that evil is good and dark is light, then no amount of reasoning will get through to them till they see the warped picture for what it is. That is the epitome of spiritual blindness.
  • They thrive in chaos. If there isn’t any, they create it!
  • It wasn’t their idea.

Why it is so pervasive is a true mystery to me. Give me peace and tranquility. There is one caveat: Not all medicine and advice are good for you. Consider the source and the motive. What they give you could be the very thing to help you or it could be the thing that puts you under permanently. Know your friends and your enemies. Not all who say they wish you well have pure motives, and not all who appear to wish you harm have evil intentions. You had best learn the difference. If you get a gut check, listen!

“The best medicine and advice have a healthy dose of common sense.” Dan Skognes


Dan Skognes


Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

You can’t judge a book by looking at the cover, yet we judge people every day by how they look, don’t we? The sad thing is that some people look at anyone who is different as less than them. Whether they are different color, different religion, different political party, etc., being different does not necessarily make them wrong. It makes them different.

One of the things I like about The Voice on TV is that the judges can’t see the performers when they first hear them. That makes their decision solely based on their voice and not on how they look. Some of them look pretty strange, but when you hear them sing, they can blow you away. It at least levels the playing field in one respect.

Britain’s God Talent had a famous show many years ago where this frumpy woman came out on stage. Simon Cowell literally rolled his eyes when he saw her. She was strange looking and quirky in how she talked. Everyone was ready for a blooper and for her to have XXX immediately. Then Susan Boyle opened her mouth and sang: I Dreamed A Dream. Wow. She was incredible and had everyone shaking their heads in disbelief. If you have not seen the video, go to YouTube and watch it. It is quite inspirational.

The lesson to me is that we need to look beyond the cover of what we see. Sometimes the greatest thoughts, quotes, speeches, songs, and conversations happen with those who are not the most attractive people.

This is a lesson that kids need to learn too. If they do learn it early, they will be blessed in understanding humanity in ways that many people simply never learn. When we quit judging how others look we have made the first step in world peace, and that is a worthy goal, isn’t it?


Dan Skognes


Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

You can lead a child to school, but you can’t make him think. Thinking is inhibited by many things when you are trying to learn:

  • Lack of sleep.
  • Lack of proper nutrition.
  • Noise.
  • Learning disabilities like ADD/HD, Dyslexia, etc.
  • Poor eyesight and/or hearing.
  • Poor self-image.
  • Bullying.
  • Lighting (too bright or too dark).
  • Family drama.

Those are just a few of the inhibitors. Learning has a million faces and just as many ways to implement. This is not to promote a particular learning program but to point out simple things that can help create a thinking environment.  

Every child is unique and every one of them has a different learning style. This is the challenge for teachers when they are trying to implement their curriculum. You teach to the class, but you reach to the child. If they are tuned out for any reason, you have to be able to re-engage them.

A few suggestions to help:

  • If you know that the kids are particularly wound up, take a brain break. Let them do something fun like play a game or dance with a GoNoodle Video to help them get their energy out. I remember adults saying to me when I was little, “Can’t you sit still?!!!” The simple answer was “No, I can’t!”
  • Encourage parents to make sure kids get proper rest and are fed before school. You would not believe how many kids come to school with no breakfast and are totally exhausted from lack of sleep. Nobody thinks well when deprived of sleep or food.
  • Lighting and music can be used to create a learning environment. Consider using lamps instead of the harsh overhead lights and play appropriate music in the background.
  • Flexible seating helps. Using large inflatable balls to sit on is a treat for kids who need to bounce out their energy. Other kids prefer to stand when they learn. Create a classroom that has unique seating arrangements to give kids a choice. Giving them a choice helps give them a voice.
  • Allow for accommodations that each child needs.
  • Address bullying.
  • Encourage and praise baby steps.

School is mandatory. Learning is optional. Let’s give them a chance to think.


Dan Skognes

When You Think You’ve Arrived

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

“We never really arrive until we die.” Dan Skognes

Think about your life and all the places you have been and all the things you have accomplished. Have you ever truly arrived? I know you may have arrived at a place where you are comfortable, but are there not new people to meet, new places to go, new goals to achieve? That list is perpetual until we take our final breath.

My point here is that no matter how much money you have made, how much success you have achieved, or how famous you have become, you never truly arrive. It is just a part of the journey we call life and there is always another horizon.

Just because you are comfortable does not mean there is not more to do. I would encourage you to look at those around you and see what you can to do serve them. It is not hard to find people in need. They are everywhere. You can help with a smile, a word of encouragement, a simple act of kindness, etc.

If you have “arrived” in your mind, then you should have even more time and freedom to serve others. Volunteer at a local hospital or church. Go on a mission trip where all you do is serve others. It will change the way you look at life and at people…particularly if it is in a third-world country.

The world is incredibly small when you think about it. Imagine what would happen if any major country quit international trade. It would cause shock waves from which some countries would never fully recover. Of course, it would affect the country who quit trading as well, but depending on the country and their natural resources, they could possibly weather the storm where others could not.

We can do our part by touching the lives of those we encounter. When you see a need, don’t just be a spectator and expect that someone else will take care of it. If you have the resources, step up and fill the need. We can all afford to give a word of encouragement at the very least.


Dan Skognes