Saying The Unsayable On Leading, Living, Loving Lasting Married Life

photo-41I’m at our cabin on my annual BOLD REV!VAL retreat. Me, myself, and I. Along with a few loons, eagles, critters, cloudy and then sunny breezes, and at least three bears, one stuffed.

Being married 34 years, I have a lot to say on this subject.



Why now? Because I am willing to say the unsayable when it helps someone get ahead – no longer giving a rat’s asterisk about playing it safe. If you’re reading my writing you are choosing to do so. You can click away. If you’re in a conference, you can step away – altho my clients will tell you in Keynoting their conferences I take great care to understand why I was hired to speak and I respect that responsibility and bring what it takes to thoughtfully inspire your new success! And to my knowledge, over many years, no one has ever walked out of my keynote.


photo-5What I Know About Leading, Living, Loving & Lasting Marriage:

1.  In this, my 34th year being married to David, I know for a fact that the time comes again when you are/can be as passionately crazy in love as when you first met. 

2.  In order to love your life together, you have to first love yourself, your own life. No one hands this to you. You claim it. Own it. Cherish it as your own vow to yourself. Did I mention you first need to HAVE a life as you?

3.  The whole of your marriage is going to be as strong as your two pillars, each representing each of you. Marriages of one pillar, with one counting on the other to be your life, risk either tipping over or losing your grip, sinking in unexpected quicksand.

4.  You won’t find happiness in marriage if you can’t find happiness in yourself. Be aware when grass looks greener. Sure, we all make mistakes in our careers, landing work that is not really a right fit, eventually that gets straightened out. Having been fired, I’m pretty sure it’s easier to leave or be fired from not-right-fit work than it is to chase greener grass in marriage and deal with the realities of hurting someone you so deeply loved.

5.  There will be days you can’t stand each other. Just as there are days you can’t stand yourself.

6.  There will be times you are freaked out in fear of *this is my life*? Is this all there is?! Do an honest gut check: are you blaming someone else for your happiness? Owning your part in it? Hmmm. Thought so. How do I know? I’ve been there too.

7.  Keep friends of both sexes. You didn’t come into marriage with your husband/wife as your only friend – why would you stop being friends with others now? I have never enjoyed working with, and being friends with, all women as much as I enjoy working with, and being friends with, both men and women.

8.  If you choose to have kids you will no doubt wake up one day and realize your life has become *kids*. Don’t let it be a surprise when all you talk about any more is kids, their lives, their schedules, their needs, their futures, your friends’ kids… This is all part of your rich tapestry of married life you create together when you choose to have kids. At times, your kids will need to be your utmost top priority. And they deserve to be, and need you to be there for them. Our world needs parents to be there for growing kids, and to do so, our workplaces need to honor and help make work work for young and changing families(!) (We can all help by bringing new solutions, another topic for another day.) Trust this stage is not forever. Altho sometimes we all wish these cherished times could be.

9.  For Moms, remember being scared in the delivery room and then remembering your own Mom and your girlfriends who somehow made it through labor?? You too made it through. And together you’ll make it thru things that seem much tougher than this.

10.  For Dads, remember standing at that recently-assembled crib, now holding your real-life baby, scared to death if you will be able to afford college, much less day care?? You’ll have more financial concerns ahead. Talk it through. You’re not in this alone.

11.  For Couples, remember the first time you saw your husband/wife and what that felt like… and then fast forward to never expecting – never ever expecting a day when the bottom might fall out – for whatever b’gillion reasons bottoms fall out given the realities of everyday life (sheeshta, it’s amazing any of us make it thru!) when it just might suddenly hit you that you are no longer in love?



Life changes and life keeps changing. Stages come and stages go. I believe in leading, living and loving Life, including Married Life, in Sequenced Stages.

The Sequenced Stages in Married Life look something like this: 

Engagement. / Wedding. / Dating Each Other, Married. / Careers. / Kids. Kids. Kids. / Empty Nest – which I prefer to refer to not as empty or nest – as tho life must be only about kids – rather as: / Dating Each Other Again, Married. / Grandparenting (I have not experienced this stage, and tho I know it is claimed to be magical, I am in no hurry to leave this current stage of Dating Each Other Again, Married as our two recently-married kids enjoy their current exciting stage of Dating Each Other, Married).



IMG_1621Want To Lead, Live, Love YOUR Lasting Married Life?

!  Know who YOU are. 

!  Continue to grow as an INDIVIDUAL as you TOGETHER keep growing as a couple.

!  Keep something in your life you are PASSIONATE about. My Mom used to say there needs to be one thing in your life that is only yours. It does not involve your spouse or your work or your family or your friends. What could that be for you, that is only YOURS?

!  Encourage and Allow each other to TAKE TIME OFF, alone. You can’t work without breaks and vacations, why should married life be any different? Whether minutes or hours or days or weekends or – as mine has now grown to (in this 50-something stage of life) time claimed to get away and reflect, re-energize, learn something, create something, or do absolutely nothing – work or life. Claim it early on, so together you can find a way that this can work, based on realities of this stage of life, for both of you.

!  TRUST each other. Expect trust and grant trust. Trust is possibly the underlying KEY SECRET to a happy, lasting marriage. There are others, but this is huge. You’ve earned and granted trust in choosing each other. It’s up to you to keep it.

!  Allow your head to go to that at-times unthinkable place. GO AHEAD: Make your grandiose exit plan – at some time or another most of us have! And then stop and look at what you really have in each other. And then self-check whether you are blaming someone else for your own happiness?

Whether exciting, exhilarating, or inexplicably frustrating… this stage too shall pass! And if there is any one message I used all these words to inspire you with, here it is:

Get To The NEXT Stage Together.  And Then The NEXT.  It’s Definitely NOT Easy.  It IS Absolutely Worth It. 


photo-19As in Self-Leadership, Confidence and Success… as in Business and Life… Leading and Living and Loving Your Lasting Married Life Takes Each of You… individually and together.

Do One BOLD Thing.  Own It Like You Own It.

(You & Both Of You, Together.)

Choosing To Stay Happily Married?  

It’s Up To YOU!


© 1993-2017  Ann Ulrich   THE BOLD! FACTOR®

Photos:  1) An evening glimpse of lake at our cabin… one of the places I love to come for reflection and rejuvenation. Mindful that it doesn’t take any special PLACE to do so, it simply takes an attitude and commitment to create the life we want, right where we’re at… which is up to ME. 2) This is what 34 years of marriage looks like. Some days anyway! And our red eyes? Not blaming the camera. We’re owning ’em as earned in happy tears shared on this special day of our son’s wedding ;) 3) My ever-passionate BOLD red *!* logo. 4) Minneapolis Aquatennial Fireworks exploding over the river in front of our condo.

Feeling Accomplished? Go Be A Rookie Again!

photo-49Creating success?

Flying high?

Soaring at the top of your game?


We all deserve that fabulous feeling of *accomplished*!

And the more Accomplished we get, the more we need to go be a Rookie again. 

Being a Rookie keeps us Real.

It builds Empathy, Compassion, Awareness and Humility.

Ah, Humility. That’s a tricky one. Brings to mind Golda Meir’s brilliant quote: *Don’t be so humble, you’re not that great.*  (Ouch!)

Can’t figure out how to actually be a Rookie again?

Go Mentor One.

When it comes to creating ripples of new Success… 

It’s Up To YOU!


© 1993-2013  Ann Ulrich  THE BOLD! FACTOR®

Photo: I came across this jewel of a scene on a walk near our cabin last Fall. Leafy green trees are certainly *accomplished*. After 20+ years of cabin life, to never have seen this long-standing tree stump of mossy mushrooms formed into gorgeous peachy pinky orange bouquets, opened my eyes. I guess you could say in that moment I became a Rookie at finding new beauty in the familiar.

Your Courageous Confidence

IMG_1605On this gorgeous May morning, I’m thinking about a question I’ve been asked over the years:

“When it comes to being BOLD, what comes first: Courage or Confidence?”

A thought-provoking *chicken or egg*, isn’t it?

After researching, reflecting, and my favorite way to learn: experience and observation, I had concluded: It Depends. (Yes, the ULTIMATE NOT-SATISFYING RESPONSE TO ANYTHING!) Or, Both:

It takes Courage to be Confident.

It takes Confidence to be Courageous.

Which begs two questions: “How do I become Courageous in a situation if I’m not feeling Confident?” (and) “How do I become Confident if I’m not feeling Courageous?!”

Dr. Maya Angelou recently shed light on this in her wise and wonderful way. She says:

COURAGE is the most important of all virtues. Because without COURAGE you cannot practice the others consistently. 

So there it is.

And here is my 2-step BOLD interpretation for you:

Let your Courage (your ability to do something that frightens you) support, guide and champion your Confidence.

First: Let Courage be your WILLINGNESS to step in… the engine deep inside you that says not necessarily *I can* do this (that will come)… start with *I WILL* do this, fear and all. When you WILL do, feeling the fear and doing it anyway… that’s bravery, that’s Courage. This is where you start.

Next: Your Courage shows up and suddenly you’re ready for your Confidence to kick in… moving you into ACTION… even tiny-step action… to achieve whatever is right in front of you. Confidence is your *can do*, I DID IT! feeling. You’ll build new Confidence by taking Courageous, inspired action on whatever is stopping you.

When it comes to being BOLD… Confidence is the gift in being Courageous.

I hope you find comfort in this next time you have an unsurmountable situation of any size roadblocking you from achieving that next thing. Big or Small. Work or Life.

Trust COURAGE as your stepping stone to fire-up your CONFIDENCE… as you move forward, creating your next Success

It’s Up To YOU!


©1993-2013   Ann Ulrich     THE BOLD! FACTOR®

Photo:  I love colored glass. This vase makes us smile year-round. I move it to a spot where it catches the sun and dances little spots of sunlight across our living room. I’m smiling thinking about it. Note to self: Fill life with simple smile-inducing-ness!

PS. THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE. I hope writings here inspire you to take new action, to Do One BOLD Thing to create new success, as you Lead Live and Love your right-fit-for-you BOLD Exclamation Point *!* Life! Because even tho it may be dressed as Business or Work, it’s all Life.

3 Simple Ways To Put Your Own Skip Back In Your SkippidyDoDa!

photo-67Next time you crave jumpstarting your work or waking up your life…

to get back on top of your game…

flying high again…

feeling that fabulous feeling of owning it like you own it…

Put Your Own Skip Back In Your SkippidyDoDa

(it’s easier than you think)

1.  Be Your Own Caffeine! 

The great news? You don’t need that extra cup of coffee, or that next stream of someone else’s inspiration flashing by, it’s not even about, you know, *willpower*. Simply decide any moment you choose to yes, be your own caffeine. Get going! See what happens!

2. Practice Social Generosity.

Social Generosity is The BOLD! Factor way of spreading contagious excellence. When you need to feel alive again, try taking the focus off yourself: find a simple way to help someone else get ahead!  Quick start: rather than deleting that next great article, post or email that comes your way, share it with a quick thought from you, hoping it helps make their day!

3. Dance Through The Commercials!

Watching TV can make you feel like life is happening around you, and before you know it, you’re glad they’re doing all the heavy lifting so you can just sink. in. further… Enjoy the show and then Get Up and Dance! through every commercial. Trust me. This works. It will change the way you feel! How many minutes of commercials in an hour of TV? Do the Math! SMILE: You just fit in a great little workout! And don’t you feel terrific?!


I’m on a mission… to inspire you to create your own Success with Self-Leadership & Confidence… championing you to: 

Take one inspired thought, apply courageous action and move your own mountains! 


Go ahead. Put the Skip back in YOUR SkippidyDoDa:

Do One BOLD Thing. 

Own It Like You Own It. 

It’s Up To YOU!


© 1993-2013    Ann Ulrich   THE BOLD! FACTOR®

Photo: Fresh new box of BOLD! bookmarks. Thanks to two of my favorite business partners:  Ian Ulrich and Sergio Castro at and Cindy and Tim Trainor at Printing Enterprises Inc. I’d love to introduce you!

Let Props Of Your Life Keep You Real

Let Props Of Your Life Keep You Real?  Yes. That.

photo-65Here’s a pic from a recent Keynote, speaking to 400.

Here’s a better close-up: photo-68

Oh and about those props, here ya go:photo-66

Every prop is a *favorite or humorous thing* representing a BOLD Nugget I weave into real-life stories to help make The BOLD! Factor strategies come to life… and stick.

Leaving a few props untouched is a purposeful BOLD strategy representing the need to leave room in our work and life for Curiosity and Uncertainty.

My favorite prop is, well, I can’t name a favorite. Lots more where these came from and I love them all. The Crazy Orange Pillow makes me smile so I’m adding it to Red as my next BOLD color. The pillow represents Imperfection, and the importance of not waiting for things to be Perfect. Go. Do. Be. Now. You’re Amazing Just As You Are!

I don’t even like that word: Perfect. So I add an o! calling it Perfecto! with an Italian smile, having nothing to do with being that ever-elusive, stress-inducing, energy-wasting, when-you-achieve-it-what-happens-then-that-you-can’t-achieve-by-being-happy-being-less-than-perfect… ugh that word: Perfect. 

The value of real-life Props came to life for me years ago when my husband David asked me to please go buy him a Yellow Paisley Tie. What?! (please, as in just do it, don’t ask ;) I knew he couldn’t stand yellow paisley. And tho he wears suits, he rarely wears ties… I’ll save the Yellow Paisley Tie story for my next presentation. And I’ll include it in my book.

(OK, that bugs me when people leave us hanging to wait/find something in their book. I won’t delete this, but I will not make a practice of repeating things that drive me nutz. Every time I speak I get to NOT do the stuff some keynote speakers do that, yes, drive me nutz. Don’t get me started… I’ll walk that talk instead of talking that talk, by simply being Real.)

If you remember the Imperfect of The Crazy Orange Pillow then this post has served its purpose. 

With my 52 BOLD strategies growing now beyond 100 as I write my book… I won’t be packing props for keynotes when I travel. I’ll find another way to bring the stories to life. And help make them stick. For you.

Why Props?

Because Props Of Your Life Keep You Real. And now more than ever… real people crave people who are willing to be REAL.

What Props are you packing from your Adventures called Real Life?


I mean, Perfecto!


© 1993-2013 Ann Ulrich  THE BOLD! FACTOR®

Photos: I love taking pictures for my blog, hard to do when I’m speaking, so thank you to Gary, the amazing sound guy at CSOM who caught these. He even found a way to tuck the mic battery pack under my hair so no cords to tangle, no bulges I didn’t need. Cool!