Fear And Your Non-Negotiable Dream You Will Make Happen Even If It Takes A Lifetime

photo-35Sometimes, dreams really can take a lifetime.

After a few waves of *what the heck was that?!* of the recent past…

…one thing has become crystal clear:

No more waiting (for any of us!) before claiming and creating our next *it*. 

If you’re waiting until you’re, you know, just a bit further along… or a little more experienced… just that much more *ready*… before you go for it and make your next move… or if you’re holding off on moving forward until the time is finally just right… ask yourself:

Is FEAR holding you back from leading and living the work and/or life you crave?

Life is too precious to waste one moment by not exhaling out of fear.

Try this instead: Risk falling on your face – or stubbing your toe trying – by moving forward one step at a time directly into whatever you’re most afraid of… so you can stop that slowly-sinking-in-quicksand feeling called fear… and start breathing life into your life again… coming ALIVE again!

I hope this favorite quote inspires you as it inspires me, everyday:

“It’s no longer about asking what our world needs. Ask what makes you come Alive and go do that. Our world needs people who come ALIVE!”  Thurman/Ulrich

Put yourself out there and make something happen.

Claim your dream and make it non-negotiable.

Let us know so we can cheer you on!

What’s your non-negotiable dream you will make happen… even if it takes a lifetime?


© 1993-2013  Ann Ulrich Inc.    THE BOLD! FACTOR®      AnnUlrich.com

Photo: I love noticing dreamy light fixtures. This lights up a favorite downtown Minneapolis restaurant, Zelo.

Before You Diss Or Dismiss Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In

IMG_1621Just so you know, I am a huge fan of Sheryl Sandberg.

Drawn in at first by her ground-breaking, high-impact TED talk, I wanted more! I was bummed when Amazon said her book would arrive a week later – what? – tho it arrived in 2 days. I devoured it the next evening and haven’t finished it just yet.

I’m purposely sharing thoughts without having finished her book. Why? While I strongly recommend that we DO read deeper than simply opining based on surface details or popular conversations… I don’t ever want to stop you, or curb your appetite (in fact I want to encourage you!) to practice sharing – start sharing – and keep sharing – your own BOLD point of view.

We learn so much from you and from each other. We need to keep hearing many voices, of various pitches and cadences, to keep growing by being open to experience many points of view. Not just the louder ones. And not just the more comfortable ones.

Regarding the hoopla, controversy and kudos surrounding Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, Lean In, I’ve immersed myself listening and learning from all sides. As owner of The BOLD! Factor and a positive force for self-leadership, confidence and re-igniting success… I’m passionate to discover and share my own BOLD POV in response to what’s being said.

Here’s what I’ve been hearing – and a few thinkabouts to share – as I’d like to challenge status quo thinking:

1) *She is out of touch. Sheryl Sandberg has no clue what my world is like.*

Ah, relatability. So, important isn’t it? In fact, Sheryl would probably relate it to her very real concern that likeability is holding us back.

So she has no clue what your world is like, right? It’s really not about that tho, is it?

She is not trying to present her point of view from an *I Am Everywoman, Everywhere* perspective. In fact, I love the way she continues to say that this is HER experience, not everyone’s, in a very welcoming, humble at times, keep-it-real way. I’ve grown to love this about her. She is not trying to pretend she knows YOUR life. She’s simply reflecting from her own place, what she sees happening in the world of work, and what she intends to do to help positively impact change she sees as needed, in women stepping up to take charge of their own success.

For those who feel she doesn’t know or relate to your life. Of course she doesn’t know your life. Again, she’s not trying to. Do you really know and can you relate to her life as COO of Facebook? I know I sure can’t. And I have no interest to.

2) *She’s successful and her life is what it is because she’s privileged.* 

Privileged?  She sure is!**

Smart? Talented? Gifted? Yes, Yes, and Yes!

Let’s be willing to keep surrounding ourselves with, and learning from, people who are different, smarter, quieter, louder, more global, more local… than us!

She’s letting us know she has a hard time accepting success kudos. She says she still struggles with her own success. And no, she didn’t give a thought to negotiating her own hiring offer Facebook first presented. It was her husband who insisted she does not say Yes to the first offer.

Oh sure, see, she IS privileged – she has a supportive husband! Yes she is and yes she does. And I know, that part about no plan to negotiate her offer surprised me, too!

She addresses what some see as adding/piling on to her Privilege: her powerful statement about choosing the right partner, making your partner your real partner, to go through life with. For me, this is among the most courageous statements she makes. At this stage of my life, looking back from here, I personally and enthusiastically applaud her in speaking that truth, out loud.

She’s NOT saying it’s easy, even in her privileged life. She IS saying it’s important.

**Let’s look at that word: Privileged. We are all, in our own special way, Privileged. When we hold that against someone else, maybe we simply aren’t willing to take a closer look to see what Privilege in our own life looks life.

I got up today. I’m not just living… I’m ALIVE. In this, I am PRIVILEGED. How about you. What does *Privilege* look like for you?

3) *She’s blaming ME for the problems of my company, my organization, my industry.*

Well, no, she’s not exactly blaming you as much as wanting to help with what she calls a need for women to Lean In and keep Leaning In.

I call it BOLD Self-Leadership: Owning It Like You Own It. These concepts are not too far apart, which may be why I love what she’s trying to do.

And let’s face it, problems inherent in work are not going to be solved overnight.

On the other hand… based on what I know to be true, get this:

When it comes to the Self-Leadership aspect of The BOLDFactor and Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In… whatever YOU want to change in YOURSELF… you can most certainly change, sometimes overnight! I certainly have changed a few of my own *things* overnight and YOU CAN CHANGE YOURS TOO!

4) *Men are the reason Women are being held back from top positions, from leadership roles, from living the life we want, from being who and what we are capable of being…*

I’m calling BS on this.

I’m not turning this into a why-I-DON’T-blame-men rant, because I’ve decided I’m not joining that conversation. It’s OLD. I’d rather be BOLD. I sometimes think it’s more the women of my (boomer) generation that continue to fan these flames. Ugh. Enough already.

YES, there are plenty of men who are jerks and men who will not *let women in*. For sure. And you’re kidding yourself if you don’t believe there are also plenty of women who are jerks and who will not let women in. Boom. 

I get blasted when I say this, but I’m going to keep saying it: Guess What. Many Smart Women Do Not WANT (much less crave, which is the true BOLDometer for any real personal change) What Comes With That Corner Office.

Some Smart Women DO, and BRAVO YOU! because we need BOTH men and women at the top and every level in between. We’re all in this game of life together, and we certainly need each other to all be in this game of work, together.

BOLD! NUGGET: If you feel you are being held back by men (or women!) then dig deep, find the courage, and invite the conversation. Directly with that person.

You might learn a lot. You might come away even more disgusted, in which case, why are you still there?! And imagine this: you might come away having inspired someone else, opened their eyes, to a whole new way of seeing reality. How exciting is that?!

5) *Women are the ones who need to – and who will – fix this.* 

Not so fast.

When it comes to shifting and changing workplace realities, these issues and opportunities requires both men and women at the table, invited into and involved in, these important conversations. 

In summary re: Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In movement and launching her great concept of Leaning In Circles:

While I love the concept and believe in the possibilities of small groups of women gathering in conversation and encouragement, taking new, inspired action…

What I hope doesn’t happen is creating an even bigger divide, by sustaining women-only gatherings to solve workplace issues that desperately require BOTH men and women at the table, with all voices participating and heard. 

I applaud Sheryl Sandberg for shedding big light on this hugely important topic… and starting these controversial conversations.

The risk is already worth it!

What’s on your mind? Whether you’re passionate or new to this whole conversation… I hope you’ll let us know.

And by the way, thanks for stopping by! I’m glad you’re here!


®1993-2013 Ann Ulrich    THE BOLD! FACTOR®     AnnUlrich.com

Photo:  There was never a doubt in my mind as to what my logo would be when I launched my own business. Having been forever marked-down by my teachers – in probably every grade – for overly-enthusiastic overuse of the !!! in my writing, reports, art… I colored one BOLD RED in 1993… and ever since use it to my heart’s content! (!!)

Need. Want. CRAVE.

photo-50It didn’t strike me until the drive back home.

It took being turned down for a client project I was referred into which, as many direct referrals can be, this was indeed a perfect fit.

A potentially perfect fit. Or so it seemed.

At first glance anyway.

That day I observed, listened and learned much about two simple words:  

Need and Want.

The client I would be working with, as Trusted Advisor championing, advising and guiding her in quickly ramping up new success, was just promoted into a freshly-minted executive role. The project required focusing our work together in a few key areas:

Professionalism, self-leadership, executive presence and confidence.

Right up my alley.

At her executive salary, in her executive role, and in this successful fast-paced firm, the plan to have her contributing at a high level was imminent, clear and achievable. On many counts, she was simply a Rockstar.

There was one obvious thing missing:  her own motivation to change. 

That can be a project deal breaker for me. Altho I didn’t get the chance to decide that because she instead chose the route of continued perpetual assessment. (This would bring her to nearly one dozen with no new action taken – other than completing the next assessment!). With no action taken on the findings, as a result, nothing changed.

Which is why I was brought in… Next!

It can happen when someone else sees change you need, stands ready to invest in whatever it takes to achieve change you need… when what really matters is that YOU want to change for YOU, YOUR career, YOUR life… 

Not for change sake and not as change for others. That’s a tough road.


IMG_1621Next time YOU want to achieve change in your work or life. REAL change. Ask yourself a few questions:

Do you NEED this change? this new impact, result, outcome? (and why?)

Do you WANT this change? this new impact, result, outcome? (and why?)

Or Do You CRAVE this change. (and why?!)


Need It? and you’ll soon find the air has left your balloonthe motivation needed to change requires more than Need. (and if someone else has chosen this change as needed for you? Good luck with that.)

Want It? and now you’ve invested some firepower, motivation, or at least enough passion to shift beyond Need to Want…

CRAVE IT?! with the right plan and support system in place, you are setting yourself up for SUCCESS! REAL passion and REAL motivation and REAL ownership and REAL commitment.


Think about it the next time you wonder why the workouts didn’t last, the project didn’t get finished, the popular book never got read, or the passion in general fizzled or derailed. I’m thinking about this, too!

As a result of that almost-new-client experience, I better understand now why I drift from certain goals and yet I spot-on nail a few others!

photo-19Maybe you needed it or thought you wanted it… because if you truly CRAVED the outcome or result… you’d still be on your way or looking back, smiling at moving forward on – and achieving – any goal you actually CRAVED. 

Let your head take you to whatever goal is next… but it’s your PASSION that will light your fire and keep it flaming bright… through every obstacle, distraction, and excuse that threatens to derail you.

And YES there will be obstacles, distractions and excuses to derail you!

Next time you’re addressing a potential change… Try this:

!  Ask yourself:  Is THIS change is worth your BEST BOLD EFFORT. What’s motivating you? Why?

!  Next:  Run a quick Need. Want. CRAVE. test on your personal BOLDometer to scale up and validate your Why.

!  And then: Run with it or Walk away! and either way…


That’s Confidence. That’s Self-Leadership. That’s Success!


© 1993-2013 Ann Ulrich   THE BOLD! FACTOR®     AnnUlrich.com

Photos:  We light this tray of candles, lots of candles actually, as our moveable fireplace in our condo. Fireworks are a favorite annual event – shot over the 3rd Avenue downtown Mpls bridge – right in front of our deck.

What If You Really Are Amazing…

… just the way you are.

Aaaaand what about when you’re NOT?

photo-27David and I just spent a few days *Up North in God’s Country* Ely MN, where his company has a brilliant team, great community and beautiful office.

I went along for the fresh perspective a change of scenery brings in researching, thinking about, and writing my book.

(With morning temperatures of -25 and -35 degrees… Whoa! That air was pure Caffeine!)

I knew we would have a great time. What I didn’t expect in working on my book was this:

1.  I called BS on myself where I was NOT amazing.

2.  I tossed massive content where my voice has changed and am no longer about *that*.

3.  I thought about YOU – and all the Noise – and all the Should’s – and all the NOT GOOD ENOUGH’s – all the DODODO BEBEBE MOREMOREMORE – and those times when we own our greatness (BRAVO!) and yet what about those times we may need a fresh jolt, a wake-up call… yes, self-included. (see #1 above)

I came away from all that with this thought for you:





This is where the gut-check reality comes in. BEING AMAZING INCLUDES TIMES WE ARE NOT ALL THAT AMAZING…

THOSE are the times that present the opportunities head-on: to grow, change, disrupt, re-invent… to be what you know you crave.

Reality check: Nothing shifts or changes or happens with any inspired thought until you apply courageous action.

So go ahead. Jolt your BOLD.  Bring your Amazing … to one situation, conversation, opportunity, presentation, challenge, relationship, work or life. Today

IMG_1621Believe It. 

Own It.

Lead & Live It. 

Deny Substitutions!

OK, it’s Monday. Just not feeling it?

Relax… there’s someone in your life who’d cherish your word of encouragement, your nod of *keep going!* or simply your smile.

Find one way to champion THEIR Amazing today. 

See what happens.


© 1993-2013 Ann Ulrich, THE BOLD! FACTOR®  AnnUlrich.com

Photo:  Apparently lots of hot chocolate with marshmellow drinkers at the Ely Lodge!

Seeing With New Eyes

This painting has been in our home for years…


Today, for the first time, I noticed his smile.

I’m drawn to smiles. So how have I never seen this smile before, when it’s right in front of me. In our home. Every day.

Did I STOP and actually SEE this painting on this relaxing Sunday morning…

…as tho seeing it for the first time?

What if we STOP and SEE… as tho for the first time.

STOP and LISTEN… as tho for the first time.

STOP and SPEAK… as tho for the first time.

STOP and SMILE… as tho for the first time.

STOP and HUG… as tho for the first time.

STOP and ACCEPT… as tho for the first time.

Maybe it’s more about STOPPING.

Than it is about SEEING.

Try it this week:


As tho for the first time.


©1993-2013 Ann Ulrich, THE BOLD! FACTOR®   AnnUlrich.com

Photo:   In our dining room, a favorite shabby old 1955 painting I found in a French-themed flea market in Mpls by artist Naring. It reminds me of a favorite experience I had in Taiwan in the year of the Horse, 1990.

Leading At Work. At Home. In Your Community.

Feeling pulled in a million (or at least a few too many) directions?!


Sheeshta… No Wonder!

Work. Home. Community.

Family. Friends. Colleagues.

Companies. Organizations. Associations.

Calendars. Schedules. Commitments.

Responsibilities. Challenges. Opportunities………

Now more than ever, you need to take charge if you want to lead YOUR version of YOUR Best BOLD Life.

(The life you crave. Yes, that one. Yes, it’s within reach!) 

Define it. Design it. Deny Substitutions.

To live Bigger… you may need to live Smaller.

Where to start? Here:



It’s Up To YOU!


©1993-2013 Ann Ulrich, THE BOLD! FACTOR®  AnnUlrich.com

Photo: These colorful sticks make me smile. They were fun outside in a vase with our tangerine deck furniture, till I brought them inside for the winter with our red leather furniture and propped in my favorite white vase – staying put right here.

Self-Confidence, Self-Criticism & Self-Sabotage

Based on workplace stats, the conversations regarding women being/feeling held back by men, and women opting out of next level and top-tier leadership roles, are apparently alive and well.

It’s true: Women DO self-select out of promotion opportunities. And, as we all know, this can be a smart decision based on her priorities.

Some women realize what’s involved in next-step roles, and in roles leading from the C-Suite, and decide it’s simply not worth it. Or doesn’t fit her bigger-picture vision of the work and life she craves. In fact, maybe this was someone else’s idea of a right next move, and never was her goal.


What bothers me is this:

With strong, smart women now in and entering the workforce, we STILL see lack of Self-Confidence… and STILL see Self-Criticism and Self-Sabotage holding us back.

Big time.

I’ve been there, too. And it’s not a fun place to be.

I want to be part of the story that STOPS blaming men, women, gender, life and organizational realities and SHIFTS the investment to champion, develop and support individual Self-Leadership and Ownership. 

Let the change begin with *me* vs *them*.

(By the way, you won’t hear a peep of male-bashing from me. I’m simply not about that and don’t promote it and don’t support it. I see blaming others as simply an excuse. We’ve all had colleagues and bosses who were some fabulous, others jerks, regardless of gender. Most of my key Mentors over the years were great men who not only brought out the best in me, a few were also Sponsors who removed a few barriers so I could succeed, opened doors to bigger challenges I was at first scared to step into, and yet deep down I knew… with support like that… how could I fail?!

(I still did fail at times… but not a single fail turned into a *failure*. And that’s another story for another day!)

What if we no longer blame women or men for today’s realities?

Let’s focus instead on taking Ownership. Owning it. As individuals. From a blame-free place of inspired action we’re most likely to create and bring our own new solutions.

Try this: If a he/she issue comes up, re-address it as gender-neutral and see how quickly perceptions and attitudes might change. (Aha!)

Sometimes it seems my own baby boomer generation fans these flames of male/female hierarchies. Let’s instead be ready and willing to succeed … in this fascinating game of work and life… together!

Self-Confidence soars 

as Self-Criticism and Self-Sabotage evaporate 

when you OWN IT. 

It’s Up To YOU!


©1993-2013 Ann Ulrich, THE BOLD! FACTOR®   AnnUlrich.com

Photo:  There was never a doubt in my mind as to what my logo would be when I launched my own business. Having been forever marked-down by my teachers – in probably every grade – for overly-enthusiastic overuse of the !!! in my writing, reports, art… I colored one BOLD RED in 1993… and ever since use it to my heart’s content! (!!)

Serendipity, Whitespace & Downtime

photo-2No one hands you:


It’s tough to recognize…and even tougher to indulge in:


And most important of all

just might be:


Expanding or shifting your Whitespace may be the ONE BOLD THING you’ll do next time you want to change the trajectory in building your business and loving your life…

Grab a favorite magazine and look closely at an ad. See how the Whitespace allows you to focus right where the advertiser wants your attention?

Now take a look at your business / your life and notice how the Whitespace allows you to focus – or lack of Whitespace distracts you from focusing(!) – on right where you really want to be.

IMG_1586David and I added the Whitespace we craved in our life when we kept our promise to each other (and to our kids, who couldn’t say they weren’t expecting this ;) that at 50 we would sell whatever house we lived in and downsize all the *stuff* to instead live our dream of a simpler, easier and more exciting city condo and lake cabin life.

Even though our goal was crystal clear, the process itself was at times super stressful, requiring an all-in commitment to DO this. We did not want to look back years later and realized we had only talked about it without making it happen.

The impact of that one massive change was immediate, positive and powerful.

The new Whitespace we created in our life gave birth to a whole new world of possibilities.

As in all things Self-Leadership… No one hands you Serendipity, Whitespace or Downtime in your work or life… you need to carve it out, claim it, covet it and OWN IT.


It’s Up To YOU!


©1993-2012 Ann Ulrich, THE BOLD! FACTOR®  AnnUlrich.com

Photo:  On a *downtime* getaway to our lake cabin last Fall, I took a long walk through our familiar woods and came across this magical scene. As tho painted right there to light up my day. Funny, it may have been there for years and I just never noticed? The city scene is from our deck – as antidote to our cabin life – when we chose to downsize all the *stuff*.

Swing Like A Kid Again

Next time you’re starting a new project, meeting a new client, building a new dream, blossoming a new relationship, creating a new strategy, putting a fresh new spin on a tired old program, or re-imagining a confident new YOU…

Swing Like A Kid Again!

Free yourself from old expectations you know are holding you back.

Stop caring what other people think.

Toss the instruction manual … pick the beginning, middle, or end … and simply START.

Let yourself Swing Like A Kid Again! Remember the feeling?! Push me higher! Run under my swing Daddy! Let me Soar till my feet touch the clouds!

Let’s free ourselves to Swing Like Kids Again.

Why did we ever stop?!


© 1993-2012. Ann Ulrich  THE BOLD! FACTOR®  ANNULRICH.COM

Guilty Pleasure

photo-12On a recent flight home, I broke the golden rule of being a good seatmate:

I interrupted the reading-immersed woman sitting next to me.

Noticing she had not come up for air since firing up her ereader, I asked if she always preferred reading digital books.

I mentioned still loving to curl up with my ink-doodled piles of books vs holding my hard metal iPad.

Her comment will forever crack me up:

*If I were reading a business book like you, I’d have no problem holding that book in my lap for all the world to see…*

She continued, *I’m reading the 3rd book in the 50 Shades of Grey series… I’m traveling with my team and believe me I don’t need anyone to know what book I’m devouring… it’s my secret guilty pleasure.*

The look in her eyes told me she sure hoped I didn’t know anyone on her team! 


© 1993-2012 Ann Ulrich  THE BOLD! FACTOR®  ANNULRICH.COM

Photo:  Ahhhh what better to signify Guilty Pleasure than one of my favorite cuddle-up blankets. This living room blanket is always nearby when I immerse in hours of reading.