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®

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®

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®

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®

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®

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®

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.

Calm Courageous Confident vs. Crazed(!)

photo-10LOVE this. From always-brilliant Seth Godin:

Often, our instinct is to make the current bump in the road far more urgent than it actually is.

It focuses our attention and rallies those around us to take immediate and deliberate action.

After all, if this is the big one, of course we should drop everything and deal with it.

Missing from this equation is the cost of dropping everything. The short-term herk and jerk that is delivered by an organization that responds to those that amplify problems into catastrophes inevitably leads to poor performance in the long run.

Employees who do this ought to be counseled to cut it out. It’s not what we hired you to do. Bosses who catastrophize are often hesitant to admit it, though, and if you work for one, it’s going to continually hurt your ability to do your best work.

And non-profits who catastrophize to meet their next funding goal inevitably sabotage the very work they set it out to do in the first place, all because it’s an easy way to raise some extra money.



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

Photo:  Our Italian stone dining room table is more fun with this contemporary platinum-y runner. It’s at once calm, courageous, confident and yes, even a bit crazed. Perfect!

Earn The Relationship First

photo-13Years ago, I was brought in to lead a turnaround.

My directive was to win back revenue lost amidst a volatile marketplace.

I rolled up my sleeves and focused on meeting with the right people to get an understanding what, in their minds, the real issue was.

As is often the case, the real issue was buried deep beneath the façade of perception.

My big takeaway in that career-defining project?

Winning back lost revenue is not only about revenue…

It’s about Relationships.

When you reach out to build trust – and grant trust – you begin re-building 2-way relationships…

…and from that point forward you never need to chase the money again.


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

Photo: Love the metallic focus-inducing center of this simple silvery coaster I’ve had for over 20 years.