Archive for January, 2012

The power of visualization


One of the techniques used by many top athletes, sales professionals and executives is visualization. This technique is nothing new so I am surprised that more people are not adopting it.

Visualization consists of seeing yourself completing the event (achieving success) or completing the actions that will get you there.  Are you looking to get the promotion that will give you the corner office? Visualize what you would like most about that job. Is it the splendid view of a lake or the greenery? If so imagine yourself standing in that office and taking a few minutes every day in that office to enjoy that beautiful view.  On the other hand, if what appeals to you is the nice salary that comes with the position, go ahead and imagine all of the things that you will now be able to afford. 

But to get to that corner office, will require some work. What is it? Do you have to sell X amount? Visualize yourself making successful sales presentation after successful presentation. Go through the steps of a successful sale presentation. Are you making a mistake as you’re making that presentation? Correct yourself.

A lot of data have been collected when it comes to the power of visualization. One of the best known experiments is one conducted by Alan Richardson with basketball players. The experiment consisted of 3 group of basketball players: a) one group was made to practice free throws every day for 20 days; b) the second group shot free throws on the first and 20th day only (no practice in between); c) the third group like the 2nd group did not practice but they were instructed to visualize making free throws. As expected, the group that did not practice at all did not have any improvement. However, the group that practiced visualization did as well as the group that practiced every day (24% in improvement of free throws for the group that practiced every day versus 23% for the group that used visualization technique).

Start with one goal that you are trying to achieve whether personal or business. Visualize what it looks like once you achieve success. Also, visualize being successful at completing the activities needed to get there. For example, if you are looking to lose weight, imagine fitting in that size 10 dress versus a size 14 visualize walking into the office, going to a conference or going to church and getting all the compliments about how you look. At the same time, visualize getting on that treadmill 5 days a week; running in the neighborhood; running a 5k or a marathon and being in the zone…

Do I practice visualization? You betcha. I have been doing it for years even before I realized that such concept existed and had been studied. I’ve been always pretty good at imagining stuff as a kid such as going all the way with my education and the pleasure that would come from receiving all kinds of accolades. Later in life, I became more and more disciplined by writing down what I wanted to visualize. First I started with writing what I wanted to visualize on sticky notes that would go in my wallet to now having them on my IPad.


(if intrigued, I suggest googling “visualization technique” ; there are also many articles and documents related to sports and visualization that can be found using Google Scholar).

January 27, 2012 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

The Perseverance of Pierre Garcon

I have always been fascinated by the fact that players from other that the big college powerhouses are able to make it to the NFL. What’s more inspiring is when a player from a Division III (this would mean 0 appearance on national TV) makes it to the greatest sport league in the US.

Here is a blog entry by Georganne Hassell on a fellow Haitian-American Pierre-Garcon, the wide-receiver for the Indianapolis Colts.

January of 2010 was a momentous month in the world of football. A young Haitian-American set a new record in the AFC Championship game of catching 11 passes, boosting his team to victory. Pierre Garcon of the Indianapolis Colts did something else unexpected that day. He took his family’s native colors and paired them with the AFC Championship trophy to show his support for Haiti. Barely two weeks earlier Pierre, along with thousands of other Haitian-Americans was searching for family after a devastating earthquake hit the island. In the midst of the chaos Pierre kept strong and persevered–something he’s had to do his entire life.

The earthquake in Haiti wasn’t the only event to rock Pierre’s life out of balance. His father, Jules, died when he was only six years old, leaving his mother Marie to care for the family. Pierre says his intense work ethic is inspired by his mother who worked harvesting the fields by day and a shift in the postal service at night. As a college football player, Pierre had his own work cut out for him. He always had the dream of playing in the Superbowl, but rarely shared it at his Division III school of Mount Union. Despite the obstacles Pierre took whatever opportunity open to him to pursue his goal of being in the NFL. In 2008 he accomplished his goal when he was picked in the 6th round draft to play for the Colts. He spent his rookie NFL years learning from his teammates, and especially credits Peyton Manning for helping perfect his game. “I feel like he got better in his rookie year even though he wasn’t playing a lot,” said Manning. “He didn’t waste a year. When he was called upon in certain situations, he knew what to do.”

The same held true after the earthquake, when Pierre stepped right up to show his pride for Haiti and inspire others to help his parents’ homeland. Pierre said realizing his goals, whether its fundraising for Haiti or going to the Superbowl, were key to achieving success. “You don’t have to be from the biggest country,” he said. “You don’t have to be from the best place. You just have to work towards your goals and stay focused. Perseverance takes you a long way.”


January 24, 2012 at 11:05 am Leave a comment

The Power of Declaration

One of the greatest powers that we have at our disposition is the power to declare what will be instead of what is. I have been using this technique for many years and later I found out that many successful people use this technique as well.

In this context, I mean declaration is simply to state what you want to see happen in the future without knowing how it will happen. This may include a goal, a positive behavior change or new characteristic that you want to acquire. Here are some examples of declarations:

  • “By the end of the year, I have been promoted to Sales Manager”
  • “I have achieved $1M in sales by the end of the year”
  • “I am enjoying getting back in my old clothes”
  • “I am disciplined”
  • “I am continuously improving”

When you make a declaration, you don’t need to know how the declaration will become true. You can do it before you have a plan. Here are some techniques in using the power of declaration:

  • Use present tense not future tense. For example don’t say “I will become more disciplined” simply state “I am disciplined”.
  • If you can, use past tense such as “By the end of the year, I have achieved X”
  • State a benefit of accomplishing the dream or declaration “I am enjoying my new corner office…”.

When I teach this technique to some people, they are reluctant to use it. To some, it looks freaky. I can understand why. It seems to be pretentious to state something and hope that it will materialize kind of like being G_d materializing the creation out of nothing. I would point out that for those of us of Judeo-Christian background that in fact the bible encourages us to declare boldly what we want.

Why does the power of declaration works? Frankly, I don’t know. I simply know it works for me and it works for many other people. In fact, I have yet to find someone who said they use it and don’t believe it works. If I could take a very wild guess, I would say that it has something to do with our brain being more powerful than we understand it to be.

Do you have some dreams deep inside that you want to accomplish? I dare you; in fact I double dare you to declare it in writing.

In a future post, I will discuss the twin power of declaration: the power of visualization.

January 20, 2012 at 5:26 pm 2 comments

Please give me your input on the new name for the blog

After some thinking, I’ve decided to change the name for the blog from Malfini to AyiPreneur. The idea is to make the blog more focused and to have a name that reflects the focus of the blog. When I review the entries on the blog and what I am interested in writing about in the future, it is about success, leadership and business (starting and growing a business) from the point of view of an Haitian-American. There is no doubt that most of what I write about is colored by my experience as an Haitian-American.

Please give me your thoughts on the name for the blog.

January 18, 2012 at 10:56 pm Leave a comment

Intersection 2012


This past week-end, I attended an event at Pixar studio called the Intersection. As an observer of the Sabbath, most Saturdays find me in church or spending time with family unless I am involved in some activities that involve benefiting others.  However, in a few cases, I have attended a few events during the Sabbath where I thought that I would learn something that would lead to tremendous personal growth (personal growth can lead to spiritual growth) but not always.

The Intersection event did not disappoint.  Intersection is a conference for leaders (business and nonprofit), investors and students who want to change the world!!!  (My kind of people). What makes this conference so different is the fact that you have people from different backgrounds bringing innovative ways to affect social change. The conference name comes from the fact that the “Intersection” of skill sets and ideas should bring about more innovative approaches to solving the world problems.

Here are a few ideas learned from the Intersection conference:

  • All new ideas are combinations of existing ideas.
  • All innovative ideas appear to be obvious afterward
  • We are horrible at predicting what will work hence the importance of using diverse teams that can unleash an explosion of ideas
  • At the intersection we come up with more ideas
  • Putting more money behind an idea does not necessarily guarantee success: For example for the Newton MessagePad Apple spent $500M and Palm computing spent only $3M on Palm Pilot because that’s all they had
  • When tackling a problem or project, focus on your smallest executable step


How does intersection happen at Pixar?

  • Both companies avoid the common way of doing things
  • At IDEO, they spend a lot of time at the extreme (for example with professional chefs for a kitchen or kids) as opposed to members of the general public
  • IDEO brings in a lot of young people that have not been “brainwashed” in the common way of doing things at other companies
  • Both companies are open to people with different backgrounds.
  • You want to create a broad tent. In a movie, different groups are pushing to win: The finance guys want to make sure they make as much money as possible, the creative guys are pushing the envelope in another direction…If one group ever wins, the company loses. The job of the president at Pixar is to make sure that a single group doesn’t win.
  • Why do they only have success at Pixar? They have failures but they don’t release them.  In Ratatouille they used one line from the failed previous version. Pixar does a lot of iterations.
  • Steve Jobs never went into a story meeting because he would have too much weight


Other ideas:

  • There are a lot of smart people outside of your organization than inside. How do you connect with these smart people outside of your organization?
  • Li & Fung is an example organization that has managed to leverage resources outside of their organization: they have a 15000 network. In a bad year they have a 30% return on equity (that’s very good in the apparel world!) 
  • They have figured out how to connect to different pieces. They have found a way to create long lasting relationship. Li & Fung knows a lot about the company of their partners so there is a lot of trust.












January 18, 2012 at 10:03 pm Leave a comment

Jonathan Vilma instills hope for Haitians and Americans alike

New Orleans Saints player Jonathan Vilma has been a football star from the start. His success began at Coral Gables High School in Florida, where he led the team as captain for two years. At the University of Miami he was a three-time Academic All-Big East Conference choice and selected as a scholar-athlete for 2002-2003 academic year. His professional career proved to be even bigger as he was selected in 2004 for the first round draft by the New York Jets, earned Defensive Rookie of the Year and was later selected for several Pro Bowls. Now a member of the Saints, Jonathan has shown that the NFL is about more than fame and fortune. A successful linebacker, Jonathan has used his celebrity status to make a difference in his parents’ native country of Haiti.

After the devastating earthquake in January 2010 he participated in a public service announcement to help fundraise for victims. Later that year he launched the Jonathan Vilma Foundation to support the building of a charter school in Port-Au-Prince. The school, called the Artists for Peace and Justice, welcomed more than 700 students through its doors last fall. The school offers more than education to underprivileged children, though. Because of the Jonathan Vilma Foundation the school can clothe, feed and attend to the medical needs of its students, ensuring they not only advance academically but that physical needs are also met. But Jonathan didn’t stop giving there.

He also began work last year with Operation HOPE and the 5 Million Kids (5MK) Initiative to promote the importance of education for inner-city youth. As part of his involvement, he makes appearances for the 5MK Make Smart Cool Tour—a tour across America encouraging schools to educate kids on the benefits of staying in school. Jonathan not only uses his prowess as a pro-football player to help change the our nation’s education, but he also gives back to his teammates to help educate them on finances. His financial conference, “Jonathan Vilma’s Financial 51,” helps NFL players learn how to manage their money. In our economically unstable times, Jonathan has given generously of his time and money to help people from Haiti to America earn a better life.

January 15, 2012 at 5:49 pm Leave a comment

You are unique. Just Be You.

In a previous post about Tim Tebow, I talked about the need to be authentic. There is a great quote from Leo Buscaglia (from the Book Born for Love)  that I like in that regard:

“You are the perfect you. No one can be a better you, no matter how much they so desire. This does not mean that you don’t have the potential to become more. It simply means that you are not in competition with anyone. When you truly accept the fact that you have all you need to become fully you, you free yourself from a self-created, artificial identity. To be someone you are not takes inordinate amounts of energy that could better go toward a more productive activity.

Since you are one of a kind, the message is clear. You have something to offer that will never again be possible. To devalue this is not only a tragedy for you, but, in fact, for the world.”

It is sad that so many people are walking away from who they are. But who exactly are you by the time you graduate from high school, college, after 40 or 50 years. You are certainly no longer just the son or daughter of John and Jane Doe. You are the product not only of your family upbringing (your parents’ values, your interactions with your siblings, what you learned at church or in your community) but also the results of personal experience, struggles and interactions with friends, teachers, boyfriends and girlfriend; how you were impacted by these individuals or personal events and reacted to them.

That is why we are unique as individuals. Even twins do not react the same way to every single event or relationships that they have in common.

People often ask me if I am where I am in life because of my upbringing or despite my upbringing. The unique circumstances in my life have taught me a unique set of lessons that I would be foolish not to use. These circumstances are unique because no one in this world has lived all the stories I have lived and interacted with all the individuals with whom I have interacted. If they did interact with everyone with whom I interacted, I know they did not interact with them in the same way!

That is why no two people are the same or two leaders are the same. While we can learn from others’ styles of leadership; the best leadership is the one that is informed by our unique life stories/experiences and skills.

This means that we don’t need to defy our past or overcome them. At the same time, the expression “embracing our past is not correct”. There is nothing to embrace.

The events that happen in our past are just that “they happened”. Our past doesn’t own us or control us. In a way, we “own” our past in that we can always control our reaction to it (that’s another posting). We need to use lessons from these events in the past to take actions in the present that will lead to a better outcome in the future.

January 11, 2012 at 9:25 pm Leave a comment

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