From Tiny Acorns…

In 1999, one of my mentors took me to one side and said “The problem with you is that you’re too creative for your own good.”

Not yet sure whether to be insulted or flattered, I listened on as he continued “You come up with all of these fantastic insights, tips and analogies in your trainings and coaching sessions, but you never do anything with them. If somebody doesn’t happen to be in the room with you when you first say it, you’ve moved on to the next thing and that idea is gone forever.”

Something in that conversation struck a chord in me, and when I moved from London to Los Angeles a few months later, I decided to try writing a daily motivational newsletter from Monday to Friday. While it was partly as a way of staying connected with my friends and colleagues back in the UK, it was mostly an attempt to try and capture some of those insights, tips, and analogies that my mentor had been talking about.

I called the newsletter “The Daily Coaching Tip”, and it went to just five people who had agreed to be my guinea pigs for the experiment. I had no idea how long I would write it for and whether or not anyone else beyond those five people would even read it. In fact, I made a deal with myself that I would never bully myself into doing it and I could stop whenever I wanted. If I was going to write, it would be because I wanted to, not because there was somebody standing over me with a whip made of guilt, obligation, or shame.

Here’s the very first email that went out almost sixteen years ago, courtesy of Elizabeth Lovius, one of the original “Fab Five”:

From: “Mike Neill”
Subject: Daily Coaching Tip
Date: 7 February 2000 07:33:30 GMTDear all,

It is my intention to send out a daily coaching tip every monday to friday, starting today. Initially, you are the only guinea pigs! You may forward these tips to anyone with the following proviso – you include some sort of disclaimer, and you request they abide by the following condition, which I will also ask of each of you….

Every friday, I will ask you to send me feedback on the week’s tips, including what worked, what didn’t, what you liked, what you loved, what you hated, and any other ideas to make these more palatable to the public at large.

Ultimately, it is my hope that these will go out on the new website, by daily broadcast, and ultimately ultimately (can I say that?) in a book!

talk soon,
Daily Coaching Tip
Monday, February 7th, 2000

Greetings! I read a wonderful book this weekend called “Success is Just One Wish Away” by Jon Spoelstra. In it, a genie named Darrel (of Oriental heritage with a brooklyn accent!) offers our hero one wish that will guarantee his success, but only if he makes the right wish….

If you were the hero, what would your one wish be? What conditions do you think would help guarantee your success?

Until tomorrow,

In the ensuing years, I’ve written well over a million words and written and contributed to a dozen books that have sold millions of copies around the world. I’ve hosted a weekly radio show for the past ten years and taught at the United Nations and on six continents.

Here’s what I find most interesting about the whole process:

  • Other than “writing a daily tip” and “maybe putting them together in a book one day”, this entire endeavor has been a goal-free process. The truth is, I couldn’t have imagined the scope of the work I now do when I started out.
  • Over the past sixteen years, I’ve moved five times, re-branded four times, and changed the entire basis of my work after an unexpected “spiritual epiphany” in 2007. The only constants over that period have been my marriage, my friendships, and writing these tips.

For those of you interested in more of what I’ve learned in the process of writing a thousand tips, my friend Robert Holden created this 1000 second (give or take) interview for you to enjoy:

I’d like to finish this week’s missive with a simple note of appreciation and gratitude:

Thank you to all the loyal DCT and MNCT readers over the years… I couldn’t (and wouldn’t) have done it without you.

Have fun, learn heaps, and may all your success be fun!

With all my love,