“It is not the whistle that moves the train.”

“It is not the whistle that moves the train.”

D.V. Rangarajan

Image from Unsplash by Balazs Busznyak

When was the last time you heard the whistle of a train? What thoughts, emotions, and memories do you have from the past about trains?

A few that come to mind for me are:

  • Watching movies about the wild west as a kid
  • Taking the elevated train into the city
  • Playing with toy trains with my friends
  • Taking the Cog Railroad up Mount Washington
  • Riding Thunder Mountain countless times at Disney World
  • Waiting at railroad crossings and counting the cars as they passed, wondering when the train would end

For many of us, trains represent a special form of transportation that take considerable energy and work to move people and things from one place to another. Trains don’t just whistle and stand still. The sound of the whistle lets you know something hopefully good is coming or going your way.


In what ways do or can you offer a whistle or other signal to let others know that you back up your words with significant levels of locomotion?


“Condense it and Present it.”

“Condense it and Present it.”

—Author Unknown

Whether we like it or not, our attention spans are shrinking.

My first attempts at blogging – around nine years ago – met with very modest success. I even found it difficult to attract the eyeballs and minds of family and friends on a consistent basis.

The people closest to me simply told me that my post took them a few minutes to read and their time was in short supply — OUCH!

When I took a close look at what I tended to read and make time for, I too found that a shorter, tighter, get-to-the-point format fit with my “snacking” approach to consuming certain forms of information.

It turned out that in some situations the “sound bite” garnered greater attention and often stuck with people. That became the foundation of The Quotable Coach: Thought-provoking ideas presented as a Quote, a Commentary and an Exercise you can explore in about a minute.


Where in your personal and professional communication efforts would a Condense It and Present It approach work best?

“Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.”

“Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.”

—Author Unknown

Image from Unsplash by Fran Hogan

In times of considerable uncertainty, I have noticed tremendous bravery in people.

We expect bravery in our armed services men and women, our police force, firefighters, Emergency Medical personnel, and other first responders.

These days medical professions and the array of other “essential” workers that support them are also putting themselves on the line.

What brave conversations must be had to mobilize the dramatic decisions and bold actions taken to protect and serve one another and all of our communities?


What conversations in your personal or professional community are to be had that will make the difference you wish to make?

Select one such conversation in which you will summon the necessary level of bravery today.

“A thermostat is far more valuable than a thermometer.”

“A thermostat is far more valuable than a thermometer.”

—Seth Godin, American Author

Image from Unsplash by Dan LeFebvre

In his book, Tribes, Seth Godin indicates that two critical factors of a tribe are shared interest and a way to communicate.

In the past few months, Kinsa Health has sold or given away more than a million smart thermometers that can communicate through an internet connection, to examine potential hot spots associated with the Corona virus.

Going beyond single data points to large numbers and their trends is increasingly helpful to our leaders in their ability to assess, monitor, and optimize our shared interest in the health and well-being of all people.

As a global tribe of billions, our collective commitments and our connectivity is providing a much more comprehensive set of data points to proactively react and respond to many diverse factors in real time.

We become a global thermostat when we maintain our shared interests and when we communicate.


In what ways can you and other in your personal and professional tribes use and monitor your collective thermostat to make the necessary adjustments in your communities?

“It’s all about your audience.”

“It’s all about your audience.”

—Author Unknown

Image from Unsplash by Gabriel Benois

While walking around my neighborhood the other day I ran into Paul, a friend from my health club when it is not closed due to social distancing efforts.

While keeping our distance, we discussed our families. Mine live in other states, his live nearby. Surprisingly, we discovered that we are both using video chatting platforms to stay connected. He informed me that it was virtually impossible to buy a webcam due to the spike in this method of communication.

In some ways, we have all become video celebrities with our families, friends, and business colleagues as our audiences, and we as theirs.


How and in what ways can you more fully demonstrate just how important these people are to you today, and when we can (hopefully) reconnect in person?

“Every man is a volume, if you know how to read him.”

“Every man is a volume, if you know how to read him.”

—William Ellery Channing, 19th Century Unitarian Preacher

Image from Unsplash by Aaron Burden

How well do you really know the people in your personal and professional communities?

Which ones do you know only on the surface of things, perhaps analogous to a tweet? Or maybe you know a bit more, along the lines of a blog post or professional resume?

Going deeper, you may be familiar with their book summary, or for those who remember them, their Cliff or Monarch notes.

Who do you know on the level of War and Peace, or some other weighty volume?

Who knows you in that level of detail?


Where and with whom is it time to read the full volume of their life story? Perhaps this process will help you write a few extra chapters together in the days and years ahead.

If you must speak ill of another

“If you must speak ill of another, do not speak it. Write it in the sand near the water’s edge.”

—Napoleon Hill, 20th Century American self-help Author

Image of "Time" written in the sand

Image from designtuts

Holding one’s tongue is pretty difficult to do, literally and figuratively. In both cases, it can be slippery and make you look bad, or at least silly.

Awareness of our inner voices can provide a few seconds of buffer time before we put those views or opinions on an external speaker. In many cases, prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure.

The same is often true for e-mail and especially texting, given the rapid turn-around on these forms of communication.


Where would waiting and allowing more time to pass before you speak or communicate through the written word enhance and improve your personal and professional relationships?

In every man there is something

“In every man there is something wherein I may learn of him, and in that I am his pupil.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson, 19th Century American essayist and poet

Image of two people talking at a business meeting

Image from Unsplash by raw pixel

There is a wise saying about the fact that we have one mouth and two ears, and should use them proportionately.

For most of us, coaching, teaching, advising, and mentoring others, although with good intentions, plays into the fact that we often prefer to be interesting rather than interested.

Consider yourself an explorer or a miner looking for the gold in “them thar’ hills.” To reap such riches, the only tools you would need would be an open set of eyes, ears, and of course, an open mind.


In what area of your life is it far more important to be the pupil rather than the teacher?

What is it that you most wish to learn to support either your personal or professional life?

Who are the specific teachers in your world that hold the wisdom you seek?

Listen or your tongue will keep you deaf

“Listen or your tongue will keep you deaf.”

—Cree Nation Proverb

Image of a man's profile, with the sunset behind him

Image from Unsplash by Ashton Bingham

How many ways are there to take in information about the world? Probably first on your list would be the capacity to hear. Take a minute to examine all your other senses to notice how they allow you to fully take in what is happening around you.

Considerable research has been done to demonstrate enhanced perception of the other senses when working without the capacity to hear.

Many of us experience a form of temporary deafness throughout our day in both our personal and professional communities. The act of speaking, and perhaps talking too often or too much, actually diminishes our capacity to hear and fully listen to the ideas and contributions of others.

Consider another wise saying: When you’re doing all the talking you’re not learning anything. (Amy Castro, Performance Communication expert)


Where and with whom would a quiet tongue and a far more open set of ears provide the greatest benefit?

Consider sharing this intention to listen more full with at least one key person in your life.

Tweeting has taught me the discipline to say more with fewer words

“Tweeting has taught me the discipline to say more with fewer words.”

—Adam Grant, American psychologist

Image of Adam Grant's tweet

Image from twitter

The social media site Twitter was launched in 2006 with the original format of only 140 characters. Toward the end of 2017 this limit was doubled for all languages except Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.

Regardless of your views on this platform, hundreds of millions of users find it an engaging medium to communicate their views on matters of both modest and significant interest.

Adam Grant, the author of books such as, Give and Take, Originals, and Option “B” with Sheryl Sandberg, has over 200,000 Twitter followers who obviously resonate with his concise and to-the-point nuggets of wisdom.


Where in your personal or professional communities would saying more with fewer words have the greatest impact and value? Where can this “Less is More” communication strategy be applied today?