The Greatness Guide: One of the World's Most Successful Coaches Shares His Secrets for Personal and Business Mastery





One of the World’s Top Success Coaches
Shares His Secrets for Personal
and Business Mastery



I dedicate this book, with deep respect and great love, to my parents.
You not only gave me the gift of life but an unrelenting passion
to live it fully. For that I am so very grateful.


1 I’m No Guru

2 Harvey Keitel and Windows of Opportunity

3 Nothing Fails like Success

4 Be a Rock Star at Work

5 Your Days Define Your Life

6 Drink Coffee with Gandhi

7 Get Some Skin in the Game

8 Be into Breezes

9 Make Time to Think

10 Leadership Begins on the Extra Mile

11 Mick Jagger and Reference Points

12 Business Is Relationships

13 Life Lessons from SpongeBob SquarePants

14 How to Be a Happier Human

15 Work Hard, Get Lucky

16 Know Your Genius

17 Listen Twice as Much as You Speak

18 Your Customers Buy with Their Hearts

19 Learn to Say No

20 Burn Your Boats

21 Grow Leaders Fast

22 Your Four-Minute Mile

23 Push the Envelope

24 On Obituaries and the Meaning of Life

25 Leadership Isn’t a Popularity Contest

26 What Do You Evangelize?

27 Under the Kimono: My Best Practices

28 Culture Is King

29 Your Schedule Doesn’t Lie

30 Shine as a Parent

31 Be a Merchant of Wow

32 Getting What You Want While Loving What You Have

33 Think like a CEO

34 Act like an Athlete

35 Be Wildly Enthusiastic

36 Success Isn’t Sexy

37 On Cuddle Parties and the Sad State of the World

38 The Value of Good

39 Grace under Pressure

40 To Be More Productive, Relax and Have More Fun

41 The Two Magic Words

42 The Value of Dying Daily

43 Client-Focused vs. Out to Lunch

44 Lead Without Title

45 Do Your Part

46 Do You Play?

47 Avoid the “Four F’s Syndrome”

48 Problems Reveal Genius

49 Love Your Irritations

50 Speak like a Superstar

51 Learning or Decaying

52 Simple Tactics for Superb Relationships

53 Rock Stars as Poets

54 The Innovator’s Mantra

55 Pleasure vs. Happiness

56 The $600 Sandwich

57 Good Business Is Good for Business

58 Build Success Structures

59 The Person Who Experiences Most Wins

60 Brand like Diddy

61 Get Big into Blessings

62 Be Wise, Early Rise

63 Who Made Success a Dirty Word?

64 Get Great at Life

65 The Steve Jobs Question

66 What’s Missing from Your Coolness?

67 No Ask, No Get

68 Sell Your Desk

69 Get Fit to Lead

70 Extreme Leadership and Kids’ Clothing

71 The Seven Forms of Wealth

72 Apply the U2 Standard

73 Learn More to Earn More

74 See Through the Eyes of Understanding

75 The Heart of Your House

76 Become an Inspirational Human Being

77 Make a Dent in the Universe

78 Not All Leaders Are the Same

79 Six Reasons to Set Goals

80 Remember the Boomerang Effect

81 Make People Feel Good

82 Commit to First Class

83 Do a Clean Sweep

84 Follow the Million Dollar Baby Rule

85 The Earth Is Small

86 Guests Are God

87 The Beauty of Time

88 On Mountains and Mastering Change

89 What Happened to “Please”?

90 Bon Jovi and the Power of Focus

91 Do a “101 Things to Do Before I Die” List

92 Spend Time with Your Kids

93 Get Goofy at Work

94 Revere Great Design

95 On Evian Water and You as a Big-Time Dreamer

96 Be like Garth

97 Don’t Give Up

98 Get Big on Self-Care

99 Guess Who Inspires Me?

100 How to Live Forever

101 Lay Claim to Greatness


About the Author

Praise for


About the Publisher

I’m No Guru

The media sometimes calls me a leadership (or self-help) “guru.” I’m not. I’m just an ordinary guy who happens to have learned ideas and tools that have helped many human beings reach their best lives and many organizations get to world class.

But I must be really clear: I’m no different from you. I have my struggles, my frustrations and my own fears—along with my hopes, goals and dreams. I’ve had good seasons and some deeply painful ones. I’ve made some spectacularly good choices and some outrageously bad mistakes. I’m very human—a work in progress. If I have ideas that you find insightful, please know it’s simply because I spend my days focused on the knowledge you are about to experience. Thinking about practical ways to help you play your biggest game as a human being and reach greatness. Dwelling on how I can help companies get to the extraordinary. Do anything long enough and you’ll get some depth of insight and understanding about it. Then they’ll call you a guru.

A man at a signing I did at a bookstore in Bangalore, India, heard me say, “I’m no guru.” He came up to me and said: “Why are you so uncomfortable being called a guru? ‘Gu’ simply means ‘darkness’ in Sanskrit and ‘ru’ simple means ‘dispel.’ So
the word ‘guru’ simply speaks of one who dispels the darkness and brings more understanding and light.” Nice point. Made me think.

I’ve had good seasons and some deeply painful ones. I’ve made some spectacularly good choices and some
outrageously bad mistakes. I’m very human—a work in progress.


I guess my discomfort stems from the fact that if you think I’m different from you, then you might say, “Well, I can’t do the kinds of things Robin talks about because he has talents and abilities I don’t have. All the stuff he talks about is easy for him to do. He’s this guru.” Nope. Sorry to disappoint you. I’m just a guy working hard to make the best of his days, trying to be a great single dad to my two wonderful children and hoping he’s—in some way—making a difference in peoples’ lives. No guru here. But I do like the “dispelling the darkness” point. Need to learn more about that one. Maybe some guru can help me.

Harvey Keitel and Windows of Opportunity

I don’t always get it right (I told you I’m no guru). But please know that I try so hard to walk my talk and to ensure my video is in alignment with my audio. Still, I am a human being, and that means sometimes I slip (I’ve yet to meet a perfect one). Here’s what I mean.

I spend a lot of time encouraging the readers of my books and the participants at my workshops on personal and organizational leadership to “run toward your fears” and to seize those “cubic centimeters of chance” (opportunities) when they present themselves. I challenge my clients to dream, to shine and to dare, because to me a life well lived is all about reaching for your highest and your best. And, in my mind, the person who experiences the most wins. Most of the time, I am a poster boy for visiting the places that scare me and doing the things that make me feel uncomfortable. But recently, I didn’t. Sorry.

I was downtown at the Four Seasons in Toronto, in the lobby getting ready for a speech I was about to give to a company called Advanced Medical Optics, which is a long-standing
leadership coaching client of ours and an impressive organization. I look up and guess who I see? Harvey Keitel. Yes, the Harvey “
Reservoir Dogs
Big Movie Star” Keitel. And what does the man who wrote
The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari
do? I shrink from greatness.

Each day, life will send you little windows of opportunity. Your destiny will ultimately be defined by how you respond to these windows of opportunity.


I don’t know why I didn’t stand up and walk over and make a new friend. I’ve done it with baseball legend Pete Rose at the Chicago airport (we ended up sitting next to each other all the way to Phoenix). I did it last summer with Henry Kravis, one of the planet’s top financiers in the lobby of a hotel in Rome (I was with my kids, and Colby, my 11-year-old son, thought he was pretty cool). I did it with Senator Edward Kennedy when I saw him in Boston. I even did it with guitar virtuoso Eddie Van Halen when I was a kid growing up in Halifax, Nova Scotia. But I missed the chance to connect with Harvey Keitel.

Each day, life will send you little windows of opportunity. Your destiny will ultimately be defined by how you respond to these windows of opportunity. Shrink from them and your life will be small. Feel the fear and run to them anyway, and your life will be big. Life’s just too short to play little. Even with your kids, you only have a tiny window to develop them and champion
their highest potential. And to show them what unconditional love looks like. When that window closes, it’s hard to reopen it.

If I see Harvey Keitel again, I promise you that I’ll sprint toward him. He may think I’m a celebrity stalker until we start to chat. And then he’ll discover the truth: I’m simply a man who seizes the gifts that life presents to him.

Nothing Fails like Success

Richard Carrion, the CEO of Puerto Rico’s top bank, once shared a line with me that I’ll never forget: “Robin, nothing fails like success.” Powerful thought. You, as well as your organization, are most vulnerable when you are most successful. Success actually breeds complacency, inefficiency and—worst of all—arrogance. When people and businesses get really successful, they often fall in love with themselves. They stop innovating, working hard, taking risks and begin to rest on their laurels. They go on the defensive, spending their energy protecting their success rather than staying true to the very things that got them to the top. Whenever I share this point with a roomful of CEOs, every single one of them nods in agreement. Please let me give you a real-world example from my own life.

This past weekend, I took my kids to our favorite Italian restaurant. The food is incredible there. The best bresaola outside of Italy. Heavenly pasta. Super foamy lattes that make me want to give up my job and become a barista. But the service at this place is bad. Bad, bad, bad (like it is at most places). Why? Because the place is always full. And because they are doing so well, they’ve taken the lines out front for granted. And guess what? It’s the beginning of their end.

I love taking pictures. My dad taught me to record the journey of my life with photos. So I generally carry a little camera around with me. I asked our server if she would snap a picture of my children and me as we dug into our spaghetti. “I don’t have time” was the curt reply. Unbelievable. Too busy to take five seconds to keep a customer happy. Too busy to help out a little. Too busy to show some humanity.

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