3 Words for 2017

“What the New Year brings to you will depend a great deal on what you bring to the New Year.” – Vern McLellan


3 Words for 2017

2016 was a full court press.

The past year seemed faster, louder, and required more hustle.

2017 is here.

Nothing like a fresh start.

Each year I choose 3 words to guide my decision making in the year ahead.

I started doing this in 2014.

It’s a cool way to set the course for the new year.

These 3 words are not resolutions.

They are filters I run decisions through.

Think of them as a compass.

They set the direction.

They get me back on track when I get into a rut.

My 3 Words for 2017


I need to get better in important areas of my life.

  • Listening:  I need to become a better listener.  To often, I listen to respond, not to understand.
  • Business Acumen:  I need to raise my skillset to bring more value to my customers & teammates.
  • Jiu Jitsu:  I need to raise my game on the mats.  Time to learn some new techniques & get better at some old ones.


I’m at my best when I’m around energetic, positive people.

Energy is contagious.

I will bring positive energy:

  • To my family & friends.
  • To every project I take on.
  • To each room I enter.


Our best life is found in the present moment.

  • I will focus my energy on who & what is in front of me.
  • I will be mentally present in all I do.
  • I will not let the past or future steal joy from the present.

3 words.

Simple, not easy.

What are your 3 words?

What do you want to accomplish in 2017?

What will you do differently?

Answer these questions, and you will be on the road to REMARKABLE.  

Wish you much success in 2017!

-Joe Ciccarone

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2016 Inspire Awards: People, Books, & Places

“It’s a Great Day for Hockey…” – Herb Brooks

Below are the people, books & places that inspired me in 2016:



Jocko Willink has the greatest podcast on the planet. Willink spent 20+ years leading & training Navy SEALS.  Jocko Podcast is a weekly wave of leadership & life lessons.  Jocko tells stories from military history, modern day business, & Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  It’s hard to listen to a few minutes and not want to “get after it”.

Ryan Holiday is my favorite new author.  Holiday’s book “Ego is the Enemy” teases out modern day wisdom from the immortal stoic thinkers like Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, & Aristotle.  Holiday’s book, “The Obstacle is the Way”  will change the way you look at the obstacles that are standing between you and your best life. Holiday’s writing will show you how to thrive in adversity long after most people have given up.

Gary Vaynerchuk shows you how to hustle and rock out social media. His  #ASKGARYVEE book is required reading for anyone looking to stay relevant in the digital age.


“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” will not only declutter your house, but your mind.   Author Marie Kondo shows you why less is more.  After reading Kondo’s book, I was motivated to give away enough “stuff” that family members were asking if everything was OK.  Life gets better after tidying up.

“Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” shows how your success in school, career, & and every other area are dramatically influenced by your mindset.  Is your mind fixed or growth oriented?  Up to you…

Jeffrey Gitomer is the king of all sales trainers.  His Gitomer Gold Webinar Series packs the most relevant tactics & strategies for anyone looking to help their customers succeed.


The One&Only in Los Cabos, Mexico ruined every vacation for the next decade or so.  The stunning views, friendly people, & killer activities set the vacation bar to another level.

Our family’s most memorable week took place in Lake Placid, NY.  My earliest sport’s memory (1980 USA Hockey vs Russians) came face to face with my present day family. Amazing hikes, bloody elbows & family bonding. Who could ask for more?

Thanks to my wife’s negotiating skills, we were able to take my favorite family photo of 2016: My 2 sons and I sitting on the USA bench in Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, NY. “Do you believe in miracles?”

Wishing you a REMARKABLE 2017!

– Joe Ciccarone

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Bloody Elbows, Steep Cliffs, & Passing the Test

“Will you succeed?  Yes!  You will indeed!  98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed. Kid, you’ll move mountains.” – Dr Seuss


“The View”

I looked out over the valley.

Nothing but mountains out to the horizon.

I reached for the tree branch.

My 4 year old was in my other arm.

She decided her hike was over.  Smart girl.

The mountain trail dropped a few feet below us.


The branch broke.

I bounced off the ground.

When the dust settled (literally):

  • My 4 year old was untouched.
  • My elbow was not so lucky.

There are benefits of busting up your elbow in the middle of nowhere.

You forget about your knee.

Nothing like being lost in the mountains.

Family fun at its best.

One Week Earlier

Exactly one year to the day from ACL surgery, almost to the hour, I had my last official PT session.

My PT played the Rocky music (TY Mike!) on his phone as I signed the discharge papers.

Awesome experience.

PT pushed me hard.

But no simulated training can replicate real world adversity.

A few days later we took our trip ever to the Adirondacks in upstate New York.

Amazing scenery.

Steep cliffs.

Take A Hike 

Our last hike of the week did not go as planned.

After two hours of hiking in the wrong direction and scaling up surprisingly steep rocks, we were flat out lost.

The terrain was uneven. The trail was unfriendly.

If you had to design a course to eat up a new ACL, this would be it.

My safety blanket – my custom fit knee brace, was only 400 miles away.


The Test Finds You

I had been avoiding “it” for weeks.

I thought “it” would happen on the jiu jitsu mat.

But “it” found me on top of a mountain.

“It” was the ACL test.

And “The Test” was at hand.

I knew the time would come when I would have to test my surgically repaired knee in the real world.

I just didn’t think it would happen lost in the mountains, low on water, and carrying a 4 year old.

The injury created a mental barrier that I had to overcome.

Was my knee really ready to be pushed full speed?

How do you know when you are 100% healed?

Go All the Way

Before I realized it, I was jumping, pivoting, and cutting my way down the mountain on uneven terrain.

All the while carrying my 4 year old hiking buddy.

As we approached an amazing cliff view, gratitude flowed.

After 12 months, a few hundred hours of rehab & a bloody elbow later, the healing process was complete.

My knee is back.


I took a photo of the view to remember the moment.

Test passed.

Chapter closed.

Life can test us at any moment.

How we respond determines who we become.

Running away from a challenge is AVERAGE.

Climbing life’s mountains leads to REMARKABLE.

-Joe Ciccarone


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Obstacles, Hashtags, & What I Learned…


What stands in the way becomes the way.” – Marcus Aurelius

My grandmom had a saying each time I complained about something.

She would hear me out.

Then she would look at me and say, It’s what you make of it.”


Nothing like having your attitude called out by your grandmom.

I spent the last 12 months rehabbing from ACL surgery.

The injury started out as a scary obstacle.

It morphed into an amazing teacher.

The process introduced me to new ways of doing things, amazing people, & to myself.

Below is a Top 10 list of what I learned during a year filled with crutches, box jumps, & new perspectives.

To keep with the trend, I sum up each learning with a #Hashtag:

  1. Mindset is everything: If you think it’s too hard, it is.  If you think you can’t, you’re right. If you think you can, you will. #Mindset
  2. Don’t Take Your Health for Granted: Unfortunately it takes not being able to walk to appreciate the ability of walking.  No more.  #Gratitude
  3. Do your homework:  Orthopedic Surgeons, ACL procedures, & physical therapists are not created equal. Do your homework.  #Preparation
  4. Take Action:  There are no guarantees in surgery, or life.  After you do your homework, you have to have the guts to jump on the operating table to make your life better. #Courage
  5. The Power of Community:  During my time off the jiu jitsu mats, I missed the BJJ community.  I have never met a more determined, diverse, & motivated group of people. Their positive influence is contagious. #TeamBalance
  6. Don’t Quit:  You can discharge yourself from formal phyisical therapy sessions at any point.  Don’t quit too soon! The amazing  PT’s I worked with pushed me, encouraged me, & evolved my rehab in ways I could have never done myself. #Persistance
  7. Move:  Not being able to move around the first few weeks post surgery were some of the toughest moments.  Being inactive messed with my body & mind. Movement creates an energy that is seen and felt. #BeActive
  8. Eat Healthy:  The effect that eating the right foods had on my energy, healing & mood is immeasurable. Your body will thank you. #Nutrition
  9. Sleep Matters:  I used to pride myself in going to bed late and getting up early.  No more.  8 hours of sleep is a wonder drug.  #SleepWell
  10. The Obstacle is the Way:  When you get the MRI back that says “complete tear”, you have 2 choices:  Give up or Get after it.  How you respond to the obstacles life throws at you defines who you are. #Tenacity 

Life will always throw down challenges.

When they show up, remember…

“It’s what you make of it.”

Running into an obstacle is AVERAGE.

Making the most of it leads to REMARKABLE.

-Joe Ciccarone


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The Art of Consistency


“It’s not what we do once and a while that shapes our lives.  It is what we do consistently.” – Tony Robbins

If you forgot I wrote a blog, no offense taken.

So did I.

It’s been 2 months since the last post.

The reason? No consistency.

Next to Rickson Gracie, consistency may be the most powerful force in the universe.

Consistency is the distance between us and our best life.

What we consistently do, we become.

I have not consistently dedicated time to writing.

No writing = No blog posts.

It’s a simple equation.

Being consistent in anything is difficult.

Our brains are hardwired for safety, not success.

To achieve success, you must be consistent.

I have been rehabbing from ACL surgery for the past 10 months.

If I had an anti-bucket list (right before getting arrested on live TV) it would be tearing my ACL.

The surgery & physical therapy are no joke, but the outcome has exceeded my expectations.



For 10 months, I consistently focused the time & effort needed to get back to full speed.

My repaired knee is almost back to full strength & flexibility.

No small feat.

But consistency and I have bumpy relationship.  

If we were married, we’d be in counselling.

My favorite side project, my blog, has been ignored.

My MacBook has become the witness protection program for my best ideas.  

It’s the place where my ideas go to disappear.    

No consistency, no results.  

It’s time to to change that.

The solution- the 20 Minute Plan:

  • Pick 1 project that has been ignored.
  • Work on that project non-stop for 20 minutes.
  • Repeat daily.

My goal is to write 20 minutes each day and post 1 new blog each week.

Simple, but not easy.

How about you?

Where do you need more consistency in your life?

  • Declutter your house?
  • Get in better shape?
  • Get your finances in order?

Focus 20 uninterrupted minutes each day to your MIP (Most Ignored Project).

By the time you see Halloween costumes in Target,  you will have worked 1,800 minutes on your project.

That’s 30 hours.


Imagine the progress?

Imagine how good you will feel?

So what can stop us?

Only ourselves…

Jim Rohn said, “What’s easy to do, is also easy not to do.”

We have to make it as easy of possible to stay consistent.

Here’s an app that helps me stay consistent:

Give it a try.

There is one place where being consistent is easy.

It’s the EXACT spot where I tore my ACL in jiu jitsu last April.

When that space on the mat opens up, I drag the BOSU & medicine ball over.

I do some high energy PT on the spot where my knee popped.

This spot has become my favorite place to train.

Consistency has turned that spot from where I got hurt, to where I get stronger.

Being inconsistent is AVERAGE.

Consistency leads to REMARKABLE.

-Joe Ciccarone




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One More Step

“Success is on the other side of your comfort zone.” – Orrin Woodward

I was looking for an excuse to not walk into the building.

It was the last day of the year.

I needed one more sale to make the year a success.

I was running out of time & options.

I walked into the office of long time customer.

This customer had already placed what they called their “final order” 2 days before.

We even had that “Have a great holiday!” moment.

We did not think we would see each other until the Saint Patrick’s Day decorations were hanging up.

It was game time.

Fast Forward 10 minutes…

Customer (looking confused why I am standing in their doorway): “What’s up?”

Me: “Would it be possible to place 1 more order this year?”

Customer: “We did. 2 days ago.”

Me: “Thank you for that.  I was wondering if you could place another one?”

Customer: “Another one?  Um…Well..” *

*(The “Um…Well..” took about 3 seconds but felt as long as the time I tried to watch the Harry Potter movie with the kids.)

Customer: “…Sure.  I’ll call it in in 10 minutes.”

Me (trying my best not to hug him) – “Thank you!  Merry Everything!”

I disappeared from his doorway faster than Joaquin Phoenix’s acting career.

Going one more step than you thought possible takes courage.

It’s uncomfortable.

The best version of life is 1 step past your comfort zone.

This principle keeps popping up in other areas of my life.

Enter the PT Gym…

My ACL rehab is now 7 months strong.

The 2 hour PT sessions are 1 part grit, 1 part grind.

These sessions test your body & attitude.

Every few weeks the rehab evolves.

The movements get faster.  The angles cut get sharper.

The stress on your repaired knee is more intense.

Every time the PT introduces a new exercise, my comfort zone tries to hold me back.

It whispers:

  • “You’re not ready for this.”
  • “Take it easy.”
  • “Hold back.”

Our comfort zone is really our danger zone in disguise.

Our biggest mistakes don’t happen when we hustle and fail.

They happen when we sit back and hide.

The first step of any journey is the most important.

But that extra step you take when you think you can go no further is the GAME CHANGER.

Taking one more step leads you to the magic.

You reach places you never thought you could go.

The extra step creates ENERGY.

That energy flows to all areas of your life.

Tony Robbins said, “There are no failures, only results.”

Our best results are found 1 step out of our comfort zone.

What area of your life needs more effort?

Where do you need to take one more step?

Time to get uncomfortable…

Comfort zones keep you AVERAGE.

Going 1 step further leads to REMARKABLE.

-Joe Ciccarone


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The First 10 Minutes


 “Each morning we are born again.  What we do today, is what matters most.” – Buddha

There is something special about the stillness and potential of a new day.

Get your morning right, the rest of the day follows.

I love waking up before everyone in the house.

One part of my morning routine is creating my ATTITUDE.

I jump start my mind before I do anything.

While I wait for the French Press of La Colombe to brew, I flood my mind with positive thoughts.

I’m a huge believer that we have to purposely create a POSITIVE mindset each morning.

Attitude is the window through which we view the world around us.

We have to work on our attitude every day to get it right.

When I wake up:

  • I feed my mind positive information.
  • I push out any negative thoughts.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received on how to start a day is from Jeffrey Gitomer.

Gitomer teaches to start your day by reading a few pages from a positive, thought provoking book.

It only takes 2 minutes of preparation to set the next day in a positive direction.

I grind the dark roast coffee beans the night before.

I place the book I will read out by the coffee station.

When I wake up, I read for about 10 minutes while the java is brewing.

If I connect with something I read, I write it down in my journal.

Some of these thoughts evolve into blog posts, tweets, or ideas I implement in my daily life.

It’s one of my favorite parts of the day.

I create a positive mindset so I can be my best in front of my family, friends, & customers.

Our minds will go in the direction they are pointed.  What we think about becomes our reality.

Negative is instinctive.  Positive is learned.

When my mind is bombarded with negative, non-actionable information (cable news) fear and doubt start to take over.

Jim Rohn said, “Stand guard at the doorway of your mind.”

Hear enough stories of doom & destruction, your mind starts to expect bad things to happen.

Stimulate your mind each morning with positive messages. Your mind will then seek out more of the same as your day unfolds.

You start to identify solutions, not speak about problems.

Your energy builds.

Positive vibes flow.

Negative thoughts & self-doubt disappear.

Wake up to positive.  Live positive.

Starting your day with negative thoughts is AVERAGE.

Creating a positive mindset leads to REMARKABLE.

-Joe Ciccarone


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3 Words for 2016

“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.” – Benjamin Franklin

The past few years I have chosen 3 words to help guide my choices in the coming year.

These words orient my MINDSET on how I will approach the year ahead.

These 3 words are not resolutions.  They are not goals.

They are filters I run decisions & opportunities through to see if they are right for me. These words help set the direction I want to take my work & daily actions.

I stole this idea from Chris Brogan. (TY Chris!)

Resolutions never worked for me.  I find goal setting limiting, even self-defeating.

With a goal, you wake up each day at a deficit.  Until that goal is reached, you are unaccomplished.  I find that this drains my willpower and enthusiasm.

After a few weeks, I usually move on to something else.

Focusing on 3 words leads to places far beyond where a goal would have taken me.

These 3 words create MOMENTUM.

They also act like a COMPASS when I lose focus and need to get back on track.

My 3 Words for 2016:

Simple – Simple succeeds.  Complicated fails.  I am going to prioritize simplicity in all aspects of my life.  I will take a simple, uncluttered approach to my home, work, & daily schedule.  I will do the simple thing well: show up early, give maximum effort, & leave things better than I found them.  When I start training Gracie Jiu Jitsu again, my focus will be on refining simple, basic techniques.

Consistency – Slow and steady wins the race.  I have learned consistent effort beats random flashes of greatness.  I will consistently bring value to my customers, quality time to my family, and positive attitude to life. I will consistently keep an open mind to new ways of doing things.  I will bring consistent effort to my ACL rehab & writing.

Gratitude – 2015 taught me how to be grateful.  I will show gratitude for the simple things: being able to walk up a flight of stairs, drive, & play baseball with my kids in the back yard. I no longer take any of these for granted.  Life’s biggest gifts are hidden in plain sight.  I will notice these gifts and show gratitude for them.

What are your 3 words?

What will you do different this year?

Answer that, and you will be on your way to a REMARKABLE year.

Wish you much success in 2016!

-Joe Ciccarone


3 Words for 2016


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Leaving 2015 Inspired: Books, People, & Places

Below are the books, people, & places that inspired me in 2015:


The Power of Now gives new meaning to “living in the moment”. Eckhart Tolle reveals the benefits of focusing your energy on the present moment. Tolle writes, “The present moment is more powerful than the past & future combined”. Some books have the power to change the way you look at life. This is one of them.

Are You Fully Charged?  Tom Rath digs deep into the latest scientific data to come up with practical ways to find more meaning in your life, improve your relationships, and increase your energy. My 3 favorite: Help someone each day (meaning); Give people your full attention (relationships); Stand, don’t sit (energy).

Author Jon Acuff show’s you how to “Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck“.  Acuff’s writing is funny, self-deprecating, & actionable.  Looking for a fresh start in 2016? It may be time for a Do Over.”

Greg McKeown’s Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” shows why the path to achieving more is found by doing less. McKeown makes a compelling case that the ability to FOCUS on your main priority & saying ‘No’ to all other requests is the master skill to success. 

Positive self talk gets talked up in Joel Osteen’s latest book, “The Power of I am…”. Osteen asserts that positive self talk, even during your worst moments, will cause you to take positive actions that will lead to your best life.  It is hard to read a few pages of any Osteen book and not get excited about being alive.


Darren Daily is daily mentoring email from Darren Hardy. Hardy is is the CEO / Publisher of Success Magazine & best selling author of my all time favorite business book, The Compound Effect.  Organizations pay Hardy $50,000 to speak to their group.  You can have Hardy coach you each morning for free.

Josh Vogel is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt and author of the monthly video blog The Sloth Report.” Josh takes complex concepts of Gracie Jiu Jitsu and makes them applicable to the average person.

Christopher Dodson, MD of the Rothman Institute is the orthopedic surgeon who put my knee back together after I tore my ACL while training jiu jitsu.  From the moment I met Dodson, his confidence was contagious.

Dresher Physical Therapy took over where Dr. Dodson left off.  Dresher’s amazing PT staff guided me from from hobbling in on crutches 4 days post surgery, to jogging in 90 days.


Our family’s most memorable week of 2015 took place at the El Conquistador in Fajardo, Puerto Rico.  The El Con sits atop a 300 foot cliff overlooking where the Caribbean meets the Atlantic Ocean.  It was a week of waterfall hikes in El Yunque Rain Forest & the awesome beaches of Palomino Island.  Amazing experience.

Wishing you a REMARKABLE 2016!

– Joe Ciccarone


2015 Inspire Awards


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The Grind


“It is often the small victories that define the big moments.” – Chris Burkmenn

My 4 day oxycontin experiment was over.

I was a week out of ACL surgery.

My surgeon cleared me to drive.

After a few attempts, I found a way to get into the driver’s seat of my car with a fully locked knee brace. 

No small feat.

I drove to Whole Foods and walked with a heavy limp down the takeout aisle.

An elderly woman pushing a walker approached me.

“Looks like someone got the best of you!”  The woman says as she shakes her head and walks away.

Nothing like a confidence builder.

Success is Not Linear.  

The ACL rehab process is a grind.

There are good days and tough days.

Your road back to FULL SPEED has more plot twists than the Usual Suspects.

The excitement of being able to bend your knee again is subdued 5 minutes later by almost tumbling down a flight of stairs struggling with your crutches.

(If I fell, I would have blamed Keyser Soze.)

Consistency is Your Secret Weapon.

Rehab progress is charted by a calendar, not a stop watch.

There are no grand battles that produce major victories.

There are 2 components of ACL reconstruction:

  1. The Surgery
  2. Physical Therapy (PT)

One can NOT succeed without the other.

Going through ACL surgery gives you the OPPORTUNITY for a full recovery.

PT is the key that unlocks that opportunity.

You have to bring your energy, persistence & tenacity to each session.

PT is all about building 3 things:

  • Range of motion
  • Strength
  • Confidence

The road is long.

Scar tissue & inflammation, your body’s natural healing process, do their best to hold you back.

  • Your knee pops.
  • Your knee locks.
  • Your knee swells.

Keep going.

Being inactive is the worst thing you can do.

Trust the Process.  

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel (or even the BOSU).

You just have to have confidence to execute the game plan you & your PT created. 

You also have to know when it’s time to hold back and respect where you are in the process. 

After you push through the initial discomfort & uncertainty, your rehab starts to build momentum.   

Finding the right PT is so important.

Small Victories 

The biggest victories sometime come at unexpected moments.

90 days out of surgery I was cleared to jog.

I jogged for the 1st time in over 6 months on the PT treadmill.

Definitely a cool moment.

But my favorite MOMENT came later that week while hustling my 2 boys to practice.

We walked up to the entrance to our high school and realized we were late.

We all started running down a long hallway in route to the gym.

My 11 year old looks over at me running next to him and yells, “Dad, you’re back!”

Sometimes the smallest victories are the biggest.

-Joe Ciccarone


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