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


Posted in Life, Mind Set, New Beginnings, Transitions, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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


Posted in Art, Change, Life, Mind Set, New Beginnings, Transitions, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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


The Grind

Posted in Family, Health, Life, Mind Set, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Body, Mind, & Believing

“Believing is half the cure.” – Toba Beta

It was 3 days after ACL surgery.

I’m on crutches, limping down my driveway.

My neighbor yelled at me.

“No way you’re still 100% Italian.  Zero chance that guy was a paisan.”

Wow!  Great to see you too.  I’m fine, thanks for asking.

Sarcastic neighbors aside, the dust was starting to settle.

The grind was about to begin.

The week after ACL surgery feels like a year long.

It begins with a bumpy, semi-conscious ride home from the hospital.

It’s rare that I get into a car and think, “Not enough leg room in here”.

But any ACL patient will tell you that you have to pull out your best Cirque Du Soleil move to get into the backseat post-surgery.

Your leg is numb, swollen, & immobilized.

You bounce around in the back seat like you were just tasered.

Back home you get planted on your sofa, mobile as a fire hydrant.

Nothing left to do but lie there with a nasty headache as the anesthesia wears off.

Fun times.

The Body Follows the Mind

The RECOVERY process is more mental than physical.

Your recovery begins when you BELIEVE it does.

The week after surgery:

  • You can’t move the way you want.
  • Getting comfortable is impossible.
  • You get tired fast.

It’s easy to get frustrated.  Your attitude gets tested.

I made a choice to stay away from all things negative.  

  • No negative people.
  • No local news.
  • No depressing movies or TV.

In 1956, Earl Nightingale wrote, “You become what you think about.”

This idea is as true today as the day it was written.

As soon as I believed I was healing, so did my body.

Get Moving

I couldn’t believe when my surgeon told me to report to physical therapy (PT) 3 days after surgery.

The thought of bending my knee scared me.

It seems counter intuitive, but being inactive sets back your recovery.

A PT friend told me, “Get a good night’s sleep, then get moving.”

Plato wrote, “Lack of activity destroys the human condition, while movement preserves it.”

Movement builds upon itself.  

Nutrition is Everything

The day before surgery we took a page out of Hippocrates playbook and, “Let food be thy medicine.”  

We did a Whole Foods’ run and stocked up on fruits & vegetables.

Healthy eating is a HUGE strategic advantage.

I am convinced that a healthy diet sped up my recovery.

By the end of the 1st week, the pain meds and crutches were history.

Sometimes the smallest victories are the sweetest.

Feeling down and out is AVERAGE.  

Believing things are getting better feels REMARKABLE.

– Joe Ciccarone


Body, Mind & Believing

Posted in Health, Life, Mind Set | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bright Lights, The Grateful Dead & A Leap of Faith

The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” – Alan Key

All days are not created equal.

I knew this day would be different the moment the surgeon autographed my knee with a sharpie.

It was time to get a new ACL.

There is an incredible SIMPLICITY to surgery day.

The present moment is all that matters.

Getting ACL surgery brought me back to 3 basic truths.

Preparation is King

Knee surgery requires the same planning as an incoming blizzard.

Food is bought in advance.  Commitments are put on hold.

All the ACL gear I collected had to get packed up and brought to the hospital:

At the hospital, 4 different people asked me to confirm my name and what type of surgery I was getting.

The OR prep room was an odd mix of orthopedic & plastic surgery patients waiting to get wheeled back.

ACL’s clashed with cheek implants.

This would not be an ideal time for a chart mix up.

I was there for a new ACL.

I did NOT want to wake up looking like Joan Rivers.

Trust the Process

A physician friend told me, “Do NOT YouTube the procedure. You have a great surgeon.  Trust the process.” 


“Orthopedic surgery is still all about power tools: drills & saws.”

Worrying solves nothing. Anxiety is wasted energy.

My focus was to:

  • Clear my mind
  • TRUST the process
  • Stay Positive

This attitude served me well when it was game time.

I was wheeled down a hallway, into the operating room.

The scene looked like an alien abduction.

Picture being captured and brought to the mother ship.

  • You are lying on a table.
  • Bright lights, beaming at you.
  • Masked strangers hover over you wearing gloves and goggles.
  • Loss of consciousness.

I may have become an honorary member of the Grateful Dead that day.

There were enough narcotics injected into me to buzz the cast of Breaking Bad.

My anesthesiologist had to be a LA Lakers fan.

I was waiting for her to say, “Count to 10…”.

But she did the no look, behind the back, Magic Johnson sedation.

No warning.


Lights out…

The next thing I know,  I’m in another room with a nurse telling me, “Wake up, it’s all over.”

Have Faith

When I woke up, my knee looked like it was about to be shipped to China.

It was stitched, wrapped, braced, iced, & elevated.  Wow.

It had everything but a FedEx tracking number.

Surgery (like life) has risks.

You have to be prepared to run past fear & doubt.

Sometimes you have to take a leap of FAITH.

You have to trust your surgeon, the process & your ability to recover.

How will my rehab go?

Hard to predict.  

But preparation, trust, & faith are great places to start.

Being afraid is AVERAGE.

Taking a leap of faith is REMARKABLE.

– Joe Ciccarone

A Leap of Faith

Posted in Life, Mind Set, New Beginnings, Transitions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sunsets, The Karate Kid & Adapting

“All failure is failure to adapt.  All success is successful adaptation.” – Max McKeown

This was a bad idea.

My 3 year old daughter & I were sitting on top of a sliding board.

As we started to slide, I realized why sliding boards and torn ACL’s are not a great combination.

I limped through 100 days of summer with a torn ACL.

The experience was an amazing teacher.  But not one I plan on repeating anytime soon.

A complete ACL tear is an unique injury:

  • There is minimal pain after the “Pop!” (Yikes).
  • You’re not contagious.
  • There are many people dealing with MUCH worse.

But you are reminded 24/7 that you are living life at HALF SPEED.

An ACL tear affects the way you:

  • MOVE
  • WORK
  • SLEEP 

The injury changes how you look at a flight of stairs.

The injury changes how you approach the world.

If you are not careful, it can mess with your ATTITUDE.

I learned 3 lessons living with this injury:

1) I take my health for granted. 

Having the ability to HUSTLE through life is a GIFT.  

Showing GRATITUDE for simple things is a 2016 priority that I am putting in motion now – 4 months early.

I will give thanks more often.

2) Adapt or become irrelevant.

When you are injured, you have to get creative to stay active.

You have to be open to new ideas.  You have to have the courage to experiment.

I was forced to stop training Gracie Jiu Jitsu.  Not fun.

I had to swap out training Street Week & Open Mat for pull ups & the elliptical machine.

I used this as an OPPORTUNITY to update my U2 library.

Nothing like rocking out with Bono & The Edge.

Like Bono sings in the Song for Someone, “There is a light that we can’t always see. There is world where we can’t always be.” 

Sometimes we have to operate in a different light.  We have to learn to ADAPT to new worlds.

3) Shared experiences create strong bonds.   

I struggled with my inability to be active with my kids.

This injury made me realize how important being ENGAGED and ACTIVE is to making strong connections.

2 days before my surgery, we headed off to the beach.

Our goal was 1 last dose of summer before I was as mobile as a fire hydrant.

On the last night, we walked the beach at sunset.

My 8 year old asked if I could walk out on the jetty with him.

He wanted to get an “awesome view” of the sunset.

A torn ACL was not stealing this moment.

Waves crashed around us as we walked out over the slippery jetty.

I walked slow.

My FOCUS was not to end our trip with the ACL Splash into high tide.

While we were watching the sunset, my son said this was like The Karate Kid movie.

Daniel-San taking on a challenge with 1 good knee.

Adapt and overcome.

Is there any other way?

Living life at half speed is AVERAGE.

Having the ability to adapt is REMARKABLE.

– Joe Ciccarone



Posted in Creativity, Family, Health, Mind Set | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Torn ACL’s, Cadavers & Decisions

“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.” – Tony Robbins 

The way forward begins when we decide it does.

I was training in jiu jitsu.  My knee popped.

It was the sound that changed my summer.

I tried hard to convince myself my knee was “getting better”.  After a few futile attempts at jogging, I knew it was time to see a specialist.

Fast forward: 2 weeks of limping, X-Rays, and an MRI later.

I was standing next to an orthopedic surgeon.  He read the MRI report.

Full ACL tear.


The surgeon gave me 2 options:

1) Physical Therapy:

  • Strengthen my injured knee with physical therapy.
  • See if my knee could learn to live without an ACL.
  • Go about my day to day life, minus any full speed activities.
  • A knee brace and a “take it easy” attitude would be needed for all athletics for the next 40-50 years.

I ruled this option out in about 3 seconds.

2) Surgery – Allograft ACL Reconstruction:

  • Have the surgeon create a new ACL by drilling a cadaver tendon into my knee.
  • Follow his rehab regime for about 6 months.
  • If the 1 hour procedure was successful, I would be “…home by dinner, driving in 2 weeks and jogging in 90 days.”  

Surgery was the only option that offered a chance to get back to FULL SPEED.

He had my attention.

I had questions:

Me: What’s your success rate for this type of surgery?

MD:  Over 95%.

Me: How many ACL surgeries have you done?

MD: About 800.

Me:  How bad is the post-op pain?

MD: 3 or 4 out of 10.  Take the meds.

Me:  What’s the risk of NOT getting the surgery?

MD:  Chances are you will be back here sometime in your 50’s with no ACL, a damaged meniscus, and arthritis in your knee.  That will be an entirely different conversation.

Not a road I want to walk (or limp) down.

The surgeon came highly recommended.

His confidence was contagious.

The long term advantages of the surgery were apparent.

But a DECISION to get knee surgery can’t be made in a vacuum.      

  • We have 3 young kids in non-stop activities.      
  • My wife has a busy career.  
  • We had family trips planned over the summer.    

I asked 1 more question:

Me:  Would it affect my outcome if I waited 2 months to get the surgery?

MD:  No.  Just stay off the jiu jitsu mat.


I scheduled the surgery.

Jeffrey Gitomer said, “In the long run, it is always cheaper & easier to fix the problem, than not fix the problem.”

This is true in business and life.

The best way to come back is to move forward.

Not knowing what path to take is AVERAGE.  

Making the decision to move forward is REMARKABLE.

– Joe Ciccarone

Move Forward

Move Forward

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments