A restaurant proprietor in San Fran…never be scared.

Last night I was in San Francisco for business and ate at the bar of Ristorante Umbria. About 1/2 way through my meal, a guy hanging out at the bar – Giulio – introduced himself and we got chatting. We had a great discussion about football, the fact that the Lions were robbed and the beauty of Italy. I’m not sure what sparked it, but we started talking about our personal lives and he opened up about his story. Giulio’s story was something…he came to San Fran from Italy 25 years ago with literally nothing in his pockets in order to ‘bleach’ his life and start fresh. Lets just say he has built himself an empire – which includes his most treasured asset; Ristorante Umbria. He had so much insight to share, we ended up having most of a bottle of wine together and I stopped him many times to jot down notes.

Ristortante Umbria

I could write an essay on all of his insights, but one stood out among all the others.

  • Being scared is the worst thing…the worst.

His continued success in the very competitive restaurant scene of downtown San Francisco boils down to looking at life as a series of ongoing learning experiences, being hands on with his restaurant and really really loving what he does. His passion was infectious and I was honoured he opened up to me – a complete stranger sitting at his bar.

I left dinner amazed with my head spinning and I learned many things from Guilio. His insights will stick with me and I’ll for sure return to his restaurant when I’m back in town to chat further. He looks at life in such an amazing way, is fearless and is using that passion formula! I can only hope he shares his thoughts and story with more people!

Be fearless, never be scared. Thank you Giulio.

TEDx The Benefits of Passion – Watch!

The dangers of becoming a ‘Noah’ – be horizontal!

I recently watched the movie Noah and NO this isn’t a post about the biblical accuracy of the film or religion — rather it’s a post of the dangers of becoming a zealot. Lets first look at the definition of ‘zealot’

‘Zealot – a person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political, or other ideals.’

Lets be clear here…I’m not talking about religious or political ideals, I’m talking about the ‘other’ parts! What this movie made me think of is how passion coupled with a huge desire to accomplish a focused mission can tear you and everyone around you apart. In the movie, Noah becomes so obsessed with carrying out ‘the creators’ vision that he’s willing to let the entire human race die off. In fact (spoiler alert) he’s presented with the ultimate decision with one of the teenagers getting pregnant and having twin girls. this doesn’t fit his mission…and he comes very close to killing them. this passion to deliver the mission, turns him into a fanatic – a zealot and Noah goes against everyone that he loves…alienates them and when he finally realizes what he’s done he decides not to kill them. Sorry if i just ruined the movie for you :-(

Russell Crowe in Noah

Russell Crowe in Noah

It’s my opinion that the character succumbed to love over his mission and you can argue until you’re blue in the face if that was ‘part of the divine plan’ or biblically accurate, but regardless of those arguments — what I took out of the movie is that it took Noah damaging all of his closest relationships and holding a sword over a babies head to realize his craziness.

This element of story within the Noah movie stuck with me…it made me think long and hard of my TEDx talk on passion. If you haven’t watched the talk or need a refresh, click here: TEDx The Benefits of Passion – Kyle Reissner

I still do believe that horizontal passion provides more opportunities for you and have shared many real stories on this blog on how the simple ‘Energy+Focus+DoSay’ formula works — but after watching Noah, I was reminded that there is a danger of being overly passionate especially when you’re very very focused. You have the potential to end up turning into a zealot and when you become blinded you negatively affect those around you. This results in people running from you vs. pulling you into great opportunities! This goes for business and at home.

The real story part of this blog is that I’ve recently had this happen to me…when watching Noah I seen myself. I know, it’s weird but it happens from time to time — usually when I watch Star Wars and see me as Luke swinging a lightsaber…but no lightsaber this time :-) It reminded me why my wife and I’ve turned both our family and professional lives on it’s end in the last 3 months. After a long evaluation we decided to leave my marketing director position 3 months ago and my wife resigned from her hospital position of 13+ years — we did it the same day and it felt great.

We since then have relocated our family and made changes on how we focus. I realized I was a business zealot who blinded himself and wasn’t as horizontal as I should’ve been. I was not only on the road 90% of my time never seeing my family, which was the biggest factor that started the thought process, but also I brought home nothing but negativity, pessimism and was generally always pre-occupied with a singular work ‘vision’.

After talking about this with my wife Dana before my TEDx talk, she also realized that she was quickly going down the path of zealously at her place of work — so we put a plans in place to explore options to break the cycle for the both of us. We needed to change for the betterment of our family unit.

The irony in all this is that an opportunity resurfaced in February ’14, just before my TEDx talk, to which we originally declined to evaluate back in the summer of ’13 from a person that helped me create & validate the passion formula for the talk. I restarted these discussions and things progressed quickly. Fast forward to the now (August ’14) and I’ve been at this new role/company for ~3 months now. We’re closing on a family home later this month and are looking forward to settling in. This change for our family not only allows me to see my family every night but also my wife to focus on our kids much more and my work role has more impact, is exciting and enables me to reset my outlook to be more horizontal. We broke out of our comfort zone and although it’s had it’s challenges, the adventure thus far has been exhilarating.

Ask yourself, are you a business or personal zealot? are you too focused on your vision? Are you Noah and have people running from you in your personal or professional life because you’ve become a zealot and are blinded? Think about it…or perhaps just go watch Noah :-)

— Kyle

Is it really all about who you know? Be the spark!

Many people say ‘it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know’ and although we all know connections are great…this statement isn’t always true. Perhaps passion with persistent energy spark is even better??

Why do I say this? Something happened yesterday with great friend of mine. He started a new job. I won’t use his real name because although he said he was cool with me sharing this story, he told me he’s a bit private about his name so lets call him Trent. Trent and I last worked together 6-7 years ago and have kept in touch. We’d meet up from time to time for lunch in downtown Detroit just to catch up and talk.

Back in the day, we both worked at a company for ~5 years and he was my boss for a couple of those years. That company ended up selling and I left just before the sell off…while Trent stayed on and helped with transition. Since then Trent went to go work for a large software services company in a sales role. I remember him saying it was out of his comfort zone but he’d give it a try…and he needed something to keep the food on the table so why not sales?!

We met up for lunch every couple of months or so and I noticed this new place was progressively getting worse for him. He realized sales just wasn’t for him and we’d sometimes reminisce the entire lunch hour talking about when he was managing & leading people. After about 2 years in that sales role, he started looking and reached out to his network, but nothing was coming his way.

About 2 years ago I passed him a contact at a cool small company much closer to his house, lets call that company Glexcie just to keep it private. I turned down talking with them about a product marketing position for that it just wasn’t the right time, but Trent took that HR contact and engaged them. He was persistent but not pushy…I like to call him ‘sparky’…he’d drop a line or email every so often to the HR contact…and most of his voicemails or emails went unnoticed…at least that what he thought…

Be the Spark!

Consistent Spark Rules! Be the Spark!

After almost 18 months of virtually ‘dropping in’, his company downsized and he found himself laid off….Glexcie slipped his mind and he had not reached out to them in about 3-4 months. Ironically after a week of being unemployed, he was contacted by that HR person at Glexcie out of the blue. Glexcie was expanding and he was one of the people they first thought of. They had 2 positions they thought he’d be great at and they were back in what he loved to do — leading and managing consulting services resources. He jumped at the opportunity. Trent landed an interview and went in and focused on articulating how his energy sparks things (proven by his almost 2 years of ‘sparking’ with Glaxcie’s HR person), focuses on others results and simply delivers by doing what he says…remember that passion formula TEDx talk???!

Three weeks later he landed an offer and took the job.

I remember Trent calling me right after the interview and he was super excited. He was cautiously optimistic and I remember him saying ‘can you believe that I started talking with these guys almost 2 years ago? I think the passion formula worked….it’s all about passion with a lot of spark!’ he said sarcastically…

He started this week.

Monday morning I texted him wishing him well, encouraged him to go at it and not to look back. his response ‘Let’s go conquer a small piece of the world today!’ He’s energized and is diving in.

This story reminded me of how the passion formula puts new opportunities in front of you you’d never expect, but Trent heavily focused on the spark element to start a completely new engagement in a new company. Trent landed this position and has a mountain to climb for sure, but at the end of the day he knew no one in that company. His network didn’t extend into Glexcie, other than an HR contact. No one ‘got him in’ and even if they did, he’d had to win the position…but at the end of the day his passion and constant spark uncovered a great opportunity and won him an offer. It wasn’t luck, it wasn’t connections, it was passion.

Now he just has to deliver and only time will tell if Trent’s successful there but regardless I love hearing real stories like this…and of course sharing them as well!

send me a note if you have a similar story to share!

Catch you again in a couple of weeks!

– Kyle

Meet Mike Lipkin – The Magic of Eye Contact

Back in April I was at a leadership meeting in Atlanta and they brought in an outside speaker, Mike Lipkin. He is one of the best motivational speakers I’ve seen and although I’m simplifying a lot — I summarize his message as ‘either we become the best, or we become irrelevant. There is no middle ground.’ I liked his presentation style, energy and above all his story.

Mike and I got to connect after the session and this is where I learned his story. He’s a native of South Africa and emigrated in the late 80’s to Canada, then returned in ’93 to start a training and motivation company to help transform the nation. He’s now back in Canada (Toronto) and continues to build on his successes. Check out his full bio here on his website. He’s a captivating person and we talked about the concept of the passion formula and how TED is an amazing organization to learn & spread ideas.

During our conversation I focused on discovering his story and dropped some tidbits on how the passion formula parelleled to his journey. I felt like we bonded and I sparked the idea of getting some feedback on how I delivered the TEDx talk and ended by committing to sending him a linkedin message that week…and of course I sent that message the next day. I used the entire formula in our conversation: energy(spark) + focus + dosay 

It took a month, but Mike did follow up with me and gave me the best input I’ve ever received on how to present ideas better. I was humbled to just get a response for that he’s been speaking professionally for over 20 years and a very busy guy. Perhaps our encounter was as memorable & pleasurable as sex :-) as those Harvard researchers proved (see the last blog post here). Anyways, he easily could’ve brushed me off but he didn’t…he remembered our chat and he took the time to watch the video and send a response. I like to think our chat stuck in his mind and I’m sure our paths will cross again.

Since then I’ve been following Mike on twitter (@mikelipkin) and he recently posted a video called ‘The Magic of Eye Contact’.

Eye Contact Matters

A great quote from Mike’s video!

I’d highly suggest you watch the video below (it’s only 3 1/2 mins so take the time!) and consider his points the next time you engage with someone, esp. when your focusing on their story to make that passion formula connection! Enjoy!

Catch you again in a couple of weeks.

— Kyle (@Ryzner)

Harvard University helps prove the Passion Formula – Talking about yourself can be as pleasurable as sex…

I came across this article last week and thought it was good to share it. The Harvard University Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab did a study on why talking about yourself with friends can be as pleasurable as sex.

Harvard University Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab

Harvard University Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab

Their website says ‘The goal of the Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience (SCAN) Lab is to contribute to the understanding of the neurobiology underlying human interpersonal and emotional processes…work explores the crossroads of several important brain systems involved in motivation, cognition, and emotion.’ Pretty neat stuff.

The Daily Mail article that caught my eye has a great summary of their research here: (yes I used a picture that’s pushing the limit…but come on, given the topic you’d use it too!)

Risky photo I know...but you'd use it also!

Risky photo I know…but you’d use it also!


These researches used brain scanning technology and they found that when people talk about themselves it triggers the same chemical reaction they experience during sex…and my take on this is that sex is memorable…something that people are drawn to and remember. Basically they tied it to the part of your brain that releases dopamine. The researchers conclude that the findings prove talking about yourself may be ‘inherently pleasurable’. I tracked down the PhD who did the research and I encourage you to follow him on twitter @adrianfward

I was amazed at this because it reenforces the 2nd element of the Passion Formula…if you remember the formula is Energy + Focus + DoSay = Passion. (if not watch the TEDx video again here!) The focus part is defined as the effort of focusing on others objectives and what they are doing. You’ll find synergies with them, they’ll remember it and worst case you learn what they are doing. What this article also brings into the element is that you’re also virtually having sex with them :-)

In the TEDx talk, I outlined this as ‘Dale Carnegie 101′ because he wrote about this in his timeless book ‘How to win friends and influence people’ and I wish I would’ve found this Harvard article sooner because I totally would’ve referenced it in my TEDx talk!

Anyone find other research or have a story how passion has sparked things? Send me an email at or tweet msg me @ryzner

Catch you again in a couple of weeks!

– Kyle

Mind Blown! Passion is a global topic, meet a ‘Happyologist’ from the UK!

In the last blog post, I mentioned that there has been some ‘fallout’ after my TEDx talk in Chatham Kent. One of the most interesting ones was that unbeknownst to me there was another TEDx event in Russell Square (London,UK) the day before on Feb 12th where a woman named Susanna did a talk titled ‘5 Keys to living life with passion’. After my talk video was uploaded to youtube in March, Susanna seen it and reached out to

Mind Blown!

Mind Blown!

me. We arranged a phone call and had a mind blowing chat about how I see things, my talk journey and her talk, what her thoughts were and what her researched proved. Susanna studied passion through researching TEDx speakers for her masters degree in positive physiology. Ironically during her studies she connected with a professor in Montreal Canada — Dr. Robert J. Vallerand. Dr. Vallerand has done some research on this and is one of the very few that published a paper on the passion topic titled ‘On the Psychology of Passion: In Search of What Makes People’s Lives Most Worth Living’. If you remember back from one of my previous posts of my TEDx talk journey, Amanda H from Houston sent me some academic papers on passion and go figure, one of those was Dr. Vallerand’s.

It fascinates me that there are so many synergies on this topic and the day prior to the TEDx Chatham Kent event, ~3500 miles (~5700kms for you metric folks) away from Chatham — Susanna did a talk on passion. Check out Susanna’s talk below and then you might want to re-watch my talk…you tell me if there are any synergies :-)

Susanna and I continue to be in contact and who knows where it’ll lead. Perhaps it’s a little bit of fate that has connected us…perhaps it’s simply horizontal passion :-)

Feel free to understand more of what Susanna does as a Happyologist by visiting her website at or following her on twitter (@SuskyH)

I’ve got some other fall out stories so stay tuned for my next post!

— Kyle

Follow the formula…follow your gut…embrace the pressure.

As mentioned in the last post, as I drove down to the TEDx event I was informed that my position was to change at GE on the 10am all employee meeting just hours before the talk. I was to go and now work for the CMO in a role that would direct marketing spend for one of the 4 key software segments. Of course, it was light on details, but after the phone call and the all employee conference call outlining all the changes, the entire talk that I’ve been preparing for was re-enforced.

TEDx Chatham Kent

TEDx Chatham Kent

I arrived early around noon and got to meet up with Noah Fleming. Noah was speaking on how retaining talent is the key to keep small cities from dying — not attracting retirees. He’s a great story teller and is relatable. Check out his talk here.  I also got to talk with Brian Aspinall and he was speaking last. We shared stories and how he was the ‘closer’. He got the last spot of the day and after getting to know him a bit I could tell why. He’s doing amazing things with technology and to my surprise he majored in computer science. His class was watching live over the local cable station and that was just awesome. One of my thoughts after meeting him was that it was rare to hear of a comp sci guy being a teacher…and not running for the .com glory. Within the first couple of minutes of our chat I could tell he was doing something great and it encouraged me to stay until the very end (8+ hours of talks!). I’ve been following him since the event on twitter and am amazed at his passion. yes…I believe he’s a guy that is using the passion formula, whether he knows it or not :-) His talk is here.

The event started and Noah was up first and then I was up second. I was confident in my content and was relaxed. I don’t get nervous anymore talking in front of groups…something that I believe only comes with years and years of practice with a strong dose of having no fear of being wrong. lets just get this straight, I’m wrong all the time…when I’m wrong I learn. In every case like this where I talk in front of crowds, I always remind myself that worst case I’m going to learn something.

I was a bit more nervous with this event however…mainly because I started this with the intention of proving to myself that I was capable of delivering a message outside of my comfort zone. I put pressure on myself and it fueled my delivery…it added the emotion I needed…I believe it made the talk more ‘real’. I did however mispronounce ‘tenure’…which stood out huge! I’m still beating myself up for that! Anyways watch the recording of my talk below:

I started on message, just like I practiced in my basement sessions. If you watch it in detail you see me ‘settle in’ around 3 mins in. After 3 mins in I start to adlib…my body language gets more relaxed, I slow my pace and I start to throw tidbits out there that add to the messages. The next time you watch a TED talk or any presenter really, think of this…it’s really profound how this pretty much happens with every presenter.

The weirdest thing on the TEDx stage was the lighting. It pretty much blinds you from most of the audience. This is much different than what I’m used to. I’ve taken 2 professional presentation courses in my life and the #1 thing that I learned through those is to pick a person out in the audience and talk directly to them. It makes you naturally slow down in your delivery…it makes you talk more normal. I think this is a psychological thing for the speaker, because it focuses the brain on the topic vs. the venue/number of people in the audience. The tough thing was I couldn’t see anyone past the table right in front of me!!! I think this is why I looked at the cameras so often…because I needed to focus on a human face that I could see!

At any rate, I went off script a couple of times…but thekeep-calm-and-always-follow-your-gut biggest one was the story about my mom. I felt right to add that story…it fit and just flowed out. Shout outs to moms never fail right?! I felt accomplished that I got through it…it felt natural and I really didn’t need anyone to tell me it was great, ok or approach me after my talk on the breaks. I accomplished what I set out to do…it was a personal challenge and I felt like I achieved it. It felt good no matter the feedback and this feeling I encourage anyone to pursue. Do something that’s outside your comfort zone…it’s exerliatring even if you personally rate your talk a 6/10 :-)

I got to meet a lot of great people after my talk. Many of their stories reinforced the formula…reinforced that people pull you into great opportunities. I had a great chat with my old high school principal Jim C. He’s now the education director of the board and to get that far in education, he’s got to just love it. I talked with a guy who drove 9 hours to come to the event and he used to work for GM via EDS. I know GM systems well and we shared some war stories. I met an Oxford grad and his wife Chandra Clarke did a great talk about citizen science. (link here) They run a small copy editing business in my hometown. Amazing success and who knew this type of business was thriving there.

I could go on and on about the amazing people I met, but one stood out and reminded me NEVER to stereotype. Phil Shaw is a masters degree educated farmer whose farm is not that far from my grandfathers. His talk (click her to see it!) and our chat afterwards made me respect the 3B$ farming business that is located in and around my hometown. I always looked at farming as an ancient job done by labourers and is a simple thing to do. I was totally wrong. Never stereotype and never underestimate the knowledge it takes to farm crops. Phil Shaw you have a higher calling for sure. You make me respect my grandfather so much more now and the industry as a whole. Think bigger on what you can do with spreading awareness of agriculture and of course #DoSay my man!

When I was on stage, there were more than 20 people behind me. Those 20 people I had the privilege of learning more about and strengthened our relationships. All in all, the journey was just as enlightening as the day itself. I thank the organizers Brandon Houston, John Lyons, Fannie Vavoulis & Peter Martin for taking the leap and putting on a great event.  The entire experience was great and I encourage everyone reading this to do it — or something similar. Push yourself, do something outside of your comfort zone…use the passion formula — prove to yourself that you can do it.

I only hope one of the 20 people I tapped into to do this,  someone that watches the video or who’s read this blog — is inspired to do something similar. I’d love to be one of your resources or a soundboard…go after doing a TEDx talk, you won’t regret it.

This is my final blog post on the journey and now I’ll be turning to be a ‘curator’ of this blog site. I’ll post shorter tidbits written by me and others every couple of weeks on people who subscribe to the passion formula (whether they know it or not) and interesting tidbits on the ‘fallout’ of the TEDx event. Some examples of the ‘fallout’ are:

  • In London, UK the day prior to my talk someone did a very similar talk. She reached out to me and there is amazing synergy.
  • In July I’m doing a volunteer keynote titled ‘The Passion Formula for Youths’ for the United way in Chatham-Kent.
  • That book idea just might come to reality…pulled by my friend Noah.
  • And more!

Be sure to follow the posts on twitter @passion_formula and subscribe to this blog via email to get updates when new posts are up!

If you’re reading this blog for the first time, this post might not make much sense unless you read from the start! There are 7 parts to my journey and each one is linked below so you can read in order.

  1. My TEDx talk ‘root’ started in Israel…Nazareth actually.
  2. Our Daycare lady sparked – People come to you and shape your future
  3. Chicago & Yanksgiving – The formula emerged
  4. Nothing to lose…but which idea?
  5. OK so now it was on like donkey kong!
  6. Houston, Toronto, Paris, Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte and a lot of practice!
  7. Follow the formula…follow your gut…embrace the pressure.

Catch you again in a couple of weeks!

— Kyle