Archive: July, 2014

Post from Transformation Tom™- Practice with Distractions—Chapter “From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide”

Posted by tomdowd - July 25, 2014 - News
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Distractions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“From Fear to Success” Audiobook= Practice with Distractions

I once was in a Toastmasters divisional-level speech contest (for the
state of Maine and parts of New Hampshire), when out of the blue
came the boisterous noise of a jackhammer. The floor was thumping
and rattling, and my concentration was shot. I became flustered and
made several mistakes. After the contest, I analyzed my practice routine
leading up to the event: I would clear the room of any distractions,
put the dog outside, and close the doors for complete silence. In a perfect
world, this made sense. How do you prepare for an unexpected
baby crying (I’ve had this happen, too), papers rustling, or silverware
and glasses clanking? As a speaker, you can only control so much.
I began practicing with distractions everywhere. I have practiced
with the television and radio on. I have invited the dog in and
stepped over him on more than one occasion. I have forged ahead in
my speech when the phone rang. My favorite was practicing while my
ten-year-old daughter began her brand-new trombone lessons. Yes, it
does sound like a bunch of elephants, but the distraction challenge is
beautiful. You will become more nimble in your surroundings if you
prepare for anything. Your concentration level, having been put to the
test, will make you ready for the distractions you can’t predict.

 

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books Displacement Day:  When My Job was Looking for a Job (Honorable Mention at the 2014 Paris and New York Book Festivals)The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World (Honorable Mention at the 2012 New England Book Festival),  From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide (2013 Axiom Business Book Awards Gold Medal Winner and 2013 Paris Book Festival Honorable Mention).  Audiobook version of “From Fear to Success” is also available! See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby

Post from Transformation Tom™- Be Yourself—the Paradox: Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - July 18, 2014 - News
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Be Yourself paradox

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dress to impress. You are told you are constantly onstage and people
are constantly paying attention to you. Your manager is watching your
every move. Now, just try to be yourself. We panic and get uptight when
our boss’s boss asks for something. Thoughts go through our mind, such
as, “Will this be good enough for them?”, “I need to impress them,” and
“What do I need to do to get noticed?” When we have senior leaders visit
our building, everyone seems to panic. Messages go out to clean up the
work areas, and all of a sudden our business-casual dress code goes away
and the ties come back out. If the suits and ties aren’t on, there are at least
blue blazers everywhere.

 

I used to wonder if I didn’t get that last promotion because my shirt
was wrinkled that one time. I now can’t remember what I wore yesterday,
let alone keep track of everyone else. This isn’t about how you dress, it is
about how you present yourself…everyday. You shouldn’t put on an act
just because there are special guests. In fact, what message does that send
to people who work for you and work with you if you suddenly change?
There are higher ranked people out there, so what? The key is to find your
personality and be consistent with it. If you like to create a fun-looking
environment with decorations all around, why can’t your upper management
see it? If you made the decision to put it up, why can’t it stay up? If
you maintain a clean and safe environment all of the time, there shouldn’t
be a panic the night before someone comes. I learned to rarely fret over
my environment because I maintain it on a regular basis and attempt to
teach everyone the importance of presenting themselves respectfully
everyday, anyway.

 

I had to learn to stop trying to impress everyone, all the time. I
wanted to take care of my manager, take care of my peers, and take care
of the people who worked for me. I wanted to be everywhere, all the
time, and give everyone what they wanted when they wanted it. I got
disappointed in myself if my boss requested changes or offered suggestions.
I took it personally because they were not impressed with my work.
I found I tensed up during presentations, used words that were not natural
to me, and tended to be over the top in making the effort to ensure
that I was noticed.

 

When we were in the midst of my former company being bought
out, I had a choice to work harder and impress more people, or just do
my job to the best of my ability. I was concerned about the unknown, but
had confidence in my own ability. I found that the stress of this transition
brought out personalities I had never seen before. I saw selfishness
in some people who wanted all of the glory, I saw people give up, and I
saw people who I thought had loyalty to the company turn their heads. It
was an interesting time for everyone. However, the ones who impressed
me the most were the ones who never changed along the way. I learned
a valuable lesson about the importance of being myself. What did I have
to worry about? I was comfortable in my own skin and my confidence
had been growing. I was always commended for my hard work, so what
needed to change? I had feedback given to me on how to improve, and
the only challenge I now had was how to implement the feedback and still
be myself. I began to understand how I could do that.

 

I can’t tell you how much more satisfied and content I was with
my job and the company when I let down my guard enough to be Tom
Dowd. I was not Tom Dowd the Banker, or Tom Dowd the Manager, or
Tom Dowd (place label here). I was starting to be more engaging and
had more personal conversations to get to know people. It wasn’t wasting
time like I had always thought in the past. I could carry a conversation
and I could also balance it with my business needs. I was relating to
people, because they were starting to relate to me.

 

I could attend my child’s play, concert, or game on my own terms
because I wanted to be there, because I was being myself, knowing that
the job would get done. I was building a stronger bond with the people I
worked for and worked with, because they knew exactly what they were
getting with me. I had the confidence to know what needed to be done
at work and when it had to be done. If there was a conflict, I used my
strong relationships to talk to my manager about it. I would instill in
them enough confidence to know the job would get done, whether it was
by delegating or working different hours. That’s not trying to impress,
that’s just getting your job done the right way.

 

I have never whipped my cell phone out to look busy in the hall, and
have never intentionally sent emails at all hours of the night to impress
someone. I have also never been accused of not getting my job done on
time and I am always cited as doing it with the utmost quality. There is a
balance to what I do now. I ensure that I am conscious of my work quality
from the beginning and I don’t have to panic at the last minute. Work
hard. Work smart. Success will take care of itself if you work in the right
company and for the right people. If you work in a place where you are
constantly on guard, ask yourself, “Is this the right culture for me? Can I
be myself?”

 

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books Displacement Day:  When My Job was Looking for a Job (Honorable Mention at the 2014 Paris and New York Book Festivals)The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World (Honorable Mention at the 2012 New England Book Festival),  From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide (2013 Axiom Business Book Awards Gold Medal Winner and 2013 Paris Book Festival Honorable Mention).  Audiobook version of “From Fear to Success” is also available! See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby

Post from Transformation Tom- Know When to Let Go and Move On (Get Over It): Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - July 18, 2014 - News
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Know when to let go  

 

 

 

 

 

 

It used to take me about thirty minutes to commute to work.  I often would spend the drive home analyzing my day to look for what went right. Unfortunately, I do have bad days. In these cases, I would spend the time evaluating what I did wrong and what I could have done better. It is a good way to assess my performance and myself so that I can become better the next time. I’m sure my wife appreciates the wind-down time more than when I worked two minutes from the house. Unfortunately, I also have a habit of over thinking my day’s assessment and continuing this far into the night. I overanalyze a lot of things, but there have been too many times when I have beaten myself up over things I should have just let go.

 

As a newer manager, I wondered why a solid performer of mine had been out of the office for a long time. I was getting worried about him and decided to call to make sure he was alright. We had a decent relationship and I felt comfortable making the call. When he picked up the phone, he said he was quitting. I asked if there was anything I could do to keep him. I was not looking for him to go into his health history, but I did want him to know that I cared and that I was there to help. He said that he was having a nervous breakdown and “no thank you” to the assistance. I thought the response was odd considering that he had never had any performance or conduct issues in the past.   He had always come to work with a smile on his face, ready to work, and gave no indication of any mental issues. However, I knew I was getting out of my psychiatric league, so I offered some internal services to help. He responded as if he was annoyed with my caring attitude. He said that I could not help, but if I truly wanted to know what was going on he would tell me. I was hesitant now, but if he wanted to get something off his chest, he could use me as a sounding board. He told me he had broken up with his girlfriend. Now, I personally was no expert on relationships since I was single at the time, however, I knew it could sometimes be difficult. However, I did not think that most break-ups caused nervous breakdowns.   I thought I was being a good manager when I said he could use more time away from the office so he could work things out. He started to yell at me and said it was not possible to come back to work, ever. This was probably the time in the conversation to let things calm down, but I wanted to be the patient manager and be a good listener. The employee went on to say that his ex-girlfriend was the official voice on the prompt that every associate in the company heard at the introduction of every single phone call. This means that he would have had to listen to her taped introduction every time he answered a call—eighty times a day.

 

I learned a lesson that day: sometimes you can’t help, even when you want to. You can always try, but there are times when we just need to let go. I later found out the person did need professional help and there was not much I would have been able to do for him long term.   Sometimes, there are better things around the corner. You may recall my story about when I was not hired for a position in which I would have managed hundreds, but was given the opportunity to start a new taskforce role to reduce employee attrition. Not being hired for the original role taught me the value of losing, but also taught the lesson to “get over it.” I started to realize the many great things that are ahead of us when we let go and move on. Hard work and patience did pay off with a job I was better suited for, even though I did not know it at the time. The great news when I changed jobs was that I did not have to relocate my family, and I have since grown into several other, higher-level roles because of that particular stepping stone. For further validation that I was on a better trajectory, several years later, the economy crashed, the site I would have worked in closed, and the market we had been house hunting in dropped like a rock. I most likely would have been in financial trouble. We have all had bad days or want something different.

 

We may want to revisit a mistake, we may want a “do over,” we may want to go back to the way things were, or may want what we can’t have. I have to repeat three simple words: Get over it. Sometimes, our control over circumstances is limited. We need to deal with what we can, and learn to get over the rest.   I grew much happier when I began to understand that my career is not a sprint, it is a marathon that I hope grows and prospers with my ability to learn and become better. To use business jargon, if we continue to try to “die on this hill” or “spin our wheels,” our attempts to move forward are hindered. If I am going to hang on too long to something, I should make it the great days in my career. We should all play off the positive energy and momentum from the high points in our careers. We must take the appropriate time to recognize and celebrate the wins and enjoy them, learn from our trials, and get over the rest.

 

 

 

 

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World (Honorable Mention at the 2012 New England Book Festival) and From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide (2013 Axiom Business Book Awards Gold Medal Winner and 2013 Paris Book Festival Honorable Mention).  Audiobook version of “From Fear to Success” is also available! See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby

Give People Second Chances

Posted by tomdowd - July 15, 2014 - Leadership, News
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second chance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I always seemed to wind up working for people who looked out for me
and were willing to give me second chances. Even as I griped about my
managers and blamed them for many of my downfalls, I was still asked to
go with them as they changed jobs within my company. In a corporation
employing thousands of people, I had many years in which I seemed to
work for people willing to give me second chances at a time in my career
when I thought I was making too many mistakes. I thought, at times, that
they were protecting me. What I found was that these special managers
were not protecting me—they were willing to give me a second chance
because they knew my strengths better than I did. Over the years, as I
gained confidence and learned more about the business on my own, they
saw my maturity even before I did. The people who gave me a second
chance knew I would give everything I had for the business, and knew I
was learning from my mistakes. Additionally, I was learning to own up to
my mistakes and was making it an active practice to teach others by sharing
what I had learned from my lessons.

In one of my first positions managing managers, I was new and naïve
to the role. I was previously a micromanager and I had stayed steadfast to
personnel policies. When I should have been a level higher than where
I was in order to manage managers, I was really a glorified version of a
manager because I knew the technicalities of the business but did not
understand how to manage it.

My manager invested his time with me, as I was new to the role. He
had a certain tone he used when I made mistakes, but sought to make
them teaching opportunities. I still couldn’t break out of the glorified
manager mentality, even though I was supposed to be a level higher. Mistakes
were made, and we both felt I was not coming up the learning curve
quickly enough. However, he made the effort to make me better and gave
me opportunities even though I was convinced I had not reached his
expectations. When he left the department, I appreciated his time and
dedication, and told him I would continue to make the effort to improve.
I was a little surprised when I got a call to join him in his new department.
I had previously worked in that department and could bring my
job knowledge. But why would he want me when he knew exactly what I
was—and was not— capable of? I’m now convinced that that was why he
made the call to me. He knew exactly what I could and could not do, and
he still saw the potential.

I thought then that I was still too naïve to truly lead the department,
since I needed to develop my own confidence level. I began to think that
I was being harder on myself about being perfect than I needed to be, but
I still lacked confidence. I was surrounded by tenured peers who I let take
control of meetings and drive the conversations. My confidence was not
growing, but my frustration was.

We used to have an annual event that was supposed to be fun, I did not engage in the event as much
as I should have. My avoidance of the event, which was supposed to
include tasteful practical jokes, only caused more unwanted attention
directed my way. As a result, I became an unwilling target. I felt an obligation
to defend myself and my team and went on the offensive halfway
through the month, after giving in to the pressure to participate. My
team and I devised some creative practical jokes that walked a fine line
of professionalism and ultimately landed me in hot water with Human
Resources. I pushed the limits out of frustration rather than simply playing
along from the beginning.

Whatever frustrations I had with the event remained bottled up
until my manager had to sit me down and explain his concerns about my
actions. I let it all out, including my disdain for the event, my growing
disrespect for my peers, and the fact that I felt forced into doing things
I was not comfortable with. I came to the realization that I was the only
one accountable to make the decision to do what I had done. I didn’t
think through the unintended consequences and the impact I would have
on my team and my peers. I vented and he listened, then we had a phenomenal
conversation. The conversation was straightforward and should
have occurred prior to allowing the frustration to build up.

As much as I was embarrassed that we had to have the HR discussion,
I needed it. I maintained my job with a solid slap on the wrist, and
learned some lessons. However, I was not convinced that I would ever
work for this person again, since it was a pretty big mistake in my eyes
relating to people management.As is the nature of our business, he moved on to another department.

I received another call six months later. He wanted me to work for him
again in a department that was full of newer managers. I jumped at the
chance because I wanted to prove myself to him, and I saw an opportunity
to teach all of my new peers to avoid my past mistakes relating to
people management. I saw my chance to give back and be the leader I
wanted to be. For three months, I was able to accomplish this and a lot
more. I felt like I had made a name for myself in this new department and
that I was there making a difference. I was asking questions and driving
the business. My questions landed me in a three-month task force that
lasted for over two years. Guess who joined me after I left his department,
two days later? You guessed it—he moved to my new department as my
manager, again. He apparently had had some inkling as to his next move
and wanted me to be there with him. He knew exactly what he was getting,
and he seemed pretty happy to know who had his back.

Through my career, I’ve sometimes perceived that I’ve been in the
wrong place at the wrong time, and sometimes I’ve felt that I’ve been in
the right place at the right time. I was learning to go with the flow and
learn from my mistakes. I also learned to give second chances. As a perfectionist,
I know that no one, including myself, is perfect. We can all
strive to do our best. I have always been appreciative of people willing
to give me tough feedback, even when I didn’t think I wanted to hear
it. I became a manager known for openly sharing my mistakes to help
others. In fact, a few times when I thought my people were holding back
out of fear of making mistakes, I started a regular event in our weekly
staff meetings to share our “MOW: Mistake of the Week.” We shared what
we had learned through the week and found that we all made mistakes.
We were willing to take calculated risks, work together as a team, and be
more creative. I now actively recruit people I know have made mistakes,
who are willing to own them and learn from them. I have found that giving
people second chances only strengthens the team and the individual’s
efforts.

 

 

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books Displacement Day:  When My Job was Looking for a Job, The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World (Honorable Mention at the 2012 New England Book Festival),  From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide (2013 Axiom Business Book Awards Gold Medal Winner and 2013 Paris Book Festival Honorable Mention).  Audiobook version of “From Fear to Success” is also available! See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby

Post from Transformation Tom- Remember Audio-Visual Equipment Needs—Chapter “From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide”

Posted by tomdowd - July 10, 2014 - News
0

 

audiovisual

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“From Fear to Success” Audiobook= Remember Audio-Visual Equipment Needs

 

 

Preparation is critical to avoid any mishaps with AV equipment. Do
you have an extra light bulb for your projector? Let’s even take a step
back and ask if you have your own projector. Will you need to bring
one? What about extension cords and screens? You can’t leave anything
to chance, you can’t assume when it comes to delivering the best presentation.
Have you physically been to the room where you are going
to present ahead of time? The preparation is not just walking in a few
minutes before the event. It is crucial that you talk with the meeting
organizer ahead of time and walk the stage well in advance. I recommend
when practicing on the actual stage that you give a large portion
of the speech, if not all, ahead of time using the live AV equipment.
Saying, “Test 1, 2, 3” into a microphone does not count as preparation.

Have you walked around the entire stage to ensure there are no
extra-sensitive feedback spots for the microphones? Your audience
will appreciate not hearing any high-pitched squeaks. I have a loud
voice naturally, so I also invest a lot of time testing the volume of the
microphones. You should also work with the organizers ahead of time
on microphone options. I personally prefer lapel or the ones connected
to the ear with the speaker near the mouth because I like to use
my hands, and for me it is worth asking ahead of time for one of these.
Have you emailed your material to the organizer? Are paper copies
ready and waiting in case of an AV failure, or can the material be
projected in another way? Do you have a thumb drive, just in case
something goes wrong with the organizer’s version? I know I am at
my best when I have tested and prepared for everything I can control;
therefore, my audience’s ability to receive my message should go up.
Finally, expect the unexpected. It is not a matter of “if” something will
go wrong, it is “when” it will go wrong. Part of your preparation should
revolve around how flexible your presentation is without the audiovisual
equipment in case it doesn’t work.

 

 

 

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books Displacement Day:  When My Job was Looking for a Job (Honorable Mention at the 2014 Paris and New York Book Festivals)The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World (Honorable Mention at the 2012 New England Book Festival),  From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide (2013 Axiom Business Book Awards Gold Medal Winner and 2013 Paris Book Festival Honorable Mention).  Audiobook version of “From Fear to Success” is also available! See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby

Post from Transformation Tom- Know the Whole Story: Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - July 3, 2014 - News
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know whole story

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have had far too many examples of instances when I allowed my emotions—
such as frustration—to dictate my mood, my decisions, and my
interactions. There have been plenty of times when I needed to practice
one of Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and “seek first
to understand, then to be understood.” You can’t reinforce this enough
in both the workplace and at home. I thought I would share a personal
experience to illustrate how easy the concept is and how conscientious we
need to be to practice it.

I have a neighbor of over eighteen years with whom I rarely had any
issues. We are not close, but have a cordial relationship. He has been a
good and helpful neighbor. He does, however, have a dog that I have often
worried about when it was near my kids. Admittedly, the dog has never
barked loudly enough to scare me, charged after anyone or anything that
would have caused my angst. Instead, I didn’t like the look or the breed,
and simply had a bad feeling about it.

Late one night, the dog was out in his yard barking loudly. It was
atypical and was getting on my nerves. The barking and whining wouldn’t
stop and went on for many hours. I was tired and cranky, and I couldn’t
sleep. Yet, I didn’t do anything to check on it or fix the problem. It became
obvious that my neighbor was not home so in my eyes there was no one
to call; I guess it was just easier to stew over the situation and periodically
complain to my wife.

After hours of this barking, my wife couldn’t stand it any longer and
walked across the yard in the dark. The dog was tangled and stuck, and
was calling in its own special way for help. Although I had a predisposed
nasty and angry attitude about this dog before this event, it was only exasperated
as the barking continued. My wife quickly understood the situation,
untangled the dog, provided him water, and said he was the sweetest
thing. We later found out that another neighbor was supposed to let him
out and had forgotten.

I’m sure that there are more professional examples that I could share,
but the innocence of an animal made this example stand out. We need
to fully understand situations prior to judging and overreacting to them.
There are more sides to a story than just our own.

 

 

 

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books Displacement Day:  When My Job was Looking for a Job (2014 Paris Book Festival Honorable Mention), The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World (Honorable Mention at the 2012 New England Book Festival),  From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide (2013 Axiom Business Book Awards Gold Medal Winner and 2013 Paris Book Festival Honorable Mention).  Audiobook version of “From Fear to Success” is also available! See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby