passion girl playing guitar

Passion and Your Kids

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This past Christmas I was given a gift that I could not unwrap... but it ended up unwrapping ME!

In the weeks prior to the holiday my daughter and son-in-law teased me by telling me, “dad this year you are going to score big time at Christmas!

I watched as my grandchildren tore through their gifts like a pirate searching for buried treasure.  I received a black t-shirt with the word, “Fender” (as in guitars) on the front.  That was the gift from my kids.

So after all the gifts were opened, I sat there with my inner dialog asking, “so is this t-shirt my big win?”  – I admit sometimes my expectation is higher than my gratitude.

The next thing I know my daughter is sitting next to me with her guitar playing a song that I wrote back in 1972!  She unwrapped me with her gift.


Several years ago when I was working on my book, “The Passion Centered Person my daughter walked into my office and asked me why I never asked what her passions were? Great question!

Because a big part of passion discovery is to write down 50 things that mean most to you, I gave that assignment to my daughter. She reappeared 2 hours later with her “passion list”.

Passion #3 on her list:  I want my dad to teach me to play guitar so we can play a song together”.

I had no idea about Passion #3.  I didn’t know it was something she cared about so deeply! Like most parents, I assumed that my kid’s gifts, talents, and natural ability defined what they loved.  Maybe… but not always! Just because someone is good at what they do doesn’t mean it’s what the love to do.  So of course… I taught her to play the guitar.


The Passion Cycle clearly defines my daughter’s journey!

Gary's daughter plugged into the passion cycle


Passion: Discovery: She wrote down her passions. Passions must be written.

Productivity: Act: She took the time and made the effort to learn to play guitar.

Profitability: Results and rewards: She was able to show me how much value she placed in our relationship.

Pleasure: Happiness: She opened the door to my deepest emotions and filled it with joy.


The best gift

The song that she played for me was a song I wrote back in 1972 intitled, “I Believe in Love”.   I had forgotten about it. Little did I know that my daughter had been taking advanced guitar lessons and had my song transcribed into sheet music.

No wonder she played it so much better than I ever did.

Discovering your passion doesn’t have an age limit.  Do you know the passions of your child(ren)?


Action Exercise: The Passions of My Children… What do they truly value?

Ask your kids to write out their passion lists.

Note: Keep it simple and fun! Passion cannot be demanded it must be discovered!

Let’s face it most kids don’t like the idea of their parents/adults telling them what they must do so here are a few things to consider:

  • Simply ask your child to write down 10 things they love doing on a piece of paper not digital.
  • Do not attempt to define passion for them. If they ask why simply say you really want to know what they care about.
  • Make sure your approach is unique as each child. (bribes are welcomed)
  • Timing is everything! Choose the right time and place when you ask them.
  • Be sure to put a timeline for completion.

Parent… do not overthink this.   Just keep it simple and have fun!

Use this exercise with people of any age!  It’s great for the business environment too.

There is NO age limit on discovering your passion!

By Passion, Passion Cycle for Life & Dentistry No Comments

It was game on! Just me, a lousy PA system and 1000 High School students ready to learn about passion! 

Dr. Eric Hannapel invited his teenage sons to hear me speak at an event he was hosting for his referring dentists. After the event, Dr. Hannapel told me that his sons wanted to book me to speak at their High School. To be honest, I started my career doing assemblies all over the country, but it had been 15 years since my last assembly.  I didn’t know what to expect.

Out of my comfort zone into the passion zone.

His sons told me every year they have a community involvement assembly and most speakers were boring.

They said, “Your passion message would be perfect… is about finding what we love and making a difference.” 

I said,  “Guys, I am old enough to be your grandfather!

“But you said passion is ageless!” they said.  I hate when people quote me to me! I said , “Ok.  Let’s do this thing!

The boys were serious and put some real skin in the game. I found out later they had written a grant so they could pay me to speak. Booking the assembly was a logistical nightmare but their passion became the fuel that drove them past every obstacle. The date was set, and I was committed.

The gift of acceptance.

It was like an out of body experience. It all seemed to end as quickly as it started. 90 minutes seem to fly by and then to my complete amazement the kids gave me a standing ovation. An entire generation gave me the gift of acceptance not because I was amazing but because they were. The only generation gap was in my head, but I spoke from the heart. Don’t get me wrong… there is a place to be informative, but sometimes inspiration outperforms information.  

Passion Point:  Passion is expressed first through emotion which is ageless. It is not about closing a gap but building a bridge.

Humility and transparency are key to heart connection. Acknowledging my imperfection and the need to give others permission to speak into my life gave the audience the same freedom. We live in a time of great division where being offended has become vouge and personal value is measured by the number of “likes”. However, unlike virtual relationships connecting with these students was a moment of authenticity experienced because we breathed the same air and filled the same space. This is a true reality!

Break it Down: The Passion Cycle Graphic showing the passion cycle

Passion: They did the unexpected. Two Teenage boys at a dental meeting heard me speak. Passion is discovered and experienced in the most unlikely places. 

Productivity: They took a step forward. Dr. Eric’s sons used passion to fuel their greater purpose for an all-school assembly. Bottom line… they positioned their passion and acted.

Profit: Return on investment. Because two young men were willing to follow their passion, they rewarded faculty, students and me with the gift of acceptance.

Pleasure: It’s about the journey. Passion is not about instant gratification, but rather, long term plotting toward your goal. Pleasure is the reward when you reach the destination not the reason to begin.  

Bring Gary and his passion cycle to your next event

Are you interested in igniting the passion in your referring doctors and their teams as a way to show your appreciation?  Or maybe you’re looking for a program to bring to your study club or team meeting that is fun, life-changing and engaging.  Click here to learn more about my Passion Cycle Appreciation Program.

Goal Setting: The Year of 20/20 Vision!

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As we approach 2020, I wanted to write a blog on goal setting… go figure!

We all have the best of intentions as we hope things will be different in the coming year. I believe in recognizing that goal setting is seldom about starting or even finishing it’s about continuing.

Why does gym attendance explode in January but decrease within weeks? Why do our good intentions lose momentum?  How can we continue what we start?

Personal experience example of goal setting with teens

Back in 1973 when I was a youth pastor in Buffalo NY, I had one goal… inspiring 1000 teens (yes that was the size of my youth group) to read the Bible daily. Sounded doable but every goal is doable until you start doing it.

… Ok stay with me!

Their perspective had to change, so I came up with the following mantra:  Start with the ridiculous to achieve the impossible rather than starting with impossible to achieve the ridiculous!

Goals must be demonstrated not demanded!

The Rule of Reciprocity: I personally picked 12 kids and modeled for them what I expected from them. My hope was that they would each do the same for someone else.  Goals must be fueled not just felt.

Ask yourself the following 2 questions:

  1. What do you think was the human fuel that insured momentum in times of mundane obligation to keep these kids interested and committed?
  2. How can the voice of conviction become louder than the voice of compromise when you simply want to quit?

Are you ready for the answer?

I created a type of fuel for these kids that was high octane… a mixture of accountability and authenticity.

First, they had to make themselves accountable to someone they could not scam. Second, they had to legitimize the goal by making it their own. If you don’t own it you won’t do it. An example of accountability and authenticity when it comes to weight loss would be to get on the scale while someone is watching!

Here is how starting with ridiculous goal setting played out for these 12 kids:

7 days per week for 6 weeks:

Week one: Create a habit: Be sure your Bible is in the same place. But do not open it! (Goals must be repeated)

Week two: Create desire: For the next seven days open the Bible cover but do not read it! (Goals must start easy)

Week three: Create memorization: For the next 7 days only read the same passage. 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race”. (Goals must not be forgotten)

Week four: Create commitment: Proverbs contains 31 chapters… read the proverb that corresponds to the date. (Goals must perform)

Week five: Create accountability: Continue in Proverbs but daily tell someone what you read. (Goals must be monitored)

Week six: Create a partnership: Invite someone else into the process. (Goals must be shared)

Note: 47 years later, many of those kids, now parents and grandparents, continue with this habit!  How cool is that?!

Make YOUR goal setting in 2020 “the year of continuing“!

How can you take the method I used with my youth group and apply it to the goals you set for the new year?  All you have to do is plug in your goal and work the steps:

  1. Create a habit – schedule time to work on your goal regularly
  2. Create a desire – start small and with something you know you can easily do
  3. Create memorization – declare a mantra and repeat it daily
  4. Create commitment – commit to doing one thing for 30 days that is in service of your goal
  5. create accountability – reach out to someone and share what you did each day in service of your goal
  6. Create partnership – invite someone or a group to join you

Are you ready to apply this strategy to your New Year’s goals?  If you’re interested in working with me to make this process come alive for you, contact me.

You can do this…Make it happen!  Here’s to 20/20 vision in 2020!



Why Does Gary Zelesky Work With Dental Teams?

By Passion Cycle for Life & Dentistry, Uncategorized No Comments

Along with their amazing dental teams, dentists change the lives of their patients.

To put it in simple terms they are helping people protect their oral health, eliminating pain or changing one’s appearance.
I, on the other hand, have the opportunity to change lives from the inside out by adjusting one’s attitude about themselves or others through passion discovery. Over the years many of our dearest friends are dentists and their families like Dr. Ross and Debra Nash.

My link to dentistry

For years my beautiful wife Cherisse seldom smiled when she would, if ever, agree to be in a picture. I had no idea that she hated the way her smile looked. I seriously never thought she had a bad smile but as I have discovered after 30 years of marriage… what do I know?
Like the skilled hands of a master sculpture, Dr. Nash gave my wife the gift of a complete restoration. I will never forget the look on my face when she saw her new smile for the first time. With tears streaming down her face she could not stop thanking Dr. Ross and Debra enough.

We’re changing lives!

Working with dentists and their dental teams gives me the personal satisfaction that I am investing in those who literally change people’s lives. Unfortunately, those who give their lives away to help others save very little time for themselves. I want to be there for them like they were there for my wife. Regardless if it’s from the outside in or the inside out we are here to change lives!  
If you or someone you know would be interested in learning more about how I can fire up the passion in your team contact me or visit my page on Team Coaching here to learn more.

4 Signs You Have A Passion Centered Dental Team

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In my experience, there are 4 basic signs that demonstrate if a team is passion centered or problem-driven.

As a passion coach the first thing I look for above anything else within the dental practice is “individual and team recognition”.   Trust me I get that there are some team members that struggle with being in the spotlight, but no one struggles with feeling needed.

Passion is personal and can only be appreciated and empowered when individual recognition takes precedence over team recognition.
Case in point… general dentistry might be universal in scope but the success of the practice is the ability to make each individual patient feel they are your highest priority. Why should it be any different with team members just because they work there?
Graphic showing the passion cycle 

4 signs of a passion centered team:


Team members desire/hunger to be totally present every moment by maintaining eye contact, non-distractive listening skills, world class patient care and asking the right questions.


Team members desire to be organized, proactive and on time. They are intentional concerning what or who has priority and understand the attitude rigid flexibility. The are not demanding but they are deliberate.


Team members understand that the practice is a business that must generate profits. Therefore, they consider the overall cost to the practice above their personal comfort while at the practice. Referral marketing in a team mindset experienced through team and patient care.


Team members consider others above self by being aware of personal mood swings, destructive communication and a general disinterest in their disposition. Question? Do you repel or invite others?




I believe the most identifiable sign if a practice is passionate is on their drive home after work. Passion is not restricted by a location but by an attitude. Now it is time to demonstrate your passion toward the people who deserve it the most… family.

If you are interested in learning more about how to create passion centered teams click here.

Tommy Franklin and Passion Expert Gary Zelesky

PASSION STORY: The Dance That Changed My Life

By Passion No Comments

I hated being invited to a wedding, a party or any event where there was dancing involved.


My wife Cherisse loved to dance and had a passion for dancing, but I loathed it. This became a point of contention in our marriage, to say the least… until I met Tommy Franklin!

While speaking at a conference in Australia Cherisse and I met Tommy. This guy was freaky, but his story was amazing!

Through several life tragedies and countless disappointments Tommy found his passion, or should I say… passion found Tommy.

Tommy loved to dance.

Tommy was the second runner up in Australia’s Got Talent TV show which changed the course of his life.

Watch Tommy’s Australia’s Got Talent audition below. You’re gonna LOVE this!

Passion Point:
Your passion doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but you.


Tommy was like watching a freestyle skier… but without the skis.

At the conference in Australia Tommy was hired to simply dance.

That’s right…  DANCE!

But the real magic was Tommy’s ability to get everyone I mean everyone to dance along with him… including ME!


Passion Point:
Passion is never fulfilled in a secret place. It must include others.


On the dance floor in full view of everyone, I was doing the one thing I hated and loved every minute of it.




The Breakdown of Tommy Franklin’s Passion Cycle:


Tommy discovered and deployed his passion even during times of pain and opposition… He was called to dance.


Tommy acted past his fear and went on the TV show Australia’s Got Talent.


Tommy gets hired to dance as a result of moving past his fear and is rewarded with relational collateral by thousands through social media.


Tommy’s wellbeing was displayed by the level of happiness we all experienced just being around him.


If you haven’t done it yet, grab your free Passion Cycle Guide here.


“On the dance floor in full view of everyone I was doing the one thing I hated and loving every minute of it.”


Passion has the power to not only change your life but also the lives of those around you.

Cherisse is thankful Tommy shared his passion with me, and so am I!

If you’re interested in learning more about how to tap into the power of The Passion Cycle for your business click here.



What does Productivity have to do with Passion?

By Passion Cycle for Life & Dentistry No Comments

Productivity is not about…

…adding more stuff to your to-do list or increasing stress in your life in any way.  So, take a deep breath and relax…

I want to teach you how to be more strategic in the countless actions you are already taking. No one wants to add another heaping serving of busy to an already full plate. 

My intention is for you to be more intentional. 

Let’s face it… people who are passionate tend to be more productive. Why? Because they have defined and are living out, at some measure, something that brings them a sense of wellbeing. This is their passion.

Most people who are busy, stressed out, and depressed have one thing in common… confusion! They don’t know what they want or even where to start. So, they stay busy doing what they hate while they wait for someone or something to rescue them.

“If Passion is the fuel then productivity is the engine!”- Gary Zelesky

Productivity starts with a small step toward doing something about what you want. Not waiting for the right time, place, or enough money. Trust me that will never happen. Graphic showing the passion cycle

If you haven’t read The Passion Cycle: Making a Difference in the Marketplace yet, follow the link and do so now. This topic willmake more sense to you once you’ve been fully introduced to The Passion Cycle. 

In that piece, I talked about how each section of The Passion Cycle has 2 Tracking Performance Indicators (TPIs)? When we talked about Passion, our TPIs were Discovery and Deployment. For Productivity, our TPIs are Take and Action. Those are some strong words that may elicit an instant feeling from you, but before you judge, read on.

TPI Metrics of Productivity:  Take & Action


This performance indicator measures levels of priorities and one’s ability to understand what is truly of importance. It’s not about taking or making big action steps, it’s about simply understanding what is important to you and taking care of that before what is less important. Increased productivity (taking)is about clarity, not confusion. I take action when I am certain of the action I must take. Passionate people know what to take and when to take it. 

You can’t drive fast in the fog!

When I am confused about the expectations that have been placed on me I second guess myself and lack confidence in myself and those around me. 

The worst speaker is a confused one! 

The worst speech I ever gave was when, minutes before I was set to present, the meeting coordinator gave me a list of all the changes he wanted to make to my speech. I am open to a few last-minute changes but not an entire re-write. 

Passionate people are productive!

Passionate people know who they are and are confident enough to ask questions, take critique, make others better and be efficient. 

They simply care more than others! 

They take action because they know what action to take, when to take action, and most importantly where their actions will take them and others.  


A person’s actions are one of the greatest metric indicators of their peak performance especially when increased productivity is the highest priority. Action that is motivated by passion is intentional, proactive, and at times, sacrificial. 

I am the “Human Defibrillator”! 

When I am in my passion/calling (speaking) I am full tilt and ready and willing to do whatever it takes. I believe what I do off stage is just as important as my on-stage performance. My actions are much louder than my words. They are are seen and felt and become the metrics by which my value is measured.  

I am so grateful for the opportunity!

I go beyond what is expected because of the amazing opportunities organizations afford me to speak. 

  •     Passion makes me intentional about how I treat everybody.
  •     Passion makes me proactive in my response to meeting planners. 
  •     Passion makes me sacrificial in order to stay within budgets.  

Within the corporate structure, true productivity cannot happen without being measured by actions taken by passionate employees. 

Here are a few keys to taking action:

  •     You must take action because it will seldom be given to you. 
  •     Intentional versus busy! Being intentional means you are in control of your busy. 
  •     Productivity starts with setting and achieving ridiculous goals. Start with the end in mind.  
  •     Procrastination is not your friend. Stop waiting for perfect to show up.
  •     Stop telling people what you are going to do. Just do it.



Fuel Your Passion graphic

The Passion Cycle: Making a Difference in the Marketplace

By Passion Cycle for Life & Dentistry, Uncategorized No Comments

The background

For the past 30 years, I have been challenged by business owners to prove that passion can truly make a difference in the marketplace.

They ask me questions like, “Is passion much more than the feeling of a moment’s pleasure? Does passion really belong in the business section of the bookstore and not the romance section?”  

Without hesitation, I would suggest that passion correctly defined is the missing link within the corporate structure. I respond to those questions asked of me with questions of my own:

  •     What if passion and its practical effect on business could be measured? 
  •     What if passion could be used to analyze business performance?  
  •     What if passion, not simply position was the job performance indicator?

I have cracked the code!

The Passion Cycle

The answer to these questions leads us to my Passion Cycle. Within the Passion Cycle, there are 4 key benchmarks that measure successful movement:  Passion, Productivity, Profitability and Pleasure.   The final outcome is what I refer to as Optimal Energy Performance or OEP.


Graphic showing the passion cycle



Within each individual key benchmark, there are 2 Tracking Performance Indicators (TPI) that create an even greater focus and clarity. Please keep this in mind… The Passion Cycle is more than a tool of measurement it is a journey of refinement and retooling. The outcome might be your long-awaited business renaissance. 

TPI Metrics 

  1.   Passion Discovery: The discovery of one’s passion often takes place in the valleys of our lives and seldom on the mountain tops. Mountain tops generate new visions and dreams; however, valleys create character and integrity.

I measure my passion not by how much pleasure I am receiving now but by who I am becoming to others in the long haul. Passion is not a sprint but a life journey. I track my passion performance not by the pain I might be experiencing but by the person I am as a result of the pain. 

Note: Life’s valleys of painful experiences forge the strength and resiliency to not only discover your passion but also to deploy it, live it, and complete its journey. 

  1.   Passion Deployment: How do I measure deployment performance within my employment? Passion always finds ways to reward without the desire to be given personal recognition. To perform your passion in the workplace means to remind yourself in some way of what makes you happy. In being reminded of what brings you joy you are then reminded to perform acts that will bring less stress and greater fulfillment to those you work with.

Keep in mind that your passion performance is simply a hobby until it has been tested by the fire of opposition. Your acts of kindness to others might be met with resistance or even defiance. Passion deployment is measured by your performance, not theirs.

Passion Myths

Over the past 30 years I have been asked more questions about the most misunderstood word in the English language…Passion. To answer these passion questions let me start by telling you a few passion falsehoods: 

  •     It’s not all about you! Your passion can only be fulfilled in serving others as well as yourself.
  •     Your passion need only to make sense to you but must never be immoral or illegal. 
  •     Your gifts, talents, and abilities do not have to define your passion. What you are good at is not always what you are passionate about.
  •     There is never a “perfect time” to start living your passion.
  •     Passion has more to do with finding resilience in pain than fulfilment in pleasure.
  •     Passion assassins are many times those closest to you!
  •     Passion cannot be killed, destroyed, or lost. It can, however, be buried.
  •     Passion doesn’t know how old you are.
  •     Passion is expressed through your unique personality.
  •     Passion doesn’t need to be perfect it just needs performed.

Do you feel like you understand Passion yet? 


The Team Turbine

Now, we’ll delve into WHY the Passion Cycle works and point you to where you can learn more about each part of it. 

Check this out – The Team Turbine 

My wife Cherisse and I were traveling along the central coast of California when her brilliance surfaced (as it often does). We were discussing the Passion Cycle and she said, “What about the concept of a Team Turbine?”

After reading the definition of a turbine: a rotary mechanical device that extracts energy from a fluid flow and converts it into useful work.

She went on to say, “This is what many corporate teams lack… the fluid flow, which is what The Passion Cycle provides.” 

The Passion Cycle contains the perfect metrics that provide consistent team fluid flow and needed momentum. The team turbine captures the positive energy within the work culture and, like a laser, narrows it for maximum efficiency 

When in tandem, the passion cycle and the team turbine convert fluid flow and captured energy into useful work or OEP (Optimal Energy Performance).

The Passion Cycle on Auto-Pilot

The best part? It is all self-generating with little or no need for endless incentives to incite motivation and commitment. All it takes is a single spark of recognition to ignite the process!  

Want more? Of course you do!  Please join me on Facebook to continue the conversation.