McNulty Creates Totally Psych’d To Inspire, Create and Motivate Audiences and Individuals

ImageAs the founder of Success Stories, Inc. – a healthcare management consulting firm, I created a service called Totally Psych’d. With 35+ years in healthcare and as a consultant, I have been an advisor in a variety of different ways. Out of graduate school at Florida State University, I was a therapist at a private psychiatric hospital and later a counselor for teens with serious alcohol and drug addiction. As a professional consultant since 1990, I have worked with start up companies as well as the large healthcare corporations. In this field you find yourself attending many presentations, speeches and experts at podiums. Additionally, I’ve worked with young people trying to carve out a career path and many 50+-something friends who have suddenly been displaced. What I came to realize and witness were common themes of lost inspiration, motivation, innovation and a confused sense of self. No podium speaker is going to turn that around in an hour.

Totally Psych’d, as presented on the Success Stories, Inc. web site is not a speakers bureau; rather, it is a well-crafted presentation to targeted audiences designed to help others find their passion, their personal inventory of skills and a path to reinvention. We’ve worked very purposefully to gather a dozen (so far) theatrical, skilled and captivating presenters who can get their audience “totally psych’d” toward personal or community action. “Imagine a group of high school seniors about to embark on a college path without any strong insight into what they might do well and enjoy. We all know the stories of students who have switched majors and ended up taking six years to graduate – some with lots of debt and very anxious parents. You’ve got to roll out of bed in the morning loving what you do. Today, happiness seems to be the missing ingredient in our daily experiences. Our target gatherings might be college freshman, a stale management team, a bored board of directors, and a group of dreamers looking for a push or those recently fired or pink-slipped on a Friday by email. Too many good people don’t know how to get emotionally and professionally jump started. They are fearful of their future or are oblivious regarding their self-worth or market-value. Sadly, too many ignore the things they would love to do. I often ask, “if you could start fresh, what would you love to do?” Many say, “start my own business, others say become a carpenter, have my own radio show, become a chef, be a teacher and so on. I say back to them, “why not now? Let’s look at that and create-motivate-inspire a plan. We have to help folks snap out of the doldrums, give themselves credit for what they know and match it with a fire in the belly to go do it. For younger people, it might be guiding their passion and energy, mentoring them and motivate them to follow a path to a positive outcome – learning with every bump and bruise. So many parents ask me to sit with their kids and help them discover who they are and what they can be. I thrive on their sense of adventure, but I work to shape a plan. As an adjunct professor, I watch and listen to the hunger pains so many young people have as they graze at the cafeteria line of life’s choices. They are smart, but coddled. They are skilled, but don’t have a toolbox. We all know the kids I’m talking about. Enter Totally Psych’d.

Presentations are inspirational and entertaining. They can be interactive and are always dramatically theatrical. We are here to fire people up, not do a PowerPoint, give them handouts and watch them forget what they heard by the time they hit the door. We don’t have people looking at their watches, instead they are laughing, crying, getting ideas and you can see the expressions on their faces. It is the feedback actors get when they do live theater. Totally Psych’d match a presenter to the audience. Most presentations are 90-minutes and the fee is a flat and firm $1,500. According to McNulty, the single fee structure is market sensitive and avoids getting bogged down with clients and presenters trying to negotiate. Let’s just get on with the show!!

I created Success Stories, Inc. in 1990. I never thought I’d do radio, but I started in 1995 and host a weekly health talk radio program, Spotlight on Health on JOY-FM for 10 years. Since my start, I’ve done 800+ shows. I was lucky to receive storytelling training as a Fellow in the Fellows Action Network of the Health Foundation of Western and Central New York. I am a Leadership Buffalo graduate, Class of 2001. I am a photographer and I incorporate photography in to some of my Totally Psych’d presentations. As Rod Stewart wrote, “Every Picture Tells a Story.”

The service is booking dates for the remainder of 2014 and into the first half of 2014. To learn more, visit and click on the page or Totally Psych’d on Facebook. Call  me at (716) 481-4578 to book a presentation.

Totally Psych’d is a copyrighted service of Success Stories, Inc., a healthcare management consulting firm specializing in health, medical, behavioral health, start ups, healthcare hospitality/customer service and a wide variety of not for profits. Success Stories, Inc. is based in Orchard Park with operations in New York and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Are you ready to get Totally Psych’d?

How Old Should A Child Be When They Get a Cell Phone?

With my background in behavioral health and sociology, I’m very distressed about the increasing obsession young people have with their cell phones. Here’s what I see:

  1. A seeming obligation to be in touch with something all the time – text messages, games, music, nonsense photos, and much more
  2. Overwhelming burden to “respond” to hundreds of messages per day
  3. Oblivion to those around them – to the point of rudeness and insensitivity
  4. An increasing loss of real social interaction skills – leading to social awkwardness, shyness and a stagnant maturation process consistent with actual age
  5. Parental surrendering to the cell phone as a form of entertainment for their child
  6. No rules and parameters regarding use – dinner table, church, school, late at night, movie theaters. You get the picture, right?


So, what age is appropriate for a child to have their own cell phone?

Do You Have a Business Plan for 2012? C’mon, Really?

Yes, let's do this!

Business plans no longer come in big three-ring binders with a nice cover and sit on a shelf. For God’s sake, I hope not!

Rather, today’s business plan is an organic working document representing the facts and formulas for success. The longer they are, the fewer people will read them, including you if you wrote it. A good business plan tells a story of your situation, where you are, where you want to be and how to get there. Does that sound like War and Peace to you?

The recent plans I have done become the agenda items for brief “where are we so far” meetings that should not exceed an hour. They are plans with assignments and accountability. They are organic because they will grow, change, blossom if you water them correctly.

Think of a business plan as your company’s AAA TripTic. You have a place to start, things to do along the way, detours to make, places to stay a little longer if needed, speeds to consider, resources you’ll need and a map (GPS, I get it) to reach your destination.

We have all taken trips on a whim. Some work out fine; while others are a “are we ever going to get there?” experience. A business plan organizes your journey – plain and simple.

At Success Stories, Inc. we can help you create your TripTic and make your business plan practical, achievable, ambitious and adjustable. I promise. Too many times I’ve seen plans loaded with stuff no one reads or they fake like they understand it. Meanwhile, everyone is going in the direction they think works best. A good plan is brought into meetings to examine progress, make adjustments, discuss external forces or unforeseen market shifts or regulations. That’s the “plan” part of an active business plan.

So, tell the truth. Do you have one? If not, no sweat, but let’s get started.

The company you save may be your own!

No Brains, No Gains

We have all heard the expression, “no pain, no gain.” It has lots of applications. Athletes use it often. People who have struggled to achieve something important use it to motivate them.

Well, I have a new version, No Brains, No Gains. So what do I mean? Knowledge is critical to becoming a good leader. An engaging personality, good listening skills, a willingness to admit you are wrong, asking for feedback, a passion to achieve success and a drive to combine doing the right thing from a framework based on facts. We get facts through experience or research. When a critical decision is on the line, we validate before we speak.

Have you ever encountered a “leader”, board chair or project manager who practices Ready, Shoot, Aim? I have too many times.

Not long ago, I sat in a board room where the chair of the board stated, “Not for profit organizations cannot give money to other not for profit organizations.” It wasn’t true then and it remains very untrue now. Imagine that? A well-respected, national attorney who is an expert in not for profit law confirmed this untruth at a recent conference. This same board chair warned fellow board members that they cannot write a personal check to a political candidate, nor attend benefits or rallies of any kind. When asked if they could attend as long as the organization was not mentioned, no T-Shirt, hat, pin or anything representing the organization was worn; they were still told, “no because your personal check could be traced to the organization.” Once again this, too, is untrue.

So, No Brains, No Gains means people in power often spew out authoritative sounding edicts that prove to be unsubstantiated and blatantly false. Having a strong background in behavioral health, I am aware of the pitfalls of leader-want-to-be types. Typically, they are insecure, suffer from Imposter Syndrome and have a need to show their depth of skills and knowledge even when it does not exist.

No Brains, No Gains can be detrimental to an organization as this type of leader can set up a folie du doute – a leader who struggles with abnormal doubts about common sense beliefs creating a course of action that is indecisive and often inaccurate.

No Brains leads to No Gains and may stifle an organization’s ability and/or willingness to pursue new avenues of growth. What develops is a “safety net” of sorts or a hovering around actions that present no perceived risk or repeating what you’ve always done because it’s predictable. True leaders know risk-reward is part of being a visionary leader. This type of leader has Brains and makes Gains.

No Brains, No Gains leadership fosters a fear of risk taking resulting in no one challenging the status quo. My mother always said, “before you say anything, make sure you know what you are talking about.” Damn good advice, Mom. Mothers are natural born leaders because they have lots of experience. I say beware of boys in men’s suits who bully to be leaders. The suit might fit, but they don’t. They are funny to watch, but catastrophic to most organizations.

The No Brains, No Gains leader does not like to be challenged for fear of being exposed…yes, the Imposter Syndrome! So, they blurt something out as if it is written in the Constitution and they request no feedback or discussion. If they said it, it must be right. Rubbish, I say my good people!

Demand that your leaders know what they are talking about before you give them the gavel to run your meeting or organization. Remember…No Brains = No Gains!

What do you think? Have you seen this in action yourself?

I really don't know what I'm talking about...

Objects at Rest Stay at Rest, So Do Organizations, Employees and Board Members

Newton Would Be Proud

Newton’s First Law of Motion states  that an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. I find this so  true in today’s business world, too.

Stifled organizations find a comfort zone that can inhibit motion, speed and direction. An “unbalanced force” might be exactly what the organization needs. Unbalanced does not have to be a bad thing. It can be healthy, yet risky. It can be radical, yet position the organization for a path of energy and growth. Research shows change is critical, but it is often feared and resisted.  Employees may resist because their skills and abilities are tested; in other cases, they fear change  and sabotage change because it threatens their daily routine. Too often, as a consultant and as a CEO, I have witnessed employees anxiety about change, their fight to convince others that the change is not warranted . The question I always ask is, “what are you protecting?”  Rarely is a solid argument made that change jeopardizes the organization. Instead, I see the painfully apparent investment in protecting the person’s job, daily routine and organizational role.

I met Tom Peters, the renowned business consultant, author and speaker, several years ago. I was drawn to his passion to foster and demand change in organizations. He said every organization should have a Director of Creative Chaos – a person who challenges everything within an organization. He was not referring to Fortune 100 companies; rather, all organizations – for profit and not for profit. Tom Peters is an unbalanced force. I asked him to sign his book on the back cover and upside down. He laughed and said, “you get it and thanks for really listening.”

Employees can be invested in staying at rest. Members of a Board of Directors might be more comfortable avoiding risk, thus they stay at rest. The promising company can stay in motion, maintain a reasonable speed, manage change and experience energy leading to growth. A willingness to stretch core competencies into something new is energetic. Know what your customers expect from your organization and over-deliver. Anticipate trends and be the first to develop a response. Encourage employees to present new, wild, risky and unconventional ideas. Break the “permission to speak” mentality that thwarts employee ideas. Support ‘what if’ thinking.

Do you think Google, Apple, Amazon and other organizations known for creative successes stay at rest? So, who is keeping you under their thumb?

Egotistical board chairs, disruptive executives, owners of a family business have been among the “unbalanced forces” I have witnessed that model the negative side of this term. They lead by intimidation usually because of their lack of business acumen. Their “force” is one of control. They distort the facts to push their own agenda. They don’t invite opinion; rather, they dictate opinion. They like to set a stage where others fear to challenge their vision – usually a dark tunnel vision.  Sadly, their organization’s demise is predictable.

What to do…

Challenge, change or leave. Failure to do so means you will stay at rest. You will not move. You will be unhappy. You will not grow personally or professionally.

Where has risk taken me? I thrive on change. I’ve been a therapist, baseball coach, business entrepreneur, newspaper columnist, talk radio host, film producer, college professor, company owner, company CEO, founder of a not for profit, volunteer and screenwriter. Most importantly, I’ve been able and encouraged to do these things by people who love me – my family and friends. They charge my energy tank. We create through exploration, laughter and hard work. Together, we never stay at rest and have a blast doing so!

Are you at rest or in motion?

Is your organization at rest or in motion?

What type of an “unbalanced force” are you?

I welcome your thoughts.

Tom McNulty

Director of Creative Chaos

Fresh Pair of Eyes: A Great Value

What Do Your Eyes See?

Success Stories started in 1990 and our first client was the University of Buffalo School of Dental Medicine. The assignment involved a communication audit involving faculty, students, alumni and the dental community. The presenting problem was a sense that there were multi-level disconnects going on and the communication tools were not working.

I am not a dentist. I was not a college student and I did not attend University of Buffalo at any time.

I am a marketing and management consultant. I’m fortunate to have many years in marketing and communication. I know what printing costs. I know what advertising works and what doesn’t. I understand what people want to read and I know what they will ignore. I was a therapist for several years and I know how to interview, listen, create trust and read body language.

As I rolled up my sleeves to dig in to the assignment, one of the greatest advantages I had was I offered a “fresh pair of eyes” on many things that were standard procedure, “always done this way”, tradition, might be required (most weren’t) or haven’t been done for years. I was able to immediately spot concerns I thought were obvious. I asked students about dozens of printed materials they never paid much attention to because they were bulky and the printing was small and too tight on the page.

Alumni databases were fragmented and there were no protocols on how contact information should be entered.

I asked a great deal of questions as if I were a dental professor who just moved to town, parents looking for the right school for their very bright daughter, a local dentist interested in taking a few courses and a consultant comparing dental schools in the Northeast.

Because I did not work at the Dental School, I had a fresh pair of eyes, no pre-existing opinion and a willingness to listen in an entirely different way.

My final report and recommendation were given directly to the Dean and they were well received. The Dental School saved lots of money on printing, opened up new lines of communication with logical stakeholders and increased their recruitment reach beyond the Northeast.

A fresh pair of eyes can see very clearly.

Caught in a corporate rut? Not sure what’s working and what is not effective?

Success Stories, Inc. has better than 20-20 vision. Let’s talk soon.

Thank you for reading this blog. I’d love to hear from you. Your comments are a gift.

Buffalo Sabres’ Passion and What Children Should Learn

Watching Ryan Miller walk off the ice was tough to see because you know his passion for the game and his sense of obligation to his teammates and fans. What I also see is how passion builds character and how our emotions help shape our values. We get excited because something stirs us inside. It fires us up. We believe. We get involved. We dream.

When our dreams do not come true, we get stirred up, too. Many of us grow from disappointment. We develop from failures. We examine, correct our course and we are better for it.

So, what will you tell your Buffalo Sabres-crazed children about Game Seven and lessons of life?

Our real world says not everyone will get a Stanley Cup. We can teach our children that success is measured in many ways. Did the Sabres truly lose if they played as hard as they could? When our children work very hard in school, in sports or other pursuits, they are winners because they grow, develop, understand, adjust and try again at what they seek to achieve.

What should children learn about competition? I hope they learn great lessons from their parents about competing for a job, improving their community, supporting a worthy cause and being kind to others. We should also make sure that they understand and practice being good sports. Congratulate and console. As they say in England, Stay Calm and Carry On!

What is our “final score” in life? How do we want our children to view success? How can we help our children understand how passion makes great things happen? OK, it is not a guarantee, but who could deny that passion is not critical in life. Passion drives our spirit, enriches our soul and fuels our energy to “carry on.”

We are given opportunities to teach others. The Buffalo Sabres’ passion was obvious throughout the series  right to the season’s final buzzer.

While I do not know the gentleman, I suspect that Sabres owner, Mr. Pegula gets it, taught his children well and will have encouraging things to say to his players.


What Stirs Us Inside

Throughout the course of our day we encounter people, places, images, messages, issues and opinions. I’ve heard we see 2,500 messages a day in some form. That’s a great amount of communication coming our way. We sort it out rather quickly into categories in our mind or it slips in to our subconscious or, better yet in most cases, right out of our mind.

Thank God that he created our mind to capture and retain things that stir us. Things stir us to action, discussion, research or they simply touch us emotionally. When this happens, we do a double-take and we attempt to recapture the moment, image, experience or feeling. As we know, we are all “stirred” in our own unique way. It helps us define what is truly important. Typically these moments also say something about our value system, character and who we are proud to be.

So, here’s my recent moment. It may seem silly or small on the world’s stage of issues from another’s perspective. For me, it touched my soul.

It is the Goo Goo Dolls recent recording and video, Not Broken. My father served in WWII and I do volunteer advocacy for returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. The song and the video touched me as I thought of what it must be like for veterans away from home and their family members. Horrible things happen to good people because of war. Healing takes years. Bodies, minds and spirits are broken, but when love reaches those who need it most, the wounds of war can heal.

Check out the song and video. What stirs you inside?

Tom McNulty
President, Success Stories