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Category Archives: Business

21st Century Business

Super Opportunity

I thought I would take this post in a different direction with the end of football season upon us.  If you just watched the video above then you know the following words will be meant for those of you who want to win.  Win at career, win at family and win at life.  Since leaving corporate America a few years ago I have found a very lucrative home in the world of consulting and network marketing.  Now I know what you are thinking, “not another pyramid scheme,” but pyramid schemes are illegal so I will not cover those in this post because I do not participate in them personally and do not endorse illegal activities.

What I have found is that network marketing, multi-level marketing, referral marketing and direct selling are all the same as saying that “I sell products or services by word of mouth to friends, family and strangers.”  When you think about what it takes to start, grow and maintain your new business you always have to come back to getting customers.  How are you going to get new customers as well as team members to help you market your products or services?  Well, you could start by advertising all over the place (which is expensive) or you could just spread the word through the infinite amount of communication portals at our disposal in 2013 (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.).

Spread The Word

If you watched the Super Bowl last night, I am sure that you saw the dozens of different commercials of companies that were hopeful you would buy their products sometime in the immediate future.  Each 30 second spot went for a whopping $4,000,000 just on the hope that you would remember their clever ad when it was time for you to buy your next car, home, TV etc.  Well just imagine if all of the companies who participated last night decided to keep their money in their pocket and save it for when you bring them and actual customer.  That’s all relationship marketing is…the company pays you instead of a TV station, newspaper, radio or billboard company.

Now when they pay you, they know that they have a customer and they know how they got the customer into their fold.  When one customer wanders in from the outside, the company doesn’t have a clue as to whether it was from the ad on TV or the billboard on the interstate.  Every company would prefer to know just how they reached every consumer of their product because they know the referred consumer is the one that sticks because of the strength of the relationship that steered them to the company in the first place.

So now that we are considering a different approach to financial freedom, the big question comes as to which product or service do you provide to your inner and outer circle of relationships.  That decision is one that is totally yours to make depending on your work ethic and your passion.

Decision Time

The opportunity I chose to pursue was one that would be a win for all who participate in it…deregulated energy. Deregulated energy is a win for the consumer, supplier, incumbent and the marketer of the gas or electricity provider (which could be you).  All you have to do is ask people who you know to consider lowering their utility bills.  If they become your energy customer, you get paid every time they pay their bill.  Simple huh?

Some of the people you have this discussion with may want to join you in this very lucrative business opportunity.  Show them the simple business plan, answer a few questions and send them to your website to join your team.  Keep duplicating the simple business plan on a regular basis and you should be earning thousands of dollars per month in no time.

Lastly, if you are like most people who participated in the New Year’s Resolution phenomenon this year, you have probably given up on some or all of those commitments.  I have found the Top 3 resolutions to normally be lose weight, stop smoking, and save money.  I can help you with the third one and maybe, by knocking out the “save more money” goal, you can get those other ones out of the way because now you will have more time to dedicate to your new disciplines.

If you are interested in joining my team for the next biggest transfer of wealth in the US, just visit my website at http://www.autumnpowerco.igniteinc.biz and view the simple business plan.  The rest is up to you.  Please enjoy the following video as it is one that is both truthful and humorous.

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2013 in Business, Life, Relationships, Sports

 

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Live Guilty

Lance Calls it No Contest.

 

Lance Calls it Quits

By now you have heard that Lance Armstrong has decided to give up his decade-long fight to clear his name of using performance enhancing drugs while on his way to winning the world’s most popular bike race 7 times, the Tour de France.  Those titles, all seven of them, have been stripped from Lance Armstrong.  What most of us know (our strong opinion) by this surrender, is that Lance Armstrong is probably guilty of something.  If not, why would you stop fighting to clear your good name?  After all, Lance is the face of cancer recovery and has millions of fans that look up to him as a hero.

Lance’s decision got me to thinking about what one does if they are in a pursuit of greatness and are presented with a moral dilemma.  Let’s imagine that you become the top cyclist in the world but a year later you fall out of the Top 3.  You know for a fact that the 3 cyclists above you are all using illegal substances to boost their performance.  You decide you are going to compete drug free but a year later you find yourself in 6th place with the 5 above you all using drugs.  Not much time passes before you find a spot at 11th place in the world.  Of course the entire Top 10 is now using performance enhancing drugs and the sport you love is now one where you can no longer compete on a level playing field.

The Moral Dilemma

What do you do now?  Do you stay true to yourself, remain drug free and watch your ranking plummet into the triple digits?  Do you tell on your fellow cheating cyclists?  Or, do you cave in to the pressure and start taking drugs yourself?  After all, without the drugs, there is no way you can beat the cyclists above you that are doping.

This is a choice that many athletes have found themselves facing as they rise through their sports’ respective ranks.  The sprinter who holds all the records at high school goes to a top university only to find that his/her blazing speed is not so fast at this level.  They also quickly realize that some of the runners they are competing with are getting help from banned substances.  These drugs are giving them the edge that they need to get to the top-level of their sport where, of course, they will quit using once they are crowned a champion.

This year nearly 100 minor league baseball players have been busted with performance enhancing drugs in their system.  The reason that they risked getting busted is clear.  They wanted to get to “the show”, or what we commonly call the big leagues, and they were willing to do whatever it took to get the edge and stand out in the minors.  The thinking goes that once I make it to the “bigs” I can stop taking the drugs because I have arrived.  What they find is that they have to keep it going or they could get kicked right back down into the minors.  Their moral dilemma continues…

The Armstrong Legacy

Lance Armstrong is putting up a good front right now.  His foundation donations are up and 100% of his sponsors have made the decision to stand by him even as he does something that few innocent men do.  Over time though more and more people will come to see what has happened here.  A man recovers from testicular cancer, a disease that should have killed him, and then decides to give up fighting for his innocence around doping.  I have heard that while Lance was at death’s door he was compelled to tell his doctors what he had put into his body so that they could save his life.  He confessed to being a bad boy in front of two friends, a married couple, who are lined up behind a dozen or so others to swear that Lance used banned substances during his career.

Why would this couple, former bike riding teammates (some who were busted for drugs and some not), and others from around the sport of cycling all line up to testify against him using drugs?  Probably because he is guilty of something.  Tests are one thing but when human beings, with no ax to grind, all start telling the same story about you it’s probably because it is true.  The way to avoid such embarrassing disclosures is to just shut the whole process down which is where we find ourselves right now.

Would Lance have all of the staunch support he now commands if he hadn’t rained in all those millions for cancer research?  Probably not and eventually the money train is going to slow down and when it does opinions of Lance’s guilt or innocence will start to color his legacy the right shade of gray.  So often the court of “public opinion” depends so much on the likability and the bankability of the subject in question.  Everyone loves Lance because of his cancer battle and are now more than willing to look the other way at the fact that he cheated his sport.  Those of us who are smart enough to realize the feeling of true innocence would never give that up unless we were guilty.

You decide…

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2012 in Business, Life, Sports

 

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My Favorite Villian

I love movies.  I love the escape that they provide from reality for 90-120 minutes at a clip.  I especially love the basic formula that is used to tell the story.  If you haven’t guessed yet, I am speaking of the age-old formula of “good vs. evil” that is the blueprint of most theatrical performances.  As a child growing up in the 70’s, every year I could see this formula play out in both of my Easter classics.  One being The Ten Commandments and the other was the Wizard of Oz.

Both had villains that we were introduced to in the very beginning of the films and appeared difficult, if not impossible, to defeat.  To keep things simple I will just focus on Dorothy and her nightmarish situation of waking up in another time and place with just her little dog.  Kids could identify better with her because the age gap wasn’t as far as that of Moses in Egypt.  Minutes into Dorothy’s saga, she is confronted by the evil, wicked witch whom we find very scary, intimidating and unbeatable.

After we are introduced to our evil villain in the first minutes of a movie, we then spend the majority of the film wondering how on earth our hero is going to triumph.  But time after time the hero finds some miraculous way to conquer evil in the waning moments of the movie.  It could be something as simple as a plain old glass of water; we have discovered that from the wicked witch’s demise in the land of Oz.

That all changed for me 35 years ago in the summer of 1977.  My dad took me to the movies for the first time (he left my mom when I was 4) and it just happened to be the blockbuster film that I had heard so much about…STAR WARS!  All I knew for sure is that there was this awesome scene where chess was being played on a board by live creatures.  The rest was all a great and spectacular surprise to my 9-year-old eyes.

Moments into the film we meet our villain and he was like no other bad guy I had ever seen on-screen.  His height, his gait and that voice had me quaking in my Dolby stereo implanted seat.  As soon as we meet him he is killing people with his bare hands and also this mysterious power known only as the “force.”  Immediately my mind starts to wonder how on earth are the good guys going to defeat this evil?

Only this time the evil villain would not be defeated by the good guys before the credits rolled up the screen.  How could this be?  Good has to triumph over evil because that is the only formula this kid has ever known.  But George Lucas had other plans for his fans as he put together the best trilogy to grace the big screen.  And not only does the dark villain, now known to us as Darth Vader, survive the first chapter of the saga, he comes back in the “Empire Strikes Back” (my favorite of all six films) as mean and as ruthless a bad guy as I had ever witnessed.  The guy cut off his own son’s hand for goodness sake.  Then he coined a phrase that will live in moviegoers eternity when he uttered, “I am your father!”

As you can see, I could go on all day about Lord Vader and his evil antics but what the first trilogy left me asking myself was what could have happened to him to turn him into such an evil monster.  Well Mr. Lucas gave us a wonderful back story about how Lord Vader came to exist.  And in 2005, at a midnight showing no less, the reason was revealed…it was love.

Darth Vader chose evil over good so that he could save the life of his wife and unborn child (she did have twins but that was a surprise to everyone).  How many times has history shown us that behind every great moment was a love story?  Love of a woman/man or love of freedom and country have been common themes since the beginning of time.

Darth Vader…evil personified

But today I have a new favorite villain to watch as he conquers his foes on the hardwood of the NBA.  His name is LeBron James and I have watched this man dominate the sport that he loves for more than a decade now.  But to so many people, two summers ago he became the biggest villain in the sport of professional basketball.  Why?  Because he made a choice that he had every right to make as the most sought after free agent of modern times.

Criticize the way he went about it all you like, but at the end of the day he made the best decision for himself, his family and his basketball career.  So many of us are not able to make those kinds of decisions in our entire lives and then this hometown kid decides to take his talents to South Beach and join forces with his buddies on a quest for multiple championships.  Had I chosen to leave my firm when I was as hot as he was in year 7, there’s no doubt in my mind that I would still be at the top of the corporate world today (that “two comma” income did allude me).

In year one of his journey he made the conscious decision to embrace his new villainous role and play with an angry chip on his shoulder.  He even made an awesome commercial about it with his team from Nike.  That earned him boos in almost every arena in the league whenever he touched the ball.

He played hard that season but made a habit of not finishing as strong as he was capable of and his “hater” ranks grew stronger as he failed in the best of seven against the Dallas Mavericks (the Mavs got even from their previous 4-2 loss in 2006 to the Heat).  So this year he had to constantly hear that he couldn’t get it done, about his “Decision” and his prediction of multiple championships (those other two guys said it too).

He could have been unbearable when he finally got the chance to hoist the trophy but instead he was grateful and humbled by his team’s triumph.  He knew that he couldn’t do it alone and he chose the team that he knew he could get it done with.  That line of thinking got him labeled the ultimate villain and that was unfair.  LeBron knows more than anyone that life is unfair at times and he does his part to level the playing field.  This year he made a commercial pleading with young people to stay in school and get an education.

Mr. James, you became the type of villain that, when it is all said and done, there won’t be anyone around to claim that they ever hated you.  I look forward to you leading our country to Gold in London and your next NBA campaign as you embark upon the hardest challenge in pro sports…repeating as champion.

Lord Vader made a tough decision that led him down an evil path that forever cemented him in our minds as the top member of the Evil Hall of Fame.  LeBron James made a tough decision that will cement him in our minds as one of the greatest to ever play the sport and a guaranteed Hall of Famer.  For different reasons I have found a way to love them both.

LeBron James…NBA Champion

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2012 in Business, Life, Love, Movie, Sports

 

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Routine Commitment

Why do we make the decision to walk away from a commitment?  I believe that most of us are not walking away from the commitment, person, job etc., but instead we are walking away from the routine.  Most of the things that we embark upon in our lifetimes will almost always settle down into some sort of routine and, like it or not, commitment to that routine will need to be made for the relationship to survive and then thrive.

Think about how we start our new job.  We come in to the office for a few interviews at different times of the morning or afternoon and, if we nail it and get the job, we are asked to start the following Monday.  That Monday we get up bright and early, get dressed, grab a quick bite and jump into traffic for what will now be our morning commute.  Traffic is not too heavy that morning so we think that “hey, this is no problem.”  We arrive at the office early and then we get the tour of the various departments and job descriptions of the key people.

This is great but what we haven’t yet established is our daily routine.  Everything is fresh and new and everyone is nice and friendly and it is all coordinated to welcome you in to your new work family.  But in just a few weeks you won’t recognize this set up or remember your first day.  Instead you will now be settled into a daily work routine that you may or may not enjoy.  The key is that committing to that routine will probably determine your success or failure in your new work relationship.

Another great example of the routine is when we decide that we are going to go to the gym and get into better shape.  Once again, we come in at an odd hour and inquire about the costs and benefits of membership at this fitness club.  We are greeted pleasantly and given the tour of the facility and when all of those things feel pretty good we commit and join.  Now because we came in during our lunch hour and used most of it joining the gym, we have to start our workout routine some other day in the immediate future.

Now we have a decision to make.  Do we work out before, during or after work?  Do we go everyday or every other day?  Once we decide when we are going to workout we then have to figure out what equipment we are going to use.  If we just go in there and jump on different machines or just grab some free weights, that is going to get real boring really soon.  We need to develop a workout plan and then we need to commit to staying with the program until our goals are achieved.

If we do not commit to the workout schedule and then the routine we will follow, we will probably not achieve our goal and even stop going all together (gym’s bank on you quitting and continuing to pay by the way).  As we all know, there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of ways for us to lose weight and get into better shape but none of them will work without committing to their routine.  In sports, like the upcoming Olympics for example, we know that without the years of intense training and commitment to a particular discipline, the athletes have no chance to make the team let alone win a medal.

Years ago I had the pleasure of hearing a motivational speech from Bart Connor, the gold medal winning Olympic gymnast, on what it took to become a world-class athlete.  He told us simply that if you wanted to become a world-class gymnast you just had to do two things…work out when you felt like it and work out when you didn’t feel like it.  He said commitment to his routine was paramount to his success and those unwilling to work extremely hard never had a chance to compete at the Olympic level, let alone score a perfect “10” like he did in 1984.

So we know that if we want an arrangement to last we have to get into a routine that we are committed to, right?  Wrong.  We need to let the routine develop and feel good about that routine and then commit to it.  If not, we end up in the bad boyfriend/girlfriend, fiancée/fiancée and husband/wife relationships that we will eventually walk away from.  The things we initially found attractive about the other person get lost and we settle into a less than exciting routine.

Many men who wandered in their marriage (the exception not the rule) have stated that the sex had become routine and had been reduced in frequency (oral is always the first to go) which caused them to find a “girlfriend.”  A girlfriend always wants to fool around.  In fact, to a married wanderer, the only real reason that their immoral relationship exists is for sexual supplementation.  How can the answer to a successful marriage or long-term relationship be fooling around with someone else?  It isn’t but we lack the courage to commit to the routine, or better yet change the routine, so we set about a course of action that will ultimately destroy our relationship, job, workout regimen etc.

I do not pretend to have all of the answers.  The truth is I do not.  But what I do have is a desire to look at where things went wrong and logically conclude what the best course of action should have been.  By taking responsibility for letting the routine go south and realizing that I am accountable, I can build the successful routine for my health, wealth and my love life and possibly live happily ever after.  I hope that you can too!

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2012 in Business, Life, Relationships, Sports

 

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Check Mate

Many of us grew up playing board games like Monopoly, Sorry and Scrabble and I was no different.  I loved to compete and would always take no prisoners when I played.  If I was going to take the time to set up the game, count out the money or spread out letters then I was going to do everything I could to beat you.  Some of those games actually come in handy later on in life.  They can help you spell, count or even draw.

The game that helps you think though is the age-old game of chess.  Chess takes strategy in order to best your opponent.  You have to be thinking several moves ahead in order to trap the king and ultimately win the game.  One of my favorite clichés is “Checkers vs. Chess” because it differentiates the thinkers.  I have played both games many times and one calls for thinking ahead, several moves ahead, and the other for simply one move at a time.

We hear in sports all of the time how the best players anticipate where the play is going while the average players are playing in the now or where the play is.  Knowing what your next move is going to be, or at the very least what your move options are, will serve you well in this game of life.

I am reminded of a story that I once heard about a very successful preacher in Southern California during the 80’s.  His congregation was growing by leaps and bounds every Sunday and the outside world was really starting to take notice.  One day after another huge Communion Sunday service the pastor was approached by a savvy marketing executive who was interested in purchasing the mailing list of all the church’s members.  Names, addresses and phone numbers were all given a handsome price of $500,000.

Without blinking the pastor told the executive that he had no interest in selling his church members’ personal information to his firm or any other no matter what the price.  This executive would not be denied so he decided to get on the agenda of the church’s next board meeting.  At the meeting the board was furious to learn that the pastor had turned down the rich financial offer without consulting with them first.  They were excited about all of the changes for the better that could be made at the church with that amount of money.  They were not very concerned with the privacy of their members as they were for the enrichment of their coffers.

Unfortunately the board was unable to accept the marketing executive’s offer without the agreement of the sitting pastor.  Some wise board members wrote that into board policy decades ago and now it was keeping the board from moving forward today.  The pastor knew the rules were on his side so he dug in and refused to move from his position.

The fact that the board did not want to share this information with the church membership really upset the pastor because he felt that they had a right to know their personal information was being sold to a third-party for a hefty sum.  The board now found themselves in an unwinnable position.  They could not get the pastor to budge and they certainly did not want the membership to know their plans.

With the board’s frustration mounting daily, a few of them decided to approach the pastor’s wife.  Surely she could convince him to see things their way and let the payoff go forward.  They argued nightly and the pastor shared his disappointment in his wife with her taking the board’s side against him.  She thought that they could benefit financially from the transaction and her greed got the best of her.  She was playing checkers.

The battle between the board and the pastor continued on for weeks until the board decided their only recourse was to have the pastor removed in favor of a sitting pastor that would okay their transaction with the marketing firm.  The entire church membership would participate in this historical vote and just like most elections not all of the members came out to support their pastor.  Most figured he would win in a landslide and then the board would go through a shake up of its own.

Well as luck would have it, the pastor’s detractors came out in full force but his backers were a little less motivated.  They figured he would be fine and he wasn’t.  The vote was very close and, believe it or not, the decision to oust the beloved pastor came down to just one vote…the one cast by his wife.  She sided with the church board and not her husband so now he was out.

What she did not realize immediately was that she was out as well.  There was no financial windfall realized by her betrayal.  In fact, the result was just the opposite.  The church sent someone to retrieve the couple’s beautiful Cadillac as it was paid for by the church.  The pastor’s wife was even more shocked when the sheriff came knocking at her door to inform her that she would have to vacate the premises in a timely manner.  The church paid the mortgage on their home and now that home was there for the new pastor and his family.

Now it all made sense to her that she was out too but it was too late.  Had she stood strong with her husband she would not have lost her home, her car and soon thereafter, her marriage.  The pastor was down for a few months but his faith sustained him while he founded a new church and soon went on to marry again.  He lived another twenty years of church and marital bliss before he died suddenly of a heart attack.

Thousands of people turned out to attend his funeral which was held in of all places, the very church that had ousted him decades ago.  You see, the membership declined under the leadership of the replacement pastor and some members got wind of the church board’s greedy manuever regarding their personal information and went to worship elsewhere.

Everyone lost in that transaction many years ago.  The church lost a charismatic leader and their membership growth.  The marketing firm never converted the data or sold the membership the products and services they had hoped so they lost.  The pastor’s traitorous wife lost most of all and then died alone.  The pastor did recover nicely because he was a pretty good chess player.  He didn’t see wis wife’s betrayal coming but because he knew it was an option her move didn’t sink him.

The pastor often spoke to his church members about strategic thinking with regards to their faith.  If they expected to one day end up in heaven they would have to stay a few moves ahead.  Ahead of the devil.  Ahead of the flesh.  Ahead of their futures sins.  Because if they died while playing checkers, their name was probably not going to be called at those pearly gates.  Think about it…a few moves ahead.

 
 

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Simplify Your Life

I week from now I will be one year older and I’m not sure how much wiser.  Here is what I do know that I have learned over my 44 years of life…people are simple.  You can put everyone that you encounter, everyone that you know into one of two categories, “Can’t Do or Won’t Do.”

This is something that I picked up in my former corporate life as a leader of people.  What I found is that everyone I interviewed, everyone that I worked with or who worked for me would fit into one of these two categories.  One is good to have in your circle and unfortunately one is bad for you and your life pursuits.

I will tell you about the “Can’t Do” person first because this is the type of individual that you will want to have on your team, as a friend and ultimately as a mate.  Of course the family members who don’t fall into the “Can’t Do” category you just have to find a way to limit the access that you give them to your life…sorry.  The “Can’t Do” person is simply someone who may or may not be capable of doing what you ask them to do but is more than willing to learn.  That person just needs to be told or shown what it is you need and then they magically transform into someone who can and will do what is required.

When you are a leader in your chosen profession you will need to build your team and or department with “Can’t Do” types of people because the more of them that you find the easier your job of leading them will be.  Just imagine how simple life can be when all you have to do is show your team how it’s done and then let them out into the world to be productive.

The benefits of having these same types of people as friends or as a mate or spouse is obvious.  Just imagine you had a friend who invited you over to their home for dinner.  Because of health concerns, you need some adjustments made to the food that will be served that evening.  The type of friend that you need in this instance is one where making a change to your entrée begins as a “Can’t Do” but ends as a can do/will do.

The person that you need to identify as quickly as possible is the “Won’t Do” person.  This individual knows exactly what you want done, exactly what is required and just refuses to do it.  Just imagine you were forming a basketball team at the gym or the office.  And right before you were going to pick a person they said, “hey, I’m not going to dribble, I’m not going to pass and I’m not going to shoot the basketball.”  Is there any way in hell you still go ahead and pick this person?  The truth is we do it all the time and then we suffer for it and then we ask ourselves how did this happen.

Take a moment right now to make an inventory of the relationships in your life and ask yourself how many “Won’t Do” people do I have there.  When you think about it, these individuals have no positive existence in your life and if you cannot eliminate them totally from your life you should, at the very least, limit their access to your everyday world.

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2012 in Business, Life, Relationships, Sports

 

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The Train

The story comes in many varieties but it always ends the same way…with a missed opportunity.  If you’re lucky, I mean really lucky, your chance may come around again but the odds are not in your favor.  My favorite story that I like to tell others about missed opportunities is “The Girl on the Train.”

If you are a guy reading this, you have probably been in this situation at least once in your life and missed out.  You are on the train and a beautiful girl catches your eye.  You stare at her intensely until she glances your way and then you look away and play like you were not aware of her.  Your initial hope is that she gets off at the same stop you are so that you can win some sort of dating lottery.

This “staring and then look away” game goes on stop after stop as your prayers are repeatedly answered as she doesn’t rise from her seat to get off the train before you.  The knot in your throat tightens as your own stop is drawing closer and closer.  You wonder if she is really going to get off at your stop because, of course, that is when you plan to make your move.

Suddenly, your stop is next and she is making no preparations to get off of the train.  Now your mind starts to race with questions.  The biggest one is why you didn’t make your move several stops ago.  Now there is no time for a rushed introduction because the train will soon stop and your  momentum, should you gain any, will be lost as you exit.  And remember, you are still not even sure that there is any interest from her side.  Oh, what to do?

You decide to not take the chance and just rise to exit the train for your stop.  After you pass through the double doors and find yourself on the platform, you can’t help but take one more look.  You look at her, she looks at you for what seems like hours, and then she knowingly smiles to let you know that had you shown the courage you would have been rewarded.  Of course that smile comes as the doors close and the train is pulling away with you powerless to stop it.

This is where the accounts can and usually differ.  When that happened to me many moons ago, my next move was to look at my watch and note the time.  If I could be on that very same train at the very same time tomorrow I would be able to have my chance encounter, right?  Wrong. The truth is I will probably never see her again and another agonizing truth is that I don’t deserve to.  She’s thinking, “he had his shot and he didn’t take it.  Too bad…maybe the next one will have the cojones needed to ask me my name and number.”

Two summers ago, LeBron James was on the same train and he did the courageous thing.  He asked her for her name and number.  She said her name was Miami and gave him a number that started with area code 305.  For seven years LeBron had been taking the same train in Cleveland and ending his season without the championship he coveted.  The only way to break that cycle in his mind, and in my opinion, was to start taking a new train that had a different destination with different passengers.

LeBron James has already made it to the top of the mountain in one sense.  He has become like the teams and the players that everyone tunes in to see whenever they are on television.  The Dallas Cowboys, the New York Yankees, and the Los Angeles Lakers are 3 of the teams that everyone tunes in to see.  Most want to see them win but many want to see them lose.  Either way the games are almost always highly anticipated and highly rated to boot.

Tiger Woods was, is and will probably always be the golfer that everyone tunes in to see win or lose.  First because of his greatness but more recently because of his human failings.  Kobe Bryant sort of fits that same mold as Tiger but he managed to get new sponsors, get more rings and gain even more popularity since his legal troubles of a decade ago.

LeBron James is disliked for exercising the freedoms that we would all like to have.  He honored his contract and then he took another train.  We, not me necessarily, just didn’t like the “way” in which he chose to make and then announce his decision to the world.  He’s gone on record as admitting he would change  some parts of the process if he had it to do over again but I liked his decision to join his friends and go for it all in Miami.

The major hangup was, and will probably always be, the arrogance surrounding the “Decision” and then the “Promise.”  At the end of the day, people always want you to do things the way they would have done them if given the chance.  Those people just need to get over it.  LeBron James did not leave the Cavs with nothing like it is always reported.  He allowed the Cavs to sign him and then trade him to Miami for future draft picks.  He did not have to do that.  He could have been a jerk like his former team owner was very upset over the news he was losing his superstar.

It is not always easy to know when you are on that fateful train in life but ask yourself if you will have the courage to ask her “for her name and number” or will you let the train pull out of the station.  You only get one life so I say live the one with the least regret and the one that says you left everything you had out on the playing field of life.

 
 

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BE (Be Exceptional)

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” ~ Anonymous

One of my favorite quotes is stated above.  I love that quote because it lays out a truth that I believe lies in all of us.  We are all, in some form or fashion, exceptional at something.  What I find that most exceptional people do is hide from their exception in order to fit in with their surroundings.

This past week my soon-to-be 10-year-old son and I were talking about the upcoming NBA draft.  My son tells me all the time how much he wants to be drafted into the NBA right out of high school like Kobe and LeBron.  I tell him that the current rules won’t allow for that to happen.  He believes they will make an exception for him.  I will use his desire to his advantage.

My son Tre is an exceptional young man.  He has a name that he shares with only two other human beings.  He is left-handed and is learning every day that he has a definite advantage over his peers on the field of play.  He is smart as a whip and he has a great sense of humor but most of all he is a fierce competitor.  In fact, he is an exceptional competitor.

We introduced Tre to sports at a very young age.  He started his flag football career at age 4.  He was not allowed to play on the team in actual games until age 5 but he worked out with the team regularly until the season began.  Once the season started though, he couldn’t stand not being able to play in the actual competition so I ended his torture.  The following season he played cornerback in a league that doesn’t really throw the football.  They are just 5 and 6 after all.

So he was bored out of his mind in the defensive backfield most plays and really had an uneventful flag football season.  After the last game, the coach approached me and told me something shocking.  He wanted Tre to be the quarterback next season.  I knew that he would be great at the quarterback position because he would be forced be engaged in the game throughout.  The quarterback touches the ball every play so you can’t take any plays off.

Tre led his team to the Super Bowl that season.  In order to get there though he had to bring his team back from 5 points down with just a few minutes left in the fourth quarter.  With time winding down from the continuous running clock, Tre took the snap and then promptly fumbled the ball onto the turf.  Without a moment’s hesitation he scooped up the football and galloped sixty yards for the winning touchdown. To this day, everyone who watches the video clip wants to know how I managed to film his run while everyone around me was losing their minds.  I don’t know I just kept the camera locked on him until he stopped in the end zone and then strutted…my boy.

The only thing that would have made his score more dramatic is if the clock had gone to zero.  It didn’t so all Tre did was go out on defense and make another game saving stop to preserve the win.  He was so cool at six and the game announcer fell in love with his name that evening.  The feeling of being his father that night was amazing.  Hearing other fans yelling your child’s name at a competitive event is indescribable.  You tingle from head to toe and tears well up in your eyes.  Other dads give you a pat on the shoulder for a job well done and you just kind of take credit in stride.

The following season Tre moved up to tackle football from the flag level.  The coach’s son was the QB so Tre was back on defense and football kind of lost its shine with him.  “No problem,” said Tre, “I will just play basketball.”  We signed him up for a league at the Y in our neighborhood and it wasn’t long before our son was dominating his teammates as well as his opponents.  The problem with the Y was the structure was loose, the baskets were lowered and stealing the basketball was not allowed.

After watching Tre run all over the court doing everything but dunk the ball, we were starting to get looks from the other parents instead of praise.  Then one game Tre made up his mind he was going to score 20 points and he was well on his way when the coach yanked him from the game in the 3rd quarter.  The coach was starting to feel the heat from the other parents. Tre pouted on the bench for the remainder and then did not shake hands with his opponents, as is customary, at the final buzzer.  That day his AAU basketball career was born.

AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) basketball was where Tre would hone his skills.  The competition is top flight and almost every weekend there is a tournament somewhere that involves a shiny trophy.  Tre was challenged at every turn in AAU because as a 2nd grader he was playing against 3rd, 4th and sometimes 5th graders in these tournaments.  The coaches often schedule against older kids so they can toughen their own teams up.  It works.  If you get beat by 4th and 5th graders on a regular basis then when you play kids your own age you have a definite confidence edge.

Tre had a good first season with his team until his coach defected to another AAU club due to politics.  Tre’s team was disbanded and he landed on a 4th grade team.  He worked hard in practice and during his very limited game time minutes until one day, in a tournament championship, the coach decided to start Tre.  They won the trophy that day and my son had his first taste of AAU victory.  He was hooked.

Tre put us on notice soon after that baseball was out (to the dismay of the little league coaches that wanted to draft him 1st) and football was on life support.  He moved up to a new grade level and with that a new coach.  It is always a good sign when the “team mom” is the spouse of the coach.  That demonstrates stability and the likelihood of a season without a lot of parental drama.  Of course the coach’s son is on the team as well whether he’s the best or the worst.  I love that dynamic.

Tre had an even better season with The Warriors that culminated in a national tournament at a huge sports complex in a North Dallas suburb.  His little brother and I drove the four plus hours to the event and it was huge and intimidating.  Tre saw first hand the big business that was competitive basketball.  The clocks, the refs, the structure was all at the highest level we had ever seen and it was exciting.

The team easily won their first few games on the first day and everything was fine as the Warriors were rolling to getting a high seed in the single elimination phase of the tournament.  Then the team ran up against a tough group from out-of-state and Tre found himself waiting at the scorer’s table to be subbed into the game.  The coach was down on the scoreboard and decided to stay with his starters.  For the first time in his young career, Tre didn’t play one minute of the game.

The Warriors lost their first non-elimination game and my boy had tears coming down his little cheeks.  “Coach said he was going to put me in but he didn’t,” he said.  I told him that the coach was more concerned with winning the game than giving him playing time.  I told Tre that he had to stay engaged in the game and especially when he was on the bench.  If he looks your way and sees you are not paying attention he may just leave you on the bench.  Tre swore that day he would never be left at the scorer’s table again.

His next few games he played like a man on fire and then I heard some of the parents calling for Tre to get back in the game to get more steals and more blocks.  See Tre is a tall kid who is an inconsistent shooter but his defense is the best.  He is the guy you can put on the best player and Tre will shut him down.  I told him the basket can be fickle sometimes but your defense always has to be present.  You notice when he leaves the game  and I told him that’s the mark of an exceptional player.

It was now Saturday night and the Warriors found themselves one win away from the Final 4.  The tournament took the Final 4 honor so seriously that you could only buy a  Final 4 t-shirt if your team made it…wow.  The Warriors were up against this team from Arkansas that was loaded with talent.  They had blown away everyone they played by at least 20 points and they had that look in their eye that the Warriors were next.

Unfortunately for us, our starting point guard and our starting shooting guard got stage fright.  The point guard was scared to dribble after getting stripped a couple of times and the shooting guard was scared to shoot after getting blocked a couple of times.  At the half we were only down by two points and the boys from Arkansas found themselves unable to blow us out.  The two guards never fully recovered and we lost the game by just 4 points.  Tre played well and didn’t express too much disappointment towards his frightened teammates.

He loved the experience and left the north Dallas suburb of Frisco knowing he could compete at the highest level.  He thanked me for taking him on the best trip of his life, we hugged and I kissed him on his forehead.  Of course I caught that one tear that ran out of my eye.  We celebrated our accomplishments that night and made the long drive back home to Houston the next morning.

Tre Medearis (left) and his teammates celebrating another AAU tournament victory…one of many.

I remember growing up in school and having to cover my test scores and other grades so that I wouldn’t feel like some kind of freak.  I was weird and a nerd until 5th grade.  That’s when I was identified as being gifted and was entered into the best magnet school in our public school system.  My life was different because I was now surrounded with kids that were just like me…exceptionally smart.

But now I had to function in two worlds.  I had to get up before the sun, catch a bus and two trains to arrive at school on time.  Then when I would come home in the afternoon the sun would be on its way down.  I would go out and play with my friends and hear the ridicule from at least one person on a pretty regular basis.  Luckily for me I was one of the better athletes on the block so even though I was a nerd I was one of the first guys picked.

No one could hit a baseball farther than I could and nobody had better hands when it came to catching the football.  Wasn’t the best shooter on the court but I could block shots and rebound better that anybody.  My exception was not my ability to play sports but the grey matter lodged between my two ears.  I knew that because I was born with asthma and my single parent mother was not interested in seeing her only child laying on a football field gasping for air and losing his life.

It took me a long time to figure out that I was an exceptional person.  I knew I was different and because of that I tried to fit in with my peer groups.  Being exceptional is better than being different.  It is a recognition of your God-given talents and maximizing them to their highest level.

I have tried so hard to bring others over to my different world not realizing that they were often times missing that much-needed ingredient of “being exceptional.”  Why build a team with average players that you have to coach up when you can coach a team with great players and actually just enjoy coaching?

Ever wonder why only one out of every 100 people finds a way to earn $100,000/year or more?  Is it because they are better?  No, it is because they are exceptional.  They make it because they believe that they can.  Ask yourself what have you ever accomplished without belief in your ability.  I believe that everyone has at least one exceptional ability and if they embraced it instead of running from it they could have the life that they really want to live instead of the life that they are “stuck with.”

Later this month, the NBA will add 60 players to their ranks.  These 60 players will come from all over the world, not just these United States.  The odds of making it to the highest level of exceptional basketball play are difficult to calculate but it is obvious that the 60 that get picked this month will believe in their exceptional abilities.

As long as my son Tre continues to embrace his exceptional talents and realizes that his dream to play at the NBA level is within his belief system, I am confident that I will one day hear his name called as a member of that very elite group of 60 exceptional athletes.  I won’t bet against him…that’s for sure.

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2012 in Business, Life, Relationships, Sports

 

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Power Management

You can do amazing things with it but you probably won’t. If you are like most you will use it to benefit yourself and your agenda and not much more. And sooner or later, when you need it the most, it will not be there to save you. The “it” I speak of is power and I attribute it to the number one reason that promising men and women fall from grace on a regular basis these days.

Literally, everyday you can read about someone who once commanded great power and resources that is now on the brink of ruin. Be it their reputation or their fortune or perhaps both. Their lives will never be the same. The main and often redundant question is always “What were they thinking?” What they were thinking was that the power that they wielded so masterfully for all those years was going once again save the day.

Wouldn’t it be something if colleges and universities offered a course or maybe even a minor in Power Management 101? No one really teaches us as we grow up about money, parenting or power. And why would you bother with power since so few people will ever really achieve any of note in their lifetime?

I for one would like to one day teach a course or two in Power Management at a prestigious college or university. That is after I get a masters degree in the subject myself.

I want to explore just a couple of instances where power, and sometimes the anticipation of power, made a few people do very questionable things. Top of mind right now is the John Edwards case in the courtroom this month. The players and their roles in this circle of power are fascinating to say the least. I will get to that soap opera momentarily but first let me tackle one story that involves my favorite sport…football.

This story is about former University of Arkansas head football coach Bobby Petrino. Here’s a guy that was one of the hottest coaches in all of college football and with one selfish decision he lost everything that he had worked so hard to attain.

On April 1st of all days, the coach decided to take his girlfriend out for a spin on his motorcycle. There’s nothing wrong with that I guess except if you are married with children and are the highest paid public employee in the entire state. As luck would have it, the coach and his pretty young thing crashed that day while taking a curve on a state highway. Now the coach was in quite a fix. He knew that this accident had to be reported and that he had to be treated for his injuries.

It is often said that the cover up is always worse than the crime and I would agree. When you are caught living a lie, your natural instinct is to lie to cover your tracks. When you are in a position of power you find that it is easier to get out of these types of jams because people who benefit from your power want to believe and help you. What happens sometimes is that those who don’t benefit from your power get involved in investigating your lies and then it all begins to unravel.

We have all seen people in power positions get out of a jam and we have seen them go down in flames. What determines who makes it through and who doesn’t is power management. Those who make it through quickly identify who holds their fate in their hands and they come clean with that person or persons. If the relationship with that key person is good or even great then a cover up can be successfully completed. If not then your goose is cooked.

Well, in the head coach’s case, that key person was his athletic director. By now you know the coach chose not to come clean with his AD.  And after the details were shared through all major media outlets the coach’s fate rested squarely in his AD’s hands. The AD took a few days to gather all of the embarrassing details and then he had to make a decision. Given the ugliness of what the AD uncovered, the decision was made less complicated.

He fired the coach. He decided to make the University of Arkansas bigger, and more powerful, than the head football coach. It wasn’t easy because the school could be on the brink of a national title. Their two toughest games are in their building next year so firing your head coach could be costly in your pursuit of a national championship. I believe he fired the coach because he knew the coach would one day cost him his own job.

He found out the head coach didn’t care about his own job. If he did why would he risk losing a contract worth $3.5 million a year and all of the adulation that comes with running a Top 5 college football program? Also lost was an $18 million buyout of his contract because he was fired for cause. Oh, and the girlfriend worked at the university as well. Had a sweet gig too. She got it because the coach handed it to her, over more than 150 other candidates it was revealed during the AD’s investigation.

The girlfriend was engaged to another university employee and scheduled to marry in June of this year. How would you like to be that guy? So let’s tally up the damage shall we? Head coach is out of a job and millions of dollars and his reputation is shot. His girlfriend is forced to resign and given severance in exchange for her silence. Fiancée of girlfriend is out of a job as well and all because one man decided his needs were more important than the university, the fans, his wife, his kids etc. Oh, and did I mention his brother was a coach on the football staff? Stay tuned for his fate.

Next up is the story of John Edwards. Right now John is in court looking down the barrel of 30 years imprisonment for violating campaign financing laws. John was so disillusioned by his power that he made the decision to have an affair, hire his mistress as his videographer and then father a child with the mistress. He did all this while he was making a run for President of the United States and caring for his wife who was battling cancer.  Again, what was he thinking?

I believe he was thinking that he could get away with it because everyone that saw the affair evolve also benefited from his power. Why would they turn him in when they needed him to get the nation’s top job? When the walls started to close in he didn’t panic, he just got his top aide to take responsibility for his love child. The aide goes along with the charade because he wants to go to the white house. The aide’s wife goes along with it because she wants to go to the white house. John’s dying wife goes along with the affair and then the love child because she wants to be the FLOTUS.

See how power has corrupted all those around the two original conspirators? It gets worse. John now has powerful friends funding the charade to the tune of nearly $1 million. There are two big “donors” that we know of and one is now deceased. The other is a bank heiress who is 101 years old. Those funds allowed the aide and his wife to hide the pregnant mistress as they traveled around the US evading reporters and their opposition who are now starting to piece the story together.

Next week John’s defense team will attempt to convince a jury that he knew nothing about the raising of the funds which paid to hide his mistress’ whereabouts. He is facing 30 years in prison but John already knows he won’t be found guilty. He’s is a lawyer and he knows how this lawyer game is played. The team with the best lawyers wins, regardless of the crime or the stakes.

His team, who is also being assisted by his oldest daughter, will not call the mistress and they will not call John to testify. They will question the heck out of all of the co-conspirators and make them look like hapless liars and when the smoke clears he will walk away with a much damaged career and reputation but no jail time.

Just think that if John Edwards could have exercised better power management he could have possibly become our President. In the end he had too many people involved in his deception. Once too many people know or suspect wrongdoing the conspiracy becomes difficult if not impossible to control. That is what power is all about. Once you get the power you become consumed with the fear of losing what? Your power. I know how much I miss…

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2012 in Business, Life, Politics, Sports

 

Tim & I, Part II

By season’s end, Tim had accomplished what very few QB’s in the history of the NFL had ever done. He led a team that began the season 1-4 to the post season. That only gave him a shot to go up against the best defense in the 2012 playoffs, the Pittsburgh Steelers. This team would surely reveal Tim as the fraud that all of his haters knew he was from the day he was drafted right? Of course not. Tim led the Broncos to an incredible overtime win that was probably the most exciting game of the 2012 playoffs.

What was his reward for the greatest non Super Bowl winning season in the history of the franchise?  A promise was made from the GM for Tim to be the starter on opening day next season for the Broncos. By now we all know that the promise was not kept and Tim was traded to the Jets in order to make room for another future HOF quarterback named Peyton. Peyton is recovering from 4 neck surgeries so the jury is out on whether he will be able to compete and complete games for the Broncos next season. Tim’s fans think, I mean they know, he got a raw deal from the Broncos. But Tim, being the faithful good guy that he is, took the trade in stride and is now happy to be in NYC as a New York Jets’ backup QB.

Funny how the same experts who hated Tim Tebow as the starter in Denver expect him to become the starter in New York. They have gone on record as saying he will kill the Jets’ locker room and stab the current starter, Mark Sanchez, in the back and take his job. Nonsense. Tim Tebow will improve his game and be ready for when his name is called to go in the game and get a W for his team. All he has ever wanted to do from what I’ve seen is help his team win.

Okay, so why did I take you down this “current event” memory lane? Because the parallels between sports and life are sometimes just remarkable. I have seen scenarios like Tim’s play out on TV as well as in real life and usually without a happy ending. Who can forget the Seinfeld episode where Elaine decides to get rid of an unwanted employee by promoting him to an executive position with the firm? The results were predictable in that she pissed off current employees that were more deserving and she got stuck with an incapable employee in a critical position. Her plan was to promote the employee into a job he couldn’t do and hope that he would resign in his frustration. If he didn’t quit soon enough she could fire him for poor performance. Best laid plans seldom work out that way when your intent is a foul smelling outcome. Isn’t that what the Broncos were banking on?

That reminds me of a story about an executive that worked at financial services firm years ago. Of course he started out as just an associate right out of college and the management team didn’t believe he would be successful long term. After all, he was a minority from a working class section of the city and didn’t know many people with money. The firm he worked for on the other hand was quite successful luring affluent clients from all over the metropolitan area for two and a half decades. He was fortunate to at least have a manager who believed in him while the manager’s peers assured the manager that his newest recruit would be out in less than six months.

As time passed this associate began to build a sizable practice and was eventually asked to join the ranks of the management team. He was honored that the same team that had bet against him was now inviting him to join the club. And why not, he was told when he was being recruited that if he worked real hard he could earn six figures in five years time. Well, this particular associate decided to get to that milestone in four years instead which attracted the attention of the executive suite.

Most new management trainees are mentored by the manager who hired them. As luck would have it, this associate’s manager left the company for a competing firm after being passed over for a promotion for the final time. Most expected the new manager trainee to fade from the managerial track but he kept pressing even though he had the built in reason to quit. After all, his biggest fan and mentor was now working for a competing firm. He decided that he was going to fill the shoes of his departed manager so he doubled his efforts.

A short time later history was made when he became the first African American associate to reach the lofty rank of Executive Vice President. This history thing was becoming familiar territory as just one year prior he was the first of his kind to shatter the six figure ceiling at his office. Things were definitely looking grand for this young executive’s future with this international firm.

After only two and a half years into his managerial career, the executive was offered the opportunity to lead an entire office in a major metropolitan city. The normal tenure was five to seven years before an office in a major city was even a consideration for someone with his track record. Again, the young executive was honored to be offered such a prestigious position so soon into his managerial career. He had done well with growing his group but his results were by no means off the charts.

What he did know was that he was the top African American manager at his level in the company. With that ranking he was strongly advised that he needed to step up to that next level as the managers below him were all watching. His decline of the promotion could mean fewer opportunities for those like him around the country and that was made clear to him during his meeting at headquarters. An offer was made but not accepted for several days. The executive was now on the move but he had no clue as to what he had gotten himself into.

Less than a year into his new position, the executive made a startling discovery. The firm that he loved working for since he had graduated college had been sued for racial discrimination. Worst yet it was for discriminating against African Americans. His dream job had now become a nightmare in very short order. What would he do? He just moved his family into their new home and everyone was getting used to their new relocated lives. Who would he tell?

The executive soon got over the blow of the lawsuit and adjusted to the new procedures for bringing on African American associates according to the judge’s Consent Decree (a ruling that would hang over the company for nearly a decade).

As time went on the executive would relocate yet again for an even bigger and better opportunity with an office in the firm’s western division. Today the executive is no longer with the firm. He would later learn that his promotion was part of a plot to aide in the company’s discrimination lawsuit. No one expected him to excel in the role. They just wanted to show the judge that they offered an African American a great role in the company. He would fail as expected and the firm would look like the good guys. It just wasn’t their fault that minorities couldn’t cut it at the executive level of their firm. Sound familiar?

This executive’s firm would not be the first to employ a strategy that gives a promotion to someone that they believe isn’t ready for the role. In short order the hope is that the employee will resign or get poor performance evaluations and get fired. Every now and again the employee steps up and performs at a Tebowesque level but that sadly is the exception and not the rule. That makes this strategy a good one when an employer wants to remove an employee of a particular minority class.

Many current and former black QB’s were upset that Tim Tebow was given the opportunity to start for Denver so young in his career but what they missed was that Tim was not set up for success but instead set up to fail. Fortunately for Tim he saw the chess game unfolding in front of his eyes and made the most of his circumstance. How many people could see that they were being set up to fall and perform at a winning level? Tim was able to do it and so was that financial services executive but believe me they are the exception and not the rule.

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2012 in Business, Life, Sports