Monday, February 22, 2010

This week's Pep Talk: "Tone at the Top"

Whenever giving a Pep Talk, the subject of being joyful for the blessings of life always is discussed. The stories, depending upon audience, may be different but each encourages others to be joyful for blessings: health, employment, relationships, children or friends – whatever. Most of us have something to be joyful about, right?

Each week I get to encourage you, and others, to effectively deal with change, challenge and adversity in ways inspiring you – and me - to play like a champion in the game of life – I am blessed. I have two wonderful kids chasing, in healthy and productive ways, honorable goals; I also have, after two painful divorces and fear I’d never find a compatible mate, an absolutely darling girlfriend who has captured my heart.

Kathleen Anne Gans: Business leader, mentor to many – including my children – and a gift to me. Because she’s so successful in business, each year as a senior vice president, she’s a leader at her company’s “Superstar” weekend where rank-and-file employees are honored for their success the prior year. I get to tag along.

A few years ago, I’ll never forget opening night. In the Virgin Islands, the company’s personable president addressed the gathered throng of successful employees, significant others and other team leaders. In concluding comments, the quick-witted, fun-loving and smart man challenged the team to remember, “Tone at the Top.” He was talking about, what I believe is a real truth – home, work or community - leadership starts with example.

We talk endlessly about how to do something effectively. But do we exhibit the proper behavior? Trust me folks, it’s far more effective, and efficient, to show others the path to prosperity. In other words, what we have heard forever: “actions speak louder than words” is true and should be embraced.

I know it’s not easy. I know it’s tough work. Let’s remember another long-held belief that has stood the test of time: truly worthwhile accomplishments require three things: hard work, sacrifice and dedication.

Imagine the legacy we’d leave to our children and others, if they looked back on our lives and said moments defining our dash were characterized by hard work, sacrifice and dedication? That’d be cool wouldn’t it?

Imagine this: If, in watching our example, they decided to live their lives in similar fashion? Your “tone at the top” inspired them to live their lives in ways that honor, nurture and add value to the communities they serve?

Hanging in my darling girlfriend’s corporate world reminded me of this great truth. I hope hanging in my world has done the same for you.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

This week's Pep Talk Blog: "Take Time to Dine"

It was late afternoon of Christmas Eve 2009, gifts were wrapped, kids were shopping, the house was quiet and I had time to read the newspaper. There were many stories about the Senate’s efforts to pass its version of a national health care reform bill.

One story was an analysis of how polarizing the American political process has become. Many senators expressed dismay bitter and partisan politics have replaced civil and common sense lawmaking within the hallowed halls of our democracy.

Whenever I get the chance to present a Pep Talk, we talk a lot about the importance of teamwork. I can remember from my high school days a sign that was in my direct sight each and every day I dressed for practice: “It’s amazing what can be accomplished when nobody cares who gets the credit.” It’s a truth whether we’re talking about success in sports, relationships, business or passing much-needed health care legislation – whatever. We are at our best when there’s a prevailing spirit of working together – one heart beat - for the common good.

In conclusion, the author, in describing the political – and often personal – divisions now characterizing the Senate, mentioned the Senator’s private dining room. It used to be packed daily with lawmakers breaking bread with one another. No staff or spouses allowed. It was a sanctuary where senators, in an informal way, got to know one another. They connected. The casual atmosphere and sharing of food seemed to help lawmakers work through different viewpoints about important issues they must address – we hope - in ways that honor, nurture and add value to our country.

Sadly, the Senate dining hall sits virtually empty these days. Apparently, few see the value of connecting. Few see the value of: “it’s amazing what can be accomplished when nobody cares who gets the credit.”

Let this be a lesson for each of us. Are there issues at home, work or community that need to be addressed? It starts with sitting down and communicating with one another. The Senate has a dining hall – at its beckon call – that’s crying out “Use me to help settle your differences!”

For whatever reason, at this time, our elected officials have decided it’s of little value. Let’s not fall into a similar trap, okay? If you have challenges at home, work or community look around and take advantage of, - or create - opportunities to connect with others in the fray: it might be the dinner table, a company retreat or neighborhood meeting.

Take time to dine with others on a feast of new thoughts. It’s the best way to avoid going hungry for healthy and productive solutions to whatever ails us.

Monday, February 8, 2010

This week's Pep Talk Blog: "Show vs. Tell"

It was just minutes before a talented crew was expected at the door to begin the process of cleaning the house. I remembered to check my teenage daughter’s room. Her version of “things off the floor” and my interpretation of that ground rule, are sometimes not in the same universe. So, I’m throwing all her junk, that’s on the floor, on her bed so the Healthy Clean team can vacuum away.

As I’m tossing clothes, books and papers onto her bed, a drawing about her club volleyball team, catches me eye. She has drawn, or traced perhaps, the team logo and beneath it, this statement: “Show vs. Tell.”

My heart skips a beat or two. Ain’t that the truth. Our actions do speak louder than our words. To show someone – good or bad – behaviors, attitudes and beliefs will have a far more profound impact on their reaction to you than your words: Show versus tell.

Now, in the case of the Juggernaut volleyball team, the mention of “Show vs. Tell” has to do with how this group of young women, their coaches and parents conduct themselves on, and off, the volleyball court. Excellence in sportsmanship, goal achievement and desire to improve, is the standard and expected result. As I like to say, they have a history of running to daylight and playing like a champion in the game of volleyball and developing successful young women.

Whenever I have the privilege of standing before a crowd and encouraging the gathered with a Pep Talk, we talk each and every time about the importance being a good sport in life. I suggest we might be able to do that by keeping a healthy attitude toward change, working well with others and having the courage – despite the “junk” life throws our way – to keep putting fear and self doubt aside and allow wonderment to win.

I know it’s not easy. There will be parts of you screaming “no” to the mere fantasy in your brain that you could do “that?” But one thing I want to encourage you to NEVER grow weary of doing: have your actions speak far louder than you words.

Show vs. Tell. It’s the truth whether talking of a volleyball team, family, company, neighborhood or – whatever. That’s why it’s critically important that what you are demonstrating honors you, nurtures those dependent upon you and adds value to the communities you serve; if your “show” is that, good for you and us.

I never knew throwing my daughter’s junk on her bed would reap such a harvest. It provided a great reminder of life: What we do, says far more, than what we say.

Monday, February 1, 2010

This week's Pep Talk Blog: "Same for You"

First, I just want to say thanks to each of you. Your constant encouragement – give hope and confidence to – inspires me, usually on Saturday afternoons, to express some thoughts about the wonderment we call life. They end up becoming Pep Talks.

Many topics to cover but one, in particular, deserves continued publicity. It’s the absolutely incredible 3,000-mile journey across America with my kids. This is the third straight weekly Pep Talk from the trip. We enjoyed many great stops along the way visiting loved ones, seeing our country and just hanging together: a middle-aged dude in a transitory time of life having quality time with two beautiful souls he played a very willing role in creating. We had a blast in the now-infamous “Tenacious Tahoe” cruising, sliding and skidding through 13 states, four time zones and only one unexpected stop. The trip, suggested by my darling and smart girlfriend, was to transfer son Kyle from studies in New York to a career, and continued studies, in Los Angeles. Kyle Martirez McIntosh, now two decades young, is chasing dreams big time. Good for him.

Whenever experiencing the joy of standing before a group and giving a Pep Talk about adopting a “come as you are, just don’t leave as you were” attitude we always discuss the importance of “putting fear and self-doubt aside and allowing wonderment to win.” It’s one of five fulfilling fundamentals I believe are cornerstones to success in life.

My son is a great example, for me, to the truth of that statement. I hope, he never loses that talent. Even at the tender age of 20, he’s had some setbacks in life. One of them certainly his parents inability, when he was just four, to keep a marriage together. Somehow he perseveres and thrives. Lately, after 18 months in New York City as a film student at NYU, he’s heading to Beverly Hills to work for an entertainment business titan and continue his studies at night.

He sets healthy and productive goals and then goes and makes it happen. We know that’s not easy. We know from our own challenges, there are rough spots along the way that have us wondering, “What the heck is going on here?” We get discouraged, listen to others even more discouraging and are tempted to throw in the towel, to quit. Don’t. Instead, adjust the game plan, put fear and self-doubt aside and allow wonderment to win. It works in all areas of life. The venue may change but the strategy’s the same.

Kyle does that – put fear aside and allow wonderment to win - very well. He also is a good big brother to his just-turned teenage sister, Rachel. Another thing he does well is co-pilot across America. The old man drove and Kyle, sitting in the passenger seat, entertained utilizing high-tech gadgetry. He was a deejay channeling music from laptop computer into the vehicle’s sound system and documentary filmmaker recording history via the laptop’s recording talents. The videos highlight the trip and involve the three of us. Dad the driver, son the first officer and daughter - crammed in the back among all Kyle’s stuff – the trooper who never complained.

Kyle is a good young man who’s fun to be around. He’s got guts too. I hope, when future storms howl, churning the seas and threatening his voyage called life, he will tap into this fulfilling fundamental he currently possesses. I pray he will put fear and self doubt aside and allow wonderment to win in ways that honor him, nurture those dependent upon him add value to the communities he serves.

I wish the same for you. Have a great week.
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