Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pep Talk: "When Duty Calls"

There are moments in life, at least for me, that drill deep into the marrow. Moments where truth, about key aspects of the journey, comes crashing into cranium and embeds itself. Powerful reminders about what’s REALLY important. I had one recently: Let’s never grow weary of doing good things for each other.

The reminder manifested itself in this old jock’s noggin’ during a ride to Denver International Airport, courtesy of a dear friend. As we cruised toward our destination, a powerful, and ultimate, example of never growing weary of good deeds was expressed as the woman - she’s like a sister - talked about her brother. Recently, the 56-year-old father of two, died, unexpectedly, while helping others. Tragic. 

On a snowy and icy stretch of Interstate 90 in Spokane, Washington, Scott Moore was driving when a car ahead spun off the highway and tumbled down an embankment. The Good Samaritan stopped, scurried down the embankment and discovered a family in the vehicle - rattled, but not seriously injured.

A short while later, the grandpa to three was helping the family trudge back up the hill toward the highway, and his warm car, parked along its shoulder. Then the horrific happened. Another car traveling the slick span lost control, slid off the highway and right into a man, who loved to fish, especially for opportunities to serve and help others. He died instantly. 

However, before this man’s life was terminated, far too early, he did something remarkable: shoved from harm’s way, a nine-year-old girl he was escorting to safety. Watching video of Spokane’s KREM-TV, Channel 2, report on the accident brings tears to the eyes to hear the young girl, spared probable death, leave a grateful voice mail at Moore’s son’s home, calling the heroic Moore, “an angel.”

“He died doing what he loved,” this precious friend offered as we cruised toward the airport to pick up her hubby and drop me off for a flight to Chicago. Amen to that. The parents of the child Moore saved went to social media praising and exalting their child’s “angel.” That angel grew up in suburban Denver before heading west and settling in Priest River, Idaho. He was also a son, brother, husband, hard-working railroad general manager and buddy to many. Scott Allan Moore brought great value to others’ lives. Ultimately, sacrificing his to ensure another. Honorable.

How can we bring value to others? Simple question with a plethora of possible answers.  For the crew at Victory Productions, a few things come to mind:  our reticular activating systems must be on alert for value-delivering opportunities and we must have the courage to act once we feel, as Emerson would say, “the vibration of the iron string within.”

I had one earlier in the week, before this drive and conversation but after learning of Moore’s heroism. I was parked in a Denver area coffee shop between meetings and catching up on emails. Minding my own business when duty called to never grow weary of doing good for others.

“I’m in Denver, I have no money, half a tank of gas and the weather is terrible,” a man seated close by emotionally told someone via a cell phone.” Denver was in the midst of its first winter storm of the 2012-13 season and conditions were bad, especially for a guy - learned this also from overhearing the conversation - from south Florida.

He was distraught and trying to drive to Salt Lake City. His 12-year-old son and former wife, who lived in Utah’s capitol city where involved in a terrible vehicle accident. Former wife was killed, son critically injured and now in a medically-induced coma. He was driving a car with front-wheel drive and bald tires. Passable for tropical Florida but disastrous in wintry Colorado.

I introduced myself. I learned the grieving father was a huge sports fan. It brought a smile to his face when informed what keeps me busy each weekday afternoon on The Odd Couple on Mile High Sports Radio. “You host a sports talk show? Wow, that’s always been my dream job!” We dove into strategies concerning getting him to Salt Lake City as quickly as possible.

A wonderful friend at KCNC-TV, CBS4, still have a key to the building after all these years, in Denver gave us updated weather information. It was determined the best route was through the mountains via Interstate 70 because going north to Wyoming and then west, while an easier drive in terms of terrain, would be taking him into the teeth of the storm. Once it was determined to go through the Eisenhower Tunnel that bores through Colorado’s Continental Divide we knew the grieving man needed tire chains. An auto parts store right across the street carried them. Grateful. What next? Gas. Needed to fill up. Service station was another block away. Mission completed.

Ya know it’s been said “God works in mysterious ways” right? What are the odds of being in that coffee shop at just that moment, hearing this man’s needs and then having resources at hand to help?

A man gave his life when duty called. I know Scott Moore’s spirit inspired me to help a desperate soul. This week let’s focus, when duty calls, on never growing weary of doing good things for others wherever we roam. It’s a great way to be remembered. Today, tomorrow, next year, forever.

Happy New Year and have a good week!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Pep Talk: "Act Like A Clown"

Ever been chastised for acting like a clown? I sure have. But if ever accused of acting like Blinky, consider it an honor.

First, some background. Co-hosting three hours of sports talk radio each weekday afternoon from 3-6pm on Mile High Sports Radio is a blast. I am blessed to possess such a job and enjoy the banter about topics with my co-host, Eric Goodman. Officially, we’re known as Afternoon Drive with Mac and Goodman. Heard at AM1510 and FM93.7, I prefer, The Odd Couple: Afternoon Drive.... and enjoy slipping it into the conversation when possible. Eric and I are like Felix and Oscar. I’m Oscar.

Another interesting aspect of life on Lincoln, Mile High Sports’ location in the Beauvallon building, is on-air talents sell their respective shows. Yep. A unique business model. Goodman, yours truly, and other yakkers must find sponsors to help pay for the air time. No salaries. All the men and women hosting shows need satisfied clients. Happy sponsors. 

Victory Productions loves working with Mile High Sports crew, led by James Merilatt and Doug Ottewill, because, collectively, we can offer a multiple marketing strategy to businesses. Through radio, magazine, online, social media, television and community we market businesses. Victory specializes in helping small business owners achieve dreams and overcome challenges. That’s Victory’s mission and job. We’re not perfect but do try.

One of Victory’s clients is Steve’s Snappin Dogs, owned by Linda and Steve Ballas. Wonderful couple. At Colfax and Monroe, just west of National Jewish Hospital, Steve’s is a yummy spot for lunch, quick-and easy dinners and celebrations, like birthday parties, kiddos and adults. I’m gonna have my next birthday party there. The theme is “I can Thrive at 55!” You’re welcome to attend, details to come. I highly recommend the Atlanta Slaw Dog and a Steve’s Snappin’ Ale. I’ve tasted many. Try one sometime and tell the crew Chatty Patty sent ya! For more information on Chatty Patty read the Pep Talk from two weeks ago. 

This one is about Linda’s father, Russell Scott. Many of you will recognize this cool dude as “Blinky the Clown.” For 40 years he entertained children of all ages through a popular television show on Denver’s KWGN, Channel 2. Before pulling his signature red nose off for the final time, Scott, who passed just four months ago 91, became the most tenured host of any television children’s show in American history, second in the world. Sorry for the sports analogy, but a first-ballot Hall of Famer when it comes to providing quality programming for kids.

Victory is working with the Ballas’ in an effort to have Blinky placed in the History Colorado Museum. What this clown represented is deserved of public remembrance. We would be, my opinion, in pretty darn good shape as communities if we practiced what Blinky preached. 

I would encourage you to YouTube “Blinky the Clown” and watch videos captured during Blinky’s Fun Club’s four-decade run deep into the hearts of Centennial State kids and families. Everyone should sing “Happy Birthday” to kids like Blinky. Watch these videos. They’re hilarious and inspirational.

At the end of each show, Blinky would always encourage kids watching to do three things that day: “When mommy comes home, hug her and tell her you love her. When daddy comes home, hug him and tell him you love him. Finally, pick up your toys!”

What a great message to send to kids. What a great message to send to each of us. Love each other, be respectful of one another and clean up your own damn mess.

Can you imagine? What the heck would this community - region, nation, world - look like  this week if each of us made the conscious decision to live that terrific trio?

Bartender, another round for everybody at the bar buying into that!

But unfortunately, that darn thing called life gets in the way of our best laid plans, right? We start out with an attitude of love, respect and responsibility but then the unwanted and unexpected detours rattle our cages. Sometimes with horrific consequences like the tragedy in Connecticut, to name just the latest.

Blinky the Clown reminded kids, and anybody else watching with them, to be loving, respectful and responsible. Whenever we have a moment to immortalize someone like that, we should do it. We hope History Colorado Museum officials agree.

Until next week, focus on being loving, respectful and responsible. No guarantees, but I think I could get John Fox, George Karl, Mike MacIntyre, Tad Boyle, and other successful coaches we have on The Odd Couple, to concur, a team committed to loving, respecting and answering to one another has a good chance, no guarantee, at success.

The venues may change. It might be building a successful business, team or family. It don’t matter. What does matter is realizing opportunity to play like champions, whatever endeavor pursued, diminishes greatly if there’s questions about the right mix of love, respect and responsibility being poured into the foundation. 

Act like a clown and feel good about it.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Pep Talk: "Don't Stop Believin'"

Rarely has the sometimes, I think most parents relate, laborious task of playing taxi driver to a teenage child been so cherished.

That was the overwhelming sensation as old jock transported precious princess and persuasive boyfriend, each sophomores in high school, toward Denver’s Pepsi Center for a much anticipated Friday night encounter between the home-town Nuggets and  Memphis Grizzlies.

Earlier in the day, on our sports talk radio show, The Odd Couple: Afternoon Drive with Mac and Goodman, partner Eric Goodman and I had talked, along with producer Josh Pennock and several callers, about the early-season challenges the Nuggets had faced: a ridiculous schedule that had Denver playing 17 of its first 23 games on the road; the inability of grown men to consistently hit free throws and terrible outside shooting making the most zealot Nuggets’ fans, daughter is one, wonder if the players needed their eyes checked. My opinion, they need to quit dribbling so much and pass more often. George Karl’s team was home. Fans ready, guardedly, to embrace.

The short drive to the arena was almost complete. The lovebirds were snuggling a tad close for a father’s approval. The rearview mirror does not lie. However, a pensive mood was lifted. One of the greatest rock songs ever began to play on the car stereo. Released in 1981, Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’, brought tears to my eyes while gazing, in the rearview mirror,  at a beautiful daughter and others’ handsome son. Who, by the way, needs a haircut.

Why? Earlier on this day, parents in Connecticut, were rocked from their worlds with the horrifying news their precious children had been killed by a deranged 20-year-old man who, after shooting and killing his mother at their home stepped into a elementary school and decided to barrage other with bullets: 20 children and six teachers/administrators dead. Horrifying.

The senseless tragedy unfolded long before The Odd Couple went on the air at three o’clock on Mile High Sports Radio, AM1510 and FM93.7. It led to frank discussions concerning show content. Sports seemed quite insignificant. Who cares if the Broncos beat the Ravens? Throughout three hours, Goodman and I made repeated references to the horrific drama, asked listeners to keep those affected in thoughts and prayers and tried to maintain some semblance to operations as usual. One caller did say, “Thanks for bringing some relief to what has been a horrible day.” No problem buddy.

The traffic lights around the Pepsi Center, and headlights of other cars meandering toward the common destination were a blur as I proclaimed to the passengers, “This song needs to be played really loud.” I cranked it. Music experts have proclaimed Don’t Stop Believin’ as “the perfect rock song” and as an “anthem” featuring one of the best opening keyboard “riffs” in rock music history. In the sports world, the song has been used often by teams, including the 2009 Los Angeles Dodgers, much to the chagrin of lead vocalist Steve Perry, a huge Giants’ fan considering the band was formed in San Francisco.

I was tearful, first and foremost, in joy my child was safe. I would suspect many parents, upon learning the terrible news, muttered, “That could have been my kids’ school.” Sympathy for the victims and families where IT WAS THEIR SCHOOL adding fuel for the tearful flow. And then a cranium crasher inspired by a song that, as of last year,  was the top-selling catalog track in ITunes history with more than five-million digital copies sold: We, as Americans, can’t stop believing we can do better.

It has become far too commonplace in our society. Venues long considered safe sanctuaries from the craziness of life - schools, theaters, post offices, shopping centers, arenas - transformed into massacre and mayhem. We can’t stop believing we have the capacity to become superior to our former selves. I’m just a simple dude from Missouri but smarter gun laws and mental health treatment policies come immediately to mind in this case. I know also, it’s multi-faceted and complex. Nothing, when it comes to laws and treatment, will completely eliminate the chances of insanity knocking on our doors, in places and times we least expect, that’s life unfortunately. But, really?

A police officer working traffic control vigorously waved an illuminated wand in guiding me to the proper drop area near the arena. It was close to game time. Daughter and testosterone-laden lad, infatuated with one another, life and its possibilities, departed into the night with thousands of others. Folks having fun on a Friday. We know from experience, no guarantees. 

I prayed for their safety. What could possible happen to them at an NBA basketball game? We know the answer to that question. Life is fragile, full of “What the heck is going on?” moments. It can get scary and depressing. We can’t shrink from it.
We can make it better. Let’s not allow another senseless tragedy to fade from memory without at least trying to learn from, this unimaginable experience. Don’t stop believing there is room for improvement.

We owe it to those we’ve tragically lost to at least try.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Pep Talk: "Even Better, Get Together"

Whenever blessed to have the opportunity to stand before a group and encourage others about the condition of life, one of the Pep Talk’s foundational aspects revolves around a basic, but damn tough truth to execute: For most of us, to get anywhere in life, eventually, we have to put fear aside and allow wonderment to win.

I know, simple, not easy.

It makes me think of my radio partner, Eric Goodman. A day usually does not expire on our sports talk show, The Odd Couple: Afternoon Drive with Mac and Goodman where he doesn’t, in a good-natured but sarcastic way, give me grief about being married and divorced, not once, but twice. For me, and I’ve been called lots of things in life, smart rarely one of them, the unions, the precious children created, the eventual disappointment of matrimony unmet, have become incredible blessings.

My kids, we’re gonna be together for the holidays! - have two devoted mothers who love them dearly. In addition, their father has emerged from the rejection rubble - unwanted divorce is tough on the self esteem - with a darling girlfriend of almost a decade. I can’t imagine life without the savvy, sexy and successful businesswoman who hails from Glenview, Illinois. She’s burrowed deep into my heart and will reside forever. The staffing industry superstar likes to joke about your correspondent, “He’s a goofball, but he’s my goofball.”

Amen to that. We make a good team. Anybody - thank you by the way - listening to The Odd Couple weekday afternoons, 3-6pm, on Mile High Sports Radio knows, it’s one of my favorite topics. Few things warm the marrow more than saluting over the airwaves a job well done when it comes to teamwork. The current Denver Broncos team is a prime example. There’s joy in watching, and experiencing, success through working together with others in the pursuit of a common goal - teamwork, it’s the key to success. 

But diving back into the relationship pool was messy, mostly because of fear. Rejection hurts, makes us wary to try again, often keeps us mired in mediocrity. I love Shakespeare’s thoughts about the subject. The English playwright and poet once muttered, “Our doubts are traitors that make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.” Amen to that too.

So here goes. I have a dream, a vision if you will, for the radio show. But, shame on me, have shared it, until now, with just a few. Darling girlfriend doesn’t approve. I’m also fearful Goodman will give me one of those “Are you crazy?” looks and, that, station management would probably follow suit. But I’m persistent and desire your opinion. 

I’d love to have, she’s in agreement, my mother, Patsy Perry, on the show once a week for 15 minutes. We’d call the segment, Chatty Patty. Along with Goodman, we’d talk sports and life with a 77-year-old woman who knows a lot about each. Mother and son talk frequently during the week while I’m driving to and fro appointments. Upon calling the smart and feisty mother of four and grandma of eight who lives near my sister in Kansas City, Kansas, she’ll bust my chops with, “Let me guess, you’re driving to a meeting?” She’s sharp and sarcastic, like Goodman. Good talk radio.

Anyway, I want to create a segment that’s fun and light-hearted, but also, a segment encouraging others to stop the incessant emails and texts and take the time to call others and connect. I envision, but I’m a hopeless dreamer, this segment would inspire participation and, eventually, we’d have callers and their parents, each Friday, joining in the fun of connecting around sports. I dunno, anybody else have a better idea?

I was sharing the vision with Steve Ballas, owner of Steve’s Snappin’ Dogs,, a wonderful slice of heaven at Colfax and Monroe on Denver’s near east side. He’s a client, friend and purveyor to fabulous food. Try the Atlanta Slaw Dog with a Steve’s Snappin Ale some Saturday afternoon, you will not be disappointed.

He loves the Chatty Patty concept and gave it a nice booster shot when suggesting, “Mac, you’re wanting folks to quit texting/emailing so much, right? You want to encourage others to slow down and take the time to call one another, right?” I nodded affirmatively while taking another swig of his tasty brew on a recent weekend day. The East Coast native then added this gem, “Even better, get together!”

Now that’s what I’m talking about. This week folks, despite the ease of firing off an email or text, take the time to reach out - particularly to those long overdue hearing from you. Let them feel the vibration of your voice. Even better, get together. Sit down eyeball to eyeball with someone, especially those where, perhaps, misunderstanding has fractured a once-solid relationship.

It will take courage. It will require us to put fear aside and allow wonderment to win. It will be worth the effort. Reach out and touch someone. Even better, get together. Need a venue? I know Steve’s Snappin’ Dogs would gladly host and, Steve’s promised, offer something free  - maybe a tasty brew - if you mention Chatty Patty.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Pep Talk: "What We Do"

Ya know, life is rarely easy, often confusing and sometimes, downright tragic.

For example: Congress’ continued contentiousness in our nation’s capitol about avoiding the “fiscal cliff.” To that I say, “Come on folks, figure it out. That’s why we elect you, to figure it out.” Life ain’t easy for members of Congress who can’t seem to agree on much these days but PLEASE, come on! We also had two powerful reminders to the fragility of the human psyche with the horrific actions of humans against others in Kansas City, Missouri and Casper, Wyoming.

Just my opinion, but it seems difficult to fathom the depths of desperation and loss of hope that must exist before a 25-year-old man, Kansas City Chief linebacker Jovan Belcher, kills his girlfriend, in front of his mother, then himself in front of the team’s head coach and general manager. It’s just a baffling to understand what happened in a Wyoming town about 250 miles north of the Mile High City, Casper. There, another 25-year-old male, Christopher Krumm, killed his father’s girlfriend, then drove a few miles to a local community college and killed his father - who taught there - before taking his own life.

Horrific acts that leave us wondering, “Why?”

My radio partner Eric Goodman and I often talk, privately, about a desire to be able to discuss topics like this on the air at Mile High Sports Radio. We don’t. No, during most of the 15 weekly afternoon hours, 3-6pm, of The Odd Couple: Afternoon Drive with Mac and Goodman we might make mention, offer comment, and wonder, about life’s craziness but our focus is sports. They’re plenty crazy too.

In the babble, about heroes, goats and victims, there is ample evidence of life lessons and reminders. These days Peyton Manning dominates much of the conversation on the airwaves, in our homes and workplaces about the surging Broncos.  For good reason considering the comeback season the 36-year-old quarterback is enjoying in leading the Denver Broncos to an apparent AFC West title and the playoffs.

But the story about the future Hall of Fame signal-caller that caught my eye has nothing to do with touchdown passes, accurate throws or football intelligence. No, the trait of Manning that bore deep into marrow centers on the New Orleans’ native’s philosophy about life. It’s equal to, or greater than, his football skills.

I’m disappointed in myself for not bringing it up sometime last week on The Odd Couple.

Thanksgiving day while reading The Denver Post, a story about Manning’s philanthropic efforts via the Peyback Foundation captured my attention. It was established in 1999, and according to the website, “promotes the success of disadvantaged youth by assisting programs providing leadership and growth opportunities for at-risk kids.”

The story focused on the foundation’s annual mission to feed folks at Thanksgiving and Manning’s low-profile approach to generosity. He stated, “The Bible says the right hand  doesn’t need to know what the left hand is doing.” 

The father of 20-month-old twins was talking about those who wanted to know why he doesn’t make a bigger deal about his - wife and family too - passion to help those less fortunate. Manning knows his life is blessed and wants to help others. Good for him.

Later in the week, another Manning story rattled the bones. There’s an eight-grade student in Denver who shares the same name, Peyton Manning. The quarterback invited the hockey player - no football for this young man right now - to a Broncos practice. “It was great,” the younger Manning said after the experience. “Having the name was always a cool thing, but now that I’ve met him it’s even cooler. My friends will be jealous.” No doubt they will.

Inquiring minds wanted to know, what words of advice did the Broncos quarterback offer the hockey captain? “He told me to always try hard and lead by example. Not necessarily with words, but by what you do.”

Damn good advice. For a young man and each of us.

Life ain’t easy. It shocks us with tragedy, bores us with mundaneness, infuriates us with incompetency. Occasionally, it can be exhilarating. It usually is unpredictable. But let’s take a cue from Peyton’s advice to Peyton. Actions speak louder than words. This week, let’s make sure those actions honor us, nurture those dependent upon us and add value to the communities we serve.

Our life. Let it be consistent with always trying hard and leading by example. Not necessarily with words, but by what we do. 

Good luck!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pep Talk: "Purpose in Pain"

While climbing aboard the gym Stairmaster for the usual Sunday morning sweat, this simple dude from Missouri had no clue to the theme of this week’s Pep Talk. However, it didn’t take long before clarity crashed into cranium.

A mere five minutes into a 50-minute workout, while watching ESPN’s Countdown to Kickoff prior to the NFL games, an update story on former Rutgers’ University football player Eric LeGrand appeared on the gym television. The standout defensive lineman suffered a paralyzing injury two years ago during a game against Army. The 22-year-old’s story of hope, despite adversity, is inspiring. The New Jersey native has a recently published book: Believe: My Faith and the Tackle that Changed My Life where he encourages others to find purpose in pain and face setbacks with an overwhelming amount of strength.

Observing physical therapists vigorously working the collegian’s arms and legs, and the determined look on the young man’s face, was visible evidence the budding sportscaster is walking his talk. 

LeGrand’s plea to others, expressed in the book, to somehow, someway, find purpose in pain kept running through my mind as the minutes ticked away and the workout neared conclusion. Is it really possible to find purpose in pain? It made me think of family and friends who are battling a variety of cancers right now. Would it be possible for them to find purpose through the surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation and other necessary treatments to survive?

Will it be possible for a friend, and his gorgeous wife, to ever find purpose in the pain of losing their talented, but emotionally troubled, son to suicide? Will it be possible for a US Army warrior to ever find purpose in the pain of losing every limb to an improvised explosive device while serving in Afghanistan?

Will it be possible for you and me, despite what ails us, to find purpose from pain? Heck yes!

But it will not be easy. Few worthwhile things in life are, correct? For whatever reason my mind wandered to many years ago, and a painful moment, at the Tampa, Florida airport. Unexpectedly and suddenly, my first marriage had imploded. It was my responsibility to hand-deliver then five-year-old son, now 23-years-old, to his mother and new love interest for a holiday visit. At that moment, it was a chore to find purpose in that pain of sorrow. Eventually it did appear.

Life’s big question: Will we become victims of its circumstances or students of its experiences? Thanks to LeGrand, we have a wonderful reminder to a comeback strategy focused on understanding we’re not alone; connecting with like-minded people and, finally, encouraging one another to put fear aside and allow wonderment to win in successfully moving forward.

That’s how we find purpose in pain. Good luck!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Pep Talk: "Traits We Control"

“Hey man, we gotta replace the garage-door system soon and have that beer,” were departing words to a wonderful neighbor family. My buddy, his beautiful bride and their two darling children are moving a few blocks away. They popped in, while I was watching college football, to let me know, after much delay, they closed on a better-suited, nearby home.

Earlier in the day I had been blessed with initial joy while spending time with another cherished buddy talking about raising children. It ain’t ever easy I suppose, but the teenage years offer interesting moments, don’t they? Anyway, this long-time friend has  more experience with raising teenagers. I’m picking his brain about strategies. I value his opinion. You have a buddy like that? Someone you can talk about life in a frank and sincere manner? I’m a lucky guy to have many wonderful friends smarter than me. I try and learn from them. Thank you.

These wonderful moments from an absolutely beautiful mid-November Saturday afternoon in the Centennial State were competing for the cranium’s attention with another, less uplifting, experience: listening, on the radio, to another Colorado Buffaloes’ blowout loss. I spent many years covering the Buffs when it was much different, they won often, and still spend considerable time with many of the coaches, players and staff from those wonderful years. I also talk about the Buffs often on the afternoon sports talk show, The Odd Couple: Afternoon Drive with Mac and Goodman, co-hosted along with Eric Goodman weekdays on Mile High Sports Radio. Full disclosure, I graduated from Mizzou twice - stop laughing - but am a Buff to the bone. The football program’s struggle under second-year coach Jon Embree is producing, potentially, the worst season in program history.

I was in the car running errands and listening to the announcers, accurately in my opinion, describe the mess. The sideline reporter was Jeb Putzier. It was the first time the former Denver Broncos’ tight end had joined the broadcast team. His sideline reports were revealing.

What bore into cranium, from Putzier’s comments, like a fist through a wall was this: If we’re in a situation in life where deficiency in skill, discipline or desire hamper progress toward our goal, we better make damn sure we compensate with an overabundance of excellence in other areas. In this instance, the CU Buffs, athletically are not as big, fast and strong as most of their opponents. They need to compensate with excellence in discipline and desire.

Putzier, who played seven NFL seasons, was very informative in telling listeners that, for instance, when kicking off, some CU players, once seeing the ball was not going to be returned, stopped running and headed for the bench. Meanwhile, according to Putzier, who played special teams most of his career, every member of the University of Washington Huskies’ kickoff team sprinted into the endzone, regardless of whether the ball was returned or not. It speaks to discipline and desire.

I personally witnessed, while watching the game on television before heading out, many plays in the first half where the 1-10 team committed silly penalties or carelessly turned the ball over. It speaks to discipline and football intelligence.

It should speak to each of us. Let the Buffs be our guide. When it comes to the building blocks of a successful life, would it be fair to suggest skill, discipline and desire are vital?

And could we also make the argument that IF there’s deficiency in one area it would be wise to have an overabundance in the others? The challenges before us might be winning in sports, business, family or life. It doesn’t, my opinion, matter. What matters is us. Will we muster the courage to become superior to our former selves when it comes to skill, discipline and desire?

Sometimes an overabundance ain’t such a bad thing. How about this week, we have an overabundance of traits we totally control: discipline and desire. While there is no guarantee of success, life is chock-full of examples where an overabundance of each has boosted others to - despite obstacles - play like champions. Home, work and elsewhere.  It can work for us too.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pep Talk: "Nobody Wins"

Sam Cook long ago, 1963 to be exact, sang about “It’s another Saturday night....” but for this simple dude from Missouri, it’s actually a Friday night. But I ain’t got nobody. Darling girlfriend has fled to the mountains with the Aloha Pussycats. I do have some money ‘cuz I just got paid.

I’m sitting, somewhat anxiously, at kitchen counter waiting for high-school sophomore daughter and her same-class boyfriend’s return from dinner in the neighborhood. I’m reading the paper. A few more minutes and they’ll be officially tardy. Our evening game plan consists of relaxing at the house before dropping them downtown at Pepsi Center for the Nuggets/Jazz game that starts late. It’s the second game of ESPN’s Friday-night doubleheader and doesn’t usually tip off until about 8:45pm.

My heart warms, I hear voices and footsteps. Precious princess and suitor appear. Safely in harbor, ahead of schedule! Dude’s wearing an Alex English #2 Nuggets jersey. He’s asked, “Where did English play his college ball?” He admits to not having a clue. Give the young man credit, the straight-A student did know the greatness the former University of South Carolina standout displayed during his Hall of Fame career.

Their arrival ended reading a good piece from The Denver Post’s John Wenzel. He was interviewing Aisha Tyler, an emerging multi-media star who was showing off her comedic skills over the weekend in the Mile High City. The California native is also one of the hosts of The Talk, a CBS daytime television show featuring five ladies conversing about life. Insert your own joke here. Tyler’s the new kid on the block and has meshed well with existing team members in creating a program quite popular right now. For the record, I have not seen it.

Blending well with others ain’t always an easy task. The old team is changing because of you. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. The 42-year-old Dartmouth College graduate has been accepted. The show is thriving. When asked what is the key to five women voicing opinions but respecting differences and creating the fastest-growing show on television, Tyler offered: “We don’t always agree but we don’t beat each other up when we disagree.”

Amen to that. Her thoughts bore deep into cranium. She’s right about the value of, despite differences, “not beating each other up.” Dang, life’s tough enough ain’t it? We have kids to nurture, jobs to complete, physical, emotional and financial challenges to face. It can get messy. Tyler’s correct about not beating each other up. Simple to suggest, not so easy to execute, right? Do it anyway.

Walt Weiss’ hiring as the Colorado Rockies’ sixth manager in franchise history had been the major topic of discussion earlier in the day on Mile High Sports Radio. Along with co-host Eric Goodman, producer Josh Pennock and those listening and contributing to The Odd Couple: Afternoon Drive with Mac and Goodman, much time was spent on this interesting move. The 48-year-old was a standout player for Colorado, stayed involved with the organization in a variety of coaching/scouting/leadership roles since retiring and described himself, accurately I believe during our radio interview, as “scrappy.”

Weiss, throughout his 14-year-major league career usually played for winning teams and Hall of Fame managers like Tony LaRussa and Bobby Cox. Weiss knows the wisdom of remaining unified and avoiding battles within - home, work and elsewhere. Just my opinion, but it seems damn tough to succeed anywhere in life - television show, baseball team, family, workplace - wherever - where we’re “beating each other up.”

Again, doesn’t mean we’re not gonna disagree but we gotta try like heck to respect each other. When, on the occasion, we get crossways with another, seek immediate restitution. Don’t let whatever ails, linger. Nobody wins.

Have a great week!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Pep Talk: "Squirt Water Pistols!"

When was the last time you loaded a water pistol, hid behind a bush and squirted guests arriving at your home? When was the last time you tucked yourself behind a corner of the house, or office, jumped out and scared the wits out of a loved one or fellow employee? When was the last time you, dressed in pajamas, encouraged the kids to join a midnight bug hunt in the backyard? When was the last time you had ice cream for breakfast? When was the last time you, heaven forbid, acted childish?

Those thoughts were running through my mind as I drove home steering the car with my knees - just kidding - after a night of being a presenter at the Rocky Mountain Communities 2012 gala. The non-profit organization provides attractive and affordable communities and support services for more than 2,000 people in seven locations throughout Colorado.

On this night it was honoring Arthur McDermott with the Gordon Von Stroh Service to Community Award for McDermott’s outstanding commitment, passion and wisdom in support of affordable housing. Yours truly was honored to crash the party and exalt a dear friend who has always been supportive of my endeavors. The New Jersey-born,  but Colorado-rooted, father of five, grandfather of 12 and devoted hubby of lovely bride Margaret, possesses a positive spirit. However, I didn’t realize the level of playfulness present within the fit and handsome long-time caretaker of affordable housing. Margaret, in remarks about her hubby’s devotion to family, revealed the before-mentioned antics that sparked questions kicking off this week’s Pep Talk.

The word that kept running through cranium when thinking of a frequent breakfast companion was exuberant, defined as “abounding in vigor, vitality and high spirits.” That certainly describes the Rutgers University graduate. What about us?

Would anybody describe us as “abounding in vigor, vitality and high spirits?” If not, why?

Well for one good reason, life’s unexpected, and unwanted, twists and turns that leave us wondering, “What the heck is going on around here?” have a tendency to erode childlike playfulness don’t they? For some reason McDermott, despite many challenges - divorce and real estate crashes to name a few - has been able to persevere and remain exuberant. Admirable.

It ain’t easy to be consistently positive and upbeat when physical, emotional and financial adversities threaten our well being. When the storms of life come a callin’ - and they do - perhaps an effective strategy would be to rally with others in similar situations and encourage one another to be joyful for the blessings of life, optimistic about the future and courageous despite the past.

This week, despite what ails us, let’s focus on abounding in vigor, vitality and high spirits. Squirt water pistols! Spook somebody! Eat ice cream for breakfast! Live!

It sure has worked for Arthur McDermott. A packed ballroom of admirers is proof of that. It can work for us too.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pep Talk: "Ridin' the Storm Out"

After strapping on a 38-pound weight vest, I climbed aboard the mistress, otherwise known as the StairMaster machine at Kinetics Fitness Studio. The quaint place is known as “the best gym in American; not for its spa, but its spirit.”

One of the gym’s trainers, Bijan Fathy, affectionately known as “Sergeant Carter” for his boisterous encouragement of members, flipped the nearby television to the Weather Channel and continuing coverage of Hurricane Sandy, the ferocious storm bearing down on America’s populous Atlantic seaboard.

Suddenly, and totally spontaneous, we started chatting about weather-related songs that would fit the mood. Another gym member working out nearby joined in the conversation and suddenly from Fathy’s Ipod, REO Speedwagon’s 1973 hit, Ridin’ the Storm Out, blasted into our brains. 

As the workout continued we heard The Doors’ Riders on the Storm - Jim Morrison’s last recorded song before his death - and the German heavy metal band Poison’s Rock You Like a Hurricane. Challenging our brains to remember storm-related songs made the sweat-inducing and heart pumping session go quickly.

Throughout I kept thinking of “riding the storm out” and how it applies to those in harms way from Sandy’s fury, the first responders responsible for rescuing and, when thinking about the storms of life, how we deal with them.

Riding the storm out ain’t easy. As I took step after step, watched the weather coverage and listened to the music, cranium wandered to riding the storm out of a promising athletic career dashed by injury; two painful divorces; cherished jobs eliminated, anxiety of building a small business to a sustainable level; watching loved ones suffer and perish; understanding teenage children and the plethora of other moments life has delivered, and will continue to present, requiring me to batten down the hatches and weather emotional, physical and financial fury.

Ever been there? Sure, we all have, right? For this simple dude from Missouri, faith has been the foundation to riding the storm out. But there’s more. It’s what is discussed during each and every Pep Talk I’m blessed to present about effectively dealing with adversity and turning life’s lemons - heck with lemonade - into savory margaritas: we must find the strength to learn from, not become a victim of, the experience; we must remember we’re not alone and connect with others dealing with similar challenges; once connecting we never grow weary of doing good for each other, especially encouraging one another to survive, rebuild and, let’s hope, ultimately thrive despite what ails us.

Simple to recite, not so easy to execute. Do it anyway!

REO’s, the band still tours regularly more than four decades after its Champaign, Illinois birth in 1967, sensational hit song about Mother Nature’s wrath was written while the band waited out a harsh winter blizzard following a concert in Casper, Wyoming. If, or when, storms batter your world, don’t lose hope. Heck, be like Bijan, go to You Tube, search for Ridin’ the Storm Out, listen to it, believe it and remember, “this too shall pass.”

Good luck!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pep Talk: "Toil the Soil"

I recently rang the cell phone of a dear friend who is battling breast cancer. She’s doing well and the prognosis is good but it’s a journey the devoted wife and mother of two would prefer to avoid.  The conversation moved through many areas of life. For whatever reason, my mind wandered to a moment a few years ago with this woman, her hubby - my buddy - and their kids who are like a niece and nephew to me:

It was a typical Friday evening in our Congress Park neighborhood on Denver’s near east side: I’m hanging with the neighbors, sipping some beers, visiting about the week and savoring dinner. This evening take-out Chinese was being consumed in hearty amounts – that happens when you have teenagers and invite McIntosh to dinner.

Anyway, after devouring the various delicacies we turned our attention to dessert, fortune cookies. The neighbor’s daughter, at the time, a high-school sophomore cracked open a cookie and read some wise words written on a thin strip of paper: “Life does not improve by chance. It improves by change.”

Ah, that was music to my ears and made me think of William Bridges. A former professor of English, the California-based consultant and lecturer is one of the world’s foremost experts on change and transition. His second book, The Way of Transition is one of my favorites and was tremendously helpful in the aftermath of my second painful divorce more than a decade ago.

In the book Bridges discusses his own painful experience following his beloved wife’s death from cancer. He was really struggling with her departure and was also beating himself up emotionally because he was the “change guy” but he wasn’t dealing with this change very well.

With these issues as the emotional backdrop, Bridges after speaking on the East Coast was flying back to California. It was a beautiful and clear day across America and from his window seat the Ivy-League educated change expert was glancing down on America and pondering his future. He began to notice our country’s great rivers: The Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri and how each twists and turns on its journey toward its ultimate destination. But something else warmed his marrow. Where these rivers twist and turn is where rich sediment is dropped and a large portion of our nation’s food supply is produced. In other words, the twists and turns along the river’s journey and the sediment dropped provide a fertile spot for growth!

The irony shook him more violently than unexpected turbulence. Could it be that life is often that way? That the unexpected twists and turns, while painful, ultimately can produce rich soil for us to grow into something superior to our former selves?

It takes us back to the fortune cookie: “life does not improve by chance. It improves by change.” But here’s the important point. Life will not improve by change unless we keep a healthy attitude toward it and commit to being a student, not a victim, of our experiences. We all have our stories, right? Has anybody’s life gone exactly the way you planned? I would suspect the answer to that question is, “of course not.”

Life might be taking you on some crazy twists and turns right now. The question becomes how will you handle it? Don’t forget to till the soil of change. Within it might be all the nutrients necessary for explosive and fruitful growth at home, work and elsewhere.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pep Talk: "Persevere Too"

Ever have those days when you feel like waving the white flag of surrender? Ya know, those moments when you want to toss the towel into the middle of the boxing ring of life and say, “No mas!”

Sure, we all have. Perhaps the frustration resides within health ailments, a relationship gone sour or business faltering. Maladies have unique DNA. What is common, whatever ails us, is the strategy in dealing with them. It boils down to a simple question: Will we become a victim of the circumstances of life or become a student of the experience? It’s our choice.

Recently, on a Saturday morning, within a span of one hour, I was reminded, from three different people, to the power of perseverance, defined as “persistence in the course of action especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles or discouragement.”

The opening act of this terrific trio was my mother, Patsy. We had a phone chat while I was driving the 30-minute trek from the Mile High City to Boulder, Colorado. We have developed a routine where I always call, she lives in Kansas City, Kansas, after my Friday morning men’s fellowship group. I share with her Bible verses studied by a bunch of knucklehead dudes. She then reads them aloud and mother and son discuss their meaning and how they apply to our lives. Life has not been easy for the mother of four but now, in her golden years, despite physical ailments, her mind is sharp and her mood seems content. She has persevered.

The trek to Boulder was to see a buddy who has also demonstrated the advantages of being persistent in the course of action despite difficulties, obstacles and discouragement. I’ve known John Wristen for almost 30 years. We first met long ago when I was starting my television sportscasting career in Harlingen, Texas, a major city of the Rio Grande Valley along America’s border with Mexico. Now the highly successful coach of the Colorado State University-Pueblo Thunderwolves, Wristen was an assistant football coach at Weslaco, Texas high school during the same time frame. Our paths have crossed many times since and we’ve remained close friends. His CSU-Pueblo team stayed in Boulder before its game against Colorado School of Mines in Golden and I sat in on the team’s, now ranked #1 in the nation, pre-game chapel service. The Pueblo, Colorado native has weathered many a storm, personally and professionally, to reach his current lofty status. He has persevered.

On the drive back to Denver, it was time for another chat, with my stepmother Jo Jo. She also lives in Kansas City, on the Missouri side, and is preparing for a sixth, and final, round of chemotherapy, in a battle to fight off non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Her spirits are high, the prognosis is good and as she says, “There’s light at the end of the tunnel.” The Auxvasse, Missouri native was married to my late father for almost 30 years. Life has had its share of challenges for her too, but I’ve never heard a complaint. She has persevered.

Within 60 minutes, connections with three people who have lived the definition of perseverance and demonstrated the benefits of being persistent in the course of action despite difficulties, obstacles and discouragement.

Let’s join them this week. We’ll be better for the effort. Persevere too.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pep Talk: "Memories are Reminders"

It was a lazy Saturday evening. Darling girlfriend had made a wonderful dinner and we had watched a movie, Cabin in the Woods. She complimented this simple dude from Missouri for staying awake through the bizarre flick. Trust me, it wasn’t easy. Anybody else seen the 90-minutes of mayhem? Don’t waste your time. 

Anyway, after the movie ended the Chicago native handed me her Ipad. It had a picture of a precious princess, my almost sixteen-year-old daughter Rachel at her high school homecoming dance. She looked happy.

For whatever reason, while staring at a picture of daughter getting smooched on the check by her boyfriend - that ain’t easy either - my mind wandered to many years ago. Kids grow up fast don’t they? The moment became a favorite story in my first book, Kids Teach the Darndest Things: Life Lessons from our Little Ones:

“Daddy, what’s this?” asked the seven-year-old while preparing to brush her teeth before bed. She had come into my bathroom to bum some toothpaste and was staring at a plaque, Life’s Little Instructions, that rested in the corner of my vanity. “Oh, that’s just a fun thing Daddy picked up a few years ago at a garage sale,” I responded. I must admit, it had become part of the bathroom landscape and rarely read.

Life’s Little Instructions suggests 55 ideas toward happiness, stuff like: “sing in the shower;” “treat everyone you meet like you want to be treated;” “return borrowed vehicles with the gas tank full;” Words of wisdom. Ironically, we were looking for a bedtime book for Rachel to read, so why not read all of these thought-provoking ones?

“Think big thoughts but relish small pleasures,” the second-grader zipped through most of the simple, yet profound sayings rather easily, rarely getting stuck on any fancy words, because, there weren’t many. “Wave at kids on school buses,” a young girl growing into a young woman, as I recall, really liked that one.

Toward the end of the lengthy list of sage advice, the one-time ballerina who has grown into a standout volleyball player struggled with two multi-syllabic words: “exclamation” and “explanation.” They are key words in the statement, “Live your life as an exclamation, not an explanation.”

“Daddy, what does that mean?” Rachel asked after finally learning how to pronounce the “ex” words. I pondered that while looking into two beautiful blue eyes that are windows to the soul of the “greatest girl in the whole wide world.” Finally, I offered, “Well to me, it means what I do is more important than what I say. My actions are more powerful than my words.”

She offered, “Whatever Dad!” - some things don’t change with time - finished the list and went off to bed. Well, I didn’t sleep well that evening. I kept asking myself, “Am I living my life as an exclamation or an explanation?” If I was explaining far too often instead of exclaiming, what obstacles are keeping me from shifting toward exclaiming and not explaining? It’s a question asked of self often, almost nine years later.

What about you? Do you find yourself constantly explaining why things aren’t working out so well at home, at work or with friends and loved ones? Or are you locked in the great possibilities of your life and truly exclaiming yourself?

This week let’s focus our thoughts, words and actions on things that honor, nurture and add value to the communities we serve. If we can pull that off, we’ll have little need for explanation because our healthy and productive actions, will speak far louder than any words.

A beautiful daughter is growing up. A boy smooches her cheek and she approves. A father  wonders, “Where did time go?” A maturing young woman will always be daddy’s little girl. Exclaim, not explain, life. Our memories are reminders of life’s important lessons.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pep Talk: "The Common Good"

It was a chamber of commerce fall Saturday in the Mile High City. While walking home from a morning workout at the neighborhood gym, I was lucky to strike up a conversation with an elderly man out walking his dog. “The dog’s name is Buddy. He’s 10 years old and slowing down a bit,” the wiry gent suggested. “Kinda like me, I’m 90 years old, can’t see, or hear, worth a damn but still feel pretty good.” He looked good too. I know people much younger who look much older.

We had a great chat in our ten minutes together. I learned Dick Foster was a veteran. He served in World War II as a Navy fighter pilot. “I was all ready to fight, then we dropped the atomic bomb and they told our aircraft carrier to turn around and head back home.” 

The conversation then switched to golf and the 2012 Ryder Cup matches and shared adoration for the teamwork displayed by the golfers and patriotism exhibited by the fans. “I love watching our American pro golfers encouraging each other and the fans going crazy chanting USA....USA....USA!”

The Nonagenarian’s enthusiasm was infectious. Canine companion Buddy began to bark and wag his tail vigorously while I began to remember other recent reminders of the power of like-minded people coming together for the common good.

I told the Denver native about another guy devoted to bringing others together for the common good, Kiwanis International Rocky Mountain District Governor Jack Schwartz. “I believe in proceeding until apprehended,” says the Montana native determined to transform a century-old organization that, like most service groups, struggles to attract younger members these days. “Our average age is 65-years-old. Kiwanis needs to adapt its strategy and spend less time meeting and more time doing in our mission to change the world one child and one community at a time.” 

We were nearing my new-found friend’s Cherry Creek North residence but I still had time to share one more story about like-minded folks coming together for the common good. Former University of Colorado football players featured in an inspirational video imploring the current Buffaloes to not lose heart despite a disappointing start to their season. The video displayed grown men crying recalling the hard work and sacrifice, but great satisfaction, derived from fighting, in their Buff years, to the finish and the joy of singing the school fight song after every victory. I had the honor of introducing the video at a recent CU pep rally. Foster smiled broadly at that story, “I love the Buffs.”

It was time to say goodbye. We agreed to try and meet soon at a nearby coffee shop and continue conversing. Elder man and his best friend went one way, I another, with something pounding in my heart: the importance, and power, of rallying with others and pouring heart and soul into endeavors benefiting the common good. 

This week, let’s search our hearts, find a cause, find a group and find the resolve to serve - home, work and elsewhere. It will require, in some combination, sacrifice of time, talent and treasure. That’s okay. Even if we don’t live to be a Nonagenarian like Foster, whenever we exit we’ll know we’ve lived well for the common good.

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