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!

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